Trump’s Nominee to Take Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat: Amy Coney Barrett

By Lelani Williamson

President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to take recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s open seat on the Supreme Court. Trump stated that Barrett is a “woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.” Barrett, elected by Trump in 2017, is an appeals court judge for the Seventh Circuit. She is also a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School where she teaches classes on constitutional law, the federal courts, and statutory interpretation. Barrett is a devout Catholic and a proven conservative. In the past, she has served as a clerk for former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, and was a previous candidate to fill a seat on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy retired (a seat that went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh). 

In regards to her opinions and interpretations, Barrett is a textualist and originalist. She is pro-life and has been involved with Faculty for Life, Notre Dame’s anti-abortion group. Although she has stated that it is unlikely the ruling of Roe v. Wade would be overturned, critics still believe that she intends to overturn the ruling that legalized abortions. Barrett was also the one person that disagreed with a decision to prohibit a felon from possessing a firearm, stating that “founding legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.” She also declared that she would not be beholden to the doctrine of stare decisions. This doctrine asks the court to follow the precedents set in similar cases, but she has made it clear that she will “enforce her understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent.” Additionally, Barrett has been involved with organizations such as the American Law Institute and the Federalist Society, which advocate for textualist and originalist interpretations of the United States Constitution.

As a candidate, Barrett has been met with both support and disapproval. Feminists and the community of Democrats are making it clear that they don’t want Amy Coney Barret to replace women’s right activist and liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Women all around the world view Ginsburg as a “feminist icon,” leaving the person chosen to take her seat big shoes to fill. However, some people don’t think Barrett will fill these shoes the proper way. Law professor Lara Bazelon stated that “the next Supreme Court justice will cast crucial votes that affect women’s fundamental rights, including the right to control their own bodies and to gain access to affordable health care for themselves and their families. The fact that President Trump’s nominee is a woman matters less if she does not support the causes at the heart of the long, continuing march for gender equality that Justice Ginsburg championed.” Senator Kamala Harris has also stated her opinion on the matter, saying that Barrett “will undo (Ginsburg’s) life’s work.” 

Although Barrett has some who don’t agree with her nomination, Conservatives believe she is the perfect candidate. President of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said that “she is the perfect combination of a brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially contrary to the views of the sitting women justices.” Along with Marjorie, law professor Jonathan H. Adler has stated his views that “as a scholar and a judge, she has shown herself to be a very careful and deliberate thinker who is concerned with getting the right answer, whether or not it’s the popular answer.” They see Barrett as someone who will add to the court with her unique views and perspective. 

No matter what way people view Amy Coney Barrett, her confirmation process is set to begin on October 12th. She has spent the past few weeks meeting with Senators ahead of her confirmation hearings. As Trump has tested positive for coronavirus, Barrett has been taking safety precautions to ensure that she, nor anyone else, will obtain the virus so that they can proceed with her confirmation process happening over the next few weeks. 

The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By: Celia Pope

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of America’s greatest female political leaders. 

Ginsburg spent her life pushing through years of adversity and served for thirteen years on the Supreme Court, successfully fighting against gender discrimination and attempting to unify the liberal block of the court, as well as breaking many barriers of unfair gender-based legislations. Sadly, on September 18, 2020, Ginsburg passed away after a long, hard battle with pancreatic cancer. Though her death left the nation in shock and sorrow, we can’t help but realize what an amazing legacy she left behind and how much Ginsburg changed. She not only caused an entire societal transformation, but altered the way America would look at the world forever.

After pushing through years of adversity and struggles with money and her mother’s death, Ruth Bader became Ruth Bader Ginsburg after marrying her husband Martin, and had her first child. Soon after she began her studies at Harvard, her husband was diagnosed with cancer, which, though caring for her husband and maintaining her position at top of the class posed a challenge, never deterred her academic excellence at the school. The struggles of motherhood and having to face extreme discrimination from being in a male-dominated class, even from the highest authorities, began to push her limits. However, being the persister she was, Ginsburg pushed on and not only graduated from Harvard and served as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review, but also went on to do the same at Columbia University and graduated top of her class once more in 1959.

After years of working as a clerk and searching unsuccessfully for a fair job at a firm, she decided to follow her other passion and joined the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure. During this time, she lived abroad in Sweden to research for her book on Swedish social procedures. Upon her return in 1963, she was hired as a professor at Rutgers University Law School, a position she held until accepting an offer to teach at Columbia in 1972. Ginsburg also directed the influential Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s. In this position, she led the fight against gender discrimination and successfully argued six landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg took a broad look at gender discrimination, fighting not just for the women left behind, but for the men who were discriminated against as well. After serving for the U.S. Court of Appeals for thirteen years, Ginsburg was finally appointed by Bill Clinton to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her career as a justice where she left off as an advocate: fighting for women’s rights. In her years as a Justice, she did many incredible things, such as writing the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, holding that qualified women could not be denied admission to Virginia Military Institute. Instead of creating sweeping limitations on gender discrimination, she attacked specific areas of discrimination and violations of women’s rights one at a time, so as to send a message to the legislatures on what they can and cannot do. Ginsburg did not shy away from giving pointed guidance when she felt the need, even in situations such as helping Obama write his first legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. 

According to Oyez.com, “Until her death on September 18, 2020, Ginsburg worked with a personal trainer in the Supreme Court’s exercise room, and for many years could lift more than both Justices Breyer and Kagan.” Ginsburg never missed a day of oral arguments until 2018, not even when she was undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, after colon cancer surgery, or the day of her husband’s death. Ginsburg relentlessly proved that she was a force to be reckoned with; anyone who doubted her ability to effectively complete her judicial duties would just have to look at her oral argument records to see that she was among the most avid questionnaires on the bench. Ginsburg was an inspiration to all people around the world and was living proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover. If you look inside her book, you could find one of the most relentless social justice warriors in political history.

A Recap of the First Presidential Debate

By: Sarah Govert 

The first presidential debate took place on Tuesday, September 29th between current President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, with Chris Wallace of Fox News moderating. With the election looming a little more than a month away, this debate was crucial in firmly establishing opinions and views of each candidate and possibly convincing some Americans watching who to vote for. The debate covered six broad topics: Trump and Biden’s political records, the Supreme Court and the vacant seat, coronavirus, the economy, race and violence, and the integrity of the election. I’ll be recapping three of these topics in this article, and they are as follows: the Supreme Court, race and violence, and the integrity of the election. Let’s take a look at what the two presidential candidates had to say.

The Supreme Court:

In the week following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, President Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to succeed her. This nomination has caused great tensions lately, as statements that were made by Republican Senators when former president Barack Obama attempted to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in the last year of his term have come to light once more. When President Trump was asked about why he is correct in his argument that a nominee must be considered, he stated “We have the Senate, we have the White House, and we have a phenomenal nominee, respected by all top, top academic — good in every way, good in every way.” Trump then goes on to say that they won the election, so they have the right to nominate a candidate, stopping after that point. In response, Biden commented that “the American people have a right to have a say to who the Supreme Court nominee is, and that say occurs when they vote for United States senators and when they vote for the President of the United States.” He goes on to say that Americans won’t get the chance to have a say anymore if the nomination goes through, as the election has already started and tens of thousands of citizens have voted already. He ends this point by saying that we should wait and see what the outcome of the election will be before moving forward with a nomination, and is then cut off by President Trump.

Race and Violence:

This segment of the debate begins with moderator Chris Wallace asking about the statement that President Trump made in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 following a white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally, after which President Trump stated that there were “very fine people on both sides.” Wallace asks from both candidates responses, as well as how they will deal with race issues, and Biden leads off the segment. He discusses how he has never walked away from trying to make America a place with equality for all, even though it hasn’t been accomplished thus far. Biden brings up the Charlottesville rally, describing the scene of anti-Semetic slurs and Ku Klux Klan members, emphasizing on how Trump called these people “very fine.” He goes on to discuss the peaceful protests that occurred after the death of George Floyd and how Trump had the military tear gas the protestors. He ends his point by stating, “The general who was with him said he only, all he ever wants to do is divide people, not unite people at all. This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division.” Trump responds to Biden’s statements by bringing up a crime bill in 1994 done by Biden, in which he called African-Americans “super predators.” He then goes on to discuss how his campaign has the support of law enforcement. This segment concludes with the issue of systemic racism and injustice in America, with Biden stating that there is systemic injustice in education and law enforcement and the way that it’s enforced. He discusses how police officers must be held accountable and ends his section by reinforcing that peaceful protests are the answer. President Trump is then asked by Wallace about systemic racism and why he ended sensitivity training that addresses white privilege and critical race theory. He responds to these questions by saying, “I ended it because it’s racist… It was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools, all over the place… They were teaching people to hate our country. They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, it’s a racist place.” This segment is then concluded by Wallace.

The Integrity of the Election:

The final segment of the debate discusses the integrity of the elections and the confidence that both of the candidates have in the fact that the election will be fair and legitimate. Biden begins this segment, first talking about how people should go to iwillvote.com and decide how and when they’re going to vote in the upcoming election. He further reassures watchers of the debate in the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, stating, “His own Homeland Security director, as well as the FBI director, says there’s no evidence at all that mail-in ballots are a source of being manipulated and cheating.” He goes on to say that in-person voting will be able to happen as it usually does, with poll workers working diligently to make sure that all votes are counted and voters are able to stay socially distanced. He also restates that he will accept the results either way, win or lose. Biden ends his segment by reinforcing the need to vote, saying that “You will determine the outcome of the election.” However, President Trump uses his two minutes to express his views that this election is “going to be fraud like you’ve never seen.” He uses examples of finding ballots in creeks and wastepaper baskets already, saying that it’s a “rigged election.” Trump does agree that if it’s a fair election, he is “100% on board.” Wallace ends this segment of the debate by stating that on Election Night, Americans might not know who the president will be, possibly for weeks after. 

And with that final statement by moderator Chris Wallace, the first presidential debate of 2020 is concluded. The next debate will be broadcast on October 7th from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, with Vice Presidential nominees Mike Pence and Kamala Harris debating, starting at 9 pm. To check out President Trump’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s websites, see the additional resources listed below. The full transcript of the debate is also listed.

Additional Resources:

Websites:

https://joebiden.com/

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/

Transcript:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/30/presidential-debate-read-full-transcript-first-debate/3587462001/

The Fight for Democracy Infiltrates Hollywood

By Kiera Kofkin-Hansen

#BoycottMulan is a hashtag trending on Twitter and various other social media platforms and has been for almost two weeks now. The reason behind people’s negative views towards Disney’s newest live action film is mainly due to controversial tweets posted by the lead actress Liu Yifei supporting the Hong Kong police and seemingly disapproving of the pro-democracy protests, which have unfortunately turned violent as a result of police brutality.

The Chinese government has long been in control through the Communist Party, but Hong Kong’s government had always differed from the rest of the country — up until now. Hong Kong was a British colony for the better part of a century, and therefore had a different governing style and way of life for its citizens compared to the rest of the country. However, in 1997, the British government returned Hong Kong to China with the expectation that Hong Kong could proceed with their more democratic ways for another 50 years. Unfortunately, in recent years the Chinese government and Hong Kong Police have violently enforced multiple laws infringing on the basic human rights of its people and attempted to convert the Westernized city to be on par with the rest of the Communist-run country. Laws that restrict freedom of speech and threaten to throw any that oppose the ruling party in prison have only grown stronger in Hong Kong, as the political activists and democratic saviors have grown continually weaker from the immense force of the government. 

Liu Yifei is the star of the new Mulan movie, meaning that her actions now potentially have large consequences for the movie which she acted in, and based on the hashtag flooding people’s Twitter feeds after her questionable post, it has. Yifei shared a tweet from a government-run newspaper supporting the Hong Kong police stating, “I also support the Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now,” and then furthered her political statement by adding, “What a shame for Hong Kong.” This tweet is highly controversial due to the fact that the Chinese government and Hong Kong police department are blatantly trying to strip the citizens of Hong Kong from the basic human rights that they have enjoyed for years. 

Many people are outraged by Yifei’s support for the injustices occurring in China, as she stars in a children’s film with a theme of standing up against oppressors and “the normal” in society, exactly what the protesters in Hong Kong are attempting to do. Throughout history, boycotts have proven successful in accomplishing their goals, and in today’s day and age, a simple hashtag can go a long way in fighting for justice. By boycotting the Mulan movie, supporters of the protests in Hong Kong hope to relay the message that those who support oppression should not be supported, and those who aim to be or portray role models should practice what they preach. 

What Exactly Does Impeachment Mean?

BY: ALEXIS COPE

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” 

That’s Article II, Section IV of the Constitution of the United States, the document detailing the format and inner workings of our nation’s government. It’s well known, well studied, and well worn; it’s the ingenious piece of paper that has created the world’s first successful democracy. This Constitution has lasted over two hundred years, a small time compared to some nations, but a rather extraordinary amount of time for a democracy. Even after a civil war threatened to end that democracy, she persevered, and since then our nation has only grown stronger. Given recent developments, the Constitution’s impeachment policy has become of particular interest to the American public. 

So, what is impeachment, exactly? Well, it turns out it isn’t quite what you’re thinking.

First, some context. The first recorded use of impeachment was in the British Parliament, as a check of power on the king. It gave Parliament the ability to remove government officials without needing permission from the current ruling monarch. However, this process didn’t allow for the removal of the king, as he was considered the cornerstone of British power. 

It was in this detail that the Founding Fathers disagreed with Britain’s policy. They refuted the idea of a centralized power that could act without the consent of those it governed, especially since they had just gained independence from a nation whose government operated in that manner. 

Immediately after the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers set up America’s first government under The Articles of Confederation, a document that essentially let each state create its own government and function almost totally independently from the rest. However, the Articles failed after only a few years, chiefly due to the lack of a strong centralized government that could unite the states. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it was decided by the Founders and delegates from each state that centralized power was necessary to form a united nation and establish order.  With all agreeing that checks and balances were necessary to hinder abuses of power, the Founders set up systems such as the three branches of government, the need for Senate approval, veto power, and judicial review. If any official were to abuse his power or conspire against the nation, impeachment was set in place as a sort of final safety mechanism. 

So, how does impeachment work? 

According to the Constitution, the impeachment process starts when any citizen presents a serious claim of misconduct against any civil officer, including the president. Once an allegation is made, the case is taken to the House of Representatives, where the accusation and evidence will be reviewed and scoured by a House Committee – usually the Committee on Rules or the Committee on the Judiciary. After reviewing the evidence of misconduct, they will publish a recommendation. If there is cause to continue, the House will hold votes on the specific charges against the accused, also known as the Articles of Impeachment. If even one of the charges passes by a majority vote, the accused is impeached.

Impeachment itself does not remove an official from office, instead, it is simply the formal statement of misconduct. Removal is decided in a second step–trial–where the defendant can either be acquitted or convicted. The trial will take place before members of the Senate, who act as both the judge and the jury. It is worth noting that the Judicial Branch is only involved if the president or vice president is on trial. In this case, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the meeting. In all cases, the accused official and their lawyers are given the opportunity to defend themselves. If, at the end of the trial, the vote to convict passes by a majority of two-thirds, the impeached official is immediately removed from their position, and their case is open for standard criminal prosecution. 

It’s a pretty straightforward process, but what crimes are worthy of impeachment? The Constitution isn’t very clear about this; an official can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors.” So, really, there’s quite a lot of room for interpretation. 

Impeachment is a rare occurrence, let alone conviction and removal from office. In the entire history of the United States, only two presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson, for attempting to replace his Secretary of War without consent of the Senate, and Bill Clinton, for lying during a sexual harassment trial. Both were acquitted. Richard Nixon faced the possibility of impeachment but resigned before any true proceedings could occur.

 Within the past week, an impeachment inquiry against President Trump has been filed on the grounds of collusion with the ally nation of Ukraine. It all began when an unidentified whistleblower complained that the president had made an inappropriate “promise” to a foreign leader. We have since learned that President Trump, while on a call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, urged Zelensky to “investigate” Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. This call suspiciously fell a mere one week after President Trump ordered his acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back nearly $400 million aid, slated to be used for military aid in Ukraine. House Democrats, led by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, immediately filed the inquiry. If the House finds sufficient evidence, President Trump may very well find himself added to that same short list of impeached presidents, and could possibly become the first to be removed from office. Only time will tell. 

On Thursday, President Trump began to publicly urge China to also investigate the Bidens.

BY JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES.
Nancy Pelosi formally endorsing an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The Unique Impacts of Matthew, Florence, and Dorian

BY: ELISE BAGLEY

It’s well known that global climate change has led to an increased prevalence of extreme weather phenomena. North Carolina has been hit by several severe hurricanes in recent years, and those storms have not only impacted our state, but the country as a whole. Every hurricane is unique, with each having its own “personality.” For instance, every storm takes a different path to its final destination, due to deeply complicated, not-fully-understood weather patterns. Some hurricanes cause more flooding, while others lead to more wind damage; some hit the coast hard, while others may actually hit inland North Carolina worse. Since 2016, there have been three major hurricanes that have caused significant damage to our area. In order to better understand these storms, let’s look at some unique features of each. 

Hurricane Mathew: October 8-9, 2016

Hurricane Mathew was a unique storm for North Carolina: while most hurricanes enter North Carolina through the Outer Banks, Mathew came up into our state from South Carolina, before stalling and heading back out to sea. This caused catastrophic damage in the southeastern portion of the state, accumulating 4.8 billion dollars in damages. 28 people were killed in North Carolina alone, including 19 who drowned in their cars. 

Horrific flooding, caused by Hurricane Matthew, shown in a neighborhood in eastern North Carolina. (National Weather Service, 2016)

Hurricane Florence: September 14, 2018

Hurricane Florence, nicknamed “The Frankenstorm” made landfall just south of Wrightsville Beach on September 14, 2018. The Category 1 storm held sustained wind speeds of 106 miles per hour and a 12-foot storm surge. The Charlotte Observer stated that of the 33 hurricanes that hit North Carolina before Florence, the only other one that made landfall as far north as Florence was Hurricane Hazel (1933). Florence turned deadly due to its slow-moving and determined nature. 30 people died as a direct result of the storm and 23 additional people died in situations indirectly related to Hurricane Florence. The cost for damages far exceeded Mathew, at 17 billion dollars in statewide damages. 

Neighbors shown attempting to rescue local citizens from the rising floodwaters of Hurricane Florence. (Chip Somodevilla-Getty Images, 2018)

Hurricane Dorian: August 22-24, 2019

In late August of this year, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and made its way to the States. Dorian’s path traveled straight up the east coast of the US, making landfall in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Dorian reached the Outer Banks as a powerful Category 2 storm, devastating these islands with the second direct hit from a hurricane in less than a year. Even houses on stilts had water covering their first floors as Dorian raised water levels over 7 feet in just an hour and a half. Dorian spun off many tornadoes with wind speeds of up to 90 miles an hour. Hundreds of residents were trapped on top of their houses waiting to be rescued. Four people have died in North Carolina due to Dorian and the cost for damages is estimated to be over 5 billion dollars nationwide. 

A trailer home in Emerald Isle in shown upended after a tornado caused by Hurricane Dorian.  (Morgan Newell-NewsChannel 12, 2019)

Header image: Satellite view of Hurricane Dorian on September 2 GETTY IMAGES

Live Updates on The UNC Charlotte Shooting

By The Page Editing Staff

charlotte

BREAKING: CHARLOTTE, NC– Two students are reported dead and four injured in a shooting on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The campus remains on lockdown while police clear every building, a process expectedo take several more hours. University officials believe that there is no ongoing threat at this time but are taking every possible precaution. Exams at the school have been cancelled through Sunday and students not in a building are encouraged to leave campus if possible. This is a developing story and will be updated.

UPDATE: 10:23 PM: The UNCC chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega | Lambda Delta fraternity released a statement stating that Drew Pescaro, a member of that fraternity was injured in the shooting and is currently being treated at Carolinas Medical Center. Pescaro is a sophomore communications native at UNCC and a Massachusetts native who graduated in 2017 from Middle Creek High School in Cary.

UPDATE: 10:38 PM: The suspected gunman is 22-year-old Trystan Terrell, a History major who dropped out this semester. Police say they have no reason to believe anybody else is involved. 

UPDATE: 10:44 PM: NC Governor Roy Cooper held a joint press conference with the Chancellor of UNCC and the UNCC Police Chief. He commended the first responders on the scene. Among his remarks were: “I want this university and city to know that this state will be there for them… for many people here, this will be the worst day of their lives,” and “this is a tough day, but the university will get through it… students should not have to fear for their lives on campuses.

UPDATE: 10:53 PM: UNC Charlotte’s Office of Emergency Management tweeted that the lockdown had been lifted. Students may go to the student union, residence halls, or depart campus.The school’s chancellor has put out a statement outlining the university’s response and offering more details on the shooting. Read the full statement here.

UPDATE 12:00 AM WEDNESDAY: The UNC Charlotte Emergency Management Office announced that the university is operating at a Condition 2 suspended state of operation as of midnight May 1st. More information can be found here.

UPDATE: 2:20 AM: The official Twitter account of the UNC Charlotte Emergency Management Office tweeted the following this morning at 2:20 AM: “NinerAlert: ALL CLEAR. Campus lockdown has been lifted. Kennedy building remains closed due to active crime scene. Continue to check campus email and emergency.” The university is still cancelling exams through Sunday and remains in a C2 suspended operations status as of 8:53 AM. Find more tweets, including updates on dining services, emotional support and other continued updates here.

UPDATE: 3:57 AM: The official Twitter account of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department has released a statement confirming that suspected killer Trystan Andrew Terrell, a 22 year old former student of UNC Charlotte, has been formally charged by detectives.  The charges levied against him include two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon and intent to kill, possession of a firearm on educational property and discharge of a firearm on educational property.

UPDATE 9:05 AM: Drew Pescaro, a Middle Creek High School graduate and current Middle Creek High School student and sports writer for the UNCC Niner Times who is the only publicly identified victim of Tuesday evening’s shooting, is in stable condition after undergoing surgery. His brother Ross Pescaro, who declined to issue an official statement in an overnight interview with local news station WBTV, has confirmed that Drew is in stable condition and his family is on their way to be with him in the hospital in Charlotte. The victim’s brother asked for people to keep Drew in their prayers and to use the hashtag #DrewStrong when posting about him on social media. The Niner Times released a statement of support for Pescaro overnight confirming that he is stable and that “the full support of the Niner Times staff is behind him” as he continues to recover.

UPDATE 10:17AM: Phillip Dubois, the chancellor of UNC Charlotte, has identified the six victims of Tuesdays shooting to local radio station WBT. The four injured, one of whom has been released from the hospital, include 19-year-old Drew Pescaro and 20-year-old Sean DeHart of Apex, 20-year-old Ramy Alramadhan of Saudi Arabia and 23-year-old Emily Haupt of Charlotte. Dubois identified 19-year-old Ellis Parlier of Midland and 21-year-old Riley Howell as the two who were killed, both pronounced dead at the scene of the attack. In light of this tragedy and in respect of its victims, NC Governor Roy Cooper has ordered that all flags are to fly at half-mast for the time being.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the UNC Charlotte community. We know this is an incredibly difficult time of unimaginable loss, and will continue to post updates as more details are released. Please keep communicating with those you know on campus, stay informed and most importantly, stay safe.

 

The R. Kelly Charges Explained

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Dubbed the “King of R&B,” R. Kelly is celebrated as one the greatest R&B singers of all time. However, Kelly’s career has been filled with rumors involving abuse, paedophilia, and predatory behavior toward women. Recently, he has been sued on accounts of sexual abuse by multiple women, three of which were underage at the time of encounters. Kelly has denied each of these charges.

On February 22, 2019 a grand jury indicted Kelly on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims all under the age of 17. This indictment came one month after the release of Surviving R. Kelly, a Lifetime docu-series about the women with stories of sexual abuse by R. Kelly, ignited calls to have the singer fully investigated.

Earlier in February, Attorney Michael Avenatti, the representative for an R. Kelly “whistleblower,” handed over to prosecutors a tape featuring Kelly and an underage girl participating in sexual activities. The details of the tape mirror the child pornography allegations R. Kelly faced in 2002; he was acquitted of those charges in 2008. This evidence presented by Avenatti was what ultimately pushed the grand jury to indict the singer.

On Friday, February 22, 2019, Kelly turned himself into a Chicago police station. He appeared in court the following Saturday for a bail hearing set at $1 million, which he was unable to pay until the next Monday. (His lawyer has reported that his finances are “a mess” due to losing his contract and tour dates.) On March 22nd, Kelly’s lawyer requested a delay for the next court hearing. Kelly claimed he had concert dates in Dubai; however, this claim has been denied by Dubai’s government. The next court hearing will take place on May 7th.

The Jussie Smollett Case: A Timeline

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

On January 22, 2019, Empire actor Jussie Smollett reported receiving a threatening envelope with “MAGA” written in red ink as the return address. Inside this envelope, which was sent to his workplace at Fox production studios on Chicago’s West Side, were cut-out letters spelling “You will die black” and crushed pain reliever. A week later, the actor reported that he was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, declared “This is MAGA country,” and hit him before wrapping a noose wet with acid around his neck. Following his report, police searched for hours going through footage but couldn’t find direct evidence of the alleged attacks. However, police did find an image of two men during the time leading up to the attack.

On February 1, Smollett released his first statement since the alleged attack, insisting that he was “100 percent factual and consistent on every level” in his talks with authorities. The next day, Smollett thanked his supporters at his first performance since the incident.

About two weeks after the alleged attack, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America to quell any doubts of the attack’s validity. Later that day, the Chicago Police informed the media that two Nigerian-American brothers captured on video around the time and location of the supposed attack were seen as potential suspects and would be interviewed. However, the next afternoon, the Chicago PD confirmed the innocence of the two brothers, and they were released, leading many to question Smollett’s testimony.

While in custody, the two Nigerian-American brothers gave valuable information that led the Chicago PD to investigate whether Smollett paid the two brothers and orchestrated the whole attack. Smollett responded to these accusations in a strongly worded statement claiming he was victimized.

Two days later, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The day after he was charged, Smollett turned himself in to Chicago PD, who set his bond at $100,000. Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.

The day after Smollett made bail, Fox Television released a statement that his character would be removed from the last two episodes of Empire’s current season.

After continued investigation, a Cooke County grand jury indicted Jussie Smollett on 16 counts of disorderly conduct, and on March 14th Smollett pleaded not guilty to all counts. In recent news, prosecutors dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel blasted the decision as a “whitewash of justice,” while various celebrities including Ava Duvernay and Smollet’s Empire co-star Taraji P. Henderson claimed the news validated their support for Smollett. 

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Recipients

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who have done honorable efforts in four main areas: arms control and disarmament, peace negotiation, democracy and human rights, and work aimed at creating a better organized and more peaceful world. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Both Mukwege and Murad have made meaningful contributions in their home countries and throughout the world to bring attention to these war crimes.

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999 as a clinic for gynecological and obstetric care, and expected to be working on issues of maternal healthcare. However, when the Second Congo War began, which took the lives of almost 6 million Congolese lives, rape had continually been used as a weapon, and the amount of sexual violence towards women and children increased drastically. Since 1999, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence. The hospital not only treats survivors with physical wounds, but also provides legal, and psycho-social services to its patients in a center called the City of Joy.

Dr. Nadia Murad herself is a survivor of sexual violence. In 2014 she was captured and endured months as a sex slave at the hands of Islamic State militants after they swept through the area of northern Iraq where she lived with her family and killed several hundred people. During her time in captivity, Murad was bought and sold several times and was subject to sexual and physical abuse, including threats that she would be killed if she did not convert to their hateful, oppressive version of Islam. The sexual abuses of the  Islamic State army were systematic, a part of their military strategy, and therefore a weapon of war. After three months as a captive, Murad managed to flee—and she did not stay quiet.

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Dr. Nadia Murad have both risked their lives and the lives of their families by speaking their truth, calling out the perpetrators of war crimes, and seeking justice for the victims. They have continually used their platform to draw attention to the issue of rape as a weapon of war and to speak up for the voiceless in this inhuman human rights violation.