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.

Removal of net neutrality considered


This Tuesday, Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced his plans to repeal the regulations of net neutrality passed in the Obama-era.

In February 2015, Tom Wheeler, Democrat chairman of the FCC at the time, gave the agency the ability to protect net neutrality. Net neutrality, also known as the open internet, is defined by USA Today as “the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others.”

ISPs are the companies that provide internet access such as Verizon and AT&T. Content providers are companies which create and distribute information, such as Facebook, Netflix and Google.

The net neutrality rules prohibit ISPs from discriminating by slowing down or blocking the delivery of data or any content of information you want to access. Without these rules, ISPs can slow down the content of its competitors and block political opinions that they do not agree with. If the regulations of net neutrality would be removed, ISPs would be allowed to charge content providers for a faster delivery of their content on “fast lanes,” and intentionally slow down content providers with whom they compete with.

Pai wants to replace the agency’s rules with “voluntary” conditions, meaning that the ISPs are not required to comply with them.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” said Pai, chairman of the FCC, “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Many articles disagree with the removal of net neutrality regulations, analyzing all the negative consequences this could have on the free flow of information and ideas. Many reports focused on companies that do not have the money to pay for “fast lanes.” For example, small businesses may suffer, as they rely on the open internet to create new markets and advertise. Political and social movements may be silenced if their ideas go against what the ISPs want, which would mean that the ISPs would be blocking speech.

The FCC will vote on the removal of net neutrality on Dec. 14. Since the announcement proposing the removal net neutrality, millions of opponents have commented on the internet, finding ways to prevent the unveiling of this principle.

Reporters have covered the issue in detail, giving voice to many opponents of the plan. Treating the issue of maintaining net neutrality as a form of saving the internet. Reporters have been very direct, giving numerous invitations to the readers to try and stop the removal of this principle.

The nation’s media reform network, Free Press, says: “We have three weeks to save the Internet.”

Basketball players detained in China


A lot of attention has been brought upon an international incident occurred this week in China. Three freshman UCLA basketball players were accused of shoplifting items from three different stores, including a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store, ranging from $435-$1,990.

The basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, returned to Los Angeles Tuesday, where they were Initially ignoring all questions asked by reporters.

Donald Trump was involved in resolving the issue, by bringing up the case with China’s President Xi Jinping, allowing the players to get out of China’s detention and back in the United States.

We seem to be more than familiar with Donald Trump’s tweeting habits. He uses Twitter as a way praising himself, demanding praise and judging others for not giving him approval. On Tuesday, when the basketball players returned from China after being detained for 10 days and did not express any gratitude towards Donald Trump, he decided to tweet:

First of all this tweet demonstrates the president’s lack of modesty and talking about himself in the third person, like the CNN reporter said, “that deserves a post all its own. This tweet was given a lot of attention by the news media as it is put the UCLA players in an awkward position, after already being in one.

Some reporters, such as CNN’s Chris Cillizza, suggested that people were interpreting this tweet as racially provocative, he wrote in his article “What Donald Trump’s UCLA tweet reveals about him.”

“That the three players are all young black men should also not be lost here. Trump’s history on racial issues — both as president and as a private citizen — shows some level of intentionality when it comes to using racially coded language and taking advantage of racial animus and stereotypes for his own political gain,” Cillizza wrote.
“The image of an older white man in a position of power demanding thanks from three young black men for saving them will set off a lot of alarm bells for people,” he added.

The players apologized for their actions in a press conference, in addition to thanking Donald Trump and the U.S. government for helping them out of the situation.   The three players have been suspended indefinitely from the UCLA, meaning that they won’t be able to practice or travel with the university’s team.

Donald Trump acknowledged the thanks shared by the basketball players and answered by tweeting

Most articles covering this story linked the video of the conference where the players apologized for their actions, giving the reader a clearer understanding of the events.

The story was covered in detail by the reporters, but there were no real comments made by UCLA students. It would be interesting to know how students at UCLA feel about the story and its effects on the name and reputation of the school and its basketball program.

When covering the story, Reporters were very harsh on Donald Trump’s tweets because they attacked some freshman students who did not even have the time to settle back in their home country after being detained in a foreign country.

Child shootings occur daily in America


We already must be concerned with protecting the children in America from attackers, drugs and numerous of the other constant dangers in the world. Just last week last Sunday, eight children were killed, a part of the biggest mass shooting in Texas history. But children should not be presented with danger just because of an adult’s irresponsibility.

Thursday afternoon, a 2-year-old toddler shot himself in the head and was found dead in a basement of a home in Philadelphia’s Olney neighborhood. The police recovered the handgun, but have still not shared the identity of the owner.

Just in 2016, 318 incidents occurred where someone under the age of 18 had access to a firearm. A total of 21 adults were shot by kids and 121 kids were killed by self-inflicted wounds or were shot by another kid.

As of this month, the data of children unintentionally pulling the trigger and shooting themselves, other children and other adults is shocking and just disgraceful. A total of 116 kids have already been killed this year by another child or by a self-inflicted wound.

A new study on gun violence with the objective to examine fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries among children aged infant to 17 in the United States was published in the Journal of Pediatrics. This study was conducted by statisticians at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Texas. With results showing that 19 children are shot every single day in the United States.

This means that an average of 3.5 children is killed by guns each day.

A part of America believes that guns are needed for safety, although they seem to be a constant danger. If adults make the decision to possess firearms for their own safety, as they believe it is their right as written in the constitution, then they should also have the decency to be responsible with its power. It is not fair that children who can grow and live a life, are unable to because of their own curiosity and an adult’s carelessness.

Halloween decorations draw police


Halloween is coming soon, meaning that American homes are decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and other original decorations, ready for trick-or-treaters to come on the night of Oct. 31.

This year, just as every year, some homes seemed to have crossed the line using controversial decorations that terrified and profoundly offended viewers. Making us question when do we know when we cross a line? How objective is this issue?

This year, in New Jersey, Kevin and Krysten Negrotto displayed in their front yard a white Toyota all covered in blood. The car was pinning a body against a tree, surrounded with police tape showing a bloody crime scene.

The neighbors of this couple find the display so disturbing that they think it should be considered a crime. The cops showed up at the Negrotto house, with complaints received about the set up from the neighbors who requested its removal.

Kyrsten Negrotto, 27, posted on Facebook saying the officers “LOVED” the display and encouraged them to add more to it. Kyrsten wrote “It’s a free country! … stop wasting these officers’ time on stupid complaints over our HALLOWEEN decor when they could be out saving real lives! It’s all about zombies. It’s about HALLOWEEN.”

The couple has a 5-year-old son, and claimed that it is just for fun and they didn’t mean any harm. Kyrsten Negrotto told a news source “We don’t mean to offend anyone. We do it for the love of Halloween. We just want kids to enjoy like we did as kids.”

Just as the Negrotto family, numerous other homes around the country received criticism, where the police had to intervene by receiving complaints on neighbors for having insulting displays. Many “offensive” decorations went viral and shared on social media. Numerous  decorations targeted by angry viewers were not just the ones considered gory, but also displays considered racially and culturally insulting.

In Parishville, N.Y., Michelle Cross displayed a figure forming a circle made from white bedsheets, surrounding a dark-face gorilla hung with a rope around his neck. A passenger took a photo of Cross’s yard and posted it on social media. By the next day, the photo was shared numerous times and had many comments. The comments suggested that the arrangement had racial connotations, as the circle of ghosts was perceived to represent the gathering of the Ku Klux Klan.

Michelle Cross took the gorilla down and just left the ghosts, out of respect to her community. Cross said, “I took it down because a few people in the neighborhood thought it was offensive for some reason,” and added, just like Kyrsten Negrotto “It is simply Halloween.”

The news media covered the stories on Halloween displays well, by including social media comments on the opinion of viewers and the displayers of the decor. One important area the reporters did not cover in the articles is the opinion of political public figures on the issue, which should also be present to address people on their freedom of expression.

The issue of offensive Halloween decorations is a very controversial topic. Displays, such as Michelle Cross’s, are open to interpretation and the fact that some people viewed it as a racial overturn is demonstrating their own subjective truth and negative view of the world. I do feel like people have the right to display whatever they think is appropriate for Halloween. If the neighbors or passersby have an issue with the display, then they can simply not look at it instead of calling the police.

Italian schools teach about fake news


Fake news has been around for a while, but with the existence of the Internet and ingraining of social media in people, this notion has been increasingly addressed and recognized as a critical issue. Italy has decided to create classes to teach high school students how to recognize fake news and the importance of not sharing false information, in addition to a new set of ethical commandments.

No generation has it ever been so easy and so fast to gain insight on what is happening around the world. Accessing information can be done with just a few taps on our phones. Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, told The New York Times “Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it. It’s only right to give these kids the possibility to defend themselves from lies.”

Students will receive a list of commandments. One of them is: “Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence; thou shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated.”

There are so many sources where we can access our information and the velocity with which we can acquire it doesn’t allow people to constantly check the reliability.

People’s perception is manipulated and not accessing the truth affects people’s actions, as seen in the 2016 elections. In fact, one of the main reasons this program was created is for the upcoming elections in Italy, which are scheduled on May 20, 2018. The Web is already full of conspiracy theories against all parties and it is essential that the political view, especially of a generation ingrained on their phones, is based on the truth.

The Italian government has been working with companies, such as Facebook and Google, to build a program that focuses on training students on how to recognize fake news and conspiracy theories online. The program seeks the creation of “Fake News Hunters” and is expected to begin later this month. It will be launched in approximately 8,000 high schools around all of Italy.

Students will be taught the ethics of not publishing or sharing fake news and how important the impact of everything they share on social media can be. Facebook will be contributing that specific aspect, addressing to students how “likes” on the platform are “monetized and politicized.”

It is of value that a social media giant, such as Facebook has been collaborating with this program. Especially, because of the pressure, social networks and search engines have been given on finding a solution to filter fake news and conspiracy theories. In fact, a few weeks ago, on Oct. 6, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wrote in a  post:

“We will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections. We’ll keep working to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, and to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in a democracy.”

Mark Zuckerberg was never one to approve of the impact of social media, for years he would argue as seeing social media as just a method of communication. His complete change in opinion really brings to surface the importance of doing something about this issue. Facebook reported that if the program is successful, it will create similar programs for other countries in Europe.

Many of the reports on this story are written in detail and seem to deliver a lot of useful information. I am from Italy and this makes me proud especially because I study journalism in the United States, which has a big issue on fake news. I would be really interested in knowing more on who will be teaching these classes and the opinion of students on this new subject.

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.

Security addressed after Vegas shooting


Sunday evening in Las Vegas left many people without a friend, a sibling, a parent, a son, a daughter. And, as any tragedy, it happened in an unexpected place at an unexpected time.

Till now 58 people were shot dead at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, and more than 450 were injured.  Stephen Paddock, 64, shot festival attendees from the 32nd floor of a hotel room in Mandalay Bay Hotel.

Paddock had capability of bringing 23 guns to his hotel room, 12 of which were semi-automatic guns, also known as self-loading guns. What is worrying people is that the assassin could transport all those firearms in the hotel without going unnoticed. This brings to the surface the issue of safety and security in hotels, as well as music festivals.

Bruce Mclndoe, president of iJet international, said the Las Vegas attack has stimulated immediate changes to security protocols.

iJet international preforms around 400 security inspections globally every year.

Mclndoe said that it is likely that hotels will have to train their security surveillance staff to inspect customers with items that could be rifles such as; fishing gear, skis and other long items.

Another tactic addressed to increase security measured was more specific to the idea of gatherings in outdoor situations. In an e-mail response, former director of the Center for Security Policy Studies at George Mason University, Audrey Cronin, addressed the shooting as “Horrifying but not unprecedented.” Pointing out that having large number of people in an open space next to a tall structure, makes people an easier target.

Cronin highlighted that typically, when major political events take place, law enforcement has access to high places nearby.  She suggested that this procedure also be applied to other types of gatherings, which will most likely imply changes to hotel security. Cronin said, “Unfortunately, our law enforcement practices must often adapt in the wake of major tragedies.”

Many articles also mentioned the idea of baggage screening and metal detectors in hotels. The opinion of many concerning the idea of adding metal detectors is very unlikely in hotels, especially in Las Vegas, where hotels are connected to casinos and the business model would be damaged.

The Las Vegas shooting last Saturday, Oct. 1, is the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, it will continue to be addressed and discussed, hopefully, this tragedy will lead to change, some real outcomes.

Even though violence can never be completely stopped, I do think that it is important to continue to improve security, especially in a time where gun violence in public scenarios is becoming more present. The news articles covered a lot of useful information but I really think that the changes that will be made in the Mandalay Bay hotel, should be investigated.

Royal Caribbean ship aids storm victims


Mother Nature did not seem to show any pity towards the islands of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico when what seemed to be the worst outcome with Hurricane Irma, the successive wrath of Hurricane Maria put the islands in “apocalyptic” conditions.

Royal Caribbean went on a humanitarian mission to bring supplies and rescue thousands of people from these islands, showing the compassionate and human spirit that exists.

Royal Caribbean is a cruise line owned by Royal Caribbean Ltd. It operates 24 ships and owns 21.9 percent of the market. The ships tour the world, with the most popular destinations being tropical islands, such as the Virgin Islands, Barbados, and the Bahamas.

Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria were both category 5 hurricanes and left the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico without power and access to drinking water, crushing its economy overnight.

Royal Caribbean announced that it was canceling one of its cruises with the ship Adventure of the Seas. The ship was supposed to depart from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 30 and was intended to sail around the various islands of the Caribbean.

The ship is going to deliver supplies such as water, medical supplies, batteries, and fuel. Its first stop is going to be in San Juan, where it is intended to evacuate 2,200 people and then 1,000 more form the Virgin Islands, with its destination being Fort Lauderdale.

The company announced that it will refund the customers who booked the cruise with Adventure of the Seas and will give 25 percent credit to the people who re-book the trip within 30 days. Most reports failed to be specific on the other consequences that the cruise cancellations of ships traveling around the Caribbean will have on customers, such as flights and hotels.

Royal Caribbean has also had previous rescue missions, after hurricane Irma, it sent two ships to St. Thomas and St. Maarten, helping 1,700 people evacuate.

In addition to all the help the cruise line is giving to those affected by the Hurricanes, it is also donating $1 million to aid Hurricane Relief efforts.

Most articles failed to mention more about the consequences this natural disaster will have on Royal Caribbean cruises. The islands affected were the most popular destinations for the cruise line and so a great source of income. There should be more on the impact that this disaster will have on the company’s revenue and the economy of the islands. Royal Caribbean cruises are the not the only cruise line that sails around the destroyed areas, meaning that there should be more details on the outcome of other cruise lines.

Women use imaginary male biz partner


People see what they want to see. I say this because people can subconsciously choose to ignore the truth that is right in front of them.

Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer are two female entrepreneurs who founded Witchsy, their own online marketplace for dark humored art. Witchsy is based Los Angeles and is an online community of known and unknown artists where they can connect with each other and grow an audience.

In the start-up process, Penelope and Kate were having difficulties because they were using their own money and did not have a good knowledge in technology. Additionally, the developers and graphic designers they enlisted to help them seemed to have a condescending tone and sexist replies. The two entrepreneurs decided to see what would happen if they added a fake male business partner, Keith Mann.

The difference in the responses Kate and Penelope got while using an imaginary male were extreme. Not only was Keith helped quicker and with better quality assistance, but with a much greater amount of respect.

The sexist environment in the tech world has been an upcoming topic lately. Many reporters when talking about Witchsy and the truth behind sexism, mentioned the public issues involving big companies such as Uber and Google. Women are not taken as seriously as men, and this story is a great example.

The main point that most articles on this issue’s cover are how a non-existent male has gotten a deeper level of respect than two females.

Kate Dyer expressed to Fast company her thoughts: “Wow, are people really going to talk to this imaginary man with more respect than us? But we were like, you know what, this is clearly just part of this world that we’re in right now. We want this and want to make this happen.”

Most articles covered the replies that the two women received from the people enlisted providing the evidence for the rudeness they faced. When Penelope and Kate received replies sometimes the developers would not even call them by name. Answers such as “Listen, girls…”

This story is great evidence for the existing inequality that women face, but this difference in treatment is always denied. Personally, I think that the articles on this story are lacking a response from men on this issue. If possible finding out the reaction that the developers had when they discovered Keith was non-existent.

Robot responds to president’s tweets


We should all be at least a little familiar with Donald’s Trump famous Twitter account; @realDonaldTrump.

The president’s tweets are bold and mostly childish, they can be categorized as a form of entertainment, mostly because they are hard to take seriously. He attacks anyone who offends him and twitter seems to be his main medium of expression.

But how will Donald Trump respond to an offense made by a robot?  I’m talking about a robot’s Twitter account responding to the president’s tweets with videos of a robot designed to print and set fire to them.

Since Donald Trump has opened his Twitter account in March 2009, he has gained more than 27 million followers and sent out around 35,000 tweets. His tweets bring with them a lot of controversies and are very condemning, leading to disappointment in the president even among people who voted for him.

This Tuesday a new account was introduced on Twitter with the description “Giving Trump’s tweets the attention they deserve.”

Since it went live, the account called @burnyourtweet, has posted a video each time @realDonaldTrump has tweeted. The videos posted consist of a robot printing the tweet on a piece of paper. The paper is then moved above a lighter, which sets fire to the paper and tosses it in an ashtray.

The video captions “I burned your tweet.”

After just one day of replying directly to Trump’s twitter, @burnyourtweet gained more than 10,000 followers. Many seem to praise this ritual and numerous reporters called it genius. I feel like it can be seen; as a work of art, a form of expression. A message that can be interpreted in various ways, but that shows clear disapproval in Donald Trump’s statements.

Behind the twitter account and the building of the robot is engineer David Neevel. A creative technologist from Portland who currently lives in Amsterdam.

He reasoned that Donald Trump’s tweets continuously cause negative emotions and the robot can isolate feelings because of its immunity to them.

Trump’s tweets depict his thinking. He is supposed to be a leader and an inspirational figure as he is the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world. His Twitter topics are improper for his position. His tweets can be inflammatory and, in this case, the response is a robot that turns his words into ashes.

Uber’s diversity report focuses on a truth


Uber is one of the most important ride-hailing services worldwide. With the value of nearly $70 billion, this company has been having some trouble with its image and its company culture.

Because of its current negative public perception. Uber conducted an internal investigation because of its desire to change. It consequently released a diversity report this Tuesday. This is the first report the company has ever released and it makes sense why it was kept hidden.

Uber clearly needs to step up its game, especially after the numerous scandals that occurred in the past months. The scandals include cases of female employees being sexually harassed, a viral video showing of Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber being disrespectful to a driver, and other unprofessional business practices.

The report shows the diversity of the company employees, not including the Uber drivers as they are freelancers.

The report depicted that nearly 50 percent of Uber’s employees are white, 31 percent are Asian, 8.8% are black, and the other 5.6 percent are Hispanic.

The report also showed that 36 percent of the employees are women, 15 pefcent of tech and 22 percent of leadership positions are held by women.

Uber wants to make progress by being transparent and states that there should be a balance in the ethnicity and sexes in the positions offered by the company.

Many journalists and reporters reacted with no surprise to the unbalance of female employees in Uber. In fact, many seemed to be supportive of the idea that Uber wants to fix this issue. This could be correlated to the fact that the diversity in numerous tech companies is very unbalanced and most employees, especially in higher positions consist of white males.

It’s not just Uber that has a low level of diversity. Many articles mentioned that tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and more, seem to have very similar numerical figures. For example, 67 percent of Facebook employees are men, 69 percent of Google employees are men, and so on.

The focus of most articles that I read on the issue did not focus on criticizing Uber but focused on the lack of diversity in many tech companies. Some titles of articles based on Uber’s first diversity report were: ‘Uber’s first diversity report reveals no surprises.’ Another article title on the topic ‘Uber looks like the rest of tech: White, Asian and male.’

Tech companies and their importance in our developing world continue to become more important.

London protests travel ban at film


London decides to show the world that, as a city, it does not just tolerates diversity, it celebrates it.

In Central London last Sunday, on the night of the Oscars, thousands of people attended the screening of the award-winning movie “The Salesman” to show support to its Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi. Farhadi had announced that he would boycott the ceremony in response to Donald Trump’s travel ban.

We should all be at least a little familiar with Donald Trump’s travel ban, which was announced in January. The president signed an executive order temporarily banning the entry of citizens and immigrants from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Tahardi.

In response to this travel ban, the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi told The New York Times in January that he would not attend the Oscars even if granted exception to enter the country, and stayed true to his words.

Asghar Farhardi’s movie, “The Salesman,” was nominated for best Foreign-Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards and won the Oscar hours after the screening in London.

To show unity and support for Asghar Fahardi, some well known actors and producers organized a premiere of the movie and collaborated with Sadie Khan, the mayor of London to premiere the nominated film for free in Trafalgar Square, one of London’s most important destinations.

This event was a peaceful protest, that showed that London did not agree with what Donald Trump believed in, how the focus should be on welcoming people and not banning them. I think it is beautiful how people are uniting together to share the message of acceptance, and not in violent protests or holding signs criticizing whats wrong.

Around 10,000 people showed up at the premiere of the “The Salesman,” which was occurring a few hours before the Oscars.

The Iranian director was not present at the screening, but spoke to the crowd through a recorded video of him. In the video, he apologized for not being there and said he was there in spirit. He additionally made a speech about how we are all citizens of the world and that we need to stay united.

Fahardi was not present at the Oscars, so he sent two Iranian-Americans to claim his award. Anousheh Ansari, the first female Iranian to go into space, claimed the award for Fahardi and read a speech written by him. Fahardi criticized the travel ban and called it inhumane. He apologized for not being at the ceremony, but how it was  out of respect for the people of his country.

In his speech he also stated that “Dividing the world into the “us “ and “our enemies” categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war.” Which I think is a very eye opening statement and was quoted on numerous articles on the event.

Many Journalists covered this event, highlighting and focusing on the speeches given by at the screening and the Oscars. The focus of these peaceful and powerful words puts into good light the event. Although I do feel like journalists should also focus on covering the reactions of Americans, focus on covering on how America has reacted to this peaceful and powerful protest.

I think that the extent to which London and its citizens have gone to prove a point is very inspirational. By being united together in fighting for their rights and the rights of people in other countries is quite admirable.

This protest gave a stronger message in the simplicity of attending a movie screening than in protests that could lead to disturbance with the use of negativity. I think the world is slowly progressing to stronger unification by the day and protests like these show the importance of respect in humanity.

Perry performs eye-opening awards act


The 2017 Brit awards took place last Wednesday in London and are Britain’s annual pop industry music awards, in other words, the British version of the Grammy’s. This year’s ceremony took an unexpected turn, as when it was time for the American singer Katy Perry to perform, the viewers were presented with a politically charged performance.

Katy Perry, a popular figure in the international world of pop music, performed her new single “Chained to The Rhythm” live at the Brit awards alongside Skip Marley, Bob Marley’s grandson.

The performance raised awareness on the importance of encouraging unity and stopping the hate. It had a lot to visually intake as it involved a lot of subtextual symbolism.

It is important for me to point out that even though the visual aspect of the performance already sent a powerful message, the lyrics really helped highlight and intensify the idea.

The performance started with rows of lit-up miniature houses held by backup dancers, seemingly portraying a pop-up neighborhood. Katy Perry wore a pinstripe pantsuit, she started walking among the houses singing, as the backup dancers dressed like homes moved around her.

As the performance continued, a dancing Skelton figure dressed in a black suit with a red tie entered on one side of the stage, simultaneously another dancing skeleton figure dressed in a red blazer and skirt entered on another side of the stage.

These two figures were quickly noticed to be representations of Donald Trump and Theresa May, the prime minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the conservative party. The two skeletons danced around the houses on stage and met in the front center of the platform. Skip Marley then came out to rap his verse.

The verse rapped by Marley in “Chained to the Rhythm” clearly refers to the lies and chaos brought by the political situation in the United States and invites the listeners to take a stand, referring to the people as lions. Donald Trump has attacked a variation of minorities and groups, threatening to build walls and making unacceptable generalizations leading to hate speech and intangible segregation of the people.

Skip Marley rapped:

It is my desire, Break down the walls to connect, inspire”
Ay, up in your high place, liars
Time is ticking for the empire
The truth they feed is feeble
As so many times before
They greed over the people
They stumbling and fumbling and we’re about to riot
They woke up, they woke up the lions

Towards the end of the performance the skeletons held hands, the act ended with the two singers holding hands together and pumping a fist in the air symbolizing taking a stand together and fighting back with nonviolence and unity.

I do believe that the lyrics do make the overall message incorporated in the performance stronger. Katy Perry clearly shared her concern to the people on how this situation cannot be ignored, but people are distracted by other things and if something isn’t done there will be consequences. This was the first verse:

Are we crazy?
Living our lives through a lens
Trapped in our white-picket fence
Like ornaments
So comfortable, we live in a bubble, a bubble
So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, the trouble

Lately Katy Perry has been saying that she intends to make her pop music “purposeful.” Perry had never really made any political statements before the 2017 Grammy Awards, she has always been a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and actively campaigned for her when she was running for office.

If you didn’t watch the 2017 Grammy Awards, Katy Perry performed the same song with Skip Marley, also sending a message through symbolism and collaborating with the online No Hate Speech movement. The No Hate Speech movement is youth campaign for human rights online to reduce the acceptance levels of hate speech and to raise awareness on the impacts that hate speech has on society.

At the Grammy’s, she was striding around a home surrounded by picket fences on stage, wearing an armband with the word “Persist.” Ending the set with an image of the U.S. constitution projected on the screen and shouting “no hate.” Perry’s shouting of “no hate” is associated with the online No Hate Speech movement.

There were individuals who responded to these performances with aggravation, as they were a little irritated that politics was involved in this sort of scene at the Brit Awards. But personally, I think that people are not going deep enough in understanding the message behind the performance.

Some assumed Katy Perry was just trying to make Donald Trump and Teresa May scary or just intentionally mocking them.

The irritation of certain individuals to this politically charged performance highlights what Katy Perry and Skip Marley were trying to communicate, that we cannot live in a bubble and ignore what is happening around us.

The articles covering this performance were more focused on covering the act as a parody. At some point in the performances one of the backup dancers dressed as a house fell off stage. The news media refer to this dancer as Perry’s “New Left Shark,” because during her Super Bowl performance last year, one of her dancers wearing a shark costume forgot the moves and since then the dancer has become known as the “Left Shark.”

There were many articles that focused on how funny the backup dancer that fell off stage was and not enough coverage on Katy Perry’s association with the No Hate Speech movement.

Numerous news article titles referred to Katy Perry’s performance as funny and entertaining. Journalists focused on covering how Perry made fun of Donald Trump by making his skeleton figure dance on stage. I think that this type of media coverage is distracting from the actual message of the performance and that more attention should be given to its purpose.

I admire Katy Perry for taking a risk in performing her single “Chained to The Rhythm,” her intentions are good and eye opening. Although a big part of the news media portrayed the act as a parody and focused on its political orientation, it is beautiful to see how the performance went beyond politics and entertainment, encouraging unity and respect.

Immigrants’ day sends message


America’s new political situation seems to focus on segregating immigrants from their families and their homes but, within this alarming situation, something positive is being created. The unification of immigrants and non-immigrants to stand and fight together for their rights, bringing to the surface the humanity and acceptance that there is and that should be encouraged.

“A Day Without Immigrants” is a boycott that occurred on Thursday, encouraged by activists to all Immigrants around the nation to protest and highlight the importance and contribution of their presence in the United States.

This boycott encouraged the protesters to not attend work, not send children to school, not shop online or in stores, not to eat at restaurants, not to buy gas and not to attend class.

President Donald Trump has created bad relations with numerous countries, such as Mexico and Syria, by making them outsiders and wanting to kick their citizens out of America. Trump has vowed to deprive sanctuary cities of federal funding, increase the deportation of legal and illegal immigrants, and he has blamed the high unemployment rate on them.

In response to these recent events involving Donald Trump’s immigration policies, immigrants all around the nation went on strike to send a message to the president.

On the poster advertising the boycott, it said: “To the president: without us and our contribution this country is paralyzed.”

Awareness of this protest mainly happened through social media and posters, in addition to immigrant rights groups reaching out personally. This protest was meant to involve all undocumented, residents, citizens, immigrants from all over the world, but ended up getting more support.

All around the United States, business and restaurants were closed and thousands of students did not attend school. Some of the most visibly affected areas were in San Francisco and Washington, D.C, where popular chefs closed their restaurants in support for the protest.

Restaurants were the most impacted by the strike. Some restaurants canceled their long-standing reservations and served limited menus, donating earnings to the American Civil Liberties Union. The collaboration of not just immigrants alone, but even citizens, emphasizes the acceptance and unity that the United States is known to have by embracing its diversity.

There were restaurants that posted banners outside their establishments to spread the message. Such as Nickel’s Diner in Los Angeles, that put up a sign saying “We are all immigrants.”

Some immigrant communities discouraged the participation in this protest because it was risky and did not want to put immigrants in a more difficult situation. Many immigrants stated that they really wish they could participate in this boycott but could not risk losing their jobs. Nevertheless, they fully supported the protest.

Organizers of this protest warned the participators that there was a possibility of risk when getting involved in this boycott, but that they needed to be ready to take that risk. If you have a life somewhere, a life that includes your friends, your family, your education, your job and your home; the idea that one day you may have nothing is terrifying.

Understandably, you have to fight to not lose everything you have. To me, it makes sense that many immigrants are willing to take this risk.

The protest “A Day Without Immigrants” is a way of sending a direct message indirectly, by highlighting the role of immigrants in the life of Americans by not having them there.

Having many immigrants stay home for a day, impacts everyone’s everyday life in different ways. It is unfair that entire communities are criminalized, there are bad and good people everywhere.  It is good to see people come together and fight for their dignity and their lives.

Trump doesn’t comment on Quebec


Donald Trump’s ethics are continuously questioned as he seems to easily get distracted from his duties as president and focus more on his family name and business, then on the real issues that keep arising worldwide.

Last Sunday, six people were killed and eight others were wounded in a shooting in a mosque in the city of Quebec. Trump has not said anything about this tragedy, but seems to be willing to share his opinions of his daughter’s clothing line.

The Quebec shooting, which occurred in a mosque, a Muslim place of worship, was an unexpected event as mass shootings, unlike in the United States, are fairly uncommon in Canada. The attack occurred at the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec, in a country which became known as a safe place for refugees running from warfare and terrorism in countries of Muslim majority. The shooter, although native Canadian seemed to be a Trump supporter. This makes it a very delicate topic, especially after Donald’s Trump travel ban ruling.

As people waited on the opinion of the president, he said nothing about this misfortune and didn’t even share his compassion. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior advisor justified the silence of Donald Trump by saying that he doesn’t tweet about everything. But by now we all seem to be too familiar with Donald Trump’s tweets, and so is Seth Meyers, the host on Late night, who called Trump out for his silence.

“Oh, he doesn’t tweet about everything?” Meyers said on “Late Night,” “It sure feels like he does!” Seth Meyers scrolled through Donald Trump’s tweets and pointed his tweet attacking Nordstrom, right after his intelligence briefing.

Nordstrom is an American chain of luxury department stores which announced they were no longer going to carry Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. Donald Trump tweeted “Ivanka has been treated so unfairly.” Many journalists strongly acknowledge Donald Trump’s lack of priorities and ethical behavior. The New York times brought up how Trump breaks Tradition by “singling out companies for criticism like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, automakers and news organizations.”

Donald Trump keeps constant attention on his family business, he gets overprotective when it comes to the family name, but when it comes to real issues he seems to lack the ability to make statements to show acceptance and give the nation a state of tranquility.

Donald Trump and his administration keep showing how business oriented they are instead of focusing on political issues. This only builds up continuous criticism instead and lack of trust in everything they say.  For example, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump and White house official promoted Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in a television interview and is continuing to receive criticism on ethical violations.

“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Conway said “Ivanka Trump has a wonderful line, I own some of it. I fully, I’m gonna just going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today everybody. You can find it online.” This unacceptable comment proves the lack of orientation of Trumps administration on topics that actually matter through the use of unfair business practices. This is a Potential violation of Federal ethics law that bars the use of public office for public gain.

As we still wait on his opinion on the shooting in Quebec, silence can be stronger than words, suggesting that Donald Trump does not have an interest in commenting about the shooting because he doesn’t care.

The focus in the White House needs to be prioritized and stabilized on important issues, as the distraction on personal matters gets more attention than it should. Clear opinions and solutions need to be shared more, as this will give everyone more intellectual topics to read and talk about, instead of the constant dramatic and ridiculous affairs.

Studying abroad is more than just study


Thinking about studying abroad?  Whether it’s for a semester or for the summer, these programs are more than just leaving the country but will open up a new part of you.

University is an experience, it is not just about studying and doing your homework, you get so much more out it. By being exposed to new situations and challenging who you are, you keep finding more about yourself and others. As someone who has lived in different countries, I can say that living in another country opens fascinating areas of your mind.

Many students who have studied abroad or are studying abroad are willing to share their experiences. There is a Web site where UM students write their stories on the study abroad programs called Global Reach University of Miami stories. The link is: These blogs are a great way to get a better idea of the meaning of the program.

On the Global Reach website, students share their stories on exploring the world. They talk about the ups and downs that they encountered while being in a new country, they share their ways of coping and adjusting with the issues. Learning how to overcome new obstacles, gets your brain to increase the development of problem-solving skills.

Studying abroad will allow you to experience new styles of education and will educate you on a personal level.  These programs give you the chance to see the world, come into contact with new cultures, meet new friends and find out more of your interests.