Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 3, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

Deadly Hurricane in Louisiana

At least fourteen people are dead in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm, made landfall last Thursday afternoon. Usually, hurricanes weaken as they approach the shore. Laura was one of the rare storms to intensify as it made landfall. With dangerous storm surges and sustained winds of over 150 miles per hour, Laura is the strongest storm to have hit the state since the mid-1800s. In Louisiana, a mandatory evacuation order was put into effect for more than 200,000 residents before Laura’s arrival. An additional 400,000 were ordered to evacuate in Texas. But the COVID-19 pandemic made evacuation more difficult. Some shelters turned away evacuees when they ran out of space. Others directed people to nearby hotel rooms, which also filled up quickly.

The strong winds were also responsible for widespread damage to power lines. Many of these lines were so badly damaged that they will need to be completely rebuilt. As of the weekend, 360,000 residents were still without electricity. In some hard-hit areas, it will probably take weeks to completely restore power to everyone. This is an especially dangerous situation because southwest Louisiana is also facing heat advisories, with temperatures of up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Many residents are using generators to power air conditioners, but this has caused additional problems. Carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of generators is thought to be responsible for at least half of the deaths so far.

Dig Deeper Laura is the fourth Category 4 hurricane to hit Louisiana. What were the other three?

Global Piracy Ring Brought Down

Movie scene clapboard image
Credit: Ron Chapple Stock/FotoSearch/Glow Images

Last week, U.S. officials arrested two men: one American and one from the United Kingdom. They are still searching for a third Norwegian man. All three are accused of being members of an international piracy ring that allowed popular movies and television shows to be distributed before their scheduled release date. They are charged with copyright infringement and conspiracy, and if found guilty, will likely spend several years in a federal prison.

According to authorities, these internet pirates stole movies and shows by purchasing them from wholesale distributors in the United States before their release date. They used software to get around copyright protections. They then distributed the movies and shows online. This cheated film production studios out of tens of millions of dollars.

So what has been the response to these arrests? Worldwide, international piracy servers are starting to shut down. But there are digital rights activists who think such legal punishments only help major corporations keep making millions of dollars in profits. These groups say that while copyright laws are important, film companies need to find a way to adapt to the realities of the Internet era.

What Do You Think? In your opinion, should people face stiff federal prison sentences for internet piracy? Why or why not?

The Washington Football Team

After decades of debate, the Washington Redskins football team has officially changed its name. It will now be known simply as the Washington Football Team until a decision about a permanent name can be reached.

A little history of the name: The Redskins originally began as the Braves in 1932. But Major League Baseball already had a team by the same name: the Boston Braves. Owner George Preston Marshall decided to change the name to the Redskins, to keep a similar theme while avoiding confusion. The name continued despite decades of Native American protests against it. A few legal challenges regarding the name even reached the Supreme Court. Owner Daniel Snyder, who purchased the team in 1999, insisted that he would never change the name. But in July of this year, FedEx (the major sponsor of the team’s football stadium) sent a letter to management. The business threatened to pull its financial support of the team unless the name was changed. Ten days later, Washington permanently retired the Redskins name and logo.

While some fans are disappointed by the change, Native American activists applaud it. Stephanie Fryberg—who is a psychologist at the University of Michigan—points out that research shows that using a racist slur as a mascot dehumanizes Native Americans and promotes prejudice against them. In addition, portraying a group of people as a mascot can lead to negative outcomes for members of that group, including depression and lower self-esteem. Now that the name and logo are history, activists insist that just as important is the name that will ultimately be chosen.

Dig Deeper What other professional sports teams have names that might be considered racist or offensive? Come up with a list of at least five, using Internet resources to help you if necessary. Now that Washington has changed its name, should these other teams change theirs as well? Why or why not? Please remember to be respectful with your answer.

Iran Agrees to Uphold UN Nuclear Agreement

In 2015, the United States (along with the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany) signed an agreement with Iran. The agreement limited Iran’s nuclear weapons development activities and required regular weapons inspections by international agencies. In return some economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted. But in 2018, President Trump pulled the United States out of that agreement, because he said it wasn’t strict enough against Iran.

Debates about Iran’s nuclear weapons program continue on the international stage. Two months ago, Iran refused to allow inspectors from the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) to tour two of its nuclear facilities. This immediately raised the international alarm that Iran might be pursuing illegal nuclear activities in violation of the 2015 agreement. The United Nations began to debate whether  more economic sanctions should be added against Iran. Last week, Iran allowed the inspectors to visit the two sites. According to the United Nations, Iranian authorities are fully cooperating, and the visits have already been scheduled. 

President Trump continues to insist that Iran’s reluctance to allow nuclear inspectors in June is evidence that Iran is not living up its end of the 2015 agreement. He wants other UN member nations to impose harsher economic sanctions. These other UN member nations have voiced frustration with this approach, and urge more compromise is needed in these international negotiations. Last week, the president of the UN Security Council stated that there is not enough support for Trump’s demands, and so the UN will not be adding any additional economic sanctions against Iran.

Dig Deeper To better understand the situation described in the article, use Internet resources to help you define what is meant by the term “economic sanctions.”