These German pilots stopped the deportation of over 200 asylum seekers on their flights.

Germany has become a focal point for the immigration debate in Europe.

The European nation has opened its doors to asylum-seekers and refugees looking for a safe haven. Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to accept 10,000 U.N. refugees into the country; between January and July 2017, Germany reportedly accepted approximately 117,000 asylum seekers.

What happens to asylum seekers who are turned away? Unfortunately, if they appeal the decision regarding their rejected asylum applications and are denied, they risk deportation. According to Germany's Office of Immigration and Refugees, the country has rejected 210,000 asylum seekers.


But several German pilots have been preventing asylum seekers from being deported in a truly "Hail Mary" fashion.

Throughout all of 2017, these pilots refused to fly planes set to deport 222 Afghan asylum seekers. The stand down from these flights comes from a controversial European Union decision to designate Afghanistan as a "safe country of origin." The designation resulted in many Afghan nationals losing their asylum status.

Out of all the flights that refused to take off, 85 were operated by Lufthansa (or its subsidiary Eurowing). Most of these flights were scheduled to take off in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, where, according to Quartz, the #WelcomeUnited campaign often holds their pro-refugee protests.

Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivias/AFP/Getty Images.

These pilots risk being punished with disciplinary measures for refusing to fly on moral grounds. However, it should be noted that some had other reasons for refusing to take off. For instance, they could cite "security reasons" for not flying a plane. "If [a pilot] has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger," Lufthansa spokesperson Michael Lamberty said in a statement to the German press.

Unlike the U.S., Germany's federal government is barred from conducting and enforcing deportation, meaning that deportation is the responsibility of the local and state governments. Therefore, these protests add more obstacles to the successful deportation of asylum seekers.

Pilots refusing to fly deportation flights are just one example of activists and airline companies pushing back against deportations.

In July, Swedish activist Elin Errson made headlines for live-streaming her refusal to sit down because an Afghan man on the flight was about to be deported.

"I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan," Errson said in her live-stream. "I am trying to change my country's rules. I don't like them. It is not right to send people to hell."

In 2013, immigration activists chained themselves to courthouses to prevent jail sentences for undocumented immigrants. More recently, others have chained themselves to tires to physically block buses from carrying out deportations.

Airline companies are also taking part. For example, in June 2018, Virgin Atlantic Airlines announced they will no longer help deport immigrants. American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines have also publicly announced their refusal to deport immigrant children in response to President Trump's family separation policy. In addition to these, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Alaskan Airlines all have released public statements criticizing the U.S. immigration policy.

Let's hope other airlines take notice and join the good fight.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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