A silent protest with a loud message

Dallas Cowboys team and owner lock arms in moment of silent protest on Monday September 25. Photo from ESPN.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick drew nationwide attention for not standing during the national anthem before games. His silent protest was against the oppression of people of color in light of events of police brutality. This form of protest has gained more attention since Sunday, when more players were shown with arms linked, kneeling on the field, sparking a debate over what the players are protesting and whether they should be able to protest at all.

On Monday September 25, the Dallas Cowboys team and its owner, Jerry Jones, linked arms and knelt on the field before the national anthem was played amidst jeers from the crowded arena. Jason Garret, Dallas Cowboys head coach, said in an interview with NFL Total Access they chose that moment to demonstrate for a reason.

“The biggest thing for us was to show support and to demonstrate, but do it in a way that didn’t involve the American flag and the national anthem, and everybody was behind that,” said Garret.

“The reason that I’m particularly proud of this team and the coaches that coached them, is because we all agreed that our players wanted to make a statement about unity and we wanted to make a statement about equality,” said Jerry Jones.

Jones is not the only owner to kneel with his team. Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons and Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins also kneeled with their teams. Donald Trump has spoken out against the NFL, urging for a rule that forces the players to stand for the anthem and sees kneeling as a sign of disrespect on the United States rather than a silent protest for social equality. He shared his opinion through a series of tweets.

Many Americans agreed with his statements. Taya Kyle, widow of ‘American Sniper’, Chris Kyle, shared her thoughts about the issue in a letter to the NFL on Facebook. In the letter, she claims the NFL’s job was to “bring people together and heal the world” and feels that their recent protests go against that.

“You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division,” Kyle said.

Not all Americans feel the same way as President Trump and Taya Kyle.

Olivia Okoye, freshman, also supports the players kneeling. “It’s their right to kneel. If they feel that they should do it, it’s their right.”

“I think they are standing as a team no matter what race they are because it affects all races. There are all races in the NFL,” said Arlena Lightsey, freshman.

Zane Watson, freshman, was on the fence about the issue.

“It’s their right as human beings to represent their opinions, but those opinions can reflect badly on the organization,” he said.

Officers At Sea

Richardson Rutter-Reese

The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the five armed branches in America. The Coast Guard is unique in that it falls under the Department of Homeland Security, while the other four branches fall under the guidance of the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard was the first armed force created by the United States as a nation, then known as the Revenue Cutter Service. The job of the service was to deter smugglers and to ensure that taxes were being paid by sea-going merchants. Over the centuries other agencies and duties have been created and absorbed, including the Life-saving service, the lighthouse service, the ice breaking service, the aids to navigation service, the radio service, the humanitarian service, the intelligence service, the law enforcement service, and the immigrations service. All these services and more have been combined to form the multi-directed mission that the modern U.S. Coast Guard performs today.

From a historical perspective, the Coast Guard has been involved in every American conflict, notably Vietnam, World War II, and the War on Terror. During World War II the Coast Guard performed minesweeping operations, operated watercraft during beach landings, collected intelligence, kept traveling routes clear of ice, and performed anti submarine operations. It was a during a beach rescue operation that Signalman First Class Douglas Munro was killed after volunteering to make multiple trips to get all the Marines off the island, including a Marine who would become General Chesty Puller. He was shot on the way back to the ship after making the last trip. He remains the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor.  During the Vietnam War the Coast Guard patrolled the shoreline ensuring the Vietcong would be cut off from supplies and reinforcements. They would also transport troops.

The Coast Guard is the only military branch authorized to perform law enforcement action. This is becuse it falls under the Department of Homeland Security. A Coast Guard vessel may at any time inspect, board, or question any vessel in U.S. waters or our Allies’ waters. There are no rights to privacy on the water as on land. All petty officers in the Coast Guard are federal law enforcement officers, and able to carry subpoenas, detain suspicious individuals, and make arrests. Due to the dual military and law enforcement nature of members in the Coast Guard, there is confusion on how far the rights of a petty officer go. Technically, as federal law enforcement officers, petty officers can carry weapons across the fifty states.  Some state police disagree with this and will still arrest members carrying weapons. This is still an ongoing issue in the courts.

On the topic of members of the Coast Guard, it has consistently been the smallest service since its creation. At the height of its force, the New York Police Department outnumbered the active duty members of the Coast Guard. It has always been a service that prides itself on doing more with less. It receives the lowest budget out of the five services, it has one of the oldest fleets in the world, and consistently uses older technology from the Navy. Many swathes of water go unguarded due to their not being enough funds to patrol all the areas of the coastline.

Even with these problems, people are not deterred from the Coast Guard. It is the most competitive branch to enlist into. The reenlistment rate is above 90%, the only service to have this claim. The Coast Guard administration had to create programs to phase non-performing members out to create space for other sailors to advance. Through the ages, members of the Coast Guard stay with their service. The Coast Guard is a unique service in America, and although its numbers are small, it provides a large impact for the safety and protection of the American people.

The Crisis in Flint…Coincidence or Environmental Racism?

Anthony Hamilton

By now we are all aware of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. There are an unacceptable amount of people in the city who are living below the poverty level and also over 60% of them happen to be African Americans. Whole families have been poisoned by drinking water that was never fit to drink, yet they’ve been fed this water for a period of time, and now there are many health problems beginning to show up because of this.

This story is actually not as new as one might think. It was first broken in 2014 that there was potential contamination in Flint’s water system. Al Jazeera America was first to break the story. The story was then largely ignored until recently when Flint became news again with residents showing the news samples of the brown water they are expected to drink, cook and bathe with, and it doesn’t appear to be fit for any type of human consumption.

The homes of Flint residents have been tested and their homes show there are 10 times the amount of lead that is considered the norm. As a result of this, members of the community who would wish to leave will not be able to sell their homes in any move, because it’s illegal to sell a home that has lead issues.

In all of this, it’s amazing that the Governor of Michigan isn’t indeed facing criminal charges over this situation. According to an article in archive.freep.com, Michigan has a 500 plus million dollar surplus, as well as a rainy day fund, yet the governor has said that removing the lead containing pipes is not even a priority to him. There is also strong evidence that he knew about the contamination as early as 2014 when he began shipping cases of bottled water to state employees but not everyday citizens.

When the first attempts to gather clean water for the residents of Flint, an amazing thing happened. Cher revealed, during an interview on CNN that she attempted to gather water for the citizens of Flint, and no American bottled water company was willing to donate any water to the poverty stricken, predominantly black community of Flint. Cher had to go outside of the United States to get water for them.

The Michigan National Guard was called in to distribute the water, but they declined taking it to the so-called worst areas of Flint, saying it would be too dangerous. This from people we would count on to help protect the U.S. during times of war.

The Flint police have also been using this situation to their advantage. According to articles on Bing.com/news and Trofire.com, under the guise of delivering water filters to the residents, they are in fact taking advantage of the opportunity to arrest those residents who have warrants. As an ex-law enforcement person, I do not agree with their actions at all.

According to westsidegazette.com as well as newpittsburgcourier.com, this disaster has indeed been labeled as a man-made disaster caused by the emergency manager that the state installed, in a cost-cutting measure that went horrible wrong, which again leads me to wonder why they are focused strictly on the emergency manager when he is simply a scapegoat meant to do the governor’s bidding.

When the change was made from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in 2014, the residents immediately began to complain about the smell and taste of their tap water, but they were largely ignored according to nytimes.com. Now they can no longer be ignored because they’re too black or too poor to have a voice. The entire world is now aware of what has been done.

Judge Greg Mathis, in an interview with journalist Roland Martin on Newsone Now likened this ordeal to a terrorist attack. “Every day, our homeland security’s biggest fear is terrorists poisoning the water,” Mathis said. “The Secretary of Defense talks nervously about it.” Mathis continues, “In this case, the government has poisoned the water, causing permanent loss of health.”

Mathis also speaks on the possibility of criminal charges in what he calls the poisoning of an American city.

Now there are children experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning, including headaches, anemia, dental problems and their internal organs not functioning properly. Adults are experiencing hair loss, skin disorders, and seizures as well as weakening of teeth and bones along with many potentially fatal cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

This whole situation is remarkably similar to the response to hurricane Katrina where the upscale areas of New Orleans immediately received aid, but those who, like the majority of Flint residents were poor, and less fortunate were left to fend for themselves and die. The same can be said for the residents of Flint.

I read an article on www.mlive.com about the General Motors plant in Flint having ceased using it for fear that it will corrode the metal, yet residents are expected to drink, cook and bathe in that water, and continue to receive water bills for water they can’t use.

I wonder how long this would have been allowed to go on and how quick it would be fixed were Flint an upscale community. Here’s to the hope that they receive justice, and those who perpetrated this tragedy upon the get what they deserve.

Pelicans Beat Cavaliers in Thriller

Percy Davis

December 4, 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the New Orleans Pelicans. This game was a battle to the finish, going into overtime to decide who would win the game.

Cleveland led the first quarter 27-21 but Anthony Davis and the Pelicans weren’t going away quietly. They ended the half only down by one point at 53-52.

Late in the fourth quarter the Pelicans went up by 10 points on the Cavaliers but superstar LeBron James wasn’t going down without a fight. He scored 21 of Cleveland’s last 24 points and also made the shot to put his team into overtime. James finished with 37 points, eight assist and 23 of those 37 points came in the fourth quarter.

Although James had an amazing fourth quarter it wasn’t quite enough to stop Anthony Davis and The Pelicans who won the game 114-108 in overtime.

Lebron James goes at Anthony Davis for a layup. Photo credited to (AP Photo)

Lebron James goes at Anthony Davis for a layup. Photo credited to (AP Photo)

New Orleans Pelican Anthony Davis had a wonderful night finishing the game with 31 points and 12 rebounds. He also had some game changing big shots to lead his team to the victory over Cleveland.

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Laney Davis

Most people in December are dreaming of a beautiful Christmas tree, presents filling up the house, and the smell of pies and cakes coming out of the oven. This may seem familiar to you. As for cowboys and cowgirls in December, they dream of something a little different. Cowboys and cowgirls dream of Vegas lights, gold buckles, and the smell of arena dirt.

Starting December 3 through December 12, there will be 10 rodeo performances in Las Vegas, Nevada. This grand rodeo is called the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association holds over 600 rodeos throughout the year, and only the top 15 competitors in each event at the end of the rodeo season can qualify for the WNFR. The PRCA has been producing rodeos since the 1920’s making it the oldest rodeo association. The PRCA is also the largest rodeo association.

At the WNFR there will be 8 events: Bareback Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Bull Riding, Tie-down Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, and the crowning of Miss Rodeo America. The cowboys and cowgirls competing come into the competition ranked first to fifteenth by their money earnings from this year. As they compete each night they have the opportunity to earn more money placing them higher in the rankings.

The cowboy and cowgirls can earn many titles at the WNFR. Each night they have to opportunity to win the round with either the fastest time or the highest score. They can also win the “average” and a gold buckle at the end of the 10 day rodeo stretch by having the best cumulative scores or times. They can also win the biggest title of all, World Champion, by earning the most money throughout the whole rodeo season including the money that they won at the WNFR.

There are many ways to be a part of the impressive rodeo. Much like professional football or baseball there are fantasy leagues you can compete in. You can also go to Las Vegas and enjoy the rodeo live and meet the professional cowboys and cowgirls. Lastly, you can watch from the comfort of your couch in awe of these professional athletes.

For more information on the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo visit:




Pesticides in the Hive

Stephen Jones

Chemicals have been used for decades in order to ensure the growth and survival of crops essential to everyday life, but many of these chemicals are possibly affecting organisms outside of their intended targets, including the bee; an insect essential to the reproduction of various flowering plants. The chemicals scientists believe to be harmful to bees are known as neonicotinoids. These chemicals are synthetic derivatives of the widely used, naturally-occurring pesticide, nicotine.


Bee populations are dramatically on the decline, and scientists are looking for what factors could be responsible for said decline. Dr. Chris Connolly and his colleagues conducted a study at Dundee’s School of Medicine consisting of a sample population of bees, and the conclusion suggests the decline in the bee population is partially due to neonicotinoids. In the study, Dr. Connolly found exposure to low levels of neonicotinoids caused a 55 percent reduction of the live bee population. Dr. Connolly states, “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees.” Even though the pesticides did not kill the bees, the effects of the neurotoxins could still be seen through the examination of the bees’ brains and cells. As mentioned before, the bee population was exposed to low levels of neonicotinoids, resulting in the shutdown of mitochondria, the failure to recognize the scent of a flower, and the inability to remember their way back to the nest.

What is important to remember about the study is the scientists are not suggesting that insect neurotoxins are wholly at fault; but when looking at the results of this study, it is hard not to believe the aforementioned pesticides are not partially to blame. Dr. Connolly’s analysis is only one of many experiments looking into the side-effects of pesticides, and with the number of studies steadily growing; various national governments have started to take action concerning the use of pesticides within the environment. This past September, a US court reversed the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, due to data the court called “flawed and limited.” Although the court denied the use of sulfoxaflor, most neonicotinoids are still approved for use within the US; the situation is the polar opposite in the EU. The EU currently prohibits the use of most neonicotinoids and, as of July, allows the use of sulfoxaflor, even though the European Food Standards Authority believed the lack of information on sulfoxaflor does not exclude the possibility of a negative impact on the already deteriorating bee populations.

The unwanted influence of insect neurotoxins on bees is one of many factors we must look at when examining humans’ usage of chemicals in agriculture, but finding out whether or not these pesticides are significantly hurting bee populations is essential in ensuring the survival of many plant species we rely on every day.




David Shipler Reports on the Working Poor

Garrett Griffin

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: A homeless man sleeps under an American Flag blanket on a park bench on September 10, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. As of June 2013, there were an all-time record of 50,900 homeless people, including 12,100 homeless families with 21,300 homeless children homeless in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: A homeless man sleeps under an American Flag blanket on a park bench on September 10, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. As of June 2013, there were an all-time record of 50,900 homeless people, including 12,100 homeless families with 21,300 homeless children homeless in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

What if a major issue in the world was almost entirely ignored because people just don’t see it? Such is the case with the poor in the United States. Poverty is an often understated and largely ignored issue in the United States. We tend to overlook it since we see the number of poor in the poorest countries and in comparison to them our problem doesn’t seem as pad. In truth many of the poor, as David Shipler stated are “invisible” because they are constantly “working.” We have more poor than we think, but since we do not often see them on the streets and elsewhere in our normal day-to-day activities, the problem is invisible to us.

Mr. Shipler, a Pulitzer-prize winning former foreign correspondent and bureau chill for The New York Times, says addressing poverty is similar to “connecting the dots.” Without the connecting lines it is nothing more than a scattered constellation with no tangible meaning or useful interpretation. Without a good understanding of the problem, how can one hope to address it? It can’t be, which brings us to Shipler’s explanation of some of the larger stars in the constellation of poverty. Crossing the poverty line is similar to a minefield. One misstep can send you back to square one. Because of this, according to Shipler, the ability for one to make the path out of poverty usually requires good luck and fortune, since pure determination will usually not get you out of the pit of poverty.

Dr. David Shipler having a discussion with students at the informal luncheon earlier that day.

Dr. David Shipler (far left) having a discussion with students at the informal luncheon earlier that day.

Shipler, who spent the day on the campus of Texas A&M Texarkana on November 10th, says “poverty” is the still picture and “debt” is the moving picture. Poverty is not static and results in accumulating debts for simple things such as food and water, items most Americans take for granted. Those who are in poverty are not aware of this. Shipler says this is because poverty is relative. If you are surrounded by poverty with it being all you see, your place in the visible community is not at the bottom, but equal to everyone else. This life of always living in poverty can lend itself to a sense of “learned ‘hopelessness’” whereby, people don’t want to try an advance themselves because they have an inherited sense of no hope for the future. Advancement within the affluent society, that they stand on the edge looking in on, is nearly impossible and rationally non-attainable.

Shipler says the poor often wear the “camouflage of work.” This lends itself to invisible to mainstream society. The reason no one sees the poor in America is because they are the waitress, the women at the drycleaners, the cashier at the restaurant where they are putting on their façade for work: the uniform. If seen in the context of their home, one could see the true state of the hardworking, unseen poor.

If a child remains poor through his middle and junior high years of schooling, a child’s dream for the future, a future where he or she is not poor, dies. This is why numerous children drop out of school once this dream is crushed and enter the workforce to continue the decades-old cycle of working to just survive.

Eagle Hall is a hive of activity as Dr. Nakashian prepare to make his introduction at Dr. Shipler's presentation.

Eagle Hall is a hive of activity as Dr. Nakashian prepare to make his introduction at Dr. Shipler’s presentation.

Shipler gives one reason for the difficulty of addressing the issue of poverty is in its very structure. Rather than existing as a culture in society Shipler says in reality it has more in common to an ecological system with all of its intricacies, lending to a simple fix not existing for the problem.

One of the key links in the cyclical nature of poverty, says Shipler, is the issue of housing. Research shows when the bill for rent comes due and money is tight as usual the food budget is the first to be cut back. The reduced amount of food in the early stages of childhood can lead to developmental issues with children particularly neurological maturity. This can lead to bad choices perhaps being made by these underdeveloped children, bad choices that strengthen the grip poverty has on the families that originate form poorer communities.

Another issue affecting the poor comes when they apply for a job. People can develop a fear of work when they have had numerous failures. Such fear can keep people from ever applying for jobs and keeping them form taking the first step out of poverty. In Shipler’s interviews with people to compile his book he often saw the issue of fear come up in conversation with the interviewees. Its prevalence leads Shipler to assert that the issue is real and haunting.

Shipler’s ideas bring up an important issue for discussion. The poor in America are a forgotten group. Pushed to the side, left out in the open with no visible safety net. Federal programs exist to help combat the issue but a majority of those are under-utilized as of a direct campaign by those in charge to keep expenditures down why still taking the credit for providing such programs. Texas A&M University- Texarkana is proud to have hosted such an important discussion on such an important issue. The University hopes to be a forum for numerous future discussions on equally important issues.

Veteran’s Day Rewards

Anthony Hamilton

Once a year, in early November, there is a holiday set aside for America to honor those of us who basically “wrote a blank check, payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, (in some cases) our lives.”

Fact is, even though you may agree with the President’s views, as a servicemember, you have still taken an oath to defend the country whether you agree or not with what the country is trying to accomplish, courtesy of your service, at any given time.

Veteran’s day is a wonderful time to be a Veteran. Here in Texarkana, if you are a vet, you will have every opportunity to eat well, as most of the restaurants basically roll out the red carpet for us on Veteran’s day.

The benefits reaped vary by restaurant; some like Outback, Longhorn and Buffalo Wild Wings offered a free snack. Hooters offered a free entrée, yet others, such as Applebee’s and Texas Roadhouse offered veteran’s menus that consisted of full-meals. Golden Corral offered vets a buffet.

Yes, personally I love to eat, and for the first time in over 10 years, I celebrated Veteran’s day by making the rounds. I visited Hooters early for some chicken wings, Texas Roadhouse in the afternoon for a steak dinner, and a nightcap courtesy of Golden Corral where I happened to run into our veteran’s representative Robert Hernandez. It was definitely a welcome break from having to cook.

Another great thing about these meals is running into people that you may have served with and for whatever reason, you haven’t seen for years. It’s always fun to reminisce a little, as there are fun times in the military along with hard work.

As someone who spent almost 24 years in the United States Navy, I don’t always feel as though my service is appreciated. I’ve been homeless on more than one occasion for long periods of time, and despite having been healthy when I arrived at MEPS Shreveport back on March 9, 1985. I have a slew of medical problems now, and it’s always a stomp down, drag out affair when a claim is put in for disability. However I applaud them for giving me this opportunity to get (educationally) rehabilitated.

Despite all of the negative things I endure, the Veteran’s Day rewards are a reminder that there are those who appreciate all the family events missed, marital strains that many of us endured, all the way to not being at the bedside of a dying relative, also the nonsense bureaucracy that a wounded vet is guaranteed to go through upon returning home. To REALLY understand the commitment of America’s veterans you must wear the boots, or be a wife or child of a vet to understand the toll that it can take on them.

I am personally thankful for the Veteran’s Day rewards, because that’s the one time of the year when I realize that many really do appreciate our service.

Politicians and Musicians Do Not Harmonize

Stephen Jones

On September 9th, Donald Trump drew a livid reaction from R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, when the presidential hopeful used the band’s song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” at a Tea Party rally protesting President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. In an email to the Daily Beast, Stipe, clearly upset with Trump, stating “Go f— yourselves, you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry, little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.” Trump’s clash with R.E.M. is just the most recent incident in a long and troubled history between politicians (mostly Republicans) and musicians.

During the 2008 presidential season, Sen. John McCain received disapproval from three seperate artists, including: the Foo Fighters, John Mellencamp, and Jackson Browne. McCain continued this losing streak with musicians when his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, was sent a cease-and-desist letter from Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, after using their famous song, “Barracuda,” at the Republican National Convention. Wilson’s letter fiercely, “I think it’s completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely f***ed over.”

Most of these altercations between politicians and musicians mostly occur due to the stark contrasts in personal beliefs. Many of the jilted Republican politicians have strongly conservative values, while the objecting musicians have usually been associated with the rock genre, a genre known for its progressive past, e.g., Woodstock and Vietnam War protests. This history can be seen as far back as Ronald Reagan’s 1984 presidential campaign, where he wanted to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Reagan did not understand the lyrics where about a man struggling in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, a war Reagan was known to support. However, in the rare case of a musician denying a Democratic politician song rights, the letters have had a more cordial tone. For instance, Barack Obama was asked to stop using songs during both of his presidential campaigns; however, these rejections were not due to political beliefs, but rather the fact his campaign did not ask for permission. Perhaps if politicians asked the artists for song usage in advance, they might be spared the embarrassment of being publicy rejected.




The Record-Breaking 2015 Emmys

Jamie Williamson

The 2015 Emmys were one for the record books. It was a night for Black women to stand up and be proud. Last night proved that Hollywood is finally breaking away from the traditional race roles in mainstream media. Viola Davis became the first Black woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, for her role as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away With Murder.

Another winning moment came when Jon Hamm won his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy. This win comes after being nominated 16 times, 8 of which were for his character on Mad Men. The actor received a standing ovation from his peers, because this was his last chance to win an Emmy for his Don Draper character.

This year’s Emmys proved they could break the norm when three out of the four actresses who won awards were Black women. This trend should keep happening in Hollywood. The Emmys showed that no matter your skin color, if you are brilliant at your profession then you deserve the recognition.

Emmy winners

The Emmy red carpet also broke tradition when Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Organization teamed with Twitter and the Television Academy to start a Smart Girls Ask hashtag campaign that wanted to ask women better questions than “who are you wearing?” This gave actresses a chance to engage with young girls who look up to them and have realistic questions. Even though fashion is a big part of the red carpet, this gave women a chance to talk about current events.