Recently in the past two weeks, the U.S. fired the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), or “Mother of All Bombs,” into a network of tunnels filled with ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. Killing at least ninety-four ISIS militants terrorizing the Afghan people, a majority of the citizens of Afghanistan supported this bomb dropped. This weapon, MOAB, was the first time the United States military have used it.
The bomb was dropped from the C130 Hercules jet and guided to its target with a GPS of sorts. It accelerated thirty-two feet per second from where it was dropped causing it to be pulled down by gravity at insane speeds. The bomb has a one mile range and practically flattened everything in its blast radius. Despite the high casualty rate of this air strike, ISIS fighters continue to attack American troops and Afghan security forces, which led the U.S. to threaten to call in more airstrikes to known militant positions throughout Afghanistan.
Along with last week’s event of MOAB, Bashar al-Assad committed genocide against the Syrian peoples in Khan Sheikhoun. After this chemical attack, the United States responded by holding the entire Assad regime accountable for the blatant human rights violations. Killing around five-hundred thousand innocent lives, the United States is taking Syria’s disregard for human rights seriously. It is intended that all financial networks that participated in the making of chemical weapons, used to attack these many innocent lives, will be shut down. Though, it is little known that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons before. “In response to findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, that the Syrian regime was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015,” A recent press release stated, shedding new light on chemical attacks by Assad. Why he has committed genocide against the people of Syria; a mystery. Just the week after the 2017 chemical attacks took place, China and Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution that was backed up by the West, the resolution imposing sanctions in Syria of its chemical weapons.
“It was the seventh time that Russia, Syria’s top military ally, has used its veto power to shield the Damascus regime,” AFP reported. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, claimed it was “completely inappropriate” to impose sanctions on their ally, Syria, believing that it would disrupt the peace talks with them.
On March 6th, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, to the house floor. Since 2009, the Affordable Health Care Act or ObamaCare had been in place, and now Ryan proposed a vote on it’s 7th anniversary, March 23rd. President Trump tweeted his support of the bill, calling it “our wonderful new Healthcare Bill” and adding “ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster” in his usual form.
Both moderate and extreme conservatives immediately criticized AHCA, and cast into doubt the solidarity of the ruling party. Notably the Freedom Caucasus, 29 members strong, disliked the similarities to ObamaCare and promised a “no” vote. The current party divisions in the house left 194 democrats and 241 Republicans—for ACHA to pass, only 23 Republican dissents were necessary. The bill needed a simple majority, but all democrats were vocally opposed to the replacement plan.
The bill’s policies kept in place policies such as coverage under parents’ plans until age 26 and clauses that prevented companies denying coverage based on health. In fact, what it did change were laws that determined premiums based on wealth and replaced them with costs determined by user age—essentially, this helped young adults and the rich but harmed older and poorer citizens. AHCA also came with cuts to Medicaid and Medicare programs that help those with disabilities, low income, or who are over 65.
Federal healthcare is reliant on a varied user base in order to balance costs between those who are healthier or in poor conditions. ACHA removed many incentives for healthier people to stay on the plan and as such, costs would probably go up for most users. However, AHCA does include around $337 billion in savings over 10 years, a very significant decrease in costs from previous healthcare bills.
Supporting Republicans coined the bill as “universal access” rather than “universal coverage”—President Trump touted both phrases over the campaign and in the Oval Office. The shift in wording makes a large impact in the legislation, and instead of promising health care for all it gives the impression that people will be able to have more choice. This promise of choice came at a great cost, however; the CBO (Congressional Budgetary Office) as a non-partisan group estimated 24 million additional people would lose insurance over 8 years. To put this into context, 28 million people are currently uninsured, and the bill would nearly double that.
Trump used this opportunity to showcase his negotiating prowess, one of his traits he often cited in the campaign trail. He and Ryan made changes to try and appease more conservative members of the house who were opposed to AHCA by lowering maternal care and deductions. However, by the 23rd the votes were not there, and anywhere from 28 to 30 Republicans were poised to defect, and polling in the public showed abysmal support of around 17%. After a similar battle on the 24th, the date to which Republicans moved back the vote, Trump conceded and pulled the bill, though not before blaming Democrats, saying they “own[ed] ObamaCare.”
TThe defeat of AHCA is a Democrat victory, though it may be short lived. Republican interparty problems are what destroyed the bill, and their reasons for dissent are the polar opposite of Democrat opposition. On the other hand, President Trump gave an ultimatum and ultimately failed to pass a bill and repeal ObamaCare. Not only this, but his agenda is now derailed and he has lost an initiative on health care. Republicans will try and lick their wounds, but if they cannot pass legislation even with a friendly president and majority in Congress, the next 4 years are going to be disappointing for their voters.
“Donald Trump’s US Healthcare Bill Withdrawn.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Mar. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39387550.
Glenza, Jessica, and Lauren Gambino. “Republican Healthcare Plan: 24 Million People Could Lose Coverage, CBO Reports.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 13 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/us- news/2017/mar/13/budget-office-republican-healthcare-coverage-deficit- costs.
Last week, the Alliance for Global Justice was paid fifty grand from George Soros to fund “Rufuse Fascism” to get a group of conservatives and libertarian speakers to cease their speeches; of course, they were already funded by $2.2 million. That week, a gay libertarian speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, spoke in Berkeley. The riot outside, the people calling themselves “Anti-Fascists,” started fires, smashed windows as well as ATM machines, looted stores in the shopping district area, destroyed cars, assaulted Milo’s fans of both gender, and accused his fans of being “Nazis.” Only one of the
participants of the riot was arrested while many policemen and women refused to intervene with the act.
Online, the Alliance of Global Justice posted on Twitter many hate comments against Milo and his fans, still accusing him and them of being Nazis, homophobic, as well as a great amount of inappropriate hateful names. A minority of celebrities did the same, yet took down the posts as did the Alliance of Global Justice. When the riot was coming to an end, Milo and his staff came back to a trashed tour bus with
many of the staff’s belongings stolen by the rioters. Milo and his staff had to then leave early from the premises because of their location being leaked online, leading to the riot outbreaking more so. A week after, four of whom were participating in the riot were arrested for vandalizing Milo’s vehicle and stealing his staff’s belongings.
Woman’s March…Story by Audrey Moore
Hundreds of thousands of women gathered in Washington as a sort of “counter-inauguration” after president Trump took office on January 20th, starting at 10:00 AM and ending at 5:00 PM. They were joined by crowds in cities across the country. In Chicago, the amount of people quickly outgrew the estimated amount of participants, and for safety reasons had to be canceled. In
Manhattan, a sea of pink hats had formed, in Downtown Los Angeles, even before the gathered crowd marched it had taken up a quarter mile deep on several streets. In Boston, the numbers had grown to 175,000. Most men and women sporting “pink pussy hats” by wearing hats with cat ears.
“A separate group of about 30 Trump supporters held a rally in Sydney. The police restrained some of them, blocking them from entering the same area as the Trump protest group.”(-CNNpoliticts.)
The idea of the women’s march was started on Facebook by Teresa Shook, a retired attorney, and grandmother of four from Hawaii. She suggested the march on the night of the inauguration, and by the time she went to bed had 40 R.S.V.PS to march. The march performed the day after president Trump’s inauguration on January 21st. Officials who organized the marches said that there were 600 marches that happen around the world.
The most popular speeches at the march were that of Ashely Judd, and Madonna. Madonna claiming to think a lot about “blowing up the white house” and Judd going on in her speech “I am a Nasty Woman” about how Trump is incestuous and a pedophile stating that “I am not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol. Like your wet dreams infused with your own genes” and that Trump is the new Hitler, as she can “feel Hitler on these streets, a mustache traded for a toupee.” “Electric convulsion therapy the new gas chambers.”
“We want to ensure that this country knows women are not happy,” co-founder Tamika Mallory said. “And when we get angry, change happens. We make things happen.” “This effort is not anti-Trump,”
Mallory said. “This is pro-women. This is a continuation of a struggle women have been dealing with for a very long time. In this moment, we are connecting and being as loud as possible.”
Following the march, the organizers have moved on to protest the acts that Trump has established on the first hundred days of his presidency.
On January 24th, the president officially pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ending the ongoing efforts dating back to 2010. TPP aimed to free up tariffs and trade barriers between fourteen Pacific countries, the wealth of which added up to 40% of the world’s GDP. The deal was spearheaded by Obama’s administration, but over the campaign trail Trump rallied against it, citing globalism as a threat to American jobs.
The world’s response has been quick—in a recent Davos conference China’s President Xi Jinping attended and acted as a leader in free trade, stating, “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.” Jinping went on to explain how the US abandoned its role as a leader in capitalism, and as such, China was forced into this position.
In fact, an intended effect of TPP was to isolate China economically
from their neighbors. With the collapse of the deal, the reverse is quite possible—Australia cited possible deals with China, and New Zealand still hopes for a deal without US involvement. General diplomacy with the region has not been positive anyway, with a hostile phone call between the Australian Prime Minister and President Trump, and the development of Chinese encroachment on the South China Sea.
The president seems more than willing to use trade as a tool with which to negotiate, as seen with threats of an import tax on Mexican goods based on Mexican retaliation over the proposed wall, raising the possibility of a 20% tariff. This would contradict NAFTA, another
trade agreement including Canada, the US, and Mexico. NAFTA was the source of many campaign attacks from President Trump, despite evidence showing negligible economic impact on American workers.
Another example of dealing over trade was seen last week, with the British Prime Minister May’s visit to the US. In the press conference both leaders stressed
the “$1 trillion invested in each other’s economies” and “future economic cooperation and trade.” The meeting set a different tone to a traditionally protectionist President Trump, and shared optimistic views on the speed of such a deal. However, with Britain leaving the European Union’s trade zone and America pulling out of other such agreements, the two countries are likely to embrace bilateral trade.
President Trump’s official website calls for “tough and fair agreements” and does not hold back from threatening US withdrawal on deals such as NAFTA. However, most of the claims are vague and do not inform much—for example, the page says that negotiators will be the “toughest and smartest” yet doesn’t give any names or direct policy. Based on this aggressive approach, it is likely that the President will look for strategies as if they were being directed by a business. Whether this approach will reap benefits is yet to be seen.
Well, no one ever said transitions went off without a hitch. Changing entire teams of people and appointing new heads to different agencies tends to be a bit complicated, and sometimes things get changed around.
However, asking the Environmental Protective Agency to remove the page for climate change from its website is a big change (pun intended), with far-reaching implications.
That’s allegedly what the Trump administration told the EPA to do on Tuesday, January 24, or so allegations say. Employees of the agency were notified by EPA officials that the administration had requested the communications team at the agency to delete the climate change page from the official EPA website.
This move isn’t exactly unexpected; it’s just the next step by the Trump administration to eliminate the climate change initiatives put into place by the previous President, Barack Obama.
The sources from inside the agency asked to remain anonymous, not wanting to risk retribution from the administration for breaking a gag order put in place during the transition. Since then, the page itself has stayed more or less intact, seemingly contradicting reports.
In addition to the purported editing of the website, a statement given by Doug Erickson, a spokesman for the transition team, stated
that EPA scientists will likely have their work reviewed on a “case-by-case” basis before they are allowed to publish or present their findings. If such a system were to be enacted within the agency, it would directly contradict the scientific integrity policy put into place to prevent censorship and misuse of EPA findings.
The administration responded to the claims on Wednesday, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer stating: “No, there is nothing that has come from the White House. Absolutely, not.” This was in response to a question asking if the administration had sent out a mandate stopping the discussion of climate change.
President Trump has expressed doubts about the reality of climate change in the past, and previously called it a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive in a tweet back in 2012. He has since been more open to the idea, but has made it clear that companies and businesses’ interests come first. The removal of any and all reference to climate change on the official White House website when Donald Trump took office seems to be in keeping with his stance. President Trump has stated in the past that he will pull America out of the historic Paris agreement reached by
the United Nations in November last year. The agreement seeks to “undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.” Its goal is to limit warming of the atmosphere to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Signed by more than a hundred countries, included massive carbon polluters like the US and China, the agreement would essentially require the world to become ‘carbon-neutral,’ (abandoning fossil fuels), by mid-century or earlier.
The US leaving the agreement could inspire other countries to do the same, and could have serious impacts on the effectiveness of the agreement moving forward.
Trump has since backed off a little, stating that he has an “open mind” towards the agreement and that he is “watching it very closely.”
Meanwhile, the battle to confirm President Trump’s proposed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, continues. Pruitt has been opposed to the EPA in the past, siding with business and fossil fuel companies in several cases. In his role as Oklahoma’s attorney general, he has either led or aided in 14 separate lawsuits against the Environmental Protective Agency. He has faced heavy opposition from many on the left and even a few on the right.
After a second day of Democratic senators boycotting the confirmation vote, Republicans suspended committee rules to push Pruitt’s confirmation through. Democrats point to his anti-regulation stance and concern that he did not adequately answer questions sent to him after his confirmation hearing. One such offense is apparent when he declined to say if he would excuse himself from ongoing cases against the EPA if he is confirmed as its new leader.
Opponents call attention to his substantial ties and financial support from the oil and gas industry, and his skepticism on the concept of climate change.
Their concerns are backed by nearly 450 former EPA employees, who urged Congress on Monday to reject Pruitt, and current EPA employees in Chicago, who participated in a downtown rally urging the Senate to reject the nomination.
“Our perspective is not partisan,” reads the letter from 447 former EPA employees who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations. “However, every EPA administrator has a fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest…Mr. Pruitt’s record raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with the long-standing tenets of U.S. environmental law.”
All of this turbulence leaves the EPA and climate regulations in the US in a state of flux. If Pruitt is confirmed as the head of the EPA, it will certainly have far-reaching and impactful
consequences. If he is denied, critics of his industry ties and anti-EPA mindset may get a chance for a more sympathetic candidate.
Americans must decide what they want to be done about climate change, and petition their senators to vote in their interests. They must make a decision; reject Pruitt and maintain the administrative and regulatory power of the EPA, or approve him, and weaken environmental regulations and clean air & water initiatives in exchange for more big business and fossil fuels.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The Pledge of Allegiance. Thirty-one historical words we say every morning, but how often do you stop and think about what they mean? We say our nation is indivisible;
however, the year 2016 saw our country grow more divided than it’s been in a long time. Mostly due to the Presidential race and elections, we have witnessed friendships and families being torn apart by opinions. During times like this, it’s a constant battle between “I should stand up for what I believe in” and “My opinion won’t change anything,” so how do we choose?
According to Mr. Bigley, a high school English teacher here at FBCS, an argument is quote, “An intellectual conversation between two opposing points of view, in which each person is prepared with evidence to support their side of the argument.” There is no name-calling or bias here, merely an exchange of facts. This is where most people go wrong when discussing politics. They are judging or being judged based on a black and white spectrum. “Trump supporters are racist/sexist/stupid,” “People who voted for Hillary are blind feminists,” and many other insulting statements like these have been said without a second thought. However, it’s extremely unfair to group people by what they believe.
“I dreaded my social studies class, because 95% of my fellow students had the opposite opinion of mine, and I would have to sit through their hurtful, blanketed statements about people who believe what I do,” a student said last trimester, during the especially rough weeks leading up to and following the election. Now, with the impending inauguration, political tensions are rising once again. But how can we guard ourselves against the barrage of hate and anger bound to come our way? Set an example. Martin Luther King Jr. once
said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Everyone has their own beliefs and opinions, which should be respected, regardless of whether or not you agree with them.
Instead of arguing amongst ourselves, perhaps Americans should look past their differences and come together to celebrate a historic event. “I think that this is a time in which we should all stand together as one,” Geraldo Rivera said in an interview with Fox News (which I would cite, but the video is blocked). So, as we watch the much dreaded and anticipated inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, let us not grumble about it. We are America, and only united can we stand. Divided, we most certainly will fall.
So who is really right about the stop and frisk issue? Donald Trump claims that stop and frisk bought the murder rates down and that it was and is fully constitutional. Hillary Clinton claims that because the stop and frisk popularity has gone done, so has the crime rate and that stop and frisk is unconstitutional.
The argument was brought up during the first Presidential Debate after the question was asked: “The share of Americans that say race relations are bad is the highest it been in decades. Much of it amplified by shootings of African Americans by police as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap. So how do you heal the divide?” – Lester Holt
Trump’s response was heavily weighted with the repetition of the words “law and order”. He suggests that by actively putting stop and frisk into action, the crime rates will go down. He uses New York as an example for stop and frisk being put into action effectively.
In New York, during the time that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly were in office, the stop and frisk frequency was higher by over 600 percent. Yes, during that time there was a significant murder drop, but that change happened all around the country in cities that were not enforcing heavy stop and frisk. So the change could very well have little to nothing to do with the stop and frisk policies. An interesting fact is that according to New York Civil Liberties Union, in 2011-13 there was another major crime drop that happened at the same time that there was a major drop in the frequency of stop and frisk.
So Trump might be wrong about the effectiveness of the stop and frisk, but does that mean that Hillary was right? She was correct that the crime rate has continued to drop even though the stop and frisk has diminished. But is it unconstitutional? Stop and frisk is actually used in police departments all around the country even today. It is completely legal for a cop to stop, interrogate, and frisk someone that that believe to have either just committed a crime or is about to commit a crime. However, the use of stop and frisk that Trump refers to is where police stop any suspicious looking character. The Stop and frisk was greatly encouraged and perhaps even over used.
The main problem is that 86.1 % of the “suspicious characters” that were stopped were either African American or Hispanic even though they only made up 54% of the population. Racial profiling was so prevailing that the issue was brought to court and was found to violate the fourth amendment. However the judge was suspended so that case was never finished. So has a whole, according to the Supreme Court, stop and frisk is constitutional and totally legal.
So stop and frisk is constitutional, but it hasn’t been proven to be effective in stopping violence related crime.
Who Will Be the Republican Candidate? Story By: John Holmes
Our country is on the verge of a new term, but the question remains – who will be our next president? This daunting question vexes the minds of all voting United States citizens, and grows ever more puzzling as the elections draw closer. Here are some of the platforms of the top Republican candidates.
According to a poll on the Huffington Post, Donald Trump is the foremost candidate – with a 38.1% poll. Trump’s platform focuses on reforming U.S and China trade, Veterans Administration, and the U.S tax system.
The goals for Trump’s tax plan include growing the American economy, less tax on middle-class Americans, and a simpler tax code.
According to Trump’s tax plan, if you are single and earn an income less than $25,000, or you and your spouse jointly earn less than $50,000 for a household income, you owe no income tax. There would be only four tax brackets – 0%, 10%, 20%, and 25% – rather than the current seven. No business would pay above 15% of their profit in taxes.
Ben Carson – another potential Republican Party runner – has a different tax plan. Carson’s plan includes a simple flat tax, or a tax with a constant rate. Under Carson’s tax plan, income would be taxed at a uniform 14.9%, without tax shelters or loopholes. The tax would only apply to those who are 150% above the Federal Poverty Level, to protect individuals who are in proximity of the poverty level. Under this plan, a family would not be taxed on their first $36,375.
Ted Cruz promotes a similar flat tax plan. Personal income will be taxed at a fixed 10%. A family of four would have the first $36,000 tax-free. Payroll tax would be eliminated, as well as corporate income tax. A business flat tax will be placed on corporation with a fixed rate of 16% of revenues.
Jeb Bush has also given some input on a new tax plan. Bush’s idea consists of creating three tax brackets – 28%, 25%, and 10%. The loopholes in the current tax code would be eliminated, reducing the deductions that special interest groups can make. Lastly, corporate income tax will be cut from 35% to 20%.
A tax plan akin to Bush’s is being proposed by Marco Rubio. The tax brackets will be reduced to three – 15%, 25%, 35%. The first bracket applies to individuals with an income up to $75,000, and increases as income increases. Rubio’s tax plan promises to simplify the tax code by eliminating itemized tax deductions, and a universal $2,500 tax credit will be awarded to those who attend post-secondary school or another qualified career skill training curriculum.
Education is another focus on these candidates’ agendas.
According to Rubio’s platform, decisions about education must be returned to the local level. His plan includes giving control of education back to the local levels – states, local communities, and individuals – while preventing federal interaction.
Bush, on the other hand, has several different changes to make to the current education system. One idea is to take 529 College Savings Accounts into Education Savings Accounts. These accounts would allow for individuals to save, tax-free, for education.
For early childhood education, Bush’s platform would give parents a say in their child’s schooling. Parents would be given money to use to further their child’s learning.
Carson’s educational plan includes five principles – school choice, empower local districts and parents, encourage innovation, reward good teaching, and support a simpler student loan process.
The parents, teachers, districts, and states will have the power to make decisions. Carson states he will actively support charter and private school, and innovation will be greatly promoted.
Cruz and Trump did not show any information on education, as of yet.
As for foreign affairs, Cruz has a plan that includes three elements. The first is border security, which includes increased border security, eliminating sanctuary cities, and halting any increase in illegal immigration. Cruz also promises to defend that nation, which includes rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS, and eliminating the Iran nuclear deal. Lastly, Cruz’s foreign affairs policy will strengthen our relations with Israel.
Carson’s policy includes rearming and strengthening the U.S military, reinvigorating our international relations, reforming the national security establishment, and evaluating when it is necessary to put our troops in harm’s way.
Bush’s plan consists largely of defeating ISIS. This includes supporting Iraqi military forces, and conquering ISIS and Assad in Syria.
Rubio promotes a very basic foreign policy – a doctrine of three “pillars.” The first one is redevelop American strength by modernizing our military and empowering our intelligence agencies. Second, promote American prosperity through solidifying the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic partnerships and oppose violations of international waters, airspace, and cyberspace. Lastly, Rubio’s plan will support American values, such as demanding true freedom for Chinese citizens and defeating radical Islamic states.
Only two parts exist in Trump’s foreign policy – reforming our trade with China, and immigration. For Chinese trade reform, Trump proposes that we need to strengthen our leadership and negotiations at the table – increasing our global economic negotiations. For immigration, Trump’s plan includes: 1) building a wall around our borders, 2) passing only border laws that coincide with the Constitution, 3) support immigration plans that improves jobs, wages, and security for all Americans.