CELEB HOUNDS_Entertainment TV

Chris Gaines questions former partners over “Fixer Upper” lawsuit

Fixer Upper star, Chip Gaines questioned his partners at Magnolia Real Estate Company over a $1 million lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which concerns the hit HGTV show, was filed on Wednesday by John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark in Waco, Texas. Both Lewis and Clark, former real estate partners of Gaines, allege that Gaines bought them out of the company without telling them of the deal he made with HGTV about the show. The buyout occurred approximately four years ago, which is before the show aired. Gaines wondered why his supposed friends did not call or e-mail him personally over the four year period if they had concerns about the fidelity of the negotiations.

“Fyi: Ive had the same cell # 15 yrs.. same email for 20 yrs. No one called or emailed?” tweeted the 42 year old Gaines on Friday. “[Four] years later ‘friends’ reach out via lawsuit.. humm.”

“We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines,” stated Jordan Mayfield, attorney for Chip and Joanna.

David Tekell, attorney for Lewis and Clark, maintained that all of the accusations in the lawsuit are founded. He said that there is a trail of proof for the wrongdoing perpetrated by Gaines.

“It is all completely true and supported by actual facts,” said Tekell. “There are extensive quotes from texts and emails stated in the lawsuit that are accurate.”

Business NONE TECH_Technology

Apple stocks drop on Sept. 25 setting off declines in the stock market

Stock analysts and investors were not alarmed last week, after it was reported by Wall Street that Apple and other technology stocks declined in value on Sept. 25.

According to Sept. 27 news reports by the New York Times and BetaWired, declines in all three stock indexes on Sept. 25 were part of a chain reaction caused by Apple’s announcement late in the afternoon on Sept. 24 that it had withdrawn a software update that prevented users from making phone calls. Others complained that they bent their new iPhones by sitting on them. Apple stock fell $3.88 to close at $97.87 in heavy trading.

On Sept. 25, the S&P 500 index lost 32.31 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 1,965.99. The Dow Industrial Average slumped 264.26 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 16,945.80. The Nasdaq composite index, which is dominated by technology companies, dropped 88.47 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,466.75. It was the worst day for all three indexes since July 31.

Chief Investment Strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott told the New York Times that, “When you are at the peak, markets require more and more good news to keep on soaring high.” Peter Cadillo, the Chief Market Economist at Rockwell Global Financial said, “The economic numbers were negative but not alarming and do not affect the direction of the economy at the moment.”

Two economic reports released Sept. 25 were little help. Claims for unemployment benefits crept up last week. But the less volatile four-week average fell. A separate report said business orders for equipment plunged last month, mainly a result of falling orders for commercial aircraft.

According to BetaWired, trading this past week has turned increasingly turbulent, an abrupt break from a sleepy summer. On Monday, concerns about slowing growth in China and falling home sales knocked the market back, giving the S&P 500 its worst daily drop in more than a month.


Business NONE TECH_Technology

Ad blocking software is costing publishers big time

While advertisements can often feel unwanted and invasive, they are the lifeblood of the internet. Advertising sustains the vast majority of available content, but pesky popups and data mining software bring up serious issues about the user’s experience online. Noble programmers have developed a set of tools called Ad blockers, that push aside some of the less pleasing adverts and streamline the online experience.

According to a report from the New York Times, however, the free software is costing online advertisers a pretty penny. Ad blockers have been around for years, but more and more people are adopting their use as a crucial part of the online experience.

While the software undeniably improves the internet for the user, many publishers and advertisers have taken issue with the falling revenues. A new report from Adobe and PageFair estimated that ad blocking software has cost publishers a shocking $22 billion this year alone. 200 million people are currently using ad blocking software, representing a 41 percent global increase over the last year.

Most ad blockers are used on desktop web browsers, but Apple’s new iOS9 will include support for the software when it is released this fall.

With the use of ad blockers on the rise, and the very real possibility that an influx of mobile users will make the increase even steeper, online publishers are facing a huge issue. Savvy advertisers will respond to the consumer’s demand for less invasive adverts, and the best advertisements will be the ones users don’t realize they’re viewing.


Adele rejects Super Bowl halftime invitation

Singer, Adele, announced that she would not be the halftime act at the next NFL Super Bowl.

“Come, on. That show is not about music, and I don’t dance or anything like that. They were really kind, they did ask me, but I did say no,” said Adele during a Saturday night concert in Los Angeles.

The announcement was met by boos from her audience, who badly wanted the British songstress to take the Super Bowl LI stage in Houston on February, 5, 2017.

Rumors of which artist would be the headlining Super Bowl have been swirling of late, with Adele atop lists to follow such acts as Beyonce, Prince, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen.

Both the NFL and Pepsi have stated that they are big fans of Adele but also confirmed that they have yet to make a formal offer to any artist for the next halftime show.

“We have had conversations with several artists about the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show. However, we have not at this point extended a formal offer to Adele or anyone else,” read a Pepsi-NFL statement. “We are focused on putting together a fantastic show for Houston and we look forward to revealing that in good time.”

Last year, the field was taken by storm by performances from Beyonce and Bruno Mars. Beyonce turned heads with a tribute march reminiscent of the Black Panther Party.

A few years ago the halftime show by Beyonce literally turned out the lights in the stadium.

“I know I’m not Beyonce, I can’t dance or anything like that,” explained Adele.

PHYS Science

Columbia University astrophysicists warn of supermassive black hole collision

In early 2015, astronomers from the Columbia University discovered what appeared to be a pair of supermassive black holes circling each other within the Virgo constellation. Scientists warn that their orbits will eventually collide, sending a powerful burst of gravitational waves surging through the fabric of space-time.

The pair and their orbits were confirmed when a new study, published in the journal Nature, revealed that the rhythmic flashes of light coming from quasar PG 1302-102 were caused by a pair of closely orbiting black holes.

The flickering light is created by black holes as they burn through the surrounding gas and dust. Quasars normally brighten and dim at irregular rates–the regular intervals indicate two black holes on the verge of uniting.

Spiralling together 3.5 billion light-years away from the Earth, the pair is only a light-week away from each other. After calculating the caliber of each black hole’s mass and gravitational force, the scientists predict the collision will occur about 100,000 years from now.

“This is the closest we’ve come to observing two black holes on their way to a massive collision,” explains Zoltan Hainam, astronomer and senior study author, in a Columbia press release.

“Watching this process reach its culmination can tell us whether black holes and galaxies grow at the same rate, and ultimately test a fundamental property of spacetime: its ability to carry vibrations called gravitational waves, produced in the last, most violent stage of the merger.”

As black hole binary discoveries increase, astronomers are hopeful that a collision may be detected in the next decade.

Detecting gravitational waves allows scientists to test Einstein’s gravity theory–that gravity is not an ordinary force, but a property of space-time geometry–and the secrets of gravity “in the most extreme environment in our universe–black holes,” says lead author, Daniel D’orazio, a graduate student from Columbia.

“Getting there is the holy grail of our field.”


NONE TSC_Global Politics

Terrorist van attack in Barcelona leaves 13 dead, many injured

Two people are in police custody after a van crashed into a large crowd of pedestrians Thursday afternoon in Barcelona, Spain, leaving at least 13 dead and more than 100 injured.

The attack occurred in a popular tourist section of the city, the Las Ramblas district, according to a report by ABC News.

Of the individuals detained, one is from Morocco and one is a Spanish national, police said. While one of the men in custody, identified as Druss Oukabir, was the man who rented the van, neither he nor the other man were the driver of the van.

One eyewitness told a Spanish TV station that the van’s driver rammed through people for nearly 1,000 feet before ducking into a nearby Turkish restaurant.

Authorities are in the process of identifying the dead, said Joaquin Forn, Catalonia’s interior minister, in a press conference. The number of dead and injured could rise, he added.

Officials, including Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, are describing the attack as “jihadist terrorism.” ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the mayhem, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

Rajoy said those responsible for the van attack will be held responsible, but also emphasized that a global response to terrorism is necessary.

Catalan police have evacuated the Las Ramblas neighborhood while the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona is warning citizens to avoid the area and monitor local police for updates on the situation.

Forn declared three days of mourning in honor of the dead. A moment of silence will be observed Friday at noon local time.

HEALTH NONE NWT_Environment TECH TECH_Technology

New ‘cyborg eye’ could help the blind see

Scientists have developed the first synthetic, soft-tissue retina in a lab.

The retina is made of soft water droplets and biological cell proteins. Its components detect and react to light to create a grey scale image.

The breakthrough could revolutionize the bionic implant industry, while also helping in the development of less invasive technologies in the treatment of degenerative eye conditions which can cause blindness.

Led by 24-year-old Vanessa Restrepo-Schild, a Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford University, the study used a double-layered material made of hydrogels and biological cell membrane proteins. The components replicated the functions of the retina.

The retina is designed like a camera, in that the material behaves as pixels, reacting to light to create a grayscale image.

“The synthetic material can generate electrical signals, which stimulate the neurons at the back of our eye just the original retina,” said Restrepo-Schild.

The research shows that unlike current artificial retinal implants, the synthetic cell cultures are manufactured from natural, biodegradable sources.

The cell cultures also do not contain ‘foreign bodies’ or living organisms.

Due to this, the artificial synthetic droplets are less invasive compared to a mechanical device. They are also less likely to have an adverse reaction on the body.

According to Restrepo-Schild, the human eye is highly sensitive, and foreign bodies like metal retinal implants can cause severe damage such as inflammation and scarring.

She added that a natural synthetic is soft and water-based, and thus friendlier to the eye environment.

Restrepo-Child added that she has always been fascinated by the human body, and she wants to prove that current technology can be used to replicate the function of human tissues.

HOUNDS_Entertainment Movies NONE TV

The Walking Dead Star Josh McDermitt quits social media over death threats

The Walking Dead actor Josh McDermitt has quit social media.

The star deactivated his social media accounts after receiving death threats from angry fans over the actions of his divisive character, pseudo-scientist Eugene Porter.

The American actor divided fans after his introduction to the highly popular AMC show as the hapless but well-meaning Eugene during its fourth season.

But after surviving Negan’s beloved baseball bat Lucille at the expense of other, more loved characters, he infuriated the show’s fans by pledging his loyalty to The Saviours – an army of ruthless killers responsible for their brutal deaths.

And his apparent betrayal midway through the show’s seventh season has since caused a faction of viewers to target McDermitt on social media.

The star posted a video on Facebook shortly before deactivating his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. In the video, he expressed his frustration at receiving constant abuse and threats.

“Death threats? Don’t send me death threats because I’m going to report all the s—t to the cops. I’m just sick of it,” McDermitt said.

McDermitt said that he does not care if fans hate his character, and urged people to stop complaining about everything on the internet.

“Go spend time with your friends, family, or loved ones. Just get off the internet. I love you guys,” McDermitt went to say on the video.

While the star is yet to confirm why he decided to quit social media, it is believed that online abuse led to his decision.

Another Walking Dead star to receive criticism is Alanna Masterson, who was targeted by online trolls for shooting her scenes as Tara while heavy with child.

Some trolls labeled her “fat,” resulting in a heavy tirade from the actress.

Captioning a shot of her daughter, Alanna wrote: “Dear Instagram trolls, body-shamers, and the men and women who think it’s ok to comment on my weight, I hope that you don’t have children,” she wrote

Alanna added that if the trolls do get kids, she hopes they teach them about kindness and acceptance.

The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October this year.


HOUNDS_Entertainment Music NONE TV

Whitney Houston’s sexuality revisited in new documentary

Speculation about the late Whitney Houston’s sexuality will be revisited in a new documentary, called Whitney: Can I Be Me?

The iconic singer’s ex-husband Bobby Brown has previously suggested that Whitney was in a gay relationship with her assistant Roby Crawford.

But according to People, stylist Ellin Lavar says in the movie: “I don’t think she was gay, I think she was bisexual.”

According to a member of security Kevin Ammons, Robyn and Whitney were inseparable.

“They had a bond, and Bobby could never remove Robyn. He wanted to be the man in the relationship,” Kevin said.

While this is not the first time has discussed Whitney’s and Robyn’s alleged romance, it should be noted that both she and Whitney’s mother Cissy declined to participate in the flick.

In June last year, Bobby Brown, Whitney’s ex, told UsWeekly that the songbird had a sexual relationship with Robyn.

“I know. We were married for 14 years,” Bobby, 47, adding that there were things he and Whitney talked about things personal to the two of them.

Bobby also claimed that Whitney’s mother Cissy did not approve of the relationship, causing the I Will Always Love You hitmaker to be lonely.

The late singer always denied that she was involved sexually with Robyn.

After Whitney’s February 2012 death from a drug overdose, Robyn wrote in a piece for Esquire that the singer was a “loyal friend who looked like an angel.”

“I loved her laughter, and that’s what I’ll miss most,” Robyn wrote.

Whitney and Robyn met as teens when they both worked at a community center in East Orange, New Jersey.

Robyn would later become Whitney’s assistant, and later, creative director.

The new documentary debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday.


NONE TECH TECH_Social TECH_Technology

Facebook cracks down on fake accounts

Facebook on Friday revealed it disrupted an international fake accounts operation.

The fake account network was firing off inauthentic ‘likes’ and fake comments to win friends, whom it would then hit with spam.

The social media company’s security team spent six months fighting what they viewed as a coordinated campaign.

“Our systems were able to identify a large portion of this illegitimate activity, and to remove a substantial number of inauthentic likes,” said Shabnam Shaik, a company security manager.

Shaik added that by disrupting the campaign, Facebook expects to prevent the network of spammers from reaching its ultimate goal of sending inauthentic material to scores of people.

The fake accounts ring used accounts in a number of countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

According to Shaik, the spammers tried to mask their activities with tactics like connecting with the social network through ‘proxy’ servers to hide where ‘likes,’ posts or other communications were originating.

According to Facebook, the campaign aimed to trick people into connecting as friends, and then would later target them with spam.

The social media giant said it had scattered the operation early enough to spare users from getting spammed.

Earlier this week, Facebook said it had started weeding out fake accounts, by watching for suspicious behavior such as repetitive posts or torrents of messages.

The company described the security improvement as being part of wider efforts to rid the leading social network of misinformation, hoaxes, and fake news by verifying people’s identities.

However, Facebook itself will not decide what is real and what is not, but will instead hire the Poynter Institute, a Florida journalism school, to sift through content.