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It’s time to give Cam Newton some respect

It’s time to give Cam Newton some respect

During the last two weeks of playoff action, the Carolina Panthers have delivered two brutal defeats to the Cardinals and Seahawks respectively en route to their Super Bowl berth. They have been clicking on all sides of the ball and capitalizing on their opponents every mistake.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

No one player has played better football for the Panthers than their quarterback Cam Newton. Newton played phenomenal, picking apart two of the better defenses in the NFL and throwing for 496 yards, three touchdowns while rushing for an additional two touchdowns. Newton and the Panthers performance should surprise no one if you look over their season’s body of work.

Yet, somehow, this season Cam Newton has been called out for seemingly no justifiable reason. There have been plenty of doubters during Newton’s career and sometimes they’ve been justified. A few years ago, Newton had a rough patch of games and became irritated with both his and the teams play. His frustration showed both on the field and during interviews so much so that eventually he was confronted about it by his teammates.

Following the confrontation, Newton has been, by NFL standards, a model citizen. In spite of his growth, Newton has had every criticism thrown against him this year, many targeted his character rather than his play on the field.

He has been called a thug by many, despite having no run-ins with the law. Others have accused him of being arrogant and “fake” because when he plays he always seems to have a smile on his face.

Perhaps the most infamous criticism that he received came in week nine of the season following a 27-10 beatdown of the Tennessee Titans when an opposing fan wrote a letter about how Newton’s celebration, a dancing dab, was offensive to her 9-year-old daughter and was a poor example to all the children watching him play. Despite all of this, Newton responded by brushing it off and continuing to play at an elite level.

This season, Newton threw over 3,800 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while leading his team to an impressive 15-1 record. Perhaps what is most impressive about this is that Newton was able to put up these numbers and lead his team to the Super Bowl with a very limited talent pool.

Early on in the season Newton lost his top receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury leaving him with a group of unproven and some injury-prone wide receivers. Further adding to potential problems was a running game that also lacked consistency. Newton’s only consistent weapon was tight end Greg Olsen. The only other quarterback to play at this level with so little weapons is Tom Brady, putting Newton near the same level as one of the best quarterbacks of this generation.

Cam Newton is now approaching a milestone that no other quarterback has ever done before. According to CBS Sports, if Newton wins the Super Bowl and League MVP he will be the only other player to win a Heisman, BCS National Championship, MVP and Super Bowl in the history of the NFL. Even if Newton is unable to complete this incredible feat, he will still have a lasting impact on the game.

Newton has revolutionized the quarterback position by being both a great runner and superior passer, something very seldom seen in the NFL and even more rare from a QB with a lack of skilled position players. Newton has also been the latest QB to try to disprove stereotypes for what is expected of an African American quarterback. The main stereotype being that black quarterbacks are only good runners, not passers, which Newton’s play over the last two seasons has disproved that notion.

Cam Newton has proven time and time again that he is an elite QB that will do everything in his power to put his team in position to win. He has grown significantly as a team player and face of a franchise while maintaining his image.

When Newton plays the game he shows his emotion and looks as though he is genuinely having fun, which makes watching him that more enjoyable. This Super Bowl Sunday you can expect to see Newton playing his heart out in an effort bring a Lombardi Trophy back to Charlotte for the first time in the team’s history. So maybe it is time that Cam Newton’s critics take a step back, look at all Newton has accomplished in his short career, and appreciate his greatness.

Statistics via ESPN.com

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How the College Football Playoff can be improved

How the College Football Playoff can be improved

Another regular season of college football has finished and the College Football Playoff committee has selected the four teams that have a chance to compete for a national title.

In its second season, the CFP didn’t see nearly the same level of controversy as it did in its inaugural season when they selected Ohio State over a representative of the Big 12. This year, analysts and fans appear to be in general agreement that the four best college football teams in the country – Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, and Oklahoma – made the playoffs. However, many football fans and analysts would argue that there were a few other teams deserving of a chance at the national title.

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

So how can the CFP be improved? Many people agree that the right direction for the CFP to go in involves expansion. However, each person had a different opinion on how the playoff should be expanded.

“The top teams from every conference (in the Football Bowl Subdivision or FBS) should be allowed into the playoff to increase competition for the national title. Also, minimize the amount of bowl games to improve their meaning,” said Luis Enrique Agosto, freshman at Michigan State University.

This is an interesting idea; every single conference would be represented in the playoffs, similar to what professional football has. Certainly this would have the potential to push the lower conferences to produce better football teams in order to to compete with the “Power Five” teams. Also, it would increase the likelihood of upsets and increase the overall excitement of games. There are a few problems with this idea. For one, the new approach would essentially get rid of the ranking system that has dominated college sports for decades, which many traditional fans may reject. Secondly, this proposal excludes non-conference teams like Notre Dame until they pick a conference, which, of course, Fighting Irish fans and administration wouldn’t endorse at all.

“The playoff should be expanded to 10 teams and bowl games outside of the playoffs should minimized,” said MSU freshman Jade Harris.

With this idea, the playoff selection itself wouldn’t change, but the number of teams let in would. The ranking system would remain intact and competition would increase as more teams would be in the running for the national title. The problem with this idea is whether or not there’s enough time in the college football season for 10 teams to get through a playoff. Right now, the playoffs take three weeks: one week of games, a bye week and then the championship game. Under this proposal that would need to be expanded drastically to fit in all of those games.

Freshman Anna Stankewitz suggested that the committee should “Gradually increase the number of teams allowed into playoff until you reach the ideal amount. Also, make a distinction between bowl games and playoff games. Furthermore, top tier teams should receive some sort of home field advantage for at least one playoff game.”

Most likely this is how things would go if the playoff were to expand. The college football world (programs, committee, donors, etc.) would decide upon the number of teams it wants to expand to. For example, let’s say the committee chooses eight teams, instead of going directly from four playoff teams to eight in the span of a year, it might go from four to six in a year and then six to eight the following year. The home field advantage aspect of the idea certainly is intriguing as it would reward the upper tier teams and make wins and losses all the more special. Again, a problem with this proposal is whether or not there is enough time in the college football season to include up to eight or more teams. In addition, the idea of postseason home field advantage may not appeal to everyone.

“The CFP can’t be run like the NCAA March Madness tournament simply because the season is too short. Adding a wildcard may work; so might turning purely to computer rating system to determine the playoff contenders. Making it eight teams would do a better job at getting the best team in the nation. Separate the power bowls (Orange, Sugar, Rose, Cotton),” said MSU Sports Geography professor Dr. Arbogast.

The CFP might not have the time, but that doesn’t mean the level of excitement drawn from March Madness can’t be mirrored in college football. A wildcard(s) would certainly add excitement and increase competition within the playoffs, but the question there would be whether the committee would use rankings, record or team status as the method for selecting the team(s). An expansion to eight teams would carry many of these benefits, however, the question of time still remains an issue. Purely going to a computer rating for determining playoff contenders could also definitely cause a stir.

Another theme throughout these suggestions was the call for bowl game reform. Suggestions ranged from simply cutting some of the lesser bowls to completely separating bowl games from the CFP. Unlike playoff changes these will be extremely hard to reform and change up in a hurry. Why? The bowl system is a vital part of the college football tradition and it would be difficult to change that, even if that change would be for the better.

The CFP will change eventually and this improvement will most likely come in the form of an expansion. The powers that control college football may very well hear ideas similar to the ones stated in this article. However, even with modifications, not everyone will be happy. There will always be one team or fan base on the outside looking in. That cannot be changed. What can be changed is the product that the CFP delivers. 

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Conversion Therapy: Parental right or wrong?

Conversion Therapy: Parental right or wrong?

Many LGBTQ people come from conservative families; those who come out to these families may face the highly criticized practice of conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is a psychological practice that attempts to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity back to its “natural” state, i.e. straight and born-gender or sex.

Opponents of conversion therapy, including the American Psychiatric Association, say that the practice is harmful to the patient. Many conservatives support conversion therapy as a way for parents to decide what is best for their child, while liberals tend to oppose it by claiming that it is damaging, due to the fact that there is no evidence that shows it works. President Obama made a statement about conversion therapy back in April of 2015.

Candles for Leelah Alcorn. Photo via Wikimedia.

Candles for Leelah Alcorn. Photo via Wikimedia.

The president called for a nationwide ban in response to the story of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transwoman from Ohio, who committed suicide after her parents refused to allow her to go through transition and instead put her in conversion therapy. This therapy causes awful side effects for the individual involved, such as depression, higher risks for STDs due to risky sexual behavior and self-hatred. In the case of Alcorn, the therapy caused depression and eventually suicide.

The White House’s official response to a petition on its website from Spokeswoman Valerie Jarrett said, “this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.” 

President Obama is specifically quoted:

“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember. Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us — on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”

Psychological studies tend to point toward the liberal side of the argument. The American Psychiatric Association opposes conversion therapy based off of these studies, which say it does not work and is harmful.

The APA made this position clear in its Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts, “The American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation.”  

The right given to parents that allows them to place their children into conversion therapy has been called into question for years and all of the evidence is pointing toward a ban. However, due to a conservative Congress in many states and at the national level, there is currently no headway on the petition to ban conversion therapy.

More information on conversion therapy can be found on the Human Rights Campaign website, including which states have banned the practice for minors only, such as California and Oregon. The state of Michigan has not banned the practice due to a conservative legislature. Both the House of Representatives and Senate of Michigan are controlled by the Republican Party, which does not make pro-LGBTQ issues part of their political agenda. Due to the Republican’s hold of a majority in the House and a supermajority (two-thirds of the seats) in the Senate, they can block any bill they don’t want passed. As a result, the issue of conversion therapy can be ignored.

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Syrian refugees and the Paris attacks: Americans’ disappointing reaction

The people of the United States have collectively taken a giant step backwards with their appalling reaction in regards to Syrian refugees.

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. I’m sure if you’ve looked at your Facebook lately, you’ve seen exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about.

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

Social media has become the ultimate breeding ground for people to go all out and let the prejudice flag fly. There are many points that expose some of the hypocrisy involved.

Many seem to fear that letting refugees in seems to guarantee a future terrorist attack in the United States. After all, it was Syrian refugees that attacked Paris!

Not quite.

The evidence isn’t absolutely solid. In fact, the attackers that have been identified so far were citizens of European Union nations. This doesn’t exactly fit the profile that the paranoid masses have been pushing.

Nor does it make much sense logically. Refugees are fleeing terrorism, they have been the sole victims – they are not in any way aggressors. They are the ones who have been left homeless and without much hope. In response, Americans have truly made it entirely about themselves, fearing for our country while theirs has already been destroyed.

Furthermore, the rigorous process of entering the United States as a refugee is already quite the deterrent for would be terrorists.

Governors across the nation, including Michigan’s own Rick Snyder, have been declaring they will not participate and are going to refuse refugees altogether.

While this sentiment is surely disappointing, it’s also misguided as governors can’t make that decision. It’s up to the federal government.

Many have rallied around the point that we should be taking care of our own — the homeless, the veterans or any other American citizen that’s been left out in the cold. Yes, this is true, but nobody claiming this seemed to care before the Paris attacks. By and large this position has been used to mask prejudice against the refugees.

People also seem to grossly overestimate the amount of refugees that would actually be coming through. The number is 10,000 and people are treating it like 10 million. If the United States can’t figure out what to do with 10,000 people, whose home country has been annihilated, then the words on the Statue of Liberty mean nothing.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I suppose the offer has expired.

 

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Politicians we’d like to see in the White House but won’t

Politicians we’d like to see in the White House but won’t

Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

1. Joe Biden

As great as the current vice president of the United States is, he may have seen the end of his days in politics. His position as vice president and personality made his popularity soar, but that unique “I’m a fun ol’ guy” personality may not fly when it comes to running for the White House. He couldn’t get his presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2008 off the ground due to lack of name recognition. Even after a 36 year-long career as a senator from Delaware with significant legislation under his belt, such as the Violence Against Women Act.

2. Jennifer Granholm

Granholm’s former position as governor of Michigan would have made her a great contender for president. Her current positionality among the Democratic Party elite has brought her name up for several positions. After aiding in President Obama’s transition team, her name was brought up twice for nomination to the Supreme Court and once for an attorney general nomination. Now that Hillary Clinton is running for president, Granholm’s name has been mentioned as a possible future secretary of commerce or Democratic National Committee Chairperson. She’s still a rising star in the Democratic Party, but unfortunately she can’t rise much higher than vice president due to her Canadian roots.

3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

She’s everyone’s favorite Supreme Court Justice due to her strong opinions (if you’re a liberal that is), but her age and health would make winning a general election practically impossible. She’s now older than when President Reagan took office and both sides of the aisle are greedily eying her Supreme Court seat.

4. Kate Brown

As she has only just recently become governor of Oregon due to the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Kate Brown wouldn’t be anyone’s first pick for president.  She hasn’t had enough experience within the executive office of Oregon. However, if she wins re-election to the rest of Kitzhaber’s term, she may prove to be a very effective executive.

5. Debbie Stabenow

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is a prominent figure in the Senate. She is currently the third-ranking member of the Democratic Caucus and the chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. In 2008, the National Organization of Women encouraged President Obama to nominate her for secretary of health and human services. All of these accomplishments may point to her being a great candidate, but it appears as though she does not have the desire to run for it. Stabenow seems to be content with keeping her head down and taking care of her constituents in Michigan.

6. Al Gore

As a former congressman, senator of Tennessee and vice president of the United States, Al Gore appears to be an obvious choice as a presidential candidate. In 2000, he won the Democratic nomination unanimously and arguably won the election for president (winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral vote). Voting machine errors in Florida caused the erasure of thousands of votes that allegedly would have awarded then Vice President Gore the state and the election. After this controversial election, Gore retired from politics and is likely to never go back.

7. Russ Feingold

As a former senator of Wisconsin, Feingold is known for hardline stances on civil liberties and commitment to removing corruption from elections.  He lost his Senate seat in 2010 to Ron Johnson, but is looking to retake that same seat in 2016. Currently, predictions for a rematch between Johnson and Feingold show Feingold coming out on top by a wide margin. Back in 2008, Feingold flirted with the idea of running for president, but eventually decided against it to focus on the Senate.  Feingold is an intriguing politician to contemplate for the White House, especially since he was essentially the Bernie Sanders of 2008.  His popularity among the grassroots was strong, but amongst everyday Democrats his popularity is minimal.

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Study Abroad: What foreign nations can do for you

Study Abroad: What foreign nations can do for you

Leaving the place where you initiated your education and returning is far-removed from never leaving at all. There is an exorbitant amount to be gained from studying abroad that can later be applied back on home turf. Fresh wisdom is deeply imbedded in the distant lands that beckon you to venture from your familiar college in order to seize their astute treasures.

“The Beginning of Realization” was taken in China by Malik Martinez Hall and was one of the 2014 Study Abroad Photo contest winners. Photo via MSU Office of Study Abroad.

“The Beginning of Realization” was taken in China by Malik Martinez Hall and was one of the 2014 Study Abroad Photo contest winners. Photo via MSU Office of Study Abroad.

Incorporating a study abroad program to your college experience is what most would label a win-win. You will still receive credits while exposing yourself to the teachings of the chosen subject, just as you would at your original place of learning. Studying abroad, however, advances this by offering a unique spin on your classes that will douse you head to toe in the auxiliary bonuses of cultural awareness, access to novel philosophical arrays, a diverse network of friends, career opportunities, hands-on lessons and overall development as a person.

Porto Viro, a humble commune that resides in the Province of Rovigo in the Veneto region of Italy, is home to several Italian teenagers that I encountered and, without hesitation, adorned with the titles of brothers and sisters during my time in Europe with the extracurricular study abroad program People to People.  

Eager to practice their ever-improving English, Cecilia Bernusso, Giuseppe Adamo and Andrea Picello were willing to answer a few questions that might arise for those interested in study abroad.

Adamo has an unquenchable thirst to observe and understand his hometown and neighboring countries, so it came as no surprise that his interview was perhaps the most edifying.

The Big Green: What about Italy attracts you?

Giuseppe Adamo: Well, Italy is my country, where I was born and where I currently live, I’m forced to love it! But, excluding this, with my experience abroad I can say for sure that we have the best food in the world and an incredible history. Our cities are filled with special sites and monuments. Also, even the tiniest village can provide something incredible to show.

TBG: What are your universities like? Do they support a wholesome education?

GA: Italy can offer the oldest university of the Western world (Bologna University founded in 1088) and some of the best education centers in Europe. Another example is the University of Padova where Galileo Galilei taught. Usually the tuition in public schools is inexpensive and there are benefits and discounts for foreigners. There are many Italian universities that are recognized for their high standards.

Giuseppe Adamo with Italian flag.

Giuseppe Adamo with Italian flag.

TBG: Will it be easy for an American student to make good friends in Italy?

GA: Without a doubt! Americans especially are really popular in Italy!! The Italians are usually very friendly as well and make for great hosts.

TBG: Would you recommend American college students study in Italy or abroad in general?

GA: Absolutely YES! Travelling and being submersed in another culture is the best way to open the mind, learn things and meet new friends! For example, in Europe we have the “Erasmus Programme” which permits European students to frequent an academic year in another European country and the European Union finances this programme with billions of euro! My advice is: no matter where you start off, travel as much as possible!

What becomes evident during Adamo’s enthusiastic display of Italian pride and, equally, from his affinity for traveling is that any and every study abroad opportunity your campus extends to you should be heavily considered.

Bernusso and Picello had a corresponding wealth of knowledge to contribute to the rapidly expanding pool of reasons why this intellectual tool is so highly revered. Their personas are similarly laced with a rooted respect for Italian culture, both beamed when presented the chance to boast how their food and history were superb.

Although this may seem as if they are being ethnocentric, they each imperviously promote that any destination will have its indigenous strong suits and there will never be a scarcity of valuable pockets of experience wherever one may choose to study abroad.

What next needs addressing is the myth that studying abroad adds complexity to a student’s academic plan. It seems that students tend to shy away from study abroad programs for fear that it might exert pressure and time constraints to the academic year.

It is principal for these students to keep in mind that these programs are designed for students and can harbor numerous options in terms of destinations, courses and departure seasons. Considering the aforesaid, any college students should have no quarry finding a convenient branch of the program.

In an effort to once and for all debunk this myth, a representative peer advisor from Michigan State University’s Office of Study Abroad shed some light on the topic of discussion.

The Big Green: How will this program fit with student’s academic plans? (When will they find time? What credits they earn?) 

Study Abroad Office: It’s different for every student! One of the biggest things our office promotes is the variety of program options MSU offers. The diverse selection of locations, program types, course offerings, and timeframes allows every student the opportunity to fit study abroad into their degree program. We have over 275 programs in 60 countries around the world that are offered during every semester, including winter and spring breaks.  One of the most important steps is for students to plan early and involve their academic adviser in their search.

TBG: What can a student expect to get out of this experience that he/she could not gain from staying in the country to study? 

SAO: Studying abroad isn’t just a fun way to pick up some credits – it’s the ultimate experience for expanding your comfort zone and opening your mind. It places students in a culture completely different from their own and puts them in contact with opportunities to try new things every day. A study abroad experience can teach you to be resourceful and flexible. It can build your self-confidence and strengthen your problem-solving skills. It helps to stimulate your imagination and challenge you to deal with complexity, diversity and change that you will face throughout the rest of your MSU career and beyond graduation.

TBG: Are there any safety concerns? (Are students educated about hazardous taboos?)

SAO: Safety is definitely a priority for Michigan State. We regularly monitor safety issues in each of our program locations and employ full-time staff members responsible for health and safety concerns.  Students educated on safety issues and cultural differences in mandatory pre-departure orientation sessions. They also have access to MSU’s emergency assistance line 24/7 where this information is given to them on a card to keep with them while abroad. All students are also covered with a comprehensive international health treatment, evacuation and repatriation policy.

TBG: What are the requirements to study abroad? 

SAO: All students must be in good standing at the university with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA.  Additional requirements differ for individual programs and may include a higher GPA, certain class standing, specific major, essays, etc. Each set of requirements is listed on the program’s webpage.

The simplicity and worth of study abroad is due its dignified praise. It is no opinion that admiring the beautiful aesthetic of watching the sun rise and set on the other side of the world, interacting with the local peoples and allowing your perspectives to be influenced by the force of global wakefulness will have you returning stateside enriched with an endless strand of prodigious stories and innovative outlooks.

To quote T.S. Eliot, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

In lieu of recent events in Paris it is palatable that students may hold apprehensive attitudes towards this overseas journey. Nevertheless, France and other targeted nations are strong willed and cunning. Instead of completely disbanding all hope of studying abroad, one might pick a more sheltered and uninvolved country, in the meantime while keeping the victimized countries in their thoughts and prayers.

 

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Paris attacks leave hundreds dead, more injured

Paris attacks leave hundreds dead, more injured

The French Flag. Photo via Creative Commons.

Photo via Creative Commons.

On Nov. 13, France was attacked. Four different locations within Paris were hit, including a hostage situation and mass shooting in the Bataclan theater and explosions at the Stade de France during the France vs. Germany soccer game. Two restaurants were also fired upon in a different part of the city.

French President Francois Hollande enacted three emergency plans in response to the attacks, working to quell the hostage situation and secure the city. The president also declared a state of emergency for the entire nation of France and closed the borders.

In response to the attacks, many local Parisians tweeted using the hashtag “PorteOuverte,” which means open door. They were, quite literally, opening their doors so that those on the streets could take shelter from the attacks. Facebook also launched an emergency “I’m Safe” feature, which people could use to alert family and friends that they were safe.

The morning after the attacks, ISIS officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, praising their actions by tweeting with the hashtag “Paris is Burning.”  Before this official claim, French President Hollande made a statement in which he blamed ISIS, calling the attacks an act of war.

Many international figureheads such as Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom; President Barack Obama of the United States; Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany; President Xi Jinping of China; and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia have offered their sympathies and condolences on behalf of their nations. Prime Minister Cameron has offered any help that France needs while U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch offered assistance to French law enforcement agencies. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also offered help from the German special forces. The Holy See gave condolences and the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani declared the attacks to be a crime against humanity.

At this point the death toll has reached more than 128 people with an additional 180 injured as a result of the attacks. Eight confirmed attackers are dead and emergency plans in Paris are focused on treating the injured. Investigations are currently underway to find any accomplices or further perpetrators.

For up-to-date information on this story, go to BBC’s live page.

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Jennifer Granholm: Where is she now?

Jennifer Granholm: Where is she now?

Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan and Michigan attorney general, was a dominant political figure in Michigan for over a decade. Since her final term as governor ended in 2011, she’s seemingly kept a low profile. What exactly has she been up to?

Granholm was seen as a likely choice to run for Senator Carl Levin’s empty Senate seat in 2014, but declined for family reasons. She also aided with President Obama’s transition team in 2008. Granholm has managed to remain a well-discussed political figure in Michigan and is bolstering her national presence as well.

Former Governor for the State of Michigan Jennifer Granholm. Photo via Creative Commons.

Former Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm. Photo via Creative Commons.

Throughout President Obama’s two terms, Granholm has been speculated to be on the short list for three positions: the associate justice of the Supreme Court, which was eventually filled by Elena Kagan; the other associate justice seat filled by Sonia Sotomayor; and the attorney general position now held by Loretta Lynch.

Despite not holding office, Granholm hosted her own political talk show, “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.” The show ended after its host network was bought out by Al Jazeera. Granholm then went on to co-chair Priorities USA Action – a Political Action Committee aiming to aid in President Obama’s reelection.

Recently, after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential push gained momentum, Granholm became a leader in the PAC Correct the Record, which aims to protect Hillary Clinton from political attacks, where she can act as a surrogate for the Clinton campaign.  

What lies ahead in Granholm’s future? One thing is for certain, the United States may not be done with her yet. After years of being passed over by the Obama Administration, perhaps she will have her opportunity in the potential Clinton Administration.

Granholm has been a long-time supporter of Hillary Clinton, even endorsing her during the 2008 presidential primaries. This support over the years has the likelihood to promote Granholm from useful backbencher during the Obama Administration, to cabinet-level material in the possible Clinton Administration.  

Granholm has been frequently discussed as a good pick for the Supreme Court or as attorney general, but current speculation sees her taking a place in Clinton’s potential cabinet as secretary of commerce. If given this position, she would be in charge of promoting American businesses and industries.

Jennifer Granholm’s political star may be far from set. Her commitment to public service is pushing her into the inner circles of Democrat powerhouses – where she could easily rise in prowess. Due to her rise among Democrats and the political connections she’s made, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Jennifer Granholm stays in the public eye for years to come.

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Global Corner: Reopening the gun conversation

Global Corner: Reopening the gun conversation

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With every new mass shooting tragedy, which by the way is defined as a shooting with at least 4 casualties, the gun debate ignites like wildfire. Not every mass shooting is widely broadcasted across the national media; they would have a hard time keeping track of the 298 that have occurred so far. Sadly, a lot of people who were wounded or killed never had their story make it past the local news. We tend to focus on the especially horrible ones, most recently being the Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

It doesn’t need to be said that this was an absolute shame; something that caused nothing but pain, pain some may never overcome and none deserve. It’s easy to write this because I am privileged and unaffected, I cannot begin to imagine how the victim’s friends and families feel. They deserve nothing but empathy and understanding and I hope they are able to find it.

Death should never be the exploited talking point it is today, but that’s the culture we live in sadly. However, some of what’s been said regarding the issue needs to be checked. Just take notice that despite what you may read in this article, I am not anti-gun. I think any gun that hasn’t been banned now should stay legal and I am not for the idea of repossessing the legally purchased guns that are currently out there. To be honest, that whole idea is a paranoid fallacy anyway, I don’t see the United States descending into that level of fascism, that’s viciously absurd.

However, there have been talking points that deserve some criticism. “This isn’t about guns, this is about mental illness.” Donald Trump said it, Mike Huckabee said it, Ben Carson said it and countless others have said it. We do have an outstanding mental health care problem, but let’s not stigmatize victims of mental illness.

John Oliver brought a great article to attention on his HBO program and shared the important statistic that “fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.” I hate to parrot a television personality.

Just take it from my friend Collin Spencer, who works in mental health and had this to say:

“Don’t let the stigma fool you. The amount of people that are actually a threat to the safety of others because of a mental illness is miniscule next to the amount of people walking around without treatment or even realizing that they need it. These people need your help and support. Not to be feared.”

With that mess out of the way, let’s discuss something else: two arguments that have been tossed around forever about guns preventing crime. First, we have that criminals become reluctant to target a well-armed populace. Fair enough, that’s probably true. Secondly, we hear that such a populace can easily defend itself when crime arises. I’ll allow it.

The problem with basing our policies on arguments like this is that these are both purely hypothetical situations. These are not the sorts of claims that crime statistics have been able to prove true, especially when crime can be carried out with the same legal firearms that are supposed to prevent it. April Zeoli, an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, said:

“We live in a world of infinite possibilities, absolutely there are cases where someone was able to thwart a crime using a firearm. However, having said that, the idea that more firearms leading to less crime, has not truly been supported by the research that’s out there.”

Zeoli is referring to statistics that, more often than not, show that guns are disproportionately used to commit crime rather than prevent it. For example, in 2012 the FBI reported that across the U.S. there were 409 justifiable homicides perpetrated with firearms, as opposed to the 8,897 that were deemed criminal. There’s no reason to believe that guns can’t prevent crime in certain situations, sure, but we shouldn’t tote that claim like it is a scientific fact.

So, there you have it, my take on this controversy. There’s a lot of work to be done and I do not have all the answers. All I suggest is keep an open mind and don’t fall for what is being said by people and organizations that have ulterior motives. Remember that when it comes to gun control there’s a lot of money to be made and a lot of voters to sway.

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Professional Spartans: Le’Veon Bell

Professional Spartans: Le’Veon Bell

bellThere are 20 former Spartans currently in the National Football League, 17 of them played under Mark Dantonio. Arguably the best NFL player to come out of the Spartans lead by Dantonio is Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell.

In his three years at Michigan State University, Bell amassed 3,346 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns, the majority of which came during his final year in 2012. Bell’s first two years at MSU were spent splitting time and carries with fellow running back Edwin Baker. In 2012, Bell rushed for 1,793 yards on 382 attempts as MSU’s primary running back, catching the attention of NFL scouts and teams.

According to NFL scouts, Bell’s clear strength was the power behind his runs. They described Bell as a “Big, bruising back with power in his lower body but lighter feet than you’d expect given his size … Strong cuts and a nice burst out of them makes him capable of breaking off big runs … ” The only weakness scouts saw in his game was his height, because it slowed him down slightly and made him a much larger tackling target.

In 2013, with the 48th pick in the second round, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Bell. Bell’s impact was felt immediately as he rushed for 860 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. During that season, Bell’s weekly rushing varied quite a bit, however, he managed a 100+ yard rushing game against the Green Bay Packers in week 16.

2014 saw Bell come into his own as an NFL running back. He ran for 1,361 yards and 8 touchdowns despite injuring his knee at the end of the year. Bell broke career high rushing games twice in 2014. Once in week 3 against the Carolina Panthers, where he ran for 147 yards, and again in week 11 against the Tennessee Titans, where he ran for 204 yards and a touchdown. Bell strongly contributed to the Steelers AFC North title and their playoff berth, but was unable to play in the postseason due to injury.

Bell missed the first two games of the 2015 season due to suspension for marijuana use, but when he returned to action he showed the NFL that he is still a top 10 running back and a key piece to the Steelers’ offense. In just four games, Bell has 390 yards and two touchdowns with two 100+ yard rushing games. Three of Bell’s four games have been played without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and in his absence Bell has proven that he can carry this offense by himself, if need be.

Bell’s career is definitely trending in the right direction. Earlier this year, former NFL great Tiki Barber was asked by Bleacher Report which current running back reminds him most of himself and Barber said Bell, “Le’Veon reminds me of myself … Although he got it much quicker than I did.”

If Bell continues to play like he is now, we could be talking about him and runners like Barber in the same conversation for years to come.   

 

College stats courtesy of sports-reference.com.

NFL stats courtesy of NFL.com.

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