Top Ten List

Syrian refugees in the U.S. fear backlash after Paris attack

Syrian refugees saw American people and governors who don’t want those refugees to stay in the United States anymore, and they cannot stop feeling disappointed at the country that has saved their lives. Here is a top-ten-list to get the basic information about this story.


Why Syrian refugees have to leave their country?

Syrian citizens have escaped from their country since a five year war had broken out. Because of this civil war, the country is divided into four groups, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, rebel group against al-Assad government, the Islamic State (ISIS) and Kurds. All of these four groups are trying to expand their territory.

“Bombs are just falling like rain,” said refugees who escaped from Damascus, the capital of Syria.  Because attacks take place in the areas where innocent people live,  the circumstance lead those people to displace their houses and seek somewhere they can live safely.


How have those refugees been treated in the world?/Which countries have accepted Syrian refugees?

Many European countries, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have accepted Syrian refugees in recent years. The admitted number of those people depends on each country. The state which has the highest number of refugees is Turkey, where almost half of the Syrian refugees are sheltered.

The other wealthy countries including the United States, Canada and Australia have also accepted the refugees resettlement.

In contrast, Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and  Bahrain have never agreed with refugees coming to their nations. Even though those in the countries share the language with Syria, they haven’t participated in the 1951 U.N. treaty on refugees, which is the agreement to provide asylum to refugees from all over the world.


Anti-Syrian refugees have appeared in America after harrowing attacks in Paris

Because of the U.S. governor’s statements that Syrian refugees are unwelcome in their states after the attacks in Paris, refugee’s agency workers and immigrants themselves have received death threat from people who are against the refugees.

Politicians’ comments about fear of refugees have induced people to lash out at Muslims or people from the Middle East.

Even though Obama declared that the United States would take in 10,000 Syrian refugees, who are identified by the United Nations, over the next fiscal year, 31 governors had talked that the acceptance of those refugees represents threats to their states and the background check wound not help keep ISIL agent out of their states.

However, the refugees just want to live in safe with their neighbors and never intend to attack people.

The Paris attacks created prejudice toward those refugees, and it makes more difficult for American to accept and assimilate the people who come over from the Middle East.


Reactions from every state: Who accept or refuse Syrian refugees?


Many governors in the United States have shown their attitude not to accept Syrian refugees in their states to keep the safety and security of their citizens, while some have mentioned that they would be welcome those people and others have not received any refugees yet.

Even though a Syrian passport, which was found near the one of the suicide bomb  attacker’s body in Paris, has not been authenticated, it created concern and anxiety about Muslims coming to the U.S. as refugees, because the attacker desired to be a member of ISIS.


How to officially come in the United States as a refugee

Refugee people who want to have citizenship in a country first apply for refugee status through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Those refugees have to have left their home land due to the followings:

“A well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social group affiliation or political opinion.”

If it’s proved that the refugee meets the above conditions, the UNHRC refers the applicant to a third country such as  United States.

After the application is processed by federally funded Resettlement Support Center,  the refugee takes the intensive screening process, including an interview, medical evaluation and an inter-agency security screening process to make sure the refugee does not have any intention to threaten the United States.

Usually all the process for the refugee application takes 18 to 24 months, but Syrian refugees can take longer time because of more strict security concern.


The campaign to end refugees inflow

President Obama decided to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees and place them in American communities, but a number of politicians are warning that because they concern terrorist enter the nation pretending refugees. The governors insist that it means their citizens are exposed by the danger of terrorism.


What is Syrian American Council?

Syrian American Council is the group which helps the Syrian American community to organize and advocate for a free, democratic and pluralistic Syria through American support.

This organization amplifies the voice of Syrian Americans and the current circumstance in Syria and asks to help and donate through media and campaign to promise the better lives to Syrian refugees.

“Until they can go back home, we are working to ensure that they are treated with dignity here in the United States.” – Syrian American Council

And they also want a member to join in the group.


Why have Mosques received threats?

After the attacks in Paris, a hate crime and threats toward mosques broke out in Florida and Canada. The Paris attack sparked Islamophobia and it appeared as the threats by phone call against the Muslim congregation in Florida and the crime by setting the fire to mosque in Canada.

Even though the Paris attack acted by terrorist, American people have grown their concerns toward innocent Muslim community in the United States.


What is Islamic Center of Claremont?

Islamic Center of Claremont serves the needs of Muslims in Pomona, Claremont and surrounding communities. ICC provides a religious and educational environment to grow their Muslim community.They host weekly lectures, family events, youth programs, Ramadan iftars and Qiyam prayers.

They have been supporting Syrian refugees as well so that those refugees settle in America. They aim at the level of encouragement from interfaith gatherings.


How can we enjoy Christmas shopping in Staten Island Mall without Santa Claus?

Staten Island Mall decided to cancel the annual Santa’s arrival event and a tree lighting ceremony for this year.

Last year


All of us never expected it would be canceled this year. The event including tree lighting and Santa parade just started in last year. The announcement of the cancellation made the mall’s shoppers disappointed and upset.

This year

The facebook page called “Boycott the Staten Island Mall” was created to protest the cancellation of the traditional event in the mall.

The founder of the group, Joe Demarco, wrote that the mall used to have a children’s train at the center of the mall with Santa, then it was moved near JC penny located at the end of the mall.

Even though some shoppers who joined the holiday event in last year were unhappy because of the several hours of programming which took place in the rain, many of Staten Islanders, especially parents who have little children, had still looked forward to taking their kids to the event this year because they wanted to see Santa Claus and take Christmas pictures there.

Some shoppers were shocked since they felt that Staten Island Mall took a tradition away from the Islanders. Therefore, many of them decided not to go for holiday shopping there.

Facebook page of Staten Island Mall

After the Mall heard the disappointed reactions from their shoppers, they decided to host a holiday celebration for the community, complete with Santa, a tree lighting and toy drive on December 4. And they also announced the annual Santa Parade will hold next year.

Did Staten Island Mall need to cancel the annual Santa Parade? – Obviously not.

As we can see, many users of the Mall were excited to attend the Santa Clause Parade, but now, after the cancellation of the event, they are swearing off the Staten Island Mall, which means the Mall is losing number of customers for the busiest holiday season in a year.

As a result of this, there were no crowds at the day of Black Friday at the Mall. This might be one of the outcomes of shopper’s reactions.

Of course, it is no problem that the children’s train with Santa had been shunted off near JC penny, because we can see them if we go there.

However, it does not make people excited about Christmas if the center of the mall is the wide empty space that it used to be.

People want to feel an atmosphere of Christmas and see some Christmas spirits inside the Mall, and then they would be able to enjoy the shopping during Christmas time.

Commercial facilities, including the Mall, cannot manage their business without customers, therefore, they really need to provide amusement to enjoy and celebrate seasonal events with their shoppers.

Taylor Swift – The Success Of Establishing Superstardom

August 30 in 2015, Taylor Swift’s new music video of ‘Wildest Dreams’ was finally unveiled during MTV Music Awards pre-show.

Swift acts a 1950’s movie star falling love with co-star Scott Eastwood. The inspiration for this video was from reading a book by Ava Gardner and Peter Evans, The Secret Conversations.

“since social media did not exist in the ’50s—it would be impossible for actors not to fall in love if they were isolated together in Africa, since there would be no one else to talk to,” GQ magazine reported her premise for the video.

Swift’s another music video ‘Blank Space’ from her fifth album titled ‘1989’ officially became the most-watched video on VEVO with more than 1.2 billion views, the company reported on October 20 via Twitter. This clip became the fastest video to get 1 billion views.

Even though just one year has passed since the album ‘1989’ was released, people have still paid attention to her.

“The character is so interesting, though,” Swift talked to NME. “If you go and read these gossip sites and describe how I am, [it’s] so opposite my actual life.”

Swift creates the character in the video to show a vindictive girl such as herself described in coverage.

She found the irony in this song about the girl who is insecure about her relationships and love, because it is totally like her in media.

“I knew some people would hear ‘Blank Space’ and say, ‘See, we were right about her.’ And that point, I just figure if you don’t get the joke, you don’t deserve to get the joke.” Swift talked GQ about how some of lyrics in ‘Blank Space’ are ironical.

“Half the people got the joke,” she says. “Half the people really think that I was really owning the act that I’m a psychopath, which is fine. Either one is fine as long as they know the semblance of the words, even if they’re incorrect.”

On October 13, Billboard reported that Swift won at the American Music Awards 2015 for six categories including artist of the year, and those winnings led her to the most nominated artist in AMA 2015.

Even though the song categories for this year looks competitive such as Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” face off, and other newcomers are nominated including  Sam Hunt, Walk the Moon and Fetty Wap, her first all-pop album ‘1989’ was the top selling album of 2014, and it remains in top ten in the album charts.

AMA nominees are based on the reflection of album and digital sales, radio airplay, streaming, social activity and touring tracked by Billboard and its data partners.

Taylor Swift, country pop singer song writer, was born in December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania and grew up in its Suburb Wyomisssing.

Swift’s interest in music began at the age of nine, and a country musician, Shania Twain, gave her a biggest influence on Swift’s liking to country music.

At that time, she used to work regularly at local events including fairs and talent contests and soon started to learn how to play guitar and write songs.

When she was eleven, she often visited Nashville, where is widely known as a Music City, with her homemade demo tapes and continued travelling back and forth for the next three years. Her family decided to move to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee with expectations of her music career.

Her song writing ability attracted the attention of SONY and ATV publishing. In addition, Scotto Borchetta, who launched Big Machine Records, found her genius when he saw her performance at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. She got a deal with Big Machine in 2005.

Swift’s self titled debut album, ‘Taylor Swift,’ was released in 2006, which accomplished Number one on Billboard’s country charts and Number five on pop charts.

Her second album, ‘Fearless,’ issued in 2008 included lots of hits such as “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” and it made her nominated four Country Music Association awards and American Music Awards in 2009.

At the time of her third album “Speak Now,” she entirely wrote the songs all by herself and it was sold over one million copies in the first week.

Her popularity was growing up with “Red” in 2012 and “1989” in 2014, and a pair of albums officially led her from country music into pop realm. Finally, she moved into stratosphere of superstardom at this point. The statistics of her albums’ sales shows the fact. The sales are steadily growing up.

She writes songs as if they are diary and represents her generation, which always attracts people over the border. She was very good at capturing the voice of teenagers especially in her early works. But now, her songs fascinate more people not only in the United States but throughout the world regardless of age.

Anime/Manga culture

Anime and Manga are ones of the most famous culture from Japan, and those cultures are spreading all over the world.

Anime is the abbreviation of “Animation.” Manga is a Japanese word meaning “comic book.”

As Vanesaa mentions in her blog, Anime and Manga is not the same. Manga is comic book, basically black and white, and some bonus pages and the jacket of the book are usually colored. Contexts of the story move from right to left, and  when you turn the page, the next line starts from the top of the page.

Around World War II, Anime and Manga industries significantly developed and many companies for artists and cartoonists are established.

Osamu Tezuka, called “Farther of Manga,” is regarded as a pioneer of the animation culture in Japan.

Astro Boy (called Tetsuwan Atomu in Japan) is one of his ultimate works, and he achieved success at winning fame in animation and establishing the culture in Japan.

Another famous anime producer is Hayao Miyazaki, who works for the famous animation film company, Studio Ghibli, since 1985. They have released  some popular films known over the border, such as Kiki’s Delivery Servise, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke.

Some Miyazaki’s works are based on stories from manga, which means the manga is the original work of his film. And then, he rearranges the story and creates his own world using animation. Therefore, Manga plays a very important role in producing Animation film even before Manga becomes popular like today.

Now, people’s value toward Animation and Manga has been more significant and passionate than before.

There is a fact that most Japanese people would agree with: Anime and Manga is no longer for children. It is not the same as American cartoons, which are only directed to children. Japanese teens and adults are enthusiastic for both Anime and Manga today. Most of adults always cry while reading a manga ONE PIECE, which is the most popular manga in Japan. Every one of ONE PIECE lovers rushes to bookstore when the new episode released. It may sound funny for people in the other country that most people in Japan are fascinated by a comic book about pirate and they are moved and shed tears by the story, regardless of men, women or their ages.

In my personal opinion as one of the Japanese people living in the United States, most American people who love Japanese culture always talk about Japanese Anime and Manga rather than Japanese pop musician or sports. And they enjoy to learn Japanese language through watching those stuffs.

Not all Anime and Manga are categorized in the same genre. If you want to learn Japanese languages, it can be a better way to study the language with watching Anime or reading Manga rather than reading thick study guide books because you would be able to learn not only the language but also the culture and the natural language use in real life.However, you should choose the genre carefully, vocabulary in some genres is more advanced. I chose noticeable six genres out of eight from this link. You will know how each one of them works depending on the level.

  1. Action:

A lot of characters movement, interjection, less dialogues and more shouting and battle cries. It’s a good way to learn onomatopoeic words in Japanese through Action manga, because Japanese people often tend to express some situation with onomatopia. (For example, when it’s pouring rain, Japanese people would express the situation saying “za-za-” uttering the sound of rain.)

  1. Comedy

If you want to have friends from the other country, it would be funny for them if you say jokes or puns in their language. Japanese anime classifies as comedy is known as verbose genre and characterized by clean jokes and dirty jokes. Clean jokes would be seen in the other genres and help improve your language skills. You also can remember the same words and expressions in different ways. However, it’s better not to use dirty joke when you are unsure if you use it correctly. It can be taboo especially when you are with the opposite gender or senior. And dirty jokes wouldn’t greatly help enhance your language ability. But if you could make friends who you and the friends really trust each other, it would be fun making some dirty jokes in Japanese.

  1. Drama/Tragedy

In Drama and Tragedy genre of amine, characters speak intensely and passionately. You can learn how to convey your feeling using the extreme way of speaking Japanese. However, the expressions are sometimes too much emphasis in real life.

  1. Psychological

The Psychological genre includes horror, philosophical and mystery as sub-genres. This area of anime is mostly related to the mind of each character. This category of anime sounds sort of difficult to understand because of the vocabulary. Difficult idioms and set-phrases are often used, so it is good way to expand the advanced vocabulary for the Japanese language learners who complete the basic level of the language.

  1. History

History may sound boring but it is also one of the advanced levels in anime genres. Thus it would lead to improvement of your ability to understand not only language but also the historical background and culture of Japan. And you would be more adaptable for the language.

  1. Romance

Generally this genre focuses on the character’s daily life, school, friendship and love in more comical way than serious. Because this genre is the closest to our real life comparing to the other ones, you must be able to learn the most natural language use and vocabulary. When you watch romantic anime series, you will find the easiness to understand the story itself and practice the expressions rearranging in your way in the real world. You can easily try to pretend the characters. This genre has most effect to develop your skills of the language.

Shooting rampage in Oregon

Umpqua Community College in Oregon had never experienced the deadly shooting rampage until a gunman opened fire on that day.

The massacre happened at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon on October 1st. The 26 year-old killer, Christopher Harper-Mercer, complained about not having a girlfriend and everyone around him being crazy in his manifesto for this deadly event. This tragedy left 10 dead, including the shooter, and 10 injured. The gunman committed suicide after a shootout with police.

“He seemed like he was excited about everything. He was happy” Tracy Heu, a student in the class and a survivor of the mass shooting, talked to CNN. “He was saying that he was going to join us and he specified one or two minutes, and that he’ll make it not painful at all. He’ll make it quick and easy.”

Heu’s body was covered in the blood from a student next to her who had been killed by a shot in the head, and she tried to pretend to be dead so that Harper-Mercer would not point the gun at her.

“He asked them ‘are you Christian?’ and then they said ‘yes’ and he said ‘good. I’ll send you to God. You’ll be visiting God pretty soon.’ and he shot them” Heu said. “The shooter asked if someone was Catholic and they said ‘yeah’ and he still shoot them.” He still continued to shoot the students regardless of their answers and started to shoot before even asking their religion, so he didn’t seem to target a specific religion.

Then, Harper-Mercer pointed to another student, Mathew Downing. “This is the moment I thought I was going to die” Downing said.

“You are the lucky one. I’m going to let you live. But I’m going to need you to tell the police everything that happened and give them this.” Harper-Mercer said. The shooter gave him an envelope with a flash drive and told him to stand at the corner.

“Other people think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I’m the sane one.” Harper-Mercer said in his grievance on the flash drive, and it also revealed his complaint about not having a girlfriend, the official said. Harper-Mercer’s mother told investigators he was struggling with some mental health issues.

His alias “lithium_love” on some social media sites shows that he was dealing with mental health issues. The drug Lithium is commonly used for treatment for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression.

According to Harper-Mercer’s neighbor, he spent most of his time indoors at his house and was shy and quiet. However, he loved to go to a shooting range with his mother. Even though he was withdrawn usually, he would be very excited to talk about guns.

“When we talked about guns and hunting, he was real open about it,” said neighbors in Torrance, California, where Harper-Mercer and his mother lived until moving to Oregon in 2013.

“10 to 20 percent of all homicides are committed by people with major mental illness” The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported. “For multiple victim homicide in public locations, it appears that at least half are committed by people with major mental illness.”

FBI studies found shootings with the highest number of fatalities is induced by the mentally ill people, and the laws fail to ban the sale of guns to them, and it leads to their deadly acts. The high number of shootings has occurred in states where the gun law is more lenient, which makes easier to get weapons for them.

The most important role in the journalism field

It is an unbelievable fact that the United States government keeps people under surveillance and has people’s privacy. And if we are journalists, we should convey the fact no matter how it takes a risk, like people in this film.

In 2013, Laura Poitras, who is a director of this documentary film, and Glem Greenwald who is a journalist working at The Gurdian received encrypted emails from an anonymous source who called himself Citizenfour. According to Citizenfour, the United States government secretly has a watch list of people, and people’s privacy is illegally invaded by the government. The government can link one piece of data to another piece of data, and then identify the person’s dairy routine or when he or she meets someone by comparing with the other information. Therefore, there is no longer freedom in the country, our private discussion and right to open speech is no longer protected.

After several communications with the emails, Poitras thought they need to contact each other in a securer way, so they decided to meet in a hotel room in Hong Kong. Citizenfour is a 29 year old man named Edward Snowden. They started filming their conversations as a documentary and reporting that the United States government hides the fact of invading people’s prvacy to the media. And in the end of the film, Greenwald mentioned 1.2 million people are on their watch list in the United States.

Snowden deeply understands how dangerous the government invades the people’s privacy. That is why he decided to be a whistle-blower. An American soldier, Chelsea Manning was another whistle-blower, who revealed classified information of the nation.

These people are very important to the field of journalism because what Snowden did taking his risk was to tell the truth to the nation. He knew that if he doesn’t take action, the truth would never be revealed and people would never know that fact.

Even though the fact that the government surveils people would not be changed and they still continue on it, conveying the truth is a very important role in the journalism field, and people like Snowden and Manning accomplished it by reporting to the media.

The meaning of “Human of New York” as a photojournalism

How wonderful if you have a job that you can talk with people from all over the world. “Humans of New York” has been working on this to deliver individuals’ life stories to us since 2010.

“Humans of New York” is a photo blog to introduce people living in New York with their portraits, which was started out by a photographer, Brandon Stanton in 2010. Anyone can read these articles on social media such as Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.

The world we live in sometimes looks very small and boring. However, if you read “Humans of New York,” your perspective, your sense of values and your world itself would be expanded.

All of the stories are based on personal experiences, some stories are very romantic and moving, but other stories are very sad and heartbreaking.

The reader would be able to feel like reading one of short stories in a book, but each one of them is not just a fictional tale, but it is what actually happened to a person.

Currently, the focus of “Humans of New York” jumped out from New York and shifted to Syrian crisis.

There are so many refugees and immigrants from Syria to European countries including Greece Islands and Austria.

Those journeys at the risk of their lives are totally different from New Yorkers’ heartwarming stories. Even though some people in New York would have experienced great hardship in their lives, the refugees’ stories are much worse than anyone’s.

There are so many people coming to New York from all over the world and dreaming of success. However, the choices given to the Syrian refugees are just only two, to displace from their houses or to be killed by army or terrorists. They have no choice to protect their lives in Syria.

Therefore, the only one hope the refugees have is just to survive.

“Humans of New York” has had a partnership with United Nations Refugee Agency to tell the personal stories of these displaced people.

This is one of ultimate goals of online photojournalism today, telling the truth that is actually happening to people in a part of the world right now, and documenting people who suffer from political crisis.

These non-fictional stories are delivered to the whole world via social media. It’s an easier way to convey the facts via Facebook or Instagram rather than reading books and newspaper today.

It is awful but necessary to know the reality that people living in the other side of world experience political war and struggle to survive in it, because we cannot actually see the fact with our eyes.

“Human in New York” plays one of very important roles in photojournalism. Each one of stories can expand individuals’ world and has an effects to make people think about the world crisis more deeply.

(All images except a picture of Brandon Stanton are from Facebook of Humans of New York.)