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Last updateWed, 14 Apr 2021 11am

Politics

Arrests Still Happening Months After Capitol Riots

ArrestsOn the afternoon of Jan. 6, rioters stormed the Capitol building as electoral college votes were being counted in the House of Representatives chamber. Three months later, arrests are still being made.

Many of the Capitol rioters came directly from former President Donald Trump’s “Save America Rally” that began hours earlier on the Ellipse, a park near the White House. Trump spoke for more than an hour at this protest, urging attendees to walk to the Capitol afterward, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. So, we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue—and we are going to the Capitol.”

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Georgia's New Voting Law

GeorgiaRepublican Governor Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s 98-page election law at the end of March, according to CBS News. This new voting law has caused a debate between both republican and democratic parties. 

The new voting law in Georgia will contain the following: ID must be required for in-person voting and mail-in voting, there will be at least 17 days of early voting, new rules for absentee ballots require shorter time frame for requesting and returning mail ballots, the results of the election will be made much faster, food and drink being distributed to voters by non-poll workers is now banned, and the state election board now has power. 

According to USA Today, President Joe Biden called the new law “un-American” and said that it is a “blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscious.”

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Faculty Discuss Biden Border Policy as Undocumented Arrivals Spike

Faculty Discuss 1The Biden Administration has been criticized for a wave of new migrant arrivals on the United States-Mexican border. This recent influx has been the largest spike of undocumented arrivals since 2019, many being unaccompanied minors, according to NPR.

In April 2020, the numbers of immigrants had fallen due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, since February, the numbers have been increasing to nearly 100,000 immigrants, according to Pew Research Center. Some of the immigrant restrictions, that were put in place by former president Donald Trump, are being reversed by The Biden Administration. Pew Research Center reported that the Remain in Mexico Policy was included in this.

“The message is quite clear: Do not come,” noted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

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The Beginning Trial of Derek Chauvin

The Beginning TrialIt was the video seen around the world: a police officer with his knee on a man’s neck, who uttered the words, “I can’t breathe.” That man was George Floyd, and the officer, Derek Chauvin, is now on trial for second-degree murder, third degree-murder, and manslaughter. The other four officers that were surrounding him during the incident were all fired and charged with murder, according to The Washington Post.

As of Friday, the trial was reported to be ahead of schedule, and Friday was filled with testimonies of several police officers who spoke against Chauvin.

 After May 25, 2020, protests began   across the US in outrage against police brutality towards African Americans. America has seen this level of protesting and activism before, most notably during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. But at its basic level, how big of a role does activism and protesting play in producing actual political and lawful change, like in this trial of Mr. Chauvin?

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Biden Calls for Stronger Gun Control

BidenPresident Biden has urged stronger gun control laws after the recent shootings that occurred in Boulder, CO on March 22. Biden has been urging Congress to pass expanding background checks and banning assault-type weapons, like the one the Boulder shooter used.

According to the White House and the New York Times, Biden said that strengthening background checks would be “common sense steps that will save lives in the future.” He also said, “This is not and should not be a partisan issue—it is an American issue. We have to act.” 

Nicholas Sewitch, J.D. Department Chair and Specialist Professor of Criminal Justice, said politicians—especially the president, congressman, or senator—feel that it is their duty to protect the people.

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Kim Jo Yong Warns United States

Kim Jo YongWhile President Joe Biden prepares to release his Korean policy, the sister North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jung, warned the United States to not “cause a stink,” on Tuesday, March 16.

The state news agency KCNA has reported that Kim Yo Jong said, “If it wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.” Kim Yo Jong has also criticized South Korea and the United States for running linked military exercises.

KCNA reported that the North Korean leader’s sister made a reference to gunpowder when she said that North Korea apparently took “this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land.”

Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, said that Kim Yo Jong’s warning the U.S. not to cause a stink with North Korea emanates from decades of distrust toward the U.S., which North Korea views as “its biggest enemy.”

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Governor Cuomo Under Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Governor CuomoNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), in his third term in office, is under fire following a recent slew of allegations of sexual misconduct.

In late December 2020, the New York Times reported that former gubernatorial aide and current Manhattan Borough Presidential Candidate Lindsey Boylan came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Cuomo . Boylan claimed initially that Cuomo had created a toxic work environment; she went on to explain how he allegedly forcibly kissed her in 2018 and, further, how he had tried to coerce her into having sex.

Since Boylan’s allegations arose, eight other women—Charlotte Bennett, Anna Ruch, Ana Liss, Karen Hinton, Jessica Bakeman, Valerie Bauman, Alyssa McGrath, and one anonymous complainant—have also levied allegations of misconduct on the part of Cuomo.

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Federal and Private Student Loan Debts Continue to Rise

Federal Debts 1Students in the United States borrowed a combined $1.67 trillion in federal and private student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent report. The total federal student loan debt is $1.54 trillion and the total private student loan debt is $131.81 billion.

Ken Michell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, explained that the problem isn’t about where people went to college. “Let’s be clear, whether its $10k or $50k in student loan debt relief, neither option is progressive nor conservative nor solves the problem. I personally do not support student loan relief because it does not address the real problem - universities simply charge too much money in tuition. The USA is the only country in the world that ‘punishes’ its young people (and their families) who succeed in making it out of high school with good grades.”

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United States Airstrikes Syria

AirstrikesPresident Joe Biden ordered a military airstrike near Abu Kamal, Syria on Feb 26. This was his first military action as Commander-In-Chief since taking office on Jan 20, and the intention was to be a retaliation for Iranian-backed militia groups that have recently attacked U.S. military encampments.

Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, said he sees the attack as being part of a larger state of affairs.

“The attack was not random; there is a current struggle going on in the Arabian or Persian Gulf for regional hegemony, mostly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The United States is, of course, allied with Saudi Arabia and other countries like Israel, Jordan, and Egypt against Iran,” said Sarsar.

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"Raise the Wage Act" Aims to Increase Hourly Federal Minimum Wage to $15

Raise WageThe newly introduced “Raise the Wage Act” may be enacted by the end of March, but government officials are still deciding whether to proceed. If enacted, the federal minimum wage will likely be raised to $15 an hour.

On Jan. 14th, President Joe Biden released an economic stimulus plan which contained the objective to raise the federal minimum wage. Richard Roberts, Specialist Professor of Economics, said that at this point in the COVID-19 recovery, the costs of increasing the minimum wage outweigh the benefits. He said the pandemic has driven many businesses to close permanently.

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U.S. Government Puts Snowy Owls in Danger

US Government OwlMore than 3 million acres of protected habitat of the northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest was removed by the Trump Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on Jan. 13.

“We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), revise the designation of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) by excluding approximately 3,472,064 acres (1,405,094 hectares),” as stated in the Federal Register, “The Daily Journal of the United States Government,” by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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