Monday, February 27, 2017

Trump to propose 10 percent spike in defense spending, major cuts to other agencies

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In regards to the upcoming annual federal budget, Trump has revealed that he plans to increase federal spending on the government by $54 billion, hoping to raise military spending by 10% by the end of 2017. He does not plan to increase taxes to help fund this increase, but instead has nebulously claimed that he plans to cut spending on other federal programs to keep the books balanced (as balanced as the government’s budget can really be). I don’t intend to delude myself with ideas of a perfectly peaceful world in which America can spend ludicrous amounts of money on education and science instead of the military, but I do feel that our military spending is already a bit excessive (defense was 16% of federal budget of 2015), and a 10% increase of it, at the expense of other federal programs, seems even more excessive. In terms of historical connections, this partially reminds me more of the steady increases in military spending during the cold war than than staggering, sudden increase that occurred during the second world war. I find this comparison apt due to the fact that this military spending isn’t for fighting some large, immediate conflict, but the more ambiguous war on terror, including the fighting against Isis. Considering all this information, do you think this increase in military spending is justified or reasonable? Is the US spending too much on its military? Why or why not?

Trump Reverses Policy Which Allows Trans People To Use Bathroom Of Their Choice

President Donald Trump has recently undone President Obama’s federal guidelines which allowed transgender people in public schools to use the bathroom which corresponds with their gender identity. This has caused a lot of outrage in the LGBTQ community as they believe that it is a violation of their rights. My opinion on this issue is that people should use the bathroom which corresponds with their biological sex, not their gender identity, as that is the purpose of having a women’s and men’s bathroom. Allowing female into the men’s restroom and vice versa will lead to many people feeling uncomfortable using the bathroom and will create an open door for sexual assault. Less than 1% of youth identify as transgender, so it seems unreasonable to make everyone else feel uncomfortable just to pander to less than 1%. Similar to how christian bakers will feel uncomfortable baking cakes for gay and lesbian weddings, many people will feel uncomfortable using the bathroom with those of the opposite sex.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trump decides to not attend the White House Correspondents Dinner

President Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with the press since he's been elected. He has called the press many nasty things including, " they are the enemy of the American people",. The dinner fundraisers money for journalists and many important news outlets and celebrities attend. This could be a chance for Trump to start to amend his relationship with the press by attending, but by him choosing not to attend, it looks bad on his part. This somewhat ties to Grover Cleveland who didn't like the press and wouldn't let them in the White House and make them stand outside in bad weather. What do you think this will do to Trump's image? What will the dinner be like with him there? What will press put out about him after the dinner?

Germany hate crime: Nearly 10 attacks a day on migrants in 2016


With Trump's state of the Union coming this Tuesday, this is one of the big issues that is likely going to be addressed: Syrian refugees. As seen in the article, there is a clear response form many European countries, here it's Germany, that they do not want Syrians refugees in the country. Thus, this has led to the rise of the far-right and a call for more conservative policies of not letting refugees into the country.

Seeing the rise of the far-right and the islamophobia in the world, I see a clear connection with the build-up to World War II and the holocaust with the anti-semitism throughout the world. (Yes, there was anti-semitism also in America at the time)

What do you think will regarding Syrian refugees happen now that Trump will happen? Do you think the United States should accept Syrian refugees? I believe that the US should accept refugees, but a small number and they should have extreme vetting of potential candidates. Lastly, what is your opinion about the rise of far-right parties in Europe?

A Citizens' Petition Calls For A New French President: Barack Obama

As the French presidential elections approach, French citizens are becoming frustrated with their country's political climate. A group of four friends from Paris started a petition to elect former US President Barack Obama as France's president. As of Feb. 23, there are 27,000 signatures on the petition and posters with "Obama 2017" have been posted all around Paris. While the petition is an obvious joke (Obama doesn't speak French and isn't a French citizen), a founder of the fake campaign vented his frustration of feeling like he always "had to vote against someone" and thought "it would be cool to be able to vote for someone we admire." This view on voting reminds me of the Gilded Age political machines, where voters elected politicians for the wrong reasons. They voted for people that would benefit themselves, rather than people they genuinely liked. Sadly, I don't see this cycle of political misfortune ending soon. Even during the US 2016 election, it seemed like people were voting for the lesser of two evils. Where do you see global politics going in the future? Do you think people are starting to lose trust in their governments? What ways do you think governments can rebuild trust with their citizens?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Women Were Protagonists in 2016 Movies

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
Credit(Lucasfilm Ltd, via Associated Press)


Recently, television saw a considerable increase in female lead roles, which I believe is largely helped by women's increasing involvement in the entertainment industry both as producers and consumers. This information makes me consider how what we see in entertainment reflects the context of the time period. One example that comes to mind is the sudden popularity of comic books and superheroes, who often fought against Axis Powers, during the times of the Great Depression and WWII. This occurred mainly due to people's desire to escape reality and place themselves in a safer, more interesting life. Many comic book writers were Jewish and reflected their sentiment of being an "outsider" into their characters, similar to how many female filmmakers who experience gender inequality tend to include more female characters in their work. Another example of entertainment reflecting the time period is "Gone With the Wind," an extremely popular movie people now recognize to perpetuate racial stereotypes. I believe this recent increase in female lead roles reflects society's desire for gender equality, which is a big and current issue. As a female who sees a lack of female representation in films, I am glad this issue is being addressed. What do you think these studies show about how our society is progressing? Are there any films you can think of that reflect the context of our current time period, or, like "Gone With the Wind," may be considered controversial in the future?

Did Trump win because his name came first in key states?

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I don't believe that Trump's name being first on the ballots in key states contributed a significant amount of votes for his victory in those states.  Even though the primacy effect exists and affects a couple of our day to day actions, I don't think that people will just select the first name on the list, rather they would use logic and their own opinion to select a choice. Unless our country is full of people that vote just to vote or lack intelligence, I doubt the primacy effect has any change on the votes. This reminds me of the time Clinton unexpectedly beat Obama in the New Hampshire Primary when Clinton's name was at the top of the list while Obama's was at the bottom. Do you think that the primacy effect has an influence on the ballot? If not that, what other force may have contributed to Trump's victory?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mexican man kills himself after being deported from US
There has been a lot of controversy concerning deportation and immigration. Donald Trump has been pushing his power to the extreme, causing many problems for many people. This article explains how a Mexican man decided to commit suicide after being deported for the third time. I think this is a terrible situation that could have been avoided if Trump was not so aggressive with his powers. What do you guys think? Do you think that this was bound to happen? Or is it Trumps fault that this man was deported a third time? What do you think of the whole immigration situation at the moment? In my opinion I think everything is a big mess, I just hope that everything will settle down soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump's New Immigration Policies Outlined
Trump has notably taken a very hard stance on immigration and has spurred much of the recent fear within illegal immigrants who are wondering whether they will be deported in the near future. Opponents of trump have spread sentiment over whether this deportation is necessary and how Trump's plans mean a massive deportation or not. However, in this new report, the memos outline that massive deportations will not happen; rather, more power is given to the ICe and the Other border patrol agencies to enforce pre-existing laws. Some guidelines that are in place already are that schools and churches are off limit for deportation and that people that have proof of residency over two years will not be targeted. Although this subject is known to be similar to xenophobia (like the nativist beliefs we learned in class), I actually believe that deportation is different. Illegal immigrants, should in fact, be deported as allowing illegal immigration seems unfair to those who choose the legal path. In fact, I believe that legal immigration allows us to control the number of people coming in, but illegal immigration is both dangerous and unpredictable. Thus, do you think that these policies are necessary first steps in preventing illegals? Although heartbreaking for some people, is this hard-line approach beneficial to the US in the long term? What are some short-term impacts of the new laws on immigration (such as more fear)?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos’s Pedophilia Comments Cost Him CPAC Role and Book Deal

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After his appearance at UC Berkeley was cancelled over protests that turned violent, Milo Yiannopoulus, senior editor of Breitbart News, is in the news yet again. Known for his attention-seeking stunts and racially charged antics that generate more than enough controversy, videos leaked on Sunday showed Yiannopoulus seemingly condone sexual relations with boys as young as 13, noting that "pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty." He blamed a misunderstanding of his remarks on "British sarcasm" and "deceptive editing." A day later, the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded their invitation for him to speak this week, and the publishing company Simon & Schuster cancelled the publication of Yiannopoulus's forthcoming autobiography, Dangerous. As Yiannopoulus consistently cites his controversial comments as exercising free speech, this reminds me of the 1957 Supreme Court case Roth v. U.S. which redefined the legal term of "obscenity" and held it to be not protected by the First Amendment. I personally believe that the CPAC and Simon & Schuster's actions are justified and that more action should've been taken earlier because many of Yannopoulus's comments have crossed my line between "free speech" and "hate speech." Do you guys agree or disagree? Are the actions of the CPAC and Simon & Schuster justified? What constitutes "free speech?" Is there a definite line that separates "free speech" and "hate speech?" What is your line?

House Vote Paves the Way for States to Defund Planned Parenthood

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This is admittedly very similar to Andrea's article, though I believe it should be discussed nonetheless. On Thursday, the House approved a resolution that will allow states to withhold federal family-planning funds from affiliates of Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers that offer abortions, and specifically targets Planned Parenthood's participation in Title X, which provides funds for reproductive services at little to no cost for low-income Americans, despite the fact that these funds cannot be used for abortions, and haven't been since 2000. Those in favor of this resolution argue that these funds will go to other healthcare clinics which will be able to care for those who can no longer use Planned Parenthood, but the article provides evidence against this claim, including women going without care. To me, this feels as though we are moving backwards, to when healthcare was not easily accessible, as many can no longer afford some basic services. Do you believe that targeting Planned Parenthood's participation in Title X is justified? What kind of impact do you think this resolution will have on both low-income Americans and on the political climate right now?

Should we be Teaching our Children Religious Literacy?

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Many can agree that we live in a diverse society where people have become more accepting to differing ideas, however, there are still topics that divide us. One of the more prominent ones being religion. In the article, the author proposes a solution to this ancient issue. He states that we should give children more insight about religion in order to allow them to better understand the opposing side and either come to an agreement or a "better disagreement." The author compares this idea to looking into a beam of light and states that you can't look into the beam of light as that is blinding, but should look from the light as you can see more. This controversy mirrors the controversial Scopes trial as the issue surrounded the idea about what should be taught in schools and challenged religious ideas. Personally, I believe that knowledge is power and that it would be great for our youth to gain more insight on what divides us as a society. However, I also understand that some would not be okay with studying religious content as that is not what they believe. Do you think we should teach our youth more about religion? Is religion to controversial to teach in a classroom? What else can be done to help solve the issues surrounding religion?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

In Welcoming Shinzo Abe, Trump Affirms U.S. Commitment to Defending Japan

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On February 10, 2017, the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe and President Trump got together for a meeting. The president of the US pledged close security and economic cooperation with Japan. They vocalized that they would like to put past tensions behind them an that they are committed to bringing their ties even closer. This event reminds of the relationship between the US and Japan during WW2 and how their relations have come a long way since then; how 75 years ago, they were dropping bombs on each other. It impresses me how they are able to peacefully communicate and discuss their future intentions in such a peaceful manner. Do you think that the peace between these two countries will last? Has the US and Japan finally come to peace? Do you think that they have both forgiven the damage that the other country has caused
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Calls for Protests For and Against Planned Parenthood

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Last week, pro-life protesters organized demonstrations outside more than 200 Planned Parenthood locations, urging President  Trump to strip their federal funding. However, pro-choice supporters counter-protested. After the election of Pence as VP and Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice, anti-abortion demonstrations escalated to new heights. This reminds me of the Margaret Sanger case back in the early 1900s. As she was the first to coin the term "birth control," it was not surprising that people opposed her. (Fun fact: Sanger actually created the American Birth Control League, which later changed its name to Planned Parenthood.)

In my opinion, Trump should not defund Planned Parenthood because PP offers many different services, such as STI and STD screenings at low costs, which is very important especially towards low-income families. What do you think? Do you think Trump should continue funding Planned Parenthood? Also, do you believe that pro-life rights will increase because of the conservative views that are in the government?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Berkeley Protests Over Conservative Speaker

Just over a week ago, Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at the nearby college, UC Berkeley. He is a well known right wing and homosexual speaker that is very open about his views on feminism, transgender men and women, and politics. Scheduled to speak the first of this month by the request of the university's Berkeley College Republicans, Yiannopoulos caused outrage as his event was cancelled by the university. Over 100 demonstrators came dressed in clothing to mask their faces and violently rioted against the speaker by creating bonfires and destroying property. Yiannopoulos accuses the supposed left wing rioters for being scared of free speech and attributes it to the motive behind their demonstrations and marches within the past year. This is however paradoxical and illogical because those protesting are in fact utilizing their ability of free speech in order for their voices against Yiannopoulos to be heard. The biggest issue to come about as a result of these demonstrations is Trump's recent tweet about the situation. He claims to now reduce any federal funds to this public university and attacks students for not allowing Mr. Yiannopoulos to practice his right of free speech once again entering a paradoxical situation. Gavin Newsom responds he is appalled Trump is acting the way he is punishing 38,000 for the actions of a few. I personally feel that the Berkeley students had very right to protest, yet should have avoided violence, even if it draws more attention to the situation. I also support the college's decision to cancel the event because Yiannopoulos was using a university facility and not a random bystander on the street meaning they do have control with what happens at this event and due to the fact he was causing the violence as a result, he should not have been allowed to speak. With that being said, Trump has no  right to decline any funds to Berkeley and I personally see this as a childish move to impair the education of thousands just because the situation didn't turn out the way he wanted.  This can be connected to the Free Speech Movement in the 1960's that also took place at Berkeley. In a similar situation, students felt it was their right to protest against values on campus grounds when they deem it necessary, returning to the idea of verbal freedom on a college campus and to what extent this is allowed. Do you feel UC Berkeley had the right to cancel the speech due to the resulting uprising? Do you feel Trump has crossed the line by supposedly stopping federal funds as he infringes on the right to education? 

It's Alive! Algae Survive 16 Months Exposure To Space

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This discovery is pretty incredible.  I personally did not expect to learn of any form of life to be able to survive in the harsh conditions of space, and yet plant life that is found on Earth posses qualities that allow it to. I think that this discovery will open up countless doors for our future in space exploration.  I'm excited to see what kind of discoveries are made about the algae now that research is being done on it, because I think some sort of change must have occurred during its sixteen months in space.  Having a plant with this kind of resilience could also be extremely beneficial to people such as Elon Musk, who wishes to be able to colonize other planets.  Now that it has been seen that plants can survive in space, I imagine that interplanetary colonization will happen much sooner than previously anticipated.  With this kind of potential, I see a connection to events such as the Great Migration, where many African Americans moved and began populating different areas of the United States.  What do you think this discovery means for space exploration?  Do you think that we should attempt to colonize other planets?  Why?

North Korea conducts ballistic missile test

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For the first time since Donald Trump took office in January, North Korea tested their ballistic missiles. The tests that North Korea continue to run, go directly against the UN resolutions and are unnerving to outside nations. According to the South Korean government, the missile flew towards the Sea of Japan. Donald Trump reassured Japan's Prime Minister that "America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%". Yet this statement by Trump was contradicted during his election when he claimed, "US defence commitments to Japan and South Korea were unfair and also called for Japan to pay the full cost of stationing US troops on its soil." In January, Kim Jong-un also warned that the US was close to testing long range missiles that could potentially reach the US homeland. Though North Korea does warn of this threat, experts are skeptical that they have the technological advancement to do so. In my opinion I believe that the US and other countries need to back each other up fully when it comes to nuclear missiles. Also, I believe nations should set up missile defense system as well to further prepare. As of right now, I don't see North Korea as an immediate threat, but if outside nations don't take action, the problems coming from North Korea can spiral out of control.

Do you believe that the US should 100% back up Japan? How should outside nations respond to North Korean threats? Do you see North Korea as an immediate threat?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shutting Down Speech by Elizabeth Warren, G.O.P. Amplifies Her Message

Last Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren was reading a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King addressed to the Senate, when Senate Republicans voted to keep her from reading the letter, which "criticized" Senator Jeff Sessions, the current United States Attorney General. The decision was led by Senator Mitch McConnell, who reminded her of the "rarely enforced rule prohibiting senators from impugning the motives and conduct of a peer." With the enforcement of a rarely used procedural rule to silence Ms. Warren, I am reminded of the great struggles women have faced throughout history, one of them being fighting for their right to vote and speak out.

Though I feel as if women have gained more rights over time, women are still fighting for their right to speak out and have their words carry the same weight as the words of their male peers, as seen in this situation. I also think Ms. Warren had the right to read the letter, as she really was just expressing "public views and opinions of Senator Jeff Sessions." Do you think she had the right to read the letter? If she had been male, do you think Senators would have reacted differently to the reading of Coretta Scott King's letter? How, in your opinion, does this affect the fight for women's rights?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mexican woman may be first person deported under new Trump order

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On February 9, mother Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was deported back to Mexico. She is currently 36 years old and has been living in the United States for the past 20 years. This specific deportation has earned national attention because this seems to be the first person effected by Trump’s strict immigration policies. Before the Trump administration, she has been doing yearly ICE check-ins with no consequence. When reading about this event, it is pretty upsetting to see this mother get separated from her two kids who were born in the US. While I do believe immigration policies are necessary, I think in this story this women was unfairly deported because of the fact that she has been living here peacefully for 20+ years, has 2 children, and has done no harm to this country. The deportation of this mother who originally had lenience under the Obama Administration provides early evidence of how President Donald Trump plans to carry through his promise to crack down on illegal immigrants. When thinking back at history, even though not a direct correlation to immigration, this event reminds me of the drastic change in policy from president Hoover to FDR during the time of the Great Depression. Hoover was more about laissez faire policies and FDR was all about government taking action in fixing the economy. This lies very similarly today as seen by this event because we notice the clear change in policy between the loosely regulated immigration policies under the Obama administration to a more strict approach under Trump. Do you believe that Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos should have been deported? What do you think of the new strict policies surrounding immigration under the Trump Administration? 

Kenya to appeal court block on closure of world's largest refugee camp

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On Thursday February 9, 2017 a court hearing was announced for the closure of the largest refugee camp in the world. Kenya is taking action in order to protect their citizens, although it goes against their constitution. The camp became popular in the 1990's and was a home to over 260,000 people but the Somalian people are now happy with this government's new decision. The Somalian government has declared that they will be shutting down in order to protect Kenya from future terrorist attacks. This connects back the Red Scare in 1919 because just like Kenya, the U.S. was afraid of foreigners and letting communists into the country. Is this fair for the rest of the world who are seeking refuge to be denied this option? What would be a better way to deal with the potential terrorists while protecting those who seek refuge? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Betsy DeVos confirmed as education secretary

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Vice President Mike Pence, right, swears in Education Secretary Betsy DeVos next to her husband, Dick, on Tuesday, February 7. Pence <a href="" target="_blank">cast a historic tie-breaking vote</a> to confirm DeVos after the Senate was divided 50-50.

After Vice President Pence broke a tie in the senate, Betsy DeVos became out new education secretary. DeVos has been criticized for her lack of experience with the Public School System. One of her most controversial propositions is her plan to implement the voucher system, giving a significant tax break to those who have children in private school. There is a lot of turmoil surrounding the school system in America. There was also a lot of conflict in the school system surrounding the idea of evolution. With the voucher system being talked about, keeping in mind that you go to a public school that will be losing money to give tax breaks to those who attend private schools, what is your opinion of Betsy DeVos? What do you think about her policies? What do you think about the idea of vouchers? How do you think our school environment will be affected by the voucher system?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Army Approves Construction of Dakota Access Pipeline

It has been announced that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline has been passed for construction by the Army. It was two months ago when the Obama administration had stated that they would come up with different routes, however now, President Trump has ordered an approval for the construction of the pipeline. The Dakota Pipeline will run beneath the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, who worry deeply about a contaminated water supply, since the project will transfer 470,000 barrels of oil a day.  Not only does the tribe worry about the dangers for their water supply, but they are in disbelief due to the disrespect that the government has put forth by accessing the tribes ancient grounds that bring about such conflict. You can refer this back to mistreatment and isolation during the Indian Removal Act. The relocation policy created reservations for the natives that were meant to keep them segregated and below the government's living standards. It is a shame that even today, our government intervenes with native living conditions in order to benefit themselves. What are your thoughts and opinions over the Dakota Pipeline being passed? Do you feel the government has the right to interfere with reservations land that was specifically given to natives by the government to prevent future conflicts? How do you think the pipeline will affect the natives living in the reservation lands?

Appeals Court Panel Appears Skeptical of Trump’s Travel Ban

The Judges of the Ninth Circuit- Left to Right,  Richard R. Clifton, William C. Canby Jr. and Michelle T. Friedland(image credit-Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

Find the link to the article here

This article describes the current court case over Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim majority nations and an overhaul of U.S. refugee policy(namely decreasing the number of refugees allowed into the country, and more extensive and time consuming background checks). The case is currently being heard by the Ninth Circuit. The case, whatever the outcome, is likely to be appealed again in the Supreme Court, but as there are currently four liberals and four conservatives on the Court, the outcome of the Supreme Court trial will be a tie, and we will fall back on the ruling made by the Ninth Circuit. The power of the courts to challenge legislation or executive power was first established in the case Marbury v Madison. The legacy of judicial review, or the power of federal courts to overturn legislation determined to be "unconstitutional", has a long history of being used to challenge many unjust laws(have we detected my bias yet?) and has been a powerful instrument of change in policy. The court is to determine whether Trump's executive order is unconstitutional so my question is simple. Is Trump's so-called "immigration ban" unconstitutional?

Friday, February 3, 2017

How Violence Undermined the Berkeley Protest

           Protesting at University of California Berkeley turned violent on Wednesday night as masked agitators began brutally disrupting the peace. The students were protesting a scheduled speech on campus from Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing provocateur dead set on stifling the left. That night of the peaceful protest, masked anarchists began inciting violence as brawling broke out and property started being destroyed. The article claims that the significance of the event was the fact that violence, again, sabotaged another attempt at peaceful protesting. Violence like this puts benign protesters at high risk as it places them in a bad light along with the instigators. To me it seems that protesting like this does more damage than good.

The United States has a history of people advocating for their beliefs and rights, whether they be violent, peaceful or otherwise. The peaceful turned violent Black Lives Matter protests, the desperation and anger of the unemployed during the Great Depression, The Homestead Strike of 1892. All of these events have one thing in common: anger at unjustified circumstances led these people to argue against the oppression. However, in the face of such violence, how is anything going to be heard or considered? Do you think that violence is an effective way to gain attention to a cause? Both a Trump supporter and Syrian Muslim were hurt during this event, do you think whatever message that was being promoted got through or was ruined by the violence?  There was some controversy concerning the speech as people petitioned the event, but were undermined by the chancellor claiming free speech. Do you think this catastrophe could have been prevented? Is free speech safe if it makes others feel unsafe?

Thursday, February 2, 2017


Image result for a wall

According to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the wall dividing the U.S. and Mexico will be completed in about two years, another instance of Trump sticking by one of his campaign promises. With economic and diplomatic relations on the line, I believe that this may not be the best course of action in tackling illegal immigration.  People who want to go into America WILL always find a way to get in, albeit illegitimately or not.  So if the wall does not do a good job, then that money and energy would be wasted.  Along with Trump's plan to take a hard stand against illegals by promoting deportation, this reminds me the era of Great Depression, in which Mexican workers were subject to expulsion in an effort to put Americans first.  With the corruption of Mexican politicians and the wealth inequality present in the economics, do we really believe that illegal immigration will ever be 0?