Is China Pushing Trump to Talk to North Korea?

This article discusses how relations of both the U.S. and China with DPRK are changing. China has finally followed through with coal sanctions. At the same time, there is talk of some North Korean diplomats coming to the U.S. to meet with former officials. Although this would not be officially contact, it is definitely a change in previous policy with DPRK.

When DPRK conducted more missile tests a few weeks ago, Donald Trump received criticism for not having a solid policy on what to do about North Korea. For the most part, just ignoring DPRK and not giving attention but still showing the strength of the U.S. has seemed to work in the past. However, as Donald Trump is changing a lot of policies and precedents, it will be interesting to see if he changes policy on North Korea. Hopefully China will not take advantage of his lack of policy to pressure the U.S. into changing relations with North Korea.

Looks Can Be Deceiving – Gaza’s Inward Struggle

20gaza1-master768Photo via The New York Times

A new shopping mall complete with an escalator and food court is not the only recent development underway in the Gaza Strip to leave people surprised. Following an air strike attack by Israeli forces in 2008, the rebuilding of Gaza is well underway. According to New York Times author Ian Fisher “two-thirds of the 160,000 damaged homes have been rebuilt, as have half of the 11,000 that were destroyed….[and] two million tons of rubble have been cleared”, a considerable advancement given the instability of the government and hostility from neighbors. It would appear that everything seems to be headed in the upwards direction. However, hidden within the newly built homes are an increasing number of unemployed Palestinians potentially sitting hungrily in the dark, electricity free rooms. Since the bombings, electricity and water remain a scarcity with fresh produce hard to procure due to damage to agricultural lands and yet the problems cease to end there.

Gaza, currently under rule by what the U.S. has referred  to as a terrorist group continues to face political uncertainty. With U.S. – Israeli relations somewhat in the air under President Trump, Israel’s next move regarding Gaza and the West Bank. Regardless of the political future the feelings from locals are mixed towards the progress they seem. While some like Mona Ghalayini feel more optimistic because “We have smart people. We can survive.” others like Salim Abdullah al-Wazir are a little less confident stating “There is no progress. It’s just survival.” Whatever the future holds for the tiny Palestinian territory, the common ground falls in the acknowledgement the struggle is not yet over in the Gaza Strip.

Read more of Ian Fishers account here.



We’ve always known that the universe is expanding rapidly, but it may be expanding faster than scientists thought. Most people think that since the universe is eternal, this won’t have any direct impact on us. Although this may not change our everyday lives, it is quite the shock for astronomers, and even mathematicians. Deliberating how fast the universe is expanding takes careful calculation. We have had a standard model of the cosmos that we have been using for decades, and this recent discovery would not only change that model, but also change the way of certain aspects of physics and how things are now calculated.

This is causing much controversy among astronomers, because although it doesn’t directly change human life, big changes like this don’t happen often in the space community. Space exploration is a slow process that takes a new surprise at a time, and this is an unexpected surprise that could lead astronomers scratching their heads at what this could mean for what they have known for so long.

Trump’s Immigration Crack-down


Trump’s proposed immigration plan takes a much more forceful approach to finding and deporting illegal immigrants. The plans include stripping immigrants of their privacy protections, publicize crimes committed by them, discouraging asylum seekers, creating new detention facilities, speed up deportations, and bring in more law enforcement. These new plans could have extreme effects. Those working with immigrants are working to try to keep them protected. Trump will have to find funding to hire all the officials needed to carry out these plans.

Article found here




After Travel Ban, Interest in Trips to U.S. Declines

After a month from the travel ban that was instituted to enter the US, statistics of the effects are shown in this article that describes with detail the negative effects of this executive order. The impact was immediate even from people who are not part of these banned countries. The drops were notable in the days after the ban was enacted. The online travel agency saw 38 percent drop the day after the ban. Many other travel agencies around the world has reported this change in people trip destination to a different country other than the US. Even though the ban was lifted already, people still see the US as a place of instability with the new president. In addition, the rhetoric of the president is creating a sense of antipathy in travelers when choosing a vacation destination. Statistics compared to a last year the reports show an unanimously negative effect. The tourism industry in the country that provides job to millions of people are in danger and seems like it will continue.

The Real Enemy: Fake News

Recently the EU has created a task force composed of 11 members to combat what they refer to as “Russia’s disinformation campaigns.” Basically the team members are in charge of tracking down fake reports and debunking them. It has become increasingly hard for the teams to track down every story with the reach that Facebook and Google have. While they are after all fake reports, they are specifically combatting Russia. They feel that Russia is putting information out there that is not giving voters proper knowledge to understand issues correctly. Damian Collins, a British politician in charge of a similar investigation said that fake news could “eventually undermine our democratic institutions.”

Fake news is a problem in this world and I respect the EU for setting up a task force to do this. The article doesn’t mention specifics so I’m interested in how they are doing this because it is such a large problem and 11 people don’t seem nearly enough. Lately it has seemed that Russia is becoming more and more bold with countries claiming to have been targeted by Russia so I’m curious what their response to all of this and wonder how far they will go with this.

Read the whole story here.

DeVos Met With Criticism, Pushback After First Full Week

Image result for devos

One week after being confirmed as the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos faced serious criticism from one of the schools she visited. DeVos tried to visit Jefferson Academy in Washington D.C. but was blocked from entering the school by protesters. She was able to visit a few days later and released the following statement:

“I visited a school on Friday and met with some wonderful, genuine, sincere who pour their heart and soul into their classrooms and their students. But I can tell the attitude is more of a ‘receive mode.’ They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child.”

Jefferson Academy fired back on twitter, saying they were about to take the new secretary “to school.”

“JA teachers are not in ‘receive mode,'” one of the eleven tweets read, “Unless you mean we ‘receive’ students at a 2nd grade level and move them to an 8th grade level.”

This criticism is not new to DeVos-she faced serious opposition in the Senate prior to her confirmation and Vice President Mike Pence was forced to cast a tie-breaking vote (51-50). I seriously opposed her appointment and was disappointed when she was confirmed. I tend to agree with former school chancellor Kaya Henderson, who tweeted, “Sorry lady. Tried to give you the benefit of the doubt. But this is so amateur and unprofessional that it’s astounding. We deserve better.”

Read the full article here.


Clashes in Sweden Highlight Trump’s Comment

At a rally two days ago President Trump made a comment regarding the immigration policies of several European countries. He related the amount of immigrants to crime rates, “You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” This comment was met with confusion and anger from the Swedish government who claim that there has not been much of an increase in crime since 2015 when the country processed 163,000 asylum applications. Now only two days after Trump’s controversial remark there was a clash between residents of Rinkeby (a suburb of Stockholm “predominately inhabited by immigrants”) and police. At one point there were 20-30 people throwing stones at the officers after a drug- related arrest was made in the area. This incident has caused Trump supporters and other right leaning new sources to accuse Sweden of covering up immigrant related crime. A member of the local board in Rinkeby said that it is true that crime rates are up in neighborhoods primarily inhabited by immigrants, but that’s not due to the fact that they are immigrants but more to problems with unemployment and bad living conditions.

I think that comments like this are very harmful. While it may be true be true that crime rates are higher in areas mostly occupied by immigrants, I think it is wrong to correlate migrants and crime exclusively. I think there are a lot of other factors at play, as mentioned in the article, like poor living conditions and high unemployment rates. If this is the case than keeping immigrants and refugees out won’t fix the problem, rather prolong it. If all of these people have to stay in refugee camps and in overcrowded suburbs without any hope of finding employment or education for their children- it makes sense that turning to crime as a way of support themselves might become the only feasible option. Along with the furthering misconceptions about immigrants, President Trump’s remark is an example of personal attacks on American Allies as he has done to other members of the EU and Australia.

When Retirement Comes with a Daily Dose of Cannabis

As medicinal marijuana becomes legal in many states, increasing numbers of senior citizens are turning to the drug for relief from pain that would otherwise be treated with painkillers such as morphine. Many retirement homes, including one in the Bronx, are now allowing residents to self-administer marijuana if they keep it locked up in their rooms. Some senior citizens are claiming that the drug allows them to cut back on more addictive painkillers, and relieves suffering. While many medical professions support the use of medicinal marijuana, many are wary of the effects. Many say we do not have sufficient evidence to suggest the dosage or safety of medicinal marijuana, especially in this new demographic of senior citizen users. Many are also concerned that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of retirement homes creates a safety issue in which the caretakers of senior citizens do not know what the senior citizens are ingesting. Nonetheless, support group clubs for seniors taking or wanting to learn more about taking marijuana have been popping up in retirement homes. Despite the stigma around taking marijuana, many senior citizens and their families also support it because it lowers medical costs. It will be interesting to see the effect of legalization of marijuana on this demographic.

How Well Do We Know Our Universe?


25israel-superjumboPhoto credit: New York Times

The “standard model” of space acceleration that has been accepted for over 2 decades is now being questioned. Recent measurements of the distances and expansion of far away galaxies suggest that the universe is expanding much more quickly than we thought. While some scientists argue that this discovery might not be valid, others are excited by the thought of learning more about the subject. So what does this mean for science? It doesn’t just mean that we will discover more about dark matter and particle phsyics, but also that the rising generation of scientists has some serious work to do. Though we are always learning more about science because new issues become prevalent and evolution broadens the boarders of exploration, discrepencies like this are giving new scientists the opportunity to rediscover the theories that have been generally accepted for years. Because the universe is constantly changing, we will never know everything, but with prompts like these, we can at least try.

Find out more about why it matters here.