Trump’s executive border wall plan threatens indigenous tribe

President Donald Trump’s proposed plan to build a wall on the border of Mexico and the United States is, unfortunately, not just an empty campaign promise used to gain voter support: the current plan for the 1,000-mile-long wall is shaping up to be concerning—as expected—for American tax-payers, Mexican citizens and indigenous communities.

Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25, officially ordering the construction of the wall—estimated to cost $21.6 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With Mexico’s rightful refusal to pay for the construction, American tax-payers—including Trump voters—will foot the bill.

In addition to his disrespect of Mexico and immigrants that fuel his construction plans, Trump is also threatening indigenous communities. The Tohono O’odham Nation of southern Arizona and Mexico owns 75 miles of tribal land on the border, and face destruction and division of their ancestral community.

Because of their location on the American-Mexican border, the Tohono O’odham actively patrol the border to treat dehydrated migrants and to investigate drug trafficking. Regardless of this responsibility, the American side of the tribe—including members’ families—will be cut off from its Mexican equivalent. 

Citing the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Tohono O’odham members vowed they would act against government intervention to protect their community from construction and displacement.

Indigenous peoples’ rights have been violated ever since this hemisphere was first colonized—and despite recent grassroots movements and activism they are still dangerously vulnerable to both conservative and liberal administrations. 

It is not surprising that Trump’s wall construction plan will negatively impact, displace and burden many groups of people. While many of his campaign promises were taken at face value—and often mocked for their frivolity—it is important to acknowledge that he now has the power to execute his ideas. 

While there is still an opportunity for the American public to resist and to protest the border wall, it is going to be a long and challenging fight.

Division over Castro death reflects nuance of his politics

The death of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on Friday Nov. 25 is yielding polarized reactions from international communities and political leaders. A leader of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Castro died from natural causes at age 90. A drastically divided reaction comes from both supporters and critics of the political leader; Cuban citizens have expressed grief during a nine-day period of mourning in Havana and across the country, while “in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, home to Cuban exiles, revelers partied all day,” according to CNN. His decades-long communist regime caused both growth and decline on the Caribbean island.

As a socialist, Castro passed progressive legislation that benefited minority groups. Castro believed that, “the emancipation of women was intrinsically tied to the socialist revolution,” according to Latin American television network TeleSur. Castro’s regime denounced gender and racial discrimination, sentencing offenders up to two years in prison for infractions. Additionally, the regime installed universal health care, legalized abortion eight years before the United States and stressed the importance of paid maternal leave for working mothers.

Castro, however, was a flawed individual and contributed to the political oppression of many Cubans. Freedom of speech was suppressed and many activists, journalists and critics were imprisoned and censored. Cuba became—and is arguably still organized as—a police state that surveilled its citizens and violently repressed its opponents. Even his own administration faced execution if deemed necessary, according to New York Post.

No one nation can define its history in straightforward and simple terms. The U.S.—currently experiencing a legitimation crisis on part of its bipartisan political system—has a complicated and often shameful history both domestically and internationally. All political administrations will experience strife––and unfortunately––a dangerous changing-of-hands.

A mixed reaction to Castro’s death is both understandable and appropriate for his nuanced existence. Politics are neither black nor white, and we can acknowledge the positive aspects of Castro’s regime while severely condemning the negative ones.

Those who experienced and witnessed his transgressions—and his accomplishments—firsthand best define Castro’s history within Cuba. There are both groups of Cubans celebrating his death and mourning him; this divided reaction perfectly reflects the complexity of Castro’s presence and influence on Cuba, on the communist movement and on U.S. history.

Voter intimidation ruins safety, spirit of political efficacy

People often complain about rigged or inefficient polling stations after their desired nominee loses an election. The frustration of unsatisfied voters often causes widespread anxiety and panic about governmental and institutional corruption that unfairly led to the downfall of their nominee. This concern can be exaggerated, but often it is completely warranted. Recent incidents at polling stations on Election Day exemplify how vulnerable our election system is to voter suppression.

Though a crucial state for a nominee to gain electoral votes, voters in Florida experienced intimidation and fear mongering at some polling stations. At one station in Hollywood, Fla, voters were met with, “aggressive individuals hovering around individuals as they approach the polling site,” according to The Washington Post. Some voters left the area without casting a ballot because they felt unsafe.

Additionally, an “unauthorized individual” who refused to leave the building disturbed a polling station in a predominantly black precinct in Jacksonville, Fla. Although the intentions of this individual are vague and possibly unknown, it is unsettling to witness or to experience disciplinary action and security protection in action at the polls.

Voter intimidation and attempted voter suppression has existed as long as our democratic process has existed, and it is frightening that many people do not follow laws against it. The easiness with which a dangerous person can potentially arrive at a polling station and harm voters before help or security arrives is a giant flaw in our election organization.

While a switch to completely digital or remote voting is discouraged because of technology concerns, the protection of the right to vote is questioned and challenged for people who experience problems at the polls. Politicians and activists have recognized this failing time and time again, yet it is unclear how we can formally improve or restructure our process.

It would be incredibly unfortunate if election results were dramatically changed because of problems at polling stations. Now that the presidential election has come and gone, we can work toward improving our polling systems just in time for the midterm elections.

Assault reflects discrimination of disabled people of color

A recent assault on a minor in Rochester on Oct. 14 has sparked conversations about the continuous racial profiling and blatant racism that harms people of color—including children and teenagers—all over the United States. Chase Coleman, a 15-year-old high school cross country runner from Syracuse, is a nearly-nonverbal autistic child. Coleman was running in a meet with his cross-country team near Cobb’s Hill Park in Rochester when his mother realized he was lost along the course, according to The Washington Post. Coleman’s mother usually prepares for meets ahead of time, as he often wanders off.

While off the course, Coleman was running in the street when 57-year-old Pittsford resident Martin MacDonald exited his car and approached Coleman while yelling and pushed him onto the ground.

MacDonald claimed he was acting in self-defense, as he believed Coleman would attempt to rob his wife. MacDonald explained that “black youths” had recently broken into his car, which justified his attack on the seemingly “suspicious” Coleman. Although Coleman was a quiet young teenager dressed in an identifiable cross-country uniform and number, MacDonald acted on his blatantly racist and violent assumptions.

Rochester City Court Judge Caroline Morrison initially denied a requested arrest warrant charging MacDonald for second-degree harassment, according to Syracuse.com. In response, Syracuse city councilor Susan Boyle wrote a letter to Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, condemning the “racist, aggressive, unprovoked attack on a disabled African American minor with absolutely no consequences.”

Associated Press noted that the Rochester police renewed an investigation of the assault on Monday Oct. 31.

This incident exemplifies the societal struggles of not only people of color, but of disabled people of color. The intersection of race and disability can evoke specific experiences or incidents of discrimination that relate to the connection of both identities.

While it is deplorable and shameful that Coleman was assaulted in what could arguably be defined as a hate crime, the weak reaction from Rochester authorities is also extremely disappointing. This situation shows that discriminatory incidents are not properly understood by law enforcement.

Able-bodied people and law enforcement often see people with mental disabilities as a threat because they lack understanding of certain disabilities. When police taser or shoot unarmed disabled men—or a passerby assaults an innocent autistic child—we must identify and attempt to eradicate these examples of aggressive ignorance.

Coleman and his family deserve to receive justice for this incident. Hopefully authorities will be motivated to increase training and education about how to engage with and handle similar discriminatory situations.

Dangerous Main Street intersection needs traffic light

While Geneseo’s Main Street is a symbol of small-town familiarity, community and comfort, it hosts a lot of dangerous traffic on a daily basis. Drivers on Main Street often violate basic common sense rules for safe driving, such as refusing to stop for pedestrians at a crosswalk, quickly backing out of parking spaces while ignoring incoming traffic and even crashing their vehicles into the iconic bear fountain.

Many Geneseo upperclassmen live off campus, and the walk to class is often filled with anxiety and hesitation when faced with busy traffic and negligent drivers—especially during the morning rush hour.

A major catalyst for unsafe driving on Main Street is the four-way intersection of Main Street, Court Street, North Street and Avon Road. The intersection—located in front of the courthouse—is monitored by a few stop signs and a flashing yellow traffic light. Many drivers and pedestrians alike reluctantly approach the intersection or avoid it altogether, as its insufficient traffic regulation motivates some drivers to make unintelligent and dangerous driving decisions.

Political science major junior Noah Koven recently created an online petition—aimed at the New York State Department of Transportation—in favor of adding a proper traffic light to the intersection. Five hundred and nineteen people out of the 500 signatures needed have signed the petition as of Wednesday Oct. 26.

The petition argues that—especially at night with low visibility—pedestrians are at a risk of being hit by careless drivers. Additionally, many Geneseo students and residents have experienced near-accidents at the intersection. Both students and residents shared their stories about danger at the intersection on the petition’s webpage.

This petition exemplifies how political efficacy and local bureaucracy can actually be used to benefit a community when approached properly. It is exciting to see students and Geneseo residents come together to advocate for a local cause that could only bring positive results if put in practice.

As students who have had some unfortunate experiences at this dangerous intersection, we fully support and encourage students and community members to sign the petition.

Engaging in local red tape or bureaucracy often seems boring and not worth the effort. But as students who are temporary Geneseo residents, we should take strides to better the community for others and ourselves. This petition is simple, but can be very effective.

Hillary Clinton is qualified, practical choice for president

In reaction to the final presidential debate of this unorthodox and historically significant election, The Lamron editorial board has decided to endorse a candidate for president. This past year, the 2016 election exploded with countless controversies, viral videos and frustrating arguments between stubborn voters. The popularity of democratic socialist primary candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders set a precedent for the Democratic party, and the nomination of a businessman––with no political experience––on the Republican side is monumental as well. Even third party candidates are receiving more media attention than ever before.

Through the unfamiliarity and tension of this election, The Lamron editorial board endorses former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president of the United States.

It is a given that Clinton is the most qualified candidate out of the remaining four. Her experience as an attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the U.S., U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State has provided her with an unmatchable skill set. Her main opponent Republican nominee Donald Trump—who can be criticized in countless other ways—has never held a political office.

The Lamron editorial board believes everyone’s voices should be heard and all citizens should vote for the candidate they support despite our country’s stubborn bipartisanship. We also believe, however, that third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are unlikely to win against the two main party candidates. While we believe U.S. politics need reform and only two parties should not dominate an election, it is unrealistic to expect a third party to win in this election.

In addition, Clinton’s platform highlights progressive—and most importantly feasible—environmental, economic and foreign policies. Even though we do not agree with her on all fronts, her strategy best exemplifies what The Lamron editorial board would like to see in the future of our country.

Compared to all other candidates, Clinton has the right mentality and composure for such a demanding and influential job. The Lamron editorial board hopes to see Clinton as the first woman president of the U.S.

Ban on offensive team names needed to protect indigenous people

The Washington Redskins are the subject of an ongoing trademark lawsuit about their offensive team name and logo. While we believe team names deemed inappropriate or racist should be banned from earning trademark rights, it is disappointing that multiple other teams that exploit similar racially-charged terms have yet to face similar consequences. According to CBS News, the Supreme Court cancelled the Redskins’ trademark on their name and logo because of its racist connotation and rejected the team’s appeal on the decision on Monday Oct. 3. The team specifically requested that the Supreme Court hear their appeal before the lower courts, indicating the significant consequence the loss of trademark has on the team’s business.

While the team is still able to use the name, trademark laws do not protect it; this vulnerability allows outside companies to exploit the name and logo for unofficial merchandising. The team could lose millions of dollars to outside vendors selling their name on products.

This loss in profits is most likely the only consequence the team will face—other than possible public scrutiny over their name—because of free speech protections. But other sports teams, such as the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs and Florida State Seminoles—the latter additionally using the face of a Native American man as their logo—all inappropriately commodify and mock indigenous people.

While activist groups petitioned and attempted legal action against the Redskins, there aren’t many options other than using trademark bureaucracy to affect the team. Redskins owner Dan Snyder refused to change the name in the face of opposition, and other teams with similar names have yet to face as much scrutiny.

Sports are an important American cultural phenomenon, and fans are often emotionally attached to the names and logos that represent their teams. It is always difficult to change beloved traditions, but traditions can always be critically analyzed through a contemporary lens.

While we can’t argue with the freedom of speech, the reluctance of multiple teams to address the historical implications of their names and logos says a lot about misguided American nationalism.

Factual accuracy crucial for contemporary media

As student journalists, we understand the importance of reporting factually accurate stories and correcting unintentional misprints. Typical copy editing processes edit articles multiple times, confirming claims and removing biases in order to deliver the most truthful and honest news as possible. Fact-checking is a crucial stage in this process—but even in the most widely read newspapers or journals, small details can be overlooked.

Fact-checking is even more difficult to do during live political events—once incorrect claims are made and shrouded in emotion or patriotism, it is difficult to convince people of the truth.

Fact-checking was the unexpected star of the first official debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday Sept. 26. Lester Holt—journalist and moderator for the debate—actually fact-checked candidates’ claims throughout the live event. Additionally, Clinton advertised her website’s fact-checking page during the debate in an effort to expose Trump’s claims.

Some critics curse the constant need to fact-check candidates because of their careless mistakes, which warrants some merit. In a perfect world, our political leaders wouldn’t make constant errors in speech or judgment. But it is a good thing—in the long run—to be actively skeptical about debates. We can take claims with a grain of salt and rely on fact-checking afterward.

Paying attention to fact-checking can only improve the way we understand and judge public figures. In our digital age when any rumor or lie can be taken as truth on the Internet or through popular media outlets, good, old-fashioned copy editing processes are as relevant as ever.

Even when our humble student-run newspaper dedicates time to fact-checking, the results aren’t always perfect. But when this lapse in factual accuracy happens on a wide scale—or a national one, as in the first debate—the consequences are disastrous for voters and our political process as a whole.

Hopefully, the missteps of Monday’s debate inspire voters to do research before simply believing anything they hear.

On recognizing dangerous binge-drinking habits

As college students, we aren’t strangers to binge-drinking and “blackout culture.” The adoption of the 2015 Social Host Law by the Village of Geneseo and the subsequent student backlash shows how defensive students are about preserving their drinking and partying habits. In a small town like Geneseo, drinking to blackout is a popular pastime when—especially during colder months—there isn’t much else to do instead. The New York Times recently published an editorial for their On Campus column written by a college student frustrated with the drinking culture she witnessed during the start of her college career. Ashton Katherine Carrick describes party situations that are probably familiar to Geneseo students—waking up sick and unaware of what happened the night before, or taking pictures of friends passed out in the bathroom.

Carrick argues that blackout culture thrives at schools “in small towns … [with] a general lack of bars and off-campus gathering places” which allows fraternity, sorority and sports team parties to become the focal points of social nightlife.

It isn’t just a coincidence that Carrick describes Geneseo perfectly. The past closings of the In-Between, the Vital Spot and Kelly’s Saloon are believed to have influenced the severity of off-campus partying and binge-drinking in our community.

In an interview for a Dec. 10, 2015 article in The Lamron, Village of Geneseo Police Chief Eric Osganian said, “ … we’re seeing more parties than we had years ago … what we are seeing is a spike in the party as opposed to going to the bars.”

While the binge-drinking habits of Geneseo students are unlikely to drastically change in any near future, seeing the problems and dangerous situations outlined in Carrick’s article gives a reality check to those of us who consider those habits routine. By reading an outsider’s view of drinking culture, we can acknowledge how toxic and unhealthy it really is.

Many of us at The Lamron are of legal drinking age, so drinking is even more difficult to avoid in our social lives. But the only way we can fix our disturbing behavior is by changing our personal habits. We can slow down our consumption, give our bodies a rest and take responsibility for our actions. Or even in the future—when recreational marijuana is inevitably legalized in New York State—we can switch our binging habits to a less dangerous substance.

Bayer buy-out exemplifies danger of oligopolies

Conglomerates and corporate mergers are a staple of current global capitalism across a myriad of industries. Major corporations buy out their weaker competitors and increase their control of an industry by two or threefold. While the main motivator of capitalism is the accumulation of wealth, capitalism also thrives because of increased competition between producers. As conglomerates grow and competition between industries weakens, there becomes a state of oligopoly in certain sectors of the global economy. German pharmaceutical giant Bayer recently proposed a plan to buy American agricultural supplier—and one of America’s most hated corporations—Monsanto for $66 billion. Monsanto is the world’s leading supplier of genetically-modified seeds. It controls the majority of distributed corn and soybean seeds in the United States and manufactures controversial crop pesticides.

On the other hand, Bayer has made millions in the healthcare industry with its commercialization of name-brand medicines. A goal of the merger is for Bayer to introduce itself into the profitable bio-agriculture market, leaving the corporation with its toe dipped in many different industries.

It isn’t uncommon for conglomerates to span a variety of industries—just look at the Big Six corporations who control 90 percent of American media outlets and are deeply intertwined with other sectors. But just because we know oligopolies can legally exist does not mean we should always support them.

If regulators approve the Bayer-Monsanto buy-out, farmers around the world may endure financial pressure and stress. There are already preexisting issues about the prices of Monsanto’s exclusive genetically modified seeds, and after the merger the new company will control about one quarter of global agricultural supplies. With the pressure to expand agricultural technology may come an increase in personal costs for farmworkers who are legally obligated to follow Monsanto’s business practices—or risk failing in the Monsanto-dominated agricultural market.

Major banks including Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan plan to provide billions of dollars to help finance the merger, thus rounding out the circle of America’s economic elite who will participate in and eventually benefit from this deal. It is no secret that oligopolies in capitalism benefit the few at the top often at the expense of consumers and lower employees.

While National Public Radio notes that there is a 50/50 chance the proposed plan will be approved, its conception is nonetheless reflective of the current state of global capitalism. Antitrust regulators are the crucial players that ultimately prevent powerful corporations from monopolizing the global economy.

Social instability makes Rio controversial Olympic host

To conclude the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil displayed slow-motion replays of iconic finishes and the emergence of new household-name athletes—all with the United States at the top of the medal table. While the Olympics were entertaining and successful as a whole, the instability of Brazil’s social, economic and political infrastructure cast a shadow over the games—not only during the 16-day event, but months before it began. According to The Huffington Post, an estimated 22,000 Brazilian families were evicted from their homes to construct Olympic facilities, with more than 6,000 families having lost their homes. To prepare for tourists, police brutality escalated within recent years to unsettling levels—one in five homicides in Rio de Janeiro were caused by police in 2015. Additionally, Guanabara Bay—the setting for some swimming and sailing events—was polluted up to “1.7 million times what would be considered highly alarming in the U.S. or Europe.”

Although these problems were not enough to impede the games overall, there were many setbacks and uncomfortable conflicts for visiting athletes. According to The New York Times, some buildings in the athletes’ village were completely uninhabitable because of exposed wiring and leaking pipes. In addition, during diving and synchronized swimming competitions, multiple swimming pools turned a nauseating green color that worried athletes and went viral on social media.

It is unfortunate that Brazil was unable to solve its internal problems before attempting a project as big as the Olympic Games, but it isn’t surprising that the results were unsatisfactory. The country hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup amid similar issues with violence, homelessness and debt to the disadvantage of its impoverished population. These issues stayed under the media’s radar until it resurfaced with Olympic coverage—but are still inactively addressed.

Potential Olympic host cities are evaluated on 18 different eligibility criteria and voted on by the International Olympic Committee. Rio de Janeiro was evaluated on its security, transportation, construction plans and more—so it is any wonder why it was deemed fit for hosting with its myriad of internal issues and social strife.

Now that the Olympic Games are over, time will tell if Brazil can transform its societal infrastructure on its own or if it will receive the help it needs to recover.

In face of intolerant politics, acceptance and diversity vital

A recent editorial in The New York Times describes a former United States senator's experience falling in love with a man after his wife's death—and it echoes a small, yet important sentiment in the landscape of American politics.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Harris Wofford announced his upcoming marriage to a man 50 years his junior, whom he met a few years after his wife's passing. Wofford said he does not label himself based on the people he loves, but his story relates to many in the LGBTQ+ community. At a time when LGBTQ+ issues are dominating headlines about gender-neutral bathrooms and discriminatory North Carolina legislation, it is refreshing to see stories of politicians coming out in acceptance of diversity in the face of prejudice and intolerance.

The controversy over North Carolina's discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ policies—in addition to the recent comments by a North Carolina senator claiming the state needs to “stay straight”—is exhausting and frustrating for many on the other side of the debate. With the legalization of same-sex marriage in June 2015—which Wofford said he thought would be impossible to accomplish in his lifetime—comes the inevitable backlash from more conservative perspectives.

There have been many LGBTQ+ politicians in American politics and history—especially on the left-wing side—but the inclusion of diverse identities in politics seems more important than ever, as our country faces increasing pressure to adhere to more restrictive and traditional “values” and policies. In the current election season, most Republican presidential candidates have established anti-LGBTQ+ platforms that unfortunately attract a large population of conservative voters.

Wofford's piece is optimistic about the country's future, despite growing right-wing concern over reverting back to traditional American values that would make the country “great again.” Our college-aged generation has a potentially strong influence on the current election, and with ideas of acceptance and diversity in our minds, the tolerant future Wofford did not believe he would live to see will win over the hate and ignorance our country currently faces.

Racial profiling continues targeting, harming individuals

As college students who stay up-to-date on current events, we’re unfortunately familiar with instances of racial profiling. When students at Geneseo report alleged incidents of racial profiling in our own community, it’s something important that we need to pay attention to. Recent high-profile incidents of racial profiling that occurred in California remind us that not only our direct community, but also our country as a whole has a long way to go to end baseless and unwarranted racist harassment.

A University of California, Berkeley student was recently removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after a nearby passenger became nervous that the student spoke Arabic on the phone. The student—who is Iraqi—was talking to his uncle in Baghdad about a speech he recently attended led by a United Nations official. After the call, a female passenger reported him to the flight crew, claiming she overheard him making “potentially threatening comments.”

This woman gave no indication that she actually spoke Arabic and could understand the student’s innocent conversation. This student was confronted and removed from the plane to support these ignorant and racist accusations. The student told The New York Times that he was excited to tell his uncle about the event and later felt afraid when an Arabic-speaking crew-member harshly questioned him. He believes the actions against him were Islamophobic.

Unfortunately, discrimination, harassment and violence against Muslim-Americans have increased since the 9/11 attacks and recent attacks claimed by the Islamic State. At first, we’re shocked that innocent college students are treated as potential terrorists just for being of another culture, yet at the same time, it is unsurprising.

America has a big problem with xenophobia and it constantly rears its ugly head in the forms of racial profiling and harassment. When we do not have to look any further than people our own age to see this discrimination, it shows how much farther we must go as a nation to undo our racial biases.

Unqualified politicians do not have expertise on climate change

Many climate change-denying politicians have one thing in common: they are not scientists. These politicians—especially those in the Republican Party—often misuse scientific evidence or disregard expert opinion altogether when offering their stance on global warming.

Sen. Ted Cruz made many incorrect statements regarding climate change while in New Hampshire in January and Donald Trump has stated he is “not a believer” in global warming and believes the world faces bigger issues. Now, it’s former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who will give her “expert” opinion on the denial of climate change in an upcoming panel discussion.

Palin will participate in a discussion on Thursday April 14 following a screening of the climate change-denying documentary Climate Hustle in Washington, D.C. The documentary aims to debunk global warming, and Palin said, "We've been told by fearmongers that global warming is due to man's activities and this [documentary] presents strong arguments against that in a very relatable way."

We understand that politicians may deny climate change because they often have financial stakes in major corporations that cause environmental harm. But why do we insist on using these influential people as sources for this conversation when they lack credible science knowledge and experience?

The phrase, “I'm not a scientist, but ... ” in regards to climate change conversations has nearly become an ongoing joke. It seems that anyone who asserts their support or opposition to the debate can be considered an expert on the subject regardless of their lack of professional knowledge. Palin said in a video posted on her abandoned YouTube channel that no one has proven that these changes are manmade or that it is the result of greenhouse gases, which directly contradicts scientific research.

Climate change is a big issue politicians need to address immediately—whether they want to reconcile it or deny that it even exists. But politicians should not be consulted on the issue as if they have real experience and knowledge in researching the subject; that's what the scientists are for. And since the consensus among real scientists is that climate change and global warming exist and are manmade, it's tiring that so many influential people are working too hard to argue against it.

Panama Papers a win for investigative journalism

As young journalists ourselves, we know how important it is to bring honest news and information to the Geneseo campus. Journalism is a valued part of a society—especially when done morally and with integrity—and nothing exemplifies this value more than the achievements of investigative journalism. Investigative journalists uncover both positive and negative truths that everyday people otherwise may not know about. And it is the work of hundreds of dedicated investigative journalists that has brought about one of the most significant and controversial information leaks in recent time.

The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked files from the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm: Mossack Fonseca. The leak is monumental because of its connection to rich and powerful world figures and leaders—and their connection to a possible system of corruption.

Some of the top wealthiest figures in the world were able to establish offshore bank accounts with Mossack Fonseca. Offshore bank accounts can be used legally to anonymously secure money, but they can also be used for tax evasion and money laundering. The firm in question has been investigated on suspicion of money laundering in the past, but only after a careful review of the millions of files will we be able to discover if—and to what degree—corruption exists in the world of the wealthy.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the leak is significant because of the high-profile people and corporations involved. Thirty-three companies blacklisted by the United States government and alleged nuclear weapon financiers and arms traders for the Middle East, North Korea and Syria were listed in the files. Several world leaders connected to Russian president Vladmir Putin were involved as well.

The investigative work does not end with the leaking of information; journalists will continue to sort through the data to uncover the truth about Mossack Fonseca's offshore practices and the legal status of all involved. Not only could this be a breakthrough in uncovering the corruption of the wealthy that has existed throughout history, but it is also a breakthrough in investigative journalism.

In a society riddled with biased and corrupt media outlets, it is refreshing to see investigative journalism successfully act out its intended purpose: to inform the public of what goes on behind closed doors.

FBI iPhone hacking echoes larger privacy concerns

The FBI’s recent lawsuit against Apple brought to our attention the importance of maintaining consumer privacy in our growing technological culture. The FBI—while investigating the Dec. 2 shooting in San Bernardino, California—demanded that Apple allow the Bureau to hack the alleged shooter’s iPhone to obtain information. Apple released an inspiring public address refusing the demand and ensuring consumer privacy that eventually caused conflict with the federal government.

The FBI has since dropped the lawsuit because they obtained what they needed—they hacked the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone without any help from Apple. The FBI was able to override the iPhone's security system that locks the phone after a certain number of failed password inputs to allow an infinite number of login attempts. By getting through this software, the FBI said any phone could be hacked within 26 minutes.

Apple is desperate to understand how it was done, as it completely condemns their unwavering efforts to maintain the protection of personal information from government surveillance—or worse. Whether or not the FBI is legally—or morally—obligated to disclose their hacking methods, they still did it in the first place. Even if the FBI hired an underground hacker or figured it out by pure luck, they were able to do whatever they wanted to do even when the company in question was against it. This implies that privacy does not matter if our government is determined to get whatever information it wants.

In the San Bernardino case, there might actually be important information regarding the incident stored on the alleged shooter’s phone. A motive exists that aims to investigate and possibly prevent future violence and terrorism. It is uncertain, however, if the line between righteous and corrupt motives will be blurred in future situations where privacy is violated.

There is no way to completely ensure that future government hacking will not happen to everyday citizens. It is unfortunately difficult to go against powerful institutions in the United States such as the FBI, especially when those institutions have access to advanced technology and information. This case brings feelings of discomfort and paranoia as we can see that there is no definite way to protect our privacy and information from those who are determined enough to obtain it.

Baseball game disrespects victims of Castro regime

Accompanied by President Barack Obama, the Tampa Bay Rays recently traveled to Cuba to play against the Cuban national team. According to ESPN, it is only the second time a Major League Baseball team has traveled to Cuba since 1959. The visit is being hailed as a victory for “baseball diplomacy” between the nations.

American media outlets have praised Cuban officials for opening the country’s doors to MLB, and the Obama administration expressed optimism about baseball forming a connection between the two different countries. Some critics, however, believe that this baseball game symbolically erases the violent and turbulent historical relationship between the United States and Cuba.

Sports journalist Dan Le Batard—the son of Cuban refugees—wrote an poignant editorial for ESPN about how the optimism surrounding the recent game disrespects the experiences of Cuban citizens and refugees under Cuba’s communist regime. Le Batard describes the hardships his parents endured in Cuba before their difficult exile to the U.S. and how his community is not moved by the attempts to reconcile with Cuba’s harmful dictator. The oppressed individuals who fled Cuba years ago hoped major changes would be made in a more significant and proactive form than a baseball game.

In addition to the U.S., the Cuban government sees this game as a win. Baseball is a beloved pastime in the country akin to America’s love of football. The positive reaction to the game does just what Le Batard condemns: legitimizing the continuation of Raul Castro’s regime. The game may be described as “putting differences aside,” but that is not enough in the face of brutal history and its ongoing legacy.

The U.S. and MLB have their own history of causing tension in Caribbean and Latin American countries. The lavish training academies in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other countries often exploit young players with dreams of playing on MLB teams. Without proper education to fall back on, players who don’t make the cut often struggle to find other work in their native countries.

It isn’t a surprise that “baseball diplomacy” is marketed as a way to reconcile an unstable relationship between the U.S. and Cuba when surveying MLB’s relationships with other countries. Hopefully, more figures will recognize the symbolic meaning of the Tampa Bay Rays game and be open to hold a real conversation about Cuba’s history.

Student athletes’ fame creates precendent for leniency

Three University of Minnesota basketball players have been suspended for the rest of the season after one player tweeted explicit videos involving him and his teammates. The two videos depicted the players engaging in sex acts with women and the videos—and the Twitter account—were deleted shortly after. It is unknown why the videos were tweeted, but in the age of Internet revenge porn and the ease of hacking personal information, it’s a wonder why these athletes didn’t receive a harsher punishment. By tweeting the videos, the privacy of the players and the women involved was surrendered to a huge public audience.

The issue that many have with this situation is the influence that it has on aspiring athletes. One day, many of the athletes that we see and hear about will be obsolete and another generation of young athletes will emerge. This next generation could be the face of major league programs as early as 18 years old—as young and generally immature teenagers.

Social media has a huge presence in the lives of teenagers and young adults. The University of Minnesota basketball players have giant social media presences—some college athletes have well over 20,000 followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Many of these followers could be young high school athletes who look to these players as role models—and in return were exposed to graphic and explicit sexual material.

Situations such as this and the many sexual assault and harassment cases that occur in high school, college and professional sports with minor consequences to the athletes show how athletes often receive special treatment and act as if they are above the law. A clear example of this is the recent filing in a Title XI lawsuit claiming that the University of Tennessee athletic department administration were aware that five football players committed sexual assaults, but allowed the athletes to remain in school and on campus without consequence.

This culture of protecting athletes to preserve sports programs or to protect university reputation can affect the way athletes view themselves and their actions. Athletes can tweet or Instagram incriminating or sensitive content and can get away with it, all without receiving serious criminal consequence. The student-athletes at Minnesota deserved to be suspended, but if the women in those videos choose to press charges or sue for breach of privacy, how far will administrations go to protect their athletes from further punishment?

When athletes—and influential celebrities in general—are protected from harsh consequences after committing inappropriate or criminal acts, it sets a precedent for future behavior. Young people often learn from experience and this experience sets a poor example for how socially, legally or morally negligent student-athletes of the future can act before receiving real punishment.

Trump, Sanders represent decline in establishment politics

The 2016 presidential election has shown us how limitless the boundaries of our political system really are. After former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s recent campaign suspension, it is all too clear how current candidates are reshaping the grip establishment politics has had on our political system.

It is obvious now how real estate mogul Donald Trump has a larger influence on conservative voters than anyone expected when he first announced his campaign for presidency. A billionaire candidate who has never held political office directly contrasts the establishment values that Bush, for example, relied on coming from a presidential family.

Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders has had incredible success in social and political recognition despite being virtually unknown before the start of his campaign. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been a household name—as the former First Lady—since before many students at Geneseo were even born.

The success of Trump and Sanders on either side of the race threatens the comfort and confidence held by the more established candidates—with Trump’s success even leading Bush to suspend his campaign and end any chance he had to win the Republican nomination. Additionally, Clinton has been infamously teased and criticized in the media for her seemingly desperate attempts to appeal to young voters through her use of social media and memes—not to mention her flip-flopping opinions on issues. Although Clinton is marginally ahead in primaries and caucuses so far, many did not expect Sanders to be so close.

Although most people who are not radically conservative hate Trump, his unorthodox tactics are working. It seems that being a household name from a presidential family is not a reason to be handed a party’s nomination. Bush has since failed and although Clinton is succeeding, she is barely ahead and working much harder than anyone would have expected a year ago.

The control of establishment politics on the election season is slowly subsiding, but this is actually beneficial. The culture of presidential families—akin to royal families—should, and will, come to an end. This election season has shown that unaffiliated or inexperienced candidates can go as far as recognized figures. Trump may not be our choice to prove this change, but it is a change nonetheless.

Kanye’s publicity stunts overshadow his artistry

Musician Kanye West may be better known for his ego and Internet presence than his music at this point. In the midst of the release of his new album The Life of Pablo, West went on a days-long Twitter rant about a multitude of topics, including his personal multimillion-dollar debt, discrimination of people of color in the music industry and even a claim that comedian Bill Cosby is innocent of rape charges.

West has become a household name and every year it seems mainstream media changes their mind about him. The world hated West when he took the microphone from Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, but then began to embrace his overconfident ego after his 2013 album Yeezus dropped.

Now, West is using the exact same tactics as presidential candidate Donald Trump is to get support: shock everyone and say ridiculous things to make headlines. Former Lamron editor-in-chief Maddy Smith ‘14 tweeted, “Kanyes PR team is now cackling together over salad in LA about the ingenuity of the monster theyve created.” She’s exactly right.

West—like Trump—knows exactly what he is doing when he tweets ridiculous things. Every single post is calculated in order to get more and more attention––and it’s working beautifully for him. It’s rare to see one of West’s tweets get fewer than 10,000 retweets, meaning more and more people see his absurdity every day. Trump—who may be more popular than West at this point—often gets fewer than 1,000 retweets, albeit with just 6 million followers compared to West’s 19 million.

There is a lesson to be learned from West’s foolishness, however: We as a society value shock over artistic skill and reason. Whether we’re supporting, criticizing or just laughing about West’s current persona, we’re still putting his music on the backburner and giving attention to his act. This is a dangerous trend and will lead to potentially devastating things if we cannot reverse it.