Part 185- Teenager’s Guide to the 2024 Election: Part 1

Part 185- Teenager’s Guide to the 2024 Election: Part 1

It’s that time again; U.S. presidential elections. This is the second edition to my election series which I previously started for the last election in 2020. The overall framework of this series is to use Vivek Ramaswamy’s 10 truths. Vivek Ramaswamy has very openly and strongly expressed his beliefs in 10 simple bullet points, and I’ll be using these to analyze each candidate’s values. (This goes for both parties)

10 Truths as per Vivek Ramaswamy:

  1. God is real
  2. There are two genders
  3. Human flourishing requires fossil fuels
  4. Reverse racism is racism
  5. An open border is no border
  6. Parents determine the education of their children
  7. The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind
  8. Capitalism lifts people up from poverty
  9. There are three branches of the U.S. government, not four
  10. The U.S. constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedoms in history

These points will be used to categorize as well as compare each candidate and each of their views on each of these points, allowing for me- as well as you- to decide which candidate you’d most likely want to support based on similar aligning views. Following the analysis of each point, I’m going to discuss the effect these beliefs play in politics as well as in every day life. This part will be discussed from my point of view, as a teenager.

The candidates will be formatted into a table at the end with their position on each of these 10 truths, as shown below. Although the table below consists of only Republican potential candidates, I’ll be discussing both Democratic and Republican candidates the best I can.

CandidatesAbortionEconomyForeign PolicyImmigrationOther
Donald TrumpPro-lifeAmerica first; China as a business partner, not political peerAmerica first; long term benefits for American citizensAgainst illegal immigration, US-Mexico wallPro-guns (2nd Amendment)
Ron DeSantisSupported bills restricting access to abortion, stopped short of saying he would support a federal banCut individual taxes, slash government spending, “American energy independence” and rollback of electric vehiclesOpposes additional US involvement in Ukraine, reduce economic ties with “communist China”, the US would no longer “kowtow to Wall Street”Eliminate the visa lottery and limit “unskilled immigration”Frequently “touted his opposition to gender-affirming care for trans people and other public health measures such as mask mandates”
Vivek RamaswamyPro-life, would not back a national abortion banUS should abandon its climate goals to drive down energy costs and boost its GDP, in favor of some corporate and individual tax cutsCriticized US aid to Ukraine, saying it is strengthening Russia’s alliance with Chinadeport “universally” and end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants (who would then be required to apply to become a citizen)
Tim ScottPro-life, would support a national 15-week banTax cuts and stronger economic competition with China. Championed legislation establishing “opportunity zones” which are meant to increase economic development in low-income areas by incentivizing private investmentSupports continued US aid to Ukraine, says Biden has not done enough. “Soft on China”In favor of a wall along US southern border to curb illegal migration and drug trafficking
Nikki HaleyPro-life, federal abortion ban “unrealistic”Opposes raising national debt limit, “veto spending bills that don’t put America on track to reach pre-pandemic spending”Labeled Chinese Communist party an “enemy”, criticized Trump for trying to befriend Chinese presidentVowed to tighten security at US-Mexico border, add 25,000 patrol agents, require companies to verify employees’ status online.
Chris ChristieNot support federal abortion banTargeted “excessive government spending” as the reason for inflation and floated cuts to social security, including MedicareTough on China-and-Russia, support for continued US aid to Ukraine
Mike PencePro-life, in favor of six-week abortion banBoosting US economy, employment high and inflation low (focus solely on reducing inflation), advocated for cutting social security benefitsAdvocated for continued US aid to UkraineVowed to finish the border wall
Doug BurgumPro-life, not support a national banPrioritize growing the country’s tech and energy sectorsWinning “Cold War with China” is importantSupports stricter restrictions of migration. Says Biden “hasn’t done enough to secure the US-southern border”
Asa HutchinsonPro-life, support a national banFloated extreme measures to balance the federal budget and reduce debt including cutting federal non-military workforce by 10%Would not cut economic ties with China, advocated for more action to counter China’s threat against Taiwan,Supports harsh restrictions on immigration
Organized from The Guardian

So let’s get into our ACTUAL first post of this series with the first truth; God is Real.

Part 184- Teen Attorney

Part 184- Teen Attorney

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023.

After almost a year, I finally accomplished., for the first time, what I have been working towards; becoming a teen attorney. From observing trials, to volunteering for being a juror in three different courts, to training to become an attorney in two of them, becoming a bailiff, and now…officially acting as a teen attorney. It’s something I never would have imagined doing last summer, when I only first discovered that Teen Court exists. Through these proceedings, I’ve learned so much despite it only being the tip of the iceberg! Let me take you on a trip through the past to share some of these experience I’ve gained over these past few months.

Discovering Teen Court

The first time I heard of teen court, I felt burdened. One of my biggest flaws is my reluctance to work. I’d rather stick to doing the amount I’m currently doing, than doing more and expanding my schedule and adjusting until it’s normal again. That’s why Teen Court was so upsetting to me. I immediately dreaded it.

I first started at the Metroport Teen Court. I was genuinely terrified. Before I became a volunteer, I was able to observe a court proceeding to understand how it worked. It was my first time young to a court. I was scared, nervous even. What do I Wear? Is this not fancy enough? Is it too fancy? What if I start sweating? What if my phone goes off? So many questions but so few answers and time to process them. The good news was that my phone didn’t go off and I wasn’t too overdressed. The jurors really didn’t care that much of dress code- which I see pretty often- and end up wearing sweatshirts, jeans, t-shirts, shorts, etc. Often I’d be one of the few in dress code when arriving to other volunteering sessions. For the bad news, I did sweat and panic when talking to the Court supervisor. (She scares me, and I’m pretty sure she does not like me based on the number of questions and emails I’ve sent her up to today)

Observing Cases

The first observation was pretty fun. I got to see a close representation of a court proceeding, except done by teenagers my age. This was one of the first turning points in my journey. The acceptance and realization of what a great opportunity this could be. I clearly remember seeing two attorneys who absolutely amazed me. Their cod finder e, persuasion, preparedness, and quick thinking skills when on the floor were everything. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure they both won the amount of hours they were setting as the prosecutors. They were actual professionals despite their age. It was remarkable seeing them. Afterwards, after a little convincing by my inner self, I decided to give it a try.

I went to the second observing case, where I got to participate as a juror.

In Teen Court there are two different trials. A court case and a Master Jury case. Cases that are taken to court with a judge and in a courtroom are generally for a Class between 1 and 4. Class 5 and 6 cases are for the Master Jury. In the Master Jury, about 5-6 jurors including a bailiff sit at a table with the defendant and their parent on one side, and a supervisor on the other. In this, everyone gets to listen to the case and the defendant’s recollection, and then get to do a round of questioning or more if needed. This is similar to the questioning attorneys do in a court night, but a little different. Following this, the defendant can make any last remarks before stepping out and allowing the jury to make a decision on the hours to be given. Once done, the hours are read to the defendant by the bailiff, and the case finishes.

About 2-3 cases take place per night, and afterwards jurors can leave. My second observing period was as a part of the Master Jury. The biggest thing I remember from there was the guy sitting next to me asking if I assaulted a person, to which I looked at him horrified and said, “I’m just volunteering here.” It then clicked that I was sitting with kids who were former defendants and were now helping current defendants out. The other thing that stood out to me was seeing this one guy who stood out to me for his fashion style, who I later discovered was a senior in my school, was in Orchestra, and happened to be on at least three different routes to my other classes during Freshman year. (That’s a story for another time)

Volunteering as a Juror

After that I became an official juror for the Metroport court. In my opinion, I think the Metroport Court is one of my least favorites because of the listing and some of the procedures. For the Metroport Court, I was put on a roster and called to a case night when my name came up. This is different to my other court volunteering periods, but I’ll get to that later.

It would be 3 or 4 months before I got called to a new case for the Metroport Court. Most of the time I would be on the Master Jury. Despite this, I only really became a juror for a few nights before signing up for the Attorney roster. A lot of emailing and Court supervisor bothering went into this. It’s partially due to my father’s persistence for information, as well as my want to become an Attorney, but we’ll say it was mainly me.

Some of the volunteer nights were slow, others fast. Some happened when unexpected situations came into play hours before and I was left thinking about it the whole case night, and others were of utmost boredom and desperation to leave. Regardless, I enjoyed the experience all the more. However, this whole roster part bothered me. At this rate, I would end up having very little experience in 2-3 years. I started looking for other Teen Courts to volunteer at. My first was North Richland Hills.

North Richland Hills was better than Southlake (Metroport) Court. It was a little more professional, nicer, and had more availabilities to participate in case nights than I did at Southlake. I then started looking at attorney opportunities for NRH. They had a policy of attending two nights before signing up for an attorney. That I could do, but it was difficult. I started NRH near the end of my school year, when AP exams and finals took place. There was more focus on school than court, so finding nights to volunteer at were harder.

I started looking for more courts. Then, I finally found it. The court I most love out of the three I’ve volunteered at so far: Irving. Irving,as I’ve heard, is the oldest Teen Court in the area, making it more defined and professional. When signing up, they provided different areas you could apply for. Lead Attorney, Assistant, etc. If I remember right, I’m sure I did assistant attorney to start for my training. After submitting my form it provided me a date. The date I would receive my Attorney training.

Attorney Training

Irving is amazing. I think my expectations for court and attorney training are slightly higher than they were at first solely because of the wya Irving did it. In my training there were a good 10-12 people. We all came and sat at tables in a room early morning and did introductions. We spent a good 5-6 hours in training that day. From the morning to afternoon we learned. Our court supervisor gave us handouts with notes on how to do things. From objections to questioning and more, it was there. We walked through the building and rooms. (Far more complex by the way) We were shown where we could hang out and where we would be working. We took a trip to the court room and Master Jury room, and returned back to where we were previously.

In our training we did a lot of application scenarios. For an hour or so we focused on one aspect, like openings per se. When focusing on openings, we would get into groups and then decide to be defense or prosecution. Based on this and the practice cases given we formed an opening based on what we wanted to prove and further explain using the trial. We did this with closing, questioning, and objections as well. We ate pizza and had snacks while asking questions for real life scenarios. It was REALLY fun. We then proceeded with a mock trial where we applied everything we learned, and then wrapped up for the day. This was the second turning point. I got really excited to become an Attorney at this point, as I am now qualified to become one in Irving. Being a part of the training was like a reality check. It kind of opened me up to the fact that me becoming an Attorney was very much real, and a big possibility. I unfortunately couldn’t attend the two sessions but I finally got to and it was AWESOME. More on that later.

Shortly after my Irving court volunteering, I finally had Southlake attorney training. Southlake, like I said isn’t as great as the others but it’s still a Teen Court. The training was pretty short and it felt rushed. They tried to squeeze everything into the 3 hours, but I felt like they could have kept it running longer and earlier in the day. Not only that, I feel like we didn’t get to process a lot of information that well. Things such as openings and questioning could have been practiced or given in demonstrations rather than just having.a reference to our given binders with the information. One thing I really liked was having experienced attorneys come join us during the training. We later split into 4 groups (2 cases with defense and prosecution each) and had the current attorneys give us advice and act as our defendant. One of the attorneys who is now a former attorney (off to college) was actually really helpful and incredibly knowledgeable and experienced. I really appreciate his help. He gave us a lot of key factors to consider, like establishing a timeline when questioning the defendant before trial (for the defense) and finding the information that could really help us when everything else wasn’t looking in their favor. He really walked us through.a lot of vague points that were covered during the training, such as how to relate the questioning into the opening and closing, as well as how to act and what details we should keep in mind of. The mock trial was okay since I messed up for my closing and rushed through it, but otherwise it was a fun learning experience. Now comes the fun part.

Being an Attorney

Irving first! So the procedure for Irving is a little different than the other two courts. In this the supervisor sends an email to which we reply if we can participate that day, and she later emails us back with the positions given. For new attorneys that were recently trained she likes to give us juror positions so we can observe before working. I was meant to be a juror but the assigned bailiff couldn’t make it and I opted in for it instead. I had the option to be an attorney as well, but I felt that being a bailiff would be better for my nerves as well as for learning. It was right.

This is my final turning point, the moment I decided that I did want to be an attorney no matter what. I was a little nervous as the bailiff, but it was an easy enough position to be able to relax while working. I think I found the variety of defendants in all three courts to be most interesting. When one city is more heavily populated with brown kids you see more of those in the court room and vice versa. That was interesting to see, as well as how that played into who the attorneys were. More Asian kids in Irving compared to Southlake and NRH. Disregarding that, I really admired the Irving attorneys.

I’m assuming they all were pretty experienced since they had lead attorneys and they were familiar with the cases and judges than I was that day. Not only that, they were really comfortable and confident with the courtroom. You could feel it in the way they talked to the defendant or the way they spoke to the jury. It’s the small things like hand movements, eye contact, tone, pace. It was bewitching, in a way, to see how they worked. (Especially this one girl who was absolutely amazing during the cases) Being a bailiff allowed me to see the court proceedings without having to make a decision on the process. I could sit through both cases and hear them out, make my own opinions or what I think should be the next question and compare to what the attorneys did. It helped let me see things from a better experience than I could as a juror. ( On a side note, I’m pretty sure one of the jurors tried to act cool when I was around so that was awkward, but that’s something else)

Finally, Southlake. Tuesday was a big day. Not only was it the last day of summer for me- the first and last few hours of ‘summer’ I had gotten all break- but I would also be an Attorney for the first time. It would be the first time ever, I got to act as an attorney. It was TERRIFYING. I had a panic attack-like event a few hours prior to that so I was not in the best condition but I had to go. (I’m glad I did) It gave me my first taste of reality. This is my defendant. They did an actual crime. I am helping them. I am an ATTORNEY. This court was all rookies to give us a court experience – and because the experienced attorneys would grab at the sign up the second it was posted- so we all struggled in our own ways. For me, I froze up and I spoke too quietly. I couldn’t decide if I had to introduce myself or not, and furthermore I didn’t know HOW to do that so I hesitated at the beginning. Questioning went fine since I had a list of the information I needed to give the right questions. The only problem was that the defendant, although incredibly compliant and doing their best, kept giving extra information and too little information at times. They even changed their information once or twice during the questioning. I’d assume that was a mistake on our part. As the defendant’s attorneys we should have walked them through the process and what to expect before bringing them inside. At least we’ll remember for next time.

Other than that we actually managed to give the defendant the minimum hours! It was unexpected but still exciting. (Both cases got the minimum hours so major win) At least I’ve had my first real taste of court and now know what it’s like as an attorney. It’s scary, but fun. I think what’s holding me back is my fear. I actually really like the experience. It’s new, it’s different than what I usually do, and I only get to do this every month or so. The more I get involved in this the easier it’l become, I’m sure. It’s a good thing that I’ in two courts at the moment so I can keep going between the two without a gap in between. It also gives me different experiences with different supervisors. I can get twice the amount of feedback and learning opportunities. (It’s also twice the more time to work on my speaking) Otherwise, I’m excited. I finally debuted as a teen attorney, after a little more than a year later.

From an observer, to a volunteer juror, to a bailiff and now an official attorney, it’s crazy. I never thought to do something like this in my entire life, so it’s new to me. It’s a change of mindset and setting. Instead of just school and my house, it’s something else. A real world experience designed for my age where I can do something impactful and helpful for my community as well as other teens my age. Am I exhausted after these trials though? Very much so. That’s all right though! I’m more willing to put in the hours for Teen Court than I was at the beginning of all this. Soon I’ll be practically fighting the others to be at every case night. (Maybe not but you’d never know) Time will only tell!

Anyways, that’s all for this post. See you next time!

Part 183- Human Gene Editing

Part 183- Human Gene Editing

Gene editing- as previously discussed, can revolutionize the medical field and improve human lives on an incredible scale. It can be considered one of the most extraordinary and fundamental discoveries in research. However, it raises numerous complex legal and ethical concerns, making it rarely, if not banned, used. This blog post will delve into this matter’s background, challenges, techniques, and current legality. 

Gene editing is the “ability to make highly specific changes to the DNA sequence of a living organism, essentially customizing its genetic makeup.” The primary tool used for this is CRISPR-Cas9: a molecular device derived from naturally occurring DNA sequences in bacteria and archaea. It has allowed researchers to target a specific DNA sequence where they introduce cuts into the genome to remove and insert new DNA sequences. Among other methods, such as TALENs and ZFNs, CRISPR has emerged as the most effective, making it crucial in genetics and medicine. 

CRISPR has been used in therapies treating certain human diseases such as diabetes, sickle cell disease, cancers of blood-forming tissues like leukemia and lymphoma, chronic infectious diseases like AIDS, and inherited impairment in vision, to name a few. However, the journey to reach this point hasn’t been easy. Early attempts to use gene editing focused on minimizing the consequences instead of correcting genetic mistakes. Although effective in some cases, it was tricky and limited. 

But, just like everything else, there is always a legal and ethical side. The implications for gene editing are extreme, considering these are actual human lives and genetic material at play. The legality of human gene editing varies across countries. China, India, Ireland, and Japan outlawed gene editing while the U.S. hasn’t banned it, a moratorium imposed under the vigilance of the FDA and guidelines from the NIH. In the UK, “the legislation of medical use of mitochondrial replacement is likely to lead to legal permission for the modification of germline nuclear genome that can be adjusted by genome-editing technology.” 

Additionally, while some countries explicitly prohibit human germline engineering in reproduction, others allow ut with certain exceptions. The “Declaration of Helinski-Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects” (“Declaration of Helinski” for short) serves as a widely accepted ethical principle for medical research involving human subjects and is referenced in the judgment against Jiankui He. 

The first gene-edited human babies were born in China in late 2018, triggering widespread criticism and debate over the experiment. The twin infant girls carried an edited gene that reduced the risk of HIV infection. The researcher- Jiankui He- faced three years of jail due to China’s guidelines and regulations banning gene editing. This event highlighted the need for “urgent improvement of ethics governance at all levels, the enforcement of technical and ethical guidelines, and the establishment of laws relating to such bioethical issues.” 

Another well-known case of using human-genome editing is that of Victoria Gray. Victoria Gray has sickle cell disease, an inherited red blood cell disorder in which the cell sickles and becomes hard and sticky, forming the shape of a ‘C’.  She had volunteered to participate in the first attempt to use CRISPR to treat her disease. The disease that had plagued her since she was a baby, leaving nightmarish nights and horrible pain in its wake, now existed in memory as something that only once existed as part of her life.

Gray was diagnosed with sickle cell disease as an infant. She was considering a bone marrow transplant when she heard about the CRISPR study and jumped at the chance to volunteer.

Considering this, wouldn’t it be beneficial to use CRISPR more often to make life easier for individuals? To overcome something that could hinder or even harm us? When we have something that can change people’s lives, why should we ban the use of it? 

We must establish ethical guidelines for selecting patients, defining eligible diseases, and implementing restrictions on who can use CRISPR and under which circumstances. Oversight by government organizations or regulatory agencies, such as the FDA, could ensure responsible usage for this activity. By doing this, we can prevent misuse of this for non-medical practices, such as cosmetic alterations. 

Human gene-editing is a powerful tool that, while beneficial, serves a number of significant legal and ethical issues. While this technology holds the key to improving the lives of individuals facing life-threatening illnesses and genetci disorders, it requires careful regulation to balance the benefits and harms. If we want to use CRISPR and other similar technologies to advance the human race and improve the lives of those in need, we need to establish appropriate laws and regulations so it doesn’t get out of gads. 

Works Cited

“Applications and Controversies.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/science/gene-editing/Applications-and-controversies 

“CRISPR.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 14 Oct. 2022, www.britannica.com/technology/CRISPR 

“Legal Reflections on the Case of Genome-edited Babies.” BioMed Central, 14 May 2020, ghrp.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41256-020-00153-4#:~:text=Early%20embryo%20genome%2Dediting%20for,accepted%20by%20the%20international%20community 

“What is Gene Therapy?: MedlinePlus Genetics.” MedlinePlus – Health Information from the National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/therapy/genetherapy/ 

Part 182- IVF Legality

With the growing advancement of technology, we are able to solve many problems we originally couldn’t. I’m not talking about things like faster communication or instant food delivery, but something on a more…serious level. Gene editing, in vitro fertilization, infertilization, etc. With breakthroughs like gene editing, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), we have the power to address infertility and genetic diseases. However, as we celebrate these achievements, we must also consider the potential difficulties and legal challenges that come hand in hand. So let’s take a look at what these may be.

Here are the main points we’ll cover in this post:

  • The Concept of Three-Parent Children
  • The Complexity of Parental Rights
  • Roles of Surrogacy in the Process
  • Health Risk and Protection of Donors
  • Weighing the Benefits and Risks

The Concept of Three-Parent Children

Let me first explain what IVF (or three-parent child) is. So a three-parent baby is pretty much an offspring from the genetic material of  three parents; one male and two females. There is mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) and three-parent, in vitro fertilization (IVF).  This is usually done so to prevent  the inheritance of mitochondrial disease; a 1 in 400 maternally-inherited mutation that can cause a range of illnesses. There are no cures for this, hence the use of MRT.9

One way to do so is by injecting a small amount of cytoplasm from an egg cell (ovum) of a healthy donor into the mother’s egg, which is then fertilized by the father’s sperm and implanted in the mother’s uterus using IVF. Another way is to remove the nucleus from a donor egg and replace it with the nucleus from the mother’s egg cell. The egg is fertilized with the father’s sperm and then transferred to the mother’s uterus for normal gestation. And there are many other ways this could be performed. But they all generally require one thing, an egg from a healthy donor.10

The Complexity of Parental Rights

Given that, would the donor be a biological parent to the child? Not really. The donor is never the legal parent, meaning they are not responsible for the child and have no parental rights to the child. They waive all rights to any children born due to the egg donation under the terms of an egg donation contract.5 This includes the right to initiate contact with the child in the future. In assisted reproduction (IVF, egg donation, etc.) the woman who gives birth to the child is always the mother, even if the eggs were donated by another woman. Besides having no right to the child, there are other requirements as to who is allowed to donate eggs.4 Candidates can be disqualified for lifestyle habits (such as smoking or a history of drug use), health concerns (genetic disorders, obesity, etc.), usage of certain types of contraception, and basic commitment to scheduling appointments. Egg donors should also be no older than 29, as egg quality and quantity diminishes as women reach their mid to late 30s

The Role of Surrogacy in the Process

But if it was in the case of surrogacy, things would be different.

In surrogacy, another woman is asked to have a baby for them. She is called- in Texas- as the gestational mother. In this, the couple must be married and have to make a written agreement with the woman called a gestational agreement. In this agreement, it explains the legal relationship that each person has with the child. It talks about who will provide healthcare for the mother and baby during the pregnancy, the gestational mother giving up all parental rights to the child, other donors – if involved- also needing to give up all parental agreement, the gestational mother having the right to make all healthcare decisions for herself and the embryo, and the intended parents become the child’s legal parents after being born. 

Of course, in this the court is also a part of the agreement. You must ask the Court to approve the agreement before the gestational mother gets pregnant, file a Petition at Court, and have the intended file a birth notice after birth. If the court does not approve of the gestational agreement then the gestational mother is the legal mother. If the gestational mother decides to keep the child, the intended parents have no legal rights to the child, and if they want to become the legal parents they would have to adopt the child.11

Health Risks and Protection of Donors

Besides having no right to the child, there are other requirements as to who is allowed to donate eggs. Candidates can be disqualified for lifestyle habits (such as smoking or a history of drug use), health concerns (genetic disorders, obesity, etc.), usage of certain types of contraception, and basic commitment to scheduling appointments. Egg donors should also be no older than 29, as egg quality and quantity diminishes as women reach their mid to late 30s. Not only that, they are screened and checked for genetic diseases.

Donors can be carriers, meaning they have the recessive allele for the mutation and do not develop or have symptoms of the disease despite testing positive. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhealthy, but rather they carry the mutation. It would only affect the child if the father is a carrier of the same disease. Despite this, these donors would be disqualified. 

There are many risks, however, with donating eggs. For example, long-term effects include aggressive breast cancer, loss of fertility, and fatal colon cancer. Even without any family history of these illnesses, it is suspected the egg donation is the cause. Infertility rates continue to increase and the desperation for fertility services follows. Young women are lured into donating, often unaware of the health risks when they apply as they are offered monetary compensation during a financially vulnerable moment in their lives. When it is said there is “no known risk” it simply means that there is a complete lack of data than an absence of risk, making it misleading.7 This now leads to another question; is it right for these donations to continue when it can be harmful to the donor? Should we risk providing for someone else’s life when we risk our own? These women have their own futures ahead of them so is it right that they have to suffer when they do something to help others?

The answer is complicated. There’s a 0.000004% risk of dying, 0.1% risk of internal bleeding, 0.5% risk of infection, and a 2-6% chance of developing pain and swelling in the ovaries as a result of the self-injected hormone treatments.3 With this. We still need to research more about whether egg donation is safe for donors long-term. Despite the probability these effects come from egg-donation, there could be a way to prevent them with further research. That could potentially make egg-donation safer and help with the growing infertility rates. But for now, there is- as far as I have read- not many laws or regulations protecting women from things like these. 

Weighing the Benefits and Risks

Why not just use adoption instead? Adoption is the other and safer option-in this case- for those with infertility. However, adoption doesn’t give all the benefits donors do. 2

Mainly, the pregnancy experience. Having a donor allows parents to carry and deliver their adopted child themselves as they live through the pregnancy experience. Parents also have legal rights and responsibility for the embryos prior to attempting a pregnancy. Donations also cost less than adoption, and have a short wait to them. However, it is noted that donations will not always result in live birth, while adoption with a reputable agency will bring a baby into the home. 

Now in case of a divorce, what happens then? Could the father make a claim that the mother shouldn’t get the baby as she is infertile? Would he use that against her? There should be some law or requirement that prevents either parent from being held unfairly simply for this reason. Something like this shouldn’t be held against you in any way at all.

Conclusion

With the rapidly increasing rate of infertility in today’s world we’re taking advantage of new technology to solve this problem. Using egg donors, IVF, and MRT we have come up with a number of ways to produce a child to infertile couples. But, with the ability to do so, there are going to be legal issues involved. Among this we have parental rights on the child, protection and health risks of donors, surrogacy rights, and more. There are also many restrictions regarding who is a donor or surrogate in order to make sure there is a healthy child produced. Despite the few successful attempts to use three-parent child methods to produce an offspring, the ethical and legal complications for this arise, making us question whether this is appropriate or not. For example, ‘should we be risking the life of a donor simply for the want for a child’, or, ‘is it right for a surrogate to give up a child they raised and worked hard to take care of for 9 months to someone else’. These questions remain in doubt, with very frail answers to them. Only with more research can we actually make a proper law to protect those who need it for becoming a donor or being a part of three-parent children. 

Works Cited Page:

1 “1 in 6 People Globally Affected by Infertility: WHO.” World Health Organization (WHO), 4 Apr. 2023, www.who.int/news/item/04-04-2023-1-in-6-people-globally-affected-by-infertility#:~:text=Around%2017.5%25%20of%20the%20adult,prevalence%20of%20infertility%20between%20regions 

2 “Donor Embryo Cost Breakdown: Donation Vs. Adoption.” Donor Nexus: Leading Egg Donation Agency in California, donornexus.com/blog/donor-embryo-cost. 

3“Egg Donation Risk and Reward.” Public Health Post, 12 Oct. 2020, www.publichealthpost.org/viewpoints/egg-donation-risk-and-reward/ 

4 “Egg Donor Requirements | What Are the Qualifications to Donate Eggs?” West Coast Egg Donation, www.westcoasteggdonation.com/become-egg-donor/requirements#:~:text=Potential%20candidates%20can%20be%20disqualified,the%20inability%20to%20commit%20to 

5 Fertility, Santa M. “Do Egg Donors Have Parental Rights? – Legal Considerations of Egg Donation (2022).” Santa Monica Fertility, 16 May 2022, www.santamonicafertility.com/blog/do-egg-donors-have-parental-rights-legal-considerations-of-egg-donation/ 

6 “Infertility Patients Fear Abortion Bans Could Affect Access to IVF Treatment.” NPR.org, 21 July 2022, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/07/21/1112127457/infertility-patients-fear-abortion-bans-could-affect-access-to-ivf-treatment 

7 “Know Your Rights: Egg (Ovum) Donation.” Legal Voice, 9 Dec. 2022, legalvoice.org/know-your-rights-egg-donation/. 

8 “Paths to Parenthood: Receiving an Embryo Donation.” Harvard Health, 3 Feb. 2022, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/paths-to-parenthood-receiving-an-embryo-donation-202202032682#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20seeking%20to,is%20considerably%20less%20than%20adoption 

9 “Three-parent Baby Raises Issues of Long-term Health Risks.” University of Oxford, www.ox.ac.uk/research/three-parent-baby-raises-issues-long-term-health-risks#:~:text=This%20means%20the%20baby%20has,by%20far%20the%20smallest%20contribution 

10 “Three-parent Baby.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/science/three-parent-baby 

11www.3sisterssurrogacy.com/forms/351741Assisted_Reproduction_and_Gestational_%20Agreements.pdf 

Part 181- Why the British Monarchy should be Abolished

Welcome back to another post! Today we will be coming back to a topic I once briefly covered in the past: The British Monarchy. Now, short disclaimer before I begin: Everything in this post is of my own opinion based on research as well as accounts and stories I’ve learned about growing up. I have strong opinions about this topic so I will be very blunt and also speak informally in addressing people and title given that I simply do not care to do so. Given you have been notified, I will now proceed and explain the several factors of which I believe the British Monarchy should be abolished for.

Side Note: This post was originally going to be titled, ‘Why the British Monarchy can go suck it’, but given that it’s a little too bit of a vulgar term, I’ve revised it to something more suitable.

If you haven’t read my post on the Queen’s passing, then here is the link for that: Queen Elizabeth II’s Death In that I cover more in depth stories and events as well as reactions to the Queen’s death which will further justify my clams listed below. 

My main points for this topic are:

  • A Legacy of Colonization and Exploitation
  • Questioning the Relevance of the Monarchy
  • An Examination of Hypocrisy and Double Standards
  • Accountability and Reparation

Followed by a conclusion to summarize everything.

I live in a country that sometimes glorifies the British. The British are our allies, which is stupid since our original founding fathers moved to America to get away from England. I can’t agree with these views since, well, they aren’t great. My first point shows why.

A Legacy of Colonization and Exploitation

A big problem I have with the British Monarchy is how the expansion of their empire was based on deceit and subjugation. My prime examples will be from India, but this has happened in many, many other countries as well in the past. The British didn’t come to India under the motive of colonization, but under business. They actually deceived the people and took advantage of Indians and their resources. Before anyone realized what had happened, the British were already too powerful. During their rule, they treated Indians like they were dogs. They would have signs saying, ‘No dogs or Indians allowed’. They destroyed the education system and wiped out our history, replacing it with their system. India’s GDP was between 25 and 35% of the world’s total GDP, and that dropped to 2% by India’s Independence in 1947. The literacy rate was at 70% and dropped to 12% after the British. People were starving; they were dying and struggling to live. They were deprived of their food, resources, wealth and education after the British colony, leaving India to the country it is today: A small country with a big population.

British policemen hold men from the village of Kariobangi at gunpoint while their huts are searched for evidence that they participated in the Mau Mau Rebellion of 1952.

Questioning the Relevance of the Monarchy

The British monarchy is utterly useless. Like what is the actual point of them? They have their own Parliament- which is more flawed than anything else mind you- and still need royals to act as some face or whatever. Sure, the British monarchy was once the rulers of this great empire or something, but times have changed. Do we need you? No. The only purpose they actually serve is waving at people they take money from while sitting and looking pretty as they open new museums and sign birthday cards for 100-year-olds. Yeah, totally living the royal life. They could be literal trillionaires or even billionaires with the amount of wealth they have yet they still get money from the people. Like, what is the point of that? Relax guys, I think they can survive without a few million dollars. Oh yeah, wanna know what else? All that money and wealth they own isn’t theirs. A good portion of their wealth- including their ‘sacred’ Crown Jewels- are stolen from former countries and colonies they ruined. It would be really nice if they returned the Cullinan Diamonds or even the Kohinoor back to the original owners.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 11: One of the replica sets of the British Crown Jewels made in honour of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 (est. £5000- 7000) goes on view at Sotheby’s on January 11, 2018 in London, England. It will be auctioned in the Of Royal And Noble Descent sale at Sotheby’s London on the 17th January 2018. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

An Examination of Hypocrisy and Double Standards

Another thing I want to point out is that the whole West is better than East conception. It’s often seen with America and the UK being seen as some supreme country that is all-powerful or something. Yeah not really. I mean, in terms of technology and development you could say so. But in reality, a lot of policies they implement or even things they’ve done are just really hypocritical. For example, calling things a flawed democracy or a full democracy. There’s something called a Democracy Index which is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit- a division of the Economist Group which is a UK-based private company. Emphasis on UK-based. How biased. A flawed democracy is defined as a nation where elections are fair and free and basic civil liberties are honored but may have issues. (Media freedom infringement and minor suppression of political opposition and critics.) There are 5 categories of which 60 questions are asked: Electoral process and pluralism Civil liberties Functioning of government Political participation Political culture Given this, I will very much point out that the UK does not deserve to be as highly ranked as it currently is. (18th) Firstly, the UK Parliament- is split into the House or Lords and House of Commons. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with 650 members and the House of Lords has 778 members and has a kind of passed-down title. Although this is now abolished, there are still 92 out of 750 hereditary peers who sit in the House of Lords. Now, putting all this aside, I want to point out the biggest hypocritical factor in all this. Minor suppression of political opposition and critics. So the monarchy doesn’t have much power, yet it still has some say in the way of politics. For example, a Royal Assent of the Monarch is required for all Bills to become law, and certain delegated legislation must be made by the Monarch by Order in Council. The Monarch also has some executive powers to do this such as make treaties, declare war, award honors, and appoint officers and civil servants. So really, they are still somewhat significant in politics. My main point is that there still is oppression against criticism against the Monarchy. Just recently, during the King’s coronation, a group of ‘Not my King’ activists protested during the ceremony and had 64 people arrested. The reasons for arrest were:

  • Prevent a breach of the peace
  • Conspiracy to cause a public nuisance
  • Concerns people were going to disrupt the event

So even basic protesting is wrong? I mean, the whole point of protesting is to get your voice heard and motivate change. Sure, these are valid concerns. But, really? Protests will cause public nuisance. Not everyone will like them but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily bad. If they had started to get violent then yes, it’s a problem. But from the clips and articles I’ve seen, these protestors were peacefully protesting. Now, while some arrests made were for weapons and drugs, others seem to be simply for disrupting the event.

Is expressing an opinion now wrong? Can people no longer freely express what they feel about something anymore? Not everyone has to like the monarchy, and if people want to bring some change about it by protesting peacefully, shouldn’t they be allowed to do so? Even before the coronation was set to begin, they were told that over 1,000 protestors were expected to gather and demonstrate against the event. Taking this into account, shouldn’t they have known that there would be some public nuisance? This also goes against the basic civil liberties, as stated for one of the categories which a government is labeled. If one gets arrested for expressing these civil liberties, then really, shouldn’t they be lower in their ranking?

Accountability and Reparation

Do you know how infuriating it is to see the British Monarchy flaunt their golden carriages and Crown Jewels across the world to the countries they stole it from? Do you know how much it angers me to see them enjoying the luxuries and goods they stole from my people and so may others? Do you know how painful it is to imagine your ancestors suffer and cry and watch helplessly as the ancestors of those royals and British proudly took our resources, our wealth, our history and culture, and even our lives? How they watched as we suffered and killed ourselves so we wouldn’t be killed by them? How even today, such events are considered ‘a shame’? How not even a simple, sincere apology is uttered? How do they dare to flaunt their wealth so proudly to millions across national and even global television with no shame as to how they even got these luxuries from?

And they still think they deserve to be called royals or to have some position? Despite how hypocritical and racist they are? None of them do. That’s why I believe the British Monarchy needs to be abolished and the Crown Jewels as well as wealth should be returned back to the countries they stole it from.

Part 180- Losing a loved one

It’s laughable, really, how you never truly understand something until it’s slowly approaching your own life. Only when it actually affects you, do you start to understand what it truly means, or the gravity of that situation.
My grandfather…doesn’t have much time to live. 

I traveled to India two weeks ago with my mother to visit him. The reality of the situation had not yet hit me at that time either, when I had first decided I wanted to go with her. In fact, reality seemed like a dream. I couldn’t believe I was going to India so suddenly. What had been weeks of planning for my previous trip had become an hours prior decision for this one. I sent emails out to my teachers, messages to my friends, informing them of my situation and of my responsibilities to keep up with the current school work. Comforting replies came back, and I was overwhelmed by the love and compassion from so many of them. It was still then I didn’t realize the situation.

Even at the airport, after clearing security and boarding the first flight. It was surreal. The hours slowly went by as I squeezed in moments of homework and movies and music through the flights, my mind elsewhere from where we were going to.

Even stepping foot in India didn’t feel real. How strange it was to be back only a little after a year. The memory of me crying on the car ride to the airport to fly back home greeted me. The moment where I cried, wondering if I wouldn’t be able to come back for years again. What would I have thought at that time, knowing I would return just as quickly, but under different circumstances?

Even after stepping into my uncle’s home and seeing my grandparents, I still didn’t understand my situation. It did, though, show me how age had left its mark on my grandfather.

He’s 76 and weaker than I had seen him a year ago. He had lost weight. A lot of it. His arms were skinny and he had lost a considerable amount of weight from his upper body. I learned that this was from an inability to eat. He could only eat a liquid form of rice and dal, and still only a small portion of it. His face also looked weary; his eyes yellow and frowned from sadness. He was frail; needing to sit down often and take frequent naps. His responses have slowed, and it takes him a minute to understand something said or asked.

Disregarding all this, I still can’t forget one thing that stood out to me that day. The happiness in his smile seeing me and my mother enter the house. The way he pulled both of us into a hug and held us there. I still didn’t understand the situation.

Days passed by. It was too hot. I felt sticky. I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. What was an exurb again? How do I solve a polar function? Oh, I missed gram staining…that’s alright. I slowly adjusted. My wandering mind at night overcame the pestering jet lag. Melatonin and late night discussions helped. Lingering questions did not.

I guess I really understood the situation a few days later into my trip. It was when I saw my mother cry; when I saw my aunt cry; when I saw my grandmother cry. After seeing these three women- these three amazing women in my life who have supported me and stood stronger than I have- break down quietly and even loudly in front of me, I understood the situation.

I had never seen my mother cry. Heard, yes. Seen, no. She’s a strong woman, who sees things with a determined point of view. Seeing her cry was different. I didn’t know what to do other than quietly hug her and pat her back, like she does for me. Same with my aunt. It was my first time seeing her cry, and I tried to comfort her all the same. Seeing my grandmother cry was devastating.

On our last day, before we left for the airport she started crying- no, sobbing. She hugged my mother first, and as I slowly approached her she grabbed me into a tight hug as well. How hard it must be for her, but I did not know what to say.

The final hug with my grandfather upsets me. Why didn’t I cry? Why couldn’t I cry? How could I not cry? How foolish I have been to take the time I have with him for granted these past years, and how upsetting it is that I act this way in possibly the last moments I see him in person again.
My mother must have realized it as well. As we sat on the couch with him- my mother and I on opposite ends and laying our heads on his shoulder, his arms around us- I heard her cries. Why couldn’t I do that? To at least show what I truly felt at that moment. Perhaps it was my own brain not wanting this final memory to be of me crying as he hugged me.

I had cried a few times before during the trip. Once late at night while talking to my mother, another when my mother was talking to my cousin and I, and a third later on. I cried realizing how limited my interactions with him had been. The downside of being a child of immigrant parents appeared before my eyes. I had counted 7- maybe one or two more- visits in which I had been with him in person out of all 15 years of my life. I cried again as my mother explained my grandfather’s condition to my younger cousin and I, and how we needed to make use of the remaining time left: pictures, audio recordings, talking. I didn’t want to cry but it started to dawn on me more and more, just how serious things were becoming. I cried a third time when I realized how the world moves on regardless of what happens in your life.

My tears were mainly of frustration. I had gotten emails about making up the English STAAR I had missed, as well as completing my math test before an upcoming deadline. I had a Biology STAAR the day after I returned, and an orchestra concert two days afterward. ( I had not practiced in a week) I got frustrated with my dad- who at that time was trying to help me manage my studies and test preparations- every time he called me about homework. How could everything else keep going when I’m faced with this current situation? Why do I have to do this? I wanted to stop doing all my work and just use my time with my grandfather. Of course, I couldn’t. That’s the last thing he would want.

I cried while writing this post. Several times, actually. I video called him this morning and I wanted to cry. The way he greets me each phone call, saying ‘Hi beta,’ and waving. The way he quietly listens for the majority of the call as my aunt talks with us. The way he slowly understands what I say, and then responds a minute later.

Seeing how I am now, I don’t know what I’ll be like when he passes away. More importantly, what about my mother? I’ve known him 15 years of my life and with few interactions while she has for longer than I have. Before he was my grandfather, he was her dad. He being the person she cried to or argued with. He is the one who supported her more than anything. He is the one who pushed her and raised her. How can I help her at that moment? When she’s at her most vulnerable, most upset, and most devastated? I’m not ready for that moment.

Do you see how ridiculous it is? How can you only understand something until it affects you? You realize how sympathy does little to help, other than make you upset or somewhat comforted when others care. You want them to understand how you truly feel, but also hope they don’t have to go through this situation as well. Time is a cruel thing, and even crueler when you live halfway around the world from your family. If only I could turn back time to last year, or any point in the 7 years before that where I could have gone to India at least once just to visit. That way I could have spent more time with them- him. But time doesn’t work like that. So I have only one thing left. To call him. As often as I can, no matter what. Just to ask if he’s eaten, or how he is, or anything else. Something I want to do but can’t without some complications. But still, I must keep trying. Because, time is precious and you don’t realize it until you have a loved one close to dying.

Part 179- Contract

 Hey so I wrote my very first ‘legal’ contract. So here’s how I got to this very difficult position. My grades were not up to par with my very much Indian parents’ expectations. (Mind you I’ve got excellent grades. Not impressive enough apparently.) Due to this very tiresome reason, I got my Instagram app deleted. (And Weverse but we don’t talk about that ) In order to get my beloved very useless social app back, I made a deal with my very much so Indian father on a list of activities I would need to complete for a certain period of time. These were then condensed into a contract, which I have written down below. Please enjoy reading about my suffering. Thank you. 🙂  

PS: My contract writing business is now open and I am willing/very desperate to take new clients. Please support this business run by a teenager. 

Agreement for the reinstallment of Instagram 

This is an agreement dated 02/22/2023  between _____ referred to as Daughter of _______ residence and _______ referred to as Dad of _______ Residence.

What is to be exchanged

  1. This is an agreement made between the parties for the reinstallment and usage of the Instagram app on Daughter’s iPhone in exchange for Daughter completing the following requirements up to exactly a week from the starting date (02/22/2023):

    1. Complete 5 pages of Kumon either digitally or physically (on paper). A page is considered front and back of a worksheet. Necessary corrections to prior work must be completed before beginning a new set of a 5-page worksheet. 

    2. Write a review of the school day’s activities and learning. This includes new concepts, getting ahead topics/assignments, upcoming tests and quizzes, and a daily summary of what was learned

    3. Tweeting everyday with proper format, including hashtags, on something related to United States politics. This includes but is not limited to:

      1. Congress: Senate and House of Representatives members, Vice President, Speaker of the House

      2. President, Cabinet

      3. Supreme Court

    4. Having evident proof of having “got ahead” in my studies. This includes getting ahead for assignments due later or learning new concepts for a subject ahead of time

    5. Sitting with at least 3 different people for lunch for three different days. This excludes the following people:

      1. _______ referred to as F1 (Friend 1)

      2. _______ referred to as F2 (Friend 2)

      3. Someone I have already sat with for this agreement

  2. The promises above will be completed on or before midnight 11:59 pm of Thursday March 2nd 2023.

  3. Payment will be performed by Dad, by reinstalling the Instagram app on Daughter’s phone, and allowing usage of it without any prohibitions, restrictions, or limitations on the amount, activity, or usage of the app. 

Termination

  1. This agreement will come to an end when the following requirements as listed above have been completed without fail and need to ask for completion. If failed to do so, a punishment will be invoked of which there will be added requirements and an extended time period of which the app will be installed and able to be used. 

Dispute resolution

  1. If a dispute arises out of or relates to this agreement, and the dispute cannot be resolved by negotiations between the parties, the parties agree first to try in good faith to resolve the dispute by mediation before resorting to arbitration, litigation or some other dispute resolution procedure. 

Severability

  1. If any part of this agreement is found to be unenforceable, the rest of this agreement will remain enforceable without the unenforceable part. 

  2. If in any case there are excessive limitations, delays, or extra restrictions added to this agreement even after the requirements have been fulfilled correctly, on time, without fail, this agreement will be enforced immediately and the ending benefits shall be given without hesitation 

Governing law and jurisdiction

  1. The governing law and jurisdiction for this agreement are as follows:

  • The laws of the ____ Residence and the laws of _____ referred to as Mother, applicable in that residence govern this agreement.

  • The parties agree that the courts of ____ Residence will have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide any litigation relating to this agreement.

Each of the parties has read this agreement and agrees to be bound by it.

————————————

Party’s signature

————————————

Party’s signature

————————————

Name

————————————

Name

————————————

Date signed

————————————

Date signed



Part 178- Geneva Conventions

Hello! Today’s post will be a geopolitical one and in this we will be discussing the Geneva Conventions. In today’s post we will delve into the significance of the Geneva Conventions and their impact on international humanitarian law. In times of armed conflict, these treaties play a crucial role in protecting civilians, prisoners of war, and wounded soldiers. We’ll explore the history, purpose, and key provisions of the Geneva Conventions, which have become the cornerstone of contemporary humanitarian efforts worldwide.

Our post will have these main factors:

  • The Genesis of the Geneva Conventions
  • A Code of Protection
  • A Growing Body of International Law
  • Ensuring Accountability for Atrocities
  • Global Adoption and Application

Followed by a conclusion to summarize everything we discussed. Let’s get started!

The Genesis of the Geneva Conventions

The idea for the Geneva Conventions was first brought up by a Genevan business man, Henry Dunant. After witnessing the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino, a gory battle in the Second War of Italian Independence, Dunant wrote a first-hand account of what he had seen; called A Memory of Solferino. Along with his observations, he had proposed a solution: ‘All nations come together to create trained, volunteer relief groups to treat battlefield wounded and offer humanitarian assistance to those affected by war.’ (As noted by HISTORY.com

The Geneva Conventions only apply in times of armed conflict, and are primarily designed to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part on hostilities. However, these apply to government who have ratified its terms. Every country has ratified all four Geneva conventions, but the protocols ratified varies. Countries who have ratified all four Geneva Conventions and three protocols include the majority of European and South American countries, the majority of Oceania, a few African Countries, as well as the Philippines and Kazakhstan. The United States has only ratified Protocol III in addition to Geneva Conventions I-IV. 

A Code of Protection

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols is a body of Public International Law, designed for the treatment of civilians, prisoners of war, and soldiers incapable of fighting. There are four Geneva Conventions and three Additional Protocols; and these are a major part of international humanitarian law adopted by all nations in the world.

The First Geneva Convention was in 1864, and was adopted to protect wounded and infirm soldiers and medical personnel who are not in active hostility against a Party. The first attempt to expand this treaty being unsuccessful led to a clarification of these ru;es, and extended them to maritime warfare. 

The Second Geneva Convention improved and supplemented the 1864 convention by extending its protections to victims of maritime warfare, including shipwrecked soldiers and other naval forces, as well as special protections to hospital ships. 

The 1929 conference yielded two conventions. One, for the protection of wounded and sick armies in the field, was the third version to replace the original 1864 convention, and the other was adopted after the experiences of WWI showed the deficiencies in the protection of prisoners of war. The Third Geneva Convention required that ‘belligerents treat prisoners of war humanely, furnish information about them, and permit official visits to prison camps by representatives of neutral states.’ It replaced the 1929 Geneva Convention that dealt with prisoners of war. 

In addition to these three conventions, a Fourth Geneva Convention was added with protection of civilians. It gave civilians the same protections from inhumane treatment and attack afforded to sick and wounded soldiers in the first Convention. This was added after WWII due to the horrific acts on and off the battlefield performed by the Germans. 

With two Geneva Conventions revised and adopted, and the second and fourth added in 1949, the whole set is referred to as ‘Geneva Conventions of 1949’ or just the ‘Geneva Conventions. The 1949 conventions have been further modified with three amendment protocols. 

A Growing Body of International Law

Over the years, the Geneva Conventions have evolved to address the changing nature of warfare and protect individuals from new threats. The three Additional Protocols, adopted in 1977, further enhanced the conventions’ protections, covering civilians, military workers, and journalists during international armed conflicts.

Protocol I increased protections for civilians, military workers, and journalists during international armed conflicts and blended the use of “weapons that cause superfluous injury  or unnecessary suffering,” or cause “widespread, long-term and severe damage to teh natural environment.”

Protocol II stated that all people not taking up arms be treated humanely and there should never be an order by anyone in command for “no survivors.” It was also added that children should be well cared and educated for, prohibiting taking hostages, terrorism, pillage, slavery, group punishment, and  humiliating or degrading treatment. 

Protocol III was created to recognize the symbol of the red crystal, an additional emblem of humanitarian protection, in addition to the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red shield of David as universal; emblems of identification and protection in armed conflicts. 

Ensuring Accountability for Atrocities

Grave breaches are the most serious crimes. Ensuring accountability for these breaches is essential to deter future atrocities and promote a more just world. Grave breaches of Geneva Conventions III and IV include:

  • Willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment, including biological experiments
  • Willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health
  • Compelling a protected person to serve in the armed forces of a hostile power
  • Willfully depriving a protected person of the right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime

Grave breaches of  Geneva Convention IV also include:

  • Taking hostages
  • Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly 
  • Unlawful deportation, transfer, or confinement

Global Adoption and Application

The Geneva Conventions only apply in times of armed conflict, and are primarily designed to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part on hostilities. However, these apply to government who have ratified its terms. Every country has ratified all four Geneva conventions, but the protocols ratified varies. Countries who have ratified all four Geneva Conventions and three protocols include the majority of European and South American countries, the majority of Oceania, a few African Countries, as well as the Philippines and Kazakhstan. The United States has only ratified Protocol III in addition to Geneva Conventions I-IV. 

Conclusion

Despite warfare changing dramatically over the years, the Geneva Conventions are still considered the “cornerstone of contemporary international humanitarian law.” These treaties have come into play in recent international; armed conflicts including the War in Afghanistan, 2003 invasion of Iraq, invasion of Chechnya, and even the non-international armed conflict of the Syrian civil war. The world would have been a much different, possibly less humane place, if these Conventions had not been adopted. 

Works Cited

(n.d.). American Red Cross | Help Those Affected by Disasters. https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/International_Services/International_Humanitarian_Law/IHL_SummaryGenevaConv.pdf

Geneva conventions and their additional protocols. (n.d.). LII / Legal Information Institute. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/geneva_conventions_and_their_additional_protocols

Geneva conventions. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Geneva-Conventions

History.com Editors. (2017, November 17). Geneva Convention. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/geneva-convention

International committee of the Red Cross. (2018, July 16). International Committee of the Red Cross. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/geneva-conventions-1949-additional-protocols

Protocol additional to the Geneva conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts (Protocol 1). (n.d.). OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/protocol-additional-geneva-conventions-12-august-1949-and

Part 177- Police Brutality and Social Injustice

There’s a line between ‘enforcing the law’, and ‘police brutality’. Enforcing the law is making sure the law is obeyed and punishing people who do not do so, while police brutality is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement against an individual or group. We’ve seen these cases with the BLM movement in 2020 and now the recent one with Tyre Nichols. Back in 2020 we tried to come up with ways to end the police violence that caused these problems, yet we’re here once again, fighting. 

The reality is, we can’t just stop something like this by taking away power or certain methods. People will always find a different way to take a course of action. The way we can do something about this is something psychologically. We, as a society, need to change our mindset. We need to stop stereotyping and having a set prejudice about people. 
Stereotypes/prejudice is something set and rooted in our minds and our thoughts that is difficult to change. We may not see or realize it at first, but there are certain actions we do that shows it. Sometimes it’s a minor thing that isn’t a problem, while other times it’s a major issue. Let’s take a stereotype we are familiar with in the past year. Asian discrimination. Now, the stereotype towards Asians could be at a minor or a major scale. 
For me, I’m a fan of Korean groups like Seventeen and TXT, so whenever I see someone Korean or Asian, my mind goes back to that. I unknowingly associate the two together, leading to a stereotype. On a major scale, there’s Asian hate. Due to the fact that COVID came from China, people have started to discriminate against Asians and Asian-Americans. This has lead to Asian violence, hate crimes, and many other terrible incidences. The fact whether that person was actually the “cause” of a problem or whether they were actually Chinese or not didn’t matter. Violence/ hate was the immediate though towards an Asian because of the pandemic origins. 
Now, with the police, stereotyping can be seen with police brutality. People say police brutality is the human rights violations by the police, when reality, it’s more of a racism/stereotyping issue. It’s a social injustice issue. The police could be given less power, given fewer weapons, or something of the kind. But that won’t change the mindset. The given mindset is that people of color like black people are dangerous. They cause trouble. They commit crimes. This reasoning causes a stereotype to think that all people of the same color or ethnicity are the same- just as dangerous and troublesome. This, deeply engraved in the mind, causes one to act wary or take extra precaution around them. This ‘extra precaution’ could mean using more force than necessary in certain situations. This leads to police brutality. Here’s another example. After 9/11 Muslim-Americans or even people with brown skin- like Indians- were discriminated against. There are reports of increased police attacks against Muslim-Americans after the attacks, despite them being innocent. Today, in airports, people of brown skin are watched with extra caution, simply because of the stereotype they could be a terrorist. The brown skin color is what causes this stereotype. That’s racism.
In America, black people are more strongly discriminated against because of our history. Relating to what I said earlier, the discrimination comes from the perception they- black people- cause trouble. The bleak history of slavery and segregation in the United States is still faintly present in today’s laws, mindsets, and thoughts. Policies and laws are made ever so cautiously in a way to be against black people because of how we thought in the past. Although it’s not directly pointed out, it still exists. 
History and experiences cause these stereotypes, and they as a result get rooted in our inns over time until they become an unconscious perception or even mindset. It alters how we act, how we think, and how we react, leading to problems. Like I said before, this is not a simple issue that can be fixed by taking away power or access to things. It’s a psychological matter. It’s a matter of removing that stereotype from policies, laws, and even minds in order to prevent violence, racism, and discrimination against different races, genders, or ethnicities. Without this, we’ll never be able to change and actually make an impact. 

Part 176- Setbacks

During the summer of 2019, I went to my very first and- to this day- my last orchestra camp. I have not gone to one again in the past 3-4 years, and most likely will not ever again. That summer camp left me with a bitter resentment towards myself and my instrument that I was determined to change.

I’ve been playing the violin for almost 9 years now; so since I was 5 years old. The violin has always been the sole instrument I loved and wanted to play. Today, I’m not sure what exactly drew me to this particular instrument, but I can say that it was something I was dead set on. I still remember my first lesson and the amount of joy I had when playing it. As soon as I got home I started practicing. Despite only knowing how to play open-string rhythms I felt excited. It was my instrument. My violin, and I was playing it. Over the course of my lessons I started to play notes. Basic rhythms and melodies from my beginner’s book. I eventually had my very first recital. My piece was the classic, “Twinkle Twinkle”. I think I was last to perform and I remember how nervous I was. I remember holding a paper with the names of students performing unfamiliar pieces and listening to the faint sound of music. Eventually it was my turn. Just as it started, it was over. It was, really, a wonderful moment in my life. I don’t remember my performance details, but I remember feeling proud and accomplished that day. I continued to improve as a musician and I grew with my instrument. I remember each time I got a bigger instrument and how I preferred certain cases over others. I remember my practice sessions and how my teacher would convince me to practice with musical bingo. This continued until our move in 2016. 
Texas was different than the Ohio I had grown up in. Over the course of getting settled, we also had started looking for a violin teacher for me. I’ve had at least 10 different violin teachers from the time I first started up to now. More than half of those come from 2016-2019. Each teacher had a different way of teaching and a different reason we couldn’t continue with them. One was too far away, another was constantly late. One of them left and a different teacher took their place. A different teacher left a year or so after I joined and was then replaced twice. The second time was the last teacher I had before I started middle school. Over these years I grew distant from my instrument. I lost all joy in playing it. It became more of a burden when I had violin lessons than an opportunity to learn. I never practiced or even touched my instrument anytime other than during lessons. I never learned during that period. I remember that before I moved I had just started learning how to use my 4th finger on the instrument. After the move, not a single teacher ever taught me how to use it. I couldn’t even tune my own instrument. No one had ever taught me how to. I always gave it to my teacher and waited until they were finished. Now, not all my teachers were bad. Some of them actually taught me things to improve my musical abilities. But due to the constant switching I never was able to continue those things. 5 years into playing my violin, I still had the skills of a beginner. Maybe even worse than I did when I first started. I never realized it or even felt the need to do anything about it. That all changed during the summer of 2019.
A very good friend of mine has been playing the violin since she was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Not as long as I have, but much, much better than I am. Even though I’ve heard her play for over 4 years, she never fails to amaze me with her skills. She’s an excellent musician and is remarkable. When we first became friends we found out we have a common interest: playing the violin. She invited me for this string camp over the summer to which I was really excited for. There were a few problems though. One, I had a brand new instrument. I had gotten a bigger violin a few weeks prior to the camp and I did not know how to play it. I was still playing with tapes and could not even accurately play a note without them. I was grateful that my friend’s teacher offered to put them on for me when I brought her some tape. Even still, I couldn’t play. Two, the music was difficult. Looking over the string music makes me laugh. The pieces are quite easy and very simple to play. Back then the music frightened me. I couldn’t play or even understand the basic melody at all. It took time for me to even process where we were or what was happening each time we rehearsed. I had to fake every second of it. The camp was a week long- Monday to Friday- and we had a performance Friday afternoon. For 5 whole days, my life was like hell. Each day I went was a feeling of dread. I constantly asked my parents to let me skip or to quit. 
The key memory I have from this was when we had individual sectionals. Each day, after rehearsal all together, we would practice with our individual section. It was the day before our performance. We had a chair test. Everyone had to play a few measures from the given piece, and they would determine which seat you had. Before it started I had told our teacher that I was new and might play at a slow speed. She assured me it was fine and to do my best. So there I sat, maybe 4th to play, anxiously waiting for my turn. My heart was pounding rapidly and my palms were becoming sweatier by the second. It was finally my turn to play. I had heard the previous kids play and I was terrified. I was shaking as I held up my instrument and tried to play. I looked at the page and placed my fingers down. I played one note and that’s it. I couldn’t comprehend where to place my fingers after that or what the next note was. I didn’t know how to play at all. That moment was the most humiliating moment of my life. I could feel all eyes on me as I struggled. I was too overwhelmed and burst into tears. The teacher just silently patted me on the back and told me to go get my performance shirt. I can only imagine what they all through as I walked out. Perhaps ridicule or maybe pity. I don’t even know how I managed to go back there with everyone else after what happened. I was placed last for my section. It gave me the benefit of being hidden so no one knew if I was faking or not, but also showed how poorly I must have done to get that chair. The day during the performance was really the only time I could lighten up. I felt happier solely because it was almost over. We were the second group to play, so while the first was warming up the rest of us were in the audience chatting. I sat with my friend and her other friend. Like my friend, the other girl was remarkable at playing. A piece of advice she gave me when taking was, “Don’t be lazy like me when practicing.” At that time I could only feel frustration and annoyance. Looking back, I can assume she may have only meant well and was being nice. But given the circumstances, I thought she was ridiculing me for my poor performance and was comparing it to herself. 
After that performance I only hoped to not go to another string camp again. I never did, but I faced the reality of being in a school orchestra. I started middle school in Concert Orchestra, Second violin, last chair. It was a relatively small orchestra but it was still disappointing. Compared to the Symphonic Orchestra my friend, and a violist in our grade we knew, was in, or the Chamber Orchestra with breathtaking students, Concert was a sad sight. I dreaded 7th period Orchestra every day until I faced the reality: I had to improve. The benefit of a school orchestra is the option of private lessons. They had different PL teachers you could learn from and that was like a dream. The teacher I started with- in middle school- was strict but also wonderful. Immediately on my first day she helped me improve in so many ways. She helped me relax when playing, produce a better sound, tone, and actually play. I remember going home that night and showing my parents what I learned. They were impressed, and more than that, I was overjoyed with this new revelation. The once put out fire I had for learning my instrument started to rekindle again. From that day, I started practicing everyday. I dedicated at least 30 minutes each day to my instrument. As soon as I got home, I would unease and start playing. Over the course of that year, so many things happened. One, I actually learned how to turn my instrument. The one thing I had never been suggested was a tuner. I got my first tuner and learned how to tune my instrument by myself. My days of anxiously asking an adult to tune it for me were over. Two, I moved up. In less than 4 months I moved up from second violin last chair, to first violin second chair. I remained as a first violin from that point and continued to grow. Three, I got my final PL teacher. The teacher I currently learn with has been teaching me for almost 4 years now, and I could not be more grateful for her. She has helped me learn and improve in so many more ways in these 4 years than I ever could have in the past. My goal from that year was to make it into Chamber Orchestra. The Orchestra I could only dream about. I finally did that next year, and was still in it the year after that. I went through a few auditions in that period. I auditioned for Region last year and made it. I auditioned for FWYO Philharmonic Orchestra, twice, and even though I haven’t gotten in yet, I still feel determined to try again. I auditioned and got into Camerata  Orchestra in my high school Orchestra. (The highest a freshman can audition for) The progress I made form that state to now is something I’m proud of. Even though, today, I may not be the best in my Orchestra, I’m still improving. From the beginning of the school year to now I’ve improved and still am. This is what matters most to me. 
We’re currently playing Carmen by Georges Bizet. When we first got this piece I could only gulp nervously and play softly. But now I can play this piece. I can play in the “stratosphere”- as my director likes to call it- and I can play the main themes well. For the other students it may not seem like a big deal to play Carmen, but for me, the fact I can play a piece of this difficulty and play it with my peers at a crazy fast performance speed makes me proud. Considering where I started 3 years from now, I can only feel determined to work harder to improve more. My next goal is to get into high school region, and to make it into our high school Chamber Orchestra. When they first played during our Fall Concert, I decided I wanted to be part of that orchestra. It was middle school all over again. They were truly breath-taking, and I want to be part of that one day. I also want to perform music as complex, beautiful, and wonderful as they did, and play to amaze a crowd like I was that day. I may not be the best right now, but given the previous results, a little determination- and practice- can go a long way. 
Not just for violin, but for any other setback I’ve had in my life. I’ve realized that determination and hard work is what it takes to reach the top. No matter what, that’s the key.