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Last updateWed, 02 Oct 2019 12pm

Politics

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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The Millionaire Tax: Funding New Jersey

NJ Milionaire Tax 1Senator Stephen Sweeney said that raising taxes on millionaires in New Jersey is the “absolute last thing” that he will consider, last Thursday, Feb. 8.

Although Sweeney, the New Jersey State Senate President, long advocated for raising taxes on the wealthiest New Jersey residents; he explained that the latest federal tax overhaul changed the dynamics of taxes in the state.

“It’s the absolute last thing that I’m willing to look at,” said Sweeney, the Democratic state Senator from Gloucester, to reporters in Trenton last Thursday.

“It’s too much right now. Absolutely last resort,” he asserted. However, three months ago, when now-Governor Phil Murphy won the gubernatorial election, Sweeney tweeted that the “long overdue [millionaires’] tax” would be the first bill that the NJ Senate passes in January, after Murphy’s inauguration.

“Murphy ran on the Millionaire Tax as the face of the NJ Democratic Party,” said Ken Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology.

“For the Democrat Sweeney to reverse course strikes me as a move against the wishes of the voters,” Mitchell said.

Under Sweeney’s leadership in the state Senate, the Legislature passed and put a millionaires’ tax on former Governor Chris Christie’s desk five times since Christie first took office in 2010.

However, the former Republican governor vetoed the tax hike on millionaires each time.

In his final veto of the bill in 2015, Christie said that the Legislature must be “deaf and blind” to the consequences that raising taxes in New Jersey would have on the state’s economy—the highest taxed state in the country.

Sweeney explained his recent change in position; he said that the latest federal tax reform bill passed in Congress complicated matters locally in New Jersey.

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CEOs Invest in Employees' Healthcare

CEO Invest Employee Healthcare1The CEOs of Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway proposed a healthcare plan which they believe will lower costs for their employees last Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The three said that they wish to start “an independent company that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” Instead, they explain that they will be focusing on technological solutions in order to provide their employees with “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.”

“The health care system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Bezos.

“Hard as it might be, reducing health care’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort.”

“Being in a healthcare industry, I find many people to be uneducated well enough about their healthcare benefits,” said Polina Amburg, specialist professor in the Department of Nursing.

“Employers looking to save money don’t always offer the best healthcare plans for their employees, she explained. “The cost of services, such as co-pays and deductible, often prevent people from seeking adequate and timely medical care. There is a great need for an affordable quality healthcare services.”

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160 Voices: The Nassar Trial

160 VoicesLarry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on Wed., Jan. 24.

Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina opened her courtroom to numerous survivors, parents, and coaches who had been affected by Nassar’s counts of sexual abuse. 160 women came forward to recount their assaults by Nassar.

“The monster who took advantage of you will wither,” Aquilina said to one victim who gave her testimony at the trial, “…as you get stronger, as you overcome—because you will—he gets weaker and he will wither away.” 

Katherine Parkin, Ph.D., Vice President of the Faculty Association and a professor in the Department of History and Anthropology, explained that the charges levied against Nassar differ from most other sexual assault allegations.

“That Nassar was able, with the power of the Michigan State University and the gymnastic governing bodies, to assault these victims under the cover of being a doctor is distinct from some other sexual assault patterns that we’ve seen,” Parkin said.

“In some ways, this was a relatively easier one for the victims and for observers, because there is no expectation that the teenage girls and adult women willingly sought out abuse from a doctor,” she explained, bringing light to the fact that many other sexual assault allegations are dismissed or undermined.

“Harvey Weinstein, Jerry Sandusky, and most of the other criminals had no pretense for touching or assaulting the bodies of others, while it is necessary for a doctor to touch patients,” she explained.

Prior to his four-day sentencing, Nassar wrote a letter saying that he was unsure if he could “mentally” endure four days of listening to his victims’ statements.

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Partisan Gridlock Leads to Government Shutdown

Government ShutdownAfter Congress failed to pass an extension of appropriations funding, the government shutdown at midnight on Sat., Jan. 20.

By Fri., Jan. 19, the Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 195) was under consideration to extend funding through Feb. 16. The bill passed the House on Jan. 18, but a cloture vote in the Senate failed 50–49, with 60 votes required to end a Democratic-led filibuster shortly before the midnight expiration of the previous continuing resolution.

This ongoing resolution included a six-year authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which had not been funded since October 2017, and it delayed several healthcare taxes from the Affordable Care Act.

However, Democrats preferred a shorter resolution lasting a few days, intending for hearings to negotiate an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

“The recent government shutdown is a product of a strategic interaction between Democrats and Republicans,” Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science, said. “This began with Trump ending the DACA Executive Order that came under Obama, allowing Trump and the Republicans to use it as a bargaining chip,” he explained.

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused Democrats of keeping “the government shuttered for American troops, American veterans, American military families.”

Soon after the shutdown began, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) proposed a bill that would ensure that the military would be paid and receive death benefits during the shutdown.

 However, McConnell objected, saying to “restore funding for the entire government before [that] becomes necessary.”

“Both parties were steadfast in their disagreements on the continuing budget resolution, thereby causing the government shutdown,” Chapman said.

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