Archive for March, 2011

Weekly Reflection, 3/25

What was the most interesting thing you learned from your studies this week?
The most interesting thing I learned this week is how the worsening conditions during the Great Depression caused the government to become more involved in the health and weath of the people.

How might you apply something you learned this week to your life today?
I learned that the Great Depression has had lasting effects on how Americans view themselves and their government.

What would you like to learn more about? Why might you research more on your own?

I’d like to learn more about the social and psychological effects of the Great Depression because I think that would be interesting to research.

Write one detailed question about something you have studied this week that you would like an answer to:

In what ways did the Great Depression affect people’s outlook on American life?


Virginia Tech fined $55,000 over 2007 shooting

Officers rush to the crime scene after a gunman shot dozens of people at Viriginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007 in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The U.S. government has fined Virginia Tech University $55,000 for not promptly warning students of a shooter on the loose at the start of the 2007 massacre that occured on campus, killing 32 people. A December 2010 report says that the school did not notify students as soon as possible, which is required by the Clercy Act, after a shooting that left 2 students dead at West Ambler Johnston residence hall on the morning of April 16, 2007. The shooter, identified as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui returned to the same hall more than two hours later and killed 30 more people before pulling the trigger on himself. The Clercy Act was established in 1990 after 19-year-old Jeanne Ann Clery was raped and murdered while asleep in her dorn at Lehigh University. The law requires all universities to disclose information about crimes on or near their campuses, however the $55,000 for two violations of the act is the maximum allowed, says Federal officials. “Because Virginia Tech failed to notify its students and staff of the initial shootings on a timely basis, thousands continued to travel on campus, without warning,” the education department wrote in a letter announcing the fine. “Had an appropriate timely warning been sent earlier to the campus community, more individuals could have acted on the information and made decisions about their own safety.” According to officials, the school waited two hours and fifteen minutes before issuing a vague warning about the shooting, after students had already left for morning classes, meaning there were a number of students still on campus before Cho began his second rampage. It has been reported that Virginia Tech will repeal.

Japan faces radiation during nuclear power plant battle

On Tuesday, an unpredicted series of dangerous explosions in the reactors at three of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants were triggered by last Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami, causing rising fear of levels in radiation that could dramatically affect human health, Japanese officials have said. The crisis with Japan’s reactors began on Friday, when the magnitude- 9.0 quake cut power to the plants.

"The damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant sends a column of smoke over the town of Okuma in the Futaba District of Fukushima following an explosion that injured 11 workers." --DIGITAL GLOBE, AFP/GETTY IMAGES @

Soon after the rumble, the tsunami took out the plants’ backup generators, which were being used to power the cooling systems for the reactor cores. In one reactor at the Fukishima Dai-ichi plant, nuclear fuel rods were exposed when they were dangerously drained of cooling water. In the other two reactors, the roofs of the surrounding buildings have been blown off due to sudden explosions caused by hydrogen build-up in the outer buildings that surround the reactor. As radiation levels near the plants rise and officials struggle to tame reactors, people are being thouroughly checked for radiation exposure and contamination. “Radiation levels around Fukushima for one hour’s exposure rose to eight times the legal limit for exposure in one year,” said the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. So far Japan has evacuated nearly 200,000 people from the areas near the plants, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has distributed more than 230,000 units of iodine to evacuation centers as a precaution. Iodine is a substance that can counteract radiation’s effects on the thyroid. Cautious steps are currently being taken to successfuly cool the reactor without any furthur incidents. Nuclear engineer John Gilligan of North Carolina State University believes that the reactors should cool in the next few weeks, and that engineers will continue to have to vent small amounts of radioactive gas from the reactors for the next few months to keep the pressure off.

Women of the First World War ~ Right Click, Open in New Tab

What I already know…

World War I spurred many social changes in the United States, especially for women. For the first time, women moved into new jobs that had been held exclusively by men. Many became railroad workers, cooks, dockworkers, bricklayers, coal miners, and some even took part in shipbuilding. Meanwhile, women also continued to fill their traditional jobs as nurses, clerks, and teachers. Many women worked as volunteers, serving at Red Cross facilities and working to encourage the sale of bonds and the planting of victory gardens in support of the war. Although women were not allowed to enlist in the army and were denied army rank, pay and benefits, they helped their country by joining the Army Corps of Nurses. Even better, some 13,000 women were accepted to noncombat positions in the navy and marines, where they served as secretaries and telephone operators with full military rank. There were many women who made their mark during World War I.

1. Nursing– Many young women and girls became nurses during World War I. When the United States joined the war in April of 1917, the U.S. navy had a total of only 160 nurses on duty. As the war progressed, the number of women nurses increased more than 8 times that number as the Nurse Corps worked to meet the war’s increasing demands. Many young women from a wide range of employment backgrounds, including cooks, domestic servants, and laundry workers, found volunteer job opporunities by joining the Voluntary Aid Detatchment (VAD) and First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). Although their medical training was basic, they worked actively in war zones, helping wounded soldiers and giving them necessary medical treatment. The duties of the women in the FANY were much more difficult than those of VAD women. During the First World War, the FANY ran field hospitals, drove ambulances, and set up soup kitches for soldiers. Organizations such as the Red Cross, Patriotic League, YWCA, and many others, also made efforts in supporting wartime hardships by organizing women to aid in relief work. These women worked in dangerous conditions, but that didn’t stop them from helping their country.

2. Factory Workers–Some of the most important work done by women during World War I was in ammunition factories, since the majority of men were away fighting for their country. Working in these factories was very dangerous, especially because it involved working with explosive chemicals, and many women working in these areas lacked the proper training and skill that the previous men workers had aquired over many years. Women also worked as powerful machine operators and in naval station machine shops as well. There were many gaps that were filled by women in the workforce, however the majority of them worked in the machinery, supply, and public works departments. In an effort to supply more skilled women workers into factories and other demanding businesses, schools for training in upholstering, trimming, and a variety of other operative skills were set up by the government.

3. The Women’s Land Army–With so many men away fighting, many people feared that there would be no one to bring in the harvests and keep the farms running. When the government decided that more women would have to become more involved in producing food and goods to support the war effort overseas, the Women’s Land Army acquired an important role. Many men who normally worked on the farms never returned from the war, and those that did return, came home disabled and physically unable to restore their duties on the farm. One woman in the Women’s Land Army said that, “Their feet were never dry even in dry weather – simply because they had to work early in the morning and the dew on the grass would enter the boots through the lace holes.” Women played a huge role in food production and agricultural labor during the First World War.

Research Reflection–

During my research, I’ve realized that without so many womens’ strength and courage during the war effort, there’s a great chance that World War I probably wouldv’e been much different for the United States. Not only did women finally earn the respect they deserved in their country, but they also proved to a longtime male-dominant society that women are capable of so much more than just housework and raising children. Women were just as, if not more important than an important part in the war effort, and World War I definitely sparked a turning point in the lives of many women.


An estimated 1 million dead sardine fish clog marina near Los Angeles

An estimated one million dead and rotting fish washed up on Tuesday in a Southern California marina, creating what U.S. officials fear a terrible pollution and public health hazard. The deceased fish completely covered the surface of the King Harbor Marina, located in Redono Beach, near Los Angeles. Authorities say the carcasses piled as high as 18 inches upon the marina floor, enough to impress and shock locals at King Harbor, which shelters about 1,400 boats. Andrew Hughan, a California Fish and Game spokesman that was at the scene, says that “all indications are it’s a naturally occurring event.” It is assumed that the fish had sought shelter from rough seas and soon exhausted the water’s oxygen supply. Recent research from a Los Angeles Conservation Corporation at Redondo reveals that testing of some of the water showed oxygen levels near zero. The water samples clearly did not present any oils or chemicals that could have caused this sudden wave of death among the fish. A simple explanation for this is that the fish most likely couldn’t find their way out of the marina and got lost. While pelicans and other sea life enjoy the plentiful and generous supply of food, the local fire department as well as the Harbor Patrol are working on scooping up fish in nets and buckets, where they will be taken to a landfill specializing in organic material. City officials estimated the cleanup will cost close to $100,000.

The Black Hand ~ Right Click, Open in New Tab

What I already know…

In June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, visited the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, where he and his wife were unexpectedly shot by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip while driving through the crowded city. Princip was a member of the Black Hand, an organization promoting Serbian nationalism. The assissinations touched off a diplomatic crisis, one of the leading causes of World War I.

1. Who were the Black Hand? In May 1911, ten men in Serbia formed Ujedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death), also known as the Black Hand Secret Society, led by a man named Dragutin Dimitrijevic. The main goal of the Black Hand was the creation, by means of violence, of a “Greater Serbia.” It’s ultimate aim was “to realize the national ideal, the unification of all Serbs.” The organization used terrorist action as opposed to cultural activities, therefore, it was strictly meant to remain a secret. By 1914, the group included more than 2,500 members. It was mainly made up of junior army officers, but didn’t exclude lawyers, journalists, and university professors, who also joined the Black Hand.

2. What were major actions taken by the Black Hand in attempt to achieve a “Great Serbia”? The Black Hand held influence over almost all government appointment and policy. The Serbian government was fairly well informed of the group’s activities. The Black Hand was extremely displeased with Prime minister Nikola Pasic, believing that he did not act agressively enough towards the Pan-Serb cause. Political murder soon became the society’s number one tactic when standing up and saying no to the Black Hand was no longer an option. It wasn’t long before the Black Hand decided that Archduke Franz Ferdinand should be assassinated. Dimitrijevic grew concerned about the heir to the Austrian throne, fearing that Ferdinand’s plans to grant concessions to the Southern Slavs would make an independent Serbian state almost impossible to achieve. When Dimitrijevic caught wind that the Duke was planning to visit Sarajevo in June of 1914, he sent three senior members of the Black Hand from Serbia to assassinate him and his wife. The honors were done by a man named Gavrilo Princip.

3. How did the Black Hand play a role in the start of the First World War? The assassinations touched off a diplomatic crisis. After being interrogated by the Austrian authorities, the three men from Serbia were found guilty of organizing the plot. On July 25, 1914 the Austro-Hungarian government demanded that the Serbian government arrest the men and send them to face trial in Vienna. However, prime minister of Serbia, Nikola Pasic informed the government that handing over the three men would be a violation of Serbia’s constitution. Three days later on July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war against what was expected to be a short war against Serbia. The alliance system began to pull one nation after another into the conflict, and soon enough along with Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, and Great Britain found themselves in the beginning of a Great War.

Research Reflection:

I enjoyed learning about the Black Hand because it played a large role in sparking the First World War, along with other causes such as nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and the formation of alliance systems.

Weekly Reflection 3/8

What was the most interesting thing you learned from your studies this week?
The most interesting thing I learned this week is how World War I spurred social, political, and economic change in the United States.

How might you apply something you learned this week to your life today?
I learned that during World War I, the United States military evolved into the powerful fighting force that it remainds today.

What would you like to learn more about? Why might you research more on your own?

I’d like to learn more about how such changes increased government powers and expanded economic opportunites at home during the Great War.

Write one detailed question about something you have studied this week that you would like an answer to:

Who were the Black Hand, what led to them being created, and how did they play a role in the start of the first world war?