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Radiation Not Expected to Affect Californians

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By Marc Magallanes

3/21/2011

Overhead view of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant

As the rain falls in Southern California, concerns rise with the possible nuclear fallout from the malfunctioning Fukushima Daiichi power plant reaching the United States mainland. Experts believe that the plumes initially arrived on Friday, March 18, on the west coast of the United States. No unusual increases in radiation levels have been detected. However, this has not stopped citizens taking preventative measures, including stockpiling potassium iodide tablets believed to protect thyroid glands from radioactive exposure.

 This nuclear accident, possibly the largest since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, was the result of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The redundancies built in to prevent a meltdown of the nuclear reactor were destroyed by the 9.0 earthquake and the resultant 10 meter (32.8 feet) tidal wave that managed to easily top the 5.7 meter (18.7 feet) wall. Without electricity provided to power the water pumps needed to cool the nuclear rods, the cores threatened to meltdown, an action which would release radioactive material into the environment. Japanese officials remain hopeful to stop a total nuclear meltdown in all reactors.

 President Obama reassured states along the Pacific Ocean that there was no expected harm. He said, “Whether it’s the west coast, Hawaii, Alaska or U.S. territories in the Pacific, we do not expect harmful levels of radiation. That’s the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts.” Experts such as South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Philip Fine corroborated Obama’s statement saying, “We have not detected any increases beyond what you’d expect historically. Nothing you can attribute to Japan.” Officials said whatever radiation in the atmosphere will be greatly diluted by the time it arrives 5,000 miles to California. Some have raided local pharmacies for potassium iodide to prevent the possibility of thyroid cancer. Any misusage of the potassium iodide may cause more harm than good, especially for those who take the incorrect dosage and people who have allergies to iodine, shellfish, or those with thyroid problems.

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Written by cromo1969

March 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Posted in World

Some Thoughts on This Week’s Heroes

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By Chris Ferro

3/21/2011

Defining a hero in modern American culture is a difficult task. On one end of the spectrum there are people like Charlie Sheen who publicly humiliate themselves for the sake of attention. On the other end there are soldiers in Iraq who live, fight, and die each day in the name of liberty. It seems that in the 21st century the former example fits the definition of “hero.” But does it really? Does a man who claims to have “tiger blood” have the guts to endure a firefight? Does a man who claims to be related to Adonis have the courage to search through a burning building for any survivors?

If a celebrity was to switch places with your average citizen for a day, maybe they could see the true definition of a hero. Maybe they could witness the daily agony of a firefighter, policeman, or janitor. Maybe they could contemplate their own actions and, for once, keep their lives to themselves.

As amusing as Charlie Sheen may be, I no longer enjoy seeing his face daily. The sad reality is that if the earthquake and tsunami didn’t occur in Japan, we’d still be subjected to his miserable life. The lead story on the news would still be “what Charlie Sheen said today”. Luckily, reality obscures the unreal. Which is more real: the whining of a grown millionaire or the suffering of thousands of Japanese villagers?

It is unfortunate that people need a reminder of what life really is. Most of the world doesn’t care about Charlie Sheen or his antics. The reality is that most of the world undergoes harsh tragedies and we do nothing to make them better. We sit at home poking fun at Charlie Sheen, and I am one of those people. I was closely watching his every move. For a week I had forgotten about reality. I had forgotten about what a hero truly is like, then the earthquake off the coast of Japan hit. It was soon followed by a devastating tsunami that inundated everything in its way. I woke up. The world of our designated distractions is but a dream. Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Auschwitz, Chernobyl, Pearl Harbor, Haiti, and Japan are the realities.

Thankfully, with every reality comes a hero. To me, the people living in Japan at the present moment are heroes. They have witnessed close relatives die and have watched their homes float away. They have searched through the rubble trying to find any fellow survivors. They know what real blood looks and feels like, and as a result, they are the ones with tiger blood.

But let’s not forget about our local heroes: the men and women who voluntarily devote their time to people they’ve never seen or met before, the martyrs who love their fellow human beings, and the heroes that search the rubble (alongside the Japanese) just for the hope that someone might still be alive. These people are related to Adonis, and I don’t care how much money Charlie Sheen donates to the earthquake/tsunami relief fund, because he doesn’t know what it is like to step into their shoes. He doesn’t understand that no amount of money can assuage the pangs of despair. The damage has been done.

In a few months the tragedy in Japan will fade away into the shadows of other natural disasters and newsworthy occurrences. In a few months the American public will be subjected to the daily whims of celebrities and non-heroes alike. Another disaster will then unfold in some unexpected area of the world and the wheels of reality will turn once again. The heroes are the one constant in all of this. No matter the time, area, or situation they will be there, and they will heed the hero’s call.

Written by cromo1969

March 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Posted in World

Revolution Rattles Libya, Gaddafi Retaliates

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By Christian Romo

3/1/2011

As the second month of 2011 comes to a close, it has already been one of the most newsworthy years in recent memory. The Sudanese in the south voted for separation, rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt have created a quick, dramatic change in leadership, and social revolutions have broken out in Bahrain, Djibouti, Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, and China.

The most compelling story of the year, however, is still unfolding in Libya where anti-government protestors have enacted a full-scale revolution against 40+ year dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In the past two weeks, anti-Gaddafi forces have taken the cities of Zawiya and Benghazi but have made little progress in capturing the capital city of Tripoli.

Gaddafi, unlike ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, has shown no reluctance in denouncing and attacking his opponents. In a series of bizarre television appearances, Gaddafi has blamed the revolution on Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden’s plan of spiking Libyan coffee with hallucinogenic drugs. Pro-Gaddafi forces have come out in droves teaming up with the military to silence the revolution. Clashes in Tripoli have killed nearly 1,000 demonstrators, but the opposition and scare tactics have not stopped the flow of the revolution. Thousands of Libyan men have enlisted for a rebel force that isn’t even organized yet. The scattered rebels have already liberated the eastern part of the country from military rule.

Gaddafi (right) with Italian P.M. Silvio Berlusconi

The Obama administration, which was hesitant to support the upheaval of Mubarak in Egypt, has come out in full support of the revolutionary forces in Libya. Gaddafi is reputed to be one of the most brutal dictators still in power and has caught the public attention in recent years with his ranting speeches at the United Nations and his record of inhumane practices.

The UN has imposed weapons sanctions and a funding freeze as Gaddafi looks to maintain control of Tripoli. Nearly 100,000 Libyans have fled across the border into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, some relaying information from the successful Tunisian and Egyptian protests. International humane societies, such as Amnesty International, have started to call the situation in Libya a “humanitarian crisis”.

The organization of demonstrators in Tripoli has been strong, but scattered. Internet access in Libya, a rarity to begin with, is now even sketchier and is giving organizers a difficult time without access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Many people didn’t see the government upheavals of Egypt and Tunisia coming, but a successful revolution in Libya may create lasting shockwaves throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Many countries are already organizing anti-government demonstrations while larger countries such as Iran, fresh off last year’s dramatic presidential election, may be susceptible to the revolutionary fever.

 If anything can be predicted, it’s that the events in Libya will unfold slower than the events of Tunisia and Egypt. Even if Gaddafi prevails and maintains control of his people, his influence will be lessened and the fight will continue elsewhere. Nearly a dozen countries have experienced anti-government sentiment in the first couple months of 2011, and big players such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China may be next. It will be interesting to see how the world looks ten months from now.

Written by cromo1969

March 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Posted in World

Bahrain: An Island in Turmoil

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By Sean McCreary

3/1/2011

Bahrain, a small oil-rich island nation in the Persian Gulf, is not particularly well known to most Americans.   Recently, this has changed as the chaos in the Middle East has spilled over into another Arab nation with a tremendous youth bulge.  Not only are the young protesters in the streets of Bahrain bitter over the lack of economic opportunities for themselves, there is also an added layer of ethnic tension with a Sunni Muslim minority ruling over the Shia majority. 

Such an ethnic imbalance is reminiscent of Saddam Husain’s Iraq and present-day Saudi Arabia, with the latter taking extensive precautionary measures to prevent a similar situation from developing within its borders.  Sunni-Shia animosity has flared up before in Bahrain between 1994 and 2000, tensions which left over forty dead and many hundreds wounded.

During the current protests, the international community has been genuinely shocked at the brutality displayed by the Bahrain Defense Force, which is primarily equipped with American weapons systems. The nation is also the base for the Navy’s 5th fleet with reports of shooting into massive crowds of protestors at the Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain’s version of Egypt’s Tahrir Square.  

After funeral services were held for several demonstrators killed on the 15th of February, police fired on mourners and even emergency personnel that were attempting to load the wounded into ambulances.  The drain on medical resources led to the halting of practice sessions for the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix Formula One race, with the event having since been postponed indefinitely due to the deteriorating security situation. 

On the 22nd of February a crowd of anti-government protestors was estimated to number in excess of 250,000, more than 12% of the entire nation’s population. As of press time, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators continue to demand the release of political prisoners with many more extreme groups demanding the abolishment of the monarchy. 

The situation on the ground continues to be uncertain, with the monarchy maintaining a strong hold on power while demonstrators refuse to back down.  As a major oil-producing power, the outcome of the Bahrain protests carries global significance and the rest of the world is sure to be watching closely.

Written by cromo1969

March 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Posted in World

Editorial: Egyptian Rebellion or Revolution?

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By Chris Ferro

3/1/2011

The headline of the Los Angeles Times for Tuesday, February 15, 2011 reads, “Tide of Revolt Sweeps Mideast.” The first line: “Inspired by Egypt and Tunisia, protesters in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen rally to demand reforms.” So, people are actually influenced by the actions of others? A revolt or “revolution” in one nation can cause others to attempt the same? I had no idea.

I’m sure that the actions of America in 1776 influenced the French in 1789 have no relevance. It’s shocking to believe that the Middle East has been a hot pocket since the 1960’s. I have no recollection of Desert Storm or the War in Iraq. These events seem to have taken place so long ago.

If we were to go back in time to, let’s say, 1776, the British newspaper headlines would read, “Tide of Revolt Sweeps America.” The first line: “Inspired by the actions of Philadelphia, colonies in Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey have rallied together to demand reforms.” People actually standing up for what they believe in; at the time, this was an outrage! Luckily, England happened to be 3,000 miles away, and with the support of foreign countries such as France and Spain, we won our independence.

So what do historians call this event? The American Revolution. In 1789, what is the “revolting” called? The French Revolution. What exactly is the difference between a revolt and a revolution? First I thought about the bloodshed. It’s safe to say that a revolution has a fair amount of bloodshed. Then I pondered the aftermath of such events. America wrote the Constitution and became one of the most powerful nations in the world. France, slowly but surely, decayed itself on the inside and returned to its pre-revolutionary status.

These examples represent the extremes of rebelling against the system, or “raging against the machine”, so to speak. Fast forward two hundred and thirty-four years and you can see a similar type of situation is unfolding in the Middle East. People are, once again, revolting against their oppressors in the name of democracy.

It does not surprise me that people in the East are tired of fighting. If I lived my entire life in perpetual movement from one bunker to the next, entrapment in a camp for ten years, and a gun placed in my hand for self-defense, I would be sick of it too. I might even consider revolting.

But there’s no such thing as a peaceful revolt. That’s an oxymoron. America didn’t win its independence by standing by and watching British soldiers invade their homes. France didn’t overthrow its monarchy through nonviolent resistence. Unfortunately, actions speak louder than words. Back then people didn’t have the common sense enough to realize that a sit-down strike is just as effective as a war, sans bloodshed. Well, history often repeats itself. I hope the revolts in Egypt and the other Middle Eastern nations don’t end up being another “revolution.” If so, let’s hope it turns out more like us than France.

Written by cromo1969

March 1, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Posted in World

Youth Empowered: The Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt

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By Sean McCreary

2/1/2011

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

For the past several weeks, the world’s attention has been drawn to the tumultuous developments of two North African nations who have risen up against oppressive dictators almost out of nowhere. 

In Tunisia, a country that had endured the oppressive power of ex-President Ben Ali for almost twenty-five years, a sudden outburst of protests and popular discontent has ousted him from power in less than a month.  The great majority of the newly free Tunisians did not rally behind their own Lech Walesa, but instead were united by their overwhelming youthful desire for freedom.  Like most of the Arab region, Tunisia has a very young population that has, until now, been cut off from the great political and social freedoms that have swept youth in the West and elsewhere in the world.  The Tunisian military has even supported the new government, highlighting the overwhelming popular outrage for the former dictator’s regime.  So far, the general situation of the streets has been one of celebration for the new government and pandemonium has been skillfully avoided. 

The same cannot be said for the situation in Egypt, another American-backed government (with $1.4 billion in military aid last year) that is currently experiencing the early stages of what could eventually turn out to be a violent revolution.  Egyptians of all walks of life and many young students eager for change have defied government orders to disperse for the past week as street demonstrations have often turned into violent clashes between protestors and riot police.  There is a similar desire for political and economic freedom between Tunisians and Egyptians, but Egypt’s President Hosni Sayyid Mubarak has a much stronger grip on his power and is not likely to give up as easily as Ben Ali.  

For now, the larger importance of these two revolutionary movements in changing the political landscape of the Muslim world and beyond has yet to be determined, but they do clearly illustrate the power of young people in government.  The power brokering elite in Tunisia and Egypt thought they could simply ignore the great majority of their population and get away with it only to find out just how wrong they were.  This illustrates the fact that power derives only from the consent of the governed, and even our generation should learn from these events.  Just like in Tunisia and Egypt, the youth of America has the power to change our society dramatically and cannot take for granted its precious gifts of freedom.

Written by cromo1969

February 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Posted in World

Mark Twain’s Autobiography Released After a Century of Waiting

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By Chris Ferro

12/6/10

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” –Mark Twain

Mark Twain was born on November 30th, 1835 and died on April 21st, 1910. In those seventy-five years, he was able to obtain the prestige and notoriety in which few writers can claim. Dubbed the “greatest satirist of the 20th century”, Twain changed the landscape of literary prose. Through his caustic criticism and violent animosity to all things hypocritical, he expressed all of his opinions via the plethora of books, essays and short stores he manufactured throughout his career. Either hated or loved by those who read him, his influence on American culture is widely prevalent. Regardless of opinions towards the author, he is greatly respected and known by all.

In his will, Twain requested that the manuscript of his autobiography, which he wrote several years before his death, was to be published a hundred years after his death. At the time of his death Twain was well known for his controversial published works, but even this maneuver seemed a bit extreme for him.

Due to his immense popularity, several excerpts of his autobiography were published in advance. However, the wishes of his will were mostly kept intact, and the official release did not occur until November of this year. The autobiography will consist of several parts, each being released at different times. Volume one discusses Twain’s early childhood to teenage years. Of course, no Twain piece would be complete without several pages of diatribes and musings, and these are scattered within the autobiography. Whether it is a vehement attack on slavery or the denouncing of his publisher, Twain elegantly interpolates his style with his trademark talent of description.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published in 1876, placed Twain on the American literary scene as an ingenious storyteller and expert setting descriptor. But the sequel to this classic tale, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, did not receive such a glorious review. By far the more controversial of the two, Huck Finn caused massive outage throughout the country, especially in the South, where the story was set. It is through this story that Twain’s negative opinions regarding slavery and southern code are expressed. The novel was years ahead of its time, and as a result was not widely accepted by American culture at the time.

The autobiography expands upon Twain’s opinions tenfold. By the end of his life, Twain had become hypercritical of every aspect of society. He even wrote a series of short essays in which he took the role of the devil and condemned the actions of humanity. It is apparent that if the autobiography was released in 1910, it would be too much for the public to interpret and thus would have been deemed as controversial and swept under the rug. Twain predicted this and decided to have it released in 2010. Every biting satire and brutal depiction makes Twain’s writing even more intriguing and appealing to the senses. This autobiography has solidified Twain’s place in history.

It is no surprise, then, why the autobiography has been topping the bestsellers list ever since its release. The entrance into the life of a literary genius and madman is an experience few have the honor to receive. Every page verifies Twain’s legacy. Reading such a work is a once in a lifetime experience and must be read by fans of Twain and writing in general. A

Written by cromo1969

December 6, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Posted in World

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