J.K. Rowling just burned Donald Trump on Twitter. Was she right?

After Donald Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States, J.K. Rowling took him to school as only she can.


"Oh snap," replied the entire Internet all at once.


"OH SNAP!" the Internet later added.

While Rowling's tweet is obviously very cathartic for those horrified by Trump's bizarre Islamophobic comments and increasingly terrifying policy proposals, it also raises, perhaps, the most critical question of the 2016 election:

Is Donald Trump actually worse than Voldemort?

Let's take a look at the evidence — in the five most relevant bad-guy categories.

1. Demonizing and scapegoating an entire ethnic group.

Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Voldemort really had it in for Muggles and half-blood wizards, going so far as to start an entire wizard-on-wizard war in order to purge them from magical society.

Donald Trump, admittedly, hasn't quite gotten there yet, but he has been ratcheting up his anti-Muslim rhetoric — first by suggesting Muslims should be placed on a watch list, then floating the idea of closing down mosques, and finally by openly calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, including, presumably, all refugees fleeing terror in Syria, Iraqi translators who risked their lives helping American troops, and even — bizarrely — American citizens who are Muslim and happen to be living abroad.

That said, Voldemort super doubleplus infinity — personally — hated anyone of mixed Muggle/wizard heritage, running around calling them "mudbloods" to anyone who would listen. To Trump's credit (three words I can't believe I just used in that order), he hasn't resorted to deploying racial slurs outright. Yet. It's also hard to imagine Voldemort saying, "I love the Muggles. I think they're great people."

And Trump hasn't straight-up murdered a random German family for no reason.

Minor Advantage: Voldemort.

2. Owning a snake.

GIF from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"/Warner Bros.

Like any super-villain who's anyone, Voldemort owned a giant, man-eating snake infested with a literal shard of his own coal-dark soul.

As far as we know, Trump does not own a snake.

Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images.

As far as we know.

Major Advantage: Voldemort.

3. Whipping up racist, xenophobic sentiment in a large group of dedicated followers.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Both Voldemort and Trump not only managed to amass a loyal cadre of devotees, they also used/are using their highly visible platforms to spout their bigoted views, implicitly giving their supporters permission to indulge in their own — much to the dismay of many of their (former) friends and neighbors.

As powerful, middle-aged magicians, those on Team Voldemort were undeniably more powerful. That said, in all of the "Harry Potter" series, we meet, what, like, 12 dark wizards total? There's Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix, the other one, the really bad guy with the beard, Dolores Umbridge, the literally rat-faced Peter Pettigrew, and Snape every once in a while? That's pretty much it. Most Potter fans estimate the number of Death Eaters around for the Battle of Hogwarts at somewhere between 17 and 30.

Trump's rallies have already attracted tens of thousands, some of whom have assaulted protestors, laughed and smiled as he mocked a disabled reporter, and generally behaved extremely badly. They might not be as skilled with the killing curse, but words do real damage too. And Trump is running for public office. As powerful as he was, Voldemort was never even elected dog catcher.

Minor Advantage: Trump.

4. Hatred of Robert Pattinson.

When it comes to one of the absolutely essential markers of villainy — despising actor Robert Pattinson with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns — Trump doesn't even rate. In fact, it seems like he actually kind of loves the guy. He's even been known to give him free relationship advice on occasion:

Not only did Voldemort hate Robert Pattinson, he murdered him the first time they met.

Poor Cedric. GIF from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"/Warner Bros.

Major Advantage: Voldemort.

5. Actually existing in real life.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

While Voldemort had plenty of vile, pernicious ideas — up to and including outright genocide — his ability to do harm was limited by the fact that he was a fictional character who did not actually exist.

Donald Trump's worldview is less apocalyptic race war, more mundane, cynical bigotry. But — and this is really the key bullet point — there's a small but real chance he could actually be president of the United States in the not-too-distant future.

Major Advantage: Trump.

Conclusion:

After reviewing the evidence, it's fairly clear that Voldemort remains ever-so-slightly worse than Donald Trump in theory. But Rowling is undoubtedly correct that Donald Trump — please excuse me — trumps that by being a real, live person whose harmful words are being broadcast to millions around the world.

Thankfully, Voldemort had one thing Trump doesn't, at least for the moment:

Power.

We Americans should probably err on the safe side and make sure we keep it that way.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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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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