Category: Uncategorized

July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

The Latest: McCain calls on both parties to work together

Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES25 July 2017 22:18-04:00


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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Senate opens ‘Obamacare’ debate at last but outcome in doubt

Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES25 July 2017 22:02-04:00


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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Cheers for McCain, then a speech like impassioned prophet

Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES25 July 2017 18:35-04:00


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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

“Citizens?”

San Diego middle school teacher Shane Parmely was driving with her family in New Mexico when she was asked that question at a Border Patrol checkpoint miles from the actual border.

Parmely refused to answer. A member of her family filmed the encounter, which has since gone viral on Facebook.

Parmely, who is white, told KGTV-San Diego that many of her Latino friends are frequently stopped at such checkpoints.

As a result, she believes they are unconstitutional and wanted to register her opposition.

“The people that we see you actually making show papers are all brown,” she tells the arresting officer in the video. Parmely and her family were held for about 90 minutes before being released.

According to the ACLU, Border Patrol agents may ask “a few, limited questions to verify the citizenship of the vehicles’ occupants,” and may not detain drivers for an extended period of time “without cause.”

In an email statement to KGTV, the Border Patrol affirmed its right to question Parmely about her immigration status.

A Border Patrol agent stops a vehicle at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2013. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

“At a Border Patrol checkpoint, an agent may question a vehicle’s occupants about their citizenship, place of birth, and request document proof of immigration status, how legal status was obtained and make quick observations of what is in plain view in the interior of the vehicle,” the agency argued.

Nonetheless, Parmely felt it was important to stand up to something she believes is an affront to American values.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

“We would have no civil rights if people didn’t question authority or challenge the status quo,” she said in an interview with KGTV.

As a white woman, Parmely explains, she realizes she likely had the privilege of being waved through with a quick “yes, I’m a citizen.”

Nonetheless, she couldn’t simply tolerate the brief inconvenience because many of her non-white friends and colleagues don’t have that luxury. As she told the station, “When you see something that is clearly racist, you have a choice.”

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

In the past decade, a lot has changed in our fight against climate change.

In a recent Q&A with Sen. Bernie Sanders published in The Guardian, former Vice President Al Gore pinpointed “two big things” that have changed since his groundbreaking documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” hit theaters in 2006.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New York Times.

One is rather promising. The other? Not so much.

1. First, the bad news: There’s been a jaw-dropping increase in extreme weather that was considered relatively rare in 2006.

“The climate-related extreme weather events are way more common now, and way more destructive,” Gore told Sanders. “Here in the U.S., in the last seven years, we’ve had 11 so-called ‘once-in-a-1,000 year’ downpours.”

“1,000-year” is an official term used by organizations like the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information to describe the probability that such an event will happen in a given year. South Carolina’s record-breaking October 2015 flooding — which The Weather Channel deemed “catastrophic” — was one of those events.

A man in Columbia, South Carolina, cleans up his home after much of it was destroyed in the floods that ravished the region in October 2015. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

Upward of 2 feet of rain blanketed many regions of the state in under 24 hours, causing massive (and expensive) damages and taking over a dozen lives.

These events have become disturbingly normal, Gore said. On the other hand, we’ve also normalized many of the innovative solutions that help drastically cut back greenhouse gas emissions.

Which brings us to…

2. The thing that’ll make you feel optimistic: When “An Inconvenient Truth” released in theaters over a decade ago, many solutions to reduce carbon emissions were still out of reach.

Not anymore.

“In a growing number of cities and regions, electricity from solar and wind is cheaper than electricity from burning fossil fuels,” the former vice president said. “Electric cars are becoming more commonplace. Efficiency technologies are coming down in cost.”

In other words, going green has become good business.

Workers install solar panels in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2016. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

After President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate agreement to dramatically lower the world’s carbon emissions, many have argued the country will reach its targets anyway as sustainable technologies continue to boom.

An analysis by Morgan Stanley found that the economic benefits to switching to renewable energies is outweighing the pros to keeping up the status quo:

“By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics rather than government policy will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels. For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.”

As Gore put it, “The problems are worse, but the solutions are here.”

We can’t assume progress will happen, though; we have to work for it.

“All over the country activists are being energized,” Gore said. And it’s those activists — not just politicians in Washington — who will make the difference. “We are counting on people at the grassroots level.”

Gore sat down to chat with Sanders to promote his new film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” which opens in theaters on July 28, 2017. Watch a trailer below:

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Ralph Pace’s career as a photographer didn’t start underwater. In fact, it started with a jaguar.

He’d decided to go to graduate school for oceanography, but before he could do so, he needed to get some research experience under his belt.

So he headed to Costa Rica.

“I was working on sea turtle projects, but it’s also one of the only places in the world that jaguars actually hunt in packs,” he says. “I called my brother and said, ‘Hey man, you won’t believe this!’ And it was kind of a typical brother thing — he sent me a camera and said ‘Prove it!’”

All photos by Ralph Pace, used with permission.

Pace didn’t grow up knowing he wanted to be a photographer, much less an underwater one. In fact, he was pre-med in college and hadn’t even been on a dive until he traveled abroad to Australia.

But once he realized the ocean was his calling, he headed to Scripps Institute of Oceanography. And after his encounter with the jaguars, he quickly realized he wanted to pair his newfound photography skills with his love of the ocean.

It didn’t take long for Pace to turn his camera toward the water to start telling stories about conservation.

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Roy Tuscany had spent most of his life on the slopes, training in the hopes of one day competing in the Olympics.

The only Vermonter in his family to develop a love for skiing, he knew it would become his destiny. He focused his entire life around the sport and moved west to Lake Tahoe, where he could teach kids and train.

But one day, his ambition got the best of him — or so it seemed. He ignored what he taught his students and hit a jump on new skis while the snow was harder and the wind was stronger.

High Fives founder Roy Tuscany in Vermont. Photo by Brooks Curran.

The allure was too strong to consider any of the above, drowned out by the call of the sensation of the flight, the distance, and the perfect jump.

Going 130 feet on a 100-foot jump, the impact onto ground instantly paralyzed him from the belly down, and he lost motor skills, sensation, feeling.

When your entire life is about mountain sports, a paralyzing injury isn’t something that keeps you off the slopes — no matter how traumatizing the experience. Swearing off skiing just wasn’t an option. “I knew I didn’t want to sulk, and I knew the next move would have to change for me to stay on this path,” he says.

Roy Tuscany. Photo by Generikal Design.

Tuscany was surrounded by a network of not just medical professionals, but personal friends, family, and community members who supported his recovery on all levels every step of the way.  

He underwent multiple surgeries, including the insertion of two rods, eight screws, and two plates placed in his back to stabilize and support his spine, followed by Achilles-tendon-lengthening surgery on each ankle that would allow his feet to be flat.

Roy Tuscany in recovery. Photo via High Fives Foundation.

But just learning to ski again wasn’t enough. He wanted to do more.

His traumatic injury became the catalyst that caused him to offer a hand to other athletes who had experienced the same.

Determined to pay forward all the support he had received, he created a foundation to raise injury prevention awareness for athletes who have experienced life-altering injuries. They also provide rehabilitation services and financial support for medical treatment.

High Fives athlete at Adaptive Waterski Camp. Photo by High Fives Foundation via GoPro.

In addition to helping with rehabilitation, the foundation gives athletes a bit more knowledge through its educational program to help prevent another accident  

“For a long time, parents told us we supported daredevils who get hurt, so we created this presentation to help them make better choices,” Tuscany says.

A High Fives athlete at the foundation’s rehab facility. Photo by Elevated Image Photography.

Known as the BASICS program (an acronym for Be Aware Safe In Critical Situations), the curriculum highlights some of the most frequent but commonly disregarded key safety measures athletes make, like listening to your intuition instead of your ego and increasing your speed without being aware of the consequences.

It’s a presentation they travel the country to deliver in person, and it can also be viewed online, with over 225,000 views to date.

Even the name Tuscany chose — the High Fives Foundation — reflects the positivity he received.

One day, after a specific surgery, he held up his hand for his doctor, who had just told him it went well, to slap it.

High Fives members. Photo by Generikal Design.

“After that, it was always high-fives all around because it’s impossible to give a high-five and not feel an exchange of positivity,” Tuscany says.

The High Fives Foundation officially got off the ground in 2009.

To date, it has helped 159 athletes from 31 states get rehabilitated and back out there.

The first athlete the foundation helped had been hurt in a skiing accident. The foundation raised $25,000 in its first year — largely through word of mouth — enabling them to offer that skier personal training, a gym membership, ski lessons, and equipment to help get him ready to hit the slopes again.

“We started with [that] one program, an empowerment fund, and were able to grow,” Tuscany says, “so that when insurance says ‘no,’ we say ‘yes,’ when they suffer life-altering injuries, even if it’s from a car accident.”

Military to the Mountain participants on the slopes. Photo by Generikal Design.

At the adaptive camps, athletes who live with permanently altered abilities can take part in the sports they love.

This includes water skiing, surfing, and mountain climbing.

High Fives has also started a program for veterans who have been wounded in the line of duty.

They are given nine weeks of group training for skiing and snowboarding and a full week to hit the slopes. “Individuals volunteer once a week because they’ve built relationships and friendships with members of the staff,” Tuscany says. “These guys have the biggest hearts in the world.”

Athlete Jeff Andrews and Roy Tuscany. Photo by ClarkBourne Creative.

One snowboarder particularly grateful for the support is Jeff Andrews, who became paralyzed from the middle of his sternum downward.

The High Fives Foundation was there for him during his entire recovery. The organization also sent him on a trip to Hawaii, where he was able to learn to surf. And this experience was transformative for him — giving him a new goal to strive for: become the best surfer he could be.

And three weeks ago, Jeff decided he wanted to go to the U.S. World Surfing Championships.

He won first place in the U.S. Adaptive Division, proving that it’s not just ice or snow that can be healing.

Photo by ClarkBourne Creative.

Folks with disabilities, with little to no function, can move a little in ocean water, according to High Fives’s founder.

“The motion is magnified by, like, 100,” Tuscany says. “These little twists out of the water are moving. It’s such a positive rush. All of a sudden, your foot and legs are moving.”

In addition to the unique “human-care” component that sets it apart from some similar organizations out there, the High Five Foundations Empowerment Grant paves the way for each individual to find their own path back to action.

“We bring everyone into our Ohana, a super powerful term in the Hawaiian culture to define family,” Tuscany says. “When you care about the human, the results are endless in their pursuit.”

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

It’s been a long time coming, but the breeding program is finally done with.

Three months ago, SeaWorld’s orca breeding program came to a long-awaited close with the birth of one last whale: Kyara.

It was welcome news, too. For years, activists have fought back against SeaWorld’s treatment of orcas, which has been widely described as “cruel.” The 2013 film “Blackfish” put a spotlight on some of SeaWorld’s frightening behind-the-scenes antics, and in March 2016, the organization announced a plan to put an end to the breeding program and phase out the public shows.

It was a huge win for animal rights activists, and Kyara’s birth at SeaWorld San Antonio was a milestone in itself, as she would be final whale to be born and raised in a SeaWorld park.

Kyara with her mom, Takara. GIF from SeaWorld/YouTube.

In late July 2017, tragedy struck. Kyara contracted an infection and, on July 24, the 3-month-old orca died.

SeaWorld announced the heartbreaking news on its website and social media channels later that day, writing, “Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week that the animal care and veterinary teams had been aggressively treating.” While the specific cause of death isn’t yet known, SeaWorld says that signs point to it being pneumonia, a common illness in whale calfs.

Friends of SeaWorld, We are extremely saddened to announce the passing of Kyara, our newest killer whale calf. (1/3) https://t.co/PEuBUloz3r pic.twitter.com/RWpsv5BC4B

— SeaWorld (@SeaWorld) July 24, 2017

Kyara’s death is a powerful symbol of SeaWorld’s marred reputation, a tragic — if fitting — end to an era.

The good news is that SeaWorld’s breeding program is over, at least. SeaWorld’s orca shows will be phased out by 2019 — also a positive.

Still, the question remains: What will happen to the more than 20 remaining orcas in captivity at SeaWorld? That’s a fight activists aren’t quite done with.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called on SeaWorld to relocate its remaining whales to coastal sanctuaries. Whales that have spent a great deal of time living in captivity might not fare well being released into the wild, which makes the idea of a middle-ground solution sound appealing.

Unfortunately for PETA and other advocates, SeaWorld has rejected their proposition, calling the idea of relocating orcas to “unproven sea cages” dangerous.

BREAKING NEWS: @Seaworld to end the breeding of captive orcas: https://t.co/yiIBuAg0wl #nomorcas pic.twitter.com/ODeo5waGFD

— Humane Society (@HumaneSociety) March 17, 2016

Many activists want SeaWorld to extend its ban on captivity breeding to other animals, such as dolphins. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Humane Society executive Wayne Pacelle said, “This is the beginning of discussions with SeaWorld, not the end.”

For now, rest in peace, Kyara — and may this tragedy be the last of its kind.

GIF from SeaWorld/YouTube

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Kate Hudson has pulled a G.I. Jane (and countless other badass Hollywood heroines) by completely shaving her famous golden locks … and like all of them, she looks great.  Kate was seen on set Tuesday in L.A. for a new flick she’s working on…

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

6:53 PM PT — Sources connected to Kim’s makeup line tell us she consulted several veteran trademark attorneys when launching her KKW line to ensure there were no violations. Nevertheless, we’re told her team is confident KKW Beauty in no way…

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Aaron Judge is killin’ it, but don’t go retiring his number just yet … so says Yankees legend Reggie Jackson, who told us the rookie phenom still has a lot more to prove. Mr. October was RAVING about Judge when we ran into him at LAX –…

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Justin Bieber is publicly denying religion played a role in him abruptly pulling the plug on his Purpose tour with just 14 shows to go. Biebs was grabbing lunch Tuesday in Bev Hills when a pap asked about the sudden decision to quit. Justin…

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July 26th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Three deadly king cobras were illegally shipped into the country under cover of U.S. postage stamps and potato chips. Federal agents arrested a California man for smuggling the killer reptiles using the U.S. Postal Service back in March. The snakes…

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

McCain making dramatic Senate return for crucial health vote

Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES24 July 2017 22:40-04:00


Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Immigrants wept, pleaded for water and pounded on the truck

Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES24 July 2017 22:43-04:00


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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Over the weekend, Samantha Bee stopped by Ozy Fest in New York’s Central Park to talk about running for office (“Never! God, no!”), creating an internship program for female ex-convicts, and the restorative power of connecting with other people.

Upworthy caught up with Bee to ask how she balances being late night’s most formidable player with the increasingly challenging task of staying hopeful and optimistic.

(This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Ozy Fest 2017.

Upworthy (UP): Speaking not as the host of “Full Frontal” but as a person who has to work in news every day, how’re you holding up?

Samantha Bee (SB): Terrible! Terribly! How are you holding up?

UP: I’m doing pretty good.

SB: Oh, you are? OK. OK.

UP: How are you coping with things?

SB: I don’t think very well. I mean, as a citizen of this country, I’m reasonably worried. The news is coming at us pretty fast. Still, I’m trying to lead a happy life.

UP: You were at “The Daily Show” when Jon Stewart left. He gave an interview around that time in which he said, “I’m in a constant state of depression. I think of us as turd miners. I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds, hopefully I don’t get turd lung disease.” Are you getting turd lung disease?

SB: [laughs] Oh my gosh. I forgot that he said that! I’m totally getting turd lung disease. Yeah, I have that. I’m getting turd COPD.

UP: So what do you do to manage that, to draw boundaries around that?

SB: Well, the one thing — this doesn’t really make it totally better, but — we only make a show once a week. So we do get a tiny pause at the weekend. I mean, news never stops. There’s no getting around it. But at least we have a little bit of space between shows to breathe for a half second. And I get to go off and travel around and do things that get me really excited.

We have a bunch of pieces coming up where I went to — [laughs] as the words are coming out of my mouth, I’m like “What am I talking about?” But I went to Iraq, and that actually gave me great joy! [laughs] So we’re gonna roll out the Iraq pieces in the next couple of weeks, and that type of thing makes me, I love going out. The freedom to go out in the world does make it a little easier.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TBS.

UP: Do you find that looking people in the eyes is a little bit better than reading about it in the news and hearing it recorded?

SB: A hundred percent. Yeah.

UP: What do you think is the value of that connection?

SB: I mean, just learning on the ground. I don’t think it’s just valuable from a news perspective. It’s just a good exercise as a human being, to go somewhere else and check out the scene.

UP: A lot of people are struggling with this feeling of being fatigued. But on your show, you encourage civic responsibility and you encourage people to stay engaged.

SB: It’s hard to do. People do get fatigued. I did have a feeling that once the warm weather hit, people would lose that feeling of fervor but I actually don’t think they did. I don’t think people are slowing down. When I see that, it does lift my spirit. I love it. Killing that health care bill — it felt good. Those small victories.

UP: The Democrats are having a pretty hard time coming up with a slogan to unite the party. If that was your responsibility, what would you write?

SB: Oh my gosh. I don’t know what I would write. I’m afraid to say anything because I’m afraid they’ll use it. I’m sure they’ll land on something. In 2019.

UP: Obviously the script of your show is very sarcastic, but you seem to be less jaded than most. How do you stay hopeful?

SB: You know, just that. Meeting people, witnessing people’s engagement — they really care. They’re very alive. That makes me feel hopeful. And if that’s all we have to feel hopeful about — that’s actually a lot.

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

It was about so much more than just music.

Four days after Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington died by suicide, his bandmates posted a powerful tribute to the late singer online.

“Our hearts are broken,” the letter begins. “The shockwaves of grief and denial are still sweeping through our family as we come to grips with what has happened.”

The band goes on to talk about how many lives Bennington touched during his life and the powerfully emotional reaction from fans to his death.

Dear Chester,

Our hearts are broken. The shockwaves of grief and denial are still sweeping through our family as we…

Posted by Linkin Park on Monday, July 24, 2017

It’s the band’s frank words about mental illness and Bennington’s role in destigmatizing it that really stand out.

Describing him as “a boisterous, funny, ambitious, creative, kind, generous voice,” they touch on the duality of mental illness and suicidal ideation. Someone can seem, on the surface, to have it all together — but underneath, things can be much different.

“We’re trying to remind ourselves that the demons who took you away from us were always part of the deal. After all, it was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place. You fearlessly put them on display, and in doing so, brought us together and taught us to be more human. You had the biggest heart, and managed to wear it on your sleeve.”

From the band’s first record to its most recent, Bennington sang openly and proudly about some of the struggles he’s had — both his mental state and with substance abuse. He was human, and by writing and singing lyrics about what was going on in his life, he reminded fans that it’s OK to be human too.

pic.twitter.com/yoN80Mobdk

— LINKIN PARK (@linkinpark) July 20, 2017

Mental illness is extremely common and appears in many forms.

Roughly 18% of adults in the U.S. will experience some form of mental illness each year. Even so, mental illness is still extremely stigmatized, meaning that a lot of people won’t seek the help they need out of shame. If there’s one thing we can all learn from Bennington’s death, it’s that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about these issues — with each other or with mental health professionals.

Bennington during a May 2017 concert. Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for CBS Radio Inc.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

It was Christmas 1994 when Scarlet Ross and her 10-year-old son went to get photos of their cat and dog with Santa.

Getting a dog — let alone a cat — to cooperate for such a photo op might be tough.

Not for these pets. Neither one seemed fazed by being held by a bearded stranger in a bright red suit.

Scarlet’s dog, Tyler, with Santa. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

Amazed by their calmness, someone approached Scarlet and asked her if she would be interested in getting her animals involved with a new animal therapy group: the Human Animal Bond (HAB).

After all, the stranger explained, if her animals were so even-tempered with Santa, they’d probably make great therapy animals.

Scarlet was immediately intrigued.

She decided to leave the cat at home, but she took her sheltie to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to see if he was a good fit. He passed with flying colors, and “That’s just how I got involved,” she says. She remains a volunteer with HAB to this day.

Scarlet and Tyler visiting a nursing home resident 20 years ago. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

The volunteer-run organization was started by the U.S. Military Veterinary Services because they know how strong the bond between humans and animals can be.

The military veterinary services “felt that animals had a particular benefit to army families because of all the moving,” explains Ruie Gibson, a long-time HAB board member and volunteer.

Snickers, a greyhound HAB therapy dog, at HAB’s annual picnic. Image by Tammy Patton, used with permission.

Not to be confused with service dogs, therapy dogs can provide comfort and support to those who need it. And there is science to back it up.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and doctors have used, and continue to use, therapy dogs with patients because they have found they can help reduce feelings of depression.

Studies have also shown that simply petting dogs can help lower people’s heart rates and reduce stress and anxiety.

The military wrote a regulation, and the animal therapy group Human Animal Bond was born to help provide this service to those in need of comfort and support.

Families that are interested in being a part of HAB can sign up their dogs, cats, and even rabbits to be therapy pets.

HAB volunteer Erika Chester and her cat, Mia. Image via HAB, used with permission.

If these animals pass the temperament test, they can join the HAB network with their family.

“I would say that 99% of the time, the people who come to us and who want to do this, or think that their pet would be good at this, pass the temperament test no problem,” Ruie says. “They wouldn’t even consider it if they didn’t think their dog would like it.”

Once they’re members, the families take a special training session once a year — which, Ruie says, is actually more for the owners than the dogs.

After that, the volunteers and their therapy pets sign up for and attend as many HAB events as they can with their schedules.

Two volunteers and their HAB therapy dogs at the annual Veterans Day Parade. Image via HAB, used with permission.

Sometimes the HAB therapy pets go to schools and libraries to meet students.

They even help kids who are having trouble reading practice doing it aloud.

Cobalt, a beagle mix, visits a teacher and her classroom in Leavenworth. Image via HAB, used with permission.

Other times, the pets visit nursing homes, elderly care facilities, or rehab facilities.

Goose, an HAB therapy dog, visiting a rehab facility.  Image via HAB, used with permission.

They also go to a minimum security correctional facility on the military base to visit nonviolent offenders.

“That’s a very popular program,” Ruie says, adding that there is always a waiting list of inmates wanting to see the dogs.

Scarlet has now been an active volunteer with HAB for the last 23 years and has had several of her dogs join the program.

“It is very important to me,” she says. “It’s very rewarding to see the joy of it.”

“A couple of years ago, I had a dog that was blind, deaf, and incontinent, and we would go to the nursing home and talk about that,” Scarlet remembers.

Scarlet’s dog Aunt Bea was a regular visitor at the local nursing home. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

This dog, named Aunt Bea, was 12 or 13 when Scarlet adopted her, and she was also missing her teeth. When she went to the nursing home to visit, Aunt Bea “had to wear her Depends,” Scarlet continues, but “many of the residents related to her health condition. … They really enjoyed meeting her.”

Today, Scarlet’s two dogs — a rescued golden retriever named Josie and a wild-haired shih tzu named Phyllis Diller — are both in the program.

Scarlet and Josie, an HAB therapy dog. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

“I love sharing my animals with these people that have had animals in the past and can’t have them now,” she says. “They get to hug them, they pet them, and I take photos of them with my pet and give it to them so they can have it.”

That’s why she particularly loves visiting the nursing homes with her dogs.

Tyler with a nursing home resident at Christmas. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

“So many need a special touch or hug that they used to get,” she says.

Being involved with HAB has also helped make Scarlet feel closer to her animals too.

“I love all of my dogs, however, with my therapy dogs there is a special bond and closeness,” she explains. “When you work with them like that, that’s a special connection.”  

Scarlet’s shih tzu, Phyllis Diller, is also a hit at senior facilities because her crazy hair makes them laugh. Image via Scarlet Ross, used with permission.

Whether it’s visiting the elderly or helping kids practice reading, it’s clear that HAB has been making a difference in people’s lives.

All animal lovers understand the joy their pets can bring. But sharing that joy is a step beyond.

HAB therapy dogs and member families at their 2017 annual picnic. Image via Tammy Patton, used with permission.

All it takes is one visit at a school or nursing home to know your therapy dog is making a difference, Ruie says. “Sometimes they might not even want to touch the dog, but just being in the presence, it’s amazing what a difference it can make.”

HAB dog Zorro and Maj. D. Thomas at the Munson Army Health Center. Image via HAB, used with permission.

“You might not know that it raises someone’s mood right away, but after you talk to a nurse, you find out that this patient hadn’t talked all day until they saw the dog.”

“It’s amazing the things that do happen in their presence,” she adds, “I don’t know how long it stays that way, but at least for a short time, they feel better.”

If you think your pet would make a good therapy pet and you live in the Fort Leavenworth area, check out their website for ways to get involved as a volunteer.

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Any warm-blooded animal lover knows the importance of spaying and neutering cats — what you may not know is how intensive the logistics are of pulling it off.

In 2016, Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minnesota, a nonprofit that works to help homeless animals find fosters or forever homes, decided to expand their program, which they describe as one of the most important that they run.

This particular initiative is a crucial one for Ruff Start because it prevents even more stray kittens from being born, thereby preventing the homeless cat community from growing even larger.

All images courtesy of Ruff Start Rescue, used with permission.

That’s why they decided to seek extra funding to help expand it — and they had their work cut out for them.

Jenna Trisko, the program’s development director, had been reaching out to people in her network for new ways to find funds when she came across something different: the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant.

Unlike Jenna’s other grant proposals, the Neighborhood Assist program didn’t require an in-person meeting or the approval of a board. State Farm would narrow down the applications to the top 200, then applications would be put to a vote and the decision based on whose community presented the strongest showing.

They kept their fingers crossed, hoping to get the extra funding needed cover the surgeries, which can be expensive.

The existing fundraising they had could only cover a fraction of the surgeries they wanted to provide in order to help keep the homeless cat population under control and healthy.

Jenna had no idea whether Ruff Start would be a strong contender, but she decided to give it a shot, for the love of kitten-kind.

“It was very unlike me to do that,” Jenna laughs.

A few months later, she received a notification. Ruff Start was a top contender for a $25,000 grant.

The Neighborhood Assist program that had seemed like a long shot was now within reach. Given the green light by the State Farm team, all that stood between Ruff Start and a $25,000 check was one round of community voting.

It was time to get the Ruff Start community involved.

Ruff Start doesn’t have a shelter because all of its animals are placed in foster homes, so the community is tight-knit and full of individuals willing to provide temporarily love to adoptable kitties until they can find permanent homes for them.

This style of animal welfare brings foster families together more closely than at a typical shelter.

“I’ve been with the organization for four years, and many of the people I’ve never met,” Jenna says. “But they feel like family. It’s just amazing.”

That family came in especially handy when it was time to vote for Ruff Start in the Neighborhood Assist program.  They were able to rally the community to participate in the voting every day for three long weeks.

Plus, since no one else in Minnesota was nominated, all of the animal welfare supporters in the state could easily support their cause.

“We reached out to our other partners and got the word out that we needed people voting every day.”

This continued for three excruciatingly tense weeks.

“It was the biggest nail-biter ever,” Jenna laughs.

Finally, the winners were announced — and Jenna’s proposal for Ruff Start was among them.

“I think I cried for two days!” she says.

In all, the Neighborhood Assist program helped Ruff Start spay and neuter over 500 cats.

The program was so popular that Ruff Start spent the entire grant in just five months, less than a third of the time they originally anticipated.

Ruff Start recently received a second grant, which is being used to build a facility to house cats before and after their spay/neuter surgery.

They’re now working on building a facility where cats can be temporarily housed post-surgery — a project for which their community helped win another Neighborhood Assist grant.

Volunteers at Ruff Start are also focused on teaching the public things like how to read “cat body language.”

Those volunteers design learning materials about animals and their care — such as how to understand their body language, what to feed them, or what do if you find an injured or stray animal — and then, they take them to schools, youth groups, YMCAs, and more.

By extending their mission beyond foster and adoption, Ruff Start can spread knowledge that helps improve the lives of animals that aren’t necessarily part of their direct community.

In the end, Neighborhood Assist gave Ruff Start more than just a grant, it gave them a bonding experience.

“It’s so touching to see a community come together for an initiative,” Jenna says. “I’ve been writing grants for 11 years. I have never had an opportunity to be part of something like that.”

The effort that Ruff Start and the animal welfare community put into winning the grant proved that regular people have the power to do what might, at first, feel impossible.

If you want to find out more about Neighborhood Assist, and how it’s helping improve communities across the country, check out the program here.

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Reflecting golden hues reminiscent of a different time, newly released vintage photos of Princess Diana have sparked feelings of nostalgia and bittersweet smiles across the globe.

The previously private pics, just shared by Princes William and Harry, show the unbreakable everlasting bond between a mother and her children.

Princess Diana and Prince Harry. Photo via the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry/Getty Images Publicity.

The royal family shared the photos ahead of a new documentary honoring the princess, “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy,” which will air on ITV in the U.K. and HBO in the U.S. to acknowledge the 20-year mark of her passing.

The princess died tragically in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997.

“Our mother was a total kid, through and through,” Harry reminisced in a heartfelt clip promoting the film.

“Everybody says to me, ‘so she was fun, give us an example,’” he continued. “All I can hear is her laugh in my head — that sort of crazy laugh, where there was just pure happiness shown on her face.”

Princess Diana, pregnant with Prince Harry, holds Prince William. Photo via the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry/Getty Images Publicity.

“One of her mottos to me was, ‘You can be as naughty as you want — just don’t get caught,'” Harry said in the video. “She was one of the naughtiest parents.”

More recently, William and Harry have opened up about how they coped after their mother’s shocking, untimely death.

“I always thought to myself, ‘what’s the point of bringing up the past?’” Harry had said in a video posted to the royal family’s Facebook page in April. “It’s very easy to run away from it, to walk away from it, and avoid it the whole time,” William sympathized, Princess Kate at his side.

As the pair have learned more recently, pushing those feelings down and not talking about them is far less helpful and healthy than talking about the past with loved ones or mental health professionals.

Princes William (above) and Harry (below) on a picnic bench. Photo via the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry/Getty Images Publicity.

William and Harry, alongside Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, have made mental health a key issue in the royal family’s public platform.

Heads Together, a stigma-busting campaign encouraging Brits to speak up and access help when it comes to their own mental well-being, was the official charity partner of the 2017 London Marathon.

For William, who has two small children, an important component in addressing his own mental health is sharing stories about his mother and keeping her legacy alive.

“I do regularly, putting George and Charlotte to bed, talk about [Diana] and try and remind them that there were two grandmothers in their lives,” William explained.

Whether children are dealing with the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death or learning about ancestors and relatives who passed before they were born through family photos and stories, there are ways to help make that potentially difficult process a healthy and helpful one.

“It’s important that [George and Charlotte] know who she was and that she existed,” William noted.

Watch a promotional clip of  “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” below:

Watch TRH share some of their favourite memories of their late mother.

Prince Harry: “She was one of the naughtiest parents!” pic.twitter.com/zKIcZbe4rf

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 23, 2017

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Rachel Lindsay might be falling head over heels for contestant Bryan Abasolo on “The Bachelorette” … but her family sure ain’t.  Rachel brought her remaining 3 suitors to meet her fam on Monday’s episode, but when it came to Bryan ……

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Chris Massey claims ex-“Moesha” star, Shar Jackson, hits his 2-year-old daughter and even left her with a gash across her face … which is why he’s demanding court ordered protection. Massey requested and was granted a temporary…

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Step aside, Santa Claus … President Trump’s vowing to single-handedly save Christmas. POTUS addressed the Boy Scouts of America Monday at their national convention in West Virginia and got ’em all pumped up for the holiday season. Yes, it’s July.…

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Blac Chyna is sending a message to Rob Kardashian — and even her old side piece, Ferrari — she doesn’t need either of them to get around fast. Chyna just purchased a 2017 Ferrari 488 Spider. The whip’s starting price is around…

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July 25th, 2017 by Staff Writer

You’d think it was a diss … if you didn’t know any better.  But when Jimmy Butler took a shot at his friend Kyrie Irving in Malibu this week, we’re guessing it’s all in good fun.  With all the Kyrie rumors going around, we asked Jimmy…

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

9 die in immigrant-smuggling attempt in sweltering truck

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

How smugglers use trucks with sometimes deadly results

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

Gold medal winning Olympian Michael Phelps took on a great white shark … and now we know who truly reigns supreme in the water … sort of. The moment of glory for #TeamShark!!! #PhelpsVsShark #SharkWeek pic.twitter.com/NWYp1CwiRa—…

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

And the award for best drunken Comic-Con video goes to …. Ezra Miller, aka The Flash! Ezra, who plays the speedy guy was swarmed by fans Saturday night in San Diego, and dropped some Flash trivia on them … regarding booze. The way he explains…

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

R. Kelly failed to successfully lure a young woman into his life, despite giving her cash and promising to jump-start her career … and the woman says she has her mom to thank. The woman tells us she met the singer backstage at one of his…

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

“Game of Thrones” actor Liam Cunningham has some potentially spoiler-filled advice about betting on his character to last on the show … but you know you want to hear it. We got Liam — aka Ser Davos Seaworth — on L Street in San Diego heading to…

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July 24th, 2017 by Staff Writer

“Catfish” star Nev Schulman got wet and wild after his wedding … in a reception that ditched the banquet hall dance floor for riding waves at the beach. Nev married his longtime girlfriend, Laura Perlongo, in his father’s backyard in East Hampton,…

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Trump asserts all agree he has ‘complete power’ to pardon

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Democrats herald agreement on sweeping Russia sanctions bill

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Princes William, Harry remember their final call with Diana

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Trump: USS Ford is ‘100,000-ton message to the world’

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Strong aftershocks test nerves on Greek island after quake

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Joe Jonas is probably used to needing a little extra muscle to keep hordes of adoring fans at bay, but at an event like Comic-Con … his girlfriend Sophie Turner’s the main attraction. The couple was spotted out in downtown San Diego Friday night,…

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Chester Bennington’s suicide — and also Chris Cornell’s — has Gavin Rossdale wondering about what he describes as a “bad scene” in music right now. He and his band Bush performed Thursday night in Hammond, Indiana … and addressed the…

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July 23rd, 2017 by Staff Writer

Legendary singer-songwriter Randy Newman can’t quite explain why he wrote a song about President Trump’s dong … but it’s hilarious listening to him try. We got Randy at LAX, and our guy pressed him about the penis song … which he ultimately…

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