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Advanced Essay #4_ Environment and Change

My goal for this paper was to explore in depth my question which was, how does a world different from our norm compel us to commit violent acts? I was curious to explore other ways other than soldiers changing. This is one goal that I was able to accomplish. I was able to read an article on feminism which held the same ideas that I had developed after watching Zimbardo's TED talk. I think I was able to go through this piece with a lot of organization. I was able to fully understand how I could connect all of my research to my piece and from there I chose the strongest sources and quotes. I believe that through the peer-editing process I was able to get even more analysis out of my piece. I decided to end my piece with the story of the image because I had gotten really caught up in making a story with the image and it had helped me build my thesis for this paper.

As the war continues, two brothers take cover. They hide in their home, watching through the crack in the door. Hoping and waiting for the day when the war will end. They wait for the time they will be safe. The older brother positions himself in front of the younger brother, shielding him from any harm that may come. Their eyes tell a story. A story of loss, a loss of family and a loss of hope. They watch with saddened eyes as their home get torn apart by the soldiers and rebels. The younger brother is filled with more hope than his older brother. The younger brother is still innocent and does not understand what the war means or what is occurring. The older brother is weighed down by the reality of this war and has trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. As each second passes we can see them age. Each bullet fired adds a year to their age.   

On March 2003, United States soldiers in a prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq began to torture and abuse the Iraqi detainees. Images were released in January of 2004 and an investigation was underway to determine who the abusers were. Some of these graphic images depicted a woman soldier holding a prison with a dog leash. What caused these seven soldiers to commit such violent acts cannot be explained. Susan Sontag writes “No: the horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken -- with the perpetrators posing, gloating, over their helpless captives.”

Sontag brings up a key point, the horror not only was in the image but the fact that these soldiers took these photographs and posed for them. Humans can be thought of as sculptures made of clay. Everywhere we go and everything we do and see done changes our shape. Environment molds us into a different shape. Humans are very influential and easily misguided to do things they would not do in their “natural habitat.” Abu Ghraib was an environment that challenged these seven soldiers and challenged who they were and their morals. It only took one to change for the rest of them to succumb to the environments changes. We see many instances where people change their environment and often turn out happier and prosper in this new environment. So it’s shocking for us to hear and see an environment break a person. What’s most shocking however is the degree at which Abu Ghraib changed these soldiers.

Abu Ghraib is only one of many examples of environments changing us and our natural sense of right and wrong. Kim Turcot DiFruscia wrote a piece on feminism and spoke about the same issues that we see occur in war. However, the war she writes about is not a war fought with weapons like guns and explosives, this war is fought with words of hate and oppression of the opposite sex. DiFruscia writes “In many situations you cannot decipher which particular individual has this specific responsibility because it is the coming together of various forces that produces a particular action.” She states that “various forces” cause a “particular action” to occur. We cannot determine how an individual will react to a situation. We do not know what has occurred previous to this action therefore we cannot determine the outcome of their reaction. We cannot determine how they will be forever changed. Later on in her article she writes “Not by escaping, but by assimilating the violence and weaving your life in it.” One never gets rid of all the violence and pain they have endured. Instead they learn to live with this pain and they learn to mold it into something that is beneficial to them. How one takes this violence and how they mold it is completely dependent on the “coming together of various forces.” In some ways this relates to post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, something very common among soldiers coming back from war. We cannot always point out who suffers from PTSD but this is because there are varying degrees of this disorder. Some soldiers learn to weave this disorder into their life and others try to escape it.

Our surroundings affect us and who we become more than we tend to realize. People who grow up in and move to war zones change and become shaped by their environment. We hear many stories about soldiers doing things that are not what we would consider normal., such as the horrifying acts committed by the soldiers in charge of the prison in Abu Ghraib. We tend to ask ourselves how can this occur? We know these people and know their characters. They could never commit such acts. But a world so different from our norms can compel us to commit these violent and sometimes horrifying act. If a place can change you for the better, can’t it also change you for the worse?

The younger brother, Armin had fallen asleep, on the cold stone floor. None of their beds were left. Covers were a luxury they could not afford. He watched his younger brother as he slept, as he did every night. He listened to Armin’s soft snores which the older brother, Arya was glad for. He slept so peacefully, almost as if the world they lived in did not exist and as if Arya was the one trapped in a nightmare. Armin turned in his sleep and Arya felt a sinking feeling in his chest when he saw his brothers face. The smooth curve of his nose, the long, dark eyelashes, and the thick eyebrows. All replicas of his own facial features. The only difference between the two brothers was their hair. Armin had short straight hair that barely reached his eyebrows. Arya had thick curly hair that was growing long, almost covering his eyes. Arya was grateful for the home they had left. But he was also left to think about his brother’s innocence and how this war would affect him.  

Work Cited:

DiFruscia, Kim Turcot. Listening to Voices. An Interview with Veena Das(n.d.): n. pag. Web. 10 Mar.

2016. <>.

Sontag, Susan. "Regarding The Torture Of Others." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22

May 2004. Web. 10 Mar. 2016. <>.

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Advance Essay #4 : Leader's Authority

Going into this particular unit, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I found that starting off with Tim O'Brien's story, Things We Carried, it gave me the feel of what I wanted to write about. At first, differentiating storytelling and truth, was a huge interest that I had. But then, when I came across an article in Yes! Magazine, the story behind a chief changing and improving a city known of high crimes and homicides, I found that I would and could go off in many directions discussing leaderships and power. And after discussing my idea with Mr. Block and my table mates, I found that it was great topic to write about. With that being said, below is my piece touching upon leaderships, authority, change, and more. 

The angry crowd continued to roar as a staff leader and assistant gave their speech. Citizens, disappointed and acrimonious, continued to stand for their submit. A man, standing far back, reflecting upon the crowd, is holding a sign, “Put the System on Trial”. With the plan of moving forward, the crowd is not satisfied. A few heads are drawn elsewhere while others capture the moment taken on their devices. The rage continues, having the leader to project her voice even with the use of a megaphone. With stern look, the city has made a decision, leaving citizens oblivious and unpleased.

In this world of power, greed, and destruction, we live our everyday lives following the law’s that Congress agreed to put against society. But not everybody follows. It is clear that we have a group who follow and stick to the law, but then we have those who break and go against it. And reality proves that people do not follow.

With the question, how does the authority of a leader affect a population? Yes! Magazine, writes and touches upon the issue with . According to the Police Violence is Not Inevitable article, a police chief, Magnus, who originally stationed in Fargo, North Dakota, was authorized to take role in one of the most high crime rating cities, Richmond, California. With his six month success as chief in Fargo, city officials took risk in wanting to replicate that success where Magnus can greater the community and lower the ratings of homicides. Being that Fargo is known as the safest and whitest place in America, the switch on Magnus having to flee to Richmond with diverse races, it gave him an opportunity to test his power.

Magnus, noticing the lack of engagement in the neighborhoods, suggested that policemen should spend less time in their cop cars and more time on their feet. He later found that by hiring a diversity of officers, it benefited the community.

“‘When you have a department that doesn’t look anything like the community it serves, you’re asking for trouble, no matter how dedicated and professional your employees are,’ he says. ‘So an ongoing mission for us here is to hire the highest-quality people that represent that diversity of the community, across the board. I don’t even just mean from racial, ethnic, or gender standpoint. I mean in terms of life experiences, being connected to neighborhoods, growing up either Richmond or cities like Richmond.’”

Therefore, having a majority of one race can cause trouble that many do not see. As wrong as it sounds, having the same background as to the residences, it releases (what can be) tension and fear because they are around their own kind. With that being said, Magnus’s power in improving Richmond, it’s given the city a benefit of decreasing the rate of homicides. Sadly and shortly enough, a out break on a shooting occurs .

“On September 14, a fatal encounter took place between Wallace Jensen, an officer on foot patrol, and 24-year-old Richard Perez III. Already on probation for a previous gun incident, Perez was intoxicated and resisted arrest after a liquor store clerk reported that he had been shoplifting. According to the responding officer, Perez tried to wrestle his gun away. The three bullets fired at Perez resulted in Richmond’s first deadly “officer-involved shooting” since 2007. Some in the victim’s family wondered why the officer failed to use his Taser or nightstick to subdue Perez. The family retained a civil rights lawyer, who has threatened to sue the city.”

Many, like his family, question the reasoning for the shooting. Jensen could have used any other weapon to threaten Perez, instead he went for the weapon that caused to jump to conclusion. But then you have a side where many would say it was self-defense. At the end of the day, there will always be two sides, but one decision made. And as far as the system decides to investigate, they choose whether Jensen pays or goes.

With that being said, as much as Richmond risen- from the time Magnus had arrived to the outbreak of the shooting, his ability to heal the city and prevent any harm is absurd. Yet, his leaderships and capability of improving the city was noticed. Because of his duties, he has proven that as a leader, leaders influence. His work has shown that driving a population into a certain direction, its outcome may or may not always work. And as far as preventing harm in the community, he has shown that his power is to guide but it may not always end in his favor.

Work Cited

"Police Violence Is Not Inevitable: Four Ways a California Police Chief Connected Cops With Communities." YES! Magazine. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

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Advanced Essay #4 The Cause of Gun Violence

While writing this piece, I started off on Militarization. From militarization, I found some sources and tried to create a pro-militarization argument, but it kept getting back to guns. After having a conference with Mr. Block, I narrowed my focus from the general militarization to Police Militarization, and guns v. violence in America. This was also stopping me from finishing the piece; and I submitted the annotated bibliography late. I needed a resolution. I found that mental health was an important aspect in the gun rights argument, so with Mr. Block's advice, I made an argument that more effort should be put toward mental health institutions to prevent crime. I kept argument of arming police forces because I found that it ties into my essay very well. I really enjoyed writing this piece, and hope you enjoy reading it just as much! Please note that the Essential Question I used was the following: "In what different ways is militarism engrained in our society?"

The Cause of Gun Violence

In this modern age, there is much discussion on the place of weapons in society. Some argue that the display and usage of powerful weapons may be detrimental, due to appearance of these weapons in the hands of police officers, and civilians alike. It is reflected in many studies that the presence, or usage of civilian firearms do not have a direct correlation to increased violence, sometimes even leading to reduced violence. Even in the most restricted states, many crimes occur with legally-bought firearms. When examining these cases more deeply, a trend is revealed: mentally-ill perpetrators. In order to better protect against these attacks, arming police forces with military weaponry and vehicles would only benefit society. While some may argue that gun bans or such are beneficial, these proposals would only limit the Second Amendment, while crime continues. The only true way for society to reduce crime would be to improve access to treatment for mentally-ill individuals, and improve the armament of our police forces.
First, allowing law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms does not create violence. The areas where there are more guns may even have less rates of crime and violence. In a Harvard University study, the following data were shown “...violent crime did not increase with increased gun ownership nor did it decline in periods in which gun ownership was lower.” This quote clearly shows that guns, in have not caused an increase or decrease in violence. The key words “violent crime did not increase with increased gun ownership” make the point that areas with higher gun ownership typically do not have more violence than those with lower gun ownership. In fact, areas with more restrictive policies toward gun ownership seem to have more violence. This is shown by data from research in European countries. In Russia, gun ownership is at a rate of 4000 guns per 100,000 people. The number of murders in Russia are 20.54 per 100,000 people. While these numbers may seem small, this is very large compared to, say Macedonia. 16,000 individuals in Macedonia, out of 100,000, own guns. The murder rate in Macedonia 2.31 per 100,000 people. This data shows that a more militarized society, one with more weapons, is safer than one with less weapons. When using both statements in conjunction, one can come to the realization that more guns may actually equal less crime.
After a heist in North Hollywood, California, there has been an influx of military-grade weapons to the police forces. On February 28, 1997, when police responded to the terror attacks, they were met with a group of two heavily armed criminals. It is now know that “They were dressed in black coveralls and ski masks. They were bulked up by 40 pounds of body armor and carried select-fire Kalashnikov rifles, handguns, an HK-91, and fully auto AR-15.” This type of armament was not expected by police, who were armed with standard issue, 9mm caliber pistols and light Kevlar vests. It is important to note that select-fire means that a weapon can fire in both semi- and fully- automatic. This is critical because all firearms sold to civilians are limited to semi-automatic only, meaning that they had been converted by the attackers.
When the police responded, they were unable to contain the threat, and twelve officers and eight civilians were wounded by the robbers. As quoted “At that time, patrol cops' basic armament consisted of semi-automatic pistols and 12-gauge shotguns. While this wasn't the first time patrol officers had been outgunned by professional criminals, patrol officers had never before been engaged in such a protracted, high-intensity firefight.” This further makes it clear that militarization (usage of military gear) of the police forces would have been beneficial in stopping the attackers. When considering the proposed, military-grade weapons that would have been given to the police, the first weapon-system that comes to mind is the AR-15, or M16 variant. This is a 5.56mm rifle platform that can defeat body armor when paired with the correct ammunition. In order to defeat the bank robbers, police actually used AR15 rifles from a nearby gun store, eventually containing the threat. When we consider the benefits of having such a weapon system, it is clear that militarization allows society to be further protected by the police, and gives the police an ability to prevent attacks from happening.
Another example of this is the San Bernardino terrorist attacks that occurred recently. The police response was only four minutes, but 14 civilians were killed. Interestingly, the terrorists were armed with semi-automatic AR-15 rifles, similar to what the North Hollywood shooters used. Over 380 rounds were fired by police, though only 76 were fired by the shooters. The whole ordeal lasted four hours. The terrorists illegally acquired the guns from their neighbor, and modified them. There is a magazine capacity restriction in California, though the terrorists used illegal high capacity ones. They attempted to modify one rifle to fully automatic, and were found with dozens of IED’s and bomb-making materials. They were revealed to have radical beliefs, even aligning with those of mentally ill. Although the terrorists were able to inflict much harm, this was before police had arrived. When forces responded, equipped with military gear, they were quickly able to contain the threat. If the police hadn’t been armed with such weapons, a North Hollywood scenario could have repeated.
Instead of focusing political goals, and funding on restricting the right of the Second Amendment, there should be a focus on mental health in society. In almost all cases, a shooter is often one with a condition that allows them to commit these acts of violence. A case study that explains this is that of Isla Vista, in California. Elliot Rodger shot and stabbed those near the University of California campus, and ended up murdering six. Two key factors to assess in this situation are: 1) gun restrictions, and 2) Affected public health state. This state is defined as the ability for an individual with a mental illness to receive treatment, and prolonged administration of drugs to those with such illness.
California is a state with very restrictive gun legislation. Specific types of firearms restricted include semi-automatic rifles with ‘military-style’ features, including flash hiders, high capacity magazines, and pistol-grips among other things. This is stated California codes §12280, §12285, and §32310 respectively. In order to assess the rating of California from the anti-gun perspective, it received first place, as least friendly to criminals. Along with specific restrictions presented in the codes, it is shown that California is indeed a very restricted state in terms of gun laws. Along with this, California has an ‘F’ rating for affected public health rate. This is defined as a lack of inpatient commitment to treatment, lack of outpatient commitment to treatment, availability of emergency evaluation, and finally, use of laws to prevent crime. As quoted from the Treatment Advocacy Center, “17 states earned a cumulative grade of “D” or “F” for the quality of their laws.” This quote clarifies that the general affected-public health state is low in California, yet also in the rest of the United States.
When one examines this evidence, there is a clear correlation. In this case, California has a very restrictive gun policy, yet a very poor rating for affected-public health rate. Under California's Code Section 5150, as quoted “…a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, [who] is a danger to others, or to himself or herself [a professional may take] the person into custody for a period of up to 72 hours for assessment, evaluation, and crisis intervention, or placement for evaluation and treatment in a facility.” For this law to be applicable to an individual, they must be “a danger to others or to himself.” When determining if Rodgers was a threat, of aforementioned type, they recorded polite and courteous behavior, thus not regarding him as a threat. This behavior prevented police from either searching him for weapons, or detaining him. Due to the prevention of police actions by the law in California, Rodgers was able to open fire on a campus and murder six people.
When looking more detailed at Rodgers, it is shown that the restrictive gun laws did not prevent him from committing murder. Rodgers had passed the Federal Background Check, many other requirements, and legally purchased 3 firearms. In a state with such restrictive laws, it seems incredible that such an act could have occurred. This elucidates the fact that if society puts efforts into restricting firearms, there will generally be no benefit. Instead of preventing crime, millions of law abiding citizens would be restricted their Second Amendment right to self-defense, and yet: mentally ill individuals could still commit acts of terror. This shows that a focus on mental health would be a way to prevent shooting, and crime in general.
Therefore, while some may argue that weapons are detrimental to society, it is clearly not so. In fact, it is shown in countless studies that firearms do not cause violence. Although some may point to appearance of our police forces as an argument, this military gear ensures safety. In many gun-restricted states, crimes occur with firearms, and places where many own firearms tend to have less violence. The perpetrators of mass shootings, and crime in general tend to be mentally-ill. These individuals commit violence even though firearms are heavily regulated. The lack of mental health treatment in these cases is shown to be a direct cause of violence. The only correct way for civilization to reduce crime would be to improve access to treatment for mentally-ill individuals, and to improve the armament of our police forces.

Works Cited

"2013 State Scorecard." Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"Are Mass Killings Associated with Untreated Mental Illness Increasing? - Backgrounder." Treatment Advocacy Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"CA Codes (wic:5150-5155)." Official California Legislative Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

CrimAdvisor. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"How the North Hollywood Shootout Changed Patrol Arsenals - Article - POLICE Magazine." POLICE Magazine - Law Enforcement News, Articles, Videos, Careers & Podcasts. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

McCabe, Bret. "Does the militarization of American police help them serve and protect?" N.p., Web. <>.

"Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms." PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

Notitle. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

NSSF | National Shooting Sports Foundation | Firearms Industry Trade Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"Opinion: The Real Gun Problem is Mental Health, Not NRA .com." CNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"Reports, Studies, Backgrounders." Treatment Advocacy Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"State Survey." Treatment Advocacy Center Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

Treatment Advocacy Center Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"War Gear Flows to Police Departments - The New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

"WOULD BANNING FIREARMS REDUCE MURDER AND SUICIDE?" Harvard Law School. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

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Advanced Essay #4: Guilt and Its Lasting Affect . . .

My goal for this paper is to analyze the way that guilt influences a soldier’s life. Throughout the process of the paper I have learned that the majority, if not all, soldiers suffer from this emotion whether they admit it or not. However, even if soldiers see their time serving this country as a privilege or not, they can all admit that war changes people and the way they think. A new perspective arises and it adds to the person that they are.

Above is a picture of the Vietnam Memorial Wall located in Washington, D.C. A middle aged white male has his hand placed on a wall that states the names of all the soldiers that died during the Vietnam War. The man is looking down toward the floor, his briefcase beside him. On the wall there is a reflection of about five soldiers standing up and one kneeling down, soldiers whose lives were lost staring back at the man. He is on his from work and he has his sleeves rolled up and his suit jacket sits beside him on top of his briefcase. A small American flag is planted into to ground and it hangs low. The man’s face is scrunched up as if he is starting to get emotional and is trying to prevent tears from running down his face. War is an unique concept of conflict that people who have not experienced it can only sympathize and not empathize.

An essay written by Kevin Sites states that ,“Combat is almost always the shortest and smallest part of any conflict, while collateral damage or civil destruction is war’s most enduring legacy.” The guilt that soldier feels will be carried with them forever.  Although they might have pride and have seen it as a privilege to serve their country, it does not take away from the fact that on that journey sacrifices are made not only with your internal being but with the people around you, the people you love the most.

A CBS NEWS article titled I can’t forgive myself states that ,“Like other officers who've spoken about moral injuries, he also feels responsible for deaths that resulted from orders he gave in other missions. The hardest part, Kudo says, is that "nobody talks about it.” This thought goes along with a book titled The Things They Carried  and how they avoided talking about death even though they faced it everyday. The characters in the book would desensitize the tragedies they had to deal with. Humor was often used to downplay the circumstances that they have endured. They used multiple methods in order to avert their thoughts from the adversities that have occurred.  Despite the various methods used, aren’t they all coping mechanisms?

Regardless of the coping mechanism that is used by an individual, if you do not talk about it then it will start haunting you inside. Our soldiers have “wounded souls,” in accordance with the CBS NEWS article mentioned above. Although these “souls” might be repaired they will never return to being the same as they were before. When they leave the war a part of themselves is lost and it can never be recovered. Many people, especially doctors and other medical advisors,  just lump soldiers into the PTSD category but in reality who wouldn’t suffer from that “illness”  if they were not in war, witnessing the deaths of both civilians and criminals everyday and having to be watching it all, if not actually partaking in those actions? No one is fully capable to dismiss those images from their head. These soldiers might not actually be sick, but they are just the product of the wicked environment they have been placed in. A system which undoubtedly causes these effects on them.

 Now what outlets are available in order for people to repair their wounded souls? In article titled Coping with Survivor Guilt & Grief it is reported that, “Guilt is a common reaction to loss and it can ultimately be part of the healing process. However, if it is not addressed, excessive guilt can lead to psychological health concerns, such as depression, apathy or generalized anxiety.” While guilt is usually the emotional reaction to a traumatic event, grief is the actual healing process. When lives are lost , the feeling of one’s humanity automatically decreases.  There needs to be more organizations that promote this healing process in a healthy way that gives drugs as a last resort instead of the first. It becomes difficult to empathize with someone if you never lived through the situation that they have faced. Nevertheless, that does not mean that we should stop trying. We need to understand that this guilt travels with them from war to home to carrying out their daily activities. Most of this guilt is due to the responsibility that soldiers feel for the lives lost both during the war and when they return home and lose contact with other soldiers they have served with. Still, we need to see these emotions as  Mike Felker, Veteran of the U.S. Navy does, he says, “Guilt is the driving force.” Guilt prompts us to continue to discover who we are and helps us stay in tune with our emotions. The acknowledgment of  guilt being present in our minds and hearts helps us grow through self-reflection.

Works Cited

"Coping with Survivor Guilt & Grief." Real Warriors. Defense Centers of Excellence. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. < >.

“ ‘I Can't Forgive Myself'': U.S. Veterans Suffering Alone in Guilt over Wartime Events." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. < >.

Kevin Sites. "How Do Soldiers Live with Their Feelings of Guilt? - Kevin Sites - Aeon Essays." Aeon. Aeon Essays, 09 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. < >.

Major Rebecca Lange. "Service Before Self: Reflections on Military and Civilian Service." The Huffington Post., 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. < >.

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Under Which Circumstances Does Discrimination Lead To Acts of Violence?

I was anticipating a topic like this for our class. I came up with the idea of "does discrimination cause violence" to being and I wanted to write an informative essay, in the form of an editorial. One goal I had was to sue current and past events that covered a wide spectrum of discrimination that led to acts of violence and cover what forms of discrimination were used and specifically how people were manipulated into violent acts. Knowing these events all changed the course of history, I knew that discrimination was the root for their downfalls.

Throughout the history of our world, there have been social outcasts. Social outcasts are groups like your nationality, race or gender where they’re believed to be beneath the other groups. Every society has always had some form of structural discrimination. The problem with discrimination is not just the rise in hate itself, but the brutality that follows. There are hundreds of societies and civilizations that could show how if you don’t fit the profile, expect harm to be done onto you. Discrimination leads to acts of violence under the circumstances of fear, hate, faith, and a structural system which has bent the minds of the oppressors to commit senseless acts of violence.

During the thirty-one year rule of Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican Republic became a very violent place where one man controlled the voices of millions. Trujillo was determined to make his country great, but in his image. His image was being “diminished” by his neighbors in Haiti. At this time, the border between the countries was bending. In order to take complete control of his nation he ordered the execution of all Haitians residing in the Dominican Republic. In order to prove your nationality, people were forced to pronounce the word “Parsley” in Spanish. The hate spun by Rafael Trujillo killed almost 20,000 people. The circumstances that led to this act of violence was a corrupt structured system that ensured this dictator could remain in power.

Worldwide, there is a group that has been discriminated against in the name of fear and faith. Since civilization had begun, being gay was condemned, often by those who believe that being gay is “immoral.” Worldwide the act of homosexuality has been scrutinized to the point where a person’s sexual orientation has led to attacks, imprisonment, killings and discrimination. In our own country, over 15% of registered hate crimes are for homosexuality. In our own city, the stance inherited from hate led to two gay men being attacked in 2015. Up until 1973, those were who were gay were labeled as mentally ill; which led to “curing and treatments” to remove your sexuality. Some treatments featured electrical shock and prayer. It is a shame that we live in a world where some find happiness and that happiness is labeled as an illness. In many nations, acts of homosexuality are crimes, which have led to gays remaining silent. In Uganda, acts of homosexuality leave you with long prison sentences, life in prison, you can even be charged with the death penalty. Concerning homosexuality, hate, fear, faith and the system have led to discrimination of gays which has led to generations of violence for equal rights.

The United States was founded with a disgraceful institution by the name of slavery. Slavery had a successor, segregation. Segregation was an institution that built a privilege for whites and discriminated persons of color. Equal rights were not present in this time if in the means of access to services or in the justice system. This form of discrimination was dismissed legally which led to violent acts that were often also dismissed. Lynching was a form of killing violently used by the public to often prove a point. Lynchings happened for rape, murder and even something as little as an insult. Lynching became an epidemic, used for petty rseason which left thousands dead, mostly blacks. Nearly 73% of people lynched before it was outlawed were black. This form of violence came under the circumstances of hate and a system that promoted this form of violence. When you don’t enforce the law it is exploited and it was done during the lynching era.

Discrimination exists today, there are countless modern examples but none hit as close to home as Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a famous businessman for his antics and has a reckless reputation. He carries that same rap on his campaign trail, where his unique stances on various demographic and political issues have raised an eyebrow. He has many many critics who oppose him. In Chicago, there were tens of thousands who successfully shut his rally down chanting “We Stumped Trump.” But his momentum grows despite the violence he has brought. There have been brawls, threats and a stalemate from his following and foes. Donald Trump has used fear to incite violence. How? He says he would attack his protesters, and threatening that Americans are endangered unless they believe in his cause. In a democracy, violence can’t be promoted by leadership.

When fear, hate, faith and a failing system permit and ignore discrimination, people lead into actions of violence. Acts of violence are built up inside somebody from these factions, in a society that too often disregards discrimination. To use false rhetoric and allow discrimination, we can do nothing but expect heinous acts of violence. These acts change society because when you release this discrimination we restrict everyone’s ability to think and speak freely, which means we are no longer working towards a peaceful world.

MLA Cites:
""I Have a Dream"" Archives. Government. Web. 10 Mar. 2016. <>.
Lynching Statistics." Chestnut Archive. Charles Chestnut Digital Archive, 29 Jan. 1999. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
"Transcript: Hear Harvey Milk's The Hope Speech." Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Museum of Fine Arts. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
"Trujillo." Trujillo. Web. 10 Mar. 2016. < was rafael leonidas trujillo.html>.
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Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is very dangerous and most people know that if something has high amounts of lead, they should probably steer clear of it. Even with that not many people know why that is the case. Lead is a very dangerous element because of how reactive it is. It replaces metals such as zinc in iron in the chemical reactions that take place in our body. While they do replace metals in chemicals they also cause genes to be turned on and off which can have catastrophic effects on the body. It also inhibits proteins such as the ones related to the control of blood pressure and sperm production in males. It accumulates in the body so lead poisoning can take place over years and gets worse if not treated. The effects of lead poisoning include decreased bone and muscle growth, poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system kidneys, and/or hearing, speech and language problems, developmental delay, seizures, and unconsciousness. Many of these side affects are associated with children because they are undergoing several critical periods which lead poisoning interferes with.

Children are more susceptible and are more likely to get it because of the frequency at which they put things in their mouth. Some toys and even paint chips which contain lead and it is not uncommon for children to have to go to the emergency room because of it. The government tries to hide the level of lead in products which parents need to know to protect their children. The most recent scandal involving the government hiding their knowledge of lead was in Flint, Michigan. The city had lead their water for 2 years before the people knew about it and while the government did know they did nothing about. According to a study done at Virginia Tech where they took water samples from homes in Flint, Michigan the 90th percentile of their samples contained 25 parts per a billion as opposed to the EPA's legal limit of 15. The citizens are now reacting and are asking for those who are responsible to be held accountable. People all across the country are now checking their water for lead content with a surprising amount finding them high.

Personally I don't think Philly would ever let itself have this much of a lead problem. What I could envision is a small accident that they don't catch in time to warn the people who use the water of what is happening. Lead poisoning is of greatest concern in factories as many electronics use lead. In China, there are also several children who work in factories and are very susceptible to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can easily be prevented by educating people about it.

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E1 U5 Aden

Aden's poem (1)

creativita, hermano, contento.

Veo ciudad edificio.

Oigo construcción.

Huelo la playa las vacaciones.

Saboreo yo no gusto el sabor eneo la manana.

Toco jubilo.

Como en las celebraciones.

Nosotros vamos a sitios diferente en vacaciones.

Mama y papa preocupase para mi.

Yo paso el rato con amigos y hermano.

Nosotros vamos a st. thomas para vacaciones.


E1U5: Mi Vida - Shilo Kendall

Mi Vida

Soy Yo

Los recuerdos desde mi infancia

Los llevo siempre conmigo

La hija de mis padres

Mi mascota de mi hermana mayor

Veo los colores de las pinturas

Saboreo dulces y pasteles

Oigo los sonidos de música y risotada

Huelo las velas y comidas

Toco el pelo de mi mascota  

Viajar, nunca voy a olvidarlo

Nado en los lagos de Wisconsin

Corro con los venados

Balio con los árboles de Ohio

Somos productos de Filadelfia

Vivo en Filadelfia

Hablamos inglés

La lengua de música y cultura

No somos Centro Americanos

No somos Costarricenses

Somos Americanos

Y somos orgullosos

Music provided by Orion
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5 Minute of Science

                      Sarcasm is Good for You. Seriously

The Science in Sarcasm

A joint study carried out from Harvard, Columbia and the European Business school, INSEAD, recently in 2015 published their work on how sarcasm expands the creative mind. The highlighted statement of their research basically says that by using sarcasm, creativity is promoted through abstract thinking for both the speaker and the listener. And although sarcasm might cause conflict, especially when there is not a stable relationship between the two, the content of the sarcasm does not affect the increase of creativity. Constructing and understanding sarcasm involves an intricate and complex connections between different parts of the brain. But in general, the left hemisphere of the brain understands the literal meaning while the right take in the implied meaning of a sarcastic comment. Then the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex connects the two understandings and figures which meaning is meant.     


Sarcasm is often used in conversations. It's a way people can entwine humor into something more serious but often, it can cause conflict and hurt feelings. Workplaces discourage it’s use due to certain consequences it could led to. Communication experts and marriage counselors find this form of language destructive and disapprove it’s use while some others believe it’s pure meanness concealed. However, recent research allowing society to perceive sarcasm in a new light by presenting how it stimulates creativity has created news and talk. Now as we’re move forward into a modern time, the use of sarcasm is also becoming more widespread, but there are still those who adhere to its old beliefs.     


This topic stuck out to me because it’s interesting and it’s true. I’ve always seen sarcastic people to be very creative communicating their messages. So it makes perfect sense that using sarcasm exercises distinct parts of the brain and helps people be more creative. Concurrently, I also agree with people who find the language destructive, I can see and understand why sarcasm should not be used. There just needs to be more caution when using it. People should exercise communicating through creative remarks and make each other laugh.  

Sarcasm Is Good For You. Seriously. (2015, September 9). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from 

Pazzanese, C. (2015, July 24). Go ahead, be sarcastic. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from 

 Huang, Li, Gino Francesca, and Adam D. Galinsky. The Highest Form of Intelligence: Sarcasm Increases Creativity for Both Expressers and Recipients. Elsevier, 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. < Files/Huang Gino Galinsky OBHDP 2015_f4efb1e9-b842-4764-a292-ac4836c29cb2.pdf>.  

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Mycorrhiza and the Wood Wide Web

    Mycelia is the body of a fungus that connects to roots of plants. Mushrooms are just the reproductive part of the fungus as flowers are to plants. There are many different subcategories of mycelia and for this post I will be focussing more or less exclusively on mycorrhiza. The mycorrhizal connection forms what is referred to as the “wood wide web” and allows trees, shrubs, and plants of all types to share information and nutrients with their neighboring plants. Experiments have shown that carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus can be passed along underground between plants which would account for the survival of small plants on the forest floor which are too deeply shaded to make enough food through photosynthesis.

Experiments have also shown that mycorrhizae are efficient transport systems for chemical messages between plants. One plant can signal others in the vicinity when there is a pest and natural repellents are needed so that others can start producing the needed chemicals before there is a full blown infestation. These are just two of the functions of mycorrhizae that we have discovered. There may be even more. We do know however that plants with a strong underground system of mycorrhizae are healthier than their counterparts.

Plants and mycorrhizae have a symbiotic relationship, meaning that they both support each other. While the plants provide the mycorrhizae with carbohydrates, the mycorrhizae help supply the plants with water, nitrogen, and phosphorous. The mycorrhizae also helps boost the plant’s immune system by triggering  chemicals that help defend it from harmful bacteria or diseases. The health of plants is essential especially when it comes to cleaning the air of carbon dioxide and repurposing pollution into oxygen.

Mycorrhizae also help to reform soil. Mycelium are what can break down rocks and mineral and turn them into nutrient rich soil. Regenerative agriculture is better than simply sustainable agriculture in that it depends on nature’s tendency to revert to a closed nutrient loop, greater biological diversity and a reliance on internal rather than external resources. The mycorrhizae are part of the healthy soil that makes regenerative agriculture possible, because in a healthy soil, plants can handle drought, insect attacks and nutrient absorption without chemicals from external sources. This kind of farming results in no nutrient runoff or pollution of waterways because regenerative soil retains its nutrients.

    The “wood wide web” works similarly to the human brain. The mycorrhizal connections are similar to the neurons in how they transfer signals and chemicals. Another way I can relate to mycorrhizae is through horticulture. I have always been intrigued by plants and this information has completely altered my perspective of my surroundings.



Fleming, N. (2014, November 11). Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Giovannetti, M., Avio, L., Fortuna, P., Pellegrino, E., Sbrana, C., & Strani, P. (2006, January). At the Root of the Wood Wide Web: Self Recognition and Non-Self Incompatibility in Mycorrhizal Networks. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

Stamets, P. (2016, March 16). Mushrooms as Medicine. Lecture presented at Exponential Medicine. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from Fleming, N. (2014, November 11). Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from

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Boys Ultimate Beats Masterman to Start Season

The Science Leadership Academy Boys Varsity Ultimate team kicked off their season with a 15-13 win over Masterman in cold, rainy conditions on Tuesday. The game was a windy affair with upwind goals at a premium. SLA jumped out to a 4-1 lead before a series of turnovers allowed Masterman to come back into the game, eventually taking the half with an 8-7 lead. 

The second half saw stellar play from the senior tri-captains, Jonas Bromley, Miles Cruice-Barnett and Andrew Roberts, as the senior leaders made play after play in the windy conditions. Sophomore Jorin Gerveni turned in one of his best games as a Rocket, making key defensive plays and consistently gaining big yards on offense. 

The game went right down to the wire, with SLA losing late in the game 13-12. But the Rockets rallied and scored the final three goals to clinch a 15-13 win to start the season with a bang! 
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