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Politics

Volume 83 (Fall 2011 - Spring 2012)

Political Debate: Should the United States Get Involved with Aid to Yemen?

Side 1: The U.S. Should Give Aid to Yemen as a Form of Protection


default article imageCurrently in Yemen, protests and government instability has allowed Al-Qaeda to take over cities in the southern part of the country, particularly the port of Aden where 140,000 barrels of oil pass through every day. National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter has called Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or ‘AQAP’ the biggest threat to the U.S. Homeland. The attempted bombing of U.S. flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 marked a shift in terrorist activity, since the attack came from Yemen, and not central Al - Qaeda leadership in South Asia. Most importantly, however, may be the scary possibility of a potential nuclearized AQAP. According to Larry J. Arbuckle, a Navy Lieutenant, Al-Qaeda could obtain nuclear weapons. The problem has been that they have not had enough financing to be able to do so yet. AQAP taking over Yemen and gaining influence in the region can possibly lead to them obtaining a nuclear weapon. President Obama said in 2011 that if Al-Qaeda obtained nuclear weapons they would have “no compunction” of using them. According to Obama, “The single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term, medium-term and longterm, would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Stopping Al-Qaeda in Yemen needs to be a top priority for the American government.

In addition to Al-Qaeda, the United States have moral obligations to the women in Yemen. According to the Yemeni Secretary of Health, women have barely any rights in Yemen currently; they are arrested arbitrarily for “immoral” acts such as smoking, adultery, or eating in a restaurant with a “boyfriend.” Women also do not have the ability to marry who they please. If a woman wants to get married she must get the permission of a man in her family, if she has no male relatives she must go to a judge. Women in Yemen have a one-in-three chance of being able to read and write. Women have a one-in-five chance of being attended by a mid-wife when giving birth, as well as a one in 39 chance of dying while giving birth. As the woman is the primary caregiver of children, if the mother dies the child has an increased risk of dying shortly thereafter. There is no law in Yemen stating how old a woman must be before she can get married, girls as young as 12 find themselves with a husband.

Many people may say that these problems are too complex and that it is not the responsibility of the United States to send money to other countries. However, the Yemeni people are specifically asking the United States to help the revolution. Tawakkol Karman, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of a leading non-governmental organization in Yemen wrote a New York Times article saying, “We ask our friends in Washington to help us build a democratic future.” She was also quoted as saying “Together, we can eliminate the causes of extremism and the culture of terrorism by bolstering civil society and encouraging development and stability.” Student Lex Todd agreed by saying, “Tawakkol Karmen the Nobel Peace Prize winner know exactly what the Yemeni people need, her calling out to the United States shows that sending foreign aid needs to be a top priority for the government of the U.S.”

According to the National Democratic Institute, Non-Government Organizations and Central Statistical Organizations have been successful at reforms regarding political, economic, democracy, and women. Democracy assistance has also been known to combat terrorism. Many new recruits are joining AQAP because they simply need to make money, or because they have no representation within government. By helping NGO’s and CSO’s in Yemen, the United States will allow for the people of Yemen to have no reason to want to join any extremist groups. Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of Political Science commented by saying, “It’s easy to topple a government, its harder to rebuild. NGO’s and CSO’s have shown the capacity to rebuild Yemen and help democratize the country which wil lead to a prosperous future” The U.S. needs to change the culture in Yemen for the better. However, these same groups known to reform society are starving for funding. They have been successful at a small local level but Yemen is a very fragmented country, and they need more funding to be successful on a national level. The U.S. currently gives $25 million per year to Yemen, not nearly enough following a recent request by the Yemeni government of an assessment of close to $14 billion will be needed to implement the type of reforms necessary to solve for the abuses currently taking place.

Side 2: Yemen is Not Necessarily an Ally


In the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions, Democracy in the Middle East is an increasingly important foreign policy initiative for the United States. Authoritarian regimes have been toppled in countries like Egypt Tunisia, and Libya, but atrocities against Arab citizens are still being committed, as seen in the past week, most notably in Syria. As we examine the crisis in the Middle East from an international political perspective, we must ask if democracy is realistic; ultimately make the region more stable and safe. These are the questions that will define American foreign policy in the region for years to come.

After an October U.N. resolution called for an end to violence against the country’s citizens, President Saleh who had been badly burned amidst this violence, signed power over to Yemen’s Vice President and called for elections to be held by late November, according to an article in the New York Times in February of 2012. While on the surface these democratic elections can be a positive transition for countries like Yemen, in the long run they may not be so instrumental in ensuring global peace and security. Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have been gaining a significant amount of power throughout the Arab Spring countries and have demonstrated their power in sweeping elections. This influence is evident in Yemen as well. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, even democracy building non-government organizations, such as the Syrian National Council, have had Muslim Brotherhood ties, furthering their political will into the governments of revolutionized countries. Bryan Nardone, Fiance major stated “More extremism in the region will most likely breed more civil unrest.” If these groups already have a hand in the structuring of democracy, then these elections are not representing the democratic will of the voters. Professor Nicole Bizzoco, an adjunct political science professor said, “they have not historically been an ally. We are also spread too thin financially as well as militarily in other conflicts toreally provide much in terms of those resources to Yemen. I think focusing onhumanitarian aid and supportingthe people’s push for democracy where feasible is our best bet.”

Israel is an important country to factor in while considering these democratic transitions. If these Islamic regimes start to gain power, will their hostility towards Israel be demonstrated by the policies they enact? In an October 2011 report by journalist Steven Emerson, prominent members of the group, such as Essam el-Erian, stated openly that the “Existence of a state for Jews is against all rules of states all over the world.” The group has also expressed wide spread support for Hamas in Palestine. With a shift in power that crucial, it could trigger unrest in the Middle East that is even worse than it is currently. Open hostility and acts of aggression towards Israel would incite this.

American interests can also be compromised by a shift of power in the Middle East. With more of an extremist-Islamic influence being ushered into political regimes, an anti-western sentiment could be perpetuated. America must recognize that an increase in aid to the new democratic systems may ultimately fund and assist governments that display hostility towards them and threaten peace with Israel. If conflict enhances between Israel and the Arab states it would not only increase violence, but could call for the U.S. to get involved on some level when the country is just getting out of the war in Iraq as well as dialing down our involvement in Afghanistan. Pushing for such rapid change may not be the most stable choice for the U.S. In a region where rogue elements like terrorist groups and extremist organizations wield a substantial amount of violent power, this governmental transition could become the ideal opportunity for a power grab. Bizzoco stated, “The U.S. government has the difficult task of balancing evaluating threats and determining where best to expend our limited resources. As we have learned from Iraq, however, the government needs to really perform due diligence on the intelligence it uses to determine if a military strategy is appropriate in a particular country within the region.”

The world powers must take gradual steps to ensure that progress will not be hindered by hasty actions influenced by the passions of the moment. As a prominent world power it is a responsibility for the U.S. to assist these countries in the most effective way. By doing this peace and stability can be preserved.

SGA Minutes 1/25/12

default article imageThe SGA met on February 15 for a general meeting. Presi-dent Nicole Levy reminded the Senate about volunteer op-portunities such as the “Undie Run”possible “Penny War” and an opportunity to help those affected by the Brighton fire tragedy. Vice President Nagy addressed the Senate about the staff of the University being rude. She asks that you file a concise statement about the situation. Nagy also wanted to remind everyone that there is a doctor and psychiatrist at the Heath Center for eight to 10 hours a week and are available in case of emergency.

Alternative Spring break is coming up and this year it is a trip to Guatemala. The group is re-questing money to help fund their trips. This is a community ser-vice trip and those who have done it in the past have come back with once in a lifetime experience.

Nagy also commented on the 260 cases of the Norovirus at Princeton and Rider. She wanted to assure the students that there is an enormous effort to sanitize the campus. The fire marshal recent-ly explained that the doors in the Student Center doors are intended to be used as fire doors and can no longer be propped open.

Ravi Shah of Student Affairs came and addressed the Univer-sity’s attempt at recycling more on campus. The University is also looking into installing a large amount of new solar panels. Some students have complained that the landscaping crew has been using leaf blowers and lawnmowers too early in the morning on the resi-dential side. The goal is to have them use the tools past 10 a.m.

Carmine Ruocco spoke with Vice President Nagy about the use of meal plans in multiple lo-cations. Students will be able to use their meal plan in the Stu-dent Center, Shadows and Magil Dining Hall. Students will also be able to transfer declining dol-lars from the fall semester to the spring semester but it will not al-low the dollars to be transferred from the spring to the fall of the following school year.

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Feel Like Redecorating? Try Some of These Dorm Ideas

dormDecorating a room is a great way to express yourself. Many interior-decorating techniques can be used to create an image you want to convey towards the company you have over.

One of the best places to try decorating extravaganzas is in a dorm room. Why you may ask? Well for starters, it’s not permanent. By the end of this semester, many of you will be moving out of your dorm rooms. That poster, bedspread, or color-motif you originally set up in your room is not permanent. If in a couple of months, weeks or days you don’t like your original design of the room, it’s very easy to change it or spruce it up with a couple of steps.

The dorm is also a great place to express yourself because it’s a time of independence. You’re moved out of your house and this is your time to learn about yourself, especially through the form of expression. Use the dorm as a venue of expression, and decorate. There are many techniques and tricks to design a dorm room.

Set-up is the foundation of any room, especially when a room is limited in space. It can be difficult for many people to decorate a limited space without overdoing it, and essentially over-cramping it, making the room seem more cluttered and busy. In a dorm room, occupancy ranges from one to three individuals, which can lead up to three beds, three dressers and three desks. Creating space in a dorm room can be difficult, but with some techniques, more space can be created, making it easier to decorate.

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Will the Real Winter Please Show Up?

Real WinterThe weather that Mother Nature has been gracing us with seems to be the only thing more unpredictable than scoring a prime parking spot in the zoo, better known as the commuter lot.

Scarves, hats, gloves, and heavy puffer coats are considered typical winter fashion; however, the recent indecisive weather pattern has made wearing a t-shirt to class in February the norm on campus.

The Washington Post reported that many parts of the central and eastern United States have been experiencing temperatures 20 to 30 degrees warmer than average. The unusually warm weather has transformed winter fashion, causing students and faculty to adapt to the random changes to the best of their ability.

“I’ve noticed my students coming to class dressed in layers,” said communication professor Shannon Hokanson. Hokanson, who takes an interest in fashion, sees the relatively warmer weather as a positive opportunity.

“Ponchos are also very popular among my students,” explained Hokanson. Entering the world of high fashion this fall season, ponchos have made a smooth transition into the winter season considering the current weather pattern.

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Will Super PACs be a Game Changer in the 2012 Presidential Election?

Super PACs Game ChangerSuper PACs (political action committees) have already proven themselves extremely important to political candidates as well as their party affiliations thus far in the primary season. Free to flood a campaign with as much money as they can, this new type of political action committee has already had immense impact on the presidential campaign process. However, the question remains: Will Super PACs be a game changer in the 2012 Presidential Election?

According to the Federal Election Commission’s website, a political action committee, or PAC, is the name given to a private group of any size that is organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation.

Under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, an organization becomes a political committee by receiving contributions or making payments of more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election.  When an interest group, union, or corporation wants to contribute to federal candidates or a particular political party, it must do so through a PAC.

In order to understand the basics of political action committees, the Federal Election Commission from which they stemmed must first be explained. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 is a United States federal law, which explained the rules and regulations behind federal campaign contributions.

It was amended in 1974 to place legal limitations on campaign contributions. This amendment, in turn, created the regulatory organization known as the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that we know today. By federal law as outlined by the FEC, PACs must report all of the financial activities, including direct donations and other expenses, to the Federal Election Commission, which then makes the reports available to the public.

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Gov. Christie: Controversy with Civil Rights Comment

default article imageGovernor Chris Christie recently sparked a controversy because of a comment he made during his announcement for a voter referendum on same sex marriage in New Jersey. Stating citizens should decide on the issue and not the state legislature, Christie added “I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil-rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”

While Christie has received flack for wanting to put the issue on a ballot, his comment has received much more backlash from both state politicians like Newark Mayor Cory Booker, former New Jersey governors, and other African-American figures like civil-rights leader and U.S. House representative John Lewis.

Hettie Williams, a lecturer of African American History said the statement “was not grounded in historical context,” as African American’s rights were violated through statutes passed by local and state governments “that led to the rise of segregation sanctioned by the Supreme Court.”

“African Americans who attempted to vote or exercise their rights as citizens were routinely harassed, raped, beaten, and lynched,” said Williams. “The Civil Rights Movement was a reaction to the violence leveled against African Americans despite amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

Dr. Nancy Mezey, director of the sociology program, is not surprised that Christie’s comment was criticized and thinks they should be critical, as his statement was “based on ignorance on a time when a public referendum on civil rights would not have ended in favor of equal rights for African Americans.”

“Christie not only holds a public office in which he should be advocating for all of his constituents, but he is also held in high regard by Republicans throughout the U.S.,” said Dr. Mezey, “He has a responsibility to make well informed comments and choices.”

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Israel Held Responsible for Deaths of Iranian Scientists

default article imageSuspects behind the killings of Iranian nuclear scientists surmounted behind a homegrown terrorist group, but it was unclear where the group had been receiving its financing, training and arming until early Friday morning when Iranian officials levied the Israeli Secret Service and the United States as those responsible. 

Since 2007, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) has launched fatal attacks, resulting in the deaths of five Iranian nuclear scientists. 

The Iranian government discovered the make of the bombs, as well as the links between Israel and the MEK, after a failed bombing in late 2010 when the government interrogated the apprehended bomber.

The magnetic car bomb from last month matched ones identified from prior attacks.

Earlier last month, NBC News reported the dramatics behind planting the explosive devices to the scientist’s cars.  During peak commuting hours, the “motorcycle borne assailants” approached the car, attached a magnetized explosive device to the side of the car, and sped away before it detonated.  

The latest scientist to fall at the hands of his assailant was 32yearold, was professor and deputy director at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.

Earlier assassinations include Majid Shahriari, in November 2010, and Massoud Ali Mohammadi in January of that year.  The November assassination left Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, wounded. He later became the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, according to NBC.

Iran’s nuclear program has always been a subject of high debate throughout the international community due to the country’s withholding of project information.

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The True Laughing Matter

True Laughing MatterAs with every perfect storm, there are always the ideal conditions that allow for complete exploitation and bring such a force into strengthened new heights.

This permits such onlookers to watch in rapt amazement as to what is unfolding before them.

A blossoming campaign environment can be viewed purely as a clean slate to a promising political future, whereas the very same setting can serve as optimal stomping grounds for legions of political satirists.

Some of the most notable individuals in political satire, such as John Stewart, Steven Colbert and Seth MacFarlane, have boosted themselves into household name status simply by producing this certain breed of entertainment based on poking fun at mainstream journalism. Although it never hurts to see things from a different perspective, or in a lighter tone for that matter, is it quite possible that society might be taking such jokes a little to far? Furthermore, are such attitudes being developed by this entertainment hungry audience that might, quite frankly, be creating a self-imposed blindness to new information?

Megan Fielding, a first year student, personally believes this is not the case. “I don’t think people rely too heavily on comedian’s opinions, though I believe to some extent they do. In the end though, they are entertainers and the viewers should be able to formulate their own opinions,” states Fielding.

However according to Professor Nogueira, a Communication professor,  t is very possible that people are, in fact, relying  heavily on these comedians and are allowing their jokes to become their true opinions. “There has been a lot of research done concerning Steven Colbert and John Stewart and the effect they have on the younger people, in particular college age kids, who get their information solely from those sources,” says Nogueira.

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Why Are the Youth Not Voting?

Youth Not Voting 1One vote. That’s all that it takes for someone to not only change the outcome of any given election, but also determine which paths will be taken, what rules and regulations shall be determined and how secure a populous will be in the not too distant future, but somehow the youth voter is shrinking. 

Conversely despite all of the importance held behind such a vote, many youths can’t help but wonder if that one vote can truly hold a vital significance.  Renee Kelsey, a freshman, believes many youths don’t vote because of these mindsets. “Youths don’t vote in elections because they are lazy and don’t want to pay attention, or think it’s a waste of time to vote and that their vote won’t matter.”

Whereas freshman Lindsey Pieschl states that, although she plans on voting this upcoming election, she hadn’t felt the need to vote before.

Such behaviorism’s stated by Kelsey and felt by Pieschl are those that every youth in America face come election time. These connotations can primarily be attributed to a basic lack of trust and unity felt amongst young Americans with the political system, as compared to that of the collective, yet polarized, sides held by voters’ ages 50 and up.

With youth voting in most scenarios serving as the minority in polled opinion, it is no wonder that several find themselves asking the age old question, “Does my vote even matter?”  It is this train of thought that has proved to be one of the key factors in deterring past youths from making their views known in the polls.

Another leading cause contributing to these inhibitions is education. The fact that voting is a privilege is something that has been drilled into every student’s head from elementary to high school. Unfortunately, that is about all that most can truly recall about voting. Pieschl states that, “We know that people died for that right and that we should utilize it, but we don’t really know how to go about it.”

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Local Republican Running for National Senate Seat

default article imageJoseph Kyrillos Jr., a Monmouth County State Senator, has hopes of moving from Trenton to Washington, D.C. next year. He announced on Wednesday, February 1 that he seeks Senator Menendez Senate seat.

Kyrillos, who represents the 13th Legislative District in the New Jersey Senate, which includes Monmouth County and the University, announced two weeks ago his intention to seek the Republican nomination and to challenge U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic incumbent, according to the Star Ledger.

Kyrillos, last week issued a statement laying out his reasoning for seeking the higher office, warning that “Our country is in trouble and Washington is failing us.” He had shifted his exploratory committee into a campaign committee to run for federal office and take on national challenges.

According to Kyrillos State Senate biography, Kyrillos, 51, is a Middletown resident. His education includes a B.A. in political science from Hobart College and a M.S. in communication from Boston University. He is a commercial Real Estate Broker for Colliers International. He was the Chairman of Chris Christie’s campaign for Governor and N.J. Republican State Committee Chair from 20012004. He has been in the Senate from 1992 to the present, the Republican Conference Leader from 2002 to 2003, Majority Conference Leader from 1997 to 2001 and served in the General Assembly 19881989. Senator Joseph Kyrillos serves on the Economic Growth, Judiciary, and Legislative Oversight Committees.

Kyrillo hopes to improve the economic state of those in New Jersey and across the United States. “Americans have seen their neighbors lose their jobs, their home values fall, their savings shrink and their economic horizon darkened by a record $15 trillion national debt,” he said. “Washington has responded with nothing but partisan squabbling and reckless spending, and now Bob Menendez is seeking reelection to deliver more of the same.” stated Kyrillo.

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Harvard Political Science Professor Robert Putnam Visits University

Harvard Professor Visits UniversityHarvard Political Science professor and writer Robert Putnam spoke in Wilson Auditorium on Friday, January 27. It is hard to find a political science book in the world today which doesn’t mention Putnam. His book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, is a national bestseller, it is a critically acclaimed book about the decline of social capital in our society. He was the winner of the 2006 John Skytte award for the most valuable contribution to Political Science. He had been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Daily Herald and The Nation. The London Sunday Times has called him the “Most influential academic today” for his scholarly achievement in Political Science. He has worked with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama to push his ideas for civic renewal.

His work, however, exceeds the classroom. Putnam was the creator of the Saguaro Seminar. This seminar was an initiative by Putnam to increase social capital in America. Social Capital was a term coined by Putnam in his book Bowling Alone. Putnam was the first to make the country aware of the shrinking social gap in America and the consequences that can come with it. Unlike many people in political science who may talk about many problems but offer a few solutions, Putnam has decided to work on making this country a better place, which has gained him much national notoriety. Dean of the Honors School, Kevin Dooley commented on Putnam’s work by stating, “The talk which examined his new book American Grace, examined the nature of religious attitudes in the United States and how they have risen to prominence today.”

In his speech at the University, Putnam discussed his new book American Grace co-written with Notre Dame Professor David Campbell. American Grace has been touted as the most important religious book in decades. He talked about the role of religion in our society and how 50 percent of all social activities still involve religion. A major change has occurred in our country regarding peoples’ faith and how they practice and how they feel towards those of other religions. In the 1950’s, families were going to church every Sunday and were much more involved in religious society. Dooley commented saying, “His presentation was fascinating because it argued that Americans are actually quite tolerant toward people with different religious backgrounds and that most Americans today do not like it when politicians use religion when discussing politics.”

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