Pipelines! Pipelines! Pipelines! In the United States and Canada, climate change activists are fighting against pipeline projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Because the U.S. Senate had proposed a bill “that would expedite its approval and “short-circuit” the State Department’s pipeline environmental review,” the activists took part of a week- long protest movement. From March 16th to the 23rd, it was the “Week of Action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers” for Americans and Canadian activists. There had been over thirty protests over the past week in several different U.S. states, all of which had been coordinated by fifty different grassroots organizations.
However, some of the protesters saw the riskier side of voicing their opinion. Thirty-seven protesters have been arrested “for disrupting business as usual at TransCanada and their investors’ offices, with more actions planned in the coming days.” In the opinion of many environmental activists, TransCanada’s “business as usual” means death and destruction for our communities.” On the Tar Sands Blockade website, they have been trying to spread the word and convince other citizens that: “Together we can stop this multinational corporate bully and their toxic profiteers.” They have also listed several TransCanada offices so that others can hold our own solidarity action for the week.
As the Tar Sands Blockade stated on Wednesday, March 20th, : “Organizers seek to expose green-washed corporations like TD Bank, a top shareholder in TransCanada, and force them to divest from the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” Some of the highlights included: Hundreds of people occupying the TransCanada office in Westborough, Mass, holding a “Funeral for Our Future”, protesting at TD Bank branches , twelve people arrested for blockading a pipeline in upstate New York, and a bike tour in Portland, Oregon, that held a bike tour of the city’s worst polluters.
The native leaders from both Canada and the United States on Wednesday, March 20th, turned to the Canadian parliament in order to fight against the Northern Gateway and the Keystone XL pipeline, -”telling lawmakers that an alliance of native groups on both sides of the border are preparing to fight the pipelines in the courts and through unspecified direct action in the coming months.”
By Annie Lai
By Sydney Emo, Grade 10
It’s true that we are what we eat, and anyone that can understand the significance of that statement would have to agree that it’s extremely important to know exactly what we are eating. People wouldn’t knowingly go out of their way to buy food with ingredients that could cause cancer, yet we buy food like that all the time because those cancer causing ingredients aren’t labelled. What about genetically modified food? Does that sound appetizing?
Thanks to Monsanto, the company ruling the agricultural industry with their genetically modified seeds, much of the food we eat is probably not as “natural” as we think it is. 93% of the population is in favour of having any GMO food products clearly labelled, and the State of Vermont is the first state to bring forth a bill that would force companies to label all of their GMO products properly. Of course, as always, multi-billion dollar corporations really do not have the public’s best interests at heart, so for them, this proposed bill is nothing but a danger of them losing profit. Monsanto has wasted no time in defending its profits and is now threatening to sue the state of Vermont if the bill passes. (more…)
By Kelly Ninh, Grade 11
The United States has always been labeled as honourable and virtuous. The mainstream media has even portrayed the United States as the best country in the world because of its power, money, and “strong moral code”. However, despite the propaganda practices, the country’s political reality remains far from justice and morality.
In the United Nations Charter, it is stated that the planning or initiation of a war against another nation who does not pose an imminent threat of attack is deemed illegal. And not only that, but it is also considered the worst of war crimes, felonies for which, if found guilty, the accused may be subject to the death penalty. The international law also states that the participation in a conspiracy (or even just a common plan) for such felonies is an equally serious capital crime.
By Brendan Chan, Alumnus
It is well known that creativity is important in all aspects of life. It not only stimulates the creation of new and innovative ideas but also plays a large role in students’ development, especially during high school. As defined by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, creativity is an “imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value.”
By Brendan Chan, Alumnus
Scholarly Conflict and Key Players
Education lacks the ability to nurture creativity in children needed to adapt to our changing world. In his article, “Fostering creativity or teaching to the test? Implications of state testing on the delivery of science instruction,” Christopher Longo suggested that standardized curriculums are teaching high school students in the United States for the test rather than stimulating creativity and self-motivational learning. By reviewing and analysing research done by others, he outlined his paper, beginning with a lengthy history of standardized testing. Then, he moved on to talk about its implications and how state testing could go hand in hand with creativity. What Longo found was that students were being spoon fed information in order to score well on tests, in turn reducing the motivation in students to inquire into their own learning. (more…)
By Brendan Chan, Alumnus
Schools in North America are teaching an outdated curriculum that is not only preventing students from keeping up with the changing world, but also fails to encourage self-learning, a crucial component of creativity. The North American education system was born out of the capitalistic model of the economy, in which education systems resemble assembly factories where large groups of students move from teacher to teacher, class to class, and grade to grade. The system’s rigid use of standardized testing to produce students with set skills and standards contributes to the reduction of flexibility in, and the commodification of, education. (more…)
By Aaron Leung, Grade 10
In Ghana, Africa, rain pours down during damp weather and turns Agbogbloshie into a muddy field. The mud is so thick and strong that it can grasp the shoes of those who set foot on it. (That is, if they actually wear any.) However, this does not stop children of varying ages from running around scrap yards. What they seek is any electronic waste that contains copper. On a lucky day, they can find about $2 worth of copper minerals from abandoned electronics (including computers, television sets, and phones), most of which are electronic waste that we have “recycled”; in other words, much of the e-waste in Agbogbloshie comes from First World countries, such as the United States.
By Claire Fergusson, Grade 10
Agent Orange is a powerful poison used by the U.S. military in the Vietnam War. It was used as a chemical defoliant to shed tree leaves, so that Vietnamese guerrilla soldiers could not carry out any surprise attack on American soldiers, who gained a great advantage in the war as a result. Agent Orange has been proven lethal to not only plants but also ecosystems and the people who live within them. Until this day, Vietnam still suffers from water and soil contamination, and many generations still have to deal with the harmful effects of Agent Orange.
2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is one of the two major chemicals found in Agent Orange. It is used in lawn care products across Canada and the United States. However, it has been recognized as a cancerous toxin. (more…)
By Sharan Pawa, alumnus
Globalization can be defined as “the increasing integration of diverse economic, sociocultural, military, and environmental phenomena by means of dense networks of action and information that span vast distances around the world,” according to James Danziger, research professor of Political Science at the University of California.
Although globalization entails the world-wide exchange of goods, services, technology, and culture, there are various reasons as to why the globalization movement can be harmful to independent states and undermine the rights and freedoms upheld by sovereignty, which refers to the assertion that “each state has complete authority and is the ultimate source of law within its own boundaries. It assumes that all states are equal before the law and that each state has the right to protect its territory against any aggression or intervention.” Sovereignty is instrumental in the preservation of cultural diversity, environmental wellness, and economic stability—all of which are threatened by globalization.
By Angela Ho, Grade 11
Less than a month ago, the global community was hit with an online activist campaign video that went viral in just a few days, attracting more than 70 million viewers. Kony 2012 successfully promoted Invisible Children Inc.’s ‘Stop Kony’ campaign, which urges the capture of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and—according to Invisible Children—the world’s most wanted war criminal. Having operated in Uganda, the LRA is now active in South Sudan, Congo, and Central Africa. It is responsible for many of the horrific war crimes that have taken place over the last 20 years, and to say that many lives have been affected would be an understatement. It’s true: Joseph Kony is a pretty nasty guy, but the way that this situation is presented by Invisible Children Inc. is what I consider a cleverly orchestrated piece of propaganda.
By Sharan Pawa, alumnus
Having met many people in today’s society in Vancouver, I find that consumerism has led many to associate self-worth with the amount of money spent on frivolities like expensive brands of clothing and technology. Much of the mainstream media blatantly advertises the importance of materialism; we are constantly being coaxed into buying luxuries under the belief that they will increase our value in society. Because of this, I feel that there is a lack of spiritual growth in Western societies; it has been replaced by a sense of egocentrism based on product accumulation. Many men and women nowadays are eager to buy overpriced name-brand products. However, manufacturers often exploit consumers as well as workers. Branding and product fetishism have become so much of a staple in today’s world that I believe they are destroying true individuality and self-worth.
By Sydney Emo, Grade 10
TransCanada has always been fully committed to the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, which aims to transport oil from Alberta’s oil sands to several different locations in the United States. However, the U.S. government has recently announced its decision to reject the establishment of the Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. Department of State has ordered that the pipe be re-routed so as to avoid contact with the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to millions of people living on the plains and which is one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world. If the route is changed and re-planned, the project will have to undergo environmental review yet again. This could potentially delay the realization of the pipeline project for another year or two.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been extremely controversial ever since its proposal. The impact that such a huge pipeline would have on the environment is unbelievable. All of the areas that it would pass through could be subject to oil spills, because no pipelines could guarantee zero leakage. Frequent spills contaminate water and wildlife. Another concern is that the pipeline would, at some point, go through an active seismic area. Should an earthquake occur again as it did back in 2002, the pipeline would break and the spilt oil would completely destroy the surrounding environment.
Despite all the protests and opposition, it seems unlikely that the Keystone XL pipeline project is fully off the table, especially not if the oil companies and the Canadian government are giving their full support to the project. Steven Harper says: “This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated. While we are disappointed, TransCanada remains fully committed to the construction of the Keystone XL.” TransCanada will re-apply for permit; right now, they’re hoping to have the pipeline up and running by 2014.
On the other hand, Obama claims that his administration is working on ways to strengthen America’s energy security. He says: “We will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.” At the moment, it seems as though the United States is actually seeing the big picture and putting more thought into the effects that this massive project could have on the world.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the U.S. is saying “No” to this project completely; they are simply stalling. With Canada doing everything it can to get a “Yes” from the United States, there is a possibility that it will be revived. According to the John Boehner, the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans are eyeing a massive highway bill as a way to resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline—by attaching it to the bill as an additional condition. Meanwhile, Republicans (as well as some Democrats) in the Senate are planning to introduce a Keystone bill.
Nonetheless, the new delay resulted from the Obama administration’s denial of Keystone permit proves that there is always a chance for things to change in a positive direction.
Visser, J. (2012, January 18). U.S. rejects Keystone XL, TransCanada not giving up. CTV News. Retrieved from http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20120118/obama-administration-keystone-xl-pipeline-decision-120118/20120118?hub=BritishColumbiaHome
Lum, Zi-Ann. (2011, November 10). U.S. to TransCanada: Find a new route for Keystone XL. Vancouver Observer. Retrieved from http://www.vancouverobserver.com/world/2011/11/10/us-transcanada-find-new-route-keystone-xl
Savage, L, Ch. (2012, January 18). TransCanada: will try again, hope for pipeline in 2014. Maclean’s. http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/01/18/transcanada-will-try-again-hope-for-pipeline-in-2014/
Dixon, K. (2010, January 29). Keystone to be linked to U.S. highway bill: Boehner. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/29/us-usa-congress-keystone-idUSTRE80S0IX20120129
By: Claire Fergusson, Grade 9
In war-ridden or unethical countries around the world, the people who can will usually immigrate to safer and more ethical countries. Some leave places like Mexico, China, and India to get away from sweatshops that believe in and support child labourers. But the question is; are we, as consumers, really doing any better by supporting sweatshops here in Canada and North America by buying their products?
In many countries around the world, there are horrific examples of sweatshops. Workers are in a position where they are subject to exploitation, with no living wage or benefits, terrible working conditions, and may face verbal or physical abuse. Many make less than needed in order to support themselves, let alone the ones around them, so there are very few options to enrich their lives with something better. They usually work between sixty and eighty hours a week, not including overtime, in gruelling conditions. Many are offered little or no way out, without much knowledge on how to get out of the business. They are under an umbrella of a few who make millions in the trade, while the labourers suffer to put food on the table. And yet here in the western world, we buy the goods they produce.
How does our dollar affect what we buy and sell?
If the American dollar is low compared to other currencies, they will not be able to import as many goods for the same amount of money. It will, ultimately, force companies to spend more money, while not making as much of a profit. And in turn, it will force the employment wages to stay low, and continue to deprive many of basic needs, in what the world considers a leading nation.
In Canada, our dollar has been as strong as it has ever been. The rising value of Canada’s currency means that more Canadians would make a profit on their sales if they continue to buy things for cheap from other countries. A strong Canadian dollar would also mean that we would be able to have more buying power in places like China and India, where a lot of the cheap goods are manufactured. It would make it easy for us to import, but have a harder time of exporting goods, such as lumber, to other countries. However, with a higher buying power, and a greater chance of higher profits, it would enable the resources for a higher minimum wage.
One of the places that people search for better opportunities if they can leave is in Canada and the United States. But still, many cannot get away from sweatshops.
For example, many dollar store managers put in long hours, but don’t get much out of it. Many have escaped poverty in places like China, India, South America and Mexico, but are then taken advantage of. How can they compete against the ones who have been in the trade for longer, and have grown up around ones who make their life this way? It is almost impossible.
In the United States, managers of dollar store chains work long hours, up to eighty hours a week, making just $550 per week, or just under $6.90 US per hour. On the other hand, the CEO of the same company raked in $5.38 million or roughly $103 460 a week in 2010. All the while, this CEO probably just sat in front of his computer and watched his stocks rise, while store managers scraped to pay their mortgages and support their families.
Sound familiar? It almost mirrors the reality of many in low-wage centres around the world. Is it not ironic that we are supposed to be a leader in the world’s pursuit of freedom and equality?
In a society so based on consumerism, we can choose to buy ethically. It is a difficult situation, because the ones that work so hard in dollar stores for so little have to be supported too, even if they are supporting sweatshops by selling their products.
All the exploited are trying to do is make a living. They’re just trying to make it by, and hopefully put food on the table. It is a recurring reality throughout our world, even in countries like our counterparts across the border, and our own. We walk a fine line between choosing to support them and deciding to buy ethically.
What do you prefer? Should we continue to buy more cheap products produced by sweatshops, or pay more for goods that are made by people whom are paid a living wage?
Although ethically made products might mean a less bang for your buck, it will help discourage sweatshops. It may help bridge the gap between rich and poor, and in time, find a solution for a line we have to decide to cross or not.
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.