Store Runs Out Of Presents So She Writes A Horrible Review On Facebook, But The Boss Responds

They say that any publicity is good publicity, but this might not be exactly what one store was hoping for!

In this day and age, any of us can see something happening in the world, log onto our social media accounts and instantly let everyone know our personal opinion on the matter. While most of these responses don’t hurt anyone, sometimes something will happen that “goes viral” and someone who was in no way close to being famous could suddenly find themselves receiving thousands of emails from total strangers from all around the world.

One woman seems to be going viral not for whatshesaid, but for what a store said in response to a one-star Facebook review. She had gone to her local mall to buy some Christmas presents, and when workers at Papa Dan’s Trains and More told her they were out of a particular product, she asked them to tell her when their next shipment was coming in.

The present was eventually in stock again, though it nearlysold out instantly. When she found out about this “bad customer service,” she decided to let loose on Facebook and give the store a one-star review. She mentioned that her “Christmas was ruined,” then decided she would be taking her business elsewhere.

But instead of taking this bad review sitting down, the store decided to strike back. They left a rather scathing response telling the woman how she was wrong and that it wasn’t their fault she hadn’t paid to hold the present, therefore they had no obligation to do so.

No matter who you agree with in this scenario, it’s pretty easy to be mean to someone online. You don’t see the face of the person and therefore don’t see what’s going on; it’s easy to lash out when you’re mad, and it’s even easier doing it when you’re sitting at home and angry! Either way, both parties probably could have been a bit calmer about the whole thing.

Who do you think was in the wrong: the customer, the store… or both? Let us know in the comments below!

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‘Take my brain out’: The artists awakened by brain injuries – BBC News

Image copyright Phil

Thirty extraordinary artists who survived brain injuries, but found a new craft, are exhibiting their work in London this month, many for the first time.

For five days a week the art studio at Headway East London, set within a railway arch in Hackney, comes to life with people acquiring new skills and producing artwork.

Many had shown little or no interest in art until they were injured and invited into the studio.

Each member of Headway East London acquired their injuries as an adult. Some as a result of violent assaults, car crashes or meningitis, while others are from less common causes including hypoxia – a suffocation injury.

Ben Graham from the Headway charity says: “The people we’re tending to see can’t do their former jobs, or their relationships have broken down or maybe they’re the parent but need caring for themselves.

Sandra Lott worked in banking in the City of London and would often travel to Europe and America on business. She suffered head trauma in 2013. The resulting injury means she walks with a stick, has cognitive fatigue and aphasia – a communication disorder.

Image copyright Headway East London

“When I was at work, I fell over and security got me to the hospital. I was there for three days and then I was okay, but then I fell over on the stairs. Me and my friend we just had a coffee. I was walking around Liverpool Street and there were loads of steps, and that’s when I fell on them.

“I was sick for a year. But then, when I came to Headway I just loved it.”

Sandra enjoyed art as a child, but gave up as a teenager. One of the pieces she is exhibiting, Witches and Buildings, was inspired by 9/11. She had been working in New York shortly before.

Image copyright Sandra Lott

“I had crabs and lizards and there was a man who was going into a helicopter – they were helping them after the World Trade Centre. That was because three weeks before, I went to the city. All the people who died, it was awful.”

Sandra says her family has been very supportive of her art.

“My husband’s going to come to the exhibition. He loves it. My husband is a photographer. I used to help him. I think in 2017 I would like to help his photography – I really want to do it.”

Headway East London started in 1998 with one therapist and a single client. It’s since grown and offers a variety of services. Rather than short-term rehabilitation with a discharge date it hopes to offer support as long as is needed; helping to redefine the person and giving them a positive outlook and productive use of their time.

Many of the 40 members who use the studio now consider art their job.

Graham says “Therapy is about making yourself better, but what they’re doing is about making something, selling it to people, engaging with the public and creating a self that they like.

Image copyright Headway East London

“Essentially they’re no longer unemployed, which affects their self-worth, and gives people that root to self-expression.”

Headway is based in a unit complete with a kitchen, gym and therapy rooms with the Submit To Love Studio next door providing a bespoke space for painting, sculpting and ceramics.

When it first opened Graham says it led to an “explosion” of artwork and an “astonishing uptake” which they hope to continue nurturing.

Nick Mayers, 56, had spent 16 years in the Parachute Regiment before he had two strokes in one year. The second resulted in a haemorrhage which has affected his speech, memory and mobility. Nick will often paint images he sees in books.

Image copyright Nick Mayers

“I was born, Nicholas Mayers. I was born 4th January, Battersea Park. When I was four-years-old I first started to paint.”

Nick’s strokes meant he has had to teach himself how to draw using his left hand, despite having grown up right-handed.”

For anyone thinking of taking up art Nick has some advice: “Make it up as you go along. When I finish painting I never look back. Don’t get attached.”

Some of the artists have exhibited before but for many it will be the first time the public has a chance to see and buy the pieces with any profits split 50/50 between the artist and charity.

Image copyright Nick Mayers

Graham says Headway East London is “not in a hurry to make it a commercial enterprise” but already prices have increased. Drawings used to go for about 20, but one artist has sold a piece for 1,600 has has a further eight chosen for 2,400.

“I don’t think financial gain is the priority. Feeling valuable and engaged and pursuing something meaningful to them is the most important thing, and in a setting where they’re connecting with others,” Graham says.

“They’re doing art for its own sake.”

Phil, a 44 year old father-of-two, was a pedestrian in a road traffic accident in 2015. He has problems with physical and cognitive fatigue, memory and concentration.

Image copyright Phil

“I used to draw for my kids. I suppose I did have an eye but it didn’t connect to how I would normally do things.

“I was really confused that I couldn’t draw a line. Before the accident I would have been fine.”

He said he struggled at first spending whole days working on it before declaring “I’ve failed” but after taking a more relaxed approach art has become his release.

“The piece I’m doing now – it’s massive. It’s a painting collage. It’s a bit to do with me – the dark to the light. I think it’s like my journey of this accident.”

Image copyright Brian Searle

He says before he started at Headway he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“People think it’s like AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] – where you sit around in a circle and give out your feelings. This is totally different. This is my space from 10 ’til 3, I take my brain out and recharge it.

“It’s a wonderful place to recharge my brain and I’m allowed to be myself.”

Submit To Love Studios runs until 23 February at Stratford Circus Arts Centre. All images used are courtesy of Headway East London.

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Trump’s moves highlight his split with Hill GOP on top party priorities

(CNN)Republicans are finding that staying united with President-elect Donald Trump is much easier said than done.

As soon as Trump was declared the winner, top congressional leaders began putting the wheels in motion to do all the things they have campaigned on for years — overhauling the tax code, repealing and replacing Obamacare, rolling back federal regulations and more.
    But just as he did as a candidate, Trump’s string of tweets is setting out policies that fly in the face of Republican orthodoxy. Now that he’s the elected leader of the party, his proposals are exposing the significant split that already existed between the deal maker reality star president and GOP members committed to a free market driven economy.
    No Republican on Capitol Hill wants to publicly oppose Trump, who won the Electoral College race with a huge margin last month and whose poll numbers remain high. The same voters who desperately wanted change in Washington are expecting the GOP-led Congress, which is largely the same, to carry out Trump’s agenda. Many don’t care about conservative principles. They want results.
    Instead of acknowledging the elephant in the room — they fundamentally disagree on some of Trump’s ideas — Republicans in Congress are trying to pivot the discussion back to where they agree.
    In a private 90-minute meeting with Senate Republicans and Mike Pence, the two sides tried to downplay any disagreements. Pence told Republicans their views on free trade are largely in line with Trump’s, who has called for fairer deals, attendees said. He sought to allay concerns that repealing the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, without a replacement plan would be problematic, saying certain actions could be taken administratively until Congress passes new law.
    And he said he would be a sounding board to Senate Republicans to ensure the two sides stay on the same page, even giving senators his private cell phone number. After the meeting, top Republicans said, further discussion was warranted to ensure the two sides don’t splinter.
    “Some of the issues out there our members would like to discuss further,” said Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 Senate Republican.
    How they resolve these ideological differences will be a continual challenge. GOP leaders have already pledged to kick off the new Congress with the health care debate and move quickly to reorder the entire tax system soon after in 2017.

    Trade/Tax reform

    Trump vowed via Twitter to impose a 35% tariff on any US company that sends jobs overseas that wants to sell goods in America. But for years Republican members of Congress stressed economic plans to change the tax code to provide incentives — not a cudgel — to retain businesses from relocating operations.
    “Tax reform is the answer to that problem,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday, when pressed whether he supports Trump’s tariff approach.
    Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole, who has foreign companies hiring people at tire plants in his district, batted down the idea of a tariff as an effective tool on CNN.
    “I’m not very interested in going to a trade war with countries which are actually have companies that are investing here and employing American workers — literally by the thousands.”
    Cole, who stressed the longtime Republican proposal of lowering corporate taxes to create a better business environment, said about Trump’s approach, “It’s pretty hard to respond to a tweet without knowing the specifics of a proposal.”
    In some cases Trump would need Congress to enact legislation imposing tariffs, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy split with the leader of his party, saying Monday, “I believe there is a better way of solving a problem than getting into a trade war.”
    “In general most of our members would be against tariffs and would not support that,” North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday on CNN. But he tried to shift the focus to other things the GOP Congress wants to work with the new president on in early 2017.
    A popular refrain from free market Republicans in Congress is that the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers. But recently Trump upended that notion when he teamed up Pence, who is the governor of Indiana, to package tax breaks to keep Carrier, a manufacturer with operations in the state, from moving hundreds of jobs to Mexico.
    McCarthy, pressed on whether the episode amounted to federal intervention, struggled to reconcile how the Carrier deal represented market forces determining the outcome and instead said it is suitable for states to intervene the way that Indiana did.
    Michigan GOP Rep. Justin Amash, who has been openly critical about Trump’s role on the Carrier deal, told CNN that he viewed a tariff as a ‘”tax on Americans,” and added, “I think he’s putting that out there because he knows it won’t pass.”


    Repealing Obamacare is the top priority that has unanimous support within Republican ranks in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday legislation to start the process of dismantling the law will be the first item the new Congress takes up in 2017.
    “Will there be challenges? Absolutely, yes,” McConnell said. “This has been a very, very controversial law. We have an obligation to the American people to change it and to do a better job. If we get Democratic cooperation in doing that, that would be great.”
    Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming minority leader, said the GOP is like “the dog that caught the bus,” warning that Democrats would do battle with Republicans on the issue.
    “To our Republican friends across the aisle: ‘Bring it on,'” the Democratic New Yorker said Tuesday.
    Trump has stressed he wants to wipe the health care law away quickly and immediately have a new system in place – a notion he laid out in his first television interview on “60 Minutes” as something that could happen “simultaneously.”
    But that timeline is running into the realities of the congressional process, something that moves slowly. A repeal of large chunks of the law can occur as early as January because the GOP plans to use a fast-track budget process that cannot be filibustered under the rules of the Senate. But replacing it will take a lot longer — just how long is a subject of sharp debate in the Capitol.
    “They want do reconciliation first and deal with replacement down the road,” said Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, who acknowledged lawmakers haven gotten mixed signals from Trump about how to proceed. “A lot of people are saying, ‘Hey, we know the issues. Why don’t we go ahead and replace it right now?'”
    Conservatives want to move quickly.
    “I think that health care would be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone, so why would we want to talk three years to get rid of it,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a top member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
    Rep. Mark Walker, who heads the Republican Study Committee, a large group of fiscal conservatives told CNN that the framework for dismantling the law in the first hundred days lining up the new system will take some time. “Small businesses are begging us to move quickly but we also want to make sure we’re not ripping the rug out from a mass group of people as well.”
    Republican leaders are plotting out the mechanics of rolling back the law and Ryan stressed in an interview with the Milwaukee Sentinel that repeal and replace wont’ happen back to back
    “Clearly there will be a transition and a bridge so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off,” Ryan said.

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    Is business travel ruining your family life?

    (CNN)First-class seats on transatlantic flights, city-hopping and jet-setting around the globe, enriching your life with new cultures and new experiences. It sounds glamorous, right?

    But business travel often comes at a cost to your family life.
      What do you do when you’re stuck in Shanghai on your wedding anniversary? Or absent in America on your child’s birthday?
      Maintaining solid, loving relationships with family while away on business can be the hardest part of the traveling executive’s life.
      Even when you’re back home, jet lag and fatigue can take its toll on quality family time.
      In July 2016, the Global Business Travel Association announced that a record breaking $1.2 trillion was spent on work trips around the planet in 2015.
      Business travel is here to stay, so here’s how to cope.

      Business travel: the dangers

      Being a traveling executive can be tough on the whole family.
      Couples have to weigh up the disadvantage of being apart with the benefits — a better job, more money and greater career opportunities.
      Saying no to all this is not always easy.
      Dr Wendy Walsh — a California-based relationship expert and author — has a less sympathetic view.
      “Two people who emotionally feel strong in their relationship don’t accept jobs with lots of travel away from their spouse,” says Walsh.
      “The likelihood is too great that the partner who is traveling will have a great deal of separation anxiety and look for another attachment in the form of an affair.”
      Walsh also believes an absent parent is damaging for children: “Separations like these […] can cause amazing disruptions to their development […] you’re training these kids to have insecure romantic relationships.”

      Business travel: the advantages

      My father has traveled abroad for business since I was very young — but my experience could not be further from that which Walsh describes.


      As a child whose father was often away on business, I always wanted to know who he was traveling with — it was reassuring if he was with a friend — and where he was going.
      If the children of a business traveler feel involved in their parent’s trip, they will feel less anxious about their absence.
      Vicky Cooke left her HR job at a global company because she found traveling and spending time away from her children difficult.
      But she tells CNN that she and her young family established coping mechanisms:
      “My daughter did used to ask me: ‘Who did you go with Mummy?’ and she’d like to look at the map at where I was going, we used to have a look at the globe,” explains Cooke.
      “Her dad also used to look up the flight online and they’d both watch my flight on the website coming in or going out.”
      How children handle the time spent apart from the parent will depend on their personality and their age.
      But whatever the situation, it is integral that the absent parent remains part of the family’s life — and that bonds with children are upheld — despite the distance.
      Holbrook recalls the time he watched an important England rugby match with his then-teenage daughter over FaceTime.
      Thanks to modern technology, the fact that she was in the UK and he was in the USA did not prevent them breaking their tradition of watching the sport together.
      Staying in touch with children is also different depending on their age.
      Teenagers often prefer texting to phone calls.
      “You can do live chat [Facebook chat, iMessage or WhatsApp],” advises Saddington, “That suits younger people much better.”
      For very young children, however, video chatting can be confusing.
      “It’s fantastic now that we’ve got Skype and Facetime,” says Cooke, “But I’m not sure my little boy quite understood it.
      “When the kids are really little, it’s more for you than them. […] I’m not sure it’s good — it just reminds them that you’re not there.”

      Can you cope with the business traveler lifestyle?

      So can a business travel lifestyle be sustained indefinitely — or does it need an end date, as Walsh advises?
      Some people are better suited than others — either due to personality, familial circumstances or job prospects — to the business traveler lifestyle.
      Similarly some partners and children will adjust better to being “left behind.”
      For Cooke, the timing was not right. She wants to be present for her young children.
      “I loved travel and exploring new places and seeking out new experiences and different cultures,” she says. “Maybe in 10-15 years time, that is something that I could go back to.”
      Meador, meanwhile, concedes it was easier for him as he did not start to travel frequently until his children were older.
      “My extensive travel came at a good time, as it was after my kids went to high school […] I think that made it easier for me. My wife and I weren’t having to juggle things at home in the same way.”
      Notably, for Meador, travel became an essential part of his life.
      “Six years ago, I had cancer and a bone marrow transplant and a lot of complications,” Meador tells CNN. “I traveled a lot through that […] in part to try and gain a normal life again”.
      Travel was an integral part of Meador’s life before his illness — and once he had recovered he wanted to return to his business traveler schedule.
      “It’s hard to explain,” he ponders, “But it was a critical component in my recovery from cancer.”

      Group decision

      Any family or relationship in which one partner is a traveling executive should frequently take time to consider how the family is coping and make changes accordingly.
      Don’t be afraid to call time on the job if the family is suffering — and don’t be afraid to continue to travel if it is working.
      Ultimately every family is different:
      “It’s unique to each couple family or person,” says Saddington, “Having an always do this isn’t necessarily going to work. If you have got to start living apart […] you have to discuss, you have to plan for it.”
      “It all depends on individuals,” agrees Cohen.

      Read more:

      No country with a McDonalds can remain a democracy | George Monbiot

      The best way to combat the likes of Trump, Le Pen and Farage and the politics they represent is to rescue power from the grip of transnational corporations

      A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols, slogans and sensation trump facts and nuanced argument. One in six Americans now believe that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonalds can remain a democracy.

      Twenty years ago, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman proposed his golden arches theory of conflict prevention. This holds that no two countries that both have McDonalds have ever fought a war against each other since they each got their McDonalds.

      Friedmans was one of several end-of-history narratives suggesting that globalcapitalism would lead to permanent peace. He claimed that it might create a tip-over point at which a country, by integrating with the global economy, opening itself up to foreign investment and empowering its consumers, permanently restricts its capacity for troublemaking and promotes gradual democratisation and widening peace. He didnt mean that McDonalds ends war, but that its arrival in a nation symbolised the transition.

      In using McDonalds as shorthand for the forces tearing democracy apart, I am, like him, writing figuratively. Ido not mean that the presence of the burger chain itself is the cause of the decline of open, democratic societies (though it has played its part in Britain, using our defamation laws against its critics). Nor do I mean that countries hosting McDonalds will necessarily mutate into dictatorships.

      What I mean is that, under the onslaught of the placeless, transnational capital that McDonalds exemplifies, democracy as a living system withers and dies. The old forms and forums still exist parliaments and congresses remain standing but the power they once contained seeps away, re-emerging where we can no longer reach it.

      The political power that should belong to us has flitted into confidential meetings with the lobbyists and donors who establish the limits of debate and action. It has slipped into the diktats of the IMF and the European Central Bank, which respond not to the people but to the financial sector. It has been transported, under armed guard, into the icy fastness of Davos, where Friedman finds so warm a welcome (even when hes talking cobblers).

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      Amy Schumer says trolls’ backlash over Barbie casting shows shes right for role

      Comedian says body-shaming attacks show somethings wrong with our culture after news of Grammy nominations

      Amy Schumer has defended her credentials to play Barbie, an important and evolving icon, pointing to backlash as evidence of why she would be a great choice.

      The announcement on Saturday that Schumer was in negotiations to play the lead in Mattels debut movie was met with some criticism online, with some complaining she did not meet the physical standards embodied by the plastic doll.

      Barbie is the definition of perfection, complained a writer for a website called Barstool Sports that bills itself as being by the common man; for the common man.

      Mattel is completely ruining her image by letting Amy Schumer be a Barbie.

      A real woman with Barbies proportions would purportedly not be able to lift her head, nor walk on two legs.

      Schumer acknowledged criticism of her selection in a post to Instagram on Tuesday night. The photo, a paparazzi shot, showed her wearing a black swimsuit in the surf.

      Is it fat shaming if you know youre not fat and have zero shame in your game? I dont think so. … When I look in the mirror I know who I am.

      She expressed her deepest sympathy … to the trolls, who are in more pain than we will ever understand.

      I want to thank them for making it so evident that I am a great choice. Its that kind of response that lets you know somethings wrong with our culture and we all need to work together to change it.

      Schumers post followed news of her being nominated for two Grammys: best comedy album for her set Live at the Apollo and best spoken-word album for The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo.

      Her selection as Barbie comes nearly one year on from Mattels makeover of the doll to reflect a greater variety of body types, skin tones and styles.

      The biggest update to the doll since 1959 gave Barbie 24 new hairstyles, seven different skin tones and three body types, and was featured on the front cover of Time magazine under the headline Now can we stop talking about my body?

      The new range was announced in January this year, after a 14% drop in global sales of the doll in the three months to 30 September 2015 the eighth consecutive quarter in which profits had fallen.

      Worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand were up 16% on the previous year in Mattels 2016 third-quarter financial report, suggesting the new line was a success.

      Schumer is used to scrutiny over her body. In March she hit out at trolls using that same photo of herself in a swimsuit.

      I hope you find some joy in your lives today in a human interaction and not just in writing unkind things to a stranger youve never met who triggers something in you that makes you feel powerless and alone, she wrote. This is how I look. I feel happy. I think I look strong and healthy and also like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. Kisses!

      The following month she rallied again on Instagram against being included in Glamour magazines Chic at Any Size issue when she falls between a size 6 and an 8: It doesnt feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size?

      Living doll: why Amy Schumers the best thing to happen to Barbie

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      Despite climate change exodus, some Marshall Islanders head back home

      After many young people fled in the face of worsening droughts, tropical storms, coral bleaching, coastal inundation and flooding, some are choosing to return

      Surrounded by 750,000 square miles of ocean, the low-lying Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is emblematic of the threat climate change poses to small island nations. This Micronesian country of coral atolls faces worsening droughts, tropical storms, coral bleaching, coastal inundation and flooding all exacerbated by rising temperatures and sea levels.

      In the face of such an existential threat, the country has also seen a mass exodus of its inhabitants: exact numbers are unclear, but anything between one-fifth to one-third of the population has migrated visa-free to places like Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the US under an agreement called the Compact of Free Association. Northwest Arkansas alone saw an increase of nearly 300% in its Marshallese population between 2000 and 2010.

      Some young Marshallese, however, are choosing to return after years living abroad, drawn back by the desire to help their homeland confront its challenges.

      Some are attracted by generous education grants: Marshallese students receive loans for overseas education that are converted to grants when students return to the country to work in the public or private sector for one year of each two years of support.

      Thats what brought back 26-year-old Yoshiko Capelle and her husband Jesse, 28, after four years study political science at the University of Hawaii. Jesse said returning to the capital Majuro with their two young children has been bitter-sweet.

      Majuros crowded conditions and eroding coastlines required some getting used to, but a network of family support and world-class fishing and diving made their return easier, he said.

      When Jamal Reimers, 39, moved to the US in 1997, the Marshall Islands were gripped by drought. After years living in Oregon, Arkansas and Idaho, Reimers returned to Majuro in 2015 with his two oldest children; his wife and two youngest remain in Idaho.

      I knew climate change had impacted my land but came back regardless, said Reimers, who added that he returned to give back and [to] fight until we cant fight [any] more. Today Reimers manages the family business a commercial water bottling company that treats sea water using reverse osmosis.


      Dustin Langidrik, 28, was born in Hawaii and studied in Fiji before returning to the Marshall Islands.

      Today he works with the University of the South Pacific building solar desalination water purification units on remote atolls using man-made materials and locally available plants.

      I know theres a lot of people who dont seem to understand the situation we are in, he said. Climate change is real. It is not a joke. Its really taking a hard toll on peoples life.

      Marshall Islands president, Hilda Heine, acknowledges the threat of outbound migration, which is also fueled by high unemployment, stressed infrastructure and public service and housing shortages.

      Many islanders leave in search of medical treatment for conditions caused by the aftereffects of US nuclear tests on nearby Bikini and other atolls. Cancers and associated lifestyle diseases like diabetes strain this remote but urbanized nation of around 60,000.

      But Heine displays the stubborn optimism of a pioneer among her people. She was the first Marshallese citizen to earn a PhD, she served as education minister and in 2016 was elected the first female head of state of a Pacific island nation.

      No country wants to see its talent migrate, she says. Were hopeful that Marshallese will want to return home to make a difference after theyve become educated and skilled overseas.

      Heine knows the power of investing in education. In 1993 she temporarily relocated to Hawaii to provide her children with a strong academic upbringing.

      Heines own daughter, 29-year-old Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, returned to Majuro in 2014 to fulfill her education grant obligation. Today Jetnil-Kijiner has a masters degree in education and teaches at the College of the Marshall Islands.

      Along with fellow returnee Mila Loeak, Jetnil-Kijiner is co-director of Jo-Jikum, a non-profit fostering youth leadership and activism seeking solutions to climate change.

      Jetnil-Kijiner says its presumptuous to assume that the islands are doomed. Its frustrating because [journalists] are looking for this sensational story of people fleeing islands that are becoming remote and empty, she says, adding that not all Marshallese have accepted the role of climate refugees.

      According to Jetnil-Kijiner, Marshallese migration is essentially the same as in other parts of the world the search for new opportunities, a better way of life or the desire to be near family.

      Jetnil-Kijiner who is recognized for her poetry as much as her activism rejects the idea that her people are ready to give up on their homeland.

      In a 2011 poem entitled Tell Them she wrote, Tell them we dont want to leave. Weve never wanted to leave. And that we are nothing without our islands.

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      VR is even more real now that you can reach out and touch things with your hands

      Leap Motion’s new sensor tracks all of your fingers and works with mobile VR headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR.
      Image: raymond wong/mashable

      The first thing you instinctively want to do after strapping on a VR headset and diving into a virtual world is to reach out and touch what you see.

      Unfortunately, this is not a reality on today’s most popular VR headsets. Well, official support isn’t. Instead, VR headsets either rely on traditional gamepads like the Xbox One controller (Oculus Rift), custom hand controllers (HTC Vive/Rift), side-mounted touchpads on the headset (Samsung Gear VR), or wireless remotes (Google Daydream View).

      I’ve tried all of these controls, and while they work fine, none of them feel completely intuitive or natural; there’s a learning curve for all of them. The Vive’s hand controllers and the Rift’s Touch controllers are good attempts at mimicking your hands, but neither provides full-finger tracking.

      The guys at Leap Motion have figured out how to change that.

      The startup has been working on its hand-tracking technology, called Orion, that works with its motion controller sensor. With the sensor strapped to the front of a VR headset and Orion running, users can experience VR with their hands (and every finger and joint) without the need for any physical controllers.

      Orion has been available for the Rift and Vive since earlier this year, but now the company is taking it to the next level with the “Leap Motion Mobile Platform” which is the same setup but designed for mobile VR. Michael Buckwald, Leap Motion’s CEO and co-cofounder, told me the company is targeting mobile VR headsets because it’s the easiest entry point into VR for consumers since they don’t need a powerful PC; all they need is a headset and a smartphone.

      Leap Motion isn’t getting into the VR headset business. The Leap Motion Mobile Platform is really a system the company hopes VR headset makers will license and integrate.

      Leap Motion built a reference design for the Gear VR with the Leap Motion module embedded within a cover.

      Image: raymond wong/mashable

      As a proof of concept, Leap Motion built a reference design that straps over the front of the latest Gear VR and connects via its pass-through USB-C port. What I saw won’t be released as a consumer product, but if mobile VR headset makers like Samsung incorporate the technology into their headsets, the issues of immersive controls will be a thing of the past.

      Having never tried Orion, I was a little skeptical of its hand-tracking. When the Leap Motion sensor launched in 2013 and promised Minority Report-esque air gesture controls for computers, it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. It was laden with buggy software and inaccurate gestures.

      But all of that is in the past. The Leap Motion Mobile Platform is the real deal. Leap Motion increased the speed by 10x and the controller’ dual camera field of view from 140 x 120 degrees to 180 x 180 degrees. The result from the new, more sophisticated module (see below), is faster hand-tracking with virtually no latency for more realistic 1:1 hand controls.

      The new Leap Motion module is 10x faster.

      Image: raymond wong/mashable

      My demo was only about 15-20 minutes, but it was enough to convince me that real hand-tracking is the future of VR controls.

      The demo I tried put me in a rudimentary cyberspace chamber (nothing graphically fancy) that felt very much like the toy box demo I tried with the Oculus Rift at CES earlier this year.

      With my hands held out in front of me, the Leap Motion sensor embedded within the Gear VR cover replicated them into the VR world. When I wiggled my fingers in real life my virtual fingers also wiggled. I was blown away by how accurate the tracking was; there was no motion blur and even when I held my hands out in a chopping like position with my ring and pinky fingers obscured by the fingers in front, the sensor still knew they were there.

      Image: raymond wong/mashable

      Within seconds I built blocks and balls and stacked them on one another in virtual space using simple gestures. All I had to do was select the shape from a menu that appeared when I opened my palm and then use both hands (thumbs + index fingers) to pull them apart to make them larger and smaller.

      I launched a ball into the air with a makeshift catapult I made out of a long block. I played catch with another person (that’s right, multiple people can connect and interact simultaneously with all virtual objects). I high-fived and fist-bumped another person’s virtual hand. I was able to reverse gravity by raising the virtual ground up with two hands and manipulate objects as they floated in zero-gravity.

      Your hands are the ultimate controller for VR.

      Image: raymond wong/mashable

      I felt like a god, making objects out of thin air and hurling them into the air.

      I felt like a god, making objects out of thin air and hurling them into the air.

      All of the objects have physics to them, too. Although, since there’s no haptic feedback, you can’t really get a sense of depth, so for example, when I threw an object, I wasn’t sure how far it would go.

      Still, the ability the touch objects in VR with my real fingers was enough to get me hooked.

      I’m also told the Leap Motion sensor for VR is very low-power and only eats up about 5 percent of a phone’s battery life.

      Despite the short demo, the lag-free hand-tracking was so darn impressive (and didn’t make me nauseous) that I could have spent hours playing with the VR blocks. I genuinely didn’t want to take off the headset.

      Compared to PC-based VR headsets, mobile VR headsets are somewhat handicapped when it comes to controls. Gear VR cleverly integrates a touchpad and DayDream View has a slot to store the touchpad remote, but neither are perfect. It’s tiring to hold your hand up to the headset and you could lose the remote.

      With Leap Motion Mobile Platform, there are no remotes to misplace and your arms don’t get any more fatigued than real life.

      Virtual reality has this stigma of being a very isolated experience; you are, after all, cut off from the outside world. But VR can also be very social, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckeberg demonstrated with the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers at F8 this year.

      Adding realistic hand-tracking to mobile VR is only going to accelerate its social use case, if only because the Leap Motion Mobile Platform doesn’t even need any external cameras (like with the Rift and Vive) for hand-tracking to work. I can already picture a near future where people, millions of miles apart, put on a Leap Motion-equipped Gear VR and enter a virtual forum or playground and play ping pong in VR with nothing but their hands.

      The goal right now is to get VR makers and developers on board with its hand-tracking sensor and software tools. There are certain experiences like shooting games where a physical controller makes more sense and feels more realistic with a trigger and buttons, but for most typical VR experiences, hands are the most natural input and Leap Motion is way ahead of the pack.

      BONUS: People try Google’s new $80 Daydream View VR headset for the first time

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      Visa’s online security can be cracked in as little as six seconds

      Image: PA Wire/PA Images

      In troubling news, a paper from researchers at Newcastle University in the UK claims that Visa’s credit-card payment system can be compromised online in “as little as six seconds.” The security flaw was possibly the point of entry for the cyber-attack on the UK’s Tesco Bank that lost 2.5 million.

      This isn’t some high-level hacking going on here either all it takes for a determined thief to grab a treasure trove full of card data is a laptop with an internet connection and some basic guesswork, the paper says.

      The team of researchers, led by PhD student Mohammed Ali, call the method “the Distributed Guessing Attack.” It’s a simple approach: a thief generates random numbers to guess combinations of card numbers, expiration dates and CVV codes (that three-digit number typically found on the back of the card). The video below demonstrates just how easy it is to generate all of these fields quickly:

      Next, they test their combinations on multiple online payment services one field at a time. Since many websites ask for different variations of data for their payment-entry fields (there’s no minimum security requirement for online vendors), it’s easier to use the process of elimination to find each number individually rather than hoping to nail the set together in one go. According to the paper, there are three levels of data fields used by web merchants: Card Number + Expiry date; Card Number + Expiry date + CVV; Card Number + Expiry date + CVV + Address.

      Image: Newcastle University School of Computing Science

      Bombarding multiple vendors’ sites also allows the thieves to dodge individual site limits on purchase attempts and avoid triggering fraud protection measures.

      … the current online payment system does not detect multiple invalid payment requests from different websites,” said Ali in the news release that accompanied the paper’s publishing in IEEE Security and Privacy. “This allows unlimited guesses on each card data field, using up to the allowed number of attempts typically 10 or 20 guesses on each website.”

      It takes shockingly few attempts to guess the data once the hack is put into motion with an active card number. Most cards are valid for 60 months, so guessing the expiration date takes at most 60 attempts.

      The CVV is a bit more difficult to find, but not by much: the team estimates about 1,000 attempts at most. “Spread this out over 1,000 websites and one will come back verified within a couple of seconds,” Ali said.

      The Newcastle team tested the methods by using their own card data and a bot to carry out the attacks.

      This is a major issue unique to Visa’s security, as the team found that MasterCard’s online fraud protections detected the guessing attack after 10 attempts or fewer, even spread out over multiple sites. That said, only Visa and MasterCard were included in the study, so the jury’s out regarding the safety of other credit card providers from a Distributed Guessing Attack.

      In response to the paper’s revelations, The Guardian reports that a Visa spokesperson was dismissive of much large-scale risk from the vulnerability and placed the responsibility on vendors. They said that Visa is committed to keeping fraud at low levels, and works closely with card issuers and acquirers to make it very difficult to obtain and use cardholder data illegally There are also steps that merchants and issuers can take to thwart brute force attempts.

      Those steps include employing 3D Secure systems like Visa’s “Verified by Visa” technology, which adds extra steps to the online verification process. The paper concluded that sites that employ those measures are protected from the attacks but out of 400 of the internet’s largest retail sites, only 47 had the protections.

      Still, the Visa rep was receptive of the research. Visa welcomes industry and academic efforts to identify and address perceived vulnerabilities in the payment system, they said.

      But consumers are still at risk. According to Dr. Martin Emms, one of the paper’s co-authors, there’s no way to protect from these attacks, only steps to take to limit the damage of a security breach. Only using one card online can help limit risk, along with staying alert for unverified purchases.

      However, the only sure way of not being hacked is to keep your money in the mattress,” he said, “and thats not something Id recommend!

      BONUS: I tried to send 1,000 text messages in a week

      Read more:

      Uber launches new artificial intelligence lab

      All the big tech companies are making a play in artificial intelligence. You can now undoubtedly count Uber among them.

      Uber announced on Monday that it acquired AI startup Geometric Intelligence, which will form the core of its new AI Labs.

      “The formation of Uber AI Labs, to be directed by Geometrics Founding CEO Gary Marcus, represents Ubers commitment to advancing the state of the art, driven by our vision that moving people and things in the physical world can be radically faster, safer and accessible to all,” Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden wrote in a blog post.

      Holden pointed out a few particular problems that AI could help solve, including matching riders for uberPOOL, UberEATS and, of course, self-driving cars and even the flying cars that Uber teased earlier in the year.

      Marcus is a well respected expert in the field of AI, having authored numerous books on the topic and helped create an updated version of the Turing Test, which is used to decipher just how advanced AI has become.

      The price tag on the acquisition was not announced, but Geometric Intelligence’s 15-person team will be joining Uber.

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