January 2012 Archives

Ban Ki Moon: African leaders have to respect gay rights

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United Nations Ban Ki Moon urged for gay rights to be respected in his speech infront of the African Union Sunday.

Homosexuality is illegal in many countries in Africa, including many major Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Botswana. Many African churches also preach against it.

According to the BBC, Both the US and UK have recently warned they would use foreign aid to push for homosexuality to be decriminalised on the socially conservative continent.

In the new Chinese-built AU headquarters in the capital of Ethiopia, Ban said to the delegates that gay people should not be treated as "second-class citizens and or even criminals."

Quoted by the AFP, Ban Ki Moon said, "Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration (of human rights)."

He also said that the Arab Spring is a reminder that leaders of countries have to listen to their people.

Polls show Romney ahead of Gingrich in Florida

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Two statewide polls show that Floridians favoring Romney much more than Gingrich.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Romney leads Newt Gingrich by margins of 11 percent and 15 percent in the surveys. If the predictions are right on Tuesday , it would represent an abrupt reversal of last weekend's South Carolina vote, in which Gingrich took by a double-digit score.

Despite this fact though, Gingrich vows that he will continue fighting. On CNN, he questioned Romney's ethics accusing Romney of not even being able to be honest with the issues he voted for.

This campaign is about the future of America and the Republican party, said Gingrich.

Twitter's new policies

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Twitter announced their new company's policy Thursday which enraged users from all around the globe.

On their blog, Twitter announced that they will limit tweets in countries if they were deemed illegal. Because other countries have different ideas about the contours of freedom expression, to be able to hold offices in those countries, Twitter will now have the ability to limit content on a country by country basis but still keep the content available for the rest of the world.

This announcement enraged activists and freedom of speech advocates all around the world. Twitter was always seen as a free speech tool by people who were muzzled by their own governments. Egyptians even used Twitter to organize democracy protests and bring about the rise of the Arab Spring. However, with Twitter's new policies, their tweets for protests and criticism of their government could be censored.

An analysis in the New York Times said that this decision proses the question of whether is it more important for Twitter to remain a free-speech tool that can be used in defiance of governments, as happened during the Arab Spring protests, or a commercial venture that necessarily must obey the laws of the lands where it seeks to attract customers and eventually make money.

In the Arab world, the loudest protests against this are from Saudi Arabia Iyad el-Baghdadi, an author and Arab spring blogger based in Dubai said to Aljazeera. Baghdadi sees the vocal reaction among Arab users as an extension of the Arab spring, which some have said the service played a large role in.

Another perspective of this said that Twitter's new censorship policies are actually good for activists. Josh Catone, a writer for Mashable Social Media said that in the past, when something was taken down by Twitter, it was taken down internationally. Now, however, their policies are a case by case, country by country basis. If something is taken down by Twitter, the tweet will be greyed out in that country and noted that it was censored but it would still be viewable from the rest of the world. The transparency that comes this censorship should be utilized by activists.

There was a 24-hour boycott of twitter on Saturday of people against this new policy with the hashtags #TwitterBlackout and #TwitterCensored.

Leads: Law schools check Facebook for admissions

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The lead for this story from the Minnesota Daily really pulled me in because it is relevant to me, an aspiring law school student.

The lead talked about law school admission officers themselves recommending law schools applicants to be careful of what they post about themselves on Facebook.

The lead only said that applicants should be careful about their online activity but it did not explain why. Furthermore, it specifically mentioned about "law school admission officers" so that the story can attract possible law school applicants and people who are considering higher education.

After the lead, the second paragraph then explained it was a Kaplan Test prep survey that showed that law school admission officers are 20% more likely to check on applicants' online activity than undergraduate college admission officers.

The lead in this example was successful in invoking curiosity from me as the reader, which led me to read on to find out the details.

2012 Legislative Session: Bonding Bill

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One of the many issues discussed in this year's legislative session that will affect many University students is the Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding bill.

Dayton's proposed $775 million dollar bonding bill will go to building and renovating new community facilities. The University of Minnesota especially wants part of it.

The University has requested $170 million from the bill including $90 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) which are funds that go to maintaining and improving facilities around campus.

However, according to the Minnesota Daily, Dayton will allocate only $78 million to the university's constructions projects, and an additional $20 million for HEAPR.

Star Tribune's Capital Hot Dish said that the bonding bill will have a little for everyone. The bonding bill will go to many construction and renovation projects all over the state like a ball park for St. Paul, a Nicolette Mall facelift, and millions of dollars for roads, bridges and community centers.

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