Ron Clark Academy Model UN

Last week, I attended my third Model UN conference at Ron Clark Academy. I think that at least 5 different schools attended this conference making it the largest and most important conference that I attended in my 8th grade year. The difference between this conference and the others that I have attended is the fact that this conference was two days long, thus giving us more time to debate the topic and create an effective resolution. In this conference, I was taking on the role as the delegate from Kenya and I was debating the issue of Eradication of Poverty : Post-2015 Agenda in the General Assembly. I had to work harder to get my ideas out because I was not a country with a lot of power, but in the end, the resolution that I wrote was the only one that got close to being passed. I had to be very persuasive to get people to vote for my resolution as the vote was at an even tie, but in the end the opposing party got an unfriendly amendment added to my resolution, which basically combined all the previous resolutions in to mine. After the amendment was added and we voted on the updated resolution, it received a unanimous “nay” vote. I was a little frustrated that my original resolution did not get passed, but the chair, the leaders of the committee, told me that this was probably the most realistic representation of an actually UN conference. That made me laugh as we got absolutely nothing done in the two days that we have been debating this. This was my position paper that I wrote for this conference.

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Kenya

The goal to eradicate poverty has been on the agenda on the General Assembly since 1990. The goal was first established in the Millennium Development Goals, and it was achieved 5 years before the deadline of 2015. Although they have reached their goal, theydownload will not stop working to completely get rid of extreme poverty. The term extreme poverty is defined by people living on $1.25 or less a day. Currently, there are still 1.2 billion people living this way. As the trend continues and it is possible to  see more and more world leaders working towards changing for a better tomorrow, the expected goals for the post-2015 agenda hints at a better future, which is especially needed for Kenya, which currently logs 42% of its population below the poverty line.

The Millennium Development Goals for post-2015 were created to provide clarity of what needed to be accomplished for a series of objects set by the General Assembly. Some of these goals include eradicating extreme poverty, combating HIV and other fatal diseases, and reducing child mortality rates. The scary fact is that in Kenya the child mortality rate was logged at a shocking 64.72/1000 lives births, giving Kenya a shameful spot as the 38th worst country according to child mortality rates. Access to basic needs like clean water, education, and health care, which should be fixed in the Millennium Development Goals, are not being provided for everyone in Kenya. Even worse, the fact is that the Millennium Development Goal’s progress in Kenya is not reassuring at all. Kenya’s HIV prevalence is marked at 7.8% in 15-49 year olds compared to the US’s HIV prevalence, which comes in at a mere 0.6%. The MDGs  and its presence positively affecting the Kenyan lifestyle is not shown, as only 68% of the 44.4 million people living in Kenya have received immunization to previously cured diseases like measles and polio, diseases that children around the world are immunized from at a very young age.

Because of this, there have been large steps taken towards bettering the world as a whole and in specifics leaving no country behind. The High-Level Panel in the General Assembly was tasked with putting together the post-2015 agenda, and it was concluded that in the next fifteen years, they will have to take a more global approach. The main thought of this post-2015 agenda is “No one left behind.” They realized that, although billions of people have been brought out of poverty since 1990, the problem has still not been solved. Billions of people still live in extreme poverty and are not receiving help solely because they live in a third-world country. The panel said that no one could be denied universal human rights and opportunities because they are of a different ethnicity, race, or live in Africa not Europe. This has been a huge step taken towards ending poverty as a whole and the panel has even positively remarked, “…We could be the first generation to end world hunger.”

The key to resolving this issue lies in the basis of how the country was brought into poverty whether it be corrupt politicians, unequal distribution of economic benefits and necessities, or geography. Not all countries are the same, so poverty in Kenya could not be solved the same way as poverty found in China. There is a need to halt the progress of the MDG until all countries can be safely classified as above the poverty line. This would be implemented as a requirement by the UN to make sure that ALL countries are acknowledged and receive help rather than only important countries than can contribute financially to the globe. Third world countries like Kenya cannot fix this problem alone and require help from others that would be denied if they were not acknowledged with the same priority as a first world country like Germany or the United States. No country should be left behind in this quest to get rid of poverty. There needs to be official guidelines ensuring that a third world country would get the same help as a first world country like the US would get if it were in a similar situation.

 

 

From Factory Farm to Fork: The Journey and Geography of Bacon

Yet another AP Human Geography project… I did this one a little while ago, about a week or so, and it required a lot of research. I had to choose a food item and find out where it was grown and about everything it came into contact with.

Where and how is the breakfast item produced?

Our bacon is grown all around the world, but most of it is grown the Midwest or is imported from Canada and Denmark; these pigs are raised in large scale intensive farms where they are locked into small confinements for easy feeding and measuring.

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Bacon comes from the meat, mostly the pork belly in the United States, of the pig. Pigs are raised all around the world, in North America, Europe, and especially Asia, where China holds the most pigs in the world, by far. But most of OUR bacon comes from pigs in the Midwest, states like Iowa and Minnesota, and North Carolina. Pigs and cattle, unlike crops, are not heavily dependent on a specific climate, soil, or terrain to be raised effectively. If there is one thing that is in common between all the high pig-output areas, it would be a large flat area.

Most of the bacon we eat comes from large, industrialized factory farms, of which there are about 50,000 in the US. The actual, organizational structure of a pig farm varies from farm to farm, but a simple one would be organized as follows. There is the farmer owner, who usually has final say in a lot of manners and is the one making the most of the money from it; he or she may own many more farms as well. Then there is the farm manager which deals with the day to day operations of the farm and oversees the supervisors who are in charge of the workers and machines. There is also the board of directors which advises and helps the farm manager in more farm-wide events, and finally there is a legal department, which takes care of permits, human relations, salaries, etc.ImageGen (2).png

The labour on a pig farm is scarce. There is not a huge need for many farm hands, since most of it is just letting the pigs eat and sleep. There may be a couple workers who prepare the pig feed, a couple people to assist with slaughter and plenty of people to clean. There is not usually a need for a veterinarian, because they just kill the animals that get sick, or just let the injury or disease kill them off in isolation. These workers are not migrant, since there are not many seasonal tasks to do. Since there are always  pigs to feed, hogs to slaughter, and feces to clean, most employees are probably contract laborers. The technologies that would assist at a factory farm would most likely help with slaughtering, the messiest part of the process traditionally. The pigs are almost always housed inside a large building to protect them from the elements. But aside from that, not many machineries are used. There are, however, plenty of chemicals and antibiotics that go into the feed to keep the animals healthy and so that they gain weight quicker.

Why is the breakfast item produced in this region?

Pigs are produced heavily in the Midwest mainly because those places are large, flat, not too cold nor hot, and very close to their food, corn. They are also raised to quite an extent in North Carolina, probably because it is one of the oldest parts of the nation and just has a deep tradition in pig farming.

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Pigs were first brought to the Americas with Columbus in 1493, since then they have spread all across the continent and are in every country. At the time the pigs were raised much fatter and valued not just for their meat, but their lard, too. This is currently not the case. Pigs were farmed in the Mid-Atlantic states in the early days of the country, since the land has a climate between the Northeast and South, and that still applies to today where North Carolina is the 2nd largest producer in pigs in the US. On the move to the west, though, the settlers brought their animals with them. In the Midwest, more specifically Iowa, the climate and soil was just right for raising food for swine, and thus, the hogs followed. Although overall pig production in the United States dipped in the last decades, the Midwest is still a huge pig region. 0.5% of Iowa GDP comes from swine exports, that’s $723,000,000 dollars. That’s significant, but it’s definitely not the biggest agricultural produce produced in the region. In the United States, the pork trade is not nearly as important as other meats, and is actually decreasing in production.ImageGen.png

The United States exports almost 5 billion pounds of pork every year, despite decreasing production. This meat usually goes to Japan, about one-third of our exports, and also to Mexico, and Canada. In these countries, pork is used in a variety of ways; there are many traditional meals that use pork, sometimes as a substitute for other meats, especially in Japan. In the United States, where the average person eats about 50 pounds of pork annually, there are countless more dishes and ways pork is prepare for consumption, these may include some types of hot dogs, sandwiches, and barbeques.

Most  of the state policies that have to do with pig farming are regulations to better take care of the swine and how it is prepared. For example, nine states have banned the use of gestation crates to hold the hogs so they don’t run around (this is what I had been talking about in the first part). All of these hinder the production of pork and the industry as a whole.

How and where is the breakfast item processed and transported to market?

Hogs are slaughtered, cleaned, and packaged at many meat-packaging center around the pig farming land and then shipped out to restaurants, stores, and food plants around the country, or they are prepared to be shipped overseas.

Hogs are, like any other animal, fairly straightforward to slaughter, package, and ship. The hogs, after only six months at the factory farm, are shipped in trucks to the nearest slaughterhouse/meat-packaging place. Some of the biggest centers are in Dubuque, Iowa; South St. Paul, Minnesota; and Sioux City, Iowa. The pork meat, after butchering and packing, needs to be freezed for long distance travel, especially to another country. The shipping, however, is efficient, because the meat can be packed tightly together, unlike fragile vegetables. The meat is then unloaded at the market, most likely in the large town in the area, and then is furtherly transported to a store or meat shop. Pork is eaten all around the United States, so the biggest markets would have to be in regional capitals (more likely in the South and Midwest) such as Atlanta, or Dubuque (due to the prevalent meat packing operations).

How is the item advertised?

The advertising and marketing of pork seems to be focusing on its freshness and authenticity, along with its flavor.

The majority of the advertisements for pork I have found display an image of the animal, or the cooked food, on a plain white or pale colored background with some words stating how fresh, delicious, and old-fashioned their pork is. One in particular I found was an advertisement for a restaurant with the back-side of a pig and an arrow flying towards it with the words “Like Old Times.” in the corner. The target audience is probably more traditional, more rural people who are less likely to worry about their weight, or how the animal was treated. The physical packaging of the pork or bacon is not as extravagant. It always has a plastic cover to show you what the meat looks like, and that, in itself, is sort of marketing.

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Map of Commodity Chain

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Work (and Pictures) Cited

“2012 Census Highlights.” USDA. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/Highlights/Hog_ and_Pig_Farming/#production_costs>.

“Assim Assado Restaurant: “PORK” Print Ad by Y&R Sao Paulo.” Creative Advertising & Commercials Archive. Awarded Ads Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/assim-assado-restaurant-pork-15040905/>.

“Exploring Governance Structures for Your Farm Organisation.” The Pig Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.thepigsite.com/articles/4328/exploring-governance-structures-for-your-farm-organisation/>.

“Hog & Pig Farming in the US: Market Research Report.” Hog & Pig Farming in the US Market Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ibisworld.com/industry/default.aspx?indid=52>.

“Iowa Quick Facts.” – State Data Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.iowadatacenter.org/quickfacts>.

“Pork Production.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/printpork.html>.

“USDA ERS – Hogs & Pork: Trade.” USDA ERS – Hogs & Pork: Trade. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/animal-products/hogs-pork/trade.aspx>.

Snow Days

Winter Weather Georgia

The weather has been acting really crazy these past few weeks in northern Georgia. A huge ice storm descended from the north and caused temperatures here to drop considerably, so much so that it actually started snowing here. It almost never snows here. Back a few years ago it actually didn’t snow at all but recently snow has been getting more frequent in this area. For the past three years it has snowed once each year. This year the snow really messed with our school schedule. It was closed for a few days due to ice and problems starting up the buses, but it hadn’t even started snowing yet. The next week there were also days off due to cold temperatures, then the one day it did snow we actually had school. The next week after that it was to snow as well, and this time the school closed on both Wednesday before the snow and the snowy Thursday. That Friday was super chill, and not because it was cold.

Duolingo

Recently, I found this really cool app for my phone called Duolingo. If you’ve ever heard of Rosetta Stone, Duolingo is basically like that. It was designed to translate webpages into other languages, but then they realized that they could help people learn new languages at the same time. I stumbled across it while looking through the Google Play Store and I’m so glad I did. When I found it, I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose?

They provide many different languages including Dutch, Spanish, French, and German. I have always been interested in German, so that was my first pick. I wasn’t sure how this images (1)would teach me, so I was a little skeptical at first. I tried the first lesson and I loved it. The lessons were set up in an interactive and user friendly way, so it made it really easy to use and in turn, learn the topic. When completing a lesson, you have a certain amount of “hearts.” If you run out of “hearts,” then you have to start the lesson over. I thought this was a really cool feature, because when studying vocab or grammar on my own, I always make myself restart if I mess up. This ensures that I know what I’m trying to learn.

After practicing German for a while, I decided to maybe try another language. I remember downloadseeing a placement test option pop up when starting German, so I wanted to see where I stood in the case of speaking Spanish and I took the placement test. I was happy to see that I did very well on the placement test and I already knew a lot of what was in the lessons. I thought that Duolingo could be a very useful tool for studying in Spanish class. It really helps me stay up to date and maybe even get ahead in class.

Every so often, I test my skills by translating part of a web page into Spanish and seeing if I make any mistakes. I am in love with Duolingo and I’m so glad that I found it. I now try to make Duolingo part of my day, by strengthening my Spanish and learning a little German every day.

Weekly Update #1

Since I don’t really have a topic with enough to write about, and there were so many things happening this week, I decided to write about ALL THE THINGS! Let’s begin!

Handwriting

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A couple months ago I got into fountain pens and handwriting. And after a good time or practice, I definitely notice a huge improvement. Today I pulled out a notepad I purchased a while ago, with my handwriting, pre-practice. And it was AWFUL, so my “big improvement” is less so since my cursive before wasn’t even 1st grade level. Anyways, here it is! (Perfected for my driver’s license.)

Runes

IMG_20150301_122548As well as cursive, I’ve been writing in Scandinavian Runes! This particular runic alphabet is called Futhark (for the first letters of the alphabet F, U, TH, A, R, and K; like the ABCs). It’s not hard to write, except when you have to figure out how a word is spelled phonetically when there are many ways to pronounce it. Also Futhark does not have all the letters that the Latin Alphabet does, so, for example, the ‘‘ sound in hit is needed to be written with an ‘e’. Here’s a piece of paper filled with my runic writings. (You can click it to expand, and see it in more detail.)

Snow

IMG_20150224_070422These last two weeks have been strange. On the 16th we had a holiday (Presidents’ Day) and had school off. The 17th was a normal day, but the 18th was a half day at the high school. But on the 19th and 20th (Thursday and Friday) we had school off for snow! The next week we also had Thursday off for a snow day. So we have had a very small amount of school and a very large amount (for Georgia) of snow. It came down pretty hard the second time. This picture is of the first days off. It completely melted after that and THEN the second wave came.

Dumpster

Around a month ago, we rented a huge metal dumpster to throw away trash and things we don’t want. Every weekend we’ve been attacking different areas of the property. The first, we did the backyard, then the basement, then, storage room, and yesterday… the garage. We’ve cleaned ALOT, and the dumpster is completely full. Job done. (I hope. We might get another.) Sorry, no picture.

New Phone

IMG_20150301_103604And last but definitely not least, I got a new phone! It’s a Oneplus One and it… is… awesome. One of the coolest features it has is the new camera, which is grand. All the pictures above were taken with it. But here are a couple more (cute ones.) Again, click to view larger.

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