Trump is already building a wall in Ireland, and the story behind it is ridiculous.

The Lodge at Doonbeg is one of the most highly praised resorts in Europe.

It attracts visitors from across the globe for its scenic views of Ireland's Atlantic coast and, most importantly, for its celebrated golf course.

Since February 2014, the resort has been owned by Trump International, who scooped it up after the previous owners reportedly became unable to afford the necessary repairs from a particularly harsh winter.


"We’re going to reshape it and make it one of the greatest golf courses in the world," Trump said at the time.

Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images.

Trump's first order of business? Build up the part of the golf course that runs along the beach.

An officially protected "special area of conservation," Doonbeg's Doughmore Beach had already lost more than 30 feet of its legendary dunes to erosion due to rising sea levels.

So Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr. gave the go-ahead to move some massive boulders on the sand at the edge of the property — without bothering to get the proper construction clearance first.

As you can imagine, that didn't go over well. Local officials put a stop to the un-permitted rock wall quickly.

So the Trumps responded by ... threatening to build an even bigger wall.

It's a classic Trump negotiation tactic: If we have to ask permission to drop a few big boulders on your beloved beach, then we might as well go all the way and spend millions of dollars on a 200,000-ton rock wall that's almost two miles long and 15 feet tall.

"It seems a very heavy-handed approach," David Flynn of the local West Clare Surf Club told the Irish Examiner. "We are not anti-development and we had a very good relationship with the golf club since 2002, but what they are planning is a quantum leap from previous proposals."

A view of Trump's Doonbeg resort from the water. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images.

When the Trumps filed a permit application with the Clare County Council about building the wall, they used climate change to justify the project.

According to Politico's review of the application's environmental impact statement prepared by an Irish environmental consultancy, it said in part (emphasis added):

"If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland. [...] The existing erosion rate will continue and worsen, due to sea level rise, in the next coming years, posing a real and immediate risk to most of the golf course frontage and assets."

Basically, they argued that this giant wall is necessary in order prevent additional damage from rising sea levels, which are caused by global warming and only getting worse.

Put another way:

THE TRUMPS...

WANT TO SPEND...

$11 MILLION DOLLARS...

ON A SEA WALL...

TO STOP SOMETHING...

THAT DONALD TRUMP...

DOESN'T EVEN...

BELIEVE EXISTS.

Keep in mind that Trump blamed the struggles of his Scottish golf resort on "bird-killing" wind farms. He has vowed to renegotiate the already-lackluster Paris Climate Accord if elected president. His proposed energy plan repeatedly refers to a nonexistent thing called "clean coal." And he has previously said that climate change is, "just a very, very expensive form of tax."

And then he specifically cited global warming as the reason why he needed to build an ugly rock wall to protect his treasured Irish golf resort.

Trump at his Aberdeenshire golf course just after Brexit, which he called a "great thing" and that they "took back their country" despite the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain. But I digress. Photo by Michal Wachucik/AFP/Getty Images.

This is, of course, incredibly maddening logic. But it's about about the environment too.

Rising water levels and erosion are real problems, and seawalls can in fact help mitigate some potential harm to coastal communities. In that regard, Trump's appeal actually makes sense. But according to Friends of the Irish Environment, a proposed 15-foot wall around one specific part of the beach could seriously interfere with Doughmore's ecosystem.

The reverb from Trump's ginormous wall could affect the natural cycle of the dunes and vegetation, hurting not only the rare creatures that live in that pristine environment, but also ruining the beach's reputation as a stunning vista and surf destination. By deflecting the winds and tides, the wall could also cause greater flooding damage to occur along other parts of the coast — where the local people, many of whom work at the resort, have to live.

A rainy day in Doonbeg. Photo by O. Morand/Wikimedia Commons.

Oh, and if the wall doesn't get built? Trump has already threatened to close the resort and devastate the local economy.

Tourism is a multibillion-industry for the Republic of Ireland, and the people of Doonbeg are essentially being held hostage in a catch-22: either Trump's giant wall gets built and the locals lose their beloved beach while bearing the brunt of flooding damage, or 350 people lose their jobs immediately, with the rest of the community suffering as a result of that lost income.

"The fear of our friends and neighbours losing work is very scary," explained an administrator from the Save Doughmore Beach Facebook page, in an interview with Magic Seaweed. "We are in no way trying to close the hotel and golf course, we are just asking for some ethical business practices and some sound environment practices."

Surfers at Doughmore Beach. Photo by Lukemcurley/Wikimedia Commons.

This whole situation is essentially a microcosm of what Trump stands for and how he gets his way.

We've seen him use wealth and status to bully the little guy, while willfully denying the facts of reality just to make some cash. And now he's employing those same manipulative, strong-arm negotiation tactics in a pissing match over environmental issues and the interests of a small community.

It's possible to build coastal protections that don't also damage the environment.

It's possible to build a resort that provides hundreds of jobs without taking over the entire community, impeding their access to public property, and essentially creating an economic throwback to feudal sharecropping.

It's possible to compromise and still make a profit, to provide good services in good faith that make the world a better place and also keep the money coming.

But Trump's modus operandi has always been the same: He'll say that climate change is a hoax at the same time that he builds an ivory tower to protect himself from its effects, while also abandoning his own workers to live with worsened water threats and no choice but to just keep working for the man who got them into that situation in the first place.

That's not the kind of person that I want to see in the White House.

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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."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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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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