How a Dying Ryan White United Washington on the AIDS Crisis

On June 25, veteran lobbyist Tom Sheridan published his first book, Helping the Good Do Better: How a White Hat Lobbyist Advocates for Social Change, an unvarnished view of the lessons learned by partnering with unusual political alliesfrom rock stars to Republicansto enact meaningful reform like the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990, which is featured in the excerpt below. For more stories from the likes of Bono, Ted Kennedy, and Tom, check out the website here.

APRIL 24, 1990. The world had just watched a boy die, one of the most impassioned advocates of his generation. Ryan White had just died of AIDS, and I was in the midst of a desperate battle to pass a bill that would provide care to others who were suffering from the disease. I had invited Ryans mother, Jeanne, to Washington to help me gather support for the bill, and we hit the halls of Capitol Hill.

We needed to add 14 senators as co-sponsors in order to get to the needed number of 60 so that Senator Jesse Helms, the homophobic arch-right-wing senior senator from North Carolina, wouldnt be able to filibuster. One of our main targets for the day was Senator Joe Biden. When he came out of the Senate chamber he looked hurried, clearly in no mood for chitchat. But I ran up and quickly got in a word. Ryan Whites mother had just flown in the night before. She was standing right behind me, and she wanted to speak to him. He stopped in his tracks and immediately took her hand. This act of intimacy took Jeanne and me both by surprise. Joe Biden is, in many ways, the quintessential charismatic politician, yet he, too, has suffered a great loss. In 1972as he prepared to be sworn in as a senatorBidens wife and daughter were killed in a car accident on the way home from picking out the family Christmas tree. His two sons barely survived, and Biden nursed them back to full recovery as a single father.

As I stood nearby, I heard Jeanne start her request for Bidens support. He stopped her midsentence. You dont need to tell me the pain of losing a child, he told her. I have been there, and there is nothing more painful a parent can experience. They both started to cry. Hell, even I started to cry. The world around us came to a complete stop. Senators came in and out, staff bustled around, but a protective bubble seemed to envelop us. Something magical was happening.

By the end of his deeply personal conversation with Jeanne, I knew that the power of Bidens and Jeannes shared passion, grief, and hope would be an unstoppable force if it could be harnessed on behalf of all the parents and families who had lost someone to AIDS. There is a strange peace and deep authenticity that comes with such painas if there is little else in the world that can hurt so much and, thus, nothing in the world left to fear.

Grief is a powerful force, and it animated the AIDS movement. If turned inward, grief can destroy lives and create further suffering. If turned outward, however, it can heal the deepest wounds, bring together fierce enemies, and birth what some might call miracles. Perhaps that is why the height of the AIDS epidemic, which is where this story begins, was at once so tragic and so miraculous. AIDS brought fear, shame, anger, and division to this country as it arbitrarily stole friends, family members, and colleagues. Yet, AIDS created a shared suffering. It cut across race, creed, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation and introduced a degree of compassion and humility that few could have predicted. In this sense, AIDS was the great leveler of our time. Our responseas individuals and as a countrywas a test of our common humanity. This excerpt tells the story of how we fared in that test, what we learned, and how these lessons may help us address the challenges ahead.

AIDS in the 80s was a wholly different disease than the one we know today.

In 1984, a 13-year-old hemophiliac contracted a mystifying illness from a contaminated blood treatment. Ryan White was, like most people diagnosed with AIDS, given six months or less to liveit was a death sentence. Back in his hometown in Indiana, he tried to return to school but faced enormous opposition: beyond taunts, threats, and abuse, parents and teachers organized and rallied to prevent him from attending school. At the time, there were fewer than 150 cases of pediatric AIDS in the country and being diagnosed with the disease carried an enormous social stigma. But Ryan was undeterred. He and his family fought back against the school. As Ryans case gained attention, celebrities like Elton John, Michael Jackson, and Phil Donahue took up support of his legal battle. Along the way Ryan White became a national celebrity and advocate for AIDS education and research. AIDS in the 80s was a wholly different disease than the one we know today; it was not chronically managed, widely understood, or accepted. It was lethal, highly stigmatized, and characterized by a national mood of crisis, desperation, anger, and scornful discrimination.

If we had had the luxury of time, I could have spent more of it debating options and crafting compromises, but a ticking clock in 1989 was a death sentence for so many. We had made our decisions, and now it was time to get down to work.

Thankfully, we had a heavy hitter on our team: Senator Ted Kennedy had emerged as a leading AIDS advocate. In May 1987, he introduced the AIDS Federal Policy Act (S. 1220), which sought to provide funding for testing, counseling, research, and patient access to experimental drugs. It passed the Senate, but similar House bills that year didnt fare as well. Despite herculean efforts by many tireless people, at that moment we couldnt see much progress. Yet these early defeats taught us to do our homework and forced us to rework the content and language of the bills, in order to be better prepared for next time.

Ever so slowly, we could sense something start to shift: A small number of legislatorslike Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), Representative Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Representative Ted Weiss (D-NY ), and Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA), whose districts were facing major public health disasters, were becoming more powerful advocates. But there was a bigger reason why 1988 was a tipping point when momentum behind the AIDS crisis quickly gathered speed: the epidemic had become much more widespread. Sadly, it was only after the death toll mounted that more and more family members and friends joined us in demanding a more effective and compassionate response to the AIDS crisis. It was during this time that AIDS began to touch my life personally; my partner, Vince, had an ex-boyfriend who suddenly became ill, an alumnus from our Mondale campaign team died, and another dear friend, unable to even tell us he had AIDS, stayed with us as he got sicker and sicker.

As painful as these deaths were, the stories of desperation and anger of hundreds of thousands of Americans (not just gay men) who were being affected by this epidemic created a powerful chorus. Stories were voiced by more and more people, at an increasing volume. These were the voices that needed to be heard on Capitol Hill. These were the people who would finally silence Helms. And so, for the next two years, we went to work on giving them the biggest amplifier we could findit was time to truly do battle.

As 1989 dawned, National Organizations Responding to AIDS (NORA) refined its efforts to focus on three measurable goals. First, win appropriations for AIDS research. Second, pass civil rights legislation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And third, expedite the FDAs process for approving experimental AIDS drugs.

That year also marked the beginning of a new Congress (the 101st) and a new administration under President George H. W. Bush. In December 1988, the NORA leadership arrived early to a large conference room in the transition teams offices in D.C. The doors finally swung open, and in walked the president-elect. We were shockedwe had not expected to see him in person; we had prepared to meet with some of his staff. We gathered ourselves and made our pitch. He listened intently and then pledged to do better on this issue. The bizarre moment seemed to offer a glimmer of hope toward opening a dialogue.

But contrary to his pledge to do better, Bush allotted no new money for AIDS in his proposed fiscal year 1990 budget. This was largely a continuation of Reagans policy of avoiding AIDS, but it also perpetuated the previous eight years of slashing and burning the domestic budget. The budget and appropriations process in this kind of environment was going to be brutal. All the AIDS bills in the world wouldnt mean anything if they never got funded.

Prevention was a trickier matter because it meant talking about condoms and homosexuality and drug abuse.

There was also growing concern by other health groups that we (the AIDS lobby) were going to take some of their funding especially at the NIH.

We soon started to realize that we couldnt just keep funding research. We had to get out of the white coats and stethoscope modewhich was the only safe place to be politicallyand start helping the organizations trying to care for people with AIDS. The practical measure of successful public policy is always public benefit, and that was singularly missing from the AIDS policy debate up until that moment. Thus, we began a conversation with a small group of AIDS policy experts. One of the first recommendations from these discussions was that we take on entitlement reformthat is, we should make Medicare and Medicaid more accessible for AIDS patients so they would not have to wait 24 months to be considered disabled to qualify for Medicare or to spend down all their money to poverty levels to qualify for Medicaid.

Prevention was a trickier matter because it meant talking about condoms and homosexuality and drug abuse. Any attempt at a serious and meaningful prevention strategy was sure to bring Helms and company to the party. We knew an all-out confrontation over AIDS prevention was unlikely to be winnable. Practicalities are not always easy to embrace, especially when shelving a critical element of your public health strategy will result in more people infected with HIV. But, in the final analysis, care offered our best and possibly only chance to win.

Part of the process we used to reach this conclusion was a strategic meeting with key members of Congress and their senior staff. When I would discuss the matter with Orrin Hatch, he told me frankly that he couldnt support us on most of the prevention issues but that he did care about how these people [AIDS patients] were treatedespecially in their final days. This sort of care for sinner without condoning the sin philosophy was fairly typical of Christian conservatives, who were at their apex of power at the time.

I started to realize that we could win over these pragmatic and more compassionate conservatives like Orrin Hatch (as well as the fiscal conservatives who hated entitlement programs) if we could create a cost-effective model that relied on early intervention and outpatient/community/home-based care, one that could act as a bridge from work to disability. If we could get conservatives to come to our side strictly on the merits of public health and fiscal arguments, then this could really be the next frontier for a major AIDS bill. However, first we had to know what was really needed in terms of care on the front lines.

In February 1990, Kennedy, Hatch, and 26 other co-sponsors introduced S.2240, the Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990. Elizabeth Taylor joined Kennedy and Hatch for a widely covered introductory hearing and press conference to announce the bill and promote its swift passage.

The next day, we sent out an action alert to the NORA coalition, requesting letters in support of CARE. It seems so antiquated now, but back then it was cutting-edge stuff: in a few hours we could inform organizations and individuals around the nation that an important action was getting ready to happen (mostly thanks to our knowledge of votes in committee or on the floor). Once our action alerts hit the fax machines, massive phone trees, and phone banks were deployed to help fill up phone lines and message pads with our support or opposition. When NORA got big that meant one action alert would go to 120 organizations who would then fax the alert to their field and they would begin the phone or letter campaign. At our best we could put a few hundred calls or letters in a congressional office within 48 hours. It was considered revolutionary back then.

All during March and April, letters poured in from AIDS service organizations all around the country. Efforts like this in other issue areas would have cost millions of dollars and taken years to create, so in this sense, the structure of the coalition worked brilliantly.

In early April 1990, the battle over AIDS funding had reached its zenith in the Senate. We were poised for CAREs markup hearing before the Senate Committee on Labor, Health, and Welfare. Despite Kennedy and Hatch as co-sponsors, the long-term prospects didnt look good. Even though we hadnt yet realized it, we needed help. We needed a superstar. And we found him in Ryan White.

It was Senator Hatch who suggested the bill be named in honor of Ryan.At this point, Ryan was dying. A week earlier, Ryan had been admitted to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis with a severe respiratory infection. He had to be placed on a ventilator and sedated.

While we immediately agreed that this was a noble idea, I remember worrying that we might offend Jeanne by using the publics sympathy for her son to gain political traction. I suggested that Senator Kennedy call Jeanne to ask her permission. I had no idea how she would react. Here she was, this young single mother from small-town Indiana, whose family had been thrust into the national spotlight just five years earlier. Now she was at her sons deathbed about to be interrupted by a relative stranger (albeit one of the most powerful politicians in the country) six hundred miles away in Washington who wanted to use her dying sons name to help win a fierce political battle over AIDS policy.

Senator Kennedy and Senator Hatch each spoke with Jeanne briefly and explained the situation. Well, Im not sure what to say, I remember her saying. I mean, I guess that would be great. Ryan would be honoredwe would be honored. That would be terrific. Can you do that? Will this really help? Secretly, I wondered if Jeanne truly understood the enormous act of generosity she was committing and the legacy that Ryans name would bear. But Senator Kennedy hung up with a satisfied smile. Lets get to work, he said as he stood up abruptly and headed toward the committee room. He strode in, called the committee to order, and without hesitation, they renamed the bill for Ryan and put the final touches on the most important AIDS legislation ever considered by the U.S. Congress.

It wasnt until we were ready to bring the bill to the full Senate the following week that we ran into problems. Senators Jesse Helms, Gordon Humphrey, and Malcolm Wallop and a handful of other Republicans said they would immediately block it from going to the floor, and George Mitchell, then Senate majority leader, acquiesced, saying he just didnt know if he could find time in the Senate calendar to withstand a filibuster.

In the 90s, filibusters were rarely used, and they were considered an extreme tactic in legislative negotiation. Those 72 hours represented precious time, which would not be squandered for a losing cause. The clock was ticking: we had to pass the bill in the Senate, get it through the House, and then get it through a conference committee by September in order to get it signed before the federal budget was completed for the year. We might well get the entire Congress to agree on a huge new AIDS programonly to miss the budget negotiation and therefore lose out on funding.

I went to Senator Bob Doles officehe was then Republican minority leaderand met with his chief of staff, Sheila Burke, to see what could be done. Sheila had been a nurse and understood the severity and human toll of the AIDS crisis. She was also in charge of the very delicate task of protecting the rights of Republicans as the minority party. Though she was harshly criticized for iteven years laterSheila helped us figure out how to isolate Helms and his colleagues so we could get the majority of Republicans to go along with Ryan White. Sheila assured me that we had to prove that we could mobilize a super majority (60 senators) to break any attempt at a filibuster by Helms. As it stood, we had barely 40 co-sponsors, and the list was largely Democratic. I buried my head in my hands and sighed. I had a queasy feeling that good might not prevail this time.

The rest of the day flowed in a surreal fashion: as senators came out of the chamber, we picked them off one by one. By 7 oclock that evening, we had gone from 42 senators co-sponsoring the bill to 61.

Then, something both tragic and miraculous happened. That Sunday, April 8, Ryan White died. News of his death reached the major news outlets before I even had a chance to call Jeanne. Knowing she would be flooded with calls of sympathy and with the painful business of funeral arrangements, I decided to wait a week before reaching out. Finally, on April 16, I called her and listened to her describe her last few days at Ryans bedside. She finished, and I remained quiet for a moment. Then, I began, Jeanne, I know this is a difficult time and Im not sure how to even ask this but we need you here in Washington. We dont have the support we need yet for the CARE bill, for Ryans bill, and I need you to come and talk to some senators here.

With little hesitation, she said, Okay, Ill comebut I cant leave now; I have to do laundry. We agreed shed leave the next day. I hung up and called the airline to book her ticket for the next flight from Indianapolis. Realizing suddenly that we didnt have a working credit card anywhere in our possession, I ran around frantically asking everyone I could think of for their credit card number. They must have thought I had finally lost my mind. Thankfully, a donor to AIDS Action came through.

I picked Jeanne up late the next day. With no organizational funds for hotels, we hosted her in our guest room that night, and the next day we took a cab straight to the Capitol. I briefed her on the way over. She asked only a few questions and was calm and quiet. I sensed something had shifted in her. She seemed stoic and anxious. We arrived at the Senate entrance to the Capitol Building and began to climb the sprawling marble steps that lead to the main Senate chamber. It was then that she had that first incredible conversation with Senator Biden.

The rest of the day flowed in a surreal fashion: as senators came out of the chamber, we picked them off one by one. By 7 oclock that evening, we had gone from 42 senators co-sponsoring the bill to 61one more than the magic number we needed.

We gained more than just Ryans bravery, or his sudden celebrity, when he lent his name and spirit to the CARE Act. It helped us circumvent the misinformation, hysteria, and rampant homophobia associated by many with the disease, since most Americans viewed Ryan as an innocent who contracted this deadly illness despite doing nothing wrong. These are not and were not my thoughts, but those prejudices mattered in the politics of the moment. Even so, Ryan and his family embraced the gay community and rejected this dichotomy of innocent versus guilty. Ryan made it clear that AIDS was no divine retribution for immoral acts of homosexuals, and he made it impossible for legislators to ignore the disease. Looking back, I wonder if there were forces at work beyond our understanding. I cant help but think that Ryan Whites deathand the grief of so many other losses that we spotlighted on the Hillwere sacrifices that took CARE from a pipe dream to a reality and changed history.

Despite Jeannes heroic efforts in building a filibuster-proof majority, we still had a ways to go. I asked Jeanne if she could stay a few more days. She agreed. Then I called Tim Sweeney in New York. He said he would send out an alert immediately to GMHC clients family members to see how many would be willing to come to Washington on short notice. We bought 75 seats on an Amtrak train car and started loading people up in Boston, then continued on to New York, Philly, Baltimore, and then finally D.C. At each stop the car filled with friends and family members of people who were living with, or had died from, AIDS. Jeanne White marched the group of mostly middle-aged and elderly women straight to the Senate visitors gallery, where they stayed until Senator Mitchell came to the floor around 7 p.m. and announced that he would call up the CARE Act. We had survived the first several rounds of political wrangling. When the final vote came on May 16, it passed hands down95 to 4 in favor, with one not voting. But we were far from cracking open the champagne. Once CARE suddenly looked even more viable, people started coming out of the woodwork with requests.

These were very explosive times. The high-stakes dynamic created political theater and opportunity. One major source of drama was the group ACT UP, an extreme left-wing activist group. The stunts they orchestrated that spring as CARE was weaving its way through Congress were legendary.

On May 21, 1990, ACT UP stormed the campus of the National Institutes of Health, throwing blood around the lobby and breaking down the door of the directors office. It was unclear to all but the ACT UP members if this blood was human and if it was infected with HIV. In fact, it was pigs blood and posed no threat, but it horrified NIH scientists and bureaucrats. I got a good talking-to by members of Congress, who reminded me that they were inclined to be supportive but not if the community continued these kinds of antics. The following September a group of ACT UP members created a giant condom (out of latex balloon), rented a cherry picker truck, and stretched it over Senator Jesse Helmss home in suburban Virginia. This stunt got me more than a few tongue-lashings from senators in both parties.

Sometimes, ACT UP would even target us. The job of the activist is to demand and push the margins; the job of the lobbyist is to get a majority while holding on to key principles but knowing you have to compromise to get the votes to win. This understandably resulted in some tension between our two groups. Once, when Pat Christen was pregnant and giving a presentation, an activist ran onto the stage and dumped a box of used cat litter on her head (an obvious attempt to scare her, since toxoplasmosis, which cats can carry, can be harmful to fetuses). On another occasion, at a meeting at AIDS Actions offices, the local ACT UP group burst through the doors and handcuffed all of us to the conference tabletrying to symbolize the fact that we were complicit in handcuffing people with AIDS to outdated regulations that kept lifesaving treatments off the market.

Every time ACT UP pulled something new, I tried to use the opportunity to remind members of Congress that unless I could work with them to produce some modicum of progress on AIDS policy, actions like this were likely to persist. While the left wing was mostly about street theater and rage, about disrupting ambivalence by shocking people into attention, the right wing expressed its opposition in an overtly political fashion aimed mostly at fund-raising and winning elections. Over time, as I spoke with more members and their constituents, I began to realize how turned off most people were by both extremes. The crazier the crazies became, the more members wished to be associated with a moderate middle ground.

In the case of the Ryan White Act, allowing the left to shout and the right to make demands made both sides feel like they were being heard.

I began to develop what I call the airplane theory, which is a simple rule for managing issue-based campaigns. It goes like this: To fly an airplane, you need a left wing and a right wing. If either wing is missing, the plane wont fly. The smart strategist recognizes that they are the pilot. The pilots job is to manage the rage by allowingeven facilitating, if necessaryan irrational left wing in order to pressure the right wing to make concessions. Meanwhile, the pilot can use the presence of right-wing ideologues to encourage politicians to support a more moderate position. Novice strategists frequently spend too much time and create too much drama trying to control the extremes. My advice is simple; you cant control it, so use it!

In the case of the Ryan White Act, allowing the left to shout and the right to make demands made both sides feel like they were being heard. This ultimately allowed the bill to represent a true moral consensus in a way that few other bills have since then. Orrin Hatch wanted to help people who were dying, even though he is a fiscally and socially conservative Republican; Kennedy saw the great injustice of the AIDS epidemic and used his considerable skill and reputation to address it.

After CARE passed the Senate, we waged a similar battle on the House side. The process for moving legislation in the House is much simpler than the Senate. House bills go through the Rules Committee, and they decide how a bill will be called to the floor, what amendments will be in order, and what the time and debate allocations will be. When a bill leaves the Rules Committee, all the legislative maneuvering is planned. In this context especially, the powerful Democratic chairman of the House Subcommittee on Health, Henry Waxman, was a master. He got the bill out of his subcommittee past a Helms-like Republican named Bill Dannemeyer. He got the powerful Democratic chairman of the full committee, John Dingell, to push the bill through committee, which is one of the most intense moments when negotiating a bill to its final version.

After several more days of back and forth, the House and Senate approved the final version of the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990 on August 4. The only thing left was to make sure President Bush signed itwhich was still far from a given. Some members of the Bush administration didnt like the way the CARE Act was crafted. It was very prescriptive, and it forced federal action in very fast time frames. There had been times in writing the bill when I had deep cooperation from people embedded in the agencies, but Id also had some of the more political types threaten me with veto warnings. Up until that moment Id ignored them; now I could not. In a very matter-of-fact way, I told Bushs chief counsel Boyden Gray that, should the president choose to veto or threaten to veto the bill, ACT UP would join forces with Jeanne White and all of the mothers whod come to the Senate, and theyd meet at the front gates of the White House to express their outrage. He listened politely, and I never heard any more objections.

Bush finally signed the bill on August 18 while on Air Force One somewhere over Missouri on his way to Texas. The administration had refused to do a public signing in the White House or to let Jeanne come to the private signing. I will never know whether President Bush was determined to spite us or if his staff recommended that he not sign the bill publicly. The pettiness of it all left us with a bitter taste, but we didnt need White House fanfare to understand the magnitude of what we had accomplished.

The day the Ryan White CARE Act was signed into law, I left my office at AIDS Action and drove with Vince down to our summer home in Lewes, Delaware. I go to Lewes often to gather myself, rest a little, and think. I remember arriving that late summer afternoon, getting a glass of wine, sitting down on the front porch with our golden retriever, Crosbyand crying. I honestly dont know why I cried. Im Irish; we dont cry unless its watching coffee commercials at Christmastime. I think it was mostly happiness, a sense of pride and relief, and an expression of the grief I felt for so many but didnt have time to reveal. All of it came over me in that one quiet moment. I knew that what we did was remarkable, but the awareness that is was historic would come later. At the final moments of this great victory, I was only looking at the future and hoping to do more.

From the book Helping the Good Do Better. Copyright (c) 2019 by Tom Sheridan. Reprinted by permission of Twelve/Hachette Book Group, New York, NY. All rights reserved

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Bride’s Viral Story Of Mother-In-Law Wearing WHITE To Her Wedding Is A MUST READ! – Perez Hilton

This story is not going where you think it is.

You may have seen a photo going around in the last 24 hours of a wedding with what appears to be two brides.

As Amy Pennza posted on Twitter Wednesday, one of these women is her at her own wedding — the other is her mother-in-law wearing an extremely BRIDE-like dress!

Do you NEED to know more?

We totally did.

Thankfully, Amy is a professional writer — and when the Internet asked, she delivered a spectacular backstory behind the viral pic.

So, a couple people have asked for the story behind The Dress. Sorry for the delay! I have four kids (yes, I married him) on summer break, so my permanent state of being is “frazzled.” I called my daughter “mom” the other day.

LOLz! Been there!


But she was up to the task and delivered a Twitter tale complete with twists and turns.

She wrote:

I didn’t know what my mother-in-law planned to wear. I didn’t think to ask.

The morning of the wedding, all the women in the bridal party cram into a tiny room in the church. You know, body glitter and hairspray everywhere. Fifteen coats of mascara. Putting napkins under your pits so you don’t sweat on your dress.

She walks in. I see it.

I don’t remember much about the day. Most people say their wedding is a blur, and that’s true for me, too. But I know I said this: “You… You could be the bride…”


Later, my sister (matron of honor) said she didn’t pull me aside and talk about it because she hoped I was too distracted to notice. My college roommate (bridesmaid) said the same thing.

But secretly, they both spent the reception looking at me, then each other, then MIL, then me, then the cop the venue made us hire—hoping I didn’t go for his taser.

I’m happy to report the wedding unfolded without bloodshed, or anyone being shoved into the champagne fountain.

Not only that, the marriage has gone well — so well Amy now has a much better understanding of her mother-in-law.

Here’s the thing: My mother-in-law is extremely frugal. And I don’t mean she just enjoys a good bargain. To understand her, you have to know where she comes from.

She grew up in extreme poverty. As a child, she used to sneak into the kitchen and eat match heads. That’s a pica craving, and kids do it when they’re malnourished.

When you grow up with nothing, it stays with you. Forever, I think. No matter how much money you earn, there’s always that little fear in the back of your mind that someone might take it all away.

But her upbringing didn’t make her hard. Or cruel. Or selfish.

Not the type to try to steal her daughter-in-law’s big day, in other words…

However, she’s a bargain hunter to the bone. Her money saving strategies are legend—and often hilarious. At family gatherings, we amuse ourselves telling stories of crazy shit she’s done to save money.

For example, she takes the olives and celery out of a Bloody Mary and saves them for salads.

She once walked casually to the table where I was eating a subway sandwich and put my discarded cold cuts in a baggie because “someone will eat them.”

Sound like any mommas you know?

Amy writes:

When Sally Jesse Raphael was popular, she didn’t have the money to buy red glasses, so she painted hers with red nail polish.

“I still have those,” she says.

Hey a classic never goes out of style. / (c) YouTube

She was so excited to turn 60, so she could claim her discounts. As long as there’s a bargain involved, she doesn’t care about getting older.

When my husband and his sisters were young, and they went to dinner, she’d try to get coupons back from the server so they could reuse them.

She always has a plastic water bottle in her purse. At restaurants, she’ll fill up her bottle with water from the table. “Why not? I’m paying for it.”

She brings her own mint and lime to restaurants because “the bartenders don’t know how to make a good Mojito.”

That one isn’t so much about money, it’s about taste.

But continue…

When my daughter drinks ice water, my mother-in-law makes her put the empty glass on the counter. “Leave the ice in there…it’ll melt and make more water.”

And the dress? You guessed it. It was a great deal.

So when she spotted The Dress at an incredible bargain, she couldn’t turn it down. If you ask her now, she says she feels terrible about it.

Although, she also told me, “I think I’ve still got it. We should raffle it off.”


She’s frugal. But she’s also incredibly generous. When my twins were newborns, she drove across town every night, slept on the sofa, and did three feedings. For two babies. Every night for months.

She regularly shows up at my house with bags of new clothes for the kids. (Because she’s a kick ass bargain hunter.)

When I got my first job, she hemmed all my work pants because I can’t sew for shit. And because she was proud of me.

She never misses a band concert, sports event, talent show, science fair…you name it. She’d walk over hot coals for her grandchildren. She gives them everything. Because, you know, she grew up with nothing.

This is so sweet! You guys, we did NOT expect that when we started reading!

So, yeah, the wedding dress was a shock. But it gave me a pretty funny memory. No one who attended has ever forgotten it. And, you have to admit, weddings can be forgettable.

Ha! True.

Sure, she wore a wedding dress to my wedding. But she has more than made up for it since. When I told her about this getting a lot of attention, and said I worried it might hurt her feelings, she waved it off. “Whatever makes me famous.”

And, because I’m a romance author, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add: And they lived happily ever after.

Awwwww! So sweet!

And, after her mother-in-law’s heart, way to segue into a shameless plug! We got you, gurl!

Amy Pennza is a romance writer alright! Though we doubt her work has anything as wholesome as the tale you just read…

She’s the author of some choice looking erotica, including sexy werewolf books called the Lux Catena series.



You can find it all at!

[Image via Twentieth Century Fox/YouTube.]

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Black Women Are 3 Times As Likely To Die In Childbirth, And Kamala Harris Has A Plan

The only place Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has time to read anything that isn’t one of her briefing books is when she’s on a plane. In April 2018, Harris saw a harrowing story in The New York Times Magazine detailing the unique horrors of maternal mortality for black women.

“For black women in America,” the article reads, “an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions — including hypertension and pre-eclampsia — that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death.”

“It was devastating,” recalled Harris to HuffPost this week. “When I was able to see to the numbers, it propelled me. It prompted me to do something.”

Women living in the U.S. have higher rates of maternal mortality than those in other high-income countries, due, in part, to the disproportionate rates of pregnancy-related deaths for black women. A recent CDC study found that black women are 3.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. This means that for every 100,000 live births, nearly 43 black women will die.

The disparity cuts across class and educational lines: Following the birth of her daughter, Serena Williams suffered a pulmonary embolism, among many other potentially fatal complications. A nurse brushed Williams off when she initially sought treatment. Beyoncé was on bed rest for six weeks due to preeclampsia — a sudden jump in blood pressure during the later stages of pregnancy, for whichblack women are disproportionately at risk — before having an emergency C-section.

Harris forwarded the Times article to her staffers and encouraged them to read it with the intent of figuring out what could be done legislatively. Nearly a year before, in the summer of 2017, Harris had read a Vox article about Stanford University’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, an initiative that collects data on maternal health, identifies preventable complications and then figures out next steps. She sent her staff that one, too. 

Every day we wait, every day we don’t address it, is a day that a mother could possibly die. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)

Her team got to work on what would evolve into the Maternal CARE Act, a bill comprising three key components that address the issue of black maternal mortality through a systemic lens. The legislation aims to make providers aware of any underlying racial biases they hold via implicit bias training, to commission a national study to develop ways to institute that training more broadly and to establish care programs that provide integrated services to pregnant women and new moms.

The bill, to be reintroduced in the coming weeks, is part of a current onslaught of legislation attempting to address the issue of black maternal mortality. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the MOMS Act, a complement to Harris’ bill, in January. In March, Illinois Democrats Rep. Robin Kelly and Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth reintroduced the MOMMA’s Act.

The following month, Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.) launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus in the U.S. House. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) explained how she plans to tackle black maternal mortality as part of her 2020 presidential platform.

Pressley then introduced the MOMMIES Act in May, a companion bill to legislation Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) initially introduced last year.

“I can’t sit by, knowing this is something that is happening, and not do something about it,” Harris said.

Harris didn’t simply send the articles out to her staff and sit back waiting on someone to hand her a finished piece of legislation.

“She made sure we all read it,” said Rohini Kosoglu, Harris’ Senate chief of staff. “‘This article came out, have people seen it?’ We sent it around, then she would follow up: ‘Have you guys read it?’ [and] have a conversation about it.”

The senator wasn’t checking in every day. But every few weeks, often when it was least expected, she would inquire as to the status of the bill. “She wanted to make sure that we’ve identified an issue — people are hurting who are vulnerable people — and that we are sticking to a decent timeline to get this all done and out,” said Kosoglu.

“Every day we wait, every day we don’t address it, is a day that a mother could possibly die,” Harris said. “Or just not receive the kind of health care that can lead to the best outcomes in terms of her health and the health of her baby. I take it very seriously.”

Harris has always been acutely aware of disparities in women’s health. Throughout her life, she listened to her mother, breast cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan, discuss how health issues affecting women of color aren’t given the same level of attention.

“The fact of it is not shocking, but to see … the documentation of it and the unfairness of it — it’s just so wrong,” said Harris. “You don’t have to scratch the surface of this issue very deep to know it is literally all about racial bias.”

You don’t have to scratch the surface of this issue very deep to know it is literally all about racial bias. Kamala Harris

Whenever a policy issue pertains to vulnerable populations — particularly women and children of color — Harris’ zeal becomes more apparent. In one instance, she went up to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on the Senate floor to discuss black maternal mortality. Harris wants other lawmakers to be aware that socioeconomic status and educational attainment doesn’t prevent black mothers from dying.

“It’s literally all about race,” reiterates Harris while noting that Scott was “surprised and concerned.” (Scott’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.)

“I think of that as being a part of my role and my responsibility as a leader,” she continued, “which is to help educate people about issues that they should know about and that if they knew about would prompt them to act.”

Jamila Taylor, a senior fellow and the director of Women’s Health and Rights at the Center for American Progress, reached out to Harris’ office to collaborate on the issue after the senator tweeted out a column Taylor had written about black maternal mortality for Mother’s Day. This sparked a series of meetings and conversations that took place throughout 2018 and 2019. Taylor, who helped write the legislation, continues to work with Harris and her office today.

“They were attentive. They were always seeking to learn more about the issue,” said Taylor of Harris’ staff. “They really wanted to get a grounding — and also wanted to make sure that she had a grounding — before they decided how they would enter into the space and what kind of legislation they would introduce.”

For every 100,000 live births, nearly 43 black women will die, according to a recent CDC study.

After months of research, the bill began to take shape. The first piece of the Maternal CARE Act focuses on establishing a $25 million grant program — $5 million each for fiscal years 2019 through 2023 — for medical, nursing and other health professional schools and training programs to institute implicit bias training.

The second part of the legislation provides $25 million in grants to up to 10 states so that they can establish pregnancy medical home programs that would deliver health care services to pregnant women and new mothers in hopes of reducing adverse outcomes. (Stanford’s CMQCC initiative would help inform the second piece of Harris’ bill, the Pregnancy Medical Home Demonstration Project, said Kosoglu. And working on that piece alone took about a year.)  

The third calls on the pregnancy home medical programs to circulate their practices and commissions a National Academy of Medicine study that would provide recommendations for incorporating implicit bias recognition into clinical skills testing for all accredited medical schools.

Including bias training in the bill was of high personal importance to Harris. She had studied the issue and how it relates to policing during her tenure as California attorney general — under her directive, California police underwent implicit bias training following high-profile shootings of unarmed black people that, she says, reinforced her understanding that implicit bias has fatal consequences.

“When those women walk into a clinic or doctor’s office or a hospital, they are not taken as seriously as other women simply because they are black,” said Harris. “And that is about racial bias. It is about the bias that the person they are talking with brings to a decision about the legitimacy of their complaint or concern. So I wanted to address it at that root.”

When Harris’ team ran the idea of including implicit bias training by professors, medical professionals and experts, Kosoglu said they agreed it was necessary. “We were able to take that concept with her guidance on directing us how to do it, and have our experts say, ‘Yeah, we should be doing that here in this field,’” said Kosoglu.

It wasn’t easy to pin down those specifics. Staff still had to ensure that there’s accountability for the fact that black women are treated differently within the medical system. 

The Center for American Progress’ Taylor hasn’t seen any recent drafts of the bill, but she has provided feedback on which components her team thinks should be strengthened. “All people who are interacting with women in the health care system … should be trained — not just the docs, not just the nurses,” she said.

“What are the other sort of training or educational entities for health care professionals and other support staff that could use training like this?” she continued. “And also not just implicit bias. It’s also explicit bias. So how do we get at some of those pieces and aspects of what is happening and how these things manifest in the health care system?”

Harris echoed this sentiment to HuffPost. “People should not consider it something that affects ‘them,’ as in the ‘other.’ The health status and the well-being of a black mother is an issue that should concern everyone — just like the maternal health of any woman should concern everyone.”

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Everything We Know About The College Admissions Scandal Part TWO! – Perez Hilton

Way back on March 12 (seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?), news broke that more than four dozen rich and high-profile people had been indicted by the federal government on charges including wire fraud, mail fraud, bribery, conspiracy, and a whole host of other allegations.

It rocked the internet, and quickly after the entertainment industry, as it was soon revealed that Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Macy were among those indicted on bribery and fraud charges. For days it seemed like the scandal — in which parents of soon-to-be college students allegedly bribed athletic department officials across the country to accept their kids as phony athletic recruits — was all anyone could talk about!

And while it certainly hasn’t fallen out of the news in the recent few weeks, Aunt Becky water cooler talk has died down a bit as social media users and TV fans have since moved on somewhat — to calling out Game of Thrones, or to reading about the horrific violent behavior of David Eason — but Loughlin, Huffman Macy, and the story itself are all still VERY much newsworthy!

So if you’ve tuned out to some of it a bit lately, fear not! Here (below), we’ll get you all caught up on what you may have missed in the dozens of stories we’ve published about the college admissions scandal!

Here’s EVERYTHING new that you need to know!!!

Read Part One

First things first, go read part one of this breakdown!!!

Written way back in late March, that covers all the first movements you need to know in regards to the indictments themselves, initial pleas, and where the federal investigation was first going — as well as the details on Rick Singer and exactly what the purpose of the initial alleged bribery ring was supposed to be.

What came as a shock to all of us when the announcements were made back in mid-March was actually the end result of a months-long federal investigation into William “Rick” Singer and his widespread bribery ring of rich and influential parents who seemed to recognize there was a “side door” to admit their children into prestigious colleges like Stanford University, the University of Southern CaliforniaGeorgetown UniversityWake Forest University, and many more institutions of higher learning around the country.

Even high-profile celebs like Felicity Huffman Macy (L) and Lori Loughlin got caught up in Singer’s plot! / (c) WENN

As noted in part one of our extensive breakdown, Singer had a variety of tactics to help facilitate admission for the children of rich parents, like bribing athletic department officials and coaches to admit the students as recruits even if they weren’t actually ever going to play on those sports teams once at school.

Still other tactics for Singer included administering SAT exams with dirty proctors, who were paid to correct grades and help students — as was the case with Huffman Macy’s daughter, for one — to gain better scores on the SAT and thus be potentially far more attractive to colleges nationwide. Singer was brazen and bold about his scheme — and when he finally DID turn state’s evidence for the federal government, well, he wasn’t shy about taking down everybody along with him…

A Daughter, Gone

If being indicted wasn’t bad enough for Lori Loughlin, the Fuller House star and husband Mossimo Giannulli have seemingly sustained MAJOR family problems back on the home front now that their names have been dragged through the mud. Most notably: their eldest daughter, Olivia Jade, has dropped out of USC and gone off the grid, opting to more or less disappear for a while before eventually moving out of mom and dad’s place altogether and shacking up with friends.

According to several reports we’ve published in the last few weeks, part of the reason for the recent move in with friends is because Olivia Jade’s relationship with her mom is HORRIBLY strained right now, and it may never recover — or, at the very least, it may never again be quite what it once was. The pair had been remarkably close as Olivia grew up and got close to college, with Lori even appearing in the girl’s YouTube videos on her previously popular channel, but now, that’s all for not with the two reportedly estranged from each other and Olivia Jade out on her own as an adult for the first time in her life.

Olivia Jade has decided to move out of her parent’s house after the embarrassment of this scandal hit the press worldwide. / (c) Olivia Jade/Instagram

It’s not just mom who got kicked to the curb, either!

While Olivia Jade has apparently been ditching her mom to instead spend her time partying with other YouTube stars, the former USC student also ditched her longtime boyfriend PERMANENTLY to instead chase clout with the YT community as she hopes to catch fire on the platform again, or so the reports say.

That’s just cold blooded, Olivia Jade!

Her man, Jackson Guthy, had proven himself to her time and again in what had previously been a successful, long-term relationship, but Olivia Jade seemingly dumped him the first chance she got — and she’s moved on for bigger and better things!

On her own, no boyfriend, lookin’ for a new man, no parents to tell her anything… it sounds like the YouTube star is getting a LOT of freedom when maybe she needs the exact opposite… Just sayin’!!!

A Guilty Plea

On the other side of the spectrum away from Loughlin’s trainwreck, Felicity Huffman Macy pled guilty to one charge of fraud in early May, effectively kicking off the beginning of the end for her own disgraceful behavior in this scandal. Huffman was visibly emotional and brought to tears during much of her court appearance in which she made the plea.

Interestingly, her husband William H. Macy was NOT officially charged with anything in the investigation, even though Singer’s admittance and follow-up seems to suggest the actor was at least partially involved here with Hoffman to bribe officials’ assistance while their daughter took her SAT. No matter; the feds will get to the bottom of everything soon enough as more parents continue to plead out and/or take their chances with a day in court.

Huffman owned up to her role in the scandal in an emotionally-charged day in a Boston courtroom. / (c) WENN

Officially, the actress pled guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud as part of the fall-out from the federal investigation known as “Operation Varsity Blues.” She has admitted her role in paying $15,000 to Singer himself, in order to fraudulently boost her daughter’s SAT score as part of the nationwide college admissions scam.

Per reports, it could still be another 12-14 weeks (from mid-May) before she’s actually sentenced. Federal prosecutors are aiming for a sentence between four and ten months in federal prison on the guilty plea. Huffman’s lawyers are arguing that the sentence should be between zero and six months, instead. Ultimately, it’ll be up to a judge, who could also decide to levy fines and restitution against the actress, as well.

The star had previously released a statement taking responsibility for her actions and admitting guilt while showing at least some level of regret, so it’s possible a judge may acknowledge that as appropriately remorseful and lighten her sentence, especially after her guilty plea in court. Regardless, you can’t help but wonder whether this was a smarter move than Loughlin’s choice to go it alone in court against the full resources of federal prosecutors…

Lori’s Legacy?

From Wake Up, San Francisco… To, WAKE UP Inmate 145622!

As time has gone on over the last few months, Loughlin has reportedly grown increasingly concerned about her legacy amid this widespread, wild college admissions scam. Yes — that’s what she has supposedly been worried about, despite choosing to plead not guilty to mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money during a court hearing in early May. She’ll take her chances with the feds — but if prosecutors have their way with the Full House alum and her husband, both their careers and their entire lives could be tarnished with a conviction and potential time served in federal prison!

How will the world see Lori’s legacy after her career ends? / (c) WENN

Sources close to Loughlin have reported that she is both “shocked” and “saddened” that she’ll forever be known as the woman that (allegedly) dropped $500,000 to bribe officials into morphing her daughters into phony USC crew team recruits for guaranteed college admission.

“Aunt Becky” has already become something of a catch-all meme to describe similar crimes, scams, schemes, and calculations would suggest that much of pop culture and the entertainment world has already firmly attached this controversy to Loughlin, and Loughlin alone. Much more so than her husband, and even more so than Huffman, who opted to lay much lower than Loughlin’s fam, along with her relatively straightforward plea deal rather than choosing to fight it out in court.

Preparing A Defense

As Loughlin and Giannulli reportedly begin to realize just how much trouble they may be in, the couple have worked to prepare their legal defense. And that defense is… uh, well… they are apparently going to argue that they had “no idea” that Singer was going to bribe coaches at USC with their half a million dollars, putting forth the idea that the pair was supposed to be completely in the dark about what was happening with their $500,000.

Apparently, while the criminal complaint itself allegedly makes the pair look like criminal masterminds in conjunction with Singer, they will argue that they really didn’t know the legalities of what was going on. In other words… they’re not lawyers or experts on college admissions or the law — they’re just parents who simply wanted to make sure that their daughters got into a good school.

And while most parents might call in favors to somebody they know, or donate money to the alumni association, or something, these two decided to give their money — a LOT of money — to this consultant, reportedly not entirely knowing everything that was going to be done. When it all fell apart, then, they claim that THEY were more surprised than anybody that trouble was afoot.

Lori Loughlin & Mossimo Giannulli better have a strong defense! / (c) WENN

That’s one hell of an interesting defense, considering that ignorance of the law does NOT make you innocent; for example, just because you don’t know murder is a crime doesn’t mean you can murder people without going to prison for it. Works the same way here: they can call Singer a consultant all they want, but if their money was used to facilitate crimes like fraud, bribery, money laundering, or anything similar, that would firmly leave Loughlin and Giannulli on the hook for the consequences. And it’s for that exact reason that it’s so curious as to why they never took a plea deal…

Still, recently Lori has reportedly gotten more optimistic about the couple’s defense, and she reportedly now believes that they can beat federal prosecutors at their own game and walk away innocent. There are a few things working in their favor, to be sure, but it’ll be a long shot to straight up beat the feds at their own game in what will be an EXTREMELY high-profile court case.

Copy Cats?!

Believe it or not, Aunt Becky is far from the only one to pull an Aunt Becky! And more stories of educational deceit of various varieties are now coming out about several different high-profile celebs unrelated to this college admissions scandal, too. What a weird world we live in!

For one, Dr. Dre was called out for making a major donation to USC several years ago only to have his own daughter admitted to the school as a freshman this year. The sh*t hit the fan there when Dre gloated on social media about how he DIDN’T bribe anybody to get his daughter into school, but fans were quick to point out that technically, Dre, you absolutely did. Oops!

Blac Chyna was caught up in a fake Harvard Business School continuing education scam earlier in May, when she posted an “acceptance letter” that was allegedly faked by a company that had also offered to take the course for her — and sell her the passing grade, too! FWIW, Chyna declined to have the company take the course for her, but it’s unclear who wrote up the fake admittance letter. Do whatever you gotta do to look good on social media, right?!

And then there’s R. Kelly, who allegedly pulled a REVERSE Aunt Becky on his poor daughter late last year, reportedly pulling out from paying for her books and college tuition despite being legally obligated to do so. He left her high and dry without warning or notice, even going so far as to have her kicked out of student housing without any warning once he stopped paying the bills like he initially promised to do. Brutal! Like Lori, R. Kelly is quite the fan of specious legal defenses, so maybe this makes sense…

Blac Chyna got caught up in her own fake Harvard scam last month! / (c) WENN

Whew! Well, there you have it, Perezcious readers! Quite a bit to take in, right??

You can at least rest easy knowing that Kim Kardashian West — studying right now to become a lawyer — has gone on the record throwing MAJOR shade at those caught up in the college admissions scandal! At least one celeb has her head on straight here!!!

Tell us your reactions and where you see the college admissions scandal (and prosecutions) going from here — sound OFF all about this topic and more in the comments (below)!!!

[Image via WENN]

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When Did Coachella Become An Influencer Playground? Betches

I’ll start by saying that, yes, I did go to Coachella this year (and if you want to see my content, check out my Instagram). Cool, now that I’m done being the most terrible person alive, let’s talk about Coachella. A few years ago when I first started working for Betches, I didn’t even really know what Coachella was. I remember editing an article on “5 Celebs Who Embody Coachella” and having next to no clue what the article was even talking about, but I published it anyway because I was just doing my job.

In recent years, though, Coachella has become impossible to ignore. Now, it’s less of a music festival and more of a cultural event. The focus in the media is on the music and production as much as it is on figuring out which celebrities attended and what they were wearing. And, even furthermore, it’s about the parties surrounding Coachella. There are invite-only parties like Revolve festival, not to mention Neon Carnival and Framework Presents after-parties. When did Coachella become like this, anyway?

It’s a complicated question, so I decided to research the lineup through the years. Although Coachella started as a rock festival, they were pulling acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Beastie Boys even in 2003. In 2004, their attendance doubled and hit 120,000 guests, with The Cure, Radiohead, and then-relatively-unknown The Killers performing.

2007 seems to be when things start to take off—the festival expands from one day to three, and pulls $16.3 million in box office revenue, up from $9 million the year before. The following year, Prince gets added to the lineup; in 2009, Coachella books Paul McCartney. Around this period is where things start to turn towards the mainstream. In 2010, Jay-Z becomes the first hip-hop artist to headline the festival, and the next year Kanye West headlines. But perhaps the most precise turning point towards the mainstream occurs in 2012, when Coachella expands to two weekends, and most notably, Dr. Dre headlines and brings out the Tupac hologram. This is where press for Coachella explodes; the Desert Sun reports that this performance overshadowed even Radiohead’s headlining set, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame notes it as one of the 20 greatest festival moments ever.

But I didn’t want to take one article’s word for it, so I consulted Reddit. One user wrote, “I feel like since 2011 when Kanye and Kings of Leon headlined Coachella really broke into pop culture,” adding, “it was at that point where I began to hear Coachella mentioned a helluva lot more on radio, tv, in online media and by regular 9-5 types in everyday life.” Another echoed, “I think it was after 2011 being the last time it would only be one weekend… I strongly believe it went ‘mainstream’ (or got more popular) after that year because me and six friends bought our wristbands and car camping a MONTH before the event… there’s no way that could ever happen again due to everything selling out in a matter of minutes.”

This timeline tracks with the advent of Instagram, which launched in 2010 and featured its very first ad in 2013. I’m not a sociologist, but I’d venture that Coachella’s increased presence in mainstream popular culture, coupled with the simultaneous rise of Instagram, created a perfect storm of photo opps, so to speak. Compounded with the increased ability to actually make a living off of Instagram as an individual and not an established retail brand with every passing year, these factors turned the festival into the millennial influencer wasteland it’s seen as today.

In short, it wasn’t always like this, and this perception as an Instagram destination is relatively new, compared to the festival’s 20 year history. But even still, Coachella has earned a reputation as being a social media playground—but is it deserved?

On the surface, unequivocally yes. You’re talking about a massively popular event that’s attended by celebrities and “regular” (but still well-off) folks alike, that is not accessible to everybody. The fact is, going to Coachella is expensive. Most multi-day festivals are going to run you a couple of hundred dollars for the ticket price alone, not counting travel and accommodations. I probably spent a grand just getting and staying there—I don’t know for sure, I don’t want to think about it. So you have a bunch of people who have at least some money, plus people with tons of money, risking heat stroke together to stand in a giant crowd and maybe see the top of the head of an artist whose songs they vaguely know, projected from a giant screen 100 yards away. It’s inherently pretty douchey; combined with the fact that the festival has now achieved unparalleled name recognition, if you say you’re going, you sound like a huge asshole. And I will say that, compared to other festivals I’ve been to, Coachella is the only one that’s as much about what you’re wearing as who you’re going to see. On top of that, you’ve got these larger-than-life 3-D art installations, an iconic ferris wheel, great natural lighting until 8pm—so of course people are going to take pictures, and they’re all going to be the same ones. So, yeah, it does seem like a Coachella problem.

But is it really?? I’m going to say no. Not because Coachella is not one giant Instagram activation, but because everything these days is. We are all out here taking the same fake candids in any environment that is remotely photogenic. Go to a random street corner of Manhattan and you’ll likely see girls posing for in front of a parked taxi cab. Hell, at least Coachella is still a music festival, unlike Museum Of [Insert Whatever Junk Food], and all those other pop-ups that are unabashedly made explicitly for social media. I have been to so many of these events, and most of the time it’s like being in the North Korean supermarket from The Interview—everything looks shiny from the photos, but all the depth is manufactured. That monochrome ball pit that looks amazing on your friend’s feed? It’s likely a standalone pit in a bare room (that’s 100 degrees because it’s not properly ventilated; the room was probably constructed in a pinch for the sole purpose of this pop-up). That rainbow wall? A few feet of painted plywood propped up and stuck in the corner of a sparsely decorated backyard. Some of the Coachella parties might fall into this latter camp, but the festival? It’s a festival. A real, 3-D, walk-around-it-and-touch-things, listen-to-music, festival. People are going to take pictures there, just like they do in any other restaurant, bar, birthday party, or park, so like, who really cares? This is not a phenomenon unique to this particular festival.

And, look. I’m not saying Coachella is this perfect utopia. Not at all. There’s plenty to dislike about it, like the fact that it’s overcrowded, expensive, their security system felt like more of a “pray something doesn’t go horribly wrong” attitude than an actual plan, or most importantly, it’s got shady links to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Be mad about that, but don’t be mad that it’s a place where millennials millennial.

Images: Don Indio; worldstarhiphop, niiiceband / Twitter

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NASA And The ESA Are Paying People Large Sums Of Money To Lie In Bed

What does a dream job sound like to you? Ice cream taster, panda nanny, and Netflix tagger must rank high on the list.

How about being paid to spend your days reading books and watching movies? Scientists at NASA have offered 24 volunteers cash to do just that for 60 days straight at a facility in Cologne, Germany.

There is only one catch. The lucky participants (12 male and 12 female) are required to perform all tasks lying down in a cot specifically designed for this very purpose. And yes, that includes all bathroom activities.

The goal of this experiment – the first of its kind to be undertaken in partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) – is to find out how astronauts may be affected by the gravity conditions of space travel during longer-term orbital missions. 

The 60-day investigation began on Monday, March 25, meaning the bedbound volunteers have a further 57 days to go (excluding rehabilitation time).

During the experiment, participants are required to lie down in a cot propped up on a gentle incline designed to prevent blood from accumulating in the extremities. Meanwhile, researchers will monitor for any changes. At the same time, they will assess the ways diet and exercise can affect their physical deterioration.

The team behind the study have planned various tests to examine cardiovascular function, balance and muscle strength, metabolism, cognitive performance, and more.

Once a day, some of the volunteers will also be required to spend time in the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) short-arm centrifuge to test the effect of artificial (or rotational) gravity. In the centrifuge, they will be spun around to try and push the blood back into the extremities.

The researchers hope this experiment will allow them to work out how exactly this spinning affects the volunteers’ physical deterioration.

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) maintain a balanced diet plan and spend 2.5 hours every day exercising in order to mitigate the effects of microgravity as much as possible. But it’s thought that including a session of artificial gravity could be useful in longer-term space missions.

As Jennifer Ngo-Anh, ESA team leader for research, said in a statement: “To make these missions possible, various risks to astronaut health must be minimized. This study allows us to address the issue of muscular atrophy caused by weightlessness, but also other stressors such as cosmic radiation, isolation and spatial restrictions.”

It’s not the first time scientists have paid large sums of cash to people to lie in bed. In 2017, the Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology (Medes) in Toulouse, France, offered €16,000 ($17,066) to volunteers prepared to commit to a two-month period of bed rest for a similar experiment.

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Can acupuncture help menopause symptoms?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hot flushes may be reduced by acupuncture

For some women, the menopause and the years leading up to it, can be a time of troubling emotional and physical symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) eases symptoms like hot flushes and sweats, but it’s not suitable for all women.

Now, a small study published in BMJ Open suggests acupuncture may be worth considering.

The Danish study found that five weeks of acupuncture in women with menopausal symptoms reduced hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances and emotional problems.

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark cautioned that they couldn’t rule out that the results were down to the placebo effect.

The placebo effect is where a treatment works because a patient believes it will, rather than as a result of the treatment itself.

One of the study authors, Prof Frans Boch Waldorff, from the University of Southern Denmark, said: “We can’t explain the underlying mechanism behind acupuncture, nor determine how much of the effect is caused by placebo.

“But this was a safe, cost-effective and simple procedure, with very few side-effects reported by the women.

“Women seeking acupuncture treatment for menopausal symptoms should be informed of the current evidence, and its limitations, so they can make a decision.”

How was the study done?

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine, where fine needles are inserted at certain points in the body.

Researchers recruited 70 women with moderate-to-severe menopause symptoms.

This group was then split in two. The first group, the control group, received no acupuncture until week six of the study. The second, intervention group received weekly acupuncture treatments from experienced local doctors.

Each participant then completed a questionnaire to self-evaluate their symptoms at three and six weeks.

By six weeks the women in the acupuncture group recorded moderate improvements in all symptoms compared with the group having no acupuncture.

A total of 80% of the women in the acupuncture groups also said they felt the sessions had helped them.

‘I was anxious, bloated and not sleeping’

Image copyright Vanessa Southgate
Image caption Vanessa says acupuncture helped ease her menopause symptoms

Vanessa Southgate, an occupational therapist from Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, started suffering menopause symptoms when she was 46.

“I’d always slept well, despite stressful events in my life. Yet suddenly I would wake in the early hours and not be able to get back to sleep. I felt bloated, had a foggy head, night sweats, and a level of anxiety I had never experienced before,” she says.

The doctor suggested HRT but Vanessa decided she wanted to explore alternative treatments.

She went to see Emma Vickers, a licensed acupuncturist in Brighton.

“After a few sessions, the night sweats weren’t as bad, and my sleep improved. It really helped with the bloating, that was so uncomfortable before. It also helped the anxiety. After the treatment I felt way more relaxed, and that I could manage things more.”

Vanessa now goes for weekly acupuncture treatments. Sometimes she takes a break, and when the symptoms return she books in again.

“I do feel it is the acupuncture that makes the difference, and also working with Emma. She has suggested supplements, and advised on nutrition.

“And we’ve also looked at my work-life balance and switching off at night. These are things I knew already, but it makes a difference when somebody suggests you try something.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese tradition

Dr Channa Jayasena, a consultant in reproductive endocrinology at Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospital, said: “Menopausal flushes will affect most women at some point. HRT cannot be given to women with certain types of cancer.

“This leaves a huge gap in the market for simple and safe therapies to reduce hot flush symptoms.

“I suspect that most of the effect of acupuncture is a placebo effect, but is that a really bad thing? Anything that is safe, affordable and helps the wellbeing of patients while reducing symptoms is worth considering if HRT is not an option.”

Last year, an episode of the BBC programme Horizon looked into the potential power of the placebo effect. The programme prescribed fake pills to 100 volunteers with back pain. Half of the participants found significant relief from taking the pills – even though they were fake.

Acupuncture treatment is available on the NHS, usually for migraines or chronic headaches.

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Lindsey Vonn makes history by winning downhill bronze in final race

Are, Sweden (CNN)Lindsey Vonn was never going to slip quietly into the sunset.

The end was not triumphant, but it didn’t have to be. Vonn already had her place in history.
Yet with bronze on the Swedish slopes where she won her first championship medals, the 34-year-old added polish to her concluding chapter as an elite athlete — becoming the oldest woman to secure a medal at a world championships and the first female racer to medal at six world championships.
    There was more to put in the record books, too, as she also equaled Christel Cranz and Annemarie Moser-Proll’s record of five women’s downhill world championship medals.
    Though there was no world title, it was an impressive denouement from a woman racing with damaged knees. The bronze, she said afterwards, felt like gold. “I skied with all my heart,” she said.
    Going out of the gate third, the American had set the early pace. Fans burst into raucous cheers on seeing the former Olympic champion’s name on top of the leaderboard and, reacting to the acclaim and her own time, she bowed to the spectators in the packed grandstand and raised her arms towards the snow-filled clouds.
    Waiting at the finish line, Vonn looked on in disbelief, perching forward in her chair and covering her mouth with her hands, as racers tried and failed to surpass her time.
    Olympic downhill champion Sofia Goggia could not beat her, but then came defending champion Ilka Stuhec and dreams of gold were ruined.
    The Slovenian’s time of 1:01.74 ensured she became the first skier to successfully defend the women’s downhill since Maria Walliser in 1987 and 1989. Switzerland’s Corrinne Suter denied Vonn silver.
    Vonn will retire four wins short of equaling Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 World Cup wins, a statistic which will no doubt irk such a driven individual when she reflects on her remarkable career.
    Perhaps, too, she will wonder about those injury-lost years. How many more races and medals would she have won had she not been denied more time on the slopes?
    Stenmark was in the Swedish resort of Are to watch the Minnesota-born skier’s final race and, as a nod of recognition to the Swedish great, Vonn wore a white, blue and yellow race suit for the downhill. Her outfit also maybe indicates that the record she had been chasing is never far from her thoughts.
    “I knew he was going to be in the finish because I basically begged him to come here,” Vonn said at a crowded news conference.
    “It meant so much to me to have him at the finish. He’s an icon and a legend in our sport. He doesn’t really like the spotlight but he deserves to have it. I was so grateful he was there. It’s the perfect ending to my career.”

    Competing in such a savage event has come at a cost for Vonn, wrecking her body before she was ready to quit. She wanted to continue until the end of the year, she wanted to break Stenmark’s record, but in announcing her impeding retirement a few weeks ago, the American herself said she was “broken beyond repair.”
    The injuries she has sustained throughout the years read like a list doctors have to contend with in emergency rooms: a broken right arm, fractures in the left knee, broken left ankle, torn ligaments, broken bone in right leg, concussion, bruises, cuts. “I remember I had to practice writing the alphabet every day to try to regain the use of my hand,” Vonn once said of the nerve damage in her broken arm.
    After the crashes and the falls — even after she was helicoptered off a mountain during training at the 2006 Turin Olympics — she has always recovered and carried on. But now the woman described this week as a “warrior” by her compatriot and former Olympic champion Bode Miller has had to call it a day.
    She was filled with anxiety, she admitted, before the downhill, battling with an internal monologue, the crash she suffered in Tuesday’s super-G still playing with her mind: would rolling the dice culminate with her in the fencing once again or could she stay calm and execute her plan? Thankfully for Vonn, it was the latter.
    “I wanted more than anything to finish strong,” she said, before insisting she wasn’t disappointed with a bronze.
    “I’m in a position where my body isn’t allowing me to ski the way I know I can. Normally, I’d say, yes, I’m disappointed because I know I can win but I don’t know that I can win anymore and that’s why I’m retiring. That’s the best I could’ve done today. There’s not another gear.
    “It’s not an easy thing to feel your bones hitting together and pushing through it. I think I skied pretty well. Even before the crash I was sore — my neck is killing me. I knew I was capable of pushing through the pain one last time and I did that.”
    Vonn is admired by her peers and fans because she is the most human of champions; transparent, emotional, not afraid to cry. On her last day as an Alpine skier, however, there were no tears.
    She embraced her father, Alan, and sister, Karin, near the finish line, lifted one of her dogs in the air as she herself was balancing on the shoulders of others. Her fellow racers signed her bib, Stenmark gave her a bouquet and in below-zero temperatures she negotiated the maze of reporters waiting for her with equanimity, telling them she wasn’t going to miss the bone-chilling cold and how she was looking forward to the evening’s party.
    She smiled, she laughed, but admitted: “I want to cry, but I can’t cry anymore.”
    Over the last few weeks fellow racers have spoken about the American’s legacy. Her desire to race against men, said Aksel Lund Svindal, chimed with everyone who wanted equality, while Stuhec said Vonn had made it OK for female racers to be feminine and athletic. “She never acts like she is on Olympus, where she could be,” Goggia said of the American last year after winning Olympic gold.
    Vonn has been appreciative of the glowing tributes. “That’s the coolest thing that’s happened in the last few weeks, how much support I’ve got from the other athletes and how much respect they’ve shown me. That, to me, means more than any World Cup win,” she said.
    Fans in Are also echoed the sentiments of Vonn’s peers. Veteran Alpine skier Anna Maria Dahlstrom, whose home is 600km away in Stockholm, had come to watch Vonn and made a placard which read: “Thank you, Lindsey. Forever a star.”

      Lindsey Vonn’s furry friends

    “She’s superwoman. There’s no-one like her,” said the 43-year-old. “I’ve never made a sign like this before but I just felt in my heart that Lindsey deserves a sign.”
    Vonn is not only the most famous skier of her generation, but she appeals to all generations. Eleanor Bodin, 21, holding aloft a “Thank you Lindsey” poster, predicted there’d be an emptiness in the post-Vonn era. After all, she does not remember Alpine racing without her hero hurtling down vertiginous slopes.
    “It really feels sad,” said Bodin. “Women’s ski racing has grown because of Lindsey.”
    But it would probably more accurate to say Alpine skiing has grown because of Vonn.
    She retires having won more World Cup races than any other woman and no female racer has more Olympic medals than Vonn’s two in the hair-raising downhill. Had she not suffered a ghastly knee injury — a torn ACL and MCL with a tibial fracture — when 29 and in her prime before Sochi 2014, Vonn may have won a third in the event.
    As a 17-year-old, Lindsey Kildow — five years before the marriage that would change her name to Lindsey Vonn — finished sixth at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The largely unknown teenager’s performance raised eyebrows, and later she told reporters that at school she had written of her plan to “make it to the Olympics and win more ski races than any woman ever has.”
    Vonn certainly achieved her childhood ambition, though the journey has not been smooth.
    Four years after Salt Lake, when she was expected to win multiple medals, Vonn crashed in Turin and later admitted she had feared her career was over. Unshakable, she still competed, but her best finish was seventh.
    Over the next five years, having married Thomas Vonn, a US ski racer who became her coach, Vonn developed into the most dominant skier in the sport, winning four World Cup overall titles and, at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, becoming the first American to win the women’s Olympic downhill.
    In 2011 she separated from her husband, missed several races through illness then took a month-long break from the World Cup. More pitfalls followed. A year from the Sochi Olympics, she ruptured her cruciate ligament in her right knee, returning nine months later only to fall at high spend during training and rupturing the same ligament in her right knee.
    “A very dark moment in my career,” was how Vonn described the period.
    Around this time she started dating Tiger Woods, which elevated the skier into another level of stardom (the pair announced their split in May 2015). Her achievements on the slopes and her celebrity off it has led to commercial success. She has multimillion dollar deals with Under Armour and Red Bull, while she also has a foundation awards financial grants to young people to help pay for “education, sports and enrichment programs.” Life after skiing has already taken shape.
    She has said she will set up her own business and last year attended a four-day course at Harvard Business School. Vonn has also spoken of her dreams of acting with ‘The Rock’.
    This week she was asked whether she had any plans to start a family and took the question as an opportunity to set up her phone so that her boyfriend, NHL Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban, could listen in on the news conference before saying “Yes, of course I’d love to have children.”
    For now, Vonn is looking forward to no longer having to do daily five-hour strength and conditioning workouts in the gym. She will, she says, rest, watch Law and Order, and undergo what will hopefully be a final operation on a ski injury.
      “I was scared before of life without skiing and it’s taken me a while to get to this point where I’m happy with it,” she said.
      “I’m not nervous about it. I’ve got a lot to look forward to. In the real world I’m actually pretty young. I’ve felt old for a long time because I’m racing with girls who are a lot younger than me, but I’ve a lot to look forward to so I’m excited.”

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      50 Zero-Waste Ideas Everybody Can Use

      Have you ever considered how much plastic you use every single day? A takeaway coffee cup, plastic water bottles, single-use cutlery, plastic bags for your fruits and vegetables… These are a couple examples of waste that every single one of us could easily reduce in our day-to-day lives. Now, more than ever before, people are beginning to understand the terrible impact these products have on the planet, and one thing we can’t argue about is- it’s time to make a change. This list compiled by Bored Panda shows creative ways people have decided to help mother earth by reducing their waste. Let’s hope this will inspire you to be the change our planet desperately needs!

      #1 My Tour Guide’s Tool For Picking Up Littered Bottles Along The Trail

      #2 This Guy’s Fence Is Made From Random Doors

      #3 Confetti Made From Fallen Leaves! Loved This Zero-Waste Decoration Idea

      #4 My Mom’s Husband Is A Pilot So He Wraps All His Gifts In Old Flight Maps

      #5 Taking A Stand

      #6 We Detrashed A Lake In Texas! 4,000 Pounds Of Beer Bottles And Beer Cans. With About 30 Scuba Divers And 4 Boats. Did It In About 4 Hours

      #7 No More Plastic Bottles In The Shower

      #8 I Hadn’t Used My Reusable Bags Because I’m Pretty Socially Anxious And Was Worried About The Cashier Being Frustrated. But Used This For The First Time Today!

      #9 My Mom Is Slowly Knitting A Scarf Made Completely From Tea Bag Strings

      #10 Turning Christmas Cards Into Tags For Next Year

      #11 My Pantry After Harvest Season Is Finally Over

      #12 Stuffed Whales Made From Old Jeans

      #13 Didn’t Want To Waste The Failed Films So I Turned Them Into Little Paintings

      #14 Make A Baby Dress Out Of An Old Button-Up Shirt

      #15 Had A Friend Complain About Straw Bans Saying That They’re Not Even A Real Litter/Marine Debris Issue

      So I did a quick 10 minute sweep of 300ft of shoreline to prove them wrong.

      #16 Here Is My Old Music Used As Wrapping Paper

      #17 Got My First Sewing Machine For Christmas, Made “Unpaper” Towels To Reduce Our Paper Towel Waste. They Clasp Together So It’s Easy To Know Which Are Clean

      #18 Small Wins: Convincing The Ice Cream Shop To Let Me Have It In My Reusable Cup Instead Of A Disposable Cup. The Guy Looked So Confused When I Asked!

      #19 Needed An Organiser So I Made One Out Of Cardboard Instead Of Purchasing One

      #20 A Customer From Work Made A Reusable Bag From Hundreds Of Plastic Ones

      #21 All Of This Year’s Christmas Presents Wrapped Using White Paper From 1 Amazon Delivery Box

      #22 Turned Old Uniforms Into A Bed Cover For Our Foster Kittens. Cuts Down On Washing Too

      #23 Had A Volunteer Help Me Make These Stools Out Of Our Discarded Books For New Library Seating

      #24 We Enjoy Our Zero-Plastic Alternatives For Holding Home-Made Shampoo And Shower Gel. It Helps Our House Look More Rock ‘N Roll

      #25 We Wrap Our Holiday Gifts In Fabric And Reuse It Every Year. No Tape Or Paper Trash And It Looks So Much Nicer Too

      #26 Used Some Leftover Yarn To Make Crochet Produce Bags

      Posted to Snapchat and 10 mins later I have 45 orders of them (and counting) for friends and family wanting to cut the plastic!

      #27 My Friends Smoked A 20 Lb Turkey For Their Halloween Party. After They Carved It They Were Going To Throw The Carcass Away

      I took it home with me and made 14 pints of turkey stock.

      #28 I Made Shampoo Bars: Total Cost For A Year Supply Was About $20, And No More Plastic Bottles

      #29 I Made A Holder For Reusable Chopsticks, Silverware, And Straw That Doubles As A Cloth Napkin When Unfolded

      #30 Update: ~400 T-Shirt Pieces, Now A Quilt Top

      #31 I Think I’m Going To Stop Buying (New) Clothes. Made This From A $4 Shirt

      #32 I’m Never Going Back To Wrapping Paper! Used A Grocery Bag And Some String And Decided To Add An Origami Cutie To The Top

      #33 My Boyfriend Uses Lip Balm Religiously. I Saved His Used Tubes For The Last Year And Today I Am Re-Using Them! I Found A Recipe For Lip Balm On Pinterest

      #34 I’m Going To Be Wrapping My Gifts In Furoshiki From Now On

      I love the idea of each person receiving a gift in their furoshiki and then using it to wrap a gift for someone else – how far will it travel?

      #35 I Wanted To Buy Some Blueberries From The Farmers’ Market But Didn’t Want Any Packaging And Forgot A Container. Used My Empty Water Bottle Instead

      #36 This Year I Made My Own Origami Pill Cases To Replace The Easily Broken Plastic Kind, And They Have Held Up Well

      #37 Went To A Party That Had A Big Recycling Can For Bottles, And A Small Recycling Can For Bottle Caps

      #38 I Started Making A Basket Out Of All Of The Plastic Bags I’ve Been Hoarding

      #39 Might Not Look The Prettiest But My Sewing Project So Far, Making Face Cleaner Rounds And Other Cleaning Cloths From Old T-Shirts That Can’t Be Given To Charity

      #40 Local Custom: Around Here People Put Out Spare Veg From Their Garden For Anyone To Help Themselves

      #41 When You Just Have To Use Plastic Packaging, Don’t Be Fooled When It’s Seemingly Empty: If You Cut It Open, You’ll See There’s Still A Lot Left

      #42 The Chairs In My Garden Are Made Out Of Shopping Trolleys

      #43 1 Month Of Trash And Still Trying To Reduce

      #44 Cat Food Bag + Leftover Bag Handles From A Workshop = Reusable Grocery Bag With A Giant Cat Face On It

      #45 Cutting Up Unused Mesh Curtains To Make Reusable Mesh Groceries Bags, With The Emotional Support Of My Furry Buddy

      #46 Cloth Diapering Was One Of The Best Choice We’ve Made! Plus I Got 90% Of Them Second-Hand – Double Win

      #47 I Recycled My Families Old Socks

      #48 Maybe Not The Most Ground Breaking Thing Ever But The Most Used Drinking Glasses In My House Are Just Old Pasta Sauce Jars

      #49 I Love This Idea – A Dog Poop Bag Dispenser Attached To A Lamppost Made From A Plastic Bottle By Local Scouts

      #50 Zero Waste Win: It Took Some Serious Cajoling But I Convinced Superstore To Put My Deli Stuff Straight Into My Own Containers

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