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August 19, 2016

Zika Virus outbreak in Puerto Rico

Zika Virus outbreak in Puerto Rico – Wikinews, the free news source

Zika Virus outbreak in Puerto Rico

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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A woman from South Dakota in the U.S. has contracted the Zika virus according to the Sioux Falls Health Department, and confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She had travelled to the Caribbean, where the situation is serious with the virus being spread by mosquitoes, according to a statement on Monday from the Department of Health.

This week there have been reports the mosquito borne virus has made it’s way to the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) the virus has been recorded in Miami where the Zika is being spread my mosquitoes not humans who have already contracted the virus. This means there are mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus in Miami. The CDC are urging pregnant women who have been recently or live in Miami to get tested.

The CDC in Puerto Rico reports 5,582 people, including 672 pregnant women, diagnosed with the mosquito-borne Zika Virus and these numbers are on the rise. The percentage of people infected rose from 14 percent in February to 64 percent in June.

A U.S. surgeon general visited Puerto Rico and told the press he believes 25 percent of the population in Puerto Rico will have contacted the Zika virus by the end of 2016. With a population of 3.5 million, that’s one in every four people.

One of the symptoms caused by the Zika Virus is a rare muscle disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months. Among the people contracting the Zika Virus, only a small percentage develop GBS.

Puerto Rican Officials reported 30 people have been hospitalised and diagnosed with the short term paralysis disorder this year.

Approximately 80 percent of people that are infected with Zika do not have symptoms, and the CDC reported the number of people infected would be much higher, but people do not know they have it so they don’t seek medical help.

The World Health Organization had declared the Zika Virus a global health emergency earlier this year, but the beginning of the Puerto Rico summer brought a spike in the number of people being effected on the island.



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July 17, 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2016

On the campaign trail in the USA, June 2016

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 United States presidential election
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The following is the second edition of a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: the effect of the Brexit vote on the US presidential election is examined; a well known businessman and sports team owner pitches his candidacy for vice president; and Wikinews interviews the winner of the American Independent Party California primary.

Summary[]

As June began, national opinion polls showed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a slight lead over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Despite being mathematically eliminated, Senator Bernie Sanders remained in the Democratic race. He still held close in head-to-head match ups against Clinton in delegate-rich California ahead of that state’s June 7 primary. Clinton, who won the June 4 Virgin Islands caucuses, focused her energies on Trump, delivering a speech criticizing his candidacy. Trump responded, saying the country “is gonna die” were Clinton elected president. Trump secured the holdout endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan and threats of a Republican establishment revolt subsided when National Review writer David A. French, the preferred presidential choice of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, announced he would not run. However, Trump came under intense criticism, largely from fellow Republicans, when he accused the judge hearing a lawsuit over his venture Trump University, Gonzalo Curiel, of bias due to the judge’s Mexican heritage. Ryan called the comments “racist.” Trump’s former rivals John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker all denounced the comments. Lindsey Graham labeled Trump’s remark “the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy.” Senator Mark Kirk renounced his endorsement of Trump. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an early Trump supporter and potential running mate, called Trump’s statement “inexcusable” and “one of the worst mistakes Trump has made.” Trump described Gingrich’s criticism as “inappropriate.” Shortly thereafter, Gingrich argued that Trump’s concerns were “valid and reflect a growing pattern of politicized justice.” Trump said the media and others “misconstrued” his words. Clinton speculated that Trump was using the attack to divert attention from the Trump University case.

Clinton speaks at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on June 10.
Image: Lorie Shaull.

On the eve of the California primary, Clinton won Puerto Rico. With the delegates gained from her victory as well as a few additional superdelegates, Clinton surpassed the 2,383 delegate threshold to secure the Democratic nomination. The Associated Press, NBC, and ABC all declared Clinton as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The next day, Clinton won the California primary and also those held in New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Sanders won the Montana primary and North Dakota caucus. Sanders remained in the race but reportedly planned to cut his campaign staff by half. He announced plans to continue his campaign through the June 14 District of Columbia primary. On the Republican side, during what was the final night for GOP primaries, Trump swept all the June 7 contests in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. In the end, Trump received a record total of 13.2 million votes in the GOP primaries. Still, his Super PAC reserved only $1.2 million in television advertisements, compared to the $108 million Clinton’s Super PAC reserved. In addition, Trump stepped back from his previous fundraising goal of $1 billion, insisting he only needed half that amount. In terms of running mates, Gingrich denied having any interest on the GOP side. For Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid backed away from his initial reluctance and endorsed the idea of Senator Elizabeth Warren filling the role. Warren took to the stump, endorsing Clinton and condemning Trump as “a loud, nasty, thin-skinned, fraud” and “wannabe tyrant.” In response, Trump tweeted his desire for “goofy” Warren to receive the vice presidential nomination and accused her of having a “nasty mouth” and “one of the least productive” records in the Senate. Other Democrats also gave their support to Clinton. President Barack Obama endorsed her candidacy as did former presidential rival Martin O’Malley. Sanders stopped short of supporting Clinton, but said he would “do everything in [his] power” to defeat Trump. On the other hand, several Republicans distanced themselves from Trump. GOP booster and Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman hinted she would endorse Clinton, and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he was leaning toward backing Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson. Romney said he could not back Trump because of Trump’s “racism … bigotry … [and] misogyny.” Trump responded that he was “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered” and attacked Romney as “absolutely pathetic,” saying Romney “choked like a dog” during his loss to President Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Polls from June 10 showed Clinton leading Trump nationwide with leads ranging from three to eleven percentage points.

Trump speaks at an Arizona rally on June 18.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

The campaign took a new turn on June 12 when a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida left 49 dead. The shooter expressed allegiance to ISIS. In the aftermath, Trump tweeted appreciation for those congratulating him for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” but said he did not want the congratulations, preferring “toughness and vigilance” instead. He attacked President Obama as someone who “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands.” The Washington Post published an article interpreting the comment as suggesting Obama was “complicit” in the shooting. In response, Trump revoked the press credentials of the Post. On the day following the shooting, Trump delivered a speech condemning it as “an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity”. He criticized Clinton’s immigration policies as opening the door for Islamic radicals espousing anti-LGBT views and said he would be a better protector of LGBT rights than Clinton. In addition, he slammed Clinton and Obama for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Clinton, who denounced the shooting as an “act of terror” and “an act of hate,” said she was comfortable using the term “radical Islamism.” This prompted Trump to declare he had “shamed” Clinton into using the term. Furthermore, Clinton touted her support for a ban on assault rifles and gun ownership for those on the no fly list. Trump agreed on the last point and said he would attempt to convince the National Rifle Association, which had endorsed him, to support such a measure. With the shooting dominating news coverage, the final Democratic primary was held on June 14 in Washington, D.C. Clinton handily defeated Sanders. A Bloomberg poll of Sanders supporters showed 22% planned to vote for Trump, 15% for Gary Johnson, and 55% for Clinton. The same poll showed a 12 point advantage for Clinton over Trump, 49% to 37% with 9% for Johnson. A CBS poll showed a tighter race with Clinton leading Trump 39% to 32% with Johnson at 11%. Clinton and Trump shared high unfavorable ratings in an ABC/Washington Post poll with 55% of respondents having a negative opinion of Clinton and 70% having a negative opinion of Trump.

Dissension within the Democratic Party appeared to crest in mid-June. Sanders finally admitted “it doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee” and said he planned to vote for Clinton in the general election. This came even as reports showed Sanders was not being considered for the vice presidential nomination. According to The Wall Street Journal the individuals being vetted for the position were Senator Warren, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senators Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown, and Cory Booker, as well as Congressmen Tim Ryan and Xavier Becerra. Meanwhile, Trump’s June struggles continued as the DNC opposition research file on him was hacked, reportedly by the Russian government, then leaked and published on Gawker. Trump accused the DNC of orchestrating the hack itself to publicize “misleading and/or entirely inaccurate” information. Next, a number of prominent Republicans endorsed Clinton, including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, both members of the George W. Bush administration. Congressman Mike Simpson claimed there were many other Republicans who would privately vote for Clinton over Trump without saying so publicly. Reports of an anti-Trump delegate coup at the Republican National Convention were published in The Washington Post. Trump denied this as a media-crafted hoax. Additionally, Federal Election Commission reports showed the Trump campaign short on cash with only $1,289,507 available. Citing need for a change, Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski replacing him with Paul Manafort. Combating the dissension within the party, national co-chairman Sam Clovis went on CNN, demanding Republicans “to get behind the presumptive nominee …[or] just shut the hell up.” The outlook for the Trump campaign improved with the vote in the United Kingdom to exit from the European Union. Trump publicly backed the exit, which was hailed as a populist reaction similar to the movement behind Trump. Trump, who was in Scotland at the time opening a golf course, explained the vote as the UK taking “back their country. That’s a great thing.” At the end of June, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Trump trailing Clinton by only one point nationwide, 39% to 38%, with Johnson at 10% and presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein at 6%. By June 30, a Rasmussen Reports poll showed Trump with a four point lead over Clinton, 43% to 39%. In the Real Clear Politics average at the close of June, Clinton led Trump 44.6% to 39.8%.

Brexit’s impact on the US presidential election[]

In June, the United Kingdom voted to exit from the European Union, resulting in the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. This historic turn of events, termed the Brexit, had ramifications of international import. Particularly, the moment became one of political significance in the United States due to the involvement of both President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Comparisons of the anti-establishment Brexit movement were made with the anti-establishment campaign of Trump. Seeking professional analysis, Wikinews looked to political science to better understand the potential impact of the Brexit vote on the 2016 US presidential election.

Last April, President Obama inserted himself into the politics of Brexit, urging Britain to remain in the European Union. He wrote an editorial for The Telegraph and held a press conference with Prime Minister Cameron in which he warned that if Britain divorced itself from the EU, it would go “to the back of the queue” in terms of a trade agreement with the United States. In contrast, Donald Trump argued in favor of Brexit, connecting it to the larger issue of immigration. Commentators noted the goals of the Brexit movement aligned with Trump’s protectionist views on trade and support for immigration restriction. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, a leading proponent of Brexit, was himself compared to Trump.

Anti-Brexit street art of Donald Trump embracing Boris Johnson.
Image: Matt Brown.

The most immediate impact of Brexit on the United States came just after reports of the 52 percent to 48 percent vote, when stocks tanked. Markets rebounded somewhat since, though uncertainty remains. Hillary Clinton attacked Trump for the consequence. Her foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan argued that “Trump actively rooted for this outcome and the economic turmoil in its wake”. Clinton ran an ad in which she accused Trump of benefiting financially from a market downturn. Trump labeled the ad “disgraceful” and claimed she was “trying to wash away her bad judgment call on BREXIT with big dollar ads.”

Trump’s head-to-head polling numbers against Clinton increased somewhat after the June 23 vote. Trump rose in the Rasmussen Reports survey from a five point deficit before to a four point lead after. In Gravis, Trump cut Clinton’s four point lead in half. However, deficits for Trump remained unchanged for the Economist/YouGov and the Reuters/Ipsos polls.

Pollster John Zogby of Zogby Analytics expects Trump’s position to improve as a result of Brexit. He tells Wikinews, the vote “strengthens populism and gives Trump supporters some wind at their back.” As for Clinton, he foresees difficulties due to the closeness of the race and the perception of Clinton as “the rep of the elites at a bad time to be so.”

Political scientist John McCormick, a professor of European Union politics at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, mostly agrees. Though the Brexit impact is difficult to predict, McCormick explains to Wikinews that “some of the forces that led to Brexit are also behind the popularity of Donald Trump, and in that sense Brexit has opened the door a little wider to the possibility of a Trump presidency.”

“A lot of people voted for Brexit because they resented the manner in which they thought establishment politicians had ignored their needs, or were fearful of more emigration, or disliked the effects of globalization, or had bought into populist warnings about the growing domestic threats of Islamist extremist terrorism”, says McCormick, “So people here are going to be voting for Trump for many of the same reasons they voted for Brexit in the UK, and in that sense the vote will have an effect on the November election.”

McCormick also believes further economic disturbance could result from Brexit, which could itself have an effect on the election as US voters head to the polls.

Amid talk of secession in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London, the UK Conservative Party was to select a new Prime Minister to oversee Brexit and attempt to unify the kingdom. The selection was thought likely to be made in October, just a month ahead of the US presidential election.

Cuban makes vice presidential pitch[]

With the National Basketball Association concluding its season in June, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a new sport to follow. As he revealed last August in a chat on his social media app Cyber Dust, “5 weeks till training camp […] [b]ut until then Donald Trump watching is a sport.” Though Cuban, a fellow businessman and billionaire, then praised Trump’s unconventional candidacy as “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time”, and even offered himself as a possible running mate, he has since grown critical of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, questioning his wealth, temperament, and business acumen. The marked change has led to speculation about Cuban’s own political aspirations. In May, members of the #NeverTrump movement approached him about running for president as an independent, which he rejected. He did, however, open himself to running as the running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, punctuating that possibility with a statement that he is leaning toward voting for her over Trump in November. As the 2016 Democratic National Convention approaches, Cuban has continued to express his interest in the position.

Cuban in 2005.
Image: James Duncan Davidson/O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Cuban addressed the vice presidency on the May 22 edition of Meet the Press, proclaiming that, if offered, he would join Clinton’s ticket on the condition she “go more to the center” politically. He explained, “I like the fact that Senator Clinton has thought-out proposals.” Nevertheless, he has criticized Clinton for having “no personality”, “no charisma”, and for making “horrible mistakes” as Secretary of State, mentioning the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Nevertheless, Cuban says he is willing to look past all that, believing the main issue is “whether or not I can add value and whether or not I can impact any perspective and hopefully have a positive impact on the country”.

James Pethokoukis, writing for The Week, explains how Cuban can add value to a Democratic ticket. Describing Cuban as charismatic and well spoken, Pethokoukis says Cuban would neutralize Trump’s appeal as an outsider candidate while making the Democratic ticket “more palatable” to disaffected Republicans. Though the nomination of a centrist businessman could upset progressives, Pethokoukis feels Cuban’s middle-class Pennsylvania background could provide a compelling story for the majority of the electorate.

“Basically, Cuban is Trump”, writes Pethokoukis, “without all the bigotry … and without the insane policies … and with probably more dough.”

Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics disagrees with Pethokoukis’s premise. “To me, the first rule of vice presidential selection is ‘first, do no harm'”, he explains to Wikinews, “Cuban would be a risky choice for Clinton that does not provide an obvious benefit[…] One of Clinton’s benefits in this election is that, compared to Trump, she seems qualified for the job and serious enough for the job. Picking Cuban doesn’t really help her make that argument.”

Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research agrees, commenting to Wikinews that Cuban has “virtually no chance” of becoming Clinton’s running mate because, “he’s a political novice who doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of shoring up Hillary’s left flank, appealing to independents, or being a governing partner. Cuban’s a colorful, outspoken guy, and I think he’s just having fun. I don’t think he has any real political ambitions.”

Clinton insiders also say Cuban has no chance. However, Clinton herself is appreciative of Cuban’s “openness,” announcing on Meet the Press that she is “very interested” in considering “successful businesspeople” who have not held elected office.

Still, Cuban has continued to make media appearances touting himself as a potential vice presidential candidate. He even went on the attack against a front-runner for the position, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, arguing she is too far left and that if she were selected, he would probably vote for Trump. In addition, Cuban recently boasted to TMZ that Clinton “needs me” for the position.

At the end of June, Cuban met with former President Bill Clinton, husband of Hillary, at a casual dinner party where politics were discussed.

Clinton is expected to choose a running mate before the July 25 National Convention commences in Philadelphia. Senators Warren, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro are among the favorites to receive the vice presidential nomination.

California American Independent Party primary winner speaks to Wikinews[]

Though most of the media attention of the June 7 California primary focused on the Democratic and Republican races, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump winning each, respectively, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the American Independent Party (AIP) all held primaries as well, owing to the fact that each has attained the status of political party in the state; a designation reserved for parties that can show they have registered members totaling greater than 0.33% of registered voters in the state, and maintained with either keeping registered voters at that percentage or holding 0.067% of registered voters while winning at least two percent of the vote in a statewide election. The largest of these third parties, the AIP, had seven participants in its primary. Wikinews reached out to the victor, Alan Spears, an attorney from Cedar Glen, California.

██ Alan Spears

██ Arthur Harris

██ Robert Ornelas

██ Wiley Drake

██ J.R. Myers

██ James Hedges

██ Tom Hoefling

The AIP is a paleoconservative group formerly affiliated with the Constitution Party. It opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, and supports the construction of a fence along the US–Mexico border. Though the party has an estimated half million registered members, three percent of all registered voters in California, a Los Angeles Times poll shows 73% mistakenly joined the party believing they were registering as Independent. As a result, these voters could only vote in the American Independent Party primary.

According to the latest count, 42,241 voted for the candidates on the ballot in the primary. Ballot Access News speculated Donald Trump won the primary since more than two thirds of voters wrote-in candidates, the majority believed to have been for Trump, but these votes were not counted. Of the candidates on the ballot, Spears won with 8,103 votes (19.2%). Former Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineering technician Arthur Harris came in second with 7,216 (17.1%). 2012 AIP vice presidential nominee and hip hop artist Robert Ornelas finished third with 7,164 (17%). Fourth place Wiley Drake, a pastor and TV host, edged fifth place J.R. Myers, chairman of the Alaska Constitution Party, by one vote, 5,476 to 5,475 (roughly 13% apiece). Prohibition Party presidential nominee James Hedges came in sixth with 4,462 (10.6%). Surprisingly, the AIP’s 2012 presidential nominee Tom Hoefling came in last place with 4,345 votes (10.3%). The results of the primary are nonbinding. The AIP is to nominate its 2016 presidential ticket at its convention August 13–14.

Spears, who uses the slogan “Let’s Restore America’s Greatness,” proclaims on his candidate statement provided to the California Secretary of State, “[w]e [Americans] are at war with Islam!” He focuses his presidential campaign on the issue of Islamic terrorism, advocating the use of “overwhelming force” to combat it. Additionally, he believes the US government “must deal with anarchists hiding behind the First Amendment who seek to destroy our institutions,” and supports an eradication of the “Deep Dark Web.”

With Wikinews, Spears discusses his primary victory, the AIP nomination, ballot access, and what he hopes to accomplish with his campaign.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What is your reaction to winning the California American Independent Party presidential primary in June? Do you believe this victory will help you secure the AIP presidential nomination?

Spears: I was shocked and pleasantly surprised I won the AIP’s California June 7th Primary. It wasn’t by much of a margin, and the totality of the Party’s votes were minuscule, but I feel I did make a VERY conservative statement. I pray that it will [help secure the nomination]!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png Are you attempting to appear on the ballot in other states? If so, where? If not, why?

Spears: I haven’t a clue how to get on the primary ballots in other states, and I believe it is too late at this juncture.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.png What do you hope to accomplish by running for president?

Spears: My ultra-conservative politics are essential to the survival of the Republic. Trump spews rhetoric, but until quite recently his words lack meaning. He has little insight into foreign policy and military matters. God, how I wish I could trade positions with him! I am “on record” The Voter’s Self Defense System with policy positions, have spewed much ultra-conservative drivel at www.Facebook.com/aesracingltd, and try to find time to blog to my website at Home – Alan E. Spears, Esq – Independent Presidential Candidate You may vet me at www.Alan Spears.com.



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October 1, 2013

Sallie Mae leads Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints about student loans

Sallie Mae leads Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints about student loans

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Education
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File photo of Sallie Mae’s headquarters in 2007
Image: Joshua Davis.

A review this week by Wikinews of US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaints about student loans in the United States shows Sallie Mae leads all lending institutions in complaints. Of the 4,851 complaints dating back to March 2012 when the CFPB first began collecting student loan data, 2,262 or 46.6% of all complaints were about the lender. US Federal Reserve data from 2010/2011 shows Sallie Mae is the nation’s largest student loan lender, responsible for 25% of the market

The other major lenders in this space include Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, PNC, and Discover. In complaints, AES/PHEAA came in second with 546, or 11.3% of all complaints. Wells Fargo, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase each had between 5% and 7.5% of all complaints, totaling 918 complaints between them. 78 other lending institutions round out the list of organizations with complaints filed against them for student loans.

Few of the complaints originate from people with problems with federal student loans. Less than 1%, 35 total, are for these types of loans, with Sallie Mae accounting for the bulk of complaints with 17 total. 14 other lending institutions have 3 or fewer complaints. For non-federal student loans, Sallie Mae is still the leader for complaints, with 2245 or 46.6% of all non-federal student loan complaints.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sorts complaints into three issues: Problems when you are unable to pay, Repaying your loan, and Getting a loan. None of the federal loans had complaints about getting a loan. For non-federal loans, 65.5% of the 4,816 complaints related to loan repayment. Sallie Mae led in total complaints in this category with 1467. They were followed by AES/PHEAA with 356, Wells Fargo with 231, Citibank with 201, Discover with 158, JPMorgan Chase with 154, ACS Education Services with 143, and KeyBank NA with 116. CFPB says loan repayment issues include a basket of claim types including “fees, billing, deferment, forbearance, fraud, and credit reporting.” Problems when you are unable pay accounts for 30.8% of the complaints. Sallie Mae had 698 complaints. They were followed by AES/PHEAA with 181, JPMorgan Chase with 106, Wells Fargo with 104, Citibank with 70, and KeyBank NA with 58. Many of the complaints are, according to the CFPB, because borrowers have difficulty getting deferrments on loan repayment as a result of being unable to find employment.

Month by month complaints against major lenders
Image: Laura Hale.

The total complaints against Sallie Mae for September of this year is 2 fewer than the same time last year. The company’s performance this year compared to last year has been mixed. March and June numbers were down over 150 complaints from the same month a year before. April, May, July and August all saw increases of 17–43. Of the top six lenders by volume of complaints, only AES/PHEAA and Citibank saw drops every month between March and September from the total volume in the previous year. Wells Fargo had a gain of 1 in August and 6 in May from the previous year. JPMorgan Chase had a difference of 0 from the same month last year for April, 3 more this year for May, and 4 more for August. Discover saw an increase every month from the same period last year except for September. When the total complaints differences from year to year for March to September are counted, this year has 571 fewer complaints against the top six lenders.

Closure reason percentage for student loan complaints by lender
Image: Laura Hale.

Most, 1470, of the complaints against Sallie Mae were closed with explanations. 10.2% were closed with monetary relief. 7.7% were closed with non-monetary relief. 2.1% were closed with relief and 12.1% were closed without relief. AES/PHEAA’s complaint closure picture was much different. 40.1% of AES/PHEAA’s 546 complaints were closed with non-monetary relief, 35.3% were closed with explanations and 21.2% were closed without relief. Of the eight lending institutions with 100 or more complaints filed against them, Discover was the institution most likely to result in a closure with monetary relief with 12.9% of all their closures ending this way. Citibank was the institution with the highest percentage of closures ending with no relief at 26.0%.

Geographic distribution of student loan complaints
Image: Laura Hale.

Complaints over student loan lenders were geographically distributed, coming from 3,447 different zip codes. The largest cluster of complaints is for 20001, a Washington D.C. zip code with 10 complaints originating from there. 07950, the zip code for Morris Plains, New Jersey, and 37013, the zip code for Antioch, Tennessee, each had 8 complaints originating from them. Zip codes for Patchogue, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington D.C.; and Arlington, Virginia each had 7 complaints originating from them. By volume of complaints by state, New York led with 497, with California second with 467, Pennsylvania third with 303, Florida fourth with 288 and Ohio fifth with 219 complaints. US Territories largely occupied the bottom spots. The Northern Marianas Islands, with a population of around 50,000, had 1 complaint. The U.S. Armed Forces – Pacific had 3. North Dakota and U.S. Armed Forces – Europe had 5 complaints each. South Dakota had 7. Wyoming had 8. Puerto Rico and Alaska had 9 each. Rounding out the bottom five states by volume of complaints, Mississippi had 11.

With the possibility of a United States government federal shutdown looming on October 1, student loans may be impacted because of potential for an automatic increase in interest rates.



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September 21, 2013

Bolivian president announces legal action over Obama\’s \’crimes against humanity\’

Bolivian president announces legal action over Obama’s ‘crimes against humanity’

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Correction — October 4, 2013
 
The last paragraph of this article should say “President Maduro” rather than “President Morales”. We apologize for the error.
 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Crime and law
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The Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Thursday he will file legal charges against the United States President Barack Obama for crimes against humanity. President Morales announced he was preparing litigation after Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro‘s plane was allegedly denied entry into U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico.

File photo of Evo Morales.
Image: Agência Brasil.

Official portrait of Barack Obama.
Image: Pete Souza.

President Morales called Obama a “criminal” violating international law. Morales called an emergency meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), made up of 33 member states including Argentina, Mexico and Chile, and encouraged member states to remove their ambassadors from the U.S. to show their solidarity. He asked Bolivarian Alliance member states to boycott the next United Nations meeting, to be held in New York on September 24. He also said the U.S. had pursued a policy of “intimidation” and have a history of blockading presidential flights.

In July this year, the Bolivian presidential aircraft was prevented from landing in Portugal to refuel, allegedly at the request of the U.S. administration. After Italy, Spain and France each banned the aircraft from entering their airspace, it was ultimately forced to land in Austria. Here, the plane was boarded as part of the search for U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden. Several Latin American heads of state promptly condemned the actions.

President Evo Morales is in his second presidential term after first being elected in 2005. He campaigned on the promise of alleviating Bolivia’s crippling poverty — Bolivia was Latin America’s poorest nation at the time he was elected — and is Bolivia’s first indigenous leader. He became internationally recognisable for the striped jumper he wore while meeting with high level dignitaries, including kings and presidents, around the world. His actions as President have included halving his own salary and those of his ministers, seizing Bolivia’s gas and oil reserves, and redistributing the nation’s unused countryside to the poor.

President Morales had been bound for bilateral talks in China. He maintains he will not be prevented from attending them.



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November 8, 2012

Puerto Rican voters support US statehood

Puerto Rican voters support US statehood

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

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For the first time in the US territory’s history, voters in Puerto Rico apparently supported statehood in a non-binding referendum on Tuesday. The outcome, however, remains uncertain as various politicians interpret the referendum results differently.

Puerto Ricans were previously asked to vote on their political status in 1967, 1993, and 1998. Supporters of statehood did not win a majority in any of those votes. Spain ceded control over the territory to the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917, but residents cannot vote in presidential or Senate elections. They have only limited representation in the House of Representatives. Since 1952 the island has been a commonwealth, a self-governing unincorporated territory. Puerto Ricans currently do not pay federal income tax, but they are charged payments to Social Security and are eligible for federal welfare benefits.

Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State, said economic factors and a declining population contributed to the push for statehood. The federal government currently sends millions of dollars per year to Puerto Rico in social aid, where income per person is only half that of any state. Puerto Ricans have been moving from the island to the mainland United States, where 58 percent of Puerto Ricans now reside. “I think people just came to realize that the current relationship simply does not create the number of jobs that we need,” said McClintock.

The ballot measure, which coincided with the general election held throughout the United States, was split into two parts. The first question asked whether the voters preferred to maintain the current political status of Puerto Rico. 54 percent — over 900,000 people — voted against the current commonwealth status.

Independent of the first question, voters were then asked to choose from three options: statehood, independence, or semi-autonomous “sovereign free association”. Of those who made a choice, 61 percent supported statehood, 33 percent supported “sovereign free association”, and 6 percent supported independence.

Nearly 500,000 people, or a third of those voting, declined to answer this second question, making it difficult to interpret the results. Moreover, the pro-statehood governor — one of the most prominent advocates for statehood — lost his bid for reelection. Governor-elect Garcia Padilla, in favor of maintaining the current commonwealth status, pledged to convene a constitutional assembly to address the matter in 2014. Another referendum would follow with support from the US Congress, whose approval is needed for Puerto Rico to become a state.



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August 30, 2012

Micronesia left behind by the Paralympic movement

Micronesia left behind by the Paralympic movement

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Summer Paralympics

Trafalgar Square, London - London 2012 - countdown clock.jpg

Newest 2012 Paralympic stories
  • 29 June 2014: Medal-seeking Spanish men arrive at 2014 Goalball World Championships
  • 26 June 2014: Belgian men’s goalball team departs for Finland for World Championships
  • 3 January 2014: Wikinews interviews Australian wheelchair basketball player Tina McKenzie
  • 15 August 2013: Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font
  • 11 August 2013: Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Marta Gómez

Sir Philip Craven at the International Paralympic Committee press conference
Image: Laura Hale.

London, England — At the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) press conference Monday, Sir Philip Craven indicated the goal of the IPC is to grow disability sport globally. At the same time, according to Paul Bird of the Oceania Paralympic Committee, the Micronesian of Oceania has been left completely behind by the Paralympic movement.

According to a member of the Oceania Paralympic Committee, the IPC recognizes fewer countries than the International Olympic Committee, with IPC rules prohibiting countries from becoming full members of the organization if their independence is not clear. This rule dates back to the organization’s founding and no serious attempts have been made to change it since.

As many Micronesian countries are not viewed as independent countries, they cannot join. This includes Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The only eligibility route for elite athletes with disabilities in these countries to the Paralympic Games is through their home country, which for most of the Micronesian region is the United States; they have to compete against better-funded and better-supported competitors to earn national team selection. No disability sport competitors from Micronesia were chosen to represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

This problem is not unique to Micronesia, with the United States territories of Puerto Rico and United States Virgin Islands not being represented as members of the United States team in 2012.



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April 28, 2012

Wikinews interviews Fred Karger, U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate

Wikinews interviews Fred Karger, U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fred Karger in 2010.
Image: IowaPolitics.com.

United States political consultant and gay rights (LGBT) activist Fred Karger of California took some time to discuss his Republican Party presidential campaign with Wikinews reporter William Saturn. Karger holds the distinction as the first openly gay person to seek the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party.

Before entering electoral politics, Karger worked as an adviser for such prominent Republicans and former U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Since retiring as an adviser in 2004, he has been involved in LGBT issues: opposing California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state; and leading investigations of such same-sex marriage opponents as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church).

In 2010, Karger first announced his intentions to seek the Republican presidential nomination, but did not officially announce until March 2011. One of his early campaign goals was to participate in a GOP presidential debate, but was never invited due to polling thresholds. However, Karger argued that he did meet the requirement for an August debate, but was still excluded after the organizers deemed polls he cited as inadequate.

So far, Karger has appeared on four Republican primary ballots including Puerto Rico, where he was able to top Congressman Ron Paul, who, at the time was one of the four major candidates in the race. Karger will next appear on the ballots in California on June 5, and in Utah on June 26.

Karger brands himself as “a different kind of Republican” that wants to open the party to outsiders. He backs gay marriage, is pro-choice on abortion, and wants to lower the voting age. However, he also holds some traditional Republican views: he favors a strengthening of the private sector and believes the U.S. should be steadfast in its support for the nation of Israel.

In talking to Wikinews, Karger discusses his personal political background and activism, the 2012 presidential election and his GOP campaign, as well as his political views on both domestic and foreign affairs.

Background

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam S. SaturnWikinews waves Right.pngI’m going to start with the background. What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

Karger with former President George H. W. Bush in 2006.
Image: Fred Karger.

Fred Karger: Well, I have been involved in politics for 55 years. I am very proud that I first began working on campaigns, and then evolved into a profession. I got to work with some of the great leaders in the country: George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan. I got to involve myself in a lot of the issues of the time; involved in initiatives, elections all over the country; and then, most recently was a direct activist in discovering a lot of illicit activities by the Mormon Church, involving itself in many of the anti-Gay marriage campaigns from 1995 in Hawaii to our current election going on now; and then also taking on the National Organization for Marriage, and then investigated in Maine, which resulted in a treasure trove of documents disclosing their illicit activities. So I would think those are certainly some of my highlights in my 62 years, but I got all the fight left in me.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat did you learn from Ronald Reagan?

Fred Karger: Well, I learned about his great optimism and his ability to get along with Democrats and Republicans, conservatives [and] liberals. He had an innate ability to work with people of all stripes and get along with them. Good with speaking the language of the time, building alliances to get a lot of things done in the best interest of the country, unlike President Obama and the Congress today. Ronald Reagan never took himself too seriously…

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngI read on your Facebook profile that you supported Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries. Why did you support her?

Fred Karger: The Republican Party has moved too far to the right for my liking. And that was not the Republican Party that I grew up with. I think there’s room in the party for a broad coalition of thought…
I was very disenchanted with the Republicans running four years ago, and I liked Hillary Clinton. I liked her husband. I thought he was a good centrist and a good president. And I wanted to help out and support her. I didn’t work for her, but I did max out. I gave $2300 over a period of time in 2008 to her. And I just thought she would have been a very good president.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWho did you support during the general election?

Fred Karger: During the general in 2008, I didn’t support either candidate. I had helped George W. Bush in 2000. We were working an independent expenditure committee that I helped with a gentleman named Charles Francis that was a Gay-Straight alliance that supported George W. Bush, but then he let us down with his vocal support for a federal Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and other anti-gay activities that campaign and he were involved with in 2004. So I did not help him. I did not vote for him in 2004. I voted for a third party candidate because then I was not too convinced that Barack Obama was the right man for the job. So I was a Ralph Nader voter. I didn’t do anything with his campaign or more, but I did end up voting for him.
Cquote1.svg The public doesn’t know enough about the Mormon Church, so I wanted to help make them aware because there are some very interesting parts of that religion that I think it’s certainly open for discussion with Mitt Romney as the likely Republican nominee Cquote2.svg

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou have been very critical of the Mormon Church for its support of Proposition 8, and you created a website titled, “the Top Ten Craziest Mormon beliefs”. Some of your followers on Facebook wrote comments that this went too far. What is your response to them?

Fred Karger: Well, the Mormon Church as I discovered by documents that were given to me, official Mormon Chuch documents going back to 1995, has led the way on all the anti-Gay initiatives, constitutional amendments in the country. All thirty one that have been successful, the Mormon Church was instrumental in efforts. So I have announced. I don’t do things secretly like they do. I’ve been very up front about it. I signed my name to everything.
And I am determined to try and get them to reconsider their vehement opposition, not just to gay marriage, but the way they treat gay and lesbian members of the Mormon faith. And there’s a wonderful new video out with a dozen students from BYU talking about that and how difficult it is to be gay and Mormon. And this church, which is on the cusp of having a President of the United States, is cruel [through] activities that have been done to LGBT members and followers and as well as all of us non-members, who have been critical of their activism.
I think it is the wrong direction and I will continue to shadow that and keep them honest in politics, which they have not been as we found in California. And I think as their public affairs director had invited, which is why I put that website up, the public doesn’t know enough about the Mormon Church, so I wanted to help make them aware because there are some very interesting parts of that religion that I think it’s certainly open for discussion with Mitt Romney as the likely Republican nominee.

2012 presidential campaign

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s talk about the campaign. I’ve seen from your photos that while campaigning, you’ve encountered such candidates as Jon Huntsman, Jr. and Michele Bachmann. Do they recognize you and/or acknowledge the historical significance of your campaign?

Fred Karger: I’ve met every single candidate running and have general pictures with all. The only one [exception] I think is Ron Paul, who I did meet with in his office in Washington. He was the one, who actually set up a formal meeting with me in January of 2011. We had a wonderful meeting. He had not made up his mind yet.

Karger with Jon Huntsman, Jr. in 2011.
Image: Fred Karger.

But yes, Rick Santorum knew me well. We would run in to each other all the time. Everyone was very courteous to me. Some I became more friendly with: Gary Johnson or Jon Huntsman, very, very cordial to me. I would actually say that Gary Johnson and me became friends. We would see each other all the time, went to meals together.
So I had asked all the Republican candidates running to have lunch, dinner, coffee with me. I thought it would be a good opportunity for the other Republicans running, and in a friendly manner to meet, to get to know an openly gay candidate for president, which no one has done before. But I think it was just my olive branch. As I was saying earlier, what Ronald Reagan did and what he taught me, which was to reach out to everybody. And certainly there’s some Republicans, who have said some very bad things about my community and I want to help them based on that and come up with the areas we have in common as opposed to the areas where we disagree.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYou previously said that one of your goals in your campaign was to participate in a GOP presidential debate, now that no more debates have been scheduled, what are you hoping to achieve by continuing your campaign?

Fred Karger: Well that had been my primary goal to get in a presidential debate. A big feat for someone who has never run for office before and doesn’t have tens of millions of dollars to spend on his campaign. I came very close. I did qualify. I met the criteria for the Fox News debate last August in Ames, Iowa, but they changed the rules and prohibited me from participating. So I am holding out hope that there still may be another debate. There’s talk of a Texas debate. Governor Romney might not do anymore but there may be a situation where there’s just a handful of candidates. There’s only four of us now that are still actively running that are on state ballots like California and Utah. So I still have hope that there might be a debate. But short of that I will be campaigning vigorously in California. That’s the next ballot I am on.
Cquote1.svg The numbers obviously don’t add up for me to be the nominee, but I can certainly be a factor and that is one of my goals. Cquote2.svg
We are shooting our first California commercial on Saturday. It’s an elaborate production, and I’m hoping we’ll be running it on television in California. Hopefully it will catch on in a viral manner like some of our commercials have and maybe be kind of an introduction to California about my campaign years. So I’m going to be spending the next almost eight weeks all up and down my home state. I’m the only Californian on the ballot. And on our California ballot, it doesn’t list occupation. It just lists hometown and state. So I will have Laguna Beach, California as my ballot designation, which none of the other three remaining candidates, of course, are from here. So that’s an advantage. And we’ve got a lot of volunteers. A lot up and down the state. And I hope to register here. I’m going to be targeting three congressional districts, because the delegates are awarded by congressional district here. So I’m hopeful that I can pull out some delegates and be more of a factor in this race. The numbers obviously don’t add up for me to be the nominee, but I can certainly be a factor and that is one of my goals.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngAs you’ve said, it seems very likely that Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination. Might you support him in the general election?

Fred Karger: Well, I said that I’m very uncomfortable with anyone who signed this marriage pledge of the National Organization for Marriage. I asked him specifically to disavow that pledge. They just endorsed his candidacy yesterday. This is a very shady organization that is under investigation for money laundering in Maine. It has just been revealed by four unsealed documents by a federal judge that were subpoenaed from NOM of their devious and illegal activities. We now know that there have been illegal activities that have taken place by them. And I am uncomfortable with Mitt Romney as long as he is willing to connect with this very very questionable organization. And so I’m going to weigh the field. I am not going to make any decisions if he were to be our nominee as the Republican Party. I liked his dad a lot. I’m not quite there with Mitt Romney, but I’ll have to wait and see how things develop.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngYour best showing in the Republican primaries so far came in Puerto Rico last month. In terms of campaigning, what did you learn from that experience?

Fred Karger: Well, Puerto Rico has an open primary as did Michigan. I tend to do better in states with an open primary because Republicans that are voting in a primary tend to be far more conservative. So if they have heard of me and know that I’m an openly gay candidate that of course could eliminate a potential vote. So I like that. I like the fact that I got an enormous amount of attention down there.

Karger campaigning in Puerto Rico in March.
Image: Fred Karger.

Cquote1.svg The [Puerto Rican] media was very interested. I was endorsed by the number one radio talk show host in San Juan, Carmen Jovet, who had interviewed me on her show. Cquote2.svg

Puerto Rico is way behind the states in its support for gay civil rights. There’s a gay and lesbian center that’s only been open for one year, as opposed to the states where gay centers have been open for 25 or 30 years or more. So they are very much behind the times. But they are coming around. They are very grateful for my presence there. I got a lot of speaking engagements. The media was very interested. I was endorsed by the number one radio talk show host in San Juan, Carmen Jovet, who had interviewed me on her show. And she’s a very prominent media personality. And when there was a hurricane there, they got her to chair the foundation. We just spoke, having fun with it. I didn’t know that after that she would endorse me and that had a lot to do with it.

And we did things in Puerto Rico well: we campaigned in the big towns that were competitive right before the election; did a lot of speaking; a lot of meeting the voters; colleges that we’d go to all over. So we did a blitz there in six days that was successful and I was proud to beat Ron Paul. And of course, what Romney did, and what Santorum didn’t do was to listen to the voters and listen to the citizens of Puerto Rico, which you have to have respect for their heritage. And to come in and say this whole territory must learn English in order to be eligible for statehood is just not smart, spin politics. So I listened. I do. And I respect their heritage especially years of Spanish speaking that can’t expect to transform that as a bargain, a negotiating bargain for statehood. So I just had regard for the culture and the people, and responded to what I think was a good fit for Puerto Rico. But I also, along with statehood, which is still a mixed issue down there, a lot of the younger people want independence than even want statehood, but I’m open to whatever that would be and to whatever the Puerto Ricans really would like to be for themselves.

Political views

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngLet’s get into policy. You proposed that the voting age be reduced. How might you convince Republicans to support this when polls suggest that the youth generally support Democrats?

Fred Karger: Well, it’s something that I’ve not advocated as a particular constitutional amendment. I suggested that we should hold a discussion for lowering the voting age to 16 or 17. And that’s one of the things I’ve been doing for our campaign. And in regards to your question, the Republican Party is doing everything it can to drive away this younger generation. Candidates like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Mitt Romney are doing and saying things that are so anathema to younger voters. Ron Paul is doing the opposite. That’s why he gets 6400 people at UCLA. He gets thousands of students coming out. And I applaud him because he’s the only one who has the foresight to realize there’s a future to this Republican Party beyond November.

Karger speaking with youth in Puerto Rico.
Image: Fred Karger.

So one of the things I’ve tried to do, I’ve tried to reach out to students in high school and college. I’ve spoken at a lot of high schools. There are 18 year old voters there. And I’m looking to the future of the Republican Party. And I think we need to do and say things and put the policies that will appeal to young voters. Currently jobs is the number one issue and I talk about that. That’s a concern of younger voters in high school, college, wherever they are. So we just need to be a little more aware of that generation, so if there are 16 or 17 year old voters someday, they will be split, and that we will have welcomed them as Ronald Reagan did. There’s a 70 year old man that just completely brought back a younger generation to the Republican Party that they had been driven away by Watergate. I know because I was a younger voter then who was working with then-Republicans to bring younger voters into the Republican Party. And if they think it’s tough now, it was ten times tougher then.
We need to be much more aware. Think out all of the ways to do it: to speak the language; to offer them the opportunity to participate; to teach them voting at a younger age in high school so that they get in more of a habit once out of high school and off to college or in workforce, and are less likely to become advantageous voters. I think we need to teach voting in high school. Bring candidates like myself, Congressional candidates, their own candidates from city race, into the high school and I think that’ll help people become better voters. And I also think it’ll also help a certain percentage stay in high school that may not ordinarily, cause we’re of course, losing a million high school students a year dropping out, and the 2 or 3 percent love politics and they’re learning from politicians. They may be less likely to drop out. It’s helping to then lessen that crisis.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngConsidering the Tenth amendment, should same sex marriage be a state issue?

Fred Karger: I am a strong advocate of states’ rights, but not on a civil rights issue like gay marriage. And had we left interracial marriage to the states, we know that would have been a long time and coming, and the Supreme Court interceded and made that the law of the land. And I think on this issue that the court will ultimately decide that this issue should not be left to the voters. That is a gigantic mistake. A legislature are better. Some have more courage. But it’s too hot a political issue. It should be a legal issue. And I’m looking forward to the Nevada case for that to work its way up to federal courts and then for the California Perry case. I think those two will be very important in making all the different people equal.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow can high energy costs be reduced?

Karger during the 2012 presidential election.
Image: Gage Skidmore.
Theodore Roosevelt during the 1912 presidential election.
Fred Karger: Well, that’s a very complex issue. Talking about certainly making America energy independent is number one. Conservation, which no one else is talking about, and that I am beating my chest about is so important. There’s so much energy that is wasted in this country. Not just driving, but in our public buildings and homes, where you go into a movie theater in the summer and it’s freezing or the airports. There’s so many public places where we should not have government mandates, but certainly building owners and managers to take responsibility to really make it comfortable, and to set thermostats at a comfortable temperature. And personal responsibility, there’s so many light-timers that go all night. I grew up with parents who were children of the depression and World War II. So I couldn’t leave my room without turning the light off. And I think we need to instill those values. We got to stop releasing so much energy. That will be a big contribution toward keeping costs down.
Cquote1.svg I’m more like a Theodore Roosevelt, who took on a lot of corporations and was controversial at those acts he did Cquote2.svg
But the oil companies need, and I know there’s many factors in the high gas prices, but it’s no coincidence that ExxonMobil makes record profits when gas prices at the pump go up. You can parallel those two. I’ve taking on ExxonMobil. I’m not afraid to do that. I’m more like a Theodore Roosevelt, who took on a lot of corporations and was controversial at those acts he did, very different of course a hundred years ago, monopolies and things like that. But I have no problems with going after big oil, and fine companies that have made a trillion dollars of profit off of the consumers, who are struggling right now with of course the trickle effect of high gasoline prices [which] affects the entire economy, not just at the pump. So there’s a lot of ways. I’ve got some on my website, the issues tab. I talk about ways to bring this down. But those are two areas certainly where we need to pick it up: conservation and making America energy independent.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngThis is my last question. On your website you say that “Israel must be defended at all costs.” Does this apply to other nations as well, and if not, why should one nation be given preferential treatment over others?

Fred Karger: Well, Israel is our number one ally. Israel’s enemies are our enemies. We have Syria and Iran, and Palestinians for now, Hezbollah. We have a common way of government. We should defend them. They’re a smaller country that’s in a very unstable part of the world. Our mutual interests are at stake. But all of our great allies, most of which are stronger because they’ve been around longer, but when we have friends, just as we do in life, you look out for your friends and you defend your friends and help your friends out. And we have members all over the world and I think we need to always look out for those allies. Israel just happens to be in a more dangerous spot than Australia or Great Britain, or the other allies we have of like minded democracies around the world.



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April 4, 2012

On the campaign trail, March 2012

On the campaign trail, March 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, March 2012

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The following is the fifth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, a politician from outside the fifty states receives significant mention as a potential Republican Party vice presidential nominee, Wikinews gets the reaction of three Democratic Party candidates after the party strips delegates from two of their fellow challengers, and a minor third party removes its presidential nominee for fraud.

Summary

March 2012 opened with the unexpected death of citizen journalist Andrew Breitbart at the age of 43. Before he died, Breitbart had claimed to possess a video of President Barack Obama that would change the course of the election. The video, which was released shortly after Breitbart’s death, showed Obama as a law student at Harvard University speaking in favor of Derrick Bell, a controversial professor who had accused the American system of being racist. The video disappointed commentators such as Juan Williams, who expected a “smoking gun” from Breitbart.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney cemented his status as the Republican Party frontrunner with victories in Washington, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Wyoming, the US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Illinois, and six of the ten Super Tuesday states including Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, and Virginia. He also won the endorsements of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Despite the successes, the specter of a brokered convention remained as Romney failed to win enough delegates to secure the nomination.

President Barack Obama discusses alternative energy in March 2012.
Image: Daniel Borman.

Romney’s closest rival, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, won Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and three of the Super Tuesday states including North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. However, he suffered some missteps that cost his campaign: he called for English to be adopted as the official language in Puerto Rico as a condition of statehood, and later remarked that if Romney won the nomination and moved to the political center, “we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.” Santorum was alluding to comments from a Romney adviser that compared the campaign to an Etch A Sketch in that “[we] shake it up and we start all over again” for the general election. However, Santorum’s comments were interpreted as a suggestion that voters should favor the Democrat Obama over Romney, which Santorum later denied.

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul continued their campaigns for the GOP nomination. Paul finished second in Washington, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia, and won the popular vote, but not the majority of delegates, in the Virgin Islands. Gingrich focused his energies on the southern states. He won his home state of Georgia on Super Tuesday, and came in second place in Alabama and Mississippi. Most notably during March, Gingrich proclaimed he could reduce gas prices in the United States to $2.50 a gallon through increased oil drilling. President Obama used this statement to attack the GOP, arguing that they were playing political games. On energy, Obama called for further development of alternative fuels. Polls showed that high energy prices were negatively affecting his popularity.

Additionally, the Obama campaign attacked the GOP for the February comments of radio personality Rush Limbaugh that referred to Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and “prostitute” after she testified about contraceptive coverage before a congressional hearing. The campaign alleged that the GOP was waging a “war on women” for its opposition to the mandate that contraceptives be included on the insurance plans of organizations regardless of their religious views.

Foreign affairs and missile defense also became an election topic after an open-microphone during a forum in South Korea captured President Obama tell Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “[O]n all these issues, but particularly missile defense… This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev replied that he would “transmit this information to Vladimir [Putin]“. Romney criticized the comments, arguing “I think it’s very alarming for the President of the United States to suggest to Russia that he has a different agenda that he’s going to work out with the Russians after the elections”. He then labeled Russia as “without question, our number one geopolitical foe.” In response, Medvedev referenced the Cold War and advised the Romney campaign “to check their watches from time to time: it is 2012, not the mid-1970s.”

Might the GOP VP nominee come from Puerto Rico?

As Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney campaigned in Puerto Rico ahead of that territory’s March 18 Republican presidential primary, at his side was Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño. Fortuño had endorsed Romney for president, and has received mention as a potential vice presidential nominee. Commentators argue his presence on a ticket could draw Hispanic support to the GOP.

Fortuño was elected in 2008 as the first Republican governor in the territory since 1969. As governor, he sought government cuts and low corporate and individual tax rates in an attempt to improve economic conditions. Newsmax referred to his governorship as the “Puerto Rico Miracle” and labeled Fortuño a “Reaganite” whose “example should be followed in the United States”. Political analyst Larry Sabato proclaimed Fortuño “a godsend to the GOP”.

Luis Fortuño at a Florida CPAC event in September 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Significant talk about Fortuño and the vice presidency started last year. A Wall Street Journal editorial labeled Fortuño a “fine choice for Vice President” and GOP operative Roger Stone also endorsed the idea, saying the selection of Fortuño would “bring charisma, star power and excitement to the campaign.”

Such speculation heightened as the 2012 presidential race shifted to Puerto Rico in March. Fortuño campaigned with Romney, leading both CNN and Real Clear Politics to label him as a potential running mate. Fortuño did not comment much on the speculation, but preferred to discuss Romney, saying he believed that as president, Romney would push for Puerto Rican statehood. With Fortuño’s assistance, Romney was able to win the Puerto Rican contest with 83 percent of the vote. In his victory speech, Romney commented, “I intend to become our nominee and I intend to get Latino voters to vote for a Republican.” According to Fortuño himself, one way to accomplish this would be to select an Hispanic as a running mate.

Political consultant Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research agrees. He tells Wikinews, “I don’t think there’s any one silver bullet that will bring a majority Hispanic voters to the Republican side, but I think the selection of Governor Fortuno would help, particularly among Puerto Rican voters living on the mainland.” According to a Fox News poll from March, Romney receives only 14 percent of the Hispanic vote in a matchup with President Obama, and Judy says that Puerto Ricans vote Democratic at an even higher rate than other Hispanic nationalities. He explains, “a Puerto Rican on the ticket would at least cause them to take a closer look at the GOP candidate.”

However, Judy warns that Fortuño’s eligibility may be questioned since Puerto Rico is not a state. Because of this, he says more attention is given to other Hispanic GOP politicians such as Nevada governor Brian Sandoval, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez and Senator Marco Rubio. Nevertheless, Sandoval is pro-choice on abortion, Martinez may conjure memories of 2008 VP nominee Sarah Palin, and Rubio is Cuban American, a group that largely already supports the GOP.

Constitutional scholar Dr. Ronald Rotunda of Chapman University tells Wikinews that eligibility might not be a concern after all. “In 1917, Congress provided, by statute that people born in Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States” says Rotunda, “while we have no case directly on point, it is probable that a person born in Puerto Rico is eligible to become President or Vice President.”

Democratic Party strips delegates

In the Oklahoma presidential primary, President Obama won the counties above in black while Randall Terry won the counties in gold and Jim Rogers won the counties in red.
Image: William S. Saturn.

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry qualified for delegates in Oklahoma after winning 18 percent of the vote in the state’s Democratic primary against President Obama on Super Tuesday. However, the Democratic Party has decided to remove the delegates from Terry because of his failure to file a delegate slate and for not being a bona fide Democratic presidential candidate. Former U.S. Senate nominee Jim Rogers, who also qualified for delegates in the primary after winning over 15 percent in some congressional districts, was similarly stripped for failing to file.

In a letter to Terry, the Oklahoma Democratic Party detailed its decision, describing a bona fide presidential candidate as a “Democrat whose record of public service, accomplishment, public writings and/or public statements affirmatively demonstrates that he or she is faithful to the interests, welfare, and success of the Democratic Party of the United States and will participate in the Convention in good faith.” It concludes that Terry did not fit this description because he was recently a member of the Republican Party.

At the March 24 Louisiana Primary, attorney John Wolfe, Jr. qualified for delegates after receiving over 15 percent in some congressional districts of the state. It is not known at this time whether these delegates will be seated at the Democratic National Convention in August, or if he will be subject to the same decision as Terry and Rogers.

Wikinews contacted Wolfe and fellow Democratic Party candidates Bob Ely and Darcy Richardson to ask whether they were concerned the Democratic Party leadership would strip delegates from them if they qualified, and award them to President Obama. All three candidates appeared on the Louisiana primary ballot and will appear with Obama on the Texas ballot in May. Only Ely and Richardson appeared with Obama, Terry, and Rogers on the Oklahoma ballot.

  • John Wolfe, Jr.: “The rules are the rules, and like it or not, the delegates are mine. I am an attorney well schooled in many Constitutional Law issues and will make sure that the right thing is done. But, I expect that they will do the right thing and let me have the delegates I have earned. I understand that the good folks at the top of the Louisiana party were surprised at the insurgency ( what with a number of Cajuns howlin’ for the Bayou Wolf), but even when there is an overwhelming incumbent in the Presidency, the duty of party officials is to remain neutral and enforce the wishes that the Democratic Primary voters have expressed through the ballot box. Anything else would be a travesty of justice, especially considering the incumbent’s huge advantage in every respect.”
  • Bob Ely: “The system is stacked against interlopers. For example, the only thing on which there is complete agreement amongst both parties is that there is no need for a serious third party. So, concerned? Yes. Surprised? Not at all. Indeed, I would be surprised if Randall Terry were surprised.”
  • Darcy Richardson: “I’m not too worried about it. In the unlikely event that I win any delegates in the remaining Democratic primaries, my campaign — unlike those of single-issue interloper Randall Terry and the grossly incompetent Jim Rogers of Oklahoma — would file the necessary qualifying paperwork for my delegates within the time prescribed by party rules or statute. There’s no reason either of them shouldn’t have submitted the appropriate district delegate paperwork by Oklahoma’s March 15th deadline. I have no reason to believe that I wouldn’t be treated fairly by the Democratic Party. Moreover, I wholeheartedly agree with the DNC’s contention that Randall Terry, a lifelong Republican, isn’t a “bona-fide” candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s an embryo-obsessing publicity seeker and showboat who has publicly stated on more than one occasion that he intends to run as an independent candidate in several battleground states this autumn with the sole purpose of trying to siphon enough traditionally Democratic Catholic votes from President Obama to throw those states to whichever one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse happens to win the Republican nomination. From Mitt Romney, a pump-and-dump takeover financier to Ron Paul’s failed Austrian economics and his call for a trillion dollars in spending cuts in the first year of his administration, it’s a scary lot…each determined to impose draconian austerity measures on the 99% while securing even greater tax cuts for those at the top.”


Party removes presidential nominee

The membership of the Boston Tea Party (BTP) removed Tiffany Briscoe as the party’s presidential nominee after it was discovered that she misrepresented herself as a graduate and member of the Board of Trustees of Howard Community College. Briscoe is actually just a student at the school.

Following her nomination, Briscoe spoke with Wikinews and said she would “probably be able to appear on [the ballots of] 14 to 15 states throughout the country”. After the removal, she has not responded to inquiries about the future of her campaign. Wikinews was able to contact parliamentary activist and Libertarian Party (LP) presidential candidate James Ogle, who is listed as Briscoe’s running mate on her website. As reported last month, Ogle won a majority of the votes over uncommitted at the Missouri Libertarian presidential primary. He says he is in the process of securing a spot for himself and Briscoe as a write-in ticket on the Texas general election ballot. Ogle also plans to be the running mate for five other women candidates including comedienne Roseanne Barr of the Green Party.

As for the BTP, a new nominee is expected to be announced shortly. Chairman Darryl Perry says the party may be approaching “the brink of death” but he remains optimistic. Though he makes no firm predictions about ballot access, Perry expects “voters in more than a dozen States” to be able to vote for the BTP nominee, including through write-in eligibility. He argues that the BTP can move beyond the setback and become a major third party if members increase their activity and “the LP allows itself to be taken over by those who would redefine ‘libertarian’.”

The BTP was founded in 2006 as an alternative to the LP. According to its platform, it “supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.” In 2008, the party nominated boxing manager Charles Jay, who appeared on three state ballots and won a total of 2,422 votes.


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April 4, 2010

Earthquakes hit Dominican Republic, Ryukyu Islands and Tonga

Earthquakes hit Dominican Republic, Ryukyu Islands and Tonga

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Dominican Republic earthquake location.
Image: USGS.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

USGS reported that an earthquake struck the Dominican Republic region with a magnitude of 8.0. It was registered on last Friday at 01:38:55 a.m. (05:38:55 UTC) at the epicenter, which was located 102 km from Higüey, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic. However, it was later reported as a magnitude 3.4 earthquake by the Puerto Rico Seismic Network. The report caught the attention of the news media until the USGS reported it was 3.2.

The depth of the aftershock was located 89.8 km (55.8 mi), and no damage or injuries were reported. It has been reported as a Haiti aftershock.

The Haiti earthquake reached magnitude 7.0 Mw, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, almost 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. More than 100 aftershocks have been registered since that earthquake. The United Nations reported that the earthquake has caused more than 225,000 deaths, a number which is expected to rise.

Another earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit the Kermadec Islands region. The epicenter was located 1,138 kilometers from Nuku’alofa, Tonga and had a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It took place at 13:35:34 (01:35:34 UTC) at the epicenter. No tsunami warnings have been issued by NOAA for this earthquake.

A Japan earthquake took place in the Ryukyu Islands at 11:19:58 at epicenter (02:19:58 UTC). It reached a magnitude of 5.1, had a depth of 35 kilometers and the epicenter was located 80 kilometers from Naha, Okinawa.



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August 17, 2009

Hurricane Bill gains strength over Atlantic, moves toward Bermuda

Filed under: Bermuda,Puerto Rico,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hurricane Bill, the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic storm season, recently formed over the ocean.

The storm is expected to gain strength over the next few days, with maximum wind speeds reaching 90 miles per hour, and sustained winds up to 75 mph. Bill is expected to reach the third category on the Safif-Simpson hurricane intensity scale.

As of 11.00 EDT, Bill was centered approximately 1,080 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, heading east-northeast at about 16 miles per hour. Forecasts suggest the storm may pass northeast of Puerto Rico and advance toward Bermuda.

US National Hurricane Center specialist Daniel Brown said that “we do believe [the storm] could become a major hurricane during the next couple of days.”

Bill may also impact the U.S. East Coast by next weekend. All interests potentially in the path of the storm are advised to track its progress over coming days.


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