Wooden plate restaurant fined 50,000

Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption Ibrahim’s Grill and Steak House admitted failing to comply with a hygiene improvement notice

A restaurant has been fined £50,000 by magistrates for serving food on wooden boards.

Birmingham City Council says the wooden plates, used by Ibrahim’s Grill and Steak House in Acocks Green, pose a risk of food poisoning.

Inspectors visited the restaurant in October 2016 and had a number of concerns about cleanliness.

And though improvements were made, on a return visit two months later, they found the boards were still in use.

At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, the restaurant admitted that by continuing to use the wooden plates it had failed to comply with a hygiene improvement notice.

Inspectors were first called to the restaurant on Warwick Road after an alleged food poisoning outbreak that affected a party of 14.

The council said inspectors found a number of issues of concern, including a reliance on the use of disposable gloves rather than hand washing.

Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption The restaurant was first visited by the council in October 2016 and on a return visit in December of that year, inspectors found the wooden plates were still in use

It also said the cleaning of the premises was poor and sanitising chemicals were not being used in line with manufacturer instructions.

The council says the boards used to serve the food were “incapable” of being cleaned.

As well as the fine, the restaurant must pay £670 costs and £120 victim surcharge.

Mark Croxford, head of environmental health at the council, said “It is completely unacceptable for businesses to put the health of people eating at their restaurants at risk.”

When contacted by the BBC, the restaurant said it did not wish to comment at this stage.

Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption In its charge against the restaurant, Birmingham City Council said the “damaged” boards could not be cleaned

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-42582900

Trump mounts extraordinary defence of his ‘mental stability’

President boasts of being a very stable genius and calls Michael Wolff a fraud but author says his explosive book will finally end this presidency

In an extraordinary public defence of his own mental stability, Donald Trump issued a volley of tweets that seemed guaranteed to add fuel to a raging political fire.

Suggestions in a new tell-all book that he was mentally unfit to be president were out of the old Ronald Reagan playbook, Trump wrote on Saturday.

Actually, the president added, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.

He also said he would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!

The book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, burst into the public consciousness on Wednesday, when the Guardian reported excerpts nearly a week ahead of publication. Trump threatened to sue but succeeded only in prompting the publisher Henry Holt to bring the book forward.

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Fire and Fury: Key explosive quotes from the new Trump book – video

Wolff presents a picture of a doomed administration lurching from crisis to crisis, steered by a childlike figure who responds to overstimulation with intense, reflexive outbursts.

The president may not be able to restrain himself from commenting but I can restrain myself from commenting on his comments, Wolff told the Guardian on Saturday.

At a lunchtime press conference at Camp David, the president was asked why he tweeted. In a characteristically freewheeling answer, he said: Only because I went to the best colleges or college. I went to I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people.

Went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success as you probably have heard. Ran for president one time and won.

In fact, in 1999 Trump mounted a first run for the White House when he sought the nomination of the Reform party.

The president continued, referring to Wolff: And then I hear this guy that does not know me doesnt know me at all by the way did not interview me for three he said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House it didnt exist, OK? Its in his imagination.

Trump called Wolff a fraud and his book a work of fiction and complained about US libel laws, which he has threatened to change.

The White House chief of staff, John Kelly, told a White House pool reporter the president tweeted to get around the filter of the media. Trump had not at all seemed angry on Friday night or Saturday, Kelly said, adding that the president had watched the Hugh Jackman movie The Greatest Showman about the hoaxer and politician PT Barnum with lawmakers and others.

Before Trumps tweets, Wolff spoke to the BBC. He said: I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor has no clothes effect.

Suddenly everywhere people are going: Oh my God, its true, he has no clothes. Thats the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end this presidency.

The 25th amendment of the US constitution provides for the removal of a president if a majority of the cabinet and the vice-president agree. In Wolffs book, the then White House strategist Steve Bannon refers to Vice-President Mike Pence as our fallback guy. Pence stood to Trumps right at Camp David, his gaze rarely leaving the president.

Bandy Lee, an assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, briefed a dozen members of Congress last month on Trumps behaviour. At the end of a week that began with Trump taunting North Korea over the size of his nuclear button, Lee told the Guardian the danger has become imminent.

Fifty-seven House Democrats have signed on to a bill to establish an oversight commission to determine if a president is mentally and physically fit.

We need this legislation quite apart from the Trump administration, Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland and the author of the bill, told the Guardian.

The 25th amendment was framed during the nuclear age the nuclear arsenal being a vast destructive power that is vested, as the president reminded us this week, in one person who views himself as having the power to press a button. We certainly dont want someone in that position who lacks the power of empathy.

The rising tide of questions around the presidents mental health reflects a lot of anxiety unleashed by the presidents nuclear taunts lodged at North Korea.

A queue for Fire and Fury at Kramerbooks, in Washington. Photograph: Guardian

The White House has forcefully criticised Wolff, who has said he stands by his work, which included more than 200 interviews and extensive access to the West Wing and key administration figures.

At Camp David, Trump referred to Bannon derisively as Sloppy Steve. The former Trump campaign chief has avoided extensive comment, though in the aftermath of the Guardian story he called Trump a great man.

Trumps reference to the Ronald Reagan playbook was a curious one. Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimers, a degenerative brain disease, in 1994, five years after leaving office.

The extent to which he suffered during his time in the White House remains a matter of contention. Reagan, like Trump in his 70s when in office, long faced questions over his mental state. Opponents pointed to his habit of forgetting names and making contradictory statements.

In the Hollywood Reporter this week, Wolff wrote of Trump: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes hed repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions he just couldnt stop saying something.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has said Trump will undergo his annual physical examination on Friday 12 January. The results are due to be made public.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/06/donald-trump-tweets-mental-stability-fire-and-fury-michael-wolff

Man Stuns Fiance With Backyard Proposal2 Hours Later, He Drops This Bombshell

From landing your dream venue to scouring Pinterest for that table centerpiece in the perfect shade of peony-pink to match the bridesmaid dresses—wedding planning can be downright STRESSFUL.

While marrying the love of your life may be a dream come true, the act of throwing the $30,000+ production to seal the deal can often be nothing short of a nightmare. I mean, the show ‘Bridezilla’ wasn’t popularized because orchestrating the big day is piece of cake.

Well, one New York man was all too familiar with the anxiety associated with such an ordeal, and he didn’t want that to exacerbate the health condition of his beautiful bride-to-be.

Nicole Rios, his then-girlfriend, suffers from lupus, a disease that can be easily aggravated by stress.

“I know it’s a battle with her illness already and when anything comes up she gets stressed out about it,” Danny told ABC News.

So this sweet man decided he would take the pressure off her hands by single-handedly planning a surprise engagement-and-wedding extravaganza in a matter of five months… Oh, and did I mention that he pulled them off back-to-back within TWO HOURS??

Yeah, this groom’s already in the running for ‘Husband of the Year’ for sure.

“I give women so much credit for all the planning they do for weddings,” said Danny, admitting “I kind of turned into a ‘bridezilla’ during it.”

He came up with the brilliant idea in August after returning from a trip to their hometown of Smithtown, New York.

He sent out all the invites to family and friends, booked the caterer, picked out engagement rings and wedding bands, and even recruited Nicole’s mother to help pick out the perfect wedding dress. Danny bought the dress in two different sizes and had them tailored to fit her mom, since they are the same height. I mean, needless to say, this guy was knee-deep in the DETAILS.

“I wrote down what had to be done and I said, ‘I don’t care what anyone says, what’s on this paper is what has to be done. It’s gold,’” said the wedding-planning wizard of a groom.

Danny decided to hold the event in their backyard, which he knew Nicole would love per their previous conversations about it.

“Nicole kept on saying how she wanted to have people over for an engagement party and then surprise them with a wedding, so I knew she was OK with a wedding in the backyard,” he said.

And boy, did he pull it OFF.

On December 8th, Nicole thought she was coming home from the airport to a surprise birthday party when she saw her backyard strewn with lights and fancy decorations.

“I didn’t think we’d even be getting engaged for at least a year,” she remarked. “I was ready to get in my pajamas … I didn’t think this was going to happen.”

But just a moment later, Danny bent down on one knee and proposed to the love of his life in front of their closest family and friends who jetted in from across the nation for the special day.

The look on Nicole’s face says it all…

But of course, that wasn’t the end of this once-in-a-lifetime surprise.

Danny took his fiancée inside for a quiet moment alone, where he revealed the next trick up his sleeve.

“Danny said, ‘You know how much I love you and if you want we can do this tonight. All of our closest friends and family are here,’” recalled Nicole. “He told me to turn around and a dress and tux were hanging there.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, she agreed–and just two hours after getting engaged, Danny and Nicole became husband and wife in a ceremony officiated by Danny’s father.

“It was exactly what I would have wanted,” said the beaming bride. “I really couldn’t have imagined a more perfect way to marry him.”

After their swoon-worthy story gained viral attention, the Rios say they hope it will generate lupus awareness as well.

“We want anyone who has it to know that if you have lupus, it’s a crummy disease but you can still find happiness,” said Danny. “It’s out there. Don’t stop looking.”

Wishing this beautiful couple a healthy, happy marriage, and a ‘forever’ full of the same joy that their magical wedding brought to so many.

Read more: https://faithit.com/new-york-couple-engagement-wedding-same-day-lupus/

Apparently Penis Whitening Is Now a Thing

The Lelux Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, is currently offering a skin whitening treatment in a less than conventional place. The thought of it might make you wince but penis whitening turns out to be surprisingly popular in Southeast Asia with clients apparently traveling from as far as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Hong Kong. According to Bunthita Wattanasiri, who manages the skin and laser department at the hospital, the clinic sees roughly 100 men for the procedure every month.

“These days a lot of people are asking about it,” Wattanasiri told the AFP. “We have to be careful because it’s a sensitive part of the body.”

Unsurprisingly, news of the treatment caused quite a furor when the clinic posted a picture of a client undergoing a laser procedure on its Facebook page. It reached viral status on Thai TV and social media.  

The Thai health ministry has responded, telling people tempted to try the treatment for themselves that penis whitening is really not a very good idea. Aside from the side effects that include pain, inflammation, and scarring, patients who stop treatment will see their penis return to its usual shade and could end up with some “nasty looking spots”, the ministry has warned, reports the BBC. It could also harm your reproductive system and negatively affect your sex life.

But it turns out this service isn’t just for men. The Lelux Hospital’s marketing manager Popol Tansakul told the BBC they began offering vagina whitening services four months ago.

“Patients started to ask about penis whitening, and so we started the treatment a month later,” said Tansakul.

The procedure has caught on among men aged 22 to 55 years old and members of the LGBT community, Wattanasiri told the AFP. Patients can get five sessions for $650 (£450).

While skin whitening (or bleaching) has provoked a huge amount of outrage and criticism concerning the health implications, not to mention the racial connotations, of lightening your skin, it remains popular in several Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand. According to the BBC, over half of all clients visiting Lelux Hospital come in for skin whitening treatments. This is because darker skin is associated with outdoor labor and the working class, whereas fairer skin is thought to imply wealth and beauty. 

Fortunately, with this story being an exception, the tides may be turning on this dangerous beauty trend.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/apparently-penis-whitening-is-now-a-thing-in-thailand/

Trumps War on the Press Follows the Mussolini and Hitler Playbook

Beneath the madness and the lies of The Year of Trump there remains a constant drumbeat, unyielding and determined. It broke cover on Jan. 22, 2017 when Kellyanne Conway introduced the term alternative facts.

The abasement of language by Donald Trump and his assorted flacks began long before, but this concept was so naked, so novel and so unblinkingly forthright that it established the rules for the assault to come, just as the first salvo of an artillery barrage signals the creation of a new battlefield where there will be many casualties.

And lets face it, the English language has taken a real pounding since then. Lies have poured forth from the White House at an astonishing rate: The Washington Post estimated that in Trumps first 355 days he made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims, averaging five a day.

Trump has spent two years vilifying the dishonest media (including The Daily Beast), even invoking the Nazi chant of enemies of the people. Aided by the alt right zealots at Breitbart, he has successfully persuaded millions of Americans that The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC are seditious forces bent on denigrating and destroying the man they elected.

It is dismaying that it was so easy for him to do this, dismaying that independent journalism of quality is so easily discredited and dismaying that none of this seems to trouble the Republican Party.

And lets be clear: The protection of independent journalism isnt something that a lot of politiciansor a good number of the populationreally care about. Yet, in the end, it has really been a strong year for journalism. In particular, two papers, The New York Times and Washington Post, have re-established themselves as bulwarks against abuses of power, as they were at the time of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.

Why have these two newspapers in particular once more demonstrated the best of American journalism? Its partly luck. The Post was basically saved by Jeff Bezos whose deep pockets have restored the resources of the newsroom. Under the editorship of Marty Baron they were positioned to seize the Trump moment and rediscovered the art of investigative reporting. Similarly the Times passed through a period in which it struggled to find a new business model for the digital age and eventually found it, enabling its Washington newsroom to become competitive again.

This underlines the fragile dependency of journalism on enlightened patronageon who owns a newspaper and particularly who owns the two papers that are regarded as national in prestige and potency together with the editorial independence and authority that that position requires. For all its fine reporting over the last year The Wall Street Journal does not have that kind of reputational backbone because it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, blatantly a Trump stooge.

But the battle is not yet won, and will not be without eternal vigilance. To realize the gravity of where we are now we need more context than is provided by recent history, we need to look at the history of Italy in the 1920s and Germany in the 1930s. In both nations tyrants arose who on the way to seizing power found it remarkably easy to denigrate and destroy independent journalism.

In Italy, Benito Mussolini came to power in October 1922. At the age of 39 he was the youngest ever prime minister, charismatic and full of energy. He was also careful to move slowly as, almost by stealth, he built a new illiberal state. In a country that for years had lacked unity he proposed a new focus for nationalism: himself. He was Italy. He described a parliament made impotent by its own factionalism a gathering of old fossils. Parliaments powers and the rights of a free press were stripped away.

The people, Mussolini said in July 1924, on the innumerable occasions when I have spoken with them close at hand have never asked me to free them from a tyranny which they do not feel because it does not exist. They have asked me for railways, houses, drains, bridges, water, light and roads. In that year the fascists won more than 65 percent of the vote in national elections.

Mussolinis absolute hold on power was made clear on Jan. 3, 1925, when he said: I and I alone assume the political, moral and historic responsibility for everything that has happened. Italy wants peace and quiet, work and calm. I will give these things with love if possible and with force if necessary.

As the editor, successively, of two newspapers in Milan and with a talent for populist polemic Mussolini had skillfully used the press for his own ends. Now he made sure nobody else would follow his example. Within a few years most of Italys newspapers were suppressed or put under party control. Some smaller newspapers claiming to be independent were still tolerated to give the appearance of freedom of opinion but they were a fig leaf to cover the end of press freedom. Without any effective challenge Mussolinis megalomania flourished. The crowds who gathered for his speeches cried Duce, Duce, Duce! We are yours to the end.

None of the ministers, officials and party secretaries around him were safe from his caprice. He was always right and anyone who contradicted him was fired. Mussolini was, simultaneously, prime minister, foreign minister, minister of the interior, commander in chief of the militia, and minister for the whole military, army, navy, and air force.

Some smaller newspapers claiming to be independent were still tolerated to give the appearance of freedom of opinion but they were a fig leaf to cover the end of press freedom.

These flagrant excesses of the founder of European fascism were later to seem buffoonish against the cold-blooded terror machine that Adolf Hitler built, just as rapidly, in Germany. But there was nothing comical about the 1920s for Italians: they had succumbed very readily to a maniac, and a maniac who understood that the state should control all propaganda (which is, after all, an Italian word) down to details such as decreeing that the national tennis team should wear black shirts.

In Germany the man who would go down in history as the evil genius of alternative facts, Joseph Goebbels, was appointed Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda on March 14, 1933little more than a month after Hitler came to power in Berlin.

Goebbels said he wanted a ministry that was National Socialist [Nazi] by birth.

To staff it he was smart enough to tap into one of the most corrosive influences on the national mood at the time: a grudge, widely held, that Germanys descent into economic chaos had left many of the countrys best educated young people out of well-paid government jobs. From this group Goebbels recruited party zealots who were notably younger and smarter than other Nazi officialshe specified that he wanted those who displayed ardor, enthusiasm, untarnished idealism. (Watching the instant classic encounter between CNNs Jake Tapper and Trumps senior adviser for policy, Stephen Miller, suggests that Miller would have been a perfect recruit.)

Goebbels priority was to exert immediate control of the pressthe press, he instructed his staff, had to be a piano, so to speak, in the hands of the government. Germanys newspapers had been messengers of decay that were harmful to the beliefs, customs and national pride of good Germans.

Within a year all of Goebbels goals were achieved. Three previously independent news services were merged into one state-directed national news agency, the German News Service. All journalism was subjected to the policy of Gleichschaltungmeaning that they had to toe the party line on all issues.

A piano, so to speak, in the hands of the government.
Joseph Gobbels on the press

Previously newspaper publishers had been the legal entity responsible for everything that was published. Goebbels issued the Editor Statute that made editors equally accountable and any editor who resisted Gleichschaltung could be removed and, if particularly recalcitrant, would be sent to a concentration camp.

However, as had Mussolini, Goebbels recognized that the German press should be left with a fig leaf of apparent independence. One great liberal newspaper that happened to have an international following, the Frankfurter Zeitung, was allowed to remain publishing until 1943. Its editors grew expert at a kind of coded reporting with a semblance of neutrality that allowed experienced readers to sense what was really going on.

Two new and growingly important news outlets, radio and cinema newsreels, were put totally under Goebbels control: We make no bones about it, he said, the radio belongs to us, to no one else! And we will place the radio at the service of our idea, and no other idea shall be expressed through it.

The collapse of media independence was rapid and complete. But, as with all historical comparisons, this one can be pushed either too far or too little. Plainly America in 2018 is not the Europe of the 1930s and liberal paranoia in itself is not a sound basis for assessing just how dangerous an assault on journalism may turn out to be.

In 1933 Hitler was at the threshold of creating the instruments of a terror state. We are nowhere near that point. But what is striking now is how friendless the press was. Nobody fought the Goebbels takeover. Mussolini had identified and seized the same opportunity, finding it easy to issue edicts that closed down critical newspapers on the grounds of sedition.

This might seem astonishing in a country like Germany that had one of Europes most deeply rooted intelligentsias. But the universities were quiescent, the bourgeoisie, the aristocracy and the barons of industry were all tired of the Weimar Republics violent polarization between the fascists and the communists and for them press freedom was secondary to personal interests like jobs and, for the industrialists, to the fortunes to be made from re-armament.

Of course Trump has little if any grasp of European history and probably only the vaguest idea of who Goebbels was but his use of tweets reflects one of Goebbels basic tenets about propaganda: Berlin needs sensations as a fish needs water. Any political propaganda that fails to recognize that will miss its target.

So it happens that when it comes to news management Trump has pulled off something that Goebbels would applaud. He has made himself the Great Dictator of the news cycle. To do this he didnt need to knowingly emulate anyone in the propaganda arts because he is directed by his two dominant personal traits: narcissism and paranoia.

Almost every event is refracted through his own response to it, its media lifespan no longer than can be held in his own gnat-like attention span. His tweets are so bizarre, unhinged and frequent that they effectively confuse and distract much of the competing daily coverage. What seems aberrant at 6 p.m. suddenly seems the new normal by 7 p.m. (As Ron Rosenbaum powerfully demonstrates writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, getting people to readily accept the aberrant as normal was one of Hitlers most effective early tactics.)

He has made himself the Great Dictator of the news cycle. To do this he didnt need to knowingly emulate anyone in the propaganda arts because he is directed by his two dominant personal traits: narcissism and paranoia.

And when Trump faces a news narrative that he cant derail, like the Mueller investigation, he sees it as a violation of his own powers, as he imagines them to be rather than as they really exist under the constitution.

Mussolini, very early in his rule, did the same thing, equating himself with the nation and regarding any insult to him as an insult to Italy. In Trumps mind it his base that exclusively represents the nationa belief constantly reinforced by Fox News for whom that base is a ratings gold mine. Trump and his lackeys on Fox have succeeded in equating respect for the kind of truth-telling that is built on learning and the ability to marshal facts with a simple demographic: its the exclusive province of metropolitan elites.

This tactic is based, at least in part, on a condition described by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist. He calls it cognitive ease in which humans tend to avoid facts that are uncomfortable or require work to understand.

Goebbels understood that the reinforcement of prejudice was an intoxicating weapon of propaganda. Fed the right message, aggrieved and resentful minorities could be made to coalesce into a critical mass of activists. The Trump base has been built on this principle, and feels grateful to be led by such a man with whom they readily identify, even though his real interests (personal enrichment) are the opposite of theirs.

But perhaps the weirdest side of Trumps perception of his role and office is that in his mind his fate and that of the mainstream media are locked together in a life or death embrace. This is new. No demagogue in recent history has seen the effectiveness of his role being interdependent with a force that for most of the time he purports to despise.

Consider how he framed this belief when Michael Schmidt of The New York Times recorded one of the most bizarre interviews with him in the Grill Room of his West Palm Beach golf club during the holidays:

Were going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and were being respected again. But another reason that Im going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if Im not there because without me their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually probably six months before the election theyll be loving me because theyre saying, Please, please, dont lose Donald Trump.

Most of the rest of that interview was delusional drivel that provided an alarming insight into his mental processesin fact, it served as a kind of impromptu warm-up for the revelations of Michael Wolffs book, a kind of journalistic bomb cyclone.

What Wolff delivered between the covers of a book was an explosive concentration of reporting that isnt achievable through the daily news cycle. His method is really no different than that used by Bob Woodward in his books, notably on the origins of the Iraq war, where whole scenes are reconstructed with dialog without attribution, but carry the ring of authenticity. The difference in public impact is that Woodward was reporting after the event whereas Wolff delivers as, so to speak, the crime is still in progress.

Some sniffy journalists, David Brooks surprisingly among them, have complained that Wolff doesnt operate according to their understanding of journalistic standards. Well, for one thing he doesnt have the resources of a paper to support him. And he also demonstrates another vital point about the scope of journalism: sometimes the force of one is equal to the force of hundreds. At this moment we need both kinds of consequential reporting, the collective effort of a newsroom and the disruptive brilliance of the loner.

Calling out the lies hasnt stopped Trump. His motives may differ from those of Mussolini and Hitler. Hes not ideological. In his case autocratic instincts come as a psychological motor in the pursuit of greed and the protection of his unbridled and ludicrous ego. The lack of ideology doesnt make him any less dangerous, though.

Trump has no time for scruples. With his lawyers unable to kill Wolffs book (can book burning be far off in his mind?) he once again threatened to ramp up the libel laws to prevent the defamation of people like him. Hes trying to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner in the hope that Time Warner will be forced to divest itself of his bte noir, CNN, hoping that someone more sympathetic to him will take it over, although Rupert Murdoch, the obvious candidate, says hes not interested, and he has been clearly looking for ways to punish Jeff Bezos for his re-arming of The Washington Post in changes to the tax code that would hit Amazon.

No demagogue in recent history has seen the effectiveness of his role being interdependent with a force that for most of the time he purports to despise.

All this should be very alarming, but Trump is operating in a worryingly permissive arena. There isnt, it seems, a stable public standard of truth in todays America. This is a culture where scientific truths are dismissed if inconvenient and ignorance is nourished. (Forty-three percent of Republicans believe that climate change is not happening.) One of the foundations of secular Western polities is that truth can be sustained only by honesty in language, that language must be used to interrogate information critically, no matter what its source.

In this struggle journalism is our last dependable line of defense. Its no exaggeration to say that the health, security, and integrity of the republic is at stake. History is an unforgiving judge and, just as the history of Europe in the 1920s and 30s reveals shameful failures in democratic institutions Americas current crisis will be judged by how effectively, or otherwise, the institutions designed to protect democracy worked.

No institution can achieve this without being able to operate on a generally agreed foundation of facts, of which the single most consequential fact is that the president is patently unfit for office. The second is that he is being kept in office by the obsequious Republican leadership who remain supine even after the outrage of the shithole outburst.

Principal among these are toadies like Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who, rather than pursue the investigation of Trump would rather pursue the whistleblower, the British former spy Christopher Steele. Other Republicans are calling for Muellers investigation to be purgedusing a term that Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin all employed to protect themselves. Then there is Ayn Rands posthumous wrecking ball, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who delivered a groveling encomium when Trump signed the so-called tax reform bill, thanking him for exquisite presidential leadership.

There is a word for people like these. Its a word that needs to be revived from earlier use: Quisling. It was first used as a general pejorative early in 1933 as Hitler came to power, identifying a Norwegian fascist named Vidkun Quisling who modeled his party on the Nazis and, when the Nazis invaded Norway in 1940, urged collaboration with them.

As is so often the case it was Winston Churchill who gave it a permanent meaning when, in 1941, he said: A vile race of Quislingsto use a new word which will carry the scorn of mankind down the centuriesis hired to fawn upon the conqueror, to collaborate in his designs and to enforce his rule upon their fellow countrymen while groveling low themselves.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-war-on-the-press-follows-the-mussolini-and-hitler-playbook

Donald Trump Opens His Sh*thole and Again Disgraces America

Come on, America. What more evidence do you need?

Let me be overly generous here. Suppose you agree that Haiti is a shithole. Its not one of your high-functioning nations, that is true. Of course, if you bother even to go to Wikipedia to read up for 10 minutes, youll find that the mess that is Haiti was partly made by these United States of America, with our ironclad support over three decades of the Duvaliers, father and son, brutal dictators and murderers and thieves, to whose crimes our governments turned many blind eyes. If you look around a bit more, youll see that Haitian soldiers fought in our Revolutionary War, in a battle in Savannah, Georgia. And if youre really intellectually adventurous, youll read about how Haiti was a slave colony in the late 1700s, remorselessly brutalized by Napoleon, and how Toussaint LOuverture, the leader of Haitian independence, has inspired artists from William Wordsworth to Jacob Lawrence to Ralph Ellison to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Jean-Michel, a great American artist of the 1980s, was born to a Haitian father. A powerful artistbut, to the president of the United States, just another shithole kid.

But what Im saying is this: Even if you agree with Donald Trumps assessment of Haiti, I hope you surely agree that a president of the United States should not be talking that way about countries, no matter what the country is. Because in every country, even in Somalia, by every measure the worlds most dysfunctional country, there are innocent, decent people who have none of the dysfunction on their hands; who are indeed historys most unfortunate victims, people who are just trying to work and raise their kids and who happened to draw the short straw in the global lottery and be born in this place, and who want out.

And for many decades, many of the people across the globe who wanted out wanted to come here, to America, to make a better life. Now I ask you: Who wants to come to Donald Trumps America? Who?

Not the good people of Norway, to whom Trump opened the door with his comments Thursday. Why would they? They have health care, they have free college, they have many weeks of family leave and vacation. They want to visit, sure, because who doesnt want to visit? But move here?

We used to think everyone from everywhere wanted to move here. Of course. Were America! Were the beacon. But not anymore. With the President of the United States making racist comments like this and proposing policies to match the only people whod be really excited about moving here are other racists.

America, its time. Its time to start demanding, bluntly and daily and with a dignity that is completely alien to our president, that he should not be the president of the United States. I am in one sense happy to report that Americans dont need to be persuaded of this. As it happens, just Wednesday, Quinnipiac released a poll. In it, 57 percent of respondents said he was not fit to serve as president, to 40 percent who said he was.

This is a moment. Remember it. January 11, 2018. For one thing, its the first time I ever remember mainstream news outlets all saying the word shit. The word shithole actually appeared in a Washington Post headline. The New York Times couldnt quite bring itself to put the word in the headline. Okay. Its the Times. But it did put in the first graf of the story. On CNN, White House correspondent Jim Acosta used the word on air. He was right to do it. And he was right to say that the President seems to harbor racist feelings toward those who are, well, you know, not white. That seems looks soft in print. It wasnt on TV, trust me.

As the Q-poll shows, a majority of Americans agree. In a democracy, Congress would pay attention to public opinionas expressed in that Q-poll but also in many othersand would begin proceedings on whether the president was fit to be president. Believe it or not, thats what the founders wanted to happen. They wanted a Congress that would see a president say something like this, something so aggressively at odds with our national creed, and put party aside and debate the matter on the merits.

Of course, we have no such Congress. And if we have no such Congress, we have no democracy. We have a joke on democracy. And as long as the congressional majority thwarts the will and sense of the American majority, Im afraid the joke is on us. But we have to hope it wont be for much longer.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/donald-trump-opens-his-shthole-and-again-disgraces-america

8 ‘Healthy’ Foods You Should Give Up In 2018

It’s 2018: a year that promises to deliver on all of our missed hopes, dreams, and opportunities of the last five years, provided our brave leader doesn’t get into a nuclear dick-measuring contest and kill us all. On the bright side, that would mean we didn’t have to diet or go to work anymore. Hmm.

Anyway, if we DO live and/or survive a nuclear holocaust, kicking some not-so-cool foods to the curb in the name of resolutions sounds like a great way to start the year, kinda. Because we understand that no one likes to do work, we’ve rounded up the eight foods you need to release from your grubby little hands stat.

1. Flavored Milks

This goes for super extra chocolate whole milk, strawberry rice milk, vanilla almond milk, and everything in between. According to  magazine, although plain whole milk, soy milk, etc. offer tons of health benefits, adding the flavor means adding the sugar. Like, you may as well have one to three cookies instead of a glass of this shit.

2. Trail Mix

This is candy with obstacles. No one should be surprised it’s on our shit list. A handful can be more than 200 calories. Like, I enjoy sushi rolls with fewer calories than that—and they’re an actual meal. Unless you’re dying of starvation on an actual trail, reach for some roasted nuts instead.

3. Pretzels

Yas, they’re better for you than chips, but they’re made with white flour, salt, and your body works through them in record time. MEANING you’ll be totally hungry again in 10 mins. Nope.

4. Protein Bars

I realize that an easy replacement for a meal is almost anything that comes in bar form. However, the protein bar you’re reaching for probs is going the way of the Kaltene bars in —it’s literally full of calories, carbs, and sugar. Like yes, if you have NOTHING else to eat, go ahead. But if you’re nomming on this as a mid-morning snack and wondering why sweatpants are all that fits you right now, get woke.

5. Bottled Tea

Sugar plus water plus light flavoring somehow equals healthy? Stop being stupid. Grab a water and start living.

6. Agave Nectar

Right so, just because something originally came from a plant, that doesn’t make it an amazing health food. Technically, cocaine comes from a plant, too, and I wouldn’t exactly be singing its praises for the energy benefits, knowwhatimean? K. This shit, according to Forkly, is actually for you than regular sugar. It’s actually 70-90% fructose, whereas reg sugar is only like 50%. Pass.

7. Flavored Yogurts

If you aren’t buying plain Greek yogurt and flavoring it yourself, I don’t want to know you. There’s often a lot of sugar and a LOTTTT of processed ingredients. So like, if you want something sweet, add some fruit, some honey, or what the fuck ever you want yourself.

8. Microwave Popcorn

Staahhhp. Although it totally seems like an easy and fast snack, there can be a lot of sodium and preservatives. You’re better off buying some kernels and popping them yourself in a brown paper bag. I’ll literally never do that, but it sounds great.

Read more: http://www.betches.com/unhealthy-foods-to-give-up-in-2018

She Quit Working For Trump. Now She’s Running For Congress To Fight Him.

WASHINGTON ― Gina Ortiz Jones thought she could work for President Donald Trump.

When he won the presidency in November 2016, Jones, a career civil servant who served in the Air Force in Iraq under George W. Bush and as an intelligence officer under Barack Obama, stayed in her job as a director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. But by June, she couldn’t do it anymore. Trump’s plans to gut education and housing aid hit too close to home for Jones, as someone who relied on reduced-cost school lunches and subsidized housing when she was a kid being raised by a single mom in San Antonio. She was also appalled by the president’s hires for top jobs.

“The type of people that were brought in to be public servants were interested in neither the public nor the service,” Jones, 36, said in an interview. “That, to me, was a sign that I’m going to have to serve in a different way.”

She found a new way to serve: She’s running for Congress. Jones has never run for office before, and if she wins, she would make history as the first lesbian, Iraq War veteran and first-generation Filipina-American to hold a U.S. House seat in Texas. Her hometown district, Texas’ 23rd, has also never been represented by a woman.

Jones wouldn’t have been able to grow up healthy or get an education without the opportunities she got from the federal government, she said. The only reason she could afford college, she added, was that she got a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship — and it infuriates her to see politicians try to take away those chances for others.

“Talent is universal. Opportunity is not,” she said. “Folks in Congress, they do three things. They create opportunities, they protect opportunities and they erase opportunities. That’s how we have to be thinking about this very plainly.”

Gina Ortiz Jones campaign
Jones talks to supporters at a event. She has endorsements from groups including EMILY’s List, VoteVets and Victory Fund.

Jones, a Democrat, is trying to unseat two-term Rep. Will Hurd (R). It won’t be easy. She has to beat three other Democrats in the March 6 primary, including Jay Hulings, a well-known former federal prosecutor. If she can pull that off, she’ll face Hurd, who has the advantage of being the incumbent and well-financed. As of Sept. 30, Hurd had $870,000 in cash on hand compared with Jones’ $74,000.

But Jones is certainly viable. She’s picked up endorsements from major national groups including EMILY’s List, VoteVets and Victory Fund. Former Texas Democratic state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis endorsed her. A couple of weeks ago, Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who gave a passionate speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, announced his support for her campaign, too.

“With leaders like Gina, our nation’s affairs are in good hands,” Khan said in a video announcing his endorsement. “I am supporting her for Congress because of her selfless, courageous leadership. She’s the leader we need for an interdependent world.”

If she can win the primary, Jones has some advantages over Hurd. This district, which stretches halfway across the state thanks to insane gerrymandering, has flip-flopped between Democratic and GOP representation for years, with nobody holding it for more than two terms since 2007. Hurd won his first term in 2014 by 2,400 votes against Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego. In 2016, Hurd won by 3,000 votes. Those are pretty close races in a district where roughly 115,000 people voted in the midterm and 229,000 voted in the presidential election.

This race is also happening amid a wave of Democratic victories around the country, with some high-level GOP operatives already bracing for a possible bloodbath in 2018.

Jones expressed frustration that Hurd routinely votes against his constituents’ interests but seems to get away with it because of his reputation for being “the nice guy.” Last year, Hurd gave people warm fuzzies about bipartisanship by live-streaming a 1,600-mile road trip with Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. HuffPost thought it looked fun (even if it was a political calculation by O’Rourke, who proposed the trip and announced a Senate run weeks later). Jones scoffed.

“When bipartisanship means two dudes get in a car and help each other get elected, we’re all fucking screwed,” she said.

Instead, Jones ran through Hurd’s record. He voted to delay the implementation of smog reduction measures by eight years, despite 1 in 13 Texans having asthma (with even higher rates in communities of color, like his). He voted nine times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He voted for the GOP’s tax bill, which benefits the rich and raises taxes on middle-class families over time. He’s been quiet about Congress’ failure to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is set to expire and would affect 400,000 kids in Texas.

When bipartisanship means two dudes get in a car and help each other get elected, we’re all fucking screwed. Gina Ortiz Jones

It’s particularly outrageous that Hurd hasn’t signed onto a bipartisan bill, the Dream Act, to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Jones said. Trump ended the program in September, and young undocumented immigrants will begin losing protections in greater numbers in March unless Congress passes a law to keep it. If lawmakers fail to act, hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants are at risk of being deported.

Jones said the uncertainty around DACA is “a huge deal” in Texas’ 23rd District, where more than 70 percent of constituents are Latino.

“So I push back on the fact that some say, ‘Oh, he’s not that bad.’ His voting record is awful,” she said. “You don’t get to be a moderate just because you don’t say crazy shit.”

Hurd’s campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Since moving back to San Antonio in June, Jones has been living in the house she grew up in. Most people in her community are minorities. Many are low-income. As she’s traveled around the district, she’s met people in border towns living in rank poverty. Some have no running water. Some have no paved roads. Jones said the experience has been a stark reminder of how badly Congress needs diverse voices ― and that now is the time for her to throw her hat in. 

“There’s just a point where you just ask yourself the question, ‘Can I afford not to do this?’” Jones said. “I think like a lot of women, you’re done assuming that somebody is going to do for you that which you can do yourself.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gina-ortiz-jones-will-hurd-texas-2018_us_5a4c069ce4b0b0e5a7a94c48

Doctors Take Moms Baby Off Life Support After Husband Dies1 Week Later, They Find Out How Wrong They Were

Thirty-five-year-old Sarah Rodriguez has processed more pain and suffering in a few short years than most of us could fathom enduring in a lifetime. But this widowed mother’s warrior spirit has become all the stronger for it. And now she’s sharing her profound journey of beauty from ashes in her new book, From Depths We Rise.

It all started seven years ago when her husband Joel was diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer.

“We found out in 2010 that he had Stage 3 kidney cancer that had eaten away his entire kidney,” recalls Sarah.

Though chemo treatments sent Joel into remission, it returned stronger than ever two years later, just three short days after their son Milo was born.


This time, Joel would not win the battle against the “Big C.” But several months before the kidney cancer took his life in 2013, he left his wife with a message that she was simply unable to shake.

“I need to tell you something. You and I are going to have another child and it’s going to be a girl,’” he told her. “I’m looking at him, thinking, ‘There’s no way we’re going to,’” Sarah recalls.

After Joel passed, Sarah couldn’t help but think about the frozen embryos they had placed down the street in an infertility clinic. The couple had struggled to get pregnant for five years, and after successfully conceiving Milo through in vitro, they decided it may be their only shot at having another baby.

Sarah just never thought she’d be doing it alone.

But as it often goes, God’s plans don’t necessarily align with our own. Soon, He opened her grieving heart to the idea of having another child. Sarah even recalled a dream she had years before Joel died, where she was holding a little girl named Ellis, and she wondered if it could have any tie-in with the prophetic words of her late husband.

“Within days of his death, I thought about that conversation and knew there was this piece of him – two more embryos – just down the street at the infertility clinic,” said Sarah. “I had this feeling in my heart that I should have another child and that there would be purpose to her life.”

Sure enough, on Nov. 6, 2014, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ellis.

As Ellis reached her tiny fingers up to clutch Sarah’s necklace embossed with Joel’s thumbprint, the proud mama could taste the bittersweet redemption this miracle child would bring.

“She was the beauty that came from the ashes of our story,” she said. “It felt like a part of Joel had returned to me with her birth.”


However, just two weeks later, she would be faced with losing the little miracle that had brought so much meaning to her life.

Ellis’ health quickly took a turn for the worse after she contracted a deadly form of Bacterial meningitis and Sepsis. Doctors gave Sarah no hope for her daughter’s survival and recommended she be taken off life support.

“Basically, they told us that she would not live, and if she did, she would be in a vegetative state,” she told ‘The Church Boys’ podcast. “A decision had to be made to remove the [ventilator].”

As Sarah stood in the hospital bathroom processing the unfathomable event that was to unfold after the devastating loss of her husband, she asked God in a tone reminiscent of Job, “Haven’t I endured enough?”

“I didn’t understand why the miracle of her life, why her name, why this conversation with my husband — if it was all going to end at this point,” said Sarah. “It was the lowest I had ever been.”

Still, she refused to curse God and lose faith in His healing power.

In an act of total surrender, she cried out, “God, I don’t know if you will, but I know that you can … so please, please don’t allow her to die.”

Shortly after, doctors gently placed Ellis on her chest as they took her off life support and removed every last tube, other than the one that monitored her vitals.

As she prayed, Sarah sang to her sweet baby who was breathing her final breaths right there on her bosom.

“She let out a cry and she was moving and wiggling around, and she wasn’t seizing,” says Sarah, but doctors still assured her that Ellis wouldn’t last long off of the ventilator.

But as seconds turned into minutes, and minutes into hours, they were forced to reconsider their diagnosis.

“It was just a moment of, ‘Oh my goodness, are we witnessing a miracle?” she said.

In fact, they were.

“They were dumbfounded that she was able to go from not breathing on a vent to breathing room air on her own,” she said. “By the end of the week, doctors and nurses were just coming in the room and saying, ‘We want to look at her, because she’s a miracle.’”

Today, almost two years later, Sarah’s living breathing miracle continues to thrive, inspiring her mama with her courage.


Though it’s hard to imagine being thankful for the kind of brutal pain and heartache Sarah walked through, in looking back, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I think that that’s part of the mystery of God, and I think He keeps some things a mystery because it keeps us seeking Him always,” says Sarah. “We never want to talk about suffering. We always want to talk about blessing. In suffering, I’ve become a better version of myself.”

Now she’s on a mission to share her story in hopes that it may encourage others to march toward purpose out of their pain, so our suffering may produce in us a character that conforms us to the likeness of Christ. To read more from Sarah’s miraculous story of hope and overcoming, purchase your own copy of From Depths We Rise: A Journey of Beauty from Ashes today.

Read more: https://faithit.com/sarah-rodriguez-widowed-miracle-baby-life-support-depths-rise-book/

Why The Length Of Your Fingers Dictate Who You Are

Unless some asshole just cut you off in traffic, you probably don’t give much thought to how important your fingers are. People yearn for sexier legs, flatter stomachs, or bigger … noses, but no one says, “Man, I wish my index finger was 0.2 inches longer.” And that’s too bad, because science now has reason to believe that if your fingers were longer or shorter, you might literally be a different person.

You Can Often Tell A Person’s Sexual Orientation By The Length Of Their Ring Finger

Being able to tell if someone is gay merely by looking at their fingers sounds like one of those playground urban myths that adolescent males use as an excuse to punch each other. (Is this the “hand size” thing Donald Trump is weirdly obsessed with?) But it’s a real thing. It’s called digit ratio theory, and multiple studies from all over the world seem to confirm it.

Apparently, if you have a longer ring finger, it means you got more testosterone as a fetus, and that has huge implications for your life, even beyond the stereotypical aggression and aversion to sleeves. A longer index finger, on the other hand, means more estrogen, making you more neurotic and sensitive.

A mega-study Voltronned from the results of 18 other studies concluded that women with “masculine” hands (shorter index fingers) are indeed more likely to be gay. A lesbian-centric finger length study from Rutgers even found a noticeable difference between self-identified “butch” ladies who drive trucks and wear flannel and the more feminine lesbians who tend to populate straight dudes’ fantasies.

So if you’re male and your index finger is way longer than your ring finger, you’re like the most fabulous dude ever, right? They’re still doing the science on that one. Some studies say it’s the other way around, and some say there’s actually no difference. Finger length does vary between ethnicities, so it’s possible that this is true in America, but not in Europe.

So how far into this entry did you get before you stopped to look at your fingers? Oh, you’ll be doing that a lot more before we get to the end of this article …

The Longer A Man’s Ring Finger Is, The More Women Are Attracted To His Face

Hey, here’s a factoid to either boost your self-confidence or totally kill it: Women think guys with long ring fingers have more attractive faces. But only the ring finger. Guys with long index fingers? Eh, not so much.

It sounds bizarre, but it goes back to what we told you before: The longer your ring finger, the more testosterone you received in the womb. A study led by scientist Camille Ferdenzi of the University of Geneva confirmed that above all other factors (including body odor drawn from the sweaty armpits of men of varying degrees of manliness), the length of the ring finger pretty much sealed the deal on how attractive a man’s face was to a woman.

Wiki CommonsThis hand later stuck the scientists’ heads down the toilets.

Determining this relation between testosterone and the face involved a complex experiment of showing pictures of men to a bunch of women and having them give a rating for masculinity and attractiveness. Over and over, long-ring-finger guys were all rated as having the best faces. So size does matter — just not where you may think.

What’s odd — but consistent with what we told you in this article about women being attracted to feminine male faces — was that a positive attraction rating wasn’t always paired with a masculine rating. This means that it’s possible that a man could have a longer ring finger, which means having more prenatal testosterone and thus a more attractive face, but not actually look more masculine. We’re calling this the Legolas Effect.

But gentlemen, don’t start plucking your eyebrows and donning your elf ears just yet. Like we said, this is prenatal testosterone, which is different from the fluctuating adult testosterone determining tone of voice and body odor, and it’s more or less unchangeable because its work is done once you’re born. Once you’re out, no more fetal testosterone for you. Which is rather unfortunate, considering the next part …

Different Finger Lengths Correlate With Different Mental Illnesses

Here’s another side effect of your mom’s womb skimping on testosterone and giving you a shorter ring finger: It makes you more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. But don’t worry, long-ring-finger people have their own issues.

Before you ask, yes, that “eating disorder” part goes for men too. One study measured men’s fingers and had them fill out questionnaires about eating behaviors and attitudes, and found that men with less prenatal testosterone (and shorter ring fingers) had less drive for muscularity, greater drive for leanness, and scored higher on disordered eating symptoms. Meanwhile, a study focused on twins found that women who were exposed to more testosterone (due to being womb-mates with a dude for nine months) showed less propensity toward eating disorders. So does this debunk our sexist notion that eating disorders are a “girl thing,” or prove it? No idea, we lost track.

Conversely, if your ring finger is unusually long, which means you scored the testosterone jackpot, then your grand prize is an increased risk of autism. Scientists still aren’t really sure what causes autism or what it even is, but one theory is the “extreme male-brain hypothesis,” which sounds like a painful condition in which all you can think about is monster trucks and wrestling. What it really means is that having extremely “masculine” traits (like preferring to think about things and systems rather than people) is a recipe for a mental disorder.

The theory is supported by the fact that people with autism have been found to have had greater prenatal testosterone exposure — which, again, is indicated by having a longer fourth than second finger. Other disorders related to these higher levels of prenatal testosterone (and to a “masculinized brain”) include ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome. Oh, and if that’s not depressing enough, your finger ratio might even predict your chances of committing suicide.

To test one bizarre theory, researchers took a camera, some rulers, and went and got some corpse fingers. Researchers “enrolled 71 corpses” in the study, who had been dead anywhere from seven hours to 14 days. Some deaths were by suicide, others by natural causes. The corpses’ hands were photographed, finger lengths measured, and longer fourth fingers indeed were correlated with suicide. The researchers didn’t find a correlation between suicide method and finger length, but they were ready with an explanation for this, speculating that the failure “might be due to us investigating an insufficient number of suicide corpses.”

OK, that’s the most metal thing science has ever said.

These fascinating/alarming factoids first appeared in 5 Insignificant Things That Determine Who You Have Sex With, 6 Ridiculous Sex Myths (That Are Actually True), and 4 Random Things That Predict Huge Health Problems Later, right here on Cracked!

Tiny fingers doesn’t mean you can’t have big dreams. Even though it’s cold, put on some training gloves and get out there and run!

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25319_why-length-your-fingers-dictate-who-you-are.html