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EmbrOILed: the leak and what needs to be done about it

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2010 at 4:31 am

NOBODY loves an oil spill. Especially one that releases over 30 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

So, we’ve all heard about the recent BP oil spill. What with Jon Stewart making fun of it, the fake BP Twitter account and almost every news network jumping on the bandwagon criticizing the company for its mismanagement of the crisis, it has already received more publicity than any other event this last month. But while most of this is recirculated information, I wanted to figure out exactly WHAT went wrong, WHY it happened, the history behind the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and some innovative solutions of curing this environmental disaster. So here’s a blog outlining the lesser-known aspects of the “worst oil spill in history” (the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill was about 11 million gallons) and what needs to be/is being done about it.

First things first. Exactly what happened? Well, late in the evening on April 20th 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caught fire. The Deepwater Horizon was an exploratory rig built about 18,000 feet under the ground to get to oil and gas. Scientists suspect that a surge in pressure caused the oil and gas to ignite, leading to the explosion. Almost 126 people were on board, and most of them were rescued by the US Coast Guard or rescue boats. Eleven workers died during this incident, but, broadly speaking, their deaths have been eclipsed by the fact that the rig is still releasing crude oil from underneath the ocean floor into the Gulf, threatening flora, fauna and humans in the region. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

SATs: Too Much, or Not Enough?

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 4:30 am

Butterflies in your stomach, long lines of nervous teenagers, and a sense of impending doom… yes, that does sound very familiar.And with good reason. With the last SAT testing dates approaching, many juniors have been talking in hushed whispers and having nightmares about low scores crushing their hopes and dreams of being lawyers and engineers. Here, I wish to address the all-important question: What is the SAT, and does it really make a difference?

Let’s start with the basics. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (better known as the SAT) is one among the national standardized tests that millions of juniors and seniors can take to measure their “aptitude” in three sections: Mathematics, Critical Reading and Writing. The College Board, which is a “not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity,” develops these tests, which are then administered in high schools around the world. Most countries around the world have similar exams to determine who’s in and who’s out: France has the Baccalaureat, England and Wales have the GCSE, India has the CBSE and ICSE, and Germany and Finland use the Abitur tests. But, does the SAT scale up or scale down to international standards?

Read the rest of this entry »

Resolutions: How to Make and Keep One

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2010 at 4:14 am

Yes, I know it’s been almost 30 days since 2010 began. But it’s never too late to start, or keep up a resolution 🙂

Saying good things and doing good deeds are two different things. And you need to look no farther than the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to see how.

As this year dawns, our generation is faced with a million and one resolutions. The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15),

with which we ended least year, was one of the first, followed by everything from Haiti to the elections in Kiev, and many more important events to come. Yet, I feel like the international community, somewhat like a high-schools senior wishing to run away from work, has been running away from making the tough decisions. An example of this is Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s statement after the COP15 conference:

I am satisfied. We have achieved a result. Now nations will need to sign on, and if they do so, they will support what has been agreed (in the Copenhagen Accord). This will have effect immediately.

This sentiment is reflected around the world today. While eternal optimism is one thing, convincing oneself that progress is being made when it is not is an entirely different issue. The latter is often one that can lead to bad decisions, mismanagement, and eventually nothing.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Thousand and One Things to Consider…

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

… and it would be much easier for us to not think about any of them.
This website/blog stems from a passion for news, a passion for writing, and a desire to give voice to smaller, newer and more personal stories that put major global issues into perspective. With thousands of media outlets, a million Twitter feeds per second, Facebook posts and Tumblr texts crawling all over the internet, we are at a crossroads in time where we can actually give voice to what we care about any way we want. Why not use this power for good instead of tweeting and retweeting the mundane?
Yes, I care. About the world, about my community, about my friends around the globe. Do you?