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Paris Climate Deal

Yesterday, Saturday, September 12, 2015, many hope will mark the beginning of a great change in the world and leave a mark in histo...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nickel and Dimed Part 1

What does it mean to be poor?

Well, it depends on who you ask, when, and where. The most basic and widely accepted definition of poverty, sounds similar to: when the income of an individual or family cannot meet reach the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs (i.e. food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.). Even this definition is influenced by who you are, where you live, and at what point in time you are living. For example, depending on where you live, the prices of shelter and food may be higher than average, therefore increasing the threshold for poverty.

When people who aren't generally exposed to "poor people", are asked to imagine what a "poor person" would look like, they will generally tend to imagine someone who is homeless, jobless, and a beggar. However, as Barbara Ehrenreich found out first hand, this is often not the case. Many people who both by the government's and purely economic definition of poor are in an entirely separate class of society, the "working poor". "After all, almost 30 percent of the workforce toils for $8 an hour or less" in that same year of this study, "It took... an hourly wage of $8.89 to afford a one-bedroom apartment" (3). So, next time you imagine that you imagine "poor people", please, keep these statistics in mind before you judge their position based on their wealth.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Conformity Among States and Nations

Pictured second from the left, Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, welcomes Syrian refugees and hands out winter coats.

Over the past months, many questions have been raised about Syrian refugees entering other counties after many reports have found that terrorists have entered their target countries disguised as refugees. Such questions and fear that has been raised with them has led to even tighter restrictions on who can enter the US as a "refugee". For example, in addition to U.N. background checks; U.S. background checks; multiple interviews; and a special vetting process for Syrian refugees, congress recently passed a bill that requires every single refugee to enter the U.S. to have the signatures of the Secretary of Homeland Security, FBI Director, and National Intelligence Director. Not only has congress made it nearly impossible for anybody fleeing their home country to find asylum in the U.S., but state governors have also made their beliefs quite public. Many of the state governors have made the promise that they will not allow any refugee into their state, a power they do not have. Donald Trump has also tagged along in this trend stating that he will ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., if he is to be president.

Amid all of these shocking comments and new regulation, our neighbors to the North have something else to say. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refuses to conform to what many other politicians say, "Is the only way to be safe". This past Friday, Trudeau welcomed a plane load of Syrian Refugees into Canada, saying, "You're safe at home now,"while many Americans are running to their local gun stores, Canada is giving these people a home. Trudeau further says, "Tonight they step off this plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada," according to the New York Times.

As we have seen also seen this weekend, conformity can do great things, it can bring broken nations together, it can also lead to the first, all nations included, U.N. climate resolution. Yet, at the same time, nonconformity can show the true light of the good-hearted.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lynwood Police Shooting

This morning, at around 11:00 A.M. Pacific time, Lynwood Police shot a supposedly armed black man, outside of a gas station. Protesters already have begun marching and demanding a third party investigation of the incident, as well as a review by the Department of Justice. Nowadays, people are very quick to protest or really make any sort of noise to try and taint the image of the police. Now, the people's anger in not unfounded, police brutality and bias has been proven over and over again, however they now seem to be quick to make judgement. 

The police claimed that the man was armed and was being reckless with his gun in public, even discharging it earlier in the day. For the first time in a while, for a police shooting that has made national news, the police are able back up their claims with video and eyewitness'. A phone call to the police earlier that day said that this same man was firing his weapon reckless in public, and when the police arrived on the scene he was waving it around with many bystanders near him. Yet, many people still came out today waving their signs and screaming through a megaphone, protesting the incident. Seemingly without even looking at the footage, or the provided evidence. While I can understand anger over recent police shootings, I think you should probably look at the evidence before making your claim.

The L.A. Times provide two different video sources of the incident in their article, here.

Paris Climate Deal

Image result for paris climate deal

Yesterday, Saturday, September 12, 2015, many hope will mark the beginning of a great change in the world and leave a mark in history books. As we all should know, yesterday was when over 190 countries, in fact all 196 (although the US State Department only recognises 194) countries agreed to the landmark UN climate deal. In short, the climate deal raises money for developing countries to have access to clean energy; gradually wanes developed countries to more clean energy; and limits the global temperature rise 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels by the year 2020. While deal was surprisingly ambitious in its goals, many still raise concerns.

One of the largest concerns with the deal, just like any other UN resolution, is how are we and other countries going to ensure that everyone else complies.  All of the news and in many interviews officials give a simple answer with little meaning, that the deal is "Legally binding". While this may be true, who is going to oversee a that countries are complying? And more importantly, who is going to enforce the new standards if they don't? No country can sue another country and I don't believe anyone is willing to go to war over this, so there really isn't any way of making sure anybody follows through on their word.

Here is a link to  The Guardian's report of the deal.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Deaths by Malnourishment, or Lack thereof

This Thanksgiving weekend, an estimated 46 million turkeys were consumed by Americans on thursday alone, adding up to about 340 million pounds of turkey being ingested (according to the University of Illinois. With this in mind, I figured I would talk about world heath issues, specifically relating food. Now, when most people (or at least myself) think of global deaths because issues relating to food, they tend to imagine malnourishment and starvation in third world countries. However, a semi-recent study on the issue may reverse this popular belief.

According to the Global Burden of Disease published in The Lancet, overeating and obesity now pose a more significant threat to all populus worldwide, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, then malnourishment and starvation. The study self proclaimed as "the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors" is critically acclaimed by large health activists, including the WHO. While the numbers of those who have died due to malnourishment are not disputed, the number of deaths that can be directly linked to overeating are; with upper estimates placing the deaths from overeating to malnourishment at 3:1.

Now, for me, personally, these statistics were astonishing. To further fuel this astonishment, the Global Burden of Disease (in the same study, but a different article) also points out while life expectancy steadily increases, so does the the amount of time people spend either sick or injured. 

The GBD also does us the service of visualizing most all health problems affecting the the world, where you can adjust the variables and see the information first hand, the links are here and here.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Effectiveness of Capital Punishment

Every now and again, we hear on the news of another case brought to some superior court on whether or not capital punishment is allowable in a particular circumstance. The courts seem to be very divided and often previous decisions that declared the death penalty, either constitutional or not, are overturned. Since the constitutionality of capital punishment seems to be unknown, a good place to start would be to see how effective it is.

Looking into a few different studies, what was uncovered is astonishing. “88% of the nation’s leading criminologists do not believe the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime,” says a study by professors Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock at the University of Colorado. The study further finds that, “Nearly 78% of those surveyed [criminologists] said that having the death penalty in a state does not lower the murder rate.” While the statistics are shocking, it doesn't really come as surprise if you think about it; how often do you think that criminals are worried they may be killed for their actions? Probably not all that often.

What you choose to make with this information is yours. I believe that just because a punishment isn't an effective deterrent shouldn't mean that it should not be used. However, I do feel that it is important to realize and understand this information before sentencing someone to death.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Morality of Assisted Suicide

Today, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed Senate Bill 128 or the "End of Life Option Act" which allows certain terminally ill patients to have a doctor prescribe them a lethal dose of medication. Currently, capital punishment is being debated as whether or not it is moral, and this is for prisoners who have committed capital acts; yet, some states are passing bills to allow people to end their own lives with the aid of others. So, how can our country be so divided? The part that is in favor of capital punishment generally seems to be against these assisted suicide bills and vise-versa.

Both sides of this argument that claim that they are morally sound. One claims that assisted suicide is justifiable because they make their own decision to end their lives, and that this is not necessarily the case with punishment. The opposition to assisted suicide makes the point that not all diagnostics are correct and could be wrong, other opposition claims that doctors should not have the power to end a patients life as is directly violates the Hippocratic Oath, specifically the clause which states (specifically the clause which states "First do no harm") which almost all doctors must take. But the pro-assisted suicide do bring up a good point, is not not less moral to let a person suffer until their death then to allow a quick, painless one?