What if one day in the near future, on your family’s weekend trip to Texas Roadhouse to TGI Friday’s, steak was no longer offered on the menu? No mouth-watering 8 ounce sirloin specials or baby back ribs to satisfy your protein craving? While for the average American this may seem like a dystopian scene out of a George Orwell novel, these dietary restrictions may very well be necessary for a sustainable future. For the United States, the main dilemma will surround individual rights—whether rights guarantee each person to eat as much as they choose, even if it will be detrimental to the sustainability of humanity.
Women’s Groups Urge Colleges and Government to Rein In Yik Yak (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
by Peter Schmidt
“Seventy-two women’s and civil-rights groups on Wednesday announced a campaign to enlist the federal government in pressuring colleges to protect students from harassment via anonymous social-media applications like Yik Yak.”
Hummus Diplomacy: Israeli Cafe Discounts Meals Shared By Jews And Arabs (NPR)
by Daniella Cheslow
“On Oct. 13, Kobi Tzafrir, owner of the Humus Bar in a shopping mall in Kfar Vitkin, north of Tel Aviv, advertised a 50 percent discount to Jews and Arabs who eat together on his restaurant’s Facebook page.”
San Francisco’s Last Gun Shop Calls It Quits (NPR)
by Sam Harnett
“The store announced on Facebook that it would close for “a variety of reasons” — among them, gun regulations in San Francisco. Specifically, new measures the city is currently considering would require the store to videotape gun purchases and report ammunition sales to the police.”
When Education Wasn’t Enough (The Atlantic)
by Julie A. Mujic
“Improving educational opportunities to shrink income disparities depends on increasing the resources available to school districts. But funding alone is not enough to equalize access to a quality education. Schools need new and innovative approaches to turn resources into student results that beget success in the world beyond the classroom.”
The struggle to decide whether to sleep or study is real for college students across the country. Many students opt to study instead of sleep, which sometimes requires the help of energy supplementation. This supplementation can come in many forms; the most common are pills or caffeinated drinks.
The past thirty years have seen a rise in “fast fashion” – a system of mass production that “refers to cheap, trendy, and popular clothing chains which rapidly change their inventory and styles.” This system is what allows us to walk into Forever 21 or H&M and purchase a whole outfit for less than $50. But you do get what you pay for – these clothing articles often have loose seams are made with cheap fabrics. As many customers of these stores can attest, laundry day becomes a chore thanks to excess shrinkage, unraveling, and rapid degradation of the quality of the sweater, shirt, or dress. However, many consumers are undisturbed by this disposable clothing trend because in the fashion world, trends are ever-changing and often fleeting. It doesn’t matter that the trendy sweater you bought two weeks ago is becoming a tad threadbare, because it’s already out of style. These clothes are now so cheap that upon the emergence of a new trend, it is affordable to go out and newly stock your closet.
An indisputable attribute to this industry is that money and status are no longer barriers. A new video by AJ+ explains we are only spending about 3% of our income on clothing, explaining that in a time of vast socioeconomic inequality, almost everyone is able to participate in the “fashion for all” culture. But what is the real cost?
According to the aforementioned AJ+ video “Why H&M Costs More Than You Think” referenced by The Huffington Post, 85% of the used clothes that we throw away goes into landfills, while only around 15% is recycled or reused. “Textile dyes make up 1/5th of industrial water pollution, and it’s estimated that the apparel industry makes up 10% of the global carbon footprint.” If this doesn’t persuade you, the cheap textiles we buy are full of contaminants such as lead and carcinogens. Teenage girls are most often the group targeted by these clothing chains and are thus exposed to these contaminants whilst still in developing stages.
The consequences don’t end there – the practice of mass production perpetuates the exploitation of cheap labor. As most of you probably know, many workers, who are often children, in countries such as China and Bangladesh are working from dawn to dusk in dangerous conditions for less than a dollar. How have we been justifying the fashion industry’s malpractices for so long?
There are some social benefits to buying into the disposable clothing culture. Rates of clothing donation to organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army has drastically increased. Many millennials who are laden with debt and struggling to enter the workforce are able to inexpensively stock their wardrobe with clothes that make them look presentable. However, is fast fashion justifiable when posited next to the dangerous working conditions and minuscule wages that make this practice possible? What about costs to the environment and the burden it places on future generations? It’s time we start asking what the real cost is of purchasing our wardrobes from these chains and questioning the implications of our whimsical consumerism and disposal tendencies.
Last week, school children and their parents gathered around the body of a male lion (although there has been some dispute over its sex) at the Odense Zoo as they waited to watch his dissection. Public animal dissections are common in Denmark, with Odense Zoo hosting these educational events for the past 20 years. The zoo planned for the event to take place over fall break so that students were able to come to the event.
Chances are, you’ve experienced it, too. You innocently type a word or phrase into Google — “Birkenstocks”, for example. It’s a casual, one-time search to gauge the general retail price for a pair of comfortable sandals. Unfortunately, this search continues to follow you for weeks after as your Facebook ads attempt to show you the lowest prices on Birkenstocks at malls near you while YouTube ads feature Macy’s, a popular department store and footwear retailer (who happens to sell Birkenstocks as well).
Self-Driving Cars Hit the Streets, Sort Of (NPR)
by Aarti Shahani
“Just as I’m lifting my foot from the accelerator, I feel the steering wheel take on a life of its own. I jerk my hands away, surprised. My hands and feet are doing nothing and the car is moving.”
For Students Accused of Campus Rape, Legal Victories to Win Back Rights (NPR)
by Tovia Smith
“As colleges crack down on sexual assault, some students complain that the schools are going too far and trampling the rights of the accused in the process. In recent months, courts around the nation have offered some of those students significant victories, slamming schools for systems that are stacked against the accused.”
Secret source code pronounces you guilty as charged (Ars Technica UK)
by David Kravets
“The results from a Pennsylvania company’s TrueAllele DNA testing software have been used in roughly 200 criminal cases, from California to Florida, helping put murderers and rapists in prison. Criminal defense lawyers, however, want to know whether it’s junk science.”
The FDA ordered 23andMe to stop offering users unapproved health tests. Now it’s back (Vox)
by Julia Belluz
“The genetic testing company 23andMe announced today that it’s relaunching its direct-to-consumer health testing kits after shutting them down two years ago when the Food and Drug Administration charged the company with failing to provide evidence that their tests were ‘analytically or clinically validated.’ ”
We suggest you go check out this comic featured on Daily Nous.
Happy Back to the Future Day! October 21, 2015 is the day that Marty McFly travelled to the future in Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean. To commemorate this day, I thought we should have a bit of fun and consider an interesting (and hypothetical) moral question.
Suppose we could build a time machine. Would it be wrong to build one?
Agency in women’s health is a topic currently at the forefront of media attention. In light of recent discussions about Planned Parenthood, along with continual debate about birth control, abortions, and other women’s health decisions, it seems that the struggle for women to re-claim their bodies and their health choices is far from over.
In light of recent mass shootings that have devastated the lives of several U.S. families, I think it is important to take a deeper look into these undeniably difficult situations. Mental health can be a topic that many people do not feel comfortable discussing because so many of us suffer from some sort of mental illness, whether we are aware of it or not. Often times, the individuals guilty of mass shootings are diagnosed with some sort of mental illness. Because of the emotional and mental toll that mass shootings have on the families of the victims and the families of the shooters, many people feel as though there is no right answer for what to do after this kind of tragedy occurs.
With no clear end in sight, the Syrian Civil War continues to ravage the country, sparking a refugee crisis that has displayed large divisions within the member states of the European Union. The outcome of this conflict is unforseeable, as there are several factions vying for power, each representing different view and interests (for a run through of the conflict click on this link). In his article for The Atlantic, Dominic Tierney outlines a scenario which he calls “the devil’s gambit”: a pragmatic approach by the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, to create a binary conflict by empowering ISIS to remove both of their opponents.
Everyone is walking on thin ice. In modern America, it seems we are called to constantly filter our words in an effort to respect those different from us. This mandate–political correctness–has the best of intentions. However, it has grown into a roadblock; we cannot further understand our differences and progress in the fight for equality if we are so compelled to tip toe around tough subjects and often avoid them altogether for fear of being politically incorrect.
An Oklahoma Execution Done Wrong (Atlantic)
by Matt Ford
“Oklahoma used the wrong drug to execute Charles Warner in January, according to autopsy records obtained by the The Oklahoman on Thursday.”
Victimhood is a real, brutal fact, and Ben Carson’s Holocaust logic denies that (Guardian)
“The denial of “victimhood” to those who have suffered atrocities is one of the reasons Carson has traction with a particular group of voters rooting for him – and those who advocate for unfettered, unregulated gun ownership are just one part of that constituency.”
Would You Pull the Trolley Switch? Does It Matter? (Atlantic)
by Lauren Cassani Davis
“A runaway streetcar is hurtling towards five unsuspecting workers. Do you pull a switch to divert the trolley onto another track, where only one man works alone? Or do you do nothing? This haunting choice is a variation of the “trolley problem,” an iconic philosophical thought experiment.”
Why do North Korean defector testimonies so often fall apart? (Guardian)
by Jiyoung Song
“With the flow of information from North Korea fiercely controlled, outsiders have long relied on defector testimonies to gain an understanding of what goes on inside the secretive state. But relying on the anecdotes of individuals – all with different views and experiences – can also be risky.”
The Case for Getting Rid of Borders–Completely (Atlantic)
by Alex Tabarrok
“Not every place in the world is equally well-suited to mass economic activity. Nature’s bounty is divided unevenly. Variations in wealth and income created by these differences are magnified by governments that suppress entrepreneurship and promote religious intolerance, gender discrimination, or other bigotry. Closed borders compound these injustices, cementing inequality into place and sentencing their victims to a life of penury.”
In mid-September, Zunera Ishaq, a Muslim Pakistani immigrant seeking Canadian citizenship, was turned away because she refused to take off her veil during the citizenship ceremony. Ishaq brought the case to court, which ruled in her favor that is was unlawful for the government to ban religious veils at the ceremony. The federal government is currently undergoing an appeals process to challenge the ruling in the supreme court. Timing is everything in this process; the decision will affect her ability to vote in the Canadian federal election on October 19th.
American forces have come under scrutiny after an airstrike against Taliban forces in the Afghan city of Kunduz accidentally hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is a humanitarian organization founded in France on December 22, 1971. Their mission is to provide medical care to people in need, based on the belief that “all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries.” It is not uncommon to see the group provide aid to dangerous places like refugee camps, areas affected by natural disasters, sites of disease outbreak, and war zones.
As Americans continue to top the charts of obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choices, employers around the country are beginning to look for ways to improve the work environment by promoting exercise and other activities that promote employees’ overall health. Many companies are encouraging employees to sign up for online programs that are able to track a person’s exercise and diet, as well as monitor any health changes that may occur in a person’s life. These programs, although beneficial in many ways, have also raised suspicions about the amount of privacy and protection employees who share their information have. Are these online programs and mobile applications able to share personal information about the people using the resources?
An article from Friday, October 2nd by Jay Hancock, discusses the city of Houston and the encouragement of employees to use one of these online wellness companies as a way to track health changes. The privacy agreement that accompanied this partnership was frustrating to many employees who were wary about sharing their person information, as it was unclear as to how much and what information could have been shared with other companies and potentially the public. Although employees were able to opt out of the program, they were then forced to pay an extra $300 per year for medical coverage. This lack of communication about the privacy and protection of information shared with this company sparked concern from several employees and therefore was not widely accepted among the residents of Houston.
The implementation of these wellness-tracking programs argue that it is an efficient and effective way to hold employees accountable for staying healthy. A healthy employee arguably performs to the best of his/her ability because his/her body is being taken care of properly. These programs also help companies interpret the data collected and make changes to the work environment based on the information gathered. As the U.S. continues to become one of the unhealthiest countries in the world, these wellness programs could be the answer to holding people accountable and making Americans healthier people.
Should employees be forced to sign up for wellness programs in order to promote their own health? How much privacy is acceptable for wellness programs to provide to the people who subscribe to their services? Is the implementation of wellness programs in the work place an efficient and ethically sound decision for companies to make based on the unhealthy state of our country?
On October 1, the Obama administration released a new environmental regulation concerning smog. For those of you that don’t know, smog is an air pollutant that gets its name from a mash-up of the words smoke and fog. It was first seen in London, where clouds of smoke and sulfur would mix with fog to create a thick haze that would hang over the city. While still associated with coal burning, it is now known that VOCs and airborne particulate matter called ozone can also be responsible. The recent law limits the amount of ozone that can be released from factory smokestacks and tailpipes with the intention of reducing smog.
Currently, 75-100% of public schools in 42 states have start-time earlier than 8:30 a.m. , with Louisiana leading the pack with an average school starting time of 7:40 a.m. The push for schools to adopt later starting times enters the political sphere periodically as new studies come out annually suggesting that sleep has become both a hot commodity and a scarcity for students.
UPDATE: This article has been altered to include more eyewitness accounts.
The protesters of two weeks ago have sparked significant campus discussion. At the forum held in the late afternoon after the initial day of protests, many of the students in attendance expected to talk through the issues of the hate group that came to campus that day. These students were then confused when the forum went in a different direction. Some of the confusion may have arisen as a result of the fact that many students weren’t aware that there were two major events that took place on that day, not just one. A full picture of what happened on that first day of visits may help to explain why the forum took the direction it did.
What appears to be one issue (the protests led by Brother Jed and his group) is actually two. The first issue is the hateful message promoted by the visiting group that caused emotional distress for many on campus. However, there is an important second issue: the response by Greencastle and Indiana State police to some students of color who took part in the counter protest movement against Brother Jed’s group.
Brother Jed’s group, Campus Ministries USA, spoke prejudicially against many different groups. They called female students “whores” and said the following: “blacks are still slaves,” “blacks and gays worship a different God than us,” “it is not natural to put your penis in a rectum,” “carpet munchers keep your tongues to yourself,” and “militant feminists are ruining the world.” Their messages targeted almost every student on our campus, and every student has a right to be upset about them.
The second issue began after six women from Feminista! began a peaceful counter protest and were eventually joined by many other groups including: Omega Phi Beta, AAAS, Student Government, Lambda Sigma Upsilon, Sigma Lambda Gamma, etc. Individual protesters also came to show support.
The police, in an effort to protect students from lawsuits and jail time if they were to commit an act of violence against the protesters, eventually detained one black student. He was protesting peacefully and had not committed any such act of violence. Soon after, a white student threw hot coffee at the protesters. The student was taken away with a hand behind her back and escorted back to her dorm room.
Shortly after, a black student was angered by one of the protesters. When the student became visibly agitated, a group of staff stepped in to support him. One of the staff members involved, Yug Gill, stated, “[The student] had already begun to calm down and wanted to be left alone when the police officer entered the staff bubble around the student. [The student] did not resist the police officer.” The policeman slammed the student to the concrete followed shortly after by a staff member of color who was trying to de-escalate the situation. The police officers used their knees to pin them down and the student was placed in handcuffs. Neither of the detained men had committed a violent act.
The disparity between the police’s response to the detained men of color and their response to the white student who threw the coffee is a one clear factor in the outpouring of anger, grief and confusion at the evening forum. It is also clear how this issue is uniquely a racial one.
With this picture of the events it is reasonable to see how students present at the protest and who witnessed the detaining of their classmates and friends understood the forum to be on the subject of the unfair detaining of people of color by the police. It is also reasonable to see how students not present would have expected the forum to be regarding Brother Jed’s group and their hateful messages. Neither expectation of the forum was wrong.
What is wrong is accusing students who wanted to discuss racial disparities in policing that day of “hijacking” the forum and arguing that it wasn’t the time or place to discuss race issues. It is wrong to pretend that we only have space in our campus discussions for one issue at a time and to continuously prioritize whichever is more comfortable.
I hope that we can create a culture of listening at DePauw where we stop and listen when we are faced with something uncomfortable rather than shutting it down. I hope we can create an intentional community where we listen and trust each other’s experiences. Learning these skills is essential to healing divides that exist on campus.
Greisy Genao, Yug Gill, and Vivie Nguyen helped write this post and provided all firsthand account of the protest on 9/23/15.
Everyone you know will be able to rate you on the terrifying ‘Yelp for people’ — whether you want them to or not (Washington Post)
by Caitlin Dewey
“You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online. So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.”
Are Independents Just Partisans in Disguise? (NPR)
by Shankar Vedantam
“Every election cycle, independents generate enormous amounts of interest as candidates, pollsters and the media probe their feelings. These voters are widely considered to hold the key to most elections.”
Kickstarter’s Campaign for Syrian Refugees Has Already Raised $1 Million (The Atlantic)
by Bouree Lam
“This is Kickstarter’s first-ever non-profit campaign. Previously, the site prohibited campaigns that raised money for a charity or cause. Earlier this year, Kickstarter reincorporated as a public benefit corporation—a legal designation that states that the company’s aim will aid the public.”
Anatomy of a Black Actress: Viola Davis (The Toast)
by Fanta Sylla
“Viola Davis is not going anywhere. As spectators, our responsibility is to start training our gaze to look at her in a way that enables her to explore her creativity and express herself uncensored. In a way that is, if not loving, liberating.”
With cheap airfare, vacation packages, and travel agencies on the rise, it comes as no surprise that international travel and tourism have become more accessible for citizens of the U.S. and the world. Indeed, particularly for younger demographics, travel presents an opportunity for exposure to new cultures, a better understanding of the world, and immense personal growth.