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The Midterms Explained: Everything You Need to Know

The Midterms Explained: Everything You Need to Know

On Tuesday November 6, voters will receive their first chance to weigh in on Donald Trump’s presidency since he was elected in 2016. With the economy doing well but approval ratings falling short, the midterm elections could sway the control of Congress.

Still following? Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming midterms.

What are the midterms?

Midterm elections take place halfway between presidential elections, every two years. On Tuesday November 6, voters will choose new members of Congress—a term that indicates the combined body of the House of Representatives (the House) and the Senate. President Donald Trump’s party, the Republicans, currently control both houses of Congress. However, the midterms are generally considered a referendum on the current president, with the party whose president is in the White House often struggling to secure a net gain.

Who is being elected?

All 435 members of the House are up for election, as well as one-third of the Senate, with members of the Senate serving staggered six-year terms.

36 state governors (similar to a local president) will also be elected, along with dozens of local legislative officials.

The most important question: Can the Democratic Party win control of the House? 

This year, the Democrats believe that they can win control of the House by winning a majority of the seats. In order to do this, they will need to claim at least 23 seats from the Republicans; a feat that many experts believe to be possible.

On average, the party with a president in the White House has lost 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate in every midterm election since the American Civil War. President Trump has also received low approval ratings, a figure that is currently at around 42 percent. On the other hand, generic ballot polling shows the Democrats up by around eight percentage points.

Furthermore, this year, a record number of more than 30 Republicans have retired or resigned for a variety of reasons, with sexual harassment accusations and feelings towards the president among those cited. With representation in the House relatively proportionate to population, and voters usually reluctant to eject sitting representatives, this creates an opportunity for the Democrats to claim seats. Florida and Pennsylvania are two such key swing states where the incumbent will not be standing again.

In the last 50 years, the Democrats have only made a net gain of 23+ seats twice, in 1974 and in 2006. Similarly, the same period of time has seen the Republicans score a net gain of this size three times, most recently in the 2010 midterms during Barack Obama’s first term.

The low voting turnout for midterms (around 40 percent of Americans) has also tended to help the Republican Party, as those who do vote tend to be white and belong to an older generation. However, the “pink wave” of female candidates running for election is hoped to encourage more female voters and increase women’s representation in Congress.

The Senate

35 of 100 seats are up for election in the Senate, with 51 seats needed for control. Republicans have a strong advantage over the Democrats here because the Democratic Party is defending 26 seats, while the Republican Party is only defending nine.

The Senate electoral system also means that each state gets two senators, regardless of how large the population is. These smaller states tend to be more rural and, in the past, rural areas have favored the Republicans.

What does this all mean for president Trump?

With control of Congress comes the advantage of passing or blocking legislative agendas.

If the Democrats win control of one or both of the houses, they’ll be able to limit the final two years of President Trump’s term. For example, they’d be able to block his future Supreme Court picks and investigate issues such as the president’s business dealings or the allegations of sexual assault made against him.

If the Republicans hold control of Congress, President Trump’s key agendas and promises could be revived. The president was only able to sign his overhaul of the US tax system into law because Republicans held majorities in both houses of Congress.

The word impeachment has also been following discussions around the midterms. Impeachment does not necessarily lead to a removal of office—the formal statement of charges against the president has only been presented twice. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were acquitted after a trial in the Senate, and Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached in the 70s.

With the Democrats in control of Congress, calls for president Trump’s impeachment are likely to increase. However, Republican senators would need to turn on the president, as a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office.

Nevertheless, with a Democrat majority in Congress, the party would have a better chance of defeating Trump in the next presidential election in 2020.

What happens next?

The results of the midterms could shape the nation for years to come. A “blue wave” of Democrat majority in both the House and the Senate would be able to block President Trump’s future plans.

After the midterms, thoughts will turn to the 2020 presidential election. Worth mentioning here is the fact that 26 of the 36 state governors being elected on Tuesday are Republican. With governors playing a large role in supporting their party’s candidates, securing new governors could have a major effect on presidential campaigning.

Further reading: Taylor Swift Speaks up about Political Opinion

Humans-have-Caused-Wildlife-Populations-to-Decline-by-60-Percent

Humans have Caused Wildlife Populations to Decline by 60 Percent

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have declared a state of emergency for wildlife after revealing that the world’s mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have decreased by a staggering 60 percent since 1970.

By overusing natural resources, driving climate change and polluting the planet, humanity has not only prompted a cataclysmic decline in wildlife populations, but destroyed the system upon which it depends for clean air, water and every day existence.

The report warns: “Humans are living beyond the planet’s means and wiping out life on earth in the process.”

According to the Living Planet Report 2018, only a quarter of the world’s land area remains free from the impacts of human activity, a figure that is expected to fall to just a tenth by 2050. More than 4,000 species have declined between 1970 and 2014, the most recent available data.

Between 2009 and 2014, African elephant populations in Tanzania fell by 60 percent alone, largely due to poaching. WWF has warned that current protection methods are failing and more needs to be done to protect numerous species from becoming extinct in the near future.

Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF said: “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff.

“If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last that can do anything about it,” added Tanya Steele, chief executive of the WWF. “The collapse of global wildlife populations is a warning sign that nature is dying.”

It’s not just poaching that is threatening the planet. “Exploding” levels of human consumption, over-exploitation of natural resources such as over-fishing, cutting down forests and the use of pesticides in agriculture are having dire effects on the system that humanity is dependent upon. The report highlights food, health and medicines as amenities that rely on natural resources.

“It is a classic example of where the disappearance is the result of our own consumption, because the deforestation is being driven by ever expanding agriculture producing soy, which is being exported to countries including the UK to feed pigs and chickens,” Barrett said.

Plastic pollution is also proving a significant threat. The percentage of seabirds with plastic in their stomach is estimated to have risen from five percent in 1960, to 90 percent today. Plastic can suffocate and injure marine animals and, if mistaken for food, can cause fish and turtles to suffer blockage, starvation and internal wounds.

The report added that around half of the planet’s shallow water corals have been lost in just 30 years, and that the most damaged habitats are rivers and lakes, where populations have fallen by 83 percent due to the thirst of agriculture and the large quantity of dams.

South and Central America are the worst affected regions, seeing a drop of 89 percent in vertebrate populations.

More species referenced in the report as those whose populations are in decline include black and white rhinos, polar bears, African grey parrots, hedgehogs, whale sharks, Bornean orangutans, puffins and the wandering albatross.

“If we want a world with orangutans and puffins, clean air and enough food for everyone, we need urgent action from our leaders and a new global deal for nature and people that kick starts a global programme of recovery,” said Steele.

A 2020 meeting of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to make new commitments for the protection of nature.

Barrett said: “We need a new global deal for nature and people and we have this narrow window of less than two years to get it.”

“This really is the last chance. We have to get it right this time.”

Further reading: 12 Years to Halt Climate Change Catastrophe, Warns UN

Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Since 2012, the United Nations has been declaring October 11 International Day of the Girl Child.

Today marks a day that aims to recognize and address the challenges that girls encounter around the world. The organization will work alongside girls to promote girl’s empowerment, their human rights, and declare that they have the ability to change the world.

This year, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child is ‘A Skilled Girlforce’, which starts a year-long effort of advocating for education and skill enhancement.

According to the UN, “Of the one billion young people—including 600 million adolescent girls—that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.”

In the meantime, here are eight charities to support for girls and women across the globe. We don’t need a special day to honour girls and #PressforProgress.

Plan International (equality)

Plan International is active in 71 countries and strives to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. The charity puts emphasis on gender equality and empowers communities to tackle the cause of discrimination against girls.

The organisation works to overcome adversity and “support the safe and successful progression of children from birth to adulthood.’” Focus areas include: education, ending violence, youth activism, sexual health and rights, skills and work, early childhood, emergencies and providing sponsors for girls.

Camfed (education)

Camfed is an international, non-profit organisation that supports girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. With a big focus on education, the organisation tackles poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and become leaders of change.

“Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported more than 2.6 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and more than five million children have benefited from an improved learning environment”. From transportation and school fees to child marriage, the organisation works with community members to diminish the challenges that stand in the way of female education. 

Girls Not Brides (child marriage) 

Girls Not Brides brings together organisations from over 95 countries to end child marriage and give girls the choice and freedom that they deserve. 15 million girls across the globe become brides each year, and this organisation brings attention to these figures.

By raising awareness of health, education, death and violence, the organization aims to “build an understanding of what it will take to end child marriage and call for the laws, policies and programmes that will make a difference in the lives of millions of girls.” The charity provides facts and resources for you to share, and even gives you the option of using your own wedding to support girls across the world.

Young Women’s Trust (careers)

Young Women’s Trust supports young women aged 16-30 who are struggling with low or no pay. The organization provides free coaching and advice on CVs and job applications, and actively campaigns for “fair financial futures”.

By focusing on closing the gender pay gap, supporting young women in male-dominated sectors, and promoting apprenticeships for young women, the organization boosts women’s confidence and supports them in having a voice and becoming financially independent. 

CARE International (poverty)

CARE International puts women and girls in the centre of their mission to defeat poverty, achieve social justice and save lives. Currently working in 79 poor and developing countries, providing life-saving assistance during disaster and war, and helping people to rebuild their lives.

The organization believes that “equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to lift whole families and communities out of poverty”. It provides expertise in areas such as economic empowerment for women, inclusive governance, humanitarian response, and engaging with and influencing policy-makers and the private sector. 

Orchid Project (violence)

Orchid Project is a British charity that “envisions a world free from female genital cutting”. More than 200 million girls and women are living with the consequences of having their genitals—including part or all of the girl’s labia and part or all of her clitoris—removed. Physical consequences include, death, hemorrhage, tetanus, HIV, trouble urinating, menstruation problems, pelvic and abdominal pain, infection, sores, cysts, and infertility.

The charity raises awareness of how, why and where FGC happens and partners with organizations to prioritise an end to FCG. 

Free The Girls (sex trafficking)

Free The Girls is an international, non-profit organization; devoted to helping sex trafficking survivors achieve “economic freedom, restored health, social well-being, education, and opportunity for a different, hopeful future”. Through reintegration programs and economic opportunity, the organization joins survivors on the journey from horrific trauma to living safely with family.

Second-hand clothing is a thriving industry in many countries around the world so Free The Girls also organise bra donation. You can donate lingerie at your local drop off point and help survivors to earn a safe income and become an entrepreneur in their own communities.

Innovating Health International (healthcare)

Innovating Health International is a non-profit organization dedicated to treating chronic diseases and raising awareness for women’s health issues in developing countries. They aim to “increase access to treatment and education services for chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and injuries”.

By working with local partners and building healthcare that responds to local needs, the organization supports women’s cancer care, cervical cancer prevention, chronic disease study, and the building of pathology services and national disease registries.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Bill Cosby, previously dubbed “America’s Dad”, has recently been sentenced for three to 10 years and “total confinement”. The 81-year-old comedian was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault, drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004.

The fall of such a powerful media figure began when prosecutors re-opened Constand’s case, after more than 60 other women came forward against Cosby. Her allegation against the man whom she thought was her “mentor and friend” was the only case that occurred within the statute of limitations.

“Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature and my trust in myself and others,” she wrote in her statement.

Cosby may have declined the opportunity to speak before his sentencing, but the voices of many brave women haunt the aftermaths of the trial.

Actress, Lili Bernard said: “On the one hand I feel absolutely elated that justice was served. On the other hand, I also feel disappointed, because clearly the three-year minimum sentence does not adequately reflect the havoc this man, this rapist, has inflicted on so many women, including myself.”

“It does indicate there is now a shift in the legal system that is now going to reflect modern culture, and that now women’s voices are being believed and women’s lives are being valued,” she continued.

Janice Baker-Kinney, who also testified against Cosby, thanked him directly in a statement: “Your arrogance sparked a movement that has grown to thousands of women taking back their self-esteem and proudly standing up for what is morally right.”

Such an inspiring outlook on equality has been helped by Cosby being the first celebrity of the #MeToo movement to be sent to prison. Following the sexual misconduct allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, men and women everywhere are encouraging each other to speak out against sexual assault and domineering ideologies with the hash tag, #MeToo.

“The #MeToo movement has shown that we are at a turning point on certain issues. While many of our elected officials are yet to catch up, the public has become more comfortable with talking accurately about sexual harassment,” says Camonghne Felix, Senior Communications Manager at the Ms. Foundation for Women.

“However, not all women have benefitted from the #MeToo movement equally. The initial survivors who shared stories about their experiences were wealthier, white women, while women of color, LGBTQ and transwomen, undocumented women, and women in lower income work still face exceptional risks to their personal safety every day.

“They are the least likely to be protected and believed in the case of sexual harassment and we need to continue to fight until all women, everywhere, are respected.”

Cosby’s case comes at a time when Brett Kavanaugh is also facing accusations of sexual misconduct.

President Trump has publicly challenged the assertions against his Supreme Court nominee, questioning why they weren’t “immediately filed”.

In the era of #MeToo, thousands of social media users have responded with passionate fury to the president’s comments, recounting why it took them time to open up about their attacks.

College News asked Felix for her thoughts on the link between shame and trauma—an emotion that Andrea Constand openly described as “overwhelming”:

“We need to change the way that our country talks about sexual assault, and we need to change the messages that we send to girls and women about their value and their worth.

“Our country was founded on patriarchy, misogyny, and white supremacy, and cultural acceptance of these societal systems needs to change. For it is these issues that send a clear message to women and girls that they are to blame for what happens to them, and that men do not care about their pain, humiliation, and self-worth,” Felix said.

“We live in a highly patriarchal and misogynistic society—it’s what this country was founded in. Boys and men are applauded for their sexual activity, while girls and women are degraded for it. If a woman is sexually assaulted, often the first instinct is to ask what she was wearing, whether she had been drinking, or how she had been behaving.

“But it does not matter what she was wearing, or if she was drinking, or if she was flirting prior to a sexual assault. Period.

“Because of these expectations and these types of questions, it is difficult for women in our society not to internalize the events that may have happened to them and to blame themselves.

“Overcoming this way of thinking depends on listening to women and believing their experiences so that they are not inclined to blame themselves and feel shame for the abuses perpetrated against them.”

It does not matter what she was wearing, or if she was drinking, or if she was flirting prior to a sexual assault. Period.

And how can we continue to bring attention and justice to sex offenders? We asked.

“It is critical that we continue to listen to and believe women and their stories. Whether allegations of misconduct took place three days ago or three decades ago, whether it took place in a social setting or a place of work, it is important that we continue to listen to the stories of women and learn from their experiences.

“But we cannot count on women alone, and women shouldn’t have to share stories about their deep personal traumas in order for change to happen.

“We have to have honest conversations with boys and men about what it means to respect the girls and women around them. Men need to step up and do the hard work of teaching men around them to do, and act, better. Movements can’t grow without allies, and we need to ensure that men are just as active a part of the #MeToo movement as the brave women who have stepped up have been.”

Camonghne is a member of the nation’s oldest women’s foundation, that works to build women’s collective power in the US and advance equity and justice.

“We provide financial and capacity-building investments to grassroots, women-led organizations, that are making meaningful social, cultural, and economic change in the lives of women.

“Only 2 percent of fundraising money goes to women and girls of color, and we believe that, by targeting these underserved groups, we can create better outcomes for all women.”

Felix’s passionate intellect made us eager to get involved.

“Visit our website, join our mailing list and learn more about our current grantee-partners in your community to get involved in issues that matter to women at the grassroots level.

“Keep an eye out for the next Young Professionals Advisory Committee (YPAC), which is currently planning upcoming events in which there will be plenty of opportunities to participate in and advocate for women!”

Bill Cosby may be in prison, but it’s clear that the fight isn’t over.

Find the Ms. Foundation for Women at forwomen.org

Further reading: Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski Arrested During Kavanaugh Protest

Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski Arrested During Kavanaugh Protest

Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski Arrested During Kavanaugh Protest

Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski joined thousands at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill to protest the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The actor and model were two familiar faces among the 300 people to be arrested during Thursday’s protests.

In video footage that has been circulating on Twitter, Schumer, 37, can be seen interacting with the police.

“You want to be arrested?” an officer warns her.

Schumer replies: “Yes.”

An outspoken advocate for women’s rights and gun control, Schumer’s shirt read: “This today, then #ERA”.

Ratajkowski, 27, shared an image of herself with a banner on social media, stating that she had also been arrested at the protests.

“Today I was arrested protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. Men who hurt women can no longer be placed in positions of power.”

In the photo, Ratajkowski’s banner reads: “Respect female existence or expect our resistance”.

The Women’s March, a liberal organization that moved in opposition of President Donald Trump, was one of multiple activist groups tweeting from the protest.

It comes before The Senate’s crucial vote on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Friday. A week-long FBI investigation has concluded, following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Banners from angry protestors read: “We believe Christine Ford”—the woman who has spoken out about being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh at a party in 1982.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has expressed support for Kavanaugh—who denied all allegations—recently angering some of his fellow Republicans by speaking against Ms Ford’s testimony.

“How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know,” the President mocked.

Republican, Jeff Flake, responded to the incident, saying: “There is no time and no place for remarks like that, but to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right.”

Kavanaugh’s appointment to the US Supreme Court would put it in favour of conservatives for years to come.

Further reading: Why We Should All Channel Our Inner Serena Williams

Marijuana

New Policy Ends Marijuana Prosecution

As of August 1, it is now legal in Manhattan to smoke marijuana in public, unless it poses a threat to public safety.

Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, proposed plans to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases May 15.

In a New York Times report, it was revealed that there is a large racial gap for cannabis-related arrests. 86 percent of people arrested for marijuana cases were people of color: 48 percent being black, 38 percent were Hispanic—only nine percent were white.

This issue was one of Vance’s main reasons for the new policy. “Our research has found virtually no public safety rationale for the ongoing arrest and prosecution of marijuana smoking and no moral justification for the intolerable racial disparities that underlie enforcement.

“Tomorrow, our Office will exit a system wherein smoking a joint can ruin your job, your college application, or your immigration status, but our advocacy will continue,” he goes on to say.

The new policy is expected to reduce marijuana cases by 96% percent, from 5,000 a year to fewer than 200.

This decision has also raised questions regarding total legality of cannabis across the state of New York.

So far, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis. Recently, Vermont became the ninth state to legalize marijuana, with the effective date of legalization being July 2018.

Earlier this year, a Department of Health (DoH) study commissioned by governor Andrew Cuomo concluded that the use of recreational cannabis should be legalized. Cuomo had previously suggested that he was against the legalization of the drug by saying that it is “a gateway drug”.

His opponent, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon has also expressed her desire for marijuana to be legalized in the state of New York, it being one of her main policies. “We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” she says.

Brooklyn has already ended prosecution of the use of marijuana and has seen astonishing results. Low-level marijuana arrests in Brooklyn have decreased by 90 percent, going from 349 cases in January to 29 in June.

Although Manhattan and Brooklyn have ended prosecution on all low-level cannabis cases, the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens are yet to change their policies.

Vance ends his statement: “I urge New York lawmakers to legalize and regulate marijuana once and for all.”

Further reading: Marijuana Arrests in Colorado

stalking behavior

Did You Know? You Might Be a Stalker

Stalking is sadly a very common problem. But have you ever considered you might be a stalker yourself? Well, perhaps you should—because a survey released yesterday (July 9) has revealed more of us are stalkers than we think.

A team at SafeHome.org interviewed 2,000 men and women and asked them to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets. The results made for some intriguing reading.

For example, 30 percent of those interviewed have ‘jokingly’ been called a stalker; 25 percent of the interviewees admitted they’d hacked into someone’s email and 22 percent had driven by an ex’s house.

What is stalking?

Stalking is defined as a pattern of on-going and unwarranted attention, harassment, contact, or other behaviors directed at someone causing them to be reasonably fearful.

Simply poking your nose in someone else’s affairs (whether the person is love interest or a neighbor) isn’t technically stalking—unless the actions legitimately make the target afraid. In other words, exhibiting stalker-like behavior is one thing, criminal stalking is quite another.

The stalker in us all

The persona of the stalker is deep-rooted in the American psyche and entrenched in our popular culture. Take, for example, the immortal words of Sting, ‘Every step you take, every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you’; or the abundance of classic movies—from Psycho (1960) to Cape Fear (1962)—where the archetypal stalker is brought to the fore in cinematic terms.

In both the movies and chart-topping tunes, references to stalker-like behavior are both allusory and blatant, pervasive and resonant.

Is this, perhaps, because—whether we like it or not—we can all identify with stalker traits? Is there a stalker within us all? After digesting the results from the SafeHome.org survey, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was.

That’s right, more than a third of the people interviewed admitted they had watched someone else without them knowing about it. And a shocking 22 percent of people confessed they had created a fake social media account to keep track of someone. Creepy!

But it gets worse. 20 percent of people said they’d sent someone a gift and not signed their name on purpose and 20 percent admitted they’d broken or ruined something that belonged to someone else.

Meanwhile, 19 percent revealed an ex had told them to stop contacting them. And, astonishingly, 16 percent of interviewees disclosed they had persistently messaged, phoned or texted someone after they had been asked to stop.

However spooky this data may seem, as long as the people carrying out these behaviors are not doing so with the intent to threaten or scare another person, the behavior is not technically stalking.

info graphic about stalking
Image courtesy: SafeHome

Who is most likely to be your stalker?

The SafeHome survey also revealed who was most likely to be your stalker, and what relationship they were most likely to have with you.

Your ex is most likely to be your stalker, with 26 percent of the people interviewed having been stalked by an ex. Close behind, however, was a ‘significant other’, with 25 percent of those surveyed confessing this was the relationship they’d previously had with their stalker.

Co-workers were the least likely to be a stalker, with just 5 percent of people saying they were stalked by one.

The gender factor

According to the SafeHome survey, men and women have different ideas about what constitutes creepy behavior.

When it comes to sexes and exes, men are more creeped out than women by the thought of a former partner hacking into their online life or following them in the real world.

Meanwhile, impersonating someone in real life—or online—disturbed women more than men. Whereas both sexes equally agreed that going into an ex’s house without permission was definitely on the spooky-scale.

Image courtesy: SafeHome

The age of creepiness

SafeHome broke down stalking targets by age. The youngest group they surveyed (aged 18 – 24 years old) said they stalked their friends more than any other group. Non-romantic friendships are more important to college-aged adults as they strive to find their place in the wider community. This factor could explain why friendship groups are common targets of stalkerish behavior within this age demographic.

Among those aged 25 to 64 years old, significant others and exes were most likely to be sneakily investigated. For those aged 65 and older, it was friends.

Image courtesy: SafeHome

The state of stalking

Does where we live in the U.S. influence our tendency to stalk? SafeHome’s survey found it does.

Those living in the West were the least likely to obsessively pursue their exes by following them or driving by their homes, while those living in the South were the most likely to do so. East Central U.S. fell in the middle.

SafeHome’s findings are in line with traditional U.S. stereotypes about regional personality differences.

The West Coast is often characterized as relaxed and laid back, while we consider the American South as somewhat more aggressive or confrontational. Whether these stereotypes hold true is a matter of endless debate —although some studies have shown that personality differences are, in fact, regional.

Image courtesy: SafeHome

When can we expect privacy?

When does stalker-like behavior develop into a serious crime? In some cases, the answer is very straightforward. Trespassing on someone else’s property, or breaking into their home, is a criminal act. Period.

It is also a crime to harass someone—this can apply to a lot of stalkerish behaviors from hacking into an online account to sending unwanted gifts.

High-profile celebrity court cases demonstrate that, in every state, stalking is a serious crime, whether it’s carried out online otherwise.

Curiosity is all well and good, but if you end up making the object of your attention justifiably fearful, you could also end up in jail.

Information courtesy of safehome.org.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures TV Series in Development

Fans of Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures (2017) rejoice; entertainment news site Variety has reported that a TV series inspired by the film is currently in development.

According to Variety, the TV series, which is currently in the early stages of development, is to appear exclusively on the National Geographic channel in a bid to produce more scripted fare. Producing alongside the major channel will be Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping from Chernin Entertainment. Chernin and Topping were the original executive producers of Hidden Figures.

The film was based on a book by the same name written by author Margot Lee Shetterly. Hidden Figures tells the true story of the black female mathematicians who were crucial to the success of the NASA American space program in its early years—despite the challenges they faced because of the color of their skin.

The slate for the film boasted an all-star cast including Tarahi P.Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as the film’s protagonists.

Hidden Figures was nominated for three Oscars this year including Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.

Further reading: ‘Black Panther’ to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-year Cinema Ban

San Diego Coach Arrest

Lamont Smith Resigns as San Diego Coach after Arrest

Lamont Smith resigns as San Diego Coach on Wednesday March 7, just shy of two weeks after his arrest following suspicion of domestic violence.

USA Today reported that the men’s basketball coach at the University of San Diego was placed on administrative leave by the school the day after the arrest.

“We appreciate Coach Smith’s contributions to Torero Athletics and to the men’s basketball program since he joined us three years ago.

“Coach Smith elevated the level of competitiveness of our program, recruited an outstanding group of student-athletes and established a strong foundation for future success.

“This situation has been difficult for all concerned and our prayers continue to remain with everyone,” said the school in a statement announcing Smith’s resignation.

Smith had been arrested just hours after the Toreros played against the University of San Francisco on 25 February. Police arrived at a hotel where a woman, whose identity remains anonymous, had visible marks of injury who said that Smith had caused the marks.

“As a result of the evidence obtained from the investigation, Mr Smith will not be charged at this time,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office in an email to USA Today Sports.

A statement by Gail Shifman, Smith’s attorney, states: “After reviewing all the evidence and completing their investigation, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office has discharged the matter and has declined to file any charges against Coach Smith.

“An arrest in California is not the same as being charged with a crime. The San Francisco District Attorney’ Office has declined to file charges because there is insufficient evidence and there are no court proceedings.”

Smith had played for San Diego from 1995-1999. The 42-year-old was initially hired to coach the basketball team in 2015, and had two years remaining on his contract.

Charles Manson Cult Leader

Cult Leader Charles Manson Dies Aged 83

Infamous cult leader Charles Manson has died aged 83. The California Department of Corrections confirmed that Manson died of natural causes at the Bakersfield Hospital in California this Sunday.

Manson rose to irrevocable infamy in the 1960s when his followers—the so-called “Manson Family”—committed violent, bloody murders that would both devastate and fascinate the world for decades to come. The shocking crimes took place on two consecutive nights late in the summer of 1969.

The Family first went to film director Roman Polanski’s mansion, murdering 26-year-old actress and wife to Polanski, Sharon Tate who was eight months pregnant at the time. Other victims were celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32, 25-year-old coffee heiress, Abigail Folger and Steven Parent, 18. Polanski was not present at the house. The next evening, Manson’s followers continued their rampage in the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, killing them both before scrawling “Death to Pigs” in blood on their front door. Prosecutors of the trial had said that Manson was trying to incite a race war.

Initially sentenced to death, Manson’s conviction was changed to life imprisonment following the abolishment of the death penalty in 1972 by the California Supreme Court. Manson was sentenced to nine life terms with the possibility of parole, but was refused parole on 12 occasions. While the cult leader had ordered the deaths of the victims, he was not found responsible for murdering anyone personally.

The cult leader and the Family’s murderous rampage have been the subject of books, films and plays for decades since. The trial was re-told in the TV film Helter Skelter (1976) based on a book of the same name written by prosecutors Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. The film was adapted again for television in 2004. Charles Manson and the Summer Murders were also re-told in a recent episode of American Horror Story: Cult.