January 18, 2013

Obama's Gun Plan & Conflict in Mali

What up Wilkins Junior High, holding down Justice, Illinois,
Shout out from the Flocabulary team
The new year just started, and the news never stops,
So I’mma get you caught up to what’s going on right now,
Y’all ready?

Another year, another week that we will bring to a close,
It’s the Week in Rap, ayo you know how it goes.
The US is focused on gun control,
Some say it’s necessary, and others say “no,”
So Obama and the White House are leading the charge,
And rolling out a proposal to change the laws
Could it be that video games are a link?
Between kids and violence? What do you think?
Should Call of Duty be kept from the young?
Does it make us numb to the barrel of a gun?
Go outside and ride a bike like Lance Armstrong,
But don't take steroids, that’s just plain wrong.
Lance used and was stripped of titles and endorsements,
And recently sat down with Oprah to admit it.
If you tune in to watch you may see a new campaign,
By Coca-Cola addressing obesity and weight,
Coke is tackling the issue head on,
Though many blame soda for the weight we’re putting on.
Florida may be known as the sunshine state,
But it seems that the state’s overrun by snakes,
Burmese pythons are popping up so much
That Floridians have been hunting them on all month.
Outside the US, the world is full of stress,
Islamists mad at Algeria supporting the French,
They attacked an oil field, took a few hostages,
France is running air strikes in Mali trying to stop the
Extremists occupying it from really taking hold,
America offered to help by sending drones.
On a parting note, the White House showed a sense of humor,
When asked to build a Death Star, they said they wouldn't do it,
A petition went around asking if we could have it,
But Obama does not support blowing up planets.

This week's winner of our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest is Wilkins Junior High in Justice, Illinois. The challenge was to find the weirdest, most amazing Wikipedia pages. The winner was this awesomely nerdy page about the buttered cat paradox. But we also liked learning about the Dancing Plague of 1518., raining animals., houses built only for spite., and an alarm clock that you have to chase out of bed.

Want your school shouted out in the next Week in Rap? Check out this week's Shout-Out Contest challenge. Enter the Shout Out Contest here!

President Obama signed executive orders to take action against gun violence on Wednesday.

Recalling those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary, Obama announced a new $500 million plan to combat gun violence. The proposal would require background checks on all gun purchases and ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons. Assault weapons are military-style guns that were illegal from 1994 to 2004, but they are now legal to buy. Republicans in some states responded that the Second Amendment should not be diminished and that these new measures would limit Americans' freedoms. Obama, in his emotional speech Wednesday, said the road ahead would be difficult and that, "the only way we can change is if the American people demand it." What do you think about Obama's proposed gun plan? Learn more.

Some say video games like Call of Duty glorify violence.

Video games and movies were barely mentioned in Obama's call for stronger gun laws. Many had thought that the Obama administration might target violent video games and movies for gloryifing killing and desensitizing young people to violent images. But the president only mentioned funding additional research with the goal of "investigating the relationship between video games, media images and violence." Meanwhile, a National Rifle Association vice president has called the entertainment industry "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence." Do you think there is a link between video game violence and the real thing? Learn more.

Lance Armstrong won medals and titles... with some help.

Lance Armstrong, one of the most celebrated athletes on the planet, has finally admitted what most have known for many months: To win, Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs, breaking the rules of the sport. Armstrong once boasted a Cinderella story. After fighting off a cancer that his doctors said he wouldn't survive, he went on to become the best cyclist the world has ever known. He won the most competitive bike race, the Tour de France, seven times in a row. But now he's been stripped of all those titles, as well as of his Olympic medal. After lying for years about his drug use, Armstrong finally came clean to Oprah this week. Why do you think Armstrong finally admitted to using banned drugs? Learn more.

Would smaller cans lessen our soda intake?

Do you drink soda? Over the past few decades, Americans have been drinking more and more soda. Americans have also been getting more and more overweight. Many experts place a big chunk of the blame for increased obesity on soda, which is high in calories and almost empty of nutritional value. For the first time, Coca-Cola is tackling the issue head-on. In a new series of ads, the company discusses measures it is taking to address obesity: Putting the calories on the front of each can and bottle, packaging soda in smaller cans, and increasing the number of diet soda options available. But critics say that it isn't enough, and that healthy individuals should limit soda in their diets to an occasional treat. Do you think it's smart of Coca-Cola to address obesity in its ads? Learn more.

A Burmese python

Need something to do this weekend? Come on down to Florida and go snake hunting! That's just what hundreds of visitors are doing right now as the Sunshine State launches a month-long snake hunt. They're targeting Burmese pythons, an invasive snake species that was introduced to the area in the 1980s. Since then, the population has been expanding rapidly. More than 100,000 of the reptiles now live in the swamps outside of Miami. The snakes can grow up to 18 feet long and have no natural predators. The largest Florida pythons have attacked and swallowed alligators and adult deer. Would you ever go python hunting? Learn more.

Extremists took hostages in an oil field like this one.

Things are getting violent in Algeria and northern Mali. In response to French airstrikes against Islamist extremists in northern Mali (see the next infobox), allied extremists launched an attack on an oil field in Algeria. They killed some and took others hostage, including some Americans. Algerian troops launched a counter attack, freeing some of the hostages. Details surrounding the event were cloudy. It is unclear how many hostages there are, how many have escaped or been freed and how many remain. Algerian troops reportedly have the oil field surrounded. Why do you think precise details aren't available for what is going on with this story? Learn more.

Armed Islamist fighters in Mali.

Mali is a former French colony in West Africa. The northern part of the country has fallen under control of Islamists. The term Islamist is different from the term Muslim. A Muslim is someone who follows the religion of Islam. An Islamist is a radical Muslim who believes in an extremely strict interpretation of their holy book. These Islamists have been controlling northern Mali, punishing criminals with public beatings, stonings and even amputation. These rebels recently struck south toward the capital of Mali, and the Malian army was disorganized and unprepared. To help the Malian government, France has launched a series of air strikes against the rebels and even sent ground troops. The US has said it will not send ground troops, but will help with intelligence and planning. What do you know about the history of colonial Africa? Learn more.

Sadly, the United States won't have one of these anytime soon.

In less serious news, the White House this week dashed the hopes of Darth Vader fans when it announced it would not build a "Death Star." Say what? This year the White House decided that it would officially respond to any petition on its website that got more than 25,000 signatures (the number has now gone up to 100,000). Most of the petitions address serious issues, but they don't have to. Anyone can add a petition. And some 34,000 people signed a petition which asked the US government to build a Death Star like the one in Star Wars, capable a blowing up planets. This week the White House gave its answer in a humorous response, including this: "The administration does not support blowing up planets." What petition might you add to the White House website? Learn more.
What type of guns would become illegal to buy under President Obama's proposed plan?
Assault weapons
What does President Obama want to do regarding violent video games and movies?
Study how they affect children
Who made a confession to Oprah this week?
Lance Armstrong. He confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs.
What company's ads are mentioning obesity?
What are people going to Florida to hunt?
Burmese pythons
What happened at an oil field in Algeria?
Extremists took people hostage.
What country has launched airstrikes in Mali to combat an extremist advance?
What did the White House say it will not build?
A Death Star
Bonus: What are three things Coca-Cola has done to help consumers drink less soda?
Made smaller bottles, put the number of calories on the front of the can, and create more diet options
Bonus: How long can Burmese pythons grow?
18 feet long

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