Celebrity Suicides and How the Media Covers Them

Recent Celebrity Suicides in the U.S. - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

“Every death, not just Anthony Bourdain, not just Kate Spade, not just people that who are famous and names that we know… every death is here to teach us how to live better. Every death is here to remind us of our own life and the value of it,” said Oprah Winfrey in an interview with Extra. “So what will come of these deaths in sequence like this, the suicides, is a more open desire to talk about it. There are lots and lots of people who have not been forthcoming because they are ashamed still of talking about mental illness in their family and mental illness in people around them, but it is serious and it is real.”

And because Bourdain and Spade both committed suicide within the same week, many media organizations are looking at how they cover this ultra-sensitive topic.

More than a few media outlets have publicized the Suicide Prevention Hotline’s number, and operators there have said they’ve received the largest volume of calls in its history since Bourdain’s and Spade’s deaths.

The Associated Press issued new guidance to its journalists on how to appropriately report on suicides, and The Poynter Institute gave clarification on its advice, as well.

Associate Managing Editor at The New York Times Philip B. Corbett said, “If a suicide is newsworthy, we want to give readers the key facts and not leave them in the dark,” Corbett said. “That would typically include such basic information as where and how. But we want to avoid a level of detail that might seem sensational, gratuitous or voyeuristic. We would likely report whether there was a note, but would consider very carefully before publishing anything from the note.”

What Do You Think?

Should news outlets be more careful in reporting suicides? I’d love to see fun facts and other interesting info you’ve learned, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani Hints at Presidential Pardons

Giuliani Hints at Presidential Pardons - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

“When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Giuliani told the New York Daily News in early June.

The former NYC mayor, who now serves on Trump’s legal team, made the remark on the same day former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sent to jail.

Manafort, who’s facing charges of alleged money laundering, conspiracy and tax evasion, has the president on his side – Trump tweeted, “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

Critics say that Giuliani’s comments may make other people involved in the Mueller probe reluctant to cooperate with investigators – and it may raise ethical questions about whether Trump is abusing his pardon power.

Trump, when asked, didn’t want to discuss pardons; he told reporters, “I don’t want to talk about that. No, I don’t want to talk about that.”

“If the president counsels crimes personally or participates in a crime personally, and then exercises the pardon power so as to shelter the people who engaged in those crimes, the Virginia debate is very clear. That is an impeachable offense.” Constitutional scholar Cass Sunstein said.

Trump also floated the idea of pardoning himself. On June 4, he tweeted, “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

What Do You Think?

Do you think the president should pardon people he feels are unjustly convicted? What about himself – do you believe he has the right to pardon himself? I’d love to see fun facts and other interesting info you’ve learned, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Roseanne Barr Fired, Initiates Tweet Storm

Roseanne Barr Fired, Tweets Apology and Explanation - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Controversial TV celebrity Roseanne Barr was canned from her network for a series of controversial tweets in late May, but she’s still trying to explain them – and the explanations are becoming even more confusing.

ABC abruptly cancelled the sitcom, a reboot of the original “Roseanne” show, after she tweeted a series of racist comments, including one about former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett that said, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

Barr later claimed that she wasn’t a racist, but that she was on Ambien – a commonly prescribed sleeping medication.

Sanofi, Ambien’s manufacturer, tweeted in response: “People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

Even after apologizing and claiming the Ambien made her do it, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said, “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”

Then, after “forgiving” everyone who lashed out at her, Barr said that her original tweet about Jarrett was intended to bring awareness to anti-Semitism.

“Rod Serling wrote Planet of The Apes. It was about anti-semitism. That is what my tweet referred to-the anti semitism of the Iran deal. Low IQ ppl can think whatever they want,” Barr tweeted.

What Do You Think?

Do you think Barr is a racist, that Twitter is getting out of control (or at least celebrities tweeting is a bit over-the-top), or that everything was blown out of proportion? I’d love to see fun facts and other interesting info you’ve learned, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Antarctic Ice Sheet On Its Way Out, Scientists Say

Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting Faster Than Expected - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

According to a new study, the Antarctic ice sheet is melting quickly – and it’s losing more than 240 billion tons of ice each year. By the end of the century, scientists predict that sea levels will rise by 6 inches, and that means that the sea could threaten coastal communities earlier than scientists expected. Now, they’re saying that the U.S.’s East Coast could be hit the hardest. The study, published in Nature, says that before 2012, the ice losses weren’t contributing a huge amount to global sea level rises. However, now ice loss has tripled.

Further, scientists warn that Antarctica’s rapid meltdown may mean there’s less time to prepare and protect vulnerable communities.

Scientists have proven that glaciers alleviate sea-level rise by keeping water out of the ocean and that each creates a strong enough field of gravity to pull ocean water from other places on the planet. When the Antarctic ice sheet melts, its gravitational field stops pulling water from the U.S.’s East Coast. That means in addition to more water in the seas, the water that the ice sheet pulled from our coastal areas will come flooding back in. For every centimeter of sea-level rise from the western part of Antarctica, areas like Boston feels an additional 25 percent – so people there will experience a 1.25-centimeter rise.

To make matters worse, recent research uncovered magma fueling volcanoes under Antarctica. It’s a hotspot much like the one beneath Hawaii and the one that fuels all the geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park.

Scientists say that there’s still time to mitigate the worst possible effects, but not much. It would require dramatic action across the world within the next decade to head off these impending catastrophes, but even the actions we take now might not be enough.

What Do You Think?

Do you think there’s anything we can do to help prevent the Antarctic ice sheet from melting away, or is it out of our hands (or too late)? I’d love to see fun facts and other interesting info you’ve learned, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Emotional Support Animals in the Air

Flying With an Emotional Support Animal - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

As more people in the U.S. turn to emotional support animals, more are bringing them on long-distance vacations… and that’s leading to a whole host of issues airlines have to face. In February, a Florida college student claimed she was forced to flush an emotional support hamster down a toilet by a Spirit Airlines employee, and prior to that, a woman was denied passage on a United Airlines flight with his support peacock.

Exotic animals, rodents and other pets are the subject of new airline regulations almost across the board as a result. Delta issued a statement saying it will more thoroughly vet unusual animals that people try to bring on flights.

“Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more,” the airline said. “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.” Delta passengers who are traveling with a service or support animal are now required to show proof of the animal’s health and vaccinations at least 48 hours before flying, as well as provide a current letter signed by a doctor or mental health worker and sign an affidavit that says the animal will behave.

American Airlines also banned emotional support amphibians, ferrets, goats and other animals with hooves, tusks or horns. The airline does make an exception for miniature horses trained as service animals, though.

Many people believe some passengers are trying to pass off household pets as service animals to avoid paying pet fees or being forced to leave their pets behind, and that by claiming an animal is trained for emotional support, they’re getting away with it.

What Do You Think?

Do you think the airlines are right to put bans on certain types of animals flying in aircraft cabins, or do you believe that most people are being honest about their animals being trained to provide emotional support?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Is Facebook Enforcing Safety Standards?

Is Facebook Doing Enough - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Facebook has definitely come under fire lately for a series of scandals involving personal information, but what are they doing about keeping people who are on the site safe from objectionable content?

In a recent blog post, the social media giant said it published the guidelines its review team uses to decide what’s allowed to stay on the site and what’s too objectionable to leave up – and those guidelines are followed each time someone objects to something they see on a timeline or a news feed.

Facebook also released a report on how much content they remove that has to do with graphic violence, nudity and sexual activity, terrorist propaganda, hate speech, spam and fake accounts. For example, when it comes to graphic violence, 27 of every 10,000 posts displays graphic violence that’s bad enough to remove from the site. According to the report, Facebook claims it acted on “bad content” 85.6 percent of the time before any users reported it; the remaining 14.4 percent of the time, Facebook’s algorithms didn’t detect it and it had to be reported by users.

This doesn’t refer to the fake news that experts believe could have affected the 2016 presidential election. Facebook has unveiled reporting tools that allow users to draw the company’s attention to fake news, which it sometimes removes or warns other users about.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, admitted that the organization didn’t do enough to protect its users. Moving forward, he said, “We need to take full responsibility for the outcome of how people use [our] tools.” He also said that by the end of this year, Facebook will employ 20,000 “digital security employees” to help preserve user data.

What Do You Think?

Does Facebook do enough to protect its users, or would you like to see more effort from the $100-billion company? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Twitter feed… or on Facebook.

Carlos Gamino

 

 

Sports Betting and College Athletes

Sports Betting and College Athletes - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Sports betting is now legal, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a May 14, 2018 ruling, the Court struck down a law that prevented states from legalizing sports betting – and Justice Samuel Alito said that the former law was unconstitutional.

The law, said Alito, “unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may do and not do.” He said that as a result, state legislatures were “under the direct control of Congress.”

Congress can directly regulate sports gambling, but it can’t order states to regulate it.

But the National Football League wants Congress to step in. In a statement issued the same day, the NFL said, “The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute. Congress has long recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting.”

Some people believe that collegiate athletes are at-risk of throwing games because they’re vulnerable to corruption – and if they get caught doing so, they can be thrown out of school and lose a promising career.

The original law was named the Bradley Act after its main promoter, Bill Bradley – who himself is a former basketball player – and it’s now gone. Bradley, who served three terms as a U.S. senator, isn’t happy about the decision.

“I regret today’s decision,” Bradley told NPR. “I think the court ignored the impact of their ruling on sport. I think they’ve turned every baseball player, basketball player, football player into a roulette chip. There’s nothing to prevent betting on high school or even grade-school games with this ruling. The only winner here are casinos, in my opinion.”

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Supreme Court’s strike-down of the Bradley Act. Do you think sports betting should be legalized in Wisconsin, and do you believe amateur athletes are being put at unnecessary risk?

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page or join the conversation on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

Seattle’s Tax to Help the Homeless

Seattle’s Tax to Help the Homeless - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Seattle’s City Council passed a new tax on big business in mid-May in hopes of using it to fund programs for the city’s growing homeless population. Mayor Jenny A. Durkan (D) agreed to impose an annual tax of $275 on all employees working for a business that makes at least $20 million per year in revenue – from construction businesses to Amazon.

The initial proposal was for a $500 tax, but Amazon strongly opposed that figure, along with Starbucks and Expedia. The retail giant halted construction plans on a development site on the north side of the city.

Seattle’s Growing Homeless Population

In 2015, Seattle and King County, Wa., declared a state of emergency over homelessness. However, since then, the number of homeless students in public schools there has tripled – and an additional 23,000 households are at-risk because more than 50 percent of their income goes toward housing costs. Home prices have risen faster in Seattle than anywhere else in the country, where the median home price is $777,000.

Supporters of the measure blame Amazon for turning Seattle into somewhat of a Silicon Valley extension, which caused a huge leap in the cost of living. Amazon says that putting a second headquarters in the city will bring in as many as 50,000 new jobs and that it will invest $5 billion in the city, as well as fill more than 8 million square feet of office space. But with construction plans halted over the proposed tax, those jobs will never materialize.

“This is a message to the working people of America from Amazon saying that if you dare to fight us, we will threaten you with taking away jobs,” said Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember. “It’s really about billionaires like [Jeff] Bezos making sure people understand the balance of power. People need to know that Jeff Bezos is a bully and people need to fight back against this attempted extortion.”

What Do You Think?

Do you think that this tax measure is a good idea, or that Jeff Bezos is a bully? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

 

How Are Schools Dealing With Threats of Violence?

How American Schools Are Dealing With Violent Threats - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

In the wake of the February 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, schools are struggling to come up with the right answers – solutions that protect students and minimize the risks associated with guns and schools.

Knowing how to respond can be a tremendous challenge for schools. According to Dewey Cornell, a University of Virginia expert on school violence, “Schools must avoid two errors: over-reacting to the numerous threats that are not serious and under-reacting to the rare threats that are deadly serious.” Cornell says that most school threats are pranks or expressions of anger – and the people who make them typically have no serious intent to carry them out.

Since the massacre in Parkland, the Educator’s School Safety Network has tracked nearly a thousand threats to schools. Most involved guns and bombs, and the majority of those took place on social media and verbally.

And right now, most schools are treating all threats equally – and harshly. An 11 year-old-girl is facing criminal charges in Cloquet, Minnesota, and an autistic 13-year-old boy in Hawaii is, too. There were dozens of school threats in Florida in the weeks immediately following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and even more in other states.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker came out against arming teachers while those in other states have already passed legislation allowing teachers to carry guns. Still, whether or not teachers carry weapons in the classroom doesn’t cover the whole issue. The fact is that there’s nothing in place that equips school administrators or teachers to deal with school threats, credible or not, in place – and nobody has come up with a way to prevent or handle them.

What Do You Think?

How should schools respond to potential threats? Should there be a nationwide plan in place that teachers should implement, and more importantly, do you think teachers should be carrying guns to school in an effort to protect kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino

Atlantic Ocean Current Slowing

Atlantic Ocean Current Slowing - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

The current in the Atlantic Ocean that helps regulate the climate across the world has reached a 1,000-year low – and scientists warn that it could be trouble.

The current, which is called the “conveyor belt of the ocean,” swaps out warm water that comes from the equator area with the Arctic’s much colder water.

Geologist David Thornally says that the current – technically, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC – “plays a key role in the distribution of heat” on Earth. He says that melting ice from Greenland causes a flood of fresh water to flow through the oceans, but because fresh water isn’t as dense as salt water is, it rises to the top and floats on the ocean’s surface. One theory is that this slows the ocean’s circulation, although scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact cause for the slowing.

According to the geological record, the same thing may have happened during the last ice age and it’s possible that it completely stopped the current.

“Evidence from the past suggests that it actually did happen during the last ice age, and it is possible that it could happen in the future, although at the moment we consider it very unlikely,” says Thornally. “What we don’t really know is, are we close to one of those tipping points where runaway processes could suddenly allow the mark to weaken much quicker than it has been doing?”

Scientists agree that this slowdown – or worse, a complete stop – would have tremendous effects on ocean ecosystems.

“These delicate ecosystems rely on ocean currents to supply their food and disperse their offspring,” says Professor Murray Roberts of the University of Edinburgh. “Ocean currents are like highways spreading larvae throughout the ocean, and we know these ecosystems have been really sensitive to past changes in the Earth’s climate.”

The complete shutdown of the AMOC was the premise for the movie The Day After Tomorrow, but scientists don’t believe we’re facing anything that extreme.

What Do You Think?

What steps do you think we should take to prevent the ice sheets from melting, potentially stopping the changing ocean currents? I’d love to hear your opinion on the current research and your ideas on how we could make improvements, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino