Pierce Pioneer

Washington State passes its first Capital Gains tax

The home of America’s two wealthiest men now has its first capital gains tax. 

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5096 on May 4 that taxes the asset revenues of up to 18,000 residents. The new law is effective January 2022. 

The law imposes a 7% tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other high-end assets over $250,000 for both individuals and couples, and is expected to bring in $500 million in 2023 and upwards of a billion dollars from 2025-27. 

Retirement accounts, real estate, farms and forestry would be exempt from the proposed tax. Also, qualified taxpayers will be allowed to deduct up to $100,000 a year from their capital gains if they made more than $250,000 in charitable donations in the same tax year.

Washington state was deemed the “least equitable” tax system of any state by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in a 2018 report. In light of this fact, Democrat lawmakers have focused on creating a tax system that would produce funds for K-12 schools and child care programs.

According to  one of the bill’s lead sponsors, Washington’s wealth inequality has led to rampant homelessness and less access to education and opportunities. 

“This is a way to invest in people, a way to invest in infrastructure and the needs we have in order to make people successful,” said Sen. Joe Nguyen.

Opponents to the new law challenged that the bill is unconstitutional based on the Washington Supreme Court decision against an income tax in 1933. The court’s decision determined that income, once received, became an asset, therefore the income tax was a property tax rather than an excise tax. 

Under the state constitution, property tax rates must be uniform across any type of property, so a graduated income tax was seen as a nonuniform property tax.

Former Attorney General Rob Mckenna has joined the second lawsuit against this tax on the grounds of its unconstitutionality. 

“Every taxing authority in the country, including the IRS and all other state revenue departments, agrees that capital gains are income,” the lawsuit reads. “Most states tax capital gains as ordinary income subject to the state’s income tax rates. Neither the federal government nor any other state levies an excise tax on capital gains.”

Yet, proponents of the bill suggest that the measure is a tax on the sale or exchange of assets such as stock and bonds. If the owner doesn’t choose to sell their assets then they will not be taxed on this exchange, therefore classifying it as an excise tax rather than a property tax.

Looking back at how tensions escalated in the holy land

April 13 is known to the Muslim world as the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Coincidentally, April 13 is also known as Memorial Day in Israel, as they mourn the deaths of soldiers who fought for the nation. This coinciding date sparked the first attribution to the start of the recent resurgence in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. 

That night, Arabs gathered in worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, a sacred sight of Islam. A muezzin recited the ritual call to prayer over the loudspeakers of the compound, where thousands of Muslims gathered. Below the compound at the Western Wall, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin prepared to give a speech in commemoration of Memorial Day in front of an inn. 

According to officials of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian agency that oversees Jerusalem’s holy sites, Israeli police demanded that they shut off their loudspeakers as the Israeli’s wanted quiet for soldiers who were praying at the neighboring Western Wall. The agency refused, and police stormed the compound, broke locks, and cut electrical speaker wires, causing outrage amongst Palestinians, Arabs, and the Jordanian government.

This incident may have rolled over in previous years, but shortly after the first night of Ramadan was interrupted, Israeli forces decided to shut down the compound’s Damascus Gate due to Covid-19 gathering concerns and a rise in protests in the area. This location is popular for young Palestinian men to gather during Ramadan after breaking their fast and is often a site for public demonstrations, furthering the outrage amongst the East Jerusalem residents.

A combination of a long-lasting housing conflict, Israeli treatment of Ramadan, and rising radicals on both sides helped facilitate the recent clash in the holy land. 

In the following weeks, protests sparked amongst the Israeli police, Palestinian protestors, and Nationalist Jewish groups across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, over 1,000 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli forces, killing dozens of Palestinians and several Jewish Israelis. The majority of the riots and protests occurred near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where much of the current conflict originated. 

Another contribution to the rise in conflict was the surrounding tension behind the scheduled court rulings of evicting six families in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem. The conflict over land dispute goes back to the 1870s when a Jewish trust purchased land in the district from Arabs in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. After the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, the land was controlled by Jordan and then housed Arab families in the area years after, as Jewish residents were expelled from East Jerusalem. 

However, the control of Sheik Jarrah would change hands once more in 1967 following the Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis. In the 1970s, Israel passed and exercised laws that allowed for previous landowners before 1948 to reclaim their property rights as rightful owners. Tenants could stay and live in the district if they paid rent to the Israeli owner, but evictions have been issued over the last three decades as housing developments have been proposed and built where Palestinian families currently reside. 

In 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court is set to make its decision on whether to evict these six families on July 20, after being postponed in May. The attempt to evict them after they refused to pay rent and built on the property illegally. Over 1,000 Palestinians currently face eviction in East Jerusalem. 

The third contributing factor in the rise in hostility was the May 7 raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque once more, which held 70,000 worshipers in attendance. Israeli police cleared the site in preparation for Jerusalem Day, where Jews gather and march through the Old City where historic temples once laid. 

Thousands stayed after worship to protest, using stun grenades and rubber bullets, leaving 136 people wounded and 83 hospitalized. Palestinian protesters threw chairs, shoes, rocks, and waved Hamas flags as violence continued to escalate.

Over the next few days, Hamas would fire over 1,000 rockets, 850 of those crossing into Israel territory, and over 200 misfirings, landing in Gaza. The 11-day conflict took the lives of 242 people in the Gaza Strip and 12 people in Israel, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This would become the most violent uprising between the two forces in years, leaving thousands homeless and thousands more to mourn the death of loved ones.

A Crisis at the Border

U.S. borders see an increase in migrants following President Joe Biden’s pause on non-citizen deportation

Since President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has seen a 15 year high in migrant border crossings. According to the CBP, 172,331 migrants went into custody in March. This was up from 101,028 detainees in February. 

In January, the Biden Administration announced that for the first 100 days, it would pause the deportation of non-citizens and discontinue the previous administration’s usage of the “remain in Mexico” policy. Formerly known as the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, it requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for an American court hearing.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske said that the U.S. faces a significant challenge at the southwest border, while confronting a serious global pandemic in a memorandum release in January. 

“In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security,” Pekoske said.

Since January 2019, 60,000 migrants have been sent back across the border under the MPP policy. Now they are eligible to be housed or remain in the U.S. while waiting for a court hearing.

With the rise in illegal crossings, many have critiqued the administration’s border policies. According to Rep. French Hill (R), who visited the border this month, the Biden administration rescinded former president Trump’s policies and took a lighter stance at the border. 

“Despite what the Biden administration says, the administration’s policies, words, and actions have created the current public health, humanitarian, and security crisis at the border, and its refusal to take the crisis seriously is having a negative impact on our country,” Hill said.

Last March, $86 million was allocated to house 1,200 migrant family members in hotel rooms. This was completed with government contracts between hotels near the Mexico border in both Arizona and Texas. 

A growing influx in illegal crossings and asylum seekers created a strain on border facility capacities. With the strain of COVID-19 protocols, the administration has to deal with the daunting task of where to hold so many people.

A major difficulty for the Biden administration has been finding housing space for an influx in unaccompanied minors. In March, CBP encountered 18,890 unaccompanied minors, which was a 100% increase from February. Once minors are detained, Border patrol is required to transfer them to the Department of Health and Human Services, who then designates housing space or works to reunite children with family members. 

Although, due to COVID-19 restrictions, HHS was working under reduced capacity, and there was limited space to house the increase in migrant children. This required HHS to open up previous housing facilities or build more primarily in Texas to support more children and still attempt to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Children are not to be held in border patrol custody for more than 72 hours, but the high number of children and lack of bed space in HHS facilities left children in CBP possession for 122 hours on average. Border Patrol facilities then became crowded with minors as the transfer process became backlogged. A Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas was reported to be over 700% capacity with 1,800 people in an area designed for 250 migrants. 

Additionally, the number of unaccompanied children in CBP facilities peaked at 6,000 children in March. During the last administration, the height of unaccompanied minors was 2,600. This has more than doubled and now matters remain increasingly difficult with more health restrictions and less housing space.

An influx in migrant border crossing has been attributed to both relaxed policies of deportation and the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most children are fleeing economic hardship and violence from Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Yet, along the way migrants face more violence and harm. It is estimated that 1/3 of women are sexually assaulted along the journey to the U.S. border.

Moving to April, CBP still saw a slight increase in migrant crossings with 178,622 border encounters. Yet, the amount of unaccompanied minors decreased compared to April while the number of single adults rose. 

A poll published in May by Associated Press-NORC at the University of Chicago found that 43% of adults approve of how President Joe Biden is handling the crisis at the border. On the other hand, 54% do not approve of his administration’s actions since January.

The Biden administration still faces a daunting task of resolving a near 20 year high of border crossings with no end in sight.

Interview with T’wina Nobles

Joe Biden Instills 12 New Executive Orders

Newly elected President Joe Biden signed a record amount of executive actions just within his first week of office. Twelve of which directly reversed former president Trump administration policies in a progressive push towards immigration, climate and COVID-19 relief initiatives. 

With over 30 executive actions in his first week of office, President Biden continues to separate himself from the previous administration. Here are all the reversed policies in week one:

Health

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rejoined the World Health Organization after the previous administration cut all funding to the organization in May 2020. In this decision, the President appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci to represent the United States on WHO’s delegation committee. 

Former president Donald Trump rescinded from WHO last spring after claiming that the organization helped cover up the mishandling of COVID-19 by China. The Chinese government faced criticism throughout 2020 by not accurately reporting the full danger of COVID-19. After long negotiation, WHO sent a team to investigate the origins of the virus in late January of 2021, over a year after the first known case was detected in 2019.

Five days later, COVID-19 travel restrictions were reinstated for non-citizens travelling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, most of Europe, and South Africa. The Biden administration pointed to new discoveries of a second strand of COVID-19 that was detected in England and South Africa. 

Immigration

Of President Biden’s 19 executive actions on day one of his presidency, three of those reversed previous immigration policies. The first was to halt the construction of Trump’s border wall that broke ground in 2017. Over 450 miles of border wall have been installed since 2017, where 47 miles of that were in previously non-existing locations. Biden’s executive order gave him the power to divert $10 billion dollars of allocated funds to other resources that haven’t been determined at this time. 

Additionally, President Biden reversed the controversial travel ban on Muslim majority countries. The travel ban faced several court obstructions until 2018 when the Supreme Court upheld the executive order on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and restricted North Korea and Venezuela. President Trump defended his ban in regards to improving the vetting process of refugees and safety concerns for U.S. citizens.

In an effort to revise and evaluate the United State’s immigration, President Biden reversed the Trump administration’s expanded immigration enforcement. Trump’s reversed executive order prioritized the deportation of illegal aliens who have committed a crime and sanctuary cities that housed illegal immigrants. Cities who didn’t cooperate with federal law enforcement would be at risk of losing federal grants, but this policy has been deemed unconstitutional. 

Equity

LGBTQ rights were included in President Biden’s plethora of executive actions by reversing Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from serving in the military. This previously would not allow the military to turn away or discharge people for their gender identity. Trump pointed to financial costs and distractions to military operations in a tweet in 2017. 

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump stated.

As a counter to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, former president Trump founded the 1776 Commission that was to promote “patriotic education.” The commission is composed of 18 members appointed by Trump in December of 2020. Present Biden rescinded this commission through executive order, claiming that the report attempts to “erase America’s history of racial injustice.” 

Environment

Included in his Jan. 20 executive actions, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate accord after former president Trump left the agreement in 2017. Trump left after calling the agreement harmful to the U.S. economy and claimed it to be a flawed plan. The agreement attempts to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and binds over 190 countries into cutting their carbon emissions each year. 

Although, the agreement allows China to increase their carbon emissions until 2030, where they have then vowed to decrease emissions after reaching their energy peak. China produces the most amount of carbon emissions in the world at 10.43 gigatonnes which equals 29% of all emissions. The U.S. is second, behind China and makes up 14% percent of all world emissions. 

Furthermore, in an effort to continue his climate activism, President Biden stopped the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that connected oil reserves from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. This decision came at a cost as 1,000 jobs were immediately lost and an extra 10,000 employees won’t be hired after the pipeline contract was canceled. The Biden administration has made it a priority to step away from oil usage and expand the country’s reliance on clean energy.

Census

In President Biden’s early actions to address U.S. immigration, he revoked the previous administration’s action to not count illegal immigrants in the 2020 Census. In his executive order, Biden addressed the 14th Amendment and its call to count whole numbers of persons in each state. The Census is the deciding tactic for assigning each state’s amount of electoral votes that deviate the 435 members in the house based on each state’s count. 

Economy

On the campaign trail, Biden presented his plan on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and took the first steps to achieving this through an executive order. In his action Biden provided federal employees with emergency paid leave, and restored collective bargaining rights and protections. This would give federal employees more mandatory work compensation that was rescinded by the previous administration.

Since this executive order, Biden continues to advocate for a federal minimum wage of $15, but the policy was not included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by the house of representatives. The Biden administration’s hope for an increase for low wage earners would have to come from a separate congressional bill. 

Regulation

With an increase in regulations on the agenda for the new administration, President Biden aimed to change how the White House reviews regulations. These changes attempt to emphasize the benefits of regulation and turn away review of weighing the cost of regulation. This executive action paves the way for an increase in federal regulations as the Biden administration continues to go around Congress in their first week in office.

Why Don’t We Vote?

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Students weigh in on today’s political state and what gets them motivated to vote, as the Democratic Primaries arrive.

The time has come again to vote for president. Whether for re-electing the current president or campaigning for another candidate, this is a tense time of the year. The Washington Democratic Primaries start on Mar. 10, where citizens vote a nominee of a major political party for the office of president.

For Pierce College student Nicole Lee, her parents instilled many values growing up, as being a first-generation citizen. One of those values included going out to vote. “One of our rights and freedoms is to vote on our elected officials and how they’re going to run this country.”

“It’s going to be our future, right?” Lee said. “What’s going to happen to [American citizens] is directly correlated to who leads our country.”

Not all citizens are required to participate in voting, whether that is registration or voting in state and national elections. However, according to the Secretary of State, in 2016 only 76.83 percent of all citizens registered to vote.

According to ABC News, in Australia, voter participation has never been below 90 percent, as citizens are automatically registered and required to vote by law. For America, the big question which remains is one that’s been asked for years – how do we get people to go out and vote?

Travis Nelson, a Political Science professor at Pierce College, said it’s important that people know what they’re voting for, and are informed. “The main thing that we should do is show a connection to how politics actually affect our daily lives,” he said. Nelson added that having more high school or college classes focusing on current events could help students become more informed.

Some contributors to people not going out to vote include voters feeling as though their participation won’t affect the results in the long run. This is partly due to the electoral college, a system still in question by many voters.

According to HuffPost, the Electoral College involves 538 electors casting votes for the President. Nelson said it plays an important role, allowing presidential candidates to pay more attention to the interests of people in the smaller states that are typically ignored.

“But if we are getting to a point where the popular vote ends up quite different from the electoral college, then I think we need to reconsider the need to have the electoral college,” Nelson said.

Rachel Mathies, a student at Pierce, said the popular vote should have more merit than what it does currently. “I don’t think it should be abolished completely,” she said. “But I believe that it should be at least revised to be more reflective of the popular vote.”

Lee also adds that although it’s a way to get things done quicker, the popular vote should matter.

According to The U.S. Census Bureau, 18 to 29-year-olds make up only 21.2 percent of voters in Washington, compared to 45 to 64-year-old voters make up 34.6 percent. Mathies said young people are outnumbered by the “baby boomers”, and are easily discouraged about their vote making a difference.

Nelson said he expects a high turnout from voters of the younger generation this year, however. “It’s possible that with what’s going on with the impeachment that people will be kind of motivated to participate in the system,” he said.

Mathies, being 20-years-old, is excited to vote this year. “I feel like even though I’m a small number of the popular vote, my voice still makes a difference,” Mathies said. “Our ancestors fought for the right to vote, and I should participate in that process.”

When pointing out the decline in voters during election years, another topic which arises is what citizens actually want out of a presidential candidate. Voters do have certain qualities they look for, which can motivate those to go out and vote.

“Some of [the candidates] have more back bone than the others and that’s ultimately the difference in my eyes,” said Lee. “How will they be approached by the world, interact with other countries or nations and their leaders?”

Democratic front runners are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, with Elizabeth Warren not far behind. Mathies said she looks for candidates who can stand their ground during debates, especially against President Donald Trump. “I don’t see it as being an actual debate,” said Mathies. “[Trump] doesn’t follow debate rules.”

For almost four years, President Trump has held the Presidential office. Trump was the first president to be impeached, acquitted and run for a second term in history. Nelson said Trump is still retaining supporters.

“It’s totally different than the past, where people have been able to run off their own merits,” Nelson said. “This impeachment process emboldens the supporters and gives more ammunition to his reelection.

With Sanders running as a democratic socialist, his platform of free college can be appealing to young people who are prospective or current students. Mathies said it’s hard to get started when you have student debt. “That’s a really huge impact on a young person because we are trying to start out lives at that point.”

If a democrat is elected into The White House, it could shift many aspects in the country. Lee wants to see de-escalation between the two parties and some of the social movements surrounding them. “Hopefully the attitude in this country will change,” Lee said. “I think ethically and morally in how we treat each other has been disrupted over the past four years.”

Although politics can be a complex subject, students can get more information about presidential candidates and current events by receiving updates through news apps.

To register to vote, you can visit votewa.gov.

March 2020 / Vol. 53 Issue 5

Rising Tensions in 2020

Pixabay.com / Photo Credit

Students and Professors on campus weigh in their personal thoughts on the U.S.-Iran conflict

Beginning 2020, President Donald Trump authorized an airstrike that killed Iran’s major general Qassem Soleimani; an act not approved by congress. Iran responded by firing missiles at bases in Iraq hosting United States troops. No Americans or Iraqi people were harmed in this attack.

Trump directed the immediate deployment of troops to the Middle East a day after the attack on Iran. While Trump stated there would be no further attacks after Iran’s strike, a number of Pierce College students are still affected by this news. Pierce College students who are veterans or active duty have differing opinions with the ongoing conflict between the U.S and Iran.

Julio Russell, an 11-year U.S. Army veteran, knows how difficult it is to be deployed, having served two tours in the Middle East. “It takes a toll on soldiers, being away,” said Russell. “You come back home and everything’s the same for you, [but] not for us. They teach us how to go to war, they don’t teach you how to come back from war.” 

Russell adds it doesn’t serve America’s best interest to get into another conflict with Iran. “There’s other conflicts and other things that are more important than Iran,” he said.

According to BBC News, the tense relationship between the U.S. and Iran date back over 60-years. The initial contact with Iran was in 1953 when the U.S. and the British intelligence staged a coup to remove the citizen elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq. Within that time, the relationship has been inconsistent, with efforts from both sides having been unsuccessful.

Pierce College American history professor David Thomas, P.h.D., said the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979 and 9-11 are significant events impacting relations that have vacillated over the last 7-years. “To Iranians, we’re a bully who overthrew [their] government,” he said. “To Americans, they’re a terrorist who kidnap people.”

Even though the next steps for the U.S. and Iran is unknown, people’s opinions and assumptions come to light online. Russell’s day-to-day wasn’t directly affected other than the social media responses from what he refers to as “Facebook keyboard warriors.”

“Are you driving your kid to the recruiter line right now,” said Russell. “If they’re not there, boots-on-ground, don’t tell me nothing. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.”

Twitter sounded off after the attacks. The potential of World War 3 was the topic of all tweets, with politicians sending out information and the American people creating memes, hoping to soften the blow. Furthermore, citizens were curious if this would put Trump’s impeachment trial on hold.

According to CNN, in Dec. 2019, the House of Representatives passed both articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has held off pressure to send the articles to the Senate.

Tony Rondone, a 26-year Air Force veteran, said he expects the conflict to be contained in the region. “[Iran] did what they were gonna do to save face because they don’t want a war with the U.S.,” said Rondone. “Keeping that in mind, we shouldn’t be provoking them, but you do what you have to.”

Thomas said there’s a chance that it erupts into a further war in the Middle East. “It’s unlikely for a world war to happen because many other countries would be wary of getting involved.”

Along with this, provoking Iran sends a message to the world about how America operates. “I worry what it looks like assassinating an official from another country when we’re not at war,” said Thomas. 

Iran has been active since Soleimani’s death, with protesters in the streets and their military on guard. The destruction of a Ukraine commercial airplane, killing 176 passengers with many of the victims being Iranian and Canadian, brought even more protesters out. This leaves the U.S. in a difficult position, attempting to find a way to possibly resolve this battle.

Although they were not an option in the past, Josef Kasprzak, a 13-year Air Force veteran, said a peaceful talk may be a solution to get down to the root cause. “Not all Americans are going to treat [Iran] the same way as they did in the past and vice versa,” he said.

Thomas finds a solution to this to be unlikely, with Trump unwilling to abide by the Iran Nuclear Agreement President Barack Obama signed. “I think it was a mistake to back out of the nuclear treaty to begin with,” he said. “So ideally, we could return to that sort of relationship or agreement.”

There is uncertainty among the Pierce College community whether this dispute will be resolved, if at all. Nevertheless, the history and tension between the two countries will leave a lasting memory on Americans and Iranians alike.

February 2020 / Vol. 53 Issue 4

The Drop – Episode 4 – Hong Kong

Daniel So interviews students from Hong Kong about the protest back home and how it has affected them, their families and the community.

Host: Daniel So

Guest: William Liu, Kay Li, David Wong Gutierrez

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.

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