Prosecutor Tries to Rattle Pistorius in Murder Trial

I think most court cases are naturally difficult to decide what actually happened. Though we can make speculations and guesses as to what actually happened, to recreate what actually happened is nearly impossible unless there is a footage of actual scene. So in the end, we come to rely on a recreation of the scene through evidence and hope that the juries believe it is probable. 

Also with court cases, there always will be a chance that the verdict is wrong. We may let a guilty person go as innocent; we may convict a man guilty when he’s actually innocent. But there’s really nothing that can be done to erase those errors; they’ll always exist and concerning Oscar Pistorius’ case, it’s difficult to be certain that he actually killed his wife no matter how probable it may be. 

So this is why I see a huge importance in jury duty and people being actually prepared for jury duty. Decisions made by jury can easily change the life of people and those around them. But it seems so common that people hate jury duty and think of it as a bothersome task when in fact they should be thinking how can I be better prepared to make the right verdict during jury duty. The mentality needs to change concerning jury duty and what kind of consequent their decision could have on a person. 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/world/africa/oscar-pistorius-murder-trial.html?ref=world

Israel Says It Is ‘Deeply Disappointed’ by Kerry’s Remarks on Peace Talks

After several remarks directed at Israel, they have now answered back with their side of the story. They were, as they put it, “disappointed” with what was said about them. Kerry was placing almost all of the blame on them alone for the break in peach talks in the middle east. There had been several agreements made between Israel and Palistine and they have since been broken. Kerry blamed them and they came back explaining how it was not them who chose to break the agreements. It was a series of events that had happened between the two countries that was a form of tit for tat events that lead to this disagreement and eventual breaking of agreements.

Israel claims that Palistine clearly knew that not all of the agreements they had were tied together so when one country failed to compleat one agreement the other country failed to complete a different agreement and so on and so forth. this caused much frustration and for this reason the agreemnts have been called off and they are not negotiating more for now.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/world/middleeast/middle-east-peace-effort.html?ref=world&_r=0

$$$ is All You Need….

Governments within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have recently increased their aid budgets bringing the collective to an all-time high.  Interesting to note, however, is the decrease in flow of OECD funds to the world’s poorest nations (mostly found in Africa) as a great deal of the increased aid money serviced middle-income nations like India, Pakistan, and Brazil.  It was not long ago that aid budgets were substantially cut in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but, notwithstanding increasing deficits, these nations have seen fit to divvy out more cash to the world.

Money certainly is necessary to facilitate development and governments tend to have a great deal of it, but more $$$ does not necessarily = more development.  Despite the increased admittance and recording of failed development, and despite the growing notions of homegrown and grass-roots growth, and despite the developing understanding that the West’s agenda isn’t always the best agenda, money is still thrown at huge budgets and bureaucratically-maimed projects.  I say thrown because they are allotting even more dollars to be used within just one year.  Money, development, real growth take time.  But governments and other organizations look for results all the sooner that there may be funding all the sooner.  What will it take to cultivate a patience and true investment in development?  Is it possible within the bureaucracy?

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304640104579489271126211350?mg=reno64-wsj

 

No, Russia isn’t about to invade Finland and Sweden

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and what appears to be its provocation in eastern Ukraine has left many former members of the Soviet Union nervous. But the nerves aren’t limited to the traditional countries in Russia’s “near abroad,” many of whom have large Russian-speaking minorities that give them reason for concern. Now even Sweden and Finland seem afraid.

For Finland there’s reason to be concerned. At the tail-end of March, a former adviser to Vladimir Putin, told a Swedish newspaper that the Russian president had designs on Finland, which had been a part of the Russian Empire for more than 100 years. One Finish website reported that Russian troops had been conducting military exercises on the Finnish border, though there are now some credible signs that it could be a Russian disinformation campaign. It was also pointed that Russia has been setting fight planes training  missions  just outside the Swedish border last year: Missions that appeared to be designed to remind Sweden that Russia had the ability to attack its neighbors, if not the will. 

The stories have caught a lot of attention and for good reason. A russian attack on Finland or Sweden would be extraordinary. However, I think it is unlikely. Russia’s action on Ukraine and Crimea was opportunistic, but the opportunity costs of a new unnecessary conflict far outweigh the benefits. Non-Alignment is an increasingly difficult position to have which is mostly why Sweden and Finland are now facing concerns over Russia, however, I think Russia is mostly sending an intimidation message to these countries, to prevent them from shifting their support to the west by for example, joining NATO. While we don’t know if Ukraine is going to lean pro-west or pro-Russia after Crimea. I think that it is clear that Russia’s actions have the intention of intimidating its neighbors under a covert conflict that looks very unstable. 

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/04/09/no-russia-isnt-about-to-invade-finland-and-sweden/

Costs Rise and Hopes Fall in Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Dozens of countries have contributed to efforts to find missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 since it disappeared nearly two months ago, with seven countries heading up the efforts with navy ships, planes, and advanced satellite equipment. It has become the costliest search in history with millions of dollars being poured in daily to find the wreckage. For instance, the operation cost of the American ships and aircrafts deployed in the search was $3.3 million dollars through March, and another $3.6 million was dedicated to deploy underwater devices aimed at detecting signals from the downed plane. The other countries involved, such a South Korea and Australia, are expending similar amounts to aid the search. However, with little progress, the governments involved are facing a difficult decision in keeping continuing the extensive search. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/world/asia/search-for-malaysian-jet-to-be-costliest-in-history.html?ref=asia&_r=0&gwh=A74773A7A2FB3B64D7805AF257532C79&gwt=regi&assetType=nyt_now 

Now the governments involved must decide if they will keep spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each day to continue the search for the missing aircraft. Every lead in possible signals of the wreckage has come up short, and time is quickly running out. The battery signals in the black boxes of plane are expected to be fading quickly, and will not longer send out any signals within only a few weeks. What responsibility does the United States have in the search? We have enormous technological advances, and their purpose is being used rightfully here, to help a country in need. However, at some point, the cost will be too great. But what will determine that stopping point? 

The “Heartbleed” Bug

Internet Security

 

The “Heartbleed” bug, known for it’s encryption of pings sent between use and website, has introduced a new threat to the world of cyber-security. The bug will best be recognized by the small lock image in front of the URL on websites which protects users information such as passwords, usernames and even social security numbers. This new bug has the ability, not only to hack this connection, but to do so unnoticed. David Chartier, executive at Codenomicon stated that, “bad guys can access the memory on a machine and take encryption keys, usernames, passwords, valuable intellectual property, and there’s no trace they’ve been there.” Major websites such as Facebook and PayPal have already said to have fixed the bug and are now encouraging members to change passwords and proceed with caution. The security team at Yahoo suggested: “This might be a good day to call in sick and take some time to change your passwords everywhere — especially your high-security services like email, file storage and banking, which may have been compromised by this bug.”

I find this to be a good example of the real threat of cyber-attacks and hacking. In an article posted last week, it was mentioned that governments are starting to place a larger importance on detecting and combatting cyber-attacks, predicting that they will become more prevalent, and serious, in the very near future. I believe that this bug is a perfect illustration of how dangerous hacking and other security threats online can be. It is so important for us, as members of such a technology-enriched world, to be aware of these issues and take the appropriate security measures to keep our information safe.

 

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/flaw-found-in-key-method-for-protecting-data-on-the-internet/?_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&_r=0

College Admissions Hit New Low and It’s Concerning

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Getting a college degree is becoming increasingly harder. According to a New York Times article, college enrollment in the U.S. is decreasing as the competition for the top schools in the country is increasing drastically. According to the article, Stanford University accepted only 5 percent of the total of number of applicants, which sets the record for the lowest among the top schools. The article talks about how high school graduates are applying to many more universities now, in order to increase their chances of being accepted to a competitive school. In addition, the overall enrollment in the past six decades have increased drastically, leading the most prestigious colleges and universities to be more picky and decrease their acceptance rates. The percentage of students who apply to seven or more colleges was 9 percent in 1990 and 29 percent in 2011. As the number of application increases, the number of students accepted decreases. The article quotes the dean of undergraduate admission at Duke, Christoph Guttentag, who says that “One of the ways that colleges are measured is by the number of applicants and their admit rate, and some colleges do things simply to increase their applicant pool and manipulate those numbers.”

There has been a lot of debate regarding higher education. It is surprising to see how competitive it is to get into college when one of the things we hear the most these days is how a college degree is becoming less important in the real world. There are a lot of implications when we analyze this situation. Because the most prestigious schools have increased their standards and lowered their acceptance rates, prospective students have to apply to more schools, which consequently increases the number of overall applicants for each school. Even if one school accepts the same number of students as they did before, the percentage is going to be lower. This, as Mr. Guttentag suggests, could lead colleges to switch things up in order for them to rank higher. If we look at rankings of colleges nationally, we notice that the top schools are the ones with the lowest acceptance rate, as well.

Another important thing to mention is the tuition fees students have to pay. This is all a vicious cycle. The lower the admission rates, the better the universities rank, which leads to higher tuition fees. A lot of students decide to not go to school because the tuition is too high. The logical option would be to go to a university that is not as good, but also not as expensive. However, students constantly hear about is Ivy League Schools from their peers, professors, and media; they feel like they can only be successful in their careers if they get into one of these schools because that is where their network power is.  Therefore, this can cause the number of applicants to increase, the acceptance rate to decrease, the tuition price to go higher, and the overall number of people without a college degree to go down.

Therefore, although there is not much we can do about regulating private universities, their tuition fees, and their acceptance rates, I think there is room for legitimate concern when it comes to college admissions. One approach is for the high school and college advisors to explain to the students that other than the Ivy League schools, there are several other options to become successful and build a career.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/us/led-by-stanfords-5-top-colleges-acceptance-rates-hit-new-lows.html?ref=us

Evolution of University Admittance

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If it seems as though it’s harder than ever to receive an acceptance letter from the United States top universities, then that notion is indeed correct. In this decade alone acceptance rates for the most prestigious colleges have decreased dramatically. There are several reasons for the decline of students being admitted to their choice schools. The country’s top high school scholars are now sending applications to not just a couple of schools, but all of the major universities that they think they might have a chance of attending. Applying to several schools is a safer bet for those that just want to be at any of the top universities. A secondary reason for the dip in admittance rates is the widespread reach of technology. The online application process is greatly facilitated compared to the preceding methods of applying. Teenagers are able to fill out the online portion with ease and then send their requests to a number of schools. The same is true on the other end as far as the university goes. Schools are utilizing all types of promotional techniques to have their college gain notoriety. This includes email blasts and social media outreach.

The article highlighted the process for a teen named Isaac Madrid who applied to eleven different schools and spent $800 in application fees. In my mind this is an extreme case, but it may soon be the norm for the majority of hopeful college students. One things for sure, that I am definitely glad I’m past the stage of applying to colleges. I believe that the competition will only heat up more and more as the years roll on. The future effects that we can imagine will be both positive an negative. Positive because the brightest students will have a chance to excel and develop the education system further, but this could exclude the students that are on the cusp of getting into college and they fall behind. It will be apparent in the future whether or not there needs to be changes made to the university admittance system.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/us/led-by-stanfords-5-top-colleges-acceptance-rates-hit-new-lows.html?hp&_r=0

Indicators of Crisis in the Central African Republic

Reenactment of Rwandan Genocide in Kigali, Rwanda

This Monday marked twenty years since the horrific series of events that unfolded in Rwanda. A ceremony including reenactments of the mass murders commemorated the tragedy that decimated the country and left over 800,000 ethnic Tutsis dead. After the crisis, the international community sounded numerous promises of “never again” and admissions of regret. Never the less, many Africans have died since then through numerous instances of ethnic conflict and sectarian violence.

The international community, specifically the UN has implemented new programs and appointed advisors for the preventions of genocide in the hopes that’s such a tragedy will never gain occur. The inability for the UN to enact lasting change, however, is evident in another case of sectarian conflict that may erupt into mass violence any day. The conflict I reference lies in the Central African Republic.

I again write about the conflict in the CAR because it seems like very few people are aware of a situation very similar those of Rwanda and South Sudan, before their devastation, but maybe even more reminiscent of the atrocities committed in the Bosnian War – slow burning, but atrocities nonetheless. Violence persists in the central African country and many key indicators that should have alerted the international community of the chaos and killing that would ensue in Rwanda are starting to appear in the CAR. Western hind-site for crisis such as these is always insighful, their foresight, however, is not.

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/world/africa/genocide-commemorations-begin-in-rwanda-with-curtailed-french-role.html?ref=world

Photo Credit: Ben Curtis/AP

Game Breeding in Africa

Recently in Africa, a new type of market has opened up, affording those involved huge profits. The business is that of game breeding.Game breeding is when people breed animals specifically for the purpose of being hunted, such as buffalo or antelope in the case of Africa. The more unique the animal, the higher the profit made in the end. There has been some criticism from biologists who are concerned that breeding the animals for long horns or for certain types of hide will damage them and expose them to harmful genetic side effects.

However, it cannot be denied that the people operating these operations are getting a heavy pay off. This heavy pay off is influenced by number of factors, one reportedly being the recently weakening South African economy. Another very influential factor is that of the hunters’ money. Hunters from around the world come to Africa for the opportunity to hunt, and they aren’t afraid to pay big bucks to do it. Many today are more willing to pay higher prices than they ever have before just to be able to take a shot at one of Africa’s unique wildlife specimens. Pair the conversion of this high fee to the exchange rate in Africa, and you see high profits as a result. However, this might also be good for the African wildlife as well. African game breeders are well known for preventing extinction of certain animals. It is reported that the fees being made off of game breeding at this time provide for higher incentive and opportunity to further protect endangered animals from extinction. Only time will tell how this expanding business will effect Africa and the wildlife, but so far each area is seeing large benefits from game breeding.

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