Messing About with the Many #Canva #Resume #Template













Say His Name, Aylan Kurdi

Aylan, the toddler who drowned yesterday fleeing Syria, was just three years old. His town was under attack by Isis. His five year old brother and his mum also died trying to reach safety. [1]

Yet our Prime Minister has just said ‘we won’t take any more refugees’. [2] He thinks that most of us don’t care.

But 38 Degrees members do care. We don’t want Britain to be the kind of country that turns its back as people drown in their desperation to flee places like Syria.

So let’s stand up for Britain’s long tradition of helping refugees fleeing war. If tens of thousands of us write to our MPs, demanding no more drownings, we can force the government into action.

Please can you email your MP now? It’ll just take a minute but it could be our best chance to force the government to help people fleeing from war and violence. There’s some suggested text to help you write your email if you’re not sure what to say:

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

If MPs hear from lots of their constituents today, they’ll realise that lots of us don’t agree with David Cameron: we want the UK to do its bit to help refugees fleeing war. And if enough MPs start speaking out, Cameron will feel isolated and start to change his tune. Pressure on MPs today could help stop more children drowning as they try to get to safety.

The tide is starting to turn against the government. Some MPs are already starting to call on them to give immediate sanctuary to refugees. [3] Every message we send to an MP today helps pile the pressure on Cameron.

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]

Britain has a long tradition of helping people fleeing war. It’s part of being a civilised country. And 38 Degrees members have a strong record of standing up for a Britain we can all be proud to live in – whether that’s through defending the NHS or our countryside, or by making sure we do our bit to help refugees.

So let’s speak up today and tell David Cameron that we won’t stand by while he lets children drown.

[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”;zip=TQ2%206BG&#8221; style=”height:50px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:400px;” stroke=”f” fillcolor=”#ff7a01″> <w:anchorlock/> <center> <![endif]EMAIL YOUR MP[if mso]> </center> </v:rect> <![endif]


In hope,

Nat, Laura, David, Amy, Megan and the whole 38 Degrees team

PS. Tonight, 38 Degrees members across the country will be lighting a candle in their window as a sign of remembrance for those who have drowned trying to reach safety. Please join in if you feel moved to.

Many of us are also putting signs that say ‘refugees welcome’ in our windows to show the kind of place we want Britain to be. You can find a ‘refugees welcome’ poster to print and put in your front window here:

Or, if you want to donate money, the British Red Cross is running an emergency fundraising appeal to help victims of the Syrian crisis:

But first of all, please contact your MP and help build pressure on our government to do the right thing:


[1] The Independent: Refugee Crisis Aylan’s life was full of fear – in death he is part of humanity washed ashore:–in-death-he-is-part-of-humanity-washed-ashore-10483670.html

[2] BBC News: David Cameron: Taking more and more refugees not answer:

[3] The Guardian: Migration Crisis: Pressure mounts on David Cameron to relent on taking more refugees:

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Opening Remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations


Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release


March 11, 2015

Opening Remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry
Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

March 11, 2015
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Menendez, members of the committee, we’re pleased to be here.  I’m pleased to return here, and particularly so with – in the distinguished company of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marty Dempsey.

From my 29 years of service on this committee, I have nothing but respect for the committee’s prerogatives, and particularly the role that it can play on a critical issue like this.  We are very simply looking for – as I think both of you, Mr. Chairman and the Ranking Member have said – the appropriate present-day authorization – not, as you said, Senator Menendez, 2001, but 2015 statement by the United States Congress about the authority with which we should be able to go after, degrade, and destroy, as the President has said, a group known as ISIL or Daesh.

Now, Mr. Chairman, in our democracy, there are many views about the challenges and the opportunities that we face, and that’s appropriate.  That’s who we are.  But I hope we believe that there is an overwhelming consensus that Daesh has to be stopped.  Our nation is strongest, always has been, when we act together.  There’s a great tradition in this country of foreign policy having a special place, that politics ends at the water’s edge, and that we will act on behalf of our nation without regard to party and ideology.  We simply cannot allow this collection of murderers and thugs to achieve in their group their ambition, which includes, by the way, most likely the death or submission of all those who oppose it, the seizure of land, the theft of resources, the incitement of terrorism across the globe, the killing and attacking of people simply for what they believe or for who they are.

And the joint resolution that is proposed by the President provides the means for America and its representatives to speak with a single powerful voice at this pivotal hour.  When I came here last time, I mentioned that —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  The American people are speaking out, Secretary Kerry.  We’re tired of an endless war.  We don’t want to go in with – a war with no (inaudible).

CHAIRMAN CORKER:  The committee will be in order.  Look, we appreciate —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) be another endless war and killing of innocent people.

CHAIRMAN CORKER:  Okay.  If this happens again, I would ask the police to escort immediately people out of the room.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) dollars on the war, creating more terrorism, killing more innocent people.

SECRETARY KERRY:  Killing more innocent people.  I wonder how our journalists who were beheaded and a pilot who was fighting for freedom who is burned alive, what they would have to say to their efforts to protect innocent people.

ISIL’s momentum has been diminished, Mr. Chairman.  It’s still picking up supporters in places.  Obviously, we’ve all observed that.  But in the places where we have focused and where we are asking you to focus at this moment in time, it is clear that even while savage attacks continue, there is the beginning of a process to cut off their supply lines, to take out their leaders, to cut off their finances, to reduce the foreign fighters, to counter the messaging that has brought some of those fighters to this effort.  But to ensure its defeat, we have to persist until we prevail in the broad-based campaign along multiple lines of effort that have been laid out over the course of the last months.

The President already has statutory authority to act against ISIL, but a clear and formal expression of this Congress’s backing at this moment in time would dispel doubt that might exist anywhere that Americans are united in this effort.  Approval of this resolution would encourage our friends and our partners in the Middle East, it would further energize the members and prospective members of the global coalition that we have assembled to oppose Daesh, and it would constitute a richly deserved vote of confidence in the men and women of our armed forces who are on the front lines prosecuting this effort on our behalf.

Your unity would also send an unmistakable message to the leaders of Daesh.  They have to understand they can’t divide us.  Don’t let them.  They cannot intimidate us.  And they have no hope of defeating us.  The resolution that we have proposed would give the President a clear mandate to prosecute the armed component of this conflict against Daesh and associated persons or forces, which we believe is carefully delineated and defined.  And while the proposal contains certain limitations that are appropriate in light of the nature of this mission, it provides the flexibility that the President needs to direct a successful military campaign.  And that’s why the Administration did propose a limitation on the use of “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”  I might add that was after the committee – then-committee chair Senator Menendez and the committee moved forward with its language and we came up here and testified and responded, basically, to the dynamics that were presented to us within the committee and the Congress itself.

So the proposal also includes no geographic limitation, not because there are plans to take it anywhere, but because –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) we want permission —

SECRETARY KERRY:  — it would be a mistake to communicate to ISIL —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  — (inaudible) the United States and then all of the world, not to kill – the United States is killing innocent civilians with drones.

CHAIRMAN CORKER:  I would just ask those in the audience – we live in a country where —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) are killing innocent people (inaudible) killing innocent people (inaudible).

CHAIRMAN CORKER:  — people have the opportunity to express themselves in democratic ways.  We would hope that you would allow this hearing to proceed in an orderly way and respect other citizens’ rights to be here and to observe what is happening in a civil manner.  I would say that I don’t think you’re helping your cause at all.  I would say you’re hurting your cause.  And hopefully, you will remain in an appropriate manner.  Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY:  Mr. Chairman, thank you.  The point of the no geographic limitation is not that there are any plans or any contemplation.  I think the President has been so clear on this.  But what a mistake it would be to send a message to Daesh that there are safe havens, that there is somehow just a two-country limitation, so they go off and put their base, and then we go through months and months of deliberation again.  We can’t afford that.  So that’s why there’s no limitation.

And Mr. Chairman, we know that there are groups in the world, affiliated terrorist groups, who aspire to harm the United States, our allies, our partners.  Daesh is, however, very distinctive in that, because it holds territory and it will continue – if not stopped – to seize more, because it has financial resources, because of the debilitating impact of its activities in the broader Middle East, because of its pretentions to worldwide leadership, and because it has already been culpable in the violent deaths of Americans and others.

And I don’t need to preview for this committee the full litany of the outrages that are committed by Daesh, but let me just say that just among them – scratching the surface – are atrocities against Assyrian Christian and Yezidi religious communities; the crucifixion of children; the sale and enslavement of women and girls; the hideous murder of captives from as near as Jordan and as distant as Japan; and the destruction of irreplaceable cultural and historical sites; the plunder and destruction of cities and towns in which followers of Islam worship and raise their families.

Now I testified before this committee just a couple of weeks ago regarding our strategy for disrupting and defeating ISIL.  That strategy continues to move forward on all fronts.  Secretary Carter and General Dempsey will touch on the military elements, but I can say – from a diplomatic perspective – that the world is strongly united in seeking Daesh’s defeat.

Our coalition is receiving help from governments throughout and beyond the Middle East – governments that may disagree on other issues but not about the need to take decisive action against Daesh.  And to date, we have a coalition of some 62 members, including 14 nations that are contributing directly to the operations against Daesh in Iraq or in Syria, 16 of which have committed to help train or otherwise assist Iraqi Security Forces.  Since the coalition came together less than half a year ago, we have stopped ISIL’s surge, we have degraded its leadership, we have forced it to change its communications and its movement and its tactics, and heavily damaged its revenue-generating oil facilities.  And if you have a classified briefing, I think you’ll get a very good grounding in the progress that is being made to date.

We continue to see progress in governance in Iraq, where new leaders are working to strengthen and reform the country’s security forces through the purging of incompetent or corrupt officers and the more extensive inclusion of Sunni fighters.  In Tikrit right now, there are nearly 1,000 Sunni taking part.  There’s a cross-section of engagement.

So Mr. Chairman, just to respond and move rapidly here –

CHAIRMAN CORKER:  We’re not moving that rapidly, actually.

SECRETARY KERRY:  That’s why I’m cutting and – I’m going to cut to the chase.


SECRETARY KERRY:  Responding to the threat posed by ISIL is just not a partisan issue, at least it shouldn’t be.  It’s not even a bipartisan issue.  It’s really a test that transcends political affiliations, and it’s a tremendous challenge to the security of our nation and to the values of our citizens.  And so it’s really the kind of challenge that this committee is here to deal with.  And my hope is that we will live up to the tradition that we have never failed to meet in the past that when we had this kind of challenge, the Congress came together; the Senate particularly, I think, in this format.  And I’m confident that we can do so here again today and in the next few days.

So I’m happy to respond to your questions, but first I’ll turn to Secretary Carter.

# # #

Eighth Anniversary of Disappearance of Robert Levinson


Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release


March 9, 2015

Eighth Anniversary of Disappearance of Robert Levinson

We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us on the investigation into Robert Levinson’s disappearance so we can ensure his safe return.

Mr. Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, eight years ago today.  He has spent more than 2,900 days separated from those who love him, and is one of the longest held U.S. citizens in history.  Year after year, the family has endured the pain of his absence.

It is time for him to come home.

We remain committed to the safe return of Mr. Levinson to his family and appreciate the support and assistance from our international partners.  We remain concerned about Mr. Levinson’s health given his age and the length of his disappearance.

Today, the FBI announced it has increased its reward for information that could lead to Mr. Levinson’s safe return to up to $5 million from $1 million.

We call on anyone with information about this case to contact the FBI.

# # #

The Scholarship Blues

I earned a place for Doctoral studies at some of the most prestigious and competitive universities in the world, but it all goes to waste if I can’t fund my studies. I deferred my place last year because I couldn’t get the funds together or at all for that matter. I figured, I’d take a year and hopefully things will come together.

But no one wants to give me PhD funding because my grades weren’t the best in undergrad  due to my undiagnosed learning disabilities  which influenced my grades in areas like math and science which I had to take for my journalism degree. Math, science and classes like Amish culture were completely irrelevant to my degree, but prerequisites are prerequisites. I’m told that in order to get funding my grades need to be the best of the best, but this doesn’t take into account my mitigating circumstances. Surely had I had the financial opportunity to get diagnosed earlier, I would have gotten the opportunity to learn ways to study and learn what worked for me. But alas, I didn’t have those opportunities and there go my funding chances.

Another reason no one wants to fund me is because my academic papers are not published in peer reviewed journals or academic journals, but every time I try and publish, I get told “we only accept published academics,” or I get told that I need to pay in order to get published. So let me get this right: I need money to publish so I can be a recognized academic so I can get PhD funding, but I can’t publish until I’ve been published and have the money? Maybe things work differently when you are already an established academic, but realistically speaking, how am I supposed to get started out? I was a journalist, but when applying for PhD funding, no one seems to care about journalism publications. Or at least this is what the rejection emails tell me.

Next step was to contact charities with grant applications. A list of charities was provided by my prior university, so I used that as a starting point. These are charities that are known to give student grants. And the response there has been dismal. Charities have been rude, mean, have told me to stop soliciting them, told me I’m not Palestinian enough or Arab enough. They’ve told me I don’t meet residency requirements, I don’t display financial hardship, I can’t provide up-to-date information about my disabilities, my grades aren’t good enough, I’m not involved enough or not Muslim enough. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m too this, I’m too that. I’m not enough of this and not enough of that. One person even told me that it was “illegal” for them to give grants, when I know other students who have for a fact received grants from them. One person even replied saying “We don’t have any money. You probably have more money than our charity does.” Really, Really?! You want to go there. Okay, let’s go there. If you have consistent working plumbing, you have consistent heating in your house, don’t have to choose between  paying your bills or buying food to eat, then trust me– you are way ahead of me.

Or what about the charity that tried to change my entire PhD topic of study, deeming my topic irrelevant and uninteresting. Firstly, I never asked for your advice on my topic of study, I asked for your sponsorship. Secondly, I have advising teams at each university that differ with you. Not only is my topic ever the  more relevant, as it makes headline news regularly, but the top academics in my field believe it to be interesting, important and relevant. Thirdly, you may not know how academia works. For example: I can’t enroll in a music doctoral degree, get there and ask my advising team to support me in studying cryptozoology. Fourthly, you changed my ENTIRE topic. Meaning I would have to reapply all over again with a different proposal. And lastly, by changing every little thing about my topic, you made it your project and no longer mine.

Keep in mind that I am not harassing these people, charities, organizations, entities, etc. I send one email: A grant proposal. A university approved grant proposal.  I don’t call, follow up, knock on their doors. I’m completely calm. And I’m not about to waste my life or time arguing with these ignoramuses.

Next, crowdfunding. Even though I have had limited success with crowdfunding. (By the way, I’m VERY grateful for the money I was able to raise. VERY!) Getting £1000 was not easy and almost impossible. I don’t know many people. The people that I do know don’t have money to spare. I’d even get emails in response to my crowdfunding that told me to give up, it was a waste of time, it’s never going to happen, that I need to not bother people, etc. I put myself out there. I tried. I got burned.

Tried the online scholarship search engines. I spend my life on those search engines. I qualify for nothing. Somehow, I don’t qualify for anything.

Even the Said scholarship set up for Palestinians won’t fund me unless I go to Oxford or Cambridge and even though there’s an academic at Cambridge who said he would take me on, I applied there twice and couldn’t get through the first round because my undergrad grades from 10 years ago in math and science were rubbish. I got rejected by Oxford three times for the same reason. (If you’re really polite, nice, desperate and willing to make contacts, lecturers/professor/staff will secretly tell you why you didn’t get in. Doesn’t work everytime, but you get lucky every so often.)

Bottom line-  no one cares that I have learning difficulties. No one cares that the American education system is different than the British, European and Australian systems. No one cares that my overall undergrad GPA was a 3.12, but my GPA for my major and minor was a 3.67. No one care that my first MA was on a pass/fail basis. No one care that during my 2nd MA I became registered disabled due to some serious problems in my back that can’t be fixed, but only coped with.

No one cares that I went to the 4th most overpopulated high school in my state, or that my high school teachers told me I wouldn’t succeed to my face or that 9/11 happened during my sophomore year or that the devastation of 9/11 turned our sophomore curriculum upside down or that some of my classes didn’t have classrooms, books, set curriculums or that so many times our teachers gave up, walked out of class and stopped teaching, or that there were 50 students in my classroom or that my high school suffered from riots, bomb threats and at least one major fight a day or that I got bullied mercilessly or that all of these problems affected my learning experience.

When I got to my first year of undergrad I had no confidence, I thought I was dumb, I didn’t know how to study, I had never had to sit through a class longer than 40 minutes, I never had to write an assignment longer than two pages, I never had to use citations, I had never done a research paper, I never had to memorize information, I didn’t know I could get tested for learning disabilities, I didn’t know so many things. I spent most of the first two years of undergrad crying because undergrad hit me like a brick. High school in no way prepared me for undergrad and in comparison to the students in my class that had better academic upbringings, I could tell I was behind.  No one cares that I can play a mean game of catch up. But catch up can’t change the past.

I worked my nerves to its ends and got into an Ivy League MA program, where again, I felt I had to play catch up because I was no longer studying journalism and entered into the wonderful world of Liberal Studies. I competed against students who had formal training in studying gender, culture and globalization. It was all new to me. I struggled, a lot. But I’m proud of what I accomplished there. And again I had to play catch up for my second MA as I competed against students who had their first degree is Middle Eastern Studies. Middle Eastern studies was  a topic I read about in my spare time. I never studied it intensely or formally, I dabbled, but everyone else was way ahead of the game. I worked day and night, in spite of my medical difficulties and hardship to reach a level in which I finally felt my peers were finally my intellectual peers. I stumbled, A LOT, but no one gets points for most improved on their transcript. If only their were a module in which there were marks for effort, motivation, time spent, passion, determination and promise. If only I could get graded against myself as opposed to against my classmates. Or get a mark for moving my life across the planet by myself to another country, to a completely different educationally structured system and succeeding.

My motivation and ambition doesn’t count for anything on paper because there will always be someone with a perfect GPA or academic standing that gets ahead of me. These things will never show up on a transcript. And if there is anything I’ve learned it’s that transcripts are more important than letters of purpose.

I can’t provide up-to-date information on my disabilities because I haven’t seen a doctor since being back in America. I signed up for that whole Obamacare business and my application for health insurance keeps getting bounced around from office to office and no one seems to know when I will finally have health insurance or if I ever will. Whenever I ask what I should do if I’m sick, they say go to this and this doctor, but you’ll have to play out of pocket. Yup, can’t do that. I have no money. No income.

That no income part, my loan servicers don’t seem to believe that. Seeing as they are federal loans, you’d think they can check and see if I am employed or not via paying taxes, but maybe that’s asking too much.  I have to pay back $130,000 in student loans starting in March because that is when my deferment period ends. I applied for unemployment deferment, got rejected and told to apply for income based repayment. Yeah, that’s going to be tough to do because there is no income to speak of.

Not because I don’t want an income. I  have been applying for every type of job under the sun since May 2014. Even physical labor jobs which I know will only cause my disability to worsen. And guess what? I still can’t get a job. Signed up with recruitment and temp agencies, LinkedIn profile, Craigslist, Indeed, Simplyhired, Idealist– I get maybe 20 emails a day from different websites listing all these job opportunities. I apply and apply and apply and nothing. When I finally do get the chance at an interview, I set it up, date and time. I’m dressed and ready and pumped and every time they cancel on me with no prior notice.

Even though I have no job and I’m living off of my maxed out credit cards, I still somehow don’t qualify for food stamps, unemployment benefits or any other kinds of benefits. How did I manage that? How? Beats me!

Despite it all, I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. I’m upset, sure. I don’t expect a handout or pity. I’m not going to sit here and toot my own horn about how I’m an amazing human being or list all my good karma points. I’m far from perfect and I’m not entitled to anything in this world. But I want a fair fighting chance. I want more than what’s on paper to count. I want to live and not simply get by, but to really live.

I still remain optimistic that things will work out. I won’t stop trying and neither should you.

Opportunity: Look out, I’m coming for you!

Realistic Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars, how did I get hooked on you? I admit, I can’t give up on a murder mystery. I need to know “who done it.”

A few summers ago, like most summers, I found myself without friends or anywhere to go and so started my Netflix obsession.

I knew going into this whole Pretty Little Liars bit that  it wasn’t going to be the most realistic show. I’ve held it all in for a really long time, but here it goes:

1. How has no one screamed pedophile yet? All these grown men being attracted to 15-16 year old girls. In the real world there would be much more of an uproar and investigations galore.

2. When are the liars going to finally graduate? It’s like Saved By The Bell all over again.

3. I could NEVER dress like that in high school. Some of the things they wear would violate so many dress codes.

4. Speaking of dresses. They’re in Pennsylvania. PENNSYLVANIA. It gets cold there. Really frigidly cold in the winter. Where are their layers? Their scarves and parkas and snowboots. Come on!!!

5. Since when are high school kids allowed to use cell phones so openly in school? Am I getting old or have the times seriously changed that much?

6. How does ‘A’ not work for the CIA? She/He knows everything. EVERYTHING. How?!?!

7. Where are their parents? Their parents never seem to be around? These chicks are dodging bullets, cars, explosions, police, and who knows what else and their parents are clueless. They leave for long periods of time on business trips or wherever knowing that their kids have been targeted in the past. If I were a parent, I would never let that child out of my sight with a psycho killer like ‘A’ on the loose.

8. The plot has become so intertwining and redundant. Change it up. Please. Reveal a massive surprise so I can fool myself into feeling the hours I’ve spent watching this weren’t to waste.

9. With all the stress, how is their hair not falling out? How  have they managed to pass their classes? Do they even attend class anymore?

10. How do the liars have time for all of this? School takes up most of your day, then there are all the clubs and sports or whatever these girls are into. Then there is homework and after school jobs or tutoring.  Where do they get the time to go around playing detective? How do they even have time to shower, sleep or eat?

11. How are these high school kids managing to outwit the police? The police keep falling for it, going with it, or playing dumb. I’m not sure anymore.

12. With all the madness going on in Rosewood, how have they not been swarmed with more cops, FBI, private investigators and whatever else it takes to calm that town down.

13. NO ONE gets an interview with Oxford that easily. Even with connections, there are protocols and applications. Even with an easy in, certain things need to happen paperwork wise before you show up for an interview. Spencer didn’t even know anything about the College system and it seems she has no idea what she wants to study. That doesn’t fly with me.

14. Your sister travels across an ocean to stay with you in your apartment and you leave her with some random flatmate and make no mention of it at all to her?

15. If the Hastings are as loaded as they appear to be, why does Melissa even need a flatmate? She should be able to afford living alone by now.

16. Melissa’s flatmate is a schoolteacher. Have you seen that apartment? No way that dude could afford that flat on a teacher’s salary. Maybe his family is rich too? If so, why doesn’t he live alone either?

17. The flatmate was way over the top. I haven’t been bothered enough to imdb him, but if he is British, his act was way over the top. If he wasn’t British and it was just the scriptwriter who thought up that dialogue, idk. I spent 1.5 years in the UK and haven’t met a person that staunch and irritating. Oh and that Oxford professor interviewer. That conversation was SO annoying, staged and unreal. Please don’t tell me anyone out there fell for it.

18. That vial blood that leaked out of Spencer’s purse- Are you sure it was just one tiny little tube? Because that was a lot of blood. Enough for 10 vials.

19. Radley is a dump. So much so that I imagine there would be some sort of medical ethics committee that would condemn that building.

20. Ashley, you silly goose. You made a regrettable mistake with the DiLaurentis dude, but really, your name is still in the mud after that whole being a murder suspect deal. What responsible mother, knowing her daughter can’t afford college tuition quits her job? I’d imagine she would or should have toughed it out until she found another job.

21. I think they are all crazy suspicious. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone could have been ‘A’ or on the A-team at one point. So let’s arrest them all. The entire town.

22. Hefty Hanna: They really couldn’t get a more realistic fat suit or something? It looks like all they did was stick a pillow under her shirt. They really could have tried a little more than that.

23. If the writers of the show go all LOST on me and end the series by telling me that they are all dead and this is hell or if they are all crazy in Radley imagining this up or worse yet that they are all still in the barn having their sleep over before school starts and this was all a crazy dream— then I’m done.

That being said, I’m still going to watch PLL because I started it and now I have to finish it, no matter how painful and cookoobananas this has all gotten.

Dear Scammers:

Knock Knock- we didn’t answer

2nd time- knock knock, we still don’t answer the door. I’m all warm in bed and my mother didn’t hear the door.

3rd time- knock knock, my mother thinks it might be a delivery she was expecting. She opens the door in hijab and a young man with a bunch of bags over his shoulder looks at my mother, doesn’t greet her, and says “Do you speak English?”

My mother, insulted, stays calm and says, “Yes.”

This fool continues on to say that he’s a JCP&L agent that wants to help us lower our monthly bill. My mother says no. He insists that he wants to see our bill. My mother, trying to get him to leave says that “all our bills are online.”

To which he responds, “I’m not authorized to come into your home. You can print the bill and I will take it.” Who the heck invited you into our home? Did you hear an invitation? I didn’t hear an invitation.

He keeps trying to salvage his scam, going on and on about lowering our monthly bill if only he could see our bill. My mother asks where his nametag is? What his name is and what is his employee reference number? Now, of course, the dude has no answer. My mother says she’s not interested and starts to close the door, but before she closes the door she says, “You asked if I speak English, I just want you to know that I’m a university professor.” This ignorant jerk looks her up and down and laughs saying, “You? You’re a university professor?” He walks away laughing.

My mother picks up the phone and calls JCP&L and asks if they have any agents walking around our area right now for any reason? JCP&L says no. At this point our suspicions have been confirmed, it was all a scam. It was pretty obvious from the way he carried himself, his reactions and the questions he asked. But confirmation is always good.

So Mr. Scammer, a little hint for your next scam: Don’t be a racist, ignorant jerk. Being nice will probably help your little illegal ways. And seeing as you are a black male, I would assume you would know what it feels like to be stereotyped or looked down on. Why would you treat anyone else like that? Should you want a lesson in respect, you can come back. We’ll serve up a cup of tea and talk about the trials our ancestors faced and the trials we face now. I’m sure you have quite a bit to bring to the table. I understand that many people are struggling financially right now, my family is too, however, I do hope you find a more sound way of making ends meet. Despite your rude and unacceptable behavior, we are sending positive vibes your way and would like to remind you that karma forgets no one.

Dear Glasgow Taxi Driver: Invisible Disabilities

Dear Glasgow Taxi Driver:

I took a cab ride in your taxi today and it was by far one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in the U.K. And that is saying a lot.  I am disabled. Registered disabled, shall I clarify. I walk just fine, but I cannot medically or physically lift anything heavy, so let’s say nothing more than 10-15 lbs on a good day. I got in your cab and asked you to help me with my bags and you said that it’s not your job. I told you I was disabled. I have issues in my spine, by some standard a slight visual impairment, nerve damage in my back and shoulders, severe arthritis in my back, as well as a development coordination disorder. Shall I pull out the official records?
You said that you had a bad back too and insisted I put the bags in the car myself. I told you I really physically can’t. If I lift the bags, I will literally herniate multiple discs in my back and be paralysed from the neck down until an ambulance arrives and drugs me up in order to feel my body again. I haven’t even talked about the nerve damage aftershock.
You finally put the bags in the car, but only after you ranted and raved at me for 10 minutes about how ‘it wasn’t your job.’ I couldn’t even get the bags to the street myself and had to have an aid bring them there for me, but unfortunately she couldn’t stay with me. In fact, she left me just seconds before you pulled up. You took me to my destination while yelling at me the entire way about how I don’t “look disabled.” I tried to explain to you my situation and that I can stand and walk, but I am limited in my physical abilities. You weren’t having any of that.
When I got to my hotel, you cursed at me while taking my bags out. I paid you and you stood next to me and asked, “Where are you from, America?” I said, “Yes.” And you said, “Usually when I have American passengers they give me a tip for doing their work for them.” I was stunned, because not only did I pay you, but you gave me my change back at this point, when I didn’t even ask for it back. Besides, why would I tip you for yelling and cursing at me. I never once raised my voice at you or even presented an attitude. I was actually more on the verge of tears and was all shaky-voiced trying to hold it back.
You then got in the cab, rolled down your window and yelled at me while driving away. I couldn’t make out what you were saying, but I doubt it was nice.  You didn’t help me take my bags up the stairs of the hotel door. I had to leave my bags unattended on the curb and go into the hotel to ask for help.
While I was in the taxi I tried to look for some sort of id marker so I could report you directly to your company, however, I am visually incapable of reading black ink on a white or yellow background. Seeing as every piece of information in the cab was written in those colours, I was unable to id you specifically by name.
I have been living in the UK for 1.5 years, never once have I had such a horrible experience in a taxi. Never once have I had to divulge so much about my own personal medical history. You are not a doctor, you can’t diagnose me by looking at me on the street. This was pure, through and through, discrimination against the disabled. You can’t tell who is and isn’t disabled by a glance. Just because I can stand and walk, that doesn’t mean I can run and lift and jump or see.
Had you stuck around after dropping me off, you would have seen that I can’t walk very fast, because my disabilities won’t allow it. Not only that, but with my developmental coordination disorder, I frequently fall over for no reason and can’t control it. I shouldn’t have to apologise for not being in a wheelchair and not “looking disabled.” There are many disabilities in this world, many disabled people in this world and we all don’t look alike.  I also don’t appreciate being cursed at, yelled at, made to feel as though I were guilty of something, or clearly xenophobic/prejudice behaviour this man exhibited today.
Even my friends who aren’t disabled and have had to use taxis have gotten help putting their bags in taxis before. I don’t know where you come off judging, diagnosing, discriminating and treating people like that, but it’s not acceptable. A part of me almost wishes I did attempt to carry that bag and hurt myself, because maybe then you would see how real it is. Maybe then you would understand the gravity of having to call an ambulance because your passenger became paralysed due to your own ignorant behaviour. I don’t care if you are the only taxi driver on the continent, I will never take a taxi with you. I will never subject myself to this nonsense ever again.
You, sir, are not a nice person.

Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

Office of the Press Secretary
July 27, 2014

Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke again today by phone about the situation in Gaza. The President underscored the United States’ strong condemnation of Hamas’ rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. The President also reiterated the United States’ serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities. The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.


Readout of Secretary Kerry’s Call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

Dear Journalists:

Below is a readout of Secretary Kerry’s call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, attributable to a Senior State Department Official.

“During a phone call this afternoon, Secretary Kerry urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to stop the flow of heavy weapons and rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine, and to begin to contribute to deescalating the conflict. He did not accept Foreign Minister Lavrov’s denial that heavy weapons from Russia were contributing to the conflict.

Secretary Kerry provided an update on his meetings in the Middle East and Paris this past week and the ongoing efforts to achieve a ceasefire.”

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