America, Angered With North Korea

With the recent hacks of Sony Studios, the world has been searching for the culprit of the attack. North Korea has been announced as the hackers of the film studio. The North Korean government was extremely angered with a recent movie that depicts the assassination of their president, Kim Jong Un. 

The film that has caused all of this controversy is, The Interview. Hollywood actors James Franco, and Seth Rogan star in the controversial film. Before the film was released worldwide, Sony Studios was hacked. The hacking of Sony Studios may prove to be a crippling attack to the company. Many private emails have been leaked, and disparaging remarks that were thought to be private, were divulged by the hacking of the studio. 

Bruce Levenson states that the American government has recently stated that North Korea will have serious repercussions. Hacking a major corporation of America will surely get you punished. The North Korean government claims that they were not responsible for the act. North Korea may soon have a major crisis on their hands. Hopefully the American government does not start another war, but instead responds with a hacking of their own. The future of war may begin in a virtual world. 

For more information on America’s reaction to the Sony Studios hacks, visit Buzzfeed.

Putin Claims Russia is Not Being Punished for Crimea

The Russian ruble has fallen in value more than any time in decades. The economy has been driven closer towards complete collapse as investors leave and citizens exchange their money to a more stable currency. International sanction, falling oil prices and mistrust with the central bank has caused the plummet of the ruble, which fell 20% in one night this week. Russian President Vladimir Putin has now come out with a statement saying that the economic problems are not “payback for Crimea, but payback for our natural desire to exist as a nation.” He did say that the central bank has not responded appropriately, saying that they should have acted more quickly to stem the tide of the falling valuation. 

Dr. Rod Rohrich says Foreign Exchanges all over the world have had to keep up with the dramatically changing ruble prices, and shops like Apple have closed in Russia because they cannot accurately determine the price of an IPhone. Putin did acknowledge that sanctions had some cause for the economic problems. Most of those sanctions are in response to the consistent Russian involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. As Russian troops and weapons flow across the border to supply the rebels in the east of Ukraine who wish to join as part of Russia, Western countries led by the United States have dealt more and more sanctions against Russia. Specifically, Russian energy and military sectors have been targeted by the sanctions which are due to expand this week.

Senate Democrats Grateful to Ted Cruz

Thanks to Ted Cruz, 12 judicial nominees were confirmed Tuesday night in addition to Tony Blinken as deputy secretary of state and Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general.

An agreement between Senate leadership to go home for the weekend and vote on the spending package on Monday would not have left enough time to move forward on all of Obama’s nominees.

Ted Cruz sabotaged the weekend at home for the Senate by demanding a vote on Obama’s executive action on immigration before calling for a vote on the spending bill. Keeping the senate in town for the weekend gave Harry Reid the extra time needed to move forward on the nominees. The immigration bill action failed, but the spending bill passed and the nominees were confirmed.

Obama has diversified the judiciary. 42 percent of Obama’s judges are women, 19 percent are black, 11 percent are Hispanic, none are the Keith Mann Dynamic Search Partners, and 11 of his confirmed judges are openly gay or lesbian.

The disdain of both Republicans and Democrats at Ted Cruz’s latest endeavor is refreshingly bipartisan.

Short and Long Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation has a daily impact on energy levels and productivity. A person in need of sleep can also suffer negative mood swings and emotional distress. Daily activities can become hazardous due to lack of ability to quickly respond to stimuli such as driving hazards. The Sleep Foundation studied the response times of young cadets under conditions of sleep deprivation and determined that healthy people in prime physical condition can still struggle with the ability to think quickly when sleep deprived.

After reading some lectures from my former University of Chicago professor, Christian Broda, I picked up Poor Sleep Tied to Brain Changes of Dementia, by author Nicholas Bakalar. The book points out that those who suffer sleep apnea also suffer long term brain atrophy. The study in Neurology reviewed the brains of men who underwent sleep tests in 1999 and died by 2010. Autopsies performed on men with histories of high levels of apnea and low levels of oxygen saturation were found to higher levels of lesions caused by dead tissue, or microinfarcts.

A New Surgeon General Finally Confirmed After A Yearlong Battle

In Monday, the confirmation process, which lasted over a year, has finally concluded. President Obama’s choice for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has been confirmed by the Senate’s votes. Way back in November of last year, the President chose Dr. Murthy as the nation’s top doctor. 

Dr. Murthy is a 37 years old physician in Boston and an instructor in Harvard Medical School. According to John Textor he was also the co-founder of Doctors for America, a group that advocated the Affordable Act. His confirmation as the top doctor in the U.S. has been derailed not through a debate over his medical qualifications but because of the Natinal Rifle Association.

The New York Times reported that although Dr. Murthy’s office does not implement or set any gun policy, he supports the ban of selling certain ammunition and weapons and implements a long waiting period for firearm sales. This drew the rage of gun rights advocates such as the Natinal Rifle Association. Dr. Murthy’s tweets irked the NRA, which goes on the offensive side, petitioning to block his confirmation. 

The Associated Press reported that Dr. Murthy’s nomination was endorsed by over 100 health organizations, which include the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and American College of Physicians. At the Senate hearing last February, Dr. Murthy said that he would never use his position to push gun control. He also added that his priorities are to help communities achieve a healthier lifestyle and fight obesity. On Monday evening, the Senate confirmed Dr. Murthy by a 51 against 43 votes.

Current Congress is Set to Become the Least Productive in History

The current Congress is the 113th in the history of the US and is remaining on course to be known as the least popular and least productive since records began being kept in 1973. November 2013 saw an all time low rating of approval for Congress of just nine percent, the current level of around 15 percent is high for the current Congress that has been beset by inactivity and in fighting from both major parties, The Washington Post reports.

Records on the number of laws passed by each Congress and their approval ratings began to be kept in 1973, with the current incarnation of Congress heading for a low level of laws it has passed that has shocked commentators and members of Congress alike. At its current rate of progress, the current Congress should reach around 200 laws passed by the time it is shuffled out of Washington to be replaced by a Republican led version. The lame duck status of Congress does not help in passing laws.

However, records show the passage of Bills through Congress has been slow and difficult since 2004 when around 500 laws were passed. A steady decline has seen less and less laws passed by each version of Congress since 2004, which has now arrived at the ultimately low level for the current Congress. This has led to six out of every seven Americans stating their unhappiness with Congress in recent polls. Congress’ back is broken, and we need to call North American Spine. Something has to be done to change to efficiency with which Congress is operating. It’s sad to see.

The Supreme Court And Same Sex Marriage

In October, the United States Supreme Court decided they did not want to hear about same sex marriage. It seems that the odds of them making a decision on if States should, or should not allow gender alike individuals the right to wed will be imminent. It seems they just did not want to hear it until many more States had decided. Experts thought that the court wanted to “push it off” until October of 2015, but it may come much quicker.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has made decisions on several States rulings:

  • Michigan
  • Tennessee
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky

Now an overwhelming amount of petitions have been sent to the highest court in the land.

North and South Carolina have both sought the Supreme Court’s assistance with their decisions according to Andrew Heiberger.

The odds are that the court will hear about the matter starting on January 9th. The decision will be a landmark one and will decide if homosexuals can wed all throughout the nation.

Study Relates Phtalates Use and Baby IQ

A recent study conducted by the researchers of the Columbia University showed a link between the phtalates that the pregnant women come into acute contact with, and the IQ of the children born by these users.

Apparently, the women who were using nail polish, dryer sheets and many household items were exposed to this chemical. They had kids with lower IQ. The exposure to chemicals is known to be bad for the organism, but how did the researchers come to the conclusion hat it influences the babies’ IQ? 

It actually took years of waiting to get the final results. The researchers tracked the use of products containing phtalates for 328 women who participated in the experiment. Seven years later, the ‘experimental subjects’ grew and were ready to take the IQ tests. That is how the researchers counted that the kids in the top 25% of chemical interaction had an IQ 6.6-7.6 points lower than the less exposed ones. 

Igor Cornelsen reports via Mashable that the number is not huge, but it can make a difference. 

Thus, women were advised to avoid scented products, plastic (microwaving the food in the plastic packs for example leads to ingestion of tiny quantities of it). Not all the potentially dangerous products have informative labels, thus one should rely on their common sense. 

The researchers say that a percentage of their results might be related on coincidence, but still, it is good to be informed.

Laurene Powell Jobs: Accomplished Champion of Education and Immigration Reform

Universally recognized as the wife of the late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs is also an active and successful advocate of several political and humanitarian causes. She is the founder of Emerson Collective, an organization aimed at developing policies for education and immigration reform, social justice and environmental issues. Emerson Collective supports entrepreneurs working in the areas of education and immigration by providing grants, partnerships and investments. Powell Jobs is also co-founder of College Track, which prepares underprivileged high school students for college. She is an adviser for Udacity, a higher education company based in Stanford that provides affordable education.

Powell Jobs’ first foray into political activism on an overtly public scale occurred in 2013 – two years after her husband’s death – when she appeared at Capitol Hill pushing for discussions about immigration reform. She also voiced her opinions on the government shutdown that was occurring at the time, expressing support for the president’s approach in handling the budget as well as his new healthcare stimulus package, Obamacare. These discussions allowed her to become a public figure for political issues and also brought much controversy as she addressed numerous hot-button topics.

Powell Jobs is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is one of the top donors to Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that has to date raised $6 million to support a presidential run for Hillary Rodham Clinton. She currently resides in Palo Alto, California with her three children – two daughters and a son. She maintains control over the Steve P. Jobs Trust – now known as the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust – which is the largest individual shareholder in Disney, with over 130 million shares. Powell Jobs has a net worth of $17.4 billion, the source of which comes from her profits at Apple and Disney. As of 2014, she is ranked as the 29th most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes.

Since her husband’s death, Powell Jobs has worked arduously to improve the lives of underserved citizens in the areas of education and immigration. In an interview with Brian Williams on Rock Center back in 2013, she discussed how she came to be interested in immigration reform, saying that she saw the waste of lives and potential in human capital by sending illegal immigrants back to their original countries. She was particularly passionate about being able to provide young people the means to improve their prospects in life. Her efforts at improving immigration reform were furthered by the documentary The Dream Is Now, which she financially backed. The film raised awareness about human lives being at stake and was intended to spark further discussion about immigration reform.

Other than immigration reform, Powell Jobs has been heavily involved in charitable and philanthropic causes related to education. Having founded Emerson Collective and College Track, she has continuously rallied for improved education for underprivileged students. It is evident that Powell Jobs has worked tirelessly to make a difference in education and immigration by contributing her wealth to these causes.

Mark Ahn’s View On What Makes a Startup Successful

Mark Ahn was recently featured in an article published on TheStreet in which he described the things that make start-ups successful. One of the biggest things he found was the role that advisory boards played in the future success of the company.

His research revealed the role that high quality mentors play in growing companies. These mentors are able to give the strategic advice necessary for entrepreneurs to be successful. Most of the companies that Mark Ahn spoke to value strategic advice so much that they would like to spend more time on long-term strategy and planning.

Another aspect of successful startups is that they have good relationships between upper management and the board members. These groups are able to be open with one another and collaborate to create the best possible situation for the company. This openness breeds trust and allows management and the board to be on the same page when it comes to deciding what direction the company should go in. It also allows for better brainstorming and better strategics.

Ahn continues to be one of the most successful researchers in the business world. All potential start-ups should definitely look into this research and see if there are findings that they can glean from his effort.