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Month: October 2016

Simone Biles Shares Empowering Message With Foster Kids

Simone Biles Shares Empowering Message With Foster Kids

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Simone Biles wants to ensure “there are no limits” for foster children.

In the Jan. 16 issue of People magazine, the Olympic gold medalist opened up about her early experiences in foster care, and her latest partnership with donation drive program Mattress Firm Foster Kids, which provides contributions to non-profit foster care organizations.

Born to a mother addicted to drugs and alcohol, Biles and her younger sister were adopted by their maternal grandparents when the gymnast was three.

She recalled how hard it was to see other children enter the foster system without basic living necessities. 

“It’s hard going into the system with hardly anything,” she told the magazine. “Because even though foster parents may receive a stipend, sometimes it’s not enough to cover all the necessities.”

For her part, the 19-year-old wants to extend the organization’s mission by providing hope and encouragement to foster care children to pursue their dreams.

“I came from a foster home and went on to achieve everything I’ve achieved,” she said. “I’m just hoping it can inspire other foster kids to never give up and to always pursue your dreams. And to play sports and get good sleep… My message is: ‘There are no limits.’”

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Congressman Wants To Throw Out Campus Rape Rule He Says Is Unfair To The ‘Often-Innocent Accused’

Congressman Wants To Throw Out Campus Rape Rule He Says Is Unfair To The ‘Often-Innocent Accused’

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Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is urging President-elect Donald Trump to repeal certain campus sexual assault guidelines because he believes they deny the “often-innocent accused” their rights. 

Meadows is targeting specific standards championed by Vice President Joe Biden and advanced by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2011.

Under Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities, university investigations into sexual assault must be based on a preponderance of evidence ― unlike in criminal courts, which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Meadows, the incoming House Freedom Caucus chairman, wrote in his report about his targeted rules that “[Title IX procedure] virtually dictates one-size-fits-all procedures which provide less protection to the accused, and deny the often-innocent accused basic due process rights.”

Kristen Houser, the chief public affairs officer for the National Sexual Violence Research Center, said Meadows’ statement ignores decades of research on campus sexual assault.

“The notion that using the standard of preponderance of evidence is somehow not due process is ridiculous,” Houser told The Huffington Post on Friday. “That is the standard that we use for civil court proceedings in this country.”

Research shows that between 2 percent and 10 percent of rape allegations turn out to be false. A 2012 report from the National Sexual Violence Research Center found that rates of false reporting are “frequently inflated” due to “inconsistent definitions and protocols, or a weak understanding of sexual assault.”

Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters

Protesters hold signs to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus at the Stanford University commencement ceremony in Palo Alto, California, June 12, 2016.

“Sexual assault is a common crime with serious far-reaching impact for victims, their families, institutions and entire communities,” Houser said. “We need our elected officials to use this consistent research to enhance safety on campuses and in the communities where they are based.”

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, campus sexual assault poses a “pervasive” threat to many college students. More than 11 percent of all students experience sexual assault, but just 20 percent of female students ages 18 to 24 who experience sexual assault actually report the crime to law enforcement.

Still, Meadows wrote that he believes the Title IX guidelines have “pressured colleges to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and to create vast campus bureaucracies which drain tuition revenue.”

Sofie Karasek, director of education at End Rape on Campus, told USA Today that this claim is “a mischaracterization at best and just plain false at worst.”

“There are certainly many schools that are using their resources to address this problem,” Karasek told USA Today. “They are using resources in order to keep their students safe and ensure they have equal access to education.”

The Title IX protocol is just one of at least 300 rules Meadows is calling on Trump to target during his first 100 days in office.

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Anti-Abortion Governor Ironically Tweets About The Importance Of ‘Choice’

Anti-Abortion Governor Ironically Tweets About The Importance Of ‘Choice’

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Kentucky’s anti-abortion rights governor Matt Bevin inadvertently made a case for abortion rights in a tweet on Wednesday night. 

His tweet, lauding “freedom of choice,” is certainly ironic considering how little choice he thinks women should have over their own reproductive health care ― and women on Twitter were quick to notice the irony.  

His tweet was also perfectly timed. On Thursday afternoon, supporters of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU protested at the state Capitol in Frankfort, with some protestors holding a large printout of Gov. Bevin’s tweet right outside his office.

Peaceful assembly and freedom of choice? Looks pretty American to us. 

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These 25 Wedding Photos Are In A League Of Their Own

These 25 Wedding Photos Are In A League Of Their Own

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These pictures are not your average wedding photos

They received nearly 9,000 submissions from photographers in 50 different countries. 

“What makes me so proud of this year’s collection is that you can feel the emotions of a wedding day through these 50 images. It’s a powerfully emotive experience,” editor-in-chief Carrie Schwab said in a press release.

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A Whisky for Every Budget: 8 Single Malt Scotches to Know and Love

A Whisky for Every Budget: 8 Single Malt Scotches to Know and Love

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

A few decades ago, when single malts were few and serious whisky nerds were even fewer, it used to be so simple: You could waltz into a liquor store, scan the small selection of bottles in the Scotch section, pick the fanciest-looking one you could afford, and be done with your holiday booze shopping. Today, however, it can seem like you need a PhD in Scottish terroir and distilling techniques to be able to pick out the right whiskies for the right people. What to do if you don’t know your Speyside from your elbow, or if you think “peated malt” might as well be the name of a midfielder on a Scottish soccer team? Well, you read this gift guide, for starters. Here, you’ll find single malts that are far enough off the beaten path for the hipsters, but accessible enough for newbies who are just starting to fill up their liquor cabinets. You’ll find plenty of styles, from fruity to peaty, and even one that’s a tad sulfuric. And you’ll find a price range to suit almost every wallet—from downright affordable to crazy-expensive. But no matter what you’re spending, you can rest assured that every one of these whiskies will deliver on quality.

These eight selections are, of course, just the tip of the whisky iceberg. Hopefully this list will pique your interest enough to put a little ice in your rocks glass and encourage you to dive in deeper.

$40 and Under: Auchentoshan American Oak

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A great gift for the whisky novice—easy to drink, affordable, and sufficiently obscure to make you look like you’re quite the single malt expert. Auchentoshan hails from the Scottish Lowlands, a region known for its soft, gentle whiskies. Unlike the vast majority of Scotches, which are distilled twice, it’s also one of the only single malts to be triple-distilled, in the style of Irish whiskey. In this case, the extra distillation smooths out some of the rough edges, without sacrificing a lot of flavor.

As the name suggests, it’s aged entirely in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, which imparts a hefty dose of vanilla flavor. Bright orange and lemon also pop up, along with just a hint of coconut. The finish is short and sweet, with cloves and cinnamon up front and more citrus as a supporting player. It’s not the most challenging single malt, but it’s a great everyday dram.

Find Auchentoshan American Oak online here »

$40–60: Craigellachie 13 Year Old

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Craigellachie was, for a long time, one of Scotch whisky’s best-kept secrets, having been used almost exclusively in blended whiskies since its introduction in the 1890s. (Dewar’s owns the brand and the distillery.) In 2014, however, the brand had its coming-out party with this stand-alone bottling, and it was well worth the wait.

Craigellachie (pronounced “cra-GELL-ah-kee”) is one of the only distilleries that cook, or malt, their barley over an oil-fueled fire, rather than peat- or gas-fueled fire or steam. The oil imparts a funky, slightly sulfuric flavor to the whisky, which may sound weird, but it tastes delicious. That funk adds another dimension to what’s otherwise a classic Speyside malt, redolent of pears, vanilla, a little candied orange, and the burnt caramel atop a crème brûlée. The sweetness recedes on the finish as a woody dryness sweeps in, leaving just a bit of char on the tongue. It’s a great gift for a fan who already has a foot in the single malt door and is looking for something different and distinctive.

Find Craigellachie 13 Year Old online here »

$60–80: Bruichladdich “Wee Laddie” Gift Pack

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“Brook Laddie,” as the brand name is pronounced, is the most iconoclastic of the distilleries on Islay, the region of Scotland known for its peaty, smoky whiskies. Its Octomore whisky is the peatiest ever produced if you go by chemical analysis, and it’s not even close. But Bruichladdich also makes unpeated malts, like its Black Art whisky, whose origins are a complete mystery to everyone but the man who blended it. Hell, the distillery even makes gin.

So how do you decide which Laddie to get for your favorite single malt fan? Here’s a cheat of sorts—three 200-milliliter bottles (a full-size bottle of booze is 750 milliliters) sold as a set, allowing you to get an idea of Bruichladdich’s range. “The Classic Laddie” is its signature dram, a scrumptious unpeated malt that delivers light vanilla, crisp apple, and tart citrus layered atop the sweet nuttiness of barley. It’s so smooth and easy to drink, it’s easy to forget that it’s 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). Meanwhile, “The Islay Barley” uses barley actually grown on the island—something few other Islay distilleries can claim. The barley really does give a sense of terroir, infusing the whisky with the salty brininess of the Islay coast beneath layers of, oddly enough, tropical fruits, like melon, pineapple, and grapefruit. The warm, gentle finish practically calls out for another sip. And finally, for peat fans, there’s “Port Charlotte Heavily Peated,” a big whisky that’s more than just a campfire in your mouth. Wafting in with the smoke are licorice, honey, red apple, and vanilla. Repeat sips will uncover a dry, peppery spice that registers at mid-palate and lends a nice kick to the finish. Perfect for the budding whisky sophisticate…and the indecisive gift giver.

Find the Bruichladdich “Wee Laddie” Gift Pack online here »

$80–100: The Macallan Edition No. 2

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The Macallan 18 Year Old is a classic whisky, a symbol of sophistication, class, and quality. It’s been a go-to holiday gift for ages, which means that if the whisky lover in your life doesn’t already have a bottle or two from seasons past, they’ll probably receive one from someone else this time around. Instead, give this new, limited-edition beauty a try. It was created by Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan’s master whisky-maker, in collaboration with the three Roca brothers (owners and operators of El Celler de Can Roca, the Catalonian restaurant that’s twice been hailed as the best in the world on the Diner’s Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants list). Dalgarno and the brothers each selected ex-sherry casks to finish the whisky based on their size, the type of sherry aged in the casks, and how many times each cask had been used. Each one imparted a different flavor to the final product. The sherry, of course, brings nuts and raisins to the mix, but it’s softer and lighter than a typical Macallan, with vanilla, honey, and orange zest rounding out the flavor profile. It’s a delicious alternative to the old Macallan standbys, and it’s cheaper, too.

Find The Macallan Edition No. 2 online here »

$100–150: The Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood

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The Balvenie and its malt master, David Stewart, are almost synonymous in whisky circles. Stewart has been working with The Balvenie since 1962, before single malt whiskies were even a thing. (Glenfiddich, on which Stewart also worked, was the first non-blended whisky released in the US, back in 1963.)

Today, traditional aging of Scotch whisky in American ex-bourbon oak barrels is often followed by maturing them further, or finishing them, in a barrel that’s contained a different spirit, often sherry. But it was Stewart who started the practice, back in the 1980s—he’s known as the founding father of double-matured whiskies. His signature malt is the Balvenie DoubleWood, aged 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then dunked for a few months in ex-sherry casks.

A few years ago, Stewart decided to release an expression that’s spent five years longer in the ex-bourbon barrels, and it makes a huge difference. This is a beauty of a whisky, with The Balvenie’s signature sweet vanilla and honeyed flavor made deeper and richer by the extra time in oak. The sherry adds hints of ripe peach and dried fruit. Baking spices and cinnamon are present throughout, and a gentle heat coats the tongue on the long, smooth finish. It’s a flawless whisky from a master of the craft. Anyone who knows whisky will be thrilled to get it; anyone who doesn’t know it will be thrilled on the first sip.

Find The Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood online here »

$150–200: Ledaig 1996

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Ledaig hails from the Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull—names that will be unfamiliar to all but the most dyed-in-the-wool whiskyphiles. And that’s part of what makes it such a perfect gift for your favorite imbiber. But, aside from its under-the-radar status, it’s also a delicious whisky.

Aged for 19 years, part of that time in oloroso sherry casks, this is a peated whisky, but it doesn’t resemble the better-known peated Islay malts, like Lagavulin or Laphroaig. Where Islay malts have a somewhat ashy, mineral flavor, the peat in Ledaig ’96 manifests itself as crisp, slightly overcooked bacon just out of the pan: meaty and salty, with a little bit of char. The sherry influence isn’t pronounced, but it does impart hints of raisin, dried apricot, and hazelnut. It has a long, spicy finish, with more of those crispy bacon notes lingering on the tongue. Sounds like a delicious breakfast, doesn’t it? It may well be a good eye-opener, though we recommend consuming it later in the day.

Find Ledaig 1996 online here »

$200–300: The Dalmore King Alexander III

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Feeling intimidated about buying a bottle for your favorite single malt know-it-all? Worried you’re just going to wind up with the same old, same old? Fear not, because there’s no other whisky out there quite like this. Richard Paterson, The Dalmore’s master distiller and resident mad scientist, blended King Alexander III from whiskies aged in six different kinds of casks: American ex-bourbon barrels, Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques, sherry butts, port pipes, Marsala barrels, and Madeira drums (did you know there were so many synonyms for “barrel”?).

Each cask contributes something different to the bottle’s flavor profile, but since five out of the six casks used to contain wine, you’d be correct in guessing that this is a fruit-forward whisky. And gloriously so—it coats the mouth with rich, jammy fruits, like plum, apple, blackberry, and apricot, with a supporting cast of wintry spices, like clove and cinnamon. The combination of the spices with the port and Cabernet Sauvignon creates a warming feeling in the chest, reminiscent of what you get from a hot spiced wine, perfect for the long winter ahead. It’s a relatively low 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume), while most single malts come in at 86 proof at least. A little more alcohol often enhances the flavors of a whisky, but King Alexander III doesn’t need any additional enhancing—this is a big, flavorful, one-of-a-kind malt.

Find The Dalmore King Alexander III online here »

$300 and Up: Ardbeg Twenty One

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From our vantage point, in the middle of a long and historic boom for whisky in general and single malts in particular, it’s easy to forget how different the situation was a mere 20 years ago. Vodka and light rums ruled the market, totally overshadowing whisky. Scottish distilleries were closing, or operating at a small percentage of capacity. That included Ardbeg, the venerable Islay distillery, which nearly closed several times during the ’80s and ’90s. Fortunately, the brand got back on its feet toward the end of the millennium, and today it’s perhaps the most beloved of all Islay whiskies, with a fiercely loyal fan base known as the Ardbeg Committee.

Ardbeg Twenty One was distilled during the brand’s dark ages, in 1993–94, when there was some question about whether it would even continue to exist. Tasting it with the benefit of hindsight makes it clear that Ardbeg’s problems had nothing to do with its whisky. Aged entirely in ex-bourbon barrels, this is sensational stuff. It’s a little lighter on the peat and smoke than the distillery’s current expressions, with a veritable fruit salad underneath—melon, red apple, lime, hints of pineapple and coconut. The long finish is dry, reminiscent of a strong tea. It’s beautifully balanced, complex…and expensive, to be sure. But you’re not buying just a first-rate whisky; you’re buying a bit of single malt history. Which is why both the liquid and its provenance will delight the whisky lover on your gift list.

Find Ardbeg Twenty One online here »

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Be a Manifestor–Reach Goals and Make Dreams Happen in 2017

Be a Manifestor–Reach Goals and Make Dreams Happen in 2017

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Be a Manifestor–Reach Goals and Make Dreams Happen in 2017
by Debbie Lyn Toomey

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Happy last week of 2016!

I hope this year was a good one for you. Looking back at what I did and who I met this year, I can honestly say it was one of the best years of my life. Last year, I made an intention of making 2016 a year of growth and excitement and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

This year started with a dream come true of taking my whole family, including my parents, back to my homeland of the Philippines and ended the year with publishing not one but two books. What happened between January and December was a series of successes that I could not have done had I not taken the time to declare what I wanted in the beginning of the year. This year I traveled not only across the country but also across the globe. I challenged my speaking skills and competed (and won) in competitions. I silenced my internal critic for not being a good writer and published two books. Lastly, I strengthened my relationships by letting go of ones I’ve outgrown and embracing new ones that came into my life. I was able to do all of these things because of the goals and dreams that I had set for myself. They all started with an intention.

The first step to reach any goal lies in the intention. Intentions are the keys that get the vehicle started towards manifestation of the goals. If you know where you want to go, you will most likely avoid getting (and feeling) lost in life. Your intentions will lead you to your goals faster and allow you to enjoy not only the end destination but also the journey along the way.

The Answer is In the Question

The best way to determine your intentions is by asking yourself questions. As I’ve mentioned in my new journal, The Happiness Result- Goals, Gratitude, & Success Journal, “the answer is in the question.” Asking the right question will get you the right answer. Start asking yourself what will make your heart sing in 2017. Keep asking yourself what is it you truly want. The more you keep asking, the more you will pinpoint what you really want. Once you know what you want, then you can implement steps to achieve it. Try not to be afraid of failure. I believe that failure is “not doing” anything about what you want. Though the road towards any dream can have its twists and turns, trust that what you gain in the journey is integral to making dreams happen.

Many studies have found that having an intention is more effective in goal setting than having motivation. While motivations and willpower can help in reaching a goal, experts have found that motivation relies on changeable behavior based on how the person is feeling that day. Intentions on the other hand, provide a plan for people to implement; even when they don’t have the motivation that day.

“Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.”
–Heidi Grant Halvorson, Columbia University professor

Here are 4 steps to help you get started on how to become a manifestor, reach new goals and make your dreams come true in 2017.

1. Schedule – Set aside 10 minutes each day for seven days for this activity. Consider this as important as any job or activity that is worth adding to your calendar.

2. Sanctuary – Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. This sacred space will help you tune into your still small voice from within.

3. Success – Ask yourself what would make your heart sing in 2017. Don’t be afraid to dream big.

4. Support – Take inventory of your support systems that will help you. If you don’t have any support, enlist the help of a coach to help you.

These steps will get you started in the right direction towards creating your heart’s desire. Take time to do each step. Just know that it takes courage to declare what you want in life, and it also takes perseverance to reach you goals. Take your time and trust yourself.

If you need concrete tools to help you stay on track of manifesting your goals, get my new journal, The Happiness Result- Goals, Gratitude, & Success Journal. For Manifesting Goals, Giving Thanks, and Celebrating Your Success Along the Way. If one-to-one coaching sounds like a fit for you, visit www.HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com to find out how we can work together.

May you have all the happiness and success that you are looking for.

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35 Wonderfully Candid Photos Of The Duchess Of Cambridge For Her 35th Birthday

35 Wonderfully Candid Photos Of The Duchess Of Cambridge For Her 35th Birthday

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Our favorite duchess moments, however, come when she isn’t necessarily posing for the cameras ― playing sports, looking adoringly at Prince William ― you get the point. 

In honor of our favorite royal’s 35th birthday on January 9, check out these 35 photos of Kate looking, well, totally normal and adorably candid. 

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    Michelle Williams And Busy Philipps Are The Ultimate Red Carpet BFFs

    Michelle Williams And Busy Philipps Are The Ultimate Red Carpet BFFs

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    What’s better than walking in front of flashing cameras on a red carpet? Doing it with your best bud by your side.

    On Sunday night, Michelle Williams hit the Golden Globes with actress and friend Busy Philipps. The two friends have graced many an award show and movie premiere together, and seeing them again warms our cold, cold hearts. Williams is nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture for her turn in the gripping “Manchester by the Sea.” “Manchester” is up for five awards total, including Best Motion Picture, Drama. 

    She and BFF Philipps showed up on the Globes carpet looking great. Philipps donned a long-sleeved black dress with floral embroidery, and Williams chose a white, floor-length lace gown, accessorized with a trendy choker.

    Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

    Philipps and Williams starred on “Dawson’s Creek” together toward the end of the teen show’s run from 1998 to 2003, and it’s clear they struck up a friendship to last a lifetime. 

    At a recent New York screening, Williams told People that Philipps — who was there with the actress — was her “best friend.”

    “She’s proof that the love of your life does not have to be a man! That’s the love of my life right there,” Williams said.

    Just two weeks ago, Philipps shared an amazing throwback photo of the two on Instagram.

    Let’s look back at some of the BFFs memorable red carpet moments:

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    Chef Sues Dude Ranch Owner Who He Says Asked For ‘Black People Food’

    Chef Sues Dude Ranch Owner Who He Says Asked For ‘Black People Food’

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    Chef Armand Appling claims his former boss Madeleine Pickens asked him to make “black people food” in a lawsuit accusing the luxury resort owner of racial discrimination.

    The African-American cook says he was fired in 2014 for complaining about a hostile work environment after witnessing numerous discriminatory incidents at his workplace. He filed the federal lawsuit against Pickens, who is white, in February.

    Appling claims Pickens instructed him not to cook “white people food,” allegedly saying guests of the Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort, her high-end dude ranch in northeastern Nevada, would rather eat fried chicken, barbecue ribs and corn bread, The Associated Press reported.

    Pickens, 69, is a philanthropist and the ex-wife of Oklahoma billionaire energy investor T. Boone Pickens. She is the founder and CEO of Mustang Monument, a “luxury American safari” that encompasses 900 square miles just outside the Ruby Mountains, according to its website. Accommodations include luxury “tipis” and “safari cottages” that exceed $1,650 a night.

    Be one with #nature.

    A photo posted by Mustang Monument (@mustangmonument) on

    Appling says Pickens used words like “ox” and “bull” to describe one black kitchen worker and complained about another for “having too much personality.”

    The former staffer alleges Pickens told him to fire the pair because they “didn’t fit the image” of her eco-resort and contrasted with the look of employees at her Southern California country club.

    Willie Williams, Appling’s attorney, argued that these types of statements have historically been used to discriminate against black people, according to court filings reported by the AP. He said terms like “ox” and “bull” imply property ownership, given “America’s long history of slavery where they were considered personal property of their owners.”

    “We absolutely deny Mr. Appling’s allegations,” Dora Lane, Pickens’ attorney, told The Huffington Post on Monday.

    Lane wrote in earlier court documents that even if the allegations against her client were true, Pickens’ comments would simply “reflect a non-racial personality conflict and amount to discourtesy, rudeness or lack of sensitivity.”

    U.S. District Judge Miranda Wu granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit at a hearing last week in Reno, saying Appling’s legal representation so far failed to provide enough evidence proving racial hostility was a factor in his termination.

    The judge is allowing Appling to refile an amended complaint against Pickens’ nonprofit, Save America’s Mustangs, by Jan. 13.

    Lane told HuffPost she expects her client to be “vindicated” in court, but wouldn’t comment any further on the case.

    Williams did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

    Though Pickens will continue to battle the discrimination allegations in 2017, she appears to be optimistic about what the new year has in store.

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    Carrie Fisher’s Best Quotes About Appearing In ‘Star Wars’

    Carrie Fisher’s Best Quotes About Appearing In ‘Star Wars’

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    It is hard to tell what was more entertaining: Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films, or her hilarious quotes about being involved in the iconic film series.

    Fisher, who died on Tuesday, had no problem speaking her mind about what it was like working on “Star Wars.” Here are some of her most insightful and hilarious quotes. 

    highly-regarded script doctor who made uncredited contributions to films like “Hook,” “Sister Act,” “Lethal Weapon 3” and “The Wedding Singer,” according to TheMarySue.com. 

    Last April, Fisher told fans at the Tribeca Film Festival that she was inspired to become a screenwriter because of one line in “A New Hope,” that she absolutely hated, according to UpRoxx.com.

    The line: “I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit.”

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