Tree ceremony not well attended


Thursday, as part of the annual tradition which has been dated back almost 100 years, Donald Trump led the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

During his campaign in 2016, President Trump said that he was looking forward to saying in the National Christmas lighting “Merry Christmas” and made the promise that Americans will be able to say Merry Christmas again instead of “Happy Holidays.”

In fact during the ceremony President Trump said: “Today is a day that I’ve been looking very much forward to all year long, It’s one that we’ve heard and we speak about and we dream about and now, as the president of the United States, it’s my tremendous honor to now wish America and the world a very Merry Christmas.”

A photo shared by Steve Rudin, a journalist in Washington, went viral and showed the many empty seats during the event. The photo was shared on Twitter, Rudin tweeted with the photo that it was a “beautiful” ceremony but “hard not to notice the empty seats.”

Many reporters decided to compare this National Christmas Lighting Ceremony led by President Trump with the ones led by Obama in 2009 and 2013. Reporters added photos in their articles comparing the number of people who showed up in the ceremony with different presidents. The photos showed a packed crowd of people showing up for the traditional ceremony during the Obama era, with the clear intention of highlighting the greater amount of respect and support for the last president.

Privacy questions remain unresolved


With the project we did for this week, a scavenger hunt that canvasses public records and other information available just by knowing the address, we have realized how much access we have to other people’s lives.

Of course it depends on the laws in each state. However, in Florida (where we will be at least four years) the Chapter 119 of the Florida statutes, commonly known as Florida’s “Public Records Law,” provides information on public records in Florida, including policies, definitions, exemptions, general information on records access, inspection, examination and duplication of records.

One always thinks that less regulation is better, there is a valuable transparency. The question is if laws should change as technology keeps moving on and developing? As we realized in the scavenger hunt, most of the records that we needed to look for were also available online. Should we trust the Internet that much? Does it mean that is available to anyone in the world who wants to access the website?

The dilemma is not too far from other simple things. Another thing that people have been discussing since 2015 is privacy rights and drones. Drones have become something more common through the years; whether it is for videos, reporting, visuals or just for fun (we even have drones in the School of Communication). However, currently there are laws to protect individuals against people stalking or spying on them in their homes but there are no federal laws in place that would protect individuals from being spied on by a drone.

Nobody knows where state law stands. Some argue that low-flying drones are trespassers. From the late 16th century, the common law took the position that property ownership extended infinitely into the heavens. Everything changed in the era of aviation establishing a limit. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1946 decision in U.S. v. Causby, it has been generally accepted that the property rights of a homeowner end 83 feet above the ground. That’s awfully close to the ground. Peeking in apartment window when recording high definition video from 100 feet up doesn’t present any sort of challenge.

Some suggested that property owners had to be granted control of the airspace to exclude any drones below a specific altitude; others said that there had to be an agreement with companies. It is still an unresolved matter, however, Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts introduced legislation last March that aims to create privacy protections and data reduction requirements about the information a drone collects, disclosure provisions for when data collection is happening and warrant requirements for law enforcement.

Teen has surgeries to look like Jolie


A young lady from Iran wanted to look like her muse, Angelina Jolie. She lost 90 pounds in four months and went under 50 different surgical procedures to do that.

Her name is Sahar Tabar, she transformed herself to look more like her favorite actress. However, her more than 400,000 followers in Instagram and they are struggling to see the change.

The photos posted to her Instagram serve to showcase her drastic new look. Tabar has undergone lip injections, cheek implants and a nose job, in addition to the weight she’d already lost prior to the surgeries.

However, the severity of Tabar’s new look have several people calling her out for using prosthetics and makeup to make her face appear more angular and enhance certain features.

People and her followers have pointed out that pictures on her Instagram account – which appears to be fairly new, since only about 30 photos have been posted – are inconsistent with nose and cheek placement. Frequently her nose is more upturned than others. Her jaw also appears to be more defined in certain photos than in others.

Her new look – whether real or fake – has been heavily criticized on social media, with many nicknaming the seemingly-malnourished teen “Corpse Bride,” after the 2005 animated Tim Burton film.

Bitcoin surpasses expectations


On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Bitcoin, a virtual currency, surpassed the $11,000 mark for the first time. Hours later, the value of Bitcoin dropped by nearly $2,000.

Although the current valuation is nearly $10,000 for each Bitcoin, this shows a hefty return of more than 1,000 percent this year alone. This rise and fall shows not only the power of virtual data, but also the extreme volatility of it as well.

Today’s mass media represents a marketplace where all consumers want to feel represented and connected. This has opened a paradigm where people want to be involved in all things trendy – adjusting diets to be trendy, adjusting products used because they are trendy and adjusting lifestyles based on trendy material seen online.

This virtual paradigm causes a new level on inflation and growth that hasn’t been experienced in the past. Even 10 years ago, a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin would not have been successful, let alone making new millionaires.

The news media love to follow things that are relevant and Bitcoin has been no exception. All business journals and mainstay news networks alike have covered the swift rise in Bitcoin popularity and value.

Although not everyone is an expert on currency trading or this new category of currency, it is a trend that has been supported as such. News media coverage and influence has led to the rise and popularity, but with the uncertainty of all trends, Bitcoin may not be on the rise forever.

Argentine Navy declares submarine lost


The Argentine Navy has lost a submarine and its crew.

According to the Navy’s Capt. Enrique Balbi on Thursday, “Despite the magnitude of the efforts made, it has not been possible to locate the submarine.”

The submarine, named the ARA San Juan, made last contact on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The hopes of finding survivors faded after a suspected explosion was reported near its last-known location.

Balbi said the search for the submarine had been “extended to more than double the number of days that determine the possibilities of rescuing the crew,” but added that teams would continue to search for the vessel on the seabed.

On Tuesday, Balbi told reporters that water had entered the submarine’s snorkel, which can be used to take in air from above the surface when the submarine is submerged.

The water got inside a battery tray in the prow, causing the battery a short circuit, he said.

The Argentine navy’s last contact with the vessel was at approximately 10:30 GMT on Nov. 15. During that point, the sub’s captain had reported that all hands within the sub were well.

Despite this, Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation quickly noticed a strong noise hours after the sub’s last transmission; this was after eight days of the submarine’s disappearance.

The group labeled the noise a  “hydro-acoustic anomaly” and stated that it had occurred which operates a network of listening posts to monitor nuclear explosions, said that there had been about 30 nautical miles (60 km) north of the sub’s last-known position at 10:31 (13:31 GMT).

The Argentine Navy said it could have been the sound of the submarine imploding — news that hit relatives of the missing crew members hard.

Strange media ideas to gain audience


“Stranger Things” is one of the greatest audiovisual phenomena in recent times. The Netflix’s production has hooked a huge mass of audience. Their main characters are known all over the world.

Millie Bobby Brown | Photo by Gage Skidmore

So, mass media, particularly media specialized in cinema, take advantage of it writing reports and news about the TV series. They know that fans will click on it and read it. But sometimes, news media should know where are the boundaries.

Recently, W Magazine, a fashion newspaper, classified Millie Bobby Brown, the 13-year-old actress of Stranger Things, as one of the sexiest TV stars.

People reacted against the publication because of the young age of the actress who plays Eleven.

Probably, W Magazine would never have written this article if Bobby Brown wasn’t part of such a successful series. Despite the fact that this is not a serious publication as could be The New York Times, not anything goes. Media should be careful because the audience has principles and what media write to attract an audience could go against them.

Economics and success shouldn’t be a priority but common sense. Of course, there is no track of the article on the Web anymore.

Other case but totally different was led by a Spanish cinema newspaper, Fotogramas. The newspaper published an article about the machismo in “Stranger Things. This assessment was based on dialogue and scenes that are representing a time, the 1980s, that was sexist. For example, when Barb’s mum asks her husband for permission to talk.

That’s the article:

Most of the comments reacting to the post of the article on Facebook were about the opportunism and how they jumped on the bandwagon of the feminism and the successful “Stranger Things.”

Again, another attempt to please the audience that actually gets the reverse impact.

Media should isolate from fashions and trends and follow their own criteria of what is really important to write about and so, they would achieve a more quality journalism.

Dog steps on a shotgun, shoots hunter


William Rancourt was shot in the back Wednesday afternoon while out hunting in Northern Iowa when a hunting dog stepped on a loaded shotgun that fired bird-shot pellets.

Rancourt was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries, state conservation officer Ken Lonneman told reporters that if Rancourt had been closer to the shotgun his injuries would have been more severe. The shotgun was approximately 22 yards away from Rancourt when it fired, hitting him the back from his waist all the way up to his neck.

When Rancourt arrived at the hospital he was alert and able to walk. X-rays were taken to make sure all of the pellets that were fired into Rancourt’s back were removed from his body.

Looneman stated that this was a freak accident and the dog’s foot was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time, accidents happen.”

During the busy hunting season, it is important that hunters always remember to unload their guns, place the safety on and never leave them unattended.

The news media has not spoken to Rancourt or any other members on the hunting party that were also out hunting when this incident happened. However, they did get good content from the state conservation officer. The officer’s statements added more meaning the story by addressing all hunter to making sure this never happens again.

Bitcoin value subject to ups and downs


The value of cryptocurrency known as bitcoin has dropped 16 percent, down to $9,600 from the record $11,434 that it had reached on Wednesday.

While not universally accepted, the digital currency is used online due to its entirely-digital nature. Serving as an alternative currency, it is usually considered an attractive to conventional currency, due largely to its financial independence from governments.

However, the digital currency is usually traded like a financial investment; in fact, at its peak, Bitcoin had increased substantially from the $1,000 value it had when the year started.

It’s worth noting that Bitcoin is “prone to wild swings” due to lack of regulations, as well as the lack of traders. Financial analyst Neil Wilson described trading in recent times as a “rollercoaster like nothing I’ve ever seen” and he equated it with small investors that lacked market experience with the coin.

Because they have no way of discerning the coin’s fair value, as well as the perception that the coin is not a currency, bitcoin has been perceived to be going through a bubble similar to the dotcom crisis.

Financial analysts have warned that bitcoin is not an official currency and should not be treated as such. It is simply a commodity with people choosing to invest and trade it whenever they feel like it.

This has led to some scrutiny by financial entities, whom warn investors about the inherent risks with the coin, whom have warned investors that they might lose their entire savings if they are not careful.

NBC handles Lauer appropriately


NBC’s management of the Matt Lauer firing was exceptional; no not just for firing a man who has substantiated sexual assault allegations against him, but for the manner in which they informed the public of his release.

As trust in the news media continues to dwindle, NBC stepped up big time. It was completely candid and honest with the viewer about the actions it took in response to allegations it received against Lauer. Savannah Guthrie, Lauer’s own former co-host, announced his dismissal live on NBC. Difficult and awkward, yes, but effective and trustworthy as well.

Rather than merely release a PR statement that Lauer had been fired and say why, they decided to be totally transparent and announce the firing of one of their own on their station, along with statements prepared by the corporation.

While not entirely necessary, having one of NBC’s own like Guthrie announce the news is a show of openness with the viewer and asserts that no one at NBC is above anyone else.

NBC showed real maturity here; news is news, no matter who is making it, no matter who is the subject of the reporting. The episode reminds me of seeing a CNBC package about General Electric, NBC’s parent company. The package was rather critical of General Electric. I was surprised the reporting would speak so truthfully about its parent company. But, NBC proved then that it (at least a little bit) chose journalism over business interests.

Similar to that CNBC package, NBC’s handling of the Lauer firing with honesty, transparency and maturity is a breath of fresh air in a world of dishonest, self-promoting media.

Billions invested in futuristic cities


Bill Gates and other big companies has invested $80 million in a high-tech planned urban development outside Phoenix.

The society in Belmont is planned to be designed around high-speed networks, autonomous vehicles, high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and autonomous logistics hubs.

The group that is leading the project, is called Belmont Partners. This project will be a similar in size to nearby Tempe, Ariz., which has a population of 182,000.

Big companies such as Uber, Wymo, and Intel are testing their innovations in the state. Since Arizona has a reputation as being a technology-friendly state, these autonomous vehicle companies are willing to increase their brand in this project.

The investment is the latest example of excitement surrounding rebuilding cities from the ground up with a digital mindset.

The smart cities trend has gained momentum as Silicon Valley’s disruptors shift their focus to transportation innovations such as autonomous vehicles and ride sharing services.

Belmont’s developers are counting on the expected development of Interstate 11, which will serve the area, to boost development. But right now, the company is not rushing to move forward.

Royal engagement announced


After dating for over a year, Prince Harry proposed to American actress Meghan Markle on Monday.

Prince Harry, 33, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and fifth in line to the throne, finally popped the question. There were many doubts about their relationship, as it was kept private for a while.

It was no surprise that the couple carefully avoided paparazzi, because of obvious controversies Prince Harry caused in the past. A few of the various incidents with the tabloids included Harry wearing a Nazi costume at a party and photos of the young rebel prince smoking cannabis in public.

Although, his “bad boy” days are behind him. The prince has matured in the past three years after seeking help and admitting his suffering after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. He has been more involved in philanthropic work and being a vocal advocate for people with mental disabilities.

His bride-to-be does not exactly scream conservative for the British monarchy. Her parents Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle said they were “incredibly happy” for the couple. Her mother is a yoga instructor and her father is a cinematographer. Markle, 36, is an actress, best known for her work on the TV series “Suits,” is biracial and has been divorced once. She is a global ambassador for World Vision Canada — and she has worked for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The young couple wishes to modernize the royal family and end the era of conservatism.

We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy,” Prince Harry said in an interview with Newsweek. “We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people.”

The wedding will take place in the Spring of 2018, according to a statement released by Clarence Household. The couple will be known as the duke and duchess of Sussex, according to British news media.