November 16, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff Looms & Social Media Hugs

Peace peace this is Flocabulary with the Week in Rap.
Y’all know what time it is,
Special shout-out to Alden-Hebron School in Illinois!

Peace y’all it’s almost Thanksgiving,
Here’s a recap of the week in case you ain’t listen.
Monday was Veteran’s Day, so salute,
To anybody who’s ever served or been a troop.
But here’s something brand new - Malala Day,
Where people all over the world chose to say
That they stood by the side of the girl who was shot
In Pakistan standing up for girls who cannot
Get educated. But many still do,
With more foreign students in American schools (and colleges).
Maybe you heard about the Navy SEALs
Who got in trouble for what they’ve done lately
Apparently they said too many things
To the companies who are making the video games.
The labor heads say Obama isn’t gonna change,
When it comes to the fiscal cliff he will be staying

On the side of the middle class and he’s trying to tax
The people who make more so they can give back.
You may have heard about David Petraeus,
That’s who the former leader of the CIA is
He’s retired because of having an affair,
But apparently he wasn’t the only one there.
And overseas on the Gaza Strip,
All the fighting it won’t seem to quit.
Israel killed the Hamas military chief
Because of the rocket fire that had been hitting their streets.
Need one more thing to make your life complete?
Get the Like a Hug vest straight from MIT.
When you get a like on your Facebook page
The vest gives you a hug as it inflates.
It’s Flocab and I’m glad we’re on the same page,
We’ll be gone next week, until then you stay safe.

This week's winner of our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest was Alden-Hebron High School in Illinois. The challenge was to write four rhyming lines about the presidential election. Alden-Hebron's winning entry, as well as some awesome verses from runners-up, are in our blog. Want your school shouted out in the next Week in Rap? Check out our new challenge for the Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest.

Malala Day brought attention to education equality.

On Monday, we celebrated Veteran's Day, to give thanks to the men and women that serve our country. Saturday marked a new holiday, Malala Day, as people in Pakistan and around the world honored a fifteen year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai. Last month, the Taliban attempted to murder Malala, a Pakistani teenager and education activist, on her way to school. Malala survived the attack, and has become an international icon for education equality. The UN has declared November 10 as Malala Day, a global day of action in her honor. Is there anyone that you think also deserves a holiday? Learn more.

College campuses are getting more diverse every year.

While Malala and her supporters fight for the right to get an education, many students around the world are exercising that right by coming to the US to attend college. In a recent report by the Institute of International Education, more international students attended United States colleges than ever before. The Commerce Department has reported that an increase in international student enrollment contributes nearly $23 billion to the US economy each year. State officials believe that this money may help to keep college costs affordable. Lately, many state legislatures have been cutting funding for state university budgets. A decreased budget makes it harder for a university to provide certain student programs, like financial aid. Would your decision to attend a university be affected if one school was more internationally diverse than another? Learn more.

The military, especially Navy SEALs, are a popular subject for video games.

As video games get more realistic, many video game companies are turning to real life subjects for insight. Seven Navy SEALs served as military consultants to video game company EA for "Medal of Honor: Warfighter." The SEALs shared classified information, like combat tactics, with EA. The Pentagon is now reprimanding those SEALs for not getting permission from their command to work with EA. It is unclear as to whether the SEALs' actions jeopardized national security, but the Pentagon is taking a firm stance on the matter. This is not the first time a SEAL has shared confidential information. In September, former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette published "No Easy Day," his firsthand account of the raid that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden. Should SEALs and other members of Special Forces be able to share military information? Learn more.

It's up to Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The most important issue on lawmakers' minds in Washington is the looming "fiscal cliff." The fiscal cliff is a possibility of a drastic hit to the economy in January 2012 — cuts in government programs and an increase in taxes — if Democrats and Republicans are unable to agree upon a new federal budget. The possibility of a fiscal cliff serves as added pressure and motivation for the Democrats and Republicans to finally compromise on a budget they can both agree on. The two parties have long disagreed over taxes and federal spending. The Democrats are in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy and giving tax cuts to families earning $250,000 or less. Republicans are against raising taxes on the wealthy. The fiscal cliff can only be avoided if the Democrats and Republicans in Congress can come to an agreement by December 31, 2012. Do you think the two parties will be able to come to an agreement? Learn more.

General Petraeus resigned this week.

The director of the CIA, General David Petraeus, has resigned because of a scandal over an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. Petraeus was beloved by Republicans and Democrats alike, and was a four-star general in the army before working for the CIA. It seems that high-level figures at the intelligence agency are held to a higher moral standard than many elected officials. Do you think General Petraeus should have resigned? Learn more.

The Gaza Strip

An ongoing dispute in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Israel has resulted in the killing of Ahmed al-Jabari, Hamas's military commander. Hamas is the Palestinian organization that governs Gaza, but is considered a terrorist organization by Israel. Jabari was killed in an Israeli missile strike on Wednesday. Israeli officials say the missile strike was in response to rockets fired into southern Israel by Gaza-based militants. Hamas has said Israeli's attacks amounted to war, and have promised Israel a harsh response, leaving many people around the world concerned about the welfare of an increasingly unstable Middle East. Do you think Israel's military response was justified? Learn more.

Will in-person hugs be replaced by technology?

Need a hug? There's a vest for that. For those of us that might not get enough affection in real life, a group of MIT students has developed a vest that will give you a hug. Known as a "social media vest," the vest inflates when friends like your Facebook post, "thereby allowing us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support or love that we feel when we receive hugs," says Melissa Kit-Chow, one of the MIT developers. The vest also allows its wearer to hug the Facebook friend back. Would you wear the vest? Learn more.
What new holiday was celebrated this week?
Malala Day
What kind of students are increasingly attending American colleges?
Foreign students
What did some Navy SEALs get in trouble for?
Working with video game companies
What group does Obama plan to tax more?
The wealthy
Who resigned from the CIA?
General David Petraeus
Where was a Hamas military chief killed?
The Gaza Strip
What will cause a MIT-designed vest to "hug" you?
A Facebook "like"
OK, time for the BONUS Round...
To answer these questions, you'll need to read the infoboxes.
When is the deadline for Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff?
December 31, 2012
How much money does student enrollment contribute to the US economy each year?
Nearly $23 billion

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