Indian party leader shows sympathy for gang rapists

Three men were sentenced to death for gang-raping and murdering  two women on a moving bus in New Delhi. Gang rape has been a consistent problem in India. In December 2012, a 23-year-old woman was raped and beaten by several men on a bus, and the victim later died in the hospital. The government has also been tightening its regulation and law enforcement on such crime. But just when people are outraged and trying to unite together to fight this grave crime, an Indian political leader publicly described these three criminals as “pool fellows” who made “mistakes.”

Mulayam Singh Yadav, the leader of Samajwadi Party said he would try to change the law on rapist’s punishment as part of his election speeches. Yadav seemed to sympathize tremendously with the criminals and said “they are boys, they make mistakes.” Yadav’s comments enraged the mother of the 23-years-old victim. The mother said “Every day women get raped and they are all mistakes? He talks about doing away with the death sentence for rapists but parents like us feel even death is not enough for rapists. They deserve worse.”

SP’s state president Abu Azmi made a similar comments a few days ago. He told a city tabloid on Friday: “If a woman is caught (in a rape case), then both she and the boy should be punished. In India, there is death penalty for rape, but when there’s consensual sex outside marriage, there’s no death penalty against women.”

 

These instances have created outrage on social media. People tweeted with “#backingrapists” to express their anger towards these two political leaders.

 

Tweets like these kept multiplying as I search the hashtag on Twitter. Personally, I am not sure if they said these horrible things as political speech to attract male voters or do they really believe this. Although it’s hard to imagine they would be dumb enough to think someone would still align with them after what they said, I sincerely hope they don’t believe in what they said from the bottom of their heart.

It disgusts me to see these kind of atrocity would happened to young women who just happened to be on a bus. It also saddens me to see that women fear walking home alone because of how regular these crimes occurred. Atrocious crimes like this should have never happened, yet it has multiplied in India to the point that women feel insecure walking at night. Just when the government is stepping up its game to punish crime of such kind, the leaders of party running for elections expressed willingness to condone the criminals. I am not Indian but I can imagine how Indian women would feel if these party leaders become the head of the government, they might get punished for crime committed to them.

I am not a psychologist or expert on anything, but I think it all boils down to patriarchy and disrespect for women. This is India’s own fight, I cannot image us doing much as an outsiders. It’s horrifying to think that there might be some people in India who would agree with Yadav and Azmi. There definitely need to be more education and the government need to stand firm on its ground to uphold the current law and legislation, continue its effort to crack down on such crime. I hope one day there would be an end to all evil in the world.

The underpaid NCAA footballers

Is it strange that the star of the UConn men’s basketball team Shabazz Napier said he had hungry night sometimes with no food on the table? Considering NCAA is an organization that generates $11 million profits in its broadcasting contracts annually, and these players are the sole reason to make this happen.

It’s no secret that NCAA is a huge money-making machine, but it’s also surprising to know that the do not get a share in the revenue and more often than not they can’t even get a fair share of what’s promised to them.

northwestern football players plead to unionize

According to a story by the Washington Post, Northwestern student football athletes appealed for better medical coverage and fully guarantee scholarship by pleading the rights to unionize. The Chicago office of National Labor Relations Board granted these football players college employee status, therefore they can unionize and demand more protection.

On April 25th, Northwestern football players will vote whether or not they want to unionize. In fact, the players are not planning on demanding salaries (besides their scholarship.) They simply just want medical coverage to deal with the concussions and injuries they have accumulated over the years.

Pat Fitzgerald, the head coach of Northwestern University, urged his players to vote “no” to such unionization. He said, “I just do not believe we need a third-party between our players and our coaches, staff and administrators. … Whatever they need, we will get them.” Yet the question here is how to ensure the institution will keep up to its promise. If the institution is really focusing on working with students to provide what they need, why would students even want to unionize in the first place? All these questions were left unanswered with Fitzgerald’s attempt to persuade football players to blindly trust their institution and hope for the best.

NCAA PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE

Mark Emmert, the president of NCAA said “The notion of using a union employee model to address the challenges that do exist in intercollegiate athletics is something that strikes most people as a grossly inappropriate solution to the problems. It would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics.” He also said students play for the love of sports, not for the money. His response is weak in logic and makes no sense, what is the “collegiate model of athletics?” Is it the exploitation of student athletics who put in 50-60 hours a week into football related activity, not getting paid and not even a basic medical coverage? Of course it would blow up.

ARE UNIVERSITY incapable of PAYing MEDICAL COVERAGE?

Fitzgerald got paid over $2 million annually. According to USA Today’s data, the highest paid coach in 2013 made over $5 million. If universities are able to pay their head coaches the astronomical sum, you would think they can provide medical coverages for their student athletes. But no, that is not a guarantee.

what happens in the future?

It’s hard to know what the outcome of Northwestern students’ voting would be. Northwestern students may choose to unionize, maybe not. But these whole series of issues once again urged people to pay more attention to the “grossly expanding” disparity between players and coaches.

As a college RA who have had my fair share of clashes and frustration with football players on weekends, they still don’t deserved to be treated like underpaid cheap laborer for the institutions. Something has to change, and it needs to happen fast.

VIC Radio DJs stayed up to 50 hours for local non-profit fundraising effort

Weekend is the time for students to relax and have fun, but it’s still uncommon for them to stay up all weekend. This past weekend, four student DJs at Ithaca College stayed up for 50 hours for VIC radio’s 28th Annual 50 Hours Marathon.

Fundraiser for local non-profit

Each year VIC Radio at Ithaca College raises money for local non-profit charity organization through a 50 hours long radio show with different programs. Throughout the 50 hours, there will always be two DJs on air. The DJs for this year are Patrick Hayes, a senior history major; David Sperling, a senior TVR major; Jess Lubas, a junior Environmental Studies major; Joseph Calinda, a sophomore Film & Photography major.

This year VIC Radio is raising money for the Veterans’ Sanctuary. Shannon Anthony, the community involvement director at VIC Radio, is in charge of finding the non-profit organization to support. “I just go through a list of non-profit in the area, and from that I picked a top three and the executive staff vote on it,” Anthony said.

Different Programming throughout the 50 hours

Veterans’ Sanctuary is a local organization that provides various programs to assist veterans transitioning back into their civilian life, with a specific focus on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. These programs include a writing workshop called “Warrior Writers” and community outreach events, etc. Jenny Pacanowski, the facilitator for “Warrior Writers”, also a veteran herself, said the program helps to get veterans together to share their experiences. “People understand where we am coming from, it’s a safe environment without judgment or criticism,” Pacanowski said.

Pacanowski came to the studio on Saturday to perform a poetry about the post-veteran experience along with two other veterans from the Veterans’ Sanctuary. Lubas was the DJ when the veterans went on air. “[Their works] highlights the artistic, creative outlets that the group (Warrior Writers) gives them,” Lubas said. Besides the poetry readings, the marathon also scheduled interviews with artists that the station has featured, such as “Youngblood Hawke,” “Cosmo Jarvis,” “Moon Taxi,” etc.

The DJs experience

Lubas considers this a great educational opportunity for her personally and for the group. “Through this we have to learn about different organizations that we wouldn’t have known otherwise, and get to spread the word,” Lubas said.

The primary objective for the 50 Hours Marathon is to raise fund. VIC Radio set up an online platform to receive donations. Each hour is sponsored by a person, business, or organization. By the end of the Marathon, VIC Radio has raised a total of $3631.69.

17 year old got in all 8 Ivy League, but wait, he’s black…

There are many jokes on April Fools day. The news of an African-American male got into all 8 Ivy League schools also went viral online. People thought it was a April Fools joke, but it’s not.

Kwasi Enin, a 17-year-old student from Long Island, N.Y., got into all eight Ivy League schools he applied to. He hasn’t decided on which school to attend, but his legendary story has already fired up all over the internet. There are many sincere Congratulations and words of encouragement coming from all directions.

There are haters out there

But unfortunately, Kwasi’s African-American background also adds an element of intricacy to the situation. Among the “Congratulations” and “admirations,” there are also many racially-charged rants and voice of bitterness on the internet. Reddit started a page called “17-year-old accepted to all 8 Ivy League colleges.” The page now has over 2 million readers and endless pages of comments. Many comments are the same old saying about “Affirmative Actions” and how a “white equivalent would not get in with the same credentials.” Here are some of the comments:

- Ughhh. Black folks get all the breaks.

- The children of affluent Africans are not members of this minority group. They do not suffer under the legacy of black slavery, nor do they have a history with American segregation.

- I’m gonna get real with you reddit, no matter how pissed this makes you it doesn’t change the fact that he would not have had this absurd success if he was a white kid.

- aaaannnnddd heeeees black of course..

Congratulations on your accomplishments, but it must help having a name like Kwasi Enin.

Why are some people so angry at kwasi’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

I am sick and tired of sifting through all these comments because there are way too many of them out there. It’s sad and frustrating to see how people can write such hurtful these comments strangers on the Internet. And I cannot even imagine what Kwasi would feel personally had he read through all these comments.

I don’t really care if he got in because of his name or his race, he is a great student with lots of impressive accomplishments: he scored a 2250 on the SAT; he played music and he is a good athlete; he has good ranking and GPA. Simply attributing his success to Affirmative Action is degrading and being deliberately oblivious to his personal worth and the hard work he put in. Again it’s not his fault that he got into all eight Ivy League Schools.

This world needs a bit more love and respect, not haters and cynicism. 

News content compromised by business reality, and where’s our future?

For start-up journalist like me, two most important questions I ask: Where does journalism get the money from and is the digitization of media revitalizing the morbid industry? Pew Research recently published two studies that attempt to address these two questions.

Source of revenue is something I always think about from the day I decided to be in journalism: where does the money come from? How do news organizations pay their employees a decent wage with the stuff they are producing? Especially for community newspaper, the subscription fee is barely enough to cover anything and no one seems to be reading the paper either.

How do good journalists have their ends met?

What I was thinking before was: if you write good articles and you are a good journalist. Someone will pay you somehow. And that is true to a certain extent. Al Jazeera, probably one of the best news organization in the world, is funded entirely by the Qatari government. They don’t have to worry about revenue streams, that’s why they can focus entirely on quality content. CCTV, the state media in China is also entirely funded by the Communist Party. Companies like Al Jazeera and CCTV do not have to worry about recruitment like other companies do, because they can offer the most competitive salaries and they can always get the best and the brightest in the industry. (A reporter job requires a minimum of 10 years experience, what the heck?) So if you are good enough of a journalist, having your ends met with a big surplus wouldn’t be a problem. There will be people, either the government or billionaire like Pierre Omidyar who are willing to pay you. But for start-ups like us, that’s simply not an option.

Online Digital Content Generation

Then we move on to the article about the growth in digital reporting. As most people are starting to get their news from online sources, there are a lot of things could be done there. News media are relentlessly looking for creative ways to increase web traffic and to attract readership. For the tech savvy millennial generation we have much to offer in that area.  Positions like “Digital Content Manager” and “Social Media Intern” are quickly emerging, none of these position existed ten years ago. News companies have invested heavily in their online portion. As I am getting more active on Twitter I realize how much traffic a news site can create simply by constantly tweeting links to articles with interesting nut graphs. Hopefully this increased traffic will also drive up revenue so people won’t be massively laid off in the near future.

What about “real journalism?”

It’s so sad when news content must be compromised by business reality. Publishing a “Miley Cyrus tweeking” story is definitely more profitable than a story about a Middle Eastern conflict from a business standpoint. As journalists, it is our responsibility to report on issues of social importance. This ideal is not always in line with the reality.

It’s becoming an inevitable trend for media start-ups to go into the digital/online kind of work, but how can this experience help us build up our portfolios so we can become better journalists? That’s my biggest question and my biggest concern.

New SAT partially addresses educational inequality

The change to improve educational inequality

In the grand scheme of college admission, SAT was once an important predictor of applicants’ academic success. Its role has been on a gradual decline as more college made the submission of SAT optional. The College Board is aware of the criticism and earlier in March it announced a revised SAT test that would be implemented in Spring 2016.

The new SAT aims to address the educational inequality it has created, in addition to the changes on the test itself. The College Board has partnered up with Khan Academy to provide free online test prep.

Taj Harvey, a junior Communication Studies major at Ithaca College, said he was fortunate enough because his family saved money for him to take SAT prep classes. “I also know kids from my high school who lacked that financial support to do the same so that’s definitely a privilege I’ve never taken for granted,” Harvey said.

Correlation between family income and test scores

Research shows that there is a persistent correlation between one’s family income level and their SAT scores. Fair Test, a standardized testing watchdog group created this chart that shows such correlation.

Harvey said he believe family income will keep students from performing their best potential score. “Socioeconomic status plays a huge part in a lot of things in our culture, especially in educational opportunities,” Harvey said, “If you can’t afford to send your son or your daughter to training session, or be able to get them a book that’s necessary for them to practice on their own. That can be a huge difference between what that child’s potential score could be versus what it might actually be.”

This correlation is more clearly manifested with the burgeoning test prep industry. “[Private test prep industry] drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” College Board President and CEO David Coleman told NBCNews.com, and he thinks the new partnership with Khan Academy will “provide the world with free test-preparation materials.”

Currently, students with low-income only have access to public resources to help them prepare for the test, such as books from the public libraries. “Usually libraries in low income communities will stock up on books on the SAT and other tests,” Monique Markoff said,  an adjunct professor in the Education department. “And they also rely on the teachers who are willing to go to the extra miles to teach.”

Test Prep industry will remain competitive

Since the change was announced, many think test prep industry will take a huge setback. But there are also experts that disagree. Robert Shaeffer, the director of FairTest, told NBCNews.com that this initiative would still be able to give wealthy students an extra lift.

Markoff said the test prep industry would be just fine because of the in-person experience it provides. “There will always be a contingent of people that want someone that is telling them they are doing well, even if they can get the same strategy from an online course. There is something to be said about that face-to-face component and that will not diminish in value.” Markoff said.

SAT will not be out of the admission process, but college should give “soft numbers” more weight

Despite the criticism, Markoff said she did not see a trend in eliminating the SAT score in the admission process, but there is a trend towards lessening the importance of it. “The SAT is important because it does standardize. However, how colleges weight that, is what they can alter. If colleges start weighing GPA higher, or extra curricular activities and other softer numbers in college admission, that would be a lot more fair, and would attract a lot more students of various background,” Markoff said.

 

 

Oil drilling in Yasuni, the last resort for a bleak economy

Ecuador Amazon Oil

Recently I heard from a professor that Ecuadorian government has granted Chinese Developmental Bank a drilling license for oil on an area in the Amazon jungle. The native people that lived there was ready to fight the government with their weapons in an effort to resist the drilling team from Chinese Development Bank. My professor guesses that the whole group of people will disappear if they fight the government, but they are ready for that. He plans to go there and cover the story because otherwise the whole group will disappear without a trace and no one will even hear about it.

The story itself saddens me, especially because the main driving force for their extinction is an offer from a Chinese company. So I did a bit of research and found that the Ecuadorian government has already signed a deal with China and the indigenous group caved in, while “asking for financial help from the government to fund education, healthcare and land rights,” according to a report by the International Business Times.

The reason behind the deal

According to Ecuadorian President Correa, the country “needed the investment.” Ecuador holds crude oil reserves worth more than $7.2 billions at today’s prices. While ensuring “the most stringent environmental procedures would be followed,” it’s highly unlikely the indigenous population can still have their land intact and unharmed.

The more frustrating part is that, letting foreign enterprise drilling in Amazon jungle is not the only option. According to a petition created by Ivonne Y., an Ecuadorian, “If President Correa raised taxes on the 110 biggest businesses in Ecuador by 1.5%--which now pay a measly 2.9%--it would raise $20 billion, more than exploiting Yasuní-ITT.”

In the same petition, it also highlights the environmental/biological harm if the drilling happen:

- slow climate change by keeping 400 million additional tons of CO2 underground

- protect one of the last refuges of the American jaguar and millions of species of plants and animals

- defend some of world’s last people living in voluntary isolation

There are other downfalls that has already happened in many part of the country: shortage of clean water, increased risk of getting cancer and so on. What evenly more disturbing is the lack of transparency in the whole process; China has a habit of hiding the truth if things go bad even in its country, let alone in Ecuador where there is very limited outside attention.

Conclusion

For now, it’s a blatantly bad situation. Everybody knows this will be a one way street, even the Ecuadorian government. But they are still going through with the contract and disregard the environmental harm that has already been repeated in other parts of the country and in neighboring countries. Again, for netizens like us, there is not much we can do but to spread awareness and just hope that President Correa will have a change of heart. And if he has to go on with this, he would cling on to the promises he made to the indigenous population and provide them with the proper assistance.