Last updateWed, 21 Apr 2021 3pm


Volume 90 (Fall 2017 - Spring 2018)

Trump’s Attack on Amazon Signals Disconnect Between Government and Big Business

default article imageAmazon, led by Jeff Bezos, has undergone a widely publicized ascendance to become one of most valuable global companies. The world watched it enjoy unprecedented growth and expansion with notable milestones such as the release of Alexa, a first of its kind voice assistant, and the acquisition of Whole Foods.

According to a report by CNBC, the company’s most recent fourth quarter earnings yielded revenues of $60.5 billion, blowing past Thomson Reuters’ initial projections of $59.83 billion.

The company’s net income at the close of 2017 was $1.9 billion, more than double the former year and a record high for the company. The close of the fourth quarter also included a $789 million tax benefit, a direct result of the recent change to the U.S. tax code which passed in December 2017.

In Amazon’s early days, the company’s central business model was constructed with the prioritization of growth pursuit over profits, routinely underpricing their products, and placing a higher value on consumer welfare and gaining popularity.

Even with massive sales, the company still prices products below market value. Its emphasis on consumer welfare, which it defines as short-term price effects, was often criticized by economists and deemed ill to compete in the capitalist marketplace.

In a series of recent tweets spanning from March 29 until April 3, President Donald Trump scrutinized Amazon, calling it a “no tax monopoly,” while accusing it of “pay[ing] little to no taxes to state and local governments.”

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U.S. and Allies Strike Syrian Chemical Facilities

US Syrian StrikeFollowing the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent chemical attack on civilians last week in Douma, President Donald Trump, along with U.S. allies Britain and France, announced military action against Syria, sending missiles into chemical weapons facilities late in the evening on April 13.

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated at the Pentagon the following day that three primary targets were hit: a scientific research center in Damascus, a chemical weapon development facility west of Homs, and a chemical equipment storage facility, which was also used as a command post. No civilian casualties have been reported at this time.

Following the strikes, Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White, said that Trump declared, “[the] operations were very successful.”

“The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic and diplomatic,” said Trump.

Al-Assad has a long history of repeated use of chemical weapons and using them in attacks against his own people, causing large masses of civilian causalities and deaths from the chemical gas containing chlorine and another chemical agent called sarin.

The Syrian and Russian governments deny any involvement of chemicals and instead accuse rebel groups of fabricating the attack. Russian chemical weapons specialists and medical personnel claimed to have found no trace of chemical weapons.

However, about 500 patients seen at medical facilities were experiencing symptoms similar to those of having an exposure to toxic chemicals, following the April 7 attack.

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Equal Pay in New Jersey

default article imageGovernor Phil Murphy announced that he will sign into law comprehensive equal pay legislation, last Tuesday, April 10.

“There is no reason a woman in New Jersey should earn just 82 cents to the dollar made by a male for the same work. That’s why, two weeks from now on April 24, I will sign into law the most sweeping equal pay legislation in America to close the gender wage gap,” Murphy writes on his twitter account.

Murphy campaigned for equal pay during the New Jersey 2017 gubernatorial race, and wanted to sign the legislation last Tuesday to coincide with the Equal Pay Day.

The bill (S-104) passed both houses of the New Jersey Legislature last month, and Murphy has said that he planned to sign it since.

Murphy postponed his initial signing date, waiting for one of the bill’s chief sponsors, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), to return from vacation, two anonymous sources with knowledge of the decision told reporters at NJ Advance Media.

“As we watch our counterparts in Hollywood, California and England doing the same thing, after scandals revealed men earning dramatically more than women, New Jersey is thankfully taking action,” said Katherine Parkin, Ph.D., Vice President of the Faculty Association and a professor of history and gender studies.

The S-104 Bill makes it illegal for employers in the state to offer lower pay and benefits to workers, protected by the state Law Against Discrimination, which includes “protected classes” such as women and minorities, if they perform “substantially similar work” compared to white males.

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The Highest, Hardest Glass Ceiling: Women in Politics

Women in PoliticsAccording to a study by Politico, American University, and Loyola Marymount University, researchers Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox found that, when asked “How qualified are you for public office,” only 22 percent of female participants answered “very qualified.”

Corey Wrenn, Ph.D., Director of the Gender Studies Program, explained the role that a woman’s confidence has both on herself and other women who may consider running for public office.

“Research finds that confidence is not just socialized but also situational, such that when we see women in positions of leadership, their communication style changes to fit the position,” she said. “The belief that women are not fit to lead is based on observations of women in general—who are not in leadership positions and thus…women are never even given the chance to lead.”

According to the PEW Research Center, in a 2014 study, when asked, “Why aren’t more women in top elective offices,” 47 percent of women agreed that it is because women are held to a higher standard than men are.

Lauren Santoro, an adjunct professor of political science, said that women who run for office face what has been termed the “double-bind,” having to display both femininity and masculinity, which is often associated with leadership. Santoro also notes the potential for women seeking office to face sexist commentary and other negative treatment. Things such as their appearance, their family life, and their “likeability” are questioned like that of no male candidate is.

Mary “Dee” Bulvanoski, an instructor of English, talked about how she faced similar treatment in her first campaign when she ran for the Board of Education in Oceanport, NJ.

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University Community Participates in March for Our Lives Events

Students and Faculty Participate in Marches in Washington, D.C., New York City, and New Jersey

March for Our LivesDozens of University students and several faculty members participated in March for Our Lives protests on March 24.

Faculty members organized trips to the Washington, D.C. and New York City marches,  according to Johanna Foster, Ph.D., Director of the Sociology Program and an associate professor. Students also participated in local marches in Freehold and Asbury Park, joining some faculty members.

The March for Our Lives peaceful protests were designed to bring attention to flaws in United States gun legislation.

Foster was the faculty advisor of the march in New York City, but she personally marched in the Washington, D.C. demonstration. “I attended because I fear for the lives of my children, not only as students, but as kids of color who could be gunned down in just about any public space in this nation because powerful white men and their allies care more about masculinity and money then they do the lives of people,” said Foster. “Not only do I constantly worry about the safety of my children, but I worry about the safety of my students, as well as the safety of my colleagues in the classrooms, and myself.”

According to Foster, 20 students participated in the New York trip, which was led by Scott Jeffrey, Ph.D., an associate professor of management and decision sciences.

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What Kim Jong-un’s Historic Visit to Beijing Means for U.S. Diplomacy Efforts

Kim Jung Diplomacy EffortsThe arrival of a mysterious, dark green, 21-car tinted train marked by a signature yellow stripe in Beijing’s central train station on Monday, March 26, incited speculation that it could be carrying North Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

Both Kim’s father and grandfather, former leaders of the country, opted for similar means of transportation on their foreign visits. In accord with the nation’s mysterious reputation, little is known about the armoured vehicle, when it is deployed, and its rumoured lavish interior and amenities.

Chinese state media officially reported on Wednesday, March 28, that Kim had completed a visit with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in Beijing.

The visit spanned from late Monday night to Wednesday afternoon. The event marks Kim’s first ever known trip abroad since ascending to control of the notoriously isolated nation in 2011, as well as his first ever meeting with another head of state.

Reports suggest that the visit was made at the request of Jinping in anticipation for upcoming meetings with both South Korean and American leaders.

According to China’s official New China News Agency, Kim claimed that he is “willing to hold dialogue with the United States and hold summits between North Korea and the United States.”

With regards to denuclearization, Kim subtly implied the potential for it, “If South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts in good faith and create a peaceful and stable atmosphere,” and if “the current situation on the Korean peninsula has begun to develop in the positive direction,” China’s official New China News Agency reported.

Previous attempts at curbing North Korea’s nuclear development have not yielded permanent results as anticipated. Nuclear freezes in both 1994 and 2005 ended with the nation receiving relief from their sanctions, only to later resume their program in a slow, but nonetheless deliberate, manner.

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How the Mexican Presidential Election Could Affect Relations with the United States

Mexican Election US Relations 1As Mexico prepares to elect its next president, the lea ding candidate in the race could predict how the landscape of U.S.-Mexican relations are formed in the future.

Andres Manuel López Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City and a member of Mexico’s left-wing National Regeneration Movement Party, leads the race by double-digits. Among other issues, López Obrador’s campaign revolves around ending social and economic inequality, combating corruption in government, and embracing a stronger tone of Mexican nationalism.

However, many detractors of López Obrador have perceived his sentiments of Mexican nationalism as being “anti-American,” something that Kenneth Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and an associate professor of political science says this would be “uncharted territory,” considering that all Mexican presidents dating back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt have been “staunchly pro-USA.”

In an interview with Reuters in Mexico City on Feb. 8, Hector Vasconcelos, a diplomat chosen by presidential front-runner López Obrador, spoke out about contentions made of López Obrador’s policies taking Mexico down a route similar to that in the crisis-hit Venezuela. However, Vasconcelos did say that he did not support U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s socialist government.

“Our emphasis will be on defending the legitimate interests of Mexico, and not on trying to intervene here and there before we put our own house in order,” he said.

Additionally, Vasconcelos emphasized that Mexico would keep close ties to the United States if López Obrador were to win in July, saying that his government would seek an alliance for economic growth instead of a focus on police and military relations.

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What does PA-18 Election Mean for Trump, Republicans, and the Democratic Party?

PA 2018 Election 1Democratic candidate Conor Lamb won the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District on Tuesday, March 13. In a district and state which President Donald Trump won in the 2016 Presidential election, Lamb’s win for the Democrats may predict how both the Democratic and Republican parties navigate their campaigns in the 2018 midterm elections.

Former-Congressman Tim Murphy, a Republican, resigned from Pennsylvania’s 18th District’s seat in the House last year after reports that he encouraged a woman, with whom he had an extramarital affair, to have an abortion.

Primary elections were not held in the race. Instead, nominees were chosen by each party, itself. The Republican Party held a special convention on Nov. 11, 2017, to choose a nominee through a conferee process involving 215 local Republican activists; the Democratic Party held their nominating convention on Nov. 19, 2017; and the Libertarian Party of Allegheny County and the Libertarian Party of Washington County nominated a candidate via party caucus.

Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District is located in Western Pennsylvania, and it borders the state of West Virginia; it includes portions of Greene, Washington, Allegheny, and Westmoreland counties. The district has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) score of R+11, meaning that it tends to vote more Republican.

“As a native Pennsylvanian, I think the recent special election is a good example of the political culture of the state,” said Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science. “Pennsylvania is always labeled a swing state, but prior to 2016, it had not gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988,” he said.

Chapman explained that the reason for this disparity in voting within the state is because of the politically-splintered geography of Pennsylvania.

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Parkland Shooting Survivors Call for Gun Control: “Never Again”

Parkland Shooting Never Again 1Surviving students from the Majority Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School sparked the “Never Again MSD” movement after the mass school shooting in Parkland, FL, on Feb. 14.

The convicted shooter, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire in the high school using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after killing 14 students and 3 staff members, and leaving multiple others injured in the shooting.

“The surviving high school students from [MSD High School] have successfully started a political movement on gun control that we haven’t seen in over 25 years,” said Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science.

“The kids are battling against the National Rifle Association, which is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country,” Patten said.

 “They’re attempting to have legislation enacted that closes the gun show loophole, bans military-style weapons, [like the one used in the Parkland shooting], and raises the age for purchasing some weapons,” he explained

“They are planning a major demonstration for gun control in Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 24, and many Monmouth students are planning on participating in the demonstration,” Patten said.

Additionally, the University has released a statement on Monday, Feb. 28 to assure prospective students who have applied for admission that their participation in the protest in the capital would not affect their admission decisions.

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Menendez Acquitted, Facing His Next Jury

The Voters

Menedez JuryThe U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would not pursue a re-trial of New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption charges on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

After an 11-week trial last fall, which resulted in a hung jury, District Court Judge William Walls declared a mistrial on all 12 charges against Menendez.

However, federal prosecutors said that they intended to retry Menendez on political corruption charges on Friday, Jan. 20.

Menendez, one of only 12 United States Senators to be indicted, faced charges with 12 counts, including bribery and conspiracy, for allegedly accepting trips and contributions from a friend and campaign donor, Salomon Melgen, M.D, a wealthy ophthalmologist in Florida.

Prosecutors accused of Menendez accepting bribes from Melgen in exchange for intervening with federal agencies on his behalf. Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice had been facing a deadline at the end of January to either retry the case or drop the charges.

Accordingly, the Justice Department filed to dismiss its remaining charges against Sen. Bob Menendez, bringing the legal case that has hovered over the New Jersey senior senator for years to a close.

The charges against Melgen were also dropped.

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Mitt Romney Running for United States Senate

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, announced that he is running to represent Utah in the United States Senate, on Friday, Feb. 16.

Romney is known both within the state of Utah for his work as chief executive of the organizing committee for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and nationally from his 2012 presidential run, in which he won the state by nearly 50 points.

“Mitt Romney is royalty here in the state of Utah,” Utah’s Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, said in an interview with Vox.

Currently, Romney’s early poll numbers show a lead of about 40 percent points.

“It’s difficult to envision a scenario where Romney does not win the seat in Utah,” said Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science. 

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate in 2012, has endorsed him in a statement on the same day Romney announced his candidacy.

“Our [Republican] party and our country are always better off when Mitt is engaged,” Ryan said on twitter.

 “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington,” Romney said in his announcement video which he released early morning last Friday.

Likewise, in a pointed quip toward the immigration policies of President Trump, Romney said that “Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world,” while “Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion.”

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Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151