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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Supreme Court vs. The Animal Kingdom- Why the Supreme Court struck down anti-animal cruelty laws

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm

What do "crush" videos and Freedom of Speech have in common? A Supreme Court case.

Almost a month ago, I read a headline in the Washington Post about the US Supreme Court striking down a ban on animal cruelty on video. While I didn’t think much of it then,  the controversy the erupted around the passage of this ruling forced me to reconsider this situation and try to understand it better. This blog is mostly about the recent case United States vs. Stevens, and what the implications of this ruling could be on our society and First Amendment freedoms.

Let’s start with some background on this case. First off, WHAT was being depicted in these videos? According to The Washington Post,

They appeal to a certain sexual fetish by depicting the torture of animals — cats, dogs, monkeys, mice and hamsters, according to Congress — or showing them being crushed to death by women wearing stiletto heels or with their bare feet.

Now, although I’ve never watched a “crush video” myself (I didn’t have the guts to watch one after I heard initial loud mews), it’s not hard to see that they are extremely violent, and use animals for the simple instant gratification of other humans.The Animal Law Coalition reports that “The films, photos and other depictions that are banned under this law show a living animal that is “intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed“. I’m all for humane slaughter, but THIS form of cruelty, by definition, is INHUMANE. This is why I was surprised that the Court was actually DEFENDING such forms of inhumane slaughter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Invisible Children’s LRA Bill Passes: One more step towards “Never Again”

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 1:31 am

One of my friends from the Holocaust Museum, Allison Zhou, requested that I write about the most recent

project her organization, Invisible Children, has been working on. The organization experienced a recent success a few days ago, with the passage of the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act”. Here are some relevant details of it and how I feel about this new law.

While child soldiers in Uganda may seem like a distant issue, a recent bill passed by Congress brings it all home.

I encountered Invisible Children last year, as I was putting together the Just World Festival. I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting IC groups from Lee HS as well as Woodson HS in Fairfax County–each school had its group of passionate students dedicated to improving the lives of Ugandan child soldiers through education, peace and development projects in the region. While I know from the movie that child soldiers was a mounting problem in Uganda, I had almost no historical context to base this phenomenon on. So this blog is largely a result of me trying to understand the history behind the conflict and its implications on us today. Read the rest of this entry »

College Decisions: Make It or Break It?

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

So, it’s April 1st. I, like many other high-school seniors across the US, spent all day trying to NOT think about my impending 5 pm doom–the time ALL the Ivy League colleges simultaneously post their college decisions online. After three hours of guitar, two showers and two hours on Facebook, I finally caved and checked my results, only to find rejection letters from all the Ivies that I had applied to. So this blog aims to look at how ‘life-changing’ which college you go to really is, from the point of view of someone actually hoping to attend one next year.

Stressing out about college? That was me a year ago.

College decisions this year have been generally more nerve-racking than past years. Especially with the economy, college endowments are plummeting in value, far more rapidly than any others. USA Today reports that endowments fell on average by 18.7 percent last year, forcing colleges to increase the number of students admitted who need minimal financial aid.

So, exactly what DOES go into an admissions decision? Definitely the above mentioned financial aid and circumstances. But here are the other aspects of the decisions that applicants are responsible for:

  1. The SAT/ACT scores: See my previous article on this. Conclusion: “SAT scores, as accurate or inaccurate as they may be, are NOT the end of the world. In fact, according to Glenn Elert, “For 88% of the applicants (though it is impossible to know which ones) an SAT score will predict their grade rank no more accurately than a pair of dice”. Read the rest of this entry »