October Newsbytes #1

Newsbytes Masthead

By: Staff Writer Andrew Chen


Local: Statewide Ban on Plastic Bags

Governor Jerry Brown signed America’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags on September 30. The bill will phase out all plastic bags used at checkout counters in grocery and convenience stores. However, bags used for fruits, vegetables, or meats are exempt from the law, which will take effect in July 2015. “This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a signing statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”


National: First American Diagnosed with Ebola

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the first case of Ebola in the United States. The man infected took a commercial flight from Liberia that landed in Dallas on September 20. Luckily, he was not ill during the flight. Ebola can only spread by direct contact with infected bodily fluids, and since Ebola is not contagious until symptoms develop, there is “zero chance” that the patient infected others, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.


International: Protests for Democracy in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, tens of thousands of people have blocked parts of the city for days to participate in protests for a fair democratic election in 2017. Beijing ruled on Aug. 31 that all candidates for the Hong Kong government’s Chief Execute must be screened and approved by the Chinese government. The protest is called the “Umbrella Revolution” for the definitive umbrellas used by protesters to shield themselves from tear gas and pepper spray used by the police. Another symbol of the revolution is the color yellow, which was traditionally involved in suffrage movements worldwide, including the 1986 Philippine Revolution. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Secretary of State John Kerry would discuss the protests with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi later this week.


Quirky: Special Smartphone Lane for Slow Pedestrians

Smartphone users glued to their screens in Chongqing, China now have their own lane to avoid clogging up the pavement, which has been divided in two. Sporting the warning, “Cell phones – walk in this lane at your own risk,” the cell phone lane was inspired by a behavior experiment in Washington, D. C. in July. The growth in the numbers of smartphone-using pedestrians poses a real issue. According to a University of Washington study in 2012, one in three people are distracted by mobile devices at high risk road crossings. In Taiwan, fines have been proposed for using smartphones while crossing the street.

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