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Can The Secret Of Jon Snow Withstand A Freedom Of Information Act Request?

President Obama’s exclusive knowledge of Game of Thrones’ next season gets challenged

What really happened to Jon Snow? Will Arya get her eyes back? What the hell is Bran doing?!


All these questions and more will be answered in the sixth season of Game of Thrones (or at least we hope they will), but no one — not even TV writers — will get closer to answers until the show returns on April 24th. No one, that is, except the President of the United States. And one Refinery 29 journalist isn’t having it!

In the good old days, the entertainment journalism elite got advance screeners of GoT for reviewing purposes, but as HBO’s head of programming made clear at the beginning of March, the network is not taking any chances when it comes to protecting the secrets of season six. “We’re not sending out press copies this year, anywhere in the world,” Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly. “There will be no copies for review.” That’s a hard and fast policy. No DVDs. No electronic downloads. No password-locked streaming options. Unless, of course, your name is Barack Obama. The Commander in Chief requested early access to the episodes and HBO acquiesced, and now Vanessa Golembewski has filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to get her hands on the protected media.

As Golembewski says in her request, “If the president — and by extension, our government — is in possession of a file, surely that file is subject to my request to see it as a U.S. citizen." And she’s not without a case, because according to the FOIA website, “Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.”

You can find some very detailed information on what comprises those nine exemptions here, but the summary is this: Asking Obama to share his Game of Thrones episodes doesn’t seem to meet any of them! It doesn’t affect someone’s personal privacy, national security or law enforcement practices, and it doesn’t disclose any information about oil wells (the very specific ninth exemption). So, unless you’re afraid the internal operations of a government body will be exposed by the HBO hit series, it looks like you might want to fork over those episodes to Vanessa Golembewski, Mr. President. Because that is how democracy works.

The dead might be coming… but so is this Freedom of Information Act Request.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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