Orchid project launches in Grove


Botanists from Fairchild Tropical and Botanic Garden and volunteers mounted 250 rare and endangered orchid seedlings onto tree trunks in Coconut Grove. The “Million Orchid Project” is aimed at reintroducing rare and endangered orchid species that have become nearly extinct in South Florida.

Schoolyards, hospitals and roadways are among the sites for the reintroduction initiative, which aims to have the first generation of re-established orchids blooming throughout the area within five years.

“Launching the Million Orchid Project to Coconut Grove brings all the things we love about the Grove together: environment, history and beauty,’’ Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell said in a tweet.

More than 100 volunteers through Fairchild spread out through the community over the course of one afternoon.  According to Fairchild’s website, the Florida butterfly orchid and cowhorn orchid will be planted throughout the community. Each bloom may yield more than one million seeds, but the odds are that none of the tiny, dust-like seeds will ever grow into a new plant.

As of today, the only native orchids that exist in South Florida exist in such small numbers that they have little hope of recovering on their own.

Hopefully, this project will bring beauty and an orchid population back to South Florida.

Students take a knee at Notre Dame


It all began when San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem before a preseason game back in 2016 to protest racial injustices and police brutality.

Now, hundreds of students at Notre Dame followed the peaceful protest with an extra approach. Being a religious college, the students wanted to express their beliefs through a Catholic point of view.

When Notre Dame played Florida State University on Nov 10, while the “The Star- Spangled Banner” played, students took that time to express their opinion based on the issue not only on racial injustices, but the mistreatment someone faces when one does not have the same opinion as everyone else.

When Kaepernick knelt, he faced  a lot of backlash, death threats, and along trouble finding employment when he became a free agent.

“To me, this is something that has to change, and when there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand,” Kaepernick said, according to CNN.

And just like Kaepernick inspired other players to kneel beside him, so had the students at Notre Dame. Some knelt, some took that moment for silence and others prayed.
“One of the things we want to stress the most with this movement is that this is not a protest against the military or the flag, this is about how we treat each other as human beings. We don’t need to reduce people down in order to make a point. We can have a good dialogue, even if we don’t agree with each other.” said Brian Gatter, one of the organizers of the protest, according to CNN.
Although this peaceful protest was not accepted by a lot of Americans including President Donald Trumph, this incident did blow up the news media and luckily it was not kept quiet and also Kaepernick was not fired by the NFL, since their policy does not require players to stand for the national anthem.
Peaceful protests like this deserve the coverage they get, because these are the incidents that make history. Like the students protested, they were also following their former President Theodore Hesburgh footsteps as he linked arms when he protested along with Martin Luther King Jr. during a civil rights rally in 1964 as they sang “We Shall Overcome”
As for the students, no disciplinary action has been taken.

New FDA rules bring smoking changes


According to CNN, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that vaping in high school students has gone up by 80 percent among high school students, and 50 percent in middle schoolers. This has been a hard issue to deal with for the FDA as it wants to have products that get adults to quit smoking cigarettes, but not at the cost of having kids get addicted to nicotine, which shows a correlation of smoking later in life.

CNN uses a shocking statistic in this article, claiming that 3.6 million kids in high school and million are regular vapers. These regulations come after news broke that they were investigating JUUL labs for marketing their vapes to kids.

The new regulations would make it so that flavored vapes would only be able to be purchased in age restricted retail locations like smoke and vape shops instead of gas stations. This would prevent kids from being able to walk into a gas station or convenient store and get flavored nicotine products from retailers that don’t care much about age restrictions.

CNN could have done a better job with one aspect of the story. The head of the FDA said that he wants to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. He believes that these are the way kids get into smoking cigarettes. However, they then go onto say that menthol cigarettes are smoked by one in five African-Americans and then do not come back to visit the remarks on the children.

What the FDA is doing must be done to prevent kids from the dangers of being addicted to nicotine.

FDA imposes new sanctions on e-cigs


After it was all over, the news that the FDA was going to impose sanctions on JUUL and other electronic cigarette producers, the government agency is looking to take things one step further. Its goal is to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers because of the massive spike that we’ve seen in the past few years.

Now, instead of just going after JUUL and other popular devices, the agency “plans to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes in retail stores and gas stations around the country, in an effort to reduce the popularity of vaping among young people.”

The issue I have with this, which is what I had an issue with when they were going after JUUL, is that these are products that really do help people quit smoking. And since compared to smoking, they are 95 percent less harmful, they can save a lot of lives for adult smokers.

In my opinion, this is going to do more harm than good. It is going to hurt vape shop owners and instead of condemning the product they should be condemning the people who sell the products to minors without identification.

This was an article by Sheila Kaplan of The New York Times and she did a wonderful job of staying non-biased and giving the facts of the story, even though it’s an issue that can get people worked up.

12 killed at Southern California bar


Twelve people were killed Wednesday night at a popular college bar when a gunman entered the venue and began firing in Thousand Oaks, Calif., just north of Los Angeles.

Borderline Bar and Grill is a popular spot for residents of Thousand Oaks and neighboring cities. Due to its close proximity to multiple colleges and universities, it is largely attended by college students. The bar is known to most as a safe and comfortable getaway from the stress of school and other responsibilities.

However, despite being located in one of the safest cities in the country, the bar and its occupants came under fire late Wednesday night when gunman Ian David Long entered and began shooting at the large crowd. Wednesday nights are known as “College Nights” at Borderline and the bar was therefore packed with excited teens and young adults.

The shooter, Long, was a resident of Newbury Park, only a few minutes drive from Thousand Oaks. CNN reported that he “was a Marine veteran who often visited the site of the shooting.” Long died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds at the scene.

Names of the victims are slowly being released and friends and families learn the fates of their loved ones. The confirmed dead include a law enforcement officer from Ventura County, a freshman at Pepperdine University and a recent graduate of Cal Lutheran University.

The investigation is still underway to determine a possible motive.

Uber, Lyft popular in Boston area


Boston taxi companies have seen their business continue to plummet over the past few years, largely due to the rise of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Bostonians have lauded the apps for helping them move around the city for less money and in a shorter amount of time.

Jim O’Donnell, a Boston University professor of city planning and urban development, wrote how he believes Uber and Lyft have thrived in cities due to the innovative way they connect the same services taxis provide to one’s phone.

“When you get in a taxi cab, you don’t know what it’s going to cost, when you’re trying to hail a taxi cab, you don’t know when it’s going to come. I think that that has been a real inconvenience for a lot of people,” he stated. “Ride apps allow one to get all the information about their trip length, price and availability at their fingertips.”

Along with the taxi industry, public transportation has also taken a hit from the advent of ride-sharing. While residents might benefit from catching Ubers, a report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council found that the city has been suffering from this switch. According to the report, the average ride-hailing trip represents 35 cents of lost revenue for the MBTA.

Efforts to combat these issues have been put in place by the Massachusetts government. Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law in 2016 issuing a charge of five cents per ride to be given to a taxi innovation fund.

MAPC has estimated that 15 percent of ride-hailing trips are taken during rush hour by people who would have otherwise used public transit. This has implications of traffic congestion, air pollution and dangerous emissions.

State executes man with electric chair


The utilization of capitol punishment in the United States has been a long standing topic of controversy, with many states opting for life sentences as an alternative. Some states, such as Tennessee still support and practice the death penalty — on Thursday, the electric chair was used for the first time in five years on an inmate at a Tennessee prison.

Edmund Zagorski smiled right up until the “sponge and helmet were put over his head,” reporter Adam Tamburin stated. In 1984, 24-year-old Zagorksi was arrested just days after he lured two young men to a wooded hunting area and murdered them. He was charged with two counts of first degree murder.

At the time of the murders in Tennessee, the death sentence was the mandatory punishment for a capitol murder conviction. Zagorski eventually confessed to the murders on the presence that he would get to dictate certain aspects of his execution. He was sentenced to the death by electrocution in March of 1984 — 11 months after the murders.

Currently 31 states still uphold using capitol punishment, with six states — Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky — that still have the electric chair as an option. There have been oppositions towards the death penalty, with many stating it is unethical and inhumane, causing 19 states to abolish the use of capitol punishment.

Zagorki sat on death row for 34 years. In the months leading up to his death, his execution date was altered several times as was the method that would be used.  He was ultimately granted his wish of death by the electric chair. His last words were “let’s rock,” reported CNN.

Curbelo meets man who threatened him


U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida’s 26th district recently met with a constituent of his who threatened to kill him on Twitter. Homestead teenager Alejandro Verges-Castro was arrested by the FBI after tweeting a threat to the congressman on Oct. 24.

Instead of staying away from the teen who threatened him, Curbelo appeared with the teenager today in an attempt to forgive the young man.

Our country is dealing with an immense amount of violent political  speech from both sides of the aisle that is sometimes orchestrated through biased news media coverage. Instead of putting fire to the flame, Curbelo instead accepted the teenagers apology and used him as  an example that words have actual meaning, even on twitter.

These threats came around the same time that an Aventura man was sending bombs in the mail to top democratic leaders.

The Miami Herald covered the incident extremely well, focusing on the idea that there can be political discussion in this country while also being civil, something that seems to be lost among today’s population, young or old.

Although this is one small example of political violence with words impacting a young mans life, it is great to see a congressman express remorse and compassion while also trying to steer the political discussion to civil discourse, not threats.

Blackface costs woman her job


Halloween is that one time of year where you can dress up as almost anything you want, Key word being almost. You have people impersonating police officers, dressing up as policemen/women, and even Jesus Christ himself. But when is it that people can say “you have taken it too far”?

For about a week, many stories have gone out about men and women using “blackface” as part of their costume.

In Missouri, Shelbi Heenan, a Caucasian-American, was terminated from her job, St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was a registered nurse. Her post went viral on Facebook where she and another man dressed as the power couple Jay Z and Beyoncé. Her clothing was fine, but both her and the male companion colored their faces and hands for a black pigmentation.

Sharon Solomon, a friend of Shelbi, tweeted Tuesday “You know what’s REALLY insulting!? That one day out of the entire F-N year people can’t  stop trying to tag another as racist! IT’S A COSTUME! She is intentionally trying to look like Beyonce! Beyonce is black…. so to get the entire look, dark makeup!”

But she was not the only one to face consequences.

Philadelphia Police are currently investigating a employee who is currently on “desk duty” for the use of blackface. Officer Hung Nguyen also posted his costume on his Facebook account where his face was colored black with a white t-shirt and a Afro wig. Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew thinks there is a nexus in the photo; it could have been a computer graphic instead of Officer Hung physically painting his face black. The case is still currently under investigation.

Is there a way for people to dress up as someone of the opposite descent without coloring their skin?

Trans model attacks Trump agenda


The Trump Administration is making plans to lawfully define gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”

Today, Vogue decided to cover the advent of this leaked government information through the eyes and voice of transgender model and author of the article Teddy Quinlivan.

Instead of just quoting Quinlivan, having her write the actual article better conveys the drama of such a shocking and backwards-thinking potential law. For example, Quinlivan writes, “I’m 24 now, I’ve met dozens of other trans and non-gender conforming people and I know I’m not alone. I no longer feel threatened by the bullies in school and the establishment that protected them and reinforced their prejudice. Now I feel threatened by the United States government.”

Quinlivan lives her own reality of what it means to be a transgender woman in a world that is just beginning to accept them. Her tone sounds serious and dire – and reading this article gives just as broad a picture of what the Trump administration is trying to do as any hard news story you would find on CNN or The New York Times.

In my opinion, this narrative actually provides information in a much more readable, more relatable format. People are often drawn to personal stories that act as nut graphs for wider issues, rather than the sometimes-boring news briefs you see on major news sources.

Quinlivan describes her personal struggle and then segues into the broader implications of trans rights and Trump’s prejudices. The article’s passionate tone in portraying the gravity of the issue makes it all the more appealing to a reader.

Wigs are worse than hate crimes?


The rate of hate crimes has gone up over the past several years, yet it has received little media attention.

Eric Blankenstein, a senior Trump appointee responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination, used to write blogs and once questioned in if using the n-word was inherently racist and said that the majority of hate crimes were big hoaxes.

In a statement, Blankenstein admitted that he wrote the posts but claims they have no bearing on his work now.

According to WBAL-TV 11, “from vandalism to murder, a new report from Maryland State Police shows that Maryland is seeing more hate crimes.”

In 2017, Maryland saw a 35 percent increase in hate crimes since 2016. This has also been a nationwide increase. Despite this severe issue, sources such as CNN, Variety and the Huffington Post seem to spend more time talking about irrelevant issues.

The problem right now is that there are so many irrelevant topics of debate that the issue of hate crimes, racism, and anti-Semitism seem to have been put on the back burner.

In other words, people right now are more focused on minor issues of perceived political correctness, such as banning Speedy Gonzalez reruns and removing Apu from “The Simpsons” than the actual issue of ending hate crimes.

The way many people enjoy pretending to be offended by very minor things puts others under a false impression that racism is over even though it’s clearly not.

Even though Speedy Gonzalez offended Americans over potential Hispanic stereotypes, the Looney Tunes cartoon character remained popular in Latin America. This means the people that Americans thought would be offended by the character were not offended, yet Americans were.

Another example of people wasting their time was with Vogue’s recently released photo with of Kendall Jenner, with an Afro. This was somehow considered racist because she didn’t really have an Afro?

These people should instead spend their time raising awareness of hate crimes and should try to take action in their communities to prevent violence, vandalism, and any other crimes against people on the basis of race, religion, sexuality and or nationality. News editorials should promote this idea.

Lolita remains at Miami Seaquarium


Since the sensational, real tale of Keiko’s 1993 movie “Free Willy” came out, there has been numerous protests and campaigns to attempt Lolita to be the next killer whale to be returned to the ocean. Unfortunately, a federal appeals court has ditched once again Lolita’s freedom due because of the fact the 51-year-old killer whale is not fit to return to the ocean.

Lolita is the loneliest orca living in the smallest killer whale tank in the nation. She was taken from her pod as a baby and was sold for only $6,000. She’s been captive for 47 years and now suffers serious blindness from pool cleaning chemicals, deadly skin rashes from the sun, and head trauma due to slamming her head against the tank wall.

According to WLRN, a suit that involved claims of violating the Endangered Species Act due to the “harming” and forcing Lolita to do tricks she does not understand and teeth scratches from other dolphins that sometimes share her tank are just some of the mistreatment from which Lolita is suffering.

If it was not for social media, people would never find out that every Sunday animal activists gather together at the gate of the Miami Seaquarium to educate and encourage families to not buy a ticket and stop supporting the real mistreatment the park hides from its customers.

Thanks to another documentary called “Blackfish” in 2013, people have become more aware of the horrible and terrible conditions and routines killer whale orcas have to go through on a daily basis at Sea World. It showcases the psychological trauma the innocent orcas experience.

I do not believe this cause is getting enough attention in the news. Not enough reports are being made and not even broadcast stations are talking about it. The parking lot of Miami Seaquarium is more than triple the size the pool tank where Lolita lives.

This is not the first time Lolita’s case has been brought up to court. The non-profit advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, asked to reopen the case even though it was dismissed by a lower court.

“This ruling sentences a highly intelligent, deeply lonely and distressed orca to a lifetime of physical and psychological harm, confined to a tiny concrete cell without family, friends, or freedom, it ignores today’s understanding of the way orcas suffer deeply in captivity and PETA will continue pushing for Lolita’s release into a protected seaside sanctuary in her home waters,” PETA attorney Jared Goodman said.

News organizations should report about this incident. They need to take action to bring awareness about Lolita because the more people know, the more chances Lolita has of at least being transferred to a sanctuary. Lolita will be better in a sanctuary because no orca does the things she does in the wild; it is not in her nature.

The internet is a great outlet for news organizations that are advocates for Animal Rights. But if more news outlet join the cause, I am sure we can make a difference.

Animals that are used for entertainment suffer a lifetime of torture and mistreatment. If Lolita is not fit to return to the wild because she has been in captivity for too long, that is like saying kidnapped people cannot escape because they won’t function in society since they have been kidnapped for too long.

Recovery from Florence continues


It’s been nearly a month since the hit from Hurricane Florence on the Carolinas and other regions along the East Coast and we are still healing from it.

The hit on Sept. 9 of this year still has some of North Carolina flooded. Vox reported that the climate change caused the storm to be more damaging than expected.

The temperature increased prior to the storms hit on the the east coast region causing the storms rainfall and sea level to rise. Floods are as high as 35 inches and approximately 10 trillion gallons between North, South Carolina, and Virgina.

A dog has recently been rescued after spending nearly a week floating on a couch. Owners left behind the dog while fleeing to another state. They called a local humane society but rescuers were not able to locate the house because of the high floods, but were lucky enough to find the dog on the third go ‘round.

It has also been reported that nearly 50 people have lost thier lives due to Florence. There are also about $22 billion worth of damage that needs to be repaired as well. Donations can be made at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-435-7669.

College basketball is broken


This past week, a trial regarding James Gatto, a former Adidas executive, began as he is being charged with two counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charges stem from a $100,000 payment to University of Louisville guard Brian Bowen. The payment was made on behalf of the university in order to ensure Bowen would play basketball for the school.

While the trial has only just begun, Gatto’s attorneys have shed light on an issue that has been well known among college basketball fans for a long time. The issue is that major college basketball programs work with agents and apparel companies to pay high school students to play for them. Bowen’s case is hardly the first known instance of students being paid and certainly not the last.

Another recent example is Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton who also received $100,000 from an agent that was orchestrated through University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller. These cases are just in the past year, but the issue is widespread and widely known. The Ringer’s Mark Titus, a former Ohio State basketball player, explained the issue in a February column when he said, “For decades, it’s been the worst-kept secret in sports that the highest level of college basketball has been controlled by agents, shoe companies, runners, and rogue coaches.”

In response to these “new” findings, the NCAA will suspend the few players who were unlucky enough to get caught receiving benefits and ignore the fact that most top-level recruits are paid for their services. But why aren’t journalists looking to expose the entire system?

Young men who are offered great sums of money shouldn’t be expected to refuse, especially those who may need the money to support their families. And the coaches who participate in this system are required to in order to win games, because if they don’t, they will be fired for someone else willing participate in the scam. The fault lies on the governing body who is supposed to oversee and protect these student-athletes, the NCAA.

While it is easy to pick on the NCAA’s hypocrisy, all journalists, not just college sports journalists, should look to expose the entire issue. Unless someone is a die-hard sports fan, they would have no knowledge of the corruption involved in college basketball. But the issue of young men being offered grand sums of money while being expected to refuse it is something that should be exposed to all. Especially when you consider that march madness, college basketball’s premier event, generated almost $900 million in profit during the 2017 season.

Widespread corruption, big money and the potential abuse of young men should be a national story every day until everyone understands just how flawed the system is. Because handing down phony suspensions and sanctions to the programs that are caught won’t stop the issue anytime soon.

Miami airport gets a furry flyer


Miami International Airport unrolled a new plan to relieve stressed travelers. The new therapy dog program, the Miami Hound Machine, began service on Sept. 24.

Located in Concourse D, five trained therapy dogs — Abbey, Belle, Dash, Donovan and Pico — will be available to passengers. This new plan unfolds as the busiest travel time of the year approaches.

Airline officials hope this will impact travelers’ decisions to bring their own therapy pets onto flights during the holiday season. In recent years, many airports and airlines have seen an influx of travelers bringing emotional support animals on flights. After numerous complaints, companies like Delta, Southwest and United Airlines have followed through with an overhaul to their pet policy.

“Therapy dogs are a no-brainer for airport customer service. If a passenger is having a bad day or under stress, what’s better than a loving, happy dog to put you at ease? They’re known as man’s best friend for a reason,” Miami-Dade Aviation spokesman Greg Chin said in a statement to the Miami Herald.

The Miami Hound Machine program will be using dogs through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a separate program that works internationally to certify and train K-9’s to become therapy dogs.

Opioid bill passes in Congress


This country has had an opioid problem that has reached the level of an epidemic. In 2017 there were 72,000 deaths from drug overdoses, while 50,000 of those came from opioids. After years of attempting to address this issue, the U.S. House and Senate have finally compromised on a bill which aims to help those with addiction, as well as stop opioids from being on the streets.

Abby Goodnough from The New York Times wrote an article about this new bill, titled, “In Rare Bipartisan Accord, House and Senate Reach Compromise on Opioid Bill.” In the article, she describes the main elements of the bill and how it is supposed to help people.

What she did a wonderful job of was that she got quotes from a third-party addiction specialist who broke down what will work and not work about the bill. The reason this is so important to do, especially on a subject like this, is that there is so much that goes into this bill that normal people don’t understand. The specialist goes into detail about what she thinks will not work.

The one thing that is not addressed enough is the section titled “alternative to opioids.” This seems like something that should really be focused on, but is the shortest section of the article. she also listed alternative, smaller packaging as an option, which it is not.

I specifically like how the article relates this bill to the AIDS bill that passed in the 1990s, because that was incredibly successful.

This was a quality article, especially because she took a political hot button issue and focused it more on the bill itself.

Old school, meet new school


In most of the 20th century, school was a lot different during those times compared to today. No WiFi, let alone computers were just being invented. There was a time where students passed notes across classrooms. Cell phones have made note passing extinct.

But a school in Hephzibah, Ga., is bringing a procedure back that may be a conflict in today’s society. The Georgia School of Innovation and the Classics is bringing back the “paddling procedure” as a form of punishment for students.

According to CBS News, the charter school sent out consent forms to parents explaining the new policy of using a wooden board to “spank” a child as punishment.

“A student will be taken into an office behind closed doors,” the form read. “The student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle,” Part of the form reads.

This new policy cause a big commotion in the community of this small town, but one-third of the parents at the school gave the school consent to used this 19th century procedure.

“In this school, we take discipline very seriously,” Superintendent Jody Boulineau said. “There was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn’t have the problems that you have.”

The form goes on to go into detail on the “corporal punishment”.  Students are given two chances to behave properly. After the third offense, the student is “eligible” for a beating. The paddle will be 24 inches long, 6 inches wide, and three-quarters of an inch thick. They will not be struck no more than three times.

When the student receives the paddle treatment, the parents will be notified. But the parents who were against the new policy must agree on a five-day suspension from school.

Since 2011, more than 30 states have banned corporal punishment, Florida and Georgia are not one of those states. This gives the charter school the green light to practice their new policy with the consent of the parent. Since the announcement, The Georgia School of Innovation and the Classics have received negative reports via Google Review, causing the rating of school to drop by two points.

Only time will tell to learn if this policy helps the school academically and/or behaviorally.

Smart braces for release of captor


On the evening of June 5, 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart went to bed as she did every night, alongside her younger sister in their shared bedroom. However, in the middle of night Smart was awoken by a man who told her to come with him and be silent. Smart, fearing for her life, complied, and was led out of the house.

After months of searching for the missing teen, hope to find her alive began to dwindle in the community. Unbeknownst to the world, Smart was alive and being held captive by the man who took her from her home, Brian David Mitchell, and his accomplice Wanda Barzee. Smart was taken out in public on several occasions wearing a disguise, but the strange costumes eventually caught public eye.

On March 12, 2003, nine months after her abduction, Smart. Mitchell and Barzee were confronted and questioned by police while out in the park. Police recognized smart and she was taken to the police station and reunited with her family.

Smart endured months of starvation, rape and cruelty while with her captors. Mitchell was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and Barzee was sentenced to 15 years. Recently CNN reported, Barzee wasn’t expected to be released from state prison for at least another five years. But after receiving credit for time served in federal prison, Barzee is scheduled for release on Sept. 19.

Now, Smart fears for her the safety of herself, her children and others in the community. In a news conference Smart pleaded for the decision to be reconsidered. While it does not look like Smart will win her plea, she is still continuing to fight against her captors and receive justice for her torture.

FDA’s new target: JUUL use


The JUUL is an electronic cigarette that has become increasingly popular with high school and college students since its release in 2015. Now, the Federal Drug Administration is putting its foot down when it comes to teenage vaping.

Sheila Kaplan and Jan Hoffman of The New York Times wrote a fantastic piece, titled, “F.D.A. Targets Vaping, Alarmed by Teenage Use,” about the FDA’s actions as well as the possible consequences for JUUL and other electronic cigarette companies.

Hoffman and Kaplan make the FDA’s main concern very clear. They are worried that these companied, specifically JUUL, are advertising and purposely selling their product to teenagers. The concern there is obviously that teenagers who have never smoked before will become addicted to nicotine via using these sleek devices. The FDA referred to this as the modern-day version of the Joe Camel advertisements.

The article also took quotes from the spokeswoman for JUUL. They said that they will work with the FDA and comply with them to keep their products out of the hands of teenagers.

While news reporters did a great job portraying both sides of the argument (pro and anti-government regulation) they failed to do one thing. They did not list statistics for how many adults, over the age of 18, have used devices like these to quit smoking, and how that population will be affected. The talk of regulation has been a concern in the vaping community and it would have added another element to the article to voice the concerns of people who have used JUUL and other companies to quit their cigarette addictions.

This is a big issue and one that is very obvious, especially if you walk around a high school or college campus. This article now has put this issue out in to the open for the general public to discuss and debate.

Police shooting coverage incomplete


The Texas police shooting of Botham Jean last Thursday appeared on news sites across the country. The same basic facts are being reiterated: police officer Amber Guyger’s affidavit, the lawyers’ of the victim’s  family disputing some of the facts in it (namely that the door was ajar), and other general information. The stories take on the expected inverted pyramid structure, but some articles on the news issue exclude key information  that adds to the full portrait of available knowledge.

This begins with the exclusion of the initial search warrant for Guyger’s arrest and how it contradicts the arrest warrant that follows. The arrest warrant supports Guyger’s affidavit, while the search warrant supports the Jeans’ lawyers. Early in the coverage, NBC affiliates reported that a anonymous police source offered information supporting the lawyers’ claims that the door was not ajar, but eventually took it down due to this information contradicting the arrest warrant. That being true, a recognition of the altered information as opposed to not including the original information paints a more complete picture of the news.

This article took on a unique angle, focusing on the mystery witnesses that claim Jean confronted Guyger at the door and they heard yelling the night of his shooting. The interviewing of uninvolved expert lawyers added a more objective view of the case, unlike other articles that only included the words of the family lawyers and other people who had direct ties to the case.

One of these family lawyers is Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and other black men who were shot. This tidbit of information was not mentioned in many of the articles I read, even though he was quoted in some.  Most people would recognize the cases he has represented, but not his name, so I find it important to specify who he is