File photo: The logo of Verizon is seen at a retail store in San Diego, California April 21, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
Verizon is making it both cheaper and more expensive to buy a new phone with the carrier. It all depends on how you choose to purchase.
As CNET reports, starting tomorrow the upgrade and activation fees for purchases completed in stores or over the phone are increasing from $30 to $40. Verizon sees this as offering a “full service experience” and therefore warrants the additional cost for anyone who wants that experience.
If you balk at the idea of paying the extra $10, Verizon is one step ahead of you. Deciding to purchase online or using the My Verizon app used to cost $30, but that’s being reduced to $20 from tomorrow.
Clearly, Verizon is trying to encourage online upgrades which require less resources and therefore are cheaper for the company to carry out. Online activations can also be handled much more quickly, therefore increasing the number of customers and therefore fees that can be grabbed each day.
If you were planning an in-store or over the phone purchase with Verizon today, it’s going to be cheaper to wait until tomorrow and do it online instead. If you must do it using the “full service experience” then do it today before the fees increase.
I first started growing facial hair when I was 12, about two years after I began menstruating. I was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital, where I was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. When I was diagnosed, I basically had all of the symptoms they were looking for except for multiple ovarian cysts.
As an adult, a spinal X-ray showed I have a dermoid cyst, which has teeth inside of it. These types of cysts are benign and basically harmless unless they grow large enough to twist and rupture. Some believe they are the remains of twins that were absorbed in utero.
It didn’t take long for my mother to subject me to a variety of hair removal methods. I was forced to put up with plucking, bleaching, depilatories and waxing. My skin is sensitive, and it hurt. By her reasoning, I was already a fat kid, and she didn’t want me to be made fun of, so the hair removal or camouflage was necessary. My opinion on the matter was irrelevant to her.
It had never even occurred to me to be self-conscious about my facial hair until my mother had worn me down and told me how worthless my natural body was. It was the same way with both the hair and my weight. I wanted a chance to just let the hair be, but my mother and stepfather bullied me so much that I developed deep anxiety issues. It would have made me laugh if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.
She claimed that everything she did was out of love and that she just wanted me to be safe and not be treated badly by my peers, but instead she was one of my first bullies and certainly the one who has done the most damage to me over the course of my life. Sometimes I would cry and beg her to just stop. I actually had daydreams of running off and finding a circus where I could be a bearded lady in relative peace, because a part of me knew that there was nothing wrong with my body and no one had a right to mistreat me.
It had never even occurred to me to be self-conscious about my facial hair until my mother had worn me down and told me how worthless my natural body was.
I left home at 15, after my parents learned that I was queer and went ballistic. It was just the last straw for me. We had a complicated relationship because I was still a kid who hadn’t had a chance to learnhowto grow up, despite being forced to grow up too quickly. I kept in touch for far longer than I should have, though we would sometimes go long periods without communicating.
Even away from my mother’s forced depilation and my stepfather’s mocking because I wasn’t feminine enough ― he even mocked me as a teenager for not shaving my legs or armpits ― it had already been deeply ingrained in me that allowing my facial hair to grow was shameful. I could ignore them when it came to my body hair. I was attracted to women with body hair. There were plenty of them in the punk and riot girl scenes. I could see how that was just a bullshit patriarchal standard of beauty. But they got to me early with my facial hair.
Even when I was living on the street, I’d find a bathroom to shave in, or I would lie down with my head in my best friend’s lap and she’d pluck the hairs for me. That was one of the most intimate, kindest rituals that I have ever shared with anyone.
My mother actually never really explained PCOS to me. It was like this dirty secret. I was prescribed birth control pills at 12 to help regulate my periods and lessen the hair growth. I knew that my hair growth was caused by my hormone levels being off, but that was it. And I was constantly made fun of for being fat, by my family and even strangers, but I don’t recall anyone ever explaining to me as a teenager that this different hormonal profile I had was the reason that it was incredibly easy for me to gain weight and nearly impossible for me to lose it unless I was literally starving myself or exercising for eight hours a day.
I didn’t truly know or understand what was actually going on with my body until I went to see an endocrinologist in my mid-20s. She diagnosed me with PCOS once again. Now I knew that there was a connection between my hormonal profile, my weight issues and so many other symptoms that I deal with on a regular basis. The next time I talked to my mother, I was excited to share with her the fact that there was actually a name for what I perceived asthe thing that was wrong with me. She simply said, “I know. That’s what they told us at Children’s Hospital.”
The shame, pain and rashes that came along with plucking and shaving my face went on for nearly 26 years. Because it was ingrained in me so early on that my natural hair was not OK, I shaved my face daily, or every other day. The rate of growth fluctuated based on whether I had access to health care and hormones. If there was a knock on the door and I had to answer it unexpectedly before I’d showered, I would be horrified. My heart would jump into my throat, and I’d start panicking. If I had to risk running into people to get the mail or run to a corner store for something, I’d wear a scarf wrapped around my neck. Even then, I’d be completely paranoid and anxious that the scarf would slip or someone would see my stubbly sideburns. I felt like everyone around me could see and was staring at my facial hair.
Along with other trauma that I experienced at a young age, this high level of anxiety led me to self-medicate with alcohol for over a decade, from when I’d left home until I was in my mid- to late 20s. I just couldn’t handle the immense pressure that I felt to hide natural pieces of myself. I will be eternally grateful to my spouse for gently convincing me that I was better off without the booze and helping me to make a lot of progress in dealing with my trauma through honest self-examination and just allowing myself to process experiences and emotions that I’d swallowed and buried for years.
I was about to turn 38 when I finally stopped shaving and allowed my beard to grow last fall. I’d first tried nearly a year prior, but between food sensitivities and medication side effects, I was shocked that my first attempt was really weird and scraggly. I tried to just be proud of having tried, but I was pretty heartbroken to start shaving again.
When I’d adjusted my diet to accommodate my food sensitivities and stopped taking the meds I was prescribed, which were giving me awful side effects and also lessened the hair growth, my second attempt was much more successful.
I was almost 38 when I finally stopped shaving and allowed my beard to grow last fall. I was very quickly amazed by how confident I felt, just being myself and not caring what others thought.
I was very quickly amazed by how confident I felt, just being myself and not caring what others thought. All I had to do was stop shaving and let go of the shame that had been instilled in me at such a young age. I didn’t think that it would happen so quickly or effortlessly. It’s amazing how human beings flourish when we are allowed to simply be our authentic selves.
I started actively seeking out and connecting with other bearded women. Many of them talk about how they embrace their beards as part of their femininity, how their facial hair is in itself feminine. I have so much love and respect for all of them and their messages, and I’d always admired the few women I encountered who embraced their facial hair the way that I’d wished I could when I was younger. But that didn’t resonate with me at all. I started thinking about my literal androgyny and about how I’d always embraced androgynous people and concepts. I began to think of myself as nonbinary, but I was afraid to say it out loud.
I was afraid that people I loved and respected would think that I was appropriating an identity that didn’t belong to me, simply because I wasn’tonlyfemale ― but no part of me had ever felt male. Instead, I range from female to androgynous and places in between, depending on the moment. I am a trinity of female, androgynous and genderqueer. Realizing this and sharing it with others has made me feel like I’m being truly open with myself and the world for the first time, and it feels amazing. All I had to do was stop hiding a piece of myself that I’d felt forced to deny since I was a child.
Recognizing and embracing my own identity has been so powerful. Even though I cut ties with my mother seven years ago, I have made a chosen family over the years. Their love and support for me don’t waver based on how much or how little facial or body hair I have. They don’t criticize me for my weight or for chasing my dreams that don’t fit society’s narrow definitions of ”normal”or ”acceptable.”
Bri Crofton “I range from female to androgynous and places in between, depending on the moment.”
While most people have been really lovely, some people have been positively awful, of course. It’s usually men who stare angrily at me, visibly trying to figure out what I am and whether I am somehow a threat to their identity when I’m just standing in line somewhere or trying to shop for groceries. Though none of these people have actually approached me, I’ve started carrying pepper spray as a result of how unsafe they’ve made me feel in those rare moments. Of course, there are the internet trolls, but there are always internet trolls wherever people are being brave and vulnerable.
The unfortunate thing that has occurred, however, is the fact that there is a subsection of mostly straight cisgender women, including many with PCOS, who seem to only be able to find it within themselves to attempt to shame and belittle me when they come across my story. Some simply can’t seem to stop themselves from offering unwanted hair removal advice in response to my posts celebrating my beard and promoting self-love.
I began this journey of putting myself out there with the hope of helping to normalize women’s facial hair, after being inspired to finally stop shaving by the stories other bearded women were telling. It never even occurred to me that I might become someone else’s inspiration, but when I started receiving feedback from bearded women, including trans women who choose to keep their facial hair, and from genderqueer folks with whom my story has resonated, it shifted my entire perspective.
Then I met Kate Bornstein, who has been a nonbinary trans trailblazer for decades. I’ve written elsewhere about how moved I was by her presence and grace, but the one thing that stood out to me more than anything else was her explanation of the Buddhist definition of eloquence: “How much of the easing of suffering you affect with the telling of a truth, that is how eloquent you were.” I wept in the audience. Suddenly, I felt like there was a greater purpose to all of this. If I can be the voice that I needed to hear for so long, as the bearded woman or the less obvious but still valid genderqueer person, then I’m doing something right. The people who need to hear my voice will find me.
It’s been seven months since I finally found the courage to stop shaving my face and let my beard grow out. In that time, I have been amazed at how much happier and more confident I have become. People who have known me for years comment regularly about the fact that they’ve never seen me so bright, joyful and unapologetically myself.
Have a compelling first-person story you want to share? Send your story description to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LONDON – Official figures show that inflation in Britain unexpectedly held steady in March, with economists suggesting that Brexit uncertainty prompted retailers to keep prices lower than would otherwise have been the case.
The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that consumer prices were up 1.9 percent in the year to March. Most economists had expected inflation to rise slightly to 2 percent, which is the Bank of England’s target rate.
The figures suggest that rising uncertainty related to Britain’s exit from the European Union during the month may have contributed to the slightly lower outcome. Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29 but it was postponed as Parliament failed to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Britain now has a new Oct. 31 deadline.
Beyonce surprised fans with a trailer for her new Netflix documentary about her iconic Coachella performance called “Homecoming.” USA Today
No one runs a tighter ship than Beyoncé.
In an age of constant social media oversharing, there are never any leaks from the pop star’s camp. She does no press. When Bey wants to get away from the spotlight, she all but disappears.
And so, in the months before she became the first black woman to headline the Coachella music festival last year, no one knew Beyoncé was ditching convention to put on a massive, two-hour tribute to HBCUs and black Greek life, complete with a custom pyramid stage, a killer drumline and roughly 100 dancers.
And she did it all less than a year after giving birth to her twins with Jay-Z, a boy and girl named Sir and Rumi.
How did she do it? In Netflix’s new concert film “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” – released Wednesday along with a surprise Coachella live album of the same name – it’s revealed exactly how she pulled off Beychella and what the superstar’s life is like as a new mom of three. Here are five things you need to know.
Bey had an ‘extremely difficult’ pregnancy with the twins
In “Homecoming,” which runs two hours and 17 minutes, Beyoncé opens up about how difficult her pregnancy with the twins was, sharing intimate shots of her expanding belly and the twins’ birth.
“I had an extremely difficult pregnancy,” Beyoncé says, revealing she suffered from toxemia, high blood pressure and preeclampsia. As she neared her due date in June 2017, when one of the twins’ heartbeats dipped, she underwent an emergency C-section. “My body went through more than I knew it could,” she says.
Getting back into shape after the twins was seriously grueling
Sharing footage her jittery first rehearsal post-birth, Beyoncé keeps it real in the documentary. “I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth,” she says. Ten months later she emerged at Coachella in amazing form, but the documentary disproves the notion that any of it was easy. “I had to rebuild my body from cut muscles” after her C-section, she says. And the whole time “my mind wanted to be with the babies,” she says. “What people don’t see is the sacrifice.”
To get in Coachella shape, Beyoncé ate no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish and drank no alcohol. “And I’m hungry,” she admits in the film, snacking on an apple. Then, the payoff: a month before the show, an all-too-relatable moment arrives when the pop star tries on an old costume. “Big deal! It zipped!” she exclaims, Facetiming Jay-Z to show him.
Flower crowns were never an option
Beyoncé knows the rep of desert festival all too well. “When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella,” she says. Beyoncé says she “always dreamed of going to an HBCU, but instead, “my college was Destiny’s Child and traveling around the world and life was my teacher.”
To achieve the scope of the collegiate-focused show, Beyoncé prepped the music design of Beychella for four months before an additional four months of dance rehearsals even started. “Homecoming” shares her prayer with the crew: “I ask that we’re able to touch people and give them hope. And make people feel beautiful and strong, and united.”
Blue Ivy steals the show
From attending dance rehearsals and miming mom’s choreography to sweetly singing an a cappella version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Blue Ivy, Bey and Jay’s firstborn, is the pint-size star of “Homecoming.” “I want to do that again. It feels good!” Blue says after singing the Black National Anthem. And when you see her little bun pop up front-row at Coachella as she cheers on her mom? The heart, it melts!
No detail was too small
There was no detail of the show the “super-specific” Beyoncé didn’t touch, including the patches on her dancers’ Balmain costumes.
She was equally adamant about sound quality. At one point, the show’s stomps and drumline beats just weren’t translating past the stage, frustrating the headliner at a rehearsal. “Until I see some of my notes come alive, it doesn’t make sense for me to make more,” she says plainly in a team meeting. At that point, Bey excuses herself to go have an anniversary dinner with Jay, who sits beside her. Jay grins exiting with his boss wife. “OK guys,” he salutes with a grin.
PARIS (AP) — Nearly $1 billion in donations have poured in for the vast restoration of the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral — but a pledge by French President Emmanuel Macron that it will be completed within five years was facing accusations of being wildly off track.
Macron said the renovations to restore iconic 19th century spire, vaulting and two-thirds of the cathedral’s roof would be completed in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“We will rebuild the cathedral to be even more beautiful and I want it to be finished within five years,” Macron said.
Experts have said, however, that the ambitious timeline appears insufficient for such a massive operation. Even French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe — while supporting the government timeline — acknowledged in an address Wednesday that it would be difficult.
“This is obviously an immense challenge, a historic responsibility,” Philippe said.
Prominent French conservation architect Pierluigi Pericolo told Inrocks magazine it could take triple that time.
“No less than 15 years … it’s a colossal task,” Pericolo said.
Pericolo worked on the restoration of the 19th century Saint-Donatien basilica, which was badly damaged by fire in 2015 in the French city of Nantes. He said it could take between “two to five years” just to check the stability of the massive cathedral that dominates the Paris skyline.
“It’s a fundamental step, and very complex, because it’s difficult to send workers into a monument whose vaulted ceilings are swollen with water,” Pericolo told France-Info. “The end of the fire doesn’t mean the edifice is totally saved. The stone can deteriorate when it is exposed to high temperatures and change its mineral composition and fracture inside.”
The comments came as Notre Dame’s rector said he would close the once-functioning cathedral for up “five to six years,” acknowledging that “a segment” of the near 900-year-old edifice may be gravely weakened.
The questions over the timeline came as nearly $1 billion has poured in from ordinary worshippers and high-powered magnates around the world. Contributions came from near and far, rich and poor — from Apple and magnates who own L’Oreal, Chanel and Dior, to Catholic parishioners and others from small towns and cities around France and the world.
Experts have put this in the threshold of realism — estimating the restoration would cost into to the hundreds of millions, although they acknowledge it is too early to be certain.
Presidential cultural heritage envoy Stephane Bern told broadcaster France-Info on Wednesday that 880 million euros ($995 million) has been raised in just a day and a half since the fire.
The French government was gathering donations and setting up a special office to deal with big-ticket offers.
Some criticism has already surfaced among those in France who say the money could be better spent elsewhere, on smaller struggling churches or workers.
Philippe said a competition will be held to see if the spire should be rebuilt.
“The international competition will allow for the question to be asked, should the spire be rebuilt?” he said. “Should we rebuild the spire envisaged and built by Viollet-le-Duc under the same conditions … (or) give Notre Dame a new spire adapted to the technologies and the challenges of our times?”
Construction operations around the church were already underway as teams brought in a huge crane and delivered planks of wood to the site Wednesday morning. Firefighters were still examining the damage and shoring up the structure after Monday night’s fire collapsed the spire and destroyed swathes of the cathedral’s lead roof.
Macron is holding a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday dedicated to the Notre Dame disaster, which investigators believe was an accident possibly linked to renovation work.
But Paris prosecutor’s office revealed that investigators have still not been able to look inside the cathedral, as it remains perilous.
THOMAS SAMSON via Getty Images
Local Paris merchants whose livelihoods depend on Notre Dame tourism are now worried about their own futures after the devastation.
The island that houses the cathedral has been closed to the public since Monday’s fire, and its residents evacuated. It’s literally the nucleus of Paris — all distances in France are measured from the esplanade in front of Notre Dame.
Patrick Lejeune, president of the Notre Dame neighborhood merchants association said the group’s 150 employees fear for the future.
“No one is talking about us,” he said. Bustling streets are now “totally closed. I don’t have access to my office.”
He also expressed concern for the stability of the cathedral and its central rose window. Its spire collapsed and roof was destroyed in the fire.
Bells will toll at cathedrals around France on Wednesday evening in honor of the monument. Remarkably, no one was killed in the fire, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated the site during a Mass.
Some 30 people have already been questioned in the investigation, which the Paris prosecutor warned would be “long and complex.” Among those questioned are workers at the five construction companies involved in work renovating the church spire and roof that had been underway when the fire broke out.
Despite the damage, much was saved from Monday’s inferno after a plan to safeguard the masterpieces and relics was quickly put into action.
The Crown of Thorns, regarded as Notre Dame’s most sacred relic, was among the treasures quickly transported after the fire broke out, authorities said. Brought to Paris by King Louis IX in the 13th century, it is purported to have been pressed onto Christ’s head during the crucifixion.
The cathedral’s famous 18th-century organ that boasts more than 8,000 pipes also survived. Some of the paintings and other art works are being dehumidified, protected and eventually restored at the Louvre.
2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was confronted by a voter at a town hall on Tuesday about his charitable giving, after recently released tax returns showed he and his wife gave away a tiny fraction of their income.
The filings show the couple had given $1,166 to charity in 2017 despite having a combined income of $370,412, which calculates to roughly one-third of 1 percent of their income. According to The Washington Post’s James Hohmann, that places O’Rourke last among the 2020 candidates competing in the Democratic primaries.
According to Post correspondent Jenna Johnson, a student who attended the town hall at the University of Virginia asked the former Texas representative why her sister, who was a recent college graduate, donated more to charity while making much less than he and his wife.
O’Rourke responded by saying he does his best to give back to communities, but noted that some of the ways he gives back are “immeasurable.”
“I’ve served in public office since 2005. I do my best to contribute to the success of my community, of my state, and now, of my country. There are ways that I do this that are measurable and there are ways that I do this that are immeasurable. There are charities that we donate to that we’ve recorded and itemized, others that we have donated to that we have not.”
He went on to suggest that his attendance at that town hall, being away from his family, was itself a charitable act.
“I’m doing everything that I can right now, spending this time with you — not with our kiddos, not back home in El Paso — because I want to sacrifice everything to make sure that we meet this moment of truth with everything that we’ve got,” O’Rourke told the student.
BRYANS ROAD, Md. – A former corrections officer in Maryland has pleaded guilty to attempted murder in a brutal attack on his wife.
The state attorney’s office described the crime Monday while announcing the plea by 46-year-old Armando Quispe Rodriguez.
Prosecutors say Keyia Rodriguez was asleep when her husband began hitting and stabbing her, and tried to escape, but he handcuffed her to a railing in the basement and bound her ankles. Then he kept stabbing her, a total of 23 times, and put a bag on her head and a belt around her neck in an attempt to suffocate her.
She didn’t die, however, and Armando Rodriguez eventually called 911 to their home in Bryans Road, calling it a “domestic situation.”
MAGNA, Utah – A police standoff with an armed suspect at a fast-food restaurant in Utah has ended with the man taken into custody.
Officers were called to the Burger King in the town of Magna late Tuesday night about a man barricaded in a bathroom. According to broadcast reports, shots were fired.
Magna is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Salt Lake City.
The Unified Police Department tweeted early Wednesday that the situation was resolved and one person is in custody. The person’s name has not been released and police have not provided additional details.
The group known as ISIS-K, like al-Qaeda, which plotted the 9/11 terror attacks from Afghanistan, also has designs on striking targets in Western nations, said the U.S. intelligence official, who is not authorized to speak publicly.
ISIS-K has hundreds of fighters and has shown increasing effectiveness in its tactics and recruiting in Afghanistan, said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee who recently visited Afghanistan.
“It’s growing in sophistication and numbers,” Reed said.
Inspiring, financing and directing attacks abroad is a key goal. A chief worry: a terrorist recruit, for example, driving a truck through a crowd in the United States, the intelligence official said, citing the type of assault the group aspires to.
The K in ISIS-K stands for Khorasan, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces have fought Taliban and al Qaeda militants since 2001. About 14,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, half of them assigned to counter-terrorism missions, including combating ISIS-K militants.
About 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan. More than 140,000 Afghan troops, militants and civilians have died in the fight, according to a study by Brown University.
In the last three years, ISIS-K has been emboldened by success in Afghanistan, said the senior intelligence official.
For instance, it mounted six major attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul in 2016. That grew to 18 attacks in 2017 and 24 in 2018, the official said. The group is on pace to match or exceed that total this year.
ISIS-K has sought recruits among disaffected college graduates in Kabul, the official said. Doing so allows them to tap into their expertise gained in school and their ability to obtain visas and travel the world as terrorist operatives.
U.S.-led counter-terrorism strikes and law enforcement efforts have prevented ISIS-K from attacking targets in the United States, the official said. Gen. Joseph Votel, the recently retired commander of U.S. Central Command, said the group was “not reconcilable” and required eradication.
The group, however, has shown its resilience matched by toughness and brutality.
ISIS-K has lured the hardest of the hard core, he said. Afghanistan allows them the chance to kill their top targets: western troops, a corrupt local government and Taliban fighters who are not sufficiently committed to their cause. Afghanistan’s harsh terrain and lack of governance is an ideal environment to train fighters to shoot and communicate, the intelligence official said.
The group considers the Taliban, whose harsh rule of Afghanistan ended in 2001 and has mounted an 18-year insurgency, to be too lax in its interpretation of Islam, the official said.
ISIS-K fights the Taliban daily and has seized territory from it. ISIS-K fighters decapitated a local imam, sympathetic but insufficiently devout, and put his head on a pike as a warning to villagers, the official said.
As evidence of their commitment, the official pointed to intelligence gathered over the winter that showed that ISIS-K fighters stranded in mountain passes surviving on a dwindling supply of pine nuts. They preferred starving to profiting from the lucrative trade in opium, he said.
LONDON – Climate change protesters have glued themselves to a train and blocked major London intersections on the third day of a civil disobedience campaign.
Three demonstrators were arrested after stopping Docklands Light Railway services at Canary Wharf station on Wednesday.
Police have arrested more than 300 people since Monday during protests by the group Extinction Rebellion.
Demonstrators continue to block sites including Waterloo Bridge over the River Thames and the Oxford Circus and Marble Arch intersections. Many bus routes have been disrupted, to the frustration of commuters.
Lawyer Farhana Yamin, one of those arrested, apologized to public transit users. But she told BBC radio that “we need to take actions that are disruptive so everyone understands the dangers we’re facing right now.”