News topics you should be following, explained

News topics you should be following, explained

March 04
22:48 2015

The Editorial Board

It’s easy to lose track of the latest news from Washington during the semester, especially during exam season. But this news cycle contains news you should be paying attention to.

Justice Department on Ferguson

The most recent matter of note: the Justice Department found that the Ferguson Police Department and legal system in Missouri has abused the constitutional rights of black residents there, incarcerating them at questionable rates. The investigation results come after months of race-related debate and protest, some areas of the nation experiencing tensions that echo the Civil Rights Movement era.

However, the Justice Department cleared officer Darren Wilson of wrongdoing in the shooting of Michael Brown. And on Wednesday, it declared that Ferguson should overhaul its justice system to solve its racially biased trends.

The investigation found black offenders reprimanded for 85 percent of traffic stops and 93 percent of arrests. From April to September 2014, 95 percent of those jailed were black. The report was based on a six-month investigation by the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder. The population of Ferguson is 67 percent black.

The announcement is polarizing to some degree, with civil rights activists rallying behind it, and other officials questioning the fairness of the report. Former mayor Brian Fletcher points out the number of black people who travel to Ferguson could make the number seem higher than it actually is.

The civil rights groups at UNT have been exceptionally active throughout the Ferguson ordeal. Students participated in protests on campus and in Dallas, even creating Twitter accounts dedicated to the cause, such as @UNTtoFerguson to relay news pertinent to the conversation.

Emails grouped in the report support the Justice Department’s conclusion. Racist remarks and humor were found in some of them, implying the city’s guilt in the matter. Seven emails sent by police and court officials in particular raised eyebrows, including one from April 2011 that depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. A May 2011 email read, “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”

The patterns discovered are unacceptable to constitutional rights, and all Americans should continue to follow it. The news organizations will be on this development for a while, as it is an impactful revelation and could likely result in legal action. Look for statistical analyses and legal depositions to be abundant.

Clinton’s emails

In bigger email news, it has been revealed that Hillary Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, used her private email throughout her time as Secretary of State, raising suspicions because of her high-level position.

The New York Times broke the news Monday night, interjecting Clinton’s busy travel schedule. She has not announced her candidacy for president, but has an itinerary equitable to a campaign schedule.

As a high-ranking U.S. official, Clinton should have never used her private email. By doing so, she may have broken the law. By using the private account, her emails were protected from Freedom of Information Act legal requirements.

The State Department ordered her emails, and The Times reported Clinton handed over 55,000 of them, but only after her aides screened them. Not all emails have been made public. This is especially concerning due to her involvement in the 2011 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi. Government records are subject to public request, and help record American affairs and history.

Democrats have been thrown off guard by the report, months after losing Washington in the midterms, but in the same week after winning big against Republicans.

This news will affect her hopes of the presidency, because her opponents will spin her as questionable and paint an image of distrust for the voters. She deserves the political speed bump from which she is about to suffer. It is irresponsible for someone in her position to keep information from the public. As it moves closer to Election Day, consider this information.

Congress still gridlocked

When voters took to the polls in November for the midterms, Republicans gained the majority in Washington, taking the Senate and reinforcing its lead in the House. But Republicans in numbers have yet to influence legislation as forecasted.

Obama’s executive action on immigration enticed the GOP to fire back, and sought retribution when a spending measure came down to deadline last week, and into Tuesday afternoon. If victorious, the Republicans could have defunded and unraveled the president’s immigration action, but would have held the Department of Homeland Security hostage.

The fight was weeks in the making. House Speaker John Boehner refused to allow the DHS measure to vote, as conservatives sought to knock out the immigration actions. But the two chambers couldn’t come to an agreement, signaling the disorganization and failure by Boehner and party leaders to unite the Republicans. So although there are more Republicans in Washington, party factions create opportunities for the Democrats.

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