This American’s Experience with Iceland’s Healthcare System Really Strikes a Nerve

Stop me if you’re heard this somewhere, possibly from your local politician: “We have the best health care ever invented! Of all time! Can’t be touched!”

I think most people know that A WHOLE LOT of other countries on the planet have much better health care than Americans do – plus, overseas it’s CHEAP. But that’s not what politicians and insurance companies want you to hear.

A woman named Mary Robinette Kowal shared her health care experience in Iceland, and her tweets went viral. I think that this will be very eye-opening for a lot of you. It sure was for me.

Let’s take a look at Kowal’s Twitter thread.

3 dollars…

Kowal offered a little clarification about an earlier tweet.

We get your point, Ms. Kowal. Something to think about…

What do you think? Share in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!

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Having Grown Up in Foster Care, This Woman Explains Why Adoption Isn’t the Best Alternative to Abortion

The abortion debate is becoming increasingly intense again, and many anti-abortion activists are in favor of adoption as a more humane alternative to abortion. But a woman who grew up in foster care wants people to know that adoption is not the simple solution that it seems.

Olivia Paige knows exactly how broken the adoption system is in the US because she grew up in it. She posted on Facebook to explain what it’s really like for children in the system.

“Let me start off by reminding you of the 390,000+ children and teens in foster care, 100,000+ of which are waiting to be adopted,” Olivia’s post began. “Around 50,000 are placed up for adoption each year—these abortion bans are sure to make those numbers grow so let me share some statistics with you.”

Posted by Olivia Paige on Sunday, April 28, 2019

“20% of teens who age out of foster care become instantly homeless, with no support system in place.
There is less than a 3% chance that any of these kids will obtain any sort of degree.
25% suffer from PTSD.
1 out of every 2 kids will develop substance abuse problems.
Adopted children make up only 2% of children under 18.”

Then Olivia went on to share her own experience as one of the “lucky ones” who made it out alright. She attached a photo of a flyer that was handed out to prospective adopters when she was a teenager. She was never adopted, she says.

I debated posting this for a while, I’ve decided to do it because not many people know what it’s really like as a child…

Posted by Olivia Paige on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

“I spent a decade in foster care, bouncing between ‘homes’ with strangers in places I’d never known before. With no warning, a social worker would show up and tell me I’d have to pack my things (the very few I had) and leave whatever strange place I’d kept myself from getting too comfortable in at the drop of a hat,” she wrote. “I had no say in the matter.”

In two of her foster homes, Olivia was physically and sexually abused. Many times, she watched her foster parents take their money from the state and spend it on themselves instead of her. Sometimes, there were no homes for Olivia to stay in, so she had to sleep in a cubicle at Family Services.

“I spent ten years feeling unworthy of love, unwanted and waiting for the next bad thing to happen to me,” Olivia wrote.

it’s Octoberween and this is one of my favorite self portraits so ~ figured it was fitting 🙂

Posted by Olivia Paige on Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thankfully, Olivia aged out of the system at 16, and she’s been doing well ever since. But there are tens of thousands of children just like her currently going through the same thing.

“I dare you to say ‘adoption is always an option’ to any of the several tens of thousands who have been waiting patiently for years for someone to come along and give them the chance to define the word ‘family’.”

Olivia wrote that, while she doesn’t wish she’d been aborted or that she were dead, she does believe that abortion is preferable to forcing so many kids to go through this.

missing doing shoots with Rich Adams Jr.!

Posted by Olivia Paige on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

“A life is not saved just by letting it be born,” she said.

“Kids should be in homes with families that truly love them. If you’re so adamant about kids being born—go through the process and adopt some yourself.”

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A Look Inside the U.S. Military’s “Doomsday Plane,” Built to Withstand the Aftermath of a Nuclear Blast

The plane is officially known as the U.S. Air Force’s E-4B, but most people just call it the “doomsday plane.” The aircraft is used to take the Secretary of Defense all over the world, and it is a monster of an airplane. The plane is also known as the National Airborne Operations Center.

The E-4B is almost six stories tall, has four enormous engines, and can withstand the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion. How’s that for technology? A member of the U.S. Air Force said, “It’s like a backup Pentagon. There’s always one plane on alert and ready to go 24 hours, seven days a week.”

Just like its sister aircraft Air Force One, the E-4B is like a flying command center, and many of the plane’s capabilities are classified. There are four “doomsday planes” that have been in operation since 1980, and they are based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The aircraft truly is a marvel of technology. The large hump on top of the E-4B is called a “radome” and houses satellite dishes and antennas that allow people onboard to contact submarines, ships, aircraft, and phone lines anywhere in the world. Because of the humongous fuel tanks and the ability to refuel while flying, the E-4B can stay in the air for several days without ever having to land.

The plane can accommodate up to 112 people. It has three levels, 18 bunks, 6 bathrooms, a briefing room, and a conference room. Interestingly, the E-4B is not up-to-date technologically and relies on analog technology.

A crew member said, “It’s a common misconception, but this plane doesn’t have digital touch screens in the cockpit or elsewhere. The conditions that this plane is meant to fly in call for analog, since digital tech would fry during a nuclear war.”


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Someone Just Designed a Stamp That Lets You Legally Replace Andrew Jackson With Harriet Tubman on $20 Bills

The $20 bill has been the subject of quite a lot of controversy lately. President Andrew Jackson’s visage has graced the bill ever since 1928, but in 2016, plans were announced to replace him on the bill with an image of abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently announced, however, that the plans for the 2020 rollout of the Tubman bill would be delayed at least 8 years due to concerns about counterfeiting.

And people are not happy about it.

And, of course, The Onion weighed in on the issue with this brilliant headline.

But then the story took an unexpected turn.

An artist named Dano Wall took it upon himself to create a stamp that replaces Jackson’s face on the $20 bill with Tubman’s likeness.

As you can see, the Tubman stamp perfectly fits over the image of Jackson. Wall is calling the use of the Tubman stamp an act of “civil disobedience.”

Wall said,

“I was inspired by the news that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, and subsequently saddened by the news that the Trump administration was walking back that plan. So I created a stamp to convert Jacksons into Tubmans myself. I have been stamping $20 bills and entering them into circulation for the last year, and gifting stamps to friends to do the same.”

Wall added, “My goal is to get 5,000 stamps out there. If there are 5,000 people consistently stamping currency, we could get a significant percent of circulating $20 bills (with the Tubman) stamp, at which point it would be impossible to ignore.”

The artist also said he’s been careful to avoid any legal issues: “The basic gist of it is you can’t render a bill illegible. You can’t cover any text or numbers or anything on it to serve as an advertisement. … Anything outside of that — if the bill is still fit for circulation is fine. You can write on it and mark in any way.”

The stamps that Wall designed are currently sold out on Etsy ,but it looks like there are a bunch of other options as well (take a look at THIS PAGE). And I’m sure Wall will have more back up soon!

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In 1967, Egypt received false intel…

In 1967, Egypt received false intel from the Soviets that Israel was massing its troops on the Syrian border. In response, Egypt mobilized its forces in Sinai and Straits of Tiran. Israel saw the blockade of Tiran as a Casus Belli and launched a pre-emptive strike thus initiating the Six-Day War.

43 Giant Busts of U.S. Presidents Are Just Sitting in a Field in Virginia

Were you lucky enough to see the wonderful statues (erected in 2004) at Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia? Well, consider yourself lucky – because the park closed due to lack of visitors in 2010.

Today, 43 giant busts of American Presidents sit on a farm in Virginia just waiting for someone, anyone, to figure out what to do with them. It’s too bad, because they are very impressive.

Posted by Renew the Presidents on Friday, February 2, 2018

The busts were made by David Adickes, an artist from Houston who was inspired to create the pieces after he visited Mount Rushmore. After six years on public display, the heads had to be moved after the land where the park was located was sold.

Posted by Renew the Presidents on Monday, January 18, 2016

Howard Hankins, who helped construct Presidents Park, removed the giant heads to his family farm until a decision is made about what’s next for the unique collection. Each head weighs 22,000 pounds, and they stand 18 to 20 feet tall. It took Hankins a week to lug all 43 of the statues to his property.

The Presidents in winter.

Posted by Renew the Presidents on Friday, December 8, 2017

What comes next for the statues is up in the air. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to open a museum that will feature the artifacts, but some of the statues are falling into disrepair and need a touch-up.

As of right now, the presidential busts are held on private property, which means they are not open to the public.

Hopefully, that will change in the future…

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The Incredible Story of Elizebeth Friedman, One of America’s Best Codebreakers

Elizebeth Smith Friedman (spelled that way by her mother, who reportedly disliked the name ‘Eliza’) was born the youngest of 9 children in 1892. From a young age it was clear the girl was bright, displaying an impressive talent for languages. She wanted to go to college, so badly that she borrowed the money from her father at a 6% interest rate when he refused to pay for her schooling outright.

She finished school at Hillsdale College in Michigan, earning a degree in English Literature while also studying German, Greek, and Latin and discovering a love for Shakespeare that would last the rest of her life. It turned out that a career in education wasn’t for Elizebeth, who grew bored and quit her job as a principal before traveling to Chicago in 1916.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

While there, she visited the Newberry Library, where Shakespeare’s First Folio was on display, and she ended up with a job at a nearby research facility, Riverbank. It was run by eccentric George Fabyan and already employed Shakespeare scholar Elizabeth Wells Gallup, who was working to prove that Sir Francis Bacon actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

Gallup was in need of a research assistant, and our Elizebeth was happy to take the job. She worked on a cipher that Gallup claimed was hidden in Shakespeare’s sonnets that proved they were written by Bacon, but perhaps more auspiciously, she met, fell in love with, and married geneticist William Friedman while there. A month later, the United States entered World War I.

Riverbank was one of the first institutes in the country to focus on codebreaking, or cryptology, and was essential in the early days of the war. It would transform both of the Friedman’s lives, with William becoming one of the biggest names in cryptanalysis (a word he coined himself) while his equally-as-talented wife was often deliberately kept from the spotlight.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

“So little was known in this country of codes and ciphers when the United States entered World War I, that we ourselves had to be the learners, the workers, and the teachers all at the same time,” wrote Elizebeth in her memoir.

One of their more famous wartime accomplishments actually involved cracking a code for Scotland Yard – a trunk of mysterious, coded messages turned out to contain the secrets behind the Hindu-German Conspiracy, in which Hindu activists living in the United States were shipping weapons to India with German assistance.

The resulting trial was one of the largest in U.S. history (at the time) and ended sensationally as a gunman who believed one of the defendants had snitched opened fire in the courtroom.

After the war, the Friedmans moved to Washington D.C. and continued working for the military full-time. Elizebeth stayed home for a time to focus on raising the couple’s two children, but she returned to work for the Coast Guard in 1925 when they asked for help on Prohibition-related cases. There, she proved to be an invaluable asset, and was called to testify in a 1933 trial following the bust of a million-dollar rum running operation in the Gulf of Mexico and on the West coast.

Photo Credit: Marshall Foundation

During the trial, attorneys asked her to prove how a jumble of letters could possibly be determined to mean “anchored in harbor where and when are you sending fuel?” Elizebeth asked for a chalkboard and proceeded to give the court a lesson on simple cipher charts, mono-alphabetic ciphers, and polysyllabic ciphers, then reviewed how she had spent two years intercepting and deciphering the radio broadcasts of four illicit New Orleans distilleries.

Special Assistant to the Attorney General Colonel Amos W. Woodcock wrote that Elizebeth’s proficiency “made an unusual impression.”

A year later, Elizebeth used her skills to avert a court case between Canada and the United States when her codebreaking abilities proved that a “Canadian” ship sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard was actually a ship owned by an American bootlegger and simply flew the Canadian flag to avert suspicion. The Canadians were so impressed with her that they hired her to help catch a ring of Chinese opium smugglers, and her testimony in that case led to five convictions.

When WWII began, Elizebeth was recruited by the Coordinator of Information, an intelligence service that preceded both the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) and the CIA. While her husband, William, was lauded for leading the team that cracked Japan’s Purple Encryption Machine, Elizebeth’s accomplishments breaking German codes and working closely with British intelligence to disrupt Axis spy rings all across Europe. For years, researchers hit brick wall after brick wall trying to uncover her contributions, largely because J. Edgar Hoover wrote her out of history (or tried to) by classifying her files as top-secret and taking the credit for himself.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

We do know, however, that she was instrumental in solving the “Doll Woman Case” in 1944, in which Velvalee Dickinson, a New York City antique doll dealer, was found guilty of spying on behalf of the Japanese government. Her work helped prove that the letters the woman had written about the condition of antique dolls were actually describing the positions of U.S. ships and other war-related matters. In the newspaper accounts of the day, however, Elizebeth’s name was never mentioned.

She retired in 1946, a year after the war ended, and her husband followed suit a decade later. Their relationship was uniquely bonded by their shared fascination for codes and codebreaking, which they brought into their person life as well – they used ciphers playing family games with their children and would even encode menus at dinner parties, encouraging their guests to solve them in order to earn the next course.

Together, they published The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined, a masterwork that won awards from several Shakespeare research facilities, and believed that they disproved the theory that Sir Francis Bacon was the real author of the plays.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

William passed away in 1969 and Elizebeth spent her remaining years compiling and documenting her husband’s work in cryptology instead of going back over her own extraordinary achievements. Her writings are now part of the George C. Marshall Research Library.

Elizebeth died in 1980 and is buried next to her husband. On their double gravestone is a quote commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.”

Photo Credit: Find A Grave

The quote is, of course, a cipher that, when decrypted, reads “WFF,” William’s initials.

There’s no doubt that the field of codebreaking wouldn’t have come as far as fast as it did without William’s efforts, but Elizebeth’s deserve equal, if not more, credit.

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Big Apple Goes Green: New York State Just Banned Plastic Bags

Consumers have had the option of getting their groceries in resuable grocery bags for some time now, but sadly, plastic bags still reign supreme. A lot of folks are just forgetful, and buy the reusable bags but keep forgetting to bring them along when they go out.

Residents of New York state may not be able to use that excuse for long, however: New York State is officially banning plastic bags, and some counties will impose a fee on paper bags too.

New York is the second U.S. state to ban plastic bags after California.

Photo Credit: iStock

Governor Andrew Cuomo first proposed the plan last year, and it goes into effect in March 2020. Goodbye, single-use plastic bags! Mostly, anyway. Some types of plastic bags – like newspaper bags or trash bags – will be exempted from the ban.

Instead, customers will have to use either paper bags or reusable bags. Individual counties can opt into a 5-cent fee on paper bags, though it’s not a mandatory part of the new law. The idea, it seems, is to encourage people to use reusable bags as much as possible, rather than paper or plastic.

Photo Credit: iStock

Environmentally speaking, this new law definitely marks progress. Plastic bags are basically the bane of the planet’s existence. They’re hugely wasteful, non-biodegradable, harmful to wildlife, environmentally costly to produce…the list goes on and on.

“These bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. He said the new plan will be a way to “protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers.”

And the rest of us benefit, too.

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