Geoff Lichy

current events + educational content + personal thoughts

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This week in news: January 15-21 rundown


  1. Barack Obama commuted sentences for hundreds of inmates, including Chelsea Manning
  2. Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president of the United States
  3. Women’s march
  4. “El Chapo” extradited
  5. Brazilian prisons remain unstable
  6. Three shootings in Mexico
  7. Bus crashes in Italy
  8. U.S. performs air strikes in Syria and Libya, some of Obama’s final actions
  9. Nigerian air force mistakenly bombs aid camp
  10. Turkish plane crashes into a village

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: January 8-14 rundown


  1. Obama allows NSA to share more private information collected without warrants
  2. Report finds that Ukraine attempted to influence US election
  3. Probe into Chicago police finds history of abuses
  4. Unverified dossier released by Buzzfeed makes claims about Trump and Russia
  5. Guy who shot up a church is given death sentence
  6. Bombs in Afghanistan kill 50
  7. US sends thousands of troops into eastern Europe
  8. Takata agrees to pay penalties over dangerous airbags
  9. Volkswagon agrees to pay penalties over emissions scandal
  10. SpaceX deploys satellites

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: January 1-7 rundown


  1. Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
  2. FBI/CIA/NSA report on allegations of Russian hacking
  3. Protests in Mexico over gas prices
  4. Brazilian prison massacres kill at least 80
  5. Finland starting basic monthly income experiment
  6. Bombing in Iraq kills or injures over 100
  7. Car bomb kills 43 in Syria
  8. Battle for Mosul continues
  9. Turkey questions level of U.S. participation in fighting ISIS
  10. Swiss scientists develop solar prototype to power pacemakers

Further information and more stories:

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This week in news: December 25-31 rundown


  1. USA announces sanctions versus Russia over alleged hacking
  2. Obama creates new national monuments in Utah/Nevada
  3. Minimum wage increases for 20 states
  4. Nationwide ceasefire for Syria
  5. Israel announces plans to ignore UN resolution condemning settlements
  6. Terrorists strike Turkey
  7. Bombs explode in Iraq
  8. Russian plane with choir crashes
  9. India tests nuclear missile
  10. First trial using gene editing to attempt combating cancer

A number of celebrations occurred around the globe for Christmas, Hanukkah, News Years, and others.

Further information and more stories:

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Reflecting On 2016 (A Rare Personal Post)

I’m not much of a share-details-about-my-life person. My life is also kind of boring, in my opinion. But 2016 was relatively action-packed for me. Some highlights:

  • I spent about 5 weeks in Mexico (March and October). I saw Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Mazatlán.
  • I went through a couple of courses. (Cybersecurity, financial analysis, TESOL/TEFL)
  • I traveled to San Antonio to see my sister graduate from Air Force Basic Training.
  • I went to three weddings in South Carolina (for two of my cousins).
  • I underwent surgery for the first time. Not really a fun experience, but new and significant. (Relatively minor issue. I spent less than 12 hours in a hospital.)
  • I recorded a whole bunch of music. Some of it was released; the rest needs some work. My writing and freelance projects have been a higher priority this year, so I haven’t created as much music as 2015.

I learned a lot in 2016. It was an interesting year, and I’m grateful I could experience everything.

Some of my favorite pictures from the past 12 months:

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This week in news: December 18-24 rundown


  1. Trump officially set to be next US president
  2. US bans drilling in Arctic
  3. China returns drone to USA
  4. Fireworks explosion in Mexico kills or wounds 100
  5. Terrorist attacks in Zurich and Berlin
  6. Plane drama involving JetBlue and Delta
  7. Russian Ambassador assassinated
  8. UN demands Israel stop settlements in Palestine
  9. Aleppo returns to full government control
  10. A new Ebola vaccine is promising

Further information and more stories:

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The USA Isn’t Really One Country (And Some Post-Election Thoughts)

Of course the USA is one country from a technical perspective. Yet from a geographic-based ideological perspective, it’s hard to come to that same conclusion.

The results of the 2016 presidential election have only reinforced regional differences. It’s not so much a liberal-conservative divide but an urban-rural one. Judging from the attitudes of Washington insiders, things aren’t a simple Democrat-Republican divide. Prominent politicians of both parties often have similar ideals and goals.

What’s troubling is the lack of communication and understanding between urban and rural voters. It’s led to continuous anger at The Other Side.

Many liberals, confined to their “coastal citadels,” don’t venture outside of their bubbles. The same is true of many conservatives. For example, you won’t see many farmers or coal miners on a liberal arts college campus. What does an upper middle class Millennial college student from Los Angeles have in common with a 55-year-old lumberjack from West Virginia who saw a neighbor die of a heroin overdose last week? Not much, and neither group seems interested in talking to the other. The city-dwellers call the rural people “backwards rednecks.” The countryside-dwellers call the urban people “entitled smug idiots.” If you don’t interact with certain groups, they can become stereotypes – instead of individuals with unique hopes and fears.

It might seem strange that each area (neighborhood, county, state, etc.) has its own culture, but therein lies the rub: many people don’t realize the sheer diversity of the United States. Talk to people in 10 different states; they’ll give different answers about their concerns. (Even if this doesn’t seem strange to you, it’s not something which often comes to mind.)

Ideologically, the United States of America isn’t really one country. This idea is implied in the name: The United States. It’s a conglomerate of distinct states which have united under a central federal government.

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Which Media Sources Are Neutral?

This is a bit of a follow-up to my analysis on who owns the media.

I also came across this infographic. While it’s decent, I felt it wasn’t 100 percent accurate. It’s worth mentioning that news sources have nebulous affiliations with partisan bias. Opinion pieces further muddy the waters, as any source can publish articles by liberal or conservative sources. For example, The Washington Post is often considered left-leaning as a whole, but occasionally uses pieces from conservative journalists.

A media organization’s rating (neutral, liberal, conservative, etc.) does not mean everything from that outlet will conform to the rating. Ratings are overall estimations. Sometimes a news site will surprise you. For instance, I’ve seen utter trash published by The New York Times and quality journalistic content published on Breitbart. Most people still agree that the Times is more reputable than Breitbart.

Note that indications of partisan bias don’t necessarily correlate with low quality. Sometimes a highly partisan article can have excellent/useful information. Just keep an eye out.

As always: use your own judgment on a case-by-case basis. Does an article appear to promote only one viewpoint? Does it make claims which require citations? Has it been refuted by Snopes? Is it a satire site like The Onion? Sometimes it’s helpful to check who the writer is.

And never, ever get your news from only one source.

I may create an infographic of my own. But in the meantime, here’s a list format on partisan bias. If you disagree with anything, let me know!

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This week in news: December 4-10 rundown


  1. North Dakota Access Pipeline construction stalled
  2. Jill Stein’s recounts not doing anything significant
  3. Neo-McCarthyist nonsense spreading through U.S.
  4. Italian PM resigns after votes on constitution reform
  5. Merkel re-elected leader of Germany
  6. Turkish bombs kill or injure almost 200
  7. Syrian civil war continues
  8. South Korean president impeached
  9. Earthquake kills over 100 in Indonesia
  10. Eleven countries agree to scale back oil production, aligning with OPEC

Further information and more stories:

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Does the CIA Believe Russia Influenced U.S. Elections?

tl;dr It’s unclear. Even if they do, it’s not the opinion of every U.S. intelligence agency.

The Washington Post, not necessarily a bastion of quality journalism these days, recently posted an article with an extraordinary claim as a headline: “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House“!

If you read through the article, that’s not quite what happened. The headline is (unsurprisingly) sensationalized.

CIA agents supposedly held a secret meeting with some members of Congress about a secret report on alleged Russian interference with the U.S. election. Agents were said to have potentially “identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others.” Those individuals are not employed by the Russian government and may not have direct ties to the Kremlin. The CIA further claimed “it was now ‘quite clear’ that electing Trump was Russia’s goal,” according to the report. It’s important to note that the Washington Post’s article is not based on statements from the CIA. It’s based on statements from someone (likely a member of Congress) who attended the “secret meeting” or read a Senate-written summary about it. Therefore, this is all second-hand unverified information.

The New York Times ran a similar story, seemingly using another source (of course, also anonymous). The source said “We now have high confidence that [Russia] hacked the DNC and the RNC, and conspicuously released no documents [from the RNC hack].” This seems to be the basis of the “Russia helped Trump” claim. Meanwhile, there is no proof that the RNC was hacked. The RNC denied that their systems were breached, saying the FBI had personally reviewed RNC cybersecurity.

Many of the Wikileaks documents from government officials came from whistleblowers, FOIA requests, and unsophisticated phishing scams. It can also be argued that the contents of those documents and emails were more damaging than the leaks themselves. If so, Democratic officials would rather point fingers at a nuclear power (without proof) than accept personal responsibility for their own words and actions. Of course, cybersecurity is a serious issue and the source of alleged hacks should be discovered. That investigation is ongoing.

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, was quoted in the Guardian as saying the CIA claims were “bullshit.” Murray said he knew who gave information to Wikileaks, claiming that it was an ‘insider’ – who wasn’t Russian and wasn’t a hacker. He also said “America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. [The CIA] plainly [has] no knowledge whatsoever.” He believes that if the CIA really found out who performed the hackings, that person (or persons) would already be in an American prison.

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