Month: December 2012

Happy Holidays

Pictured Above: The Wingspan Staff decorates our publication room for the holiday season.

Photos: Navraj Karla

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays. The Wingspan will be on a online publication hiatus as we spend the holidays with our families and friends. Daily online publication will resume on January 2, 2013. See you next year!

Sugar Rush

Words: Amy Myers

Coke or Pepsi?

Soon this question will not be relevant on county-owned property due to the soda ban signed by Howard County executive, Ken Ulman. This means that at locations like Centennial Park or the Miller Branch Library, a water vender will replace the soda machine’s spot next to the sodium-and-fat-filled snack machine. While the motive may be to create a healthier Howard County, the efforts may seem slightly frivolous.

With the ban based solely on sugary drinks, the county seems to pick out soda as the culprit to poor nutritional habits. Instead, according to myfitnesspal.com, a 12 ounce Coke bottle with 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar can be traded for a Hostess Honey Bun with 410 calories and 28 grams of sugar. The total fat of a Honey Bun? 22 grams. These delectable treats are commonly found in vending machines, just like the sugary drinks being banned.

With these statistics, it is plain to the eye that sodas are being blamed for much more than a 12 ounce bottle can hold accountable for. Does that mean we should rid the county of the snack machines as well?

Sure, if the county is willing to replace Cheetos with carrots in vending machines.

The problem is that we are concerned more about the unhealthy snacks being provided, rather than the mental attitude that should be changed. Focusing on hiding the cookie jar from the public only helps until they find a different treat to satisfy their sweet-tooth. Instead, gym memberships could be endorsed by lowering prices, encouraging free seminars, and offering a vending machine with healthier choices available. Most importantly, the county needs to let the people choose their own dietary decisions.

It is not the job of the county to smack the back of our hands with a ruler each time we reach for a soda. It is fair to enlighten us with an alternate route that would lead us to a more wholesome lifestyle, but our rights are threatened when they limit even small choices like availability of soda machines. With a restriction like the soda ban, we limit the ability of people to choose healthy lifestyles for themselves. After all, what would you choose? Coke, Pepsi, or Dasani?

Too Soon to Talk – Responding to The Sandy Hook Tragedy

Words: Amy Myers

Online newspapers, print newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, every national media source shares the same headline of the most recent devastating shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary has broken the hearts of Americans shore to shore. And with sick stomachs and clenched fists, we cannot seem to escape the violence anywhere.

Already, national news stations question the possibility of harsher gun policies and how we should prevent these occurrences in the future. However, many viewers of the network may still be processing the tragedy, just as the families of lost lives are.

Without all the information available, and what is confirmed already broadcasted, we tend to jump to conclusions about the motive of the shooter, the laws that should be remade, and the changes in protection needed at schools nationally. While these topics are vital to the recovery of Sandy Hook and prevention of future tragedies, it may be too soon to conquer these tasks in regards to information and emotions.

“I don’t like that everything is being thrown out at once without a second thought. The media keeps changing the story this way and that because they don’t have the full story, and they are just saying what they first hear,” comments sophomore Alix Thielemann.

However, demonstrating the opposite behavior may not be the answer either. While revealing too much information may cause more damage than comfort, suppressing or ignoring the situation may be just as harmful. If we are completely blinded from the horrific incident, how can we help the ones involved?

Instead of either extreme, a middle ground needs to be provided. Skip all the gore and heart-wrenching details until we can recover from the most challenging information stated–the 20 children snatched from the world, and the six brave adults who stopped the number from climbing. As tempting as the latest details may be, theories and conclusions of evidence often change as time proceeds.

And maybe time is all we need. Time to process, to grieve, to recover, and to provide the shoulder needed for the families of Sandy Hook.

Is The President’s Speech on the Connecticut Shooting the Beginning of Real Change?

Words: Charles Regnante

President Barack Obama emotionally addressed the people of Newtown, Connecticut at an interfaith vigil on Sunday. After assuaging victims’ families in classrooms at Newtown High School, the president said he would do everything in his power to “engage” a dialogue with Americans, including increasing law enforcement and mental health professionals, because “we can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.”

The president was not specific about what he thought would be necessary and did not even use the word “gun” in his remarks, but his speech was broadly perceived as a prelude to a call for more limits and restrictions on the availability of firearms. The president later asked whether the country as a whole could ask itself whether it was doing everything it could to meet its obligations in protecting all children. “This job of protecting kids and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, with the help of a community, and the help of a nation.”

The president took the first minutes of his speech to recite scripture and remember those lost when alleged shooter, Adam Lanza broke into the elementary school with a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns, opening fire before committing suicide. After the president cited the names of the faculty members who died in the attack, he gave a few words of sympathy. “They responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances; with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care,” he said.

The president said on Friday it was time for “meaningful action” to prevent such tragedies, “regardless of the politics.” This is a slight but noticeable shift for Obama, who has not actively pursued stricter gun control during his four years in office despite pledges to do so during his 2008 candidacy. But with so many young victims, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists emerged over the weekend suggesting now was the time to push gun control.

Ravens Lose Third Straight Game

Words: Kyle Simpson

Disappointment, shame, frustration. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the Ravens third straight loss, this time to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Mistake after mistake left fans stunned as the Ravens struggled through most of the game, getting shut out going into halftime 17-0. The offense was dead (it took two quarters to get a first down), the banged-up defense played fairly well considering they were up against one of the greatest quarterbacks to walk the Earth with their five best tacklers injured. But the Ravens fired Cam Cameron! Their problems were supposed to be over on offense! So why did the offense still perform extremely poorly (to put it mildly)?

What yesterday proved is that Cameron was not the entire (although he was a major part of) the problem. Joe Flacco let down the team this time, though most fans would argue that he is the reason the Ravens have lost three straight. I would argue that the blame needs to be partially shifted away from Flacco and to the offensive line. They have had problems last few years but especially atrocious the last few games. Flacco has little to no time in the pocket to get the ball out before the other team’s defense is in his face. The counter to that is Flacco needs to get the ball out to his receivers quicker and Jim Caldwell needs to change the place to compensate for the weak line, forcing Flacco to make shorter but quicker passes as opposed to longer plays that force him to spend time trying to sling the ball down the field while the offensive line collapses in front of him. As much as you can blame the offensive line for the offense woes, I will give the Flacco-haters merit and admit that Flacco needs to get it together. My message to him is that if he wants $100 million, he has to play like he deserves it. Quarterbacks that get paid that kind of money do not throw stupid picks that give away seven points like he did yesterday. He does not play consistently, he cannot read the defense, and he just does not make smart choices.

Flacco is due to get his contract re-negotiated this year, which leaves the Ravens with a choice. To get rid of or not to get rid of number 5? If you get rid of Flacco, you have a chance to pick up Matt Flynn from Seattle, who was a very productive back-up to Aaron Rodgers at one point, or Alex Smith from San Francisco, who has also proven himself not to be a push over. Those options are not guaranteed however, and I would not bet on either of those guys to end up wearing purple and black next year. You could trade him from a high pick to teams like Kansas City or Arizona to try and get somebody in the draft, but then you risk the guy you pick up being a bust. The third, and I feel most likely scenario is that the Ravens resign Flacco for one last shot to prove himself to not be Kyle Boller round two. It is hard to imagine, but Flacco is too good to let go, he has taken us to the playoffs 5 straight years now and, although inconsistent at times, he has proven that he can play at an elite level. The off-season will be very interesting this year for general manager Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and Steve Bisciotti as they discuss the quarterback’s fate.

On a more positive note, despite that terrible loss on Sunday, the Ravens have clinched a playoff berth with Pittsburgh’s loss to the Cowboys in overtime. Although many are saying that the Ravens don’t deserve to utter the “P-Word”, it is a bright spot in an otherwise gray day of football. The Ravens are currently gearing up to take on Manning’s brother, Eli, next Sunday at 4:15. If the Ravens pull out a win, they clinch the AFC North for the second straight year. This will be the fourth week in a row they have had the opportunity to clinch.