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It seems just about everybody is becoming vegan these days. People are becoming more conscious of just how bad certain foods can be for us, including red meat and processed meats. Not only that, animals are rarely treated well and pumped full of chemicals, so when we eat them we’re not being as healthy as we think we are, or as ethical.

So, you know veganism is where a person doesn’t eat any animal products whatsoever. They don’t eat meat, but unlike many vegetarians, they don’t eat milk or eggs either. They don’t eat any products containing byproducts of these things either, so they won’t eat honey, sweets with gelatine, and the list goes on. To some this may seem extreme, but to many, it’s a way of finally giving powerless animals a voice. People like Wayne Pacelle work hard to make sure animals finally have a voice.

But what is selective veganism? This is where you eat a vegan diet the majority of the time, but occasionally allow yourself some eggs and dairy. Similar to a flexitarian, who eats a vegetarian diet most of the time but allows occasional meat or fish if they really want it. To those who are hardcore vegans, this might seem like a cop out. But to others, it could be the perfect middle ground. Becoming vegan might not be an option for some right now, but selective veganism might just be the diet of the future. Here’s why…

Don’t Turn Down Free Food

One of the hardest things to do, however you eat, is turning down free food. Let’s say someone brings you a coffee to work, or makes cupcakes for the whole office. Turning them down doesn’t always feel great, and can make the person who bought it feel bad. Although this isn’t always a reason to compromise your values, some instances might be worth loosening up a little.

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Less Likely To Develop Disordered Eating

If you’re prone to develop disordered eating, or you have experienced issues with eating all your life, selective veganism allows you to be as healthy as possible while still living a balanced life. As no foods are really off limits, you are less likely to get into a negative mindset about food. Your mental health should always come first.

Distance Yourself From Hardcore Vegans

Many vegans are great people. Some are great people but are hardcore in their approach to the way of life. Some cry when their family members eat meat in front of them. Some can be argumentative. The key to being vegan is spreading the love, being open about your reasons and letting people make their own decisions. It isn’t your job to force anybody or make them feel bad by name calling and crying. With selective veganism, others can relate to you and might just take up a more ethical stance too when they see they don’t have to give up everything.

You’re Still Helping

No matter what some hardcore vegans will tell you, you’re still doing your bit to help. It isn’t anybody’s job to be perfect. As long as you’re helping, you can feel good!

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Did ‘Serial’ Bring Justice?

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Nearly three years ago, a weekly podcast became a smash-hit and the precursor to media justice series – like the Netflix series Making A Murderer. They had the same case, a man jailed for murder, but there would always be more than meets the eye.

Serial, released by Sarah Koenig and a bunch of producers from the team at This American Life heralded a new age of podcasting and the second ‘podcasting’ boom kicked off – we’re still enjoying the golden age of podcasts right now. Serial ran for two seasons, and while there is talk of a third, it is the first season that will likely live long in the memory.

The very first season of Serial depicted the incarceration of Adnan Syed after the death of Hae Min Lee. In 1999, Hae Min Lee, a high school student, disappeared in Maryland. After a month, her corpse was found in a park, having been strangled to death. A suspect was identified in 17-year-old Adnan Syed, Hae Min Lee’s ex-boyfriend. Syed was arrested, and within a year, Syed was sentenced to life in prison. Syed was damned by the testimony of his best friend, Jay. Jay described, in vivid detail how he had helped Syed bury Hae Min Lee in the Park. Adnan was jailed, and Serial follows this case and Adnan’s plea that he had nothing to do with Hae Min Lee’s death.

Sarah Koenig, during the production of Serial, interviewed Adnan Syed for the podcast and the tale is slowly unraveled. Syed’s first trial was put to bed as a mistrial, but the following court case saw Syed imprisoned for life. Koenig took an impartial view to the trial and found a lot of worrying information, despite refusing to take Adnan’s side.

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One of the biggest worries to Koenig was the racial side of the trial. The prosecution made the case that Adnan was going to be smuggled to Pakistan and after a dispute with Hae Min Lee, he performed an ‘honor’ killing. This view could have easily stirred up an anti-Islamic sentiment in the court and within the jury. Certain aspects of the case only seem to arise because of Syed’s religion and race. A criminal defense attorney would have struggled to fight back against such a case put forward and would have found it hard to defend Adnan because of this. Add Jay’s testimony and a bunch of erratic witness accounts and you’ve got an entire case built to setup Adnan Syed.

Serial doesn’t argue for Syed to be released, but for a fair trial to take place. A man was jailed based on circumstantial evidence and a number of biased witness accounts. Thanks to the success of Serial, Adnan Syed has been granted a new trial, meaning the previous trial will not stand. Adnan Syed – right now – is still in jail, but cannot be declared a murderer until his new trial takes place later this year. Justice? It doesn’t always have to be a verdict, but a chance to do a court case once again, but by the book of the law.

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Culture and Lifestyle

Escaping Your Addiction For Something Safer

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The modern world is awash with addiction. In day to day life, loads of people use chemicals to make their day easier. And, a lot of the time, these sorts of substances are looked at as being normal simply because so many people use them. Modern living presents new addictions thanks to the Internet, too. With people struggling to stop spending; thousands of people each year are falling into debt because of addictions. Thankfully, though, where you have an addiction; you usually have a solution. But, it won’t be easy. You’re going to have to put in some work.

One of the greatest examples of digital addiction comes with social media. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have millions of active users. These services allow people to connect with others through message-board-like structures. People trade likes and follows, making themselves feel important and popular. As time goes on, this leads to people spending most of their time on websites like this. And, unfortunately, there’s only one way to fix this sort of tendency; through seeing people in real life. Instead of dedicating time to social media, you should be spending it on arranging seeing friends. This is how humans are meant to socialise; and, it’s something that’s much more healthy to be addicted to.

Next, comes something a little more serious. Gambling has plagued people’s lives for hundreds of years. But, now it’s easier than ever to throw away your money from the comfort of your own home. Online casinos have sprung up on all of the corners of the Internet. These sites allow you to play games like you would in a casino; only the board and other players are digital. Thankfully, these games are usually playing on the satisfaction you get from winning. And, the very same feeling can be found in competitive video games; like DOTA 2 and Overwatch. This is a much more cost-effective way to get that winner’s rush.

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One of the most addictive substances within modern societies is nicotine. And, most people get their fix from smoking. Unfortunately, though, smoking is very bad for you. Not only does it damage your lungs and throat; but, it also makes it more likely that you will have heart problems, too. E-cigarettes have been proven to be safer than cigarettes. And, they’re just as safe as other nicotine replacements. Getting your hands on something like this is just a matter of visiting a website or two. Just make sure that you read some reviews.

Over 90% of Americans are addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rates and makes you consume your body’s resources a little quicker. This gives you a rush of energy. People use this substance to help them through the day. If you’re drinking coffee; it’s not so bad. But, if you like to drink carbonated drinks, including energy drinks; it’s best to find a healthier alternative.

Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of the modern addictions that are easy to slip into. Of course, there are addictions that you should fear more. But, these are much more rare in most places. So, you don’t have to be too worried.

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Culture and Lifestyle

How Migration, Loss of Cultural Autonomy and Political Sovereignity can Impact Societal Security

Alexandra Goman

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Migration is a right deportation is a crime

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National conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Transylvania and the former Soviet Union have triggered re-definition of the traditional concept of security. If before security was viewed from the military point of view, now it gets more complicated. Today’s threats are not just military but also social. They concern questions of identity and internal balance of a state.

The newly emerged states after the collapse of the Soviet Union chose to pursue the European Union. Its increased integration within the EU led to “decoupling of state and nation” (Waever et al 1993, p. 23) and posed a threat to national constituencies. This desire to pursue a post-sovereign nation-state was due to internationalization process (as well as Europeanization). As higher international institutions take power over the domestic affairs, people feel threatened by this and cannot ask for help their government. Thus, if decoupling is not possible, new conflicts emerge (e.g. as it happened in Yugoslavia). In this sense, weak states are usually not prepared to deal with differences in culture and identity.

Societal insecurities happen when a society questions its own survival. The loss of political sovereignty, the loss of cultural autonomy (e.g. Euroscepticism in regards to EU integration) and migration are the main threats to the national identity. In contrast to the national security, societal security does not depend on the territory. A specific attention is drawn to the problems of migration, minorities and multiculturalism. This resembles the ideas of Huntington in the “Clash of Civilizations?” (See Huntington 1993).

For example, migration has impact on common identity and culture. It has an ability to alter the composition of the population linguistically, ethnically, culturally and religiously. Meanwhile the cultural diversity is welcomed to some extent, until it penetrates norms and traditions. However, migration is a question of numbers. That is why the recent migration crisis sparked tensions among the countries, accepting the refugees. It has the possibility to prevent the society “to reproduce itself in the old way” (Buzan 1991). In the age of the human rights and tolerance, the questions of race, religion and culture are becoming quite tricky.

Migration itself in the recent years has been becoming easier. Transportation and travel is not a matter of concern anymore. Determined young people are ready for anything in search of a better life. If in the last centuries there were migrating Europeans, now the flow usually comes from the South-Eastern side, from less developed countries to developed ones. It is impossible to avoid the clashes of civilizations, especially considering the numbers.

In the UK, for instance, the Arabs, who came to the country long time ago, are now not only following their traditions and preserving their culture, but also gaining more power at the political level. In Latvia there is an issue with the Russian-speaking population, who are trying to preserve their language and culture. Similar situation is in Pakistan, which shares different kind of cultures and identities. Many more countries are trying to deal with their minorities, and now there is unprecedented influx of refugees, fleeing the countries from the conflicts. Inevitably, this should be taken into consideration when talking about security. It is also clear that this societal element is interconnected with other types of security, particularly with military and political.

Some people view migration as a threat; others try to be more optimistic about it. Some states try to defend themselves by controlling migration flows and constructing legal and physical barriers; others are welcoming migrants and offering them entitlements. At any case, this societal security approach gave the beginning to a new branch of security, called “the identity security” (qtd in Buzan, Hansen 2009, p. 213). This security primarily focuses on the cases where the state and its societies do not align, for example the cases of minorities facing their governments.

Interestingly enough, as far back as 1987 a clear rivalry between the West and other periphery societies was noted in academia. What the West does is it constructs the image of others as underdeveloped, uncivilized, authoritative, poor, so this impacts the status of the country and the attitude towards it. Of course, the advancement of the West influenced the weaker opponents, expanding concepts, ideas and Western styles. It has an ability to threaten local customs and identities. In contrast, Islam is thought capable of expanding as another form of collective culture (See Buzan 1991).  

Not only development played the role in this Western-based representation, but also the historic events of the XX century. Back then, the West became the main writer of the history, using West-centered approach. For example, the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact condemns actions of the Soviet Union and Germany. Yet, another agreement is rarely discussed, – the Munich Agreement of 1938, signed by France and the United Kingdom, permitting Germany to annex Czechoslovakia. Having more resources to transmit information, the West could draw attention to certain facts. Even now the Western capabilities are far greater than the rest to expand its culture, political ideas and identity. Not surprisingly, other countries might not like it.

Now there is an obvious confrontation between the West and Russia (similarly as with Islam). It is also the case that the negative image is being constructed by the West in order to reach its political objective. Likewise, Russia answers with the similar pattern, targeting the West instead. Here one can see a societal element in it and how it is linked to the national security. After the Cold War, it was Buzan who suggested that another kind of the Cold War was possible: he called it “a Societal Cold War”. Now, 26 years after, it sounds quite true.

Today’s conflicts are more about cultural, identity, and civilizational clashes. This is why it is important to recognize importance of cultures and identities (and languages! As they lead right to the heart of understanding another culture | linguistic remark) and strive to achieve a balance between them. Once it is there, well…

References:

Buzan, B. (1991). “New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century”, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 63:3, 431-451.

Buzan, B., Hansen, L. (2009). The Evolution of International Security Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huntington, S. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, 72:3, pp. 22-49.

Waever, O., Buzan, B., Kelstrup, M., & Lemaitre, P. (1993). Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe. Lonon: Pinter.

 

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