The White House Wants to Implement Body Cameras for Police

The Obama administration wants to set aside $263 million to improve law enforcement training and fund the purchase of 50,000 cameras that police officers can wear on their bodies. The White House proposed the move in a review of local-law-enforcement funding, released on Monday. It arrives one week after a Grand Jury decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of teenager Michael Brown, a decision that has sparked widespread upheaval across the country.

Some of the feelings of hopelessness and frustration surrounding the decision arise from discrepancies between Officer Wilson’s testimony and what other eye witnesses say happened on that August day when Brown was fatally shot. And without documentation, it’s a tragic tale of he-said-she-said, which many believe could have been lessened, if not completely avoided, had Officer Wilson been wearing a body camera at the time. 

In the wake of the Grand Jury verdict, Brown’s parents even released a statement, encouraging the public to join their campaign “to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.” Now, the Obama administration is answering the call. About $75 million of its $263 million budget would fund the purchase of body-worn cameras, and the new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to states who buy their own body-worn cameras. This funding, of course, will only be enough to fill a small fraction of police officers with cameras, and yet, it’s a major vote of confidence from the federal government in a new method of police surveillance that is already proving to be incredibly effective. This is significant because providing body cameras to police can bring safety, certainty, and ease to any community it is introduced to.

Where does it work?

In Rialto, California police began wearing body cameras back in 2012. Citizen complaints against officers fell 88 percent in the first year, and use of force by officers declined 60 percent. That’s an indication that cameras don’t only capture the events as they unfold, but they actually change the way everyone involved behaves. Rialto police chief stated to The New York Times: “When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better. And if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.”

And in Washington D.C., a 6-month body camera pilot program is underway, officials expect to see complaints against officers fall by 80 percent. “This gives us that independent, unbiased witness…This will make our officers safer,” police chief Cathy Lanier told The Washington Post. “It will make our department more transparent. It will reduce the amount of time supervisors have to spend investigating allegations.”

On November 24, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. VICE News correspondent Danny Gold was on the ground in Ferguson to cover the community’s reaction to the announcement.

Kumar, Anita. “Obama Proposes to Buy 50,000 Wearable Cameras for Local Police.” N.p., 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.

“White House Urges Body Cameras for Police after Ferguson.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.

“Obama Requests $75m for Police Body Cameras.” – Americas. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2014/12/obama-requests-75m-police-body-cameras-201412118927522491.html&gt;.

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Food Waste Epidemic

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which keeps tabs on what’s grown and eaten around the globe, estimates that one-third of food produced for human consumption worldwide is annually lost or wasted along the chain that stretches from farms to processing plants, marketplaces, retailers, food-service operations, and our collective kitchens. Industrialized nations waste 1.5 trillion pounds of food a year, an amount almost equal to the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. However, in the United States, the waste is undeniable: More than 30 percent of our food, valued at $162 billion annually, isn’t eaten. Pile all that food on a football field and the layers would form a putrefying casserole miles high.food-waste640

 

What’s Behind the Waste?

Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market. This is something that we all must think about when fighting the food waste epidemic. Lack of infastructure in developing nations causes much of their food to go bad before it even hits the markets. Take India for example, it loses an estimated 35 to 40 percent of its fruits and vegetables. In developed nations, hyperefficient farming practices, plenty of refrigeration, and top-notch transportation, storage, and communications ensure that most of the food we grow makes it to the retail level. So why does perfectly good food still go wasted?

ugly-fruit-Intermarche-grocery-france-adThough they do their best to hide it from public view, American food retailers typically experience in-store losses of 43 billion pounds of food a year. Store managers routinely overorder, for fear of running out of a particular product, losing customers, and consequently, their jobs. Entire shelves of perfectly edible shell peas are transferred into Dumpsters to make room for incoming ones; pallets of zucchini are rejected because they curve too much. Perfectly edible food is thrown away because it looks “ugly”. These “ugly” fruits and vegetables are typically destined for the trash, not the dinner plate. Imagine if all that perfectly good food was given to the hungry instead of our dumpsters.

The consumers are at fault as well. We overbuy because relatively cheap and seductively packaged food is available at nearly every turn. We store food improperly; we take “use by” dates literally, though such stamps were designed to communicate peak freshness and have nothing to do with food safety. We forget to eat our leftovers, we leave our doggy bags in restaurants, and we suffer little or no consequence for scraping edible food into a bin. We must learn to “eat with our stomachs and not with our eyes”.  food trash

Fixing this problem

This information is significant because issues such as food waste and world hunger will never be resolved if not confronted. This is a serious problem that our whole world faces and affectd everyone of us. If there’s anything good about the shocking scale of global food waste, it’s the huge number of opportunities it presents for improvement. We can help as individuals to stop this food epidemic in our world! Some ways in helping are: advocating to stop world hunger, call for markets to discount goods close to expiration, supporting organizations like Feeding America, push for restaurants to start measuring what they toss and offer smaller portion sizes, help raise awareness of food production in developing nations, etc.   food garbage

Royte, Elizabeth. N.p., 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.

“Humorous Ugly Fruit Campaign Reduces Food Waste in France – The Good News Network.” The Good News Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

Rover Disguised As Penguin Chick Does Research Better Than Scientists

For decades, humans have built rovers to visit places we can’t easily reach, including the moon and Mars. Now scientists have built a rover to explore another challenging target: colonies of adorable penguins. It’s a simple idea, yet a huge breakthrough in the science community in researching wildlife.  penguin_robot_jpg_662x0_q100_crop-scale

A remote-controlled rover designed to sneak undetected into penguin colonies in Antarctica works better, a new study says. The penguin-camouflaged technology is so realistic, it even fools penguins into trying to communicate with it. The baby penguin rover has already offered never-before-seen footage of an emperor penguin laying an egg. Emperor penguins are one of the least understood species on the planet. Due to the extremely hostile environment, it has been quite difficult to observe them for prolonged periods of time. Moreover, these flightless birds are extremely shy and skittish around humans. The findings, described this week in the journal Nature Methods, show that when studying animals in the wild, it’s often better for humans to stay out of the way and let robots do the work.       Penguins01

Also, studying penguins with camouflaged rovers is less stressful on the birds than other methods. A penguin who feels threatened can shuffle away even while keeping its egg or baby chick balanced on its feet. When approached by a rover consisting of a platform and four wheels, penguins moved an average of about 3 inches. But, when humans approached, the birds moved a whopping 17 inches. On top of that, the penguins’ movements pushed them into the space of other nearby penguins. Since penguins can be territorial, the disturbance would ripple through the colony, resulting in fights and chaos for many rows beyond the target bird’s area.

“When the rover was camouflaged with a penguin model, all adult and chick emperor penguins allowed it to approach close enough for an electronic identification,” the study authors wrote. “Chicks and adults were even heard vocalizing at the camouflaged rover, and it was able to infiltrate a crèche without disturbance.” Finally, the researchers tried their rover out on elephant seals, who didn’t budge when a rover came close to their heads or tails. That was a good sign because elephant seal does not react kindly to someone approaching its backside.    penguin-huddle

This is significant because such robots could be used to investigate the lives of all kinds of animals without disturbing them the way a human scientist’s presence would. Future rovers could even go beyond wheels. The researchers imagined robots capable of tracking swimming and flying critters, too.

Current Event

Borenstein, Seth. “Roving Chick Spy Keeps Tabs on Shy Penguins.” N.p., 3 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

“Robot Disguised As Fluffy Baby Penguin Is Helping Researchers Observe The Shy Species.” The Inquisitr News. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Is desalination the solution to California’s drought?

Current event article:

California’s water problem and desalination

Click this link for more information about the California drought!

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 Lake Orville in 2011 vs. Lake Orville in 2014

 

California closed the books on one of the driest “water years” on record and began what could be a fourth consecutive dry year stretching into 2015. The lack of rain and snow, combined with extremely high temperatures, has created some of the most serious drought conditions the state has faced in decades.  Under the bright Southern California sunshine, several hundred workers are building a pipeline to what may soon be thought of as the state’s biggest drinking fountain, the coastline. Using an elaborate filtration system, the $1 billion plant, built by the private company Poseidon Water, will turn 100 million gallons of salty Pacific Ocean water into 50 million gallons of drinking water for San Diego County residents. carlsbad beach

“There is no more cheap water available,” said Sandy Kerl, who currently runs the San Diego Water Authority. But, economics and environmental concerns have proven to be stumbling blocks to desalination, as numerous plants have been proposed and never built. Environmentalists say desalination can kill marine life in areas they draw water from. In addition, mountainous coastline topography makes constructing pipelines difficult and pricey. Today, however, with growing populations and rapidly shrinking surface and groundwater supplies, desalination is getting a serious second look. More than seventeen desalination plants are in the planning phases along the California coast; from Santa Cruz in the north to Carlsbad in the south. The largest desalination plant in the Western world in Carlsbad is being built and should be functioning by the end of 2015.california-drought-9a_9e8af26758148bc2e47936383e0f5f3f

Removing salt from sea water is expensive, one of the reasons is due to high consumption of electricity. It’s cheaper to tap groundwater and increase conservation. But, as drought becomes more the norm than the exception it seems self-evident that the best possible future won’t be found in draining every reservoir, sucking dry every waterhole, and turning arid land into barren sand. Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors released a statement saying, “But it’s important to remember that the purpose of the desalination projects isn’t only to help during the current drought. It will be a core, high-quality water source for decades, and it is a key part of the water authority’s strategy to improve the reliability of our region’s water supply by diversifying our water resources.” County water officials said the next few months will be critical in determining whether harsher restrictions on water use will be necessary in throughout California. This is significant because the decision of bringing desalination plants will greatly impact our water supply and possibly our drought. Without new avenues to water, our scarce resources will be diminished if the drought continues. Although desalination plants do have its drawbacks, it may be the panacea to our water crisis.

Carlsbad_desalination_plant2

Carlsbad’s desalination plant is expecting to run by the end of 2015

“Could Desalination Solve California’s Water Problem?” Sacbee. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2014.

“Unsafe Water Only Adds to California Drought Misery.” CNBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

Current Event: US airdrops supplies for Kurds fighting against ISIS

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isis

Surveying the destruction: Kurds watch the smoke rising over Kobane at sunset from Turkish territory

ISIS is a group who rules by sharia law and whose aim is to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria. They are known for killing dozens of people at a time and carrying out public executions, crucifixions, and other acts. The group currently holds hundreds of square miles and ignores international borders. The United States and many other countries have designated ISIS as a terrorist organization.

Further escalating its engagement in Syria, the United States is airdropping military supplies for Kurds defending Syria-Turkey border town Kobane from ISIS. The officials said the airdrops had been discussed by U.S. officials “for a number of days” after it came to their attention that the Kurdish fighters were running low on supplies.  US Secretary of State John Kerry said the decision to carry out the airdrops was made because it would be “irresponsible” and “morally very difficult” not to support the Kurdish fighters. President Barack Obama called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday to discuss the situation in Syria and notify him of the plan to make airdrops. This is a significant because Turkey previously has said it would oppose any U.S. arms transfers to its longtime foe the Kurdish rebels.

Turkey finds itself in a difficult situation as international pressure mounts on the NATO member to play a more active role against Islamic State militants. Helping supply Iraqi Kurds in the fight against ISIS is crucial because if not it could give ISIS a strategic foothold on the doorstep of major NATO ally Turkey and it would show the world that US airstrikes are not enough to stop its advance in the region. If this key Syrian-Turkish border town falls, ISIS would remain strong despite the immense firepower thrown against it by the US and its allies.

On a conference call with reporters Sunday night after the mission’s completion, the officials said it’s possible that further support for the Kurdish fighters is likely, though it may occur in different forms. One official characterized the aid provided to the Kurdish fighters as “the type of material that would help them sustain this fight.” “Combined with continued resistance to ISIL on the ground, indications are that these strikes have slowed ISIL advances into the city, killed hundreds of their fighters and destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of ISIL combat equipment and fighting positions,” U.S. Central Command said in the statement.

US-airdrops-weapons-and-medical-supplies-to-Syrian-Kurds-in-Kobane

Who ISIS?

Fulya Ozerkan with Sara Hussein in Beirut. “US Aridrops in Kobane.” Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 19 Jan. 0000. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.