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A parenting expert said spanking is like breastfeeding. Science says that’s nonsense.

"Good Morning Britain" recently hosted two parenting experts for a fiery debate on the topic of spanking as a form of punishment.

One of the experts, Katie Ivens from the Campaign for Real Education, had some pretty strong words about why she believed physical punishment was not only OK but part of a healthy "tactile relationship":

"I’m saying we have a tactile relationship with our children; we hug them, we kiss them, we breastfeed them, and so on," she explained.

GIF via Good Morning Britain/YouTube.

Using an example from her own life, in which she described firmly "shaking" her kids to deter them from running into the street, Ivens argued that physical punishment not only works but is good for kids, the same way breastfeeding or hugging them might be.

Yikes. Unsurprisingly, Ivens’ advice is not grounded in any sort of scientific facts. (The CRE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Studies on spanking show it has a negative effect on children.

Joan Durrant, a child clinical psychologist and researcher from the University of Manitoba, puts it simply: "The research is really unequivocal at this point."

Though some of the benefits of breastfeeding may be exaggerated, it’s still a healthy, normal, and fruitful way for a mom to bond with her baby, all while providing vital nutrition. Spanking, on the other hand, has never, ever (did we mention ever?) been shown to have a positive outcome for children, according to Durrant.

Kids who are spanked are more likely to: show higher levels of aggression, display poorer mental health, have a worse relationship with their parents, perform worse in school, and have slower cognitive development.

"Any outcome that has ever been associated is a negative one," says Durrant. "The only thing [spanking] can do, and unreliably so, is make a child comply in the immediate situation. But the child doesn’t learn anything from that."

If the science is so clear, why does physical punishment remain so prevalent?

"Good Morning Britain’s" own informal poll, for example, showed over half of its viewers thought spanking was perfectly fine.

"We hand down this belief across generations," Durrant explains. "We tend to think that whatever happened to us, that’s the norm, that’s the way it should be. So we carry it on." She adds that corporal punishment can also be prescribed by certain religious beliefs, which are hard to change.

It’s understandable why some parents would resort to hitting or spanking, especially when it comes to our kids’ safety. Being a parent means being constantly on guard to keep your kids safe — so it’s not hard to understand why Ivens would give her children a good shake with the intention of deterring them from running into oncoming traffic. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right or best way to handle that situation.

The fact remains that spanking or shaking your kids is just not a good long-term strategy and will actively work against building a healthy relationship between parent and child. There are better, healthier ways to teach your kids to avoid danger and let them know when they’ve done something wrong.

Durrant suggests parents embrace the role of teacher and mentor rather than disciplinarian.

"Two things that are most critical to children’s learning and the parent-child relationship are what I call warmth and structure," she says.

Warmth means making your kids feel safe and supported. Imagine trying to study calculus while walking through a minefield — some environments just aren’t conducive to learning. While stopping harmful behaviors in kids is important, helping them learn why and how to regulate their own behavior is the better long-term approach.

Structure means understanding that learning takes time, kids’ brains can’t change overnight, and simply yelling, berating, or hitting cannot speed it up. It’s far better to exercise consistency in your teaching, and better yet, to consistently model the behavior you want your children to learn.

"So if one thing we want them to learn is how to regulate their emotions, the last thing we should do is show them how to hit people," Durrant says.

Hitting is not part of a healthy tactile relationship. It’s not like snuggling, holding hands, or breastfeeding.

It has never, ever been shown to do anything to improve the parent-child bond, and it is counterproductive for long-term learning. It’s time to listen to the science and consider effective alternatives.

It may be harder during those moments of intense frustration, but a calm and loving approach is better for everyone in the long run.

You can watch the full "Good Morning Britain" interview below:

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A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here’s what it looks like now.

In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country’s northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996. Photo by Dan Janzen.

The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

"It’s a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (R) and adjacent pastureland (L). Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area’s turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot. Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998. Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don’t want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it’s scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper’s senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area’s transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines. Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It’s a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.

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Thrilling penguin news! Chile is killing an iron mine that would harm the waddly birds.

Photo by farenheit75/Flickr.

Ah, Chile. While not typically top of mind for the average American, the unassuming coastal strip has quietly become a sort of … yang to our yin. The delicate floral sucking candy to our taste-bud-annihilating chocolate-caramel-peanut butter-sour-red-hot mouth bomb.

And, increasingly, they are the #RESIST window sticker to America’s MAGA hat.

While the Trump administration rolls back LGBTQ protections, Chile’s president is touting a marriage equality bill. While dozens of U.S. states are trying to regulate out as many Planned Parenthood clinics as the law will allow, Chilean lawmakers recently relaxed the country’s abortion ban, which was one of the world’s strictest (though their new law carves out several exceptions, the procedure is still largely banned in Chile, but still — progress!).

Now, the skinny South American nation is once again playing the U.S.’s bizarro world doppelganger — by siding with a bunch of penguins in a dispute with a mining company.

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

According to an AFP report, Chile recently killed a $2.5-billion iron-mining project to save the health (and, potentially, lives) of thousands of the waddly little birds.

The project was slated to be built just south of three islands where over 80% of the world’s Humboldt penguins live and would include a port to ship iron all over the world. A review by 14 agencies found that the plan failed to sufficiently guarantee that the animals would not be affected.

"We are not against economic development or projects that are necessary for the country’s growth, but they must offer adequate solutions for the impact they will have," Environment Minister Marcelo Mena told the AFP.

That’s not just the polar opposite of what the U.S. would do. It’s the polar opposite of what the U.S. government actually is doing.

Blowing up this mountain in Virginia to get at the coal underneath seems fine. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

In August, the Interior Department outlined a plan to prioritize oil extraction over efforts to protect the greater sage-grouse, a grassland bird that looks like the result of an unforgettable evening between a peacock, a porcupine, and a tarantula.

Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under President Trump, canceled an Obama-era rule designed to protect whales and sea turtles from fishing nets.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to blow up mountaintops so badly they’ve stopped studying whether doing so is detrimental to the health and safety of animals — and human beings — that live nearby.

It’s not just Chile stepping up either, at least where safeguarding the natural world we all share is concerned.

Just ask the 195 other countries that signed the Paris Climate Accord — which commits parties to holding the Earth’s temperature rise below two degrees Celsius — that President Trump announced the U.S. would soon be leaving.

It all adds up to a pretty clear message: The rest of the world is getting with the program, while the U.S. government is sitting here, arms folded, hoping rare birds can adjust to a coal dust and jagged pebble diet.

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

Want the U.S. to get back on the bandwagon? You can let your elected representatives know how you feel and help out groups, like the Environmental Defense Fund, that are pushing back against regulation rollback.

In the meantime, thanks to their friends in Chile, a few thousand penguins are getting to celebrate the news of a lifetime. It may not be happening in the U-S-of-A, but it’s a Hollywood ending all the same. (Anyone know how to say "Morgan Freeman" in Spanish?)

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She was told that extreme sports aren’t for blind folks. Now she’s proving them wrong.

And now she’s helping others do the same thing.

Nancy Stevens is an adventurer. She’s biked cross-country, walked the Grand Canyon, and climbed huge mountains.

Nancy also happens to be blind.

"I’m kind of a risk-taker, and I enjoy the challenge of it," she says.

Blind since birth, Nancy has never seen the view from the summit of a mountain she’s climbed or the ocean from a kayak she’s paddled. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had incredible experiences on each and every one of her adventures.

Nancy having a great time kayaking. Image via Nature Valley.

For Nancy, being out in nature, hearing the trees blowing in the wind, and feeling the kayak paddle cut through the water fills her with the same joy a sighted person might experience.

That feeling translates over to the many endurance sports she’s tried.  

"It’s fun to try different sports so that when I dream, I have all these experiences, and that’s part of my dreams," Nancy explains.

But she doesn’t just try her hand at sports, she pushes herself to the limit.

In 1998, Nancy competed in the Nagano Winter Paralympics in cross-country skiing. She also happens to be the first blind woman to climb the Grand Teton Mountain. When she sets her cap at achieving a new athletic feat, you better believe she’s going to make it happen.

Nancy at the summit of the Grand Teton. Image via Nature Valley.

Today, she’s using her fearlessness to help other disabled people set out on their own adventures.

She works as an outreach coordinator with Oregon Adaptive Sports, which organizes outdoor recreational activities to people with disabilities in order to help them be more active and independent.

Nancy hugging an Oregon Adaptive Sports member after a race. Image via Nature Valley.

If she can help people who also live with disabilities have unforgettable experiences, they’ll likely gain the confidence to try more exciting things.

One memorable example of this mission in action is Nancy’s friend Bruce. When she met Bruce two years ago, he had decided he was going to get rid of all his sports equipment because he was going blind and thought he wouldn’t be able to use it any longer.

"I was like, ‘Oh no no, don’t do that!’" Nancy recalls.

Pretty soon, Bruce was learning to ride a bike under Nancy’s tutelage, so he didn’t have to give up on his active lifestyle.

"It’s an amazing feeling," says Bruce. "I can focus on the sounds and the smells."

Bruce and Nancy after a bike race. Image via Nature Valley.

It’s not always easy to adapt, especially if a disability is new, but Nancy isn’t the type of person to give up on anyone.

She’s experienced discrimination because of her blindness, so she’s empathetic to people who might be struggling, but her purpose at Oregon Adaptive Sports is to push them forward. After all, you can’t achieve great things without stepping through a little fear.

Like with Bruce, it’s about showing people they’re capable of so much more than they thought. It’s about that feeling of crossing the finish line they never thought they could reach.

And as Nancy puts it, "That’s the kind of stuff you can’t experience from an armchair."

Nancy in a bike race. Image via Nature Valley.

Watch Nancy’s whole story here:

She’s taken on some of the most extreme sports in the world while blind. Now she’s helping others get out there and do the same.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, August 21, 2017

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Chelsea Clinton comes to Barron Trump’s defense after conservative criticism.

Come on, folks.

It’s not often that the Tucker Carlson-founded Daily Caller criticizes President Trump, but that changed on Monday when the site went after his son.

No, not Eric. Not Don Jr., either. The Daily Caller had a bone to pick with Trump’s youngest son, Barron.

Of all the things to raise the conservative outlet’s hackles, it wasn’t the president’s coddling of white supremacists, his failure to enact any major pillars of policy, or his snap decision to ban an entire population group from the military — but rather the fact that his 11-year-old son wears T-shirts and shorts on summer vacation.

To that, I have to ask: Are we still f-ing doing this?

In this photo from June, Barron wears jeans and a T-shirt. You know, like regular kids wear. Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images.

The article, "It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House" by Ford Springer, lambasted the youngest Trump for looking "like he was hopping on Air Force One for a trip to the movie theater" in a photo of the family returning from a recent trip. (The article also refers to President Trump, he of the ill-fitting suits and cartoonishly long ties, as "dapper" — so maybe Springer isn’t the best qualified person to write about fashion? Sigh.)

It was just a few months ago that we were all reminded that presidential children are off-limits.

When a "Saturday Night Live" writer made an insensitive joke about Barron Trump, the White House responded, news outlets (including the Daily Caller) covered it, and the writer was eventually suspended (again, covered in detail by the Daily Caller, so they definitely know that the whole "criticizing presidents’ kids" is a big no-no, right?). So why would the Daily Caller criticize Barron, and why would they do it now? Maybe it’s for the sake of consistency since they regularly targeted Sasha and Malia Obama?

Why are you doing the same thing you slammed others for doing, Daily Caller? Let’s at least agree to leave Barron and future presidents’ children out of it. GIF from "Saturday Night Live."

Respecting the privacy of the president’s children — especially those who are underage — isn’t a new concept. Back in January, Chelsea Clinton stood up for Barron after he received a barrage of hate and criticism around the time of the inauguration, writing, "Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does — to be a kid."

In response to the Daily Caller article, the former first daughter again came to Barron’s defense.

In conclusion, leave Barron alone. Seriously.

There’s a lot to criticize about Donald Trump, but no matter how you feel about him, leave his 11-year-old kid out of it. Barron didn’t choose what family to be born into, and he shouldn’t have to meet some arbitrary standards set by a complete stranger in the media. Growing up is tough enough as it is without having the world watching your every move, so let’s all agree to cut Barron some slack.

OK, it was about Britney Spears, but you get the idea. GIF from Chris Crocker.

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Finally, a white player knelt during an NFL protest — the biggest one so far.

Monday night’s NFL game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants wasn’t particularly consequential.

It’s still the pre-season — the games don’t technically count, new players are just getting their feet wet, and the matches unfold with a fraction of the fanfare we’ll see on display in October.

But if you happened to watch the game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Aug. 21, you may have witnessed a big moment in NFL history.

The largest NFL national anthem protest to date took place during the game, with nearly a dozen players kneeling in unison.

The league’s national anthem protests, which began last year, are focused on drawing attention to the social injustices faced by people of color.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

Another four athletes showed solidarity with their protesting teammates by standing alongside the huddled group, their hands placed supportingly on the kneeling players’ shoulders.

As Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer reported, Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Jabrill Peppers, and Christian Kirksey were among the handful of players who participated. But it was tight end Seth DeValve’s participation that’s especially noteworthy.

DeValve became the first white NFL player to protest by also kneeling during the national anthem on Monday night.

"We wanted to do something with our platform," DeValve told reporters after the game.

The kneeling players, he explained, chose to pray together instead of stand.

The Browns’ protest comes almost exactly one year after Colin Kaepernick first made waves for refusing to stand during the national anthem.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, had been a lone voice on the sidelines then, contributing his refusal to stand to the systemic mistreatment of people of color — particularly when it came to police brutality.

In the months since, Kaepernick, now a free agent, has had trouble signing with another NFL team. It’s a struggle, many have argued, directly resulting from his protests.

But the conversation Kaepernick helped get started on the football field shows no signs of fading away.

The Browns’ protest on Monday may have been the largest to date, but it wasn’t the first of the pre-season games.

Seattle’s Michael Bennett seemed to have picked up where Kaepernick left off, choosing to sit during the national anthem for his pre-season matches.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

"This is what I believe in," Bennett said of his decision. "Changing society, going into communities, doing organic work, and continuing to push the message that things aren’t fair."

Last week, teammate Justin Britt supported Bennett, by standing next to him and placing a hand on his shoulder in solidarity.

The continued protests are happening at an especially charged moment when it comes to race relations in the U.S.

It’s only been days since a car driven by a purported white supremacist struck a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The terror attack — which killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured at least 19 others — reflects the state of a country grappling with a growing resurgence of mainstreamed white supremacy and a president hesitant to condemn their ideology.

"Seeing everything in Virginia and stuff that is going on," Bennet explained, "I just wanted to be able to use my platform to continuously speak out on injustice."

The sports arena has long been a place for social discourse and political expression. It looks like the 2017-2018 NFL season will continue that important tradition.

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Donald Trump’s worst nightmare is running for governor of Maryland.

Krishanti Vignarajah is a force to be reckoned with.

"I hope Marylanders will agree the best man for the job is a woman," Krishanti Vignarajah announced, officially declaring her entry into Maryland’s gubernatorial race.

"I am running for Governor because I am worried my daughter will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family here when I was a baby girl."

Vignarajah has never held elected office before, but she was policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. On Aug. 9, she announced that her name would indeed be on the ballot in Maryland’s 2018 election.

Vignarajah, who helped launch Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative in 2015, wants to bring her passion for improved access to education to the people of Maryland.

In her campaign announcement, she lists education, the economy, drug addiction, infrastructure, and the environment among her priorities. Just as important, she says, "We need a new generation of leadership that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us."

A woman, an immigrant, and a new mother, Vignarajah embodies both the American Dream and the current president’s worst nightmare.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Vignarajah discussed her family’s journey (they fled Sri Lanka on the brink of civil war when she was nine months old for the U.S. with $200 in their pockets) and reflected on whether they would even be allowed to enter the country had their trip happened in 2017 instead of 1980.

"President Trump, he can demonize immigrants to our country, but the truth for me is there’s a family just like mine out there who applied, and they waited their turn, and they want to work hard and pay their taxes and raise a family and live a decent and safe life here," Vignarajah told Cosmo. "Just as immigrants before them have for generations. I know that that story is not only personal to my family, but it’s fundamental to the American experience."

2018 is shaping up to be a big year for women in politics.

It turns out that electing a sleazy, misogynistic, accused sexual predator president led a record number of women to take matters into their own hands and consider running for office. Go figure.

EMILY’s List, a group dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women, saw a huge jump in the number of women showing interest in running for office around the country. According to Vogue, 920 women expressed interest to EMILY’s List from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016; more than 16,000 have done so in 2017 alone. That’s massive.

On Jan. 21, women around the country took to the streets in protest of President Trump. The enthusiasm doesn’t seem to have let up. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Vignarajah’s advice to other women thinking about running for office? Just do it.

Though she did tell Cosmo that it’s important to "think long and hard about whether [running for office] makes sense," she cautioned prospective candidates against becoming paralyzed by indecision or overwhelmed by negativity.

"Don’t doubt yourself," she said. "As I was making the decision, there were a lot of considerations. But you have to listen to your heart. And for me, I know that I should run because I’m worried that my baby girl and all of our children would not have the same opportunities that I had growing up in Maryland."

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A major university in the South just removed its Confederate statues overnight.

Bravo, Texas.

The University of Texas at Austin quietly removed four campus statues honoring the Confederacy on Aug. 21, 2017.

Monuments of generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, as well as Confederate politician John Reagan and Texas’ 20th governor, Stephen Hogg, were hauled off campus overnight, just 10 days before fall classes start, The New York Times reported.

Preserving history is important, university president Greg Fenves said in a statement, but the symbolism behind those statues "run counter to the university’s core values."

"We do not choose our history," Fenves said. "But we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus."

The university’s swift decision comes amid a growing movement to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces.

Last week in Tampa, Florida, donations poured in to move a Confederate monument from the city’s downtown area. Organizers had 30 days to raise adequate funding to get the job done — they raised it in 24 hours.

The day before that, news broke that Baltimore removed all four of its Confederate monuments in a span of hours. The University of Texas followed in the city’s footsteps, taking action in the dead of night.

Workers place statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson on trucks in Baltimore. Photo by Alec MacGillis/AFP/Getty Images.

The push to remove Confederate monuments follows the deadly protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in reaction to the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. A believed far-right terrorist allegedly murdered counter-protester Heather Heyer with his car, injuring at least 19 others in the attack. Those events pushed the University of Texas to act.

In his statement, Fenves touched on a vital point about many Confederate monuments that often gets glossed over in the debate surrounding their relevance in today’s society: Those statues aren’t so much about honoring history as they are about upholding racism.

“Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues [at UT-Austin] represent the subjugation of African Americans," Fenves explained. "That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.”

Most Confederate statues, like the ones in Austin, were constructed with less than admirable intentions several decades after the Civil War.

The Civil War ended in 1865, yet the bulk of Confederate monuments were erected between 1890 and 1940, according to a the Southern Poverty Law Center. Another surge in statue construction occurred during the civil rights era of the 1960s.

A worker measures the Jefferson Davis monument in New Orleans ahead of its removal in May 2017. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Most of the new monuments coincided with "the height of Jim Crow, of state-sanctioned segregation, disfranchisement, and lynching," Purdue University history professor Caroline Janney explained to Business Insider. Their construction wasn’t so much to preserve history as it was to assert white supremacy in prominent public spaces.

"The fact that they were placed on the grounds of county and state courthouses was intentional," Karen L. Cox, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, told the Tampa Bay Times. "The message: white men are in charge."

To be clear, there absolutely should be a place for learning about the Civil War and Confederate leaders.

But it should probably be in classrooms and libraries — not via monuments that idolize the men who fought to uphold slavery.

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The 9 MVPs of this week’s horribly bittersweet episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’

Welcome to “A Song of Nice and Fire” Upworthy’s weekly series recapping one of the most brutal shows on TV. Since brutality is not really in our wheelhouse, Eric March has taken it upon himself to dig deep, twist and turn, and squint really hard to see if he can find the light of kindness in all the darkness. He may not always succeed, but by gosh if he won’t try his best.

Here’s what he found on this week’s "Game of Thrones."

Last week, Jon Snow and the magnificent seven-ish went striding beyond The Wall, into the unknown and certain danger.

So. How’d it go? Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

While Team Ice Eagle Justice technically achieved what it set out to achieve — capturing a white walker — in true Thrones style, it failed to do so without racking up some horrifically tragic collateral damage, paving the way for even more horrifically tragic collateral damage to come in next week’s season finale.

In such a boondoggle of an episode, it was hard to find MVPs. Still, I have to give credit in the vanishingly few places where credit is due.

Here are the MVPs of niceness and kindness from Game of Thrones, season 7, episode 6:

1. Tormund Giantsbane, who defended the honor of gingers everywhere

Honor. Dignity. Freckles. Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Though the witty banter of gruff dudes trekking through the snow proved particularly saltily entertaining this expedition, special points to Tormund for characterizing pale, freckled redheads as "kissed by fire." Representation matters! Even for pasty white people.

Tormund earns double points for puncturing The Hound’s self-serious facade for a second and a half, and triple points for giving the entire U.K. a much-needed post-Brexit morale boost.

2. Arya’s bag of faces, for enabling a medieval feminist fantasy

Sometimes when you snoop in your sister’s bedroom, you’re going to find something you wish you hadn’t, whether it’s a M-A-S-H note to your crush or a satchel full of flesh-covered masks.

Understandably, Sansa is a little disturbed when she finds exactly the latter under Arya’s bed.

But it’s hard to blame the tiny Stark assassin. As she explains — in typical "will I or won’t I eviscerate you" fashion — in 14th century Westeros, options are pretty limited for 11-year-old girls, unless you slice off a couple of old men’s faces and wear them as your own from time to time.

This, weirdly, makes a ton of sense, although perhaps slightly less than Sansa’s drive to become like Cersei or Littlefinger or Ramsay to get what she wants, albeit in more subtle ways than simply slipping their actual, literal faces over her face. Predictably, Westerosi misogyny dictates that the elder Stark sister also gets more grief about her version — sure, devisaging your enemies is a bit gauche in polite society, but taking on their personas is just so girly.

Until the wheel gets break’d, them’s the breaks, it seems.

3. Jon Snow, for falling into an obvious White Walker trap to make things more exciting beyond The Wall

When you stumble upon a small parade of zombies, and they’re suspiciously easy to beat, that’s a sign that holy crap you guys there are like 7 bazillion more zombies like 20 feet away hiding behind a rock is this the first time you’ve been here come on!

GIF from "Return of the Jedi."

The only explanation for such strategic idiocy is that Jon wanted to make it a fair fight — a really nice thing to do for viewers at home who’ve been looking forward to this showdown for a while.

Sadly, as a result, we also have to credit…

4. Thoros of Myr, who raised the stakes by freezing to death

Do we care about Thoros of Myr, the man-bunned priest who resurrects Lord Eyepatch every time he dies? Nah. Does it help illustrate the gravity of the threat facing our heroes to have a named good guy die after a season of close calls? Probably. Is it good that he’s the one who could, in theory, bring all of our heroes back to life if he wanted to, thereby negating the danger they’re facing entirely? Definitely!

Thanks, Thoros of Myr for taking one for the team and (correctly!) making us far less secure in our knowledge that everybody we care about is going to make it out of this in one piece. That’s good drama!

5. Daenerys, for arriving in the nick of time in weather-appropriate camouflage

Image via HBO.

When you’re trapped in the middle of a frozen lake, penned in on all sides by a powerful army of the undead and one of your buddies accidentally clues them in to the fact that they can safely lurch on over and chomp away at your viscera, it helps to have powerful friends. And boy do our crew of wight hunters have a powerful friend. Namely, Daenerys Targaryen, who comes swooping down on dragonback, having grabbed her Queen Elsa costume from Halloween 2014 off the rack to blend in with the scenery.

In true Thrones fashion, however, her brilliant military maneuver doesn’t stay brilliant for long, as props are due to…

6. The Night King, for saving HBO’s dragon CGI budget

Do you know how much money it costs to animate three dragons in flight for seven seasons of television? How many artists and programmers you have to hire? How much you have to dish out for late night craft services? The folks in accounting probably sent the biggest fruit basket of all time over to ol’ blue eyes for finally slimming that number down to two by impaling Viserion on an ice spear.

Ultimately, however, it was a short-lived act of budget consciousness, thanks to…

7. The Night King, again, for bringing Viserion back to life

Thanks, bud. Image via HBO.

What’s better than an army of insatiable killer zombies? An army of insatiable killer zombies plus one undead fire-breathing (ice-breathing?) dragon. Kudos to the Night King for plucking a third string dragon from the chorus line and turning him into a star.

8. Those random red shirts, who made everything possible

From dying unceremoniously under a pile of wights to spare our heroes the same fate to hauling a 7,000-ton dragon out of a frozen lake — red shirts on both sides of the battle really pulled their weight this week.

We will never know their names. But respect is better than fame.  

9. Cersei Lannister, for staying the hell out of it

Image by Helen Sloan/HBO.

Aside from ones involving methodically conjured mental and physical torture, few operations are made smoother by the presence of Cersei Lannister. Thankfully, she decides to sit this one out, hopefully getting in one last wine and rejoicing in the misfortune of her sworn foes session before next week’s queen-on-queen parlay.

It’s going to be awful, isn’t it?

Random Acts of Niceness

  • Jorah gives Jon back the sword that Jon gives to Jorah. Awful lot of poignant regifting this season.
  • Speaking of which, Arya gave Sansa Westeros’ most infamous dagger instead of stabbing her with it. That’s about as close to a hug-and-make-up we’re probably going to get from Arya, tbh.
  • Tormund finally admits his crush on Brienne and then doesn’t immediately die! It was so obvious he was going to die after that and then he just … doesn’t.
  • Also Jon and Dany are clearly falling in love and neither of them die! Young love can still blossom in this world without immediately devolving into tragic zombie devouring.
  • I think Tyrion is maybe inventing democracy? Maybe he can give the U.S. a few pointers?

That’s all! See you next week for the finale of a Song of Nice and Fire 2017, when presumably, Jaime and Cersei’s baby is born healthy and strong, Sansa and Arya launch a public speaking tour about the power of forgiveness, and the living and dead use The Wall for an epic game of volleyball.  

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What happens when you freeze the Earth? You get the first animals.

Life on Earth is tough as nails.

From the crushing, soulless depths of the ocean to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, from boiling hot springs to Antarctic wastes — even in the radioactive heart of Chernobyl, life thrives. It finds a way. It laughs in the face of adversity.

Turns out, that amazing tenacity is kind of our birthright as Earthlings. To understand why, you’ve got to go back to Snowball Earth.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus. 720 million years ago, Earth’s surface might have looked strikingly similar. Photo from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

720 million years ago, the Earth was a pretty different place. For one thing, it was in the icy grips of something called the Cryogenian period.

Living on Earth would have been tough. For 85 million years, the planet was locked in a grinding cycle of massive freezing and thawing. This was no mere chill. At its height, the entire planet may have been frozen over with glaciers marching over even the equator. The alternative? Greenhouse conditions caused by massive volcanic eruptions.

Sounds like a bad time to be around. And, yet, life didn’t just endure. This period happens to coincide with one of life’s greatest moments — the jump from single-celled bacteria and microbes to multicellular life. Plants, animals, mushrooms, just about everything you can see in your day-to-day life is a descendant of this great leap forward.

But this triumph in the face of adversity wasn’t a coincidence. At least, that’s what a new letter published Aug. 16 in the science journal Nature says.

Life didn’t just endure this cycle of ice and fire. It may have flourished because of it.

The reason, the authors say, has to do with algae. For the three billion years before, single-celled life had scrimped by on whatever energy and nutrients it could grab. There wasn’t much to go around.

But things were going to change. As the glaciers marched back and forth across the surface of the planet, they acted like giant belt sanders, grinding mountain into powder — powder that was chock-full of minerals like phosphates. When the cycle flipped and the volcanoes took over, the glaciers melted and dumped all those nutrients straight into the ocean.

Where the algae could get it.

Which then spread like never before.

Which was then food for everything else. Suddenly there was plenty to go around and life began to eat. And thrive. And change. And, over time, that life made the leap from tiny, lonely microbes to the ancestors of all the multicellular life we see today.

We don’t just endure hard times. They give us the fuel we need to grow.

This is just one possible explanation, but the scientists say it’s backed up by evidence. Chemical signatures in the rocks show a massive algal bloom around this time. Other ideas might come in later and disprove it, of course — that’s just how science goes.

But if this is true, then it just makes life on Earth that much more incredible.

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