Sewol Ferry Sinks off the Coast of South Korea

By Dara Kenigsberg

April 16, 2014 marked a somber day for South Korea. What began as a routine trip to Jeju, a resort island considered to be the Hawaii of Korea, ended in tragedy when the Sewol ferry sank off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, leaving 302 people either dead or missing. 325 of the passengers were students from Danwon High School attending a field trip for school. Just before 9 a.m., an unidentified crew member contacted local maritime traffic control, and asked them to notify the Coast Guard that they were sinking. Within 30 minutes the ferry was already at an angle of 50 degrees, yet they had told the passengers to stay where they were. They did not follow protocol and because of this, many lives were lost that could have been saved.

Captain Moon Ye-shik was at the helm of the first ship to arrive to aid with the rescue. He told CNN, “The ship was listing (badly), 30 to 40 degrees. It was in such a bad condition, anyone would assume evacuation was well underway.” 20 minutes after the first SOS, when Moon and his crew were 200 meters away and ready to deploy life rafts, he radioed with a crewmember on the Sewol and advised him to tell the passengers to escape. According to CNN, “A full ten minutes later the [crewmember] was still asking — ‘if we escape, can they be rescued?’” In emergencies, the captain of the ship should be the one on the radio because he has more experience and knows what to do in these situations. However, the captain was nowhere to be found because he had already escaped, leaving behind in danger all of his passengers.   



The captain of the Sewol, Lee Joon-seok, has been charged with abandoning his boat, causing bodily injury, negligence for not seeking rescue from other ships and for violating the country’s marine law, the Rescue and Aid at Sea and in the River Act. 14 other crewmembers have also been arrested and are being held, along with the captain, in Mopko prison. On April 28, South Korean officials arrested three more people on suspicion of destroying evidence. They also raided a Coast Guard office due to the speculation that the first emergency call was mishandled. According to CNN, “Investigators are looking into possible dereliction of duty.”

A teenage boy who died on the ferry had shot a cellphone video of his final minutes. It was recovered with the memory card intact, along with his body and returned to his father, who then turned the clip over to South Korean national TV network JTBC. In it, you can hear the final words of some of the passengers, “Why can’t they tell us what’s going on?” “Wow, it’s tilting a lot. We’re tilting to this side. Can’t move.” “You think I’m really gonna die?” The clip also captured the orders coming through the ferry’s loudspeakers, “Once again, please do not move from your current location,” a voice says. “Absolutely do not move.”  ^Ed Note: The confirmed death toll currently stands at 242.

OYB: Dumbo, Brooklyn

By Dana Heyward

DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is certainly more than just an acronym. This waterfront neighborhood is home to a number of gutted warehouses and factories, bakeries, galleries and boutiques nestled between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  Whether you’re looking to buy some Swedish furniture, find your new favorite contemporary artist or just lay and unwind by the East River, DUMBO is your place.

Front Street is home to a number of small businesses ranging from women’s clothing boutiques, unusual furniture stores and old fashioned candy shops. The Shops on Front Street carry a number of small jewelry shops, specialty bath stores, showrooms and even a barbershop.

Right next to the Shops is Dewey’s Candy. If your sweet tooth allegiance is to places like Dylan’s Candy Bar or It’s Sugar, you should give Dewey’s a shot. Once you enter, you’re met with a lollipop chandelier that sits above all the candy your heart could ever desire. Candy is stored in buckets and glass Mason jars to give you a vintage candy shop feel and offer selections that either remind you of your own childhood or your grandparents’. While it’s a little pricey, it’s definitely worth it and the highlight of any trip to Brooklyn.

The Front General Store is a charming little boutique that sits right next to Dewey’s. If you like stores like Saturdays NYC and low-key still-like Urban Outfitters, you’ll probably love this store too!  While it primarily sells men’s streetwear clothing, the store also offers a number of botanicals, hardware and a variety of vintage items. The boutique’s decor is charming but the strong musky scent that fills the store is a remnant of its vintage store provenance; the attempt to cloak that smell in heavy cologne is, frankly, not that successful. In addition to the numerous shops on Front Street that could take hours to scurry through, the various cross streets of cobblestone streets also provide incredible views of the bridges and Manhattan skyline.  

While you may be yearning for the praiseworthy Grimaldi’s Pizza, just know that it’s a bit of a tourist trap. Instead head to Front Street Pizza for some authentic eats. This handmade pizza place has numerous toppings and at a reasonable price. Once you feel like you’re through with Front Street, don’t head to the Brooklyn Bridge Park just yet! Right on the corner of Water Street is One Girl Cookie. While their miniature desserts are definitely the main attraction, the bakery also offers a select wine and beer menu and free Wi-Fi.  After purchasing your mini treats, you can finally proceed to the park.

You probably can’t say that you have really ever viewed Manhattan until you’ve seen it from across the river. You can relax while laying on the grass or opt to make your way to the beach area to take in the sometimes overwhelming city, from a new viewpoint.

At the center of the park is Jane’s Carousel. The carousel was created in 1922 and sits right alongside the East River, giving some incredible views of the Manhattan skyline. It  has been restored and fitted with watertight panels to prevent future storm damage since the tragic devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But something about the carousel gave me weird, “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?” vibes (childhood memories I don’t feel like re-living), so I kept my distance, but if that’s you’re thing, by all means. Once you’ve soaked up the view and all that DUMBO has to offer, take the opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, especially if you never have. It’s not as daunting as it may seem.

All in all, DUMBO is the ideal spot for those summer days to spend with friends or the family. You can go on a gallery crawl, buy a Swedish couch, indulge in some cookies and ride a carousel in the quaint neighborhood tucked underneath the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. 

(photo: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/dumbo-neighborhood-in-brooklyn-randy-aveille.html)

FIT Speaks - Is Digital Really Greener?

By Yesica Balderrama

Digital publishing is championed as being the greener alternative to print. Less printing means less paper, trees are spared, and CO2 emissions decrease, right? What about the energy used to make digital devices? The energy consumed while using the digital devices? What happens to the devices we discard? Neither print nor web is better than the other when it comes to preserving the environment. Print and web publications are produced and consumed differently and have different effects on the environment. Print involves ink, plates, plant emissions, print production and disposal, while digital involves content production, electricity and devices.

Digital publishing has grown rapidly over the past few years. Mobile, tablet and web design provide new platforms for publishing and information can be accessed from any place at any time. Established publications are transitioning to reach newer and broader audiences, but this is hardly the first time print was threatened by another medium. Before the Internet, there was television, radio, telephone and the phonograph.. According to an article by Octave Uzanne titled, “The End of Books,” the latter was expected to replace printing in 1894. Two centuries later, print has survived, and it is unlikely print will ever completely vanish or be replaced.

 

Trees are destroyed to make paper, but electronic devices are made from toxic materials discarded into the environment and require electricity to run. Devices contain beryllium, mercury, tin, cadmium, polyvinyl chloride and lead. They release harmful hydrocarbons and dioxins, which cause health and pollution problems. The waste is then dumped in other countries, largely in Guiyu, China. Workers in these electronic dumping grounds scour the waste to disassemble it, or to recapture parts.

Since digital publishing is acquiring a negative stigma, print publishing appears to be a lesser of two evils. Paper is one of the most recycled materials in the world. Environmental organizations are spreading awareness, encouraging recycling and regulating resources, among them the American Tree Farm System and the Sustainable Forest Initiative, which aims to preserve forests. There are now vegetable-based inks and recycling solvents to reduce waste.

 

The amount of energy saved depends on factors such as the amount of energy used to produce the material, and the time spent using it. Web, in contrast to print, can decrease the amount of energy consumed. Reading an hour of print produces 28-kilograms of CO2, compared to the 35-kilograms of CO2 that result from an hour on the web. The same amount of energy used to make 200-kilograms of paper,which is the average amount consumed per person, powers a computer for five months.

Perhaps it is the portable convenience of digital devices that makes us less conscientious. When we use books we have to acknowledge the space and weight they occupy, how much paper was used, and what materials were used to make it. When we throw away paper, we have to see how much of it was thrown away, but we cannot see how many web pages we have read in our hands or how many hours a week we charged our laptops and cell phones. Throwing away a small cell phone is not as heart wrenching as is a stack of last semester’s printouts, which can at least be placed in the recycle bin.

The process is purchase, use and discard. It is easy to click, plug and connect on a daily basis without thinking of how much energy we are using. Newer cellphones, tablets and devices are produced annually, and it is hard not to get carried away with having the latest iPhone or gadget. The current lifespan for a cell phone is less than two years, and the average lifespan of a laptop is two years. More is being produced and wasted every year.

So what can be done? The efforts to reduce print waste are working, and the goal has shifted to reducing electronic waste. How? Reducing the energy used to make and use them, using recyclable or non-toxic materials to manufacturing electronic devices and improving quality to make them durable and longer lasting. On an individual level, we can choose not to buy that new laptop, purchase solar powered chargers or devices, find places that recycle electronic devices, unplug our chargers when we are not using them, turn off our computers at night and be mindful of how long and why we use our devices. Unfortunately, my Tumblr blogs are not going to update themselves.

Pro-Russian Rebels Take Hostages in Ukraine

By Dara Kenigsberg

The southeast city of Slovyansk, Ukraine has become a hotbed for violence, protest and now, hostage taking. According to The Wall Street Journal, pro-Russian militants “began taking hostages this month, including American journalist Simon Ostrovsky, who was later released. They have held other journalists, pro-Kiev activists and people they have accused of being far-right Ukrainian nationalist provocateurs. Many have been held in a Ukrainian security service building in Slovyansk, that the militants seized in early April where they are also holding the city’s elected mayor.” On April 25, 13 more hostages were seized at a makeshift checkpoint in Kramatorsk, one of whom was later released. Seven of them are Western military observers and inspectors, members of their home countries’ militaries. They are also a part of an inspection team that had arrived in Ukraine under an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe pact called the Vienna Document. The Vienna Document sets guidelines for exchanging military information and hosting inspections. The other five are Ukrainian soldiers who were escorting them.

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-appointed, pro-Russia mayor of Slovyansk,  held a news conference on April 27 featuring the seven inspectors who are being held hostage and have been accused of being spies for NATO. According to The Wall Street Journal, “‘We have no indication when we will be sent home to our countries and to see our families,’ Axel Schneider, the German colonel leading the mission, told the news conference. ‘The conditions…are not clear to us. It is not us [who] determine the decisions.’ Col. Schneider said the European team initially stayed in a basement but was then moved to a place with heat and air conditioning. He said they were traveling on diplomatic passports, adding that he didn’t know the whereabouts of the Ukrainians or anything about their welfare.”

According to DailyMail.co.uk, “Officials in Kiev and Moscow saw they have plans to free the monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation… but Mr. Ponomaryov claimed this would not happen until newly imposed sanctions freezing assets and banning travel on two separatist leaders are lifted.”

The total number of people targeted by these sanctions comes to 48. According to CNN, “The targets include Dmitry Kozak, Russia’s deputy prime minister; Russian military chief Valery Gerasimov; and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, including Denis Pushilin, the self-declared leader of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic.’” The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to these sanctions in a statement on their website that said, “Instead of making the Kiev faction sit at the negotiating table with southeastern Ukraine, our partners follow Washington’s lead with new unfriendly gestures regarding Russia,” calling the action taken by the EU, “a direct invitation for local neo-Nazis to continue to promote anarchy and outrages regarding the civilians of the southeast.” It concluded by asking, “Aren’t you ashamed?”

Despite the backlash, which was to be expected, according to CNN, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged that, “NATO would stand united to defend its members’ territorial integrity.”

The Creeping Heroin Crisis

By Dara Kenigsberg

“Heroin is pummeling the Northeast, leaving addiction, overdoses and fear in its wake,” stated James Hunt, special agent in charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to CNN.com, “A 2012 survey by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that about 669,000 people over age 12 had used heroin at some point in the year. About 156,000 of those people were first-time users and roughly 467,000 were considered heroin-dependent — more than double the number in 2002.” The survey also found that 4.6 million individuals have reported using heroin at some point in their lives and that the average age of a first time user is 23. However, compared to other drugs, these numbers are low. In 2012, 31 million people used marijuana or hashish and another 4.7 million used some form of cocaine. Robert Parkinson, director of the Beachcomber Rehabilitation Center in Delray Beach, Florida told CNN.com, “It’s not at an epidemic level yet, but it’s going to be there. It’s that bad.”

 

Stricter regulations surrounding the prescription and sale of prescription opiates (like OxyContin) and a decline in the price of heroin due to greater supply from cartels are the two main factors contributing to this resurgence of heroin use. Greater supply has also led to a recent uptick of heroin use on college campuses as well as in suburban and rural areas.  In comparison to other addicting drugs, heroin is especially easy to get hooked on and more difficult to detox from. Much purer heroin is also being sold. In the past, heroin was often cut with so much filler that the only way to get high was through injection. According to TIME, “The purer versions currently available can be smoked or snorted, which make them more appealing to teenagers, the college-educated and people who normally wouldn’t come near it for fear of the needle…When you can snort it as opposed to inject it, it widens the audience for heroin.”

What was once seen as an inner-city problem is now reaching across all demographics. According to TheFix.com, “In New York City alone, deaths from heroin overdose increased 84 percent between 2010 and 2012, but the city’s suburbs and smaller communities have also been rocked by the rise in drug use.” Over the span of one week in February, three people under the age of 30 died from a heroin overdose in Westchester County. In January, 22 people died in Western Pennsylvania from overdosing on heroin laced with fentanyl and in Vermont, it has become such a problem that the Governor dedicated his entire State of the State Message in January to it.

Andrew, a 19-year old from Pennsylvania who did not want to reveal his last name, overdosed twice on the same batch of heroin that killed 22 others. He told CNN.com, “That’s the sick thing about addiction. When someone knows that there are heroin bags that are killing people or making them overdose, then we know that those are the good bags.”