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AWOL Newswire Spring 2013


According to data obtained in the 2010 Census, the population of Franklin County, Mississippi is made up of solely straight residents. CNN reporter John Sutter explored the county personally, revealing an interesting cultural and political phenomenon. Sutter explained, “There certainly are gay people in Franklin County…Many are happy to talk about it. It’s their neighbors and families who are not.” Because of this, people must be dodging census questions that ask about sexual orientation, lying or electing not to answer in deference to the cultural expectations of the county. The situation reveals two striking issues. First, residents feel the need to lie to federal government information collectors and systems because of their neighbors’ intolerance. Second, a region’s opinions toward someone’s private life can shape how they officially identify themselves as individuals. This sort of social pressure to disguise personal identities is hardly a recent problem facing the homosexual community. However, more and more states in America are legalizing gay marriage, and social opinion polls are leaning favorably toward legal recognition of these unions. It seems that counties like Franklin should start considering the implications of limiting an individual’s rights under law, hopefully producing a more tolerant and understanding populace. – Zac Deibel


In a research lab across the world, scientists have collected DNA samples from some of the world's smartest people to determine alleles for intelligence. This is not the plot of an upcoming sci-fi thriller, but real research from the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, China. The Institute was founded in 1998 and was China's representative in the Human Genome Project. Now the Institute's scientists are moving ahead of their Western counterparts to discover what genes determine intelligence. The idea is that when a couple decides to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization, scientists will be able to tell them which fertilized egg will have the highest IQ. This technology could increase the IQ of each generation by up to 15 points.   –Eleanor Greene


Japan has taught us anything can be put in a vending machine, from new or used underwear to fresh bread. What you might not know, is that book vending machines have existed since 1822. The first book vending machine was used to dispense inflammatory books (like Thomas Payne’s Age of Reason) and pamphlets so the vendor couldn’t be punished. While book vending machines have been built periodically and have become popular in Japan and China, they’ve failed to catch on in Western nations. An Irish company recently attempted to revamp the concept with their vending machine “A Novel Idea” but went bankrupt in 2010. Given the recent popularity of Redbox and other vending machines, the book vending machine might be the next big thing. –Meridian Ganz-Ratzat


Ever wished you could take a picture but didn’t have a camera? Needed to send a text, but your hands were full? Needed directions, but your phone’s Wi-Fi wasn’t working? With the unveiling of Google’s Project Glass, (or the lovechild of Siri and Warby Parker), all these desires can be satisfied—for a mere $1,500. According to Dante D’Orazio of the tech website The Verge, Google has announced that the futuristic headset—available in charcoal, tangerine, shale, cotton, and sky—will go on sale commercially by the end of 2013. Google co-founder Sergey Brin explained in a TED Talk that Project Glass’ intention is to stop people from constantly looking down at their phones, saying, “We ultimately questioned if this is the ultimate future of how you want to connect to other people in your life; how you want to connect information. Should it be by walking around looking down?” Saying, “Okay, Glass,” activates the device and allows users to access the Internet, place calls, text, take pictures, film—basically do the same things you can do on a smartphone. However, there is one drawback—whether you are a model or a middle-aged parent, using Glass as opposed to a phone will make you look like a dork. –Jess Anderson


A toddler was cured of HIV in Mississippi thanks to doctors who administered drugs immediately upon her birth. According to CNN, the mother was diagnosed just before giving birth, keeping doctors from providing proper prenatal care, which could have prevented transmission of the virus that causes AIDS. When the baby was 30 hours old, the doctors confirmed that the baby’s mother was HIV positive and began to administer three different antiretroviral drugs. They confirmed several days later that the infant was HIV positive. The doctors continued to treat the infant for 15 months; for unknown reasons, the mother stopped treating her baby for eight to ten months before doctors intervened. When they tested the toddler again, they found that she was “functionally cured,” meaning that the virus was not detected in the blood and that the child will not have to undergo lifelong treatment. Doctors believe that early detection and treatment was the key to curing the child; while such early treatment is not possible for all newborns, the case is inspiring to researchers and doctors alike. –Pamela Huber

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