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Last updateWed, 19 Sep 2018 1pm

Politics

What is the “Stand Your Ground” Law?

Stand-Your-Ground-LawTeenager Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Sanford, Florida while walking home from a convenience store on February 26. The alleged gunman, George Zimmermann, was the head of his local neighborhood watch group, and claimed the shooting was committed in self-defense. The killing has caused a great deal of controversy from critics of the Florida police that have not arrested Zimmermann on any grounds. Martin, being a 17-year-old African-American, has brought race-relations to the forefront of politics and policy debate once again. President Obama has openly voiced his sympathies for the Martin family. Zimmermann has yet to be indicted on any charges.

The focal point of this policy debate however is Florida’s highly controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. This statute states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense when there is a reasonable belief of threat, without an obligation to retreat first. Proponents of this legislation state that it is common sense to be able to defend yourself in hostile situations while opponents state that it is the right to commit murder in many cases. The National Rifle Association lobbied extensively for the passage of such laws in the early 2000’s. The interest group strategized and invested in states that were likely to pass the law Since the Martin killing, the NRA has halted lobbying efforts in Alaska. Last week, a New York Times op-ed piece by John F. Timoney cited that since 2005 when the law was passed. Florida homicides that are considered “justifiable” have nearly tripled.

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The Battle Royale: Anti-Bullying Laws vs. Cyber Bullying

default article imageIt goes without saying that everyone, at one point or another, has been the subject of a certain brand of teases and taunts labeled as “bullying.” Usually when thought of, bullying is most commonly depicted as a negative type of social interaction taken place in the classrooms and hallways of schools. It seems that bullying has found a new way to seek out its victims in a more convenient and modernized manner; cyber bullying is capable of reaching and affecting millions instantaneously.

Cyber bullying, as defined by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Pachin of the Cyber Bullying Research Center, is the “Willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.” With the growth in technology this type of electronic harassment is no longer limited to simple cell phone use and the Internet in general. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, have played a large contributing role to the cyber bullying craze, primarily because of the constant, almost 24 hour, use by teens and youth, which in turn allows them to be easy targets initially.

It is because of this effortless accessibility that has sparked several public and leading officials nationwide to put into place several types of Anti- Bullying type laws. New Jersey’s own form of the law has been edited and put into effect by Governor Chris Christie as of last year. according to a New York Times article in August 2011, “The New Jersey law has earned the label of being one of, if not the most, strict form of the Anti-Bullying Laws.” Professor Bordelon, Pre-Law Advisor and Lecturer of Political Science at the University, mentions that the Anti-Bullying Laws are what sparked the creation of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. “These Anti-Bullying codes are meant to further train school officials on recognizing harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) under the law and set up an intra-school procedure to receive complaints and determine sanctions once incidents of HIB are found,” says Bordelon.

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Gamechange Airs on HBO About Former Vice President Candidate

The Question Remains: Was Sarah Palin the Pioneer of the Tea Party Movement?


sarah_palin6After watching the movie Gamechange this weekend, a film about the 2008 presidential election and, most importantly, the John McCain campaign’s plight controlling Sarah Palin. The question was clear: did Sarah Palin start the Tea Party movement? McCain knew his odds were against him defeating Obama in 2008. The McCain team went for the home run shot in their pick of Sarah Palin for the Vice Presidential candidate, she was either going to boom or bust. According to latimes.com, “He also is taking a risk that in elevating a largely unknown figure, he undermines the central theme of his candidacy that he puts ‘country first,’ above political calculations.”

The team decided that the only way to compete with Obama was through the first term female governor of Alaska.

Palin, as it turned out, was not very experienced considering she had only been governor of Alaska for 17 months. Her inexperience showed on the campaign trail. For example, in an interview with Katie Couric on June 2, 2010, Palin summed her foreign policy experience up by stating Alaska shares a border with Russia and Canada. In that same interview, Palin had difficulty naming a newspaper or magazine she read, leaving many to believe she never reads national news. In her defense however, Palin has been able to attract massive crowds whenever she speaks, such as in Manchester, New Hampshire where she had 600 people in the audience. Following the 2008 election she quickly became one of the biggest stars of the Republican Party.

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Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Visits the University

monmouth-county-prosecutors-office-sealMonmouth County’s Assistant Prosecutor Mark Apostolou Jr. came to the University as a guest speaker on Tuesday, March 20. Apostolou came into Dr. Gregroy Boredelon’s Pre-Trial Prosecution System class on Tuesday nights. He came in to give the students in the class a practical use for the theory they are learning now in class. Apostolou attended the University of Richmond for his undergraduate degree, and then went to Seton Hall Law School. Following law school, he did a one year clerkship and in September of 2007 he was named Assistant Prosecutor of Monmouth County.

 

His topic of discussion was how pretrial decisions played a role everyday especially during his job. Apostolou discussed in detail all the work that goes into a case prior to trial. He explained how warrants work, and arraignment of a suspect. He spent a large amount of time on how discovery can make or break a case. According to legaldefinitions.com, discovery “Allows one party to question other parties, and sometimes witnesses. It also allows one party to force the others to produce requested documents or other physical evidence.” Discovery gives everyone all the information involved in a case and makes it fair for the attorneys.

The other main objective of his appearance was about the important of a grand jury. According to uscourts.gov, a “Grand jury, which normally consists of 16 to 23 members, has a more specialized function. The United States attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases, presents evidence to the grand jury for them to determine whether there is “probable cause” to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, it will issue an indictment against the defendant. Grand jury proceedings are not open for public observation.” Apostolou explained how this part of the process can make or break a case.

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Rutgers Trustees Oppose Timeline for Merger Plan

default article imageThe Rutgers University trustees on Thursday balked at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s July 1 deadline for a sweeping merger plan under which the school would gain a respected but debt-ridden medical school in New Brunswick and lose an entire campus in South Jersey.

The group’s approval may be needed for the plan to proceed, according to some legal opinions and the Office of Legislative Services.

Rutgers President Richard McCormick said he anticipated that legislation involving the reorganization could be voted upon before the Legislature adjourns this summer. Christie has said that much of the reorganization could be accomplished through an executive order.

It remains unclear which route will be taken, but either way the Rutgers trustees may have a say since they were vested with oversight and authority over university property by a 1956 statute.

At its regular meeting on Thursday, the group, which numbers nearly 60, expressed frustration with the lack of financial details in the reorganization plan and the governor’s insistence on forging ahead despite this.

“I feel like I’m doing this with a gun to my head,” said Dorothy Cantor, a trustee.

Meanwhile, Rutgers officials said applications and donations are down because of uncertainty at the Camden campus, which the realignment plan would give to Rowan University, based in Glassboro.

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NYPD Monitors College-Age Muslims

03.21.12_Page_08_Image_0001Because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in New York City, many New Yorkers have become suspicious of Muslims. NYPD has taken action. Muslims have been put under surveillance by police in NYC due to past attacks conducted by terrorists of the Muslim faith. According to an article in The Washington Post, NYPD started an “undercover spy operation” in 2007. Police have been observing and recording where Muslims live, work and even pray.

This sparks major controversy among citizens, both Muslims and others, about human rights and equality. A poll from New York Daily News says that 82 percent of New York citizens approve of this surveillance for fear of future terrorist attacks. Others such as anthropology professor at the University Dr. Stanton Green feel differently. “From what I know of this practice, it is illegal. It tramples the Constitution and it indicates ethnic profiling and discrimination against Muslims. It is not the American way of justice and freedom because it did not apparently follow the due process protections that undergird the American way of life,” says Green.

Chief of Police at the University, Bill McElrath, said, “I think the issue is one of trying to balance the legitimate requirement of law enforcement to keep people safe, with the need to safeguard the constitutional rights of individuals. My personal belief is that law enforcement should not target any group based solely on their race, sex or sexual orientation without any other information substantiating the investigation.” He also voices that it is the job of law enforcement to pursue potential crime.

Professor of Anthropology at the University Dr. William Mitchell also says that Muslim surveillance is a bad idea because it stereotypes an entire group based on the actions of a few. “Like most Christians, most Muslims just want to get on with their lives. In particular, most Muslim students just want to study and succeed in their careers. Why should they be stereotyped?” says Mitchell.

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Has Limbaugh Gone Too Far?

Conservative Radio Host Refers to Law Student as “Slut” and “Prostitute”


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In today’s modernized and constantly connected society, being able to captivate an audience’s attention, is no small feat. Conservative talk show host and political commentator Rush Limbaugh has been able to do so. Instead the causation for the audience’s attention stems from brash comments used by Limbaugh to describe 31 year old law student Sandra Fluke and her positioning regarding contraception.

According to an article in the Huffington Post on March 13, Limbaugh had first regarded Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute” during his radio show after the third year Georgetown law student had been denied the opportunity to speak before a Congressional panel backing the thought of insurers covering the cost of contraception. Professor Michael Phillips-Anderson, a Communications professor at the University states that, “While she was not allowed to testify before the official House committee she did make a statement to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. It was those remarks that Limbaugh responded to. Limbaugh’s comments echo those of many criticisms of those seeking greater equality for women throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Women who entered the public sphere were often identified as prostitutes for leaving the private sphere and entering into public discourse.”

As reported in an article in Time Magazine on March 8, ever since the first snubs towards Fluke had been delivered, Limbaugh had ridiculed and released taunting comments regarding Fluke a total of 53 times over the course of three days. Jessica Davis, a freshman, recalls some of the crude mentionings spoken by Limbaugh. “I remember that [Limbaugh] went so far as to say that all women who get contraception should post videos of themselves having sex on the internet as a way of “paying it back” to society. Not only did I find the comment disgusting, but it really made me wonder why anyone would choose to take this guy seriously when he is saying such nasty and immature things about a very serious issue,” says Davis. The very comments had sparked national outrage, resulting in several companies second guessing the relations tying them to Limbaugh’s name.

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Peace Among Enemies

Facebook Sparks Campaign for Peace Between Israel and Iran


03.21.12_Page_09_Image_0001The surmounting tension between Iran’s nuclear program and Israel’s threats of military intervention is driving a deeper rift in other states’ foreign policy agendas, yet it is also driving internal cooperation between citizens of the two conflicting states.

The deepening rift between Israel and Iran is expanding as nuclear tensions become more intense. Other countries’ loyalties are stressed as Israel recently announced that it would pursue military actions against Iran if necessary.

Last Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama urged Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that military action could unveil a variety of consequences.

The United States and Britain both voiced their discouragement early last week, although the United States regards Israel as a strong ally. Britain also cited that military action against Iran would not be helpful at the given time. Britain ambassador, Peter Westmacott told reporters, “We do not regard that as the right way forward in the months to come.”

“The Iranian situation is vital, in terms of trying to demonstrate to the world, and in particular to the Iranians, our continued road of sanctions, the pressure that’s got further to run, and that we’re going to push that as hard as we can,” Cameron told reporters during his most recent trip to the United States. He also went on to discuss that Britain would not support Israel if they pursued military action.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, Professor of Political Science and Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives commented on the rising frustrations between Iran and Israel. “The way forward is not to conduct policy by aggression or subversive acts whether carried out by states or non-state actors but to engage in serious diplomacy that holds states accountable for their actions. A stable peace results from the security of all, not the dominance of one state over the others.”

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Feeling the Pain at the Pump?

A Look at Who's to Blame for Rising Gas Prices


Pain at pump 1As gas prices continue to soar the American people are being forced to make decisions that will best suit their financial needs. In a country where prices of everything only seem to go up, gas will be just an additional expenditure that the public will be required to face. As a result of this concern, politicians and government officials keep the high prices of gas as one of their top concerns.

While prices of gas are continuously rising and politics are weighing heavily on consumer’s inability to afford fuel for their cars, they are forced to reevaluate their current cars and look towards smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

According to an Associated Press article, “As gas prices rise, Detroit is better prepared with small car. Gas prices are spiking. But this time, Detroit is ready.” The article explains that when gas prices soared in 2008, Detroit’s three U.S. automakers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, were struggling. Unlike competitors, they did not have small cars and relied on trucks and SUVs for profits. However, “When gas prices peaked at $4.12 in July of that year, sales from the Big Three (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler) plummeted more than 20 percent. That same month, sales of the fuelsipping Toyota Corolla jumped 16 percent,” the article explained.

In an effort to get better gas mileage on their vehicles consumers are shifting to small cars again. Although, the article said, “Prices have never been as high for this time of year. The price of a gallon of gas is up 46 cents this year to an average of $3.74. Analysts say gas could hit $4.25 by this April.”

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Syrian Violence Becoming International Issue

Syrian Violence IssueContinued violence and bloodshed in Syria shows little sign of stopping. The brutal regime of this Middle Eastern country has continued its crackdown on apparent “opposition” groups. The number of people killed during the violence is unknown. Rebel forces estimate 9,000 people have been killed. The government is saying that 2,000 security officers were killed. Citizen journalists and opposition members have given evidence to the contrary showing the attacking has intentionally been going after innocent civilians. YouTube videos and activist accounts have shown government forces shelling buildings of civilians and attacking random people in the street.

Those in the opposition fighting against this repressive regime vow to not stop fighting unless Assad is out of power. The activist named “Danny” whose real name has been hidden because of safety concerns, told CNN ,“The fighting will not stop until Assad is stopped, or all of the activists are dead.” David Wallsh, a PhD student in International Affairs at Tufts University believes that this situation will not end soon. “The Assad regime has an overwhelming military advantage over the opposition, and neither the opposition nor the international community has figured out how to match it.” Al-Assad is a member of the minority Alawite population in Syria. Alawite is a religious outshoot of Shiite Islam. According to CNN, the government began attacking the majority Sunni antigovernment protesters.

The world cannot be silent on this issue; innocent people are dying in Syria. Aid workers cannot get through to help the hundreds of people at risk because the government is turning them away. The Assad regime is trying to hide the atrocities going on in the embroiled country from the rest of the world.

Fortunately, The U.N. Human Rights council recently condemned the crackdown. Enormous international pressure from member nations of the Arab League has been put on the government of Syria to stop the senseless violence. This has not stopped Assad, who is still ramping up attacks on his own people.

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Will Super Tuesday Be Super for Romney and Santorum?

Will Super Tuesday Could Become Crucial to Winner of the Republican Nomination


Super TuesdayMitt Romney won the Arizona Republican primary by a wide margin. Romney was also reported to have initially won his home state of Michigan over challenger Rick Santorum by three percentage points, however after a recount it was called a tie. This led to the two candidates splitting the delegates.

While this is not the outcome Mitt Romney had hoped for, it is still a promising result for him going into Super Tuesday.

With the tremendous amount of mistakes he is making it is understandable why he is still struggling to become the clear front-runner in this race. While his win on Tuesday was good for his campaign, he’ll have to kick it up a notch and prove to voters in the Super Tuesday states that he is the candidate that is capable and prepared to defeat Barack Obama in a general election. Political Science major Alexandria Todd responded, “I think Romney will ride the wave of momentum he gathered from his victories in Arizona and Michigan.”

Rick Santorum has proven to be more than just a dark horse, making every step of this race a struggle for the Romney camp. From what looked like a clearcut loss for Santorum actually turned out to yield big gains and definitely improve his chances come March 6th. Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science Department stated, “Santorum seems to be wounded after making a few political missteps in past weeks. As Romney’s main competitor this will be crucial.”

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