Tags Posts tagged with "Wade"


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Photo Courtesy of Cafepress

Jessica Wade

At the time this article is written massive protests are taking place in Venezuela that so far have resulted in the death of at least two people, Russian bombers are nearing Alaska, tensions are growing in the North Korea, hundreds of Syrians are attempting to evacuate their country and the UK Parliament is calling for a snap election. The reason I know all of this is going on in the world is the same reason I can write this article—freedom of the press.

Those who report the news are finding it a bit more difficult to do so under Donald Trump’s presidency, however, Trump is not the inventor of bad relations with the press.

More quietly, President Obama’s press operation attempted to block Fox News reporters from interviews, attempted to block certain officials from speaking to journalists and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined.

This disdain for the press didn’t move into the White House with the Trump administration, it has been developing for some time. However, the frequency and volume at which Trump discredits the press is unique. Past presidents have at least pretended to support the first amendment when it pertains to a free media.

During his first day in office, Trump called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.” Since then, he has labeled legitimate reporting as “fake news” and has blocked multiples news organizations from attending his press briefings.

All of this comes at a time when polls find the public’s trust in the media is at an all-time low. To some, news organizations are too liberal, too conservative or don’t report on events that actually matter.

In reality, some of these opinions are justified. Many big media companies failed to see the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, and liberal companies such as CNN report news very differently than the more conservative Fox News, and both get things wrong occasionally.

Journalists make mistakes, that’s the reality of free press. But there is another reality to also consider.

Forty-eight journalists were killed in 2016. Within the past month, a crime reporter was shot and killed in Mexico City, a Somaliland journalist has been detained, multiple journalists are jailed for covering protests in Russia, a Nigerian blogger and his family are be-ing threatened after publishing news critical of their government and a Syrian journalist was killed by an airstrike March 13.

The information news organizations provide to many United States citizens who occasionally complain about said news organizations, is information many citizens of many other countries don’t have access too. The free press of this country is something journalists all around the world fight for, are jailed for, beat-en for, threatened for and die for.

It’s a common statement—a free press is nec-essary for a healthy democracy. A free press also needs democracy, there can’t be one without the other.

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Photo Courtesy of Times

Jessica Wade

Many people have grown numb to the now 6-year war in Syria. The world tuned back into the country’s conflict April 4 after deadly chemical weapons were used to attack Syrian rebels and civilians in Syria’s Idlib province. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 70 people were killed and hundreds more injured, many of them children.

Photos and videos of men, women and children who lay choking and gasping for air after breathing in what is believed to be a nerve agent echoed the tragedy of chemical warfare that has taken the lives of 14,000 Syrians within the last 6 years, only adding to the devastation of Syria’s war.

According to Mercy Corps, 11 million people have been killed or displaced by Syria’s civil war and medical care is becoming increasingly rare as extremists’ groups, Russian bombers and Assad-backed forces target hospitals.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria is illegal, inhumane and has been occurring for the past three years. The United Nations found proof of such an occurrence between 2014 and 2015, when the Syrian air force dropped chlorine on civilians.

The April 4 attack was met with outrage internationally, including from President Donald Trump and the UN security council, both placing blame on Russian-backed fighters for Syrian President Bashar alAssad. Russia’s claim that the attack was carried out by rebel fighters has been met with skepticism.

Trump didn’t just blame Russia for the attack, but the past Obama Administration as well, claiming the assault was a “consequence of the past administration’s weakness.”

Trump is correct in saying the Obama administration failed to fulfill their promise to actively combat the use of chemical weapons. The former administration made promises they had very few resources to keep, and unfortunately, like much of the international community, the United States did little to aid victims of the conflict.

In September 2013, Trump tweeted his opposition to intervening in Syria.

“What I am saying is stay out of Syria,” Trump said. “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix USA.”

The statement he released April 5 seemed to have a bit more support for intervention in Syria.

“Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Trump said. “The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.”

Trump has condemned the attack, now it’s time for him to take action in whatever form that may be. The Trump administration has expressed the potential dangers of directly attacking the Assad regime and rolling the dice on who might end up in power, but as long as the regime remains attacks such as the one on April 5 will contin-ue.

The international community has chosen to look the other way while millions of civilians are caught up in a devastating, multifront war. If leaders choose not to react, the humanitarian devastation of chemical warfare will only grow more prevalent.

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Jessica Wade

Last Wednesday, in honor of International Women’s Day and inspired by the recent “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration, women across the nation participated in “A Day Without a Women.”

The plan for “A Day Without a Woman” was for women to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor, avoid shopping for one day and to wear red in solidarity. The goal, according to the organizers’ website was for women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.”

The goal of this demonstration was well-intended, unfortunately the outcome was divisive rather than unifying. Instead of uniting women, it separated them into categories of the privileged and those who could not afford to take a day off.

There are women who work minimum wage jobs to support themselves and their families and there are organizations, the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County located in New York, who simply can’t afford to close down for a day. The Advocacy Center is the only center in the area that provides domestic and sexual violence services to women.

“Our 20 staff will not strike,” the center’s executive director Heather Campbell told the Ithaca Voice. “Not because we don’t collectively support the issues that the strike represents, but because we know all too well what it means for a survivor of domestic or sexual violence to not receive the support and care that they deserve.”

The strike was not well thought out, but that’s not to say the problems facing women aren’t protest-worthy. On the contrary, in this new age of continual attacks on Planned Parenthood and very few women in the Trump administration, women and minorities should continue to stand up and protect their rights.

However, we are stronger when we stand in unity.

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Jessica Wade

Nineteen-year-old Madeline Miller says she’s always had trouble with pain in her feet, but when she was 16 years old, the pain spread to her wrists and knees—symptoms of an incurable, debilitating illness.

“I had just been sick for a while, I remember driving home from work and turning the heater on full blast in my car and holding my wrist to it,” Miller said.

Miller’s mother, Melanie, says she knew something was wrong when Miller had trouble putting on her shoes and buttoning her jeans.

“We took her to a hand specialist who treated her for three months, then Madeline said her knees felt hollow and weird, the hand specialist sent us to our pediatrician who sent us to the rheumatologist,” Melanie said.

Pediatric rheumatologist Dr. Emilina Lim diagnosed Miller with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), which according to the Arthritis Foundation website, is the most common form of arthritis, affecting roughly 300,000 children in the United States.

Miller says she received this diagnosis on Aug. 14, 2014, the day before the start of her senior year of high school. Unfortunately, while Miller does have a form of JIA, her complete diagnosis wouldn’t come until much later.

Miller graduated high school an honors students and was awarded three scholarships to the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

As a freshman at UNK, Miller received steroid injections and “felt really good up to November” when the pain began creeping back into her knees. Miller says the pain was manageable, but then she contracted strep throat.

A moderately painful, but not uncommon nor untreatable illness, the strep jolted Miller’s immune system, which, in an attempt to fight off the bacteria, aggressively attacked her joints.

“I failed all my classes that semester because I couldn’t walk,” Miller said. “I got really depressed, lost around 30 pounds within two months. The one time I actually went to class, I threw up three times on the way there because I hadn’t eaten anything except my medications.”

The flare caused by the strep not only hurt Miller’s second semester.

“The flare did a lot of lasting damage,” Miller says. “I need a new shoulder and a new jaw, a lot of the pain I have right now is damage from that flare.”

Miller says that it was because of this arthritic flare that she had to leave UNK and move back home, but it was also this flare that led to her true diagnosis.

Late summer of 2016, Dr. Adam Reinhardt of Children’s Hospital and Medical Center discovered that Miller has Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, a condition ailing only 10 percent of children with JIA. Systemic JIA, according to the Arthritis Foundation website, “causes inflammation in one or more joints and is often accompanied by a high spiking fever (103°F or higher) that lasts at least 2 weeks and a skin rash.” It can also cause inflammation around the heart and lungs.

The costs of Miller’s illness are massive, both literally and figuratively. “Some of her shots cost the insurance company $4000 monthly, some cost $10,000 monthly,” Melanie said. “Currently her infusions cost the insurance company $22,000 every other week. We have really good insurance so we don’t have to pay much out of pocket, but Madeline cost the insurance company about $450,000 last year.”

Melanie said the emotional cost is high as well, and having a sick child being treated with medications that don’t seem to work is stressful.

“Be grateful for the ‘little’ problems your kids have,” Miller says. “When your child gets diagnosed with a serious disease it makes everything else seem unimportant. Be nice to people, you have no idea of the pain they are living through.”

Miller said she didn’t realize how close she and her mom were until she got sick.

“I spend a lot more time with my mom,” Miller says. “She cries at all my doctor’s appointments, which is annoying because I’m a sympathetic crier.”

Even with the infusions, injections and oral medications, Miller will never be completely cured of Systemic JIA.

“It will never be 100 percent gone, remission is possible but rare,” Miller says.

Miller plans to enroll in summer classes at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She has some advice for people who may not be familiar with her illness:

“We aren’t lazy, we aren’t faking it, we do need that handicap tag and just because we’re young doesn’t mean we’re not disabled.”

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Photo Courtesy of Creighton Blogs

Jessica Wade

Jan. 26, with the hope that sharing her story would ignite a call for change in a system that failed her, Creighton senior Cassie Weck published a blog post titled “I Am a Lover…but I’m also a fighter.”

In this post, Weck described the night she was sexually assaulted by a man she’s known since her freshman year of college and the disastrous way in which Creighton University chose to handle her case.

“I had a choice to fight against the system I had so little faith in, and I decided to report, hesitant as ever,” Weck wrote in her blog post. “I know how these things go.”

Rather than reporting the incident to the police, Weck said the university had assured her they could handle the case internally, so she “decided to have a little bit of faith in the school.”

After weeks of meetings with the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), the perpetrator was found not responsible for the attack. Disheartened and discouraged, Weck didn’t give up.

“I did hours and hours of research within the five days in which I had to write the appeal, and I wrote a carefully crafted seven-page, single spaced appeal to the interim provost, Dr. Tom Murray,” Weck said.

Murray responded with a two-page letter denying Weck’s appeal.As of the publication date of this article, Murray has been unavailable for comment.

“I appreciate the work you put into this appeal and thank you for giving me the opportunity to review this case,” Murray wrote in the letter. “While I know this is not the outcome you hoped for, I wish you all the best for a productive and peaceful Spring Semester.”

With the man who allegedly raped her living on Creighton’s campus, the idea of a “peaceful Spring Semester” is unlikely for Weck.Weck did something many victims of sexual assault choose not to do, she reported the incident, and in response the university not only failed to acknowledge the assault happened, but punished her for breaking Creighton’s opposite gender visitation policy.

“I received a letter in my file of employment on campus,” Weck wrote. “What did he get? Nothing. He has resigned and still has a glowing file as an RA.”

Jessi Hitchins, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) director at UNO said that 86 percent of people who are sexually assaulted know their attacker, which can lead to victims being less likely to report an incident.

Hitchins also wants students to know their resources, and to be aware that the GSRC is respectful and confidential.

“Title IX is about making the campus safe, they do a very good job and are very nice when working with people, but it’s a different system focused on how the incident impacts the campus,” Hitchins said. “Whereas the GSR focuses on the healing process for that victim.”

Weck’s case has brought to light the broken system in which sexual assault cases are sometimes handled on college campuses. Hopefully, Weck’s brave choice to speak out combined with the dedication of people like Hitchins to help and protect victims of sexual assault will inspire a change in policy.

In the meantime, Weck has some advice for students who may go through a similar experience: “If it occurred at Creighton, do not report through the VIP Center or OEI. Go to the police.”

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Cassie Wade

Thirteen University of Nebraska at Omaha students loaded up in minivans and traveled to Chicago for the 2017 Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) held Feb. 17 – 19.

MBLTGACC is the largest LGBT college conference in the nation, according to Jessi Hitchins, Director of UNO’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.

“I would actually go as far as to say I think it’s the most radical LGBT college conference that there is,” Hitchins said. “I think even the professional organization doesn’t hold a candle to this conference.”

The trip was funded by Queer and Trans Services (QTS) through student government. Students not associated with QTS had to pay for the trip themselves.

While attending MBLTGACC, students had the opportunity to listen to speakers who’ve gone through similar experiences and fought to make positive changes, including Jennicet Gutiérrez who spoke out about the deportation of Trans Latina women at an Obama press conference.

“She did this, and this was at the big time when marriage equality came out, and she was silenced by the Obama administration,” Hitchins said. “This is someone who not even in our current political climate but was pushing against the Obama administration to really do better towards Trans folks.”

Besides hearing speakers who have gone through similar experiences, Hitchins said MBLGTACC also enables students to connect with more than 2,300 others who share their identity.

“To be around people physically that identify the way that you do, is so powerful,” Hitchins said. “It allows people to be their full authentic self without apology where they might have to be in
the closet the rest of the whole entire year whereas this weekend is really about living their life full and authentically.”

MBLGTACC is held specifically for students living in the Midwest, which Hitchins said leads to participating students having more common experiences. “It’s not from large, metropolitan areas; it is from smaller communities across the Midwest, so people understand that experience as well,” Hitchins said. “There’s a lot of intersections in that regard.”

The MBLTGACC 2018 conference will be held at UNO. Hitchins said the theme will be All Roads Lead to Intersectionality.

“Really addressing disability, race, religion, gender, sexuality, age, weight, all those things that go into our identities that we need to think about intersectionaly, not just that one thing at a particular moment,” Hitchins said.

Hitchins said UNO plans to be more mindful of accessibility when hosting the conference.

“The accessibility at the 2017 conference was not strong,” Hitchins said. “There was a lot of
people within the conference who had mental health needs as well as accessibility needs, mobility needs. We need to be conscience of those things.”

Speakers and programs will be held during UNO’s conference in order to make sure accessibility
needs are properly addressed.

Three UNO student co-chairs, Matthew Dooley, Irene Zaiter and Peyton Wells will work on different components of the 2018 conference to ensure its success.

Wells is a second-year student and secondary education major with an emphasis in English language arts. Wells is specifically working on the support and sponsorship component for the 2018 conference and is the chair of off campus accommodations.

Wells said UNO had to bid for the chance to host the 2018 conference at the conference held at Purdue in 2016. To Wells, the fact that UNO won the bid is a sign “UNO is stepping up its game in inclusion and diversity.”

“By hosting this conference, I think it sends a very loud message to UNO students and everyone in the Omaha community,” Wells said. “We not only are ready for this conference to be here, but that we’re excited and accepting of the folks we’re going to bring in.”

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Photo Courtesy of Q13 Fox News

Jessica Wade

Guadalupe García de Rayos was 14 years old when she left an impoverished city in Mexico and illegally crossed the border into Arizona. After 21 years of living in the United States, Rayos was arrested and, despite the efforts of her husband and two children, she was deported.

Rayos had complied with the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for eight years, checking in annually since she was caught using a fake Social Security number in order to work.

Attempting to build a life in a country that routinely turns its back on immigrants is not a new challenge for people like Rayos, but President Donald Trump has figuratively, and soon literally, built a wall around the opportunities the United States has to offer.

One of Trump’s many executive orders calls for any immigrant who has been convicted of or believed to have committed a crime to be a priority for deportation.

“There are many people who don’t have criminal records who will be caught up in this and will be deported, but who have no options to stay and no way to fight deportation,” said professor and immigration attorney Kristin Fearnow.

“The best advice I can give anyone is that they should go speak with an attorney, they should have a competent evaluation of their case and they should see what options they have right now.”

Trump’s stance on immigration has been clear from the very beginning, and it’s safe as well as terrifying to assume that as his immigration policies are implemented they will only wreak more havoc.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said during his campaign. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Rayos brought none of those things with her when she crossed the border as a teenager, instead she brought hope and the resilience needed to build a family and a better life.

Fearnow said that now is the time for students to become involved.

“Be informed, get involved, do something to push the cause forward,” Fearnow said. “These things happen in the shadows and when there’s community activists shining the light on what’s going on they can sometimes slow things down, they can stop things, it can make others in the community who weren’t even aware stand up and take notice and jump in to help.”

By deporting a woman who for years has done everything asked of her, Trump is setting a precedent for how the next four years will look. Building a wall through the border will not be nearly as devastating as building a wall through families.

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Jessica Wade

The executive orders signed by President Donald Trump have many people worried, and for good reason. Families are separated, refugees turned away, progress made by activists protesting the DAPL and Keystone XL pipelines set back, and although he put a freeze on federal hiring, 10,000 additional ICE officers will still be added to federal payroll.

Many of the numerous actions Trump has taken are cause for concern, but are not surprising. He is fulfilling promises made during his campaign, promises that kept the majority of U.S. citizens from voting for him and promises that marginalize many people— particularly immigrants.

There’s one aspect of Trump’s orders that may have been lost behind the wall and the victims of foreign wars who have become victims of Trump’s policies. Buried in an executive order meant to secure the country’s interior is the formation of the Office for Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens.

The function of this office would be to report quarterly, “studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.” For a president who claims federal funding of the National Endowment for the Arts NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a waste of money, Trump has some pricey ideas for reforming immigration policies.

Another aspect of the order concerns sanctuary cities, or cities that refuse to report or hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. The order calls for a weekly report of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants to be made public in order to “better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Trump’s “immigration list” is an attempt to sway public opinion towards the unrealistic belief that immigrants are dangerous criminals. Multiple studies have found that immigrants are less likely than native-born U.S. citizens to commit crimes. A study conducted by the Center for American Progress even found that sanctuary cities have lower crime rates and more productive economies compared to non-sanctuary areas.

An extremely conservative stance on immigration was prevalent since the beginning of Trump’s campaign. He would mention the names of victims of crimes committed by immigrants, and tell their stories to the nation. Despite what many Trump supporters may believe, a list won’t bring the victims’ families justice, but it will target an already marginalized group.

Trump claims the measures, “ensure the safety and territorial integrity of the United States,” and “[illegal immigrants] present a significant threat to national security and public safety.”

In a nation divided by so many things, Trump himself is a threat to national security. The unfortunate short-sightedness of a man whose mother was an immigrant has the potential to hurt the millions of people who have the audacity to reach for the American dream.