On May 31, 2014, two 12-year-old girls lured a friend, also 12, into the woods with the promise of a game of hide-and-seek. Once there, one of the girls pinned their friend down, while the other stabbed her 19 times with a long-bladed kitchen knife, causing serious injuries to major organs and arteries. The young perpetrators then fled the scene, leaving their young friend to die of her injuries. Miraculously, the victim survived. She was able to crawl to a road where a cyclist found her and went for help.
In the Indian state of Gujarat, Navratri, or “Nine Nights,” is in full swing with festivals and celebrations to mark the nine sacred days of the year in the Hindu faith. One of Hinduism’s most auspicious holidays, Navratri is dedicated to Maa Durga, with nine days of activities to celebrate each of the goddess’s avatars. However, this Navratri has not been completely tranquil, with a billboard ad campaign causing waves of controversy. The billboard featured Bollywood actress Sunny Leone smiling coyly, with the tagline “This Navratri, play, but with love.” The slogan is accompanied by a pair of dandiya sticks and the logo for the condom brand, Manforce.
Editor’s note: this article contains derogatory language due to the nature of its content.
Netflix’s original series, Dear White People, released its first season this year with the summary: “Students of color navigate the daily slights and slippery politics of life at an Ivy League college that’s not nearly as ‘post-racial’ as it thinks.” In the fifth episode, Reggie Green, a student of color, is at a fraternity party. One of the white students hosting the party, Addison, sings along to a rap song, including the word, “nigga.” When Reggie asks him not to say that word, Addison gets defensive. A fight breaks out, and the situation escalates. The police arrive and end up pulling a firearm out and aiming it at Reggie.
Hurricane Harvey has barely receded in Texas. Irma has devastated parts of Florida. Jose is on deck. Katia has already hit Mexico. Lee never really got going, but Maria is building strength. If we survive, this season promises us a hurricane Ophelia. It’s a good year for inland weather buffs, and for people selling emergency supplies.
Christopher Breaux, better known by his stage name, Frank Ocean, is coming off a month of success after releasing his fourth single of the year, “Provider,” on August 24. The track opens with the line, “Memo finna start acting out if I don’t see him soon,” potentially referring to Ocean’s rumored boyfriend, Memo Guzman. While the interpretation of this lyric is based off mere speculation, openly referencing his sexuality in his music is nothing new to Ocean.
Today, the proposition of work is an unstable one. Though most of us consider work to be a fixed and ordinary aspect of human life, time has come to question it. Given the conditions of our postmodern economy, we may be moving from a conversation about the nature of work to one about the existence of work.
In two back-to-back assaults on the mainland, Mother Nature sent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hurling into the American southeast. The destruction from the former in Houston and surrounding areas has news commentators already drawing comparisons to Hurricane Katrina. Many residents of New Orleans have struggled to fully recover from the devastation left in the wake of that storm, so many now are hoping that the lessons learned from Katrina will be applied to the situation in southeastern Texas.
Since the biblical ascension of Jesus into heaven, biblical literalists have been predicting the coming of the end times, rapture, and destruction of the world. The recent eclipse in August and a series of natural disasters, including Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, wildfires in the Northwest United States, and an 8.2-magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico, have sparked discourse once again about the alleged coming apocalypse. What apocalyptic discourse is currently urging people to repent, and what does it say about the human response to disaster?
Actress and singer Selena Gomez recently posted to her Instagram account that she received a kidney transplant because of her lupus; the transplanted kidney was donated to her by a close friend. For people facing kidney failure, transplantation of a healthy kidney from a living donor often presents a much better option than the alternative of dialysis. According to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, dialysis can only replace 10 percent of the work performed by a functioning kidney. On average, patients who received kidney transplants lived longer than those who remained on dialysis. The kidney donor also does not face significantly increased health risks from donating a kidney. There are the expected risks of going through a major surgery, as well as some increased risk of kidney failure, but there is no evidence that donating a kidney decreases life expectancy.
As the NFL heads into its second week of the regular season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, remains a free agent. With six years of professional experience and a Super Bowl ring, it is unusual that Kaepernick has yet to be signed by a team. Many suspect that teams are hesitant to sign Kaepernick because he is perceived as a potential PR concern. During the 2016 NFL preseason, Kaepernick began opting to sit or kneel rather than stand during the national anthem at games as protest against racial injustice and police violence. He was quoted saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
DePauw’s student of color community is incredibly unique, in the sense that each and every individual hails from a myriad of backgrounds. However, their diversity can call for major adaptation when coming to DePauw, a predominantly white institution (PWI). The process of adaptation can be made even more difficult if a student of color’s identity is tested through negative interactions with their white counterparts, as well as negative forces that push into DePauw’s campus.
What was once fiction is becoming a reality. In past decades, sci-fi novels and television have featured self-driving cars; this once-futuristic concept is finally coming to fruition. Will the result mirror the positive outcomes shown in fiction? Self-driving cars are intended to increase safety and efficiency in our society, but what are the moral implications and consequences that could come from such technology?
It seems like a nightmare come true – two record-setting hurricanes batter the United States in less than a week. Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, has been called “the most destructive hurricane” in the United States in the past 13 years. Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic and left disaster in its wake in many Caribbean islands and widespread flooding and property damage in Florida. Time has reported the death toll for Hurricane Harvey to be at least 70 and at least 24 for Hurricane Irma. These preliminary numbers could continue to rise, along with calculations of billions of dollars in damage. The public seeks an explanation as to what caused the severity of these storms. Most importantly, many question if human-induced climate change had a role in causing these hurricanes.
The Kanye West and Taylor Swift feud has recently reignited with the release of Swift’s music video for her song, titled “Look What You Made Me Do.” And with this renewal of their feud, it is important to understand the basic issues with both parties; indeed, the intersecting forms of of oppression both artists face must be taken into account when picking a side in the ongoing Swift-Kanye feud.
What do we risk when we take a quasi-protectionist/isolationist role in global politics? What are the unintended ramifications globally? In the face of increasing violence against ethnic minorities worldwide, it is hard for many human rights activists to digest President Trump’s foreign policy stance without addressing the clear violations of human rights in many regions around the world. For example, violence against the Muslim-majority Rohingya population in Myanmar has increased dramatically in past weeks. Despite this, no statements concerning crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing, which are both violations of the Responsibility to Protect UN doctrine, have been released by the White House.
In addition, a withdrawal from global promises like the Paris Agreement on climate change passes a terrifying tone for global security, signaling a passive foreign policy stance to issues outside the US’ immediate national interests. By reverting our foreign and economic policies to the pre-WWI status of protectionism and isolationism, we risk a retreat of our influence on global affairs, and eventually will have to accept that our importance as a global player will diminish.
To fully understand Trump’s foreign policies, his global economic policies, which reflect a form of protectionism, needs examination. Protectionism, widely defined as an economic policy aiming to benefit the producers, workers, and businesses against foreign competitors, largely shifts economic importance onto the host country. To accomplish the goal of protectionism, states use methods like tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas on foreign goods, and other forms of regulatory initiatives. Despite most economists’ belief that protectionism hurts businesses and consumers within the practicing state, Trump has largely shifted his economic and foreign policies to reflect the goals of protectionism, including his goal of withdrawing the US from the North American Free Trade Act, or NAFTA. NAFTA’s target is to reduce trade barriers between Mexico, Canada, and the US to create a comprehensive North American trading bloc, progressively benefiting each economy in the region.
Furthermore, economic protectionism can be accompanied by isolationism. Isolationism focuses on moving a state’s concentration away from a global level of analysis back into issues of national interest. This includes retreating from foreign conflicts and staying out of global issues. By focusing on domestic issues, some believe that the state’s overall health is improved. Despite these beliefs, in an increasingly globalized world where foreign affairs are deeply interconnected into nearly all lives, a foreign policy like isolationism sets a dangerous precedent because of its aftereffects on other countries. Moving towards a foreign policy like isolationism would revert back on decades of increased globalization and US hegemony, allowing many of the human rights goals attained in our post-WWII society challenged by competing rising powers, like Russia, China, and many others.
Essentially, Trump’s foreign policy, often described as isolationist and protectionist, is focused on reducing influence in regions of minimal importance to the economic and global standing of the U.S. By taking this foreign policy stance, Trump (whether intentionally or inadvertently) fails to recognize certain atrocities against mankind, such as the conflict in Myanmar. Furthermore, he sets a tone that disregards maintaining the well-being of the global order by effectively saying that matters concerning issues like human rights and climate change have little importance to US interests, and are grounds for other countries to exercise whatever influence they want in those areas of security. By taking such stances, the US’s global influence begins to withdraw, allowing other countries to effectively carve their own stories into the post-WWII liberal order created by the US.
As a nation, if we continue with these types of foreign affairs and economic philosophies, we must inherently recognize that our influence worldwide will not reflect the kind of global power held since WWII. We will need to accept that many of the rising powers challenging our influence will eventually succeed us in certain spheres of influence. This will arise as a result of our inability to assert ourselves in global affairs. Although that is the route that our current president has decided to take, this does not mean that total global US influence will decrease within this presidential term. Changes within Congress in the midterm elections and the will of the people to actively voice their opinions on these philosophies have the ability to challenge the quasi-protectionist/isolationist moves made by the current administration.
I’m not sure what to call the August 11 fascist cosplay in Charlotte VA. Ridicule and mockery seem out of place when discussing an event where organizers called for, and followed through with, the execution of other human beings. Whatever that display of vileness is called, the leaders are afraid to show their faces in public. Richard Spencer, the punched-face of Neo-Nazism is reportedly afraid to leave his home for fear of, well, being punched. He whinges, “I have never felt like the government or police were against me. There has never been a situation in my life when I’ve felt this way.” He has not found common ground with Black Lives Matter, The Anti-Defamation League or any other group he wants to eradicate from the earth. He feels oppressed because the police are not sufficiently protecting and assisting his efforts to foment genocide.
On August 30, Deadline reported on the announcement of an upcoming film adaptation of William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. This would not be the first adaptation of the book—there were versions in 1963 and 1990—but the twenty-first century remake promises at least one peculiarity: this time, it will be girls instead of boys trapped on a desert island.
From Joel Osteen’s controversy over the Lakewood Church to providing hope and comfort for the long months ahead, religion has played an important and varied role during the recovery after Hurricane Harvey. Fifth Ward Church of Christ in Northeast Houston has been one such example: more than 2,000 people packed into their Sunday service this past week in search of food, companionship, and answers to why such a tragic thing could happen. The speaker that morning at Fifth Ward, Pastor Gary Smith, told the congregation, “God causes it to happen, but He has a reason…We don’t comprehend what God has planned for us.” After such an apocalyptic event, the belief that God’s good will is in control still stands. How is this possible?
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A group called Rational Vaccines, which conducted a clinical trial of a herpes vaccine, has brought legal and ethical standards for medical research into the news recently. The trial, conducted from April to August of 2016, used human subjects and was conducted in the Caribbean in order to avoid being overseen by the FDA or cleared by the institutional review board, or IRB, which is required of trials in the US.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, has invested $4 million in Rational Vaccines this month. Thiel is an outspoken critic of the safety regulations the FDA and considers the oversight of the organization to needlessly delay scientific advancement. In an interview, he claimed that our current system of checks would prevent the polio vaccine from being developed today. However, his contribution to the group was contingent on their future compliance with FDA regulations in order for the findings of their research to be able to help more people.
The group has faced a great deal of controversy over the herpes vaccine study, not only for blatantly avoiding the jurisdiction of the US, but also for failing to meet standards of scientific rigor. However, the Chief of Rational Vaccines, Augustin Fernandez, stands by the results and is concerned that the import of the study is being lost in the uproar over the conditions of the trial.
Medical research has the aim of advancing our understanding of treatment and developing new ways of preventing ailments and healing the sick. However, this aim is in conflict with a competing value: that of imposing risk to the subjects. Clinical trials in medicine are experiments that explore what happens when humans engage in some treatment, and thus expose humans to risk of harm. Medical research thus has its own burden of justification that other scientific research (for instance, in physics or chemistry) doesn’t necessarily need to meet.
A basic ethical burden for medical research is that of scientific merit: a study must meet the standards of scientific method that peers dictate. Because studies are taking place in a scientific context, ideally this includes some possibility of replication of the results, suitable sample size and distribution, and objectivity of data collection. Including a control group and controlling variables is similarly important. Because clinical trials are exposing humans to harm, the study needs to be of scientific merit. Unfortunately, the herpes vaccine trial is not clearly meeting these standards because it included only 20 subjects without a clearly established control group, and the results involved the subjects who received the vaccine self-reporting their impression of whether there was an improvement of their condition. These aspects have undermined the scientific merit of the study, making it unlikely to be published in the US.
Also, because the research is experimental in nature, meaning it is not the standard of care, it is thus risky, and there are ethical demands on how this risk must be managed. Because humans are involved and potentially harmed by the trial, when medical research is conducted on humans, the subjects must give informed consent to adopting the risk of the study.
Other ways of managing the risk of the study go beyond the consent of the participants. The possible benefit must be proportional to the risk assumed by the subjects. Further, the benefit must not be directed towards a different group than those assuming the risk. This concern ties into selecting the subjects. If the treatment or drug that results from the trial will be prohibitively expensive, for instance, then it is ethically fraught to test the drug on subjects from economically disadvantaged groups. It may save a significant amount of money to conduct research on new treatments in less developed areas or nations, but to do so often means centering the risk of the trials on groups that will not be able to benefit from the results.
This ethical constraint on medical trials is especially pertinent to studies being conducted transnationally. In Rational Vaccine’s trial for this herpes vaccine, subjects from the US and UK were flown to the Caribbean to take part in the study so this concern doesn’t overtly arise. However, transferring their patients outside the country highlights their attempts to avoid government regulations.
The criticisms that Thiel and other libertarians lob against the FDA claim that the regulations prevent medical progress. That’s true. Regulations are meant to promote the aims discussed above in order to prevent harm and exploitation of human subjects. In conducting research, the tension between developing a life-saving treatment and conducting your trial in a respectful and ethical manner can be fraught.
Unfortunately, the history of clinical trials is riddled with cases that highlight how important it is to attend to the ethical implications of medical research. It is very possible to conduct research in countries with fewer regulations and underprivileged citizens that are willing to adopt high risk in exchange for not receiving any benefit. From 1946-1948, US scientists infected patients in Guatemala with STDS. Within the US, patients’ rights have been disrespected and exploited, for instance in the well-known and egregious case of the Tuskegee experiments, where a group of African American patients were denied treatment for their syphilis in order to see how the disease progressed over their lives.
There is, of course, value in pursuing scientific advancement through clinical trials. The results of such trials could help a number of people, increasing the quality of life for many. This benefit must be weighed against the possible exploitation of research subjects and accepting the risk that the experiment will result in harm to the subjects.
A recent article from CBS News reported that almost 100 percent of pregnant women in Iceland choose to terminate their pregnancy, should a pre-natal screening test come back positive for Down Syndrome. Nearly 85 percent of all pregnant women in Iceland take this optional test. Only around one or two children are now born in Iceland with Down Syndrome per year. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Ohio state legislature is currently considering bills to criminalize selective abortion done for terminating a fetus with Down Syndrome. Obviously, opinions differ drastically on the moral permissibility of the termination of Down Syndrome pregnancies.
On August 25, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. The storm devastated the state, destroying homes and business and claiming many lives. Faced with such dire circumstances, many people living in Texas found and continue to find themselves in need of assistance from others. Many have stepped up to provide support. At least two prominent donors faced public criticism for their donation efforts. Popular television cook Rachel Ray donated $1 million specifically to shelters providing disaster relief to animals. Actress Ruby Rose took to Twitter to announce her intention to match donations up to $10,000 for relief to the Montrose LGBT center in Houston.
Follow liberals and anti-Trump conservatives on Twitter and you will often see the accusation that Donald Trump is killing people. For example, here are some recent tweets from three Trump critics:
Pepin Lachance @PepinLachance: @foxand friends @realDonaldTrump GOP and Trump undermining the healthcare of US citizens. They should be ashamed. People will die due to republicans they are killing us.
Gia Sonata @RedGia: @GeorgeTakei @sherrilee7 Oh – Trump is killing people. Slowly. With TrumpCare. Deregulation. FLINT still doesn’t have clean water. “Killing me softly w/his song”
Josh B @joshious: @SenDeanHeller @BillCassidy @LindseyGrahamSC Nevadans will hold you accountable for killing thousands of people and raising healthcare costs for all if you don’t vote NO on Trumpcare!
Repealing Obamacare would certainly lead to deaths. Twenty to 30 million people would lose their health insurance under the various repeal-and-replace bills that were considered by Congress in July. Loss of health insurance would mean less healthcare, and less healthcare would mean more deaths. But we could just say Trump will be letting people die, if he fulfills his pledge to end Obamacare. Should we go further and say he’ll be killing people?