By Sterling Alic, Senior
Protesters March Against Mexican President’s Proposal for Gay Marriage
After Mexican President Pena Nieto proposed to recognize same-sex marriage throughout the country, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest. The National Front for the Family, a conglomerate of religious and civil society groups organized the demonstrations, which took place in several cities across Mexico. The group claims that it has gathered more than 100,000 signatures against the President’s proposal.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in Mexico City and several states. Mexico’s Supreme Court also already ruled last year that confining marriage to a man and woman was unconstitutional. However, because many state legislatures have failed to change the laws within their regions, same-sex couples must file a legal challenge in order to get married.
Pena Nieto calls to change the conservative country’s constitution, which would legalize it nationally. This is an interesting political moment for Pena Nieto, as the proposal comes in the midst of a slowing economy, drug violence, and a widely criticized meeting with U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump. Victor Sánchez, a sociologist at Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, says, “This comes as the government is showing a certain sort of fragility in other areas... and they're taking advantage of the moment.” Pena Nieto asks Congress to debate and finally settle the issue.
Uber Everywhere...Driver Nowhere to Be Found?
When Uber arrived on the scene in 2008, it revolutionized transportation, slowly growing into a household name that it is today. Eight years later, it seems to be on the brink of another breakthrough: driverless cars.
On September 14th, Uber introduced a fleet of self-driving cars into Pittsburgh, turning the city of brotherly love into a laboratory for a four-wheeled experiment. Why Pittsburgh? The city is home to engineering talent found in Carnegie Mellon, which has a world-class robotics program that has produced many autonomous vehicles in the past. The mayor offered his support for the program, commenting, “You can either put up red tape or roll out the red carpet. If you want to be a 21st-century laboratory for technology, you put out the carpet.”
The test-run itself is simple. Uber selected a group of its most frequent users to participate in the experiment, allowing them to hail self-driving cars in areas of downtown Pittsburgh. The self-driving technology incorporates sensors and GPS, using pre-existing maps that tell it data like speed limits so that it can focus on another unpredictable variable: humans. The software works fine when humans follow the rules, but what happens if a car doesn’t wait their turn at a four-way stop? There are also social cues that go into play in driving that a self-driving car needs to be able to interact with if it’s driving on the road with other humans, so this is where this test will be able to provide valuable research.
Nonetheless, while this a step forward, don’t expect to see driverless cars anytime soon. This is more of a research test than a rollout. But who knows, maybe in the next few years, you’ll be surprised by who you see in a passing car--or who you don’t see in the driver’s seat.
Estimated 2.6 Billion People Around The World At-Risk for Zika
In February, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a global health emergency. Since then, Zika has caused epidemics in over 70 countries, including more recent cases in our very own backyard (there have been several reports in Wynwood and Miami Beach). The virus is thought to be linked to microcephaly (a condition in which a baby is born with a shrunken head). Now that “Zika” has become a buzzword that’s entered the minds of health officials and the front pages of newspapers across the world, scientists are literally set out to fight the future, as they attempt to predict the regions most vulnerable to the mosquito-borne disease.
Their assessments were conducted by examining the patterns of travel of people from infected regions to Asia and Africa, alongside data like mosquito populations. Through these studies, the scientists determined which regions were “at-risk,” with some of the most vulnerable countries including India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Nonetheless, there is still much research left to be done. More than two-thirds of people infected with Zika fail to get sick or show any symptoms. In addition to that, one of the more pressing concerns is finding out the accuracy of the “2.6 billion” figure. A community's’ risk is dependent on whether or not it has previously been hit with the virus and has had the chance to develop immunity, which is still largely unknown. So, as for this fight for the future? Only time will tell.
A Tale of Two EpiPens: Life-Saving Drug’s Price Skyrockets
Drug makers have spent $2.3 billion dollars lobbying last decade. Throw in the unabated growth of drug prices during the same time period despite the 15 bills passed designed to do the opposite, and you have the chemical concoction called Big Pharma, or the massive drug companies with ties to Congress stronger than the sleeping pills they’re trying to sell you.
The price of the life-saving allergy drug EpiPen has skyrocketed. The wholesale price of an EpiPen in 2007 was $47; nine years later, the price is sitting a little over $600, as (per a DEA recommendation) EpiPens are no longer sold individually but rather in pairs.
Hillary Clinton said the price hike was “outrageous,” and several Senators have weighed in on the issue, calling for an investigation into the price of EpiPen.
Mylan, the provider for EpiPen, has already in response offered savings cards to people whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost (lowering the price to about $300); they have also made an announcement that they will front some of customers’ out-of-pocket costs. Although, with the 90,000 signatures for a petition asking Congress for an investigation (over 40,000 coming from last week alone), keep your eyes peeled and your pockets open because this certainly won’t be the last time you’ll hear about Mylan in the news.
“And what Is Aleppo?” many ask. Here’s the answer.
Gary Johnson’s flub during an interview in which he questioned city has many people asking the same question. So what is Aleppo? The war torn Syrian city is at the heart of conflict in Syria.