Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

Big Changes for GE

Last Monday, General Electric (GE) announced that it will be replacing its CEO, Jeffrey R. Immelt. Immelt has been the CEO of General Electric for the past sixteen years. He was instrumental in successfully guiding the company through the global recession of 2008. Immelt also helped to encourage and lead GE’s transformation from a company that was largely service-based to one with a much wider reach. Today, roughly 90 percent of the company’s business comes from industrial businesses, such as transportation, oil and gas, renewable energy, aviation, and even health care.

However, in recent years, GE’s stock prices have been sagging. Traditionally, customers prefer companies with clear-cut and simple products to conglomerates like GE. In many ways, it is one of the last such companies of its kind. As CEO, Immelt hoped to unify all of the company’s various businesses by transforming GE into a top-10 software company by 2020. But investors agreed that it was time for a leadership change.

The incoming CEO, John Flannery, has been an executive at GE for many years. (He began as a risk evaluator for corporate loans in 1987.) Flannery is a finance expert. It is expected that he might look for ways to trim back the company by selling off some of its parts, in order to raise its stock prices. Flannery will take over as CEO on August 1 of this year, and will replace Immelt as chairman on January 1, 2018.

Dig Deeper Using internet resources, research the history of General Electric. What famous inventor founded the company? Write a short paragraph describing what you find.

Fifty Years of Loving

At one time not so long ago, many U.S. states banned interracial marriage, or marriage between two people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds. However, last week marked the fiftieth anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down laws banning interracial marriages in sixteen states, making it legal from people from different races or ethnic backgrounds to marry.

In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving received a marriage license in Washington, D.C. Then they returned home to their native Virginia, where their marriage was considered illegal: Richard was white, and Mildred’s heritage was both African American and Native American. One night just weeks after they married, police burst into their bedroom in the middle of the night to arrest them for breaking Virginia’s marriage laws. The Lovings were thrown in jail. Ten years later, their case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in their favor on June 12, 1967.

Today, one out of every six recent marriages is between people of different races (in 1967, this was true of only 3 percent of couples). Nevertheless, people in interracial relationships still experience discrimination. In 2013, for example, Cheerios faced harsh public criticism when it aired a commercial featuring a family with an African American husband, a white wife, and their biracial daughter. Furthermore, in 2016, the number of real-life hate crimes went up by 20 percent. All of this shows that, even 50 years after Loving, we still have a long way to go.

What Do You Think? Why do you think some people are against interracial marriages, even today? What would you say to try to change that person’s mind?

Gunman Opens Fire on Congressional Representatives

Last week, Republican members of the Congressional baseball team were holding practice at a field in Alexandria, Virginia–a suburb of Washington, D.C.–for their annual charity baseball game. During the practice, a gunman opened fire with a rifle. Four people were injured, including Steve Scalise, who is the majority whip of the House of Representatives.

The lone gunman was identified as James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old man from Belleview, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis. Hodgkinson opened fire from behind a chain-link fence near the third-base dugout. Representative Scalise, who was standing on second base, was shot in the hip. Witnesses said that after he was shot, he attempted to pull himself toward the dugout. When he couldn’t make it, he had no choice but to lie on the ground and wait out the shooting. Scalise later underwent surgery and is still recovering in the hospital. The other three who were injured are expected to recover as well. Hodgkinson, on the other hand, was killed by police during the shooting.

Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter who volunteered for Sanders’ campaign during the 2016 primaries. Since Trump’s election, Hodgkinson has travelled to Washington, DC, to protest the president, and he has also signed and posted a petition to impeach Trump on social media. Senator Sanders was quick to condemn the shooting, saying that violence is always unacceptable and that change is only possible through nonviolent protest.

The following day, another gunman shot five people–killing two and injuring three others–at a UPS in San Francisco, before killing himself. This attack, though not politically motivated, nevertheless underscores the increasing threat of gun violence in the United States today.

What Do You Think? Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was shot in 2011 and lived, had this to say about the attack on Republicans at the baseball field: “This shooting is an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy.” Do you agree or disagree with Giffords? Why?

Fossils of Ancient Humans Reveal New Theories

Last Wednesday, scientists in Morocco announced that they had found the oldest known human fossils. The fossils are about 300,000 years old (before this, the oldest known remains were only 195,000 years old).

The fossils reveal several important pieces of information. First, they prove that scientists were wrong in their earlier theories about where human life began. It was originally believed that Homo sapiens originated in a specific spot in Ethiopia or East Africa (what was previously referred to as the “cradle of civilization”), and then slowly migrated across the continent, only finding their way to other continents as recently as 70,000 years ago. The fossils found in Morocco prove that human life originated in several points across the African continent at the same time.

Secondly, the fossils show us that early Homo sapiens’ faces looked a lot more like present-day humans’ than scientists previously thought. Even though their faces were a little flatter and wider than ours, with smaller chins and heavier brows, they nevertheless looked much like we do today. And their brains were as big as ours are now, though instead of being round like ours, theirs were long and lower. It is thought that the brains of early Homo sapiens evolved slowly over time to become what we have today.

The Moroccan dig also revealed that these early humans built fires and used complex weapons, such as wood-handled spears and flint blades, in order to hunt.

Dig Deeper Use internet resources and your own knowledge to answer the following question: What two animals are modern-day humans’ closest relatives? Identify at least five similarities between human beings and our primate “cousins.”