The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


March Newsbytes #1

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By: Staff Writer Annie Tang



American Progressive Bag Alliance, a plastic bag manufacturing trade group, recently turned in a petition to call for a referendum on California’s plastic bag ban law. Governor Jerry Brown approved the bill to remove plastic bags from stores last fall, and had originally scheduled it to go into effect this July. Plastic bags would be banned from large, commercial stores in the summer, and would eventually expand to include convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. However, with this petition, the statewide plastic bag ban has been delayed until November 2016, when Californians will vote to either keep or reject this ban.



On Tuesday, February 24 President Barack Obama vetoed the Republican’s Keystone XL oil pipeline bill, which has been pending for six years. This bill had already passed the Senate in January, and was approved by the House earlier this month. The Senate announced that it would try to override this veto with a two-thirds vote by March 3. The Keystone XL bill proposes adding an extension to the already existing oil pipeline system in Canada and the US. Although the Republicans advocated this bill because it may create more jobs for Americans, President Obama decided to veto it due to the potential impact it may have on the environment.



Amnesty International proposed to remove one of the fundamental powers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the power to veto on events related to mass killing or genocide, as a response to how certain global events were handled during 2014. Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s security general, stated that the Security Council’s five permanent members used their veto power to “promote their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians.” According to him, this resulted in the Security Council “miserably failing” to protect civilians.



Although the cause of the “Black Death” has been commonly attributed to black rats, recent discoveries by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest the true culprit might actually be the gerbil population from Asia. Nils Christian Stenseth, the professor who wrote this study, decided to analyze the climate in Asia and Europe and its relation with the various outbreaks of the “Black Death” over the years. Resurgences of this epidemic occurred typically after Asia experienced a warm summer after a wet spring, the ideal climate for the gerbils from Asia, but not so much for the indicted rats. This theory that gerbils were the real cause of the “Black Death” will be verified once Stenseth and his team analyzes DNA samples for genetic variations across time.

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