Monday, January 30, 2017

Rise of the machines: Fear robots, not China or Mexico

President Trump paints the image that the greatest threat to American manufacturing jobs is Mexico, China, and global trade. Obama however, believes that the greatest danger to middle class jobs does not come from overseas, but from the growth of automation. To put this idea into perspective, there are almost 5 million less manufacturing jobs due to the addition of robots than there were in 2000. In contrast, around the years 1998-2012, China only took nearly 1 million jobs and Mexico only took 800,000. Furthermore, one study (Look at the image above) finds that 87% of the manufacturing job losses came from automation and better technology, whereas 13% came from trade. Of course, automation also creates jobs in that higher skilled workers need to manage the new technology. Despite that, I still believe job loss will be greater than the job gain. 

This situation reminds me of the Industrial Revolution, in which new inventions, such as the steamboat and sewing machine, were created to maximize production and efficiency at the cost of manual laborers. Those inventions have provided convenience and benefit to modern society, but workers in the past faced similar woes to the current situation. Do you believe that the new automation bring more benefit than consequences in the future like the inventions of the Industrial Revolution? Where do you think the workers that lose their jobs will go? 

Trump and Putin Connect, but Avoid Talk of Lifting U.S. Sanctions

Recently, President Trump has been engaging in many phone conversations with a variety of foreign leaders, specifically European allies including Britain, Germany, and France, however most notably was his congenial conversation with Russia's President Putin. While they made civil efforts to discuss combating terrorism and expanding upon economic ties, they steered clear of more contentious topics that have caused controversies between our two nations in the past, such as Russia sponsoring the separatist war in Ukraine and the recent allegations of Russian hacking of the U.S. elections in favor of Trump, which the FBI is currently investigating. More controversial would be Trump's expressions of intent to lift the economic sanctions (of which both Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and President Hollande of France have advised against, and which Senator Mitch McConnell favored a bipartisan legislature to keep in place), however this was also neglected to be mentioned in the conversation a couple of days ago.

These attempts at reconciliation between the U.S. and Russia bringing me back to the Cold War, a somewhat characterized relation of capitalism vs communism between our two nations with tensions arising from a desire to dominate international affairs, procuring a number of different crises including the Cuban missile crisis.

Trump claims to be making efforts at repairing these relations, however to me it seems as if the bases of which tension has been prolonged between our two nations are interestingly not being addressed. What do you think about Trump's claimed efforts at repairing relations? What about with other countries? How do you think the nature of our foreign relations will either change or reflect similarities of relations in the past?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Immigration Ban: Chaos and Outcry Worldwide

On Friday, January 27, at 4:42pm, president Donald Trump enacted an order that restricts the entry of refugees and people from many Muslim countries. A judge's ruling blocked out part of the order. Read the full article here.

This incident first made me think of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese emigration for 10 years in the late 19th century (and got renewed 10 years later), just like how Trump suspended entry for Syrian refugees indefinitely and Muslim countries for 90 days. However, these events did have different motives; the Chinese Exclusion Act was supported primarily by people who feared economic competition, whereas Trump's order was "a first step towards re-establishing control over America's borders and national security," according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Immigration Act of 1924, which included the National Origins Act, seemed more related. In addition to limiting the number of immigrants from a particular country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the US, it "outright banned the immigration of Arabs and Asians." Almost all of the countries which were blocked by Trump's orders on Friday seemed to have been restricted by this 1924 act (although the Immigration Act only applied to people seeking immigration, not entry, to the US). As you can tell from the article, Trump's actions seem controversial to many, but similar actions have been taken against immigrants and foreigners in the past. What differentiates Trump signing executive orders from Coolidge signing the Immigration Act in 1924? Do you have similar feelings toward both presidents' actions?

Sidenote - this comment was on the article received over 3,000 upvotes, and I thought that it was interesting to think about: "How ironic, only one day after the Holocaust Day of Remembrance! Who in the United States has a relative denied sanctuary at that horrific time, who later perished? How will Kushner advise the President, grandfather to his own children, who are themselves descendants of Holocaust survivors?" I didn't make a connection to the Holocaust before reading this comment, but do you think that we can draw some parallels here? Could the US be blocking out refugees who are simply trying to escape violence?

Travelers Stranded and Protests Swell Over Trump Order

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Over the weekend Trump against other republican opinion made an executive order on limiting travel from several countries. To this there was a quick and strong backlash of many people coming together in their local airports to fight for the rights of the refugees. Trump claims it to have no connection to religion which many of the protesters have connected to it,"Muslim Ban" but instead a higher security against high risk terrorist countries. This order reminds me of the past immigration restrictions placed on people such as the Chinese exclusion in 1882, with them being restricted to angel island.Why do you think Trump has made this decision even against his fellow republicans- would it have different reactions if it was placed at a different time? If it was other countries, that weren't highly Muslim concentrated would there be different reactions from the people?  How have past events involving refugee restrictions encouraged the reactions of the people today?

First human-pig embryos made, then destroyed

The Salk Institute has recently experimented with implanting human stem cells into pig embryos. The experiment was stopped at four weeks for safety reasons, but it was long enough to prove that the embryos had started to show promising signs of tissue development. This has some similarity to eugenics because this experiment also hopes to benefit the human race, this time by creating ways to grow human organs inside other animals for medical transplants. Like in eugenics, scientists aim to better human lives by finding research for transplants that can hopefully lengthen some lives.

Additionally, there are ethical concerns. I don’t think the experiment is safe because there’s a possibility that the embryo can be harmed, including its brain, which could be damaged or altered, but what do you think? Is it ethical to risk the embryo’s safety? Are those ethical concerns worth it if scientists are able to get more research for growing human organs?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trump looking to appoint investment executive to lead U.S. Navy

Article Link
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to name Philip Bilden, a private equity investment executive, to be his first secretary of the Navy. If Trump picks Bilden as the head of the department of the Navy, it will add another wealthy businessman to his list of appointments rather than military or political leaders to run the military service agencies. Last month, Trump chose billionaire businessman and NHL team owner Vincent Viola as secretary of the Army. Bilden does have extensive financial experience in Asia and was even named one of Asia’s most influential people by Asian Investor magazine. Still, many see Bilden's lack of military and government experience as a problem.

Trump’s wish to strengthen the military can be related to Alfred T. Mahan’s belief of the importance of sea power back in the late 19th century. Mahan believed that nations with a strong navy were the most powerful and civilized. It was essential to develop a strong navy to spread U.S. influence abroad. Unfortunately, putting in charge someone who has no experience and little knowledge about military issues, may not be the appropriate way on trying to achieve certain goals. What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe Trump is making the right choices for his cabinet? Why or why not?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

British cops used a Taser on a black man they thought was a robber. He was their race-relations adviser.

Image result for Bungling officers taser their own black Race Relations Advisor in the face

Article link
Video of this controversy is posted on YouTube, follow the article link to watch it.
However, strong language is used.

Searching in the area for a suspected robber, the police of Bristol, United Kingdom came across 63-year old Judah Adunbi who was walking his dog at the time. In their brashness, officers suspected Adunbi of being the robber and attempted to arrest him. Ironically, the man they had cornered was the founding member of their Independent Advisory Group, a group meant to smooth out the differences between the police and community. With his hands in the air to illustrate his nonviolent demeanor, Adunbi attempted to enter his house after failing to identify himself. The police, forcing their way into his house, shot him with a taser and additionally fought to handcuff his other hand after he eventually gave them his wallet for the police to identify him with. A clear show of excessive force, officers instead charged Adunbi of assaulting an officer and also using "threatening and abusing behavior".

After his identification at the hospital, all charges were dropped towards Adunbi who instead engaged in a much needed "constructive conversation" with the two officers.

As seen so many times in the last few years, violence towards minorities has become a prominent news grabber in today's day and age. However, in a British society where the possession of firearms is illegal, the amount of times an officer in Britain and Wales has had to discharge his weapon between 2004 and 2013 was fewer than 10 times a year. Nevertheless, a good portion of incidents involving the public and their protectors often has had skin color being a factor, which leads me to my questions: 
  1. Wary of law enforcement's innately negative attitude towards people with African descent, was Adunbi right in his choice to not give his name knowing well enough he would anger the police? Should he have told them his position as a founding member of their advisory group, and do you think there will be a point in time where this will be necessary?
  2. Do you believe despite the fact that Adunbi plays such a prominent role in the healing of relations between society and the police, that this attack is symbolic of the rift that may never heal between minorities and errant law enforcement (being that the police could willingly attack anyone)?

At Least 18 Die as Tornadoes Sweep Southeast

Article Link 

This past weekend, storms hit the Southeast and damaged the lives of many. Recently, I had the chance to meet several kids from places such as Georgia and Texas, two states affected by the tornadoes. The idea that kids like these could be affected by these storms makes the situation a lot more real for myself, and makes handling the issue efficiently and quickly all the more important. Storms and natural disasters have plagued our society and societies in general throughout history, including disasters in our own city of San Francisco when it was hit with an earthquake. 

My questions are simple. One, what do you think would be the appropriate channels to treat a situation such as this? Is the federal government necessary, as it says in the article, or should this be left to private citizens and local governments. What emergency assets need to be utilized during a time like this? Also, the article mentions "unseasonably warm temperatures". Could this be because of global warming? 

Cubans Newly Blocked at U.S. Border Place Hopes in Trump

Link to the NYT article:
Link to the NBC article:

The Obama administration had recently made the decision to terminate the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allowed Cubans who arrived on U.S. soil without visas to remain in the country and gain legal residency. The Cubans now place hopes in President Donald Trump to let them through the border. However, this issue can possibly place President Trump in an awkward position. Although one of the main reasons President Trump was elected is due to his policy to not let illegal immigrants slip through the American border, he has also recently threatened to overturn Obama's executive orders and "get tough" on the Cuban government. In addition, in a previous NBC article, Trump believed the Cuban Adjustment Act to be "very unfair" to the current U.S. immigration system, as there are "people who just walk across the border, and you have other people that do it legally"— which is contradicting to his recent statements about Cuba.

The Cuban Adjustment Act is somewhat similar to the Naturalization Act of 1790, which allowed "free white persons of good moral character," who had resided in the nation for two years and kept their current state of residence for a year, to apply for citizenship. What do you guys think? Do you believe President Trump will let Cubans through the border, or is he going to stop them from crossing the border? How will President Trump's decision effect the U.S.-Cuba relations?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Multi-Dimensional Issue of Inequality

        The recent Women’s March on Washington opened a lot of controversial discussion regarding inclusivity by intertwining racism through its purpose. The current association of the fundamental rights of people of color and those of women is similar to its connection after the Civil War as the battle for African Americans' suffrage, in a way, also prompted the battle for women's suffrage. 
        LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant opted out of the Women’s March on Washington because “there is a long history of black women being overlooked by, excluded from and co-opted into events the profess to be for the benefit of all women but that at their core almost exclusively benefit middle class, straight, white women.” The argument of intersectionality, in this context, is the idea that even in the fight for women, there remains disproportionate inequality due to other areas for discrimination. While I agree that issues concerning inequality are multi-dimensionally related, leaders of the Women’s March argued for the protection of women’s rights with the intent to unite. As each person interprets the purpose of the march differently, what is your opinion on bringing racism into the discussion? Is it more effective to focus on one aspect of inequality or to fight all areas of inequality simultaneously?

Women’s marches: More than one million protesters vow to resist President Trump

Article Link

I'm sure all of you guys have heard of, in one way or another, the protests against Donald Trump and his immensely displeasing statements against women that have been in action around the country. According to The Washington Post, the series of protests started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree which expanded not just across cities of the USA, but in cities of other countries as well, for example Paris and London. While protesters were mostly female, there were male protesters who either shared the same fear and/or wanted to support their friends and family. 

These protests reminds me of the process to great changes in the past, for example women's suffrage and the battle for African American rights. In the beginning, I had thought protests against Trump weren't going to necessarily make a change but due to the intensity of recent events, I do think there would be a significance in which people of the future will remember us by. What do you guys think? Whether these protests are happening because a change is desired or if people just want to get their voices heard, do you think it will be remembered? 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nominee Betsy DeVo’s has Little Knowledge of Education Policies

For the last week there has been countless debates over Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald. Trump’s choice for new Secretary of Education. Being a prominent Republican billionaire with a surplus of financial investments, in addition with being a supporter of steering public dollars to private schools; there is a legitimate reason for some concern over this nominee. During a press conference on January 16th, DeVos was questioned on matters regarding her new position.

According to the article, when questioned on the subject of growth and proficiency, DeVos appeared hold no basic knowledge of educational terms. Furthermore, she continued to demonstrate her lack of knowledge when she suggested that school officials should be allowed to carry guns on the premises to defend against grizzly bears. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  What are your thoughts on DeVos? Do you think she should be our new Secretary of Education?

"North Korea readies long-range missiles on mobile launchers"


According to CNN, who sources from the Yonhap news agency in South Korea, North Korea has placed two intercontinental ballistic missiles on mobile launchers and may fire them for a test launch in the near future. The news agency hear that this is an attempt to send a "strategic message" to president-elect Donald Trump. This missile activity is not uncommon in North Korea; this is their way of "greeting" newly elected Presidents of the U.S., whether it me by a nuclear test or missile launch. Due to this "tradition" for North Korea, it was also said that increased activity at nuclear sites may result in an increase in plutonium production to fuel future nuclear weapons. 
While the readying of weapons for the "new president welcome" seems harmless due to previous occurrences, the mobile launchers that the missiles are placed on are said to give little to no notice for its launching. What do you think would happen globally if North Korea really did launch a missile towards America and not just for a test? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Best Tips for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump

After my name got in this Slate article, I got approached by Teen Vogue to write a piece for them. I was reticent at first, but then I saw it as my opportunity to show you all what "getting your voice heard" looks like. If I ask you all to write essays and practice argumentative writing/speaking that could exist in the "real world", then I need to produce examples of it, too. No reason to comment with awkward forced praise - that's not what I'm looking for. I'm just proud of myself, and it's okay to say that sometimes, and wanted to share. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

World’s 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half of Global Population

       This year the OXFAM organization and Forbes researched and estimated the the net worths of the world's most wealthy. They discovered that the top eight most richest men in total are worth approximately $426.2 billion, or about the estimated total wealth of the lower 3.6 billion of the world's population. Each of these men are famed for their revolutionary contributions to modern society, like Amazon and Facebook, yet is it right for a mere handful of men to hold more wealth than half of the world?
       This reminds me of (and almost directly connects to) the social and economic inequality that arose during America's industrial revolution in the late nineteenth century. Because of the laissez faire policy in which markets were barely regulated the government, a select few were able to acquire enormous wealth, and consequently widening the wealth gap between the upper and lower classes. Although it is unfeasible to aim towards full-blown communism and the impossible ideal of mass social and economic equality, what can be done to help level out the extremely unbalanced scale of wealth?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Death Toll From Brazil Prison Riot Reaches 26

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Yesterday evening, a fight between prisoners incited a riot in the State Penitentiary of Alcacuz that continued for 14 hours, until the morning of today. According to the article, there has been a wave of violent prison uprisings in Brazil that has already resulted in over 120 prison deaths this year, which is less than a month old. Prisons in Brazil are often overcrowded (this particular prison was detaining 1,100 convicts, yet it only had the capacity for 620), and the conditions of prisons in Brazil are described as "medieval."
I find it ironic that there are so many violent deaths in prisons because a primary purpose of prisons is to prevent criminals from hurting other people, and other people includes other criminals. Do you think that the poor condition of Brazilian prisons is the reason for these riots? How should the Brazilian government respond to these riots?

Obama Legacy of Freeing Prisoners May Come Under Trump Siege

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With the presidential transition from President Obama to Donald Trump, many things are going to change including law enforcement. Despite Obama's efforts to keep people out of prison, Trump plans to extend prison sentences and increase law enforcement. This reminds me of the election of Thomas Jefferson concerning the national debt of the United States. Hamilton previously attempted to raise the national debt of the nation and Jefferson did the complete opposite lowering national debt considerably. I disagree with Trump's plans to reinstate stricter law enforcement policies. I don't think it is beneficial to add more severe methods to law enforcement and increase prison sentences. I believe that prison is meant to prevent criminals from making the same mistakes in the future, not to lock them up and keep them out contact with others. What are your thoughts on Trump's plan? Do you think a more strict and harsh law system is necessary during this time?

One Hand on Light Switch, Obama Isn’t Flipping to ‘Off’ Just Yet

As President Obama's term comes to an end, continues to make decisions ranging from creating national monuments to appointing members to high ranking government positions. President Obama's last minute decisions are similar to that of Adams "midnight appointments." I believe that President Obama and Adams have the right to continue making decisions until their term in completely over. Is it fair to certain people that Obama continues to make these "midnight appointments?" If you were in his position would you make similar decisions? Why?

You Draw It: What Got Better or Worse During Obama’s Presidency

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Check out these graphs. The activity is a pretty interesting check on our perceptions versus reality. The next step for Obama is the history books. How will his administration be remembered? It's hard to determine this so early, but you have to start somewhere.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

North Korea sends message to Trump amid threat to fire missile 'at any time'

Article Link

           North Korea has threatened to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the US mainland. In response to Kim's nuke threat, Trump tweeted that "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won't happen! It is not clear whether or not North Korea has a good enough missile and rocket technology to deliver a nuke and whether or not they really do plan to fire a intercontinental ballistic missile to the US.
           This missile threat reminds me of the Cuban Missile Crisis that happened between the US and the Soviet Union in 1962, in which Soviet Union deployed several nuclear and ballistic missiles in Cuba in order to threaten the US and stop them from further invasion.
           Before this threat, North Korea has completed a total of around 6 ballistic missile tests since the 1990s, each time improving its range. It's last missile tested, Taepodong-3 had a range of around 11,000 km, and the distance between North Korea and the US only being 10,000 km. With this being said I think that North Korea has been improving their missile and rocket technology and that if not already, in the near future they will be capable of firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuke to the US.
           What do you guys think? Do you agree with Trump that this will never happen or do you think North Korea is capable of delivering the nuke? And if so what actions should be taken to stop this from happening?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds (PLS READ! MR. COLGLAZIER IS QUOTED IN IT!!!)

Article Link

I have to admit, I am surprised at how poor our generation is at telling fact from fiction on the internet. I think that one of the main causes of this fake news epidemic is partisanship. Not only can fake news organizations make huge sums of money by confirming the beliefs of a partisan audience, but many readers ignore the red flags of fake news because they are more concerned about something that confirms their beliefs. But hey, if you want to read more about my opinions on fake news, and how to combat it, check out this Aragon Outlook editorial (#shamelessplug).

In the sense that fake news sites are using lurid titles to sell to unwitting consumers, I see a clear connection to the yellow journalism of the early 1900s.

Have you ever been duped by fake news? How did it happen? Do you think fake news is that big of a problem? Do the woven quotes in the article make you cringe?