Politics

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)

Are Millennials For Or Against The Death Penalty?

Last week, the Death Penalty Information Center Three released statistics saying that roughly 23 percent of practicing Christians born between 1980 and 2000 supported the death penalty, and only 32 percent of millennials total supported the death penalty. What was the cause for change? The United States spends millions on convicting and executing criminals on death row, but is that wisely spent? Does the death penalty take care of larger problems such as abuse, or do these problems get worse?

Mark Elliot, the director of Floridians for Alternatives To The Death Penalty, said about costs: “The best estimate is that the death penalty costs us taxpayers an extra fifty million dollars a year. That’s almost a million dollars a week.”

Indeed, a study done by Loyola Law School says that California has spent $4 million on the death penalty ever since reinstating it in 2011, and that costs expect to rise to $9 billion by 2030.

“The cost studies fail because they don’t provide an apples to apples comparison of the death penalty vs LWOP, which is required to make any rational judgement and/or they are very incomplete and/or they are very dishonest, as Nevada’s, wherein they left out 11 executions, which occurred within 4.5 years of appeals, on average, meaning, in reality, the death penalty must be less expensive than life without parole (LWOP) in Nevada,” said Dudley Sharp, former vice president of Justice for All and currently helping run prodeathpenalty.com.

Alive prisoners do need shelter, food and healthcare. So how does money influence what 20-somethings think about the death penalty?

congenitaldisease posted on her tumblr: “It’s a waste of money. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted on a response to murder which is calculated to be carried out on a small amount of unlucky people per year and which has done nothing to stem the rise in murder, which is therefor (sp) ineffective.”

“We are only perpetuating endless cycles of violence upon violence.”

But morals remain one of the key factors determining stances for or against the death penalty. Is assigning death penalty charges to those who commit heinous crimes fix epidemics like abuse?

In the case of Lisa Ann Coleman, when she was granted the death penalty in 2006 for her role in the death of her partner’s nine-year-old, prosecutor Mitch Poe said in a report the day that Coleman was granted the death penalty: “The fact that a female has gotten the death penalty for killing a child, it’s a step forward for bringing child abuse out of the darkness of people’s homes and into the light of day.”

But was he right?

“Well, it doesn’t solve any problems. The only problem it definitely solves are a bunch of problems that local prosecutors and state attorneys may have with funding,” Elliot said.

Sharp has a different sentiment. “My theory, which I find has solid support, is that the root cause of murder is not enough respect for innocent lives. The root causes of crime, and solving those problems, has never been the purpose of sanction and, rationally, never should be….Sanction is based within justice, a proportional response to the crime, which also has the secondary benefits of safety for society, deterrence and reformation of some criminals,” Sharp said.

However, the death penalty is said to have two types of effects.

Nicholas Peterson, an assistant professor at the University of Miami who has written various articles on the death penalty, said in a phone interview: “It’s mainly supposed to be a deterrent in the sense that if you see somebody being executed for a particular crime, that’s supposed to deter you from wanting to make that same kind of crime. It can also be seen as a form of incapacitation, by actually killing somebody, you prevent that individual from committing a crime in the future…so, it’s a little bit of both in theory, but it’s supposed to be more of a deterrent.”

Essentially, seeing someone get killed for something should stop people from going out and doing the same thing. However, Peterson said that various factors such as the influence of drugs or alcohol have people go out and commit violent acts, despite punishment. Mental illness can be another factor, such as with Herbert Mullin, who felt that murdering people would stop earthquakes in California.

But some millennials think the death penalty is a deterrent from the actual problem.

“Violence is committed by those who are trapped in fear and in the most pain. When we add to their pain by committing violence against them, we are only perpetuating endless cycles of violence upon violence,” wrote a Jesse White to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty tumblr.

The way that society sees the death penalty in general could also affect how millennials see it. Pope Francis recently spoke out against the execution of a Georgia inmate named Kelly Renee Gissendaner last Tuesday, asking the Georgia board of pardons and paroles, “I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy.”

It’s obvious that the opinion of a world religious leader may affect the opinions of his followers.

“The main reason a majority of 20-somethings may be against the death penalty (if they are) is because 1) the media is, overwhelmingly, anti death penalty;  2) the majority in academia are anti death penalty;  3) the anti death penalty movement is highly organized and hugely funded; 4) there is no pro death penalty movement,” Dudley Sharp, a pro death penalty advocate wrote in an email to Rise News. “There’s a saying that the more you know about the death penalty, the less you like it, because people find out more about it, that’s the key. Then, if they have the information to make an informed decision. Most of the time, they’ll see that even if they agreed with, you know, the theory of the death penalty, an eye for an eye, but then practiced as a government program, it makes too many mistakes, it’s expensive, and it diverts their most valuable resources from where they could do so much good to protect the public and really improve criminal justice…”

Essentially, the way that a society utilizes the death penalty changes how people see it. Peterson spoke on Europe’s use of the death penalty.

“Just recently until the past couple of decades, they’ve had the death penalty, and because of changes in their laws and in public opinion, they no longer have the death penalty, so to them, it means the death penalty means something very different because it’s no longer an acceptable form of punishment in their society,” Peterson said.

Florida State University Professor Emeritus Gordon Waldo said in a phone interview that out of the 37 countries in the world that use the death penalty, some of them use it mostly for political reasons. “They sometimes just execute people to get rid of the complaints.”

Social context is applicable as well-Waldo also spoke of a period in the ‘70s in the United States where the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional because it was used in a discriminatory manner.

A variety of things can reflect how twenty somethings view the death penalty, from money to ethics to the world around them. Logic behind these stances for or against the death penalty differ from person to person. The most crucial takeaway to determine your stance is to research immensely, be informed and decide accordingly.

Cover Photo Credit: David Shankbone/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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Why We Shouldn’t Fear A China Hegemony

By Kyle Borland

“China owns us.”

We’ve been hearing it our entire lives. For as long as we’ve been alive, it’s been a constant worry that at some point China will ask us to pay our debt. It’s the Millennial equivalent to Baby Boomer’s hiding under their desks.

Given that comparison, it’s obvious that we should fear the rise of the (once) sleeping dragon. To do so, however, is to ignore one very important factor: history. For much of human history, China has been one of the – if not, the – most powerful countries in the world. Until modern times, China was always the richest and most populous country in the world (some things never change). From 1405 to 1433, the Ming Dynasty under the Yongle Emperor financed a navy for exploration and maritime dominance that the world had never seen.

Almost one-hundred years before Columbus set foot in America, China circled the [known] world to show its muscle. If the next emperor hadn’t burned the fleet to the ground and ceased the expeditions – we might all be speaking Chinese.

But, that’s all history. How should we feel about China now? Should we fear the “rise” of today’s China?

The short answer: no.

If the world still operated as it did before American hegemony, than I would say a hard yes. Before American hegemony, any country that could amass a military to rival your own would be worthy of fear. However, American hegemony is different from other nations that came before it. It has a self-destruct button. Now, I’m not saying that one-day America is going pull a Voltorb and blow itself up. Rather, I am saying that American hegemony has an expiration date built in.

Hear me out.

American hegemony’s ultimate goal is to spread the American way of life around the world. Picture in your mind what the “American way of life” is for a moment. To me, the beauty of America is that everyone reading this pictured something different from everyone else that reads it. No two Americans are exactly the same because our nation was founded on the ideals that no two people are exactly the same – and that’s okay.

Actually, that’s our strength.

American hegemony is unique from all our counterparts throughout history because – though we may not have the noblest of reasons – some of our influence has helped different nations around the world.

America is unparalleled in power. If we had not wanted nations like North Korea, Cuba or Iran (pre-lifting of sanctions) to rise, we would’ve stopped them. We have established a world order where our hands are in everyone’s cookie jar and, for the world to operate, the octopus must function properly.

But just as the American octopus has its tentacles in everything, the Chinese dragon has coiled around all the jars. And, we can either look at the dragon as an adversary or we can say “thank you” for the help. Would Atlas have feared assistance when holding up the world?

Let’s go back to that self-destruct button. Under American hegemony, the seeds from global governance have been laid. In the long run, a global government can never exist when there is a sole hegemon. If that is the case, then the global government is simply a proxy for the bidding of the hegemon (cough UN cough). However, in a multi-polar world (re: a balanced world), a global government can occur. We even created a new form of communication (re: the internet) to facilitate global understanding.

In the next several centuries, nations will watch as our languages, cultures and people merge together. The world will become a melting pot (America’s end game). At some point in the future, all humans will speak the same language because of the Internet and globalization. Don’t believe me? Are you correcting me in Latin from behind your screen?

In 6,000 years of recorded history, the human race has achieved amazing things. But, to achieve the next level of evolution, no one person, city, state or country has ever been able to do it alone. Caesar needed his triumvirate. Zheng-Du needed the Yongle Emperor. America needed the French at Yorktown.

As millennials, we cannot think like our parents and the generations before us. We have grown up with access to technology and knowledge that people could never have dreamt. Because of this, we have a duty to the world to change how it interacts.

I’m sure there was several times throughout this that you laughed to yourself and called me insane. But, isn’t a key component of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect the same result?

So, why would you fear China when you already know it doesn’t work? That’s worse than insane – it’s inefficient.

And that’s something to fear.

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Cover Photo Credit: futureatlas.com/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

John Boehner To Resign As House Speaker At End Of October

According to multiple media reports, Rep. (R-OH) John Boehner will resign the speakership on October 30th.

The move comes as the government braces for another potential government shutdown next week- this time surrounding the issue of funding of Planned Parenthood.

This is a developing story, Rise News will update this story throughout the day. 

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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Yikes: Here’s What The Candidates Would Look Like After 8 Years In The White House

Being President is tough.

Up early each morning. Sleepless nights worrying about far flung crises and domestic troubles alike.

It’s no secret that being President takes a toll on the body- and seems to age the office holder in a big way.

Well, the folks at Sachs Media Group decided to see what the 2016 presidential candidates would look like after 8 years in the White House, and the results aren’t pretty.

“The presidency takes a heavy toll on those who hold the nation’s highest office, often aging them beyond the actual years in office,” a statement on the Sachs Media site said. “Sachs Media Group commissioned photo restoration and manipulation firm Phojoe to envision how current candidates might look at the end of a hypothetical two-term presidency in January 2025.”

Each looks like a version of the cryptkeeper in some form or fashion.

Let’s take a look at the damage:

Ben Carson:

BenCarson

Bernie Sanders:

BernieSanders

Carly Fiorina:

CarlyFiorina

Chris Christie:

ChrisChristie

Donald Trump: 

DonaldTrump

Hillary Clinton:

HillaryClinton

Jeb Bush:

JebBush

Joe Biden:

JoeBiden

John Kasich:

JohnKasich

Marco Rubio:

MarcoRubio

Mike Huckabee:

MikeHuckabee

Rand Paul:

RandPaul

Scott Waker:

ScottWalker

Ted Cruz:

TedCruz

Remind us why anyone wants this job again?

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All Photo Credits: Sachs Media Group

This App Will Let You Swipe Right To Match With Donald Trump

By Klaudia Balogh

Swipe left for no, swipe right for yes, but this time not because you want to match with the blue-eyed girl or the handsome guy on your screen.

With the Voter app, you can use the Tinder model to find the 2016 candidate of your dreams.

Swipe one way or the other whether you agree or disagree with a political view, such as subsidizing student loans, labeling GMO foods, increasing funding for renewable energy or requiring background checks to buy a gun.

According to a Census data from 2012, only 45 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted during the election, compared to 72 percent of Americans 65 and older.

Voting begins at the basic awareness level. The more the public knows about the parties and candidates, the more likely they are to make a decision as to which one they support.

Pew Research Center conducted a study during the summer of this year about the political interest and awareness of Millennials and found that only 26 percent names politics and government as one of the top three topics they are interested in, making them the group that’s the least interested in the subject.

Social media apps are out to change that. They are designed to capture Millenials’ attention quickly and educate them in a way that’s most convenient to them — through their smart phone.

Voter is a matchmaker for politics, or you can call it the Tinder of politics. The app brings up different questions about political views and based on whether you agree or disagree with them, by swiping left or right, it will show you a percentage how closely your views align with each party and candidate.

Founders Hunter Scarborough and Suneil Nyamathi say they created Voter to make political data more available and deliver it faster to the 18 to 29-year-old generation who is best approachable through their phone.

“According to Pew, 57 percent of 18 to 29 year olds get political news from social networking apps and nowhere else,” Scarborough said in an interview with GovFresh “The stage is primed to engage Millennials and younger generations on their turf.”

To make sure the data the app uses is accurate, Voter partners and gathers resources from organizations including GovTrack.us, the Sunlight Foundation, Google’s Civic API, OpenSecrets, and Project Votesmart.

“To ensure the highest level of accuracy, we hold politicians accountable to their actions, analyzing candidates’ voting records, public agenda, personal views, speeches and more,” the 25 year old Scarborough said to GovFresh.

Another company that takes politics to social media platforms is Brigade with Facebook’s co-founder Sean Parker being behind the wheel of its development.

The Brigade team wanted to start small with discussion tools that will engage users to talk about their political views, what they agree or disagree with, make survey questions, create groups that follow similar issues and keep up a conversation on hot topics and debates.

Through Brigade users can take a stand on their civic identity. CEO Matt Mahan told The Guardian, it “really comes down to ‘What you believe and care about?’ and ‘What have you done about those things?’”

Starting social media sites and apps that will trigger the political interest of Millennials has been a challenge.

Both Voter and Brigade aim to increase mass civic participation and bring politics to a level where users can not only see the different parties and ballots in a simple setup, but can also share their views on related subjects.

Citing a Gallup poll Scarborough said that 82 percent of Americans do not trust the news and other media when it comes to politics. And with that lack of trust in traditional sources of information, perhaps these new tools will democratize the way voters pick their candidates moving forward.

“When we were thinking about how to engage people in politics, most people say they don’t care about politics. They hate politicians,” Parker told TechCrunch. “Congressional approval ratings are at a historic low. Trust in government is at a historic low. From one point of view, the system is about as broken as it can be, but when we interview users, we find that everyone has an issue they care about or something that they want to change the world.”

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Cover Photo Credit: Voter App/ Facebook

Millennial Intelligencer: Burkina Faso’s Coup Is A Powder Keg Ready To Blow

By Curt Evans

A month to go before national elections and Burkina Faso is enduring yet another military overthrow.

Just last week, General Gilbert Diendere and a group of presidential guards took over the government by deposing interim President Michal Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida.

Diendere and the presidential guards were fiercely loyal to former President Blaise Compaore, the man who Kafando and Zida took down last year in a coup of their own.

General Diendere, the leader of the current coup had been given a take-it-or-leave-it deal by the Army Chiefs of the West African nation, to step down from his position by 10:00 GMT- 6 AM EST or he would be attacked. As the deadline came and went, there was no violence in the country, although the BBC reports that Army troops are massing in the capital of Ouagadougou to take back control.

Diendere has said that he was ready to hand over his power to transitional non military personnel powers.

“We do not want to fight but ultimately we will defend ourselves,” Diendere said according to Agence France-Presse.

Diendere and allies in the presidential guards assaulted a cabinet meeting and keeping the president and ministers that were present.

Diendere has a strong force behind him that consists of about 1,300 fighters ready to attack if he is harmed.The strong force is known as the presidential guard (RSP)- called that because they are devoted to former President Compaore (he also formed the group for his own protection.)

Compaore created the feared paramilitary unit to guarantee his own assurance in the wake of the 1987 assassination of his predecessor, the so called ” Che Guevara of Africa”, Thomas Sankara.

The troops were to surrender by 10 GMT or be attacked by the Army, but that deadline is now expired.

According to Al Jazeera reporter Nicolas Haque:

“Minutes before the deadline expired, General Diendere called a press conference and released a statement saying he wants to stand by the framework agreement that was negotiated with ECOWAS.”

According to military leaders in the country, if the coup leaders were to surrender and disarm, they would be granted safety and not be attacked-hopefully avoided more bloodshed in a conflict that has already taken the lives of at least 10 protestors.

But even if that happens, there is still a big question hovering over the country: Can Burkina Faso really become a stable democracy?

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Cover Photo Credit: Jeff Attaway/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Florida Democrat Didn’t Vote To Give Gay Veterans Equal Partner Benefits In Congress

Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a long serving Democratic member of the US House didn’t vote to extend federal benefits to the spouses of LGBT couples last Thursday.

In a shocking move first reported by Politico, Brown reversed course on her previous support of an amendment that according to the Human Rights Campaign would “correct outdated language” in statutes that define spouses as a member of the “opposite sex”.

The proposed amendment- the Veteran Spouses Equal Treatment Act was proposed by Dina Titus (D-NV) and was designed to allow same-sex spouses of military veterans to receive benefits entitled to them under federal law.

“This amendment would take a critical step in ensuring in statute that the voices of LGBT veterans are consistently heard and ensure the LGBT community is represented when addressing the issues that affect minority veterans,” a statement from the Human Rights Campaign said.

Brown, the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted present when the amendment came to a vote.

“I never question someone’s motives for how they vote, but what upset us is, one, she changed her vote and second, she didn’t let us know and she is our leader,” Titus was quoted by Politico as saying about Brown. “We’re talking about a number of options….We’re going to do something. We want to hear her explanation and we want her to hear why we are upset. It was really disappointing.”

While Brown’s vote didn’t impact the outcome of the failure of the amendment to pass (12 of the 14 Republicans on the committee voted against it), it has sparked questions about her motivations and whether it is due to her positioning for the 2016 election- when she is expected to compete in a more conservative district.

Twitter was not pleased with the Congresswoman after the vote.

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Photo Credit: JAXPORT/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Scott Walker Will Drop Out of Presidential Campaign

According to multiple media reports including the New York Times and NBC News, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is planning to drop out of the Presidential race.

According to MSNBC, Scott Walker has just announced a press conference in Wisconsin for 6 PM EST.

Walker had been performing poorly in post debate polls, with some showing him with less than 1 percent support in the GOP primary.

Stay with Rise News as we continue to follow this developing story. 

WisPolitics.com/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Don’t Call It A Comeback- Hillary Clinton Extends Lead Over Bernie Sanders In New Poll

Hillary Clinton has apparently begun to right the ship of her sluggish Presidential campaign and has started to grow her base of support in the Democratic party- according to a new poll out today.

The poll, commissioned by CNN, shows Clinton extending her national lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while Vice President Joe Biden sits in a strong third place.

The survey of 392 Democratic leaning voters was taken by phone on September 17-19 and has a margin of error of 5 percent. Clinton takes 42 percent of the vote according to the survey, while Sanders scoops up 24 percent.

The poll is good news for Biden, as it is one of his strongest showings in a national survey- he comes in at a strong third place with 22 percent.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Jill Biden, the wife of the Vice President supports her husband in running for president.

The first Democratic debate is October 13.

Results:

Clinton: 42%
Sanders: 24%
Biden: 22%
O’Malley: 1%

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Cover Photo Credit: Jonathan Lidbeck/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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