About the Author
James Kardys is a fourth year student at the University of Miami. He majors in political science and international relations. He has written articles for RISE NEWS since May 2016, and for Turning Point USA since November 2014.

A Response To The Article “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends”


Aren’t racism and race hatred the same thing?

Actually, no they aren’t.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, in order for one to be a racist, he or she must possess the belief that “all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

If that is true, then the racists of the world form a rather big tent, consisting of two main camps.

In the first camp, there are those who can be considered racists on the grounds because they take racial stereotypes into account in their thought process, and therefore may subconsciously think one race is inferior than another because its members are unable to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes.

In the second camp, there are those who harbor an actual hatred for other races and seek to undermine and/or destroy them, because they believe that races are inherently designed to function as if they were countries, forming alliances with and against one another.

Although most people don’t stop for a moment and realize these distinctions when thinking about racism, it is important they do.

There are many good people out there who view racism as a cancer that needs to be eradicated.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the commonly accepted strategy to combat racism isn’t working.

A few days ago, I read an article written by my fellow RISE NEWS contributor Courtney Anderson titled “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends.”

The multiple uses of the absolutist word “only” to describe the traits of certain races (“Only one of us can actually experience racism, and it isn’t him;” “The only people with societal power are white people;” “White people are the only people who are not negatively affected by racial stereotypes;” “They are also the only ones who can safely have “dialogue” with racist individuals.”) is a perfect example of how a good-natured person can be racist without realizing it.

While Anderson is (hopefully) not trying to portray white people as an enemy, she is relying on stereotypes to make her point. Let me ask you two questions.

1) Is it possible for white people to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who are unable to experience racism, hold societal power, are not negatively affected by stereotypes, and are safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?

2) Is it possible for other races to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who do not hold any power and are not safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?

The answer to both of these questions is “yes.”

It is possible for white people to experience racism?

Any white person… sorry… any person who read that article technically did, due to the presence of absolutist language that creates stereotypes.

Is it possible for someone other than a white person to hold power?

Let’s ask Barack Obama.

Is it possible for white people people to be negatively affected by stereotypes?

Yes, because stereotypes are relied upon by race haters who seek to construct a narrative regarding the nature of what they consider to be monolithic entities whose members are incapable of dissenting, and therefore cause every single person who is a member of the races perceived to be at war to have weapons aimed at them, whether they know it or not.

And finally, is it possible for minorities to have dialogue with racist individuals without risking harm to themselves?

As previously stated, by writing her article, Anderson has displayed a racist trait, right here on RISE NEWS.

And that’s okay.

Because racism is such a broad topic, and there are different kinds of people who can be classified as racists, whose overall natures range from friendly to malevolent, the best way to attack racism and make it a thing of the past is to start at different levels.

Let’s ask ourselves a question.

Which racists are the most problematic?

The most harmful to our society?

The ones that are calling for open warfare between the races. Groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, the New Black Panthers, etc.

These groups are willing to balkanize this country and cause it to descend into lawlessness in the name of their agendas.

Most people who like to crack jokes about racial stereotypes because they like politically incorrect humor, and most people who refer to racial stereotypes when issuing grievances about the state of our society, don’t want to see that happen.

In that case, those of us who do not abide by stereotypes in our mindsets, need to offer an olive branch to those who do but still want peace, law, and order, and vice versa. And those of us who do abide by stereotypes need to do the same with others who abide by stereotypes of our own race (and perhaps play “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Avenue Q on our phones when talking to them).

This suggestion may sound ridiculously stupid to you, but this approach has been made before. And the last time it was, it saved the country.

Let’s not forget that during the Civil War, when this country was on the edge of descending into oblivion, Abraham Lincoln forged alliances with Congressional Democrats who supported slavery but opposed secession, and even named one, Andrew Johnson, as his Vice President when he ran for re-election in 1864.

Hell, even Lincoln himself had some racist tendencies, having advocated the resettlement of freed slaves back to Africa and saying that his motivation for freeing the slaves was to protect the union and allow African-Americans to enjoy the fruit of their labor as opposed to them being entitled to universal human rights.

But yet, he knew what must be done. He put aside his feelings and acted according to his duties as Commander in Chief and as a citizen of the United States.

Another question that you may be asking now is, “is the state our society as grave as it was 155 years ago, that we must follow this course of action?” I say “no. Not yet.”

Our political climate is changing.

Prominent voices on both sides of the political spectrum are arguing that the current system isn’t working.

We have people like Bernie Sanders saying, “we must be more like the European Left.”

And we have the alt-right saying, “we must be more like the European Right.”

Both the European Right and the European Left are serving as destabilizing forces that are fueling the collapse of a once-promising economic bloc and the rise of ethnic nationalism and separatism. Some view this decay as the prelude to war in the region.

In that case, if our politics begins to resemble Europe’s more and more, shouldn’t we have the same fears as what will happen at home as well as abroad?

I have no doubts that if civil disorder or civil war breaks out, self-proclaimed “racial warriors” will be at the forefront.

If they are indeed planning what I suspect they are planning, they need to be stopped, and they need to be stopped sooner rather than later.

We need all the allies we can get. We need to put politics, religion, gender, age, differences on political correctness, etc aside. No more talking about “privilege,” “wealth,” or “power.” And no more talking about who needs to do it either.

Talk about government, and you will alienate potential conservative allies. Talk only about how we as a community are going to act on the individual level. Act peacefully. Engage in dialogue. Get those whose hearts are immersed in darkness to see the light. Only fight back when attacked.

Our country doesn’t have much time for infighting between those who love peace, freedom, and security.

Those who fought and won the Civil War realized this.

And I pray to my God that we do, too.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A Conservative Case For Fighting Big Sugar In Florida

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my grandfather at his home as he recovers from surgery.

While visiting, he showed me a newspaper article about Governor Rick Scott’s reluctance to address the sugar industry’s practice of dumping produce runoff into various bodies of water along Treasure Coast, notably the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

This runoff has, according to the Miami Herald produced a toxic, blue-green algae that has closed beaches, killed fish and oysters, and produced hazards for civilians who rely on the water for drinking and recreation.

To quote Brian Mast, a candidate for the Republican primary in Florida’s 18th Congressional District who uploaded video footage of the green algae on his Facebook account:

“This is the water that we fish in. This is the water that our children play in, that we wade in. This is the water that touches our beaches. This is the water that we go boating in. This is our way of life here, and it’s literally…it’s being destroyed.”

That last sentence in Mast’s statement may perhaps be the most important of all, as there is more than one accurate context to state it in.

Of course, the locals’ way of life has been affected.

They can no longer be guaranteed access to safe drinking water, as Lake Okeechobee, the source of the runoff (its water is used to irrigate the sugar cane crops), provides drinking water to West Palm Beach, Fort Meyers, and the entire Lower East Coast metropolitan areas.

The Caloosahatchee River is also a source of drinking water for Fort Meyers.

With fish dying, it has become more difficult for fishermen to work their trade.

With the beaches closed, one of the defining features of the Treasure Coast will be altered.

However, another context must be taken into account when discussing how someone’s way of life could be changed: jobs.

On a local scale, businesses that either distribute water from the now-polluted sources or rely on fishing in order to function will be forced to either find an alternate source of water and fish or shut down, causing many people to lose their jobs.

This, in turn, will result in reduced tourism (which will already be facing reductions due to the closure of beaches) due the reduced number of businesses, which will only lead to further business closures and job losses.

A field used for growing sugar in Florida. Photo Credit: Josh Hallett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A field used for growing sugar in Florida. Photo Credit: Josh Hallett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

On a state, national, and international scale, large corporations that rely on the Treasure Coast for part of their business will be forced to increase prices due to reduced supply.

This, in turn, will result in reduced incentives to purchase their products by consumers, and perhaps further job losses.

The cycle continues from there.

In addition, for Florida in particular, reduced tourism will result in reduced outside investment, further hindering economic growth.

Think about that for a moment.

When you hear reports about pollution and the environment, you probably have a reflex to associate it with liberalism and the Democratic Party.

But that is not always true, and in this case, it’s not.

Conservatives and Republicans do indeed have a legitimate reason to consider this case a problem from an ideological standpoint.


Because private enterprise of all sizes, be it a one-person lemonade stand that relies on the water to make its lemonade to a multi-national fishing corporation, is being negatively affected.

If the conservatives of the Republican Party truly cared about their own platform, they ought to demand that Governor Scott take action in order to prevent the actions of one local industry from damaging other industries not just across the state, but across the country and perhaps across the world.

The Republican Party is supposedly the party of businesses, and perhaps it is time it acted like it.

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: Kathleen Conklin/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It Doesn’t Matter That Ted Cruz Broke The “Pledge”

If you paid attention to the news in any amount whatsoever during the Republican national convention, you are probably aware that on the third night (July 20), Ted Cruz gave a speech where not only did he decline to formally endorse Donald Trump, but implicitly told voters not to vote for him if it violated their conscience.

Not surprisingly, this speech prompted much outrage from the party.

He was booed offstage.

Former allies such as Sarah Palin said that his career was over.

Rick Perry and Dan Patrick (the lieutenant governor of Texas) have been mentioned as possible primary opponents against Cruz when he runs for re-election in the Senate in 2018.

Donald Trump is reportedly so embittered that not only does he not want Cruz’s endorsement should he change his mind, and has talked about funding SuperPACs against him and John Kasich, who also refused to endorse, in future elections they run in.

Ted Cruz himself has since explained his reasoning behind his decision to not endorse Trump, saying that he is “not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my father.”

That, in his opinion, invalidated the pledge that all the candidates signed to support the eventual nominee back in September.

Or did it?

I am a Republican who supported Ted Cruz for the nomination prior to him dropping out on May 3.

As I saw many of my fellow Cruz supporters turn into former supporters over his decision not to endorse, I struggled to figure out whether I should do the same.

I sympathized with the content of his speech (so much, that the Trump-sponsored vicious reaction to his statements, which included emphasis on the importance of preserving the Constitution and the idea that voters must vote according to what they believe is best for our freedoms, prompted me to decide to vote third party even though I’m a registered Republican), but I wondered whether he should be judged for apparently failing to keep his word.

I eventually decided that he should not be judged regarding the so-called “pledge.” Why? Because the pledge was invalidated into non-existence in deed. Not by Cruz, but by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party.

As I thought about how to respond, I remembered an event that took place on March 29, 2015, when Donald Trump also renounced the pledge at the CNN Town Hall event that evening.

According to Time, Trump’s decision to renounce the pledge violated the terms that would have made him eligible to be on the ballots in states that required a loyalty pledge.

This could have caused him to forfeit his delegates in such states that had already voted at the time, such as South Carolina.

That didn’t happen, and the question is, why?

Why didn’t Reince Priebus follow through with his own rules, especially considering that as a leader of the GOP establishment, Trump’s downfall perhaps would have benefited him?

I can’t say for sure, but I would not rule out the idea Priebus’ decision not to penalize Trump was related to his belief that Trump can make deals.

After all, he and Trump had no problem making deals (abeit, indirectly via a coalition of Trump supporters and establishment figures in the Republican National Committee) that threw out proposed amendments to the convention rules that would have limited the power of the party chair, and redistributed it in the hands of lower-ranking members who could have affected the outcome of the development of the party platform, if not the convention itself.

Regardless of Priebus’ motivations, his actions do not reflect kindly on the reputation of the party, which, based on them, has been attacking Cruz based on a false premise.

A pledge that is not enforced is not a pledge. It is a joke.

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: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s The Pros And Cons Of All Of Trump’s Potential Running Mates

Donald Trump is in need of a running mate who can help him win the White House.

But who should he pick?

On July 4, Breitbart, perhaps the most well-known and most popular pro-Donald Trump news media website, launched a straw poll for users to state their first, second, and third choices for Donald Trump’s running mate.

The choices distilled from that online poll are listed in the below chart, as are the potential pros and cons.

Information courtesy of The Atlantic, other cited sources, and personal knowledge I have known for a long time.

Candidate Name Pros Cons
Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona Joe Arpaio Is well-known for his hardline stances on illegal immigration. Brings virtually nothing else to the table. Would also be by far the oldest vice president ever elected, being 84 years old on Election Day (the current record-holder is Alben Barkley, Harry Truman’s Vice President, who was elected at age 70).

Representative from Tennessee Marsha Blackburn

Is a woman. Is experienced with the legislative process, and therefore fits the profile of a VP who could, in Trump’s words, “get things done” with passing legislative agendas. Was a member of House leadership during the John Boehner era, which is derided by many conservatives as being one of the most, if not the most ineffective Republican congressional leadership in the history of the party.
Neurosurgeon from Florida Ben Carson Is well-liked due to his friendly personality. Is popular with social conservatives. Is African American. Is very inexperienced in politics; would bring little to the table if Trump wants a VP that would help him with policy, which he does.
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie Is experienced in politics, being a two-term governor and a former U.S. attorney. Is a very dynamic campaigner. Is very similar to Trump personality-wise. Is deeply unpopular in his home state.  Is despised by social conservatives. Has been accused of covering for members of Hamas by prominent conservative activists. His support of a state-level version of the DREAM Act goes against one of Trump’s biggest campaign positions.  And of course, Bridgegate.

Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker

Like Trump, is a real estate businessman who entered politics and has bragged about “the art of the deal.” As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and a member of the banking committee, he could help Trump in those areas of policy. Is not well-known, and is despised by hardliners who do know him.

Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton

Is a military veteran who could assist Trump on foreign policy matters. Is young and well-known. Is highly inexperienced with the legislative process, as he has only been in the Senate for a year and a half.
Senator from Texas Ted Cruz Would end the Trump-Cruz schism that has divided the party. Is Hispanic. Would turn off moderates, who find him too extreme on social issues. Is despised by the Republican Senate leadership, and this would be a problem for Trump’s efforts to pass legislative agendas.
Senator from Iowa Joni Ernst Is a woman. Is a former lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. Is young and charismatic. Has name recognition. Is inexperienced as a politician, having served only a year and a half in Washington. Would turn off some fiscal conservatives due to her positions on trade.
Governor of Oklahoma Mary Fallin Is a woman. Is experienced in the political process. Does not bring much else to the table due to low name recognition. Would also turn off some social conservatives.

Former Lieutenant General Mike Flynn

Is a military man; would give Trump defense credentials. Is a registered Democrat, despite being an adviser to the Trump campaign. Would turn off social conservatives with his positions on same-sex marriage and abortion. Some say he’s too extreme on Islam even by Trump standards.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich His intellect and experience as former Speaker of the House fits the profile of a VP who could, in Trump’s words, “get things done” with passing legislative agendas. “Has been known to say wacky things on his own part, in addition to Trump’s statements.” Is despised by some social conservatives over his two divorces, Brings little to the table for demographic reasons as well as a lack of foreign policy experience. NAFTA, a free trade agreement despised by many Trump supporters, was passed under his watch as House Speaker.
Governor of Ohio John Kasich Is experienced in politics as a two-term governor and former Congressman, and therefore fits the profile of a VP who could, in Trump’s words, “get things done” with passing legislative agendas. Has a temperament that would balance Trump. His presidential campaign results have indicated that he has not capable of bringing much to the table.
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin Would increase Trump’s appeal with women and social conservatives. Is a woman. Would turn off Republicans who were alienated by her being on the ticked in 2008.

Governor of Indiana Mike Pence

Is experienced with the legislative process, and therefore fits the profile of a VP who could, in Trump’s words, “get things done” with passing legislative agendas. Is very popular with social conservatives. Has recently run afoul of some social conservatives over a controversial religious liberty bill. Would be forced to immediately resign his office if he decides to run with Trump, as per Indiana law.
Senator from Florida Marco Rubio Is young and charismatic. Is a Hispanic, and could increase Trump’s appeal among that ethnic group. Is experienced with foreign policy. Is Hispanic. He and Trump did not get along well during the primaries, and Rubio has expressed a lack of interest for that reason. Also was a sponsor of the Gang of Eight immigration bill, which is despised by most Trump supporters.

Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott

Is African American. Is well-liked by conservatives who know about him. Is relatively inexperienced, only having been in Washington since 2011. Has low name recognition. His main focus as a legislator has been on education, which is not a core issue of Trump’s campaign.

Senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions

Is well-known among die-hard Trump supporters. Is widely viewed as being in lock-step with Trump on immigration. Is disliked by libertarian-leaning Republicnas due to his positions on the PATRIOT Act and government spying.
Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker Has high name recognition due to his hard-line positions on taxes and spending and his infamous 2011 standoff with Democrats over a budget bill that sparked a walkout of Democratic legislators. Is weak on immigration, and is hated by some Trump supporters over this. His disastrous debate performances during the primaries cannot be overlooked.

Representative from Montana Ryan Zinke

Is very socially liberal; could appeal to moderates. Is inexperienced, having served in the House for only a year in a half. Is despised by social conservatives.


Regardless of your political positions, which of the above candidates do you think would help Trump the most in the long run?

Feel free to comment below!

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: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

ISIS Is A Country, Whether We Want To Admit It Or Not

On June 12, the state of Florida experienced something it hadn’t since the Civil War: an attack on its soil by a person fighting for a foreign country.

Although most people consider ISIS to be a terrorist organization (which, in my humble opinion may affect how people view the War on Terror and cause them to not take it seriously as they don’t believe we are fighting another country), the level of organization and consolidation of its rule in the territory it occupies indicates that it is in fact much more than that.

First off, let’s take a look at one of the definitions of a state (the only reason I’m using the word “country” is to make this article easier to read for Americans who are so used to calling nation-states “countries” and American provinces “states”), as provided by Merriam-Webster:

a :  a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory; especially :  one that is sovereign

b :  the political organization of such a body of people

c :  a government or politically organized society having a particular character <a policestate> <the welfare state>”

Now, let’s see how ISIS meets the qualifications of the definition set out in Merriam-Webster.

Is ISIS a politically organized body?


At the top of its leadership is the caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Just below him is the Shura Council, the Sharia Council, and independent religious scholars who determine how to govern occupied territory and lay out military strategy.

In addition, there exist councils on finance, media, military affairs, provincial affairs, religious affairs, and security and intelligence.

Does ISIS occupy a definite territory?

For the most part, yes.

The fact that it occupies territory is a no-brainer, but if you google maps of ISIS at various points in time, you can see that its borders have been very fluid.

Nonetheless, it has managed to hold onto significant swaths of territory for years, long enough to be able to organize that territory into regional provinces that are ruled by governors and are locations to which ISIS military commanders are assigned.

So, there you go. ISIS is de facto a country.

It may not be de jure a country, as it is not recognized as such by any country or international institution, but that shouldn’t stop the United States from weighing what is in front of the faces of its policy makers and accept reality.

Whether you like it or not, ISIS is a country, and it is capable of taking actions that are done by countries, such as govern a territory, wage war, and mint a currency.

It is time to start treating ISIS as what it is, for the sake of ensuring that a war that has come to Florida’s (and of course, America’s) soil is waged correctly and efficiently, for the sake of saving lives of Americans and many others around the globe.

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: Vice News/ Youtube (Screenshot)

Trump Continues His Alienation Of His Support Base

A few weeks back I posted an article talking about Trump potentially alienating his own base of support through his endorsement of a congressional candidate whose positions on immigration were virtually the polar opposite of his own.

Now, he has made a statement that could have a similar effect, as it can easily be construed as insulting soldiers who participated in the Iraq War.

According to PoliticoTrump made the following statement (reconstructed using both the video and the text on the article):`

“When we got out, we should’ve taken the oil. I’ll never forget some of the pundits — most of them don’t have the brains they were born with — they said: ‘They’re talking about a sovereign country.’ Iraq, crooked as hell. How about bringing baskets of money — millions and millions of dollars — and handing it out?,” Trump said at an evening rally. “I want to know who were the soldiers that had that job, because I think they’re living very well right now, whoever they may be.”

Read More: Forget the Judge Curiel Comments. This Is What Could Hurt Donald Trump In The Long Run

Now, as previously stated, this statement could easily be construed as insulting American soldiers, but it is not a guarantee.

This is because after reading the statement and listening to the audio over and over again, I came to two conclusions:

1) It was a jarbled mess. This is especially evident if you listen to the audio, where it is difficult to tell when he is beginning or ending a sentence because he is rushing to get to whatever point he is trying to make. It is difficult to tell if he is talking about US soldiers or someone else (possibly Iraqi soldiers, as Trump has claimed in a subsequent statement without providing hard evidence) for this reason.

2) If you thought Trump’s statement was properly structured, then it sounds like he is saying that the soldiers did have the job of bringing money and handing it out, but didn’t do that job.

Only time will tell whether or not Trump’s statement, along with his endorsement of pro-amnesty North Carolina representative Renee Ellmers in her failed bid to win the Republican nomination in her bid for re-election, will hurt his numbers in the general election.

After all, what else would you expect when you make statements contrary to the beliefs of the GOP base, which is unabashedly pro-military?

If you support Trump, you should be very worried right now, as you probably don’t want to take time to make sure he doesn’t stray from your positions after all this time.

If you oppose him, you should be crossing your fingers and hoping that the Trump supporters don’t take action even if they are very worried.

Regardless, the Trump Saga continues…

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: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Background Checks Don’t Work. Why? Blame The Bureaucracy

In light of the recent terrorist attack in Orlando, one subject has dominated American political discourse: the subject of gun control.

One of the most common arguments made by advocates of gun control is that we need better background checks.

While in some cases that may be true, as loopholes do exist in current federal gun laws that allow criminals to obtain their weapons (such as dealer license exemptions for gun sellers who sell weapons for the purpose of buyers collecting them as hobbies), the goal of reducing gun violence through mandated background checks will be virtually impossible to achieve through legislation alone.

There is a second, much more serious problem that would need to be addressed prior to the passing of any new laws, and that is an incompetent bureaucracy.

Per the Daily Beast:

“…(Omar) Mateen had purchased a Sig Sauer .223 caliber assault rifle at a firearms shop near his Florida home, St. Lucie Gun Sales, on June 4 and then a Glock 17 at the same store on June 5. Mateen had returned to the store a third time on June 9 to buy magazines for his weapons. The store is a federally licensed firearms dealer. Under law, the seller would have had to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Mateen’s purchase so that his name could be checked against the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.

Mateen was actually listed on two federal watch lists, a U.S. official tells The Daily Beast: The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which contains classified information, and the Terrorist Screening Database, which is the FBI’s central watchlist. The gun background check would have run Mateen’s name against that second database, but he had been removed from it in 2014. The sales were approved and early Sunday morning he used the weapons to fire round after round after round at defenseless people at the Pulse nightclub. Mateen left a third weapon, a revolver capable of firing only a mere six shots, in his van.

An FBI spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether the gun seller made the required check. However, it’s unlikely it would have raised any red flags.”

Assuming that the gun seller did make the required check, it would have been impossible for him or her to have received any information regarding terrorism-related investigations, as Mateen had been removed from the TSD, and the TIDE would have been inaccessible due to its possession of classified information.

This right here should be a red flag.

According to the National Counterterrorism Center:

“Each day analysts create and enhance TIDE records based on their review of nominations received. Every evening, TIDE analysts export a sensitive but unclassified subset of the data containing the terrorist identifiers to the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) for use in the USG’s consolidated watchlist.”

In other words, there are two possibilities explaining the fact that the FBI did not keep investigating Mateen after 2014: either it ignored unclassified subsets of data regarding him that was forwarded by TIDE, or TIDE kept Mateen’s files as classified information. Either one of those possibilities reflects poorly on the state of our bureaucracy, and are problems that need to be remedied as soon as possible.

I’m not a government insider, so I have no proof as to why this breakdown in communication between different federal agencies has occurred, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was just another instance of agency rivalry, which has been a defining factor in relations between federal agencies (particularly the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA) for decades.

This factor is perhaps best summed up in Mark Riebling’s book Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, which highlights examples of national traumas that could have turned out differently if cooperation had existed, from Pearl Harbor to the McCarthy investigations to the mishandling of Soviet spies and defectors to the JFK assassination to Watergate to 9/11.

This book was first published in 1994 (an extended edition was later published in 2002), but if the events of the last few days have proven anything, perhaps little, if anything at all, has changed regarding this matter over the last 22 years.

I have one question to ask: How many more people must die before we take action to reform our bureaucracy?

If we are to have gun laws, or any laws for that matter, we must make sure they are enforced properly before we take action to create new legislation.

It is not enough that the legislative branch works to keep us safe.

The executive branch must do its part as well.

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: mrwynd/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

New Numbers Show Why Bernie Sanders Really Could Swing The Election To Trump

Back in May, I posted an article here on RISE NEWS discussing whether or nor Bernie Sanders could spoil the election for Hillary Clinton.

But things have changed from May to now.

In the May article, I stated the following:

“According to a poll jointly conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News that was published on Tuesday, 31% of Sanders supporters say they may not or will not support Clinton in the general election. 64.5% of that 31% (or 20% of all Sanders supporters) say that they will vote for Trump.

When you take into account that 43.4% of all Democrats support Sanders (according to the latest RealClearPolitics average), this translates into 13.5% of all Democrats refusing to vote for Clinton, and 8.7% of all Democrats voting for Trump.

And remember, this poll was taken before the convention, whose outcome is now going to be determined by superdelegates, because of how close the race has been.”

The above information was posted prior to a series of developments that have since taken place, and are likely to make Clinton’s problems with Sanders supporters worse, despite the fact that all the primaries are finished and Sanders is reportedly expected to endorse Clinton prior to the convention despite being within range of clinching the nomination through superdelegates.

There are three developments in particular that stand out for me.

It is still an open question as to whether young voters who supported Sanders will  come around to Clinton. Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It is still an open question as to whether young voters who supported Sanders will come around to Clinton. Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The first is the leak of a memo from the servers of the Democratic National Committee by a hacker called “Gufficer 2.0,” which points to the idea that the DNC had been secretly backing Clinton all along, as Sanders has previously claimed.

Since this leak took place, Clinton’s standing among Sanders supporters have only worsened.

As of June 22, the percentage of Sanders supporters that may not or will not support Clinton has shot up from 31% to 45%. 48.9% of that 45% (or 22% of all Sanders supporters) say that they will vote for Donald Trump.

40% of that 45% (or 18% of all Sanders supporters) say that they will vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

When you take into account that 41.4% of all Democrats support Sanders (according to the latest RealClearPolitics average), this translates into 18.6% of all Democrats refusing to vote for Clinton, 9.1% of all Democrats voting for Trump, and 7.5% of all Democrats voting for Johnson.

The second development is the recent decisions by the FBI and the Department of Justice to not indict Hillary Clinton over her alleged mishandling of government emails while serving as Secretary of State.

Given that the announcements were made just after former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, accusations of a rigged system have increased.

Notable and influential Sanders supporters such as Rosario Dawson, Shaun King, and Mark Ruffalo have openly denounced the outcome of the FBI’s investigation of Clinton on Twitter, and I have seen friends of mine do the same on social media.

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This development actually took place after the most recent poll on Sanders supporters was released, so expect the percentage of supporters who are disillusioned to go up further.

The third development is the alleged report that presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein is considering allowing Sanders to take her place and continuing his run after the Democratic National Convention.

Although it is not yet known how much such a move (Sanders still hasn’t endorsed Clinton yet, so anything can still happen until he does) would affect Clinton’s presidential chances, it would be wise for Clinton to make sure she doesn’t find out, especially given other recent events.

At the end of my May article, I stated that an opportunity awaits for both Clinton and Trump to make something out of a scenario that could make or break them. I reaffirm that belief, and say that it is now more apparent than ever.

If you are politically active, I suggest that you work to make sure the best is made out of this situation for your candidate.

After all, good candidates listen to their bases!

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: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Forget the Judge Curiel Comments. This Is What Could Hurt Donald Trump In The Long Run.

As many of you may know, over the last few days Donald Trump has been the subject of media scrutiny after he claimed that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican ancestry will result in him having a bias against Trump when he presides over a case related to Trump University this fall.

Regardless of what your opinion is on this issue, it may not matter in the coming months.

I’m saying this because it won’t change Trump’s overall reputation (which was established well before those comments were made).

I’m also saying this because right around the same time, Trump made another decision that could well damage his reputation with his own support base (something that his “Judge Curiel” comments will not and never do).

On June 4, Trump made his first Congressional endorsement, and it was for Republican Congresswoman from North Carolina Renee Ellmers, who was facing a serious primary challenge in her district.

Why would this damage Trump’s reputation among his support base?

Well, let’s take a look at Ellmers’ background.

Per Conservative Review, a website that keeps track of votes cast by members of Congress to show how conservative or liberal they are:


Budget, Spending, & Debt

  • Ellmers has voted to raise the debt ceiling two times for a total of $2.405 trillion. One of those votes was in favor of the largest increase in the debt ceiling in American history. (
  • Ellmers not only supported the Budget Control Act of 2011 that increased the debt limit, she also helped whip support for the deal, saying “It’s not 100 percent of what many of our very conservative colleagues want, but it is about 70-75 percent. This is not about who’s the most conservative. This is about common sense.” (Modesto Bee)
  • Ellmers defended raising the debt ceiling without sufficient corresponding cuts by saying, “Sure we added to the deficit … But that vote was all about getting our bills paid.” (The Daily Haymaker)

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Foreign Policy & Defense

  • Ellmers supported U.S. military intervention in Libya. “The violence against the people of Libya by Muammar Qadhafi is unacceptable, and it must end. The United States stands with those who seek freedom in that country and around the world.” (Politico)

Free Market

  • Ellmers supports reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, claiming the Bank helps to “create American jobs and expand our trade. The Export-Import Bank is a key driver in re-building the US workforce in industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas, aerospace, agriculture machinery and mining … It would be foolish to discontinue the US Export-Import Bank when our economy needs all of the help it can get. Our foreign competitors would simply fill the void and use their own rapidly expanding export import banks to finance deals for their own industries, putting our companies at competitive disadvantage and jeopardizing American jobs. I will continue to fight for free market policies that protect our job creators and protect American taxpayers from unnecessary burdens.” (

Health Care & Entitlements

  • Ellmers has given up on the fight to repeal Obamacare, focusing instead on reforming the law. She claims her shift is due to people getting used to the law. “I don’t want to make it seem as if we’re just taking it away and there’s not going to be something there to replace it.” (CQ)
  • In 2013, Ellmers opposed the defund Obamacare strategy, claiming it wouldn’t achieve the stated goals. “Should we stop #Obamacare? YES! But @Heritage_Action’s strategy w/ Continuing Resolution is WRONG … Common Sense says defunding 3 months of HHS admin costs will not kill this impending economic disaster of a law.” (Twitter) In 2011, Ellmers was an enthusiastic supporter of the maneuver (National Journal).
  • During the 2013 government shutdown, Ellmers charged conservative groups like Heritage Action for America with using the defund Obamacare fight as a fundraising tool, without having the best interests of the Republican Party at heart. “Those groups only care about raising money, they want Reps back in the minority in the House.” (Twitter)
  • Ellmers supported a move by leadership to sidestep concerns over a “doc fix” bill, which would have exploded Medicare spending. Leadership brought the bill to a vote on the House floor without warning, allowing it to pass by voice vote with only a few members present. In their defense, Ellmers said, “I do believe that leadership was just as frustrated as members were on this issue. It was just a bad situation. I just hope that moving forward we can do a better job.” (Roll Call)


  • Ellmers favors legalizing illegal immigrants already in the U.S. “If an individual wants to come to this country to work, to provide for his family and contribute to his community, he should be allowed to do so. Our focus should be on his intent, not his circumstance … We must also acknowledge that these people have lived in our communities for years and are a vital part of many farms and businesses right here in the 2nd District … The best course of action is one that provides an earned legal work status that would not be given indiscriminately. Instead, it would be contingent on some combination of paying a penalty, admitting to violating the law, and verifying identity. Only after this legal work status is obtained can individuals have the opportunity to begin the naturalization process … This is about solving a problem that can be fixed only through a responsible and realistic approach.” (Fayetteville Observer)
  • Ellmers opposes the idea of self-deportation, saying, “It is not practical, it is not common sense, to assume that 11 or 12 … million people are simply going to pick up and leave our country. It is not possible because they have built their lives here, they have built their families here.” (News & Observer)

Moral Issues

  • Ellmers opposed a 2011 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, calling the legislation too broad by including civil unions. Ellmers supports civil unions between same-sex couples. (The Hill)
  • Ellmers led the opposition to the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks (Washington Post). After removing her name as a cosponsor of the bill, Ellmers whipped opposition to its passage, claiming her change of heart was politically motivated. “I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up next week … We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we’re moving forward. The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials — social issues just aren’t as important [to them].” (National Journal)
  • Ellmers has said that her male colleagues are better equipped to discuss certain policy issues, and that they should be mindful of making sure to speak on a level that woman will understand. “Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that … We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go.” (MSNBC)
  • Ellmers is at the center of rumors swirling around Washington alleging she carried on a years-long affair with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Many suspect the letter pushed McCarthy to withdraw from the race for Speaker of the House. (Roll Call)

Political & Electoral

        • Ellmers is a loyal defender of John Boehner’s (R-OH) bona fides as a conservative. She has said that before coming to Washington she believed Speaker Boehner and his leadership team did nothing to stand up to Democrats, but “when I got here I realized that wasn’t the case at all. I was told he wasn’t conservative. He is conservative. And that’s what I tell other people in our discussion.” (The New York Times)
        • Speaker Boehner has returned the favor, singing Ellmers’s praises: “Renee has made quite an impact in our conference and in her freshman class because she speaks her mind and doesn’t get bogged down in the political games that often grip Washington. I am proud of the work she has done and know that because of her conservative, commonsense values, she will continue to play a leadership role.” (The New York Times)
        • Ellmers has also claimed self-preservation as rationale for her support for Speaker Boehner, telling constituents back home, “Look. He’s [Speaker Boehner] my boss. How successful am I going to be at work if I am always causing problems for the boss?” Upon realizing her misstep, Ellmers attempted to explain. “Actually, you folks are my boss. Still — we have a lot of important issues facing the country. How are we going to get ANYTHING done in Washington without working together?” (The Daily Haymaker)”These positions make her sound fairly liberal for a Republican, don’t they? Many Trump supporters seem to think so. I know, because I have read the comment sections in articles on the matter on conservative websites such as Breitbart. Ellmers’ positions on immigration in particular sound like they would repulse Trump supporters. So, why did Trump endorse her? Trump himself has stated that he needs her help to pass his agenda through Congress, but some believe the real reason may be related to the fact that she was the first woman in Congress to endorse him.

In that case, Trump apparently endorsed a politician who doesn’t share his political views in order to help his campaign. For a candidat who rails against the political class, he doesn’t sound too much different than them here. But the question is, will it help is campaign? Looking at the comments in articles on the matter on sites such as Breitbart, I highly doubt it.

Some supporters have even gone as far as saying that he has lost their vote over this.

If you are a Trump supporter, you should be hoping that Trump does not repeat this move in the future.Considering that Ellmers lost the primary, it is now apparent that Trump’s endorsement does not guarantee a win.

He is not infallible, and if he expects to win, he needs to learn his lessons fast.

Conversely, if you oppose Trump, you should be crossing your fingers that he does repeat this move. This can be a game changer, whether he realizes it or not.

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: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Muhammad Ali And The Gold Medal

If you have been paying attention to the news in the slightest over the last three days or so, you are aware that the professional boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died.

Earlier today, as I was looking through the comment sections of news stories about his death, I read a comment about how he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Hudson River. It seemed like a silly claim. This prompted me to do a little research on the subject.

Here is what I found.

The following is a passage from Ali’s 2004 autobiography, The Soul of a Butterfly:

“There comes a time in every person’s life when he has to choose the course his life will take. On my journey I have found that the path to self-discovery is the most liberating choice of all.

My Olympic gold medal meant so much to me. It was a symbol of what I had accomplished for myself and for my country. Although I still experienced some of the same racial discrimination that I always had, my spirits were so high that I thought all of that would change.

A Kentucky newspaper wrote that my gold medal was the greatest prize any Black boy ever brought home to Louisville. I was proud, but I remember thinking at the time, if any White boy ever brought back anything greater, I sure didn’t hear about it. It seemed that I had become Louisville’s Black “Great White Hope.” I expected my gold medal to achieve something greater for me. During my first few days home, it seemed to accomplish exactly what I hoped, but soon I had a rude awakening.

I was sure they were finally going to let me eat downtown. In those days almost every restaurant, hotel, and movie theater in Louisville and the entire South was either closed to Blacks, or had segregated sections. But I thought that my medal would open them up to me.

One day my friend Ronnie and I were riding our motor bikes around downtown Louisville, when it began to rain. We parked and walked into a little restaurant, where we sat down and ordered two cheeseburgers and two vanilla milk shakes.

I was so proud, sitting there with my gold medal around my neck. (I wore it everywhere in those days.) The waitress looked at both of us and said, “We don’t serve Negroes.”

I politely replied, “Well, we don’t eat them either.”

I told her I was Cassius Clay, the Olympic Champion. Ronnie pointed to my gold medal.

Then the waitress looked me over again and went to the back, to speak with the manager. Ronnie and I could see them huddled over, talking and looking back at us.

We were sure that now that they knew who I was we would be able to stay and eat, but when the waitress came back, she said that she was sorry, but we had to leave.

As Ronnie and I stood up and walked out of the door, my heart was pounding. I wanted my medal to mean something-the mayor had said it was the key to Louisville. It was supposed to mean freedom and equality. I wanted to tell them all that they should be ashamed. I wanted to tell them that this was supposed to be the land of the free. As I got up and walked out of that restaurant, I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking that

I just wanted America to be America.

I had won the gold medal for America, but I still couldn’t eat in this restaurant in my hometown, the town where they all knew my name, where I was born in General Hospital only a few blocks away. I couldn’t eat in the town where I was raised, where I went to church and led a Christian life. I still couldn’t eat in a restaurant in the town where I went to school and helped the nuns clean the school. Now I had won the gold medal.

But it didn’t mean anything, because I didn’t have the right color skin.

Ronnie wanted me to call one of the millionaires from my sponsoring group and tell them what happened, and I almost did, but more than anything, I wanted that medal to mean that I was my own man and would be respected and treated like any other human being. Then I realized that even if it had been my “Key to the City,” if it could get only me into the “White only” place, then what good was it? What about other Black people?

Later I realized that it was part of God’s plan for me that they wouldn’t serve me that day. Before I was kicked out of the restaurant, I was thinking what the medal could mean for me. The more I thought about it, the more I began to see that if that medal didn’t mean equality for all, it didn’t mean anything at all.

What I remember most about 1960 was the first time I took my gold medal off. From that moment on, I have never placed great value on material things. What really matters is how you feel about yourself. If I had kept that medal I would have lost my pride.

Over the years I have told some people I had lost it, but no one ever found it. That’s because I lost it on purpose. The world should know the truth-it’s somewhere at the bottom of the Ohio River.”

There is dispute as to whether or not this story was merely apocryphal, as some reports claim that during his lifetime, Ali privately claimed to friends that the medal had merely been misplaced. This claim has been backed up by friends such as fellow boxer Bundini Brown, as well as Ali biographer Thomas Hauser.

Which story is true? We may never know. But you can be the judge. Do your own homework, and feel free to comment below!

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: Thomas Leuthard/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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