Emma Watson on Gender Equality

Emma Watson, renowned actress and social activist, recently reflected at One Young World in Ottawa on the difficulties involved with becoming a public figure in the “cause for equality”.

She addressed the audience, consisting of influential young adults from a variety of fields and countries, saying that she never thought she would call herself an activist. “The truth is,” she explained, “it had never been about being an activist; it was about the choice to make myself visible”.

Watson recalled numerous threats after first addressing the issue of gender equality, describing the period afterwards as a “baptism of fire”. Despite this, she did not retract her statements or step out of the spotlight, citing her belief that gender equality is as important or more important than other issues because it intersects with such a wide range of topics.

Weekly News Comment #11

The New York Times recently reported on an eleven minute blackout of President Trump’s Twitter account. Just before 7pm the Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump appeared to no longer exist. Eleven minutes later the account re-appeared and only an hour later the President was tweeting again as if nothing had happened.

While the New York Times provides a fair analysis of the situation, showing tweets that are clearly critical of the account and also voicing opposite opinions that suggest that this is an attack on the President and free speech, it also sensationalizes the story somewhat. While the account was only down for eleven minutes, and Twitter released a statement three hours after its conclusion announcing that it was the action of a rogue employee, the story as presented by the Times sounds much more dire than the facts suggest.

While this is probably satire, it does raise the point that never before has a nation as large as the United States been so affected by a single social media account as now. Regardless of whether this is for better or worse, it is something that has a major effect on the way media is perceived, and poses a potential threat to established media outlets like the Times. If, as suggested by one of the tweets cited in the story, Twitter is a way for the President (and presumably other politicians) to circumvent the “mainstream media” and target their audience directly, this could explain the Times’ dismissive and somewhat exaggerated coverage of the story.

Vandalism at Morningside College

First impressions are as important for places as they are people, and depending on how you approach Morningside College the first impression you get is “under construction”.After several letters were stolen from a sign showing the name of the college in front of the Eppley Parking Lot, the school decided to remove the rest of the letters. The reason for this decision was both to prevent further theft and to prepare the sign for possible renovation so that letters cannot be easily stolen in the future, a step that has already been taken with other signs around campus.

According to Brett Lyon, director of safety and security at Morningside College, vandalism is something that happens at every college campus. “People feel the need to take letters off signs,” he explained, which can cost the college thousands of dollars to replace. That’s thousands of dollars that could be spent improving the campus, but instead goes into replacing things that are broken or stolen by vandals who are sometimes not even students at the college.

Unless there are clear leads to investigate, it is difficult for campus security to follow up on these crimes. Though the damage is usually noticed by the following morning, without witnesses there is often no reasonable line of investigation and focus is instead shifted to repairing the damage.

Lyon concluded by stating that, with so many students living on campus for so many months out of the year, Morningside College is like a second home. “No one destroys their home,” he said, wishing that everyone took pride in their campus and made an effort to make it a nicer place.

While the college will eventually replace the sign with a more vandal-proof alternative, budgetary concerns are an obvious limiting factor. For now the blank sign stands in mute testimony to the damage that vandals can cause to the image of a college.

An Interview with Alex Watters

As the Q&A session started, Alex Watters began pacing back and forth across the front of the classroom in his motorized wheelchair. A few questions in to the interview he noted the humor in the situation, “I always find it ironic that I’m paralyzed but I can’t sit still.”

Watters is a first year advisor at Morningside College, a position that he takes some amount of pride in. “I’m living the dream,” he said, “just not the dream I ever envisioned.”

He sought the position at Morningside in part because of how the school accommodated him after a diving accident that left him paralyzed during his Freshman year. He noted that, while many buildings were not accessible by wheelchair, when he returned the school relocated all his classes to the buildings that were.

Although he appreciates the position he currently has at the college, particularly the fact that it allows him to help students adjust to college and watch them overcome obstacles that he knows they struggle with, he doesn’t intend to be an advisor forever. He explained that he feels one of the best ways to be useful in an organization is to constantly evolve, and joked that before long he’ll be president of the college.

While perhaps not something he plans in the immediate future, Watters explained that he could see himself occupying the position someday. He believes that Morningside has a lot of improvements to make when it comes to accessibility. While he understands that budget can get in the way of many of these projects, he noted the example of an automatic door that leads to the Mustang Grill, which is only accessible by traversing two sets of stairs. He contrasted this with the fact that there is no automatic door at the Lincoln Center, which is frequently used for public events, and explained that it would surely save money and help the community a great deal to simply relocate the equipment to a more sensible location.

Weekly News Comment #4

The United States is suffering from a major opioid epidemic, and as pointed out by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, the “Lock ’em up and throw away the key” strategy that has been used in the past is not a viable solution.

A recent Vox article highlighted the Governor’s stance, that he voiced in February, and points out recent legislation he has signed that increases the punishment on opioid related crimes. The bill, HB 333, “increased penalties for trafficking heroin below 2 grams to five to 10 years in prison, up from one to five years.

The article then goes on to point out that this is not uncommon for American politicians. Despite the cliché response to the crisis, that the problem can’t be solved simply through mass arrests, lawmakers have reverted back to the old strategies of increasing punishments for those involved in the drug trade, both users and sellers.

At least 16 states have recently passed “tough on crime” laws, imposing new or tougher penalties on opioid use and trafficking, and lengthening prison sentences for those who sold or shared drugs that resulted in a fatal overdose.

Though this approach is made with the intention of decreasing opioid use and subsequently decreasing the number of deaths associated with overdoses, is that research shows this approach to the problem doesn’t work.

The most simple and obvious reason for this is that these drug war policies have been in place for decades, and the current opioid epidemic has occurred despite their enforcement. In addition, since the 80s the price of heroin per gram has dropped by more than 85%, while the number of drug dealers behind bars has increased by a factor of 30, according to drug policy expert Mark Kleiman.

Despite the best efforts of police departments and lawmakers to combat the drug epidemic, their strategy is wrong. As the statistics and expert opinions in the Vox article show, arresting more users and dealers does little to stop the epidemic itself, and only serves to ruin the lives of its victims with excessive sentences and criminal records.

Plane to Omaha Crashes Near Chicago

A United Airlines jet carrying 61 people crashed near Chicago’s Second City Airport on Friday Afternoon, resulting in at least 42 fatalities at the time of reporting.

One of the victims of the crash was identified by the Cook County Coroner as Rep. George W. Collins, D-Ill., who was on a return trip from Washington.

Holy Cross Hospital has admitted 16 people from the crash, including the plane’s three flight attendants.

One of the survivors of the crash, Marvin Anderson, from Omaha, reported that “The last words the pilot said… were, ‘We are at 4,000 feet and everything is going well’ I knew something was wrong a few seconds later because he began to rev the engines.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the crash. The Board already had several officials in Chicago, conducting hearings into a recent commuter train crash that claimed 45 lives last month.

Boat Capsizes Near Ormond Beach

A 16-foot catamaran capsized yesterday, leading to one death and the hospitalization of another student from Armstrong Aeronautical University.

The boat capsized around 5 pm according to Randy Cohen, one of the students who went sailing. The students were left stranded at sea with no life jackets, hanging on to the boat’s pontoons through the night.

At dawn they decided to swim back to shore at Ormond Beach, a four mile journey through rough waters.

Cohen, who was swimming in front of Christy Wapniarski, reported hearing Wapniarski call for help on their way back to shore. She claimed she was being attacked by a shark.

By the time Cohen reached Wapniarski, she was unconscious. Cohen reported seeing no sign of a shark. He put his arms around her shoulders and began helping her to shore.

Daniel Perrin, another student, checked Wapniarski’s pulse and reported that she had died, but Cohen refused to let her go until he became exhausted and had no other choice.

By the time they reached the shore Cohen had been bitten by dozens of Portuguese men-of-war, and is now hospitalized at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach. The other two students were examined at the hospital and released.

Lede Exercise 1

Fire Fighter Saves Cat Stuck in Tree, Breaks Leg After Fall

Fire fighter Bob Harwood is doing “just fine” after a 15 foot fall from an oak tree and a broken leg suffered during a cat rescue mission.

Harwood is recovering at St. Lukes Hospital after the fall, caused by a dead limb breaking and sending him and the cat tumbling to the ground. The cat suffered no injuries, having landed safely on top of the firefighter.

The calico cat, belonging to twins Suzanne and Samantha Decker, climbed the 50 foot oak tree at 102 11th Ave., prompting the recovery effort.