Hi, I am the editor for this week’s Sophomores Speak Out. Students have chosen to write about a variety of topics this week about events happening all over the world. We have written about international tragedies like Darfur and Richard McAuliffe has written a response to Eric Fletcher’s piece that appeared on Nov. 16 asking why should we help Darfur. School shootings in Germany, stun guns that kill and the aftermath of a cyclone that swept through Bangladesh are all covered as we considered the state of the world while giving thanks in our own lives. We hope you had a relaxing and fulfilling Thanksgiving and wish you a very happy holiday to come.

— Haley Pierce

Darfur Response

By Richard McAuliffe>

Well, Fletch, I won’t confront you in the hallways but I will via the newspaper. You have some good points about America doing a lot and trying to be World Police, but I have to disagree about Darfur. Right now, the Sudan is going through a present-day Holocaust. The tyrant ruler is ruthlessly murdering his citizens for no reason. The United States has the means and resources to stop this inhumane activity right now. Yes, we have some homeless people and poverty in the United States, and about 10 per cent of the United States is currently in poverty. In the Sudan and Darfur, half of all the people are without food. Many don’t have water; 90 per cent have no shelter or any place to call home and 95 per cent do not have adequate sanitation. As a result, disease spreads like wildfire. Those who try to escape have to run through deserts and plains filled with predators for thousands of miles. Most are shot down by the Janjaweed, horsemen wielding submachine guns. You may not think that the Pop Tarts and blankets do a lot but I am sure that they are greatly appreciated.

We are the richest country on the planet. I see it as our duty to contribute to a country in need because it will do us no harm. We are all here on this earth and we can’t just sit here with a blind eye turned on tragedy of this extent. Thousands of people are being brutally murdered every day for no reason at all. We don’t have to pull a Viet Nam and invade, trying to bring democracy to some developing world country, but sitting here being worried about ourselves while we drive our SUVs, eat fast food and watch high definition television while wearing designer clothes is preposterous. The greed of Americans is appalling and it shows when we don’t want to help those in dire need like the people of Darfur. A popular saying notes that if you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Allowing the situation in Darfur to continue without contributing is making the situation worse. This doesn’t mean we should send over troops, but we should contribute money and send over clothing or do something! Having this on our conscience should be enough to have us help out.

Oil Again?

By Pete Persson>

The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he no longer wants to trade oil for U.S. dollars. This was said at an Opec summit but it was opposed by our ally Saudi Arabia. One reason this was said is because the U.S. dollar is getting weaker compared to other currencies like the euro. The Iranian president said other countries have showed some interest in converting to a different currency. I think this is very bad for the U.S. and we need to do everything we can to keep OPEC with our currency. The Venezuelan president has also threatened that the price of oil could double if the U.S. attacked Iran. Since oil prices are already at record highs this would be bad for the world. So there’s no way we can attack right now without messing lots of things up. I think these are all really dumb political threats and that is what is wrong with the world right now. Leaders need to talk and get along and figure out their issues.

Jail: Good or Bad?

By Jesse Shayne>

The prison population in the U.S. has risen eight-fold since the 1970s. Yes, this does have a big impact on crime. But with such huge costs, is it really a good idea to send so many people to prison? There are more than 1.5 million people in state and federal jails, and inmate numbers are projected to increase by almost 200,000 in five years. It is costing the U.S. $27.5 billion a year to build and run these jails. Why are there so many people in jail? Because of longer and stricter sentences. Recently, a woman in Florida was given a two-year sentence for throwing a cup of coffee at another car in a traffic row. Is that ridiculous or what? With all sorts of crime still on the streets, how can you go and put someone in jail for throwing a cup?

And what about the things celebrities get away with these days. Pac-man Jones, an NFL player, recently got into an altercation at a night club that ended with one of his accomplices shooting a security guard who wound up paralyzed from the waist down. Did Pac Man or anyone else go to jail? Nope. Hopefully in the near future the real criminals will be in jail, not the cup-throwers


Devastating Cyclone

By Olivia Gross>

Last week a vigorous cyclone swept through Bangladesh, leaving 2,300 people dead before the final count. An estimated one million families were affected. Survivors are struggling through the toughest conditions to get back even the simplest necessities. Though relief teams have arrived, there isn’t much they can do because a lot of the aid they deliver must come by boat. Those who are lucky enough to return to their homes are devastated to find them ruined and everything they knew destroyed. The pictures I viewed were disturbing to me. Many people who were lucky enough to flee after the government’s early-warning, which is being credited with saving many lives, are walking around aimlessly with only a sack of belongings. The way these people are handling this situation is notable. I feel that if our Island was devastated in such a way we would sit in mourning for much too long. These people have already begun to rebuild their homes and what’s left of them, and school classes resumed outdoors days ago. The government of Bangladesh is calling this a national calamity, and should be very proud of how respectably their people are dealing with the situation.

The Fight for Ivory

By JOCK Cooperrider>

The fight for ivory has been going on for as long as I can remember. Ivory was high on the market in the late 1970s and 1980s, and now it is making its return. The population of elephants has slowly increased since the European Union banned killing them for ivory in the mid 1980s. But many people still fancy ivory as jewelry or other items and its value has remained high.

In the country of Chad which borders Sudan in Africa, people have gone to great lengths to help preserve the gracious giants. A national park has been established called Zukouma National Park, but it is not very big. At less than 1,200 square miles, every year during the dry season some 3,500 elephants leave the park to find better forage. What they don’t know when they set out looking for food is what danger awaits them. In a region the size of Texas, stretching from southeastern Chad, southern Sudan and Southern Congo, poachers await. Humans were responsible for the death of some 300,000 elephants in the 1970s and since then some 10,000.

Nick Nichols has been to Zakouma National Park twice helping the park guards and leaders find poachers. A helicopter aerial view of the park is done at least twice a day, scouring the land for dead elephants and poachers. “It’s the worst sight I’ve ever seen,” he said, “elephants mutilated, faces completely chopped off.” The increase in poaching is due to the fighting going on in Sudan and Darfur. “They come on horseback, shoot the elephants until death and chop the ivory right off their bodies,” he said. Sudanese fighters known as the Janjaweed are believed to be mostly responsible. Bullets found in the elephants’ bodies show that the poachers use AK-47s and M-126s; they also have been known to poison the water holes in the park.

What is happening to these elephants is shocking; we must do more to save the gentle giants.

School Shooting Prevented in Germany

By Taylor Smith>

Police in the city of Cologne in Germany have foiled a plot to “hunt and kill” several students at a high school in the city. One student, age 17, was questioned and later threw himself under a train. His associate, age 18, was arrested on Friday last. The two were given up by a fellow student who saw them looking at a picture of the Columbine Massacre which occurred in 1999. This isn’t the first time for Germany. Just a year ago, a student injured fellow students and himself in the city of Emsdetten, and in 2002 a student killed 18 others and himself in Erfurt. Nor is it just Germany; in Finland a student killed several students and faculty earlier this month.

Stun Gun Death

By Jordan Gonsalves>

On Oct. 14, the Vancouver International Airport police reported a Polish man named Robert Dziekanski died after he was tazed two times in the back with a stun gun. The police cautioned the man because he had thrown a chair at a glass wall. His lawyer said he panicked after waiting for some time for his mother and threw the chair at the glass window.

When the airport police tried to restrain him, Mr. Dziekanski turned his back on them and picked up a stapler. Police thought the stapler was a gun and attacked him with the tazers. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they reported him dead. When things like this happen, we all wish it didn’t end like that. It’s something we can’t change now, but could it be prevented by using something less dangerous than a stun gun? We should use more of our natural, mental instincts and less of what we have in our hand as protection.