Why should citizens suffer over partisan politics?

Written By: Julia Cooper

On December 22, after the federal budget expired and did not get re-approved by the President, federal agencies such as the Department of Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, State, The Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Justice, and Homeland Security have ceased operations or significantly cut down on activity.The United States government is currently at a standstill, stretching out a partial government shutdown that has officially surpassed the record for the longest in American history.  

The reason this shutdown has lasted for such a long time is that the budget has been placed at the center of a debate between Congress and the President over funding for the proposed border wall. Each side is refusing to find a compromise and everyday citizens are the ones suffering. According to website of CBS News, “more than 420,000 federal employees are working without pay, including agents from the FBI, ATF, DEA and CBP, as well as staff from the State Department, Coast Guard, IRS and Department of Homeland Security.”

The length that this has been dragged on is far too long. Employees are being cheated out of multiple paychecks. There are no excuses that American citizens would fully accept as to why the President and Congress have not solved this devastating issue.  

The issue of a partial government shutdown is not only affecting adults in cubicles or officers patrolling the border, the education of our students is also being disrupted by it.

Senior Madison Conroy found her internship for this school year in the NOAA Computer Network Department. NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an organization under the department of commerce. NOAA provides research information on climate change, oceanography and marine life.

“At NOAA, I manually transfer historical research documents,” said Conroy.

Now, Conroy is unable to attend internship and work with her mentor because most NOAA operations have come to a halt. Conroy is planning on majoring in animation in college so her work in the computer department helps her not only gain work experience but also familiarize herself with advanced computer programs.

“When a federal department shuts such as NOAA did, workers are supposed to change their voicemails and emails to have an automatic send back informing people that they are out of service. It’s crazy how much work goes into a shutdown without people getting paid,” said Conroy.

Other ways our community is being disrupted is through the neglect and vandalization of our National parks. Parks like the Everglades are understaffed and at risk of being shut completely because of health and sanitization issues. In some of our nation’s most beloved natural attractions, alarming amounts of trash are being dumped. In Yosemite alone, over 27 tons of garbage have been dumped since the shutdown began.

Sophomore Paola Belsol visited Yosemite National Park over winter break.

“I wanted to see one of the biggest trees in the world but they shut the roads down so I couldn’t see it with my family,” Belsol said.  

The only reason that the river of grass, the Everglades, Florida’s ecological wonder and the biggest National park in the state, has remained somewhat tidy thanks to volunteer groups that have taken it upon themselves to remove waste from areas in and surrounding the park.  

This partial shutdown has negatively affected millions of individuals and disrupted far too many processes that maintain the Nation’s quality of life. It is time for both Congress and our President to put their partiality and excessive partisanship aside. What the American people need from them now, more than ever is for the budget to be approved so that they can finally be paid for their hard work. This has escalated to a point where U.S citizens are simply being used as pawns in a toxic struggle between politicians eager to push their personal agendas rather than serve the people that elected them. The border wall is an important topic and should be debated over, but not at the expense of the people it would “protect”. The only rational solution for the nation moving forward is to have the budget approved, get government workers back in their paying jobs, and debate the border wall at a later time. A three week reopening is not sufficient to repair the damages that have already been done to American lives.

 

 

The Beacon’s Belief: Take a break and focus on yourself

New year, new you right? At this point in the school year, students can feel the levels of stress rising through the halls as each grade level experiences their own type of anxiety. Seniors are anxious about the arrival of acceptance letters and waiting to see what their upcoming year will look like. Juniors begin to feel the pressure of applying to college and having taking the SAT and ACT. Sophomores are starting to learn how to manage being in clubs and advanced classes along with the freshman who are still getting used to the transition from middle school to high school. With so much happening around us, it becomes very easy to prioritize school over your health. For this reason, for 2019 we are propositioning to make a change. A change that will emphasize the importance taking care of both your mental and physical health.

Creating one set New Year resolution for the rest of year can often bring disappointment by the end of the first week of January. Instead of holding yourself to a single goal, allow yourself to take each day as it comes. Each day should be taken as an opportunity to meet new people, discover new interests, and begin new habits. One new habit could be planning out your week. By starting a planner, you could potentially save yourself from procrastinating until the last minute on your assignments. Furthermore, by planning out your week, you will see that you have more free time available. This free time can be used to start a new hobby like: scrapbooking, journaling or  fishing. People throughout the school are participating in detoxes and fitness challenges as a way to start fresh. You could take part in this fitness trend by joining new classes either online, at a studio, or at a gym.

The new year can mark the start of trying out new things. In a recent iPhone update, there was a new feature added that monitors a person’s screen time. Within this new feature there is a portion called Downtime, which allows you to schedule a block of time where specific apps work. Another aspect is App Limits that restrict the amount of time spent on each app per day. Screen time can assist with limiting the amount of time spent watching Netflix and increase your productivity throughout the day.

As we move through 2019, look up from your phone and appreciate what surrounds you. Take this new year as an opportunity to redefine yourself and work toward becoming “stress-free.”

 

Can you separate the artists from their art?

Written By: Kasia Grant

The number of stories in the media involving different forms of sexual harassment and abuse by several musicians and entertainers has continued to rise. Many new organizations and movements were created, such as the #metoo movement, as a way to put an end to this unacceptable behavior.

Recently, Lifetime has premiered a docu-series entitled Surviving R. Kelly, which shed light on the numerous allegations involving sexual and domestic abuse made against R. Kelly by providing testimonies from people who have had various encounters with the R&B singer. From a range of avid admirers to survivors, all shared their stories and revealed the truth about R. Kelly and his contentious lifestyle.

Now, due to R. Kelly’s damaged reputation, as well as the similar reputation of music artists such as XXXTentacion and Chris Brown, their fans are now forced to decide whether or not they are willing to continue to be a fan of the artist and their work or if they are capable of separating the art from the artist.

By separating the art from the artist, listeners attempt to enjoy the artist’s content while ignoring their controversial reputation.

However, this is a rather difficult action for listeners due to the fact that many artists put a piece of themselves, such as artistic flair or a creative quality, into their work to make it theirs. Some artists also choose to utilize the inspiration that they receive from a significant event or occasion that they have encountered throughout their lifetime by incorporating it into their work.

While attempting to remove the artist from the mind of the listener, the beauty of the art would be changed, making it harder for fans to truly appreciate their art.

Also, even if fans do not support the acts of the artist, they are still unconsciously showing their support. Musicians rely on the number of purchases or streams of their music in order to make a living. By doing something as simple as purchasing or streaming their music, it supports the artist mainly because this is what they rely on and how they receive their paycheck. So, in some way, the artist is always going to be involved with their art, making it almost impossible to fully separate the two.

If fans were capable of separating the art from the artist, this will give the artist the impression that there is nothing wrong with their crimes that they are committing because their actions are being ignored, prompting them to continue to live their unhealthy lifestyle. But, by getting fans to understand that this separation is not a practical solution, it will force them to face the facts and bring their attention to the wrongdoings of the artist. This is exactly what is needed in order to prevent the artist from performing these dangerous acts towards others.

When serious allegations are made against artists, it is hard to accept the fact that our favorite artist has the possibility of being guilty.

We try to convince ourselves that they could not have done whatever they are being accused of. But, as fans, we fail to realize that the art in art-ist is something that cannot be removed or separated.

No matter how hard we try to ignore or brush aside the negative news that we see or hear on the media, it will never work in our favor.

By disconnecting ourselves from the acts of the artist, we are condoning their actions and silencing our voices that could be used to make a change in our society and in the lives of many who are suffering in silence.

 

Do not take credit for the advancements of other cultures

Written By: Isabella Zimmermann

It appears as if the world is constantly developing with the constant intermingling of different cultures in modern-day society. However, with the overwhelming rise of celebrities establishing new trends on social media, it becomes evident that there is an underlying problem among many influencers and others who cannot draw the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.

But out all cultures that exist, black culture has been one of the many who has suffered the most, with non-black people ripping off hairstyles, clothing, and music styles that have been a part of this culture for decades, some even with ancient origins.

Appropriation of black hairstyles has become increasingly rampant as they have appeared on runways and become a “trend” in the past few years. However, when worn by black people, racial stereotypes are made regarding these cultural hairstyles.

A prime example of this occurrence took place in 2015 when Zendaya, a black actress, wore dreads. She was subsequently attacked and belittled for the hairstyle as she received an onslaught of derogatory comments online.

Yet when white people wear dreads, they are often described as being edgy or cool. They remain unaware of the importance of the culture that established these hairstyles in the first place. This can also be applied to the fashion industry, where designers capitalize on African prints, among other things, without giving credit where it is due.

In the past few years, a multitude of white rappers have sprung up in the music industry, such as RiFF RAFF, who parodies black culture by wearing grills, cornrows, and acting out stereotypes that cause more harm than good.

Black people are scrutinized and shamed for the things that they have been doing for their entire lives. One cannot diminish it as it “just being hair” or “just being clothing.” Culture makes up one’s self identity and when you ignore these issues and choose to not see race, it erases the struggles black people have underwent for hundreds of years for being themselves.

When people are oppressed and killed over following century-old traditions, it is insulting for the oppressors and privileged to just turn around and suddenly find it a new fashion staple without even giving credit where it is due. It reestablishes a distinction between the two groups.

It is vital to understand the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. You can still appreciate other cultures by making an effort to learn about it and its history and by giving credit to its original source, rather than claiming it as your own.

Black culture has shaped our own society in the music that we listen to and the foods that we eat, and it is important that we remember to appreciate its impact on American culture this Black History Month.

 

Student entrepreneurs striving toward success

Written By: Amir Brady

Technology and the internet enable our youth to explore ventures that some think only adults could accomplish like starting a business. Ariane Santivanez, David Granda, Ricky Angelone and Matias Urcuyo are all seniors that have taken leaps and bounds with how the businesses they have started are growing and developing.  

Santivanez started Amorperu at the age of 15 during her sophomore year when she saw a demand for the type of clothing made by artisans in her family’s native country of Peru. She found that items like elephant pants and other accessories like scrunchies and make up bags were being sought out by students daily, so she decided to bring some along with her whenever she took a trip to Peru. It started small, with selling the pants to a few friends, but soon business was booming since word spread that she was selling artisanal Peruvian clothing. Arianne does not do it alone, though, since so many people are interested her family also helps her out. Whenever they find themselves coming to Miami, they bring clothing from the artisanal markets for her to sell. Arianne’s profits do not only go back to her, she feels that it is only right that she gives back to her local community. “Out of every article of clothing that I sell, I give a percentage back to the kids in Peru that cannot afford certain luxuries like new clothes that we can get whenever,” Santivanez said.

Granda was a 14-year-old freshman when he decided to start Aquarius, a now four-year-old company that specializes in making autonomous underwater robotic vehicles for research purposes. He decided to start this business because he saw that there was a need for more accessible underwater research vessels that will not break the bank. The inspiration for Aquarius was the movie Spare Parts which was about a team of Mexican immigrants who beat the odds by building an underwater vehicle to win a nationwide robotics competition. David built his first prototype during his freshman year and has improved on it until now where as a senior he has brought it to the market with the help of engineering teacher Allan Miller. He is also being featured during the 2019 Key Biscayne Children’s Business Fair. “I love doing this because I think we as humans need to narrow the gap between what we do and don’t know about the ocean” Granda said.

Angelone and Urcuyo along with a host of 24 other students started a non-profit company called Miami Tutoring based in Key Biscayne which provides tutoring services to underprivileged kids. Ricky and Matias were 16 when they decided to bring a few kids together at Key Biscayne Village Hall and give free tutoring to kids that could not really afford it. When word got out, they decided to make a website to promote the tutoring and got a lot of sign ups. From there, they started an outreach platform that would accept donations to pay for gas needed to go out of Key Biscayne to tutor and to recruit more tutors to help the cause. “We wanted to help bring community together while giving high schoolers a chance to help so we thought the perfect way for people of our age to leave our mark is to tutor others,” Angelone and Urcuyo.

 

Netflix: The superior streaming platform

Written By: Amber Haydar

           In the age of digital media, popular streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have brought about the evolution of watching our favorite movies and shows, as well as discovering new ones with series and films original to each corresponding platform.

Netflix is at the top of its game, especially when it comes to developing original movies and television series.

Recently-released Netflix films, Bird Box and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch broke the internet during winter break 2018.

Binge-watchers everywhere were anticipating the interactive Black Mirror film and the highly-regarded psychological thriller, Bird Box.

Netflix decided to wait until the final Friday of 2018 to drop the full-length, 90-minute special, though the quickest path ends after 40 minutes: Bandersnatch.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is the first of its kind, specifically on the Netflix platform. The interactive special grants the audience the ability to make decisions for the main character, programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), starting with the stress-inducing action of choosing which cereal to eat in the morning.

Later in the special, watchers are faced with more grueling circumstances, some of which not all viewers will get to experience. A brief tutorial, specific to the device being streamed on, explains to the viewer how to make these choices. Viewers have ten seconds to make choices, or a default decision is made.

The complex special takes place in July of 1984, where young programmer Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) dreams of adapting a choose-your-own-adventure book titled Bandersnatch, by tragic writer Jerome F. Davies, into what he hopes will be a revolutionary adventure video game. Devoted fans of the science-fiction dystopia were raving on social media.

Black Mirror is a television show, originally from Great Britain before Netflix bought the series and produced seasons three and four. Each episode of the series is stand-alone- sharp and suspenseful in exploring themes of techno-paranoia. The series serves the purpose of making a point to display how our future may appear at the rate we are going as a society in technological advancement, in the most shocking, unpredictable ways possible.

As for Bird Box, Netflix subscribers have been obsessing over the Netflix original film since its release over the holiday season. The must-watch thriller engulfed the Internet in all its meme glory.

Bird Box was originally a 2014 post-apocalyptic novel and the debut novel by writer Josh Malerman. The Netflix original film follows a woman, played by Sandra Bullock, who must guide herself as well as a pair of young children, dubbed Boy and Girl, through a treacherous journey in order to make it to safety.

The journey entails trudging through a forest and a river blindfolded in order to avoid a supernatural entity that causes people who see it to either die by suicide or force others to take a peak and kill themselves.

Bird Box is not merely about entities, clawing at the door of helpless apocalypse survivors— it is about the depths and measures humans will take in order to survive, specifically in correlation with motherhood and the sacrifices mothers are willing to make in order to provide for their children.

The Sandra Bullock-starring film broke the Netflix record for the most watches within premiere week, with more than 45 million Netflix accounts viewing it within its first week.

MAST Sophomore Kaleia Zambrano has an opposing opinion on Netflix’s reign. “Bird Box was very interesting and actually kept you on your feet, unlike most of Netflix original movies,” Zambrano said. Another anonymous sophomore said, “Bird Box had a deeper meaning and its true context was artistically delivered and publicly ignored.”

Netflix has recently announced that they are increasing subscription prices worldwide in 2019. Netflix is hiking their standard $10.99 plan in the U.S. to $12.99 per month. Its $7.99 plan will go up to $8.99 and its $13.99 plan will go up to $15.99 a month. This monthly total would still cost less than the majority of traditional cable or satellite packages, but will it cost Netflix some loyal subscribers nonetheless?

 

Food for the stomach, the earth, and the soul

Written By: Skye Hervas-Jones

Under The Mango Tree (Miami Beach)

Hidden along a strip mall in Miami Beach hides a hidden gem called Under the Mango Tree, this charming restaurant radiates love and happiness as soon as you enter. The large mango tree that reaches the roof in the center of the store and the local made products for sale that are scattered around add to the cozy, bohemian vibe. Their smoothies and juices are completely made from fresh fruit. They also offer acai bowls, juices, melts, and salads.

Their packaging is completely sustainable as they serve their drinks in mugs or mason jars with paper straws. They also sell a starter pack for eliminating plastic from your life.

My personal recommendation is their Pink Dragon smoothie, which contains dragon fruit, banana, apple and coconut nectar

Green Life (Brickell, Miami Beach, Coral Gables)

Green Life’s motto is in their name, their mouthwatering menu is crafted by using ingredients free of genetically modified organisms, pesticides, hormones. They serve simple, healthy and organic food with 90% of their products being organic and locally sourced. Their Eco-ware is made with potato starch and plates from sugarcane bagasse making them recyclable and compostable.

Their furniture is also either reclaimed, recycled or donated from local job sites. Not only are they helping the Earth, but everyone who visits becomes regular customer. They offer Acai bowls, wraps and an incredible avocado toast. Most of their food and drink are under $10 so it’s a great place if you are on a budget.

Pura Vida (Coral Gables, South Beach)

Living a simple, pure life is what Pura Vida restaurant strives to do for their customers. The owners created a menu that can be eaten at any time of the day, and strive to create jobs for the people in the community. Their food is locally sourced, keeping high standard with their farm to table policy. They shop sustainably and open their restaurant up to adults, kids and even pets.

For those who wake up late noon or even early morning, Pura Vida offers an all-day menu and a special section for avocado lovers. They also sell Acai bowls, superfood smoothies, wellness shots and bowls.

My personal recommendation is their Mango Salmon Bowl, which contains oven roasted salmon, quinoa, arugula, avocado, mango, cherry tomatoes, pickled cabbage and Pura Vida sauce.