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David Morales

David Morales’ professional background includes work as a writer, journalist, musician, and in human services. He has a BS in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and has a deep empathy for the creative process, establishing relationships with a wide range of media sources including publishing houses, editors, and authors.

The Oregon federal building standoff and white supremacy

What does the Oregon federal building standoff really indicate?

The Oregon federal building standoff reveals an institutionally perpetuated process of exploitation that sustains a system of wealth, power, and privilege in our society. This system maintains that European immigrants are superior, are entitled to all material resources and should dominate and rule society. The standoff at the secluded federal building near Burns, Oregon is the latest example of how domestic terrorism is fueled by white supremacy.

On January 2, 2016, dozens of armed white militants occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in protest of the conviction of two ranchers charged with arson. The Oregon federal building standoff militants demand the release of two ranchers and that the surrounding federal lands cede local control. The ranchers were sentenced twice for their arson crimes under the provision of a law called the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The militants claim that these ranchers have been oppressed by the federal government and hope to draw attention to their cause.  

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The charges in question stem from a pair or fires on federal land near their ranch. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, the first fire was reportedly set in 2001 to cover up evidence of illegal deer poaching. The fire burned 139 acres. The second was reportedly set in 2006 to protect the ranch from an approaching wildfire, stated Tim Dickinson. The first federal judge to handle the case ruled that the sentence was too harsh and gave the pair a lighter sentence, which they served. However, the U.S. attorney in the case challenged the ruling and the federal government took the rare step of appealing the sentence adding to the ongoing tensions between the federal government and the Western ranchers.

These tensions have developed from a 20-year legal dispute over unpaid grazing fees on federally owned land. In 2014, an armed standoff between supporters of Cliven Bundy and the federal Bureau of Land Management sparked controversy when 145,604 acres of federal land in Clark County Nevada were temporarily closed for the removal of trespass cattle. Bundy currently owes the federal government more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees and fines. Now his sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are responsible for leading the militant standoff in Oregon.

With the armed occupation of the federal wildlife refuge in Oregon approaching its thirteenth day, a local Native American tribe discussed the militant groups sense of entitlement to the land. The Burns Paiute Tribal Chairperson Charlotte Rodrique said that the militants are “desecrating sacred property” and that the wildlife refuge is Paiute ancestral land. She denounced the militants and demanded that they leave, stated NPR reporter Merrit Kennedy. “You know, who are the rightful owners?” said Rodrique. “It just really rubs me the wrong way that we have a bunch of misinformed people in here — they’re not the original owners.”

Rodrique went on to explain the history of tribal treaty law and the importance of respecting and maintaining those laws. “In 1868, the tribe signed a treaty with the federal government that requires the government to protect natives’ safety. According to the tribe, the federal government promised to prosecute ‘any crime or injury perpetrated by any white man upon the Indians.’ She emphasized with great importance that the tribe never gave up rights to the land and actively works with the federal government to ensure its protection.

As the Oregon federal building standoff continues, it is clear that there are many mixed opinions about the armed occupation. An understanding of how the Oregon militants are able to justify their actions in the pursuit of their political agenda may be an essential factor in determining a peaceful resolution. In the meantime, the Oregon militant standoff continues their display of supremacy as the group remains adamant toward their position of entitlement.  

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Mizzou students forced resignation of the president and chancellor

Protests resulted in the resignation of the president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin

Students at the University of Missouri sparked change when Mizzou students forced resignation of the president and chancellor. Ongoing student protests resulted in the resignations of the president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on Monday, Nov. 9. Administrative inaction to racial slurs and other racially motivated incidences on campus prompted the protests. The resignations come after a threat of a boycott by the Missouri football team. About 30 black members of the Missouri Tigers football team posted a tweet stating that they wouldn’t play until Wolfe resigned due to a graduate student named Jonathan Butler who staged a 7-day hungry strike. By Sunday, more members of the team and head coach Gary Pinkel publicly supported the players.

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African-American students and black student leaders have expressed their disapproval of administrative inaction regarding racially motivated incidences on campus. In September, Student Government President Payton Head posted concerns on Facebook about being exposed to racism on campus. In the following weeks, the Legion of Black Collegians (Mizzou’s Black Student Government) wrote a letter detailing members’ experiences of racism on campus. Then on Oct. 10, a group of black students blocked the Mizzou homecoming parade. They stopped right in front of Wolfe as he waved to the parade and began speaking about the history of institutional racism at the University of Missouri.

But it wasn’t until Butler decided to go on a hunger strike, calling for Wolfe’s resignation, that the president finally addressed the altercation. Wolfe issued a statement on Nov. 6 apologizing for ignoring the students. “I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car,” Wolfe said. He went on to praise Butler’s actions and hoped that this would bring about a resolution for change.

Currently tensions on the University of Missouri campus are high. This was illustrated late Tuesday night after a journalist, Tim Tai, stood his ground and asserted his right to take pictures of a campus protest. Tai was met with resistance from a mob of students and faculty members when a professor, Melissa Click, called for “muscle” to remove the journalist from the protest site. Because of this incident, Click resigned her courtesy appointment with the journalism school but remains an assistant professor at the university.

As the University of Missouri begins to reassess their community standard in regards to racism and the freedom of expression, it is only the beginning of the fight. Racial tensions in Missouri have elevated due to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. However, due to the resignations some progress has been made. Student concerns with persistent incidences of racism with nothing done to protect them on campus are now being addressed as these controversies drew the attention of major donors. But at the University of Missouri the power and voice of a few made a profound change and was heard all across the nation. 

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The first South Carolina Democratic presidential forum

The ‘First in the South’ forum kicked off on November 6

The first South Carolina Democratic presidential forum furnished an intimate arena compared to previous debates. The candidates didn’t share a stage, instead, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow structured the first South Carolina Democratic presidential forum in a series of one-on-one questions. The Democratic forum in South Carolina featured Hillary Clinton and her two challengers Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

In February’s South Carolina presidential primary, Clinton is the projected winner, polling 71 percent support among likely Democratic voters according to a Winthrop Poll released Wednesday, November 4. Sanders followed with 15 percent and O’Malley with 2 percent. As the polls favored Clinton heading into the South Carolina Democratic forum, both Sanders and O’Malley were quick to criticize the front-runner. They challenged her environmental position, her relationship with Wall Street and her support in the recent decision to deploy troops in Syria to aide against ISIS.

Maddow started each interview with a series of well-prepared and revealing questions. O’Malley took the stage first as the discussion quickly moved to President Obama’s rejection of Keystone. O’Malley criticized Clinton, claiming she had opposed the Keystone XL pipeline until it became politically expedient. Maddow rebutted and reminded him that polling favored Keystone. O’Malley also took time to talk about issues relevant to South Carolina in the past year and the need for bi-partisanship. “Our country needs new leadership in order to move out of these divided times,” said O’Malley. He went on to discuss the core differences between his economic platform and Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, claiming that he was once a member of the independent party and not “a lifelong Democrat.”

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Bernie Sanders outlined his policy differences between Clinton while criticizing the media for trying to provoke controversy among the candidates. However, Sanders indirectly attacked Clinton on a number of issues. Sanders commented about Clinton’s commitment to environmental protections, adopting campaign finance reform and her views regarding foreign policy. “Now to me, as opposed to maybe some other unnamed candidates, the issue of Keystone was kind of a no-brainer,” Sanders said, pointing out that he opposed Keystone since day one.

Sanders took the opportunity during the South Carolina Democratic presidential forum to acknowledge his trailing numbers in the polls against the front-runner largely because of his lack of support among African-Americans. “I think I have the economic and social justice agenda now that, once we get the word out, will, in fact, resonate with the African-American community,” he argued. Sanders took the time to mention his involvement in the civil rights movement and his current agenda to raise minimum wage and promoting economic equality.

Clinton was the last to take the stage at the Democratic presidential forum. Maddow began by questioning her ties to Wall Street. Clinton responded by maintaining her campaign message stating that she refused to be swayed by special interests. “Anybody who thinks that they can influence what I will do doesn’t know me very well. And they can actually look and see what I have said and done throughout my career,” Clinton said.

On the subject of capital punishment, she took a more liberal stance compared to her rivals. However, Clinton said it still might be appropriate in certain cases, such as domestic and foreign terrorism. Clinton also commended President Obama on the economy assuring core Democrats that she would continue his work. “I feel very strongly that President Obama doesn’t get the credit he deserves for the great job he’s done,” she said. Clinton went on to explain how, if elected president, she would help the “struggling, surviving and the successful” in America. Clinton’s performance at the South Carolina Democratic presidential forum proved a graceful event as the front-runner continues to maintain a strong lead in the polls.    

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Third round republican presidential debate recap

Where do the presidential candidates stand in the polls?

Nearly a week after the third round of the Republican presidential debate and the first polls indicate that Ben Carson and Donald Trump remain the two front-runners in the third round republican debate recap. Ted Cruz is in third place after his performance at the debate. Cruz took much of the spotlight during the Republican presidential debate setting the theme for the night by taking on the moderators. His responses were thought-out and prepared when he expressed his disapproval for the liberal media. “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. During the Republican presidential debate, Cruz took the opportunity to slam liberals and the mainstream media. His performance elevated his spot in the polls as Cruz proved to be an effective debater.   

As the polls in the Republican Party shift, the Democrats prepare for the second round of their debate. So far, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has continued with few tensions but Sanders has clearly set himself apart. According to polls, with no surprise, Clinton is far ahead of all the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. However, one candidate’s conservatism has drawn a lot of media attention after his past debate performances and is proving to be on the raise.     

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Marco Rubio delivered a strong performance during the Republican presidential debate, tripling his standings in a New Hampshire poll. He is the favorite of 13 percent of likely primary voters in the state. During the debate, the senator from Florida swiftly answered questions regarding his voting absences in the Senate, deflecting attacks from Jeb Bush by focusing on the issues. “The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” Rubio said.

Another moment in the debate that may reflect his raising poll numbers is when Rubio was also confronted with a few character questions. Again, he diverged, “This debate needs to be about the men and women across this country who are struggling on a daily basis to provide for their families a better future that we always said this country is about.” Rubio went on to discuss policies pertaining to his platform while painting an elaborate picture of his own story of success. Rubio confidently answered questions about his personal finances, the economy and immigration, sealing his first Republican presidential debate victory.

The retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson took the lead in the polls despite his controversial comments in the weeks prior to the Republican presidential debate. He did not say much during the debate and ignored criticism about his lack of political insight, keeping to his charismatic and calm demeanor. Both Carson and Trump took criticism for their offensive statements geared toward Muslims. Carson said that, “The U.S. shouldn’t elect a Muslim president” and attacked the LGBT community when he said that prisons are proof being gay is a choice. Trumps statements regarding immigration were also outrageous when he said that Mexico is sending its rapists and criminals to the U.S., calling for a wall along the U.S.- Mexico border. Despite these comments, both Carson and Trump are ranked far ahead of the Republican candidates according to the latest polls.

Trump appeared to be more reserved compared to his last Republican presidential debate performance. During the CNBC Republican presidential debate, Trump refrained from attacking his opponents appealing to some voters who remain skeptical of his brash character. CNBC moderator John Harwood who asked whether his candidacy was “a comic book version of a presidential campaign” noted this. Trump responded passively stating the question was “not very nicely asked” and preceded to plug his proposals.

While the Republicans battle for their spot in the polls the Democrats head into the second round the presidential debates. Clintons lead over Sanders has increased in the past week   by a margin of two to one among primary voters according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. In the new poll, conducted October 25-29, 62 percent of Democrats chose Clinton over Sanders. That is up from Clinton’s 25-point lead indicated by the polls earlier in October, 58 percent to 33 percent. These numbers suggest that Sanders has a lot to improve in the weeks leading to the second round of the Democratic presidential debate. 

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Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders: Clinton came out on top of the democratic presidential debate

In the Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders standoff, Hillary Clinton proved why she is the leading front-runner, delivering a strong, polished performance in the campaign’s first Democratic presidential debate. Clinton spoke with confidence, aired her vision and experience to enforce change, and adeptly answered questions about her core values during the Democratic presidential debate. Clinton used an analogy to describe her own personal challenges and the resilience of America itself as the nation continues to recover from the recession. “The issue is not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up,” said Clinton, who gracefully defended her position on the Trans Pacific Trade deal, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and gay marriage.

Clinton firmly revealed her political stance during the Democratic presidential debate, arguing in favor of paid maternity leave and family medical leave. Clinton, appealing to the social aspects of the party, emphasized woman’s rights. “Republicans don’t mind having big government interfere with a woman’s right to choose, “said Clinton, who spoke out against the Republican Party during the Democratic presidential debate, calling their attacks on Planned Parenthood “typical Republican scare tactics.”

In recent weeks, Clinton has also reached out to minority voters by advocating strong coalition building in support of their platforms. Clinton has met representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement and criticized the current immigration legislation. During the Democratic presidential debate, she challenged Republicans on many social and economic issues; labeling herself a progressive who can get things done. “I am campaigning because I think I have the right combination of what the country needs at this point and I think I can take the fight to the Republicans because we cannot afford a Republican to succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States,” said Clinton.

While Clinton came out on top of the Democratic presidential debate, Bernie Sanders proved to be an effective player, solidifying his second place spot. Sanders made his platform clear during the presidential debate as he railed against corporations and income inequality.

Sanders said, “It is wrong today in a rigged economy that 57% of all new income is going to the top 1%.”

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Sanders stayed on track and made his message clear. He remained consistent about his stand on Wall Street, income inequality, using military force to protect US interest, and his role in passing an upgrade for veteran health care. He even discussed how he would prepare the budget for college education, medical leave, and universal health care, consistent with his anti-corporate, anti-billionaire philosophy calling it “democratic socialism”. “In my view, Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress,” Sanders said.

Sanders targeted Clinton during the Democratic presidential debate and questioned her Wall Street record and Iraq vote. Clinton’s response put him on the defensive, pointing out his lack of support for gun control and his poor standing with minority voters. “The challenge that Sanders faces reaching out to minority voters, who are a vital part of the Democratic Party voting bloc, was underscored by a new CNN poll Monday finding that only 1% of nonwhite voters in the important early voting state of South Carolina favor him,” stated CNN reporter Stephen Collinson. This data suggests what Sanders must improve on to compete with Clinton heading into the second round of the Democratic presidential debate.  

Martin O’Malley came in third place and gained some attention during the debate. O’Malley kept to his strategy and focused on the front-runner Clinton. Both Sanders and O’Malley grilled Clinton over her decision for a no-fly zone in Syria. O’Malley warned it could cause an unwanted clash with Russia operating over the war-torn Middle Eastern nation. Clinton defended her position and said that the United States must stand up to Russia and Putin’s “bullying” and take “more of a leadership position” to help end the war in Syria. Former Rhode Island Senator/Governor Lincoln Chafee and Virginia Senator Jim Webb, for the most part, remained marginal and ineffective.

The Democratic presidential debate clearly brought forth liberal issues to the forefront as voters consider who should be the party’s nominee in the next presidential election. Clinton came out on top of the Democratic Presidential debate, as Sanders remains in second place. Clinton again, through her proven record of accomplishment and expertise, reveals why she remains an effective nominee for the 2016 presidential election.  

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The biggest winners and losers: Round 2 of the Republican presidential debate

Fiorina came out on top

Again, Carly Fiorina came out on top of the Republican presidential debate against leading party front-runner Donald Trump, revealing her poise, expertise, and impassioned platform in opposition to abortion and Planned Parenthood. She expressed her strong conservative values of the future of our nation’s reproductive healthcare. “This is about the character of our nation and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us,” Fiorina said, appealing to the socially conservative base of the party. Fiorina handled Trump with ease, placing him in a defensive position, sternly confronting his statements regarding her personal appearance, when he told Rolling Stone: “Look at that face, would anyone vote for that?” Fiorina noticeably captured the crowd during the presidential debate in response to Trump’s assessments: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Fiorina also challenged his credentials as a global businessperson, strategizing global hotspots and suggesting ways to resolve them.      

Marco Rubio took on Trump from a passive yet powerful approach during the Republican presidential debate. Instead of going on the attack when questioned about the integrity of his voting absence, Rubio focused on his strengths as presidential candidate. “When Trump pointed out Rubio’s voting absences in the Senate, Rubio refused to retort with an attack of his own,” stated CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond. Rubio did however explain how his absences are reflected on his constituents, claiming that both political parties are out of touch with the lives of the American people. Rubio’s perspective on current political policies and national issues along party lines proves why he remains a leader among the GOP elites. 

Jeb Bush highlighted several crucial points during the Republican presidential debate, reestablishing confidence with his supporters. “Bush appeared to come out of the shell of the tortoise he has so heartily embraced as his symbol to give voters a taste of the passion he has struggled to showcase,” stated Jeremy Diamond. Trump accused the previous Bush administration, claiming that their poor diplomatic actions led to the election of President Obama. One of Bush’s best moments in the Republican presidential debate is when he defended his brother’s administration, stating that his actions kept America safe. However, Bush faced harsh criticism for how he handled remarks about his wife’s Mexican decent. CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter claimed that, “the former Florida governor should have been more forceful in demanding an apology from Trump.” Despite this, Bush’s standout moments and improvements on his overall performance in comparison to his first Republican presidential debate, reveals why he remains a competitive contender.   

Trump was held in a defensive position throughout the Republican presidential debate. The front-runner faced attacks from his rivals who obviously came prepared and thirsty for a confrontation. It is clear that Trump left the Republican presidential debate in defeat. He was unable to answer many questions in regards to his foreign policy and dodged statements over his knowledge of various terrorist organizations. CNN reporter Z. Byron Wolf stated that, “the odds of Trump winning the GOP nomination fell 8 percentage points to 12%, according to the Political Prediction Market from CNN and Pivit.” Clearly, during the Republican presidential debate, Trumps stamina and his willingness to engage in policy discussions was tested. Last night, Trump canceled the first event following the Republican presidential debate.   

Much like the first Republican presidential debate, Rand Paul and Trump went at it for a second time. Paul withstood a barrage of attacks from Trump, but failed to address his attributes and strengths as a Republican presidential candidate. Instead, he just pointed out Trumps weaknesses and had very little to say regarding his foreign policy. While spending much of his time attacking Trump, Rand missed many opportunities to convey his libertarian lean.       

Ted Cruz failed to stand out in the second round of the Republican presidential debate. His lack of engagement with the candidates left him faded in the backdrop. Cruz’s false and inaccurate statements regarding the US and Iran nuclear deal, concerning the self-inspections and false accusation regarding military facilities that he claimed were restricted and off-limits, proved to be a losing battle during the Republican presidential debate. Cruz did not take on Trump or address any key policy issues during the entire evening, leaving him an ineffective player during the Republican presidential debate.   

US nuclear deal with Iran

The Senate secures Obama’s foreign policy

IRAN comes closer to proceeding with their nuclear program after striking a deal with the US government, limiting their ability to enrich uranium. On Thursday, September 10 2015, the Senate voted to reject a Republican backed measure to debunk President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. Senate Democrats blocked efforts that would continue the debate and would drag out a battle with the GOP controlled Congress. The opponents of the deal fell two votes short of the 60 needed, securing an important win for President Obama who called this vote a victory for diplomacy and national security.

This means that the President will not be forced to veto the bill and the landmark Iran nuclear deal will stand. The Republicans claim that the agreement is a threat to national security and are actively pursuing a revote on the measure next week. CNN reports that “after the Senate vote Thursday, the House passed a resolution on a straight party vote, stating that the President failed to comply with the law on the Iran nuclear deal, because he didn’t provide Congress with details on so-called ‘side deals’ governing inspections of possible nuclear sites,” stated Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, Deirdre Walsh and Tom LoBianco. However, these sites between Tehran and the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency are traditionally kept secret.

Significant congressional support has secured the implementation of the Iran agreement; however, the House ensured that their voting framework on the nuclear deal would set up a potential lawsuit. The measure was approved 245-186 and could possibly provide the foundation for a future legal battle against the Obama administration. Despite this, the House action cannot stop the Iran agreement, because of the Senate votes blocking the Republican efforts to dismantle the deal.

The House votes may not be able to prevent the Obama administration from starting to implement the Iran nuclear deal later this month. Republicans however successfully sent a powerful political message of disapproval by showing that the majority of the chamber was not in support of the agreement. Many of the House representatives contend that the Iran nuclear deal is a threat to national security and to the future state of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also opposed to the Iran nuclear deal and appeared before Congress in March to lobby against it. Netanyahu has serious concerns about this deal. “The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday,” says Netanyahu according to CNN reports. His continuous efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program is confronted with a major obstacle in light of the Senate votes to approve the Iran nuclear deal. “The votes come at the same time that the White House announced a visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the works,” stated Deirdre Walsh.       

The Iran nuclear deal involved six world powers known as the P5+1 who have joined together since 2006 to address diplomatic efforts with Iran in regard to their nuclear program. These world powers include the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany. The deal ensures that Iran cuts its uranium stockpiles, centrifuges, and limits uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The agreement allows the International Atomic Energy Agency to access facilities in Iran for verifications.

During Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, he expressed open communications within his foreign policy without preconditions. Those efforts have improved relations with Cuba and now, a nuclear agreement with Iran. These political maneuvers are two key components of President Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Many believe that his efforts have strongly secured peace in Iran and the Middle East, while others argue that the Iran nuclear deal is a direct threat to national security and the future state of Israel.  

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