Peaceful protesters now considered terrorists in the USA

Peaceful protesters now considered terrorists in the USA

The pipeline that’s meant to run from Canada all the way down to Texas isn’t even 75% complete and it’s already causing major problems. 1,040,000 gallons of oil has already been spilled and millions of dollars has been spent trying to clean it up to no avail. 

Large numbers of Americans have gathered in D.C, have held public meetings, created online videos, and some have even locked themselves to equipment in protest of the pipeline. Every action by protesters has been peaceful and non-violent, however, they’re being labeled terrorists. 

“TransCanada is trying to paint concerned citizens as abusive, aggressive law breakers when in fact that describes themselves. They are giving presentations to the FBI and local law enforcement making us out to be criminals and telling our local law enforcement they should be looking at terrorism laws as possible ways to prosecute us.”

Need  reason to worry about the NSA spying scandal? Try this: you legally protest an oil company in y our town, are arrested, and wind up in court facing federal terrorism charges and a personal eternity behind bars. The evidence presented against you was gathered by the NSA monitoring of your telephone usage and social media communications, all at the behest of said oil company, which owns every Senator who sits on the Intelligence Committee in Washington D.C.

Think it can’t happen?

It’s already happening. 

Is America becoming a police state?

First, we find out about the NSA and PRISM, taking and storing all of our phone calls, emails, social media, locations, etc.

And just today it was announced the FBI has been using drones to “conduct surveillance” on American soil, without any policies or regulations on how/why/why they’re used.

Some citizens seem to be okay with this, saying that we need to give up certain freedoms in order to stay safe. However, some citizens are against this, saying the FBI has gone too far and that our rights as Americans are becoming more of a privilege.

What do you think?

Human Superiority

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” -Animal Farm-George Orwell

So, let me start off with a question: Are animals equal to humans? 
To answer this question, we should define ‘equal,’ which is “to be the same in quality and ability.” 
We should also define ‘animal,’ which is “a living organism characterized by voluntary movement.”
So, do animals have the same qualities, and abilities as humans? 

According to the proper definition of animal, humans are animals, also. So what gives humans superiority over the rest of the species? 
Some might answer this with the argument that animals don’t reason, and aren’t as intelligent as we are, therefore it’s okay to treat them inhumanely. 
However, it would be wrong to think that animals DON’T reason, and aren’t intellectual. Animals react emotionally to situations in the same way humans would.
If they’re too hot or too cold they seek appropriate shelter, if they’re afraid they take the fight or flight approach, if they’re happy or grieving they have a way of showing us.
How would animals, such as deer, pigs, cows, or fish, even, be able to survive if they didn’t think?
Even if it were the case that animals didn’t think, would it still be acceptable to violate their rights?
For example: There are some very seriously mentally retarded people that can’t think on the same level as an average human can. If it was okay to kill and eat animals because they couldn’t think, then it should be all right to kill and eat these seriously mentally retarded persons, right?

There is no fundamental difference between humans and the higher mammals in their mental faculties” -Charles Darwin

What mammals did Darwin consider to be ‘higher’? Taking a look at animal cognition studies, there are many mammals that are similar to humans mentally, socially, and internally. Monkeys, for example, have a neuron system that mirrors those in humans. Chimps are able to understand emotions associated with different facial expressions, and pig hearts are similar in size and make up to those of humans, and are even, in extreme cases, the valves are used to replace defects in humans. Studies have shown that pigs, cows, and chickens have the same mental capacity as dogs (which is that of a two-four year old child). If animals are similar to us on so many levels, why are people tossing them by the bucket full into rivers? Or worse yet, why do we slaughter them for consumption every single day?

Getting into the issue of animal slaughterhouses and factory farming is another issue that I’ll get into another time.
But my point is, why do we treat animals, who have the same mental capacity as a toddler, so inhumanely? 
Shouldn’t they have the same rights we do? Just because they cannot communicate themselves, doesn’t give us any right to act cruelly to those who are ‘inferior’ to us. 
We should be protecting the rights of those who cannot protect it themselves..not violating them.

Musings on the origin of species

    The question of origination has plagued scientific minds since the inception of man. Where did we come from? How did particles go from living to non-living? Using every principle of physics, chemistry, and biology, scientists have yet to come to a conclusion. There are many theories that have been applied to the question of the origin of species, and these are a few which are still applicable today.

 

  Panspermia was the first cited theory-being mentioned in the 5th century by a Greek philosopher by the name of Anaxagoras (The word panspermia is of Greek origin, meaning seeds everywhere.) The theory suggests that organisms originated on other planets, embedded themselves into chunks of rock, and eventually arrived on Earth via meteors. Once the matter was on Earth’s surface, it evolved into proteins from amino acids, and eventually evolved into life.

  Abiogenesis, also known as spontaneous generation, is another popular theory. It’s the idea that life on Earth could have arisen from inanimate matter. Simply put, life began in water as a result of the chemicals in the atmosphere and some form of energy to make amino acids, which would then evolve into all species. Early concepts of abiogenesis were extremely simplistic. –Rotting meat was soon covered in maggots, and so it was assumed the meat had evolved into maggots.—This was the most accepted scientific explanation for the reproduction of living things as recently as a few hundred years ago.

  Inorganic incubation is essentially the same theory as abiogenesis, with the exception of the formation order. Instead of the amino acids forming first, and then evolving to a cell-like structure, scientists had the idea the cell came first and was later filled with amino acids. It was thought the first cells were really not living, but inorganic ones made up of iron sulfide, and they were not formed at the Earth’s surface, but in totally darkness at the bottom of the oceans instead.

  Creationism is the theory that the universe and everything in existence was created by the will of a supernatural being. The pertinent verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Following this proclaimation, the earth is presumed to have been created in a period of six days; and on the seventh day “he rested”. While there are various forms of creation theory, there are also many metaphysical systems besides the likes of Christianity which cite a form of “intelligent design”; the roots displayed in the first few verses of the Bible are adequate.

  Scientific evolution theory is arguably the most popular theory to date . This theory relies strongly on the Big Bang theory, which was the beginning of the formation of matter. This eventually lead to the creation of planets, Pangaea, and life on earth as it evolved over millions of years. The theory of evolution suggests that all living organisms come from the same ancestor. As the population grew into larger groups, smaller groups would break away and evolve independently to eventually diversify into a new species. *The Big Bang Theory is the idea that the universe originated sometime between 10 Ga and 20 Ga years ago from the cataclysmic explosion of a small volume of matter at extremely high density and temperatures. Long story short, the universe began with a super-powerful explosion, and continues to expand.*

  Despite the vast amount of widely varying theories which exist to explain the origin of life, contemporaries must resort conclusions derived from inductive reasoning only on the basis of probability, as there is still no definitive proof as to which theory (if any yet devised) are correct. Perhaps, if the human race manages to overcome the odds and extend it’s survival a few more decades, current theories will have either gained strength or the sanction of the scientific community. Rest assured, even if man enters another stone age, the spirit of curiosity which drives us toward questioning our existence will not cease until mankind has drawn it’s last breath and the last neuron has fired.

Jean Paul Sartre on Existentialism and Indeterminism

“Humans are not only free, but condemned to be free; condemned to create themselves and their own reality.” Jean Paul Sartre’s quote addresses two theories: Existentialism and Indeterminism. He believed that man is not only ‘condemned’ to be free, but we also have the freedom to make decisions entirely on our own. I agree with Sartre’s theory of existentialism and indeterminism based on the fact there are numerous real world examples that clearly demonstrate humans have the freedom to make decisions free of external forces and can attribute their own meanings to the world around them.

Existentialism is the theory that humans are entirely free, and are thus responsible for what they make of themselves. Sartre was an atheist, which, I believe, influenced his diction in saying that we are ‘condemned’ to be free. Since there is no God, no moral laws exist; therefore individuals are free to make their own decisions and will be held responsible for the outcomes. A high school dropout, for example, isn’t forced by any outside factor to make that decision. They didn’t have any predisposition to doing it, either. Dropping out is a choice they are able to make entirely on their own, without the forces of anyone (i.e., God or the Devil) or anything (i.e., society) making them do it.

When Sartre said we are condemned to create our own reality, he was referring to the free will we have to make decisions and to deal with the consequences. Free will goes along with indeterminism, which is the theory that humans are able to make their own decisions based entirely on deliberate choices, instead of preceding events or conditions. Let’s say I have two test to study for: algebra and English. I can freely choose to study for one, the other, or both. The decision to only study for English instead of algebra had not been previously decided, therefore, I had the option to choose what to study for.

Sartre combines both existentialism and indeterminism in his quote. To further show how much evidence there is of both, let’s say you’re walking into a store and there is a man with a donation bucket sitting outside. What do you do? You could either donate money or ignore the man. There is nothing forcing your decision, it’s entirely up to you. Now, let’s say you choose to ignore the man. Was your mind already made up before you saw him? Or did you choose an option while approaching him? The fact that there is nobody telling you which to choose and the decision wasn’t previously decided shows that Sartre’s theory of existentialism and indeterminism are both likely true.

There are many arguments that can be made against both theories. Taking a look at existentialism, one could say that the government is a controlling force in our lives. The government enacts certain laws that tell us what we can and cannot do, and therefore we base all of our decisions on the expectations of this external force. However, this can easily be argued against. Laws are broken all the time. Humans are guilty of theft, destruction, and even murder. If government were really the controlling force in all of our decision making, then there wouldn’t be any crime at all.

There are also many arguments that can be made against indeterminism. If you look at Newtonian physics, the argument is that everything in the universe operates according to a fixed set of knowable laws. If a glass plate falls from a certain distance at a certain speed, you will (in theory) be able to predict how many pieces it will shatter into. However, if you look at the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, it is impossible to predict where an atom will hit when being shot repeatedly from the same spot. There was no pattern; the atoms hit randomly by chance.

There are many examples in life that show humans are not being controlled or guided by any outside forces, nor is everything that happens based upon previous events. Existentialism can be confirmed from the ostensible ability of humans to attribute their own meanings to the world. Indeterminism, likewise, manifests itself in the practice of human understanding and can be freely stated to exist and therefore falsify determinism. I believe that Sartre’s existential and indeterminist outlooks are correct; this believe creates a world of opportunity, interpretation, condemned to experience cultivation from the mind. 

Evolution of Food Regulation Throughout the United States

     Food regulation is something that has been looked after since small farmers began producing goods in Colonial America. Vast expansion of the population, however, created a demand for consumers’ products to be properly labeled for health and nutritional education, as well. This demand from American consumers created an issue for the government when it came to addressing the demands, and figuring out how to have a uniform system nationwide. Because of the growth of our country, Congress took away the power of regulations from individual states and created the Department of Agriculture (as well as the Food and Drug Association) to see that there are uniform regulations and standards, and that they are being met throughout the United States.

     Even in Colonial America, there were early state laws modeled after English laws that looked after certain foods and how they were handled; these laws aimed at protecting against food adulteration. The earliest state law passed on food regulation was in Massachusetts in 1785. Signed by Samuel Adams, this law would fine or imprison persons who were found selling diseased, corrupted, or unwholesome products. After the states began implementing their own laws on food regulation, Congress decided they wanted a more uniform, universal way to distinguish quality items, and thus they formed the Department of Agriculture in 1862 (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). Shortly thereafter, the Department of Agriculture created a specific branch within itself, the Food and Drug Association, which is responsible for regulating food, drugs, medial devices, and cosmetics (Hickmann, Meredith A.). What began as individual state mandates sparked an entirely new department within the government, where many important laws and provisions came into action.

     The first federal law the Department of Agriculture produced was the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. This act was the first federal law against and prohibiting adulteration or misbranded food (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). While this law was implemented on packaged and processed foods, it didn’t cover any meat products. In order to cover this loophole, the Department of Agriculture accepted the Federal Meat Inspection Act as an amendment in 1906 and enacted it as a permanent law the following year. This follow-up law ensured that meat products were wholesome, not adulterated, and labeled properly (Hubbert, WIlliam T.) In order for this law to be saw through, the inspectors are made to examine and inspect all animals before they’ve headed to slaughter. Preventing infected livestock from going to slaughter diminished the chances of infecting the slaughterhouse, and all meat sources. Then the inspectors must ensure humane methods of slaughter are used, and lastly, they must perform a post-mortem exam and deem the product “inspected and passed.” (Toldra, Fidel). It wasn’t until 1957 that the Poultry Products Inspection Act was passed, which essentially covered all poultry items to go through the same regulation, inspections, and labeling processes as meat and raw produced items  (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). 

     The year 1938 proved to be a crucial year for the Department of Agriculture and for progress on laws on food regulations. In this year the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was made law. This act was made to update previous laws due to its imperfections as well as to respond to recent technological advances (Fortin, Neal D.) This new law required labeling of every processed, packaged food to contain the names of the food, its net weight, the name and address of the manufacturing distributor, and a list of ingredients (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). Not only did this law strengthen the regulations and rules over the adulteration of food; it also gave the Food and Drug Association more authority over nutrient content of foods. 

     President Bush Sr. signed another crucial law in 1990. This law, called The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, built upon the Fedral Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, by mandating nutrition labeling for most all foods, including standardizing serving sizes on the labels, and calling for a uniform use of health claims (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). This law, as the others, had loopholes; issues relating to food safety, grading, organic, kosher, natural, organic, and date labeling were not included (SOURCE). At the same time the Department of Agriculture was developing this law, a committee was being formed at the Institute of Medicine to figure out how food labels could allow consumers to adapt or adhere to healthy diets. After their study was conducted, that concluded that labeling would indeed improve the health of American’s because it would enable them to make wise and nutritional dietary choices (Symbols, Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Ratings Systems and).

     Within the past 20 years there have been a number of amendments made to food regulation laws. The most recent provisions to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act happened within four years of it passing. The first, proposed in 1991 and enacted in 1992, included that point of produce was added for raw produce, meat, and poultry, as well as nutrition labeling and serving sizes. The most recent provision to the 1990 law was a regulation covering health claims, which was enacted in 1993, and the next was regulations on nutrition labeling and nutrient content claims, enacted in 1994  (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). There have also been new regulatory laws passed. The Food Quality and Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1966 strictly mandated and regulated health-based standards on pesticides used on foods (Fortin, Neal D).

     Since the governments formation of the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Association in 1862, many changes have occurred in the way that companies produce and distribute their products, as well as many changes to how the regulations put on these companies are universal and for the consumers protection. These changes have been extremely important to consumers because of the health and nutrition benefits, as well as to companies. Without these regulations, America’s food industry wouldn’t be as vast and powerful as it is today. 

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Messages in the Media and Social Comparison Among Adolescent Females

     Adolescents in the United States are constantly surrounded by the media. Whether through the internet, television, or magazines, they are always seeing images and messages aimed towards them. A fair amount of advertisements adolescents are subjected to consist of society’s standard for the “idea” body time. Social comparison, by definition, is the process of comparing yourself to others who are similar to you in order to measure your worth and value (Beebe, Beebe & Redmond, 2011). This post will cover what messages the media sends to adolescent females and how it influences them to socially compare themselves to females in the media. 

     Much of the research on media effects on body image has been guided by the social comparison theory of Leon Festinger, which holds that people are driven to evaluate themselves through comparison with others. Self-evaluation is a normative phenomenon yielding information important to survival in and adaption to one’s environment, social interactions and relationships, cognitive self-exploration, and affective self-assessment (Buunk & Mussweiler, 2001).

     One way humans self-evaluate is through a social comparison process whereby individuals compare themselves on a given dimension (e.g., ability, attitude, physical appearance) to others. This process can be conceptualized as having three main steps: 

  1. Acquisition of social comparison information
  2. Thinking about the information in relation to the self; and, 
  3. Reacting to the information

(Wood, 1996). 

     When individuals gather information and compare themselves to another person viewed as “better” on the comparison dimension, this process is referred to as ‘upward comparison.’ Conversely, when comparisons are made against individuals thought to be “worse” on the dimension, the process is labeled as ‘downward comparison.’ (Wills, 1981).

     Adolescent females are very impressionable; concern over weight and appearance related issues often surface early in their development and continues throughout their lifespan (Serdar, 2005). There are many different sources to which individuals can look for social comparison, but mass media is seen to be one of the most commanding influences, especially for females. 

     The media is a strong influence in all of Western society. As Denis McQuail states in his 1994 publication titled “The Influence and Effects of Mass Media”:

          “With the media, there is the consistent picture of the social world which may lead the audience to adopt this version of reality. There is also a continuing and selective interaction between self and the media which plays a part in shaping the individual’s own behavior and self-concept. We learn what our social environment is and respond to the knowledge that we acquire. We can expect the media to tell us about different kinds of social roles and the accompanying expectations; we can expect certain values to be selectively reinforced in these and other areas of social experience.” (p.2). 

     Since the 1990’s advertisements in printed media as well as television have been documented as being the most powerful fource in creating society’s perception of the tall, thin, and toned ideal for females (Rabak-Wagner, Kelly-Vance & Eickhoff-Shemeck, 1998). Examples of such media images are innumerable. In a study examining the size of Playboy and Miss America Pageant contestants from 1977 to 1996, Spitzer, Henderson, and Zivian (1990), found that almost all models were underweight, with 17%-33% meeting weight criteria for anorexia nervosa. The media is littered with images of females who fulfill these unrealistic standards, making it seem as if it’s normal for women to live up to this ideal. Dittmar and Howard (2004) made this statement regarding the prevalence of unrealistic media images: 

          “Ultra-thin models are so prominent that exposure to them becomes unavoidable and ‘chronic’, constantly reinforcing a discrepancy for most women and girls between their actual size and the ideal body” (p. 478). 

     It has been repeatedly shown that constant exposure to thin models fosters body image concerns and disordered eating in females. In a sample of various aged females, Richins (1991) found that 71.3% reported that they think about how they look compared to models when viewing clothing advertisements. Almost all forms of the media contain unrealistic images, and the negative effects of such idealistic portrayals have been demonstrated in numerous studies. 

     Particularly for females, it is difficult to go through a day without viewing images that send the message, “you’re not good enough.” The pervasiveness of the media makes it very challenging for most women to avoid evaluating themselves against society’s standard of ‘ideal beauty.’ Research has found that females who report frequently comparing themselves to other females, especially females in the media, are more likely to show signs of negative mood and body disturbance (Schooler et al., 2004). It has also been proposed by many researchers that social comparison may be the mechanism by which unrealistic media standards are translated into actually body image disturbance in an individual. Women who report higher levels of social comparison are at greater risk to develop extreme preoccupation with weight and appearance, and are also more likely to display disordered eating patterns and/or clinical eating disorders (Tiggemann, 2003).

     Whereas thin women are idealized, obese women are negatively stigmatized to the degree that obesity stigma has been referred to by some scholars as the last socially acceptable form of discrimination in the United States. Overweight women are more likely than normal-weight women to report being the target of interpersonal and institutional discrimination, including being viewed as less desirable as friends, rejected by peers, and described as lazy, stupid, weak, sloppy, and ugly. The message from the media is clear: a thin woman is attractive and socially valued whereas an obese woman is unattractive and socially rejected (Carr & Friedman, 2005).

     Mainstream magazines and advertisements are a major source of idealized images of women. This is disturbing, because many women, especially adolescents, have been found to read such material on a regular basis. Findings of one study indicate that 83% of teenage girls reported reading fashion magazines for about 4.3 hours each week (Thompson & Heinberg, 1999). Adolescents read these magazines because they’re supposed to make them look and feel better, however, it was found that consistently reading them correlated with higher levels of body dissatisfaction and disturbed eating (Tiggemann, 2003). 

    Adolescent females are very impressionable and subject themselves to innumerable amounts of messages from the media saying that they aren’t pretty or good enough unless they are thin. While older women may be able to disregard these messages, adolescents are more prone to social comparison and therefore feel the need to embody the ‘ideal’ woman of the media. Female’s drive to be like these ‘ideal’ women in the media correlate with higher numbers of body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, disordered eating, and even potential eating disorders. 

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