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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Here’s Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion

Here’s Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion


Here’s Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:58 AM PDT

Emily Letts works as an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, so when she herself got unexpectedly pregnant, she didn’t take long to decide she would terminate the pregnancy.

It wasn’t a difficult decision for her, she wrote in a Cosmopolitan essay, because she knew she wasn’t ready to have kids. But Letts took it one step further– she decided to film the abortion to show other women that it wasn’t scary.

“Patients at the clinic always ask me if I can relate to them — have I had an abortion? Do I have kids?,” she wrote. “I was so used to saying, "I've never had an abortion but…" While I was pregnant and waiting for my procedure, I thought, "Wait a minute, I have to use this.”

Letts decided to let a camera crew film her first trimester abortion in order to dispel some myths about what it’s like to get one. She knew from her work that most women still think abortions are hugely risky and painful.

“We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like. A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth. There is no cutting, and risk of infertility is less than 1 percent. Yet women come into the clinic all the time terrified that they are going to be cut open, convinced that they won't be able to have kids after the abortion. The misinformation is amazing, but think about it: They are still willing to sacrifice these things because they know that they can't carry the child at this moment.”

But Letts also said her decision to film her abortion was also about showing her total calmness about the procedure, that it wasn’t something to feel tormented about. “I talk to women all the time, they’re like ‘of course everyone feels bad about this, of course everyone feels guilty’ as if it’s a given how people should feel about this, that what they’re doing is wrong,” she says in the video. “I don’t feel like a bad person, I don’t feel sad… I knew that what I was going to do was right, because it was right for me and no-one else.”

But even though Letts clearly intends the video to be an asset to the pro-choice movement, it’s possible that pro-life activists could turn this around and accuse her of callousness for videotaping the procedure.

[Cosmopolitan]

 

This Video Shows You Full House as a Horror Movie Because Whatever Happened to Predictability

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:40 AM PDT

First they added Francis J. Underwood, and that was creepy. Then they took away Michelle, and that was creepier. Now, someone has turned Full House into a full house of horrors.

A new video re-envisions Full House, transforming it from an affable family-friendly sitcom to a dark and sinister world where people move into a well-appointed San Francisco townhouse …and never move out.

The video makes you realize how creepy out-of-context footage can be, especially when set to ominous music. Scenes that were once innocuous like DJ Tanner staring at herself in the mirror, Danny Tanner mopping the floor or slow motion footage of children running through the house, are filled with a sense of foreboding that makes Full House seem like the next installment in Eli Roth’s Hostel series.

Watch now, but be forewarned: You man never see Danny Tanner the same way again.

[Via Uproxx]

MORE: Full House Of Cards: The Mashup You Never Knew You Wanted

MORE: The 'Full House' Men Reunited on TV and Jimmy Fallon Played Michelle Tanner

Janet Yellen: Cool, Calm, Collected—Yet Again

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:30 AM PDT

Alan Greenspan would be amused, if not proud of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's testimony before Congress Wednesday about the state of the economy. The Dow had opened on the frothy side, up 75 points in the opening hour, but by the time Yellen's words had been digested like the morning's cronut, the DJIA was flat again.

Greenspan used to flummox the Street and Fed watchers has his own distinct vocabulary that tried to neutralize, if not paralyze, the market when he testified before Congress. Yellen is the complete opposite: She makes a point of being entirely comprehensible and what she said today is that things are pretty darn okay, America. "With the harsh winter behind us, many recent indicators suggest that a rebound in spending and production is already under way, putting the overall economy on track for solid growth in the current quarter," she said.

But things are not okay enough to change the current policy of low short-term interest rates, even as the Fed ratchets down its purchases of mortgage debt designed to accommodate growth. Yellen is still concerned about the slowing housing market, which is a drag on near term growth and, in the long-term, the historically low labor participation rate. It is the Fed's mission to maximize employment while containing inflation. "Looking ahead, I expect that economic activity will expand at a somewhat faster pace this year than it did last year, that the unemployment rate will continue to decline gradually, and that inflation will begin to move up toward 2 percent," she said.

Housing has been slowed by rising interest rates and lagging household formations, even though rates are still low by historical measures. The lagging number of household formations, Yellen said, stems from the fact that kids coming out of college are weighed down by student debt and end up back with their parents. "As the job market strengthens and economy strengthens, we will see household formations will pick up," she said in questioning before the Joint Economic Committee, and to the relief of many boomerang parents around the country no doubt.

A number of her questioners cited a deep-seated concern about inflation, which had been fueled by economist Allan H. Meltzer in a Wall Street Journal column this morning warning that higher inflation was unavoidable given the massive amount of liquidity the Fed has injected into the economy. Yellen wasn't taking the bait. "We have the will, the tools and determination to remove monetary accommodation to avoid inflation," she said. Yellen noted that she and other Fed staffers remember the inflationary late 1970s all too well—interest rates topped 20%—and weren't about to repeat history.

One reason Yellen is a bit sanguine about inflation is that economic growth should be putting upward pressure on wages, for instance, which would then chase prices higher. That hasn't happened, and one reason is that, while the unemployment rate dropped sharply last month, a half a million people dropped out of the labor force. Yellen noted that the reasons behind the drop in the labor participation rate aren't fully known. It could be that more people are going back to school, boomers are dropping out, or something else.

She'll look into it. But she again saw economic expansion as the solution to the problem. It generally is. Only in Yellen's Q&A session with Congress did she give the Street anything to go on. Having signaled she's sticking to the previously announced policy on interest rates, which favors stocks over bonds, she also remarked that she didn't see any big issues in asset prices. "There are pockets where we could see misvaluations, in smaller cap stocks. But overall, the broad metrics don't suggest we are in bubble territory," she said. In other words, as you were Wall Street. The bulls quickly got back to work, sending the Dow higher before lunch.

5 Things Politicians Must Stop Saying

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:30 AM PDT

The midterm elections are coming in much the way of crocuses—provided crocuses bought billions of dollars worth of ads to announce their approach, spent most of that money saying mean things about other crocuses and were gerrymandered into safe gardens anyway, so really what's the point? But never mind, they're coming all the same.

If elections are constitutionally mandated, the nature of campaigns speeches isn't. Politicians can say any loony-tune thing they want, but most stick to the safe and anodyne because, well, it's safe and anodyne. All the same, the time has come to retire a few words and phrases that have decidedly overstayed their welcome—and by "retire," I mean “take them 'round the back of the barn, shoot them in the head and leave their remains for the buzzards to eat.”

Here are the top five pieces of political prose in this marked-for-extinction list:

The kitchen table: This is a place that exists only in the politicians' imaginings—a place where couples sit down with fretful expressions and stacks of bills and wonder, depending on the party, when the government is "going to give the middle class a break" or, in the alternative, "get out of the way of the job creators." First of all, the kitchen table is for pancakes. Period. Second, to the extent that real conversations take place there, they’re far likelier to involve who finished the milk without thinking to mention it, whether we can get through just one breakfast without someone spilling something, and exactly how many times do you have to be told to stop teasing your sister do you want to leave the table I mean it this time mister!

Not a whole lot of room for Benghazi or the Keystone Pipeline there.

The softball self-interview: This one takes a lot of forms, but it typically comes up when a candidate has been caught in an extramarital affair, a fundraising scandal or is dealing with a disastrous policy flop. Faced with hostile reporters who may ask, you know, questions, the helpful politician spares them the trouble. "Has the new law been 100% effective?” the candidate asks. “No,” the candidate answers. “Would we have liked it to work better? You bet." Close kin to these constructions are "have I been a perfect husband?,” "did I monitor every action by every member of my staff?," and "do we have a record of how every dollar of a $30 million campaign was spent?"

That's quite a grilling you’re getting there, politician who talks to himself! The only consolation: district attorneys and special prosecutors generally like their inevitable interviews to be a bit more two-way.

The American people want: Variations on this one include the American people expect or believe or agree—all intended to suggest that the politician is giving voice to a great national consensus. Look, the American people can't agree on the designated hitter rule, paper or plastic, or the suitability of ketchup on a hot dog (Fine, the ketchup thing is settled: it's a criminal act). Most days, America gets out of bed in the morning and starts an argument with itself just to get its blood going. We've got two political parties, 50 states, 435 Congressional districts and 3,143 counties for a reason—and it ain't because we all agree on stuff.

This election is a choice: Um, yes. That's why they call it an election. OK, not every campaigning politician can say that and mean it (we're looking at you, Vladimir), but a "choice" is pretty much how the whole ballot thing works. You know the last time a waiter put a menu in front of me and said, "here you have a selection of foods," or a sales clerk instructed, "please choose from among these shoes”? Never. I kind of understand that going in. Ditto elections.

The first person plural: Listen, Mr. or Ms. Politician, you're one person, got it? This whole "we got into this race to win" or "we're asking the tough questions" has got to stop. I know, I know, it creates a bandwagon feeling and provides you a little faux humility, since "we won because we had the best ideas" sounds so much better than "I won because I had the best ideas." But it's got a bit of a Sybil quality to it and it kind of creeps voters out. Even if you don’t agree, can you promise that when the election is over you will—either collectively or individually—go away for another two years?

 

 

 

 

Brilliant Star Clusters in the Flame Nebula Hold the Mysteries of Star Formation

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:27 AM PDT

How are stars formed? Astronomers get to spend years looking at beautiful star clusters like this one to try to find out.

Scientists are rethinking notions about how giant clouds of gas, dust and stars are formed, after observing two stunning star clusters, NGC 2024 and the Orion Nebula Cluster, where many new stars are forming. Using infrared telescopes and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found that the oldest stars in clusters are on the outside, rather than in the middle, as earlier models indicated. That could upend theories about how star clusters coalesce and behave, as well as models of how stars are formed.

The star cluster pictured here is the NGC 2024 in the so-called Flame Nebula, about 1,400 light years from Earth. Just take a second to think about all the stars being born in there.

Don’t Let Your Husband Be a Stay-At-Home Dad

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:26 AM PDT

The socioeconomics of parenting are changing. The number of stay-at-home fathers in the past decade has doubled since the 1970s to about 550,000 men, and that figure is expected to grow, especially as more wives take on the breadwinning role in their marriages and the cost of childcare holds intolerable for many families.

I currently earn more than my husband and have, at times, romanticized over him supporting us as the primary caretaker in our growing family. What mother doesn't enjoy coming home to a home-cooked meal, clean house and bathed child? And more dad involvement is never a bad thing. The stronger the relationship between father and child, the happier the family is, according to a joint study by Brigham Young University and Utah State University.

On the other hand, though, quitting your job to be a stay-at-home parent carries a number of potential risks. And when that parent is dad, the drawbacks can, in at least one case, be graver.

Just as one might hesitate to advocate for women to leave the workforce to become a stay-at-home mom, a similar case can go for men. What happens if dad wants back into the workforce later on? What happens if mom loses her job, faces a salary cut or is unable to work for a period of time due to an injury or other unexpected circumstance?

There's no denying that childcare is one of the tallest expenses families face. The average annual cost of center-based care for a small child in the U.S. runs as high as $16,000 in states like Massachusetts, according to Child Care Aware of America's 2013 report. For two children the annual expense can average as much as $28,600. These numbers can be much higher in metropolitan areas, rivaling the cost of sending a kid to college.

The mere economics of it all – especially if you have more than one child – can be enough to support the rationale that one parent should stop working to support life at home. And if you philosophically don't believe in outsourced childcare to begin with, the decision to become a single-income family proves even more compelling.

With a baby soon on the way, my husband and I have crunched the numbers and learned that a quality day care facility in our Brooklyn neighborhood would run us about $500 to $600 a week. Meanwhile full-time at-home childcare – not including overtime – is more than $35,000 a year. For now, we've opted for the latter and have planned some serious spending cuts to make up for the monstrous expense. But add to our household a couple more kids down the road, perhaps a dog, a bigger home to accommodate, and the math would then likely favor designating my husband as Mr. Mom, still assuming our existing income disparity.

Even then, however, we'd rather outsource childcare for fear of the unknown. Is that crazy?

Perhaps not when you consider the facts of the matter. We know that women already pay a price for taking a leave of absence from the workforce. Sheryl Sandberg points out in her book Lean In that "women's average annual earnings decrease by 20 percent if they are out of the workforce for just one year…30 percent after two to three years, which is the average amount of time professional women off-ramp from the workforce."

Research suggests the penalty may even be greater for men who temporarily exit the workforce. One study found that dads who left work for even a short period of time to cater to domestic matters earned lower evaluations and more negative performance ratings at work than women who opted out.

Single-income families are also at a higher risk of financial collapse, as one might guess. Researchers at Hope College and Cornell University found that, "Not only are two wages often necessary to adequately provide for the needs of most families, dual-earner couples are less economically vulnerable than single-earner families, for whom a layoff can mean financial collapse."

A single-income household can also result in more stress for her. As it stands, wives who earn more admit to feeling more pressure to "make it all work," especially when it comes to the family's finances. An academic survey I co-authored with Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist, found that when she makes more she is significantly more likely to be the primary decision-maker on money matters and take charge of things like paying bills, budgeting, saving and planning for retirement. And a greater number of women who earn a bigger paycheck wish their partner or spouse would carry more of the financial burden in the relationship. And if he's not making any money, where does this leave her?

There is a possible happy medium to this, as many stay-at-home moms have discovered: earn income from home as a part-time freelancer or entrepreneur while you commit to raising your family or, if possible, ask your employer about telecommuting a few days a week.

But even those options are easier said than done. Not everyone can find a way to make decent money from home given their area of expertise; juggling work and little ones in the same space can be harder than one expects; and telecommuting isn't possibly for many.

When you consider the potential risks of not generating any money as a partner, however, earning an income is simply necessary. Not to mention, keeping your toe in the workforce is a way to still explore and satisfy other needs that go beyond that of Super Mom or Dad.

From WHEN SHE MAKES MORE: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women by Farnoosh Torabi. Reprinted by arrangement with Hudson Street Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC. Copyright © 2014 by Farnoosh Torabi.

Airline Relaunches Brand to Tell Passengers Not to Expect Much

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:24 AM PDT

After routinely getting bashed in consumer surveys, Spirit Airlines is overhauling its brand to better explain its prices and policies. The gist is that travelers should lower their expectations.

Spirit Airlines refers to itself as the “dollar store of the sky,” and at every opportunity company CEO Ben has told the media (including TIME) that the carrier’s ultra-low fares come as a result of an across-the board a la carte business model. The way it works is that base price of a flight includes the bare minimum (a seat on the plane) and nearly everything else (including the right to a carry-on bag and a reservation for a precise seat on that plane) costs extra.

Spirit’s fee-crazed policies shouldn’t come as a surprise to passengers, and yet because they stand out as extreme even in the fee-heavy airline industry, the company regularly gets ranked dead last by travelers and advocacy groups like Consumer Reports. Compared to other airlines that rely heavily on business travelers, Spirit attracts an inordinately large portion of the leisure segment—people who are paying their own way, and who are very likely to be drawn in primarily by the cheapest fare possible. They’re also people who don’t fly nearly as much as business travelers, and they’re therefore less likely to know the ins and outs of carrier policies, especially a smaller operator like Spirit.

Apparently, a broad swath of consumers hasn’t gotten Spirit’s message—that its low fares buy a seat and almost nothing else—and now, the airline is relaunching its brand and kicking off a new ad campaign to explain its model better. Overall, the point is to lower the expectations for what’s included in a flight, or what’s now being called a “Bare Fare.” The hope is that when passengers understand that the base price includes only the bare minimum, and that the tradeoff for a cheap fare is that customers encounter fees at every turn for anything extra (bottled water, bigger seats, you name it), they’re a lot less likely to complain about being nickel-and-dimed—because, again, that’s the model.

Spirit isn’t explicitly saying that travelers should expect less, of course. Instead, the airline is trying to eliminate unpleasant surprises on the part of customers by stressing that it works differently from other carriers. Baldanza told Fox Business News that these differences benefit Spirit customers in the form of fares that are 40% lower than the competition. “Yet to get that price successfully we have to do some things that are a little bit different and if a customer is not expecting those differences, they can get frustrated by those or be surprised by those and we don't want them to be surprised,” Baldanza said. “So this new brand identity or brand unveiling is helping to educate our customer to understand what it is to fly Spirit Airlines and how to feel smarter about getting those 40 percent lower fares."

In particular, the relaunch is supposed to stop travelers from feeling duped, ripped off, or caught off guard by Spirit’s fine print and fees. “Let’s not have any more gotchas,” Baldanza said to USA Today. “Because the thing we do best is give you a really low fare. And these are the things it takes to get the low fare. So understand that, and you decide whether that trade-off is good for you.”

For travelers, the takeaway is that when you book a Bare Fare, you shouldn’t expect much. You should expect the bare minimum. That’s what Spirit promises, and that’d what Spirit delivers. For anything more than that, expect to pay extra.

These 2 Charts Show How Enormously Powerful Alibaba Is

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Get ready to hear a lot about Alibaba in the coming weeks. The Chinese e-commerce giant filed for its initial public offering in the United States Tuesday, and the hype machine is quickly heating up for what could be the largest tech IPO ever. Though Alibaba's filing indicates that the company plans to raise just $1 billion, that number is only a placeholder — the company is expected to raise as much as $20 billion in its offering, leading to an overall valuation as high as $250 billion.

What is it about Alibaba that’s causing such a furor on Wall Street? The uproar is most easily explained through these two charts:

Alibaba sales volume

 

Massive volume: Alibaba says it’s the largest e-commerce company in the world. The company operates a wide number of businesses, but the most lucrative are Taobao Marketplace, a large, eBay-like commerce site with more than 8 million vendors; Tmall, an online marketplace for name-brand retailers like Apple; and Juhuasuan, a daily deals site similar to Groupon. These sites generated a massive $248 billion in retail transactions in 2013 between them, dwarfing both eBay and Amazon.

Alibaba processed 254 million orders on a single day last year. Amazon, by comparison, sold 36.8 million items on Cyber Monday in December. With China's online population expected to grow to 800 million by next year, Alibaba will soon have even more customers to serve.

graph (6)

 

A low-expense business model: The key to Alibaba's financial success—and a significant differentiator from Amazon—is that the company doesn't actually sell any products. Instead, Alibaba operates vast marketplaces for third-party sellers who either pay a commission for sales or pay an advertising fee to have their wares displayed more prominently on Alibaba's sites. Amazon spent $8.6 billion on its fulfillment centers in 2013, a cost that never dings Alibaba's bottom line. Alibaba also has less than 21,000 full-time employees and 4,500 part-time customer representatives, compared to 33,500 total employees for eBay and 117,300 for Amazon. In short, the company doesn’t have to spend more to make more to the same extent that Amazon does.

Before you call your broker to bet the farm on Alibaba's IPO, though, there are some caveats to consider. The company has a troubled history with counterfeit items, for example. There were once so many knockoff goods on Alibaba's shopping sites that it was on the U.S. government's list of notorious markets, but the company says it has since cleaned up its act. It’s also worth learning about the company’s odd governance structure that makes it nearly impossible to remove chairman Jack Ma from power. And even if Alibaba continues flying high, it's possible the Wall Street hype machine could over-inflate its stock. That's what happened to Facebook, the last heavily-sought tech stock, which didn't reach its IPO price for its first 14 months as a public company.

Matt Bomer: Same-Sex Wedding With Partner Simon Halls Was ‘Very Chill’

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:13 AM PDT

White Collar actor Matt Bomer recently discussed his marriage and his journey to coming out as gay in an interview with Out magazine.

Bomer revealed his sexual orientationback in 2012 while thanking his partner and children at an awards show. However, the 36-year-old actor is now for the first time speaking openly about what has been mostly a private relationship with his partner, publicist Simon Halls.

"It was very chill," he said of his 2011 wedding. "Very small: only our nearest and dearest. There's a security, a validity of knowing that it's legal. It's hard to put into words. It's just a feeling, I guess, something about saying vows in front the people around who love and support you. I think it was good for our family."

Watch the video above for the details.

Real Housewives’ Porsha Williams Apologizes For Anti-Gay Speech

Posted: 07 May 2014 10:06 AM PDT

The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Porsha Williams has apologized for a sermon she gave three years ago that included comments criticized as anti-gay.

“My heart was heavy and it’s imperative for me to address the issue,” Williams says in a video message released to People Wednesday. “God loves all of his children.”

Williams, 31, has been widely criticized after a controversial sermon she gave three years ago recently resurfaced online.

“We Christians are supposed to be telling the hooker on the street, the drug dealer … the gays, the lesbians – we’re supposed to be trying to save them and tell them, ‘You are worthy,’” she said in the footage, posted Monday by TMZ.

Watch Williams’ apology above.

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