The Environment Politics The World Policy

Joe Manchin’s decision to block Biden’s climate bill is shortsighted and dangerous

Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, has made headlines over the past week for objecting to a key part of President Biden’s climate bill. According to NPR, the portion of the bill Manchin opposes would “financially reward utilities that transition to renewable energy and penalize those which do not.” This is a key aspect of the bill that would apparently cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat in the planet and warm it. 

Manchin, on the surface, is looking out for his constituents and saving the country money — in 2019, nearly 20,000 West Virginians were employed by the coal industry, and the state was surpassed only by Wyoming in coal production. In addition, Manchin has reportedly indicated he is trying to keep the country from spending money unnecessarily. The Guardian reported that “Manchin has called the bill’s spending ‘reckless’ and said it ‘makes no sense’ to pay utilities to increase their share of renewable energy when they are doing so already.”

But his decision to stand in the way of climate change reduction efforts, and the gradual retirement of coal production, is ultimately shortsighted as the detrimental impact of coal on the environment far outweighs any potential benefits in the short-term. Biden’s bill originally intended to slowly retire the coal industry, which impacts the environment in two major ways. In some states, including W.Va, mining involves detonating the tops of mountains, changing the landscape and often sending pollutants into streams and other waterways. In addition, burning coal results in emissions of harmful gases, including carbon dioxide. Some of the effects of these emissions include acid rain, a warming globe, and neurological or developmental damage brought about by the release of mercury and similar heavy metals.

Manchin’s refusal to get on board with the climate plan means that Biden doesn’t have all 50 Democratic senators on his side. The Senate is currently split evenly down the middle, with 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats or Independents who vote (caucus) with the Democratic agenda. The tie will then broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. If just one member of the Democratic caucus breaks ranks, the Democratic agenda is without sufficient votes, because it’s highly unlikely that in today’s Trump-driven Republican atmosphere any member of the GOP would vote with Democrats.

Manchin’s steadfast refusal to bend has far-reaching consequences, meaning that the bill’s climate agenda will need to be significantly altered or even watered down. The thing is, every decision we make (or don’t make) today impacts the world of the future. I’m not a scientist, and I can’t bend my imagination to understand just what the world will look like if we don’t make any changes. But others have used their science and imagination to figure this out for me, and the picture they paint isn’t just ugly, it’s downright terrifying. Scientists are warning that much of what the world experienced this summer — from raging wildfires and droughts to floods and hurricanes — could continue and even get worse if we don’t change the way we treat the world.

While Manchin’s spokespeople have said they are trying to save the U.S. government money, indicating many companies are already moving in the direction the bill intends and thus do not need to be incentivized, nearly every article on the subject points out W.Va’s reliance on the coal industry as well as Manchin’s own ties to it. The truth of the matter is, whether Manchin’s reasons are the ones stated (a desire to not spend money on companies allegedly already taking their own steps) or whether the rationale is more nefarious (the senator has made millions from a coal company and raised astronomical amounts of funds from members of the fossil fuel industry), it is ultimately foolish.

The research has all been done to prove that we need to change our actions in order to keep the planet from warming even more than it already has. Manchin’s refusal to think innovatively and problem-solve is in no one’s best interests but his own, and only for a short period. If the planet continues in its current direction, with climate disaster upon disaster, all the saved money and jobs in the world will be worth very little during a climate apocalypse. 


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USA Politics The World Policy

Here’s why your right to bear arms means nothing to me

Trigger Warnings: Gun violence, Death.

In the United States, the mass shooting crisis continues to increase at an alarming rate. While many of us believed the pandemic had put a pause on shootings, The New York Times reports “the shootings never stopped”, “they just weren’t as public.” In 2020, there were 600 mass shootings, compared to 417 in 2019. And, only four months into 2021, 157 mass shootings have occurred. This averages out to be more than one mass shooting a day.

The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator. The FBI defines mass murderers as people who have killed four or more people in a single incident at a single location. In 2017, the U.S comprised only 5% of the world’s population and yet experienced 31% of the world’s mass shootings. In addition, gun violence kills an estimated 30,000 people each year.

Mass shootings are not a new occurrence in the U.S. One of the first mass shootings was in 1949 when Howard Unruh murdered 13 people and wounded three more in what has become known as his 20-minute “Walk of Death.” In recent weeks, mass shootings have resulted in eight people (six Asian and Asian American women) killed in Atlanta, ten people killed in Boulder, and eight people (four Sikh people) killed in Indianapolis.

These hate crimes and targeted attacks against people of color aren’t a new occurrence either. In fact, how the U.S. continues to uphold white supremacy and bigotry has further fanned the flames of the mass shooting crisis. I would argue the roots of this crisis date back to the inception of the U.S. In 1524, a string of bloody clashes between the Pilgrims and the indigenous Wampanoag set the tone for how future Americans would handle “disputes.” To this day, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that came about after early English settlers killed thousands of Native people during King Philip’s War (1675-76).

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the U.S. continues to use violence and war as a solution. This has led the U.S. to prioritize its military—the U.S. is the top military spender in the world—over its people, creating a legacy of unchecked violence that continues with mass shootings.

As a country, we should never become desensitized to the loss of human life. This is a simple concept for many who have taken it upon themselves to protest women’s rights and legal abortion—but the same presence cannot be seen lining up to advocate for the children who have been brutally murdered by mass shooters in schools like Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and so many more. What’s even more frustrating is that many of the perpetrators of mass shootings are arrested peacefully, while Black and brown people of all ages are murdered by law enforcement every day for reasons flimsy in rationale but solid in systematic racism.

It’s also hard to watch other countries quickly mobilize to protect their citizens. Immediately after the Christchurch mosque massacre that killed 50 people in 2019, New Zealand voted unanimously to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons. In the ’90s, Australia cut the total of its gun deaths in half after implementing a buyback program that purchased and destroyed 600,000+ automatic and semiautomatic weapons.

In Canada, a 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia, which killed 22 people, led Prime Minister Trudeau to ban 1,500+ makes and models of military-style assault weapons. In addition, the federal government introduced “red flag” laws, established new firearm offenses, and encouraged municipalities to ban handguns through local bylaws. A buyback program is also in the works. Japan has strict laws for obtaining firearms, which include mandatory classes, passing a written test, and achieving at least 95% accuracy on a shooting-range assessment. Citizens also have to pass a background check and mental-health evaluation at a hospital.

The United States should have rushed to implement similar legislation after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people, or the 2016 Pulse massacre that killed 49 people, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32 people. Instead, the U.S. has chosen to cross its arms over its chest like a petulant child and double down on the Second Amendment. Many pro-gun advocates cite the Second Amendment, which outlines the people’s right to keep and bear arms, as reason enough to block any gun reform. Varying interpretations of the Second Amendment have been one of the major obstacles in passing new gun regulations.

In 2021, President Biden began to take a firmer stance on gun control by directing the Justice Department to stop the spread of ghost guns. He also urged Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pass “red flag” legislation, and support violence-intervention programs. It will be interesting to see whether Congress passes this legislation. But I’m not holding my breath.

Guns have become nuclear to American identity, and I’m tired of it. History is supposed to educate us on how society should evolve. Just because something has been a certain way for so long, doesn’t mean it should remain that way, especially when there are so many flaws in the system. U.S. government leaders need to be writing, pushing, and passing gun reform and bans—especially if they believe in truly serving the people of the United States.

People are dying. Is the right to bear arms more important to you than human life? I can already hear the responsible gun owners starting to speak, but we’ve all heard you speak ad nauseam, and I’m done.

If you’re really a responsible gun owner then surely, you’ll have realized that something has got to give at this point. Surely the responsible thing to do is remove guns from the equation—because nothing else we’ve done thus far has protected people.


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Editor's Picks Work Career Now + Beyond

Job hopping won’t ruin the careers of millennials. I’m proof of that.

Millennials are generally defined as people who were born between 1981 and 1996. They represent the largest, most scrutinized share of the labor force.

As a millennial myself, I’ve often found reporting of millennial work patterns to be quite negative and accusatory. The coverage mostly surrounds the idea that millennials are non-committal, entitled, averse to long hours of hard work, and generally more spontaneous than other generations when it comes to career choices.

It’s not just the daily grind anymore; it’s about cultivating a work-life balance.

The research, however, suggests that millennials are not, in fact, lazy or unproductive.

We just view the world differently and have had to adjust to the fast-paced changes around us in an adaptive and flexible way.

Millennials are also more likely to follow a career matrix path. The matrix or ‘web’ career path describes moving both vertically and horizontally in positions of work rather than the traditional ladder career path most commonly associated with baby boomers. 

But why are millennials, in particular, more likely to take this type of career path?

The first thing to note is the ever-changing, fast-paced evolution of the workplace. As jobs and industries adapt to technological advances, the type of work and skillsets required change constantly. For millennials, this means it isn’t enough to be good at just one thing. 

We have to be good at many things, at the same time, all the time. 

It has placed much more value on learning as a tool and measure of progression, compared to experience or time spent in a particular place. However, the latter is still required and expected for career progression in a particular place of work.  

What we’re seeing is a tug of war between the desire for longevity and stability versus freedom and the opportunity to chase your dreams.

What we’re seeing, then, is a tug of war between the desire for longevity and stability versus freedom and the opportunity to chase your dreams. Not to mention an erosion of the ‘one-size fits all’ model for career progression or ‘conveyor belt’ career path in which the progression can be linearly projected. 

It also stems from what millennials may actually desire from work.

Millennials are driven by passion and fulfillment in the workplace. They are highly educated and digitally skilled. They take pride in their work and want positive associations with their working environment and organization. We’ve been told from an early age that we can be anything we aspire, and work hard enough, to be. If you combine that with the lack of straightforward linear progression to positions of higher responsibility and seniority, then it’s no wonder that millennials have a reputation for job-hopping.

It’s not just the daily grind anymore, it’s about cultivating a work-life balance, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of belonging from the work we do.

Civic engagement and social responsibility are also two big factors in determining how millennials choose where and how they want to work. We’re interested in problem-solving for society as a whole, and see ourselves as much more connected – thanks to the internet – to the world around us. We are motivated and engaged by teamwork and team-orientated work.

Managers across all industries are having to adapt their policies and practices to attract and retain millennials. This is a workforce that wants to see their work making changes in real-time. They want feedback, not just on how they are doing but how to improve and get better, and ultimately to progress.

Millennials want feedback, not just on how they are doing but how to improve and get better, and ultimately to progress.

Furthermore, social media and personal branding have had a huge role in encouraging millennials to constantly seek out new opportunities. Building one’s personal brand as a career objective is a relatively new concept. Many millennials take part in slash careers – generating income simultaneously from more than one career – thereby building a professional profile that is both versatile and extensible.  

The majority of millennial writers, for example, have part or full-time careers in other areas of work, and have successfully turned side hobbies and interests into sources of income. This is also particularly common for bloggers and small business owners who use social media and e-commerce to transform their passion into revenue.

In a competitive job market, slash careering makes millennials much more attractive to employers. It demonstrates their capacity for varied work, discipline, creativity, time management, and the ability to take initiative and lead projects to completion.

I myself wear multiple hats. I work for an agritech start-up, I freelance write, and I work part-time on campaigns and causes I’m passionate about. This has given me a sense of fulfillment and work-life balance that I don’t think I would have been able to find in a single position or career. 

I believe it’s a sign of the times that we are moving more towards varied and less predictable career paths and journeys, and that makes it all the more exciting. 

So, instead of labeling millennials as unreliable with a lack of direction, shouldn’t we instead be celebrated for our fortitude and flexibility, and for paving the way to a more fulfilling and balanced approach to work? 


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The World Inequality

Best of The Tempest 2018: News and Social Justice

What a year 2018 was. This time last year, we were still reeling from all that had happened to us, wondering how anything could ever get better. But we entered 2018 with renewed vigor. Members of our very own Tempest team marched on behalf of women in the US and in Rome, and we campaigned for LGBTQ rights when we launched our Spirit Day campaign. We fought for immigrant rights while throwing the spotlight on environmental injustice, too. Moreover, we started holding each other (and our politicians) accountable to the greater good. And through it all, we remained steadfast in our vision for justice and equality for all.

The News and Social Justice sections also made a concerted effort to cover more international topics this year. To do this, we took a hard look at politics around the world; we analyzed the way WOC and minorities were disproportionately affected by the agendas of the wealthy and elite. We told the raw stories of immigrants and those living in the most dangerous parts of the world to be a woman. The conversations we had about mental health, sexual assault, and police brutality were also difficult, but necessary. Nonetheless, women and the LGBTQ community saw some serious gains in politics and around the world, giving us hope for a brighter 2019.

I’m so proud of the work that our incredible team of staff, fellows and contributing writers have put out this year. The News and Social Justice verticals have certainly benefitted from their passion.  Not to mention, the wonderful Dominique Stewart joined as Assistant Social Justice Editor this year and breathed fresh, new life to the vertical.

Dominique and I will continue to work hard to push the sections forward in the coming year, and we’re so excited to see what it holds. Here’s to more glass-ceiling smashing, determination, incredible activism in 2019.

Now, without further ado, here are the top picks of 2018 from the News and Social Justice sections at The Tempest.

1. Living in Portland in the age of Trump

Living in Portland in the age of Trump

Amidst an era of political uncertainty, Laura Muth gives us an in-depth look at what it looks like to live in the US right now. “To live in Portland right now is to engage in an endurance test of your capacity for cognitive dissonance,” writes Muth. Beautifully written, Muth portrays the strength and resistance of the queer and black communities in a way that ignites hope for the future of activism.

2. Meet the undocumented, detained women of an Arizona detention facility

Exclusive: Meet the undocumented, detained women of an Arizona detention facility

Shahrazad Encinias goes straight into the heart of an Arizona detention facility to interview undocumented women who’ve been there for almost two years. They’re being held without a clear picture of when they’ll be released: “I’m locked up. It’s the same as being in Guatemala,” says Rosa*. These women tell Encinias of the fear, discrimination, and violence they face on a daily basis. Harrowing and powerful, this piece by Encinias is a must-read.

3. This is what reality is really like for one woman in Pakistan’s red light district

Lahore-based Momina Naveed ventures into Pakistan’s red-light district to find out what daily life is like. She interviews Munni*, a single mother doing sex work as a form of survival. Munni works so that her daughter doesn’t have to: “I will go to great lengths to make sure my daughter doesn’t have to suffer at the hands of the same fate as mine,” she says. Naveed’s reporting is somber, earnest, and fresh. This piece might make you cry, but you will come away with a new perspective on sex work that we’re sure you’ve never read before.

4. What we lose when we take the European Union for granted

This is what we lose when we take the European Union for granted

In this piece, Katie Kaestner-Frenchman confronts the European Union in its entirety. With all its imperfections, flaws, and snafus, the Union is a “project in progress,” but an essential part of maintaining order in the world. Kaestner-Frenchman speaks frankly about what we lose when we begin to lose sight of what the European Union is supposed to stand for.

5. Judges don’t believe sexual assault survivors. So what happens next?

Judges don’t believe sexual assault survivors. So what happens next?

Of course, not everything we faced this year was rosy. Biased legislative procedures around the world make it incredibly difficult for women to report and obtain justice for sexual assault. The stigma attached to women who’ve experienced sexual assault and harassment compounds the issue. What happens when judges don’t believe survivors? Meg Leach gives us a powerful call to action: Vote. Them. Out.

6. Black lives will always matter more than your game, your flag, and your song

Black lives will always matter more than your game, your flag, and your song

Assistant Editor for Social Justice Dominique Stewart provides readers with a frank perspective on anthem-kneeling. A practice used by some athletes as a peaceful expression of political frustration, anthem-kneeling has nonetheless been sharply criticized by President Trump and American voters alike. Stewart sees this criticism as fundamentally misplaced – find out why in this honest and raw piece.

7. Studies show that Indian parents think that mental health issues are shameful. What next?

Studies show that Indian parents think that mental health issues are shameful. What next?

What does mental health in South Asian communities look like? It’s often difficult to say since there’s so much stigma surrounding its discussion. Mariyam Raza Haider combines her personal experiences with an expert interview to sketch out how Indian communities can foster more empathy towards one another. “A public health crisis like this demands a pivotal shift in the way our parents think and understand mental health,” writes Haider. While this piece focuses on the Indian community, this piece is nonetheless relatable to all.

  8. Art-activists Renee Lopez and Ameya Okamoto are breathing new life into social justice activism 

Art-activists Renee Lopez and Ameya Okamoto are breathing new life into social justice activism

Grace Wong explores the practice of “artivism” (art activism) in this fresh and inspiring piece. To do this, Wong interviews artivists Ameya Okamoto and Renee Lopez — women of color working in photography and digital media — to better understand how art communicates and sheds light on their life experiences. Through their art, Okamoto, and Lopez fight for inclusion, ally with Black Lives Matter, and push for greater intersectionality. Featuring original work graciously provided by the artists, this article underscores the power of art as a social justice medium.

9. After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”? 

After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”?

When we said that we entered 2018 with renewed vigor earlier, we meant it. Women of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and millennials made unprecedented gains in US politics this year, and we believe the government (and lives) will be better for it. These strides have made Sara Marshall feel empowered and ready to hit the ground running in 2019. The only question is – will you join us?  

Happy New Year! Our appetite for all things news and social justice at The Tempest will never slow down. Here’s to another year of determination, vigor, and activism!


*names were changed to protect the identity of individuals interviewed

Politics The World

You think Trump is bad? This man’s so much worse.

On March 4, the majority of Italians doomed the country. In the past year, Italy has witnessed a clash between a rising neo-fascist movement and the left, and you can take a guess as to how that turned out.

The centre-left coalition advocated for the former premier Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party and the longtime European parliamentarian Emma Bonino’s +Europe. Their programs included increasing minimum wage and help for the unemployed and the less wealthy. They also strongly advocated for a more integrated Europe and a plan for the integration of migrants.

The centre-right coalition’s major parties are Forza Italia and the (North) League. Forza Italia marks Silvio Berlusconi’s comeback to politics. You may have heard his name in the past, as he’s been ruling the country on and off for two decades. Italy’s very own Donald Trump, Berlusconi is a media mogul and entrepreneur who funded a party and won the elections in three months back in 1994. A known criminal for corruption and tax fraud, he was finally removed from politics in 2011, amidst a whirlwind of sex scandals (just to mention one, he would host orgy parties with minors). The only reason he’s not in jail is that at 81 he’s too old to be locked up. Berlusconi was literally banned from public office, yet somehow, he’s running again.

The North League dropped the North from its name and pretended not to be a secessionist party with very clear and vocal racist undertones (more like overtones) under the leadership of Matteo Salvini. Instead of focusing his hate on Southern Italy, like in the past 30 years, he directed it against the LGBT+ community as well as the migrants coming from third world countries. His last public declaration at a rally before the elections was literally about how Disney shouldn’t make Elsa a lesbian in Frozen 2. The League’s political agenda is to abolish civil unions (the closest thing we have to same-sex marriage, legalized in 2016 by the Democrats), exit the EU (Italexit?!), and stop the wave of immigrants. He proposed a “mass cleaning with strong methods” from the streets of Italy, which sounds dangerously similar to what Hitler and Mussolini did back in the day.

The sentiment shared by the entire right wing is that immigrants are the ultimate evil if they’re not white. Salvini wants to introduce border controls, since apparently he’s never looked at a map of Italy long enough to realize that the south, where the immigrants arrive, is surrounded by the sea -you can’t build a wall or stop the boats from coming. The guy obviously admires Trump a great deal. His political slogan literally says “Italians first.” But it might as well be “Make Italy Great Again.”

The third political party that dominated these elections is the anti-establishment: the populist Five Star Movement. The party was founded 8 years ago by Beppe Grillo, a comedian who figured that angrily calling every politician names would get him votes. They like to call themselves a transversal party, and they don’t have to act like they’re right or left wing: they’re their own wing, so people don’t have expectations when they come up with anti-immigrant sentiments, vaccine skepticism, European skepticism, and then change their mind a month later when the political climate shifts. Their candidate premiere is Luigi Di Maio, a 31-year-old man with no degree and little political experience.

Hate and fear won the elections, because the centre-left coalition gained only 22%, while the Five Star Movement crushed them with an unexpected 32%. The centre-right surpassed them with a 37%, of which 17% went to Lega. No decision has been taken yet as how the government will be formed since no party and no coalition holds the absolute majority. An unlikely alliance will have to be made unless Berlusconi can bribe more than 50 deputies and convince them to join his ranks (easy, he’s done it in the past).

It shocks me that Salvini and Di Maio, the most likely candidates for prime minister, didn’t even complete their undergraduate education, in a country like Italy, the cradle of knowledge, where culture is all we have left. They are prepared to lead the country in the name of hate, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. They come from a place of ignorance and draw on their electors’ ignorance in return.

Populism is exactly how fascism became a thing the first time around. But how could we let it happen again in an age where everyone has access to free education and information? How could we choose hate and lies over cooperation and transparency?

Here we go again, kids. Fascism is back. The Prime Minister may even ban Frozen 2 from cinemas when it comes out because, apparently, being exposed to LGBTQ+ representation is the reason why Italy’s population isn’t growing.

Here’s to biting our fingernails as we await the final decision.

Gender Inequality

It’s time for male politicians to get their heads on straight when it comes to birth control

Women have long used hormonal birth control methods for reasons other than birth control. Most hormonal contraceptives contain a combination of estrogen, the primary female sex hormone which develops and regulates our reproductive systems and secondary sex characteristics, and progestogen, another sex hormone that’s responsible for the production of ovaries and the placenta.

So when you recognize the fact that “birth control” methods are often used by women trying to conceive either immediately or at some point in the future, you have to reconsider whether anti-birth control policies really are about being “pro-life.”

Believe it or not, many women who have never had sex use birth control pills. In addition to inhibiting fertility, patches, pills, and rings are often used as a treatment for menstrual cramps, heavy periods, lack of periods, severe acne, and multiple reproductive and endocrine (hormonal) disorders. Here are some of the most common:

Here are some of the most common:

1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among women ages 18 to 44; it affects anywhere between 8-20% of them worldwide. Its definition isn’t exact and many women live undiagnosed, but there are an estimated 5 million individuals with PCOS in the U.S. alone. Those with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance that causes irregular menstruation, heavy periods, excessive body and facial hair, acne, and fertility issues. Hormonal birth control is often prescribed in order to fix hormone levels so as to alleviate these symptoms. PCOS can also result in mood disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and endometrial cancer.

2. Endometriosis 


Endometriosis affects roughly 6-10% of women, most commonly those in their 30s and 40s. Those affected have tissue that is supposed to grow inside of the uterus, instead grows outside of it, most commonly on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and around the ovaries and uterus. As a result, 70% of those with endometriosis experience extreme pain during their periods, while almost half also have chronic pelvic pain. Nearly half of those diagnosed with endometriosis are also diagnosed with infertility, although 25% never experience any symptoms whatsoever. Hormonal birth control will temporarily prevent periods and therefore improve those cramps and pelvic pain.

3. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)


PMS, the bane of many a woman’s existence, can get so severe in some women that only prescribed medication helps. PMS is characterized by mood swings, acne, bloating, breast soreness, and weight gain that make an appearance up to two weeks before your period. A doctor may prescribe birth control medication in order to improve these symptoms by balancing out hormone levels and preventing ovulation.

4. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)


Primary ovarian insufficiency, or premature ovarian failure (POF), is when a woman’s ovaries cease to function before she reaches the age of 40, as a result of low estrogen. Women with POI experience menopausal symptoms even more severely than older menopausal women, such as irregular menstruation, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability, inability to focus, decreased libido, and difficulty getting pregnant, Affecting approximately 1% of women, it can occur as a result of radiation or chemotherapy, autoimmune disorders, or genetic disorders such as Turner Syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome. Birth control hormones prescribed to those with POI work to regulate menstruation and maintain bone health.

Each one of these reproductive disorders also has psychological effects, and it is not unheard of for affected women to also be diagnosed with anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. In addition to treating these disorders, hormonal birth control also decreases your likelihood of anemia, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, or ovarian cysts.

When an employer, lawmaker, or insurance company tries to limit a woman’s access to birth control medication, they are not just interfering with a woman’s rights to her own body. They are also causing undue harm and hardship on women who are trying to have babies and women who are just trying to live their lives. This is not about just a woman’s right to choose. It’s about her right to live a healthy life.

And I do not for one second think that they are completely unaware of this. Women’s healthcare has a long history of being neglected and dismissed. Despite the number of women affected by the disorders that I have mentioned, lack of research has led to a relative dearth of information and, therefore, effective treatment. Women have simply never been a priority for the healthcare industry, nor have they been for lawmakers. However, the intense opposition to hormonal birth control tells me that, far from lack of concern, there’s a downright contempt for women’s health care.

Birth control is just their excuse.

Gender & Identity Life

If you are a Muslim in America, there’s no way you can’t be political

Look, politics is a heavy word. I get it.

There is so much stress, hostility, judgement, and investment in the politics. Understandably, people might feel nervous to jump into the world of political engagement.

Maybe you’re scared you won’t be able to contribute anything of worth. Maybe you crave the approval and esteem of everyone and are afraid to alienate anyone because of your beliefs. Maybe you feel you’re too busy. Maybe you think you need to ‘stay in your lane.’ Maybe you think nothing political really affects you.

But I need to tell you something. Being Muslim in America is political.

This question and subsequent discussion about the role of Muslims in the political arena is something I’ve been experiencing a lot lately. Reading and listening to discourse Muslim leaders today has often centered around one sentiment that our faith has been politicized, and that couldn’t be more true.

You might not be politically engaged, but if you’re Muslim, you cannot be nonpolitical, because your faith is politicized.  Something innate to your identity has become a consistent bureaucratic topic of discussion. Your religion gets depicted and debated all over television, newspapers, and overheard conversations.

I was born and raised in this nation, and I grew up seeing my religion be mispronounced and misrepresented in the media. I don’t remember my parents sitting me down and having a specific conversation about it, but I grew up knowing there was a significant number of people in this country who would hate me simply on the basis of my religion.

Almost every Muslim I know has had an experience with bullying, or some kind of hateful encounter. A stranger in New York City once abruptly approached me and called me a “sick jihadist.”

And this narrative only gets more common and more aggressive in today’s climate. An FBI report showed that hate crimes against Muslims climbed to 67% in 2015. In 2016, there was a rise in hate groups across the United States with anti-Muslim hate groups nearly tripling from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, three Muslim students in Chapel Hill were killed and their murders were frequently reported as a ‘parking dispute.’  In New York, in 2016, an Imam and his assistant were shot to death in broad daylight. A 60 year old Muslim woman who was the aunt of an NYPD officer was stabbed to death in September 2016. A Moroccan cab driver was shot and the jury acquitted the shooter of all charges. A bigoted women punched two Muslim women in the face while they were pushing their babies in strollers, and tried to rip off their hijabs (headscarves). A Muslim store owner was physically assaulted in his shop in Queens. A mosque in Victoria, Texas, was set on fire and while federal investigators ruled in arson, they said there was not evidence of a hate crime. A mosque in Davis, California, was vandalized. A Muslim woman’s shirt was set on fire in New York in September 2016.  Muslim students on university campuses are being targeted by racist and bigoted campaigns. The Huffington Post tracked 385 anti-Muslim acts in 2016.

Elected officials and political candidates throw Islam around in press conferences, speeches, and statements like it’s not a religion 20 percent of the world believes in and follows. Like Islam is nothing more than a political tool and problem.

They’re not even subtle about it, guys. Profiling. Surveillance. Immigration. Nobody’s pretending that these conversations and policies aren’t about us, however uninformed they are.

There’s no escaping it. Islam is politicized in America. It’s a fact. Unfortunate, but true.

So, considering all this, what do we do? Is there a right and wrong way to be active in our communities? Are we even obligated to get involved?

I don’t know the right answer.

For some, the answer is to keep their faith kind of hidden, and that’s fine. Everybody needs to take care of themselves and their safety first and foremost. Self-care looks different everybody and nobody else can impose their customs on anyone else. Everyone has different approaches to life.

But for everyone else who can’t hide their faith, or doesn’t want to, at the very least, understand your existence is now politically charged.

I can’t tell you what you do with that information.

Personally, yeah, I do think it’s our responsibility to be proactive in our communities. I don’t want to allow others to step on me and my beliefs, and my community, because they think we’re weak, quiet, and isolated. I think the answer is to get organized and to work with other communities, particularly other marginalized groups.

We need to build a network of fierce individuals who don’t just get together when something terrible has happened, but continue demanding, united, for the rights and representation they deserve the whole time.

It’s hard to know what to do sometimes, and I understand. Where do we start? We can support the institutions that are our advocates, like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Amnesty International.

We should at least recognize that acknowledgement of our politicized faith is not a commitment to a particular political party or a partisan candidate or cause. Involvement and engagement in the political and social arena are still forms of claiming agency over your narrative and your existence, no matter where on the spectrum you fall.

We don’t all have to be doing the same things. Not everyone has to be attending rallies and protests (though, I totally recommend it). You can get involved in your local governments. Run for office! Ask your neighbor what you can do to support them. Smile at somebody. Volunteer in community-based organizations.

I can’t dictate how you live your life – whether you call your politicians, support candidates, publicly advocate for your community, or educate yourself and others on important causes.

That choice is up to you.

Politics The World

Five indispensable tools to help you join the resistance movement

In the age of Trump, more and more Americans are aware of government and we want to stay vigilant. Civic engagement is a crucial part of being a citizen, but the halls of Congress can feel far away, and legislation can be impenetrable. It’s so important to be informed, and there are a number of valuable tools that can help you do that.

1. Find your representatives with

It’s ok if you don’t know who represents you yet (especially if you’ve never voted) and you are certainly not alone.  Now is the time to change that.  Check out Enter your address and zip code and you’ll get a list of all of your elected representatives.

Get to know these people and what they stand for, if you know how much good or bad work your reps are doing in your name, it’s a lot harder to skip an election.

2. Stay up to date with political updates and breakdowns with the Resistance Manual.

The Resistance Manual is a Wikipedia-style open resource that’s constantly being updated on policy issues both nationally and locally. If you don’t know what budget reconciliation is, or want to know what is being done to fight Trump’s immigration policies, you will find it here.

Bookmark it, make it your homepage and you will always be aware of what’s happening in the resistance. There is also an extensive list of background readings, organizations, and resources for everything from protest information to self-care for activists.

An example of a Resistance Manual page detailing Federal Government actions on the Muslim / Immigration Ban

3. Follow legislation with Countable.

While the official is a useful tool, it can be clunky and hard to use. That’s where countable comes in. You sign up with your zip code and opt into notifications when your representative votes on or sponsors legislation. Countable also features information on legislation and compiles arguments for or against bills provided by journalists, legislators, activists and countable users.

4. Find a place to volunteer your time with Volunteer Match.

You may have time to volunteer, but don’t know where your help is needed in your area. Volunteer match will match you with local opportunities based on your interests and location. Service to your community is a great way to remain involved and help in a way that is edifying and helps you connect with activists face to face.

5. Fight racism and police violence with Stay Woke.

Stay Woke is a project from the Movement for Black Lives that starts with a simple survey about your interests, abilities, and ideas for organizing in support of Black Lives. It allows organizers to reach out to respondents to get involved where and when they can and serves as a means of collecting new ideas about how to reach people with their message.

Politics The World

We can’t let Trump’s leaked tax returns distract us from what’s really going on

Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow released a leaked, but authenticated by the White House itself, two page portion of President Trump’s tax return from 2005. The tax returns were originally obtained by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist.

The returns, stamped with the words “Client Copy,” showed that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of over $150 million in 2005. Maddow indicated that more tax returns may also be obtained and released in the future.

The White house released the following statement: “You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago…Despite his substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.”

But will it? During his presidential campaign, Trump proposed cutting taxes such as the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) and reducing the current tax brackets to the following four: 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. The main beneficiaries of this tax reform plan would be the extremely wealthy.

Trump is also the only president to date who has refused to release his tax returns, claiming they are still under audit. Naturally, the opposition sees this refusal or delaying tactic as an admission of guilt of some kind or another.

Perhaps most importantly, concerns are growing over Trump’s ties with Russia, and the public, contrary to Trump’s claims, has wanted to and does want to see his tax returns.

While the White House has tried to emphasize that the documents were illegally obtained and released, it has also been speculated that Trump himself leaked the tax returns, perhaps specifically choosing 2005 in order to benefit his own image and decrease the public’s need to see further (more recent and more incriminating) tax returns.

At the end of the day, these released documents, while important, can’t distract us from Trump’s healthcare reforms which are underway. In fact, it should be noted that the two are connected; tax cuts for the rich are potentially being paid for by taking away health care from 20-something million Americans, and this is something worth being concerned about.

Policy Inequality

Here’s what you need to know about California becoming a sanctuary state

It looks like California might just become the first sanctuary state in the United States. SB 54, which was introduced in the Senate early December 2016 , includes provisions that would aptly categorize California as such, and immigrant groups are heavily pushing for its approval.

SB 54, also known as the “California Values Act,” would “prevent the use of state and local public resources to aid ICE agents in deportation actions.” This bill comes on the heels of President Trump’s fierce crackdown on immigration in the United States. Senator Kevin De León (D.) of California was the first to introduce the bill, along with fellow California Senator Richard Pan.

So, what’s this bill  do? 

Mercury News
  • California law enforcement officials (both statewide and local) cannot carry out deportations.
  • ICE would be prohibited from entering public areas such as schools, courthouses, and hospitals, and would require California agencies to update and uphold confidentiality policies. This is an effort to encourage undocumented people to seek out public services as needed in a non-threatening environment.
  • The state would take positive measures to protect undocumented immigrants from federal reach.
  • However, ICE would be able to carry out a deportation if they obtained a judicial warrant.

What’s this whole “sanctuary state” thing about?

California could become a sanctuary state

Chad Zuber on Shutterstock

Opponents of the bill have complained that it might make California a “de facto sanctuary state”. But will it? That depends on how you define a “sanctuary”.

By the mainstream definition, the California Values Act would, in fact, make California a sanctuary.  “Sanctuary cities” define themselves as places that limit the power of ICE in their jurisdictions by not cooperating with ICE officials. IF SB 54 passed, California would fit that description perfectly.

ICE would still have all the power of the federal government to terrorize undocumented immigrants. The state of California would not be able to put a stop on deportation raids carried out with a judicial warrant. And with widespread recent ICE raids, many concentrated in California, the very possibility of deportations is frightening to many undocumented immigrants still living in the state.

Also important to note: ANY immigrant can turn away ICE for lacking a judicial warrant. ICE does not have the right to carry out a deportation without one. The “warrant requirement” is not unique to this bill at all.

Do we like this bill or not? 


In sum – yes. SB 54 doesn’t completely shield undocumented folks from ICE, as a bill like that can’t possibly exist. It would be openly defying federal law if it did. However, this bill is a huge step in protecting immigrants and de-criminalizing their existence.

If passed, the California Values Act would indeed make California a “de facto sanctuary state”, by all accepted definitions. That is an enormous symbolic step, if not also a severe hindrance for ICE in the state with the largest population of undocumented immigrants in the US.

Great, okay. How is this  bill doing now?

It’s doing well. A state senate committee approved it on February 1st.  The political climate in California is looking good overall, with California lawmakers proposing bills with a similar pro-sanctuary sentiments. Let’s bide our time, and hope this thing passes.

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It’s time to look policy right in the face, and The Tempest is doing exactly that

At the close of 2016, many of us looked back on the year with a mixture of incredulity and sadness. We felt the deep reverberations of a changing political global landscape, riding the shockwaves through events like Brexit, an attempted Turkish coup, and the American election campaign. For many, politics took a dark and sudden turn the night Donald Trump was elected.

Donald Trump’s rise to power and ultimate capture of the White House was jolting for many. The rhetoric he used to incite support was divisive, destructive, and crass — but the sad truth is that he was merely capitalizing on the sentiments of his support base. He’s all of our childhood bullies personified: the ones who picked on us for our names, sexualities, clothes, lunches, appearances. Our bullies tried to make us feel small, alien.

[bctt tweet=”The Tempest is launching a new Policy vertical to kick off the new political era.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Donald Trump’s victory is an affirmation that those bullies don’t merely exist on the playground. And as of today, he was sworn in as 45th President of the United States of America.

That’s not something we’re going to take lightly.

We’re not here to participate in internet slacktivism — we’re here to assert our political presence. Which is why The Tempest is launching a new Policy vertical to kick off the dawn of a new political era.

We’re here to help people like you decipher laws and policies in ways that are easily digestible for everyone. In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge.

However, keeping up with politics requires time, energy, and (more often than not) an advanced dictionary/thesaurus. Truth is, many of us become discouraged with the seemingly daunting and clunky language of politics. Bills can be up to hundreds of pages long and full of legal jargon that’s difficult to break down. It’s all-too-easy to disengage from the endless bills that flow through the congressional labyrinth.

[bctt tweet=”We’re not here to participate in internet slacktivism .” username=”wearethetempest”]

This section is going disrupt that flow, take out the haphazard fluff and get straight to what matters. We’ll walk you through some of the hottest bills, what they aim to do, and whether or not they’ll disproportionately affect you.

Given that this is such a crucial time for politics, it’s extremely important that we understand the policies which govern us. Practicing active citizenship is the best favor we can do for ourselves, regardless of whoever’s in office.

And we’re here to shake things up.

Policy Inequality

This bill could strip low-income women from their right to choose

Today, we’re looking at H.R. 7, a bill to prohibit tax payer funded abortions and its effect on women’s healthcare nationwide. 

H.R. 7, known as the “No Taxpayer Funded Abortions Act,” was first introduced to the House in 2015, though under a different title.  It passed the House, but failed to pass in the Senate in 2015. It was on the docket for this week, even though the House had an abbreviated schedule with a retreat.  It is the only “non-suspension” vote for the House and has a higher likelihood of passing the Senate than it did in 2015.

This bill was introduced by New Jersey Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and has 57 co-sponsors, 56 of whom are Republican and 1 of whom is a Democrat (from Illinois). Smith was also the original sponsor of the 2015 version of this bill, which has identical language.

As of January 24th, H.R. 7 is on its way to the Senate after passing 238-183. Please call your Senator (see bottom of article) about this Act!

What’s the deal with this bill?

This bill, H.R. 7, is an Act that will make the Hyde Amendment permanent legislation. It also prevents any federal funds or federal employees to participate in abortion services. The exceptions are in cases of pregnancy caused by incest or rape, or “in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

What’s tricky about this clause is that Congress has to figure out how to enforce the proof of incest and rape. The 2015 battle over this bill failed because they attempted to require police reports in incidents of rape and incest, igniting outrage from several groups.

The Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976 and blocks use of Medicaid funds for abortions, with the same exemptions described above. It is passed every year as part of an appropriations bill.

How does taking away federal funding change things? 

This bill not only prevents federally funded healthcare providers from providing safe and affordable abortions to women, which the existing Hyde Amendment already does quite effectively, but it would also restrict small businesses and all employers who provide health plans “from getting an Affordable Care Act tax credit if they purchase employee health plans that include abortion coverage on the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchange,” according to Politico.

Think about how limiting insurance options affects women who rely on Medicaid and other federally funded programs for their healthcare. There are currently 15.6 million women on Medicaid, 1 in 5 of whom are of reproductive age and most of whom are women of color. This action disproportionately affects low-income non-white women who depend on support from federally funded programs to receive necessary healthcare.

If we take a step back, we can see that this Act is also a strategic measure for Congress. In their fight to take away funding for Planned Parenthood, which is included in part of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, they are looking for precedent. This Act will likely be used as a logical precursor to defunding Planned Parenthood completely.

Whoa. What do we make of all this? 

No. Nope. No thank you. We reject this kind of legislation, which makes legislators feel like they are solving some sort of abortion problem, when in fact they are jeopardizing the health and well-being of women who depend on federal programs for their reproductive healthcare, including all civil servants. Denying coverage of reproductive options, including abortion, does not mean women will not still seek it out as an option — it means that many women will not have access to safe procedures.

While it may seem innocuous to make the Hyde Amendment permanent, as it is passed every year as a part of an appropriations bill anyway, this Act is dangerous and threatens the most vulnerable among us. It is also much more than the Hyde Amendment – it would prevent women serving overseas who depend on military hospitals to have access to safe procedures and early access.

This is also a slippery slope and categorizes abortions as a non-healthcare issue for women. This idea directly opposes the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe vs. Wade. We just passed the 44th anniversary of this decision on January 22nd – and we are still fighting to uphold it in courts across the country and defending against Congress stepping in today. Roe vs. Wade “recognized that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion without interference from politicians.” So, why does it still feel like Congress is trying to criminalize it by distancing themselves from it as a healthcare issue?

This measure means safe abortions will be an option only for those who can afford them. It does not mean that fewer abortions will occur. Let’s help Congress get their facts straight and think about the women in this equation. And the law. Don’t let them step into this private marketplace or into difficult decisions best left to women and their healthcare providers.

President Obama said in 2015 that the federal government “should not be injecting itself into decisions best made between women, their families and their doctors.” That is a president who acknowledged the legality and rightful stance that abortions are part of a woman’s right to choose her own medical treatment in all cases.

So, what can you do to help? 

As always, call your representatives. Tell them how you feel, even if they are sponsors of this bill (mine are!). Call them and leave a message. They have to take note of how many people contact their offices about a particular matter. Don’t let them continue under the assumption that taking away federal funding for abortion providers some how fixes the problem of unwanted pregnancies. It worsens the situation for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable.

You can even ask your representatives to vote to repeal the Hyde Amendment! It’s the kind of thing that needs to go away. All women deserve access to affordable health care and reproductive care, including abortion.

Find your representative here and tell them you care!