As the presidential election dawns up on, tens of millions across the country will be casting their vote for the next president of the United State of America. This election has been quite the headache for many and concerning for others with the rapid emergence of non-political discourse coming from the Trump campaign and supporters. It is time to come together to ensure that we do not allow this kind of hate speech, unbecoming behavior, polarization, and ineptitude to have a seat at the table. Yes, I’m with HER. I’m with her because she is the most qualified individual to run for office and will work day in and day out to ensure the future of this country!
Tomorrow, at 6 a.m. when the polls open you best be sure that Trump supporters will be showing up at polls to cast their vote. That means that we have to show up at the polls as well! New Jerseyans… I’m looking at you! Yes, New Jersey has a 99.9% chance of going to Hillary…Yes, voting might take some time, but it is necessary to go out and vote to dispel any illusion of “rigging” and to provide America with a clear victor!
Here are some tips and helpful links:
- Find out who you will be voting for in your local elections as well by using this Candidates Database. (Eagleton Institute of Politics)
- Find out the two ballot questions for New Jersey!
Public Question 1: Casino Expansion Amendment
- Permits casino gambling in two additional counties in this State? At present, casino gambling is allowed only in Atlantic City in Atlantic County. Only one casino in each of the two counties would be permitted. Each casino is to be located in a town that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. The amendment would allow certain persons to apply first for a casino license.
- A “YES” vote supports allowing the state legislature to pass laws allowing for two additional northern counties to each have one new casino, thereby ending four decades of casinos only being permitted in Atlantic City.
- A “NO” vote opposes this amendment to establish additional casinos in New Jersey.
My recommendation? Vote NO on 1! The casino industry has not been successful for some time… so what’s going to change now? The proposed plan is to have a multi-million dollar casino built in the Meadowlands. While it provides temporary jobs in construction and running the casino it will also cause Atlantic City Casinos to close down and cost thousands their jobs.
- Increase in traffic for already traffic burdened areas in Bergen and Hudson County
- Funding issues with getting the project off the ground (aka your tax dollars might go here)
- Construction on the Meadowlands can increase flooding to bordering towns
Public Question 2: Gas Tax Dedicated to Transportation Funding Amendment
- Provides that an additional three cents of the current motor fuels tax on diesel fuel, which is not dedicated for transportation purposes, be dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund. In doing so, the entire State tax on diesel fuel would be used for transportation purposes. The entire State tax on gasoline is currently dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund and used for transportation purposes. The amendment would also provide that all of the revenue from the current State tax on petroleum products gross receipts be dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund. In doing so, the entire State tax on petroleum products gross receipts would be used for transportation purposes. This amendment does not change the current tax on motor fuels or petroleum products gross receipts.
- A “YES” vote supports this proposal to dedicate all revenue from gas taxes to transportation projects.
- A “NO” vote opposes this proposal to dedicate all revenue from gas taxes to transportation projects.
My Recommendation? Vote YES on 2! The gas tax is in effect and New Jerseyans are feeling it. Whether you agree with the tax or not is a separate issue, but you now have a say in how the money is used! Voting YES on 1 ensures that the gas tax revenue will go towards transportation infrastructure (roads, bridges, bike lanes, etc.) instead of plugging holes in the general budget other purposes.
- Find your polling location by visiting the following this link
- Ask your friends and family (text and/or call) if they are voting!
- If no, encourage them to vote!
- Offer to take them to the polls or accompany them if they are nervous about the process!
Where can I start? The disgusting behavior of Donald Trump, the blatant lies spewed out by a man unfit to even think about becoming president, or the sexist comments and remarks made not only towards Hillary Clinton, but towards all women… the list goes on and on. Today, I find myself especially frustrated and concerned for the future of our country and by the extreme polarization of our political sphere. The rhetoric that has come out of the Trump campaign has me questioning how this man is even contending in this presidential race. Then I am reminded about how the rise of Donald Trump is reflective of the difficulties endured by many Americans, negligence by our public leaders,a sluggish economy, and our society. We have failed to educate, inform, be patient with, and reach out to those who might not have an informed opinion on the world. With 30 days left until Americans hit the polls it is of dire importance to make a collective effort to ensure the longevity of our country.
Whomever assumes office, come 2017, will have to deal with an America polarized by race, culture, xenophobia, and ideologies. While the White House will be buffeted by a flurry of domestic, international, economic, and social issues it will fall upon the American people. This means participating in gubernatorial, congressional, and local elections and holding our elected officials accountable for the needs of their constituents. With each passing year, civic engagement and participation has continued to decrease. The questions then becomes, how do we work to become more inclusive and accepting of those who might have different views than us? How do we get overcome the apathy and indifference that seems to have overcome our country? When is enough, enough? It all starts with our involvement and action!
This is the year and the decision which our country will be held accountable for generations to come. With this in mind we cannot and must not allow Donald Trump to get close to the presidency. Below find some of the things you can do to help and promote a Clinton presidency.
How can you help?
To learn how you can volunteer for the Clinton Campaign visit: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/forms/volunteer/ Here you can sign up to canvass or take a few hours on a weekend to make some calls at a location near you! If you would like something you can do from home, visit and sign up at https://www.hillaryclinton.com/calls/ to make some calls!
To donate: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/donate/ Probably not as popular but extremely important to run a campaign is money. With small donations the Clinton Campaign can hire staff and pay for materials essential to continue the momentum.
If you are a New Jerseyan that hasn’t registerd to vote please follow this link http://www.state.nj.us/state/elections/voting-information.html In my opinion, the most important thing to do is register to vote and to show up on Election Day! New Jersey, we have until October 18th to register to vote and you can do so in person or by mail.
As always, I will continue to provide insight on issues important to me and hopefully some which you might care about and I will never stop working towards the longevity of America. #ImwithHER
Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz, and now John Kasich, the final contender, has exited the race leaving Donald Trump as the lone contender for the Republican Party’s Nomination. What started out to many as a joke has now become a scary reality that is spiraling out of control, but how did it get to this point? Prior to the primaries, the Republican Party was in significant turmoil, having issues of how it was going to define itself and restructure its identity given the some of the splits in ideology. Now, how does the Republican Party move on from this? Does it embrace Trump as its nominee and hope that he can win against the Democratic nominee? Where do non-Trump Republicans supporters go to? These are many of the questions not only running through my mind but the mind of many Americans.
Or not so much? Americans are surprised that opposing Republican candidates have dropped out and that Trump was able to dominate so easily. I’m not all that surprised that this happened actually I’m surprised it took this long. Early on in the race when Donald “You’re Fired” Trump announced his candidacy the nation saw this as nothing but a joke. How then, has this misogynistic, racist, and fascist embarrassment come to represent the Republican Party in the race to be the leader of the free world? To me it comes down to a few key problems early on in the primaries:
The republican party had too many candidates
Unsure of how to best manage the upcoming election season republicans had issues providing a small number of strong candidates.Starting with 16 republican candidates the polls were divvied up among too many individuals, giving a sensationalist and bombastic Trump an early lead. Here is where the “joke” starts because everyone expected Trump to drive his numbers down due to his attacks against Latinos, Muslims, women, and other demographic groups, but it never happened. None of the other candidates would dare to challenge Trump in fear of taking themselves out of the race by doing so.
The media loved him and only him
Week in and week out Trump would say something offensive and suffer no repercussion for it albeit he was expecting it. He used bite-sized phrases that could easily be used by media and be shared on social networks without having to distribute the material himself. All cameras were waiting on Trump’s every word anticipating the next ridiculous thing that would come out of his mouth and he used this to his advantage. This became the norm, spread like wildfire, and became acceptable by the general public in the exercise of democracy.
A frustrated country
Trump’s rise to the top was made possible by striking a chord with many frustrated Americans angry at the “establishment” and looking for someone who would represent them and vocalize their anger. Trump has effectively played on the fears of non-white outsiders by calling to build a wall between the US and its neighbors, calling Mexican immigrants rapists, and a call to ban Muslims from coming into the country.
Who’s laughing now?
Well, Trump is and I guess so are his supporters seeing as how they have secured the opportunity to put their front man in the White House this November. Traditional Republicans (If anyone knows what they are anymore) might just have to bite the bullet this year. The current split within the party is between party members looking to secure the White House at any cost and those who would rather lose this presidential election, recollect themselves, and have a better frontrunner in 2020. Another difficulty is for republican voters who will not vote for Trump but would rather not vote at all than vote for a democrat. To my republican readers and friends, I am truly sorry for the difficult situation you find yourselves in, but we must at all costs avoid 4 years of Trump. Not voting for anyone is not an option given the gravity of the situation.
What does this mean?
All is not lost (Crosses fingers), there is plenty of time between now and Election Day to ensure that Trump doesn’t become the 45th President of the United States, but it will not be an easy task. It must all start with educating voters, particularly those who might still be unsure of who to vote for. It’s every American’s civic duty to vote and a link to facilitate the process if you are not registered can be found here: https://vote.usa.gov/. Additionally, getting moderate republicans to not just vote along party lines given what is at stake and ensuring that democratic voters show up on Election Day will be of utmost importance because I can assure you that Trump’s voters will show up at any cost.
I’ve gotten few responses and messages saying that I’m against the Republican Party and want liberals to run the country. It’s not that I’m anti-republican; I’m Anit-Trump. Trump stands against many of the foundational principles that founded this nation and makes our country unique. His rhetoric towards other races, religions, women, and the disabled are not permissible and encourages divisive sentiments within our country. A common argument for voting for Trump are his “economic policies” and his willingness to do anything. I will tackle his economic policy in my next post and why it’s not actually good for the US economy…shocker there again. Thanks for reading!
This past month national attention was given to Flint, Michigan for an inexcusable year of lead contamination to its water source. What occurred in Flint was a failure of responsibility by elected and appointed officials at different levels of government. The result? A city of nearly a hundred thousand (100,000) exposed to unacceptable levels of lead with incalculable damage to their health. Unfortunately, what has been done is done and now the city must invest in infrastructure, health studies, aid to families, and redevelopment in to attempt to do right by its residents. This horrific case must be a wake-up call for the United States, in particular, its older states with antiquated plumbing, infrastructure, and a history of industrial contamination, such as New Jersey.
New Jersey, one of the original 13 colonies, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, and now the state with the highest population density in America is in need of a comprehensive approach to overcoming its industrial contamination and probable public health problems. New Jersey has more than 14,000 known contaminated sites (NJDEP) ranging from gas station spills, small historic industrial contamination, to United States Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Sites. Where exactly are these are contaminated sites and who is living by them (See Figure 1)?
In a paper published last month the authors found that extreme emitters are likely impacting Environmental Justice (Definition Below) communities even more significantly than we may have previously thought. These findings suggest that low-income and minority communities are experiencing a disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards compared to higher-income communities. In New Jersey, oversight for contaminated sites has transferred from NJDEP to private consulting firms with a Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) in what seemed to be an effort to expedite the process and provide efficient oversight and remediation. This switch followed a vote by the New Jersey State Legislature in 2009 to outsource the work to private firms. It has yet to be seen that this system provides much efficiency since most firms will go for the site with big contracts while other “less popular” and many times more important sites slip between the cracks.
Environmental Justice- is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.-USEPA
Camden and Newark have both had early economic and industrial success throughout the industrial revolution but left to pay the price of business. Over time many of the national corporations that called these cities home have left, crime rates, and poverty levels have increased, making it difficult for redevelopment. An analysis examining economic and demographics in relation to contaminated sites have shown that areas where the majority of its residents are low-income have more unresolved contaminated sites.
For example, in 2002 a school district report for Camden found that 7 public school building were found to have high levels of lead in their water supply stemming from its old piping. 14 years later the school’s water fountains are out of commission and the school district is spending $75,000 a year on bottled water for students. How is it possible that the necessary upgrades have not been completed to provide one of the most essential needs for these students?
The recurring slashing of the state budget by Governor Chris Christie has pushed NJDEP to its breaking point with a diminished staff, resources, and a system that is unable to fulfill its duties to the people of New Jersey and the environment. The state is not only to blame since federal spending for USEPA’s Superfund program has been cut repeatedly from its inception in 1996 and its Trust Fund has been depleted since 2003. ( See Figure 6) With around 150 Superfund sites and 113 of these on the National Priority List (NPL) New Jersey is in dire need of funds to remediate and remove these sites from the NPL. Superfund was based on the principle that polluters, not taxpayers, should pay to clean up toxic waste sites not for hardworking American taxpayers to carry the burden for the mishaps of industries that use hazardous substances. These cuts greatly have greatly affected the amount of money USEPA can put towards superfund research, remediation, outreach, and several other indispensable functions of the remediation process.
New Jersey’s main cause of lead poisoning comes from old homes and apartment complexes that used lead-based paint. Many of these homes are located within in areas with contaminated sites and low-income communities. In 2004, New Jersey officials created the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund (LHCAF) to help allocate resources to inspect houses and apartments, emergency relocations for families, education and the removal of lead from houses and apartments. Since its inception over fifty million dollars has been taken from it to help balance the state’s budget, leaving it with only one hundred and eighty thousand for both this year and next year. In the past year a bill to put ten million dollars into the LHCAF has come across Governor Christie’s desk and he has decided to veto it. This veto leaves thousands of children and families at risk of lead poisoning, many of which do not have the ability to move to another place.
The costs of renewing our infrastructure are already well underway and have the potential to be even higher with several detrimental public health implications. New Jersey needs new mandates and to allocate funding into these communities and the essential programs needed to provide the necessary support and protection of human health. The solution isn’t simply to tax the people of New Jersey, rather we must shift back to our polluters pay system, work with developers and homeowners to ensure homes are kept to standards, and implement an adequate system for oversight. Too often are our vulnerable communities put on the frontlines and not looked after. New Jersey must take lead in cleaning up contaminated areas, lead-based paint from homes, and protect our children and vulnerable populations or pay for it with the health of our children.
Special Thanks to Stephen Epstein in his help with this post.
Happy New Year to all my followers and readers! It has been about a month since my last post, life got a little hectic with the holiday season and me leaving to Boston for half a month to take winter classes. Now, I am finally back and ready to take on my second semester of Graduate School and write some more. While I was away I received some emails with updates regarding the situation going on in Flint, Michigan and could not believe that this was going on right here in the US since 2014.
In 2014 Flint, Michigan decided to start drawing its water from the Flint River instead of getting its water from Detroit, MI as an effort to save money. What followed was a series of boil water advisories, complaints about the smell, taste, and appearance of the water, as well as reported rashes and other health related concerns. On September 24th Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha urged Flint to stop using the water from the Flint River after finding high levels of lead in children’s blood. The State of Michigan insisted that the water was safe and disregarded the findings of this study.
“The city of Flint under state-appointed emergency management, almost bankrupt … switched their water source from Detroit, which was fresh Great Lakes water source, which we’ve been using for over 50 years, to the local Flint River to save money.
“And that local Flint River was innately more corrosive than the Great Lakes water source. And the critical corrosion inhibitor, which is mandatory for all drinking water systems to use … was not added to that water.
“So you had a more corrosive water source without the corrosion control added to it, going into an aging infrastructure with a lot of lead plumbing. That was a perfect storm for that lead to leach out of the pipes into the drinking water and into the bodies of children.”
-Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha
Flint, like most of the United States has an antiquated piping and plumbing system that hasn’t been updated in ages. While this is a separate problem in and of itself across the country, this is the reason lead has entered the water system.
Ever since I could remember my parents and teachers taught me the dangers of lead and the effects it can have on my health yet it seems that state officials may have missed that lesson. There are countless papers with empirical evidence that shows the dangers of lead and how it can affect almost every organ and system in the body.Children, women of childbearing age, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible neurological damage, anaemia, hypertension, and other health complications (WHO).
Flint (38.9% poverty rate), like the cities of Detroit (42.3%) and Lansing (36.1%), shares the burden of having an overwhelmingly high percentage of the population living in poverty (Bloomberg, U.S. Census). Flint, MI (Figure 1) has sectors where up to 70% of its residents are living in poverty and the majority of them are African-Americans and other minority groups (Figure 2). Detroit has been having its own share of problems with water shut off notices for those unable to pay for the outrageously high price for water (but that’s a whole other story-> Read about it here)
How is it possible that close to 100,000 people were exposed to these conditions and those in charge did not take quicker action? Reasons… Profit, Politics, and a disregard for the poor.
Profits and Politics > People
This is another gross example of how profit and politics are put before the wellbeing of people. Had this been a city like New York City or Los Angeles this would have been immediately remedied and alternative solutions would be readily available. The constituents of Flint, on the other hand, are not wealthy individuals, instead, they are a group of marginalized working people in need of assistance and without a voice. Unfortunately, I believe that race and poverty are to blame for the lack of response and those who knowingly allowed for this disaster to occur must pay the price. There is simply no justified answer that anyone can provide as to why this problem went on for so long when water sampling, recommendations by doctors, and complaints from residents indicated that the water was not safe to drink.
“I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action.”
– Hillary Clinton
I call for the immediate resignation of all elected officials that stood by and watched as this gross violation of human rights occurred. What has occurred is criminal and should be thoroughly investigated and those involved should be prosecuted for this heinous and incomprehensible disaster. Such negligence and disregard for the well-being of people should not exist in our political system and needs to be done away with.
I don’t care if you are white, black, democrat, republican, legal, illegal, rich, poor, or any of the countless divides we have established in our society, but no person should be subjected to having lead or any other contaminants in their water. This should not be an issue of special interest, but one of human rights. Clean water, the most basic of human needs and a right that most of us take for granted should not be a casualty of bureaucracy.
While no city or community should have to go though what Flint is going through it should be a stark wake-up call for other cities and communities. City and state officials should not cut corners when it comes to infrastructure and basic necessities like water. It’s about time we invested in our infrastructure in order to avoid disasters such as this one. How many more pipe bursts and disasters will we wait for until we decide it is time to update?
It will take some time to actually quantify the damage that has been done in Flint since the damage is not restricted to the physical city but to the health of each individual. I’m sure that in the near future we will learn more about what has happened and the full extent of the damage committed.
For more information about the Flint Water Crisis and how you can help out visit www.flintwaterstudy.org
Recently I have been hearing many of my friends, the media, and other Americans voice their support for real estate mogul and Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump. Due to the overwhelming amount of support he seems to have I have decided to write a series of posts explaining why Donald Trump is not a good contender for President of the United States starting with Immigration. The purpose of my posts are not to insult, instead it is a way for me to get my thoughts out and meant to educate, stimulate discussion, promote critical thinking, and increase voter awareness. And who knows…maybe, just maybe you might change your mind.
When he first announced his candidacy for president on June 15th I was interested to see where this once TV host with his infamous “You’re fired” catch-phrase would go with his political campaign and race for the White House. Instead of making a “good” argument (or any for that manner) to be the next commander in chief Trump has proved himself to be unfit for the presidency, sexist, racist, xenophobic, ignorant and a danger to democracy. He has certainly given myself and America countless of reasons as to why he should not be President of the United States nor be taken seriously as a candidate yet he has been sensationalized by the media and American Voters are buying into it (If you happen to be one of Trump’s supporters I would like you to think about the top three reasons why Trump is your ideal candidate and send them to me… I am genuinely curious). This country was built upon the principals of freedom and happiness where people could escape tyranny and unjust persecution from their countries to live in peace and prosper in the great nation of the west. How quickly have we forgotten that all Americans are Immigrants and had it not been for someone in your family you might not be here.
Trump on Immigration
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” – Donald Trump
On June 16th Donald Trump included these lines in his announcement for presidential candidacy and has continued to make racist, uneducated, and disrespectful comments. The thought of having a leader that promotes bigotry, strips people of their human rights, and has no interest in mutually beneficial diplomatic resolutions is chilling. Trump has accused immigrants of being rapists, stealing jobs, proposed the construction of a wall between the United States & Mexico, and advocated for the complete denial of Syrian Refugees into the country. For many illegal immigrants this means finding a job, or any job for that matter, that might provide them with some money to sustain themselves and their families. Many of the jobs taken by illegal immigrants are low-paying, non-benefit, and are sometimes dangerous jobs that include long hours of physical labor in harsh environments (many jobs that Americans would not take unless they were compensated much more than that). The complaint given by many Americans are that Illegal Immigrants are taking “our” jobs and hindering our economy. A little bit of independent research pointed me in the direction of studies conducted by various institutions that indicated that this is not entirely accurate. Some of the studies suggest that the illegal immigrant population has allowed for documented workers (American Citizens) specialize in other jobs that pay more.
Further research conducted by the Congressional Research Service found that the vast majority of unauthorized Immigrants are not under Trump’s category of “Aggravated felons” (Figure 1) nor do they make up a large percentage of the inmate population in our country’s jails and prisons. (Figure 2). This is not to discard the issue that there is a problem with cartel violence, drug trafficking, keeping records of illegal immigrants, and the potential for terrorists to slip past. We cannot allow these problems to instill fear in us and change the way that we live. We must continue to strive towards the progression of society, human rights, and our country.
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” Donald Trump
The Syrian Refugee Crisis is a dire problem that has been beckoning for the global community to come together and create a resolution to provide asylum for millions of refugees. In the United States we have heard about the crisis in bits and pieces, but have not had to deal with the upfront reality that many Middle Eastern and European countries have dealt with. From setting up safe zones to providing food and water these countries have been in the front line since the crisis started nearly three years ago. Donald Trump has decided that he would prevent Syrians refugees and Muslims from coming into the United States to seek asylum and start a new life. This position taken by the Republican presidential candidate has grouped a large ethnic and religious group together in fear of terrorism and the rejection of human rights. Many have rallied behind him to say that this is the appropriate response for the events going on in the world. What we do not realize is the implications this has, not only for Muslims in other countries but Muslims in America. Since 9/11 the racial profiling, discrimination against, and fear of Muslims has increased. (Figure 3)
American Muslim citizens fear for their lives, homes, children, and livelihood and cannot return to life pre-9/11. The people of Syria have had their basic human rights violated for several years while the rest of the world has watched.
“We are not terrorists; we had this uprising because we wanted to have our simplest right, which was to be treated as humans”-Roula Syrian aid worker
These are men, women, and children we are talking about… Humans just like you and me. Trumps supporters on this issue have allowed him to capitalize on their fear and insecurities in order to believe that closing our borders are the only solution. Many of these refugees are engineers, teachers, scientists, economists, doctors, nurses, architects, skilled technicians and other specialized professionals. Including them into our country would benefit our economy would aid in stimulation of the economy and is the RIGHT thing to do.
How can you deny citizenship to someone who will work as hard as he or she needs to in order to be a productive member of society? Trump is calling for an end to birthright citizenship in the United States which will not grant citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants in the United States. When has this country and society become so entitled to absolutely everything? I believe the problem starts with the “me” culture we are a part of… that’s right we cannot blame anyone but ourselves for allowing our country to get to this point. Surely Trump would not be saying the things he is if he did not know there was a large group of people behind him to front a vote. He is doing the easy thing knowing that America is going through some international and domestic difficulties. To me this is exploitation of the American people who work hard each and every day to put bread on the table, roof over their heads, and clothes on their backs. What America NEEDS is a candidate that will admit there is a problem (many of them), make the hard decisions, fight tirelessly to protect the constitution, freedom, and justice.
Mr. Trump you will not be receiving my support or vote. It is your kind of thinking that will continue to foster fear, hatred, segregation, racism, bigotry, and will result in the further deterioration of and hinder our progress as a country and society.