Tehran, Iran (CNN)Sporting earbuds and sagging backpacks, students lounge on patches of grass, shaded by trees from the harsh sun. They sit in the library, hunched over laptops, massaging their temples, cramming for tests or bashing out lines of code.
At Forest Park Senior High School in Baltimore, there are few resources to spare. Students can barely afford pens and paper.
That’s why Brooke Grams, a high school teacher who specializes in journalism, yearbook and library science, turns to DonorsChoose.org for help. On the DonorsChoose site individuals can donate directly to classrooms. Grams has funded several projects this way, including a school newsletter, titled “A Walk In The Park.”
Grams started using DonorsChoose about six years ago, when she had the idea for the newsletter. She needed paper to print the publication, but her school didn’t have any extra.
“We have no budget for anything,” said Grams, who previously worked as an attorney before switching to education. “Students come to school without pencils and papers. Forty percent of our students live in group homes.”
Twenty-five of Grams’ classroom projects have been funded through DonorsChoose. The site’s community has helped Grams to get her students cameras, tripods, pens, notebooks, clipboards and multicultural books. The supplies have enriched her journalism and yearbook classes, providing an outlet for students’ voices during a time when students needed desperately to express themselves.
Grams’ school is located about a mile and a half away from the mall where city riots broke out in April after Baltimore resident Freddie Gray died in police custody. In the days following the uprising, Grams and some of her students and fellow teachers took to the streets to clean up the debris. In the fall, she took her students to an art exhibit showcasing images from the uprising, and had her students write about how they made them feel.
“The images from the Baltimore events make me feel sad, because I never thought things like that would really happen,” wrote one 10th-grade student. “I thought those days were over, but it was very uncomfortable, especially over social media and the news coverage. Knowing there were fires burning right up the road was really hurtful. I thought the world was about to end, I just kept walking around the house nervous.”
“The riots changed my life because they made me realize that certain people do not care about us. I think it is crazy that some people can just look at you and claim you’re no good,” wrote a ninth-grader.
Grams’ student newsletter tries to directly combat these negative images, and focus on community successes and school pride.
“They have so much hope and promise,” says Grams of her students. “I really love the kids.”
This post is part of #BestSchoolDay, a national fundraising movement to ensure students have the supplies and opportunities they need to succeed. Visit here to see a map of all the classroom projects being funded and join more than 50 actors, athletes, entrepreneurs and philanthropists in supporting classrooms across America. To join the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #BestSchoolDay.
European Union defense ministers have been taking part in a simulated cyber attack exercise today for the first time to practice strategic decision making and crisis-management under pressure of a (mock) cyber-attack against the bloc’s military structures.
The two-hour war game exercise, named EU CYBRID 2017, was held in Tallinn, Estonia, where the EU defense ministers are meeting for informal discussions on a range of security issues.
Cyber attacks targeting and damage civilian infrastructure, such as powerplants, was not included in this particular exercise. Although recent malware activity, such as the Wannacry ransomeware attacks, which locked some UK hospitals out of their IT systems and led to operations being canceled, likely contributed to the decision to run the exercise, said a minister of defense spokeswoman.
She said the fictitious scenario focused on threats to military operations in the Mediterranean.
According to Reuters the exercise involved the EU’s naval mission in the Mediterranean being sabotaged by hackers who cripple the mission’s command on land while also launching a campaign on social media to discredit EU operations and provoke protests.
The exercise was generally aimed at giving ministers the chance to practice situational awareness, crisis management and strategic communication between member states — with the overarching goal of moving towards establishing a policy guideline for the European Union to adopt in the event of such a cyber war situation.
Increasing defense ministers’ awareness about the potential scale of risks posed by cyber attacks appears to be an early take-away from the exercise, according to the spokeswoman.
“What we’ve seen is that the ministers were very interested in it, and it gave them an overview of the threat and what could happen actually because the scenario was built up in such a way that the situation is escalating,” she told us. “In the beginning it might seem like a small thing… It’s pretty hard to assess how big a deal it is. They got an overview that it can escalate to a very, very serious business and that can attack also the military operations.”
“The exercise wasn’t about finding a very concrete, one solution. It was just to get the [understanding] to watch this road,” she added, emphasizing that it’s the first time such an exercise has taken place with defense ministers — and describing it as the “first step” on the road towards a better “common understanding”, which is the necessary base for the EU being able to establish guidelines to respond to (real) cyber attacks against its military structures.
Commenting on the exercise in a statement, Estonia’s minister for defense, Jüri Luik, added: “The cyber world and cyber threats do not recognise national boundaries or the barriers between organisations. It is therefore important to perform joint exercises of this kind, between European Union member states as well as the EU and NATO. We must exchange information and have a common understanding, in order to ensure improved preparedness for dealing with cyber threats.”Continue reading
When LaVonte Dell was pulled over by the police, he had no idea that the events that were about to unfold would make him a viral sensation. It all started when Officer Joshua Scaglione of the Westland, Michigan Police Department stopped Dell’s vehicle to warn him about the tinted windows on his car. Upon further inspection, Scaglione noticed Dell’s 3-year-old daughter sitting in the backseat without a car seat. Out of fear, Dell explained that he was going through a very rough patch in his life and couldn’t afford a car seat for his daughter. He expected the worst, but that’s when things took an unexpected turn.
Touched by Dell’s story, Scaglione decided to pardon him from getting a ticket. He even bought him a new car seat for his daughter. It was a small gesture, but one that had a profound effect on Dell. He immediately went to social media to share his story with his friends, and it quickly went viral. ABC News went to the location where it all happened to get an interview from Officer Scaglione and LaVonte Dell, and both were amazed by how a small random act of kindness brought them so much attention.
When asked about the whole situation, LaVonte Dell told reporters “Don’t judge a book by its cover. You’ll be surprised what comes out of it.” Officer Scaglione shared the same sentiment, and he hopes this video will help change the negative perception surrounding police officers in the country.
Be sure to SHARE this amazing story with your family and friends.
H/T: ABC NewsContinue reading
Indie pop singer-songwriter Natti Vogel hopes his new video, “Brown Rice,” will encourage viewers to “empathize with some real, modern-day pitfalls” of queer life.
Vogel’s video, viewed above, is at once steamy and melancholic. It follows a gay character (played by Matthew Wilkas) who, on the surface, has it all: chiseled good looks, an active lifestyle and a lively social media presence.
Far from the gaze of Instagram, however, Wilkas’ character struggles to fill an emotional void. He finds a temporary escape from his depression through a night of drugs and casual sex with a stranger (adult film star Tegan Zayne). At the video’s conclusion, he locks eyes with Vogel in an empty Manhattan nightclub, and the two men share a moment of solidarity.
Released March 29, “Brown Rice” arrives at a prolific time for Vogel who, until now, had been known primarily on New York’s indie music circuit, with performances at the Brooklyn Museum and National Sawdust. The video is the third to be released from his six-track debut EP, “Serving Body,” and had racked up more than 40,000 views as of Sunday afternoon. (By comparison, the clip for the catchy second single, “I Don’t Want To Find The One,” had received just over 1,100.)
Much of the buzz on “Brown Rice” has focused on Wilkas’ presence. The actor, whose credits include 2012′s “Gayby” and HBO’s “Looking,” has become a media fixture in recent weeks due in part to his relationship with Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy. Footage of the two men sharing a kiss during the Winter Games made global headlines and received praise from LGBTQ rights advocates.
Though grateful that Wilkas’ rising star has boosted interest in “Brown Rice,” Vogel is hopeful that discerning viewers will see the video as an “unfiltered and uncompressed” portrait of the queer “emotional experience” rather than simply a serving of beefcake.
“I want the general audience to feel the desperation of needing to be approved of and to question the lengths they are willing to go to gain that approval at the expense of whatever it is that might make them amazing to begin with,” the singer told HuffPost. He added that he wrote the song about “a super-athletic, super-arrogant ex I never felt good enough for.”
“I want audiences to actively yearn for whatever parts of themselves that they’ve been suppressing,” he said.
Calling Vogel’s song “haunting and gorgeous,” Foley aimed to paint a picture of “a man chasing a thrill or some sort of climax, but falling short of satisfaction.” Still, he stressed that “Brown Rice” isn’t meant to “judge a certain subset of gay men or cast a shameful light on certain actions.”
“I wanted everyone to be able to find themselves in this character, and question if what consumes them is leading them towards happiness,” he said. “Even the man who looks like he has it all with his 100K followers and free underwear feels inadequate … [Many] gay men are organizing their lives around an unachievable ideal that won’t take care of them in their old age.”
Ultimately, Vogel said he hopes to portray other aspects of queer life in his work, noting, “It’s important that we not tone our truth down for anyone.”
“I felt the story for years emotionally, as I think most of us gay men have, and we just had to express it artistically,” he said. “We’ve been pressured, threatened, forced, advised to do that our whole lives and it hasn’t worked ― it’s left us with a ton of anxiety and loneliness.”
Listen to “Serving Body” below.
When aGizmodoreported the tale of how the curators of Facebook’s Trending Topics section were suppressing the news from conservatively-tinged websites, the social media platform defended itself by claiming it was actually a friend to those on the right.
And now that U.S. Senate leaders have formally asked whether Facebook manipulates the news it shows its readers, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative leaders Wednesday to assure them that the company isn’t biased in the way it presents news.
While Zuckerberg is a well-known liberal, this kind of discussionwith politicians and with Facebook customersmakes perfect business sense. As Michael Jordan once famously said when asked why he wouldn’t publicly support a Democratic Senate candidate from North Carolina, “Republicans wear sneakers, too.”
According to the BBC, among those who traveled to Facebook headquarters were conservative commenter Glenn Beck, Fox News analyst and George W. Bush press secretary Dana Perino, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, and Donald Trump adviser Barry Bennett. The BBC also wrote that several invited conservatives declined the invitation.
It’s unclear at this point what was specifically discussed or if any relationships were mended, but it was clear that at least one conservative seemed apprehensive about the meeting before it began.
Politico reported the closed-door meeting lasted 90 minutes with Zuckerberg stressing that Facebook doesn’t censor for politics in its news feed and that the social media site wants to be an “open platform.”
It sounds like some of the attendees were skeptical, while others were more positive.
Either way, one thing seems clear: No matter what happens, Americans don’t want the government regulating Facebook.
H/T Oliver Darcy
Tales of George Michael’s philanthropy have come to light in the wake of his death – including how he funded a couple’s IVF treatment.
Former Deal or No Deal producer Richard Osman, who now co-presents Pointless, told how one contestant’s partner had said she needed 15,000 for treatment.
The next day the singer phoned in to donate the money, Osman tweeted.
Family and friends were touched “beyond words” by the “outpouring of love” from Michael’s fans, his publicist said.
Other stories of the star’s benevolence, including a 50,000 Sport Relief donation, have emerged on social media.
In a string of tweets celebrating the singer’s music and humour, comedian and author David Walliams tweeted that the star had supported his 2006 cross-Channel swim to the tune of 50,000.
Osman tweeted in the hours following news that Michael had been found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day, aged 53.
The presenter wrote: “A woman on ‘Deal Or No Deal’ told us she needed 15k for IVF treatment.
“George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the 15k.”
The beneficiary was later reported to be Lynette Gillard, 38, from Bolton, whose partner Steve Davies had appeared on the show in 2008.
She told the Telegraph: “For many years I wondered who would have been so generous and now I know. What more can I say other than ‘Thank you George’.”
At the time, in 2008, Mr Davies had told the Manchester Evening News: “Thank you is not enough. It restores your faith in humankind.
“All the bad news you read about and then something like this happens.”
Michael’s donations ranged in scope from major charities and appeals to individual acts of kindness.
The proceeds from sales of Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me, his 1991 live duet with Sir Elton John, were donated to HIV and children’s charities, including the Terence Higgins Trust.
It tweeted: “Thank you to George Michael for all he did for the LGBT community and to educate about HIV. RIP George.”
Wham! royalties from Last Christmas went to Ethiopian famine relief efforts, while the founder of the children’s helpline charity Childline, Dame Esther Rantzen, said Michael had donated proceeds from the song Jesus to a Child to the cause.
Children’s charities were also at the fore when he donated each year to Capital Radio’s appeal.
Former presenter Mick Brown tweeted: “Every Easter at Capital when I was on air with Chris Tarrant for help a London child, George would call in at 3.30pm with a 100,000 donation.”
He also suffered the loss of his mother to cancer in 1997 and in 2006 played a special, free concert at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London, for NHS nurses to thank them for their care.
And he gave his time to Macmillan Cancer Support as one of their ambassadors.
Alongside major charities, individuals on Twitter shared their accounts of his kindness.
Journalist Sali Hughes said: “I wrote in a piece ages ago about a celeb I’d worked with tipping a barmaid 5k because she was a student nurse in debt. Was George Michael.”
And Emilyne Mondo said he had worked anonymously at a homeless shelter where she volunteered.
Michael’s partner Fadi Fawaz, says he found the singer dead when he went to his home in Goring on Christmas Day.
He told the Telegraph: “We were supposed to be going for Christmas lunch.
“I went round there to wake him up and he was just gone, lying peacefully in bed. We don’t know what happened yet.
“George was looking forward to Christmas, and so was I. Now everything is ruined.
“I want people to remember him the way he was – he was a beautiful person.”
Meanwhile, Michael’s albums and singles have been climbing the charts since his death.
On iTunes, Ladies & Gentlemen became the number one album and Careless Whisper went to 12 in the singles chart.Continue reading
A writer for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” has found herself in hot water over a tweet she wrote about the death of former first lady Barbara Bush.
“RIP Barbara Bush, the only woman who was 92 for 30 years,” Jen Spyra tweeted shortly after news broke of Bush’s passing.
Spyra quickly garnered a negative reaction for the tweet from her followers.
“Wow! That is incredibly insensitive and rude,” one user wrote.
“Quite sickening!” another one said.
One person chimed in, “This is the tolerance and acceptance we hear so much about on the left. Way to lift up your fellow women.”
“A family just lost a love one and you have jokes about said person…let alone a joke that’s not funny. Then again, neither is Colbert!” a user tweeted.
A rep for the “Late Show” did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
It’s not the first time a CBS employee has raised eyebrows on social media.
Top CBS lawyer Hayley Geftman-Gold was axed in October 2017 after she said she was “not even sympathetic” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican.”
Geftman-Gold later issued an apology, but it was too late. CBS told Fox News at the time that the network let her go because she “violated the standards of our company.”Continue reading
(CNN)In a stunt that gives new meaning to the phrase traffic pile-up, a Chinese man has been fined for driving three trucks stacked together down a freeway, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
After a scare with her 15-month-old baby girl Chloe, mother of two, Danielle Kapetanovic, is warning other parents via social media about the dangers of Baby Orajel. While Danielle later learned that the FDA warns against giving babies the active ingredient in this seeming harmless teething treatment — like many, she was unaware of the extreme risk it posed until her daughter lie limp and blue before her. Seeing her baby at the brink of death propelled her to share her experience (as well as the similar experiences of others) on Facebook in order to warn other parents who also may be in the dark about this potentially deadly baby product.
Read her Facebook post in full below:
“⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ I don’t like to put personal information related to my kids out there but I feel compelled to warn other parents about the risk of using Baby Orajel ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️
Chloe is 15 months and teething. Someone I know recommended trying Baby Orajel on her gums to alleviate some of her discomfort. I bought the nighttime version as seen in the picture and right before her bedtime decided to apply it. The directions say apply a “pea size” – I put less than a pea size on my finger and applied it to her gums. Chloe immediately turned red, started kicking, got one or two screams in, and 10-15 seconds after the Orajel touched her gums she became unresponsive. Her eyes locked in a dead stare, she became limp and stopped breathing. She turned blue. I grabbed her and put her against my body, hitting her back trying to wake her up, but no response. I ran her down the hall to my bed and lied her down and began breathing into her mouth as Mike called 911. Thankfully she woke up and started screaming and crying after maybe 15-20 seconds in total, which felt like an eternity. The ambulance arrived and EMT’s checked her out and determined she was okay.
Unfortunately, I did not know this in advance, but there are many other parents out there who have experienced the exact same occurrence with their own children when using Baby Orajel. I found online posts dating back to 2008 from parents with literally the same experience – their baby became unresponsive in seconds, went limp, turned blue, became responsive again after 15 seconds or so – it was like someone wrote my same experience. What’s more, I learned the FDA warns against giving babies Benzocaine – the active ingredient in Baby Orajel. The use of benzocaine gels and liquids for mouth and gum pain can lead to a rare but serious—and sometimes fatal—condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. Children under 2 years of age are of particular risk, with almost 80% of reported benzocaine gel related cases of methemoglobinemia having occurred in children under 2.
Chloe has since been checked out by her pediatrician and they think she will be just fine. Unfortunately her Doctors can’t definitively say if what happened to Chloe was a reaction to the benzocaine in the Baby Orajel vs a “breath holding spell,” or something else.
Please, do not give your children Baby Orajel. The potential temporary relief it may provide your baby from teething is simply not worth the risk. This product is incredibly misleading (look at the age of the child on the box) and should be properly labeled with a large warning or simply removed from the shelves and not advertised for babies. Please don’t put your kids at risk. Please share this post with your friends, especially those with teething babies, so nobody else makes the same mistake.”