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H&M Apologizes For Ad Showing Black Child Model Wearing ‘Monkey’ Hoodie

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H&M sign hangs in a window in Chicago, Illinois.  (Tim Boyle/Getty Images).

Retail giant H&M has been forced to apologize after it used a black child to model a hoodie with the slogan “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”

“We sincerely apologize for this image. It has been now removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States,” H&M said in an email statement to Fortune.

A major “Marketing Faux Pas” that should have never passed the litmus test for “insensitivity” H&M now faces the backlash from promoting a product that culminated into a “marketing disaster” for the retail giant.

In the case of H&M—emails and tweets calling out the retail giant for the language on the hoodie created a stir on social media.  Based on the comments on the H&M website and Twitter comments—users branded the advertising as “unacceptable” and “racist.”

The barrage of complaints visible on the retail website and social media prompted H&M to remove the image promoting the hoodie from its online collection and replace it with a photo of the jumper.

New York Times Columnist and Author Charles M. Blow tweeted the retail chain asking, “Have you lost your damn minds?”

Another user wrote: “This is racist and insensitive. This beautiful boy doesn’t even know what H&M is making out of him. A whole team shooting and no one saw what’s wrong with this.”

“What universe do you live in that makes it okay to flaunt your racist ways in such an epic portion,” one user called Alexandra Foucard, wrote on Twitter, calling for other users to boycott the store. “I demand you remove this ad. This child is precious and should be treated as such!”

The controversy about the hoodie comes only a few months after the retail chain removed a hoodie bearing the words “Dogfight in Random Alley.” from its stores, after animal rights organization PETA complained that it sent a “dangerous” message.

The issue that PETA argued was that dogfighting is an illegal blood “sport” in which two dogs are pitted against each other and forced to rip each other to shreds as a form of entertainment.

As in most instances when controversy or opinions differ, some people were not offended about the visual—adding that H&M didn’t intend to offend with the image, but that the retail chain “should have realized” the language on the hoodie could perhaps create concern—suggesting it showed the lack of non-white executives.

“I totally understand the racist connotations around the word ‘monkey’ but, seriously, I don’t *think* that was their intention at all,” wrote one Twitter user.  “However, in this day and age, surely someone at H&M should’ve realized this may offend someone, somewhere?”

Another person wrote: “This is why companies need more non-white diverse executives to avoid these online disasters and accusations of ‘racist’ advertising.”

A spokesperson for H&M said the image had been removed, adding: “We apologize to anyone this may have offended.”

@LeNoraMillen        01-08-18

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Politics

Government Shutdown: What’s Closed, Who is Affected?

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 What happens if the government shuts down
Federal agencies braced for a government shutdown as Congress negotiated on reaching a short-term spending deal before a funding deadline at midnight on Friday.

Government shutdowns are rare, especially when one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. The last shutdown was in 2013 and lasted 17 days.

If a shutdown happens, many major federal responsibilities, like sending Social Security checks and operating the military, would continue. Each federal agency has a shutdown plan, written in consultation with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the administration would have some wiggle room in what it does.

In general, government operations and employees deemed “essential,” like those in the military and law enforcement, would continue to report to work. It’s a label that applies to more than half of the 2.1 million or so non-postal federal employees.

Those workers would still get paid, but not until after the shutdown ends.

During the 2013 shutdown, 850,000 individuals were furloughed per day, according to the OMB.

Employees in “non-essential” government functions, meanwhile, would stay home and actually be prohibited from showing up. Congress acted to pay those employees after previous shutdowns, but pay is not guaranteed.

Some government programs, such as Social Security payments, are not subject to the appropriations process. Those would continue, though some functions, like processing new Social Security applications, would shut down.

In 2013, federal permitting and environmental reviews were put on hold, along with the processing of import and export license applications and federal loans for small business, families and rural communities. According to the OMB, the shutdown also delayed almost $4 billion in tax refunds.

Here’s how some federal agencies plan to whether a shutdown:

Health and Human Services 

HHS would have to put about half of its 82,000 staff on furlough.

Larger programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and disability insurance would be largely unaffected by a government shutdown, and current beneficiaries would continue to receive their benefits.

But processing new applications for these programs could slow because there would be fewer employees around to do them.

The FDA would have to cancel the majority of its food safety, nutrition and cosmetics activities, including routine food safety inspections. The CDC, meanwhile, would be unable to support its annual seasonal flu program during one of the most severe flu outbreaks in recent history and could stop tracking disease outbreaks.

The National Institutes of Health would continue patient care for current cancer patients but would not admit new patients or accept new grant proposals.

National Park Service

The national parks became a lightning rod in the 2013 government shutdown. Parks around the country were closed, and many, including some areas of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that are managed by the Park Service, were barricaded.

The Trump administration may be able to avoid that scenario. The Washington Post reported that administration officials are exploring ways to keep parks open and let visitors come in.

“In the event of a shutdown, national parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures,” Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.

“Visitors who come to our nation’s capital will find war memorials and open-air parks open to the public. Nationally, many of our national parks, refuges and other public lands will still allow limited access wherever possible.”

Other Interior Department activities would have to shut down. The Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, for example, would not process oil-drilling permits.

Department of Defense

At the Pentagon, military personnel should expect to show up to work during a shutdown, but not expect any pay for the duration.

“No one gets paid. The civilians who report to duty do not get paid. The military who are in theater do not get paid. They earn the rights to the payment, but the payment cannot be made until the shutdown is over,” Defense Department Comptroller David Norquist told reporters last month.

Speaking at the Pentagon on Dec. 7, then ahead of a possible shutdown, Norquist said civilians should also expect to show up for work if their job falls under “excepted activities,” positions related to the protection of life and property.

The fiscal halt also extends to the death benefits received by families of military members killed in the line of duty. Weapons system maintenance and readiness training, meanwhile, would also come to a stop unless it is deemed an “excepted activity.”

State Department

Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Thursday that officials were developing contingency plans, while Secretary Rex Tillerson‘s office was reviewing the agency’s options.

“We will be prepared for all contingencies, I want to make that clear, including the possibility of a lapse,” Nauert said at a press briefing, noting that Tillerson would ultimately have discretion over how the department deals with a shutdown.

Most Americans only come in contact with the State Department when trying to obtain or renew passports. In 2013, however, passport offices, which are funded by fee revenue, remained open.

Internal Revenue Service

A large percentage of the IRS’s workforce is expected to stop working during a shutdown, though the upcoming filing season may mean that more employees are still working than otherwise would be the case.

The IRS’s document for non-filing season shutdowns states that only about 13 percent of employees would continue working. While the 2018 filing season officially opens on Jan. 29, the document describes the filing season period as Jan. 1 through April 30.

The document notes that “historically, more exempted employees are required during the filing season to ensure activities related to executing the filing season are worked.”

IRS activities that continue during the filing season include testing of filing-season programs, processing of paper tax returns and design and printing of tax year forms.

Financial regulation

A government shutdown would halt most of the federal government’s oversight of financial trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would both be forced to furlough thousands of workers responsible for monitoring financial markets. Only SEC and CFTC staffers involved in law enforcement activities or protecting “life or property” would continue working.

All other regulatory and supervisory function of the Wall Street watchdog would pause until Congress funds the government again.

Other financial sector regulators won’t be affected by a shutdown. The Federal Reserve system, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are all independently funded and would continue their oversight of the banking system. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Credit Union Administration are also independently funded and would stay open during the crisis.

Federal Communications Commission

Like other agencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates telecommunications providers like AT&T and Verizon as well as broadcasters, would roll back its staff to essential employees only, furloughing the vast majority of its 1,492 employees.

The agency says it expects to retain roughly 37 employees during the shutdown to cover essential matters like critical IT issues, protect property and handle emergency communications and functions related to national security.

The FCC would keep an additional 185 employees whose pay does not come from congressional appropriations to keep the agency’s spectrum auction activities up and running.

The agency’s chairman and four commissioners would also continue to work through the shutdown.

In the interim, the agency would cease some operations, including issuing new broadcast licenses and processing equipment certifications for new electronic devices.

Courts

The Supreme Court would not only remain open to visitors but carry on with business as usual in the event of a shutdown.

“In the event of a lapse of appropriations, the Court will continue to conduct its normal operations, and the Court building will be open to the public during its usual hours,” Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer, said in a statement to The Hill.

“The Court will rely on non-appropriated funds, as it has in the past, to maintain operations through the duration of short-term lapses of appropriations.”

Federal district, appeals and bankruptcy courts across the country will also remain open, relying on court fees and appropriations that aren’t tied to a specific year.

“The judiciary is able to sustain paid operations through court fees and no-year appropriations for approximately three weeks, or through Feb. 9,” Charles Hall, a spokesman in the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said in an email.

Department of Justice

If there is a government shutdown, the 114,647 employees at the Justice Department as of Sept. 8 would drop to 95,102 for the first five calendar days. The rest of the workers would be furloughed, according to the agency’s latest contingency plan.

Because the Justice Department is comprised of about 40 components tasked with a broad array of national security, law enforcement and criminal justice system responsibilities, the agency said that it has a high percentage of activities and employees that can continue working during a lapse in appropriations.

Capitol Hill

The Capitol would become a ghost town during a shutdown, offering a regular reminder to lawmakers of the consequences.

Fewer Capitol police officers would report for duty, while those working would do so without pay. Only “essential” staff would be required to work, making it harder for offices to handle the sudden flood of constituent phone calls.

Most committee activity would be suspended, as would Capitol tours.

Depending on the length of the shutdown, senators would be forced to walk past a frozen clock in a hallway outside the chamber — the staff responsible for winding it would be furloughed, too. In 2013, the clock’s hands were stuck at 12:14 for days until the government reopened.

Mueller investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election would continue since its funding does not come from annual appropriations.

Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian museums along the National Mall and the National Zoo will remain open through the weekend, the institution said Thursday.

But if the shutdown extends to Monday, all of its public facilities, including the popular web cameras that broadcast animals at the zoo, would have to close. Many of the behind-the-scenes operations, such as feeding animals, have been deemed essential and would continue.

Transportation Security Administration

The Transportation Security Administration will continue operations in the event of a government closure, according to one official, with security functions and air marshals still in place.

Federal Aviation Administration

The government shutdown is not expected to delay flights or have an impact on the airline industry. Air traffic control, which is run by the Federal Aviation Administration, would still operate, while most of the agency’s aviation safety inspectors would keep working.

Photo/Getty Images

Source:  The Hill

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Lifestyle

Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop

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The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  • Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  • Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
  • Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  • Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

Photo: Getty Images

Source: Discount Tire

 

@LeNoraMillen        01-19-18

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Health Care

Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud

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Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.

A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.

That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.

New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)

The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.

People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.

Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:

Do

  • Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
  • When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
  • Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
  • Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
  • Report suspected instances of fraud.
  • Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.

Don’t

  • Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
  • Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
  • Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.

Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.

With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.

 

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

@LeNoraMillen       01-19-18

 

 

 

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