A Lesson From Pittsburgh: Trump's Tweets Are Dangerous

A Lesson From Pittsburgh: Trump's Tweets Are Dangerous

Trump's twitter rants are more than just partisan rhetoric: they inspire hate.

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On Saturday morning, the United States witnessed one of its most horrific hate crimes to date: the killing of eleven worshippers inside Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue. The tragedy occurred at the hands of Robert Bowers, an outspoken anti-semite who stormed into Shabbat services armed with an AR-15 and three handguns, decrying his wish to "kill Jews."

When news first broke on Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted his condolences to the victim's families, followed by a plea for all Americans to come together against the forces of anti-semitism: "We must unite to conquer hate." However, only a day later, Trump decided to pick fault with the "Fake News" media, blaming the "hostile" and "inaccurate" reporting of his political enemies for the country's divisiveness and the recent outpouring of hate-motivated crimes.

Though the president would like to say that he supports an end to the virulent partisanship that plagues this country, his own actions only contribute to the fray. Trump's tweet about the news media's involvement in the synagogue shooting received over 180 thousand likes and 49 thousand retweets, over double the amount received by his tweet calling for unity. And it is apparent that the president's escalating twitter rants around immigration helped set the stage for what happened in Pittsburgh.

Looking to those antagonistic tweets and the radical responses they ignite on Twitter and beyond provides a key clue into Robert Bowers' hateful mindset. In his gab.com account, a social media platform that boasts its protection of "free speech" by enforcing practically no content restrictions, Bowers referred to those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on migrant caravans as "invaders," echoing Trump's sentiments in an October 25 tweet that called on migrants to turnaround and "go back to your Country." On October 29, a day after the shooting in Pittsburgh, Trump directly referred to the migrant caravans as an "invasion" of United States.

Bowers's pre-existing anger towards the Jewish people was further fueled when he learned that Jewish refugee advocacy group HIAS was supporting the migrants on the border. After criticizing the "evil" efforts of HIAS online and their attempts to aid "invaders," Bowers posted a page from HIAS's website that listed the locations of Shabbat services held on behalf of refugees, one of those locations being less than a mile away from Tree of Life synagogue.

Although Bowers himself criticized Trump in the past (mostly because of his Jewish family members), the similarities between the president's online ravings and those of a domestic terrorist should spark concern in every American. Trump's attacking response to the tragedy in Pittsburgh, and his partisan offenses in general, provide fertile ground for radical right-wing groups to spew their own violent messages online — groups that evidently inspired Bowers' own hateful posts and ultimately, his sickening rampage. The culture of hate that the president's tweets foment undoubtedly counteract any half-hearted calls for unity he may tout.

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Volunteering Overseas Is Rewarding And I Want To Do It

There are so many organizations that allow you to travel the world and volunteer. This has always been a dream of mine, and I want to share why it should be for everyone else too.

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Before I am too old to help, I want to volunteer in Africa.

There are so many places in Africa that need help. It could be that they need help with healthcare, education, and environmental or wildlife conservation. The number one destination I want to volunteer at is in Madagascar. There are many more places to go in Africa like Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and others. And if I could go to each place, I would. But I will just be happy if I am able to visit one.

I'm sure when most people think of Madagascar they think of the family-friendly movie, but what they don't know is that it isn't all fun and games like the cartoon portrays. The poverty-stricken country is not just a tourist destination. It is a place that needs a lot of improvement. Although I haven't gone yet, by the time I'm 30 I want to have volunteered in Madagascar.

The literacy rate is not as high as it should be, and the people of Madagascar are suffering. Even though it is higher than in some countries, it still isn't a large percentage. In order to help them, they need more teachers or people to help them learn. Another spreading problem is disease and healthcare. There are not enough resources or people to help with the health problems around Madagascar. I think this is a great opportunity, for you are benefiting people who need it most.

Not only are there problems with education and healthcare throughout the country, but there are also major issues revolving around their wildlife and environment. Madagascar is home to some of the most exotic animals in the world. With hundreds of different plant and animal species, people would assume there can't be any problems. Yet, this is one of their major issues. Deforestation, hunting, fires, and erosion are just some of the leading issues. With some help, people can help rebuild their habitats and save everything.

Obviously, it can be hard to cover all of these problems, but by volunteering, a little act can go a long way. This is our world. We all are on the same side. If you put yourself in their shoes, you would know how it feels. Looking into this, you will see you have so much to appreciate. Volunteering in a place like Madagascar has always been a goal of mine. One day, when I am able to do it, I know I will be gracious for the opportunity. I have a feeling, they have a lot to teach us too.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Government Shutdown

The longest government shutdown in history will impact every American.

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In the early morning hours of December 22, the longest government shutdown in United States history began. At this writing, the government has been shut down for 24 days -- and counting.

The current shutdown revolves around President Trump's request for over five billion dollars to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which he sees as a necessary response to the "massive Humanitarian Crisis" taking place at the southern border -- the flow of migrants from Central America. Democrats in Congress, who fervently deny the severity of the situation, refuse to allocate funds towards a wall, instead looking to negotiate other measures for border security. Unable to pass bipartisan spending legislation, the government remains closed.But what exactly is a shutdown, and what does it mean for ordinary Americans?

A government shutdown occurs when the annual appropriations bills that fund several government agencies and programs fail to reach passage by both Congress and the president. Congress is in charge of creating these bills, and each year the president must sign them into law in order to fund the government for a new fiscal period. In October, at the beginning of the current fiscal year, only a few of the necessary appropriations bills were enacted, and Congress had until December 21 to enact the rest. However, due to congressional infighting and the President's incessant demands for a wall, the government failed to reach a spending agreement by the deadline, and a shutdown ensued.

Without appropriated funds, any departments or agencies deemed "non-essential" are put on hold under a government shutdown. This means that many federal workers, including those within the Food and Drug Administration and National Park Service, are furloughed, or put on temporary leave without pay. The remaining employees, who work in departments or agencies considered "essential," are forced to work without pay until appropriations are made by Congress and the President. Once the government is open again, they will receive their missed checks in back pay.

Put simply, the 800,000 Americans who work for departments affected by the shutdown have been without a paycheck for almost an entire month now. In past weeks, several of these workers have taken to Washington to protest the shutdown and have appeared on television to voice their frustrations. Forced to deplete their savings to make ends meet, they worry about how they'll make their next mortgage payment and keep their families fed. Paying for daycare services for infants, or college tuition for young adults, has become almost impossible for some.

And government employees aren't the only Americans affected by the shutdown. Though social security checks are sent out and Medicare is paid for, the issuance of insurance cards could cease, meaning that those newly eligible for Medicare could be turned away. Hundreds of sites with hazardous waste or polluted drinking water will go uninspected by the EPA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, responsible for feeding thousands of impoverished families, cannot last another two months without funding.

Perhaps the scariest effect of the shutdown is its impact on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for screening passengers at airports. Since the shutdown began, airports across the country have dealt with a shortage of staff, causing long lines and massive travel delays. George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas and Miami International Airport in Florida have both been forced to close entire terminals in response to a staffing shortage. On January 14, TSA spokesman Michael Biello tweeted that TSA "experienced a national rate of 7.6 percent unscheduled absences compared to a 3.2 percent rate one year ago, Monday, January 15, 2018." Although the agency claims that security has not been compromised during the shutdown, the lack of workers leaves many travellers skeptical.

As President Trump continues to exploit the "crisis" at the border (see the televised address) and top Democrats defend the merits of legal immigration, it is unclear just how long the shutdown will continue. In the House, Democrats have passed spending bills supporting the immediate re-opening of affected federal departments, but such bills have not yet been brought to the Republican-controlled Senate. There have been no meetings scheduled between the White House and congressional staff, and Trump has abandoned his idea of declaring a national emergency. It seems the only thing left to do is wait.

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