Bombing of Airbase Reflects New U.S. Strategy in Syria

On Thursday of last week President Trump ordered an airstrike in Syria in response to the brutal chemical attack on civilians that took place just two days before. The target of the attack was mainly aircraft and ammunition; Syria reported that six individuals were killed. The move by President Trump reflected an obvious change in strategy from the Obama administration, which had declined to act at all over the last six years of the Syrian civil war. Secretary of State Tillerson insists that the Trump administration has no interest in getting involved in the Syrian war. However, the strike does show that the new administration is willing to act when lines are crossed.

Chemical Attack in Syria Kills Dozens

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his allies, Russia and Iran, are being held responsible for a chemical attack that injured and killed dozens in Syria on Wednesday. This chemical attack signals a new low in the civil war that has ravaged Syria for over six years. Currently, the death toll for the attack is just under 70, although some sources say that it will reach over 100. Airplanes dropped chemicals around 7:00 a.m. Wednesday, just days after the Syrian government bombed a local hospital. This is yet another brazen attack on his own citizen by Assad, as well as a bold refusal of any and all cease-fire agreements.

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Image courtesy nytimes.com – Ammar Abdullah/Reuters

4 Dead after Wisconsin Shooting

For unknown reasons, a shooter stormed into a Wisconsin bank Wednesday afternoon and opened fire. He shot two people at the bank, and then move on to a law office. A lawyer and police detective were killed before the suspect was apprehended in a nearby apartment. The suspect is recovering from unknown injuries. The motive for the shooting has not yet been determined.

 

Berkeley Makes Headlines Again as Trump Rally Turns Violent

In the season of rallies and counter-rallies and protests ad nauseum, marchers came out for yet another cause over the weekend: in support of the president and his “America First” policies. Supporters of President Trump sought to make their voices heard over the rabble of protests against his executive orders with “March 4 Trump” rallies across the nation. And yet again, intolerance reared its ugly head at many of these rallies, including the one that took place just blocks away from UC Berkeley, once a beacon for free speech movements. After all was said and done, ten people were arrested and seven were injured at Berkeley as Trump protesters and supporters clashed. Elsewhere, six protesters were arrested in St. Paul, Minnesota after they lit fireworks at the Capitol then ran; two others were arrested in Nashville. Berkeley’s protest, however, took the cake as individuals burned American flags and pepper-sprayed each other; police confiscated weapons such as baseball bats, bricks, and metal pipes. Many other “March 4 Trump” rallies across the nation took place with no incident, including in New York city, Washington D.C., Lansing, Mich., and elsewhere.

Image courtesy of  REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Executive Actions Keeping Trump Busy

Keeping good on many of his campaign promises, President Trump has wasted little time in making serious changes in D.C. and throughout the country. Here’s a brief look at the executive actions passed since January 20th:

-An executive order passed February 3rd loosened regulations on banks, rolling back many aspects of the 2010 Dodd-Frank deal

-January 27th his most controversial executive order temporarily suspended immigration from seven primarily Islamic countries with high terrorist activity (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria) and also suspended refugee admissions for 120 days.

-Executive order signed January 25th outlined the plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, allowed for the immediate detainment and deportation of illegal immigrants, and allowed for 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents to be hired.

-Also signed on January 25th, a separate but related executive order declared that the administration will withhold federal dollars from sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration agencies.

-Executive orders were also passed that  limit the lobbying activities of former government employees, cap new executive legislation, and create a “fast-track” environmental review process for infrastructure projects.

While executive orders have more legal backing, Trump has also issued executive memoranda, focusing on rebuilding the military, defeating ISIS, reducing manufacturing regulations, approving two major oil pipeline projects (Keystone and Dakota), instituting a federal government hiring freeze (excluding military), and signaling intent to remove the U.S. from the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) trade deal. These memorandum are exclamatory in nature and do not create any new law in themselves.

Here you’ll find a full list of all of President Trump’s executive actions.

Photo courtesy  of Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.

Free Speech Takes Another Hit as Violence Erupts at UC Berkeley

“It is tragic that the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement is also its final resting place.”
– UC Berkeley College Republicans

On Wednesday night, Milo Yiannopoulos had yet another appearance cancelled among heavy protests, this time violent and damaging. Last night, agitators aimed fireworks and rocks at police and destroyed buildings by smashing windows and launching Molotov cocktails. As crowds dispersed, protesters continued destroying property in downtown Berkeley. Because of the violence, the university called off the scheduled event.

UC Berkeley essentially ended its reign as the leader of the Free Speech Movement by refusing to properly secure the campus and ensure that attendees would be allowed to make it into and out of the event safely. When the Berkeley College Republicans scheduled Milo, the university sought to distance itself as much as possible, and prior to the event UC Berkeley’s chancellor sent out a notice briefly supporting the right to free speech, but then going on at length to call Mr. Yiannopoulos a “ troll and provocateur,” and clarifying that the university stood “ready to provide resources and support to our community members who may be adversely affected by his words and actions on the stage.” But there was no mention of the university’s preparedness to protect Milo’s  or his supporters’ First Amendment rights. Just like UC Davis last month, UC Berkeley abandoned its commitment to free speech by prioritizing the feelings of protesters over the rights of the speaker.  In response, President Trump tweeted a threat that the UC system’s federal funding could be cut if free speech continues to be threatened.

America Should be Ashamed of Inauguration Day Boycotts

“We’ve been around 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections and we’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them and that is what must be expected…”               -Hillary Clinton, October 2016, Presidential Debate

This Inauguration Day is one of a kind, for more reason than one. A man with no political experience and a knack for firing off his mouth (and his Twitter) has made his way to the Presidential office. And because this man won the White House, despite all that the media predicted and told us about him, there will be numerous protesters at the inauguration this year. Although protesters are not exclusive to Mr. Trump’s pending presidency, it is expected that they will be much more prevalent this Friday than they have been since Nixon’s inauguration.

Although pointless and childish (I mean really, boycotting our democracy’s tradition of peaceful transition of power?), American citizens absolutely have the cherished right to protest our government. So march on, I say. However, this year’s “boycott” by 56 Democratic Congressman refusing to accept the inauguration of Mr. Trump shows a pure and utter lack of respect for our government and its processes. Regardless of what their own presidential candidate said just a few months ago, these Democrats are flatly refusing to accept the outcome of our free and fair election. This boycott epitomizes the problem of Washington D.C.: if you don’t agree with someone, undermine them. Don’t talk to them, don’t interact with them, and do everything in your power to delegitimize them and their positions. Dig in your heels and refuse to meet in the middle. And how has that worked out for the American people so far?

Well, if you haven’t noticed, our nation is more divided than ever on almost every single issue and nothing is getting done. No real progress has been made regarding the economy, immigration policy, policing issues, or foreign policy, and these topics are more contentious than ever. Inauguration Day used to be a day when all Americans, particularly our representatives in the nation’s Capitol, would put aside their differences and come together in a celebration of our democratic traditions and values. But no more. 2016 was the year when public shaming of political and ideological opponents became both accepted and expected, and this attitude has bled into January 20, 2017. Even the National Education Association is encouraging students and teachers to play hooky to boycott Trump’s electoral victory. Let that sink in. Instead of teaching our students to honor our election process (and the results), the NEA and our own legislative representatives, among others, are teaching our children to cry and complain when things don’t go their way. Conversation and compromise are now overrated. 2017 is not boding well for the United States, and it has very little to do with the orange-tinted, loose-lipped man being sworn in as the 45th President.