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Governor Pat McCrory signs bill enabling transgender community discrimination

Governor Pat McCrory signs bill enabling transgender community discrimination

On March 23, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act into law. Republicans passed this bill through the legislature unanimously and the Democrats chose to walk out in protest. This bill removed local governments’ option to pass their own anti-discrimination laws if they contradict with the state’s law. Because the state has no protections for people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, this strips the queer community of protection from discrimination. Another part of the law specifically targets transgender people. The law makes it illegal for someone to use a bathroom that doesn’t match their assigned gender at birth.

This law has drawn widespread controversy to the state of North Carolina and Governor McCrory. Five states have issued travel bans to the state – including Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington. Other cities including Boston, Chicago, New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, West Palm Beach and the District of Columbia have also issued bans.

Some big names that have denounced the law are President Obama; presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders; and celebrities Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and George Takei. President Obama has also stated that this law may disqualify North Carolina from receiving billions of dollars in federal funding, which would create huge economic fallout in the state.

Following the signing of the law, the queer community and their allies were energized to fight against it. Since it is an election year, this issue could be taken up by the presidential candidates as well as severely affecting the governor race in North Carolina.

Governor McCrory has defended the bill despite saying that transgender issues should be decided at the local level four months prior to signing the bill.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is the Democratic candidate for governor and has vowed to not defend the law in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.  

Polls that have been taken since the signing of the legislation show a large jump for challenger Cooper. Before the legislation was signed, McCrory led Cooper by 2 percent, but now Cooper leads McCrory by 4 to 6 percent depending on the poll.

It would be prudent for Democrats to capitalize on this issue and for Republicans to try to energize their evangelical base to defend their gubernatorial seat. Either way, since this issue reached national attention, it’s very likely that North Carolinians will think twice about whom they vote for in November.

Both parties should be pouring a good amount of money into the state for the election. If one thing is for certain, the queer and transgender communities will fight back, and they very well may win.

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MSU student will spend summer in Rwanda ‘empowering’ women

MSU student will spend summer in Rwanda ‘empowering’ women

Espoir Tuyisenge, nicknamed Esp (pronounced Es · pee), is a soft spoken, kind and intuitive 22-year-old from Rwanda who loves coffee. Esp came to the United States in 2013 to double major in food industry management and agriculture business management at Michigan State University. This summer, Esp will be in Rwanda conducting a project focusing on the production of coffee and its inclusion of women. 

Espoir Tuyisenge is a sophomore at Michigan State University. He is a double major in food industry management and agriculture business management.

Espoir Tuyisenge is a sophomore at Michigan State University. He is a double major in food industry management and agriculture business management. Photo: Ben Muir.

“Rwanda depends on agriculture as the main source of income,” Esp said.And coffee is the big industry that fuels the economy.”

Coffee in Rwanda differs from coffee in the United States, however. In the U.S., coffee is predominantly a consumption-based entity, and many drinkers have become alienated from the product. Whereas in Rwanda, coffee is a competitive business. Farmers in Rwanda produce the beans that will later be exported to other countries for sale. But the actual drink is not popular among the people, Esp said.

“I’m pretty sure 90 percent of people back in Rwanda don’t even drink coffee. It’s because Rwanda doesn’t process the coffee itself, but rather it produces green beans. Then the beans are sent to American outlets like Starbucks to produce the finest coffee,” Esp said. “And people in Rwanda can’t afford it. They just sell their beans.”

Women in Rwanda are at the forefront of coffee farming. Esp said women do the majority of the work involved with producing the beans, but when it comes to finances, men are the sole proprietors of coffee revenue.

Esp said the mixture of Rwanda’s culture and lack of education and organization in women has formed a negative mantra, creating a significant gender inequality within the nation. Subsequently conditioning women to believe that they are second to men in business enterprises.

This has made women unaware of the international coffee market size, Esp said. It is massive capitalism with billions of dollars allocated to people all over the world, and many Rwandan women pay little attention to what’s happening outside of Rwanda’s borders because they are accustomed to acting selfless.

Most of them are in rural areas, so if we don’t talk to them, they will have no idea what’s going on, Esp said. “All they do is farm and feed their children.”

Esp will be on a team that will work with 5,000 Rwandan women. The team will begin by interviewing women one-on-one to gauge their thought process on why many are negated.

Along with his studies, Esp works part-time at the MSU Union.

Along with his studies, Esp works part-time at the MSU Union. Photo: Ben Muir.

The goal of the interviews is to determine the barriers women face that are hindering them of being more of an integral part of coffee distribution management. The hypothesis is that women will be reluctant at first.

Esp’s concern is that women have become too immersed in mediocrity, and Rwanda’s culture is responsible for making women content with a low-class lifestyle.

“We want to ask ‘What is your aspiration?’” Esp said. “Do you want to just stay in the realm of feeding your family?”

Following the interviews, the training stage of the project will begin. The team will work alongside Rwandan women to encourage them to speak out, and conjunctively understand the culture that has developed this one-sided business mindset.

It should be noted that Esp is not going to Rwanda to act as a savior to its people. By using ethnography and objective observations, Esp and his team will draw conclusions that will further Michigan State’s research in the agricultural field.

“The goal at the end is to empower women in corporate farming,” Esp said. “To make them feel they are able to compete at the same level as men, and they are able to move from base-farming to international production of their own premier coffee.”

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What we learned from the 2016 NCAA Tournament

What we learned from the 2016 NCAA Tournament

1. The ACC is still the conference to beat in March

All year, no matter the sport, there is always debate amongst both fans and analysts on which conference is the best. This year many suggested that the Big 12 was the best conference because the Big 10 was top heavy and ACC’s depth was also breaking down. During the tournament, the ACC flexed its muscles and dominated.

The ACC tied a tournament record by having six teams advance to the Sweet 16 and later broke a record by having four teams in the Elite Eight, per Their success even continued to the Final Four where Syracuse, a 10-seed and major cinderella story in the tournament, faced off against the only 1-seed left standing, UNC. In the end, UNC beat Syracuse and came up three points short of Villanova in the National Championship game, ending the ACC’s incredible tournament run.

2. Mid-major schools can hold their own

Every year come Selection Sunday, we see analysts and pundits alike ask the same question the committee is: “How many mid-majors qualify for the tournament?”

A mid-major is a school outside of the classic Power Five and Big East conferences. Of the 32 mid-majors that made the tourney, 12 made it past the first round, including UConn, St. Joe’s and Middle Tennessee. Outside of the 15 and 16-seeds, the mid-majors that lost only did so by an average 8.1 points. For the most part these mid-majors held their own and played competitive games against teams that had more talent and experience than a lot of them.

Mid-majors were able to take down some of the best teams in the nation including Michigan State, West Virginia, California and Arizona. While no mid-major made it past the second round this year, their ability to keep it close and even beat perennial CBB powerhouses should help increase the chance of more mid-majors appearing in next year’s tourney.  

3. This tournament was more about better play than raw talent

It is often said that basketball is a game of streaks, both in game and over the course of a season. In game teams go through times when they seem to hit every shot they attempt and other times when they seemingly can’t buy a basket. Likewise, over the course of a season, a team goes through times where it can win games with ease and other times where it can’t beat even the weakest of opponents.

Middle Tennessee played arguably the best game in school history against Michigan State and pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all time. Michigan State was predicted to beat  Middle Tennessee handily, but lost in part because of Middle Tennessee’s shooting hot streak. Villanova, after losing the Big East to Seton Hall, had one of the most impressive shooting streaks in March Madness history. Villanova rode this streak all the way to the National Title game.

4. Upperclassmen are just as important to teams as freshmen superstars

For the past few seasons, NCAA has seen its fair share of freshmen phenoms. From Jahlil Okafor and Andrew Wiggins to Anthony Davis, the NCAA has seen a lot of great talent leave after one season for the NBA. With this large influx of one-and-done, many upper tier schools, like Kentucky and Duke, began to scramble for this kind of talent in hopes that those players would push their program to new heights. This talent rush has had mixed results with some teams winning national titles and others going home in the Round of 32. That wasn’t the case this year.

The top freshman in the country, Ben Simmons of LSU, didn’t even make the tourney this year. While the second best freshman, Brandon Ingram of Duke, made it to the Elite 8, the overall team wasn’t as impressive as it had been in years past. All of the dominant teams that made the tournament – Villanova, Kansas, Oklahoma, UNC, Michigan State – were all led by upperclassmen if not senior leadership.

It was this deviation from the norm that made this tournament feel special and for many of the teams mentioned, it helped them throughout the entire postseason. The two teams that met in the National Title game both had excellent senior players, like Marcus Paige and Ryan Arcidiacono. Kris Jenkins, the player who hit the game winning shot for Villanova, was a senior.

We’ll have to wait for next year’s tourney to see if this year’s trend continues but it was definitely an interesting storyline to follow this tournament.

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2016 NFL Mock Draft

2016 NFL Mock Draft

1. Los Angeles Rams

Key Additions: Quinton Coples (LB/DE)

Key Losses: Janoris Jenkins (CB) James Laurinaitis (ILB) Rodney McLeod (FS)


The Pick: Jared Goff, Quarterback, California

Notes: The Rams gave up a king’s ransom to acquire the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and many sources from both ESPN and have linked them to either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.  

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Key Additions: Brandon Brooks (G) Nigel Bradham (OLB) Rodney McLeod (FS)

Key Losses: Cedric Thornton (DE) DeMarco Murray — TRADE — (RB)

Needs: WR CB DE QB

The Pick: Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State

Notes: The Eagles recently moved up to make sure they were able to select the quarterback they wanted as opposed to settling for a lesser player. Carson Wentz would not start immediately, but given starting quarterback Sam Bradford’s injury history, he may see some playing time this year.  

3. San Diego Chargers

Key Additions: Travis Benjamin (WR) Casey Hayward (CB) Dwight Lowery (FS)

Key Losses: Eric Weddle (FS) LaDarius Green (TE) Patrick Robinson (CB)

Needs: DE CB S TE

The Pick: Jalen Ramsey, Defensive Back, Florida State

Notes: Jalen Ramsey would be a great selection as he has the potential to play both free safety and cornerback, which are both positions of need for the Chargers.  

4. Dallas Cowboys

Key Additions: Cedric Thornton (DE) Alfred Morris (RB)

Key Losses: Mackenzy Bernadeau (C/G)  

Needs: LB DB S QB TE

The Pick: Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State

Notes: The Cowboys have a lot of needs going into the draft most of which are defensive. Joey Bosa can fill the void on the defensive line left by Greg Hardy’s departure and Demarcus Lawrence’s suspension.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Additions: Malik Jackson (DE) Tashaun Gibson (FS) Chris Ivory (RB)

Key Losses: Zane Beadles (G) Stefen Wisniewski (C)

Needs: DT OLB G

The Pick: Myles Jack, Outside Linebacker, UCLA

Notes: Myles Jack is arguably the best linebacker in this year’s draft and would be a great addition to Jacksonville’s young core.

6. Baltimore Ravens

Key Additions: Eric Weddle (FS) Mike Wallace (WR) Ben Watson (TE)

Key Losses: Courtney Upshaw (OLB) Kelechi Osemele (G) Daryl Smith (ILB)

Needs: RT DE LB S

The Pick: Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame

Notes: While the Ravens have struggled to find a defensive identity since Ray Lewis’ retirement, another large concern has been the offensive line, which has had a hard time protecting QB Joe Flacco. Ronnie Stanley would help solidify that line.  

7. San Francisco 49ers

Key Additions: Zane Beadles (G)

Key Losses: Alex Boone (G)


The Pick: Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis

Notes: The 49ers have a ton of holes that still need to be filled after Jim Harbaugh’s departure, the main one being quarterback. Paxton Lynch should be competing for a starting job come this fall.

8. Cleveland Browns

Key Additions: Robert Griffin III (QB) Rahim Moore (FS) Alvin Bailey (G)

Key Losses: Alex Mack (C) Tashuan Gipson (FS) Travis Benjamin (WR)

Needs: QB OL LB S

The Pick: Reggie Ragland, Inside Linebacker, Alabama

Notes: Reggie Ragland’s addition would help to build up the Brown’s defensive core.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Additions: Brent Grimes (CB) J.R. Sweezy (G) Robert Ayers (DE)

Key Losses: Bruce Carter (OLB)

Needs: S LB T

The Pick: Vernon Hargreaves, Cornerback, Florida

Notes: Tampa Bay would further improve their secondary with addition of Vernon Hargreaves who could bring some youth to what should be an impressive veteran core.

10. New York Giants

Key Additions: Olivier Vernon (DE) Janoris Jenkins (CB) Damon Harrison (DT)

Key Losses: Robert Ayers (DE) Geoff Schwartz (G) Rueben Randle (WR)

Needs: G RB LB SS

The Pick: Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi

Notes: Laremy Tunsil is the best available player on the draft board in this position. He is also the best offensive lineman in the draft and would have an immediate impact for the Giants.  

11. Chicago Bears

Key Additions: Danny Trevathan (ILB)

Key Losses: Matt Forte (RB) Jermon Bushrod (T)

Needs: T CB ILB QB

The Pick: Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State

Notes: Jack Conklin could almost certainly be a starter on the Bear’s rebuilding offensive line.

12. New Orleans Saints

Key Additions: Coby Fleener (TE) James Laurinaitis (ILB) Nick Fairley (DT)

Key Losses: Rafael Bush (FS) Ben Watson (TE)

Needs: LB DE CB WR

The Pick: DeForest Buckner, Defensive End, Oregon

Notes: DeForest Buckner is viewed by many draft analysts as the second best defensive linemen in the draft. His ability to rush the passer would greatly help a Saints defense looking for an identity.

13. Miami Dolphins

Key Additions: Kraig Urbik (G)  Isa Abdul-Quddus (S) Jermon Bushrod (T)

Key Losses: Lamar Miller (RB) Brent Grimes (CB) Olivier Vernon (DE)

Needs: RB CB G LB

The Pick: Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State

Notes: Most analysts advise against picking a running back in the first round, but Ezekiel Elliot is one of the recent exceptions to that rule. Miami has an opening at running back since Lamar Miller’s departure to free agency an opening that Elliott should fit well in.    

14. Oakland Raiders

Key Additions: Kelechi Osemele (G) Sean Smith (CB) Bruce Irvin (OLB) Reggie Nelson (FS)

Key Losses: J’Marcus Webb (T) Charles Woodson — RETIREMENT — (FS)

Needs: T TE ILB SS

The Pick: Leonard Floyd, Outside Linebacker, Georgia

Notes: Though many NFL scouts argue that Leonard Floyd is too small to play linebacker at the NFL level, his skills as a pass rusher are hard to ignore. If Floyd bulks up he can be a quality outside linebacker. If he doesn’t, he may be able to find his niche as a defensive end.

15. Tennessee Titans

Key Additions: Ben Jones (C) Rishard Matthews (WR) DeMarco Murray — TRADE — (RB)

Key Losses: Michael Griffin (FS)


The Pick: Darron Lee, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State

Notes: The Titans have done a fairly good job of rebuilding their offense as of late. Darron Lee would help start the process of rebuilding their defense.  

16. Detroit Lions

Key Additions: Geoff Schwartz (G) Marvin Jones (WR)  

Key Losses: Manuel Ramirez (G) Isa Abdul-Quddus (S) Calvin Johnson Jr. — RETIREMENT — (WR)

Needs: WR T ILB

The Pick: Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss

Notes: Without Calvin “Megatron” Johnson the Lions will need a new centerpiece to their receiving core. Though no one can replace Megatron,” Laquon Treadwell has both the size and talent to help rebuild the receiving core.

17. Atlanta Falcons

Key Additions: Alex Mack (C) Mohamed Sanu (WR) Courtney Upshaw (OLB)

Key Losses: Paul Soliai (DT)

Needs: DB DL RT WR

The Pick: A’Shawn Robinson, Defensive Tackle, Alabama

Notes: The Falcons have committed to building their defense for the past few drafts and will continue this year. With the addition of A’Shawn Robinson, the Falcons look to improve upon an increasingly skilled defensive line.  

18. Indianapolis Colts

Key Additions: Patrick Robinson (CB)

Key Losses: Coby Fleener (TE) Dwight Lowery (FS)

Needs: RB S G RT

The Pick: Cody Whitehair, Guard, Kansas State

Notes: Cody Whitehair has been described as the “safest offensive linemen in the draft.” Whitehair would help strengthen a very weak Colts offensive line that struggled to protect QB Andrew Luck last season.

19. Buffalo Bills

Key Additions: Corey White (CB) Fernando Velasco (G)

Key Losses: Chris Hogan (WR) Nigel Bradham (OLB) Mario Williams (DE)

Needs: DE WR LB

The Pick: Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson

Notes: Shaq Lawson could be a good replacement for Mario Williams and help keep the Bills’ defensive dominance.

20. New York Jets

Key Additions: Matt Forte (RB) Bruce Carter (LB) Ryan Clady — TRADE — (T)

Key Losses: D’Brickashaw Ferguson (LT) Chris Ivory (RB) Damon Harrison (DT)

Needs: RG QB TE

The Pick: Hunter Henry, Tight End, Arkansas

Notes: The Jets in this draft should look to solidify their offense, which has improved gradually over the past few years. Hunter Henry is considered the best tight end in the draft by many and will compete for the starting spot on the Jets.

21. Washington Redskins

Key Additions: Vernon Davis (TE) Josh Norman (CB)

Key Losses: Terrance Knighton (DT) Alfred Morris (RB)

Needs: WR RB DL

The Pick: Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle, Louisville

22. Houston Texans

Key Additions: Lamar Miller (RB) Brock Osweiler (QB)

Key Losses: Brandon Brooks (G) Rahim Moore (FS) Nate Washington (WR) Arian Foster (RB)

Needs: S TE G C

The Pick: Kevin Dodd, Defensive End, Clemson

Notes: Most of the Texans needs can be addressed in the later rounds, so they may look to add to a strongpoint of their team. Kevin Dodd would be a nice compliment to JJ Watt on the Texans impressive defense.

23. Minnesota Vikings

Key Additions: Alex Boone (G) Michael Griffin (FS) Andre Smith (RT)

Key Losses: Mike Wallace (WR) Josh Robinson (CB)

Needs: DE SS LG

The Pick: Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive End, Oklahoma State

Notes: The Vikings have done a great job of adding players that make an immediate impact on the team both offensively and defensively. Emmanuel Ogbah could be the latest addition to a Vikings defense that has been on the up and up for the past few years.

24. Cincinnati Bengals

Key Additions: Karlos Dansby (ILB) Brandon LaFell (WR)

Key Losses: Marvin Jones (WR) Mohamed Sanu (WR) Andre Smith (RT)

Needs: RG FS LB WR

The Pick: Will Fuller, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame

Notes: The Bengals lost two of their secondary receivers to free agency and will look to find a No. 2 option opposite of star wideout AJ Green. Though some scouts are worried about his consistency issues catching the ball, Will Fuller should, at a minimum, draw some defensive attention away from AJ Green.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Additions: Ladarius Green (TE) Ryan Harris (LT)

Key Losses: Kelvin Beachum (T) Heath Miller — RETIREMENT — (TE)

Needs: DT DE DB

The Pick: Noah Spence, Defensive End, Eastern Kentucky

Notes: Noah Spence is widely regarded as a gamble due to his history of issues off the field, but the talent he brings cannot be ignored. The Steelers are looking to go back to their days of defensive dominance and Spence could help accomplish that goal.  

26. Seattle Seahawks

Key Additions: J’Marcus Webb (T)

Key Losses: Russell Okung (LT) Bruce Irvin (OLB) Marshawn Lynch — RETIREMENT — (HB)

Needs: T G DT LOLB

The Pick: Le’Raven Clark, Offensive Tackle, Texas Tech

Notes: The Seahawks lost the centerpieces of their offensive line to free agency so they will be looking for replacements. Le’Raven Clark is a solid tackle prospect who will have the opportunity to protect QB Russell Wilson’s blindside come this fall.

27. Green Bay Packers

Key Additions: Jared Cook (TE)

Key Losses: Casey Hayward (CB) BJ Raji — RETIREMENT — (DT/DE)

Needs: LT CB DL

The Pick: Andrew Billings, Nose Tackle, Baylor

Notes: The Packers have spent the past few drafts improving their defense, specifically their secondary. This year, they may continue the improvement of the defense with the selection of Andrew Billings who will help replace BJ Raji’s spot on the defensive line.

28. Kansas City Chiefs

Key Additions: Mitchell Schwartz (RT)

Key Losses: Sean Smith (CB) Jeff Allen (G) Husain Abdullah — RETIREMENT — (S)

Needs: WR LG DE DB

The Pick: Josh Doctson, Wide Receiver, TCU

Notes: Even with the pickup of Jeremy Maclin, the Chiefs biggest need remains wide receiver. Josh Doctson should make a solid No. 2 receiver opposite of Maclin.

29. Arizona Cardinals

Key Additions: Evan Mathis (G) Chandler Jones — TRADE — (DE)

Key Losses: Jonathan Cooper — TRADE — (G) Bobby Massie (RT) Sean Weatherspoon (ILB)

Needs: LB C QB CB

The Pick: Eli Apple, Cornerback, Ohio State

Notes: The Cardinals are just a few pieces away from being a perennial Super Bowl contender. One of those pieces is Eli Apple, cornerback who can play opposite of Pro-Bowler Patrick Peterson long term.

30. Carolina Panthers

Key Additions: Paul Soliai (DT)

Key Losses: Brad Nortman (P) Josh Norman (CB)

Needs: T DB DE G

The Pick: Germain Ifedi, Guard/Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M

Notes: The Panthers biggest weakness is their offensive line which was painfully exposed in the Super Bowl. Germain Ifedi is listed as a guard, but according to many scouts NFL teams, they could try to play him at tackle before moving inside. At either position, he fills a need for the Panthers.

31. Denver Broncos

Key Additions: Russell Okung (LT)

Key Losses: Malik Jackson (DE) Brock Osweiler (QB) Danny Trevathan (ILB) Peyton Manning — RETIREMENT — (QB)

Needs: QB G FS TE

The Pick: Connor Cook, Quarterback, Michigan State

Notes: The entire NFL community seems to be divided on Connor Cook. Some say he could be a good starting QB while others say he lacks leadership needed for a NFL player. However, recently he has been climbing up many draft boards. The Broncos desperately need a QB and Cook is a viable option at pick 31.

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Race to the Convention

Race to the Convention

The candidates still in the running for presidency.

The candidates still in the running for presidency.

The primary season has been a jungle – from the Republicans who had 16 candidates at one point to the Democrats who started with five. Now we’ve reached a midway point, with the last primaries scheduled on June 7 and June 14. So, who still has a chance? Let’s take a look.

On the Republican side, the candidates have been whittled down to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. At this point Donald Trump has a sizable lead, but Ted Cruz is still well within range to surpass Trump. John Kasich may be able to keep up or tie, but it’s very unlikely based off of the polling data. He is currently a distant third in national polls at 20 percent, trailing Donald Trump by 25 percent and Ted Cruz by 8 percent. He’s also behind in the delegate count by over 300 delegates, making it so that his campaign must win around 75 percent of the remaining delegates. 

Current polling data has Trump still winning in most states, but Ted Cruz is catching up to him in some. Trump’s home state is New York, which should go to him handily. John Kasich won his home state of Ohio, which should give him some momentum, but may not be enough to get him far, especially this late in the game.  

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are still battling it out. Clinton has the clear advantage and Sanders has lost momentum after failing to capitalize a significant win in Michigan. Sanders still has a chance to tie or win, but he has to win almost every state in the West and Central United States.

Current polling data has Clinton winning the big delegate states, including California and New York. While polling was very far off in Michigan, these states may still be securely in Clinton’s hands due to New York being her home state and California typically being fairly establishment, also known as the party elite who decide the platform and ideology of the party. However, California also has a strong liberal base that may not see Clinton as liberal enough for the presidency. Sanders is still polling well in the smaller states, but he has to win big in these states in order to get the delegate count he needs.

Here are the current delegate counts:

Republicans (1,237 to win)

Donald Trump: 752

Ted Cruz: 463

Marco Rubio (dropped out): 173

John Kasich: 144

Democrats (2,383 to win)

Hillary Clinton: 1,266.  Superdelegates: 471

Bernie Sanders: 1,038.  Superdelegates: 31


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Fall of the Spartans: How Middle Tennessee upset Michigan State

Fall of the Spartans: How Middle Tennessee upset Michigan State

For Michigan State fans around the country, March 18, 2016 is a day that won’t soon be forgotten.

The Spartans entered their first day of NCAA’s March Madness as a two-seed that people across the nation felt was snubbed of a one-seed. According to ESPN, the Spartans were favored in 91 percent of brackets to advance to the next round and 22 percent to win the tournament, but neither of these predictions would happen.

Michigan State was upset 90-81 by 15-seed Middle Tennessee, handing the Spartans arguably their worst loss in school history and head coach Tom Izzo’s first one-and-done tourney trip in his first 18 trips per Detriot Free Press. How did a small Conference-USA team take down one of college basketball’s perennial juggernauts?

Michigan State’s struggles began almost right out of the gate. Middle Tennessee’s offense caught fire early and never slowed down, only missing a handful of shots within the first 10 minutes. To make matters worse, Michigan State’s offense was sluggish from the get-go and didn’t wake up until the end of the first half. By then Middle Tennessee had the lead and momentum.

While the Spartan offense picked up after halftime, in large part due to senior Matt Costello’s dominance in the paint, the team was never able to close the gap that Middle Tennessee created and maintained throughout the game.

Middle Tennessee’s ability to shoot and make the three also played a huge role in their victory. All but one of Middle Tennessee’s starters made at least one three-pointer, including the team’s power forward/center Darnell Harris. This created a matchup nightmare for the Spartans as Costello, Davis and Schilling had to leave the paint to attempt to guard the three-point line. Something that none of them are particularly strong at.

The mismatch clearly showed. In the first half alone, Middle Tennessee shot 61 percent from beyond the arch and finished the game shooting 57 percent. Michigan State just couldn’t keep the pace, shooting 45 percent overall from beyond the arch.

On the seemingly rare occasion that Middle Tennessee missed they were always there fighting for a rebound and more often than not Middle Tennessee got it. Though the stat sheet showed that Michigan State won the rebound battle, it didn’t show during the game as MT grabbed almost every crucial rebound this game had. Perhaps the reason behind this stems from the fact that Michigan State’s big players were all spread out away from the paint allowing for MT guards Jaqawn Raymond and Giddy Potts to combine for nine rebounds.  

Free throws and fouls also played a large part in this game. 35 fouls were called over the course of the game – with a 10 foul difference between the two teams – most of them being “tic-tack” or “touch fouls.” This kind of officiating environment caused the Spartans problems all year because of how aggressive the Spartans’ defense is.

Denzel Valentine, Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello were all in foul trouble during the latter portion of this game, which further restricted the already struggling Spartan defense. When it came down to free throws, Middle Tennessee, one of the worst free throw shooting teams, shot 61 percent from the line. The Spartans shot 66 percent, but much like their rebounding total, it didn’t show during the game. There were far too many times where Michigan State went one of two or zero of two from the line, while Middle Tennessee players made both free throws on their attempts.

Ultimately when trying to analyze Michigan State’s loss, Tom Izzo put it best, “They outplayed us.” Middle Tennessee did everything right, it shot lights out from the field, slowed the Spartan offense to a near standstill and played like a team possessed. Michigan State was flat out beaten and that isn’t an indictment against the Spartans, but rather praise to Middle Tennessee. It is for that reason that Michigan State shouldn’t hang its head on this loss for too long. Would it have been nice to see Michigan State seniors Matt Costello, Bryn Forbes, Colby Wallenman and Denzel Valentine end their collegiate careers on a better note? Yes. However, this loss doesn’t take away from the excellent season Michigan State had or how great this senior class of players was.

Tom Izzo has done a great job of creating a top tier basketball program at Michigan State and top tier programs bounce back from these types of losses. In fact, Duke, the team that won the National Championship last year, did so one year after being upset by Mercer, a 14-seed.

Tom Izzo and the Spartans will learn from this, grow from it and come back next year hungrier than ever for a deep postseason run; hopefully ending in a championship.

Stats courtesy of ESPN, Detroit Free Press & The Washington Post



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Trump and the exploitation of ignorance

Trump and the exploitation of ignorance

Immigration was, is, and always shall be one of America’s chief long term controversies. Public opinion is perpetually shattered in half—liberals calling conservatives heartless bigots and conservatives firing back with arguments that suggest amnesty can’t realistically be sustained. Differing political philosophies clash like the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

In turn, it’s become very easy for American’s perspectives to become awash with rhetoric—rhetoric laced with misinformation that has inadvertently encouraged xenophobic attitudes. So, it’s become necessary to take a more realistic look at the state of immigration in America today.

Let’s first consider Donald Trump’s wildly controversial statements—statements mind you that have given him feverous support from millions of right leaning Americans. Trump has gone as far to call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Muslims haven’t been the only target of Trump. Earlier in his campaign he made extremely inflammatory remarks towards Mexican immigrants saying, “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists.”

Trump has repeated this mantra ad nauseam with little in the way of actual facts. Unfortunately, because of his position as a major presidential candidate, many Americans are inclined to take his every word as truth. After all, what he’s been proudly proclaiming is based on very common preconceived negative stereotypes that many Americans have also falsely accepted as fact.

There is a strong reason to believe his outrageous remarks, which are repeatedly devoid of factual information, are made to exploit and piggyback on the support of xenophobic right wing Americans.

The Washington Post did some fact checking homework on Trump’s big claim that “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Not surprisingly, Trump has been exaggerating quite heavily. Washington Post writer Michelle Ye Hee Lee found that, “Of 78,022 primary offense cases in fiscal year 2013, 38.6 percent were illegal immigrant offenders. The majority of their cases (76 percent) were immigration related. Of total primary offenses, 17.6 percent of drug trafficking offenses and 3.8 percent of sex abuse were illegal immigrants. Of 22,878 drug crime cases, 17.2 percent were illegal immigrants.”

Lee also addressed more facts that disprove much of what Trump says about immigrants. Lee explains, “2010 Census data in a report from the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigration group, shows that 1.6 percent of immigrant males 18 to 39 years old were incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of native-born males. That disparity in incarceration rates has been consistent in the decennial Census since 1980, the report says.”

Regardless of Trump’s comments against Latino immigrants, the evidence is not there. Doing actual research proves that most of what he’s said, is simply hyperbole based on misconceptions.

It’s not just the Washington Post that’s taken the issue to task. In a similar article written by Albert R. Hunt for The New York Times, more damning facts were found that put the immigration issue into a different context. The reality of the immigration situation is not in alignment with the frenzied image Trump has created with his hateful rhetoric.

What Hunt found is that “Net migration from Mexico is negative, many experts say; more people are returning to Mexico than are illegally crossing the border into the United States.” This is a fact that many people in Trump’s camp, do not seem to be aware of.

There’s a myriad of other facts that dismantle a lot of popular notions about immigration. Namely that the number of undocumented immigrants is actually decreasing. There are currently 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, as compared to the more than 12 million there were in 2007. Also, the Obama Administration is actually responsible for more deportations than any other president in history, according to government data.

Obama has developed a reputation for being soft on immigration, for seemingly no real reason. Republicans like Trump have ridden this image with serious success, rallying an anti-immigration base that believes these candidates are the strict lawmakers that will squelch immigration. Ironically, the presidency currently spends more on fighting undocumented immigration than any other federal crime.

A large portion of the United States seems to be in a collective agreement with Trump. Sadly, many have not put much in the way of critical thought and are content with letting ignorance drive their thoughts on the crisis at hand.

Trump has been allowing his dangerous hyperbole to dehumanize multiple sects of people who are really just trying to live their lives. Like every single population to have ever existed, some turn to crime, but not nearly to the extent of which Trump preaches like the end all be all truth. Placing blame on problems that have very diverse factors causing them is highly irresponsible for a politician with such a large audience. One can only hope that primaries nominate candidates that don’t exploit ignorance for votes.

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What to expect from College Basketball this postseason

What to expect from College Basketball this postseason

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

This season of college basketball has been a crazy one. Teams ranked No. 1 have fallen almost constantly throughout the year. Perennial contenders have struggled a bit in their conference and teams that typically struggle throughout the year have risen to the higher positions. With the college basketball postseason right around corner here are some storylines that could play out throughout conference tournaments and of course March Madness.

Challengers to Kentucky’s SEC throne  

Despite the fact that Kentucky is in position to win the SEC – regular season – for the third time in five years they are vulnerable. Most people assumed going into this season that Kentucky wouldn’t be the same after losing much of last year’s team to the NBA draft, but still believed they would maintain their dominance over the usually lackluster SEC. That hasn’t been the case this year.  

There are three teams that are one game behind Kentucky in the standings and two of those teams beat Kentucky this year. LSU, University of South Carolina (USC) and Texas A&M all have the potential to surpass Kentucky in both the regular season and SEC tournament.

USC started the year off as one of the undefeated teams and has beaten LSU and Texas A&M in close games but was blown out by Kentucky in their only meeting of the season.

LSU is known best for freshman phenom Ben Simmons who is the heart and soul of the team. However, LSU has struggled with consistency issues in part because of how heavily the team depends on Simmons’ performance. Despite this problem, LSU was able to beat Texas A&M handily and blow out Kentucky in their first meeting of the season.

Texas A&M is a streaky team that has been one of the biggest surprises in collegiate basketball this season. Texas A&M was able to split the series with LSU and beat Kentucky this season.

These teams could make another first place finish for Kentucky hard to come by and possibly upset Kentucky in the SEC tournament, which would be a nice change up for the conference and its fans.

Miami’s rise in the ACC

This year has been odd for the ACC, as the top part of the conference was shaken up. While perennial top teams like UNC and Virginia have, for the most part, maintained their form other teams that are usually in their company have not.

Louisville, a team that won the National Championship three years ago, has removed itself from postseason play in the wake of a sex scandal.

Duke, last year’s National Champion, was out of the AP Top 25 poll for the first time in nine years and has also struggled to find itself all year.

Amidst this void atop the conference, the Miami Hurricanes have risen to the top and currently sit half of a game behind UNC in the standings. Among some of Miami’s more impressive wins is a blowout victory versus Duke and a win against Virginia.

Miami could be the team to upset UNC during the conference tournament and could be an even bigger factor come the time of March Madness.  

Big East and Big Ten might have the most competitive tournaments

The Big East and Big Ten are fairly similar in how their conference has shaped out over the past few seasons. Usually the conferences divide themselves into upper and lower tiers. The differences between the different tiers varies on which conference, but it usually boils down to the talent of players and coaches. Typically, the top teams in the conference perform at a high level and beat down the rest of the conference.

There has been significantly more competition between upper teams and lower teams this year. In the Big Ten, look no further than Maryland who has lost to both a struggling Minnesota and a Michigan team that had beaten only one other ranked opponent this year. Michigan State, also a perennial conference contender, has also struggled against lower tier teams in Wisconsin and Nebraska.  

The Big East, a conference usually plagued by inconsistent play by this time of year, has actually not self destructed for once. Teams like Providence and Seton Hall have legitimate shot at making the tournament. The majority of the conference has been in a battle for tournament spots all year and on Feb. 24 the Big East was put on a national spotlight when No. 5 Xavier upset No. 1 Villanova. On a smaller scale, the day after Xavier’s upset, Providence and Seton Hall duked it out in an effort to bolster their chances at a NCAA Tournament berth. That game also saw an upset as Seton Hall bested Providence.

No clear favorite for the National Title

Perhaps the most intriguing part to this year’s NCAA postseason is that there is no clear contender. Sure, some analysts have thrown around names like Kansas, Oklahoma and Michigan State, but there really isn’t a consensus as to who the best team in the country is. This year is the first in a long time where the National Championship seems tangible for any team that makes the tournament. Already this year we’ve seen many upsets, which should continue through March. So buckle up basketball fans, March is going to be a wild ride.

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President Obama faces a challenge in nominating successor for Supreme Court

On Feb. 13, the most widely recognized conservative voice on the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, died. Scalia took his seat on the Supreme Court as Associate Justice on Sept. 26, 1986, after President Ronald Reagan nominated him. He wrote opinions that used strong legal language. He scathingly used precedent or constitutional arguments to craft blunt arguments. Americans have mourned him and celebrated his almost 30 years of service as Associate Justice.

Antonin Scalia.

Antonin Scalia.

Hours after Scalia’s death, many conservative Republican leaders in the Senate began calling on President Obama to leave Scalia’s replacement to the next president. President Obama responded by saying that he would fulfill his constitutional obligation to nominate a successor and expects the Senate to fulfill its obligation to advise and consent.

An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court hears the arguments of cases that have been appealed to the Court and then writes opinions based on those arguments and precedents from other cases. These cases are decided by a vote of all eight of the Associate Justices and the Chief Justice.

But whom will President Obama nominate? The news media has begun speculation while the Obama Administration works to select their nominee. All of the following have extensive judicial experience either as judges or as lawyers within governmental positions.

The speculation revolves around Sri Srinivasan, who President Obama nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Srinivasan was confirmed by the Senate with a 97-0 vote. He even had the votes of Republican candidates for president, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

With this unanimous confirmation, the selection of Srinivasan is considered to be a strong choice. If the Senate votes down his potential nomination for the Supreme Court, they’d have a hard time justifying it after a unanimous decision to place him on the D.C. Circuit.

Other names that have been mentioned, and some that could be added to the short list, are Attorney General of the U.S., Loretta Lynch; former Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm; Judge for the 8th District Court of Appeals, Jane Kelly; and Senator from Montana, Amy Klobuchar.

Loretta Lynch is the current Attorney General for the United States. Her confirmation by the Senate was one of the longest in United States history at 166 days. It was also a tight vote at 56-43. Despite her long road to confirmation, she has proven herself through her previous work as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Jennifer Granholm, formerly the Attorney General as well as the Governor of Michigan, has also been on the short list for President Obama’s last two Supreme Court nominations and his last two Attorney General nominations. Granholm has been a longstanding ally of the Obama Administration and has truly built up a lot of political capital. However, she is a fresh face before the Senate and confirmation would be a tough sell.

Jane Kelly is a judge for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate also confirmed her unanimously for her position, making her a good choice for Justice. The only problem she may have is that she has a low profile and her record is not well known.

Amy Klobuchar is currently the senior Senator from Minnesota. Before her election, she was the County Attorney for Hennepin County in Minnesota and gained a reputation as a strong prosecutor. She was also on the short list for Attorney General for President Obama. Klobuchar serves on the Judiciary Committee in the Senate and due to this she may have enough political capital and personal relationships to get her out of committee and to a confirmation vote in the Senate.

Any of these choices would make fine Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. President Obama has said that he would nominate Scalia’s successor in due time, so we won’t have to speculate for much longer until we find out who he has chosen.


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Why basketball still needs the ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy

Why basketball still needs the ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy

Over the course of his 19-year career, Shaquille O’Neal was a dominant force as a big man in the NBA. O’Neal was nearly unstoppable in the post and close to the basket, leaving the task of stopping him especially challenging for his opponents. However, O’Neal had one glaring weakness in his game – his free throw shooting.

Shaquille O'Neal at the free throw line. Photo via Creative Commons.

Shaquille O’Neal at the free throw line. Photo via Creative Commons.

O’Neal’s career free throw percentage was 52 percent and it didn’t take long for opposing teams to catch on. Teams began to foul O’Neal when he went up to shoot, because it was highly likely he would miss both free throws.

This strategy quickly became known as the “Hack-a-Shaq” and was used not only on O’Neal, but other players around the NBA who couldn’t shoot free throws.

Now, five years after O’Neal hung up his jersey, the strategy that bears his namesake has come under fire by NBA fans, coaches, executives and the league itself.

Recently the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy has transformed into a far different being than what it started as. Teams have gone from predominantly fouling poor free throw shooters on their shots and more toward fouling poor free throw shooters before and during the bonus.

Most of the time the fouls committed aren’t normal accidental shooting fouls, such as a botched block attempt, but instead weak touch fouls. The problem with this adaptation is that it slows down the game exponentially. The “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy was originally used primarily on shots, or late in the game, but the present day adaptation happens throughout the entire game.

Last season, teams began to foul Clippers Center DeAndre Jordan, who has a poor free throw rate of 39.7 percent. Most of those fouls occurred before Jordan was even able to touch the ball.

The problem appeared at its worst this year during a game between the Phoenix Suns and the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were leading at half, so the Suns began to foul Pistons Center Andre Drummond, who shoots at 35 percent, right out of halftime. The fouls committed against Drummond were almost always touch fouls away from the ball, which dramatically slowed the speed and tempo of the game.

Fans, coaches and team executives have all become upset with the strategy because, in their opinions, it makes the game less enjoyable.

At first, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver brushed off these complaints saying that the NBA wouldn’t consider a rule change regarding the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy. However, with a new wave of complaints and the problem appearing to get worse, the NBA is planning to review the legitimacy of the strategy.

Despite the strategy’s namesake, the idea of fouling a big man to force him to the free throw line goes before O’Neal’s career.

Big men in basketball have the notorious stereotype of not making free throws, so fouling them to prevent their shots is nothing new. While hacking does extend games, sometimes that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In late game situations a few free throws can be the difference between a win or a loss, so it makes sense that teams would opt to foul in that situation.

Likewise, if a team is down by a large margin, a set of wasted possessions via missed free throws may be enough to turn the tide of the game.

Another element is the big men themselves. These players are professionals playing in the best professional basketball league in the world, they should be able to hit a free throw. Free throws, in the grand scheme of things, are a small part of the game and it doesn’t take a state of the art practice facility to work on them. These players should take the time and address this clear weakness in their game if not for themselves then for the sake of the team.

The “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy has its advantages and disadvantages but it should ultimately be kept in basketball. It is a legitimate way for a team to come back late in a game and in a sense rewards players who work hard on their free throws. Has the strategy today evolved into a bit of a mess? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be banned outright. The NBA could look to reform the strategy and or limit it, but an outright ban would hurt the game of basketball from top to bottom.

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