Opioid deaths continue to rise


Opioids, which are among the deadliest drugs in American history, continue to concern public health officials, as the number of drug-related American deaths rise.

An opioid is a drug derived from opium, which is a narcotic that has served as a base to produce other drugs with similar “pain reducing” effects like heroine and morphine.

Approximately two million Americans have a problem with opioids. Although it is a necessary medical advancement because of its continual aid for chronic pain and cancer patients; it is also a highly addictive drug that has increased the amount of deaths in the past years.

The problem began in the 1980s, when scholarly articles, which were popular among doctors, began easing the fear of prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Its effectiveness among patients began an uprising demand for pain killers. By the 1990s the pharmaceutical companies caught on. Shortly after, they began marketing drugs of this type and helped the industry for pharmaceutical narcotics grow.

Among the contributors to these fatalities is Fentanyl, a synthetic, cheaper, and more potent version of the narcotic, that has become more popular among drug users in the recent years.

According to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, “Heroin has become much cheaper in recent years as the supply in the United States has grown.”

Residents are becoming concerned about the high number of overdoses, especially in places with a more common vulnerability to drugs, like The Bronx, in New York City.

“Especially in the South Bronx, you have so many people in housing who overdose, says The Bronx native Terrell Jones.

This is not only a social issue in The Bronx, but also among areas where drugs are easily accessible. People are overdosing by the numbers and it seems to see no end.

Digital changes news consumption


This week, we are discussing in class how to create news stories that make use of media. Learning this skills is a new way to use technology tools to the journalist’s advantage incorporating more and new information to our online pieces. It is not only a way to make what we are writing about more visual, but it is also what catches “the eyeballs” of our consumers nowadays.

Digital content is the journalist’s last spicy touch to each of his stories, what makes the whole recipe complete. It is the pictures, videos and social media that sometimes make the articles are more appealing for people, especially younger generations.

The Internet and ,more recently, social media have been shaping the news landscape in many ways. People currently consume news and receive information in strikingly different ways than previous generations. The paths to a discovery of information are more nuanced and varied, one click away in a variety of devices.

News stories are woven into ways readers are connected to the world generally, mixing it with social connection, social action, and entertainment. Social media have also evolved a lot, now it’s about a lot of sharing articles, sharing of videos, sharing campaigns, and so forth. These companies are exposing users to more news than they initially would search for, making this mix of random and intentional learning greater.

Despite the fact that there is a lot of controversy and opinions on which news consumption method is the best and why I think one of the strongest points of getting your news from social media is the immediateness.

I spent last summer in Venezuela, where most of the news media outlets are owned by the government or they are banned. CNN in Spanish vanished from the channel list among many other channels that informed and reported the truth of the situation in the country. The only way people could get another point of view was through YouTube and more information about protests and attacks through Twitter. It is a really extreme example because Venezuelans are living in a dictatorship. However, is a different example of how a population can use social media for news consumption.

Trump blasted by widow of soldier


Donald Trump continued to make headlines this week after speaking on the phone with the widow of a soldier who was killed in action. Sgt. La David T. Johnson was one of four Americans killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. As is customary for the commander-in-chief, Trump contacted Sgt. Johnson’s widow and spoke at length with her.

Listening to the call were Sgt. Johnson’s mother, and Democratic Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson of South Florida. Sgt. Johnson’s mother accused Trump of saying that he “knew what he signed up for,” and only referenced him as “your guy.” Trump denied these claims, insisting that the entire story was “fabricated” in pursuit of her politics.

Due to the emotional nature of the issue, it was a very complex story for the media to handle adequately, and in analyzing the work by news organizations, it is clear that decisions were handled with care. Maintaining impartiality was key, especially since the majority of the story rests solely on accusations. The New York Times, for example, made sure that the sources were the ones making the claims, while the narrative of the reporters was more focused on connecting the dots between them.

Balanced reporting, especially in the era of fake news and the constant attacks on the media by the Trump administration, is very important. The New York Times ran a piece about the issues other presidents have faced in reaching out to families in this similar situation. This allowed their organization to remain neutral, and to offer a look into the other side, and examine the complex issues involved through multiple perspectives.

On a much more humorous note, The Times chose to refer to the complex aftermath of the accusations as an “imbroglio” in the title of their online story, a word so incredibly articulate and yet completely obscure that I could not help but chuckle.

Kid Rock considers run for Senate


Songwriter and singer Kid Rock expressed interest in running for political office on Wednesday.

“I have had a ton of emails and texts asking me if this website is real … http://kidrockforsenate.com The answer is an absolute YES,” he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

In another tweet, the Michigan native said, “I will have a major announcement in the near future.”

The website Kid Rock referred to in his tweet features a photo of the 46-year-old wearing a hat, aviator sunglasses and a leather jacket. The website has a logo that reads “Kid Rock ’18 For US Senate.”  There is also sales of stickers, shirts, lawn signs and caps that say “Kid Rock for US Senate.”

The artist has been speculated to be a potential opponent for Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, who is up for re-election next year.

A supporter of President Donald Trump, Kid Rock performed at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“I’ll bet you he would generate as much excitement as Trump did,” said Wes Nakagiri, a Michigan Tea Party activist.

Considering that the media will do anything for an intriging story nowadays, Nakagiri is probably right.

Similar to President Trump, Kid Rock is a controversial figure.  He enjoys swearing and bashing groups of people that he is against.  In response to the uprising of white supremacists he said, “Nazis. F—ing bigots. And now again the KKK? I say F— all you racists. Stay the hell away.”

I believe that if the news media gives Kid Rock the immense amount of attention that President Trump was able to receive during the election cycle, he will easily be able to win the senate seat.

What reporters seem to be unable to understand is that negative news media attention does not necessarily hurt a candidate.  In fact, in can actually help a candidate by getting his name out to more people. Trump had a much greater amount of news media attention than Hillary Clinton. The fact that a lot of it was negative did not prevent him from winning.

Many other celebrities such as Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg, Dwayne Johnson and Oprah Winfrey have been talking about running for public office as well.  If the news media decides to give all of these people coverage, they too are not far from the White House.

A 2020 presidential election with Kid Rock on the Republican ticket and Kayne West on the Democratic ticket is not something that far out of reach.

Free college tuition okayed in California


Last Friday, California became the latest state to help students reduce their college costs. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill that will allow students in public colleges to have free tuition for their first year of college, creating the “California College Promise.” This bill is different and more forward then the other few free college plans in the United States.

California already had one of the most affordable tuitions in public colleges in the nation.  Since 1986, low-income students had to pay a $5 fee per credit and other residents $46  per credit. The new bill is expanded to all students, not just the ones with low income, allowing all residents to have a free first year of classes. But it does offer money to students with who cannot afford to pay for additional expenses.

There are 114 community colleges in California. This is supposed to encourage enrollment and higher education. This will make the idea of college not just an option to many people.

Other additions that make this bill so forward-thinking is the fact that the plan is not just applicable for students who finished high school, every resident of any age is eligible.

What also makes it unlike other plans in other states, is the fact that you do not need to be a full- time student, which means you do not have to pursue a degree and you can apply for just one class if you want.

The plan requires the students to be residents and they must be in their first year of college.  No matter how old you are, if it’s your first time on campus you are eligible for a free year.

The number of students that will be eligible for the waiver is estimated to be 19,000 per year, which means that it will cost the state around $31 million per year. Of course, if more people will enroll in the plan it will cost taxpayers more.

The plan includes the payment for classes, but for many, it will not include other college fees, such as health insurance, Internet, books, place of residence and more. College books can be very expensive but making the cost of classes free will help students pursue their careers.

Different articles reported different dates concerning the time in which the plan will come into effect. Some reported fall 2018, but others admitted in lacking the certainty of when the bill will come into effect, as at the current moment, the state funding is still lacking.

The “California College Promise” is a very appealing plan and it encourages many futures but it will simultaneously require a decent amount of tax money to come into effect. Reports and news articles fail to talk about what taxpayers think about this bill.

The response of residents to the plan should be reported, especially because, in recent months there has been damage in the state caused by wildfires. These fires have not been extinguished yet and continue to damage areas.  Forty thousand people were evacuated and 5,700 buildings were destroyed, including homes and businesses. This natural tragedy is bound to have an impact on California’s state funding.  Reports should take into consideration the recent events and their impact on residents and taxes and the effect on the progress of the bill, if any.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ banned … again


The Biloxi School District of Mississippi has chosen to remove the controversial “To Kill a Mockingbird” novel from the eighth grade curriculum. The move was done after the county received complaints about the book’s language being uncomfortable and inappropriate for a classroom setting.

In response, several acclaimed writers and literature enthusiasts took to Twitter to express their disdain. They upheld that the book’s primary purpose was to make the reader uncomfortable: only then would the book’s setting and culture (1930s in the deep south of the United States) be significant and impactful. Quotes supporting this idea include:

“If to Kill a Mockingbird makes you uncomfortable you may want to contemplate your life & search your soul.” (@marybschneider)

“If To Kill a Mockingbird makes you uncomfortable, you are the target audience” (@WIBC_StanLehr)

“If we are going to solve the racial problems we have in our county now, we have to confront the truth of how we got to where we are.” (Barbara Shoup, novelist)

USA Today did well to cover both the event and the outcry over it on Twitter. Its coverage provided details of the event and the book’s controversial history, for those unaware that the book had been banned before. They also gave a basic synopsis of the book and why it was unsettling to some, which was a good transition to the public response to this kind of reaction.

The Twitter outcry provided good insight as to why many believe the book is important and should be taught in schools, so including a variety of tweets in the story was wise of the USA Today writer (Shari Rudavsky). It gave readers a decent understanding of the other side of the debate, providing them with plenty of room to form their own opinion on the complicated matter.

Berlin soccer teams kneel before match


NFL players have been kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest discrimination but now the movement has gone worldwide.

During Hertha Berlin’s home game against Schalke 04, the starting players on the field, coaches, officials and substitutes all took in a knee in unity with the NFL players.

The soccer club team took to Twitter with a picture of the players kneeling and the caption “Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore! #TakeAKnee #hahohe”

Sebastian Langkamp, Hertha defender, told a reporter during halftime, “We’re no longer living in the 18th century but in the 21st century. There are some people, however, who are not that far ideologically yet.”

Through the power of social media, this story has gone viral. Hertha’s tweet has received more than 13,000 retweets and counting. This shows how powerful Twitter is in distributing news and information, as well as all other social media platforms today.

Behind the Weinstein story coverage


This week, one of the most popular news reports is about Harvey Weinstein. One of the richest, most famous and influential film producers of the 20th century has been accused of sexual assault for more than 30 years.

The Weinstein Company fired Weinstein, its co-founder, on Sunday after The New York Times released an investigation uncovering multiple allegations confirming he had engaged in sexual harassment. For decades, the producer was paying off sexual harassment accusers.

There is extensive coverage of the whole topic by The New York Times. The allegations uncovered by the newspaper came from actresses as well as former employees of the Weinstein Company and Miramax, the previous company that Weinstein and his brother founded. This list includes Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette (Pulp Fiction) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma.)

What is most interesting from the article to me, aside from the stories of these brave women and the amazing portraits that illustrate them, is the fact that the newspaper was dealing with a stunning blow to a huge producer. A personality who is known for defining American film and supporting liberal causes. The dilemma: Should we be the first ones to speak up and tell the story? To publish or not to publish.

Even though his alleged behavior became something like a Hollywood open secret and a public rumor, do we think that some of these women would have spoken up if The Times didn’t publish the story? I think that once again, as many of the decisions journalists need to make every day, the issue lies in a matter of principles. So what is our duty as communicators?

A journalist needs to make moral decisions day by day. If we take a look at the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics we realize there are some principles every professional communication needs to practice.

As the SPJ mentions in its statement, that “ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.” However, what is its limitations of the code and who states them?

Certainly, the story on Harvey Weinstein was a tremendous “risk” worth taken. Although it is difficult to release a shocking article on someone that famous and influential, the duty of a journalist is to report the truth to the public.

The other battle for independence


Catalonia voted for its independence on Oct. 1. The called “referendum” was held illegally. Independence politicians sought refuge under the made up “right to decide” to accomplish the voting.

After ignoring the orders of the government to not hold the query because it was against the Constitution and disobeying the judgment of the Court, the first Sunday of October everything was ready in Catalonia for the referendum.

The government replied sending hundreds of police officers and Civil Guards. Their only goal was to close peacefully every school where people could vote. Because the local police (Mossos d’Esquadra), under the orders of Catalonia’s government, didn’t obey to Spanish government.

When the polling day was about to start, the Catalonia’s government announced that the requisites changed: Universal suffrage and people could vote with a ballot paper printed at home. The computer system for vote counting failed, because the Spanish government locked the Web site. So, people could vote more than once, because all the control measures were write down the ID number on a sheet. Likewise, people from other parts of Spain with a Spanish ID could vote.

While this fraud was happening, the police were trying to close every polling place. The order was to do it peacefully, but, in some places, independence citizens opposed and the provocations started. The eviction that had to be peaceful became a battle with violence of both sides.

The Catalonia’s government found in this violence an opportunity to give visibility to its referendum and deflect attention from the referendum’s problems. So, they reached their goal and international news media focused on the violence.

National and international news media published photos of individuals wounded by the police, finding them on social media platforms such as Twitter. But soon, other Twitter accounts, started to determine that some photos were fake or didn’t occur on that date.

So, we could see some news media didn’t fact-check the information and the consequences were horrible for the Spanish conflict. For the world, the police was demonized, the Spanish government appeared guilty, the Catalan government was the victim, and people around the world criticized Spaniards.

Days later, other news media revealed how some photos were edited, some of the images of  injured people belonged to 2012 protest march when Mossos d’Esquadra beat demonstrators, and to other conflicts in other places around the world. Other photos were real, but the story behind them was false. Thus, the international opinion started to change again in favor of Spanish government.

In the same conflict, we could see two different practices, one right and one wrong, and how it affects public opinion, even at international level. In journalism, it’s not just about ethics, it’s about having a responsibility with the world and the society.

Some of the corrections that news media have published belong to the Twitter account @malditobulo and here are some examples:

This two wounded are attributed to the police charges during the first day of October.

But this photo is from 2012, in a manifestation of miners.

This other belongs to a manifestation in 2012 in Barcelona, when Mossos d’Esquadra charged against the demonstrators.

In the video, an independence citizen tells how Police has broken her fingers one by one.

Days later, she recognized that she had made up the story. This is one of the stories that media have covered the most.

Eminem speaks out against Trump


Rapper Eminem expressed his distaste for Donald Trump, during a four and a half-minute cypher Tuesday night at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

As part of the BET Hip Hop Awards, every year an array of rappers are selected to perform a freestyle cypher. Usually the selected rappers are those who are up and coming, but this year veteran rapper Eminem used the platform as a way to address the recent actions of Trump.

Titled “The Storm,” Eminem covered a range of topics from racism, hypocrisy and the disrespect of military veterans. Eminem also name drops Colin Kaepernick, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He also calls out his own fans and supporters of Trump, asking which one do fans like more: Eminem or Trump.

Since the release of “The Storm,” the rap has been streamed more than 2.1 million times, and flooded by critics on Twitter. Colin Kaepernick also responded on twitter in support of the rap, along with LeBron James and fellow rapper J. Cole.

Late-night hosts Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and James Corden all opened their Wednesday night monologues with the same statement for viewers: it’s time to choose.

However there has been minor back-lashed as many fans have commented that if this was a black rapper speaking out, there would not be this much momentum.

Either way multiple news media outlets have picked up the story, including The New York Times and CNN. Many outlets praised Eminem for speaking out and encouraged others to do the same.

Disaster toll in California rises


A total of 31 people have died amid the devastating wildfires wreaking havoc across California. While this story hasn’t quite been dominating the news cycle, a candid, somber moment did occur on Fox News’ morning broadcast America’s Newsroom.

A California woman recounted to reporters the horrifying final phone call she had with her mother. The woman held a “missing” poster of her mother up to the camera as she fought back tears and told reporters how her mother called her crying, trapped in her house and surrounded by flames.

Her mother told her “I’m going to die in here.” The woman hoped bringing attention to her missing mother on television would find her sooner and safely. The package ended and unfortunately host Bill Huemmer concluded that the mother’s remains were found that night.

The tragic milestone of 31 deaths that California hit makes this year’s wildfires some of the deadliest in history. Figures like these are thrown at the viewer frequently with stories like this one, yet can often be overlooked because of the seemingly commonplace nature of the disasters.

America’s Newsroom, however, made this report more than just a story. The wildfires became more than a mere news segment. This interview hit home. It made the tragedy in California real for myself, a viewer on the other coast otherwise entirely unaffiliated with the fires.

The segment was powerful due to the interviewee’s horrific story of her last conversation with her mother. She endured a living nightmare and her tale made me realize how severe this is.

In an age where violence and tragedy dominates the news cycle and numbs the viewer to the reality the worst that the world can offer, America’s Newsroom made an impact with their coverage and focus on the severity of the situation, and the people involved — because they are what matters most.

Power comes from many voices


Hollywood scandals are nothing new. In today’s society, the attitude of people quickly calling anything “corrupt” is on the rise, and Hollywood has been the subject for conversation about corruption for years.

It seems that every few weeks, a new case of an alleged sexual harassment by news media executives seems to surface. As these stories develop, more people come forward to speak out about their alleged abusers – sometimes exposing misconduct from years in the past.

This has never been more relevant than recently. As seen through the Harvey Weinstein allegations, new platforms allow people to come forward without fear.

The news media have been following the Harvey Weinstein story almost nonstop since the initial announcement. Since the original claim of misconduct by the Hollywood film mogul, many people have come forward describing how they were abused by Weinstein, and many have condemned his actions.

But the media has done something else that wasn’t possible in the past that helps victims expose their abusers and hold them accountable – everyone is able to join the conversation. This open coverage gives people from all backgrounds, everyone from Hollywood A-listers to interns, the ability to enter a “safe-space” online and on-air to share their experiences and have a community to help them through their situation.

The news media have helped victims tell their stories and connect appropriate people to condemn abusers’ actions. A few major actions have influenced this change: social media, more focus on entertainment and opinion TV and the openness of society to engage with strangers.

This engagement can range anywhere from random arguments to a complete support system by a set of strangers. Because of this type of new media and focuses within the media, there are more opportunities to share and expose stories that may have traditionally been kept “behind closed doors.”

New exec order issued on healthcare


This Thursday, President Trump signed a new executive order that could mean big changes for the nation’s healthcare system.

The order lays the groundwork for cheaper health insurance plans with fewer benefits to enter the marketplace. These new products may be exempt from certain regulations laid out by the Affordable Care Act, a factor that is already sparking heated debate in Congress.

According to President Trump and other prominent Republican lawmakers such as Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, the order is a step towards diversifying healthcare, giving consumers more coverage options at a lower price than was ever possible before.

Prominent Democratic lawmakers, such as New York Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, do not share this view. They are instead concerned that new health coverage plans like the ones outlined could drive up costs for the poor and sick. Because the new plans are targeted towards healthy individuals able to pay for them, the older, more strictly regulated plans would be left to them, with many of the poor and sick being unable to pay for them.

The New York Times does a solid job presenting how both sides could be correct. The coverage includes a statement from Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who warns of the dangers of association health plans. It also has a statement from Dirk Van Dougen, president of the National Association for Wholesaler-Distributors, who is elated at the possibilities the order opens up for small insurance businesses.

Additionally, The Times includes a brief summary of Obama administration policies and stances on healthcare, in relation to the Trump administration policies and how they have been changed. It is an in detailed account of the current events that leaves plenty of room for the reader to form his or her own opinion on the matter.

California wildfires: Death toll rises to 29


California wildfires have killed at least 29 people and burned more than 191,000 acres of land. Firefighters are still trying to combat the raging flames but have not been able to get the fires under control.

In addition to the 29 deaths, hundreds of people have been reported missing in the Northern California area.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for California and stated to the press that this is one of the biggest wildfires the state of California has endured. The month of October is typically when all the deadliest wildfires have occurred in California.

The next biggest wildfire that has occurred in California was the Griffith Park Fire in 1933, killing 29 people.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been placed on Napa, Sonoma, Solano counties. Residents from these counties have been advised not to return until further notice.

News sources have been keeping the public up to date with new information daily on the rising death tolls and damages caused by these California wildfires. ABC News released a video today showing an overview of the burned acres in Northern California.

Anchor Jemele Hill suspended at ESPN


This past week ESPN suspended star anchor Jemele Hill for two weeks after she violated ESPN’s social media policy for the second time in a couple of weeks.

The second suspension stemmed from Hill commenting on the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones requiring all players to stand for the national anthem. Hill tweeted, “Jerry Jones also has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don’t kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”

Hill was previously suspended when she called Trump a “white supremacist,” in a tweet.  John Skipper, president of ESPN, sent out a company wide memo shortly after Hill’s first suspension saying that “ESPN is about sports” and that it is “not a political organization.”

The White House eventually stepped in on the issue as Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that this was “a fireable offense.”

While I’m all for taking a side and standing for what you believe in, certain people need to be wary of what’s shared. The news media, in its truest form, is supposed to be as unbiased as possible. Hill is clearly unbiased when she attacks Trump and Jerry Jones.

In many situations reporters or people in the industry are fired for spreading their beliefs on social media or in press events. There is no issue with having a belief, but when you work in the news media, you can’t share it.

Allegations against Weinstein continue


30 women have come forward to confirm sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Stories of assault from women who interacted with one of the most powerful men in Hollywood have been circulating the media since October 5th, when the New York Times shed light on a crime that has been terrorizing women for decades. Three of the thirty women that have come forward about Weinstein’s advances go as far as defining the violation as rape.

The New York Police Department is further investigating claims of assault made by women who worked with the co-founder of the production-and-distribution companies Miramax and Weinstein Company. This was no surprise to the N.Y.P.D., who had a secret recording of Weinstein apologizing to a model after admitting to groping her outside of a hotel room. It was determined that the recording did not supply sufficient evidence against Weinstein.

“Our sex-crime prosecutors made the determination that this was not going to be a provable case and the decision was made not to go forward,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. when questioned about the recording.

Previously received reports accusing Weinstein of sexual assault are now being used as evidence in reviewing the case.

“We are focused on the facts, not if people liked Harvey,” said the DA.

Several actors have come forward with statements about the abuse of power in the film industry. Reports of Weinstein’s abuse were overlooked even though suspicions circulated around Hollywood for years.

“Why weren’t people able to speak out in the way they wanted to?” said Film producer Elizabeth Karlsen in a detailed interview.

She goes further to explain that the inability of entertainers to speak up about this sort of behavior is one of the worst and unspoken issues in the industry and has to end.

“This behavior toward women in any field, any country is unacceptable,” said Angelina Jolie, who is a director and well-known actress and worked with Harvey in the 90s. She too spoke up about the producer’s advances.

Weinstein’s career at the Weinstein company has been terminated and he has issued a public apology for his inappropriate behavior. However, he has not admitted to any allegations of assault. Meanwhile police investigation continues.

Las Vegas: A change in this country


The world is changing and not for the better.

There’s a desensitization among people; parents do not raise their children as they should, with many of them losing their values as they grow… if they even had any to begin with.

If a family doesn’t guide you, you will never grow up to become a true and proper person; without a proper moral compass, you will pick and choose at your own whim, potentially being influenced from the wrong people.

Part of the problem seems to be the issue of culture; we are desensitized to problems that we do not acknowledge as negative; we simply choose to accept them as a part of our everyday lives. Gun violence is perhaps the most notable of them, as we believe that it is something that comes with our rights. The Second Amendment itself is embedded into the Constitution; however, it is sometimes abused by many in power.

The leaders of our country do nothing to stop this; some of them pander to the gun lobbies, while others dismiss claims of the problem outright. The end result is that while we all agree that there are problems, we are not doing anything to solve them.

We should be talking and discussing about how to make our country better; instead, we resort to childish insults and raucous conversation, disregarding all viable discussion for petty arguments.

After the shooting in Las Vegas, Jason Aldean wrote that “something has changed in this country.” Looking at the state of society, it’s hard to argue against this.

Weinstein: Big time violation of our idols


In recent times, it’s become apparent that there are more than one way to hurt a person. Usually, we understand that a punch to the face or a kick to the chest will hurt badly; however, we will recover from this. The soreness will be gone in a few days and we will forget that it happened.

However, there are sometimes when the physical pain will pale in comparison to the scars in our minds. What we feel in our bodies will never be as bad or as hurtful as what we feel in our spirits; this is why recent revelations have made it so hard to feel human.

It’s in no way possible to see that a single person could be this malicious towards so many peers. Harvey Weinstein, a man in a position of power and influence, used his connections to hurt women, to degrade them, to make them feel like they were less, all while reaping the benefits of his actions.

What makes this matter even worse is the fact that so many people knew about it and no one said anything. Weinstein’s own team has stated that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.” And yet, more than 20 women have come out to attack Weinstein, including actresses Kate Beckinsale, Heather Graham and Cara Delenvigne.

What this story does is show not just the horrors that some women have experienced in their working lives, but also the way in which some people are willfully ignorant to the problems that they observe in their work habits. The fact that 27 women have come out to attack Weinstein means that this was not something that was unknown to the world; people knew that something was going on. They just chose not to act on it; silence, in this case, was not golden.

Police charge 10 in LSU fraternity hazing


Police at Louisiana State University have issued arrest warrants for 10 Phi Delta members in an investigation on whether fraternity hazing lead to the death of a freshman student.

The student, Maxwell Gruver was a Phi Delta pledge from Roswell, Georgia whose death last month had been ruled accidental and was caused by “acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration,” according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office.

Gruver’s blood alcohol was 0.495.  Anything above 0.4 carries a moderate risk of death.

Last month, LSU President F. King Alexander said the 18-year-old’s death is being investigated as a “potential hazing incident.”

“As we’ve continually warned over and over again, hazing is dangerous, irresponsible, and unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated at LSU period,” said Alexander.

All of the 10 fraternity members were charged with hazing.  One of them faces an additional charge of negligent homicide.

Phi Delta’s LSU chapter has been suspended by the university and by the fraternity’s national office.  The national office also has opened an investigation into the incident.

Hazing incidents such as these happen far too often at American universities and colleges.  I believe the news media do not put enough effort and reporting into these cases.

Hazing deaths happen multiple times each year and usually do not receive major coverage. If college students and administrators saw these stories in the national news, they would likely think twice about the risks they bring to campuses.

With broader coverage of these stories, students would likely take time to reflect and think before deciding to join a fraternity.  Many would realize that making friends and getting into parties is never worth the risk of death.

Social media content not regulated


Exhaustive research by The New York Times has evidenced Russian psychological strategies addressed to American citizens who shared the social media to broadcast their frustration during the 2016 presidential elections, but who lacked a well-informed vision of the matters in discussion. This manipulative dystopian weapon raises the subject of Russian agents’ intervention in United States domestic issues.

This brave Times initiative during difficult political times, which took several months of thorough investigation of thousands of posts, meets the goal of investigative journalism to discover and reveal to the public a critical hidden truth, one involving manipulation of  freedom of expression.

On the side, this report highlights another aspect of social media (Web sites like Baidu, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, Viel, Weibo, WhatsApp and YouTube have more than 100 million subscribers): while there is legislation for press and television content, there is lack of control of content of social media. You can say anything, criticize, influence, but since there are no parameters nor filters in the messages, you can also silently manipulate, distort and confuse information.