In the Know: January 17, 2014

  • In the Know Reporter: Laicie Heeley
  • In the Know Reporter: Brooke Klauer

“This has been an amazing ride, and to receive nine nominations from the academy is testament to all of the hard work. And for that I am truly grateful.” Steve McQueen, director of “12 Years a Slave” on his film’s nine Academy Award nominations including best picture

Nation: Another state rules on same-sex marriage.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the state of Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Terence Kern said the court would not immediately enforce this ruling–therefore not opening the doors right away to marriages of gay and lesbian couples in Oklahoma–pending appeals. Still, he delivered a clear opinion on how the voter-approved Oklahoma state constitutional amendment relates to the U.S. Constitution. Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor said that federal district judges striking at state bans “looks like a trend.”

World: The death of Ariel Sharon.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died this week at the age of 85. Sharon had been in the hospital since 2006 when he suffered a stroke that left him in a coma. Sharon was one of the most influential figures ever to hold power in the state, and played an integral role in the shape of the country today. Because of his role in Israel’s expansion, Sharon was and is viewed as a controversial figure in Arab-Israeli politics, but will be missed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “first and foremost a brave soldier and an outstanding military commander” who “had a central role in the battle for Israel’s security from the very beginning.”

Politics: Benghazi again.
A Senate Intelligence Committee report released Wednesday said that the State Department and the CIA both failed to do enough to prevent two attacks on military outposts in Benghazi, Libya. “The attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya—to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets—and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission,” the panel said in a statement.

Technology: No rules for the Internet.
On Tuesday a U.S. appeals court threw out federal rules requiring broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. The ruling was a blow to the Obama administration, which has pushed the idea of “net neutrality.” The ruling could mean tiered Internet service, in which some content plays at full speed while other websites appear slower based on a pricing structure. The FCC has said it might appeal, but for now, Internet-service providers are free to experiment with new types of pricing arrangements where charging high fees for faster service becomes the norm.

Health: Doctors are mapping the flu.
Flu season is upon us, and doctors are working hard to track the outbreaks. One team at Columbia is even using computer models to try to predict the next outbreak. You can see their predictions online! The spread of the flu is difficult to predict, but advancements in science are making it more and more possible. This year, the C.D.C. is even running a “Predict the Influenza Season Challenge.” Fifteen teams are competing to win the $75,000 prize.

Women’s Affairs: Millennials and children?
A new study by Dr. Stewart Friedman was just released comparing Generation X and millennials attitudes on starting a family by having children–and found that rate of students graduating from college who plan to have children has gone down by roughly half in just two decades. Fewer than half of millennials said they planned to have children and this may be caused by anxiety about the future as millennials started their college years during the Great Recession and graduated with more student debt. Dr. Friedman believes that these findings are a wake-up call that our social and economic institutions need to change so that people who want to be parents can see a path to becoming parents. We agree.