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    If you had the ability to upload someone’s consciousness to a supercomputer, then launch it into space with a crew in order to answer some of humankind’s most pressing questions, you could do much worse than RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan. That’s just what Impossible Foods did this week with a new, four-part video series that’s the fast-food advertising equivalent to a Thunderbirds-inspired, weed-induced fever dream.What is your dog thinking? Onward!

    Impossible Foods “Wu-Tang In Space Eating Impossible Sliders”

    What: A new four-part video series to mark Impossible Foods’ addition to the White Castle menu.

    Who: Impossible Foods, White Castle, director Sam Spiegel

    Why we care: I wrote about this earlier this week, but it’s worth repeating: Ghostface and GZA seem like perfectly good space travel companions, even in a B-movie reality. “It’s kind of crazy on Earth right now,” says Ghostface. “So we came to space to get some perspective and acquire some knowledge.” Amen.

    Annapurna Pictures “Vice trailer”

    What: First full trailer for Adam McKay’s new film about Dick Cheney.

    Who: Annapurna Pictures

    Why we care: No, it’s not that Christian Bale has once again transformed his body to look almost unrecognizable. That’s great, obviously, as is Sam Rockwell’s Dubya impression, and the anticipation of seeing more of Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld is certainly there, too. But here it’s all put together soooo damn well in one tightly coiled promotional package. From The Killers tune to the words framing Cheney walking down the stairs, to the throwback character credits, it just oozes style in a way that somehow amps you up in a way that feels more like Guardians of the Galaxy than a political drama. Not. An easy. Feat.

    I Touch Myself Project “I Touch Myself”

    View this post on Instagram

    This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I’ve recorded a version of The Divinyls global hit “I Touch Myself” to remind women to self-check regularly. _ Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key – it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that. _ The music video is part of the I Touch Myself Project which was created in honor of celebrated diva, Chrissy Amphlett, who passed away from breast cancer, and who gave us her hit song to remind women to put their health first. The project is proudly supported by @BerleiAus for Breast Cancer Network Australia. _ Visit the link in my bio to find out more. #ITouchMyselfProject #BerleiAus #BCNA #DoItForYourself

    A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

    What: A new video for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, paying tribute to Chrissy Amphlett, The Divinyls singer who passed away in 2013 from breast cancer.

    Who:I Touch Myself Project, Berlei, Serena Williams

    Why we care: Just an incredibly unique way to get a powerful message across. As Williams writes in her Instagram post, “Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key–it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that.”

    Merck “Reverse”

    What: A new short film to raise awareness for maternal health, created by Merck’s Safer Childbirth Cities initiative.

    Who: Merck, Matter

    Why we care: It’s a heartbreaking story, creatively told. But it’s what’s behind it that is more heartbreaking. While maternal death rates have declined globally over the past 25 years, the U.S. is one of the only high-income countries where maternal mortality is actually on the rise. An estimated 60% of these deaths are preventable, and there are serious racial disparities, with black women being three to four times more likely to die than white women. The Merck for Mothers program has committed $10M to towards helping improve maternal health in the U.S.

    Burger King “Blank Whopper”

    What: Yet another BK stunt, this time using burgers to teach a lesson in exercising one’s democratic rights.

    Who: Burger King, David Miami

    Why we care: OK, so this ad is for Burger King in Brazil, but its point is relevant anywhere elections are held. Many people don’t vote due to the ole’ It Won’t Make Any Difference reasoning. And while voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other dirty tricks are still a huge issue, exercising our right to vote remains an incredibly important piece of personal power. You want fries with that?


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    Would you live with your coworkers? A new concept from the housewares and apparel company Muji makes the idea look almost enticing.

    Created for the annual exhibition House Vision, the prototype is a thought experiment in the way people live in super-dense cities. It was designed by architect Go Hasegawa specifically for employees in Muji’s Shanghai office, who can travel up to three hours to work–one way. It’s a common problem in big cities all over the world, and Hasegawa’s design is meant to balance space-saving with privacy, transforming a 1.5-story space (which are common across the city) into a usable space for four.

    [Photo: courtesy China House Vision]

    The lower level features an open communal space, with a spacious kitchen and lounging area, and enough storage cubbies to house the trinkets of a small army. The decor is, of course, provided by Muji, meaning it’s paired down and simple, the vision of calm.

    The middle of the space features a steel-framed structure supporting four raised rooms. When you go up the stairs–which serve as seating for an entertainment area when you’re awake–you reach your lofted sleeping area, which offers just enough privacy to rest. Each “room” is really just a big, elevated wood box,  consist of shelving, a side table with lamp, and a rollout bed.

    [Photo: courtesy China House Vision]

    These lofted rooms are actually inspired by China’s own heritage of canopy beds. Popular during the Ming period, the four-post beds were open during the day, serving as seating and even sometimes including accoutrements like integrated tables. But at night, panels or silks would curtain off the bed for privacy. The beds were, in essence, a room within a room. A cozy cubicle.

    Muji and Hasegawa essentially repurposed this tradition and lifted it into the air, creating tiny lofted bedrooms without building out a whole second floor. “In Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities with soaring land prices, this kind of housing will become a brand-new type of staff quarters,” an exhibition statement explains.

    While it’s enticing, as these minimal living concepts so often are, I’ll keep my queen bed, ample closet space, and bathroom I don’t have to share with my management team. Or at the very least, I’ll take a look at Muji’s prefab housing line first.


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    One of the biggest dangers to you and your team is burnout, and organizations are facing an employee burnout crisis, according to research by Gallup. Twenty-three percent of employees reporting feeling burned out at work “often or always,” while another 44% reported feeling burned out “sometimes,” the study finds.

    “Not only is employee burnout prevalent in organizations, but it has a significant impact on the health, happiness, and productivity of employees,” says Ben Wigert, lead researcher for Gallup’s workplace management practice.

    Employees who report burnout are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to leave their current employer, according to Gallup.

    Why is burnout so rampant?

    Two reasons, says Wigert: Workplace engagement, well-being, and life satisfaction studies have had relatively flat numbers over the past several years, suggesting management and culture within organizations has ample room for improvement.

    “Second, we are seeing extensive disruption in the workplaces, from the continually increasing speed of technology and globalization to organizations becoming more matrixed,” he says. “Take concerns about management, add in that work demands are increasing and happening faster than ever, and top it off with mobile technology that connects employees to their work at home and on vacation. For us, these factors spelled out a recipe for workplace burnout.”

    Burnout can also be a symptom or outcome of a driven leadership style, suggests Adam Goodman, director of the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University. “There are times when a pace-setting style is useful, such as crises or unprecedented challenges,” he says. “However, this cannot and should not be the primary style. It’s not sustainable or healthy.”

    Fortunately, burnout can be remedied or reversed, according to the Gallup research. Here are four ways you can help your employees alleviate or avoid it altogether:

    1. Improve communication

    Employees who have a manager who’s always willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out, according to Gallup. Managers need to improve their dialogue with employees so there is an opportunity for employees to comfortably raise issues, and for managers to notice behavior that’s out of the ordinary, says Wigert.

    “The most proactive thing a manager can do to prevent burnout is establish a regular cadence of discussing work, career, and life with employees,” he says. “These don’t have to be big, time-consuming conversations. An easy starting place is ensuring you’re having informal quick connects on at least a weekly basis. The most engaging managers in the world do these almost daily, and they’re as simple as a quick hallway conversation, e-mail, IM, or phone call.”

    Once managers have established an ongoing dialogue and trusting relationship with an employee, it opens the door for them to more easily ask if everything is okay when they notice that an employee seems to be struggling.

    If an organization requires more out of employees due to a special situation, managers need to communicate this information, says Goodman. “Leaders should label circumstances as something that requires greater urgency and is time-bound so we know and don’t get caught in that circumstance,” he says.

    2. Encourage teamwork

    Coworker relationships are important because they provide another line of emotional support for employees who are struggling. Coworkers often understand the stress of a job better than managers do, says Wigert. To encourage teamwork, Wigert suggests that managers collaboratively set team goals.

    “Working toward something together, that you’re committed to, forms strong bonds and fosters collaboration,” he says. “Define success and discuss the roles, processes, and partnerships that will get you there.”

    Wigert also suggests that managers discuss team strengths and frustrations, recognize and reward team performance, encourage socialization, and provide opportunities for team members to learn and grow together.

    “Teams learn and growth together when they experience new things and reflect on past performance as a team,” he says. “Having regular touch-base meetings creates a natural opportunity for teams to discuss recent events and plan for the future. Further, giving them stretch assignments, creative projects, and time to brainstorm encourages them to collaborate in new ways.”

    3. Focus on strengths

    Employees who have the opportunity to do what they do best are 57% less likely to frequently experience burnout, according to Gallup.

    “When managers focus on employees’ strengths, they are much more likely to be engaged,” says Wigert. “Finding people who are a good fit for their job, positioning them to do what they do best, and engaging them is the recipe for success. Not only does this insulate them from burnout, but it also leads to substantially better performance and less chance of exiting the organization in the next 12 months.”

    Engagement is a huge buffer to preventing burnout, says Wigert. “The manager is responsible for about 70% of the things that impact employee engagement.”

    Employees are also at high risk for burnout when their strengths and interests are not a good match for the job. “This leads to constantly struggling with the work being difficult, frustrating, and exhausting,” says Wigert. “And even if the work isn’t overwhelming, lack of passion for your job can lead to burnout. Most people want to invest in work that is rewarding. When they don’t experience that return on investment due to the nature of the work or a toxic work environment, it weighs on their self-worth, direction in life, and overall well-being.”

    4. Connect to purpose

    Employees are significantly less likely to be burned out when they can connect their work to their company’s mission or purpose in a way that makes their job feel important, according to Gallup. “People do not just go to work for a paycheck; they want to find meaning in what they do,” according to the Gallup research. “Managers must do more than point to the mission statement on the wall—they must show how their employees’ contributions make a difference in the world.”

    Connecting individual work to the organization’s mission also helps employees prioritize, says Goodman.

    “Each person can connect with the aspects of their work that make meaningful contributions while also understanding work is less valuable or useful,” he says. “Knowing what work to stop or defer is as important as knowing what work to do. That tends to give people powerful filter for first best use of time. Not everything is priority if I understand what’s important and will move the organization forward.”


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    Facial recognition algorithms are at work everywhere in our world, from Phone Xs that rely on the technology as a security measure to the smart glasses that police in China are using to identify criminal suspects. That doesn’t mean facial recognition is perfect–in fact, it’s provably biased: A study of three major algorithms found discrepancies in accuracy based on the subject’s race and gender. Some activists are even developing ways to confuse the technology.

    How do you have to distort a face so that facial recognition algorithms no longer see a face–and evade the technology that has become so pervasive in our world? That was the question the Seoul-based artistic duo Shinseungback and Kim Yong Hun posed to a group of 10 different painters. The result is their series Nonfacial Portrait, a striking collection of painted portraits that evade the algorithms.

    [Photo: courtesy Shinseungback Kimyonghun]

    The paintings, which are currently on display at the Seoul Museum of Art, are each so wildly different that you wouldn’t know they were all inspired by a single photo of Yong Hun.

    One has a sky blue outline of a bust, with the eyes, mouth, and nose scattered around the canvas. Another looks like the face has been entirely blurred out. Others are so heavily abstracted you can barely make out the portrait at all.

    “It is not easy to paint a portrait whose face is not detected by machine vision,” the duo tell Fast Company via email. “If one makes the portrait close to the subject, machines will easily detect the face. And if one distorts the face too much, the painting could not be seen as a portrait of the person.”

    [Photo: courtesy Shinseungback Kimyonghun]

    To ensure each painting wouldn’t be detected by a computer, Shinseungback and Yong Hun rigged up a camera with three facial recognition algorithms wherever each painter would be working. As the artists worked, the camera searched for faces and a monitor let the artist know if it found any, guiding the work so that the final product would be invisible to all three algorithms. At the museum, a video documenting each artist’s process is displayed on a screen next to the finished portrait.

    “To complete a nonfacial portrait, the painters had to find a small visual space that only humans can perceive,” they say. “Have the painters succeeded? Machines cannot find any faces in the portraits. But do we see the face of the subject in all of the paintings?”

    For the pair, this gap between what machines can see and what humans can see is a necessary one–even if it continues to shrink.

    “It will be more and more difficult to find unique human abilities as technology develops further,” they say. “But we need to keep looking for it, not to find our supremacy over machines but to know who we are.”


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    The job market may be heating up, but Americans still aren’t saving enough for retirement. And the growing number of gig economy workers–freelancers, independent contractors, and sharing economy workers–are struggling even more.

    A 2018 Bankrate survey found that 40% of respondents save 5% or less of their income, and half of those save nothing at all. And another survey by online investment company Betterment found that:

    • Seven in 10 full-time gig economy workers are unprepared to sustain their lifestyle in retirement
    • One in three of them set aside no money for retirement
    • One-third associate retirement with anxiety

    And relying on Social Security as a backup likely isn’t going to cut it. As a recent Fast Company story detailed, Social Security is only projected to pay full benefits until 2035, then will cut benefits by 20%. The average benefit today is $1,369 per month, just slightly above the poverty line.

    Challenges

    Gig economy workers are one-person businesses. If they’re able to support themselves, why can’t they manage their retirement savings, too? The self-employed face challenges that may make it more difficult to save for retirement, says Susan J. Ashford, chair, Management and Organizations Department at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor. They may have highly cyclical “feast or famine” income streams. In addition to a regular paycheck, they lack some of the employer-provided or employer-subsidized benefits that may contribute to greater economic stability, such as health and disability insurance, access to unemployment benefits during lean times, financial counseling, and paid time off. “These people report living very close to the economic edge,” she says.

    The self-employed may also not understand the financials of their business and may be taking home less than they think. And they’re also responsible for paying 100% of their Social Security and Medicare taxes through self-employment tax, while employers pay a portion of those responsibilities for their employees. And they also may not have the benefit of an employer establishing an easy way for them to automatically contribute to a retirement account, while ensuring account fees are reasonable and possibly even offering an employment match.

    Advantages

    The good news is that gig economy workers have some advantages, too. First, unlike employees, they can deduct most of their business-related expenses from their gross income, reducing the amount of money on which they’re taxed.

    “The tax code favors self-employed individuals when it comes to saving for retirement,” says Ric Edelman, founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services based in Fairfax, Virginia, and author of The Truth About Your Future: The Money Guide You Need Now, Later, and Much Later.

    In addition, the government has established several  vehicles that allow self-employed individuals to save significantly for retirement in a tax-advantaged way. For example, in 2018, Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs) allow self-employed people and their employees to contribute as much as 25% of net self-employment earnings up to $55,000. Other retirement savings options include solo 401(k) plans and Savings Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE IRAs), which vary in their thresholds and administration requirements. Of course, for gig workers who may not even make as much as the annual thresholds for savings, contributing to these plans may be challenging.

    In addition, gig workers, because they know how to find their own work and be paid for it, may have the opportunity to supplement their retirement income, says Matthew S. Ruttledge, a research economist with the Center for Retirement at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. They may also be able to work longer and keep saving, as well as delay claiming Social Security, which could increase the benefit to which they’re entitled. They may be able to scale their workload up or down as needed while getting the social interaction and cognitive stimulation that work provides.

    “Freelancing or independent contracting or consulting is often a good way for workers to step back without completely removing themselves from some of those benefits that they might get,” he says. He also reminds gig workers to fully report their income because their retirement benefit will be based on how much they earn.

    Possible solutions

    Some believe that more from a policy perspective to help self-employed people prepare for retirement–and that the time to do so is now. Edelman is gravely concerned about the future of Social Security and what cutbacks will mean for future retirees and taxpayers. If the projected cuts come to fruition, “it will be a disaster of magnitude that we haven’t seen since the depression of the 1930s,” he says. The result will likely be wholesale tax increases to increase benefits.

    Edleman created the T.R.U.S.T. (Tomorrow’s Retirement for the U.S. Today) Fund for America to facilitate bringing ideas on how to deal with Social Security shortfalls and facilitate solutions. That effort led to Fund Our Future, a coalition created in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. While the coalition does not make recommendations about solutions, it is working on raising awareness of the issue among voters to help them better understand the issues and encouraging new ideas about the current system and potential changes to it.

    There are some promising ideas and programs that may help the self-employed more easily save for retirement and achieve greater overall financial security, says David Mitchell, senior program manager with The Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program. Portable benefits programs, Open Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs) or Pooled Employer Plans (PEPs) let employers combine resources on behalf of independent workers to purchase group health and disability insurance without having to meet onerous Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) minimum protections for health insurance and retirement savings accounts. In May 2017, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representative Susan DelBene (D-WA) introduced The Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act, which would establish a $20 million portable benefits pilot program at the U.S. Department of Labor.

    At the state level, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, and Oregon are launching automatic-enrollment IRAs, government-facilitated programs administered by private financial firms, according to the Pew Charitable Trust. However, it’s unclear whether these will be routinely available to self-employed individuals. The myRA program, which was introduced in 2014 by the Obama administration and provided access to retirement accounts for low-income workers, was shuttered in 2017.

    While there is no silver bullet for gig workers to achieve financial security in retirement, helping them understand the advantages and challenges they face is a first step. And, as Social Security’s future benefits generate questions, some are looking for solutions to a subset of workers for whom retirement may look particularly grim.


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    In late December 2017, the price of eggs and milk suddenly doubled throughout Iran. A few days later, hundreds of protestors took to the streetsin Marshad, Kermanshah, and several other cities. Within weeks, the country was engulfed in the largest demonstrations it had seen since a rigged presidential election in 2009. Demonstrators inveighed against inflation and corruption, but even in traditional strongholds of support for the Islamic Republic regime, they chanted, “Death to the dictator,” and “Our enemy is right here–they lie when they say it’s America.”

    In 2009, the protests were crushed after a couple of months and never really expanded beyond reform-minded Iranians in major cities. This time around the unrest has lingered and spread, partly because the demonstrators’ grievances are economic in origin, even if popular discontent toward Iran’s political system helps explain why the protests have continued this long. Iranians of every political persuasion are suffering from runaway inflation and rising costs, while regime officials have embezzled much of the country’s wealth or spent it meddling in Syria and Yemen’s civil wars.

    The world did not learn about the protests from Iranian state media–the regime does its best to conceal any hint of discontent. The demonstrations, as well as the mass arrests and violence that often followed, were chronicled on satellite networks like BBC Persian and Manoto that are based outside Iran and staffed with people who can’t enter the country. The newest of these channels has an entire floor of its own in London’s Chiswick office park, whose shady artificial lake, waterfront outdoor meeting pods, and internal bike share make it one of the most conspicuously fancy office spaces on the western fringes of the city’s center. A television in Iran International’s headquarters is always tuned to the Iran News Network, a regime-controlled channel where the on-air talents sit in front of unsightly black curtains.

    “If you’re flipping channels in Iran, this looks a little more colorful and modern,” network launch director Kristina Millman says of Iran International’s aesthetic, characterized by an uncluttered newsroom where everything seems like it’s shaded in a sleek metallic blue.

    The channel does not have correspondents inside the country it covers, a place where it is banned from broadcasting and where its website is blocked. Still, on a morning in early August, video of protesters marching through traffic on the streets of Isfahan filled the hourly news bulletin. The channel receives several dozen videos a day from people who still manage to access the network from inside Iran. A couple weeks earlier, a factory worker sent the network video of tea and pieces of bread, a meager workplace lunch that he planned to bring home to his family. The clip went semi-viral, as it gave a jarringly intimate glimpse into how Iran’s economic situation is grinding away at ordinary citizens. “Every day from now on something’s going to happen: A strike or a protest,” says Mahmood Enayat, a consultant responsible for the network’s digital operations.

    Iran International, which launched in a one-room studio the day of the Iranian presidential elections in May 2017, is one of several networks targeting an Iranian audience that’s starved for real news. It imagines itself as an Iranian BBC-in-exile, a lively but unbiased source of information about an opaque corner of the world, and a venue where both supporters and opponents of the Islamic Republic regime can speak freely. Iran International is sensitive about any perception that it’s against the current government. “We’re not interested in being opposition media,” Millman noted. But getting news into Iran—past the regime’s satellite jamming and web filters–is an inherently subversive enterprise.

    For editor-in-chief Hossein Rassam, the Iranian public is too connected to the outside world, and has too much of an appetite for independent news, for the regime to have a monopoly on information. “All governments throughout the world admit that no matter what restrictions you put on social media or means of information, citizens find ways to bypass them,” says Rassam. “Iran is no exception.” As Rassam puts it, Iran International is part of an inevitable process in which the realities of the modern-day information economy overwhelm even the strictest regimes. “Our very existence shows that the old mentality that governments have the ability to control the flow of news and information is, if not extinct, then on the verge of extinction.”

    Still, for exiles who want to broadcast into Iran, success requires resources, patience, and perhaps a flashy London studio with cameras zipping by on robotic tripods and office-spanning overhead rails–infrastructure that’s useless without a way of getting real news into a country whose government doesn’t want it there.

    [Photo: Flickr user Simon Inns]

    Getting the signal past the noise

    The Iranian regime controls the airwaves and has a nationwide infrastructure for blocking independent satellite broadcasts. In 2010, Iran jammed Persian-language BBC and Voice of America broadcasts using a rogue uplink that blocked transmissions at their source: Hot Bird 8, the largest European television satellite. Channels carried through the satellite were disrupted throughout the Middle East; when the BBC and VoA switched to a different satellite, Iran tried to jam that one as well. The interference halted after diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and its allies, although the Iranian government had demonstrated its willingness and ability to attack global communication infrastructure.

    Today the regime jams incoming satellite signals closer to ground level, using a network of towers spread across major urban areas. These terrestrial jamming sites send a disruptive signal on the same frequency as exile satellite networks, blocking their broadcasts for most of the day in areas around the towers. Terrestrial jamming can’t cover the entirety of Iran or even all of the areas closest to the towers themselves. The perception that they have adverse health effects is so widespread that in July the government published a map claiming to show all the jamming sites in Tehran. The dragnet in the Iranian capital is fairly comprehensive, but in mid-size cities or rural areas viewers can often access Iran International with little difficulty–and as Enayat predicts, “the next wave of change in Iran is going to come from smaller places that are more hard-hit economically.”

    Iran International distributes its signal over multiple satellites with the transmissions set at different frequencies and angles, allowing at least some access even in cities with jamming stations. But the internet means that many Iranians don’t even bother with satellite television.

    The government has a veritable chokehold on the web–every social media platform is banned except for Instagram, likely spared because it’s played no role in organizing the country’s ongoing protests. As Enayat explains, mirror sites for banned outlets like Iran International “only work for an hour or two” before they’re blocked. Most Iranian internet users can still deploy a virtual private network to get around internet controls. Like other exile media, Iran International realizes that VPNs have marketing potential: The channel has partnered with Psiphon, a TOR-based VPN that’s widely used in Iran, in order for its content to appear on the app’s homepage. Even the best VPN isn’t a cure-all, though. They slow connections that are often tenuous to begin with, and the government leverages its control over the country’s internet service providers to discourage VPNs and effectively tax their use. Access to the internet is usually metered in Iran, and because running a VPN requires additional bandwidth users can save money by ditching circumvention programs. If Iranians want to reach the internet that the rest of the world sees, they have to pay extra for the privilege.

    Iranian exiles have been resourceful in exploiting the system’s weaknesses. In 2016, Mehdi Yahyanejad, a California-based physicist and entrepreneur, launched the Toosheh Project, which uses a satellite television signal to send packets of otherwise-banned information, including content from Iran International. Overnight, users record several hours of Yahyanejad’s channel, which appears as a static image, onto a thumb drive using the USB port in their DVRs. A downloadable program immediately unzips the MPEG file encoded in the satellite broadcast. Yahyanejad’s channel can send one gigabyte of information per hour even when a signal is partially jammed–slower than most internet connections but also infinitely better than nothing. “[The government] can’t find out how [users] received the information because it comes from the satellite and doesn’t go through Iranian government infrastructure,” Yahyanjejad says. “The effect is basically opening up another front in terms of fighting the censorship in Iran.”

    Yahyanejad isn’t sure how large his user base is, although the program to unzip the MPEG files has been downloaded nearly 300,000 times–a big number that’s also a fraction of the country’s 80 million people. He noted that the regime is capable of adapting to the illicit consumption habits of its subjects. As Yahyanejad explains, in recent years the Iranian government has introduced a tiered system of internet pricing where access to websites whose servers are based inside the country is charged at a dramatically discounted rate, creating economic incentives for web traffic and hosting to stay within Iranian borders and therefore under regime supervision. “They want to influence decision-making by economic means,” Yahyanejad explains, “and in the long run this might actually be more powerful than blocking the websites using just their censorship technology.

    Broadcasting from a very different future

    Iran International shows that there are few automatic technological answers to what are inevitably political challenges. According to Ofcom, Britain’s media regulator, the chairman of the company that holds Iran International’s broadcast license is a Saudi national, as was a major shareholder who sold their stake this past spring–raising the possibility that cross-Gulf rivalries have contributed to the network’s existence. The channel is also flush with talented staffers due to the exile of Iranian thinkers and journalists, a issue that technology alone can’t resolve.

    Many of the network’s employees left Iran within the last decade and can’t safely return home. Hossein Rossam, for instance, was facing four years in prison in 2009 after espionage charges were brought against him while he was working as chief political analyst for the British embassy in Tehran. He had his sentence commuted in 2010 and was able to flee shortly after being released from prison. Rassam wishes he could have stayed in Iran. “I wanted to return to my people what they had spent for my education–for my life, for everything,” he says. “But it’s very sad that some authorities believed that I didn’t belong there.”

    As news anchor Shahreh Azizi explained, just appearing on Persian-language satellite television is enough to get an Iranian effectively banned from entering the country. “All of us can’t go back…we crossed the red lines the government like,” she says moments before going on air, with her earpiece already in place. “Most of us spent most of our lives inside Iran. Most of my memories are from Iran.”

    Azizi made her way to the studio at the front of the network’s newsroom. Television is a universal language that only a minuscule number of people can speak–the skills needed to talk convincingly in front of a camera in Persian are as scarce and intangible as the ones required to sell even a simple news update in English. In urgent yet unhurried anchor-ese, Azizi reviewed the day’s events: The protest in Isfahan, a crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations, elections in Zimbabwe. Next up: video of an Iranian military drill, and then rows of submarines. Azizi appeared without a headscarf, something that would have been prohibited on a channel like Iran News Network, which continued to play on a nearby TV. For the Iranians with the ability to watch Azizi, it might have seemed like a broadcast from a very different future.


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    Balancing work with a personal crisis is a challenge for anybody. In most instances, they tend to come out of the blue, when you least expect it, and definitely when you don’t have time or bandwidth to deal with it.

    But what happens you’re an employee, and you discover that your boss is going through a tough time? How do you support them emotionally in a way that doesn’t cross professional boundaries?  Erica Keswin, author of Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change The World shares some steps you can take to be the most helpful employee you can be when your manager is facing personal adversity.

    Acknowledge their loss

    Whether it’s your boss, coworker, or direct report, it’s always tricky to know the right thing to say when you discover that they’re going through a tough time in their personal life. But as Dennis Potter, manager of consultant relations and training at Crisis Care Network, previously told Fast Company, there are no magic words in this situation–but saying nothing nothing is worse than acknowledging the situation. Potter emphasizes that you don’t need to get into the details, but “You start by just acknowledging the loss. ‘I am so sorry this has happened to you. I’m so sorry this has happened to your child or to your loved one,’ or whatever the thing is, and make it specific.”

    Set expectations

    In the ideal world, you would already have a plan in place to deal with unexpected crisis–personal and professional. But often life circumstances occur out of the blue, and this might mean that your boss needs to take a sudden leave of absence in the middle of an important project.

    Different situations require different treatments, so make sure you ask your boss how they’d like to be contacted as they deal with their circumstances. Define what methods of communication they prefer, how often (and when) they expect contact, and whether you need a special procedure when it comes to bringing up anything mission-critical for the company (for example, a special ring tone), Keswin says. The boss will probably crave “some sort of structure that when he or she is dealing with an issue, they can actually disconnect–even if that disconnection is 30 or 60 minutes. It doesn’t need to be for a week.”

    Keswin tells Fast Company, “When a person is going through that crisis, the boss is thinking, I need to make sure work gets done, I need to make sure my client is happy, yet I don’t want to have to be on 24/7 because that’s what [makes me] stressed.” 

    Designate a point person

    It’s generally good practice to check in with your boss (and your team members) on a regular basis to ensure that you know what your team is working on–even when there isn’t a personal crisis. However, if your team hasn’t been doing this, now would be the time to get everyone together and make sure that you’re all on the same page with workload and goals. Ideally, Keswin says, employees should go around and ask each other about the tasks and projects that they’re working on, and do a status update. “The more we can be open, when the right hand knows what the left hand is doing, and we’re more integrated as a team, the client will have better results.”

    Keswin also noted that if your boss needs to be away from the office,  it’s important to have a point person to coordinate things in your boss’s absence, if there isn’t an existing no. 2 in place already. After all, by doing everything in your power to keep things running smoothly, you’re supporting your boss by making their return to work easier.

    Don’t let your responsibilities slide

    Finally, Keswin says that the worst thing you can do is to let things slip and settle for a mediocre performance. That’s just going to make things harder for your boss when he or she returns. In addition, when it comes to dealing with clients or externals, make sure that you follow the practices that your boss has set, and avoid introducing any new practices while your boss is away. The last thing you want to do is cross the line with a client, and leave your boss to deal with it when they return.

    Keswin says it’s important to remember that your boss is human–prone to stress, frustrations and personal lives that can affect their performance at work. At its core, the key to supporting them during tough times is to honor relationships, according to Keswin. When you think about supporting your boss, also consider your interactions with the person who has stepped in, your clients, and your colleagues. Keswin tells Fast Company, “Think about it holistically,” and figure out how you can leverage technology and relationships to give your boss the space and breathing room that they might need as they deal with their personal crisis.


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    Senators are set to vote this morning on whether or not to proceed with the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. The controversial judge needs 51 yes votes to advance to a full floor vote, but as of now it’s unclear how key senators–namely, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Susan Collins of Maine–will vote.

    A bare-bones FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh did little to alleviate the bitter division over whether he is fit sit on the bench of the nation’s highest court. Meanwhile, a wave of protests on Capitol Hill yesterday may have sent a message to senators who were still on the fence.

    If senators vote to advance the process, a full floor vote could take place as early as tomorrow. Today’s Senate vote is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET. You can stream it live via the links below:


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    If you’ve been dying to hear Bradley Cooper sing Jason Isbell’s sweet songs or Lady Gaga sing country, now is your chance. The soundtrack to A Star is Born dropped at midnight and is now available for streaming or, *gasp!* purchasing.

    In the film, formerThe Hills actor Gaga and her co-star and first-time director Bradley Cooper take turns crooning their way through the soundtrack, which runs just under an hour and features a whopping 34 tracks. They include songs in a range of musical styles along with tidbits of dialogue, so you can act out your favorite scenes when you go see it in the theater like a very dramatic Rocky Horror Picture Show.

    The album is now available on iTunes, Spotify, and Tidal. Or just stream it below. One caveat, though: Listening to the extended version of Lady Gaga’s “I’ll Never Love Again” may leave you crying at your desk (again), although at least it will have nothing to do with Brett Kavanaugh.


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    The Internet Archive is letting people of a certain age relive their childhoods. You know, the good old days before the internet was accessible in the palm of your hand, and if you wanted to kill all the pioneers making their way along the Oregon Trail, you had to either do it in real life or spend some serious time locked in your bedroom.

    The nonprofit digital library said it is in the process of adding in-browser emulation support for Commodore 64, aka the best-selling computer in history. The busy bees over at the Internet Archive have already tested over 10,500 programs and are adding more.

    This isn’t the first time that the Internet Archive has taken people on an internet trip down memory lane. In the past, it put together similar projects for MS-DOS and first-generation Macintosh programs.

    You can check out the entire C64 software library here, but we know you just want to play Oregon Trail.


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    You’re 96% sure that you are ready to schedule a meeting with your boss to ask for a raise. Or perhaps you’re nearing the end of the job interview process and an offer is in sight. However, if you’re like me, you have definitely put your foot in your mouth once or twice by saying the wrong thing at the absolute worst moment. Doh!

    Don’t mess up.

    Don’t mess up.

    No matter how many times you rehearse what to say, there’s always that risk of fumbling right at the five-yard line. Instead of panicking, get prepared.

    To coach us along in the salary negotiation process, we turned to Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiation. “A salary negotiation is a collaboration, and a key ingredient of a successful collaboration is good communication,” says Doody. “It’s important to be very clear with what you communicate to avoid ambiguity, which could complicate things and slow the negotiation process.”

    Instead of Doody simply sharing the things you should say, he’s here to warn you about the potential negotiation land mines to avoid when angling for the salary you deserve. Here are 9 things to never say in a salary negotiation:

    1. “Currently,” as in “I’m currently making . . . “

    The most common question recruiters will ask a candidate is something like, “So where are you right now in terms of salary, and what are you looking for if you make this move?” Don’t fall for it.

    “I call this The Dreaded Salary Question and it’s tricky because it usually comes up early in the interview process, and most candidates don’t think of it as part of a salary negotiation even though it is,” says Doody. “Answering this question by disclosing numbers can make it very difficult to negotiate effectively later on because it can box the candidate in. Once they disclose current or desired salary, the offers they get are very likely to be tied to those numbers. That can be very expensive if the company might have offered them a much higher salary than they disclosed.”

    2. “Desired,” as in “My desired salary is . . . “

    Don’t disclose your current or desired salary! “Recovering from this mistake can be tricky and each situation is unique. But one way to untether from those original numbers is to review the benefits package for deficiencies,” says Doody. “If the health insurance offering, paid vacation, target bonus, or other aspects of the benefits package are underwhelming, the candidate can use those as reasons to ask for a higher salary to compensate.”

    Instead, try something like :

    I’m not comfortable sharing my current salary. I would prefer to focus on the value I can add to this company rather than what I’m paid at my current job. I don’t have a specific number in mind for a desired salary, and you know better than I do what value my skill set and experience could bring to your company. I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation.

    3. “Sorry”

    According to Doody, “Negotiating is uncomfortable, and our natural tendency is to try to smooth the edges on a difficult conversation. Saying sorry could signal to the recruiter or hiring manager that you might be willing to back down, and that could be expensive. Don’t apologize for negotiating.”

    4. “No” and other negative words

    “You want to continuously improve your situation throughout the negotiation, and you do that by avoiding negative language and focusing on positive language. Instead of “No, that doesn’t work for me” (two negative words) you can say, “I would be more comfortable with . . . ” (positive words). Negative words slow things down and may put up walls that make collaboration difficult. Using only positive words is difficult at first, but you’ll get better with practice.”

    5. “Yes”

    While this may sound like the exact word to use when speaking to a recruiter, Doody insists it should be used with caution. “You’ll often get a job offer that seems really appealing, and it might be far more than you expected. Your instinct, in that case, might be to just accept the offer because it’s so good.”

    But is it too good?

    “It’s possible you underestimated your value in this situation. Instead of “Yes,” formulate a counteroffer to see how much you can improve it. The negotiation should end with the company saying ‘Yes’ to you. Once they say ‘Yes’ to you, or you run out of things to ask for, then you are finished negotiating.”

    6. “Later,” as in “I can deal with that after I start”

    Procrastinators, this one is for you. “Sometimes it’s easier to avoid uncomfortable parts of a negotiation by deferring those parts of the conversation until after you’re hired. That can be a very expensive mistake because you won’t have the same latitude to negotiate and improve your position once you’re in the door. Push through the discomfort and get the best possible result now,” Doody advises.

    7. Try, as in “Can we try . . . ?”

    “Try is a passive word that leaves a lot of wiggle room, and you don’t want that,” insists Doody. “It’s easy for someone to say–honestly or no– “We’ll try . . . ” and reply with, “We tried and it just didn’t work out.” Don’t ask them to “try” to do something. Instead, use more positive language like “I would be more comfortable with.”

    8. More, as in “I want more . . . “

    While this word seems counterintuitive because you are negotiating to get more, it’s a word that is too general for a successful negotiation. Instead of asking for “more” salary or “more” vacation, this is your time to get specific.

    “Don’t leave things to the imagination once you’re negotiating. Instead of “Could you budge on the salary?” say, ‘I would be more comfortable with a base salary of $105,000.'”

    9. Want

    Lastly, the word “want” can tank negotiations. Using it can undercut the entire premise of your argument that you deserve to be paid more and you deserve a more competitive salary. Go into a negotiation with facts and figures, making a compelling case. Start with printing out the results of your personal salary estimator, Know Your Worth. See what your base salary should be and see what the industry norms are.

    “You could talk about what you want, which just isn’t all that important. Or you could talk about what the company wants, which is not as potent as talking about what the company needs, which is the most important thing,” adds Doody. “Focus on the company’s needs and how you can help meet those needs so they can easily see your value and work to compensate you for it.”


    This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 


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    In case you missed it, Madonna now has a beauty brand. It’s called MDNA Skin, and it makes a range of high-end serums and face washes that all come with little tips from the superstar herself. For instance, Madonna recommends leaving her rose mist in the fridge for a “refreshed glow,” which may be how the 60-year-old has managed to look more like 40.

    But this week, the brand launches a roller, which is designed to sculpt the muscles in your face and body. (Yes, face workouts are a thing: My colleague Rina Raphael recently visited a face gym and wrote about it.) It’s supposed to provide the appearance of a more defined jawline, cheekbones, and eyebrows. The website called it “Madonna’s secret weapon of mass seduction.”

    Let us warn you though: In keeping with Madonna’s MO, her video tutorial of how to use the product is definitely not PG-13. If you’re at the office but too scared to click on the NSFW YouTube link below, let us give you the summary: She’s in a corset with Vogue playing in the background, rubbing the rather phallic-looking device all over her body, with an expression that suggests she’s getting, uh, a real kick out of the beauty device.

    At $200, it’s not cheap. But how can you put a price on looking like Madonna?


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    Dieter Rams and his 10 principles for good design have inspired a generation of industrial designers. And now, to commemorate the new Rams documentary by Gary Hustwit, the pocket notebook brand Fields Notes created a limited edition collection of Rams memo books.

    [Photo: Fields Notes]

    The books, which run all of $13 for a 3-pack, featuring a tacky, matte white cover, with gray type and orange highlights. They’re actually inspired by the color palette of the T3 transistor radio, the pocket radio Rams designed at Braun that is said to have inspired the iPod (even if a product by Bang & Olufsen deserves some credit, too).

    On the back, each book also features Rams’s own 10 principles for good design, a set of guidelines that anchored his work, like “Good design is long-lasting” and “Good design is as little design as possible.”

    But as Hustwit recently told me after spending the last 3.5 years working on his documentary, Rams never intended the design community to replicate the principles verbatim.

    “For Rams, those were really applicable at the time for his team. They didn’t have rules. They were making it up. That was a set of rules to at least give some structure to what they were going to do, what projects they were going to take on,” says Hustwit. “I think they’re valuable and applicable for a lot of different areas. But he didn’t want them to be set in stone like the Ten Commandments. He had assumed that people would update them, change them, and make them their own.”

    So in other words, grab the limited edition Rams books, sure, but don’t be afraid to fill them with your thoughts and your rules.


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    The last time the polling company Gallup asked Americans about their understanding of the word “socialism” was in 1949. At that point, around one-third couldn’t define it, another one-third associated it with government ownership and control of everything from businesses to utilities, and just 12% thought it gestured toward equity among people, particularly in regard to income and rights. Around 6% figured it was a form of modified communism.

    That was the year before Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) proclaimed he would seek out communists and socialists living in the U.S., which sent people into a frenzy, and socialism even further to the fringes. Gallup stopped asking how people viewed socialism again until this year, when it’s decidedly back in the mainstream discourse.

    Following Bernie Sanders’s campaign as a democratic socialist presidential candidate in 2016, and high-profile victories of around 40 socialists, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York’s 14th Congressional District this year, socialism is back in the mainstream political discourse: The Democratic Socialists of America’s membership grew from 7,000 members to over 50,000 since 2016.

    [Photo: Joanna Will/Shutterstock]
    And with it, Gallup is asking the question again. It’s found that the general view of socialism has evolved–at least somewhat–since they last checked in with the American people about it. The biggest difference between now and then, according to Gallup, is that in 2018, the number of people who define socialism as government ownership of everything has dropped by half, down to 17%. Around 6% still view it as modified communism, and another 6% had, according to Gallup, “non-specific derogatory opinions” about the term.

    But generally, Gallup has documented a shift toward a “gentler, lighter” understanding of socialism. Around 23% of Americans now–an 11% increase from 1949–see socialism as a means toward greater equity among people, and 10% think it would bring about an increase in benefits like improved social services and universal healthcare. Another 6% think socialism means “getting along with people,” and 1% think it means a shift toward a more cooperative planning process.

    While Gallup didn’t sort these latest findings by political orientation, it doesn’t take too much of a stretch of the imagination to guess from which side of the aisle the varying opinions come. Another recent Gallup poll found that only 16% of Republicans view socialism positively, and they’re vastly more likely to understand it as government control of the means of productions. Around 57% of Democrats, on the other hand, have a positive view of socialism.

    As more socialist-leaning candidates on the left score political victories–bolstered in no small part by millennial voters, who also tend to question capitalism and view socialism more favorably–and as policies like universal healthcare and basic income grow in popularity, this poll could just be the latest sign that Americans are leaning into socialism as they learn more about it.


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    In theory, smart offices hold a lot of promise: By tailoring each space to a specific person’s needs, it promises to make employees more productive. But a new idea from the world’s largest air conditioning maker, Daikin Industries, takes the concept too far. It proposes monitoring when employees are getting sleepy–and then blowing cold air to wake them up.

    In a story in the Wall Street Journal, Daikin claims that its research found that lowering the temperature around an employee for a few minutes worked better than other methods for beating the afternoon slump, including installing bright lights or sniffing rosemary.

    Of all the problems that smarter HVAC systems could solve, this is not on the list. People should not be subjected to blasts of air from an omniscient AC system that knows they just returned from lunch and are hitting their slump. If employees are really that sleepy in the office, the best thing an employer could do is encourage them to just take a nap instead: After all, science shows that napping can make you far more productive (if you can convince your boss to allow it). Alternate ideas: Hold a 10-minute dance party, take a walk, or get some exercise.

    Luckily, the technology won’t be available until 2020, so there’s still time for Daiken to nix it–or perhaps focus on bigger problems, like the fact that office temperatures are just too cold, period.


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    Just 10 days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration—amid headlines about Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s settlement of sexual harassment claims against him, and in the wake of numerous sexual assault allegations against Trump himself—the Obama White House introduced updated guidance on sexual harassment in the workplace. The proposed guidelines reflected the latest case law and expanded the federal ban on harassment to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

    About 11 months later, just after the Harvey Weinstein exposé sparked a nationwide reckoning with the prevalence of sexual harassment, the guidance was sent by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to the White House for approval in November 2017. It’s a fairly routine process, and employers around the country anticipated the approval of the guidance, which is used to set workplace guidelines for companies that hire hundreds of millions of Americans. This would be the first new guidance on harassment in the workplace since 1999, during which time case law and society’s recognition of gender identity and sexual orientation have evolved.

    And yet, a year after the Weinstein scandal, and amid a surge in sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC, the guidance is still in limbo, held up by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which usually takes a maximum of 90 days to approve rules. The guidance was also sent to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), which under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed the government’s policy of including transgender people in protections against discrimination in the workplace—raising concerns that the DOJ opposes the updated guidelines’ expansion of the scope of sexual harassment.

    “It’s really strange to have it sitting there in limbo for so long,” Amit Narang, the regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen, a good government group, tells Fast Company. “It seems to be tied up in politics around the renomination of a fairly progressive member of the EEOC.” Narang notes that it’s even more unusual because the OMB doesn’t usually review such guidances, since its role has traditionally been to review binding rules and regulations.

    The delay is also discouraging to groups that fight for women’s legal rights. “I think everyone’s frustrated, certainly those of us who thought it was a strong document,” says Maya Raghu, director of workplace equity and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “The lack of approval is keeping it from being helpful to workers and advocates. And to employers, it provides important guidance. They need it to understand their own obligations, to implement better policies, and to institute better training, especially smaller employers who may lack an HR department.”

    The guidance has an enormous impact, since the EEOC is one of the agencies tasked with enforcing laws against sexual harassment. “If you’re an HR director or lawyer trying to make your case, then you can point to the guidance and say, ‘This is the minimum standard we have to follow,'” Raghu says. Over time, its persuasive authority influences workplace behavior, helping prevent such incidents of harassment and bias.

    Raghu notes that the EEOC has seen a spike in requests for training and assistance amid a general increase in public awareness of these issues post-Weinstein. And the agency has seen a surge in activity over the last year, with sexual harassment claims key to 41 lawsuits brought by the EEOC during this fiscal year, an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous fiscal year. Overall, alleged harassment was an issue in nearly one-third of the 84,000 charges filed with the EEOC last year. The agency recovered nearly $70 million for victims of sexual harassment through litigation and administrative enforcement in fiscal year 2018, compared to $47.5 million in fiscal year 2017.

    “In a moment where we have a huge cultural and societal reckoning, this administration is showing it’s not going to take a leadership role in preventing sexual harassment,” Debra Katz, a lawyer who represents employees in harassment cases, told Bloomberg Law last June.

    A spokesperson for the EEOC emailed a statement to Fast Company: “As you mentioned, guidance is still with OMB. We’re hoping it will be approved soon. I do not have an estimate of when it could be approved.”

    Spokespersons for the OMB did not respond to requests for comment.


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    Activists from the California-based vegan organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) have been furiously protesting Amazon-owned Whole Foods. Specifically, the activists have been targeting one of the stores in Berkeley. According The Guardian, the activists are protesting various suppliers Whole Foods works with.

    Though the store says all of the companies that make its products are thoroughly vetted to make sure they ethically treat animals, DxE claims that Whole Foods sells items from suppliers that cruelly treat chickens.

    DxE planned a week-long protest late last month, but the local Whole Foods countered it by filing a restraining order. This forced the activists to move their action across the street, since they weren’t even allowed on the store’s parking lot.

    With this protest, the group was trying to amass public attention to new local legislation that would require greater disclosure about animal product sourcing. This latest action was punctuated by a large protest at McCoy Poultry Services in Sonoma. The Guardian writes:

    On Saturday 29 September, DxE left its post on the sidewalk across from the Berkeley store and roughly 150 protesters descended on McCoy. A livestream showed demonstrators quietly holding flowers in the air as others set up a temporary veterinary clinic to care for injured chickens. After four hours and an altercation with the farm’s owners, 67 protesters were arrested by the local sheriff’s department. The chickens they hoped to liberate and care for, along with dead ones they discovered at the farm, were turned over to animal services. The live chickens were found to be too sick to revive and were ultimately euthanized.

    Given that Whole Foods remains steadfast in trying to block the activists, it’s unclear whether DxE is going to plan anything to escalate their protest.

    You can read the full Guardian story here.


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    With flu season upon us, many adults will inevitably come down with some sort of ailment over the next number of months. And when we do, we’ll face the same decision countless workers grapple with: Come to work sick, or just stay home? You’d think the latter would be the natural answer, but surprisingly, an estimated 69% of working Americans don’t take sick days, even when they really need them.

    Why do so many people come to work sick?

    For some, it’s a matter of income preservation. Not everyone gets paid sick time, and those who don’t often can’t afford a day or more without pay. For others, it’s a means of not wasting vacation days. Though some companies differentiate between sick and vacation time, others lob the two together into a single bucket with limited days. And if you’re planning a lengthy trip, for example, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to cut it short because you happened to come down with something a few months earlier.

    Then there are those who come to the office sick not for selfish reasons, but because they don’t want to fall behind on work or let others down. This is perhaps the most noble motive for dragging oneself into the office when a bed and pillow otherwise beckon–but it’s a skewed line of thinking nonetheless.

    How sick is sick?

    Now, let’s be clear: There’s a difference between being under the weather and being flat-out sick. The former encompasses things like a low-grade cold, minor sore throat, or nagging headache that can be tempered with an over-the-counter pill.

    For the purpose of our discussion, the word “sick” means being in bad enough shape that any reasonable person would expect you to stay home. Examples include, but are not limited to, coughing up all manner of colored phlegm (paints a lovely picture, doesn’t it?), severe digestive upheaval (no need to elaborate there), or any condition that produces a fever. Bad sinus infections count as being sick enough to call out, as do seemingly silent ailments like ear infections and strep throat.

    But no matter what ailment you end up afflicted with, if it’s more than just a basic cold, here are three reasons why it really doesn’t pay to come to work when you’re just not well.

    1. You’ll prolong your misery

    Not only is being sick unpleasant, but it can also set you back in terms of work responsibilities and life itself. It therefore pays to do everything in your power to nip that illness in the bud. But if you drag yourself into work and don’t give your body a chance to recover, you’re likely to stay sick for a longer period of time than necessary. And that won’t help you in the long run.

    2. You might make a critical error

    It’s hard to focus on essential tasks when your head is pounding and you’re struggling to breathe. If you attempt to tackle important items while sick, you could end up making a massive error that affects your work, your team, or your company as a whole. And that’s way worse than staying home for a couple of days and falling a bit behind.

    Also keep in mind that you’re unlikely to perform optimally if you’re sick. In a 2014 Staples survey, employees who admitted to going to work sick said that they were only 60% productive on those days as compared to normal days. And while you could argue that 60% is better than nothing, it’s not worth opening the door to a huge, consequence-bearing mistake.

    3. Your coworkers will hate you

    Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but how would you feel if the person across from you started coughing up a lung in your general direction? Even if you’re showing up to work sick for a good reason–say, to meet a deadline or avoid burdening others with your responsibilities–your colleagues won’t be all too thrilled to get exposed to whatever it is you have. In fact, most of them would probably rather jump in and take over a few of your tasks for the day than wind up bedridden 48 hours later after having caught your germs.

    Tempting as it may be to go to work sick, the next time you’re really not feeling well, do yourself and everyone else around you a favor by deciding to just stay home. Most likely, you’ll recover quickly enough to make up for the time you lost, and this way, you won’t infect anyone else in the process.


    This article originally appeared on The Motley Fool and is reprinted with permission. 

    Related articles:


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    These are troubling times for women, with a president who has bragged about groping women and Supreme Court confirmations sullied by accusations of sexual assault. Even still, women often feel like they can’t express their anger because they will be treated as hysterical and weak. Perhaps that’s why this “Give a Damn” tote, a collaboration between by two fashion labels–MZ Wallace and Lingua Franca–already had a wait list of hundreds, even before it dropped today.

    [Photo: courtesy of MZ Wallace]
    The phrase is risqué and assertive, helping women express through an accessory things they may not always be able to say in polite company: That people should care about what’s happening in politics right now, and try their best to change it. “We originally came up with the words, ‘Give a shit,’ says Lucy Wallace Eustice, MZ Wallace’s cofounder. “It was about expressing how we feel about the current moment, and encouraging women to get involved, in any way they choose.” (Eustice says they replaced the s-word with “damn” for the many moms who might want something a little more PG-13.)

    These brands aren’t pushing a specific political agenda, but all the proceeds from the $235 bag will go to She Should Run, a bipartisan organization that encourages women to run for political office.

    [Photo: courtesy of MZ Wallace]
    Eustice thinks the success of the bag comes down to its ability to balance subtlety with fierceness. The phrase is scrawled on one of the brand’s most iconic bags, the Metro Tote, designed to be eminently pragmatic with its lightweight, stain-resistant fabric. “We obsessed with designing products that really fit into women’s lives,” says Eustice. “So with this partnership, we wanted to make something that women would actually use.”

    Turns out, the brand knows women pretty damn well.


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    The slate-roofed cottages in the Swiss mountain village of Corippo look straight out of a Disney movie–a scene of warmth and whimsy that feels from another time. And of course, that’s because they are from another time. The town’s buildings are hundreds of years old, and with only 12 residents (the vast majority of whom are over 65) to keep them up, the former farming community is in danger of being abandoned.

    [Photo: fotoember/iStock]
    But as CNN reports, Corippo is trying a different approach. A local foundation is trying to raise $6.5 million to convert 30 of the town’s 70 buildings into rentable rooms, turning the town into an albergo diffuso, or “scattered hotel.” The concept would be a first for Switzerland, but it’s a proven model for Italy where it’s been a fully regulated concept since 1998 (and Corippo is actually part of Switzerland’s Italian-speaking contingent, so this marriage makes some sense).

    [Photo: fotoember/iStock]
    So far, the foundation has only raised about one-third of the required funds for updates slated for completion by 2020, but the project’s first two-bedroom cottage opened for rental last July. It’s adorable, and you can rent it for $130 a night.

    Whether or not Corippo becomes a town-sized resort, it’s a fascinating model: Yes, the plan would turn a real town into a tourist attraction–a city that exists simply to be visited by people outside of it. At the same time, by leveraging tourism income, Corippo can also preserve history and architecture that would otherwise be lost. And let’s be real: $6.5 million might be a lot for a tiny town to raise, but it’s pocket change in the world of international hotel design. That’s like one Dubai bathtub.


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