The newly elected pope joked with the crowd at St. Peter’s Square about how far he had come to be their pope. “As you know, the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop.” “It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the earth to find him.”
How did the newspapers of the “end of the earth” country of Argentina react to the news of their native son, Jorge Bergoglio’s, elevation to the papacy?
Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor with a talking filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director. The filibuster, which lasted nearly 13 hours, was prompted by Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr.’s refusal to rule out drone strikes within the United States. For more on this story, see Rand Paul launches talking filibuster against John Brennan (Washington Post, March 6, 2013).
The rise of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, and other remotely controlled and increasingly autonomous robotics in the military has been making headlines in recent weeks. For a look into the subject, check out:
1. Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-first Century / P.W. Singer (2009) Description: “We are just beginning to see a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I,Robot and the Terminator all too real. More than seven- thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq. Pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. Scientists are debating just how smart—and how lethal—to make their current robotic prototypes. And many of the most renowned science fiction authors are secretly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation. Blending historic evidence with interviews from the field, Singer vividly shows that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on the front lines as well as on the politics back home.”–Publisher
2. Remote Control War (Documentary, 2011) Description: “The current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan comprise the world’s first Robotic War. From almost none when it invaded Iraq, the U.S. fleet has grown to 7,000 robots in the air and 12,000 on the ground. 43 other countries are now using robots in combat. But robots only have the ethics that they are programmed with, and human/robot wars raise many ethical questions. Does the ability to kill anyone, anywhere with a robot amount to lawlessness? What about when robots decide who to kill? Will having no casualties make going to war too easy? Very soon all sides will have access to remote control weapons. Will robots be the suicide bombers of the future? Robotic war is here. From today’s CIA drone strikes to the next generation of armed autonomous robot swarms, killer robots are about to change our world.”–Distributor
Civil Rights has been a key issue of study and discussion on our campus and in this library. Our library has held lectures around issues relating to civil rights and librarians have highlighted resources on civil rights on this blog. (Click here to see past blog posts about civil rights.)
This week the Supreme Court heard arguments about the Voting Rights Act, which is a key piece of legislation supporting the rights of all Americans to vote. (For more information on the Voting Rights Act take a look at this page from the US Justice Department.) Here is a video outlining the issues discussed in the Supreme Court:
Supreme Court Hears Arguments Against Key Provision of Voting Rights Act
SUMMARY: The Supreme Court heard arguments over a provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get approval by the Justice Department before making any changes to voting rules. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal was in court and talks to Jeffrey Brown.
Here’s a lesson in information literacy. Our faculty have emailed around some stories related to the Bicholim Conflict. Ever heard of this 17th century war? No? Well, that’s because it was entirely made up on Wikipedia. It never happened, but some creative writers put together a whole history about a war between Portugal and Indian. Here are some articles about the hoax:
Unfortunately, Wikipedia is so influential that there are still references to this fake war all over the web, so it is unlikely that the Bicholim Conflict will soon go away. We will long remember the brave sacrifices made by the soldiers and civilians who fought in this fake, hoax of a war.
As you may have heard on the news the President has a few proposals for the gun control debate. A few of these ideas were included in his State of the Union address last week. You can take a look at the White House’s official proposal right here.
Do all, some, or none of these make sense to you? If you wanted an alternate analysis of the issue where would you look?
I heard this podcast the other day, and it is a very different take on the issue than you would hear from most resources. It’s a conversation about gun control from the guys who wrote the book Freakonomics.
The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, recently announced his resignation from the papacy. The news spread quickly. This historical event was reported by the internet, twitter, blogs, TV, radio, etc. Mass media has changed greatly since the last pontiff, Pope Gregory XII, resigned in 1451. Read this fascinating article from The Atlantic to find out how news of the papal resignation spread during the Middle Ages.
Also, the MVCC library has numerous books about the papacy.
Additionally, I wanted to post this interview and film trailer. This is a discussion with director, Dror Moreh, who recently was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary The Gatekeepers. In this documentary, Moreh interviewed former leaders of the Israeli Security Agency, the Shin Bet. This is a fascinating discussion involving views on violence and politics.
The Oscar Documentaries, Part 4: ‘The Gatekeepers’
Summary: “The Gatekeepers” is a film that consists mostly of interviews with six men, but they happen to be six former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency. These are men who have been largely or completely unknown to the public, running an organization that since the 1967 war has been deeply involved in counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering in the West Bank and Gaza. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.
In the past, I have posted about violence and video games on this blog (see The Science of Video Games: Violence, Benefits, and Stories). This is a topic that is regularly researched by students, many of whom play violent video games. I wanted to post the video below from the News Hour, which hits key issues in the debate in relation to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary this past December.
I had to share this video partly because it starts with a funny rap video about the Higgs Boson and partly because this discussion is excellent. I mean, how can we resist a rap video about particle physics? Clearly, this video will not win any awards, but the content is very important. Our understanding of our world has been greatly changed with the discovery of this particle.
Critical Mass: How the Higgs Boson Discovery Swept the World (Published on Feb 14, 2013)
Discovery: Last summer, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, announced the discovery of a new particle that could explain why elementary particles have mass. On February 7, 2013, a panel of experts from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermilab discussed why this discovery marks the beginning of a new era in particle physics research.
This week a meteor hit the earth in Russia and an asteroid came within 17,000 miles of earth. Here is a video with physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about these events and about the fact that there are no series efforts being funded to deflect these kind of cosmic threats.