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The Trump campaign starts selling (expensive) plastic straws. Who’s buying them?

Steven Li



Though nothing Trump does is surprising these days, nobody could’ve ever anticipated he’d start selling plastic straws. After all, he’s already raised over $105 million for his reelection campaign — he’s in no shortage of money. Turns out, he’s poking fun at those on the left who are pushing for paper straws. The President makes his thoughts clear on his campaign website: “Liberal paper straws don’t work.”

Okay, fair enough. You might not like paper straws. Neither does Quartz reporter Corrine Purtill, clearly, who equates using a plastic straw to “transporting rice in a fishing net.” Regardless of what irks you about paper straws, whether it be that you don’t care about the environment, aren’t liberal, don’t like paper (?) — whatever it may be — why would you buy 10 plastic straws for $15 from Trump when you can buy hundreds of them for $5 basically anywhere else?

That begs the question: who’s buying Trump’s plastic straws? The comments section on his campaign manager’s tweet basically says it all.

One user, @pmbasse, reveals that she put three packs of the Trump straws in her online shopping cart, and that “all the cool kids are going to LOVE these straws!!” She also apparently owns the Trump-Pence 2020 red cups. Altogether, these items cost upwards of $50.

Another user (@Kukster88) seems to see tremendous value in the Trump straws too. He even says they’re a must-have!

And this one:

Apparently, user @nanof4knights ordered for the “kid’s.” I wonder how the “kid’s” are going to like them.

Though the comments section on Brad Parscale’s tweet isn’t representative of Trump supporters nationally, you have to admit it’s pretty entertaining. Actually, the fact that Trump even decided to sell plastic straws as a part of his campaign is pretty entertaining in and of itself.

Unfortunately, as LA moves away from plastic straws, its residents may not be able to enjoy the Trump-branded plastic straws. I guess that’s a shame.


A 13-year-old climate activist’s honest mistake lands her in handcuffs

Steven Li



As the discussion around climate change deepens, youth around the world are joining their adult counterparts in coming together to strike. In past protests, Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist and founder of Fridays for Future, sat in front of the Swedish parliament every day for three weeks. Others, including US-based Zero Hour, organize rallies and events to invigorate young people to join the fight.

But as we’ve seen time and time again, climate activism comes at its price. Arrests are common, as police arrested over 70 climate activists just earlier this year at the New York Times protest.

About a week ago, another arrest was made. This time, handcuffs were put around the hands of a seventh-grader, who was just 13-year-old.

Teenage climate activist arrested

She, along with other protestors, congregated at Seattle’s city hall to urge local action against climate change. At this point, another protestor handed her a can labeled “chalk,” which turned out to be spray paint. So this happened:

13-year-old climate activist spray paints "Strike For Our Futures" on wall neighboring Seattle City Hall. Photo: Seattle Police
13-year-old climate activist spray paints “Strike For Our Futures” on wall neighboring Seattle City Hall. Photo: Seattle Police

Realizing her mistake, she tried to clean up the paint. At this point, Seattle Police had already responded to a tip about the vandalism and handcuffed the 13-year-old climate activist.

350 Seattle tweeted a video of the interaction between the minor and Seattle Police.

After the interaction, police took her to the precinct let her go, presumably with a warning.

Altogether, it is an unfortunate scenario. Crosscut reporter Nikkita Oliver suggests if Seattle Police aided in cleanup efforts instead of jumping to an arrest, the scenario would have de-escalated quickly. Though vandalism shouldn’t be an excusable offense, it is productive to consider the incident was an honest mistake.

A cautionary tale for climate activists

Activist aren’t done urging governments to act against climate change, and that’s probably a good thing. But this incident should be a cautionary tale. Youth aren’t exempt from the dangers of the ecosystem around climate activism, and if the activism is to continue, this is a critical consideration.

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Are foreign oil imports from the Middle East even worth the trouble at this point?

Chris Kim



Just last month, an “unknown” entity bombed two Japanese oil tankers traveling towards the Strait of Hormuz in international waters. Evidence from subsequent investigations, as well as Iranian political motivations, strongly point towards the possibility of Iranian involvement. And just a week ago, Iran claimed a “violation of international regulations.” In turn, it seized a British-flagged oil tanker as well as a Liberian oil tanker registered under a British company. Considering that oil tankers ship a whopping 20% of the global oil demand through the Strait of Hormuz, it’s not looking good. This leads us to ask: are foreign oil imports, especially those from the Middle East, worth the trouble?

Former US Navy Officer Believes It’s Not Worth It

We needed an answer, so we talked to a former US Navy non-commissioned officer exclusively for The Rising. He was the perfect source, having been deployed to the Strait of Hormuz on the USS Dextrous. For the purpose of maintaining his safety, we’ve omitted his name.

Long story short, he says it’s not worth the trouble.

He evaluated the situation and consequently believed there was Iranian involvement. He first noted that the bombing was “definitely offensive mining.” So, it is absolutely clear that the bombings were carried out deliberately. Further, he noted that Iran was: “very sensitive about other nations going in or out of their waters, whether on accident or on purpose.”

Being the most likely known entity to use deliberate force, Iran is the likely perpetrator behind the bombings.

Additionally, he sees a connection between the bombings and Iran’s intentions. In his words, the bombings were aimed to “increase the insurance premiums on the oil tankers and cargo ships [operating] in that region, and that price would ultimately trickle down to consumers here in America.” And while Iran denies involvement in the bombings, he believes that “they were trying to do in this instance was to send a tacit message to the US letting us know that they’re unhappy with us.” That is, of course, without openly admitting an attack on a civilian vessel.

We Cannot Ignore Iranian Involvement in Oil Importation

Even more damningly, Washington released video footage of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGCN) speedboat, moving up to remove an unexploded mine, closely from the side of a cargo ship. He reasoned that “by removing the device, you’re getting rid of the evidence of the attempted attack.”

Consequently, the Iranian government’s claim of innocence in the context of the video evidence doesn’t do it any favors. It is starting to look like that Iran is willing to deliberately cause civilian casualties in pursuit of its interests.

Iran’s seizure of two British owned oil tankers last week further corroborates its willingness to use deliberate aggression. Iran has officially implied that last week’s seizure of the tankers was in retaliation against the recent British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker. The tanker, carrying oil destined for Syria, was in violation of multinational sanctions on war criminal Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

So what does Iran’s involvement in these incidents tell us? Simply speaking, they show that we are dealing with an entity that will go for broke in protecting its geopolitical interests. We cannot underestimate the potency of a state that plants bombs on civilian vessels and hijacks commercial vessels.

Oil Imports Enable Dangerous Behavior from Iran

At the same time, the United States’ importation of Middle Eastern oil enables Iran to continue its dangerous behavior in many ways. Most significantly, our reliance on Middle Eastern oil hurts the efficacy of Western sanctions against Iranian military aggression. The importance of the sanctions is undeniable: Iran enacted them to stem Iranian ballistic missile development, support terrorist groups, and fuel rogue governments like Hezbollah and Syrian Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

It is extremely concerning to see how vulnerable these sanctions are to Iranian military action. And given Iran’s strong resistance to the sanctions’ demands, it is highly likely that Iran would counter the sanctions with an obstruction of the Strait of Hormuz.

Could Domestically-Sourced Fossil Fuels Prevent Turmoil?

This leads us to consider potential fallback measures. As American dependence on foreign oil decreases, a shift towards domestic oil makes for a seemingly clever solution. But is it practical, and most importantly, would it work? Not according to a report compiled by the US Congressional Budget Office. According to the report, during the 2008 recession, Canadian oil prices spiked drastically, mirroring the global trend of oil prices. The market change helped Canada big time, despite it exporting twice as much oil as it imports.

What can we learn from this example? This example proves that “oil independence” is an extremely insufficient means of buffering out the effects of global market change. Even with complete independence from foreign oil, a spike in oil prices abroad would raise prices domestically.

In other words, domestically-sourced oil will not (entirely) protect us from turmoil caused by Iran.

We Need to Move Away From Fossil Fuels and Oil Imports

It is beyond doubt that our Middle Eastern oil supply line is too fragile to rely on in the long term. And for that matter, in the long term, we should pivot away from fossil fuel. But we’re a ways away from accomplishing that. By principle, we must strive to absolutely minimize foreign influence on something as vital as the national energy supply. We must pivot away from fossil fuel reliance.

The United States must pivot towards renewable energy sources to avoid turmoil.
The United States must pivot towards renewable energy sources to avoid turmoil.

What are our possible replacements? Remaining possibilities include renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, or more immediately, nuclear energy. And what’s the commonality between these alternatives? They’re all far more environmentally friendlier than fossil fuels. Turns out renewable energy sources are not only environmentally sustainable but also sustainable for the future economic well being of the United States and the rest of the free world.

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Miley Cyrus should stop flying private if she really wants to save the environment

Madeline Barone



When it comes to celebrities, few have been as passionate and vocal about climate change as Miley Cyrus. From expletive-filled speeches to not wanting kids until the climate crisis is resolved, Miley undoubtedly cares about the environment. But is she all talk?

Miley is Furious About the State of the Planet

Miley has previously stated that “we just take and take and expect [the planet] to keep producing…it’s exhausted. It can’t produce.” She also added that she doesn’t want to reproduce because she doesn’t think that the earth can handle it. On the other hand, her actions don’t seem to match her words. 

During her show at Denmark’s Tinderbox music festival, she also made comments on the current state of the Earth. She began her speech saying “the youth, this generation, we are the last f—ing hope on this dying f—cking planet. It is begging you to f—ing go clean up the motherf—ing ocean…there’s no planet B, so don’t f— it up!”

But how does flying private play into this all? That is, if Miley cares so much about the environment, why doesn’t she opt to fly commercial?

Private Jets Are Significant Emitters. Miley Cyrus is a Part of the Problem.

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg underscored the idea that flying emits significant amounts of carbon dioxide. To do so, she took a train to Davos instead of flying. In doing this, she indirectly pointed out the impact that celebrities have on the environment, considering they fly both often and private.

Flying is a known environmental polluter. One flight from the East Coast to the West Coast produces at least one metric ton of carbon dioxide. When this amount of carbon dioxide is produced for the travel of just one person, the environmental impact is much worse.  According to Arunima Malik, a researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia, “about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are from traveling,” with air travel contributing 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide to the Earth’s atmosphere annually.

Although flying, in general, is not environmentally friendly, the more individuals on the plane, the more energy-efficient. But Miley often travels on her private jet.

Emissions Estimates for Miley’s Private Flights

Though it’s unclear whether Miley still flies private, as she did in 2013-2014, her environmental impact when she did was huge. As it relates to her 2014 Bangerz Tour The Rising counted 30 legs where flights would be time-efficient for Miley. Based on this metric, she could have produced as much as 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide flying private.

To put it into perspective, individuals typically emit 5 tons of carbon dioxide in an entire year. By these statistics, Miley could have emitted as much as 6 times the average person in just eight months. 

Miley has mentioned that she believes that we need to treat the planet better, with the IPCC report highlighting the importance of slowing climate change. She told Elle that she would not have children until we resolve the climate issue. But at the same time, her environmental impact isn’t scot-free either. Hopefully, she has realized the environmental impact of flying private and has changed her traveling patterns. And altogether, celebrities need to at least consider stop flying private to save the environment.

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