Air quality in Hanoi turns hazardous


Air pollution in Hanoi has reached an alarming level recently, with heavy transportation, industrialization and energy production to blame, according to the authorities.

The Real-time Air Quality Index on this week ranked pollution in Vietnam’s capital as “very unhealthy”. The index measured near the Vietnam-based U.S. embassy at the city center hit 154, a level that will severely threaten the lives of old people and those with heart or respiratory problems.

On the same day, Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported that the index recorded at the industrial area to the west of Hanoi reached 202, a dangerous level considered as “hazardous”, which means people should avoid outdoor activities. Not very far from there, on Ba Trieu Street downtown, the index measured reached 201.

A survey conducted by GreenID organization on 1,000 Hanoi citizens showed that they blamed transportation, industrialization and energy production for the air pollution in the city with transportation to be the primary cause.

Hoang Tung, a senior official from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that heavy traffic has even worsened in the past few days due to the Lunar New Year.

“High demand for travel by personal vehicles in preparation for Tet, the biggest and most significant holiday in Vietnam, has caused the heavy pollution in the city,” he said. He also added that the cold weather also aggravates the problem.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has recently published a report stating that traffic activities account for more than 70 percent of air pollution in Hanoi. It was also reported that the city of eight million people currently has more than nearly six million vehicles.

CBP makes record fentanyl bust


U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Arizona announced on Thursday that border officers have made the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history.

The 254 pounds of powder and pills that were confirmed to be the synthetic opioid was found hidden inside of a floor compartment of a large truck trailer filled with cucumbers. Officials valued the drug at $3.5 million. This bust is a large step for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but a small step for the opioid crisis in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. This record breaking number has much to do with the out-of-control opioid overdose crisis in America. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that more than 130 people in the United States die from opioid overdose every day.

So what does this monumental fentanyl bust mean for the United States? The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has referred to Mexican cartels as “the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States.” These cartels are known to smuggle narcotics across the Southwest border of the U.S., often hidden in trailers similar to the truck trailer filled with cucumbers and 254 pounds of fentanyl that was just busted. This fentanyl seizure was more than double the amount of the previous record that was found in Nebraska in 2017. This national security concern is constantly on the radar for Customs and Border Protection officials, and this bust was an important victory for them.

We often hear President Trump preaching about his proposal for a border wall, which he claims will reduce national security concerns such as drug trafficking. However, U.S. Border Protection officials have expressed that, according to their data, the majority of hard drugs such as fentanyl and other opioids are seized from vehicles that attempt to cross the border by driving through official entry ports. It is unclear if a border wall would have much of an impact on the drug trafficking and opioid crisis in the U.S., but this major bust will hopefully act as a warning for all other drug traffickers looking to cross the border into the United States.

The Left moves further to the left


This past Sunday, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris announced she is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2020. She is one of many men and women seeking the position. Just this past month we’ve seen Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren announce their exploratory campaigns and former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke have shown clear signs of interest.

As the race begins to pick up steam, we can see these figures, who once came together to oppose President Trump, start to fire shots at each other. It will be interesting to watch as candidates who once seemed to agree on every issue convince the public that they are different and, more importantly, better than their opponents.

So how will they do this? So far it seems to be a competition for who can move furthest to the left on every issue. We have watched as opinions that were once considered radically socialist views become the foundations of these campaigns. Policies such as universal health care, free college tuition and guaranteed federal employment, have each been wholeheartedly embraced by the Democratic Party.

So how are we going to pay for these ambitious social programs? Each candidate seems to have their own plan, but the more radical the tax, the more popular it seems to be. First, Warren introduced her ultra-rich tax, an annual two percent tax applied to the ultra-wealthy’s net worth. Then, Harris came out in support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “New Deal,” which includes a seventy percent tax on the ultra-rich’s annual income.

Some may have thought Democrats would choose the centrist strategy, whereby electing a moderate candidate such as Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg in the hopes of bridging the division and bringing people from both sides together. As we watch Howard Schultz, a self-proclaimed centrist, get berated and attacked by the left, it is clear they have rejected this possibility.

It seems the polarization, which became so prominent in 2016, will prevail in the next election as Donald Trump likely faces off against a candidate with a radically left agenda. The two will presumably disagree on most issues and in all probability be at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, the American people will once again be forced to take a radical stance on their opinions and embrace one candidates full agenda.

Cannabis ad won’t air during Super Bowl


The Super Bowl is this Sunday and it’s something many people look forward to watching each year. It’s that special time when sports fans and non-sports fans can share a day together. Some people watch it to root on their favorite team, some to watch the halftime performance and thousands of others to see what creative commercials advertisers came up with this year.

So far, it has been said that companies like Pepsi, Doritos, Bumble, Budweiser, Kia, M&Ms and Olay are for sure advertising in this year’s match-up. There’s one company, however, that tried to advertise, but will not be offered the chance to do so.

Acerage Holdings attempted to buy an advertisement for this year’s Super Bowl. The company is different from many other advertisers, since this one sells medical marijuana. The company has offices in 15 states and was hoping to “create an advocacy campaign for constituents who are being lost in the dialogue,” said Acerage President George Allen.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in more than 30 states. However, it is still federally illegal. News outlets titled their articles similar to Time, saying “CBS Blocked a Medical Marijuana Company.” Articles like these, however can come off as misleading.

The title makes it seem as though CBS is blocking the company due to moral values or relating it to their beliefs on medical marijuana. Farther down in these articles, you can find the statistics that point out the true reason CBS is “blocking” the advertisement is because of the legality of it.

While critics are attacking CBS for not allowing the ad to run, it might have been rejected by the FCC anyway. The FCC regulates all broadcast and radio air time. While in some states, you might see a marijuana commercial run on the air, the drug is still not federally legal. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched programs of the year, and to advertise something that is illegal in 20 states, would most likely not be allowed.

Before everyone goes to fight CBS for blocking this advertisement, they should think about the legality of the situation, and the true backlash that CBS will probably be avoiding with this decision.

Migrants missing off Djibouti


The UN migration agency reports that there are numerous East Africans still missing because two boats capsized a few days ago. These boats carried vulnerable migrants, hoping to find a good place to survive and work. The destination was Yemen because Saudi Arabia is a top choice for East Africans.

According to witnesses, these boats sank 30 minutes after leaving Tuesday because of overloading. The boats located in the Obock region of northeastern Djibouti. The Djiboutian coast guard has found 30 bodies and 16 survivors. 

One of the survivors who was only 18 years old, explained that one of the boats carried 130 people, including 16 women. 

The coast guard still performs rescue operations because there are many persons still missing. The migration agency said that some teams and official departments also join this mission to find more survivors.  

The UN migration agency said drownings had recorded at least 199 times since 2014. Some officials also expressed that these migrants usually are under 25 years old, most of them children. They all trying to escape a hard life.

“This sad event showed that there is high risk for these vulnerable migrants who want to immigrate to the better place,”  Lalini Veerassamy, representing the migration agency, said in a statement.

They hope to resolve these problems as soon as possible. 

Polar cold becomes dangerous


CNN released a story Wednesday morning stating that the weather in the Midwest is at a historic, record-breaking low. The polar vortex descended, causing the coldest air in a generation, and is set to last through the end of the week.

Temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees are expected to hit the Midwest, specifically the Chicago-Minneapolis region. Officials have warned that temperatures at this range are known to cause, hypothermia, frost bite, frozen pipes and frozen vehicle parts. The wind chill readings will fall far below zero in many places.

Four deaths have been linked to these below freezing temperatures. A young couple got into a car accident on a snowy road in northern Indiana, a Milwaukee man was found frozen in his garage, and a man was struck and killed by a snow plow in Chicago. These terrible incidents are encouraging the Midwest to get the homeless off the streets to try and prevent them from interacting with this weather. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Tuesday, “These are actually a public health risk and you need to treat it appropriately, they are life-threatening conditions and temperatures.”

The weather is so drastically cold that airlines have issued weather waivers for 18 airports in the Midwest including Chicago O’Hare and Midway International airports. Besides the waivers, around 2,000 flights have been canceled since Wednesday morning. 3,000 flights combined, were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. Amtrak as well canceled all trains coming in and out of Chicago, according to CNN as of 9:30 Wednesday morning.

Most public schools from Midwest states like Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, canceled classes on Tuesday and some on Wednesday as well. Several universities within those states have also canceled classes for those days, if not the whole week. Josh Collins, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Education states “Closing schools for an extended stretch isn’t an easy decision, even though most school districts build potential makeup days into their schedules.”

The cold has been so bad that typical outdoor activities have been shutting down. A ski hill in the Minneapolis area said it would close through Wednesday, so did an ice castle attraction. The cold weather has even affected beer deliveries. Shipments are being delayed in fear that the beer will freeze.

This polar vortex has done nothing but cause tragedy and havoc to the Midwest. Hopefully, temperatures will go back to normal after this week ends.

Record temperatures blast Midwest


The United States — specifically the Midwest states like Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana — are seeing brutally low temperatures as January comes to a close.

Wind chill temperatures close to negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit are shocking those in the Midwest, but it does not stop there. Wind chill has made the situation considerably worse, dropping the temperatures down to record-breaking levels of around negative 40 to 50 degrees.

Shockingly low temperatures are having major effects on the cities they are hitting. Various news outlets have reported that the temperatures are dropping to those that are colder than Antarctica. This is changing the way many major cities are operating.

CNN is one outlet that is specifically covering the damage and changes that many cities are going through. I admire the way that they are reporting on individual instances that the snow is causing in a list format, and then expanding on each in their own articles.

The blistering cold has impacted the Midwest with school cancellations, mass transit cancelling the entirety of its services and is even causing deaths. Not only have local schools been closed, various universities among the nation have halted classes until the weather is safer to operate in. Packages are also not being delivered and flights are being cancelled until the weather normalizes.

UM forward Hernandez ruled ineligible


The NCAA announced Monday afternoon that University of Miami junior Dewan Hernandez is ineligible to play the rest of the college basketball season and must sit out 40 percent of next season’s games. The 6-11 forward has missed the first 19 games of the season.

“I am very disappointed in the outcome,” Dewan Hernandez said in a statement. “I don’t believe the NCAA treated me fairly and it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to withdraw from the University of Miami and prepare for the 2019 NBA draft.

After electing to forgo the NBA draft and return to the University of Miami for his junior season, Hernandez received a crushing blow to improve his draft stock after the NCAA ruled him ineligible prior to the season. After a lengthy appeals process, the NCAA officially rejected his request for eligibility.

According to the NCAA, Hernandez received monthly payments and benefits from the agent Christian Dawkins who was found guilty in October for conspiracy to commit fraud along with three other defendants. Dawkins was at the center of a FBI investigation into the alleged corruption in college basketball where there were reports of a dozen student athletes being provided improper benefits. Hernandez was one of the athletes listed in the report.

University of Miami’s athletic director Blake James wrote on Twitter, “Today’s decision by the NCAA regarding Dewan Hernandez is not only disappointing but unfair. Based on the totality of the facts the University is not in agreement with the decisions and interpretations of this case and made it well-known to the NCAA staff that we have many reservations about the reliability of evidence and ultimate conclusions.”

The NCAA claimed the punishment could have been much harsher considering the allegations, but the existence of particular factors lessened Hernandez’s chances of being ruled permanently ineligible.

Hernandez’s lawyer Jason Setchen said he felt frustrated and disgusted after hearing the ruling. “I was not expecting the decision to be that harsh. I certainly knew it was a possibility, but it did not think that would be ultimately how they would come down on Dewan given the record of the case,” Setchen said. “I think that were a lot of other mitigating factors that should have been considered or at least were not given enough weight.”

Hernandez, who formally changed his name from Huell this past offseason, signed with the Hurricanes as a McDonald’s All-American and a top 30 national recruit out of Miami Norland High School. The former five-start recruit averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in two seasons at the U.

The Hurricanes are off to its worst start since 2007 at 9-10 and 1-6 in ACC play. The team most recently lost to in-state rival Florida State and now face a difficult opponent in No. 12 Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. Without Hernandez, head coach Jim Larrañaga has been left to use a seven-man rotation in a deep ACC conference where teams are able to go 10 players deep into the rotation. It was evident that the team lacks the depth to compete after the loss to the Seminoles Sunday night.

Through the whole process, Larrañaga has voiced his support for Hernandez and hoped the NCAA would do the right thing in reinstating him. After the ruling, Larrañaga said on 560 WQAM, “As excited as were about signing [Dewan], it was so much more enjoyable to just be around him these last three years. I just love the young man; a hard worker; a dedicated athlete; a good student who worked hard in the classroom. It is just a very, very sad day for me and our basketball program to lose a person of his caliber.

Now with Hernandez ruled ineligible, the Hurricanes are left with only seven players on scholarship and Larrañaga is left to figure out how to fill the void Hernandez is leaving behind.

The NCAA has been criticized for years for its rules and enforcement policy. In the interview, Setchen said, “There are rules and they are supposed to be followed and I respect that, but at the same time, they need to rewire the way things are done so that the rule violations are not so common and not so easy to come by. The arbitrary nature of the throwing out penalties to me is a problem that needs to be addressed for sure. The process is another thing that needs to be reviewed because I feel a lot of it is done in the darkness and they just come give you an answer and it is like how did you get there.”

After this whole ordeal, there is this ongoing debate to how student athletes should be viewed. The NCAA describes them to be amateurs who are not allowed to receive payments independent of the university for which they play for. More and more players are beginning to speak out against this as the universities and cable television networks are profiting millions off of student athletes, but they themselves do not receive any monetary reward for their hard work besides their scholarships.

Unfortunately, Hernandez’s college career was cut short, but this will serve as an example for how the NCAA treats students athletes and handles violations. Hopefully, changes are made within the NCAA.

Covering the State of the Union address


CNN issued a report on Monday morning regarding the fate of Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. The article, which was written by Devan Cole and Kevin Bohn, has several key features that I find interesting.

First of all, the topic is extremely relevant to current situations. In the aftermath of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, many people online have been wondering about Trump’s upcoming State of the Union address, especially after Nancy Pelosi advised him to give his speech in writing. This article will certainly gain the attention of many who have been following these recent events.

The story involves confirmation that Trump will not be giving the address on Tuesday through an aide of Nancy Pelosi. It is interesting that the name of the person who confirmed this information has not been disclosed. It is possible the person did not want their name to be made public and preferred to remain anonymous. This is also an example of a news network taking advantage of having an exclusive source.

I also applaud the reporters behind this article for not injecting their own personal opinions. One of the problems I have with many cable network reporters nowadays is that they tend to sensationalize the news and try to manipulate the audience into feeling a certain way. This article just tells the news like it is. It also clarifies Pelosi’s role regarding the State of the Union so that the reader has a stronger grasp of what is happening. Overall, this was a simple but great example of excellent reporting