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| November 23, 2014

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The Word Is...

Asteroid to Pass Earth

An asteroid will pass between Earth and its satellites on Feb. 15, coming as close as 17,000 miles from the planet’s surface. Scientists are calling the asteroid, or near-earth object, 2012 DA14.

It is roughly 45 meters long and will pass Earth at 7.8 kilometers per second, nearly eight times faster than a bullet from a high-speed rifle, according to Don Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

It will not be visible to the naked eye.  Star gazers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia will have the best chances of catching a glimpse of the asteroid, appearing in a telescope as a small point of light moving across the sky.

They say a collision with Earth is impossible.  Hypothetically, if it were to hit Earth, it would be like detonating 2.4 megatons of TNT.

The nearest comparable example of an asteroid’s destructive potential occurred in Siberia in 1908 when an asteroid entered the atmosphere and exploded.  It had an impact one thousand times more powerful than an atomic bomb and leveled trees over an area of 820 square miles.

 

Student Protest “Racist Rager” at Duke University

About 250 to 300 students gathered Wednesday, Feb. 6, on Duke’s campus to protest a party thrown by the Kappa Sigma fraternity called “Asia Prime.”

The party featured racist stereotypes of Asians and was promoted on social media sites such a Facebook and Twitter, as well as fliers with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s marionette version of Kim Jong-il from “Team America: World Police” and stereotype Asian spellings like “herro” and “peopre.”

The chapter has since been suspended by the national fraternity.

“The actions taken in association with the event in question are inconsistent with our values.  I personally condemn that type of behavior,” said Christian Nascimento, the fraternity’s “worthy grand master,” in a message sent to Kappa Sigma members nationwide.

According to Duke University’s The Chronicle, the protest was organized by the Asian American Alliance at Duke and lasted 20 minutes.  The rally concluded with Ting-Ting Zhou, president of the Asian Students Association, and Jacob Tobia, president of Blue Devils United, reading aloud a letter addressed to Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta.  It demands the establishment of a Group Bias Incident Task Force comprised of leaders of organizations representing historically marginalized groups to “adjudicate punitive measures” for future incidents of the same nature.

The letter also demands the fraternity participate in 10 volunteer hours of a community social justice project for a cause approved by the Center of Multicultural Affairs or else face immediate de-chartering.

“We believe that the administration must hold Kappa Sigma fraternity accountable for their actions,” the letter reads. “Through requiring Kappa Sigma to apologize through reparative action, Duke will set an important precedent that this behavior is unacceptable in the Duke community.”

 

French Ransom Payments Funded al-Qaida

Vicki Huddleston, the former U.S. ambassador to Mali, alleged France paid a $17 million ransom to free hostages taken from a French uranium mining site in Niger by Islamist militants.

French officials deny paying any ransom but Huddleston claims the ransom is what funded the terror groups’ current activity in Mali and has allowed them to expand their network.

Three of the hostages were freed in February 2011 but four remain captive by the terror group.  Huddleston said the payment was intended to free hostages kidnapped from the Niger town of Arlit, where they were working with Areva, a French nuclear company, in September 2010

“Although governments deny that they’re paying ransoms, everyone is pretty much aware that money has passed hands indirectly through different accounts and it ends up in the treasury, let us say, of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and allows them to buy weapons and recruit,” she told France’s iTele network.

 

House Approved Budget Fails to Meet Essential Needs of the Commonwealth

The Virginia House of Delegates voted 74-22 to pass a budget that fails to expand Medicaid and takes money from the General Fund to pave roads, on Thursday, Feb. 7.

House Democratic Leader David Toscano said this included a diversion of money from education, public safety, and health to transportation.

“We should not be paving our roads with textbooks,” said Toscano.

Delegate Mark Sickles, chair of the house democratic caucus, said the proposal is “short sighted” and is “the equivalent of using a teaspoon to empty the ocean.”

Delegate Patrick Hope added, “The House approved budget sets up roadblocks that cause a minimum 18month delay to Medicaid expansion.  The longer we delay the more it costs hospitals and clinics to treat the uninsured.  It’s fiscally irresponsible to leave $3 billion on the table and my hope is we can improve on this language to expand Medicaid in a more expedited fashion.”

 

Fired LAPD Officer Target of California Man-hunt

Fired police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner is on the run and possibly in hiding following the alleged murder of three people, one of which was a police officer.

The other two victims are Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence. Quan was the daughter of a former L.A. police captain who represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that lead to his being fired.

Dorner released a manifesto on Facebook that include plans to kill the families of those he felt wrong him, according to the Associated Press.

In the manifesto, Dorner promised to bring “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” to police officers and their families.  He called it a “last resort” to clear his name and seek revenge on a department he claims mistreated him.

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