July 4, 2017

Germany’s Same-Sex Marriage, Black Cop Shot, London Acid Attack, Gender Neutral Driver’s Licenses, and Breathing Easy.

This past week, German lawmakers voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Chancellor Merkel voted against the measure, but stated that members of the conservative party should vote in line with their conscience – even if that meant going against party lines (see 1). In order for same-sex marriage to be legalized, it must also make it through Germany’s upper house, the Bundestrat. Same-sex marriage has previously passed through the Bundestrat, so it is expected to do so again!

Recently, a black off-duty cop was shot by a white cop who, according to reports, “apparently feared for his life” (see 2). The off-duty cop went to the scene of the crime to assist an anti-crime task force. At first, the off-duty cop was not recognized as a member of the force by the two officers on scene, but was soon recognized and told to approach the pair. As he complied with their wishes, the off-duty officer was shot in the arm by a cop who had just arrived. The attorney of the off-duty cop has questioned why the offending officer feared for his life – the investigation is ongoing. According to the Washington Post, the number of fatal shootings by police officers in 2017 is almost the same as the number of fatal shootings by officers at this time last year.

One recently passed Wednesday morning at 9:15am in East London, a white male, doused two Muslim cousins, Resham and Jameel, with acid. The cousins now have life-changing injuries (see 3). One of the cousins, Mr. Jameel Muhktar, has stated that he is “going to be scarred for life. [He] can’t walk properly. [He] can’t hear properly, [he] can’t sleep.” The media has received criticism for its pattern of failing to identify attacks against Muslims as ‘terrorism’, whereas attacks perpetrated by Muslims are quick to be deemed acts of terror. The British police have a suspect, but without proper condemnation of attacks against Muslims, it’s expected these events will continue to occur. 

In the midst of these tragedies, good news comes from our nation’s capital. On June 30th, in Washington, DC, Nic Sakurai became the recipient of the very first gender-neutral driver’s license in the country! Sakurai uses they/them pronouns and has stated, “It’s important to me because it’s knowing that as a District of Columbia resident, I’m valid and not erased … it’s one piece of a larger picture.”

Another win for equality is the fact that on the 29th of June, Ecosia, a search engine, announced that they had planted 10 million trees (see 5). Ecosia is a search engine with a twist. The more you search, the more trees are planted. This contributes to equality in a multitude of ways. Just one way is that planting trees contributes to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. When we reduce this carbon dioxide, we are reducing our contribution to climate change – a force that affects everyone to varying degrees and in diverse ways. By minimizing this threat, we’re paving the way for a future with cleaner air and oceans and fewer extreme weather events – both for others and for ourselves.


This Week's Weekly Round-Up Written By: Faith Lewis, LLS Contributor


(1) German Lawmakers Vote for Gay Marriage.






(2) Black Off-Duty Cop Shot by White Cop




(3) Acid Terror Attack





(4) Gender-Neutral Driving License



(5) Ecosia – Combating Deforestation



This Week's Weekly Round-Up Written By: Faith Lewis, LLS Contributor

Weekly Round-Up June 27, 2017

Pride Celebrations, Philando Castile’s Death, Flint Crimes, Supreme Court Rulings, and Making a Difference.

Pride is in full swing around the globe! Pride is such an important time. This time affords LGBTQ+ individuals the opportunity to gather – but the purpose of Pride differs for all. Shanghai Pride, for example, aims to “create awareness and promote acceptance for the LGBTQ community…”; San Francisco Pride aims to “resist regression, stand up against exclusion, demand equality, celebrate diversity” and “educate the world”; London Pride aims to “provide… a platform for every part of London’s LGBT+ community, […] to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues and campaign for the freedoms that will allow them to live their lives on a genuinely equal footing.” The significance of Pride to different groups and individuals is as diverse as the LGBTQ+ community itself. But regardless of where one is in the world, the common thread of Pride is – and always will be – love.

On a darker note, this month Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted. Yanez is the police officer that shot Philando Castile, an African American man, seven times. This occurred in front of Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond, and Diamond’s daughter. Mistakes of these enormous proportions continue to be made, again and again. According to the Washington Post, law enforcement is simply not being held accountable (see 3). The Washington Post investigated 54 police officers that were on duty when they fatally shot someone. Over half the fatal shootings involving the deaths of “unarmed suspects who had been shot in the back.”

In Flint, individuals in positions of power are being held responsible for the numerous deaths that have occurred due to their negligence. Five of the responsible parties (including one who allegedly said “everyone has to die of something”) are being charged with involuntary manslaughter (see 4). 12 people in Flint have died due to Legionnaires’ disease. A few days after you contract the disease, you may feel the beginnings of a headache, and a loss of appetite. If the disease progresses, you’ll contract pneumonia, and you may develop kidney problems (see 5). Attorney General Bill Schuette states that it’s an “outrageous” thought that “people would want to sweep this away”, and it is a similarly ridiculous idea that “there are nameless, faceless bureaucrats who caused this and no one responsible” (see 6). Part of the motivation to switch Flint’s water supply in 2014 was to save money. If Flint officials had simply used common anti-corrosion chemicals, originally, entire lives would not have been lost (see 4). Fortunately, investigations in Flint are still underway, and in March of 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency gave Michigan $100 million to help Flint’s water infrastructure (see 7).

Today, the Supreme Court lifted the stay as to a portion of the President’s Travel Ban. This bars entry of citizens of Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Syria into the United States if they “lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” (see 8). The Supreme Court will rule formally rule on the legality of the ban in fall.  In other Supreme Court action, certiorari was granted in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Because of his religious beliefs, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, refused to sell a wedding cake to David Mullins and Charlie Craig – fiancés.  (see 9).

When faced with inequality and injustice, it is not difficult to feel discouraged. But there are numerous simple ways in which we can contribute to causes that we care about. See (10) below to see how your everyday behaviours (such as walking and making general purchases) can help you contribute to causes of your choice!

This week’s Weekly Round-Up Written By:  Faith Lewis, LLS Contributor

(1) Pride around the globe!





(2) Philando Castile’s last moments:


 (3) Lack of accountability of law enforcement


(4) The People Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter


(5) Legionnaires’ disease


(6) Flint and Legionnaires’ disease


(7) EPA supporting water infrastructure in Flint


(8) Supreme Court Travel Ban


(9) Masterpiece Cake Shop


(10) Amazon Smile and Charity Miles!



This week’s Weekly Round-Up Written By:  Faith Lewis, LLS Contributor