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A man told me gun laws would create more 'soft targets.' He summed up the whole problem.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where people living their lives are referred to as 'soft targets.'

gun violence, mass shootings, school shootings
Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Only in America are kids in classrooms referred to as "soft targets."

On the Fourth of July, a gunman opened fire at a parade in quaint Highland Park, Illinois, killing at least six people, injuring dozens and traumatizing (once again) an entire nation.

My family member who was at the parade was able to flee to safety, but the trauma of what she experienced will linger. For the toddler with the blood-soaked sock, who was carried to safety by a stranger after being pulled from under his father's bullet-torn body and ended up losing both of his parents in the massacre, life will never be the same.

There's a phrase I keep seeing in debates over gun violence, one that I can't seem to shake from my mind. After the Uvalde school shooting, I shared my thoughts on why arming teachers is a bad idea, and a gentleman responded with this brief comment:

"Way to create more soft targets."


Soft targets. That phrase gets me every time.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where children in school or people gathering for enjoyment are referred to as "soft targets"—active war zones and the United States of America.

Never in a million years would I think to use the words "soft targets" to refer to schoolchildren—or parade-goers, or people enjoying a live concert, or grocery shoppers or people in a bible study. I wouldn't even use the term "unarmed civilians" unless I were in the military and actively involved in a military operation.

They're not targets, they're people. People just living life.

That's what freedom is supposed to be, isn't it? The ability to just live life?

Instead, we are being held hostage by a militarized monster of our own making, one that says the answer to America's gun violence is more guns. (The irony, of course, being the fact that we already have more guns than people.) We see it in the weird worshipping of weapons, the Christmas cards with the whole family carrying, the bizarre fetish with one interpretation of one constitutional amendment to the exclusion of all others. It's in the language being used not only in reference to guns, but in reference to people just going about their daily lives—that is, "soft targets."

The truth is we should be "soft targets." No, really. That's what freedom is. We should be able to go to school and the store and our houses of worship without fear of being shot. We should be able to peaceably assemble per our First Amendment right without being scattered and shattered by gunfire.

We shouldn't feel the need to arm ourselves simply to go about our daily lives. Feeling compelled to carry a gun at all times isn't freedom. Living like we're living right now, with mass shootings on the regular, isn't freedom. And adding more guns won't make us more free. It won't. It hasn't.

If the Highland Park parade shooting proved anything, it's that even an event with a police presence in an idyllic, upscale, objectively "safe" suburb isn't safe from mass gun violence. There were good guys with guns there. There were good guys with guns in Uvalde, too. There were good guys with guns in Buffalo. So many good guys with guns. And yet, here we are.

It's time to look in the mirror and recognize how ridiculous we've become. Other civilized nations don't refer to children as "soft targets." They just don't. While we're debating whether the U.S. is a gun violence outlier because of doors or video games or mental illness, which the rest of the world has as well, our peers in other developed countries live their daily lives with freedom that we do not have—the freedom to gather without worrying that a whack job with a weapon of war is going to open fire, the freedom to go to school without rehearsing for a mass shooting event, the freedom to not ever think about carrying a gun to defend themselves against other guns.

Gun violence can happen anywhere, yes. But it happens far, far more often here than in other developed nations. There's a reason for that. Perhaps when we finally accept that our culture's dysfunctional relationship with guns is the problem, the idea of referring to people simply living their lives as "soft targets" will be as disturbing here as it is everywhere else.

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.


They were also there to shoot scenes for a documentary. And while they were hoping to capture some cool moments on camera, no one expected a huge chunk of a glacier to snap clean off and slide into the ocean right in front of their eyes.


science, calving, glaciers

A glacier falls into the sea.

assets.rebelmouse.io

ocean swells, sea level, erosion, going green

Massive swells created by large chunks of glacier falling away.

assets.rebelmouse.io

It was the largest such event ever filmed.

For nearly an hour and 15 minutes, Balog and his crew stood by and watched as a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan — but with ice-equivalent buildings that were two to three times taller than that — simply melted away.

geological catastrophe, earth, glacier melt

A representation demonstrating the massive size of ice that broke off into the sea.

assets.rebelmouse.io

As far as anyone knows, this was an unprecedented geological catastrophe and they caught the entire thing on tape. It won't be the last time something like this happens either.

But once upon a time, Balog was openly skeptical about that "global warming" thing.

Balog had a reputation since the early 1980s as a conservationist and environmental photographer. And for nearly 20 years, he'd scoffed at the climate change heralds shouting, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

"I didn't think that humans were capable of changing the basic physics and chemistry of this entire, huge planet. It didn't seem probable, it didn't seem possible," he explained in the 2012 documentary film "Chasing Ice."

There was too much margin of error in the computer simulations, too many other pressing problems to address about our beautiful planet. As far as he was concerned, these melodramatic doomsayers were distracting from the real issues.

That was then.

Greenland, Antarctica, glacier calving

The glacier ice continues to erode away.

assets.rebelmouse.io

In fact, it wasn't until 2005 that Balog became a believer.

He was sent on a photo expedition of the Arctic by National Geographic, and that first northern trip was more than enough to see the damage for himself.

"It was about actual tangible physical evidence that was preserved in the ice cores of Greenland and Antarctica," he said in a 2012 interview with ThinkProgress. "That was really the smoking gun showing how far outside normal, natural variation the world has become. And that's when I started to really get the message that this was something consequential and serious and needed to be dealt with."

Some of that evidence may have been the fact that more Arctic landmass has melted away in the last 20 years than the previous 10,000 years.

Watch the video of the event of the glacier calving below:

This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

IMDB,Condé Nast/Wikipedia

The pop star said that this could help create safer environments for young performers.

Even in the healthiest of work environments, child actors are thrust into adult life before they’ve really had a chance to grow up. They don’t have the coping mechanisms for dealing with the stresses of fame, nor do they have the skills or authority to advocate for themselves when they are being abused.

The obvious answer to this problem is to provide protections for these kids. But let’s face it: exactly how to go about creating these protections isn’t so obvious. Hollywood is only just beginning to address these long-seated issues.

However, Ariana Grande, certainly no stranger to the highs and lows of finding fame at a young age, recently suggested that one solution would be “mandatory therapy” for younger actors.

Grande, who got her big break on the Nickelodeon show “Victorious” when she was just 14, reflected on her time on the network while guest appearing on Penn Badgley’s Podcrushed podcast.

This interview comes not too long after the shocking revelations made in the docuseries “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” where former Nickelodeon stars accused former producer Dan Schnieder of a litany of abuses, including but not limited to sexual harassment and racism.

Grande did not appear on the docuseries, footage from “Victorious” was often used as an example of inappropriate content for children.

@discoveryplusuk It’s got everyone talking. #QuietOnSet #TheDarkSideOfKidsTV#nickelodeon #danschneider #90skids #arianagrande #amandabynes ♬ original sound - discoveryplusuk

"I think that’s something that we were convinced was the cool thing about us,” she reflected during the podcast. “That we pushed the envelope with our humor and innuendos. We were told — and convinced as well — that it was the cool differentiation. It all just happened so quickly and now looking back on some of the clips I’m like, ‘Thats… Damn, really?’”After “reprocessing” a lot of her experience around that time, she came to the conclusion that there should be “mandatory therapy” 2-3 times a week included in a young actors contract.

“There should be an element that is mandatory of therapy, a professional person to unpack what this experience of your life changing so drastically does to you at a young age,” she said, adding that this should probably be used for celebrities of all ages.

In addition, she thinks that “parents [should be] allowed to be wherever they want to be.”

"A lot of people don’t have the support that they need to get through performing at that level at such a young age. But also, dealing with some of the things that the survivors who have come forward [have]... There’s not a word for how devastating that is to hear about. So, I think the environment just needs to be made a lot safer all around.”

You can watch the podcast episode in full below:

The generational caption debate is a big deal.

If you’re a Gen Xer or older, one surprising habit the younger generations developed is their love of subtitles or closed-captioning while watching TV. To older generations, closed-captioning was only for grandparents, the hearing impaired, or when watching the news in a restaurant or gym.

But these days, studies show that Millenials and Gen Z are big fans of captions and regularly turn them on when watching their favorite streaming platforms. A recent study found that more than half of Gen Z and Millenials prefer captions on when watching television.

It’s believed that their preference for subtitles stems from the ubiquity of captioning on social media sites such as TikTok or Instagram.


This generational change perplexed TikTokker, teacher and Gen X mother, Kelly Gibson.

Always leaning! #genx #millennial #caption #learning

@gibsonishere

Always leaning! #genx #millennial #caption #learning

"I have three daughters, and they were here. Two of them are young millennials; the other one is an older Gen Z," Gibson explained in a video with over 400,000 views. "All of them were like, 'Why don't you have the captions on?'”

The mother couldn’t believe that her young kids preferred to watch TV like her grandparents. It just did not compute.

"My Gen X butt was shocked to find out that these young people have decided it's absolutely OK to watch movies with the captions going the whole time," she said jokingly.

But like a good mother, Gibson asked her girls why they preferred to watch TV with captioning, and their reason was straightforward. With subtitles, it’s easier not to lose track of the dialog if people in the room start talking.

"They get more out of it," Gibson explained. "If somebody talks to them in the middle of the show, they can still read and get what's going on even if they can't hear clearly. Why are young people so much smarter than us?"

At the end of the video, Gibson asked her followers whether they watch TV with subtitles on or off. "How many of you out there that are Millennials actually do this? And how many of you Gen Xers are so excited that this is potentially an option?" she asked.

Gibson received over 8,400 responses to her question, and people have a lot of different reasons for preferring to watch TV with captions.

“Millennial here. I have ADHD along with the occasional audio processing issues. I love captions. Also, sometimes I like crunchy movie snacks,” Jessileemorgan wrote. “We use the captions because I (GenX) hate the inability of the movie makers to keep sound consistent. Ex: explosions too loud conversation to quiet,” Lara Lytle added.

“My kids do this and since we can’t figure out how to turn it off when they leave, it’s become a staple. GenX here!” Kelly Piller wrote.

The interesting takeaway from the debate is that anti-caption people often believe that having writing on the screen distracts them from the movie. They’re too busy reading the bottom of the screen to feel the film's emotional impact or enjoy the acting and cinematography. However, those who are pro-caption say that it makes the film easier to understand and helps them stay involved with the film when there are distractions.

So who’s right? The person holding the remote.


This article originally appeared on 1.11.24

Image by Stacey Kennedy from Pixabay

Graduation is a big milestone that can come with grief for some communities.

It's been nearly 12 years since a young man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with an AR-15. rifle and two handguns and opened fire, killing 20 first graders and six faculty members before turning the gun on himself.

Survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting—kids who watched their friends and teachers being murdered in their classrooms—are now graduating from high school, and they have complicated feelings about the milestone and the 20 classmates who aren't joining them.

A private graduation ceremony was held at Newtown High School on June 12, 2024, with 335 graduates including around 60 Sandy Hook survivors. Some of them shared their thoughts with journalists in the days leading up to graduation.


“I think we’re all super excited for the day,” Lilly Wasilnak, 17, shared with the AP. "But I think we can’t forget ... that there is a whole chunk of our class missing. And so going into graduation, we all have very mixed emotions — trying to be excited for ourselves and this accomplishment that we’ve worked so hard for, but also those who aren’t able to share it with us, who should have been able to.”

"The shooter actually came into my classroom," Emma Ehrens, 17, told CBS News. "So I had to, like, watch all my friends and teachers get killed, and I had to run for my life at six years old."

According to the AP, Ehrens was one of 11 kids who survived from Classroom 10. She was able to escape with a group of students when the shooter paused to reload his gun. Five students and both teachers in the room were killed.

“I am definitely going be feeling a lot of mixed emotions,” Ehrens said. “I’m super excited to be, like, done with high school and moving on to the next chapter of my life. But I’m also so ... mournful, I guess, to have to be walking across that stage alone. … I like to think that they’ll be there with us and walking across that stage with us.”

The survivors who are graduating this year are dealing with both the exciting what ifs of their futures and the tragic what ifs of their past as they remember their slain classmates.

"Just growing up with having the fear, and the what ifs of what could have happened if I stayed? Because I was, like, I was going to be next," Ehrens told CBS News.

"So even going to prom, you think, well, what if they were my prom date? Or, you know, what if they were my significant other? What if they were able to walk the stage with me," survivor Ella Seaver added.

“As much as we’ve tried to have that normal, like, childhood and normal high school experience, it wasn’t totally normal,” Grace Fischer, 18, told CBS. “But even though we are missing ... such a big chunk of our class, like Lilly said, we are still graduating. ... We want to be those regular teenagers who walk across the stage that day and feel that, like, celebratory feeling in ourselves, knowing that we’ve come this far.”

That desire for normalcy conflicting with their not normal childhood is part of what makes graduation such a bittersweet experience for these young people. They had so much taken from them at such a young age, and that trauma doesn't just disappear. Some of the students expressed that they are looking forward to moving away from Newtown and building a life in which the school shooting doesn't define them.

Sandy Hook was unique in that the victims were so young and there were so many of them, but the survivors aren't alone in their experience. In the years since the Sandy Hook massacre, the U.S. has seen dozens more school shootings, and there are thousands of school shooting survivors dealing with related traumas. Many of those survivors have become outspoken anti-gun-violence advocates, pressuring officials to enact stronger laws to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

But for now, the Sandy Hook graduates are celebrating a big life milestone, just as they—and their 20 missing classmates—should be.

Watch six of the Sandy Hook survivors share their stories on Good Morning America:


via the_geriatricmillennial/TikTok (used with permission) and Karolina Kaboompics/Pexels

A mother deactivated her daughter's smartphone.

The number of teens and tweens who have smartphones is on the rise and we’re starting to see the effects that “great rewiring” has on them. Recent research shows that smartphones can have a very negative effect on girls’ mental health.

After giving her 11-year-old a smartphone about a year ago, Kailey Wood, known as The_GeriatricMillenial on TikTok, deactivated it because she’s seen “firsthand just how detrimental" they are. "So much so that last night, I finally said, 'I'm done with this,' and I deactivated my 11-year-old's phone," she says in a TikTok video. "And I don't know when I'm gonna give it back."


She initially gave her kids phones to keep track of them around the neighborhood, but now she “regrets” the decision. The 37-year-old mother of two from Buffalo, New York, shared her story in a TikTok video viewed over 1.4 million times.

@the_geriatricmillennial

Taking away my 11 year old daughters phone agter having one for a year because its feeling like more negative than positive lately. No opinions needed, parentinf kids in the digital age is hard enough but would love to hear what other parents are doing to maintain their kids independence while also being safe #momofteens #momoftweensgirls #momofdaughters #parentingadvice #teenswithphones #millennialmom #momsover30

Wood was tired of her daughter being in constant conflict with her friends, so she took the phone out of the equation. “Young girls get jealous and don’t think before they text, so they unintentionally hurt their friends' feelings,” she told Upworthy. “Snapchat and Instagram document their whereabouts and friends feel left out. When that happens, sometimes emotions fuel mean comments and DMs. They’re all totally normal feelings, but if I can prevent drama and conflict longer, then that's what I’m going to do.”

Wood struggled with the decision because smartphones made it easy for her to contact her daughter when she was at her friends’ houses. They also gave her peace of mind because she didn’t have the phone numbers of some of her friends’ parents.

However, she couldn’t take the constant jealousy and bickering between her daughter and her friends. “I just decided it’s gone too far. I’m done with this; we’re going to have to figure out a new solution,” she said in the video. "Phones and social media ... those are a part of the teenage experience now. But at what expense?"

Wood believes that to stop the problem, parents should “band together” to prevent children from getting smartphones until they are at least 14.

Replying to @Eboneytwoees

@the_geriatricmillennial

Replying to @Eboneytwoees

Since the video went viral in April, Wood has had a slight change of heart. She has reintroduced the phone but with a new set of strict rules. “No socials, limited screen time and she’s not allowed to bring it out of the house. So if she goes out, she only has her Apple Watch,” she told Upworthy. “Phones this age at sleepovers or hangouts just take away from the time together.”

The good news is that she has also recruited the parents of her daughter’s friends and they have implemented the same rules.

Wood believes that her strategy is all about making a difficult time in life a bit easier. "My goal is to avoid any social conflicts that social media or group chats unintentionally cause,” she told People. “Being a tween/teen already comes with enough pressure and drama, which leads to more depression/anxiety,"