Intel underfoot: Floor sensors rise as retail data source


Intel underfoot: Floor sensors rise as retail data source

The Associated Press
In this photo taken Dec. 5, 2017, Scanalytics co-founder and CEO Joe Scanlin holds a smart floor sensor his company creates that track people's movements in Milwaukee. The sensors are among the tools retailers are using to gain insights on consumer habits. (AP Photo/Ivan Moreno)

The next phase in data collection is right under your feet.

Online clicks give retailers valuable insight into consumer behavior, but what can they learn from footsteps? It's a question Milwaukee-based startup Scanalytics is helping businesses explore with floor sensors that track people's movements.

The sensors can also be used in office buildings to reduce energy costs and in nursing homes to determine when someone falls. But retailers make up the majority of Scanalytics' customers, highlighting one of several efforts brick-and-mortar stores are undertaking to better understand consumer habits and catch up with e-commerce giant Amazon.

Physical stores have been at a disadvantage because they "don't have that granular level of understanding as to where users are entering, what they're doing, what shelves are not doing well, which aisles are not being visited," said Brian Sathianathan, co-founder of, a small Denver-based company that helps businesses find and test technologies from startups worldwide.

But it's become easier for stores to track customers in recent years. With Wi-Fi — among the earliest available options — businesses can follow people when they connect to a store's internet. One drawback is that not everyone logs on so the sample size is smaller. Another is that it's not possible to tell whether someone is inches or feet away from a product.

Sunglass Hut and fragrance maker Jo Malone use laser and motion sensors to tell when a product is picked up but not bought, and make recommendations for similar items on an interactive display. Companies such as Toronto-based Vendlytics and San Francisco-based Prism use artificial intelligence with video cameras to analyze body motions. That can allow stores to deliver customized coupons to shoppers in real time on a digital shelf or on their cellphones, said Jon Nordmark, CEO of

With Scanalytics, Nordmark said, "to have (the sensors) be super useful for someone like a retailer, they may need to power other types of things," like sending coupons to customers.

Scanalytics co-founder and CEO Joe Scanlin said that's what his floor sensors are designed to do. For instance, the sensors read a customer's unique foot compressions to track that person's path to a digital display and how long the person stand in front of it before walking away, he said. Based on data collected over time, the floor sensors can tell a retailer the best time to offer a coupon or change the display before the customer loses interest.

"Something that in the moment will increase their propensity to purchase a product," said Scanlin, 29, who started developing the paper-thin sensors that are 2-square feet (0.19-sq. meters) as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2012. He employs about 20 people.

Wisconsin-based bicycle retailer Wheel and Sprocket uses Scanalytics' sensors — which can be tucked under utility mats — to count the number of customers entering each of its eight stores to help schedule staff.

"That's our biggest variable expense," said co-owner Noel Kegel. "That sort of makes or breaks our profitability."

Kegel wants to eventually have sensors in more areas throughout his stores to measure where customers spend most of their time and what products are popular, but he said it's too expensive right now.

The cost of having the sensors ranges from $20 to $1,000 per month, depending on square footage and add-on applications to analyze data or interact with digital signs, Scanlin said. He said he's working with 150 customers in the U.S. and other countries and estimates that about 60 percent are retailers.

The emergence of tracking technologies is bound to raise concerns about privacy and surveillance. But Scanlin noted his sensors don't collect personally identifying information.

Jeffrey Lenon, 47, who was recently shopping at the Shops of Grand Avenue mall in Milwaukee, said he wasn't bothered by the idea of stores tracking foot traffic and buying habits.

"If that's helping the retailer as far as tracking what sells and what no, I think it's a good idea," Lenon said.

These technologies have not become ubiquitous in the U.S. yet, but it's only a matter of time, said Ghose Anindya, a business professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.

"In a couple of years this kind of conversation will be like part and parcel of everyday life. But I don't think we're there yet," he said.


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Measles alert issued for Chicago O’Hare air travelers


Measles alert issued for Chicago O'Hare air travelers

PlayJoe Raedle/Getty Images, FILE

WATCH A brief history: Measles in America

A measles alert was issued Monday, four days after an air passenger who was diagnosed with the highly contagious virus passed through two terminals at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Somewhere between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Jan. 10, according to a statement obtained by ABC News and released by the Illinois Department of Public Health, "a passenger on an international flight with a confirmed case of measles arrived in Terminal 5" of the airport and the person "departed on a domestic flight from Terminal 1."

The statement warned that this passenger "was infectious that day" and "may have traveled to other parts of the airport."

This marks at least the second potential measles exposure case this year involving U.S. aiports.

Last week, a female college student traveling from Mumbai, India, traveling to Indianapolis International Airport by way of Newark Liberty International Airport, was confirmed to have been diagnosed with measles.

In that alert, the State of New Jersey Department of Health warned passengers who may have been at the airport on Jan. 2 that "an international traveler" who was alone had been stricken with "a confirmed case of measles" and subsequently went into "self-isolation."

The virus can be contracted through the air and symptoms such as rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes may not surface until days or weeks later.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said it's possible that symptoms may not show, for those who may have been affected by the passenger at Chicago O'Hare, until as late as Jan. 31.

The agency did not divulge which flights or airline carriers the measles-infected passenger flew, or the treatment the passenger may be receiving.

A spokesperson for the agency told ABC News that, "Those who were considered most at risk are being contacted directly by health officials."

In the statement, the agency said anyone else concerned about possible measles infection should "call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, anyone traveling internationally "is at risk of getting infected" and should make sure they are up-to-date with measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations to protect themselves and the larger community.

The agency added that the "majority of people who get the measles were unvaccinated."

Last year, 120 people from 15 states reported contracting measles, according to the CDC. The agency said that the majority of people who contract the disease are unvaccinated.

In 2014, a record 667 cases of measles were reported to the CDC — the greatest number since measles was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000.

There have been multiple outbreaks infecting hundreds in states such as Ohio and California, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported.

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Zeta-Jones says Michael Douglas is a ‘Me Too’ supporter

Zeta-Jones says Michael Douglas is a 'Me Too' supporter

PlayThe Associated Press

WATCH 'Me Too' movement takes center stage at Golden Globes

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Catherine Zeta-Jones says that husband Michael Douglas, who has denied allegations of sexual harassment, is a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement.

"Michael is 110 percent behind this movement," says Zeta-Jones, who noted that the 73-year-old Douglas is both the husband and son of actresses. "He's been in this business working creatively with women for over 50 years."

Zeta-Jones spoke Sunday in Pasadena while promoting the TV movie "Cocaine Godmother."

Earlier this month, Douglas issued what he called a pre-emptive denial of allegations, yet to be published, that he harassed an employee in the 1980s and damaged her career.

He acknowledged using "colorful language" but otherwise said the harassment story was a lie and that he was proud of his reputation.

Zeta-Jones did not directly address the allegations Sunday. But she said she was "very, very happy" with his statement and felt that he expressed himself "in a very, very concise, clear and personal manner."

Douglas' parents are the actors Kirk Douglas and Diana Douglas.

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5 Adult Behaviors of Someone That Experienced Trauma As A Child


“Childhood trauma can result from anything that makes a child feel helpless and disrupts their sense of safety and security, including: sexual, physical, or verbal abuse; domestic violence; an unstable or unsafe environment; separation from a parent; neglect; bullying; serious illness; or intrusive medical procedures.” ~ Casa Palmera Treatment Center


This one word accurately describes the effects of childhood trauma.

Imagine how trauma – whether acquired by abuse, domestic violence, parental separation, bullying, neglect, illness, or something else – can impact a young person’s sense of self, and the world around him or her.

Trauma and Adulthood

Trauma, of course, doesn’t merely ‘stop’ once someone becomes an adult. The human brain grows fastest between the ages of 0 to 6 years and, often, the trauma is hardwired into the person’s mind.

An individual suffering from trauma experienced during childhood is often unaware how it is impacting their life – the reason being that recall of specific childhood events is buried somewhere in the subconscious. Stories abound of patients who, during a therapy session, experience the surfacing of traumatic memories. While a vital step in the recovery process, recalling instances of trauma can be overwhelming.

Here are five behaviors that a victim of childhood trauma displays through adulthood:

1. Chronic tension

Trauma originating outside of the body (e.g., abuse, assault, stress) causes the brain to activate the fight-or-flight response. Stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine flood the body, which prepares to defend itself. During this time, our body automatically tenses up.

The problem is that tension doesn’t always dissipate once the threat is removed or neutralized. In this case, the brain’s neural networks will maintain a state of hypervigilance, acting as if the threat remains and preparing the body accordingly.

2. Social withdrawal

Research demonstrates that childhood trauma contributes to Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD. Parental abuse (e.g., denigrating, insulting, swearing, verbal aggression) and emotional neglect (i.e., not feeling cared for, loved, or nurtured) relate directly to the onset of SAD.

Victims of childhood trauma who demonstrate social withdrawal often do so out of anxiety and fear. SAD patients report feeling “an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others,” and may isolate themselves to prevent this feeling.

3. Persistent panic

Both anxious and non-anxious brains are continually learning. Unlike the anxious person, however, a non-anxious individual can more easily ‘unlearn’ life’s lessons that it encounters. An anxious person has a hard time with this.

To illustrate, imagine a situation where two people who have received a poor performance review are scheduled to follow up with their manager.

The non-anxious person is much more likely to interpret the meeting as a non-threatening, neutral event unless told otherwise. The anxious person, on the other hand, may begin to panic about receiving a second negative review.

Worse, their anxious brain may be unable to concentrate on anything other than the meeting. They remain in a constant state of worry unless told otherwise.

4. Fear avoidance

It is human nature to circumvent the things we fear, but childhood trauma victims take this avoidance to the extreme. While you may have an innate fear of going to the dentist, you’ll probably still go. Why? Because the benefits of taking action overrule the fear response.

Far too often, adults with a history of trauma allow fear to dictate their actions. Using the dentist visit scenario, they’re more likely to give into the impulse to avoid the dentist; essentially allowing fear to cripple their intentions. The strong urge to avoid things seen as even remotely threatening can seriously impede on quality of life.

5. Underachievement

Researchers from the University of Florida and George Mason University link child trauma to a host of poor life outcomes.

From the paper:

“For students, the results of academic underachievement reach beyond the educational setting, often leading to deviant behaviors, fewer opportunities in life, and difficulty earning a living wage.”

The research team also found a correlation between socioeconomic status and traumatic stress. People who come from a disadvantaged background are 65% more likely to have experienced trauma as a child than someone from a middle-class background.

Getting Help

First and most important, if you know of a child being maltreated or abused, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency. It is never too late to begin healing the wounds of the past. While taking action may be difficult, proper treatment – even if it’s someone lending an ear – can make a big difference.

Per, a reputable organization focusing on mental health, there are four things someone can do immediately to begin the healing their traumatic past.

1. Exercise

“Trauma disrupts your body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets ‘stuck.’”

Do some physical activity for 30 minutes, five days per week. If this seems like too much of a commitment, try doing 3, 10-minute bursts of exercise per day.

2. Don’t isolate yourself

“Connecting to others face to face will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.”

3. Regulate your nervous system

This one is important, so please pay close attention.

“No matter how agitated, anxious, or out of control you feel, it’s important to know that you can change your arousal system and calm yourself.”

Lower your arousal levels by engaging in mindful breathing or meditation. Take 60 breaths, focusing your attention on each exhale.

4. Look after your health

“It’s true: having a healthy body can increase your ability to cope with the stress of trauma.”

The authors recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating well-balanced meals, and proactively reducing stress.

(C)Power of Positivity, LLC. All rights reserved

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5 Hidden Behaviors A Hypocrite Displays Before Revealing Themselves


“A theatrical mask from the 1st century B.C.E. ‘Hypocrite; comes from the Greek word ‘hypokrites,’ which means “an actor.” The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” ~ Merriam-Webster

People (REALLY) Dislike Hypocrites

Tennessee Williams once said, “The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that is also a hypocrite.” Agreed, Mr. Williams. Lying is bad enough, but lying about lying? That’s dishonesty at its most scandalous.

Hypocrites are the people who try their damnedest to convey a sense of virtue, only to reveal that they’re about as deep as a puddle. Unsurprisingly, people despise hypocrisy.

According to a study in Psychological Science, people dislike hypocrites more than those who openly admit to engaging in a behavior that they disapprove of.

“People dislike hypocrites because they unfairly use condemnation to gain reputational benefits and appear virtuous at the expense of those who they are condemning–when these reputational benefits are in fact undeserved,” explains psychological scientist Jillian Jordan of Yale University, a co-author on the study.

Another study by researchers at the University of Southern California showed that hypocrisy is made up of at least one of the following behaviors:

(1) Moral double standards occur when a person is vindictive about a perceived offensive act of someone else; yet, shows little hesitance or guilt in doing the same thing. (Example: cutting someone off in traffic.)

(2) Moral duplicity is generally the one we use to define the act. Moral duplicity is when someone claims to be honorable in their motives, but this is known to be a complete falsehood. (Example: a politician citing neutral views on an issue despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.)

(3) Moral weakness is a type of cognitive disconnect wherein a person’s beliefs or morals are trumped by their lack of self-control; thereby, they engage in the act knowing it to be wrong. (Example: a clergy member taking a vow of celibacy and then engaging in sexual acts.)

‘Pre-emptive Hypocrisy’

Do hypocrites display any peculiar behaviors before revealing themselves as the frauds they are? Yes, as a matter of fact.

Here are five such behaviors:

1. Inconsistencies

Of course, one may be inconsistent without being hypocritical. For example, an unpredictable employee who is capable of great performance may demonstrate inconsistent effort and results. They’re not hypocrites; they’re unreliable.

But hypocrites’ inconsistencies tend to be more calculated, and related more to word and deed – and this behavior gets worse as time passes. They’ll say one thing and do something else more frequently.

2. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

High expectations of others and little to no expectations of themselves. Perhaps this is all that needs to be said. The hypocrite may be articulate and charming in their manipulative efforts, but they’ll never emulate any standard they set forth for others.

Dean Burnett, a writer for The Guardian, uses the British political scene to emphasize this point: “Where do people get off dictating how others should behave, putting restrictions on what they can say and do that they don’t adhere to themselves? It’s wrong and immoral, and shows that they can’t be trusted.” Pretty much.

3. Playing the victim

Make no mistake: hypocrisy and narcissism are two peas in a pod. “Like peas and carrots,” as Forrest Gump would say. Both groups of people will always try to play the victim. Never is this act so evident as when they’re caught for being in the wrong.

Hypocrites can also be quite crafty. They may use sleight of hand to shake off any blame placed their way. This “Woe is me” attitude wears quite thin after a while.

4. An aura of superiority

A hypocrite’s level of arrogance and superiority is borderline narcissistic. Attempt to engage them as equals, as you’ll likely walk away feeling like a student who has just been reprimanded by the teacher. They’ll (directly or indirectly) mock your intellect, maturity (oh, the irony!), or stability.

Similar to playing the victim, this condescending veil will wear thin as the relationship progresses. After all, when no one likes you, it’s pointless to act superior!

5. They start being nice to “the right people.”

Watch a hypocrite carefully enough, and you’ll inevitably see their two-faced attitude come to the surface. The “important” people, i.e., those with power, will bear the brunt of a hypocrite’s inauthenticity. If those “important people” are smart, they’ll dismiss the charlatan without prejudice.

You see, hypocrites like to believe that they belong to a certain “class,” despite their victim-playing, complaining, and outright lying. The only “class” to which these fraudsters belong is alongside all the other phonies.

(C)Power of Positivity, LLC. All rights reserved

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UK air force scrambles 2 fighters as Russian jets fly nearby


UK air force scrambles 2 fighters as Russian jets fly nearby

The Associated Press
FILE – This is a July 21, 2017 file photo of an Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jet. Britain's defense ministry said Monday Jan. 15, 2018 that the Royal Air Force scrambled two fighter jets as Russian planes neared U.K. airspace another illustration of ongoing tensions. The RAF has confirmed a "quick reaction alert," deploying Typhoon aircraft from a base in Scotland, but military authorities say nothing has been intercepted. (Owen Humphreys/PA, File via AP)

Britain's Royal Air Force scrambled two fighter jets to intercept Russian strategic bombers near U.K. airspace on Monday, in another illustration of ongoing tensions.

The RAF confirmed that it sent Typhoon aircraft from the Lossiemouth base in Scotland on a "quick reaction alert" as two Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack bombers approached Britain.

"The Russian aircraft were initially monitored by a variety of friendly nation fighters and subsequently intercepted by the RAF in the North Sea," the air force said. "At no point did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign U.K. airspace."

Russia's Defense Ministry said the pair of bombers flew over the Barents, Norwegian and North seas during a 13-hour training mission that covered neutral waters, in line with international norms.

"All flights by Russian aircraft are performed in strict accordance with international rules for using airspace without infringement on any countries' borders," the ministry said in a statement.

Encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes have become increasingly frequent as Moscow has demonstrated its resurgent military might.

Russia also has increased its navy's presence in the Mediterranean and other areas.

Last week, the HMS Westminster, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, was ordered to intercept two Russian corvettes and two supporting vessels that neared U.K. waters en route to their Baltic base.

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Inside ‘Madam Secretary’s’ Trump-Like Impeachment Episode


Inside 'Madam Secretary's' Trump-Like Impeachment Episode

Keith Carradine plays the president of the U.S. on CBS' 'Madam Secretary.'

Co-star Keith Carradine, who plays the president on the CBS drama, talks with THR about the show's real-life parallels.

[This story contains spoilers from the Jan. 14 episode of CBS' Madam Secretary.]

During Sunday's Madam Secretary, the drama addressed a debate that has been playing out in the media for months: Does the 25th Amendment allow a president to be removed from office if his cabinet deems him mentally unfit? At least in the alternate-future Washington depicted on the CBS political drama, the answer is a resounding "yes."

First, a quick recap: When the American embassy in Bulgaria is seemingly targeted by a sonic attack that's traced back to Russian operatives, an uncharacteristically hawkish President Dalton (Keith Carradine) orders his Secretary of Defense (Mike Pniewski) to fire nuclear missiles at the country's satellites — and then fires him when he refuses to carry out the order. Alarmed by the commander-in-chief's suddenly unhinged behavior, Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (series star Tea Leoni) and the rest of the cabinet vote to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip him of his powers, thereby avoiding a potential armed conflict.

Later in the episode, President Dalton's bizarre behavior is chalked up not to a psychological break, but rather a benign brain tumor that had been pushing on his frontal lobe (ironically, the part of the brain responsible for "executive function"). After his symptoms are temporarily relieved by a course of steroids, he gives an inspirational speech in which he praises his cabinet for being "true American heroes and patriots…[who] put their country ahead of their personal relationship with me." He concludes: "It's what separates us from dictatorships and oligarchies. Without people of such courage, our democracy would be lost."

Amid the deeply divided American political landscape of 2018, that's a hot-button statement that could easily be interpreted as a warning (plea?) to those in the current Trump administration. Indeed, among the show's right-wing fans, the potential for outrage is high: last season, an episode that saw President Dalton taking a stand against climate change deniers raised the ire of some conservative viewers. And yet Carradine — who has played Dalton on all four seasons of the political series — denies there's a partisan agenda at work.

"I don't think so, only because this is fiction," the actor tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We are hypothesizing a circumstance that is not directly the circumstance or the conversation that is being had today in all of the media and all of the conversations surrounding Trump. Those are very different issues from what we're looking at in our fictitious episode here.… The fact is, this is a circumstance where there is a very legitimate medical issue that is at the heart of what's going on. And that ultimately, the good of the country takes precedent.… Because that's what we are speaking to, I would hope that any reasonable viewer would appreciate that."

If Carradine's answer sounds too diplomatic (even disingenuous), it's in keeping with showrunner Barbara Hall's stated intention to make a series that appeals to everyone, regardless of how they identify politically. Indeed, Dalton's own political affiliation wasn't named until season three, when he ran for re-election as…an independent (though many viewers have justifiably pegged him as an erstwhile Republican). "I think the proof is in the pudding, in that we do have such a broad audience," Carradine says of the show's nonpartisan mandate. "And thus far, I think we've managed to present our stories and present the positions and the discussions and the problems that need to be solved in a way that doesn't scream any kind of a partisan position."

And yet, in a pivotal scene that sees President Dalton making aggressive statements toward Russia during a news conference, one line in particular closely mirrors the rhetoric President Trump aimed at North Korea last summer. "I will tell you this: If we confirm that Russia is behind it, they are going to feel the overwhelming force and ferocity of our military might," Dalton says. Meanwhile, back in August, Trump said this: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

So, is this a case of art imitating life, or just another uncanny coincidence from a show that has become known for inadvertently predicting future events (including, in one case, the Iran nuclear deal)? Carradine claims it's the latter.

"This script was written before [Trump] said any of those things. So, I'm not sure who's imitating who here," says the actor. "I've often joked with Barbara Hall and everyone about what kind of deal they have made with some devil somewhere that they are able to do these things and address these subjects and then have them be on the air in such an extraordinarily timely way. It's a little weird."

As for Carradine's thoughts about Trump, the actor, in keeping with the nonpartisan tone of the series, says he prefers to keep his politics close to the vest. "That's not a place where I want to play," he says. Carradine was forthcoming, however, on one issue that pertains to the latest episode of his show: the recent statements by a number of prominent psychiatrists that question Trump's mental fitness for office.

"As a public person, I do think there is a great danger in remote diagnosis," says Carradine. "It's one thing to have a person who has actually submitted themselves, or who has actually been personally examined, and has agreed to such an examination and whatever's determined as a result of such a thing. But for people to speculate — even though they are certainly qualified.… I think that is dangerous, and I don't think it serves the discussion. I think that we need to keep our wits about us here and not become histrionic in the way we're looking at something that seems histrionic at its core. I think that to respond to extreme behavior extremely, it doesn't serve anybody."

Unlike the political problems of the real world, the serious dilemma at the heart of "Sound and Fury" — the episode's title — is neatly solved by hour's end thanks to competent, serious political operatives who have the best interests of the American people at heart. That would count as pure fantasy no matter the era, but in 2018, the resolution feels particularly far-fetched. As for Carradine — who initially termed the series "idealistic" before rephrasing it as "aspirational" — he remains hopeful for America's future despite the fraught nature of modern-day politics. Perhaps the show's high-minded optimism has rubbed off on him. "One of the things that I think that our show does is, it's kind of a reminder of how it can be," he says. "And I would like to think that it's a reminder of where we can be again."

Spoken like a true president — TV or otherwise.

Madam Secretary
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Melania Trump’s style evokes Europe roots, not America First

Melania Trump's style evokes Europe roots, not America First

The Associated Press
FILE – In this July 13, 2017 file photo, Melania Trump, center, walks the tarmac after arriving with President Donald Trump on Air Force One at Orly Airport, south of Paris. Slovenian-born Melania Trump has been unafraid to go against her husband’s “America First” agenda, and stay true to her roots, if there’s a message to be taken from her bold, foreign-flavored first lady wardrobe in 2017. She is wearing a red Dior skirt suit. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Slovenian-born Melania Trump has been unafraid to go against her husband's "America First" agenda and stay true to her roots, if there's a message to be taken from her bold, foreign-flavored wardrobe in 2017.

In her first year as first lady, Mrs. Trump has often wrapped herself in the clothes of her home continent as several American designers publicly refused to dress her in what was a fashion industry-wide backlash against her unpopular spouse.

The first first lady to be born in continental Europe, Trump grew up in Sevnica in Slovenia, in the southern Balkans, just over 100km (62 miles) from the Italian border. Her first real taste for fashion came while living in Paris as a young model in the mid-1990s, years before she got U.S. citizenship in 2006.

From designs by Dolce & Gabbana, Del Pozo, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy and Valentino to daringly-high Christian Louboutin heels, the 47-year-old first lady's touchstones have not only been the Old World, but its most established — and expensive — design houses.

As the wife of a billionaire, Mrs. Trump can afford to spend into the five figures for a garment and seems unconcerned about how that squares with voters in President Donald Trump's political base.

Since becoming first lady, Mrs. Trump has chosen Herve Pierre, a French-born immigrant, as her fashion adviser. Politics be damned: He's helped her hone looks that emphasize the sleeve, eye-popping colors and big sunglasses, and show off her svelte, 5-foot-11 frame and thick, dark hair.

"In the news, we speak a lot of politics, so if for a moment we can forget about it and enjoy something else, why not?" Pierre told AP.

Mrs. Trump's old-school, dressed-to-the-nines glamour and full fabrics evoke distance not only in how far the clothes have had to travel, but in perceptions that the first lady, who only moved to the White House in June and rarely speaks publicly, is reserved in her persona.

Not since Jackie Kennedy has a U.S. first lady had such a European aesthetic as Mrs. Trump.

Although she wore Ralph Lauren to the inauguration and has also shown a penchant for U.S. brands such as Michael Kors and Calvin Klein, many of her most recognizable looks have been foreign designed and assembled.

It's a striking contrast with Michelle Obama — who famously used her first lady wardrobe as a way of championing often young American designers, and with Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, who stuck closely to U.S. fashion brands.

Most of Mrs. Trump's clothes are bought off-the-rack from a retailer without the design house's knowledge that the garment is destined for the first lady.

This is highly unusual — and contrasts with Mrs. Obama's frequent collaborations with designers.

Perhaps it's not Mrs. Trump's choice, given her husband's unpopularity.

People from 17 fashion brands that Mrs. Trump wears declined to comment on the first lady when contacted by AP, even though she is among the world's most photographed women.

It's a deafening silence, especially given that it's an industry Mrs. Trump actually worked in.

Walking the path of both foreign and highly priced glamour presents its share of risks for any first lady. (Mrs. Kennedy was criticized for wearing Parisian stalwart Chanel.)

But in an "America First" administration, Mrs. Trump is particularly vulnerable to criticism as her husband assails immigration and plays to blue-collar supporters.

While the fashion press gushed over a brightly colored, floral D&G silk coat Mrs. Trump wore in Sicily in May, political commentators didn't have such a rosy view of the garment's over-$50,000 price tag.

It cost, they quickly pointed out, more than the average annual U.S. household income. Mrs. Trump was criticized for a Marie Antoinette-style wardrobe as the president's ill-fated attempt to repeal "Obamacare" was being considered, an effort that might have stripped millions of people of their insurance.

She was praised for getting it right when she wore $50 converse sneakers and $185 J Brand jeans (despite the $1,100 Balmain shirt) during a day spent digging around the White House vegetable garden with children.

Since the television age, the first lady's wardrobe has invariably invited vibrant political critique.

It's an impossible game to win.

Mrs. Obama was criticized for wearing $540 Lanvin sneakers at a food bank in Washington — despite twinning them with a more affordable J.Crew cardigan.

Rosalynn Carter was berated during the 1970s oil crisis for being too unglamorous when she wore an off-the-rack gown to the 1977 inaugural ball, after having worn it to a previous ball.

If there's a message in Mrs. Trump's fashion — it's that she dresses to look good, in keeping with the expensive personal taste she's acquired since marrying Trump in 2005. Political meaning isn't part of the equation.

"She does not concern herself with what others think about her fashion and always stays true to herself," Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told AP. "Mrs. Trump wears what she likes, and what is appropriate for the occasion."

Adds Pierre, via email: "She has and had already a very personal style in fashion, before she was first lady. As you can see she likes suits and structured dresses, I work keeping her vision in mind."

Sometimes, Mrs. Trump's looks contain a veiled reference to the event she's dressing for.

She wore an iconic piece of French fashion — a red Christian Dior bar jacket — for the Trumps' visit to Paris in July.

But the references vary in degrees of subtlety and can sometimes be heavy-handed.

In May, Mrs. Trump passed up the traditional headscarf in Saudi Arabia in favor of a Ralph Lauren shirtdress in khaki. The dress evoked the Arabian Desert, and its military-style epaulettes and pockets suggested the garb of troops in the Middle East.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the White House, Mrs. Trump dressed in a maxi-dress from Italian house Pucci. The gown's wild print and bright yellow color might well have been chosen to capture the vibrancy of the subcontinent and the hue of its flag.

Mrs. Trump has a great passion for fashion, and alongside former Carolina Herrera design chief Pierre, has shown she's not afraid of bold style statements even if it upstages her political ventures.

The bright pink belted Del Pozo dress with dramatic leg of mutton sleeves that she wore for an address at the United Nations seemed to take precedence over the actual speech she gave on the importance of protecting children's interests.

When she departed the White House to visit hurricane-damaged Texas last year, her impractically high stilettos, though chic, upstaged the trip and set off a social media backlash. She changed into sensible sneakers before deplaning in Texas, but the damage already had been done.

Much like her husband, who has tried to undo much of Barack Obama's legacy, many of Mrs. Trump's fashion choices seem to be the polar opposite of her predecessor's.

Her high-end European clothes contrast with Mrs. Obama's buy-American wardrobe priority and the relatable image she honed by mixing high-priced garments with more popular brands.

Mrs. Obama was associated with sleeveless styles that showed off her famously toned arms — and promoted her get-fit initiatives as first lady.

Mrs. Trump's signature style is the dramatic, often covered, sleeve.

A white sheath from British designer Roksanda that Mrs. Trump wore at the Republican National Convention gained attention for its striking bell sleeves. Mrs. Trump also garnered attention for wearing a bright red Givenchy cape dress with bold floppy sleeves as she joined the president for a trip to Palm Beach, Florida. In another twist on that style, Mrs. Trump sometimes wears coats, such as a pink number in October by Swedish house Acne, draped over the shoulders with the sleeves hanging limp. It does away with the hands — and adds to the subliminal message that her priority is to be a fashionable, but not hands-on, first lady.

Madrid-based fashion house Del Pozo has gained unparalleled publicity for its sculptural, pret-a-couture creations being worn by Mrs. Trump, but that hasn't affected its communications policy.

The house told AP: "Melania Trump is a normal client that buys from a retailer in the U.S. and we don't comment on private clients. We've never had contact with her team."

By contrast, designers generally were eager to talk about dressing Mrs. Obama.

Many may have heeded lessons from the unpleasant experience of a few designers who have supported Mrs. Trump publicly — such as Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana and Beirut-born Reem Acra. They all faced criticism on social media and would not comment to AP.

Stefano Gabbana told his online critics to "go to hell" when he revealed himself to be among Mrs. Trump's most passionate supporters — posting a photo of her in D&G on his Instagram account to instant criticism.

And when Mrs. Trump wore Ralph Lauren at the White House, some even threatened to boycott the house.

For the fashion industry, it's perhaps a case of once bitten, twice shy.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at—K


Associated Press writer Nancy Benac in Washington and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report

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How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Will Remain Relevant in a Trump and #MeToo World


How 'The Handmaid's Tale' Will Remain Relevant in a Trump and #MeToo World

Showrunner Bruce Miller talks with THR about how season two of the award-winning Hulu drama will continue to explore parallels with Trump, the Time's Up movement and more: "You can't avoid the influence."

Its meteoric cultural impact is but one of the many reasons why Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale became an award-winning lightning rod of a television series. And the streaming service, which recently topped 17 million subscribers, hopes that the Elisabeth Moss starrer from showrunner Bruce Miller continues to be as culturally relevant in April as its first season was when it was filmed before Donald Trump was elected president.

Based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel of the same name, with the adaptation first bowing on Hulu in April 2017, The Handmaid's Tale centers on Offred (Moss), formerly known as June, and formerly in control of her own life. That all changed when religious zealots forcefully seized control over the United State of America and turned it into the dystopian nation of Gilead, a world in which men wield absolute power over women, many of whom now serve as "handmaids," tasked with reproduction in an increasingly sterile society.

Released in the months following Trump's election, and in the midst of a rising tide of activism against systemic misogyny, The Handmaid's Tale arrived with painfully relevant cultural impact, with the now-iconic uniform of the handmaids worn worldwide at protests, just as one example of the show's widely felt significance.

"It's a costume that people have taken beyond the show and out into the real world," Miller tells The Hollywood Reporter about how The Handmaid's Tale has transcended television to become part of a global conversation. "It's amazing."

Season two of the Hulu series, premiering with two episodes April 25 (and subsequent installments of the 13-episode season releasing Wednesdays), stands poised to continue the trend of interacting with the modern moment. Speaking with THR, Miller addresses how Trump's election impacted the Handmaid's Tale's writers' room, season two's parallels with the Time's Up and #MeToo movements and the reckoning against sexual assault and harassment throughout Hollywood, and what's in store for Offred as she contends with her pregnancy in the grim universe of Gilead and more.

Season two of The Handmaid's Tale will push the story beyond the book. In that regard, how much of a role is Margaret Atwood playing in the series and shaping the story of Offred moving forward?

Margaret and I started talking about season two in the middle of season one. She plays a huge role. She's the mother of us all. Usually when you adapt a classic book, you're not lucky enough to have the author around. We are very lucky to not just have her around, but very much energetic and involved. She was in the writers' room very early in the season. We've been talking throughout, and she's been reading everything. She's very involved. She's our guiding star, and always has been. We also often will try to bring her into our heads via ouija board. (Laughs.) We're always trying to make sure the "Atwoodness" of the show stays front and center. Even though we're going beyond the story that's covered in the book, in some ways, we're still very much in the world of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

What has been your greatest creative challenge as you plotted out season two?

The biggest challenge was season one, honestly. With season one, we have been so lucky that it's been so successful, well-reviewed and well-regarded by so many people. It's wonderful, and also terrifying. It can put a lot of pressure on you. You don't want to mess up something that's working. The hardest thing about approaching season two was saying, "Let's just do what we did in season one. Let's think about it and try to tell a story that's interesting, entertaining, good television, and go from there." But that was the biggest emotional hurdle. Creatively, the biggest hurdle was trimming down [stories]. There are so many interesting places to go and things to follow in Margaret Atwood's world, that that was our big problem. We kept a list going in season one of places we talked about or mentioned as really wanting to see — like the colonies, or Little America in Toronto. The list was way too long for one season. That was the biggest challenge, creatively. It's as much about what not to do as it is about what you end up including in the season.

Season one was produced and conceived before the 2016 presidential election. How has Trump's election influenced the types of stories you're telling in season two?

First of all, you can't avoid the influence. Our writing staff is a news junky bunch, very politically active and thinking a lot about politics, very engaged in the world. Most of [the writing staff] has children and they think about what the world will mean for them. It's a big influence on the way you think about everything in your life, which definitely bleeds into the story-making process. But America has its own issues that don't necessarily align with the issues at play in Gilead, or even a pre-Gilead America. You have to be careful not to draw too many parallels. Being worried and having lots of anxiety and having a government that's trying to split us into groups and pit one of us against each other, those are things that take place both in Gilead and in here [in our country]. But the harder part is trying not to draw too many direct parallels, and be happy with the parallels that do exist without trying to create other ones out of thin air.

Do you see any parallels between season two of Handmaid's and the sexual harassment and assault reckoning we're seeing in our culture now?

Absolutely. I don't know how much of it is the institutional and open misogyny of the world of Gilead, coupled with the open misogyny that's being revealed to us now — the way men treat women. For me, the biggest feeling you get is, "God, what have I been missing? These terrible things have been happening to people that I love, and I don't even know about them." You feel like an idiot, more than anything else, like a baby who hasn't been noticing these things that are going on everywhere. Inevitably, when you do a show where one of the big aspects is a very, very sharp divide between the role of men and women and the power structure, you can't help but be pushing up against the same thoughts and ideas that are going on behind this movement. It would be asinine not to. Relationships between men and women are fascinating and complicated, and have made great television for years, and great theater for about 5,000 years. You would be dumb not to see the parallels between that world and this world.

Also on our show, it's a female-driven show that's run by a man. We've certainly had those discussions internally. We're constantly trying to create a safer and more comfortable work place, and this has opened our eyes to how unsafe and uncomfortable it can be for some people. We've redoubled our efforts to make sure we have an environment where people can talk about this stuff, so that if there are problems, we can solve them, so they aren't hidden from view for years and years and people have to suffer. The only way to solve anything is for people to talk about the problems.

How has the global response to The Handmaid's Tale — people wearing the costumes in protests — changed how you and your team feel about the show you're making?

It's been awe-inspiring. It's been an influence in terms of understanding how iconic the show has become visually. The visual connotes a whole political point of view, which is really fascinating. Especially for Ane Crabtree, who created the costumes. It's a costume that people have taken beyond the show and out into the real world. It's amazing. You really feel like you're giving people a chance to express themselves in a complicated way, which is what you're trying to do on television: taking something complicated that you can think about in simpler ways. We've all been in awe of that. We have had some really lovely responses, thanks to Twitter and other things, from other countries. Seeing how the show works in other cultures is fascinating, in how they view America. We're not a country based in religious freedom; we're founded by people who wanted everyone to be one religion. The way that America and its genesis is viewed by other countries has been fascinating, the things they're surprised to see Gilead has maintained and the things they aren't surprised about at all.

Story-wise, season two will focus largely on Offred's pregnancy. You also announced at TCA that she will be on the run this season. How will these two developments in her life alter the nature of the show?

For me, the nature of the show has always been to follow Offred. It's called The Handmaid's Tale, and it's about this woman in this situation. I try not to think about it in ways that are much more complicated than that. That's my structure, the point of view, the heart of how I watch the show: through Offred. But in season two, in the same way season one was hopefully not predictable and kind of surprising, there are so many possible threats and minefields for Offred that you can find drama anywhere. The biggest thing about season two is that no matter what you guess or read about it, you're probably not getting a complete picture. It's more complicated than that. Also, I want it to be entertaining. It's TV. You don't want to know what's going to happen and how it's going to happen early on. That's no fun. For me, part of the whole point was making it unpredictable. You want to make it realistic, but also unpredictable. Early on, you'll find that almost all of the things you think this season will be about, will be wrong or just a little bit off, to the point that what happens next will surprise you in a good way.

The second episode will center on a story in the colonies, featuring Marisa Tomei as a new character. Structurally, will you be doing more stand-alone episodes this season? Installments that focus on certain groups of characters while pausing on other stories?

No. I think we have a really integrated season. We do sometimes focus on one character's story more than others. I'm not the kind of guy who thinks we need to check in on this person or check in on that story — that's not how we do it. But the stories we're telling don't leave Offred behind, or the other characters behind, to follow another story. Offred is still the show. The stand-alone episodes, sometimes can be very entertaining, but it has to be super strong if we're going to leave behind our main narrative for a while. In this case, every day that goes by, Offred gets a little more pregnant — so there's a lot going on there.

Tomei will guest-star this season, playing a commander's wife in episode two. Will she be a recurring character this season?

She could be a recurring character!

How did that casting come about, and what kinds of conversations about the world of Handmaid's did you and she have once she joined the series?

She was interested in the show and wanted to be on the show. There was a character we were thinking about very early on, and we thought she would be wonderful for her. We spoke about her independently. Those things just came together in a great way. Marisa and I had a couple of conversations beforehand. It's hard to do what she's doing: dropping out of the sky on the second season of a show that's so specific in terms of its world. You feel like the new kid on the block. Some of the talks we had were very practical: "It's going to be freezing. You're in the colonies, which are no fun. We don't do hair and makeup, really." But we also talked a lot about the character she's playing, who is the wife of a commander, and how she's integrated her relationship with god and her faith into her life, and the mistakes she's made, and whether god is forgiving her for those mistakes. We had very specific conversations about this character and her relationship with her religion, with Gilead — those kinds of things. It was great, to have a conversation with Marisa about faith and what it means and how it can keep you buoyed in a really difficult situation. It was absolutely fascinating. She's such a smart woman who has had so many different interesting life experiences. It was a pleasure talking with her. I would have had those conversations with her forever if she wanted.

Do you have a series arc in mind for Handmaid's at this point, now that you're beyond the pages of the book? How many seasons do you imagine it lasting?

I roughed it out to about 10 seasons when I was first working on it. I see a world beyond [the current one]. I would watch an episode about the Nuremberg trials after Gilead falls. There are lots of worlds you think of: "I would love that season — seasons eight, nine or 10, where everything has changed so much." But my arc is still very much the arc of the novel, which is the arc of this one woman's experience in Gilead at this time, and her recollections that paint this picture of what it was like and what the experience of this world was like, which really is still the book. People talk about how we're beyond the book, but we're not really. The book starts, then jumps 200 years with an academic discussion at the end of it, about what's happened in those intervening 200 years. It's maybe handled in an outline, but it's still there in Margaret's novel. We're not going beyond the novel; we're just covering territory she covered quickly, a bit more slowly.

What are your hopes for Handmaid's Tale season two? Sound off in the comments, and keep checking with for more coverage of the Hulu series.

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Plane in Turkey overshoots icy runway, stops on Black Sea cliff


Plane in Turkey overshoots icy runway, stops on side of Black Sea cliff


WATCH Boeing 737 passenger jet skids off runway, dangles off cliff in Turkey

A commercial jet carrying 168 people overshot an icy airstrip in northern Turkey on Saturday, getting wedged on a cliff just feet from the Black Sea.

Despite the horrifying image of the Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 seen teetering over a muddy cliff at Ankara-Tabzon Airport, all 162 passengers, two pilots, and four cabin crew were unharmed and were freed from its fuselage, the airline confirmed in a statement.

PHOTO: The site of accident where a Pegasus Airlines airplane skidded off the runway at Trabzon airport by the Black Sea in Trabzon, Turkey is pictured Jan. 14, 2018.Xinhua via Newscom
The site of accident where a Pegasus Airlines airplane skidded off the runway at Trabzon airport by the Black Sea in Trabzon, Turkey is pictured Jan. 14, 2018.

The plane came dangerously close to going into the Black Sea.

Afterward, the airport shut down operations until Sunday morning, and a probe was launched to figure out why the plane skidded off the runway, Trabzon Gov. Yucel Yavuz told Reuters.

PHOTO: A Boeing 737-800 of Turkeys Pegasus Airlines is pictured after skidding off the runway downhill towards the sea at the airport in Trabzon, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2018. HA-Depo Photos via AP
A Boeing 737-800 of Turkey's Pegasus Airlines is pictured after skidding off the runway downhill towards the sea at the airport in Trabzon, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2018.

Local prosecutors questioned four crew members and two pilots in the wake of the incident, authorities said. They said there were no signs of alcohol in the pilots’ systems.

The senior pilot on board told prosecutors that the plane’s right engine had suddenly started to speed up during the landing process, which pushed the plane toward the sea, authorities said. That pilot said he had handed control of the plane to his co-pilot after the plane touched down, before the engine sped up, authorities said.

Accounts from passengers on the plane appeared to confirm the pilot's testimony, officials said.

PHOTO: A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane sits on a cliff after skidding off the runway at Trabzons airport on the Black Sea coast in Turkey, Jan. 14, 2018.IHLAS NEWS AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images
A Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane sits on a cliff after skidding off the runway at Trabzon's airport on the Black Sea coast in Turkey, Jan. 14, 2018.

The investigation is ongoing and officials said they were still working to access the plane’s black boxes.

Pegasus said it would provide further updates when more information is available.

ABC News' Engin Bas contributed to this report from Lesbos, Greece.

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