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The iPhone 5s: the Start of Widespread Genetic Tech?

By Mike Kanoff | Counterpoint | September 25th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

(Image credit: The Denver Post)

 

In case you missed it, the new iPhone went on sale recently. Normally this wouldn’t be even remotely newsworthy, but this iPhone is different: it comes with a fingerprint sensor.

The iPhone 5s (Apple’s latest offering) is able to read and store the fingerprint of the owner and if chosen, other people as well. I can’t possibly be the only one who smells something fishy here: hot on the heels of the Snowden leaks, the new must-have product just so happens to have this technology?

“But so what?” you say. It’s just a fingerprint, and those are taken all the time; for jobs, arrests, etc. so why does this even matter? Personally, I don’t think the actual data does, after all, I just said fingerprints are taken all the time, but this is huge for the “surveillance culture” we have creeping up on us: for the first time ever, there is the widespread use of a technology that uses a genetic marker to identify people on a regular basis. While I’ll admit that “fingerprints” and “genetic marker” generally aren’t lumped together as synonymous, “DNA” and “genetic marker” usually are, and that’s what this technology is paving the way for. That sounds far off into the future, but DNA-verification has been around for a while, it’s only a matter of time before it reaches the general public. What’s more, while it’s not generally accepted that specific genetic information can be reliably determined from a fingerprint, DNA-verification could pave the way for corporations to target ads with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth. Got a cold? (For those not familiar, the common cold– like any virus– can actually make slight alterations to genes) Your iPhone 151s could one day be offering you coupons for CVS before you know you’re sick.

Something to ponder as you go about your day.

Healthcare Q and A with President Shalala

By Hyan Freitas | News Director | September 23rd, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

WVUM News had the opportunity to participate in a student media Q and A with UM President Donna Shalala. She answered questions and provided insights on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.  President Shalala is the former Secretary for Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Afterwards, Meg, Jordan and Matt from ‘Counterpoint’ weighed in with their own thoughts.

‘Counterpoint’ airs Fridays at 1pm EST.

Obamacare Q and A with President Shalala by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

Counterpoint Recap 9/20: Obamacare or Shutdown

By Meg McGee | Counterpoint | September 23rd, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

This week the Counterpoint team debated the politics behind Obamacare and why Washington is constantly in a deadlock. It is apparent on both sides of the aisle that neither is budging. Is it worth it to sacrifice Obamacare in order for the government to keep running? What is the importance of social welfare programs? This discussion even had our two Democratic correspondents debating with each other. Listen to the audio and decide for yourself.

Later this week we will be airing UM President Donna Shalala’s discussion with student media on Obamacare.

Counterpoint 9/20 by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

Counterpoint Recap 09/13: Chartwells Walk-Out

By Meg McGee | Counterpoint | September 16th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

Last Friday’s show included audio from the Chartwells walk-out protest and Counterpoint’s Jordan Lewis, Mike Kanoff, and William Ng were able to witness. They heard the strikers grievances not just about their own jobs but the greater impact of UM in their community. Most notably, Miss Betty, a favorite at UM after Chartwells dismissed her over a simple misunderstanding was present as well as other community leaders. Miss Betty stressed how the Chartwells workers provide students with delicious meals but many employees cannot even feed their own families. This comment particularly struck me because I realize being able to attend a university is apart of the American dream but the reality is that many cannot afford this opportunity. Betty was grateful that one of her sons was able to attend UM but most people on minimum wage don’t have the means to do so. Our privilege at this university juxtaposed with the unfair wages that the worker whether from Chartwells or UNICO is a reflection of the deep income disparities our country.

So is this just a Chartwells problem or is it a UM problem? It’s both. We do business with Chartwells and expect them to have not just fair business practices but also fair treatment of their workers. UM should pressure Chartwells to do the right thing and increase wages, include healthcare, and cut long hours. Why? It is because UM has a reputation to uphold as well as a high price tag. That in turn, should buy students not just meals but provide decent wages for the workers.

Another one of commentators, Michael Fuentes, made the argument against increasing wages because minimum wage jobs are not meant to be permanent, and that people need to “move up the ladder” in terms of economic status. Some minimum wage workers might have that opportunity, while others do not have a choice. There is little room for economic mobility due to the deregulated financial markets that led up to the economic crisis in 2008. The debate should not be over minimum wages but rather over if a person s being paid fairly for the quality and quantity of work they’re doing. Betty urged UM students and faculty to speak out against the unfair treatment of Chartwells workers. We, the students, are the ones paying for this university, so let’s make a difference not just in UM but also in the community by supporting the Chartwells workers and their push to get a higher pay.

Counterpoint 09/13: Chartwells Strike and Obamacare by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

Interview: Miami Bridge

By Shelly Lynn | NFP | September 16th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services is a shelter for abandoned and abused children and teens ages 10-17, a majority of whom are runaways, homeless youth and victims of trafficking and exploitation. Because of this, the shelter works closely with the FBI and State Attorney’s Office to expand services and help rescue more victims of human trafficking.  Florida, ranks third for crime behind California and Texas. Miami Bridge offers education and essential skills, such as cooking, to the youth living on campus.

If you would like to volunteer or visit the shelter, go to http://www.miamibridge.org/

Miami Bridge accepts in-kind donations. You may donate your expertise and time, clothes or a small amount of money. Everything will be used in turn for the benefit of saving another life, taking a youth off the streets.

Miami Bridge: providing shelter and support for the homeless and neglected youth in South Florida by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

Opinion: A Fight For Us All-We Want More!

By Jordan Lewis | Counterpoint | September 15th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

This Thursday, workers at the Hecht-Stanford dining hall worked out of the job. It was an affirmative statement that they want higher wages, better benefits, and more respect in the workplace. They stood up for themselves and other working people, and for that we should be extremely grateful.

The walkout took place at about noon. I was there, waiting with fellow Counterpoint co-hosts, ready to observe the proceedings. The workers were jubilant, happy to defy the wills of their overbearing bosses, if just temporarily. The workers marched along Ponce De Leon Boulevard and generally were well received by passers-by and motorists. The students that came by were supportive of the effort, though most students were not immediately aware of the walkout or the circumstances that preceded it.

The plight of the Chartwell’s workers is a rallying point in the local community. The crowd at the rally was a diverse set of individuals, from local activists, to Democratic Party leaders, to students, and supporters of labor. Father Corbishley, the chaplain of the St. Bede’s Episcopal Church at UM, was quick to mention that the prophets in the Old and New Testament made eradicating poverty a priority. UNICCO workers who recently received a new contract joined in support of the Chartwell’s employees.

The battle for better wages is not isolated to Chartwell’s. One leader wore a shirt that urged for justice at Wal-Mart, another retailer that pays poverty wages. . The societal costs of low wages and mediocre health care coverage are significant. In one such example, a 300-employee Wal-Mart store could cost $1.75 million per year

in taxpayer subsidies. On a similar note, McDonald’s and Visa put together a budget for somebody making $1,105 a month at McDonald’s (and $955 at a second job, because everybody has the ability to work 2 jobs at the same time). They also budgeted no money for gas to heat homes, and $20 for health insurance (basically acknowledging that one can’t afford health insurance under this budget). The situation at Chartwell’s is not too different; workers are forced to choose between important priorities. They live in some of the worst neighborhoods in Miami—and many make less than the medium income in these neighborhoods. Chartwell’s recently raised the cost of a meal at the dining hall by $1.75 but did not pass on any of those proceeds to its workers, many of whom have been there for over 10 years.

As students, we come to learn important skills such as problem solving and critical analysis; we also should learn how to be proper citizens. A good citizen lifts others in need. The Chartwells workers took a chance to fight for the rights of working people. According to Miss Betty, victory belonged to the Chartwells workers on Thursday. A fair contract isn’t just a victory for Chartwells employees; it’s a victory for the community, for the students, and for millions of Americans who work towards their American Dream every day.

Click the hyperlink below to listen to our interview with Miss Betty
Miss Betty Interview

From Under the Bridge to Into Our Hard Drives: Patent Trolls

By Mike Kanoff | Counterpoint | September 13th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

(Image credit: iDownloadBlog)

 

You might be wondering “what on Earth is a patent troll?”, so I’ll tell you– “patent troll” is a label for any person/company/firm/etc. that makes a business of threatening to people for alleged patent infringement: almost homogeneously, these people buy patents from other companies/inventors with absolutely zero intention of using the patents for anything other than ammunition for litigation (not to be confused with the MPAA, the RIAA, or the copyright system in general). Rather than using patents in their intended manner– to ensure an inventor has time to complete his/her invention– the patent troll uses the temporary legal monopoly granted with a patent as a means to extort money from inventors who come up with new ideas/inventions or extensions on previous ideas/inventions that may at first glance seem similar to the patents which the patent trolls hold. It is estimated that any actual litigation that is brought by patent trolls and does not get settled before a court battle leads to the patent trolls losing over 75% of the time.

The patent trolls are not a new phenomenon, but they certainly have grown to prominence since the rise of big software. Software development is unique in that software’s “life” goes by considerably faster than most physical items and it is often the case that something becomes standardized in a fraction of the time of physical items. This creates the opportunity for mass patent trolling: if someone obtains a patent for a piece of software that has become a standard before the patent has expired, it is incredibly likely that someone somewhere has made an improvement on that standard, and since this improvement was not done by the patent holder, the patent troll has a prime opportunity to launch a legal missile. Another litigation-mongering opportunity occurs when a piece of closed-sourced software (not free for everyone to tinker with) resembling an open-sourced software (free for everyone to tinker with) that is not well known gets a patent, and since the open-sourced software wasn’t patented, the new patent owner can try to sue, even if the closed-source software was developed after the invention or even adoption as a standard.

These scenarios sound perfectly viable for patent trolls, but in reality, the “perfect patent troll situation” rarely occurs. Most often, the later example– of closed-source software patents being used to attack open-sourced software– is the case. Or not at all; sometimes the patent trolls simply choose someone who has just enough money to pay a settlement, but not enough to want to go to war with the patent trolls, which can get pretty costly, easily reaching the millions mark for a regular patent case. This is where the problem lies: the immoral patent trolls lose over 75% of the time, but simply by bringing a suit, they are almost guaranteed a settlement because the target often won’t be able to afford a lawsuit, even if they are innocent.

The solution? Make it so that it’s in the patent trolls best interest to be actually right about bringing a suit. Make it so that the plaintiff pays the fees if the case is found to be a pile of garbage. This would make it so that the average target of the patent trolls would be able to go to court and win ~75% of the time. This isn’t a fix in itself, but it’s a start. To be honest, I think the entire patent system is far outdated and needs to be updated from scratch to the modern world. Somewhere in that reform, I think the best way to stop wrong patent lawsuits is to place risk on the accuser as opposed to how it is now where the risk is all on the defendant. As a side note, it would be nice if there were no software patents, given the building-block nature of software itself, but I seriously doubt that a majority would go along with removing patents for software.

 

Save the Miami-Dade Public Libraries

By Shelly Lynn | NFP | September 10th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

Our Miami-Dade Public Library System is in grave danger. Mayor Gimenez has proposed a budget that will essentially diminish the library system to nothing. Tweet, email, or call the commissioners and mayor. Tell them: “Raise the millage rate to 0.2993 and fully fund the library system to #saveourlibraries”. The Board of County Commissioners Budget Meeting being held Tuesday, September 10th at 5:01 pm will be the only time to set the millage rate to fully fund the libraries! Click the link for contact information and more ways to help: http://tiny.tw/3bFj

A discussion on the sex trafficking industry

By Shelly Lynn | NFP | September 8th, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

Victoria Morales and Barbara Padron lead outreach teams in Hialeah, Biscayne Blvd and Miami Beach. This is part of Sharing One Love Outreach program. http://sharingonelove.org/  They’ve been conducting outreaches for the entire year and have repeatedly come across locations and information about the possible sex trafficking of local runaway children. They also connect with local groups, law enforcement and business owners to increase awareness and the identification and rescue of children that are at-risk of being commercially sexually exploited.

A typical outreach includes the following activities:

  • All first time volunteers receive street outreach training.
  • Volunteers form into small groups and identify local businesses to share information on Human Trafficking and the vulnerability of runaway children to being commercially sexually exploited.
  • Volunteers also handout flyers with red flags on on how employees can identify and report suspected human trafficking.
  • Groups also show pictures of missing children from the community to employees and record and report and possible sightings and relevant information.
  • Participants also complete surveys of areas that show signs of suspected commercial sexual activity. This data is used to identify areas that benefit or profit in facilitating human trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual abuse and exploitation.

A discussion on the sex trafficking industry by Wvumnews on Mixcloud

Interview: Indie Film Club Miami

By Shelly Lynn | NFP | September 1st, 2013 | LEAVE A COMMENT

Indie Film Club Miami is a non-profit organization that fosters the growth, skills and cohesiveness of the South Florida film industry, by working closely with filmmakers and digital media content creators. It hosts a variety of events including monthly screenings, as well as regular workshops, and networking events that bring together our diverse community. Diliana Alexander, Executive Director at Indie Film Club, spoke with us about the importance of independent cinema and transmedia. Shelly Lynn alongside Natasha Mijares and Diliana Alexander talk about the different facets of film and how crucial it is to our community, to encourage creativity and build upon it for a more expressive society.

Indie Film by Wvumnews on Mixcloud