Matt Lauer loses job after sexual harassment accusations

(image courtesy of David Shankbone CC BY 3.0)

TAMPA—“Today” show anchor Matt Lauer joined the constantly-growing list of celebrities ousted from their jobs Nov. 30 after being accused of workplace sexual misconduct.

After NBC fired Lauer, more accusers came forward, just as they did when Harvey Weinstein’s alleged misconduct went public. The online publication Variety published a story about Lauer that reporters said took months to investigate. The article details accounts from multiple women, beyond the first complaint NBC says it received.

Fellow “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie and coworker Hoda Kotb reported Lauer’s firing on-air the morning that news first broke.

CNN noted that this is not the first time women have reported news of a colleague being fired after sexual misconduct allegations. People praised Guthrie’s composure and display of raw emotions.

Others criticized Guthrie and Kotb for not focusing on the women who came forward. Some even accused the cohosts of being aware of the alleged misconduct.

In the days following Lauer’s firing, more women have come forward, and videos have emerged showing Lauer acting inappropriate toward women on the “Today” show.

Lauer released a statement Thursday saying he feels “embarrassed and ashamed,” and is committed to “repairing the damage” he inflicted. He did say that some of the allegations and reporting of his misconduct is “untrue,” but offered no further clarification.

According to multiple news sources, Lauer and his wife, Annette Roque, have lived apart for years. In 2006, Roque filed for divorce, but ultimately did not follow through. The couple has three children together.

While people criticized Lauer for the behavior women accused him of, some defended him. Geraldo Rivera, a well-known reporter, tweeted about the scandal on Wednesday.

He also wrote that women should have to report harassment within a certain time period. Rivera apologized later that day after receiving backlash from people who claimed he victim-shamed Lauer’s accusers and victims of sexual harassment.

Some people think that Rivera’s mindset mirrors that of many people across the United States who do not believe sexual harassment is a serious problem.

Another controversy that arose from Lauer’s firing involved President Trump. Trump’s complicated history with sexually inappropriate remarks is no secret, but some believe he is guilty of more than inappropriate statements. An op-ed in the LA Times asked why Trump has not been held accountable for the sexual assault accusations against him.

Twitter users wondered the same.

Trump himself commented on the accusations about Lauer, but did not mention anything about his history of being accused of sexual misconduct. Instead, he continued to attack media, as he has done several times in the past.

Lauer has not made a statement about any of the individual accusations at this time, and his conduct is still under investigation by NBC. The company will reportedly not pay out the rest of his $20 million dollar per year paycheck.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning and NHL Celebrate Hockey Fights Cancer this October

Hockey Fights Cancer runs throughout the month of November. Photo via Ashley Vedral

During the month of November, the NHL contributes to the fight against cancer with their ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ nights, bringing funding and awareness to the cause.

Each of the 31 NHL teams take pride in participating. The teams choose one home game during the month of November to dedicate to those affected by the disease. The players wear lavender jerseys during warm ups in addition to their own personal touches like lavender stick tape or skate accessories.

The league began this initiative after Former Tampa Bay Lightning forward John Cullen was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1997. Cullen had played in 13 NHL seasons before his diagnosis.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer that develops in white blood cells and can begin in different parts of the body causing a variety of symptoms.

Cullen went through six rounds of radiation and chemotherapy along with a bone marrow transplant that stopped his heart temporarily.

After taking a year off to go through his recovery, Cullen attempted to play in the NHL again during the 1998-99 season, but decided to retire after just four games.

Due to the recent cancer diagnosis of New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle, who played with the Lightning from 2014 to early 2017, the current Lightning players dedicated their Hockey Fights Cancer night to Boyle.

Boyle wasn’t the only recent diagnosis that left the Lightning community solemn. FOX Sports Sun television host Paul Kennedy was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer approximately two weeks ago. Kennedy is in his 12th season as the Lightning’s rink side reporter but is taking a hiatus to deal with his diagnosis and recovery.

Players posed carrying signs saying who they fight for pre-game to show support for those who have been personally affected by the disease. Fans are given ‘I Fight For’ signs upon entry during Hockey Fights Cancer night and encouraged to write down someone they fight for. These pictures are shared throughout the arena and social media, uniting thousands of survivors and supporters.

“I look forward to this night every year,” said Kyrah Joseph, a longtime Lightning fan, “I am pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant at USF and have a personal connection the the subject.”

All around the league, players, staff and fans share their own stories regarding the vicious disease. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson has been very vocal about his brother’s battle against Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a cancer that develops within different blood forming cells and can progress quickly if untreated. A bone-marrow transplant is the most common treatment for this particular cancer.

Gudbranson’s younger brother, Denis was just six years old when he was diagnosed. At the age of 11, Gudbranson had to take on a lot more responsibility than the average 11 year old. He became the third parent in his household having to look after his other younger brother, Alex, and his younger sister, Chantel.

Gudbranson’s brother received a bone-marrow transplant after having been in remission and then having the cancer return just a few months later.

Denis is now a healthy 19 year old attending college at Concordia University in Montreal.

Additionally, NBCSN announcer, former player and Stanley Cup Champion Eddie Olczyk was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this season and is currently receiving treatment.

“In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease,” according to the National Cancer Institute.

The awareness that the NHL and many other professional sports leagues have brought to this cause is one of the many reasons why people like Denis Gudbranson are able to find donors that are willing to help.

The league plans to continue this initiative for as long as it possibly can, hopefully leading to a cure.

 

Differing opinions on climate change

It is no secret that opinions on climate change around the world are all quite different. Countries, political parties, men and women all have differing views. Pew Research Center has conducted multiple studies regarding these differences with the most popular study being the difference between political parties.

Conducted in October 2016 by Cary Funk and Brian Kennedy, The Politics of Climate used several surveys to establish the divide between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans in categories such as trust in professional researchers and the information about climate change that they are producing. The study surveyed 1,534 American adults with a margin of error at four percentage points. In accordance with this study, Democrats have been shown to be more positive about the information presented by scientists, while Republicans are more doubtful. The chart below maps the differences.

PEW Research Center

Along with distrust, the study looks at other factors, listed below.

  • “Seven-in-ten liberal Democrats (70 percent) trust climate scientists a lot to give full and accurate information about the causes of climate change, compared with just 15 percent of conservative Republicans.
  • Some 54 percent of liberal Democrats say climate scientists understand the causes of climate change very well. This compares with only 11 percent among conservative Republicans and 19 percent among moderate/liberal Republicans.
  • Liberal Democrats, more than any other party/ideology group, perceive widespread consensus among climate scientists about the causes of warming. Only 16 percent of conservative Republicans say almost all scientists agree on this, compared with 55 percent of liberal Democrats.
  • The credibility of climate research is also closely tied with Americans’ political views. Some 55 percent of liberal Democrats say climate research reflects the best available evidence most of the time, 39 percent say some of the time. By contrast, 9 percent of conservative Republicans say this occurs most of the time, 54 percent say it occurs some of the time.
  • On the flip side, conservative Republicans are more inclined to say climate research findings are influenced by scientists’ desire to advance their careers (57 percent) or their own political leanings (54 percent) most of the time. Small minorities of liberal Democrats say either influence occurs most of the time (16 percent and 11 percent, respectively).”

The differences between political parties may be large on the above issues, however, most Americans, putting aside party affiliation, believe that climate scientists should have a say in policy decisions regarding climate change.

“69 percent among moderate or liberal Republicans and 48 percent of conservative Republicans say climate scientists should have a major role in policy decisions related to the climate,” Funk and Kennedy said.

A large portion of this study looks at the gap between republicans and democrats over what can be done to lessen the effect humans have on the climate.

  •             “Power plant emission restrictions − 76 percent of liberal Democrats say this can make a big difference, while 29 percent of conservative Republicans say the same, a difference of 47-percentage points.
  • An international agreement to limit carbon emissions − 71 percent of liberal Democrats and 27 percent of conservative Republicans say this can make a big difference, a gap of 44-percentage points.
  • Tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks − 67 percent of liberal Democrats and 27 percent of conservative Republicans say this can make a big difference, a 40-percentage-point divide.
  • Corporate tax incentives to encourage businesses to reduce the “carbon footprint” from their activities − 67 percent of liberal Democrats say this can make a big difference, while 23 percent of conservative Republicans agree for a difference of 44 percentage points.
  • More people driving hybrid and electric vehicles − 56 percent of liberal Democrats say this can make a big difference, while 23 percent of conservative Republicans do, a difference of 33-percentage points.
  • People’s individual efforts to reduce their “carbon footprints” as they go about daily life − 52 percent of liberal Democrats say this can make a big difference compared with 21 percent of conservative Republicans, a difference of 31 percentage points.”
PEW Research Center

Six out of 10 liberal Democrats believe that climate change will directly damage the environment while two in 10 conservative Republicans do not.

Funk and Kennedy also note that “scientific literacy” does not affect either party’s opinions on climate change. The entire study can be found here.

In another Pew Research Center study from 2015 by Jacob Poushter, Canadians are more concerned about climate change than Americans are.

According to a chart in the study, 84 percent of Canadians support limiting greenhouse gas emissions, while 69 percent of Americans support it. 73 percent of Canadians believe that people need to make lifestyle changes to help reduce human effects of climate change while 66 percent of Americans believe this. 56 percent of Canadians believe climate change is currently harming people while 41 percent of Americans believe this. 49 percent of Canadians believe that rich countries should do more to address climate change while 40 percent of Americans believe rich countries should do more. Perhaps the most important statistic in the chart is 51 percent of Canadians believe that climate change is a serious problem while only 45 percent of Americans believe that climate change is a serious problem. The low concern for climate change as a serious issue may prove alarming to some.

Poushter also notes in his study that “[d]espite the greater concern shown by Canadians on global warming, partisan divides on the issue follow a similar pattern in both countries.” The entire study can be found here.

Pew Research Center’s Richard Wike collected a series of data and charts showing the opinions of the world when it comes to climate change. One of the charts states that countries with higher levels of carbon emissions are less concerned with climate change.

In a less alarming chart, “Climate change is not seen as a distant threat. A global median of 51 percent say climate change is already harming people around the world, while another 28 percent believe it will do so in the next few years.” Latin America is the country that sees climate change as the biggest threat with 77 percent of people concerned about it effecting people today. Looking closer, 90 percent of Brazilians feel that climate change is currently harming people on Earth. The entire study can be found here.

In another study at Pew Research Center from December 2015 by Hani Zainulbhai, women are more concerned for climate change personally harming them than men. Women are also noted believing that climate change is a serious problem. In the U.S., women are 17 percent more likely to believe climate change is a serious problem. In Canada, women are 13 percent more likely to be concerned by climate change while in Australia, the gap is 12 percent.

As for climate change being personally harmful, “The gender disparity also occurs in views of personal harm caused by climate change. American women again differ the most from their male counterparts – 69 percent of women are concerned it will harm them personally, while fewer than half of men (48 percent) express this view. Women are more concerned than men in many of the other countries surveyed, including double-digit gender imbalances in Germany (+15 points) and Canada (+14),” Zainulbhai said. The entire study can be found here.

While all of these studies are different, they do hold one similar conclusion. Climate change is not being taken as seriously as it should be.

Local Tampa architect reveals unofficial Ray’s stadium design

The stadium design by Joe Toph includes a bird’s-eye view.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tampa architect has developed an unofficial visual concept for the proposed Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Ybor City.

Joe Toph released his vision for the new stadium on SkyScraperCity.com under the username Bueller. The designs are unofficial and the Ray’s team was not involved in their creation.

“I created these for fun,” Toph said. “I just wanted to get a creative dialogue started on the potential the location has.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan announced Oct. 24 that he found a site for a new baseball stadium. The 14 acre site is bordered by the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, North 15th Street, East 4th Avenue and Channelside Drive.

Locals and officials brought up one of the main issues with the location, which is parking. The lot is large enough for a baseball stadium, but there is concern that there may not be enough room on the proposed site for additional parking to be built.

However, the proximity to Ybor City and Downtown Tampa makes this site easily accessible through public transit. Toph’s plan includes the use of the trolley line, noting that it could also serve as a light rail line in the future. A possible Uber pickup lot and a water taxi marina are also included in the design.

If Toph’s vision does not pan out, and another garage cannot be built on the lot, there are other parking options. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told ABC Action News that the parking garages in Ybor City and in the downtown area are not used every night.

“The key will be to provide the linkages whether it’s a trolley or whatever to connect those garages to the stadium,” Buckhorn said.

The next hurdle for the proposed site will be finding the funding for the project.

“That’s going to be the $800 million question,” Buckhorn said.

The Rays will have to come to the table with a significant financial plan to fund the potential stadium. Mayor Buckhorn doesn’t want another stadium built on taxpayer dollars.

Raymond James Stadium is funded completely by taxpayer dollars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lease to play in the stadium. According to Buckhorn, another stadium funded the same way would leave future generations of mayors and locals with an unpayable debt.

Tampa Bay real estate agent and Palmetto Beach resident, Laura Meyer, is looking forward to the possible development of the new stadium in such close proximity to the neighborhood she has called home for over a decade.

“A stadium in Ybor would have a huge impact on the residential community here,” Meyer said. “It’s the kind of boost the neighborhood could use to really put it on the map as a new up and coming area for Tampa.”

Palmetto Beach sits south of Ybor, west of 22nd Street and tucked on the east side of Desoto Park. Meyer says the area has a lot of potential to be another residential hot spot like Channelside and Hyde Park have become.

However, other locals are not as convinced that a stadium located in Ybor would be good move.

“I don’t know how they are going to fit a stadium onto the lot they are interested in,” Justin Cales, a student at Hillsborough Community College, said. “The traffic would just be terrible, as if it isn’t bad enough already. A stadium over here would be chaos.”

Cales has been attending HCC in Ybor for over a year. The small brick roads have taken time for him to adjust to and the idea of stadium traffic on those streets isn’t comforting.

“Ybor is great the way it is now, I don’t why we’d want to mess up a good thing,” Cales said.

Saint Petersburg votes re-election in mayoral race

 Voters elected incumbent Rick Kriseman to be mayor of St. Petersburg by a slim margin on Tuesday.

According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Kriseman won 51.64 percent of the vote. His opponent, former mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Baker, received 48.36 percent of the vote. Fewer than 2,000 votes separated the two candidates, both of whom have served time as the city’s mayor.

Kriseman campaigned with a platform that supported clean energy and LGBT equality, while openly criticizing President Donald Trump. He also emphasized his commitment to reducing crime and improving infrastructure.

Baker’s campaign also focused on reducing crime and making St. Petersburg more environmentally friendly. His campaign website’s “blueprint” also showed his desire to improve public schools, bring more jobs to the area and revitalize the downtown district.

On paper, both candidates seem to agree on most topics—but they certainly did not act like it. Baker, who was the city’s mayor from 2001 to 2010, repeatedly criticized Kriseman’s administration, blaming it for St. Pete’s “sewage crisis” which was worsened by Hurricane Irma. Kriseman called out Baker for not openly opposing Trump.

While the office is nonpartisan, political parties still play a major role. Kriseman is a Democrat and Baker is a Republican.

A columnist at the Tampa Bay Times advocated for Baker to speak publicly about Trump. For John Romano, the writer of that article, knowing a candidate’s political ideology is crucial when deciding who to vote for, and knowing whether Baker supports one of the most polarizing people in America could have swayed voters.

Kriseman embraced his political affiliation. He received an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, and made national headlines last year with his viral tweet about President Trump.

While people criticized him for the tweet, he ultimately proved that being partisan in an increasingly politically divided nation can be advantageous.

Other Democrats won seats across the United States on Tuesday, leading one Washington Post journalist to label it the “Democratic wave.”

Local politicians congratulated Kriseman after his victory.

Kriseman won despite the fact that the Tampa Bay Times, the most popular local newspaper, endorsed Baker. The Times traditionally recommends Democrats, and some have questioned the newspaper’s motive for recommending Baker.

One local news publication questioned the newspaper’s integrity after discovering that a member of the editorial board wrote the foreword in Baker’s upcoming book.

After Kriseman won the election, he tweeted a thank you to those who supported him, and promised to uphold his campaign promises.

Kriseman is the 53rd mayor of St. Petersburg.

 

Father’s death inspires USF student

via Public Domain

‘Ready, aim, fire’ is a phrase that one USF student is very familiar with.

Clay shooting is one of the many activities that she enjoyed with her father before he died.

Sarah Gimbel, 20, and her dad had a very close relationship. As her parents’ only child she was always spending quality time with them. One of her family’s favorite pastimes was driving their motorcycle. Gimbel’s father was a motorcycle patrol officer for the Tampa Police Department for 20 years. On May 7, 2016 Gimbel’s father, Howard, was killed in a motorcycle accident while enjoying an off-duty ride with her mother, Tonya.

“I was in the driveway when my parents were about to leave for their motorcycle ride,” said Gimbel, “I remember telling him, ‘I will stop talking and let you guys go. I will just talk to you later! I love you!’ just a little later was when I got the call from my cousin.”

This is when her life changed forever. Gimbel shared a special relationship with her parents. She always loved having a police officer as a father. Gimbel and her friends always felt safe when her father was around.

“Sarah and her dad were very close,” said longtime friend Sarah Berry, “She always had the best experiences with him. When she was younger she truly felt that her dad was invincible.”

After the accident not only did she have to stay strong, she had to grow up fast for her mother’s sake. When her mother was in the ICU for over a week Gimbel had to make funeral arrangements for her father and sign the paperwork. She had to do all this on her parent’s behalf.

“Since my mom attended his funeral in a stretcher and by ambulance, I stepped up and gave a eulogy in front of close to 500 -700 people,” said Gimbel, “I became a stronger person because I knew that my dad deserved that. I can say today, a year and a half later, that I would have never been the person I am today without that tragic experience.”

After the outpouring support from the Tampa Police Department and the Tampa community Gimbel wanted to find a way to give back. The idea to create a memorial foundation in her father’s honor was only part of her plan.

“Competitive shooting clays is a sport my dad got me into,” said Gimbel, “We enjoyed shooting monthly tournaments together. When my father passed I was trying to think of something to do in memory of him and that’s when hosting a sporting clay shoot came to mind. It is now the most important thing to me.”

The annual shoot is an event hosted, planned and organized by Gimbel. After her first memorial shoot last year, Gimbel donated the money to a competitive youth sporting clays team for their trip to nationals.

For the other part of her plan, she was able to create a scholarship for a high school senior entering college. Her goal for the foundation is to extend the scholarship program and give more opportunities to students that have parents in law enforcement.

“Sarah is so quick to help others and she never complains,” said Berry, “she really embodies all of her dad’s great qualities. I see his humor, positivity and dedication in her.”

Gimbel also participates in other volunteer events with TPD. The annual Tampa Police Memorial 5k is one of her favorite events. Gimbel says that this is when she truly feels her father’s presence.

“It makes me so proud to be her friend,” said Berry, “I know that her father would be so proud of all her accomplishments and of the woman she has become.”

Lessening the environmental footprint

TradeWinds Island Grand Resort on St. Pete Beach is known for its eco-friendly presence in the community. From reusable hand towels in the restrooms to air-conditioning units that automatically turn off when a patio door is opened, the beach resort lives by the Green Lodging lifestyle.

TradeWinds employee, Jessica Leonard, is taking that to a whole new level. In June, Leonard created the TradeWinds Eco Team (TWEC).

Jessica Leonard helped create the TradeWinds Eco Team geared toward lessening TradeWinds Island Grand Resort’s environmental footprint.photo by Courtney Aurich

Leonard is an internal communications and training coordinator at the resort. She is mainly responsible for the employee culture side of Human Resources. Part of her job includes enrolling employees in the Habitat for Humanity program. She’s in charge of getting TradeWinds employees to volunteer 200 hours building a house for another employee in need. Leonard is also an active volunteer and enjoys making a difference in the community and in the environment

“I value people. I think if somebody else is in need and I have … or if I can provide for myself and someone else can’t, who am I to not help them?” said Leonard.

Leonard often gives her change to war vets begging in the street. She has picked up the tab for a homeless man at local buffet. She finds joy in helping others.

Leonard’s generosity dates back to volunteering at a local animal shelter when she was a teenager

“They always needed your parents to go and it was really hard before 16,” said Leonard. She would push her mom to come with her, just as she pushes people at work at Habitat for Humanity.

Familiar with her inspiring ways, Leonard’s co-worker, Sophie Bajack, proposed the idea of starting a beach cleanup on St. Pete Beach.

“I shut her down right away,” said Leonard. “There’s not enough trash on this beach to make a tangible result. People are going to pick up two straws, and be like, ‘why the hell did I wake up early and come out to this?’ I said no.”

She did like the eco-friendly concept, however, and the idea of helping the environment. From that, the TWEC was born.

The TWEC, as described on the organization’s Facebook page, is an organization that plans to “lessen the footprint they leave on the environment” through education, teamwork and outreach. TWEC attempts this by preserving wildlife and maintaining clean waters.

Leonard and Bajack are the founders of the TWEC with TradeWinds is the sponsor. TradeWinds provides meeting spaces, snacks and merchandise giveaways for the organization and partner, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, donates gloves, safety equipment and cleaning supplies.

“There’s food. You get a free T-shirt that says, ‘Eco Team’ on it. It’s completely free,” said Leonard.

Recently, TWEC adopted its first sea turtle nest which will hatch anywhere from 68-102 eggs. They have also created their own beach cleanup that takes place twice a month.

The first beach cleanup was June 8.

“We picked up 68.9 pounds,” said Jessica. “We had like 25 garbage bags full. It was horrifying.”

Since then, TWEC has hosted beach cleanups every second Tuesday and fourth Saturday of the month. Pickups take place from 8-11 a.m. Volunteers begin at the TradeWinds Island Grand property and end at Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. Volunteers are as young as 7 years old and any employee or community member can attend.

“Last cleanup, we found a fire extinguisher, a knife, and a rolled-up dollar bill for — it was definitely a drug-related paraphernalia. You find a lot of condoms and just weird stuff,” said Leonard.

Eco team member, Victor Cifuentes, 28, believes in “lessening footprints” on and off the beach. At the bar where he works, he cuts six-pack rings before throwing them into the trash. Cifuentes worries the plastic rings will eventually end up on the beach and hurt sea life.

“You got to respect where you live,” said Cifuentes.

 

US needs stricter rules for sand mining

 

The Earth is running low on sand and gravel. Photo courtesy of Ashley Vedral

Sand and gravel are mined all over the world and used to create concrete for the structures and streets humans take advantage of every day. Manufacturing concrete is not the only thing sand and gravel are mined for and because of the continuously rising demand for sand, the world is beginning to run out.

An article by David Owen for The New Yorker states a beach volleyball tournament held in Toronto imported 35 semitruck loads of sand. In addition to the reporters eyewitness account, he also cites a study done in March 2014 by the U.N. Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Global Environmental Alert Service regarding the fact that Earth is losing sand faster than the environment can naturally produce more.

“Globally, between 47 and 59 billion tons of material is mined every year, of which sand and gravel … account for both the largest share (from 68-85 percent) and the fastest extraction increase,” the UNEP study said. “Surprisingly, although more sand and gravel are mined than any other material, reliable data on their extraction in certain developed countries are available only for recent years. The absence of global data on aggregates mining makes environmental assessment very difficult and has contributed to the lack of awareness about this issue.”

The world’s demand for sand and gravel in construction projects is rising as humans construct roads and buildings while working to replenishing shorelines. Alone, China constructed approximately 90,968 miles of roadways in 2013.

“[C]ement demand by China has increased exponentially by 437.5 percent in 20 years, while use in the rest of the world increased by 59.8 percent. Each Chinese citizen is currently using 6.6 times more cement than a U.S. citizen,” the UNEP study said.

The study goes on to note that sand, once mined and extracted from land quarries, riverbeds and streams is now mined and extracted from the ocean and coastlands. Resources from inland areas are declining due to the over mining.

However, sand is still extracted from these areas. This is due in part to the lack of legislation regarding mining of sand and gravel. What follows is an excerpt from ThreeIssues.sdsu.edu which states U.S. law.

“Sandmining from streambeds in the U.S. is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 33, Chapter 26, Subchapter IV, Section 1344: Permits for dredged or fill material),” it said. “Under this legislation, the government is authorized to deny or restrict the specification of any defined area as a disposal site, whenever it is determined, after notice and opportunity for public hearings, that the discharge of dredged or fill materials into such area will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas.”

The entirety of the law can be found here. The law shows that the U.S. is able to issue permits, however, there is no definite law stating punishment for over mining or making any areas illegal to mine from.

Another reason sand is still extracted from areas that are beginning to run low is that certain projects require specific types of sand and gravel.

“For concrete, in-stream gravel requires less processing and produces high-quality material, while marine aggregate needs to be thoroughly washed to remove salt,” the UNEP study said. “If the sodium is not removed from marine aggregate, a structure built with it might collapse after few decades due to corrosion of its metal structures. Most sand from deserts cannot be used for concrete and land reclaiming, as the wind erosion process forms round grains that do not bind well.”

If more strict laws are not put in place around the world, it is possible the Earth could run out of sand in the future. UNEP suggests that a lack of monitoring and regulating leads to over mining and a great deal of damage to the environment.

Over mining of sand and gravel is also drastically affecting marine life.

“The mining of aggregates in rivers has led to severe damage to river basins, including pollution and changes in levels of pH,” the UNEP study said. “Removing sediment from rivers causes the river to cut its channel through the bed of the valley floor (or channel incision) both upstream and downstream of the extraction site. This leads to coarsening of bed material and lateral channel instability. It can change the riverbed itself.”

Although this issue is one that is not widely known, it is staring to garner attention as popular news sites report on it.

The New Yorker

New York Post

Smithsonian

NPR

New York Times

Tom Scott via YouTube

The entirety of the  UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service’s study can be found here.

Jazzy Rowe: another example of college hate crimes

On Oct. 30, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe posted a video on her Facebook page detailing what she endured from her dorm roommate since the beginning of this fall semester.

Video from Jazzy Rowe’s Facebook page

“After 1 ½ months of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons on her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine, and so much more, I can finally say goodbye to Jamaican Barbie,” Rowe read from an Instagram post by Brianna Brochu, her former roommate.

Rowe first became uneasy in her living situation when Brochu was hostile and made Rowe feel unwelcome. When Rowe began experiencing health issues, one being extreme throat pain, she was forced to see a doctor.

In her Facebook video, Rowe explains she was put on antibiotics while waiting for test results. “I didn’t want to go through another sleepless night with such extreme pain,” said Rowe.

Brochu was arrested Saturday, Oct. 28, after her Instagram post was brought to the attention of local officials. According to an article in the New York Post, she was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace. 

Brochu has also been expelled from the University of Hartford. Although, this institution has condemned the acts of Brochu, this incident is just one of the many incidents of hate crimes on college campuses today.

The violence against Rowe and her belongings seems like a parallel to the prejudices of America’s past, but studies show that these issues are alive and well today.

In a 2016 study entitled Ten Days After by the Southern Poverty Law Center, incidents of hate and discrimination immediately following the election of Donald Trump as president were detailed.

The Southern Poverty Law Center summarizes the data collection as followed: “The 867 hate incidents described here come from two sources — submissions to the #ReportHate page on the SPLC website and media accounts. Incidents were limited to real-world events; the count doesn’t include instances of online harassment. We have excluded incidents that authorities have determined to be hoaxes; however, it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.”

The study continues by stating 23 percent of the reported incidents were racially charged and targeted people of color. The incidents were reported as “racial slurs, whether in graffiti or face-to-face harassment,” as stated in Ten Days After. References to lynching were also highly reported in this study.

In a 2015 report by Florida’s Attorney General, Pat Bondi, entitled Hate Crimes in Florida“Hate crimes motivated by the victim’s race/color represented 55.9 percent of all reported hate crimes.”

Graph by Kylie Buklad. Data via “Hate Crimes in Florida (2015)”

Although, the graph shows the actual number of incidents definitely decreases over the years, the percent of racially charged hate crimes continues to constitute about half of all the hate crimes reported.

Table via “Hate Crimes in Florida (2015)”

Race is a constant factor and heavy motivator for the reported instances of discrimination and bigotry, at least in the state of Florida. According to a WUSF article, “Heidi Beirich with the Southern Poverty Law Center says hate crimes have always been grossly under counted.”

The first sentenced of the 2012 Hate Crime Victimization by the Bureau of Justice Statistics states there were almost 300,000 incidents of nonfatal incidents of hate crimes in 2012. Meanwhile, the FBI’s 2012 report puts the number of incidents at less than 7,000.

By not having an accurate representation of actual incidents of hate crimes, the voices of victimize minorities are, therefore, being silenced.

Ten Days After mentions instances of racially motivated occurrences on college campuses such as “‘Noose Tying 101’ was written on a whiteboard at San Francisco State University, and a black doll was found hanging from a noose in an elevator at New York’s Canisius College.”

The USF Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Equal Opportunity (DIEO) lists protected people as well as behaviors categorized as harassment, that are prohibited.

One of the prohibited behaviors is defined by DIEO as “Singling out or targeting an individual for different or adverse treatment with improper consideration of the individual’s race, color, marital status, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or veteran status.”

USF also allows plaintiffs to file internal complaints or to report cases to local authorities. The office also provides outside resources to students who may be facing discrimination or violence for filing external complaints.

External offices for filing harassment cases via DIEO at USF

Two days after last years election, USF faced its own incident of a hate crime in the form of racial slurs graffitied on the wall of a resident hall.

Judy Genshaft, USF president, sent out a communication to students regarding the situation vaguely. The purpose of the email was to inspire students to stick together and promote diversity, inclusion, and tolerance during a very divisive time following a chaotic election.

“Whether or not you agreed with the outcome, the University of South Florida System remains a special place where respectful expression of one’s beliefs is encouraged. Public universities, and particularly USF, play an integral role in moving our nation forward as a united – yet diverse – community,” wrote Genshaft.

Although, USFPD did not technically consider the incident a crime– as no permanent damage was done to property– the University still promptly reached out to students to ensure that acts of bigotry would not go unnoticed.

Hate crimes and bigotry may seem to still underline much of American life today as it did throughout our country’s history, but there is hope in solidarity.

After Rowe’s story began to go viral, people all over the country and world felt outraged at the atrocities Rowe had to face. A hashtag in her honor began to trend– #JusticeForJazzy.

Tweet by Sharine Taylor (@shharine)

People on the internet have begun to use its power of contentedness to share information about abusers and harassers in order to find justice for victims.

An overflowing of support for Rowe via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram has lead to a reversal of traditional racial inequalities in media coverage (i.e. using mugshots as the only representation of a African American subject, even if that subject is the victim).

Tweet by SpikedCider (@mellanieortiz)

It is undeniable that progress has been made to combat hate crimes and discrimination, and this progress will continue. Although, we may have a long way to go as a society, Rowe’s story should be seen as a tragedy that can lead to positive change.

With an impending trial, there is hope that Brochu will pay for her crimes, and Jazzy will see justice served. With her brave effort to share her story, and the quick actions of the university to denounce Brochu.

If you feel you have been targeted or victimized on campus, it is important to reach out. The DIEO has provided information for students and faculty for properly addressing and filing complaints.

Hobby turns into online shop, honoring autistic son

TAMPA —  Amanda Richards, owner of online shop Absolutely Adrian, and her husband Logan, craft toys that serve a very big purpose – honoring their son, Adrian, who was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of three.

“I’ve always been kind of weird and creative,” said Richards.

Her love for all things unique and exciting grew when her family did. Richards said she found her ‘crafty partner for life’ when she met her husband, who is also diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Despite Logan’s degrees in biomedical engineering and nuclear chemistry, he chooses to create.

Amanda and Logan’s hobby turned into a passion when their son was brought into the world. Richards describes her son Adrian as, ‘perfectly different.’

Richards, who previously worked in the restaurant industry as a manager, needed to find a job where she could stay home and tend to Adrian more effectively. That is when they put their craft to good use. The idea for creating the toys featured on Richards’ Etsy shop originated as a way to help her son.

“It started out with making toys and items for children on the autism spectrum and then into other things we love and enjoy doing in our downtime from all of Adrian’s therapy and school needs,” Richards said.

Adrian, now nine years old, is nonverbal.

“No words does not mean he doesn’t have anything to say,” Richards said. “That sweet boy always finds a way to communicate with us. A real gem, he is our greatest treasure.”

One of the ways Adrian communicates is through magnetic letters. He sorts through letters to form different words, even some that Richards does not recall teaching him.

Adrian also works on his communication in occupational therapy. He learns how to type words to cause actions, such as typing, ‘yes mint’ on the computer to show that he would indeed like a mint. Adrian continues to expand his communication skills by learning to use picture exchange and sign some words like ‘more’ and ‘please.’

In a 2016 press release, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that an estimated 1 in 68 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Richards’ and her family have worked hard to adapt their world to the adventure life threw at them.

Absolutely Adrian contains a range of items including jewelry, toy wands and autism sensory stones. Prices on the items range from five to fifty dollars.

Courtesy of the Absolutely Adrian store page on www.etsy.com.

One of the items that Richards believes is particularly helpful for Adrian is the sensory stones. They are small stones, in many different shapes such as dinosaurs and cars, that light up through sunlight and stay illuminated for up to ten hours.

“Adrian was scared of the dark and the idea of putting him to bed with a battery operated toy made us incredibly nervous as he is sensory seeking and will eat nonfood items if given the chance,” Richards said. “We create and morph a lot of our ideas together to make these nifty pieces.”

Richards and her husband do their best to allow their passion and love to reflect on everything they craft for their shop. Finding a way to work while also being able to adequately care for Adrian was everything Richards needed in her life.

“Adrian has taught us to slow down in life,” Richards said. “To be appreciative of every small thing and simply have fun and we do all the time.”

Little League children taught to succeed off field

Bianco Berry (left) and his daughter, London. Photo by Katie Ebner

The vice president of Progress Village Little League teaches children more about life than baseball in hopes of inspiring a misunderstood community.

Progress Village was created less than 60 years ago—before the height of the civil rights movement—to give black people an affordable community to call home. Only a railroad track separated it from the Klu Klux Klan, who terrorized members of the new community.

Progress Village changed a lot over the years, but it still fights a bad reputation from its drug problems and murders that seem to be the only reasons the community makes the news.

Little League Vice President Bianco Berry, however, sees Progress Village differently than outsiders. Though he did not grow up there, the tight-knit community enjoys a rich storytelling culture, which is how he learned about its history.

“Just to hear the old stories is really, it’s almost like, you growing up, you wasn’t always here, but you always feel like you was always involved in the community,” said Berry.

Berry started volunteering with the Little League when he moved to Tampa in 2006. His passion for giving back to the community and being a positive influence for his children and the children he coaches earned him a spot on the Little League board, and eventually the title as vice president.

During his stint as vice president he coached both of his children, and even coached his daughter’s softball team when it won the district championship two years ago. His daughter, London, 11, cherishes her relationship with her dad for more than what they have accomplished on the field together.

“Many people don’t have a dad that can just tell them that, ‘oh you’re amazing, you’re worth it in life,’ so I just feel like respected that like I have someone that is there for me that can tell me that,” said London.

She credits the Little League for playing a big role in teaching children like her valuable life lessons.

“I think that kids can develop great leadership because Progress Village, we hold a lot of like activities for the children to do, just to get involved more, and also it gives the kids like new opportunities to learn something new, and to experience things off of others,” said London.

His primary focus is not winning games. It’s helping children learn how to achieve great things beyond Little League Baseball.

“We’re trying to teach you the game, trying to teach you the fundamentals, trying to teach you this is how life is,” said Berry.

As one of the league’s leaders, Berry wants players to recognize the importance of working together.

“We try to give you the tools that’s not necessary to succeed in sport but to succeed in life as well,” said Berry. “This has to be like a team organization. You got to have teamwork when you go to your job, you got to have a team, got to be able to rely on others, you try to teach them it’s not always about ‘me me me.'”

He also emphasizes the importance of giving at-risk children a positive atmosphere to learn and grow, instead of falling into bad habits.

“[We] try to teach them to be respectful of everyone, and just try to provide a safe and fun environment for them to come out and do stuff, and not have to be always in the streets, always doing something negative,” said Berry. “Try to turn something negative, and try to make them keep, keep a positive attitude.”

Bianco and London spoke to WUSF as part of its “Telling Tampa Bay Stories” radio series. Photo by Katie Ebner

Berry teaches his own children these same values. On every family vacation, he and his wife take their children to different universities wherever they visit to show their kids what they can achieve if they continue to work hard and be positive influences on others. These trips gave his daughter a new perspective, and inspired her to make a difference in others’ lives.

” … Until like a few years ago I didn’t really realize that most people don’t exactly get like I have,” said London. “[I’m] able to do stuff in life, [and] not always [be] one of those people who’s always down. I can always stay positive.”

According to Berry, both of his children exemplify the values he tries to teach Little League players, and he could not be more proud of them. His daughter talks about how she stands up for kids who get bullied at school, and how she is involved with Sisters Network—an organization that raises awareness for African-American women impacted by breast cancer. One day, she wants to be a doctor or professional athlete.

“I mean, she’s a pleasure,” said Berry about his daughter. “Both my kids are, so I’m just happy trying to do the right thing by them, make sure they can be productive citizens in life.”

Renowned journalist condemns ‘alt-right’ speech at University of Florida

Ralph Lowenstein speaks to USF students and staff. Photo by Justin Garcia.

TAMPA-  USF students were visited by a widely respected journalism professor on Tuesday, Nov. 21st, who spoke on the issue of white nationalism and a recent controversial speech in Gainesville.

Retired University of Florida (UF) Dean Emeritus Dr. Ralph Lowenstein spoke to a room full of students and teachers at USF.  He spoke in-depth about white nationalists, in particular Richard Spencer, leader of the ‘alt-right’ movement.

“He [Spencer] believes in ethnic cleansing,” Lowenstein said.  “He doesn’t go much further than that.”

Lowenstein explained that Spencer won the right to speak at UF on October 19th because of free speech under the First Amendment.

“Those of you who are journalism students know that there are lots of exceptions to the First Amendment,” Lowenstein said.  “ You can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre.  You can’t engage in hate speech that will set people off to do damage to people.”

In August of this year, Spencer co-organized the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Va. which became violent.  Many were injured and Heather Heyer, who was there to protest the alt-right, was killed when a man drove his vehicle into the crowd of protestors.

Spencer and his legal team feel that their speech is defended under the First Amendment.  Gary Edinger is Spencer’s attorney who defended his right to speak at UF.

“This was no doubt a sensitive and difficult issue for the University of Florida,” Edinger said.  “But all citizens should be pleased that the First Amendment was ultimately respected.”

Spencer says that his ideas are controversial because they are powerful.  He claims that it is not the alt-right who are violent, but the groups who oppose them.  He says this frees him from the possibility of his speech being censored due to the threat of violence from the alt-right.

“This is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to free speech,” Spencer said.  “If you can’t protect the free speech of a controversial speaker then you don’t really believe in free speech.”

Protesters demonstrate outside of Spencer speech. Photo by Justin Garcia.

UF students and others who oppose Spencer interrupted his speech inside the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts with chants such as, “Say it loud, say it clear: Nazis are not welcome here.” Outside of the speech, over 2,500 protesters against Spencer demonstrated around the Phillips Center.  The protests were mainly peaceful, except for a shooting which occurred near the event.

Lowenstein described the shooting, “Students who were demonstrating went to an intersection  near the Phillips auditorium,” Lowenstein said. “Three of these alt-right people… approached them at a bus stop.  One of them pulled a gun and fired the gun, thank heaven it missed and it [the bullet] went into a nearby building.”

One of the victims who was fired upon remembered the license plate of the vehicle the men were in and gave it to the police, who stopped them on the interstate. The three men, Tyler Tenbrink, Colton Fears and William Fears were accused of attempted homicide and are being held at Alachua County Jail.

Richard Spencer and the alt-right have yet to release a statement on the shooting.

Lowenstein made it clear during his discussion with students at USF that speakers such as Spencer should be resisted at colleges not only for the sake of the integrity of the university, but also to protect the well-being of those exposed to members of the alt-right.

“I feel that the University of Florida acted improperly,” Lowenstein said. “They actually turned down this man because of the threat of violence.   Then when their attorney threatened to file suit against them, they caved in completely, instead of taking it up to a federal court, at least for the benefit of the students and faculty.”

Here’s what you need to know about Betsy DeVos’ changes to Title IX

Over the summer, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos kicked off her plans to replace Obama-era Title IX.

Before enacting any changes, DeVos met with victims, victim advocates and accused assaulters in an attempt to see all sides of the argument.

Title IX has been a crucial component in protecting students against discrimination. According to an article by Jeannie Suk Gersen in the New Yorker, sexual assault is not explicitly stated as protected, but is interpreted by the courts today as a form of sexual discrimination.

DeVos has spoken out about the need to protect the accused, although, victim advocates say this narrative gives way to rape culture and the silencing of victims.

In an article for CNNAnnie Clark, the executive director for End Rape on Campus, stated, “We will not accept this blatant favoritism for the rights of rapists under the guise of fairness.”

In the 2011 Dear Colleague letter put out by the Office of Civil Rights under President Obama, schools were required to use a different levels of the Burden of Proof while investigating sexual assault cases.

There are 3 levels for Burden of Proof: Beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing, and preponderance of evidence. The letter stated that the schools were now required to use the lowest burden, preponderance of evidence.

Prior to this, schools were using the standard of clear and convincing evidence. According to law.com, preponderance of evidence is not based on the amount of evidence present, but the more convincing evidence that is present.

Gersen stated that some felt that this more lenient burden of proof allowed for unfair trials against the accused; victims rights advocates believe that this rhetoric of protecting abusers silences victims.

One of the downfalls of the Obama Era Title IX is it was implemented through the Dear Colleague letter. Many schools felt pressured into changing their policies and procedures after the release of the letter. Schools are required to stay in line with implemented standards in order to continue receiving federal funds.

Not only did the letter and its requirements come as a surprise to university officials, it is also easily overturned with the release of a new letter. On Sept. 25, 2017, the Office of Civil Rights released a new letter rescinding that of the Obama Administration.

In this letter, it is stated schools should no longer rely on the regulations of the 2011 Dear Colleague letter, and that the department would further be relying on standards from Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance from 2001 and the Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Harassment issued Jan. 25, 2006.

It is unclear how rolling back on these protections of victims will explicitly affect college campuses. 

At USF, the Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Equal Opportunity houses the Title IX Coordinators for our campus. Unfortunately, they would not comment on changes made by DeVos,or what changes USF students should expect on campus.

In a speech to students, DeVos stated, “One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many.

After months of attacks on minority and previously protected groups by the administration there is hesitation and backlash against DeVo’s decision.

Walt Disney World Resort’s NBA Experience’s latest update

Preview poster for The NBA Experience. Photo by: Tea Piro

As of Oct. 19, the Walt Disney World Resort has given guests an updated first look into a sports themed experience coming to their main shopping and dining destination, Disney Springs.

In June of 2015, the editorial content director for Disney Parks, Thomas Smith published an article on the Disney Parks Blog, announcing The Walt Disney Co.’s collaboration with the National Basketball Association to create The NBA Experience. The announcement came just before the 2015 NBA Finals, which brought in an American audience average of roughly 20 million.

“We’re excited to join The NBA in offering this unique form of family entertainment,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “It will be a terrific addition to the world-class lineup of shops and restaurants coming to Disney Springs.”

The Oct. 19 announcement featured concept art for what will be the facade of The NBA Experience. The statement referenced the architectural design of modern basketball arenas across the U.S. as contributing factors to the design choice.

While detailed design ideas have yet to be released for the interior of the space, the venue is set to include shopping experiences, games with competitive features, a connected dining location and other interactive aspects.

“This one-of-a-kind experience is sure to be enjoyed by basketball and Disney fans of all ages who visit Disney Springs from around the world, ” said Sal LaRocca, NBA President of Global Partnerships.

On March 14, 2013, Tom Staggs, Chief Operation Officer for The Walt Disney Company, announced the transition of the resort’s shopping center, Downtown Disney, into what is now Disney Springs. The three year expansion resulted in the shopping center almost doubling in size.

The NBA Experience will be replacing DisneyQuest, an indoor interactive theme park that opened at The Walt Disney World Resort in 1998. DisneyQuest featured an array of video games that highlighted attractions found in the Disney parks as a way for guests to enjoy key elements without directly visiting one of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks.

In June of 2015, it was announced that DisneyQuest would close its doors the following year to make way for The NBA Experience. However, DisneyQuest did not officially close until July of 2017.

DisneyQuest demolition site as of November 3, 2017. Photo by: Tea Piro
DisneyQuest demolition space as of November 3, 2017. Photo by: Tea Piro

DisneyQuest was known for its old-school atmosphere, featuring pinball machines and other arcade-style games. While this aspect brought feelings of nostalgia to some guests, others viewed the indoor theme park as outdated. However, Walt Disney World Resort cast members noticed an influx of guests returning to DisneyQuest prior to its closure.

“People know that it’s coming to a close,” said Steve Ruffman, the General Manager of Disney Springs’ West Side and The Landing, to the Orlando Sentinel in June of 2017. “There are Disney gamers, there are Disneyphiles and there are people who are just excited that this has been part of their annual visit to Disney World. It’s now ‘a must-do’ when it was ‘a may-have-been’ a year ago.”

The NBA Experience is coming to The Walt Disney World Resort following the closure of NBA City at Orlando’s Universal CityWalk. NBA City, the themed restaurant that included NBA memorabilia, closed in August of 2015.

“Earlier this year, we decided not to renew the lease for NBA City so we could create an exciting, new concept for that space,” said Universal spokesman Tom Schroder to the Orlando Sentinel.

The NBA Experience’s new location to Disney Springs will add a significant space increase to the basketball themed restaurant. The location of CityWalk’s former NBA City restaurant, now The Toothsome Chocolate Factory & Savory Feast Emporium, offered 17,500 square feet; however, the new location at the DisneyQuest space offers 100,000 square feet.

Although the opening date for summer 2019 has officially been announced, Walt Disney World Resort guests have been voicing differing opinions in the comment sections of the Disney Parks Blog regarding a NBA themed experience at Disney Springs.

Business major hits the ground running

 

David Zhou, Photo by Emily Munger

Arriving to his photoshoot with camera in hand, playing a catchy pop song on his phone and slicking back his hair, David Zhou is ready to make a new portfolio for his website.

Zhou, 20, helped co-found a premium fitness apparel company named Alpha Pack Fitness and does photography and videography for paying clients. He is also senior majoring in business at the University of South Florida.

Zhou’s eyes beamed when he remembered the reason why he wanted to help start Alpha Pack Fitness.

“We wanted to create a brand that had real meaning behind it,” Zhou said. “Something a community could come together for but also create clothing that was technologically superior but affordable.”

The Alpha Pack Fitness community is one Zhou said he has never seen before in other businesses.  Alpha Pack Fitness sells clothing, but they are also a social media tool for motivating people, according to the website.

“The Alpha Pack Fitness community is a group of friends turned family who encourage me to stay healthy and positive,” Annette Rumas, an Alpha Pack Fitness customer said.

Co-founding a business at 18 years old was not the only task Zhou was completing. He said he also had an interest in YouTube, and would watch video bloggers share their lives with communities they had never met. So, Zhou began to bring his camera on every car ride, family gathering and even his prom.

“I will never forget shooting my first video for a client,” Zhou said. “Seeing how their lips just curled all the way up into a huge smile from my video was priceless.”

Zhou learned his craft by watching tutorials on YouTube. He began to make his own photography business after realizing it was a service people needed. He decided it would be a way to gain experience while bringing people quality products.

“I ended up compensating myself,” Zhou said. “I invested most of the profits back into better equipment, so I can keep producing higher quality photos.”

Today, Zhou is a contact for many USF organizations. He said that he records events such as sorority bid day, formal and recruitment videos. With a large student body looking for his services, Zhou said he is kept busy.

At the end of the academic year, Zhou said he was shooting graduation photos for more than 10 clients a day.

Zhou said that he is helping the world become slightly better, one business deal at a time.  He is also thankful to his parents, who have put faith in him.

“I believe that I have made any sacrifice my parents had to make worth it,” said Zhou. “Everything I have done is in thanks to them.”

Women’s March organizers speak to students about activism

Women’s March discussion at USF speakers and organizers. Photo by Faisal Latif.

Jan. 20, 2017, marked Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States. And thus, a movement was ignited.

On Jan. 21, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, marched on Washington in protest of Trump’s election and the issues he ran on. Spinoff marches took place in many cities around the country and the globe, making the Women’s March the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.

On Wednesday evening, three of the Women’s March organizers spoke with students at the University of South Florida on activism and other issues in an event hosted by USF Divest.

In attendance at the event were Women’s March Co-President Tamika Mallory, Treasurer Carmen Perez and Assistant Treasurer Linda Sarsour.

Mallory is a social justice activist, as well as a leader in a community-based effort to end gun violence in New York City. Her past work includes collaborating with the Obama administration as an advocate for civil rights issues.

Perez is a Latina woman who has spent the past two decades advocating for civil rights issues, highlighting the violence and mass incarceration crisis in America in an effort to solve them. She also served as executive director of the Gathering for Justice, travelling the world to find alternatives to incarceration.

Sarsour is an activist for racial justice and civil rights. She is an outspoken individual who seeks to educate people on intersectional activism. Sarsour prides herself as an unapologetic Palestinian-American Muslim.

The panel also consisted of local activist and USF alumnus Ahmad Saadaldin as well as journalist Ali Al-Arian, who served as the mediator of the discussion.

Saadaldin is a filmmaker, organizer and small-business owner. Saadaldin founded Peace House University and regularly speaks to high school students about the importance of activism. He is currently running in the Florida District 58 Special Election for State House.

Al-Arian is an award-winning journalist with Al Jazeera English. He was part of the team that launched Palestine Remix, which used interactive tools to tell the story of Palestine. His latest project is a documentary about the boycott, divest and sanctions movement against Israel.

The panelists spoke about the importance of intersectional activism, getting involved and how they organized the Women’s March.

Mallory acknowledged that the Women’s March wasn’t always an intersectional movement. In the beginning stages of its organization, Mallory said, it was very problematic. The original name of the protest, “The Million Women March,” was the name of a protest march organized by black women in 1997. The organizers called Mallory and Perez, looking to include women of color in their planning process in order to rectify such knowledge gaps. The ladies weren’t going to take that offer at face value.

“We immediately said from the beginning that we’re not going to plan a march, we’re not event planners,” said Mallory. “If we’re going to come and meet with you, it was about us being in leadership and helping shape the agenda of the march.”

She decided that she would help them make it intersectional and bring her voice to the table.

“There was no table [for us]. We actually built the table, we stood on the top of the table and made sure that the agenda represented all of women’s issues.”

In an effort to make sure all women and their issues were included in the march, they reached out to multiple individuals who were all experts in their separate fields and asked them to come together to form a list of what they were working on. These points of unity helped to generate a policy platform for the Women’s March.

“It was the most radical policy platform in the history of any march,” she said. “For us, it was making sure that people felt included in the process,” said Perez, adding that although there was a lot of criticism “at the end of the day, a lot of people felt that they saw themselves in this march and that was what we were trying to accomplish.”

Perez also insisted that the march wasn’t targeting Trump alone.

“Trump is only one of the symptoms of what’s happening at a larger scale in this country,” said Perez. “We were fighting systemic racism and oppression.”

Sarsour expressed her surprise at the amount of people who showed up. Having planned for a quarter of a million people, they were not expecting hundreds of thousands of people to show up in Washington. She also was taken aback by the magnitude of the march, in terms of how many spin-off marches resulted around the country and even around the world.

“We are so grateful to look back at that day and know that people stood up in every corner of the country, for women’s rights, for equality and for justice,” said Sarsour.

The women proceeded to explain to the students the importance of activism and the importance of supporting the identities of other people.

Saadaldin, who was instrumental in the divestment movement on campus, discussed how the movement was an intersectional movement.

USF Divest is a diverse coalition made up of students, faculty, and staff on campus with the purpose of raising awareness of USF’s investment policy. They have collected over 10,000 signatures of support in one year.

The peak of their efforts was this past spring, when 89 percent of those  who participated in the student body election voted in favor of USF creating a group to oversee the investments of the university. The group is currently in the process of establishing a large student membership on campus.

Although divest originally was founded on Palestinian rights, the leaders realized that their issues were systemic and took shape in different forms in other communities.

“We decided to expand our movement and invite people to join us, calling for private prison divestment and fossil fuel divestment,” said Saadaldin.

Mallory also explained that intersectionality doesn’t mean the tokenization of other identities for the purpose of diversity.

“It’s not transactional,” Mallory said, describing it as being able to look at an issue and caring about it even though it doesn’t directly affect your community.

Panel speaks on activism at the Women’s March event, hosted by USF Divest.

“Intersectionality looks like you being able to step outside of yourself and say, ‘This may not necessarily impact me…but it impacts us as a greater community and if you aren’t free…how can I be free?’ ” Mallory said.

Sarsour elaborated on Mallory’s point about the non-transactional aspect of intersectionality. She doesn’t ask organizations if they support her causes before she decided to work with them and care about their cause, rather she shows up and gives her support.

“This is how solidarity works,” said Sarsour. “You don’t come into a space and impose your issue on other people. You don’t come into a space and be upset because somebody doesn’t want to talk about your issue. The first question people are going to ask is you is, ‘where have you been? What have you done for our community?’”

Sarsour also encouraged people to realize their own privilege when working with an organization.

“Intersectionality also means the intersections of oppression,” she said. “When people who have been at the receiving end of oppression [are talking], you need to listen to their pain and frustration and not take it personally.”

Following the panel’s discussion, there was a Q&A in which attendees lined up to ask questions. The questions were diverse and covered a lot of aspects on activism. One 12-year-old girl, with her mother by her side, asked how young people can be more involved with activism, to which the organizers applauded her for being interested at such a young age and gave her suggestions.

However, there were a few hecklers who came with the intent to disrupt the organizers.

Some attempted to condemn Sarsour and Islam as a whole but were shut down by the panel. Sarsour said that she developed thick skin to people who used Islam to attack her because they didn’t have a proper understanding of what Islam is.

The event ended peacefully with the last words of Sarsour inviting people to be organized and involved.

“Don’t be ambitious, don’t try to change the world,” she said. “Take baby steps and baby steps.”

Wake and Bacon food truck to open

 

 

Gettin Klucky photo via Facebook

A local restaurant lifer is finally ready to break off on his own path and try his hand in the food truck game as early as January 2018.

Chris Daneker has spent half of his life working in the restaurent industry and always dreamed of running the show himself. That dream may be coming true after nearly a year of planning and team building. With the help of friends and business partners, Jason Harp and Chelsey Macko, Wake and Bacon is ready to roll.

“We chose to do a food truck because it’s cheaper,” Daneker said. “We’re broke with no capital to use as collateral for a larger loan.”

Daneker needed a plan to make his food truck and future restaurant a reality.

“Food trucks are mobile marketing for our eventual brick-and-mortar restaurant,” Daneker said.

Daneker and his partners have been planning for 10 months. Those plans and the subsequent business model came from his sister, an accounting major, in a project that earned her one of the highest grades in her class.

The planning includes extensive research in Bay Area counties. Wake and Bacon used this information to determine where they would plan on setting up shop on a given day.

“We plan to operate throughout the Tampa Bay area with daily stops in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties,” Daneker said. “Both counties are on the upswing as far as growth in population and economy.”

A lot of that population growth can be attributed to a younger crowd. Daneker said their target demographic is ages 21-45, so this area may be perfect.

Wake and Bacon’s business model is tied to the versatility of its ingredients. Candied bacon, Cuban bread and chicken breast are used in a multitude of ways. This maximizes profit while still allowing each entrée to be completely different.

How does Candied Heaven sound? It is a breakfast sandwich with candied bacon, Havarti cheese and two runny over-easy eggs between butter-toasted Cuban bread.

The Tummy Stix are waffle sticks served infused with candied bacon with fried chicken tenders and homemade syrup.

The menu also features the Gettin’ Klucky sandwich with fried chicken with shredded lettuce and homemade ranch pressed between Cuban bread.

Daneker may be excited to finally get started but he still understands it is an ongoing process even once you are open for business.  He wants to reach higher.

Daneker said that his long-term plan is to convert the food truck into a stationary restaurant and use the truck for catering and deliveries.

USF HerCampus inspires women to be heard

TAMPA- HerCampus is an online magazine focused on the empowerment of college women and journalists.

The organization was founded in 2009 by Winsor Hanger Western, Stephanie Kaplan Lewis and Annie Wang while they were undergrads at Harvard.

HerCampus founders (from left to right) Western, Wang, and Lewis via https://www.hercampus.com/meet-founders

All three women worked together on a student published lifestyle magazine for Harvard. They wanted to pursue online publications beyond college, and from this, HerCampus was born.

HerCampus includes sections titled ‘job advice’ and ‘money’ for students to prepare for the future. According to its website, many members of HerCampus have been offered internships with publications such as The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Vogue, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Not only does this publication allow its contributors these opportunities, it gives readers a space where they can grow and understand college life and beyond with their fellow collegiettes.

Collegiette definition from the HerCampus website https://www.hercampus.com/about-us

Here at USF, collegiettes have a chance to explore their journalistic potential with full-time and part-time writing positions. By being a member of HerCampus, USF students have a chance to become published and grab the attention of potential employers.

The first USF HerCampus meeting of the semester was held on Sept. 25, in MSC 3704. The meeting was led by Kaitlin Anderson, the HerCampus USF campus correspondent. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare new members for the semester and establish expectations from writers and social media contributors.

Anderson assigned writers to their senior editors Cierra Craft and Téa Piro. When a new member from the crowd asked about the type of content to write about, Craft stated that the spectrum of subjects is very broad for the magazine. Contributors are encouraged to write about anything that is meaningful to them, with permission from their senior editor. Favorite beauty products, social issues and inspirational people on campus are just a few of the popular topics covered.

HerCampus Infographic by Kylie Buklad

With an array of subjects available, HerCampus has content for a diversity of collegiettes in need of advice and guidance. Students can learn how to handle certain issues, relate with their fellow students and become inspired to share their own stories and the stories of others.

HerCampus is a place where any collegiette can feel included and empowered. Even if you are nervous about publishing your writing for the first time, HerCampus is a great way to get started. With the guidance of the senior editors, you can learn the basics of a good article and your work will become more polished.  If you want your voice to be heard, become a contributor today.

Check out the HerCampus USF website to see what the collegiettes have to say.

Joining HerCampus is as simple as sending an email via the Join Us link on their website.  For inquires about the USF Chapter, Anderson can be contacted via email at usf@hercampus.com.

 

 

 

 

 

USF student waits 8 days to hear from father in Puerto Rico

Tampa – Hurricane Maria didn’t hit Tampa Bay but the devastation she wreaked on Puerto Rico hits home for many in the community with family who endured the storm.

Carina Galarza Minondo, a 20-year-old junior at the University of South Florida, spent over a week trying to get in touch with her father in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Minondo spoke with her father the Monday before Hurricane Maria hit and didn’t hear from him for days, wondering if not only her father, but her grandparents and cousins, had survived the storm.

“I was under so much stress,” Minondo said. “I couldn’t sleep, eat or focus on anything. I was having panic attacks at work.”

The days grew longer and longer for Minondo as she worried about her grandmother in Puerto Rico with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I didn’t know whether she had been at home or if she was with my uncle,” Minondo said. “My step grandmother’s house is a wooden house, so I was worried about that too. It was the most horrible week of my life.”

A rush of relief overcame Minondo when she finally received a phone call from her father eight days after the storm had passed. Hearing his voice was all it took for her to break down in tears.

“They were all fine,” Minondo said. “Of course, no power, no water, but at least they’re all healthy and there was no damage to their homes. It was suddenly the best day ever.”

Minondo’s family will not be coming back to the United States while Puerto Rico rebuilds from the storm. She said her family members are stubborn and would rather stay to help the island get back on its feet.

When asked what her family is doing to get by while they recover, Minondo said they’re all going to bed early these days.

“The notion of time has pretty much disappeared for them,” Minondo said. “My dad started work again, but without electricity everything is old school paperwork being done.”

“Banks are only giving $100 per person since the only goods available are food and it can only be paid for with cash,” Minondo said. “My family is scared to even have $100 in their pockets because they could easily be robbed.”

The food, water and cash shortage in Puerto Rico continues to be an issue. Those receiving payments from family members in the states are out of luck while they are still out of power. Even though there are supplies being brought in, it’s not reaching every part of it.

“It’s like only the metropolitan area is receiving help while the rest of the island just suffers,” Minondo said. “It truly hurts to see such a beautiful island, and islands in the Antilles in so much pain and destruction.”

Collecting supplies for Puerto Rico has not been an issue, in fact there are 100 tons in one warehouse, but securing a plane to get the supplies there has been the biggest hurdle.

For those interested in making donations to Puerto Rico, Course of Action PR is still accepting donations at Homeland Intelligence Technologies. Located at 4916 S Lois Ave., Tampa, FL 33611. The drop of location is open Monday thru Saturday, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

The drop off location also has three shifts open to any volunteers who are at least 18 years old. The facility asks that you show up only at any of these specific times: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. or 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Visit the Course of Action PR page on Facebook for an updated list of donation items.

Retail- Is It The End Of The Line?

Retail continues its downward spiral, leaving many of us wondering how much longer brick-and-mortar stores will last.

2017 has experienced nine retail bankruptcies resulting in the closing of many of our favorite department stores. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears have each closed more than 100 stores in the past year.  

If these numbers have shown us anything it’s that retail is a very fickle business and no brand is safe. In the span of a few months a company can go from high to low, which is the case with Swedish, mega-retailer H&M.

Just three months ago they were reporting a surge in their sales, surprising everyone with a 10 percent boost in profits. But it seems that that was the calm before the storm. The fast-fashion retailer reported its third-quarter earnings on Thursday and they left more to be desired. The company’s last period saw a 20 percent dip in their net profit. They attributed the decrease to  “reduced footfall in stores in their established markets”.

Seeing as more and more consumers are shopping online, the lack of foot traffic comes as no surprise. They certainly aren’t the only store suffering. They may however be one of few stores to clear out all of its end-of-season inventory. Unfortunately that didn’t bring in the expected profits.  CEO, Karl-Johan Persson explained the lack of revenue in a recent press release.

“ Sales in the quarter were affected by a significantly larger summer sale this year than in the corresponding quarter last year- both in terms of the number of items and the average discount per piece – which had a dampening effect on revenue growth. This contributed to the autumn collections getting off to a good start, although sales slowed somewhat towards the end of september.”

In an attempt to stay afloat H&M’s online store is planning on opening two new markets in the Philippines and Cyprus in addition to the six online markets it currently has.

Other companies, like H&M, realize that consumers are focusing on online shopping and rather than give up hope they are doing what they can to push through. Companies like Nordstrom.

Nordstrom, one of the country’s largest department stores is doing all that it can to incorporate online shopping into their employees selling strategies. Allowing their customers to call, email and even text employees the items that they want. Customers can find the items that they want online, make a wishlist and send it to any Nordstrom employee, leaving them to find and ship the items straight to their home.

The company is also expanding their online selection. They have recently green-lighted a collaboration with Everlane. Everlane is known for its high-quality and ethically made basics. Nordstrom will launch an Everlane themed pop-up shop in-store and online. The shop will be in line with the brand’s minimalist style of clean lines and warm tones. The deal is Everlane’s first ever in-store retail partnership.

Hopefully the pop-up shop will help  increase foot-traffic while also expanding online sales.

If things continue on as they are currently, we can expect to see more and more stores enter the red zone.  

But if more companies attempt to embrace the change in consumer trends and use this as an opportunity to grow their online presence, then maybe, just maybe their could be a light at the end of a seemingly bleak tunnel. Perhaps online shopping, the be-all and end-all of retail could also be its saving grace.

How much longer do we have until we have to say goodbye to our favorite stores? Hopefully we won’t have to.