A Modern Pop All-Star Team Just Released a Single for Michelle Obama

Missy Elliott, Zendaya, Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, and Chloe x Halle came together to support the first lady’s Let Girls Learn campaign.

As Michelle Obama prepares for life beyond the White House, she’s combining her passion for advocating on behalf of young women with her passion for getting that body moving.

In an effort to support the first lady’s Let Girls Learn campaign, a squad of female recording artists recently came together to record the song “This Is for My Girls.” It was written by Diane Warren and features a lineup that should appeal to about 30 years’ worth of music fans, including Missy Elliott, Zendaya, Kelly Clarkson, Kelly Rowland, Janelle Monáe, Lea Michele, Chloe x Halle, and Jadagrace. (If you’re listening for Michelle’s voice, though, you won’t find it. But hey, we all know she’s more of a dancer than a vocalist anyway, so we’re not too mad.)

If you’ve rocked out to a pop earworm from Fifth Harmony, Little Mix, or middle-period Destiny’s Child, you should really dig “This Is for My Girls.” It’s got jubilant horns, crystalline voices over big, glossy beats, and inspirational lyrics like “Don’t forget it’s all about respect, nothing else will do.” What’s not to like?

The single was released as a sort of long intro to Michelle Obama’s keynote address at SXSW on Wednesday, where she was joined by Warren, Elliott, and the actress Sophia Bush. Queen Latifah moderated the Q&A panel that followed. Cosponsored by Michelle and Barack Obama, Let Girls Learn is an initiative that aims to help more than 60 million adolescent girls around the world access education. All proceeds from “This Is for My Girls” will go toward the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund.

As far as implementation goes, the boots on the ground for Let Girls Learn will be Peace Corps volunteers, working within communities and developing pathways for young women to get into and stay in school. The program works with local leaders to dismantle barriers to education access, in the hope of building sustainable community policies that become part of the culture. (Making people stakeholders in their own futures tends to work better than just walking in and telling people what to do.) The first 11 countries to see the initiative roll out will be Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda.

So if you’re not going to volunteer for the Peace Corps, but still support efforts to ensure that young girls have access to an education, go to iTunes and spend your snack money on the new jam. Then dance like Michelle Obama is watching.

via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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The Planet
Julian Meehan

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Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

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Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

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Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

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