Nothing Funny About This Joker | Alana Branch


 Why not talk about the sinister and iconic character that is the Joker, famously portrayed by actors including Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and now Academy-Award winning actor (plus musician) Jared Leto!

 Recently, Empire Magazine released one of its colorful covers of Leto’s Joker. Until now, we’ve only seen a snippet of the Joker in the “Suicide Squad” trailer that was released during the summer.

Why so serious? There’s definitely nothing funny about this joker as he strikes a pose with his cane and glares strikingly at you.

 Leto also gave an interview for the magazine detailing his transformation:

 “There was definitely a period of detachment… I took a pretty deep dive.”

 But he made sure to let his fans know that playing the villain was fun.

 “It was fun, playing those psychological games. But at the same time, it was very painful, like giving birth out of my prick hole.”


 Leto underwent an amazing transformation as a transgender woman with HIV in 2013 in the film “Dallas Buyers Club,” which got him the Oscar.

 “Suicide Squad” hits theaters in August 2016! Check out the first trailer if you haven’t already.

Senior citizens over 65 should retake their driver’s test

I was driving down Route 202, a two-lane highway that turns into I-84 and stretches all the way from Delaware to Maine. Even though 202 cuts through the small town of New Milford, Conn., people tend to go about 50 to 60 m.p.h. as they merge onto I-84. That morning, I was in the left lane when I saw a minivan leaving from a parking lot on the right. He turned into the right lane and stayed there, so I didn’t feel that I had to slow since he wasn’t trying to come in, only to slam on the brakes seconds later as he swerved into the left.
After my heart slowed, I passed the driver because I wanted to get a good look at what kind of moron had cut me off. I saw an older man, maybe in his 80s, peering over the top of the steering wheel. Geez, I thought, counting my blessings for not wrecking my leased car, that guy is way too old to be driving. 
When a person reaches their elder years, their peripheral vision fades, reflexes slow, and light and depth perception begins to deteriorate. Thanks to the Baby Boomer generation, the roads will soon be filled with impaired drivers.
The AOA suggests that a senior’s change in eyesight may cause difficulty in adapting to glare from headlights. Their side vision may also fade, preventing them from passing safely. These types of problems could be caused by age-related eye diseases such as AMD, cataracts, glaucoma, chronic dry eye, or having low vision even with the help of glasses. 
In 2011, 5,560 people older than 65 died and 214,000 were injured in car crashes, which was a 3% spike in fatalities and a 16% spike in injuries from the previous year, according to NHTSA. Those 220,000 senior citizens helped make up 21% of all licensed drivers. 
50% of the middle-aged population and 70% of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, crippling inflammation of the joints, which makes turning, flexing, and twisting painful – all necessary to operate a car. Uncoincidentally, crash rates begin to increase around ages 70 to 74, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Visual, cognitive and physical skills that affect driving ability decline with increasing age, says AAA. Judgment among them may become impaired, making them less able to react at higher speeds and make turns in front of oncoming traffic.
NHTSA is tired of these accidents. In hopes to help reduce the risk of incident and ensure safety with older drivers, the association released a handbook called “Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines” with recommendations on how to continue to be safe driver even in one’s older years.  Unfortunately, though appreciated, printing out some guidelines will not “ensure the safety” of all senior drivers. 

Illinois has already done it: drivers over 75 have to retake their driver’s test whenever they renew their licenses. While other states require vision tests and remedial courses for senior citizens (only if other citizens have complained about their driving), it is not enough.
Filing a complaint against a specific driver means that you have to a) get into an accident with them and take down their information or b) jot down their license plate number while you’re busy driving your own car. Not very practical. 
With 36 million drivers over 65 in the U.S., it is fair to ask that we play it safe. Each state should require senior citizens to retake their driver’s test when they wish to renew their license after the age of 65.
If the first time a person takes a driver’s test when they are 16 years old and passes, then it should not be an issue the second time around decades later. The laws haven’t changed, but their driving abilities might have, so I would recommend these easy steps to renew a senior’s license at the DMV: 
1. A senior citizen should brush up on traffic laws and general safety to pass a simple quiz
2. Said person should pass a vision exam, with glasses if necessary 
3. Said person should list and make sure their medications do not interfere with operating vehicles
4. Said person should get in the car with a certified instructor to retake driver’s exam 
Every day, driving is a risk. That risk can be lowered if drivers are educated and aware of their surroundings. We just need to make sure that we put the right people out there.

GOP Debate: Rubio is still passionate to help middle class and immigrants

Shiny S. Patel
General Sections Editor


 The debate on Oct. 28 was the second GOP debate hosted at the University of Colorado Boulder. The moderators started off by describing the debate as a job interview with the American people. After doing an analysis of Marco Rubio on the last debate, I thought it would be interesting to stick focus on him again. I thought he did an excellent job in the debate, I still do not agree with a lot of his policies but his passion to help the middle class and immigrants in the nation shows me that we have some common ground.
The interview started off by asking all the candidates their biggest weakness. Rubio did not really state a weakness but instead talked about how he had a shared sense of optimism for the future of America. I think what he was trying to imply with that was that he was very stubborn, and very rarely willing to give up. He seemed as though he was trying to portray his weakness as a strength. It was a classic politician answer because no smart candidate would actually admit to having a weakness because that would imply that it would hinder his performance in office.
Rubio talked about how there are people in the world who are living paycheck to paycheck and he wants to help reduce their problems. He talked down about the president by saying that making the military weaker is a terrible idea and how the Democrats get the media as a Super PAC which is not fair to Republicans. I personally disagreed with that because the different media sources have preferences in their political leanings and not all media sources are liberal, take FOX news for an example.
Bush went on to say that instead of running for president, Rubio should be focusing on finishing what he has started in his own state and claims that he needs to mature a bit more. Rubio countered him by saying that he had no intention on attacking Bush back and he wants to run for President only, not to run against his fellow Republicans. By showing his disinterest in not wanting to slammer Bush, I think he drew in many Americans because it shows his capability of acting professional.
 Unsurprisingly, the moderators attacked Rubio and his bookkeeping records, and based on those, why the American people should allow him to fix a $17 trillion economy. He stands up for himself by saying that he did not inherit any money and how his successes came from his hard work. He talked about how his tax plan is pro family because he strongly believes in the importance of family and how he is aware that his income is larger than the average American and he wants to do what he can to help.
As far as the topics of businesses and foreign policy is concerned, Rubio then started talking about outsourcing and discussed how companies should not be allowed to hire foreign workers without making an active effort of putting up advertisements for the job here in the U.S. for 180 days first. He wants to modernize education and train Americans so we don’t need to go overseas to get the job done. After a few more questions, Rubio spoke again about how Democrats talk a lot about how they do not like Super PACs, but Rubio would argue that the Super PAC of the Democrats is actually the mass media.
Rubio’s closing speech was empowering because he talked about how America doesn’t owe him anything, but how he himself is in debt to America. He said that as president he would do his best in saving and expanding the American dream for everyone. I believe that his performance in this debate was not as strong in the last only because though he defended himself and his values, he got less speaking time in this debate. He was able to get more words in in the last which was the reason why he did better.

Usher: Breaking the chains of social injustice at NYC talk

Shiny S. Patel
General Sections Editor
A few days prior, I went into New York City because I came across the opportunity to see Usher host a talk with Harry Belafonte, a member of the Civil Rights Movement, about social injustice. Yes, you read that correctly. I did not go to see Usher perform any of his hit songs, but instead I went to hear him speak about social injustice; even Jay Z sat in the audience amongst the crowd.
Soledad O’Brien was there, too; she was able to ask questions to contribute to the talk, some of which came from the audience, to both Usher and Harry Belafonte about different aspects of social injustice, with a strong focus on the Black Lives Matter movement in America.
O’Brien got the ball rolling: she asked how Usher and Belafonte felt about the time we are living in right now.
“There is a lot going on that we should feel rewarded by, but that should not mean we ignore the revolutions that need to happen,” said Usher.
Belafonte gave credit where credit was due and shone light upon the fact that there are many celebrities like Usher and Jay Z who are using their platform in fighting against this injustice.
Usher was asked what raised his consciousness about the issue to which he responded that this conversation is coming at a time where all artists can and should use their platform to benefit the cause. He does not consider himself an activist, but instead an “actualist” who looks at reality as how it is.
That said, he asked himself, “What can I do to make a difference for my children?”
The discussion further opened up with the viewing of Usher’s new song and video of “Chains”, which was dedicated to the lives that were lost due to racial discrimination within the system, including both the education system and the ongoing police brutality against members of the black community. The music video played the images of those killed due to police brutality and gave a brief summary of their stories. Some people who were given recognition were Trayvon Martin, Andrew Joseph, Rekia Boyd, and Caesar Cruz.
Before the screen went black, a quote played on the screen: “Facing the facts is the first step towards change.”
Watch “Chains”
After the video, Usher said that he had asked his friend Jay Z for help.
“The reality of what I hoped for in reaching to Jay was to make a change,” he said.
He strives to look in the eye of the victim, see the pain, feel the strife of the struggle and in turn, try to open the conversation. More people are being added to the equation of deaths, when does it stop?
Harry Belafonte tied together the arts with social injustice by stating that “art exists to inform.”
“Art form is used to express our history and our degradation,” said Belafonte.
He gave the examples of films and books like “12 Years a Slave” to show how art can help strike up the conversation. He talked about how slaves could not read, write, congregate in large masses, or speak any languages aside from their master’s. Artists give another perspective that history books may not be able to give. It is difficult to portray the grief and the struggle through a textbook when the facts hide the cultural aspects that came with the inequality.
Usher believes that all of us are a definition of the legacy we will leave behind. By using every opportunity possible to talk about the inequality, we can help eradicate this issue. He drew in the minorities of the audience by reiterating that you do not have to be black to be a part of this process and help in the transition away from a society of injustice.
Belafonte then went on to discuss how the Civil Rights Movement had thousands of leaders, and not just Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is crucial to know because it shows that it takes the effort of many, not just one strong, well-spoken individual to start a movement and carry out its purposes. So many people need to take on the responsibility to take the charge. Comparing the Civil Rights Movement with Occupy Wall Street, Belafonte were properly able to show that even today, movements can be peaceful and effective. Usher reminded the audience that it is okay for young people to be engaged in a movement and for people get upset about injustice.
O’Brien asked: “Is it easier for media to report news when violence is involved?”
Harry Belafonte showed his distaste for the media’s portrayal of news stories by saying how media is the one who creates the oppression in an already oppressive society. He, however, talked about how it is important to see how there are aspects of the system that can anoint you with values and you cannot be indoctrinated with what you are nearly forced to see. He shared a story about Eleanor Roosevelt and how she spoke out for those without a voice, like the Japanese Americans during World War II and the black men in the poor parts of Chicago.
Following this, O’Brien asked what they wanted the audience to walk away with after the discussion. Belafonte again brought up how young people need to be the ones who make the change happen.
One question Belafaonte wanted the audience to ask themselves was: “What role have you played in resisting the discomfort of truth?”
An unfortunate reality that was brought up was how people do not want to be disturbed in their lives by the protests against injustices. People need to start realizing that pausing their lives to see the ugly truth of the deaths of young, innocent children may be necessary to prevent further destruction.
And how can the tactics of the Civil Rights Movements be passed on to this generation?


Belafonte identified that America professes to be a very moral nation when, in fact, it is rooted in vast immorality. A part of making a change is by going out to vote. He brought up the sad statistic that roughly 10 million black people who were eligible to vote in the last election, did not vote. There are grassroots ways to help and yet the same people who want structural change are not taking advantage of the opportunity in front of them. Belafonte reminded the audience that there is a price to pay for activism and though many people will want you to change, you have to stick by the right choice.
O’Brien asked how the youth could be encouraged to be activist without being violent and this was where Usher eased his way back into the discussion.
“Peaceful and clarity makes a difference,” said Usher.
By utilizing the education that is provided by globalization and technology, there are many ways to move away from violence. Information is readily available and by using that, people can see what worked and what did not work. Belafonte respectfully gave a counter point by saying that anger is fuel to the cause, however.
Anger with violence is destructive; anger with courage is liberating.
O’Brien talked about how people could get involved in the movement, to which Belafonte seemed a bit shocked. He brought up how there are so many ways for people to find out about organizations with the technology in the world and the easiest way to get involved is to simply do it; do not get scared by the organization. As an example, Usher mentioned
The next interesting question was how society could move past the “hashtag” movements and instead be productive about voicing the change needed. Belafonte responded by saying that communities are clearly ready to make the change but they do not have the resources or the money available to do so. Essentially, by seeing what communities are participating in the hashtag movements, those with the resources could pump it into those areas and provide a backbone for the support they need. Belafonte blatantly said that the black leaders need to use their foothold in society in order to help the less fortunate members of the black community.Shiny in NYC
Usher seemed to have more optimism in the discussion by saying that though everyone supports for the cause, not everyone stands when they need to. He said that the fact that we showed up to the discussion in the first place shows that there are people out there who genuinely care.
The next segway within the conversation put into question President Obama’s role within the movement against social injustice. Belafonte almost seemed to say that our president was not using his identity as the first black president to help the black agenda get a voice in the government.
He said that using his education and his multiracial background, he could have done more.
Belafonte believes that President Obama did not touch the core needs of the agenda. By using the unfinished phrase “Yes We Can” as his motto, he allowed people to finish the sentence with whatever they saw fit. What will American people choose to lead the next step?
After touching on a few more questions regarding police brutality and the role of the youth, Usher ended the discussion by talking about how music can be used as a movement of peace. He reminded the audience of his role as a performer in the world by elaborating on his passion for music. He alluded to how music should be used to speak with the reality of what is going on.
Use your choice of platform to help the chains of social injustice be broken.
“What are we choosing to speak about?”


Western’s permaculture garden had another great turnout for Community Day

weinstineSigns of fall are beginning to sweep in as dozens of students and volunteers gathered to harvest herbs and garden-vegetables in Western’s own back yard on Oct. 14. This summer was the first year of harvest at the permaculture garden located behind the science building at WCSU’s midtown campus.

Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Laurie Weinstein, started the permaculture garden three years ago as an initiative with the Jane Goodall Center. After three years of fundraising, winning approval and prepping the soil, the garden was finally ready for harvest September of this year.

“There’s a whole process of permaculture. First you weed, then you put down compost, then cardboard and then mulch. And then you let the ground set, and then you plant,” Weinstein explained as students and volunteers gathered around the garden to learn how to harvest.

kenney 3A student majoring in social work enthusiastically demonstrated various methods for harvesting plants. Ashley Kenney is a food activist who spent the past decade teaching about GMOs, and encouraging people to eat and buy locally and seasonally.

“The interest is there because people do ask a lot of questions, but I think they don’t really get it. I think what professor Weinstein is doing is great because we are exposing people to where their food comes from,” said Kenney.

“I’m not a huge expert. It’s a huge passion of mine and it brings people together. That’s why they call it a community garden,” she added.

In preparation for the garden, Weinstein held design forums with students who wanted to help decide what plants to add to the landscape. As a result of the forums, the garden now has Native American corn, Native American beans, herbs, kales, brussels sprouts, berries, pear trees, and next year there will be squash.

The garden is partnered with Danbury Food Cooperative, which is overseen by United Way. One of the main goals is to provide locally grown food to organizations, on and off campus. Since the harvest began, most of the food was given to Sodexo. This harvest will be donated to Hillside Food Outreach.

The next Community Day will be held on Nov. 5 from 10 p.m. to noon. The public is invited to participate in activities such as cardboarding, composting and mulching the garden in preparation for the winter. Tools and snacks will be provided. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves and wear appropriate clothing.

UConn’s Mac and Cheese Madness

Former University of Connecticut student Luke Gatti, 19, made international headlines when a video of him drunkenly harassing a cafeteria manager over macaroni and cheese became viral.

Gatti walked into UConn’s Student Union on the night of Oct. 4 with an open container of alcohol and requested jalapeno macaroni and cheese from food service workers, who denied him service due to his clear intoxication and openly consumption of alcohol in public while underage.

This is what prompted food service manager Dave Robinson to ask Gatti to leave, to which he responded with excessive profanity directed at multiple food service workers and continued to demand macaroni and cheese.

The video even shows Gatti shoving the manager twice. Later in the video, another food service worker pins Gatti down until police arrived to arrest him.

Watch Full Video


“He did lay his hand on another person, which was outrageous over something so simple as mac and cheese, but that’s what happens when you’re intoxicated I guess,” said student Jovanni Michelangelo to WFSB Eyewitness News.

He has already been previously arrested at University of Massachusetts Amherst for drunken behavior. Gatti will face criminal charges for his actions at the UConn Student Union for breach of peace and trespassing, according to the Associated Press.

Many UConn students had a variety of opinions regarding Gatti’s actions.

Samantha Crystal, a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, said, “I just think it was blown way out of proportion, but that’s kind of to be expected with something like this that happens on a college campus.”

Another UConn student, Connor McCaffrey, had different thoughts on the situation.

“What he did was unforgivable. He made the choice to drink underage and he exploited it by walking into the union and wreaking havoc,” he said to WFSB Eyewitness News.

Luke Gatti himself also had something to say about the incident. He posted a video online in which he apologized for his actions.

“When I watched the video a few days later, I couldn’t even believe it was me in it,” adding, “I am ashamed of myself, I really am ashamed.”

Watch Luke’s apology video


Gatti is no longer a student at the University of Connecticut. Spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz says that she cannot disclose why he is no longer enrolled due to federal law. He will appear in Rockville Superior Court on Nov. 3 to answer for the charges.

Adele is Back! | Alana Branch

Recently on her Instagram, Grammy Award-winning artist Adele announced her upcoming third album “25.” After four long years, the highly anticipated album is due just in time for the holiday season on November 20. Sweet Potatoe Pie and real music, here I come!

Adele’s last album, “21,” garnered seven Grammy’s in 2012 plus other multiple awards, making her one of the best voices to listen to in a seemingly fallen music industry.

Today, Adele has released a video to her first single “Hello,” and as expected, it is visually stunning and haunting. You can pre-order the album now on iTunes and Amazon.

 Perhaps, this album would make the perfect soundtrack to any situation you’re going through. We could always count on the British songstress to give us the feels.

Meanwhile, check out her new video:

Creative Submissions!















Democratic Debate: Focus on Senator Bernie Sanders, Part II

Shiny S. Patel
General Sections Editor


This is a continuation of Shiny’s analyses on Bernie’s campaign and his debate at the first Democratic Debate.
The next issue that was talked about was the economy and how the world financial system is on the verge of collapsing. He brought up with passion in his voice that within the last 40 years, the middle class has done nothing but shrink and is borderline disappearing. He plans on combatting this issue at hand by building up the infrastructure, raising the wages, providing paid family leave, and creating more free public institutions. He said that fraud is the business model and that is destroying the lives of the American people. Senator Sanders believes in breaking up the big banks.
“Congress does not regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress,” he said.

  Senator Sanders went on to talk about how it is not the responsibility of the middle class to bail out Wall Street. Because of the blunders Wall Street has made, Senator Sanders emphasized that Wall Street speculation should be taxed in order to provide free tuition at public colleges and also to lower interest rates on college debt.
After talking about the economy for quite a while, the next topic brought into the light was Medicare. Senator Sanders stands by social security and believes in expanding it, rather than cutting it. Quickly, the topic shifted to immigration, where he talked about how he, amongst other progressive voters, vote against one legislation piece because of the guest worker provision that completely disregarded the workplace safety and essentially supported low worker conditions. The topic regarding the healthcare of veterans was talked about again and Senator Sanders talked about how he passed a $15 million legislation to give veterans the healthcare they need.
Then talking about the PATRIOT Act, Senator Sanders discussed how he was 99-1 against the act and how he believe that the people “have a right to be free.” He wants to shut down the NSA and does not support them having all of our personal information right at their fingertips. Regarding Snowden, Senator Sander believes that he broke laws and therefore, needs to suffer a penalty but strongly emphasizes the fact that what Snowden did brings light to the fact that there are problems that need to be fixed and we should use this incident to take into consideration the problems going on regarding cyber-security.

 Moving on, Anderson Cooper asked the candidates how their first term would be different than a third term of Obama’s presidency. Senator Sanders went straight on to say that the power of corporate America is ridiculous and that his term would be a term with political revolution in which the government would finally work for everyone, not just the elites in society. By increasing voter turnout, he says he will help the American people know what they need to know about the actions of Congress.
Clinton was asked why the American people should put another Clinton back into office and when Senator Sanders was asked to comment on it, he said that he was the only candidate that is not an elite in society and how he has no SuperPACs funding him. He says he could represent the average American worker the best. Afterward, the issue of climate change was brought up and he talked about how he brought up one of the first pieces of legislation in Congress that would impose a tax on carbon. He also talked about how fossil fuel industries funds Republicans and that’s why fossil fuels are not an issue many Republicans will actively discuss.
On the issue of Mandated Paid Maternity Leave, Senator Sanders brings up how every other first world country in the world lets mothers stay home and take care of their child on a paid leave. By stopping the tax breaks on millionaires, the tax dollars can be used towards making this a reality, according to Senator Sanders. The last topic that was talked about before the final question was recreational marijuana. Senator Sanders firmly believe that young people need to stop being jailed for smoking and that we need to rethink the criminal justice system. He ended the question by bring up the fact that if there are policies that the people want to see then they are need to go and start getting involved.
The final question had to do with a famous quote by FDR, “Judge me by SXLLM my enemies.”
All of the candidates were asked to talk about the enemies they were most proud to have and Senator Sanders said he was most proud to have the enemies of Wall Street and the pharmaceutical companies.
In closing, Senator Bernie Sanders said that America is a great country but with serious problems. There is too much inequality and we need to provide healthcare with citizenship. Paid family leave is fundamental to the success of our economy and in short, all of the problems our nation faces can be solved if millions of people stand up against the millionaires.
Senator Bernie Sanders did a tremendous job on addressing the problems that our nation faces and strongly discussed the issues that meant the most to him. He was able to find an interconnectedness between the questions asked and the issues he wanted to address. He showed that each issue is not independent of each other and ultimately proved that he can see the bigger picture that America needs to accept.
We have reached an age where we have accepted the lack of social mobility in our country and Senator Sanders seeks to demolish the inequality gap by motivating the common man to stand up for his rights.
By utilizing statistics to further elaborate on his opinions, he was able to show that his opinions are based in solid facts. For the next debate, I believe Senator Sanders should continue using the passion in his voice with the facts that he gives to bring up the country as a whole rather than using the tactics of the Republicans in which they bash their fellow candidates.


A Nightmare on White Street: Is it safe to walk?

Jordan A. Sprogis
Every day, students, faculty, and visitors alike cross the busy three-lane street that divides the White Street garage and Western’s Midtown campus. Over the past five years, with one dating back to last month, there have been several accidents and near-accidents while crossing White Street.
In light of the recent hit-and-run, The Echo decided to ask students around campus whether or not they felt safe while crossing.
“I would say no because sometimes the cars don’t stop and they don’t see the lights,” says junior Alyssa Eannotti.
Senior Richard Frey recounts his experience earlier that morning when he attempted to cross the street but was cut off by a van that sped through the crosswalk.
“It was certainly unsettling, especially because we did turn the lights on and waited to make sure everybody stopped,” he says.
Some students decide to use the pedestrian bridge, which was installed when the White Street garage was built in the late ’90s.
“I use the bridge now because last week I almost got hit by a car,” said student Taylor Racevicius.
After student Dong Lin’s death in Nov. 2011, Western had to take extra measures in making sure that crossing the street would be as safe as possible. In early 2013, the school installed three sets of lights on White Street following Midtown, where a pedestrian would press the button when they want to cross and two sets of lights would flash furiously to warn drivers ahead.