Monday, September 25, 2017

California Boy Killed Trying to Protect Younger Sister from Mother's Abusive Ex-Boyfriend

Link to the article: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/boy-8-killed-protecting-sister-mother-ex-boyfriend-article-1.3519710


Dante Daniels, an 8-year-old boy in California, was brutally beaten (and eventually died from his injuries) with a hammer while trying to protect his 7-year-old sister from their mother's 23-year-old ex-boyfriend, Deandre Chaney Jr. A criminal complaint states that Chaney was molesting Dante's younger sister when the little boy stepped in to help. Although Dante's mother, 28-year-old Elizabeth Salone, and her daughter survived, Salone's left eye was damaged during the attack and will probably never recover. Chaney was arraigned on murder, attempted murder, and charged with lewd acts with a child under 14.

This type of situation makes me wonder whether the death penalty would be an appropriate punishment for Chaney. Last year, Chaney had pleaded no contest to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender, and now he killed an 8-year-old boy who was just trying to protect his 7-year-old sister from being molested by a 23-year-old man. The death penalty would be considered as constitutional in this case since Chaney committed a homicidal crime.

What kind of punishment do you think is appropriate for Chaney? Do you think giving Chaney the death penalty would be appropriate in this case? What can we do to prevent these type of crimes from happening?

ABC News: "181 protestors arrested after disrupting Graham-Cassidy bill hearing"

Article Link: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/protesters-wheelchairs-removed-police-disrupting-graham-cassidy-bill/story?id=50081992


"Capitol Police remove a protestor in a wheel chair from a Senate Finance Committee hearing about the Proposed Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill" (Image via ABC News)

Scores of disabled protestors were removed from the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill hearing on Capitol Hill after shouting "No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!" The session had to be adjourned because of the noise, which angered many of the representatives, including Senate Finainance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, who exclaimed "if you want a hearing -- if you want a hearing, you better shut up."

The majority of these protesters were disabled persons, including blind individuals and individuals in wheelchairs. In a statement after the event, it was reported that "'fifteen demonstrators were arrested and charged with disruption of Congress...143 individuals were arrested after refusing to cease and desist with their unlawful demonstration activities in the hallway. Twenty-three individuals were charged with crowding, obstructing, or incommoding and resisting arrest.'"

The chambers of the Senate Finance Committee are now prepared to consider the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, which would have drastic impacts on the livelihoods of disabled individuals across the nation. In its current state, the bill would be set to retract the insurance that many individuals have under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), which helps insure those who cannot afford insurance from privatized companies. This insurance helps to cover the various medical expenses of those with disabilities, and without it, it is difficult to imagine what position individuals with disabilities would be put into.

Solely focusing on the events at the protests, I believe that this piece of news is related to disability rights, which was a topic that was explored in the Civil Liberties/Civil Rights presentations that some of us conducted in class. Specifically, I believe that this event is connected with the 1st and 14th Amendments, which protect freedom of speech and equal protection, respectively. Under the Equal Protection Clause, disabled individuals are allowed the same constitutional rights as otherwise "normal" individuals, and this includes the freedom of speech that is outlined in the 1st Amendment. While it seems for the most part that the disabled protesters there were able to exercise their right to free speech, they were eventually removed and restricted from protesting. Now, I do not know the full extent of what the protestors were doing, and they very likely could have been violating the law, but if they were not, then the police have no right to arrest them for protesting. Furthermore, it seems inhumane for an individual in a wheelchair, such as the one pictured above, to be dragged in their wheelchair by a police officer against their will, especially since they have no little to no means of resistance. Once again, I do not know the complete circumstances of the protests, but it just seems incorrect for someone in that situation to be dragged against their will, without any physical way of putting up against it.

In my opinion, the disabled protesters had a right to be at the event to protest the healthcare bill, regardless of whether or not they abided by the law. I do not know all of the details of the Graham-Cassidy bill, but what I do know is that it would have huge ramifications for disabled individuals if passed. This issue hits home for me, as I have a disabled brother, and I am sure that if he could, he would be protesting this bill because of the impact that it would have on him.

What are your thoughts?

BBC: Angela Merkel wins German election, "vows to win back right wing voters"

Article Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41384550


Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Yesterday, it was announced that Angela Merkel and her political party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), were successful in winning the German election for chancellor. With this victory, Merkel is set to serve her fourth consecutive term as Chancellor of Germany, where there is no limit on amount of terms in office. Despite Merkel's victory, however, the CDU took "heavy losses" in the parliamentary election. Although the CDU was able to win the greatest amount of seats in parliament (246), this amount is significantly less than they possessed during their last term. Additionally, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a right-wing party in Germany, were able to win parliamentary seats for the first time in history. This serves as a significant setback for the CDU, whose pro-immigration policies are in opposition to the AfD's strict anti-immigration policies. 

This election has various ramifications, both on a domestic and international level for Germany. On a domestic level, the results of this election will impact the formation of a coalition, or alliance, within Parliament, which has been common to occur. In the past, Angela Merkel was able to form an alliance between parties, but this time around it will be increasingly conservative, as both of the right-leaning parties in Germany, the AfD and the SPD, ruled themselves out. This shift will have an impact on the passing of legislation in Germany, especially when it comes to immigration and refugees. Currently, Germany is one of the largest intakes of refugees in Europe, and although this shift in immigration is supported by Merkel, it is heavily opposed by by the AfD, who wish to "fight 'an invasion of foreigners'" into Germany.

On an international level, this election could impact the Brexit, as the Free Democrats Party (FDP), who won a fair amount of seats in the election, openly support Britain and their efforts to leave the European Union. Although the FDP is a part of the conservative group of parties that partner with Merkel and the CDU, this message supporting the Brexit is in conflict with that of Merkel, who is against the movement. Finally, away from Europe, this election could impact Germany's already tense relationship with the United States. In the past, Merkel has been active in denouncing the statements, actions, and decisions of President Donald Trump, who shares some of the same anti-immigration sentiments that Merkel's opponents in Germany possess. With Merkel set to serve her fourth term, it will be interesting to see how the U.S.'s relationship with Germany will progress, and if the emergence of the AfD will have any effect on future cooperation or conflict between the two nations.

Questions:
1. How do you think that this election will impact the United State's relationship with Germany? Will it be beneficial, or detrimental?
2. The AfD's ability to acquire seats in the German parliament is an example of the increasing influence of anti-immigration policies throughout governments across the world. What do you think is causing this trend? Are there any possible consequences of this trend, and if so, what can be done to prevent or combat them? 
3. Merkel is sometimes referred to as the "Europe's Iron Lady" for her consistent electoral victories and her powerful global and domestic presence. Do you think that her fourth consecutive win could have any possible positive impacts on the chances of the election of more female politicians across the world, and specifically in the United States? 

Affordable Care Act Repeal and Replacement Won't Pass

Image URL: https://i.elitestatic.com/content/uploads/2017/05/08113456/Donald-Trump-healthcare-plan-failed.jpg


On Monday, September 25th, GOP senator from Maine, Susan Collins, announced that she would not vote for the repeal and replacement plan of the Affordable Care Act, put in place under the Obama Administration. This came just days after Senator John McCain announced that he would not support the plan either. Both have been huge blows to the seven-year effort by the GOP to end the Affordable Care Act. The reasons for why many prominent Republican leaders oppose the plan vary. Some believe that the bill doesn't change enough of the bill while others believe that the proposed funding is insufficient. It is especially interesting because, due to special budget rules, Republicans are able to pass the bill without any votes from Democrats, but if they lose more than two votes from the 52 republican members in the Senate, then it is game over, and the bill doesn't pass.

This almost certainly failed effort is an example of how divided American politics are. Each state has its own agenda and each senator has their own idea of how to go about completing their agenda for the better of the state and it's people. This inherently leads to difficulty in compromising on the national level, which is what the Constitution intended for. We've learned about how the Constitution intentionally created a system of checks and balances between state and federal power, and this is just another level of the same idea. 

Thoughts?



Reasons Why Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid Decide to Take a Knee


Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez of the NY Times


Eric Reid, strong safety of the 49ers, decided to join Colin Kaepernick, who initially sat on the bench during the national anthem, to take a knee during the national anthem. Reid and Kaepernick chose to kneel instead of sitting on the bench as a peaceful protest against police brutality and oppression towards colored people. Reid compares their kneeling to "a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy". 

Everyone has the right to protest, and this right is identified as a human right. However, there is a necessity for restrictions if the protest is against a race, religion, etc. In Kaepernick's case, he is not protesting against any specific race or group. He is kneeling because he believes that America oppresses people of color, which he does not support. 

Questions:
1. Is it fair that Kaepernick is unemployed for not standing during the national anthem?
2. Do you think kneeling is comparable to flying the flag halfway to recognize a tragedy?
3. Do you think there was any other choice to protest against police brutality that wouldn't risk Kaepernick's employment?

NY Times Article

Amazon's Second Headquarters, Holy Grail for Developing Cities

Image URL: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/marketing/prime/pdp/shipping._CB507235775_.jpg

Amazon, a fast-growing online commerce company based in Seattle, is currently looking for a suitable location for their second headquarters. They are planning to invest $5 billion on this project and create over 50,000 jobs. City officials across the US and Canada are all pitching in and trying to woo Amazon to build the headquarters in their city. Who wouldn't? Fifty thousand jobs and five billion dollars is a enormous amount of jobs and money for a city of any size. The city that ends up winning Amazon over will experience a huge economic boost over just a few years, and then continue to grow gradually after, no doubt.

It isn't just Amazon doing this. Apple and Google are expanding their headquarters and offices have been doing the same over the years right next to us in Silicon Valley. I think that technology companies have had great and substantial impacts on the communities around them for the most part. We can see how gentrification in San Francisco has become a huge problem and the cost of living has risen quite a lot over the past few decades. Even though Amazon's expansion will cause similar problems wherever they decide to build, I still think that it is for the better because the economy of the whole area is improving, giving hundreds of thousands of people new and better opportunities.
What are your opinions on this?

Article links:
Link 1
Link 2

North Korea accuses US of declaring war

BBC News link
Washington Post link
CBS News link


Ri Yong Ho statement on US declaring war and right to shooting down bombers (ASSOCIATED PRESS)


Sarah Huckabee Sanders declaring that the notion of a declaration of war in Trump's speech is "absurd." (Reuters)

 News of Mr. Ri's recent declaration only augment the every heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea, especially due to the recent "war of words" between each country's respective leader. Mr. Ri, North Korea's foreign minister, stated that the comments made by President Trump at the General Assembly and on twitter are to be interpreted as a declaration of war against North Korea. He states that the world should remember the U.S. as being the instigator of a war as well. He goes further to claim that such a declaration of war allows them the right to shoot down U.S. bombers, even outside of North Korea's airspace.

The State Department rejected such claims. Spokeswoman Katina Adams asserted that the U.S. did not declare war and instead still looks for a "peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," and that "no nation has the right to fire on other nations' aircraft or ships in international airspace or waters"

Trump has allowed the Treasury Department to impose more sanctions upon North Korea which would help to defund its relentless nuclear mission. Michael Green from the Center for Strategic and International Studies claims that "North Korea is trying to raise the level of crisis and panic to the point where other U.S. allies will pressure the United States to enter negotiations and make concessions on easing sanctions."

I believe that as of now, this so called war of words is fair cause for worriment, but not to the point of military involvement. However, as stated in the BBC article, if North Korea actually decides to turn words into action and shoot down U.S. bombers outside of their airspace, that would be sign of real trouble, and could escalate quickly from mere verbal threats.


What do you make of Ri's claims– are they worrisome or negligible? Do you believe that North Korea will follow through in their threats of taking down U.S. bombers outside of their airspace? What do you think it will take for this war of words to actually start involving military action? Or will it never get to that point?





FBI: Violent crime increases for second straight year


https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/25/fbi-violent-crime-increases-second-straight-year/699161001/


Crimes in America rose up in 2016. FBI reported a growing priority of the Trump administration. Since his inauguration crimes increased. Officials in Boston said that there was a dangerous spike in violence. Overall violent crime was up 4.1% last year, while murder increased by 8.6%, according to new FBI statistics. Chicago accounts for about 20% of the country's murders. We don't know what is causing this increase in crimes. The nation had to send out warnings, that we are vulnerable to violence which had been at an all time higattacked local communities in the 1980s and 90s. Officials described recent spikes in violence as "a frightening trend that threatens to erode so much progress that had made our neighborhoods and communities safer – over 30 years declines in crime are being replaced by increases."

Questions: 

  1.  Why do you think violent crimes increased so much? 
  2.  What can we do as a nation to try to stop these crimes from increasing so much?






Puerto Rico Is American. We Can't Ignore It Now


Article link


Photo by Erika Rodriguez of the NY Times from Thursday, 9/21

Given all of the devastation from natural disasters over the past month it is important that the U.S. Federal government not overlook Hurricane Maria's damage to Puerto Rico. First Hurricane Harvey drenched Houston, then Hurricane Irma soaked Florida, and most recently Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico. While a lot of Federal dollars have already been committed to recovery efforts in Houston and Florida, Puerto Rico is in worse financial condition than Texas or Florida. Also the damage appears to be worse as the entire island took a direct hit and power will be out for months. Given that nearly half of people were already living in poverty in Puerto Rico, the Federal government must prioritize relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. commonwealth.

Discussion questions:
1. Should the political status of Puerto Rico compared with Texas and Florida effect how much aid they receive from the Federal Government?
2. How do you believe that the U.S. can best support Puerto Rico in their recovery efforts?
3. Do you think the physical rebuilding process could lead to restructuring and improvement of the Puerto Rican economy or is it more likely put the island into an even deeper economic hole?

One inmate is killed and several injured in prison riot near San Luis Obispo

Wikimedia Commons
At the California Men's Colony prison northwest of San Luis Obispo early Sunday morning, one inmate was killed and others were injured in a violent riot. The riot involved 160 men and police intervened immediately spraying the crowd with pepper spray and shooting the inmates with rubber rounds. Nine of the 160 men were taken to the hospital with stab wounds and one inmate died a couple hours later. Authorities are not positive what started the riot and are looking more into the event in the following days.

After hearing about this outbreak, I think it is important for prisons to have high security so events like this never happen. Although we would have to pay for this, I think in the long run it is better for our safety as well as the safety of the guards who can experience a riot like this at any point but better security would prevent a riot to this extent from breaking out.

Article Link: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-prison-riot-20170924-story.html


New York Times: "Kushner Used Personal Email Account for Government Business"

Article Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/24/us/politics/kushner-personal-email.html
Alternate Article Link (story originally reported by Politico.com): http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/24/jared-kushner-private-email-white-house-243071


Jared Kushner, who is the son-in-law and senior advisor to President Donald Trump (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On the same day in which President Donald Trump has been criticized for attacking professional athletes and issuing various new travel bans, it has been reported that his son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, has used a personal email account "'to conduct official government business.'"  The use of the personal account was described in detail by Mr. Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, who claimed that it had been used to send "'fewer than a hundred emails" involving Kushner's colleagues in the White House during the first seven months of the current administration's term. Kushner's lawyer also remarked that the emails sent mainly consisted of "'forwarded news articles and political commentary,'" and that these emails were initiated when individuals sent messages to Kushner's personal account rather than his White House account. 

The emergence of this news seems to draw a clear parallel to the events of the past election, during which President Trump aggressively confronted and exploited Hillary Clinton's use of her own private email account during her time as Secretary of State. Ironically, it now seems as if the tables could have turned on President Trump and his staff. This event will only add to the amount of scrutiny that has been received by the current administration during their time in office. Not only is President Donald Trump under investigation by the F.B.I. for possible collusion with Russia, but Kushner himself has been previously criticized for omitting information about his contacts with Russian officials during the election period. With this new information, it is possible that the F.B.I. will be able to make progress in their investigation and expose new information that will put the Trump administration at more risk than they are currently in. 

Personally, I believe that Kushner's actions must be placed in the same conversation as that of Clinton's past actions, as both individuals used private email accounts to conduct government business. Since President Trump believes that Clinton's actions are punishable by prosecution, then Kushner should be eligible to receive that same punishment; that being said, however, I do not expect Trump to push for Kushner's punishment. Kushner is Trump's family and advisor, so Trump is most likely going to ironically and hypocritically excuse his actions. Either way, the F.B.I. needs to investigate Kushner, just as they did with Clinton.

Questions:
1) What do you believe should be the proper course of action, for both the Trump administration and the F.B.I., to take after the emergence of this news? Should Kushner's actions be dismissed as insignificant, or should he too be investigated by the F.B.I? 
2) If you want to take your response to #1 a step further, answer this: Should Kushner even be allowed to keep his position in the White House? Why or why not?
3) It is clear that there have been some issues with personal email accounts throughout the government in the past and present. Is there anything that can be done to prevent or eliminate such issues? What policies, if needed, should be enacted to ensure the security of government information and the transparency of government officials?


Time ticking to a close on Graham-Cassidy bill

The Graham-Cassidy bill attempts to repeal Obamacare // Wikimedia Commons
The Republicans are scrambling to gain majority support in the Senate for the Graham-Cassidy bill, which would repeal and replace Obamacare, reducing health insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans each year. In order to gain more Republican support, a revised version of the bill was proposed to Republicans Sunday.

There is a clear sense of urgency within the supporters of the bill, as this is likely their last realistic chance to repeal and replace Obamacare. At the beginning of October, any motion to repeal and replace Obamacare will require 60 votes in the Senate to pass, instead of the normal 51-vote majority. CNN said it would be an "impossibility in the current Senate" to get 60 votes.

GOP Sen. John McCain has been a divisive voices for the Republicans, publicly denouncing the bill. His lack of support will make it extremely difficult for the bill to pass in the Senate, especially considering any bill re.

"I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

The bill would cut Obamacare's expansion of coverage to 34 states, per the Washington Post. It would replace this funding with block grants for the individual states, although the grants would only last from 2020 to 2026, when they would expire.

However, one risk of the block grant solution is that states could potentially use the money from the grants for purposes unrelated to healthcare, as states have the discretion to allocate funding from block grants towards causes of their choosing.

Sources:


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trump Administration announces new travel bans

On Sunday, the Trump administration announced an expansion of travel bans on eight new countries. The band will go into effect on October 18th. These new countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yeme and the rules vary by country. This new ban is set to replace the old one signed earlier in this year. Trump stated that these new rules were: "A critical step toward establishing an immigration system that protects Americans' safety and security in an era of dangerous terrorism and transnational crime." Supporters of this act will state that the Trump administrations are just doing all they can to "make America safe again" and preserve national security. While the opposition like The Fourth Circuit court of Appeals,  believes that the ban was "likely unconstitutional" and "drips with religious intolerance"

Do you think that the new travel bans are necessary for national security? How is this beneficial? How will these countries react and what will  the backlash be like?

NFL players unite in protests during national anthem

Many NFL players protested during the national anthems of their Week 3 games // via Wikimedia Commons

Hours after President Donald Trump called athletes who protest during the national anthem a "son of a b***h" and request that they be fired, many NFL players used their Week 3 anthem time to do exactly that: protest.

The Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks all stayed in their respective locker rooms during the anthem. On the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles sidelines, players locked arms, with some electing to kneeling. Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy stretched at midfield while the anthem was being sung. While different teams and players may have demonstrated their opinions differently, they made it clear that they are not satisfied with current state of America.

The Seahawks made a statement in advance of Sunday's game, explaining why they would not come out for the anthem: "We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all."

Other players felt it was important to use their platform to set an example for others. “Lots of people don’t have a voice and I wanted to tell those folks that they’re not alone," said Miami Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas, who kneeled during the anthem for the first time Sunday. "I used my position to try to empower everybody who seeks equality.”

At this time last year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling as a form of political demonstration, citing the oppression that African American people suffer from in the U.S. as his reason for protesting. A year later, Kaepernick still has not been signed by an NFL team, and many analysts have blamed his advocacy, per the Huffington Post.

I can say with the utmost confidence that the extent and magnitude of the anthem protests is great. As Barack Obama said in 2012, ""One of the big unifiers in this country is sports, and football in particular." With such a large following throughout not only the country, but the world, it is amazing to see these athletes, with the platform they have, come together to make such public statements about their political views. Peaceful protests like these are the best way to get one's views across — not through violent protests, like the one we witnessed in Charlottesville a few weeks back.

With the NFL season in action until February, it will certainly be interesting to see how these protests play out. This movement is bigger than football — it sends a message to the millions of viewers each week that peaceful activism is encouraged, especially during this controversial period in American politics and society.

Sources:

WWE wrestler hurls racist jokes at competitor in live taping, Oakland fans shut it down

WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, who made racist remarks at a live taping of WWE Smackdown // Via Wikipedia Commons


Yuvraj Singh Dhesi, a WWE wrestler (and current champion) better known as Jinder Mahal, made racist remarks against his opponent, Shinsuke Nakumora, at a Tuesday night taping at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Mahal mocked cultural Asian speech, saying Nakumora always "rooks" (instead of "looks") the same. He then told Nakumora, "They [the fans] call you Mr. Miyagi," referencing the Japanese karate master from "Karate Kid." He also accused the Bay Area audience of being xenophobic.

But it didn't take long for the Oakland fans to voice their discontent with the situation. They booed Mahal after his insensitive "rooks" comment, and after the Mr. Miyagi reference, the fans chanted in unison, "That's too far One fan could even be heard on T.V. yelling, "That's too racist."

My response to this situation is mostly shock. What's most concerning is that the WWE is scripted, meaning Mahal's monologue had to pass through and be approved by multiple people before making it to the Oracle Arena ring. Sure, Mahal plays a "villain" role on the show, meaning his job is to be disliked by the crowd, but there are many other ways for him to attract heat from the fans.

It is unfortunate how racism has become so normalized in society that it is now being openly displayed on a family program ("Smackdown" is rated PG, meaning it is typically appropriate for most children). According to WWE.com, of the 11 million weekly WWE viewers, 17 percent are under 18 years old. With such a heavy youth fanbase, the WWE should be promoting equality, diversity and acceptance, not demonstrating racism.

Mahal's words don't necessarily cross any legal boundaries, as his freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. However, there are limitations to the First Amendment that one could argue were violated by Mahal. In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court established that "fighting words" — defined as "words that by their very utterance inflict injury, [and] speech that incited an immediate breach of the peace." But seven years later, in Tarminiello v. Chicago, it was established that denouncing political or ethnic groups is not, in fact, "fighting words," as "[The] function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute," the majority from the case said. "It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging."

So while Mahal didn't cross a legal line, he certainly crossed a moral one. While it is great that the Oakland fans called him out for his wrongdoing, it is frankly embarrassing that the WWE let this slip-up happen in the first place. We need to be actively denouncing racism, not demonstrating it on public platforms.

The View on Racism in the US

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/16/politics/blacks-white-racism-united-states-polls/index.html


After the Charlottesville incident last weekend and Trump's responses to it, a lot of question have submerged back into our lives. Trump gave a speech and was blaming both sides. The article explains how most Americans are against white supremacist ideas. In the past few years, there was a realization that different racial background affects the way discrimination is seen. Minorities see discrimination very differently then majorities do. For example, the article says how African American people experience discrimination a lot more than white American people do. African Americans will, therefore, see a lot of discrimination in America while white Americans will believe there is little discrimination in our country. In a research done by the Public Religion Research Institute, they found that 39% of white Americans think that there is serious prejudice against minorities while 66% of nonwhite Americans think the same thing. Polls seem to show that many Americans think that Trump's campaign and presidency are making a difference about the prejudices in the U.S. They think that prejudice is worse under Trump's presidency.

Questions:

  1. How big do you think discrimination is towards minorities? 
  2. In what ways can we try to stop discrimination in the U.S?
  3. Do you think discrimination against minorities has become worse under Trump's Presidency?
Connection: Although the U.S has a lot of discrimination, people use their 1st amendment to speak up against it. Without the first amendment, we wouldn't be so aware of discrimination and how much it really affects others. The first amendment allowed us to read and inform ourselves about discrimination and it allows people to speak against it, and stand up for their rights. 


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Trump won't reveal what his decision on the Iran deal is

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/20/politics/donald-trump-iran-deal-decision/index.html


Donald Trump met with Mahmoud Abbas (President of Palestinian Authority) to discuss and decide what he would do about the Iran Nuclear Deal that we had placed with the Obama administration. Although he has decided what he wants to do, he does not seem to want to share his decision just yet. Although we expect Trump to extend the sanctions relief, Trump has hinted that he is more likely to leave the deal. He says: "Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it -- believe me,". The Iranian President has threated the US. He said that we will "pay high cost" for leaving the deal. Trump administration is wrapping up a months-long review of US policy towards Iran. Trump has also urged Palestine and Israel to come together and have a peace deal during his meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. Trump seems to be going for a multitude of changes that could go many ways for our country. Although there is not much information about his official decision we can take a guess based on what he has said and think that he wants to drop the deal which may or may not have severe consequences. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Do you believe it is better for the U.S to leave the deal or extend it? 
  2. The Iranian President said that the US will "pay high cost" if we leave the deal; how should we, and our government react to those threats? 

President Trump says Stephen Curry’s White House invitation has been ‘withdrawn’

Article Link




          Recently, Coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors told ESPN that the warriors were going to sit down and discuss whether or not to make the celebratory trip to the White House in light of their NBA title. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant had already expressed their aversion to going, which Curry reinforced during the Warrior's media day telling reporters, "we don’t stand for basically what our president … the things that he said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right terms that we won’t stand for it. And by acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to." Whether or not Trump ever officially invited the Warriors to the White House, he disinvited them all the same, expressing distaste toward's Curry's aforementioned opinion. The Warriors responded with a statement of acceptance but disappointment, noting that their upcoming visit to Washington will "celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion–the values that we embrace as an organization." 
          Trump had recently mentioned distaste towards other sports-related happenings, specifically the NFL players' national anthem protests. He stated, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—-  off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!". 
          There are some teams and coaches, such as Patriots owner Robert Kraft, that have supported the president. Others, such as coach Roy Williams of North Carolina – who denied a celebratory visit to the White House, have expressed the opposite. 

          In my opinion, the 1st amendment is involved with each case. With the national anthems it's clear. These individuals are fighting to protect their rights secured to them by the Equal Protection Clause and The Civil Rights Act of 1964, and utilized their freedom of expression to do so – and yet, they're being punished for it. Those that merely chastise the protestors for disrespecting our nation fail to see that the protection that our brave veterans fought for is granted towards all of this country's citizens. Police brutality is a very contentious issue that these brave individuals are willing to address. In terms of Curry, he utilized his first amendment right of freedom of speech in light of the same cause outlined by the anthem protestors. This country isn't distributing its constitutional rights equally among its citizens, and that is what these people are trying to change.

Do you believe that Stephen Curry is doing the right thing, or is he being disrespectful? Is Trump's response appropriate or exaggerated? Is Trump justified in his criticism of the national anthem protests? 

How has the perception of the White House changed since Trump took office? 





  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trump announces new financial sanctions against North Korea

Tensions between North Korea and the United States have been extremely high over the past few years. North Korea has continuously developed their nuclear and missile weaponry which has become such a threat to the United States that Trump has now decided to take action. During his speech, he went on to say "North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime...". With that, Trump has officially announced financial sanctions against North Korea and all countries who do business with them. Compared to the United States, North Koreas economy is rather small and countries will most likely go along with the United States. This is Trumps attempt to try and control the situation and gain support from other nations.

Not only have his sanctions angered North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, but his comments have added fuel to the fire. Kim Jong-Un has vowed to get revenge against Trump for the comments made. With the huge nuclear threat that was already present, this could be bad news for America. Should Trump have spoken about North Korea with disrespect? Has this helped the nuclear problem or just added more of a reason for us to become a target?



North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘a Frightened Dog’ and ‘Dotard’

Article Link


Tensions between the United States and North Korea seem to be heating up as the leaders of both nations continue to verbally assault one another in the public eye.  After President Trump's recent comments made about Un, made at the United Nations General Assembly, calling him "Rocket Man" and threatening to "Totally destroy North Korea" if the situation demanded it, Un has said that these comments have not fallen on deaf ears.  In retaliation, Un has likened Trump a frightened dog, and stated that he will "make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the DPRK."

This extremely ominous comment has very dangerous connotations.  Could this feud between leaders take us down a deadly path? Will the sanctions made by the UN be enough to halt North Korea's nuclearization? 

Personally, I believe the first step is to quit the verbal attacks made on social media or published.  I think when dealing with a potentially dangerous situation some amount of decorum is needed and we should not resort to name calling and blatant threats.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More than 230 dead in Mexico quake as rescue teams desperately try to free trapped children

Article Link
rescuers looking for survivors in Mexico city (9/19/17)

The recent catastrophic 7.1 earthquake –the second one in the last month– that devastated Mexico city and surrounding areas has been said to have resulted in the death of at least 230 people and destroyed at least 44 buildings this past Tuesday. Mexico City is built on a former lake bed, therefore the soil isn't strong, making the city more susceptible to devastation. Programs such as Save the Children in Mexico and many other volunteers have been trying to help the authorities in their rescue missions. Trump expressed his condolences and offered assistance in deploying search and rescue teams. The U.S. department of state also stated that "we stand ready to provide assistance should our neighbors request our help." One primary school in particular collapsed, causing the deaths 21 children and 4 teachers. Due to the dire efforts of rescue workers, 11 people have been rescued, but 2 students and 1 teacher still remain missing. They also located 5 people 10 feet under the debris using a thermal scanner. Another building that was drastically effected by the earthquake is Mexico city's airport, in which shocked and panicked crowds were running to escape the falling debris.




What do you believe might be the best options toward attending to the psychological detriment that many people are facing in Mexico and surrounding middle-american countries? Do you think the United States should provide more assistance? How long do you think it will take Mexico to recuperate their losses and recover from the shock of the now multiple earthquakes? Do these earthquakes make you more afraid of the possibility of a long-due earthquake happening here in the bay area in the near future?




Puerto Rico in dark, curfew set after island 'destroyed' by Hurricane Maria, officials say

Article Link



The most recent in a string of natural disasters, Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and devastated much of the infrastructure of the island.  Puerto Rico's office of emergency management confirmed that 100% of the island had lost power, and although Maria has caused a significant amount of destruction, no deaths have been reported so far.  Abner Gomez Cortes, the director of the office of emergency management and disaster administration agency, provided a relevant connection to what we have been studying recently when he said "We will rebuild our island with federal and state funds, hard work and the spirit of all Puerto Rican citizens."  After this disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has released availability to a number of families in need of assistance.  Grants like this from the federal government show one of the important uses of having two levels of government; in an emergency situation a state (or territory) is able to rely on federal funding as well as the state governments own wealth.  

Do you think any more can be done to help the citizens of Puerto Rico, and all of the other places that have been hit by recent environmental disasters?  Do you think any more should be done?


Monday, September 18, 2017

Three arrested in violent Georgia Tech protests after police shoot student

There was a horrendous nightmare in Atlanta, Georgia, which soon turned into a violent outbreak. Late Saturday night, Scout Schultz, the head of the Georgia Pride Alliance, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police because he had possession of a knife. On Monday, Georgia Tech held a vigil to remember the one they lost anticipating it would be a peaceful way to remember Scout Schultz. Later that evening 50 students left the vigil and headed towards the Tech police headquarters where they physically attacked police and set fire to police cars. In the end, three students were arrested and two police officers received only minor injuries.

This is related to what we are learning in government because according to the second amendment, all individuals have the right to bear arms, constitutionally making what the police did to be okay. Although the police officer may have been defending himself, it doesn’t justify the immediate use of violence. There could have been an alternative way to restrain Scout if he was a threat, rather than shooting him. I believe what happened to Scout Schultz was horrible and the way it was handled was even worse. There needs to be a tight enforcement of the rules in both cases so nothing like this ever happens again. Do you believe both sides are to blame or does one stand out more than the other?


Link to article: http://www.ajc.com/news/three-arrested-violent-georgia-tech-protests-after-police-shoot-student/CVfX0KeBUlTPzYLCf3KnwO/

Trump Tweets Doctored GIF of His Golf Ball Hitting Hillary Clinton

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/us/politics/hillary-golfball-trump-tweets.html

On Sunday Morning, (9/16) President Trump retweeted a GIF of him hitting a golf ball that strikes Hillary Clinton.  This isn’t the first time Trump has tweeted a risky GIF; in the past he has shared images of a train hitting a cartoon person with the CNN logo over its head and another of him body slamming a figure with the CNN logo.  His tweet has received a lot of criticism with people accusing him of “chipping away at the dignity of the office.”  On the other hand, supporters address the critics saying: “Get a sense of freaking humor. Everyone on the LEFT defended stupid Kathy Griffin when she held a "severed" head & said it was comedy.”

Do you think the President’s tweets can be compared to Kathy Griffin’s (a comedian) tweets? Does it matter that Griffin is a comedian and Trump isn’t? Should it matter? This connects back to the topic of free speech and hate speech we have been discussing in class.  Where does this fall in terms of free speech and hate speech?  Where do you draw the line between the two?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Irma's damage a reminder of Florida economy's vulnerability

For years Florida's economy has flourished from its range of industries that include tourism, ports, business services, health care and most importantly the people, nearly adding 1,000 individuals to the population every day. However, once Hurricane Irma hit, the realization from individuals that global warming is a real issue that quite possibly can continue and become worse, will ultimately hurt the economy. From the rising sea levels, more individuals will have to move inland, driving the price of living way up and the time waiting in traffic much longer. Nonetheless, there is also a belief that the low taxes and easier living will continue to drive people from all over to live in the sunshine state. Although the costs of fixing the damages will be over 50 billion, the overall impact the hurricane had on the people and their homes may hurt Florida's economy in the long run.

I think the hurricane was a warning bell to Florida for what can come next if nothing is done. I believe it is important for those living on the coast to move inland because of global warming and the melting glaciers. Although the state of Florida is relieved the cost of repairing the state is less than anticipated, many individuals lost their homes that were filled with memories and loved ones, which is something that can't be replaced. Florida will continue to remain a popular destination for vacationers but as for the protection of the people, there needs to be a significant change. 

Article link: 

http://www.wacotrib.com/townnews/economics/irma-s-damage-a-reminder-of-florida-economy-s-vulnerability/article_8afc6d04-b02c-5d2d-bfb7-56cc0879ef6a.html