UK Universities Become First To Feature Famous Hologram Lecturers 

Some universities in the UK are beginning to enter a new era of utilizing unique technology to teach its students. The technology in question involves holograms, the same holograms that have been used to bring back retired or dead singers to the stage; like Tupac at the 2012 Coachella music festival. 

Instead of performing hit songs, these particular holograms will be notable historical / cultural figures that align with the specific class their teaching. For example, physics students could get a lecture from Albert Einstein or a masterclass in design from Coco Chanel herself, according to reports from Rachel Hall of The Guardian.

Loughborough University in London  is the first in Europe to explore this new avenue of technology and learning. The university is specifically planning on using holograms to bring sports scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to teach fashion students about the intricacies of immersive shows. Loughborough University is also planning to have the sports scientists teach students in management how to navigate various business endeavors and situations. 

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Professor Vikkie Locke, the director of undergraduate studies at Loughborough’s business school, told the Guardian that the students love the technology, especially since they’ve grown accustomed to having classes on their computers and joining lectures through a screen. 

“[The students prefer] a guest speaker from an industry beaming into a classroom to a 2D person on a wall. [Classes on Zoom made students] feel like they were watching TV, there’s a distance. A holographic image is a lot more engaging and real to them.”

After this initial year of experimentation, the technology is set to be officially introduced into the curriculum in 2025. The holographic technology and units used are from LA-based company Proto, who also has clients like BT and IBM. Proto has also been known to work with popular clothing retailers to make interactive product displays for customers. 

David Nussbaum founded Proto four years ago, and stated that the company could soon be bringing some of the best thinkers from the 20th century back from the dead.

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“Proto has the technology to project an image of Stephen Hawking, or anybody, and make it look like he’s really there. We can hook it up to books, lectures, social media – anything he was attached to, any question, any interaction with him. An AI Stephen Hawking would look like him, sound like him and interact like it was him,” he stated.

“It’s awe-inspiring, it’s jaw-dropping, I’ve been in shock at how amazing the interactions are. AI is part of our life, whether people like it or not. You shouldn’t have to be an eccentric millionaire or a celebrity to have a hologram.”

“Different immersive technologies and AI are the new forms of literacy. Students need to understand what it means to use those, to be in those worlds, to experience them, to interact … and these are all things they’re going to need for their future careers,” said Professor Gary Burnett, who teaches  digital creativity at Loughborough University.

The university’s pro-vice-chancellor, Prof Rachel Thomson, said the “technology could help the university achieve its sustainability strategy by reducing the need to fly in guest speakers and by facilitating international research collaborations, as well as by reducing the amount of material used by students building prototypes in engineering, design and the creative arts.”

The White House Podium

Executive Order From Biden Could Improve How US Colleges Handle Sexual Misconduct

President Joe Biden is potentially going to improve on a Trump Administration policy that weakened how American colleges and universities that receive federal funding handle cases of sexual misconduct and assault accusations on campus, according to administration officials. 

Biden is projected to sign an executive order this Monday that would direct the Department of Education to review certain changes to policies that were implemented by former president Donald Trump. These policies include Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded institutions. 

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While Biden was campaigning he had a major focus on gender equality, and a big piece of that was a commitment to do better at protecting the young women of America who are constantly threatened at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. He promised to strengthen Title IX if he won and “sign a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council,” according to two administration officials.

Biden had the plans to create the council before he even took office as well. The order will direct the DOE to review Title IX, and potentially shift how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct/assault in the future. 

Back in 2018 Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, rescinded an Obama-era policy that made it standard for cases regarding sexual assault to require “preponderance of evidence,” and instead required “clear and convincing evidence” to make an allegation valid. Essentially, colleges and universities needed clear cut evidence that an assault occurred to actually do anything about it. These changes that were enforced by DeVos allowed colleges and universities to get away with ignoring the hundreds of allegations that appear on their campuses every year. 

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“The DeVos changes reduced the liability of colleges and universities for investigating sexual misconduct claims and bolstered the due process rights of the accused, including the right to cross-examine their accusers through a third-party advocate at campus hearings,” according to the Associative Press.

With the DOE now expected to review these policies, it’s expected that Biden is intending to make America’s colleges and universities a much safer place for students, and giving them the security of knowing that should something happen to them, they’ll have all the resources, information, and support they need to make sure they remain safe and the right parties are punished appropriately. 

The White House Gender Policy Council is a resurrection of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which was an Obama-era council that worked to combat issues specifically related to women’s rights. That council was disbanded under Trump, and Biden’s resurrection of it with a new name aims to “acknowledge that inequities can affect people of all genders, however, the council will primarily focus on issues facing women and girls due to the disproportionate barriers they face,” an official claimed. 

According to White House officials, “the new council is tasked with helping push gender equity on the administration’s domestic and foreign policy efforts. Some of the issues the council will focus on include combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps, addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately impacted women and responding to gender-based violence.”

Football on grass

Arrest Warrant Issued for Browns Wide Receiver

New Orleans police have issued an arrest warrant for Odell Beckham Jr. after investigations into allegations of battery against the NFL wide receiver. This follows the release of a video that seemingly shows Beckham slapping a police officer on the backside in the LSU locker room following their victory in Monday’s national title match.

Beckham Jr. spent three collegiate seasons at LSU and was also seen handing out cash to players as they came off the pitch, reports that have been confirmed by the university.

Now 27, Beckham has spent his career embroiled in controversy both on and off the field and the latest developments would not have pleased his side the Browns, who are coming off an ill-disciplined season themselves.

The 6-10 sacked Freddie Kitchens after just one season, a season in which they were tipped for playoff football but instead saw a steady stream of disappointment throughout the year. They now sit with ex-Viking Kevin Stefanski in the head coach position and released a statement after the Beckham news broke:

“We are aware of the incident and have been in touch with Odell and his representatives on the matter. They are cooperating with the proper authorities to appropriately address the situation.”
A further investigation was instigated earlier this week by LSU after footage was released seemingly showing the wide receiver handing out cash to the LSU players following their victory. It’s been suggested that the money was fake and even that Beckham was intoxicated, but the school have now finished their investigation:

“Information and footage reviewed since shows apparent cash may have also been given to LSU student-athletes,” said university spokesman Michael Bonnette.

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“We were in contact with the NCAA and the SEC immediately upon hearing of this situation in which some of our student-athletes may have been placed in a compromising position.”

Whether or not the cash was fake, Odell Beckham Jr. was performing this stunt to mock the amateurism rules of the NCAA. These rules prevent any player taking cash or any other benefits, else risk the removal of their eligibility to play.

This has been dubbed hypocritical by many in recent times as universities and staff can reap the financial rewards that the college game produces, while the players themselves aren’t able to profit at all, even from their commercial likeness.

The incident has been praised by some, but it leaves LSU at risk of sanction by the NCAA. The organisation will investigate whether any LSU staff were involved, or if they could have done something to prevent Beckham’s actions.

Beckham broke onto the scene in 2011 during his freshman year at LSU and after making an impact as both wide receiver and kick returner, and was named a freshman ALL-SEC selection. His second year at LSU opened with a 70-yard punt return, his first of two that season, and ended with the Louisiana-born star forming a formidable partnership with fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Beckham’s next season was a record-breaking one that saw him finish with over 1100 yards and eight touchdowns, not including his 109-yard return after a failed field goal attempt. This success meant the wide-out chose to forego his senior year at LSU and declare for the draft.

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2014 saw Beckham picked up in the first round by the New York Giants, going 12th overall. Despite missing the first four games, he racked up over 1300 yards in the air and scored 12 touchdowns in a season that saw him break multiple rookie records and go to the pro bowl.

The next season also saw him named to the pro bowl as he caught 13 touchdowns and recorded a career-high 1450 receiving yards. Despite remaining injury-free, Beckham only completed 15 games due to a suspension upheld by the NFL after a game against the Carolina Panthers featured multiple aggressive confrontations with Josh Norman.

Beckham made the pro bowl for the third consecutive season in 2016 but it was another year shrouded with controversy. The wide receiver was able to play the full 16 games and help guide the Giants to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. However, the joy was cut short as the Giants fell to the Packers in the wildcard round, after which Beckham punched a hole in the wall of his locker room.

Plagued with injuries, Beckham only managed 16 games overall over the course of the next two seasons with the Giants and at the end of the 2018 season, traded to the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns had seemingly built a roster full of talent such as Beckham and looked set for a good season, but perhaps the personalities in the changing room were too much for young head coach Freddie Kitchens, who failed to control and garner the respect of his players.

The new regime at Cleveland has got off to an unpleasant but predictable start, and Browns fans will be hoping this sort of news can be eradicated and that Odell Beckham Jr. and his fellow stars can stay out of the headlines and get back to playing great football.

Hong Kong Protest

Hong Kong Protests Escalate As 1,000 Citizens Detained at University

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing for several months now and show no signs of slowing anytime soon, and are in fact escalating in intensity as a Hong Kong university was transformed into a battlefield between police and demonstrators, which ended with hundreds of young people jailed. Roughly a dozen protestors remain inside the school after heavily armed police officers surrounded the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, arresting many protestors who eventually surrendered to the authorities. Some students were able to escape without being captured by police by rappelling from a bridge to be rescued by motorbike drivers, while others unsuccessfully attempted to use a sewage pipe to escape. 

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The protests began as a response to proposed legislation to make it easier to extradite Hong Kong residents to China which was feared to impact Hong Kong’s independence and political freedoms. While the legislation in question has since been withdrawn, the aim of the protests has expanded to demand a stronger democracy in Hong Kong, further independence from China, and greater police accountability. The police have escalated their attempts to quell the protestors, using live ammunition on multiple occasions. These actions have only emboldened protesters, who have used bows and arrows and homemade weapons such as molotov cocktails in their ongoing battles with the police. At PolyU, police used tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets against protestors, who retaliated with violence. As the battle at the university concluded, protestors were searched by police and those who were older than 18 were arrested. According to Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, around 200 of the protestors were minors.

The recent events at PolyU resulted in the greatest number of arrests in a single day since the protests began several months ago, and many protesters received serious charges such as rioting and possession of offensive weapons

The dozen protestors who remain, many of whom are high school and university students, have said that they will neither leave the university nor surrender to police, in essence waiting for officers to enter the university and arrest them. Except for the few remaining protesters, the campus has been totally deserted, with debris littered throughout, and unused petrol bombs and pro-democracy grafitti were found on the campus. Roughly 80 people were treated for injuries at the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, and around 200 people were sent to other hospitals. Protesters have set fire to bridges connecting the university to a nearby train station and have destroyed other property as well. The recent events at PolyU resulted in the greatest number of arrests in a single day since the protests began several months ago, and many protesters received serious charges such as rioting and possession of offensive weapons, which carries the threat of serious prison time, leading to reluctance on the part of protesters to surrender to police.

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Last week, protestors clashed with the police at another university, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Over 3,900 Molotov Cocktails were seized at this university, and Kwok Ka-chuen, a spokesman for the police, described the university as a “manufacturing base” for these weapons. At the same time as this drama unfolded at these Hong Kong universities, a Hong Kong court overturned a ban on face masks instituted by Beijing in an attempt to curb the tremendously disruptive protests. The Hong Kong High Court found that this ban violated the constitution of the Hong Kong territory, which is called the Basic Law. The Congress has taken the unusual step of criticizing the court’s decision, saying that the finding “seriously weakened the lawful governing power” of Hong Kong’s government. While this would be an extreme step, the National People’s Congress has the authority to change the Basic Law, meaning they could institute changes that would make the face mask ban legal, potentially having broader implications for civil liberties in the territory generally.