Teen Who Claimed She Was Abducted, Raped By 3 Black Men Admits She Lied

A teenager in Denison, Texas, who made widely publicized claims that she was kidnapped and raped by three black men in ski masks admitted to police Tuesday that it was all a lie. 

The Denison Police Department posted a statement to Facebook on Wednesday describing the case in detail and said 18-year-old Breana Talbott, who is white, confessed to the hoax and has been charged with making a false report. 

Denison police say 18 yo Breana Talbott lied about being abducted by 3 black men & raped. She’s charged w making false report @FOX4 at 5:30 pic.twitter.com/Zu06YMD1IZ

— Natalie Solis (@Fox4Natalie) March 22, 2017

Talbott was reported missing on March 8 by her then-fiancé Sam Hollingsworth, who told police he found her car in the parking lot of her apartment complex with the driver door open and her phone, keys and a single shoe nearby. Hours later, Talbott stumbled into a local church half-naked and covered in cuts.

“She told witnesses at the church she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted in the woods behind the church,” the police department said. “There were also visible cuts and/or scratches on her body.” 

Detectives and police scoured the area for the suspects, who Talbott claimed were “3 black males” wearing ski masks. The events of that evening were all staged and her injuries were self-inflicted, according to the police statement.

Police said they had suspicions about the case “almost from the beginning,” as they were unable to corroborate any of Talbott’s accusations. Medical personnel also reportedly found no evidence that Talbott had been sexually assaulted.  

Studies have found that as little as 2 percent of reported rapes are false. The department noted the harmful effect Talbott’s claims had on the entire community. 

“This alleged crime as reported by Breana Harmon Talbott made many in the community fearful there were individuals abducting women,” the department wrote on Facebook. “Even though we know the story to be a hoax, there is still potential damage to the reputation of the City of Denison and the Texoma region as many may remember the reported crime but not the outcome.”

“Breana Harmon Talbott’s hoax was also insulting to our community and especially offensive to the African-American community due to her description of the so-called suspects in her hoax,” the post continued. “The anger and hurts caused from such a hoax are difficult and all so unnecessary.”

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Ivanka Trump, Tommy Hilfiger Among Top Brands Being Purged From Closets

When it comes to getting rid of old clothing, certain brands are resold more than others, according to a new report from a fashion resale website. 

ThredUp, an online site that specializes in reselling secondhand women’s and kids’ clothing, recently released its first “Purge Surge” report. The analysis tracks which brands and styles people are purging the most from their closets, based on all items sold to ThredUp in 2015 compared to all items sold to ThredUp in 2016, according to ThredUp spokesperson Samantha Jacob. For reference, the company processes about 75,000 items of clothing in four distribution centers per day. 

New York & Company was the most-purged brand on the list, with Tommy Hilfiger and Kate Hudson’s Fabletics coming in at numbers 2 and 3, respectively. Ivanka Trump’s brand landed at number 7 on the list. 

Below are the full findings:

1. New York & Company, 472 percent increase from 2016 over 2015

2. Tommy Hilfiger, 469 percent 

3. Fabletics, 326 percent 

4. Liz Lange Maternity, 269 percent 

5. Gap Fit, 256 percent 

6. Lou & Grey, 249 percent 

7. Ivanka Trump, 223 percent 

8. Madewell, 218 percent 

9. Active by Old Navy, 213 percent 

10. Vera Bradley, 119 percent 

The Ivanka Trump brand has experienced criticism and boycotts since Donald Trump was elected president. Retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus dropped or distanced themselves from her line. Though Jacob could not speculate as to why the Ivanka Trump brand experienced a purge surge on ThredUp, she told HuffPost it could come down to two factors.  

“There are two general reasons we’d see a purge surge: (1) the brand is declining in popularity or (2) the brand has grown in volume,” she said via email. “For Ivanka, the data suggests that the ‘Purge Surge’ rationale varies by market.”

Jacob shared insights from the data collected on the Trump brand, based on specific markets: 

– In NYC and LA for example, supply of the Ivanka Trump brand has outpaced demand significantly, meaning more people are selling than buying the brand.

– In Dallas and Houston, demand has outpaced supply, meaning more people have intent to buy, or are buying, the brand than are selling.

– Interestingly, of all major metro areas, Washington DC saw the greatest difference rate of supply versus demand, implying that the Ivanka Trump brand is declining more in popularity in DC versus other major cities.

Despite all this, Abigail Klem, the president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said the clothing and accessories line saw a spike in sales in February. 

“Since the beginning of February, they were some of the best performing weeks in the history of the brand,” Klem said in a statement a few weeks ago. “For several different retailers Ivanka Trump was a top performer online, and in some of the categories it was the [brand’s] best performance ever.”

And so the saga continues.

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Virgil: Trump Connects to the Taproot of American Economic Nationalism with Henry Clay’s ‘American System’

In his March 20 speech in Louisville, Kentucky, President Trump sounded many familiar and important themes, including the importance of jobs, manufacturing, trade, and the need to revive the coal industry. And yet he also added a new and larger “meta-theme,” namely, the urgency of building up our industrial strength for the sake of economic and national security. That meta-theme, we might observe, is the essence of the “American System” of Henry Clay.

There Are Now Fewer Tuberculosis Cases In The U.S. Than The CDC Has Ever Measured

The number of U.S. tuberculosis cases in 2016 was the lowest since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began reporting it in 1953, the agency announced Thursday.

However, the CDC cautioned that the goal to eliminate TB from the U.S. will likely not be met in this century without a dramatic strengthening of current control programs and the tracking and treatment of latent TB infections.

We can’t yet say whether this slight decline will continue,” Dr. Phil LoBue, director of CDC’s Division for TB Elimination, said in an email to The Huffington Post. “However, in order to accelerate progress toward TB elimination, we’re going to have to take a new approach that focuses on both strengthening these existing TB control systems and broadening responsibility for latent TB infection testing and treatment efforts.”

Donna Wegener, the executive director of the National TB Controllers Association, was heartened by the reported decrease, but she worries the extent of the decrease indicates progress has stalled.

David Bryden, a TB advocate for the nonprofit Results, also stressed the U.S. should be making much faster gains in the fight against TB.

“It’s a slow rate of decline, and this is a very serious epidemic,” Bryden said. “This is no reason to be complacent or to think that now we are again on the downward trajectory as next year it could go up again.”

The CDC’s annual report highlights that about 13 million Americans have what’s called latent TB, a form of tuberculosis that lies dormant in the body.

About 5 to 10 percent of people infected with TB will eventually develop the active, infectious form of the disease. That means as many as 1.3 million Americans could become infectious over the span of their lifetimes if they don’t receive preventive treatment.

According to the CDC, a total of of 9,287 TB cases were reported in 2016, which is an incidence rate of 2.9 per 100,000 people. About 85 percent of TB cases in the U.S. are due to latent reactivation, Lobue estimated.

The 2016 numbers reflect a drop of 259 cases from the 9,546 reported for 2015, the first year that the number of cases had risen in the U.S. since 1992.

Eighteen states reported an uptick in cases, with just over half of the overall cases coming from four states: California, New York, Florida and Texas.

While funding for the CDC was not specified in the president’s “skinny budget” proposed March 16, health experts are concerned the CDC’s budget could be cut. The president’s proposed budget included an 18 percent cut to the budget of the National Institutes of Health and a proposed 28 percent cut to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development combined. NIH and USAID work alongside the CDC on TB control, research and prevention in the U.S. and around the globe.

Any cut in funding could be devastating, and costly, in the U.S. fight against tuberculosis, according to LoBue, who pointed out that health departments and CDC TB control efforts have prevented as many as 300,000 people from developing TB, saving an estimated $6 billion along the way.

“Cuts to funding could impact local and state health department TB prevention services. This could mean weakening the capacity of these health departments to investigate contacts of persons with TB disease or limiting their ability to analyze DNA of TB bacteria to test for drug resistance,” LoBue said. “This could lead to increases in TB cases and costs for the health care system.”

Wegener stressed that any cuts could devastatingly set back U.S. prevention efforts and that an increase in funding is needed to properly fight TB.

“We need a significant infusion of federal, state and local dollars. We need a commitment to address a national prevention effort for TB,” she said. “We are poised and ready to take this next step ― we just need the political will and funding commitments.”

Alissa Scheller created the graphics for this report.

And for more on battling TB in the U.S., read here.

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Nothing Better Than A (Relatively) Fast Tortoise Playing Ball

We learned two lessons from his recently posted video:

1) A tortoise’s legs can move faster than we thought.

2) There are few things cuter than a tortoise chasing a ball on a slippery floor.

It isn’t the cuddliest creature on the planet, and yet we find ourselves saying awwww a lot.

Just our tortoise absolutely losing its shit over a plastic ball, that’s all.
Scooby Doo legs and everything. pic.twitter.com/vfepuUyQRt

— Paul Milham (@paulmilham) March 14, 2017

h/t Laughing Squid

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Rep. Dave Brat: ‘Overwhelming Political Pressure’ from White House and GOP Leadership on AHCA

Rep. Dave Brat describes the “political pressure” placed by the White House and Republican leadership upon conservatives to vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as “overwhelming.”

U.S. Senate Votes To Overturn Obama Broadband Privacy Rules

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted narrowly to repeal regulations requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) or Facebook Inc (FB.O).

The vote was along party lines, with 50 Republicans approving the measure and 48 Democrats rejecting it. The two remaining Republicans in the Senate were absent and did not cast a vote.

According to the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama, internet providers would need to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

The vote was a victory for internet providers such as AT&T Inc (T.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), which had strongly opposed the rules.

The bill next goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, but it was not clear when they would take up the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate was overturning a regulation that “makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”

But Democratic Senator Ed Markey said, “Republicans have just made it easier for American’s sensitive information about their health, finances and families to be used, shared, and sold to the highest bidder without their permission.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said consumers would have privacy protections even without the Obama administration internet provider rules.

In a joint statement, Democratic members of the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission said the Senate vote “creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements.”

Republican commissioners, including Pai, said in October that the rules would unfairly give websites like Facebook, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) or Google the ability to harvest more data than internet service providers and thus dominate digital advertising. The FCC earlier this month delayed the data rules from taking effect.

The Internet and Television Association, a trade group, in a statement praised the vote as a “critical step towards re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online.”

Websites are governed by a less restrictive set of privacy rules overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for advocacy group Consumers Union, said the vote “is a huge step in the wrong direction, and it completely ignores the needs and concerns of consumers.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

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