Monday, December 10, 2012

World's Oldest Person Dies at 116

        Besse Cooper, was 116, when she passed away as the world's oldest person, according to this BBC news article. Cooper has recently contracted a stomach virus but died peacefully at a nursing home near Atlanta, Georgia.

           The article goes on to tell about her life. But what I find most interested is the multimedia NOT used in this article. There is a beautiful picture of Mrs. Cooper at the top of the article, however, no video linked to this article. On CNN there was a video of her son Sidney Cooper speaking about his mother. It was so interesting to hear from someone who knew her well, talk about this woman's life. Also the son looked very old, in his 70's, which made viewers realize how old Besse Cooper really was. I think that BBC news should have included a video interview with one of the members of Mrs. Cooper's family. I think that just saying someone is the oldest person alive, but hearing from someone who knows them well what were the most interesting parts of their life is more interesting. The BBC article goes on about her life but in the CNN news video the son talked about the stories his mother would share with him about the depression. He also said that his mother never ate fast food which is interesting to here for young people today worrying about their health in a culture where fast food is readily available and eaten often. 

Here is a video showing Besse Cooper.
Hoax Call Results in Nurses Death

        It all started off a lighthearted joke. Two Australian DJ's on a radio show decided to call up King's Hospital in London and as about Catherine the duchess of Cambridge regarding her stay there for morning sickness, according to this BBC news article. If you listen to the prank call you can hear that two nurses spoke. The first was Jacintha Saldanha who answered the call and put it through to another nurse who disclosed information about the duchess' state. The female DJ, Mel Grieg, pretended to be the Queen of England and said she was asking for her granddaughter. The male, Michael Christian, said he was Prince Charles. 
       At first it seemed the joke was on the hospital regarding the fact that they were fooled by these two Australian DJs. However, when Saldanha was later found dead a day after the hoax call, no one was laughing anymore. The two DJs have received a tremendous backlash from the public and their show has been canceled until further notice. 
         During this time I have been wondering how these two DJs must be feeling. They said they expected the call to be hung up by one of the hospital staff immediately. However, when it was put through they were shocked but continue with the joke. BBC news includes a video interview of the two DJs and how saddened they are by the incident. They both claim that there was no malice in the phone call and never meant to harm anyone. I think that it is easy to see the heartbroken point of view of Saldanha's family, but it's important for journalists to also cover the topic objectively and see the point of view of the DJs. BBC news did this.
            Comparatively, I have been watching CNN's coverage of the event and I find BBC news to be explain the facts more clearly. At first I thought the nurse that disclosed the information was the one who committed suicide; however, after reading the BBC news article I realized that it was the first nurse who put the call through.

Watch the video below. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Spending
Reaches Pre-Recession Numbers

       This year's holiday shopping season is setting a jolly tune with the hope that spending levels will return to pre-recession numbers, according to this article from the Huffington Post.  There was a 32 percent increase from last year's spending and it is projected that the average shopper will plan to spend 854 dollars on presents this year, according to the study from the American Research Group. In 2007 the average American shopper spent 856 dollars on holiday gifts. This is a strong sign that public confidence in the economy is picking up, according to a study conducted by the American Research Group, Inc.

       The holiday shopping season kicked off on a strong foot with a successful black Friday and cyber Monday. This year cyber Monday sales hit 1.5 billion dollars and were up 25.6 percent from last year's sales, according to this Huffington Post article. The hype of cyber Monday is very popular among young adults who don't find shopping online to be foreign. 

        "I am a big shopper so, because I go to the malls a lot, I know what I want. This is why I buy online during cyber Monday. I think that if you don't shop a lot you won't know what works and how certain products will turn out so shopping online is harder," said Boston University student, Shuang Guo, who says she decreased her spending this year due to a tighter budget.

        "I bought a Mac Book Pro online for around 600 hundred dollars. Overall I saved around 800 from the sales while shopping online," added Guo. She was very pleased with her holiday savings; however, did express dissatisfaction with the slow server connection while trying to complete a few transactions online during cyber Monday.

          According to this article from the National Retail Federation, it is projected that more than half of all holiday shoppers will purchase gifts online this year. 31.4 percent of consumers negatively affected by the economy are more likely to comparatively shop online and 46.4 percent are more likely to shop for sales more often, according to the NRF 2012 report.

          But surprisingly buyers started shopping months before the stereotypical start of the holiday season, black Friday weekend. The NRF released a chart (above) in its 2012 report showing that 41.1 percent of shoppers started working on their holiday shopping two to three months before November.
            However, one thing holiday shoppers do look forward to in the months of November and December are holiday sales. This year holiday sales rose to 4.1 percent, which is more than a percentage point lower than the last two years, according to this USA Today article. Meaning even with fewer sales American shoppers are still spending more. It is apparent from Deloitte’s 2012 Annual Holiday Survey that Americans feel the U.S. economy is gradually improving from the recession. In 2011, 50 percent of Americans felt the U.S. was still in a recession, according to the survey mentioned in this Huffington Post article. But in the 2012, this number decreased to only 37 percent of Americans feeling the U.S. was still in a recession. This is a good sign, but leaves the question of whether all American shoppers are spending more or if this increased spending is being done by a certain income bracket
Boston University students weigh in on their opinion about why they are or aren't spending more this holiday season.

           It has been shown that there is in fact stratification between income classes and increased spending this year, according to the Consumer Federation of America in this Huffington Post article,.  Only 11 percent of respondents who had an income under 25,000 dollars said they would spend more this holiday season. In comparison, 18 percent of the respondents with an income over 100,000 dollars said they would increase their holiday spending this year, according to the Consumer Federation of America. While the overall picture showed holiday spending increased this year, the reality that a gap between spenders and savers may be widening remains a daunting thought.

Here are some of the main shopping locations in Boston. Click on the Google map locations to learn more about what discounts and holiday festivities are offered there this holiday season.

View Holiday Shopping in Boston in a larger map


Monday, December 3, 2012

Hear Ye Hear Ye! 
Royal Baby Bliss for Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William

          The duke and duchess of cambridge are expected a child, according to this BBC news article. The palace confirmed the pregnancy just an hour ago. The talk of "Will and Kate" expecting has been playing out in the media for a few months. Speculations as to whether she was expecting was due to her change in diet and drinking habit during her Southeast Asia tour. The duchess drank water rather than wine during a toast and declined trying a local peanut paste. But now all speculation is put aside and it has been confirmed that a royal baby is on the way. 
The BBC news article was short but included a video. I like how the video recapped the couple since their marriage. It shows how much they have done in a year. According to the BBC video, most royal couples conceive within the first 12 months of marriage (this was the case for Princess Diana). It has been just over a year since "Will and Kate" were married in Westminster Abby. 
             One piece of information that the BBC news article did not include was that the duchess has been visiting a hospital due to severe morning sickness, according to a CNN television news report. I know the news of the pregnancy was just released but I am sure the next big question, besides whether it's a boy or girl, will be how is the duchess's health? But in regards to the question of the sex of the child, there are some interesting changes taking place in the monarchy. The parliament is in the process of passing a law that the first born, regardless of sex, is first in line to the throne for the British monarchy. For Prince William and Prince Harry, had they had an older sister she would not have been first in line to the throne. This is exciting news and a change in history for the British monarchy. There could possibly be a future queen born! This is another example of how the monarchy has shown a new and modern face since the royal couples marriage. First, the duchess was the first to marry into the royal family without being of royal blood. Now the old tradition of male predominance is in the process of changing and could possibly be done with in the time that the prince and duchess have their first born. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Boston Bike Video: Flash Assignment
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales Shoot Up

Spending shot up this year for black Friday and cyber Monday shoppers. According to this BBC news article, between Thursday and Sunday 47 million people visited stores and websites spending a total of 59.1billion dollars, which is 13 percent more than last year, said the National Retail Federation. 

This is exciting news for the U.S. economy. I found it interesting that this story made the home page of BBC news. However, I think it would have been interesting if BBC news had included a video of some shoppers waiting outside some of the stores. The only visual multimedia they used for this story was a picture of Macy's shoppers standing in line in the new NYC store. According to the article, 11,000 shoppers showed up to the store for its midnight opening. I think it would have been interesting to hear how long some of those shoppers waited outside. Another thing I think the article lacked was some of the other companies/stores that had long lines outside. I know Apple had long lines of people waiting outside their stores for black Friday. 

Below is a video of shoppers in the U.S. during black Friday. The video begins by showing the crows running into a mall in North Carolina. The BBC news article addressed above did not include this video and I think it should have. I found this video on youtube, but it is from BBC news. It shows the excitement and urgency people felt to get in the stores and search for a good deal. The BBC news video even states that some stores opened up on Thanksgiving day. It has interviews of people saying that "times are better" and this is the greatest rise in spending since the recession. These are all details that should have been shared in the original article. 

In terms of cyber Monday, the article estimated that there will be a 20 percent increase in spending from last year. However, there were not pictures or videos regarding cyber monday. I think the article could have used more multimedia to cover the subject matter. Its the human interest part of these stories always intrigue me. I find it so interesting to see the lines of people at midnight waiting in the cold for the store to open the next day. In terms of shopping and saving, that's dedication!

I did like how they had a "More on This Story" section below the article where you could read similar articles about the U.S. economy. I found those to be interesting because they elaborated on some of the bigger picture economic questions that come to mind while reading this BBC news article

Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel and Gaza Continue to Fire

Here is a BBC news video on the air strikes in Israel and Gaza and the possible consequences surrounding the death of Ahmad Jabari, head of the Hamas military.

            One aspect of the conflict between Israel and Hamas that intrigues me is the media coverage. The accounts of what have happened are slightly different based on the news source you watch/read. BBC news stays impartial for the most part, however, focuses a bit more on the Israeli's than the Palestinians points of view. For example, if you click here you will see an article about how Israel is protecting itself by using an Iron Dome, which intercepts rockets that are being fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome has intercepted 245 rockets and has been 90 percent successful in all its attempts. I think the use of a video to show how there is this box-like machine that fires rockets, which intercept the missiles sent from Gaza, is a good way for people to understand how the defense mechanism works. Seeing a rocket being fired in the video also brings home the idea of what it must be like for people in the region of Israel and Gaza during this hectic time of missile firing. If you contrast BBC News coverage to Aljazeera then you will get slightly different points of view. Aljazeera clearly covers the point of view of those Palestinians who are suffering in Gaza. I'm not saying that BBC news doesn't, but Aljazeera covers that angle more. They have an article on their home page that is talking about how a 100 Palestinians have died and how of those killed many were Palestinian children. Aljazeera tends to side with the Palestinians more than Israel in their news reports. On the other hand, CNN seems to be reporting more heavily about the U.S. involvement with Israel and therefore focusing more of its stories on Israelis. I believe there is a bit of a political agenda behind the reporting on the air strikes in Israel and Gaza. I think that since the U.S. fully backs up Israel that we tend to show partiality with them, while on the other hand Aljazeera shows a partiality towards the Palestinians. BBC news does a pretty good job of trying to stay objective in the situation. One feature that BBC has on their website is a live news feed from the region. I think that constant coverage and updates like that make BBC news a more competitive and reliable news source for coverage in the Middle East.

          I think that it is important for news sources to try and remain as impartial as possible so that the citizens of the countries involved/affiliated in the conflict may see the facts more clearly. This is a prime time for an example of how autonomy between the press and the government are important. In the past the government has used the press for propaganda during or before war times. I think that Americans should be aware of this and follow up with news sources that are outside the U.S., such as BBC news and Aljazeera, to insure they are well informed and not receiving partial facts. It is also important to see how international news sources like BBC paint America. It allows us to hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask if we like what others are saying about us. BBC news does a good job of holding up a mirror to all parties involved in the air strikes taking place between Israel and Gaza.

Midterm Project:

Electoral College:
 Protection or Deterrent Over the Right to Vote?

Oct. 3, 2012- President Obama and Governor Romney at their first presidential debate 
at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Voice of America.
        For this election the influence of the female, Latin, African-American, and young voters helped Obama gain the edge over Governor Romney to ensure that President Obama was re-elected for 2012. President Obama not only won the electoral vote but also the popular vote, according to this Politico article. But among voters, particularly college students, how many of us felt that our vote truly counted in this election?

       I spoke with a number of BU students who expressed some concern regarding the influence of the electoral college, and whether the system has deterred people from believing their vote really counted during this presidential election. For those out-of-state college students who attend BU there were a few extra steps that had to be taken to ensure they were eligible to vote on Election Day 2012. These students could either take an absentee ballot or register to vote in the state of Massachusetts. I for one decided to register to vote in Massachusetts. My reasoning behind this decision was that, since I wanted to vote for Obama, I felt my vote would count more in a blue state, Mass., as opposed to my home state, Louisiana, which is mainly Republican. This mentality of mine was shaped from the process of the electoral college. A state only needs slightly more than 50 percent of its population to vote for a candidate in order for the electors to choose that candidate. Since Louisiana is a projected red state, more than 50 percent of the population was estimated to vote for Governor Romney; therefore my vote for President Obama wouldn't make much of a difference.

      For Branden Spaulding, a senior at BU who is from New York, the decision of whether or not he wanted to register in the state of MA did not have to do with his state's political party affiliation. However, Spaulding said he debated on whether or not he wanted to vote for this presidential election. He was discouraged to register to vote in MA or take an absentee ballot because he believed his vote would not matter due to the electoral college.

     "I sent in the form to register to vote in the state of Massachusetts on the last day possible," said Spaulding. "Ultimately, the reason why I decided to vote was just for the experience," he added.

      Sara Preston, a senior at BU from New York, also felt that her vote did not count due to the electoral college. "I didn't feel my vote mattered because I was voting for Obama and NY was blue already. Then in terms of Senate, to be honest, I didn't really know either of them well enough to make a decision," she said. Preston said she never really considered registering to vote in the state of MA, but did deliberate on whether to take an absentee ballot. "I'm not embarrassed by my choice not to vote. I think that other people may find it shameful, but I don't believe my decision affected the outcome of the election," said Preston.

Watch this youtube video (below) for a visual explanation of how the electoral college works.

          In contrast, Vain Lang, another senior at BU from Colorado, felt it was very important to vote in this election which is why he chose to submit an absentee ballot. "There were a lot of topics that I wanted my voice to be heard on. I mean, even if it is for show in a way because of the electoral college I don't care. I like knowing that I participated in a democratic-like system and weighed my voice," he added. "I just cared too strongly about certain issues not to vote. Maybe it's all just a facade but I'd like to believe that in some way my vote does count towards something, even if it as simple as just upholding the tradition of going to the voting station and casting my choice," said Lang.

        Perhaps you do or don't identify with the views of Lang, Preston, and Spaulding, but the question that still remains is how much does our vote count when we have an electoral college in place? Perhaps you are begining to wonder why it is that the electoral college was even created?

       According to this NY Times article, the electoral college is a part of the constitution and was created by America's founding fathers. To put it simply, the founding fathers felt the majority of Americans were not well-educated enough to make such an important decision over who would be the next leader of the states. They wanted to also wanted to try and distribute the vote appropriately based on population. This allows us to understand how the possibility of a president winning the popular vote but not the electoral college vote is possible. This has occurred a few times in U.S. history, with the latest being the presidential race in 2000 against Al Gore and President George W. Bush, according to the NY Times article.

        In 1970 there was a consideration of abolishing the electoral college, however, the effort was thwarted from Senators in small states who feared their weight in the election would diminish, according this NY Times article.

Here is another video that explains the electoral college in a somewhat more critical view than the previous video I posted.


Other links:

Who are the electors? Learn more about how the political parties nominate electoral college electors by reading this article.

Here is a great interactive map of U.S. states and how they sided with the candidates during the 2012 presidential election. You can event click on your specific state for additional details.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Midterm Project: Dean Elmore Talks Politics About the Presidential Election 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Midterm Project: Interactive Google Map for Presidential Election. Check out what was happening on Boston University's campus during Election Day 2012. 

View Boston University Election Day 2012 in a larger map

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

David Petraeus Case
New details on the CIA director's affair
          David Petraeus resigned from his position as director of the CIA after news of his affair with Paula Broadwell broke publicly. Patraeus became director of the CIA in 2011 after his work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Patraeus' resignation has been considered a great loss, according to a BBC article. In regards to how Broadwell and Petraeus met, Broadwell wrote a biography on the CIA director. This raises a concern about the manner in which she used Patraeus as her source for covering Benghazi. Was there a national security threat during those months in which the affair took place? How much classified information was Broadwell able to obtain from Petraeus during their relations?
        There has been recent outrage by various parties as new details of the FBI investigation on the  affair have been released. First off, Mrs. Patraeus, who was married to David Patraeus for 38 years, is said to be "furious" and "devasted" about the affair, according to a BBC article. Secondly, memebers of Congress and the White House are now infuriated with how the FBI released details about the case. The BBC news article has a timeline for what major event occured during the FBI investigation. Specifially, Republican Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was  upset that the FBI decided to inform the White House about the case on election day. The FBI says that there is not a homeland security threat and no requirement for the FBI to tell members of Congress and the White House about the ongoing investigation. There seems to be a power struggle between the FBI and Congress. Congress says they should have been briefed earlier than they were because of the possible national security risks. I believe the fact that the FBI just shared news of this investigation, which started in early summer, shows that there may have been a secret agenda to why the news was released on election day. One heavy question that weighs in the air is, has this affair truly posed a risk to national security or is it simply an embarrasing display of audultry? According to the BBC news article, audultry is a crime in the military. However, Petraeus claims the affair started after he resigned from the Army to take his position in the CIA. Currently, he does not have any charges against him.
        The next question is why is Broadwell harrassing Jill Kelley? Kelley has denied having an affair with Patraeus. Is Broadwell jealous of the fact that Kelley and Patraeus worked in Florida together and are close friends? The investigation began when Kelley reported to the FBI that she was receiving harrassment e-mails, which were sourced to Broadwell. It's interesting that the period in which Petraeus claims the affair ended is around the same time the harassing e-mails directed towards Kelley began. I'm intrigued to learn more information about the nature of why these harrassments came about. There are still lots of unanswered questions regarding this case. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Final Push Towards Election Day


         President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are in the home stretch with just two days left for campaigning before Election Day on November 6. While the election is on the forefront of some people's minds it is not a priority for some of those affected on the East Coast from Hurricane Sandy.  An article from BBC news includes a video that shares which swing states each candidate plan to visit within in the next few days. Both candidates plan to visit Ohio and at least one east coast state a long with a few other states. Governor Romney plans to visit Pennsylvania, a state which was hit hard during Hurricane Sandy. I believe it will be difficult for President Obama and Governor Romney to keep people focused on the election rather than their worries left from hurricane damages. I believe that those people who are passionate about voting will find a way to vote regardless of the storm. There have already been provisions to the voting system due to Hurricane Sandy. According to a CNN news report, parts of News Jersey are implementing ways for people to vote from their homes. However, for those voters who do not feel strongly about one candidate more than the other, I believe it will be hard to have those voters come out especially if they were affected by the storm. Another concern of mine is that people may feel they are not being properly assisted after the hurricane and therefore look down on President Obama's response effort after the storm. The storm has created a sticky predicament in which the candidates must convey a sense of empathy and time sensitivity towards those affected by the storm, but also carefully balance their need to continuing to push their presidential campaigns.

         I think the article gives a good summary about where each candidate stands so close to Election Day. But unfortunately because the polls are so close, it is unforeseeable at this point to see who may win. It also touches on the important question of how will Hurricane Sandy possibly affect this election day turnout? And will it hurt one candidate more than another?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

George Clooney is nowhere to be found in this perfect storm.

Hurricane Sandy will go down in history as one of the largest storms to hit U.S. mainland. The storm has already claimed the lives of 64 people and is predicted to hover over more than 12 states for at least 24-36 hours when it reaches landfall, according a BBC news article. The majority of deaths, 54, occurred in Haiti where the storm first made landfall before it began crawling up along the eastern coast. The BBC news article also talked about President Obama taking time away from his campaign to instead inform people about the severity of the storm.

While the BBC news article is informative about how to monitor the storm as a whole, it is not effective in warning people about updates in their local proximity. Local news sources are more informative and reliable outlets for those in the northeastern states to receive updates on their specific situation. I think that the northeastern goveners, mayors, and news channels did a good job executing and informing the public about the evaculation/emergecy plans that were set in place for so many states.

Overall I think for a storm such as this, a local news source, even as small as a school's newspaper, has better information for how to prepare in your area than an international news source such as BBC news. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wisconsin Spa Shooting

        Three people were killed  and four others were injured when suspect, Radcliffe Haughton, allegedly began shooting inside a spa in Wisconsin. The suspect was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to the BBC news article, Haughton was going through a divorce and the event may have stemmed from a domestic dispute. Haughton's wife worked at the Azana Spa. The surrounding area and stores near the spa were locked down for safety reasons as the police searched for the suspect.

         In the article there is a picture of the suspect, Haughton, who I find to be frightening with his piercing eyes.  The article first shows a picture of the spa and then lower in the story is the picture of the suspect. I would have put the suspect's picture higher up in the story because it is more eye catching and intriguing.
          The article did comment on how this is the second mass shooting in the state of Wisconsin this year. The idea of a mass shooting is all to familiar to those in the U.S. during these recent months. This article not only has an emotional appeal, but also raises a bigger question about the current debate over harsher gun control policies. There was even a question during the second presidential debate about gun control policies that stemmed from the Aurora shooting incident. The article said that President Obama released a statement about how saddened he was from the news about the recent shooting in Wisconsin. 

Your two cents:

Do you think that we need stricter gun control laws?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baumgartner, First Skydiver 
to break Sound Barrier from Space

Suite Felix Baumgartner wore while crossing the English Channel.

Austrian Felix Baumgartner is the first person to ever skydive from 24 miles above Earth and break the sound barrier doing so. The dive was sponsored by Redbull Stratos and took place above New Mexico. 

When I watched the live coverage of the event I was so nervous! The video of Baumgartner on the steps of the vessel before he jumped was breathtaking. All I could think was, wow, this guy must be crazy to skydive from the edge of space down to Earth. 

To be honest though I was disappointed with some TV news outlets and their coverage of this event. I tuned-in to CNN on TV and they did not show the full dive live. They said that once Baumgartner landed safely they would then air clips of the dive. But CNN did show Baumgartner step off the platform and initiate his decent and then later showed his two-feet landing.  But I was very upset by the fact that I was unable to watch the fall live; so I quickly looked up on my computer live coverage of the event from the Redbull youtube video. 

I did not watch the event live from BBC news' coverage, however, I did read a BBC news article later to see what additional information was shared about the event. The BBC article talked about the obstacles that Baumgartner ran into during his mission, such as a heater in his helmet that malfunctioned leaving his helmet foggy when he exhaled. While watching Baumgartner on TV, I thought to myself that it looked as though he was hesitant at times to jump. The BBC news article explained that he almost aborted the dive because his helmet fogged up. Baumgartner ran into another obsticle when he started to tumble during his dive. But because of his experience he was able to reposition his body into the correction position. What astounded me was that Baumgartner completed 2,500 dives previous to this one and trained five years for this mission, according the BBC news article.

I liked how BBC news included a video of the event and I believe this event definitely required a video. BBC news also include an audio clip of an interview with Felix Baumgartner after his dive. Baumgartner said that he did not feel anything during the time he broke the sound barrier. He also explained how he felt at multiple stages during the dive and what dilemmas he was faced with. There was a point where he debated whether to deploy his parachute when he began to tumble. But he decided to continue and quickly regained control so that he could try to break the sound barrier.  I found Baumgartner's comment about how it was such a "humbling experience" to be the most moving. 

Your two cents:

What did you think about the way the media covered the event? What were your thoughts while watching his dive?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bar Serves Teen a Cocktail with Liquid Nitrogen

Gabby Scanlan from Lancaster, UK had to have her stomach surgically removed after drinking a cocktail with liquid nitrogen. She was celebrating her 18th birthday at Oscar's Wine Bar and Bistro, and ingested the chemical before it evaporated from her drink. Scanlan is stable, but in serious condition.

BBC news shared this story through a video. The video included a short but powerful interview from Professor John Ashton, director of public health, saying that a bar is not a place for dangerous chemicals. Most people commonly know of liquid nitrogen as the chemical used to help freeze off warts. It's an extremely cold substance that kills tissue and if ingested, may be fatal.

The image in the video of the drink shows viewers how the use of liquid nitrogen has an enticing effect on making the drink look more theatrical. But it is dumbfounding that a bar would allow someone to be served a drink with a harmful chemical. The video did not say whether the bar warned people to not drink the liquid nitrogen before it was evaporated. The bar is no longer selling the drink. One mixologist in the video said that he thinks it is possible to use liquid nitrogen in drinks, but that it must be done safely and very carefully.

I find that when you compare the BBC news video to other accounts of this incident that their are some interesting details that are omitted because it was done with a video, but that is one limitation of using that form of media. However, there was a brief summary of details regarding what happened beneath the video. One detail that I found interesting from the Daily Mail article was that it shared the name of the drink, a "Nitro Jagermeister." It also included a quote that the teen posted on twitter telling people to stop making jokes, such as "stay off the liquid nitrogen," about the almost fatal incident. 

I find that a story like this does lend itself to creativity when it comes to making a headline. I for one was going to start this article off by saying:

Did you ever think you'd hear the day when someone would ask, "I'll have a cocktail, easy on the liquid nitrogen." 

I reconsidered the joke after thinking about the serious situation and reading that quote from the Daily Mail. I do think BBC news did a good job with their video. I liked the extra commentary from  the two opposing points of view. This week in our class we had to do an audio piece on a controversial subject and I think that this BBC news video showed the techniques we learned it class. The video showed the opposing views between the bar tender, who cares about the theatrics of a drink, vs. a professor in public health, who doesn't feel a chemical like that should ever be in a restaurant or bar. But I think that BBC news could have included more written details along with the video.

Christian Legal Group v. 
California ban on Gay Conversion Therapy

There is a strong tug-of-war in opinions between those supporting gay rights and those fighting for the freedom to exercise religion, the right to privacy, and freedom of speech in this case. Boston University students share their opinions about whether parents have the right to choose to send their child or teen to gay conversion therapy and whether therapy is medically appropriate to apply to homosexuality. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tragic Kenyan Church Blast

This morning, BBC news reported on a grenade blast that killed one child and left three severely injured at a Sunday school church in Nairobi, Kenya.

The article explains that the blast was most likely from supporters of Somalia's al-Shabab Islamist militant group who were angry at Kenyan supports for UN intervention in Somalia. A revenge attack took place in Eastleigh injuring 13 Somalis. 
Multiple attacks have occurred in Nairobi and Mombasa since Kenyan troops were sent into Somalia last October, according to BBC news. 

In my opinion, this story truly pulls on reader's emotions. The video that was published at the top of the article is sad (shown above). What shocked me was how composed the woman remained during the interview. It is always tragic to hear about the death of child through political or religious violence. 

The quote "running for their lives", written in the article and said by the woman in the video, conveys the sense of chaos felt by survivors of the attack. The article suggests that others were injured from a stampede following the attack as many people ran franticly for safety unsure of where the grenades were coming from. 
I think it was smart for BBC news to include a video interview of a survivor from the attack. It added to the emotional appeal of the story and made it more personal. This story is also timely in expressing the ongoing conflict between Somalia and Kenya right now. 

Your two cents... 
What was your reaction to the video after seeing it? How did reading this article make you feel?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pakistani Minister Places Bounty on Film Maker's Head

It's hard not to look at a news source and not notice the extreme outrage felt by some in the Middle East over the controversial anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims. But aggression towards the film has risen to a whole new level. Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour released a comment saying that he would pay 100,000 dollars for the death of the maker of the anti-Islamic film, according to a BBC news article. The article then explains that the Minister asked for the Taliban and al-Qaeda to help him find and kill the film maker. The Pakistani government condemned the Minister's statement by saying that it was a personal comment and would not be taken into action. The Minister is part of the Awami National Party (ANP) not the ruling Pakistan's People Party (PPP).

The controversial comment:

"I will pay whoever kills the makers of this video $100,000. If someone else makes other similar blasphemous material in the future, I will also pay his killers $100,000" said the Minister according to BBC news. 

There is something to be said about the power of a direct quote. I think reading the Minister's exact words makes them jump off the page. The reader begins to think, wow, did he really just say that? I find it interesting to discuss this topic on an online blog since blogs are a media outlet that encourage discussion and freedom of speech. One part of this controversy is the tug-of-war between freedom of speech and that fine line of going to far when expressing an opinion, especially one that could spark hate or offense towards a culture or religion. Which is why I find the following quote from the Minister according to BBC news very interesting,

"I call upon these countries and say: Yes, freedom of expression is there, but you should make laws regarding people insulting our Prophet. And if you don't, then the future will be extremely dangerous."

I see a lot of extremes in these expressions. The film itself was extremely anti-islamic  and the response from those in the Middle East was extreme outrage towards the west. The last part of his comment leaves me wondering what will happen between the West and the Middle East. If the West continues to express their freedom of speech towards religions, such as Islam, will there be more violence to pay for these extreme expressions? The outrage against the West has already resulted in violence with the storming of embassies and the shooting of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

The top of the BBC news article includes a powerful picture (shown above) of a man dressed in all black with his face covered and his arms raised with a stick in hand. The photograph of this man captures his anger and outrage even though you cannot see his face. Behind him are a sea of flames that have engulfed two cars. I think this picture adds to the article because it brings to life the emotional aspect of what those offended by the anti-Islamic film are feeling, extreme anger, and conveys how these emotions are being expressed through violence.

Your two cents...

The main question I am wondering after reading this article is, when it comes to the global community, how do we balance and respect conflicting rights between countries? What could the U.S. do to help stop the violence and hate towards the West? Or should Pakistan, and other countries in the Middle East, take a more peaceful approach to voicing their outrage?

Other links:

Watch here for a BBC video of the Minister clearly asking al-Qaeda and the Taliban to help him kill the film maker and join this "noble cause."