Romania shrugs off label of Europes poor man as economy booms

Since it joined the EU in 2007, government economic measures and communist-era educational excellence have spurred rapid growth

At a sleek new office in the heart of Bucharest, Fitbit co-founder and chief executive James Park explains why the smartwear giant is rapidly expanding its operations in Romania and following the lead of a host of multinationals. The tech talent here is amazing. Romania and other countries in central and eastern Europe have great existing talent, and also great universities, he says.

The US company, which bought Romanian smartwatch brand Vector Watches for a reported $15m (11.4m) late last year, and has tripled its staff in Romania since, has just opened its largest research and development centre outside the US, in the Romanian capital. Its not alone: in recent years, major global companies such as Siemens, Ford and Bosch have set up or expanded operations in Romania, boosting an economy thats already growing at speed.

While many see Romania as a country of migrants flocking abroad to find work, back home the economy is booming. The services sector is expanding at pace, along with exports and manufacturing. Meanwhile, private consumption from clothes to furniture and cars hit a nine-year high in 2016, and increased a further 8% in the first half of this year.

The economy grew 5.7% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017, the fastest rate in the EU, where the average growth rate was 2.4%. This was on the back of a GDP rise of 4.8% in 2016 and 3.9% in 2015; during the same period the UK economy grew by a more placid 1.8% and 2.2%. According to the International Monetary Fund, Romanias economy is expected to grow by 5.5% for the whole of 2017.

The tech sector, in particular, is expanding fast, built on a communist-era legacy of excellence in science, mathematics and technical education, as well as Romanias strong language skills, which have long made it a hub for IT outsourcing. While the Romanian languages Latin roots have helped explained the countrys linguistic skills, some suggest it was a decision to subtitle rather than dub foreign programming on television that boosted foreign language exposure and proficiency.

According to industry insiders, the tech sector which employs about 150,000 people is expected to double its share of GDP to 12% by 2025, aided by one of the fastest broadband internet speeds in the world (behind only Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Iceland).

Elsewhere, Ford has announced plans to hire almost 1,000 workers for its plant in Craiova, 180km west of the capital, adding to its current workforce of 2,715. The automotive giant has invested more than 1.2bn (1.1bn) in its Romanian manufacturing operations since 2008. Renault-owned Dacia, a former communist state-owned giant, remains the countrys largest company based on revenue, with a turnover of 4.1bn in 2016. Joining the EU in 2007 clearly had an impact, while more recent government measures have also boosted the economy.

The government in 2015 decided to cut taxation for consumption, says Ionut Dumitru, chief economist at Raiffeisen Bank Romania and chairman of Romanias fiscal council. They cut VAT from 24% to 20%, and now 19%, and extended the reduced VAT rate for food and some other items. This was a very strong stimulus for consumption.

The government has also doubled the minimum wage in four years. And its not only the minimum wage that has increased a lot, but also public sector wages.

Wages in Romania remain far below the EU average, making it an enticing option for outsourcing; the minimum monthly wage is currently around 283 only Bulgarias is lower within the EU.

However, lower wages have stopped many Romanians returning home, leaving companies short of workers in 2016, the unemployment rate dropped to an historic low of 5.9% compared with an EU average of 8.6%, amid predictions it will drop to 5.4% this year.

Uncertainty over Brexit is having an impact, with companies looking at alternatives within the EU in case the UK pursues an exit that restricts trade.

Were getting inquiries from UK companies on a weekly basis since the referendum, says Shajjad Rizvi, the director of the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce in the northern city of Cluj, one of the largest tech centres in central and eastern Europe.

We are seeing global companies hedging their bets, in case tariffs are not favourable or something else, and Romania is one of the choices they are looking at, he adds. Software companies, a lot are doubling or tripling their workforces in Romania, and a lot of those jobs are coming from the UK. Whole departments: marketing, PR, HR; they are being closed down in the UK and moved out here.

But there are also serious challenges. Romania has long been considered one of the most corrupt nations in the EU. Despite progress, there are still major concerns. In February, the country experienced the largest protests in decades after the government pushed through legislation that would have effectively decriminalised low-level corruption. The government backed down, but has yet to regain public trust.

Transportation infrastructure is also poor. Romania came 128 out of 138 countries for the quality of its road infrastructure in the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report; the railway system, which is old and slow, came in slightly better at 79. There are only 747km of motorway in the whole country.

There is also concern about the rising deficit. In 2016 the government deficit the gap between state income and spending rose to 3% of GDP, up from 0.8% in 2015, due to increased spending and tax cuts. The main concern for the economy is the fiscal situation, says Raiffeisens Dumitru. The deficit is under pressure.

Even so, Romanias economy looks set to continue to expand in the near future. Its hard to sustain more than 5% growth, says Dumitru. Most analysts are predicting closer to 4% for next year. But even 4% will probably be one of the highest growth rates in Europe, so its not bad at all.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/14/romania-economy-booming

Rep. Mark Walker talks offsetting disaster relief costs

This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” October 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, “YOUR WORLD” HOST: Mark Walker joins us now, the North Carolina congressman, House Republican Study Committee chairman.

Congressman, I know there’s a limit obviously to how much we can do.

And the president wasn’t extracting or taking away any funds from Puerto Rico or anyone else.

But given the sheer number of storms and disasters and now the fires we’re dealing with, we have got to have a better way to deal with this. Right? What do you think?

REP. MARK WALKER, R-NORTH CAROLINA: We do.

We have got to make sure we’re offsetting this. We can’t be complaining for eight years of the previous administration for funding, whether it’s relief bills or what have you.

We’re — we’re very compassionate people. But just on the lines that you were just talking about with the president, we have got 17,000 troops right now in Puerto Rico. We’re there to protect those American citizens.

But, at some point, we do have to begin to transition back where — where there’s — the responsibility component kicks in.

CAVUTO: So when you here the San Juan mayor complaining, as she often has, even though the Puerto Rico governor was here and saying the aid, the soldiers, the support has been more than forthcoming, he’s more than satisfied, says it is going to be a long and tough slide through all of this, how do you feel about the mixed messages you’re getting?

WALKER: Well, I know this.

I have only been a politician for a little less than three years. And I have realized that some people are about attention, and some people are about the cause. And you learn to live with that, whether it’s here in Washington, D.C., or whether it’s a mayor like that.

A lot of times, the people are trying just to promote themselves, as opposed to the overall cause and the relief that is needed.

CAVUTO: So, I guess what I’m asking now, given we don’t have any tabs yet certainly on the California fires — it’s still too early, I guess, Congressman — but we know it’s probably going to be expensive.

We do know already from Puerto Rico and Texas and Florida and all the other storms in and around that it’s already been expensive. So, how do we offset, let’s say conservatively, the $100 billion that many peg as a minimum figure? Some go as high as $200 billion.

How is that offset? A lot of Democrats, for example, seize on this and say, well, you shouldn’t be giving big old tax cuts. You say what?

WALKER: Well, I say this.

We have places where we can reprioritize that spending. We have got things like Obamacare marketing and advertising. There’s billions of dollars there. We have still got fraud places that we’re already adding up this past year in the House of Congress.

There are places. Now, it takes intentionality and it takes the will of Congress to be able to reprioritize this money. But we can’t say on one hand that there’s been a problems — problem with the deficit and debt that continues to spiral even under the watch of the 115th Congress.

We can’t fuss about it for the eight previous years, and not be doing diligence about it now.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, thank you very much. We will watch closely.

Crazy times. Mother Nature.

WALKER: Thank you. Absolutely.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2017/10/12/rep-mark-walker-talks-offsetting-disaster-relief-costs.html

James Comey confirms he’s ‘Reinhold Niebuhr’ in the strangest possible way

(CNN)President Donald Trump fired his FBI director, in part, for being a “showboat,” which didn’t ring true given James Comey’s reputation as a standup G-Man and his commitment, even in the midst of his own political peril, for antagonizing both sides of the aisle.

Witness: Comey is “Reinhold Niebuhr.” This we now know for sure after the former FBI director capped off a series of cryptic tweets with a photo of himself from the account that has long been suspected as his nom de plume.
The world has suspected that the Reinhold Niebuhr account, now with the handle @FormerBu, was Comey since the end of March, before he was fired, when Gizmodo writer Ashley Feinberg published a rather incredible bit of Internet sleuthing/snooping/stalking that tied the account to him. (Note: When Feinberg wrote her story, the account handle was @projectexile7 but has since been changed to @FormerBu.) The Reinhold Niebuhr name has stayed constant, however. Niebuhr, an American theologian, was a subject of Comey’s college thesis.
    Regardless, the messages Comey has tweeted over the past few days to emerge, unmasked, as Reinhold Niebuhr are bizarre and interesting.
    There have only been six tweets total from Comey’s account, so let’s examine each one.
    First, back in March, after Feinberg’s story, there was a tweet with a meme of Will Ferrell from the movie “Anchorman” and the text: “Actually, I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.” (It was amazing how Feinberg tied the account to him, by the way.) The post also linked to the FBI job site. That was viewed at the time as a tacit admission that the account was his. He had said not long before that he was on Twitter but didn’t advertise his account.
    OK. After that one tweet, Reinhold Niebuhr goes dark for a long stretch of months, during which Comey undergoes some life changes. Namely, he was fired by Trump, testified before Congress, started writing a book. Got a very mixed reception at Howard University. You know the rest.
    But then on October 18 comes a random tweet from West Point of a kayaker on the Hudson River in New York. What’s that about?
    The next day, a picture of Little Round Top in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and some musings on leadership. OK. Side note: Read a bit about Union Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s heroic counterattack and how he saved the US army from the Confederates at Little Round Top.
    Reinhold Niebuhr then goes from Gettysburg to Iowa. And there’s a photo on October 20 of a tall man with black hair in a field of tall corn stalks at sunset. This is by far the best photo of the series.
    A day later, a flock of pelicans and a mention of Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer.
    You’ve probably heard part of the serenity prayer, by the way. It begins like this:
    God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
    And on Monday, the great reveal. Sort of. The account posted a new photo from Iowa of Comey standing in the middle of a deserted, rolling road in the pastoral countryside.
    But it is, undoubtedly, a strange enough photo to launch a new conspiracy theory or two. Why is Comey in Iowa? Why is he standing in this strange manner in the middle of the road, looking into the distance at something we can’t see? Did he look both ways? Why these three states?
    Is this a marketing strategy for his new book? Maybe, but it’s a little bit early because the book isn’t expected until next spring. Given the time in Iowa, is he running for president? Can’t imagine it from Comey. Some kind of Field of Dreams thing? Who knows. We’ll let you know if he tells us any more.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/23/politics/james-comey-twitter-account-reinhold-niebuhr/index.html

    ‘ICU Grandpa’ cradles babies when their parents can’t

    Atlanta (CNN)With the preemie cradled in his arms, the retiree glanced toward the entrance of the pediatric intensive care unit.

    The child’s mother stood at the door, David Deutchman later recalled. She’d gone home to take care of her older daughter, all the while worrying about the baby boy whom she’d left the previous night at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital. Now she was back.
    “Who are you?” the mother asked, peering at this stranger holding her swaddled son, life-sustaining wires taped to his tiny cheek.
      “I’m the ICU grandpa,” Deutchman replied.
      A photo posted Friday morning on Children’s Facebook page shows Deutchman holding Logan, the sleeping infant, who was born at 25 weeks. Within hours, the post had been shared more than 160,000 times.

      From board rooms to bear hugs

      After retiring from his job as an international marketing executive in 2000, Deutchman became a guest lecturer at Atlanta-area universities, mostly Georgia Tech and Emory, he said. But it didn’t fill enough of his time.
      As he left a rehab appointment for a leg injury, Deutchman stopped into Children’s nearby.
      “I decided to walk in there, just wondering if they had volunteer opportunities,” he told CNN. “They did, and they were happy to take me on board.”
      With experience at the helm of a classroom, Deutchman first went to work in the hospital’s school for long-term patients. Then one day, he was startled by encounters with two patients’ mothers.
      “I went to help escort a child to the school room, and the mom said she’s going into surgery,” Deutchman said. “She followed me into the hallway and proceeded to tell me every detail of the child’s condition and what’s going on.”
      Awed that the mom told a virtual stranger all about her child’s condition, he then saw another mother walking out of the pediatric intensive care unit, looking upset. Her son had been flown to the hospital the previous night, she said, and his condition was dire.
      “She comes into my arms and starts crying,” Deutchman said. “After that day, I went to the volunteer office and told them, ‘I now know what I want to do at the hospital.'”

      Comfort and warmth

      Now, twice a week, Deutchman spends the day in the pediatric and neonatal ICUs, holding babies and helping their parents.
      “Sometimes I get puked on, I get peed on. It’s great,” he says in a video posted by Children’s.
      Deutchman’s friends ask why he’d put up with that.
      “They just don’t get it, the kind of reward you can get from holding a baby like this,” he says.
      Cradling fragile babies has been shown to improve their health, said Elizabeth Mittiga, a NICU nurse at Children’s.
      “It definitely helps just feeling that comfort, that warmth,” Mittiga said in recorded remarks provided to CNN by the hospital. “It definitely helps them to, I think, grow faster and put more weight on, and feeding-wise, can help them digest their feeds better and things like that.”
      Some children Deutchman meets don’t have promising prognoses.
      “Some leave with developmental disabilities and lifelong special needs,” he told CNN. “And that’s tough. That’s a memory that’s not necessarily a positive one.”

      Newfound fame

      The best cases end with kids who go home healthy — and grow up strong.
      “The good times have been spending six months with a family, and the kid had ups and downs, and the kid came out great,” he said. “Now the kid is 4 or 5 years old and is terrific. Those are the stories I love.”
      With his new social media fame, Deutchman has been reliving those stories, as thousands of parents have commented on the photo of him with Logan, reminiscing about the times the ICU Grandpa held their child.
      “It was very worthwhile doing,” he said. “It was important doing.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/29/health/icu-grandpa-childrens-hospital-trnd/index.html

      Dove apologises for ad showing black woman turning into white one

      Brand says it missed mark after being accused of racism in campaign promoting body lotion

      Dove has apologised after publishing an advert on its Facebook page which showed a black woman turning into a white woman.

      The brand was accused of racism over the online advertising campaign and it later admitted it had missed the mark with an image posted on Facebook.

      The advert showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman underneath supposedly after using Dove body lotion.

      Habeeb Akande (@Habeeb_Akande)

      Dove apologised for ‘racist’ Facebook advert showing a black woman turning white after using @Dove lotion. pic.twitter.com/NGXyhnGuBZ

      October 8, 2017

      The campaign has since been removed from Facebook but was shared by Naomi Blake, an American makeup artist who goes by the name Naythemua.

      So Im scrolling through Facebook and this is the #dove ad that comes up ok so what am I looking at, she wrote as the caption.

      Under the post, she was asked if people would be offended if the white woman had turned into a black woman. She said: Nope, we wouldnt and thats the whole point. What does America tell black people? That we are judged by the color of our skin and that includes what is considered beautiful in this country.

      She added that Doves marketing team should have known better and said the tone deafness in these companies makes no sense.

      Following the removal of the advert, Dove, which is owned by Unilever, tweeted: An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offence it caused.

      In a further statement Dove said: As a part of a campaign for Dove body wash, a three-second video clip was posted to the US Facebook page.

      This did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.

      We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence that it has caused.

      However the damage was done and the nearly 3,000 comments below the tweet were almost exclusively negative. Many social media users called for a boycott of Doves products.

      A Soldier of the Art (@SelinaNBrown)

      ENOUGH!
      IS ENOUGH!@Dove Needs to be an example of black boycott worldwide!!!
      They need to see the power of the black and brown money power

      October 7, 2017

      Ava DuVernay, the director of the film Selma, was one of many prominent people to criticise both the advert and the apology. She said on Twitter: You can do better than missed the mark. Flip + diminishing. Deepens your offence. You do good work. Have been for years. Do better here.

      The trans model Munroe Bergdorf, who recently was at the centre of a racism row with LOreal, tweeted to say: Diversity is viewed as a buzzword or a trend. An opportunity to sell product to women of colour. Dove Do better.

      Others pointed out this was not the first time the company has been accused of racism. In 2011 Doves before-and-after advert charted the transition of a black woman to a white woman after using its body wash.

      Keith Boykin (@keithboykin)

      Okay, Dove…
      One racist ad makes you suspect.
      Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty. pic.twitter.com/hAwNCN84h2

      October 8, 2017

      At the time, Dove said in a statement: All three women are intended to demonstrate the after product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/08/dove-apologises-for-ad-showing-black-woman-turning-into-white-one

      Trump at private dinner on NFL feud: ‘It’s really caught on’

      Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump sounded very satisfied with his recent remarks on patriotism and the NFL in a dinner with conservative group leaders at the White House Monday night, according to a person who attended the event.

      “It’s really caught on. It’s really caught on,” Trump said of his NFL comments to attendees at the dinner, according to someone who attended. “I said what millions of Americans were thinking.”
      “You could really tell he was satisfied,” this person in the room said about the President’s comments.
        Trump was referencing his crusade over the weekend in which he harshly criticized players who kneel during the national anthem. Many players who have done so have said they are protesting police brutality.
        Two distinct issues are driving the national debate: Believing players should stand during National Anthem and the question of whether it’s appropriate for a president to make an issue of it.
        At the dinner, Trump also lashed at at GOP Sen. John McCain and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to the source.
        Trump described McCain, who said he won’t support the latest GOP effort on health care, as a “disgrace” on the issue, the attendee said.
        As for Sessions, Trump again said the attorney general should not have recused himself in the Russia investigation.
        “You can tell he still has disdain for this guy,” the attendee told CNN about Sessions. “The room was a little uncomfortable. He really pounded him.”
        On tax reform, Trump offered some marketing advice for the attendees at the dinner.
        “Just call it tax cuts,” Trump said, arguing that’s how to explain the issue to everyday Americans.
        “It sounds convoluted” when you call it tax reform, the person at the dinner quoted Trump as saying.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/26/politics/trump-nfl-comments-mccain-sessions-private-dinner/index.html

        How I Went From Working A Desk Job To Publishing A Poetry Book In 4 Years

        Four years ago I was 27 and working at a marketing job that was okay. By “okay” I mean it gave me a salary that paid for my rent and my student loans and not much else. I graduated college with a degree in philosophy which I loved but which gave me low expectations about the working world and my place in it and I kind of thought that was the best I could hope for. Today my first poetry collection, (it’s really good, you should buy it) came out and I want to talk about how I got from there to here the way I desperately wish more writers would talk about how they got from there to here.

        The tl;dr version is going to be that I spent a lot of hours working on it and that I got lucky. One secret of being successful at writing is that it’s not really a secret how to be successful at writing.

        Writing blog posts on bar napkins on (week) nights out:

        The long version is that I was bored at my day job. My brain was bored. My best friend’s brain was bored at her job. We met in logic class four years earlier and had spent those years in the philosophy department getting close the way being women in a very male dominated program and questioners in a very religious school will force you to be. We each found a person that was supposed to help us through the dark and we got through the dark by writing truth tables about boys we liked and passing notes in class. This was the foundation we decided to build a project upon, something to make us not feel like our minds were wasting away now that we no longer had classes to go to and papers to write.

        We started a blog about existentialism and dating and called it because we wanted everyone to know that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. For the next few years we’d sit on her living room floor — macbooks open, unlidded plastic handle of vodka at the ready — and write funny intellectualized takes about everyday issues for two twenty-something girls: music, boys, going out, alcohol, and occasionally some trending topics like whether Aaron Sorkin was a philosophic nightmare for being vegan but having a leather couch or something. This was work we did after our full-time jobs (and to be clear, we were in our early 20’s so we each had a second full-time job, which was going out) and we produced a handful of posts a week. There’s two things I want to point out about this:

        1. My co-blogger and I are now both at jobs we got because of the work we put into our website. She had professional experience that helped her land her fancy boutique agency job, but she made the contact through our site. I think the person who let her know of the opening cold emailed us to see if we’d be interested in partnering on an outside project and we all became friends when we met up for brunch. One of the best things in the world is being at a table eating a meal with a big group of creative people.

        I was hired at Thought Catalog because I made friends with the managing editor Brandon Gorrell via the comments section and then he started syndicating our work, which is how I met the owner of the site and after awhile I became a freelancer and then he offered me a staff writer position without knowing me very well or asking for a resume or any normal HR thing. I think he just liked that I wrote about how I don’t like atheism but I do like dick. That’s range! Which leads me to:

        2. You have to do your own thing. Some other people had done the “lol philosophy” thing, but not in a way that at all resonated with my friend and I. They were basic and safe takes and we just wanted to be our inappropriate, irreverent selves. We were a blue ocean.

        This helped. It helped us seem “real” to our followers who felt a lot of ownership over the site. Tumblr took notice. They put us on their featured page as a “funny” blog which helped us get a lot of followers (350k), which helped us be noticed by other people. We talked to an agent at ICM about representing us and then eventually we did a book with Thought Catalog which became a kindle single.

        A really frustrating thing I see constantly at my job is really talented writers who spend all their talent trying to be someone else. For every era of talented writers we have at TC, we have an era of contributors who (wrongly!!) think they need to be just like them in order to succeed. We hired Marisa and Rania because they had such a strong presence and made popular a type of writing we hadn’t seen a lot on the site before Brianna Wiest. Now we have endless second person inspirational/love essays. Which are GOOD when they are good, but generally the second person is a difficult way to draw people in. I miss zany first person essays. I’m hungry for anything voice-y on the site and when I see something I send it to the homepage immediately. I don’t want to disparage these articles at all, it just makes me sad that it seems like this is what everyone who wants to build a presence on the site feels like it’s what they have to do, when being themselves would stand out so much more.

        I also want to be honest about what went into my own presence on the site.

        I want to say very clearly that writers often do not have the enviable lives people perceive them to have. Most people I know don’t deal with the emotional highs and lows the really good writers I know do. If people are beautiful in their pain it is because they first have pain. My co-blogger and I had some traumatic experiences in college, and we weren’t popular. In the years we worked on our blog together, the tone was fun and playful but the posts were about boys who didn’t love us back and not fitting into our families the way we thought we were supposed to and the kind of existential insecurity that happens when you lose your religion and have to build all the structures in your life up from scratch. Plus, we were just sensitive girls with anxiety and A Lot of feelings about stuff.

        Peep the floor of HQ at any given time:

        I meet a lot of people who want to quit their jobs to write which seems crazy to me. I had a full time job and I went out all the time and sometimes I also had a part-time job on top of that and I still wrote regularly because I got a lot of joy out of writing, which is what made it good. If it’s not fun to do as a hobby — it’s a skill based trade and the you put into it is going to translate to something that’s not very fun to read. Creators are different, some people just can’t create something every day. That’s fine, but they shouldn’t take a job that relies on them having to be creative every day. (I’ve seen people take jobs that rely on them being creative everyday and then complain that no one should be expected to be creative everyday). Some people are more prolific than others. J.D. Salinger only gave us a few books, Agatha Christie gave us dozens. Everyone is trying to be someone else and the really successful people are trying to be as “them” as they can possibly be. I get worried people are wasting their talent trying to be someone else. Or trying to prove something.

        You don’t have to write full-time to be a writer. A full-time writing job is not a magic bullet that will make you suddenly enjoy writing or have the ability to finish your novel if you don’t already have the drive to do those things. If you can’t write regularly with a full-time job, will you be able to write regularly when you quit? You might be able to write, but there’s also the question of whether you’ll be good. And if you’re good, there’s also the question of whether you’ll bring in enough readers to make money. In a lot of ways, not having to make money from your writing can be freeing.

        When I started writing for money I was working constantly to learn how to bring in readers and often my poetry or my “real” writing still felt like a side project. I know a lot of freelancers feel this way!

        I also think there is a lot of pressure to have success early on and be a prodigy, but there’s a relief to the way you notice yourself getting better through the years. I surroud myself with reading and writing and creating because I want to live and breathe those things and be the best at them that I can be. In the years I was writing poetry that would become I was also hosting a poetry night with my friend Nicole where poets in our city would gather and read their own work along with lines from the greats. I was living and breathing the work I was creating. I think this is necessary because what I was doing felt original and I was in community with so many other creators. It helped me understand my style in contrast to everyone else’s. Here’s my friend Chris reading “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton:

        A special moment of the dark moon salon care of @krystofurv

        A post shared by Chrissy Stockton (@x.lane.s) on

        As I grew my catalog of poetry, I was inspired and emboldened by this group. I knew I had my own style that was different from the other poets in the group:

        my fav 💕 #wearealljustacollectionofcords #poetryofinstagram #elliottsmith #hume

        A post shared by Chrissy Stockton (@x.lane.s) on

        I also had the unique privilege of being connected to the book publishing arm of Thought Catalog and knowing they would be ready to help me when I had something to publish. When I turned in a manuscript it had been over a decade since I took a poetry writing course in college and wrote my first poem. In that decade I worked a lot of non-writing full-time and part-time jobs, but I never stopped doing what I wanted to do even when I became lucky enough to do it for pay. The constant is that I to write and that I myself to write. The constant is that I wrote.

        Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/christine-stockton/2017/10/how-i-went-from-working-a-desk-job-to-publishing-a-poetry-book-in-4-years/

        Hospitals in chocolate crackdown

        Image copyright Alamy

        “Super-sized” chocolate bars are to be banished from hospital shops, canteens and vending machines, NHS England says.

        Sweets and chocolate sold in hospitals should be 250 calories or under, the head of the body says.

        Under the plans, most “grab bags” will be banned – with hospitals given a cash boost for facilitating the change.

        The proposals would also see 75% of pre-packed sandwiches coming in at under 400 calories.

        Pre-packed savoury meals and sandwiches must also contain no more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.

        And 80% of the drinks stocked must have less than 5g of added sugar per 100ml.

        Hospital 'super-size&#39 chocolate ban

        250

        calorie limit for sweets and chocolate sold in hospitals

        • 400 calorie limit for 75% of pre-packed sandwiches

        • 5g limit of saturated fat per 100g in meals

        • 5g limit of added sugar per 100ml in drinks

        • 54% NHS staff estimated to be overweight or obese

        Reuters

        ‘Obesity epidemic’

        In April, NHS England said it would ban sugary drinks if hospital outlets did not cut down on the number they sell.

        Simon Stevens said the NHS was “stepping up” to combat an issue that was causing “an epidemic of obesity, preventable diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer”.

        “In place of calorie-laden, sugary snacks we want to make healthier food an easy option for hospital staff, patients and visitors.”

        NHS staff are also being targeted as part of the move to tackle unhealthy eating, including those on overnight shifts.

        It is estimated that nearly 700,000 of the NHS’s 1.3million staff are overweight or obese.

        NHS premises have huge footfall from the communities they serve, with one million patients every 24 hours.

        The Royal Voluntary Service, the biggest hospital retailer across the UK, said it had already begun introducing healthier choices and had seen fruit sales go up by a quarter.

        Public Health England says hospitals have an “important role” in addressing obesity and not just dealing with the consequences.

        Campaigners says more action is till needed.

        Helen Dickens from Diabetes UK said: “We look forward to seeing more information on how it will work in practice.

        “However this is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to tackling obesity. We need to go much further, which is why we are also calling for the Government to toughen restrictions on junk food marketing to children, end price promotions on unhealthy foods and introduce mandatory front of pack food labelling.”

        A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We restricted the sale of chocolate bars and other sugary products from vending machines in Welsh hospitals nine years ago. We’re pleased NHS England is now looking to follow our lead.”

        How many calories?

        • A 51g Mars bar contains 230kcal
        • A 48g Snickers chocolate bar contains 245kcal
        • A 45g Cadbury Dairy Milk bar contains 240kcal, while a 119g bag of Cadbury Diary Milk Giant Buttons contains over 535kcal
        • A 93g Maltesers Pouch contains nearly 470kcal
        • A 190g of Haribo Tangfastic contains nearly 660kcal
        • A 140g M&Ms Peanut Pouch contains nearly 720kcal
        • A 200g packet of Milk Chocolate Eclairs contains around 900kcal

        Related Topics

        Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41630681

        Florida’s ‘chainsaw nun’ inspires new beer

        You’ve seen the nun. Now drink the beer.

        It became one of the iconic images of Florida’s attempt to bounce back from Hurricane Irma: A nun using a chainsaw to help cut down a fallen tree.

        The video, shot Sept. 12 by members of the Miami-Dade Police Department, quickly went viral. And it made a minor celebrity out of Sister Margaret Ann, principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School in southwest Miami-Dade County.

        She became the embodiment of the state’s “We can get through this” spirit.

        Now, Due South Brewing Company in Boynton Beach, Fla., is hoping to cash in on the nun’s popularity by launching “Nun with a Chainsaw” beer.

        No, Sister Margaret Ann has no ties to the product – and her image doesn’t appear on the 16-ounce cans. (They’re bright blue, with the words “a chainsaw” in a red, horror-movie-style font.)

        “We’re having fun with it, for sure,” Doug Fairall, marketing manager for the brewery, told SouthFlorida.com. “But it was a serious event that took place here. She symbolized us all being brought out of our element to do what had to be done.

        “It’s a very South Florida thing with hurricanes and storms. We all have to act like her.”

        The beer, which went on sale Friday, is also available in draft, the Miami Herald reported.

        Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/22/floridas-chainsaw-nun-inspires-new-beer.html

        You Have To Find Your There


        dpc_photography_

        A few years ago, I was asked to work on a book project for a blogger and internet entrepreneur in the finance space. This was a person with an enormous list and a very successful business. They had more than 100,000 email subscribers, and from the paying subscribers they had created a business worth several million dollars annually.

        As I sat down and read the emails and articles that this site created, looking for the bones we’d build a book around, I quickly ran into a problem: this person was not actually saying anything at all.

        The emails were very compelling, don’t misunderstand. They sucked me from sentence to sentence, paragraph break to paragraph break, and then from one article to the next. They were in fact brilliantly written. I just could not figure out what this person was actually selling. The best I could come up with, after really digging into it, for hours and hours, was that the entire premise of this person’s pitch was: Buy options on stocks that go up in value.

        Now, I’m certainly a proponent of simplicity and I will grant that often the most powerful messages are the most obvious ones, but that’s not what was happening here. Skilled copywriting and marketing was covering up an undeniable fact: There was basically nothing there. And as a result, it didn’t matter how big the email list was, how great a marketer the owner was, there was not much in the way of a book there. Because a book is about something.

        In the short term, this had worked well for him. It kept people coming back subscribed to the emails, thinking that eventually the secrets were going to be revealed. In truth that was never going to happen. It was one of those situations that Gertrude Stein famously said, one where there is no there there.

        It’s great to know your why, but if you haven’t nailed down your there, as in, what the hell is this?, that’s a big problem. One that you can only cover for with marketing or being ahead of the curve technologically for so long.

        Much of the work that’s created online falls into this category. It’s not that Lele Pons or Amanda Cerny or Logan Paul aren’t funny. Humor is subjective. It’s that there is genuinely nothing there. When one watches their work, you can’t help but feel, as Marc Maron perfectly described, that you are actually being assaulted by a lack of talent. To paraphrase a burn from a classic New York Times piece, while it’s true that less is more, some sadly set new standards of lessness, and actually bask in the void of lessness.

        This is not a criticism of the entire medium or generation, of course. If you watch Jerry Seinfeld’s interview with the YouTuber Colleen Ballinger (Miranda Sings), you see that outside the context of her medium (short-form DIY YouTube videos), she’s able to improvise, exhibit a mastery of her character, and keep up with another quick mind. Or if you look at the work of Kirby Jenner, you see that in addition to being truly skilled at photoshop and hitting the same Kardashians joke over and over, he can apply his absurd and strange humor in his stories. Even Tank Sinatra, who built his account mostly in popularizing other internet humor (or tweaking existing constructs and established memes), can make solid jokes on Twitter and create memes of his own (see a good interview with him here). The same goes for Casey Neistat’s videos. He’s not the biggest by any means, but he’s actually doing real work, so he will almost certainly outlast most of his peers.

        This critique is not limited to art, it’s true for people too. The person who says their passion is social entrepreneurship but builds nothing and cares about no one. The person who pontificates about every political and cultural issue they can but never departs from a party line or leaves a virtue unsignaled. There is nothing actually there. And they wonder why they never accomplish anything. One of the ironies of Donald Trump, of course, is that a portion of the population responded to him because he seemed authentic and real and stood for things. In fact, he was a crazy mess of contradictions and this allowed him to provoke that reaction from all sorts of different people on different issues. But he was able to win because his opponent, someone far more qualified for the office, could not, for the life of her, give a compelling answer to the question:Why are you running for president?”

        Without a there, what is there? There is nothing.

        And yet this is the strategy that most people allow to guide their work and their lives.

        Pete Carroll, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, talks often about the moment that he realized that he didn’t actually have a coaching philosophy. He had, up until that point, just been winging it—doing a little of this, a little of that, changing for each situation. How old was he when he figured that out? 49! (Thank God he did figure it out—and within 14 years he’d won a national championship and a Super Bowl).

        It’s essential that we cultivate this ability to stop and look objectively at our own work. One must step back from it and say: Am I really doing good work here? What do I stand for? Am I actually moving towards mastery? Is there any substance to what I am doing?

        I know this is not easy to do. I’ve resisted it too. There’s a story I’ve told before, but I’ll do it again: Early in my career, a piece I did on Stoicism took off and I got some interest from a small, hybrid publishing house about turning it into a book. “This would be a great book,” they said, “Many of our clients turn articles like this into books and then speaking careers.” Of course, I was flattered and excited. It was only by the intervention of Robert Greene, a real writer and a mentor of mine, who pushed me to decline. “You’re not ready,” he said. “Put in the work to develop yourself and in a few years you will be capable of actually doing this book at the level it deserves to be done.” He was right. There was not much there there, for me yet. When I looked at the material, I saw that I only had enough for a few chapters.

        Now I could have paid to have someone help me work around that weakness. Or I could have, with my marketing abilities and platform, found a way to gloss over it. I am fortunate that I didn’t do this—that someone told me “Fuck your dreams” politely enough that I sobered up. Because if I had, that book would not have gone on to sell a half million copies the way that The Obstacle Is The Way did, and it would not have made its way through the NFL, through the US Senate, or to the CEOs and executives and celebrities that it has. That only happens when there is something actually there.

        People often think that ego is helpful because it makes people ambitious. It makes them confident that they can succeed where so many others have failed. This might be true, but more often it’s toxic for precisely the reasons that I have outlined above. To make work that actually sells—that is perennial and important and meaningful—requires humility and dedication. It requires the objectivity and awareness that is made impossible with ego. Ego wants big numbers, not hard work. It wants to be everything for everyone, and often ends up being nothing for nobody.

        The client above thought I could slap together a book—but I couldn’t. No one could. And he didn’t like hearing it when I told him that to succeed as a writer outside of his niche (where he was admittedly quite successful), it would require real work. It would require abandoning the crutches of medium. They didn’t, and that’s fine. Their choice.

        But if you want to do meaningful and important work you have to push yourself toward substance, stretch your capacities until they are no longer such a stretch. If you want to be a person who people respect, you have to stand for something. Not everyone will like it, but if it’s sincere, they will respect it.

        You have to find your there.

        Because without it, what are you?

        Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2017/10/you-have-to-find-your-there/