Author Archives: laurenmckown

About laurenmckown

Interning for three months this summer at Gorta, an NGO working for poverty alleviation and food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

Stabbings in Chinese Kindergarten Copycat Crime

This MSNBC story illuminates the sheer terror that any one would have felt hearing the screams of children from a place of education.

School is supposed to be a place where children can be safe – learn, play, eat, make friends…

At this Beijing elementary school however, a man entered, stabbing 28 children, two teachers and a security guard using an eight-inch blade.

It raises two issues in within global social norms.

Firstly, it’s been a central rallying point for those trying to show that guns are not the source of violence, and that instead people are.

Secondly, it’s another call for better care for mentally unstable individuals, as was the criminal that stabbed children at the school. Although the Westernized world has developed an arguably strong system for the mentally handicapped, some countries, including China, have been slower to catch on.

It’s not uncommon for those that are mentally unstable and left to take care of themselves to commit crimes like these. It’s not something they can often control and it’s the primary reason that better institutions need to be established for their care.


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Filed under International News, Lauren McKown, Recently read

Construction Junction – What’s going on around campus?

Construction Junctions are held by the MSU Physical Plant at 8:30 a.m. the second Thursday of every month in Room S107 of South Kedzie Hall. The meetings are held to engage in community discussion about current construction projects on campus and to provide information to students and East Lansing residents. Inspired by MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon’s Boldness by Design initiative, they serve as a construction town hall meeting. Designers and project representatives are often available to answer questions about funding, design and traffic implications of different construction projects.

In order to see past minutes from construction junctions, visit the Construction Junction website.

Upcoming Construction Junctions

  • May 13, 2010
  • June 10, 2010
  • July 8, 2010

Communications manager for the MSU Physical Plant Karen Zelt said renovations to Wells Hall will put three large lecture halls in the building out of commission, as well as displacing University Activity Board events such as free movie showings and the East Lansing Film Festival. Alternate locations for classes and events have been found on campus.

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OCAT – Is the Administration Listening?

Throughout my time at MSU, I’ve had many experiences working with Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, or OCAT, aides. From Chris who helped me through many tearful nights as a freshman and introduced me to “real Chinese food” to my roommate Lena who is now preparing to be an OCAT aide herself, OCATs have been a big part of my experience here.

Looking into budget cuts for the program throughout the past few years for my JRN200 story provided me with a good grasp of just how much the program has lost in the last five years or so.

Take a look at these statistics, some of which were included in my public affairs story, and some not (for reader-friendly content’s sake):

  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2006-2007: $736,827
  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2007-2008: $731,904
  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2008-2009: $704,266
  • OCAT budget in the academic year of 2009-2010: $683,866
  • Proposed OCAT budget in the academic year of 2010-2011: $635,996

The budget has been on a steady decline for years now and with the new proposed budget cut (at 7 percent) will be the largest in a long time and will cut $47,870 from the program.

Hard times call for desperate measures but a lot of students don’t think the administration is listening. Cuts in other areas have been prevalent as well however sometimes students involved in cultural programs feel they’re being picked on, like the music or the arts, as a less important expenditure. You can check out the full budget history of the university here.

The university has, notably, put forth some effort in communicating with students whether indirectly or directly. President Lou Anna K. Simon talks about the State of the University here, including some discussion about the budget and the importance of MSU in the global community.

The president and many other important university officials sat down about a month ago to hold an OCAT roundtable, discussing the potential budget cuts and their implications for the program. Administrators have discussed the issues with students face-to-face and have promised to take their considerations into account while making these important decisions. They have also created a “Shaping the Future” initiative to create an online dialogue with students, providing them with budget information and means by which to contact administration with their comments.

But is it enough? I’m not even sure and I’d be glad to hear what you think.

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Filed under big blog!, Lauren McKown, multimedia

Arizona Immigration

Arizona’s done it.
They’ve passed the toughest immigration law in the country against the wishes of national and global leaders, including President Obama.
Sparked by drug wars in Michigan, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a law that will make it a crime to be in the state illegally and will allow polices to check “suspects” from immigration paperwork.
Many are concerned that the new legislation will cause a spiked rate of racial profiling. Brewer has dismissed these concerns and instead has held a bill signing ceremony.
A recent poll shows that 70 percent of voters in the state approve the measure even though 53 percent of those voters believe the bill violates civil rights.
It seems the law will be really difficult to enforce without law enforcement officials targeting Latinos and will definitely be a violation of civil rights. I’m definitely not a fan.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know below.

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Filed under Lauren McKown, Recently read

International/National News

PARIS – Ash filled European skies due to a volcano in Iceland, putting a complete stop to flights in and out of the area in what some are calling the worst peacetime air travel disruption. The ash problems cost airlines hundreds of millions of dollars. The European transport ministry is currently working on a plan to begin easing the air travel ban put in place a few days ago. (Lauren)

WASHINGTON D.C. – Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain of Arizona called for the deployment of 3,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border Monday. Illegal aliens crossing the border into Arizona have caused a higher level of crime. The Senators have also called for federal funding for 3,000 U.S. Customs and Border agents to be deployed along the border by 2015 as well as a double-row border fence (Lauren)

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Filed under Budget Lines, International News, Lauren McKown

Pulitzer Prize – Getting into the “MM” of things

Sheri Fink of ProPublica worked in conjunction with The New York Times Magazine to win a Pulitzer in investigative reporting, and as any in-depth reporting piece should do in this age of journalism, the genius of this piece transcends the brilliant writing of the story.

Written in late August of 2008, Fink’s piece tells the story of medical personnel having to make tough decisions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and defending those decision afterward. For example, one physician made the decision to inject some patients with lethal doses of certain drugs to ease patients’ pain.

Multimedia of the piece, however, it what makes it come to life. A video interview, interactive timeline, interactive graphic and other images help to tell the story in a way that just words alone could not do as efficiently.

Fink also did an amazing job of writing supplemental pieces to add to the story that didn’t necessarily fit in with the main storyline. It’ll take you an hour to get through all of the content, but it’s really, truly worth the time.

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Filed under Lauren McKown, Pulitzer, Recently read

International Budget – Week of 04/12/10

POLAND – Polish President Lech Kaczynski died Saturday in a plane crash in western Russia along with many other top Polish officials on their way to a remembrance ceremony commemorating the Soviet massacre of more than 20,000 in the ’40s Heavy fog contributed to the crash and 96 total people are estimated dead. Many bills were waiting on Kaczynski to sign and the political landscape will be dramatically changed. The people of Poland are currently participating in many remembrance ceremonies.

Story here.

GREECE – Greek will receive a loan of up to 30 billion Euros at very low rates to bail out its struggling economy after 16 nations of the EU came together Sunday to make an official offer. Heads of the involved government still have to come together to sign the deal before it is finalized. The interest rate is to be about 5 percent for a three-year loan, which is more than what is charged by the I.M.F. I.M.F funding will also be made available to Greece.

Story here.

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Filed under Budget Lines, Lauren McKown