Category Archives: Recently read

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

Author Kitty Kelley and the Identity of Oprah’s Father

An unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey has been causing quite a stir lately. Kitty Kelley’s book Oprah contradicts many things that Oprah has said about herself over the years and offers more information about details that Oprah might otherwise prefer stayed secret.

The accuracy of the book is in debate. The book is unauthorized, and Kelley never interviewed Oprah herself. The author bases much of her information on an interview with Katharine Carr Esters, one of Oprah’s cousins. Esters admits that she regrets giving Kelley a series of interviews in 2007 but that she is accurately quoted in most references.

Kelley’s recent appearance on the Today Show further stirred the pot when Kelley claimed to know who Oprah’s father is. Oprah was raised by Vernon Winfrey, but he is not her biological father and her mother, Vernita Winfrey, has refused to reveal the man’s identity. Kelley claimed that Ester told her who he was, but Kelley says she won’t reveal his identity because it’s not her place, and her mother should do it.

Oprah: a Biography is ranked 19th on Amazon’s best-seller list and first for hardcover non-fiction on the New York Times’ best-seller list.

Photo: Associated Press

– Laura Riess

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Filed under Class blogs: General, Novel, Recently read

The Year of Living Biblically

I have a small pile of books on my nightstand that I read whenever I get a chance, which isn’t often. I’ve been reading The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible for about a year now. The story isn’t really linear so it’s easy to put down and pick up almost anywhere.

A.J. Jacobs, an agnostic member of a Jewish family, decides that he is going to spend 365 days following the letter of the law of the Bible. He begins by reading the Bible cover to cover and making a list of all the suggestions, commandments and rules. He crafts the resulting list of 700 into a daily guide to live the next year of his life by.

Most people are familiar with the more common commandments, such as “love thy neighbor” and “thou shalt not steal,” but Jacobs’ experiment into the world of spiritual literalism uncovers some of the more bizarre and humorous. For instance, Jacobs is not allowed to sit on any seat that a menstruating woman has sat on, so he carries a travel seat with him everywhere goes.

I haven’t finished the book yet, but it is interesting, humorous, and at times disturbing to think of what some faithful will do to follow their gods.

A.J. Jacobs' book on Amazon

– Laura Riess

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Filed under Class blogs: General, Novel, Recently read, weekly blog

Betting against the market

So I know I’m late putting this up, but I wanted to anyway. One of the news items I’ve more recently become interested in is the alleged misconduct by Goldman Sachs, an investment banking firm in New York City. Goldman (not referred to as Sachs, I’m assuming, because of the laughter that would ensue) recently was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding investors by selling them mortgage investments that ultimately were doomed to fail.

Now, internal e-mails show the firm totally knew it was going to profit from the tanking housing market by betting against it. In what’s the latest in a bad bit of PR for the firm, the e-mails between Goldman executives (revealed with documents from a Senate investigation) show the company analyzed the market in a way where they could profit from failing mortgage rates. The company argues to the contrary, saying it lost money rather than gained it.

The Goldman Sachs brouhaha comes at a time when white collar crime in the wake of the economic crisis is becoming more commonplace (or at least more easily identifiable). Obviously, chalking this instance up to crime is not accurate because until Goldman is found guilty of the SEC’s charges, the firm is innocent. Nonetheless, as with most things of this nature, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out.

By Zane McMillin

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Filed under Recently read

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

Fatal Distraction

Like a few others in the class,  the Pulitzer prize winning work that I chose to read was Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?, which won for feature writing. And I have to say, it was one of the most powerful and moving pieces of journalism that I have ever read.

It wasn’t just the facts that made the story, it was the descriptions, the quotes, and the way the scene was painted. The heartache and the guilt dripped off of the words on the page, making it difficult to read but impossible to put down. The pain that these families have been through is excruciating, and the fact that it was brought to life in such an eloquent and heart-wrenching manner is definitely award-worthy.  I was previously unaware of such an issue, and I’m glad that a story as thoroughly researched and brilliantly written as this was able to bring it to light.

by Taylor Benson

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Filed under Pulitzer, Recently read, Taylor B, weekly blog

Facebook vs. Twitter, and Facebook wins

By: Sam Schmitt

How Facebook won the web

What first caught my eye was that this was about Facebook. Second thing was the article was written by Pete Cashmore, founder and writer of Mashable, which we talked about in class.

This week in London, England, Facebook has introduced a “like” button that will be available all around the Web. Clicking this button on a Web site will share the site with your friends on your Facebook.

Between Facebook and Twitter, Twitter has so far been unable to compete with Facebook’s massive number of users. Facebook: 400 million. Twitter: 100 million.

Facebook has even become a strong competitor against Google. Google’s search goes by interlinked Web pages. Facebook’s search is more personalized because it has a list of your friends and their interests, allowing it to know you on a personal level.

Google has tried to make a comeback by introducing Google Buzz, but so far they have failed.

The rate at which new technology is being introduced blows my mind. Google, which has been around for over a decade, seems to be on its way to being beaten by a social networking site that has been around for half the time.

I wonder if we will soon be saying, “Hang on. I’ll ‘Facebook’ it.”

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Filed under Recently read, Sam S, weekly blog