August 10, 2018

Cleaning Up the Pacific Trash Vortex

In the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California there’s an enormous collection of debris, mainly plastic. The Pacific trash vortex, as it’s also called, is over twice the size of Texas! Disgusted by the amount of plastic in our oceans, Dutch inventor Boyan Slat is on a mission to clean them up. He created the Great Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that has received $31.5 million in donations. From this, several giant U-shaped boats were built to gradually get rid of the garbage patch.

The machine will float on the surface of the water while extending a nine-foot net down to trap plastic being pushed around by the ocean’s currents. Other boats will then come by and collect the plastic. Fish and other marine life will be able to swim through the nets.

While there is excitement for this venture, it’s also being met with criticism from some marine experts. Many feel that it’s counterproductive to focus on cleaning oceans instead of limiting our production of plastic, which usually end up being dumped into the ocean. However, the state of our oceans is so dire, others agree that it doesn’t hurt to try. The first boat will be dispatched September 8.

Japanese Medical School Lowered Women’s Scores

Japan’s top medical school has been lowering the entrance exam scores of its female applicants by as much as 20%. The story broke when a local newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, reported its findings and Tokyo Medical University admitted it after an investigation found truth in these allegations. Not only were women’s scores lowered, but men’s scores were raised by at least 20 points. According to a source, these actions were justified to protect Japan’s medical workforce.

The reasoning was that women often quit their jobs because of marriage and children after graduating medical school. With Japan’s dwindling supply of doctors, there was a “silent understanding” that a way to prevent the shortage was to accept more male students – despite female applicants demonstrating higher levels of competency. This sexist practice has received a lot of criticism and protests. There has been a push to get more women in the workforce, but deeply ingrained cultural norms make it difficult to achieve complete gender equality.

First Muslim Woman in Congress

Rashida Tlaib, after winning a democratic primary in Detroit, Mich., is on track to becoming the first Muslim woman to hold a seat in Congress. The daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Rashida beat out four other Democratic candidates. This year, there has been a rise in women running for Congress, especially women of color, from both parties. At least 182 female nominees are running for seats in the House.

Rashida is leading a progressive campaign. Her goals include providing Medicare for all and raising the minimum wage to $15 nationwide. She has shown support for the movement wanting to abolish ICE which has caused backlash from the right and division within the left. There have been more people within the left running as Democratic Socialists, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, causing friction with establishment Democrats. Now more than ever, we are starting to see more of the diversity that reflects our country in our Congress.