Teen’s arrest reveals Islamaphobia


On the heels of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a 14-year-old Texas high school student, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school. He was arrested by five police officers and interrogated for more than an hour. During the interrogation, Mohamed was not allowed to call his parents.

Police and officials state that Mohamed was pulled out of class and arrested because they believed his home-made clock was actually a bomb. However, as this story begins to gather more attention from the media and the public, doubts are surfacing in regards to the motives of the police and school officials.

Casting the most doubt for most people is the fact that if police and school officials truly believed that Mohamed had a bomb, why didn’t they evacuate the school? Why didn’t they call the bomb squad?

Mohamed’s parents immigrated from Sudan and are Muslims. Mohamed’s parents believe that their son was targeted due to his race and religion. And people on social media agree as well. After Mohmaed’s arrest, the hashtags #IStandWithAhmed and #EngineersForAhmed were retweeted and included in hundreds of thousands of posts and tweets.

Adding more flames to the fire, at a rally held by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, one of his supporters stated that the current president, Barack Obama, is Muslim. Instead of correcting or disputing the supporter’s claim, Trump only shook his head in agreement. The supporter then went on to perpetuate negative stereotypes against people practicing the religion stating that there are Muslim people building camps to kill us all.

Negative sentiments against those who practice Islam and are of Middle-Eastern or African descent cannot be traced to one source. However, for most Americans, Islamophobia (dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims) stemmed from the 9/11 attacks in 2001. And the fear of Muslims is still being propagated and perpetuated among several news organizations. With the rise of ISIS, fear-mongering has increased on several news platforms, in particular Fox News.

As journalists, we have a responsibility to report what is going on in our world. However, I believe that several news organizations have crossed the line between objective reporting and fear-mongering. Inaccurate coverage of terrorism has lead people to fear all Muslims, which is a detriment to society. Mohamed is a bright young man who has the potential to contribute something great to our country. Yet instead of embracing his talents, we assumed that because he is Muslim, he must also be a terrorist because of what we have been programmed to believe.

Facebook features keep us connected


Facebook, one of the leading social media outlets in the world, is consistently growing and expanding.

Just recently, Facebook has updated its “trending” feature. This feature can be found on the right-hand column of the home page and gives the most trending topics that aren’t only popular within the Facebook world, but across the globe.

This feature keeps the discussions on Facebook relevant, and timely. While other social media sites like Twitter, also utilize the “trending” feature, Facebook eliminates the limitations by connecting us to constantly changing information around the world.

Live updates have always been one of Facebook’s strongest features, but as Facebook continues to expand that feature, it may be the reason behind Facebook’s constant success.

To date, Facebook currently has 1.49 billion monthly users. Also, according to Facebook 2015 reports, Facebook has 968 million active daily users. Of course, websites such as Twitter and Instagram are increasingly becoming more popular for teenagers and adults in their early 20s however, Facebook continues to dominate the social media world. There are numerous factors responsible for Facebook’s success. Features that currently keep its audience engaged and connected may be the secret to that success.

Kim Kardashian offers family news


Keeping up with the media-friendly Kardashians can be very exciting and always entertaining. Kim Kardashian, with a very promiscuous past and a family are always busy with something, has some very exciting news.

Kim, who so happens to be Rapper Kane West’s wife, is pregnant again with their second child. On their television show “Keeping Up with The Kardashians,” she has announced she’s pregnant and announced the big news to the first person, her sister Khloe. But her daughter North was the first one to know technically, she added.

“It has been extremely hard to get pregnant. We’ve done little operations on my uterus. I was so close to giving up and that’s what it happened,” Kim exclaimed. “I don’t take it for granted. The fact that this is a miracle that’s happened and I’m just so blessed to be pregnant again,” said Kim.

Buzzfeed: the news of social media


The young adults of today’s generation are the ones who have grown up with the Internet and have learned how to harness its unique powers – most notably in the forms of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Inevitably, the prominence of social media in every day life has impacted the way news is communicated and shared. While it seems to be a common trend for teenagers and other young people to ignore major online news hubs such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or The Washington Post among others, this young generation of Internet users are still getting exposure to the major stories of the moment.

The accessibility of such content stems from the new-age journalistic style that has established a major presence on social media – and no news company has made a bigger name for itself with the younger generation than BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti and Kenneth Lerer, and the site’s content has since reached a global audience of more than 200 million. According to the website, it is “re-defining online advertising with its social, content-driven publishing technology” – and judging by its popularity and ubiquity across the world wide web, it is generally considered to be the face of future journalism.

When BuzzFeed first came onto my radar a year or two back, the site was best known for its “listicles” (list + articles), quizzes, clever GIFs (brief animated clips), and coverage of light-hearted material like celebrities and pop culture. I first discovered BuzzFeed through Facebook – I would constantly see my friends sharing links to funny or relatable articles with their friends, and due to the very public nature of Facebook’s stream, the same links would often be shared over and over again.

Users would acknowledge the articles on their news feed, and if feeling the same connection to it, be prompted to re-post it elsewhere. That’s how Buzzfeed has attracted so many viewers – it thrives off of traffic generated by third-party sites like Facebook and other social media outlets (Twitter), opening the floodgates to global exposure and allowing for its content to “go viral”.

What makes Buzzfeed such a successful new form of journalism is that the structure of the stories really work with social media. The pieces are often quirky, visually creative, and often take an angle that is relatable to younger generations. This obviously poses a major contrast to traditional style of news stories that you can find on the more serious news publications of today, like the ones I listed above. The types of stories that trend on Facebook aren’t wordy and academic; they’re short, fun pieces with headlines and pictures that immediately grab a user’s attention as they scroll down their newsfeed.

You might object, saying that a lot of the Buzzfeed content that goes viral isn’t really news – and yes, it’s true that a lot of it really is just silly speculation on trivial issues that are published for entertainment above anything. That may be how the site first took off, but it certainly isn’t how it’s operating today. Buzzfeed now covers all kinds of global news, whether it be on the economy, tech or politics. Scrolling down the site, one can find anything from “16 Magical Gifts All Unicorn Lovers Will Appreciate” to dispatches about the war in eastern Ukraine or terrorist attacks in Kenya.

Journalism is constantly evolving as new technologies reshape the way we communicate. I don’t know how the technological developments of the future will change the landscape of how news is shared in the coming decades, but the form of journalism that characterizes Buzzfeed is certainly redefining the kind of news we relied on in the past. In the world of print journalism, it is important to note how social media have become a platform for not just social contact between peers, but for the distribution of news as well. It will be interesting to see how this new style of journalism flourishes in the coming years and the ways in which it impacts the younger generations.

No respect so far for an all-time great


Peyton Manning is a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. After playing 18 years in the league at such an elite level, it would seem ridiculous to challenge his abilities after two weeks in which his team went 2-0, but that is exactly what is happening.

The news media climate around football is that of a feeding frenzy. Whatever hot take a media member can present, or bold prediction they can make for later on in the season will be consumed by one of the hundreds of millions of avid football fans in the United States.

This is why Peyton Manning is such a story currently. After two less-than-impressive games, many of the talking heads in the media have deemed his career over citing his decline in grip and arm strength as the main reasons.

While many media members can make a valid argument for why Peyton Manning is declining, whether it is arm strength, injuries catching up with him, or simply old age, it seems as if the media is forcing the argument.

With all this being said, here are the reasons why saying Peyton Manning is done is a bad idea:

  • He is just one year older than Tom Brady who won the Super Bowl last year using a dink and dunk passing attack very similar to Peyton Manning’s.
  • He is recovering from an injury to his quad, neck, and fingers.
  • His team is 2-0 after the first two weeks.

Peyton Manning is certainly winding down his career. But for the news media to count him out so early is a mistake that is a result of the constant hot take climate today’s media has created.

Will flu shot be effective this year?


With flu season right around the corner, the annual immunization debate has resurfaced. This season, health officials have something to prove after last year’s mishap.

According to NBC News, a new Type A strain of the flu appeared last year after vaccine doses were already brewed. This caused the vaccination to be less effective than in previous years.

Regardless of last year’s mishap, half of American’s didn’t receive the immunization anyway. Consequently, flu kills about 24,000 people a year in the United States.

Health officials have created alternative methods for receiving the vaccination besides the traditional shot, such as a nasal spray, a higher dose version for senior citizens and a needle-free injection for those who have an aversion to needles.

Although the alternative methods are accommodating, I don’t believe that they will influence an opponent of the immunization to change his mind. When it comes to immunizations, most individuals value their own opinion over that of a health official.

If health officials could prove the effectiveness and strategically market the immunization, opponents may comply. In order for health officials to strategically market the immunization, they would need to prove that the effects of the flu are dangerous and prevalent.

Hopefully, this year’s flu immunizations will protect against the new Type A strain and put a stop to 24,000 preventable deaths.

Can a woman become president?


Would Hillary make a good president? Who is her strongest opponent in the presidential race? Can a woman even be a good president?

The elderly and wise say that if a woman manages her own household, well, then she can handle anything in life. Meaning, a woman can definitely make a promising leader. Great examples of successful women leaders are Veronica Bachelet, president of Chile, and Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany. However, the opposite is true in regards to Dilma Rouseff, president of Brazil, and Cristina Kirchner, president of Argentina. Both are facing serious corruption scandals and leave questions.

So, how would Hillary face such problems? Would she be ready to face the comments about her husband’s infidelity during her campaign? How would she deal with terrorism? Would she act cold-blooded and put emotions aside or would she negotiate with terrorists?

Some believe that a woman’s more emotional nature could affect her decision making.

Now, let’s remember. Hillary Clinton ran for presidency once before and there is no doubt that her failures and the experience she gained from them will only help her now. She knows that if she doesn’t win this time, it won’t happen. As a mother and grandmother, she has said that she wishes every child in the country the same possibilities of success her granddaughter will have.

Lastly, Bill Clinton’s presidency worked well not only due to his friendliness and good use of the press, but also because of his wife’s contributions. I am sure many Americans have tons of questions and wonder what it would be like for a woman to run this nation. For now, we can only sit back and wait to see what happens.

“When families are strong, America is strong,” — Hillary Clinton.

Social media enhance cultural activism


Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim, was handcuffed and arrested on Monday for taking his homemade alarm clock to school in Dallas.

Claiming that “it wasn’t immediately evident that Ahmed’s clock was a class experiment”, police officers and Ahmed’s English teacher accused him of terrorism for creating what they thought was a fake bomb.

Besides revealing the evident Islamophobia that prevails in many people’s judgments of Muslims in America, this incident also reveals how social media are used as a powerful platform geared towards social chance and activism.Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 4.58.12 PM

Within one day after the incident, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg and thousands of others immediately showed support for Ahmed and expressed their indignation towards the negative stereotypes and racism that greatly occur in our contemporary society.

More than 100,000 tweets and the hash tags #IStandWithAhmed and #engineersforahmed were trending worldwide by Tuesday morning as well as the school’s Facebook page was filled with criticism.

Seeing this, not only in Ahmed’s case but also in many others related to racism, social media have proven to be one of the greatest platforms to promote justice and equality. And, despite the negative aspects and controversial ideas that may also rise among its users, social media can and have been used for a greater good.

As controversial as it may seem, one can’t deny that in many current cases social media has been crucial in promoting social equality and bringing people together.

Kardashians take over app world


Kardashian and Jenner sisters, Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie, have launched individual lifestyle iOS apps and brand new websites. As of Sept. 14 fans get a deeper look of behind the scenes content and tips that correspond to each of the sisters’ passions.


Above and below, a look inside Kylie Jenner’s app.

Fans lives will immediately be Kardashified once they download the app. The first seven days are free with a subscription for $2.99 per month. Fans get total access to live streaming videos, beauty tutorials, motherhood tips, workout routines and the ability to purchase similar outfits for cheaper prices.

The “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” stars introduce each of their sites with a unique short video. In Kim’s, the star says, “Hey guys, it’s Kim. My new app is full of so many amazing new features I can’t wait for you to see. There are makeup tutorials with members of my glam team, exclusive behind the scenes videos, and never-before-seen photos of me, my friends and family. I’ll also be able to live stream and answer all your questions, and there’ll be lots of fun fashion and beauty content. I can’t wait to see you soon!”

IMG_3461The Kardashian and Jenner social media domination continues. The sisters even gave a tech talk at the Apple Store in New York City’s Soho on Monday, Sept. 14.. In the midst of Fashion Week, the sisters shared advice on running social media accounts and talked about their individual projects.

Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TV and the tabloids are already filled with Kardashian related content, get ready to see how Kris Jenner and the apps produced by Whalerock Industries will set aside from what’s already out there.

As of Sept. 15, Kylie’s app landed the No. 1 among all free apps.


Media focus on same-sex marriages


In the United States, same-sex marriages has become legal nationwide since June 26, 2015. In some areas, however, it’s still unaccepted. Kim Davis, who’s a county clerk in Kentucky, stands her ground about same-sex marriages. Davis was earlier arrested for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because of her religious objection.

The issue has become a major national news media story, with coverage from all angles. Journalists have gone to cover Davis in Kentucky, have looked at legal issues from the perspective of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., and have gone on the campaign trail to talk to candidates for president about the issue. The coverage during the past several weeks has brought this social issue to the top of the public agenda.

Regardless of all the attention, same sex marriages should not be anyone’s issue but the couple’s regardless of the situation Davis has with her religion it shall not matter what her belief is, because her beliefs may not seem accurate to someone else. Now in society things are different.

Davis returned back to work and as she arrived she was greeted by a lot of television cameras and escorted by state police officers as she approached the crowed with a speech she prepared.

“I am no hero,” she stated. “I’m just a person that’s been transformed by the grace of God, who wants to work, be with my family. I just want to serve my neighbors quietly without violating my conscience.”

Social media change NYFW coverage


New York Fashion Week runs from Sept. 10 through 17, setting the style precedent for the upcoming season with international designer shows of Spring/Summer 2016 collections.

New York Fashion Week is one of the most coveted events to attend by young women and socialites alike. Celebrities like Jessica Alba, Steven Tyler, Julia Roberts and Kylie Jenner attend the star-studded event to watch famous models walk the runway, showcasing new trends from designers like Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Diane Von Furstenburg and Carolina Herrera.

NYFW’s website streams the fashion shows in real time, beginning at 11 a.m., while also providing links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. The great variety of social media coverage has revolutionized the way Fashion Week is covered. Hashtags #NYFW, #MBFW or “hashtag-ing” the designer’s name, provides a categorical expanse of fashion week happenings. Snapchat, a video messaging application, now has its own story attributed to Fashion Week, allowing those who access the app to conveniently view coverage. Celebrities and fashion icons tweet in real time what they see onstage and backstage.

The viewer stress to provide real time content is changing the way journalists report on fashion week. As social media are the easiest and most efficient platform for this raw coverage, it is now the norm. The emphasis on backstage and behind the scenes coverage is made possible by social media, as it is easier to report quickly by snapping a photo on a phone and uploading it straight to Twitter, along with a caption and appropriate hashtags.

In past years, The Wall Street Journal did not cover Fashion Week in real time, but instead wrote and published stories prior to Fashion Week; after Fashion Week, editors would publish articles around the time the collections would reach stores.

The growing demand to view raw visual content such as backstage production, has coupled with increased methods of social media coverage. Journalists are now obliged to use many forms of social media to make Fashion Week more viewable by all.

NYFW through eyes of social media


New York Fashion Week 2015 is in full swing and social media has been heating up with the latest coverage. Now more than ever, viewers get an inside look into the ins and outs of Fashion Week through social media outlets such as Instagram and Snapchat. It was a huge advance when shows started to be filmed live on YouTube a few years ago, but now we can see fashion week from every angle.

From behind-the-scenes footage, designers talking directly to viewers, models interacting, and the shows themselves. Through these social media outlets we are able to be a part of a global event that is normally closed off for A-list celebrities and fashions elite. Fashion houses use their social media platforms to promote their shows, get their name out there to be the best of the best.

Fashion brands rely heavily on their social media status to connect with customers, designers, buyers, and fashion media. The more publicity they receive on these media platforms the better. Numerous designers are finding ways to incorporate Instagram to their shows, which their calling Insta-Show, which involves fashion influencers to take snapshots of the collection and post them to their social media accounts rather than conduct a runway show.

The latest major story to hit social media was the opening ceremony’s dance performance runway. Throughout my Insta feed everyone was posting videos of the performance giving it rave reviews. Without this coverage we wouldn’t have been able to see this and be apart of the show itself. I can’t wait to continue to see what new advancement will be next for New York Fashion Week coverage.

3,200 rescuers diagnosed with cancer


Nick Schiralli barely escaped death 14 years ago because he was late for work that day. Astoundingly, 14 years later, the 68-year-old is suffering from a disease after inhaling 9/11 fumes.

The latest official data show that more than 3,200 cops, firefighters and New York City workers have been diagnosed with cancer. The number is still rising and the residents are excluded from this number. After the disaster, it still hasn’t stopped taking away innocent lives.

On Sept. 17, 2001, six days after 9/11 took place, President George W. Bush and the New York government were eager to prove that they had not been overtaken by the terrorists. They issued a notice to the public that everything was under control and would return to normal soon. In order to appease and persuade the public, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Safety and Health Commission and the other departments endorsed “the air is safe to breathe; the water is safe to drink.”

Questioning usually comes after the rescuing. But after the 9/11 attacks, the American media and public opinion, who ordinarily criticize the government, became silent. A large number of television programs promoted the dedication and patriotism of the government, police, and the military, and rarely had a questioning voice.

Juan Gonzalez was the famous senior reporter, who dared to challenge the authority, but his questioning did not get much response. The environmental protection departments published data showing the air was “ within the security metrics” to stop criticism, but then people became affected and the public began to question: What is that irritating smell in the air? What is the substance that makes the fire continue to burn? Are there any toxic substances? However, the data released by the US government was still showing a safe and clear air quality and in order to prevent more questions from the press, the Environmental Protection Agency held an undisclosed press conference.

9/11 has always been a sensitive topic, but the fact is, the number of victims are still rising. In recent years, most of the mainstream media began to report the related issues and to pressure the government: the government should give an impartial explanation to the heroes and the victims of  9/11.

Third-wave feminism and human rights


Feminism was implemented into my life the day I was born. My grandmother, an eccentric, liberal, go-getter, always assured me to feel empowered, feel important and feel unashamed to be a woman. My grandfather, a hometown hero, state title holding high school football coach, was the most pro-woman man I had ever met. He encouraged me to pursue a career in journalism and he backed my cousin to follow a political path, he always taught us to fight for what was right and never to fall short of “the man.” Although women were not accurately represented throughout history, they were the backbone of the world.

Third-wave feminism was the byproduct of second-wave feminism after negative backlash from the movement in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Third-wave feminism is equality. It focuses on eradicating stereotypes and gender roles for both men and women, on the LGBTQ community in addition to women of all races. Intersectionality is a major concept of third-wave feminism, it opens doors to rights, support and empowerment to all women, not just white, cis-gender women.

A feminism that does not support intersectional equality is hypocritical; if there is a fight for equality it must be universal. Third-wave feminism challenges modern conflicts. It fights for equal job opportunities, equal pay for equal work, equal education and equal rights. It’s not a man-hating movement, it is quite the opposite. This feminism aims to eliminate the patriarchy which ultimately hurts self-actualization for men. It encourages men not to follow patriarchal values such as “men cannot cry,” “men have to provide for their family,” “men have to be strong and tough.” When these values are demolished, it gives women the opportunity not to feel inferior by the negative connotations of “throw like a girl.”
Feminism today is enormous, it’s growing rapidly.

As Gloria Steinem has said, “Feminism is the only movement that gets stronger with age.” As a society we are finally acknowledging that rape is real and that it is not ok.  I didn’t find third-wave feminism until college, apparently I grew up believing these values were basic human rights. Third-wave feminism is much more complex and broad. If society would adopt some of these core values women and men would feel much safer and appreciated.

Camerawoman kicks fleeing refugees


As the refugee crisis in Europe continues to gain attention in the international and national news, a Hungarian camerawoman has also entered in the spotlight for her cruel actions captured on camera.

At a relocation camp in Roske, Hungary (near the Hungarian-Serbian border), hundreds of migrants, frustrated with conditions of the camp, pushed through police lines attempting to cross the border into Serbia.

As crowds of migrants began fleeing the police, a Hungarian camerawoman, identified as Petra Laszlo, began intentionally kicking and tripping people. The first video to emerge displayed Laszlo tripping a man as he ran while carrying his child. After being tripped, the man fell unto the ground and on top of his child. All the while, Laszlo recorded the entire thing.

Soon after the first, a second video emerged capturing Laszlo forcefully kick a young woman and other men as they fled from police.

U.S. news organizations picked up the story after videos and pictures of Laszlo’s behavior had been circulated through social media.

After reaching national and international news coverage, Laszlo’s employer, N1TV issued a statement denouncing Laszlo’s behavior as unacceptable and that her employment had been terminated.

Laszlo’s actions elicited anger and disappointment from social media users all around the world, which is completely understandable and expected.

After watching the videos and watching the coverage on the news, I was also outraged at her behavior. But now, the only thing I would like to know is why?

Why did Laszlo begin kicking and tripping people? In the first video, where Laszlo trips the man carrying his child, she makes sure to aim the camera directly on the man and his child as she trips them and as they fall to the ground.

This leads me to wonder if Laszlo did all of this just to create the “perfect shot.” Some reporters have been known to “stretch the truth” or flat-out lie to make a story seem more exciting or dangerous. The acts of sensationalizing stories and fear mongering the public are all too common in news today.

Although unfair, Laszlo’s actions reflected poorly on every professional in the journalism industry. From this point on, any video coverage of the migrant crisis in Europe will be viewed with a critical and eye from the public.

Sensationalism of 9/11 video coverage


Today marks the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, an event that changed America in so many ways – with news coverage being one of them.

The live coverage of the jets hitting the World Trade Center in New York City exposed millions of Americans to the horror that was happening, in real time, during the terrorist attack. News networks did not have time to plan a way to present the footage in any scripted manner; it didn’t matter if you were the anchorman of NBC or a stay-at-home mother watching the TV in her kitchen as she made her children breakfast. We were all faced with a crisis, and we were all able to see it unfold before our eyes – and that’s the kind of sensationalism that has impacted news coverage and shaped the way viewers react and commemorate certain events in the past 14 years.

Certainly the 9/11 attacks would still be a landmark event in American history, regardless if they had been caught on camera or not. However, the sensational – and horrifying — footage had so many immediate implications on the nation, both for the viewers and the media.

In the days after the attacks, David Westin, president of ABC News, ordered the the video not be repeated continuously so as not to disturb viewers, especially children. This type of decision raises the ethical question that journalists have been faced with time and time again, about where to draw the line in terms of how much we expose to the public. This applies to not only disturbing content, but content that threatens national security – which also became a major issue in the aftermath of 9/11, which I won’t get into here.

But where is that line? There is no definitive answer, but most would agree that even if coverage is shocking and violent, the viewer has the right to see it. In cases like 9/11, there really is no warning for such a catastrophe, and in live situations, there really is no opportunity for such a question to even be considered. In fact, in the past week or so, the nation has been abuzz about the live coverage of the shooting of two journalists by their former co-worker while broadcasting for WDBJ. The entire event was caught on camera and aired live without warning. And that coverage – that immediate visual access to the gruesome tragedy – completely changed the way the news was handled and perceived. The live video element of the story created a sensational wake following the incident that has sparked debate about the nation’s gun laws and other security issues. People are shot and killed every hour of the day throughout the world; but it was the live coverage of the event that made this one particular incident so sensational.

In this day and age, the landscape for journalism is constantly evolving with the developments of new technologies that give way to new platforms of communication. Video footage has been the leading form of journalism that has created lasting reaction in the past decades, and with technologies like smart phones and online platforms like social media, content has become immediately accessible to almost everyone. The footage of the 9/11 attacks that was recorded 14 years ago today is a landmark for broadcast journalism to show just how lasting the impact of visual news coverage can be.

Mr. Untouchable back at work


Sept. 10, 2015, marked the start of the NFL regular season with a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.

As an avid football fan, this was music to my ears, but still something was unsettling.

The big story in the NFL offseason was the Deflategate scandal where the Patriots were accused of playing against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game with intentionally deflated footballs so that they would be easier to catch and throw. Most importantly however, Tom Brady was presumed to be aware of the cheating in some form or another.

Add this on to the growing list of suspect behavior for the Patriots in the last decade and suddenly there are questions that need to be answered.

Why does Tom Brady get a pass from the general public for his involvement in scandal after scandal?

Tom Brady is a great quarterback, arguably the greatest of all time. He is an inspiration for the underdog, a source of pride for kids being overlooked all across the country, but it is undeserved.

Brady has been involved in scandals throughout his storied career. Most recently and notably Spygate and Deflategate have demonstrated that the Patriots organization is about winning at all costs even if it means ruining the integrity of the game. Yet somehow, through all these scandals, Tom Brady remains unscathed. Still Brady is looked at as Mr. All-American, and still he is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

Tom Brady goes to show that the American public loves a winner. The Boston Brady fanatics are some of the most loyal in the world, and as long as Brady keeps winning championships, he will always have a place in America’s heart.

‘Insta-famous’ offers major social capital


According to CNN, Taylor Swift recently surpassed Kim Kardashian West as the most followed user on Instagram. Swift now has 45.9 million followers while Kardashian West trails behind with a mere 45.7 million followers.

Instagram, a mobile photo-sharing app, first began in 2010 and was acquired by Facebook in 2012.

In today’s increasingly visual society, social media popularity now correlates to social capital. This correlation gives celebrities the opportunity to give their fans access into their private lives to benefit their popularity.

Taylor Swift’s goofy personality shines through her Instagram. Her feed frequently features her cats, her notorious celebrity girl crew, and plenty of knit sweaters. Kardashian West, on the other hand, portrays a more glamorous image, featuring mostly an assortment of selfies and family photos.

Both celebrities have strategically created a brand that consumers are actively following. Companies are actively following too.

Online endorsements have become the ultimate marketing move for makeup brands, clothing brands, and even food brands. Celebrities are now serving as the middleman between the brands and the general public.

Since celebrities have an active online following that can be accessed immediately, it makes sense that their virtual popularity would correlate into real life.

Nowadays, social capital is tracked by number of followers and number of likes per photo on Instagram.

China puts military on display for media


Sept. 3, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was the spotlight of a lavish parade to commemorate Japan’s defeat in World War II 70 years ago.

There was no shortage of firepower on display, including upgraded machinery and previously unseen missiles. China’s growing military power is being keenly watched amid regional tensions. Unexpectedly, President Xi Jinping made an announcement in the beginning of the display that China would cut 300,000 troops from the 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army.

This announcement went top on Chinese most popular searching engines. Chinese state-run newspaper invited analysts to explore more on this message President Xi delivered, and so did some western media who also asked think tanks to analyze what the action will actually bring about.

Personally, I think the cutting troops is a way to showcase that China’s determination of peaceful development though cutting troops is not necessarily translated into cutting military expenses. Especially in this high-tech era, military power has nothing to do with the total amount of soldiers. It is how advanced that technology applied to weaponry matters. Nevertheless, the announcement impressed the public that, at least, China is willing to be a peaceful developing country, rather than a threatening country purposely wage conflicts.

Besides, I think the message to cut troops can be treated as a signal to neighboring countries that keep having frictions with China over the last a few years. China always have several territory issues with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Sometimes the tension between China and these countries gets intense, even on the verge of war. The military parade indicated Chinese military power, and at the same time, troops’ cutting information showed that China has no intention to resort to wars to solve problems. The military parade and the troops’ cutting announcement combined, conveys an attitude that concessive in form, but aggressive in essence. That is, China owns the capability of solving problems depending on military power, but it voluntarily refuses to do that.

Freddie Gray: The $6.4 million question


The family of Freddie Gray, 24, a man who died of severe injuries in the back of a police van during transport in Baltimore, has been awarded $6.4 million in a wrongful death settlement.

That’s $6.4 million, just so Gray’s family and the city of Baltimore can just put the matter behind them, said the lawyer of Freddie Gray.

What isn’t being answered is what happened in the back of that police van. How is it possible for a handcuffed man, who sustained severe injuries after being arrested, to die of a traumatic head and back injury?

The city of Baltimore police department has a strict protocol to follow in regards to detainees. In fact, the police protocol specifically outlines safety restraints in transport vans, one of those being that the “detainee is secured with a seatbelt or restraining device.”

Unfortunately, questions like these regarding Freddie Gray will never have answers.

Currently, six of the officers that contributed to the death of Freddie Gray must stay in the city of Baltimore, after the defense failed to prove that the six arresting officers wouldn’t receive a fair trial.

As the mystery of Freddie Gray grows, it is imperative for the trial to determine whether or not the six arresting officers are guilty of murdering Freedie Gray, and if, in fact, the officers did kill Freddie Gray, the questions that should be answered are “how,” and “why.”