Deadly Poem Threatens Obama

By: Lauren Turner


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP/The Loop) — A Kentucky man who acknowledged threatening President Barack Obama in a poem has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

Johnny Logan Spencer apologized for writing the poem, which described a fatal sniper shooting of the president.

The 28-year-old said in federal court in Louisville on Monday that he was upset over his mother’s death and had fallen in with a white supremacist group that had helped him kick a drug habit.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. called Spencer’s writing of the poem an extremely dangerous thing. Spencer will be on supervised release for three years after he completes the 33-month sentence.

The poem, titled “The Sniper,” was posted on a website in 2007 and again in 2009 after Obama took office.

Truth, Love, and Harry Potter

Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon that has captured the hearts of children and adults alike. Its influence will resound in the art, music, and literature that is produced by fans because of the great love inspired by this series.

By: Lauren Turner


Chattanooga, TN(UTC/The Loop)-Do you believe in magic? That is a question that this famous book series has asked everyone that reads it. But not in an overt, trying to make small children turn to the occult, sort of way. Many have accused J. K. Rowling of that very thing, of course my guess is that none of those people have cracked one page of Harry Potter.

The beauty of Harry Potter is that it integrates the fight between good and evil, one of the most basic story lines, into a coming of age tale that preaches the wonders of love, forgiveness, and even delves into the mysteries of teenage hormones. All of this while remaining both hilarious and terrifying. People that read Harry Potter are shown that the world is a wonderful place full of amazing opportunities, but it is also dark and at times evil.

Harry Potter surfaced on the list of banned books for many schools and stores, and some churches have taken it upon themselves to have book burnings. One pastor in New Mexico, who admitted that he had not read the series stated, “Behind that innocent face is the power of satanic darkness,” he said. “Harry Potter is the devil and he is destroying people.”

Fans at the midnight premier in downtown Chattanooga.

At InfoPlease they agree that the series has been demonized, “Ever since becoming popular, the Harry Potter series has been among the most frequently challenged books, as measured by the American Library Association. While the series has been welcomed by many parents and teachers for getting children interested in reading, not to mention being a good story, others feel that the series presents dangerous ideas and attitudes that are bad for readers.”

Emily Openshaw, a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, had this to say about Harry Potter. “Harry Potter means the world to me, I grew up with him and as I’ve grown he has grown. So basically Harry Potter is my childhood. And growing up with it and seeing it develop into what it is today has been wonderful. . . and magical.”

And the generation that is in college right now really is the Potter generation. We grew up with the series year by year. And aging along with the characters gave a very unique point of view to some readers, showing them that it doesn’t matter how old you are because you can do great things at any age.

One of the most unique aspects of Harry Potter is what it inspires its readers to do. There have been hundreds of children and adults who have started bands in a genre called Wizard Wrock, and these people would normally never have had the guts or opportunity to perform their music in front of live audiences and sell in on the internet. Fanfiction is also a huge hobby of many Potter fans, where they can rewrite the books or start their own stories completely with Potter characters. Not to mention all the people it has turned on to reading. Some who have never been interested in books before are now great readers all because of Harry Potter.

Looking back the author has much to say about the world. J. K. Rowling writes about loss, poverty, depression, and other hardships because she has lived through them. The series is not a patch of daisies, anyone who has read about dementors (soul-sucking and scabbed creatures that feed on fear) or Umbridge (a teacher who punishes children by having them cut words into their own hands) could attest to that.

Chris Garmon, a UTC junior, affirmed that Harry Potter is a great thing for kids to have in their lives. “Harry Potter was a fantastical childhood escape, and is still an inspirational phenomenon.”

The magic of Harry Potter comes with the power of love, truth, and friendship winning over all else. This theme repeats itself throughout the series, showing its readers that fighting for good is always most important in life.

Fred Weasley and a Slytherin hanging out at the Chattanooga Majestic.

And that is why so many have been drawn into the world that Rowling spent so much time creating, because we want a hero. We want there to be someone that has to sacrifice and also have the power for mercy and love. We generally want to be that hero, and reading Harry Potter opens up that possibility.

Potter fans have created an entire world out there where they can interact with each other on the internet through various popular sites like Mugglenet, The Leaky Cauldron, and The Harry Potter Lexicon.  Fans can also get together at  conventions to discuss the books and at the movie premiers where everyone gets to show their colors to the world.

Another UTC junior Kara Livingston shows great respect for Harry Potter. “Harry Potter was what kept me going when I was younger. It inspired me, it engulfed my imagination and it became a part of me. When I felt like I had nothing, I had Harry Potter. As crazy as it sounds I aspired to be like each character; intelligent like Hermione, loyal like Ron, and brave like Harry. They helped to make me the person I am today and I know that no matter how old I am, I will always have Harry Potter.”

Now the series is over, we have reached the stop on this wonderful journey. We have seen Harry discover magic and the wizarding world, Hermione outsmart even the most intelligent of adults, and Ron has made us laugh in desperate situations and found his own strengths. These characters and so many more are the role models we should all want for this generation and generations to come. Children who learn to find themselves through helping others and truly being brave and self-sacrificing.

As fans go to watch Part One of The Deathly Hallows, there is an excitement and also a certain amount of sadness. This is almost the end of Harry Potter in the mainstream after a lifetime of love for these characters. But there will always be people who love the series and want to discuss the literary importance, not to mention the societal importance, of these books that leaped boundaries and brought tears to readers eyes.


© 2000–2010 Pearson Education


© 2006 Warner Bros. Ent.

© 2000 – 2010  The Harry Potter Lexicon

Travel Bug: Study Abroad

By: Lauren Turner

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Travel Abroad is seen as some distant dream in a ivy league students mind, but just by making a phone call you could be on your way to a distant country to further your education.

CHATTANOOGA, TENN (AP/The Loop)- I’m guessing UTC is home to plenty of students that have been in Chattanooga for a while and it’s become boring. UTC is a great school, but when you have the travel bug staying in one place for too long can wear on you.

A great way for students to get out there and travel while still getting a degree is study abroad. It is a relatively affordable, extremely safe way to stay for a prolonged period of time in another country. UTC has a few programs they use for students, check out this link to get the full information on study travel.

One of the programs UTC uses is the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad. This site is very helpful and interesting, with their main job being to, “annually develops, plans and coordinates study abroad programs in Australia, Belize, Canada, England, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, South Africa and other English-speaking areas.” And with so many places to go you can’t be disappointed with what they offer. And the requirements aren’t that stiff, “All undergraduate and graduate students in good standing are eligible to participate for academic credit in any CCSA program.”

One reason many students never study abroad is the parent factor. Moms and dads are worried that their little kids will be set loose around a strange country to be kidnapped by drug lords, which could happen, if you don’t follow safety rules. CCSA has a special site to help potential travelers prepare themselves for life abroad so it’s a good idea to go over safety protocols on the safety and security page.

And the good news is UTC will work with you too use your scholarships for this program, meaning you will be able to cut the price of the program with Hope and any other scholarship you may have.

Another program UTC uses is the Council on International Education Exchange, a group that strives, “to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world”. This group not only sets up study opportunities around the world, they also find jobs and training openings.

Kara Livingston, a UTC junior who went to Spain over the summer, had nothing but good to say of UTC’s study abroad program. Hugh Prevost directs UTC’s International Programs, National Student Exchange Program, and Cooperative Education Program. He is a very helpful advisor when it comes to figuring out what you want to do and what you can do. With so many possibilities for travel, it can be very overwhelming at first and he is there to guide you. You can reach the Cooperative Education and International Programs department at (423)425-4735. Make an appointment to see Mr. Prevost to go over your options if you are interested.

Picture of Traffic, Glasgow - Free Pictures -

But of course the reason most people want to study abroad is not because of a better program in another country, the best part about studying abroad is getting to go to new places and meet people from everywhere. Not that you should be rash and apply for a study abroad just to get out of town, but broadening your horizons could never be bad. My advice is go for it while you can. Traveling by yourself is expensive and time consuming in an age where every day counts. Travel Abroad gives you the ability to see some amazing places while still earning your education for a relatively low price.

Copyright CIEE 2009

Ten Year Old Baby Mama

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A ten-year-old Romanian Gypsy girl just gave birth in Spain after leaving their country and the baby’s father behind. The girl’s mother does not understand the uproar over her child being pregnant as many Gypsy children get married early.

MADRID (AP/UTC)- A Romanian Gypsy woman whose 10-year-old daughter just gave birth in Spain says she’s delighted to have a new granddaughter and doesn’t understand why the birth has shocked anyone — let alone become an international sensation.

Spanish authorities have released few details about the case to protect the girl’s privacy.

But in comments published Wednesday, her mother told reporters that the baby’s father is a 13-year-old boy who is still in Romania and is no longer going out with her daughter.

The 10-year-old girl and her baby daughter plan to stay in Spain because the young couple separated, said the girl’s mother. She identified herself only as Olimpia and appeared to be in her 30s but did not give her age.

She also said she didn’t understand the attention the case was generating because she and her daughter are Romanian Gypsies, or Roma, and their custom is to allow girls to marry young even though that’s against the law in Romania.

“That’s the way we get married,” the girl’s mother told reporters Tuesday outside the modest apartment building in the southern town of Lebrija where the family lives.

Meanwhile, the story was going viral on the Internet and causing an uproar in Spain.

“Mother at 10 years old” blared a headline in Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper, which dedicated two pages to the story.

In contrast, news about the 10-year-old mother barely registered in Romania, where stories buried inside newspapers focused on the controversy the birth had caused among Spaniards.

The girl moved to Spain about three weeks ago, her mother said, and her baby was born in a hospital last week in the city of Jerez de la Frontera. There were no complications during the birth, and the 10-year-old and her baby are doing fine, her mother said.

“She’s doing well and is very happy with her daughter,” the woman said.

The 10-year-old and her baby are living with the new grandmother while Spanish social welfare authorities determine whether the family will be able to provide for the baby.

Leading daily El Pais and other Spanish news media said prosecutors had announced they would investigate whether the parents might be guilty of any negligence if the 10-year-old child was not registered for school or had not been taken to see a doctor in her final months of pregnancy.

No one was available at the prosecutors’ office for comment on the matter late Wednesday.

“The case is shocking,” said Maria Luisa Cava del Llano, Spain’s ombudswoman.

Under Spanish law, having consensual sex with someone under age 13 is classified as child abuse. But a Justice Ministry official said this particular case is complicated, because the alleged father is not in Spain and is also a minor. It is not clear whether he could be charged, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ministry policy.

Romanian law allows girls to get married at age 16 with parental consent, or at 18 without it.

But arranged “marriages” between teenagers are relatively common among Roma, who make up about 1.5 million of Romania’s 22 million people. Families “marry off” daughters when they reach puberty, with the “husband” usually being a couple of years older. The marriages are not recognized by the state.

Roma girls are often not encouraged to pursue a full education, and Romanian authorities do not widely enforce education laws that require children to attend school until age 16.

In 2003, there was an international outcry after the European Union envoy to Romania, Baroness Emma Nicholson, demanded that a 12-year-old Roma girl and her 15-year-old common-law husband separate and cease all intimate relations until they were legally able to be married. The couple did separate for an unknown amount of time.

Killer Goat

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP/ UTC) — A mountain goat that fatally gored a hiker over the weekend, then stood over the man and stared at people trying to help, had shown aggressive behavior in the past, Olympic National Park officials said Monday.

Robert Boardman, 63, of Port Angeles, died Saturday after he was attacked by the goat while hiking on the subalpine Switchback Trail in the park. The trail is popular with residents of nearby Port Angeles, which is about 85 miles west of Seattle.

Park rangers later found the goat, which remained close by, observed blood on it and shot the animal.

Rangers have been tracking the goat and others for the past four years because they have followed people or approached hikers without backing down, said park spokeswoman Barb Maynes.

“It has shown aggressive behavior, however, nothing led us to believe us it was appropriate to take the next level of removal,” she said. “This is a highly unusual. There’s no record of anything similar in this park. It’s a tragedy. We are taking it extremely seriously and doing our best to learn as much as we can.”

Park officials have posted signs at trailheads warning hikers to be watchful of all goats and to stay at least 100 feet from the animals. Hikers are also warned not to urinate on or near the trail, because goats are attracted to the salt.

A necropsy, or animal autopsy, was conducted on the goat Sunday night by a private certified veterinary pathologists. Park officials are awaiting test results of blood and tissue samples, which may take a couple weeks, Maynes said.

“We’re looking for anything to indicate any presence of diseases, which might shed light on the animal’s extremely strange and unusual behavior,” she said.

Boardman was hiking with his wife, Susan Chadd, and their friend, Pat Willits, and had stopped for lunch at an overlook when the goat began acting aggressively toward them, the Peninsula Daily News reported.

Boardman urged the others to go ahead while he tried to get rid of the goat, according to the paper. The two heard him yell and ran back to help.

Hikers who came upon the group radioed for help. But it took nearly an hour before rescuers could reach Boardman because the goat stood over him as he lay motionless on the ground, according to the Seattle Times.

“The mountain goat was terribly aggressive,” Jessica Baccus, who was hiking with her family, told the Times. “It wouldn’t move. It stared us down.”

She and her husband, Bill Baccus, a park scientist, tried to lure the goat away by pelting the animal with rocks, shouting at it and using a silver reflective blanket to distract it. It finally moved away, and Jessica Baccus tried to give Boardman CPR until a local doctor who came upon the group took over, she told the Times.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter airlifted him out of the park.

Boardman, a locally-known musician and diabetes educator, was an avid hiker who also worked for years as a nurse for the Makah and Lower Elwha Klallam tribes, according to the Peninsula Daily News.

About 300 goats graze the park’s alpine meadows and roam its rocky peaks. The animals are not native to the park and were introduced in the 1920s, before the park was established.

Maynes said the park had a two-year live capture program in the late 1980s to remove the goats by helicopter because of the damage the animals wrecked on the park’s fragile alpine areas and soil. That program was ended after two years because it was determined to be risky for operators and was less effective, she said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Travel Bug: Hotel vs Hostel

By: Lauren Turner

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop)- When a bright young traveler envisions their time spent abroad, there is usually plenty of fantasy involved. There will be the Victorian era Hotel with four poster beds and a sweeping view from the third level balcony. It is cozy, yet refined. And the owner home cooks the meals everyday. This dream can be very real, with about three-hundred dollars a night. Most of those hotels are located in prominent areas or in beautiful landscapes, both of which bring the tourists flocking.

There is nothing wrong with staying in a hotel, plenty of budget friendly hotels are out there, they just aren’t exactly grand. Eurocheapo is a great site that gives ratings and pictures (which are definitely something you want to look at before hand).

Most hotels in the large cities are going to be about one hundred dollars a night, and these are the small, cheap ones. The problem we students will find with this is. . . we have NO money. This trip is going to cost enough, not including the souvenirs and food, why spend a hundred dollars every night you’re there? The Europeans Hotel Specialist gives a great reminder to Americans going to Europe, “Assuredly any friend who’s been to Europe already will tell you to watch out for those European electric outlets. You will need a special converter if you’ve packed your hair dryer – you can usually find an inexpensive one at Sears or Target.”

Everyone is probably familiar with the movie Hostel. It basically involves some young Americans falling prey to a hostel and being slaughtered. Don’t let that scare you, Rick Steves has a lot of faith in the hostel system, “Hostels can have strict rules. Some lock up during the day (usually from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and a few may have a curfew at night, when the doors are locked.” You can read his article about hostels at this site.

It is very easy to get something stolen from you in a hostel, the trick is to play it safe. Always carry your identification and cash on you, and get a travel lock for your bags.

Wikipedia has this to says hostels are, “budget oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, sometimes a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are generally cheaper for both the operator and the occupants.” Though they are usually sparse with no special adornments, the company you can have with staying in hostels will surpass any room service. The StaTravel blog rates the top ten hostels in Europe, based on their customers ratings. Some hostels even serve family-style meals for a little extra.

And the stingy customer can find some nicer hostels with more to offer. Check out to find any range of accomodation. You can alo find some great deals at EuropenHostels. Prices can range from $10 for those travelers who really need to scrape by, to $70 where the occupant might have their own room and nicer amenities.

Although, many travelers say that the ‘dorm experience’ is the best part of staying in a hostel. And others might have a few bad run ins with hostels, read this blog about a girls first few visits in a hostel.

A good way to decide on whether you should stay in a hotel or hostel is to ask yourself ‘Does it have to be clean?’ because that will tell you whether you’re ready for hostel life. Clean hostels do exist, they are actually quite common but there is always a chance. A great site for any of your travel needs is Lonely Planet, look at their forums and tips on travel. The great thing about them is that they are cheap and numerous. You can go anywhere and find a hostel, just like you can find a hotel, hostels just promise a much more interesting stay for a smaller portion of your life savings.




Copyright © The Marquette Journal

© 1999 – 2010 by Over There Interactive, Inc

© 2010 Lonely Planet.

© 2009 STA Travel Blog

Travel Bug: Italy in a Flash

By: Lauren Turner

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) – Welcome to Europe. You’ve crossed the pond and are now in Rome, the city of adventure. Here’s a tip, don’t go straight for the tourist traps, because they will eat you alive.

The first thing you need to know is that American tourists go there all the time and it is easy to fall into the throngs that gather at the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the remains of Roman architecture. Rome holds some amazing sights that everyone should see sometime in their lives, but it will take up a majority of your time and you might be better off to spread them out over your trip. Check out EF Tours for affordable student travel with a group and tour guide.

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A beautiful view of Rome from the Vatican.

Rome is dirty, be prepared. This city has been around for thousands of years and that includes modern day graffiti, littering, and a large homeless population. But some of the most beautiful buildings, pieces of art, and plates of food are found there as well. Lonely Planet gives a good overview of Rome, showing both the good and the bad. The Lonely Planet website says, “Rome is an epic, bubbling-over metropolis harboring lost empires. One visit and you’ll be hooked.” Rome is an amazing place to be, but it is also easy to let it run you over. Go with a plan and make an adventure for yourself. This page in LP has some great tips and articles to help you work your way through the city.

A must-see Italian city is Florence. The picturesque river scenes, the David on display, and hagglers in the leather markets are going to make it an interesting stop. Home to the Renaissance style, Florence has aged but the mystique has remained. Florentines are obsessed with style and living life, which is apparent in their flamboyant interactions with each other. The leather markets are a vast spread of little isles, nooks, and crannies that you have to work your way through in order to gawk at their fine craftsmanship.

One of the main centers of Florence, close to the leather markets.

The smell is pungent but make sure what you’re getting is real leather because they will try to trick you. This yahoo chat gives some great advice about trying to tell if it is leather or vinyl. One commenter wrote, “Real leather has a rich musky smell. Check the backside, real leather is sueded on the backside. Plastic imitation leather smells like nothing, or like chemicals, or like plastic and it will have either a cloth backing or it will have a plastic backing.”

And finally, make sure you stop off in Assisi. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and they are not changing anytime soon. When you first walk around it feels as if you have traveled back in time.

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A panoramic view of Assisi, and the surrounding fields.

Nuns walking everywhere, all the roads are paved in cobblestones, and the view from this hilltop town is a literal patchwork of fields and small farmhouses for as far as the eye can see. Assisi has a very interesting history, being the birthplace of Saint Francis who founded the Franciscan religious order. You can tour his cathedral and monastery, where the artifacts date back to the 1200’s. This is a town of quiet reflection and is very relaxing after being in bustling cities like Rome and Florence.

All around these little towns are shops and businesses owned by local artisans. Stop off at their stores and get souvenirs there instead of buying generic t-shirts and postcards in the cities. You can find some amazing pottery and leather worked goods at half the price they would be in America.

As always, be careful with yourself and your money. Rome is riddled with pick-pockets that can snag your wallet without your ever realizing it. But the smaller towns are still something to look out for. Eurotrip, a popular movie in the early 2000’s has an actor with a wallet strapped to his stomach. This seems a little over the top, but it is actually a great idea. Read through some of these tips before you go. They say that, “Just know that pickpockets love to target tourists while they are passing thru or riding the Metro.”

Italy is full of amazing adventures and romantic trips. All of the tourist attractions are well worth seeing, it is up to you to decide if you are prepared to wait in line for seven hours to get into the Vatican. Antiquated architecture and timeless art is all around.

Standing next to the David can humble you to your bones when you remember that Michelangelo carved those fine features in 1501. Marveling at the wonders of the world is something you will never forget.

© 2010 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2010 EF Cultural Travel LTD

Copyright © 2010 Yahoo! Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Corporate Travel Safety, LLC All rights reserved

Travel Bug

By: Lauren Turner

Mail to:

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) –

Prelude to a Journey

One thing that almost every college student dreams of doing is dropping out of college to travel the world and make amazing memories. People are hungry for the richness of life and diversity that can be found in faraway places, the excitement that comes with living in strange areas and meeting exotic people. Traveling has been called a rite of passage for many who come to a crossroads in life. Should you take the right path and follow the road paved by the status quo? Or go left, down that dark path with weeds and broken paving stones that might just end over a cliff? Regardless of what each person chooses, the road less traveled looks more exhilarating. It offers a glimpse of Life, true and intoxicating life.

A good way to travel is with backpacking gear.

Part One: Planning Your Trip

Everyone will have a different itinerary. So many choices are available on where to go and what to do, not to mention how much to spend. So for the sake of clarity we will be taking a fictional journey through Europe. One month, seven cities, and countless possibilities. At first the options are so overwhelming it seems easier to give up, but that is the great thing about travel because you can do what you want! The first move is to check out student friendly travel sites like Student Universe, which is a great resource for students on a budget. Number one goal: Keep it cheap! Student Universe gives you plenty of help for:

  • Flights
  • Activities
  • Hotels
  • Rail line information
  • Trip Ideas

Use sites like this to plan the main details of your trip and outline an itinerary. Travel is much more fun when all you have to do is fill in the blanks.

Part Two: Financing

Raising the funds for the adventure of a lifetime is going to be a long hard process, but you have to work hard to play hard. The total for this trip is going to even out to about three thousand dollars, including airfare, ground travel, board, food, and extraneous expenses. A price that is manageable if you stick to a schedule and watch your spending. Look for the little ways to pinch that won’t lessen the better parts of the trip. Some good bargain ideas are staying in hostels, scoping out restaurants to find good food with a good price, and packing light. Like I said earlier, everyone will be different, but follow these basic guidelines and they will help to keep you having a good time on a budget.

Part Three: Packing

Use the web, people have thousands of websites out there to help the unseasoned traveler understand the importance of good packing. A good website to check out for tips would be Travelers Point. They give a great scope of information and stress the importance of packing light. “Pack only what you know you will use and if you are traveling for more than three weeks, plan to wash on the road.”

How your bag will look at the end of the trip if you don't plan ahead.

This is the best travel advice because people always try to pack their entire closets ‘just in case’. If you don’t absolutely need it, leave it behind because otherwise you’ll be blundering around Europe with a giant bag and not enough room for it. Another good tip is to pack a few old tee shirts that are about to go in the trash anyways and just discard them along the way. In doing so you will make room for the trinkets you are likely to buy along the way.

Part Three: Security

Your number one concern should be your safety. This trip is about fun and adventure but with that always comes danger. Do not confuse exciting with stupid, if a situation seems like a bad idea just walk away. If possible have a can of pepper spray or a taser to protect yourself. Next to physical safety is financial and identity safety. According to travelers point a good way to do that is to, “Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets (if not the e type) in. Store this (in an email for e.g.) in your web based email account.” And do NOT carry large amounts of cash with you!

Part Four: Let the games begin!!!!!!

Head to the airport. Double check everything the night before, make a checklist so you know you have everything. Call your bank ahead of time to let them know you will be out of the country. And bring a camera because you are embarking on the journey of a lifetime. This might be your rite of passage or just a crazy party in a different country, but either way it is going to be one heck of a ride.

© 2002 – 2010 Travellerspoint

© 1999-2010™

Arc Pool Update

By: Lauren Turner

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC) The pool at the ARC is taking shape. Workers began pouring the pool bottom in the early morning hours. Thirty truckloads of concrete are required to complete the pour. The roof trusses will be put in place sometime in September. Completion is scheduled for the spring. You can also watch the construction of the pool on a live feed at with the username wellness and password wellness. The feed can only be viewed through on-campus connections.


Click here to see what the new pool will look like when it’s finished.

Inhumane Shark Treatment for Pricey Cooking

By: Lauren TUrner

HONG KONG (UTC/AP) — When Steven Leung and Sylvia Cheung celebrated their nuptials in this southern Chinese financial center recently, they lavished their guests with one sumptuous dish after another — bird nest soup, lobster, abalone.

But one traditional dish was missing from the 13-course Cantonese banquet. The newlyweds chose not to serve shark fin soup.

“I saw the cruelty in shark slaughtering in online videos. The way the fish is dumped back into the water — it is just inhumane,” Leung said, referring to the practice of hacking off the fins of sharks, then setting them free.

The Hong Kong couple are part of a growing grass-roots movement in this global hub of shark fin consumption that aims to remove the staple of gourmet Chinese cuisine from restaurant menus.

“Shark fin is not a necessity at banquets, as long as guests are well-treated and there is good food,” said Cheung. “We have great substitutes for the soup that are equally as prestigious and exquisite.”

For centuries, shark fin — usually served as soup — has been a coveted delicacy in Chinese cooking, extolled for its supposed ability to:

  • boost sexual potency
  • enhance skin quality
  • increase one’s energy (or “qi”)
  • prevent heart diseases
  • and lower cholesterol

To prepare for soup, dried fin first is soaked in water overnight, then boiled for several hours to soften the cartilage and remove impurities. It then is cooked in a rich chicken broth with salted ham, mushrooms, dried scallops and abalone. Shark fin itself is tasteless, but has a slippery and glutinous texture.

It’s an especially cherished menu item in wealthy Hong Kong, a pricey status symbol for its materialistic and status-conscious people. Depending on the quantity and the quality of the fin in the soup, the dish can cost from $10 to $150 a bowl.

“Hong Kong is the Grand Central Station in the shark fin trade,” said Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart, who chronicled the shark-hunting industry in the 2007 documentary “Sharkwater.”

Nearly 80 percent of Cantonese-speaking residents in the city of 7 million had consumed shark fin, according to a poll conducted by the conservation group WWF Hong Kong in 2005. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that the former British colony handles between 50 to 80 percent of the global shark fin trade. Hong Kong was the world’s top importer of shark fin in 2007, taking in 10,209 metric tons, or a total value of $276.7 million, according to the latest figures from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.

However, activists like Stewart are making an impression on a younger generation of Hong Kongers like the Leungs by touting the gruesome toll of the dining habits of their parents and ancestors.

As many as 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, according to a 2006 study by fisheries expert Shelley Clarke, a visiting researcher at London’s Imperial College. Shark populations have plummeted from overfishing, with nearly a third of open ocean sharks facing extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

In April, the U.S. state of Hawaii banned the sale and possession of shark fin. The campaign is now gaining ground in Hong Kong.

Computer engineer Clement Lee set up a Facebook group in March urging locals to cut their gift money to newlyweds by 30 percent if they serve shark fin soup at their wedding banquets. The group now as more than 18,000 supporters. In July, he forced Citibank Hong Kong drop a shark fin set dinner discount for its credit card holders after criticizing the marketing campaign in another Facebook group.

And since June, Hong Kong environmental group Green Sense has signed up 182 primary and secondary schools for their “Sharks We Care” campaign, with the schools pledging not to serve shark fin at banquets and activities.

Responding to the new consciousness, local restaurants are starting to offer shark-fin free menus. Chinese restaurant chain L.H. Group said the response has been positive.

“We get a lot of inquiries and people interested in ordering the new menu weekly since we rolled out in May,” said company spokeswoman Toby Kwan.

Local shark fin traders also say they are noticing the shift in attitudes.

“Our shark fin business has dropped considerably. Environmental groups are writing such bad stories about shark fin. A lot of people do not want to buy shark fin now,” said Mak Ching-po, chairman of the Hong Kong Dried Seafood and Grocery Merchants Association. He declined to give an exact figure.

Still, some outside observers say conservation activists are waging a tough battle against a deeply rooted tradition.

“The consumption perhaps will drop but it cannot be eliminated,” Hong Kong Chefs Association chairman Andreas Muller said. “Some restaurants may boycott shark fin, but there are others who will continue. It’s a custom — same as eating sausage in Germany.”

Lee, the Facebook campaigner, acknowledged that for many Hong Kongers it’s more important to demonstrate their generosity than to save sharks.

“Many hosts still believe that it is an insult to the guests — or ‘losing face’ — to not serve shark fin soup in a formal banquet,” he said.

The Hong Kong government has also been lukewarm. Green Sense reached out to 56 government departments in May, urging them to ban shark fin from official functions. Only 14 departments responded, with just one agreeing to the request.

It’s also unclear if the newfound awareness in Hong Kong will filter through to booming mainland China, where increasingly affluent residents are fast developing a taste for expensive dining.

“The mainland Chinese market for shark fin is large, and there is an upward trend because mainland Chinese are becoming wealthier. But I believe changing attitudes here can make an impact on consumption across the border,” WWF Hong Kong spokeswoman Silvy Pun said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.