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Aly Raisman Shows Her Mettle In Blasting Airport Body-Shamer

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Aly Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, just slammed a judge.

And with good reason.

This judge wasn?t officiating a competition. He was some guy at the airport apparently making unsolicited negative comments about her body.

Raisman recounted the incident on Twitter Wednesday, saying it all started when a female TSA agent said she recognized Raisman was a gymnast by her biceps. That?s when the man broke into the conversation, rudely proclaiming he didn?t see any muscles and proceeding to stare at her, according to the London and Rio Olympics hero.

?I am so sick of this judgmental generation,? she wrote.

We?ll let Raisman take it away from here:

Raisman spoke out in January about maintaining a positive body image before she appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

?I of course like everyone else have my days where I feel insecure and not at my best,? she wrote on Instagram with one of her S.I. photos released as a preview. ?BUT I think it is that much more important we love our bodies and support each other.?

h/t People

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Supreme Court Puts States On Notice About Using Race In Redistricting

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The Supreme Court has made it overwhelmingly clear that when states draw new boundaries for electoral districts after the 2020 census, they must have a strong justification if they want to use race as a factor.

In a significant ruling earlier this week in a case called Cooper v. Harris, the high court threw out two congressional districts in North Carolina after determining Republican lawmakers improperly packed African-American voters into them. The decision, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, was the latest in a series of recent rulings from the court showing an unmistakable skepticism from the justices on the practice.

States redraw electoral districts every 10 years after a new census. The Constitution prohibits lawmakers from using race as the predominant factor in redistricting considerations, but the Voting Rights Act allows them to take race into account to a certain extent, in order to protect the voting influence of minorities. That leaves courts to figure out if race was improperly or too overwhelmingly used when lines are redrawn.

The North Carolina decision is unlikely to prompt a flood of new litigation before the next redistricting cycle. But experts say that it puts states on notice for when they draw new lines that could dilute the votes of minorities.

The court is sending a clear signal that states needed to ?be careful? and ?do their homework? when using race as a factor in drawing district boundaries, said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Devision from 2015 to 2017.

?The use of race in redistricting requires some precision tools, and legislatures in this last cycle were operating with blunt machinery. Sometimes intentionally, and perhaps sometimes unintentionally, but what the court is essentially doing is telling them to stop it,? he said. ?You have precision tools, do your homework.?

?The use of race in redistricting requires some precision tools, and legislatures in this last cycle were operating with blunt machinery.

Levitt noted the North Carolina case fit in with recent Supreme Court gerrymandering decisions dealing with districts in Virginia and Alabama. In March, the court largely sided with Democratic plaintiffs in a case that charged that Virginia lawmakers had placed too much emphasis on race when drawing district lines. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled Alabama lawmakers too had given unfair weight to race when drawing district lines in a 2012 state redistricting.

?I think this is one of a series of cases from the 2010 round of redistricting that give plaintiffs more tools to challenge unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,? Richard Pildes, an election law expert and professor at NYU Law School, wrote in an email of the North Carolina case.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is now leading the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a redistricting reform effort, called the latest decision a ?watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering,? in a statement Monday. The group will use the ruling to challenge future gerrymanders, said Marc Elias, who argued both the Virginia and North Carolina cases at the Supreme Court in December and is an NRDC senior adviser.

?This builds upon Supreme Court precedent striking down racial gerrymandering in North Carolina and twice in Virginia. Based off this ruling, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee will aggressively pursue new cases to end similar illegal racial gerrymandering in other states,? he said.

One significant aspect of the North Carolina decision was that the majority opinion turned down North Carolina?s argument that it needed to pack black voters into one congressional district in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The landmark 1965 law says states cannot block the ability of minority voters to elect a preferred candidate. North Carolina ? echoing a strategy employed by other southern states ? said this was why they increased the number of black voters in the district to over 50 percent.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the argument for District 1, noting that the district had a history of electing black voters? preferred candidates even when its black voting-age population was under 50 percent.

?The Court is not going to let jurisdictions use compliance with the Voting Rights Act as an excuse, when what they?re doing has nothing to do with the Voting Rights Act, and more to do with their simply wanting to shift around populations on the basis of race in order to achieve partisan ends,? Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Lawyers? Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in an email.

?The Court did not say that any line-drawing that creates a majority-minority district is suspect. And they?re not. What is suspect is when race is the predominate and uncompromising factor, to the exclusion of all else, and there?s no good reason for that to be so,? he said.

In considering the other congressional district in the case, District 12, the court dismissed North Carolina?s argument that politics, not race, was responsible for the gerrymander.

In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito took issue with the fact that the court didn?t require plaintiffs in the case to provide an alternative map showing the state could have drawn the lines without using race as the predominant factor. The court required an alternate map in a previous challenge to District 12, so not asking for one now was akin to tossing away Supreme Court precedent like a ?paper plate or napkin,? Alito said.

Not requiring an alternate map will make it easier to challenge racial gerrymanders, said Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine.

The latest decision could immediately impact two race-based gerrymandering cases, one in Texas and a separate one from North Carolina, moving their way through the courts. Both cases call into question whether lawmakers unconstitutionally drew congressional and state legislative maps.

The North Carolina decision came as observers are closely watching a different case out of Wisconsin in which the court is expected to consider whether a gerrymander based on partisanship, not race, was too extreme.

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Trump Launches Another Assault On ‘Sanctuary Cities’ In Budget

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WASHINGTON ? The Trump administration wants to change the law so it can more easily force cities and counties to detain immigrants at the federal government?s request, even if local officials believe it would be damaging to public safety efforts, costly and even unconstitutional.

The proposal is buried several hundred pages deep in President Donald Trump?s budget, which was released Tuesday and is chock-full of measures to help increase deportations. The budget plan includes a $144.9 million boost to the Justice Department?s immigration enforcement efforts.

The budget itself is unlikely to become law, but provisions of it might ? and both Trump and Republicans in Congress have given every indication that the conservative principle of leaving local decisions to local officials doesn?t apply to immigration.

Under the proposal, jurisdictions that receive federal law enforcement grants would be required to comply with requests from the Department of Homeland Security to hold undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours or provide ?reasonable notification? before releasing anyone who is subject to a detainer ? a temporary detention request.

If approved, it would be a drastic expansion of the statute the administration is using to define ?sanctuary cities,? which Trump attempted to punish with a January executive order aimed at cutting off federal funding for noncompliant localities. A federal judge blocked the order last month, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo Monday clarifying that it would apply only to jurisdictions that violate 8 USC 1373, a narrow requirement that local governments allow police to share information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

That memo was a belated acknowledgment that current law doesn?t allow Trump to go after cities and counties for not agreeing to hold individuals for ICE. But the budget document indicates Trump isn?t giving up.

?What we see in this budget is them basically admitting under current law they can?t actually go after sanctuary jurisdictions like they want to, so what they want to do is change the law,? said Philip Wolgin, who works on immigration policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, adding that those changes would be ?radical and drastic.? 

Justice Department official Lee Lofthus, assistant attorney general for administration, acknowledged Tuesday that the proposed budget ?makes some changes to some of the rules regarding cooperation with immigration officials.? 

Lawyers for Santa Clara, California, one of the two localities that won a national injunction against Trump over his sanctuary cities order, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Late Monday, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to reconsider the scope of that injunction, citing Sessions? memo as ?new authority? in the case.

?The authoritative position set forth in the AG memorandum squarely contradicts the court?s determination,? lawyers for the department wrote in a filing submitted in San Francisco.

At the time that Trump signed an executive order promising to deny grants for ?sanctuary cities,? the government had no definition of what that term meant. There isn?t a blanket definition anywhere. Some jurisdictions adopt it on their own to state they are pro-immigrant, but most often it?s used by experts and media to mean jurisdictions that decline to fully cooperate with ICE detainers. Trump and Sessions often state or imply that detainers are mandatory ? even though they are not ? and that jurisdictions that don?t comply with them are breaking the law.

?Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation,? read a White House statement lashing out at the April ruling against Trump?s order. ?These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.?

What we see in this budget is them basically admitting under current law they can?t actually go after sanctuary jurisdictions like they want to, so what they want to do is change the law.
Philip Wolgin, Center for American Progress

On Monday, Sessions tried to make it clear that ?sanctuary cities? are those that violate 8 USC 1373. The law says nothing about detainers and relates only to basic information about a person?s immigration status.

In 2014, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called for discontinuing detainers, in part because a number of courts had concluded that their use and abuse by states and local governments violated the Fourth Amendment, opening them up to civil liability. In a shift, Johnson requested that local governments notify ICE only of pending releases.

Those court decisions have provided guidance to ?states and localities that have said they don?t want to simply jump when ICE says jump and detain people,? said Cecilia Wang, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. ?They have been burned both by violating people?s rights and by being financially responsible for violating constitutional rights.?

Another addition to the law in Trump?s proposed budget would require disclosure of more information about a detainee, including nationality, address and scheduled time of release. Noncompliance could lead to the loss of federal funding ?through any lawful means,? the budget document says.

Even if jurisdictions are strong-armed into changing their policies to keep federal grants, Trump?s budget would deal a blow to the coffers of local law enforcement agencies. It?s expensive to hold individuals whom police would otherwise release (officials in Florida?s Miami-Dade County estimated they saved ?hundreds of thousands of dollars? by limiting cooperation with ICE). And Trump?s budget eliminates State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grants, which reimburse local law enforcement agencies for detaining some undocumented immigrants.

Congress allocated $210 million for the program in fiscal year 2016. Trump?s budget brings it down to zero, passing the burden on to state and local taxpayers.

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Iran’s Election Marks The Deepening Of Democratic Culture, Says Former Iran President

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Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, came to power in 1980 following the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini. He spoke to The WorldPost from his home outside Paris, where he lives in exile.

In Iran, the main pillars of power are controlled by the unelected supreme leader. And President Hassan Rouhani has declared that the president must be submissive to the supreme leader. Given the president?s limited power, what is the role of elections in Iran?

As you said, the main pillars of power are under the control of the supreme leader, who also dictates overall socioeconomic and foreign policy. Despite this, elections, especially the presidential election, are regarded with the utmost importance because it is obvious that, without them, a theocratic regime on its own lacks popular legitimacy. More importantly, elections provide an aspect of legitimacy domestically and internationally, especially in a region ruled largely by oil-fueled monarchies.

Elections also register the balance of power within the body politic. Though not a democracy in the Western sense, when reformist forces turn out strongly and win at the polls, it provides them with a margin to maneuver. Still, one has to accept that the main winner of the election is the regime of the ayatollahs since, irrespective of who gets the vote, it is they who claim legitimacy for it.

Many millions voted out of fear, partially over more economic sanctions and even war if Raisi had been elected.

By all accounts, the turnout was huge ? reportedly over 40 million people. Why did Iranians vote in such numbers now?

First, the claim of 40 million who voted should not be taken at face value. After all, the counting took place behind closed doors without observers. However, there is no doubt that many millions voted ? and the main reason is fear.

The main fear was that Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi could become president. His nickname is ?Ayatollah Death? since he was the head of one of the teams who, in the summer 1988, executed thousands of prisoners who were already sentenced and were serving their sentence. In this respect, the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, took Iranians hostage, telling them that they either have to get out and vote or ?Ayatollah Death? would become their president.

There was also the fear of poverty. During the presidential debates, it was revealed that around 18 million Iranians are living in shantytowns. Further, there were related fears over more economic sanctions and even war if Raisi had been elected. In short, there was fear of a change for the worse.

For the first time since the early days of the revolution and the rule of Mossadegh, the core debates were about human rights, the rights of citizenship and democracy.

Can we say that this election is a major marking point on the path toward democracy in Iran?

Democracy is a culture in which people have the habit of exercising their rights, something that doesn?t occur without constant struggle in a theocracy like Iran?s. In this election ? for the first time since the early days of the revolution itself and the rule of our democratic Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, back before the shah ? the core debates were about human rights, the rights of citizenship and democracy. I am a good barometer to measure this shift, after all, since I was forced out of office in those early revolutionary days by the ayatollahs for promoting these values.

This gives us reason to believe that democratic culture is spreading and deepening in Iran. In effect, the public forced the candidates to address these game-changing issues.

Also, the mere fact that the hardliners, the so-called principlists, could not find anyone to nominate except ?Ayatollah Death? shows that the regime has reached a dead end. Ayatollah Khomeini?s revolutionary concept of ?velayat-e-faqih? ? absolute rule by a religious leader ? has become so discredited within the traditional Islamic mainstream that it cannot be used as an excuse for despotism anymore.

Khomeini?s concept of absolute rule by a religious leader has become discredited within the traditional Islamic mainstream.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump made it clear that America?s goal was to counter Iran?s influence. How do you think the victory of Rouhani affects such a policy?

Former President Barack Obama?s policy was to create a balance of power between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Arab sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf on the other. Trump has reversed that policy, embracing an anti-Iran alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms.

If Khamenei understands the criticality of the situation and lets Rouhani implement his regional foreign policy, then Iran?s situation in the world will change drastically and such alliances will become irrelevant. It would avoid what I call the six wars ? terrorism, economic war, religious war between Sunni and Shiite, propaganda war, diplomatic war and military war through direct intervention by outside powers.

Let?s also remember that Trump made two moves that favored Rouhani?s policies in recent weeks. Just a few days before the election, the American president signed the suspension of certain sanctions, which was part of implementing the Vienna nuclear agreement. At the same time, he increased the sanctions directly related to the regime?s missile program, which was a warning to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These actions both align with the reform side in Iran. I would venture to say that the reelection of Rouhani makes it more difficult for Trump to make things harder on Iran.

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Watch The Speech That Should End The Confederate Monuments Debate For Good

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Hours after a crane lifted a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its pedestal in New Orleans? Lee Circle on Friday ? where it had loomed over the black-majority city for 133 years ? Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) delivered a speech on race that many are already hailing as historic. 

?These statues are not just stone and metal,? Landrieu told a crowd at Gallier Hall. ?They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.?

The Lee statue was the fourth and final Confederate statue Landrieu had slated for removal from public property in the city. He received death threats over the decision, as did the city contractors he hired to remove the statues.

But in his speech Friday, Landrieu didn?t shrink away from calling these statues what they are: symbols of white supremacy and white terror. 

?Best part about Mitch Landrieu?s speech is how he outlines how most existing Confederate iconography arose as part of campaigns of terror,? said Atlantic writer Van Newkirk.  

?Please read this profound speech…? tweeted Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). 

?Remarkable speech… on Confederate monuments and why they must come down,? said Washington Post journalist Wesley Lowery. 

Author and former NPR host Michele Norris called the speech a ?must-read.?

?This may rank with LBJ?s Howard commencement as 1 of the most honest speeches on race given by a white Southern pol,? tweeted Jamelle Bouie, Slate?s chief political correspondent. 

In his 1965 ?To Fulfill These Rights? speech at the historically black university, then-President Lyndon Baines Johnson acknowledged America?s long history of racism by arguing that ?equal opportunity is essential, but not enough.? The speech is widely regarded as laying the groundwork for affirmative action.

Bouie also tweeted that people should ?take the time? to read Landrieu?s speech in its entirety. You can do that here:  

Thank you for coming. 

The soul of our beloved city is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way?for both good and for ill. It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans?the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Colorix, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of France and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese, and so many more.

 

You see, New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum: out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America?s largest slave market, a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold, and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ?separate but equal?; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well, what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

 

And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame ? all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.

 

For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, ?A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.? So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let?s start with the facts.

 

The historic record is clear: The Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ?cult? had one goal?through monuments and through other means?to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.

 

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone?s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous ?corner-stone speech? that the Confederacy?s ?cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery?subordination to the superior race?is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.?

 

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us, and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago. We can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and a more perfect union.

 

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it. President Obama said, ?Consider what this artifact tells us about history. ? On a stone where day after day for years, men and women ? bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque, were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.?

 

A piece of stone?one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored. As clear as it is for me today ? for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans? most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family?s long proud history of fighting for civil rights ? I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought. So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race.

 

I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes. Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl?s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too? We all know the answer to these very simple questions. When you look into this child?s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can?t walk away from this truth.

 

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics. This is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once.

 

This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and, yes, with violence.

 

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past. It is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future. History cannot be changed.  It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

 

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans?or anyone else?to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person?s humanity seems perverse and absurd. Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth: We are better together than we are apart.

 

Indivisibility is our essence. Isn?t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world? We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.

 

All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity. We are proof that out of many we are one ? and better for it! Out of many we are one ? and we really do love it! And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush?s words. ?A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.?

 

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say, ?Wait, not so fast.? But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ?Wait has almost always meant never.? We can?t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now.

 

No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don?t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain. While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

 

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side. Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America?s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

 

He said, ?I?ve never looked at them as a source of pride ? it?s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don?t respect us. This is something I never thought I?d see in my lifetime. It?s a sign that the world is changing.? Yes, Terence, it is. And it is long overdue. Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin?s remarkable footsteps.

 

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond: Let us not miss this opportunity, New Orleans, and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

 

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves: At this point in our history ? after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado ? if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces, would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

 

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city?s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America. Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in ?  all of the way. It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes. Instead of revering a four-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy, we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans, and set the tone for the next 300 years.

 

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6?1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments, in accordance with the law, have been removed. So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

 

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned, and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid. ?If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation?s humanity.?  So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

 

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans? Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.

 

Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause. Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said, ?With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation?s wounds ? to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.?

Thank you.

 

 

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This Mom’s Food Art For Her Kid Looks (Almost) Too Good To Eat

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Worried about her daughter?s eating habits, one mom turned mealtime into a fun art display.

California mom Kim Anh Chang began creating food art in April for her 2-year-old daughter, Sam. Chang told HuffPost she was concerned about Sam?s ?finicky appetite? so she set out to help spark her interest in food in a healthy and creative way. 

?I figured if I plate her dishes into something cute she will show more interest in eating it,? she said. ?My goal is to create artful dishes to help my finicky eater share the same meals as the rest of the family. I want her to grow up getting use to eating what everyone else is eating and not have to make a separate meal just for her.?

Chang?s dishes include Lambie from ?Doc McStuffins? made out of chicken and noodles and Rapunzel made out of noodles, ham and cheese. Chang told HuffPost she takes inspiration for her food art from Sam?s interests, which include teddy bears and Disney characters. The toddler also helps her mom come up with ideas. 

?The Lambie one was actually her idea,? she said. ?I was Googling cute characters to see what I should make next. Sam was sitting next to me and showing a lot of interest. She then grabbed the Lambie toy from her playpen and gave it to me. I immediately knew what to do and prepared dinner shortly after.?

Sam also helps her mom out in the kitchen, just like Chang helped her family as a kid. 

?I grew up taking turns with my sister making dinner for the entire family (10 total) since I was 12 or 13,? she said.

Chang shares her tasty creations on Facebook and Instagram under the name Plate Art for Kids. She also shares tutorials for the dishes that feature Sam on YouTube.

Since starting her food art journey, Chang has noticed her daughter taking an interest in cooking with her.

?She absolutely loves it!? she told HuffPost. ?Especially when I take out the pasta maker machine.?

The toddler?s eating habits have improved, and most importantly, the project has given the mom and daughter an opportunity to spend time together. 

?Having her help me cook and showing her to do these things herself gives her a sense of accomplishment and I noticed she?s wanting to eat more and more and looks forward to the time we can spend in the kitchen together,? Chang said.

See more food creations from Chang and Sam below and check out their Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for more dishes.

The HuffPost Parents newsletter, So You Want To Raise A Feminist, offers the latest stories and news in progressive parenting. 

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The Absolute Worst Song Ever Is More Terrible Than You Ever Imagined

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Here?s yet another reason to hate the media: We?re making you listen to the worst song ever recorded.

This past weekend, a HuffPost writer found a ditty called ?Fast Food Song,? which rose to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 2003 for a group called the Fast Food Rockers.

Music is a subjective thing, but we?re pretty certain that no one can listen to this and not realize it?s a recording so terrible that playing it to others without warning might constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention.

The song?s chorus is annoyingly catchy ??Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut/ Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut/ Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut/ Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut/ McDonald?s, McDonald?s/ Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut.? 

We guarantee that anyone who hears it is going to have this earworm stuck in their noggin for the next 24 hours.

Although this song was a pretty big hit in jolly old England, the Fast Food Rockers were never foisted on Americans ? yet another reason to appreciate our British allies.

The British trio (four people if you count ?Hot Dog,? a non-singing person in a giant blue dog suit who joins in the video romp) freely admitted to the BBC its music was cheesy. So much so, that the follow-up single was called ?Say Cheese!? 

We haven?t listened to that one yet. We don?t have the guts. If you?re more daring, here?s the link.

Please forgive us. ?Fast Food Song? is the musical equivalent of the Mealbreakers gallery below.

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8 Things The Happiest Couples Do Before Bed

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We live in a busy world and between work, kids, bills and other daily stressors, many couples struggle to find time to connect.

That?s why it?s so important for couples to make the most of whatever alone time they have together ? whether it?s an hour or just 10 minutes. We asked relationship experts to tell us what the happiest couples do before bed to keep their bond strong. See what they had to say below.

1. They exchange ?I love yous.?

?Despite all the hassles of the day, the quirks and annoyances you experience from one another and ominous feelings about the day ahead, make the effort to let your partner know they are loved. And rather than just heave it out with your last sigh of the night, say it like you really feel it.? ? Ryan Howes, psychologist

2. They go to bed at the same time if possible.

?Too many couples go to bed at different times, leading disconnected lives in the evening after already having spent all day apart. Happy couples, however, are intentional about coming back together at bedtime and reconnecting, if only for the few minutes of brushing teeth and getting under the covers. Going to bed together builds connection and provides opportunity for more intimate connecting.? ? Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men

3. They unplug from their phones and other devices. 

?We live in a wired world, and more often than not, this takes away from the time couples could spend connecting through dialogue, affection or intimacy. What?s more is that when your partner is on their phone, you feel like they?re not in the room and are somewhere else instead. In my therapy practice, couples who become aware of this intrusiveness sometimes create general rules such as ?no phones past 9 p.m.? or ?no phones in the bed? to counter such dopamine-inducing but oxytocin-suppressing social media habits. This can really set a couple up for feeling close throughout the entire next day.? ? Kari Carroll, couples therapist

4. They prioritize getting a good night?s sleep.

?Although this isn?t very romantic, beyond the usual advice ? i.e. kiss goodnight, have sex, and say, ?I love you? ? getting a solid night?s sleep fosters good mental health, which in turn, makes people more emotionally available during the day. If sleep is hard to come by, get professional advice to develop good sleep habits.?  ? Michele Weiner-Davis, therapist and author of Divorce Busting

5. They take a few minutes to practice gratitude. 

?Gratitude has been shown to have a wonderfully positive effect on mood and mindset, so why not share that together? Whether it?s something specific you appreciate about one another or a positive experience from the day, share something you?re thankful for to end the day on a bright note.? ? Howes  

6. They don?t try to settle arguments that aren?t easily resolvable. 

?It may not seem logical, but happy couples don?t actually settle disagreements before going to bed. We?ve all heard the adage, ?do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,? but it?s actually misunderstood. Trying to address heavy subjects, especially those you disagree on, at the end of the day when you?re both tired and short on patience is not smart. Too many couples make the mistake of starting fights at this time of day when they should be building connection ? not creating division.? ? Smith 

7. They set aside time to chat about the day and open up about their feelings. 

?The happiest couples regularly discuss the external stressors in their life and allow their partner to vent often. This doesn?t mean going into negativity overload all evening, but it does mean setting aside 15 to 30 minutes to unwind and lean into the relationship by showing support for the other relationships and experiences in your partner?s life. In my practice, I help couples listen to their partner?s stresses without feeling the need to take them on or problem-solve. Their partner tends to be appreciative of this opportunity and just feeling understood empowers them to be ready to tackle the next day?s stresses.? ? Carroll

8. They keep the kids out of the bedroom. 

?Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for the two of you. Although nightmares and illnesses might trigger children to climb into bed with you, in general, if intimacy and connection is your goal, encourage children to stay in their own rooms. Couples need privacy and boundaries to stay connected.? ? Weiner-Davis

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Socialism Is So Hot Right Now. Thank Bernie Sanders.

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WASHINGTON ? Consider the Bernie Bro (Wellus actuallius), an aggressive subgenus of Sen. Bernie Sanders? supporters.

In the year since Sanders lost the Democratic primary, members of this species have been pushed out of their native habitat and forced to migrate to new ecosystems. Some nested down in social media, encroaching on classmates? Facebook posts and female journalists? Twitter updates with condescending diatribes about Slavoj ?i?ek. Others made their way to the hostile environs of Donald Trump?s campaign, finding sustenance in the idea that there was no difference between the Republican and Democratic nominees for president. Still more found their way to your dinner table, nourishing themselves on ponderous expositions of neoliberalism, where and how they refill their beer growlers, and why Bernie would?ve won.  

Herds of other Bernie Bros, however, have staked out a far more hospitable environment: the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. For the uninitiated, DSA ? the inheritor of the American Socialist Party, co-founded by Eugene Debs and instrumental in the progressive reforms of the early 20th century ? is a chapter-based national political advocacy organization that crusades for policies such as a higher minimum wage, safer working conditions and universal health care.

DSA openly uses the big, bad, scary s-word that countless Republican consultants have used to smear Democrats over the years. And despite decades of efforts to stigmatize it, socialism is kind of in right now.

This was partly fueled by Sanders? underdog presidential campaign ? he identifies as a democratic socialist but caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate ? as well as by an economic recovery that has left many working people in the dust, experiencing a growing sense of disillusionment with the Democratic Party.

?We were highly visible in the Sanders campaign,? Joseph Schwartz, a DSA national vice chair and professor of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia, told HuffPost. Schwartz said DSA?s growth began to accelerate as the Sanders campaign picked up steam in mid-2015, and has continued since Trump took office.

DSA has rooted itself in the millennial psyche with astonishing speed. A quiz posted on Reductress earlier this month was titled, ?Is He Into You, Just a Friend, or Trying to Get You to Join the Democratic Socialists?? Comedian Rob Delaney regularly promotes the group on social media. And that rose emoji you keep see popping up on Twitter? It?s likely a reference to both DSA?s logo and that of Socialist International, the global consortium of socialist organizations. Along with #resist and #NeverthelessShePersisted, the rose emoji has remained one of the more enduring social media trends since last November.

?The real massive influx was starting with the day Trump was elected,? Schwartz recalled. ?Many people want to fight back against Trump, but they also realize that the centrist, pro-corporatist views of the Democratic Party are partially what gave rise to him.?

DSA officials say their member rolls shot up from around 8,500 on Election Day to about 21,000 as of early May, and they?re getting upwards of 10 requests a week to help open new chapters. New members are overwhelmingly young and tech-savvy, thanks in no small part to the groundwork the Sanders campaign laid by bringing millions of young people into politics.

This engagement was on full display at a May Day rally in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Around noon, some 100 or so activists from a variety of progressive organizations gathered in a small park in D.C.?s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Making small talk near the obligatory drum circle were around 10 members of DSA?s D.C.-area chapter, nearly all of whom had signed up to join DSA on or after Election Day.

DSA?s contingent was one of the largest on hand, but was nearly all white and male ? contrasting sharply with the rest of the crowd, which was far more diverse and representative of the neighborhood?s large Salvadoran community. The DSA attendees who spoke with HuffPost said they had joined DSA since November and were first drawn to it through the Sanders campaign.

?Ever since Trump won, I think people have been feeling very scared and want to do something, and DSA is a great organization to channel that,? said Nick from Poughkeepsie, New York, who declined to give his last name. ?I had an awakening during Sanders campaign. I was monitoring the growth of all these organizations and saw that DSA was gaining all these members and felt like DSA spoke to me.?

James Mathias, 25, from northern Virginia, had previously volunteered for Barack Obama?s first presidential campaign and later participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. After voting for Sanders in the 2016 primary, he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. While he wasn?t wild about Clinton?s policies, he felt compelled to vote for her out of political necessity, given Virginia?s swing state status.

Mathias said political realism drew him to DSA and that he has yet to experience the organizational or political disappointment he did with Occupy and Obama.

?Each time, I kind of drifted in and out, because both of those things petered out, either literally or philosophically,? Mathias recalled. ?Occupy wasn?t focused on engaging with existing political structures. DSA is focused on building power for political ends. I really see a bias for action and not shying away from political structures.?

Indeed, DSA doesn?t fashion itself as a vehicle for high-level political office ? most of its members who have run for office have run in municipal elections ? but rather as ?America?s largest Socialist organization,? per its website. This isn?t a wishy-washy expression of being (The Socialist International was in our hearts all along!), but an acknowledgement that its foundational work is in lending organizational support to candidates from other parties and organizations whose policies align with its agenda.

This includes other liberal advocacy organizations and economically progressive politicians like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sanders.

DSA didn?t endorse Clinton in the 2016 general election, but its chapters actively organized a ?Dump Trump? movement targeted at the Republican nominee. That left open the possibility of voting for Green Party nominee Jill Stein or even Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, but DSA officials told HuffPost they expected a large number of their supporters would back Clinton.

Despite DSA?s often antagonistic attitude toward the Democrats, Democratic officials say they?ll happily accept DSA?s support whenever it?s willing to offer it. 

?We welcome the help of groups across the country who are fighting to defeat Republicans and elect progressive leaders that stand for the same values that make our party so great,? DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told HuffPost in an email. 

While a membership of 21,000 is still small as political entities go ? progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org touts over 7 million members, for example ? DSA members? engagement has caught the attention of the progressive community. They showed up in large numbers at May Day rallies across the country this year, including a New York City rally that attracted well over 1,000 DSA members.

?The people who are joining DSA are people who are extremely active,? said Bob Master, a veteran labor activist and the co-founder and co-chair of the Working Families Party of New York. This gives the group tremendous leverage, Master said: Having a young, energized and tech-fluent base of volunteers is a welcome addition to any political coalition.

DSA?s willingness to adapt to the current political framework and engage with other organizations has drawn plaudits from other progressive activist and organizations.

?DSA has been an excellent ally, joining with our members in canvassing area businesses; they hosted a fundraiser party that raised $1,000 and helped us expand our operations,? said Hannah Kane, an organizer at Many Languages One Voice, a Washington, D.C., immigrant community group that led the May Day protest. ?They?ve just been all-around excellent partners.?

George Goehl, the co-director of People?s Action & People?s Action Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy organization, partly attributes DSA?s rise to ?the Democratic Party and its constant tacking toward the middle and feeling like the answers to its problems lay in a more moderate, less-structural set of reforms.?

?We failed in the last election because we had a candidate who was unable to tap into the anger that people are feeling,? echoed Master. ?The Democratic Party cannot limit itself to saying ?Trump is a bad guy because he fired James Comey.? [It] has to speak to the growing sense of economic stagnation and diminishment.?

Naturally, Democratic officials disagree with this assessment. Hinojosa, the DNC spokeswoman, said the party and its new chairman, Tom Perez, possess ?an unwavering commitment to workers and will continue to fight for working families on behalf of the Democratic Party.?

We failed in the last election because we had a candidate who was unable to tap into the anger that people are feeling.
Bob Master, co-founder and co-chair, Working Families Party of New York

DSA naturally draws comparisons to the Green Party, a fact that is not lost on DSA members or leaders. But DSA officials see major differences between the organizations ?  particularly in the Green Party?s complete separation from other political parties and what they see as the Greens? inordinate focus on presidential elections.

?We?re more flexible in terms of tactics,? said Schwartz. ?We prioritize doing social movement work, and we see electoral politics as coming out of that.? The Green Party?s emphasis on its presidential tickets, he added, ?is not an intelligent way to build an independent third party.?

Green Party officials dispute that. In an email to HuffPost, Scott McLarty, media director for the Green Party of the United States, noted that ?the Green Party runs hundreds of candidates for local and state office every election cycle.?

?One of the main reasons we run presidential candidates is the support they give to state parties and to state and local candidates,? added McLarty.

DSA has several challenges as its membership balloons, including what to do with all those new members. Although individuals unable to pay membership dues are still allowed to join, DSA relies on dues to maintain operations, which includes paying the salaries of the eight full-time employees in its national office. Right now, only two DSA chapters employ part-time employees, but DSA officials expect that number to grow considerably as large chapters in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco continue to add members.

Activists outside DSA also say it?s imperative that the group not lose focus on its overarching mission, or let the Democratic Party?s decidedly less-than-socialist views dilute its platform.

DSA?s biennial convention in Chicago this August will be a major test of both its organization and focus. The group?s 2015 gathering in Baltimore featured roughly 150 attendees, but organizers expect this year?s convention to attract 500.

Organizers hope to avoid what transpired at last year?s Green Party convention, which got so bogged down by ideological infighting and poor planning that it ultimately devolved into one giant lightbulb joke.  

?Managing growth is really hard, and when organizations grow, it?s hard to stick with your principles,? said Goehl. ?A little too much power or access can pollute things.?

An arguably greater challenge for DSA is diversifying its ranks and combating the growing impression that it is merely a refuge for wayward Bernie Bros. Indeed, most DSA members interviewed for this article were white men.

DSA officials acknowledge that this overwhelming whiteness is inherently limiting. ?We have to make space for diverse voices, including from immigrant communities,? said Schwartz. ?If we don?t tackle things like mass incarceration, police brutality and the lack of economic opportunity for people of all races, we won?t unite working people.?

In addition to promoting an agenda that it believes appeals to communities of color, DSA officials argue that the group?s focus on economic matters has the potential to appeal to female voters, who tend to back Democratic candidates and prioritize social welfare issues such as paid maternity leave and access to affordable health care.

Julia Griffin is a 21-year-old DSA member from northern Virginia who works in the service industry and who attended the May Day rally in Washington. She said her Christian faith helped draw her to DSA; she sees in socialism a helping-thy-neighbor ethos that?s central to her religious beliefs.

?After the election, I was so frustrated with the Democratic Party and so disappointed with everything that went on, I definitely needed to feel part of an organization that was actively working to make people?s lives better,? said Griffin.  

Ultimately, activists outside DSA say that if it wants to transcend its status as yet another outside group hoping to influence Democratic politics, it?ll need to establish itself as a real third party ? not only by notching some wins with local candidates, but also by enacting reforms once they take office.

?If you?re attracting working-class and low-income members, you got to deliver some tangible victories,? said Goehl, of People?s Action & People?s Action Institute. He listed the establishment of local credit unions as an example of the type of policy reforms he believes locally-elected DSA members could achieve.   

?You can deliver a wide range of victories ? they can be electoral, they can be narrative, but they have to be tangible after a while,? Goehl added. ?This is not theoretical to people; this is about having a place to live and having health care.?

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Australian Cafe Introduces Avocado Lattes As A Joke, But Not Everyone Got It

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Avocados have peaked. They?ve gone from toast to boats to roses and now, they have reached latte status.

An Australian-based cafe, Truman Cafe, posted a video of their avocado latte creation, and the world reacted passionately.

Combing two of Melbourne's obsessions – lattes and avo

A post shared by Truman Cafe (@trumancafealbertpark) on

Even though prices are on the rise, avocados are generally beloved. But Twitter had choice words about this creation. 

Here?s the thing, the latte was just a joke. Barista Jaydin Nathan told News.com.au, ?It was actually just a joke. We weren?t actually selling them but then someone came in today and wanted one. I think it?s ridiculous. It?s literally coffee in a piece of rubbish.?

The joke that no one thought was funny. Except for this one Twitter user:

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Julie Andrews: I’ve ‘Just Always’ Been An LGBTQ Ally

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For Julie Andrews, being a patron of the arts and an LGBTQ rights advocate go hand in hand. 

In a new interview with The Advocate, the legendary star of ?Mary Poppins? and ?The Sound of Music? credited her years of working in film and on stage for exposing her to diversity early on. When it comes to queer people specifically, Andrews said she?s ?just always? been an ally. 

?Theater, anyway, is such an open community and free,? the Oscar winner said. She went on to note that she was ?very aware of bias and bigotry? from a young age, but that she ?was raised not to be that way and not to think that way.?

?It always seemed puzzling to me that the world wasn?t just embracing human beings. But it?s never been something that I stumbled on,? she said. ?It?s just always been innate, thanks I think to the professions that I am in.? 

Andrews, 81, is back in the spotlight as the host of ?Julie?s Greenroom,? a new Netflix series for children that explores different aspects of the performing arts. Her co-stars in the series are the ?Greenies,? a cast of original puppets that were created by The Jim Henson Company. One of the ?Greenies,? Riley, is depicted as a gender neutral character. ?We tried to be as inclusive as we possibly could within the show,? Andrews, who created ?Julie?s Greenroom? with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and Judy Rothman, said. 

In March, Andrews and Hamilton spoke out against President Donald Trump?s ?mind-boggling? plan to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts in an impassioned CNN editorial. True to form, the woman beloved by legions of fans for her iconic role as Maria von Trapp doubled down on that stance in the Advocate interview.

?There?s no doubt that [the arts] help people understand each other and they transcend all barriers, and I cannot think of anything more important,? Andrews said. As far as her suggestion for Trump?s apparent disregard for the arts is concerned, she said, ?Talk to anybody that is passionate about them and listen and learn, because I cannot imagine a world without them.? 

For the latest in LGBTQ news, check out the Queer Voices newsletter. 

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Counterterrorism Expert Slams ‘Narcissist’ Donald Trump

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A former counterterrorism official at both the CIA and FBI has again slammed President Donald Trump, this time for being an unredeemable ?narcissist.?

Philip Mudd, now a counterterrorism analyst on CNN, said it was ?disgusting? that Trump stood in front of a memorial wall honoring CIA heroes in January and complained about media reports of a mediocre inauguration crowd.

?We saw this within 24 hours of his inauguration,? Mudd said Thursday on CNN. ?He doesn?t represent 320 million Americans, he represents one. And that?s Donald Trump.?

And Mudd lashed Trump for a speech he delivered this week to the graduating class of the Coast Guard Academy, in which the president said he was doing a ?tremendous job.?

?He should be offering a vision of the future,? Mudd said. ?What does he talk about? The sissy-in-chief talks about how tough it is to be president because the media comes after him.?

Mudd has been a frequent harsh critic of Trump. He attacked him twice on CNN last week, first calling the president a ?coward? for firing James Comey from his post as FBI director. Two days later, Mudd criticized the president again by saying, ?You feel like you?ve got to give the president of the United States a pacifier and a rattle and put him in the crib.?

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This Startup Is Telling Everyday Investors It Will Be The Next Uber

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Ramy El-Batrawi has founded 27 companies that are now inactive or dissolved, hawking everything from relationship counseling to futures trading to van rentals to Alaskan fishing vacations, a HuffPost review of state records finds. He even ran a travel agency in Palm Beach, Florida, with a Saudi arms dealer involved in the Iran-Contra affair, and was named as a go-between for an offshore entity listed in the Panama Papers.

In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission barred El-Batrawi from being an executive in a publicly traded company for five years as part of the settlement over a $130 million stock fraud case against a company he led until it collapsed in 2001.

Now that his prohibition period is over, El-Batrawi has something new to sell: shares in YayYo, a price-comparing ride-sharing app that doesn?t currently work.

The company, with El-Batrawi as CEO, is trying to sell $50 million in stock ? which it can do thanks to newly relaxed securities laws that let speculative startups raise money from mom-and-pop investors. Proponents of the laws said they would boost the economy and create jobs, while critics said the loosened rules put people?s money at risk. 

YayYo paid Master P to record a promotional track for the company and has been running TV ads on daytime cable news for weeks featuring the actor John O?Hurley, who famously played a catalog salesman peddling ordinary products and whimsical stories on ?Seinfeld.?

?What if you were an early investor in Uber or Lyft ? what would you be worth today?? O?Hurley asks. The answer, he says, is that you would have made ?made millions, if not tens of millions.? (Uber and Lyft are valued at $62.5 billion and $7.4 billion, respectively.)

But wait, there?s more: YayYo, O?Hurley says, might just grow even faster that Uber and Lyft. When and if YayYo?s app works, it will let you compare prices from different ride-hailing companies by plugging directly into the data that companies like Uber and Lyft have made available to third-party developers.

As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it?s probably running stock ads on Fox News at 11:45 on a random weekday morning.

Lyft has already filed a cease and desist order against YayYo and barred the company from using its data, a spokesman told HuffPost. Uber did not return HuffPost?s request for comment, but BuzzFeed?s Will Alden noted that the company?s terms don?t allow its data to be aggregated with that of its competitors.

A ride-hailing price-comparison app that can?t compare the prices of the two dominant ride-hailing services is extremely unlikely to succeed, let alone be larger and more popular than the two multi-billion-dollar companies whose data it?s supposed to use.

A spokesperson for YayYo declined HuffPost?s request to comment for this story. Bob Vanech, a YayYo board member, told BuzzFeed last week that the company was likely to meet its $50 million goal.

A ride-hailing price-comparison app that can?t compare the prices of the two dominant ride-hailing services is extremely unlikely to succeed.

Buried on page 54 of YayYo?s 69-page offering document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is a biography that details some of El-Batrawi?s past business ventures, as well as his history of running afoul of financial regulators. What got him temporarily banned from running a public company was his leadership of GenesisIntermedia, a telemarketing company.

The SEC alleged that El-Batrawi and Adnan Khashoggi ? a Saudi arms dealer who was rumored to be the world?s richest man in the 1980s ? created an offshore company to hold 15 million share of Genesis? stock. The offshore entity then lent those shares to stockbrokers in return for cash. The loan agreements, the SEC said, meant that if the price of Genesis stock rose, El-Batrawi and Khashoggi would receive more cash.

So they allegedly pumped up the price of the stock by making false statements about the company?s finances and restricting the number of shares that could trade. They also paid an actress to promote the stock in TV commercials.

When the value of Genisis stock fell as the stock market dropped after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, El-Batrawi and Khashoggi were supposed to pay back their loans, but they defaulted, bankrupting the brokers who had given them cash. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation, a government-mandated industry group that effectively insures customers? accounts when a brokerage goes under, had to step in with what was at the time the agency?s largest-ever bailout.

At least nine other companies El-Batrawi registered were dissolved between 2002 and 2004 for failing to pay annual fees or to file reports to the state officials. Douglas Jacobsen, who was Genesis? former chief financial officer, told HuffPost he had created 20 or 30 different entities for El-Batrawi, a number of which were effectively shuttered in 2001.

Jacobsen blamed the Sept. 11 attacks for the businesses? failures: ?9/11 ruined everything for everybody,? he said. While that explanation seems insensitive, it?s probably not entirely wrong: Sudden stock market drops like those after 9/11 can help unmask fraudulent business schemes that rely on stock prices continuing to go up. When the overall stock market dropped, it dragged Genesis? stock down and prompted the brokers to ask for their money back ? only to discover they weren?t getting paid back.

But even in disclosing these not-very-promising past business ventures in his YayYo?s SEC filing, El-Batrawi may be overstating his professional background.

The offering document says that El-Batrawi also founded Aloha Aviation Group, which then partnered with an investment vehicle run by billionaire Ron Burkle to acquire the then-bankrupt Aloha Airlines in 2005.

A spokesman for Burkle?s firm, The Yucaipa Companies, declined to comment, but a close associate of El-Batrawi told HuffPost the SEC filing does not accurately state what happened. El-Batrawi tried to bring Yucaipa deals and introduce the company to people, but it didn?t really pan out. El-Batrawi, the associate said, is ?being a little bit fast and loose? ? exaggerating his involvement in the deal to bolster his résumé.

YayYo is almost exactly what critics of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act ? the JOBS Act ? feared when President Barack Obama signed the bill in 2012. (The SEC finished the final rulemaking to implement the law in 2015.) The legislation capitalized on the idea that crowd-funding could help boost the economy by kickstarting investments in small, innovative and risky companies that are normally open only to sophisticated investors like venture capitalists. 

?It?s really hard to see how removing basic investor protections and exposing millions of Americans to ripoffs will spur ?jobs,? but it isn?t hard to remember how it helped destroy the economy,? Tyler Gellasch, a former Senate staffer and counsel for SEC Commissioner Kara Stein told HuffPost. ?Unfortunately, that?s exactly where Congress and the SEC seem to now be headed.?

From Gellasch?s perspective, the JOBS Act was a siren call to for shady businessman to take money from gullible investors. In YayYo?s case, it seems like that?s exactly what?s happening.

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Why Is Donald Trump Sticking By Michael Flynn?

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The controversy surrounding former national security adviser Michael Flynn has engulfed President Donald Trump?s White House. And yet it is Trump?s own staunch defense of Flynn that has fanned the intrigue.

Flynn was fired after just 24 days on the job after it was revealed he discussed sanctions against Russia with its ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, before Trump?s inauguration and then repeatedly lied about doing so. 

Yet Flynn has remained in the spotlight as the FBI investigates his ties to the Russian government as well as his lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government during Trump?s campaign.

But Flynn has also received a great deal of attention over Trump?s unusual devotion to him. Even though he fired him, Trump has continued to heap praise on the retired lieutenant general, has defended his communications with Russia and possibly attempted to obstruct justice in order to clear his former adviser?s name. 

Few other Trump associates have received this kind of backing. His team has sought to distance the president from other ex-staffers under FBI investigation, including Trump?s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his onetime foreign policy adviser Carter Page. In March, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Manafort played a ?very limited role for a very limited amount of time? in Trump?s presidential campaign. (Manafort managed the campaign from March to August 2016.) The same week, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed the president didn?t know Page, despite the work he did on the presidential campaign.

With Flynn, it?s a different story. 

According to a New York Times report, the White House knew Flynn was under investigation for his work with the Turkish government weeks before the inauguration. Trump still named him national security adviser, giving him access to the highest levels of classified information. The president also ignored a warning from President Barack Obama, who shortly after the election cautioned Trump against hiring Flynn. (Obama fired Flynn from his post at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.) 

And, according to the Daily Beast, Trump actually talked Flynn into taking the job even though Flynn was ?reluctant.? 

A week after the inauguration, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the administration that Flynn was ?compromised? and ?could essentially be blackmailed? by the Russian government. However, Flynn wasn?t fired until 18 days later.  

Even after Flynn?s Feb. 13 dismissal, Trump maintained that Flynn did nothing wrong by speaking to Kislyak, claiming he fired Flynn only because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his Russian communications. He also described Flynn as a ?wonderful man? who was ?treated very, very unfairly by the media.?

Most notably, the president reportedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey on Feb. 14 to drop his investigation of Flynn. ?He is a good guy,? Trump reportedly told Comey. ?I hope you can let this go.?

The revelation, which emerged after Trump fired Comey on May 9, has thrown the White House into further chaos and has sparked discussion of impeachment. 

Trump reportedly told Flynn last month to ?stay strong? amid his growing legal woes.

So why would Trump potentially risk his own presidency to defend Flynn?

One possible explanation is Flynn?s fierce devotion to the president.   

Loyalty, while not a virtue he seems to practice often himself, is one of the qualities Trump admires most in others. And Flynn had been one of Trump?s most loyal allies. 

Flynn joined the campaign relatively early in the Republican primary, in February 2016, while most of the Republican Party was siding with candidates such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. He was a frequent presence on the campaign trail and famously led the Republican National Convention in chants of ?Lock her up!? in reference to Trump?s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. While the GOP national security establishment lined up against Trump, Flynn advised his campaign on how to improve its foreign policy message and touted that message on cable news. And he stood by Trump during the fallout from the 2005 ?Access Hollywood? tape, in which Trump boasted of sexual improprieties, even as many Republicans (at least temporarily) retracted their endorsements of him. 

There?s been some speculation that Flynn must have some dirt on the president.

Joking aside, that speculation kicked into high gear after Flynn sought immunity in exchange for testifying in front of Congress and the FBI, an offer that was refused. But according to a report in Yahoo News, people close to Flynn say that his loyalty has not wavered and that the retired general has no plans to turn on Trump. 

?These are two men who bonded on the campaign trail,? a Flynn associate told Yahoo. ?Flynn always believed that Trump would win. They were together so much during the campaign that Flynn became family. There has been zero sign of anything but supreme loyalty.?

A White House official echoed that sentiment to The Atlantic

?They got so close during the campaign,? said a senior White House official who was brought on by Flynn and has stayed after his departure. When Flynn left, ?the real person who probably took it hardest was the president because General Flynn was the person closest to him on national-security matters.?

That loyalty has strained Trump?s relationship with Flynn?s replacement, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Politico reported. According to its sources, Trump ?misses his conversations with Flynn? and is ?struggling to connect? with his new national security adviser. 

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aeolotropy

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Dogs can’t handle a summer heat as well as we humans do. domainnameMake your dog a cake by freezing some dog toys and food in a bullion your dog will be thankful for this idea.

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Stephen Colbert Skewers Donald Trump’s Ridiculous Exercise Theories

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?Late Show? host Stephen Colbert took President Donald Trump to task over his reported bizarre theories on exercise Wednesday.

?At the age of 70, Trump doesn?t have the energy of a child?in part ?cause he doesn?t believe in exercise,? Colbert said.

Citing a Washington Post article that reported Trump thinks people?s bodies are like batteries with finite amounts of energy that become depleted with exercise, Colbert admitted ?we should?ve seen his anti-exercise thing coming.?

?After all, one of the first things Trump did was replace Michelle Obama?s ?Let?s Move? campaign with his own: ?Let?s Not,?? he added.

Check out the full segment above.

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2017 AT

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Here are 10 players to watch headed into the AT&T Byron Nelson, which will be played at TCP Four Seasons Las Colinas for the last time this week.

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Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ Spoof Explains Donald Trump’s Lies To Kids

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It?s a conundrum that parents across the country currently face: How do you explain to your children the lies that President Donald Trump tells?

Thankfully, Jimmy Kimmel is on hand to help ? via this glorious ?Schoolhouse Rock? parody.

?We are now living in a world of alternative facts,? Kimmel said Tuesday. ?The president makes statements almost every day that aren?t necessarily based in truth.?

Noting how kids were raised ?to believe the president tells the truth,? Kimmel said it wasn?t ?the case anymore? but hoped his animated video would ?explain how it all works? now.

Check out the full video above.

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atlases

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War: There can not be one single thought for this. But there can be only one to describe the reason of it.War When conducting a chiropractic exam, the procedure and aspects of it are very similar to those carried out when conducting a common medical exam, but the treatment is particularly different.. And that according to me wud be “Us, the human repeatedly failing as a species able to think”. We say we are the only ones to have decisive powers, then why we use it to destroy ourselves?

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Donald Trump Says He Has The Right To Share Info With The Russians

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday all but admitted that he revealed ?highly classified? information while meeting with Russian officials last week, contradicting his administration?s earlier attempts to deny the story.

Early Tuesday morning, Trump proclaimed that he has ?the absolute right? to share any information he wants:

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump ?jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State? with disclosures to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. The Post said it wasn?t reporting what the president told the Russians, ?at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.?

BuzzFeed and The New York Times later confirmed the Post report.

The president also indicated he?s eager to determine who gave information to reporters. 

Administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, criticized the reporting.

In disputing the story, McMaster told reporters that ?at no time were sources or methods discussed.? But the Post?s story did not report that Trump revealed sources or methods.

The bombshell allegation, which drew concern from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, came amid intense scrutiny over the president?s ties to the Russian government.

The day before his meeting with the Russians, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency had been investigating whether the president?s campaign colluded with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. 

The White House also faced criticism for allowing a photographer for a Russian state news agency to cover the Oval Office meeting, while members of the American press were barred. 

The president has frequently lashed out at major media outlets that have published damaging stories about him, including The New York Times and CNN. During a rally last month, he railed against the ?fake news? media and called the press ?dishonest.? He also has called for changes to libel laws to allow him to more easily sue news organizations. 

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Despite Campaign Boasts, Trump Has No Idea How To Handle Classified Material

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During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump egged on his supporters when they chanted ?Lock her up!? about Hillary Clinton at nearly every one of his rallies. He repeatedly went after his Democratic opponent for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, saying she endangered national security and potentially let U.S. secrets get out. 

But Trump himself has absolutely no idea how to handle classified information. (And he apparently also doesn?t know that C stands for ?confidential.?)  

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump disclosed ?highly classified? information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a White House meeting last week. The material reportedly came from a source who knows about the inner workings of ISIS and was so sensitive it hadn?t even been shared with U.S. allies and many people within the U.S. government.

?Donald Trump still believes someone who gave classified national security secrets to our adversaries is unfit to be President, right?? said Jesse Ferguson, who served as a spokesman for the Clinton campaign.

Despite what he said on the campaign trail, Trump has never really seemed to grasp the nuances of foreign policy ? and he often didn?t show much interest. After he won the election, Trump refused to go to the briefings offered by the intelligence community every day, saying he didn?t need them because he was a ?smart person.?

?You know, I?m, like, a smart person. I don?t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years ? but eight years. I don?t need that,? Trump said in December. 

Officials told The Washington Post that, even though the National Security Council still prepares detailed, multi-page briefings for Trump to deal with foreign leaders, ?he has insisted that the guidance be distilled to a single page of bullet points ? and often ignores those.?

?Every day we get closer to testing Trump?s theory about what would happen if he shot a man on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight. To the foreign ally he betrayed, this may already be the equivalent of that,? said Brian Fallon, who was the Clinton campaign press secretary, referring to Trump?s campaign statement that his voters would stick by him no matter what he did.

Trump?s advisers also relentlessly attacked Clinton for her use of a private email server. 

You know, I?m, like, a smart person.
Donald Trump

Michael Flynn, Trump?s former national security adviser who resigned after lying about his contact with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office, said Clinton should be in jail for what she did. 

?You know why we?re saying that [lock her up]? We?re saying that because if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today. So ? so, Crooked Hillary Clinton, leave this race now!? Flynn said in his speech at the Republican National Convention

Even as president, Trump has continued to rail against leaks coming from within the federal government, arguing that people who reveal classified secrets should go to prison.

?Classified. That?s classified,? he said in a recent interview with Time magazine. ?You go to prison when you release stuff like that. And who would release that??

Want more updates from Amanda Terkel? Sign up for her newsletter, Piping Hot Truth, here.

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Predisposed And Unaware: How Race Called The Shots On My Health

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I?m a black woman with uterine fibroids. These noncancerous growths, also called intramural fibroids, line the muscular wall of my uterus. Technically benign, they threaten to grow into larger, painful masses that could ultimately rob me of the ability to bear children.

Fibroids are common in all women, but research suggests that African American women are significantly more likely to develop uterine fibroids. In fact, in addition to a family history of fibroids, being African American is at the top of the list of causes for the condition. And black women aren?t only at a higher risk for developing fibroids. They also tend to experience more severe symptoms.

As I consider my new diagnosis and explore treatment options, I reflect on the incidents that led me to this point. The signs of the condition were there, but I was never quite aware of them until my diagnosis. It?s important for black women to know about the unique risk they have for uterine fibroids and understand the scope of their options in order to face fibroids head-on.

Frustration and pain

Before my own diagnosis, I didn?t know much about fibroids ? other than that they caused my mom to get a hysterectomy.

Having African American roots may very well have had something to do with this. For black women, fibroids develop at a younger age and grow larger than for other women. As a result, the fibroids are more likely to cause extreme pain, infertility issues, and lead to a hysterectomy.

How did my race make me more prone to reproductive issues? My diagnosis confused me. I didn?t understand why being black increased my risk. I wanted to return to the ?regular? days of my adolescence, when I was a textbook case for normal periods.

I?d eventually learn that my mom and I weren?t the only ones in my family to deal with this condition. Although complications are rare, uterine fibroids had deeply impacted my female relatives. They had had procedures ranging from fibroid reduction to uterus removal. I wondered if I?d be the next story to tell. If uterine fibroids would change the course of my life. If I?d ever have another child.

I wondered if I?d be the next story to tell. If uterine fibroids would change the course of my life. If I?d ever have another child.

Growing up ?regular?

I?ve always considered myself lucky in the reproductive area. This is mostly because I?ve always been ?regular.? I got my first period at a ?regular? age. I had a ?regular? 28-day cycle, and I was able to maintain a ?regular? weight for my short stature. Everything in my life remained ?regular? up until my first child was born. Suddenly, I found myself going to the doctor more times than I could count for more pains than I could remember. After finding out I had retained placenta, I had no expectations of being ?regular? again.

Persistent Pain

I?d always had back pain, intense menstrual cramps, and pain during sex. But so many women have the same problems that I thought they were just part of being ?regular.? Many of the things I?d read about uterine-related health issues like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome were linked to irregular periods. And since my periods have always been on a predictable 28-day cycle, I believed that nothing was wrong. So when I started having the occasional cramp, I was uncomfortable but not alarmed.

Around six months postpartum, I began having occasional cramp-like sensations.

After 14 months of nursing, I thought my frequent uterine contractions marked the return of my old ?regular? friend.

?My body is having trouble regulating itself,? I?d think to myself. Then it occurred to me that all the issues I?d had with retained placenta could?ve affected my reproductive cycle. So I started talking with holistic practitioners and thinking of a plan.

A natural cure

During a family trip to Colorado, curiosity led me into an apothecary. I had no intention of purchasing anything, I just wanted to know what the homeopathic world had to offer. But when the practitioner commented on my skin and the conditions that could relate to that symptom, I was sold.

I told her everything. I told her about my traumatic birth experience and the retained placenta. I told her about the frequent bloodless cramps I?d been experiencing. And I told her about my history of painful menstrual periods. She recommended raspberry leaf tea and an assortment of herbs believed to help reproductive issues and jump-start menstrual periods. I?d never had loose leaf tea before. I was excited to get started.

After a few days, I started cramping. I had some light spotting, which excited me. I was sure my period was finally back and I could live like before. But after a few hours, the pain multiplied and I couldn?t walk. I knew something was wrong. It was time to call a doctor.

A diagnosis

I?d never been big on taking medications, but I knew something had to be done. I made an appointment with my gynecologist to understand what was going on. After discussing the pain, she recommended an ultrasound. A few days after my ultrasound, the doctor called with the news: I had multiple uterine fibroids. She was nearly certain that they were the cause of my pain. Suddenly, all those years of gut-wrenching periods made sense.

Looking forward

I cried and moved around to reduce the pain. My frequent movement woke my husband, and he insisted that we go to the urgent care. Despite the fact that I was in extreme pain, the doctors found nothing. The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers and we went home. For the next three days, I had to take muscle relaxers around the clock in order to function.

During my cycle of ibuprofen and muscle relaxers, I remembered my tea and the benefits of raspberry leaf. I had nothing to lose, so I began drinking it. Soon, tea replaced every drink other than water. Within two weeks, I got my period for the first time in two years. I was in a lot of pain, but it felt worth it. There was hope to be ?regular? once again.

My diagnosis is new, but my complications aren?t. I plan to have a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy to see if my fibroids can be managed with diet changes or if they should be removed. As time goes by, I truly believe the tea is helping. Even if that help is a placebo effect, it?s given me peace of mind. Fibroids may bring complications, but with homeopathic and medical solutions, there?s hope.

For other women out there, I encourage you to get to know your family history and listen to what your body tells you. My family history and predisposition to uterine fibroids were signs I missed. Whether I could have prevented them or not doesn?t matter now. I?ve learned that it?s important to know your body and your options, so you can be in control of your future.

Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is a freelance writer that specializes in health, sociology, and parenting. She spends her time reading, loving on her family, and studying society. Follow her articles on her writer?s page.

This original story was published on Healthline.com.

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cushioning

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I made a friend online and we got really close, so i decided to visit her. She was from a different country and so i prepare to travel to her place. I had gotten my visa and the website from LH documents ready when i heard her country’s president had stopped people from my country from entering her country. It was really disappointing, but there was nothing i could do about it.

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Twitter Turned A Simple Question Into The Most Relatable Joke About Moms

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There are certain phrases that moms say so often, they could act as a soundtrack to your childhood.

So, when David DeWeil, a professor at University of South Carolina, poised this question to Twitter the day before Mother?s Day ?

? It quickly turned into a joke about moms? greatest hits ? phrase-wise.

People named a lot of classics:

And once the meme caught on, users began naming some sayings that should be certified platinum:

Never change, moms!

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You’re Probably Eating Plastic For Dinner, You Just Don’t Know It Yet

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This story is part of a series on ocean plastics.

The oceans are teeming with plastic trash: shopping bags, water bottles, old toothbrushes, and much more. By 2020, there will be more plastic than fish in marine waters.

Over time, this debris begins to break into near-microscopic particles. There may be 51 trillion tiny plastic pieces scattered across the world?s oceans ? 500 times more than there are stars in the galaxy. Fish, unable to discern what?s plastic and what?s food, are eating this stuff. And humans, ever ravenous, eat fish ? lots of them.

One in four fish has plastic in its gut, according a recent study. Plastic particles have also been found in oysters and mussels. If you eat a lot of shellfish, for example, you might be consuming 11,000 pieces of plastic a year. The health effects of this are unknown.

To see how this cycle plays out, take a look through the storybook below:

Sources: NOAA(1)(2), NRDC, Columbia Earth Institute, EPA, Seeker, PLOS ONE, UN, University of California, NCBI, The Guardian.

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