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Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 1pm

Politics

Iowa Caucus Has Unusually High Turnout; Clinton and Cruz in the Running

Iowa Voter RegisitrationThe 2016 election officially kicked off on Monday, as Iowa voters went out to cast their votes in the caucus, resulting in Ted Cruz as a big winner for the GOP, and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ending it in a draw.

According to ABC News, more than 180,000 Republican Iowans voted in the first 2016 caucus, compared to the previous record of only 121,000 people in 2012.

Cruz won with 28% of the votes with Donald Trump right behind him with 24%, while Marco Rubio received 24%. On the Democrats side, Martin O’Malley received less than 1% of the votes.

This is the first time actual voters can weigh in in the presidential nomination. Dr. Stephen Chapman, Assistant Professor of Political Science, said, “The Iowa Caucuses are so important simply because they come first. The media plays this up mainly because it is the first taste of actual votes being counted towards the presidential nominations. This causes increased ratings for media outlets.”

However, the time consuming process of the caucuses results in a lower turnout. According to the Iowa Caucus Project, on average one out of five registered voters shows up, Democrat or Republican, which is why it was surprising to see such a huge turnout this term.

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Patterson Cop’s First Amendment Case Taken to U.S. Supreme Court

On Jan. 19, former Patterson cop, Jeffery B. Heffernan, plead at the Supreme Court. According to NorthJersey.com, the officer was tried for “overt involvement in a political election.”

In 2006, Officer Heffernan was spotted obtaining a political lawn sign supporting a mayoral candidate, Lawrence Spagnola, who was trying to unseat the current Patterson mayor, Joey Torres, by another Patterson officer. This eventually spread to the chief of police in Patterson, who was a Torres supporter himself. Heffernan was then demoted to foot patrol.  As a result, he sued the city for monetary damages.

NorthJersey.com reports that Heffernan retired in 2011, but his case did not end there. The former officer has been consistent in his claim that he was in no way active in the Spagnola campaign, and that he was simply picking up the sign for his mother, who was bedridden.

 It is due to him claiming he was not exercising his right to free speech that he appeared in front of the Supreme Court last month. Heffernan had no platform to exercise his first amendment rights, therefore had no reason to sue the city for damages.

Heffernan’s attorney spoke to NorthJersey.com about the case. Attorney Mark B. Frost said, “If a police officer can constitutionally be demoted because his supervisor incorrectly believes that the officer supports a candidate for mayor, then any public employee could be demoted or even fired because her supervisor incorrectly believes that she is a Democrat or a Republican,”

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Hillary Clinton’s Email Controversy Still Lingering During Iowa Caucus

Democratic front-runner candidate for the presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, has been dealing with an email scandal that is just not going away.

For the last year, the FBI and Department of Justice have been probing into Clinton’s emails that were on her private server during the time she was Secretary of State.

According to an article written in the New York Post last week by Jamie Schram, “Over the past year or so, investigators have flagged dozens of Clinton’s emails marked as confidential or classified — and recently it was reported that her private server contained intelligence from the government’s most highly classified programs.”

Last week, former House majority leader, Tom Delay, said, “I have friends in the FBI and theysay they’re ready to indict her.” Delay continued, “They’re ready to recommend an indictment and they also say that if the attorney general does not indict, they’re going public.”

Then on Jan. 29th, Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times wrote an article saying that, “The State Department on Friday said for the first time that “top secret” material had been sent through Hillary Clinton’s private computer server, and that it would not make public 22 of her emails because they contained highly classified information.”

Brian Fallon of the Clinton campaign said this story, “appears to be over-classification run amok.” Then said, “We understand that these emails were likely originated on the State Department’s unclassified system before they were ever shared with Secretary Clinton, and they have remained on the department’s unclassifiedsystem for years.”

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Monmouth Polls Show Surging Sanders and Indomitable Trump

A recent national survey conducted by the University’s Polling Institute that was released on Jan. 19 shows a surging Bernie Sanders cutting into Hillary Clinton’s share of the most likely liberal voters.

The poll, which questions the popular perception of Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee for president, was mostly completed prior to the latest Democratic Primary Debate held in Charleston, SC on Sunday January 17.

According the poll’s latest findings, Clinton has the support of 52% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide, down from 59% in December. Sanders received 37% support, which is up substantially from his 26% support level last month and narrows Clinton’s lead to 15 points.

Just last month, a Monmouth poll suggested Sanders lagged behind Clinton by 33 points nationally. In Iowa Tues., where polls reported the two in a statistical tie, Sanders asserted that he’s confident he can win.

“When we started, we were in three percent in the polls,” said Sanders. “We were fifty points behind. Today, the inevitable candidate does not look quite so inevitable as she did eight and a half months ago.”

This marks the first time Clinton’s lead has dropped below twenty points in a national Monmouth poll.

“Clinton has lost ground with nearly every major Democratic voting bloc since December,” according to a report paired with the release of the poll’s results, with her biggest drops recorded among “self-described liberals,” from a 57% – 31% advantage over Sanders one month ago to a 42% – 51% deficit in the current poll.

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Detroit Public School Teachers “Sickout” Protest

On Jan. 20, 88 schools closed in Detroit, Mi., due to a teacher “sickout” protest against the underfunding of public schools. 44,790 students were unable to attend school that day.

The first “sickout” started with the closing of five schools, led by Steve Conn, the ousted president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers Union, who was expelled in August after the local’s executive board found him guilty of internal misconducted charges.  This affected over 6,730 students ability to attend school.

Owing 3.5 billion in outstanding debt, Detroit public schools system could be insolvent, or unable to loans by April of this year. This could affect a recovering city trying to overcome bankruptcy; without a good standing education system, new families are not likely to move in and support the economy of the city.

 Enrollment numbers are down, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In 2006, only 20% of students attended charter schools, and since 2014, this number has gone up to 55%. Other parents have opted to send their children to other public schools in suburbs.

Detroit has also come last in education every year since 2012, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress Exam. 

When aware of the protest, Mayor Mike Buggan ordered district wide school inspections. He came across a dead mouse in an elementary school.

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Iran Prisoner Exchange With the U.S.

On Jan. 17, President Obama informed the nation of the return of Iranian held prisoners, in exchange for Iranians prisoners held in the U.S. With a hopefull spark to better relations with Iran through the Nuclear deal in 2015, the Obama Administration hoped to take a more diplomatic approach and this exchange was able to be negotiated in about 14 months of meetings between the U.S, and Iran.

A senior level administrator explained the situation to CNN Politics saying, “A window opened up after the nuclear deal with Iran, and we wanted to take advantage of that window.”

With the window of opportunity being small, the U.S.and Iran were able to strike a deal for an exchange.

Historically, relations have been trying between the U.S. and Iran. Nick Whittaker, a senior political science major, explains the tension between the United States and Iran saying, “The tension between Iran and the United States has loomed for over three decades. This incident has come under much scrutiny because of the nuclear arms deal that preceded it.”

The countries have not always been on the best of terms, and with countless embargos and sanctions in place as a result of a tumultuous relationship, the U.S. had Iranian prisoners being held on crimes that had to do with providing goods and services to Iran that were unavailable to them do to the embargo.

For example, an Iranian man by the name of Ali Saboonchi was being held in the U.S on seven counts of exporting manufactured products to Iran. According to CNN Politics, Saboonchi was just one of seven prisoners being held in the United States for similar crimes.

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Monmouth Revisits the Watergate Scandal

University had the honor of hearing John Dean speak about his experience and trials he experienced due to the Watergate Scandal. There was an array of people in attendance. From Deborah Portiz, former Attorney General of New Jersey to President Brown.

“There’s a cancer in the presidency and it’s growing.”  This quote stated by John Dean, has been notorious in regards to political scandals. The Watergate Scandal regarding President Nixon changed not only the Executive but also ethnics within society. Caught up in the mixed of this scandal was former white house counsel to President Nixon, John Dean.

Dr. Rekha Datta, Interim Vice Provost For Global Education, raved about the event. Along with that she expressed the courage Dean embodied. “The Watergate event was outstanding. It was engaging and had universal appeal that cut across generations and scholarly and general interest surrounding an issue that laid the foundations of many ethics reforms in American public policy. We were fortunate to hear from a key player as the Watergate Scandal unfolded, and a historian who contextualized the day to day developments as they evolved on those fateful days in the 1970’s. It also highlighted the importance of integrity.”

She continued, “As White House counsel, a young lawyer, John Dean, was a true profile in courage in standing up to the highest office in the country. He followed the courage of his conviction, and made a tremendous contribution to strengthening the institution of government; but not without backlash. An important takeaway is that as in the government, in other organizations too, this can happen.” She continued to say “John Dean demonstrated the importance of standing up when rules and processes are violated in any organization. In that sense, he was truly a ‘profile in courage.’” and that “It was a historic event that was a wonderful learning opportunity for the campus community. I thank the speakers, and Dean Moliver, Peter Reinhart, Joe Patten, and others who made this event possible.”

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U.N. Holds Conference on Climate Change in France

On Nov. 30, in Paris, France the U.N. Conference on Climate Change began, and it will conclude on Dec. 11. According to the COP21 website, this is the 21st U.N. Conference on Climate Change, and there are representatives from any and all nations that wish to take action on behalf of the environment.

Dr. Ken Mitchell, associate professor of political science,  speculated on the ability for such different countries to work together, “The Paris conference reveals the potential for global governance, as well as the challenges for global governance. The problems and challenges have been identified, but science cannot take us much further. We are now in the realm of global policy making, and this is a realm we know very little about.”

Zachary Dix, a masters student at the University of Iceland studying Environmental Sustainability, attended the conference said “The conference brings together countries of the world to create a document that is internationally binding with the United Nations.  The nations come together and used the scientific knowledge about how to mitigate and adapt to climate change and try to reach a consensus internationally on how to handle climate change.”

According to Dix and the COP21 website, a large aspect of the negotiations is how many degrees Celsius the world temperature my increase. Dix explained, “A lot of the previous agreements have aimed to increase no more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre industrial levels.” He said, “However the recent increases in intense weather events and the severity of sea level rise is displacing nations such as Micronesia as we speak; these islands are literally sinking and the people are being forced to relocate almost immediately. Consequently, now the majorities of countries are feeling as though 2 degrees Celsius is insufficient and need to move it to a 1.5 degree goal.  Scientists have been studying the global temperature, and in their latest report they started degree scenarios where they emit different amount of greenhouse gasses to create global temperature scenarios. Right now the big thing they’re pushing for is a scenario of no more than a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

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Should There be More Study of Philosophy, Religion, and Interdisciplinary Studies at Monmouth?

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 322 million people living in the United States and over seven billion in the world. This is remarkable but there is one issue, how can all of these people get along? Humans have been at war with each other for as far back as history can trace. This is evident in the current terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, CA and  in Paris in which the Islamic extremist group, ISIS, has taken credit for. Today, the challenge for Americans is to quell threats like ISIS, while still being open and tolerant to those who hold different ideological, political, religious, and cultural beliefs. There is not a simple answer to this problem but according to multiple University professors, learning more about interdisciplinary studies which include ideological, political, religious, and cultural beliefs.

Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Interdisciplinary Studies, Dr. Golam Mathbor, who is from Bangladesh, said “The number one problem in the world is ignorance. The core point of interdisciplinary studies is to learn about each other.” Unfortunately, Monmouth University students cannot major or even minor in interdisciplinary studies. According to Mathbor, there are only seven or eight courses available in his department during a given semester. He said, “We need a strong interdisciplinary or global studies program.” This could help quell tension between different groups because it would help students to develop “holistic thinking” and to “see what is happening in the grassroots.” However, most of these interdisciplinary topic can only be found in other majors and is not a program itself.

Professor of Political Science Saliba Sarsar, who teaches various classes on Islam and the Middle East said, “As global citizens, we have an obligation to learn as much as possible about the world around us” and “By learning about others, we can learn more about ourselves.” Sarsar’s interesting background has especially allowed him to see various perspectives. According to Elaine Durbach of New Jersey Jewish News, Sarsar spoke in front of the Jewish Community Campus (JCC) on April 29 of this year and said, “My father was a White Russian prince” and his mother was Greek. Born and raised as a Christian in Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian control at the time, Sarsar “grew up caught between the Jewish and Muslim communities, and with memories of fleeing during one of the periodic eruptions of violence.” Sarsar explained in front of the JCC that it wasn’t until the six day war in 1967 where he realized that Jews were not the enemy like he was taught, and that “they were just like us.”

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Monmouth Debate Hawks Won Team and Individual Awards at University of Rochester this Weekend

Debate HawksThe Monmouth University Debate Team won a team and an individual speaking award at the University of Rochester’s Debate Tournament this weekend (Nov 21-22). Payal Patel and Matthew Toto made it into the playoff rounds and Sabrina Saenger won an individual speaking award.  MU had 24 debaters (12 teams of two) compete at the tournament this weekend.

When asked about how she felt about making the playoff rounds, Patel said, “It was my last debate tournament so I was really nervous going in. But I had a good partner (Toto) and we made it through five rounds and into the playoffs, By the end of the tournament I was really happy because it was a good way to end my Monmouth debate year.”

Matthew Toto adds that the tournament was a learning experience. “We fought hard against schools like New York University, and Cornell and succeeded so that’s pretty cool. It is cool to show the younger debaters that what school you go to does not matter. Anybody can succeed if you work hard enough.”

Team Captain Danielle Doud and partner Victoria Borges competed in the varsity division that includes debaters on debate scholarships.  Monmouth debaters competed against other debate teams from teams from New York University, Cornell University, the West Point Military Academy, the New School and other teams from the tri-state area.

Doud said, “Overall, the Rochester Tournament was a great experience. Bringing twelve teams, we had the largest showing, meaning that pretty much every round in the Novice Divison involved one of our teams. It was great to see the new kids, and  the ones enrolled in the class taught by Dr. Patten, hold their own against students from big schools like Cornell, NYU, Binghamton, and Rochester.”

 

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Obama Administration to bring in 10,000 Syrian Refugees

After the Paris Attacks three weeks ago, The White House has released to the press and on their website that President Obama is going to welcome 10,000 Syrian Refugees into our country within the next fiscal year. This has sparked debates throughout the country on if this is the right way to go.

Some say no, because they could be radicals and pose a threat to our country, and that we need to first take care of our own citizens before taking care of those from other nations. Others say yes and are sympathetic to the situation the refugees are coming from.

Not all states are as welcoming as President Obama. CNN reported in Nov. that 31 states are not allowing refugees into the country. These leaders mainly oppose allowing refugees to enter the country because they believe they will be security threats.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, professor of political science, also had thoughts on whether or not we should allow refugees into the United States. He said, “We have millions of refugees who find themselves in this tragic condition because of a civil war or conflict that has been going on for years. Many have found a temporary home in the Middle East or Europe. This is a tragic and humanitarian issue. I am very supportive of helping refugees find a permanent home. Many refugees say that if peace comes, they want to return back home. They lose loved ones and property because of war so I am very sympathetic. There is a fear that within these refugees, in these numbers, there may be a few radicals posing as refugees and that they may be members of the Islamic State. This is something that concerns me and all of us.”

He continues, “But what I want to explain is that the U.S., with President Obama indicating taking about 10,000 refugees, requires potential refugees to go through organizations such as the CIA or FBI. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee. But we need to trust the system and welcome them with open arms. It is mostly women and children that are looking for a new home and it is our moral obligation and human response to give them one.”

There is a very complicated process that anyone must go through before becoming a refugee. A video on the website “attn.” narrated by Secretary of Defense Jeh Johnson describes the situation step by step.

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Contact Information

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