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Blizzard Confirms Female ‘Overwatch’ Contenders Player Is Imposter

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 08:01 AM PST

Overwatch” Contenders team Second Wind announced a recently signed female player known as Ellie was, in fact, an imposter.

In a statement released over Twitter, Second Wind says they were notified by Blizzard of news that their former teammate, known as Ellie, “was not who they claimed to be… and discovered that the Ellie account was used for purposes we do not support”.

The team identifies several issues that led to the identity of “Ellie” going unverified even after her signing to the team in late 2018. Near the time of her signing, Second Wind had lost one team member and were staring down a deadline to submit their new team roster.

Second Wind “desperately needed to find a substitute,” the statement reads.

“As a team, we have always had faith in the leaderboard when it comes to scouting for players, and in our search for a new player we found Ellie as rank four in the North American servers. Our team members had played with them in the competitive ladder several times and saw them to be very skilled with a deep hero pool.”

“Due to our need to fill a main position as well, a closing in deadline for roster submissions, and our team having experience with the player, we extended an offer to play on Second Wind as a substitute. When we originally contacted Ellie, there was nothing that would spark suspicion. They seemed to be very genuine and willing to work with us on calls and within private messages. Due to the fact that we do not have any physical contact with our players, we wanted to verify their identity but also wanted to respect their privacy as well. We genuinely had no idea of what was to come, and at the time we underestimated how important it would be to set an example as the first team to take on a female player for Contenders.”

Following the announcement, Second Wind began receiving questions regarding the legitimacy of her identity. The team says it reached out to Blizzard early on to help verify the identity of the player and “calm the suspicions about our newest player”.

“During this time, we worked with Ellie to improve their public presence by prepping them for interviews, streams, and encouraging an environment where they could play with other team members publicly. This unfortunately fell through due to Ellie opting out for ‘personal reasons’ we did not want to press them for.”

“As a team, we admit we handled this poorly. More could have been done to support our players, but we had found ourselves unprepared for the attention Ellie got upon their onboarding; we had full faith in them. Due to our desperation to fill a roster, we unfortunately overlooked crucial information that should have been paid more attention to. We did not properly allocate enough time to communicate with the public as a means to support our players, and as a result caused more questioning that could have been avoided.”

On Wednesday, Second Wind announced that “Ellie” had left the team following threats of doxxing.

The user first signed to the team of aspiring professional players on Dec. 21, 2018. One day later, a tweet from the user’s personal account showed screenshots of a Discord chat where one user suggests doxxing her — or revealing personal information including an address and phone number which is often used for harassment.

Neither Second Wind nor Blizzard has named the person behind the Ellie account; However, new claims suggest “Ellie” is actually a man known online as “Punisher”.

Overwatch” streamer Becca “Aspen” Rukavina took to Twitch to claim “Punisher” was in fact “Ellie” and that this was an ill-advised “social experiment” that got out of hand.

“Ellie is not Ellie,” she said during the stream. “The whole situation was meant to be, in a way, a social experiment. Ellie is actually Punisher, and he told me yesterday, so there you go.”

“After investigating the matter, we found that “Ellie” was a fabricated identity and is a smurf account – created by a veteran player to obfuscate their identity,” an “Overwatch” eSports spokesperson told Variety. “The owner of Ellie’s account is a player with no current or prior involvement with any “Overwatch” Contenders or “Overwatch” League team. “Ellie” was never formally submitted to the active roster of Second Wind and never played in a Contenders match.”

“As part of the process to officially add a player to a Contenders or “Overwatch” League roster, we do background checks to ensure that players are who they say they are as well as meet other eligibility requirements, and will take action against players if we discover any behavior that warrants it.”

Diane Warren Wants to Write a Song for Lady Gaga and Celine Dion

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 07:42 AM PST

Social media exploded last week when Celine Dion showed up at Lady Gaga’s new Enigma show in Las Vegas. Not only was the “My Heart Will Go On” songstress in the audience, but fans captured her on video dancing like no one was watching.

Later, Gaga posted a photo of her and Dion backstage on her Instagram.

“I would love to write a song for them,’ Diane Warren told Variety at the BAFTA LA Tea Party yesterday at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. “I’ve already written for both of them.”

She sure has. Warren wrote “Because You Loved Me” for Dion as the theme song for the 1996 film “Up Close and Personal” with Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. On the Gaga front, the two collaborated on “TiIl It Happens to You” for the 2017 documentary about sexual assault “The Hunting Ground” and most recently, “Why Did You Do That?,” a pop song that Ally sings in “A Star Is Born” that fans continue to debate if it was supposed to be a good tune or if it was purposely made to sound like a trashy dance hit.

“I’d love to hear a ballad version of ‘Why Did You Do That?’ sung by Celine Dion,” Warren told Variety.

Speaking of Gaga, “Eighth Grade” star Elsie Fisher said he’s hoping to meet the music superstar at the Globes. “I love her in a ‘Star Is Born’ and I think she’s just incredible in everything she does and just a great person,” Fisher said on the red carpet.

Inside the tea party, Netflix boss Ted Sarandos chatted with Sacha Baron Cohen and Timothée Chalamet. Sarandos also spent plenty of time huddled with “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón.

“The Favourite” trio Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz walked the carpet together before reuniting with their co-stars Joe Alwyn and Nicholas Hoult in the ballroom. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan and Kathryn Hahn embraced near a buffet offering egg salad sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and sweets, including lemon meringue tarts.

Keegan-Michael Key was all smiles talking about his hometown of Detroit with John Krasinski, saying, “We’ve got Blake Griffin and a rep who is going to ‘impeach the mother—er,'” a reference to newly minted U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Patricia Clarkson laughed it up with “If Beale Street Could Talk’s” KiKi Layne.

Here’s hoping the wet weather doesn’t dampen everyone’s spirits today.

“We want it raining now,” Clarkson said as yesterday’s downpour pelted the tent over the red carpet. “Not tomorrow! Not my gown. My gown cannot handle rain.”

‘Fortnite’ Player who Streamed Alleged Assault of Pregnant Partner Banned Again on Twitch

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 07:11 AM PST

A “Fortnite” player who allegedly assaulted his pregnant partner in front of their two young children during a Twitch livestream has been banned for a second time from the streaming service following outcry from social media.

In mid-December Australian streamer Luke “MrDeadMoth” Munday, 26, was seen arguing with his 21-year-old pregnant partner before allegedly hitting her in the face in front of their 3 and 20-month-old daughters while streaming. While Twitch initially banned Munday from the streaming service, he was back Dec. 30, garnering thousands of views on Twitch and generating anger online.

“Hey @Twitch @Twitch_ANZ how is the absolute spineless worm MrDeadMoth able to stream on your platform again after bashing his wife/fiance on stream. Pretty disgusting that hes even allowed an account after that despicable act,” writes one Twitter user.

“#MrDeadMoth How is this poor excuse of a man allowed back on @Twitch? I’ve seen channels banned permanently for as little as saying an offensive word. But you’re letting someone who literally bashed their wife LIVE, back on your site after a two week suspension?” Writes another. “Pathetic.”

Twitch Studios director Marcus “DJWheat” Graham expressed his own confusion over Munday’s return.

“Yes, I work for Twitch. No, I do not know why every moderation decision is made,” writes Graham in a tweet. “I appreciate many of you turning to me for answers, but I’m afraid I don’t have any about this at this moment. However, I’m a concerned community member just like you, and I will look into it. TY.”

Twitch has now re-banned Munday and removed his VOD’s from the streaming platform. His Twitch channel was taken offline on Friday. Variety has reached out to Twitch for comment.

Twitch community guidelines state it takes acts of threats of violence seriously “and all accounts associated with such activities will be indefinitely suspended.”

Munday is scheduled to appear in Australian court later this January on a common assault charge.

CES 2019: FCC’s Ajit Pai, Other U.S. Officials Cancel Vegas Trips Because of Government Shutdown

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 06:44 AM PST

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other U.S. government officials will be no-shows at CES 2019 this week as a result of agency funding lapses from the ongoing government shutdown.

Pai had been scheduled for a one-on-one interview with Consumer Technology Assn. president/CEO Gary Shapiro on Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 1:30-2 p.m. PT. Pai, a Republican-appointed commissioner named head of the FCC by Donald Trump, also canceled his trip to 2018 CES, coming after his controversial proposal to roll back Obama-era network neutrality rules in December 2017 and targeted harassment of Pai and his family over the issue.

In a statement Saturday, the CTA — the trade group that runs CES — said some other U.S. government personnel would not be making the trip to Vegas either because of the shutdown. Sessions pulled from the schedule include a panel with FCC commissioner Brendan Carr and FTC commissioner Rebecca Slaughter previously set for Jan. 8.

“Because of the government shutdown, some of our scheduled government speakers at CES 2019 have alerted us that they must cancel their travel to the show,” Shapiro said in a statement. “As a result, some of our scheduled CES 2019 programming and speakers will change.”

In addition to Pai, Carr and Slaughter, others canceling CES appearances include reps from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Homeland Security; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the Food and Drug Administration.

For now, among those still scheduled to appear are U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, set to deliver a keynote speech Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 11 a.m. PT. Her talk will focus on the “future of drones and self-driving technology and how they will revolutionize transportation,” according to the CTA.

CTA expects more than 180,000 attendees for 2019 CES, which officially runs Jan. 8-11. Follow updates from the show at this link and read Variety‘s preview of technologies to watch at the world’s biggest consumer-electronics convention.

Showtime Toasts TV ‘Excellence’ With Patricia Arquette, Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Sacha Baron Cohen

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 06:38 AM PST

In a world of 500 TV shows, it matters that you take big swings for greatness. That was David Nevins’ message to attendees Saturday night at Showtime‘s pre-Golden Globe Awards gathering held at Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood.

Nevins, who was recently named CBS Corp.’s chief creative officer in addition to his role as Showtime chairman-CEO, saluted the roster of nominees that he believes demonstrates the breadth and depth of the channel’s programming. And the ephemera of Hollywood’s annual awards derby season helps put the spotlight on deserving work.

“In a world of 500 shows, people want to watch stuff that is really, really good and striving to be great,” Nevins told Variety. “Shows like ‘Kidding,’ ‘Escape at Dannemora,’ Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Who Is America’ are striving for excellence. I don’t believe the awards process is entirely about excellence but it’s an indicator of excellence.”

The steady rain that soaked Sunset Boulevard wasn’t enough to stop the “Escape at Dannemora” gang from coming out in force. Patricia Arquette was inundated with compliments about her juggernaut of a performance in the Ben Stiller-directed limited series about the real-life 2015 prison break in upstate New York.

Stiller also made the rounds with “Dannemora’s” Bonnie Hunt and Eric Lange, and Stiller and spent some time comparing notes with Baron Cohen, who attended with wife Isla Fisher. “I’m so happy for the actors that people have responded so well to the material,” Stiller told Variety. He also gave his endorsement to Showtime’s old-school strategy of releasing episodes weekly rather than all at once, saying it gave real “momentum” to “Dannemora,” which wrapped its seven-episode run on Dec. 30.

Jim Carrey and his “Kidding” co-stars Ginger Gonzaga and Judy Greer were on hand to toast the freshman series’ Globe nomination for comedy series. “SMILF” creator-star Frankie Shaw and “Shameless’ ” Steve Howey were among those offering support for Team Showtime.

A glimpse of Showtime’s future was evident with the presence of actor Casey Wilson and David Caspe, co-creator of the comedy “Black Monday,” which bows Jan. 20, and Jonathan Tucker and Aldis Hodge of the upcoming drama “City on a Hill.”

(Pictured: “Escape at Dannemora’s” Ben Stiller and Patricia Arquette and CBS Corp./Showtime’s David Nevins)

Tom Jones wishes he’d done more for wife

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Sir Tom Jones blames himself for his wife’s death.

The ‘Delilah’ hitmaker was left devastated when his beloved spouse Linda died of lung cancer in 2016 and he wishes he’d done something to force her to seek treatment much earlier.

Asked if he blames himself for his wife’s death, he said “Yes. You do start to think, ‘What if I had forced her to go to the doctors?’

“Because she didn’t go. You think, ‘S**t, maybe I should have said she had to’.

“After I lost my wife, lyrics to a Bob Dylan song reminded me of her. It’s called ‘What Good Am I?’

“I was reading into the lyrics thinking , ‘Jesus Christ …was I partly to blame? Should I have woken up before?

“By the time we found out about her cancer it was too late. I thought, ‘What could I have done?’. It started to mean more. So that song is very touching.”

But the 78-year-old singer admitted he needed therapy before he was able to perform his cover of the song again.

He added to the Daily Star Sunday newspaper: “When she passed away it was such a blow. I didn’t know whether I’d be able to do that song again.

“It was the one song I was scared of because she loved it.

“I had therapy in LA. The therapist said, ‘Don’t make any drastic moves right now, give it a little time’. I told her about the song and she said, ‘That’s the first one you should try. Get the one you’re scared of over with’.

“I thought as long as I could channel it with balance then I could return to music. I tried it. I got some of my musicians together and that was the first step. And doing that really helped.”

Tom – who had son Mark with Linda – recalled his devastation after his wife’s death but admitted he was determined not to “crumble completely”.

He said: “When something like that happens, it’s so devastating you don’t know how to deal with everything. It was something I’d never dealt with before.

“I’m human. We’re all human beings first and foremost.

“When you lose someone that you love it can kick you in the…if you really love somebody and they go, that’s hard.

“But you’ve got to try or you’ll crumble completely and other people will suffer. You’ve got to think about your family as well.”

Lily James unsure of marriage

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Lily James doesn’t know if she wants to get married.

The ‘Cinderella’ actress has been in a relationship with ‘The Crown’ star Matt Smith for around five years and she admits her feelings about tying the knot constantly change.

She said: “I’ve gone through different phases of wanting and not wanting to get married. I don’t know where I sit with it now. What matters is the relationship and how you feel about each other.”

Though the 29-year-old beauty didn’t want to discuss any plans to have children, she admitted she believes the “most important thing” in life is to share it with a family.

After Matt previously admitted he wants to start a family, Lily was asked if she would too and told the Sunday Times Style magazine: “I’m definitely not answering that. But I come from the most incredible family, so that means a lot to me. Eventually, sharing your life with a family is the most important thing.”

The couple currently rent a house in North London and though they are keen to “settle” in the city, the former ‘Downton Abbey’ star wants to relocate to the countryside eventually.

She said: “I do like looking at houses. London is so full-on, eventually I’d like to have a little place in the country. But that’s a few years away. I want to settle here first.”

After a hectic period in her career, the ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ actress recently took six months off and had a great time relaxing with her friends.

She said: “I’ve been slacking a bit. I live in north London, where there are some of the best pubs, and I like to go out and dance every so often.

“I just went out to Rowans, the bowling alley in Finsbury Park with karaoke booths, for a friend’s birthday and did some very bad singing of Cher songs with my mates. I’ve been in a long phase of not looking after myself, so now I’m getting myself together again.”

Deena Cortese has baby boy

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 01:00 AM PST

Deena Cortese has given birth to a baby boy.

The ‘Jersey Shore’ star and her husband Christopher Buckner welcomed son Christopher John – who will be known as CJ – into the world on Saturday (05.01.19) and the brunette beauty admitted the new arrival has brought her even closer to her spouse.

Deena shared a video of the baby yawning and sleeping on her Instagram account and captioned the post: “Our Little Man has finally arrived. Christopher John Buckner (CJ) born January 5th at 4:41 pm at a whopping 20.5 inches..6 Lb 8.5 ounces.

“Uhg mommy and daddy love you so much CJ .. youre our everything. i never thought i could love Chris anymore than i did until i saw him hold CJ.(sic)”

Deena revealed in July she was expecting a baby and not only did she know she was having a boy, they had also already chosen his name.

She posted at the time: “We are truly blessed and our hearts are filled with so much joy and happiness. December can’t come soon enough! Daddy and Mommy can’t wait to meet you Christopher John you are going to be the most spoiled little boy ever!”

In recent weeks, the 31-year-old star has been keeping her fans updated on her pregnancy after going past her due date.

On December 29, she wrote: “CJ is just super comfy in mommys uterus (sic)”.

Deena recently took part in a maternity photoshoot because she wanted to celebrate the “blessing” of her pregnancy.

She shared one of the images on her Instagram account and wrote: “In only 4 weeks we’ll be welcoming a little boy into this world.

“Already being the crazy mom I know I’m going to be and because this is our first pregnancy and because pregnancy is a blessing, I wanted to make a special memory with my husband and baby bump.”

*Animal Crackers – Comic Strip – 20190106csack-s.jpg

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

*Bound & Gagged – Comic Strip – 20190106csbgg-s.jpg

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*Brewster Rockit – Comic Strip – 20190106csbre-s.jpg

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*Gasoline Alley – Comic Strip – 20190106csgas-s.jpg

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*Middletons, The – Comic Strip – 20190106csmid-s.jpg

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Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

Today’s Birthday (01/06/19). Pursue an invented purpose this year. Provide leadership for a personal cause. Prioritize passion and romance. Changing financial conditions this winter lead to new possibilities between you and a partner. A summer shift in your perspective leads to a personal epiphany. Follow your vision.

To get the advantage, check the day’s rating: 10 is the easiest day, 0 the most challenging.

Aries (March 21-April 19) — Today is an 8 — Barriers to personal advancement fade, with Uranus direct in your sign. Succeed through innovation. Share what you’re learning. Friends are a big help today and tomorrow.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) — Today is a 6 — Creative muses harmonize, with Uranus direct. Dreams and visions guide you. You’re more sensitive. Career opportunities arise over the next few days. Forge ahead.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) — Today is an 8 — Today and tomorrow favor travel and exploration. Investigate possibilities. Creative collaborations come easier now that Uranus is direct. The social arena provides inspiration, motivation and solutions.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Today is an 8 — Elusive career puzzles reveal their solutions, with Uranus direct. Surge forward professionally through innovation, inspiration and intuition. Discuss the numbers with your partner.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) — Today is a 7 — Share an adventure with your partner. Travel and educational journeys flow with greater ease now that Uranus is direct. Philosophical insights and intellectual discoveries flourish.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) — Today is an 8 — Physical action gets a job done. Practice your skills. It’s easier to grow shared money, with Uranus direct. Your collaborations grow more lucrative. Motivate each other.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) — Today is a 7 — Prioritize love and family fun today and tomorrow. Creative collaboration comes easier, with Uranus direct now. A partnership that was stalled now advances. Discover fresh inspiration.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) — Today is a 7 — Domestic matters have your attention. Creativity gushes forth with Uranus direct, especially regarding service and health. Your passion and talent surge. Practice for performance breakthroughs.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) — Today is a 7 — Creative communication and expression flower through tomorrow. Fun and romance come intuitively, with Uranus direct. A door that was locked now opens.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) — Today is a 9 — Cash flow rises for a few days. Unleash your domestic creativity, with Uranus direct. Use color and lighting for ambiance. You’re especially intuitive at home.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) — Today is a 9 — Take charge for a personal project. Your communications go further, with Uranus direct. A blockage with transmissions dissolves. New creative opportunities develop. Insight and understanding flower.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Today is a 6 — Contemplate your next move. Windfall apples drop at your feet, with Uranus direct. Discover new income and cash flow. Traffic, long delayed, gushes forward.

(Astrologer Nancy Black continues her mother Linda Black’s legacy horoscopes column. She welcomes comments and questions on Twitter, @LindaCBlack. For more astrological interpretations like today’s Gemini horoscope, visit Linda Black Astrology by clicking daily horoscopes, or go to www.nancyblack.com.)

Who can explain it?

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

With Bob Jones

East-West vulnerable, North deals


S-K J 8

H-A 5 4

D-A 10 7 6 4 3



S-9 S-A 10 3 2

H-Q 9 8 2 H-J 10 7 6

D-9 8 D-J 2

C-A Q J 10 5 4 C-9 7 6


S-Q 7 6 5 4

H-K 3

D-K Q 5

C-K 8 2

The bidding:


1D Pass 1S Dbl

*Redbl 2H 4S All pass

*Redbl = Exactly three-card spade support

Opening lead: Two of H

Sometimes a great player makes a great play that is difficult to explain. At least it is difficult for us to explain. Maybe that’s why they are great players. Karen McCallum, a multiple World Champion, was South, in today’s deal from a team game.

At the other table, South won the opening heart lead in hand and led a low spade to dummy’s jack, which East allowed to hold. Declarer continued with the king of spades and could no longer make the hand. East won with her ace and shifted to the nine of clubs, ducked all around. A second club forced dummy to ruff and South couldn’t avoid the loss of two trumps and two clubs.

McCallum also won the heart lead in hand and led a spade to the jack, also ducked. At this point, she found the only way to make her contract — she played three rounds of diamonds! East ruffed and led the nine of clubs, covered by the king and ace. A second club was ruffed in dummy and McCallum continued leading high diamonds from dummy. East ruffed with the 10 and was over-ruffed. Declarer’s last club was ruffed in dummy and the defense had to settle for the ace of trumps. Making four!

McCallum could reason, from the auction, that the hearts were 4-4. Also, West might have led a diamond with a singleton, so it was reasonable to place West with two diamonds. But playing the black suits to split like that? A remarkable guess.

(Bob Jones welcomes readers’ responses sent in care of this newspaper or to Tribune Content Agency, LLC., 16650 Westgrove Dr., Suite 175, Addison, TX 75001. E-mail responses may be sent to tcaeditors@tribpub.com.)

Evidence convinces pro to lay down his set

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

In poker, three of a kind beats two pair but isn’t good enough to overcome a straight. There are two ways to make three of a kind. You can either make a set or trips. The former happens when you hold a pocket pair and find a third on the board, while the latter is when there’s a pair on the board and you having a matching card in your hand.

For example, if you hold 4d 4c and the board comes 5d 9d 4h, you have flopped a set. On the flip side, if you hold 8c 9c and the flop is 8h 8s Kc, then you have trips. It’s that simple.

Now, let’s talk about a hand where someone flopped a set and somehow managed to not go broke. It happened in November at the $1,100-buy-in Mid-States Poker Tour Denver Poker Open main event, a tournament that drew 383 players to the Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado.

In Level 9 (blinds of 400-800 with an ante of 100), World Series of Poker bracelet winner John “KasinoKrime” Beauprez raised to 2,000 in early position with pocket jacks. The player in the cutoff seat called, Tye Rogers came along from the big blind, and the flop came down Qc Js 3h.

Rogers checked, Beauprez continued for 3,800, and the player in the cutoff seat got out of the way. Rogers called and then checked for the second time on the 9d turn. Beauprez bet again, this time 5,200, and Rogers woke up with a check-raise to 15,200.

Beauprez just called, and the 7c completed the board on the river. Rogers jammed for 39,000, and Beauprez, who had just a bit less, gave it some thought before laying down his set.

How was he able to do it? By thinking through the hand — Beauprez had to put his opponent on a straight — and following the evidence.

For instance, take the preflop action. Rogers called out of the big blind, meaning he likely held something like a small pocket pair, two paint cards, or hands with a ten such as J-10, 10-9, 10-8, etc. One hand Beauprez could rule out was pocket queens. How so? Because Rogers probably would have three-bet such a strong hand preflop.

When Rogers check-raised the turn, he was advertising that he either had a made hand, like K-10 or 10-8 for a straight, or some sort of semi-bluff, like a pair with an open-ended straight draw. Beauprez could have pushed back, but by just calling, he opened the door for his opponent to value-bet worse hands on the river. If his opponent checked, Beauprez could comfortably bet.

On the river, Rogers went for the big payday by moving all in. A lot of players would have called if they were in Beauprez’s shoes, but the WSOP champ thought better of it. He likely deduced that Rogers was on the tighter side and wouldn’t bluff the river with a missed draw, in which case putting him on a straight seemed like a logical deduction.

That said, putting your opponent on a hand is one thing, and folding your premium holding is another. Like Kenny Rogers said, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.”

(Chad Holloway is a 2013 World Series of Poker bracelet winner and media director for the Mid-States Poker Tour. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadAHolloway.)

Louie gifts his wife

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

“What did you get Esther for her birthday?” I asked Unlucky Louie in the club lounge. I knew he had been shopping for just the right gift for his wife.

“I bought her a nice coat,” Louie told me gloomily. “Then, yesterday, I saw the same coat at 50 percent off.”

“Murphy’s Law,” I said.

“That’s not the worst of it,” Louie said. “Esther was with me, and she got upset because she assumed I’d picked out the coat because it was cheap.”

Everything happens to poor Louie. In today’s deal, he dealt himself the fine South hand and was disappointed when he got no cooperation from North and had to stop at game. West led the queen and jack of clubs, and Louie ruffed and took the A-K of trumps.

When East discarded, Louie was in trouble. He continued with the ace of hearts, but West ruffed, took his other high trump to remove Louie’s last trump and cashed a club. Down one. (If West refuses to ruff Louie’s first two high hearts, Louie must be careful to avoid going down two.)

Louie gave East-West a gift by failing to maintain control. He can take one high trump but should then lead a high heart. If East-West followed, Louie would continue with high hearts. He might lose an unnecessary ruff (if trumps in fact split 3-2), but he would keep control and would lose only three tricks in all.

If in the actual deal West ruffs the first heart and leads another club, Louie ruffs, takes the king of trumps and continues with high hearts. West can score only his second high trump.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable


S 10 8 3 2

H 8 5 4

D 7 4 2

C 7 5 2


S Q J 9 5

H None

D Q 10 8 6 3

C Q J 10 8


S 4

H J 7 3 2

D J 9 5

C A K 6 4 3


S A K 7 6

H A K Q 10 9 6


C 9

South West North East

2 C Pass 2 D Pass

2 H Pass 2 NT Pass

3 S Pass 4 S All Pass

Opening lead — C Q

Should Donald Trump be impeached?

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

Should Donald Trump be impeached?

That he will be seems likely as Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, the chamber where impeachment proceedings begin. That he deserves to be is similarly self-evident.

President Andrew Johnson was impeached after firing a member of his Cabinet without congressional approval. President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a sexual affair with an intern.

If those men merited impeachment, how much more deserving is Trump, who stands credibly accused of felonies for directing hush money payoffs to a porn star and a Playboy centerfold? To say nothing of charges that his campaign coordinated with Russia to get him elected. Or the fact that he seems to have obstructed justice in plain sight. Not to mention that he gave away state secrets in the Oval Office. Surely Trump hurdles the bar — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — set by the Constitution with room to spare.

So, yes, he may well be impeached and surely deserves to be. But should he be? That’s a trickier question.

As you may recall from civics class, removal by impeachment is a two-step process: The House produces articles of impeachment, the Senate conducts a trial to determine if a president should be kicked out of office. Given that the Republican-dominated Senate has heretofore shown all the moral fiber of algae, there is little prospect it will dismiss Trump.

Even assuming for the sake of argument that it did, there’s no reason to believe his removal would be a panacea for the disunion, disharmony and dyspepsia that afflict this country. Indeed, it could easily make matters worse.

Remember: 63 million people voted for this guy, even knowing what he is. Remember, too, that his latest Gallup approval rating stands at 39 percent. Though no elected president since Eisenhower has polled that low at a similar point in his term, that figure still seems stunningly high.

As flagrantly awful a president as Trump has been, four in 10 Americans think he’s doing a bang-up job. To overturn the will of that many people, especially in today’s charged environment, is to fracture an already fractured union.

None of which is to say it shouldn’t be done, but only to point out the consequences thereof. But again, the argument is academic. As noted, Trump will probably be impeached (though not removed). And the six in 10 of us who see his awfulness for what it is surely will exult. Which is fine so long as we realize that impeachment will very likely change very little of what actually ails America.

Perhaps that’s as it should be.

One gets the sense sometimes that people think of impeachment as a magic trick. Abracadabra and presto! Trump disappears in a cloud of Cheetos dust, America is saved.

It’s a great fantasy, but only that. Because Trump is not the problem, only a symptom. And America doesn’t need to be saved. No, for its own mental and moral health, America needs to save itself, needs to clearly and emphatically reject what it has become. Impeachment does not do that.

Voting the awfulness out, does. Consider this new Congress, with its record number of women, including its first Native-American women, its first Muslim women and its youngest woman ever, this Congress that looks so much more like the country it serves. Consider the organizing, the canvassing, the fundraising, the putting lives on hold, the stop-complaining-about-it-and-getting-involved it took to produce this result. Then roll up your sleeves and forget about magic.

That’s not what got us into this mess. It’s not what will get us out.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

Beaver colony: eternal dam nation.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The hardest part about climbing the ladder of success is climbing over all the people sleeping at the bottom.

Tuesday January 8, 2019

Always think twice before speaking your mind. By then, somebody will have changed the subject and you’ll be off the hook.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Getting married is like buying an old house. You don’t see it the way it is, but the way you think it will look once you’ve remodeled it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Some people can afford to trace their family trees, but most of us can only afford to look up the family shrub.

Friday, January 11, 2019

No matter how much a hospital charges for a private room, they still only give you a semi-private gown.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The easiest way to live happily ever after is if you find romance late in life. That way, you don’t have as much time to get on each other’s nerves.


There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean they’re all waiting with baited breath.

Son’s delirium causes unexpected hurt

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

Dear Amy: I would like your opinion on something. My son and I always had and still have a normal, loving, good relationship. Fifteen years ago, when he was 25, my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time, he had been married for two years to his college sweetheart.

I was fortunate enough to get referrals for the best surgeons. The operation went on for several hours. Upon his recovery, he was placed in a hospital bed. He was still kind of groggy and in a lot of pain when my husband, daughter and I went to see him.

I asked if there was anything he needed. He told me to get out of the room.

His wife’s mother came in and he started calling out to her: “Mom!” and she went to him. I was never so crushed in my entire life.

I started to cry and ran out, and kept running.

My daughter and husband brought me to the cafeteria in the hospital to try and calm me down. After the surgery, he and his wife came back to stay at my house until he was healed enough to go to his home.

This incident was never brought up or talked about.

Now, 15 years later, I still harbor hurt and resentment. How do I handle it? I’m not in good health. Should I keep it buried or bring it up?

I’m not sure if he remembers it and do not want him to feel bad. However, it gnaws away on my mind and heart.

— The Real Mother

Dear Real Mother: Unfortunately, I feel that the real pathology here is your holding onto an obviously hallucinatory statement made under extreme circumstances 15 years ago.

I don’t know if you have ever been hospitalized and recovered from a major operation using anesthesia, but I have seen people hallucinate and suffer from delirium while in the grip of “ICU psychosis.” My own children were completely loopy after only getting their wisdom teeth extracted. (One seemed to think that our dog, Calvin, would be driving her home from the dental office.)

I don’t think your son’s reaction while emerging from anesthesia is out of the ordinary. I do think that you were traumatized by watching your son suffer and skate so close to death.

Please, do yourself and your family a favor and bring this up with your son. I hope you can temper your reaction to this enough so that you will understand that he didn’t know what he was saying and likely has no memory of it. I hope a reassuring hug and an “I love you, Mom,” will allow you to finally close the book on this strange chapter in your emotional life. Holding on to this is not good for your own health. Find a way to let it go.

Dear Amy: My first girlfriend, “Annie,” and I went out for two months.

Then I found out that Annie cheated on me with another guy. They were at a bar, drinking and laughing.

I broke up with Annie, and I never went back to her.

Last month, I met a pretty girl, “Rebecca,” who is a warm and kindhearted person.

We hit it off right away. Yesterday, I saw her with another guy at a shopping mall.

I’m afraid that I’m being cheated on again.

What should I do?

— Cheated Upon?

Dear Cheated Upon: You are new to this. You cannot police women you have known for a relatively short time and declare that laughing with a guy in a bar, or walking with a guy through a mall is cheating. The assumptions you are making, and your behavior concerning these women, reveals how inexperienced you are. Dating is a process of getting to know someone, and communicating your various needs and expectations. Unless you and someone you’re seeing mutually decide that you are “exclusive,” you’re not. Seeing other people under these circumstances is not cheating. You need to get a handle on your jealousy.

Dear Amy: “Lost and Sad” reported having “lost” their father. It wasn’t until I read the full letter that I understood that the father wasn’t “lost,” but dead! Why can’t people talk plainly about death?

— Plain Talker

Dear Talker: People use many different euphemisms when referring to death. These indirect expressions — “lost,” “late,” “passed” — all imply that the beloved person is more or less waiting in another room. And for bereaved people, that’s how it feels. Let it be.

(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: Askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.)

OMARR’S DAILY ASTROLOGICAL FORECAST, For release 01/06/19 for 01/06/19

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

BIRTHDAY GAL: Actress Kate McKinnon was born in Sea Cliff, N.Y., on this date in 1984. This birthday gal has won two Emmys as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” She’s also lent her voice talents to episodes of “Nature Cat,” “The Magic School Bus Rides Again,” and “Family Guy.” One the big screen, her film work includes “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” “Rough Night,” and “Ghostbusters.”

ARIES (Mar 21-Apr. 19): Pleasure comes before business. Social interactions might come more naturally than trying to make headway with work or career matters in the week to come. A close companion knows how to make you smile.

TAURUS (Apr. 20-May 20): Keep it to yourself. Be friendly and courteous with those you encounter but avoid giving away too much personal information. Passion and conviction can rally others to join your cause in the week ahead.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Stick with what works. This is not the week to test radical new ideas because if you rock the boat you may create headaches. Focus your attention on activities that inspire and bring enjoyment in the week ahead.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Do your own thing. You will be at your best when you think and act independently, so you may want to choose your own path in the week ahead. This could be an ideal time to make changes or upgrades.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Keep it simple. Overanalyzing a situation could make things more difficult than they need to be. Stick with tried and true methods in the week ahead as you may find the latest time saving technique to be confusing.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Say it like you mean it. Being too subtle about your intentions may leave those around you confused about what you want. Get right to the point, without being contentious, and you’ll avoid unnecessary mistakes.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22.): Romance goes into full bloom. Favorable circumstances may help a relationship reach a whole new level of understanding. Your personal charm and magnetism make it easy to have your way this week.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Logic falls to the wayside. You may find the going easier if you go with your gut instinct rather than trying to compute all the facts. Be sure to give a romantic partner all the time he or she deserves this week.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Don’t beat a dead horse. Agree to disagree as constantly trying to change someone’s mind will just have you running in endless circles. Put the needs of family and friends above all else this week.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Seize the opportunity. Stay alert in the week ahead as you may have a chance to make the big move you desire. Buying a new outfit or trying a different hairstyle could provide some much-needed confidence.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The sky belongs to the stars. You’ll feel like a star this week as your popularity will put you in high demand in both business and romantic venues. If you have need of a favor, you’ll likely get it with ease.

PISCES (Feb. 19-Mar. 20): Have it your way. Your personality and charm will have others eating out of the palm of your hand and make you the center of attention as the week unfolds. Meeting new people may be worth your while.

IF JANUARY 6 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: Your ambitions may be on the rise during the upcoming six to seven weeks. This is a good time to organize your tasks and to gather experience, but you should wait until late February to make major decisions, changes or commitments. The second half of April is another time when your judgement will be better than usual and when you can make wise decisions that will positively affect your future. Sit tight in May and initiate nothing of importance because anything you begin could cause you problems. Late September is the best time for a vacation or for a romantic outing. After November you will be able to relax because the burdens and responsibilities you have shouldered will be running on automatic.

*Pluggers – Color Comic Panel – 20190106cpplc-s.jpg

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST


Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST



             By J. McCarthy  


Baltimore is 7-0 against the spread its last 7 playoff games. The Ravens are 4-1 against the spread their last 5 games after allowing more than 350 total yards the previous game. Los Angeles is 3-8 against the spread its last 11 games following a point spread win. Take Baltimore -2 1/2 for another Best Bet winner. Other plays include Chicago -6 1/2 vs. Philadelphia and the LA Clippers -7 vs. Orlando.




 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  


               Wild Card Playoffs   BALTIMORE             2 1/2  (42)     LA Chargers   CHICAGO               6 1/2  (41.5)  Philadelphia  


                College Football  


 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  


                Monday, Jan 7th.              National Championship Game            Levi's Stadium-Santa Clara, CA.   Alabama               4 1/2  (58.5)       Clemson  




 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  


 Brooklyn              2      (208)        CHICAGO   LA CLIPPERS           7      (220)        Orlando   y-MINNESOTA        No Line   (XXX)      LA Lakers   Miami                 6      (222)        ATLANTA   OKLAHOMA CITY         10     (225)     Washington   z-TORONTO          No Line   (XXX)        Indiana   Charlotte             1      (224)        PHOENIX  


y-Minnesota D. Rose is questionable.

z-Toronto K. Lowry is questionable.


               College Basketball  


 Favorite            Points               Underdog  


 DAYTON                9                  Richmond   MARQUETTE             8                    Xavier   Seton Hall            2 1/2                DEPAUL   NORTHWESTERN          7 1/2              Illinois   MICHIGAN              8                   Indiana   ST. JOSEPH'S          13        George Washington   Nebraska              2 1/2                  IOWA   GEORGE MASON          5 1/2       St. Bonaventure   WICHITA ST            1                    Temple   SAINT LOUIS           5              Rhode Island   LOUISVILLE            5 1/2         Miami-Florida   HOUSTON               9 1/2               Memphis   PENN ST               1                 Wisconsin   SOUTHERN CAL          6 1/2              Stanford                     Added Game   South Dakota St       5              SOUTH DAKOTA  




 Favorite            Goals     (O/U)      Underdog  


 Carolina            1/2-1     (6.5)        OTTAWA   ARIZONA            Even-1/2   (6)      NY Rangers   VEGAS              1-1 1/2    (6)      New Jersey   Washington          1/2-1     (6)         DETROIT   WINNIPEG           Even-1/2   (6)          Dallas   ANAHEIM            Even-1/2   (5.5)      Edmonton   PITTSBURGH         1-1 1/2    (6)         Chicago  


               Home Team in CAPS  



Crafting the perfect resume is often about ‘beating the bot’

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

DEAR READERS: Crafting a resume is always a challenge, and crafting one that takes keywords into account makes the task even more difficult. Are there any tips experts can offer about how to make sure the correct keywords get into your resume and cover letter?

As career strategist Dan Clay, author of “How to Write the Perfect Resume,” notes, “reverse engineering” your resume from the actual job description is the first step in crafting a powerful resume.

“Companies take great care in crafting their job descriptions to reflect the exact skills, capabilities and background that they’re looking for in their ideal candidate, so the more closely your resume matches the content found in the job description, the better you’ll be positioned for the role,” Clay says. “The key is to translate the responsibilities found in the job description into powerful action bullets that showcase your accomplishments, while proving that you’re capable of performing the desired task at the same time.”

That’s where keywords come into play.

“The purpose of keywords is to the beat the bot — those pesky filters the company’s applicant tracking system (ATS) uses to sort through the landslide of resumes they receive for each role,” explains Tim Toterhi, founder of Plotline Leadership and author of “The HR Guide to Getting and Crushing Your Dream Job.” He offers a few tips on how to successfully “beat the bot.”

1. Be specific. Compare your resume against the details listed in the job description, and use exact words from that job description to describe your accomplishments.

2. Front load. While it’s helpful to have keywords sprinkled throughout the document, making sure that happens is time-consuming and means you’ll have to edit the document for each role. So, don’t overdo it! “Instead, craft a resume body complete with compelling metric-driven proof points, then ensure your professional summary section lines up with their top-line needs,” Toterhi says.

3. Don’t rely on abbreviations. When listing your degrees, years of experience, and certifications use both the full spelling and the most common abbreviation, since you can’t be sure which of those options is being sought out by those pesky bots.

4. Go old school. “Playing the keyword game can help prevent you from being unfairly screened out. However, getting screened in once your doc hits human hands is far more important and where you should spend the lion’s share of your time,” Toterhi stresses. “Once you’ve optimized your resume, try to circumvent the process by connecting directly with influencers in the target organization. Sure, I’ll rely on my ATS to a degree, but an employee referral is far more valuable. Remember search engine optimization is good, but savvy employee optimization is better!”

And what about changing keywords every single time you apply for a new job?

Clay offers this advice: “A good rule of thumb for ensuring that your resume is as relevant as possible is to build a different version for each unique type of role you’re applying to,” he says. “If you’re targeting both account executive and client success roles, for example, you should have a separate resume for each that highlights the specific capabilities associated with the different roles. For roles that are similar, such as two sales roles at different companies, minor keyword tweaks should be sufficient.”

(Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at kfurore@yahoo.com.)

Retirement: Social security now or later?

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

Many financial planners recommend waiting until at least your full retirement age — or, even better, until you’re 70 — to claim Social Security.

You’re eligible to file for Social Security as early as age 62, but if you do, your benefits will be permanently reduced by at least 25 percent. Waiting until full retirement age — 66 for most baby boomers — means you’ll receive 100 percent of the benefits you’ve earned. And if you continue to postpone filing for benefits after you reach full retirement age, your payouts will grow by 8 percent a year until you reach age 70.

That, combined with cost-of-living adjustments in most years, is a return you’re unlikely to get anywhere else. Yet nearly 60 percent of retirees claim benefits before age 66, and about one-third of those retirees claim benefits at 62.

Figuring out when to file for Social Security usually comes down to a question that’s nearly impossible to answer: How long will you live?

Retirees who wait until full retirement age or later will receive fewer checks over their lifetime, but the checks will be for larger amounts. The longer you live, the more delaying pays off.

The age at which you come out ahead by postponing benefits is known as your break-even age. For example, a 62-year-old top wage earner would come out ahead by filing at 66 as long as he lives past age 77. If he delays filing for benefits until age 70, he would need to live past age 80 to break even. That’s below the average life expectancy (84 for men and nearly 87 for women who attain the age of 65), but if you don’t expect to live that long, there’s no point in postponing your benefits.

However, if your grandmother celebrated her 100th birthday by playing a few rounds of golf, and you’re fit and healthy, you’re probably better off waiting until at least full retirement age — or, better yet, age 70 — to file your claim.

If you’re married, there’s another factor to consider: survivor benefits. For example, if you’re the higher earner and you die first, your spouse will be able to take over your benefits. Delaying benefits will boost the monthly benefit your spouse will receive after you’re gone.

Some retirees remain convinced that they can come out ahead by filing at 62 and investing their benefits. That way, they argue, they won’t leave money on the table if they die before their break-even age. This strategy also appeals to retirees who fear that a shortfall in the Social Security trust fund will force the government to cut future benefits.

But in order to beat the guaranteed return you would get by delaying benefits (plus cost-of-living increases), you’d need to invest most of your benefits in stocks, financial planners say. That could work out in your favor — but if the market turns bearish, you won’t have years to recover your losses, says Gifford Lehman, a certified financial planner in Monterey, Calif.

(Sandra Block is a senior editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

Savings Game: If it’s the Social Security Administration calling, it’s very likely a scam

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

For the past few years, the media have widely reported on scammers who call unsuspecting victims pretending to be representatives of the IRS. They claim the potential victim owes money and encourage them to make payments using credit cards, debit cards or even gift cards.

Amazingly, thousands of people have fallen for the scam and have collectively lost tens of millions of dollars. As articles and columns unfailingly point out, this is not how government agencies collect debts. The IRS will not call you to collect a debt, and it certainly will not recommend payment via gift card!

Now it seems the fraudsters have a new wrinkle: impersonating a representative from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

AARP has warned of a dramatic increase in complaints from individuals complaining about callers purporting to be from SSA.

As with the IRS scam, the SSA impersonation scam gains its effectiveness from the simple fact that people fear getting on the bad side of SSA, as doing so could seriously complicate their lives.

Unfortunately, these scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their techniques. For example, they are now using robo-call systems which allow them to make millions of calls and repeat calls until they receive a positive response. The scammers falsely yet convincingly make it look like they’re calling from a legitimate 800 number associated with SSA (specifically 1-800-772-1213).

One of their demands is that the potential victim make a payment over the phone in order to obtain a new Medicare card. The new Medicare card is free — so if any caller claiming to be a government agent asks you for any payment in order to receive a new Medicare card, you know you are dealing with a scammer.

Other ploys include indicating that you are in danger of losing some benefits unless you provide some personal information. Again, this is a sure sign that you are the subject of a scam. Sometimes the scammer will claim that if you provide personal information, you may be eligible for a larger Social Security benefit, or that you are being called because SSA computers are down and your personal information has been lost.

A reliable sign that the call is a scam is if the caller threatens that your benefits will be terminated or reduced if you don’t comply with his or her demand for a fee or personal information.

You may receive an automated recording indicating that your Social Security number has been suspended because of illegal activity. You are then provided with a phone number to call to fix the problem and told that if you don’t call to fix the problem, your assets will be frozen. If you call the number, you will be asked to provide personal information, exposing yourself to identity theft.

If you believe that you received a fraudulent call, report the details of the call to the fraud hotline of the inspector general of Social Security at 1-800-0271 or online at olg.ssa.gov/report.

Also notify any seniors you know who are gullible to be on the lookout from scammers claiming to be SSA representatives.

It is possible that SSA will discover it has overpaid you and will demand you repay the overage. In that case SSA will contact you by mail, not by phone. If this happens, insist on a clear explanation as to why you were overpaid. You have the right to appeal such a request by filing Form SSA-561, Request for Reconsideration.

If you agree you have been overpaid but you believe you did not cause the overpayment and you can’t afford the terms of repayment, file Form SSA-632, Request for Waiver of Overpayment or Change in Repayment Rate. By filing this form, you are asking SSA to reconsider their decision and either let you pay back the amount at a different rate than SSA requested or waive the request for overpayment.

(Elliot Raphaelson welcomes your questions and comments at elliotraph@gmail.com.)

Investing: Here come the hot IPOs

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

The Chinese zodiac tells us that 2019 is the year of the pig, but investors in initial public offerings may begin calling it the year of the unicorn.

The mythical beast is also the nickname for privately held start-up companies valued at $1 billion or more, and a herd of them may be galloping to the public market. Analysts at Renaissance Capital, a provider of IPO-themed exchange-traded funds and research, say that companies on track for 2019 IPOs include ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft, photo-sharing app Pinterest, popular workplace messaging app Slack and stationary bike seller Peloton. Renaissance says offerings are also possible from home-rental platform Airbnb, Elon Musk-led aerospace firm SpaceX and Greek-yogurt maker Chobani.

A huge year for IPOs in 2019 would represent a continuation of 2018’s torrid tempo. Through the first three quarters, 156 companies had gone public — 50 more than the same period in 2017 — and the $39.8 billion those companies raised was 62 percent more than the take the year before. At that pace, 2018 will likely be the biggest IPO year since 2014 and just the third year in the past decade to surpass 200 IPOs, says Renaissance.

Market slides can disproportionately affect recent IPOs, and if they perform poorly, the pace of new issues could slow. But even persistent market choppiness in the year ahead probably wouldn’t deter the likes of Uber and Lyft from going public, says Josef Schuster, founder of IPOX Schuster, an investment research firm. A full-fledged bear market, however, would likely force companies to lower their prospective offering prices significantly, which could sideline even the largest companies.

From 1980 through 2017, IPO stocks rose an average of 18 percent from their offering price on the first day of trading, according to data from Jay Ritter, a finance professor and IPO expert at the University of Florida. But individual investors rarely receive offering-priced shares, which are typically reserved for institutional investors and prized clients of the issuing brokerage firms.

That leaves most investors in the position of having to invest in IPOs after they hit the open market — a risky proposition, says Schuster. Due to their potential to shoot up or plummet in a single day, “any investment in an IPO should have a very conservative weight in your portfolio,” he says.

Share prices tend to settle down after firms issue their first earnings reports, but the stocks still carry more volatility than more-established securities, says Schuster.

To help mitigate some of the risk of investing in IPOs, read the literature that companies must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission in advance of the offering. One measure to consider, says Schuster, is the percentage of a firm’s stock made available to the public. Companies that drum up demand for a very small number of shares can build momentum and shoot up quickly, but the result is an extremely volatile stock. Any IPO that makes less than 15 percent of its shares available should give investors pause, he says.

Once a stock begins trading, pay attention to its first-day return. Companies that post negative returns on the first day are likely to carry negative momentum in the market, while companies that immediately skyrocket may have trouble living up to the hype. Schuster looks for first-day returns that fall between zero and 65 percent.

(Ryan Ermey is a staff writer at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

Spending: Choose a cheaper wireless plan

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:01 AM PST

As cellular providers continue to vie for customers, you’re likely find more wireless plan options and better deals than in years past.

“Carriers make changes all the time, so to get the best deals, people should re-shop their plan twice a year,” says Toni Toikka, president of Alekstra, which analyzes wireless bills. Most people are overpaying by about 30 percent, he says.

To get the best deal, you’ll probably need to switch carriers. Current customers usually aren’t eligible for promotions or even some of the newer plans, says Tina Chang, of WhistleOut.com, a phone-plan comparison website.

Start by reviewing how you and others on your plan use your phones. With most of today’s plans, talk and text come cheap and high-speed data drives up the bill.

“People are quick to say that they need an unlimited data plan,” says Chang. But, she says, you may not be using enough data to warrant an unlimited plan, especially when you think about how often you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Families sharing a plan and people who frequently use their phones to stream content or as mobile hot spots use gobs of data — maybe 20 gigabytes or more each month. But people who mostly stick to calling, texting and using a few apps may only need 1GB of data or less a month. Most smartphone users fall somewhere in between — using around 6GB of cellular data each month, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.

If you or others on your plan are heavy data users, an unlimited plan is probably the way to go. All four of the major carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — offer unlimited plans with unlimited calls, texts and data. And many smaller carriers have similar options.

Even on an unlimited plan, carriers can force you into the slow lane by reducing your data speeds. When that happens generally depends on how much you’re paying for your unlimited service. A network’s pricier unlimited plans will typically allow users to cruise at high speeds for longer before pumping the brakes. For example, AT&T’s cheapest unlimited plan ($70 a month for a single line) can slow data speeds anytime the network is busy. But users of the company’s more expensive unlimited data plan ($80 a month for a single line) won’t have data speeds reduced until after they’ve used 22GB of data during the billing cycle, according to AT&T.

You may gravitate toward the four major carriers, but there’s no shortage of other options — often at much lower prices. If you’ve been happy with the coverage you’re getting from a major carrier, you might consider a plan from another carrier that uses the same network.

The strength of a network used to vary from one area to the next, but, says Brad Akyuz, a director at NPD Group, “the differences in power and coverage between networks is minimal these days.”

All four of the major carriers run spin-off brands. Cricket, for example, is owned by AT&T; Boost Mobile is Sprint’s prepaid plan; Metro is run by T-Mobile; and Verizon runs Visible. These brands, along with other small providers, typically run on the networks of larger carriers.

(Kaitlin Pitsker is a staff writer at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

Kendall Jenner to share ‘raw story’

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 11:00 PM PST

Kendall Jenner is to reveal her most “raw story” on Sunday (06.01.19) evening.

The 23-year-old model has been praised by her mother Kris Jenner for her bravery after making the decision to speak out on a mystery issue in order to help her fans.

Kris wrote on Instagram: “I’m so proud of my darling @KendallJenner for being so brave and vulnerable. Seeing you share your most raw story in order to make a positive impact for so many people and help foster a positive dialogue is a testament to the incredible woman you’ve become. Make sure to watch Kendall’s Twitter on Sunday night to find out what I’m talking about and be prepared to be moved. #bethechange #shareyourstory #changetheconversation #proudmom #finallyasolution #authenticity #mydaughterinspiresme #getready (sic)”

The 63-year-old momager’s post was accompanied by a short clip featuring Kendall – who turned 23 in November – insisting she is “very normal” and pledging to help others.

She said: “When I was 14, I couldn’t reach as many people that I can now that I’m 22. Now I have this whole thing behind me, I can speak to so many people and be like, ‘I can help you and it’s OK.’

“I experience it. I’m very normal. I understand you. I can connect with you.”

While it is unclear what the ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ star’s revelation will be, Kendall has previously spoken candidly about her struggles with anxiety, admitting she is a “hypochondriac” who always worries about illness.

She said: “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been a hypochondriac. I’ve always been the worst hypochondriac. But now I have to try and be a big girl.”

The reality television star had hundreds of dollars of jewellery stolen from her home in 2017, while her older sister Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in 2016, and all that has contributed to Kendall feeling unsafe.

She admitted: “There’s a lot that happened this past year, starting with like, Kim’s robbery. Then I got robbed, and I had my stalkers. That’s why I don’t really like going out anymore. That’s why I don’t tweet, that’s why I don’t Instagram. That gives me anxiety, too. I swear, it’s the craziest thing.”

LeToya Luckett gives birth

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 11:00 PM PST

LeToya Luckett has given birth to a baby girl.

The original Destiny’s Child member and her husband Tommicus Walker welcomed daughter Gianna Iman into the world on Friday (04.01.18) and couldn’t be happier.

The 37-year-old singer shared a photo of her own and Gianna’s hands on Instagram and wrote: “Gianna Iman walker Born 1/ 4/19 7 Lbs 15oz.

“Our lives are forever changed (sic)”

The ‘T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle’ star revealed in October that she and her spouse were expecting a baby girl.

She wrote on Instagram at the time: “She’s already become the light of my life. Mommy & Daddy can’t wait to meet you baby girl! #IssaGurl.(sic)”

And LeToya also used the social media app to announce her pregnancy by posting a cute video featuring her six-year-old stepdaughter Madison.

In the clip, the youngster said: “Hi, my name is Madison Walker. I know something you don’t know.

“Mmm, I think I’ll give you a hint. I’m going to sing you a song.

“Daddy and Ms. Toya sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Eww, gross! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby! (sic)”

Madison then held up a number of ultrasound pictures in between footage of LeToya and Tommicus’ wedding.

LeToya recently admitted all her prayers were answered when she fell pregnant.

She said: “When you really hand the reins over [to Him] and get out of the driver seat of your life, and really allow God to step in and do what he’s been doing all along and get out of the way, then boom…it happens.

“So maybe a couple months after I threw that list out and said, ‘God, I’m giving this over to you’, it happened.”

Kate Beckinsale’s teary photo shoots

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 11:00 PM PST

Kate Beckinsale used to spend photo shoots in tears.

The 45-year-old actress – who has daughter Lily, 19, with former partner Michael Sheen – still doesn’t feel entirely comfortable in front of the camera but admitted she’s never been particularly glamorous in her everyday life.

She said: “I can’t help feeling everybody would rather have a model. Almost every photoshoot I did before the age of 25 I would at some point be crying in the bathroom.

“It wasn’t until my late 20s that I started feeling a bit more confident. In films I’d look alright, but in my personal life, I was literally in pyjamas and cutting my hair with nail scissors.”

But the ‘Farming’ actress feels grateful she’s never felt defined by her appearance because that would have made her “tiresome”.

She said: “I wasn’t someone who felt defined by what I looked like. I’m glad I wasn’t thinking I was hot s**t back then, it makes for a tiresome person.”

While Kate will accept compliments about her looks, she doesn’t want to be seen as just a pretty face, especially as she can’t help her appearance.

She said: “It’s not annoying if somebody pays a nice compliment but if people think that my looks are all that’s going on, it’s a bit tiresome. It’s also nothing to do with me.

“This is what my parents made, I can’t take any credit for it.

“My mum looks amazing, she looks 30 years younger than she is.”

For her latest role in ‘Farming’, Kate’s make-up artist took great pleasure in making her look dowdy for her role as an abusive, neglectful foster parent.

She added to Tatler magazine: “My make-up artist was very excited to paint my teeth brown and put wrinkles on me.

“What I liked so much about the character is that even though she did some [questionable] thngs, it’s still a love story between a boy and his mother.”

‘Greatest Showman’ Rules the Soundtracks Chart for 2018… And All Album Sales, Period

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 06:55 PM PST

In a music world where streaming services now overwhelmingly rule the market, who still actually bothers to buy albums? One obvious answer: people who also buy movie tickets.

BuzzAngle Music’s newly released data for 2018 shows that the two top selling albums of the year were the soundtracks for “The Greatest Showman” and “A Star Is Born.” By BuzzAngle’s calculations, which include an accumulation of individual track sales as well as pure album units, “Greatest Showman” was the sole million seller of the year, racking up 1.3 million in album sales. “A Star Is Born,” which was only released in time for fourth-quarter sales, came in second, with 525,000 albums.

The competition wasn’t even close in the album sales category. The year’s third biggest selling album, Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods,” lagged far behind with 377,000.

That’s not to say that “Greatest Showman” and “A Star Is Born” dominated the year in music when streaming was taken into consideration. When BuzzAngle ranked the year’s top albums by total consumption, “Greatest Showman” came in a still impressive fourth, behind Drake, Post Malone and XXXTentacion. “A Star Is Born” didn’t make the all-consumption top 25. And when albums were broken out by pure streams, “Greatest Showman” didn’t make the list.

Explanations for the disparity between sales and streaming on these soundtracks aren’t hard to come by. The audience that goes to the movies is hardly an exact overlap with the subscription base for Spotify or Apple Music. But even among moviegoers who do stream, the most impassioned among them may want something more tangible than data as a souvenir.

Another chart was also topped by a soundtrack: 2018’s bestselling vinyl albums. In that resurgent niche format, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1” was No. 1. Its dominance in that medium, with 47,000 LPs sold, was a not-so-ironic fate for a project that celebrates analog nostalgia to the point of putting a cassette tape on the cover.

The list of top-selling soundtracks for the year is also topped by, naturally, “Showman” and “Star.” (An initial report issued by BuzzAngle left those two top entries off the soundtrack chart, in error.) In at No. 3: “Hamilton,” with 239,000 sales, well ahead of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” album, at No. 4 with 168,000, and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” which sold 150,000 to land in fifth place.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the soundtrack sales list is “Moana,” a holdover from 2016, but still strong enough to come in at No. 6 for 2018 with 106,000 in sales. It’s not the only release to have come out two years ago or more to make the 2018 soundtrack sales chart. The No. 11 appearance of the companion album for the original “Mamma Mia” album was to be expected, given the popularity of the sequel. But the chart also includes such perennials as “Dirty Dancing,” “Moulin Rouge” and two separate “Frozen” albums.

Hamilton‘s” third-place finish wasn’t the only example of a pre-2018 Broadway cast album making the chart. “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Wicked” placed at Nos. 11-12, respectively.

TV soundtracks had less of a presence than theater, with only Netflix’s “Stranger Things” (No. 16) and the Disney Channel’s “Descendants 2” (No. 19) making a showing in the top 25.

Among song-based albums for non-musicals, after “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” fourth-place showing, “Fifty Shades Freed” came in at No. 8, followed closely by the greatly Grammy-nominated “Black Panther” album produced by Kendrick Lamar at No. 9. (The pure score album for “Black Panther” fell just short of the top 25.)

The only purely instrumental score to make the top 25 was an album of John Williams’ music for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at No. 16.

The full list:

  1. The Greatest Showman
  2. A Star Is Born
  3. Hamilton
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix No. 1
  5. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
  6. Moana — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  7. Coco: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  8. Fifty Shades Freed
  9. Black Panther: The Album (Music From and Inspired By)
  10. Trolls
  11. Mamma Mia! The Movie Soundtrack
  12. Pitch Perfect 3: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  13. Dear Evan Hansen: Original Broadway Cast Recording
  14. Wicked — Broadway Cast
  15. Deadpool 2
  16. Stranger Things: Soundtrack From the Netflix Original Series
  17. La La Land
  18. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  19. Descendants 2 — Original TV Movie Soundtrack
  20. Dirty Dancing
  21. Frozen
  22. Call Me By Your Name: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  23. Moulin Rouge
  24. Mean Girls
  25. Frozen: The Songs

Handelsman, Walt – Editorial Cartoon – 20190105edhan-a.tif

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 06:05 PM PST


Oscars’ Music Shortlist: 7 Song and Score Surprises

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 03:18 PM PST

For many years, Oscar “shortlists” narrowed down the choices in a preliminary round that would eventually lead to the five nominees for original song and score. Academy executives discontinued that practice after the 1979 awards, but have brought it back for the 2018 honors.

It was problematic then and it remains so now. Not everyone agrees that the shortlist concept is a good idea, primarily because it forces music-branch members to see and evaluate dozens of films before the first round of voting in early December. Previously, they had until early January to wade through all those “for your consideration” screeners and CDs.

In May, Academy executives insisted that the shortlist “gives smaller or lesser-known films a better chance to be nominated.” Speculation at the time focused on music from films released in the first half of the year, which have often been ignored in favor of end-of-year releases, generally deemed more “important.”

There are 311 active voting members in the music branch — composers, songwriters and music editors — but the evidence suggests that fewer than 100 actually participated in the first-round voting. Academy executives don’t release actual statistics.

Some surprises from the 15-score and 15-song Oscar music shortlists:

The absence of Women composers
Sixteen of the 156 qualified scores were by women. That’s better than 10 percent, probably the highest number in years, yet none were shortlisted at a time when “diversity” is on everyone’s minds. Where were Jocelyn Pook’s “The Wife,” Anna Meredith’s “Eighth Grade,” Germaine Franco’s “Tag” or Miriam Cutler’s “RBG“?

Annie Lennox’s “Private War” Is M.I.A.
Oscar voters inexplicably passed over Lennox’s first new song in eight years, “Requiem From a Private War,” a memorial to slain journalist Marie Colvin as powerfully played by Rosamund Pike in “A Private War.”

Box-Office Dud Makes Good
The score to “Annihilation” was perhaps the biggest surprise of the score shortlist. A sci-fi-horror film starring Natalie Portman, it was only in theaters for eight weeks and earned low marks in moviegoers’ surveys. Yet its mostly atonal combination of synthesizers, acoustic guitar and eerie voices created by Ben Salisbury (of BBC documentaries) and Geoff Barrow (of trip-hop trio Portishead) clearly impressed voters.

Arlissa Over Kesha
“The Hate U Give” and “On the Basis of Sex” are powerful films about needed change in America: the former, a ripped-from-the-headlines story about a white cop who kills an unarmed black youth; the latter, about crusading lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s landmark sex-discrimination case before the Supreme Court. Kesha’s “Here Comes the Change” from “On the Basis of Sex” missed the cut, but British newcomer Arlissa made the list with her “We Won’t Move” from “The Hate U Give.”

Alan Silvestri and James Newton Howard return
Two popular, respected composers, neither of whom has been nominated for years (Silvestri’s last was in 2004; Howard’s in 2008), were recognized for work in very commercial enterprises: Silvestri for the Marvel movie “Avengers: Infinity War” and Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” and Howard for the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts 2,” none of which were heavily promoted by their studios.

Music Movies’ Moving Target
Multiple songs from the same film can be submitted, although only two can be nominated. Disney chose to submit a pair from “Mary Poppins Returns” (“The Place Where Lost Things Go” and “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”), both of which made the shortlist. But Warner Bros., in a tactical move, submitted only “Shallow” and not the other likely Lady Gaga contender, “I’ll Never Love Again.”

British Buzz
“The Death of Stalin,” Armando Iannucci’s political satire, was little seen, but British composer Christopher Willis’ uncanny replication of 1950s-era Soviet classical music has been the talk of the film-composer community for months. At the same time, neither British classical composers Max Richter, who supplied acclaimed scores for both “Mary Queen of Scots” and the German film “Never Look Away,” nor Thomas Ades, who composed his first feature-film score for Keira Knightley in “Colette,” were acknowledged on the score list.

Emma Watson: I feel inspired by the Time’s Up movement

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 03:00 PM PST

Emma Watson feels “inspired” by the achievements of the Time’s Up movement.

The 28-year-old actress has revealed in a new Instagram post that she’s “optimistic” about a “fairer future” for women thanks to the work of the campaign, which was created in light of the Hollywood sex scandal to fight against sexual harassment.

Emma wrote: “Thank you to everyone who has been part of TIME’S UP over the past year. [love heart emoji] From my sisters in the film industry to the activists and campaigners around the world who have supported us, I’ve been so inspired by the way people have reached out to each other, shared experiences and advice, and organised together as part of this movement for change. [Earth emoji] Gender equality can only become a reality if we harness the transformative power of solidarity across professions and across borders. (sic)”

Emma added that although problems and concerns persist, she is optimistic that more progress will be made in the coming months and years.

The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ star said: “There’s still a long way to go, but the achievements so far make me optimistic for a fairer future. 2018 was just the beginning. (sic)”

Emma previously said that she was determined to encourage women to “feel free”.

Speaking about her feminist beliefs and ambitions, the Hollywood star explained: “We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop. Women should feel free.

“There is no typical feminist, there is nothing anywhere that says you have to meet a certain [set of] criteria.”

Kevin Hart posts cryptic message about ‘learning’ amid Oscars talk

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 03:00 PM PST

Kevin Hart has posted a cryptic message about “growth” and “learning” on his Instagram account.

The 39-year-old comedian – who stepped down from hosting the Oscars last month amid criticism of old homophobic tweets – has taken to the photo-sharing website to stress the importance of learning from past experiences.

He wrote: “When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means. Please grasp this and use it in 2019. (sic)”

The ‘Night School’ star also included a screenshot of a few examples to reinforce his point.

It read: “Basketball players aren’t great until they LEARN how to play the game correctly. Teachers are great teachers when they LEARN how to get thru to kids correctly. Architects become great at their job when they LEARN how to build correctly (sic)”

Kevin stepped down as the Oscars host shortly after he was awarded the role.

But the comedian recently confirmed – during a conversation with Ellen DeGeneres on her TV show – that he is still “evaluating” the possibility of hosting the Oscars.

Speaking to Ellen – a former host of the annual awards ceremony – Kevin said: “You have put a lot of things on my mind.

“Leaving here, I’m promising you I’m evaluating this conversation. This is a conversation I needed to have.

“I’m glad that I had it here. And I’m glad that it was as authentic and real as I could have hoped that it would be.

“Let me assess, just to sit in the space and really think and you and I will talk before anything else. That’s my plan.”

Margot Robbie says make-up in Mary Queen of Scots made her ‘safe’

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 03:00 PM PST

Margot Robbie felt “safer” wearing heavy make-up in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’.

The 28-year-old actress plays Queen Elizabeth I in the historical drama film, and Margot has admitted she relished her less-than-glamorous appearance in the film.

She shared: “I feel like I’m more hidden when I’m behind the make-up.”

Margot explained that her striking appearance in the movie also helped her performance, allowing the actress to detach her real-life self from her on-screen character.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper in Australia, Margot shared: “It makes me feel safer in some ways. I actually feel more vulnerable when I’m dressed similarly to myself. It’s also harder to disassociate myself from the character.

“But playing Queen Elizabeth, I didn’t recognise myself, and obviously, I didn’t sound like myself. So the process of becoming her gave me time to stop being myself and made it easier to transform.”

Margot stars in the movie alongside Saoirse Ronan, who plays the part of Mary Stuart.

And Saoirse recently revealed that being asked to lead the movie by director Josie Rourke helped her in both a “personal and professional sense”.

She said: “Making the film was brilliant for me in a personal as well as a professional sense.

“I was being prepared to be thrown out into the world in a way I hadn’t been before. With that comes fear. The fear of having to make decisions that hadn’t really been laid on me before.

“The kind of decisions that weren’t going to make that person over there happy, but one that’s right for me. Honestly playing Mary gave me that strength.

“Ultimately when it came to work, I always knew what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. But it’s very easy to say this is the thing I want to do, and hard to say this isn’t what I want to do.”

Khloe Kardashian: Having another baby would make me feel more complete

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 03:00 PM PST

Khloe Kardashian thinks having another baby would make her feel “even more complete”.

The 34-year-old reality star – who has eight-month-old daughter True with NBA player Tristan Thompson – has admitted she’s undecided about whether she wants to have another child.

Asked about the possibility of having a second baby, Khloe wrote on Twitter: “Goodness I don’t know! I love [True] so much and I’m so complete because of her! (sic)”

Although Khloe confessed that having another child might make her feel “more complete”, she remains uncertain.

She said: “I could only imagine another one would make me feel even more complete but I just don’t know. I guess only time will tell and whatever God wants for me. (sic)”

Earlier this month, an insider claimed that Kim Kardashian West’s baby news is “heavily influencing” her sisters’ baby plans.

The brunette beauty is reportedly expecting her fourth child, and second via surrogate, with husband Kanye West.

And after three of the famous sisters – Kim, Khloe and Kylie Jenner – all welcomed children in early 2018, the siblings are said to be considering joining Kim in having another tot.

A source said: “Kim having another baby this year is heavily influencing her other sisters and their baby plans. They all loved being pregnant at the same time and everyone wants all of the kids to be close in age. Everyone jokes about having another round of ‘triplets’ all the time.”

Kim – who has kids North, five, Saint, three, and 11-month-old Chicago – previously claimed that having children has helped her to feel “more connected” with her own sisters.

She said: “I definitely feel like we are more connected now, especially that Khloe’s back and we’re hanging out with all the babies. All the kids want to hang out. It’s just a whole different experience now. It’s so much fun.”

Whole Foods is pivoting to employee happiness

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 02:19 PM PST

Late December is a time for New Year’s resolutions, and Whole Foods Market has a big one: Be nicer to workers.

Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a video to employees last month that he would work to address employee concerns, improve communication, and strengthen career-development opportunities in 2019, as the grocery chain enters its second year under Amazon ownership, the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall).

“At the beginning of the second year of this merger, we are going to pivot back to team member growth and happiness,” Mackey said, according to the Journal.

Whole Foods is key to Amazon’s transition from a giant of online sales to a company that dominates both online and offline shopping. Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in July 2017, gaining a bougie grocery brand and a chain of more than 400 physical stores.

In October 2017, Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky identified “a lot of opportunity” for Amazon to work with Whole Foods. Since then, many of the plans-for instance, adding Amazon lockers for customers to receive and return online orders, and building out Amazon’s on-demand Prime Now service-have come to fruition.

But the transition hasn’t always gone smoothly for workers at Whole Foods. In early 2018, Business Insider reported that Whole Foods employees were being graded with new scorecards and on-the-spot quizzes that had many terrified of losing their jobs. Supermarket News reported that a new system for managing grocery inventory was leading to empty shelves in stores.

Disillusioned by Amazon’s leadership, Whole Foods employees moved to unionize earlier this year. Organizers called for a $15 minimum wage and better health care, and expressed concern about future layoffs as Amazon automated grocery stores.

Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all US employees in October, but that didn’t reassure workers at Whole Foods, whose employer spent 20 years on Fortune’s list of best places to work until it was purchased by Amazon.

Maybe in 2019 Mackey will turn it all around.

This article was originally published in Quartz.

Start your New Year right with these simple rituals

Posted: 05 Jan 2019 02:18 PM PST

Many people spend New Year’s Eve surrounded by lots of people, drinking and cheering and anxiously anticipating the stroke of midnight. That’s alright, but it’s not the only way to spend this night, which feels meaningful because it promises a fresh start yet often ends up leaving us drained, with an incurable hangover-and barely able to muster the resolve to make it to brunch, let alone ready to implement ambitious resolutions.

Another option is to do it your way, making this a night of preparation and contemplation. While it may not seem glamorous to pass your evening on chores while friends are popping bubbly and doing shots, chances are good that you’ll feel fantastic afterward, refreshed and ready for the year ahead. The revelers will already be nursing new regrets.

Perform these rites to start the year right:

Make space

Lighten your material load to create space for the great new things the new year will bring you. The more you love stuff, the more likely it is you’ve got too much. Take it from Marie Kondo, a woman with a mania for organization who sold the world on the life-changing magic of tidying up, clearing up space makes for a home that “sparks joy.”

By decluttering, you’ll feel less burdened by your goods, and can do some good. Get rid of the books you have read, the clothes you no longer wear, the gadgets and tchotchkes you don’t use and figure out where to donate them. Books can go to a local little free library, clothes and home items to a Goodwill drop-off or thrift shop. Junk can just be trashed.

Clean house

Pour some wine if you like, play music, and start scrubbing-tackle the pile of junk on your desk, wash the dishes, sweep the floor, take out the garbage, bleach, polish, do the laundry, and change your sheets. Cleaning your house for the new year is a perfect way to start 2019.

It’s both a practical and contemplative practice. In the words of the Japanese Zen Buddhist monk Shoukei Matsumoto, “We sweep dust to remove our worldly desires. We scrub dirt to free ourselves of attachments.”

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious and witchy, consider moving some of your furniture around and burning sage, an ancient spiritual ritual and medicinal practice that dates back to ancient Egypt for cleansing a space.

This way, your place will look, smell, and feel healthy and fresh.

Water rites

Now it’s time to relax. Take a home vacation that doubles as a meditation. Draw a bath or get in the shower, delighting in your sparkly clean space, the clean clothes that await you, and the sensation of being in the water.

“The shower is a proxy for the…ocean,” according to marine biologist and author of the 2014 book Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols. “You step in the shower, and you remove a lot of the visual stimulation of your day…it’s a steady stream of ‘blue noise.’ You’re not hearing voices or processing ideas. You step into the shower and it’s like a mini-vacation.”

Therapy session

Grab a pen and paper and start scribbling. Think about the year that has just passed, the highs and lows, the surprises, what you didn’t know or couldn’t have anticipated, and what you wish you’d done differently. This isn’t a work of literature. It’s a stream of consciousness so don’t worry about formulating great sentences or sticking to a chronology. Just let your thoughts flow freely for about 30 minutes as a kind of meditation. Write about what you’d like to improve in the next year, what you fear and loathe, where you want to go and hope will happen, who you’d like to be, what you want to see, how you’d like to treat other people and yourself.

The act of writing, particularly by hand, frees up your mind, helps you process emotions, and turns abstract thoughts into concrete words. It’s therapeutic.

Letting it go

You and your space are totally clean, you’ve scribbled your thoughts and are ready to release them. Now, you can step out for New Year’s Eve and perform the final rite while getting some gentle exercise. Before you go, grab some matches or a lighter and the pages you wrote.

Whatever the weather, go for a contemplative stroll. Gaze at the stars, talk to the moon, wonder about what the year ahead will bring, formulate your resolutions or a life thesis, or empty your mind altogether. The physical activity will lift your mood and start your year off on the right foot, literally.

When you get to a safe and quiet space, set your cone of pages aflame. Watch as the words turn to ash and make sure to stamp out any burning embers (starting the year with an arson charge would suck).

Breathe deep, look up at the sky, and feel free.

Burning the pages liberates your thoughts, releases your hopes, dreams, and regrets, and is a potent symbol of detachment. It’s a reminder that everything is fleeting and that next year will disappear just like this last one.

So it’s worth making the most of these moments.

This article was originally published in Quartz.