Friday, January 12, 2018

The Repeal of Net Neutrality: The End of the Internet or the Beginning of a New Era?

By: Michael Gaudiosi

You have probably  heard about the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commision) decision to repeal the 2015 Net Neutrality bill put into place by former president Barack Obama. The repeal has been the talk of the internet since Ajit Pai became chairman in January of 2017. YouTubers and other social media “celebrities” have deemed the decision as “the end of the internet as we know it” or they have said users will have to pay $20 a month to access to YouTube or Instagram. While I do think this is a serious topic that needs to be discussed, spreading these false statements is a bit radical and provides no solution to the current situation.

Before we can really delve into the problem at hand we need to define Net Neutrality and analyze its origin, usage and possibly its demise. Net Neutrality is defined as the principle that ISPs (internet service providers) must treat all data on the internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. Basically, this means that a provider such as AT&T cannot slow down a user's connection to a website such as YouTube, just because they are competitors and  would make more money.

Net Neutrality has been a part of telecommunications since the 1980s;  the government claims that phone networks and telegrams were common carriers and could not give preferential treatment. The term itself is new but the underlying idea it represents is not. The internet was first legal for public use in the late eighties but it was not viewed as a public utility, such as telecommunications, so no regulations were set by the FCC on how ISPs could allow access to websites.

By the early 2000s the internet had become common in most households and talk of neutrality was on the rise. People discussed free online trade and education access and for the next 15 years the Net Neutrality Bill would be created after a series of trial and error. In February of 2015 the Net Neutrality Bill was passed and has been in place for the past 2 years. It has allowed the government to regulate the internet and allowed them to stop ISPs from slowing down users access to certain websites just to make more profit. The bill has been compared to the first amendment by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: "This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept."

When Trump became president in 2017, changes were quickly made and Ajit Pai was appointed as the new FCC Chairman. Ajit Pai, former attorney for Verizon, has been against Net Neutrality since its passing in 2015, saying that when the government gets involved in internet matters, innovation and growth is halted and could restrict business arrangements. In April of 2017, Pai publicly promised that the FCC would be voting to roll back the Net Neutrality Bill and that this decision would be the first step in opening the market on the internet.

This promise came to fruition December 14 2017, when the FCC voted to repeal the Net Neutrality Bill, with a 3-2 vote across party lines. Some saw this decision as the beginning of a new online era that dictates free trade and an open market where business can thrive, while others saw it as the end to the internet they know and love. While no one knows what will happen, it is obvious that the end of Net Neutrality will only benefit large billion dollar ISPs while medium and even large sized businesses such as Amazon and Netflix will be taking a huge hit from this decision. Ajit Pai and his supporters say that most ISPs will probably not throttle websites to increase revenue and that even if they did, families could just switch internet providers. Well, there are two problems with that; one, being what happens if all ISPs decide to throttle internet speed for their benefit; or, what happens if you live in a remote area where there is access to only one ISP, such as Blairstown NJ?

Though the current situation may seem like all hope is lost, that is not the case. The fight for the internet is not over just because the FCC voted on it. The decision of 5 individuals cannot dictate our livelihood. You can still make a difference, call your congressman and demand they use the Congressional Review Act and preserve a free and open internet, accessible to all.

Visit to use the internet to save the internet.


Fast Fashion - Is It Worth It?

By: Alli Meehan

What does Forever 21 have in common with Peabody Energy Company, one of the leaders in coal production and distribution? They both cause pollution and environmental problems as a result of making a profit. “Newsweek magazine ranked Peabody Energy 493rd of 500 in their 2012 Green Rankings due to their environmental impacts of extracting burning coal, and for Peabody’s dismissive attitude toward environmental stewardship.” ( Forever 21 is one of the leaders in the fast fashion industry, and is responsible for the largest surge of cheaply made clothing in history.

Who Are the Culprits?
Fast fashion is defined as the industry where production processes are expedited in order to get new trends to the market as quickly and cheaply as possible. ( Large companies like H&M, Forever 21, Kohl’s, ZARA, Brandy Melville, Nike, and Urban Outfitters have found themselves under that title. They, among many others, contribute to the environmental crisis of our generation, the permission and implementation of sweatshops in foreign companies, and the swindling of an entire population of consumers.

The Neverending Cycle
It is no surprise that fashion is more popular than it has ever been, as trends come and go at lightning speed with the influence of social media. As consumers purchase new clothing, they get rid of things deemed “out of style.” That seems to be the obvious cause-and-effect relationship, but often overlooked is the implications of this attitude of spending. The typical consumer, disposing of an average of 81 pounds of textiles per year, does not recycle their old clothes or resell them, and instead throws them in their trash bin, eventually getting shipped to a landfill. While this not only increases the general pollution of the planet, it expedites the decay with harmful chemicals in the product’s fibres. For clothing to be made cheaply, efficiently, and sold quickly, corners are cut. Cotton takes longer to grow than a chemical and a synthetic fabric, and are cheaper when bought in bulk. Due to the fabric being inexpensive and made from less-than-perfect material, it does not last long in a consumer’s closet. It will rip, deform, and become useless in a short time. Then, as the consumer realizes their product is unable to be worn, they repurchase the same product at a low cost. Then, rinse and repeat this process until the customer has spent hundreds on a ten dollar shirt over the course of a few years.

What’s the Solution?
The obvious response to this is to buy better quality clothing. It would save the environment and the bank accounts of the innocent customer. The only reason that more people don’t buy nice quality clothing is because of the steep price that needs to be paid upfront. Spending $100 on a nice shirt hurts the soul of a person more than spending $10 on a low-quality shirt, even if they have to spend ten times more on ten terrible shirts in the long run. But the implications of this process are severe. There are now ten more low-quality shirts in the local dump, poisoning the ground with pollutants, rather than have a great-quality shirt that stays in the wardrobe for years, and is later passed on.

Final Words

Ultimately, this is not something many customers may be doing voluntarily. Some do not even realize they are doing it. Education is the best way to change this system. Customers should be aware of what they are purchasing, where it is from, and how long it will last with them. Then, they can make any decision they like. They can purchase low-quality clothing should they desire to. But now, they will understand what it takes to have that item.

from The Exchange Column: Brazilian Geography

By: Fred Amorim

When I agreed to write an article about Brazilian geography, I was lost and confused. I have always loved the subject, but the problem is that geography can include many different themes. It could be about territory, population, politics, cultural aspects, etc. I was stuck because there’s just so much that I could write about. Since I had a really difficult time choosing my theme, I decided to give you an introduction to everything I know about Brazil.

First of all, I suggested a geography article because ever since I arrived in the U.S., I noticed that a considerable amount of people lack knowledge about not just my country, but almost about every other one that is not the United States. I understand that many people here think that this is the best country in the world and I must say that I tend to agree with that statement. I understand that the majority of this country is very nationalist and, while I respect your patriotism, you cannot close your eyes to the rest of the world. The rest of the world matters! We all need to understand that the planet works as a machine called society, and if the the world collapses, the U.S. certainly would collapse with it, so you have to respect and learn about the rest of the world.

The way I first noticed that there was a lack of knowledge, specifically about my country, was by listening to the things that people said and asked about Brazil. I’ve heard things like “I thought Brazil was in Europe,” “You guys speak Spanish right?!” or “Do you guys have monkeys as pets?” These are just a few examples. Trust me, I don’t get mad at these questions at all. I actually love when people ask me about Brazil, but what really gets my attention is that a lot of people have no idea about its basic information. So without further ado, let me give you a quick introduction about my home country.
Brazil is a massive country located in South America. We have the 5th largest territory in the world and our economy is currently the 9th largest. Our population is huge, amassing around 200 million people.

Brazil is famed for its natural beauties, and trust me, it really is a beautiful place. Our beaches are gorgeous and our famous rainforests are full of incredible creatures and cultural aspects that stem from our few remaining native tribes. It is very important to say that even though we have the biggest rainforest on the planet, the country is not just about that. We also have gigantic cities. The most famous ones are São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro - but no, none of them are the capital. Our capital happens to be Brasília.

The country is divided into 5 drastically different regions: the North, where the Amazon Forest is located; the Northeast, where you can find our most amazing beaches; the Center West, where our capital is located; the South West, our most developed region, where São Paulo and Rio are located and also where I come from; and the South, the part of the county that we like to call Brazilian-Europe due to the European influence in the region’s culture, architecture, and history. These regions combined make up a large nation of 26 states and one federal district filled with rich culture and happiness, which makes us known as some of the happiest people in the world.

The entire country speaks Brazilian Portuguese - yes, it is different than Spanish - but nearly every single state and region has its own accents and words. Also, the culture changes a lot depending on the region that we’re talking about, but in general, the whole country is very proud of our soccer tradition, as our national team owns the most World Cup titles (5). We also love our very happy, colorful, and traditional holiday, the Carnaval, and our music styles; such as MPB (Brazilian Pop Music), Samba, and Bossa Nova. If you want to listen and discover the Brazilian musical universe, I totally recommend artists such as Legião Urbana, Seu Jorge and Gilberto Gil.

There’s just so much that I can tell you about Brazil that it is impossible for me to write everything down, so if you want to know anything about my country feel totally free to approach me at anytime. I really love talking about Brazil - and about anything really - and while I may seem quiet and shy, I enjoy talking to everyone very much.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit about Brazil just as much as I love discovering the United States.