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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Michael Phelps Tweets Apology After DUI Bust

Michael Phelps Tweets Apology After DUI Bust


Michael Phelps Tweets Apology After DUI Bust

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 01:45 PM PDT

Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps tweeted to his fans Tuesday afternoon after he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Maryland early Tuesday morning.

Phelps, who is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, was caught driving 84 mph in a tunnel with a 45mph speed limit, Maryland police said. He allegedly crossed double lines in the tunnel, and failed multiple sobriety tests. Authorities told NBC he was cooperative throughout the process. Phelps had been charged with a DUI once before, in 2004, after he ran a stop sign.

The swimmer acknowledged Tuesday’s incident on Twitter, and apologized for letting fans down:

Phelps has 22 Olympic medals to his name, and famously won eight gold medals in eight events at the Beijing Games in 2008. He won four more gold medals at the London Games in 2012, but has not yet confirmed whether he will swim in the Rio Games in 2016.

Review: Men, Women & Children Shows How Sexting Is Ruining America

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 01:00 PM PDT

Adults may think back on the world a decade ago and sigh in nostalgia at its glorious innocence: no Facebook, no Twitter, no carpal tunnel syndrome from spilling every secret to countless online friends and potential predators. The children of those adults may shrug derisively and ask if their parents also miss the wonderful days before cars, phones and indoor plumbing. The luxuries of one generation are the necessities, the addictions of the next. Progress? An omen of the Apocalypse? You decide.

To judge from his new film Men, Women & Children, Jason Reitman expects the fire this time. And social media, which once meant talking and letter-writing, will provide the fuel for the final conflagration. Based on Chad Kultgen’s rather more explicit novel, this off-kilter ensemble dramedy is a plague movie, like Contagion or World War Z: everyone has the same disease but few realize it’s more than a harmless itch. The dread signs — how e-blather can fester into a metaphorical Ebola — are especially rampant among the students in a Texas high school. Some of their parents are infected, too.

Fifteen-year-old Chris Truby (Travis Tope), a connoisseur of online porn since he was 10, has graduated to images so violent and elaborate that he is incapable of sharing an ordinary sex act with a classmate. Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris), pursuing anorexia almost as a religious vocation, gets sideline cheers — “Pretty bitches never eat” — from other girls online with eating disorders. Tim Mooney (Ansel Elgort) has quit as the star of his school’s football team to spend obsessive hours each day in a Guild Wars gaming site. Hannah Clint (Olivia Crocicchia), aiming to translate her blond allure into stardom on a reality show, has posted naughty photos of herself on a “private” site approved by her mom Joan (Judy Greer). They should know that, in the age of an omniscient NSA and a transparent Cloud, nothing is private. Every intimacy is up for grabs.

In this virtual world, the young are the masters (and slaves); parents must learn from their children, or just log onto their kids’ computers. Chris’s dad Don (a paunchy, subdued Adam Sandler) is less appalled than aroused by what he finds there. He and his wife Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) have fallen out of love and out of sex; they have to schedule it like a rare play date, and when Helen grudgingly notes, “O.K., but it’s gotta be quick,” Don assures her, “It will be.” Restlessness leads him to a call-girl site and her to a dating service. No points for guessing that the married philanderers end up at the same bar.

Another parent, the ramrod Patricia Beltmeyer (Jennifer Garner), has grown suspicious of her daughter Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) and turned into the hall monitor of the girl’s texts and cell-hone calls. Need we add that Brandy is the movie’s one healthy teen, building a friendship with the disaffected Tim? If Patricia had been the mother of any of the other kids, her snooping might have saved souls. Here, it could end a life.

In his first three features — Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air — Reitman proved himself an ace at serious observational comedy. He was too cool to push viewers toward or away from characters whose internal weirdness he figured would be evident to any attentive mind. Then something snapped. Young Adult went wayward as the sketch of a prom queen 20 years past her prime, and Labor Day illuminated a bondage fantasy with Nativity lighting. Here, Reitman enlisted as co-writer Erin Cressida Wilson, whose previous feature films (Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus and Chloe) dealt with sexual kinks, to lend authority to a synoptic take on a society drenched in virtual venery.

Men, Women & Children attempts to achieve the tone of Reitman’s early films, pirouetting between behavioral levity and dark melodrama, yet it often falls flat. The director’s choice of Emma Thompson as the veddy English narrator of a very American story suggests that he sees Kurtgen’s novel as Jane Austen time-warped into the 21st century: a comedy of manners in an age of new norms. By citing and showing the Voyager’s interstellar mission, Thompson puts the compulsions of a few little Texans into macroscopic long shot — from outer space to cyberspace. But the movie proceeds as if the NASA craft had returned to a slightly different Earth, where people who share nothing but a zip code are bent, or crippled, in various ways by the same malady.

The dozen or so main actors do their best to breathe nuance into characters that are standing in for social statements. Sandler and DeWitt make a perfectly mismatched couple on a journey that long ago took a wrong turn. (They remember 9/11/01 fondly, since it was practically the last time they had ecstatic unplanned sex.) Elgort, the hunky cancer-teen from The Fault in Our Stars, and Dever, of Short Term 12, provide the respite of normal adolescence in this lineup of teen clichés. Garner tries heroically to make sense of a modern book-burner — daughter’s text-deleter — by painting her face with a wounded smile to hint at the sad past that may have steered Patricia toward her current malevolence. But actors shouldn’t have to do all the work, or to work against the script, in trying to bring their characters to plausible life.

Reitman’s long view, which he may mean to be the diagnosis of a sympathetic doctor, plays like a radio preacher’s rant against sins of the flesh. And for all the snazzy effects of kids walking through a mall or a school corridor madly texting — their messages clogging the film frame like dialogue balloons in a Mad magazine splash panel — this film is defiantly old-fashioned, possibly Luddite, in condemning the appetites nourished by modern technology.

The way we remember it, kids of an earlier era hid salacious stuff from their folks, if only under the mattress (the first place a parent would look). They tortured themselves with diet regimens and sought pleasure in video games, board games or Strip Hearts. Spouses found ways to stray. The world was awash in sexuality, always has been, yet somehow most of us survived.

Men, Women & Children doesn’t clarify complex issues so much as it simplifies and very nearly sullies them. You can sit through the movie dutifully noting its lessons, but at the end, you might want to clear your history.

Holder Says Apple’s iPhone Encryption Will Thwart Child Abuse Investigations

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:48 PM PDT

Attorney General Eric Holder ripped technology companies Tuesday that he said are “thwarting” the federal government’s ability to stop child abuse, just days after Apple and Google announced new security measures that would prevent the companies from giving authorities data on users.

“We would hope that technology companies would be willing to work with us to ensure that law enforcement retains the ability, with court-authorization, to lawfully obtain information in the course of an investigation, such as catching kidnappers and sexual predators,” Holder said at a Washington conference of the Global Alliance Conference Against Child Abuse Online. “It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy. When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so.”

Apple has recently drawn the ire of some law enforcement figures, including FBI Director James Comey, for making it harder for the federal government to access users’ personal information—including emails, photos and contacts—on its new iOS 8 mobile operating system. Apple says it’s “not technically feasible” for the company to respond to government warrants, as it now can’t bypass users’ passcode to access data (though experts say the NSA can still get around this). Earlier this month, Google announced that its next generation Android operating system will have encryption on by default for the first time.

Read Holder’s remarks here.

Bobby Jindal to Appear With Hobby Lobby Family

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:43 PM PDT

Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will appear with the billionaire family behind the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts chain Wednesday, as the Republican lawmaker continues to lay the groundwork for a likely presidential bid in 2016.

According to an aide, Jindal will appear at an event at the Hobby Lobby campus in Oklahoma City Wednesday evening with the Green family in support of the Museum of the Bible, a museum backed by the family planned for Washington, D.C.

The Greens’ retail chain became a nationwide household name earlier this year when the Supreme Court ruled that it could not be required to pay for contraceptive coverage as part of employees’ health insurance plans because it would violate their Christian beliefs.

Jindal was among the most vocal Republicans in support of Hobby Lobby before the Supreme Court and one of the loudest celebrants after the decision was handed down. In a commencement address at Liberty University in May, Jindal highlighted the Green family’s fight against the Obama administration, calling the company “nothing less than an all-American success story.”

The event will provide Jindal an opportunity to highlight one of his signature issues, religious freedom, while placing him next to a potential deep-pocketed donor for his likely presidential campaign. In a February address at the Reagan Library in California, Jindal held up the Hobby Lobby as an example of what he terms the Obama administration’s “silent war against religious liberty.”

The conservative GOP lawmaker also supports the efforts by some in the Republican Party to advocate for greater availability of birth control over the counter at pharmacies, instead of the requirement for a doctor’s prescription.

Meet the Woman Who Could Keep Control of the Senate Up for Grabs

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:41 PM PDT

There is a nightmare scenario that keeps most politicos working on both sides of the aisle up at night: after the midterm elections, and even through the anticipated Dec. 6 run off in Louisiana, control of the Senate likely won’t be decided until Jan. 6, the date a run-off in Georgia will take place, if any one candidate fails to muster 50% of the vote. It is this scenario that Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford, who regularly pulls 5% in most polls, relishes.

“In that situation, if we did force a runoff,” Swafford tells TIME, “I’d say that’s a clear mandate from people of Georgia for a small government and less involvement in people’s lives.”

Small government has hardly been a theme in the race between Republican businessman David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn, who are competing to fill retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss’s seat. The two have spent millions firing at one another: Perdue accused Nunn of funding terrorists through her work with the Bush Family Foundation and Nunn said Perdue lost jobs and discriminated against female workers as CEO of Dollar General.

“If that nastiness continues in a run-off, the folks responsible for the run-off will probably just stay home,” Swafford says of her supporters. “And they will have to find new voters in order to win and they will be exceptionally hard.”

Perdue now leads Nunn by 3.4 points, according to an average of Georgia polls by Real Clear Politics. But Perdue has only broken the 50% threshold in one out five of the most recent polls, and he’ll need at least 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off. Swafford’s “mere presence on the ballot creates the potential for a run-off,” says Jennifer Duffy, who follows Senate races at the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “Overall, Libertarians tend to draw more from Republicans, so she is a bigger problem for Perdue than Nunn.”

But Swafford says that may not be the case with her voters, who she maintains are open to whomever makes the best case. Swafford isn’t even sure she’d caucus with the Republicans if, by some miracle, she were to be elected.

And so an unlikely figure could impact national politics. As of the end of June, Swafford had raised $7,683 for her senatorial bid. The single 37-year-old has kept her day job as a paralegal as she has mounted her campaign. “It makes for a lot of late nights and early mornings,” she says, “but I believe electing someone to the Senate like me, who knows what it’s like to work a job, have a boss, and make ends meet on a regular budget, would bring a valuable perspective to the Senate.”

Swafford is pro-choice and for the legalization of marijuana. And, like most Libertarians, she’s deeply suspicious of President Obama’s engagement abroad, particularly in Syria and Iraq. “Last year, the President wanted to bomb Syria for their chemical weapons, now he’s asking for their help to defeat another enemy,” she says. (Obama hasn’t actually asked Syrian strongman Bashar Assad for help in defeating ISIS.)

Swafford benefits from Georgia’s strong Libertarian history. It is home to 2008 Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman. And that same year, John Monds made history by becoming the first Libertarian candidate to draw more than a million votes—statewide or nationally—though he still lost his attempt to become Georgia Public Service Commissioner. Four years later, Libertarian David Staples made another bid for the same office and again broke the one million-vote threshold, though again fell short. But, unlike Swafford, both of those men faced only one rival from a major party, not two.

Swafford says she had no choice but to run statewide: Georgia’s ballot access laws for third party candidates for state races are some of the most restrictive in the country. “So, it’s either run for city council, or statewide,” says Swafford, who was elected to her hometown city council in Fiery Branch in 2010. If they lose this Senate seat, Georgia Republicans who control the state legislature might consider rethinking those restrictive third party laws. Because if politicians like Swafford can’t clinch state office, spoiling a statewide race is the second best—and clearly effective—option to get their ideas out. It turns out, some politics might be better off local.

Ebola Outbreak Contained in Nigeria, Officials Say

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:26 PM PDT

The Ebola outbreak in Nigeria appears to be contained, health officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that due to a very rapid local and international response, the country may have fully contained its Ebola outbreak. The 21-day incubation period for the disease has passed.

Nigeria saw its first confirmed case of Ebola on July 17 when a Liberian-American man collapsed at a Nigerian airport after traveling from Liberia. The man infected the health workers who treated him, and the country experienced a total of 19 cases and seven deaths. Unlike in other countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where it took months for Ebola to be recognized, the Nigerian government quickly declared a public health emergency when it discovered the traveler may have come in contact with 72 people at the airport and hospital.

The Nigerian government coordinated the outbreak response with state and national networks and rolled out a massive public education initiative, with trained “social mobilizers” who were deployed to do house to house visits in areas where an Ebola contact resided. Nigeria also recently worked to eradicate polio, and the country tapped into those strategies as part of their response.

Still, if there’s a lesson to be learned from Ebola thus far, it’s not to overestimate containment. As TIME reported last week, there was a period in April when it appeared Guinea’s outbreak had subsided. In actuality, there were several unreported and hidden cases that re-ignited the outbreak with an even greater wave of infections.

Watch Pee-wee Herman and Karen Gillan in TV On the Radio’s New Video

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:13 PM PDT

TV On the Radio have released the video for the single “Happy Idiot” off of their forthcoming Seeds album, and it’s a winner. The clip stars Pee-wee Herman (also known as actor Paul Reubens) as a racecar driver losing his mind in the heat, seeing visions of Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan.

As TV On the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe explained in a statement, “I had this idea for the video that I thought would never happen, of Paul Reubens as a race car driver who slowly loses his mind. I took it to Funny or Die and they said, ‘That’s great, let’s go for that.’”

Luckily, Reubens was a longtime fan of the band and agreed to star in the video. In the clip, directed by Danny Jelinek and written by Jake Fogelnest, Gillan appears as a cheerleader, chef and balloon-carrying vision in black who may or may not be a hallucination. “Karen Gillan was absolutely great,” said Adebimpe. “We were really psyched to work with her, because she’s basically sci-fi royalty, and a great person. Full on geek fest in the desert.”

“It was really fun to do,” Adebimpe said. “I love how it came out. I think our fans will like it. I hope so. The cool ones will anyway. The rest can suck it.”

TV On the Radio’s new album, Seeds, is due out November 18th via Harvest Records. In support of the album, the band is heading out on tour mid-October. Check dates here.

Love, Not Fear, Will Help Us Fix Climate Change

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:13 PM PDT

Superman’s father, Jor-El, was a leading scientist who tried for years to warn his fellow inhabitants that their home planet, Krypton, was about to explode. But they didn’t take the necessary actions until it was too late.

Something similar is happening with global warming on our planet. In some ways, Al Gore is our Jor-El. (Gore-Al?)

At first, people were captivated by his warning about warming. An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar, Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize, and global warming was on everyone’s mind.

But not for long. It’s been eight years since the documentary came out, but despite accumulating scientific evidence, not much has happened to address global warming, until recently.

The United Nations Climate Summit last week, with more than 120 world leaders, galvanized everyone’s attention again. More than 400,000 people from around the world marched through the streets of Manhattan to raise awareness of global warming.

Why did it take eight years to bring global warming to our awareness again?

Because fear is not a sustainable motivator—in health or in politics. In the short run, fear is powerful, it gets our attention. It activates a primal part of our brain, the amygdyla, that helps us survive a short-term crisis (e.g., the proverbial saber-toothed tiger jumping out in front of us).

In the long run, though, it’s too scary to think that something really bad may happen to us, so we usually don’t, at least not for long. The human mortality rate is still 100%—one per person—but it’s not something most people think about very often. Until something bad happens, but, even then, only for a short while.

Something similar happens on an individual level when a person has a heart attack. The physician has their full attention, and they’ll do just about anything the doctor tells them they need to do—but usually only for about four to six weeks or so. Then, they often go back to their old ways. They tune out.

Preventive medicine is often fear-based. “Don’t smoke that cigarette, you’ll get lung cancer!” “Put down that cheeseburger, you’ll get a heart attack!” And so on. That doesn’t work for very long.

What enables people to make sustainable changes in their lives, both personal and planetary, is not fear of dying; it’s joy of living.

Love is more powerful than fear as a sustainable motivator. We will address tough challenges to help our loved ones that we might not do just for ourselves.

One of the most powerful moments at the recent UN climate summit this week was when Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands received a standing ovation after she recited a poem written for her seven month old daughter, which included:

We are spreading the word

and there are thousands out on the street

marching with signs

hand in hand

chanting for change NOW

they’re marching for you, baby

they’re marching for us

because we deserve to do more than just

survive

we deserve

to thrive…

so just close those eyes, baby

and sleep in peace

because we won’t let you down—

you’ll see.

Recently, I gave the matriculation lecture at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, to almost 400 future generals from 67 countries representing all four branches of the U.S. military. Since the title of my talk was “The Power of Love,” I asked former four-star General Stan McChrystal to make a short video to provide much more street cred than I would have at a military gathering on why love is more powerful than fear.

“If you think about why people do extraordinary things—why on the battlefield soldiers will sacrifice themselves, why they will make extraordinary efforts not to let down their comrade on the left or right—it’s got nothing to do with fear or coercion from their corporate or sergeant or officers.

“It has everything to do with commitment and wanting to have a relationship with people and with an organization in which they feel like they’ve given part of themselves so that they can, in fact, feel like they are a very important part of that team.

“No matter how much fear we create in subordinates, that’s just not strong enough to force them into actions where they’re more scared of something else, particularly a situation like combat when the chances of being killed or injured by the enemy is great—any fear they have of their chain of command is likely to be very insignificant.

“So, when we talk about the power of love, I think it’s the most powerful force that moves soldiers. You’re not going to stand in the sports bar and talk about how much you love each other, ‘I love you man!’ But when people put on the equipment, when they really have got to do difficult things, that’s what makes people operate, that’s what makes people give, that’s what makes organizations strong.”

If it’s meaningful, then it’s sustainable. In 2010, I consulted with President Clinton after his bypass grafts occluded and encouraged him to make healthy lifestyle changes including a whole foods plant-based diet low in refined carbohydrates. He has been doing so since then, lost more than 20 pounds, and looks and feels great. He’s inspired many others. Although I’ve been consulting with him since 1993, he has talked publicly about why he made these more intensive changes in diet: because he wanted to live long enough to walk his daughter down the aisle and to live to be a grandfather. Those meaningful goals make these dietary changes sustainable.

Almost 70 years ago, Viktor Frankl’s classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, described what he learned as a concentration camp survivor in World War II. He found that prisoners who were able to find meaning in the midst of extreme suffering—e.g., “I have to survive to be reunited with my loved ones; to bear witness; to complete my life’s work”—were much more likely to survive, even if they were not physically as strong as those without meaningful goals.

If it feels good, then it’s sustainable. There’s no point in giving up something you enjoy unless you get something back that’s even better—and quickly.

The biological mechanisms that control our health and well-being are much more dynamic—for better and for worse—than most people realize. So, when people eat well, move more, love more, stress less, and quit smoking, they generally feel so much better, so quickly, it reframes the reason for making these changes from fear of dying (which is not sustainable) to joy of living (which is).

For example, nicotine in tobacco makes your arteries constrict. So does chronic stress. In your brain, that can cause a stroke; in your heart, a heart attack. But in your face, it makes you wrinkle and age faster. Supermodel Christy Turlington has a wonderful web site, www.smokingisugly.com.

And in your sexual organs, nicotine is the anti-Viagra. Instead of dilating blood flow to your sexual organs, it constricts and reduces it. Men who smoke are 200% more likely to have erectile dysfunction than those who don’t. Fortunately, quitting quickly reverses impotence.

Telling someone that quitting smoking makes you sexy and beautiful is much more motivating and sustainable than telling them that it causes heart attacks and strokes. That puts it into present tense—what is happening, making it much more motivating—rather than fear of what might happen later.

One of the reasons I’m excited by what visionary Elon Musk has done with the Tesla is to show that you can reduce global warming and drive a powerful, fun car. A cool car helps make a cooler planet.

If we are going to find sustainable ways of dealing with global warming, we have to base it on love and feeling good, not fear and loathing. If it’s fun, then it’s sustainable.

Dean Ornish is Founder and President of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF. He is the author of The Spectrum and five other bestsellers. He was the first to prove that comprehensive lifestyle changes may reverse heart disease and other chronic illnesses without drugs or surgery and may even begin to reverse aging at a cellular level.

Reddit Gets $50 Million in Venture Funding

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:10 PM PDT

The popular online message board Reddit has secured $50 million in new venture capital funding, the company announced Tuesday. The website known as the “front page of the Internet” is getting a cash infusion from a long list of investors that includes Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz and the rapper Snoop Dogg.

Reddit is well-known for its primitive website design and laissez-faire attitude toward moderating its users. The company is a former subsidiary of Conde Nast that was later spun off into an independent company. CEO Yishan Wong said the new funding will help Reddit grow its relatively small staff of 60 and improve its app and ad products. “An investment like this doesn’t mean we’re rich or successful,” Wong said in a blog post. “Money can become worthless very quickly, value is something that is built over time through hard work.”

Reddit faced criticism earlier this month for allowing users to link to a vast number of stolen nude photos of celebrities. The startup defended the right of its users to post controversial content but ended up banning the page with the nude photos because some of the images were of minors.

With more money may come more pressure for Reddit to both generate profits and conform to the standards of traditional media companies. For now, though, Reddit is still playing by its own rules. The startup, which acknowledged it was still unprofitable earlier this year, has agreed to give 10% of its 2014 ad revenue to charity. The company promised Tuesday that investors involved in the latest funding round will give 10% of their shares back to the Reddit community (details on the practicality and legality of this are still to come, Wong said).

Reddit is no longer a scrappy startup underdog. It’s a company with a valuation pegged as high as a half-a-billion dollars that has hosted a conversation with the President, among other leaders. But Wong remains confident that backers will let the newly-rich Reddit keep being weird.

“We have been entrusted with capital by patient, long-term investors who support our views on difficult issues,” he said. “We believe in free speech, self-governing communities, and the power of voting. We find that this freedom yields more good than bad, and we have chosen investors based on this belief.”

Science Explains Why Men Get Wasted Together

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:09 PM PDT

Male bonding over booze is a ritual as old as booze but modern science may have finally shed some light on why getting sloshed with your mates can seem like a particularly male pursuit.

Smiles are contagious in a group of men sitting around drinking alcohol, according to a study announced Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. This suggests that booze serves as a social lubricant for men, making them more sensitive to social behaviors, like smiling, and freeing them to connect with one another in a way that a soda can’t.

Lest that strike you as laughably obvious, consider this: the effect does not hold if there are any women in the group, according to the study authors.

Researchers divided 720 “healthy social drinkers” — half men, half women, all ages 21 to 28 — into three groups. Each group received either an alcoholic drink (vodka cranberry, regrettably for any lab rats with refined taste, but so it goes), a placebo or a non-alcoholic drink. They found that, among men, smiles — and associated increases in positive mood and social bonding — tend to catch on, leaping from face to face, as it were, but only in exclusively male groups.

“Many men report that the majority of their social support and social bonding time occurs within the context of alcohol consumption,” said lead researcher Catharine Fairbairn. “We wanted to explore the possibility that social alcohol consumption was more rewarding to men than to women — the idea that alcohol might actually ‘lubricate’ social interaction to a greater extent among men.”

More importantly — get ready to never hear the end of this one, boyfriends and husbands of the world — researchers note that genuine smiles are perfectly contagious among sober women, just not sober men. A cold one merely evens the score for men, allowing them to catch smiles from each other, so long as there are no women present.

The authors don’t posit a guess as to why the presence of a woman keeps drunk men from catching smiles from one another, except to say that booze seems to disrupt “processes that would normally prevent them from responding to another person’s smile.”

Nice work, dudes. There’s nothing a girl likes more than an unsmiling humorless dolt.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Women’s Colleges Are Opening the Door for Men

Why Women’s Colleges Are Opening the Door for Men


Why Women’s Colleges Are Opening the Door for Men

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:45 AM PDT

Wilson College, a small women’s school in Pennsylvania, came close to shutting down once before. But a swell of opposition from staff and students in 1979 and a fundraising effort that raised $1.1 million in less than three months kept the college in businesses. Facing a similarly dire falloff in enrolled students and tuition revenue this year, the school turned to what it said is the only option for survival—admitting men.

One of a few dozen remaining women’s colleges in the U.S., Wilson said it can no longer afford to serve only half the population. While overall college enrollment has gone up by about 32% since 2000, enrollment at women-only colleges has fallen during that time by 29%. As a result, more women’s colleges are going co-ed. There were as many as 200 women’s colleges in 1960, according to the National Institute on Postsecondary Education. Today that number hovers around 44, as schools facing sluggish enrollment are forced to find ways to survive.

In the last two years, at least three other women’s colleges have gone coed or announced plans to. The first male students at William Peace University in Raleigh matriculated in 2012. Georgian Court University in New Jersey went co-ed last year. And Chatham University in Pittsburgh will admit men starting next fall.

At Wilson, undergraduate enrollment has been chronically low for 40 years, according to school spokesman Brian Speer. At its peak, the college enrolled 732 students, but it hasn’t had more than 338 since 1980. Last year, just under 600 applicants were offered admission—but only 100 chose to attend. That prompted the board of trustees to approve President Barbara Mistick’s plan to admit undergraduate men.

The process began last fall with undergraduate male commuter students. Male students who are living on campus arrived this fall. The shift to co-ed is part of a broader revitalization plan that also includes a 17% tuition reduction and a loan buyback program.

“This college has been trying to implement programs for 30 years to address the stagnant enrollment in the undergraduate college,” Speer said.“Those efforts have not gotten us anywhere near where we need to be.”

Not everyone is on board. Students and alumni have formed two groups to protest the change. One, Wilson College Women, is led by lawyer and 1980 graduate Gretchen Van Ness; it has 465 members on its Facebook page. Another, Wild Wilson Women, has more than 1,400 members.

Van Ness, who sat on the commission that made suggestions to Mistick, said it didn’t support coeducation as a way to boost enrollment. She accused the administration of breaking state Department of Education protocol that requires it to propose amendments to the college’s articles of incorporation and wait for approval before making changes. The college filed an application to change its charter with the state last year but didn’t wait for approval before admitting male commuter students that fall. Instead, Van Ness and others said, the college immediately advertised itself as co-ed, hired coaches for male athletic teams, and started preparing dorms for male residential students. Van Ness said this is illegal but Wilson maintains that changes to its charter in 1993 gave it permission to admit men.

“All of a sudden, Wilson’s identity as a women’s college had just disappeared,” Van Ness said.

In June, the women behind Wilson College Women were granted a hearing at the state Department of Education, where they made the case for state intervention that would block any further undergraduate coed operations at the school. The Department has not said it will issue a ruling.

At Chatham University, the decision to admit men was much less controversial.

“It’s been a topic of conversation for 20 years. The idea was to keep the undergraduate women’s college and diversify the graduate programs,” said school spokesman Bill Campbell.

In 1992, men were invited to apply to graduate and other programs. The move led to a temporary boost in enrollment, but it went down again in 2008, at the height of the recession, and still hasn’t recovered.

“Less and less women are interested in women’s colleges today,” Campbell said.“Can we feasibly continue to put this much money to this mission decision?”

At Chatham, Campbell said the decision to admit men was proactive—the school relied on a February report from Standard & Poor’s that predicted the next few years to be especially tough for small, narrowly-focused colleges as an indication of trouble to come. Chatham got a low BBB- rating in the report.

Admitting men can be a financial solution for struggling schools, but it’s important for women to have a range of choices when they pick a college, said Marilyn Hammond, president of the Women’s College Coalition.

“What’s at stake is that there will be limits again to the options women have if women’s colleges don’t exist,” she said.

At Wilson, Van Ness and other opponents said they hope the state will protect that option. Van Ness was a junior and president of the student government at Wilson in 1979, when faculty and students protested the school’s closure, which was eventually blocked by a judge.

“We made history once,” Van Ness said. “As tough as it is out there in the constantly changing world of higher education, there is still a place for women’s colleges.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Voting Rights Battles Heat Up Ahead of Midterm Elections

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:18 AM PDT

Voting rights advocacy groups and Ohio state officials submitted dueling briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court Saturday and Sunday in a fight over early voting in the state.

On Sept. 24, the U.S. Appeals court for the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision to block Ohio’s new election rules, which would cut back early voting from 35 to 28 days before the election and limit early voting on weekends. The courts found that Ohio’s new laws if enacted would violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Ohio officials have asked Justice Elena Kagan to overrule the state courts and prevent voting from starting Sept. 30. She could hand down a decision as early as today.

Ohio is just the latest flashpoint as early voting fights are heating up around the country ahead of midterms. Democrats seek to mobilize lower-income voters who are less likely to turn out for general elections if they have to take time off of work to vote on a Tuesday. Republicans object, claiming the risk of voter fraud and other concerns require tighter voting restrictions.

Here are the three other voting rights laws cases that could work their way up to the Supreme Court before the midterms:

Wisconsin- On September 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals put into effect a law requiring most voters to present photo identification at the polls. Proponents of the law say it will discourage voter fraud, while critics say it will deter minorities from voting. On Friday, the entire Seventh Circuit split 5-5 on whether to hear the case, which may send it to the Supreme Court.

North Carolina – North Carolina’s 2013 state voting law, which eliminates same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting and shortens the early voting window by ten days, will be in place for the first time this year in a statewide election. A panel of three judges heard oral arguments about the law on Sept. 25, with one judge pointedly asking, “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?” The case will likely end up at the Supreme Court, especially if the Fourth Circuit rules against the law.

Texas – Last week, trial ended in a challenge to Texas’s voter identification law requiring voters to display government-issued forms of identification. Under the stringent law, a concealed-carry permit is a valid form of identification, but a student ID is not. The judge is expected to rule soon on whether the law violates the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, and if the decision comes out against the law, the state could appeal to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Most Financial Aid Should Go To First-Generation College Students

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:16 AM PDT

Sometimes, vague can be misleading—and harmful. For years, colleges have identified disadvantaged students based primarily on “diversity” and “need.” But those categories are broad and unspecific, and can be gamed by sophisticated applicants and parents. The result? Schools aren’t helping the students that really need it. And higher education is now perpetuating – rather than alleviating – inequality. We can reverse this pattern by learning from our education history and shifting the focus of that aid effort to first-generation college students.

The key here is this: colleges need to get more specific about who they want to help, and why. Universities’ commitment to “diversity” is important, but it’s a poor substitute for a policy of equal access for the disadvantaged because “diverse” students and disadvantaged students are not necessarily one and the same. Several studies have shown that beneficiaries of diversity-based admissions policies typically hail from the most well-educated and economically successful segments of “diverse” communities. That’s why a diversity strategy will not help universities reclaim their mission of fostering socio-economic mobility.

Focusing on first-generation college students, on the other hand, just might. These are the students whose parents never attained a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college, and they’re a much better proxy group for those who are truly at a disadvantage in education. First-generation students typically attend secondary schools with fewer academic and financial resources. Yet we don’t have to look hard to find examples of students who demonstrate strong academic potential and have the discipline and perseverance to achieve long-term success. Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO; Kathleen McCartney, President of Smith College; Colin Powell, former Secretary of State; and Associate Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Supreme Court Justice – all first-generation college students – are just a few examples of tremendous academic potential of these students.

So, how do we unlock all that potential? It’s easy to propose an outreach strategy to first-generation students, but harder to implement one. The 250 or so oversubscribed institutions that admit a fraction of thousands of applicants too often crowd out the smart but poorer students. High-ability students born to poor, uneducated parents have the most to gain from higher education and the most to lose as a result of current inequities. We need to remove some of the roadblocks in the present system, especially at selective institutions of higher learning.

Here’s one such roadblock: Many universities—an overwhelming majority, in fact—practice “need-sensitive” admissions and don’t accept academically able but poor students, at least in part because they cannot pay. And then there’s merit-based financial aid, which also gives wealthier students an edge: schools often use it to climb the infamous U.S News & World Report rankings, as Stephen Burd reports in a recent paper. No one is arguing that merit doesn’t matter, but we need to scrutinize merit aid awards more closely. The metrics most colleges use to define “merit” favor affluent students, whose schools have the resources to support standardized testing prep, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes and exams. And it’s not just colleges that are contributing to this problem: Even lower-income students who receive the maximum Pell award may be left with a significant financial burden because the government isn’t holding colleges accountable for rising costs. Too many students face an untenable choice: financing their college educations with costly student loans or forego higher education altogether.

The cumulative impact of these roadblocks is clear. Students from affluent backgrounds graduate from college at six times the rate of children from low-income households. For lower-income students, merely going to college is an achievement. Fewer than 30 percent enroll in a four-year college. Of those poorer students who do matriculate, fewer than half graduate. The most damning statistics concern high-achieving students from low-income households. Even when students from low-income households outscore higher-income peers, they graduate from college at a lower rate. This data belies the notion, once extolled by universal schooling proponent, Horace Mann, that our institutions of higher education are “great equalizers.”

To make good on the past, we need to discuss how data sometimes drives – and misidentifies – our priorities. The Department of Education mandates that colleges report a massive amount of information about their students, including test scores, graduation rates, average net price paid per student, and demographic information such as race and sex. But it neglects to ask colleges about their students’ first-generation status—sending schools the message that this status isn’t a government priority (an impression compounded by the fact no comprehensive database indicates how many such students are admitted to institutions that receive federal funds).

Even if the government were asking for data about first-generation status, universities aren’t likely to happily fork it over. In response to inquiries I made in connection with a forthcoming research paper on first-generation students’ access to higher education, administrators at numerous selective universities claimed to have no idea whether their students hail from Ph.Ds. or from high school drop outs. The data that I did manage to collect indicates that first-generation students constitute a fraction of the student bodies at selective colleges and universities. In 2011, for instance, only five percent of matriculating freshmen at the University of Michigan, and in 2013 just nine percent of matriculating freshman at the University of Virginia—both taxpayer-supported universities that enroll thousands of students—were first-generation college students.

The best way to address the social and economic inequality embedded in higher education policy is to tackle it at its roots. Admissions officials can start by practicing need-blind admissions, asking students whether their parents graduated from a four-year college, and consciously seeking to admit academically competitive first-generation students during the admissions process. Colleges should provide adequate financial support for low-income first-generation college students and the federal government must replace costly loans with grants for a greater number of needy students. The government can also look to its past for precedent to craft a legislative solution. Both the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (“GI Bill”) and 1965 Higher Education Act (part of The Great Society) offer models for providing educational benefits and access to those who are most in need.

The inclusion of greater numbers of students from the bottom rungs of society in higher education need not be a zero sum game. This isn’t about displacing wealthier students. It’s about enriching the student body, and making college better for everyone with the potential to attend.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law and a Professor of History at Harvard University, where she is the co-director of the Program in Law and History. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

Fresh Demonstrations Rock Hong Kong as Protest Leader Warns of Backlash

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:04 AM PDT

A co-founder of the Hong Kong pro-democracy organization Occupy Central said late Monday that the group will change tactics because the unprecedented protests it has helped to organize are unsustainable and could backfire.

Sociologist Chan Kin-man, a former professor at Chinese University, told TIME it’s “unrealistic” to expect protesters to continue to occupy key downtown locations for much longer, bringing roads to a standstill and disrupting businesses. He hinted that the barricades should come down and blockades end on Oct. 1—China’s National Day.

His thinking seemed sharply at odds with the mood on the streets Monday, and would shock many of the tens of thousands of mostly young demonstrators who unloaded truckloads of supplies as the night wore on and looked set for a protracted siege in their push for free elections.

Protesters’ ranks appeared to have grown considerably since the weekend, and an almost jubilant air could be felt as demonstrators in Queensway, close to the city’s legislature, passed around chocolate cake, cookies and freshly grilled hotdogs while a student group performed a dance routine. Some played soccer. At one point, thousands held up backlit cell phone screens, forming a stunning ravine of light that stretched into the distance.

Across the harbor in Kowloon, a black-clad DJ flipped open his laptop, set up his mixing console and entertained hundreds of demonstrators at the Nathan Road protest site with an impromptu set. Families with children could be seen among the demonstrators, who chanted and listened to speeches as they sat or reclined along on a broad stretch of road that is normally one of the city’s busiest.

The protest was remarkably peaceful and orderly. Protesters erected signs apologizing to office workers for the inconvenience. At one point, a group of activists began directing traffic along busy Hennessy Road.

Chan said the Occupy Central group wants “the people to stay out until at least Oct. 1.” After that, he says, “we will announce a new stage of the campaign.”

The activist is worried that a prolonged occupation will eventually invite a bloody crackdown from the authorities. He also believes the goal of many on the streets—major electoral concessions from Beijing—is unrealistic, and should be replaced with the more achievable aim of ousting the city’s unpopular leader, C.Y. Leung.

“Once he steps down, we can start over,” Chan told TIME.

Demonstrators occupying the city’s main business district reacted to Chan’s words with skepticism.

“Many adults feel like they cannot do anything to change the situation, but young people have a dream,” said 21-year-old student Nicholas Ng.

Eric Ng (no relation), a 21-year-old event planner who has been on the streets for three days, leaving only to take quick shower breaks, said, “I’ve never seen this many people asking for what we need. We’ll still stay here. If we leave on Oct. 1, it won’t have been here long enough.”

Chan’s moderate stance highlights what many say is a growing generational gap between a protest leadership of middle-aged academics and professionals, and rank-and-file demonstrators, who are mostly students and impatient for the electoral freedoms they have come to regard as their birthright.

Tensions between the two camps emerged over the weekend, when some students participating in a classroom boycott accused Occupy Hong Kong of hijacking their campaign in order to launch the broader protests, bringing forward the widely expected start date by several days.

The police use of tear gas on Sunday evening has also galvanized sections of the public that had previously remained on the sidelines.
“To be honest, I didn’t really support this,” said Raymond Chan, a 38-year-old high school math teacher. “But when the police used tear gas on people last night, that changed my mind. They used tear gas, without any warning. The fact that they did that just makes us stronger and more unified.”

“The police were very harsh firing the tear gas yesterday, and that’s why I’m here,” said Lilian Chung, a young arts student. “If we don’t come here, Hong Kong is going to have a sorry, sorry future.”

Occupy Hong Kong is hoping that people like Chung will leave the streets and find other ways of continuing the protest in two days’ time. Before the week is out, they will know whether or not they are still in control of a sweeping social movement they helped launch.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Barber, Charlie Campbell, Rishi Iyengar, Reno Ong, Helen Regan and David Stout

Gov’t to Put Up $52 Million to Help Farmers Market Their Produce

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:54 AM PDT

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to put $52 million toward local and organic farming through farmers markets and organic research.

Local farmers are having difficulty marketing their produce, even though there’s increasingly high consumer demand for it. According to the New York Times, the funding is part of the Farm Bill signed by President Obama in February.

The $52 million is being distributed to the industry through five grant programs that were authorized through the Farm Bill. The grants will be distributed annually.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding at the Virginia State Fair, where farmer and business owner M. James Faison of Milton’s Local Harvest won a grant to help farmers producing pork and beef products market their goods more effectively.

According to the Times, the organic business sector will be getting $125 million over the next five years for research as well as $50 million for conservation. The USDA will also be allocating $30 million each year to marketing for local food and farmer’s markets. Another $70 million will go toward researching fruits and vegetables.

In an interview, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said funding local food systems are good business for the government since they generate new employment.

Harley-Davidson Puts the Brakes on 105,000 Hogs

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:50 AM PDT

Hog riders may need to take a look at their bikes, because the recall bug has bitten the motorcycle world in a big way.

Harley-Davidson announced this weekend that it is recalling more than 105,000 motorcycles for issues related to the clutch, plus 1,384 bikes for potential fuel tank issues.

There have been 19 reported crashes as a result of the clutch issue, though no deaths and only three minor injuries have resulted.

This isn’t the first time the American motorcycle brand has been hit by a recall this year. Harley recalled more than 66,000 bikes in July, citing possible problems with the front wheel.

Following the recall scandal that has plagued General Motors for much of this year, auto manufacturers are being extra cautious when it comes to recalls in an effort to avoid any allegations of not taking action fast enough.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

Mobile Payments: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:50 AM PDT

We use our smartphones in place of maps, health trackers and cameras, so why not use them to replace our credit cards, too? It’s not like Americans don’t already choose their smartphones when it’s time to shop and bank online.

Yet a 2013 survey from financial services company TSYS (PDF) found that just 6% of Americans want to use their smartphones in lieu of a credit or debit card.

Consumers seem comfortable with credit cards, whether they’re signing a receipt, entering a PIN or waving the card at a contactless payment terminal, and they see little perceived extra value in using smartphones to pay in stores, asserts Rajesh Kandaswamy, an analyst at information technology research and advisory firm Gartner. “Consumers need an incentive to move to mobile payments,” he says. And Softcard mobile payment app (formerly Isis) does that, offering a dollar off every purchase you make with an American Express Serve card (up to 50 transactions).

The upcoming launch of Apple Pay will also help. The app will download automatically in October as part of an update to iOS 8 for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and it works with American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards.

“Given that Apple already stores millions of customers’ financial info in iTunes, Apple Pay is likely to be a catalyst for higher adoption of the smartphone wallet because it reduces the efforts of millions to even try mobile payments,” Kandaswamy says.

Apple Pay is also supported by major banks, including Bank of America, Chase and Citi. These big banks are unlikely to spike the cost of processing Apple Pay transactions versus credit card transactions, giving more merchants more incentive to make the service available to their customers.

Why switch to a smartphone wallet

A mobile wallet app offers a better way to manage payment cards, from debit and credit cards to discount vouchers and loyalty vouchers, Kandaswamy says. “A mobile wallet app can also offer better control over finances, in the sense that you have a single place to examine and analyze your purchases,” he says.

Paying with your smartphone can speed up the checkout process. Instead of rifling through your wallet (and possibly realizing you forgot to bring a card at all), simply tap your smartphone on a payment terminal to authorize a transaction and simultaneously apply discounts or loyalty points.

How the money moves

Most current smartphone wallet apps with a tap-to-pay feature require a phone with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip to work. For iPhones, that means the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Most Android phones that run Android 4.0 or newer are NFC-compatible, although some apps require a special, extra-secure SIM for storing financial information. Check with your carrier to see if your Android phone is e-wallet-friendly.

If you use a Windows Phone or BlackBerry device, you’re facing a wait. Microsoft recently announced Wallet for Windows Phone for storing credit cards, loyalty cards, vouchers and tickets, but the app’s tap-to-pay functionality isn’t yet supported by any Windows Phone devices. And although Visa approved the BlackBerry mobile payment framework last year, we have yet to see any official launch of a wallet app.

But the mobile payments game is heating up. Retail giant Wal-Mart has announced that it’s piloting its own mobile payments system, along with several other large brands. Current C, which will work on any smartphone, won’t launch until next year.

The apps to consider

For now, Android and iPhone owners can turn their smartphones into lean, mean paying machines with one of these apps:

apple-iphone-6-apple-pay-510px
Apple

Apple Pay

Apple Pay will be available in October for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as for the Apple Watch when it launches next year. Apple Pay holds credit and debit cards, and iTunes users can automatically link the credit card they already have on file. Once you’ve activated Apple Pay, you can use it for secure one-tap purchases in shopping apps as well as services such as Uber and Panera Bread, without having to fill out billing and shipping information.

Tap to pay: Touch the front of your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus to a contactless payment terminal while holding your finger over the TouchID fingerprint sensor. You get a gentle vibration when the transaction is complete.

Security: Instead of storing and sending credit card numbers, Apple Pay allocates a device-specific account number encrypted on a dedicated chip in the iPhone 6/6 Plus. This number is sent with a one-use transaction ID called a token. “The consumer’s credit card is never exposed during the transaction, and merchants are no longer storing giant databases of credit cards, waiting for some hacker to come along and compromise them,” says Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at mobile security company Lookout. “However, whether [this is more secure] depends on how the token itself is protected and if it is securely stored, neither of which are clear at this point.”

Why you want it: It’s fast. Using the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner to tap and pay beats signing a receipt or entering a PIN code. And with the support of every major U.S. bank, the number of shops that accept Apple Pay could skyrocket very quickly.

Where you can use it: Use it at about 220,000 shops over about a dozen retailer chains, including McDonald’s, Subway, Bloomingdales and Walgreens.

Which phones support it: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus only.

Google Wallet

Google Wallet holds credit and debit card information as well as loyalty cards and discount coupons. You can transfer money into a prepaid card called the Wallet Balance. If you’re using an NFC-enabled Android 4.4 phone, you can pay for purchases in-store. Tap-to-pay won’t work on iPhones or on Android phones running Android 2.3 or older; however, these can access the Wallet’s other features, such as sending or requesting money, one-click checkout at online retailers and tracking orders made with linked payment cards.

Tap to pay: Open the Google Wallet app on your phone, then enter a PIN before holding it against the terminal.

Security: Google encrypts and stores users’ financial details on its servers, and use of the app is protected by a PIN. If someone should manage to pilfer your phone and guess your PIN, Google claims its fraud protection covers 100% of “verified unauthorized transactions.”

Why you want it: Google Wallet supports dozens of loyalty programs and coupon sites. Adding points and receiving discounts when you purchase something is hassle free, even if you’ve forgotten which vouchers and cards you have.

Where you can use it: Use it at any store where contactless payments are accepted.

Which phones support it: Android 2.3; 4.4 and higher required for tap-to-pay; iOS 6 or newer, but does not support tap-to-pay.

softcard-paying-at-kiosk-510px
Softcard

Softcard

Softcard was created by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, so (you guessed it) you’ll need to be on one of these carriers to use it. You’ll also need an NFC-compatible Android phone. The app supports American Express, Chase and Wells Fargo credit cards plus a handful of loyalty and discount cards. You can set up an American Express Serve account and use it to make payments with any debit card, credit card or U.S. bank account.

Tap to pay: As with Google Wallet, open the app, enter your PIN, then hold your NFC smartphone against the payment terminal.

Security: To use Softcard, you need a secure SIM card that can store your financial information so that only the Softcard app can access it. (You can request one from your carrier, assuming your phone is Softcard-compatible.) For each transaction, a one-use token is created so that your card details are not sent to the merchant. Like Google Wallet, a PIN protects the use of the app.

Why you want it: Softcard also scans nearby merchants for offers or discounts available to Softcard users, which you can then use at checkout.

Where you can use it: Use it at dozens of chains including Urban Outfitters, Subway and Walgreens. Check the full list at paywiththis.com.

Which phones support it: Android 4.0 and higher.

LoopPay

LoopPay, a Kickstarter success, works via a smartphone app combined with a Loop device — either a fob ($39, pairable with iPhone or Android phones) or a ChargeCase for iPhone 5/5S ($99). Credit and debit cards, loyalty and rewards cards and your driver’s license can be scanned into the Loop app. Most Android phones running Android 4.2 or newer work with Loop, but some have compatibility issues; check to see if yours works at LoopPay’s compatibility page.

Tap to pay: Hold your fob (or ChargeCase-sheathed iPhone) by the credit card terminal, then swipe your phone screen or press the fob button to pay. If you need to show ID (say, for an alcohol purchase), hit the ID icon on the phone screen and display a scan of any identification you’ve loaded.

Security: All payment information is encrypted and stored in a secure chip inside the Loop fob or ChargeCase, and a PIN protects the use of the app.

Why you want it: LoopPay works at 90% of retailers around the world — far more shops than any of the other apps.

Where you can use it: Use it anywhere there’s a credit card reader.

Which phones support it: iPhone, Android 4.2 and up.

More than an app, not quite a wallet

starbucks-app-balance-screen-320px
Starbucks

Starbucks

This iPhone app combines your loyalty card and prepaid card balance into one handy app for tap-and-pay, keeping track of rewards you’re due and seeing how much more coffee you need to buy before you hit the next reward. Starbucks got this right — the app is used for $6 million in transactions every week.

PayPal

If you’re in a shop that accepts PayPal, log in to the app (iPhone and Android) and check in to your location. You can then take your purchases to the register, tell the cashier you’re paying by PayPal and simply approve the payment on the phone screen. It’s not quite a wallet replacement, but it is handy if you forget your real-world wallet. The app can scan your vicinity for PayPal-friendly merchants.

Keep your information secure

Using a mobile wallet app can be more secure than using a credit card because wallet apps don’t send as much sensitive information (such as your credit card number and expiration date) in the course of a transaction. To maintain security with a mobile payment app on your phone, follow these suggestions from Lookout’s Rogers:

  • Set a password on your phone.
  • Download an app for finding your phone if it’s lost. When your phone becomes your wallet, loss or theft becomes even more inconvenient.
  • Only download mobile payment apps (or, indeed, any apps) from sites you trust. Check the app’s ratings and permissions and read reviews to make sure they’re widely used and respected before you download.
  • Turn off your device’s NFC connection when you’re not using it.
  • Use NFC payment stations with caution; you might end up paying for someone else’s purchases.

Will you be replacing your wallet with an app? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments.

This article was written by Natasha Stokes and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

Mandatory Palestine: What It Was and Why It Matters

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:45 AM PDT

TIME

The map above is from a 1929 TIME article titled “Islam vs. Israel”—even though, as the map makes clear, in 1929 there was no country called Israel. (On a desktop, roll over to zoom; on a mobile device, click.)

Instead, there was Mandatory Palestine. The idea of a mandatory nation, using the common definition of the word, is an odd one: a country that’s obligatory, something that can’t be missed without fear of consequence. But the entity known as “Mandatory Palestine” existed for more than two decades—and, despite its strange-sounding name, had geopolitical consequences that can still be felt today.

The word “mandatory,” in this case, refers not to necessity but to the fact that a mandate caused it to exist. That document, the British Mandate for Palestine, was drawn up in 1920 and came into effect on this day in 1923, Sept. 29. Issued by the League of Nations, the Mandate formalized British rule over parts of the Levant (the region that comprises countries to the east of the Mediterranean), as part of the League’s goal of administrating the region’s formerly Ottoman nations “until such time as they are able to stand alone.” The Mandate also gave Britain the responsibility for creating a Jewish national homeland in the region.

The Mandate did not itself redraw borders—following the end of World War I, the European and regional powers had divvied up the former Ottoman Empire, with Britain acquiring what were then known as Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and Palestine (modern day Israel, Palestine and Jordan)—nor did it by any means prompt the drive to build a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism, the movement to create a Jewish homeland, had emerged in the late 19th century, though it wasn’t exclusively focused on a homeland in Palestine. (Uganda was one of several alternatives proposed over the years.) In 1917, years before the Mandate was issued, the British government had formalized its support for a Jewish state in a public letter from Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour known as the Balfour Declaration.

But by endorsing British control of the region with specific conditions, the League of Nations did help lay the groundwork for the modern Jewish state—and for the tensions between Jews and Arabs in the region that would persist for decades more. Though Israel would not exist for years to come, Jewish migrants flowed from Europe to Mandatory Palestine and formal Jewish institutions began to take shape amid a sometimes violent push to finalize the creation of a Jewish state. Meanwhile, the growing Jewish population exacerbated tensions with the Arab community and fueled conflicting Arab nationalist movements.

TIME reported on some of the tensions in the 1929 article from which the map above is drawn:

The fighting that began between Jews and Arabs at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall (TIME, Aug. 26) spread last week throughout Palestine, then inflamed fierce tribesmen of the Moslem countries which face the Holy Land (see map)…

…Sporadic clashes continuing at Haifa, Hebron and in Jerusalem itself, rolled up an estimated total of 196 dead for all Palestine. A known total of 305 wounded lay in hospitals. Speeding from England in a battleship the British High Commissioner to Palestine, handsome, brusque Sir John Chancellor, landed at Haifa, hurried to Jerusalem and sought to calm the general alarm by announcing that His Majesty’s Government were rushing more troops by sea from Malta and by land from Egypt, would soon control the situation

The clashes in Mandatory Palestine, which at times targeted the British or forced British intervention, began to take a toll on U.K. support for the Mandate. As early as 1929, some newspapers were declaring “Let Us Get Out of Palestine,” as TIME reported in the article on Jewish-Arab tensions. Though the Mandate persisted through World War II, support in war-weary Britain withered further. The U.K. granted Jordan independence in 1946 and declared that it would terminate its Mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948. It left the “Question of Palestine” to the newly formed United Nations, which drafted a Plan of Partition that was approved by the U.N. General Assembly—but rejected by most of the Arab world—on Nov. 27, 1947.

As the day of May 14 came to an end, so did Mandatory Palestine. The region was far from settled, but the Mandate did accomplish at least one of its stated goals. Mere hours earlier, a new document had been issued: the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Read a 1930 cover story about the Zionist movement during the period of Mandatory Palestine: Religion: Zionists

Lorde Crafts a ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ For The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Soundtrack

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:34 AM PDT

Lorde’s contribution to the soundtrack she curated for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 is here. In a statement posted on Tumblr, the 17-year old singer —Ella Yelich-O’Connor — wrote, “It’s my first offering from what I hope will be a soundtrack you love. It’s my attempt at getting inside her head, Katniss’. I hope you like it.”

In the track, Lorde sings: “I’m a princess cut from marble, smoother than a storm/ And the scars that mark my body, they’re silver and gold.” The lyrics, paired with the dusky and lilting tone of the song, show off Lorde’s skill at crafting a character that combines Katniss Everdeen’s toughness with her own gothic overtones; it’s cut in the same darkly grooving vein as her LP Pure Heroine.

Like so many other teenage girls, Lorde also took to Tumblr to post some thoughts on her journey into the dark heart of superstardom and her work on curating The Hunger Games: Mockingjay —Part 1 soundtrack:

i’m sitting up in bed, moving through desert halfway between utah and las vegas. yesterday was our ninth show in eleven days. every night, after i play, and say hi, and take pictures, and i walk up the stairs and we go on our way, i set up in this little bed office. i work from midnight until late on the soundtrack, singing into my computer, listening to demos and final mixes. my bus sleeps. we are almost at the end, the point where this soundtrack gets taken away from me and becomes something real. i’m reminded of this day last year, when pure heroine came out in this country. the feeling of something very solitary that i had worked on spinning around and around further away from me, becoming someone else’s, everyone’s. the past year of my life has seen everything around me multiply in size and number – the stamps on my passport, the number of people i have to ask before i ride on the ferris wheel after my set at a festival, the decibels that follow me when i walk around in public. the other thing that’s grown is me – my fitness, my mental stamina, my ability to think clearly and make decisions – but most of all, my capacity for love. the thousands upon thousands (wait, millions(?!!)) of you who bought pure heroine truly feel like friends to me – it’s no coincidence i’m posting this note here, where i feel the most happy and safe online, the place where i laugh the most and where every day, i feel like people get me. i never knew i could feel such a warm heart for this many people at once. thankyou for hearing about me all those months ago, and sticking around. thankyou for being here.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 soundtrack is out 11/18 on Republic. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 opens in theaters on November 21st.

One Direction Say Don’t ‘Steal My Girl’ on New Single

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 09:28 AM PDT

Attention, dudes of the world: boy-band wonder One Direction, known for stealing the hearts of teenage girls around the world, would prefer if you didn’t try and also steal their lady friends. On “Steal My Girl,” the first official single from their upcoming fourth album, Four, the band reminds male listeners that there are billions of fish in the sea for you to choose from — so long as you keep your hands off the women that “belong” to them. (Come on, fellas, why you gotta be so rude? Don’t you know Harry, Louis, Liam, Zayn and Niall are human, too?)

As for the actual music, 1D appears to be sticking with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Co-written by Louis and Liam, “Steal My Girl” takes some cues from the folksy “Story of My Life” and puts a mellow spin on the 1980s-arena-rock worship of their last release, Midnight Memories. Hear the track above, and catch Four in stores on Nov. 17.