Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stolen Super Bowl ring

In American sports, there is no more wanted symbol of success than a Super Bowl ring. One piece of "bling" represents victory, overcoming obstacles, perseverance and teamwork and countless other things, depending on whose finger it encircles. All of which is amplified by the size they must be to fit the fingers of the men who wear them. And if the on-the-field stories behind rings are incredible, the off-the-field stories behind them often add to the legends. 

Last summer, a Super Bowl ring became the center of an international political controversy. In 2005, Patriots owner Bob Kraft met Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. Putin asked to see Kraft’s Super Bowl ring…and he put it in his pocket and never gave it back. Putin claimed it was a gift, and for a long time Kraft went along with the story. But last summer, reports emerged that Kraft never intended to give the ring to Putin. Sen. John McCain called on Putin to return it last September, but unless it has been secretly returned, the ring remains in Russia.

Hydrogen fuel cell car

The Japanese automaker’s fuel-cell car hits the market next year despite all the doubt. 

 Toyota Motor is getting set to defy naysayers. Toyota’s initiative is the first commercial hydrogen-powered fuel-cell car, which the Japanese automaker said it will sell starting next year.

Toyota showed a prototype it calls FCV at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week. Many are hoping the company can think of a catchier name by the time the car is introduced.

The first production run of fuel-cell cars will be small (fewer than 10,000), costing between $50,000 and $100,000 and sold mostly in California, where Toyota says a small chain of hydrogen filling stations will satisfy demand for the fuel.140127115812-toyota-fcv-620xa

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NYPD investigated Sex Trafficking

NYPD arrested nearly 200 people for sex trafficking and related crimes in an operation leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl. As major events such as the Super Bowl can increase the incidents of prostitution, federal and local authorities have been working to stop human trafficking, targeting johns and sex traffickers.

"New York Police Department vice units trained in dealing with sex trafficking and prostitution have converged on certain parts of the city in the last two weeks, conducting both street busts and high-end, undercover call girl stings to try and curtail some of the sex trafficking business in anticipation of the Super Bowl."

The NYPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say they're dedicating more resources to the issue and have been working cases to target traffickers who victimize young women and men in the sex trade.

Human trafficking is a major problem in this society and people aren't aware of it.

Obama address "women issues "front and center"

"After five years of fractious political combat, President Obama declared independence from Congress on Tuesday as he outlined a series of limited initiatives on jobs, wages, retirement and the environment that he will take without legislative approval." (Peter Baker)

President Obama announce his plan for the future in regard to the economics during State of the Union on Tuesday night, relying on his executive authority. "Mr. Obama focus his attention to the growing economics gap in America", by doing so he set an executive order to raise the minimum wages to ten dollar an hour for federal workers and saving account for people who can't access to "traditional retirement option"

Obama also declared the "end to the wage gap between men and women. On average, women earn 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in the workplace" (Brianna Keilar). The attention of women's right is important on president Obama and his party agenda.

Arena drawings bring hope to dying area

Downtown Sacramento is slated to undergo major renovations. Mayor Johnson is hoping to revive downtown Sacramento. For example, Denver was a wasteland prior to building new venues for multiple sports teams. Downtown has been deteriorating over the years; one of the main areas is the downtown mall. Shops are closing down and people are no longer wanting to go to this mall. It is now an attraction for what most consider "sketchy" people. This breeding ground for criminals of downtown is making the mall an abandoned wasteland. Replacing the mall with the arena will clean up downtown and hopefully bring life into the heart of downtown. This will also bring local jobs to contractors in the area which have also been at a low. In the end, this arena will be beneficial to the life of Sacramento.

To read more click below:

Animal Testing

Animal Exploitation Now has recently exposed that the number of fines the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made for  "laboratory negligence" has gone up by 162% in the past 3 years. The group is claiming that the USDA is failing at its job of regulating labs and not protecting animals used for testing. All together 35 labs were fined and 163 animals were killed. On the other side, animal testing activists are pointing out that the Humane Society of the United States has estimated that more than 25 million animals are used for testing each year. In perspective, 163 out of 25 million were killed because of negligence and the labs where this occurred were punished by the USDA.

Hong Kong to Destroy Confiscated Ivory

It has been reported that 30.8 of the 32.6 tons of ivory that has been confiscated by Hong Kong will be incinerated in the next one to two years. This has been a demand by conversation groups, who battle the trafficking of ivory, for many years. Hong Kong announced this just weeks after a public event in China where 6.2 tons of ivory was destroyed. Incinerating 95% of their confiscated ivory is an important example of how the trafficking of ivory and killing elephants could eventually be stopped.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Political Cartoons: The Two Branches of Government

     As I was searching for more cartoons to share, I found the one above among many illustrations of Obama... and his low poll ratings. But this one particularly struck me as funny because we, of course, learned that there are really three branches of the government in our country's system and not two. Then, as we read on, the two branches that are stated are actually Obama's pen and phone. A pen to sign his orders and a phone to make the calls needed. We also see that next to him is a pile of executive orders. 

     Ms. Jablonski spoke about executive orders not even a few weeks ago when we learned about them in class. They are basically legally binding orders given by the President which must be obeyed like a law. And with the addition of the pen and the phone, this shows that Obama has the power to execute his orders. As one can see, this cartoon is essentially about Obama's power as POTUS and his neglect of the other two branches (even though Congress has the power to overturn executive orders). 

Free Marijuana At The Potluck

On January 24th, an northern Californian elementary school teacher has been arrested for allegedly bringing marijuana-laced food to school affecting school staff while also affecting one student. Some staff complained about a stomach ache while a few left to go to the hospital..
"Teresa Gilmete Badger, a 47-year-old teacher at Matthew Turner Elementary School in Benicia, was arrested Friday afternoon on suspicion of poisoning after a six-week-long investigation" said Lt. Frank Hartig of the Benicia Police Department.
Police determined that several other people reported feeling like they were under the influence as a result of the potluck, and that one had taken the affected food home, where a 15-year-old family member consumed it.

Political Cartoons: Obama and the NSA

     I have always thought that the best way to learn was when one was having fun. This is true as well when learning about politics through political cartoons and laughing along with them. Who really wants to read through blocks of texts when a simple picture would suffice? The saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. Please join me, as I embark on this amateur journey to explore politics through cartoons.

The first cartoon I would like to analyze is this one:

     The NSA (National Security Agency) , which is represented here as a humongous dog, is an organization that has been getting a lot of bark (pun intended) lately because of personal data gathered from the American people and foreign country leaders. Reports on the NSA reveal that they have kept track on what people have searched online along with listening in on phone calls. In this illustration, Obama is saying: "It's okay, I fenced him in.", meaning that Obama seems to have put restrictions on the NSA. And as you may noticed, the fence is very low. So, according to this cartoon, the constraint on the NSA doesn't seem to matter as it can easily overstep its boundaries and pass its restrictions again. Therefore, one can interpret that whatever Obama has done to ease the American people about the NSA is fruitless and useless.

Anti-Protest Laws Scrapped

On Monday, Ukraine's president agreed to scrap anti-protest laws that set off riots between protesters and police. The anti-regime demonstrators that occupied the Justice Ministry left but continue to blockade the building resulting in multiple clashes over the past weekend with three protesters dead. Read more here.

Call of Duty

Mohamed Morsi named General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi defense minister and pledged to keep the military seperate from politics. A year later General Sisi dethroned Morsi to answer the people's call for their revolution. Field Marshal Sisi took his first step to becoming Egypt's next president insisting he was yielding to "The free choice of the masses" and "The call of duty".
Read more here.

Finding Noah's Ark

A team of evangelical Christian explorers believe they've found the remains of Noah's Ark cover in deep beneath snow and volcanic debris on Turkey's Mount Ararat (map). The team claim to have found in 2007 and 2008 seven large wooden compartments buried at 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level, near the peak of Mount Ararat. They return to the site on 2009 with a film crew. Some archaeologists and historians are seriously taking the information of Noah's Ark been found as they have for the past one.

On its Web site, Noah's Ark Ministries International says the Turkish government plans to apply to the United Nations to put the Noah's Ark discovery site on the UNESCO World Heritage list, a designation given to places of special cultural or physical significance.

A little background behind it,  "prior to the break down of the Soviet Union, Mount Ararat was surrounded by hostile nations. With Iran on one side and Soviet Union on the other, it became very difficult for Western climbers to look for Noah's Ark. Russian radio would broadcast, "American spies wandering in the Ararat area with the pretext of looking for Noah's Ark."" (Mathew 1)

Mount Ararat is located within a military zone and has frequently been closed to climbers for reasons of security. The Ark of Noah still remain mystery due to it location.

A video of new details of Noah's Ark.

Supreme Court Goes Against Workers

      Why wear protective gear if you are not getting payed to? The Supreme Court hat recently ruled that steelworkers do not have to be payed for the time it tales to put on and take off protective gear on the job.
      Today the court ruled in favor of the U.S. Steel Corps over workers claims that they should be payed under federal labor laws for the time it takes to put on the gear. 
     The gear includes  flame-retardant jackets and pants, safety glasses, earplugs, hardhats and other equipment. This process must be done in a certain way and is very time consuming. 
     I believe these actions are shady on the corporations part. The workers are hardworking people and can not do their jobs with out the right protective equipment. This just makes steel working a more unnattractive job than it already is. I do not think this case is over yet, the labor union will do all it can to make things right for the unfairly treated workers.

Sexual Harassment At San Jose State University

Have you applied to San Jose State University for the Fall semester of 2014? Are you a female? Read this article on the most updated news about what's been happening on campus at San Jose State University, ladies and gents. Lately, there's been two reports about women being sexually harassed at San Jose State University. Two females have claimed that a white male, between the age of 20 and 30 with a mustache, has touched them inappropriately. San Jose State students, mainly females, are now cautious and more aware of their surroundings on campus, and while being interviewed on television, one has claimed to have bought mace/ pepper spray, just in case. I'd bring it anywhere, not just on campus, wouldn't you? Although San Jose State is the only school with this being aired on the news, I'd just like to share this with everyone and for all of you to be cautious of your surroundings and that this is also happening places elsewhere whether you're a male or female.

North Korea's Kim Jong Un Strikes A Plague

Kim Jong Un has decided to take his dictatorship to the next level. He's become a psychopath. Killing his relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins, and children, is all of what he's done lately; they were those who were his actual family members. People say that his brutality has exceeded his father and grandfather's. Kim Jong Un has had troops drag his family members out and shot repeatedly. What do you think? "Kim Jong Un's extermination of Jang's family, if confirmed, highlights 'his fear that other family members could form an anti-Kim Jong Un movement, so this is a measure for rooting out opposition,' said Hong" Click here to read the rest of the article and Jong Un's unnecessary actions.

Another Shooting...Yet Again

There was a mall shooting this past weekend in Maryland.
Surprised? I surely do hope because I hope this doesn't become a norm in our society.

Here is a link to a video on NBC's website: Maryland mall shooting witness.

Apparently a 19-year old had a legal possession of a a gun and walked into a Maryland mall. He shot down two people working at a Zumiez and injured others before turning the gun to himself.

This guy had no criminal record but the police did find a journal in a backpack near his body that might have expressed some symptoms of depression. In the bag were also a whole lot of ammunition and hand made bombs. Sure, we could have seen it in the perspective that  it could have been worse, but one of the victims was a young mother!

When are we ever going to finally deal with situations like these? There never seems to be an end.
But then again, I don't think we would want to have metal detectors at every entrance of a mall or public place.

1 in 5 Women Assaulted at College

One in five women are sexually assaulted at college and ONLY 12% report any sort of incident.

This disturbing new report was found here , a video on NBC's website.

As a young woman going to college, I am afraid for all women everywhere, even myself, when I hear this new statistic. Apparently, it has now turned to such an issue that Obama had to address this problem himself. He promises that there will be changes before the end of the semester.

Ukrainian Protesters

Thousands of protesters in Kiev mourned over the death of one of their former friends and protesters, Mikhail Zhiznevsky. They crowded the streets shouting "Hero" as his open coffin was carried through the streets of the capital. Protesters are demanding a free trade agreement with the European Union and they will not back down until their wish is granted.

Public shootings are now trending

Another public shooting has occurred. This is not the first time in the past year where a shooting has been in the news. This time it was at a mall and the shooter had no motives other than dissatisfaction with life. This raises the question of why are people shooting up random locations for no particular reason. The amount of press that these shootings get may be the reason for the increase of them. When will the government start to put regulations on guns and try to protect the American people. Sometimes the lives of a few start to outweigh the views of many 

To read more click the link below:

Problems with Sochi Winter Olympics

As the UK reports that a terrorist attack in the winter olympics is  " very likely", the world is unsurprized as it is just another problem addded to an already growing list. With so many  problems arising one may be beging to ask him/her self  why Sochi was choosen in the  first place. With the torch Relay being composed of laps around the stadium, its seems to be that this olympics will be a little bit of a let down as the people in charge will most likely be preoccupied with the safty of the athlelets ( as they should be)

Top 6 Scams

The top 6 scams create a lot of inconvenience and it all scams people's money. Some of the scams do not seem as harsh but it is so unnoticed and the person who scams makes it sound like it is a fair trade. Most of these scams are done over the phone.

Click here to check out the top 6 scams and how they work.

McDonald's is Going Down.

The world famous restaurant franchise is going down due to many reasons that all relate to the money earned and spent. Also, when it comes to food, McDonald's is become the least of people's choice to eat at. Other franchises such as Burger King and Wendy's are offering better and cheaper products in their menu which makes McDonald's lose its costomers. McDonald's had also gone through a new management at year 2012 and the manager was doing a not so great of a job. Costumer service requirements are not met at times in McDonald's.
For more information click here.

Happy Cows Come from California... When Its Not In a Drought

Around this time you can see cows freely roaming green pastures from the freeway, however, lack of rain has caused these pastures to die out. Ranchers are selling their cattle and an increasingly fast rate in California. With California being in it's third dry year, the cattle industry has suffered. All of our happy California cows are being sent to Texas where they may be not so happy. 

To read more click the link below:

Grammys promote homosexual equality and acceptance

The music industry is stepping up and promoting same sex marriage and equality. The Grammys hosted a performance by Macklemore of his popular song "Same Love,"  a song addressing the need for homosexual acceptance. During the performance 34 couple of different races, ethnicities, and sexual preferences were married by Queen Latifah. This is huge because of the huge influence music has on popular opinion. Even though not everyone agrees with who won which category the important thing is the progression of pro-gay acceptance. This performance will go down in Grammy history as one of the most influential performances to occur at the awards. Macklemore taught everyone watching that no matter you sexual preference, race, or ethnicity we're all people who are all equals

To read more click the link below:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Children Suffer in Syria :(

We are truly fortunate to live in America today. As violent protests remain strong in Syria, there seems to be no end of chaos and dying people all around. I recently saw this video on NBC's website. 

Syria's Children Continue to Suffer in the Crossfire

It is disheartening to watch because at least one third of the children in Syria are under 15. As these innocent young human beings are living and growing up through war-like zones, they experience explosions, gunshots and screaming almost everyday. Imagine growing up and thinking, "This is what the world is."

We should feel blessed that we are living in a free democracy unlike Syria. As the people of Syria continue to fight for their rights, we are comfortably able to go to school or sit in front of a computer reading/typing blogs without a worry of tomorrow. Other children live in fear while the world that they once knew become rubble before their eyes.

Hopefully peace will come very soon, especially for the Children of Syria. 

Agreement on U.S. Farm Bill

The Washington Post reports that an agreement on the U.S. Farm Bill could be reached and completed, possibly by Monday. The U.S. Farm Bill has been long overdue, with an extension that ended September 30, 2013. The five-year farm bill covers issues ranging from domestic crop subsidies to Food Stamps. One of the most recent disputes of the bill is John Boehner's opposition of dairy price supports included in the Dairy Security Act, an act pushed by Collin Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. Furthermore, negotiators report that there is an agreement to cut the food stamp program by $8 billion over the next ten years.

To read more about the bill, go here.

California Drought Triple Threat

From a recent post by Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, they state that Southern Californians are facing not one drought, but three interconnected droughts. The first drought is regional, caused by the lack of rain in the mountains. When the rain goes missing, as it has for three winters now, the ground dries out, the trees and chaparral get dangerously crisp and wildfire becomes an increasing danger. Recent events such as the January 15th Colby wildfire show the detrimental effects of our winter drought as nearly 2,000 acres were scorched. Similarly, the second drought consists of the Northern California water supplies which come down from the Eastern Sierra snowmelt, Southern California is unlikely to go thirsty this year because it has water reserves banked around the region. The Northern California drought does little to affect fire danger here but a great deal to affect the supply of water to homes and businesses. But it's worth noting that although the winter snowpack is down by 80%, Gov. Jerry Brown's drought declaration called for only a 20% decrease in water use. The third drought occurs across the Western United States, and especially in the Rocky Mountains, which feed the Colorado River and by extension the other major component, after the Central Valley, of California's agricultural wealth. the three of these droughts usually never occur without the other as Californian's generally rely on water that falls in other parts of the state from multiple sources. preparations will be needed to conserve water supplies for similar future occurrences such as constructing new dams to store water for future uses. Yet, the environmental impacts of such methods pose similar affects to the degrading eco systems surrounding river systems.
 "These measures are needed not merely for drought years like this one. But the trio of droughts serves as a reminder of the urgent need for action — to plan, to conserve, to store, to reuse, to transport and to share the state's most precious resource." LA Times
Folsom LakeA recent photo showing the suffering water levels of Folsom Lake

UN Rappoteur Anaya Visits Politcal Prisoner Leanord Peltier

Leonard Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American and leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) is now serving his 37th wrongfully convicted year in pison. After being convicted of the murders of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on 26 June 1975, Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in 1977. Having studied the case extensively over many years, Amnesty International remains seriously concerned about the fairness of proceedings leading to Leonard Peltier’s conviction and believes that political factors may have influenced the way in which the case was prosecuted. Peltier has admitted to being present during the incident, but denies shooting any of the agents as alleged by his prosecution.
James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, visited Leanord Peltier on Friday January 24th, 2014; an event which is predicted to advance the growing movement to free Peltier. Although the U.S. courts have acknowledged government misconduct, including forcing witnesses to lie and hiding ballistics evidence indicating his innocence, Peltier was denied a new trial on a legal technicality and all legal appeals against his conviction have been exhausted. With many suppourters, such as "The late Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa,  former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, 55 memebers of the U.S. Congress,  the National Congress of American Indians, Assembly of First Nations, the U.S. Human Rights Network and many others – including a judge who sat as a member of the Court in two of Peltier’s appeals – have called for his release."

To read more click here

Not Soo Cheerful Cheerleaders

      Well the playoffs are done for the San Francisco Forty Niners. The team was great and had an even better year. But jus across the bay bridge, things aren't looking soo good for their sister team, The Oakland Raiders. 
     Their season was rough and it continues even though their season was over a while ago. On Wednesday, the Oakland Raiders were sued by its cheerleading squad.
     The team is breaking all kinds of labor laws. The suit  claims that the Raiders organization engaged in wage theft and other unfair employment practices. The suit states that the team withholds all pay from the Raiderettes until after the season is completed, doesn't pay for all hours worked and forces the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses. The lawsuit also claims that the Raiderettes become subject to other costs such as bringing the wrong pom-poms to practice, wearing the wrong workout clothing, not bringing a yoga mat to practice, or not turning in written biographies on time.
     According to the Raiderette's attorney , the Raiders cheerleaders are contracted for an salary of $1,250, which amounts to an hourly wage of less than $5 per hour. 
     This is a local story that will explode and become much more. These actions by the football team is shady and should be brought to light. The women work just like other Californians but may have some luxuries. This does not change the fact that they go to work and perform the job they were hired to do. Their job must be tiring because they practice and rehearse for a team that isn't good. They deserve a higher pay and what they are getting is wrong.

The Sound of Music

In this generation, everyone has very easy access to their favorite songs but maybe the quality of the sound is not very satisfying. Today the vinyl long-playing records is being re-introduced since the 1930's and apparently it has the best sound quality. Its big and old-fashioned and not portable; it is worth a fortune. Also, if you decide to buy the amplifier and speakers for this music player, it is going to cost about a quarter million. Is it worth it though? Its expensive, its inconvenient, but it has the best sound quality ever.
For more information click here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bay Bridge, UNSAFE?

On September 2, 2013, the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened to traffic. The seismic opening of the new span is more than just an upgrade of one of the country's busiest bridges--it is an epic transformation of the bridge into a global icon. Public safety has always been the driving factor behind building the new East Span of the Bay Bridge. Over the years, the project has encountered challenges that we overcame as we strives to deliver a seismically safe and resilient bridge that will withstand the next massive earthquake. Recently, government and private engineers told a state Senate commission that pressure to complete the new $6.4 billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge led to cracked welds and other subpar work on the crossing. James Merrill, an engineer who oversaw inspections of key bridge pieces, testified that defective seismic safety rods that failed last March were made of a corrosion-prone steel that should never have been used. They have concluded that the new span is unsafe which may lead to costly future repairs. These issues may lead to a legislative hearing.

To read more about the issues the project encountered and is current;y encountering, you can visit this site. 

Folsom Lake: Gold Rush History

     Richard Preston said, “The actual town itself is close to 90 feet underwater.” According to data from the California Department of Water Resources, currently, the water level at Folsom Lake is lower than during the winter season of 1976-77, one of worst drought years in history. Experts say what is exposed now would have been on the outskirts of the once-booming community, founded by Mormon prospectors who made their way to California for the Mexican War. The water’s retreat has exposed at least two rock-lined foundations, a score of rusty nails, piles of old glass and perhaps more as the water continues to decline.

     “I found a doorknob,” one boy called out from a distance. As people come to visit, so far, people have found rock-lined foundations, old glass, a doorknob and rusty nails. (If you all didn't know, it used to be a town called “Mormon Island.” However, the town was flooded after Folsom Dam was built in 1955.) More items were expected to be exposed as the water continues receding. However, they are not allowed to take the artifacts; it is illegal.

Remembering Baby Brianna

Its been almost 12 years since the birth and death of baby Brianna Lopez. Her story is perhaps one of the most heart breaking child abuse cases in America. During the time of Brianna's death the sentence for a person who committed intentional child abuse that resulted in death was only faced with a max of 18 years in prison. This changed when Senator Mary Jane Garcia changed the law to make the crime punishable to a life sentence. Though this has changed many are still upset over the fact that her grandparents were aware of the abuse and along with her mother failed to report it to the police. Brianna's grandparents were only sentenced to jail for 30 days. Brianna was never given the chance to live she was tormented everyday of her short life, never given a chance to live. Brianna's mother Stephanie was convicted of negligent child abuse she is suppose to be released in September 28, 2016.

You can read the story of baby Brianna here (graphic):

Parents Take Action With Rare Lawsuit Against Cyberbullies

The parents of a 16-year-old student at Klein High School in Texas have decided to take legal action after their daughter was humiliated via Instagram. The Esquivels say that their daughter had been bullied in school for over a year but the abuse went too far when classmates decided to create an Instagram page titled "2014 Klein Hoes." Their daughter, along with many other girls (some of whom were indecently exposed), appeared on the page preceding many rude vulgarities and insulting comments. The situation drove the Esquivels to sue all seven of the responsible teens for libel and their parents for negligence. Klein High School was supportive by moving many of the teens out of victims classes but did nothing about the Instagram page despite being aware of it. A criminal justice professor comments that it is unusual for parents to bring a lawsuit to court over cyber bullying because it is hard to prove its effects. What is more common is for parents to sue the school for neglecting to take action. For the entire story click here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

9/11 Accused Refuses Mental Exam

Ramzi bin al Shibh is one of the men accused of taking part in the horrendous 9/11 tragedy that struck grief into the heart of this nation. The court ordered a formal mental exam to be taken to ensure bin al Shibh's competence to stand trial. Bin al Shibh refused to take part in examination in fear that they'd use his previously diagnosed "delusional disorder" to render him incapable of trial. Although this mental exam would evaluate much more than that, bin al Shibh insists that buzzing and vibrations are being intentionally placed in his cell to deprive him of sleep. Cuban officials deny any usage of torture items.

Bridge Scandal Hurts Chrisie

A major front runner, national image, and a reelection win seeped through the hands of the New Jersey governor Chris Christie the moment rumors of his true involvement in the closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge. Major donors for his campaigns backed out due to the threat of presidential contention. Christie's appeal was the ability to appeal to the non ideological middle, but that is gone, at least for now, We'll see what happens in 2016.

Kiev Protests

The Ukrainian government has been battling some protests for some time now. Recently the government had banned all sorts of protest, which they classified as masses any larger than five. With this new legislation in place, the government managed to take the riots and protests to violent levels, and the first three protesters were killed yesterday. The riots are taking place because of the current conditions of Ukraine, the economy is bad and the government is corrupt. The citizens are split in the country, either supporting President Yanukovych or hating him. Russia has offered economic aid, but many citizens wish that the government would take more help from the West in Europe. The protests will likely continue until the government collapses, or until the protesters are massacred, whichever happens first. You can read more about it here.

Women's Rights Diminish in Afghanistan

As the Taliban regime ended in Afghanistan it slowly allowed women to rise from their once minuscule roles in society. Even though their is a law on "Elimination of Violence Against Women" enforcement is mediocre especially with the recent murder attempts of women in high authority positions. Another setback is the reduction of women representation in the Afghan parliament which went from 25% to 20% in only a short amount of time. These recent problems for women's rights has sparked a general concern in Afghanistan's next presidential election.

South Korea's $1.5 billion investment into 5g network

South Korea is dropping $1.5 billion into upgrading mobile communications hoping to increase its speed by 1000 times.Although, 5G is as much a marketing advertisement as was 4G. Also, data communications will not be as quick as it sounds. All users interested in 5G would have to purchase a new device that could access it and also companies on 4G like Netflix would have to develop their own data speeds that could be handle South Korea's image of 5G speeds. However, South Korea has led mobile adoption since the 1990s. They've fueled national growth in 2G, 3G, and 4G services. About 97.7% of 18-24 year olds in Korea use the internet and smartphones. A trial of the 5G network is expected to rollout within 3 years and the full rollout in around 6 years. The country's telecom companies are ready for the development of 5G and to take advantage of the network.

Major drought in the US

As we all know, winter of 2014 is far different form previous years. There is hardly any rain, the weather is much warmer than usual, and many places are experiences drought conditions. About 60% of the Western United States is experiencing this. Food prices are slowly increasing. Many cattles are being sold because farmers are unable to provide for them due to the lack of water, winds and dry conditions are fueling wildfires across the region, and some ski resorts are closed since there are very little amounts of snow. Snow provides for a lot of Southern California's water supply. The snow that piles up in the winter and melts in the spring eventually drains into the rivers, which provides to the communities in Southern California. Drought is predicted to worsen and this is because of the persistent pattern that Western California is currently experiencing. However if the drought continues, millions of people could be effected economically.

Medical Marijuana and Football

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodwell said, according to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal, that he would consider letting his NFL players to use marijuana for concussion issues. Goodwell believe that since medical doctors say that medical marijuana helps then it would be alright if his players uses marijuana accordingly. But does Goodwell know that marijuana use is currently banned in the NFL? 
If marijuana is going to be allowed to use for NFL players for concussion or other treatments then further research needs to be made. We don't want out NFL players to be using marijuana and finding out later that its not for treatment but for pleasure. 
Marijuana is good in a way and also bad in a way. If used incorrectly, it may lead to the loss of our NFL players. We don't want to be watching a game without our favorite player or players. We don't want our team that we support to be disapponting. We want to see our NFL players to make us have high hopes. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

41 Years After Roe

Today marked the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. Tom Curry from NBC News correctly states, "it is a decision that continues to be a powerful motivator for voters 41 years later." Presidents are no longer elected based on economic issues but social and moral ones. Daniel Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington mentions, "Abortion has been the heart of the culture war debate for years, and we talk about it synonymously." 

Within 35 feet of an abortion clinic, anti-abortionists persuade women to not go through with their abortion. They defend their counseling by saying it is their First Amendment right. 

From Peaceful Protests to Violent Protests-Ukraine

In the past three months there have been peaceful anti-government protests until this past week. It suddenly turned violent with 2 people dying during the violent protest. These protests started because of the Ukrainian government trying to forge closer ties with Moscow and because of human rights violation. The opposition leader on Wednesday urged the president to hold early elections within 24 hours. The opposition leader said, "Early elections will change the situation without bloodshed and we will do everything to achieve that." If the president doesn't decide to hold early elections, the president should expect more violent protest rather than peace according to the opposition leader. What had started the violent protest all of sudden was the anti-protest legislation that had passed last week. On top of that they also passed a law expanding the powers of riot police, letting them use a variety of weapons. It is said that President Viktor Yanukovych won't act unless Russia, Germany, or the U.S says to put an end to it. To read more about the violent protests click here to read the article.

Sexual Orientation is Not Grounds for Jury Exclusion

A federal court in San Francisco ruled that lawyers may not strike people from the jury based on their sexual orientation. The court ruled that it was violating peoples right to take part in the government. This case will likely have a significant impact on cases pertaining to gay rights in the future. To find out more click here

Egyptian Constitution of 2014

In July 2013, after the ouster of Morsi, the military announced the schedule for the development of the constitution with the vote to occur around the end of November, 2013. Two different committees were involved in amending the 2012 Constitution. The constitution replaces the Egyptian Constitution of 2012  which came into effect under former President Mohammed Morsi.

Egyptians approved a new constitution by 98%. The new constitution supports freedom of religion - at least for some minority groups, according to Egypt and Islam expert Jörn Thielmann. Religious freedom is now an absolute right and not just a guaranteed right. That is an improvement. That refers mainly to Christians and Jews. That means that members of other religious minorities have been left out. A certain dominance of Sunni Islam has also been written into the constitution . The constitution has been criticized by the Revolutionary sociologists for leaving too much power in the hands of the military. Overall, the people are happy which is the most important aspect.

Hash boat

A group of smugglers set fire to their cargo ship off the shore of Italy containing an estimated 30 tons of hashish as Italian police attempted to apprehend the vessel. Sailing under the Tanzanian flag, the MV Gold Star was monitored by police for three days before boats and aircraft were sent out to apprehend the ship. The ship’s nine-man crew then began to set fire to the cannabis concentrate before diving overboard into sea.
“Setting fire to the cargo and then jumping in to the water, far from the coast, is something we’ve not seen in 30 years,” said a police spokesman. “It was very strange behavior and we are trying to figure out what exactly made them do it.” The fire lasted 24 hours before being put out

Another Dolphin Season Comes To An End

Recently due to the exposure of Dolphin hunting in Japan thousands of American animal activists have been outraged by the violent ways of Japanese fishermen. An unnamed fisherman expressed that the dolphin hunting season only lasts from September to late March and this tradition runs strong in Japanese culture. I'm sure the majority of us has seen the disturbing ways these animals are treated. Bottlenose Dolphins are not endangered or protected by the International Whaling Committee. Do these deep rooted cultural norms and little opposition call for interference with the headstrong American animal activists, or should the issue be left alone?
Read more here

Threats to Sochi

On Wednesday of last week e-mailed warnings were sent to The United States and various European countries targeting the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. In response to the ominous video footage of terrorists stating that they have a "present for Olympic visitors" both the Russian and American authorities have provided massive bulk to the Olympic security team. Although the stereotypical depiction of a terrorist would be an Islamic male but recently due to the killing of insurgents their wives left behind have been provoked and plan to rebel. Three women in particular are on high alert, being labeled as "black widows" due to their plans to sneak past the iron walls put up by American and Russian forces and causing disaster through suicide bombing. Read more about it here

50 Million And Counting!

The U.S. has nearly 50 million (46-47 million in 2012, to be a little more precise) poor people, including those on government aid. Without the aid, the number of poor people, which is nearly 16% of the population, would be even greater. Isn't that great news? It's a good thing that the programs our government offers actually help people and aren't just sucking up money (money that people who make MORE than enough money complain about). Social Security especially helped, without it the poverty percentage would have been 25% compared to the current 16% (6.4 million aged 65 + are in poverty, without Social Security it would be approximately 24 million. Without the refundable tax credits, there would be 25% of youth living in poverty compared to last year's 18%. The current economic conditions in the country are terrible, and no one is addressing the way they should be. Maybe the poor should just listen to the people who say "get a better job," even while forgetting that many people are working 2-3 jobs, or the ones that say "go to college," because college is so affordable when trying to pay rent and potentially raise and keep a family safe, too. What should probably happen is that instead of listening to people that aren't poor, some educated, yet poorer people, should be consulted. If the poverty problem in America could be fixed, we would most likely see an increased interest and success in academics and lose the common misconception that some races are smarter than others (I wonder where that we've all heard that one before). Maybe one day a politician that actually cares about the poor will take up the Oval Office, and hopefully when they do the United States of America won't resemble Detroit.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

North Carolina Gives Compensation for Forced Sterilization

“A moron is a person whose mind never develops beyond that of a ten year old child.”

In a yellowing 1950s pamphlet, being a moron seems to be the only apparent requirement for subjugation to North Carolina’s old sterilization program. Eerily, it entails the benefits and reasoning behind Eugenics, and its necessity in preventing the ‘feeble-minded’ from rearing children. Decades later, victims of the program who were only in their teens at the times of their operations, have stepped forward to describe the action taken against them and others.

More often than not, victims were poverty-stricken families that the state was reluctant to see expand and become even more dependent on taxpayer money.  Elaine Riddick was deemed ‘feeble-minded’ and ‘promiscuous’ after she was raped and became pregnant at age 13. Her grandmother, with whom she lived, was pressured to sign papers legitimizing her sterilization at the threat of removing all welfare benefits from the entire household. She remained unaware the operation had taken place until many years later.

Eugenics was practiced in over 30 states across the country and ran from 1929 to 1974. North Carolina is the first to offer financial compensation, promising each victim $56,000 in reparations. So far, only 177 victims have been identified and confirmed.

You can find the ARTICLE HERE. (It’s a tad old, but still relevant.)

Citizens United

     Four years ago today, in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case,  the U.S. Supreme Court  held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures for corporations, associations, or labor unions. In the most recent election following the ruling, President Obama spent a record-high amount on his presidential campaign. Unsurprisingly, Citizens United has created a drastic increase in outside spending in presidential campaigns. In addition, Citizens United has caused a significant decrease in the amount of donor disclosure by outside groups.  In the 2012 election, $300 million were spent by outside groups with no disclosure of donors.
To find more information and charts about the effects of Citizens United, go here.


Former Virginia Governor and Wife Indicted

     Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and wife have been indicted by a federal grand jury for accepting an estimated $140,000 in loans and gifts in exchange for the ex-governor to promote dietary supplements. McDonnell is accused of lying on loan applications by failing to report money donated by Jonnie Williams Sr., the chief executive of Star Scientific, a dietary supplement company. Mrs. McDonnell's lawyer William Burck has stated that his client is innocent and that "the Department of Justice has overreached to bring these charges." I thought that this article was particularly relevant to our class after we have talked about campaign funds and limits, and hard money etc. McDonnell apologized and stated that he will return the gifts and loans. He also said that he didn't do anything that he wouldn't have done for any other Virginia business. Click here to see the full article.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Loophole for Lawmakers

With many regulations on how much money Lobbyists and Lawmakers can spend and receive in gifts they have found a new way to circumvent system set in place. Instead of paying for luxury trips out of pocket that come with many regulations they are now payed for by the lawmaker's PAC's or Political Action Committees so they are not considered gifts but everything is still indirectly payed for by the Lobbyist because they are the ones who donate to these PAC's. These luxury trips attract many Lobbyist who want to an opportunity to unofficially sit down with the heads or members of important committees that would see the Lobbyist's bills. To be honest it is quite a brilliant way to ignore the limitations set on gifts Lobbyists and Lawmakers may give and receive. Its just another way that Lawmakers can make a law that appeals to there voters at home but then ignore the law with a convenient loophole. Click here to learn more about the subject.

Sochi Winter Olympic Threat

Over the weekend two men released a video threatening the Winter Olympics. They say that they have a "present" prepared for the olympics and its tourists that it will attract. These men are known to be the suicide bombers from the back-to-back bombings in the Russian City Volgograd in the past month, making people even more worried about the threat and their safety at the games. The winter olympics are less than three weeks aways and with these threats everyone's may concern is the safety and security. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has pledged that everyone will be safe during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He even said that security should be ensured by nearly  40,000 law enforcements during the games. But U.S lawmakers feel that it won't be safe at the games even with it being just nearly three weeks away. Click here to read more on the situation.

The Future of Glassholes

By now, most of us have heard of Google’s latest endeavor to give us what we…may or may not need: smart glasses. These futuristic ‘Google Glasses’ allow users to access a world of holographic information, making it possible to use the internet (and more) without having to drag out those cumbersome smartphones. Though critics have been quick to poke fun at the unattractive eye gear, deeming it ‘impractical’, the poor acclaim hasn’t discouraged competition from attempting to get a piece of the action.

Meta, a start-up company in Silicon Valley, is just one of many competitors working on improving the Google Glass. Unlike Google’s version, Meta hopes to create not only a holographic world that you can control with your voice, but with your own hands. Almost as if pulled from a science fiction novel, the user would be able to live in an enhanced reality of 3-D images.   

In spite of the hype, the future for Google Glass and others is still in question. Google Glass itself is still unavailable to the general public and priced at $1,500. Though the price will drop once it reaches mass consumption, a number of problems, such as the lack of privacy, has given Google Glass a bad reputation. Many people worry about being filmed unknowingly and a number of establishments have banned so-called ‘Glassholes’ from wearing the technology inside.

The future may be now, but will it be popular? Ask Google.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In Kingston, Jamaica a mosquito-borne virus appears to be spreading quickly in the Caribbean during the winter tourism season just weeks after epidemiologists first found local transmission occurirng in the French dependency of St. Martin. Scientists said that St. Martin now has as many as 200 cases of chikungunya, a virus found mainly in Africa and Asia that can cause a debilitating but rarely fatal sickness with fever, rash, fatigue intense muscle and joint pain. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said new cases have been confirmed on the French Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Barthelemy. The virus also infected a couple of residents of Dutch St. Marten, which shares an island with St. Martin that was already battling dengue fever, a more serious mosquito-borne illness.

China's Moon Rover and Lander Spotted by NASA Spacecraft

For the first time in 40 years, after the Soviet Union's rover finally gave up in 1973, humanity once again has a rover exploring the surface of the moon. Coming to a surprise to me, this rover isn't Russian or American. The first country to perform a landing on the moon in 40 years is China. China's Chang'e 3 mission lifted off December 1, 2013 and landed on the surface of the moon on December 14. It was quite a soft landing, which is why it is noted. All other landings since the one in 1973 were very hard landings. Soft landings are much harder to pull off. This success shows that China should not be doubted with when it comes to space exploration