Monday, February 24, 2014

SB 1062: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act”

SB 1062: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act”

Once again, the gay community is under attack. The Republican controlled senate approved a bill on Wednesday, February 19th, that would enable Arizona business owners to deny service to gay people/ couples. As unconstitutional as this bill sounds, it actually has grounds as it is to ensure protection of religious rights, and that homosexuality may violate  these rights.

The republican state Senate Steve Yarbrough, said that these rights “must be protected,” but what about the gay community? If Arizona is serious about passing this measure into law, then it will be bad for businesses. Currently, people in Arizona are protesting against this potential law and urging Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. Brewer however, has not yet made a decision because of the controversy surrounding it. She announced that she will make the decision by next Friday, if she does decide to sign it.
Although it is sometimes inappropriate to compare cultural oppression's, I must say that this situation is reminiscent of the way that African Americans were once treated when the Jim Crow laws were in effect. There was once a time where Blacks were denied service because of the colour of their skin, and the only basis which upheld those laws was the hate filled justification that Blacks were inferior. This law is unethical, in that it sacrifices the rights of one group to “protect” the rights of another.To support hatred based on religion seems ignorant, because the bible preaches about loving thy neighbour. It is disappointing to know that as we attempt to make progress in supporting equality for the gay community, we instead take a huge step backwards.

“The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved.” -Emma Goldman



Have you ever seen plastic containers, canned foods or tableware, marked “BPA free” and wondered what that meant? Many people aren't aware that plastics containing BPA have various health hazards and should be avoided as best possible. 

BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is the chemical used to form polycarbonate plastic. This kind of plastic is in most products that people are in contact with every day. BPA is found in baby bottles, water bottles, storage containers, Cd’s, computers, appliances, and more. The main concern is when BPA makes products that enter into our digestive systems. BPA can eventually leach into the foods or liquids it is in contact with. When plastic is heated in a dishwasher, microwave, or used to store hot foods or liquids, the BPA leaks out 55 times faster than normal. Once BPA leaches into food and the food is consumed, it enters into the person’s digestive tract. Hundreds of experiments have shown BPA to cause permanent harm in lab animals at the low exposure levels found in humans. Some of the risks associated with high intake of BPA include metabolic disorders, birth defects, and neurobehavioral problems.

Infants have a greater exposure to BPA than others because their diet consists largely of infant formula from tin cans, baby bottles, pacifiers, teething rings, etc... Children are especially susceptible to the adverse health effects of BPA, since their undeveloped digestive system metabolize at a slower rate than adults.  

Large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are phasing out products made with BPA. There are many new companies emerging that create BPA free plastics that provide costumers with a healthier choice. Some ways to lower BPA intake are: using glass or stainless steel for storing food, never heat plastics in the microwave or pour hot food into them, avoid canned foods if you can, and buy BPA free products.

Stay Healthy!

Art or Garbage?

On February 19th, a cleaner accidentally threw out a modern art installation by artist Sala Murat, thinking that the expensive art piece was nothing more than a pile of trash. The display, made of newspaper, cardboard, and cookie crumbs, was meant to be part of an exhibition in the southern Italian province of Bari.

Lorenzo Roca, who is the head of Chiarissima—the cleaning company for which the cleaner worked, defended her. He stated that she was “just doing her job,” and that his company’s insurance will be able to cover the costs of the trashed artwork, which was valued to be around 10,000 Euros.

I must admit, I initially laughed when I read this story. But then it opened up some confusing questions for me: What has art become? What is the definition of art today? I find it slightly disappointing that someone can take a bunch of cardboard, a few pages out of a newspaper, and cookie crumbs, strew them across the floor, and call it art. I also questioned why something like this can be worth to much money. Ten thousand Euros is equivalent to $13,744 American dollars, and all for essentially worthless items!

As an artist myself, I always believed art should be something special, higher than the boringness of everyday life. In my opinion, art should transport us to another state of mind, whether the piece is beautiful, shocking, or downright ugly. It should make us question things; pull us out of our reality for a bit. If I took a cardboard box, cut it up, and put it on the floor alongside an old newspaper, I probably wouldn’t feel accomplished as an artist, because I wouldn’t have gained anything from my work and probably my audience wouldn’t gain anything either.  It also would be unlikely that it’s worth is $14,000.

But at the same time, I think it’s good that art can be found in the mundane, too. The Art Deco movement of the 1920s incorporated elegant, luxurious artistic elements into practical items that we see and use every day, like buildings and furniture. I think it’s great when art is used to elevate the commonness of everyday. But is an art installation made of trash the same thing? Needless to say, I am very divided on the subject.
-Sarah Allam


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