Chinese New Year Celebration

February 8, 2019 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year.  El Toro High School Chinese teacher Ms. Huang has been planning to bring the celebration into her classroom.

Weeks before New Year’s Eve in China, hundreds of millions of people board trains, planes and buses to visit family and celebrate the country’s most important holiday. The weather could turn bad and huge crowds could become stuck in train stations and airports, but nothing would stop the people from getting home.

The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner is called Reunion Dinner, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year.

Here at El Toro, with the increasing number of Asian students and popularity of Chinese classes, the Chinese New Year is a great event to look forward to.

El Toro’s one and only Chinese teacher, Ms. Huang, is planning a big celebration with her classes. She has been planning a field trip to China Town since the beginning of the year, but for now, her classes will settle on a party.

During this celebration, students will bring or make Chinese food themselves with the recipes they find. “The activity will also improve their abilities to research on their own,” said Ms. Huang.

The classroom has been decorated with red colors, including lanterns and couplets. Both are symbols of good luck during the upcoming year.

Students will learn to write couplets on red rectangle paper, which is an important Chinese tradition, and paste them on each side of a door. According to Ms. Huang, students will learn more Chinese characters while having fun.

This celebration creates a great environment for students to enjoy foreign culture in addition to learning the language.

America’s Wage Crisis

Source : HBR.org

Why is it that Northern European countries such as Germany seem to be so rich and we are still trillions of dollars in debt?

America’s economy is not progressing. Our funding is going to all the wrong places and to make matters worse, some of our politicians want to regress America back to the 1960s by repealing acts and legislations that were settled in the sixties.

According to the CIA World Factbook, we are about $390 billion in debt. That officially makes us the poorest country in the world. I must also mention that we still have over $17 trillion of external debt, which is the more debt than any other country.

Yes, we are poorer than Greece and Italy combined. Together, they have around $3 trillion of debt and both of their balances are positive, creating a positive balance of $43 billion. Compared to us, Italy and Greece seem to be prospering. Even Russia, with all its economic sanctions as a result of the Crimean Crisis, has a positive balance and less external debt than us.

So what exactly are we doing wrong? Why aren’t we progressing or working to get rid of our debt? I’m not going to blame Barack Obama for all this debt because he is trying his best to actually get rid of it. In fact, before George W. Bush became president, Bill Clinton ended his terms with an actual positive balance.

Since the beginning of American history, we have always been a step behind. We were the last of the more advanced countries to get rid of slavery and only recently have we made gay marriage accepted nationwide. When Canada had gay rights in 2005, we had the “Don’t ask Don’t Tell” Act, basically restricting gays from coming out. The only redeeming quality of this act was it decreased violence towards gays, as no one was allowed to ask about it.

Even in terms of women’s rights, black rights, and the right to have an abortion, we were always behind other countries.

However, although we lack progress and are in terrible debt, it is still very impressive that we have managed to get this far considering we are such a young nation of only 240 years. We are expected to be this great, rich place, where dreams can happen, but we are far from it.

People immigrate to America only to be given minimum wage jobs, discrimination, and no benefits whatsoever. They have nothing. No shelter, no healthcare, no money. Yes, you can make it big in America, but the chances of it is nearly impossible. People of color, in addition to women, have to work so much harder than the average white man to make any money.

The situation is so bad here that the middle class has basically disappeared. 51% of American workers make less than thirty thousand dollars per year according to Michael Snyder of the Washington Blog. What’s even worse, though, according to Snyder, is that 38% are making less than $20,000 per year. That means 38% of American adults are only receiving minimum wage jobs.

The way the economy works is that if the people are richer (and not just the 1% who get 99% of the money), then the economy is richer, but with these conditions, our economy is only going to worsen. No one in the lower class (which now makes up 51% of America) is able to get money because everything is too expensive due to inflation and low paychecks.

With less money, fewer people can afford stocks and bank interest rates will stay low. The worst part is, the working class with the least amount of money are working the hardest of all in their often back-breaking, manual labor, minimum wage jobs.

In order to save our economy and improve our great nation, the rich must give to the poor – not just any rich person, but only the business owners by raising their minimum wage to a liveable wage. Currently, these wages basically starve employees.

“Do I pay the rent or do I buy food for myself?” It’s one or the other. Those are decisions that three-fourths of minimum wage workers are asking themselves. Isn’t it sad that three quarters of minimum wage workers are adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, and yet, they don’t make enough money to keep a small one bedroom apartment and feed themselves?

There are families with children whose parents make less than a hundred dollars. They have to provide for not only children, but also keep their houses/apartments and be able to provide enough food for their children. Even single mothers and fathers somehow have to live on this starvation wage, which cannot support themselves or their family.

Something is wrong with society when businesses don’t provide their employees enough to buy their basic necessities, especially when many of them have families.

Then again, higher wages would cost the businesses and the consumers even more. With higher wages, employers are required to spend more money on keeping their employees and as a result, they have to raise their prices.

But think about this: consumers are able to afford the products they buy whereas the employees can’t oftentimes which is why they took the job. Also, the business owners, if successful, get all the profits from everything that they sell, at least in places that don’t offer a commission. Therefore, it really isn’t too much of a problem for the companies to raise wages a couple bucks, is it?

Although, when the wages are higher, more taxes are put on the employer and the employees for those few extra bucks. Then, people start losing their jobs or in the least the benefits that came with it. Also, if the smaller businesses did not have a lot of money to begin with, a high increase in wages could be absolutely detrimental.

The economy is always changing, however, and so are the demands, so a wage hike isn’t the only cause of a failing business and a loss of jobs. As the economy rollercoasters up and down constantly, there are always going to be people losing their jobs and places going out of business. And as demand changes, some businesses cannot cater to the people’s needs anymore while others rise up in the market, selling millions.

As for tax increase, successful companies, especially ones that make it into the Fortune 500, aren’t really affected by it. These big corporations could continue hiring workers and give their employees raises and the only result would be that they didn’t make as much money as they did last year.

Still, the taxes also increase for the employees. An employee who used to have a 15% tax taken out of their paycheck could now have a 20% tax taken out. However, one of the Democratic presidential candidates plans on giving these employees a tax break, so they could truly make more wages.

Regardless, wage increases could also be done by increasing earned-income tax credits, which is basically money earned by people who make lower wages. It is a bit of a strain on the federal government, but at least, neither the corporations, nor the employees suffer.

Oren Cass of the New York Times who wrote an article titled “A Smarter Way to Raise Paychecks,” however, believes that if the government redirects some of its funds from lesser effective anti-poverty plans and creates a subsidy which would pay people by the hour based on how much they work. It could help low wage earners get more money without having more taxes added onto the workers’ paychecks, nor making the businesses lose profits.

Cass further said in his article, “from the workers’ perspective, this policy looks much like a minimum wage increase. From the economy’s perspective, it looks like the earned-income tax credit,” meaning that both the corporations and the employees will be happy.

In order to progress, make our people richer, and happier, this is what we have to do. Without these actions, we will continue to be halted in our progression. Hopefully, some of us could make a difference, become politicians, part of Congress, hold strikes, or become political activists ourselves.

It’s Up To You, New York, New York

Hypothetical situation: a girl decides to move across the country from sunny Orange County to chilly New York. Let’s also say she’s never been to New York and knows absolutely no one and nothing about the city that never sleeps. She doesn’t have much in terms of savings, but let’s just say she doesn’t need to worry about paying for college–which is the main reason for moving there. There are two main things she needs to worry about: cost of living and culture shock.

For all intents and purposes, we’ll say this girl gets a job as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk which plays a not-too-shabby $25 and hour. She works five hours every day, six days a week. She’s getting around $3,000 a month, which is fantastic because it just so happens she found a nice 700 sq. foot apartment less than a mile away from her college of choice in Brooklyn. Running at $1,745 a month, this 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment includes heating and water and comes with a fridge and an oven. It’s perfect.

Let’s say the electric bill is around $100 a month and food is roughly $300, life insurance is $50. Let’s also throw in a cable/internet/phone bundle that’s about $85 a month. Now we know she’s going to have places to go – she is a working girl. In this city, not having a car isn’t much of an issue since the traffic is horrendous. So let’s factor in that she’ll need a Metrocard, which is a monthly paid pass for buses and the subway which comes to around $120 a month.

After all of these expenses, this rings up to $2400 a month, which leaves her $600 for anything else. It’s doable, as long as she has a high paying job and can juggle school and work while living in a city nicknamed the “City That Never Sleeps.”

Speaking of the “City That Never Sleeps,” the New York lifestyle is wayyy different than that of Southern California. Californians are “chill” and laid back. They live a slow-paced life. New York is the opposite – it’s fast-paced, busy, and always buzzing with activity. Everyone has a place to go. California has In-N-Out, New York has various dollar pizza joints.

SoCal weather seems to be an endless summer and sometimes spring. New York has every single season. It’s a different atmosphere. It has relaxed people with nowhere to go versus busy people with places to be and people to see. The culture shock is inevitable.

Our hypothetical girl grew up in a place where people are mostly calm and not busy, so going somewhere that is the exact opposite is life changing in the best possible way. Hopefully this inspires her to work and never stop working. Seeing people always going places and doing something might drive her in a way SoCal never could.

Amazon Released Most Popular Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird to Honor Harper Lee

To honor the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee, who died on February 19, 2016, Amazon released the passages in To Kill a Mockingbird that are most frequently highlighted on Kindle e-readers.

  • “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
  • “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
  • “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
  • “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
  • “There are just some kind of men who—who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”
  • “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—” “Sir?” “—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Movie Review: Miss You Already

Warning: This movie will make you cry and call your best friend and tell her/him they’re not allowed to die.

Miss You Already is the story of two best friends who have been through literally everything together since they were kids. Jess, played by Drew Barrymore, is trying to get pregnant while her best friend Milly, played by Toni Collette, is battling breast cancer.

This is a movie you would want to go see with your best friend so you can hold their hand the whole time. Oh and don’t forget tissues, you’ll need them.

“Miss You Already was a fantastic movie that I’d definitely see again, if it wasn’t for all the tears. Drew Barrymore nails the role of a woman who just wants her best friend to get better and someone who doesn’t want to rub her pregnancy in her dying best friend’s face. She’s so happy, but she’s worried that the news will only bring down Milly.

Toni Collette does a great job at playing a mom who is battling breast cancer. She really brings to life the stages of acceptance, and just wanted one last hurrah.

This movie is definitely one to see. Afterward you may slightly regret your choice, but it is a great movie. This movie will make you really appreciate your best friends and make you want to tell them how much you love them and never want them to die on you.

“Kendall & Kylie”

So most of you have probably heard of the KIM KARDASHIAN: Hollywood app by now, right? Well, now Kim’s half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, have made an app (KENDALL & KYLIE) featuring themselves with a goal to help you out in your fashion and hairstyle career in sunny California.

As of February 21, I have started playing this app, and at first, I really didn’t expect much from it. I mean, what can these reality TV and internet stars create that won’t be some sort of stupid meme? After playing it, however, my opinion entirely changed.

Even in the first five minutes of playing, I was already hooked on this app with its drama, features, well-thought out (for the most part) characters, and representation.

Firstly, inside this app is a fake version of Instagram. You can make your own fake username and an account and share it to your nonexistent followers. In other apps like this, I haven’t really seen something so detailed.

A picture of my character's "Instagram."

A picture of my character’s “Instagram” from the app.

You can take selfies whenever and wherever you want and then post them on your “Instagram,” but if you were so inclined, you could even post it on your real Facebook and Instagram accounts. Kylie and Kendall will even post generic videos and text for you on their “Instagrams” to get you more followers.

But also, the app comes with a cell phone. It’s cell phone-ception. You send a pre-written text from your cellphone in the game while using your app with your real cell phone. The detail and work which was put into this game really shows.

Not to mention how the storyline starts out. You move to Santa Monica with your friend, Emily Sun, to start a new career. She gives you a job with the help of her boss, Gretta, at a salon. Then, you are introduced to the antagonist, a guy named Logan whose mother has a grudge against the salon owner.

It continues to spiral into so much drama as you find out that Perry, another one of your best friends, actually used to date Logan. I don’t want to give away much more, but this app and its storyline were very entertaining to me.

There are also so many different types of people. Just to name a few, there are gay, straight, black, white, Asian, etc. Plus, you can choose to make your character whatever you want as well. Even more interesting characters show up the further you get into the app.

In fact, it doesn’t even seem like Kylie and Kendall are even the biggest stars in the app. Their purpose seems to be limited to helping you along your journey.

I would entirely recommend downloading this app, because it really is quite amusing. The developers seem like they put a lot of time into the features, as well quite some time into the dramatic story.

This app exposes teens to all sorts of people, so it could help teens become more open since Kendall and Kylie portrayed all their non-playable characters as normal, interesting, likeable, and somewhat believable people.

Spread of the Zika Virus

The Zika virus hasn’t been seen as harmful until recently. It was discovered in Uganda in 1947 and caused small outbreaks in bordering countries as well as Asia. This sporadic outbreak has affected millions of individuals and thousands of babies. With flu-like symptoms, those who are mostly affected by the virus are pregnant women.

Zika causes serious birth defects and affects the brain development in fetuses, which is called microcephaly. Babies born with this eye-opening virus have irregularly small heads and underdeveloped brains.

Although microcephaly could be caused by genetics or environmental causes, such as alcohol and drug use, the virus differs because it attacks the fetus repeatedly, which occurs throughout all three trimesters.

Unfortunately, scientists haven’t discovered any new information about the virus and how to cure it but believe that Zika could be linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a disorder in which your immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling throughout the body is a major sign caused by the disorder, but can escalate to paralysis. Those infected could suffer from the syndrome temporarily or permanently; sadly there is no way to predict it.

While fear continues to grow and linger, scientist, patients, and families hope to find a cure to save thousands of lives.

The Attacks on Culture: When Terrorists Attack Our Centers of Western Culture

The shootings in Paris were more than what they seem and more than what most believe them to be: they were attacks on Western culture and inspiration. They  were not focused on a train station or an airport; they were at a concert and a soccer match. We are shown that the places we find safe, most secure, and open with our emotions, are not truly safe.

Source : NPR

Yes these attacks were tragedies for the victims involved and the world in total, but this points to a deeper and scarier underlying fact, which is that these people wish to inspire fear into the world through making us not want go out and be free and have fun and be happy. They want to make people afraid of doing what they love most, whether that be sports or music or the movies.

 

This isn’t the first time a center of culture has been pinpointed by someone for no reason other than hate. Many people remember the attacks on the midnights showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora Colorado by college student James Holmes. This made many people scared and even afraid of going to the movies. Violence like this is made to scare the public into not doing what they want and to make them feel unsafe in their everyday activities. With the recent Paris attacks by ISIS in an international soccer match and a concert, people may stop attending events such as these altogether.

 

The use of this fear method is not a new concept to terrorists everywhere. Boko Haram in Northern Africa has used this tactic in recent events like kidnapping children from schools and killing innocent villagers who are caught in their power struggle. ISIS has used this tactic mainly in the middle east to gain control of key areas and towns. They have used this tactic internationally, causing fear among westerners who only the week before may have believed they were untouchable by ISIS.

 

The idea that by not attending events that are central to the western culture (sports, music, and film) would stop terrorists from attacking in another area is incorrect. No matter what you do in your life there are inherent dangers and possibilities of getting hurt. That doesn’t mean you should change the way you live your life and the events you attend.

Toyota Phasing Out Gas Cars In Favor of Hydrogen

Toyota is forming plans to phase out gasoline and diesel-based cars in favor of hydrogen cars, a new science in the car manufacturing industry. The plans, although tentative, are expected to be completed by 2020,and they will be the only manufacturer and brand creating and dealing hydrogen-fueled cars, also known as fuel cell vehicles.

 

There is however, criticism in regards to Toyota’s plans. Hydrogen as fuel is a relatively new concept in the industry, and 2020 is only four years away; to perfect the technology may take even longer. Competing with battery-electric cars will be a challenge as well; electricity is a ready source while hydrogen-as-fuel must be produced, and the production is costly.

 

They also face another problem that could could arise if Toyota began manufacturing only hydrogen-fueled cars: their consumer base would diminish because there is no promise of the widespread implementation of hydrogen-fuel renewal sources, especially in a manner of only four years. As of 2013, there are only ten hydrogen refueling stations for vehicles in the state of California, the state that Toyota makes most of its sales.

 

The first hydrogen vehicle was the Toyota Mirai, revealed in the November 2014 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It began being sold commercially at the end of 2014 in Japan, and as of September 2015, in California.

Interesting Dogs of the World

“Man’s best friend” although a common household pet, is a unique animal that has been making news headlines for individuality and acts of bravery and loyalty. These three dogs, Levi, Quasimodo, and Petra are no exceptions.

 

Levi

A three legged dog, Levi saved his owners during a home invasion in Wisconsin. An armed robber made his way into the home of Darcy Cherry, and then made her and her boyfriend get on the ground. The armed intruder then demanded money from the couple. Levi proceeded to bark and growl at the intruder, and as a result, the beloved canine was shot. The bullet grazed his head and lodged in his shoulder. The suspect is still on the loose as of the 28th of January.

Levi originally lost his leg on a hike with the family in 2014. He suffered from a fall that shattered his leg bones, resulting in an amputation.

 

Quasimodo

 

Quasimodo the German Shepherd, born with short spine syndrome, is a unique and very interesting K9! He currently lives in Kentucky but is looking for a home. As of the 29th of January, Quasi is functioning at an almost “normal” level, but is going through more tests so we can find out more about his condition. Because of Quasi’s physical structure, all of his organs are literally jammed into his midsection.

 

quasimodo

 

Petra

Petra, a stray dog located in Athens, Greece, was found April of last year with her face completely hardened. Rescuing her was an extremely hard task. Petra had seemingly never interacted with anyone and would run away at the mere sight of a person approaching. She was treated for many infections, skin lesions, and mange. The kindhearted people who helped restore Petra’s health, although not easily done, have helped her make a complete recovery and she is now “a completely different dog” according to Valia Orfanidou.

Before:  petra before

After:    petra after