Thrilling penguin news! Chile is killing an iron mine that would harm the waddly birds.
Photo by farenheit75/Flickr.

Ah, Chile. While not typically top of mind for the average American, the unassuming coastal strip has quietly become a sort of ... yang to our yin. The delicate floral sucking candy to our taste-bud-annihilating chocolate-caramel-peanut butter-sour-red-hot mouth bomb.

And, increasingly, they are the #RESIST window sticker to America's MAGA hat.


While the Trump administration rolls back LGBTQ protections, Chile's president is touting a marriage equality bill. While dozens of U.S. states are trying to regulate out as many Planned Parenthood clinics as the law will allow, Chilean lawmakers recently relaxed the country's abortion ban, which was one of the world's strictest (though their new law carves out several exceptions, the procedure is still largely banned in Chile, but still — progress!).

Now, the skinny South American nation is once again playing the U.S.'s bizarro world doppelganger — by siding with a bunch of penguins in a dispute with a mining company.

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

According to an AFP report, Chile recently killed a $2.5-billion iron-mining project to save the health (and, potentially, lives) of thousands of the waddly little birds.

The project was slated to be built just south of three islands where over 80% of the world's Humboldt penguins live and would include a port to ship iron all over the world. A review by 14 agencies found that the plan failed to sufficiently guarantee that the animals would not be affected.

"We are not against economic development or projects that are necessary for the country's growth, but they must offer adequate solutions for the impact they will have," Environment Minister Marcelo Mena told the AFP.

That's not just the polar opposite of what the U.S. would do. It's the polar opposite of what the U.S. government actually is doing.

Blowing up this mountain in Virginia to get at the coal underneath seems fine. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

In August, the Interior Department outlined a plan to prioritize oil extraction over efforts to protect the greater sage-grouse, a grassland bird that looks like the result of an unforgettable evening between a peacock, a porcupine, and a tarantula.

Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under President Trump, canceled an Obama-era rule designed to protect whales and sea turtles from fishing nets.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants to blow up mountaintops so badly they've stopped studying whether doing so is detrimental to the health and safety of animals — and human beings — that live nearby.

It's not just Chile stepping up either, at least where safeguarding the natural world we all share is concerned.

Just ask the 195 other countries that signed the Paris Climate Accord — which commits parties to holding the Earth's temperature rise below two degrees Celsius — that President Trump announced the U.S. would soon be leaving.

It all adds up to a pretty clear message: The rest of the world is getting with the program, while the U.S. government is sitting here, arms folded, hoping rare birds can adjust to a coal dust and jagged pebble diet.

Photo by Martin Bernetti/Getty Images.

Want the U.S. to get back on the bandwagon? You can let your elected representatives know how you feel and help out groups, like the Environmental Defense Fund, that are pushing back against regulation rollback.

In the meantime, thanks to their friends in Chile, a few thousand penguins are getting to celebrate the news of a lifetime. It may not be happening in the U-S-of-A, but it's a Hollywood ending all the same. (Anyone know how to say "Morgan Freeman" in Spanish?)

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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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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.

Keep Reading Show less