Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Mar 27, 2016 in Stuff You Should Know

Congressional Hearing on Flint

Earlier this year, btw brought you news of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. This month, the federal government held a Congressional hearing on the matter. The purpose of a Congressional hearing is for members of a committee to listen to testimony in an effort to solve a situation through legislation. There are different types of hearings, including confirmation (of presidential appointments), oversight (usually concerning the performance of government officials or programs), and investigative (examining wrongdoing). The hearing regarding the situation in Flint was investigative.

Among those who offered testimony were Michigan governor Rick Snyder and Gina McCarthy, a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Both admitted that they were aware of many complaints about the condition of the drinking water in Flint, but said they believed the problem was not that severe or assigned blame somewhere else. Snyder suggested that EPA employees were in regular contact about the dangerous leading levels and lack of anti-erosion measures taken. The Republican-led panel responded harshly to them, calling the situation, “the most glaring failure of government since Hurricane Katrina.”

Dig Deeper This issue has become one in the presidential campaign, with some calling for Snyder’s resignation. Note some of the specifics of how the various candidates have responded.

Syrian Refugee Update

Last year, btw brought you news about a deal between the European Union (EU) and Turkey. It formally took effect earlier this month. Up to 4,000 officials—translators, security, and migration officials—will be needed to enforce the conditions laid out in the deal. One of them includes a “one-for-one swap,” where for every Syrian refuge to arrive in Greece and be deemed “inadmissible” and sent back to Turkey, one will be officially resettled into the EU. Another is stricter border controls around Turkey.

Reactions to the deal have been mixed. One side is optimistic about the ability to create order out of the chaos that currently exists. Also, some feel the inclusion of Turkey into the EU (a possibility of the deal) makes the deal a productive one. Others fear an increase in human rights violations. They also believe that the restrictions will drive those desperate to reach Europe through dangerous routes, such as one between Italy and North Africa.

Dig Deeper The Italian Coast Guard is reportedly rescuing a record number of people attempting to cross through the Strait of Sicily. Find out what measures are being taken to deal with the continuing influx of refugees into Europe.

Cheetos, Oreos, or Sausage?

Close up of vending machine key pad. McGraw-Hill Education. MHE World.

Would you eat vending machine meat?. Credit: McGraw-Hill Education.

In a world where you can get nearly anything you want at any time, it was inevitable that one day that would include . . . meat? Two French butcher shop owners invested around $45,000 to install a machine that would sell vacuum-packed meat from a refrigerated machine (that accepts both cash and credit cards!). The idea came from the desire to cater to customers who pass by the shop after hours, working late-nights at the nearby office buildings or frequenting close-by bars on the weekends.

Parisians have already been able to purchase their signature baguettes via dispenser since 2011 and cheese since last year. Some of the items currently available are andouillette sausage, duck, ham, chicken, eggs, and pate’. The trend seems to be catching on among the younger generation, while older patrons still seem to prefer “in-person” visits to their local butcher. Others feel like this “trend” will take patrons away from the shops that they are intended to supplement. Other unusual vending machines cropping up around the world include a cupcake machine in Los Angeles, California; mashed potatoes in Singapore; and live lobsters in Japan.

What Do You Think? Would you get a meat product from a vending machine? Why or why not? Detail any conditions and expectations you might have on such a food experience.

Indiana Jones and the Dangerous Broken Hip

Disney Studios recently announced that it will make a fifth installment to the Indiana Jones films. Star Harrison Ford (64) and director Steven Spielberg have agreed to take on the task. The film is scheduled for release in the summer of 2019. The original, Raiders of the Lost Ark, released in 1981, was hugely popular in its time and maintained its status as one of Hollywood’s great modern adventure films. Together with its sequels—Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)—the franchise has earned nearly $2 billion dollars worldwide.

The announcement has many wondering if the reboot will learn a lesson from the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens blockbuster. Both series have devoted fan bases, with a history of questionably disappointing sequels–or in the case of Star Wars . . . prequels. But last summer’s galactic success of The Force Awakens has given many hope that the newest Indy film will get a similar boost (especially since the films now share the same production team of Lucasfilm).

What Do You Think? Have you seen any of the Indiana Jones movies? If so, which ones? What do you think of them? Do you think that the decision to make another is motivated more by nostalgia or money or something else altogether? Explain your answer.