Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fraternities Lobby For Less Regulation for Campus Assult Trials

The Fraternity & Sorority Political Action Committee, “FratPAC,'' and other Greek Life groups are trying to persuade Congress to make colleges unable to suspend fraternities on campuses because of sexual assault incidents. They plan on bringing students to capitol hill on April 29th, in order to push their agenda, which aims at making it harder for sexual assault investigations to take place. FratPAC has also lobbied for Congress to repeal anti-hazing legislation. 

Activists claim that fraternities are negative environments that allow for assaults to be commonplace. However, not everybody feels this way. Harvard and University of Pennsylvania claim that the trials for the assault suspects are too harsh against the accused. “University disciplinary boards can take action, including suspensions or expulsions, far more quickly than courts and, unlike criminal proceedings, don't require a finding ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ To sanction a student, allegations must be found more likely than not to be true.”

Many are also appalled by FratPac’s agenda. They claim that if assaulters had to go through the judicial courts it would take too much time. "The criminal justice system has been a virtual failure in its ability to address sexual assault,' said Kevin Kruger, president of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, who is against the FratPac agenda. 

This brings together the growing number of fraternity assault cases that are in the news all too regularly. Do you think that Congress should pass laws for less regulation for sexual assaults? Should the sexual assault suspects be given a different form of trial? Would something like this even pass Congress?

Pelosi, Boehner Rekindle Bipartisanship With $214 Billion Medicare Deal

Recently, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have come to an agreement on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. This $214 billion package would close the massive funding gap in the current Medicare, impose long-term spending cuts, and extend health care for poor children. The bill is appealing to both parties in that the Democrats support the two-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, while the Republicans support its $70 billion offset. The bill has been unanimously voted into a Thursday floor vote by the House Rules Committee; however, some of the Democrats in the Senate are a bit wary with the details and have yet to make a decision on how they feel about the bill.

In general, the bipartisan agreement is well-received by both Congress and the president, as it is quite a change from the usual split between the Democrats and the Republicans. President Barack Obama is very pleased by the developments— this sentiment somewhat ties back into his hopes of seeing more bipartisan agreement, as expressed in this year's State of the Union address.

What are your opinions and thoughts on this bill? Do you support the plans laid out so far, why or why not? Will this bill most likely benefit or hurt the public?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

San Jose Police Officer Killed Tuesday Night

 Officer Michael Johnson, a 14-year veteran San Jose police officer, was killed Tuesday, March 24, 2015, after he responded to an apartment complex in the

Tuesday night a veteran San Jose police officer, Michael Johnson, was killed while investigating a suicide attempt. This was the first death in the San Jose police department in 14 years. The last police death in San Jose was a man who was in Johnson’s training group in the police academy.

Police soon identified the suspect as Scott Dunham, the man who was the subject of the suicide attempt. This then led to a massive investigation in order to find him. With the collaboration of neighboring police forces, investigators broke into Dunham's apartment with explosives and used a robot to find his dead body. Police are still unsure as to how Dunham died. It is possible that he was injured during a gunfight between him and the slain officer.

"This person had the nerve, the audacity, to shoot at our officers who were on a call for assistance," said San Jose police Chief Larry Esquivel. It was confirmed that Dunham was drinking. Although considered a “nice man” he did have a history of mental illness and abuse.

In all, this tragic event can tie back to many common themes in the news. It seems to be more common to have a mistrust in the police as police deaths are becoming more evident in the media. In addition, it brings to light issues with gun violence in America. Would this have happened if there were stricter gun laws? Since Dunham had a history with violence, should he have been allowed to obtain a gun license?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Deadly Crash in the French Alps

Flight 4U 9525 crashed in the French Alps between Digne and Barcelonnette. The flight travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has no survivors. There were several Spanish citizens, Opera singers and their families, and 16 German students coming home from study abroad on the 150 passenger plane. The flight was conducted by Germanwings, which is owned by Lufthansa.

The pilot sent out no distress signal as the plane descended down to its rapid crash. Bruce Robin, a prosecutor from Marseille said, "The body of the plane is in a state of destruction, there is not one intact piece of wing or fuselage.” Although the reason for the crash is unknown, officials say it is not linked to terrorism and most likely caused by mechanical errors. The pilot has worked for the airline for 10 years and has always been seen as trustworthy. Investigators are still working on piecing together more flight information from the in-flight recordings and the “black box” in the plane.

It seems as though plane crashes are popping up more frequently in the news. With this in mind, should there be more regulations to an already heavily regulated industry? Will people stop flying on airplanes in fear of a deadly crash? What would that mean for the air travel industry?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Starbucks ditches #RaceTogether campaign on its US coffee cups

Tweet of pictures of white hands holding 'race together' Starbuck cups

Recently Starbucks has started a trend where baristas will write “Race Together” on cups to signify the “diversity and racial inequality”. This has been seen by consumers to be rather awkward and “opportunistic and inappropriate”.

This campaign was originally launched after the Ferguson shooting. The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, acknowledges that this is trend is not widely accepted. Now Starbucks is dropping the campaign completely.

Many people that were interviewed said they felt uncomfortable talking about race when getting coffee or it was really awkward in general. I agree that this may not be the right place to talk about race but this issue does have to acknowledged. Do you think Starbucks was on the right track in publicizing the issue of diversity and racial inequality? Was it simply that this happened in Starbucks that caused people to dislike the movement? If Starbucks is not the right place to bring up this real issue what is the right place?

Indiana Congress Set to Pass Controversial Freedom of Religion Legislation

Charlie Nye / The Star

The Indiana House passed a bill concerning religious freedom for businesses. It essentially allows business owners to deny services to same-sex couples based on their religious freedoms. It is likely that this bill will pass the Senate and the Governor of Indiana will sign it. For obvious reasons, this bill is controversial because it would allow for discrimination against gays and lesbians.

This relates to Hobby Lobby’s exemption from the contraception part of the Affordable Care Act. Both the Hobby Lobby Court case and the Indiana bill were based on a law called the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Both local companies such as Salesforce and gay rights groups have expressed opposition to this bill. Supporters like Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville claim that people deserve religious freedoms in the workplace as well.

Campaign Manager for Freedom Indiana said, "We turn our attention now to Governor Pence who, like Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona, has the ability to stop this dangerous bill dead in its tracks when it hits his desk," Even so, Pence, Governor of Indiana, will likely sign the bill as he has continued to express support of it.

What do you think of the bill? Do you think it will be challenged in Supreme Court? If it passes, will more states follow the example?

Ted Cruz Announces Presidential Bid

“Sam I am, that Sam I am that Sam I am, I do not like that Sam I am, Do you like green eggs and ham?”

Sound familiar? You probably remember this as the words to the famous Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham, but these were the exact words said by Ted Cruz, a republican senator, in his famous Affordable care act filibuster in 2013. But now Ted Cruz has announced he is joining the race to become the next president.

In a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal “40 percent of GOP primary voters said they could see themselves supporting Cruz for president, while 38 percent said they could not see themselves backing him.” Being most famous for his filibuster in 2013, do you feel voters will look at Cruz in a different light? And with such an early announcement to join the presidential race, how do you think this will affect Cruz’s presidential campaign?

Obama turns up the heat on Loretta Lynch confirmation 'limbo'

Obama has nominated Loretta Lynch to serve as attorney general. But it has been 4 months and the senate has yet to have a vote for Lynch to become the attorney general. Obama says to the Huffington Post “Nobody denies that she's well-qualified, we need to go ahead and get her done”.

The reason why a vote has not been passed through is because Mitch McConnell , the senate majority leader, is waiting for a human trafficking bill to be voted on. Only then will McConnell call for a vote for Lynch’s assignment to be attorney general. Republican Senator James Risch says told CNN that there will be a vote as soon as Democrats stop filibustering over the human trafficking bill they will vote on Lynch being the attorney general.
Obama has called out the Republican dominated congress, saying they are playing politics and holding Lynch in essence “hostage”. He also mentions that the congress has said it will be able to run smoothly and effectively, and says this is a simple opportunity to show that. Do you think that more instances such as this will arise while Obama is still president and having a republican dominated congress? Are there any solutions or compromises that can be made here? Is one side really to blame or is it the fault of both the democratic and republican side of congress?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Supreme Court Abou to Make Decision on Controversial License Plate

                                                                                                             Texas Department of Motor Vehicles/Associated Press
Several states, including Virginia and Southern Carolina, have license plates featuring a Confederate Flag, which aims at honoring the veterans and Southern heritage. Texas did not allow for this plate as it can be seen as an offensive symbol. Heritage group, Sons of Confederate Veterans, sued the state of Texas for a violation of the First Amendment freedom to speech. On Monday, the Supreme Court plans on hearing this case.

In 2011,The Department of Motor Vehicles board voted unanimously against the usage of this plate because of its history and continual usage in the United States. In addition, Gov. Rick Perry agreed with the decision, claiming, “We don’t need to be scraping old wounds."

Many see the Confederate Flag as a representation of hate and slavery. However, this heritage foundation claims it “is a symbol of sacrifice, independence and Southern heritage.” Some think that, although a hateful symbol, the state of Texas does not have the right to take away a citizen’s private speech. Others say that the state has the ability to deny other controversial symbols such as a swastika.

In all, this plate relates to the recent University of Oklahoma fraternity video featuring a Confederate Flag. It brings into questions the legacy of this symbol and its meaning to the people of the United States. 

Do you think the State of Texas has the right to deny the use of this specialized plate? Can the Confederate Flag be deemed as a positive image?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Obama tells Iran of 'historic' opportunity

Iran's Zarif (left) talks to Ali Akbar Salehi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, in Lausanne

Obama has recently said in a video that there may be an opportunity to change relations between the US and Iran. Currently world powers and negotiating with Iran to lower its nuclear activity and even though negotiations have had “gaps”, Obama is still hopeful that a better relationship with Iran can be formed.

However, even though Obama feels this way, he still has to convince a Republican dominated congress that this is a good idea. BBC reports, “47 Republican senators warned Iran's leaders that any deal on Tehran's nuclear programme could be revoked once Mr Obama leaves office.” The outlook does not seem good as not everyone is on board with any deals.

Right now the point of debate is how fast or slow sanctions will be lifted and how much of Iran’s nuclear facilities will be allowed to be inspected. Do you think that any progress will be made between Iran and the US? And if so is it even possible for Obama to convince congress to approve of such a relation?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Federal Reserve modifies stance on low interest rates

Federal Reserve

Since the Financial crisis in 2008, the Federal Reserve has kept the interest rate “at a record low of 0%”.  Officials have been waiting for the economic growth of the US economy to grow at a steady rate before thinking about raising interest rates.

The Federal reserve has changed their statement in regards to their stance on lower interest rates by removing the word "patient". Janet Yellen, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, said in a press conference that she does not want to rule out the possibility of an interest increase but the committee will decide as more information comes in. But removing the word "patient" does not mean they intend on pushing and being impatient.

Some economist feel that the interest rate increase should be pushed back even more due to a recent data that has shown things “such as lower retail sales and consumer sentiment”.

These low interest rates were meant to promote borrowing and spending to boost the economy, do you feel that our economy has stabilized to the point where a interest rate increase is due? If not when or what circumstances would be ideal before increasing interest rates?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Employee Complaints at 28 McDonald's Restaurants


At 28 McDonald's across the nation, workers have filed safety complaints because they have received severe burns while on the job. Reasons for the injuries include understaffing and pressures to quickly prepare and serve foods. In many cases, workers claimed that their managers instructed that they put mustard or butter on their burns, rather than treat them with proper medical care.

A group called "Fight for $15", who is part of the Service Employees International Union, is supporting the workers in their lawsuits, which were filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A McDonald's spokesperson issued a statement saying "It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage." 

Fast food workers from all around the country report being burned on the job (in fact, the number is reported to be as high as 79%) and not having access to medical first aid kits. How do you see these cases ending? Will McDonald's change their policies and create a real change within their stores, or does something bigger need to happen for workers to be safe on their job? What should be done to help the large number of workers who report injuries and unsafe work environments?

Article here