Demi Lovato Responds To Critics Calling Her Out For Cultural Appropriation

Demi Lovato defends her dreads.

Demi Lovato is not backing down.

Related: Demi & Other Stars React To Manchester Explosion

The singer was accused of cultural appropriation when fans spotted her sporting dreadlocks in the No Promises video with Cheat Codes. Viewers immediately questioned her use of the hairstyle considering there is always a discord when white or non-black people sport them.

Twitter went in:

And now Demi herself has addressed the controversy. But if you thought an apology was involved, you’re so, so wrong.

She tweeted:

Then she changed the subject to her appearance on Jimmy Fallon:

Hmm, pulling the “haters” card is bound to garner some sympathy. But is it really hating when people are just pointing out that you may have done something wrong?

Well, whatever. The 24-year-old is clearly unbothered since she gave the most condescending response ever.

Do YOU think Demi was out of line???

[Image via Twitter.]

Tags: controversy, demi lovato, hairstyles, jimmy fallon, twitter

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Is Donald Trump’s casino empire linked to money laundering? Past financial crimes may be the president’s biggest problem

So Donald Trump screwed the pooch again. This time the president did it on camera, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he made a point of quieting the room and addressing reporters to say this out of the blue:

Just so you understand, I never mentioned it, the word or the name Israel. I never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.

He was referring, of course, to his infamous May 10 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the White House, the one in which he gave away sensitive foreign intelligence and explained to his guests that he’d gotten rid of that pesky little problem he had with Jim Comey. Although there has been some reporting that the original information came from Israeli intelligence, no one has ever claimed Trump told the Russians that. In fact, national security adviser H.R. McMaster had gone to great lengths to explain that Trump had no idea where the information came from. So this was simultaneously a confirmation of reporting that Israel was the source and a confirmation that all classified information should be kept far away from President Trump.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the gusher of news about the Russia investigation continued to flow. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn gave notice that he planned to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than testify before Congress, And then there was the usual late-breaking Washington Post bombshell, this time reporting that Trump had asked NSA Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to push back on the Russia story after Comey’s congressional testimony, and that White House officials had tried to get them to encourage the FBI to drop the Flynn probe. It was just another day of gaffes, scandals and lawbreaking in the era of Trump.

But there have been a few stories over the past several days that may have Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner feeling a bit more nervous than usual. Last Friday among the cascading breaking news, one factoid was mostly overlooked in the big Washington Post story reporting that the Russia investigation had expanded to include a member of the White House staff who is close to the president:

Although the case began quietly last July as an effort to determine whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian operatives to meddle in the presidential election campaign, the investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president …

While there has been a loud public debate in recent days over the question of whether the president might have attempted to obstruct justice in his private dealings with Comey, whom Trump fired last week, people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes. [Emphasis added.]

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo observed that the investigation may be homing in on the story he’s been following for some time about Trump’s business and financial dealings over the decades with a whole cast of nefarious characters, including authentic mobster Felix Sater, who has ties to Russian oligarchs and gangsters and may be a U.S. government informant. Over and over again in Trump’s past you find connections to criminals and shady characters who operate on the very edge of legality. Marshall notes that for the past couple of decades, Trump has had a specific business model:

Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.

You may have heard that the congressional committees have requested the Treasury Department’s financial crimes enforcement network, or FinCEN, to provide any information it has on Trump, his businesses, his top officials and campaign aides. CNN got access to 400 pages of this FinCEN information on Trump’s casino operations in Atlantic City and found that the Trump Taj Mahal casino broke money-laundering rules 106 times in the first year and half of operation and paid nearly half a million dollars in fines in just one settlement agreement in 1998. The network reported:

According to a dozen anti-money laundering experts, casinos often run into these problems. But getting caught with 106 violations in the casino’s opening years is an indicator of a serious problem, they said. The violations date back to a time when the Taj Mahal was the preferred gambling spot for Russian mobsters living in Brooklyn, according to federal investigators who tracked organized crime in New York City. They also occurred at a time when the Taj Mahal casino was short on cash and on the verge of bankruptcy.

One might assume this is ancient history, but consider this story from Fortune in February 2015, just four months before Trump descended from his golden escalator to announce his candidacy:

The parent of Trump Taj Mahal, one of Atlantic City, New Jersey’s struggling casinos, has settled U.S. government charges that it violated federal laws designed to thwart money laundering, court filings show.Trump Taj Mahal agreed to the assessment of a $10 million civil penalty by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, according to a proposed consent order filed on Tuesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

The violations in that case went back to 2003.

Casinos are an obvious choice for money launderers. So is real estate, for that matter. And Trump has been closely associated for years with the kind of people who dabble in such behavior, including Russian mobsters. It’s entirely possible that Trump’s panic over the Russia investigation doesn’t stem from any collusion with the Russian government over the election but rather from his possible involvement with Russian mobsters and oligarchs involved in money laundering and other criminal activities.

Trump may not know much about how the presidency works, but he surely has enough street smarts to know that once the authorities get all up in your business they will follow wherever the trail leads.

There’s a reason that the president refuses to be transparent about his financial dealings and we know it isn’t because he’s so modest. He’s hiding something, and a special prosecutor with a mandate to look into financial crimes is probably going to find out what it is.

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WannaCry Malware Has Strong Links to Group Tied to North Korea, Symantec Says

A group linked to North Korea is highly likely behind this month’s global ransomware assault, and the attack more closely resembles the behavior of a crime ring rather than a government-orchestrated campaign, a cybersecurity researcher said.

In a blog post late Monday, Symantec Corp., a cybersecurity firm, said the WannaCry ransomware carried “strong links” to Lazarus, a group security experts suspect was behind the theft of $81 million last year from the Bangladesh central bank and a 2014 hack of Sony Pictures…

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Trump Meets With Abbas, but Progress on Peace Remains Elusive

The White House viewed this visit as a start simply because the president visited both leaders in their home territories and reinforced his commitment to solving a dispute that has bedeviled American presidents for generations. Mr. Trump has assigned Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his longtime lawyer now serving as White House negotiator, to lead his Middle East peacemaking effort.

Mr. Trump made no demands of Mr. Abbas in their public comments other than an indirect plea to stop payments to the families of Palestinian attackers held in Israeli prisons. “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Mr. Trump said, without saying who was doing that.

Mr. Abbas, who visited Mr. Trump at the White House earlier this month, repeated “our commitment to cooperate with you in order to make peace and forge a historic peace deal.” But just as Mr. Netanyahu had done on Monday, Mr. Abbas outlined the same conditions that he has maintained for years without indicating that he would be willing to meet in the middle.

“Once again, we reassert to you our positions of accepting the two-state solution along the borders of 1967, the state of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem living alongside Israel in peace and security,” Mr. Abbas said.

Blaming Israel for the long impasse, he added: “Our fundamental problem is with the occupation and the settlements and failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine in the same way we recognize it, which undermines the realization of a two-state solution.”

That model — the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel — has been the cornerstone of peace talks and American policy for two decades or more.

But Mr. Trump has signaled that he is not committed to that formula, long dismissed by some of his advisers, including David M. Friedman, his newly arrived ambassador to Israel. At a White House meeting with Mr. Netanyahu in February, Mr. Trump said he could live with a one-state solution or a two-state solution or any other formula to which the two sides agree.

In the past, Mr. Netanyahu has nominally supported creation of a Palestinian state but lately has largely avoided expressing that as he faces pressure from the political right within his own governing coalition not to compromise. Opponents of the formula within his cabinet argue that a Palestinian state would simply provide a haven for terrorists without guaranteeing Israeli security.

Mr. Trump came to Bethlehem on the road from Jerusalem, a short drive but a world away culturally, politically and economically. Even for a presidential motorcade, security was especially tight along the way as Mr. Trump rode through a checkpoint and passed along the security barrier that has separated the two peoples.

For Mr. Trump and at least some members of his team, this is all an education and they have, at times, stumbled over the details.

The president’s daily schedule for Tuesday originally referred to Mr. Abbas as the president of “Palestine,” a term that the United States government generally does not use because it implies a state that does not yet exist. Two hours later, the White House issued an updated version of the schedule in which it replaced the word Palestine with “Palestinian Authority.”

After the meeting with Mr. Abbas, Mr. Trump headed back to Jerusalem where he planned to lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance memorial, and then deliver a speech at the Israel Museum discussing his visit and his hopes for peace.

After wrapping up the fourth day of his nine-day overseas trip, Mr. Trump is scheduled to fly Tuesday evening to Rome and meet on Wednesday at the Vatican with Pope Francis. From there, the president will travel to Brussels for a gathering of NATO leaders on Thursday and finally to Sicily on Friday for the annual summit meeting of the Group of 7 leading nations.

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Transgender Surgeries Up 20 Percent in 2 Years

By Maureen Salamon

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Until Gearah Goldstein fully transitioned her gender, being female housed in a male body felt like a hunger she couldn’t satisfy.

A vital part of Goldstein’s transition involved multiple gender confirmation surgeries several years ago that aligned her appearance with the person she’s always felt like inside.

Goldstein’s experience highlights a growing trend among transgender people in the United States, who increasingly opt for various surgeries not only to alter their genitalia, but other sex-specific features, such as chest and facial contours.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports a nearly 20 percent jump in transgender-related surgeries in the first two years of collecting data on these procedures.

“The findings highlight how important this type of corrective surgery really is,” said Goldstein, 49, who lives in Chicago and works as an advocate for transgender youth.

“For me, it was absolutely required to feel like I was living in a body that correctly matched the identity I live every day,” she added. “It truly was lifesaving and I never approached it as cosmetic.”

More than 3,200 gender confirmation surgeries of all types were performed in 2016, the plastic surgeons’ group reports. That represents a rise of nearly 20 percent from 2015.

About 1.4 million adults in the United States, or about 0.6 percent of the adult population, identify as transgender, according to a 2016 analysis by the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

Experts attribute the increase in gender confirmation surgeries to more widespread insurance coverage, as well as growing discussion and acceptance surrounding transgender people.

“With the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and some legislation that bars discrimination against transgender people, those patients are now having their surgeries covered by their insurance plans, resulting in quite an increase in numbers requesting surgery,” said Dr. Debra Johnson, president of the plastic surgeons’ society.

“So part of it was that [surgeries] are now covered, and there was a pent-up demand, if you will, of patients who once couldn’t afford to have surgery who now can,” she said.


Gender confirmation surgeries range from sex “reassignment” — altering a patient’s genitals — to breast augmentation or reduction, facial and neck contouring, and even hair transplants.

Comprehensive care surrounding gender transition may also involve hormone therapy and psychological counseling.

“We felt we needed to have a handle on how many patients are having this surgery, so we could help educate [ASPS] members and patients,” Johnson explained.

Dr. Loren Schechter is a plastic surgeon in Chicago whose practice specializes in gender reassignment. He said the 20 percent recorded rise in transgender-related surgeries nationally between 2015 and 2016 seems low, considering his practice has “seen an exponential growth” in these procedures.

Schechter’s patients have ranged from teenagers to those in their 70s. High-profile transitions among public figures, such as Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), have helped fuel the upward swing in numbers.

“The Jenner story is important [as] she’s been able, because of her notoriety, to raise awareness and bring it into mainstream discussion,” Schechter said. “In spite of all the frenzy around it, I think she’s done quite a bit to raise awareness. But these issues have been around for millennia — the question is how society is now addressing them.”

Regardless of which type of gender confirmation surgery is chosen, it’s not cheap. Schechter and Johnson said costs can range from $6,000 to $10,000 for breast procedures; $20,000 to $30,000 for vaginoplasty to construct a vagina for a transgender woman; and $50,000 to $60,000 for phalloplasty to construct a penis for a transgender man.

Johnson noted that the majority of transgender patients are primarily interested in so-called “top surgery” — either breast augmentation or mastectomy to achieve a more female- or male-appearing chest. Altering genitalia is next in popularity, followed by changing facial features — such as the nose, chin or forehead — to soften or strengthen their prominence.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all — there are many different procedures,” Schechter said. “Surgery is not for everyone. It’s one component, and often a very dramatic one, but it’s also related to cultural norms, and some people are able to find relief from gender dysphoria without surgery.”

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ report was released May 22.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Debra Johnson, M.D., president, American Society of Plastic Surgeons; Loren Schechter, M.D., plastic surgeon, Chicago; Gearah Goldstein, Chicago; May 22, 2017, report, American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Restaurant Apologizes For Adding ‘Pill Cosby’ Cocktail To The Menu — And Their Defense Is So Lame!

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As you can tell by their name, the Washington D.C. bar and restaurant Diet Starts Monday has a cheeky sense of humor about their high calorie fare.

Their logo, which you can buy on shirts, hoodies, and sneakers at the pop-up, even has a skeleton serving a giant burger.

But they should have stopped at joking about how their sandwiches made with bacon-wrapped donuts instead of bread would kill you — because they went too far when it came to their celebrity-inspired cocktails.

Related: Jimmy Fallon Responds To Rumors His Drinking Habits Are Spiraling ‘Out Of Control’!

In addition to drinks named for D.C. celebs like Dave Chappelle and Taraji P. Henson (as well as disgraced mayor Marion Barry), they also introduced one named after Bill Cosby. Yeah.

And as if it weren’t in bad taste enough to name a drink after the man accused of raping women after drugging their beverages, it was called the “Pill Cosby” and was garnished with big fake capsules (above).

Co-founder Davin Gentry told the Washingtonian that it was meant to be an awareness-raising commentary about rape culture, saying:

“It lets people be a little more aware.”

You’re telling us your intentions are as pure as the Casa Noble Crystal tequila? Sorry, but frankly that’s a hard pill to swallow.

This just looks to us like a joke meant to cause controversy to get attention. You know. Trolling.

Related: Tomi Lahren’s Tweet About ‘Holding A Job’ Is Hilariously Timed With Her Lame New Gig

After being inundated with complaints on Twitter and Facebook, the restaurant apologized Monday and deleted the tweet advertising the new drink:

They even deleted their apology tweets after the fact!

Looks like the attention they got is NOT the kind they wanted.

Live by the controversy, die by the controversy.

[Image via NBC/Twitter.]

Tags: alcohol, bill cosby, business blitz, controversy, diet starts monday, facebook, food, icky icky poo, tacky and true, twitter, viral: news, wacky

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Why garlic breath lingers and 6 other food facts you need to know

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Is there a way to bypass the garlic breath that sticks around for hours after you ingest it? How big of a role does color play in our food preferences? And when will taste-o-vision be in everyone’s homes?

Thomas Hofmann, a professor of food chemistry and molecular sensory science at the Technical University of Munich in Germany did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) to put a dent in our understanding of flavor. Grab your science nerd hats (and maybe a medical dictionary), because here are the highlights.


On if he ascribes to the idea of the five basic tastes: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami-ness:

“Yes, there are five basic taste qualities identified today on the phenomological as well as genetic level. Next to the five basic tastes with one receptor for sweet, one for umami, one for sour, one for salty and 25 for bitter, we are equipped with about 400 olfactory receptors.”

On why garlic lingers on the breath longer than other foods:

“After ingestion, some of the garlic odorants are metabolized to give allyl methyl sulfide (AMS). This AMS is the only odor-active metabolite formed, is circulated in the blood stream and then exhaled via the lungs, thus giving rise to the bad garlic breath.”

On how color effects our food choices:

“Indeed, our chemical senses can be fooled by other sensory inputs. In particular false colors induce another expectation in our brain that is then not met by the type of aroma or taste we perceive. These cases of “sensory incongruency” challenges our decision on what we really perceive.”

On whether there will ever be taste-o-vision:

“This will be possible in the future. By means of flavor synthesizers, the odor codes of foods or any natural flavor may be re-engineered in real time to deliver authentic odor experiences. Examples are another dimension in cinema wher you can smell what the actors may smell. Another option may be odor messages send by your smart phone.”On whether the 6th taste receptor for fat is scientifically known or just a myth:“There is quite solid science out there demonstrating that we are able to sensorially detect fat. Interestingly, it could be shown that it is not the fatty acid receptor activation alone which gives us the fatty or creamy oral sensation. More precise, the fatty acid receptor activation needs to be accompanied by the trigeminal sensing of hydrocarbon moieties to induce an enhanced fat perception.”

On whether it’s possible to enhance the tasting experience by leading the brain through a specific sequence of flavors:

“Indeed, the sequential combination of certain flavors are horrible, like tooth paste and orange juice. In this case an undesirable bitter taste is perceived that is mediated by bitter taste receptors which respond to the compounds in one food and are co-activated and/or allosterically modulated by compounds present in the other foods. However, most of the phenomena are not clarified on a molecular level and needs future investigations.”

On how he understands the difference between “flavor molecules” and the experience of tasting: “Usually, about 3-50 odor molecules have been shown to create the aroma of each and every food. The experience of tasting now comes by integration of the sensory input in our brain and this is also affected by other sensory inputs besides taste and smell, like vision, texture perception etc.”

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Navy SEAL Team Kills 7 Militants in Yemen During Raid, U.S. Says

Members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 killed seven militants in central Yemen during an early Tuesday raid on a compound associated with Al Qaeda, American military officials said.

It was the first ground raid in Yemen that the military has acknowledged since Navy SEALs carried out a similar attack in late January — the first such operation authorized by President Trump. One Navy SEAL team member died and three others were injured in that mission, and as many as 25 civilians were killed.

In a statement after the operation, the United States Central Command said the latest raid targeted a compound in the governorate of Marib that was linked to the Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.

“During this operation, U.S. forces killed seven AQAP militants through a combination of small-arms fire and precision airstrikes,” the statement said, referring to strikes by drones, helicopters or attack planes.

Col. John Thomas, a Central Command spokesman, said in a telephone interview afterward that the raid was intended to seize potentially important information from the compound — typically electronic devices such as computers, hard drives and cellphones — and was not an attempt to kill or capture a particular individual.

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Could ‘Safer’ Filtered Cigarettes Be More Deadly?

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Filtered cigarettes might be even more lethal than unfiltered ones, and a new review suggests that they have been boosting rates of a cancer that takes root deep in the lungs.

The findings have prompted the review authors to call for federal regulators to ban the use of ventilation holes in cigarette filters.

“Modern cigarettes are more risky when it comes to lung cancer,” said review co-author Dr. Peter Shields. He is deputy director with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University.

“The design of cigarette filters that have ventilation can make the cigarettes even more dangerous because those holes can change how the tobacco burns, allowing smokers to inhale more smoke and think that the smoke is safer because it is smoother,” Shields explained.

The tobacco industry has embraced filters for over 50 years, often touting them as “light” cigarettes that reduce tar intake. Tiny ventilation holes in these filters allow smokers to take in more fresh air.

For the new report, researchers reviewed almost 3,300 tobacco studies and internal tobacco company research. The investigators determined that their analysis “strongly suggests” that these filters have contributed to the rise in a form of lung cancer known as adenocarcinoma.

“The design of cigarette filters that have ventilation can make the cigarettes even more dangerous,” Shields said. “This applies to all cigarettes, because almost all the cigarettes on the market have the holes, not just the ones that used to be called ‘lights’ and ‘ultra-lights.'”

Shields said research shows that smokers take deeper drags when cigarettes are ventilated. As a result, “smoke can go deeper into the lungs where adenocarcinomas more commonly develop,” he said.

Adenocarcinomas are a kind of non-small cell lung cancer that penetrates deeply into the lungs. While the prevalence of lung cancer has gone down, the number of adenocarcinomas has gone up, and a 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s report blames the increase on “changes in the design and composition of cigarettes since the 1950s.”


The new report recommends that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should consider a ban on ventilating filters, although Shields cautioned that “we are not saying to remove filters.” Instead, the report authors want “only to change their designs by removing the holes on the filters.”

Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior scientific advisor with the American Lung Association, praised the new report, although he noted that his association has not taken a stand on the future of cigarette filters.

“There’s always the problem of unintended consequences,” he said. “What happens if we take the filters off? People might believe that ‘Well, they took the offending agents off cigarettes, so they’re safe now.’ The whole point of unintended consequences is they’re consequences you don’t think about.”

Still, Edelman said, “we strongly supported the legislation that gave the FDA control over tobacco products. Their goal should always be to reduce harm to the greatest extent possible.”

Altria, a major tobacco manufacturer that is the parent company of Philip Morris, didn’t reply to a request for comment.

The study was published online May 22 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Peter Shields, M.D., deputy director, Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor, College of Medicine, Ohio State University,  Columbus; Norman Edelman, M.D., senior scientific advisor, American Lung Association; May 22, 2017, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, online

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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