Entertainment

A powerful letter from a 5th-grader to his teacher sparked an outpouring of love online.

Teachers: underappreciated since the beginning of time.Some of them might get summers off, but the long hours, constantly changing policies, and damn-near criminally low pay has educator morale lower than ever.As a country, we simply can’t afford for teacher turnover to be as high as it is. And not just because there won’t be anyone left to teach algebra.When we talk about educators, the mentorship and emotional support they provide students often goes overlooked.When Twitter user @mainey_maine — who says he’s a fifth grade teacher — posted this note from one of his students, the internet collectively burst into happy tears. So I walked in the classroom and found this letter on the desk that one of my kids wrote me and… I tried so hard not tear up pic.twitter.com/QTbQ6kZ2bH— . (@mainey_maine) April 24, 2017 The amazingly heartfelt note reads:”Thank you for being a awesome teacher and for being amazing! This school year was so fun and I enjoyed it because of you. I wish more teachers was like you. I will never forget you. I look at you like my Dad. I never met my real Dad but it okay because you treat me like I’m your son. You make me so happy. Always feeding me when I am hungry and hug me when I am sad. I will never forget you Mr. J. I love you and I will never forget about you!Love Markus”Let’s not even pretend it’s dusty in here and just admit we’re all openly weeping.The tweet went massively viral and responses have been pouring in.Fellow teachers were moved: @mainey_maine One of the reasons we teach – sure isn’t the $— Cynthia  (@CDTide) April 24, 2017 Others just wanted to say thank you. @mainey_maine Bless you for having that kind of an impact on a child! More people need to see this as an example— Carly (@nuclearcarly) April 24, 2017 @mainey_maine Congratulations—teaching is a calling and a gift. You have it— Dana Hull (@danahull) April 25, 2017 And others still just couldn’t stop crying. @mainey_maine aaaaand crying on a monday. you

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Marco Rubio comes to the defense of gay men in Chechnya in a fiery speech.

‘We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, or their sexual orientation.’
Marco Rubio surprised everyone when he took a stand for LGBTQ rights.On April 24, 2017, the Florida Republican — who’s been panned by human rights groups in the U.S. for his anti-LGBTQ stances on various issues, including marriage equality and same-sex adoption — used his time on the Senate floor to blast Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov for the republic’s heinous acts against gay and bisexual men. The speech makes Rubio the first senator (Republican or otherwise) to use the spotlight of the Senate floor to call out the inexcusable violations of human rights in Chechnya, which is part of the Russian federation. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images. A Russian newspaper reported earlier this month that Chechnya law enforcement had quietly detained at least 100 men with “nontraditional” sexual orientations and has since starved, tortured, and even killed multiple victims.“Unfortunately this is not a new reality for those living under the brutal tyranny of the Chechen leader, who, by the way, happens to be a loyal ally of Vladimir Putin,” Rubio told his fellow senators.Rubio continued:”There have been reports in the past of similar abuses, although these reports seem to be the most brutal and should provoke anger in all of us. We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, or their sexual orientation.”Since the first explosive report from a Moscow newspaper covering the abuses went viral, more disturbing information has trickled out of Chechnya. Several prisons have been created explicitly to detain gay and bisexual men, authorities refuse to publicly acknowledge LGBTQ people even exist in their republic, and one British leader alleged he’s heard that Chechen authorities hope to “eliminate” its gay population by the end of May.“The

Entertainment

Heineken's new ad gets totally political, and it's surprisingly great.

There’s some science to back up Heineken’s new ad campaign.
You won’t find parties, loud music, or scantily-clothed women in Heineken’s latest ad campaign. Instead, the beer company went in a wonderfully different direction. The company’s #OpenYourWorld campaign is the exact opposite of what we’ve come to expect from decades of beer ads. The premise of the new ad is simple: get two people who disagree with each other on a particular issue, place them in a room together, and let them talk it out over a beer. Image via Heineken/YouTube. The ad features people who disagree on issues like climate change, feminism, and transgender rights. There’s one important catch: The two people don’t know they disagree with each other when they first sit down.After a few minutes of getting to know each other, the pair is shown short videos that reveal their dissenting opinions on a particular topic. Drama! GIF via Heineken/YouTube. They’re then given a choice: They can leave, or they can try and hash out their differences over a beer. (It is a beer ad, after all.)What makes the ad so brilliant is the flurry of emotions that cross each person’s face immediately after the big reveal.”That’s not right,” one of the participants says in his pre-recorded video, taking a confidently anti-transgender stance. “You’re a man, be a man; or you’re a female, be a female.”As the tape rolls, the woman he’s been speaking with looks to the ground, appearing uncomfortable and anxious. She is transgender. It was a powerful, intimidating, and suspenseful moment. It looks like he’s about to leave, but does he? GIF via Heineken/YouTube. By the end of the ad, the man concedes that the “black and white” world he was brought up in is actually filled with more shades of gray than he’d been willing to give it credit for. His tone softens, and you can see that he’s considering the issue — and his drinking partner — in a whole new light.Is sitting down over a beer really enough to overcome our differ

Entertainment

Think beer commercials are sexist? You should see these 7 labels.

Breaking news: Lots of women enjoy drinking beer.Beer — craft beer in particular — is often thought of as a man’s game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some experts believe women actually invented beer, though you wouldn’t know it from the way it’s sometimes marketed today. GIF via matchpointHD/YouTube. Looks like every beer ad ever, right? It’s not just the overly sexed-up commercials that are crossing lines and alienating customers. It’s the names of the beers themselves.Panty Dropper. Leg Spreader. Thong Remover. As hard as it is to believe, those are real beer names.Thankfully, it looks like the craft beer industry has finally had enough of sexist and offensive brew names.Discontent with these kinds of labels has been brewing (yeah, I went there) for years, with both drinkers and brewers alike growing increasingly agitated by immaturity from a handful of breweries.Now the Brewers Association, one of the largest industry trade bodies, has finally updated its code to crack down on offensive names and labels like these. While it doesn’t have the power to officially ban them, the association can make sure offending breweries don’t use its awards, medals, or seal of approval to market beers with offensive labels. The move ought to discourage this kind of desperation to appeal to male drinkers, and it’s a small gesture that represents a bigger current of change.If all of this sounds a little like the fun-police at work, take a look at these labels. Some of them are pretty hard to stomach.The idea that the only way to appeal to men is through sexual innuendo is offensive to women and men.We can do better.1. Panty Peeler, Midnight Sun Brewing Anything else ready for summer adventures to begin? A post shared by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. (@midnightsunbrewingco) on Mar 26, 2017 at 10:15am PDT 2. Raging Bitch, Flying Dog Brewery Photo by Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr. 3. Naughty Girl, New Albanian Brewing Image by New Albanian Brewing. 4. Stac

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He noticed pit bulls weren't being adopted. So he grabbed a camera and got to work.

With snacks, peanut butter, and silly faces, this photographer brings a lighthearted look to dogs facing a heartbreaking issue.
What comes to mind when you think of a pit bull? Say “hello” to Hogan. All photos by Adam Goldberg/AGoldPhoto Pet Photography, used with permission. If you’re friends with photographer Adam Goldberg, it’s probably a nose covered in peanut butter, a tongue sticking out, or a head cocked to one side with a big smile. With every picture, Goldberg hopes to rewrite a damaging narrative about these sweet doggos — and help a few find good homes too. Ginger, who definitely loves peanut butter. While managing the Humane Society of Broward County’s website and social media accounts, Goldberg was asked to photograph some of the animals. Having only ever used the camera on his phone, he spent eight months teaching himself portrait photography and treating every animal at the shelter to a photo shoot.Part of Goldberg’s job was to increase public awareness of dogs that had been in the shelter for a while, and he quickly noticed a pattern in the types of dogs he was photographing and posting about on Facebook. “Nine times out of ten, they were pit bulls,” he says. Ned, a bull terrier with one heck of a smile. Leia’s attitude lives up to her namesake. Just 20 miles south of the Humane Society of Broward County, a breed-specific legislative line is drawn. In Miami-Dade, it is illegal to own any breed classified as a pit bull if you reside within the county. Rousey, who doesn’t quite live up to the ferocity of her collar. American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Staffordshire bull terriers are all banned under the “Pit Bull Law” as well as “any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds’ characteristics.” Breed-specific legislation like Miami-Dade’s can cause problems for dog owners. For a lot of people, relocating for a job or family can mean the difference between finding a home or keeping your pet. Stel

Entertainment

Beyoncé is not only celebrating talented women. She's paying them.

Get in formation and get information.
This week marks the first anniversary of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.” Do you remember where you were April 24, 2016? Of course you do. It was a cultural touchstone. It was the moon landing minus the conspiracy theories and white men. GIF via “Lemonade.” To celebrate, Beyoncé established college scholarships for women! More information after this celebratory Bey GIF! Dance break! GIF via “7/11” video. Formation scholars will be named for the 2017-18 school year to “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.” The awards are available to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in African-American studies, literature, music, art, or creative arts. Beyoncé scholars walking on the quad. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for NARAS. Four institutions were selected for the program, and one Formation scholar will be selected from each school. The colleges include Howard University in Washington, D.C., Spelman College in Atlanta, Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York City. Details, including the award amount and application deadlines, are available through each school’s financial aid or scholarship office. Me walking into the financial aid office. GIF via “Lemonade.” Queen Bey is benevolent, generous, and serious about lifting up black women. “Lemonade” was a love letter to black women and girls, a melanin-rich piece of art that couldn’t have come at a better time. Her tour raised money to support the families of Flint, Michigan. She spoke out against police violence after the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Then, she campaigned for Hillary Clinton in hopes she would work on solutions for criminal justice reform and policies to fight poverty and racism. Me to Beyoncé if we ever met and I had the wherewithal to speak. GIF via Recording Academy/Grammys. Wi

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Plastic trash is gross. These hungry caterpillars might be able to help us get rid of it.

We learn a lot by paying attention to the little things — in this case, the very little, bug-sized things.That’s what biologist and amateur beekeeper Federica Bertocchini noticed while tending to her beehives in Madrid.To keep her bees healthy and happy, Bertocchini has to remove pests that move into the hives, including a tiny beeswax-munching caterpillar known as the wax worm. A comb full of beeswax is a tasty meal for wax worms. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images. One day, Bertocchini was clearing out the worms, placing them in a plastic grocery bag. After working for a while, she discovered the plastic bag had developed a bunch of little holes. The worms were eating their way out!Plastic-eating caterpillars? Yep, they’re real.What’s a freak event to one person can be inspiration to a scientist. Bertocchini decided to put the little critters to the test.She rounded up some colleagues and gave the caterpillars more polyethylene bags to munch on. Polyethylene makes up about 40% of Europe’s plastic demand. Sure enough, the caterpillars started eating through those bags, digesting the plastic, and turning it into ethylene glycol, an odorless compound found in antifreeze.Taking a step back, Bertocchini’s team said this actually makes sense. The worms normally eat wax to survive, and wax and plastic aren’t that different, chemically. But this discovery could have big consequences for the environment.A new way to digest plastic could make a difference both on land and in the ocean.Humans love their plastic — plastic bottles, milk jugs, sandwich baggies — but unfortunately, we don’t pay that much attention to what happens after we use it. Scientists estimate 4 million to 12 million metric tons of plastic enters the oceans each year. Trash in Manila Bay in 2014. Photo from Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images And while ethylene glycol — what the worms are pooping out — isn’t exactly great for the environment either, the substance breaks down in weeks instead of the de

Entertainment

This delightful photo series highlighting young Muslims is so wonderfully pure.

As a professional photographer, Mark Bennington looks at thousands of photographs a day. But there was something he wasn’t seeing. The 47-year-old Bennington rarely saw images in the news or media that showcased Muslim people smiling, laughing, having fun, or simply being themselves. Instead, they’re often portrayed as sullen, serious, or even violent. The canon of images do little to show the full spectrum of emotions and needs of Muslim people. Muslims meet with an immigration attorney during a town hall meeting in Virginia. Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images. Lack of positive, affirming representation can stoke the flames of anti-Muslim representation, which can lead to more negative portrayals in the media. It’s a vicious cycle with serious consequences.Bennington, like many people, desperately wanted to change the conversation and highlight the people behind Islam, a religion of kindness, love, and peace. In the summer of 2016, after reading a piece in The New York Times documenting a Muslim family in New York, Bennington was inspired by the photography of photojournalist Chang Lee, who had captured the images. This was a Muslim family simply living their lives, and Bennington wanted to see more of it.”I really thought, let me see if I can do something here and get some images that would normalize that dialogue,” he says. So Bennington decided to use his art to help change the conversation.Bennington took a circuitous path to find his subjects, reaching out through Muslim friends and friends of friends. He was finally introduced to students in a Muslim student group at a local high school who were excited to take part in the project. All photos by Mark Bennington for “America 2.0” unless otherwise noted. Photos used with permission. “It just so happened that when I was reaching out to the community, the response back was from the youth,” Bennington says. “My original intention was not to focus on youth, but that’s who responded back.” His

Entertainment

She had always identified as mixed-race. Her DNA results changed that.

When Shayna Watson decided to get a AncestryDNA test to reveal her ancestry on her 30th birthday, she had a certain idea of what the results would look like. “I expected to see African, I expected to see a little bit of European, just based on colonization, and I definitely expected to see at least a little Native American,” she says. Watson had grown up with stories of her partial Native American heritage. In fact, her father had proudly shown her photographs of her grandmother on a Pequot reservation.  When Watson was asked, frequently, throughout her childhood and adulthood, “What are you mixed with?” in regards to her distinctive curly hair, she had responded with “Native American” — although she had never known for sure. Image courtesy of Shayna Watson. “I get my ancestry results back and there’s not even a drop of Native American,” she says.”It was a shock.”Immediately, she took a screenshot of the results and sent them to her mother, followed only by a question mark. Questions initially popped into her head — like “Am I adopted?” “Is my dad really my dad?” But that wasn’t it. She wasn’t adopted. And her dad was her dad. There was just more to the story. Screenshot of AncestryDNA results via Shayna Watson. “It made everybody kind of stop and recognize that a lot of the oral history that we know in our family may not be true,” she explains. “It opened up this conversation of whether my grandma was passing as Native American at the time.” That discovery led Watson to some difficult questions about her family’s history. Had her grandmother been told the same stories she had? Or did she have to downplay her African heritage because of the anti-black sentiment she faced?Watson continues, “I think what the DNA test did that was great for me and my family was that it kind of allowed a truth to be told without people having to tell the truth.” Screenshot of AncestryDNA map results via Shayna Watson. The experience has even inspired Watson’s mom to take her

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What Serena Williams wrote to her baby on Instagram and why it matters.

Serena Williams, the #1 tennis player in the world, probably the #1 tennis player ever, recently added “noted pregnant person” to her list of flattering descriptors. Photo by William West/Getty Images. Williams’ pregnancy became an especially big deal with the revelation that she won the Australian Open while growing a human inside her body — just another day at the office for the 23-time Grand Slam winner. America was faced with a choice. How could we continue to appreciate competition-slaying all-time sports great Serena Williams when she’s going to be, like, a mom now? How much more of this is in the pipeline? Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images. Fortunately, Williams cleared this all up for us by posting a selfie and writing a letter to her soon-to-be-born child on Instagram. The champ clearly has a handle on this whole parenthood thing even before she’s officially gotten there. My Dearest Baby, You gave me the strength I didn’t know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to join the players box next year. But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you…. once again today. On @alexisohanian bday.  from the world’s oldest number one to the world’s youngest number one. -Your Mommy A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Apr 24, 2017 at 6:06am PDT Here it is (emphasis added): My Dearest Baby,You gave me the strength I didn’t know I had. You taught me the true meaning of serenity and peace. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to join the players box next year. But most importantly, I am so happy to share being number one in the world with you…. once again today. On @alexisohanian bday. From the world’s oldest number one to the world’s youngest number one. — Your Mommy The letter makes it clear that Williams plans to go right back to kicking ass at tennis next year with her child cheering her on from the stands. Photo