Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


Policy Actors Begin to Mobilize Facing Climate Change

broccolicity-global-warmingClimate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is already affecting life on every continent and in the oceans, and the window is closing rapidly for governments to avert the worst damage expected to occur later this century, scientists warned in one of the loudest alarms yet sounded by the international scientific community.

Zak Fama, a sophomore history and political science major, said, "The US has grown too attached to fossil fuels to the point that the hunger for energy is beginning to outweigh even the safety of some parts of the population."

The report, issued Sunday, arrives as international negotiators prepare to meet in Lima, Peru, in Dec. to establish parameters for an eventual agreement on cutting heat-trapping emissions, a goal that has eluded the international community since talks began more than 20 years ago. Negotiators are aiming to sign a deal in Paris in December 2015.

Written by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which regularly reviews and synthesizes the latest climate research, the report says there are more heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere than within the last 800,000 years, and that most of them came from the combustion of fossil fuels since the widespread industrialization of the late 1800s.

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Rethinking New Jersey’s Election System

Voter-Turnout-GallupNJ voters went to the polls yesterday, Nov. 4, voting on candidates as well as amendments to the state constitution.

According to NJ.com, in addition to candidates, voters will also decide on changes to constitutional rights to bail, as well as the creation of permanent funding for historic preservation.

Regardless of the topics on the ballot, voter turnout remains low, with Christie's re-election in 2013 seeing a 39.6 percent turnout, according to NJ.com.

The root of this problem is the lack of true competition in NJ elections. According to Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department, the average reelection rate over the past 20 years is 95 percent, despite having a 10 percent approval from constituents.

Patten said, "Most districts in NJ and across the nation are gerrymandered, so we have very few competitive elections." Gerrymandering is the process of redrawing voting districts to favor certain parties or candidates.

He continued, "The way that you could have a 95 percent reelection rate in an institution with a 10 percent approval rate is that we don't have a lot of competition in our elections."

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Online Voting Lacks Security: Traditional Ballots Remain The Standard

Nevada's election chief says the state's much-ballyhooed new system for electronically delivering absentee ballots to troops and other citizens overseas isn't an "online" voting system, even if it offers those abroad the option of emailing marked ballots to county clerks.

But his boss, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, described the system differently in testimony to Congress last year, boasting that it would allow voters abroad "to request, mark and deliver a ballot to their county without the need of a printer or a scanner."

The office of Pentagon Inspector General John Rymer is taking a hard look at systems like Nevada's to see whether they're violating a prohibition on the use of Defense Department grant money to create online voting systems, a spokeswoman for Rymer said. The prohibition was spurred by concerns that those systems are vulnerable to hackers.

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel, and the panel's ranking Democrat, California Rep. Susan Davis, wrote to Rymer last June requesting "a full and thorough investigation" to determine whether they're designed to return votes electronically.

So far, the Inspector General's office said, Rymer has ordered only an "assessment" of whether grant recipients are skirting the rules; a review not previously disclosed.

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Monmouth University Mock Trial Competes in First

Mock-TrialWest Long Branch, NJ- Monmouth University's Mock Trial (MUMT) team competed in their first invitational tournament this past weekend, the Market Street Invitational Tournament, hosted by Drexel University. The invitational involved 26 teams from 16 universities.

The students competed in four rounds (twice as plaintiffs and twice as defendants) in a mock civil case involving the unfortunate accidental shooting of an 11-year-old by her friend. Students in attorney roles represented the parents in this fictitious case of Park v. Duran; other students played challenging witness roles ranging from the next-door neighbor, clinical child psychologists and the parties (parents) themselves!

Monmouth's team finished the tournament with one of the highest Combined Strength scores, which means MUMT competed against some of the highest ranked teams. In each round, MUMT had at least one attorney and, witness rank in the top two. Co-captain Iziah Thompson finished the tournament with 16 out of a possible 20 ranks for his defense attorney role, and veteran team member Stephen Lang finished with 14 at of a possible 20 ranks for his portrayal of the defendant child who allegedly caused the accidental shooting.

The competition was one of several fall semester invitationals offered to prepare students for the competitive American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) tournament structure starting in February of 2015. The team will next compete at the Third Annual "Hooter" Invitational hosted by Temple University on November 15 and 16.

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Demonstrating for Democracy

Mock-TrialProtest leaders continue to demonstrate in Hong Kong Central, which began in Sept., according to BBC.com. Thousands of protestors flood the streets in opposition to the Chinese government's influence on elections.

According to Dr. Peter Liu, professor of criminal justice, the protestors in Hong Kong are demonstrating against regulations that were made by the mainland Chinese government in Beijing regarding Hong Kong's 2017 standing committee election. The protestors are mainly comprised of college students that are calling for direct democracy.

Although Hong Kong is part of China, it differs from the mainland government. Liu said that the difference between mainland China and Hong Kong goes back to a war fought in 1840 between the Chinese and Great Britain. Great Britain ultimately won this war, forcing China to give up Hong Kong.

In 1897, another war was fought over the land and China lost once more. Hong Kong remained a British colony until 1997, when they decided to give land back to China under the condition that they would let Hong Kong keep their own laws and capitalist system of government, to which China agreed.

Since 1997, Hong Kong has kept its political system independent of China. Liu called it "one country, two systems."

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University’s Debate Team Makes it to Playoff

Debate-photo-3WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ - The Monmouth University Debate Team reached the playoff round at the West Point Military Academy tournament this weekend (October 17-19, 2014). Sana Rashid and Francesca Vaccaro made it into the playoff round before losing to a team from Cornell University. Team Captains Dan Roman and Michelle Grushko also went 3-3 while debating in the experienced division that includes scholarship debaters.

The tournament included approximately 100 teams of two debaters from 20 universities including Cornell University, University of Washington, James Madison University, New York University, Boston College and NYU to name a few. Each year, a topic is picked to be debated throughout the year. The topic for this year is "Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs." The Monmouth team created one case centering around human organ sales and another case focusing on prostitution.

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Thomas Gallagher Speaks at University

Gallagher-at-podium-credit-to-Chris-SpiegelStudents and faculty welcomed alumnus Thomas P. Gallagher in Wilson Auditorium on Oct. 8, prior to Gallagher accepting the Distinguished Alumni Award at Monmouth's 81st Founderss Day celebration. Gallagher, a graduate from the Class of 1962, held a presentation in which he discussed his experiences after leaving Monmouth, specifically those involving his civil service.

A former political science major, Gallagher made an early commitment to civil service, joining the inaugural group of Peace Corps volunteers. He recalled, "Five days after I graduated from Monmouth, I hopped in a plane in Newark to Georgetown University to start my Peace Corps training."

Eventually, his volunteer work transitioned into a full time position, and Gallagher began working in the U.S. State Department. At this point in his career, Gallagher became well aware of the risk involved in humanitarian work. In 1967, he was stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Six-Day war, which saw every US embassy attacked, except for his.

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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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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
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu