博客: Social Issues

Will Russia compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics?  For years, the largest country in the world has run the largest ever state-sponsored doping program to push its Olympic athletes to win.  Investigations have begun to reveal the extent and now the International Olympic Committee may ban all Russian athletes from the games. 

Should the IOC ban all Russian athletes?  What’s so bad about doping?  Athletes enhance their performance with training, equipment, coaches, and nutrition.  Why not allow athletes to enhance their performance with drugs?  How do officials detect doping and enforce bans?  Is there an acceptable level of doping?  How long has Russia been researching performance enhancing drugs and doping their athletes?  And how can I trace the timeline of the scandal for my summer school research paper?

Students can find news information beyond a Google search in two places: Opposing Viewpoints and Student Resources in Context.  Opposing Viewpoints offers arguments on both sides of many issues such as performance enhancing drugs.  Student Resources in Context offers access to a wide array of sources – articles, podcasts, news broadcasts, videos, reference books, websites, and even academic journals.  As you search, remember good research strategies like trying a variety of key words in your search, narrowing by date or type of resource, and looking for relevant subject headings.

Clues to climate change, from the Environmental Protection Agency

 

Want to show what climate change is doing to the planet? Here you go! While one drought or bad wildfire season does not mean that the world is going up in flames, here are some websites from teachers and scientists that will get you started and help your report stand out.

 

 

 

Big 3 -- all about climate

Learn about climate

http://scied.ucar.edu/climate
Climate information from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This up-to-date educational site includes links to many stories about the climate.

Impacts of climate change

http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/impacts/index.html
See the Impacts of climate change at this page from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Effects of climate change from NASA

http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
NASA scientists describe consequences of climate change, including more droughts and heat waves, stronger hurricanes, and rising sea levels.


Did you know?
The world's oceans are warmer now than at any time in the last 50 years.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency  http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/impacts/index.html


3 more -- frequent questions

How hot is it getting?

Climate monitoring from the NOAA temperature monitoring site
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-monitoring/ , including worldwide data, as well as data from the United States.

Is the ice really melting?

Snow, ice and climate change from the National Snow and Ice Data Center
http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/climate-change.html

What about the endangered species?

Biodiversity as an Indicator of Global Climate Change, from Exploring the Environment from Wheeling Jesuit University.
http://ete.cet.edu/gcc/?/biodiversity_teacher_pages/
This page was designed for teachers, but has information and links about endangered species.

 


News Flash!

2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record.
Source: World Meteorological Organization https://www.wmo.int/media/content/wmo-2015-likely-be-warmest-record-2011-2015-warmest-five-year-period


You can also consult a database like Today’s Science. You will need your library card number and PIN to login from home. Click on the Topic Index at the top of the page, which contains a wide range of headings, or you can use the search bar. This database, from Facts on File, is for high school and older students. 

Remember, if you need help, you can ask a librarian online, or at your neighborhood library.

Retail outlets selling newly legal marijuana are enjoying brisk business.  Anyone over 21 can buy and use marijuana for recreational purposes, a loosening of the previous Oregon law that allowed marijuana as a treatment for certain medical conditions.  Of course, federally marijuana remains a schedule 1 controlled substance, the same class as heroin, meth, and cocaine, with potentially the same penalties for growing, possessing, and selling.  So consuming your sticky icky could still be tricky.  But as more states pass laws legalizing pot (currently four with legal retail marijuana and nineteen with medical marijuana) the federal laws may change.Kitschy image of man with a marijuana joint captioned "Marijuana!  At least it's not crack!" by  Juha Ristolainen on flickr

So if adults can, does that mean they should? The next challenge is examining the health effects of marijuana and communicating that to the public in a convincing way.  In September, 2015, on the eve of full retail sales, the Multnomah County Health Department released a report on public health and marijuana.  The ten-page report offers data on how many and what age people use marijuana right now, confirmed and potential effects of marijuana on adults and youth, and recommendations for further research and policy directions.   The extensive reference section will also offer you plenty of sources to consult for your debate or persuasive argument paper.

Also take a look at Librarian Cathy’s October 2014 blog post on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and Librarian Joanna’s June, 2015 post on deciphering the nitty gritty of Measure 91.

Sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity have been getting more attention in the news lately, with the Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage and Caitlyn Jenner's public transition.

Confused? Curious? Concerned? All of the above? The library is a great place to learn more. Teen Health and Wellness has informative articles and also offers teens the opportunity to submit your own stories and videos.  

If you're in or close to Portland, the services of the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center and TransActive Gender Center may be helpful.

No matter where you are, you can call, text, or chat YouthLine.

And the video below, LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities, is a good brief overview of these topics that includes stories from several youth.

Logo for the Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon database

Curious about censorship or banned books in Oregon?  Need to know what's been published in the local news?  The Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon: A News Database, may have what you need.  The database is the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse's news clipping files, and is updated twice a year. The database includes news articles and editorials about intellectual freedom issues printed in Oregon newspapers over the past 65 years. The database can be searched by article title, newspaper name, date, city/location, name of challenged book or material, and organizations or individuals involved. After you have found what you want to read, contact the coordinator of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse, Katie Anderson, 503-378-2528 to request a complete text of the articles or editorials.  And if you have any trouble, don't forget to Ask a Librarian!

In June 2013, the Supreme Court issued two rulings that quite possibly permanently changed the face of marriage in the United States: In one, the Justices struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), making same-sex spouses eligible for the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples, such as social security and – in the case of the plaintiff in this case – exemption from estate taxes. In the second ruling, the Court elected not to hear an appeal of a California lower-court decision striking down Proposition 8 – which prevented same-sex couples from marrying – as unconstitutional.

Because the Court struck down DOMA, plaintiffs in states where same-sex marriage is illegal can now argue that since the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages, so must the state.  Same-sex marriage advocates in many states – including Oregon – are moving forward with legal challenges.

More than one third of the states have already legalized gay marriage. In Oregon, gay marriage licenses were both approved and retracted in 2004. A 2013 poll shows 49% of Oregonians in favor of changing the constitution in support of same-sex marriage, and organizations are mobilizing to put a measure on the 2014 ballot.

Plaintiffs in Geiger v Kitzhaber (Wikimedia Commons)Edited to add [5/20/14].  Yesterday, Federal Judge Michael J. McShane struck down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage that resulted from the successful 2004 ballot measure (Measure 36) amending the state constitution to define marriage as a union of "one man and one woman." "Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest," McShane wrote in his decision, "the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The plaintiffs in the case, Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson Geiger, (pictured above) were the first couple to marry in Multnomah County following the decision. Nearly 100 other same-sex couples also obtained licenses from Multnomah County on May 19.

There are many issues, both pro and con, on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. Major religious groups have also taken a stand on both sides of the issue.  

No matter what, if legalization of same-sex marriage passes, the one thing it guarantees is to bring more money to the wedding industry, as evidenced in states where it already exists, like New York and Massachusetts.

When genetically-modified wheat was discovered in an Oregon field in the spring of 2013, the long-standing debate over genetically-modified foods intensified. How was Roundup Ready wheat created? And how did it end up in a field in Oregon, years after it was discontinued? What is the government’s role in regulating such technology?

Citizens and scientists have been debating the pros and cons of GMOs for years. Polls have shown the public is skeptical. Environmental and food safety organizations are concerned about the risks GMOs pose for humans and the planet. However, the companies engineering the crops, such as Monsanto, insist they are safe, as do some farming groups. A number of scientists take a middle ground, acknowledging the potential benefits of genetic engineering but criticizing the current use and regulation of GMOs. Some writers have even argued for an open-source” model of food genetics.

For an excellent overview on this issue, check out Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center in Context, which contains articles, statistics, audio files, and images. You’ll need to log in with your library card number and PIN to access this resource from outside the library.

Are you looking for some specific information not covered here? Contact a librarian for help.

Gun rights and gun control are on everyone’s mind, after the unfortunate shootings that took place last year. It’s often hard to find good resources that present multiple viewpoints on issues like this, and provide quotable sources.

An excellent electronic resource is Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center in Context. It provides links to articles, videos and audio files from multiple viewpoints (you will need a library card # and PIN in order to access this electronic resource from outside of the library).

The Washington Post created this quick timeline of gun control history in the United States, and LawBrain covers the legal history of gun control back to the U.S. Constitution. Another good listing is Infoplease’s Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation  which covers laws up until 2013.

L.A.R.G.O. Lawful and Responsible Gun Owners and the N.R.A. National Rifle Association both support gun ownership in America. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and The Violence Policy Center both work to reduce gun violence. The Violence Policy Center is also a good resource if you’re looking for statistics related to gun violence (including drive by shootings and suicide).

This Guardian article compares gun crime in individual states and About.com lists Oregon Gun Rights. FactCheck looks at statistics in the media after the Newton shootings, and reports on Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts.  Looking towards changes in the law, gun control is supported by more women than men, and that may have an effect on future legislation.

Need some specific gun facts or laws we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help

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