Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 – Remembrance Day Assembly, Special Guest: Gim Wong
Friday, December 10th – Friday, December 10th
Monday, December 13th – Friday, December 17th – Christmas Spirit Week
By: Thea Sample, Grade 10
The United Nations (UN) has been declaring international “theme” years in order to draw attention to important issues, and 2012 is the official Year of Co-operatives. This means that co-ops are being recognized for all the wonderful things they do in countries around the world.
Do you belong to a co-op? If you are a member of Vancity or another credit union, belong to Mountain Equipment Co-op, or live in a housing co-op then the answer is yes. If you shop at a food co-op or the Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive then you are also supporting co-ops. There is something all of these places have in common. They are a unique type of organization: a co-operative.
What is a co-op? Co-ops are different from businesses which are owned by individual people or corporations (like banks) which are owned by shareholders. A co-op is an organization or a business that is owned by its members. Co-ops are accountable to their members and reflect their members’ needs and are not just concerned about making profits. They are usually locally controlled and, as well as providing services for members, also provide services for the communities they operate in.
We are surrounded by co-ops and we may not even realize it. About 17 million people in Canada are members of at least one co-op but most do not know the extent of the social and economic impact they have on this country and around the world.
A recent public opinion survey shows that “Canadians view co-operatives as trustworthy, well-run businesses that provide good customer service and create jobs that help support local communities.”
Co-ops also provide a substantial number of jobs throughout the world. According to the International Labour Organization, “…co-ops provide more than 100 million jobs, more than all the world’s multinational corporations combined.”
The Cooperative Association of British Columbia runs Camp YES each summer to teach teenagers about co-operative values including concern for community and learning to work within a group. At Camp YES, participants also learn about fair trade and the environmental consequences of producing and shipping cheap goods.
The UN is raising the profile of Co-ops in 2012 because they know co-ops play an important role in economies, from providing housing to banking services.
By: By Emily Chan, Grade 12
Looking for some easy-to-understand information on the Tea Party? You’ve come to the right place. The Tea Party is a political movement in the US, whose members have been in the news lately because of their controversial views and protests. They’ve been labelled as racist and homophobic, but who are we to judge? Throughout this article, you should be able to conclude your own opinions on this movement; these are merely the opinions of some. The name has come from the Boston Tea Party (long story short. British colonists destroyed tea instead of paying a tax that they believed violated their rights in 1773).
This party isn’t a national political party, nor has it appeared on any ballots to date. However, they have held various “protests” to express their points of views. And what are they? Here are a few statistics for you, from a University of Washington poll of 1,695 voters: 73% of Tea Party supporters disapprove of Obama’s policy of engaging Muslim countries, 82% don’t believe gay/lesbian couples should have the legal right to marry, and 52% believe that gays/lesbians have too much political power. A very small percentage of supporters believe global warming to be a serious problem, a smaller percentage than the general public. Hmmmm.
By the way, guess who’s on the band wagon? That’s right, Sarah Palin. According to writers Rasmussen and Schoen, Palin is “the symbolic leader of the movement, and more than anyone else has helped to shape it.” A large portion of their funding has come from an anonymous donor in September 2010; $1,000,000 to be precise. Sarah Palin was also a large contributor for four of their bus tours (a way to fundraise for candidates). But who really runs it? Dick Morris, a political analyst, says that the movement is made up of smaller local groups. The teapartypatriots.org group has 2,800 members, with only 7 paid employees.
They wanted the Democrats and Republicans to sign on to their contract, “The Contact of America,” which was made through an online voting process. The contract, according to one of the leaders, is based on individual liberty, limited government and economic freedom; but no Democrats have signed on and the contract has also met large resistance from the Republicans. Here are 5 out of the total of 10 agenda items on their contract.
1.) Identify constitutionality of every new law: In other words, the Congress will need to identify which specific part in the Constitution allows them to pass every new law.
2.) Reject emissions trading: Stop “cap and trade” to control carbon dioxide, and instead give money for reducing CO2 emissions.
3.) Demand a balanced federal budget: Institute a balanced budget, with two-thirds majority needed for tax modifications.
4.) Simplify the tax system: Get rid of the Internal Revenue Code and replace it with a simple, single-rate tax system that’s the same length of the original Constitution (4,543 words)
5.) Repeal the healthcare legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Get rid of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Since then, this contact is still as stands. It has gotten very harsh attacks from the Democrats, paraphrasing the contract to support the following (copied directly from the Democrats’ website):
1.) Put the big banks back in charge of student loans and put an end to federal assistance for public schools.
2.) Gut the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act — which together protect our kids from air pollution and keep drinking water safe — and disband the watchdog that holds polluters accountable.
3.) Take away your right to pick your U.S. Senator.
4.) Put insurance companies back in charge and repeal tax credits for small businesses.
5.) Phase out and end Medicare as it presently exists for future generations of seniors — ending Medicare’s guaranteed healthcare benefits for more than 40 million American seniors — and replace it with a voucher system which will result in higher premiums and fewer services for seniors.
To be honest, I wasn’t even able to match up these two completely different interpretations of this contract; the first from the Tea Party, and the second from the Democrats. I’ll leave that up for your judgement.
This movement is more Republican-friendly than Democrats. The New York Times reports that 138 candidates running for Congress have significant Tea Party support – and all 138 of them are Republicans. Think about that: it’s a pretty large majority. As well, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll reported 35% of voters were Tea-party supporters, in which 94% supported Republicans and 10% supported the Democrats.
Mark Mardell of BBC News has an interesting view on this party, claiming, “fury tends to dissolve into concern, worry about the economic direction of the country, worry about the size of the government and the level of taxation.” His interpretation of this movement goes so far as to foresee economic and governmental destruction. This is no small grassroots movement. It may have started that way, but it’s growing. And fast.
By: Eric Lam, Grade 11
It has been half a year since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 19th, 2010. The oil spill lasted for 3 months as the oil gushed out of the oil well at an alarming rate. They had reported that 162,000 barrels were spilled. The devastating effects of the oil spill impacted the local environment and, like all other major and minor oil spills, it must be remembered always. This sort of environmental catastrophe and the large scale of casualties it brings may leave behind all kinds of long-term problems that we are forced to spend countless days and dollars to fix. Thus, pressing onward for better solutions in dealing with such problems. The BP methods are inhumane and unreasonable; their choices only added more problems on the list. The corporation’s irresponsible decision avoided taking things into their own hands.
By: Shawna Becker, Grade 9
The perfect Christmas gift, which will be sure to keep you off Christmas loans, will make your loved ones fill with joy is the sight of YOU making them their own personal Christmas gift. If you don’t know where to start with homemade gifts, you can start by reading up my personal homemade Christmas gift ideas.
The Make-In-A-Snap Gift:
Looking for an easy, fast, and cheap way to make a Christmas gift? Well, here is one of my favourite Make-In-A-Snap gifts.
1. Old clothing that you don’t mind ruining
2. Red, green and black sharpies
3. White, green and red fabric
4. Hot glue gun or sewing instruments
Steps to take:
1. Have the person’s friends and family autograph and comment with the red, green and black sharpies on the clothing (Make sure to not leave any blank spots!)
2. With the coloured fabric, write and cut out your own Christmas greeting and signature. Then, use a hot glue gun (or sewing tools) to attach it onto the gift. (Make sure you are not covering up anybody else’s signature while doing so)
3. Wait for it to dry, and TADA! The fast, cheap, homemade Christmas gift that will make anyone feel warm and fuzzy inside and be thankful for the wonderful gift!
Now, there is more than one way to shoot down a target! Here’s a gift that’s considered more suited for girls than guys.
2. Red, green and white beads, plus alphabetical (with letters) beads
Now, this gift idea has been going on for generations and it is called the beaded necklace. It is not only cheap and handcrafted, but also very fun to make!
Steps to take:
1. Put the different-coloured beads on the string. After that, in the right order, put on your Christmas greeting with the alphabetical beads!
With a doubt, the number 1 cheap, homemade gift that makes a person smile on Christmas morning is making your own ornament!
1. A plain white Christmas decoration
2. Any sort of craft supplies you want (I suggest pipe cleaners, glitter glue, and beads.)
3. Hot glue gun
Steps to take:
1. Create your own personal design with the craft supplies you have and use a hot glue gun to attach it onto the ornament! Easier than Ms. Claus baking a fruit cake!
Now, if you don’t like any of my ideas, you could always use them as ideas to come up with your own Christmas gifts! Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with something better!
Taurus – Do you see the white flurries in the air yet? No? Yes? Either way, you can’t wait for the white stuff to start falling from the sky. You want to build a snowman, and you want to build it now!
Gemini – For some reason, that one food that you hate is now something you absolutely love. And, as the story always goes, while you’re busy munching on that food, of course you’ll start to hate it again.
Cancer – This month, you might have a bit of trouble lowering the volume of your voice. Of course, it won’t sound like that you’re raising your voice to you, but once you see everyone plugging their ears, you’ll realize that now’s the time to use your inside voice.
Leo – This coming December, all you’ll want to sing are holiday songs. You don’t want a lot for Christmas? Or are you going to deck the halls with boughs of holly? Enjoy this feeling while you can; the holiday season, unfortunately, will be over before you know it.
Virgo – The holiday warmth might not affect you at all for the first part of December. It just might feel like… just another month. Don’t worry! It’ll strike you as soon as the second half of December comes nearer. Then you’ll be ready to celebrate!
Libra – The snow and the crisp coldness will put you into a happy, whimsical mood this December. Snowball fights! Snow angels! Snowmen! So much to do with snow! The winter only lasts so long, so enjoy now!
Scorpio – This month you will crave only cake and nothing but cake. You won’t know why, either. You’ll want cake more and more until you finally give in and bake or buy a cake. And it will be the best.
Sagittarius – This month you’ll have the worst realization; Midterms are coming. And they won’t be fun. As long as you study, of course, they won’t be that bad. Maybe you should start to hit the books soon…
Capricorn – This December you’ll be feeling kind of goofy. Maybe it’s the fact that the year’s ending is combined with giddiness from the holiday season. Whatever it is, you’ll be feeling goofy and silly and nobody can stop you.
Aquarius – Although it’s freezing cold outside, you might want to go swimming with your buddies, just because. All that rain that’s falling might make you want to swim in it, so why not do just that?
Pisces – This month you might decide that ‘Fish are friends, not food!’ Everything to do with seafood will suddenly become kind of disgusting to eat to you. Well, hopefully it ends soon, especially if fish is a major part of your diet.
By: Valerie Wong, Grade 12
The former 13-member Korean idol group, Super Junior, chants ‘Sorry, Sorry’ in a song that shot them to superstardom in 2009. What was it about this song that made millions of fan girls (in Korea as well as across the pond) swoon? The song is about a guy apologizing for falling for the girl-of-his-dreams. That’s hardly something to be repentant for. Regardless, people like to hear that you’re “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry…” We receive apologies on a daily basis; from people who bump into us in the hallways to misunderstandings between our peers and ourselves. What constitutes an apology? Is it the words? Is it the intention behind the words? Or is it the means of delivery?
Apologies are great ways to build a stronger relationship with just about anyone. Instead of ignoring your fault, you are acknowledging that you’ve done wrong and trying to make amends. Even if the other party doesn’t accept your apology – you can still say: “At least I tried.” In a study done by the University of Waterloo, women were found to report more incidents where they received apologies. The results showed that men were less likely to apologize than women; does this mean that men are not as sorry? This is not necessarily true; it was found that women in the study just reported more instances of giving apologies or encountering situations where an apology was thought to be deserved.
Men are often given the short end of the stick; in an argument with their significant others, they are expected to concede and apologize. Their better-halves misunderstand this gesture because of exterior factors – men don’t always apologize when women believe they should, but as women sometimes believe, only when their backs are up against the wall will they finally utter the word, “Sorry.”
Does this cause hollow apologies? Is the feeling of remorse still present in an apology we have been cornered into? There’s no use in bullying the other party into apologizing. I believe it is acceptable to say that, if an apology is appropriate, it will be delivered.
As a kid, I was told to apologize by my parents, teachers and sometimes my peers when I did something wrong. Just to get them off my back, I’d blurt out a quick “Sorry!” and then retreat back into my shell of tenaciousness believing that I’d done nothing wrong. I never stopped once to think about why I was apologizing – I only thought about the injury to my pride. It’s been years since my peers have shoved me and childishly shouted in my face: “Say sorry!” Since then, I’ve thought long and hard about why I apologize and what I should apologize for. I won’t apologize for something that was obviously not my fault entirely (i.e. the recession, world hunger, Rihanna getting ‘Chris Brown-ed’). I’ll make proper apologies at the right time. If I have offended a friend, I won’t brush it off with a casual: “Sorry!” If I bump into someone in the hallway, I won’t get down on my knees and plead for forgiveness. That is, of course, unless the other party has sustained an injury, in which case a better idea would be to obtain medical assistance.
Here are a few tips to making a good apology:
1. Make eye contact. If you’re looking at your feet the whole time, it kind of defeats the purpose of seeking forgiveness.
2. Don’t flower an apology with gifts and sweet words. Presenting a gift with an apology is like bribery. I’ll give you this _insertlovelygift_ if you forgive me!
3. Any animosity you feel toward the other party should be discarded. How many times have you received an apology that went like: “I’m sorry I wronged you; but it’s also your fault!” Accusations only make matters worse. Like when you write an essay (about your love for peaches, for example), you shouldn’t stray from your thesis and start talking about the other fruits that you also happen to think are great.
4. Apologies should be thoughtful and sincere. Don’t apologize with the expectation that your gesture will be reciprocated.
By: Nicole Yu, Grade 10
Nowadays, most magazines and newspapers have a special page dedicated horoscopes. These little blurbs claim to be able to predict the future by looking at stars. They’re split into twelve horoscopes, one for each sign of the zodiac. But what’s the deal with these signs? Are they more than just a symbol somebody is born under, or are they just a sign? Believe it or not, zodiac signs are more sophisticated than you think.
Each zodiac sign originated from one of the constellations mapped by Babylonian astrologers. They noticed that it took twelve months for the sun cycle through the sky and back to its original position, and twelve specific constellations were associated. They named them: Aries; Pleiades; Gemini; Praesepe; Leo; Spica; Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius; Capricornus; Aquarius; and Pisces. These constellations were arranged on the ecliptic, an imaginary annual path of the sun. The Greeks brought the information of these constellations back to their kingdom and shared the knowledge. They changed the names Pleiades, Praesepe, Spica, and Capricornus to Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, and Capricorn. And, they gave each sign a special significant attribute based on the strengths that surrounded it. The Greeks used these zodiac signs to predict a person’s strengths and weaknesses. This was all based on the date of which they were born, since they believed the course of one’s life was decided before birth. Over time, the Greeks began to use astrology to read a person’s horoscope, which they believed could predict every life-impacting event that one would experience in the lifetime.
As time went on, stories were created to explain why the zodiac constellations were in the sky, as with all constellations. The stories were passed on through generations, refined or changed over the years. The zodiac signs became split up into four groups, named after elements fire, earth, air, and water. People whose signs are in the group of fire are considered to be enthusiastic and outgoing. They need to have a lot of ‘fuel’ to keep them going and are always looking for something new to entertain themselves. Those with zodiac signs falling under earth are solid and reliable, and tend to be attracted to the fire signs because of their desire for change and excitement. The zodiac signs of air are always on the go and are constantly moving. Their minds are always racing from one thing to another, and they are often the most talkative. Finally, the zodiac signs that are represented by water are compassionate, loving the comfort of home, and caring deeply for their family. What’s your zodiac sign? Take a look below to read about yours and perhaps learn something new.
Aries – The Ram, March 20 ~ April 19
Aries is mostly considered the ‘first’ zodiac sign, since it’s at the start of the ongoing cycle. This sign’s season is spring, its ruling planet is Mars and its elemental group is fire. Aries are usually competitive, are quick mentally and physically, and come up with strong ideas. It is said that Aries was the golden ram that could fly, and many stories tell about its brave heroics and how it was placed into the sky in its honour.
Taurus – The Bull, April 20 ~ May 20
Taurus is the second zodiac sign in the cycle, part of the season of spring. The ruling planet of Taurus is Venus, and its element is Earth. Those who are in Taurus are slow and careful and are usually wary about change. One story suggests that Zeus turned into a bull and approached a beautiful woman named Europa. She sat on the bull’s back, and it jumped into the sea and swam to the Crete, a Grecian island. He married her, and the place of their marriage is now called ‘Europe’, named after Europa.
Gemini – The Twins, May 21~ June 20
Gemini places third in the cycle of the zodiac signs, and is the last sign in spring. The planet that rules over Gemini is Mercury, while its element is air. A Gemini tends to have a restless nature, but is outgoing and sociable. Most creation stories of this constellation include the twins, Pollux and Castor. These two boys were inseparable, but a tragic accident causes the death of one of the twins. The other twin eventually takes his own life due to grief, and Zeus places them in the stars to represent their everlasting friendship.
Cancer – The Crab, June 21 ~ July 22
Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac, placed in the season of summer. Its element is the flexible water, and its ruling celestial body is the Moon. Cancers focus on their feelings and the feelings of others, therefore they are usually loyal and protective towards whom they love. The stories of Cancer’s constellation revolve around the 12 trials of Heracles. During his fight against a hydra, Hera sent down a crab to help. Heracles was annoyed by the crab and stomped on it, and Hera honoured the bravery of the crab by placing it into the stars.
Leo – The Lion, July 23 ~ August 22
Leo is the fifth sign in the zodiac cycle. It is the second sign placed in the summer season of summer, given fire as its element and the Sun as the celestial body watching over it. Leos are warm and generous and are good leaders. The stories behind this constellation are linked to Cancer’s – they take place in the 12 trials of Heracles as well – except that the Lion of Nemea was one of the trials. Heracles’ objective was to slay the lion; except it was immune to every weapon. Finally, Heracles used his amazing strength to strangle it. It was a great battle, and Zeus put placed Leo in one of the constellations to memorialize the lion.
Virgo – The Virgin, August 23 ~ September 22
Virgo has the sixth placement in the zodiac cycle. It is the last sign that occurs during the summer, and its element is earth. Virgo’s ruling planet, like Gemini, is Mercury. A Virgo is extremely organized and makes a good leader, but sometimes a Virgo focuses solely on details and misses the full picture. Virgo is one of the few zodiac signs that are represented by something other than an animal. It is said that Astraea, the Goddess of Innocence and Purity, was caught up in the opening of Pandora’s box, releasing all the evils into the world. Astraea lived on Earth and was the last one to return to the heavens. Her constellation was created to remember this event.
Libra – The Scales, September 23 ~ October 22
Libra is the seventh sign in the zodiac, found in the season of fall. Libra’s element is air, and the ruling planet is Venus. People whose sign is Libra are bright, sociable, and often peaceful. Not as many stories about this constellation are known, however, one includes Astraea. This time, though, she is the Goddess of Justice who holds the scales. It tells about how during each era of Earth, she was there to make everything fair and just. However, when one final era came and war took place, Astraea gave up and went back to the heavens. Her scales were remembered for keeping everything peaceful for so long.
Scorpio – The Scorpion, October 23 ~ November 21
Scorpio, the eighth sign that’s found in fall, has water as its element and Pluto (though it is not considered a planet anymore) as its ruling celestial body. Scorpios care for others emotions and are highly intuitive. The story of Scorpio’s constellation is interesting; it tells about how Orion made Apollo jealous, and how Apollo conjured up a scorpion to kill Orion. After the struggle that resulted in Orion’s death, both Orion and the scorpion were placed into the stars.
Sagittarius – The Archer, November 22 ~ December 21
Sagittarius is one of the last signs, being the ninth, and it is in the season of fall. The element of Sagittarius is fire, and its ruling planet is Jupiter. Those who are Sagittarius love to travel and have a need to always be in the outdoors. The story about this constellation tells about a heroic feat. Cheiron, a centaur archer, was shot with a poison arrow. Yet, Cheiron was immortal and had to live forever with a massive pain. One day, however, one of Cheiron’s friends was trapped, and the only way for him to escape was for someone else to take his place. Cheiron agreed to save them and died. In memory of this event, Cheiron was placed into the stars as Sagittarius.
Capricorn – The Goat, December 22 ~ January 19
Capricorn is the tenth sign of the zodiac and the first sign of winter. Its element is earth, with Saturn as its ruling planet. Capricorns are said to be very responsible and are strong leaders, but often seen as lazy. There are many, many stories about Capricorn. One tells how Capricorn was the goat that Amalthea fed to Zeus when he was a child. He was thankful for her, thus creating this constellation.
Aquarius – The Water Bearer, January 20 ~ February 17
Aquarius is the second last sign in the zodiac, the eleventh. It is the second sign of winter with the element air and the ruling planet Uranus. An Aquarius is bright and theoretical, but can be a bit absent-minded at times. A short one among the many stories about Aquarius tells of the great Deucalion flood. Zeus poured water over the earth to wash away all evil, and meanwhile a new mankind was created.
Pisces – The Fish, February 18 ~ March 19
Pisces is the last sign in the zodiac cycle, being last of winter. The element of Pisces is water and its ruling planet is Neptune. Those with the sign of Pisces are intuitive and imaginative. The story sets in a time when the Goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite, and the God of Love, Eros, were taking a walk together down a river. Suddenly, Typhon appeared and threatened to kill them. Aphrodite and Eros were turned into a pair of fish by Zeus to swim to safety. The Goddess Athena let the fish swim up to the stars and become a constellation.
By: Kaitlyn Fung, Grade 10
Revolutionary United Front, or RUF, for short; what does that name suggest to you? The first word, “revolutionary,” seems to imply that there is great change taking place, while the word “united” is synonymous with “combined.” The last word “front” seems to refer to a movement or campaign. Strung together, all these words create a definition along the lines of “a group fighting together for something completely different.”
Does that seem familiar? It should be, because it’s a thought that surrounds us every day. You can find it in the political parties of the countries around the world, all competing to promise things to their people. You can see it in all the environmental activists demanding a sustainable future, as well as in the homosexual community advocating for their legal and social acceptance. It can even be found in the groups of students fighting for their education to be properly funded. Most of those are all problems of today, though; what about before that? This idea is not new. In fact, it is an idea seen constantly throughout our world’s history. In the past, women had fought for their right to vote (and by extension, their equality), and the poor peasants in the 17th-century France eventually rose up to fiercely protest for their starvation. People had always been fighting for change; the Revolutionary United Front is just another example from the past.
The original ideal of the RUF was to bring equality to their people, as they claimed that the government was greedily managing Sierra Leone’s rich mineral resources (particularly diamonds) while the rest of the country rotted in poverty. It sounded like a good cause; “No More Slaves, No More Masters. Power and Wealth to the People.” was the slogan put out by these rebels. They planned to overthrow the corrupt government. It must be ironic, then, that the rebels quickly became interested only in gaining power and controlling the diamond industry, just like the corruption they had initially fought against. Now there were two power-hungry groups looking to dominate Sierra Leone, which only set the stage for massive conflict.
The RUF first made their move to overthrow their country’s corrupt government in March 1991. Invading from Liberia, they violently attacked the towns bordering the two countries, with former army corporal Foday Sankoh as leader. Sankoh was following the example of Charles Taylor, who had overthrown former Liberian president Samuel Doe the same way in 1989. They killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children and displaced about half the population, sending many to refugee camps and neighbouring countries. Easily crushing any weak government troops sent out to stop them, their unstoppable conquest continued until 1995, when they were almost at Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. It was then that the government hired EO (Executive Outcomes was a South African military company) mercenaries to counter the rebels. Additionally, the Kamajors (local Mende hunters as militia) were also instrumental in successfully repelling the RUF. After a failed peace agreement in 1996 and a few effective interventions by ECOMOG troops (the joint armies of multiple African countries) in 1998, the civil war seemed to drag on endlessly. In January 1999, the rebels captured Freetown, leaving many civilians devastated or killed. However, on July 7 of that same year, the Lomé Peace Accord was signed by Sankoh. Foday Sankoh and other members of the RUF were given positions within the government that they didn’t hold for long once RUF forces swiftly broke the agreement. It wasn’t until January 18, 2002 (after British intervention and disarming the disbanded rebels) that the war was officially declared over by Sierra Leone’s president.
With the war (just over a decade long) finally over, you would think that it no longer affects anyone. Yet, the RUF left a lasting impression on the world in various ways, notably evident in their trademark practice of amputating limbs. As they went across the country in their horrific campaign, the rebels not only killed a great deal of people, but they maimed them, too. With elections planned for a new government during the 90’s, citizens were told that “the future was in their hands,” so the RUF chopped off hands to stop people from voting. Using machetes and axes, they frequently amputated feet, legs, arms, and hands of thousands, including children. Sometimes they didn’t, though. Instead, one might be kidnapped and turned into a child soldier. Given cocaine and other drugs, child soldiers were made to do atrocious acts of killing and maiming. Young girls were often taken as sex slaves in addition to being child soldiers. While some have escaped or been freed, all are left traumatized by what they have witnessed and done.
With all the activities it undertook during the civil war, there is still a missing piece to the puzzle, which is how the RUF was able to fund all of its efforts. The answer to that lies within the land of Sierra Leone; the rebels, or more appropriately, the people they kidnapped, mined diamonds to sell for weapons. These diamonds were infamously termed conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds. It was odd, because Sierra Leone was ranked the poorest country in the world at the time. This was most likely due to the immense amount of smuggling these diamonds underwent to countries where they could be illegally certified. These diamonds became an extremely controversial topic during the late 90’s, when their existence gradually began to be revealed through the media. When shoppers discovered that their favourite jewellery stores were supplied by companies (De Beers being the biggest one) who knowingly bought these stones, they were outraged at the unacceptable exploitation of the source countries and their people. The Kimberley Process, started in 2000, was created in hopes of preventing blood diamonds from entering the mainstream diamond market.
Indeed, the effects that the RUF had had on their country and the world still linger today. The masses of amputees and child soldiers left scarred by the conflicts are all dark reminders of that turbulent war. Foday Sankoh was never formally punished for his actions, though, but died quietly in jail in 2003. Three other prominent rebel leaders within the RUF had not been sentenced until February 2009. The failed RUF political party that formed after the peace accord eventually merged with the All People’s Congress in 2007. Despite all that, it seems as though they were able to live up to what their name represented: a group of people fighting for things to be completely different. While they may not have achieved all the things they had set out to do, the Revolutionary United Front had indubitably managed to turn thousands of lives upside down during the course of Sierra Leone’s civil war, and beyond.
By: The Interthugs
Do you know what the internet is? I bet you do–and if you know what the internet is, then you’ve got to know what a browser is. An internet browser lets you access the wonderful world of the internet. If every webpage and website on the internet was a door, a browser is the master key that lets you access everything easily. However, there are many different types of this master key, not just one. Two of the most popular browsers currently being used worldwide are Firefox, created by Mozilla, and Chrome, created by Google. People have preferences of which one they like better; some have quite strong preferences, but others don’t really know what to look for. Today, we’re going to take a close look at Firefox and Chrome, and hopefully you’ll get a sense of which of browser you prefer.
Just as a disclaimer, both browsers have been used and tested by both Interthugs for thorough research.
Let’s start off with Firefox. Mozilla Firefox was released in November 2004. It quickly became popular, and the company soon released updated versions of the browser to fix up any bugs and other glitch-related problems. Now, after 6 years, Mozilla has upgraded their Firefox 1.0 to 3.6, and has already released the beta for 4.0. Through the years, the company has pampered its users with add-ons, features, and customizables galore. There’s no doubt that Firefox is extremely popular now; two years ago, Mozilla set a world record for Most Downloaded Software in 24 Hours with the release of Firefox 3, with a total of 28 million downloads. In October 2010 it was reported that 44% of all internet users have made Firefox their default browser, which certainly isn’t a surprise, given all the features Firefox has.
Although there aren’t that many features unique only to Firefox, it’s still a solid browser with the familiar menu and location bar at the top. Like most other browsers these days, Firefox has the tabs feature, which allows for the convenient opening of multiple pages in one window. Easy to use, Firefox is also capable of utilizing add-ons, once you’ve got the hang of all the basic stuff. A feature that many people seem to like about Firefox is that it will save any pages you had open if the browser experiences a crash, and it will restart your new session with your previous tabs. Another thing that is unique to Firefox is the fact that they have ‘Themes’ and ‘Personas’. Themes change the appearance and, for instance, how things are laid out on the menu bar, while Personas simply take the default Firefox layout and place a picture in the menu bar. Also, Firefox comes with a “safe mode,” which disables add-ons, makes saved bookmarks unavailable, and sets user preferences to default. This comes in handy when you want to browse the net without potential risk from any add-ons installed, or if you want to trouble-shoot problems with a blank version of Firefox.
Google Chrome, on the other hand, was released much later. The first stable release of the browser was in December 2008. Although it was released later, Google has been updating Chrome more often than Firefox. The current version of Google’s browser is Chrome 7. However, it has been said that Google is planning to release a new stable version of its browser every six weeks. Apparently, Google has so many ideas that they’re pumping out that they just want to keep improving and releasing new versions. So even if Chrome 7 is your browser now, Chrome 8 and 9 are soon to come! On November 11th, the beta of Chrome 8 was released and is now ready to be tested out, and a version of Chrome 9 is also in the making, too. If Google stays true to its promise, then a stable version of Chrome 8 will be released in early December 2010.
The current version of Chrome showcases the browser with a very minimalist look, seeing as there is a very distinct lack of a menu bar. Instead, Chrome is quick to the point, armed with only a forward, back, and refresh button, and a location bar, although there is a tiny wrench-shaped button available to click if you want to access what would have been in the menu bar. However, the location bar has an added bonus of doubling as the search bar, a time-saving innovation. Utilizing the now standard tabs feature, this browser also features a separate memory for each tab, so that if something goes wrong, only that webpage will crash. With Chrome, users are also able to enjoy an “incognito mode” for when they want their browsing to stay private. When browsing “incognito,” pages aren’t saved in your browser or search history, and any other traces of these pages (like cookies) are deleted from your computer after you close the window.
The two browsers are the same in some places and very different in others. For instance, Chrome’s ‘minimalist’ look is fairly the opposite of Firefox, since Chrome’s menu bar is non-existent. Also, each browser has a precaution for problems, though Chrome’s back-up is to a lesser extent and different than Firefox. If something goes wrong, then a Firefox user could use the Safe Mode to help find what the problem is and fix it. Though Chrome doesn’t have anything like that, each tab is separate from another, something Firefox doesn’t support.
The both of us have used Firefox for a long time and retained an attachment for it. Maybe it’s just human nature, but when we took a look at Chrome, we sort of grimaced. The absence of the menu bar is kind of unsettling in a weird way and the fact that the URL bar is also a Google search is convenient yet confusing at the same time. Another thing about Chrome is that it tended to crash while we used it, especially on webpages that had big applications. We had the same page on both Firefox and Chrome, and it crashed on Chrome while it didn’t on Firefox. We are wary of is the fact that Mozilla is releasing Firefox 4 soon – and it’s not far off from Chrome when it comes to appearance.
While our preferences may differ from yours (and our computers may also differ from yours!), our hearts still lie with good old Firefox for all our internet browsing needs. Whichever way you look at it, though, Firefox and Chrome both have their good and bad features, as well as things that make them unique, and things that make them similar. In the end, as long as it gets the job done, it doesn’t matter what browser you use. That’s all for this month, everybody, but thanks for reading! See you in the next issue!