Don't Know Much About Current Events?

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (16)

news-basics.jpgDoes health care reform confuse you? Believe in global warming, but don’t really know why? Want to learn more about Russian espionage? (For that, you have to read all the breaking stories on Baristanet–News-Basics doesn’t plan to cover it.) Well a Montclair dad of two has created a website that explains those things and more in a clear and concise way. It’s sort of “cliff notes” for current events.
Michael Laser, published novelist and writer, admitted to feeling a little unknowledgeable when it came to certain current event topics. After overhearing his teenager talking to friends and realizing that young people don’t really know all the facts of current events, especially presented in an impartial way, he created News-Basics.
This summer, the website will start offering lesson plans and quizzes for teachers to use in the classroom. News-Basics aspires to be different from other sites, such as Wikipedia, by offering key facts in a clear, concise and impartial way. Students (and their parents) can use News-Basics as a starting point of their research to get a good, basic understanding of a topic and then, if needed, move on to sources with more detailed information, which are provided in the articles.
News-Basics will continue to be updated with topics and valuable teaching tools for use in the classroom. Want to suggest a topic for News-Basics to cover? Email here.


  1. POSTED BY cmeinmontclair  |  June 29, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    You MUST be kidding,”presented in an impartial way” Just a quick glance at healthcare & global warming — this information comes from such a biased point of view it’s ridiculous!!
    “Nearly all scientists agree that this warming trend exists. ”
    NO THEY DON’T! Since 1940s the earth has been cooling — and the only scientists who say it is warming are basing that on distorted records.
    Healthcare reform is a joke! He lists all the ‘talking points’ from the Obama administration as if they are fact. Fact is, the reform bill that was crammed down our throats is a disaster for our economy — and was not the prudent way to reform our healhcare system.
    I can’t wait to see his entry on cap & trade. Keep your biased ‘news’ to yourself thank you!

  2. POSTED BY tudlow  |  June 29, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    You need to brush up on your current events a bit, cme. Do you know what a scientific consensus is?
    consensus |k?n?sens?s|
    noun [usu. in sing. ]
    general agreement : a consensus of opinion among judges | [as adj. ] a consensus view.
    There is a scientific consensus that the earth is warming and that human activity has contributed significantly to this warming. I’m sure this video will bore you to tears but if you truly want to educate yourself before you proclaim that warming does not exist (based on…..what…..what bloggers say?), watch video or any in this series. The first two videos actually explain the science of climate change rather well. Sure, there are some climate scientists that don’t believe in anthropogenic warming but a consensus exists. To argue there is not is just ridiculous.

  3. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 29, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

    Another dumb idea.
    You want to know what’s up in the world, want to stay abreast of current events, know who the players are?
    The answer is simple: Read the NYTimes everyday. Period. You can breeze through the daily in about 30-60 mins. depending upon the day and your interests. The weekend is a joy.
    Biased? Sure, but it’s coverage is still top notch. And anyone with half a brain can tell the difference between opinion and fact.
    Throw in some WNYC/NPR, and you’ll be informed, smart and witty (like a certain prof I know).
    (I could list the go to blogs, but that’s overkill.)

  4. POSTED BY cmeinmontclair  |  June 29, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    You are ridiculous tudlow — and you believe the hype. It’s based on faulty data & one day it WILL be shown to be the farce it is.
    and oh yes, I want to go to the NY Slimes for my news! You have to kidding! Ever hear of the Wall Street Journal?

  5. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 29, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    I read the Journal Opinion page daily (LOVE Peggy Noonan), not gonna pay for it daily though.
    But anyone- right or left- who would refer to the Times as you do is trapped in a corner and will never come out.
    Though I’m not a believer in global warming as dictated by Mr. Gore and friends.

  6. POSTED BY walleroo  |  June 30, 2010 @ 7:59 am

    The answer is simple: Read the NYTimes everyday. Period.
    I imagine The World According to Prof as a quiet garden enclosed by a brick wall with ivy growing on it. It is a place where the prof is always right, the New York Times is always delivered promptly and the article you’re reading never jumps to the B section.

  7. POSTED BY walleroo  |  June 30, 2010 @ 8:04 am

    I hate to be the one to put it to you, cmein, but the only people who hold the opinion that human activity has had nothing to do with the warming trend of the past 50 years or so are truly on the lunatic fringe. It’s not quite as bad as being a flat-earther, but it’s embarassingly close.

  8. POSTED BY Schooled  |  June 30, 2010 @ 8:27 am

    While I agree with your suggestion that we keep up with current events the old-fashioned way, my understanding is that this site is aimed at teens and those who just want to get a basic run-down of the news. I think it’s meant to pique interest to encourage deeper reading. As the “about” page says, there are loads of sites that aggregate the news (and many call it reporting), but this one seems very simply organized and set-up.
    Considering that most news outlets – print and otherwise – are feeling pressure to sensationalize and marginalize to attract audiences and page hits, I applaud anything that will help those who care a little bit to care more. Maybe it will even stimulate interest in the dying art of research. (Not that the site is completely altruistic, but those Google ads aren’t going to pay out much anyway.)

  9. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 30, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    Mr. Roo,
    What? Do you watch the local news only? Where, strangely, the days news ALWAYS seems to fit into 22 minutes?
    Or are you a cable news junkie? I don’t really consider that much in terms of learning anything about a subject.
    So rather than be jealous of those of us who value good news from reliable (and sometimes biased) professional journalist, try it. You may even find that for many non-ivy living folks, the NYTimes IS their daily paper (albeit, without the funnies). As for always being right, forgive me if I have a well-rounded understanding of many issues and activities (a diverse education and curiosity will do that, you know). To that, would you suggest one always believes THEY ARE WRONG?
    That sounds like a winning prospect!
    As for you Schooled, I stand corrected. Though, reading through the site, I wonder how ultimately it differs from wiki? At least with wiki, on many subjects, you will find a back and forth because of its openness (and despite my feeling about it as a research method, it’s footnotes can be valuable).
    Moreover, like hiding veggies and all that, it used to be that families spent time together and parents would talk and inform their kids about current events without having to farm it out to others. Likewise, schools used to handle this too.
    I guess times have changed– Kids, use this site to get your education…. Excuse me, pique your interest…

  10. POSTED BY cmeinmontclair  |  June 30, 2010 @ 10:39 am

    Roo — So the fact that one volcano or a forrest fire emits more CO2 than humans do in a year doesn’t seem a little odd to you? 96% of all CO2 emissions are from natural sources, mankind is responsible for only about 3%. Removing every car from every road in every country overnight would NOT produce any change in the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere! Changes in the activity of the sun cause temperature changes on earth, with any temperature rise causing CO2 to de-gas from the oceans. Cooling & warming trends are cyclical, expected — plants & animals need CO2 to survive!
    That’s not to say we shouldn’t be kind to the earth, recycle, don’t litter, turn off the lights and don’t waste. But to believe in this mass hysteria theory that only exists to promote a political agenda is what’s “not quite as bad as being a flat-earther, but it’s embarassingly close.”
    Plenty of BRILLIANT people think they way I do, so to call my beliefs some lunatic fringe is really naive on your part. There are nearly 18,000 signatures from scientists worldwide on a petition called The Oregon Petition which says that there is no evidence for manmade global warming nor for any impact from mankind’s activities on climate. MANY scientists believe that the Kyoto agreement was a complete waste of time and one of the biggest political scams ever perpetrated on the public.
    If the science is sooo sound, why won’t Al Gore answer questions, why doesn’t Obama put together a truly unbiased panel of scientists to thoroughly investigate BOTH sides of the argument? why; because they don’t want this theory exposed to be the farce that it is. It’s what this administration is going to rely on to cram cap & trade down our throats — watch the lame duck congress try to pass it from november – january. This radical agenda is hurting our economy so badly — THAT’S what’s frightening.

  11. POSTED BY tudlow  |  June 30, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    cme, your rant sounds like Limbaugh’s talking points against global warming. You, sir (or madame…not sure) have been duped. The Oregon Petition is complete hogwash, completely irrelevant for so many reasons: A lot of the names were not real, a small proportion of the “real” signatures are not those of people that hold a PhD and of the people that do actually hold a PhD, few of them actually have a degree in climate science. An analogy would be a group of podiatrists that signed a petition stating that they do not agree with a consensus from cardiologists that high cholesterol increases heart disease. And only about 2% of podiatrists signed the petition.
    And seriously, who cares what Al Gore says? He is not a scientist. This is SCIENCE. Look to the SCIENTISTS who have expertise in the field not some talking head who will do anything to fight regulating industry. Read scientific literature, not whatever biased news source you seem to turn to. Don’t understand the consensus statements in Science and Nature, which are two of the most respected scientific journals? Then consider the fact that no scientific body of international standing in the world holds a dissenting position.
    You do not have a solid understanding of science and of how progress in the field is made. You are correct that plants need CO2 to survive. Carbon fixation is the process in which plants turn inorganic C (from CO2) into an organic compound for food (i.e., a sugar). But more is not better like you seem to be arguing. In marginal habitats, like a desert, water is the limiting resource that determines growth, not CO2. And in temperate habitats, Nitrogen is the limiting resource for plant growth. And like the video that I linked to explained, the cycle of the sun does not explain the recent warming trend. (Or did you not watch it because it actually was too scientific for you?)
    And lastly, if there is ever convincing evidence that the warming of the earth is not due to man, then the field of climate science will change its theory. Because that’s how science works. Data needs to be collected, summarized and interpreted and then is written up and subjected to the peer review process. It works beautifully. Scientists love to find flaws in other people’s work but if a body of evidence has withstood the scrutiny like what has happened with anthropogenic global warming, then a consensus is reached. And you are, without a doubt, on the lunatic fringe like my favorite smart arse walleroo stated. But I sense your mind is made up not because you actually possess some kind of scientific understanding but because of your political beliefs. That is sad.

  12. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  July 01, 2010 @ 7:13 am

    I’m skeptical only because I, like tudlow, believed that “scientist” were pure in their “science.”
    I now realize they are just like everyone else- political beings.
    This was clear after the famous email episode.
    Sadly, that has given the lunatics a basis for their based-on-political-view sense of Global Warming.
    For those like me, who were never convinced in the first place (and please don’t tell me to get a Ph.D in something so I can “understand” this), reading the accounts of these scientist and their selective and, it seems fraudulent use of data did not help matters.
    So I’m against the big Cap and Tax, but I support reasonable reductions in carbon emissions not because of global warming, but because of pollution in general.
    AND that is why I support nuclear energy, which oddly, many environmentalist are against. If we could start building them, and get electric cars working well, ALL this will be answered.
    It will, which is why I don’t stress out over this stuff- it, like social security (because of the number of kids in America) will be solved.

  13. POSTED BY cmeinmontclair  |  July 01, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    Tudlow, read prof’s comment slowly, because it makes a lot of sense.
    And by the way, WHEN it is proven beyond doubt that all of this manmade global warming hysetria is nothing more than a political means to an end, I hope you are man/woman enough to admit you were duped.
    Just to clear up a few facts…accurate and representative temperature measurements from satellites and balloons show that the planet has cooled significantly in recent years, losing in less than two years 15% of the claimed warming which took over 100 years to appear — that warming was only one degree, and part of this was a systematic error from groundstation readings which are inflated due to local heat retention b/c of urban sprawl, not global warming!
    Ever hear of the journal ‘Science’? A recent study used information from ice cores with high time resolution showing that since the last ice age, every time when the temperature and carbon dioxide levels have shifted, the CO2 change happened AFTER the temperature change, so the manmade global warming theory has put effect BEFORE cause — this shows that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a futile exercise! What’s more, both water vapour and methane are far more powerful greenhouse gases than CO2 but they are ignored.
    You believe what you want — I believe what I do and only time will tell. I repeat myself, there are PLENTY of SCIENTISTS who refute this political engineered ‘theory’ — only they don’t get press b/c the liberal media has completely bought into it. Thousands of accredited scientists signed The Oregon Petition — but of course you spout the liberal argument against it. Bury your head Tudlow — just pray cap & tax doesn’t pass.
    And just for the record, you should try listening to Rush — you might learn something (oh yeah, you’re liberal, you don’t listen to logical arguments, I forgot)

  14. POSTED BY tudlow  |  July 02, 2010 @ 8:39 am

    Cme, the scientists involved in “climategate” were cleared by independent invedtigators at East Anglia and at Penn State. The public seems to forget that because climategate has been burned into its consciousness despite the fact that it as a scandal has been completely debunked. That’s exactly what someone like Rush desired–setting public opinion before the truth is revealed. But you’ll keep holding on to that irrelevant Oregon petition because it’s all you have. Talk about burying one’s head…wow. First you claim that there is no warming and then that CO2 is actually good for the planet so let’s add some more and then you get down to the meat of the matter….economics. I’ve argued with people like you before regarding creationism and intelligent design and it’s a waste of time. The only reason it’s worth any effort at all is because there is a chance that someone on the fence might read and believe your drivel. Who in their right mind would turn to Rush Limbaugh for an objective opinion about climate science??? He is an entertainer with an agenda. I’ve gotten my information from university professors and the scientific literature.
    Prof, I’m on vacation right now but I do find your philosophical argument about the objectivity of science very compelling. Humans created science–it is a social construct, yes– to make sense of the world we live in. Bias can be introduced just by what questions are even asked and what data are presented. I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve authored papers for peer reviewed journals and I’ve also reviewed journal articles. A safety measure in controlling bias is that nothing is accepted in the scientific community unless it is replicated many times over and like I mentioned previously, scientists are critical and competitive by nature and readily point out others’ mistakes. Papers are written up and methods are explained in enough detail so that anybody can conduct the same study/experiment. It’s a very effective way to control bias.
    I could go on and on because I find this topic so interesting and I’m passionate about it but we’ve got to hit the road soon for those NC beaches. Happy Fourth to you!

  15. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  July 02, 2010 @ 9:19 am

    Enjoy!! And Happy Fourth to you also!!!
    In a perfect world, or one that doesn’t have such a volitle issues as global warming, I would agree with how peer reviews SHOULD work.
    But we both know that group think in many areas rules that day. And those pesky emails seem to confirm this.
    Oh, well.

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