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Friday August 18, 2017 @ 12:48:48 PM mt

pRomney's response to Trump's white supremacist comments is essential reading.p



"This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children."


Mitt Romney and President Donald Trump have always had a somewhat peculiar relationship.

When Romney ran for president in 2012, Trump alternated between insulting the former Massachusetts governor and ultimately offering his endorsement. Similarly, when Trump campaigned in 2016, Romney slammed Trump's policies and unwillingness to release his tax returns, but cozied up to him after the election.

"Frenemies" is probably the most accurate way to describe their relationship.

Trump and Romney met for dinner in November 2016. The awkward look sums up the relationship pretty well. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

After managing to (mostly) bite his tongue over Trump's tumultuous first months in office, Romney laid into him with a fiery Facebook post.

At issue was Trump's moral character and the signal he sent to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the wake of the Charlottesville protests.

I will dispense for now from discussion of the moral character of the president's Charlottesville statements. Whether he...

Posted by Mitt Romney onFriday, August 18, 2017

There are some key takeaways from Romney's post.

1. "Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn."

Getting right to the heart of the matter, Romney directly called out Trump on the message sent to the white supremacist community. Groups picked up on Trump's dog-whistle signals and reacted accordingly.

"His apologists strain to explain that he didn't mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric."

Trump during his now-infamous press conference on Aug. 15. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

2. "The leaders of our branches of military service have spoken immediately and forcefully, repudiating the implications of the president's words."

It's not every day military leadership is forced to clarify or rebuke something said by the commander in chief, but that's where things stand today. While many of their comments were framed as being simply about having zero tolerance for racism, it's pretty clear who they were referencing.

"[T]he morale and commitment of our forces made up and sustained by men and women of all races could be in the balance. Our allies around the world are stunned and our enemies celebrate; America's ability to help secure a peaceful and prosperous world is diminished."

A makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer, who died after being struck by a car driven by an alleged white supremacist on Aug. 12, 2017. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

3. "In homes across the nation, children are asking their parents what this means."

The president is supposed to be someone we can all look up to, who we can count on to represent all Americans. Trump's first 200 days in office show that his loyalties lie with his core base of supporters and no one else. Romney's point touches on the fact that the divisiveness being forged by Trump's statements could do lasting harm to the country.

"Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims are as much a part of America as whites and Protestants. But today they wonder. Where might this lead? To bitterness and tears, or perhaps to anger and violence?"

White nationalist Richard Spencer is escorted by police out of the Aug. 12, 2017, rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

4. "He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize."

If there's one thing Trump doesn't do well, it's apologize. In fact, he views apologies as a sign of weakness, instead choosing to double- and triple-down on his flubs. Romney is right: Trump should apologize; he won't though.

"[T]here is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute."

5. "This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children."

It's hard to overstate the importance of this situation. Trump has essentially said there is some equivalency between white supremacists and people who fight against racism. That's more than just despicable, it's dangerous. It's on him to make this right and not just for the sake of his own political career, but for the sake of the country he purports to lead.

"They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country."

People hold a vigil outside the White House on Aug. 13, 2017. Photo by Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images.


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Friday August 18, 2017 @ 07:29:14 AM mt

pOne simple ask led to this nonprofit saving 7 million pounds of food for people in need.p



'We knew nothing about charities; we just saw all this food getting left behind.'


When you were moving out of your college dorm, do you remember how much food you ended up throwing away?

Those unopened packages of ramen noodles, mini boxes of cereal, and buttered popcorn packs were all perfectly good food and they went to waste just because you knew you wouldn't be eating them.

If there had been an easily accessible collection box for those items, you probably would've donated them instead, right?

After all, it's just as easy to give them away as it is to throw them away, and you'd actually be helping hungry people get fed instead of wasting food.

That was New Jersey native Adam Lowy's theory and why he decided to do something about it.

Adam Lowy, founder of Move for Hunger. Photo via Move for Hunger.

Lowy's family owns a moving company in New Jersey, and it bothered him how much food he saw getting thrown out when people move. So he started asking customers if they'd prefer to donate their food instead.

Little did he know just how eager they'd be to give and get involved.

In one month, with the help of his father's moving company, Lowy collected 300 pounds of food for the local food bank.

This grassroots effort was the beginning of Move for Hunger Lowy's now-thriving nonprofit.

And before long, the idea took off in a huge way.

"We knew nothing about charities; we just saw all this food getting left behind," he explains.

Look at all that food waste. Photo via Starr/Flickr.

Food waste is an enormous, largely unrecognized problem in America. So is hunger.

About 40% of the food grown and processed in this country is thrown away. Meanwhile, 42 million Americans have trouble finding their next meal.

If just 15% of our wasted food were saved, 25 million Americans wouldn't go hungry.

MFH's mission is to make a sizable dent in that percentage.

And so far, they're right on target.

Photo via Move for Hunger.

Just this past spring, they launched their Move Out for Hunger campaign with their partner companies, Doorsteps and the Food Recovery Network. It involved collecting food on college campuses on dorm move-out days in exchange for free moving boxes.

While MFH had the flagship initiative and the connection to moving trucks, Doorsteps and Food Recovery Network had volunteers on the ground at various colleges.

Despite some initial hiccups, the endeavor was incredibly successful. Together, they were able to give 5,000 pounds of food 4,000 meals to people in need.

Students volunteering for MFH. Photo via Move for Hunger.

Since Lowy's first local community outreach in 2009, MFH's impact has skyrocketed.

The organization teamed up with over 750 moving companies across the country to help put an end to food waste not just on campuses, but everywhere.

By 2012, they had collected 1 million pounds of food, and in 2016, they broke 7 million. That's one hefty contribution to feed America's hungry.

And Lowy doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon.

One thing he's learned since the organization's inception is that charities should exist first and foremost to help solve problems. Even if the road is long and arduous, solving the hunger problem in America is always on MFH's horizon.

On a more basic level, all those ramen packages that students squirrel away in their dorms will finally serve a greater purpose.

Check out a video on Move for Hunger here:

These movers were tired of seeing hundreds of pounds of good food being wasted. So they took action.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Clarification 8/8/2017: This post was updated to clarify how Move for Hunger originally began.


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Friday August 18, 2017 @ 07:29:14 AM mt

pThis dad perfectly nails fatherhood with his hilarious comics.p




Jonathan Jui has hopped around a lot in his life.

He was born in London, raised in Cincinnati, schooled in New England, and employed in Asia, all before moving back to London again to settle down with a woman he calls "my middle-school sweetheart."

The couple gave birth to their son, Milo, last year. He's 18 months old now. Cue the all-too-familiar journey: Diapers. Vomit. Sleep deprivation. Laughter. Joy. Poop. Repeat.

Jui doesn't have much of an artistic background outside of a little drawing in elementary school, but he wanted to find a way to hold on to the hilarious, painful, and even mundane moments that began to fill his days.

So he started drawing.

Jui creates cartoons to "capture those inopportune moments you don't want to forget."

When it's not a good time to stop and take a picture, or writing about the moment later feels forced, Jui draws it.

All images by Jonathan Jui, used with permission.

He began sharing the drawings on Instagram, not really expecting anyone to take notice.

But over the months, his following ballooned by thousands and thousands.

He says he tries to find humor in every situation and express that in his art.

"I want to feel like I'm part of a broader group of people who are suffering to some degree under the weight of parenthood," he says. "It's just trying to find the silver linings."

He tackles the obvious: Potty-training gone wrong. The mind-numbing routine. And the sweet little moments that make it all worth it.

In one post, he laments the size and smell of his young son's bowel movements. In another, Jui pokes fun at his own inability to cook the most basic dishes.

It's raw and hilarious honesty. No wonder people have responded so strongly.

"I like the fact that it will usually make another person smile or have a nice chuckle," Jui says of his work. "It makes you feel like you're not alone."

He also says it's a subtle taste of what's to come for all his friends and others who don't have kids yet.

"I really enjoy when people say, 'This is me right now.'"

"That's exactly what I'm trying to go for," he says.


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Friday August 18, 2017 @ 07:29:14 AM mt

pShould we be surprised by the most profitable film of 2017 thus farp




Flying below the high-profile summer superhero flicks and the latest blockbusters brought to you by Disney, one unexpected film is hanging on to the noteworthy title of "most profitable film of 2017" (thus far):

Jordan Peele's "Get Out."

The writer and director of "Get Out," Jordan Peele. Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

"Get Out" wasn't just critically acclaimed and beloved by audiences it also raked in cash at the box office.

The horror flick, which brilliantly explores the nuances of race relations and racism in today's America, brought in over $250 million in ticket sales around the world, a number that far surpasses its production budget of a mere $4.5 million.

The return on investment for "Get Out" stands at a staggering 630%, according to The Wrap, which considered overall budgets and box office results of the top-grossing films of 2017 for its analysis.

Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya, who star in "Get Out." Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

To be clear, "Get Out" isn't the top-grossing film of 2017. That honor currently goes to "Beauty and the Beast," which brought in $1.26 billion worldwide.

"Beauty and the Beast," however, was created on a $160 million production budget and included a costly global marketing campaign. While its return on investment is still impressive, exceeding 400%, it pales in comparison to "Get Out."

Should we be surprised by "Get Out" standing at No. 1?

On one hand, any film that can pull in those box office numbers from a budget that small deserves a round of applause.

On the other hand, the historic success of "Get Out" comes amid growing demands that Hollywood recognize and respond to the impressive financial feats of films featuring stories about people other than straight, white men.

Stars of 2016's "Hidden Figures" (left to right) Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Mone. Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Hollywood tends to see blockbusters led by women, people of color, and other marginalized groups as rare exceptions to the rule.

But in the past few years, evidence has shown that's not really the case at all.

"Every time theres a success [of a film with a mostly black cast], it gets swept under the rug, Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgates Codeblack Films, told The Washington Post in regards to 2016's "Moonlight." "It's almost like there's an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly.

Last year, "Hidden Figures" a film predominantly led by black women was the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards. In July, "Girls Trip" (again, starring all women of color), exceeded box office expectations; it has pulled in over $76 million globally to date.

Surpassing "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" as this summer's highest-grossing blockbuster, "Wonder Woman" is nearing the $800 million mark in global box office sales.

Gal Gadot, star of "Wonder Woman." Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Audiences are hungrier than ever to see diverse stories on the big screen. Why isn't Hollywood listening?

A new report by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism paints a bleak picture in terms of media representation across the highest-grossing films of 2016.

The report, which analyzed the demographics of speaking and named characters in the year's 100 top films, found that marginalized groups particularly women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ people continue to be underrepresented. For Hispanic women and people with disabilities, the numbers were downright abysmal.

It's not so much that audiences are choosing not to see films featuring these characters it's more that those movies aren't being produced in the first place by a film industry overwhelmingly run by older straight white men.

"Diversity is not just something that just happens, Katherine Pieper, a research scientist at USC, told the Associated Press of the study. Its something you have to think about and aim for as an objective and achieve."

The data suggests studio execs would be wise to get out of their boxes and start making films for a more diverse audience. It'd pay off in more ways than one.


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Friday August 18, 2017 @ 07:29:13 AM mt

pHe was ready to return to a life of crime. Dave's Killer Bread offered an alternative.p



"It's the people who have been given that second chance who work all that much harder to make something of it."


Andre Eddings life was beginning to look dire.

After being caught and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, Eddings was in jail with a felony record. I remember thinking to myself, 'Im a failure now,' he says. I will never amount to anything. Im just throwing my life away.

As a kid, Eddings had shown a lot of promise. Growing up with parents who struggled to get by, he was dedicated to creating a life for himself. I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted to become successful. I wanted a good job making a livable wage, he says.

Photo courtesy of Andre Eddings.

He kept a 3.8 GPA through high school, then continued to perform well academically as he went on to college and played football. So what happened? Watch:

It was only after a football injury that things went awry.

The doctor basically gave me an ultimatum, he says. Keep playing and potentially injure myself for the rest of my life, or give it up and save my body.

Eddings chose to give up his athletic career and ended up dropping out of college and moving home to work.

With no degree and stuck in a dead-end job, Eddings looked to others to find a path toward what he considered success. It didnt take long for him to start dealing drugs and to get caught.

When he got out of jail, Eddings wanted nothing more than a path back onto the straight and narrow.

Photo courtesy of Andre Eddings.

But with a felony on his record, that seemed impossible.

I went to multiple interviews where Id interview pretty well and theyd offer me the position, he says. But once employers discovered his record, the job offers would disappear.

With few employment options and his restitution and court fees piling up, Eddings felt backed into a corner. I was going to go back to selling drugs, he says. What he really wanted was a solid job making an honest days work, but with his past preventing him from moving forward, he felt he had no choice.

Thats when he got a call that changed everything.

"I wouldnt give up quite yet," said an encouraging friend who knew a better way.

Daves Killer Bread, an organic bakery in Milwaukie, Oregon, doesn't disqualify candidates based on their criminal backgrounds.

Eddings happily took a position low on the totem pole, eager to forge a path forward for himself. I was nervous. I was a little scared. I didnt really know what to expect. Id never worked in production before, let alone a bakery, he says.

He neednt have worried: It clicked right away.

Photo courtesy of Dave's Killer Bread.

Two and a half years later, he's risen through the ranks and is a production assistant supervisor with aspirations to continue working his way up the company.

"My life has made a complete 180-degree turnaround," he says.

"Now I have two beautiful children, Im engaged, Im renting a house with the hopes of buying a house here in the future." He's also a mentor to other employees with similar backgrounds at Dave's Killer Bread.

Photo courtesy of Andre Eddings.

"I help other people coming into the company who have similar backgrounds to me, you know, talking to them, letting them know it can be done if you want it," he says. "With this company here, you can make something of yourself."

Dave's believes so strongly in the power of second chances because Dave himself co-founded the business after finishing a prison stint.

"The only reason employers dont want to take on people with a background or who are convicted felons is solely out of fear," Eddings says.

For him, it's worth the risk. "You never know what you can get out of a person who is ready to make the change, wants to do better for themselves, wants to become somebody."

Photo courtesy of Dave's Killer Bread.

The hiring policy at Dave's isn't just informed by kindness it's also good business strategy.

"In a tight job market, where motivated and engaged employees are hard to find, we have found that individuals who are given a second chance are highly appreciative of the opportunity given to them and are eager to learn and grow professionally," says Gretchen Peterson, the director of human resources at DKB.

Photo courtesy of Dave's Killer Bread.

"The second-chance partners we employ come to work grateful and happy to have a job every day what employer doesnt want to see that in their workforce?" she says.

If more companies hired like Dave's Killer Bread does, one desperate history after the next wouldn't have to repeat itself.

Peterson says she thinks H.R. professionals sometimes fool themselves into thinking they are getting a "better quality" candidate through the background check process.

"In my experience, there are just as many people with no background who end up being terminated for theft or fraud. In fact, it's the people who have been given that second chance who work all that much harder to make something of it."

Photo courtesy of Andre Eddings.


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Thursday August 17, 2017 @ 07:49:42 PM mt

pThis exciting 4-year trial could be a huge breakthrough in peanut allergies.p




Peanuts: Delicious for some of us. Deadly for others.

Peanut allergies, one of the most common food allergies in the world, are extremely dangerous especially for kids, who are more likely to suffer serious reactions than adults. Even exposure to trace amounts of peanut or peanut oil can pose a major risk, which means a lot of kids have to steer clear of more than just PB&J even foods like icing, potato chips, and some fried foods can contain elements of peanuts. It can be hard for people with these severe allergies to live a normal life.

In fact, peanut allergies have been on the rise for years. That's why a lot of schools in the United States don't even allow things like peanuts or peanut butter inside the school anymore, let alone at a shared lunch table.

While a lot of us have been arguing over whether that's fair (or helpful), scientists have been working hard to figure out how to better treat this and other food allergies or how to stop them completely.

The good news? Scientists Down Under just had a major breakthrough in treating peanut allergies.

Researchers at Australia's Murdoch Children's Research Institute used something called immunotherapy on a small group of kids with peanut allergies.

In immunotherapy, patients can be intentionally exposed in deliberate, controlled doses of something (in this case, peanuts) that creates an autoimmune response. Over time and with the right treatment, the body can sometimes learn to adjust the way it reacts to the allergen.

In other words, these researchers fought peanuts with peanuts.

At the end of the 18-month trial, which originally took place in 2013, over 80% of the kids who received the treatment had become tolerant to peanuts. Four years later, most of them are still tolerant and even eating peanuts regularly.

The way I see it is that we had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanuts in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying a lot of anxiety with that," lead research Mimi Tang told The Guardian. "At the end of treatment and even four years later, many of these children who had benefited from our probiotic peanut therapy could now live like a child who didnt have a peanut allergy.

Before anyone goes and starts small-dosing their children with peanuts, remember: There's a lot of work still to be done.

This was a small trial and first needs to be replicated on a larger scale. Even then, it may be a while before the therapy becomes a logical treatment option for kids with peanut allergies.

But this is still a huge win for science and must come as a ray of hope for many parents out there. With the number of kids in the United States with peanut allergies closing in on 2%, we're long overdue for some good news for the families affected by this.

Nutter Butters all around!


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Thursday August 17, 2017 @ 04:11:37 PM mt

pGet greener for summer by trying as many of these 17 challenges as you can.p



Warning: Acting on these tips may be incredibly fun and result in a cleaner conscience.


By now, even your grandma knows that solar panels can save you money and a bike ride to work is a greener option than a Hummer.

If you really want to help save the planet, then youre probably hungry for new and creative tips you can actually do to make a real difference.

While many of us may not be ready to turn your home into a zero-waste household that only does laundry once a year, most of us are looking for some pretty awesome life-hacks to do good, all while reducing clutter, saving money, and pushing our families to get a bit more creative.

Sustainability feels more important now than it's ever been, so we're getting you these tips with no time to waste.

Image via iStock.

We spoke with Jeff Becerra of Stop Waste, an Oakland-based public agency that makes sustainability easier for residents and businesses and came up with 17 ways you can totally nail going green:

The first five are food-based because that's one of the largest contributors to waste in the U.S. over 60 million tons of produce per year and the rest ... well, youll see.

1. Organize your refrigerator to ensure perishables get eaten first.

And feel free to use freeze-dried foods for trail snacks, flavor powders, and more. They have a longer shelf-life. If youve got the funds to drop a few thousand dollars on a freeze-dryer yourself, go nuts. In the meantime, this option is becoming mainstream enough to be able to pick up at your local grocery store.

2. Freeze overripe fruits and vegetables, leftover meats, and discarded bones for simple, tasty, and nutritious snacks and staples.

Think smoothies, bone and veggie stocks, and frozen veggies as healthy additions to hot meals.

3. Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often.

Image via iStock.

This way, you waste less and enjoy fresher ingredients.

A lot of people are shocked when they learn how much food ends up in landfills every year, says Becerra. Its not just the landfills and how those can affect your soil and water. Its also the methane that organic material releases into the air as it decomposes.

4. Shop your fridge and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have on hand.

Also, avoid marketing gimmicks that encourage you to buy more than you need. If you get 10 items for $10 and only eat five before they spoil, thats $5 wasted.

Image via iStock.

5. Make A Smarter List

Plan ahead for meals, not just individual items you think youll need. For example, will you or your family members eat out this week? How many times? What do you need to make the remaining meals, and how much of it? Be realistic. If youre up for taking the plunge, buy food package-free.

Image via iStock.

6. Take a stand with your takeout.

Some online services like Grubhub, Seamless, or restaurant websites will give you the option to skip the plastic utensils and paper plates, or they leave room for comments or special notes where you can make that request. Also, take note of any eateries that use sustainable packaging.

Green Mountain Energy also offers unique tips on their blog that are pretty innovative.

7. Win with weatherization.

On average, homes that are 10 years or older will have duct leakage of 27% or more. That means youre likely paying to cool your attic. Sealing your ducts and insulating your home can cut your energy bills by up to 35%.

8. Get your floors green.

We don't mean paint them (although, feel free, it's your domicile). Next time youre considering getting new floors, look for products that use plant-based adhesives and are free of urea-formaldehyde (visible on the ingredient list, takes some practice to say). Sustainable options include cork, bamboo, engineered wood, or other natural materials.

9. Round up binders, scissors, highlighters, crayons and pencils that work, but arent needed anymore.

Then, check in with area schools to see if the supplies could be used in the classrooms.

10. Know that your old pen could become art.

The Pen Guy collects ball point pens, dry erase markers, felt tip pens, mechanical pencils and more. Then, the writing instruments are repurposed into recycled pen art.

11. Minimize idling.

It's equally important to stay green outside of the house, too: when parked, turn off your car if you will be waiting more than 10 seconds, so you arent wasting fuel.

Image via iStock

12. Drive nicely.

Aggressive driving, such as speeding up and braking sharply, can burn more gas.

13. Beautify your home with rare, one-of-a-kind, repurposed, and upcycled decor.

Keep yourself (or your kids) occupied, teach your students an array of subjects with hands-on activities, or make it a date night: use found, salvaged, and recyclable materials, make something new and beautiful. Creative reuse doesnt just help the environment, it engages our minds and can even help us connect and collaborate with others.

14. Dont ditch that dress: donate it.

If you ever wonder, Who could possibly use this? the answer is almost always someone. Your old stuff is more valuable than you think. Clothing donations create free or low-cost options for families in need. Even our most tattered belongings can enjoy the glory of a second life as building and manufacturing materials, and more.

15. Set goals and make stepping up your recycling and composting a game.

Image via iStock.

Conscious Carnival has appeared throughout the United States at major music festivals and tours, universities and schools, local fairs and farmers markets, and professional sports events. Take a page out of Conscious Carnivals book and turn sustainability into a challenge in your homes and workplaces. How quickly do you fill your trash can? Now consider some easy ways to fill it more slowly, and see immediate results.

16. Take a page from Zero Waste Girl Lauren Singer, who has filled a small cup with the amount of waste she produced in a year.

And its OK to just take one page.Instead of overhauling your entire life and spending it refilling mason jars and making your own soap, maybe start with her small hacks, like declining straws in your drinks and choosing email over paper receipts.

Image via iStock.

17. Track down your local drug-take-back program.

From expired or irrelevant prescriptions to old bottles of the over-the-counter stuff, drugs in landfills can mean trouble for the environment. More cities and towns are instating this program at least once a year, so do some Googling!

Pretty painless, right? Taking on any of the above wont just feel good, but may even be fun and keep your wallet fatter.

If you like a challenge, we dare you to check one of these items off the list for the next two weeks but if you end up making one small lifestyle change or trying just one of these on for size this month, youre still awesome in our eyes. Dont forget to pass it on: After all, a digital footprint is carbon-free.

Green Mountain Energy is just one company that's been walking the eco-friendly walk for over 20 years...get familiar with them if you want to take a stroll down greener-living lane.


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Thursday August 17, 2017 @ 04:11:37 PM mt

pEven this Confederate general thought monuments were a bad idea. His reasons make sense.p



He thought they would continue to divide the country. He was right.


On Aug. 17, Donald Trump started the day as only he could: with a full-throated defense of the Confederacy.

Responding to renewed calls to remove Confederate monuments around the country, Trump decried action, defending them on aesthetic (yes, the man who plates everything in gold and slaps his name on it has thoughts on style) and historical grounds. Sigh.

While Trump might not take advice from those in the #FakeNewsMedia, there's one person he should hear on this issue: Robert E. Lee.

Yes, that Robert E. Lee. Confederate Gen. Robert. E. Lee.

As it turns out, he had some thoughts on whether these monuments should be built in the first place. In short, he was against it.

Charlottesville, Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue was the center of a recent march by white supremacists. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

In a December 1886 letter, Lee addressed a proposal to build a monument in his honor:

"As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated; my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour. All I think that can now be done, is to aid our noble & generous women in their efforts to protect the graves & mark the last resting places of those who have fallen, & wait for better times."

In other words, monuments celebrating the Confederacy would only serve to further divide the newly-united United States and slow down any progress that had been made. Given that we're still arguing about monuments and flags more than 150 years since the war ended, Lee seems to have been absolutely right.

We don't need monuments celebrating the Confederacy to remember the Civil War, and nobody is erasing history by suggesting they be removed.

Some may argue that monuments glorifying Confederate soldiers are necessary if we want to avoid making the same mistakes and going to war with ourselves once again. That simply doesn't make sense.

Germany has managed to remember the Nazis without erecting statues of Hitler throughout the country. In fact, the country made a concentrated effort to eliminate anything that could become the center of a neo-Nazi pilgrimage. They went so far as to turn the place where Hitler died into a parking lot.

Moreover, it's worth noting that the monuments themselves are not historical artifacts. Many are relatively recent creations. In fact, 32 Confederate monuments in the U.S. were build in just the past 17 years, several of which were in Union states. Going back further, many of these monuments were built as anti-black backlash to the civil rights movement. The same goes for Southern affinity toward the Confederate battle flag, which only rose in the 1950s and 1960s, again, in protest of the civil rights movement.

Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag have less to do with the actual Civil War and much more to do with opposition to civil rights.

A 1969 photo of the carving at Stone Mountain, featuring Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Stone Mountain was the birthplace of the second Ku Klux Klan in 1915. The carving wasn't completed until 1972. Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images.

If the goal truly is to avoid another Civil War, the answer isn't to pepper the country with statues, but to stop teaching a sanitized version of history.

The Civil War was fought over slavery. Period.

Take it from Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, who in March 1861, said slavery and "the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization" was "the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution," referring to the war. He added, "[T]he negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

It seems straightforward, and yet a 2015 Marist poll found that just 53% of Americans agree that slavery was the driving force behind the Civil War, with 41% disagreeing with that statement. Some may argue that it was really about "states' rights," but "states' rights" to do what exactly? To own slaves.

We do need to stop sanitizing our history, and that must begin with acknowledging that our country has an ugly past. Lee doesn't need your monuments, and he will never, ever be forgotten.

Lets put this argument to rest and commit to better education, not ahistorical glorification.


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Thursday August 17, 2017 @ 04:11:36 PM mt

pA town came up with a brilliant hilarious way to troll neo-Nazi marchers. Take note.p




On Aug. 16, 2017, author and activist Cleve Jones tweeted about a small community that figured out exactly how to handle its neo-Nazi problem.

"In a small town in Germany where the Nazi leader Rudolf Hess was born, every year right wing [activists] have been showing up to commemorate his birthday," the complementing copy to his viral tweet began.

Neo-Nazi marchers carry a sign that reads, "Rudolf Hess Unforgotten" in 2003. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Local counter-protesters, the tweet goes on to explain, failed to do much in stopping the bigotry that gathered in Wunsiedel every November. But back in 2014, the town came up with an interesting strategy to deal with the marchers: Instead of trying to stop neo-Nazis from coming to town, why not use their presence for good?

So Wunsiedel decided to turn its unwelcome neo-Nazi event into a walkathon, of sorts.

Except they didn't actually tell the neo-Nazis about their plan.

Neo-Nazis marching in Wunsiedel in 2003. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Under the guidance of advocacy group Rechts gegen Rechts (Right Against Right), businesses and locals came together to sponsor Germany's "most involuntary walkathon," The Guardian reported.

For every meter the neo-Nazis walked in their annual march, 10 Euros went to Exit Deutschland a European organization that fights extremism. So, in essence, neo-Nazis showed up to march against their own cause.

That wasn't the end of it, though. Walkathon organizations epically trolled the neo-Nazis while they marched, too.

Wunsiedel locals placed encouraging signs along the march route like this one, which reads, "If only the fhrer knew!"

Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube.

They marked the pavement with reminders of how much money the neo-Nazis were raising against their own cause.

Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube.

They even provided food to the marchers for all their hard work walking for a good cause.

Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube.

Of course, when all was said and done, they made sure to inform the neo-Nazis of all money raised to fight back against Nazism: 10,000 Euros ($12,000).

Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube.

"10,000 Euros for the neo-Nazi opt-out initiative Exit Deutschland," a narrator explains in a video by Rechts gegen Rechts from 2014. "10,000 Euros to help right-wing extremists safely defect from the right-wing extremist scene personally collected by right-wing extremists."

Wunsiedel's walkathon was so successful, The Huffington Post noted, other German towns with neo-Nazi problems planned similar events.

The story of Wunsiedel's epic walkathon isn't new. But it's telling that Jones' tweet recapping the march just went viral three years after.

On Aug. 12, 2017, an alleged white supremacist plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. He was one of many who descended upon Charlottesville to rally in support of a soon-to-be removed Confederate monument.

In the aftermath, President Trump defended the white supremacists and seemingly placed equal blame on "alt-left" protesters. Even more troubling: Neo-Nazi groups are raising more money and planning more rallies across the U.S., McClatchy reported.

But as the story of Wunsiedel illustrates, modern-day bigotry is nothing new. A mass gathering of white supremacists chanting racist slurs, lit torches in hand, may be a haunting scene to see in America today, but it's worth remembering that far more of us are standing on the side of love than on the side of ignorance and hate. And if we defeated the Nazis in 1945, we can do it again today.

Watch footage from the 2014 walkathon in Wunsiedel below:


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Thursday August 17, 2017 @ 04:11:36 PM mt

pIn 1997 they were tree-hugging hippies. Today they're renewable energy pros.p




The year was 1997.

You woke up to an actual alarm clock, which was entirely different from your camera, your telephone, and your computer that is, if you had a computer. The crowning achievement of the technology world was Tickle Me Elmo. It was a different time.

And somewhere in central Vermont, a group of flannel-wearing, sandal-footed, long-haired tree-huggers were quietly bringing about the nativity of the green energy industry.

Nearly 20 years ago, renewable energy awareness was near zero.

In 1997, renewable energy wasnt a global phenomenon waiting to happen. Though it had potential, it was so far only important to a select few.

All images via iStock.

It took pioneering minds to identify and commit torenewability as the future of power and energy.

Green Mountain Energy Company's founders didnt think they'd be starting a movement. Like Henry Ford and his Model T or the people who put peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, Green Mountain simply realized that they could bring people something that was needed. Then they got to work.

There was an opportunity to be a green energy pioneer, says general manager Mark Parsons. The company's founders knew there were reliable ways to power peoples' homes that were also gentle on the Earth. It became our mission to change the way power is made.

In its first year, Green Mountain started bringing people residential electricity powered by wind and solar both renewable sources.

They were facing a tough crowd: It wasnt easy to convince the people of the '90s that renewable energy was necessary or reliable.

People were skeptical, says Parsons. Traditional fossil fuels were widely accepted, and the future of those resources wasn't questioned like it is today.

Their burgeoning movement lacked public support. Still, Green Mountain put its trust in the basic idea that if they could create a better, more environmentally responsible product, people would choose it.

And while traditional fossil fuel resources are limited, the supply of green energy is endless. The sun will shine and the wind will always blow, says Parsons. All Green Mountain had to do was help people realize they had a choice to harness that sunlight and wind.

One home at a time, Green Mountain built its business on early adopters willing to take a stance and decide to go green with their electricity.

Switching your electricity isn't a flashy ordeal, with hashtags and celebrity endorsements and a free water bottle emblazoned with a leaf. It's just like flipping a switch and choosing to get power from a more renewable source.

It might not seem like much, but it is. 20 years later, all of those little improvement projects in thousands of homes have added up both for the company and for the world. According to Green Mountain, as of 2016, their customers had prevented more than 54.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide production by switching to green energy the equivalent of planting 6.4 million trees or turning the lights out in 49.8 million houses for a year.

These days, green energy isn't just a resource it's a whole movement.

After two decades in the industry, Green Mountain is an expert on where green energy is going. And they're optimistic about the future.

"The green conversation has gotten easier since 1997 as more information has come available," says Parsons. As society has learned more about renewable energy, switching to cleaner electricity has become a more popular choice.

"People are more knowledgeable and aware that their actions can make a difference," explains Parsons. And that's good news not just for Green Mountain, but for the world.

Today, you don't have to be a genius inventor to figure out that green energy is the future and to get on board.

In 1997, those Green Mountain hippies from Vermont had to think way out of the box to find the path to their success today. But in 2017, renewable energy is just plain common sense.

"Being green feels good," says Parsons. "It's exciting to be a part of that change as we all aim to help protect the planet through making the right, small choices."


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