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Meditate to the tax finish line



Meditate to the tax finish line

NEW YORK(Reuters) – Stressed out by the tax deadline on April 15?

FILE PHOTO: A tax sign is pictured on an H&R Block tax office in Los Angeles, California, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Yes, of course, there is an app for that.

Some 52 percent of Americans find the filing process stressful, according to a survey by tax-prep firm TaxSlayer. That is why wellness app Headspace is trying to talk us through this difficult time with a new guided meditation collection called “Money on the Mind.”

The popular app Happify also features two different four-week programs, or “tracks,” on money: “Stop Singing the Financial Blues,” and “How Money Can Buy Happiness.”

Around tax time last year, users clicked on Headspace’s “Balance” collection five times more than usual. And for its “Money on the Mind” collection of meditations, usage of that content spiked by 60 percent.

This April, Headspace is making some of its money-related content free to all its 45 million members. More content is available to paying subscribers.

“These moments are triggers for stress, and so our users come to us for support about how to cope,” said Megan Jones Bell, Headspace’s chief science officer.

Some 20 to 25 percent of Americans wait until the final few weeks before the deadline to file their returns, according to a survey by tax-software firm TurboTax, a division of Intuit Inc.

And for those who are not able to sign on the dotted line in time, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is projecting almost 15 million extension requests this year.

If you are up against the deadline and need to clear your head, consider these tips:

* Carve out time.

Wellness apps like Headspace use a combination of guided meditation, advice and courses to help users free their minds. It can feel counterintuitive that just sitting and breathing is going to help you with the 100 different tasks that need to be accomplished to complete your tax return.

But carve some space for this into your day and build it into your routine or it will not get done.

Bell suggests logging on in the morning, when new habits have a better chance of taking root and being sustained. The best results in stress reduction and resilience come when you are going through these mental exercises multiple times a week.

* Keep at it.

A one-off meditation session probably is not going to do you a whole lot of good, especially if you have a whopping tax bill due. But continue the habit for a while.

Jacquette Timmons, a New York City-based financial behaviorist and author of “Financial Intimacy,” suggests giving yourself 30 days – and meditating more often than not – to see how your mind and body react to the practice.

Timmons herself meditates around five times per week.

Using tools like these for 10 days, for instance, results in a 14 percent decrease in stress, according to published Headspace studies. Make it to 60 days, and you are up to a 17 percent stress reduction.

* Confront, do not avoid.

Mindfulness tools are not meant as a form of escapism, to let you float away from all your worries. After all, taxes are still due on April 15, no matter how chill you are.

But they are meant to make your mind and emotions more resilient, so that you can address the root problem without freaking out about it.

Do not expect any magical outcomes for your tax worries, but the practice can get you in the right frame of mind to deal with Uncle Sam.

“I think this can help people,” Timmons said. “Not every meditation is going to bring you an ‘A-ha moment,’ but if you do it cumulatively, it will give you some clarity of mind.”

Editing by Beth Pinsker and G Crosse

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper mocks Trump for speaking in third person: He’s ‘not supposed to talk like Elmo’




CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks Trump for speaking in third person: He's 'not supposed to talk like Elmo'

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper closed his show on Wednesday night by mocking President Trump for his “unusual tic” of speaking in the third person, comparing him to the “Sesame Street” character Elmo.

President Trump spoke to reporters earlier in the day and attacked the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”

“We just went through the Mueller witch hunt, where you had, really, 18 angry Democrats that hate President Trump. They hate him with a passion,” Trump said.

Cooper cried foul on numerous fronts.

“Him! He is him! Why is he doing this?” Cooper asked. “Also, grammar aside for a moment, if he says ‘witch hunt’ one more frickin’ time, Glinda is gonna float down from Oz and tell Lee Greenwood to hit the yellow brick road because Dorothy has arrived with the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. Of course, the Scarecrow doesn’t have a brain, but even if he did, the third-person-in-chief wouldn’t be worried.”

The CNN anchor then played a clip of Trump boasting about China’s respect of “Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain” during a 2018 news conference.


“The president of the United States is not supposed to talk like Elmo… Speaking in the third person, it was a habit for President Trump long before he moved to 1600 Sesame Street,” Cooper continued.

He then invoked a 2012 tweet in which Trump congratulated himself for high ratings when he starred on “The Apprentice.”

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Chris Pratt ‘refused to audition’ for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in the beginning, casting director says




Chris Pratt 'refused to audition' for 'Guardians of the Galaxy’ in the beginning, casting director says

Chris Pratt almost wasn’t Peter Quill aka Star-Lord.

Sarah Finn, the casting director behind 22 Marvel movies, revealed the shocking news while attending the “Avengers: Endgame” premiere in Los Angeles on Monday.

“[Director] James Gunn has been very generous about this in saying that I, to the point of annoying him, kept insisting that Chris Pratt was the guy for the part,” Finn explained to Variety before admitting that “Chris didn’t want to play the part and refused to audition.”


Chris Pratt, pictured here at the "Avengers: Endgame" premiere on April 22, 2019, initially "refused to audition" as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord in the 2014 film "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Chris Pratt, pictured here at the “Avengers: Endgame” premiere on April 22, 2019, initially “refused to audition” as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord in the 2014 film “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
(Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

“I finally got him to audition and James Gunn said he didn’t want to see him, and that was really a challenge,” she continued.

Luckily, Finn was able to bring the two together and it all worked out perfectly.

“It was honestly one of those eureka moments that we talk about in casting when it absolutely feels right and you know it’s right. James turned to me within 10 seconds and said, ‘He’s the guy,'” she recalled.

Pratt first-appeared as Quill in the 2014 film “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Of the 39-year-old actor accepting the role, Finn said that “it was great when he decided that he was interested.”

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord in "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill aka Star-Lord in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
(Marvel Studios)


“Now it’s legend. He’s the perfect person,” she noted. “But at the time we were embarking on a movie that had a raccoon and a talking tree, and a property that people weren’t familiar with.”

On Monday, Pratt stepped out with fiancée Katherine Schwarzenegger for the “Avengers: Endgame” premiere, marking their first red carpet appearance as a couple.

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Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore slams reporting from CNN, other media: ‘Pulling a Kavanaugh against me’




Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore slams reporting from CNN, other media: 'Pulling a Kavanaugh against me'

President Trump’s pick for the Federal Reserve board, ex-CNN contributor Stephen Moore, blasted the reporting about him from his former employer and other outlets Wednesday, accusing them of “pulling a Kavanaugh” against him.

During an interview on WZFG radio, Moore, previously a Fox News contributor, was asked about CNN’s KFILE reporting on various columns he had written from 2000-2003 in which he apparently mocked women’s involvement in professional sports.

“I was so honored when I got the call from Donald Trump but you know, all it has been since then is one personal assault after another, a kind of character assassination that has nothing to do with economics,” Moore said. “You know, my divorce 10 years ago, or something I wrote 25 years ago. They have six full-time investigative reporters looking into me at The Washington Post and the New York Times, and CNN.”

“I kind of wear it as a badge of honor, that they’re so afraid of me, that they want all these people looking into my past because they’re worried that I’m going to prevail here,” he continued. “They have not attacked me on my economic ideas.”


Moore agreed with the radio host that the coverage of him this week has been “National Enquirer stuff” and went even further: “They’re pulling a Kavanaugh against me.”

That was in reference to the hostile coverage Brett Kavanaugh, then a Supreme Court nominee, received during his confirmation process last year.

CNN KFILE senior editor Andrew Kaczynski responded to Moore’s attack, saying, “I don’t even know what ‘pulling a Kavanaugh’ means.”


“Look, when you’re a nominee or pick for a public administration, your record is going to get scrutinized. Things that you say, things that you did–those are going to be reported on,” Kaczynski said on CNN. “I know this morning he was referring to this as a smear campaign, covering comments he made about women, and covering things that he said in columns. That is not a smear campaign. That is reporting on his record. So, it’s a little odd that he finds just commenting things that he has done and said to be such a problem for him.”

CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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