The Juul Epidemic

The electronic cigarette company Juul Labs states its mission as seeking to “improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes.” Unlike cigarettes, their products have not yet been shown to cause cancer, yet they still contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Even though the company markets a healthier alternative for adult smokers, the most troubling usage is in a much younger demographic. According to the Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five high schoolers vaped in September 2018, a 78 percent increase from 2017. Shortly after these warnings, Juul Labs announced that it would suspend the sales of most flavored pods (for smoking e-cigarettes) in more than 90,000 retail stores in the United States except for mint, menthol, and tobacco.

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Florida Grants Felons the Right to Vote

Last week, Florida voted to restore voting rights to as many as 1.4 million people with felony records, a number which includes 500,000 African-Americans. According to the New York Times, Amendment 4 passed with more than the required 60 percent threshold (and 766, 200 signatures were needed to place it on the ballot). Thus, an overwhelming share of voters supported it. The amendment restores voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences, parole, and probation, except for those convicted of murder or sexual assault. In fact, many people said it was the proposed amendment that prompted them to vote. Most Floridians who voted for the amendment were from Democratic counties, but a considerable amount of support came from Republican-leaning counties.

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Why So Many Brazilians Support the Far-Right Candidate

I neither support nor condone many of Jair Bolsonaro’s views, especially those related to homosexuals, people of color, minorities, and women. I believe that Brazil’s ethnic diversity and national pride in its rich cultural heritage define us as a nation. I also believe, however,  that over the past few years it has become a completely different country. After moving to Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I witnessed first-hand the rapid decline in Brazil’s economy. Facing its longest recession in history, the economy suffered eight consecutive quarters of shrinkage. The combination of economic decline, a fearful spike in crime -- with a record-high homicide count of 63,880 people in 2017 -- and corrupt politicians makes it safe to say that Brazil is in a crisis. For these reasons, Brazilian citizens are looking for a last resort, someone to change the country’s course. Many, including myself, believe that right-wing populist candidate Jair Bolsonaro is our only hope.

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