Sunday, November 19, 2017

FCC Plans December Vote to Kill Net Neutrality Rules

Image result for reddit net neutrality
Article Link
The U.S Federal Communications Commission is starting a vote to kill off net neutrality in the following month. Now, you may be asking yourself, what is net neutrality. Well, I'll save you a google search (I'll try). Net neutrality is the concept that all information on the net should be easily accessible. What this means, is that government should not allow companies to charge for access to certain websites. Not denying access per say, but slowing the bandwidth, or the speed to them. To those who constantly use YouTube, Google, or similar websites, we could be charged more.

The article states that the Trump administration wants to roll back these net neutrality supportive rules from Obama's era, stating that they are too burdensome.

Obviously, the damage is clear to us who use internet from home. The article also mentions, that it will hurt businesses who use the internet. As we become more advanced, businesses utilize sites in selling their products. Limiting user access would hurt their revenue.

Such a devastating blow to free internet isn't left unanswered however. Grassroots efforts have sprung up across the web in effort to help net neutrality survive. For instance, sites like these have popped up, encouraging users to call congress members to help stop the vote. Mass outrage on reddit as well, people want their free internet.

Discussion:
Should Net neutrality exist? Is it too harsh of a restriction on companies like Comcast?

What should be the future of The Electoral College?


Article Link

The election of 2000 raised questions of whether The Electoral College needed to be modified or replaced as the winner of the popular vote was the loser of the general election. Last year's election brought further attention to the issue with Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by a wider margin than in 2000 and falling way short in The Electoral College. These letters to the editor propose various solutions that many of you proposed as well when we studied the topic in class. The proposal to scrap the winner take all component in favor of electoral votes going to candidates based on their percentage of the popular vote is one solution. Another idea is what Maine and Nebraska already do, which is award electoral votes to the winner of each representative's district. One letter suggests we need to consider mandatory voting given that only 55% of the eligible electorate came out to vote in a major election. It makes one wonder what voter turnout will look like in next year's midterm election. Anyhow, how do you think the electoral system can be improved? You can also argue the status quo (no change necessary) or for scrapping The Electoral College entirely.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Trump Adds Five Conservatives to List of Possible Supreme Court Picks

Links:
US News
New York Times
USA Today
Politico

Image: Politico

On Friday, President Trump added five candidates to his list for a possible Supreme Court vacancy, including two state judges, two federal appeals court judges, and a veteran federal judge. Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel who compiled the list, claimed that the new picks “were committed conservative judges in the mold of Justice Scalia,” according to the New York Times. Similarly, the White House announced that “these additions...were selected with input from respected conservative leaders” -- specifically, from the conservative groups the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society.

While campaigning for the 2016 election, Trump had originally drafted a list of 20 judges that he promised to consider for the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, should he be elected. Earlier this year, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy, swinging the Supreme Court to the right with five conservatives and four liberals.

Although a vacancy currently does not exist on the Court, three Supreme Court justices are nearing or in their 80s, adding credence to the possibility that Trump will fill a Supreme Court vacancy in the next three years. Should Trump have the opportunity, he would likely be shaping the political composition of the Supreme Court for the next few decades. As for the timing of these additions, the White House claims that this was simply routine to keep the list up-to-date. However, given his cooperation with conservative groups in drafting the list, it’s likely that Trump is motivated by his desire to demonstrate to conservative leaders that he is still able to “deliver on his promise to nominate conservative justices...amid ongoing confirmation battles over his lower court nominees,” according to USA Today.

Discussion Questions:

What are your thoughts on Trump’s updates to his list of possible Supreme Court nominations? Additionally, to what degree do you believe that Trump will have influence over the political leanings of the Supreme Court in the long-term?

15 Black Men Arrested By a Corrupt Cop Are Cleared of All Convictions


Link
Ronald Watts, a black police officer, was allegedly threatening multiple black men in Chicago with jail time, if they did not pay. These 15 black men all told this story, and said that if they did not pay, they would end up in jail, because Watts would put drugs in their pocket.

According to time, it was the largest mass exoneration in Chicago. Common police power abuse has lead to convictions being overturned, but a case of this size is new.

The participants themselves says they can't do anything about it. They said that Watts would plant drugs if they refuse to pay, do jail time, and then Watts would threaten him again.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this case is that Watts was a black police officer. One might think that he has a better sense of sympathy within the struggle of Chicago. One would not expect a black police officer to in a sense, betray his own people.

Overall, I think it is a great injustice that such a case happened. In Chicago, where the streets aren't the nicest place to be, people are struggling out there. For the police officer to target the weak is a problem that should be fixed. The already weak who go to jail miss out on the responsibilities they may have and those convictions stay on record, making it hard for them to build a life.

Discuss: How are we able to stop police corruption? Did race play a role in this case?

Friday, November 17, 2017

World's first human head transplant?


Sergio Canavero (picture from The Guardian).
Transplanting the human head is a feat that has never before been accomplished, and in fact, currently has not been permitted in the U.S. However, Sergio Canavero will be leading this operation in the near future on an unknown patient in China. Although a similar operation has been successfully performed on a corpse (I'm assuming in terms of being able to make all the necessary connections between the head and body), this issue still remains very controversial.

According to biomedical ethicist Assya Pascalev, "There are too many risks at this point to go ahead with it. We don't have enough data with animal models, sufficient published and peer-reviewed results, and particularly data about mobility and morbidity on the animals that have had the procedure."

On the other hand, James Giordano, a professor of medicine and neurosciences, says, "I recognize there is a high possibility for failure, but this is the only way we can push the envelope and probe the cutting edge to determine what works, what doesn't and why."

Although this was not the case here, I wondered what would happen if we had a bill to determine whether we should allow head transplants in the United States, or had to make a decision on whether federal money should be used for such operations (they are expensive - this one will cost almost 100 million dollars). I think this type of situation would lend itself to be something similar to what Mr. Silton was describing in class today. There would be a select few people who would strongly support this issue, and a large majority who might not exactly oppose it and don't care enough to advocate one way or the other. The hospitals performing these transplants and the patients who are desperately seeking any solution to their injuries/problems would benefit a lot, whereas the consequences will barely be noticed by the majority.

Anyway, should Canavero perform his surgery and take this risk in the name of science? Or should he restrict himself to procedures that he knows will work?

Articles
USA Today
The Guardian
Newsweek

Deal to Bolster Gun Background Checks Is Reached by Senators

Links:
New York Times
NBC
Image: New York Times

In reaction to the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas that killed 26, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced Fix NICS (or National Instant Criminal Background Check System) Act, a measure that would require states and federal agencies to address possible plans to adhere to current laws regarding background checks for gun purchases. Specifically, states could take steps to upload criminal and mental health records into the system. Compliance would reward the state or federal agency with financial incentives, while failure to comply with this measure would bar federal agencies from political appointees bonuses.

This proposed bill is preceded by two similar laws that attempted to fix the reporting system for background checks -- the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 and the National Criminal History Improvement Program. According to NBC News, this bill has “the best chance of any effort to pass through Congress in recent years.”

To me, this proposed legislation is necessary and addresses the error in the system that allowed the Sutherland Springs shooter Devin P. Kelley to purchase guns, when he otherwise would have been barred from doing so because of his domestic violence conviction. However, this bill is rather narrow in its effect -- the bill aims to enforce laws that are currently in place. I believe that broader legislation for stricter gun purchasing regulations is necessary in order to further address the abnormal number of mass shootings in the US.

Discussion Questions:

What do you think about the Fix NICS Act? Do you think it will be enough to reduce the mass shootings in the US? If not, what measure do you believe the government should take regarding gun control?

The Coffee Climate Crisis

Coffee. for some people this is the first thing that pops into their minds first thing int he morning before getting on with their day. This thought can be safely shared by a vast amount of people throughout the world. Coffee has been a staple for both he economy and the consumers and producers who rely on it as their way of life. recently,Climate change has jeopardized the industry of Coffee, effecting the environment in which the beans are grown. Big producers such as Ethiopia can lose up to 60%  of their fields with the increasing weather and reduced rainfall. disregarding the quantity,the quality will be affected as well from the non ideal growing weather.
Coffee may not be important in the small picture, but int he bigger picture is a warning sign as an outcome of our effectiveness as a whole on how we fight climate change.coffee is on of the larger exports,making it harmful to the economy if it is absent. Keeping the economy sufficient is the job of the Government. As this scenario being a small example of how government is working, do you believe that government has been effective with their political agendas with hot topics such as climate change?Is the political agenda being taken into consideration or ignored?

citation:http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/21/world/coffee-climate-change-trnd/index.html

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

UCLA athletes arrested in China thank President Trump for their release

UCLA athletes arrested in China thank President Trump for their release

link 1
link 2



After the three UCLA basketball students were released from China after a shoplifting incident at three stores, President Trump took to Twitter to express how he thought he deserved thanks and gratitude from the players. His tweet stated, “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” After the players arrived home on Tuesday they had no comment, and held a press conference today. One player stated “‘I take full responsibility for the mistake I have made of shoplifting,’ Cody Riley said. ‘I know this goes beyond me letting my school down — I’ve let the entire country down.’ ‘To President Trump and the entire United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf.” The three players were arrested the day before Trump landed in China, he said he spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the whole incident. The two were able to resolve the issue and Trump said, “He was terrific, and they're working on it right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out." Now that the players have returned home the university has suspended them indefinitely until the school can work through the legal process and issues. They will also have to prove their true characters to the school, and that “they will not be defined by this incident.” In addition, they won't be allowed to travel with the team or practice.   

  1. How long should their suspension be? Or should they be kicked off the team completely?
  2. Was it appropriate for Donald Trump to exercise his power in this incident?

Cards Against Humanity Buys Land on Mexican Border to Stump Trump’s Wall Plan

Links:
CBS
CNN
Time

On Tuesday, the popular card game company Cards Against Humanity claimed, as part of its holiday promotion, that it purchased land on the United States-Mexico border and “retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain” in order to dissuade Trump from creating a border wall between the two countries. The website cites that “Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans…[and] wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing.” The promotion -- a $15 holiday pack limited to 150,000 customers -- was sold out this morning.

Cards Against Humanity has previously been known for committing similar acts. For instance, in 2016, it announced the digging of its “Holiday Hole,” which celebrated how “everything in America is going really well,” according to its website. The company did not confirm the location of the land that it claimed it purchased. This, in combination with Cards Against Humanity’s previous stunts, makes the validity of the purchase unlikely.

Discussion Questions:

What are your thoughts on Cards Against Humanity’s purchase? Do you believe that the company should be taking a political stance, and why do you believe that they are doing so? Given the game company’s popularity, what do you think attracts people to these stunts and pranks?

Google Docs goes down!




I knew something was wrong when I couldn't open my Eco-Column Data Collection document in APES today. For over an hour this afternoon, people all over the country were confronted with society's new BSOD when they tried to access files on Google Docs (or Doc files on Google Drive).

People seemed pretty upset and frustrated by this. One Twitter user posts, "OF COURSE GOOGLE DOCS DECIDES TO GLITCH AFTER I FINALLY STOP PROCRASTINATING AND START THE ESSAY THAT’S DUE IN TWO HOURS."

Should we be alarmed that people are so dependent on services like Google Docs? If Google Drive was to unexpectedly shut down, I'd lose a ton of stuff, including photos, past assignments, and UC Essays (oh wait can't lose something you haven't written yet).

What do you guys think? Have we become too dependent on (internet) services? Or are they simply tools that enhance our capabilities?

Articles
CNET
BBC
The Verge

Colin Kaepernick is named Citizen of the Year by GQ magazine

Colin Kaepernick is named Citizen of the Year by GQ magazine 

Colin Kaepernick was named Citizen of the Year by GQ magazine. After he started kneeling during the National Anthem before his football games, he has not been able to get hired by any other NFL teams. “[GQ feels] he is ‘one of the most gifted quarterbacks on earth’ and ‘indisputably, undeniably, flat-out better’ than more than 75% of the quarterbacks employed by the league right now. They feel he is being ‘blackballed” by the NFL for his protests.’” Kaepernick decided not to comment on the piece. Instead, he had ten of his closest confidantes comment for him, including rapper J. Cole, former teammates, and social activists such as Harry Belafonte. He thinks that in doing this he will “reclaim the narrative of his protest.” In doing so, Kaepernick has gotten attention from many people, including President Trump. At a rally in Alabama, Trump stated that athletes should be “fired” for disrespecting the flag. Do you think Colin Kaepernick is being treated unfairly by the NFL? Are his methods effective? What should be done?


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Four killed in northern California shooting rampage


Today four innocent lives were taken by an unidentified man with a semi-automatic gun. His rampage started around his home in Rancho Tehama located 150 miles from Sacramento. He then proceeded to go to Rancho Tehama Elementary School where the Principal immediately initiated a lockdown drill. He rammed his car through the fence and gates and entered on foot. He shot one student, and they are currently being treated for their injuries. Later, the police shot and killed the gunman after four lives had already been taken and ten more injured. The police had been notified of the man a few days before by his neighbors who said that he had been shooting many rounds, and threatening them. The police believe this to be a domestic violence issue after he had been involved in multiple beforehand.


Unfortunately, news like this has been reoccuring the past few months. How can we improve our gun laws to stop incidents like these? What else can the government do?

Jeff Sessions Displays Unsteady Recall on Trump-Russia Matters

Links:
NPR
LA Times
Washington Post
New York Times
Image: New York Times

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned today before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the Trump administration’s ties with Russian officials. Session had previously undergone two other hearings, in which he claimed to have no knowledge of these ties. This was later contradicted by former foreign policy aides George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, who claim that they told Sessions about their connections to Russian officials. Furthermore, he had stated that he “did not have communications” with Russian officials, which was proven to be false by media reports of him speaking to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. These inconsistent or incorrect statements have warranted the need for today’s hearing.

In today’s testimony, Sessions claimed, once again, that he did not know anyone in the Trump campaign who had ties to Russians, and that he “had no recollection” of a conversation with Papadopoulos regarding a possible meeting between Trump and Putin. However, according to the New York Times, he also claims to remember that he had “shot down Mr. Papadopoulos’ idea of Trump-Putin meeting,” presenting a clear contradiction in his testimony.

Although the true extent of the Trump administration’s entanglements with Russia is not apparent, it’s easy to see the damage in credibility that the Trump administration has taken through incomplete or incorrect statements by figures such as Sessions. As we discussed in class, the current American distrust towards the government has its roots in the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War; the Russian investigation will likely only extend this distrust. As the Washington Post stated, “If the person on the highest level sworn to uphold the law is the one you cannot trust, that’s a big problem for the entire Justice Department.”

Discussion Questions:

Over the course of the Russian investigation, Trump has attempted to distance himself from those implicated, such as by dismissing Papadopoulos and Page as “low-level” members of the campaign. Overall, how do you believe the Russian investigation will reflect on Trump’s image? What do you think are the implications of Sessions’s inconsistent claims on the perceived credibility of government officials?

Additionally, Sessions’s inconsistencies have lead some to suspect him of perjury. Do you believe that Sessions should be held accountable for his statements?

Things to keep in mind about college applications


Article link

Image result for getting into your dream college
Source: New York Times

Maybe you've already seen or thought of the topics on this list of factors to consider as you continue applying to colleges in November and December. The ones that stand out the most to me are:

1. Admissions decisions aren't all about you: with the process more competitive than its ever been just put your best foot forward and you'll probably find a good option.

2. Express your authentic self: when you write your essay(s) being authentic will read better than trying to impress someone. Usually readers can tell when someone is doing that so a good story will be helpful.

3. Do (real) good: In the past I've had CP government students do a service learning project, which there isn't time for in AP Gov, however meaningful volunteering experiences make you a more well rounded candidate who can contribute to a college community.

What stands out to you on the list of suggestions? Are there things you are doing or recommend that are not on the list? Are there things that you're trying to avoid in your college application process.

Remember when you're a blog author you can post one of your stories on a topic beyond the scope of our curriculum.

I know this process takes a lot of thought and effort, so hope these ideas help!
Mr. Felder

Monday, November 13, 2017

Trump Tells Republicans to Cut Taxes for the Rich

Trump Tells Republicans to Cut Taxes for the Rich
link


Donald Trump wants to cut taxes on the rich. He wants to use the money that is supposed to help the lower class purchase healthcare. The house and the Senate have each come up with their own plans. The house wants to keep the same tax rate at 39.6%, but it would only be applied for married couples who make over $1,000,000 in income. As of right now the base income is at $470,000. This would help the upper class significantly. The senate wants to lower the tax rate to 38.5% and have the same $1,000,000 base income. Overall, both of these plans would help the upper middle class, and the upper class. “In general, rich households already do well in analyses of the current tax plans thanks to provisions like ending the alternative minimum tax, reducing or repealing the estate tax, and cutting taxes for pass-through entities, all of which could potentially benefit Trump himself.”
Discussion Questions:
  1. Overall, this plan would help middle class Americans, but it still favors the rich. Is this right?
  2. Is there a better plan?

Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks?

WikiLeaks (left) and Trump Jr. (right)
The first few of the images shared by Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter. Link.

So it seems like Donald Trump Jr. has been having exchanges with WikiLeaks. Both sides seem to be doing what we'd expect, with WikiLeaks trying to obtain/spread information and Trump Jr. wanting to know more about Clinton, but there seems to be a sense of collaboration here. In the first message, WikiLeaks seems to be trying to help out Trump Jr. by giving him information about the PAC, and Trump Jr. followed up on his promise to "ask around," according to The Atlantic.

Additionally, within 15 minutes of WikiLeaks suggesting that Trump Jr. publicize their leaks, Donald Trump posted, “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!” Two days later, Trump Jr. posted the link on his Twitter account, encouraging people to read about Clinton's "corruption" and "hypocrisy."

Although these exchanges do seem pretty sketch, after reading these reports, I'm still not sure if we can say anything definitive about WikiLeaks or Trump Jr. Was WikiLeaks biased and do they have a hidden agenda? Maybe. But it still feels more like communication between two organizations, each trying to further its interests by collaborating with the other.

What do you guys think? Did you feel the same way after reading about this communication between Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks?

Articles
New York Times
Washington Post
CNN Politics
The Atlantic

Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission Releases Final Report

Links:
Mother Jones
NY Times
The Hill
White House Press Release
Washington Post

Image: Mother Jones

Recently, Trump declared the opioid crisis -- which was responsible for 64,000 deaths nationwide in 2016 -- a public health emergency and announced that the federal government would begin “a massive advertising campaign to get people, especially children, not to want to take drugs in the first place.”

The Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission was originally formed by Trump in early March. This month, the commission released a final report of 56 recommendations to combat the epidemic, which includes Trump’s aforementioned advertising campaign. Other recommendations include block grants to states and allowing emergency responders to use naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote.

Although the national attention given to the opioid epidemic will surely bring some positive change, the true effectiveness of drug advertising campaigns is suspect. Previous efforts to stem drug use in the US -- such as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign -- are known to have been ineffective. Additionally, as the New York Times mentioned, these campaigns could “create a false sense that drug use is more common than it is, making those who don’t use drugs to feel socially abnormal.” Trump’s proposed advertising campaign also likely won’t be cheap -- for instance, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign took up approximately $1.5 billion total, bringing into question the worthwhileness of this initiative.

Interestingly enough, the commission specifically refused to support the use of marijuana as a painkiller, with Chris Christie claiming in the report that there is a “greater chance that [a] marijuana user would become an opioid user and abuser,” while also asserting that the lack of data on marijuana makes it unsafe. This argument runs counter to studies that suggest that marijuana might decrease the number of deaths caused by opioid.

Discussion Questions:

What are your thoughts on the use of advertising campaigns to combat the opioid epidemic? What other steps could the government take to decrease the number of opioid deaths?
Also, what do you think about the commission’s rejection of the use of marijuana for pain -- do you believe that Christie’s concerns are justified?

The Partisan Politics of Medicaid Expansion


Article link

Image result for these 18 states haven't expanded medicaid kaiser family foundation
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation (note Maine has since adopted Medicaid Expansion.

Medicaid (healthcare for the poor) expansion is an incentive offered by the Affordable Care Act that nearly 2/3rd of states have accepted. The 18 states who have not accepted Federal dollars to expand their Medicaid programs are may be leaving $180 billion on the table over the next decade. There is a red state/blue state divide on this issue as some states are rejecting the money because of ideological opposition to Medicaid, others for political reasons to protest the Affordable Care Act, and others because state contributions are being phased in and the state may not be able to afford to expand their Medicaid program. Nearly all liberal states and many conservative states such as AZ, LA, AR, KY, WV, MT, AK, IN have accepted funds to expand their Medicaid programs. Lots of connections to AP Gov concepts in this article: Federalism (Federal aid to states), polarization (blue state support for the ACA and red state opposition), budgeting priorities (an upcoming topic about how the nation and states choose to spend tax dollars), and health care policy (an upcoming topic that is near the end of the textbook). Discussion questions: 1. Should states be expanding their Medicaid programs? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? 2. Should the Federal government waive state contributions from states with the lowest tax revenues to further incentivize participation, since these states are likely to have more residents qualifying for Medicaid? 3. What is meant by this quote: "blue states generally subsidize red states, so this is a notable counterexample to the overall trend"?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Biden 2020 is a no-go?



Turning 75 this year, Joe Biden is not looking forward to the 2020 presidential election.  Failing both 1988 and 2008 to win and with the death of his son, he believes that he running for president is not the best course. “I’d much prefer to be helping someone turn it around than being the guy trying to turn it around,” Biden once said.  What do you guys think?  If not Biden for president then who for the Democrats?  Ye?

North Korea’s Nukes May Not Be Its Biggest Threat


Other than nuclear decimation, another type of threat has been looming around in the Korean peninsula.  Ever since the Pentagon has accidentally let loose some anthrax, the North has used it as justification for making their own labs for biological warfare.  The Trump administration has not done anything officially, but several experts has have ran doomsday scenarios.  Several people think that a biological or chemical warhead is just as bad as nuclear one if not worse.  According to the article, “These weapons are easier to produce, to deliver, to conceal and to calibrate, and their use would be less likely to trigger the same international response as a nuclear strike” (Wilner).  What do you think may happen next?  I believe that nothing is going to happen and North Korea will not use the weapons.  In what situation do you think the international community will react to a North Korean attack?

Trump complicates his effort to build warmer Russia ties.




Trump responds to Russia election meddling
In a complete surprise, President Trump once again goes off his script during an economic summit with Putin in Da Nang.  This comes as a response to Moscow’s own investigation about the allegations of supposed Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election.  Trump has come out to call these investigations as one of the reasons why the relation-building with Russia has been slowing down recently.  Putin denies any claims of election meddling and seems frustrated with the whole issue.  The American people has had enough.  In a CNN poll, “about two-thirds (64%) now say the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the US presidential election in 2016 is a serious matter that should be fully investigated,” compared to 60% in the past (Liptak).  What do you guys think about the Russian investigation?  Do you think it may be compromised by Putin? What do you think the poll suggests about the American people?






Youtube Reduces Famous Extremist's Presence Online

Article

For 8 years, the online presence of Anwar al-Awlaki has helped to create a new generation of American terrorists. Youtube has allowed for hundreds of hours of jihadist propaganda to be uploaded and remain on their platform. Now, under criticism from the government and other anti terrorist groups, Youtube has decided to remove around two thirds of the jihadist's content.

Do you think that the removal of such videos has occurred too late and that the damage has already been done? What could be some reasons that Youtube did not remove all of his content? Do you think that it is right that Youtube removed these provocative videos?

Self-driving bus involved in a "crash"


Image from CNNMoney

A few days ago, I stumbled upon an article with this headline:
Self-driving bus crashes two hours after launch in Las Vegas.
The bus was touted as the United States' first self-driving shuttle project for the public before it hit a semi-truck.
We don't know all the details right now (the police report is coming out later this week), but essentially there was a driverless bus that began operating in Las Vegas last weekend. A few hours after its debut, a truck backed into the bus, causing "minor damage."

Now, imagine scrolling through your feed and seeing an article titled "Driver bumps into another car, causing minor dent." It seems absurd, but here, since a self-driving vehicle was involved, this incident suddenly makes appearances all over the national news. And it wasn't even the self-driving bus' fault.

This type of coverage inevitably hinders the advancement of autonomous vehicles. In psychology, we learned about the availability heuristic, which influences people's decisions based on how readily examples come to mind. People aren't going to feel safe driving autonomous vehicles when their impressions are based on (misleading) reports of such "crashes."

And again, when was the last time you saw an article titled "Self-driving shuttle bus doesn't crash on its first day in service"? It's not just this incident, but I think that there is a disproportionate amount of coverage that casts a negative light on self-driving cars, painting a picture that is far from reality: "Self-driving technology has been involved in crashes before, but almost all reported incidents have been due to human error," according to the BBC article.

We can't say that self-driving cars are dangerous because they get into accidents. Normal cars crash too. But for some reason, the self-driving ones get all the bad rep.

What do you guys think?

Related Articles
Reporting 1
Reporting 2
More Accurate Coverage
Analysis 1
Analysis 2

"Truck driver bumps into bus." Boring.
"Truck driver bumps into self-driving bus." Omg really!?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Alabama Senate Candidate Called to Leave Race After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

LA Times
Image result for roy moore

Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore has been hit with allegations of sexual contact with a 14-year-old, when Moore was in his thirties. These allegations come in the middle of allegations made against many high-profile individuals, and many GOP senators have called for him to step down from the race. He does not seem to show signs of wishing to step down.

Currently, Republicans hold only a narrow two person majority in the senate, which could lower to a one person majority if Moore steps down. However, if Moore does not step down, his implementation  and Trump's endorsement of Moore could have negative effects on Trump's reelection.

Washington Doctor Fights to Preform Transgender Surgeries

Washington Post



Dr. George Stiller spent months learning, preparing, and practicing gender reassignment operations in order to be able to preform them for his hospital. After asking for permission from the board, one of his colleagues found out, and sent an email opposing the surgery to Stiller's coworkers and other hospital employees. The email drew lots of attention to the hospital and Dr. Stiller's proposed surgery offer, including hundreds of letters and social media posts from citizens who both supported and opposed offering the surgery.

The doctor and the citizens who opposed the surgery stated that the patients who wanted the surgery simply had a body dysmorphic disorder, and the hospital should not reinforce it. Months after first asking for authorization for the surgery, the hospital's administration decided that support outweighed opposition, and the surgery was authorized.

Do hospitals have the right to refuse implementing a procedure if it does not appeal to their values? What part does the First Amendment play in this decision?  Should the hospital have implemented the procedure?

Republican Tax Plan Set to Pass on Thursday



https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/12/republicans-tax-bill-house-244821
https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/12/tax-middle-class-republicans-244815

Image result for republicans

Republicans have struggled to secure a serious legislative victory under the new administration, but the new tax plan may change that. Some members of the GOP, such as New York Republicans Peter King and Dan Donovan, oppose the plan, but leaders in the Republican party have not attempted to reach out or attempt to change their minds. If the GOP were struggling for votes, leaders would be trying to pressure representatives who do not support the plan into switching their votes. Since no such pressure is being reported, it is logical to assume that the Republican party has the votes that it needs to pass the legislation.

The new tax plan involves many cuts and reductions to the middle class's taxes, stating that people earning between $20,000 and $30,000 may receive a 10.4% decline, between $50,000 and $70,000 may see their taxes fall by 7.1%, while millionaires would receive a cut of up to 5.3%.

Is is safe to assume that the GOP has all of the votes that it needs to pass the legislation? Are the government's tax cuts enough, or too much? Will this be the GOP's first major victory in 2017? How will the public react?

Comedian Louis C.K. Confirms Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

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https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/arts/television/louis-ck-sexual-misconduct.html

On Thursday, November 9th, five women came forward and accused famous comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct, including exposing himself in front of them and other inappropriate actions. The women reported being invited to C.K.'s hotel room after his performances, and once in the room, were asked personal questions, and C.K. asked if he could expose himself. The comedian confirmed on Thursday that these accusations are true.

The allegations have cropped up in the midst of many accusations of sexual misconduct or sexist actions taken by famous celebrities. These include Harvey Weinstein, a major Hollywood producer, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, and now Louis C.K. The statements have raised awareness to the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry, many of the stories surfacing after decades of secrecy. Many of the accused have stated that their behavior was acceptable in the time period when it happened, Weinstein even mentioning that "The 70's was a different time."

Should these celebrities be punished by the entertainment industry, or should their actions be fought solely through the justice system? Do you think these scandals will pass over quickly like most celebrity news, or will they have lasting effects? Does the decade the instances happened in truly have a credible effect on wether they are acceptable? Does this effect how YOU view the people in question?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sexual Harassment and Legal Fears

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With the recent news over allegations of sexual assault, more people are coming out with their own personal stories.  Unlike before, in which allegations would simply just go away, now with the ease of technology, people have the chance for their voices to be heard.  But what comes along afterwards does adds an extra factor for the victims.  That extra factor is proving whether or not that sexual misconduct actually happened.  According to Jaclyn Friedman, a victim of sexual harassment, “I absolutely think it would feel empowering. It would also be terrifying. The reason I don't do it is because I expect that if I named either of them I would be sued”.  How do you think victims of sexual harassment should react to this?  Why do you think that these people (especially celebrities) that have committed sexual misconduct been able to get away for so long?  

NPR

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

No War Threats From Trump, Who Tells Koreans "It Will All Work Out"

NYT
NY Magazine
BBC
Image: NY Magazine

Trump has been known for his strong language provoking North Korea, usually by threatening to wipe them off the face of the Earth. However, his recent speech in South Korea seemed to bring an unexpected change. Trump mentioned that "...despite every crime you've committed against God and man, we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles." He then urged China and Russia to up the pressure on North Korea. 

I think an attempt to make plans for a diplomatic solution with North Korea is great news, but it's much easier said than done. As a hermit regime, North Korea believes nuclear missiles are their safety against the rest of the world, so I think the odds they would give up their missiles is slim to none. And honestly, I don't blame them for wanting to build up their arsenal. The rest of the world has missiles pointed at this one country, so any sane country in North Korea's place would agree that building up nuclear weapons would be in their best interest. I doubt Kim will attack first- he may be crazy, but he's not stupid. He knows that the moment he attacks, his regime will go down in an instant. So why not build up some nuclear weapons and go out with a bang?

I think the future of North Korea and Rocket Man's plans are interesting topics to discuss. In terms of Trump's speech in the South, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. He made a good impression amongst the liberal South Koreans and mostly kept away from his usual mudslinging at the North. I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Should we be afraid of Trump's mudslinging? Is it in China's best interest to put more pressure on North Korea? Should we have any faith at all in diplomacy?