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Brandeis University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1949 | Waltham, MA

The wall, the shutdown, and Trump’s irrationality

 The current government shutdown is the longest in United States history. Pay is being withheld from 800,000 federal workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck. Of these workers, 420,000 are still required to show up to work, according to CBS. The FDA has stopped inspections of certain food groups, over 40,000 immigration court hearings have been cancelled and Native American tribes that rely on federal funding are struggling to provide healthcare, road maintenance, law enforcement and other basic amenities, per the New York Times. The shutdown has also resulted a hefty economic cost. Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings estimate that if the shutdown lasts one more week, it will cost the economy $5.7 billion. 

Strongman dictators are increasing in number and are a threat to democracy

 Strongmen are destroying modern democracy from the inside out. Whether it be  Donald Trump in the United States, Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia or the recently elected Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, every inhabitable continent but Australia has an iron-fisted “strongman” in power. One can observe the phenomenon sweeping international politics: Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, Malta, the Philippines, and innumerable others. It is the year of the strongman, a year that holds none of the auspices of its Chinese counterparts. However, the year of the pig starts with the death sentence for a Canadian citizen held in China on charges of drug trafficking. Two Canadian businessmen are also being detained, but for reasons unpublicized. Ever since the arrest of Huawei’s corporate financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada, recent Chinese actions against Canadian citizens have been construed as suspicious. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has been charged with smuggling methamphetamines to China. He is alleged to have orchestrated a trade of well over one kilo of illegal substances; in China, one kilo warrants the death penalty. However, it is not the legitimacy of the charge that should be put under scrutiny, but rather the timing.  

Cherish the people that matter in life

  There have been a number of high-profile deaths on the national stage lately — Senator John McCain, President George H.W. Bush, civility in politics in general — and I thought it was interesting to watch our reactions to them. Some of us quietly mourned or paid their respects. Others, like a “Views on the News” contributor last December, danced on their graves. Still others, like President Liebowitz, didn’t seem to notice at all.

Views on the News: New Attorney General

 Following the resignation of former United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump has nominated William Barr, former Attorney General of the United States during the Bush administration. Barr has a long history of service in the federal government and leans towards the right of the political spectrum, with conservative views on immigration, abortion and the separation of church and state. Should he be confirmed by the Senate, how do you think Barr’s policy positions and political history within the United States will impact the current state of affairs in Washington? 

The wrongly convicted should be better compensated for serving prison time

  When you were younger, did you ever do something you were not supposed to and avoid punishment by blaming another? Whether it be a sibling or pet, someone always has to take the blame. Without assigning blame, how can there be justice? This notion of the wrongly accused goes far beyond blaming your sister for breaking the dishwasher or your dog for eating your homework; many individuals have been wrongly imprisoned for another’s crime for generations. Some spend decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit. These individuals are wrongly imprisoned on behalf of a false accusation. Then, to add insult to injury, the little justice they received from being released is negligible at best because states are not mandated to compensate these people, and many tend to be uneducated and unemployed. Unfortunately, these forgotten members of our society are set up to fail. As this is clearly unacceptable, states should be mandated to pay an annual minimum of $50,000 to each individual once they have been exonerated.   

Demagoguery has invaded the Student Union’s political scene

  Judging by the current state of affairs in Washington, it is safe to say that decorum in politics is dead. Whether you support the Trump administration or not, we can all agree that there are unwritten rules regarding the demeanor of a sitting president that have been disregarded entirely. We have just passed the second anniversary of Trump’s win this November, yet it feels like Americans have been trapped in his media circus for decades. Admit it: we have all aged significantly. In order to keep men like Trump in check, we must venture forward in an orderly manner. Some may despise bureaucracy, but it is a necessary cog in the machine of democracy. This makes Trump the outlier in an otherwise civilized society. 

EDITORIAL: Branda app is a step in the right direction

  On Dec. 4, a group of seven Brandeis students released the Branda app, a mobile application that “connects the students of Brandeis with essential campus services,” according to the app’s website. Its features include quick access to BrandeisNOW articles and the campus events calendar, a Branvan tracker, a laundry tracker, a campus map and an updated list of which dining locations are open at any given moment.  

EDITORIAL: Final exam period needs to be more accomodating

  Final exams are always a stressful time for college students, as it never seems like there is enough time to adequately prepare. This semester, finals begin on Dec. 13 and classes end on Dec. 11, giving students only one day to prepare for exams. This is worse than the fall 2017 semester, when classes ended on Dec. 8 and Finals began on Dec. 12. Even though there was only one official “study day,” students still had time during the weekend between classes ending and Final exams to study. Now, students who have an assignment or final paper due right before the scheduled start of the final examination period have no real opportunity to dedicate their time solely toward preparing for their final assessment. Other schools, such as Yale University, have a week-long study period. Similarly, Columbia University and Cornell University both have four days dedicated to studying, something that has been consistent throughout past academic years. Anything is better than the one day that Brandeis offers. This board suggests that the University give students at least four days — which can include weekends — to study so that students have time to properly prepare for their finals.  

Views on the News: George H.W. Bush's Legacy

The United States continues to mourn the passing of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. President Bush was known for his service to the country, including roles as the U.S. envoy to China, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Vice President of the United States under Ronald Reagan. How do you think President Bush will be remembered?

The left has yet to find its voice in the world of radio talk

  Shocking news: President Donald Trump gets made fun of in the media a lot. Crazy, right? Not like this is anything new, considering Trump’s been a pop culture punching bag for over three decades. If the concept of making fun of Trump on late-night TV was a person, it’d have three kids and two divorces by now. Now that he’s President of the United States, we’ve got wall-to-wall media coverage dedicated to various refutations of his administration and his equally abhorrent partners on Capitol Hill.  

Having more options does not lead to happiness in every situation

  Apparently, the United States is experiencing a “sex recession.” This month’s cover story for The Atlantic documents how and why Americans are having less sex than ever before, and seeks to answer how this phenomenon could be possible. In our liberal era, with access to potential sex partners easier than ever thanks to apps like Tinder, with taboos around sexual promiscuity falling and access to pregnancy and STD-preventing devices rising, how could it be that we’re actually spending less time in the bedroom?  

Activists misunderstand the groups they’re fighting for

 Present-day sociologists and internet activists are socio-economically divorced from the groups whose rights they claim to champion. Today, a lot of protests and activist movements are led by the Internet and privileged college graduates who use terms like ‘agency’ and ‘equity’, words that their professors and peers understand, but alas, not those minorities whose rights they fight for. 

Early school start times may be leaving students behind

 College has a funny way of making you forget about high school. Case in point: Recently, while looking at our spring semester schedules, a friend of mine complained about the prospect of waking up for a morning class at 9 a.m.. What followed was a few of us from various states and school districts remembering how excruciatingly early we had to drag ourselves out of bed in high school.  

The Student Union piano funding debacle was entirely avoidable

 It’s easy to miss the local news these days. With so much going on in the world and with finals rapidly approaching, students understandably have other things on their minds. Small wonder, then, that it was news to many of the first-years I spoke to last week that electric pianos were coming soon to a lounge near them. 

EDITORIAL: Commending trustees' fossil fuel decision

  On Wednesday, University President Ron Liebowitz shared an update from the Board of Trustees on the University’s policies and actions regarding fossil fuel divestment. This board commends the Trustees and President Liebowitz for this positive, prudent and practical approach to address the concerns of community members.

EDITORIAL: University must address serious fault lines

  The second portion of the independent investigators’ report, commissioned after Brian Meehan’s dismissal last spring, was released on Thursday. While the first half of the report, issued in September, focused on the specifics of the Meehan case, this half focused on the state of Brandeis’ campus culture. After reading the report, this board concludes that despite the University’s claims to being a school centered around social justice, Brandeis’ student body cares far more about diversity as an educational value than its faculty and trustees do. Until this discrepancy is addressed, Brandeis’ campus will continue to be a less-than-ideal environment for students of color. 

Views on the News: Border Migrant Crisis

   Over the past week, the Trump administration has made good on its promise to deter and punish anyone who attempts to cross the southern border illegally. Images of migrant families attempting to cross from Tijuana, Mexico into California facing hostile military personnel and tear gas have surfaced all over the internet. The President defends these actions by saying that the migrants are trying to enter the country illegally, and that many of them are criminals and pose a danger to the American people. Do these statements justify this use of force? Are there any alternatives to dealing with this number of migrants?    

Giving Tuesday should be part of everyone's holiday season

 Now that you have stuffed the last piece of turkey into your mouth, experienced the agony of waiting in endless lines for limited sales at odd hours of the morning and worn through your laptop’s trackpad searching for the hottest cyber deals, it’s time to relinquish the satisfying feeling of limitless indulgence.  

Stan Lee's long legacy extends even to the economic world

 On Nov. 12, 2018, the world mourned the loss of Stan Lee, a beloved comic book writer and one of Marvel Comics’ foremost creative leaders. In time, we may better understand the effect of his legacy as a pioneer of superhero comics and his personal journey from a poor immigrant household in New York to the figurehead of a massive multimedia corporation which dominates the comics industry. 

EDITORIAL: Senate should rethink draconian amendments

 Class of 2020 Senator Aaron Finkel has drafted two amendments to the Student Union Constitution that would strip the Allocations Board of final authority over all allocation decisions and policies and distribute it between the Senate and Union president. The justification for the amendments states that they would “ensure maximum accountability and fairness,” but this board believes the actual amendments do not effectively address either issue. To properly institute oversight of A-Board without adversely disrupting the balance of power in the Union, both amendments will need to be significantly altered. 

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