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February 2018

The Last Fire Drill

in Gun Control by

“Sheesh. I just want this day to be over,” I muttered to myself while walking into my last period math class. The vectors on the board seemed to mock me as I found my seat. Five minutes into the lecture, a screeching noise emitted from the walls. A fire drill — my saving grace. Although I thought it was strange, considering we had a fire drill the day before, I didn’t ask questions. As my class walked outside, I couldn’t help but think that some seraphic being was watching over me. While my class meandered around, I noticed that this drill lasted much longer than usual. Eventually, my teacher discovered a glitch in the fire drill system causing the false alarm, and everyone went back inside. Be it a glitch or a real fire, I appreciated the unexpected break in my exhausting school day. Once I got back to my house, my false fire drill euphoria quickly faded when my phone buzzed with the news headline — My School Is Getting Shot Up.

While school shootings have somehow become a normality in today’s society, this one piqued my interest. As I delved deeper and deeper into the story, the narrative terrified me more and more.

The news reported that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, went back to the school he was expelled from with an AR-15 in a soft black case.  He “[walked] purposefully” toward a particular building, gun drawn, and pulled the fire alarm. There were only 10 minutes left of the school day — why would a fire drill occur? This thought, coupled with the fact that there had already been another false alarm previously that day, caused confused students to scurry out of their classrooms, right into the sight of Cruz’s reticle. Seventeen lives were lost. From now on, students will fear fire drills.  They will feel unsafe during assemblies. Celebratory public gatherings will now be considered easy targets for a killer.

Later that day, an article read that an eight-year-old girl asked her parents for new shoes because her light up Sketchers would give her location away in a shooting.  An eight-year-old? We shouldn’t live in a world where we fear that our shoes, often the only form of self-expression in a school with a uniform, will be the difference between life and death.

Why are AR-15 rifles legal in the first place? No matter their recreational appeal, they are not worth the lives of children. It’s appalling that a nineteen-year-old can’t buy a beer, can’t buy a handgun, but can buy a semi-automatic rifle. Nikolas Cruz legally bought his rifle.

While many people may squabble over what to do about controlling guns, all I ask is that we DO something. Ban semi-automatic rifles, make background checks more thorough, make obtaining a gun more challenging: I don’t care what the fix is, all I care about is that we TRY to find a solution.  

This isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a human issue. We need to strive to make real change. While this may seem like a naive, idealistic pipe dream, each of us can take small steps to enact change. It is our duty, not only as Americans, but as human beings, to try and save lives.  

 

Jack Trent

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/18/us/parkland-florida-school-shooting-accounts/index.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/us-gun-laws-teenagers-ar-15-assault-rifle-handgun-2018-2
http://www.businessinsider.com/florida-shooter-nikolas-cruz-bought-ar-15-legally-2018-2

 

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.

#ReleaseTheMemo

in Contemporary Politics/Foreign Policy/Political Issues by

Republican congressman Devin Nunes recently released a new ‘bombshell’ memo — one written by the Republicans of the House Intelligence Committee. After an announcement that a draft of the memo had been completed, House Republicans embarked on a media circuit, appearing on all sorts of news shows to build anticipation for the ‘shocking’ memo. Within a few days, #ReleaseTheMemo was trending on Twitter (with the help of Russian twitter-bots).  Meanwhile, House Democrats argued that the memo was filled with factual inaccuracies, so they wrote a memo of their own. Unsurprisingly, the Republican-controlled House voted to send their memo to President Trump for declassification, and they blocked the Democratic memo from being sent to President Trump.

Despite being warned not to release their memo by House Democrats, the Trump appointed head of the FBI, Senate Republicans and Democrats, and the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice, the memo was released a few days ago by President Trump and the House Intelligence Committee. The memo claimed that the Clinton campaign helped provide a FISA court with evidence against Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, allowing the FBI to extend their surveillance on Mr. Page. Notably, Carter Page had been under FBI surveillance for three years prior to joining the Trump campaign due to his (surprise!) Russian connections.  Even if the accusations in the memo are true, none of them are illegal. The memo, essentially, is just a shabby attempt of weaponizing intelligence.

However, the various reactions to the memo itself were very telling. The FBI called the memo “extraordinarily reckless.” Senator John McCain, a patriot and war-hero, claimed that “we are doing Putin’s job for him.” Former FBI Director James Comey called the memo “dishonest and misleading.” Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer called the memo “partisan and misleading.” Honorable people across the political spectrum seemed to agree that the memo was merely a political hit-job on the FBI.

Republican pundits, on the other hand, had a different reaction to the memo. Former Trump White House Staffer and possible Nazi Sebastian Gorka claimed that the memo was “100 times bigger” than what started the Revolutionary War. Sean Hannity described the memo as “Watergate times a thousand” and the “shredding of the Constitution.” Sean Hannity then proceeded to call for Robert Mueller’s unrelated investigation of President Trump to be immediately shut down. Perhaps this reveals the true intentions of this underwhelming issue. It appears that the Republicans are actively trying to discredit the FBI and attempting to delegitimize the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Many Republicans claim that the Russia investigation is nothing but a witch hunt against President Trump’s campaign. It’s hard to blame them — this is reiterated in practically every show on FOX News. Sean Hannity said a few days ago that the investigation has “no evidence.” This is demonstrably false. The investigation has already charged multiple people with crimes. Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, was charged with lying to the FBI and is pleading GUILTY. George Papadopoulos, Trump’s foreign policy advisor, is also pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. This investigation can’t be considered a nothingburger if the accused parties have admitted to being guilty! It’s truly mind-boggling that anyone can continue to cast this investigation as a baseless attack on Trump when a Republican, Robert Mueller, is conducting the investigation and multiple people have pleaded guilty to committing crimes.

This memo does nothing to answer any of the lingering questions between possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. President Trump, in a tweet where he misused the word ‘there,’ argued that the memo completely vindicated him. In reality, all the memo did was give the President Trump and the Republicans a way to discredit the FBI.

Personally, I believe the men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect our country by working for the FBI deserve the utmost respect from our President and elected officials. Any attempt to tarnish the pristine reputation of the FBI is an attempt to obstruct the very idea of American democracy. I fear John McCain is right — we’re doing Putin’s job for him. I’m just worried some of us are doing it purposefully.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a13122012/robert-mueller-russia-investigation-charges/
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/us/politics/trump-fbi-memo.html
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02/03/nunes-fisa-memo-sparks-reactions-from-politicians.html

Concussions: The Hard Hitting Impact They Have

in Science & Technology by

The stadium erupts.  Fans are yelling in support, the guys next to you are fist bumping, and the cheerleaders are dancing and shouting.  Your team’s safety just leveled the opposing team’s wide receiver, and you couldn’t be happier.  While big plays like this are adrenaline pumping and rack up millions of views on youtube, it’s the allure to disaster that draws the viewer in.  Few people think about the wide receiver on the ground, helmet off, being checked out by the medical staff.  Everyone remembers the safety who put him there.  These types of plays, and football’s nature of hard hits and violent impacts, are why many parents are not allowing their kids to play youth football.  A recent study researched by Boston University proved that kids who began play tackle football after the age of 12 had significantly fewer cognitive and behavioral problems than those who began playing before 12.  The human brain rapidly develops between the ages of 10 and 12, and this is the impetus for a movement many scientists are pushing for: no tackle football until a child is in their teenage years.  Parents, coaches, and leagues are starting to take notice.  Pop Warner, the biggest youth football league in the country, has reduced contact in practice, changed game rules, and even banned kickoffs, one of the most dangerous and violent aspects of the game.  It is estimated that children from 9-12 playing tackle football can sustain 240-585 hits to the head each season.  While new CTE data is coming out frequently, we all know one thing: football is bad for your brain.  And yes, precautions have been taken to make football safer, players get ejected for targeting and rules about when and who to block have changed, there is still a brain injury problem ominously hanging around the sport of football.  Am I saying we should stop playing football? Absolutely not.  All I am saying is that more work needs to be done to protect our players on the field, so they can live a life off the field.  This could be done with improved helmets, more flag football being played while young, or new scientific breakthroughs.  Whatever the fix may be, we need to find it soon. Until then, we should probably stop celebrating the bone crunching hits and try to solve our concussion conundrum.  

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/sports/football/tackle-football-brain-youth.html
https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/25/health/cte-nfl-players-brains-study/index.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtCgquOsXeo
Graphic Design by Jack Trent
Product of Errant Publishing Co.

Who can go to a Women’s March?

in Gender Issues/Political Issues by

The mission of a woman’s march is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. The nature of a women’s march is naturally progressive and supports liberal beliefs. The national Women’s March website outlines the organization’s core principles to be women’s freedom from violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, workers rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice. These ideas tend to counter the opinions of President Donald Trump and many of his Republican supporters. After attending the Women’s March in downtown Houston, I noticed that the message endorsed by marchers and atmosphere amongst attendees was unquestionably anti-Trump. Amongst women crying for Trump’s impeachment, I couldn’t help but wonder whether there were ANY conservative women in the crowd, or does attending a women’s march require you to support liberal beliefs? Referencing the national Woman’s March mission statement, their marches are “committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.” The term “systems of oppression” can be interpreted in many ways, but it’s meaning makes all the difference. A liberal might equate Donald Trump’s presidency to a system of oppression, but a conservative would naturally counter that statement. Regardless of where you attend a Women’s March, there is continuity in the language and opinions of marchers. By extension, individuals are given the impression that to fight for women’s equality at a woman’s march, you have to be a liberal. Regardless of my own political opinions, I believe that a woman’s march should welcome ALL women. Since when does believing in women’s equality make you a liberal?

In 1913, women were fighting for women’s suffrage at the first women’s march on Washington. Now, in 2018, these marches have turned into a platform to support liberal beliefs which have no direct relation to the rights of women. However, that is not to say that a modern women’s march has been reduced to an anti-Trump protest. These marches are not centered on Trump himself, rather the rights which marchers believe he threatens. Still, the political climate of these marches has restricted those who can attend. A woman cannot simply march to celebrate the progress of gender equality and fight for continued reforms; a woman in attendance must align herself with liberal perspectives to garner “social change”. I cannot speak to whether this shift has more positive or negative implications. However, all women should be safe to attend these marches without having to question their stance on immigration rights or climate change. Not to say there is no place for these arguments, but do they belong at a march for women’s rights? The primary focus of a woman’s march should be to rally for the equality, safety, and respect of women alone.

Graphic Design by Frederique Fyhr
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.womensmarch.com/

 

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