Santa Invests in “Clean Coal” this Christmas

By Lily Spechler, The Vermont Cynic

It’s that time of year again: Christmas cheer is in the air. However, it seems we’ve got some bad, bad hombres in this country and as a result we all might be getting coal in our stockings. Thankfully, though, this coal is … clean?

There are two myths I would like to debunk: since we’re living in the information age and all. First off, Santa is not real. Sorry, that was harsh, but its about time the truth comes out. Second, there is no such thing as clean coal.

According to National Geographic Magazine, coal was the largest contributor to the record amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere in 2012. Carbon dioxide, of course, is said to contribute to global climate change.

Clean coal is marginally less filthy coal. “Clean coal” is a band-aid, the crappy kind that doesn’t even really stick on in the shower. It is a very, very short term cover-up to a much larger problem that will only continue to grow if we do not address it.

I asked U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders vie e-mail what he thought about the idea of clean coal. Daniel McClean, a spokesman for Senator Sanders responded with this statement via e-mail:

“At a time when we should be aggressively transitioning away from fossil fuels toward sustainable energy, it does not make sense to waste millions of dollars on unproven technologies to try to keep coal alive.”

Are you starting to feel the Bern?

There are a few “clean coal” emerging technologies, such as “coal washing”, which removes some of the unwanted materials such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides before the coal is burned and carbon and other pollutants get released into the air as flue gas; Carbon is still being emitted during this process.

However, according to Kathleen Hartnett-White, this really shouldn’t be an issue.

Harnett-White is the director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy foundation, and the potential future leader of the Environmental Protection Agency according to our President-elect. To say the least, she has a very creative spin on the whole “climate change” thing.

“Carbon dioxide has no adverse impact in the air we breath at all,” Hartnett-White said. “It’s a harmless trace gas that is actually an essential nutrient for plants.”

Interesting, considering that the EPA currently states on its website that excess carbon dioxide, which is released from the burning of fossil fuels, makes up for 81% of greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.

Perhaps Harnett-White hasn’t done her research yet. Perhaps she should start by visiting the EPA’s website, where the current government consensus opinion on the impact of carbon emissions on the environment is stated and backed by scientific evidence. But that’s okay, she has plenty of time to brush up on the topic before she assumes her position.

Carbon capture and sequestration is another technology that claims “clean coal”. Proponents of CCS posit that carbon could be separated and captured during the burning process and stored in the earth instead of being released into the atmosphere.

To be fair, there is potential here, scientists have just begun to scratch the surface with this technology. However, according to Slate magazine, commercial CCS systems cost tens of billions of dollars, and won’t be practical for decades.

Furthermore, there is not enough research available currently to determine what the effects of pumping multitudes of carbon into the earth will be, but seismologists are skeptical, according to ThinkProgress, a progressive site.

Carbon is not even the only issue with coal. According to an article in Time Magazine, while the industry has “improved filters on coal plants” it still lives behind a growing toxic waste problem with pollutants like mercury and Sulfur dioxide.

But not to worry! At least Steve Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for chief strategist, will serve as the voice of reason. Oh, wait…

According to E&E news, an online media company that covers environmental and energy policy markets, Bannon said “… environmentalists are ‘greentards’ and ‘totally fu**ing wrong on climate change’”.

(“Greentards?” Really?)

Or perhaps we can turn to Reince Priebus, incoming White House chief of staff. Priebus, help us please!

Nope. Priebus told Fox News that climate change denial would be Trump’s “default position.” At least now we’ll have a really huge wall to bang our heads on. Gracias, señor Trump.

Anyway, for all you “greentards” drafting your Christmas holiday wish lists this year, please consider including “sanity” or perhaps “justice” somewhere very near the top.

Happy holidays to all, and sorry about the whole Santa thing.

 

The Deafening Truth about Millennial Tunes

By Lily Spechler, The Vermont Cynic

It’s no wonder millennials are so uninformed. We can’t hear a damn thing.

Doctors warn that the access to loud music through earphones will lead to a generation with hearing loss.

One billion young people are at risk of hearing loss because of personal audio devices and damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues like electronic dance music festivals, where noise levels can top 120 decibels for hours, according to the World Health Organization.

One in five teens have some form of hearing loss, which is up by 30 percent since the 90’s, according to the American Osteopathic Associ- ation.

Next to HTML and Chinese, perhaps sign language will be the next most important language to learn.

We should all start listening to more songs like John Cage’s “4’33”. In other words, we should start listening to more silence.

So the question is, how loud is too loud?

The answer is simple. Basically, if you can’t hear noise around you, turn the volume down. You’re jamming too hard. If you are drowning out the sounds around you, that means you are playing your device almost at the same decibel level of an EDM concert (120 decibels). Damage also coincides with duration (duh). The longer the loud, the less you’ll hear.

The worst part is that hearing loss from loud noise is irreversible.

Think of your ear like a tissue box. Every time you take a tissue out of the box, you are one step closer to having an empty box and a dripping nose. To make a long story short, there are hair cells in your inner ear, and attached to these cells are stereocilia, or hairs that stick out.

The bending of these hairs are responsible for triggering the reaction that tells your brain to hear. However, if these hairs are bent too far from loud noises, they die or are permanently damaged, and they can never regenerate.

Once you start noticing signs of hearing loss, there is nothing that can be done, aside from wearing hearing aids. Preventative action is key.

The top signs of hearing loss are ringing in one’s ears, perceiving others to be mumbling, asking people to repeat themselves, speaking loudly without intending to, or having difficulty talking on the telephone.

Symptoms may also include tolerating country music, thinking President Donald Trump knew anything about politics after listening to him during the debates and watching more than 10 minutes of “The Bachelor” without realizing that it is unwatchable.

Hearing loss is gradual, and individuals often do not notice for a long time.

William Shakespeare put it best in “Romeo and Juliet.”

“The sweetest honey is loathsome in its own deliciousness. And in the taste destroys the appetite. Therefore, love moderately.”

Just do less. You heard it here first. Or did you?

How rewriting history could save the planet

By Lily Spechler, the Vermont Cynic

AC/DC, the world famous Australian rock band, had it right when they said we were on the highway to hell.

AC/DC stands for “alternating current” and “direct current,” and represents the “War of Currents” that took place in the late 1880s.

Thanks to the biases of modern day textbooks, U.S. citizens are fed a shortsighted perspective in school that serves as the basis for understanding history at a young age.

Students are given blinders and told to accept that Christopher Columbus was a noble hero.

In the U.S., agriculture is responsible for 80 percent of the nation’s water use, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

I wonder if this number would be lower if we decided to take after the practices of the Native Americans rather than attempting to erase their culture from existence.

We are told to accept the U.S. as an economic world power, and fail to reiterate that we kickstarted our economy by relying on the free labor of slaves.

While everyone knows the story of Thomas Edison, the part that was left out of textbooks is that Thomas Edison had a very close rival named Nikola Tesla.

Edison hired Tesla as part of his company, Continental Edison Company, in 1882. Shortly afterward, the two went head-to-head with their competing ideologies, a battle later known as the War of the Currents.

Thomas Edison’s model used “direct current” to transmit energy to the people, which was one-directional, low voltage and safe.

Nikola Tesla fathered “alternating current” which meant that the electrical current could switch directions, and was the riskier of the two because of the higher voltage.

AC was, in fact, the ultimate victor, because DC was less capable of traveling long distances, but Edison got all the fame.

The question is, why didn’t Tesla make it into any of the history textbooks?

According to a video created by energy.gov, Edison was truly a businessman at heart. His goal was to monetize every part of the process and privatize electricity.

This juxtaposed Tesla’s ideology, which fought to provide free electricity and information for all. Edison felt threatened by Tesla, and launched a propaganda campaign to delegitimize him.

According to History, the cable and satellite television channel, the campaign involved publicly electrocuting large animals to show that the current was dangerous.

“By failing to include both opposing stories, the student reader is forced to understand and interpret a one-sided view of the history of electricity,” senior Nicole Kim said.

I believe that over time Tesla’s name faded out of the textbooks because his ideology did not align with the U.S.’ long-standing goal of having a perpetually increasing economy. But this is a goal that must be broken down and revised.

We are living in the Anthropocene, a geological age where human activity has disrupted the earth so much that the planet can no longer function according to its natural rhythms.

According to MSNBC, if everyone in the world lived the way we live in the U.S., it would take five earths to sustain us. 2014 was the hottest year on record, and scientists predict that temperatures will continue only to rise.

It is time to take the leap to renewables and rewrite our history.

According to CleanTechnica, the popular news site for clear technology news and commentary, “in a single year, the sun delivers about twice as much energy as we have ever gotten (or will ever get) out of a nonrenewable energy source.”

Tesla, Inc. is an American automaker, energy storage company and solar panel manufacturer that is absolutely revolutionizing the world.

According to Business Insider, Tesla was named after Nikola Tesla, the mastermind behind the AC induction motor; the company shapes their motor after Tesla’s invention, and seeks to emulate Nikola Tesla’s risky, efficient and anti-capitalist spirit.

In an interview with Wired on October 21st, 2012 Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, weighed in on the concept of risk.

“There’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering,” he said.

Albert Einstein got it right when he famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

By continuing to deliver a one-sided version of history in textbooks, we are only perpetuating the outcome of a wasteful and unsustainable society.

It is time to overcome the biases we have against risk and anti-capitalist motives and start to incorporate new perspectives on our past in order to foster a transcendental future.

New technology takes fake news to multimedia level

By Lily Spechler, the Vermont Cynic

With the velocity of information perpetually on the rise, it’s impossible to slow down long enough to discern fact from fiction.

Fake news is the intentional spread of misinformation, and though the news might be fake, the repercussions are very real.

For example, a Dec. 20 article published by AWDNews mistakenly quoted former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon as threatening to destroy Pakistan with a nuclear attack if it sent troops into Syria.

This fake-news story led to a terrifying response by Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, who assumed the news story was real.

“[Yaalon] threatens nuclear retaliation presuming Pakistan’s role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a nuclear state too,” Asaf tweeted Dec. 23.

And who could forget the “Pizzagate” scandal, which claimed Hillary Clinton was operating a child-sex trafficking ring in a pizzeria and led to an attack by infuriated Edgar Maddison Welch using AR-15 assault rifle.

Welch was attempting to investigate the truth for himself, but authorities did not necessarily agree with his forensic tactic, to say the least.

Although no one was injured by Welch, I can’t say the same for the poor, poor victims of the “Bowling Green Massacre”. Oh wait—Kellyanne Conway made that story up on live television, according to Politifact, a fact checking website.

I believe there is a difference between fake news and propaganda, but unfortunately propaganda is occurring in the U.S. at the same time as fake news, and no one knows who to believe.

This is especially problematic since our president is doing everything in his power to discredit the media and paint himself to be the only credible source.

On Feb. 7 President Trump mistakenly reported that the crime rate is the highest it has been in 47 years in order to promote his immigration and deportation policies.

Although there was a slight spike between the years 2014 and 2015, Trump’s statement was a blatant lie.

In fact, the number of number of murders declined by 42 percent between 1993 and 2014, according to Politifact.

It is hard to prove whether or not Trump is lying intentionally, but the fact that his statements are false is indisputable. Not only are Trump’s statements untrue, he is using those falsities as the basis for very real policies.

The scariest part of all of this is the spread of misinformation is about to get a whole lot scarier.

According to a research paper published June 2016 by professors from Stanford University and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, technologists are capable of controlling someone’s facial expressions on camera in live time.

For facial re-enactment to work, there must be a “source actor” who is controlling the facial expressions of a “target actor.”

During a live video, both the facial expressions of the target actor and the source actor are tracked, and technologists “convincingly re-render the synthesized target face on top of the corresponding video stream such that it seamlessly blends with the real-world illumination,” according to the article. In other words, even though the target actor might be smiling in a live video, if the source actor is frowning, the target actor will appear to be frowning.

I highly recommend watching the YouTube demonstration to fully understand how easy it is to be fooled by this technology.

Simply type in “Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos,” and prepare for your mind to be blown.

What happens when live speeches are hacked?

Vanity Fair pointed out a potential scenario in which a political group creates a fake video of Trump saying he is going to drop a nuclear bomb on China. The velocity of news contagion would mean that the Trump administration would have very little time to prove that the video was fake and avert an international crisis.

If we’re getting duped by both print and video media sources, how will we filter out the truth?

There is reason to be alarmed here, and I hope that you don’t find this media warning too ironic to take seriously.

Elon Musk eases environmental concerns

By Lily Spechler, The Vermont Cynic

CNBC called Elon Musk the 21st century Thomas Edison.

Elon Musk is the CEO of American auto maker and energy storage company Tesla, co-founder of Solar-City, the CTO of rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX; and he has a few words to ease your environ-minds with regard to our new secretary of state and former CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson.

In my opinion, Musk’s approach to the new conservative era is a perspective worth thinking about.

Musk openly tweeted his support of Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, which absolutely floored his environmental followers.

The tweet was in response to the The Economist’s tweet, which read, “Rex Tillerson has been narrowly approved as U.S. secretary of state. He has the integrity to talk sense to his boss.”

Musk’s response tweet, directed at TheEconomist said, “This may sound surprising coming from me, but I agree with The Economist. Rex Tillerson has the potential to be an excellent Sec of State.”

Musk also noted that Tillerson stands by the idea that a carbon tax could make sense.

Although Exxon isn’t exactly the beacon of “green” is indisputably one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country and in the world.

Tillerson reaches a demographic people that most environmentalists cannot reach, which is exactly why his acknowledgement of climate change is such an important asset to the environmental movement.

Recently, Exxon has seen revenues plummet. Exxon reported that in 2015, they earned $16.2 billion, compared to $32.5 billion the year before. Experts largely ascribe this revenue drop to the fact that greener alternatives are finally becoming more economically viable.

According to CNBC, Tillerson “stressed the need the need for ‘a uniform standard to hold all nations accountable,’ saying that the challenge of climate change is global, and that nations developing now are likely to generate a considerable amount of carbon emissions in the future.”

Tillerson’s motives are definitely questionable. Does he truly care about the health of the environment, or is he simply trying to bridge the growing revenue gap and appeal to a greener audience?

Regardless, the fact that he is not only acknowledging climate change, but suggesting that he is open to preventative action, is a huge victory. Tillerson has a plethora of right leaning followers, and if he is recognizing that climate change is real, then hopefully his followers will begin to do the same.

The right-leaning White House is scary to the environmental community, but there is merit in recognizing that it is not as if right leaning conservatives never existed in our country before this election. Perhaps this will be the perfect opportunity to learn to speak conservative language, and figure out a way to connect with the portion of our country that environmentalists have never fully connected with before.

According to Musk, “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

I don’t know about you, but when a futurist like Elon Musk speaks, I take a moment to listen. Certainly, this election sparked change. But it doesn’t necessarily need to spark disaster.

Memes for Bustle Digital Group

Unicorns Exist

Unicorns Exist

The “real world” is a scary place filled with brilliant people. For youngsters with a few years ahead of them, and graduating seniors like me who are desperately trying to figure it out, here is what I’ve learned so far about the real world: if you want to be a truly competitive candidate you have to be a unicorn. Unicorns don’t exist, you say? Yes, they do, and they’re here to steal your jobs right from your fingertips. Unicorns are individuals who bridge the gap between the visionaries and the engineers. The ones who can not only conceptualize a web page, but be able to understand how the idea will translate into code. The first step to becoming a unicorn of course, is believing. Once you believe, you can become.

Five websites that will help you become a unicorn:

  1. https://skillcrush.com

Skillcrush is a comprehensive, hip website that will empower you to try your hand at coding.

2. http://www.pyladies.com

It turns out the coding language Python is actually named after the creative masterpiece, Monty Python. Don’t think you can’t talk code just because you have a creative mind.

3. www.wordpress.com

Obviously. This website is an easy comprehensive way of started on your Web journey.

4. https://www.lynda.com

Over 4,000 online courses available to learn new skills? Forget a dating website. Start a relationship with learning.

5. http://kelbyone.com

Back up your creative ideas with technique. Make it perfect.

You see, the more you know, the more your unicorn horn will grow. Good luck to all my fellow job seekers!

Spreading Positivity

In a world riddled with negative news, “I Love Rutland” dares to reinforce and attract the positive.

Professional photographer Donna GoodHale, from Expressions By Donna, along with Mike Napolitano, owner of Awesome Graphics, and Steve Costello, of Green Mountain Power, teamed up to interview and photograph total strangers and create an “I Love Rutland” campaign. The goal was to give the people of Rutland a chance to spread the love through storytelling.

“I feel that Rutland is a little city with a big heart. With all the negatives people focus on in the world, its nice to focus on something positive” said GoodHale.

The criteria for picking folks to interview is specific: Someone out and about in the city of Rutland who wants to share why they love Rutland.

“We’ve heard a thousand times from the mayor all the positive things about Rutland, let’s hear it from everyday people of Rutland,” GoodHale said.

After each interview her husband Bradley GoodHale transcribes the interview and she develops the template to be posted online. Posts are shared on the “I Love Rutland, Vermont” Facebook page, as well as the “I Love Rutland Vt” website.

“Everybody lives in one little community, yet it means something different to everyone,” said Donna.

Stories vary from love stories to stories about plumbing, but they have one thing in common — the storytellers love Rutland, Vermont.

“I came to Rutland because I fell in love with a girl, then I fell in love with the city,” said Brad GoodHale. “I enjoy that I can be serenaded by the many sounds of the city… my personal favorite is the ten-of-nine whistle. I love that the whistle harkens back to the days when it was a reminder that you had 10 minutes to get home before curfew.”

Lynn Wilson said, “First and Foremost, the people of Rutland are really accepting and generally happy. We have some problems, but we are Rutland — we’ve always figured it out.”

And of course, some stories will surely make you cry. One story features a woman named Summer Stoutes who donated her kidney to Brent Garrow, whom she had never even met.

“Rutland is a place where people care” said Cheryl Hooker.

Shedding some light on the positive experiences shared by Rutlanders reinforces the community feel and reminds readers how positively important it is to spread positivity.

GoodHale hopes to eventually create a book with all the different photographs, much like the Humans of New York books. The photography element is Donna’s favorite part, because it “puts a human face to these stories.”

Positivity is contagious, and the founders of the “I Love Rutland” campaign plan on engaging the entire community.

 

By Lily Spechler, Correspondent for the Rutland Reader

A Peach of a Show: Rutland Youth Theater Presents Classic Children’s Tale

Shot in the dark here: It’s very likely that you’re not living inside of the fuzzy walls of a massive peach. Rather, you inhabit some sort of house or apartment — free of contact with talking spiders, centipedes or earthworms, and you work at a regular job, making logical adult decisions from sunup to sundown.

If you dare to step out of the ordinary and get inside that peach, you can see life from Roald Dahl’s point of view at Rutland Youth Theatre’s production of “James and the Giant Peach,” which runs May 20 and May 21. With a cast of 60, students ages 5 to 18 years old, director Saskia Hagen Groom has managed to put together the two-hour musical production. And she did it with just eight weeks of prep time and training.

Almost 100 kids auditioned, and in auditions Hagen Groom assigned each student a number so as not to be biased by anyone’s name. She said she tried to, “really audition kids based on their ability.”

“Its tough,” she said. “Not everybody gets a part, but I always try and make room for kids that I think would greatly benefit from being part of the learning process of the theater.” The kids and their reactions to each person who auditions also played a huge role in cast selection. Before the students auditioned, Hagen Groom always told them not to guess what she wanted, but to give her something original.

Case in point: Kyle Mead. He took everyone by surprise by getting down on his belly and doing “the worm” across the floor. All the kids started clapping and screaming, “he’s the earthworm!” Hagen Groom said that “they made the decision for me.”

But the selection process wasn’t always that easy. It was difficult to choose the lead, she said. James is supposed to be someone with an unchanged voice, but the role, which involves extensive singing and acting, is a huge responsibility. She chose 13-year-old Val Giesey. He has been working with Rutland Youth Theatre for the past six years, and loves the supportive atmosphere and family community. “In the show, James’ parents died, and I have never lost anyone that close to me, so I’ve had to figure out how to portray that without having the experience,” Val said, when asked about his acting challenges.

But that’s not what Hagen Groom sees as the biggest challenge. She laughed and said, “We’re praying and hoping his voice doesn’t change.”

One giant obstacle was finding the physical space in which to rehearse with the giant peach. Currently, the Rutland Youth Theatre is using the Courcelle building to practice, but the space isn’t big enough to fit the peach. Hagen Groom said, “They will not have worked with the peach until four days before the show.” She said they are in search of a community sponsor who could provide a place to keep big set pieces and a place to rehearse. Although both Hagen Groom and the cast members are concerned about the peach issue, surely with the help of some of that Roald Dahl magic, everything will run smoothly.

When asked what is most rewarding about being a director, she laughed, and said it would take about two weeks to explain. The most rewarding part, however, is seeing kids, “from a variety of backgrounds, troubled homes, obstacles, all come together like a family. Because you work together so intensely, everyone’s actions have a consequence. You all have to work together for the final product, sometimes to tears! But to see these kids transform from outsiders — sometimes kids who just don’t fit in — to have them find themselves, either through being a different character or working well with others — that to me is amazingly rewarding.”

The Rutland Youth Theatre is a place where everyone has a voice, even the leaves and spiders. Olivia Lane, who is only 6 years old, was concerned that she needed more time on stage to express her full character. “I’m the little spider and I am sassy,” the tiny natural-born actress said to Hagen Groom, “And I hope you can make that happen!”

Myles Donohue, 9, is both nervous and excited about his debut with Rutland Youth Theatre. Donohue has learned how to be more comfortable on stage, as well as the importance of timing. He fell in love with the choreography. When asked what Myles is most excited about he said, “the beginning of the play… but you’ll have to wait and see to find out more!”

Graduating high school senior Will Giering, 18, is playing the character Buzz. It’s his last show with the group, and he is sad to be leaving. He will be going on to study theater at Ithaca College. His love of the arts “can be traced back to Rutland Youth Theatre.”

Brandon Bailey, 18, who will be playing the character Centipede, said one of the most difficult obstacles was learning how to walk like a centipede — memorizing his lines is a breeze in comparison. Bailey is also a graduating senior, and is excited to announce that he will continue to pursue his passion for theater at Castleton University, though he plans to become a math teacher. Although it sounds like an unusual combination, Bailey said, “music and math go together like crisscross.”

In the wise words of Roald Dahl in “James and the Giant Peach,” Rutland Youth Theatre would like to say, “Come right up close to me and I will show you something wonderful.” See you at the show!

 

By Lily Spechler, Correspondent for the Rutland Reader

Write to Choose

Ready for some alarming statistics? Planned Parenthood states that 3 out of 10 women in the United States will get an abortion before the time they are 45. 18 out of 100 people who use condoms will become pregnant every single year. The birth control pill is only 91% effective. These statistics are shocking and they are very real. In my eyes, as a young woman in the free world, it is so glaringly obvious to me that women deserve the right to choose. And yet, to my disbelief, Roe v. Wade, the pivotal 1973 decision that legalized abortions, is an ongoing discussion, not a stable fact.

In the third presidential Debate, when asked if he would want the court to overturn Roe V. Wade, President-elect Donald Trump responded:

“Well, if that would happen, because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges…it will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”

Mr. Trump, if you don’t mind, I’d like to say a few words on behalf of my fellow countrywomen, because we are highly concerned.

With all due respect, you are a man, and perhaps it is hard to truly understand the anxieties women feel surrounding sex. The concept that something as common as a contraception failure (just to repeat, 18 out of 100 people using condoms) could lead to something as life altering as having a child is crippling. Try and truly comprehend the fact that a fetus could grow inside our bodies, and our bodies would have to morph and rearrange for nine months whether or not we wanted it to, interrupting our commutes, our class time, our study sessions, our full time jobs, our portals to achieving our full potential. Women can become pregnant as soon as they get their period. For some this is before they even turn eleven. Not to mention, sometimes sex is not a voluntary action. 1 in 5 women in college fall victim to rape. There is no law that legally binds a biological father to the child. There are no systems in place that ensure that every mother and child is provided with enough money for a good life. There are no systems in place that provides funding for every child born with disabilities. There is no system to help women earn a college degree under these circumstances. There is no way to shield women from the stigma that comes along with pregnancy. Men have the luxury of externalizing this anxiety. Women do not have that luxury.

Your plan for paid maternity leave calls for only six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers, not fathers.

According to TIME, “There are many problems with this, including its sexist presumption that only women can be caregivers. Policies that only allow women time off end up hurting women by pushing women to stay home and men to stay at work.”

It is also unclear whether your policy includes single mothers, the most vulnerable demographic in society.  According to the Washington Post, the maternity leave policy has a marriage requirement cited on your campaign’s website, Mr. Trump. What an embarrassment to the United States of America.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio signed the “Senate Bill 127”, which bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making no exception to victims of rape or incest. Vice Media reports that of the 16 states that ban abortions after 20 weeks, only Arkansas has made an exception for rape or incest. And women across the country held their breath as the Heartbeat Bill was passed by lawmakers in Ohio. This new bill called for the banning of abortions after only 6 weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women even know that they are pregnant. Again, this bill would have made no exception for incest or rape. Thankfully, Gov. Kasich vetoed the bill, but the prospect send shivers across the country. The passing of the Heartbeat Bill was far too close for comfort.

Mr. Trump, you claim that you want to “Make America Great Again”. But last time I checked, women have been celebrating the freedom and right to choose for 44 years, and that’s been pretty great. I respect that religion exists in this country. But the best part about America is that it is a melting pot, laden with spices of all different flavors, working together as one. The atheists are here too. The people who believe in God and also believe reproductive rights are here too. Forcing religious beliefs onto a nation by taking away their right to choose goes against the very essence of America, land of the free. Americans got hung up on a few e-mails and Hillary Clinton lost the election, and the threat to basic women’s rights is collateral damage. I am highly doubtful that any movement will be made towards limiting the ability of men to obtain Viagra, but what do I know? Trump would say, I’m just a “nasty woman”.