Heroes

2 Australian southern right whales decided to hang out with this paddleboarder, and it was amazing.

We already knew that whales were highly evolved creatures. But who would have thought they liked chillin' in the surf like the rest of humankind?

2 Australian southern right whales decided to hang out with this paddleboarder, and it was amazing.
True
The Wilderness Society

We don't often get to see ginormous southern right whales hanging out with humans.

This might have something to do with the fact that we hunted them nearly to extinction. Or it could just be because our homes can't comfortably accommodate a 50-foot-long, 60-ton aquatic houseguest. Either/or.


GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

So it's easy to understand the excitement that filled local residents when they heard that a pair of these incredible leviathans were lounging right on the coast of Perth, Australia.

Presumably, the whales were interested in checking out the surfing scene at Esperance's Fourth Beach.

Whatever the reason for their casual beach trip, Jaimen Hudson headed down the footpath with his drone as soon he got word. He knew he had to capture the moment on camera.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

What he didn't know was that Dave Price, owner of the local Esperance Sail & Surf, had already made his way out onto the water to greet the friendly critters.

Here's how Hudson described the moment to the local news:

"Dave Price who lives close by, was just making his way over to the whales on his stand-up paddle board and they were really inquisitive and came over to meet him."
...
"I don't think it was dangerous, the whales moved to where he was and the whole time they were very slow moving and peaceful."

I think we're gonna need a bigger paddleboard. GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Southern right whales are just one of the many majestic animals that make their home in Australia.

I haven't actually been there, but from what I hear, all of these awesome creatures peacefully integrate into everyday Australian life, existing happily side by side with our cousins down under.

And, you know, also happily asserting their boundaries.

And sure, dingoes are crazycool, but it's the marine life in the country that's perhaps the most remarkable — thanks in part to the Great Australian Bight.

The bight is the longest east-west ice-free coastline in the southern hemisphere, spanning over 700 miles from Western Australia to Tasmania.

Image via Nachoman-au/Wikimedia Commons.

In addition to the majestic views from its hundreds-feet-high cliffs, the pristine waters of the bight are home to an abundance of amazing and unique creatures. 85% of the species that live there aren't found anywhere else on the entire planet. The bight is home to the largest nursery for endangered southern right whales.

Also: the blobfish.

GIF via Epic Wildlife.

So you can understand what I mean when I say that it's a pretty important ecosystem.

Unfortunately, the bight is in trouble — thanks to a certain accident-prone oil company.

Hey, remember that time BP was drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and then their rig exploded and spent 87 days spilling an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the water and killed 11 people and tens of thousands of animals and the entire area is still suffering from the aftermath more than five years later?

*Gasps and takes a breath.*

Oh, boy. Well, now BP is getting together with its friends to try that whole drilling thing all over again.

If BP spills oil in the Great Australian Bight, it'll take at least 35 days for support to arrive from Houston and Singapore — plus who knows how many more days after that before they finally plug the leak. And even then, there's a significant chance that a spill of any size will spread and contaminate the entire southern coast in under four months.

GIF via The Wilderness Society.

If by some strange miracle absolutely nothing goes wrong with BP's drilling, there's still the fact that millions of marine animals will be severely injured or killed by collateral damage from BP's underwater sonic blasting.

Simply put: The risk is too great.

So, two things: First, check out the amazing aerial video of Dave Price paddleboarding with his right whale friends.

Second: If that crystal-clear water strikes you as something to preserve, and you want those massive marine mammals to keep frolicking — or if you just don't want to see another oil disaster like the one that wrecked the Gulf of Mexico — take a second and sign this petition.

(Here's that link again! It's easy: Sign!)

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less
via Wikimedia Commons and Goalsetter

America's ethnic wealth gap is a multi-faceted problem that would take dramatic action, on multiple fronts, to overcome. One of the ways to help communities improve their economic well-being is through financial literacy.

Investopedia says there are five primary sources of financial education—families, high school, college, employers, and the military — and that education and household income are two of the biggest factors in predicting whether someone has a high level of financial literacy.

New Orleans Saints safety, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and social justice activist Malcolm Jenkins and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hope to help bridge the wealth gap by teaching students about investing at a young age.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.