A love letter to Notre Dame

A Love Letter To Notre Dame

You're still the most beautiful cathedral in the world.

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While a lot of the world maybe hasn't experienced your majesty in person, I have. And I remember it. And when the news headlines flashed up on Twitter and Facebook that you were going down in flames, my heart sank. I sat down and watched the beautiful cathedral that I stood in front of years ago become engulfed in smoke and flames.

I'd been there. I'd experienced it. It can't just go up in flames.

I remember running around in the square in front of Notre Dame when I was about 10 or 11, laughing and screaming when the pigeons came too close for comfort. I remember walking into the cathedral with my family and looking up in awe and stopping, dead in my tracks.

I'd never seen stained glass windows like that before.

I'd never felt God and art and beauty so heavily in one place.

I was quiet, there were no words. I remember almost tiptoeing through the cathedral as if it were too ornate for me to even be inside. I remember lighting a candle in front of a statue and just feeling my faith so so present. I remember spending what felt like an eternity with my eyes raised up to the heavens just taking it all in.

I felt so small. I remember leaving the church and sitting on a park bench right outside the back while my parents and grandparents talked about the history of it all.

It felt like we had just spent an entire day out of this world and in a beautiful, holy place.

Of all the places we went to in Paris, I remember you the most. I don't know if we spent more time there or if you were just so overwhelmingly intricate and beautiful, but it was like the hands of God had created you. So please restore yourself. Come back to us and continue sharing sheer beauty with a world that so needs it. Notre Dame, we love you.

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Boys No More: The Story Of Benjamin Eastman's Murder

Benjamin Eastman was only 16 years young when his best friend Benito Marquez (16) and Marquez’s older brother Jonathan Adamson (21) gruesomely took his life.

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Benjamin Eastman, a 16-year-old boy from Randle, Washington, was found dead late June afternoon he had been reported missing by family on June 24th. His remains were discovered by the Lewis County's Sherriff's Office just four days later in a marked, shallow grave.

Benjamin was allegedly reported missing after his family could not reach him when he left his home Sunday morning after being invited by his best friend, Benito Marquez, to go camping. Benito reported to police that Eastman had failed to show up to his home that Sunday morning. Four days after and still there was silence from Benjamin, Benito Marquez posted on Facebook pleading for anyone who knew the whereabouts of the boy to contact police or Benjamin's father.

On the same day, the boy's remains were discovered on Marquezes family property in a shallow and obvious grave. When asked about the grave, Benito claimed the grave belonged to the family's dog that had recently passed away, given the situation police investigated.

Marquez is not the only suspect in the case.

Benito's 21-year-old brother, Jonathan Adamson, was also a suspect in the gruesome murder. Their mother, Kindra Rose Adamson, and Jonathan's girlfriend, Emma Brown, were just recently arrested when police found that both knew about Benjamin's murder after it occurred and did not report it to authorities. Kindra also helped the boys flee East after the incident. Both are being charged with 1st-degree criminal rendering.

Police have reported Adamson as giving information from the night of the 24th. Adamson claimed the two had knocked Benjamin to the ground, kicked him over 100 times, sexually assaulted him with a stick, and for good measure, hit Benjamin over the head with a rock multiple times to assure he was dead, all within a span of 20-45 minutes. The autopsy report corroborated Adamson's story and stated the cause of death was, in fact, a blunt force trauma to the head.

After Eastman was presumed dead by the brothers, they stripped their clothes and his to burn them, along with the shovel used for the initial burial. After an unspecified amount of time, Marquez and Adamson became paranoid of the possible discovery of the body so they moved the remains to a more shallow place on their grandparent's property and marked it with a cross made of sticks. They did not burn that shovel, nor did they dispose of the matching twine and plastic found in the barn that was used on the body.

As of July 2nd, the brothers were arrested by a state trooper on their way to Ellensburg. Marquez and Adamson are facing charges including 1st-degree murder, rape of the 1st degree, tampering with evidence, and unlawful disposal of remains. Their bail has been set to $10 million bail and although Marquez is only 16, he will be facing an adult trial. The only motive discussed at this time was the possibility of a girl being the cause of the dispute. Adamson has been arraigned as of July 12th and has pleaded not guilty to all charges placed against him.

Now that I have presented all of this information to you, let's look at the unsolved parts.

Evidence:

This evidence seemed a little to easy to find. From the outside looking in, it appears they wanted the body to be found when it was. Many people in law enforcement understand the saying "only the stupid ones get caught." Is that the case here? The positioning of the evidence also seems too cookie-cutter. After burning the first shovel, they left the head in the fire pit. They marked the grave with an obvious cross with upturned soil.

Benjamin was reported by many as happy, caring, and loving. So why is the motive for his murder not being discussed further than "possibly over a girl?" Benjamin's father seems to be handling this extremely well and claiming he will continue to approach this case with love instead of hate because that is what his son would want. He heard of the rape of his son in court, and somehow only stared at the brothers. I'm not saying he's responsible in any way, but I think he may know more than he shows, maybe even about a motive with the closeness of the two.

Finally, why did Marquez lie about the grave and what happened, but not Adamson? How could Adamson so easily tell the story? Maybe it's possible that the only involvement Benito had was luring Benjamin to the area.

The case is still fairly fresh, however, these should be some of the first things investigated before the arraignment which has already happened for one of the brothers. l believe there's a lot more to the story that is not being noticed/talked about.

Cover Image Credit:

Igor Trepeshchenok / Magdeleine

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I Pressed Howard Schultz On His Plans For Healthcare. His Answers Sucked

Why shouldn't the government eradicate a broken, exploitative industry?

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On April 10, 2019, the former CEO of Starbucks — and possible independent presidential candidate — Howard Schultz visited my hometown of Wichita, KS for a town hall. I was particularly surprised by someone like Schultz going to a town in Kansas to openly take questions that aren't previously vetted. For that, I certainly give Schultz credit. Schultz has said that he will only run if the Democrats don't choose a moderate candidate, so it's very possible he could be a spoiler to help Trump. Thankfully, I had the chance to ask him about his very anti-"Medicare for all" stance.

Below are the exact words of Schultz and me for you to evaluate on your own. Of course, I will splice in some of my opinions here and there.

If you're unsure of what "Medicare for all," is, it's a policy presented by some Democrats and independents such as Bernie Sanders that propose to expand the current Medicare program to every American citizen to ensure that every person has the right to healthcare, including those that currently can't afford private health insurance.

Before we start, I'll say that while I certainly disagree with him on healthcare, there are a few stances I agree with such as the need for serious reform on prescription drug prices. I also think Schultz himself is a good guy that is well-meaning. Just because I disagree with him on policy does NOT mean I don't like him as a person.

Anyways, let's talk healthcare with Howard Schultz.

So recently you had quoted that you felt "Medicare for all" was "unamerican" and "unaffordable." So, we already pay double the amount in healthcare insurance premiums compared to every other developed country, and there's also a study from the American Journal for Public Health that 45,000 people die [every year] from lack of insurance. [According to other studies] "Medicare for all" would actually save Americans money, as the estimated cost is $32 trillion dollars, and Americans pay $34 trillion a year for their private health insurance. So, I'm just wondering, why do you feel that "Medicare for all" is "unamerican" and "unaffordable?"

Schultz: Thank you for the thoughtful question, the homework you did. I'm not gonna agree with the math. I think you're citing almost chapter-verse the Bernie Sanders "Medicare for all" program.

(Schultz rejected the math and studies that I have cited here. One of my pet peeves is the rejection of claims or stats without a proper or alternative explanation, which is clearly what's going on here.)

I'll also add that [the cost] was estimated by a Republican think tank study, of $32 trillion, which I would assume is somewhat inflated due to partisan politics.

Schultz: The beginning is the ACA (Affordable Care Act). It was then and was proven to be imperfect. The idea was to provide access as much as possible to 20 to 30 million Americans who do not have health insurance. Since then, two bad things have happened. Premiums have doubled, and 20 to 30 millions Americans are uninsured.

(Schultz is right. The ACA was watered-down and wasn't fully what it needed to be. Its original intention was great, but compromise and the Democratic party's inability to unite forced a very weak version of the original bill.)

Those insured under Obamacare?

Schultz: Yes, those insured under Obamacare. (...) But now we get to you. "Medicare for all" (...), there is a big downside to the disruption of that. The government hasn't really demonstrated running anything well, let alone a healthcare system for America.

(This is where I'm a bit concerned. The government does, in fact, run two public health systems, Medicare and Medicaid, and they're both viewed favorably by large majorities of the public. Polls also indicate a high level of support for government being responsible for healthcare coverage. It's concerning Schultz didn't realize this.)

Schultz: One-hundred-and-eighty million Americans get their insurance from their employer. The disruption is massive. (...) You've heard Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris and other Democrats say, "We're gonna eradicate, we're gonna remove the insurance industry from America." That is what is un-American. I don't think the government has the right to eradicate an entire industry.

(The eradication of an industry is very much needed and possible when it is exploiting Americans or affecting Americans in a negative way. Take for example the banking system pre-Federal Reserve. Before the central bank was established, there was a private currency system that was different for every state bank. You had different bank notes from different states with different volatilities. To solve this, we instituted the Federal Reserve which made sure to have a central currency that could be accepted everywhere.

One could also say that the measures the government has taken against for-profit college were made to specifically take down that industry.

Plus, 180 million Americans getting insurance from their employer is irrelevant. Under "Medicare for all"... ALL have coverage.)

Schultz: So what're we going to do? Every American should have affordable access to healthcare. (...) What we need is more competition, more choice. Then, (...) I would change the corporate tax rate to 25%, then [incentivize] companies with a tax break to provide all of their employees with health insurance. (...) But, I wanna move back in and fix the ACA.

(First off, "access" is very different from actually getting healthcare. I currently have the right to purchase a Rolls Royce, but I'm not going to be able to buy one. Also, when you take into account how expensive it is to provide private healthcare for employees — way more expensive than paying them elevated wages — it would have to be an incredibly hefty tax break.

Schultz earlier in the town hall talked about compromise and working with both parties in Washington. I thought the ACA would be an excellent example to ask him about his stance on compromise in certain situations.)

I agree with you. I think the ACA is a bit of a watered-down policy. You talked about moderation and working across the aisle, I feel that the Democrats with a supermajority in the Senate worked too much with Republicans and they didn't get a good version of the ACA passed.

Schultz: You are 100% right.

So, I think moderation in that sense wouldn't be a good idea. So, are you pushing for moderation in all cases, or just a few?

Schultz: (...) It's not a question of moderation, it's a question of bipartisanship. We should not be passing bills on the basis of one party's ability to have a supermajority, we should be passing bills that are in the best interest of the country.

(While this quote sounds nice, it really is just a soundbite. This doesn't really answer my question either. It was all about the fact that even with a supermajority, Democrats compromised too much, and it hurt a very good bill that would have done a lot more good for Americans.)

* * *

Based on his responses, Howard Schultz is somewhat mum on healthcare in America. He's completely fine with private healthcare because getting rid of a broken system would "cause too much disruption." What he doesn't (or perhaps does) understand is that insurance companies are not in the business of helping people. It's about the money. He proposes to give an assumed HUGE tax credit to corporations to pay for corporation employee healthcare, as well as a rework of the ACA. There needs to be a serious change regarding healthcare in America, and that begins by giving Americans healthcare as a right, not a privilege for those who can afford it — and I don't believe Schultz is the candidate to do that.

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