Millennial Intel


Japan Seems Ready To Do Anything In Order To Strengthen Ties With The US

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was bashed in the 2016 elections by both Democrats and Republicans.

It was portrayed in the campaign as another “bad” trade deal that would cost our country decent jobs and lower wages.

It was no surprise when President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP in his fourth day of office and suggested focusing on more bilateral trade agreements.

Whether or not Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to convince Trump in November to stay in the TPP during their first meeting, it is apparent he has changed his tune now.

Abe seemed optimistic about replacing the TPP with investments from Japan in America’s infrastructure, suggesting a railway that uses their high-speed technology and increased bilateral trade during a trip to the US.

Sounds too good to be true?

The Japanese government has already invested two million in a maglev line project that would connect Baltimore, Maryland to Washington and expects the forty-mile line to open in a decade at an estimated cost of ten billion, with them covering much of the cost.

Many young Americans may be unfamiliar with this meeting, but as our generation starts to shape the public opinion of the time, it is critical that attention is paid to East Asia, as well as other parts of the world.

A 2015 survey by Pew Research Center found that seventy-three percent of Americans had never heard of the Japanese Prime Minister, who has served since 2012.

I asked Dr. William Boettcher in the Political Science Department at North Carolina State University why our relationship to Japan should matter to the incoming generation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting with American Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Photo Credit: Jim Mattis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“Japan is the chief U.S. ally in East Asia (with South Korea a close second) and is a key contributor to stability in this very important region,” Boettcher told me. “Japan hosts significant deployments of American troops and is also our fourth-largest trading partner.”

While future relations seem unclear and the two countries have had a rocky history, for the past seventy-some years the relationship has been deeply rooted in mutual trust.

This trust has its beginnings in the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, signed in 1960.

The treaty has been strengthened over time with the US Japan Economic Harmonization Initiative in November of 2010 and the release of the revised U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines in 2015.

According to the State Department, the latter allowed for expanded forms of security-oriented cooperation, which brings us to the uniqueness of our relationship with Japan.

Due to Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution, the county cannot enter into war and can only use their forces in matters of self-defense.

As Japan’s only treaty partner, we are committed to protecting it with the presence of our forces.

The 2016 Index of Military Strength stated that we currently maintain “38,000 military personnel and another 5,000 Department of Defense civilian employees in Japan under the rubric of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ).”

Japan offsets some of the cost by providing around two billion annually, but they have been pressured in recent years to provide more and increase their own military.

This was especially expressed by Trump during his campaign as he espoused that our allies must give a little more for relationships to continue.

Photo Credit: Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Japan has loosened some of their restrictions on defense and arms sales in recent years, and they can do more.

The reason a strengthened relationship with the U.S. is so important: China and North Korea.

While President Obama practiced “strategic patience” with North Korea, the rogue regime practiced more missile tests and failed to return to any negotiations.

The long term goal of rejoining families and reinstituting democracy in the North will be a long way off if it is continued to be put on the back burner for issues in the Middle East (an important lesson for President Trump).

Read More: Why This Vietnamese Student Studying In The US Still Loves America Despite Trump’s Hate.

Both the United States and South Korea support the policy of reunification, but a policy of constructive engagement from the U.S. may prove to be more effective.

Japan’s formidable neighbor, China, has not been sanctioned for facilitating North Korean prohibited behavior and does not seem to share concern for the safety of our allies in East Asia.

To move toward the reunification of Korea, it stands to reason that our presence in East Asia should not be depleted, but enlarged.

How does this support President Trump’s claims that our allies need to do more?

Japan can do more and it appears that now that they have been pressured, Prime Minister Abe is rising to the occasion.

The first foreign leader to jump on a plane and meet with our new president, this is a man who is interested in not only dinner, but chocolate and roses too.

Japan has asserted its dominance in East Asia in recent years, meaning it has a dog in the fight.

In 2010 China challenged Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, and the Obama Administration responded by saying that the islands were protected under the security treaty between the United States and Japan.

Then the Japanese central government furthered tensions with China by purchasing three new islands in 2012.

While we must uphold our end of the security treaty, in the coming years Japan must strengthen the Japanese Coast Guard, increase defense expenditures so as to strengthen the Self-Defense Forces, reinforce the National Security Council, and alter its interpretation of the right to collective self-defense.

The Economist maintains that some of the money to improve American infrastructure can come from Japan’s $1.2 trillion public-pension fund, the world’s largest, so perhaps this can also support their own needs to improve and expand defense.

We can increase our militaristic and economic ties with Japan as long as they are willing to do the same.

While in the past public opposition to altering the Japanese constitution would have made it difficult, the increasing buildup of the Chinese military and Japan’s desire to work with the U.S. has changed the public’s outlook.

These short-term changes are now possible to work toward our common long-term goals of standing up to North Korea and China.

It looks like this alliance might make for a sweet relationship after all.

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.

Cover Photo Credit: Flickr (CC By 2.0)

South Africa Start Up Profile: 7 Steps- The Company That Brings Art To Cape Flats

The 7 Steps Hub Initiative is an innovative idea started by founder Clint White in his efforts to bring art and creativity to the disadvantaged of youth living on the Cape Flats.

I met up with Clint White to discuss the initiative, its goals and vision and what local and international organizations and individuals can do to get involved and make a difference.

RISE NEWS: 1. Can you give us an idea of your background and what lead to the idea of starting the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: I’m a creative enthusiast, entrepreneur, brand strategist, creative director and business speaker. I’ve had the opportunity to be active in many creative roles, from brand manager, stylist, writer, creative director, art director, stage director, workshop host, panellist and even a voice over artist. I’m quite a lively and determined person, always wanting to source information and to do things differently. It’s how I’m inspired to be innovative in everything I do.

Living on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, I have a first-hand experience on what life is like here, the reality and prevalence of drug abuse, despair and violence suffered by our youth. This has forged a wedge between people, and the effects are disastrous. We’ve been left with a nation of uninspired youth, within disconnected communities, with little hope, so I thought that there must be an opportunity to change it.

RISE NEWS: 2. Why do you think that art specifically is a tool to change mind sets and instil a sense of self-confidence in the youth living on the Cape Flats?

Clint White: Coming from a creative background myself, I believe that art has the ability to heal people from an intrinsic perspective, which can quite literally change an individual’s thinking.

I think we should re-introduce art in our public education system, as it’s seen as an exclusive privilege at best.

There is little understanding of art in our communities and this creates a hindrance in pursuing a creative career or appreciation of the discipline.

We need to realise that the ability to think creatively and to come up with ideas, contributes to every industry the world over, from fashion, engineering, science, technology, music, media, architecture, design and even education; they all require creativity.

Founder Clint White (R) receiving an award from Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs.

You can pour your emotions, desires, fears, aspirations and viewpoints into whatever artwork you create, and learn new skills in the process. Art allows people to think differently in a way that we apply creative interpretations of how we experience the world around us and how we contribute to it.

RISE NEWS: 3. Has art been a force in your life and how has it changed or created a shift in mindset for you?

Clint White: Art is merely the mechanism or framework for innovation. I’m someone who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life, which I use to my advantage.

It [art] is about learning from past experiences and challenging myself to create new things, experiences and ideas; that’s where the innovation lies. I’m always researching new ideas, seeing what’s been done before and how we can make things better, to disrupt and to innovate. It’s what drives me.

RISE NEWS: 4. What do you intend to do with the art pieces that the kids create through the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: Through our workshops, we intend on placing the art in the schools to encourage an appreciation and curiosity in art.

We expect that this will mitigate bullying as well, in the hopes that other youth will be interested in joining our programmes. The contributions the youth will make and the skills that they will learn will cultivate a sense of ownership which can be applied to other spheres of their lives too.

Through active support of funders and the public we hope to provide employment, entrepreneurship ideals and career development opportunities as well once the youth complete their schooling and perfect their skills through the art they create.

RISE NEWS: 5. Can you elaborate more on the community projects that 7 Steps Hub is starting up with students from Wynberg and Athlone?

Clint White: We wish to integrate the thinking at a community level into community development projects, not specifically only Wynberg and Athlone, but all communities.

We first want the learners to adopt a sense of ownership of their school, and then tackle their communities where they live.

We want the youth to visualise their communities as places of interest and inspiration. Through community clean ups, revamps, and art installations in these areas, we want to beautify them and bring the spirit of community back into where we live.

RISE NEWS: 6. Tell us more about the WaydesWelcome Journey and how that has influenced you moving forward with the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: When I decided to walk around Cape Town collecting messages of support and congratulations for Olympic World Champion, Wayde Van Niekerk, I had no clue how the idea would take off. The campaign trended nationally within three days, and featured on every major media platform in the country, from radio interviews, TV appearances and newspaper articles. I met every person who signed the book.

I captured the journey on social media and garnered hundreds of thousands of impressions and people following the story each day.

It took me two months and 400 kilometres on foot, meeting hundreds of every day citizens and celebrities, from David Kramer, Evita Bezuidenhout, Mpho Tutu Van Furth and many more, to being invited by different companies, organisations, schools and people, it was incredible.

When he [Wayde Van Niekerk] arrived back in the country, I was fortunate enough to be invited by T-Systems to attend a gala dinner in Wayde’s honour as a special guest.

I had the opportunity to have dinner with Wayde, met his family and made a speech, before finally handing the book over.

It inspired me that we as a nation can come together for a greater good. I was incredibly inspired that through my idea, I could unite the entire nation.

All we need is a little inspiration, to do great things. As South Africans, we are kind hearted and genuine, it was refreshing to experience first-hand.

RISE NEWS: 7. What are your goals for the 2017 year and how can businesses and individuals get involved in such an initiative?

Clint White: Our goal for 2017 is to inspire the youth and build partnerships and relationships in realising its success.

We’re busy planning a 7 Steps Hub Creative Expo, showcasing the innovation and creativity from our programmes, as well as artistic contributions from individuals in Cape Town.

As we are a non-profit organisation, the challenges we face are funding, and the need for resources in our continued endeavours in changing lives.

We want youth, private business, parents, government and ordinary citizens to make a concerted effort in supporting our organisation in any way they can.

We have a list of resources and funding objectives available which anyone can contribute towards.

We need people to support our social media platforms and spread the word about our initiative.

We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign too, for people to assist 7 Steps Hub. It’s important that we realise the need to take the step and build our future, together.

Follow this creative initiative on these social media platforms for more information on how to get involved and support the 7 Steps Hub Initiative:

Email: [email protected]

Facebook page:

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.

Post-truth politics actually dates back to Aristotle

By Kevin Morrell

Following Donald Trump’s inauguration as President the world is anticipating a new, and potentially radically different era for the US.

The inauguration also prompts questions about this new style of politics.

Trump’s surge to leading the most powerful nation in the world was fuelled by a rhetoric we associate with a new term: ‘post-truth’.

The Oxford Dictionary named post-truth its word of the year in 2016, and defined it as “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Brexit, and Trump’s success were new lows for many of us, particularly in higher education, precisely because facts came a distant second to populist appeals.

But, as a number of people have identified, post-truth didn’t begin with Trump.

One reference point for the two campaigns 2016 will be remembered for has been the propagandism of the 1930s, and two wickedly cynical pieces of advice: repeat lies often enough until they are accepted as true, or remember if you are going to lie, tell a big lie.

But almost a century earlier, in the 1850s, there was a far dirtier US election campaign where an anti-immigration party, the “know nothings”, actively thrived on pretending to be ignorant of their own party’s activities.

Further back still, before US independence, the satirist John Arbuthnot wrote: “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it, so that when Men come to be undeceived, it is too late… like a physician who has found out an infallible medicine after the patient is dead.” The title of his 1712 essay? The Art of Political Lying.

And way, way before Arbuthnot, in 350 BC, Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens describes the demagogue Cleon in a way Trump critics might recognise: “The cause of the corruption of the democracy by his wild undertakings.”

Photo Credit: Martin aka Maha

A closer look at Cleon invites several parallels with how critics see Trump. Cleon inherited his wealth from his father in the form of a tannery – a leather factory: certainly the Athenian equivalent of blue-collar.

He rose to power in 430 BC, during a desperate time for Athens – it was at war with Sparta and was devastated by plague. Plutarch describes him as someone who “catered to the pleasure of the Athenians” with a combination of “mad vanity”, “versatile buffoonery” and “disgusting boldness.”

Cleon had a distinctive and shocking communication style, one Athenians had never seen before.

While speaking, he would hitch his cloak up and slap his thighs, running and yelling at the crowds.

Aristotle says he was “the first to use unseemly shouting and coarse abuse”. Aside from this radically new communication style, Cleon’s populism was based on attacking two enemies.

First, though wealthy himself, he was an anti-establishment figure, pursuing a “relentless persecution of the upper classes”.

Second, he was a flag-waving xenophobe, antagonistic towards Athens’ rival and (partly thanks to Cleon) bitter enemy Sparta, as well as to the city of Mytilene, who wanted independence from Athens.

The Athenian general and historian Thucydides even records a speech where Cleon expresses admiration for Mytilene’s “unassailable” walls.

Parallels don’t end there. A later Athenian writer, Lucian, suggests Cleon profited from exploiting his office as some warn Trump is set to do and that he was “venal to excess” (as Trump detractors suggest).

He was boastful, once bragging that he could win a war against some Spartans by himself. He was thin-skinned and censorious, as well as a litigious bully.

Cleon tried, unsuccessfully, to have the satirist Aristophanes prosecuted for writing The Babylonians, which he considered a treasonable play – in the process turning Aristophanes into a life-long enemy.

He accused Athenian generals of incompetence and, in establishment-bashing mode tried, unsuccessfully, to prosecute one of them, Laches.

Cleon was held responsible for the eventual exile of another, Thucydides, who as well as being a general is sometimes described as the founder of history.

Indeed Thucydides’ contribution was to found a tradition of historians as being concerned with facts and the truth.

Throughout this period Cleon was the biggest obstacle to normal relations with Sparta and within a year of his death a peace treaty was agreed.

History was certainly not kind to Cleon, and perhaps Trump will not be showered in praise either.

In Cleon’s case this was no surprise perhaps given that he exiled the most eminent Athenian historian and tried to silence the most eminent Athenian satirist.

Nowadays Cleon is most well-known through Aristophanes’ play, The Knights (far ruder than Saturday Night Live).

This has an unusually small cast because it is essentially a relentless assault on the character Paphlagon, who is obviously based on Cleon: “the leather-seller” with a “gaping arse”, “a perfect glutton for beans” who loudly “farts and snores”, an “arrant rogue” and “mud-stirrer” with a “pig’s education” and the “stink of leather” – “this villain, this villain, this villain! I cannot say the word too often, for he is a villain a thousand times a day”.

Cleon may well have had a front-row seat for The Knights, where he would have seen Aristophanes playing Paphlagon/Cleon, presumably because no-one else dared to.

Characters in these plays were masked, but no prop-maker dared make a mask resembling Cleon.

We might imagine Cleon later reviewing The Knights as: “A totally one-sided, biased show – overrated! The theatre must always be a safe and special place. Apologize!”

What matters is that Aristophanes’ contemporaries awarded The Knights first prize at the Lenaia festival (something like Athens’ Cannes Festival).

Cleon’s brand of post-truth politics flourished because when life is extremely hard, facts are not as novel or distracting as sensationalism.

Some Athenians were won over by the novel spectacle of yelling, coarse abuse and thigh-slapping – and distracted by diversionary ranting against Sparta.

Critics of Brexit and Trump might say voters were won over by bus-sized gimmicks or tweet-sized slogans – where both camps painted “enemy” over an anonymous other.

2016 was a bad year in which millions were desperate for change, but perhaps what we saw was an age old spectacle. Populism and appeals to emotion always work on some people. When times are bad enough they work on enough people.

One consolation for Trump’s opponents and Remainers is that the Athenians kept Cleon partly in check using existing governance mechanisms – the courts.

They can also take comfort that contemporary culture remembers Cleon through the eyes of his bitter enemy Aristophanes. Cleon’s era was horrific yet it also became a golden age for satire and saw the birth of the discipline of history.

The worst fears for the Trump presidency are bleak, but civilisation survived Cleon. Shortly after his death we saw another kind of Athenian golden age – with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle laying down the basis for Western philosophy and civilisation.

They taught the importance of scepticism and scrutiny, and of virtue. They placed the ultimate premium on the search for knowledge and truth.

In the Rhetoric Aristotle gave us all the tools we need to see through a Cleon. Indeed, he wanted rhetoric to be widely understood so politicians’ arguments were evaluated on their merits rather than the wrapper (or bus) they arrived in.

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.

Kevin Morrell is a Professor of Strategy at Warwick Business School, UK. He researches rhetoric in politics. 

Cover Photo Credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Women Now Make Up The Majority Of Law Students

In a historic milestone, women now make up the majority of law students in the United States, comprising of just over a 50 percent of the seats at accredited Law Schools in the country.

According to the American Bar Association, the number of male and female students enrolled in Juris Doctorate programs had been nearly equal until this year which also marked the first time women law students outnumbered their male counterparts.

Data released by the American Bar Association shows that 55,766 women were enrolled nationwide in a Juris Doctorate program compared with 55,059 men.

The released data also showed that over 51 percent of first year students were female.

The American Bar Association requires accredited schools to annually disclose data in a number of fields such as admissions, financial aid and employment outcomes.

Most law schools however, do not require students to identify their gender hence some students are not included in the data as they do not identify with either gender.

Overall, law school enrollment remains flat with only a tiny increase in first year students.

Enrollment numbers have stabilized after dropping drastically by almost 30 percent since 2010.

Women outnumbering men in law schools is a historical milestone as this was one area where male enrollment exceeded female enrollment despite women historically having earned 57.1 percent of college degrees.

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.

Cover Photo: University of Michigan School of Law. Jason Crotty/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Colorado Weed Shops Have Sold Over $1 Billion In 2016

The first ten months of 2016 marked a historic moment for the legalized cannabis industry as Colorado Cannabis shops reached a milestone of a $1 billion in regulated, legal cannabis sales.

New October data from the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that recreational and medical cannabis shops in Colorado have sold over $1.1 billion worth of marijuana products so far this year.

This total eclipses last year’s sales figures which fell just shy of the billion dollar mark at $996 million.

The state of Colorado was the first American state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012 with the passing of the Colorado Amendment 64.

Photo Credit: John W. Schulze/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: John W. Schulze/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The state had previously decriminalized the drug in 1975 and allowed medical use of cannabis upon prescription in the year 2000.

Marijuana retailers in the state reported record sales in the month of September 2016 when marijuana sales hit an all-time high in Colorado.

$82.8 million worth of marijuana was peddled at retailers in the month of October along with $35 million more in medical sales.

These figures marked a 46% cumulative year upon year increase for October.

The state government has collected over $151 million in taxes from legal Marijuana sales. Three different taxes are imposed on recreational marijuana in the state of Colorado – the standard 2.9 percent sales tax, a special 10 percent sales tax, and a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transfers of which the first $40 million is earmarked for school construction projects.

ArcView Group, a research firm which specializes in the Cannabis industry, estimates that the legal marijuana industry in the United States could reach a figure of $22 Billion in total annual sales by the year 2020.

It is important to note, however, that the drug remains illegal on a federal level although it has been voted into legalization by several states. It remains to be seen how President-Elect Donald Trump’s administration will deal with the issue of marijuana legalization.

Although Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, three more states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington have also launched legalization programs of their own.

Last month, voters in California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts have all voted in favor of legalized recreational pot. Medical Marijuana is also legal in 28 states.

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.

Cover Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Fake American Embassy In Ghana Forged Visas For A Decade

Media outlets, government officials and citizens of the world were all astounded when news reports arose that a fake embassy in Ghana had been selling US visas for the past decade without arousing any suspicion.

For a decade, an American flag flew outside a battered pink building in Ghana, welcoming unsuspecting, out of town tourists.

Inside a painting of Barack Obama, the current President of the United States adorned the wall.

Located in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, the embassy sold illegally obtained authentic visas for a price of up to $6,000.

The embassy was said to be operated by a criminal network made up of Ghanaian and Turkish gangsters.

Operatives posed as consular officers and staffed the operation in the fake embassy.

The operatives were not American but spoke English and Dutch.

The State Department issued a statement which said “The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored.”

The officials also said that the embassy was shut down in the summer after a tip from an informant reached the Regional Security office.

Raids conducted resulted in the arrest of a number of operatives and also to the seizure of authentic and counterfeit Indian, South African and Schengen Zone visas as well as passports from over 150 countries.


Here is the actual US Embassy. Spot the difference?

It is unknown as to how the criminals managed to get their hands on these authentic visas.

The fake embassy was in stark contrast to the real US embassy which is a heavily fortified complex located in one of the country’s most expensive neighborhoods.

The fake embassy was open three days a week and did not accept walk-in customers. Instead, advertising was done openly on billboards.

Despite the size of the scam, the State Department told the Associated Press that no people entered the United States by using forged visas.

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.

Photo Essay: Little Havana Celebrates The Death Of Fidel Castro

MIAMI- Thousands of Cuban Americans raced to Little Havana to celebrate the death of Fidel Castro in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, 2016.

Read More: “Our Generation’s Berlin Wall”- Young Miami Reacts To Castro’s Death

Here is what it looked like to there:

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Tibet Is Actually Larger Than France. Sorry For Blowing Your Mind

By David J Castello

Few countries in the world evoke the mystique of Tibet.

Nicknamed the “Roof of the World” (it shares Mount Everest with Nepal), most people simply know it as the former home of the Dalai Lama.

For centuries, Tibet heavily restricted outsiders and it wasn’t until 1924 that the first European woman, Belgian–French explorer Alexandra David-Néel, visited the capital, Lhasa. Let’s start with the basics:
1. The Size of Tibet – Many believe that Tibet is a small country like neighboring Nepal or Bhutan.

Actually, Tibet is huge.

The Traditional Tibet (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo provinces) is 965,000 square miles.

This is over four times larger than France and a whopping 25% of the land mass of China, which is a good reason why the Communist Chinese invaded Tibet on October 6, 1950 only ten months after winning the Chinese Civil War and declaring the People’s Republic of China.

Since 1965, China recognizes only the much smaller Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) which comprises U-Tsang and the western area of Kham (474,300 sq. mi).

This Tibet is autonomous in name only because it is strictly governed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Furthermore, China has steadily relocated Chinese into Tibet and there are now more Chinese (7.5 million) in Tibet than Tibetans (6 million).

This does not bode well for Tibetans.

The Tibetan flag and national anthem are banned and they can be imprisoned simply for possessing an image of the Dalai Lama.

Over a million Tibetans have been killed and 6,000 monasteries destroyed since the Chinese invaded their country.

2. Tibet’s Altitude – Tibet is the highest country on Earth with an average elevation of 13,000 feet.

Altitude sickness is more prevalent here than anywhere else on the planet. If you visit Tibet, it’s recommended you give yourself at least 3-5 days of complete rest for your body to complete acute acclimatization or you can pay a heavy price.

The most common type of altitude sickness, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) occurs at elevations above 7,500 feet.

The two fatal varieties, High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), can occur at 12,500 feet.

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The elevation in Lhasa is 12,000 feet and 16,732 feet at Rongbuk Monastery.

On a personal note, I grew up surfing in South Florida and thought skiing in Mammoth, California (base elevation 8,000 feet) would be a cinch.

I jumped right in and was having a blast until I suddenly became dizzy and couldn’t get my bearings.

Ten minutes later, I was gasping for breath as attendants sledded me down the mountain like a deer carcass strapped to the hood of an F-150.

3. The Dalai Lama  – The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the fourteenth Dalai Lama and the spiritual leader of the Yellow Hat Tibetan Buddhists.

The first Dalai Lama was born in 1391 and each succeeding Dalai Lama is believed to be the reincarnation of his predecessor.

Tenzin Gyatso was chosen when, at the age of two in 1937, he correctly selected all items presented to him that had belonged to the recently deceased thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.

However, the Dalai Lama today believes his lineage is much older and that he is the seventy-fourth reincarnation that can be traced back to a Brahman boy who was given a crystal rosary by Buddha himself (567 BC- 484 BC).

Many Tibetans remain steadfastly loyal to the Dalai Lama and hold him in extremely high reverence which is a good reason why the Chinese won’t be stamping his passport anytime soon.

4. Longevity and The Quest for Immortality – Life extension has never been as popular as it is today.

In 2015, Google’s Sergey Brin announced that he was investing billions of dollars into his Project Calico, Google’s attempt to “cure death.”

In 1696, a monastic medical school was built upon the summit of Chakpori Hill in Lhasa.

In 1959, the Chinese destroyed it with artillery during the Tibetan Uprising claiming the Tibetans had posted a couple of cannons outside the school.

Some of the substances taught at Chakpori Hill reportedly had the ability to extend mortality far beyond that of the average human life span and at least two of them are in popular usage today.

Himalayan dried goji berries are readily available in health food stores and shopping chains such as Trader Joes and Whole Foods.

Li Qing Yuen subsisted mostly upon them (he also consumed ginseng, licorice root and gotu kola) and claimed that he was 267 years old when he died in 1930.

Shilajit is an ancient tar-like substance of vegetable origin that oozes from the rocks in the mountains of Tibet.

It has been reported to contain at least 85 minerals in ionic form, as well as triterpenes, humic acid and fulvic acid.

The ancient Vedic Hindu text, the Charaka Samhita (200 BC), claims there is no disease that cannot be cured by Shilajit.

5. The Sky Burial – On the flip side of immortality is death and the Tibetans have a unique method for dealing with the deceased.

The Sky Burial or Jhator was first mentioned in the 12th century Tibetan Book of the Dead. The ground in Tibet is too hard for traditional burial (solid rock or permafrost is only inches below the surface) and most of the country lies about the tree-line making traditional burial expensive and impractical.

Beginning at dawn, rogyapas (body-breakers) hack the deceased to pieces and then use rocks to pound the flesh and bones into a paste with tsampa (barley flour mixed with tea and yak butter) before lighting incense to summon hordes of giant Griffin vultures who swoop in to feast.

The immediate family may be present, but usually during a nighttime ceremony that does not include a view of watching their beloved reduced to mush.

Tibetan Buddhists believe the corpse is nothing but an empty vessel devoid of spirit and giving sustenance back to nature in this manner is an act of generosity that is essential to their beliefs.

The practice is in decline due to restrictions in urban areas and the diminishing number of Griffin vultures in Tibet.

David J Castello is the author of The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959)

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.

History Under Threat: Could We Be Near The End Of Street Markets In Hong Kong?

By Jessie Pang


The Millennial Intel In This Story: 
-The Central’s Graham Street Market has been in operation for 140 years.
-It has survived Japanese Occupation and decades of urban development but is now in danger of closing because its vendors are being priced out.
– The status of the market has raised questions about the survival of historical significant businesses in the ever modernizing Hong Kong.

It seems nothing has happened.

The Central’s Graham Street Market is still in operation normally ten months after the rumor that “Yesterday was its last day in operation.”

However, the disturbing noise coming from the adjacent construction field indicates that the wet market has been struggling against the city’s redevelopment plan.

The market has survived Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong and previous rounds of urban development for 140 years.

However, the redevelopment plan announced in 2007 by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has put it into the edge of sword.


“We are afraid that Graham Street will become another Lee Tung Street which have utterly been changed and had no relations with her history,” the spokesperson of Central and Western Concern Group Law Ngar-ning said. “We have discovered three heritage sites, which are believed to be built in late-19th century, within the Graham Street Market area, but they are not reported by the URA. They become extremely vulnerable and may be destroyed at any time.”

Concerns have arisen not only because of the historical values of the street market, but also the survival and relocation of those old residents.

“Although URA guarantees you will be able to find all daily necessities in the new market, the price will rise and the market won’t be as comprehensive as the original one,” said a 60-year-old property agent Mr Lai.

“Only 20 tenants can be relocated in the new market and the rent will be too expensive for them. It’s about $10,000 per inch but each shop is about 300 inches big.”

Currently, 11 vendors are willing to join the Local Fresh Food Shop Arrangement after the redevelopment.

They will have the priority to rent shop spaces at a retail block being built.

But they will have to give up ex-gratia business allowance worth about tens of thousands of dollars and are required to pay rent at market prices, according to the URA spokesman.


“What I say is useless. Nobody would bother listening to poor people like us,” Song Yin-wai, a 65-year-old stall owner said. “I don’t even know whether I would be relocated or not.”

Her stall named Marilyn mainly sells small electronic gadgets and women’s bags. Some small lights are switched on all the time to attract customers.

“I have been running this stall for more than ten years. In the past, it was easier to make profits. But now, fewer people are willing to stop by because of the ongoing construction sites and road maintenance,” Song said. “Sometimes the income is not even enough to cover the rent. I have lost around $2,000 for this month.”

Meanwhile, some remains positive towards the redevelopment plan.

“The redevelopment plan won’t affect me as my stall is not within the redevelopment area and won’t be relocated. Actually, it will attract more people to stop by and buy desserts from me,” Wong Tai-jie, a 70-year-old Chinese dessert stall owner said.

“The development plan is good for the community since the streets will become wider, safer, tidier and more hygienic,” said Wong Tze-nin, 24, one of the construction workers, “what’s more, two new residential buildings will also be built alongside the new commercial area.”

According to the URA website, the redevelopment plans will provide 293 residential flats and a total of 44,575 square meter commercial area. It will also include new community facilities for the public and more open space to serve as a green lung for the city.

Over the years, the URA has also taken various measures to maintain the vibrancy of the street market, such as market promotional campaigns, installing electric meters for stall operators and redesigning safer and user-friendlier stalls.

Although the future of Graham Street remains uncertain, the bargaining noise between the shopkeepers and residents tells you life goes on in spite of all the circumstances.

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. 

Photo Credits: Jessie Pang

For Democrats, Perception Is Reality. They Must Rid The Party Of Elitism

I lean to the left, voted for the Democrat, and wanted her to win.

I’m ashamed that the first black president will be succeeded by someone who led a racist birther movement and is supported by the KKK.

But despite the number of factors that lead to this election outcome, some of which are valid, many which are not, the Democratic Party largely has themselves to blame.

They dropped the ball.

The twist ending to this election is that what was supposed to be a civil war in the Republican Party is actually something that will certainty now take place in the Democratic Party.

Democrats need to recalibrate and figure out what happened, and what they stand for.

From my point of view, there are a number of things that need to be changed going forward.

I think Hillary Clinton would have made a fine President.

But the reality is that she was a truly awful candidate.

Her campaign will become the textbook “what not to do” for future campaigns.

The people around her cared more about protecting her than lifting her up and making her a successful candidate.

In an age where authenticity mattered, she was too scripted, and not human enough.

She carried enormous baggage, made many mistakes, and seemed out of touch with what the electorate was really feeling.

I support a DNC “drain the swamp” effort.

Replace everyone.

Get people who will follow a mandate, be fair, and not become an extension of another campaign.

A sticker found on a transformer box in Juneau, Alaska. Photo Credit: Ryan McFarland/ Flickr (Cc By 2.0)

A sticker found on a transformer box in Juneau, Alaska. Photo Credit: Ryan McFarland/ Flickr (Cc By 2.0)

The way Bernie Sanders was treated by the DNC was shameful.

The way the DNC tried to shoe in Clinton for the nomination is a disgrace.

Clinton was treated as the incumbent nominee by the party before the primaries even began.

The party forfeited a lively, spirited primary process with a number of interesting candidates to back an establishment candidate with enormous baggage and a likability problem.

Why they took the risk on an accomplished but incredibly flawed candidate, when it was so important to conserve President Obama’s progress for a new term, I will never understand.

It was status quo politics, elitism, and people are rightfully sick of that crap.

Clinton’s ideas were generally the right ideas.

She had vast knowledge of world and domestic issues that Trump does not have.

If that wasn’t clear before, it certainly will become so during his administration.

The problem was with communication and perception.

Perception is reality.

If there was one piece of advice I could offer to change this for democratic candidates in the future, it would be this:

Democrats, stay away from Hollywood.

Stay away from celebrities.

Stay away from elites.

Stop associating yourself with big money interests.

Appeal to the average working person that Trump intercepted.

It felt like every other week Clinton was having a celebrity fundraiser in Los Angeles or New York.

Celebrities don’t represent most people.

The Democratic Party needs to shed the perception that it is for elites and minorities only. Photo Credit: Georgia Democrats/ Flickr

The Democratic Party needs to shed the perception that it is for elites and minorities only. Photo Credit: Georgia Democrats/ Flickr

They don’t represent me.

Instead of taking the message to Wisconsin, which Clinton didn’t visit once as the nominee, and then lost, she chose to have a big money event with elites somewhere.

What a missed opportunity.

Wisconsin and Michigan should have been won.

And no one gives a shit about celebrity endorsements by the way.

We don’t care what Eva Longoria thinks about politics, or that Lena Dunham likes Clinton.

No one on the face of the earth should use a celebrity endorsement as a major factor in choosing a candidate.

Stop encouraging it.

No more $30,000 per plate dinners with George Clooney in the Hollywood Hills.

Clinton doesn’t need their money.

She had enough of her own.

No more concerts with Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, or Beyonce.

No one is impressed.

People are tired of elitism, and I am, too.

The bells and whistles do nothing, people just want someone who will listen to them.

Take the message to the people, and make clear that your interest is to stand up for them.

Michael Moore posted on Facebook that the Democratic Party needs to be returned to the people.

He’s right.

Moore has been right about this election all along.

Nearly everyone else wasn’t.

I’m optimistic real change will happen.

I think we are in for some major disillusionment about Trump, and in the meantime, the party will have the opportunity to fix the issues, re-evaluate their strategy, and come back stronger.

It needs to.

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.

Cover Photo Credit: Georgia Democrats/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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