Trump called NYC a ‘ghost town’ and New Yorkers fired back with ‘Ghostbusters’ memes

President Donald Trump called New York City a “ghost town” during the third and (thank God) final debate on Thursday evening. 

New Yorkers, as New Yorkers are wont to do, rushed to defend their city. The jokes flew in because, quite frankly, as a New Yorker living in New York, the city is not a ghost town. Far from it. 

People made jokes about what kind of, erm, ghosts were in New York, including scenes from Ghostbusters. They also made memes because, well, of course. And people also posted images and videos of actual New York City, as bright and lively as the country’s largest city could be in a deadly pandemic. 

So no, New York is not a ghost town because the city was hit hard by the pandemic. Just ask a New Yorker. They are more than happy to tell you about it. 

Uber and Lyft drivers are employees, Californian appeals court affirms

The battle over Uber and Lyft drivers’ status saw a significant development Thursday. A Californian appeals court has unanimously upheld a ruling that the ride-hailing companies’ drivers must be classified as employees, meaning they’re eligible for healthcare, paid sick leave, and other such benefits.

The stay on the Superior Court’s August injunction will therefore soon be lifted, requiring Uber and Lyft to provide these benefits to drivers.

“[Uber and Lyft describe] the injunction here as ‘radical’ and ‘unprecedented,'” wrote Justice Jon Streeter in his 74-page ruling. “But these adjectives perhaps say more about the reach of modern technology and the scale of today’s technology-driven commerce than they do about the order itself… It is broad in scope, no doubt, but so too is the scale of the alleged violations.”

Workers’ rights campaigners are thrilled with the decision.

“This decision makes it abundantly clear that Uber and Lyft have been breaking the law for years,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “For too long Uber and Lyft have illegally denied their drivers basic workplace protections and shifted that burden onto drivers and taxpayers.”

“This is a huge victory for workers,” driver advocacy group Gig Workers Rising told Mashable. “Uber and Lyft drivers deserve basic protections and benefits… This is about the future of work in this country. This is about securing good jobs with real benefits for generations to come.”

Uber and Lyft were less happy with the appellate court’s decision. “This ruling makes it more urgent than ever for voters to stand with drivers and vote yes on Prop. 22,” Lyft spokesperson Julie Wood told Mashable.

“Today’s ruling means that if the voters don’t say Yes on Proposition 22, rideshare drivers will be prevented from continuing to work as independent contractors, putting hundreds of thousands of Californians out of work and likely shutting down ridesharing throughout much of the state,” said an Uber spokesperson.

Proposition 22 is a Californian ballot measure that has been backed by various delivery and ride-hailing companies, including Uber and Lyft. If passed in November, it will give drivers limited benefits but keep them classified as independent contractors.

Uber claims 72 percent of drivers support Prop. 22, citing a survey of 718 drivers that the company commissioned. The company also argues that treating drivers as employees would cause prices to rise. 

However, Gig Workers Rising told Mashable it considers Prop. 22 a “dangerous and deceptive” attempt to deny drivers their legal rights as employees. 

“First the state legislature, then the governor, and now the courts have all agreed that drivers are employees under state law, and Prop. 22 is nothing more than an attempt by multi-billion dollar gig companies to undo that recognition,” said Gig Workers Rising, urging Californians to vote against the proposition.

The group further dismissed Uber and Lyft’s threats to suspend services or withdraw from California if forced to treat drivers as employees, calling it “a bluff intended to scare voters during this election.” 

“These companies have never pulled out of a market as large as California before, even when cities across the world have sought to ensure they comply with local labor laws,” said Gig Workers Rising. “It’s important drivers and riders don’t get distracted by Uber & Lyft fear-mongering… We cannot allow corporations to blackmail us into voting in their best interests.”

“When Prop. 22 is defeated, the companies’ bag of tricks will have shrunk, as both voters and now the courts will have recognized that gig workers should receive employee benefits, protections, and wages.”

Uber and Lyft will continue to operate as normal for now, as the ruling won’t take effect immediately. The appeals court still has to transfer jurisdiction of the case back to the lower courts, which may take a few months, and the stay on the injunction will expire 30 days after that. However it may be extended again if Uber and Lyft file another appeal, a move that both companies are considering.

Pay nothing upfront for the iPhone 12 with this clever trick

TL;DR: Order the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro and pay nothing upfront when you trade-in select handsets.

There is always quite a lot of fuss whenever Apple launches a new set of iPhones, and this year is no different. We’ve seen absolutely loads of impressive deals dropping since Apple’s announcement, and the latest option should appeal to dedicated fans of the iPhone.

You can now get your hands on the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro and pay nothing upfront if you trade-in the iPhone XS Max or iPhone 11 Pro respectively. This deal is offered by, with cheap monthly rates:

  • iPhone 12 (54GB data) — £30 per month and free upfront when you trade-in a working iPhone XS Max 

  • iPhone 12 Pro (54GB data) — £30 per month and free upfront when you trade-in a working iPhone 11 Pro

We realise that this deal is only really attractive to those with one of the select handsets, but if you’re looking to upgrade your iPhone, this could be your best option to save.

Pay nothing upfront for the new iPhone 12 with

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12 single TV characters who’ll always have a place in our hearts

In Party for One, Mashable explores single life in 2020, from Carly Rae Jepsen’s iconic single anthems, to the beauty of alone time, and the fascinating history behind the single positivity movement.

Sometimes being single is a journey and sometimes it’s a destination. For a long time, the untold rule of storytelling was that characters find a happy ending when they all end up married. So it was with Shakespeare and so it was with Parks and Recreation, and almost everything in between.

But in recent years, television in particular has warmed to the notion of a character who actually ends up single at series’ end. They might not all stay that way forever, but there’s immeasurable value in seeing lovable characters who are single at crucial junctures in life — at points that feel like endings, but might just be the beginning.

Here are some of our favorite single TV characters. And yes, since this is about their overarching journeys and series finales — expect spoilers.

Rebecca Bunch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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Though the final moments of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend hint that Rebecca hasn’t closed the book on all her exes (maybe it just looks that way because we’re #TeamNathaniel), nothing could have been healthier than for this romance-obsessed character to unpack her turbulent history with men and focus inward. In the final season, she prioritized living with mental illness and creating a life free of old triggers and patterns. It’s probably not the best that she hangs out with all her exes in West Covina, but it’s a far cry from the law offices in New York where she started — and when she couldn’t even remember the last time she was happy.

Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones

Sansa Stark is a name now synonymous with powerful and even ruthless feminine leadership, but it wasn’t always that way. We remember the innocent girl from Winterfell who dreamed of marrying a prince, and then watched in horror as the cruel world of Westeros destroyed that dream day by day. Sansa may be an iconic character, but she suffered horrific abuse that no person should experience, some of it gratuitous material added to the show.

Still, Sansa emerged a wolf among kittens, her steely resolve the leadership Westeros craved when Jon Snow was still moping around telling anyone who’d listen that he didn’t want the job. It would have been disrespectful to Sansa’s growth and journey to happily marry her off in some disingenuous eleventh-hour coupling, and given the general irresponsibility of Thrones‘ final season and treatment of female characters, we’re glad this ended up the way it did.

Alexis Rose, Schitt’s Creek

You may have blocked out Schitt’s Creek‘s final season breakup because there is simply no pain in this world like seeing the characters on that show suffer, but Alexis and lovable vet Ted did not end up together. They loved each other, they wanted to be together, but the timing simply wasn’t right.

Watching Alexis and the rest of the Rose family mature is one of the foremost joys of Schitt’s Creek, but that doesn’t make the decision she and Ted come to any less devastating. Still, it’s extremely mature, and not something she could have done a few years previously (recall that past Alexis dumped Ted and pursued empty lust for Mutt, so, yeah). We hope they’ll find their way back to each other one day, or to other partners that make more sense later in life. For now, we’re proud of these two for making a tough call and with Alexis for trusting her gut and her family.

Fleabag, Fleabag

While many of the characters on this list will probably find romantic love one day, the unnamed protagonist of Fleabag has never been one to conform. At the start of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s seminal comedy series, its antiheroine is a one-woman force of spectacular self sabotage. She’s recovering from her best friend’s death, a messy affair that ties back to Fleabag’s own relationship with sex, and her emotions are so numb that she barely bats an eye at her longterm boyfriend’s final departure.

In Season 2, Fleabag has a better handle on sex, but the guilt about Boo stays with her. She cautiously and then fiercely falls in love, but the Priest’s ultimate unavailability speaks to how Fleabag still doesn’t believe she deserves happiness. She is drawn to complication, to challenges, to mess, and while her love for the Priest may pass, her demons may well linger. It’s both a heartbreaking and inspiring emotional journey no matter how many times we watch it, but seeing an arc like Fleabag’s on mainstream television is critical for audiences to feel seen and valid. 

Tahani and Jason, The Good Place

None of The Good Place‘s core characters are perfect people, and we watched for four seasons as they slowly learned what makes a good and fulfilling life — a life unlike those they led when we first met them. Eleanor and Chidi may have spent the bulk of their existence together, but they were the only ones. Couples often pair off and ride into the sunset at the end of creator Mike Schur’s TV shows, but Tahani and Jason — once paired together as alleged soulmates — found fulfillment in the Good Place they built together, and the friends they made along the way.

Abbi and Ilana, Broad City

If any show was going to embrace singledom with the energy we need in the 21st century, it was Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City. This was always a show about the beautiful friendship between its titular broads, and in the end that was the only thing we needed to see holding strong as they moved into their separate futures. 

Where other characters on this list have prioritized romantic love at different times, Abbi and Ilana always kept it secondary to great sex, smoking weed, and nonstop New York adventures shared with a lifelong bestie.

Joey Tribbiani, Friends

It feels both exceedingly on-brand and deeply bittersweet that the flirtiest Friend would be the only one still single at series’ end. Joey is the group’s de facto playboy, but his emotional arc is all about the steadiest relationships in his life: The five people he keeps close. For Joey, romantic partnership were never a source of emotional intimacy, but the platonic companions in his life were always there for him — and then some. Here’s hoping Chandler and Monica kept that room over the garage ready for him.

Tracey, Chewing Gum

Back in 2015 Michaela Coel introduced us to Tracey, a mid-twenties shop assistant from a religious upbringing who starts the show on a desperate mission to have sex for the first time.

As you can probably guess, things don’t go to plan — but over the course of two seasons navigating friendships, relationships, and the often tricky ground between the two, Tracey learns plenty about both life and herself. And she’s always happy to share her amusing insights with us directly, via a quick aside to the camera.

Thomas Barrow, Downton Abbey

Contextually, there are a number of reasons why Thomas is one of the only characters not married apropos of nothing by the end of Downton Abbey (looking at you, friends-with-benefits Carson and Hughes). For one, he’s a gay man in the early 20th-century, when living a happy and open life was all but unthinkable.

Too many queer characters in fiction end up facing tragic circumstances and not being able to live with love, but Thomas also did plenty of downright evil things in the show’s early seasons. By the time things were ending, he was a changed man, and his journey was about self-love and redemption above all else.

However, we maintain that in the movie he deserved to eat ass.

Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls ended not once but twice with Rory in romantic limbo; first in Season 7, when she was no longer dating Logan and set off on the campaign trail with Barack Obama, and then again after the 2016 revival which saw her running into all her significant exes and also having sex with a wookie (as far as we know, this is the father of her child).

The revival gave off strong Team Jess vibes throughout, reviving the couple’s old chemistry and the fact that they’re still pals all these years later, now that Jess is more mature and Rory’s mom is still dating his uncle. There’s a genuine affection there, the kind that makes for steadfast relationships way more than the physical attraction of their youth ever could. But Jess still doesn’t feel ready or worthy of Rory, and when we left things off he had decided to keep things as they were. Once again, Rory is living the single life, and on-track to being a very cool single mom just like Lorelai. It’s not a bad act to follow.

Trump appointee claims Trump is the real victim of bizarre emails targeting Democrats

The Director of National Intelligence wants you to know who the real victim is here. 

In a hastily convened press conference Wednesday night, John Ratcliffe, the Trump appointed DNI, assured a worried American public that Donald Trump was the target of a voting intimidation campaign. The catch? The effort, allegedly run by Iran, threatened likely Joe Biden supporters. Got it?

The claim, for which Ratcliffe provided no evidence, was confusing on its face. He seemed to be referencing — although he did not specifically call it out by name — a series of threatening emails sent from likely spoofed accounts made to look like they belonged to the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group

“We have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” claimed Ratcliffe.  

According to Motherboard, the emails to which Ratcliffe was presumably referring had the subject line “Vote for Trump or else!”

“You are currently registered as a Democrat, and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure,” read the email, as reported by Motherboard, in part. “You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.” 

Apparently Ratcliffe — who Wired called “the least-qualified director of national intelligence in history” — believes those emails are designed to hurt Donald Trump in the lead up to the 2020 election. Perhaps Ratcliffe believes an association with white supremacists — who the president told to “stand by” — would tarnish Trump’s image. It’s hard to say. 

Either way, Ratcliffe’s framing of the apparent voter suppression campaign caught many off guard. 

“Did you even review the emails that @DHSgov officials say Iran sent,” wrote California Congressman Ted Lieu. “Those emails intimidate DEMOCRATS and warn them to vote for Trump. That hurts @JoeBiden. So is there another email you are referring to, or are you misleading the American people?”

Congressman Lieu wasn’t the only one scratching their head at Ratcliffe’s portrayal of the situation. 

Notably, Ratcliffe has long drawn negative attention for playing politics in his role. In September, according to Politico, he “declassified a Russian intelligence assessment that was previously rejected by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee as having no factual basis[.]” 

The questionable information was, perhaps unsurprisingly, critical of former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. 

Oh yeah, and the Daily Beast reported in May that his (now deleted) campaign’s official Twitter account followed a bunch of QAnon conspiracy believers. 

So let’s recap. According to the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, who was nominated by Donald Trump (twice) before being confirmed by the Senate in a party-line vote in May, claimed Wednesday that Iran is attempting to intimidate (possibly Democratic) voters in order to hurt Donald Trump. 

Well when you put it that way, it all sounds so straightforward. 

Save up to £270 on the best laptops and desktops from Dell

SAVE UP TO £270: Dell laptops, desktops, and monitors are on sale until Oct. 26, saving you up to £270 on list price.

You might think that Black Friday is a long way away, but you should know that there will be a bunch of early Black Friday deals dropping a long time before the official date. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for the best opportunities to save before the big day, because we know that Black Friday is not for everyone.

You can beat the rush by shopping with Dell. The popular brand has dropped the price of its laptops, desktops, monitors, and accessories. You can save up to £270 on the list price of some of its most popular models.

It’s worth taking some time to check out everything on offer in the sale, but some highlights include XPS laptops, G5 15 gaming laptops, Alienware monitors, and a bunch of accessories like keyboards and mice.

These deals are available until Oct. 26, so you still have plenty of time to pick your favourite deals from the sale. Free next day delivery is also available, as an added bonus.

Beat the Black Friday rush by shopping on Dell.

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Where to save on sex toys before Black Friday

SAVE UP TO 30%: Vibrators are on sale on Lovehoney before Black Friday, saving you up to 30% on list price.

Everyone knows that Black Friday is the best time to bag big discounts, but did you know that some of the best deals drop before the official start date? 

Black Friday doesn’t really start on Nov. 27, because most of the leading retailers and brands will offer deals in the weeks leading up to the big day. This will appeal to anyone who wants to avoid the stress of Black Friday, because you can beat the rush by shopping early.

Lovehoney is one of the most popular sellers of sex toys, and we expect it to launch a lot of impressive deals in the lead up to Black Friday. If you are looking to get a head start on the busiest shopping season, you can save up to 30% on vibrators.

These deals are available until Oct. 25, so you have plenty of time to consider your options and pick a favourite device. There is something for everyone in the sale, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something that works.

Find the best deals on sex toys with Lovehoney.

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Protect your online privacy and identity with this slick VPN

SAVE 73%: A two-year subscription to Private Internet Access is on sale for £2.19 per month as of Oct. 21, saving you 73% on list price.

We’re always on the lookout for the best VPN deals, and it’s a tough job because the leading providers are constantly updating their prices and plans. That’s good news for you, because there should always be an opportunity to save.

The latest deal to drop is from the popular Private Internet Access. A two-year subscription to Private Internet Access is on sale for just £2.19 per month as of Oct. 21, saving you 73% on list price. This plan also includes two extra months for free and a Boxcryptor cloud security license.

Private Internet Access is one of the best VPN providers in the business, offering multi-layered security with advanced privacy protection from VPN tunnelling. Subscribers also get access to over 3,000 servers in 32 countries worldwide, so you should always be able to find a speedy connection for streaming, browsing, or shopping.

All plans come with a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, so you are covered against potential disappointment. We don’t think it’ll come to that, but it’s a nice thing to have on your side. 

Protect your online world with Private Internet Access.

Best VPN deals this week

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Carly Rae Jepsen’s single anthems shine among her love-heavy discography

In Party for One, Mashable explores single life in 2020, from Carly Rae Jepsen’s iconic single anthems, to the beauty of alone time, and the fascinating history behind the single positivity movement.

Nestled in the latter half of Dedicated Side B, the companion album to Side A released last year, singer Carly Rae Jepsen invites you, the listener, to revel in your singlehood. She knows you’re lonely and your heart aches, but encourages you to get yourself off the floor — Jepsen can’t stand to see you crying.

So goes the pre-chorus to Jepsen’s B-side “Solo,” a song kindred to the last track on the original Dedicated (and the namesake for this series), “Party for One.” “Solo” then kicks into its chorus, a call to action: Dance by yourself.

So what, you’re not in love

Don’t go wasting your nights gettin’ so low

So what, you’re not in love

You shine bright by yourself dancing solo

Anyone familiar with pop anthems about singledom (and heartbreak) can trace the themes in both “Solo” and “Party for One” to Robyn’s huge single “Dancing On My Own.” In fact, Jepsen worked with Swedish producer Patrik Berger on Dedicated due to his co-writing and producing the hit from Robyn’s 2010 album Body Talk Pt. 1 (though Berger didn’t write or produce “Party for One” nor “Solo” according to the album notes). 

Unlike “Dancing On My Own,” however, Jepsen’s not watching a former lover kiss someone else from the corner, begging him to see her. “Solo,” like “Party for One,” is a celebration of singlehood. In both songs — which are bangers, but perhaps that’s a matter of opinion — Jepsen encourages her listener to move on from their past loves and to embrace being on your own, even encouraging making love to oneself. 

Songs don’t like this don’t appear often in Jepsen’s oeuvre. As Jia Tolentino wrote in 2016, Jepsen writes hymns for love. “The way Jepsen sings about love is as blissfully anachronistic as her current aesthetic,” said Tolentino of Jepsen’s Emotion Side B. “It’s as heartfelt and circumscribed as the soundtrack — and the fully offline young friendships — on ‘Stranger Things.'”

While Tolentino wrote this three years before Dedicated, it holds up. Many of Jepsen’s songs, including the Dedicated era, are about infatuation with a crush; yearning for love; wondering if you’re ‘too much’ for a potential lover. Even Side B begins with a song proclaiming, “This Love Isn’t Crazy.” 

But longing for independence is present in the album besides “Solo” too, particularly in the Bleachers feature, “Comeback.” The song starts with a lyric about how Jepsen’s at war with herself as she takes a lover back to her place, the reason of which becomes clear in the chorus:

I don’t know what I’m feeling, but I believe

I was thinking ’bout making a comeback, back to me

And I won’t say you’re the reason I was on my knees

But I’m thinking ’bout making a comeback, back to me

As Jepsen matures, both as an artist and as a person with a love life of her own, so do her tracks. She takes inspiration from the complexities of relationships, regardless of the pain that may come with it, Jepsen said in a Vogue interview last year. She went through a break-up while working on Dedicated, and the reverberations show up on the album.

“I think the album goes through that process of like, ‘Shit, what do I do now?'” she told Vogue. “And, at the same time, singlehood for the first time in a while, which I’m kind of new at! So there was an arc of like, full-on heartbreak to a new story.”

One can see, then, why “Party for One” would be the last track of Dedicated: it punctuates the break-up arc with a celebration of singlehood, shrugging off rejection, and acknowledging that one is whole by themself. “If you don’t care about me,” Jepsen sings, “I’ll just dance for myself.” 

Songs about love and, by extension, singlehood, are the bread and butter of pop music. But when compared to Jepsen’s contemporaries, her songs about being alone aren’t about reflecting on past loves (as in Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next”) or wanting someone new (as in Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love”). So often, pop songs about being single are actually about dissing one’s ex (or going so far as wanting revenge), finding someone else, or being heartbroken. “Party for One” and “Solo” are neither of these. 

“Party for One” and “Solo” acknowledge heartbreak, but they don’t stew in it.

Both “Party” and “Solo” acknowledge heartbreak, but they don’t stew in it. Nor do the songs discuss jumping to the next person. This is a departure from most of Jepsen’s songs, especially her earlier ones, that are about the dizzying spell of a crush or wanting to spend the night with a lover. The first track of her 2015 album Emotion, for example, opens with the wail of a saxophone that precedes her invitation for her “baby,” as she refers to in the song, to run away with her. 

That’s not to say that “Run Away With Me” and Emotion are any less for their lovesick themes; the album is so good, in fact, that Jepsen garnered a cult following after its release. But maybe “Party for One” and “Solo” signal a new direction for her future music, more songs that instead of begging someone to run away with you, realize you can run away with yourself. 

“Call Me Maybe,” the song that catapulted Jepsen to fame, is eight years old now. And in those years, one can trace how she’s grown as an artist both sonically and lyrically. The overarching themes of her music — infatuation, love, and the like — remain steady, but as Jepsen said herself, it’s the complexities of love that inspire her. This is seen in both sides of Dedicated, particularly Side B with “Solo” and “Comeback.”

In May, Jepsen said she has a “little baby quarantine album” with Tavish Crowe, a co-writer on both “Call Me Maybe” and “Party for One.” It’s unclear how the album will sound, but if it’s like the rest of Jepsen’s discography, love (and its complexities) will be its driving subject. I wouldn’t, however, expect a repeat of her 2012 hit given her more recent music. In 2020 and beyond, you can call Jepsen, maybe — but she’ll just dance by herself if you don’t.