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Politics

Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)

Is This Search or Seizure Legal?

United States Supreme Court Rules on Two Cases This Year That Could Impact Students


The United States Supreme Court recently ruled on two search and seizure cases that involved searching an individual to avoid evidence destruction and house searches that could affect college students.

In California, there was a recent case about a robbery that turned violent. Abel Lopez was attacked and robbed near an alleyway. The cops were called and the victim identified the attacker as Walter Fernandez.

They reached the door of where bystanders saw the robber run to and Walter Fernandez answered the door refusing to let the police in. He was arrested and taken in for questioning. The police came back and preceded to search the residency because of Roxanne Rojas, the co-tenant of the home allowed the search  through both written and verbal consent Even though Walter did not approve, he was then detained and police were permitted to search the apartment, which revealed a plethora of gang weaponry.

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A Conversation About Unrest in Ukraine with Dr. Charles Cotton

Dr. Charles Cotton, an adjunct political science professor, sat down with me to explain and discuss the current situation happening in Ukraine.

Jasmine Ramos: What exactly is happening in Ukraine?

Charles Cotton: Well, there obviously was some civil dissatisfaction with the previous government that was backed by the Russian government and thus, this lead to some civil unrest in the capital, Kiev which ultimately lead to the Russian-backed leader fleeing the country.

During the whole maul of things, he was also kicked out by the parliament, from what I understand and a more pro-western government is now currently in place. The civil unrest in Kiev has for the most part subsided.

There were a few days during the Olympics where things were getting quite out of hand and things escalated out of control very quickly, but then also died down very quickly, as a result.

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A Panel Clears Christie of Involvement in “Bridgegate”

Legislative Investigation Still Ongoing and Searching for Answers


A legal review board of Governor Chris Christie’s involvement in “Bridgegate” has cleared the governor of any wrong doing or prior knowledge of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, according to Politico.com on March 24, 2014.

However, two more investigations are still in place by the New Jersey State Legislature and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.

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The California Six: Petition Filed to Split CA into Six States

Proposed Split Looks to Increase Tax Revenue but Could Weaken Representation in Congress


There is a petition started by Tim Draper, founding partner of DraperFisher Jurvetso, to split California into six separate states claiming that California is too large of a state to govern.

The question is frequently asked: will the splitting of California really solve the numerous issues that are occurring? Or will the State fall into anarchy?

California’s population and diverse culture has led the state to become practically ungovernable. All the different religions, cultures, and each city having their own niche of ideals has made it a great impossibility for the government to have control, according to the Huffington Post

When Professor Gregory Bordelon, lecturer of the political science department, was asked if diversity makes a state harder to govern he responded, “Concededly yes. Every entity to go through any state shouldn’t be the driving source for a succession movement. The separate sections of the state have more things in common than separate to make a split. Californian presence in the Congress will weaken if they separate. If they lose that, they will not have a strong influence. No one will want to go to California.”

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Negative: Fracking Causes Major Environmental Issues

Political Showdown: Is Fracking an Environmental Issue or Economic Stimulus?


The Up-shot

While the positive aspects of fracking and gas-drilling may seem appealing to those searching for domestically produced and protected sources of energy, the negative impacts these practices have upon the environment, the economies, and the people who exist locally and nationally are too big to ignore. In evaluating whether or not fracking is a viable option in changing America’s energy dependence, there cannot be a unanimous decision made without seriously evaluating the negative effects fracking has.

Until legislation can be passed and practices can be perfected, fracking should be kept as a back-burner option in trying to establish energy dependence. Without a healthy environment, a successful economy and an invested population, fracking will really serve no purpose, as there will be no outlet for the fracking’s energy to flow.

Safety and Health:

The health and safety risks associated with fracking are insurmountable and should be taken seriously. Air pollution, earthquakes, global warming emissions and associated health problems arise from the process of fracking, impacting residents surrounding such areas both environmentally and medically.

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Pro-Fracking: Shale Gas is Most Effective Form of Energy

Political Showdown: Is Fracking an Environmental Issue or Economic Stimulus?


Hydraulic fracturing or “Fracking” is a process where the injection of water along with other chemicals into well boreswhich creates fractures in rock deep into the ground. The fractures can free up natural gas, petroleum, and shale gas, allowing for the creation of well used to extract the resources. Fracking has been most known for:

1) Growing the shale gas industry

2) Its connection to environmental and health concerns. With all the media attention and controversy that Hydraulic Fracturing has aroused the question remains: Is fracking a harmful and dastardly process that we should fight to end, or is it a safe and reliable way to ensure energy independence for the US now and in the future?

From protesters surrounding drill sites, to multiple documentaries, fracking has created quite a stir. But has the opposition, the likes of Matt Damon and Rolling Stone looked at the full picture when it comes to the net value of fracking.

There is no doubt that the extraction of natural gas can have negative consequences for the local environment, but this is a common hazard of any fossil fuel extraction. The most telling place to look for solid evidence is Pennsylvania.

The Marcellus Shale which runs predominantly under most of the state has been seen as a “mecca” for natural gas. The geological formation is estimated to have enough natural gas to fuel American homes for 50 years. As for the communities within Penn, there has been no evidence of chemicals seeping into the drinking water which is drilled hundreds of feet underground. The shale deposit sits thousands of feet underground, nowhere near drinking water. 

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Immigration and College Education Affordability

In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama declared that it was time for Congress to pass immigration reform legislation yet Democrats and Republicans cannot seem to agree on the correct way to go about changing immigration policy. And this has caused legislation to stall including legislation that will affect college students.

Part of this indecision comes from Senate and House Republicans, who claim that they do not trust Obama to follow through on tighter border security and to enforce laws that are passed. Speaker John Boehner seemed enthusiastic to work on immigration reform, but has also expressed his concern that this bill, if put to a vote in the House, will not pass because many Republicans in the House are up for midterm elections according to The Washington Times. A recent poll showed that voters in Iowa would not vote for a Republican candidate that supported immigration reform. Like most of the legislation these past few years, the vote is being left up to the states.

One of the reforms that is being left up to the states is a bill called the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) act.

The DREAM Act gives college students, who are in the US illegally, monetary help for college tuition. Students applying for the DREAM Act must meet a list of requirements to qualify for any kind of monetary aid. Some of the requirements include having entered the US before the age of 16, living in the US five years before the bill was enacted in that state, and having completed high school, obtaining the GED or is attending college.

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Conspiracy Theories: Government Cover Ups or Fun Stories?

It’s the human want to be able to understand everything. Being able to trust the information given to us and not question it. But what if we’ve been taught was a lie. What we thought were cold stone facts was actually an elaborate government cover up.

One shot by the hand of Lee Harvey Oswald was all it took; The life of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was taken. Others say there were two gunmen. But, what if it was neither? What if the story to be told here was a less commonly known one?

That November morning in 1963 President Kennedy knew he was going into an area of Texas where party leaders were feuding.

Nonetheless, he needed the votes to win the election of 1964 - so he went anyway. The most deterring event that led to the decreasing support of President Kennedy was the Bay of Pigs. The reasoning behind this is the government agencies known as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations did not think enough was being done about the leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, which gave motive for them to send in hit men to assassinate the President of the United States.

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Sweeney’s “Sandy Bill of Rights” Could Help Victims of Storm Get Answers Regarding Aid Application

NJ Senate President Steven Seeney pushed for his Sandy Bill of Rights. This bill is supposed to help with several things including, creating a clearer explanation of what is needed to be eligible for Sandy relief programs, the right to know the status of your relief application, the right to know why your application has been rejected, and the right to appeal if your application has been rejected on Feb. 19th.

In an article from the News 12 New Jersey website, Sweeny said, “As the governor, you’re responsible for what happens here,” He continued. “He’s responsible for this program, and it is a failure.”

There are communities all over New Jersey are still rebuilding from the storm. It seems like it was only yesterday NJ Governor, Chris Christie, was working side by side with President Obama in effort to rebuild the damage that was done to the state. Volunteers from New Jersey and around the country were helping in the recovery effort and helping others in need. So what is going on now?

Across the state, there are still residents that have not been able to move back into their homes. Other residents are still awaiting relief money. So who is to blame? Could it be Governor Christie or the Federal Government? Is it FEMA or the insurance companies? No matter whose fault it is, the bottom line is that the people of New Jersey want answers.

The importance of this bill is that it focuses on the disorganization of the Sandy recover effort. Many New Jersey residents have been left unaware of their relief status.

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Budget Cuts for the Military Include Closing Bases and the Amount of Active Duty Soldiers

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed budget cuts that will downsize the military to its smallest size in 74 years, closing military bases and other military-wide savings on Feb. 24.

In this plan, which Congress can change, the active-duty Army would shrink from its current 522,000 soldiers to between 440,000 to 450,000. That would be almost 100,00 soldiers gone, the smallest number just before the U.S entered World War II. This would be providing the Pentagon with $26 billion on top of the $496 billion it will be receive due to the budget deal passed two months ago.

Criminal Justice Professor John Comiskey, and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, said “2014 does not need pre-WWII personnel numbers. Technology has reduced the need for masses of troops to defend national interest.”

Another part of this proposal is the elimination of the Air Force’s fleet of A-20 aircraft and U-2 spy planes, and reductions in the size of the Army National Guard.

There has been speculation that the money being saved from this cut, could go towards welfare across the country. Former Vice President Dick Cheney does not agree with said plan. When being interviewed on Fox New’s “Hannity”, he believes Obama “would rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on strong military or support the troops.”

Many governors from both U.S political parties plan to talk to Obama about preventing such cuts to the National Guard units.

“In downsizing the military, we want to make sure that reserve and National Guard is protected in our country,” Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republican Wisconsin Governor  Scott Walker very much agreed with Mallo’s take on the subject. “I think there is common agreement amongst all 50 governors that we shouldn’t go back to pre-9/11 standards when it comes to the National Guard,” he said.

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National Minimum Wage Could Be on the Rise to Keep Up with Inflation

The debate over the national minimum wage looks to raise it from $7.25 to possibly $10.10 an hour. New Jersey, along with 19 other states and the District of Columbia, have minimum wages higher than the national minimum wage.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics minimum wage, if it kept up with the rising inflation would be at $10.74. This point along with a number of testimonies and deliberation has lead the US congress to consider a bill raising the federal minimum wage. Democrats would like to see the raise reach $10.10 by 2016. T

The President has been very vocal in his support for this change. Friday in Connecticut, President Obama said that higher wages will help, lift hard-working people out of poverty, giving them more money to spend and businesses, more customers and higher profits. He called it, “a virtuous cycle we can create.”

House Republicans have fought the plan, citing the negative effects such policy would have on the unemployment. The Congressional Budget Office release a report tuesday confirming fears of job loss close to .3 percent, or 500,000. The report has been criticized on Tuesday by multiple labor economists for its lack of specificity, putting the job loss range from zero to one million, and for overstating the bill’s effect on the job market. Economist Lawrence Katz of Harvard, said that the CBO used, “a lot of off the shelf estimates”, and he believes the findings would have been more realistic adhering to some higher quality studies.

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