A New Era in India

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Throughout history, social change usually comes about by first passing laws that acknowledge the existence of a minority group. Once something is in writing, people will slowly begin to accept it as the new way that society will function. This is how it occurred first for African-Americans, and then for women.

In India, a new law that recognizes transgender people as a third gender is opening the door of acceptance for the Indians that usually live on the fringes of society, ostracized due to their gender identity.

The law will allow Indians the option to check “other” on ballot forms. Moreover, jobs and educational institutions will have to meet a quota for transgender people as with other minorities.

This is the start of allowing people more leeway in deciding not only who they want to like, but what they want to express themselves as. It makes it so that they will not get penalized for their decisions or feel the need to hide.

To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. -Nelson Mandela

India is definitely taking a step towards ensuring the freedom of a previously displaced part of its society.

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Reality TV shows are so popular today that their cast members get treated like celebrities. With celebrity status comes news coverage on everything from tripping to getting a dog.

Moreover, with celebrity status comes the unavoidable criticism for minor things.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were on the April cover of Vogue. This apparently did not sit too well with readers, as editor Anna Wintour received plenty of backlash.

Yahoo news covered the story by citing both the criticism from the Internet, including Twitter posts, and the editor’s response to the criticism.

Dailymail.co.uk also choose to cover the controversy, but it was clear that the article was more concerned about appearances than the actual “issue” at hand.

A news source can be judged by the way that it handles gossip surrounding celebrities. The more reputable news sources choose not to engage in the controversy by simply stating the facts.

Fox news just wrote about the news. So did USA Today and Time.

This is probably the best and least biased way to deal with the news.

One Twitter poster said it best:

Calm down everyone mad about the vogue cover. Know what you should be mad about? LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD.

 

How to destabilize a country

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On February 29, 2004, the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was taken out of office with a US sponsored military coup, supported by France and Canada.

Several months later, Marc Sanssoucis came to America and had to repeat the fifth grade, due to the four months of school he missed while violence was rampant throughout the country during the time Aristide was in office.

People wanted Aristide out of office, and this resulted in internal conflict in the country.

Sanssoucis remembers the president getting supporters from the young.

“He gave guns to kids 10 to 15 years old,” Sanssocuis said.

They were uprooting the country, shooting and robbing random people, he continued.

Aristide’s supporters were accused of various human rights abuses, including police corruption and attacks on free speech. So, the rebels grouped together as a makeshift army. The people accused Aristide of corruption and they wanted him out. He relied on violence, intimidation, and fraud to maintain power.

All of this violence caused Haiti to be in shambles, and at the tender age of 10, Sanssoucis had to learn how violence could disrupt a country.

“It was terrible because nobody could go to school,” Sanssoucis said. “The country was upside down.”

Sanssoucis said that it was really hard for the students and the teachers to get to school. It was even harder to communicate.

“Right now, everybody has a phone,” Sanssoucis said. “Back then, you couldn’t call the school. It was tough.”

A normal day involved staying in the house, he continued. Curfew was at 6 p.m.

“There were rumors that the Haitians would look for people to kill,” Sanssoucis said. “If you were a student, they would be against you.”

The instability in the region is still going on, as the country has yet to find a president that will be able to bring stability to the country.

A Religious War

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War is very complicated. Often tensions are are already prevalent in a particular region, due to religious or ethnic differences, and then they suddenly boil over.

Background of Nigeria’s Civil War:

  • Side A- Armed Forces of the Nigerian Government
  • Side B- Northern Nigera Islamic fundamentalists
  • Goal of Side A- keep the country unified
  • Goal of Side B- establish a separate country in northern Nigeria where the sharia legal system is the law

When former president Musa Yar’adua, a Muslim from the North, died in office in 2010 and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the South, finished the term, northern Muslims were not happy.

They were especially not happy when their candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, lost to Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election. They promised to make the country “ungovernable” for him.

They are very organized, operating as an army and wreaking havoc across Nigeria, killing hundreds of civilians. It is apparent that they have the upper hand, and the government is failing to protect its’ citizens.

Their primary goal is to instill the Muslim religion in Nigeria.

Something that I find interesting is that they say they are killing for their god, Allah.

He recounted and attributed the many victories his group has had over the Nigerian Armed Forces to Allah’s help. He described how the bodies of Nigerian soldiers and civilians were strewn everywhere on the ground after his group’s Bama military barrack’s attack. He said; “Had Allah allowed us to eat them we would have eaten them . . . As for killing, we will kill (for) Allah, if he says we should decapitate, we should amputate the limbs, we should mutilate.”

It is unfortunate that something that means so much to people (religion) could be used to cause so much misfortune. Words of the Bible, the Quran, or any other religious book are twisted to fit the ideologies of the different parties. Religion is supposed to unify, but instead it divides. Hate shouldn’t spring from something meant to show people how to love. “Religious war” should be an oxymoron, but the Islamic fundamentalists proudly say that this war has nothing to do with poverty, corruption, or leadership- it is strictly religious.

Race to the Deathbed

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Nine out of ten doctors prefer Camel cigarettes. Doesn’t it sound idiotic to say that today?

“GM crops are probably safer than conventional plants, according to the Environment Secretary.”

I can only guess how stupid we will sound 20 years from now.

Owen Paterson, environment secretary for Europe, touts the health benefits of GM crops, also noting that the rest of the world is accepting GM crops with open arms and Europe risks being left behind. 

He really shouldn’t cite the U.S. for reference on healthy ingredients, since we allow aspartame in our diet soft drinks and azodicarbonamide in our Subway bread.

Paterson said that GM crops are safer than conventional plants and food and that there is no case of any adverse affect on human health.

Let’s take into account the fact that GM crops really just made their debut. The fact of the matter is, there has not been enough time to allow for long-term studies on the effects of genetically modified crops.

Back to reality, shall we?

GM crops require expensive chemicals and machines, they will make poor farmers even more poor, they add pollution to soil and water, and will create stronger bugs and weeds resistant to their internal toxins.

In addition, they will kill bees and butterflies (which could lead to a collapse in the food supply), reduce biodiversity, and if we finally do decide to stop growing them, they would have already affected the normal crops.

Most of all, however, there is no extensive study telling us whether or not they are safe to eat.

It is also important to note that an oligopoly dominates the GM crop industry, so you can’t trust all the information that is being put out. Remember, at one point in time cigarettes were cure-alls. 

Let’s not trust people with our health who stand to make a profit.

No equality for you!

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It looks like someone in an authority seat is finally taking a stand against the injustices that gay-rights activists have to face. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided that he will not march in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

For some background knowledge, the parade is kind of a big deal. It is the world’s oldest and largest parade.

De Blasio said he disagrees with the exclusion of certain individuals in his city. Specifically, he is referring to the LGBT community.

The organizers of the parade do not allow gay-rights groups or marchers with gay-pride signs to participate. Apparently, doing so would contradict the colonial, Roman Catholic heritage of the event. 

The Roman Catholic church opposes marriage equality and views homosexual acts as a sin.

In essence, the religion is excluding people, even though it touts love, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Reuters choose to cover this topic by giving a quick summary of the events, not delving too much into either side, while the New York Times gave more insight into the history of the parade, including former mayors’ actions in the parade, criticism of  de Blasio’s decisions, and quotes from both sides of the issue. This may be because the issue is closer to home for the New York Times, so its readers may want more information.

Regardless of where the information is obtained from, the fact remains that an organization continually excludes members of its community from participating in a long-standing tradition. It makes them have to hide who they really are.

De Blasio is the first New York mayor in 20 years that will not walk in the parade.

The Catholic Church may preach love, but they teach hate.

Unexpected Friendship and an Unexpected Leader

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In life, there are often places that we are sure to meet people and make friends. Sports, despite its competitive nature, is one of these places. Often times we meet our friends through unusual circumstances. This is how the friendship between Philip Boit, from Kenya, and Bjorn Daehlie, from Norway, formed.

Boit and Daehlie both competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Daehlie was the favorite to win, as he is considered the world’s most successful cross-country skier. Boit, on the other hand, was the first Kenyan to compete at the Winter Olympics.

Weather conditions were not in their favor that day, as it rained. Boit, who only first saw snow two years prior to the event, had trouble skiing on wet snow and fell down a lot.

The crowd cheered Boit on, so much so that he said he felt like he was winning a medal– even though he finished last.

Daehlie, though finishing first, waited for 20 minutes in the freezing weather to embrace Boit when he finished the race.

This is how the friendship between Boit and Daehlie began. Boit named his first child after Daehlie, and the two families frequently visit each other. The pair also ski together in charity competitions and trained together in Greenland.

It is great to see that despite their different backgrounds, Boit and Daehlie were able to develop a friendship. Both athletes, however, affected the world in different ways. Bjorn has won more medals (12), and more gold medals (8), than any other winter athlete, and Boit had a major effect on the Kenyans. He came home to a welcome fit for a king. Even though he told them he finished last, they were just proud that he was the only Kenyan there.

He paved the way for more Africans to venture into winter sports. He is considered a pioneer. The fact that he competed at all, makes a difference and inspires other Africans to compete.

On the way to the top, leaders are often encountered with backlash. Instead of focusing on the positive fact that more Africans are venturing into winter sports like the BBC did, the Guardian choose to focus on the negatives. The Guardian referred to Boit as a “wannabe,” competing in a sport he had never seen before. The Guardian also referred to the other Africans that were inspired by Boit as “equally incompetent.”

Are people from different countries expected to only compete in Olympic Games that their country is used to? Africans should stick to the Summer Olympics, and Europeans should stick to the Winter Olympics. We have to stop this racist behavior, because that is what it is at its core. An athlete is an athlete, no matter where they are from. Boit was at a disadvantage, but that did not stop him from getting out there and trying. That is the first step to making an impact, which he did. Instead of focusing on the fact that he lost, we have to realize that a new day is coming where athletes from different backgrounds will compete in the Olympic game of their choice, because they can and because it is the 21st century. It is such a shame that the Guardian let its reporters report with such venom in their key strokes.

This goes to show that you cannot make everybody happy and on the way to the top, you are bound to encounter people who not only don’t have anything useful to say, but that are afraid of change.

Well, Guardian, get ready—because change is coming.