Lady Liberty’s Lights Go Out. On Purpose Or Just A Coincidence?

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Lady Liberty’s normal, beaming appearance

On Tuesday, March 7th, the Statue of Liberty temporarily went dark from 10:00 PM to 11:30 PM. With her entire body and robe completely covered in darkness, only her crown and torch was left glowing on the New York Harbor. Ironically, the incident took place on International Women’s Day, making timing of Lady Liberty’s blackout appear all too coincidental to some. Although the official twitter account of the Statue of Liberty National Monument posted the morning after the incident, “Some lights on the Statue were temporarily off tonight. Likely related to new emergency generator/Hurricane Sandy recovery project work,” some viewed the glitch as intentional. Organizers of the Women’s March called on thousands to strike on “A Day Without a Woman.” Some believe that perhaps America’s most illustrious woman took the opportunity to be the very first to speak and protest on the special day. According to the Women’s March website, their group’s strike intended to acknowledge, “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system, while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment and job insecurity.” Lady Liberty making her presence known during the effort was not gone unrecognized by the group, and the official Twitter account of the Women’s March posted, “Thank you Lady Liberty for standing with the resistance and going dark for #DayWithoutAWoman.” Others who also saw deeper meaning in Lady Liberty’s break from her normal illuminating self also took advantage and went to Twitter to post their opinions. Raymond Braun posted, “CNN has just reported that the Statue of Liberty has gone dark tonight. Power failure or social commentary?” Aparna Nancherla posted, “Apparently the Statue of Liberty lights went out due to a power failure. But I would argue women are also protesting due to a power failure.” Unfortunately, the activists were shut down to the idea that the recent happenings were purposely caused. Jerry Willis from the National Parks Service provided an explanation as to why everything happened the way it did, “ The temporary, unplanned outage occurred after a lighting system controller was switched off to change out faulty lighting equipment. When the repair was completed, the lighting system controller wasn’t properly reset, leading to the outage.” Deeper meaning and symbolism can still be found, for everything does happen for a reason, and Lady Liberty could not have picked a more perfect time to draw attention to herself. Fortunately, she has now gone back to her usual, shining self.

The Life & Times of Edward Norton

You’ve probably heard of Edward Norton. You probably only know him as that actor in Fight Club and Birdman and not as that philanthropist and environmental activist.

Known for his humility, he has even gone so far to say, “If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack”. Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18th, 1969 to Edward Mower Norton Jr. and Lydia Robinson. His father Edward Mower Norton Jr., was a marine lieutenant in Vietnam, an environmental lawyer and federal prosecutor under the Carter administration. His father is what inspired him to be an environmentalist.

Norton has given millions of dollars towards clean energy and charities for more affordable housing in low income communities. He is a user of solar energy and driver of a car with a hydrogen internal combustion engine vehicle. He is on the board of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit developer for affordable housing in his hometown and a major supporter of BP’s Solar Neighbors program. He is the president of the American branch of the Maasai Wildlife Conservation Trust. He has also appeared in ads against buying elephant ivory, the “say no” campaign.

“People say you can’t make movies about your politics, or the environment. And, generally speaking, I completely divide those sides of my brain,” says Norton. He is also very politically active. He was a major supporter of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and a staunch opponent of Donald Trump during the 2016 election. He says the reason he is so opposed to Trump is because he “cares about the future of his kids”. He also produced the HBO documentary The Election of Barack Obama: By The People. It is a documentary that follows Obama and his campaign team for the two years prior to his election.

Edward Norton is not only of of the great actors of his generation, he is also a great person and role model.

Trump’s Dual Roles Collide with Presidency

Donald J. Trump, the recently sworn in president of the United States of America, has gone against the constitution and he does not care, and as it seems neither do the American people. Trump has been taking money directly from foreign world leaders in return for access to do business in the USA.

Mr. Trump’s multinational corporation has been making deals in foreign countries with people in the government. This is in direct violation of the constitution which states that the president is not allowed to accept anything from foreign leaders. This has raised the question of whether or not what he is doing is really unconstitutional, seeing as most of the deals that have recently gone through were in their beginning stages before Trump became president. However, Trump has not only made deals with these people, but he has also accepted a multitude of gifts, and this has made many people believe that these were in return for total control over the US economy. There have already been reports of foreign leaders buying land in the US in order to start the construction of “Super Hedge Fund” sites. Basically, they built factories on the land and start producing goods. From there they will build towns and shops that only sell goods made in these factories. You may ask, wouldn’t that be a monopoly? It is, however; with Trump’s executive order, he has made it legal for anyone that is a business partner of his to create such monopolies.

Trump, plotting against America

Trump, Plotting against America

This wouldn’t be all bad if it was from allied countries, but so far Trump has only signed with countries that we currently have conflict with. This leads many to believe that he, is in fact, a Russian spy sent to take over the US and make it into Putin’s own personal sandbox. Reports found from American Intelligence Officers, or AIO, have shown that Trump does have major ties to Russia. This has led to many believing that his wife, Melania, was sent by the Russian government to keep an eye on Trump and make sure that everything he is doing is up to par with what the Russians are asking of him.

There is no real way to tell  if these claims are true yet, but speculation has led to the belief that they are and that the American people are now being led by Russia and other foreign powers. Trump’s paranoia has led him to make some very large claims against the Obama administration. He is claiming that they wire tapped his phones and bugged his house. People are starting to question Trump’s legitimacy and many people have stated that claims as serious as these can be grounds for impeachment if they turn out to not be true.

So we now have a president who is possibly a Russian spy, making deals with our enemies, who goes directly against the constitution, and is so paranoid that he just made a claim against former president Barack Obama that could lead to his own impeachment. All this being said most of it is not true and was written to try and fool you by making crazy outlandish claims.  

Pulling out the Trump Card

President Trump shows off his executive order, signed.

President Trump had already written his first executive order before Inauguration Day, ready to be signed as soon as he was sworn in. This is no surprise, though, as Trump was eager to start making America great again as soon as possible. The real surprise was what was written in this executive order. It ordered that all anime must be stripped from store shelves, removed from TV channels, taken down off the internet, and confiscated from all citizens, and that it should be enacted immediately.

The Trump Administration was very quick to enforce it, too. The next day, police officers were going door to door all over the country confiscating any DVDs containing anime, and jailing anyone who refused to give up their prized discs. The amount of jail time earned is not yet decided, but a representative of the Trump Administration said that it could be anywhere between two and five months. A reported 1,337 people were jailed within the first week of the order being enacted.

“I woke up at five in the morning to a loud banging on my door,” says anime enthusiast Jamison Randall. “By the time I got up, officers had busted down the door and were all over my house searching for anime DVDs, and I was held at gunpoint to open my safe. When I opened it, they searched through it, and left everything exactly where it was except for my anime.” Randall also claims that after the anime was confiscated, the officers left his house casually, like nothing ever happened.

Examples like this sparked controversy among citizens, mostly about the harshness of the confiscation. One supporter of the ban even said, “The ban was a good idea, but the way cops are taking anime from homes is over the top.”

The debate about whether or not the ban was a good decision is causing fights all over the country. An estimated 4,200 people have been hospitalized in the past week due to injuries caused by fist fights over this executive order.

It is estimated that about 69% of US citizens agree with Trump’s decision to ban anime. Those who disagree are going to extreme measures to hide their precious anime, doing so much as to hide it in their ceilings. President Trump called for another search to happen this weekend, as he is suspicious of people hiding anime.

Opposers are hoping that the all the protest and violence that happened over the past few weeks because of the order will encourage Trump to revoke the order. Whether or not he will do so is completely unpredictable.

“Hamilton” Star to Join the Cast of Broadway’s “Great Comet”

Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the Broadway hit Hamilton, is set to replace Josh Groban in the new musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

Onaodowan will play Pierre, a wealthy aristocrat going through an existential crisis. Groban will depart the show on July 2, and Onaodowan will replace him the day afterward and stay until September 4. This will be his fourth Broadway show after Cyrano de Bergerac, Rocky, and Hamilton.

Okieriete Onaodowan at the opening night of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

Okieriete Onaodowan at the opening night of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

The musical, often called simply Great Comet, is an electropop adaptation of a seventy-page portion of War and Peace. Onaodowan, the son of Nigerian immigrants, will play opposite Denée Benton as Natasha, so the two leads will be played by black actors despite the show taking place in nineteenth-century Russia.

“Having the opportunity to have two black actors star is, to me, irrefutably huge,” Benton said to the New York Times about the casting choice. “Actors of color definitely feel the limitation to have to tell the stories the world has decided are your own, when if you look at the breadth of characters handsome white males can play, they’re given access to the whole range. It’s exciting to have that same opportunity.”

Onaodowan, who is known for his range and versatility as an actor, will have to learn to play the accordion and focus more on singing than rapping, giving audiences a chance to see more of his skills. “It’s very different from what I’ve done before–there’s a lot to dig into,” he said.

The Pros and Cons of the United States Involvement in NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement is a trilateral trade deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. It was negotiated under the George H.W. Bush administration, signed by President Bill Clinton, and implemented into effect on January 1st, 1994. According to Bill Clinton, NAFTA was signed because “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t support this agreement.” This has been a very controversial statement because NAFTA has led to many jobs leaving the US into other countries, however it has also led to many jobs leaving other countries and coming into the US. With NAFTA being in the news so much lately because of President Trump wanting to pull out of it, it is important to know all of its effects.

NAFTA has created 5 million jobs since it was put into place. That is an avergage of 227,000 jobs made per year. We also now have an average of 42,000 outsourced jobs per year due to NAFTA.

In 1993 the US had a $1.7 billion trade surplus. In 2016 the US had a $54 billion trade deficit which has led to the loss of many U.S. factory jobs.

NAFTA has led to many environmental problems because environmental standards were a minor part of the agreement. This has been criticized harshly for many years with a lot of people wanting to renegotiate or pull out of the deal partly because of this.

Apparel prices have dropped 7.5% since NAFTA was implemented. This has helped the poor the most because they are able to obtain their basic needs for much cheaper. A 2015 study discovered that completely shutting off trade would lead to a 69% loss in real income for the bottom 10%.

Proponents of NAFTA claimed that it would reduce illegal immigration from Mexico.  Mexican immigration – legal or illegal – doubled from 1990 to 2000 and has been rising consistently since.

President Trump has called NAFTA “the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country” and since he took office he has quadrupled the tariffs that are still existing between Mexico and the U.S. and will likely try to pull out of it or renegotiate it.

Hugh Jackman Leaves roll as Wolverine

Hugh Jackman has played the role of Wolverine in Marvel’s The X-Men for about 17 years now ever since his first appearance in the original X-Men back in 2000. But after years of tiring work Jackman is ready to call it a wrap, with Marvel’s Logan being one of the last films that he expects to play in the role of Wolverine. Hugh Jackman states that he is uncomfortable leaving the role, as it has been a major part of his life for such a long time. He also states that “there’s been a gnawing turmoil that I hadn’t really nailed it, fully — either story or performance or whatever,” but not with Logan

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Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Logan is the real story behind Wolverine, with his life as a hero falling into darkness and torment. The idea was thought up by Jackman himself after being asked if he had to do one last movie and what would it be. After “a few wines” he blurted something out and then went home and went to sleep. He then later woke up to send a voice memo, and that became the basis for the plot.

 

The director of Logan James Mangold said in an interview, “By thinking of this as his curtain call, he arrived every day on set electric. I don’t think anyone can see this film and call it a paycheck film for him.” Hugh Jackman was not going to leave the tale of Wolverine half finished or done poorly, so he gave it his all every day in hopes that his spectacular performance would give the character of Wolverine a good ending point, one that people will remember.

 

Mr. Jackman said that he knew that the role would eventually get passed on and there would be a new Wolverine and that he was at peace with that, but then jokingly said, “unless Daniel Day-Lewis plays him and wins the Oscar — then I might have a little problem.”

 

He recently spent a lot of time in New York filming The Greatest Showman which he did not intend to pivot from The X-Men franchise, but he had been working to help develop it for some time. In this movie, he plays a showboating, larger-than-life impresario, who is almost an opposite of his role as Wolverine.

 

Hugh Jackman has decided that the newest film, Logan would be his last performance as Wolverine, and he is at peace that his role will be taken over by someone else and that he will have to see the role that he played for years being played by someone else.

 

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.

A New Calendar to Show How Far Humans Have Come

If anyone is asked what year it is, they would probably answer “2017.” But our history as humans goes much farther back than the year 0. Humans have existed for millions of years, and we have been making major achievements for thousands. What if we were to make a new calendar to accurately depict the length of our history? If so, where would we place to 0?

“Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell,” a YouTube channel run by a small group of people dedicated to producing educational “content that has value and that people actually notice and remember,” brought up this idea in a video titled “A New History for Humanity – The Human Era.” However, it has been an idea for over 20 years before this video was released. In 1993, scientist Cesare Emiliani proposed an idea of a new calendar – one that places its first year at the beginning of what he calls the “Human Era,” where we started building our world to suit our needs on top of the existing one, when we turned from hunter-gatherers to farmers. But what event marks the beginning of this “Human Era?”

Remnants of the 12,000 year old temple can still be seen today.

Ruins of the 12,000 year old temple can still be seen today.

About 12,000 years ago, hundreds of hunter-gatherers came together in the hills of Anatolia, or the area we call Turkey today, and started the world’s first construction project. Göbekli Tepe, which means “Potbelly Hill” in Turkish, was a temple made with circles of huge stone pillars, each being up to six meters tall and weighing approximately twenty tons. They were decorated with carvings of pictograms, some resembling animals and others mythical creatures. These early humans had only wood and stone tools, and knew nothing about metalworking or agriculture. To this day, we have no idea how they built this. It is believed to have been a temple dedicated to long-forgotten gods, but the one thing we know for sure is that this temple was the first of its kind.

From there, humans made huge progress that we seemingly ignore with the Gregorian calendar. It makes our history seem much shorter than it actually is. Thinking about it with this Holocene calendar, 2,000 years is just a sliver of our actual history. So, next time you look at your calendar, consider changing that year to 12,017. Don’t underestimate the extent of human history.

Police Brutality Calls for Total Overhaul of Towns Police

After a New Year’s party ends in a black citizen being forced to the ground and tased, members of the majority white town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, are speaking up against the police of the town, calling for a total overhaul of the police force.

The Town of Yellow Springs, Ohio

The Town of Yellow Springs, Ohio

On New Year’s eve the residents of the small town of Yellow Springs gathered in the streets to watch as a disco ball was dropped to the pavement, Something that the residents of this town have been doing for years. Just after midnight the police started to break up the crowd, something that they usually waited around 45 minutes to do. They did this by driving their cruisers through the crowd, lights flashing and horns buzzing. Tensions grew and several residents approached the officers to ask what they were doing. One individual was said to be drunk and disorderly, slamming his fists on the police cruiser, a claim that his lawyer says is not true. After being asked to step back officers tackled the man to the ground, after he got up and tried to run away officers tried to taze him with multiple civilians stepping in the way in order to block the taser. After this there were many different viewpoints of why the incident occurred, with the white members of community blaming it on just the fact that there was no connection from police to the people and minorities claiming that it was a racial incident, either way both parties are calling for the same thing, a big change in the town’s police.

Since this happened proposals for dealing with the situation range from replacing officers with social workers to providing subsidies to officers who come from the town, as many of them are not from the area. As a result the town has appointed one of their officers as the chief until a permanent replacement can be found.