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YOU CAN PLAY GAY ATHLETES. STRAIGHT ALLIES. TEAMING UP FOR RESPECT

One Nation ...for pg. All 40 Living Local pg. 22 Also Inside: Monsant-who?...pg. 14 Obamacares...pg. 50 The Gift of Kenya...pg. 30

EPIC MAGAZINE - ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY

ISSUE 02

EPIC MAGAZINE

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INNOVATION INTEGRATION INVENTION IMAGINATION where the student is front and center Visit us at www.robertmorris.edu/icenter

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THE EVOLUTION OF EDUCATION

07 Are children in our classrooms

learning scientific theory, or has the Christian belief of creationism taken root in our public school system? Epic investigates.

BY BLAKE WHITMORE

EQUAL WORK & UNEQUAL WAGES

11 Women still earn less than men.

How do wages in the United States compare to those in other countries?

BY OLIVIA BODLEY

MONSANT-WHO?

YOU CAN PLAY

know whether their foods have been genetically motified? Read more about this controversial health issue.

hockey players and their coach stand up for the rights of LGBT athletes and participate in a video featured on the Epic iPad edition. Read more about the You Can Play project here.

14 Do consumers have the right to

BY RICHARD CONNOLLY

CHICAGO’S UPTOWN

18 Epic explores the best destinations in one of Chicago’s northside neighborhood, Uptown.

BY RICHARD CONNOLLY

20 Three Robert Morris University

BY ADAM UHRICH

LIVING LOCAL

22 Contributing writer and Professor

Jenny Jocks-Stelzer investigates how to support and sustain local economies in a global society.

BY JENNY JOCKS-STELZER

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HOMOPHOBIA

ONE NATION FOR ALL

has been all over the news in the past year. In this issue, the Epic staff weighs in on the boycott and what it means to stand up for human rights.

between church and state exist in our culture today? What did our forefathers have to say on this subject? And what are the ramifications for today’s society?

26 The Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant

BY BLAKE WHITMORE

THE GIFT OF KENYA

30 Have you ever thought about

taking an exotic vacation to an unknown place on a whim? Booking a trip online because it’s a great deal? After reading Andrew Harris’s account of his adventure to Kenya, you’ll be dying to travel to a distant land.

BY ANDREW HARRIS

40 Does the concept of separation

EPIC MAGAZINE OP-ED

187 IN THE 312

44 How does the rising murder rate

in Chicago in 2012 compare to recent figures? And what is the City of Chicago doing about it? Hear it from one Chicago policeman.

BY LIZETTE ULLOA

A HOW-TO GUIDE: SKITTLES VODKA

48 In need of a new cocktail? Feeling

creative? Check out Epic’s guide, and make this fun and colorful cocktail for your next gathering.

BY RICHARD CONNOLLY

OBAMACARES

50 Are you wondering how the

Affordable Care Act will impact your healthcare options? Epic highights some of the most notable features and provides some before ACA/after ACA comparisons.

BY OMAR JOHNSON

PRISON CYCLE

52 Epic investigates the revolving door of the U.S. penal system.

BY CARMEN HORNE

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Editor-in-Chief Ben Uhrich

Photographer Andrew Harris

Designers Olivia Bodley Richard Connolly Javier Frias Blake Whitmore

Videographers Alex Fulford Lidia Rosales

Writers Olivia Bodley Richard Connolly Andrew Harris Carmen Horne Omar Johnson Lizette Ulloa Blake Whitmore

Contributor Carolyn Pavelkis Contributing Writers Jenny Jocks-Stelzer Adam Uhrich

Project Manager/ Creative Direction Carolyn Pavelkis Editors Paul Gazak Jenny Jocks-Stelzer Carolyn Pavelkis

Dean of IAD Janice Kaushal Dean of iCenter Jill McGinty

Robert Morris University is an independent, not-forprofit, multi-location institution offering associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degree programs that focus on integrating theory and applications. Robert Morris University prepares students to be practitioners in their chosen fields, socially responsible to their communities, and a foundation for their families.

Robert Morris University offers professional, career-focused education in a collegiate setting to diverse communities. Epic is published by Robert Morris University’s Integration Center in association with the Institute of Art & Design. Epic is a student-produced collaborative publication of Robert Morris University and does not necessarily represent, in whole or in part, the views of college administrators, faculty or the student body. Robert Morris University students can join the staff of Epic magazine by signing up through the iCenter Project Board on the RMU website: www.robertmorris.edu. For more information about becoming a writer, designer or contributor for Epic, contact the Epic staff at epicmagazine@robertmorris.edu. Students from all majors and campuses may be eligible to enroll. Epic encourages faculty, staff and alumni from all disciplines to contribute to the magazine.

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On our cover: Our Editor-in-Chief, Ben Uhrich, a former RMU hockey player, developed the concept for this issue’s feature article, “You Can Play, “ highlighting the extraordinary You Can Play project featuring NHL players showing their support for LGBT athletes. Ben’s idea was to publish an article about this important project and enlist RMU hockey players and coaches to participate in their own You Can Play video. Directed by Ben, the video production was a collaboration between cameramen Alex Fulford and Lidia Rosales and IAD Professors Rob Kosin, Carolyn Pavelkis and Mary Russell. The cover, photographed by Carolyn Pavelkis, features Kyle Hamilton, one of the players featured in the video, in the RMU Gold Team locker room at the Edge Ice Arena.

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The

Evolution of Education EPIC MAGAZINE

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By Blake Whitmore In 1859, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published, but the idea of evolution has actually been around much longer than that. As far back as ancient Greece, scientist began to formulate theories involving the idea of evolution. Charles Darwin only solidified the idea with his theory of natural selection. The theory of evolution is taught in biology classrooms around the world, but this chapter of biology class is being challenged. In the words of English ethologist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene, “Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun, but the full implications of Darwin’s revolution have yet to be widely realized.” Despite how strongly Dawkins feels about the theory of evolution, not everyone in the world is so convinced. Religion offers another option for our beginning and that is creationism. Creationism is the religious belief that all life and the universe were created by a supernatural being, usually referencing the God of the Bible. Creationism has no evidence to back it up other than the Bible and therefore it has undergone a lot of criticism by the scientific community. There being no evidence makes sense to religious followers though, because religion has always been about faith. The controversy of science verse religion is about as old as time itself. One of the most well known controversies was that of the Galileo affair. In 1616, Galileo Galilei promoted Copernicus’ heliocentric theory, or the idea that the sun was the center of the universe and the Earth revolved around the sun. The heliocentric theory created conflicts with the Catholic scholars who believed in the geocentric theory, that the Earth was the center of the universe. In 1633, Galileo was forced to stand trial for suspicion of heresy. He was convicted and

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T H E EVO L UT I O N O F E D U C AT I O N

remained under house arrest for the remainder of his life. His offending works on the theory were banned and publication of any of his works, including future works, was forbidden. Today we know that the sun is not the center of the universe, but that the Earth does in fact rotate around the sun. It only makes sense that as technology advances and science moves forward we learn more. Modern religions began thousands of years ago and scientists have learned a lot since then. The struggle to convince religious leaders and devout followers that the theory of evolution is the most logical and backed up theory to date has been an uphill battle. The ongoing argument has reached a new crossroads. Some Creationists do not want their children to be taught the theory of evolution in the classroom, while other Creationists want Creationism taught along side evolution. The debate of whether or not Evolution or Creationism should be taught in a biology class requires a bit of knowledge on both subjects. First, one needs to know what qualifies an idea as a scientific theory. Note that this is a scientific theory, not just a theory. Qualifications for a scientific theory are much more complex and rigorous than just any old theory. A scientific theory is based on facts that have been proven multiple times after many experiments and observations. Evolution has been a growing theory for thousands of years. Only in 1859 did it take its first steps in becoming a scientific theory. That year Charles Darwin made advances in evolutionary thought and published his most recognized work, On the Origin of Species. In this work Darwin presented his idea of natural selection, which was compared to artificial selection, which was used in selective breeding. The idea of selective breeding is to weed out poor traits and increase stronger ones by mating the individuals with strong traits with one another and not mating the individuals with the


less desirable traits. Over time and many generations the less desirable genetic make ups completely disappear and the stronger ones are evident in almost every individual. Natural selection is the same general idea, however, it takes much longer and is not controlled by a breeder. Natural selection is the key mechanism of evolution and a cornerstone of modern biology. During the time of Darwin nothing was known about modern genetics and heredity. Natural selection has a lot to do with adaptive evolution and the idea that weaker animals and plants die off without passing on their poor genetics. The idea was revolutionary and was finally a solidifying idea in evolutionary thought. The process is extremely slow, but effective over millions of years. Charles Darwin was the father of the theory of evolution, but not the only person to make significant contributions. Herbert Spencer, English philosopher, biologist, and sociologist, coined the well-known phrase of “survival of the fittest” after reading Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Normally thought to be accredited to Darwin, the phrase became synonymous with evolutionary theory, but in fact it is an alternative description of natural selection. “This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called ‘natural selection,’ or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life,” writes Spencer in his Principles of Biology, which he published in 1864. Darwin, Spencer, and a number of other biologists and philosophers continued to add to the theory of evolution. Often talked about, but rarely acted on, is the separation of Church and State. When it comes to public school systems tax payer dollars pay for education and therefore public schools are a part of the State. Since Creationism is a religious belief of our beginning, it has no place in public schools. Private schools are not part of the State since parents of students make the conscious decision to pay tuition for their child to get an education at that particular institution. However, private schools must still follow state standards of education; therefore, the Theory of Evolution needs to be a part of the biology curriculum. If private schools would like to teach Creationism in a Religion class that is their own decision. Creationism should not be in a Biology class, though. When it comes to the classroom debate of whether or not evolution should be taught in a biology classroom, the answer is simple. Evolution is a scientific theory and the leading theory in how we came to be. Creationism is a religious perspective that has no proof or scientific standing. The Bible is a piece of literature that is about 3500 years old. Moses wrote the story of Creation in 1400 B.C. before modern advances in science could tell us that the sun was the center of our solar system or even about the concept of gravity. We have come a long way in the past 3500 years. Now it is just the question of how long until the church acknowledges that fact.•

Words with Darwin “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficient and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Catepillars.”

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Equal Work & Unequal Wages Article And Illusrations O l i v i a B o d l e y

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ACROSS THE GLOBE UNITED STATES

20%

UNITED KINGDOM

21%

AUSTRALIA

CANADA

17% FRANCE

IRELAND

20% SPAIN

14% JAPAN

GERMANY

12%

17% 28% 23%

BELGIUM

POLAND

9.3%

10% Across the World (above) and across the U.S. (left) take a look at the pay earning percentage that women earn compared to men.

UNITED STATES 80.0 or more 78.0 to 79.9 75.0 to 77.9 Less than 75.4

THINK ABOUT IT 63.9% of women today are the primary breadwinner or co-breadwinner in their household in the U.S. In 1967, 27.7% of women were the primary breadwinner or co-breadwinner. This has dramatically changed, but in the U.S. the pay gap is yet to close. Single women are even more adversely affected by the wage gap than married women. 12

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63.9%


TIMELINE

1900

A timeline of equal pay in America

In 1920, women began working in factories and attending college.

In 1950, women earned on average 59 cents for every dollar men earned. On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law.

In 1975, women earned 58.8 cents for every dollar men earned.

In 1990, women earned 75 cents for every dollar men earned.

Between 2010 - 2012, women still earned an average 77 cents for every dollar men earned.

In 2080, at the current pace, this is likely the first year in which the pay of men and women will be equal. EPIC MAGAZINE

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Monsant- who? The story of Monsanto, a corporation that’s been responsible for untold deaths, environmental destruction, and unethical practices… and a glance at their latest business venture—what we’re eating. Article And illusrAtions by r i c h a r d c O n n O l l y

The world is becoming more and more crowded everyday, with 2012 welcoming the birth of the 7 billionth person onto the planet. Despite a number that staggeringly high, each and every person is unique and different from anyone else. No matter what color, size, religion, economic standing or age anyone is, we share one basic thing in common — we all need to eat. Eating is undoubtedly one of the few basic necessities of life, and for many it is one of the most common everyday decisions. The persistent problem has always been, with 7 billion people on the planet, how can it be possible to meet the ever-present demand for one of life’s only essentials? Humans have been cultivating 14

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food for thousands of years, yet there has just never been enough to feed everyone. So we ask ourselves, how can we make growing food more efficient? Modern science has given us one possible answer in the form of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This amazing new process has opened the door to a potential for monumental greatness. Leading the charge in this new GMO revolution is a corporation by the name of Monsanto, but will they lead us to a great triumph or a great disaster? A Dark Past Monsanto is a United States based Fortune 500 company which focuses in the “agribusiness” area, or the

business of food. Today they produce a number of agricultural products including pesticide, herbicide and seeds. According to the company’s website, they consider themselves a “Sustainable Agriculture Company”, whose challenge is, “Meeting the needs of today while preserving the planet for tomorrow.” This is inarguably an important and noble cause. However the company hasn’t always been in the business of preservation. In fact, Monsanto’s history was in the contrary. Monsanto was founded in 1901, in St. Louis, Missouri, and started producing its first product, saccharin, for Coca-Cola. Saccharin has been a controversial compound from the


beginning, and although it is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in the United States to this day (found in products like Sweet’N Low), its links to cancer are widely disputed. In many countries, including Canada, saccharin is completely banned. Monsanto’s controversial history far from ends with sugar substitutes. In the 1920s, the company began its first expansion into industrial chemicals, including sulfuric acid and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), a compound banned by Congress due to strong evidence that it is a carcinogen, as well as its link to fetal deaths and immature births. During the 1940s, Monsanto began to focus on plastics and synthetic fabrics (ranked fifth in the EPA’s listing of products that generate the most toxic waste). More notably in 1944, Monsanto began to manufacture DDT, an insecticide that was widely used in the U.S. for decades. It wasn’t exposed until 1962 by environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring for it’s link to developmental toxicity, which causes problems with child birth, and The fear is that these pests will evolve their species into what are being dubbed “super-pests.”

for its strong links to cancer. During the 1940s Monsanto was responsible for assisting in the Manhattan Project, the top-secret program that developed the nuclear bomb. As if the company’s role in wartime killings wasn’t enough during World War II, in the 1960s and 70s, amidst the Vietnam War, Monsanto became the primary producer of Agent Orange. This chemical, which was intended to be used as a defoliant during Vietnam, became more of a chemical weapon, which subsequently killed 400,000 people and caused nearly half a million birth defects. The effects of Agent Orange still plague the people of Vietnam to this day. Monsanto has a lot of blood on their hands; these same hands are now the ones attempting to take over our food supply.

The Business of Food Monsanto began its dive into the world of food in 1982, when it started to genetically modify plant cells. This incredible process begins by first isolating a gene in one organism, removing it, and then splicing into another organism. An example of this is Monsanto’s “New Leaf” potatoes, which were sold during the 1990s and are among many of the company’s “Bt crops”. These Bt crops (which also include apples, broccoli, corn, cotton and cranberries, to name a few) have been genetically modified with the naturally pest resistant Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria (Bt) spliced into them so that farmers might be able to grow their crops without the need for spraying additional pesticide. This sounds like a process that is too good to be true, but it is often true what they say about things of that nature. As pests are exposed to these new resistant strains of plants, just like with human vaccines, the insects build up a resistance of their own. With these crops 99.9% of pests might be killed, but the .1% of naturally resistant survivors then breed and give birth to a whole new generation of stronger insects. The fear is that these pests will evolve their species into what are being dubbed “super-pests.” In order to combat these resistant insects, scientists need to in turn increase the potency of these Bt crops, or farmers need to spray additional pesticide to eliminate the remaining insects. Either way, this creates a positive feedback cycle that requires more and more treatment. One of Monsanto’s biggest money makers is its Roundup Ready® soybean, alfalfa, corn, cotton, canola, and sugerbeet seeds. These seeds have been genetically modified to resist the company’s Roundup® brand agricultural herbicide, so that farmers

can spray as much of the herbicide as needed to kill unwanted weeds while causing harm to their crops. The company that sells the seeds also sells the only herbicide that the seeds are immune to. One of the biggest problems with this system is that the weeds, like the insects, are quickly building an immunity to the defoliant, which requires farmers to purchase and spray more and more herbicide on their crops. The ever-growing immunity in these plants has farmers concerned (just like with the pests) that the unwanted weeds will develop into a kind of “super-weed.” A common problem with genetically engineering plants is that the seeds from these plants produce a second generation that is inferior to the first. Monsanto’s current stance to combat this problem is for the farmers to be contractually obligated to not plant seeds saved from previous Monsanto seed crops, but they decided not to stop there. Although they have pledged not to commercialize it due to strong opposition from farmers and certain governments, Monsanto has helped develop a new “terminator seed,” which, when grown, will produce sterile seeds. Instead of abiding by its “All 25 fish lost equilibrium and turned on their sides in 10 seconds and all were dead in 3 ½ minutes”

pledge for a more sustainable planet, Monsanto has decided to neuter it. In addition to its many GM crops, Monsanto introduced another controversial product for farmers use — Prosilac, their marketed version of recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH, as it is commonly known. This synthetic hormone is created by combining bovine DNA with the EPIC MAGAZINE

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E. coli bacteria, and given to cows in order to increase milk production. To combat the E. coli, the animals are in turn pumped full of antibiotics to prevent sickness. Now our milk is not only giving us all the calcium they tell us we need for strong bones, but a not-so-healthy serving of additional hormones, and antibiotics, as well as the pus from the infected udders. Studies have shown that rBGH is suspected to have links with breast and prostate cancer amongst human consumers. Though use of rBGH is banned from use in countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and the U.K., in the United States milk that comes from cows treated with rBGH does not even need to be labeled. The problem that advocates for rBGH, like Monsanto, have is that just because their product doesn’t need to be labeled, this does not stop organic milk from being labeled as “rBGH free.” This labeling is a basic freedom of speech that Monsanto and certain officials couldn’t be more opposed to. The way that Monsanto sees it, we are just too dim-witted and easily confused to need additional labeling like “rBGH free” on our products. If given the choice between a gallon of milk for $1.99, and a gallon of “rBGH free” milk for $3.99, many customers will happily pay extra for a more natural product, but if there’s no label stating the difference, who’s product seems more desirable? Legal Troubles Monsanto has always had problems with labeling, but not just on milk cartons. Throughout the 1990s in France, Monsanto’s Roundup was advertised as safe and biodegradable, yet the product’s main ingredient, glyphosate, is classified as “dangerous for the environment” by the European Union. This case was brought up by French activists in 2001, and in 2007 Monsanto was convicted of false advertising. Across the Atlantic, in 1996, Monsanto was charged with similar false advertising charges by the New York State attorney general for a number of false claims regarding its Roundup® brand herbicide. The residents of Anniston, Alabama, 16

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have experienced the effects of Monsanto’s negligence all too well. For nearly 40 years a nearby Monsanto chemical factory, which produced PCBs, dumped toxic waste into Anniston’s Snow Creek, poisoning the residents and the surrounding environment. Worst of all, although the public learned of the dangers of PCBs in the late 1960’s, Monsanto was made aware of the potential danger in the late 1930’s. In a classic case of double-negative wordplay, one internal company memo cleverly claimed that PCBs, “cannot be considered nontoxic.” In 1966, just a few years before jumping off the PCB bandwagon, Monsanto hired a Mississippi State University biologist to conduct studies around its Anniston plant, and the results were more than convincing. Fish were placed and monitored in Snow Creek at various locations by the plant. The reports were staggering. “All 25 fish lost equilibrium and turned on their sides in 10 seconds and all were dead in 3½ minutes,” reported the biologist. But Monsanto continued to dump tons of PCBs into the creek until 1971, and said nothing. The Revolving Door How does a company like Monsanto, with its history of lies, dangerous products and unethical practices, stay in business? Especially the business of what we eat? One reason might be its close ties with our very own United States government. This link, often referred to as the “Monsanto Revolving Door,” has been shown time and time again in many high ranking government officials, including: Donald Rumsfeld, Margaret Miller, Clarence Thomas, and most notoriously, Michael

Taylor. All of these officials have held important positions with both Monsanto and the federal government. Of all the individuals who have walked through the revolving door, none are as blatantly obvious as current Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA, Michael R. Taylor. Taylor got his start in 1976, as an assistant to the Commissioner of the FDA. In 1981, he went into practice with a private law firm, King & Spalding, which represented Monsanto. During his time at K&S, Taylor was responsible for writing a memo allowing Monsanto to reason whether or not it would be legal for the corporation to sue states or companies that attempted to differentiate between products containing rBGH and their rBGHfree counterparts. In 1991, Taylor returned to the FDA, this time in the newly created position of Deputy Commissioner of Policy. Between 1994 and 1996, Taylor found himself in yet another high-ranking federal position, the Administrator of the Food Safety & Inspection Service in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). After 1996, he moved back to Monsanto as the Vice President for Public Policy. The new millennium proved to be just as fruitful for Taylor. In 2009, he moved back to the FDA as senior advisor to the Commissioner. Less than one year later, Taylor was appointed to another newly created position, the Deputy Commissioner for Foods, a position who’s duties include: “planning new food safety regulation,” “developing and carrying out prevention-based strategy for food safety,” and, “ensuring food labels contain clear and accurate information on nutrition.” A man with undeniably strong ties to a corporation that profits from our food is now overseeing legislation in the United States meant to protect the very thing he would profit from most. It is difficult to imagine a more blatant conflict of interest. Outside the United States Monsanto’s reach extends far beyond the border of the United States. All over the world, farmers, natives and


everyday people have felt the influence of Monsanto in their lives. In 2000, University of Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, with an assistant to show locals how to test for GM crops to protect their native maize. They were surprised to find that GM transgenes were already present in the native varieties. It was theorized that imported corn from the U.S. had somehow crossbred and contaminated the local maize. Chapela returned to the U.S., and despite opposition from Monsanto, published his results in the November 2001 issue of the scientific journal Nature. Results were met with much dismay by the scientific community, but some of the strongest backlash was from two people posting

company enough reason to sue the farmer for copyright infringement. Schmeiser did not give up without a fight. After six years and close to $400,000 in legal bills, he fought the agricultural super giant in what has been deemed the “David vs. Goliath” case of farmer’s rights. Schmeiser stopped planting canola, but in 2005, the GM canola began appearing wildly in his fields again. Monsanto agreed to pay the cost of clearing the fields with one exception — Schmeiser would have to sign an agreement to never discuss the cleanup. Continuing not to give up without a fight, Schmeiser refused to sign the agreement, and when Monsanto refused to pay for the cleanup, the farmer sued the company for the costs. Monsanto settled for $660 on the eve of the trial. During the 1940’s Unfortunately, not every farmer has Monsanto was the same persistence and resources responsible for assisting in another as Schmeiser. In India, GM seeds by little project - the companies like Monsanto are pressured Manhattan Project upon farmers with claims that they will yield harvests like they’ve never in an online discussion group for seen, and in some regards that is true. GM scientists, AgBioWorld.org. The The poor farmers are forced to take out two authors email addresses were enormous loans to afford these ‘magic registered to Mary Murphy and Andura seeds’ that will supposedly give them Smetacek. Murphy was revealed great results. Instead, many of these to be connected with the Bivings crops have failed, leaving the farmers Corporation, a PR firm that works for with a debt they can never hope to Monsanto, while Smetacek, has never repay and no seeds for another season. been identified as a real person. Being left with nothing and no way To the north of the U.S., one out, an estimated 125,000 farmers in Canadian farmer in particular has India have taken their own lives out been battling Monsanto for years. of desperation, often by drinking the Percy Schmeiser is a canola farmer very insecticide sold to them by the GM from Saskatchewan who, for more company. Not all hope is lost for India, than 50 years, bred and grew his own however. The entire country is accusing canola seed. Many farmers in the Monsanto of “biopiracy.” What this Saskatchewan area had made the means is that the company has stolen switch to GM crops, but Schmeiser indigenous plants from the country continued to grow the seed he worked and is now developing genetically decades to develop… or so he thought. modified versions of them, without In 1998, Monsanto unknowingly compensating the native farmers. The trespassed on Schmeiser’s property accusation is the first time that an to test his crops, and found that they entire country has made this claim had tested positive for the companies against a corporation. patented Roundup Ready® canola All across the globe different seed. Monsanto’s seed had found its countries are taking a stand against way into Schmeiser’s fields from a Monsanto. In the European Union neighboring farm, crossbred with his all foods that contain a GMO must be crops (essentially destroying 50 years clearly labeled, so that people may at of selective seed saving) and gave the least have a choice. Although GMOs

can be freely imported, there are very few crops approved to be grown by EU farmers — amongst them is Monsanto’s MON810 corn. During the spring of 2012, the EU’s largest corn grower, France, attempted to ban the GM corn entirely, after their studies showed that the GM corn could pose serious risks to the environment. In Poland the ban on MON810 took effect this year due to the crop’s responsibility in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a worldwide epidemic that has been causing the disappearance of honey bees. Peru has banned all GMOs in their country as of 2012, until at least 2022, but how long will it really be before the modified seeds find their way into the country, just as they have done in Oaxaca and Percy Schmeiser’s field? At the end of the day Monsanto isn’t anything but another company, and like all companies they have only one goal: to produce a profit. Capitalism is part of the American way, but at what point does the acquisition of wealth outweigh the basic rights that preserve and protect fellow life? Is threatening the health and safety of the world’s population worth pleasing a few stockholders? In the grand scheme of things, the consumption of genetically modified organisms is still a relatively new notion, but eating is essential to all living things. The long-term risks of this technology are still unknown, both on humans as well as the environment. GMOs could be the cure to world hunger, or they could be the most detrimental environmental hazard the planet has ever seen. Corporate bullies like Monsanto know that there’s money to be made in food, and they have proved time and time again that they will do anything they can to make a profit, despite those harmed in the process. At what point does the cost of human safety become to great for the building of a greater agribusiness machine? Food isn’t just a product to be manufactured. It is one of the most essential ingredients to sustaining life. So if an entity controls all the food, how far are they from controlling life itself?•

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GRACELAND CEMETARY

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LAKE MICHIGAN

MONTROSE BEACH

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YO U CAN PLAY Gay Athletes. Straight Allies. Teaming up for respect. By Adam Uhrich Throughout history, sports have provided people with feelings of jubilation and frustration, triumph and despair, unity and rivalry. Athletes inspire us and serve as the first role models for many children, igniting their backyard imaginations to the dreams of making a play in the grandest of stadiums. Sports are a unifying activity, bringing people of all different beliefs and backgrounds together to cheer for their beloved team. Sports not only provide us with a community but also affect our country socially and politically. We united behind the 1980 USA Men’s Ice Hockey Team as they defeated the Soviet Red Army team, giving a glimmer of hope to a nation engulfed in turmoil. We eventually saw Jackie Robinson not as an AfricanAmerican but as a baseball player. We ignored his 20

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skin color because he could steal bases and hit home runs. He could play; that was all that mattered. The You Can Play Project was created by Patrick Burke, Brian Kitts, and Glenn Witman. Patrick Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, probably has the most personal connection to the project. In 2009, his brother Brendan, a student manager of the Miami University Men’s Ice Hockey team, came out publicly as a gay man. ESPN, TSN, and many other major news networks picked up the story, serving as example of the bravery of coming out as gay in high level sports environment. Sadly, several months later, Brendan was killed in a car accident. The You Can Play Project serves as a way for Patrick and his family, along with Brendan’s friends and teammates, to


honor Brendan’s legacy of erasing homophobia in sports. In March 2012, during the New York Rangers-Boston Bruins hockey game on NBC, a commercial aired featuring several NHL All-Stars, including Claude Giroux, Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Perry, and Daniel Alfredsson. It presented a simple message: “If you can skate, you can skate. If you can score, you can score. If you can play, you can play.” Though simple, the message was clear and powerful, demonstrating to all that for those hockey players your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. If you can help the team win, then there’s a place for you on the team. Anyone who’s been in a locker room can attest to the homophobic slurs athletes toss around at each other, whether malicious or not. It’s the You Can Play Project’s goal to end those slurs. On Twitter, Burke put it simply: “Let’s end ‘that’s gay’ or ‘he’s a fag.’ It makes LGBT athletes feel unsafe to come out. Just call a guy an asshole and be done with it.” Coaches and athletes have always used emasculating phrases to berate their players and teammates. “You’re throwing like a girl!” “Don’t be a fairy!” Questioning an athlete’s manhood has stood the test of time. Some athletes also have a fear of a gay teammate coming on to them or looking at them in the shower, fears that are most certainly unjust. Over thirty professional athletes have shown their support for gay teammates, and many more will show their support by the time this article is published. If it doesn’t bother them, then surely everyone can get over their ignorant assumptions. Professional athletes aren’t the only ones demonstrating their support for You Can Play. The University of Connecticut, University of Ottawa, and UCLA have become the first colleges to show their support. Many people are creating their own You Can Play Videos and posting them on YouTube. Even the Canadian sports network, TSN, created their own video demonstrating their support.

“Hatred is not genetically passed from parent to child, it is learned.” The You Can Play Project hopes other leagues and athletes follow the example set by NHL players and show their support. As of the writing of this article, the only other league to demonstrate support is Major League Soccer (MLS). There are representatives from all the major sports on the You Can Play Advisory board, however, it will be interesting to see if the other major sports join, and how long it will take them to do so. The NFL would have the biggest impact to the YCP Project. It’s large fanbase and the “manliness” of the sport would certainly change the way our culture looks at gay athletes. The population of the NFL has certainly always been more religious than any other sport, and a decent portion of players have come from the “Bible-Belt,” not a place rife with gay supporters.

There haven’t been many media portrayals of gay athletes. The short-lived ESPN show, Playmakers, featured an episode titled, “The Outing,” which focused on a gay football player and the suspicion by his teammates that he might be gay. He is treated very poorly, even being savagely hit by his teammates in practice with their intention to injure him. He is forced by the coaching staff and the owner to go on the injured reserve list for the rest of the season.

“Just call a guy an asshole and be done with it.” One has to wonder if situations like the episode of Playmakers have already occurred in major league sports. It serves as an example as to why gay athletes normally quit their team in order to avoid facing the repercussions of their teammates not accepting them for who they are. Who can blame them? We still live in a world where gay people are afraid of being beaten or harassed because of their sexual orientation. Hatred is not genetically passed from parent to child, it is learned. The more professional athletes that come out in support of the You Can Play Project, the better chance we have of teaching our children that hating someone, especially because of their sexual orientation, is wrong. Kids will always look up to their favorite athlete. They pretend they’re Claude Giroux as they weave their way through the backyard rink or that they’re Henrik Lundqvist making a desperate save in their driveway. Children will emulate their favorite athlete in any way they can, and teaching children to have an open mind and accept their teammates as equals is one of the most important lessons they can learn. More information about the You Can Play Project can be found on their website www.youcanplayproject.org. There you can sign the pledge to support gay athletes and get your team involved. If you’re an LGBT athlete or struggling with your sexuality, the You Can Play website contains many resources for you get the support you need. The next time you cheer for your favorite player as they round third base, catch a pass in the end zone, or score the game-wining goal in overtime, imagine if he or she is gay. Would that change the way you cheer for them? Of course not. If you can play, you can play. •

Check out Epic 2 on the iPad to see our You Can Play video, directed by Ben Uhrich, with Alex Fulford and Lidia Rosales . EPIC MAGAZINE

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living local a new world order:

LOCAL ECONOMIES & NEIGHBORS Article by JENNY JOCKS STELZER Photography by CAROLYN PAVELKIS 22

ARTICLE TITLE


who’s your neighbor? When it comes to our local economies and what kinds of businesses thrive in our neighborhoods, globalization, with all of its capitalist bombast and material promise, has left us with few responses. Retail? Wal-Mart. Bank? Chase. Gas? BP. Restaurant? McDonald’s. Market? Dominick’s. Our neighborhoods have become the “global marketplace,” opportunities to expand some multi-national corporation’s customer base and profit. These corporations (which are NOT people, mind you) have become our “neighbors.” So, what’s the problem? The problem is the stake that these “neighbors” have in our communities, our homes. Where do I start? Disinvestment in CITIES and local economies According to the Andersonville Study of Retail economics, “Every $100 spent with a local firm leaves $68 in the Chicago economy; $100 spent at a chain store leaves $43 in Chicago.” If a community develops a local business that manufactures, processes, and sells a product all locally, 100% of that $100 stays in the community. Jobs When a municipality or state provides subsidies or tax breaks to major corporations at the promise of bringing jobs to the community, more often than not, those subsi dies (taxpayer dollars) go straight to the development of that major corporation, NOT to job growth in the community, according to How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth, May 2004, by Good Jobs First. In fact, according to Local Works! Examining the Impact of Local Business on the West Michigan Economy, September 2008, by Civic Economics, “A modest change in consumer behavior—a mere 10 percent shift in market share to independent businesses from chain stores— would result in 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in wages, and a $137 million economic impact to the area.” The obesity epidemic and the food desert problem. McDonald’s and Dominick’s would have you believe that this major problem can be solved merely by offering more apples at fast food chains and plopping more minimarts in low income neighborhoods. According to the new study, Place Matters For Health in Cook County – Ensuring Opportunities for Good Health for All by the Joint Centers for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute, support for a local food economy: farmers markets, locally-owned grocery stores, and educational and economic efforts that focus on ending systemic

racism and poverty are solutions to those problems, NOT more big-box colonization of our neighborhoods. Suffice it to say that our economic woes will not be solved with a “global marketplace” approach. It is hinged not on the development of communities or on our happiness; it is hinged on “growth.” According to writer and activist Bill McKibben in his book, Deep Economy, our belief in the magic of growth is what has taken our focus away from our communities and local economic health: Three fundamental challenges to the fixation on growth have emerged. One is political: growth, at least as we now create it, is producing more inequality than prosperity, more insecurity than progress. This is both the most common and least fundamental objection to our present economy…. By contrast, the second argument draws on physics and chemistry as much as on economics; it is the basic objection that we do not have the energy needed to keep the magic going, and can we deal with the pollution it creates? [No, his book argues.] The third argument is both less obvious and even more basic: growth is no longer making us happy. These three objections mesh with each other in important ways; taken together, they suggest that we’ll no longer be able to act wisely, either in our individual lives or in public life, simply by asking which choice will produce More. More. We’ve tried that. What did we get? A disenfranchised work force. One billion people who are obese and one billion people who starve. Air pollution. Water pollution. Climate change. 400 wealthy Americans having more than the bottom 50%. Neighbors we don’t know. What’s the answer, then? A closer look at what we mean when we say “more,” a refocus on our communities, and the ability to answer the question: who’s your neighbor? According to thinker, writer, farmer, and National Humanities Award winner, Wendell Berry, in his piece The Idea of a Local Economy, we must get outside of that globalization paradigm and think about the ability of a community to take care of itself: So far as I can see, the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence. In a viable neighborhood, neighbors ask themselves what they can do or provide for one another, and they find answers that they and their place can afford. This, and EPIC MAGAZINE

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nothing else, is the practice of neighborhood. This practice must be, in part, charitable, but it must also be economic, and the economic part must be equitable; there is a significant charity in just prices. Of course, everything needed locally cannot be produced locally. But a viable neighborhood is a community; and a viable community is made up of neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common. This is the principle of subsistence. A viable community, like a viable farm, protects its own production capacities. It does not import products that it can produce for itself. And it does not export local products until local needs have been met. The economic products of a viable community are understood either as belonging to the community’s subsistence or as surplus, and only the surplus is considered to be marketable abroad. A community, if it is to be viable, cannot think of producing solely for export, and it cannot permit importers to use cheaper labor and goods from other places to destroy the local capacity to produce goods that are needed locally. In charity, moreover, it must refuse to import goods that are produced at the cost of human or ecological degradation elsewhere. This principle applies not just to localities, but to regions and nations as well. When we talk about development, both community development and economic development, we should continue to ask ourselves: who is my neighbor? And, we should be able to answer that question with: my grocer, my hardware expert, my chef, my butcher, my teacher, my mechanic. These people, when they are truly our neighbors, will have as big a stake in our community as we do, because it is not their “global marketplace,” it is their home. As neighbors, we can develop our communities, and build a better world. Together, we can make sure that, our neighbors and our communities survive and thrive in a world that, in many ways, has forgotten about neighborliness. Now, as climate change and the anonymous global market decimate our neighborhoods, our local economies, and our planet, it is time for us to turn to our neighbors, to our place, with, as Bill McKibben says, is …a shift to economies that are more local in scale. Local economies would demand fewer resources and cause less ecological disruption; they would be better able to weather coming shocks; they would allow us to find a better balance between the individual and the community, and hence find extrasatisfaction… A tomato from the small farmer at the end of your suburban road tastes better. But it’s more than that – it’s better because it comes from a…farmer down at the end of your suburban road. Getting that tomato – from his farmstand, from a farmers’ market, from your CSA share, even from a bit at an enlightened supermarket –requires you to live with a stronger sense of community in mind. Requires that you reorient your personal compass a little bit. Requires that you shed a certain amount of your hyperindividualism and replace it with a certain amount of neighborliness. It doesn’t require that you join a commune or become a socialist. If we let go of a little bit of our individualism (at the moment, we have plenty to spare), we may recover something we’ve been missing. •

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LIVING LOCAL


resources: Rebuilding Local Economies at the New Economics Institute http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/conference/RLE Business Alliance for Local Living Economies http://www.livingeconomies.org/ Rebuild the Dream http://rebuildthedream.com/

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Article by B l a k e W h i t m o r e

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ARTICLE TITLE

Illusrations by R i c h C o n n o l l y


a little bit of southern hospitality Written by Blake Whitmore Illustrated by Rich Connolly If you are craving a chicken sandwich and fries on a Sunday you can head to just about any fast food restaurant except Chick-fil-A. The American fast food restaurant is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, right in the heart of the Bible Belt. It is no secret that Chick-fil-A is heavily influenced by their founder S. Truett Cathy’s Christian beliefs. Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist, and his beliefs have a major impact on the company, hence the restaurant being closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This is not the only thing affected by the strong religious background. In June and July 2012, the Chief Operating Officer and S. Truett Cathy’s son, Dan Cathy, made several statements confirming that Chick-fil-A is opposed to gay marriage. In an interview with Baptist Press Cathy supported what he calls, “the traditional family.” His statements caused an uproar that stretched across the nation. Gay rights groups asked supporters to boycott the restaurant. College students at several different universities and colleges attempted to have Chick-fil-A restaurants removed from their campuses. The students utilized the website www.change.org to initiate their protest of the restaurant. Alongside the college students outrage and protests several political leaders joined in on the disapproval. Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emmanuel got involved when he said, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.” Emmanuel plans to prevent the expansion of the restaurant into Chicago any further. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno also wanted to prevent further expansion of the restaurant. The Jim Henson Company decided to end its business relationship with Chick-fil-A, and donate money to the Gay and Lesbain Alliance Against Defamation. However, Chick-fil-A stopped distributing the toys and claimed it was due to a safety issue that was discovered prior to the conflict. It all seemed too conveniently timed. As it goes with any political debate there will be a rebuttal. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee launched a plan to show

his support of Chick-fil-A. Huckabee planned Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. August 1, 2012, was the first ever Chickfil-A Appreciation Day and over 600,000 people confirmed they would attend the event on Facebook. Republicans, including Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum, posted pictures of themselves eating Chick-fil-A on Twitter and other social media sites. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day brought the company a staggering 29.9% increase in sales. It was later estimated that the average Chick-fil-A restaurant received 367 more costumers than they would have on any other Wednesday. With the large number of people turning out to show support, the opposing side planned to counter the appreciation day with a day of their own. Two days after Chick-fil-A appreciation day, August 3, 2012 was named same-sex kiss day. Thousands of gay couples showed up to Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide just to kiss and tell. It was suggested by protestors that supportors of gay marriage donated the cost of a Chick-fil-A meal to gay rights groups. Shortly after the outbreak of protests and support of Chickfil-A, Kraft foods produced a rainbow Oreo ad showing their support of gay marriage. Companies are getting down and dirty in the political issues and Chick-fil-A is not the only anti gay company. Wal-Mart, Urban Outfitters, Target, The Salvation Army, Delta, and Exxon Mobil all have donated money to anti gay groups. This issue is much bigger than just a southern chicken joint. People talk about the civil rights movement like it is a thing of the past, but in reality it is still relevant today. Gay rights are this generation’s civil rights issue. Members of the LGBT community have been fighting for decades, not only for the right to marry, but also for the right to go to school or work without being ostracized. In 29 states in America an employer can fire an employee for being gay. It is not that there is legislation in favor of firing a gay employee, but EPIC MAGAZINE

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questions. How do we define a male and a female? Granted to many the answer is simple and they are aware of their sex, but where does this leave transsexuals and hermaphrodites? Another issue with this argument is that the idea of marriage being between only one man and one woman stems from religious beliefs. The separation of church and state prevents a law to be passed based solely on religious beliefs. The Federal Marriage Amendment that did not pass in 2006 would have been the first federal law preventing same sex marriage. Since the proposed amendment did not pass the decision was left up to the states. The next argument is usually that marriage is a religious sacrament and therefore cannot be tampered with by the

There are many arguments against gay marriage, but most are easily debunked. state. This is a very backwards argument. There is nothing wrong with individuals or churches treating marriage as sacred or sacramental, but this is not a debate about what individuals or private institutions should be doing. It is a debate about how the government should treat people and how the laws on marriage should be written. Marriage is not a sacrament to all married couples. Atheist couples are allowed to get married, so long as they are straight, but is that not sacrilegious? Marriage is more than a sacrament. It is also a legally binding agreement to share everything for the rest of your life with one another. Another argument, that might just be the most ridiculous, is that marriage is for raising children. First off this argument has no solid ground to stand on since many heterosexual married couples never have children. Also gay and lesbian couples can raise children. Whether they adopt, use a surget mother, or a sperm donor gay and lesbian couples can raise children. Keep in mind that heterosexual couples use the options listed above as well, so the argument that it is unnatural is invalid. According to the American Psychological Association, “There is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children. This body of research has shown that the adjustment, development and psychological well-being of children are unrelated to parental sexual there is no law preventing it. Equal opportunity laws in those orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents 29 states prevent discrimination based on race, gender, and are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish” religion. They are dangerously silent when it comes to sexual (www.apa.org). orientation. This brings up the question of what are basic The issue of gay rights has been an ongoing conflict for human rights, and who are we to deny a certain group those generations. Chick-fil-A and other major corporations in rights? Any human should have the right to live a life without the United States have taken their stance on gay marriage. the fear of being tormented and denied rights that others have. Marriage equality and gay rights are this generation’s There are many arguments against gay marriage, but most leading point in the on going civil rights movement. Make no of them are easily debunked. The first argument is almost mistake; the movement is far from over.• always that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman. This argument is a difficult one that only raises more 28

HOMOPHOBIA


By Ben Uhrich

Soldier Field

Wrigley Field

Cloud Gate

Marina

Chicago Skyline (shot from adler planetarium)

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THE GIFT

OF KENYA article & photographs

BY ANDREW HARRIS

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The trip came as a birthday gift from my wife. It’s become somewhat of a family tradition to surprise those fortunate enough to succumb to the rightful mark held by those in their thirties. It’s a right-of-passage for eternal twentysomethings to the foot of the hill, I guess. Though to me and many others (I think), it signifies little more than mounting, sad rationalizations, and the valiant attempt on behalf of relatives and devotees to remedy an inevitable downshift in one’s equanimity the very second they’re hurled into their thirties. My birthdays, however, have shriveled to the point at which celebrating means a bottle of wine and reruns of CSI Miami. My wife sat on the couch with a mischievous smirk and handed me an envelope. I recognized it immediately as those you get from ingratiating airline ticket agents to consolidate multiple boarding passes amidst the hoards of shit we all Sherpa around airports. I quickly looked back at her, and she ordered me to open it like CEOs do. Obviously plane tickets, I examined them closer, half-expecting to see ORD to RNO, a trip we frequented to visit family and friends in Lake Tahoe. Then again, it didn’t say anything about Reno, NV. I read the words Destination: LaGuardia. Nice, New York, albeit somewhat random. Then scanning on, I read Destination: United Arab Emirates and better, Destination: Nairobi. (Then, as it turns out, Dubai again on the way home.) Unlike so many previous birthday gifts: a bike, computer, Old Navy boxers (the only way to go by the way), a camera tripod, homemade Quiche, and a bottle of Finlandia Vodka that my friend stole from my wedding a year prior; this year’s plentiful offering, my thirtieth birthday present, was a trip to Kenya. My wife, my eighth grade crush, is the most beautiful and thoughtful girl I have ever met. I should know, too, because I’ve been stalking her for more than 15 years. She’s a resourceful gal, coming from a long line of savers, coupon-clippers and bargain hunters. She’s music to online marketer’s ears. She actually reads and ingests those relentlessly reappearing emails that so frequently reside in your inbox like an infestation of possum under your front porch. You flush them out with an over-under 12-guage (or the “empty junk folder” button-but I’d like to keep this image in my head of me unloading shotgun shells at vermin from the hip like I was Rambo), but those little bastards file right back in one by one. She received one particular email from Travelocity advertising a Kenya trip; essentially a pre-packaged deal most likely assembled to stimulate an economy that relies on tourism for survival. Clients would tour Kenya for a week and spend an optional three days in Dubai as an add-on, totaling ten days. It was impressive for her to hold the secret from me. She simply can’t keep them. It’s literally like holding her breath. She kept this from me for a few months before finally bursting and telling me two months shy of my birthday. She was totally sold on the trip after her all-encompassing research, yet she had the same few yet significant reservations that I did. That being said, she was ready to go. I was on board as well, though my excitement waned suddenly realizing 32

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one potential ‘hitch in the giddy up,’ as was once said. Less than two months prior she sat in the exact same spot on the couch and announced she was pregnant. Same mischievous smile and all. Flashing back to the present, my shit-eating grin began to slack a little bit as the gears turned. Quickly, my brain deciphered the equation [African wild game drives + world’s largest slum + pregnant woman = pissed off father-in-law]. And, mathematically, pissed off father negates son-in-law. And, thus, coming from the same man who, with a straight face, warned us that failing to utilize the boat’s blower would unquestionably face us all with an impending, fiery death, was to say the least, reluctant to bless us with his tidings. Upon first mention of the trip, he brought up an onslaught of morbid and surefire ways to get yourself killed in Africa: everything from kidnapping to gang beatings to car accidents and social uprisings to charging elephants. However, his attention was drawn suddenly to the image of his 4-month pregnant daughter bouncing through the African bush chasing large cats in a jeep without a roof. I could see the worry in his ancient shilling-sized eyes. Finally, after the rehearsed recital of her doctor’s endorsement, coupled with extensive other reasons for which the trip had been deemed safe before, Megs had convinced her father to allow us to go. When you up and decide you need a trip to Africa on a whim, because that’s typically how trips to Africa are planned, it’s imperative that you heed the advice of your doctors and predecessors. In other words, do some research. The medical community takes it pretty seriously, and you should, too. While of course, the trip is safe for the most part, Randy, my father-in-law, presents a valid case when he attests to lurking dangers around every corner in life and Nairobi alike. (I say this because even the hotel staff at the Intercontinental Nairobi instructs their guests not to leave the hotel, especially at night.) And if you miraculously survive a night on the town, Africa could still deliver its wrath long after you return to your clean and safe America. Certain and many areas in Africa are at high risk for the spread of diseases, and one must talk to doctors before embarking on a trip like this. First, we met with our general practitioners, and they assembled a military-esque regimen consisting of a series of shots and various vaccinations. All along the way they offered helpful little packets, packets I immediately destined to the same pile as the baby books. Don’t. Do not disregard the seemingly worthless pocket-friendly booklets as they may save your ass. Literally. They of course possess the redundant list of supplies for travelers, but in addition they mention some magical little pills know in the nursing community simply as a “Z-Pack.” It’s a package of four pills whose single job it is to curb your deathly case of foreign assploding bowels. The Z-Pack essentially holds the key to your large intestine and can lock that shit up with a mere turn of the key. It’s a last-ditch effort to be taken only after you’ve exhausted the plethora of diarrhea medications out there. Traveler’s bubble-gut can quickly and painfully end


[African wild game drives +

world’s largest slum +

PREGNANT WOMAN =

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When you up and decide you need a trip to Africa on a whim,

because that’s typically how

trips to Africa are planned,

IT IS IMPERATIVE

that you heed the advice of your doctors and predecessors. your trip and the only memories you’ll be bragging about next Christmas will be how you stretched the circa ‘82 tube television across your Nairobi hotel room and watched rowdy local politicians smack each other all from the “comfort” of your third-world shitter. In a twitch of seriousness, the bugs and viruses and infections foreign countries have to offer can be deadly. I’m not saying that Africa is any more disease-ridden than the next country, but it’s absolutely necessary to protect oneself from malaria, dengue, HIV and STIs, Hep A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies and/or meningitis. I’m sure you would agree with me on this. One of the most likely ways to become infected or to involuntarily acquire an ailment is to do so via the bite of a mosquito. Those little fuckers have virtually no other purpose in life other than to make ours more difficult. Where I’m from in Wisconsin, they reach populations so voluminous that you can actually see clouds of them hovering over small, unsuspecting towns. Although there, the only thing you have to worry about is a slight chance of 34

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west nile, but mostly you’re just trying not to scratch all the skin off your exposed limbs. Put it this way, in Wisconsin, the mosquitos carry water pistols and in Africa, each little bastard carries an RPG with six tiny trigger-happy legs ready to off you and every other imposing asshole traveler. And they mean business. However, you can avoid much of the paranoia associated with bug bites by carrying bug spray and getting your shots beforehand. It’s worth it. Plus you get to call in to work, even if it is just a couple hours of taking four-inch needles in both arms. Our flight out of LaGuardia was scheduled to leave early Friday morning, so we decided to fly to NY Thursday night and stay close to the airport. This is my recommendation. Most, if not all hotels offer some sort of shuttle service to the airport at virtually all times. They’re quick and efficient, but be sure to save a few singles to tip the driver, because in NY, if you don’t, they’ll shoot you. Our hotel was just fine, and if you don’t mind a “garden unit” boasting glorious views of rental car tires and an occasional Latin maid upskirt, then


this place will suffice for you too. If I had any thread of doubt or anxiety about our safety in this industrial, off put location, I now felt safe having been surrounded by the measurable metric tonnage of concrete that made up the parking lot. I had some sneaking suspicions that the motel had likely fallen through the cracks of the star-rating system, a system I find to be flawed anyway, and I was convinced that there was no possible way I’d inadvertently run into a celeb here in New York City. As it turns out, I was right, and the closest we got was falling asleep to a 20/20 dedicated to Cher’s transgendered child. The next morning I was limiting my ritualistic intake of coffee so as not to become that guy on the plane who feels it’s a considerate gesture to warm the toilet seat for everyone else on board. I was mentally prepared for the longest flight of my life. The first leg of the trip from NY to Dubai was slated for 18 hours. And, after our Airbus A380’s almost 85,000-gallon fuel tank is refilled, we board once again for 6 more hours to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. I had no preconceived notions as to how I thought Kenya would look. I didn’t know what to expect. At our layover in Dubai, we were spoiled with great Arabica coffee fresh at our fingertips and free Wi-Fi, beautiful people and over-the-top architecture. Basically, if the airport in Dubai were a human being, it would be Mr. T: blinged to shit. We flew with Emirates and the hospitality was no different once we were in the air. Every single flight attendant was hot. They moved around the cabin with plastic smiles serving warmed towels and endless drinks. I’m still convinced they’re all robots. Megan ordered 17 cups of tea from a David Beckam look-alike flight attendant. Six meals, 3 beers, a dozen perfectly warmed towels and 4 movies later, we reached Africa. As we coasted closer to the weathered runway in Nairobi, I noticed the airport had the only paved surfaces that I could make out anywhere. The landscape was pretty desolate as expected; not a whole lot more than some small, withered Acacia trees scattered across a dry beige ground with thin herds of goats running about. We touched down and were shuffled into a bustling airport full of men and women eager to help carry our many bags, or get us some water. Contrasting from gold-plated Dubai, the Nairobi airport splurged for running-water. Customs in Kenya consisted of a long desk behind which sat three Kenyan Immigration officials. After a veritable 10-second glance at my passport, we were whisked downstairs. Our travel group was rounded up and after bathroom breaks and water, we were divvied up into smaller crews of six- the people with whom we’d spend the remainder of the trip. We ended up getting in the same Jeep as a younger couple from Minneapolis, newlyweds Joe and Lauren. Then we had two other gals a few years older than us get in as well- a graphic designer and an animal activist of some sort. Everyone was very nice with an acceptable sense of humor and all spoke English as their native language. This may not seem so dire, yet when you’re on another continent, a few more

Americans blurting single-syllable words and frantically gesturing at Africans is truly a huge help as I only have two arms and a limited vocabulary. The drive to the Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi from the airport was our first glance of Kenyan civilization. Just a short distance from the airport we entered the outskirts of Nairobi clearly marked by hoards of corporate ads sprawling the roads; Pepsi, Tusker Beer and various banks. The city itself was fairly large with an assortment of brightly colored buildings: some new, and others obviously tested by time. At one point, we passed by apparently the largest slum on the continent, shanties stretched to the horizon. Another noticeable aspect was the insane traffic, which resembled the same daily hustle New Yorkers saw from cab drivers. Instead, in Nairobi it was primarily buses, then a large handful of cars and small SUVs with a sprinkling of mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians. This made for a difficult negotiation through the tightly woven, yet somehow innocuous roads, and at times, I thought without a doubt we’d clip something or someone. Our guide, translator, security guard and travel agency-appointed caretaker Raphael also turned out to be something of a getaway driver. He was on point bobbing and weaving like he was up against Andretti, avoiding crowds, slinging ropes over a flipped semi-truck to get it right side up again, like it was seemingly an everyday situation. We were on our way to a giraffe sanctuary where I French-kissed one of them for food like a whore. Then we got a chance to go to the Karen Blixen Museum, the motivation for the movie “Out of Africa.” Your parents will know about this. We toured the Kazuri (which in Swahili means “small and beautiful”) bead shop started by two local impoverished women. They realized quickly that they were among hoards of women living in villages in the area, mostly single mothers who were in dire need of regular employment. We also had the opportunity to see Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphans’ Nursery where orphaned elephants are cared for, brought up and re-released into the wild. Poaching is the number one cause for elephant deaths and orphans and this establishment seeks to change that. Though Nairobi boasted some great daytime activities, two nights there was enough for us. Enough of the “the hotel advises you to stay inside and not venture out into the city on your own,” enough of the smashing every mosquito against the glass during breakfast sure that it was the one carrying malaria. Enough of the Kenyan politicians at each other’s throats on TV. And, enough of the raping for internet usage in their “office convenience center.” Haven’t you ever heard of free WIFI? After a full day of boating with hippos and bird watching, we hit the road once again, this time on a perpetual dirt road for about 5 ½ hours, bumping along through African nothingness. As we drove out well into the bush, away from any twinkling of electricity or any sign of domestic architecture, or guns or violence or hustles, we sped through small, secluded villages home to those who lived simpler lives. We could make out the Masai villagers walking long distances with jugs of water perched on their heads and fresh grains EPIC MAGAZINE

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filling hand-woven baskets the way they had supplied their families three generations prior. It was humbling to see Masai Warriors trekking over the dry, cracked ground, spear in hand, covered in crimson Shúkà not worried about cell coverage or rush hour. I made every attempt to capture photos from the bumpy back seat of the jeep, lens covered in dust along with everything else in the vehicle. It was a long haul on that drive, and not more than ten words were spoken as we made our way through the desert, heading to the Masai Mara Game reserve. Once in the general area of the reserve, we were invited into a Masai village where the women of the household assemble the dung hut and the males hunt and gather like they had hundreds of years earlier. I have to tell you, though, they’re not entirely immune to technological takeover; we spotted one Masai Warrior finishing up a quick cell call when he was scolded by the tribe leader and quickly ducked inside the hut. The juxtaposition of a traditionally dressed tribesman on his cell was fairly amusing; I tried to not let it ruin my National Geographic experience. As we approached what seemed to resemble some sort of checkpoint, Raphael announced our arrival at the Masai Mara Reserve. It was from this lodge we’d depart promptly at six each morning for the next four days to embark on wild game drives through the reserve. This was by far the coolest part of the trip. We were ecstatic when within the first five minutes we saw giraffes and elephants. By the time we’d seen our 64th elephant, it was still just as awesome as the first. There was just something to say about seeing all of these animals in their natural habitat as opposed to the confines of a steel-enclosed structure you’d find at the zoo, which claim to have all of the amenities the animal’s homeland would possess. Now that I’ve been there, I along with anyone else who’s been to Kenya can attest to the magnificence of the wild lands and now have the ability and curse of seeing through the bullshit that is the zoo’s attempt to recreate the animal’s environment. The vastness alone was staggering. Everything is as the creator had intended. No stone turned by human hands and no fencing. No traps and no poachers. It was beautiful. I remember riding hanging out of the open-roofed jeep at the end of our last drive, sun disappearing over the horizon with the satisfaction of having just seen a pair of cheetah brothers. As cheesdick as it may sound, I recall the uncanny similarity to the animated Lion King movie. Whether it’s the impeccable representation of African wildlife or Elton John’s melodic pleasantries, it’s all I could think about and hummed the music all the way back to the lodge. After that last night of relatively hard drinking and reminiscing of the recent days and remarkable sightings, we’d hop back into the jeep in the morning for the long haul back to Nairobi for one last night in the same hotel in which we began the trip. The next morning we’d have a flight waiting to take our group back to the States after a short layover in Dubai. For those of us spending the extra 300 or so dollars a person for three nights in Dubai, rooms were booked in the Fairmont- the first and perhaps last 5-star hotel my wife and I would have the pleasure of staying in. 36

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Th e j u x ta p o s i t i o n o f a

traditionally dressed tribesman

on his cell was fairly amusing; I tried to not let it ruin my

National Geographic experience.

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The first day in Dubai the travel agency had scheduled for us to tour the Dubai Museum built out of the restored Al Fahidi Fort, walls and passages and all. After the tour we boarded the Abra Water Taxis to the spice, gold and gem marketplaces. It was decided that we’d get Megan a stone of her choosing to have set as an anniversary ring. We blindly stumbled into a tiny shop run by an older gentleman and after calculating the price of the 10.5-carat smoky topaz and looking at around $110, we broke out the plastic. The man looked at us and more or less pleaded for us to use cash, but we didn’t have enough. He didn’t have the card reader, that was at his uncle’s store in the mall up the street. So he threw the gem into a small baggie and handed it to Megan along with her credit card and instructed us to follow him through a labyrinth of old stone structures tightly lining the street as if to wall in passerby. A few times we actually lost sight of our trailblazer amidst the hoards of people milling about through police SUVs and buggies, stray dogs and children. Pretty sure the kids weren’t stray. As it turns out, had we completely lost our guide and his shop with the card machine, we’d have stolen the stone by default. All joking aside, they still chop your damn hands off in Dubai for stealing and, like most I’m sure, we were not too entirely stoked on this. He found us and we continued up into this crazy little mall through tourist areas, and other conjoined rooms which seemed amiss without the round table and some kind of foreign gangster in sunglasses at every seat in a high stakes game of poker. We rounded one more corner and the balcony opened up to our left into the main galley of the mall. We took an immediate right into the family gem store headquarters. He proceeded to run the card. A minute later he realized he typed in an extra zero accidentally. He felt super bad as it took us a good half hour to correct the charge after the bank turned off Megan’s card. All in all, the charge was reversed and we gave him the only remaining dirhams in our pocket, the equivalent to about 50 US dollars. Stoked. With a restocked credit card and a pocket full of gem, we headed back to the hotel where Megan and I remained for the rest of the trip. We lounged poolside, I had cocktails and Megan and unborn Henrik enjoyed the hot Arabian sun. The others on the trip, like single mom “Tits McGee” and her annoying kids, rented ATVs for a shitload of money to tool around on in the desert, guided of course. I think we made the right call in relaxing and decompressing for the last three days. We had that 18-hour flight back to NY looming and a connection on a small little jet back to Chicago where we’d finally arrive by around 10:45, lagged as fuck. My friend Brad picked us up from the airport in our truck and we stopped for microbrews to enjoy as soon as we walked in the front door. Without a shred of doubt this was a trip of a lifetime. There are a lot of people out there who’d make the claim that a packaged trip is a rip off and that you could see and do a lot more on your own agenda. It may be true if you have been there before, or if you have someone who is familiar with the area. Otherwise, I can’t imagine trying to finagle the logistical nightmare of a trip like this on my own. Not to mention

navigating the expansive intertwined dirt roads sprawling the country. For the price, and the amount of time and all the amenities, I’d say there’s no chance one could come close to matching it on their own a la carte. I feel like there should be some sort of lesson, or some finite objective to this five-page ramble. If that’s the case, I guess I’d tell you to quit spending all of your parental allowance on shitty weed and tear yourself away from the video games long enough to travel somewhere. Hell, it can be anywhere. The point is, the trip was chosen on a whim more or less. All we knew was that we wanted to go somewhere. We really didn’t have anything in mind, however I feel it’s necessary to make every trip a winter ski trip and Megan was not about to let that fly. She found this deal and pulled the trigger and you know what, I wouldn’t have chosen anywhere else to go. Because I don’t have access to the credit cards.•

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One Nation ...for All Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

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We live in a society so advanced that we can predict the weather and send satellites to the farthest reaches of our solar system. Through scientific research and discovery, we are able to live longer, healthier lives and fight diseases that once were terminal. So how does religion fit into this context? Let’s begin with a simple example. Do you believe that demons will enter your body if no one says, “God bless you,” when you sneeze? I doubt it. But many years ago people believed that the spirit or soul was contained inside the breath and that if you sneezed, you would lose your soul, allowing evil spirits to enter your body. Only God could prevent this; thus, “God bless you.” Today we know from science that this concept is ridiculous. Even the most devout person would not interpret this literally, and most people who call themselves religious would not associate their beliefs with such silly superstitions. So if, as a culture, we can move away from simple superstitions like this one, is it reasonable to suggest that we can also move away from other outdated religious notions, especially those that effect our government? This is not to say that those who believe in a god or practice something spiritual are in the wrong. That is certainly not the case. We live in a country founded by people who came to America to escape religious persecution. Our fore fathers designed a nation in which government and individual religious beliefs would remain separate. Citizens would be free to believe in whatever they liked, and government would remain in the interests of all. Some of our greatest politicians, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for example, believed fiercely in this ideal, and for many years, as we’ve grown as a nation, this concept of separation between church and state has continued to evolve and persevere, meaning that everyone is entitled to believe what they choose, and everyone else is entitled to disagree with them. The First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,” protects this right. Throughout our country’s rich history, there have been some Christians who would prefer for the United States to be a religious state—those who seem to have forgotten that America is made up of people with a myriad of beliefs,

“I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be non-sectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools.” -Theodore Roosevelt

not just one, and that we are supposed to be a country that celebrates the free exchange of beliefs and ideas. There seems to be a feeling of superiority among some Christians, those that believe theirs is the true religion, that the constitution was written by Christians, for Christians, and that the Framers of the Constitution sort of messed up with the First Amendment, because this is, of course, a Christian nation. In February 2012, for example, in an effort to attract evangelical voters before the presidential primaries, GOP candidate Rick Santorum told George Stephanopoulos, host of ABC’s ‘This Week,’ that he “doesn’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute. The idea,” he said, “that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.” -Thomas Jefferson Santorum went on to say that the idea that “people of faith have no role in the public square…makes me want to throw up.” Santorum didn’t stop there, publically questioning the spiritual beliefs of President Obama, Santorum said that, “[Obama believes in] some phony ideal, some phony theology … not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology,” essentially implying that his variety of religion is the only correct belief system for the entire country and that anyone who doesn’t share that belief is unfit to govern. More recently, Texas governor Rick Perry participated in a conference call in September with pastor Rick Scarborough as part of a, “40 Days to Save America,” campaign. Perry dismissed the concept of separation of church and state as a myth driven by secularists, and said that, “We have a biblical responsibility to be involved in the public arena proclaiming God’s truth.” I guess Perry hasn’t read the First Amendment. With comments like these in mind, made by some of the most prominent conservative politicians of our time, shouldn’t we remind ourselves that the laws of this nation are meant to follow the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--not any particular religious text? That the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are inclusive of all citizens, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, or what have you? The United States is not a Christian nation simply because many Christians live within our borders. Our laws are meant to protect and govern all citizens, not just those who practice the dominant Christian theology. Scientific achievements and industrialization have advanced our culture in numerous ways. Rather than relying on old wives tales, we turn to modern medicine when we are sick. We know what causes illness and that refrigerating food, for instance, is a good idea. Yet there’s a segment of our population that still clings to some biblical beliefs considered by many educated citizens to be as outdated as demons entering the body Bush actually stated that, “God told me EPIC MAGAZINE

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to strike al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did,” comparing the Middle East crisis to the crusades. I know many intelligent, religious people, and none of them claims to have directives straight from God calling them to action. This is dangerous territory. Isn’t this idea of using religion to justify war exactly what we complain about when we condemn al Qaida or jihad? A bit further back in time, James Watt, Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan Administration, responsible for national policy regarding the environment, said that, “We don’t have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.” Wow. I don’t know about you, but I think that protecting our national resources, our air and soil, and conversing the environment for generations to come is pretty important. The idea that a government official would cite a millennia-old text as the basis for modern law seems ridiculous in an industrialized nation in 2012, especially one in which global warming is scientific fact and not simply some anti-religious liberal nonsense. According to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin, yet the same book also states that it is a sin work on the Sabbath, to hold the skin of a dead pig, or to wear two different fabrics at the same time. The punishment to all, I might add, is death. Don’t believe me? Grab a Bible and look it up (Leviticus 23:2-3; Numbers 15:32-36; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Leviticus 11:6-8; Deuteronomy 22:11). In a society as advanced as ours, how do we allow a literary text containing long-outdated metaphorical notions of morality to become the basis of modern law? As Americans, we bemoan the treatment of women in strict Muslim countries like Iran, yet women’s reproductive rights are threatened in our own back yards. According to Karen McVeigh for the Guardian, “anti-abortion activists increasingly focus on state legislation to chip away at abortion rights granted by the historic Roe v Wade decision by the US supreme court.” She explains that Virginia, along with several other states, could pass a bill requiring invasive ultrasounds that have no medical necessity be

“…That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.” -Thomas Jefferson performed before an abortion procedure, an uncessary process that Dr. Jen Gunter, a gynecologist and blogger from northern California, calls an “intrusion of politics into medicine,” and, “a waste of taxpayer dollars.” In addition, Gunter warns of the dangers of, “allowing hypocritical politicians to set unacceptably low standards of medical care based on political goals, religion, and misogyny.” But, as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said, if women seeking abortions don’t like it, they can “just close their eyes.” The repercussions of these choices play out into all areas of our daily lives, from the healthcare and public education we are able to receive to the environment in 42

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which we live. Our elected politicians can dramatically alter the course of America. We must encourage and fund scientific advancements that may cure disease and promote the health and wellbeing of the nation. We must

“The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community.” -James A. Garfield fight for equality for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, color, creed or sexuality. We must fight for a public education system based solely on scientific theory and one that promotes a more sustainable future for our citizens. The idea that some schools around the country, receiving state funding, have lost the ability to teach scientific facts and are instead teaching symbolic stories from an ancient literary text, a text whose authors are unknown, is quite disturbing. According to the Washington Post, in 2012, Tennessee passed a bill into law allowing public schools to teach, “alternatives to mainstream scientific theories such as evolution.” Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, said the bill is a, “permission slip,” for schools, “to bring creationism, climate-change denial and other non-science into science classrooms.” Disturbingly, although scientists agree that the theory of evolution is sound, a 2010 Gallup poll found that 4 out of 10 Americans believe the biblical story of creationism, in which God created humans in their current form about 10,000 years ago. We are fortunate to live in a country where people can believe what they choose, where one can find his or her spiritual path in whatever incarnation deemed most appropriate. However, as our fore fathers established, those beliefs should remain within our homes, churches, synagogues and mosques. According to “The Southern Argument for Slavery,” one hundred and fifty years ago, defenders of slavery argued that even Abraham had slaves, noting that slavery is mentioned many times throughout the Bible, without any instances of Jesus speaking out against it. Defenders of slavery argued, “the institution [of slavery] was divine, and that it brought Christianity to the heathen from across the ocean.” Fifty years ago, the religious right felt that AfricanAmericans shouldn’t drink out of the same water fountains as white people. Today, the Bible is being used to justify bigotry toward gay people: the same book that states


we must not touch the skin of a dead pig, which would probably have given you trichinosis and killed you at that time. Luckily, with the advancements in food handling and preparation, trichinosis is all but in the past. Many people today would call that rule from the Bible arcane.

“As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” -John Adams - Treaty of Tripoli So we see the major issue with basing any type of society on a select set of laws from the Bible. Those that choose to do so pick and choose which rules they want to follow. No one in this country should be forced to suffer from the imposition of someone else’s religious beliefs. The beliefs of religious people have no place in government. While some may argue that those who remain secular have “beliefs” too, there is a difference. Religious people base their beliefs on the text of a book thousands of years old, which has been edited severely, incorrectly translated, and most likely written by people thousands of years after the supposed events in the text took place. Science is not a religion. It can be tested and retested, proven and disproven. It requires no “faith” for it to exist or succeed. If we move toward only including information from

secular sources, we eliminate the influence of arcane and superstitious beliefs from influencing the laws and policies that are needed for us to prosper as a nation. The phrase “Under God” was not originally in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was added in 1954, after pressure from the religious right during the threat of communism, a moment of fear upon which the religious zealots capitalized. Richard Dawkins addresses the major problem with allowing religion to dictate socio-political imperatives in today’s society in A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science and Love. Dawkins states that, “The human psyche has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations, and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. Abrahamic religion mixes explosively with (and gives strong sanction to) both. Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities in the world today. Without a doubt it is the prime aggravator of the Middle East. Those of us who have for years politely concealed our contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion need to stand up and speak out. Things are different now. ‘All is changed, changed utterly.” We can look back to the 19th century as well. According to Stendhal, one of the most original and complex French writers of the time, “All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.” This country needs to stop being “One nation under God” and go back to being “One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL.”

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433 MURDERS IN 2011 361 by firearm wounds 29 by stabbing 28 by assault 5 by blunt force injury 5 undetermined causes 4 by strangulation 1 by asphyxiation

murdered victims by race/ethnicity 75.3% black 18.9% Hispanic 4.6% white 1.2% other

TURN IN

Another strategy has been the “Turn In” event. This once-a-year event gives residents the opportunity to exchange firearms for $100 MasterCard gift cards, no questions asked. In the past six years, the city has seized over 23,000 guns through this event. 44

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Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, with a population of approximately 2.7 million people. Known by many names, such as, “The Windy City,” and for many things, such as its politics and its food, Chicago has a crime rate that is rising fast. The murder rate, specifically, will likely surpass last year’s rate, with a 38 percent increase reported at the end of July, or 305 murders. Last year, according to the city’s 2011 Murder Analysis Report, by the end of July 2011, there had only been 242 murders. To make matters worse, a report from CNN showed that the murder rates in Chicago for this year alone have surpassed the deaths of troops killed serving in Afghanistan this year. “Tracking Homicides in Chicago,” by the Redeye provides a map where you can visually see where murders have taken place, and it seems that every neighborhood has some problems. According to the City of Chicago 2011 Murder Analysis Report, there were 433 murders recorded at the end of 2011. Not surprisingly, most occurred on city streets, 82.4% or 357, and most of the murders occurred on weekends. Motives vary: domestic altercations, alcohol, love triangles, monetary issues, gambling, sex, theft, traffic altercations, burglary, armed robbery, and sexual assault. A total of 118 were street gang related. CNN questioned where and how firearms are finding their way into Chicago, when the city has no firearm shops and discovered that a lot of firearms used to commit murders in Chicago have been linked to other states. Firearms traffickers will pay someone else, mostly young college students with little or no money, $100 to go into firearms shops, fill out paperwork, purchase firearms, and then hand them over to the firearms traffickers. These traffickers will then sell the firearms, legally purchased by someone else, to street gang members. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Chicago Field Division, knows of about 16 firearms that have been legally purchased and then found in the hands of murderers. So what is Chicago doing to address this problem? In 2000, responding to high numbers of murders the previous decade, Chicago implemented the CeaseFire Model beginning in the West Garfield area, known as the most violent community Chicago. The first year CeaseFire was implemented, the city saw a 67% decrease in shootings and decided to expand the CeaseFire Model to other areas and communities.


187 IN THE 312 Article by LIZETTE ULLOA Photographs by CAROLYN PAVELKIS & JAVIER FRIAS EPIC MAGAZINE

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City of Chicago POLICE MISSION “The Chicago Police Department, as part of, and empowered by, the community, is committed to protect the lives, property, and rights of all people, to maintain order, and to enforce the law impartially. We will provide quality police service in partnership with other members of the community. To fulfill our mission, we will strive to attain the highest degree of ethical behavior and professional conduct at all times.”

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THE BEAT

In the past months, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy revealed they would be adding more beat officers to the streets. Beat officers patrol the same area of the city for a year, giving them the opportunity to get to know the community and to monitor and develop effective solutions to the community’s problems. These officers walk, bike and patrol, even out of uniform. Beat teams are fully equipped, motorized police units that

respond to calls for police service, especially calls of a non-emergency nature. There are over 9,000 beat officers patrolling the city, distributed over 23 districts. Unfortunately, not every high-crime area has enough. The number of officers per district ranged from 191 in the 23rd district to 386 in the 7th district. Beat officers have become a great asset to the Chicago Police Department. The officers have helped reduced some of the crime rates in the city’s most troubled areas.


4TH DISTRICT COP WHO CARES An officer for over 12 years reports that he patrols the 4th District, working the graveyard shift. He acknowledges that there is no way of knowing what the night will bring. With a smile, he says, “It’s not about the doughnuts and coffee like everyone likes to assume; I take great pride in my work, and I would hope every officer does the same. I cannot speak for all of them, but I like my job, and I do my best in patrolling my neighborhoods and every other neighborhood even when I’m off duty.” The industrial area he patrols consists of factories and small businesses. “Because it’s a lonely area, with the vacant buildings, the premises around there are more likely to be targeted by offenders because they believe no one will be around to see the crimes being committed,” he explains. Drag racing (at night) is common, mainly because the streets are long, with little traffic, and there are few stop signs and traffic lights. Other common crimes are drug trafficking, assaults, robberies, and homicides. About the current homicide rates in the city, he states, “ It saddens me to see those numbers, it’s like a frustrating situation that you know the City of Chicago is trying to address the problem. We have formed many alliances with different departments, even with homeland security, to lower the numbers, but it’s not an easy task when you keep getting attacked from all directions and not everyone is willing to cooperate.” He also said that over the years the numbers have declined and that it is apparent that some of the strategies implemented to reduce crime are working, adding, “In some cases the blue light cameras have come out handy and have helped the department solve some incidents and have lowered some of the crime in the areas where the blue light cameras have been placed, but unfortunately the crimes have not actually decreased completely.” The Turn in event, he feels, is extremely helpful in getting firearms out of the streets, away from people that should not have them in their possession. •

WEBSITE gis.chicagopolice.org The city of Chicago has created a website called gis.chicagopolice.org to help the communities organize themselves and create strategies to work with CPD to reduce crime. This site tracks crime by district, address, station, beat, sector and area.

BLUE LIGHT CAMERAS Chicago has installed blue light flashing cameras at the top of light poles in “hot areas” in order to prevent crime. These cameras are controlled by the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, OEMC. At the time the blue light cameras were installed (2003), Mayor Daley claimed that within the first year of installation the crime rate had decreased about 30%. The city began placing about 1,500 blue light cameras in troubled areas where residents complained about drug dealing and other activities. The cameras can tell police which direction shootings have come from and help to monitor and prevent gang, drug and larceny activity. There are now thousands of blue light cameras around the city. In 2008, the OEMC partnered with other government agencies and the private sectors to install cameras out of the public eye, accessed by OEMC only in emergency situations, after they have given proper notification to residents, business owners, or government employees. Some residents feel that these cameras on private property are an invasion of privacy and highly doubt their effectiveness. EPIC MAGAZINE

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Flavored vodka is the biggest trends in the world of alcohol. Epic Magazine presents a how-to guide on how to turn that cheap flavorless spirit into a rainbow of awesomeness that will turn your next party into a night you’ll never forget, and one that your friend (you know the one I’m talking about) probably won’t remember.

Article And photogrAphy by

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HOW TO GUI DE: SKITTLES VODKA

r i c h a r d cOnn O l ly


Step 1: Collect Ingredients The first thing you’ll need to do is collect all the necessary equipment and ingredients before getting anything started. Here’s what you’ll need: ~ Two 1.75 liter bottles of vodka ~ 5 empty 750mL bottles with caps or corks (clear glass works best) ~ One 14oz bag of Skittles® candy

~ Funnels or small colanders ~ Coffee Filters ~ Additional clean empty bottles or containers to funnel liquid into

Step 2: Seperate & Soak Once everything necessary is collected, separate the Skittles by color and place each batch in its own respective bottle. Each package is certain to have more of one color than the others, but this can be remedied by eating the colors there’s an abundance of. Carefully using a funnel, fill each bottle nearly to the top with vodka, leaving just enough room to shake the contents later. Tightly seal the filled bottles with their respective corks or caps.

Step 3: Shake & Wait Allow the skittles to soak at least 4 to 5 hours while shaking every hour or so. For the best results, leave them in the bottles overnight. As the candy dissolves a white foam will form at the top. Continue to shake until the candy has completely dissolved or you find yourself satisfied with the results. Do not test during this stage, the white foam at the top is very bitter tasting and filtration is needed to remove.

Step 4: Filter The most time consuming and usually messy step is the filtration. The white layer that forms at the top of the concotion is a bitter tasting by-product of the process, but can easily be removed by pouring the vodka through coffee filters. During the first filtration the coffee filters will clog very quickly, so only pour a little at a time and be patient. Squeezing the clogged filters may be necessary at some point when the contents no longer drip through.

Step 5: Filter some more After the first filtration, prepare the batches for a second pass through the coffee filters. The more you filter, the better your results will be. The second filtration will be significantly quicker than the first, but you don’t have to stop with just two passes. The more you filter, the better the taste and appearance of the final product. Keep going until the vodka achieves a semi-transparent color that is free of any visible impurities.

Step 6: chill & serve Once you’ve filtered to satisfaction, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The vodka tastes best if chilled for a few hours, or mixed with ice. Here are a few mixed drink suggestions for each flavor: {Purple Vodka + Energy Drink} {Green Vodka + Lemonade} {Orange Vodka + Orange Juice} {Yellow Vodka + Sprite} {Red Vodka + Cola} EPIC MAGAZINE

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ll n i n r a g e w w e er e. in ft r do u e e w , g t g m i A f e h i n i o g . n a t t t a y n o k e a Ch com me o her en w see deb no l alki lly w t be we of is w ua dy o t o s no for ome e’ve at ar rm u’re ent ybo t ia t or s s w e th a ye refo f yo g, ev , an at w on ne ang er re d. I kin ow lks o t N l h o a s n h f . e f a c r c a w a s h l e , s w e h w t e p e th ing lt he ep la fe pl r re iv ea f t ke e c a eo in a t l h r e p l o a o s , t a d W We f s te aw g t id ju ing eci . y o c vo e l lin e m ith ork sp th r fo tur ori s th wil r th d w o w ave ind e n ist It i ’re fo ar n t t h ’t m er e c ’ w . h u r n r a a ise yo rio fo ow ca don k.Th a d r c t d r m e e e y e S a n o a t l W W m f a r . w k . o a t p th a on ic it nt in b ited r t e o e a g i n m c t e ’ r p s n U I m e s f o . t n s t s r u igh es thi g ve p in otta the cha n a r r i s r e u g ’ r e o o g n e e s t f v y g o h r e l s e o i t pr m it’s u’l il th he ing ru e an t yo am ut - t at s f k a a c h m we g t up, ss f e, b rica dvoc time p d a e i e a t e l n i r a m e c m t th , hop to k dle the ive A jus , so g t d l r t t i n o l o i s e m f va f n d . e u j w r av me ser o rin ay e t o g d t h n s c e s y o fa otta can a c e mid g th ay b d g y n e th oin h, d e h a


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article by Omar Johnson illustrations by Javier Frias & Ben Uhrich Health Care has been an issue in the United States for decades. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) improves health care in the United States by making health care easier to obtain, affordable, and mandatory. Ruled constitutional under the Commerce Clause, the ACA offers health plans for people with pre-existing conditions and also helps small businesses pay for health plans for their employees. In the past, health insurance companies could deny or cancel coverage to anyone they chose. But the ACA has provisions in place making it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against those looking for health care or who already have coverage, regardless of present or future health issues. Preventative services that were previously not covered, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, domestic violence screenings and counseling, pap smears, and pelvic exams, now have to be covered. Young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. This is a major acquisition, especially given the current state of our economy. The passing of the ACA provides hope for millions of Americans. In 2014, individuals and families will be able to receive health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act. There are several ways to become covered, depending on your individual or family status. The qualifications to receive health care under the ACA vary depending on your personal or family financial and employment status. You can receive a tax credit, coverage through Medicaid, and unsubsidized insurance through an Exchange or in a non-group market. Insurance Exchanges are designed to make buying health coverage easier and more affordable. They will assist the public with insurance choices by evening the playing field of companies, which will lead to competition and drive down costs. Exchanges will be a state structure design as either a non-profit entity, independent public agency, or as part of an existing state agency. THE SPECIFICS Medicaid, Exchanges & the non-group market In 2011, the poverty level for individuals was $10,890, and a family of four was $22,350. If you are covered by an employer, and your family income is less than or equal to 133% of the poverty level, you can choose coverage in Medicaid or in the employer plan. If you are not covered by an employer, and your family income is less than or equal to 133% of the poverty level, your family is eligible for coverage through Medicaid. If your family income is not less than or equal to four times the poverty level, your family is guaranteed access to insurance through an Exchange with eligibility for tax credit and guaranteed access to unsubsidized insurance through an Exchange or the non-group market. If your employer does not cover at least 60% of health expenses on average, then you can choose coverage in the employer plan or buy insurance through an Exchange and be eligible for a tax credit.

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If your employer plan covers at least 60% of health expenses on average and you do not pay more than 8% of income for the premium in the employer plan, you can choose coverage in the employer plan or buy unsubsidized insurance through an Exchange or in the non-group market. If your employer plan covers at least 60%, you pay more than 8% and your family income is less than or equal to four times the poverty level, you can choose coverage in the employer plan or buy unsubsidized insurance through an Exchange or in the non-group market. If your employer plan covers at least 60%, you pay more than 9.5% and your family income is less than or equal to four times the poverty level, you can choose coverage in the employer plan or buy insurance through an Exchange and be eligible for a tax credit. If your employer plan covers at least 60%, you do not pay more than 9.5% and your family income is less than or equal to four times the poverty level, you can choose coverage in the employer plan or buy insurance through an Exchange using the employer contribution as a “free choice voucher.” A “free choice voucher” allows an eligible employee to take the amount contributed by an employer towards the premium of a plan in an Exchange.

Before the ACA Insurance companies used to spend as much as 40 % of your premium on salaries, overhead, and other administrative costs, and they could raise your rates without warning or explanation.

40%

Today Your insurance company is now required to spend at least 80 % of your premium on your health care—and if it doesn’t, it owes you a rebate.

80%


Before the ACA Insurance companies could deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, from asthma to cancer.

Today Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children under 19 with preexisting conditions. In 2014 insurance companies won’t be able to turn anyone down or charge more due to a pre-existing condition.

Before the ACA

Today

Young people could be kicked off their parents’ health insurance as soon as they turned 18.

3.1 million young Americans who would otherwise be uninsured have been able to stay on their family’s coverage until age 26—coverage that often includes free preventive care, like checkups and flu shots.

Before the ACA

Today

More than half of all insurance plans used to include lifetime limits on coverage—so your insurance company could stop paying for your treatment when you need it the most.

The new law bans all lifetime caps on coverage.

3.1

MILLION

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prison cycle

THE REVOLVING DOOR OF THE U.S. PENAL SYSTEM Article by CARMEN HORNE Photograph by OLIVIA BODLEY Men doing hard time in the state penitentiary don’t give a damn about anything, and most don’t even think about rehabilitation. There are men who have grown up in the penal system, and the “prison” way of life is natural to them. Prison is the same crime-filled world that many incarcerated men come from. They are locked up in one place and time stops. There is no adequate training to teach a former inmate how to adapt back into society. Our prison system lacks the education, training, and social skill development needed to adapt in today’s society, and most inmates have no desire for rehabilitation. Some men are in and out of prison. When they are out, they surround themselves with the same people, do the same things, and go right back into prison. Many inmates believe that a life of crime is the only path through life, a “career.” How do you rehabilitate someone with that mentality? Growing up, many young men hanging around street corners, getting involved in gangs or becoming drug addicts will ultimately face time in prison. According to child support statistics, 84% of women are the custodial parents compared to only 16% of fathers. And 27% of single mothers and their children live in poverty. Reality is difficult for most women trying to raise a son with no male figure present. A woman cannot teach a boy to be a man. The presence of a strong, positive, male figure in the home is important, especially for children of color. Many kids find solace in the streets and call it home, and when they run on the wrong side of the streets, they find themselves in a world of violence, chaos and confusion. The increase of incarceration over the past few decades has been staggering. Imprisonment is a totally different mindset from freedom, an unimaginable sameness. The reality of being under lock and key for the next twenty years to life —that’s the real dismay and repulsion of prison life. The scale of brutality and moral indignity that goes on in prison is too much for most to processes. According to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, nearly 200,000 inmates have been or will be the victims of prison rape, and most cases go unreported. The total number of prisoners sexually assaulted in the past 20 years likely exceeds one million. Inmates who run a higher risk are those with a mental illnesses, juveniles, and first-time offenders. For most men there is no rehabilitation from sexual assault. Men who have had to experience this nightmare get no treatment, and so they become psychologically and physically broken. Rehabilitation for anyone who has served time in the penal system is expensive, often healing and reform never happen, and the 54

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vicious cycle of prison life continues. What do you say to a 19 year old first time offender who has been given a sentence of 100 years? This sentence diminishes any hope in the life of the person who now has to live a life of serious hardship. Terry Sanders was taken into custody on January 20, 1985, charged with armed robbery, murder, and attempted murder, and later found guilty of murder and attempted murder. He was eighteen years old. He is the father of two adult daughters and has succumbed to prison life, spending the last twenty-seven years of his life in Statesville Correctional Center, near Joliet, Illinois. Terry is now forty-five years old. After spending most of his life in prison, Terry Sanders agreed to a telephone interview about his experience as a prisoner of Statesville Correctional Institution. For Terry, there is little hope of going home. But what if Terry were to re-enter society? How would he adapt in a more advanced technological world? How would he reprogram his way of thinking? Living in prison, survival is the only priority. You have to be on guard for your life 24 hours a day, seven days a week, surrounded by all types of predators. Inmates are surrounded by over-worked guards who are themselves on guard for their lives and the lives of their co-workers. Upon my research of prison life rehabilitation, there is very little to none.

Q&A With Terry Sanders Q: You were a teenager at the time of your conviction, sentenced to serve 100 years. What went through your head? A: It’s over. It felt like the end of the world. Q: Have you talked or heard from any of the victims? A: No, but I do pray that they would come forward and tell the truth about my involvement on the night of the murders. They changed their story, which ultimately got me convicted. Q: You grew up in the Cabrini Green housing projects. Do most inmates come from the projects? A: Yes, the men that I have seen come in grew up in the projects, but they choose a life of crime. It does not matter if you grow up in projects or not. There is no life in prison. Q: Do you think you can be become rehabilitated in Prison? A: I don’t, but some men who have done time, and really mean when they say they will never come back in a sense have become rehabilitated. There is no therapist I can go to and talk about the trauma I have felt for the past 27 years. Q: For the past 27 years in prison, I am sure you have seen everything that could possibly happen in prison. What has been the worst? A: Murder. That is the worst thing to ever see.


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