Latest Articles

The Future of Women’s Health Care Is At Stake

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority that is more than able to overturn the supreme court case Roe v. Wade. The addition of Brett Kavanaugh is all that is needed to overturn the law, as he replaces the previous swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy. If the case is overturned, it would give state governments the power to ban or legalize abortions. According to history, at least half of the U.S. would criminalize abortion if this occurred.

In 2016, Texas imposed laws that forced more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. These were overturned by the Court, with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote. However, with Kavanaugh now on the Court, it is probable that he would allow such state-imposed restrictions to stand.

As a judge, Kavanaugh has never directly ruled on abortion. But based on prior precedent, it is clear how he would decide on the issue. He dissented on an appeals court decision that allowed a pregnant undocumented teenager in federal custody to have an abortion, which gives an indication to his views on the subject.

In addition to being anti-abortion, Kavanaugh is also opposed to birth control. One might suspect Kavanaugh would be pro-birth control, seeing that the purpose of birth control is to reduce the chances of a baby being conceived, but he isn’t. During his confirmation hearing, he described contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.” It wasn’t clear which methods of birth control he was speaking of (e.g. pills, patches, and IUDs or emergency contraceptives); however, the term “abortion-inducing” represents a gross misrepresentation of contraceptives, as none can terminate a pregnancy. As Kavanaugh sits as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for decades to come, the rights of women to health care and abortion that took so much time and effort to gain are at stake, and there is no guarantee what the future holds.

Toyota Announces 2019 Supra to Debut at Detroit Auto Show

BY DOMINIC COLETTI

In a press release just before Halloween, Toyota announced that the long-awaited 2019 Supra will debut in January at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The release described the release timeline as “one of the worst-kept secrets in the auto industry.” It’s the one part of the car that has been so poorly masked. Toyota has tantalizingly held the car just barely in the public eye for some time, debuting only masked versions thus far. Having whet the appetite of both auto enthusiasts who remember the original and new enthusiasts, the reveal will be one of the most anticipated events at the Auto Show this year.

If leaks are to be believed, the car will have a straight-six powertrain producing 335bhp and 332 lbs ft of torque, which will allow its 3300 lbs to careen to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Toyota developed the car with BMW, who was working on a replacement of the Z4, another well-respected sports car. The motor is part of the German partnership, as is the gearbox, which is purported to be an eight-speed automatic. The top speed is unknown as of yet.

Though the release date and some specs have been common knowledge for some time now, much remains to be seen. For example, we’ve never seen it except in camo. We don’t have any idea what the interior will look like. What is clear so far is that whenever the Supra finally comes to production, we’ll have a fun-to-drive, quick, aggressive, bona fide Porsche killer.

A Culinary Journey Through the NC State Fair

BY SUZANNAH CLAIRE PERRY

This year’s North Carolina State Fair, now nearly a month past, attracted almost a million folks to the fairgrounds in Raleigh. Some came for the gardens or the old-time cheer, some came for the rides, and some even came for the cows. But most fair goers shared a common experience, or rather, a common meal.

The food at the state fair is a collision of NC classics and new (usually deep-fried) creations, a delicious and relatively affordable dining experience for all. My friends and I entered 2018 fair with one main goal: to eat some local, delicious deep-fried goodness. Join me on this tasty journey through our local history and culture, as I review the North Carolina State Fair’s most iconic foods and hunt for that “Gotta Be NC” flavor.

 

Deep Fried Oreo: 5/10

Fried oreo

I’ve had many deep fried Oreos in my day, and in this time I’ve observed a few quality-determining factors: the balance of the dough, cookie, icing, and powdered sugar; the flavor and texture of the dough; and the quantity of powdered sugar. This dough was, well, too doughy! It was more than twice the size of the actual Oreo and overpowered the other flavors. The powdered sugar and icing were lacking, but the Oreo cookie’s perfect sogginess and the satisfying balance of dense dough and fluffy sugar saved this dish from complete culinary desolation, raising my rating to a (mediocre) five out of ten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candy Apple: 9/10

candy apple

When I tried a cinnamon candy apple for the first time last year, it wasn’t my lack of appreciation for its two major ingredients that disappointed me, but the fact that it got stuck in my teeth—and hair! As a result, I was hesitant to try this fair’s apple offerings, but the cutesy allure of one stand caught my eye. I was blown away by the freshness and lack of grittiness of this bona fide North Carolina grown apple, whose bitter skin perfectly complemented the sweet candy. The apple was juicy, perfectly sweet, and perfectly priced, ringing in at only two dollars.  This apple earns a nine out of ten for its delicious taste and well-balanced textures. I can’t wait to eat one next year!

 

 

 

 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes: 5/10

fried green tomato

A delicacy rarely recreated well north of the Mason-Dixon, fried green tomatoes are one of my favorite foods, and I was excited (though unsurprised) to see them being sold at many of the fair’s booths. Alas, I was mostly disappointed by these particular tomatoes’ lack of flavor and their unpleasant texture. The tomatoes were far too ripe to have that classic sourness—almost as if they were straight off a lackluster deli sandwich. The thin, flavorless crust didn’t help, and their blandness even coerced me, a self-proclaimed health nut, to douse them in salt. These disappointing tomatoes were offset by slightly less disappointing ranch, but ultimately, while I appreciate the effort to incorporate vegetables into the State Fair diet, this is not the way to do it. I give these pathetic tomatoes a four out of ten for shaking me to my Tar Heel core.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corn on the Cob: 8/10

corn on the cob

I love corn on the cob. Something about plowing through the kernels is animalistic, and the fibers between my teeth always trick me into thinking this food is healthier than the calorie count suggests. The pictures inundating my Instagram feed of State Fair corn, char-roasted, dripping in butter and covered in seasoning, had tempted me for a week before I went to the fair. When I finally found corn that seemed high enough quality to buy after a thorough search for kernelled perfection, I ate it with ferocious, blissful speed. Even with just butter (I forgot to add seasoning in my feverish rush), this sweet, salty, and filling snack satisfied my taste buds and my appetite for hours. I give this corn an eight out of ten, and I highly recommend that your next state fair experience includes a freshly shucked treat.

 

 

 

Deep Fried Pickles: 8.5/10

deep fried picklesAlthough I’m not a pickle aficionado, the intrigue of deep fried pickles compelled me to invest in a seven dollar container from a Mount Airy-based barbecue booth by the lake. To my surprise, this exotic food was worth its cost. The crisp cucumber, sour vinegar, crunchy crust and overall pleasant saltiness made for a perfectly balanced evening snack, and despite my love of ranch I didn’t even consider using it to add flavor. This dish will definitely be on my state fair feast list next year, and though my friends’ dislike of it serve warning that it is an acquired taste, I give these fried pickles an eight-and-a-half out of ten.

 

 

 

Frozen Banana: 9/10

frozen banana
https://www.retirebeforedad.com/2016/07/20/theres-always-money-banana-stand/

After eating the fried pickles, which have a wicked aftertaste, I was craving something cheap and sweet to cleanse my palate before I went home. A chocolate-covered frozen banana with sprinkles did just the trick. Ringing in at a mere four dollars, this banana was sweet, cold, and super indulgent, a relatively healthy snack that fulfilled my craving for dessert. I give this banana a nine out of ten, bringing my “fruitful” culinary journey through the NC State Fair to a stupendous (and stuffed!) end.

Baker Unseats Four-Term Sheriff Harrison

BY DOMINIC COLETTI

Democrat Gerald Baker has unseated four-term incumbent Donnie Harrison in the race for Wake County Sheriff. Harrison has been relatively popular in recent years, making his deputy’s victory surprising.

In this most recent term, Wake County began partnering with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The county can transfer detainees to federal custody if they are suspected to be in the United States illegally. Harrison described the policy as being essential to public safety, while Baker said he was concerned the program tears families apart. The American Civil Liberties Union, while not endorsing any candidate, mentioned Baker’s opposition to what it considered an inhumane policy.

The sheriff’s race was seen by some as a referendum on Harrison’s ICE policy in Wake County; however, Rep. George Holding, who endorsed the policy, won his race against Linda Coleman.

Police brutality also played a role in Harrison’s downfall. In April, a Wake County deputy loosed a dog on a Raleigh man. Kyron Dwain Hinton suffered serious injuries at the hands of a Wake County Deputy and two Highway Patrol Officers in the incident.  The Deputy is still on administrative leave and Hinton has sued the sheriff’s office over the incident.

Recap of the 2018 Midterms

BY STEPHEN ATKINSON

Heading into 2018 midterms, Democrats had one primary goal: win the House. And, as polls, pundits, and Nancy Pelosi had predicted, they did. According to current vote totals, Democrats have a 223-200 advantage over Republicans in the House, and when more results are released in the coming days, it’s likely this number will settle around 229-206, which is slightly better for the Democrats than many expected.

The Senate races, however, told a different story. Republicans performed better than expected, winning by close margins in Florida, Texas, and Indiana—all states Democrats had hoped to win. Most likely, Republicans will have an expanded 53-47 majority (the current count is 51-46) in the new Senate. So while Democrats hoped for a “blue wave” this election, most pundits agree that it did not happen; voter turnout was high, but high across both parties.

How did the two parties react to news of the results? President Trump enumerated his party’s successes in a post-election news conference, and Nancy Pelosi expressed hopes of passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the new Congress, one that would certainly require compromise with Senate Republicans but could unite the two parties around a common issue.

In North Carolina, Democrats broke the Republican supermajority in the NC House, making ground in suburban areas, where candidates like Julie Von Haefen and Sydney Batch secured victories in historically Republican districts. Republicans still hold majorities in both state houses, but they will no longer be able to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto power.

Six amendments to the state constitution proposed by Republican legislators were also on the North Carolina ballot. A coalition of left-leaning organizations invested millions of dollars in a campaign to oppose all six. The two most controversial, which would have transferred powers from the Governor to the General Assembly, failed to pass. But North Carolinians voted in favor of the remaining four: an income tax cap, increased rights for crime victims, protections for hunting and fishing, and a photo-ID voting requirement.

With key gains, but overall mixed results, Democrats will set their sights on winning NC majorities in 2020. A new, less gerrymandered district map, likely to be established before then, might make that outcome possible.

 

What’s at Stake in the 2018 Midterms

BY STEPHEN ATKINSON

The 2018 midterms are this Tuesday, November 6th. In addition to voting for local and statewide positions, North Carolinians will elect candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives. Across the country, however, many states will also vote for their U.S. Senators. (About one-third of the Senate is elected every two years—this year, no North Carolina seats are up for election.)

The main focus of midterm elections is control of Congress. Republicans currently have majorities in both houses, and Democrats see this election as an opportunity to win back influence. Nancy Pelosi has expressed confidence that Democrats will win a majority in the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats are up for election. And the polls so far indicate that this is likely. However, the chances are stacked against the Democrats in the Senate. Based on current polling, Democrats would likely have to win six “toss-up” races (in Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana, and Montana) and pull upsets in long-shot conservative states Texas and Tennessee—all for a 50-50 split in the Senate. Because of this, many are predicting that the Republicans’ current 51-49 advantage will grow.

According to polling averages from RealClearPolitics.com, Democrats currently have a seven point advantage over Republicans in a “generic ballot,” which means that across the country, voters are, on the whole, more likely to vote Democratic in congressional races. Most attribute this advantage to Donald Trump’s low approval ratings (which have hovered around the low 40s for most of his presidency) and the Democrats’ efforts to increase voter turnout. But why is it still so likely that Republicans will win the Senate? Luck is a big factor—many of the seats up for election this year are safely Republican. Also, even if a greater nationwide population votes for Democrats, Republicans are still likely to win lower-population states that, in the Senate, receive the same amount of representation as other larger states.

The Democratic Party’s popular advantage is more likely to have an effect in the House elections because of the legislature’s proportional representation. Thus, if Democrats lost the House, it would be a big blow to the party’s message of opposing President Trump. Similarly, if Republicans lost the Senate, it would be a stunning rebuke of Trump’s presidency.

Some have speculated this election may signal a “realignment” in the US party map, as Democrats look to win races in traditionally conservative Southern states. The charismatic Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging the well-known Republican Ted Cruz in Texas, and in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is in a dead-heat gubernatorial battle with Secretary of State (and, controversially, overseer of elections) Brian Kemp. Success for Democrats in these Southern states relies heavily on high voter turnout. So far, early voting numbers have been high—but high across the spectrum, including likely Republican voters, who have had their own “get out the vote” push as a response to the Kavanaugh hearings. So it’s not clear who will come out Tuesday night with the upper-hand. Most likely, both parties will find reason to claim victory, but, as the 2016 elections proved, polls can be unreliable, and nothing is guaranteed.

Matthew Shepard: The Murder that Started a Cultural Revolution

BY JONAH LAWSON

(Warning: this article contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing.)

The year 1998 brought with it a cultural revolution. Shows such as “Friends” and “Ellen” had already been normalizing homosexuality for years, but that year in September, the popular gay sitcom “Will & Grace” would air for the first time. Social change was running rampant in America, but many corners of the country were resistant to accept it. Only a week after “Will & Grace” aired, a group of University of Wyoming students met up to plan for LGBTQ+ awareness week at their school. After the meeting, one of the students, Matthew Shepard, decided to go down to the local dive bar in Laramie, Wyoming—alone. There, two strangers held a conversation with Shepard and pretended to be gay in order to gain his confidence. After a while, they offered him a ride home and he accepted. During the car ride, these men robbed Shepard and drove him out to a secluded area where they tortured, beat, and pistol-whipped him 19 to 21 times in the head with a .357 magnum hand cannon, causing severe damage to the brain stem. He was found by cyclist Aaron Kreifels 18 hours later tied to a post and left to die. Kreifels called the authorities, but unfortunately he was too late. Matthew Shepard died after six days on October 12, 1998, at Poudre valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the age of 21.

Following his death, the two perpetrators were captured and convicted, and they are currently serving consecutive life terms. After grieving for his loss, Shepard’s mother, inspired by her son’s courage, has worked tirelessly to improve LGBTQ+ life in America. She created the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which provides a voice to struggling LGBTQ+ youth. She also lobbied congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act, which established commiting a crime against someone due to their sexual orientation as a hate crime. Unfortunately, this law wasn’t passed until October 22, 2009 because it failed under both the Clinton and Bush administrations. But even with this progress, along with other milestones such as the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case, there is still much work that needs to be done. According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are 20 states that don’t expressly cover a victim’s sexual orientation as a hate crime, including Wyoming where Shepard was murdered. On top of that, there are 29 states that allow LGBT people to be fired on account of their sexual orientation.

Shepard’s family kept his ashes until he was buried on October 26, 2018, at Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC, alongside American heroes Helen Keller and Woodrow Wilson. Many of his belongings can be found on display at Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Photo: Matthew Shepard Foundation