Now that the threat in the Middle East has been eliminated (of course by drone strike), we can all return to quiet baseball and news, right? Wrong - this week featured the suspension of 13 MLB players, including Alex Rodriguez, and Sanjay Gupta's sudden support of marijuana research and medical use. Meanwhile, the entire world sport system has ground to a halt, thanks to Russia. It's a cold world out there, and everyone seems to be getting a bit more frosty.
5. "The President, Congress, and the Courts have forgotten that the costs of bad policy are always borne by ordinary citizens" - Edward Snowden, Statement on Lavabit Shutdown
The Snowden drama continues, but this time, it has little to do with leaks. As part of the government's review of the case, private subpoenas were sent to Snowden's email provider, Lavabit. Known for its professional-grade security features and encryption, Lavabit was the provider of choice for those maintaining a degree of privacy in their communications. As it turns out, federal orders coerced Lavabit into giving up its private records on Snowden and related accounts. Rather than give in, the site completely shut down and took the case to the courts. Rarely do businesses fight our constitutional wars for us, and Lavabit stands at the forefront. Now if Gmail would try a bit harder...
4. "The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa." - US Department of State, Worldwide Travel Alert
In a shockingly comprehensive move, the United States moved this week to close a total of 22 embassies, in light of supposed high-level terror threat from Yemen. Embassies from Libya to the full spread of the Middle East shut down, some for more than one day. While previous threats have been generally accepted by the public, in light of Edward Snowden's continued whistleblowing and revelations of NSA spying programs, the truth appears to be more complex. President Obama took to Jay Leno to clear the record, but doubts remained: shouldn't the NSA program have caught these threats before the final stages?
3. - "...third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason and the entire 2014 Championship Season" - Bud Selig, Statement on Alexander Rodriguez Suspension
In this week's "that is no surprise" news, Major League Baseball handed down a severe suspension to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, removing the player through 2014. A-Rod was long suspected to be involved in the Biogenesis steroid scandal, and due to his lack of cooperation and refusal to accept the shorter suspension, was treated more sternly. While Rodriguez continues to appeal and defend his actions, MLB has noted how the steroid use has tarnished the game yet again. The kicker? He can continue to play until his appeal finishes, cashing a paycheck and taking the most boos since Sosa.
2. "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that." - Sanjay Gupta, Why I Changed My Mind on Weed
Everyone's favorite almost-Surgeon General and practicing neurosurgeon (you just learned something!) finished a CNN review on marijuana research this week. The revelation? Every prior generalization of Gupta's was unfounded. Instead of a dearth of research and policy, Gupta found that very accurate, professional research into marijuana is often blanketed by more publicized, negative reviews; only a fraction, 6%, of research looks into marijuana's benefits. Gupta's change of heart parallels continued research by the ACLU into marijuana's dirty legal troubles and pushes by countries like Uruguay to legalize the drug. And yes - we all have the same image of Dr. Gupta lighting up right now.
1. "The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma" - Stephen Fry, Open Letter on Russian Anti-Gay Laws
Britain's favourite comedian, host, and activist, Stephen Fry, is not pleased with the UK or the International Olympic Committee, and for good reason: no group has stood up to oppose the cut and dry ban on "homosexual activity" in Russia. Sochi, Russia is slated to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, but has legislatively and openly threatened to arrest and deport "gay acting" athletes, spectators, and protesters. While the move is likely some botched attempt by the Russian Federation to consolidate international power, the surprisingly high amount of cooperation by the IOC and foreign nations is shocking. Welcome to 1936 all over again, where claims of an "apolitical" Olympics are used to justify hate crimes.