Newest Threat to Mental Health: Christmas Music

Are you one of those people that can’t stand hearing Christmas songs months before the holiday actually arrives? Does hearing festive carols weeks before Thanksgiving only make you upset that you haven’t eaten your turkey yet? A psychologist in Great Britain says your reactions don’t make you a Grinch because too much Christmas music is actually bad for your mental health.

Clinical psychologist Linda Blair claims the constant barrage of Christmas tunes too early in the season forces people to remember all the things they have to do before the holiday. Blair says the songs are a reminder to buy presents, cater parties, organize travel, and all the more stressful chores during Christmas. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing,” Blair tells Sky News.

The psychologist added that store workers are most at risk for being worn down by the catchy beats. She states that hearing the same songs over and over each day make workers struggle to “tune it out” and they become “unable to focus on anything else.” “Christmas music is likely to irritate people if it’s played too loudly and too early,” Blair explained to reporters.

(Read more from “Newest Threat to Mental Health: Christmas Music” HERE)

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Hepatitis A Outbreak Continues to Grow

Though the case count in San Diego’s ongoing hepatitis A outbreak increased again Monday, officials said that the number of new infections continues to slow.

In a presentation to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, showed a chart that indicated there were 31 cases in October, significantly fewer than the 81 reported in September and 94 in August which saw the largest total of the outbreak so far . . .

The latest update bumped the outbreak’s case total to 544, eight more than the 536 reported last week. The number of deaths did not increase, remaining at 20 after one new death was reported last week.

Though the county has been providing weekly case, death and hospitalization updates, there has been some confusion, even among the Board of Supervisors, about what those numbers really mean. (Read more from “Hepatitis A Outbreak Continues to Grow” HERE)

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Mom Strapped Son to the Roof of Minivan to Hold Down Plastic Pool

A 28-year-old Wisconsin mother is accused of taking her son for a very dangerous ride — on top of the family minivan — in order to hold down a plastic pool, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

Amber Schmunk of Fredonia is charged with second degree recklessly endangering safety and could face up to 10 years in prison for the Sept. 9 incident, according to the complaint obtained by FOX6.

Authorities were initially called after receiving a report of a child riding on top of a minivan holding a plastic pool.

The complaint obtained by FOX6 said the 28-year-old eventually pulled over and took her son off the roof, folded the pool up and put it into the van before pulling into her sister’s driveway.

After police arrived at the sister’s house, Schmunk said she “believed it was OK as her father let her do things like that when she was that age,” the complaint said. (Read more from “Mom Strapped Son to the Roof of Minivan to Hold Down Plastic Pool” HERE)

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53-Year-Old Nuclear Missile Accident Revealed

Bob Hicks was spending a cold December night in his barracks 53 years ago at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City when the phone rang.

It was the chief of his missile maintenance team, who dispatched Hicks to an incident at an underground silo.

“The warhead,” the team chief said, “is no longer on top of the missile.”

Hicks eventually learned that a screwdriver used by another airman caused a short circuit that resulted in an explosion. The blast popped off the missile’s cone — the part containing the thermonuclear warhead — and sent it on a 75-foot fall to the bottom of the 80-foot-deep silo.

The courageous actions Hicks took that night and over the next several days were not publicized. The accident was not disclosed to the public until years later, when a government report on accidents with nuclear weapons included seven sentences about it. The report listed the accident as the nation’s first involving a Minuteman missile. (Read more from “53-Year-Old Nuclear Missile Accident Revealed” HERE)

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Black Death Warnings as Plague Spreads

Health experts are warning there is “something different” about a new Black Death outbreak spreading across the world.

Some 1,300 cases of the pneumonic plague, which is transmitted by air, have now been confirmed.

An estimated 50 million lives were lost as a result of the Black Death epidemic of the 1300s.

And now the deadly disease has spread into more African countries after taking root in Madagascar.

Countries affected include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Comoros, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion. (Read more from “Black Death Warnings as Plague Spreads” HERE)

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Out of the Broom Closet: Witches Coming ‘out’ in DC

To celebrate Samhain, a Wiccan festival that falls on the evening of Oct. 31, Washington, D.C. resident Elizabeth Stephens usually prepares a pot of jambalaya to honor her late grandmother and a plate of roast beef in memory of her parents. She marks the festival with witches and fellow Wiccans, who offer their own dishes as a part of the day’s feast. The table they set becomes patterned with platters that were the favorites of family members and friends.

As a part of the celebration, a black cloth is held above the heads of the attendees and cut with a knife through the center, representing an opening between the spirit and material worlds. After some time has passed, participants encourage the spirits to return to their realm and the cut in the cloth is sewn.

Images of witches being veiled in darkness, casting spells over cauldrons endure, but a new generation of Wiccans and witches have established growing communities in D.C. and across the country.

Like other Wiccans and witches, Stephens has come “out of the broom closet” — a term that refers to publicly revealing one’s beliefs as a Wiccan or witch. They are fighting back against misinformation about Wiccans and witches. (Read more from “Out of the Broom Closet: Witches Coming ‘out’ in DC” HERE)

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Commit a Crime? Your Fitbit, Key Fob or Pacemaker Could Snitch on You

The firefighter found Richard Dabate on the floor of his kitchen, where he had made a desperate 911 call minutes earlier, court records show. Bleeding and lashed to a chair with zip ties, the man moaned a chilling warning: “They’re still in the house.”

Smoke hung in the air, and a trail of blood led to a darkened basement, as Connecticut State Police swarmed the large home in the Hartford suburbs two days before Christmas in 2015.

Richard, 41, told authorities a masked intruder with a “Vin Diesel” voice killed his wife, Connie, in front of him and tortured him. Police combed the home and town of Ellington but found no suspect.

With no witnesses other than Richard Dabate, detectives turned to the vast array of data and sensors that increasingly surround us. An important bit of evidence came from an unlikely source: the Fitbit tracking Connie’s movements.

Others from the home’s smart alarm systems, Facebook, cellphones, email and a key fob allowed police to re-create a nearly minute-by-minute account of the morning that they said revealed Richard’s story was an elaborately staged fiction. (Read more from “Commit a Crime? Your Fitbit, Key Fob or Pacemaker Could Snitch on You” HERE)

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Robots Are Replacing Fast Food Workers at New Shake Shack

It’s the future of fast food bytes in the Big Apple.

Robots will replace humans and cash won’t be accepted at a soon-to-open Shake Shack in the East Village, reps for the popular burger chain said Monday.

Customers will place orders via an app and at touch-screen kiosks inside the restaurant, which is scheduled to open an Astor Place branch later this month, according to company CEO Randy Garutti.

Workers dubbed “hospitality champs” will guide diners through possible tech glitches as they place orders at the kiosks, which only accept credit cards. (Read more from “Robots Are Replacing Fast Food Workers at New Shake Shack” HERE)

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Mystery in Salt Lake City: Where Have Hundreds of Homeless People Gone?

The streets around Salt Lake City’s downtown emergency shelter have long been home to hundreds of homeless people. In recent weeks, though, nearly all seem to have vanished following a police operation. Local residents are mystified as to where they’ve gone.

The Salt Lake City police chief, Mike Brown, said he had visited parks and the Jordan river, which threads its way to the Great Salt Lake and has homeless camps dotted along its banks, but he hadn’t seen an influx from downtown. Sgt Brandon Shearer has been up in a police helicopter looking for camps and seemed equally perplexed when asked where the people had gone. “I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a good question.”

Advocates, for their part, fear a humanitarian crisis is brewing.

The unfolding drama is all the more remarkable considering that several years ago, national media reports published claims by Utah that it had “won the war” on homelessness there, at least when it came to housing those who had been outside the longest. Jon Stewart ran a laudatory piece titled “The homeless homed”. But the picture wasn’t quite that simple.

While the country’s most prominent homeless crises are in coastal cities – New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles – the mountain-ringed capital of the Mormon church has also long struggled to house or, in the view of some, has politely ignored its homeless population. The Republican legislature in Utah is fond of the philosophy of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and struggling not-for-profit groups pick up the slack when it comes to homelessness funding. (Read more from “Mystery in Salt Lake City: Where Have Hundreds of Homeless People Gone?” HERE)

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With IPhone’s New FaceID, Cops Can Unlock Your Phone by Pointing at Your Face—While You’re Cuffed

On Tuesday, the world watched as Apple unveiled their tenth-anniversary special edition iPhone, the iPhone X. While iPhone boasts a newer more secure phone—using its patented new facial recognition system—Internet sleuths were quick to point out the ominous implications behind the new tech.

As RT reports, the iPhone X replaces the iconic “home” button, featured on all previous versions, with a new “TrueDepth camera system.” A little black bar at the top of the phone contains several sensors, cameras, and even a dot projector that all work together to create a mathematical 3D model of the owner’s face.

However, there are some ways this technology can actually be used against you.

Imagine for a moment, you are one of the countless individuals who just filmed a gruesome act of police brutality. Many of those countless individuals, as TFTP has frequently reported, have found themselves subject to unlawful detainment and illegal search and seizure as cops attempt to erase any evidence of their wrongdoing. Now, imagine that the only thing standing in the way of a coverup of an innocent person being killed by police is the password on your phone to protect the video from police deleting it.

A secure phone, at this moment, is the only thing that can protect the documented evidence of criminal behavior. Luckily—for the police—if you have a new iPhone X, all they theoretically need to do is to handcuff you and point it at your face. Now they have access to all of your private information.

Think police won’t try to delete your video? Think again.

Just last week, in an exclusive report, TFTP exposed a case of alleged deleted evidence in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, after a police officer killed a deaf electrical engineer. A security guard said he watched and filmed police kill Josh Cloud—an account which differs greatly from the official story—and he was detained and his video deleted.

Had his phone been locked and had the security guard resisted alleged police pressure to confiscate his phone, evidence of a police murder may still exist. However, if he had an iPhone X, even if he would’ve resisted, they need only point it at his face.

“With the iPhone X, your iPhone is locked until you look at it and it recognizes you. Nothing has ever been more simple, natural and effortless,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing said in his keynote speech Tuesday. “This is the future of how we’ll unlock our smartphones and protect our sensitive information.”

However, as many have pointed out, this simplicity is the device’s potential downfall.

This abuse, as Snowden points out, can come in many forms.

While some folks expressed concern that the iPhone X will allow someone to unlock your iPhone while you sleep, Apple directly countered that claim, noting that the feature will only work when the user looks at the device with their eyes open. Schiller also explained that FaceID will recognize a user even when they change their hairstyle, put on glasses, wear a hat or change their appearance in other ways—perhaps when an unconscious person has their eyes pulled open.

The good news, however, is that while this technology has these ominous implications for abuse, it is far more secure than any of the previous devices. According to Schiller, the Touch ID had a false unlock rate of one in 50,000, whereas the new FaceID only had an error rate of one in 1 million.

Apple also has an extensive history of resisting the police state attempts at creating back doors to their technology. Just last year, in a landmark case, Apple refused to help the government break the law and allow for the various spy agencies to monitor iPhone users with a special decryption key for the State.

Had the government successfully forced Apple into unlocking the phone or creating a backdoor to their encryption, experts in the technology field warned that this could be the end of privacy as we know it. For now, however, privacy is still winning—that is, until we see the first case of police unlocking an iPhone X by pointing at a handcuffed person’s face. (For more from the author of “With IPhone’s New FaceID, Cops Can Unlock Your Phone by Pointing at Your Face—While You’re Cuffed” please click HERE)

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