Tag Archives: Halie Cook

Politics of Fear

Millions of Muslims around the world have had their religious faith put on trial because of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels. Some political analysts and American Muslims fear that the battle for the Republican nomination has prompted controversial rhetoric against their religion, including proposals to register Muslims already living in America, order police to patrol their neighborhoods and mosques, and ban any further immigration.

Islamic leaders and imams in several countries say they are not responsible for terrorist organizations, and that terrorists should be recognized as separate from their religious beliefs.

Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam al-Marayati, said in a news conference in Los Angeles following the San Bernardino attacks, that the Muslim society will not be divided by ignorant hate.

“In the media landscape, one of the only times there is an opportunity for the Muslim voices to be heard is in the aftermath of a terrorist attack,” said Edina Lekovic, Public Affairs Consultant at the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “It sets up one of the few opportunities for there to be a mainstream Muslim voice, but it’s still in the context of bad news.”

Muslim organizations in America say they have seen unprecedented spikes in hateful episodes after anti-Muslim remarks were said by some presidential hopefuls. There have been many cases of vandalism and threats made towards mosques and those who attend them.

“People are going to have fundamentally, deep and profound disagreements about the highest things, and unless they get a sort of grip over themselves (and) learn to contain themselves, (then) these disagreements will find themselves in violence and political violence,”  CSUN Political Science Professor Nicholas Dungey said.

“Look we’re all concerned about safety,” Lekovic said, “and that’s something that I react to, too. It’s not a Muslim thing, a white thing, a black thing, a Latino thing…At this stage in our country, it’s an American thing.”

Moderator: Ala Errebhi

Anchor: Noemi Barajas

Producer: Ala Errebhi

Social Media Editors: Jamie Perez and Caitlin Pieh

Reporters: Noemi Barajas, Halie Cook, Juaneeq Elliott, Ala Errebhi, Jamie Perez, Caitlin Pieh and Nicholas Seaman
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Profiting from Punishment

In a population of more than 320 million American citizens, The Prison Policy Initiative estimates around 2.3 million of those citizens are incarcerated in local, state and federal prisons. Of those, more than 433,000 are serving time in federal prison for drug-related offenses.

According to NAACP, African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Caucasians. Combined with the Hispanic population, these two minority groups comprise around 58 percent of all prisoners, even though they make up around 25 percent of the U.S. population.

“The whole criminalization of drugs really impacts minorities more than anybody else,” said Jane Bayes, CSUN political science professor. “Those are the people who are being picked up for drugs and targeted for drugs… I’m not even sure they’re the major consumers of them [though], because many whites are not targeted in the same way by law enforcement.”

According to The Sentencing Project, more people are incarcerated today just for drug-related crimes, than for all crimes in 1980.

“To a certain degree, you may look at racial profiling and stereotyping [as the reason], depending …[on the]…law enforcement agencies concerned,” said Los Angeles Harbor College political science professor Van Chaney. “I still think that is a problem within law enforcement.”

Chaney said minority groups are incarcerated at higher rates for a variety of reasons, such as lack of good legal representation, dysfunctional families and communities, and low income.

“We are all familiar with the zip code 90210,” Chaney said. “If you have a helicopter in that area at two in the morning … compared to say, Figueroa and King … who would the DEA’s office probably take the case with? Would it be at 90210, compared to South LA or at least South Central LA? Just the name itself changes [things]. I mean it’s that discrepancy that affects, unfortunately, a lot of minority groups.”

The Sentencing Project also reported that people of color make up about 37 percent of the U.S. population, but comprise 67 percent of the total prison population. A TIME study estimates black youth are arrested for drug crimes at a rate 10 times higher than whites, but whites are more likely to abuse these drugs.

Another controversy is the increasing privatization and profitability of prisons. According to the Drug Police Alliance, federal and state governments have spent over $1 trillion on the so-called war on drugs over the past four decades, relying on tax dollars to pay the bills.

“To me, one of the biggest problems is we’ve made prisons into money making operations,” Bayes said, “and that provides all kinds of new incentives to fill the prisons and to keep them [full,] too.”

Private prisons make a huge profit from incarcerating drug offenders, according to the NAACP, mainly due to the mandatory minimum sentencing put in place for drug possession. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average prison sentence for federal drug offenders is more than 11 years. According to the VERA Institute of Justice , the total cost to house prisoners ranged from $14,603 in Kentucky, to $60,076 in New York, per inmate each year. Critics suggest taxpayer dollars are not being well spent, considering that more than two-thirds of all incarcerated prisoners will return to prison within three years of being released.

The debate over the war on drugs is an ongoing one among many Americans, who are concerned about how their tax dollars are spent. Considering the high rate of recidivism, and how much money is spent to imprison drug offenders, many question whether the criminal justice system of prisons is a big business, or a new form of slavery, or both.

Moderator: Nicholas Seaman

Anchor: Caitlin Pieh

Producer: Nicholas Seaman

Social Media Editors: Noemi Barajas and Juaneeq Elliott

Reporters: Noemi Barajas, Halie Cook, Juaneeq Elliott, Ala Errebhi, Caitlin Pieh, Jamie Perez and Nicholas Seaman

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Breaking the Bathroom Boundaries

CSUN’s University Student Union took some steps forward recently, in terms of equality and inclusion, by installing two gender-inclusive restrooms in the Oasis Wellness Center.  Now some students are saying it is not enough.

The restrooms serve as the only gender-inclusive restrooms on a campus with a student population of over 40,000.

“I didn’t even know we had gender inclusive restrooms at the Oasis Center until last week,” said Alex Soto, president of Gamma Rho Lambda. “Having gender-inclusive bathrooms really helps me feel better about my self-esteem and my identity.”

To some, the idea of going into a gendered bathroom can be intimidating. The Williams Institute found that 70 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming respondents experienced harassment at least once while using public restrooms.

“So many times I go into the female restroom, and it’s like ‘What are you?’” Soto said. “You know, ‘What kind of creature are you?’ It almost seems that way. I don’t fit into either binary.”

Soto said implementing more gender-inclusive restrooms throughout all 29 on-campus buildings would alleviate the stress felt by many in the trans community.

“It’s about comfort and personal safety,” said Nia Clark, a coordinator at Lifeworks at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “A lot of trans folks don’t feel comfortable using certain bathrooms. Wouldn’t it be great to use a bathroom where you don’t have to worry about how you look to others?”

Clark said stereotypes often have a lot to do with the perception of who should and shouldn’t be in particular bathrooms.

“There is a negative stereotype about me coming into the restrooms, and doing inappropriate things with my body, or exploiting a young person, or being exploitive toward other women, and I think there’s this misconception right there: that when we’re in there, we are there to do more than go to the bathroom,” Clark said. “We use the bathroom for the same reasons everyone else uses the bathroom, and I think once people are able to actually get some knowledge about the community, they will understand why it is a necessity to have that bathroom.”

In August 2013, California Assembly Bill 1266 made it a state law  “that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

“This actually stipulates that legally young people, when attending school or in a school setting, have an actual right, a legal right, to have affirming spaces regardless of their gender identity or expression,” Clark said.

Educating people about the lives of the LGBTQ and trans community will make a difference in their mindset and eventually the policies surrounding large organizations.

“When I train people, what I say to them is … [to compare this issue to their] … college experience,” Clark said. “When young people attend school and don’t necessarily know what they want to study, there is a category for that: it would be ‘undecided’ or ‘general studies’.  So academia has an understanding that young people don’t necessarily fit into one category, or don’t necessarily know what’s going to work for them. And if the university can provide and accommodate for that, why can’t we do the same for where they use the bathroom?”

Freddie Sanchez, assistant director for the Resource Center at the University Student Union, said the USU is looking at what students need in order to be successful, and restrooms are part of that.

“I think we…have an ability to continue to work with our students to see what the needs are,” said Sanchez. “If we need additional gender inclusive restrooms and different facilities, that’s something that we would look towards to sort of change and implement, but there’s a process.”

Moderator: Jamie Perez

Anchor: Juaneeq Elliott

Producer: Jamie Perez

Social Media Editors: Ala Errebhi and Caitlin Pieh

Reporters: Noemi Barajas, Halie Cook, Juaneeq Elliot, Jamie Perez and Nicholas Seaman

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Combating the MMA Controversy

Mixed Martial Arts has been gaining popularity over the last decade, even with children. With prominent figures like Rhonda Rousey, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and many others involved, it is no surprise that MMA would eventually appeal to kids.

But many parents are on the fence about placing their kids in MMA, because of the perception that this sport causes a lot of serious injuries through direct physical contact.

Studies published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine and the North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy report that MMA poses greater risks for injury than other combat sports, especially among professionals.

But, according to some UFC advocates, MMA does not incorporate violence into classes for kids, and may actually be an outlet for some children to channel their aggression in healthy ways.

“There’s a misconception that parents think throwing kids into martial arts is actually going to make them more aggressive, and [the] kids are going to become bullies,” said Turbo, a UFC fighter and coach. “In reality, it’s the complete opposite. They now have a structure where they can kind of channel their energy.”

Many parents are signing their kids up, despite the controversy, because the training and exercise seems to increase their kids’ confidence and motivation, in school as well as in other areas of life. In 2012, ESPN reported nearly 5.5 million teenagers and another 3.2 million kids under 13 participating in MMA training.

“[My daughter] became very confident, very outgoing,” said UFC coach and mother Aja Starr, “and being able to do one workout gave her the confidence that she could to do the next workout…[Kids] make the connection between being a good athlete and being a good student, and being a good person.”

“There’s a lot of children throughout the world who could benefit from this, and could also increase their self-esteem and their grades, and actually their relationship with their parents,” said CSUN Psychology Professor Herman Rodriguez.

“I think it’s just a misconception that parents think that they’re basically ushering their kids into this very violent arena, when in fact it’s like any sport,” Starr said. “It’s no different than karate or taekwondo or soccer, for that matter. I think what people miss is that there’s a sport, there’s a real discipline to it, and there’s a real path that their kids are on that doesn’t necessarily have to lead to aggression.”

Moderator: Caitlin Pieh

Anchor: Ala Errebhi

Producer: Halie Cook

Social Media Editor: Nicholas Seaman

Reporters: Noemi Barrajas, Halie Cook, Juaneeq Elliott, Ala Errebhi, Jamie Perez and Nicholas Seaman

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