In the summer of 2015, a lone gunmen massacred 38 tourists enjoying a sunny beach in Tunisia. Since this incident, many radical terrorists have been targeting tourist destinations for attacks, aiming to deter economic progress in these countries. These countries range from fragile Arab Spring nations attempting to progress economically, like Tunisia and Libya, to longstanding Western tourist destinations like France and Spain. Since tourism is an important part of the global economy, does the average traveler have a moral responsibility to ignore terror threats and continue traveling to potentially dangerous countries?
It is no secret that the United States lags far behind other nations on their benefits for new parents. In fact, it is the only developed economy in the world that does not mandate some form of paid maternal leave for workers, and one of only nine OECD (the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) nations which does not have any policies in place for new fathers. Because the government is not making any changes on this front, many companies have recently been striving to change the norm in America about paid parental leave on their own terms. Facebook COO Sheryl Strandberg is taking it a step further, positing that companies should be offering paid leave to any employee with caregiving responsibilities—whether it be parenting, caring for a sick child or helping an ill parent. This raises interesting questions about a company’s obligations to its employees. At what point does a firm start and stop having a responsibility to compensate workers for leaves of absence? How does a company balance the potential financial burden of absent employees with allowing a healthy working environment?
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Classical music has a long legacy of sexism, and the most evident reminder is often standing right in front of the orchestra. I’ve stared at this inequality for most of my own musical career. In twelve years, I’ve worked with only one professional female conductor, but countless males. And even in the world of instrumentalists, equality can be hard to see. I remember being in middle school band, shocked that there wasn’t a single boy in the flute section, but all the professionals my teachers told me to listen to were men.
What I have observed in my own musical experience is a global epidemic. In a recent survey of British artist signers representing at least five conductors, 95% of those represented conductors were men. A major orchestra’s web page showed 27 upcoming male guest conductors and no female conductors. These are two statistics presented by James Murphy, the managing director of the Southbank Sinfonia. He presented a brief video on the issue for the Association of British Orchestras, which, incidentally, has offered only four of over 100 titled conducting positions to women across 61 orchestras. The lack of visibility for female conductors is most discouraging for the upcoming generation of female musicians. Murphy and accomplished American conductor Marin Alsop both argue for the importance of having visible role models, which can be hard to find for young women.
In 2013, the plight of female conductors was widely publicized when Marin Alsop became the first woman to conduct the BBC Proms Closing Concert. Though her accomplishment was considered a breakthrough and seen as a glass ceiling shattered, so much remains to be done. Indeed, the same week as Alsop’s Proms performance, another well-known conductor, Vasily Petrenko, said that “a cute girl on a podium means that musicians think about other things.” This kind of inexcusable comment is all too common. And demeaning remarks are only a part of the problem — women in classical music lack basic exposure. In 2015, composer Judith Bingham said she tried to keep track of how many classical pieces a radio station played, and came up with less than one a week.
Since Alsop’s Proms success, female conductors have been afforded more opportunities, such as Morley College’s program for aspiring women conductors. The workshop-style course has grown since its founding in 2014, and is offered across the United Kingdom. The Women Conductors Program “seeks eventually to eliminate any remark about whether a conductor is a man or a woman so that conductors are judged on their talent alone,” echoing Alsop’s own views.
The problem is ultimately systemic, which does not make it excusable. Women’s contributions to the music world have been largely ignored longer than we can identify, but certainly a few notable cases come to mind; Mozart’s sister was also an incredibly talented pianist, and both Schumann’s wife and Felix Mendelssohn’s sister were talented composers prevented from pursuing their arts.
“We all want a society in which we don’t have to think or talk any more in terms of male or female conductors,” argues Murphy, “but this won’t just magically happen. Nobody else is going to do it for us.” He’s careful to say in his video that he’s also struggled with the implicit bias, as does much of the industry. Murphy’s intentions are good, but it’s another problem when a male managing director has to tell the British classical music industry that hiring women would be good business practice, and that it’s largely important to keep up with the times.
Of course, the problematic gender bias in Western classical music is a symptom of the sexism that has defined Western society for many hundreds of years. Much of conducting involves leadership qualities that have been traditionally perceived as masculine, and women who take on these qualities are not respected in the same way that a man might have been. Alsop puts a finer point on it: “Society interprets women’s gestures very differently, so that if women are exuding an aura of extreme confidence that can be deemed off-putting, whereas it’s desirous for men.”
Little by little, the bias against women in classical music is changing. Thirty years ago, no woman had conducted for the BBC Proms, and today, more than half of the professional flute soloists I’ve met and worked with in my college career have been women. However, complacency is unacceptable, and it’s important to acknowledge that this article presents only one small facet of the greater issue of sexism at large. For example, I did not provide statistics on women of color in the Western classical world, nor did I consider other kinds of music outside symphonic classical music. Ultimately, one female conductor is not “good enough” to have suddenly achieved equity in the musical profession, and until a woman can be a conductor without being a “woman conductor,” we have not done enough.
This week, a debate between Jorge Ramos and Jared Taylor went viral in Spanish language social networks. The debate was originally an interview for Hate Rising, a documentary that aired last October. Ramos is one of Univision’s anchors, and he was infamously expelled by then-candidate Donald Trump from a press conference. Taylor is the editor of American Renaissance, a white nationalist organization that became one of the most visible representatives of the alt-right; he also enthusiastically supports President Trump.
Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the film, Split.
On January 20, Split, a film about three girls attempting to escape from Kevin Wendell Crumb’s 23 split personalities, was released in theaters. In the film, Crumb suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID). Dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental illness that creates one or more personalities within one individual. The disorder also pairs with memory loss; therefore, the individual is sometimes incapable of realizing their multiple personalities. Normally, the disorder arises from some form of trauma during childhood.
In June of 2009, 23-year-old Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post at Mest Manko in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, he was captured by the Taliban. He was held as a prisoner of war for five years in deplorable conditions. In 2014, President Barack Obama’s administration arrived at an agreement with the Taliban. In exchange for Bergdahl’s release, the United States would release five Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay. The deal was controversial. Many people felt that the U.S should not have negotiated with terrorists for release of a soldier that deserted his post.
Bergdahl’s case was a hot topic on the campaign trail during the 2016 presidential election. Now-President Donald Trump commented on it frequently, referring to Bergdahl as a traitor and suggesting that if he could undo the deal, sending Bergdahl back into captivity and returning the detainees to Guantanamo, he would do so.
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Every year, thousands of bills are written and proposed during Indiana’s legislative session. The Indiana General Assembly takes place during the first few months of the year, and is a chance for state representatives to advance their agenda. Many Americans pay more attention to what happens at the federal level, but state and local government also has a large influence on the lives of citizens. The 2017 session, Jan 3 through April 29, is taking place during a budget year, and in the wake of an extremely contentious and important state and national election. Legislation authored this session ranges from bills that deregulate environmental protection to resolutions aimed at honoring professional athletes. One bill that has not gained much attention, however, raises numerous ethical concerns in regards to criminal justice and the prison system.
Senate Bill 228, authored by Senator Michael Young, aims to reform Indiana’s approach to bail and release after arrest. This bill involves the rules regarding pretrial risk assessment system which assist courts in assessing an arrestee’s likelihood of: (1) committing a new criminal offense; or (2) failing to appear.
At first glance this bill doesn’t seem particularly unusual. After all, using risk assessment in the criminal justice system doesn’t sound particularly radical or unethical. However, a closer examination of the bill reveals a large ethical dilemma. According to S.B. 228, the Indiana Supreme Court will revolutionize the standards for bail and release. Instead of basing bail and release off of a standard punishment for crime, it will rely upon risk assessment “based on empirical data derived through validated criminal justice scientific research” regarding individuals and the groups to which they might belong.
Proponents of the bill would argue that this not only humanizes those arrested on bail but also saves taxpayers money. Ideally, fewer people would be stuck waiting for their bail to be posted or for their trial, and therefore less taxpayer money would be dedicated to detaining those arrested. It is estimated that at any given time, there are nearly half a million Americans detained in local jails awaiting their trial, which costs approximately $17 billion every year. Many also argue that the notion of bail is outdated, and inherently favors wealthy individuals over poorer ones, further reinforcing societal inequalities surrounding income. Evidence-based risk assessment has been implemented in Kentucky, and supporters point to the fact that the average arrest rate for released defendants has declined. Additionally, many legislators are aiming to improve the reputation of the United States, which has one of the highest prison populations in the world, based on the fact that this bill would most likely result in less pretrial prisoners.
But will abolishing bail and relying upon risk assessment truly improve the stark inequalities present in the criminal justice system? Risk assessment aims to allow those who are detained for non-violent crimes and are not repeat offenders out of jail before their trial. But what are the complications of individualizing criminal offenses? Though fewer people would ideally be sitting in jail awaiting pretrial, those who are detained may be treated differently than those who committed the same crimes, or even more serious ones. If two people are arrested for the same crime, shouldn’t they be treated the same regardless of differences in criminal record and history?
Factors such as race, criminal arrest record, or even gender could influence how risk assessment is measured and change how two people who commit the same crime are treated. A report on bail and pretrial risk assessment admits that “researchers have documented that racial bias can influence how juvenile offenses are described in post-arrest narrative reports, which could influence pretrial release decisions.” Though one could argue that educating law enforcement officials about implicit bias could eliminate this problem, S.B. 228 does not encourage or mandate doing so. Additionally, there has been increased debate about whether or not crime statistics can stand alone if they do not take into account racial and socioeconomic inequalities.
Though controversial, S.B. 228 passed its Senate Committee vote 8-1, passing an amendment on February 19. Though it is too early to tell if S.B. 228 will make it through the legislative process and become law, it should be considered seriously. The ethical implications of transforming pretrial requirements to individual considerations as opposed to a standard should not be taken lightly.
President Donald Trump has spent three of the past four weekends in Florida at his Mar-a-Lago resort, conducting political business from interviewing cabinet nominees, hosting the Japanese prime minister, and formulating a response to a North Korean missile test at the club instead of in Washington. On Saturday morning, the president went so far as to dub the establishment “the Southern White House” in a tweet. While the Trump family’s extensive travel has already sparked concerns, Trump’s decision to hold numerous political meetings outside the actual White House is raising serious concerns about access and security.
Food Not Bombs, a grassroots organization focused on food justice, are facing their second round of legal battles this month after their demonstration in Tampa, Florida, that led to the arrests of seven activists. Other organizations in Tampa have faced similar action or threats by the local authorities over their illegal behavior – feeding homeless people in a public place without a permit.
This past year marked the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS). Created in 1916, the NPS has had a long standing tradition of stewardship that has preserved many of America’s most beautiful areas from the threats of manifest destiny and American exceptionalism. However, the NPS must now deal with a new threat presented through overcrowding and the environmentally degrading practices that come with it. Taken to the extreme through the example of Zion National Park, where rising crowds resulted in six million people visiting the six-mile-long stretch of canyon last year, can result in major infrastructure changes to mitigate the anthropogenic effects.
President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been labeled everything from isolationist to realist and everything in between. In maneuvering through the clues of policy that Trump has left us throughout his campaign and his presidency, a common thread can be found. This metaphorical thread is in some ways revolutionary — not necessarily in its existence, but rather in its blatant acknowledgement in recent mainstream American politics. This overarching theme is as harrowing as it is simplistic: American nationalism. Trump has centered his interactions with the outside world around the idea that Americans are the best, must be respected, are superior, and deserve more than their foreign counterparts — solely because of the land they happened to be born on.
Jesus is usually thought of as a major ethical teacher (the famous slogan “What would Jesus do” is a major testament to this), but most of his preaching was not so much about how we should live, but rather, what will happen in the upcoming apocalypse. Yes, he gave a lot of ethical advice, but as Albert Schweitzer frequently reminded us, his ethics must always be understood in the context of apocalypticism. Jesus was, above all, a doomsdayer.
Recently, we have seen some upward changes to the Hollywood film industry. For example, six Black actors from four movies were nominated for this year’s Oscar awards, unlike the past two #OscarsSoWhite years. These nominated movies are about, directed by and/or starred by Black people. The 68th Emmy Awards nominees and winners are also a diverse group of actors and actresses. But has the industry really become more inclusive?
Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Arrival and Passengers.
If you were to see your life unfold ahead of you, with all of the triumphs but interspersed with the tragedies in all of their grittiness and grief, would you choose to experience it, in all of that detail? Not just in spite of the inconveniences and harms, not full of regrets, but could you wholeheartedly say “Yes!” to the life that will be, or has been, yours?
In the beginning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, people of all faiths all over the world are asking the question, “How should our faith respond?” Buddhists are no exception to this. With important religious precepts centered on nonviolence and compassion, Buddhists are asking how they can apply their code of ethics to help those in need. Unique from other religions like Christianity and Islam, Buddhist texts and teachings make little reference to organized political or social activism. However, past historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi have used Buddhist precepts to dramatically change society. Gandhi used the profound principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, to dismantle the British occupation of India. Once again, a turn to Buddhist principles is needed to encourage compassion in the unfolding months ahead.
Within every state, leaders strive to find a perfect equilibrium between individual liberty and the state’s responsibility to protect its people. The balance found, however, is often based on the ideals of the system of government in place. Finding this balance is complex enough on its own, and becomes far more complex when one considers the corruption of Russia’s government and the KGB officer-turned-president, Vladimir Putin. Russia’s recent decision to pass a bill to decriminalize domestic violence, then, has many wondering what the true motives of this bill are. Does the government believe it to be in the nation’s best interest, or was it passed to alleviate financial burdens and reinforce gender inequality and the old Russian proverb, “if he beats you it means he loves you?” It is also important to consider that even if the government believes it is in the state’s best interest, does it have a responsibility to protect and punish violent actions taken inside families, or is it acceptable to allow families individual liberty to make their own judgment calls?
Last week, Democrats in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sat out Scott Pruitt’s confirmation vote. Pruitt had been nominated by President Trump as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and was heavily criticized for his history of accepting money from anti-environmental interest groups. Though this was heralded as a virtuous political statement, the Republicans on the committee managed to approve the vote by changing the rules of Senate appointments. Though many environmentalists see this appointment as the end of the EPA as we know it, the appointment of Scott Pruitt is not the most serious threat to the EPA. Florida Representative Matt Gaetz recently introduced H.R. 861, which has the sole purpose “To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.” Though many might consider nominating a man with no scientific background and conflicts of interest to head the EPA as unethical, what are the ethics of completely disbanding the Environmental Protection Agency as a whole?
Twenty-one years ago (February 10, 1996), Deep Blue, an IBM Supercomputer, defeated Russian Grand Master Gary Kasparov in a game of chess. Kasparov ultimately won the overall match, but a rematch in May of 1997 went to Deep Blue. About six years ago (February 14-15, 2011), another IBM creation named Watson defeated Champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in televised Jeopardy! matches.
The capabilities of computers continue to expand dramatically and surpass human intelligence in certain specific tasks, and it is possible that computing power may develop in the next several decades to match human capacities in areas of emotional intelligence, autonomous decision making and artistic imagination. When machines achieve cognitive capacities that make them resemble humans as thinking, feeling beings, ought we to accord them legal rights? What about moral rights?
Though it is still early in President Donald Trump’s term, the Secret Service seems to be getting more media attention than usual lately. The Secret Service always works diligently to protect the President’s family, but the Trumps have provided an extra challenge. For starters, President Trump has a large family – five children – and some of his adult children already have their own children who also require Secret Service protection. According to NBC, President Trump’s intention to regularly visit the First Lady and their son, Barron, at their New York City home also requires additional staffers to travel and secure both locations. Even before taking office, taxpayers were paying more than $2 million per day to ensure the safety of the Trump family, and that number is only expected to rise throughout his term in office. This could be a major problem, because, although protective needs are rising, the Secret Service budget is not.
Last week, Venezuela’s government honored the 200th anniversary of Ezequiel Zamora’s birth, in national celebrations. According to the official leftist party line, Zamora was a national hero that led guerrilla warfare against Venezuela’s corrupt governments in the mid-nineteenth century. Hugo Chavez’s political ideology was founded on the so-called “tree of three roots” (árbol de las tres racíces): Simon Bolivar, Simon Rodriguez and Ezequiel Zamora.
Bolivar and Rodriguez are heroes universally admired and respected by Venezuelans throughout the political spectrum. Zamora, on the other hand, is a much more divisive figure. According to historical revisionists, Zamora is no hero.
On the evening of February 1st, 2017, protestors burst through lines of zip-tied metal fencing to flood a building at the University of California, Berkley. Some protesters wore masks, and others threw red paint on members of the College Republicans. Windows were smashed and fires were started. This chaos was caused by disapproval on the part of many Berkeley students to the invited speaking engagement of Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial conservative commentator and technology editor for Breitbart.
After the January 21 Women’s Marches that clocked in at between 3 and 4 million participants worldwide, other rallies and marches to protest the new Trump administration have been planned in their wake. Amongst these emerging marches is the March for Science, in which scientists will march on Washington and in 11 other cities to advocate for public funding for evidence based research. While the march has gained approval from politicians, scientific organizations, and prominent scientists alike, some wonder whether or not scientists should be marching in the first place.