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?