A convicted troll took a shot at Puerto Rico. Then Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stopped by.

Why would anyone attack Puerto Rico? The island and its residents are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.

Despite losing an estimated 70 percent of its agriculture during the hurricane and enduring an estimated $9 billion in damages, the people of Puerto Rico continue to focus on recovery efforts. And along the way, they continue to make very meaningful contributions to the United States, despite an ongoing and seemingly endless pursuit of statehood.

In case you didn’t get that, Puerto Rico is the “good guy” in this story.


So, who’s the bad guy? Enter Dinesh D’Souza.

The right-wing commentator has become more of a troll than a thought leader in recent years. He’s even a convicted felon. But that has only seemed to accelerate his ridiculous, attention-seeking missives on Twitter and in other dark corners of the Internet.

Less than a year after Hurricane Maria, D’Souza took to Twitter to attack Puerto Rico, saying: “Normally colonies provide resources for the nations that rule them. What does Puerto Rico provide the US?”

The xenophobic, degrading and ignorant comment seemingly came out of nowhere, though seemed to be stoked over the controversy surrounding President Trump’s response to the hurricane relief effort.

Thankfully, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez was quick to respond with some mic dropping facts:

- Hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the US military

- Nat'l supply of hospital IV bags & medical supplies

- Historically, sugar, coffee, crops

- A strategic port in the Atlantic

& Importantly for the 1%, one of the biggest loophole tax havens for the super-rich.

It is revealing that this question:

a) comes from quite the colonial mindset of "what value is this territory providing us anyway?" (Do we ask that about Appalachia, etc?)

b) implies that PR's current status is somehow an act of charity - also a sentiment rooted in colonialism

Despite getting absolutely owned (or maybe because of it?) D’Souza has remained obsessed with AOC. In fact, the pinned tweet on his account is a bizarre missive claiming that President Franklin Roosevelt was a racist.

We might not be able to change his mind when it comes to the basic facts or decency. But we can stay laser focused on our own actions. The people of Puerto Rico still need our help. And they certainly don't need grief from outcasts like Dinesh D'Souza.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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

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