President Trump won't address climate change, so Beyoncé will

Beyoncé's been giving back to her hometown of Houston as it digs out from under the disaster that was Hurricane Harvey.

After Harvey left Houston a flooded mess, the singer teamed up with some local organizations to help bring attention to the disaster relief efforts and making a few on-the-ground appearances herself. Disaster relief is nothing new for Beyoncé — in 2005, she set up the Survivor Foundation to help victims of Hurricane Katrina — so it didn't come as a huge surprise that she took such a hands-on approach when Houston needed her.

It was during the Hand in Hand charity telethon, however, that Beyoncé addressed an underlying issue that many in our own government aren't willing to tackle: climate change.

More than $44 million for disaster relief was raised during the Hand in Hand telethon, but it was Beyoncé's powerful statement that made headlines the morning after.

Stating the obvious — that natural disasters don't care about the color your skin is, the religion you practice, or how much money you've got in your checking account — Beyoncé segued into a message about the long-term effects of climate change. Citing a number of recent disasters, which, mind you, aren't in themselves proof of climate change but are what we can look forward to if we don't take swift action, she called on viewers to "come together in a collective effort to raise our voices, to help our communities, to lift our spirits, and heal" before it's too late.

GIFs from Beyoncé/YouTube.

Make no mistake about it: Climate change has been and will continue to disparately harm poor communities and people of color.

Anyone can be hit by a natural disaster, but poorer countries and poorer parts of the U.S. are less equipped to be able to effectively prepare for or recover from tragedy. Many people can't afford to just pack up their belongings and move out of harm's way or rebuild homes destroyed by storm winds and debris. Fights against racism, climate change, and income inequality are inextricably linked; it's why a number of groups have taken an intersectional approach on so many of these topics.

Climate change is very real. In December, more than 800 climate scientists signed a letter urging then-President-elect Trump to address the climate crisis just waiting to happen. Since then, Trump has appointed a climate denier to head the Environmental Protection agency, pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, and rolled back dozens of common sense regulations meant to protect our fragile planet.

If scientists can't get through to deniers, maybe Beyoncé can. We're entering an all-hands-on-deck kind of era when it comes to fighting climate change, so let's get in formation.

Watch Beyoncé's powerful message from the Hand in Hand benefit below.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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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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