It has been a little over a year since a gunman murdered 17 students on February 14th 2018 in Parkland, Florida. In February, the school held a moment of silence and a half-day to commemorate the anniversary, reported by ABC News. The shooting was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. It catapulted some Parkland students into politics and active participants in the gun control debate. It led to some of the largest youth-led protests since the Vietnam era.
In the months following the anniversary, however, the Parkland community has been rocked by yet more tragedy: two teenage survivors of the shooting have killed themselves in the past week. Sydney Aiello, 19, took her own life after struggling with PTSD and survivor’s guilt. She also struggled to succeed in college because she was afraid to be in a classroom.
A few days later, a sophomore survivor took his own life. Police have not yet released his name nor confirmed that his suicide was linked to the shooting, though it is hard to imagine the shooting is not related to his death.
In light of this second suicide, state officials are debating activating emergency resources to address a mounting mental health crisis.
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Since nearly his presidency began, the Mueller investigation has been a dark cloud over Trump and his administration. This weekend, Mueller submitted his report to at Attorney General William Barr. Barr has subsequently released the basics of the report. It found no evidence of collusion with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 elections, but it did not conclude one way or another if Trump attempted to obstruct justice citing lack of evidence.
The Mueller examination involved 500 witnesses and nearly 2,800 subpoenas and lasted nearly two years.
For those hoping that the report will put things to bed, there is some bad news. In his statement, Barr said that “‘while this report does not conclude the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” This means that both sides of the political debates surrounding the report will not cool down. Nor are the investigations over––there are still other active investigations into the Trump administration, and House democrats will not be pleased with the Mueller report.
As to how much of the report Barr will release, he said his “goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”
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Nearly seventy years ago, the Chinese invaded Tibet under the guise of “liberating” it from “theocracy.” Since then, China has moved millions of its citizens into Tibet in an effort to overwhelm the Tibetan population and force them to assimilate into Chinese culture. The Chinese kidnapped an important religious leader, the Panchen Lama, and his family, and the Chinese installed their own puppet Lama. Now, the Chinese have come much closer to vocalizing what many observers have long feared: they will do the same with the Dalai Lama. But the Dalai Lama may have already outsmarted Beijing by announcing that he either will not incarnate or will reincarnate in India.
Whatever happens, it is certain that Tibetans loyal to the Dalai Lama will not abide by China’s “tame Lama” policy. That, in turn, will force China to enter a new stage of cultural genocide against Tibet and that will not look good.
The Tibetans were not the first victims of Chinese cultural genocide. The Chinese are currently committing cultural genocide against the Uighurs, an ethnic minority comprised mostly of Muslims. Recent news suggests that Beijing’s policy against the Uighurs is following a trajectory similar to the evolution of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.
As many as one million Uighurs are currently being held in secret concentration camps: “The allegations came from multiple sources, including activist group Chinese Human Rights Defenders, which said in a report last month that 21 percent of all arrests recorded in China in 2017 were in Xinjiang.”Read More
For two years, the Mueller investigation has been a dark cloud over the Trump administration. This week, we saw the first rays of sunlight as Mueller submitted his report to at Attorney General William Barr. Now that the report is submitted, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered:
First, AG Barr will consult wit Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller himself to determine how much of the report will go to Congress and how much will go to the public. Until then, we have to wait to see what the report contains. Adam Schiff has already threatened to subpoena the report if necessary.
So is Trump guilty or what?
Well, firstly, there will most likely not be additional charges. So those of you hoping for Trump to be led out of the White House in handcuffs will probably be disappointed. Whatever is in the report will undoubtedly get folded into contemporary political debates. Unfortunately, unless the report is incredibly decisive, both sides of the aisle will probably use the report to justify their own points.
What was the point of this, anyway?
For the “lock him up” crowd, this report may be a let down. Some may question the usefulness of the report. But there are two things everyone needs to keep in mind. First, several people have been indicted with crimes as a result of this report. Second, this report shows that the system does work, even if some don’t like the results.
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The pharmacy giants CVS is set to start selling CBD oil in 800 stores across eight states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee. CVS will sell a variety of topical cannabidiol products––things like creams, sprays, and roll-ons, as “an alternative source of relief” for pain.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, was already everywhere, even before CVS announced that it would sell it. Hemp is now a legal crop, which is leading some to hope that CBD is now going to be federally legal (not the case). Some people swear that CBD is a miracle cure, while others thing it’s snakeoil. Which is it?
While there are some studies hinting at promising results from CBD, you may not want to jump on the CBD bandwagon just yet. Cecilia Hillard, director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, notes “There’s no regulatory agency that’s overlooking (CBD oil’s) purity, its concentration, whether or not there are other things that are present in the oils like pesticides, or molds, or heavy metals and so forth.”
So before you rush to your nearest CVS, maybe read this New York Times article, which points out that CBD is so unregulated and understudied that, for now, it might be best to save your money.
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Have you ever wondered how anti-vaxxers spread their message? It’s not just through spamming facebook and instagram feeds with their tripe, it’s also through advertisements––particularly through social media. GoFundMe plans to put a stop anti-vaccination fundraisers that help spread the anti-vaccination gospel.
Larry Cook, for example, a prominent anti-vaxxer, raised nearly $80,000 through several GoFundMe campaigns. A variety of anti-vaccine groups also use GoFundMe to raise money for their funds. They believe GoFundMe’s ban on their fundraising constitutes a violation of their First Amendment rights.
GoFundMe’s decision follows a rash of disease outbreaks. Unvaccinated children are causing outbreaks all over the world, especially of measles. The anti-vaccination movement is spurred by the (mistaken) belief that vaccines are tied to autism. Not that it will matter, but another study has just demonstrated with a respectable degree of certainty that there is no connection between autism and vaccines.
Over 650,000 children were observed in Denmark, 95% of whom were vaccinated between 1999 and 2010. The data revealed no increase of instances of autism among both children who were not at risk of it (based on genetics) and those who were at risk for it. There have been 17 studies that confirm the same thing, but the belief that the two are linked––which began in 1998––remains.
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Facebook stored millions of user passwords in plaintext––meaning that they were unsecured––for years. This means that employees had access to user account info for years. Facebook claims there has been no abuse, and that people need not reset their passwords. Wired thinks otherwise because of a series of security breaches by Facebook. This is merely the latest in a series of problems Facebook has suffered.
Internally, the company is struggling with factionalism. Morale within the company is so low, in fact, that employees are paranoid that exec’s are spying on them. They’ve allegedly started using burner phones to “talk shit about the company with each other.” So not only do Facebook employees not trust each other, but they also do not trust their leadership.
The New York Times released an investigative piece revealing that, for “years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.”
To summarize: Facebook did not secure passwords internally, they regularly shared user data with loads of companies, and its own employees are miserable. Things are not looking up for Facebook.
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Once upon a time, millions of Americans were absolutely in a rage about Hillary Clinton’s emails. These people believed that, in her capacity as Secretary of State, jeopardized the security of the United States by using a private email server for her communications. There was an FBI investigation about it, just before the election. That investigation likely cost her the election, in fact. It found nothing incriminating in her emails and no negative results of using her private server.
You might think that a man who built his entire presidency on email security would uphold the strictest email security protocols in his White House. That is not the case, however. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, uses WhatsApp and his personal email for White House business. And Kushner isn’t the only one.
Ivanka also uses WhatsApp and her personal email. The WhatsApp messages between Kushner and Ivanka are particularly troublesome. WhatsApp messages are encrypted, so unless one of them turn their messages over to the government, there’s no way to tell what was in them.
Former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former adviser Stephen K. Bannon also used personal email accounts for White House business. McFarland used AOL. Yes, you read that correctly. AOL.
Adviser Stephen Miller, former chief of staff Reince Priebus, and the former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn all also used personal emails.
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that the country will ban military-style semiautomatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and any parts that enable weapons to be modified into the style of weapon involved in the Christchurch shooting.
Unlike most other mass shootings like this, the Christchurch shootings inspired immediate changes around the world. Reddit has responded to the mass shooting by banning its most violent, goriest subreddits: /r/watchpeopledie and /r/gore. The New Zealand Jewish community has taken the unprecedented step of closing their synagogues for Shabbat in solidarity with the community.
New Zealand’s willingness to ban such guns has rankled many gun-control advocates in America, who feel frustrated by their nation’s lack of motivation to pass similar bans.
Pundits from around the world have pointed to the Unite States for spreading white supremacist ideology, an ideology that inspired the Christchurch killer. Donald Trump denied that white supremacy is on the rise around the world a a consequence of the United States. But critics say otherwise Karam Dana, a professor of Middle East politics and director of the American Muslim Research Institute at the University of Washington, Bothell, has said that the “United States is the epicenter of the world in terms of how white identity is seen.” Whether the changes New Zealand has made will trickle back to the United States remains to be seen.Read More
John McCain has been dead for over half a year. His death saddened just about every patriotic American with one notable exception: Donald Trump. Trump didn’t like McCain then, as he famously said recently, and he doesn’t like McCain now. For the past week, in fact, Trump has been continually attacking the deceased war hero. Why on earth would Trump do this?
Trump invents villains to make himself look better. He learned quickly that his fans like it when he insults people, so he finds people to insult. Terrorists, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, immigrants, or in this case John McCain, Trump paints himself and his supporters are living under siege.
Making fun of alleged enemies is a great way to keep people on your side because it reminds audiences that it’s an “us versus them” world. You don’t have to do it all the time, of course, just when you’re in a spot of bother. And you don’t have to be too extreme, either, just casually mock them like a teenager might on the schoolyard. Say something like this:”They’re not dumb guys, but they’re not supersmart. They’re O.K. They’re smartish.”
And there’s another reason that Trump wants to mock McCain now. Trump knows that he can never go too far because he’s already stretched the limit of public acceptance. So he can attack someone like McCain just to stir the pot and to distract people from what’s really going on––things like the imminent Mueller report.
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In December, Elizabeth Warren launched an exploratory committee for seeking the Democratic National Committee’s nomination for president of the United States. The pool of Democrats aiming for the nomination is already very crowded and very competitive. Beto O’Rourke learned that the hard way recently––there is no room for gaffs. Warren has thus far avoided embarrassing herself, and has even made some positive headlines. But she recently had her best moment yet at a CNN town hall:
To be clear, Warren supports a constitutional amendment that will protect the right to vote for every citizen, essentially nullifying laws that prevent felons from voting. Part of that amendment, it seems, will be the abolition of the electoral college. That would mean that individual votes would be counted directly towards the presidential election rather than towards electors who would then cast their vote for president. In theory, this would mean that presidential candidates have to focus on every state, not just swing states.
There has been a lot of complaints about the electoral college in the past several elections. Are those complains justified? Bloomberg points out that no single party has consistently benefitted from the electoral college. Vox points out that abolishing it is likely impossible. CNN suggests that electoral reform needs to be nuanced.
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Since Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff, fallout has been spreading. The pilot issued a distress call after the plane struggled to ascend at a stable speed. The jet was cleared to return to Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, but it lost contact with air traffic control six minutes after takeoff and then crashed. The plane had 157 people on board, including passengers from at least thirty-five different countries. The crashed plane was a Boeing 737 Max 8. It was the same kind of plane involved in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in which 189 people died. Since then, all Boeing 737 Max airplanes have been grounded.
Subsequent investigations have indicated that anti-stalling software in the Boeing 737 Max led to both crashes. Here’s the problem. The Federal Aviation Administration paid close attention to the Boeing 737 max as they were reviewing its designs. Elaine L. Chao, United States transportation secretary, has called for an inquiry into the F.A.A.’s approval process.
The crashes have, obviously, proved disastrous for Boeing. There are nearly 5,000 planes on order, which would bring Boeing hundreds of billions of dollars. Boeing will be audited as a result of these accidents.
It is not yet clear when the 737 Max line will return to the air.
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