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Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of “The Wire.” Email: ryanfan17@gmail.com. Support me: ko-fi.com/ryanfan

Inside the darkness of NXIVM, Keith Raniere’s sex trafficking cult

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From the US Government, Eastern District of NY — Public Domain

NXIVM had personal development seminars that claimed to enlighten people and make them happy. People claimed attending the seminars cured them of their smoking habit or fear of public speaking. The organization had Hollywood celebrities, children of heads of states, and business leaders adding to its credibility. Many saw its leader as a god.

However, in early 2018, NXIVM’s house of cards collapsed. …


Stop seeing teachers as miracle workers responsible for healing societal ills

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From Photodeti on Dreamstime

I feel like collapsing at 3 p.m. every single day. I’m just finished with my last class, and then there’s just way too much to do. I have to call parents, grade papers, write IEPs, put in progress reports, document everything, and just do a ton of work I’ll never catch up on. It wasn’t that I was working for a long time, but the mental and emotional investment I put into my job as a special ed teacher is just exhausting.

There’s tired, and then there’s teacher tired.

I’ve worked plenty of jobs before, including more physically intensive jobs like supervising a gym or working as a picker at an Amazon warehouse. None of those jobs are as emotionally exhausting as teaching, where you feel like a zombie at the end of every single day, with a strong need to sleep or just sit on the couch, incapable of doing anything for hours. …


A child pornography scandal gave him 15 and a half years in prison

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From Late1 at Wikipedia Commons

When I was a kid, I remember Jared from Subway, who, in commercials, claimed he lost over 200 pounds just by eating Subway sandwiches and constantly presented before and after photos of his progress. He even showed his jeans of when he weighed more than 400 pounds as a comparison to his then much slimmer weight.

While my brother and I knew that you do much more than eat Subway sandwiches to lose 200 pounds, the effects still stuck with us — Subway became our go-to “healthy” fast-food restaurant. …


One fake serial killer mattered more than the lives of over 300 murdered victims

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Dominic West — From Ian Smith on Wikipedia Commons

He preys on the homeless. He kills dozens of homeless people across the city but bites them before he kills them. Then, he ties a red ribbon on their wrist as his modus operandi. He calls journalists and sends them pictures of homeless people he’s about to kill.

He’s a serial killer.
The good thing is he’s not real.

The premise is based on The Wire and the plot of the show’s final season. Two characters in the show, homicide detectives, decide to fabricate a serial killer. One of them, James McNulty, is a self-righteous, womanizing, alcoholic detective who is so obsessive over the job he would do anything to catch his target. …


It’s not time to start over and flip a new chapter yet

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Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Writing is harder than ever for me right now. And that’s not due to stress, obligations, busy-ness, or a even pandemic — it’s due to the state of my computer. Right now, about every fifth time I hit the “t” button on my keyboard, it comes off and I have to put the cover back on. The “o” button is getting very loose as well, and I just texted about five friends asking if they have any Krazy-glue or Gorilla-glue for me to keep my keys in place.

Needless to say, it makes writing very difficult because sometimes, my “t’s” don’t type. Other times, I type too many “t’s.” The keyboard is just one of many problems for the laptop. There’s a water stain on the lower right corner. I have almost no storage. The battery life doesn’t last as long as it used to. It’s slow. …


“What do we do with a hero who has done something less than heroic?” Wiesel asked.

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From Claude TRUONG-NGOC on Wikipedia Commons

In 2009, I was in the 7th grade, and I had a music teacher first period who was a little…Republican. We were interrupted by a morning announcement to congratulate President Barack Obama on winning the Nobel Peace Prize. There was applause heard around the main office, and most of us nodded in agreement.

My music teacher, however, snapped. He went on a rant over how we were not at peace, how Obama was only in office for nine months, how we were still at war in Afghanistan. …


Giving up perfection stopped me from giving up my challenge

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From madsmith33 at Pixabay

I wanted to run in the middle of the night in a new city, after eating dinner. It was December 30, 2020, in Nashville. My girlfriend and I were spending our holiday vacation there, after going to Alabama to visit her parents.

I didn’t wake up early enough to run. It was late at night, and I decided to take the day off.

For context, I’ve been doing the One Punch Man challenge, which is running 10k a day, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats. I’m supposed to do it for 100 days. It sounds extreme, but I’m 74 days through the challenge, and I still consider it successful. The run is the most time-consuming part of every day and often is the most difficult. …


SATIRE

99.9% of students failing classes will suddenly pass them the moment school reopens

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Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

With the highly polarized debate around school reopening still ongoing, researchers at How to Fix American Education have found a miraculous discovery: reopening schools will dramatically solve all of education’s problems, including government funding, bad attendance, school discipline, lackluster test scores, smaller class sizes, and even teacher salaries and retention.

While teachers, administrators, parents, and students have been trying to fix all these problems for the entirety of the American experiment, it turns out all that needs to be done is for schools to reopen. …


Sometimes, perpetrators of abuse are also brainwashed

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Allison Mack — from greg2600 on Flickr

Keith Raniere, the leader of the NXIVM cult, was sentenced to 120 years in prison this past year for two counts of sex trafficking, racketeering, forced labor conspiracy, attempted sex trafficking, wire fraud conspiracy, and racketeering conspiracy. His organization branded women with his initials. He manipulated many women into having sex with him. However, an uncomfortable fact was that Keith Raniere didn’t do it alone.

Five other people were charged by the Eastern District of New York District Attorney: Clare Bronfman, Allison Mack, Kathy Russell, Nancy Salzman, and Lauren Salzman. These women were said to engage in some of the more horrific acts associated with the cult, including branding women with the initials of Allison Mack and Keith Raniere. Clare Bronfman was known as the legal enforcer of NXIVM, pursuing legal action against anyone who dared criticize Raniere and the group. …


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Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s been a long, hopeful week, and we want to shout out some of our best work from last week. We had some very vulnerable and informative pieces, as always, so here were 10 of our best. All pieces were curated:

“The Mistake That Brought Back My Depression”Benya Clark

“This past month has served as a reminder of just how important exercise is for my mental health. After years of running, it’s easy to start taking it for granted. The truth is that exercise is an instrumental tool in keeping my depression under control. I’ll never forget that again.”

“What A Flashback Feels Like As a Survivor of Sexual Abuse”Kala Farnham

“The truth is this isn’t goodbye, because the little girl and I are inseparable. I am the essence of her manifested in womanhood, I am the fruition of the child I was borne out of. We are tied forever by a soul-bond — wherever I go, she follows — and today, I’m coming home to the time and place I belong to. Today, my home is a world where touch is a language of intimacy, not exploitation, and where those whom I’ve put my trust in are safe. Today, I’m stepping off the runaway train, and I figure it’s only a matter of time before the little girl passes through the portal with me. And when she does, whenever she’s ready, I intend to do everything in my power to show her a world where healing is possible and kindness reigns.” …

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