Friday, July 22, 2016

The Weird Way Harry Potter Could Affect Your Political Views

Come November, your fiction preferences might have a real-life impact on your choices at the polls. People who have read Harry Potter novels tend to have a lower opinion of Donald Trump, according to a new study-and the more books they've read in the series, the less favorably they view the Republican presidential nominee.

These findings held true regardless of a person's political party, gender, age, level of education, or religious beliefs, says study author Diana Mutz, professor of political science and communication at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication.

The massive popularity of the series, by British author J.K. Rowling, made such research possible; more than 450 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide, and Mutz found that both Republicans and Democrats were equally likely to have read them.

To gauge people's opinions of the controversial businessman-turned-politician, Mutz surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,142 Americans. (In addition to Trump and Harry Potter, she also asked them about hot-button election issues such as waterboarding, the death penalty, and the treatment of Muslims and gay people.)

She found that each book people had read in the fantasy series lowered their evaluations of Trump by about two to three points on a 100-point sale. “This may seem small,” Mutz acknowledged in a press release, “but for someone who has read all seven books, the total impact could lower their estimation of Trump by 18 points out of 100.”

To a lesser extent, Harry Potter readership was also associated with a more positive attitude toward Muslim and gay people, and a more negative one toward questions about the use of torture and killing terrorists.

Mutz believes that the books' message of tolerance and respect for each others' differences may play a key role in influencing readers' political views.

For example, she writes, Harry Potter advocates for oppressed house-elves and opposes the evil Lord Voldemort's quest for “blood purity” among wizards. Trump, on the other hand, has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, and made comments about minorities, including women, Mexicans, and disabled people.

The protagonists in Rowling's books are also reluctant to use violence to settle disputes, she writes, while Trump has supported waterboarding and bombing terrorists' families.

Finally, Mutz writes, “it may simply be too difficult for Harry Potter readers to ignore the similarities between Trump and the power-hungry Voldemort.”

The study will appear in a special election edition of the journal PS: Political Science and Politics. Mutz concludes-with obvious bias of her own-that she's not sure if Harry Potter can “defeat Donald Trump” in this year's election, but that her research raises hope that the values the book preaches could prevail.

“If half-bloods, werewolves and others should be treated with respect and fairness as the Potter stories teach,” she writes, “so too should all human beings.”


This article originally appeared on

Meet Stephanie Nicole, the YouTube Beauty Blogger Who Isn't Afraid to be Honest


Among many notorious beauty bloggers on YouTube these days, Stephanie Nicole could be considered somewhat of an anomaly. Unlike bloggers such as Jaclyn Hill, Jeffree Star, and Manny MUA, who each have more than one million subscribers, Nicole has less than 300,000 subscribers. But that hasn't stopped her from getting a lot of attention and making headlines.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stay Cool This Summer Without an AC

With temperatures reaching into the high 90s and triple digits across the country this week, I want to discuss how you can cool down safely in a heat wave without an air conditioner. Although cooling centers and air conditioners are great options for everyone, sometimes things might not work out as planned and your AC might break down, the store or cooling center might be closed, or there's a regional blackout. When this kind of situation arises, remember to stay hydrated and give these cooling tips a try.

Watch: Dr. Oz's Summertime Sleep Solution

Cook Outdoors or Make No-Cook Recipes

The warmest room in a residence tends to be the kitchen, where heat is generated to cook food. Keep the temperature inside your apartment or house cool by tossing no-cook salads, snacking on no-bake energy bars, or cooking outdoors on your porch or backyard. If you prefer to grill outside, follow this quick and easy grilling guide.

Watch: Gluten-Free Recipes: No Cooking Required!

Set Up Your Fan Strategically

Because hot air rises from the ground up, a ceiling fan isn't your best choice when it comes to indoor room fans. The best place to set up a fan is to use a rotating fan on the floor. Position your fan with its blades across from an open window to create a cross-breeze. Use another fan by the window to vent hot air out as well. For more of a cooling effect, place a bowl of ice next to your floor fan so the fan will blow the rising cool air from the melting ice cubes into the room and bounce off the opposite wall. This will keep cool air circulating inside.

Try Spray Bottles or Wet Cloths and Sheets

Fill a spray bottle with cold water and spritz anytime you need a chill. Dampen a linen or cotton sheet and hang it by an open window to catch any breeze that comes through. You can also keep a wide bucket of water by the foot of a window and hang the sheet so the bottom portion touches the water. As the water evaporates and travels up the sheet, any breeze that passes through will feel cool. To cool down your skin, wet a cloth with cold or chilled water to use as a cold compress in a pinch.

Watch: Your Most Embarrassing Summer Questions

Turn Off Electronics

Powering down any non-essential electronics is just one small but significant way to keep additional hot air from circulating. Shut down anything not being used or that doesn't need to be turned on like power strips, electric equipment like computers and televisions, and electric lights.

Use Awnings, Window Blinds, Curtains, or Shades

If you're not near tree shade, use awnings for an artificial covering. When you're indoors, keep blinds, curtains or shades drawn to reduce the amount of solar heat that enters through open windows. Look for thermal curtains or shades and give your windows a checkup to see if they're energy-efficient. You can keep windows open for air circulation but try to leave half the window covered so you don't get the maximum sun exposure you would get otherwise. If nighttime hours are cooler, open windows and doors to let the cool air inside.

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These New Dyes Make Rainbow Hair Easier to Pull Off Than Ever


I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to my hair. Cuts have always consisted of a trim, and highlights are the extent of my color experience. Don't get me wrong-I've always wanted to do something drastic, like dye my hair superdark or get a bob, but it never felt right. Or maybe I just don't like change. Either way, when Matrix reached out to me about dyeing my hair with its new Color Sync Watercolors-a line of crazy-colored, ammonia-free dyes-I barely gave it a second thought. Do I really want blue hair all summer long? Negative. But then Matrix explained that these colors-moss green, sapphire blue, berry violet, quartz pink, and coral peach-are demipermanent, meaning they last only for 20 shampoos or approximately six weeks. That meant I could go pink or purple for July, and by August, for my friend's wedding, I could be back to my safe shade of blonde.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Peter Copping to Leave Oscar de la Renta


Peter Copping, the creative director of Oscar de la Renta, is leaving the brand after less than two years at helm.

The news was confirmed Wednesday afternoon by Alex Bolen, the chief executive of the brand (and de la Renta's son-in-law). In a statement released by the brand, the British-born designer said, "After almost two years at Oscar de la Renta, personal circumstances require me to return to Europe. I have loved my time in New York where I hope to return at some point in the future."

Walmart Unveils New Lines Of Ugly Apples And Potatoes

Walmart has started to see the beauty in ugly produce.

The nation's largest grocer announced a new initiative on Tuesday to sell “ugly” apples in 300 Florida stores, according to a blog from the company. Beginning in May, the company also started selling misshapen potatoes that would have otherwise been wasted in and around Texas.

These are the first initiatives from the company to sell produce specifically branded as ugly or imperfect on its packaging in the U.S, Walmart spokesperson John Forrest Ales told HuffPost.

“What's different now is that we're having potatoes and apples of this grade on the shelf with the branding,” Ales said. “This is the first time the suppliers have come up with brands that are related to selling ugly produce.”

Ales says Walmart has been selling “so-called ugly produce” for years ― putting imperfectly sized avocados and corn, or over-ripe Roma tomatoes, on shelves. He also said a certain amount of sales of over- or under-sized produce is “pretty common across the grocery industry.”  

But food activists say they are looking for more radical changes from major grocery chains, such as large-scale programs to sell ugly produce and educate customers.

Food waste is a serious problem in the U.S.: Up to 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, according to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some of the food is composted or turned into animal feed, but most of it winds up in landfills, according to the organization.

A significant contributor to the problem is grocery chains rejecting produce because it does not meet standards for ideal size, shape or appearance, according to the U.N's Food and Agriculture Organization.  

In the U.S., as much as 30 percent of all apples and pears grown “don't make the cut” for cosmetic reasons, according to Walmart's blog.

A recent study from the Guardian paints even starker numbers: half of all produce grown in the U.S. may be discarded because it's bruised, misshapen, oddly sized or has some other non-threatening deformity.

Walmart's new initiatives will make some strides against food waste by bringing potatoes that are “less than perfect” to more than 400 stores across Texas and nearby states, and “ugly apples” to around 300 stores in Florida.

Both items will be sold to customers in bundles at a lower price per pound than traditional potatoes or apples would be, according to Ales.

While the two initiatives are a step in the right direction for Walmart, activists ― and consumers ― say they want to see more from the nation's largest grocer.

On Wednesday, food waste activist Jordan Figueiredo hand-delivered a petition to Walmart with more than 143,000 signatures demanding that the grocery chain do more to combat the country's food waste crisis. 

The Huffington Post has been supporting the effort since the launch of its Reclaim editorial campaign.

“If produce fails to make the grade for size, shape, or color, retailers deem it 'ugly' and refuse to sell it in their stores,” the petition reads. “Tell [Walmart] to add the 'uglies' to their store aisles so you can save money, fight hunger and help the environment all in one.”  

Walmart's stores in the U.K. have made more progress than those in the U.S. to sell ugly produce.

Asda, Walmart's U.K. grocery chain, began selling boxes of “wonky” vegetables earlier this year, for about 30 percent off regular prices. The program proved so successful, the company expanded the offer from 250 to 550 stores in March.  

Now activists in the United States are hoping Walmart will do the same in the U.S., selling ugly vegetables in its more than 5,000 stores nationwide.

Ales said the ability to sell ugly produce isn't entirely in Walmart's hands, as the amount of ugly produce growers have available can be dependent on external factors like the weather.

There are a number of factors that impact whether a harvest yields so-called 'ugly' produce, including Mother Nature,” Ales said. “When this type of produce is available, we look for ways to provide value for our customers and a return for growers.”

But activists say that weather-affected produce only represent a fraction of the total amount of cosmetically imperfect produce rejected by grocery stores.

“While this is another good step, it's still just a couple items,” Figueiredo told the Huffington Post via email. “[Walmart's ugly potatoes and apples] are also weather-blemished, which is not consistently happening like most 'ugly' produce is: Weather blemished is a one-off thing that happens here and there.”

What the activists are looking for, according to Figueiredo, is a large-scale program selling all types of 'ugly' produce ― too small, too large, misshapen, off-color ― derived from the “massive amount of produce” going to waste on farms due to cosmetic standards. They point to what Walmart has done in the U.K., with its Wonky Veg Box, as a good example.

But Ales says Walmart has no national plans to sell ugly produce in the U.S:

“We don't have any current nationwide plans at this time,” Ales told The Huffington Post. “We do not have specific goals for ugly produce. We're watching ASDA closely, we brought these two initiatives forward and are continuing to look at new possibilities. There's always more we can be doing.”

More stories like this:

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Florida Zika Case Could Be First Local Transmission In U.S.

(Reuters) - Florida health officials said on Tuesday they are investigating a case of Zika virus infection that does not appear to have stemmed from travel to another region with an outbreak.

The statement from the Florida Department of Health did not specify whether the Zika case was believed to have been transmitted via mosquito bite, sexual contact or other means.

The department said the case was reported in Miami-Dade County and that it is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on an epidemiological study.

The department also reiterated guidance to Florida residents on protecting themselves from mosquitoes that may carry the virus.

“Zika prevention kits and repellant will be available for pickup ... and distributed in the area under investigation,” the health department said in a statement. “Mosquito control has already conducted reduction and prevention activities in the area of investigation.”

Zika, which can cause a rare birth defect and other neurological conditions, has spread rapidly through the Americas. A small number of cases of Zika transmitted between sexual partners have also been documented.

There has yet to be a case of local transmission by mosquitoes in the continental United States, though more than 1,300 people in the country have reported infections after traveling to a Zika outbreak area.

U.S. officials have predicted local outbreaks to begin as the weather warms, particularly in southern states such as Florida and Texas.

(Reporting by Michele Gershberg in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Bernard Orr)

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