By Maria Serrano
As the national debate over climate change intensifies, South Florida has become a flashpoint. And South Florida is much more than South Beach.
On Nov. 24, 2015, fifteen days after king tide day, the largest tidal range seen over the course of a year, the residential neighborhood known as the Upper East Side in Miami was still experiencing floods.
The area has an annual estimated income per household of $45,000.
Similar to Miami Beach, the Upper East Side is a middle-income community facing the consequences of sea level rise, but it has not received the attention or funding necessary to protect its residents, their houses, and small businesses.
Scientists, researchers, legislators and residents recently met at Little River Pocket Park, located in the Northeastern section of the neighborhood, to collect data, learn about sea level rise, and discuss that this is not simply an issue for Miami Beach, but a coastal issue for much of South Florida.
“It’s designed to get citizens involved in being a part of the solution,” Juliet Pinto a, Journalism Professor at Florida International University and organizer of the event for EyesOnTheRise.org said.
More events like this are being planned by EyesOnTheRise.org in the upcoming months to increase the awareness about sea level rise and the consequences for residents of South Florida.
WATCH: Sea Level Rise Impacts In Upper East Side of Miami
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What Are The Wukan Protests And Why Should Young People Care?By Contributor
By Joy Pamnani
HONG KONG- The Wukan protests have hit global news headlines over the past few weeks, and yet many people, still don’t have a good idea of what it is all about.
The controversy seems to have begun in 2011, and it is certainly complicated.
But in this piece, we’re just boiling it down to the basics.
What sparked the protests?
Back in September 2011, the Wukan protests began as a result of land sales disputes in the Chinese coastal village.
Protestors argue that corrupt government officials got involved in land sales in the region without properly compensating villagers for their land that was sold.
Protests soon erupted, and clashes between the police and villagers left dozens wounded.
The movements grew in scale when a protest leader in police custody died in December 2011, as villagers forced the entire local government, Communist Party leadership and police out of the village.
Why is Wukan known as the “democracy village” experiment?
Wukan became known as China’s democracy village after villagers were granted the right to vote for officials following protests in 2011.
The term “democracy village” comes as many of China’s villages are state-controlled.
Read More: Was There Massive Voter Fraud In The Hong Kong LegCo Elections?
The country has started to introduce grassroots democracy for its villagers, and Wukan is a place people see the impacts of democracy in China, akin to an experiment.
What brought the issue into the spotlight again recently?
Protests have been on-and-off for the past few years, as villagers call for an eradication of corruption and better protection of land rights in China.
Authorities, on the other hand, have sent police and troops to crack down on the protests.
Clashes have continued.
WATCH: BBC News Report from Wukan in June, 2016
One of the elected village leaders, Lin Zuluan, was looked up to by many villagers in his fight against land seizures.
In June, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment facing bribery charges after he drafted a letter to the government demanding an end to corruption.
Lin released a taped confession, admitting to his crimes.
However, villagers believed his confession was forced and began marching along the streets, calling on authorities to release him.
If corruption is prevalent in China, why is this one of the only few uprisings we’ve seen so far?
Many mass movements have been a result of corruption, yet mainland media censorship stops information about protests that get out of hand.
While most people think the news was spread as a result of large-scale of demonstrations, experts believe it had to do with villagers’ intentions of making the news circulate around the world.
“The protestors in Wukan were very smart and invited international media outlets to broadcast the story,” Chen Xi, an Associate Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong told RISE NEWS in an interview.
Yuan Weishi, a retired historian from the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, told the New York Times that geographical factors also play a role in Wukan’s mass coverage.
Guangdong is China’s wealthiest and most liberal province, and its citizens tend to look at uncensored news reports from Hong Kong, where people enjoy a higher degree of political freedom.
“People in Guangdong watch Hong Kong TV, rarely China Central Television, and so have a better understanding of civil society and the rule of law,” Weishi said, in a telephone interview with the New York Times back in 2011.“Being exposed to the Hong Kong media in their daily lives gives Guangdong people a better understanding of how the media works and what they can do.”
Hong Kong people held a democracy movement called the Umbrella Revolution two years back, and they didn’t receive as much backlash from the government. Why so?
Before going into comparisons, it’s important to understand the political context involved when comparing Hong Kong and Wukan.
Deciding whether or not to stop demonstrations in Wukan and Hong Kong don’t share the same dimensions in decision-making.
“Hong Kong was a British colony, and got handed over to China in 1997. The city has a considerable amount of autonomy, and a crackdown is an important decision related to national sovereignty,” Chen Xi told RISE NEWS. “An incident like Wukan is only a local matter.”
What’s in store for China’s democracy scene in the years to come?
Well, different experts have different thoughts on the issue.
According to a New York Times interview with Johan Lagerkvist, a professor at Stockholm University, Lagerkvist believes the Wukan incident will discourage the spread of democracy in China.
“It is now unlikely that other villages in China would adopt democracy in the mold of Wukan.” he said in the article.
However, Professor Chen Xi begs to differ, as grassroots democracy has spread well over China, as officials begin to embrace the concept of self-governance.
“Wukan is not a good model for democracy in China,” Chen Xi said. “Many elected officials have taken good care of their villages and I believe grassroots democracy will spread.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
You can also like our RISE NEWS Hong Kong Facebook page to stay engaged with our local coverage.
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Does Orlando Prove Trump Right? Absolutely Not
In a gay nightclub, 49 lives were taken because a crazy and hateful person had legal access to a weapon of mass destruction.
The shooter, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen proclaimed his support for ISIS, pointed his licensed assault rifle at the bodies of innocent people, and shot.
Those are the facts. It was an attack of terror and hate, and is yet another example of how guns have caused so much damage to this country.
All eyes have been on the presidential candidates to see how they respond to this public safety crisis.
In an interview on Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders explained the necessity to regulate guns in order to avoid the wrong people from accessing them, and to do away with assault rifles.
“We should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people”.
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Hilary Clinton advocated for gun control and “defeating international terror groups”. She also expressed her support for the LGBTQ community and a determination to eradicate these kinds of hate crimes in America.
Trump, as to be assumed, took a different approach. He used the attack to reiterate his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the US, (clearly not keeping in mind that Mateen was an American citizen born in New York), and reprimanded Obama and Hilary for remaining “politically correct” and avoiding the phrase “radical Islam”.
It was no surprise that Trump took a racist approach to this tragedy, however a potential fear is that many Americans who are traumatized from this attack could be persuaded by his words.
So far, on Twitter, most have voiced their disgust with Trump’s comments, but the real question asks if this is what it would take for more Americans to get behind Trumps bigoted and hateful campaign against Muslims?
When horrible things happen and people are afraid, they revert into a defensive mode, determined to obtain protection and justice.
These are valid feelings in mourning, but they are dangerous in the hands of Donald Trump. He is manipulative and driven, and that is a deadly combination.
Tension within Americans towards Muslims has been a lingering issue since 9/11. It ebbs and flows with each given current event.
It is a kind of irrational fear that can cause people to advocate for the wrong things. It is clear that Trump recognizes people’s eagerness to feel safer, and is using that to promote his motion for a temporary ban of Muslims in the country.
But this is not unusual, and this was to be expected. The real fear is how many people will he convince and how will it affect this election?
Trump has made this an issue of political correctness. He believes that the term “radical Islam” is a phrase not used enough in our discourse and therefore allows things like this to happen.
But again, let’s look at the facts. Mateen was an American citizen, and his ex wife has explained that she does not feel this was religiously motivated as much as it was the outcome of him being mentally ill.
Mateen legally bought an assault rifle, a weapon clearly for more than one needs for hunting or protection. He was an American, and he murdered people out of hatred.
The so called “praise” that Trump is receiving for predicting this horrific event is not only insensitive, repulsive, and narcissistic, but it is also false.
Religion is an ideology that has a great deal of power over a people. Many terrorist attacks have been executed at the hands of radicals sometimes related to the Islamic nation, but often they are not.
Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation for a political aim. In Colorado Springs when Robert Lewis, a white man from South Carolina shot up a Planned Parenthood, that was political, that was terrorism.
In fact, between 1982 and 2015, out of the 72 mass shootings in America, 44 of the shooters were white. However, Trump is not advocating to ban Lewis and all white people.
Terrorism is a domestic and foreign issue. It does not end if a people are cast out of this country and oppressed for their religion. Guns are easily accessible and end up in the hands of unstable individuals.
In his speech for the Orlando shooting, Obama said, “America has to decide what kind of country it wants to be”. If it were up to Trump, we would be a country driven by hate and racism. Guns would remain accessible and people would continue to be murdered by the hundreds each year; but there would be no Muslim Americans.This is a violent and unacceptable way of thinking.
The numbers are there and clearly show that the real problem is guns and an undeniably stubborn culture that revolves around them.
This is a tragedy beyond consoling. The victims of the Orlando shooting were targeted out of hate and murdered because a mentally ill man had access to an assault rifle. This is the poignant issue of this massacre.
Unfortunately, because of the general hate and fear of Muslims in this country, Trumps sentiments could potentially serve as a dangerous outlet for enraged Americans, and will allow the topic of gun control to once again fall silent.
There are no words to console the victims and their families after this massacre. Cynically, it appears that if the Sandy Hook shooting did not change people’s feelings about guns, perhaps nothing will.
But right now, Americans are in a powerful position to stop a man filled with bigotry and callousness from becoming President and oppressing people in the same ways a fascist dictator once had.
This event is frightening, but our fear cannot be directed in the wrong places. We simply cannot afford to give in to such ways of thought.
Instead, we must stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, discuss productive methods to avoid something like this happening again, and evaluate the kind of country we want to either remain as, or become.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 803
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Police Body Camera Footage Released In Alabama Students Rough Arrest Case
Tuscaloosa police released officer body camera footage of the cop at the center of a controversy that has been roiling the west Alabama city since early November.
The officer and a group of other cops conducted a rough arrest on three University of Alabama students after the police were called to an off campus apartment in the early hours of Nov. 8 because the students were allegedly playing music too loudly.
The incident came to light after the student newspaper, the Crimson White obtained and published a series of brutal cell phone videos.
The videos show multiple Tuscaloosa police officers grab three students out of an off campus apartment and throw them onto the concrete hallway where they are arrested and one is tased and beaten with a nightstick.
READ MORE: Videos Surface From Rough Arrest, Tasering Of Alabama Students After LSU Victory
Tuscaloosa’s chief of police Steve Anderson quickly called for an internal investigation of the three main officers involved and put them all on paid administrative leave while the matter was being looked into.
WATCH: Tuscaloosa Police Storm Into Dorm And Arrest Three Students, Taser One
“Based on what I’ve seen, the individual did not have to exit the apartment,” Anderson said according to AL.com.
When he was asked if the officers had the right to go inside of the apartment, Anderson responded, “Based on what I’ve seen, no.”
While the footage released Wednesday didn’t show anything “earth shattering” according to Anderson, it was still important to make public the footage for the sake of transparency.
WATCH: Police Body Camera Footage of Tuscaloosa Rough Arrests
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