Archeologists find related species


Archeologists have discovered the bones of a distantly related species called Homo luzonensis in the Callao Cave on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The fossils of the species belonged to two adults and one child.

According to researchers, the extinct human species lived on what is now the island of Luzon around 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. This time period concludes that the Homo luzonensis lived throughout the same time as the Denisovans, Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and the small-bodied Homo floresiensis.

What makes the Homo luzonensis different from other species is their distinct premolar teeth. The teeth are said to be unlike any other species belonging to the Homo genus.

Seven premolars and molars were found to be minor and more simplified than those of other Homo species. Even though some of the attributes can be compared to Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, both the teeth and jaw characteristics abide distinct as far as the peculiar features they synthesize.

“These adult teeth are smaller than any hominin known,” said Debbie Argue, a paleoanthropologist at Australian National University.

Researchers haven’t found enough bones to estimate how tall the Homo luzonensis would have been. Besides the lack of knowing how tall they would stand, the Homo luzonensis display their own mix of different traits and characteristics. For example, one toe bone looks practically identical to early hominions living in Africa more than three million years ago. 

The discovery of these distinct species is growing speculation of the story of human evolution.                         

“The more fossils that people pull out of the ground, the more we realize that the variation that was present in the past far exceeds what we see in us today,” said Matthew Tocheri, a paleoanthropologist at Lakehead University in Canada.

Hearing about discoveries like this really make a person think about how humans ended up on earth. With the help of scientists and researchers, information about our world and the species who used to walk among it provide vital insight in the ongoing discovery of evolution.

Royal couple expecting first child


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are set to expect their first child within the next few weeks. The Duke and Duchess both announced they were expecting in early October 2018 during their 16 – day tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga.

It’s only been 11 months since the wedding last May and the couple is already making way for the child to be seventh in line to the throne. Not only will this be the first child of both Meghan and Harry but also will become the first British-American baby born into royal descent.

Officials at Kensington Palace have been very secretive about the Duchess of Sussex’s exact due date. Meghan is said to have told members of the public at numerous royal events that the baby is set to be due around the end of April or the beginning of May. 

It is unlikely the baby will be delivered at the Lindo Wing at London’s St. Mary’s Hospital. This hospital is where Prince William and Harry were born, as well as where the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, gave birth to her three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. The couple is likely to choose another hospital, one closer to their home.

The sex of the baby has not yet been revealed. At an event in February, the Duchess of Sussex was overheard saying that the couple does not want to find out the gender of the baby until it is born.

When the baby finally arrives, both the royal family and Meghan’s family will be the first to be informed. British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Governor General of each Commonwealth Nation will also be informed, before the public, of the new baby’s birth.

Jane Merrick, a writer for CNN stated, “The new prince or princess will not only have that American heritage but will also be the first biracial baby in line to the British throne.”

What is happening here is something historical. The fact that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are about to have the first British-American, biracial baby is a thought no one in the royal family has ever had. I like to see that certain boundaries can be broken without the discrimination of race and ethnicity. 

Burundi schoolgirls released


The three Burundi schoolgirls who were detained for drawing on President Pierre Nkurunziza’s picture in a school textbook have been released.

The schoolgirls, aged 15, 16 and 17, were first charged on March 18 with “insulting the head of state” by doodling designs like mustaches and glasses on his face in a textbook used at the school.

Nyanzira Prosper, the girls’ lawyer, told the BBC they were freed on bail until the girls appear in court. Mr. Prosper states that the charges will stand, and prosecutors will continue to investigate the case.

Due to the schoolgirls’ being detained, the Burundian government went into international condemnation. People all over twitter were showing their support for the girls by recreating the images the girls drew of Nkurunziza with the hashtag #FreeOurGirls.

Other school children in Burundi have been jailed for very similar acts.

The National Intelligence Service of Burundi arrested eight high school students in 2016, for apparently disrespecting Nkurunziza by writing phrases such as “No to the 3rd term” on a picture in a textbook, according to the Human Rights Watch.

“Authorities should focus on holding perpetrators of serious rights violations to account instead of jailing schoolchildren for doodles,” said Human Rights Watch’s Central Africa Director, Lewis Mudge.

Nkurunziza has been in office since 2005. He was re-elected to a third term in 2015 despite major protest and concerns about his past terms as president. 

Reading a story like this makes me feel so blessed to be living in a country like America. It’s so sad to see that in other countries children can get treated so badly by the government especially for such a minor incident. Drawing on the president in a textbook is something no one would get in trouble for in America due the first amendment and freedom of speech. I hope the Burundi government over throws the president so that country can live under better, more reasonable laws.

Kraft faces video evidence problem


New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing bigger problems than just getting charged with two misdemeanors of soliciting prostitution. Authorities say Kraft was recorded on video paying for and receiving sex acts. 

On Wednesday morning, Kraft and 14 other men who were charged in the scandal, filed a motion trying to prevent videos and any other evidence from being released to the public.

Antonio Williams, an associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public Health who specializes in brand management in sports states, “If the footage shows what prosecutors and police claim it shows, it will be difficult for Kraft to deny engaging in illegal activity, and even harder for the NFL to minimize his alleged behavior when weighing possible sanctions.”

Kraft is the cases most famous defendant and could be facing a potential life time of humiliation if the video of him receiving an illicit massage goes public.

A complaint was filed on Feb. 25 in regard to the footage being illegally obtained in violation to the plaintiffs’ right of privacy.

Mark O’Mara an attorney based in Florida states, “Because the footage was obtained through a warrant, it’s likely to be upheld as legal, what’s in the defendants’ best interest is ensuring the footage doesn’t become public record. They can do that by keeping it out of the court file”.

In the motion filed on Wednesday Kraft, his lawyers, and the other plaintiffs mirrored the notion stating the evidence was completely confidential and discharged from disclosure due to the evidence not being produced in discovery.

Diana Moskovitz, a senior editor for sports website Deadspin, says the most serious consequence Kraft could face is losing his football team.

“For better or worse, he has such immense wealth and power it’s really hard to punish him,” she said. “He’ll still probably own the team. He’ll still have Tom Brady as his quarterback. Bill Belichick still gets to be his coach.”

Hearing a story like this is honestly not surprising. Rich and famous people are known for being involved in sexual scandals. I love Robert Kraft, but I think this situation could really take a turn for the worst. Even if you are billionaire, it doesn’t exempt you from being humiliated for the rest of your life.  

Second man​ cured of HIV/AIDS


For the second time in history a patient with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS, has been cured of the infection.

A man from Britain known as the “London Patient” was cleared of the AIDS virus after he was given a bone marrow transplant by an HIV resistant donor. The London patient is the second man in the world to be cured of this virus, 12 years after the first patient, Timothy Ray Brown, was cured in Germany in 2007.

The London patient and Brown were both receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic protein called CCR5, this protein fights against the HIV virus. Both the patients were also first treated originally for cancer, but the protein ended up killing the cancer cells as well as the HIV.

After three years of the transfusions and 18 months of not receiving anti-retroviral drugs, highly effective test shows no signs of the London patients’ previous HIV/AIDS infection. This makes the London patient the first patient since Mr. Brown to remain HIV/AIDS free for more than a year after stopping.

Ravindra Gupta, a professor at University College London and HIV biologist, co-led the team of doctors who treated the London patient. Gupta described his patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission.”

Gupta has been treating the London patient since 2003, when he was first diagnosed with HIV. In 2012, the patient was then diagnosed with blood cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

In 2016, when the London patient was very sick, the doctors decided to seek a donor that would fit for the transplant. According to Gupta “This was really his last chance of survival.”

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, “The misperception that’s floating out there now is that bone marrow transplantation is now a cure for HIV infection and that is completely untrue.”

The overall cure for AIDS has not been found, but in some patients’ the infection can be killed depending on the situation. Even though doctors don’t want people to assume these transfusions can cure anybody with AIDS, it’s incredible to know that they are working on the step of finding the ultimate cure. Hearing this makes me feel blessed to live in a world with this much-advanced technology. I have faith that one day, AIDS/HIV will be gone forever.

Ocasio-Cortez, Ivanka swap criticism


CNN released a story on Wednesday morning regarding a feud between Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump. The dispute came to be after Ocasio-Cortez fired at First Daughter Trump on twitter for a comment she had made about the Green New Deal.

In an interview with Ivanka Trump on Monday, Fox News asked her about Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal on the Green New Deal and her thoughts on people supporting the deal due to its occupational guarantee. 

Trump’s response was “I don’t think most Americans in their heart want to be given something. People want to work for what they get, so I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job. They want the ability to live in a country where there’s the potential for upward mobility.”

Trump’s comment on the issue immediately started trending all across social media platforms even including some reviews from late night talk show host’s like Trevor Noah.

On Tuesday morning, after the interview was aired, Ocasio-Cortez commented on Trump’s response through Twitter, “As a person who actually worked for tips & hourly wages in my life, instead of having to learn about it 2nd-hand, I can tell you that most people want to be paid enough to live.”

Ocasio-Cortez and other congressional Democrats feel very passionate about the proposal. The Green New Deal was made to destroy the greenhouse gas population in the U.S. and to fix the problem Americans have with living off low minimum wage.

Ocasio-Cortez also tweeted, “A living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right. Workers are often paid far less than the value they create.”

According to CNN, the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised from $7.25 since 2009. I personally think this is a huge issue the government chooses to turn a blind eye to. I’ve been in the position of working at a place that pays minimum wage and I can’t imagine having to use that money as serious source of income. I applaud Ocasio-Cortez for proposing this deal and I hope it ends up getting passed in the end.

Regardless of what Trump says, the American people know the right thing and will continue to stand behind this deal until its proven successful.

‘Empire’ actor charged for fa​lse report


Actor Jussie Smollett, one of the stars from the Fox Television show “Empire,” is currently facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct due to a fake police report claiming two men attacked him in Chicago last month.

The Chicago Police believe Smollett paid two men $3,500 to conduct an assault on him. Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the “Empire” actor staged the attack on himself because he was unhappy with his salary.

According to Johnson, Smollett first “attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language.” This was a reference to a letter Smollett sent to to the “Empire” set before the attack.

Smollet first reported the “attack” on Jan. 29. He claimed two men were yelling out homophobic and racial slurs like “‘Empire’ fa***t” and “‘Empire’ n***er.” The men then apparently proceeded to choke him with a rope and pour an unknown substance on top of him.

The two men who allegedly attacked Smollett are brothers, identified as Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo. They were arrested on Wednesday, but released without charges on Friday morning after police recognized new evidence of the case.

“When we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off because we have to invest valuable resources,” Johnson said.

This case caused such chaos for no reason at all. The Chicago police were very upset that this gained so much attention when there are much more drastic scenarios happening right now in Chicago as we speak. 

At a press conference, Johnson said, “Before I get started, I look out into the crowd, I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we are giving to this particular in distinct.”

Hearing this story really bums me out, especially since I’m a big fan of the show “Empire.” Smollett took total advantage of his fame in this situation. He thought by faking an attack he could gain more money from the show and more respect from his fans. This behavior is so disgusting and I’m glad he will reap the consequences from it.

Couple jailed after mistreating children


On Tuesday morning in Wise County, Texas, a mother and her boyfriend were arrested after police received a domestic disturbance call regarding four malnourished children stuck inside a home.

According to authorities, the children were found under clutter and grime. The children’s age ranged from 1-5, there were three boys and one girl. 

Two of the four children were placed in a barn crate that was converted into a sleeping space.

According to CNN affiliate, KTVT, the two oldest children ages 4 and 5 were the ones stuck in the crates.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said when he found the children, they were hungry and thirsty, and covered in feces. Akin also stated that the children didn’t talk much when the police arrived at the home. 

“Our deputies and our lieutenant fed and gave water to those children. And due to the malnourishment and other concerns, EMS was called; emergency medical was called,” Akin said.

The biological mother to four of the children was identified as Paige Harkins. Her boyfriend, Andrew Fabila, is the biological father to one of the kids. 

The domestic disturbance call was made in the first place due to an altercation the couple was having. When the authorities showed up, Fabila had multiple cuts on his face.

Harkins and Fabila were both arrested on four counts of endangering a child. Harkins was also charged on one count for aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, Akins said. The couple is currently being held at Wise County jail. 

The children were taken to a hospital in Fort Worth for further assessment. They are now in custody of Child Protective Services. 

I believe this horrific situation is something that should never occur. The fact that there are still people out there who treat their children like this is just disgusting and morally wrong. If you’re going to have a child, you better understand the responsibility it entails. You can’t treat children like animals and leave them in crates to die. I don’t think stories like this ever get enough coverage from the news media. I concur that if we were to focus more on issues like this, people would know how wrong it is to mistreat children.

Special needs wait-list to be dropped


On Monday morning, at Pace Brantley School of Special Education in Longwood Fla., Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement to eliminate the 2,000-student wait-list for The Gardiner special needs program.

Eliminating the wait-list will make it easier for kids to receive the help they need. The Gardiner Scholarship is set to begin in the 2019/20 school year and will be fully funded, according to DeSantis. 

“As we’ve met with people and talked about these very valuable scholarships, the fact of the matter is we have close to two thousand families who are on the waiting list,” DeSantis said.  “I have allocated enough funds to get rid of the wait list for Gardiner Scholarships entirely.”

The Gardiner Scholarship is used to provide students with disabilities funding that can be used for specialized services such as speech or occupational therapy, tuition for private school, contribution to college, instructional materials and more.

There are about 12,000 students who participate in the program. Qualifying conditions include Down Syndrome, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. The Scholarship currently has around $124 million dollars to spend. DeSantis wants to allocate another $18.7 million to get rid of the waitlist. 

Brittany Wilson, a mother of two special needs kids currently on the wait-list states, “Just having this scholarship just opens our world, it just allows me to have the confidence and the hope that I can do what’s best for them, whether it’s at home or whether it’s at a private school.”  

DeSantis is doing an amazing thing in my opinion. Its already hard enough for special needs kids to live a normal life. Medical expense already cost so much leaving parents with barely enough money to send their kids to a good school. I believe eliminating the waitlist for this scholarship program will make it so much easier for parents to receive the money they need and deserve for their children.

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.