Mental Health Support Will Disappear Under The GOP Healthcare Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obamas landmark healthcare bill, is going to be torn up by the GOP and replaced with the American Healthcare Reform Act of 2017 something that has been met with a chorus of disapproval from both Democrats and Republicans, and medical professionals.

Despite the problem with rising premium costs, Obamacare meant that over 20 million Americans received health care and plenty of them had their lives saved by the legislature. The GOP kingpins are making it seem like replacing it with their own version will be easy, but a quick look at history reveals that this is wishful thinking of the highest order.

At a glance, the new bill amounts to a $600 billion tax cut for the top 0.1 percent, while being Obamacare-lite in terms of its ability to provide health coverage for most Americans. Its worth highlighting that, apart from the fact that tens of millions will instantly lose coverage, theres some deeplyupsetting news for those suffering from mental health issues.

The ACA expanded Medicaid, the social health care program for those with limited economic resources, in order to make sure a health issue wouldnt disrupt their lives.

The new bill, HR 277, will roll back this expansion by 2020, which means among other things that almost 8 million people who use Medicaid to get support for mental health issues, and the 10.4 million that get help for their substance abuse, will no longer have it.

Dont take our word for it you can read the bill yourself, or, if you support the repeal of the ACA, take a peek at a statement released by four GOP Senators.

Writing to House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) explain that they are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services.

We believe Medicaid needs to be reformed, they write, but reform should not come at the cost of disruption in access to health care for our countrys most vulnerable and sickest individuals.

The Senators go on to say that they fully support the repeal of ACA, but there needs to be a gradual transition from one plan to the next to ensure that people relying on such programs are supported throughout.

The Affordable Care Act is not working for states or the federal government and must be repealed and replaced with a plan that reforms Medicaid and protects individuals and their families over the long term, they add.

However, the February 10 draft proposal from the House does not meet the test of stability for individuals currently enrolled in the program and we will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations.

That last paragraphs importance cannot be understated. Currently, the GOP have a slim majority of 52 in the Senate, which means they can certainly repeal the ACA but only if they have pretty much everyone on board. If these four dissenting Senators withdraw their support and they arent alone in their protestations then ACA wont be repealed.

Additionally, in order to vote to enact a new bill, the GOP need a supermajority of 60 senators to vote for it, something they currently dont, and wont, have.

So as it stands, all these people relying on mental health programs may or may not have coverage within a few months depending on what wary GOP lawmakers decide to do. If they do lose their coverage, theres no mechanism available for them to quickly replace their coverage with a new bill.

A recent study suggested that as many as 83 percent of people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point during their lives. HR 1275, as it stands, will doom millions to deal with these problems themselves, and thats nothing short of unacceptable.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/mental-health-support-disappear-under-gop-healthcare-act/

So Coconut Oil Is Actually Really, Really Bad For You

Youd be hard pressed to find someone who doesnt like coconuts. They are furry spheres of deliciousness, after all. Coconut water though is pointless it doesnt have any clear health benefits and its just a saltier version of normal water.

Then theres coconut oil. Its the latest cooking fad, and people all over the Web are claiming that its much healthier than any other oil out there. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, coco-nutcases, but according to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is just as unhealthy as butter and beef dripping.

According to a key advisory notice published in the journal Circulation one which looks at all kinds of fats and their links to cardiovascular disease coconut oil is packed with saturated fats. In fact, 82 percent of coconut oil is comprised of saturated fats, far more than in regular butter (63), olive oil (14), peanut oil (17), and sunflower oil (10).

Saturated fat, unlike others, can raise the amount of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, which increases your risk of contracting heart disease in the future. It can be found in butter and lard, cakes, biscuits, fatty meats, cheese, and cream, among other things including coconut oil.

A recent survey reported that 72 percent of the American public rated coconut oil as a healthy food compared with 37 percent of nutritionists, the AHAs review notes. This disconnect between lay and expert opinion can be attributed to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press.

A meta-analysis of a suite of experiments have conclusively shown that butter and coconut oil, in terms of raising the amount of bad cholesterol in your body, are just as bad as each other.

Because coconut oil increases [bad] cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil, the AHA conclude. In essence, there is nothing to gain and everything to lose by using coconut oil in cooking.

STOP. Do not do this. Africa Studio/Shutterstock

If you already have high bad cholesterol levels, then coconut oil is potentially quite dangerous to consume or use in acts of culinary creations. Swapping it out for olive oil, according to the AHA, will reduce your cholesterol levels as much as cutting-edge, cholesterol-lowering drugs.

So next time you see anyone claiming that coconut oil is good for you or that its pro-health and anti-everything bad! you can confidently tell them that theyre spouting bullshit.

Its important to remember though that a little bit of fat is definitely good for you, as fatty acids are essential for proper absorption of vitamins. Unsaturated fats are generally thought to be quite good for you in this regard; you can find them in avocados, fish oil, nuts, and seeds.

[H/T: BBC News]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/coconut-oil-bad/

59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped OutAnd They’re Trying to Tell Us Why

Only 4 percent of the Millennial Generation are Bible-Based Believers. This means that 96 percent of Millennials likely don’t live out the teachings of the Bible, value the morals of Christianity and probably won’t be found in a church. This author goes deep to explain why.

By Sam Eaton

From the depths of my heart, I want to love church.

I want to be head-over-heals for church like the unshakable Ned Flanders.

I want to send global, sky-writing airplanes telling the life-change that happens beneath a steeple. I want to install a police microphone on top of my car and cruise the streets screaming to the masses about the magical Utopian community of believers waiting for them just down the street.

I desperately want to feel this way about church, but I dont. Not even a little bit. In fact, like much of my generation, I feel the complete opposite.

Turns out I identify more with Maria from The Sound of Music staring out the abbey window, longing to be free.

It seems all-too-often our churches are actually causing more damage than good, and the statistics are showing a staggering number of millennials have taken note.

According to this study (and many others like it) church attendance and impressions of the church are the lowest in recent history, and most drastic among millennials described as 22- to 35-year-olds.

  • Only 2 in 10 Americans under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).
  • 59 percent of millennials raised in a church have dropped out.
  • 35 percent of millennials have an anti-church stance, believing the church does more harm than good.
  • Millennials are the least likely age group of anyone to attend church (by far).

As I sat in our large churchs annual meeting last month, I looked around for anyone in my age bracket. It was a little like a Titanic search party

IS ANYONE ALIVE OUT THERE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

Tuning in and out of the 90-minute state-of-the-church address, I kept wondering to myself, where are my people? And then the scarier question, why I am still here?

A deep-seated dissatisfaction has been growing in me and, despite my greatest attempts to whack-a-mole it back down, no matter what I do it continues to rise out of my wirey frame.

[To follow my publicly-chronicled church struggles, check out my other posts The How Can I Help Project and 50 Ways to Serve the Least of These.]

Despite the steep drop-off in millennials, most churches seem to be continuing on with business as usual. Sure, maybe they add a food truck here or a bowling night there, but no one seems to be reacting with any level of concern that matches these STAGGERING statistics.

Where is the task-force searching for the lost generation? Where is the introspective reflection necessary when 1/3 of a generation is ANTI-CHURCH?

The truth is no one has asked me why millennials dont like church. Luckily, as a public school teacher, I am highly skilled at answering questions before theyre asked. Its a gift really.

So, at the risk of being excommunicated, here is the metaphorical nailing of my own 12 theses to the wooden door of the American, Millennial-less Church.

1. Nobodys Listening to Us

Millennials value voice and receptivity above all else. When a church forges ahead without ever asking for our input we get the message loud and clear:Nobody cares what we think. Why then, should we blindly serve an institution that we cannot change or shape?

Solution:

  • Create regular outlets (forums, surveys, meetings) to discover the needs of young adults both inside AND outside the church.
  • Invite millennials to serve on leadership teams or advisory boards where they can make a difference.
  • Hire a young adults pastor who has the desire and skill-set to connect with millennials.

2. Were Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements

Sweet Moses people, give it a rest.

Of course as an organization its important to be moving in the same direction, but that should easier for Christians than anyone because we already have a leader to follow. Jesus was insanely clear about our purpose on earth:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)

Love God. Love Others. Task completed.

Why does every church need its own mission statement anyway? Arent we all one body of Christ, serving one God? What would happen if the entire American Church came together in our commonalities and used the same, concise mission statement?

Solution:

  • Stop wasting time on the religious mambo jambo and get back to the heart of the gospel. If you have to explain your mission and values to the church, its overly-religious and much too complicated.
  • Were not impressed with the hours you brag about spending behind closed doors wrestling with Christianese words on a paper. Were impressed with actions and service.

3. Helping the Poor Isnt a Priority

My heart is broken for how radically self-centered and utterly American our institution has become.

Lets clock the number of hours the average church attender spends in church-type activities. Bible studies, meetings, groups, social functions, book clubs, planning meetings, talking about building community, discussing a new mission statement

Now let’s clock the number of hours spent serving the least of these. Oooooo, awkward.

If the numbers are not equal please check your Bible for better comprehension (or revisit the universal church mission statement stated above).

If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is in us at all. Radical, David Platt

Solutions:

  • Stop creating more Bible studies and Christian activity. Community happens best in service with a shared purpose.
  • Survey your members asking them what injustice or cause God has placed on their hearts. Then connect people who share similar passions. Create space for them to meet and brainstorm and then sit back and watch what God brings to life.
  • Create group serve dates once a month where anyone can show up and make a difference (and, oh yeah, theyll also meet new people).

4. Were Tired of You Blaming the Culture

From Elvis hips to rap music, from Footloose to twerking, every older generation comes to the same conclusion: The world is going to pot faster than the state of Colorado. Were aware of the down-falls of the culturebelieve it or not we are actually living in it too.

Perhaps its easier to focus on how terrible the world is out there than actually address the mess within.

Solution:

  • Put the end times rhetoric to rest and focus on real solutions and real impact in our immediate community.
  • Explicitly teach us how our lives should differ from the culture. (If this teaching isnt happening in your life, check out the book Weird: Because Normal Isnt Working by Craig Groeschel)

5. The You Cant Sit With Us Affect

There is this life-changing movie all humans must see, regardless of gender. The film is of course the 2004 classic Mean Girls.

In the film, the most popular girl in school forgets to wear pink on a Wednesday (a cardinal sin), to which Gretchen Weiners screams, YOU CANT SIT WITH US!

Today, my mom said to me, Church has always felt exclusive and cliquey, like high school. With sadness in her voice she continued, and Ive never been good at that game so I stopped playing.

The truth is, I share her experience. As do thousands of others.

Until the church finds a way to be radically kinder and more compassionate than the world at large, we tell outsiders theyre better off on their own. And the truth is, many times they are.

Solutions:

  • Create authentic communities with a shared purpose centered around service.
  • Create and train a team of CONNECT people whose purpose is to seek out the outliers on Sunday mornings or during other events. Explicitly teach people these skills as they do not come naturally to most of the population.
  • Stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected. For some people, especially those that are shy or struggle with anxiety, putting yourself out there even just once might be an overwhelming task. We have to find ways to bridge that gap.

6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources

Over and over weve been told to tithe and give 10 percent of our incomes to the church, but where does that money actually go? Millennials, more than any other generation, dont trust institutions, for we have witnessed over and over how corrupt and self-serving they can be.

We want pain-staking transparency. We want to see on the church homepage a document where we can track every dollar.

Why should thousands of our hard-earned dollars go toward a mortgage on a multi-million dollar building that isnt being utilized to serve the community, or to pay for another celebratory bouncy castle when that same cash-money could provide food, clean water and shelter for someone in need?

Solution:

  • Go out of your way to make all financial records readily accessible. Earn our trust so we can give with confidence.
  • Create an environment of frugality.
  • Move to zero-based budgeting where departments arent allocated certain dollar amounts but are asked to justify each purchase.
  • Challenge church staff to think about the opportunity cost. Could these dollars be used to better serve the kingdom?

7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At

Preaching just doesnt reach our generation like our parents and grandparents. See: millennial church attendance. We have millions of podcasts and Youtube videos of pastors the world over at our fingertips.

For that reason, the currency of good preaching is at its lowest value in history.

Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes.

Were looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we dont have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch (with the ecstasy of donuts and sweatpants)?

Solutions:

  • Create a database of adult mentors and young adults looking for someone to walk with them.
  • Ask the older generation to be intentional with the millennials in your church.

8. We Want to Feel Valued

Churches tend to rely heavily on their young adults to serve. Youre single, what else do you have to do? In fact, were tapped incessantly to help out. And, at its worst extreme, spiritually manipulated with the cringe-worthy words youre letting your church down.

Millennials are told by this world from the second we wake up to the second we take a sleeping pill that we arent good enough.

We desperately need the church to tell us we are enough, exactly the way we are. No conditions or expectations.

We need a church that sees us and believes in us, that cheers us on and encourages us to chase our big crazy dreams.

Solutions:

  • Return to point #1: listening.
  • Go out of your way to thank the people who are giving so much of their life to the church.

9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)

People in their 20s and 30s are making the biggest decisions of their entire lives: career, education, relationships, marriage, sex, finances, children, purpose, chemicals, body image.

We need someone consistently speaking truth into every single one of those areas.

No, I dont think a sermon-series on sex is appropriate for a sanctuary full of families, but we have to create a place where someone older is showing us a better way because these topics are the teaching millennials are starving for. We dont like how the world is telling us to live, but we never hear from our church either.

Solutions:

  • Create real and relevant space for young adults to learn, grow and be vulnerable.
  • Create an opportunity for young adults to find and connect with mentors.
  • Create a young adults program that transitions high school youth through late adulthood rather than abandoning them in their time of greatest need.
  • Intentionally train young adults in how to live a godly life instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

10. The Public Perception

Its time to focus on changing the public perception of the church within the community. The neighbors, the city and the people around our church buildings should be audibly thankful the congregation is part of their neighborhood. We should be serving the crap out of them.

We desperately need to be calling the schools and the city, knocking on doors, asking everyone around us how we can make their world better. When the public opinion shows 1/3 millennials are ANTI-CHURCH, we are outright failing at being the aroma of Christ.

Solutions:

  • Call the local government and schools to ask what their needs are. (See: Service Day from #3)
  • Find ways to connect with neighbors within the community.
  • Make your presence known and felt at city events.

11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless Youre Actually Going to Do Something)

Words without follow-up are far worse than ignoring us completely. Despite the stereotypes about us, we are listening to phrases being spoken in our general direction. Lip service, however, doesnt cut it. We are scrutinizing every action that follows what you say (because were sick of being ignored and listening to broken promises).

Solutions:

  • Stop speaking in abstract sound bites and make a tangible plan for how to reach millennials.
  • If you want the respect of our generation, under-promise and over-deliver.

12. Youre Failing to Adapt

Heres the bottom line, churchyou arent reaching millennials. Enough with the excuses and the blame; we need to accept reality and intentionally move toward this generation that is terrifyingly anti-church.

The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. Bill Clinton
The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. Kakuzo Okakaura
Adapt or perish, now as ever, is natures inexorable imperative. H.G. Wells

Solution:

  • Look at the data and take a risk for goodness sake. We cant keep trying the same things and just wish that millennials magically wander through the door.
  • Admit that youre out of your element with this generation and talk to the millennials you already have before they ask themselves, what I am still doing here.

You see, church leaders, our generation just isnt interested in playing church anymore, and there are real, possible solutions to filling our congregations with young adults. Its obvious youre not understanding the gravity of the problem at hand and arent nearly as alarmed as you should be about the crossroads were at.

Youre complacent, irrelevant and approaching extinction. A smattering of mostly older people, doing mostly the same things theyve always done, isnt going to turn to the tide.

Feel free to write to me off as just another angry, selfy-addicted millennial. Believe me, at this point Im beyond used to being abandoned and ignored.

The truth is, church, its your move.

Decide if millennials actually matter to you and let us know. In the meantime, well be over here in our sweatpants listening to podcasts, serving the poor and agreeing with public opinion that perhaps church isnt as important or worthwhile as our parents have lead us to believe.

About the Author: Sam Eaton is a writer, speaker, and in-progress author whos in love with all things Jesus, laughter, adventure, hilarious dance parties and vulnerability. Sam is also the founder of Recklessly Alive Ministries, a mental health and suicide-prevention ministry sprinting towards a world with zero deaths from suicide. Come hang out with him at RecklesslyAlive.com.

Read more: http://faithit.com/12-reasons-millennials-over-church-sam-eaton/

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens

Its important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. Im going to tell you that libraries are important. Im going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. Im going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: Im an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living through my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So Im biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.

And Im here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And its that change, and that act of reading that Im here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What its good for.

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldnt read. And certainly couldnt read for pleasure.

Its not one to one: you cant say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, its a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if its hard, because someones in trouble and you have to know how its all going to end thats a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, youre on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

I dont think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of childrens books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. Ive seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.

Enid
No such thing as a bad writer… Enid Blytons Famous Five. Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy

Its tosh. Its snobbery and its foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isnt hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a childs love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian improving literature. Youll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.

We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen Kings Carrie, saying if you liked those youll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen Kings name is mentioned.)

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. Youre being someone else, and when you return to your own world, youre going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

Youre also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And its this:

The world doesnt have to be like this. Things can be different.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

Its simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere youve never been. Once youve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

And while were on the subject, Id like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if its a bad thing. As if escapist fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldnt you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Tolkien's
Tolkiens illustration of Bilbos home, Bag End. Photograph: HarperCollins

Another way to destroy a childs love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the childrens library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the childrens library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader nothing less or more which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, weve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. Thats about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.

A
Photograph: Alamy

Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content.

A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. Its a community space. Its a place of safety, a haven from the world. Its a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account.

Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce.

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us as readers, as writers, as citizens have obligations. I thought Id try and spell out some of these obligations here.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.

We writers and especially writers for children, but all writers have an obligation to our readers: its the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we ve lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all adults and children, writers and readers have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. Im going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. Its this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world weve shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.

We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. If you want your children to be intelligent, he said, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.

This is an edited version of Neil Gaimans lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London. The Reading Agencys annual lecture series was initiated in 2012 as a platform for leading writers and thinkers to share original, challenging ideas about reading and libraries.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

5 Things (8.13.17)

1. A weird thing about mental health is that pretty much everyone tells you to just go outside and go for a walk. This is okay advice. Going outside helps. Walks help. But Ive had so many frustrating experiences the last few months where Ive been doing everything right and still had anxiety. I went to my familys cabin and I was surrounded by people who love me for four days, and I was in the sun all day soaking up vitamin d, and I was doing water sports all day challenging myself, trying new things (this is supposed to spend anxious energy) and getting exercise. It was a long, idyllic weekend and every night I still felt that same familiar creep.

My mind would catch on something (on anything) and Id feel panic rise the way it always did. Id google a lot of things to try to find some fact because I always feel like there is some fact I can google that is going to make me realize how irrational Im being. I had to sit with it and be uncomfortable, the way I always did.

I was frustrated because more than any other week out of my year, I was doing what everyone says you are supposed to do and the anxiety came anyway. I was a good girl. I was trying. It came anyway. Maybe it is going to come no matter what. Maybe I should take some pills even though all the podcasts I listen to say it will make you a zombie and that the pharmaceutical industry is bad. Thats probably true, too. Everyone is bad. I am an optimist and I truly love people and even I think everyone is bad.

2. I heard a podcast I loved a few weeks ago and I sent it to a friend who loves that podcast and she loved it too. The podcast was about how we are missing something, we western humans who construct cul-de-sacs and subdivisions and have the mistaken belief that we can or should separate ourselves from pain or other people or that our lives are better when we avoid suffering and have happy #blessed lives on Instagram.

The line I remember is, We’re not going to burn down the suburbs and live in lean-tos, we’d probably be happier if we did, but we’re not going to. We know we are creating a world that is bad for us. But we also know creating is good. So we keep on doing it.

The happiest people have so many ties to each other, but we avoid those because ties to other people cause suffering. The part I keep thinking about is how the friend thought it was a good podcast but avoids all this vulnerability, all this potential for suffering. The way she is suburban in the way he uses her heart. The way she remains separate in order to avoid suvvering. The way we all know what is good for us and try to avoid it, anyway.

3. To add on to my earlier point, I started walking 10k steps a day and I still have anxiety. Sometimes I think about a problem and I think I will feel better if I go for a walk and sometimes all the walk does is get me more worked up about the problem. Though, sometimes it also helps.

4. And I speak of the word problem loosely because the problem I had the other day is that I was upset because I wasnt sure if I would ever be rich enough to live somewhere with granite counters. I am rich enough now to live somewhere with granite counters but I dont feel like that is a good use of my money because it would be very expensive to live somewhere both with granite counters and near the lake and I love living near the lake. (Living near the lake is supposed to be this whole thing that helps my anxiety to begin with).

Whats struck me a lot this year is the way that things Ive always known to be true (no ones life is as good as it seems, the way people treat you is the way people feel about you, you cant compare your life to other peoples) still ring true in theory, but can be so fucking hard to accept when it comes down to the minutiae of life.

5. A truly crazy thing about my 30s is the degree to which I compare my life to everyone else’s when I never thought I cared about everyone else’s lives. I was looking forward to this decade because everyone said you feel more confident and secure and you worry less. That’s true for me, but I also find myself feeling bad a lot for not having things I don’t even want!!! I have never been a person who wanted to own a house and I know this is a thing a lot of people dream about and want very badly. I am indifferent. I know a lot of people also want children very badly and have them and that is great for them. But suddenly, not having these things and not wanting these things is a big deal.

I feel like I should want them and that I should want them very badly and that I should feel bad that I don’t have them already.

And I know, , I don’t have to want anything other than what I actually want. But it is hard to not think I am doing something wrong — to not think I will regret not wanting the things everyone else wants. I don’t know what I can do about that. It seems so dumb to say I just care about my art and the way I express my one and only experience on this planet — whether or not that form or art is ever considered good or whether it is commercially successful — that the act of writing it down is enough for me. That seems like an insane thing to say and I am filled with doubt about how I might regret thinking that is what I care about.

But I don’t get kids. And I don’t get houses. And I just want to have amazing relationship with the people I am close to and talk about things and create things. I don’t know how to feel secure in this want, but I do know it rings true for me, it is what would make me happy and satisfied. It just feels weird it’s made out of a different substance than the things that make other people I love and respect feel happy and satisfied. Or like, it should be both and and I should be capable of doing more than I am. I don’t know. I feel behind. I feel worried. I feel anxious in a way I was hoping would be gone by now.

Pre-order your copy of Chrissy Stockton’s new poetry book, , here.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/christine-stockton/2017/08/5-things-8-13-17/

Facebook’s original video is something publishers are actually excited for

Virtually Dating" is a five-episode series produced by Cond Nast Entertainment.
Image: conde nast entertainment

For all of Facebook’s big talk about video, it was still just part of the almighty News Feed.

Publishers hoping to capture a moment of a user’s attention looked for thumb-stopping moments, which gave rise to a new and not-terribly compelling format of video that remains endemic to Facebook.

Watch is something different. Facebook’s new original video program features TV-like shows made by media companies. Perhaps most importantly, the shows are showcased in a brand new section of the social network.

That’s enough to convince publishers, who have spent years contorting to fit into Facebook’s plans, that Watch could be big.

“We are really excited,” said Dawn Ostroff, president of Cond Nast Entertainment, which is producing a dating show with a virtual reality twist for Watch. “This is a new opportunity, a new type of content. [Facebook’s] trying to open up a whole new area for content makers.”

Oren Katzeff, Tastemade‘s head of programming, offered similar excitement. The food-focused media company has created six shows for Facebook Watch.

“Were able to be a part of appointment viewing, and thats huge,” Katzeff said

That enthusiasm is quite unlike how publishers have previously behaved when asked about their work with and on Facebook. Typically, there’s a roll of the eyes, a sigh, and a list of grievances.

“The problem with Facebook’s entire ‘news team’ is that they’re glorified client services people,” the head of digital operations at a major news outlet told Mashable at F8, the company’s annual developer conference in April.

Now, there’s a new sense of hope among the media industry. Facebook’s massive scale has always tempted publishers, but revenue has been elusive. Facebook’s new program, with its emphasis on quality content and less on thumb-bait, seems ready-made for high-end ads. These original shows, in concept, also compete with what’s available live on TV and bingeable on Netflix and Huluplatforms that most publishers haven’t cracked.

“I think it is where people will go to watch on-demand programming and live news, and I intend Cheddar to be the leading live news player on Watch,” Jon Steinberg, CEO of business news show Cheddar, wrote in a private Twitter message.

Facebook’s Watch platform

Image: facebook

Simultaneously, there’s little stress for publishers about potential revenuefor now. Facebook has guaranteed minimum earnings for each episode, according to an executive at a participating publisher who could not be named since financial discussions are private. Facebook not only pays a licensing fee to publishers but also will split revenue from mid-roll ads.

It’s not the first time Facebook has cut checks for publishers to support video efforts. Last year, Facebook paid publishers, including Mashable, to produce live videos, requiring a minimum number of minutes streamed per month. (Mashable is also a Watch partner.)

But Facebook’s live video effort was slow to start, and publishers didn’t reap in rewardsespecially when it came to the return of their investments, several participants told Mashable.

It wasn’t all their fault or Facebook’s. For one, Facebook users weren’t really used to going to the site or the app for live video. Since then, Facebook has released several products, including a redesigned version of the current video tab and a TV app, both of which better support the new ecosystem. Publishers’ series will be spotlighted on the Facebook’s new tab for shows, for example. The experience is slowly being rolled out to users over the next month.

Participating publishers are going all in.

Tastemade produced six shows over the last few months and is still wrapping up a couple. Three are food focused: Kitchen Little, Struggle Meals, and Food To Die For. Two are more home and lifestyle: Move-In Day and Safe Deposit. The sixth is a late-night comedy show with celebrity interviews, hosted by an animated taco, called Let’s Taco Bout It.

“Tomas grew up as a Taco, and he had adopted parents, and his life goal has been to discover who his true parents are. He tries to relate with his guests,” Katzeff said.

Tomas Taco

Image: tastemade

What’s exciting here is not just an animated taco, but the fact that these publishers are well positioned to scale these tacos… err video series.

Maybe an animated taco won’t appeal to all 2 billion of Facebook’s users, but it doesn’t necessarily need to. Unlike TV, these shows aren’t locked into specific networks with a specific time-slot. Rather, they can be directed to actual people, based on their interests (Facebook likes) and demographic information.

“With Facebook Watch, the era of audience parting has truly arrived,” wrote Nick Cicero of Delmondo, a Facebook media solutions partner for video analytics.

Unlike TV, Facebook has a built-in platform for conversation. Ostroff of Cond Nast Entertainment said she believed Facebook greenlighted Virtually Dating, a show where blind dates take place in a virtual reality world, for the Watch platform because of the potential for online conversation.

“If it works, it was something that could go viral or a show that everyone could weigh in on,” Ostroff said. “Were excited about learning, learning how the viewer and the consumer is going to use [Watch]. Whats going to succeed and whats not.”

No one is saying it’s been easy. Several publishers told Mashable they have been careful to make sure they are staying in budget. They also noted that it is still a testone that they will be closely monitoring. Now that the shows are near launch, publishers said they will need to focus on promotion.

Watch “is really great for those who were actually able to get into the program,” said Jarrett Moreno, cofounder of ATTN, which has created Health Hacks starring Jessica Alba and We Need to Talk with Nev Schulman and Laura Perlongo.”It’s a priority for Facebook. They’ve emphasized that.”

A priority, for now.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/08/12/facebook-watch-original-video-publishers-pitchfork/

This is the future liberals want: Cars powered by CHILD LABOR instead of gasoline

What a truly awful read over in the Daily Mail on child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo used to mine cobalt, a key ingredient in batteries for electric cars:

Read more: http://twitchy.com/gregp-3534/2017/08/10/this-is-the-future-liberals-want-cars-powered-by-child-labor-instead-of-gasoline/

Congressmen: Our bipartisan plan for health care

(CNN)People are sick of politics and politicians. They have had it with the finger-pointing and blame games while the world is engulfed in chaos.

We are, too.
We’re freshman members of Congress from different political parties, but we know there is more that unites us than divides us. That’s why we’re part of the Problem Solvers Caucus: a group of more than 40 lawmakers, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, committed to — you guessed it — solving problems.
    This month, after working together for weeks, the Problem Solvers Caucus announced a five-point proposal to begin the process of fixing our broken health care system. After years of attacks and counterattacks by both parties, we are resetting the conversation by outlining a set of principles aimed at stabilizing the health insurance markets and providing relief to individuals, families and small businesses.
    As it stands, the Affordable Care Act is unsustainable. For too many Americans, health care is still too expensive. Premiums are rising and people are scared. This is a life-and-death issue for many Americans. They deserve to know that when they get sick, or their child falls ill, that a system will be in place to ensure they have access to high-quality, affordable health coverage. That should be the goal for any lawmaker, regardless of party.
    We know that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but we need to keep what works and fix what doesn’t. The bottom line is: we need to stabilize the individual market right now — and that is what our proposal does.
    First, it would bring cost-sharing reduction payments under Congressional authority, but ensure they have mandatory funding. The President has threatened to withhold these funds, which would result in devastating premium increases and out-of-pocket costs for families.
    Second, we must stabilize the individual marketplace by creating a dedicated fund for states to use to bring down premiums and limit losses for providing coverage, especially for people with pre-existing conditions.
    Third, our plan calls for an adjustment to the employer mandate from businesses that have 50 employees to those with 500 employees. The current mandate puts too many burdens on small businesses, making it almost impossible to grow beyond 50 employees.
    Fourth, we must repeal the 2.3% Medical Device Tax, which we know is passed onto consumers and creates a bigger hole in their pocket.
    Finally, our proposal will provide technical changes and guidelines for states seeking to improve their exchanges and offer better coverage for consumers.
    This isn’t the silver bullet solution to our healthcare troubles, but it’s a start — and it’s the exact kind of common sense leadership that Americans are looking for. Instead of focusing on scoring political points, the Problem Solvers Caucus’ goal is simple: get things done.
    We both happen to have been trained as CPAs and lawyers. We’re both freshmen members from suburban districts. One is from Long Island and Queens in New York and the other from outside Philadelphia, but we are joined by other members from all over our nation with varying backgrounds and years of service.
    When we came to Congress earlier this year, each of us signed a freshman pledge to civility. That’s what being an elected official is about. We chose to set aside our petty differences, look at the big picture, and realize that we have a sacred duty to improve the lives of the people who have entrusted us with the responsibility of representing them — and our country — in Congress.
    We know that this is serious business. Ramming through legislation with support from only one party is not how the legislative branch of government was meant to operate, and as we’ve seen before and we’re seeing again now, it just doesn’t work.

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    We need leaders sobered by their responsibilities and individuals committed to stopping the nonsense that dominates our current national discourse and elevating the debate to the serious, responsible level our times demand.
    Instead of focusing on areas of disagreement, let’s focus on goodwill and compromise where we can find common ground. We believe our health care proposal is the start of many good bipartisan conversations. It is not only our duty, but our only hope.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/10/opinions/problem-solvers-caucus-opinion-souzzi-fitzpatrick/index.html

    Health startup Buoy raises $6.7 million to invest in recruitment and research

    Buoy, a startup using an intelligent algorithm backed by medical data to guess what ails you, has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding from F-Prime Capital Partners,FundRx and various angel investors to help scale operations.

    The startup debuted in March of this year to take on WebMD and other online symptom checkers with an algorithm it believes can more accurately diagnose patients. Founder and Harvard-trained MD Andrew Le told TechCrunch at the time he had implemented a battery of tests and conducted a series of studies to ensure Buoys accuracy.

    His plan at the time was to onboard both consumers and hospital organizations to swiftly process patients before they see a doctor. Buoy claims it has experienced rapid growth since then and that more than over a quarter of a million people have used the platform.

    Buoy will use this round of financing to invest in maintaining that growth in a few key areas, including the recruitment of additional clinical researchers, engineers and marketers and to build integrations with hospitals and providers. FundRx will also supply the startup with physicians for a new medical board.

    The team at Buoy has taken an innovative approach to solving the problem of health symptom search, said Carl Byers, executive partner at F-Prime. By engaging patients intelligently at the moment they experience symptoms, Buoy can deliver triage at scale in a way that can be adopted seamlessly within the healthcare system as a new digital front door to the care journey.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/09/health-startup-buoy-raises-6-7-million-to-invest-in-recruitment-and-research/

    Scots alarm growing over Bovine TB case in Cumbria badger – BBC News

    Image copyright AFP
    Image caption Concern is growing among Scottish farmers about the discovery of a deadly cattle disease in a badger in Cumbria

    Concern appears to be growing among farmers in Scotland after Bovine TB was discovered in a badger in Cumbria.

    Although the discovery was made some distance away, there are fears about the impact a spread would have on Scotland’s Bovine TB-free status.

    Further tests are under way to establish whether the disease is isolated to a single badger or part of an outbreak.

    Experts urged farmers not to panic, but to exercise high levels of biosecurity.

    But NFU Scotland said it would be a disaster if Scotland was to lose its Bovine TB-free status.

    The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) discovered the disease in badgers for the first time in about 30 years while investigating 16 cases in cattle in east Cumbria.

    Restrictions on the movement of cattle are in place and further investigations are under way.

    TB-free status

    Professor Rowland Keo, a TB specialist from Glasgow University, said: “We have testing of cows both before they move in from England and also after they move into Scotland. Surveillance is what we need, not panic.”

    Although Scotland has officially been “TB free” since 2009, there are still cases. The designation requires less than a tenth of 1% of herds to have had the condition over the past six years.

    Image copyright Reuters/Rebecca Naden
    Image caption The last case of TB in badgers in Cumbria was in the 1980s

    Figures from Defra show 40 “new herd incidents” in Scotland in the 12 months to April 2017. In England there were 3,786.

    Restrictions on cattle movements and testing are the biggest defences but containment becomes more difficult once the disease spreads to wildlife.

    Scotland’s mountainous geography acts as a helpful barrier for stopping a spread and experts still believe cattle would be the most likely cause.

    TB-free

    The impact of Bovine TB can be devastating with positive tests resulting in an immediate lock-down for farmers.

    That happened in 2015 to Gordon McKilligan who farms near Banff in Aberdeenshire. He was given the all-clear three months later.

    He said: “That’s been the most difficult day I’ve had and knowing what it was going to mean for the whole year, and the knock-on effect it was going to have on everything else, it all went through my mind.

    “It was thoroughly difficult because it meant I was in standstill and couldn’t move anything or sell anything.”

    Being “TB-free” means animals only have to be tested every four years, unless they are being imported from high-risk areas. But the farming community sees a bigger benefit with Scotland trading on a reputation for high health and high welfare.

    NFU Scotland’s animal welfare policy manager, Penny Middleton, said: “It’s a really good thing for Scotland and we were really pleased when we managed to get it.

    “Particularly when we are facing Brexit and have to negotiate our own trade deals it’s going to be a really important thing that we can keep hold of because it could make a big difference for us in the future.”

    Badger culls

    Badgers have been culled in parts of England to control the spread and some are calling for the same in Cumbria.

    Even if there was an outbreak in Scotland, Eddie Palmer from Scottish Badgers thinks it is unlikely there would be culling here.

    He said: “I don’t think any sort of culling experiment or action would happen in Scotland for several reasons.

    “One is that it wouldn’t work, the second thing is it’s really expensive and I think there would be a public outcry about it.

    All of this is a long way off and farmers are hoping the Cumbrian badger proves to be an isolated case.

    Scotland’s chief vet declined to be interviewed about the concerns but the Scottish government said it was monitoring the situation in Cumbria.

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-40867854