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  • Wrong Call at the Grammys?

    Posted by Jack Hamilton '16 on 2/29/2016 9:40:00 AM

    This year’s Grammy Awards ceremony was certainly a pleasing sight to the majority of its 24.9 million viewers, featuring memorable performances from artists such as Adele, The Eagles, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, and many more. One artist, however, seems to have been snubbed of an award that many feel he deserved.

    That artist would be Kendrick Lamar, whose album To Pimp A Butterfly did not end up winning the Grammy for Album of the Year, causing somewhat of an uproar in the music community.

    One major part of the reason why some people are so irritated by the fact that Kendrick Lamar did not win Album of the Year is that in recent times, there has been an emphasis on African Americans being disregarded in awards shows, and Lamar himself is African American.

    The artist who did win the award, Taylor Swift for her album 1989, happens to be white. Many have drawn parallels between Lamar’s situation this year and at the 2014 Grammy Awards, in which his Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City was beaten out for Rap Album of the Year by white rapper Macklemore’s The Heist, which even Macklemore himself said was a questionable decision possibly influenced by racial privilege. While

    some have stated that Lamar may have been slighted due to his race, and it definitely could be possible due to the trends of past awards shows, it is also worth noting that this year he was the most nominated and most awarded artist, so
    it could merely be a coincidence.

    Another reason why some people believe that Swift’s 1989 beat out To Pimp A Butterfly is that rap and hip-hop as genres have historically been neglected at the Grammys. For example, the last time that a hip-hop album was awarded Album of the Year was in 2004, when Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below won.

    This, however, is not the only instance in which the Grammys has shunned hip-hop and rap music. After failing to recognize hip-hop/rap as its own category for three decades, a hip-hop artist has never won for Song of the Year or Record of the Year, and only twice has Album of the Year gone to a hip-hop artist.

    The ulterior motives behind awarding Swift Album of the Year and not Kendrick Lamar may not ever surface, if there are even any at all.

    Despite this, it is important to look at the backlash the issue has caused and possibly take it as a lesson in equal representation, from both a musical and racial standpoint.

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  • Why I’m Still With Hillary

    Posted by Rebecca Miller '16 on 2/29/2016 9:35:00 AM

    In the aftermath of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, it’s very clear that Bernie Sanders’ popularity with young voters is surging, while Hillary Clinton’s is diminishing. Yet I’m still “With Hillary” even though lately it seems like a less and less
    popular position.

    Don’t get me wrong-- I don’t dislike Bernie Sanders; I do agree with a number of his ideas and I do believe that he wants to help our country. What I do have a problem with is that after Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Clinton, Sanders immediately declared that “these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.” I’m sure that had they opted to endorse him, Sanders would be singing a very
    different tune.

    There’s also the fact that despite railing into Clinton for her super PAC funding, the Sanders campaign has been receiving funding from a super PAC belonging to the National Nurses United, the largest nurses union in the country, as well as Friends of Earth Action, a non-profit organization, meaning that there is no cap on donations, and that donors do not have to be disclosed, making it a type of group that Senator Sanders has
    criticized in the past.

    But above all, I’m with Hillary because she’s the most qualified candidate and has a wide range of experience; because she has real plans and goals that are plausible for us here and now; and because I agree with most of her positions-- more so than any of the other candidates,
    on either side.

    Again, I know that among our age group, this tends to be the more “unpopular” position, and I’m not looking to be bombarded with links to articles about why I should support Bernie, instead. Believe me... I’ve seen them, I’ve read them, and I understand them. I’ve spent time researching and reading up on the issues and the stances of the candidates, and I still support Hillary the most. However, I’m not naive; I know that she has some questions to answer, that she has some explaining to do-- Hillary isn’t perfect, but she’s got my vote.

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  • How Unlocking an iPhone is a Violation of Our Rights

    Posted by Trevor Wood '16 on 2/29/2016 9:35:00 AM

    In the digital age, more so than ever, we have seen our privacy diminished, and our right to privacy in serious jeopardy. It’s true that such a trend is inevitable in a world where social media and the internet play an increasingly vital role, but it begs the question of just how much we should be willing to give up. We relish in the ability to communicate, socialize, and interact at the click of a button. The expansion of the internet and technology has fostered a sense of interconnectedness throughout the world, and we live in a world where physical barriers between people and societies no longer seem to exist. These things are fantastic. Of course, we understand they come at a cost, but at what point does “security” become a right’s violation. It is a question that remains unanswered and perhaps will always remain unanswered. Still, it is one that we as people must continue to focus on.

    This issue, which has come up countless times throughout history, was brought back into the spotlight recently by something that seems so simple—unlocking a cell phone. After the San Bernardino attacks in California, the FBI recovered the iPhone of one of the shooters. The issue became how exactly to unlock the iPhone that is protected by a password. Apple’s encryption has made it impossible for the FBI to open the phone, and as result a federal judge ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking the phone. However, despite the judge’s orders, Apple refused, citing the dangerous precedent that it would create.

    It may seem strange that unlocking the phone of a known terrorist would be controversial, but the matter is bigger than just one phone. By unlocking the phone, Apple would essentially create a “backdoor” to its phones, which could be used to access any phone of any individual. The issue goes back to the revelations made by Edward Snowden in 2013. As information about government surveillance was released, Apple and many other other tech companies pledged to strengthen encryptions and protect the rights of Americans and people worldwide. Unwarranted government surveillance is a massive breach of our constitutional rights, and, no matter the justifications otherwise, we as Americans have a right to be secure in our privacy. Such an argument may seem impractical or even purely ideological, but it is an argument based upon the very ideologies that founded this country. As fallacious as the “slippery-slope” argument can be, there are times at which our rights as citizens and consumers are too precious to risk.

    In its response to the judge’s orders, Apple wrote finding a way to break the iPhone’s encryption is “something we consider too dangerous to create.” The letter, signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook himself, went on to state “The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers—including tens of millions of American citizens—from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.” Their response drives home the issue perfectly. In times like this, pur our constitutional rights are too great a price to pay even in the same of safety and security.

    Of course, it can be argued that the FBI went through the correct channels to demand access. By receiving a court order, the FBI is not in violation of the 4th Amendment. However, what sets apart this case is that the FBI is not simply asking Apple to hand over a password. They are asking Apple to create a backdoor which could theoretically give anyone access to the phone—a backdoor which Apple does not have. Were Apple to know the phone’s password, or already have a way to access the phone, this would be an entirely different issue, but forcing Apple to unencrypt and diminish the cybersecurity on its phones goes beyond what the FBI or the government can do. The FBI has no legal right to make the demands it has, nor should Apple comply without a fight.

    While this issue may drag on for months, or even years, it teaches us a great lesson. Our rights, the very rights we often take for granted, only exist so long as we defend them. There comes point at which we must use our collective power as citizens to protect what we are entitled to. When such a major issue is at hand, even silence is dangerous benefit of the entire American people.

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  • Why LHS Needs To Bring Midterms Back

    Posted by Jessica Rosenblum '16 on 2/29/2016 9:30:00 AM

    As a senior, I am looking forward to graduation, and hoping for the next few months to pass quickly. At the end of January, however, I found myself wishing I could go back in time and become a freshman again. Why? Because I miss midterms—words that I am sure no senior has ever uttered.

    Midterms provided a methodical structure to my education that quarterlies have failed to replace. Personally, I used to spend two weeks preparing for my various midterm exams, making study guides, completing review packets and visiting my teachers with questions.

    Due to the lack of reading days, however, this year I found myself unable to adequately prepare myself for the ‘quarterlies,’ which actually encompassed not only material from marking period two, but material from marking period one as well, essentially making them midterm exams.

    I don’t mean to blame teachers for administering these cumulative exams; in fact, these exams are accurate measures of our success in the classroom and great practice for the exams we will need to take in college. However, if the teachers are going to continue to give us midterms in a non-structured manner, without ample time to study, then students are being taught that these exams are not important, and studying in advance is not necessary.

    As a result, LHS students are deprived of the type of environment that encourages proper study habits and fosters success.

    While with good intentions, LHS has altered the habits of its brightest, most ambitious students and is preventing the young freshmen and sophomores from developing the capabilities necessary to handle serious exams.

    LHS Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Spadafina, feels that her students are “under more pressure because they have less time to study” and has noticed that her students are “much more stressed” during the end of marking period testing than they used to be during typical midterm exams.

    Her opinion is shared by junior class representative Eric Levey, who feels that he has lost the ability to properly prepare himself for rigorous exams due to the rushed and overwhelming nature of quarterlies.

    As a senior, I appreciate all that LHS has done for me. Nonetheless, I feel it necessary to address this problem, and to alert the administration of the discontent brewing among its students.

    While I respect and understand that this system was put in place with the intention of saving time and alleviating stress, it appears that it has done the opposite, and that it is time for a change.

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  • Why Technology Has Ruined Secret Santa

    Posted by Jessica Rosenblum '16 on 1/22/2016 9:35:00 AM

    December is a magical time. The crisp cold air, the snow, the hot chocolate, the Christmas decorations. It’s all very nice, really. Also, as the holidays get closer, most of us will be receiving a lot of gifts. There’s the sweater from grandma, the $200 from your favorite aunt and uncle, and the $5 gift card to Starbucks from your bizarre cousin. These gifts are sure; they’re steady; they’re predictable.

    The best tradition of all, the most unpredictable, has always been secret Santa. However, with the rise of the apps developed to make secret Santa more efficient, the magic is diminishing. These apps allow users to make a “wish list,” therefore taking away the always enjoyable endeavor of shopping for a thoughtful gift.

    The best part of the holiday season is opening presents and feeling that wonderful surprise of something new. The ways things are now that surprise is gone,.The holidays are about more than just receiving gifts. They are about spending time to think about our friends and family and decide what gifts they would like to receive. When buyinga gift, it really is the thought that counts, but now what thought even is there? At this point, we may as well all buy our own secret Santa gifts, because the secret is gone and so is Santa.

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  • The Waiting Game

    Posted by Rebecca Miller '16 on 1/22/2016 9:35:00 AM

    I’ve always considered myself to be a patient person… that is, until I applied to college. Now, I’m constantly fighting the urge to check the status of my applications. Because most colleges first notify applicants online, via email or student portal, checking (and double checking, and triple checking) has become easier than ever, for better or for worse.

    Last week, when the portal for one of my schools wasn’t working, I went into panic-mode; does that mean they’re updating it? Does that mean they’re posting results? A couple of agonizing hours later, the website was working again… and much to my dismay, nothing had changed.
    Stories like this one are just part of an average day in the life of nearly every student in the midst of the college application process. Soemtimes, it seems, seniors seem to spend more time checking for their decision then actually applying to the school!

    When I was an underclassman watching my older friends apply to college, I thought that once they submitted their applications, the worst part was over— they could sit back, relax, and watch the acceptances roll in.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but once you hit that “submit” button, one set of worries ends, and another begins.

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  • When Bullets Fall on Deaf Ears

    Posted by Trevor Wood '16 on 1/22/2016 9:30:00 AM

    In the wake of the Paris attacks, French President Francois Hollande addressed his people, telling them, “France must be strong, it must be great and the state authorities must be firm.” These words echo the fear and anger felt around the world. They signify the changes that are likely to affect law and even society. Great tragedies like these often have reverberations that last for decades. The attacks on September 11th gave us the Patriot Act as our government attempted to bolster security and prevent more tragedies from

    Though very controversial, these measures at least attempt to make our country safe. We take these measures to prevent tragedies that occur sporadically, yet we do nothing to prevent the epidemic of gun violence right here in our own country. In Paris, 130 people were killed. In the September 11th attacks it was 2996. As of December, 12,219 people were killed due to gun violence in the United States, and that is 2015 alone. Frankly, our apathy is staggering.

    The shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California once again brings the issue of gun violence back into the public eye. More than that, it forces us to confront the bitter reality that our country has a problem. Why is it that such a developed and wealthy country can fall short on such a major issue? The shooting in San Bernardino was the 352nd mass shooting in only 336 days. An event like this should not be just another headline. Like the other attacks, the shooting in San Bernardino was a terrorist attack, but unlike the others it was an attack facilitated by negligent U.S. policy. It should make us angry. We should demand justice for the victims and demand that our politicians do something to stop this epidemic, yet most are eerily silent.

    The narrative of shootings like this happen the same. The same politicians demand gun control, and the others ignore those pleas. We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, but our thoughts and prayers won’t bring them back, and they certainly won’t stop the next person who picks up a gun to kill. We hear the same thing time and time again. “Bad guys will always have guns.” It’s true that wecan’t stop each and every criminal from possessing a gun, but statistically our laws make no sense.

    The guns used the San Bernardino attacks were purchased legally. Even worse, almost 3/4 of guns used in all mass shootings are purchased legally. To say that gun control will fail to prevent shootings is inaccurate to the point that it is deadly. Under current federal law, even terror suspects can legally purchase a firearm. We look to other developed countries puzzled as to why they don’t face the same gun violence that we do, but the difference is clear. They have strict gun control laws. We don’t.

    Of course, eventually after a tragedy a few days pass, and it is out of our minds. For a moment we seem to forget that gun violence continues to plague our country only until another tragedy inevitably occurs.

    After a tragedy like the one in San Bernardino, we can express our condolences and solidarity with the victims. We can try to go about our lives normally, but the reality is this does nothing but perpetuate the violence. It does not give justice for the victims or for those they leave behind. We need action, not just reaction. We must stop ignoring the issue of gun violence and realize that our laws and our politicians are failing us. It is then, and only then, that our country can begin to heal.

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  • Why The Paris Climate Pact Is The Only Alternative

    Posted by Falyn Stempler '16 on 1/22/2016 9:25:00 AM

    On the night of December 12th, 195 nations signed a monumental climate change treaty which instituted that all nations will drastically reduce their greenhouse emissions in hopes of deterring climate change.

    The Paris Agreement entails a great deal of legally binding actions that must begin in 2020 that requires numerous commitments for additional action to reduce emissions. The long-term goal is to limit the average temperatures of Earth to be “below 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”

    Through terms about a general tariff and trade policy among international trade relations played a pivotal role in creating the agreement which New York magazine has described as “President Obama’s biggest accomplishment,” and Obama has described it as both a “historic...a turning point for the world.”

    Many climatologists and renowned world leaders have spoke to the legitimacy and proficiency of the agreement. US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the treaty is “sending a critical message to the global marketplace.” To continue the positive outlook, Mark Kenber, CEO at the Climate Group added that “the announcement of the global climate deal will enable us to unlock the trillions of dollars of investment needed to support a thriving low carbon economy.”

    There are still some logistic elements to the treaty that still are being worked on but the basic structure has been fully outlined. Although there are many critics, especially in the United States Congress, there is simply no other realistic alternative. Considering that it’s been above 60 degrees in mid-December, I no-longer think that climate change denial can be an argument.

    It is of utmost importance that all people make efforts to tackle the disastrous climate change and support this agreement. It is the only hope we currently have to mend our Earth which, as Pope Francis aptly stated this summer, “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

    Around the world, the consequences of climate change are already being felt. We are beyond the days of climate denial, and beyond the days in which apathy towards the environment is tolerable. Now, more so than ever, it is absolutely vital that the global community takes action to comabat this growing issue before it becomes too late.

    There is a myriad of renewable and non-polluting alternatives to using fossil fuels such as wind, solar, and water energy so environmentalism is not just idealistic. If we work together and hold ourselves accountable we can ensure a sustanaible future. This deal is just the start.

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  • slack·tiv·ism

    Posted by Natalie Kahn '16 on 1/22/2016 9:20:00 AM

    Natalie Kahn ‘16
    The day after the Paris shootings, I opened Facebook and my news feed was, well, repetitive, to say the least. I would venture to guess at least one hundred of my Facebook friends had gone red, white, and blue, superimposing a French flag over their profile pictures. Under one of the notifications, Facebook even suggested I try it: “change your profile picture to support France and the people of Paris.”
    This got me thinking. By clicking a button and putting some stripes over my picture of me in my seniors tank top from the first day of school, am I, as Facebook is telling me I am, proclaiming my support for a bereft country and city? Am I showing that I am a good citizen who is aware of sadness and grief around me?


    I would say that I am not. I would say that I am doing nothing more than, well, putting stripes on my profile picture. Think about it—when one person changes his or her picture, it causes a sort of I-don’t-want-to-look-like-I-don’t-care-so-I’m-going-to-change-my-profile-picture-too effect, a bandwagon form of activism that isn’t activism at all but something new, something crafted specifically for this twenty-first century age of instant gratification and communication in which we live, something called “slacktivism.”

    I apologize to anyone who changed his or her pictures; it’s not wrong or bad and I don’t mean to offend. The larger issue is that we live in a culture that perpetuates this self-centered activism, a culture where taking a second to click a button to do basically nothing represents humanitarianism. We live in a culture where even conflicts are commercialized, where we only show support when it’s trendy.

    As horrible and impossible as it is to understand as the Paris shootings, and I don’t intend to demean any of the effects and casualties, this is not the only event that has caused 100+ deaths in recent history. Aside from the attacks in Lebanon that occurred around the same time, there is unrest all over the world. Islamic State militants kill people every day. According to the International Rescue Committee, over 5.4 million people have died in Congo’s civil war over the past eighteen years. The genocide in Darfur has displaced over 2.5 million people. Why was nobody hashtagging and changing their profile pictures for these conflicts?

    Unfortunately, we live in a world where tragedy and suffering are fairly commonplace. My problem with changing the profile pictures is that it makes this tragedy in France seem like the biggest tragedy our world has ever faced or is facing, when that, unfortunately, is simply not the case. I understand that it’s intended to show comfort but it’s also elevating this event to a pedestal of greater importance than other conflicts that deserve the same attention.

    The overly commercial American people have figured out how to commercialize the impossible—conflict. They have turned it into a way to follow at trend for the purpose of looking like worthwhile, caring citizens.

    I think what we need to do is let the issues speak for themselves; of course, we can speak our mind but following the masses and changing our profile pictures is not showing any support or solidarity; it’s just propagating a trend that we need to stop.

    If we all read our own news, supported who we wanted to support, donated what we wanted to donate, and expressed our opinions freely, we would have no need to stripe-wash our profile pictures. We’d already be responding to all of the conflicts at hand.


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