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A severe oil price crash in Alberta, Canada, has left much of the area devastated — and at the worst possible time too.

The Calgary skyline. David Boily/AFP/Getty Images

One of Canada's largest oil and gas hubs, Alberta, and specifically the city of Calgary, has been hit hard by major price drops this year. Tens of thousands of workers have been laid off as a result; upwards of 30,000 by some estimates.


That's not the kind of news anyone wants to hear during the holiday season.

Photographer Ben Logan, a longtime resident of the area, wanted to find a way to give back to the city he loves.

"I've always enjoyed doing what I can for others," he says. "But volunteering at certain places didn't seem like it was enough right now."

So, with the help of his girlfriend, Logan had an idea: free holiday photos for families who might otherwise not be able to afford them.

"We thought we'd pick a spot somewhere, set up the camera, put up a sign," Logan says. "Just see who would come by and pick their day up a bit with a free photo."

He says there's something lovably cheesy and timeless about holiday photos and that even a relatively simple shoot with a professional photographer is more than most people can afford these days.

Initially, Logan prepared for only a handful of families to show. But news of the event quickly spread on social media and local news. Soon, he was prepping for over 1,000 people to show up.

Logan set up shop at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary on an icy December Saturday, and he waited.

The city was blasted with frigid temperatures that day, as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit. The weather, needless to say, put a serious damper on attendance. But it wasn't long before the first families started showing up — below freezing temperates be damned.

The first couple to arrive was bundled head to toe in winter gear. When they stripped down, they showed off sharp dress clothes for a (very) quick photo.

All photos by Ben Logan, used with permission

Others soon followed. Families with giggling kids. Couples in love.

People from all walks of life.

Logan says one man, in particular, stood out in his memory.

The man didn't hear about the photo shoot in advance, he just happened to be passing through. He's currently homeless and had traveled nearly 1,000 miles from Vancouver to see his dying mother.

"While he was walking around, he saw us and was able to capture a Christmas photo for her before she left us," Logan says. "That was pretty touching."

Though only a handful of families were able to brave the breathtakingly low temperatures, the event was a massive success.

Logan says when news began to spread about the photo shoot, a handful of local businesses decided to chip in: They donated a significant sum of money specifically for Logan to give to the Calgary Food Bank in the name of his project.

Logan will be out there at Olympic Plaza again, before Christmas, and he hopes for warmer weather this time. And either way, he plans to do the whole thing again next year. And every year after that.

"That was the dream behind it all," he says. "I would really, really love to do that."

Hopefully, things will have turned around for the citizens of Calgary by this time next year. But if they don't, Logan says he's ready and eager to spread holiday cheer to people when they need it the most.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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