Why You Shouldn’t Support Autism Speaks

Every April is Autism Acceptance month, and although it’s over, it’s always a good time to remind people not to support organizations that are harmful and discriminatory towards people with autism, namely Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is the world’s most well-known autism advocacy organization as well as one of the largest, but it is certainly not the most helpful. In fact, it has sparked several controversies among the autistic community over the years.

Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright after their son was diagnosed with autism. Its mission is to seek treatments and cures for autism spectrum disorders, and it spends lots of money on researching the causes of autism. On April 2, President Donald Trump made a statement supporting the organization and commemorating their annual event, Light It Up Blue, which is meant to spread autism awareness.

The logo for Autism Speaks.

The logo for Autism Speaks.

The clear problem with this is that Autism Speaks spreads stigma and prejudice against autistic people. They see autism as a disease and have even compared it to AIDS and cancer. In reality, autism is simply a mental condition that makes certain people go through life differently than those who are considered “normal” by society. Autism Speaks also has no autistic members on its Board of Directors, so a group of people with flawed perceptions about autistic people are making huge decisions about their entire community without their consent or input. It caters more towards parents of children with autism, hoping to alleviate the so-called “struggles” of raising a child with a developmental disability. Very few of their funds actually go to helping autistic people, with most of their money spent on research and marketing. Most of their advertising spreads harmful stereotypes about autistic people. Furthermore, Autism Speaks has been working to advance prenatal testing so that if a fetus is autistic, its mother can choose to get it aborted. This is similar to the prenatal test for Down syndrome and, in a worst-case scenario, could end up eliminating autistic people for good.

While autism can definitely be hard to deal with, Autism Speaks’ motive is certainly not the solution. Most people with autism would prefer not to be cured, because although autism does not define them, it plays a large role in who they are as people. In addition, autistic people don’t want “awareness.” They want acceptance. Plenty of people know what autism is, but not as many go so far as to understand and help people with autism. We need people to be more understanding and supportive, especially since Autism Speaks sees autistic people as less than human.
If you’re looking for alternatives to Autism Speaks that actually support autistic people themselves, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a great choice. Many of its members are autistic and their goal is to find ways to spread autism acceptance and to provide autistic people with better ways to cope in our discriminatory society. You can also donate to the Autism Women’s Network (AWN) and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), and be sure to educate yourself and others about autism so that you know what’s most helpful to the autistic community.

Predicting the Winners at the 89th Academy Awards

[Note: This was posted after the Oscars but was written beforehand.]

2016 has been a great year for movies. We’ve gotten another Star Wars movie; a live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book; two new films added to the Disney animated canon; a bunch of great superhero movies; and a fantastic Harry Potter spinoff, to name a few. One would expect the 89th Academy Awards to be very exciting, considering the vast number of wonderful movies that came out this year. However, they have been almost entirely dominated by the colorful, jubilant movie musical, La La Land, which received fourteen nominations, tying the record set by All About Eve and Titanic. It is poised to win Best Picture, the Academy’s highest honor, as well as Best Director, Best Actress for Emma Stone, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and a number of others.

Nostalgia runs deep in La La Land, which is reminiscent of movie musicals from the '50s and '60s.

Nostalgia runs deep in La La Land, which is reminiscent of movie musicals from the ’50s and ’60s.

But is La La Land really the best movie of the year? Although it wowed critics and those in the movie industry, it also has its share of detractors. Many have criticized it for its lack of diversity, especially since it centers around a white man trying preserve traditional jazz, which was created by black people. Additionally, the screenplay is fairly weak; if you take away the happy tunes and bright colors, it’s just another straight white romance. At times, it feels a bit like it’s trying too hard to be a masterpiece. And Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the film’s two leads, are just mediocre singers. Still, all this is unlikely to stop La La Land from winning several awards. It provides an escape from reality, something people especially long for during the current political climate. The music is catchy, and the film looks utterly beautiful. Plus, the Academy loves movies about Hollywood. If La La Land wins Best Picture, it would be quite unfortunate that the award would be so predictable and unexciting. It is highly unlikely that it won’t get the honor, but not entirely impossible.

Moonlight, which has eight nominations, is the only film likely to block La La Land’s path to victory. It is the transcendent coming-of-age story of Chiron, a gay black man growing up in poverty in Miami. When he is bullied by his peers and abused by his mother, he learns to shield his true self away from everyone for his own protection. It’s a reminder of the repercussions we face when we persecute others and when we refuse to open up to people. In a time when everyone tells you to love yourself and be yourself (statements that feel more empty the more we hear them), writer-director Barry Jenkins gave us a beautiful, poignant film showing what could happen if we don’t. Rarely has there ever been a movie more deserving of the Best Picture Oscar.

In one of the many awe-inspiring scenes of Moonlight, Juan teaches a young Chiron how to swim.

In one of the many awe-inspiring scenes of Moonlight, Juan teaches a young Chiron how to swim.

This year had countless movies with strong performances from leading actresses, so it’s a shame that Emma Stone will be the one to come out on top (and that Meryl Streep was nominated for the 20th time over the likes of Amy Adams, Annette Bening, and Taraji P. Henson). Sure, Stone was great in La La Land, so great that it’s almost easy to forget how underdeveloped her character is. However, it’s not hard to act as an aspiring actress when you were once an aspiring actress yourself. Natalie Portman, on the other hand, deals with much harder work in Jackie, playing Jacqueline Kennedy in the days following her husband’s assassination. Yet somehow, she does it perfectly. With the help of Mica Levi’s eerie score, Portman devastatingly illustrates the grief and sorrow that haunts Jackie each day while at the same time maintaining a smiling facade for the public.

Casey Affleck seemed like a shoo-in for Best Actor at first, after having won the Golden Globe and the Critic’s Choice awards, among many others, for his performance as a janitor haunted by his troubled past. But Denzel Washington’s surprise win at the SAG Awards shook things up, and Affleck’s sexual assault allegations from 2010 have also clouded his path. Affleck is still the frontrunner, but it is certainly possible that Washington could beat him and win his third Oscar. Both actors give astonishing performances. Affleck subtly and devastatingly shatters on the inside, while Washington explodes with fiery passion. Either one would be a worthy winner in the category, but if Washington wins, he would ignite far less controversy than Affleck would.

Viola Davis might as well already have her Oscar. She does amazing work in Fences, matching and even outshining the talent of Denzel Washington. It feels wrong to call it a performance, because it feels like she isn’t acting the part, but effortlessly being the part. That being said, fellow nominee Naomie Harris filmed her role in Moonlight in a total of three days with no rehearsals, and she stuns audiences with her harsh, heartbreaking portrayal of Chiron’s crack-addicted, abusive mother. Davis fully deserves her Oscar, but Harris’s work is brilliant as well and should not get overlooked.

After being nominated for Doubt, The Help, and Fences, Viola Davis is the first black actress to have three Academy Award nominations.

After being nominated for Doubt, The Help, and Fences, Viola Davis is the first black actress to earn three Academy Award nominations.

Supporting Actor frontrunner Mahershala Ali plays Juan, a warm-hearted drug dealer who becomes Chiron’s father figure in Moonlight. Many were moved by his character, who does not have much screen time but uses the time he has to bring inspiration, support, and encouragement to both Chiron and audiences. He will most likely and deservedly win the Oscar come Sunday.

The Best Animated Feature category should be a tighter race than it is. This year was a great year for animated movies, and all of the contenders are beautifully animated and highly original. Perhaps the most inventive of the five nominees is Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings. Set in Japan, it tells the story of a boy who can magically influence origami with a three-stringed guitar. Aided by a monkey and a beetle, he sets out on a quest to save his family from the evil Moon King and find out what happened to his samurai father. It’s unfair that Kubo will lose to Zootopia, which is a great movie but nowhere near as breathtaking as Kubo’s visuals, stop motion animation, and innovative, dark story.

The 89th Academy Awards take place on Sunday, February 26th and are hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

The HBC’s Plans For the Budget and Why It’s Harmful to the Future of America

Congress recently released what they want the federal budget to be for the next 10 years. With the U.S. approaching nearly $20 trillion dollars in debt, Congress is doing everything it can to try to balance the budget and reduce this burden of debt as fast as possible. The budget deficit of Fiscal Year 2016 was $587 billion. This year it is set to be around $443 billion and be exactly the same for 2020 and not balance it until 2026. This plan would accumulate more debt than we have accumulated in the past 8 years. This is only if we follow the same tax plan as we have followed under Obama and Trump plans to cut taxes for everyone – so this will most likely be much, much worse. The three things the U.S. government spent the most on in 2016 are healthcare, Social Security and Unemployment Benefits, and the military which add up to 76% of the budget. You would think the HBC would want to start making cuts to these or try and find out how to carry out these programs in in cheaper, yet still efficient way. But no, they do not. $120 billion is added to military, no changes to Social Security are made to try and control the increased spending every year, and Medicaid spending is cut slightly while Medicare spending is still being allowed to expand every year with no changes to the program. Major cuts however are made to education (2% of the budget), public broadcasting (> 1% of the budget), and agriculture (3% of the budget).

The purple is where US troops are stationed

The purple is where US troops are stationed.

There are countless ways to balance the budget in faster and more efficient ways. In 2016 the US spent more on military than the next seven countries behind us combined. The next country behind us, China spent $155.6 billion dollars on military last year, just a little more than 1/4th of our $585 billion dollars spent. Adding $120 billion to this will make us spend more than the next 10 countries combined. Some might say that this is necessary for defense against terrorism. They should see where our troops are stationed. The US has troops stationed in six out of seven continents on the globe and in 74 countries. We could put more troops in the Middle East and still fight terrorism more than we need to and still cut military spending almost in half. We even spend $5.9 billion dollars a year paying for the military of other countries.

The US also spends the most in the world on healthcare. This might come as a surprise to you, considering the US does not have universal healthcare like many other countries in the world. I’m sure the first thing that just popped into your head is, “Well our population is higher than those countries”. That is a natural thing to think and would be a good argument if it made a difference. The US federal healthcare spending is 17.7% of our overall GDP and 9% of the US is uninsured. The next country behind us, The Netherlands’ federal healthcare spending is 11.9% of their GDP and has universal healthcare. We spend the most in the world on healthcare by far and we have 9% uninsured. In countries like Canada and many European countries, healthcare is very cheap because of how cheap their medicine is. Opening up trade for medicine with these countries would bring the cost of our medicine down and ultimately making healthcare must cheaper. We do not need single-payer to have universal healthcare either. Many countries have achieved universal healthcare without single payer. Germany has achieved universal healthcare through a mix of public and private insurance. Their spending on healthcare is 11% of their GDP (7th highest in world) and their life expectancy for average citizens there is 81.0 years as opposed to our 78.7 years. The US can follow this system and save a lot of money while still having very high quality insurance. While making cuts to Social Security is not wanted by most people and is immoral, we can stop the growth of Social Security spending by raising the retirement age from 62 to 66 or higher. Critics of raising the retirement age would say its not right to give people a longer working life and take less time away from their retirement. If Social Security is going insolvent soon, then it is better for this generation to get less than for every generation 20 years from now to get none. We should also cap benefits so that the rich and others who do not need social security at all don’t receive it. This may also seem unfair and almost seem like discrimination if everyone is paying into it their whole lives, then everyone should get it back. Again, it is better for some to not get it than for every generation after 2035 to get none at all.

If the US were to do all outlined above and raise individual income taxes on the upper middle class and up, balancing the budget would be no problem. Cutting taxes when $19 trillion dollars in debt is plain irresponsible. This is not fiscally conservative. Cutting back on education spending is going to do little to nothing to reduce the deficit and will be harmful for America’s children. The HBC needs to cut back on what we actually spend excessively on and possibly reinstate PART (Program Rating Assessment Tool) in order to get rid of waste and balance the budget. While private citizens have no say in the budget we can vote in people who can vote on the budget. Our next chance is in 2018; vote safely and smartly.

How to Survive High School as a Hot Mess

High school is hard enough as it for most students: Homework, stress, SAT, more stress, making friends, did I mention stress? And these examples are only a portion of the troubles students face. Now, take that student and add an expert level of procrastination, very believable excuses, a severe case of forgetfulness, little to no sleep, poor hand-eye coordination, overcompensation, the occasional mental breakdown, word vomit, a coffee addiction, a wardrobe that consists of 90% sweatpants/pajama pants, and a messy bun or hat to cover up theHot mess fact that they woke up 5 minutes before the bus.

If you are reading this and can relate to at least 4 of the 10 things listed, congratulations, you’re a hot mess. Now don’t freak out, while it may not be curable, it isn’t a death sentence. You can live your life and to make things easier for you, I’m going to give you a few pointers on how to survive high school as a hot mess.

Tip #1: Picking out your outfit.

  • Yes I know, the majority of your wardrobe is sweatpants, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful to pick an outfit. You may be a mess and really lazy, but you aren’t a slob, so at least have an outfit that matches. That leads us to my first piece of advice: always wear a black shirt. Black matches with almost everything and it’s easy to throw on while you’re simultaneously brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, eating breakfast and running to catch your bus.

Tip #2: Sleeping Habits and Coffee Addictions.

  • If you’re like me, you spend more time on Netflix and YouTube than you spend starbucks-confessionalsleeping. (Who needs sleep when you can binge watch Grey’s Anatomy?) Sleeping at night is for the weak. After all, that’s why we have coffee. Coffee is what gives a hot mess life; it makes it so we can function slightly more like a human instead of a zombie. If you’re reading this and coffee isn’t your best friend, I suggest you make a few adjustments to that friend group. On the other hand, if you’re reading this and you have a Starbucks gold card, I can bet you that I’ve spent more money there in the last month than you did in the last year.

 

Tip #3: Procrastination and Excuses.

  • *Disclaimer: I would’ve spent more time writing this tip, but I completely forgot. I had a really important thing (Netflix) to do last night, and I was running around all morning (woke up five minutes ago), and didn’t have time to do it. 😉 

Tip #4: Forgetfulness.

  • Everyone forgets things every once in a while, hot messes are just more prone to catch a case of forgetfulness. Here is some stuff I do in the morning to remember what I need to do: 1) If you need to remember something put it on top of something you never leave the house without. That way, when you run around your house looking for it, you’ll also find your visual to- do list for the day. 2) Set as many alarms as possible. It’ll annoy you to the point that you want to throw your phone at the wall, but at least you’ll remember what you need. This may vary considering I still sleep through 10 of my 15 alarms in the morning but hey, it may work for you. 3) I forgot this step, but that means it probably wasn’t important.

Tip #5: Breakdowns.

  • As much as we don’t want to experience breakdowns, it’s bound to inevitably happen to you more than you might want to admit. Some of the time you can’t help them and other times they are preventable or not necessary. So calm down, yes it’s okay to have them every so often but if you’re going to freak out over small things it’s going to help no one. Distract yourself from the problem: Talk to someone, read a book, binge Netflix, go for a run, and if all else fails go home and stuff your face with chocolate because chocolate fixes everything.

Tip #6: Be yourself!

  • Last but not least, be yourself not what others want you to be! Don’t let labels define who you are, so what you’re a hot mess? In the end it’s just a word, if-im-going-to-be-a-mess-i-might-as-well-be-a-hot-mess-quote-1you are who you want to be and should embrace it. If someone is going to judge you for the way you look and act, they don’t deserve your time or stress. Being a hot mess isn’t a bad thing, it’s just another thing that makes you who you are. So go ahead, rock those sweatpants, throw your hair up in that messy bun, binge on netflix, have that occasional meltdown, be voted most likely to have a child born addicted to starbuck in your yearbook (….okay that last one may only apply to me but still it’s possible for you too!), and most importantly be yourself!

 

If you follow these six tips, you’re all set to survive high school. Oh and one last thing, congratulations, you’re a hot mess!

I Will Not Stand

I will not stand with a society that ridicules men for not being “manly”. I will not stand with you if you shut down others and degrade them for what they believe, what color their skin is, or for the country in which they live. A society that allows people to be discriminated against because of who they love, is something for which I will not stand.

We are the movement. We must change this society.

We are the movement. We must change this society.

If a woman walks down the street and is constantly harassed and this is viewed as acceptable, will not stand with you. In a world filled with so much hate, I will not stand with those who add to it.

In a world where my ability to take a single test determines the rest of my life, where smart individuals are shunned for not testing well, I will not stand. We live in a world where a fish’s intelligence is judged by it’s ability to climb a tree, and for this I can not stand.

We live in a world where women are afraid to walk home alone at night and we don’t teach boys not to rape, but rather, teach girls not to wear certain clothes which might provoke attackers.

This society is so beyond the point of “I Will Not Stand” we have reached a point where people are leaving the country in order to escape the madness only to find out it is just as bad everywhere else. 

I will not stand with those who think it is ok to massacre people based on their beliefs, where a Muslim man is stopped and strip searched at an airport, or a Mexican man is stopped at a checkpoint and needs to prove his right to be in this country.

I will not stand with a society in which a woman gets paid less just because she is a woman, where a man is judged by who he brings to bed with him at night, where a woman’s skin can’t be exposed without being called a whore or a slut or a skank and is sent home from school if her shoulder is exposed, or where those who lie and cheat are rewarded with powerful political positions.

I will not stand with the top 80 people of the world retaining 90% of the world’s wealth, while men, women, and children starve in the streets.  Where the wealthiest among us live in mansions bigger than the White House and own cars worth more than a man’s life salary.  With that I CAN NOT STAND.

I cannot stand with a society where the freedom of expression no longer exists because a man who wears feminine clothes is called a sissy and freak and a woman who wears masculine clothing is seen the same way, where what God you believe in determines how you will be treated by others.

Where collecting a professional team’s gear, screaming at a TV every Sunday night, and painting your body for the game is seen as socially acceptable, but if someone wears an ESports team jersey, he is called a nerd.

In this world there is no right or wrong, however it is made to be.  We should be able to believe what we want, wear what we want, and be who we want. It is up to us to fix it: we must change how we think and accept people for who they are.  That is a society for which I can stand. 

3D Printing Copyright , Patent or Free

 

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3d printing brings up new issues with patent and copyright law.

3d printing has changed the manufacturing process of goods. There is a 3d printing revolution taking place as we speak. But how users will be able to copyright intellectual property such as 3d printed designs stored on a computer using maker software? Copywriting has always been a complicated issue and coming to a consensus will not be easy. Laws need to be put in place in order for the industry to advance in the right way.

Some 3D Printing creations are eligible for patents, others are eligible for copyrights. Functional items, such as hinges and handles are covered by patents. Other items are covered by copyright such as decorative items. But Copyrighting and Patenting is a grey area, in respect to how it will be enforced. People will be able to 3d print anything copyrighted, patented, or not. But this presents a problem: 3d scanners and printers functions are combined together, which will cause a black market to emerge because items can easily be replicated from the comfort of users’ own homes.

So, laws need to be put in place and software developed to restrict users from easily obtaining things that they shouldn’t have by just pressing a few buttons.

 

My Business is Your Business

Lots of teenagers have different types of jobs that make different levels of money. Most jobs pay minimum or slightly above minimum wage. When I started working, I didn’t want this to be the case. Like anyone else, I like making money.  And, comic books are a passion of mine. But for many years, I never thought of combining the two things.

My display at a show.

My display at a show.

It all started one afternoon over the weekend in October of 2010 after my father left the house for several hours. I, being an adventurous ten-year old, decided to explore the attic of my house. Within a few steps, I came across stacks of comic books– 1960’s and 1970’s comic books! I started reading them until my father came home and discovered me going through his comic books that he had saved all these years. The rest is history. What started as a hobby would give me the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars in the coming years. So, what do I do exactly? I buy and sell comic books.                                          

The hobby of comic book collecting has grown bigger and bigger over time. This is because of publishing companies growing bigger and bigger due to gaining interest. The film industry has drastically changed the amount of interest in comics today. Companies like Disney, Marvel, and even DC are making huge amounts of money at the box office with their comic book-themed movies. Televisions shows are also being premiered on network TV and streaming services such as Netflix, and Hulu. The fact that via mass media, individuals are able to experience these stories without even having to read the comics, is a big deal. The comic market is so big, many comic conventions have sprung up all over the world. There, you can meet creators and buy and sell comics and other related merchandise. But where does this stuff com from? How is it sold? That’s where I come in.

This is serious business.

This is serious business.

I capitalize on this strong and growing market by purchasing anything I think I can make decent money on, such as collections, at shows and on eBay. Something I look for the most are first appearances of popular characters. So far, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on comic books.  In a nutshell, I buy comics from Dealer A, then sell them to Dealer B. Usually, it is much more complicated: imagine the above scenario and multiple it by many dealers with lots and lots of inventory, which means lots and lots of cash.  It’s hard work, but it’s well worth it. 

This is something that I enjoy very much and over time, I hope to make my business even bigger than it already is!  

 

 

The Truth About the Pay Gap

The people of the United States have been led to believe that without reason, women are paid significantly lower salaries than men with the same jobs. This is simply not the case. In 2014, President Obama addressed the issue of the pay gap with a speech, and since then has made an effort to fix it. In his speech, he made the claim that, “the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” He called the 77% figure “an embarrassment.”

The public misunderstands the pay gap.

President Obama would be correct; this would be embarrassing, if it were true. It isn’t. When I watched this speech, I thought about the things he said, and one statement stood out to me: “Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force.” If women are making 23% less money than men for working the same jobs, women should make up the overwhelming majority of the workforce. Why would any company hire an equal amount of men and women, if by hiring more women they would save 23% on every employee’s salary? They wouldn’t. The point of running a business is to make as much money as possible, and if women were making 23% less money than men for the same jobs, companies could maximize their profit by hiring women, and they would.

When it comes to the wage gap percentage, there’s no single, universally acknowledged number for the amount a woman makes compared to the amount a man makes for the same job. When I tried to find the exact pay gap, I discovered that the number fluctuated anywhere between 64% to 84% depending on where I looked, which doesn’t make any sense because actual statistics are exact, and they aren’t measured in windows. This is when I realized that something more serious was going on, and the real information either doesn’t want to be found or is being hidden. It was time to investigate.

In the official White House address on the issue by President Obama, the 77% number was highlighted. President Obama didn’t just choose a random number somewhere in the range of all the numbers used to describe the gap. Which assumptions were made to find this number? I found that the method the White House used in determining this 77% number was by comparing the annual salaries of all men to the annual salaries of all women. That’s like taking the annual salary of an employee at a Ralph Lauren flagship branch and the annual salary of Ralph Lauren himself, averaging those three and saying the average Ralph Lauren employee makes $875k a year. It’s basically comparing the salaries of a male surgeon and a female nurse and using that as the basis of comparison between male and female wages. The US Department of Labor found that when you take into account the salaries of men and women with the same variables like job type and several others, comparing like to like, the pay gap shrinks to about 93-95%. Even a study conducted by the American Association of University Women, using a control for all the same variables, resulted in the same number found by the US Department of Labor: 93%. In fact, in a 63- page report, the number was only mentioned once. The American Association of University Women then tried to obfuscate this number by saying, “just over one third of the pay gap cannot be explained.” This makes it sound like as if the gap is one third, but what they were referring to is a third of the misleading 23% number. That’s not the clearest way to say, “7%”.

So, if the wage gap is actually about 5-7%, then there’s still an unexplainable difference in pay, right? Well, not exactly. While the percentage difference is undeniable, it’s fully explainable. The explanation for the smaller, more accurate difference lies in job satisfaction and negotiation for contracts. In a study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitle, “Who goes to the bargaining table?: The influence of gender and framing on the initiation of negotiation”, four researchers did a thorough test on salary negotiations by gender. They found that when women are informed that they can “ask” for more rather than “negotiate” for more, not only does the negotiation gap disappear, but women are actually 4% more likely than men to negotiate for higher salaries with 73% of females versus 69% male doing so. This is significant, because without the “ask” control, men are 25% more likely to ask for more money: 83% male to 58% female. A study conducted by PayScale showed that the average woman who is very satisfied with her job makes about as much as the average man who is unsatisfied with his job. According to PayScale, a possible reason for this is that more women tend to work in professions that are altruistic in nature: helping others rather than themselves.  And in my opinion, another explanation could be that most women are misled by those who talk about this 77% figure and go into the workforce expecting lower paying jobs, which results in them being more satisfied with their jobs.

The simple truth is that the 77% wage gap is a misleading piece of information, and is a major part of the problem which makes women believe that they are purposely being held down for no reason. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When society tells women that, in the end, they’re going to be paid less than their male coworkers, they might be less likely to expect expect equal wages, thus feeding the fire and furthering the cycle.

Ladies, you can negotiate for higher wages, and nobody is stopping you. If we tell the truth about the actual wage gap and encourage women to do something about it other than raising lawsuits against companies that aren’t at fault, the wage gap between men and women wouldn’t be lowered, it would be eliminated.

Three of the Biggest Fails of the 2016 Oscars.

Fashion Fails

Heidi Klum

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Can you spot the difference between these two pictures?

  • Heidi Klum’s dress looks like it came out of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother’s closet but there was nothing magical about this dress other than that. Sorry, Heidi.

Amy Poehler

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Are those my grandmother’s curtains?

  • Nope, it’s Amy Poehler in a dress made out of my grandmother’s curtains. The only thing to do to help this dress is to burn it.

Stacy Dash’s unnecessary cameo

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Looks like we’re gonna have to make a cameo at the Val party”- Cher, Clueless

  • The Clueless star should’ve just stuck to cameos at valley parties with her on- screen bestie. Dash was recently in the news for wanting to end BET and Black History Month. So, when she walked on stage as “director of minority outreach” as Chris Rock said, the only funny thing about this joke was Chrissy Teagan’s reaction.

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And now for the only thing the Oscars got right……

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After six nominations, Leo finally won his Oscar!!!

 

 

Torture is Actually Torture

This cartoon isn't wrong.

This cartoon isn’t wrong.

President Obama released a plan on February 23rd to close Guantanamo Bay which, although a promising gesture, doesn’t go nearly far enough to expiate the unethical treatment of its prisoners. From a fiscal point of view, his plan makes sense. We would initially spend up to $475 million to upgrade an existing prison and in exchange, we would save as much as $85 million annually. Unfortunately, Obama’s plan has generated much controversy among the Republican-dominated congress, and furthermore doesn’t end the practice which made Guantanamo so famous– waterboarding. In fact, according to Obama’s statements about his plan, he intends to use “all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees”. These “legal tools” known broadly as “enhanced interrogation”, include: mild violence, cramped confinement for up to 18 hours, forced nudity, stress positions, and waterboarding, etc. 

Not only are these methods of enhanced interrogation blatantly inhumane and torturous, they are also sometimes used on those whose guilt is ambiguous. Most of what we know about enhanced interrogation has been gleaned from the 10% of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA report on that has been released. It confirmed that at least 26 detainees were wrongfully held. In one particularly egregious instance, an intellectually challenged man was detained for use as leverage. While those myopic enough to support enhanced interrogation may attempt to dismiss the report as leftist, the committee that authored it was majority Republican. In fact, the majority party’s delegation included future 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio, amongst other prominent Republicans.

Startlingly, enhanced interrogation is actually an awful way of gathering intelligence. According to the CIA report, no actionable intelligence was gleaned from enhanced interrogation, in fact, it actually elicited many false confessions. HIG– or High Value Detainee Interrogation Group– is a government research program comprised of FBI, CIA, and Pentagon officials, which released a peer-reviewed study demonstrating that controlling interrogation strategies– such as torture– are ineffective at producing credible intelligence. In contrast, the same study found that “supportive” rapport-building techniques produce veritable intelligence at a superior rate. While proponents of enhanced interrogation may scramble to find morsels of useful information gleaned from torture, the argument is a non sequitur. Whether or not torture has ever produced actionable intelligence is irrelevant if other–more moral– methods produce equal or, in this case, superior results. In my research for this article, I could find no peer-reviewed study to promulgate the ubiquitous notion that torture is more effective than other means of interrogation and several to prove the opposite.

Despite the obvious immorality of enhanced interrogation, it is disgustingly ambiguous whether it is illegal in our country. Legally, torture is defined as “an act committed by a person… intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering”. Severe mental pain or suffering is constituted by a series of vague standards, which allow the government to dodge questions of legality behind the ambiguity of the law. In contrast to our own government’s moral cowardice, waterboarding is denounced as torture by reputed international bodies such as the Red Cross and the European Court of Human Rights.

In conclusion, Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay has needlessly stirred partisan controversy in spite of its reluctance to permanently end state-sanctioned torture in our country. Instead, the proposal attempts to exculpate the government by removing it from the facility that has come to symbolize its sins. While it may be fiscally responsible, and relatively safe, to move detainees elsewhere, it doesn’t prevent the greater evil: torture. To reiterate, enhanced interrogation is torture, and torture is–at least based on the evidence available– extremely ineffective at producing actionable intelligence and inhumane in the extreme. It is fair to assume that torture might stop if detainees were sent to a U.S facility, but it is imperative that we explicitly prevent such revenge-driven, cruel, and ineffective practices from being continued in the future.