AstraZeneca vaccine concern

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Following a recent concern raised around thrombotic events (the event in which a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel), AstraZeneca offered its reassurance on the safety of its vaccine by conducting trials across the UK and EU in order to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness based on scientific evidence. The AstraZeneca report showed the vaccine to be 76% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms. Not only this, but the vaccine showed 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease or the need for hospitalization.

Reports from the UK and EU show that there have only been 15 events of DVT (deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs) and only 22 events of pulmonary embolism (a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot) reported among those given the AstraZeneca vaccine. This number is actually quite impressive, and it turned out to be much lower than would be expected to occur in populations of that size. 

Ann Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Around 17 million people in the EU and UK have now received our vaccine, and the number of cases of blood clots reported in this group is lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population. The nature of the pandemic has led to increased attention in individual cases and we are going beyond the standard practices for safety monitoring of licensed medicines in reporting vaccine events, to ensure public safety.”

In terms of quality, there have been no confirmed issues regarding any batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine used across Europe, or the rest of the world. However, additional testing has, and will continue to be conducted, although so far, testing has indicated no reason for concern, according to officials. 

AstraZeneca has stated that they will always put the public’s safety first and that they encourage those invited to get the vaccine, and hopefully, we will soon overcome this pandemic.

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‘The Sopranos’ and its relevance today

By: Teah Henry 

I recently finished my first watch through of ‘The Sopranos’, and I wasn’t the only one who was binging the show. According to HBO, the show’s viewership went up 179% at the start of the pandemic. ‘The Sopranos’ still manages to be relevant today with its commentary on mental health, social issues, and American capitalism despite its finale airing in 2007. 

The show cemented itself as a staple in television history with its realistic, complex characters and being one of the first shows that proved T.V. could be just as effective as film.

It was also one of the first to utilize the anti-hero; a protagonist that the viewer isn’t meant to agree with or even like. ‘The Sopranos’ paved the way for other shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Rescue Me’. 

It’s not far fetched to say that most mafia stories are critiques of capitalism. They take place in a system that encourages cheating and competitiveness, and the members are often not happy with the way things are. The way that only a few in the mafia make a large profit while sending out lower ranking members to do the dangerous work is reminiscent of the small amount of people that hold the majority of wealth while most Americans are stuck working for a living. Christopher’s frustrations with Tony are the same as workers towards their own bosses; feeling used and not cared about. 

During the pandemic, the rich got insanely richer while the working class struggled to make ends meet. Congress couldn’t agree to send out another stimulus check a year after the first one, while other countries were consistently sending them out monthly. A lot of people became aware of America’s unfair distribution of wealth, and ‘The Sopranos’ bleak look at how capitalism only keeps its citizens unhappy helped people feel heard. 

Tony’s struggle with his mental health was also something viewers could relate to. Struggling with depression and panic attacks, Tony has to hide his problems to nearly everyone in his life due to social stigma. Tony’s inability to feel completely happy and satisfied is something a lot of people deal with, especially now as living conditions in America become worse.

Teens may also see themselves in the character AJ, Tony’s son, who is a teen throughout most of the show. He inherited his father’s mental health issues. His struggle with school and finding a purpose in his life is familiar to many. 

While almost all of the characters in ‘The Sopranos’ are irredeemable, there is something relatable about their feelings and struggles, and the commentary it makes will always ring true with American culture. 

Josephine Baker: A biography

By: Reagan Welch

Josephine Baker is a name you’ve probably never heard, but it should be. Baker was a performer, mother, civil rights activist, and spy for the Allies during World War II.

Intrigued yet? I thought so.

Let’s start with her childhood. Freda Josephine MacDonald was born on June 3rd, 1906 to a single mother in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up very poor, and had to drop out of school at age 8, becoming a servant for a white family.

She was very passionate about dancing, so she performed on street corners for extra money. There, she caught the attention of a theatre troupe, who hired her. She gained her fame by performing in the Broadway show ‘Chocolate Dandies’.

While living in New York, she married a man named Willie Baker, whom she later divorced, but kept his last name, therefore becoming Josephine Baker.

In 1925, she moved to Paris and became a star there, where she was known for her flamboyance. In one of her most famous performances, she wore a skirt made of bananas. She also owned a pet cheetah named Chiquita, and went on to star in French films.

When World War II began, Baker enlisted as a spy for the French military. She kept performing, and was invited to many parties. She would flirt with generals of the Axis powers to coax information out of them. After that, she would write the information in invisible ink on her sheet music. If she found crucial photos, she would pin them to her underclothes, depending on her stardom to keep from being strip-searched.

After the war ended, Baker returned to the United States for a tour. She faced lots of racism, with as many as 36 hotels forbidding her to perform. Eventually, she sat down on stage and refused to leave until the hotel’s manager finally gave in.

She became heavily involved in the civil rights movement. She was the only woman to speak in the March on Washington. When Martin Luther King Jr. died, she was asked by his wife to lead the movement. Baker declined, as she had 12 adopted children at home. She called them her “rainbow tribe,” as they were from all different ethnic backgrounds. The NAACP named her Woman of the Year, and a parade was held in her honor.

In 1975, Josephine Baker performed in her last show. Three days after opening night, she died of a cranial hemorrhage. She was buried in France with a 21-gun-salute, and over 200,000 people came to her funeral.

Though she may have passed away, her legacy lives on. The NAACP declared May 20th “Josephine Baker Day”. Beyoncé has said in an interview that Baker is an inspiration to her.

Josephine Baker accomplished many wonderful things in her life, and should be talked about more often.

If you’d like to learn more, PBS released a documentary about her life titled ‘Josephine Baker: The Story Of An Awakening’

India Development and Relief Fund!

By: Reagan Welch

In 2020, India experienced 965 earthquakes of magnitude 3 and above, and the number of earthquakes continues to increase each year. All of these earthquakes hit the poor communities harder and harder, leaving thousands in need of food, clean water, and shelter.

The India Development and Relief Fund works to provide support for ongoing programs based in India such as; education, health care, women’s empowerment, eco friendly development, good governance, disaster relief, and rehabilitation.

Those six areas are the main focuses for programs.

IDRF asks for donations of any size, volunteering, fundraising, and partnerships with businesses to help break the continuous cycle of poverty within India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. They recognize poverty is a deep rooted and oppressed issue. India Development and Relief Fund’s mission is to empower the poor, to guide their programs to be beneficial to the women and children fighting, and having the locals truly take charge so that the change is long lasting.

IDRF’s programs serve the disadvantaged with no regards to religion, race, caste, or creed.

One of the popular programs being run right now is computer literacy to underprivileged children. It is being run all across India right now.

Disaster relief and rehabilitation would be the program used for earthquakes and man made disasters. This program is very active in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of disaster. Once the immediate needs are met, the program focuses on enabling enduring and sustainable development in the area. That way, instead of focusing on transitional relief, IDRF can focus on the long term sustainable options and rehabilitation.

IDRF continues to partner with trustworthy local non government organizations (NGOs) after years of working with them and achieving great results.

IDRF has three COVID-19 relief campaign projects out now; two are based in India, one based in the United States.

IDRF has been awarded 4 out of 4 stars by ‘Charity Navigators’ because it demonstrates strong financial health and accountability.

Now, with the COVID-19 disaster, is the best time to donate and join the IDRF family.

For more information, please visit:

Healthy breakfast ideas

By: Joxery Mezen Camacho

Everyone says “breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” But sometimes I’m too tired to make any breakfast, or I wake up late and barely have any time to eat something healthy. And there are many occasions where I simply don’t know what to eat. So, here are —- quick and easy healthy breakfast ideas: 

Image taken from: 
https://peasandcrayons
.com/2020/02/veggie-breakfast-burritos.html

Breakfast burrito!

Why not try having a burrito in the morning? Getting a tortilla, adding in some eggs, avocado, and some veggies (or keeping it a strictly vegetable-only burrito) makes a healthy and delicious breakfast meal! 

Toast!

Image taken from: 
https://www.loveandlemons
.com/healthy-breakfast-ideas/

Toast is quick and easy-and you can have a variety of different toppings; there’re different kinds of jam, peanut butter, and avocado!

With the avocado, you could add veggies too, such as spinach, radishes, cilantro, carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

You could also add an egg-scrambled, hard boiled, or sunny side up are all doable on toast!

A dash of lemon can also make the flavor pop! 

Breakfast Bowl!

Image taken from: https://www.tablespoon.com
/recipes/breakfast-bowl-for-one/7ff57b3b-b659-4038-920b-904147b0f7c2

Just throw some food in a bowl and call it breakfast-nice and easy. This can vary widely.

A berry bowl with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and adding some coconut water has become quite popular!

Or a more savory bowl with eggs, vegetables, and some brown rice is different and healthy.

Or a sweeter bowl with quinoa, almond milk (or any kind), and some cinnamon, if savory isn’t what you’re feeling!

Mixing it up is perfect with this breakfast meal!

Breakfast Quesadilla! 

Image taken from: https://www.landolakes.com
/recipe/16881/breakfast-quesadillas/

A quesadilla-obviously with a tortilla and cheese, but why not add something else? Adding in some ham, bacon, or sausage to boost up protein is always an option!

A bacon, egg quesadilla-or simply some egg!

Or add in some vegetables-onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms always do the trick! Some avocado also never hurts!

Whatever floats your boat! 

Breakfast Oats! 

Image taken from: https://feelgoodfoodie.net
/recipe/how-to-make-oatmeal/

Oatmeal is quick, easy, and healthy! Adding in some fruit, jam, seeds, some almond or adding in some peanut butter with chocolate chips always shakes things up!

Adding in some yogurt with some chia seeds is another great combination with oats!

Or apricots with pistachios and pomegranate seeds, or hemp seeds with mango and currants!

The combinations are endless! 

‘Attack on Titan’ season 4 review

By: Mohamed Ahmed

As you may know, ‘Attack on Titan’ season 4, is coming out weekly. As of March 24th there are 16 episodes out. This anime is arguably the most watched seasonal anime coming out right now. Apparently, season 4 is the final season of the anime, and this is what I think about the season so far. 

Animation 

The animation for this last season is really good. The studio in charge is most known for doing another anime called ‘Vinland Saga’. The animation studio is WIT studio.

They have the task of animating much harder things and details than the other seasons, like the technological advancements in this series during the timeskip. Trains, guns, and explosions are rampant in this season making it a much more difficult task to animate. Even with all that, they are doing a great job with consistency and the animation is much better than expected. 

Voice acting 

For this season, you have good news for both sub (Japanese) and dub (English), because the voice acting is phenomenal. Especially in Japanese, this part of the anime is flawless.

The octaves of the voices changed according to what they used to sound like, and for me personally, they sound exactly like what four years would do to someone; older characters sound the same as younger characters grew up. 

Designs 

The designs are really good for most characters. The main character, his sister, and his best friend have all aged and the designs were really good. On top of that, the change in animation really made the designs look significantly better because we were unfamiliar with this animation style.

Changes 

This is by far the worst part of this season. The changes they made to save time cheapens the story. They keep the most important parts intact, but the foreshadowing and other details, like character interaction and buildup, were removed. The more time passes the worse it will get, and the more they will skip.

They are claiming that this is the final season, but to this day, the manga is still coming out.

Yoga in the United States

By: Grace Helmke

Yoga was once a practice that involved great spirituality and mindfulness. It was a way of life which no individual had taken lightly. However, after its introduction in Western society, yoga became a factory which Americans have simply thrown money at. The culture of Hindus, Buddhists, and Janeists have become a multi-million dollar industry marketed towards white women. 

The origins of yoga date back thousands of years. It was first mentioned in the ‘Rig Veda’, which are ancient Sanskrit texts from India, however, yoga was practiced by yogis long before there was written record of it. The ‘Rig Veda’ is one of the most important texts in the tradition of Hinduism. It is a collection of hymns and mantras divided into ten mandalas (books).

Over time, yogis passed down the discipline to their students. Schools of yoga had begun to expand across India, and started to spread through Eastern Asia as well. 

Yoga is one of the six schools of philosophy in Hinduism, and is a major part of the traditions of Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism as well. It is a practice which combines aspects of physicality, spirituality, and mental well being through breathing techniques, poses, and meditation.

Yoga is most commonly known in the Western world as being an exercise that involves poses, but in reality, physicality is not as significant in the traditional practices in India. Instead of being a fitness routine, yoga was focused on spiritual growth and mental improvement. The word yoga in Sanskrit means “union” and is meant to be a way to connect the mind, body, and soul.

According to a research study done by the University of Connecticut, yoga practitioners in the United States are generally white, middle aged, women, of a higher socioeconomic status. Therefore, the American yoga industry markets towards this demographic. Products such as yoga mats and blocks are so overpriced that they have become inaccessible to individuals of lower socioeconomic status. Yoga studios are generally built in areas of greater wealth. This might have something to do with the $90 yoga pants they sell, or the $20 per class fee they charge. Yoga practitioners in the U.S. spend more than $10 billion a year on classes, clothing, and accessories. The upscale white woman is the face of yoga, because that’s who Western yoga (white yoga) is marketed towards. 

One of the most significant symbols of the commercialization of yoga is the mat. Many consider this a vital piece in the practice. A top of the line mat can cost you around $100. However, mats have not always been a staple to the practice of yoga. The first mat which was intentionally produced for the purpose of yoga, was created in the 1990s. Before that, yoga was practiced on grass, rugs, and even just on the bare floor. Today some argue that the use of mats interferes with the practice, claiming it distracts the practitioner away from the true aims of yoga, and towards that accumulation of commodities.

The result of the commercialization of yoga could potentially be dangerous. Unqualified teachers can cause physical harm to students. According to an article by the ‘New York Times’, it is all too common for students and teachers alike to injure themselves from lack of experience in yoga. Glenn Black, an incredibly experienced and famous yogi, claims that the majority of people in practice, shouldn’t be.

Commercialization has driven yoga to become more of an exercise which involves harsh posing, causing injury to be common. It’s rarely known that certain poses can cause serious issues such as strokes, wounding of vertebral arteries, and blood clots. These poses are not meant for the inflexible white urbanite. The poses were extensions of positions ancient Indians used to sit and stand in every day. Their bodies were built to be able to bend this way.

The failure to discuss the idea that yoga can cause blinding pain is done on purpose. What’s pumped out into the media is the idea that yoga is a miracle cure for anxiety, depression, back aches, high blood pressure, and so much more. This furthers its already growing popularity and contributes to the rising trust in its abilities. The industry creates such an incredible profit that they would do nothing to endanger it. Therefore its potential harm is not mentioned.

In addition to the dangers commercialization of yoga can cause to Americans, the dilution and corruption of yoga in the Western world does harm Hindu people and culture, as well as other traditions that practice yoga. The way that yoga is practiced in Western society is cultural appropriation. It has erased the true traditions of yoga through the failure to practice in the correct manner. This creates obstacles for Hindu people attempting to access their own culture, and prevents the passing down of tradition.

Practicing yoga without acknowledging its background is also very problematic because of its history with British colonial rule. Hindus were persecuted by the British, and prevented from practicing yoga in their own land. Their culture was almost erased.

Hindus today still face discrimination for practicing yoga, while white people practice it without consequences and without ackknowledging the culture and people behind it. 

Western commercialization has created a culture of appropriation. We have turned hallowed traditions and spiritual practices into workout routines for the wealthy. Our lack of awareness and acknowledgement harms cultures around the world. The practice of yoga is not a weekly stretch, but in fact is a way of life.

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Homework stress and tips to help

By: McKenna Nutter

Research that was conducted at Stanford University, in 2013, found that high school students, who may be considered a part of ‘high achieving communities’, who spend more time on their homework, struggle with balancing their education with their social life and physical health. This lack of balance has caused many of these students stress. 

This study came to find that more than two hours of homework per night is not only overbearing, but it also is counterproductive. The students who participated in this study reported to be spending over three hours on homework, on average. 

When it came to stress, over 70% of the studied students reported they were often, or even always, stressed over schoolwork, and more than 99% claimed that homework was a stressor. More than 40% of students claimed they experienced three or more physical symptoms when asked if they ever experienced any headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems, and 80% said they experienced at least one. 

Many students in this study, and even personally, felt forced and/or obligated, to choose homework and grades over the rest of their life. This could mean that any free time at home, time with my family, any social outings, and extracurricular activities were neglected because of homework. 

Some tips that can help with the stress of too much homework are:

  • Stick to a schedule: As a student, this has helped me a lot, with more than my homework. Just forcing myself to wake up at the same time everyday, get dress and do something like make my bed or pick up my room before school has helped me create good habits that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • Stay organized and check your agenda constantly: This is another important aspect to keeping stress down. A tool I use personally is a homework app. I enter my homework and the due dates into an app and check it off as complete when it is submitted. It also helps me when an adult also has access to my homework tracker to help me stay on task.
  • Communication: Communication with your teacher is ideal, it helps your teacher get to know you and it makes it easy to talk to them when you have questions. And as mentioned before, talking with an adult in your house is very helpful. Sit down for five minutes every night, or every couple nights, and discuss how homework is progressing and your upcoming assignments. I was very hesitant when I first started doing this, but it has given me a lot of motivation to get things done. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep. This one seems very obvious but it’s true. I’m sure everyone knows the importance of sleep, but as a high schooler myself, I cannot tell anyone how much easier school got when I started going to sleep at a decent time. If you were to do this, even on most nights, the difference is noticeable. 

There are many resources students can use to keep in contact with their teachers and many apps and websites to keep track of your schoolwork. The app I use personally is called ‘My Homework Student Planner’, and paper planners are another amazing way to stay up to date. I spend, at most, five minutes at the start of each day looking through Schoology for new assignments. 

How “green” are electric vehicles really?

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Around the world, governments and automakers have pushed electric vehicles as a key solution to curbing oil use and fighting climate change, but are these vehicles really as “green” as advertised?

The answer is yes, but also no. While electric vehicles are, in fact, very “green”, they do still have environmental effects.

An argument that is often put forward when discussing how environmentally-friendly electric vehicles are is how polluting and damaging the process behind the manufacturing of their batteries can be to the Earth. The batteries behind electric vehicles are actually composed of a range of rare-earth metals, and the extraction of these metals contributes significantly to carbon emissions. In this sense, electric vehicles are not exactly “green”.

Additionally, the production of electric vehicles consumes a lot of energy. In fact, the emissions from the production of an electric vehicle is higher than those during the production of a conventional vehicle. This is due to the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles. More than a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric vehicle come from the energy used to make the car itself. This is not very “green” either.

However, electric vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions, producing no carbon dioxide emissions when driving. When evaluated on that factor alone, electric vehicles are a lot more eco-friendly than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles on the market today. Over a year,  an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 can be saved just by one electric vehicle on the roads.

Electric vehicles are also much more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Approximately 17 to 21 percent of the energy is converted into power for the car when the gasoline in conventional vehicles combusts. 59 to 62 percent of the energy is converted into electric energy to power electric vehicles. 

So, the answer to our question is quite ambiguous, but perhaps, as technology advances and electric vehicles become even more environmentally friendly, we will have a definitive answer.

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Quick rundown of vitamins

By: Mohamed Ahmed

There are 13 essential elements. Vitamins are organic compounds that we need to ingest to stay healthy. In a sense they are the bodybuilders, defenders, and maintenance workers if the body. They build muscle and bone, capture and use energy, all the while healing wounds.

They are consumed in different ways. Lipid (fat) soluble, and water soluble. Water soluble vitamins are taken up by the blood flow. Lipid soluble is broken up by bile from the liver and is commonly seen in fat.

The difference of the way it is consumed, ejected, and even stored is based on if it is a water or a fat soluble vitamin.

Here are the four main vitamins that you need the most:

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is vital for the reproductive system and for the immune system. The other things that Vitamin A is good for is that it helps lungs, kidneys, and other organs run properly.

Liver, fish, and dairy are great sources of Vitamin A. 

Vitamin B 

Vitamin B is great for cell health, it is also great for infections and even helps blood cells thrive.

Ways to receive Vitamin B are meat, eggs, whole grains, seeds, and you can’t forget the dark leafy vegetables. 

Vitamin C 

This is the vitamin that you probably will recognize. A deadly disease called scurvy can be cured with this vitamin. It has the benefits of helping reduce your chances of contracting certain types of cancer and diabetes.

This vitamin can be found in oranges, mangoes, papayas, and pineapples. 

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D can be found in liver, eggs, red meat, and ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation can be found basically anywhere the sun is, so you can get Vitamin D by going outside as well.

Severe Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to the following: easily fatigued, bone pains, and even muscle weakness.

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