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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Atlanta Shooting

On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long killed eight people at three different spas in metro Atlanta. Of the eight victims, seven were women, and six were Asian. At the time of the shooting, the question remained if this was a hate crime. The seven female victims that were killed are:

  • Soon C. Park: She worked at the Gold Spa. She was the oldest among the victims that were killed.
  • Hyun J. Grant: Ms. Grant, 51, also worked at the Gold Spa. She was a mother of two boys.
  • Suncha Kim: Ms. Kim, 69, worked at Gold Spa.
  • Yong A. Yue: She worked at the Aromatherapy Spa. She was 63, and was one of the last victims to be shot. 
  • Xiaojie Tan: She owned Young’s Asian Massage.
  • Daoyou Feng: Feng worked for Ms. Tan, and she was 44 years old 
  • Delaina Ashley Yaun: She worked at the Waffle House restaurant, the day she was killed, she was on a date with her husband

The male victim was:

  • Paul Andre Michels: Mr. Michels was a businessman, he was 54 years old and had moved to Atlanta 25 years ago.

The murderer, Mr. Long, was charged with eight counts of murder, and one count of aggravated assault. He is being held without bond in Cherokee County. He told police he went on the killing spree because it had been “a really bad day.”

This should not be a debate. Having “a bad day” should not be an excuse for killing eight innocent people. Repeat: having a bad day doesn’t mean you can go around and murder eight innocent people.

It was a bad day for the families of those that were murder. Since COVID-19 has begun, Asian hate crimes have been on the rise. Asian Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear wondering whether or not they will be murdered by someone who is having a bad day. 

To support our Asian friends, donate to:

  • Armed Patrol Security Guards for Oakland Chinatown
  • Asian Americans Supporting Justice
  • Enough is Enough
  • Hate is a Virus
  • Heart of Dinner
  • Stop Asian Hate
  • Stop AAPI Hate
  • They Can’t Burn Us Al

For more information please visit:

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:

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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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview with Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, March 7, 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, gave an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Here are some of the main takeaways from this interview:

They got married early

In the interview, Meghan told Oprah that she and Harry got married three days before the actual ceremony on national television was viewed by over a million people. They confirmed that they performed a ceremony in their backyard because they wanted to have a private union between them.

Kate made Meghan cry

Before the wedding, the British tabloids reported that Meghan made Kate Middleton cry because of a fight about the flower girl dress Princess Charlotte would wear. But in the interview, Meghan said “It was the other way around that Kate made her cry about the outfit.” Meghan also said that Kate apologized and sent her some flowers. Due to that incident, she said that was the “turning point” in her relationship with the royals because, when the story got out, the royal family didn’t fix the story.

Baby Archie’s skin color

Back in 2019, when Meghan was pregnant with Archie, they said there were “concerns and conversations” with Prince Harry about “how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Later, when Prince Harry joined the interview, Winfrey asked him if he’d give the name of who made comments about skin color. He didn’t answer. 

Meghan’s suicidal thoughts

Meghan told Winfrey that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” and that killing herself would “solve everything for everyone.” She also said that she confided in her husband about her thoughts of suicide, and also to a senior royal to seek inpatient care, but was told it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

Gender reveal of their baby

When Prince Harry joined the interview, the couple revealed that they were expecting a baby girl. This child will be eighth in line for the throne, following her brother Archie. They also revealed that they will not be having any more babies; that their family is now complete.

Loss of royal protection

Every royal family has received bodyguards. During Harry and Meghan’s move to Canada though, and then California, their security detail was cut off. Meghan told Winfrey that she has been the “target of death threats, some based on her race.” Meghan said that the royal family announced their security cut off during their move to California, a time where they were at their most vulnerable. 

Financially cut off

During their interview, Prince Harry said that they “literally cut me off financially.” Harry said he used the money that his late mother, Princess Diana, left for him, and Meghan has had her money from her acting career on the hit TV series ‘Suits.’

The Royals have put out a statement saying: “The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.” Prince William has also spoken out when asked if he talked to his brother, and if the royals are racist. He said: “He had not yet spoken to Harry, but would soon” and “No, we are not a racist family.” This is not surprising though as no one is going to say “Yes” to being asked if they’re racist. 

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Agriculture and the ocean

By: Grace Helmke

The ocean does not take credit where credit is due. It sustains all life on earth. Without it, humanity would cease to exist. Oxygen would slowly dissipate, temperatures would drop to astronomically low levels, jobs would be lost, and coastal economies would be suffering.

Even so, there is complete disregard for the ocean and its inhabitants. Agriculture, amongst many other things, is one of the greatest plagues our oceans have ever seen; contributing to the complete eradication of life in many areas of our ocean. 

What are dead zones? 

Human activity has created areas in the ocean known as “dead zones,” which are regions where less oxygen is dissolved due to lack of marine habitation. Dead zones occur in areas that are unusually high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. This dramatic increase causes large scale red tides, which are harmful algal blooms that are toxic to all forms of life. It can become deadly to fish and birds, and can cause severe illness in humans. The red tides will die off after using up all the oxygen in the area, sinking to the bottom to decompose, leaving a barren environment in its wake. 

Causes of dead zones 

While dead zones can be created naturally, man has significantly impacted their frequency and extremity. Overfishing, global warming, and urbanization can all cause dead zones, but one of the most significant causes of dead zones is the industry of agriculture.

Animal manure and commercial fertilizer runoff makes its way into waterways, and empties out into the ocean. Both manure and fertilizer contain phosphorus and nitrogen, the two chemical nutrients which, when built up, can cause algal blooms. The environmental protection agency suggests that around 335 million tons of animal waste is produced by livestock every year.

If a farm doesnt have the correct system to deal with waste, it ends up in the waterways. In 2011, The Economic Research Service, of the USDA, stated that 22 million tons of fertilizers were used in crops in the United States. According to Edf.org, about 50 percent of fertilizer is actually taken up by the crops themselves. The rest ends up in waterways. 

Dead zones around the world 

The biggest dead zone in the world is in the Arabian Sea, right between the nations of Oman and Iran. It covers almost 63,7000 square miles of the Gulf of Oman (equivalent to the size of Florida). The cause is a combination of overfishing and a buildup of phosphorus and nitrogen from the agricultural industry. 

The famed waterway, the Mississippi, is a significant carrier of nitrogen and phosphorus. Midwest farming operations have produced so much chemical population that they have created the second largest dead zone in the world. The Mississippi carries the chemicals through the nation, and empties them out into the Gulf of Mexico. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 7,000 square miles. 

Effects 

The effects of dead zones can be incredibly detrimental to a region’s economy. Many coastal cities rely on their seafood industry, and biodiversity, to bring in tourists. In addition, many locals work in commercial fishing. If the fish disappear from the ocean, they have no job. 

What can be done to prevent dead zones? 

  1. Buying organic: Organic farms are prohibited from using fertilizer or pesticides on crops. Supporting organic methods of farming is a great way of contributing to a cleaner ocean. 
  2. Buffers: Planting trees, shrubs, and grasses would help reduce the amount of nutrients making their way into the ocean. The plants absorb nutrients, keeping it away from bodies of water.
  3. Animal waste systems: Implementing animal waste systems in farms would help to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen being released into oceans. 

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The viral Tiktok trend “Reality Shifting”- Fact or fiction?

By Caroline Crosby

If you’ve been anywhere near TikTok, or other similar social media platforms, you may have been exposed to the strange concept of “reality shifting”. It was first popularized by avid fans of the Harry Potter franchize in early fall of this year, and spread like wildfire across the internet in the months following. 

Essentially, reality shifting (or just “shifting”) is loosely described as a shift in consciousness from one reality to the next. Now, this may sound like an improbable conspiracy theory promoted by a mob of fictional wizard obsessed teenagers, but there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. 

As a disclaimer, the science behind shifting is mostly theoretical and difficult to grasp; to attempt to understand the complex quantum mechanics of human consciousness is a daunting task indeed. 

First, we address the multiverse theory. 

For those who aren’t in the know, this theory proposes that the realm of space and time that we exist in right now, or our universe, isn’t a singular body of matter. It states that there simply isn’t one universe, but rather an infinite number of dimensions of existence.

Infinite realities means infinite possibilities – and this is where the process of shifting comes into play. The idea is that through a plethora of different mediums, that allows the user to manipulate their state of mind, you can transfer your consciousness from this reality to the next. 

In truth, the concept of reality shifting existed long before Harry Potter fans discovered it. A document from the CIA – “Analysis and Assessment of the Gateway Process” was written in 1983, but only recently approved for release in the summer of 2003. The report explains the science behind “Gateway training”, a process employed by the U.S. military that was used to improve the cognitive function and other aspects of it’s subjects. It’s author, Wayne M. McDonnell, explains that “Fundamentally, the Gateway Experience is a training system designed to bring enhanced strength, focus and coherence to the amplitude and frequency of brainwave output between the left and right hemispheres so as to alter consciousness, moving it outside the physical sphere so as to ultimately escape even the restrictions of time and space”.

This is a difficult concept to understand without appropriate background knowledge, and before we delve further, it’s important to establish that everything is made of energy and energy fields.

In the report, McDonnell states that “Science now knows that both the electrons which spin in the energy field located around the nucleus of the atom and the nucleus itself are made up of nothing more than oscillating energy grids. Solid matter, in the strict construction of the term, simply does not exist. Rather, atomic structure is composed of oscillating energy grids surrounded by other oscillating energy grids which orbit at extraordinarily high speeds… …The point to be made is that the entire human being, brain, consciousness and all is, like the universe which surrounds [it], nothing more or less than an extraordinarily complex system of energy fields.”

After acknowledging the complex concepts behind human consciousness, and it’s physics, reality shifting may seem like less (even if only slightly) of an enigmatic experience. 

The aforementioned Harry Potter fans, as well as other members of the “shifting community”,  have taken these conceptual ideas and turned them into structured processes, including “the Alice in Wonderland method”, “the Raven method”, the “I Am method”, and many more. 

The I Am method, like most others, has a very specific procedure. An anonymous acquaintance of mine, with adverse shifting experience, describes the step by step process of this method:

“Close your eyes and breathe in and out continuously until your mind is clear and there are no longer distractions. If you prefer, meditate before starting this method. Repeat the phrase ‘I am pure conscious not attached to any reality.’ After a while you might feel your body vibrate and get tingly, (if not that’s totally okay!). You might feel like your brain zoomed off, like it turned off or like it’s expanding. You might feel like you’re floating, like you’re in a void. When that happens repeat affirmations over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. Repeat the affirmations ‘I am in my ideal reality permanently’ over and over until you feel lighter and lighter. You could possibly see images from your desired reality, and when you hear, smell, or feel like you’re there just open your eyes!”

This method relies heavily on the use of affirmations and biofeedback. McDonnell explains this occurrence:

“Biofeedback teaches the left hemisphere first to visualize the desired result and then to recognize the feelings associated with the experience of successful right hemisphere access to the specific lower cerebral, cortex, pain or pleasure or other areas in the manner needed to produce the desired result.” 

This can be heavily utilized for other consciousness altering techniques as well, such as manifestation. It promotes the self-cognitive powers of the left hemisphere in gaining access to areas of the “right brain”, such as the lower cerebral, motor and sensory cortices and assorted pain or pleasure centers. Basically, by convincing their brain that it’s somewhere else, shifters can transfer their consciousness to an altered state or plane of existence. It’s a liminal experience that depends on the will of the individual, and according to “ShiftTok”, you’re in full control. 

It’s all highly relative, and when addressing the conceptuality of the universe itself, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong answers. Scientifically, we may eventually find a concrete answer to what theorists now deem hypothetical, but what better way to find out than experiencing it yourself?

For more information, I recommend reading Wayne M. McDonnell’s analysis mentioned above: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001700210016-5.pdf 

​The crazy weather In Texas

​By: Charles Fragrassi

Image taken from: “Texas A&M Expert Says Upcoming Weather Will Be A Record-Setter.” Texas A&M Today, 17 Feb. 2021, today.tamu.edu/2021/02/12/texas-am-expert-says-upcoming-weather-will-be-a-record-setter/.

Around two weeks ago, the whole entire United States was hit with a pretty crazy snow storm, which sent a majority of Southern states into single digit temperatures. Texas, which as we know, is a historically warm state, was sent into shock during this snowstorm.

Texas is normally a warm state, so this means its houses and buildings don’t have as much insulation as the colder states do, and this led to floods, power outages and residents who could not rely on their home for a heat source. People have even slept in parking garages with their cars running all night just to be able to stay warm.

This storm did a lot more than some minor home inconveniences though. There have been about 35 cold weather related deaths in Texas alone from this storm.

Texas also had 400,000 COVID vaccines scheduled to be delivered, but those had to be halted until the weather was more permissible.

As for the amount of snow they actually got, it varied from half an inch all the way to 10 inches. That may not seem like a lot, because of the fact that we live in Minnesota, but for a state that rarely ever gets into below freezing temperatures, that can be a pretty big deal.

There were also over 100 car crashes, due to slippery roads, in San Antonio alone, along with frozen pipes and frozen water treatment plants leaving many Texans without clean water.

Luckily, this past week, things have started to take a turn for the better, because the temperatures are starting to warm up not only in Texas, but nationwide, so hopefully, for the sake of Texas, we have no more winter storms the rest of the year.

For more information, please visit:

  • “What’s Going On in Texas?” ​slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/02/texas-snow-cold-blackouts-why.html
  • “Deadly Winter Storm Strikes the U.S. What’s Going on?” ​www.deseret.com/u-s-world/2021/2/16/22285356/deadly-winter-storm-texas-northeast-forecast- what-happened

How the Joe Biden administration plans to handle the climate crisis

By: Hayat Osman

Climate change is known as long-term change in weather patterns having a huge range of effects on the Earth’s surface temperature. Since the early 20th Century, changes in the Earth’s climate have been recorded by scientists and have been found to be dangerously increasing.

What researchers found was that certain human activities are leading to irregular temperatures.  NASA points out that fossil fuel burning, which increases the heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, is a main source.

As the effects of climate change continue to worsen, scientists urge our world leaders to take action against climate change. In 2015, under the Obama administration, the U.S. along with 190 other countries formally entered the Paris Agreement Treaty. The goal of the agreement would have reduced the greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2025.

Although Obama signed an executive order confirming the U.S. entering the Paris Agreement, he didn’t submit it for Congressional approval. Later, this allowed the Trump administration to have the U.S. retract the commitment to the treaty.

Now, the U.S. is under a new president: Joe Biden. He has promised to take action against climate change before the effects are irreversible to our planet.

According to President Biden’s website, Biden’s agenda on climate change is to ensure the U.S. achieves net-zero emissions no later than 2050, with the first targets at the end of Biden’s first term in 2025. The Biden administration will take action against fossil fuel companies and other polluters who profit over the harm of our environment and endanger our communities. Biden wants to ensure the safety of communities across the U.S. like Flint Michigan. The Biden climate and environmental justice proposal will make a federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next decade. The goals of the proposal include clean energy and climate innovation research, as well as clean infrastructure and communities.

Biden also promises to recommit the U.S. to the Paris Agreement, and rally allies to meet the threat of climate change.

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Traveling at the speed of light 

By: Grace Helmke

It’s something out of a sci-fi novel. The thought of being able to travel at 670,616,629 miles per hour seems impossible. But is it really? Traversing the cosmos at the speed of light may not be as fictional as we once thought. 

Understanding Einstein’s general theory of relativity

Einstein’s theory of general relativity is essential to this idea of traveling at the speed of light. He stated that gravity was a geometric distortion of spacetime which could not be predicted by Newton’s laws. Einstein defined spacetime as the dimension which time and space shared. It was the formation of a four dimensional continuum which was made up of space and time. It would look something like a piece of fabric. Each planet, star, or mass would make dips in it. Or, they would bend spacetime. 

Relativity in space travel

Scientists have since been looking into light speed travel using various methods. In several projects, spanning all the way from 1950-1980, researchers discussed using nuclear fusion to propel a spacecraft, however they decided it might be best not to launch a nuclear warhead into space. 

However, researchers have begun to follow in the footsteps of science fiction in an attempt to achieve light speed travel. Warp drive was a concept introduced on Star Trek, a television show from the 1960s about a space crew completing missions in the 23rd century. Warp drive essentially distorted the fabric of spacetime, allowing the crew to travel superluminally, or faster than the speed of light.

Einstein’s theories suggest that this is not a totally unheard of thought. In fact, it’s entirely possible. In 1994, a scientist named Miguel Alcubierre discovered what today is known as the Alcubierre Drive. Essentially, his theory was that it’s possible to bend space time in a way that contracts in front of you, and expands behind you, moving you in a forward motion. 

This field of study is still largely unexplored. However, there have been some discoveries in recent years that have significantly contributed to its advancement. Scientists working at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) discovered naturally occurring gravitational waves. It confirmed Einstein’s predictions of relativity and proved that the basis for the warp drive exists in nature. 

There are some problems that come along with this form of travel. It requires negative energy. This is an issue because we have no physical evidence that negative energy is real. At this point in time, it only exists in the laws of physics, and in quantum theory, which states that it’s possible to borrow energy from a vacuum at another location. It’s like borrowing money from a bank.

Another issue is the sheer amount of energy needed. Scientists believe that the total energy required to travel via warp drive would be equivalent to the mass of Jupiter. That is simply not in our capacity at this point in time. The production of that amount of energy will only come from the furthering of science and technology; well into the future. It’s not impossible, it’s just not in line with our current abilities. 

Conclusion 

So, is it possible that humanity may one day travel at the speed of light? Most likely, yes. It is probable that we may one day travel at astonishing speeds. Although we do not currently have the capacity to create the amount of energy needed, scientists are working to change that. We will one day achieve a seemingly fictional feat. One that may change our society forever. 

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