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Sam Stevenson

Cancun Violence

Spring Break Threatened as Cancun Suffers Spike in Violent Crime

14 people were murdered in 36 hours in Mexico’s favorite party hotspot for young American spring breakers, Cancun, according to Noticaribe.

This is the highest number of homicides ever recorded in the country’s history within such a short period.

The figures surpass Cancun’s previous ‘record’ of nine killings in a day on November 25, 2004.

Cancun has recently become overrun with drug gangs, as violence in the tourist party town reaches unprecedented levels.

Mexico’s drug war has arrived on its idyllic beaches, with a growing crime wave threatening to leave the popular resort of Cancun a ghost town.

According to the Sun newspaper, more than 100 people have now been slaughtered in Cancun since the beginning of 2018, as Mexico’s cartels continue to spread fear throughout the country.

Most of the murders have remained unsolved.

Amid a thriving drug trade and widespread extortion, fear is rampant and threatens to have a knock-on effect on the country’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

Following increased violence in the popular party destination, the US have issued a ‘level 2’ advisory, which urges people to ‘exercise increased caution.’

SBS’s Dateline journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy went out to Mexico to investigate the violence that is plaguing the nation.

“This is one of the most beautiful views in the world and we are the only people here,” Guru-Murthy said from Acapulco’s main beach.

Within hours, just before sunset, he found himself in the center of a serious crime scene—a man had been gunned down in the sand.

Guru-Murthy said he was shocked by the lack of police in some areas, with tourists unwittingly within yards of graphic crime scenes.

“It’s possible if the police don’t want anyone to notice. There’s minimum fuss and hardly any officers here,” he said.

He added: “We’ve been told that local politicians here have put the press under pressure not to report violence in this area, because if the tourists are scared away from here, it will be an economic disaster not only for Cancun, but for Mexico.”

Further reading: Man Arrested on Suspicion of SXSW Bomb Threat

Texas Bomber

Texas Bomber Kills Himself in Austin Suburb

A serial bomber had terrorized residents in Austin, Texas, for nearly three weeks. The city was paralyzed with fear; no one knew when or where the next attack would occur.

The whole situation put everyone on edge.

But now, it appears the deadly scourge of bombings has come to a close.

Early Wednesday morning, a SWAT team closed in on the suspected bomber whose lethal explosives had wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent Texans.

The bomber, Mark Anthony Conditt, an unemployed college dropout who bought bomb-making materials at Home Depot, used one of his own makeshift devices to blow himself up.

But police warned he could have planted more bombs before his death, and the cautioned the city to stay on guard.

Police tracked down the 23-year-old using store surveillance video, cell phone signals and witness accounts of a customer shipping packages in a disguise comprising a blond wig and gloves.

The suspect was eventually located at a hotel suburb north of Austin.

The serial bomber, whose motives are still unclear, had been at large for almost a month until a major breakthrough in the case this week cracked the investigation wide open.

‘Fortunately, we were able to do some digging and find this individual over the last 48 hours,’ Fred Milanowski, a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told the Austin American-Statesman Wednesday.

The wave of bombings began March 2, when Anthony Stephen House, a 39-year-old father and athlete, was killed by a package bomb left on his front porch.

The second and third bombings occurred ten days later, on March 12, killing 17-year-old cellist Draylen Mason and critically injuring two women, including Mason’s mother. The bombs had also been placed on the victims’ doorsteps.

The fourth bomb was triggered by a tripwire strung across a sidewalk.

A fifth parcel bomb detonated early Tuesday morning at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio.

Rep. Michael McCaul said Conditt’s ‘fatal mistake’ was walking into a FedEx store to mail a package because that allowed authorities to obtain the surveillance video that led to his apprehension.

Investigators are analysing Conditt’s internet history to discover how he learned to make bombs.

His two roommates were detained for questioning. One was later released.

For now, Texas can breathe a ‘cautious’ sigh of relief.

Further reading: Man Arrested on Suspicion of SXSW Bomb Threat 

Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook: All You Need to Know

Tech giant Facebook and data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica are embroiled in a dispute over the harvesting and misappropriation of personal data.

The controversy centers on whether data was used to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

As a result, bipartisan consensus is calling on Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress about Cambridge Analytica’s use of data.

It’s a sensational story—involving allegations of sleaze, psychological manipulation and data misuse—that has provoked international outrage.

 But what is Cambridge Analytica? And why should its involvement with Facebook concern us?

College News investigates.

What is Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica, a data mining, brokerage and analysis company, uses data analysis and behavioral science with strategic communication to connect its clients with their audiences.

It has been credited with helping Donald Trump to victory.

On its website, CA describes itself as: ‘the global leader in data-driven campaigning with over 25 years of experience, supporting more than 100 campaigns in five continents.

‘Our team of PHD data scientists, expert researchers, and seasoned political operatives have produced decisive results for campaigns and initiatives throughout the world.’

Its most notable work involves the 2016 US presidential election campaign, and the Leave.EU campaign for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

CA’s involvement in both campaigns has been highly controversial and is the subject of on-going criminal investigations in both countries.

The company is partly owned by the family of Robert Mercer, an American hedge-fund manager who supports many politically conservative causes.

It maintains offices in London, New York City and Washington, D.C.

A series of undercover investigative videos, released in March 2018, showed Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix bragging about using prostitutes, bribery and ‘honey traps’ to discredit politicians whom it conducts opposition research on.

Mr Nix has since claimed the videos grossly misrepresent him and he was ‘deliberately trapped.’

What is Facebook’s role?

A quiz in 2014 invited Facebook users to find out their personality types.

The quiz, which took the form of a Facebook app, was deigned and developed by Dr Aleksandr Kogan, from the University of Cambridge.

Dr Kogan, who claims he is being painted as an academic ‘scapegoat’, said he developed the ‘research app’ because he wanted the data to model human behavior through social media.

The app, called ‘This is Your Digital Life’, collected data from around 270,000 users.

As was common with Facebook apps and games at the time, it was designed to harvest not only the data of the person using it, but also their friends’ data.

Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie said, as a result, the data of about 50 million people was harvested for the analysis firm.

Both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica deny any wrongdoing.

And Facebook has since clamped down on the amount data developers can scrape in this way.

What investigations are under way?

A number of US senators, both Republican and Democrat, have called on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress on how Facebook will protect users.

‘Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify under oath in public before the Judiciary Committee. He owes it to the American people who ought to be deeply disappointed by the conflicting and disparate explanations that have been offered,’ Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, told reporters Monday evening.

So far Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has not revealed what he intends to do.

Two other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Neely Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, sent a letter on Monday to Grassley requesting a wider hearing with tech CEOs from Twitter, Facebook and Google.

The demand for greater transparency from Facebook spans multiple committees from across both chambers.

Late Monday, the chairman of the Senate Committee, John Thune, R-South Dakota, sent a letter to Zuckerberg demanding answers by March 29 about the type of user data Cambridge Analytica was able to gain access to.

The UK and European Parliament are also launching their own investigations.

How do I protect my Facebook account?

To protect your Facebook account, implement the following steps:

  • Log in to Facebook and visit the App setting page
  • Click edit button under Apps, Websites and Plugins
  • Disable platform

This will mean you won’t be able to use third-party sites on Facebook. But if that is a step too far, you can limit the personal information apps can access by:

  • Logging into Facebook’s App setting page;
  • Unclicking every category you don’t want the App to access—which includes, bio, family, religious views, posts on your timeline, activities and interests.

Other advice:

  • Never click a ‘like’ button on a product service page;
  • If you want to play games and quizzes, don’t log in through Facebook; go directly to the site.
Questions to ask at the end of an Interview

Five Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

Asking questions at the end of an interview is just as important as answering them. Get your questions right and you’ll reinforce your suitability as a candidate, while discovering if you’re a good fit. Don’t ask questions and you’ll come across as disinterested and unprepared.

Everyone knows a job interview is a two-way process. Of course, the employer wants to know about you. But it’s also an opportunity to find out if the role is right for you. For this reason, it is vital to ask intelligent questions—based on research—when prompted to do so at the end of the interview.

This doesn’t mean asking things like: “What’s it like to work here?” “Do you like working here?” or “What do you usually do for lunch?” These questions are too simplistic and obvious; you want to seem sharper than that. Besides, you can save these questions for if/when you start the new role.

Read on for five questions guaranteed to make you stand out as a candidate.

  1. How will my development/performance in this role be measured?

This is, by far, the best question to ask at the end of an interview. Variations include: “What will you do to measure my progress?” or “How will my success be measured, here?

The reason this is such an important question to ask is because it shows you are really thinking about the role, and what sort of impact you might make in it.

It also demonstrates to the employer you have seriously thought about what you will bring to the table. And it shows you are keen to do well.

  1. What are your expectations of someone in the first three months of this role?

Use this question to gain credible insight into if you think you have what it takes to do the role. There’s no point putting yourself through a gruelling recruitment and application process for a job you don’t think you’ll be capable of doing.

This question also shows you are looking to the future and considering the long-term impact of your presence at the company. Employers will see this as an indication of your reliability and work ethic.

  1. Ask an industry-relevant question.

Do your research and find something out that has recently affected the industry you are applying to get into, and ask a question about it. For example, a political event—such as Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium imports—may lead to changes in the industry. Use this opportunity to ask your interview what they think.

Ask about what changes/challenges the industry is facing, in light of modern trends. This shows you are abreast of what’s going on and makes you look switched on.

  1. How can I impress in my first three months here?

You could also ask: ‘What are the key attributes someone in this role needs?

Asking this question at the end of an interview highlights your commitment to the role and desire to succeed in it. It shows you’re thinking about what’s best for you and for the company. It also highlights you are a team player who wants to positively impact the business.

The answer, here, is just as important as the question; take some notes on what the interviewer says to show you are genuinely engaged.

  1. What are the next steps? (If this hasn’t already been made clear.)

Don’t forget, this is also a chance for you to gain some practical information about what you need to do next in the recruitment process.

There may be several stages in the process; use this time to find out more.

General advice  

Depending on the type of job you are going for, this will vary. But here are some general pointers.

  • Be humble. No one likes a boaster—interviewers and potential employers are no exception. Try to strike the delicate balance between humility and hubris. You want to be confident and enthusiastic, not a show-off or smart aleck.
  • Don’t use hyperbole. Try to not exaggerate your claims, as this will make you look amateurish. Avoid saying things like: ‘I have the best CV of all my classmates,’ or ‘My work is always of the utmost quality.’ Not only is this unlikely to be true—the last thing you want is for your interviewer to think you’re lying—but it also makes you look big headed.
  • Don’t ask too many questions at the end of interview. The interviewer doesn’t want to feel as though they are being interviewed.
  • Take notes. If you take a notebook into the interview with you, use it to note down important points the interviewer mentions about the role. It is especially pertinent to make notes while your interviewer is answering your questions. This is because it shows you are engaged with what he/she is telling you—and you’re not just asking questions for show.
  • Go with some ideas. Show the employer you have something fresh to bring to the company.

Further reading: Avoid These Interview Mistakes


Walmart File Patent for Robot Bees

Robot bees used to be the stuff of science fiction—but not any more.

No, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror, US retail giant Walmart has filed for a patent for autonomous robotic bees.

Walmart’s patent was filed on March 8 with the US Patent Office, awaiting approval.

Technically called pollination drones, the robots could potentially pollinate crops like real bees by carrying pollen from one plant to another, using sensors and cameras to detect the locations of the crops.

The drones would also be fitted with ‘sticky bristles’, enabling them to draw out the pollen and retain it until they fly to another flower.

A secondary drone would be programmed to follow along ensuring the pollen had been properly distributed.

This would provide an ingenious solution to the worrying decline in bees and other insects, which fertilize the crops that make much of the food Walmart sells.

It makes sense for the retailer to protect its interests in this way—especially considering its recent push to invest in its supply change because of increased competition from online retailer Amazon.

In an apparent effort to branch into agriculture, Walmart’s robot bee patent appears alongside five other patents for farming drones.

The other patents include a drone that would identify pests and another that would monitor crop health.

But Walmart is not the first organisation to create a robot bee.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have already created drones that act like bees.

These ‘Robobees’, as they call them, are about half the size of a paper clip and weigh less than one-tenth of a gram.

They use artificial muscles to fly, and some can swim underwater and perch on surfaces thanks to static electricity.

In 2017, a team at Japan’s Institute of Industrial Science and Technology demonstrated a 1.5-inch drone that was used to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies.

But these models proved too expensive and inefficient to suitably tackle the concern of the declining bee population.

Perhaps Walmart has the solution.

Trump's America

Trump’s America: The Story So Far

His presidency has been without doubt one of the most bizarre and erratic in America’s 241-year history—whether you love or loathe him, Trump is here to stay.

Donald J Trump, self-styled ‘stable genius’ and billionaire businessman, hardly sleeps, loves cable TV’s Fox & Friends, lives in perpetual campaign mode, dines on the finest American fast-food and uses Twitter as the strangest form of diplomacy. He also thrives on controversy, relentlessly seeking out his next target—be it the ‘fake news’ media or his Democratic foes.

College News takes a look at Trump’s America, his administration so far and the legacy it’s likely to leave.

A nation divided?

For his supporters, president Trump is the best thing to happen to the USA for years. He is the standard-bearer of American business, he stands up for the nation and champions the “America first” mantra. Indeed, support from his loyal base is staunch; thousands turn up to his rallies, worshipping their idol with pseudo-religious enthusiasm.

But millions of Americans regard Trump with dismay. For them, he is a divisive figurean egotist who stokes tensions over race, the media and the environment. His approval ratings are low—they linger at around 40 percent, according to Gallupyet if Trump has taught us anything, it’s that he repeatedly defies the pollsters and disproves the naysayers.

In an administration plagued by allegations of Russian collusion, accusations of racism and serial sacking of senior staff, Trump seems invincible. What’s more, the divisions he instils serve only to make him more defiant and eager to remain in power.

The predictability of Trump’s unpredictability

One thing is certain. The most predictable thing about Trump is his unpredictability—making it nigh on impossible for political commentators to foresee his next move. From his inauguration to his state of the nation address, Trump’s tone has fluctuated. He now seems more conciliatory, offering something of an olive branch to the Democrats, though this could change at any time, as appeasement certainly isn’t his style.

What we will see of the president over the next years is anyone’s guess. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the show—because that’s what Trump does best: he entertains. (Though some may question the sustainability of an entertainer at the political helm of the free world.)

A businessman in the White House

Trump is not a politician. Rather, he is a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to get the job done. As such, his cutthroat approach to business has permeated the White House, with the hiring and firing of senior staff as commonplace as his scolding of the mainstream media.

Perhaps this is what the American political system needs: someone who takes no prisoners to push an agenda through. Trump has signed 33 percent more executive orders than Obama in his first year. Which is awkward, given he criticised Obama on at least six occasions for making them. In January 2016, he said: “We have a president who can’t get things done so he keeps signing executive orders all over the place.” Nonetheless, you can’t deny Trump’s got guts; and this appeals to his unswerving devotees. They love the fact that, finally, someone is strong for America, asserting the country’s place on the capricious world stage.

The ‘Trump Bump’

Much has been made of the so-called Trump Bumpthe positive the effect the president has supposedly had on the U.S. economy since his election in 2016. However, the real question is how much of this positive sentiment can be rightly attributed to the policy plans of the new administration?

Since Trump’s election, the S&P 500 is up 20.4 percent. Only George H.W. Bush (23.7 percent), Lyndon Johnson (22.4 percent), John F Kennedy (24 percent) and Franklin D Roosevelt (23.8 percent) have beaten Trump. Yet, we must be careful not to take this arbitrary yardstick as gospel. Indeed, there are warning signs markets may be in imminent decline. The alleged ‘Trump Bump’, it seems, may well be short lived.


The successor of Obama, America’s first ever black commander-in-chief, has proved to be one of the most contentious figures in U.S. history and, more often than not, race is at the center of the controversy.

From his refusal to condemn white supremacists after a march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a civil rights activist was killed, to which he said: “I think there is blame on both sides”, to the condemnation of American football players who “take the knee” during the national anthem to make a statement against racial injustice, Trump has done little to heal America’s endemic during social malaise around race.

The majority of Americans (60 percent) say Trump’s election has led to worse race relations in the U.S., while just eight percent say it has led to better relations, according to a national survey by Pew Research Center.

If African American turnout at the next general election is high, the Republicans could pay the price.


Trump’s first year in office has been dogged by charges of collusion between his election campaign and Russia. The steady drip of revelations may hit fever pitch in 2018, with Robert Mueller’s appointment last May threatening to bring matters to a climax.

Should Mueller accuse Trump of collusion, there will be calls for impeachment, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are unlikely to heed them. Meanwhile the world waits for Trump to utter anything vaguely critical about Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s legacy

While most people have vehement feelings about Trump, a few inevitably haven’t made up their minds, preferring to let the results of his administration speak for themselves. Regardless of your opinion, Trump will go down in history as one of the most colourful, yet deeply notorious, presidents of all time. He is the product of an era of political populism and has ridden the wave spectacularly well.

Trump—a deft maneuverer—may not be a bona fide politician, but he has read and played America’s political pulse with enviable skill. For this, he will always be remembered.

Further reading: Donald Trump’s First Days as President

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Dies Aged 76

Stephen Hawking, the visionary physicist, has died aged 76.

His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming his death at his Cambridge home in England.

The statement was released by his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim.

It said: ‘We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

‘He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.

‘His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

‘He once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”

‘We will miss him forever.’

The family are asking for privacy at this difficult time but added their thanks to ‘everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side and supported him—throughout his life.’

Hawking was a pioneer of science who inspired generations of young scientists.

After he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neuron disease at age 22 in 1964, Hawking was given just a few years to live.

But the determined young man defied his debilitating illness to far outlive those doctors’ gloomy predictions.

Known for his work on black holes, Hawking contributed to the academic community for years.

He brought his unparalleled expertise and unique insight to offer solutions to some of the world’s most complex scientific conundrums.

His extraordinary life and work inspired the 2014 film The Theory of Everything for which Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of the English professor.

In a display of his humoristic spirit, Hawking performed cameos in the US sitcom The Big Bang Theory as well as The Simpsons.

But in between those acting stints, his incredible mind continued to tackle everything from the universe’s origins, the possibility of time travel and the enigma of the solar system’s black holes.

Chicago Bears

Allen Robinson Set to Join Chicago Bears

Robinson: one of the most desirable receivers on the market; Chicago: one of the most receiver-needy teams.

 The Chicago Bears are reportedly expected to land Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson when the free agency opens to coincide with the new league’s kick-off on Wednesday.

Robinson intends to sign with Chicago Bears on Wednesday when free agency opens, barring any last minute snags, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Bears fans expect the three-year $42 million deal to help to solve their prior receiver deficit.

Robinson, who the Jaguars drafted in 2014, has 202 catches for 2,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games.

Returning after a torn ACL injury, sustained in week one of the 2017 season, the 24-year-old’s most explosive season to date was 2015, when he caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

He saw the same number of targets (151) the next year, but saw his overall numbers decline (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns).

Robinson made just one catch in 2017 before suffering his torn ACL.

Speaking on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio on Monday, Robinson singled out the Chicago Bears as a potential fit.

He said: ‘For me, it’s a lot of teams out there who not only have interest in me, but who I have interest in.

‘It comes down to some other variables as far as kind of narrowing that down.

‘But from what I’ve heard about Chicago, it’s an amazing city and football town.’

The Bears, who haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014, struggled to replace former cornerstone Alshon Jeffery following his departure in free agency.

Their troubles in the passing game were compounded further by leading receiver Cameron Meredith’s 2016 ACL injury before the start of the season.

Kendall Wright led the team’s receiving game last season, with just 614 yards on 59 catches, and no other player could beat Tarik Cohen’s 353 receiving yards.

The Chicago Bears are hoping for a turnaround in their fortunes with Robinson, who now steps in as their immediate number one choice.

Further reading: NBA Star Derrick Rose to Sign with Timberwolves

School Shootings

When Will Horrific Scourge of School Shootings in America End?

We’re hardly two full months into 2018 and there have already been 18 school shootings—that’s roughly double the amount of the same time last year.

College News asks: when, if ever, will the horrific scourge of school shootings in America end?

Yesterday’s traumatic images from Parkland, Florida, are igniting once more the divisive debate of U.S. gun control.

Since 2013, there have been almost 300 school shootings in America—an average of about one a week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy organisation.

While these figures may be shocking, the right to bear arms is enshrined in the American constitution.

For many Americans, tightening up on gun laws won’t change anything.

They’d ask: what would stricter gun laws do to stop mentally unwell people from committing heinous acts?

In fact, a recent study, published in the Harvard  of Law & Public Policy, concluded nations with strict gun laws had higher murder rates than those who did not in general.

“For instance, Denmark has roughly half the gun ownership rate of Norway, but a 50 percent higher murder rate, while Russia has only one‐ninth Norway’s gun ownership rate but a murder rate 2500 percent higher.

“There is not insubstantial evidence that in the United States widespread gun availability has helped reduce murder and other violent crime rates,” the study said.

Still, this doesn’t hide the fact gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and injuries annually; or that several of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history have taken place in schools.

In 2007, 32 victims were killed at Virginia Tech. The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre left 26 dead.

Wednesday’s mass shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas is the deadliest since Sandy Hook.

Michael Irwin, a parent whose son attended the school, told the Guardian newspaper: “All the regulation in the world wouldn’t have prevented necessarily what happened today. It’s something that’s tragic, but what regulation can you pass that takes away the guns already out there?”

John Crescitelli, a family doctor and parent whose 15-year-old child was caught up in the shooting, said: “These school shootings have to stop. This is crazy. My son’s football coach died. It’s horrible. It’s like Columbine across the street from my house.”

 Sarah Tofte, director of research and implementation at Everytown, told CNBC: “We really do deserve to live in a place where children are free from gun violence in their homes, schools and communities.”

She added: “When you look at all the ways children are impacted by gun violence, you realize what a tremendous problem we have as a country.”

President Trump is a strong advocate of every American’s right to bear arms.

So where does this leave the nation? Will these school shootings ever stop?

Share your views with us.

Further reading: Do Millennials Trust Trump with Gun Control?