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About the Author
Kyle 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.

BEN Times: Carson Campaign Collapses All Around Him

Some twenty of Ben Carson’s top aides resigned last Thursday, throwing Carson’s campaign into turmoil with less than a month before the Iowa Caucuses.

According to CNN, Carson’s campaign manager Berry Bennet, deputy campaign manager Lisa Coen, and communications director Doug Watts all resigned following speculation of a staff shake-up.

The Carson campaign has been dogged for months by internal conflict and rumors of personnel change. According to Reuters, Bennet said his resignation was due to differences with another top adviser to Carson, Armstrong Williams.

Bennet blamed Williams for an interview given by Carson to the Washington Post in which Carson spoke openly about the problems in his own campaign, as well as a number of articles detailing Carson’s weakness on foreign policy.

“It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a candidate do,” Bennett said.

Williams has blamed Bennett as well as former communications director Doug Watts for not adequately preparing Carson for public appearances, and said that they chose to leave Carson’s campaign over being fired. Carson and Williams have both stated their belief that a change in campaign staff will reinvigorate the neurosurgeon’s campaign.

According to Politico, Robert Dees, a Carson foreign policy advisor and retired Army general, will now chair the campaign, filling another leadership role that’s been vacant for months. It is still unclear who will fill the newly vacated positions, but it is widely speculated that veteran campaign strategist Ed Brookover may fill the position of campaign manager.

Carson was in stiff competition with businessman Donald Trump for the position of GOP front runner in mid-October. Carson has since fallen to a distant fourth place behind Trump, Texas senator Ted Cruz, and Florida senator Marco Rubio in most national polls over concerns surrounding his lack of experience in foreign policy.

Williams stated his belief that Dees’ foreign policy and national security experience will be a vital asset to the Carson campaign and that his leadership will help to reinvigorate it.

If Dees does take over as chairman of Carson’s campaign, the decision may come with some degree of controversy.

In the former army general’s 2014 book, “Resilient Nations”, Dees argued that the greatest threat to the United States isn’t an external threat but rather the loss of the nation’s “spiritual infrastructure.”

In 2014 Dees also stated in an interview, “trying to appease the Muslim religion by saying that they are a peace-loving religion is problematic,” and that, “they need to demonstrate how their religion does not lead people to a final end state of violence and oppression.”

Despite sliding poll numbers and internal conflict, Carson’s campaign on Wednesday announced that it had raised an impressive $23 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. With the Iowa Caucuses only a month away, time alone will tell whether this staff-shake up will be a fresh start for the Carson campaign or the beginning of its end.

Cover Photo Credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Unlucky History Of Friday The 13th And Why Some Of Us Fear It

It’s that special day of the year again. This Friday will be the 3rd and final Friday the 13th of the year.

Like black cats and broken mirrors, the day has become synonymous with bad luck and dread in western culture.

According to NPR, fear of Friday the 13th is an actual clinical condition called paraskevidekatriaphobia.

People suffering from this condition fear the day so much that some actually refuse to fly, make business decisions, or even spend a lot of money on this most inauspicious of days.

According to National Geographic, “It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they normally would do.”

But this begs the question, why?

Accounts vary greatly as to the origins of the superstition of Friday the 13th. Some historians claim that the superstition surrounding the day most likely originated during the Middle Ages and may even have Biblical origins, according to the Telegraph.

One of the most popular legends surrounding the misfortune of Friday the 13th involves the events of Friday October 13th, 1307.

It was on this day that King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest and execution of all those associated with the Knights Templar to avoid having to pay back the massive financial debt he owed to the knightly order.

This legend was popularized when it was referenced in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code.

Prior to this; however, Friday and the number 13 were both considered to unlucky. Geoffrey Chaucer referenced the belief that it was bad luck to start a journey or a project on a Friday in the Canterbury Tales.

In Christian tradition, Good Friday is remembered as the day when Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars actually claim that the crucifixion of Jesus actually took place on Friday the 13th.

The number 13 has also been considered unlucky in western culture since antiquity. A Norse myth told of a dinner party for 12 gods at which Loki, 13th guest, showed up and shot the god of joy and happiness according to Livescience. A similar belief exists that Judas the betrayer, was the 13th person to arrive at the last supper.

Today, Friday the 13th is most commonly associated with the Friday the 13th movie franchise.

But whether you’re talking about dead Templars or dead camp counselors, Friday the 13th continues to capture the imagination and hold a special place in western superstition.

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Cover Photo Credit: Ed Schipul/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Catalonian and Spanish Leadership Clash Over Secession Plan

This past Monday, the Parliament of Catalonia approved a resolution formally calling for the creation of a Catalonian state independent from Spain.

Separatist MPs representing the Together for Yes (JPS) coalition and the anti-austerity Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), used their majority to pass legislation pledging a “disconnection from the Spanish state” in favor of the “beginning of the process toward the creation of an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic” as reported by the Guardian.

The measure passed in the parliament by a vote of 72-63. The measure calls for the creation of a framework for the formal independence of Catalonia by the year 2017.

On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy harshly criticized the separatist movement saying that the measure was an attack on Spanish Sovereignty and Democracy.

“We’re talking about the defense of an entire country,” Rajoy said. “They are trying to liquidate the unity of a nation with more than five centuries of history.”

The Spanish Government has called upon the Constitutional Court to suspend the separatist resolution while the measure is being studied, and has warned Catalonian leadership not to take any further steps towards secession according to the Associated Press.

A young boy holds the flag associated with Catalonian Independence. Photo Credit: Joan Sorolla/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A young boy holds the flag associated with Catalonian Independence. Photo Credit: Joan Sorolla/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The resolution passed by the Catalonian Parliament on Monday exempts regional officials from having to obey the Constitutional Court or other Spanish institutions. The measure also authorizes MPs to begin drafting a Catalan constitution as well as creating tax-collecting and social security systems within the region.

According to Spanish law; however, Catalan leadership who disregard a possible court order against the resolution could face charges of disobedience, punishable by removal from office for up to two years and heavy fines.

The issue of Catalan independence is hardly new. The modern Catalan Separatist movement was formed following the repression of Catalan culture and language during the regime of General Francisco Franco.

Catalonia enjoys the greatest level of self-governance that it has enjoyed since backing the Bourbon dynasty came to power three centuries ago, according to John Hopkins University.

Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions in Spain, representing nearly a fifth of Spain’s economic output. Initial polls show that the majority of Catalan’s support a referendum on independence, but are divided on the viability of an independent Catalan state.

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Cover Photo Credit: Andrew Crump/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Scientists May Have Found Evidence Of An Alternate Universe. Seriously

Scientists claim that they may have just found evidence of the existence of an alternate universe.

The discovery was made while mapping the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is the left over light from the early universe.

Ranga-Ram Chary, an astrophysicist at the European Space Agency’s Planck Space Telescope data center at Caltech, discovered while studying the CMB that certain light spots were glowing 4,500 times brighter than expected, as reported by Russia Today (RT).

According the International Business Times, Chary has said that while there is a 30% chance the fluctuations are nothing unusual, there is also the possibility they provide evidence of a collision of our Universe with an alternate Universe.

Read More: Someone Vandalized Netflix In The Greatest Way Possible

This sort of collision should be possible, according to modern cosmological theories that suggest the universe we see is just one bubble among many, according to New Scientist.

“Our universe may simply be a region within an eternally inflating super-region,” Chary wrote in a recent study. “Many other regions beyond our observable universe would exist with each such region governed by a different set of physical parameters.”

The multiverse theory has been based on the widely accepted idea of cosmic inflation, which suggests that the early universe expanded exponentially in an instant following the explosion of the Big Bang. Theoretically the inflation would continue until multiple universes are ultimately created.

Read More: Florida State Rep. Shares Facebook Photo That Questions Obama’s Christianity

Although the initial findings have proved promising, verification of the anomalies as evidence of an alternate universe could prove to be difficult.

Chary himself noted that, “Unusual claims like evidence for alternate universes require a very high burden of proof.”

Further analysis of the data collected will be required in order to prove or disprove Chary’s potential discovery.

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Cover Photo Credit: Sweetie187/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Pope Francis Announces Visit to Mexico in Early February

Pope Francis has announced that he will make his first official visit to Mexico as the Pontiff in February of 2016.

Vatican officials have confirmed that the pope will arrive in Mexico for his eight-day trip on February 12th. Pope Francis had hoped to be able to visit Mexico earlier this year prior to visiting the United States, but was unable to due to scheduling conflicts.

While in Mexico, the pope is expected to address issues such as poverty, organized crime, violence, and discrimination against migrants trying to find a better a better life.

Official details of the papal visit have not yet been released.

Archbishop Norberto Carrera of the Archdiocese of Mexico City; however, has confirmed that the pope will be meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto and will visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It has also been rumored that the Pope is considering visiting sites along the Mexican border with the US to see where some migrants cross illegally into the United States.

Mexican political leaders have been enthusiastic about Pope Francis’ visit since church officials first announced the trip earlier last month. Many politicians have invited the Pope to visit specific states, and address the National Congress.

Church officials have said it is unlikely that the pope will address the Congress, and have denounced the enthusiasm and the “decadence of the political class” who only wish to capitalize on Pope Francis’ popularity among the more than 80% of Mexican citizens who are Roman Catholic.

In addition to his visit to Mexico, Pope Francis has also expressed his desire to visit Argentina, Uruguay and Chile during 2016. The last papal visit to Mexico was taken by Pope Benedict XVI in March 2012.

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Cover Photo Credit: pml2008/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Controversial Tax Credit Cut Divides British Parliament And Society

Conservative MP’s in the British House of Commons have come under fire in recent days following a controversial measure which would cut tax credits for many middle and lower income British citizens.

Earlier this month the House of Commons passed a controversial measure proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; (equivalent to Treasury Secretary) George Osbourne, that would cut an estimated £4.5 billion in tax credits to lower income British citizens.

In a major political defeat, the traditionally ceremonial House of Lords blocked the government supported tax cuts in what has been dubbed by some Conservatives as a “Constitutional Crisis.”

Peers in the upper house voted by a majority of 17 to back the opposition Labour Party’s calls for the government to provide full redress to tax credit claimants who would be affected when their entitlements are reduced; as well as, a delay in implementation of the tax credit cuts until the government has effectively assessed the full financial impact of the measure.

The tax credits were introduced by the previous Labour Government as a way to encourage work and give aid to low income British workers and families with children.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the average tax credit family-single earner family with children- would lose an estimated £1,000 annually as a result of the cuts.

Prime Minister Cameron defended the cuts during last Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, stating that any cuts not made to tax credits would have to be made to the police or the NHS.  The Prime Minister also stated his belief that the average family families will still be better off by 2017, as a result of the introduction of the National Living Wage.

In an interview with the BBC, Chancellor Osborne agreed to listen to people’s concerns and announce any modifications to the plan in November. The Chancellor maintained his belief; however, that reforms to the tax credit system were necessary to strengthen the British economy and provide economic security to families in the long run.

“If we have uncontrolled welfare bills, uncontrolled tax credit bills and the like, there will be no security for working families,” Osborne said.

The cuts were supported by David Cameron and a majority of Conservatives in the House of Commons; however, a number of Conservatives publicly challenged the measure.

Welsh Conservative Leader, Andrew Davies, stated that he supported the idea behind the reform but said he could not support the timing of the cuts insisting that the cuts should be phased in over a period of time. The majority of Scottish MP’s also raised concerns over the measure including the leader of the Scottish National Party who called the measure, “A daft idea”.

Chancellor Osbourne is expected to announce a modified version to the measure sometime in November. In an interview with the BBC, Chancellor Osborne agreed to listen to people’s  concerns but maintained his belief that reforms to the welfare system were necessary to strengthen the British economy and provide economic security to families in the long run.

“If we have uncontrolled welfare bills, uncontrolled tax credit bills and the like, there will be no security for working families,” Osborne said.

 

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Cover Photo Credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development/ Flick (CC By 2.0)

In The Neighborhood: Bashar Al-Assad makes Surprise Trip to Moscow

For the first time since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a visit to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin. But this time, it was a bit of a surprise, for the US anyway.

Assad flew to Moscow on Tuesday to personally to thank President Putin for Russia’s ongoing military support. The Syrian leader said that Russia’s involvement has stopped “terrorism” from becoming “more widespread and harmful” in Syria.

The Kremlin has stated that it had invited President Assad to visit Moscow, but kept the visit quiet until Wednesday morning when President Assad returned safely to Damascus.

While in Moscow, three rounds of talks were held between Assad and the Russian leadership. The first was a closed meeting between Assad and Putin alone, and the other two included the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministers.

President Putin told Assad that it was his hope that progress on the military front would soon into movement toward a peaceful political solution to the Syrian Civil War.

The Kremlin is likely to use the visit to reinforce its domestic narrative that the intervention in Syria is just and has been effective at fighting the expansion of terrorism throughout the region. Moscow maintains that its intervention in Syria was a common sense move that was designed to roll back international terrorism as a result of what it says is ineffective action from the United States.

Putin has remained hesitant about sending Russian ground forces for fear of an entanglement similar to the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Russia has a combined force of around 50 jets and helicopters inside of Syria protected by Russian marines, as well as military advisers working with the Syrian army. Russian officials claim to have flown over 700 sorties against more than 690 targets in Syria since the air campaign began Sept. 30.

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Religious Tensions Rise As Indian Elections Come To Fore

Last week, India entered the second of five phases of voting for seats within the Indian Parliament.

This is the first major election in India since the conservative Indian People’s Party (BJP); led by Narendra Modi, won a landslide victory in the 2014 General Election. This election is viewed by many as a major test of approval for Modi’s policies as Prime Minister.

In addition to a reflection on Modi’s performance as Prime Minister, this election has taken a much greater significance as religious tension flares throughout the country. The tension comes as a result of conflict between India’s Hindu majority and other religious minorities.

In late September a 50 year old man in northern India was killed in a mob lynching allegedly over rumors that his family had been storing and consuming beef at home. The lynching took place in the state of Uttar Pradesh, one of a number of states that have imposed tightened laws banning cow slaughter and the sale and consumption of beef on religious grounds.

“We would want the BJP to win all the state elections because only then can significant social, political and cultural changes take place in this country,” said RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale.

Uttar Pradesh is a traditional stronghold for the Hindu nationalist group, The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS was founded in 1925 as anti-colonial organization, but since independence has advocated for Hindu first policies in the hopes of uniting the Indian people under the Hindu faith. The RSS is the ideological forerunner to the BJP, and Prime Minister Modi was a volunteer with the RSS during his youth.

In addition to the lynching in the Uttar Pradesh region, the Punjab region of India has also erupted into violent protests by the region’s Sikh population following the destruction of copies of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib – Sikhism’s holy text.

The RSS played a major role in the BJP’s electoral victory in 2014, as a majority of the BJP’s ground volunteers were also members of the RSS. Likewise, the RSS is now running a grassroots campaign to ensure a victory in the upper house of Parliament for the BJP.

“We would want the BJP to win all the state elections because only then can significant social, political and cultural changes take place in this country,” said RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale. “The 2014 election victory should be seen as the starting point of a long term mission.”

Read More: Deep Dive into the issue by Reuters

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Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Russia Carries out Second Day of Airstrikes On Syria

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)

The Facebook Privacy Hoax Just Won’t Die

It’s the hoax that just won’t die. Over the past few weeks, Facebook users may have seen a post or two in their newsfeed warning that the social media giant will institute a fee for users to keep their profiles private.

Facebook officially identified the post as a hoax on Monday.

“While there may be water on Mars, don’t believe everything you read on the internet today. Facebook is free and it always will be. And the thing about copying and pasting a legal notice is just a hoax. Stay safe out there Earthlings!” officials posted as a Facebook status.

The hoax has been in circulation in one variation or another since 2009, and still attracts unsuspecting users who fear that their private posts may soon be made public. The last major circulation of the hoax was in January of this year. Before that the fake post received major circulation in 2012, to which Facebook again denied the fake posts as a hoax.

The privacy of posts on Facebook is guaranteed in the Facebook Terms of Service, which state: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”

Cover Photo Credit: Maria Elena/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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