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Politics

Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

The Floor is Yours, Mr. Johnson | Brandon Johnson's Senior Goodbye

Me 1Rather than wasting your time reading something that is so personal to me, let me use some of this space for some things I wish I knew when I was an 18. These are some tidbits of information I’ve picked up along my Monmouth journey. While I’m still “just a kid” by most accounts, these are some things that have had the biggest impact on who I am.

Comfort Zones

If you ask your doctor, physician, dentist or any other health professional, they can probably runoff a list of things that are bad for you. I, for one, have an insatiable sweet tooth, with a particular fondness for Snickers. But for all the harm the preservative packed goodies I munch on could do, it’s nothing compared to my greatest detriment: my comfort zone.

Everyone has a comfort zone. It may manifest itself in a variety of forms but it’s there. For some that means binge watching Netflix wrapped in the world’s softest blanket, while for others it might be dozing off in the back of the class. Regardless of shape or form, recognizing my comfort zone was among the best pieces of advice I received during my tenure at Monmouth.

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Moot Court Succeeds at National Invitation Tournament

Moot CourtThe University’s moot court program finished its second year strong this past weekend with the two-student team of Nick Whittaker and Joe Talafous representing the Hawk spirit at the 2015 National Invitational Tournament hosted by the University of Chicago. 

Based on their performance in the fall semester at a regional tournament in Iowa City, Whittaker and Talafous were invited to this national tournament and showcased their skills of oral advocacy, rhetoric and persuasive argumentation to a panel of judges over three rounds.  

They competed in an incredibly strong field of 20 teams, including teams from universities such as Loyola University – Chicago, Loras College, Eastern Illinois University, Notre Dame College, the University of St. Thomas in Canada, Merrimack College, the University of North Texas and the University of Chicago.  

The Monmouth team managed to win one ballot by 35 points (on a 100-point scale) in the third round against one of the advancing teams and lost by only two points on two other separate ballots in round two and only five points on one ballot in the first round.  

The Monmouth moot court hawks kept it incredibly close in a very competitive field and ended the 2014-2015 competition season on a high note, going into the next year of tournaments energized and ready. 

A round of congratulations goes to all moot court student-teams who represented Monmouth with pride this academic year: Ashley Gucker and Samah Khalifa; Mike Hamilton and Dan Roman; and Angela Ryan and Harmony Bailey.  

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Transgender Community Responds to Bruce Jenner

When Bruce Jenner revealed to Diane Sawyer what many had already speculated - that the 1976 Olympic champion now publicly identifies as a woman - nearly 17 million people were watching.

It was a groundbreaking event for the athlete turned reality star, and for an estimated 700,000 transgender Americans.

“It’s become a national teachable moment,” said Mara Keisling, executive director for the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Transgender Equality. “Somebody made us realize we weren’t alone.”

During the two-hour interview on ABC’s “20/20,” an initially nervous and teary Jenner told Sawyer, “For all intents and purposes, I am a woman.”

The show scored a 5.2 rating about four times higher than is typical among viewers in the 18-to-49 age group on a Friday night, according to figures from Nielsen.

On social media, the interview elicited a largely positive reaction. “All of us deserve the right to be loved for who we are. Bravo #BruceJenner,” tweeted Oprah Winfrey. Public figures from Billie Jean King to Lady Gaga posted on Twitter and Facebook to show their support.

Talk show host Montel Williams, a self-proclaimed conservative, voiced his support on Facebook despite heavy criticism from some of his fans. “Don’t like my support of Bruce Jenner or of #lgbt individuals broadly?” he wrote. “No one is forcing you to be here.”

Among those who took issue was talk show host Wendy Williams, who referred to Jenner as a “fame whore” ahead of the Sawyer interview. More than a few negative tweets with religious overtones following the show called Jenner an “abomination.”

Given Jenner’s recent role as the befuddled husband on the reality blockbuster show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” many in transgender circles and beyond expressed concern that the public coming out would be viewed as a publicity stunt, undermining a recent swell of otherwise-humanizing television dramas and news regarding their community. Jenner also revealed Friday that a docu-series chronicling his life as a transgender woman will premiere on E! on July 26.

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Michigan Catholic Priest Tells Parishioners to Pack Heat

Reverend FrideAn Ann Arbor, Mich., Catholic priest has urged his parishioners to arm themselves and attend classes at Christ the King parish to earn a concealed pistol license (CPL).

In a letter sent to Christ the King parishioners recently, the Rev. Edward Fride explained why he believed it was necessary to get concealed pistol licenses because of recent crime in the area. During a Palm Sunday mass last month, Fride announced that the parish would be holding the CPL class.

When some parishioners questioned the decision, Fride sent out a pro-gun letter titled “We’re not in Mayberry Anymore, Toto” a reference to the 1960s-era Andy Griffith Show and its portrayal of a fictional North Carolina town, as well as Dorothy’s dog from the “Wizard of Oz.”

“It is very common for Christians to simply assume that they live in Mayberry, trusting that because they know the Lord Jesus, everything will always be fine and nothing bad can happen to them and their families,” Fride wrote.

“How to balance faith, reality, prudence, and trust is one of those critical questions that we struggle with all our lives. Pretending we are in Mayberry, while we are clearly not, can have very negative consequences for ourselves and those we love, especially those we have a responsibility to protect. If we are not in Mayberry, is there a real threat?”

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University Hosts 4th Interdisciplinary Conference on Race

Veit IntroStudents, faculty and scholars gathered in Magill Commons Club for the 4th Biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Race, hearing national and international researchers present their papers from April 16-18.

Co-chaired by  Lecturer of history and anthropoloy, Hettie V. Williams and Dr. Richard Veit, Chair of the history and anthropology department, the conference’s theme was “The Criminalization of Race in History and Global Societies, Social Activism and Equal Justice.” 

The conference began with an introduction by Veit and Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Laura Moriarty, who lauded the conference for its continual growth. Veit particularly said, “Professor Hettie Williams, she’s a distinguished colleague and she’s the organizer and energizer bunny behind this conference, and this is a huge thing to pull together,” said Moriarty.

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Debate: Opposing the RFRA in Indiana

RFRA Debate picThe Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that has been causing a stir in Indiana and Louisiana, among other states, has its roots in a 1990 Supreme Court case in which a Native American man lost his job after testing positive for a drug. Alfred Smith, a resident of Oregon, used peyote (a hallucinogenic) as part of a religious ceremony and was fired from his job as a counselor at a drug rehabilitation clinic. When Smith applied for unemployment he was denied because his dismissal from work was deemed misconduct.

In 1993, the Clinton Administration signed the original RFRA, which holds that the government should act in the “least restrictive” way when dealing with religion, according to a 1993 New York Times article. Furthermore, the law professed that government could only act when it has a “compelling interest” in intervention.

Fast-forward 22 years and the Indiana legislature passed a similar measure that states “A governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,” according to National Public Radio (NPR).

Where the Indiana law takes a turn for the worse is its definition of “person,” which the federal law left for interpretation. According to NPR, the Indy bill holds persons to include individuals, organizations, religious groups, partnerships, corporations, firms or any other entity that “may sue or be sued.”

This acknowledgement reopens the gash that was infected by the Hobby Lobby case. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that for-profit companies, “composed of individuals,” could prevent cost-free access to contraception if it runs against the religious principles of said company, according to Oyez.org, a Supreme Court archive hosted by Chicago-Kent College of Law.

The Hobby Lobby scenario, however, was a blessing compared to the Indiana bill, as the ruling was limited to guaranteed contraception. Interpretation of the Hoosier state legislation would allow for entities to refuse service to individuals who they view as acting contrary to their beliefs, on whatever grounds they feel necessary. This means that gay and lesbian couples, people of different faiths, or any number of grounds for prejudice could complicate individuals receiving services.

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Changing Black Demographic

Changing Black DemographicOne in three black residents in Miami is now an immigrant, a reflection of a nationwide trend that shows immigrants making up a rising share of the country’s black population, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Perhaps not surprising, most of the black migration in Miami and across the country has come from the Caribbean, where President Barack Obama traveled this week on the first presidential visit to Jamaica in three decades.

“We are not just nations, we’re also neighbors,” Obama told the enthusiastic crowd at the University of West Indies in Jamaica. “Tens of millions of Americans are bound to the Caribbean and the Americas through ties of commerce, but also ties of kin. More than 1 million Americans trace their ancestry to Jamaica.”

The number of black immigrants in the United States has more than quadrupled since 1980, and the growth is expected to continue. The Census Bureau projects that by 2060, 16.5 percent of U.S. blacks will be immigrants. In all, there are 3.8 million black immigrants in the country today, and that number is expected to reach 11.9 million by 2060.

The Miami metropolitan area has the largest share of black immigrants. Thirty four percent of Miami’s black population are immigrants compared to 28 percent in New York and 15 percent in Washington.

More than 28,000 native-born Jamaicans live in Miami-Dade County. But it’s not the greatest source of black immigrants. That honor goes to Haiti - with more than 70,000 residents - which accounts for nearly half of the black immigrant population in the Miami metro area.

The Pew study notes that most of the nation’s 40 million U.S. -born blacks are descendants of slaves. But when slavery was made illegal, the flow of black people in the United States “dropped to a trickle” of Caribbean immigrants, the report found. The modern wave of black immigration was set off by various immigration laws, including those that sought to increase the number of immigrants from underrepresented countries.

Much of the recent growth has been driven by African nations. Africans now make up 36 percent of the total foreign-born black population compared to just 7 percent in 1980.

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Alaskan Endangerment

The Alaska yellow cedar edged one step closer to being listed as a threatened or endangered species after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the tree may warrant such protection because of the ravages of climate change.

The move was applauded by environmentalists while a timber industry trade group called it “pretty silly.”

If the conifer is listed, it would become the first tree in Alaska to be protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The cedar is found from southeast Alaska down to Northern California.

“It’s a symbol of what our actions are doing to the climate,” said Rebecca Noblin, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Alaska director. “The biggest threat is climate change. They’re also logged in the Tongass National Forest.”

Noblin said the tree has special adaptations that allow it to live in “places that a lot of other trees can’t live.” In winter, its shallow root system needs snow for insulation from the cold. In years with little snowfall _ including 2014 _ the roots are in danger of freezing.

The center was one of four groups that petitioned the federal government to add the tree to the endangered species list. According to the organizations, the warming climate is causing suitable habitat for the Alaska yellow cedar to disappear.

“More than 600,000 acres of dead yellow cedar forests are already readily visible from the air,” the group said in a written statement. “If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rates, the tree will be driven to extinction.”

But Owen Graham, Executive Director of the Alaska Forest Association, disputed the conservation groups’ characterization of the tree’s health. His organization represents the timber industry, and he said Friday that “the whole idea of listing the yellow cedar as an endangered species is pretty silly. It’s certainly not endangered.”

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Debate: Defending the RFRA in Indiana

Hobby LobbyWhen asked about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) signed and passed into law by Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, the owners of a small pizza shop, Memories Pizza, said that they think anyone can believe whatever they want, but they are a Christian establishment and wouldn’t be catering to gay weddings. In fact, the pizza shop has actually never catered to any weddings before. Now the small business has been forced to shut its doors doueto hatred, threats, and harassment from those who oppose the law. 

So, are the owners of the pizzeria intolerant because they do not want to participate in a gay wedding, or are the opponents of the RFRA law intolerant for forcing the business to shut down temporarily because of its hatred, threats and harassment? 

The opposition of the law has been shown by numerous celebrities, over forty companies, and even multiple state and local governments. They are showing opposition to the law by “boycotting Indiana” which has become a popular hash tag on Twitter. They are withdrawing from the state by cancelling business and travel to the whole state. According to the Washington Post, the company Angie’s List withdrew to expand its “Ford Building Project” until further notice, and the company Salesforce has cancelled programs that require its customers and employees to travel to Indiana. The Governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, signed an executive order prohibiting state funded travel to Indiana. New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, asked state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions to bar publicly funded travel to Indiana that isn’t essential. The band Wilco cancelled a show that was scheduled to play in Indianapolis. 

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Indian-Americans Rise in Politics in California

DalipSinghSaundIn a stairway just off the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Ami Bera walks past a portrait nearly every day of the late Rep. Dalip Singh Saund, a Democrat from California elected in 1956 and the first Indian-American (in fact, the first Asian-American) to serve in Congress.

And while their ranks in Congress have not swollen, Indian-Americans have been making political inroads, from city councils to state capitols. One is even flirting with running for president.

“We certainly are looking at how to get Indian-Americans more engaged in politics,” said Bera, a Sacramento County physician and the sole Indian-American in Congress. “They should think about running for office.”

Asian-Americans, which include Indian-Americans, are the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center.

Nearly 600,000 of the country’s 3.1 million Indian-Americans live in California, including a number of notable elected officials. Besides Bera, who was born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents, they include state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who could become the first Indian-American elected to the U.S. Senate.

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The Affordable Care Act: Is it Working?

Florio Healthcare Panel DiscussionNearly five years to the day after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the effects of the legislation “have yet to be determined,” according to various members of a panel of top New Jersey healthcare administrators. 

Among the panelists invited to Monmouth to discuss the policy’s effects on NJ were: two healthcare executives; Meridian Health CEO John Lloyd; Monmouth Medical Center CEO Frank Vozos; and NJ Association of Health Plans President Wardell Sanders. Former NJ Governor and Monmouth University’s current Public Servant in Residence, James Florio, who passed a similar salvo of health and welfare reforms during his tenure as governor, rounded out the panel.

The event was sponsored by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing and Health Studies, and the Political Science Club. Dr. Kathryn Fleming, a specialist professor of nursing administration, and Dr. Stephen Chapman assistant professor of political science, served as moderators. 

Director of the Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, opened the discussion by announcing the results of one of the institute’s latest polls: 45 percent of New Jerseyans support the law while 46 percent oppose it.

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First Round of Nuclear Deal Approaches Deadline

Iran comicThe tension between the two nation’s leaders began with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s invitation to speak in front of Congress on March 3 to address the Obama Administrations controversial nuclear negotiations with Iran that 59 percent of Americans do not trust that Iran would follow, according to the Monmouth University Polling Institute. Dr. Kenneth Mitchell, associate professor of political science, said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was a disaster for USA-Israeli relations.” 

Israel, has been one of the US’s closest and most important allies since its establishment as the world’s only Jewish state in 1949 – especially important in terms of Middle East relations. According to a 2012 Gallup Poll, Americans ranked Israel as within the top ten US’s most favorable allies, a list also including Japan, France and India, among others The country the size of New Jersey, has proved to be an essential ally in the Middle East due to its democratic government, religious and moral values, and national interests that are similar to those of the US. However, these similarities and interests do not always line up, as seen by the recent friction between the Obama Administration and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Obama’s anti-Netanyahu actions have proved to be controversial as well. The friction escalated when President Obama reacted by sending his 2012 national field director to Israel to fund against Netanyahu’s campaign for re-election which he wound up winning, according to the Washington Post. 

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Patrick’s Law Calls Out Animal Abuse

cute puppyIn the early morning hours of Sunday, March 1, a call was made to Toms River police that a white pick-up truck was seen doing “donuts” on the ice near Pine Beach.  When police arrived, the headlights and taillights disappeared as the pick-up broke through the ice and sunk into the river.  

A Coast Guard helicopter spotted the pick-up several hours later in about six feet of water during its search and rescue mission.  Divers, looking for human victims, located the body of a 2-year-old boxer who had been left in the truck. This discovery sparked outrage in animal activist circles, bringing to the forefront the questions surrounding animal abuse laws and punishments in NJ.  This case brought over 1,000 signatures to a Change.org petition requesting animal cruelty charges be brought against the driver of the pick-up in the days after the story broke.

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Iranian Nuclear Policy ‘Blows Up’

Iran StoryThe US, Iran, Israel and others have held discussion in the past few weeks in an attempt to establish a safe use for Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran has been pursuing a nuclear program over the years, considering it a right that they hold as a nation; however, Iranians argue that the reason for nuclear use in their country would be solely for civilian purposes, primarily for electricity generation.  

The negotiations have been talked about between the US, France, Germany, Russia, China, Britain and Iran, and are trying to reach a deal within the next couple of months. Some of terms that have been discussed are to have Iran curb their nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of serval or all sanctions that have been damaging their economy. 

Gary Sick of Politico Magazine explained, “Iran has been subjected to a wide variety of sanctions and pressures. Originally these were mostly unilateral pressures from the US, but under the Obama administration they have become far more international and far-reaching, culminating in the crippling sanctions on Iran’s oil sales and its ability to access international financial markets.”

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives, said that the negotiations have torn many in Washington, apart. 

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Boris Nemtsov’s Assassination Draws Criticism

Huffpost BorisIn the wake of Boris Nemtsov’s assassination on Feb. 27, Russian authorities have charged two Chechen individuals with his murder, according to the New York Times. A number of others were suspected of the killing, one of whom notably blew himself up.

Assassinations and untimely deaths of political opponents were events that commonly took place in the Cold War age Soviet Union. In most cases, those who opposed the Soviet Premier and their government were taken care off through a myriad of means—often at the hands of the secret police, the KGB. Stalin’s Great Purge was a perfect example of how a former dictator of the then dubbed “evil empire” could easily do away with all of their political enemies.

Russia has been under strict scrutiny lately, mainly because of the annexation of the Crimea and the continued conflict in Ukraine. The circumstances of Nemtsov’s death are causing even more tension in the region, and have lead to a lot of unanswered questions for both Russia and the West.

Nemtsov was a political opponent of current Russian President Vladimir Putin, and was very outspoken against him.  In the recent past, Nemtsov has been fighting against the current economic crisis in Russia, and speaking out against what is going on in Ukraine.  Nemtsov was not new to the political scene—he served as Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite numerous arrests for his candidness, Nemtsov continued to speak out again Putin.

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FCC Rules in Favor of “Net Neutrality” for Internet

amazonaws Net NeutralityThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controversial decision to pass new “net neutrality” regulations on Feb. 26 is being argued and legal battles and legislative disputes are about to begin over this emerging phenomenon that has been brewing since 2010. The FCC’s original attempt at broader internet regulation was struck down by Federal courts but they are now revamping their argument under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which they claim makes the Internet a “Public Utility.” But first off, what is “Net Neutrality” and why is it important?

Net neutrality is the internet open and without regulation. The FCC is trying to regulate it to prevent speed traps to certain websites. According to CNN, this could speed up access to certain websites, slow down access to others, and block others entirely. Companies that deliver Internet access like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T have spent millions of dollars on lobbying against these rules because they claim that micromanagement by the government would hurt their business and their consumers. On the opposing side, giant Internet Corporations like Google, Facebook, and Netflix are in favor of this legislation argue that the Internet is a public entity and should be regulated as such. 

Assistant professor of criminal justice, John Comiskey, said, “This legislation seems to be concerned more about businesses trying to establish and maintain monopoly.” He also added that the Internet is an “information highway” and “getting information before others is an advantage.” 

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Egypt and Qatar Aggravate Tension in Worldwide Soccer

Lusail QatarA match between the Zamalek SC White Knights and ENPPI erupted last month when a riot among fans and police broke out, killing 25, on Feb. 8. The riot comes as a 3 year anniversary to a similar soccer fueled riot that killed 71, also in Egypt.

The Egyptian Premier League initially responded by canceling the entirety of the season. According to Yahoo.com, after some deliberation, “between the Ministries of Interior, Youth, and Sports, as well as the Egypt’s soccer association,” the League is scheduled to resume play with one stipulation: fans cannot attend the games.

The League has yet to establish whether the abolition of fan attendance will continue in future seasons, but for the immediate future it is outlawed. The complications stem from the cause of the riot being unclear. BBC reported, “Police fired tear gas and birdshot at fans trying to force their way into the stadium, leading to a stampede.”

Regardless of motivation, the riot last month illuminated the role of soccer, (rather, football), as a cultural and political driving force around the world. A 2006 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) “Big Count” estimated 265 million men and women play football, while five million more referee the game, totaling 4 percent of the world as involved with the game. Additionally FIFA cites 1.3 billion people as interested in football.

For comparison, the US Youth Soccer National Tournament Database noted only three million US players in 2014, leaving the majority of footballers living worldwide. 

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Opinion: Mohammad Emwazi

As with any private institution, the American news media often does itself a disservice. It has an agenda which largely revolves around raising viewership, highlighting controversies, and while presenting information in a clear and concise fashion. Publicizing nicknames like “Jihadi John” for ruthless terrorists and killers aids in creating sympathy for him as well as demeaning the seriousness of the problem.

The origins of Mohammad Emwazi’s nickname, “Jihadi John”, are unclear. Some sources like The Mirror claim it was created by freed hostages, while sources like NBC News profess that the UK media created the persona.

Regardless of origin, Emwazi’s nickname highlights the severe problem with creating sympathizers for Daesh (Arabic term for the self-proclaimed Islamic State). The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) estimates that approximately 150 American’s have attempted to reach Syria, Iraq and other Middle East States to fight alongside Daesh. Recently, the NYPD thwarted three men’s plot to assist Daesh, both financially and militaristically. The UK also had trouble with tracking down three girls who allegedly have crossed into Syria, according to CNN. “Jihadi John” is not the only creator of Daesh sympathy, but, by profiling him on national news, he is established as a public figure. When, CNN, BBC or any other outlet profiles Emwazi, they are providing speculation about the type of person he was when before the murder. UK based activist group CAGE described Emwazi as a “beautiful young man,” according to ABC News

BBC, however paints Emwazi in a different light, citing a former Daesh Fighter calling him “a cold loner who set himself apart from others.” 

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American Sniper Film Controversy Turns Heads

American Sniper ColorThe controversy over America’s most popular film, American Sniper, is still lingering after the Oscars on Sunday night and the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh—the alleged killer of Chris Kyle, the movie’s main character played by Bradley Cooper—all happening at the same time. 

The film contended for six Academy Awards and crushed box office records by earning a total of $428 million, according to Yahoo.com. Birdman, the film that beat out American Sniper for best picture, only earned about $76 million. 

According to the Daily Caller, the film is being considered the most successful war film of all time, however, it only won for sound editing. Some are accusing the Oscar snub as a result of the awards becoming political. 

The controversy over the film started early in January with a Twitter war started by two celebrities, Seth Rogen and Michael Moore. Rogen tweeted, “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Bastards.” Moore tweeted, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught that snipers are cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.” 

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What’s Currently Trending in Politics?

marijuanaNJ is pushing for the legalization of marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are  among supporters. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ChrisChristieGovernor Chris Christie’s pension reform law was brought before a New Jersey Superior Court Judge who ruled that the governor must make payments promised to the system in the law.

 

 

 

 

 

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Brian Williams’ Memory Lapse Leads To Suspension

Brian Williams FaceBrian Williams, anchor and managing editor for NBC Nightly News, has been the subject of the news himself as of late.  Williams’ journalistic integrity has been questioned as a result of a fallout from a Jan. 30 broadcast in which Williams recounted riding in a Chinook helicopter that was shot down during the Iraq War in 2003.  

After the broadcast, Williams was blasted by veterans who were actually on that mission, stating that he was on a different helicopter on a separate mission an hour behind.  

The Jan. 30 broadcast covered a public tribute for recently retired Sergeant Major Tim Terpak, a New Jersey native, who was assigned to security for the NBC News crew at the time of the alleged incident.  During that broadcast, Williams stated, “The story actually started with a terrible moment a dozen years back during the invasion of Iraq when the helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG.”  

Williams has told variations of this story over the years, including one in which the pilot, Richard Krell, received a Purple Heart for his injuries. Veterans who were involved in the incident have since vocally blasted Williams. 

Further, Krell never received the Purple Heart, as evidenced by the absence of his name from the Purple Heart Recipient database. He also allegedly did not pilot the Chinook on which Williams and the NBC crew were riding. Other  veterans, including flight engineers Joseph Miller and David Luke, as well as pilot Allan Kelly who say they actually flew Williams’ helicopter, reported that Williams was not even on that particular mission, was never fired upon, and was on a two-copter mission about an hour behind the Chinook that had been hit. 

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University Hosts a Discussion on Russo-Ukrainian Relations

russia Ukraine comicDr. Alexander Yarym-Agayev born in Donetsk, Ukraine and a professor of economics, a businessman, and political activist, shared his personal views with the help of his brother and translator Dr. Yuri Yarmin-Agayev on the unfolding issue of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, where approximately 125 students and faculty gathered on Monday Feb. 9 at 2:30 pm in Wilson Hall Auditorium. 

Students and faculty that attended the talk got to hear a very personal upfront perspective of what it’s like to live in Ukraine while Russia began its invasion. Yarym-Agayev painted an image of his experiences by thoroughly explaining an ordinary day in Ukraine. “A year before the invasion it was quite comfortable, everyone was going on with their daily routine with no expectation of a dramatic change,” explained Yarym-Agayev.

He continued, “A year later, things began to change and that was when there were busses of Russians being sent over into Ukraine. These Russians began to take over Eastern Ukraine. They did so by invading administrative buildings and taking control of how things were being run.”

Despite the Russians invasion of eastern Ukraine’s administrative buildings and day-to-day life was not really being harmed. Yarym-Agayev explained that daily routines remained in place regardless of being under the control of Russians. 

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‘Make Fun of Me, Will You?’ Satire in Politics

Colbert ComicWhen the question of freedom of speech arose worldwide after the Charlie Hedbo incident, the use of satire was scrutinized as well. Does satire still serve the same purpose it has in the past, and what are the limits of using satirical humor and being offensive? 

Implied in the US Constitution’s First Amendment are the freedoms to exaggerate, manipulate and to grandstand, which is the definition of satire. Satire is often used to mock political or social figures, movements or organizations through sarcasm, ridicule or irony. It has been used to generate political or social change, and bring awareness to an issue. It most commonly takes the form of mocking politicians. 

One of the first political cartoons was created by Benjamin Franklin, a founding father, and was later transformed into the famous colonial battle flag with the legendary saying “Don’t Tread on Me.” 

Throughout the years, satire has been a transformative medium, such as through cartoon depictions and television. However, according to Tim Parks of The New York Review, the expansion of technology throughout households and communities worldwide, the mixing of cultures and globalization has made satire more problematic. 

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Cuba’s First Catholic Church Since Communist Reform

Sandion CUbaThe village of Sandino in Western Cuba has plans to make history, as the municipality is scheduled to build the first Roman Catholic Church within the state since 1959.

Following the expulsion of the Batista regime by rebels led by Fidel Castro, Cuba assumed a role as a socialist state, which later transitioned into the Communist Party in 1965, according to BBC.

With the approval of the Government to build this church, many are considering whether this signals a change for the island nation. Dr. Kenneth Mitchell, an associate professor of political science, is skeptical of what the Sandino church’s construction means for Cuba.

“Catholicism post-Cuban Revolution (1959) has always been a case in which the Marxist government permits some space to the Cuban people. Cuba is a highly Catholic nation, both before and after the Revolution,” said Mitchell. 

According to the Christian Post, Pedro Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, echoed these sentiments, believing this is “a public relations scam directed to project Raul Castro as a true reformer.”

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Obama Administration a “No-Show” at Paris Peace Rally

USA Today Paris Peace RallyEver since the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the US has been a global leader in the worldwide fight against terrorism. That is why it is surprising to many that the Obama Administration did not send any high ranking officials to the anti-terrorism rallies in Paris this past January that were in response to the Charlie Hebdo attack that left 12 people dead. 

According to CNN, at least 3.7 million people, including multiple world leaders, marched in anti-terrorism rallies in Paris and other parts of France on Sunday Jan. 11. Some of the notable world leaders that attended the rallies included French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and various other world and religious leaders from many different faiths and backgrounds. Even the unlikely duo of the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmood Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu were in attendance. 

Despite the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris that day, he nor President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, or Secretary of State John Kerry were in attendance.  The White House only sent a low level ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, to represent the US. 

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Al-Qaeda Attack Ignites Freedom of Speech Debates

Terrorists chanted “God is great,” and “The profit is avenged,” when they stormed the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7. 

On Jan. 8, the attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda. The attack was based on Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the prophet Muhammed, which has been a constant debate through Islam, for the fear of encouraging idolatry.  

After the attack, the question of freedom of speech and of the press have been questioned not only in France, but in the western world as a whole.

Freedom of speech has been considered a very important aspect in democratic states, and an essential human right is to speak a person’s mind without censorship or punishment. The United Nations adopted the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, stating, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”  

However, every country has its own set of rules on freedom of speech. France in their Declaration of Rights of Man and of the citizen, much like America’s Declaration of Independence, states that freedom of speech is “one of the most precious rights of man.” In 1972, France added the Pleven Act, which prohibits the press from libel, slander, defamation and writing against a group of people. It also outlawed racist speech against individuals and banned provocations of hatred, racism, violence and discrimination. 

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#WakeUpMU: Dozens Protest For Justice

Approximately 80 University students, faculty, and staff demonstrated for social justice and equality in response to the recent deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and others in front of Wilson Hall on Friday, Dec. 5 at 4 pm.

Morgan Spann, a junior communication student who organized the protest, addressed the gathering, “This is a time for you speak up and simply say, ‘I refuse.’ I refuse to let black men be reduced to nothing. I refuse to see women get torn down. I refuse to see my people exterminated before my eyes and sit back and do nothing. I refuse to be a statistic.” Spann said she wanted to channel her anger over the recent tragedies and transform it into a positive movement. “This is the time for unity,” she continued.

Racial tension in America has been exacerbated by the parallel coverage of Garner, an African American male from New York who was placed in an apparent choke hold during his apprehension, and Brown, an 18-year-old Ferguson resident who allegedly shoplifted some cigarillos before being shot by a police officer. People across the nation have called into question the use of excessive force by police officers when taking individuals into custody, particularly African American males.

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Monmouth Students Head to Europe for the International Service Seminar

West Long Branch, NJ - Furthering the global education vision of the university, thirteen Monmouth University students will be traveling to prominent capitals of international law and politics over winter break in conjunction with Professor Bordelon’s section of International Service Seminar (PS 371) in the spring.  Some of the students began their engagement with a new course during the fall 2014 semester in the Department of Political Science and Sociology, Public International Law (PS 431), which builds off of the international relations curricular strand in political science.

Senior Harmony Bailey said, “I think visiting The Hague or European Union will probably demonstrate the best correlation to what I learned in this class and how to tie it to the trip. Plus it is always beneficial to have knowledge beforehand of how everything works, especially when it comes to a trip of this caliber.”  The learning objective of the experience is to present the theoretical foundations of international law (PS 431 – Fall 2014) and transition students from experiencing the institutions (winter break study tour) of it to realizing its fundamental relationships to social justice through local legal aid organizations (PS 371 – Spring 2015).

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Let’s Talk Politics: Is The Government a Difficult Discussion Topic?

Americans are more likely to identify as conservative, according to a Gallup poll published Jan. 10, 2014. This ideological classification of liberal vs. conservative permeates American politics and is often the basis by which individuals frame their political beliefs and spark everyday conversation with others.

Thomas Jefferson, a founding member of the US Constitution and 3rd President said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” This begs the question to be asked, is politics difficult to talk about?

Before one can debate whether politics is a difficult subject to talk about, he or she must first consider what is meant by politics.

Dr. Walter Greason, instructor of history and anthropology said, “Politics is the notion of distributed authority.” The US is a representative democracy, meaning voters elect individuals who then act for them in the public forum. According to Greason,  the authority in politics is shared between these levels of membership in the political spectrum.

Some of the difficulty in discussing politics beyond the educational setting stems from the distribution of authority, and the feeling of powerlessness created by it. “People (constituents) don’t like to acknowledge their relative powerlessness.  People in authority (elected officials) often feel uncomfortable with explaining their decision-making,” said Greason. He found this disconnect to be a contributing factor to the problems with the ease of conversing about politics.

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Back from the Brink: A Presentation on the Middle East

The University’s Institute for Global Understanding hosted an informative lecture by Dr. Hussein Ibish, a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), columnist for The National (UAE), and author of multiple well-known publications, on Tuesday Nov. 18. Ibish is also a contributing writer for Foreign Affairs and frequently speaks on PBS’s NewsHour.

Ibish began by presenting an overarching theme: the Middle East is not one single entity, nor has it ever been, and the problems that plague it are not necessarily shared from one end of the region to the other. Effectively, he viewed the categorization of uniformity in the Middle East as a central problem that goes unrecognized by many Americans post-Cold War era.

Conversely, Ibish noted the interconnectedness of Middle Eastern states as kaleidoscopic and multi-faceted wherein “one small pattern shifts and the entire picture re-arranges itself.”

According to Ibish, one could spend an entire academic career examining one street battle in Kobani in Northern Syria and not exhaust the subject – analytically, philosophically, etc… “We need to widen the aperture, step back for a second and look at very big picture,” he said, “specifying that changes in the Middle East are often very closely linked together.”

Ibish dove into the subject by portraying the beginnings of the Arab Spring in 2011 and addressing the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, a move that angered some of the Gulf States. He addressed the Syrian Conflict, citing it to have claimed between 200,000 and 400,000 lives, producing up to as many as 7,000,000 displaced refugees since the inception of civil unrest.

He noted these changes to be potentially destructive and therefore alarming. Ibish mentions unorganized street protests in Syria that have begun as peaceful that have catastrophically morphed into violent displays of rebellion – rebellion that became revolution. “Libya clearly had a revolution. I don’t believe there was one in Tunisia or Egypt or anywhere else,” says Ibish.

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Midterm Elections in Review: Looking Towards 2016

PBS-TurnoutThe midterm elections took place on Nov. 4, and resulted in an overwhelmingly low voter turnout rate at 36.4 percent of eligible voters, according to Time, marking the lowest turnout rate in 72 years for this type of election.

The party affiliation of participating voters is important to note. In this year's midterm elections, the majority of voters identified with the Republican Party.

Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, was not surprised by the voter turnout this year due to "a lack of trust in the government today." He also acknowledged Obama's extremely low approval rating of 40 percent according to a November 2014 poll by Gallup. This lack of trust in the government today could signal citizens losing interest in voting in elections.

Dr. Kenneth Mitchell, associate professor of political science, said, "This is the second term, so the current president will not be running in 2016." He added that despite having won two presidential terms, the Democratic Party lacks the support and resources one would expect after eight years of presidency.

Additionally, the Democratic Party is aware the second term for Obama will be over in just two years and as such is not as motivated to vote during the midterm elections. The Republican Party, on the other hand, is in full speed to get the presidency back under Republican power.

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Two Monmouth Debate Teams Make it to Playoff Round at West Virginia University Mountaineer

Debate-WVUWest Long Branch, NJ -

Two Monmouth University Debate Teams made it into the playoff round at the West Virginia University (WVU) tournament from Nov. 14 - 16. Dan Roman and Victoria Borges competed in the experienced division, earning victories against teams from James Madison University, New York University and Liberty University and made their way into the playoff round before losing on a 2-1 vote to another team from New York University.

The experienced division includes debaters on debate scholarships. Victoria Borges won an 8th place individual speaking award in the experienced division at the tournament. Sana Rashid and Ryan Kelly also made it into the playoff round in the novice division after going 4-2 before losing in the playoff round to a team from Liberty University.

The tournament included approximately 100 teams of two debaters from 17 universities including Vanderbilt University, University of Washington, James Madison University, New York University, Boston College University of Miami and West Point Military Academy. Each year, a topic is picked to be debated throughout the season.

The topic for this year is "Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs." The Monmouth team created one case centering around human organ sales and another case focusing on prostitution.

Monmouth entered ten two person teams in the tournament, including: Dan Roman and Victoria Borges; Michelle Grushko and Saliha Younas; Sana Rashid and Ryan Kelly; Mike Kulik and Angela Ryan; Michael Hamilton and Samah Khalifa; Danielle Doud and Monica Santos; and Matt Toto and Mike Butkocy.

Six Monmouth debaters made their debating debut at this tournament including Ryan Henry and Victoria Garbutt, Nick Simonelli and Justin Okun, and Chris Summers and Katharine Dix. Monmouth alumni and former debaters Kelly Craig, Sam Maynard, Jessica Roberts and Dylan Maynard helped coach the teams and served as judges at the tournament.

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Let’s Talk Politics: The Government’s Influence on Daily Life

Politics is arguably a difficult topic to discuss. While referring to the overarching topic of "governance," politics has become a catch-all term, applicable to any subject matter. The politicization of daily institutions beyond the realm of government is a reality for the individual, who has to determine how he or she will allow organizational politics to impact him.

Is there a political structure to our daily lives? Consider a club or sport on campus. Group members have responsibilities that are directly linked to the roles they take. There are leadership roles, subgroups and external actors much like a political institution.

To better understand this perspective, let's look at educational departments. There are distinct levels of service within the group: department chairs, courses and professors, and students, each of which hold a distinct, but integral role to the entirety of the organization. These roles are comparable to that of various positions in America's political system, whether intentionally or not.

The department chairs can be viewed like executives (organizational leaders): governors, police chiefs, anyone who is tasked with being the leader of a larger organization.

Then there are subgroups, the individual course sections and their respective professors each of which can have the same final goal (being offered on the semester schedule), but have varying levels of interest in the way in which that goal is reached. In other words, each course will have different requirements for the students taking them, but all aspire for a place on the University schedule. Such positions resemble that of federal agencies, which constantly jockey for their own causes under the scope of the larger, unified government.

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TuNur Project Seeks to Import African Solar to U.K.

the-sierra-leone-telegraph-solar-fieldThe United Kingdom (UK) could see homes being powered by African solar energy as soon as 2018, according to reports by BBC.

The TuNur project, founded in 2011, aims to link Europe to the Sahara Desert through energy exports, as per the TuNur website.

While investors are only in the early stages of negotiation with the UK government, questions arise about feasibility of this project, and whether it will set the trend for the future of renewable energy.

Alan Steinberg, an adjunct professor of political science, said, "I think renewable energy is the way of the future. As the demand for renewable energy grows we should see an increase in its production." Steinberg however, noted that new discoveries of natural gas, such as those in the Leviathan gas field off the coast fo Israel may complicate the solar export business.

"Renewable energy is very expensive. Although it is a clean source of energy, nuclear energy is much more efficient than solar and wind." He continued, "Keep in mind that solar and wind also take up much more land than nuclear plants as well."

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Policy Actors Begin to Mobilize Facing Climate Change

broccolicity-global-warmingClimate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is already affecting life on every continent and in the oceans, and the window is closing rapidly for governments to avert the worst damage expected to occur later this century, scientists warned in one of the loudest alarms yet sounded by the international scientific community.

Zak Fama, a sophomore history and political science major, said, "The US has grown too attached to fossil fuels to the point that the hunger for energy is beginning to outweigh even the safety of some parts of the population."

The report, issued Sunday, arrives as international negotiators prepare to meet in Lima, Peru, in Dec. to establish parameters for an eventual agreement on cutting heat-trapping emissions, a goal that has eluded the international community since talks began more than 20 years ago. Negotiators are aiming to sign a deal in Paris in December 2015.

Written by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which regularly reviews and synthesizes the latest climate research, the report says there are more heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere than within the last 800,000 years, and that most of them came from the combustion of fossil fuels since the widespread industrialization of the late 1800s.

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Rethinking New Jersey’s Election System

Voter-Turnout-GallupNJ voters went to the polls yesterday, Nov. 4, voting on candidates as well as amendments to the state constitution.

According to NJ.com, in addition to candidates, voters will also decide on changes to constitutional rights to bail, as well as the creation of permanent funding for historic preservation.

Regardless of the topics on the ballot, voter turnout remains low, with Christie's re-election in 2013 seeing a 39.6 percent turnout, according to NJ.com.

The root of this problem is the lack of true competition in NJ elections. According to Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department, the average reelection rate over the past 20 years is 95 percent, despite having a 10 percent approval from constituents.

Patten said, "Most districts in NJ and across the nation are gerrymandered, so we have very few competitive elections." Gerrymandering is the process of redrawing voting districts to favor certain parties or candidates.

He continued, "The way that you could have a 95 percent reelection rate in an institution with a 10 percent approval rate is that we don't have a lot of competition in our elections."

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Online Voting Lacks Security: Traditional Ballots Remain The Standard

Nevada's election chief says the state's much-ballyhooed new system for electronically delivering absentee ballots to troops and other citizens overseas isn't an "online" voting system, even if it offers those abroad the option of emailing marked ballots to county clerks.

But his boss, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, described the system differently in testimony to Congress last year, boasting that it would allow voters abroad "to request, mark and deliver a ballot to their county without the need of a printer or a scanner."

The office of Pentagon Inspector General John Rymer is taking a hard look at systems like Nevada's to see whether they're violating a prohibition on the use of Defense Department grant money to create online voting systems, a spokeswoman for Rymer said. The prohibition was spurred by concerns that those systems are vulnerable to hackers.

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel, and the panel's ranking Democrat, California Rep. Susan Davis, wrote to Rymer last June requesting "a full and thorough investigation" to determine whether they're designed to return votes electronically.

So far, the Inspector General's office said, Rymer has ordered only an "assessment" of whether grant recipients are skirting the rules; a review not previously disclosed.

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Monmouth University Mock Trial Competes in First

Mock-TrialWest Long Branch, NJ- Monmouth University's Mock Trial (MUMT) team competed in their first invitational tournament this past weekend, the Market Street Invitational Tournament, hosted by Drexel University. The invitational involved 26 teams from 16 universities.

The students competed in four rounds (twice as plaintiffs and twice as defendants) in a mock civil case involving the unfortunate accidental shooting of an 11-year-old by her friend. Students in attorney roles represented the parents in this fictitious case of Park v. Duran; other students played challenging witness roles ranging from the next-door neighbor, clinical child psychologists and the parties (parents) themselves!

Monmouth's team finished the tournament with one of the highest Combined Strength scores, which means MUMT competed against some of the highest ranked teams. In each round, MUMT had at least one attorney and, witness rank in the top two. Co-captain Iziah Thompson finished the tournament with 16 out of a possible 20 ranks for his defense attorney role, and veteran team member Stephen Lang finished with 14 at of a possible 20 ranks for his portrayal of the defendant child who allegedly caused the accidental shooting.

The competition was one of several fall semester invitationals offered to prepare students for the competitive American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) tournament structure starting in February of 2015. The team will next compete at the Third Annual "Hooter" Invitational hosted by Temple University on November 15 and 16.

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Demonstrating for Democracy

Mock-TrialProtest leaders continue to demonstrate in Hong Kong Central, which began in Sept., according to BBC.com. Thousands of protestors flood the streets in opposition to the Chinese government's influence on elections.

According to Dr. Peter Liu, professor of criminal justice, the protestors in Hong Kong are demonstrating against regulations that were made by the mainland Chinese government in Beijing regarding Hong Kong's 2017 standing committee election. The protestors are mainly comprised of college students that are calling for direct democracy.

Although Hong Kong is part of China, it differs from the mainland government. Liu said that the difference between mainland China and Hong Kong goes back to a war fought in 1840 between the Chinese and Great Britain. Great Britain ultimately won this war, forcing China to give up Hong Kong.

In 1897, another war was fought over the land and China lost once more. Hong Kong remained a British colony until 1997, when they decided to give land back to China under the condition that they would let Hong Kong keep their own laws and capitalist system of government, to which China agreed.

Since 1997, Hong Kong has kept its political system independent of China. Liu called it "one country, two systems."

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University’s Debate Team Makes it to Playoff

Debate-photo-3WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ - The Monmouth University Debate Team reached the playoff round at the West Point Military Academy tournament this weekend (October 17-19, 2014). Sana Rashid and Francesca Vaccaro made it into the playoff round before losing to a team from Cornell University. Team Captains Dan Roman and Michelle Grushko also went 3-3 while debating in the experienced division that includes scholarship debaters.

The tournament included approximately 100 teams of two debaters from 20 universities including Cornell University, University of Washington, James Madison University, New York University, Boston College and NYU to name a few. Each year, a topic is picked to be debated throughout the year. The topic for this year is "Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs." The Monmouth team created one case centering around human organ sales and another case focusing on prostitution.

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Thomas Gallagher Speaks at University

Gallagher-at-podium-credit-to-Chris-SpiegelStudents and faculty welcomed alumnus Thomas P. Gallagher in Wilson Auditorium on Oct. 8, prior to Gallagher accepting the Distinguished Alumni Award at Monmouth's 81st Founderss Day celebration. Gallagher, a graduate from the Class of 1962, held a presentation in which he discussed his experiences after leaving Monmouth, specifically those involving his civil service.

A former political science major, Gallagher made an early commitment to civil service, joining the inaugural group of Peace Corps volunteers. He recalled, "Five days after I graduated from Monmouth, I hopped in a plane in Newark to Georgetown University to start my Peace Corps training."

Eventually, his volunteer work transitioned into a full time position, and Gallagher began working in the U.S. State Department. At this point in his career, Gallagher became well aware of the risk involved in humanitarian work. In 1967, he was stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Six-Day war, which saw every US embassy attacked, except for his.

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Student Loan Interest Rates Reach A Dead End

occupy-student-loanSenator Elizabeth Warren's "Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act", proposed in May 2014 was shot down. The bill sought to "allow most individuals with student loans (both federal and private) to refinance those loans into new federal direct loans at interest rates specified in the bill," according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The proposal was voted down by Senate Republicans who claimed the bill was a political move, pitting students against the wealthy. This is because of the provision within the bill in which the drop in interest will be covered by the wealthiest Americans.

During summer 2013, Congress almost allowed the interest to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The outcome was an interest rate fixed on a 10 year treasury note. This was seen as compromise by the parties, but did not begin to address the growing problem of student debt.

According to Businessweek, students who take out loans at 7.1 percent interest, owe in aggregate 1.2 trillion dollars, owing an average of 30,000 dollars each. The U.S. Government clears four billion dollars each year from student loans.

Private lenders, however, can raise interest rates as high as 20 percent. The picture is clearly a dismal one for college students as well as graduates. How could it get this bad for students, when there was a time an American could work his way through college?

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Christie Vetoes Smoking Ban at Beaches and Parks

Christie-BelmarNJ Governor Chris Christie vetoed bill S1772 that would ban smoking from public parks and limit smoking at beaches across NJ on Sept. 10. According to NJ.com, the bill, which had overwhelming support in both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature, proposed that violators would receive a $250 fine for a first offense, $500 for the second, and id="mce_marker",000 for a third offense.

According to NJ.com, the bill received a lot of admiration from environmentalists and anti-smoking advocates because they believe that it will prevent second-hand smoke, reduce liter, and prevent fires.

Dr. Laura Jannone, Chair of the Department of Nursing, said, "Passive smoking is divided into mainstream and sidestream smoke. Mainstream smoke is the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Sidestream smoke is the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette. Both cause increased cases of lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis."

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially declared second-hand smoke a carcinogen in 1993. Also smoker's children are more likely to get respiratory infections. Jannone said, "It is surprising the Governor would veto this when so many communities in NJ and across the country have already banned smoking in public places."

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Debate Season Opener: Hawks Prep for West Point

MU-DebateThe 2015 policy debate season is in full swing, as the Monmouth University Debate Hawks are preparing for their first tournament at the US Military Academy in West Point, NY.

Specifically, policy debate is a competition in which teams face off to implement change regarding a pre-established debate topic. The topics, known as resolutions in the debate world, guide teams in crafting plans that are presented during competition, with the hope of winning the judge's favor and getting passed.

This year, debaters are preparing cases involving the legalization of one, some or all of the following: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, and/or the sale of human organs.

In addition to offering policy debate as a club, Monmouth also incorporates the program as a semester long course, which aspires to bring in new debaters to teach them about competitive debate. The team, advised by Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology has approximately 35 members debating this season.

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Supreme Court Reopens Same-Sex Marriage

gay-marriage-nypostSame-sex marriage is returning to the Supreme Court quietly, for now, but soon enough with a shout.

The court's nine justices will meet privately on Monday to consider hundreds of petitions for the upcoming new term. The most anticipated of them would test whether the Constitution encompasses a right of same-sex couples to marry.

"It's inevitable at this point that the court will recognize marriage equality," said David Cole, a liberal professor at Georgetown University Law Center. "The question is when."

In truth, other key questions include who, which, how and how far?

Specifically: Who will argue the cases and, perhaps, reap the glory? Which state bans, in particular, will be the focus? How will the court reason in its final decision, and how far will the decision-making extend?

During their "long conference," which precedes the Oct. 6 start of the court's new term, the justices will consider seven petitions involving state bans on same-sex marriage. Lower appellate courts struck down the marriage restrictions in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.

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Campaign Finance Revitalized? Senate Halts Reform

On Monday, Sept. 8, the US Senate missed allowing a vote to propose a Constitutional amendment to create limits on campaign spending by corporations. The amendment would overturn the 2014 Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC which held that individuals could donate an unlimited amount of funds to campaigns, according to the Federal Election Committee’s website.

This amendment was unanimously rejected by Senate Republicans on Thursday, September 11. According to freepressonline.com, the amendment was sponsored by Democrat Tom Udall of New Mexico. The amendment would grant Congress and the states the power to regulate the amount of spending on campaigns from Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs).

Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department said, “[Super PACs are] a new type of political action committee created after the “Citizens United” and “Speechnow” Supreme Courts cases in 2010 which allows PACs to now raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and unions and spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns.”

He continued, “This is worrisome to many because wealthy individuals and organizations can now give unlimited amounts of “dark money” (unknown funding sources) and can have a disproportionate influence over individual races.”

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Political Science Welcomes Dr. Stephen Chapman

The Outlook spoke with Dr. Stephen Chapman, Assistant Professor of Political Science.

The Outlook: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Chapman: Well, I grew up in Pennsylvania. I’m a native of Easton, PA which is only about an hour and a half from here. I did my graduate work at Binghamton University in upstate New York and now I’m here so I’m pretty proud I kept in the tri-state area.

Other than that I’m a big baseball fan, a big Phillies fan. I like to have fun when I can. I like to have a good time, which I try to transfer to my classroom atmosphere. I didn’t want to have a rigid professor-student line. I prefer to have it more fluid.

The Outlook: What drew you to Monmouth University?

Chapman: I knew when I started my graduate work that I wanted to end up at a liberal arts university. I knew that I loved teaching. It’s really more about what I can do for the student than for my own gravitas.

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A Documentary, America’s Backyard: Columbia

The Longest Drug War

Untitled-1We live in a world where communication is vital. The problem we face is the lack of communication between two groups. Whether allies or enemies, there is often a miscommunication somewhere between them that will catapult into a huge problem.

In Columbia, there are two groups: the guerrillas and the parliamentarians.

The drug war in Columbia has gone on for over 20 years. The guerrillas are screaming "let us grow and cultivate our coco plants" while the other in the interest of public safety is trying to get rid of them with any means necessary. Instead of the parliamentarians diplomatically engaging the opposition, the peasants/guerrillas get their plants mutilated.

There is a misconception that if something needs to be curtailed; guns and military officers are sent in to deal with it. Why jump to that right of the bat? why not have that difficult conversation and get a compromise worked out?

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New Jersey Kicks Off Sports Gambling

Monmouth Park Will Soon Expand Its Gambling Selection

Untitled3The Christie Administration took an initiative to revitalize the struggling casino industry by enabling casinos and horse tracks to permit sports gambling. The directive, allows gambling institutions to maintain sports pools "without criminal or civil liability," and was issued Sept. 9, according to the Governor's website.

Betting on sports teams does have some guidelines. First, wagering is prohibited on any of New Jersey's amateur athletics organizations. Adding to this, the directive prevents wagering on any teams that are playing within the state. For example, if the Duke Blue Devils play a basketball game at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, betting is prohibited. However, if the same team plays in North Carolina, betting is permitted.

According to Dr. John Buzza, specialist professor of business, sports wagering could provide a much needed boost to faltering NJ casinos. Buzza said, "My feeling is that sports wagering is simply another way for the general public to spend their disposable income in a gambling mode. Will it have impact on the casinos? For sure!"

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Two Journalists Dead, Now ISIS Threatens Russia

What's is Russia's Next Move?

Untitled2In wake of the beheadings of two American journalists by the radical Islamist group, ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL,- news outlets from around the country and even the world have been covering America's response, led by President Barrack Obama, to quell the new threat. With all the talk of President Obama's handling of the situation, ISIS has also challenged a familiar American foe, Vladimir Putin, and Russia.

According to CBS Washington D.C. local, on August 31 saying, "Vladimir Putin, these are the Russian planes that you sent to Bashar. Allah willing, we will take them back to your own turf, and liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus, Allah willing. Your throne is being threatened by us."

ISIS's threat to Russia is especially interesting considering the recent tension between American President Barrack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russian aggression in the Ukraine. In this case, will the enemy of our enemy be our friend?

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Obama Delays Immigration Plan

President Barack Obama made the decision to abstain from any immigration executive action until after the midterm elections On September 7. This caused a backlash in the Latino Community by contradicting promises Obama made earlier this summer.

During a speech on June 30, Obama said, "Today, I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress."

Obama reiterated the same idea during a naturalization ceremony in July at the White House. He stated, "I'm going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system smarter and more efficient."

Obama said this after ending a week during which he slammed congressional republicans for inaction on immigration reform and promised to take executive actions. "We're going to have to fix our immigration system, which is broken, and pass common sense immigration reform. We shouldn't be making it harder for the best and the brightest to come here. We should be making it easier."

Obama explained why this changed during an interview on Meet the Press in September. "What I am saying is that I am going to act because it's the right thing for the country. But it's going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we have done on unaccompanied children, and why it's necessary. The truth of the matter is, the politics did shift mid-summer because of that problem."

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U.S. Kills Top Somali Terrorist; Islamic State Leaders Next, Obama Says

droneattack1An American air assault killed the head of an al-Qaida-linked Somali terrorist group in East Africa earlier this week, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Ahmed Abdi Godane, who led the al-Shabab terror network and had a $7 million U.S. bounty on his head, was killed Monday in an attack by both drones and piloted planes.

"Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al-Shabab," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday, confirming that the Somalia terror kingpin had died in the assault.

A buoyed President Barack Obama on Friday warned leaders of the Islamic State, which has terrorized portions of Iraq and Syria, that they will suffer the same fate as Godane and Osama bin Laden.

Using Washington policymakers' preferred acronym for the Islamic State, Obama, on the final day of the NATO summit in Wales, said: "We are going to degrade and defeat ISIL, the same way that we have gone after al-Qaida, the same way we have gone after the al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, where we have just released today the fact that we have killed the leader of al-Shabab in Somalia and have consistently worked to degrade their operations."

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U.S. Journalism Goes Abroad: The Islamic State

ismapThe Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has beheaded a second American journalist within the past two weeks. In addition to the loss of James Foley 40, Steven Sotloff 31, has become a victim of international politics.

According to Reuters, Foley covered topics such as public demonstrations in Aleppo, Syria, just as Sotloff "spent years in the Middle East writing for publications including Time and Foreign Policy" as per the Wall Street Journal.

On Saturday May 31, 2014, the White House administration facilitated an exchange with Taliban terrorists, a deal involving Bowe Bergdahl and five detainees at Guantanamo.

The US Government has an inherent stake in protecting troops abroad, no such protection exists for journalists. Dr. Eleanor Novek, professor of communication said, "Organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders attempt to raise public awareness and support for journalists in danger zones around the world. But these are nonprofit groups with limited funds."

The problem becomes even more specific when dealing with freelance journalists, as in the case of Foley and Sotloff.

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Two Perspectives: The Hillside Rat Slayer Part 2

the-rat-slayer-of-hillside-nj-d18b686c78a85e65Frank Balun, who was a resident of Hillside, NJ, was an aerial gunner in World War II. He actually survived his plane getting shot down in battle. He has received multiple metals for his service and is a war hero. However, if you googled his name the first thing that would come up would be "the Rat Slayer." The decorated World War II veteran will go down in history as the infamous "Rat Slayer."

So how did this happen? Well 20 years ago. Balun was tending to his garden and noticed a rat was poking around. So he killed it.Well he wound up getting charged for it and wound up on the cover of the New York Times and other newspapers as well. He was faced with id="mce_marker",250 in fines and could've spent a possibility of six months in jail.

The fight against Balun was led by the Humane Society which was led by Lee Bernstein at the time. Bernstein's overreaction and strict policy on animal cruelty only made things worse. According to a Star Ledger article, Bernstein had his lawn littered with muskrat and chicken parts. At one point someone actually nailed a rodent to a cross with a tomato in its mouth and put it on Bernstein's lawn. So if Bernstein's goal was to prevent animal cruelty, it didn't work out that well. Angelo Bonanno, a former administrator for the Hillside Health Department, said, "We encourage people to kill rats because they carry disease."

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Two Perspectives: The Hillside Rat Slayer Part 1

Recently you may have heard of a case being brought back into the spotlight by Andrew Ruvuolo's documentary, that accounts an event dating back to August 1994 "The Rat Slayer of Hillside".Frank Balun, 69-year-old resi-dent of Hillside and the owner of a garden filled with various types of jersey tomatoes, had an issue with rats constantly eating his crop. In lack of being able to get pest con-trol to come to his house, he took matters into his own hands and took a broom several times to the rat resulting in its death. Balun's Court Summons cour-tesy of the Newark Humane So-ciety's Lee Bernstein stopped this common man dealing with a pest in his tracks.That's when things took a turn to Balun's rise in fame as the rat killer.The municipal court was filled with 150 people, Balun's prosecutor Chris Howard, The Judge Albert Parsonnett and Humane Societies, Lee Bernstein, Balun risked gaining fines up to 1,250 dollars and six months in jail, caused by killing a rat. Which looking from afar appears absurd in this day in age looking back at 1994, because of today's privacy rights. But, analyzing beyond the surface I think it should be em-phasized that a " Nuisance animal or any animal deserves a quick and painless death" According to The Inquirer. Taking into ac-count the importance of his prized tomatoes, it still shouldn't give someone the go ahead to beat an animal.In the time this case was brought to rise things were blown way out of proportion, while it is important to exercise your rights to freedom of speech, I don't think it was nec-essary to place the crucified body of a muskrat a cherry tomato in its mouth, on the front lawn of Ber-stein's home in the Union Beach, Monmouth County," according to The Inquirer, a present from the fans of Balun to state their opin-ion.This should be looked at through the lens of sensibility, think about what would happen if we all took the standpoint that "the world all of us if even a rat mattered." The Inquirer. I hope you take a moment to think about the pests, wouldn't we want to be killed as painless and humanely as possible.

Case Study: Ferguson, Missouri Part 2

Rioting, looting and violence are not the means by which to unify a community. Every time I hear about Ferguson, MO, I get flashbacks to eerily similar occurrences. First it's spring time 1992 in Los Angeles. Next it's winter 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Then later that year it's Anaheim, California. In all four of these cases there are intrinsic relationships: Rodney King (L.A), Trayvon Martin (Florida), Manuel Diaz (Anaheim) and Michael Brown (Ferguson) were all members of minority communities.

Similarly, the harm caused to these individuals created spates of violence that served to fragment communities along ethnic boarders. The examination of these cases is not to trivialize the matter of police brutality, the lives lost to dispute the facts of the cases. However such an examination does call forth scrutiny of the public reaction towards these cases.

When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown midday August 9, 2014 in Missouri, he ignited a wave of riots the first day of which, according to the USA Today, culminated with 30 people arrested. Schools closed, business owners were in fear and civil unrest mounted. Sound familiar?

This same scenario occurred over the course of a week in 1992 Los Angeles. Following the beating of Rodney King by a group of LAPD officers in March, the city waited on the trial results for nearly two months. Fast forward to April 29, 1992 and the city sees the acquittal of the four officers charged with Rodney King's beating, sparking days of violence and interracial conflict.

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Case Study: Ferguson, Missouri Part 1

ferguson1Trust—it goes without saying that populous cities like Cincinnati, where the death of Timothy Thomas incited public outrage in 2001, or in Ferguson, where teenager Michael Brown was shot in an altercation with an officer. Trust has been replaced with fear in these very troubled cities. People fear officers who take to the streets with little oversight. Driven by aggressive policies of leaders trying to deal with high crime rates, police fear the people they have sworn to protect. As Paul Butler of the New York Times put it, they have become "armed agents who feel unaccountable to citizens." Left behind are citizens who would rather ignore the stench of marijuana on their own corners, and never dial 911 for fear of harassment. Left behind are a majority of good cops who are looked upon as the enemy in places where they are needed the most.

This summer when an unarmed teen was shot by an officer, there was a barrage of actions and reactions as more and more details on the event were revealed. A lack of transparency initially incited outrage including activists, students, and ferguson's supporters. Outrage began as peaceful protest, but the protests were overshadowed by riots. Riots were met with force as the nation watched on. The looting, protest and force used by police may have sent shivers through those who are old enough to remember the race riots of the 60's. From New York to Chicago, discriminant police brutality, and the death of Martin Luther King culminated in days of violence. Though it is interesting to note, while Washington, Chicago, and others cities burned, St. Louis remained the calm city sitting by the Mississippi. The Michael Brown shooting appears to be more or less "the last straw". Arrest numbers increase every day as social media is flooded with pictures and videos of cops in Avon. Along with these pictures, there were others of people running out of stores with goods in their hands. In a place where the Department of Defense deemed it necessary to equip the police with a MRPS, a 16 ton military vehicle that got it's name protecting soldiers from mines in the Rhodesian Bush war, there is a problem. When blacks make up less than two thirds of the driving age population, but account for 85 percent of the police stops, there is a problem. Is rioting really the fix Ferguson needs?

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