The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) launched its second day of Air Strikes inside Syrian territory.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Twitter that, “Russian Aerospace Forces engaged another four #ISIS facilities in #Syria this night.” The VKS sent more than 50 aircrafts on about 30 sorties over Syria on Thursday, using drones and satellites to identify targets.
The Kremlin has thus far maintained that Russian involvement in Syria comes as a result of requests made by the Syrian government to help combat ISIS militants and other designated terrorist groups who currently hold Syrian.
US officials have angrily condemned the air strikes, stating that Russia is using the goal of fighting ISIS and other terrorist organizations as a pretext for support the regime of Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended his nation’s airstrikes saying they were targeting the same “terrorist” groups that the US-led coalition has been targeting for the past over a year.
Minister Lavrov in an address at the UN in New York said Russia would fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, including the al-Nusra Front. “We are not supporting anyone against their own people. We fight terrorism.”
In terms of the Free Syrian Army, Lavrov added: “We believe that the Free Syrian Army should be part of the political process like some other armed groups on the ground composed of Syrian patriotic opposition individuals.”
As Russia steps up its involvement in the conflict, Iraq has agreed to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS militants.
Cover Photo Credit: Berit Watkin/Flickr (CC by 2.0)
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About the AuthorKyle Jones is a columnist with Rise News. He is a senior honors student at the University of Alabama, studying Political Science and Spanish with a focus on Public Policy Studies.
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By Courtney Anderson
Students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have had a whirlwind of a academic year.
In between talks of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s outsourcing plans and the sexual assault lawsuit that was filed against the university, the school has also been dealing with Tennessee legislators and their feelings about the diversity programs.
It is a conflict that lasted throughout the entire 2015-2016 academic year and finally came to a head this May.
The conflict began on August 26, 2015 when the Office of Diversity and Inclusion posted an article written by the director of the Pride Center, Donna Braquet, on its website.
In the article, Braquet talked about gender identity and gender-neutral pronouns students, faculty and staff could incorporate into their everyday language. And while the post was innocent enough, many conservatives did not find it helpful.
On August 28, 2015, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes posted a piece about the article on his opinion blog. Starnes discouraged the use of gender-neutral pronouns and made fun of the University for having the post on one of its websites.
“Anything goes for the sake of inclusivity, right?” Starnes wrote.
The post then got the attention of Tennessee lawmakers who, like Starnes, felt that the post was unnecessary and posed a threat to “traditional” values.
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The Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion, Rickey Hall, was heavily criticized, as was Braquet and the Pride Center.
Soon after, the post was removed from the website while Hall was on vacation.
Fast forward to December 2015.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion posted a notice on its website reminding faculty and staff to keep holiday parties non-religious.
Specifically, they were asked to make sure “your holiday parties aren’t just Christmas parties in disguise.”
They were discouraged from incorporating religious symbols and encouraged to bear in mind that Christmas is not the only holiday to occur in the month of December.
Tennessee lawmakers did not like this advice at all.
Many of them, such as Rep. Jimmy Duncan and Rep. Martin Daniel, called them an attack on Christmas and Christianity. Duncan was one of the lawmakers to demand that Hall be fired and Cheek resign.
“Chancellor Cheek called me today and he was very apologetic over this matter. He told me that he is planning to take action within the next week,” Duncan wrote in a Facebook post. “I think the one who should be fired is the one responsible for this, Rickey Hall, the Vice Chancellor brought in here from Minnesota to run this office.”
Students at UT Knoxville fought back.
They rallied in support of Hall and demanded that Tennessee lawmakers recognize that diversity is a major aspect of successful colleges and universities.
Thus, the hashtag #UTDiversityMatters was born.
On December 8, 2015: a disastrous press conference was held.
Students held a sit-in in Cheek’s office to show their support for Hall.
Cheek and Hall were to meet students in Cheek’s office at 3:30 p.m. to address them and the press. Instead, they gave an exclusive interview to only a couple local Knoxville news stations on the third floor of Andy Holt Tower, the building where both of their offices are located. Students discovered this and rushed to meet their administrators.
Afterwards, Cheek and Hall walked to the Communications building, room 321, to finally address the rest of the press and the students who had been waiting. I
n the meantime, it was revealed by the Knoxville News Sentinel that Hall had been “counseled” and that he would no longer have control of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website. Control of the site was given to the Vice Chancellor for Communications, Margie Nichols.
Winter break came and news died down.
On January 20, 2016, a few weeks after the start of the spring semester, a bill that would strip the Office of Diversity and Inclusion of state funding was introduced. Students immediately began taking action.
The UT Diversity Matters Coalition was officially formed and began having meetings with administration, including Cheek and Hall, about the future of the diversity programs at the school. Meanwhile, in early February, Nichols announced that she was retiring.
Things took a sour turn for diversity at UT Knoxville on March 2, when the senate voted to strip state funding.
Three days later, nearly 150 students wore black and staged a walkout of a basketball game. Throughout the month of March, the coalition continued to meet with administration.
And in April, the Tennessee House also voted to strip state funding.
On April 19, the coalition and nearly 500 students staged a mass class exit in protest of the funding cuts. During the protest, students staged a die-in on the Pedestrian Walkway, one of the busiest pathways on campus.
The following day, the coalition had their final meeting with administration. And while some of the demands were met or otherwise discussed, many of the demands were met with “No’s” from the administration.
A month later, on May 19, the University of Washington announced that Hall accepted a position as its new vice president of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and chief diversity officer. Hall will start his position on August 1, 2016.
The following day, on May 20, Governor Bill Haslam allowed the bill to become law without his signature. The Pride Center was immediately shut down, Braquet was fired and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was disbanded.
Thomas Tran, UT student and a member of the coalition, was one of the students to speak at the rally. Since the end of the semester, he has consistently spoken out against Tennessee lawmakers’ actions and administrations’ lack of action.
“We have been doing everything ‘the right way,’” Tran said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “We’ve voted. We’ve called legislators. We’ve had meetings with admin. We’ve built broad base support with the student body. And this is how admin pays us back.”
The Pride Center, which administration announced will be converted into “student organization” is being run by students known as “Pride Ambassadors.” Without administrative support or funding, they are on their own.
“We have been told that we have to fend for ourselves,” a post on the Pride Center Facebook page reads. “We, who have been targeted, and harassed, and scapegoated for an entire year, have been cast aside. We have been offered up as sacrifice.”
Students have not given up.
Members of the UT Diversity Matters Coalition have promised to continue fighting for diversity at UT Knoxville. Johnathan DeWitt Clayton, a UT student and member of the coalition, said it best in a Facebook status.
“This isn’t any one issue, but rather an issue of systematic oppression and erasure, one that the university as a whole is refusing to acknowledge, let alone combat,” Clayton wrote. “But we’re here. We’re not leaving. And we won’t let you silence us anymore.”
Cover Photo Credit: Courtney AndersonPost Views: 964
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This piece is part of RISE NEWS’ coverage of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to date information and check regularly on risenews.net throughout the week.
The third floor of Cleveland Public Library’s main branch is currently home to one of 18 touring copies of William Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio and an original print of John James Audubon’s Blue Jay.
Swing by the library during the Republican National Convention, and chances are you’ll have both of them, along with every other artifact and tome in the collection, all to yourself.
Just before 6:00 PM closing time on Monday afternoon, librarians said they had seen no more than 30 people over the course of the entire day, less than one-fifth of the usual, non-Convention weekday traffic count.
This atypical tranquility might have registered as a minor curiosity amidst leather-bound labyrinths and underneath vaulted ceilings, where peace and quiet are familiar companions. But even around Cleveland’s downtown and waterfront districts, where Convention-week carnage of various orders and magnitudes has been predicted if not expected, unanticipated placidity was the order of the day, and it did not go unnoticed.
“So far you haven’t seen anything bad happen, and I hope we don’t. I hope it stays peaceful,” Eric, a Cleveland-native said while walking on a break from his downtown catering job.
Eric had helped direct myself and another RISE NEWS reporter to Willard Park, one of three designated downtown protest zones, along with Public Square and Perk Plaza.
At Willard Park, demonstrators lounged without controversy or confrontation in the shade of trees and E-Z UP tents.
At Public Square, the locus of the day’s activity, speakers alternated through a prearranged schedule of turns at a stage and PA system with relatively little discord.
One man with an AK-47 slung across his shoulder drew a crowd, as did a lineup in hats embroidered with FEAR GOD and signs reading “HOMO SEX IS SIN,” but neither demonstration erupted into violence.
An unidentified black woman representing the Cleveland-based Imperial Women’s Coalition was arrested by a team of several police officers in the middle of her speech.
Witnesses who had been in queue behind the stage when the woman was handcuffed speculated that she had had an outstanding warrant for her arrest from a prior interaction with officers within the past three to four weeks.
You would have been hard pressed to walk or drive through downtown on Monday without some interaction with the police, as officers led motorcades, directed traffic, and patrolled the streets and sidewalks by foot, by bike, and by horse.
Joining Cleveland Police Department and Ohio State Highway Patrol officers were badges from Indiana, Michigan, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, and California, walking reminders that the city has taken steps to prepare for outsized personalities and events both inside and outside of Quicken Loans Arena.
On Monday, at least, the tone outside was decidedly low-key.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWSPost Views: 395
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Updated: 8:34 PM EST
Over 370,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump to be banned from the United Kingdom due to his controversial statements about Muslims in recent days.
Members of Parliament will now have to decide whether they wish to debate a motion relating to the aims of the petition, which is titled, “Block Donald J Trump from UK entry”.
“The signatories believe Donald J Trump should be banned from UK entry,” The petition reads. “The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron has called Trump’s rhetoric ““divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong” according to TIME.
Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Exchequer (analogous to Treasury Secretary) George Osborne also bashed Trump.
“The best way to defeat nonsense like this is to engage in robust and democratic debate, and to make it clear his views are not welcome,” Osborne said of Trump according to the Guardian.
“If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful,” the petition reads.
It is unclear whether Trump could be in any danger of actually being banned from the country.
Stay with Rise News. We’ll update this story as developments happen.
Cover Photo Credit: thierry ehrmann/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 535
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