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.

It’s Time For The U.S. To Do More About The Refugee Crisis

Earlier this month, the photograph of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned trying to flee to Greece with his brother and mother, horrified the world and focused its attention on the ongoing refugee crisis in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

Since the Syrian Civil War started nearly five years ago, more than 210,000 Syrians have been killed, and an estimated 10 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country or in camps in neighboring countries. As the Syrian Refugee crisis worsens and now spreads to Europe, many now question what the responsibility of the western world is in helping to resolve both the refugee crisis and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Many nations and world leaders have attempted to lend aid to refugees seeking asylum. Turkey has taken in over 1.9 million refugees who have fled the conflict in Syria. Another 1.1 million have fled to Lebanon, nearly 637,000 have been taken in by Jordan, and Germany is expected to take in 800,000 refugees by the end of the year.

While many have been welcoming to the refugees, many throughout Europe have come out viscerally against accepting refugees. The Prime Minister of Slovakia has refused to accept any refugees and while a spokesperson for the Hungarian Government said they would abide resettlement of refuges, the government has also constructed a 109-mile razor tipped fence around its border to keep migrants out of their country.

Meanwhile the United States has accepted 1,500 refugees thus far and is preparing to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees. This figure would be allocated out of a U.S. quota of 75,000 total refugee admissions slated for the next fiscal year. Many Americans; however, fear that even this is too many. Congressional Republicans have raised concerns for months over the possibility that Syrian extremists, including ISIS sympathizers, could enter the country passing themselves off as refugees.

It is understandable that when the world is faced with a horrific crisis, that fear seizes the hearts of many. Undeniably, there are challenges when meeting a crisis of this magnitude. While the future is unclear; however, history is always there to guide us.

History most clearly remembers actions, or the lack there of. Following Kristallnacht, thousands of Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria fled to the United States trying to escape the growing shadow of Nazism. Then as now, the conflict seemed to many Americans to be a distant one and none of our affairs. Then as now, many people feared what would happen if we accepted these refugees in the wake of the nation’s economic turmoil. Ultimately the United States never increased its quotas for refugees, and as a result many lives that could have been saved were lost.

We are once again faced as a nation with people seeking refuge from a faraway conflict. Men, women, and children all hoping to find peace and mercy in a world that they know is far too often chaotic and unmerciful. We can either chose to commit the same mistake twice, or we can act like the world leader that we truly want to be.

Cover Photo Credit: Takver/Flickr (CC by SA-2.0)

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Adapt or Die: The GOP Should Embrace Gay Marriage So They Can Stay Politically Relevant To Young People

In June, same sex marriage advocates won a major victory when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had a right to marry in all 50 states. The ruling was a major step forward for the LGBT community and has become a massive political powder keg for the Republican Party.

As the GOP primaries continue, many conservative leaders and presidential hopefuls have come out strongly against the Supreme Court decision in the hope of striking a chord with the religious right.

Mike Huckabee has repeatedly denounced the Supreme Court decision, going as far as to compare the Supreme Court to King George III. Huckabee was also present when Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk imprisoned for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was released from prison and has vowed to protect Davis’ constitutional rights.

Although Huckabee has been one of the most vocal in his outrage against the Supreme Court’s decision, he is far from the only opponent.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has said that the ruling “tramples states rights” and that “no earthly court” can alter God’s will. Sen. Ted Cruz also came out against the ruling, going as far as proposing a constitutional amendment that would make justices subject to “periodic judicial retention elections”.

Although statements such as these may prove to resonate amongst the conservative base of the party, the statistics prove that they are out of touch with the viewpoint held by the majority of Americans. According to research done by the Pew Research Center, 57% of Americans now favor making same-sex marriage legal. Among millennials this number increases to nearly 73%.

So why do so many Republicans still come out so staunchly against or apathetical to same sex marriage? To understand this political paradox, one need only remember that we are in the middle of the Republican primaries.

The party finds itself at the same crossroad that the Democrats were at during the 1960’s. The party was torn between the traditional Southern Democrats who stood opposed to Civil Rights, and New Deal Progressives who were adapting to meet the demands of the American people.

In politics as in nature, the side that most often wins is the side that is most capable of adapting to the new political environment. The more inclusive any political movement is and the more receptive it is to change, the more likely that political movement is to grow in size and strength. Those who oppose this change in favor of exclusive and absolutist politics more often than not will find themselves facing extinction, and relegation to the waste bin of history.

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Cover Photo Credit: Michael Vadon/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Philadelphia Braces For Super Bowl Levels Of Mobile Usage When Pope Francis Comes To Town

Preparations are underway as civic and religious leaders in New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia all prepare for the arrival of Pope Francis next week.

This visit will be Pope Francis’ first ever trip to the United States. The New York Times quoted Cardinal Timothy Dolan talking about Francis’ feelings about the trip.

“He’s a little nervous about coming,” Dolan told the Times. “Not that he lacks any confidence in the reception of friendship that he knows he’ll get, but he readily admits he has never been to the United States.”

Social media platforms and wireless carriers anticipate that web activity related to the Pope’s three day visit will generate roughly the same web traffic as the super bowl.

A single closing mass in Philadelphia is expected to draw more than one million attendants, according to the Associated Press.

Wireless carriers have brought in portable cell towers in an attempt to increase capacity for the social media frenzy surrounding the Pope’s visit. Bishops in all three cities have been receiving a crash course in social media and live streaming events. Comcast, the cable giant headquartered out of Philadelphia, has even offered free Wi-Fi to try and ease the data strain expected to surround Pope Francis’ visit.

Pope Francis will spend roughly five days in the United States. In this time the Pope will meet with President Obama and address members of the Congress, following which he will meet with many of the poor and homeless clients of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Pope will also make an address before the United Nations General Assembly. During the trip Francis is expected to focus on the rights and the needs of the poor, as well as the responsibilities of the United States as a global super power.

The United States will be the fifteenth country that Pope Francis has visited since being named the Supreme Pontiff.

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Photo Credit: nitin raj srivastava/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

New Human Ancestor Discovered in South Africa

By Kyle Jones

Scientists have discovered 15 partial skeletons belonging to a new human-like species in a burial chamber deep inside a South African cave system.

The discovery of so many partial skeletons is the single largest discovery of its type in Africa.

Researchers have named the newly discovered species naledi, and have classified it within the grouping, or genus, Homo. This is the same genus to which modern day humans belong.

The skeletal remains have not yet been carbon dated, but Professor Lee Burger who led the exhibition believes that Homo naledi could be among the first species within our genus. This means that the species could have lived up to 3 million years ago.

H. naledi was exceptionally tall, standing at around 150 centimeters (5 Feet) with well-muscled joints. Its skull is similar in shape to modern day humans, except for a pronounced brow and a much smaller brain cavity.

The large number of skeletal remains found in the cave has led the scientific team who discovered the new species to believe that the cave was used by H. naledi for ritualistic burial. If proven true, than this would be the earliest known example of ritual burial.

Further study of the fossil remains is required. Researchers agree; however, that the discovery is a significant finding in the scientific understanding of ancient human ancestors.


Cover Photo Credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

63 Years, 217 Days: Queen Elizabeth Becomes UK’s Longest Reigning Monarch

By Kyle Jones

As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday BST, Queen Elizabeth II officially entered history as the UK’s longest reigning monarch, surpassing the reign of her great grandmother Queen Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in February 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI.

The queen has avoided any formal ceremony and instead spent the day by marking the opening of the new Borders to Edinburgh railway with her husband, Prince Philip. In a short speech the queen stated, “Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones – my own is no exception – but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness.”

In a special address to Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the queen’s many years of service stating-

“I do think it is right that today we should stop and take a moment as a nation to mark this historic milestone – and to thank Her Majesty for the extraordinary service she has given to our country over more than six decades.

Her Majesty the Queen inspires us all with her incredible service, her dignified leadership and the extraordinary grace with which she carries out her duties.”

Queen Elizabeth II has been on the British throne for 63 years and 217 days.

Cover Photo Credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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