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  • 10 Tweaks To Your Morning Routine That Will Transform Your Entire Day

    I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a little boost in their energy and self-control.


    Researchers at the University of Nottingham recently published findings from their exploration of 83 separate studies on energy and self-control. What they found will change the way you start your day.


    The researchers found that self-control and energy are not only intricately linked but also finite, daily resources that tire much like a muscle. Even though we don’t always realize it, as the day goes on, we have increased difficulty exerting self-control and focusing on our work. As self-control wears out, we feel tired and find tasks to be more difficult and our mood sours.


    This exhaustion of self-control kills your productivity, and it makes the morning hours, when self-control is highest, the most important hours of the day.


    But the trick isn’t just to spend your morning hours working; it’s to do the right things in the morning that will make your energy and self-control last as long as possible.


    “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs


    The Nottingham research has led me to uncover ways we can break bad habits in the morning and maximize our energy and self-control throughout the day.


    Whether you naturally wake up feeling alert and productive or wake up with the brainpower of a zombie, these tips will help you transform your morning routine and set a positive tone that lasts the entire day.


    1. Start with exercise. Researchers at the University of Bristol found that people who exercise during the workday have more energy and a more positive outlook, which are both critical to getting things done. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Exercising first thing in the morning ensures that you’ll have the time for it, and it improves your self-control and energy levels all day long.


    2. But drink some lemon water first. Drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up spikes your energy levels physically and mentally. Lemon water gives you steady, natural energy that lasts the length of the day by improving nutrient absorption in your stomach. You need to drink it first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) to ensure full absorption. You should also wait 15–30 minutes after drinking it before eating (perfect time to squeeze in some exercise). Lemons are packed with nutrients; they’re chock full of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. If you’re under 150 pounds, drink the juice of half a lemon (a full lemon if you’re over 150 pounds). Don’t drink the juice without water because it’s hard on your teeth.


    3. No screen time until breakfast. When you dive straight into e-mails, texts, and Facebook, you lose focus and your morning succumbs to the wants and needs of other people. It’s much healthier to take those precious first moments of the day to do something relaxing that sets a calm, positive tone for your day. Jumping right into electronics has the opposite effect—it’s a frantic way to start your day. Exercising, meditating, or even watching the birds out the window are all great ways to start the day.


    4. Eat a real breakfast. Eating anything at all for breakfast puts you ahead of a lot of people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, they have more stable blood-sugar levels, and they tend to be less hungry over the course of the day. And these are just the statistics for people who eat any breakfast. When you eat a healthy breakfast, the doors to a productive day swing wide open. A healthy breakfast gives you energy, improves your short-term memory, and helps you to concentrate more intensely and for longer periods.


    5. Set goals for the day. Research shows that having concrete goals is correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control. Setting goals specific to the day puts everything into motion. Narrow your goals down to a few achievable ones that can easily be broken down into steps. Vague goals such as “I want to finish writing my article” are counter-productive because they fail to include the “how” of things. The same goal re-phrased in a more functional way would read something like this: “I am going to finish my article by writing each of the three sections, spending no more than an hour on each section.” Now, you have more than simply something you want to achieve—you have a way to achieve it.


    Getting your morning started off right at home is important, but it’s only half the battle. If you fail to maintain that tone once you set foot in the office, your morning can lose momentum quickly. Here’s how you can maintain a productive tone once you hit the office:


    1. First, clean your workspace. Even though it’s a pain to clean right when you get into work, it makes a big difference to your ability to concentrate. A Princeton University study found that people who worked in a clean workspace out-performed those who worked in a cluttered one because clutter pulls your attention away from your work. In fact, the effects of clutter on concentration are not all that different from the effects of multi-tasking.


    2. No e-mail until you’ve eaten three frogs. “Eating a frog” is the greatest antidote to procrastination, and the most productive people know the importance of biting into this delicacy first thing in the morning. In other words, spend your morning on something that requires a high level of concentration that you don’t want to do, and you’ll get it done in short order. Make a habit of eating three frogs before you check your e-mail because e-mail is a major distraction that enables procrastination and wastes precious mental energy.


    “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain 


    3. Keep morning meetings on schedule. Meetings are the biggest time waster there is, and they can ruin an otherwise productive morning. People who use their mornings effectively know that a meeting will drag on forever if they let it, so they inform everyone at the onset that they’ll stick to the intended schedule. This sets a limit that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient. Keep your morning meetings on time, and your entire day will stay on track.


    4. Don’t multitask. Multi-tasking in the morning—when you have lots to do, tons of energy, and it feels like you can do two or three things at once—is tempting, but it sets your whole day back. Research conducted at Stanford University confirmed that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.


    But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers (those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance) were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Ouch!


    Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus adequately on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.


    5. Finally, say no. No is a powerful word that will protect your precious mornings. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them while your mind is fresh. Research conducted at the University of California Berkeley showed that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood as well as your productivity.


    Bringing It All Together


    The right morning routine can make your day, every day. The trick is to be intentional about your mornings, understanding that a.m. hours are precious and should be handled with care.


    What do you do in the morning to start your day off right? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.


    Want to learn more from me? Check out my book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

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  • Five Ways Donald Trump Has Broken His Promise To Protect Social Security, Medicare And Medicaid In His First 100 Days

    Co-authored by Linda Benesch, Communications Director, Social Security Works


    Donald Trump ran for President as a different kind of Republican. During the primary, he stood out from the crowd by promising to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He went on to make that promise a centerpiece of his general election campaign.


    Even before the election, there was good reason to be extremely skeptical of Trump’s promise. After all, prior to running, he had called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, said that “privatization would be good for all of us,” and, in true elitist fashion, called for raising the retirement age to age 70, because “how many times will you really want to take that trailer to the Grand Canyon?” Moreover, he selected Mike Pence as his vice president. Pence has a long record of attacking Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Indeed, Pence criticized Bush’s Social Security privatization proposal for not going far enough, fast enough!


    It is clear that Trump understands how popular these programs are. Social Security has famously been called the third rail of politics – go after it and your political career is dead. In a 2011 interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said he was on board with plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — but that Republicans should be very careful “not to fall into the Democratic trap” by doing it in the open, without bipartisan cover, or they would pay the price politically.


    So, did Trump mean what he said during the campaign? Or, did he say what he needed to in order to get elected, knowing all along he would break his campaign promise? Unfortunately, It looks like the latter. After only 100 days in office, he has already jeopardized his promise to the American people in at least five ways:


    1. Championing a “health care” bill that would raid Medicare and gut Medicaid


    The American Health Care Act, AKA Trumpcare, would be very destructive to both Medicare and Medicaid. Trumpcare raids $117 billion dollars from Medicare, depriving the program of essential funding and giving Congressional Republicans the perfect excuse to call for cuts a few years down the road. It cuts nearly a trillion dollars from Medicaid, which would be a disaster for, among others, millions of seniors, who rely on Medicaid to pay for long term care costs, both at home and in nursing homes.


    Trumpcare would also be a disaster for Social Security beneficiaries in their early 60s who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare. The bill would allow insurance companies to charge older customers far more, which the CBO estimates could lead to a massive 750% increase in their premiums. Not only has he not opposed these campaign-breaking promises, he is “disappointed,” he says, that House Republicans haven’t yet rammed this harmful legislation through.


    2. Appointing Anti-Social Security Mick Mulvaney as Budget Director


    If Trump truly intended to keep his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare, he would be surrounding himself with people who support that goal. He has done exactly the opposite. For the key position of Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, a member of the House Freedom Caucus well known for his fervent support of Social Security and Medicare cuts.


    Mulvaney has enormous influence over the budgets of the agencies responsible for administering Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If that weren’t bad enough, he promised both GOP lawmakers and right-wing media personalities that he will push Trump to cut Social Security. On recent television appearances, including Face the Nation, Mulvaney has outrageously asserted that Social Security Disability Insurance isn’t “real” Social Security.


    Obviously, Social Security’s insurance against the loss of wages in the event of disability, as well as old age and death, are all essential parts of working families’ earned Social Security benefits. But, it is not hard to see the method in Mulvaney’s madness. By Mulvaney’s Orwellian illogic, Trump could cut Social Security, but claim he did not!


    3. Appointing Anti-Medicare Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary


    Tom Price, Trump’s choice to head the cabinet department that runs Medicare and Medicaid, is just as dangerous as Mulvaney. Moreover, by virtue of his position, Price is a trustee of Social Security and Medicare. Talk about a fox in the henhouse: Price has said “nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government’s intrusion into medicine through Medicare.” and “We will not rest until we make certain that government-run health care is ended.” Trump has now put him in the perfect position to carry out that threat.


    On top of his abhorrent policy views, Price also faces very serious accusations of insider trading, working with pharmaceutical corporations to block regulations they opposed and lining his own pockets in the process, but that’s an aside. Even if he were above reproach, his long history of wanting to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is a breach of faith with those who believed Trump on the campaign trail when he said he would protect these vital programs.


    4. Instituting a Months-Long Hiring Freeze That Hurt Social Security Beneficiaries


    Social Security doesn’t add a penny to the deficit. Indeed, it has dedicated revenue and an accumulated surplus of $2.8 trillion, out of which is paid not only benefits but the associated administrative costs. Nevertheless, only days after taking office, President Trump instituted a federal hiring freeze that included the Social Security Administration, which is already in a weakened state due to years of budget cuts imposed by Congressional Republicans. The hiring freeze forced SSA to turn away beneficiaries who came to their field offices for assistance.


    Trump claims he wants to run government like a business. Any business that had a product as successful and profitable as Social Security would be increasing customer service, not restricting it. Making it harder for Americans to access their earned Social Security benefits – access they have already paid for – is terrible policy and a violation of Trump’s promise.


    5. Staying Silent in the Face of Attacks on Social Security and Medicare From His Own Administration and Party Leadership


    During the election, Trump had no problem attacking leaders in his own party for supporting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts. He went so far as to say “they want to really cut , and they want to cut it very substantially, the Republicans, and I’m not going to do that” and even called out Paul Ryan by name. He, also, has not lost his flair for tweeting.


    But since the election, Trump has been completely silent in the face of attacks on Social Security and Medicare from GOP leaders. Not one comment. Not one tweet.


    Just days after the election, Ryan made it clear that he plans to make 2017 the year that he finally accomplishes his decades long goal of destroying Medicare via privatization. Trump said nothing. In December, the Republican Chair of the House Social Security Subcommittee introduced a bill to gut Social Security. Trump said nothing. This silence even extends to his own administration. Mulvaney is all over television attacking Social Security and saying that Trump’s promise isn’t binding, and the President has declined to reprimand him.


    A few weeks ago, reports emerged that the White House was considering, as part of its tax plan, the idea of weakening Social Security, perhaps fatally, by raiding a substantial part of its dedicated revenue. Though that proposal has not yet emerged, the tax proposals that have been released have encouraged right-wing ideologues to argue, in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page and elsewhere, that the proposed tax cuts for corporations and billionaires are great but would be even better if they were paid for by cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Still, Trump has said nothing.


    As Trump acknowledged during the primaries, Republican politicians are hostile to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Even though Trump’s first 100 days have shown no fidelity to his campaign promise, it is not too late for him to prove he really is different from the Republican establishment.


    He can repudiate that part of Trumpcare that undermines his promise. He can make clear that Mulvaney and Price are not running the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid show. He can propose and push for the adequate funding of SSA and the part of HHS responsible for the administration of Medicare and Medicaid. And most important, he can attack those in his party who propose dismantling these essential programs and tweet his continued commitment to them.


    If he was not just conning the public when he promised to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he should do all of those things. The first 100 days should not make any of us hold our breath in anticipation, though.

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  • Why I Issued A Dissent To USCIRF’s 2017 Annual Report

    This week, nearing the end of four years of service as an Obama Presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), I felt compelled to issue a public dissent to USCIRF’s 2017 Annual Report.


    While the larger part of my dissent dealt with the way the Commission does its work (which I will discuss in a future column), what moved me to go public was the glaring refusal of some Commissioners to allow even a consideration of religious freedom in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


    I did not bring this matter before the Commission. It was brought to our attention by two letters urging us to consider Israel’s discriminatory behavior toward Palestinian Christians and Muslims, and non-Orthodox Jews. The first of these was signed by leaders representing 11 major U.S. religious communities and 34 Christian groups from the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem.


    Their letter noted that the Commission had “never reported on religious freedom in Israel and the occupied territories” calling it a “conspicuous gap.” They argued that Israel has established “the dominant privileged position of Jewish Israelis in a manner that discriminated against the Christian and Muslim Palestinian population in Israel and the occupied territories... also negatively affecting non-Orthodox and secular Jews.” They cited “discriminatory laws that impact the freedom to marry, family unification, discrimination in housing and land ownership, the freedom of movement, and the right to worship and to main holy site.”


    The letter closed by urging USCIRF to conduct “a comprehensive review of religious freedom in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, consistent with the principles it has established with respect to other states.”


    The Commission also received a letter from the Chair and President of Hiddush, “an organization of Israeli and North American Jewish leaders...who work to promote religious freedom and diversity in Israel.” Their letter cited a broad range of concerns, including the “freedom to worship (such as...women’s worship rights in the Western Wall plaza...), discrimination in State funding for religious services,...prohibition of public transport on the Sabbath, obstacles to non-religious and non-Orthodox burials” and “the excessive power of the Orthodox religious parties over the rights and dignity of the population as a whole.”


    The Hiddush letter closed by requesting that USCIRF “ conduct a serious review of religious freedom issues in Israel... that the standards and principles used to monitor religious freedom issues throughout the world be used as you study and review these issues in Israel.”


    While I was troubled that a slim majority of Commissioners voted against both requests, more disturbing was the way the debate took place. The level of vehemence was so great that it was clear that there could be no rational discussion of this issue. Some Commissioners expressed concern that if we were to conduct a review of Israeli policy it would consume the Commission in endless rancorous debate, paralyzing us for the rest of the year. The upshot was that these appeals were dismissed and the Commission was, in effect, bullied into silence.


    This was not the first time during my tenure that the Commission rejected an appeal of this sort. In 2014, we were visited by the Latin Patriarch—the Roman Catholic Bishop of Jerusalem. He raised four concerns, asking for our help: the impact of the Wall which Israel was building to separate its settlements from Palestinians, citing, in particular, its impact on a Catholic convent and monastery—threatening irreparable damage to the operations of both; the hardships imposed on Palestinians as a result of Israel’s refusal to allow family unification in East Jerusalem; restrictions on the freedom of movement of clergy; and Israel’s efforts to create a “Christian ID” that would divide the Palestinian citizens of Israel by religion.


    The Patriarch was treated so harshly by some Commissioners that he left the meeting shaken by the hostility he had encountered. When I raised the Patriarch’s concerns at a later meeting, I was asked why I was singling Israel out for criticism. In response I noted that I wasn’t singling Israel out for criticism, I just couldn’t accept that Israel be singled out as the one country that could not be criticized.


    My concern in all of this is threefold. By refusing to examine Israeli behavior, the Commission is not only insulting the major faith leaders who wrote to us, it is also saying to Palestinian Christians and Muslims, and non-Orthodox or secular Jews in Israel that their freedoms and rights do not matter. In addition, USCIRF’s silence contributes to Israel’s sense of impunity and exposes it to the charge of having a double standard—that it will criticize every other country, but never Israel. In fact, many of the behaviors we cite in our criticisms of other countries (for example, Turkey in Cyprus or Russia in Crimea) are replicated by Israel in the occupied territories.


    In this context, it is important to consider the findings of the annual Pew Study of religious freedom in countries around the world. In its most recent study, Pew gives Israel the world’s fifth worst score on its “Social Hostilities Index”. On Pew’s “Government Restriction Index”, Israel’s score is worse than many of the countries the Commission examines in its annual report.


    The charge that USCIRF has a double standard particularly undermines its ability to effectively advocate for religious freedom in other countries, the leaders of which can ignore the substance of USCIRF’s critique of their record and instead dismiss the Commission as hypocritical.


    Given this, I decided to make my dissent public because I value religious freedom and cannot turn a blind eye to any victim community and because I know that the Commission’s refusal to be balanced in its assessment of religious freedom concerns reduces its stature and calls into question its credibility.


    Follow @jjz1600 for more.

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  • Christina Aguilera Fans Berate Her On Twitter For Promoting Other Artists’ Music Instead of Her Own

    What a Christina Aguilera fan apparently wants is a new album.


    The “What A Girl Wants” singer’s fans took to Twitter on Saturday crucifying her for promoting Voice winner Alisan Porter’s new single, but not communicating any details about her own upcoming project.






    While some fans tweeted in support of Porter’s latest single “Deep Water,” Xtina found herself in deep water with her loyal listeners as their comments streamed in.






















    Christina has been hinting at new music to follow her 2012 release “Lotus” over the last year. While she reached the top of the Billboard Dance Charts with the Sia-penned disco tune for Netflix’s The Get Down, “Telepathy,” last year, her fans aren’t feeling the love.






    Xtina, care to comment?


    Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in New York, NY. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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  • Gay Concentration Camps: Silence = Death

    I drove to work crying the other morning. It wasn’t the stress of being a solo mom of three kids under ten, or dealing with chronic health issues and economic challenges. It wasn’t the video of the passenger being dragged off the United flight, or the military posturing in the waters near North Korea, or the families being broken by deportation, or the mother of all bombs dropped in Afghanistan. I could have cried about any of those things, gripped by a deep anguish and fear for where we are headed as a country and culture. What I was crying about that grey morning as the windshield wipers streaked raindrops across my line of sight was Chechnya. More specifically, reports by the respected newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, of the establishment of the first gay concentration camp, and the round-ups, torture, and interrogation of gay men in what appears to be the beginning of an attempt to exterminate queer existence there.


    Since the election last November, I have tread a line each day between staying aware and engaged, and trying to keep my sanity by withdrawing and indulging in enough denial to keep me functioning without falling apart. But I cannot ever ignore the fact that in the southernmost tip of Eastern Europe, 60 miles from the Caspian Sea, the Chechen Republic, or Chechnya, is replicating the process of elimination that was used on Jews in Germany. The strategies and rhetoric are similar. Round up innocent people, torture them for information on others like them, tell them to leave the country while at the same time building camps to imprison and kill them. Local journalists report that additional camps have been discovered, bringing the total known number of Chechnyan gay concentration camps to six.


    One divergent strain is that while Hitler clearly stated his goals for deporting and exterminating Jews in Germany, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his press secretary, Alvi Karimov, claim the reports of gay concentration camps are libelous and untrue because they assert that there are no gay people in Chechnya. And further, that if there were gay people in Chechnya, that their families would have eliminated them through honor killings.


    Hitler asserted his intention to separate Jews from Aryan society and to abolish their civil, legal, and political rights as early as 1920, and by 1935 Jews were stripped of German citizenship and the first concentration camps were established. The persecuted in Nazi Germany also included queer people who were forced to wear pink triangles to identify themselves, the counterpart to the yellow Star of David Jews were forced to wear. In the past I’ve often wondered, How could people have let it happen? How could six million people be exterminated during the Holocaust while others looked on? At that time even esteemed media outlets such as The New York Times refused to report on the Holocaust, believing little could or should be done. Between the enforced censorship in Nazi Germany, and the negligence on the part of the press to report on the widespread genocide taking place, and perhaps an overwhelming sense of denial and helplessness, the Holocaust was allowed to take deadly hold.


    A similar question could be asked about the AIDS epidemic. In the U.S. there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV, and 700,000 have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, and 35 million have died globally. Then President Ronald Reagan remained silent from the first reported case of HIV in 1981 until he finally spoke about the disease toward the end of his second term in office in 1987 after over 20,000 people had died. Bolstered by the support of the religious right and a new political action group the Moral Majority founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, who claimed that “AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals,” Reagan was emboldened to remain silent and let people die.


    In the 1970s, the pink triangle was reclaimed from the Holocaust and inverted as a symbol of queer resistance and solidarity. And in 1987, six gay activists in New York formed the Silence = Death Project, plastering posters around the city featuring the pink triangle on a black background and the words “Silence = Death” in a push for visibility and action against the silence. At the bottom of the poster were words that are still relevant and powerful today, “Why is Reagan silent about AIDS? What is really going on at the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Vatican? Gays and lesbians are not expendable...Use your power...Vote...Boycott...Defend yourselves...Turn anger, fear, grief into action.”


    The Russian LGBT Network, headed by Igor Kochetkov, is doing all of these things. They have formed an underground railroad for gay men in Chechnya. The network has arranged travel to evacuate gay men out of the region, found safe houses, and provided medical care for those who are badly injured. But don’t let that put you at ease. As of April 21, they only had funding to evacuate 25 men. They have 30 more waiting to leave, and they receive five new requests for help each day. That number will only escalate. You can donate here to help.


    Here is another article that lists ways that we can take action.


    Crying in my car on the way to work won’t change anything, but it does take me out of my denial and puts me in touch with the emotions necessary to fuel a fight. We have to look at our history and learn from it so that it never repeats. We have to be fierce, loving, and defiant, and never, ever silent. Remember those words from 1987 and make them ours for today.


    Why is our government silent about these gay concentration camps? What is really going on in our governmental and religious institutions? The LGBTQ+ community is not expendable. Use your power…Vote…Boycott…Defend yourselves…Turn anger, fear, grief into action.


    What the bigots and homophobes and transphobes and sexists and racists don’t seem to realize is that we will never be eliminated, even if they try to pick us off one by one. We will continue to rise up in resistance. Because we have learned all too well that Silence = Death and Action = Life. Rise up!

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  • The Heineken Ad Is Worse Than The Pepsi Ad — You’re Just Too Stupid To Know It

    If you asked me to describe the worst blind date ever, it would go something like this:


    We arrive at an abandoned warehouse for drinks. My date looks like a cross between John Malkovich and Britney Spears when she was struggling. I can tell I’m gonna need to get drunk to get through this. But first, for no discernible reason, we have to build an entire fucking bar from scratch. Now I’m sweating. Midway through the date, it’s revealed that the person I’m working with is an actual neo-Nazi. A strained conversation ensues about why my humanity isn’t up for debate. Then we drink the third shittiest beer on the planet until one of us dies from kidney failure. The end.


    If that sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen the new Heineken commercial being dubbed “The Antidote To The Pepsi Kendall Jenner Ad.” Well, the funny thing about antidotes is, over time, they can be just as deadly as the poison. And that’s why this ad is high-key worse than Pepsi’s latest tragedy and/or brilliant marketing ploy.


    I understand the urge to like the Heineken ad. It shows people with opposing viewpoints finding common ground while engaging civilly and bonding over capitalism. It’s a liberal turkey lightly basted with conservative values. The Pepsi ad was more like a frozen Butterball to the face. So what’s not to like? Well… everything.



    For starters, we have to stop putting regressive ideology on equal footing with progressive ideology. If for no other reason because it’s mathematically disingenuous. For example, in the Heineken ad, one of the “blind date” subjects doesn’t believe in climate change, while the person he’s paired with does.


    Can I pause here for a second and be honest? I don’t give a shit about climate change. I’m too busy trying to find affordable housing and childcare. But that doesn’t mean I go around trying to pretend it’s not happening. I don’t have to be among the 97% of scientists who agree climate change is real and man-made. I know climate change is real because I gave birth in November and my child has only seen snow twice, even though we live in New England and she sleeps in the freezer. Climate change is already having real and lasting effects on the most marginalized communities and impoverished nations, so why would we give the “alt” view any air time? Especially when that view is completely false. If we’re gonna do that, the commercial should have included a member of the Flat Earth Society paired with somebody who… I don’t know… graduated from fourth grade.



    We have to stop putting regressive ideology on equal footing with progressive ideology.



    I’m also annoyed that racism wasn’t touched on, but transphobia was. Heineken apparently knew it would be taboo to have one of their subjects admit, “I don’t like Mexicans that much,” but thought it was fine to have a cis man stare at a camera and reveal that he’s grossed out by trans folks. By doing so, Heineken managed to aid in normalizing bigoted and violent views. Not to mention his pseudo-acceptance at the end of the ad was for a thin, white, “passing” trans woman with military experience. I doubt he’d have been down to pop bottles with a fat Black trans woman with five o’clock shadow and no intention (or resources) to transition.


    For me, the final pairing was the most infuriating. It featured a presumably queer Black woman and the villain from Ant-Man. At one point he says earnestly, “Women need to remember” that their purpose on Earth is to “have children.” I had to pause the commercial at this point to go and rewatch the Pepsi ad, just to recalibrate my capacity for white bullshit. I only continued because I convinced myself that the sista’ might bash a Heineken bottle upside dude’s head. She let me down.



    The commercial ends with everyone smiling and laughing over their bigotry and diminished humanity. And just like in real life, cis white women don’t even bother to show up. Cue the sound of liberals furiously masturbating to the idea that terrible white men and marginalized folks can get along if only they spent more time building Ikea furniture and drinking European Coor’s Light.


    This commercial is the worst type of propaganda. It tricks you into thinking social problems can be resolved if only people tolerate their oppression just a LITTLE while longer. It pushes the idea that bigotry, sexism, and transphobia are just differences of opinion that are up for debate, and deserving of civil discourse and equal consideration. And it makes folks think that four minute commercials are a viable way to address societal ills that corporations have no interest in fixing.


    I’m sorry, but Heineken’s going to have to do a better job if they want us to forget about that time they hung promotional banners in an underground dog fighting club. Oops.





    Note: My use of “blind date” (and “stupid”) is ableist. I’ll go sit in the corner.


    Reposted from DiDi Delgado’s Medium page.

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  • Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

    Before I start my anecdote, let me start off by saying, you’re awesome. Yes, I’m talking to you, all you working parents, single mothers and fathers and college students. You’re rock stars. You’re taking care of business, and despite the small moments of doubt you may have, you’re doing an incredible job!


    For sure, I can tell you that my life isn’t perfect. No one’s life is. What gets displayed on Instagram or Facebook isn’t always an accurate representation of what our lives are really like, but I want to tell you that even when you’re trying your best, a little mess and a little imperfection is okay.


    The other day I asked my sister if she could take my daughter to her ballet class so that I could jump on an important work phone call. She said she would, and we were all set, or so I thought. I’d gotten my daughter dressed, packed her snacks and had her ready to go, but all that was missing was my sister. “Are you almost here?” I asked her. “There’s an accident on the 610 freeway, and it’s all backed up! I’m not sure if I’m going to make it,” she responds. I allowed myself to be frustrated for no more than 5 seconds before I got myself in motion. In a flurry, I grabbed the first pair of leggings and tank top that I saw, grabbed my daughter, and we were off to ballet.


    Relieved that she made it on time, but a little flustered from my change in schedule, I was doing whatever work I could from my phone when another mom complimented me on my outfit with zero ounce of sarcasm. I accepted the compliment graciously but realized I hadn’t even noticed what I put on in a rush to get there. Looking down, I found myself wearing my Halloween costume... Granted it was only leggings and a tank top, but the bottoms were leopard print, and the tank top read “MEOW,” for crying out loud. I looked crazy, and here these moms are thinking I did it on purpose. I was basically just missing the ears and tail! A teeny bit embarrassed but majorly amused, I busted out laughing while rolling my eyes at my nonsense. Apparently, I’m not as smooth as I thought. Leave it to my outfit faux pas to lighten the situation.



    A hilarious story I will tell for years to come, it made me realize something. Get over it and keep it moving! Accidents happen and curve balls get thrown. Don’t get yourself worked up by letting it ruin everything else. Adjust your sails, regroup and find a solution.


    I’ve found that worrying and stressing over things you can’t change is pointless. I’ve missed phone calls and have been late to meetings due to emergencies, but I’ve learned you can’t beat yourself up too much. Say you’re sorry, and offer to make it up to them. They’ll understand or they won’t, and at that point you can figure out your next steps. Keep your momentum, and don’t let changes frustrate you.


    Regardless if it’s business or personal, none of us are perfect; we’re all just trying to do the best we can. So my advice to you? Don’t sweat the small stuff. And next time you witness someone having an off day, smile at them, and reassure them that they’re doing an awesome job too.


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  • Expanding Vaccination Coverage Safeguards Families From The Cycle Of Poverty

    Today I want to tell you #WhyVaccinesWork. I have seen progress made and lives saved. Vaccines protect against 26 diseases. Where accessible, this means more children are living past their fifth birthday, an important milestone for child survival. It also means adults, communities, and nations are healthier. During World Immunization Week, we must celebrate our shared results and redouble our efforts to improve the health and lives of people everywhere.


    Immunization currently prevents the death of 2 to 3 million children each year. If global vaccination coverage is strengthened, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be prevented. The impact of this goes beyond the health sector. In Africa, every $1 spent on childhood immunizations returns $41 in economic and social benefits.


    Vaccination and other essential preventive services must be delivered close within communities. One such model is Ethiopia’s door-to-door immunization services provided through the Heath Extension Program, which increased immunization rates nationwide by 25 percent.


    Through a partnership with Gavi, the introduction of new vaccines in Africa has been quite effective. In fact, the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) target of at least 90 low- and middle-income countries introducing one or more new or underutilized vaccines is on track to be met globally because of the progress across Africa. The Addis Declaration on Immunization builds on these results. The Declaration is a historic pledge to ensure that all Africans – regardless of who they are or where they live – receive the full benefits of immunization. The endorsement was issued during the 28th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia earlier this year.


    Globally, it is clear that to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, we must advocate to increase the availability and accessibility of effective, safe and affordable vaccines where they are needed most. But that is not enough. I believe we must also accelerate research and development. This includes strengthening WHO’s normative authority and intensifying ongoing efforts to address market failures. Effective public-private partnerships will help drive the development of new products to meet the particular health needs of the poor and other vulnerable populations. Our common goal is to ensure current and future vaccines are accessible to all.


    A strong and modern WHO must work with countries and alongside partners like Gavi to deliver real results. And, as set out as a GVAP strategic objective, individuals and communities must understand the value of vaccines and demand immunization as both their right and responsibility. This our global call to action as citizens. Only then will we be able to expand vaccination coverage and safeguard families from the cycle of poverty.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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