Volkswagen’s Dirty Diesel

by Breanna Racher

Protecting the environment is a high priority for most consumers in the worldwide market today, especially when it comes to purchasing vehicles that they will use daily. For auto companies, there is a constant race to produce the cleanest, most efficient, and most affordable cars in order to succeed. The German car company, Volkswagen, supposedly had succeeded in all of these requirements. However, in 2008, the company released a line of “Clean Diesel” cars; these cars claimed to run on diesel fuel (which has higher fuel efficiency), but release fewer emissions than the standard car at that time. These cars were first introduced into the US market in 2009 and the company received environmental awards for their accomplishments. All appeared to be smooth sailing for the company, until a group of five scientists from West Virginia University conducted a test on three diesel cars, two of which were Volkswagens.

When cars are officially tested for emissions, they go through “laboratory dynamometer testing,” which consists of placing the car onto a treadmill-like machine and measuring the emissions released over a period of time at varying speeds. When the Volkswagen clean diesel cars went through these testings, their emission levels were well above the safe levels. The scientists at West Virginia University also tested the two Volkswagen cars on live road tests. The results they received, however, far exceeded legal limits set by both European and US standards. The scientists tested the cars repeatedly and got the same results each time. After presenting their results to the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental organizations, and after a year long investigation, an answer to the discrepancies in test results was finally revealed.

It was revealed that Volkswagen used a software commonly called a “defeat device” in order to pass regulation tests without actually meeting the standards. The device allowed the car to hold the emissions in until the steering wheel was turned. Since the vehicles are on a treadmill-style device during lab testing, the cars do not make any turns and Volkswagen was able to cheat their emission amounts. After the company admitted to their crime, they revealed that 11 million cars containing the “defeat devices” were produced and distributed internationally. Volkswagen claimed they would spend $18.2 billion in order to compensate for the emissions and to recall and refit the vehicles involved. In 2017, Volkswagen plead guilty to criminal charges and a US Federal judge ordered the company to also pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine.

This scandal raised awareness about other automobile companies that are thought to be guilty of the same the same fraudulent crime. Because of this scandal, the EPA and other regulators have made efforts to further investigate their tactics and the ways that the testing system was prone to different types of cheating.

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Netflix Shows to Inspire you this Spring

By MaryClaire Fox

Hey ladies! As springtime approaches, we finally can see the end of the school year in sight, but don’t give up on your schoolwork just yet. Here are a few positive shows on Netflix to give you a mood boost next time you need some motivation to finish that assignment.

Childhood Classics

Sometimes, it’s fun to re-watch one of your favorite movies from growing up.

Possible Movies: High School Musical, The Cheetah Girls, Jump In!, and A Cinderella Story

 

The Art of Food

There are so many different types of shows involving food from baking the most delicious cakes to preparing a lovely appetizer. No matter what cooking show you decide to watch, you are sure to be full of bright ideas by the end of it.

Possible Shows: Chef’s Table, The Great British Baking Show, and Nailed It!

 

Positive Documentaries

It is so easy to find documentaries which show the injustices of the world. While these are very important pieces of film, it is also necessary that we see all the things which are improving in the world as well. I hope that after watching these documentaries, you feel that you too can make a positive impact in the world.

Possible Documentaries: Twinsters, Happy, Man on Wire, and Meru

 

Light-hearted Sitcoms

Who doesn’t love a good laugh? When I am feeling down, the first thing I do is watch one of my favorite comedies on Netflix to make me feel better. Sometimes laughter is the best thing to get you out of a bad mood and give you the energy to carry on.

Possible Shows: The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, and Friends

 

 

 

Smart Spending

by Olivia Parker

Now that most of us are old enough to have the freedom to choose where we spend our money, it’s important to trust the companies we are giving our money to. When we buy goods or services from certain brands, we are indirectly promoting the causes they support as well. For example, you could be supporting cheap labor in foreign countries, discriminatory actions, or animal testing. On the other hand, it is also good to support the brands you do agree with like female empowerment, environmental safety, and feeding the hungry. Here is some important information about select brands and companies to consider when making decisions about where to shop.

H&M and Gap – Sweatshops and racially insensitive clothing

Imagine working in a Cambodian clothing factory, sewing clothes for roughly 50 cents per hour. You are forced to work long hours in a hot room packed full of other women and children. You and other workers faint frequently and any possible strikes are shut down by authorities. You are trapped in a job that provides for your family, but will not help you escape poverty. Major clothing brands like H&M and Gap are guilty of supporting sweatshops, primarily in Cambodia, with similar conditions. These companies can sell their clothes for as little as $25 because of the outsourced cheap labor in developing countries.

In recent news, H&M has also had another press scandal concerning it’s new release of a boy’s hoodie. The serious reputation crisis emerged after the image of a small black boy modeling a sweatshirt emblazoned with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hit social media. H&M came out and explained that it was a result of internal procedures not being followed properly, but it quickly turned into a racially insensitive nightmare. The Weeknd, a musician and collaborator with H&M, recently announced he is cutting ties with the store in the wake of the incident.

Clorox – animal testing

The Clorox Company, which specializes in cleaning products, has been present in many of our homes since 1913. They have products to clean your bathroom, kitchen, wood products, and just about anywhere in your house. Since they do sell products with chemicals for cleaning and human contact, they must make sure they are safe for their consumers to use. This includes testing them for incidental and accidental reactions to skin, eyes, ingestion, and inhalation, occasionally using animals. On their website, TheCloroxCompany.com, they explain that animal testing is the last resort and used only if all other efforts to ensure safety are exhausted. However, the company is currently working towards a future where animal testing has no role in product development. They believe companies should be able to use existing data and alternative tests so animals are not involved in product-safety testing.


Abercrombie and Fitch – Weight discrimination

One type of discrimination still prevalent in the U.S. is weight discrimination.  Abercrombie & Fitch’s chief executive, Michael Jeffries, admitted that his company designed clothes no larger than size 10 to target “cool kids’’ in a 2006 interview with Salon magazine. When challenged by The National Eating Disorders Association who believed this encouraged eating disorders, like anorexia, in customers wanting to fit into their clothes, the company stayed silent. It is important to know, especially now that we buy most of our own clothes, that when you buy clothing from a store you are supporting a certain attitude put on by that store.

Clif Bar, Patagonia, and New Balance– Environmentally friendly

Here are three brands that a majority of us own and love: Clif Bar, Patagonia, and New Balance Athletics. All of these companies publicly strive to make the Earth a better place. Clif Bar and Company’s Co-owner, Kit Crawford, says the company’s goal is to create “the kind of place that makes the kind of food we’d like to eat, and that strives for a healthier, more sustainable world.” Clif Bar sources quality, mostly organic ingredients from farmers and other suppliers that uses fair labor practices. The next company on this list, Patagonia, uses recycled and environmentally friendly materials in its clothing, as well as energy and environmentally efficient stores and facilities. They also donate at least 1 percent of company sales to various grassroots environmental groups across the globe. Also, while your Patagonia is keeping you warm in the winter, it will last longer and stay out of the landfills due to the Company’s Worn Wear Program. Lastly, New Balance Athletics is changing the way the sneaker industry runs with its reduced use of harmful chemicals. It’s kind of a buzzkill to hear that your fresh pair of sneakers were made using chemicals that are hazardous to the environment, so to counteract this problem, New Balance has created a special team in their company tasked with keeping tabs on harmful chemicals used in production, and finding ways to prevent restricted substances from entering factories. These are just a few examples of companies that are making an effort to better the planet by doing their part to keep it clean.

Always– #LikeAGirl campaign

We all know the brand Always as a reliable source for feminine hygiene products. In the past three years, they have launched a campaign to empower the very people that use their products- girls. Studies show that when girls hit puberty, 80 percent of them feel the societal pressure to be perfect and never fail. This fear of failure inhibits girls from trying new things and setting big goals. Always wanted to boost a girl’s confidence at the time they need it most, when they begin the daunting journey of womanhood. Part of their campaign was a commercial in which they portray their mission to encourage girls everywhere to embrace failures as fuel to build confidence and keep going #LikeAGirl.

Tacos4life– Meal4Meal

Tacos4Life is a restaurant with a great assortment of unique and tasty taco flavors that was started in Arkansas. The quality that makes this restaurant unique is its mission to give back on the global stage through their Meal4Meal program. They have decided to help solve one of the world’s greatest problems- hunger. Tacos4Life donates the funds necessary to Feed My Starving Children to purchase one meal for every meal sold in the restaurant. They also work with organizations in countries like Honduras, Haiti, Belize, Dominican Republic, and Swaziland where children face economic and health challenges.

Students Take a Stand

by Emily Pickering

On March 25, Little Rock joined cities across the nation in the March for our Lives. People of every age and from all over the state gathered for this march to protest gun violence, demand gun law reform, and honor the victims of gun violence- specifically the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The main march took place in Washington D.C. The march itself was very short, just a quick walk to the steps of the Capitol. The protesters marched with signs in hand while chanting “this is what democracy looks like” and “vote them out”, in reference to congressmen and senators who support the NRA.

On the steps of Little Rock’s Capitol, speeches were given by parents, students, and activists. The Little Rock march was organized by Chris Kingsby, who was the first to speak at this event saying, “Today, you have made a vow that not one morenot one more child will lose their life in the classroom.” One parent who spoke, Eve Jorgensen, is the leader of Moms Demand Action, an activist group demanding common sense gun laws. In Jorgensen’s speech she stated “We demand that lawmakers act in our best interest, and not the gun lobbies”.

One of the most powerful speeches was given by Wylie Greer, a senior at Greenbrier High School. He spoke about being one of only three at his school to participate in the school walkout on March 14. Greer’s school allowed him to choose his punishment; either two days of school suspension or two swats from a wooden paddle. All three participants chose the corporal punishment. Greer spoke on the punishment saying “I chose the swats. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret what I did in the slightest. In fact, I plan to walk out again on April 20.”

Some gun rights activists attended the rally to protest- one being Greg Giuffria, a member of the NRA. He believes that “the NRA is not powerful because they bought the politicians, but because the belief of self-defense is such a powerful belief.” He stated that he attended the march to exhibit the opposing side’s beliefs about guns.

This movement has promoted a new voice in many young Americans who feel passionate about this issue.  A group of Mount student gathered at the local march to show their support for gun reform while honoring victims of gun violence.  It is our time as young adults to stand up for this movement and use our voices to spark this change.

march for life

Dog Date Ideas

By Allison Toomer

  1. There are beautiful dog parks, such as Hot Springs Bark Park, places to treat your canine companions, such as Hounds Lounge Pet Resort and Spa, or nature trails like the ones at Pinnacle Mountain Park if you want to get some exercise while exploring the outdoors with your pet.

The Best Dog Parks

  1. Paws Park at Murray is a fenced, off-leash park for you and your pet to run around and meet other dogs.
  2. Burns Park Dog Park is also a great open area for your dog that has tubs of water and sprinklers for them to play in and cool off on hot, summer days.
  3. Fort Smith Dog Park is an off-leash, exercise and socialization spot with over 40 acres of land for you and your pet to explore.

Treat Your Dog

  1. The Bark Bar is Arkansas’ first indoor/outdoor, off-leash dog play area and bar. They offer discounted memberships provide a safe space for your pet to play.
  2. Bow Wow and Meow, located in Maumelle, is a shop where you can buy baked dog treats for your canine companion. They also create specialty “pupcakes” and cookies for your dog’s birthday.

Feel the Burn (with your dog)

  1. Allsop Park has a trail that runs along a stream, with plenty of trees and wonderful scenery for you to walk or jog with your dog.
  2. Petit Jean State Park also has wonderful scenery and challenging hiking trails for you and your dog to enjoy this spring.
  3. Pinnacle Mountain State Park has many trails with varying difficulties, however the climb to the top is always worth the wonderful view,

Spring Cleansing

Spring cleaning involves many different ways for people to organize their lives. Not only do I think of cleaning my room during this time of fresh starts, but I also think about clearing out my mind too. Spring cleaning can mean anything from cutting ties with toxic relationships, to cleaning your house to create a more organized, productive space.  When you clean the unnecessary things out your life, it is like giving yourself a fresh start—which is exactly what spring entails. Our lives are constantly changing, and if we don’t focus on ourselves every once in a while we can feel emotionally drained. Not only does this mental spring cleaning help better my mindset, cleaning your room can also really help your mental focus. When my room is clean, I can be more focused on my work because I am not overwhelmed by the thought of a messy room. Organizing my room helps me to be more productive and motivated while I’m at home.

 

A synonym for spring is “to evolve.” Not only does this make sense because the seasons are changing (or, evolving),  but this is also a time for the entirety of the natural world to start again. Spring brings us new beginnings to evolve as people as we cut out the things in our life that are weighing us down.  Even though it is hard to keep motivation at the end of the school year, I highly recommend taking this time to organize your life in order to recenter your focus for the rest of the year.

Tragedy in Austin

By Josie Fitz

On March 2, 2018, a bomb went off in Austin, Texas.

To most residents of the town, Austin is a haven of peace. When bombs disguised as packages suddenly began appearing on people’s doorsteps, everyone was petrified. Emma Schmidt, a freshman at St. Andrew’s Academy in Austin, said

“It was really scary because you never knew who was next. I didn’t know anybody who was hurt or killed, but I know of two people whose friends and family were injured and/or killed…it was alarming because Austin used to seem like a really safe and accepting city. It still is, but in that week you had to be careful and it was a good reminder that something can always happen.”

Austin residents were frightened by this very serious threat. Many say that it is the first true terror in their town since the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966. Today’s social climate only fed that fear. The Austin package bombings were random, meaning no one was safe. People were scared to pick up packages on their doorstep, schools were shut down, and GoodWills were bombed. Panic rose quickly and people didn’t know what to do.

Thus raises the question: how does a once calm city like Austin recover from such a tragedy? According to Emma Schmidt, “A lot of people have been supporting each other after the bombings. People have also been more aware because they want Austin to be safe again.” Although the city of Austin was affected by this horrible act of terrorism, it brought them closer together as a community and made them more aware that safety is not guaranteed. The most important thing to do in times like these are to offer support and show love to those around you. Never be afraid to reach out for help, because help is always there when you need it.