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Politics

Student Loan Interest Rates Reach A Dead End

occupy-student-loanSenator Elizabeth Warren's "Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act", proposed in May 2014 was shot down. The bill sought to "allow most individuals with student loans (both federal and private) to refinance those loans into new federal direct loans at interest rates specified in the bill," according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The proposal was voted down by Senate Republicans who claimed the bill was a political move, pitting students against the wealthy. This is because of the provision within the bill in which the drop in interest will be covered by the wealthiest Americans.

During summer 2013, Congress almost allowed the interest to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The outcome was an interest rate fixed on a 10 year treasury note. This was seen as compromise by the parties, but did not begin to address the growing problem of student debt.

According to Businessweek, students who take out loans at 7.1 percent interest, owe in aggregate 1.2 trillion dollars, owing an average of 30,000 dollars each. The U.S. Government clears four billion dollars each year from student loans.

Private lenders, however, can raise interest rates as high as 20 percent. The picture is clearly a dismal one for college students as well as graduates. How could it get this bad for students, when there was a time an American could work his way through college?

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Christie Vetoes Smoking Ban at Beaches and Parks

Christie-BelmarNJ Governor Chris Christie vetoed bill S1772 that would ban smoking from public parks and limit smoking at beaches across NJ on Sept. 10. According to NJ.com, the bill, which had overwhelming support in both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature, proposed that violators would receive a $250 fine for a first offense, $500 for the second, and id="mce_marker",000 for a third offense.

According to NJ.com, the bill received a lot of admiration from environmentalists and anti-smoking advocates because they believe that it will prevent second-hand smoke, reduce liter, and prevent fires.

Dr. Laura Jannone, Chair of the Department of Nursing, said, "Passive smoking is divided into mainstream and sidestream smoke. Mainstream smoke is the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Sidestream smoke is the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette. Both cause increased cases of lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis."

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially declared second-hand smoke a carcinogen in 1993. Also smoker's children are more likely to get respiratory infections. Jannone said, "It is surprising the Governor would veto this when so many communities in NJ and across the country have already banned smoking in public places."

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Debate Season Opener: Hawks Prep for West Point

MU-DebateThe 2015 policy debate season is in full swing, as the Monmouth University Debate Hawks are preparing for their first tournament at the US Military Academy in West Point, NY.

Specifically, policy debate is a competition in which teams face off to implement change regarding a pre-established debate topic. The topics, known as resolutions in the debate world, guide teams in crafting plans that are presented during competition, with the hope of winning the judge's favor and getting passed.

This year, debaters are preparing cases involving the legalization of one, some or all of the following: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, and/or the sale of human organs.

In addition to offering policy debate as a club, Monmouth also incorporates the program as a semester long course, which aspires to bring in new debaters to teach them about competitive debate. The team, advised by Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology has approximately 35 members debating this season.

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Supreme Court Reopens Same-Sex Marriage

gay-marriage-nypostSame-sex marriage is returning to the Supreme Court quietly, for now, but soon enough with a shout.

The court's nine justices will meet privately on Monday to consider hundreds of petitions for the upcoming new term. The most anticipated of them would test whether the Constitution encompasses a right of same-sex couples to marry.

"It's inevitable at this point that the court will recognize marriage equality," said David Cole, a liberal professor at Georgetown University Law Center. "The question is when."

In truth, other key questions include who, which, how and how far?

Specifically: Who will argue the cases and, perhaps, reap the glory? Which state bans, in particular, will be the focus? How will the court reason in its final decision, and how far will the decision-making extend?

During their "long conference," which precedes the Oct. 6 start of the court's new term, the justices will consider seven petitions involving state bans on same-sex marriage. Lower appellate courts struck down the marriage restrictions in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.

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Campaign Finance Revitalized? Senate Halts Reform

On Monday, Sept. 8, the US Senate missed allowing a vote to propose a Constitutional amendment to create limits on campaign spending by corporations. The amendment would overturn the 2014 Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC which held that individuals could donate an unlimited amount of funds to campaigns, according to the Federal Election Committee’s website.

This amendment was unanimously rejected by Senate Republicans on Thursday, September 11. According to freepressonline.com, the amendment was sponsored by Democrat Tom Udall of New Mexico. The amendment would grant Congress and the states the power to regulate the amount of spending on campaigns from Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs).

Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department said, “[Super PACs are] a new type of political action committee created after the “Citizens United” and “Speechnow” Supreme Courts cases in 2010 which allows PACs to now raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and unions and spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns.”

He continued, “This is worrisome to many because wealthy individuals and organizations can now give unlimited amounts of “dark money” (unknown funding sources) and can have a disproportionate influence over individual races.”

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Political Science Welcomes Dr. Stephen Chapman

The Outlook spoke with Dr. Stephen Chapman, Assistant Professor of Political Science.

The Outlook: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Chapman: Well, I grew up in Pennsylvania. I’m a native of Easton, PA which is only about an hour and a half from here. I did my graduate work at Binghamton University in upstate New York and now I’m here so I’m pretty proud I kept in the tri-state area.

Other than that I’m a big baseball fan, a big Phillies fan. I like to have fun when I can. I like to have a good time, which I try to transfer to my classroom atmosphere. I didn’t want to have a rigid professor-student line. I prefer to have it more fluid.

The Outlook: What drew you to Monmouth University?

Chapman: I knew when I started my graduate work that I wanted to end up at a liberal arts university. I knew that I loved teaching. It’s really more about what I can do for the student than for my own gravitas.

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A Documentary, America’s Backyard: Columbia

The Longest Drug War


Untitled-1We live in a world where communication is vital. The problem we face is the lack of communication between two groups. Whether allies or enemies, there is often a miscommunication somewhere between them that will catapult into a huge problem.

In Columbia, there are two groups: the guerrillas and the parliamentarians.

The drug war in Columbia has gone on for over 20 years. The guerrillas are screaming "let us grow and cultivate our coco plants" while the other in the interest of public safety is trying to get rid of them with any means necessary. Instead of the parliamentarians diplomatically engaging the opposition, the peasants/guerrillas get their plants mutilated.

There is a misconception that if something needs to be curtailed; guns and military officers are sent in to deal with it. Why jump to that right of the bat? why not have that difficult conversation and get a compromise worked out?

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New Jersey Kicks Off Sports Gambling

Monmouth Park Will Soon Expand Its Gambling Selection


Untitled3The Christie Administration took an initiative to revitalize the struggling casino industry by enabling casinos and horse tracks to permit sports gambling. The directive, allows gambling institutions to maintain sports pools "without criminal or civil liability," and was issued Sept. 9, according to the Governor's website.

Betting on sports teams does have some guidelines. First, wagering is prohibited on any of New Jersey's amateur athletics organizations. Adding to this, the directive prevents wagering on any teams that are playing within the state. For example, if the Duke Blue Devils play a basketball game at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, betting is prohibited. However, if the same team plays in North Carolina, betting is permitted.

According to Dr. John Buzza, specialist professor of business, sports wagering could provide a much needed boost to faltering NJ casinos. Buzza said, "My feeling is that sports wagering is simply another way for the general public to spend their disposable income in a gambling mode. Will it have impact on the casinos? For sure!"

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Two Journalists Dead, Now ISIS Threatens Russia

What's is Russia's Next Move?


Untitled2In wake of the beheadings of two American journalists by the radical Islamist group, ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL,- news outlets from around the country and even the world have been covering America's response, led by President Barrack Obama, to quell the new threat. With all the talk of President Obama's handling of the situation, ISIS has also challenged a familiar American foe, Vladimir Putin, and Russia.

According to CBS Washington D.C. local, on August 31 saying, "Vladimir Putin, these are the Russian planes that you sent to Bashar. Allah willing, we will take them back to your own turf, and liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus, Allah willing. Your throne is being threatened by us."

ISIS's threat to Russia is especially interesting considering the recent tension between American President Barrack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russian aggression in the Ukraine. In this case, will the enemy of our enemy be our friend?

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Obama Delays Immigration Plan

President Barack Obama made the decision to abstain from any immigration executive action until after the midterm elections On September 7. This caused a backlash in the Latino Community by contradicting promises Obama made earlier this summer.

During a speech on June 30, Obama said, "Today, I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress."

Obama reiterated the same idea during a naturalization ceremony in July at the White House. He stated, "I'm going to keep doing everything I can to make our immigration system smarter and more efficient."

Obama said this after ending a week during which he slammed congressional republicans for inaction on immigration reform and promised to take executive actions. "We're going to have to fix our immigration system, which is broken, and pass common sense immigration reform. We shouldn't be making it harder for the best and the brightest to come here. We should be making it easier."

Obama explained why this changed during an interview on Meet the Press in September. "What I am saying is that I am going to act because it's the right thing for the country. But it's going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we have done on unaccompanied children, and why it's necessary. The truth of the matter is, the politics did shift mid-summer because of that problem."

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U.S. Kills Top Somali Terrorist; Islamic State Leaders Next, Obama Says

droneattack1An American air assault killed the head of an al-Qaida-linked Somali terrorist group in East Africa earlier this week, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Ahmed Abdi Godane, who led the al-Shabab terror network and had a $7 million U.S. bounty on his head, was killed Monday in an attack by both drones and piloted planes.

"Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al-Shabab," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Friday, confirming that the Somalia terror kingpin had died in the assault.

A buoyed President Barack Obama on Friday warned leaders of the Islamic State, which has terrorized portions of Iraq and Syria, that they will suffer the same fate as Godane and Osama bin Laden.

Using Washington policymakers' preferred acronym for the Islamic State, Obama, on the final day of the NATO summit in Wales, said: "We are going to degrade and defeat ISIL, the same way that we have gone after al-Qaida, the same way we have gone after the al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, where we have just released today the fact that we have killed the leader of al-Shabab in Somalia and have consistently worked to degrade their operations."

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