Congress Created a Health-Care Crisis for Kids Right in Time for the Holidays

Michael Adame of Conroe, Texas, is preparing for Thanksgiving this year like he has for years past. Hes welcoming family from nearby. He expects some 10 to 12 people total to show up. And his wife is going to make tamales in addition to the traditional turkey. Im not crazy about tamales, he teased.

But this year will be different in one fundamental and profound way. Adame will spend the holiday worried that his child might soon lose his health care coverage.

Adames 12-year-old stepson, Abraham, has Down Syndrome and is covered under the Childrens Health Insurance Program in Texas, where more than 400,000 children and pregnant women from low- and middle-income families receive these federal benefits. He goes to a childrens hospital in Houston where Abraham is monitored for a problem with his liverspecifically, to ensure that his enzyme level is where it should be.

I thank God for what we have but if you take this away we wont be able to monitor his liver level, Adame told The Daily Beast. He has regular dental and vision exams as he is growing and maturing and adjusting to a healthy lifestyle.

Since its inception in 1997, CHIP has had strong bipartisan support and been a measurable success, covering nearly 9 million children nationwide. It helped lower the nations percentage of uninsured children from almost 14 percent when it started to about 4.5 percent in 2015. But this year, amid efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress allowed the deadline to reauthorize the program to come and go. Almost two whole months have passed since and there is growing concern that no action will come until the end of the year.

Families and state agencies have been forced to scramble amidst the uncertainty. Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and North Carolina are expected to run out of CHIP funding next month according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). Another 27 states are anticipated to have their funds exhausted by March 2018 (PDF).

In Texas, where Abraham lives, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has estimated that money will run dry by the end of February 2018. There are concerns that it may come even sooner, putting families like Adames in emotional turmoil just as the holiday season hits.

Hell go on the computer and watch the Minions and put on his goggles and his hard hat, Adame said describing the things his son likes to do. We try to accommodate the things that he enjoys.

And yet, despite the urgency that is being felt by families dependent on CHIP, Congress appears to be struggling to come to a legislative solution.

On Nov. 3, the House passed a bill to reauthorize funding for the program. But only 15 Democrats voted in favor of the measure, criticizing it for draining funds from Obamacare to pay for the reauthorization. The Senate as a whole has yet to take a vote on its own bill, leading to charges from Democrats that Republicans are prioritizing tax reform over the health of millions of children.

Senator [Ron] Wyden (D-OR) is fighting every day to get this urgently needed funding across the finish line before millions of our countrys children lose the health care coverage their families depend upon, a spokesperson for Wydens office told The Daily Beast. As the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee and co-author of the bipartisan bill to extend CHIP funding for five years, he remains optimistic common sense and decency will prevail over partisan politics, and Republicans will put aside the tax charade long enough so essential coverage can continue.

Families dependent on the program have been left waiting anxiously for signs of progress.

I dont understand at all, Holly Keich, a mother of two in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, told The Daily Beast. Its been 10 years that weve been on it with no issues. We send our paperwork in every year. It gets renewed.

Keichs children, a 10-year-old boy and a nearly 6-year-old girl, have been on CHIP since they were born, she said. And during that time, theyve both been healthy. But without the program, her familys finances would be complicated as theyd have to look for alternate options for health care coverage. Given Christmas and her and her husbands upcoming birthday, she said, there might be more coupon clipping in the future.

Other families have turned to GoFundMes and used op-eds to raise awareness like in St. Louis where Myra Gregory said she is worried about her 10-year-old son Roland Williams, who relies on CHIP to help with his affliction from a rare form of lung cancer.

There are so many other families out there that wont even get treatment or be able to find out whats wrong, or know that anything is wrong with their child, Gregory told NBC News. I am very appreciative of all the help that Ive received. But not receiving this is detrimental and can mean my sons life.

In the interim, some states have taken matters into their own hands. In Wydens home state of Oregon for instance, the Oregon Health Authority announced this week that it would work to extend coverage for some 80,000 children and 1,700 pregnant women through the end of April. The move was done at the urging of Gov. Kate Brown, even though it could result in a shortfall in the states budget. Previously, the state had secured $51 million in leftover funds to last through December.

Idahos Department of Health and Welfare intends to look for a means to cover the states children through Medicaid rather than CHIP if reauthorization doesnt happen soon, Chris Smith, public information officer with the department, told The Daily Beast. And there is a similar contingency plan in Arizona.

We expect the current funding to sustain the KidsCare program into December, Heidi Capriotti of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System told The Daily Beast. If Congress takes no action to reauthorize funding soon, Gov. Ducey has a contingency plan to move money from a Medicaid program that covers a separate group of low-income children, into the KidsCare program. The children covered will not see any changes in their coverage or to the program.

In Texas, advocates worry that funding will run out sooner than anticipated due to recovery effort needs following Hurricane Harvey. That could mean that families will receive a 30-day noticeabout the program ending right around Christmas.

Theyre kicking the can down the road but this is one thing they really cant kick down the road, Adame said.

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A depressing trend is emerging from our collective reaction to mass shootings.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Remember the shooting in Texas?

By the time you read this — a month later? A week later? Perhaps just two days later — what happened in Sutherland Springs will be a fading memory (where is Sutherland Springs, again?). We’ll have mostly forgotten those who lost their lives and why they aren’t here anymore. We won’t remember that the youngest victim was 18 months old. Or that the oldest was 71. Or that an entire family of nine was nearly completely wiped out in the blink of an eye.

It wasn’t always this way. In April 1999, when 13 students and teachers were shot and killed at Columbine High School, we didn’t forget for months. There were articles, speeches, protests, magazine covers, and calls for legislation. There was even a documentary. It came out three years later. We remembered so well that documentary made over $50 million.

Two years ago, a Washington Post investigation of Google Trends found that our interest in mass shootings now lasts about a month, sometimes even less.

That study was prompted by an attack at a community college in Oregon in October 2015, which of course, almost no one — except those immediately touched by it — really remembers.

We’ve already moved on from the shooting in Las Vegas. That was a little more than a month ago. Cable news lost most of its interest in 10 days.  

And Columbine? The former fifth-deadliest mass shooting in modern American history is no longer even in the top 10. Five of the ten deadliest gun massacres in American history have occurred in the past five years. Two have occurred in the past two months.

There will be other news to distract us. There will be Election Day drama. There will be frightening violence in the Middle East. Donald Trump will have said something bizarre about samurai warriors.

We will have performed the entire public grief cycle in record time. Thousands will have risen up and demanded stricter gun laws. Gun rights advocates will have argued we should “enforce the gun laws we already have” and asked “are you going to ban knives and fists next?” We will have found out about the shooter’s history of domestic violence. Conservative politicians will have blamed the shooting on mental health. Liberal commentators will have accused conservative politicians of hypocrisy on mental health. Responsible gun owners will take umbrage at being lumped in with killers. Chris Murphy will have written a righteously indignant viral tweet. There will have been a rumor that a good guy with a gun raced in to save the day. That rumor will have turned out to be only partially true. The parents and families of people killed in previous mass shootings will have trudged back out to share their stories of the worst days of their entire lives in the hope that maybe something will be different this time.

But that’s likely coming to an end, as you read this. Or it’s already over. Life is probably going on. We’re already worried about something new. And we’re bracing ourselves for the next one.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

As the drumbeat of bad news gets faster, we feel our ability to be horrified slipping away. We notice ourselves reluctantly, but inevitably adjusting to a reality where watching two dozen people die in church is normal. We might even hear 10 people are killed at the office, in a park, or a baseball game and think, “That’s not that many.”

“There are some people who just sort of start to let it in that this is part of the world that we’re living in,” Sharon Chirban, a Boston-based psychologist who treats patients suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress, told me over the phone. “And in some ways, it’s probably more adaptive to probably be thinking that way.”

It’s how we go on with our lives without digging ourselves deeper into a pit of despair with each new mass shooting. In some ways, it’s healthier to forget.

“People sort of restore what’s called ‘functional denial,'” she says. “We need that in order to basically live without acute anxiety.”

It’s an awful Catch-22. If we allow ourselves to grow a little less surprised each time this happens, we can’t be hurt when it inevitably does again. But lose our ability to be shocked and with it goes our drive to fight for change.

And that’s the scariest part.

Most of us (around two-thirds of all Americans) don’t own a gun. Still fewer of us actually carry one. We’d rather risk random injury or death than live in such a state of fear that we feel the need to tote around a deadly weapon at all times. Yet, there are millions of others for whom owning a firearm or two or 20 is an integral part of who they are. Maybe we can’t all agree on exactly how to solve this problem and maybe we never will. But there are a few things an overwhelming number of us want to change. 90% of us want background checks for all gun sales. 79% support banning bump fire stocks that allow semiautomatic rifles to approximate the function of a fully-automatic weapon. Nearly 60% of us want to ban assault weapons, the kind used in nearly every mass shooting of the past decade.

No one knows how we get that done in the face of the inertia born by a cycle of a million “more important” things and the grinding, scorched-Earth opposition that will inevitably follow. But if we shrug and throw up our hands, we never will.

On Monday morning, writer Clint Smith wrote that he can’t help think about what the victims were doing the morning before the shooting. Ordinary things. Human things. Having no idea what was about to happen.

It’s a tragic illustration of what can be ripped away in a split second by an asshole with an axe to grind and a semiautomatic rifle on his hip.

Perhaps that’s the only way to shock ourselves back into reality. To remember that this didn’t used to be normal. It’s still not normal. And can and should be stopped.

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Partridge Family Star David Cassidy Surrounded By Family, Suffering From ‘Multiple Organ Failure’

Longtime TV star and singer David Cassidy, most well-known for his stint on the Partridge Family years ago, is apparently suffering from “multiple organ failure” at a Florida hospital, according to media reports.

The 67-year-old man was originally admitted to a Florida hospital earlier this week, and he’s now “surrounded by family” during this dire situation.

Video: Teen Claims He Was Possessed In Unaired Dr. Phil Interview!

According to some outlets, the singer’s liver and kidneys are failing, and he’ll need a transplant to pull through. His spokesperson has confirmed that he is suffering from ‘multiple organ failure’ right now.

This isn’t the first health struggle for Cassidy, unfortunately; back in February, the star revealed he’s been battling dementia after he struggled to remember song lyrics at a show in California.

And several years ago, he battled substance abuse issues and even went to rehab to address and overcome them.

Now, things sound very serious as Cassidy is quite literally fighting for his life in a Florida hospital.

Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and his family, friends, and loved ones.

[Image via WENN.]

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The Common Acupuncture Myths You’re Falling For & What The Truth Is

When you think of acupuncture, you probably think of two things: needles to the face, and your weird alternative friend who shadily doesn’t believe in vaccines. Well, like most stereotypes, this is not really correct. Acupuncture has been around forever and isn’t like, some back-alley shit you turn to in a moment of desperation. Well, I mean, maybe you’re desperate, but my point is it’s a legit science that’s been proven to help with so many issues like pain, digestive issues, and sleep. Acupuncturists have to go through a lot of schooling before they can practice—a three- to four-year masters program, to be exact. So yeah, we’re going to bust some common acupuncture myths thanks to our friends from Sanctuary Acupuncture & Holistic Health in NYC.

We were lucky enough to have Sanctuary Acupuncture & Holistic Health come to our office, where they offered a variety of services. We tried out ear acupuncture and cupping. These are our stories. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER DICK WOLF. Oh wait. That’s not right. Moving on.

Ear Acupuncture

First of all, acupuncture doesn’t have to be needles all over your body. It can be if you’re into that, but it’s not necessary. If you want the same rest and digest benefits of all-over acupuncture, but like, you can’t sit with your facial muscles completely still for an extended period of time (hi), you can do ear acupuncture. The acupuncturist will stick five needles in various parts of your ear and leave them chilling in there for about 10-20 minutes. I know what you’re thinking, and it hurts wayyyy less than getting your cartilage pierced, so it’s a pretty painless experience. Afterwards, they can continue the treatment and put gold ear seeds or crystals in the same points. It helps prolong the benefits of the acupuncture AND you get to feel like one of those super edgy people with multiple ear piercings even if you secretly cry at night listening to Taylor Swift.

I specifically told the acupuncturist that I wanted help clearing my sinuses, and I shit you not, I stopped sniffling so damn much during the procedure. I’m not saying acupuncture works miracles, but I am saying I might book another appointment when I feel a sinus infection coming on. So like, the second I step outside today. If you want the full benefits of acupuncture but you’re a little commitment phobic, try ear acupuncture as your gateway.


You probably remember vaguely hearing about cupping back during the last Olympics, when Michael Phelps showed up with perfectly round bruises all over his body that made us think, “Damn, who gave Michael Phelps all those hickies?” The answer: ancient Chinese alternative medicine. Cupping was developed thousands of years ago, and it is the practice of putting special cups on your skin to create suction (hence the hickies). It can be use for pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and, in the case of Michael Phelps, winning gold medals.

Okay, so cupping won’t directly help you win gold medals, but it definitely didn’t hurt. Basically, if you spend 90% of your week rubbing your shoulders and screaming about how you need a massage, cupping is for you. Funnily enough, cupping is actually the opposite of a massage in that it uses pressure to suck the muscles upward, rather than pull them down. Tons of celebs are obsessed with cupping, including Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga, and Victoria Beckham, so if you’re worried about the marks, don’t be. They’re literally a status symbol at this point. (But also if you’re going to an event and are wearing a backless dress or something, you can just tell the specialist and she’ll place the cups strategically for you. NBD.)

Don’t forget to follow @sanctuaryacu and book your appointment NOW!

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Porn Star Maddy O’Reilly Claims Matthew Perry Hit Her Up For ’40/50′ Painkillers & She Fears The Recovered Addict Might Have Relapsed!

Matthew Perry‘s friends might not be there for him, but porn star Maddy O’Reilly will be.

The adult film actress fears the recovered addict is relapsing after he allegedly hit her up two weeks ago asking if she knew anyone who could help him “purchase some pills.”

Related: Rose McGowan Will Fight Felony Cocaine Charge

Maddy told DailyMail that the Friends star, a former lover of hers, contacted her asking to get him “40/50” prescription pills. When the 27-year-old asked what kind, the actor replied:

“Vicaden (sic)/Roxy’s/oxys.”

Perry, an outspoken advocate for addiction recovery since going public with his own substance abuse issues, was referring to Vicodin, Roxicodone and OxyContin — three highly addictive opioid painkillers.

In purported text exchanges obtained by DailyMail, the sitcom actor apparently told the porn star he would be willing to pay “a lot” for the pills — a desperate plea that worried the adult actress. She told DM:

“I was shocked, I knew he is a recovering addict but it was coming out of nowhere, why would he ask me something like that, it’s not like we partied or I have a reputation for partying.”

The two may have not partied, but they do have an intimate past.

Video: Jon Stewart Feels ‘Anger’ Over Louis C.K.’s Sexual Misconduct Scandal

The Penthouse cover model says she first met Perry in 2013 through a mutual friend. She allegedly went over to his house and the two had “a very nice evening” watching a movie in his screen room before they “ended up having sex.”

At the time, Maddy didn’t suspect the actor was taking opioids — she contends that “he seemed very normal, sober,” adding “we didn’t even have a glass of wine.”

But when Perry randomly got back it touch with Maddy on August 28, she grew concerned for his well being. After Perry invited her to dinner only to cancel at the last minute, the actor admitted he had been “going through a detox thing” and had “a nurse at my house.”

That’s when Perry asked Maddy his question about getting pills. Their conversation came to an end soon after. She added:

“We’ve not spoken since and I’m a little worried, but I don’t know him well enough to be able to do anything about it.”

We’d be worried, too. Do YOU think the actor has fallen off the wagon?

Head over to DM to read their full text exchange.

[Image via Instagram/Nicky Nelson/WENN.]

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Make Nepotism Great Again: 20 Families Got Jobs in Trump Administration

Most people have heard of Ivanka and Jared, but the first family is far from the only group of relatives staffing the Trump administration.

A Daily Beast examination of public records reveals that there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some federal post or appointment. They include the families of some of Trumps most prominent campaign supporters and agency officials, including one cabinet officer. The posts range from senior White House staff to more ceremonial and advisory positions.

A few of the most prominent cases came to the fore in recent weeks with the hiring of Eric Trumps brother-in-law to be chief of staff at the Department of Energy and the nomination of Brett Talley to a federal judgeship in Alabama. In paperwork filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Talley failed to disclose that his wife is the chief of staff to the White House senior counsel Don McGahnpresenting a potential conflict of interest if the administration ever argues a case in Talleys court.

But McGahn too has a direct relation in the administration. His wife, Shannon McGahn, was hired in May as a policy adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. In March, Trump tapped former Ford Motor Company lawyer Jim Carroll to join McGahns team. Carroll has since moved over to the Office of Management and Budget, where he serves as general counsel. But before he did, the White House hired his son, James Carroll IIIwhose previous professional experience consisted of a stint as the sports editor of his college newspaperas a staff assistant.

Such staffing choices arent necessarily novel for this administration. From John Adams to John Kennedy, U.S. presidents and their teams have drawn on families for high-level staffing. A lack of comprehensive records for previous administrations makes it difficult to gauge whether the Trump administration is staffed by more families than his predecessors.

But Trumps administration is, more than any since perhaps Kennedys, defined by blood relations, with daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner occupying senior posts and other members of the family, including sons Don Jr. and Eric and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, serving as prominent public faces of the presidents political and business arms. And the degree to which other families supply the administration with top talent only further illustrates the insularity of the current group controlling the levers of power in Washington, D.C.

Though not technically a federal employee, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani serves as an informal adviser to the president. In March, his son Andrew joined the White House Office of Public Liaison as associate director after his professional golfing career petered out. The younger Giulianis LinkedIn page listed him as a former sales intern at investment firm CapRok.

As secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos is one of the administrations most senior officials. But her family has also provided tremendous financial support for the president and the Republican Party, shelling out more than $200 million in Republican campaign contributions. Donors are frequently rewarded with administration posts and the DeVos were no different. In September, Dick Devos Jr., Betsys husband, was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administrations Management Advisory Council. The next month, Pamella DeVos, Betsys sister-in-law, landed a spot on the advisory board for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. DeVos brother, Erik Prince, the founder of notorious military contractor Blackwater, was also said to be informally advising Trumps incoming administration after last years election.

Other intra-family administration posts have been more prominent and filled more direct policy-making roles. Often, these appointments have illustrated another ongoing trend in the Trump administration: the tasking of high-level officials to regulate or oversee industries in which they formerly worked.

Former House Financial Services Committee Oversight Counsel, Uttah Dhillon, was appointed as a senior assistant to the president in January. In June, his wife Janet Dhillon was tapped to be an Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner, which puts her on a body that previously took enforcement actions against at least two of her former employers, United Airlines (PDF) and JCPenny, for allegedly discriminatory action that took place while she served in legal roles for the companies.

Pamela Patenaude, Trumps deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development, didnt work in industry. But she led the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation, which promotes U.S. housing policy reforms. When she was nominated in April, her daughter Meghan was already a deputy assistant for scheduling to Vice President Mike Pence. By the time she was confirmed to the HUD post in September, another of her daughters, Caitlin Patenaude, had been hired as a policy adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Other Trump administration families appear to have followed their principals into the federal government. Sisters Millan and Sydney Hupp both worked on Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitts campaign for Oklahoma attorney general. Sydney Hupp is now Pruitts executive scheduler, and her sister is EPAs director of scheduling and advance.

Jennifer Pavlik likewise followed her former boss into the administration. She was Pences chief of staff in the Indiana governors mansion, and now serves as the vice presidents deputy chief of staff. She joined the administration in January, and a few months later her husband followed. Brian Pavlik, a former concessions program manager for the Indiana State Parks system, was hired as a special assistant to the National Parks Service.

At least one familial Trump official is no longer in the job. A few months after former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka joined the administration, his wife, Katharine Gorka, landed a job at the Department of Homeland Security. She remains in that post, but her husband was unceremoniously ousted in August.

As she continues advising high-level government officials, Sebastian Gorka has been relegated to an advisory position at a group run by Pizzagate conspiracy theorists. He was recently pictured parking his car on a sidewalk in Virginia.

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Heres How To Give ThanksNot Once A YearBut Every Day

Ryan Holiday’s Instagram

The modern practice of this Thanksgiving holiday here in America is that we are supposed to take the time to think about what we’re grateful for. And the candidates are usually pretty obvious: We should be grateful for our families, for our health, that we live in a time of peace, for the good laid out in front of us. All the usual suspects.

I agree, these are important things to recognize and appreciate. It’s also a good to have a specific day dedicated to that occasion. So by all means, celebrate.

But over the last year, I have come to practice a different form of gratitude. It’s one that is a little harder to do, that goes beyond the cliche and perfunctory acknowledgment of the good things in our lives, but as a result creates a deeper and more profound benefit.

I forget how I came up with exactly, but I remember feeling particularly upset—rageful if I am being perfectly honest—about someone in my life. This was someone who had betrayed me and wronged me, and shown themselves to be quite different from the person that I had once so respected and admired. Even though our relationship had soured a few years before and they had been punished by subsequent events, I was still angry, regularly so, and I was disappointed with how much space they took up in my head.

So one morning, as I sat down early with my journal as I do every morning, I started to write about it. Not about the anger that I felt—I had done that too many times—but instead about all the things I was grateful for about this person. I wrote about my gratitude for all sorts of things about them, big and small. It was just a sentence or two at first. Then a few days later, I did it again and then again and again whenever I thought about it, and watched as my anger partly gave way to appreciation. As I said, sometimes it was little things, sometimes big things: Opportunities they had given me. What I had learned. A gift they had given me. What weaknesses they had provided vivid warnings of with their behavior. I had to be creative to come up with stuff, but if I looked, it was there.

A few months later, I came across a viral article about a designer who had gone through a painful divorce. Prompted by his work computer to change his password every 30 days, he decided to use this medium as a chance to change his life. The password he chose: Forgive@h3r. And at least once per day for the next month, often multiple times a day, he found himself typing in that phrase over and over. Each time he got to work, each day when he got back from lunch, when his computer would go to sleep while he was in a meeting or on the phone: Forgive her. Forgive her. Forgive her.

It struck me that that there was something similar about my gratitude exercise and the small success I had. It was easy to think negative thoughts and to get stuck into a pattern with them. But forcing myself to take the time not only to think about something good, but write that thought down longhand was a kind of re-wiring of my own opinions. It became easier to see that while there certainly was plenty to be upset about, the balance of the situation had still overwhelmingly in my favor. Epictetus has said that every situation has two handles: Which was I going to decide to hold onto? The anger or the appreciation?

Now in the mornings, when I journal, I try to do this as often as I can. I try to find ways to express gratitude not for the things that are easy to be grateful for, but for what is hard. Gratitude for that nagging pain in my leg, gratitude for that troublesome client, gratitude for that delayed flight, gratitude for that damage from the storm. Because it’s making me take things slow, because it’s helping me develop better boundaries, because some flights are going to be delayed and I’m glad it wasn’t a more important flight, because the damage could have been worse, because the damage exposed a more serious problem that now we’re solving. And on and on.

Because he is a ridiculous, embarrassing clown, Donald Trump once tweeted “Happy Thanksgiving to all–even the haters and losers!” But in his own way, he’s right. We should be giving thanks even to the haters and losers. Actually, that’s particularly who we should be thanking. The haters for pointing out our flaws and keeping us sharp. The losers for being losers so we don’t have to be. Or whatever. The point is: There is something to be thankful for in everything and to everyone. Even in and especially in a hater and loser like Donald Trump.

This is part and parcel of living a life of amor fati. Where instead of fighting and resisting what happens to you, you accept it, you love it all. It’s easy to be thankful for family, for health, for life, even if we regularly take these things for granted. It’s easy to express gratitude for someone who has done something kind for you, or whose work you admire. We might not do it often enough, but in a sense, we are obligated to be grateful for such things. It is far harder to be grateful for things we didn’t want to happen or to people who have hurt us. But there were benefits hidden in these situations and these interactions too. And if there wasn’t, even if the situations were unconscionably and irredeemably bad there is always some bit of us that knows that we can be grateful that at least it wasn’t even worse.

“Let us accept it,” Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself in his own journal some two thousand years ago, “as we accept what the doctor prescribes. It may not always be pleasant, but we embrace it —because we want to get well.” The Stoics saw gratitude as a kind of medicine, that saying “Thank you” for every experience was the key to mental health. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” Marcus said, “that things are good and always will be.” This isn’t always easy to do, obviously, we should try to do it because the doctor asked us to try this experimental procedure—and because the old way isn’t working well either.

I’m not saying it will be magic but it will help.

So as you gather around your family and friends this Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other celebration you might partake in, of course, appreciate it and give thanks for all the obvious and bountiful gifts that moment presents. Just make sure that when the moment passes, as you go back to your everyday, ordinary life that you make gratitude a regular part of it. Again—not simply for what is easy and immediately pleasing.

That comes naturally enough, and may even go without saying. What is in more desperate need of appreciation and perspective are the things you never asked for, the things you worked hard to prevent from happening in the first place. Because that’s where gratitude will make the biggest difference and where we need the most healing.

Whatever it is. However poorly it went.

Be grateful for it. Give thanks for it. There was good within it.

Write it down. Over and over again. Until you believe it.

If you want some specific journaling prompts (many of which are about gratitude and appreciating the present moment) check out The Daily Stoic Journal. And here are some more thoughts on the practice of journaling.

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Born in 1896 and still going: meet the world’s oldest man (probably)

Don Celino is 121, according to his Chilean ID card. That makes him four years older than the Guinness-listed oldest person

When Marta Ramrez agreed at age 63 to take in a destitute nonagenarian, she didnt see it as a long-term imposition.

The mans house had burned down, he had no one else and he looked frail.

He was 99, I didnt think hed be around that much longer, Ramrez recalls.

She is now 85, and her long-term guest, Celino Villaneuva Jaramillo, is 121 very probably the worlds oldest man.

Born in 1896 a year after George VI, and four years before the current Guinness-listed oldest person, Nabi Tajima Jaramillo lost his birth certificate in the same house fire that made him destitute 20 years ago.

But the birth date on his Chilean identity card is 1896, and no one in Chile up to the president and justice minister (who personally delivered his renewed ID card in 2016) doubts his longevity.

Checking our records, Celino Villanueva Jaramillo was effectively born on 25 July 1896 and hes still alive, said Jacqueline Salinas, one of the heads of the demographic department at Chiles office of statistics.

Celino Jaramillo, born 1896, Chile Photograph: Piotr Kozak

Jaramillo was born in the town of Ro Bueno, around 30 miles south of the regional capital of Valdivia. It was the year of the first modern Olympics, when Utah became the 45th US state, Victoria became Britains longest-reigning monarch, and Ford produced its first motor vehicle.

Exact details about his youth are now hard to ascertain as communication with him is limited. All thats known for certain is that he always found employment as an agricultural labourer, and for the past 30 years or so of his working life for a landowner called Ambrosio Toledo.

When Jaramillo turned 80, Don Ambrosio wished him well, patted him on the back and informed him he was being replaced by a younger field hand, and please could he vacate the estate house where he was living. The farmer had been paying Jaramillos contributions, so at least he had a small pension to live on.

He moved into the nearby coastal village of Mehun, renting the ill-fated and rundown shack with a dirt floor and a fireplace in the middle, over which he would hang his fish to smoke (it was a loose ember from the fire that set the house alight). The local kids, now long grown up, remember him as an elf-like figure, due to his diminutive stature, always walking around the village with a sack slung over his shoulders. He supplemented his meagre pension growing vegetables and selling the surplus to the local shops.

After the accident that destroyed his home and belongings and almost took his life (he suffered slight burns and smoke inhalation), Ramrez took him in.

For his 115th birthday in 2011, the billionaire president, Sebastin Piera, personally flew down to Valdivia accompanied by the minister of social development, Joaquin Lavin, their plane loaded with generous gifts for Chiles oldest citizen.

Lavin presented Jaramillo with a certificate verifying the governments recognition of his age, and told him he was a shining example of health and vitality to follow for all citizens and of the governments commitment to Chiles seniors.

Piera presented him with a set of earphones, two crutches and a small wood-burning stove.

Sadly, no offer was made for the provision of specialist geriatric care to Chiles and possibly the worlds oldest living inhabitant, which in the coming years would have proved a much kinder gift.

Marta Ramrez, with Jaramillo. Photograph: Piotr Kozak for the Guardian

But in Chile such attention is the reserve of private healthcare patients, and Jaramillo, who is poor, is reliant on the inferior public system. A visit to hospital earlier this year because of pneumonia did not go well. Ramrez says he has not been the same since.

Now almost 90% blind due to his (operable) cataracts, 85% deaf and toothless since nobody remembers when, it is difficult to understand what he says, although the family that cares for him certainly do.

During a visit by the Guardian, Jaramillo sat at table gumming his way through some bread and cheese. Conversation was stilted due to his hearing difficulties. He cannot walk without a helping hand, but occasionally breaks into chat, recalling how his arm was broken as a baby by an aunt and how the chief of the Mapuche tribe had many women.

Why didnt you take one? asks Ramrez. Jaramillo does not reply.

He never married or had any children.

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Pentagon approves first gender-confirmation surgery for transgender service member

Four months after President Donald Trump first tweeted he would block transgender people from serving in the military, and two weeks after a federal judge temporarily blocked that ban, one transgender military member has undergone gender-confirmation surgery. Hers is the first procedure approved and funded by the Pentagon.

According to the New York Times, an active-duty military member received the surgery on Tuesday afternoon. According to NBC News, the service member who underwent the surgery is a female infantry soldier who got her Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003.

In a statement from Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White, the Pentagon stated that a waiver for funding the service member’s procedure was approved by the director of the Defense Health Agency because she had already began a gender-confirmation course of treatment, and her doctor deemed the procedure medically necessary.

Since military hospitals don’t have the surgical expertise for gender-confirmation surgery, the service member received the procedure in a private hospital. The Supplemental Health Care Program is covering the cost of surgery, as dictated by the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ interim guidance on transgender service members.

According to a 2016 study from the RAND Corporation, allowing transgender military members to serve openly would have “minimal impact” on readiness and heathcare costs, contradicting Trump’s initial assertion of the costliness of trans service members when he first issued the ban via Twitter.

“Regardless of Trump’s attempts at enshrining discrimination in policy, we must ensure that transgender troops are treated the same as everyone else. That includes equal access to medically-necessary care,” Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Sarah McBride told the Daily Dot in a statement.

A representative Lambda Legal did not return the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

H/T Jon Passantino/Twitter

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Saying depression is a ‘choice’ only makes things worse. Allow Andy Richter to explain.

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

Depression is not a choice, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.

After reading a tweet that simply said, “Depression is a choice,” actor, writer, and comedian Andy Richter was so angry that he “pulled over after school drop-off” to vent on Twitter about what it’s like to live with depression and be constantly bombarded with unhelpful “advice” that so often amounts to little more than blame for those living with it.

“[Depression] varies in strength from a casual unresolvable suspicion that I will never find the joy that others do in a sunset, to the feeling that being dead might be a respite and a kindness,” he tweeted, highlighting how difficult the hazy experience of living with depression can be to describe.

He also draws an important distinction between having good things in one’s life — such as a great family and successful career — and being dealt a bad hand when it came to the genetic lottery of depression, a feeling he describes as “an ever-present amorphous sadness.”

“My life is full. I am lucky,” he tweeted. “And I will still reach the end of my life having walked through most of it with an emotional limp. I do not wallow in self-pity. No one did this to me. It is just how it is. I am just unlucky.”

Saying things like “depression is a choice” is not only wrong, it also keeps people from seeking the help they need.

Depression is really common. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16.1 million U.S. adults 18 or older experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015, accounting for 6.7% of all adults in the country.

Left untreated, depression can lead to all matters of problems, ranging from an inability to focus on work, all the way up to suicide — making the stigma surrounding treatment that much more frustrating.

Sadly, studies have shown that there are still significant segments of the population that view depression and mental illness as a form of weakness. In turn, that attitude reflects on back the person dealing with depression, making them feel embarrassed to seek treatment.

“If you are unburdened by depression, real true depression, count yourself lucky,” Richter wrote.

“Keep your quick fixes to yourself. This is the kind of bullshit that kills people. Learn, then speak. Or just be lucky and quiet,” he wrapped his thoughts.

The way we fight stigma is by using our voices to let the world know we exist. Today, Andy Richter did just that.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website for more information.

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