By Sterling Alic, Junior
Hong Kong Booksellers Gone Missing
A Hong Kong bookseller and publisher, whose sudden and mysterious disappearance caused outrage both in Hong Kong and internationally, has turned up in the hands of Chinese authorities, who claim to be detaining him for an investigation about a 2003 hit-and-run drunk driving case. However, the international community, especially Hong Kong, suspect foul play. They believe that Chinese officials are holding him because of his publication of a scandalous magazine that criticizes the Chinese government.
There are still four other booksellers who are missing. Hundreds if not thousands have taken to the streets to demand answers about the disappearances. One 43 year old marcher said, “I don’t want to be the next one to disappear.” Many are apprehensive and believe that this could be a threat to the autonomy of Hong Kong in the future. This fear has reverberated throughout Hong Kong’s publishers, as many cancel the politically sensitive book that allegedly led to the disappearances.
However, this year’s Oscars isn’t without controversy. #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that arose last year can also be applied to this year’s nominations because this year’s list is nearly all-white as well, causing critics like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith to boycott the Oscars entirely. Critics like Lee and Smith point to the lack of acknowledgment for critically acclaimed movies like Straight Outta Compton and Creed, which did receive accolades, but the former for the writers (who were white) and the latter for supporting actor Sylvester Stallone (who is also white). The president of the Academy has ultimately decided on “taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our [The Academy’s] membership.”
Bitcoin Called A “Failed Experiment” As Value Plummets
Long-time developer and Bitcoin-enthusiast Mike Hearn has written a blog post on why he has lost faith in the digital currency, calling it a “failed experiment.” For those who are not familiar with Bitcoin, Bitcoin does not exist physically like paper money or regular coins. They are instead created on networks and traded through those networks across computers.
As this post makes waves across the Internet, Bitcoin’s value is plummeting, with the price falling below $400 for the first time this year hours after the post came out. In the blog post, Hearn offers a lengthy explanation on his take on the shortcomings of Bitcoin, but it seems to boil down to one thing: internal politics. There is a raging debate in the Bitcoin community over whether or not to adjust Bitcoin in order to support more transactions. Hearn himself offered supporters of this change to use Bitcoin XT, which implements this proposed adjustment to the technology, but the community has still been essentially split evenly on both sides.
Following this post, Hearn has moved on to work at Paypal.
A Degree from Harvard...For Free?
As the new year rolls in, several candidates begin their run for the Board of Overseers at Harvard, which helps set the strategy for the university. Among the issues discussed during their race for the position is the alleged discrimination of Asian American applicants, which some argue in a federal lawsuit accusing the university of bypassing better qualified Asian applicants in favor of other races/ethnicities and the children of the wealthy and famous. Another provocative question that some pose is whether or not the Ivy League University should be free, considering its large endowment, which is the largest among all universities.
Championing the phrase “Free Harvard. Fair Harvard,” supporters of a tuition-free Harvard argue that eliminating the factor of tuition could attract highly qualified lower income students to apply. However, on the other end, critics contend that Harvard already is generous in financial aid, awarding more than $1.4 billion dollars to undergraduates in the past decade. They further call the plan “unrealistic” because there are many restrictions on the funds of the endowment, as the people who contribute to the Harvard stipulate how they want their money to be spent. Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal comments that “There is a common misconception that endowments, including Harvard’s, can be accessed like bank accounts,” when in reality that is just not the case.
State of the Union 2016
In his final State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed how the nation has developed since his election in 2008, pointing to a resurgence in the economy and the nation’s overall improved standing in the world, while inequality at home and terrorism abroad loom in the distance. Click here to watch the 2016 State of the Union in full. And who will give the next State of the Union? With the primaries and election day only a few months away, we will find out soon enough.