Category Archives: News/Op-Ed

News/Op-Ed: CNN & New York Times Co-Sponsor Democratic Debate Featuring Twelve Candidates

by Tim Levine, Executive Editor

On Tuesday night, twelve candidates packed the stage as the largest group ever to participate in a United States presidential debate. 

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This most recently anticipated installment of the Democratic Presidential Primary was co-hosted by CNN and The New York Times in Westerville, Ohio over the course of three hours.

The candidates on stage included frontrunners like former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as second and third tier candidates like Senator Kamala Harris, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Senator Cory Booker, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and billionaire Tom Steyer. Both Gabbard and Steyer did not meet the requirements for September but qualified for this debate.

With the size of the debate, it made it harder for candidates to get their message across, but one theme was certain throughout and that was attacking the new primary frontrunner Elizabeth Warren, who has begun to edge out former Vice President Biden in some recent polls.

While many polls still predict Biden as the frontrunner, to the candidates on stage, it seemed as though Warren is leading in their minds and candidates felt that attacking her policies could help bolster their poll numbers. Amy Klobuchar attacked Warren on her Medicare-for-all plan, which she deemed too much of a “pipe-dream” that would cut many American’s private insurance plans. Pete Buttigieg also attacked Warren on this issue specifically her refusal to give a number to how much her plan would cost.

While Warren was attacked by Klobuchar and Buttigieg, she was also attacked for her wealth-tax proposal by Andrew Yang. Yang had a strong performance in the debate, countering Warren’s proposal by mentioning that many of the EU’s wealth-tax laws have been repealed, while the value-added tax remains extremely successful, a central component to Yang’s plan.

Yang also continued to bring automation to the forefront, even having Tulsi Gabbard agree with him directly on the issue. This discussion on automation has been brought to the forefront with Yang and, even with his short speaking time, had the biggest impact on the debate.

As far the the low-tier candidate go, Congresswoman Gabbard also had a strong presence on the debate stage, going head to head with Buttigieg on Trump’s withdrawal on troops in Syria and her continued anti-war rhetoric. However, many other candidates seemed to have made little impact on the stage, with their presence scarcely known.

Senator Booker, businessman Steyer and former Housing Secretary Castro all had rather lackluster performances that could send their campaigns a sign that there can’t really be a path moving forward. Biden’s performance was rather weak for a front-runner candidate, which has been a consistent critique of his candidacy.

He did have good points against Senator Warren when it came to bills he helped pass, but his defense of Hunter Biden and attack of Trump did not seem to be conclusive enough to hinder any doubt that Trump has brought up in regards to his son’s presence on foreign boards.

Overall, the debate featured much more concentrated arguments between candidates, even with the crowded stage of twelve, and now only eight candidates have qualified so far for the November debate, so expect the field to narrow slightly.

News/Op-Ed: President Trump Faces Impeachment Proceedings

by Tim Levine, Executive Editor

On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. While impeachment is a charge of misconduct made against the president, this is simply an inquiry, which is the first step, where lawmakers investigate if any crime was committed. 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses the nation to announce a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Erin Schaff/New York Times)

Only two presidents have been impeached in American history, and none have been removed from office. However, this inquiry brings the possibility of a third being added to that list in what could be a long and arduous process.

The impeachment inquiry primarily stems from a call the president had with Ukraine, which Democrats believe contained the President attempting to abuse his power to help his reelection campaign by allegedly bribing the Ukrainian president to investigate his potential general election opponent, former-Vice President Joe Biden. This came to light through a whistleblower complaint. If true, this would be an impeachable offense and current efforts to subpoena witnesses and gather testimonies are ongoing.

Public opinion is beginning to swing in favor of impeachment, as more information has been announced. When the Ukraine allegations were just being announced, 57 percent of Americans did not support impeachment, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

However when a redacted version of the Whistleblower complaint came to light, a new CBS News-YouGov poll published on September 29th “found that more than half of Americans, 55 percent, approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into Trump,” according to an article in the Washington Post.

While this impeachment process is currently happening, it is important to know what the full process may look like. During the inquiry, if insufficient evidence is found, Trump would simply just remain in office. If evidence is found “of significant wrongdoing,” the House would vote on articles of impeachment, according to reporting by the BBC.

At this moment, at least 224 House democrats are in favor of impeaching and only 218 are needed for the house to pass something, according to the Washington Post.

If a simple majority in the House (51%) was to vote in favor of impeachment, Trump becomes impeached but not convicted, and a trial would begin in the Senate. So even if Trump was to be impeached in the House, the president would still be able to remain in office and the only way to be removed would be a supermajority vote in the Senate. This is highly unlikely, however, as the Senate is currently controlled by the Republicans and so far none have shown support for his impeachment.

This process will be as long or as short as Congress deems necessary, but if the past is any indicator, it should drag on for a few months. However, with the election looming, Democrats like House Speaker Pelosi feel the need to move quickly, as their political momentum may drop the closer the election draws nearer.

News/Op-Ed: School Shootings Reveal Striking Cold War Parallels

by Joaquin Medrano, Contributing Writer

Societies often repeat history to the alarm of the general population, and it is vital that we look back and evaluate past lessons.

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In the 1950s at the height of the Cold War, people were scared of bombings by the USSR, starting a new fear and a new trend among American families: Fallout shelters. These shelters served as a way for Americans to feel safe in the case of nuclear warfare, a method that wasn’t necessarily effective.

This history can be instructional to modern societies in showing how fast we are changing for the worst. In the last 10 years, school shootings have been on the rise, thus increasing the fear among Americans. These shootings have required many schools to prepare students and teachers for a possible tragedy. Many schools have trained teachers to deal with the situations, while other schools have drills, not dissimilar to “drop drills” held in school during the Cold War.

Going to school with the fear of a possible attack is not right, and we as Americans should attack the problem before it takes more precious life.

The current president, Donald J. Trump, blames video games for the rise of violence causing shootings in the US.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” said Trump in front of the press in August after a string of high profile mass shootings in the Summer.

While the president blames video games fully for the increase of violence, he ignores the fact that the country still has no universal background checks for obtaining firearms, meaning not everything is being done to stop these guns from getting in the wrong hands. This is mind-boggling given the widespread bi-partisan support for the legislation shown in public opinion polls, with those supporting universal background checks hovering consistently between eighty and ninety percent, no doubt statistically significant in a time where Americans seemingly cannot agree on anything.

Most schools historically have had drills for natural disasters, something that cannot be prevented, however, this could be the first major human-caused event alarming schools since the Cold War.

This situation not only affects the youth, but our culture as a whole, as it reflects our morals and our safety. One never knows when and where the next shooting could occur. It could be at a school or any other public space.

The fact that as a community we think about the next shooting happening is alarming. It means that we have moved backward into a since forgotten Cold War mentality. The only difference is that the enemy is from our community, not a hostile foreign power.

A kid should not have to worry about the future, especially an existential threat to it. A kid should enjoy and cherish good memories for life without the constant specter of violence.

 

News/Op-Ed: Candidate Andrew Yang’s Campaign Stunt Might Run Into Legal Trouble

by Tim Levine, Executive Editor

One of the biggest moments of the last Democratic debate came from Andrew Yang’s opening statement, in which he announced an unprecedented move to give ten people $1,000 a month for a year. 

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The stunt is an attempt to garner popularity and promote the candidates flagship policy proposal, The Freedom Dividend, which would give every adult American $1000 a month for personal use. Yang plans to raffle off these ten entrants from his list of over 450,000 entrants who have signed up for the promotion. While it is an exciting idea and one that is unique to the political world, there are still many questioning the legality of it.

The $120,000 necessary for the contest “will be financed by campaign donations from supporters,” according to CNN. This has garnered the attention of some campaign experts who have brought up that this campaign stunt is in possible violation of federal law that inhibits converting campaign funds to personal use.

In an interview with CNN, Adav Noti, a former Federal Election Commission (FEC) lawyer, believes that Yang’s team interprets the law as that they can’t use campaign money for his bills. However, he says that the law prohibits anyone from using campaign money for personal use.

“Although it’s hard to say with 100% certainty until we know the details of the payouts, on its face Yang’s proposal to use campaign money to help pay the day-to-day expenses of selected people appears to violate the law,” Noti told CNN.

Even despite these concerns, Yang remains confident in the legality of his contest, mentioning on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he had “a team of lawyers who signed off on it. We’re sure it’s perfectly legal.” Yang also added the hypocrisy that “nobody would blink an eye” if millions were spent on consultants and a “small army of canvassers,” but the fact that this money is going back to the people is what is raising questions.

Whether the contest is legal or not, a decision is unlikely to be made for quite some time. The FEC who rules on cases such as these has lost its power to make decisions with the resignation of former Chairman Matthew Petersen. This leaves the FEC with just three members and they need “at least four members to take significant action,” according to CNN.

Outside of this question of legality, Yang believes this contest will provide data into how Americans would use this money, and campaign manager Zach Graumann believes that the stories it will create will help the campaign moving forward.

“The campaign is excited to work together with our supporters to help create more stories about what the Freedom Dividend means for American families. It will enable and empower citizens to pay their bills, switch jobs, take care of loved ones, and plan for the future,” said Graumann in a news release.

While no definite conclusion has been made, if legal, this would set a new precedent for campaigns moving forward and create a new path forward for the candidates of the future.

News/OP-ED: Dangerous Rise In Vaping Has Caused Eight Deaths

by Joshua Lucero

There have been a reported 450 possible medical cases related to use of nicotine Electronic-cigarettes, or E-cigs, as well as black market cannabis vaping, including as many as eight deaths, across 33 states, including newly reported deaths in California, Indiana and Minnesota.

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The main causes of these cases are certain lung illnesses that have been connected to vaping in the last three months.

“Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in,” according to Fox News.

According to Jacob Bordoovsky, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine, this means chemical additives are altering either cannabis cartridges, particularly those that were obtained from black market trade, or E-nicotine cartridges with synthetic chemicals like vitamin E acetate.

It is important to note: these incidents have been tied to BOTH the use of nicotine and cannabis devices, especially those obtained by underage users illegally. The primary reason behind these sudden deaths are the number of black-market cannabis cartridges and nicotine devices being sold from outside suppliers, rather than regulated government-issued distributors.

Currently, eight people have died from related lung failure, and this number will, unfortunately, likely be on the rise. There is no current way to stop this phenomenon from happening from a legal standpoint. Though there are supposed regulations to stop vapes getting in the hands of underage youth, the majority of the time this epidemic impacts youth that have recently become of legal smoking age.

The youth have been the main victims because of legalization issues. Currently, cannabis is legal in California, Alaska, Nevada, Organ, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. Many of these states have up-to-code products that go through regulations. The main incidents are teens from other states who have made cannabis illegal, but illness can still happen from legal dispensaries.

However, it’s the black market boom that is most significant, where illegal distributors load cannabis cartridges with dangerous additives, like synthetic vitamin E acetate and other chemicals, which are similar to paint thinner. The main victims of these issues are usually around the age of 19. 

There is no way to completely eradicate this issue as a society without more accountability among distributors and government regulators, but as a school, Vice Principal Mr. Adan Jaramillo hopes to take steps in the right direction and allow students to understand all of the information surrounding these products “to formally educate the students and show why this is bad, to show what the effects on the body,” according to Mr. Jaramillo.

He believes the issues faced with the youth vaping should not be an immediate suspension or expulsion, but there should be a way to make the student understand why this is a serious health risk. Only in circumstances “when students have vaped or distributed with another person on campus” does Mr. Jaramillo believe suspension would be necessary.

Students are taking notice of their at-risk exposure to cannabis and nicotine from information outlets, such as Instagram, Twitter and others. Students have been exposed to the E-cig trend for quite some time now, but the only thing that has worked on stopping this issue is the exact facts that have been propagated over social media. 

In the past years, there has been a rise in E-cigarette users.  These devices are constructed in many different ways, with the market currently holding around 460 different e-cigarette brands. These devices are constructed to look like cigars, pipes, traditional vape pens or even USB-like devices.

However, they all contain some of the common effects of nicotine addiction. Without nicotine, people would not be smoking any tobacco products today. In tobacco products, there are countless chemicals that are orchestrated in the process of making these E-juice products. Some of these products that are flavored with “cinnamon, vanilla and cherry flavors react with propylene glycol, the main ingredient in many vape juices, to create entirely new chemicals,” according to a study published in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

This means that these flavoring additives, even those not found in black market products like vitamin E acetate, have a possibility to irritate lungs over the long-term. As such, doctors caution consumers to stop using electronic devices altogether, unless they are being used to wean addicts off traditional cigarettes.

News/Op-ed: Wide Field Narrowing Ahead of Third Democratic Debate

by Tim Levine, Executive Editor

While we are over a year away from the 2020 election and still a few months from the primaries, the Democratic race for the nominee is already beginning to pick up steam. Tonight ten candidates will face off on ABC for the third Democratic presidential primary debate.

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These candidates include front runner Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Senator Cory Booker, Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. Although there are another ten candidates still running, with the August 28th polling deadline, the remaining ten candidates have missed the cutoff.

With the crowded stage of ten candidates going on one night, the debate will last for three hours and only include an opening statement, one minute and 15 seconds will be allotted for responding to questions from moderators, and 45 seconds for further follow-up questions and rebuttals.

Following the CNN Town Hall on climate change, the issue should become a leading one in this upcoming debate. While each candidate’s views are fairly similar, there are some key differences when it comes to specific plans, like the use of nuclear energy as an example.

The destruction that Hurricane Dorian has caused recently should also come to the forefront as a topic for the candidates to discuss as well. Other issues that should continue to be debated are healthcare, immigration and gun control. While candidates have discussed these issues in previous debates, the ever-increasing coverage of ICE raids in immigration and the increase in mass shootings should give these issues continued relevance.

The debate should also continue to reflect party divisions between more moderate democrats, such as Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg, to more progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The moderate vs. progressive theme should become more prominent when Warren and Biden clash specifically, as the one and two candidates in the poll, they have never been on the same debate stage until now.

Candidates, such as Yang, Booker, Klobuchar, O’Rourke and Castro, polling in the 1 to 3 percent range, have a huge opportunity at this debate and one that they have to take advantage of in order to break out and push their polling numbers.

One candidate in particular who is looking to break from this pack is Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur who has been gaining momentum online with his innovative ideas on automation and his universal basic income plan. Andrew Yang should plan to become more vocal in this debate, as he has experienced the least amount of talking time even though he is polling in sixth place. Yang may also go after Bernie Sanders, as he has publicly opposed the idea of Yang’s “Freedom Dividend,” a plan for a twelve thousand dollar Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all Americans, and instead is pushing for a Federal Jobs Guarantee program.

This debate should also paint a clearer picture of the race going forward and be a sign for the other ten candidates to dropout. While Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard are one poll away from the October debates, other candidates should realize they can’t gain momentum without this critical media attention.

News/OP-ED: Mass Shootings Rack Nation As Bosco Goes Further to Keep Students Safe

by Joshua Lucero

Mass shootings have become increasingly a part of our society, particularly those committed on school campuses by students.

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In 2019, shootings have had a major presence in our news and social media with new shootings being reported more frequently than in prior years. In 2019 alone, these tragedies have increased in number with a total of 297 shootings from January to August, the total number killed was 335 with 1219 wounded.

On August 30th at a high school football game in Alabama, Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, a 17-year-old child was arrested for shooting and injuring 10 other children. That evening those 10 innocent lives were going to their high school football game just like any other Brave would go to support their fellow classmates on the field. The suspect would then turn himself in the next day being faced with nine counts of attempted murder, according to NPR. 

Riley Howell, Reed Parlier, Joshua Ayers and Emily Houpt are the few who were affected by the shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Riley Howell was shot and killed after charging the armed gunman, former student Trystan Terrell, taking a bullet to the torso which did not stop Howell from attempting to disarm the gunman. He would be shot two more times, the final shot coming at “point-blank range into his head,” according to the New York Times. The gunman killed Reed Parlier and wounded four other students in a classroom filled with many students.

Many times we ask why this happened? We ask how did he acquire this weapon? The suspect purchased his handgun, with a large amount of ammunition, legally. Even with the supposed “regulations” of gun laws, Trystan Terrell killed two young innocent adults. 

Patrick Crusis, 21, who legally was able to have an “open carry” firearm in El Paso, Texas committed a mass shooting in Walmart with people who “ranged in age from two years old to 82,” according to ABC News. A gun that was similar to an AK-47 killed 20 and injured 26 more. Crusius likely will face hate crimes and federal firearms charges.

These recurrences keep on happening, but what is being done? The children, the youth, the adults have shown time and time again that there will always be a way to murder and cause pain to others. In many cases, it is the people we least expect, who need dyer help.

Children, teens, and young adults face challenges throughout school or life. It is inevitable. For many cases, a shooter has reasons behind their actions. These do not justify these horrendous acts, but according to a study by Alfred University, there is a reason for why they commit these crimes. 

Ranking at the top is wanting to get back at people who hurt them with 87% , following with 86% who similarly say they were bullied and 62% of people not valuing their lives.  

What would society do to help? The tough answer that no one wants to hear is there is nothing you can do. There are not enough people in the world who can stop these crises from happening. These events are uncontrollable, even if there are gun laws put into place you can not control a person’s actions. 

Not being able to end this crisis is not the same as creating precautions for it. East High School in Anchorage, Alaska took a necessary step for keeping their youth safe. A drill was performed by a police officer firing blanks from a handgun to simulate an active shooter. “The purpose of the training was to teach students what gunfire would likely sound like in the hallways in a real active shooter situation,” according to the Washington Examiner. 

Shootings are a tragedy that is the new “norm” in America. It was one of the hardest things to see, but it is even worse when shootings happen and no one talks about them. You cannot prevent these tragedies from happening without taking free will out of the equation.

These shootings have also been brought to St. John Bosco’s attention, as addressing these tragedies both in a cathartic way and ways that are practical is at the center of our school’s mission. Bosco is beginning to take the necessary precautions to keep the safety of the students and faculty a major priority. 

One is to make it easier for the staff and cameras to identify students on campus. Regarding a situation that happened in New Mexico, a former student disguised himself with a hoodie and sneaked onto campus. He would then kill two students and be stopped by a janitor.

To enforce a no hoodie policy helps “visibly track [potential suspects] on camera,” said Vice Principal Mr. Adan Jaramillo. This makes it easier for situations like this to be solved quickly when they occur, or even prevented when suspicious and unverified people are seen on school surveillance. 

Bosco is also looking into security features for the doors that are opened to the public when a visitor would first enter Bosco. These doors would have a simple buzz implemented that lets the office workers know who is coming in. Currently, when a visitor comes, Bosco runs the ID, and if they are flagged for whatever reason, they cannot enter the school.

Ish, Bosco’s security guard, is also going to extensive training through the ALICE Program, which specializes in active shooter response training. 

For more physical features that help defend the students, there have been talks about increased fencing, which would wrap around the back of the 300 building facing the street. Lastly, Bosco is attempting to raise the fences around the school. However, since Bosco is also a residency, the City of Bellflower will make it difficult for such changes to occur.

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