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Poll finds almost no one thinks Trump's military parade is a good idea

President Donald Trump made waves this week as reports emerged that he had asked the Pentagon to work up plans for a massive military parade akin to the type normally seen in countries like Russia and North Korea.

Army Times, most people don’t support it.” data-reactid=”6″>But according to an informal poll conducted by the Army Times, most people don’t support it.

Nearly 9 in 10, or specifically 89 percent, of the publication readers who responded said the parade is “a waste of money and troops are too busy.” Another 11 percent supported the idea, describing it as a “great opportunity to show off U.S. military might.”

Washington Post reported on Tuesday that planning for a military parade is now underway at the behest of the president. ” data-reactid=”8″>The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that planning for a military parade is now underway at the behest of the president.

said on Wednesday that President Trump’s desire to hold a military parade is rooted in his “fondness” for the U.S. armed forces. ” data-reactid=”12″>Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Wednesday that President Trump’s desire to hold a military parade is rooted in his “fondness” for the U.S. armed forces.

“I think we’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military,” Mattis said during a press briefing.

Mattis also noted that he and others have been “been putting together some options” for review.

US Navy SEAL who killed Bin Laden thinks military parade is a bad idea” data-reactid=”15″>SEE MORE: US Navy SEAL who killed Bin Laden thinks military parade is a bad idea

Trump reportedly first mentioned the idea last July after attending the annual Bastille Day parade in Paris, which featured numerous troops and a bevy of military equipment.

reportedly came from France, there are concerns that a public display of tanks and assorted large weaponry would draw associations with totalitarianism and North Korea. ” data-reactid=”17″>While his inspiration reportedly came from France, there are concerns that a public display of tanks and assorted large weaponry would draw associations with totalitarianism and North Korea.

Other critics have complained that such a parade would likely come with an immense price tag thanks to the costs of assembling and displaying the military’s biggest and most powerful machines.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By comparison, that’s nearly three times higher than China, which came in second place with an estimated $216 billion in spending and more than six times more than Russia, which came in third place with about $84.5 billion in military spending that year.” data-reactid=”21″>The U.S. military budget is far greater than any other country in the world. According to data from 2014, America spent $610 billion on the military — about 34 percent of the world total, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By comparison, that’s nearly three times higher than China, which came in second place with an estimated $216 billion in spending and more than six times more than Russia, which came in third place with about $84.5 billion in military spending that year.

suggested the funds instead be used to “fix military housing, hire more [Veterans Affairs] doctors…or give more flight training time.”” data-reactid=”22″>Critics of the plan have been vociferous in their objection, including Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who called the possible parade “a fantastic waste of money to amuse the president” and suggested the funds instead be used to “fix military housing, hire more [Veterans Affairs] doctors…or give more flight training time.”

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Poll finds almost no one thinks Trump's military parade is a good idea

L.L. Bean Changes 100-Year-Old Return Policy To Combat Abuse Of It

If you’ve been abusing L.L. Bean’s generous return policy, well, this is on you: The Maine-based company is revoking its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and imposing a one-year limit on most returns.

In a letter to customers issued on Friday, L.L. Bean Chairman Shawn Gorman announced the change and what prompted it.

“Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent,” he said. “Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.”

Gorman says later in the letter that this change to the policy “will only affect a small percentage of returns” and that should a customer have a defective product after the year mark, the company will work with that customer to “reach a fair solution.”

The previous legendary return policy allowed customers to exchange items they had worn out or purchased secondhand ― regardless of how many years before the item was purchased.

updated on the L.L. Bean website, which reads: “If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”” data-reactid=”17″>The policy has already been updated on the L.L. Bean website, which reads: “If you are not 100% satisfied with one of our products, you may return it within one year of purchase for a refund. After one year, we will consider any items for return that are defective due to materials or craftsmanship.”


L.L. Bean has revised its return policy, which it says was being abused by some people.

Additionally, the site notes that the company will not accept a return or exchange (even within one year of purchase) in certain situations. Specifically, those situations include items damaged by “abuse, improper care or negligence” and products that “have been soiled,” but also customers with “past habitual abuse” of the returns agreement.

What does that mean? Well, the 106-year-old company is not messing around, and it’s done with people returning things from a decade ago.

Boston Globe that “the amount of so-called ‘third quality’ returns has more than doubled over the last five years, resulting in annual losses ‘equal to the amount of revenue generated from Bean boot sales.’”” data-reactid=”31″>L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem told the Boston Globe that “the amount of so-called ‘third quality’ returns has more than doubled over the last five years, resulting in annual losses ‘equal to the amount of revenue generated from Bean boot sales.’”

This behavior, according to Beem, came from people who purchased items secondhand with the sole intention of returning them.

Many on social media have remarked on the change:

The centenarian L.L. Bean is proof that these times, they are a-changin’.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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L.L. Bean Changes 100-Year-Old Return Policy To Combat Abuse Of It

10 More Kids Have Died This Flu Season — And We May Not Have Reached the Peak, CDC Says

pediatric deaths related to this year’s deadly flu season — and we may have yet to see the worst of it, according to CDC officials.” data-reactid=”15″>The past week brought reports of 10 more pediatric deaths related to this year’s deadly flu season — and we may have yet to see the worst of it, according to CDC officials.

“I wish that there were better news this week, but almost everything we’re looking at is bad news,” CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said during a call with reporters Friday.

still reporting widespread flu activity, Schuchat said, and cases may continue to rise. “Flu is incredibly difficult to predict,” she said, “and we don’t know if we’ve hit the peak yet.”” data-reactid=”17″>Forty-eight states, all but Oregon and Hawaii, are still reporting widespread flu activity, Schuchat said, and cases may continue to rise. “Flu is incredibly difficult to predict,” she said, “and we don’t know if we’ve hit the peak yet.”

This week’s 10 reported deaths brings the flu season pediatric death total to 63, Schuchat said. Hospitalization rates and levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) are also elevated, putting this year on pace “to break some recent records,” Schuchat said. Hospitalization rates are tracking higher than in any year since the CDC began monitoring that metric in 2010, and ILI activity is higher than in any non-pandemic year since the 2003-2004 flu season, Schuchat said.

pneumonia, a common complication of the illness. “The people who are likely to die may already be in the hospital,” Schuchat said.” data-reactid=”19″>Those high rates may also be a harbinger of worse things to come, Schuchat added, as there’s typically a lag between hospitalizations and deaths from influenza and pneumonia, a common complication of the illness. “The people who are likely to die may already be in the hospital,” Schuchat said.

Symptoms including a persistent high fever, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, significant fatigue and confusion may point to serious illness, Schuchat said. Those who have these symptoms should see a doctor, who may be able to prescribe antiviral medications and other treatments. A condition that improves, then rapidly worsens, may also be a sign of complications.

especially severe season. H3 viruses are stronger and less receptive to vaccines than other influenza strains, which causes more people to get sick and more cases to become serious. At this point in the season, however, other influenza strains are also circulating — and Schuchat said it is possible to get the flu twice in one season, or even to become infected by two strains at once.” data-reactid=”21″>This year’s dominant flu strain, H3N2, has been blamed for the especially severe season. H3 viruses are stronger and less receptive to vaccines than other influenza strains, which causes more people to get sick and more cases to become serious. At this point in the season, however, other influenza strains are also circulating — and Schuchat said it is possible to get the flu twice in one season, or even to become infected by two strains at once.

For that reason — and because as many as nine weeks of flu season remain — CDC officials are still recommending that unvaccinated individuals get the flu shot. Doing so, they say, can reduce transmission and minimize your symptoms if you do get sick.

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10 More Kids Have Died This Flu Season — And We May Not Have Reached the Peak, CDC Says

Pebbles, the 'emotional support' hamster flushed down the toilet

Washington (AFP) – First it was Dexter the Peacock. Now it’s Pebbles the Hamster.

And while Dexter was merely denied permission to board a United Airlines flight as his owner’s “emotional support” animal, Pebbles suffered a more grisly fate.

Her owner, Belen Aldecosea, 21, flushed Pebbles down the toilet after being told she could not take the tiny dwarf hamster on her Spirit Airlines flight.

Aldecosea, of Miami Beach, claimed a representative for Spirit at Baltimore airport suggested the watery grave for Pebbles — a charge the airline strongly denied.

“She was scared. I was scared. It was horrifying trying to put her in the toilet,” Aldecosea told the Miami Herald, which broke the story this week of the ill-fated “emotional support” animal.

“I was emotional. I was crying. I sat there for a good 10 minutes crying in the stall,” the Florida college student told the newspaper.

Spirit acknowledged that the airline had mistakenly told Aldecosea that Pebbles could accompany her on her November 21 flight but denied anyone from the airline suggested disposing of Pebbles in the toilet.

“After researching this incident, we can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this Guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal,” Spirit spokesman Derek Dombrowski said in a statement.

“It is incredibly disheartening to hear this Guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life,” the airline spokesman said.

“Our reservation representative, unfortunately, did misinform the Guest that a hamster was permitted to fly as an emotional support animal on Spirit,” he said.

“When the Guest appeared with the hamster at the airport, our agents offered and the Guest accepted an opportunity to take a later flight, so she had time to find other accommodations for the animal,” he said.

The news of the demise of Pebbles came a little over a week after Dexter the Peacock was turned away at New Jersey’s Newark Airport.

Federal guidelines allow passengers with disabilities to board with a variety of emotional support or service animals, but airlines can deny boarding to some exotic or “unusual” pets.

United Airlines announced last week that it was reining in its regulations on such animals.

“The Department of Transportation’s rules regarding emotional support animals are not working as they were intended, and we need to change our approach in order to ensure a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers,” the airline said in a statement.

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Pebbles, the 'emotional support' hamster flushed down the toilet

Koreas share historic handshake at Olympic opening ceremony

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — It was a historic moment, and it happened even before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics had officially begun.

As South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife greeted VIPs in their dignitary box to watch the opening ceremony, they turned to shake hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, who arrived earlier in the day on an unprecedented visit to the South by a member of the North’s ruling Kim family.

All broke out in broad smiles.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was at the opening ceremony with North Korea’s nominal head of state, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam. They are part of an extraordinary diplomatic push by the North aimed at using the Olympics to ease tensions with Seoul and bolster unity between the two Koreas after a year that has been marked by escalating fears of war and increasing angry rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington.

As they shook hands, the North and South Koreans spoke briefly. It was not immediately known what they said, but all of them were smiling.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife arrived after the handshakes. They were seated beside the Moons and next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife. His office said he did not interact with the North Koreans.

The Moons, Nam and Kim all stood again as athletes from both Koreas marched together behind a blue-and-white “unification” flag for the first time since 2007. There was another handshake.

The Pences did not stand for the unified Korean team’s entrance. During the parade of nations, they stood only for the U.S. team.

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Koreas share historic handshake at Olympic opening ceremony

South Korea's Olympic Stadium Will Host Just 4 Events Before It's Torn Down

Pyeongchang, South Korea, built itself a brand-new $109 million stadium to host the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. And after just four ceremonial events ― including Friday’s opening festivities ― Pyeongchang is planning to tear the place down.

Ironically, the idea behind tearing down the stadium is to keep it from becoming an immediate white elephant and ever-present reminder of Olympic excess.

$50 billion price tag that accompanied the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia ― and that helped turn much of the world against the idea of hosting the games.” data-reactid=”24″>The Pyeongchang Games were supposed to be an example of modesty, a reminder that the Olympics didn’t have to burden its host with the record-breaking $50 billion price tag that accompanied the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia ― and that helped turn much of the world against the idea of hosting the games.

But building a stadium solely to host four ceremonies ― none of which involve actual sports ― feels more like an example of how Pyeongchang fell right into the Olympic trap.

exceeded its initial budget projections, according to researchers at the University of Oxford. The median overrun for the Winter Games, the researchers found, was 109 percent, which means Pyeongchang’s doubling of costs is right in line with budget reality.” data-reactid=”26″>This year’s Winter Olympics will cost an estimated $13 billion ― far short of Sochi’s cost, but still roughly twice what Olympic organizers originally estimated. That maintains an ugly streak for the games: Between 1960 and 2012, every Olympics, winter and summer, has exceeded its initial budget projections, according to researchers at the University of Oxford. The median overrun for the Winter Games, the researchers found, was 109 percent, which means Pyeongchang’s doubling of costs is right in line with budget reality.

threatened to slash its own contribution to the Olympic budget.” data-reactid=”27″>Pyeongchang has already warned the South Korean government that the final cost of the games will be too high. Last year, it threatened to slash its own contribution to the Olympic budget.

demolition of a sacred indigenous forest, even though the games have required shuttering other ski resorts, even though there’s little evidence the new site will be used once the Olympics end.” data-reactid=”28″>Those costs rose, as they always do, thanks to largely unnecessary construction projects with little promise of future viability. Organizers built a brand-new ski resort for the Pyeongchang Games, for instance, even though its construction required the partial demolition of a sacred indigenous forest, even though the games have required shuttering other ski resorts, even though there’s little evidence the new site will be used once the Olympics end.

no plans at all for post-Olympic use of at least three other newly constructed facilities. On the eve of the games, they still don’t have concrete proposals for the future.” data-reactid=”29″>Other Pyeongchang venues share similar legacy concerns. Five months ahead of the games, organizers had no plans at all for post-Olympic use of at least three other newly constructed facilities. On the eve of the games, they still don’t have concrete proposals for the future.

into an Asian winter sports hub.” But who can really predict the first, and the latter seems unlikely.” data-reactid=”30″>The public justification for hosting these games, in Pyeongchang and across South Korea, is that the first Winter Olympics to grace the Korean Peninsula won’t just improve relations between the North and South but will also boost interest in winter sports and help transform the area “into an Asian winter sports hub.” But who can really predict the first, and the latter seems unlikely.

don’t much care for winter sports. In one survey last year, just 35 percent of them reported having any interest in the Olympics, and domestic ticket sales, even for the most popular events, have lagged well behind the normal Olympic pace.” data-reactid=”31″>South Koreans don’t much care for winter sports. In one survey last year, just 35 percent of them reported having any interest in the Olympics, and domestic ticket sales, even for the most popular events, have lagged well behind the normal Olympic pace.

remained at best steady across the city, while a Parliamentary report last year found that rates of physical activity and sporting participation among children have actually declined since the end of the games.” data-reactid=”32″>Previous Olympics suggest that the games’ ability to boost participation in sports is nearly as big a myth as their supposed economic and tourism benefits. Organizers of the 2012 London Games really pushed the “sparking public enthusiasm for athletics” goal. Surveys in the six years since have shown that participation in various sports has remained at best steady across the city, while a Parliamentary report last year found that rates of physical activity and sporting participation among children have actually declined since the end of the games.

norovirus outbreak on the eve of the games and the unavoidable security concerns caused by Pyeongchang’s proximity to the North Korean border have absorbed much of the rest. What diplomatic role the 2018 Winter Olympics will play, now and in the future, on the peninsula and in the world seems to be the biggest potential story of the games.” data-reactid=”33″>Concerns about cost and legacy have largely taken a backseat ahead of the Pyeongchang Games for a variety of reasons. The focus on Russia’s doping scandal has sucked up most of the pre-Olympic oxygen. A norovirus outbreak on the eve of the games and the unavoidable security concerns caused by Pyeongchang’s proximity to the North Korean border have absorbed much of the rest. What diplomatic role the 2018 Winter Olympics will play, now and in the future, on the peninsula and in the world seems to be the biggest potential story of the games.

seems ready and the venues complete. There haven’t been any of the major hiccups that typically drive hysteria in the run-up to the Olympics. Indeed, these games feel comparably flawless next to the worries over excessive costs, threats to LGBTQ rights and environmental destruction that surrounded the 2014 Sochi Games; the demolition of poor neighborhoods, the collapsing economy and the lax preparations ahead of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Summer Olympics; or the already exorbitant cost increases and environmental problems plaguing Tokyo’s upcoming 2020 Summer Games.” data-reactid=”34″>To Pyeongchang’s credit, the city seems ready and the venues complete. There haven’t been any of the major hiccups that typically drive hysteria in the run-up to the Olympics. Indeed, these games feel comparably flawless next to the worries over excessive costs, threats to LGBTQ rights and environmental destruction that surrounded the 2014 Sochi Games; the demolition of poor neighborhoods, the collapsing economy and the lax preparations ahead of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Summer Olympics; or the already exorbitant cost increases and environmental problems plaguing Tokyo’s upcoming 2020 Summer Games.

All the normal Olympic features are still present in Pyeongchang: the bloated budget, the environmental degradation, the empty infrastructure legacy. A costly new stadium that will open only four times before it’s ultimately destroyed.

these hardly feel like problems anymore.” data-reactid=”36″>But excess and destruction have become such hallmarks of the Olympics, these hardly feel like problems anymore.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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South Korea's Olympic Stadium Will Host Just 4 Events Before It's Torn Down

India's Modi heads to Palestinian territories to balance warming ties with Israel

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – After a public embrace of Israel as a strategic partner, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to the Palestinian territories and the Gulf on Friday to bolster long-standing political and economic ties.

India was one of the earliest champions of the Palestinian cause but in recent years turned to Israel for high-tech military equipment and anti-terrorism cooperation.

Under Modi, whose nationalist party sees Israel as a natural ally against Islamist extremism, ties have flourished. Modi made the first trip to Israel by an Indian prime minister last year followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyanu’s visit to India last month.

But Indian officials said India continued to support the Palestinian cause and that Modi’s visit is aimed at helping build up the Palestinians’ capacity in the health, information technology and education areas.

“We have de-hyphenated our relations with Palestine and Israel and now we see them both as mutually independent and exclusive and as part of this policy the prime minister is undertaking this visit,” B. Bala Bhaskar, a joint secretary in the Indian foreign ministry, said.

The two sides are building a India-Palestinian technology park in Ramallah, the Palestinians’ seat of government, which will develop IT expertise and generate employment.

Modi is due to arrive in Jordan later on Friday and travel to Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Saturday. During his visit to Israel last year, he did not travel to the Palestinian headquarters as is usually the case with visiting leaders.

“Looking forward to my discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas and reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine,” Modi said in a Twitter post.

India was among more than 120 countries to vote in favor of a resolution in December calling for the United States to drop its recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But the scale of India’s security and commercial ties with Israel dwarfs the engagement with the Palestinians. Israel is among India’s top three arms suppliers, doing business worth millions of dollars each year.

Modi and Netanyahu are now pushing for cooperation in agriculture, energy and cybersecurity in addition to defense.

Modi will also travel to the United Arab Emirates, from where India gets half of its oil, and to Oman, with which India’s navy has built close security ties.

The Gulf is home to nine million Indians who remit $35 billion home each year, sustaining millions of families. The UAE committed an investment of $75 billion in India when Modi visited in 2015 and the two sides will be looking to advance that goal, the foreign ministry said.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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India's Modi heads to Palestinian territories to balance warming ties with Israel

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