Quicktake: The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

The Situation

A small chain of rocky, barely-inhabited islands in the East China Sea has been the subject of international conflict since the 19th century, with tensions creeping toward a boiling point in recent months. The debate around the Senkaku Islands (referred to as the Diaoyu Islands in China and Taiwan) centers on their sovereignty, with China, Japan and Taiwan all claiming ownership of the territory. Though Japan had retained a relatively uncontested authority over the islands since 1885, a 1968 maritime survey of the surrounding area suggested the presence of oil and gas reserves under the islands. This discovery sparked decades of dispute over which country has rightful ownership of the rocky shores that comprise less than three square miles.

Background

The Senkaku Islands appear to have remained independent from any state’s authority until the end of the 19th century. An 1885 survey of the islands determined they were uninhabited and unclaimed, at which time Japan asserted its ownership of them shortly before the end of the Sino-Japanese War, according to an article from the Stanford News Service. For several decades, neither China nor Taiwan made challenges to Japan’s acquisition.

A maritime survey published by United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) in 1968 suggested the presence of vast oil reserves under the islands, and suddenly international interest in ownership of the islands was imminent. Neighboring China and Taiwan began to advocate for authority over the islands, citing factors like historical ownership and geographic rights to the territory.

The U.S., which had briefly controlled the islands after its victory in World War II, signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement in 1971, which effectively relinquished control of the islands to Japan. This spurred China and Taiwan to both publicly declared their ownership of the islands later that year.

In 2012 the Japanese government purchased three of the islands from a private owner, causing Chinese officials to retaliate, arguing it was an illegal sale. Chinese vessels and aircrafts were subsequently deployed to the East China Sea in order to establish a visible challenge to Japan’s control of the islands. Another significant challenge came in November 2013, when Chinese officials declared a new “Air Defense Identification Zone.” The zone is essentially a protected air space established by China’s defense ministry, which announced in warning, “aircraft entering the zone must obey its rules or face ‘emergency defensive measures,’” according to the BBC. According to The Economist, this is a potentially contentious move, as the defense area established by China overlaps with the Senkaku Islands.

Tensions have continued to increase throughout the last few months between Japanese and Chinese forces. In December 2016, Chinese officials claimed that Japanese military aircrafts intentionally endangered Chinese aircrafts when their jets, “interfered with Chinese military aircraft from close range and even launched jamming shells,” according to an article from CNN. The confrontation occurred over Japan’s Miyako Strait, near the Senkaku Islands.

Even more recently, a report from Al Jazeera News earlier this month covered the announcement by Japanese officials that they would be deploying the country’s largest warship on a three-month tour of the South China Sea. Though not directly related to the island dispute in the eastern region, China currently lays claim to almost all the territory in the South China Sea. Therefore, Japan’s tour has the potential to be interpreted as an act of aggression or flexing of power.

 

The Visual

The Senkaku Islands have a relatively complicated history of ownership and authority. Below is a timeline to simplify its many transitions:

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The Argument

The argument here centers around determining what constitutes a legal claim to ownership of the islands — a task made more contentious by the fact that some of these claims trace their origins back to the 14th century.

According to an article from the Diplomat, China argues that Japan effectively stole the islands from the authority of the Qing Dynasty following the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. However, there is little evidence to its claims that the islands were ever previously under China’s rule, as officials have asserted. In addition, historical record shows that Japan actually claimed the islands prior to the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the afore mentioned conflict.

Japan, on the other hand, asserts that it legally obtained ownership of the territory as part of “acquisition through occupation,” and operated within the guidelines of international law which required a thorough survey of the land before it can be declared “terra nullius,” or nobody’s land.     

Taiwan also asserts claims of authority over the islands, though its claims are not generally acknowledged to be as relevant as those of its neighboring Asian counterparts. The Senkaku Islands are geographically closest to Taiwan, laying approximately 105 miles from its coast. This is followed by China, at 205 miles away from the islands, then Japan at 254 miles, according to a report from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. So, to what extent does proximity affect sovereignty? According to Tokyo Foundation President Akiyama Mashiro, the answer is very little:

“For questions of territorial sovereignty, the process by which that territory has come into a state’s possession is the key — be it by occupying terra nullius (land belonging to nobody), showing effective control over the territory, displaying the intention to possess the territory, or some other means recognized in international law — and the geographic status of that territory serves only to define its precise location,” he said in his report “Geopolitical Considerations of the Senkaku Islands.”

Expert View

What might the future hold for the conflicts surrounding the Senkaku Islands? Despite their complicated history, Northeastern University political science professor Julie Garey, PhD., does not see much cause for alarm. “So long as both [Japan and China] have access to the waterways, there is potential for it to not matter as much,” she said. According to Garey, the conflict surrounding the Senkaku Islands comes up in her teaching and research when thinking about international alliances. “Its relevance fluctuates, but when there’s some kind of triggering event, it comes back to light,” she said.

Garey explained that, while China previously had shown limited interest in the islands previously, discoveries of oil reserves and other valuable resources on the islands spurred aggressive Chinese pushback. However, Garey believes there is also a flexing of power that motivates China to fight for the area. “You also have to look at the regional hegemony, and China’s desire to control that sphere and keep the U.S. out,” she said. This, according to Garey, is where U.S. interests start to come into play, “There’s a strategic interest for the U.S. Those waterways [surrounding the islands] are tremendously powerful economically.”

According to Garey, tensions may begin to dissolve as fuel sources evolve. “It would certainly help if we lessened the value of these resources as we made a move towards clean energy and alternatives to oil and coal,” she said.

Despite more recent media coverage surrounding the dispute, Garey believes much of the tension over ownership of the islands comes predominantly from Chinese and Japanese officials, rather than from the people. “We have [at Northeastern] a contingency of Japanese students coming in,” said Garey. “I’ll often ask a student what they think of China, and I’ll get responses like ‘Well, we like Chinese food.’ So everyday citizens don’t seem to really care.”

The Reference Shelf

The Guardian’s overview of recent conflicts and acts of aggression between Japan and China in the East China Sea.

An interview with Stanford graduate student Xiang Zhai, who studied the diaries of 20th century Chinese ruler Chiang Kai-shek and their relation to the Senkaku Islands dispute.

A December 2016 article from Foreign Policy Magazine’s about Japan’s response to China’s increased use of naval ships patrolling through Japanese waters in December 2016.

CNN coverage of a January 2017 incident in which Chinese ships sailed into Japanese waters within miles of the Senkaku Island shores.

An article from BBC News reporting on what U.S.–Japanese relations may look like under Trump.

Injustice in the Fight Against Climate Change

He paused for a moment. Nodded his head and looked upward as he chose his words carefully and slowly. Rev. Noah Evans recalled the scene he came upon at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation last month.

“There were three armored police cars, police with fully automated weapons, and 36 regular patrol cars … police dressed with full military fatigues, with military gear. The only way you knew they were police was they still had police insignia on them.”

Rev. Evans has served as the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Medford, Mass. since 2008. He was among more than 500 clergy members from across the country who were sent to the Standing Rock Reservation at the beginning of November to aid protest efforts in North Dakota over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which encroaches on Native American territory and threatens to poison the reservation’s fresh water supply. “I felt a very close connection to Standing Rock, so when [Episcopal priest] John Floberg put out the call, it made sense to respond,” said Evans.  

This struggle for justice within environmental spheres is prevalent across racial, generational and socioeconomic borders. Historically, environmental issues have affected marginalized communities most severely and irreparably — a global problem that has not yet been adequately remedied. It is influenced by factors like ethnicity, location, age  and income.

“The most vulnerable parts of society are the ones that are going to be most affected by this,” said Northeastern sociology professor Daniel Faber. According to Faber, this is because disadvantaged populations have less political and economic resources available to defend themselves. “The less power a people has, the more likely it is that they are going to see this harm inflicted on them,” he said.

“It’s an issue that’s about native rights and environmental racism,” said Evans. “There were original plans for this pipeline to go north of Bismarck, but then the people in Bismarck were concerned if there were issues with the pipeline it would pollute Bismarck’s water … So the pipeline was rerouted so that it goes south of Bismarck, next to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. And it was classic environmental racism: ‘we’ll just move the problem to a more vulnerable population who won’t be able to speak up.’”

The ongoing struggle in North Dakota is just one example of a much wider disconnect between the people and the political. Despite the widespread violence directed at the construction site’s peaceful protestors, there has been little action or comment on the part of government officials.

According to Evans, a lack of press coverage may be to blame for the lack of visibility and subsequent inaction on the part of government officials. “The week, before when North Camp was violently cleared, the press and the nation in some ways had turned their head away from Standing Rock, and that allowed that to happen,” he said. “Native rights issues tend to not get a lot of media coverage. They just don’t. I think it’s easy to paint the media with broad brush strokes of why that is, but maybe that’s a sign of some of the cultural racism that is just present within our society.”

Evans is not alone in his belief that the controversy behind this issue has as much to do with the status of the actors as the actual issue at hand. Native Americans have been historically marginalized, and many fall well below the poverty line. “Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans — the first Americans,” said President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign.

Despite struggles still plaguing the Standing Rock Reservation, actions against climate change, even beyond the pipeline issue, cannot wait. “It’s here, it’s profound, it’s a planetary crisis,” said Faber.

Many millennials have been active in the fight for planetary justice, with large coalitions of college students and young people emerging across the nation. In November, hundreds of students from Georgetown University marched through Washington and gathered in front of Myron Ebell’s office in protest of the climate change skeptic’s appointment to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. In October, students from Northeastern University’s DivestNU camped out on the campus’ Centennial Common for weeks in order to champion university divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

But there is a clear generational gap present in the climate change conversation. According to an article from The Huffington Post, out of the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and millennial generations surveyed, millennials reported the highest percentage of belief in climate change. The irony here is that, despite their contrasting perceptions of the issue, millennials will be the inheritors of the climate change policy decisions of the baby boomer and GenX generations.

This lack of intergenerational justice, Faber said, is symptomatic of an American political system in which big corporations hold tremendous power, which they can leverage politically through actions like campaign donations. Even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was in favor of policy combating climate change, accepted donations from corporations with some ties to the fossil fuel industry.

The result? A major gap between the voices of scientists and constituents, and the actions of many politicians.

“I’ve never seen such a gulf between what the scientific community says … and what a significant portion of the American people say, and a political establishment that denies that it’s happening,” said Faber.

Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. has made efforts towards combating this global phenomenon. In November,  the Paris Agreement was formally enacted after the required 55 countries, including the U.S., signed on to the deal. The treaty operates under the primary objective of limiting the total global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, through national pledges to reduce carbon emissions.

But the future of American involvement in combating climate change is uncertain. President-elect Donald Trump has notoriously referred to climate change as a hoax “created by and for the Chinese” in a November 2012 tweet, and has stated he would “cancel” the Paris Agreement. Trump engaged in a December discussion with Al Gore on climate change, which Gore described as a “lengthy and very productive session,” according to an article by the New York Times. However, shortly after the talk, the president-elect appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Many have seen this as problematic because Pruitt has sued the agency over its Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

This lack of commitment to help or acknowledge those most affected by environmental factors is ripe with environmental racism. Minority populations and the impoverished are more susceptible to environmental hazards and contaminators, as many are forced to live in close proximity to each other and have less political and economic power to fight back.

African American, Latino, indigenous and low-income communities are more likely to live next to a coal-fired power plant, landfill, refinery or other highly polluting facility,” according to an article from the Goldman Environmental prize. “These communities bear a disproportionate burden of toxic contamination as a result of pollution in and around their neighborhoods.”     

Barbara Cimatti, a member of eboard for Northeastern’s Latin American Students Organization, sees global inequities in climate change justice for Latinx communities. “Minority groups are always most affected by anything that happens,” said Cimatti, specifically citing relocation as a concern. Cimatti’s fear is compounded by evidence. According to Faber, experts are predicting that over the coming decades, there could be more climate change refugees in the world than war refugees. A UN report on climate change has predicted that there may be up to 200 million people displaced due to environmental effects like natural disasters by the year 2050.

Climate change affects actors across all borders and industries, even in nontraditional senses. However, those in more disadvantaged positions, this time economically, once again find themselves most negatively impacted.

Mackenzie Coleman, president of Northeastern’s Art Collaborative, sees a potential future impact of climate change on the art industry, due primarily to the historically lower socioeconomic standing of the artistic community. Globally, artists earn an annual salary that is only a fraction of the living wage, according to The Guardian. In the UK, for example, artists earn about £10,000 a year, 66 percent of the living wage. In Canada, the average income is just $20,000.  

“Artists are very much stakeholders in the issue, that’s why a lot of the times you see art about climate change,” said Coleman.

Natural disasters related to climate change affect these lower wage-earners most significantly. The costs of evacuation, displacement and reconstruction following a natural disaster can be enormous. The devastating 2007 Hurricane Katrina exposed these income disparities in the American south. One in six of those affected had no car and no means of evacuating the area prior to the storm, and few had home insurance. Many did not have cable TV, and had to rely on car radios for updates throughout the hurricane, according to a report by ABC News.

Coleman said she hopes to partner with DivestNU, an anti-fossil fuels coalition, to create a mural or public art display at Northeastern. “Different groups aligning is a powerful tool in activism, and art is something that transcends language…there’s a tremendous potential with art,” she said.

Faber remains hopeful that the new wave of climate change protests and coalitions will produce tangible results. “We have to build these kinds of coalitions, demonstrate [the] promise of green jobs and begin to attack health problems that workers face in these industries,” he said. “You have to build a united front because in the end we’re all going to be impacted.”

Despite these grassroots efforts, Evans is uncertain as to what the future will hold for those most impacted in North Dakota. “After the presidential election I don’t know what’s going to happen, honestly … The permit that the pipeline company has with the Army Corps expires at the end of the year, so it’s possible that the Obama administration is going to be able to do something. But have anything that’s going to be upheld in the next administration? I don’t know.”

Students call for sanctuary campuses

Since President-Elect Donald Trump’s unexpected victory last month, the U.S. has seen mass protests, many of them originating on university and college campuses. More than 100 universities had staged walkouts on Nov. 16 in response to the outcome of the presidential election, according to the New York Post.

Among the calls for change heard from students is the creation of “sanctuary campuses.” According to The Atlantic, the term is derived from “sanctuary city,” and is essentially university commitment to support its immigrant students and deny immigration officials access to raid the campus or obtain names of undocumented students.

On Nov. 17, hundreds of students from Northeastern University gathered on Centennial Common to protest Donald Trump’s election and called on university administrators to establish a sanctuary campus. The protest was organized by Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID), according to The Huntington News. SAID published an open letter to university president Joseph Aoun and Northeastern officials, asking them to denounce acts of bigotry from students and commit to a sanctuary campus.

Aoun has not committed to the sanctuary campus title, but in an email to students on Nov. 14, he reiterated the school’s ideals of inclusion and tolerance. “Please know that Northeastern will always be a haven for inclusion and free expression. We will always defend human dignity. We will never countenance bigotry or intolerance in any form,” Aoun wrote.

Even the University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater, announced on Nov. 31 that its campus would become a sanctuary campus for individuals fearing deportation, according to an article by The Philadelphia Enquirer. “The University of Pennsylvania will continue to advocate passionately for comprehensive immigration reform,” UPenn president Amy Gutmann said in an email to students on Wednesday. The announcement came in reaction to Trump’s claims that he will repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which delays the deportation process for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

So far, at least 28 universities have declared themselves to be sanctuary campuses.

However, not everyone is happy with these calls. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Dec. 1 that funding would be cut for universities that identify as sanctuary campuses. “Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status,” Abbott said in a Tweet on Thursday.

An article from BuzzFeed News warned that loss of funding could become a harsh reality for universities who identify themselves as sanctuary campuses:

“…there’s no legal reason why schools can’t refuse to cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, just as with sanctuary cities, Trump’s administration could restrict the flow of millions in federal funds.”

A Few Cape Cod Captures

I recently went home to Cape Cod, Mass. for Thanksgiving break. The Cape has always been an incredibly relaxing and peaceful place during the colder months. Home to fishing villages and a thriving summer tourist season, Cape Cod can get very quiet for locals during the off-season.

Still, it’s beauty continues through the fall and into early winter. A few glimpses of the Cape’s coastal communities from last week:

Finals weeks is coming…don’t let stress come with it

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Finals week is approaching on college campuses across the country as the fall semester comes to a close. Stress is tangible in libraries and students centers as anxiety levels reach an all-time high for many college students.

If you’re in the midst of finals week or bracing yourself for the storm of work to come, here are a few tips to keep you on track:

Get Organized

According to About Education, making a list of daily tasks can help reduce stress during a busy period, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Writing down every task you have to do can give you a sense of accomplishment as you check off each completed activity.

Get enough sleep

Although pulling an all-nighter can be tempting, getting enough sleep is essential to optimal brain function and memory storage. According to University of California, San Diego News, sleep deprivation is a major health issue plaguing college students due to factors like anxiety and high caffeine consumption. They recommend avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages before bed.

Get off social media

Social media platforms can suck students into hours of distraction. The best method for finals week may be to (temporarily) delete your social media apps or make a conscious effort to avoid them. An article from TIME Magazine suggests checking them in moderation as a reward, “Check in on your favorite platforms or websites for 10 to 15 minutes before going to bed or during your downtime.”

Give yourself a break!

Allow yourself to take breaks between long periods of study to avoid becoming overwhelmed. USA Today recommends  carving some time for yourself each day, “Take a nap, call a friend, go for a walk, take a fitness class, meditate-whatever you need to do to take a mental break and recharge before you plow through the next stack of books and notes.”

Relax, you’ve got this!

In the perpetual cycle of U.S. school shootings, are media to blame?

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Photo via Twitter screen-grab

This morning, another report of an active shooter on a college campus was issued, this time at Ohio State University. Although it does not appear guns were used in the attack, the suspect allegedly drove a vehicle into a crowd of students and used a butcher’s knife to stab several nearby individuals. By the afternoon, 9 people were in the hospital with injuries, and the suspect was dead.

The U.S. has been no stranger to school shootings. A 2013 article by the Harvard Political Review laid out some recent statistics that demonstrate the dichotomy between the U.S. and other countries in terms of frequency of these incidents:

“Between November 1, 1991 and July 16, 2013, there were 55 school shootings in America with at least one fatality and more than one intended victim. In the same time period, no other country had more than three such shootings.”

Why does the U.S. see so much violence in schools? One factor may be the “copycat effect” that the U.S. media seems to perpetuate by celebritizing assailants and minimizing victims through selective coverage. An article by the Denver Post highlighted the Virginia Tech school shooter’s obsession with Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. According to the report, Seung-Hui Cho referred to Harris and Klebold as “martyrs” in a media package he sent to NBC News shortly before the shooting. Just as the assailant, who fatally shot 32 students, intended, the media aired regular coverage of his homemade confession videos following the 2007 shooting.

2014 Seattle Pacific University shooter Aaron Ybarra was reportedly inspired by coverage of the Columbine shooters, as well as by Seung-Hui Cho. “He just made everything so exciting. He made hate so exciting,” Ybarra said in reference to Harris during a police interrogation, according to Daily News.

It seems, then, that the media should hold a certain responsibility in the way they chose to report on these tragedies. According to an article from Newsweek, there are several steps that reporters and news anchors can take to minimize potential copycat incidents.

“Be careful about rushing out with unconfirmed or early information or social media rumors, which turn out to be inaccurate or which will propagate myths,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, in an interview with Newsweek. Shapiro also added that journalists should keep the post-mortem dignity of victims in mind when selecting images to accompany their reports. In addition, the Newsweek article advises against glorifying the shooter.

“To reduce copycats and lionizing, reporters have a special responsibility to portray with precision and accuracy the estrangement of these perpetrators, and to scrupulously avoid language or images that could romanticize their actions,” said Shapiro and Dr. Frank Ochberg.

Anderson Cooper took a similar approach in 2012 when he prefaced his report on the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes:

“Before we go any further, I just want to say that I’m only going to mention the alleged shooter’s name a few times over the course of this next hour. Too often after a shooting like this the killer’s name becomes well known, and months, even years later, the killer’s name is recalled, but the victims’, the survivors’ names are not. I think that’s wrong.”

Perhaps Anderson’s approach should become the norm in covering these tragic events.

Why Trump’s Department of Education pick has so many upset

This week, President-elect Donald Trump announced his appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Although Trump’s appointments must be confirmed by the Senate in order to become official, many are upset with DeVos’ new prospective position.

An article by the Detroit Metro Times labeled the decision as “the opposite of ‘drain the swamp,'” a term regularly used by the Trump campaign to describe his plans to rid the government of corruption. Despite his previous rhetoric, DeVos appears to be considerably connected to politics and political funding, according to the article:

“Through their Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, the clan has given millions to GOP campaigns and conservative causes over the years, and is one of the largest contributors to the Michigan Republican Party.”

In addition, experts and educators have raised concerns that DeVos appears to be “against public education.” According to an article by PoliticusUSA, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, expressed disappointment in the choice via Twitter. “Trump has chosen the most ideological, anti-public ed nominee since the creation of the Dept of Education,” Weingarten tweeted following the announcement.

Even Breitbart, whose CEO Steve Bannon was recently appointed to chief strategist blasted DeVeo for her support of the Common Core. “Anti-Common Core grassroots groups of parents and teachers urged Trump to abandon DeVos as his choice, citing her support for the education reform policies of pro-Common Core,” the alt-right news site reported. Trump had originally stated during his campaign that he was against the Common Core, and planned to dismantle the Department of Education.

For now, we’ll see how Trump’s remaining cabinet appointments play out as his controversial first moves as president-elect continue.

A Little Perspective on Thanksgiving

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Photo (cc)

The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899).
This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.

 

In light of police brutality and government non-intervention at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as well as the ongoing plight of the Native American community, we should take this opportunity to reflection what Thanksgiving really stands for.

The colonization of North America signaled the eventual birth of a new nation, but in the process brought death to almost an entire population. When a British expedition landed on the North American shore in 1614, they brought with them a plague that killed about 90 percent of the indigenous population native to the area, according to an article by Links.

Former President Andrew Jackson issued the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the infamous Trail of Tears–a deadly march to Oklahoma territory which the Creek Native Americans were forced to endure so that their home lands of Georgia and Alabama could be developed by the U.S.

In 1973, about 200 protesters occupied Wounded Knee, the South Dakota site of a 1980 massacre of Native Americans. By the time the 71-day occupation was over, two American Indian Activists were dead from federal marshal gunshots.

This systematic violence towards Native Americans and the blind eye that many government officials (and everyday citizens) turn to it  persists to present day. While Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day to celebrate the colonization of North America and reflect on the importance of friends and loved ones, it is important to keep in mind those who continue to suffer so we could thrive.

Visualizing Data in the Tech Industry Gender Breakdown

Data visualization is an important tool when dealing with complicated statistics or multiple variables. Below are two charts that represent the gender breakdown of technical industry employees.

The first chart reveals a disparity in gender of general employees working for tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Yahoo.

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Those working at tech companies are then broken down into those who hold jobs directly involved in tech, like engineers. Here, we see that the gender gap is even greater.

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At Max Brenner, Dessert is More Than a Dish—It’s an Experience

Nestled into the brick of Boston’s Boylston Street is Max Brenner, a dimly lit restaurant and bar equipped with an unusual feature—its own specialty chocolate shop.

Established in 1996 in Ra’anana, Israel by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, the restaurant  opened its Boston location in 2009 and has been an urban dessert hotspot ever since.

At Max Brenner, dessert is not limited to a post-dinner treat—it is incorporated into every aspect of the dining experience. In addition to the restaurant’s chocolate shop and extensive dessert offerings, menu items also include chocolate martinis, cocoa dusted waffle fries and onion rings served with dark chocolate ranch dressing.

“People love chocolate, chocolate sells,” said Annie Fowler, lead hostess of Max Brenner’s Boston location. “Incorporating that into our menu is what brings people in.”

According to the restaurant’s staff, chocolate more than just a dish—it is a sensory experience. “When you have it as a kid, you have an experience with chocolate,” said Julian Casas, a host and salesman in the candy shop. “Sometimes [as an adult] you forget about those simple joys. But when you have a piece of chocolate, it brings you back to your experience as a kid.”

Max Brenner is located at 745 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116. It is easily accessible by the MBTA Green Line, only a short walk from the Copley stop.

Regular Hours:

Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

The restaurant is wheelchair accessible.


Check out Max Brenner’s website for more information, or to make a reservation.