‘Hair is a part of you’: New York aims to tackle hair discrimination

New York: New York City doesn't want people to have their hairstyles held against them, and it unveiled novel guidelines Monday against hairdo discrimination.

The new legal guidance says the city's existing human rights law protects New Yorkers' right to "maintain natural hair or hairstyles that are closely associated with their racial, ethnic or cultural identities."

New York City is taking on hair discrimination.

"Hair is a part of you. Race discrimination based on hair is illegal in NYC," Human Rights Commission Chairwoman Carmelyn P. Malalis tweeted on Monday after releasing the guidelines, first reported by The New York Times. They're believed to be the first such measures nationwide?, the newspaper said.

In effect, the guidance enables people to seek fines and other remedies if they've been harassed or punished in workplaces, schools or public spaces because of their hair texture or style. Hair nets, ties and the like can still be required for health and safety reasons.

The protections apply to everyone but were prompted largely by what the commission calls "racist stereotypes that black hairstyles are unprofessional."

The guidance specifically warns employers they could face legal trouble for banning styles associated with black people, such as Afros, dreadlocks or cornrows, or for instructing black workers to straighten their hair.

Around the country, some schools have drawn attention for banning dreadlocks, do-rags (a scarf worn on the head after a hair treatment), Afros and other ways of wearing hair.

In December, there was an outcry after a white referee told a black New Jersey high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks right before a match or forfeit it. The teen had the haircut, but many criticised the demand, including the state's governor and an Olympic wrestler.

Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court declined last year to hear a discrimination suit involving a black Alabama woman who said she lost a job offer because she wouldn't cut her dreadlocks.

An appeals court had sided with the employer, saying federal law protects people from discrimination based on "immutable characteristics, but not their cultural practices."

New York City's human rights law is distinct from federal anti-discrimination law, and Malalis told the Times "there's nothing keeping us from calling out these policies prohibiting natural hair or hairstyles most closely associated with black people."


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Grace Vanderwaal Reveals New Single With Handwritten Notes to Fans

Grace Vanderwaal is taking a page out of Taylor Swift‘s book!

The 15-year-old singer sent handwritten notes and signed posters of her new single’s cover art to a handful of lucky fans.

“STRAY 2/22,” she shared on Instagram. Check it out below!

Grace updated her fans on what’s been going on for the last year, summer tour, filming the upcoming Disney film Stargirl, and going back to school.

The new single will debut THIS Friday (February 22), so stay tuned to JJJ!

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STRAY 2/22

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Click inside to read Grace’s note to her fans…

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2/22 💜 Huge thanks to @fanderwaalnews and @gracevanderwaal , so excited for Grace’s new song! #stray #gracevanderwaal #fanderwaal #gracevanderwaalfan #justthebeginning #signature #ukelele

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Walmart’s New Decor Line Looks Like The Inside Of The Perfect Instagram

Decorating your new home or apartment when you’re on a budget can be a serious struggle — especially when you’re working or in school (and spend way more than you’d like to on iced coffee and bagels). I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of adding insanely expensive couches, dinnerware, art pieces, or blankets to various shopping carts only to relegate them to the wish list of things you’d buy if you won the lottery or got famous overnight. Luckily, there’s a lot of hidden, affordable homeware gems at some stores — and Walmart’s new MoDRN decor line is no exception.

The company’s recently-debuted home collection pretty much covers all the necessary bases if you’re looking to furnish your new place, with kitchen and dining products, bedding and bath linens, appliances, outdoor furniture, storage organizers, and a whole lot of cute decor items. Many of the items feature convenient options like two-day shipping, home delivery (for you bigger products), and free pickup with discounts. What more could people were are busy but also want to come home to a pretty space ask for? Get comfortable, because it’ll be hard to not want to sit down and browse the new collection for a good long while.

MoDRN Glam 3" Speckled Gold Votive Set of 2



These adorable gold glasses feature speckled gold accents that catch ambient lighting and will definitely be a hit when you have guests over.

MoDRN Luxury Sheet Set made from 100% Bamboo Viscose



These elegant sheets come in Charcoal Gray, Light Gray, Light Beige, Seaglass Aqua, and White.

Walmart has decided to expand its home department even further, and it seems like customers are responding pretty well. According to a press statement, the company has seen "a nearly 35 percent increase in visits to our home destination, with the majority of customers spending more time on the site, browsing and discovering products." Since they’ve got a solid base of people who love the products, they’ve started focusing on new lines (like MoDRN) that offer on-trend, affordable, high-quality homeware products to give buyers even more options to choose from when they shop at the store.

MoDRN Industrial Metal Wall Mirror



This modern style mirror would be perfect for any room in the house–the cool design and affordable price are pretty much to die for.

MoDRN Glam Velvet Panel Pair



Everyone needs to try out a luxury-looking set of velvet curtains at least once in their lives. Walmart offers these blinds in three different sizes.

So far, MoDRN is an online-only brand, completely exclusive to Walmart. There’s still a bunch of home products you can buy in-store at Walmart locations — but to shop this exclusive line, you’ll need to pull out your computer and browse the options there. The collection was aptly named: Walmart created it especially to cater toward customers who prefer a modern, minimalist interior design style. MoDRN has three mini collections within the range: Retro Glam, Refined Industrial and Scandinavian Minimal, which in total feature almost 650 different products for every room in the house. Essentially, you’re nearly guaranteed to find anything that you need.

MoDRN Glam Decorative Circle



This glamorous sculpture is the perfect decorative piece to spice up your living room.

The mission of Walmart’s MoDRN line is to give customers the opportunity to find luxury-style items that they’d usually come across in speciality, boutique stores — but without the hefty price tag. While keeping everything affordable, MoDRN still uses high-end materials like velvet, performance upholstery leather fabrics hand-brushed brass accents, and marble table tops. It’ll probably look just as good (if not better) than pieces from a super-expensive furniture store, and you’ll definitely be grateful for all the cash you saved.

Head over to Walmart’s MoDRN furniture page to stock up a shopping cart with a final total that won’t make you have to give up your daily iced coffee.

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Cost of death certificate rises by 175% a week

New death tax for grieving families as cost of certificate rises by 175% just a week after probate charges increased

  • The increase means it will now cost £11 to print a certificate at registration 
  • Comes a week after MPs were accused of sneaking through a stealth ‘death tax’ 
  • Families often need up to 20 death certificates to send to different authorities
  • The increase means those who need 20 certificates will have to spend £220 

The price of death certificates will almost treble from today, adding to snowballing costs for grieving families.

The 175 per cent increase means it now costs £11 to print a certificate at registration, up from £4 a copy.

It comes a week after MPs were accused of sneaking through a stealth ‘death tax’ by increasing probate charges. From April, some families will face bills of up to £6,000 to secure legal control over a deceased relative’s estate.

Yesterday lawyers and funeral directors said the death certificate price rise was ‘unfair’ and ‘highly inappropriate’.

The 175 per cent increase means it now costs £11 to print a certificate at registration, up from £4 a copy (stock image)

Families often need up to 20 death certificates to send to different authorities. Life insurance companies, banks, building societies and investment firms can all ask for them to confirm a former customer’s death.

The increase means those who need 20 certificates will have to spend £220, up from £80.

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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said last night: ‘This all adds to the cost of death and it prolongs the misery of people going through the most difficult times of their lives. There is no justification for almost tripling the costs of death certificates.’ The cost of ordering a death certificate online from the General Register Office has also increased from £9.25 to £11.

Companies will often insist on originals and refuse photocopies. Relatives also need to supply original certificates when applying for probate.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said last night that the increase will ‘prolong the misery of people going through the most difficult times of their lives’

Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: ‘The decision to treble the cost of death certificates comes hot on the heels of the Government’s proposed increases to probate fees.

‘With probate fees set to increase, it seems unfair to raise the cost of death certificates as well, particularly when people have no choice but to register the death of their loved ones and apply for probate.’

Terry Tennens, of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, said: ‘In these times of austerity, we think this is highly inappropriate.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The changes to the civil registration certificate fees are the first increase since 2010.

‘The fees are set at cost recovery levels only, and registration officers have the power to waive or reduce fees on grounds of compassion or hardship.’

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New Orleans Pelicans abruptly fire GM Dell Demps amid Anthony Davis drama, per report

The New Orleans Pelicans have fired general manager Dell Demps, according to a report from ESPN on Friday.

The move came less than 24 hours after star forward Anthony Davis, the former No. 1 overall pick who requested a trade late last month, injured his shoulder during a 131-122 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Television cameras captured Davis leaving the arena prior to the end of the game.

Demps had been the franchise's general manager since 2010.

According to ESPN, the Pelicans are considering a few internal candidates to replace Demps, including former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry.

Demps was expected to at least finish out the season, but the front office has faced scrutiny following Davis' trade request several weeks ago. The Pelicans opted not to move Davis before last week's trade deadline, creating an awkward situation for both Davis and the team.

"To tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire," coach Alvin Gentry told reporters Thursday night, in an apparent allusion to Davis' situation in New Orleans.

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New Jersey woman reportedly left ‘shaking and crying’ after lost necklace with mother’s ashes is discovered

A New Jersey woman was reportedly left “shaking and crying” after learning that her necklace containing her mother’s ashes was found after being lost at the mall.
(Tiffiny McKinney)

A New Jersey woman was reportedly left “shaking and crying” after learning that her necklace containing her mother’s ashes was found after being lost at the mall.

The treasured item vanished over the weekend when its owner, Tiffiny McKinney – whose mother died in 2016 of ovarian cancer – visited the Deptford Mall, WPVI said in a report Tuesday.


McKinney, who told the outlet that she “noticed it wasn’t there” after moving to touch the necklace, shared her plight on Facebook Saturday and explained its significance.

A woman who discovered the jewelry later left a message on McKinney’s phone informing her that she’d spotted it “on the floor at Starbucks,” WPVI said. The woman also reportedly sent a photo of the item.


McKinney – whose family member was expected to get together with the woman on Tuesday – credited social media with the necklace’s recovery, adding that she’s “had so many kind people reach out” to her.

“I really do appreciate everyone's help and kindness,” she told WPVI. “I don't think without the social media firestorm it would have been reunited.”

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New Zealand's Ardern says China flight's return not a red flag for ties

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – An Air New Zealand flight bound for Shanghai was turned back because of an “administrative issue” and the incident holds no political implications for ties with China, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

The flight, with about 270 passengers, left Auckland shortly before midnight on Saturday but turned around several hours into the journey and landed in New Zealand on Sunday morning, the national carrier, part-owned by the government, has said.

“I think it is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the relationship,” Ardern told a weekly news conference.

“This was very much an administrative issue,” she added. “There’s an expectation that inbound aircraft be registered, that the flight in question had not fulfilled the administrative requirements.”

China’s foreign ministry has not made any comment yet.

Ardern’s remarks came after some politicians and analysts questioned whether the incident pointed to broader issues in New Zealand’s ties to its key trading partner.

“We need to know what has happened here. Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this New Zealand government and China?” opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges wrote on social network Twitter on Sunday.

In November, New Zealand’s intelligence agency rejected the telecommunication industry’s first request to use Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s equipment in its planned 5G mobile network, citing national security concerns.

That followed a defence policy statement in July, in which New Zealand said China’s rising influence in the South Pacific could undermine regional stability, and alluded to tension in the disputed South China Sea, sparking complaint from China.

“There’s a heightened degree of sensitivity around the relationship right now,” said David Capie, director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

“On a range of issues with China this government has signalled it’s taking a different stance to its predecessor, so I think people are waiting to see if and how Beijing responds.”

The rescheduled flight landed in Shanghai on Monday, data from flight tracking website FlightAware shows.

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New Hampshire's highest court upholds topless ordinance

Women go topless as they participate in the Free the Nipple global movement during Go Topless Day at Hampton Beach, N.H., Aug. 26, 2017. (Ioanna Raptis/Portsmouth Herald seacoastonline.com via AP)

New Hampshire's highest court has upheld the convictions of three women arrested for going topless on a New Hampshire beach.

In a 3-2 ruling Friday, the state's Supreme Court found the city of Laconia's ordinance does not discriminate on the basis of gender or violate the women's right to free speech. In a dissenting opinion, two judges argued the ordinance was unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently.

Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro are part of the Free the Nipple campaign. They were arrested in 2016 after removing their tops at a beach in Laconia and refusing to put them on when beachgoers complained.

Pierro was doing yoga while the other two women were sunbathing.

The women argued this was a form of gender-based discrimination because men don't have to follow the same rules. The law's supporters argue it helps prevent public disturbances.


The Laconia law bans sex and public nudity. Women are prohibited from “showing of female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple.”

"We are extremely disappointed in the Court’s ruling that treating women differently than men does not amount to sex discrimination. The court has effectively condoned making it a crime to be female,” the women’s lawyer, Dan Hynes, said in a statement. “Since the N.H. Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination, was not enough to prevent this unequal, and unfair treatment, we are hopeful the New Hampshire legislature steps up to correct this injustice by outlawing Laconia’s ordinance.”

Hynes said he would talk to his clients about their next step, which could include appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.


The state attorney general's office defended the law in court but did not comment on the ruling. It argued the law was tailored to require only the covering of nipples and that the city was trying to avoid potential disturbances that could result from bare-breasted women on the beach.

Similar court cases have has mixed results. A federal judge in 2017 ruled a Missouri law didn't violate the state constitution by allowing men, but not women,  to show their nipples. That same year a federal court block a Colorado city from enforcing a law barring women from going topless.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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New York woman, 24, ID'd as dead female bound and stuffed into red suitcase found in wealthy Connecticut town

Woman’s body found bound in suitcase in affluent Connecticut town

A 24-year-old New York woman with reported depression and anxiety issues was identified by a medical examiner Thursday as the person whose body — bound at the hands and feet — was discovered earlier in the week stuffed into a large red suitcase ditched on a roadside in an affluent Connecticut town.

Valerie Reyes, 24, of New Rochelle, was identified as the body found in a suitcase in Greenwich, Conn., police said. 

Valerie Reyes, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was reported missing Jan. 30, a day after she was last seen, according to ABC7 New York. Reyes' cause of death wasn't immediately clear; but on Tuesday — the same day cops made the gruesome suitcase find — Greenwich Police Department Captain Robert Berry said authorities were investigating the death as a homicide.

“Her family was advised of the positive identification last night. They are obviously devastated by the loss of Valerie and our heartfelt condolences go out to them," Berry said, according to ABC7 New York. “The Greenwich Police Department is dedicated to identifying those responsible for the death of Valerie and ensuring justice for her and her family."


Highway workers on Tuesday had stumbled upon Reyes' remains after discovering the suitcase sitting about 10-15 feet from Glenville Road in Greenwich, the town's police said. Reyes was described as being clothed but reportedly had her hands and feet bound.

The New York Police Department Midtown North Precinct tweeted about Reyes in hopes someone who recognized her could help fill in the blanks about the final days of the Westchester County woman's life.

“Have you seen Valerie Reyes?? 5’3”, black hair, brown eyes, ½ sleeve tattoo on left arm. Last seen wearing a green coat, black jeans, and black shoes. Suffers from anxiety and depression,” the message said.

The day of the suitcase's discovery marked a week since anyone had reported seeing Reyes. Though it wasn't immediately clear what other evidence was collected at the scene, investigators soon honed in on Reyes as possibly being the mystery woman, with officers going to Reyes' home in New Rochelle later Tuesday night, News 12 Westchester reported.

Additionally, an unidentified highway worker was being investigated after allegedly snapping unauthorized photos of Reyes' body, according to The Hartford Courant and ABC7 New York.


The grisly roadside discovery in Greenwich shocked residents of the elite enclave.

“I feel like this neighborhood is relatively safe, so it’s a surprise. Finding a body near where you live, it’s concerning,” Liza Scullin, a resident, told Greenwich Time.

“We’re supposed to be the safest towns in America or at least one of them,” said Melissa Klinka, who's also a member of the Greenwich community. “So something like this makes people uncomfortable.”

Reyes worked at a Barnes & Noble store in Eastchester, N.Y., since the location opened more than two years ago, according to the chain.

"The entire Barnes & Noble community is grieving the loss of our beloved employee Valerie Reyes," Barnes & Noble said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to her family, friends, and coworkers during this difficult time."

Lauren Bradford, who worked with Reyes, said the young woman planned to train to become a tattoo artist.

"Horrified. Absolutely horrified," said Bradford, 19. "I'm just like totally shocked. She was a confidant. She really encouraged me and my aspirations. She had a really bright future. She was really excited about her art and her goals."

No arrests have been announced. Investigators have asked anyone with information on the case to contact 203-622-3333.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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From Los Angeles to New York, Rodarte and Tom Ford are Setting the Stage for Fall Fashion

For once, Los Angeles got the jump on New York.

Oh, now, before those of you on the West Coast get all worked up, I’m just talking about Fashion Week, the women’s portion of which kicked off in New York on Wednesday night with Tom Ford making a great case for his pragmatic vision of elegance. But that wasn’t quite the opening statement on the season, as Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte made a bold move of their own, having already shown their fall collection the day before in California, at The Huntington, a picturesque property made up of mansions, art installations, and botanical gardens in San Marino, near where the sisters grew up in Pasadena. And there was nothing practical about either their clothes — magical, almost cinematic gowns clustered with sequins and ribbons — or the show, which happened to be terrific.

Fashion seems to be branching into several directions at once, and these are just two forks in the road. Ford has been on a mission to move the needle in a more serious-chic direction, away from all that ironic streetwear out there. The Mulleavys, representing a next generation, have embraced a more improvised approach, although the DIY aspects of their early collections have given way, over nearly 15 years, to more mature and ethereal visions, ultimately winding up in territory once traveled by Ford himself.

That would be Old Hollywood. Growing up in such proximity to Hollywood likely had a strong influence on the Mulleavys, who have dabbled in film in addition to their fashion collection. Their pals, well represented at the show, include Brie Larson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marisa Tomei, Kim Gordon, Rowan Blanchard, and Diane Keaton. And while their work has often made specific references to films (who could forget their Star Wars dresses from Fall 2014?), the Mulleavys chose their homecoming show to make a much bigger statement, with dresses that paid homage to the glittering styles of bygone musicals, as well as ceremonial styles and even some tropical colored fiesta extravaganzas. And it was a smash production, held in the round under a glass covered atrium, which seemed designed (successfully) to put the designers on another level. The trio of bright ballgowns, in pink, citron, and cobalt, were intricate wonders, the last, with a giant blue bow on the backside, requiring more than 12 hours of fittings alone. It was fashion as fantasy.

It’s no secret that Rodarte is a small, independent brand, facing the same challenges as all youngish designers, but it was telling that Brian Phillips, who runs the PR firm representing them, took to Instagram the following day to argue that the sisters deserve a bigger place in the industry, a shot at one of the big houses of Paris or New York. Of course, one could argue that’s not the shiny brass ring it once was, but the financial security would be nice. As it was, Rodarte was able to create such a big event in LA thanks to a sponsorship deal with the maker of a new rosé wine called JNSQ, directed at millennial women (the motto is “She’s got that… JNSQ,” which helps explain the name). And it seemed a perfectly respectable match.

“What is the most aspirational brand in all of the world for millennial women?” asked Lynda Resnick, vice chair and co-owner of The Wonderful Company, who, as billionaire entrepreneurs tend to do, worked the crowd in a lovely polka dot sundress. “Rodarte! In this day and age when life is pretty dour, to have such a magical association with our wine was a wonderful way to do it.”

Cheers to that.

Back in New York, Ford, the king of brass rings, had celebrities to spare (Courtney Love, Odell Beckham Jr., Joe Alwyn, etc.), watching his fall collection, which the designer noted was a continuation of his renewed approach to conscious dressing, making “clothes that enhance the wearers’ lives.” Ford is at a stage in his career when he can justify a more quiet approach to the runway, as his loyal customers are already tuned in, but it would be a mistake to underestimate just how many women are out there searching for clothes that don’t look so … runway.

If you take away the funny faux fur hats from Ford’s show, you’d find plenty of great choices, the divine crimson velvet blazers (paired with satin trousers and turtlenecks in lightly clashing colors, like a lipstick display), black leather separates, and some of his specialty — those sensuously slinky, monochromatic gowns, this time trimmed with heavy chains.

Black, white, and gold were the primary elements of Ralph Lauren’s collection, actually for spring, as he’s one of the few designers to show in season, just as the clothes are coming into stores. Lauren invited guests to breakfast on Thursday morning at one of his stores on Madison Avenue, where he has opened a café that serves some fine croissants — though try not to eat to many of them as his dresses also took a turn for the body-con.

The gold looks — a gold leather coat, a gold blazer, a patent gold handbag — all matched the Ralph’s logo on wall, which certainly looked right at home on the ritzy Upper East Side. He’s one designer who knows how to create an atmosphere, right down to the coffee grounds.

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