A dating website's claim that it used a "scientifically proven matching system" to pair up those looking for love has been banned. An advert for eHarmony on the London Underground in July read: "It's time science had a go at love". The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) called the claim "misleading." ... The firm had argued that its matching system was scientific and could provide an advantage in finding a compatible partner over a chance-based system or meeting. ... The initial complaint was lodged by Lord Lipsey, the joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics and a former member of the ASA council. He said the phrase "scientifically proven" should only be used in claims that are "just that" and not "crude puffery designed to lure in those longing for love."
Eli Lake: In case anyone was wondering, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the rest of America's political class are with the protesters in Iran. Statements have been issued. Tweets have been tweeted. Virtue has been signaled. Like the last time Iranians took to the streets, in 2009, these easy acts of solidarity are self-satisfying. But they do not substitute for policy or strategy. It's time for the hard part. ... I hope the unrest in Iran spreads and the fanatics, thieves and terrorists who have infantilized Iranians for 38 years are toppled. But it's likely the unrest today is the beginning of a longer process. This regime has survived mass demonstrations and riots before and restored the fear necessary to continue its misrule. It's the West's job in these coming weeks to support our real allies, the Iranian people demanding freedom.
The Jewish attorney who Roy Moore's wife touted employing in an attempt to fight off claims of anti-Semitism is actually a longtime friend and supporter of Senator-elect Doug Jones, who defeated Moore last month. Richard Jaffe is an Alabama defense attorney hired by the Moores to defend their son, Caleb Moore, against drug charges in 2016. Jaffe told the Washington Examiner he has been close personal friends with Doug Jones for more than 30 years and he both contributed to, and raised money for, his campaign. "There could not be a more passionate supporter of Doug than me!" Jaffe said. read more
Chocolate lovers may want to sit down before reading this because scientists are forecasting that climate change may force the plants that produce chocolate into extinction by 2050. According to a report from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the changing temperatures around the world will make growing cacao plants nearly impossible within the next 30 years. "More than 90 per cent of the global cocoa crop is produced by smallholders on subsistence farms with unimproved planting material," British researcher Doug Hawkins told the Daily Mail. The chocolate-producing plants only grow in specific locations that are within 20 degrees to the north or south of the equator. The plants thrive in the rainforest because of its stable temperatures with high humidity, heavy rain, rich soil, and protection from wind. read more
With 2017 over, Warren Buffett has sealed his victory over hedge funds in a bet he made a decade ago. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman in 2007 bet $1 million that the S&P 500 would outperform a selection of hedge funds over 10 years. As of Friday, his S&P 500 index fund had compounded a 7.1% annual gain over that period. The basket of funds selected by Protégé Partners, the managers with whom he made the bet, had gained 2.1%, according to The Wall Street Journal. Buffett agreed to give the prize money to Girls Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska, a nonprofit he has previously supported. ... Buffett has long taken issue with hedge funds' promise of outperforming the market and their high fees that take away from the returns their clients earn. He has turned out to be right on both fronts.
Former Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann says she is weighing whether or not to run for Al Franken's Senate seat. In an interview last week with a religious TV program, Bachmann said that she's praying on if she should return to Washington at a time when "the swamp is so toxic." ... "The question is: Am I being called to do this now?" she told televangelist Jim Bakker. "I don't know. I don't know." ... Bachmann, 61, was elected to Congress in 2007 to represent Minnesota's 6th District. She was in office until 2015. During that time, she ran for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential election.
Orrin Hatch, currently the second-longest serving U.S. senator, plans to retire at the end of his term. In a video shared on Twitter, the 83-year-old Utah Republican announced his plan to leave the Senate early next year after more than 40 years. ... Former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was considering running for Hatch's seat if the senator retired, according to reports. Romney has strongly criticized Trump and could prove another irritant to the president if elected.
Los Angeles Times editorial board: In the tortured history of birth control coverage under the ACA, the government has made change after change to placate employers who objected on religious grounds to covering birth control. Now, the Trump administration has essentially neutered the mandate entirely, allowing any employer with any religious or moral objection to refuse to offer birth control coverage -- without any requirement that they allow their insurance company to make an accommodation. ... The issue here should not be an employer's religious or moral beliefs but the needs, beliefs, health and safety of the employee. Why should our employers make the moral or religious decisions about our healthcare? Besides, it is already clear that there are plenty of ways for employers to register their objections and then allow insurance companies to step in and provide the insurance. That's accommodation enough.
For all that he's never stopped reliving the Watergate years, [John] Dean seems surprised at how relevant what he went through 45 years ago remains. Not that everything is the same -- for one, he thinks that in today's media and political environment, [President] Nixon might have finished his term. "There's social media, there's the internet, the news cycles are faster. I think Watergate would have occurred at a much more accelerated speed than the 928 days it took to go from the arrest at the Watergate to the conviction of Haldeman and Ehrlichman and Mitchell, et al.," Dean said. "There's more likelihood he might have survived if there'd been a Fox News."
Following Donald Trump's Christmas morning tweet announcing that he'd soon be "back to work in order to Make America Great Again," the president reportedly spent the next seven days visiting his golf club. Starting on Dec. 26, Trump's motorcade was spotted arriving at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, at 9 a.m. on six consecutive mornings, per pool reports. On Jan. 1, the seventh day since his tweet, Trump arrived at the club at around 8:50 a.m., BuzzFeed News reported, just minutes after he tweeted about having "much work" to do. read more
South Korea has offered high-level talks with North Korea next Tuesday to discuss its possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. The North's leader, Kim Jong-un, said earlier he was considering sending a team to Pyeongchang in South Korea for the Games in February. He said the two sides should "urgently meet to discuss the possibility." South Korea's president said he saw the offer as a "groundbreaking chance" to improve relations.
U.S. crude oil production is flirting with record highs heading into the new year, thanks to the technological nimbleness of shale oil drillers . "It's a total turnaround from where we were in the '70s," said Frank Verrastro, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Shale oil drills can now plunge deep into the earth, pivot and tunnel sideways for miles until they hit an oil pocket, Verrastro said. The United States is so awash in oil that petroleum-rich Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil and natural gas company is reportedly interested in investing in the fertile Texas Permian Basin shale oil region, according to a report last month. U.S. oil production averaged around 9.6 million barrels per day in 2017. The highest U.S. production based on monthly government data is above 10 million barrels per day, which dates back to 1970. read more
Charles P. Pierce: On Thursday, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago sat down with Michael Schmidt of The New York Times for what apparently was an open-ended, one-on-one interview. ... In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia. ... In this interview, the president is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president's well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart.
State Rep. Bill Chumley (R-Woodruff) and state Rep. Mike Burns (R-Taylors) pre-filed a bill last month that would establish a commission to design an African-American Confederate veterans monument, reported The State. "In all my years of research, I can say I have seen no documentation of black South Carolina soldiers fighting for the Confederacy," said historian Walter Edgar, the longtime director of the University of South Carolina's Institute for Southern Studies. "In fact, when secession came, the state turned down free (blacks) who wanted to volunteer because they didn't want armed persons of color. Edgar, who wrote a history of the state, said any black person who served in a Confederate unit in South Carolina was either a slave or an unpaid laborer working against his will.