Pierce Pioneer

Conflicts in Iran and its Impact on Pierce College Students

Jabin Botsford / Getty Images / Courtesy Photo
President Donald Trump departs after addressing the nation from the White House on Jan. 8, 2020.

An update on what has happened, what we know so far, and what students on campus need to know regarding the conflict

With the year 2020 having barely been around for a week, the world has already been faced with a plethora of concerning dilemmas; one of the most notable conflicts being between Iran and the U.S.

With the state of the matter currently up in the air., Mmany people, soldiers especially, may be wondering what might happen next or where things will go from here. Many questions remain to be answered, but there are some answers that can be given to those at Pierce College who may be concerned.

When did this all start?

Recent conflicts between the two countries began in late December 2019, according to a timeline created by npr.org. Kataib Hezbollah, a militia group with supposed ties to Iran, attacked a K1 military base near Kirkuk, an Iraqi city. This attack resulted in the death of an American contractor and injury of several other American and Iraqi personnel.

Days later, a mob of Iraqi protesters stormed a U.S. embassy in Baghdad, an attack President Trump and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed to be organized by Iran. “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” the President tweeted on Dec. 31. “This is not a warning, it is a threat.”

On Jan. 2, President Trump conducted an airstrike on a Baghdad airport, killing Qassem Soleimani, a respected general in Iran. “General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more… but got caught!” tweeted the President.

This preemptive strike was met with an immediate attack by Iran late Tuesday night on Jan. 7, when Iran led an airstrike that hit two bases in Iraq holding U.S. troops and coalition forces. Soon after, Javad Zarif, Iranian diplomat and Foreign Minister, tweeted a response regarding the attack.

“Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter,  targeting base from which [a] cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials were launched,” tweeted Zarif.

Are we going to war?

As of the time this article has been posted, the United States of America and Iran do not intend on going to war. Early Wednesday morning on Jan. 8, President Trump spoke via a livestream on whitehouse.gov stating that he does not wish to take things further. “The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” said the President.

Furthermore, following the airstrike on Tuesday, Zarif tweeted Iran’s stance on the matter. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

While it is still too early to determine where either countries will go from here, it is safe to say that this conflict shouldn’t lead to any immediate attacks.

What would be a cause for war?

In the case of the U.S. and Iran conflicts, the President of both nations would have to formally declare war in order for this to happen. War crimes, such as the killing of civilians or otherwise unjust murder, and land invasion would also be cause for war by both parties. 

However, as stated above by both the President and Iranian diplomats, the possibility of these acts happening outright are not likely.

 

Can inactive duty soldiers be pulled back if tensions continue to rise?

Soldier’s who’ve recently gotten out might be concerned as to whether or not these conflicts would be enough to get called back for deployment. Fortunately for those not wishing to do so, the odds of this happening are very unlikely.

As referred by thebalancecareers.com, it is required for all enlisted to serve at least eight years of service, whether on active duty or as an inactive reserves, or Individual Ready Reserves. However, it would take extreme circumstances for those who ha’ve just gotten out to be called back in.

A state of emergency would have to had been issued by the President in order for the military to initiate an IRR recall. If this happened, inactive soldiers could be held for as long as needed. Without a state of emergency declared however, the President can only call less than 200,000 reserves and IRR members, which can only be held for up to 400 days max.

In the event that an active or inactive duty soldier is called for deployment while attending Pierce College, how will that affect things?

Pierce College will not penalize students with outside obligations such as a deployment. So long as students communicate with both their professors and registrations about their predicament, leaving will not do any harm to a student’s transcripts. Students will also be able to continue where they left off upon returning.

In some cases even, if a student is able to do online classes overseas, Pierce will make that available as well. But if this is not available, Pierce will replace the class on a student’s transcripts with an incomplete, I, which will have no effect on their overall GPA. 

Pierce may also allow the student to finish the class early with whatever grade they currently had at that moment.

Who can active duty soldiers and veterans talk to on campus regarding any questions?

Questions regarding education and financial concerns with anything VA related can have them answered via the Veterans Services Office on Fort Steilacoom’s campus located on the third floor of the Cascade Building.

Questions regarding transcripts, class withdrawal, or other related concerns can be brought to the Registration Desk located on the third floor of the Cascade Building to the right of the Welcome Desk.

Affirmative Action Rejected

R. Wilfing / Courtesy Photo / Pixabay

Affirmative Action to be denied in Washington State’s November 2019 Elections, reinstating Initiative 200.

During the Washington State elections on November 5, citizens voted against Referendum 88 and the restoration of Affirmative Action – a policy favoring individuals belonging to previously discriminated groups within America. This practice would have allowed for colleges, universities, and businesses to increase opportunities for minority groups by giving them further support.

Previously in April 2019, Washington State legislatures passed Initiative 1000, repealing the ban on Affirmative Action which had been placed 20 years ago. This ban was originally passed by Washington voters in 1998 via I-200; however, recent elections have since reinstated this ban by the people. With its rejection, this leaves the state facing a number of concerns from both sides of the vote.

For Washington State government officials such as April Sims, co-chair of Washington Fairness, Affirmative Action being rejected is disheartening. As reported by NBC News, Sims states how Affirmative Action would have been a great way to level the playing fields for everyone in Washington State. Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, also saw Referendum 88 as a way to address what he referred to as systemic inequalities.

Despite this, not everyone in Washington saw Affirmative Action as a solution to inequality. Shortly after the passing of I-1000, a petition was led by Washington Asians for Equality. This petition was created as an attempt to keep Affirmative Action banned in Washington State by giving the vote back to the people.

“I-1000 can be summed up in one sentence: It would abolish the standard of equality for all, regardless of race, as required by I-200, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races,” states the petition. As such, petitioners felt that this vote should be in the hands of the people.

Those sharing this sentiment see Affirmative Action and Referendum 88 as an attack on equality in Washington State. However, while some feel as though I-200 allows for true equality, certain statistics state otherwise.

According to the Stranger, many legislatures within Washington viewed I-200 as a step backwards for the state when it comes to providing underrepresented groups positions in business. With both women and minorities having less than 4% of the state’s contracting dollars post I-200, this has left Washington state below its established goals.

Javier Valdez, a Seattle representative, believes that I-1000 would have been a fix to I-200. “I-200 was sold 20 years ago as something that would be fair to everyone, and that’s clearly not the case,” he said.

While both sides hold claims still in search of a proper solution, it’s not difficult to see what demographics tend to dominate college campuses, Pierce College included. But whether or not something like Affirmative Action could help with this, or if this is even a problem that needs help, is a question for another time.

Local Activism Sparking Social Change

Social Justice is becoming a hot topic

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Streets have been flooded with protestors throughout the country, and those in Tacoma have not been left out. Massive protests have drawn thousands to march; one of the more notable was Woman's march, that spanned through Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle, as well as being a global protest crossing every time zone. More recently, the March for Science that took place Earth day, just one month ago bringing hundreds of protestors out once again.

Local and national activism have skyrocketed since the 2016 presidential election, with politics and protests flowing right into mainstream news and becoming a hot topic for people in every social group.

Sparks began nationally after the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th, 2014. The subsequent protests gained international notoriety, and started a domino effect of activism including other protests and the formation of organizations concerned with a wide variety of social issues.

The most highly publicized issues include things such as immigration, refugees, police brutality, woman’s rights, indigenous treaties, climate change, and LGBT+. The progress made for these issues in the last couple years has spiked as the general public is growing more aware of the many social injustices in the United States and around the world. Pierce County is no exception to this conflagrating activism. Many grass roots groups work throughout the county in efforts against environmental destruction, deportation of immigrants, and discrimination.

Some of the largest marches that have taken place in locally just within the last year include the Woman’s March, the Tax March, and the March for Science. Each had between a few hundred to over ten thousand participants taking a stand, and steps, for a better world.

Pierce College has hosted an event by the People’s Assembly of Tacoma called 'The Takeback' over the last few weeks. This local activist group was formed to promote the advancement of oppressed communities and to spread a message of equality amongst all groups. During the event they use open discussion to encourage people with all perspectives and walks of life to speak up about problematic experiences in their communities, as well as speeches and activities to express their purpose.

Sarah Morken, a prevalent local activist, explains how she began; "I didn't dive headlong into activism. I dabbled for a while when an issue came up that really grabbed me personally." She and her group Redline Tacoma have worked on projects and protests to fight the building of a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline in Tacoma that has the potential to be extremely dangerous for the local community. She also works with groups like Green Party Tahoma, Youth Activism Pierce County, and Tacoma Direct Action. She is a icon for the many ways in which anyone can become involved in political movements.

Rallies and events have sprung up all across the county, ranging from small groups of people discussing issues, to numbers in the thousands turning out for marches. There are ways anyone can express their views and become a part of an influential movement for change in their community.

Indivisable

In a letter sent to the press in 1934, Harry Emerson Fosdick, a Presbyterian pastor, said, “Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”

Indivisible epitomizes what ordinary people can accomplish. It started in December 2016 from a 26-page document created by ordinary people for ordinary people. In just 4 short months its members number almost 6,000, just everyday people who are very interested in being involved with their government.

Joe Colombo, a resident in Puyallup, is also the head of the Puyallup chapter of Indivisible. Like many members, the most he participated in the election process was to check a box on a ballot.

That changed last March. He attended the opening caucus for the Democratic Party. At the time all he wanted to do when he volunteered to help was to make sure things ran smoothly.

Shortly thereafter there was a need for a PCO (precinct committee officer) so he volunteered to fill the vacancy. Later he was formally elected to the position.

Throughout the whole election season he continued to serve in the caucus, even up to the election itself.

About the middle of December he heard from three different people about Indivisible, told him it was something he’d be interested in. He never met them, they were mutual acquaintances of friends he had on Facebook. He had also not been particularly vocal about his personal political views so he did not really pay much attention. Until someone put the “Indivisible Guide” in his hands and told him he should read it he thought it was something for one of the political parties.

When he began to read it over and saw that the primary purpose was to resist President Trump, he began to be more interested in what the members were trying do accomplish.

He said, “I feel like taking these actions empowers us to be part of that change, to hold our leaders accountable. I need to get my hands dirty. I do not agree with all of the actions suggested, but I get to pick and choose.”

At the top of the list of things he is choosing is the Russian link. He sees it as having a significant impact as it could contain grounds on which impeachment charges could be brought against Trump.

Indivisible Puyallup currently has 280 members; the only requirement for being part of the group is to be against President Trump and Vice President Pence and their regressive policies. No specific party affiliation is needed; the group itself is bipartisan.

In the group’s charter, their mission is clear. They seek to engage senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and District 10 Representative Denny Heck to remember “protecting our hard-won, cherished progressive values such as affordable healthcare for all, economic justice, environmental protection, racial equality, gender and sexual equality, peace, and human rights” is part of the job.

They meet every regularly to keep members appraised of current events. They know which bills are being discussed in which governing house and the status of each one. As Indivisible Puyallup is still a fairly new group, they are still ironing out which topic has the greatest priority. So far in the top three are 1) the Russian Investigation, 2) healthcare, and 3) the environment. Tracking the budget and immigration were also hot topics.

. SuzAnne Kuhiski, one of the members who serves on the communications team, described the group as “former arm-chair political activists. We are ordinary people who see democracy threatened. It is not good enough to be angry and sad. We needed to get up and do something.”

By and large the members come from all walks of life. They are retired, hold day jobs, some have actually worked in public offices as administrative staff. They are parents, grandparents, neighbors, and all have a heart for civic duty.

Otto Rogers is another member who was inspired to get up and do something. He remembered after the election being detached. “It did not feel real,” he said. “I would share links on Facebook and sign online petitions, but I still felt removed. None of what I was doing felt like they were really working. What I really wanted to know was what can I do to resist?” He found his answer with Indivisible.

Colombo encourages anyone who wants to see what they are about to come to their meetings. Each member is more than willing to talk about why they are doing what they do.

When asked what is his end game, what is the one thing he hopes to accomplish, Columbo said in a quiet

So I have a seven and half year old daughter and I do not want her growing up in a dystopian future, where it is okay for men to sexually assault women, where women do not have the right to do what they want with their own body, pollution is running unchecked, and somebody cannot go to college because it is unaffordable. That is not the future I want for her or anyone else growing up. As a Generation Xer, we had it rough and the next generation had it rougher. It is my job as an ethical person to make this world a better place. That is what I want to do.”

‘Trump’s Wall’ Still Up in the Air

Budgetary concerns arise for the funding of ‘the Wall’

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The renewed United States-Mexico border is still in its planning process, and its construction has yet to begin. One of the major concerns is how much the Wall will cost, and where and who the money will come from.

President Trump originally estimated it would cost $10 billion, but now, according to Reuters.com, the Border Wall is estimated to cost $21.6 billion. This estimate from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stems from the costs of acquiring privately owned land, specifically sections in Texas.

John Pennington, one of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) members for Pierce College, believes the budget may very on the way the cost is spread out. “There is a very structured process for federal funding in the United States,” Pennington said, “And it is critical for readers to remember that proposed budgets from the Executive Branch are just that: proposed.”

One possibility for funds was to adjust and institute new tariffs in the National American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These tariffs would be targeted toward Mexican exports. On February 14th, in a Toronto Conference on the future of North American trade, Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said, "Nothing in the new NAFTA should be a step backward. We will definitely not include any type of trade management measures, like quotas, or open the Pandora's box of tariffs.”

Trump has made little mention of his intentions for NAFTA in regards to the Wall, and pulling from any of the U.S.’s DHS funds have not been directly address at the time.

Pennington said the cost may pull from other departments that relate to such environmental and territorial matters. The DHS houses many “legacy agencies,” including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose budget the DHS would pull from. “DHS is the overarching budget,” Pennington clarifies, “And sub-agencies fit within that overarching budget.”

The Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) is the primary funding source, and has been funded consistently for several years, even through the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Pennington believes that chances are slim for the Wall’s construction effecting the funding and budgets for Washington, and any other States’ FEMA and DHS. “FEMA and its state, tribal and local partners have fought to maintain the funding,” Pennington said, “I do not see that changing in the next several years under this or any Administration.”

Construction on the Wall does not have a clear date, nor is the source of funding for it clear. It is safe to say that branches of Emergency Management and Homeland Securities will remain largely unaffected by the implementation of the 2000 mile Wall.

Equity Rally: A Coalition for the People

Educators join the AFT Union rally in Olympia

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Drudging in freezing cold rain and muddy shoes, activists from all over the state are kept warm with hope as they fight against the possible defunding of public education.

On President’s day, educators and activists united in Olympia to form a line between the legislative building and the temple of Justice. Groups that support Planned Parenthood, fight against for-profit prisons, resist against deportation, and are firm against privatization of public schools all united to contact their local government.

Becca Ritchie, a fellow BAT, who was tired of seeing students struggle in class. “I see institutional racism in classrooms all the time. We need to see structure in this system,” Ritchie said.

Many educators rallied in response to Betsy Devos’ plan for public school education.

Feb. 7, Betsy Devos was sworn in as secretary of education. Devos is very outspoken on funding charter schools and private school, advocating for “educational choice.” However, her education plan on diverting funds for charter schools deeply concern public school educators.

National Public Radio reports her support for the AFC (American Federation for Children), which is a group that favors voucher programs—using state funds for private institutions.

One of the speakers at the rally, Julianna Dauble, an educator in Renton and does not accept Devos’ plan. “A lot of forces are converging. We are on the cusp of change. What we need now is to tax the rich and to support teachers. Washington has one of the worst tax systems, the working class has to pay a huge portion while the rich pay very little.”

AFT Washington is the educational union for state schools and public education. They organize committees for legal defense, auditing, human rights, and legislative power groups. The coordinator for AFT Washington is Jen Haggard-Mlynarek, the person who posted all of the banners on canvas. Haggard summarizes the union’s purpose to achieve equal education for all public schools and to promote social justice.

Educators such as Marc Hobbs and Beth Norman were in allegiance with AFT Washington, a union whose main goal is to have affordable education for all students. Them, along with educator group such as “Bad Ass Teachers” AKA BATs and the Owl group, displayed several banners in plastic bags.

Rally attendants were gathered around the capitol to hear personal stories from many of the speakers. From the prayers of the Yakima natives, to the chants of activists like “if you hurt our schools, you hurt us,” to local community leaders.

Yet even with all the communal support, there was some lash back. One woman held a sign saying, “divert funds for illegals and refugees to public schools.” She began yelling during some of the speeches, but was soon blocked by some of the other people.

At noon, people began to pour into the legislative building to talk with their local legislatures. Senators and House of representatives both had filled aisle seats along with crowded halls of protestors. One by one, each and every person had their voices heard.

Resist Hate.

One voice, turning into millions participate in march.

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On Jan. 21, 2017, an estimated 2.6 million people marched, some in outrage, some in protest. Some marched to express what they saw as an unfair result to the presidential election. Others joined out of concern for how Donald Trump’s policies were going to affect women’s rights, immigration, and Muslim communities.

In the days that followed, Trump picked his advisers and began to lay out policies that came from his campaign promises. People began to see a growing animosity towards certain groups. The Muslim ban and emphasis on illegal immigration only seemed to add fuel to the hostility.

Here on campus, students have expressed uncertainty and fear. Ishmael Rodriguez, a student pursuing general studies, echoed their concerns. “What I see, I don’t agree with the policies. They create distrust and fear. I can see where their fear about being deported is coming from; I’m Puerto Rican and share the same fear.”

When looking at the news feed on any social media outlets, it doesn’t take long to see the growing divide among people. Accusations on Facebook display a definite polarization. If someone voted for Trump, then automatically that person is labeled racist and supports bigotry. On the other hand, in sharing news reports one can be accused of promoting “alternative facts.”

Dennis Escobar, a student pursuing an AA/DTA, sees mainstream media as a contributing factor towards the antagonistic attitudes. “Media seems to be focusing on what’s wrong, what’s dividing us. I see them manipulating the truth to serve their own interests,” he said.

In his opinion, self-interest groups can also add to the division. By focusing only on their agenda they limit the conversation that could be had to find common ground for a solution. “I see a lot of hate and it is not just one way, but they tend to reciprocate,” Escobar said. “A simple conversation won’t be possible until their leaders stop focusing on themselves and start focusing also on others. People need be willing to sit at the table to ask, “Are you okay? What can I do to help?”

Getting involved in the community is a great way to combat the sense of helplessness many feel. Still, it can be difficult to know how to take a stand and resist hate.

One of the newest members to the college, Oneida Blagg, has some ideas to consider. She is the Executive Officer of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Basically what she does is bridge the resources between students and their achievement goals.

She had this advice: “Being informed and being respectful of opposing points of view are the best things. College is learning about academic ideas and how to present them civilly. Talking about controversial things is important. Do you want a good idea to be rejected because of how it was delivered? Talking in angry tones can prevent a conversation towards a solution. Learn how to respond rather than react.”

The global march in January grew from a statement one person made on Facebook, “I think we should march.” News reports and pictures show what could happen if one became thousands, then millions. What can one person do? Apparently quite a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Fake news” critics spread their own brand of lies

People upset over apparent “fake news” refuse to check their sources

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Whether it is a facebook friend or Trump’s campaign manager Kelly Anne Conway, Republicans and Democrats alike are vilifying the horrible shame that is “fake news.” Yet, ironically enough, they will continue to share news sources from places like The Patriot, Breitbart, or Occupy Democrats.

Bernard Shaw once said that “the currency of journalism is the objective truth, while the lifeblood is ethics.” News stations strive to be objective as possible. Channels like BBC news, NPR and C-SPAN are completely different from stations like Fox news, CNN, and MSNBC. To lump media into one huge thing is like lumping week-old cheese with milk.

The real issue at hand is not just the prevalence of fake news, it is the lack of fact-checking between the consumer and the news outlet. Part of a reporter’s job is to double-check their facts and sources. If a reporter becomes lazy, as there are quite a few guilty of this crime, it is up to the citizen to look for their sources elsewhere.

Becoming mindful of where you get your news is the first step towards finding the truth. Getting information from obviously biased news outlets only feeds their bias. If the news station or publication has a history of mangling information or libel, then avoid that source like a cancer. Articles that only serve to fit or justify an agenda are propaganda machines.

This goes for any political outlet. There is no such thing as a political party publication that is objective journalism. Whether it be Democratic like Occupy democrats, Republican like Fox news, libertarian like the Patriot, if it supports a certain belief system, it is automatically biased.

Of course, like any successful publication, the source needs to know their audience. If a biased political outlet knows that their audience will respond to a certain wedge topic (i.e. abortion, refugees, Trump), they will highlight a certain fact and expand it to outrageous proportions, setting up the ultimate click-bait headline and lure that reader in.

Check where you get your sources through Politifact or Snopes, or even better, the actual primary source of information (statistic report, law, etc.). If people realize that the lies do not bother them and share it anyway, fake news is not the problem. It’s the reader.

Analysis of Trump’s controversial executive orders

One week into presidency, Trump signs four executive orders

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With only one week in office, President Donald J. Trump has officially signed four executive orders and eight presidential memorandas, nearly tripling Obama’s number.

During this week, Trump has given the greenlight to constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline, issued a plan for the wall to be built, plan to “roll back” Obamacare, and pressure “sanctuary cities” to turn over immigrants.

Educators are already noting their disdain of his hasty decisions. “It’s very hypocritical of Republicans. They were constantly bashing Obama for breaching ‘legislative power’ and calling him a fascist. Meanwhile Trump is tripling that and they’re saying nothing,” said professor Kristin Brunnemer.

Presidents in the past have wanted to make a solid mark in their term, that could account for why Trump is issuing so many acts in the first couple of weeks. “Executive orders are only a part of the president’s power. With Obama, he had only two years to establish his plans in an eight year term. They want to put their stamp on the presidency and they only have so much time,” said professor Julie Werbel.

These orders smelled of opportunism for many of Obama’s opponents. Within Obama’s presidential term, many republican congress constituents were itching to repeal Obamacare. “The republicans have been waiting to work in their own interest. There was a wait, now there is an opportunity,” said professor John Simpson.

Trump’s republican allies are keeping mum about these new policies. “I don’t think traditional republicans are for Trump, but they are alright with his decisions and do not need to voice their own opinions. Many of them are more aligned with Pence than with trump,” said Brunnemer.

Considering his unorthodox plans for both the environment and social infrastructure, his plans are alarming. During last year’s friction between no-DAPL protestors and law enforcement, Obama ordered for DAPL plans to cease. Americans were certain that the ordeal was over.

That’s why when Trump decided to refute Obama’s decision, people were outraged. “Rushing the pipeline and quieting the EPA with the gag order is very problematic. Very ‘Putin-esque’ in my opinion,” said Brunnemer. “There is a speed to his decisions to hide conflicts of interest.”

““The president can have conflicts of interest economically, if he gets the approval of congress. Congress is republican, he could very well ask their approval, so why doesn’t he? Maybe because he does not want to answer questions and would have to reveal his business ties,” said Werbel.

By conflicts of interest, she means Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, AKA former Exxon CEO. “It is important for him to maintain his business relations,” said professor Werbel. “Our government has a commitment to the fossil industry, even when alternative energies create more, if not as many jobs.”

These orders are only a slice of what he promised to his voters, however, some voters are starting to regret the repeal for Obamacare. “Trump gave the IRS permission to penalize people who do not get health insurance,” said Werbel.

“Obamacare requires young and healthy people to purchase insurance, it creates a risk pool. There are two methods in developing a healthcare plan. Either a private option, in which everyone is required to purchase from private insurance, for-profit companies, or Medicare for everyone, in which taxpayers pay into it, which is something Obama could not politically do. When President Trump did this, he in effect created Obamacare de facto,” said Werbel.

Sanctuary cities in states such as California, Connecticut, New Mexico, and many more are at risk to Trump’s executive power. Earlier last week, Trump threatened to pull federal money if sanctuary cities continue to cooperate with immigrants. This, along with the restriction of transportation for Muslims deems to be tyrannical.

“It is illegal to punish sanctuary states. He can exert pressure on states if legislation has failure to comply, but he cannot punish California,” said Werbel. “We have turned a blind eye on immigration because the people coming up here are providing an economic safety valve. The poorest and the most desperate come here and they usually send money back home.”

As of the 24th of January, America has been downgraded to a “flawed democracy.” This is not a result of the election, but rather a culmination of market crashes, police brutalities, and overall negligence and irresponsibility.

Trump has repeatedly said that he supports torture, or ‘water-boarding.’ “It is illegal under United States law to reinstate torture, or even under international. He would have to change the law to justify that. If he asks people in the CIA and or in the military to do this stuff, he is asking them to commit war crimes,” said Werbel.

On Jan. 27, Trump issued a ban on visas coming from Islamic countries. This action received immediate retaliation for its Islam-o-phobic attitude towards refugees and raised questionable doubt for the future. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates refused to sign off on this executive order and was subsequently fired on Jan. 30.

Students Take Action in State Capitol

Pierce student government members share experiences and urge others to get involved

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January 26 may have been an ordinary Tuesday for most students, but for the legislative team that visited Olympia, it was one much more important: Political Action Day.

Legislative Senator William Sawyer and Club Senator PrinseLena Allain-Pendergrass of Pierce’s student government sat down to discuss what the purpose of Political Action Day, as well as how students can more actively involve themselves in government and legislation.

“Political Action Day in the past has been about getting as many students down to the capitol as possible,” said Sawyer.  “But it’s proven to be complicated.  Although there’s been a lot of turnout, management has been an issue… this time we tried something new.  It was just a small, legislative team to get there and show that the Community and Technical Colleges (CTCs) were all on the same topics.”  

The different community colleges throughout the state that participate in Political Action Days are known as the Washington State Community and Technical College Student Association (WACTCSA).  The teams first met at South Puget Sound Community College to discuss and focus the topics they would be discussing with legislators in Olympia.  

According to the Legislative Agenda provided by Sawyer, these topics included such things as providing post-secondary education opportunities to inmates, refining basic education as kindergarten through Associate Degree, rather than kindergarten through high school, and textbook affordability.

Sawyer talked more about the legislative teams’ strategies: “The last thing you want to be is another face in the crowd.  You want to be personal, you want to be unique, and you don’t want to draw it out.  [Cameron Cox] gave the best example: ‘I like puppies, you like puppies, you have money, please fund puppies.’  That simple message is a good way to get your point across.”

“Be as accurate as possible, and get to the point,” said Allain-Pendergrass.  According to the two, working with legislatures takes a lot of involvement from committees, and there were roughly 200 students involved in the expedition.  

Sawyer described the general process of how state legislature hears new law, based on experience from sitting in on an education committee: “...Each time they have a hearing, multiple bills come up, and they talk about it, give the context on the bill, different people come up to speak on behalf of it.  Then if there’s anyone speaking against the bill, they come up, and the committee asks questions they need answers.  Then, behind closed doors, they deliberate more.”

Attempting to speak to legislators may be intimidating, but what Sawyer describes is a relatively simple process.  “We’d like to talk to people more about just how easy it is to go down there and talk about a bill if you’re passionate enough.  It’s as easy as signing in the day of and talking to them, you don’t have to have a whole lot of leeway; if they’re there having a hearing, you can talk to them.”

Sawyer also described an encouraging sight:  “A lot of people think that because it’s legislative and political that it’s way above them.  But there are people talking there every day that are students and younger.  I’ve seen high school students down there talking about what affects them.”

The student government members also agreed that it is actually easier to get involved than ever before.  “Just read,” says Sawyer.  “If you hear chatter about a new piece of legislation, you can read up on it.  It may not affect you personally, but it’s easy to get into knowing it affects many people around you.”

Allain-Pendergrass said that even YouTube can be a good resource for learning.  “I found a lot of videos where people breakdown and summarize what you need to know, while giving good references.”  She also recommends talking among fellow students, as well as visiting student government meetings, which take place bi weekly and mimic the structure of state legislature.

Though they couldn’t discuss specifics, student government has more plans for further expeditions to the state capitol, and perhaps even inviting legislators to visit campus directly.

Obama takes aim at the future of America and Republicans.

Obama+takes+aim+at+the+future+of+America+and+Republicans.

President Obama gave his final, of seven, State of The Union address on Tuesday. The overall theme was hope and optimism for the future while calling out the Republicans on several key issues.

   In the background was Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan. On many occasions you could see Biden applauding the topics that Obama was speaking on, but in stark contrast Ryan kept a stern face, rarely acknowledging the speech. As the cameras panned out to the audience, it was clear to see it was mainly the Democrats that were clapping and cheering while the Republicans just sat there. The only time it seemed the President got a standing ovation from everyone was when he talked about how great our military is.

   One of the main points Obama made was about the price of college for Americans. “And we have to make college affordable for every American.” said Obama in his speech. “Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.”

   This was brought up last year and seemed to have fallen to the wayside. Some states, like Oregon, has already voted to make community college free for their citizens.

   Obama talked about workers who lose their job should have a way to learn a new trade so they can be hired again. “ …we shouldn’t just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him,” said Obama. “If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills.”

   This could help out students who are going to college for retraining from L&I (Labor and Industries) due to an injury sustained on their job. In the brief overview of the wage insurance, there was no talk of where the source of money would come from.

   Obama went on to talk about clean energy and how helping those around the world move away from ‘dirty’ energy. “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels,” said Obama “That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

   In the midst of all the talk about the future Obama managed to find a sentence here and there to attack the Republicans.

   “I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air,” said Obama “Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin.”

   Though he did not mention Donald Trump directly, or any other Republican presidential hopefuls, he did bash them.

   “That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness,” said Obama directly aiming at Trump. “It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

   The Republicans responded to the State of The Union with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Haley was elected as the first female and minority governor of South Carolina.

   In her speech she focused on how Obama was full of talk and less about action. She goes on to talk about the way the economy is failing, but the Republicans are also to blame.

   “We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around,” said Haley in her speech. “We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.”

   “And then we need to fix it.”

   Haley went on to talk about the terrorist attack that killed 9 people at a church in Charleston, S.C.

   She made an emphasis to point out that they held vigils instead of looting and rioting, which to some could be a slap in the face to those who were protesting in Ferguson and Baltimore.

   Haley went on to talk about taking down the Confederate flag.

   “We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him,” said Haley.

   And then she pounced on Trump.

   “Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference,” said Haley. “That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”

   Though there was talk about the parties coming together and making improvements to the nation, there was still a clear divide between ideologies on how America should be ran.

   One main elephant in the room during the State of The Union was not mentioned. Ten US sailors are being held by the Iranian government, who have since been released as of 5:03 a.m. 1/13/16. Many Republicans lashed out at Obama for not mentioning it in the speech, like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz.

   Paul, who was not at the speech, released a 5 minute video. Paul stated that the next president will have to rebuild the military, repeal medical insurance, and balance the budget.

   The State of the Union has proven, though we have moved forward as a nation, the government is clearly divided. Neither side seems to be budging.

Black President reflects BHM vision

Black+President+reflects+BHM+vision

The 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama was a historical moment in our nation’s history. This moment has had been long for, felt and understood at a much deeper level throughout the communities of Black Americans,  from the poverty stricken all the way up to the intellectual communities. It was a visible sign of America shifting it reality on what it means to be an American.The creation of what is known as Black History Month by Dr. Carter G. Woodson is, in essence, what President Obama has achieved. President Obama’s election was a mirror of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s dream. It was the start of an open acceptance and acknowledgement of Black contributions throughout America’s history, nationally.

The election of President Obama is only one moment in history filled with Black men and women of great character and integrity who have had made great strived for the advancement of a one forgotten people. Thanks to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the history of Black American’s is celebrated and honor throughout the Month of February,.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Negro History Week (Black History Month today) in 1926 in hope to expand his life-long understanding of African American’s in America’s history. Before the arrival of Negro History Week, Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), which was a more scholarly focus on the historical, social, political, and cultural understanding of the American Negro in society.

Dr. Woodson who was born of former slave parent yet graduated from the University of Harvard in 1912 with his PH.D in History. This enabled him to research and write with a scientific mind on his work of the Negro contribution. Negro History week was first celebrated in 1926 on the second week of February to honor two great American pioneers, who birthdays fell on that week, abolitionist Fredrick Douglass and former President Abraham Lincoln, both who contributed to the ending of slavery.

Although Black History Month is well known today and even celebrated internationally, it was not until 1976, which was the nation’s bicentennial, that it was officially recognized by every U.S president and celebrated throughout the entire month of February. Furthermore, the months of February is a time of celebration for resilient African-American men and women who passed their ways through social discrimination, racism, sexism, economic hardships to a position of status and honor in fields of great endeavors.

Therefore, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson had stated that “Besides building self-esteem among blacks, (Black History Week) would help eliminate prejudice among whites,”, it is obvious that President Obama’s elections is a visible realization of Dr. Woodson’s struggle to keep America’s history alive.

 

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