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While theaters have recently been filled with many films that promise to entertain, few promise to educate, and even fewer do so in the thought-provoking way that Gus Van Sant’s new movie, Milk, does.

Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

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The film follows Milk’s life from from the moment he decided he wanted to be a politician, to the moment he finally won a seat a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors . Milk  ran unsuccessfully for political office on three separate occasions; with each attempt, he gained more and more support. Milk, however, had  short-lived political career. Dan White, a fellow San Francisco supervisor, shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk  on November 27, 1978.

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While each person has his or her own views on the sensitive issue of homosexuality, the film’s release could not have come at a more appropriate time. When Proposition 8 passed at the end of last year, many felt Californians had taken a huge step back in the fight for equality. Although that may very well be the case, Milk puts a face to the fight for gay rights. Harvey Milk’s touching and motivating story is guaranteed make you think a little before treating anyone poorly.

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Well, after my last post on Britney, I thought it was fitting that I write about something that receives far less press attention but far greater significance. While many people, and admittedly myself, focus far too much of their energy on the latest tabloid drama or a upcoming television miniseries, I think the genocide that occurred in Guatemala, and went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world, deserves far more attention than Hollywood’s pop stars and celebrities.
After taking my first Ethnic Studies class at UC Berkeley this past fall, I was forced to open my eyes to the daily genocide that plagued much of Guatemala’s Mayan community. According to United Nations’ research 200,000 people were killed, 1.5 million people were displaced from their communities, and hundreds of thousands fled the country. Over 600 massacres were committed, and while 3% were committed by the Guatemalan insurgency, the overwhelming majority of these brutal, heartless massacres were committed by the military.

Using ChunkIt! to do some research, I found out that the indigenous Guatemalans’ livelihood depends on access to good, sufficient land; they are subsistence farmers. Over 60% of the population is rural and 2% of the population controls 70% of the land. For the Mayans, their land was not providing them with enough subsistence, and they needed relief from the horrible conditions of plantations and subdivided lands. As a result, 160 Mayan families created a colonization project in the Guatemalan jungle and built from scratch the village of Santa Maria Tzeja. In 1980 Guatemalan soldiers came and destroyed the town that had taken 10 years to build. They looted, slaughtered, and torched the town; they raped, beat and murdered the women, and when they found Mayans hiding in the village the mercilessly killed them.

Professor of Chicano Studies at UC Berkeley, Beatriz Manz, recounted her firsthand experience in Guatemala titled Paradise In Ashes.

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Manz hypothesizes that perhaps the genocide that occurred in Guatemala and more specifically in Santa Maria Tzeja, because the military felt threatened that the indigenous people were setting up their own villages in the jungle, or perhaps the military was attempting to discourage the Mayans from joining an insurgent movement, or maybe, the killing occurred simply because the military could. Whatever the reason, nothing can justify the lives that were taken, and the families that were destroyed as a result of this ruthless genocide.

Hi everyone!  Today we have a guest blogger.  Katelyn was my roommate last year in the dorms, and now she interns at ChunkIt! with me to show Cal students how they can research faster and more effectively.  She’s pretty awesome.  She got me addicted to The Hills, and today she’s going to tell you about Britney Spears’ new album, Circus.

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Alright, hello everybody! While my Saturday nights have recently been occupied by Spanish tests and Political Economy papers, I have discovered one of the best stress relievers- just in time for finals; Britney Spears’ new album, Circus, debuted last Tuesday. And, although her previous album provided the aging Britney fan base with one intriguing single, Womanizer, the new album is jam packed with techno-influenced dance songs perfect for a study break dance party.

Britney has experienced quite the transformation since she first appeared on MTV’s Total Request Live over ten years ago as a “not that innocent” teenager. Over the past decade, Britney has managed to produce six albums, two not-so-successful marriages, two baby boys, one blockbuster bust and the infamous bald fiasco we all wish we could forget.

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Since then, however, Britney’s hair has grown out and she has managed to reclaim the hearts of her unwavering fan base. Last Sunday MTV premiered  Britney’s documentary, “For the Record,” in which Britney explained that there was a lot the public did not know about her life over the past few years.

“People think that you go through something in your life and you need to go to therapy, but for me art is therapy,” says Britney. “I sit there and I look back and I’m like I am a smart person, what was I thinking?”

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So, before you typecast Britney as another one of those pop artists gone insane drug addict, try to look past the superficial facade of Circus’ album cover, and listen to some art therapy.

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