Don’t Make Light of Their Lives: Police Brutality

This summer, President Trump raised controversy when making “insensitive” jokes pertaining to police brutality during his speech in Long Island. Many believed that his comment supported the attacks that had been occurring over the past few years. Trump stated, “please don’t be too nice”, referring to police officer’s treatments to suspects. Although he and some of the officers in attendance at his speech may have found it funny, what about the innocent victims who had to deal with these cruel acts of unfairness, or what about their loved ones who had to bury them. It may not raise brows as much today, but let’s not forget about those that died in the past 6 years.

Police Brutality is nothing new to world. If anything, data has shown that in the last three years, numbers have dropped. Over the years, the topic of police shooting has resurfaced, by the help of social media and smartphones. Record, post, share! In the matter of moments, a new video is released via social media.

Between 2011-2016, thousands of people have died in police related shootings. Some have even suffered from the rough handling displayed by the police officers. More recently, the most prominent factor that each incident has had in common is that the victims were unarmed, black men.

Many people argued that the media portrayed black men as criminals without giving them the satisfaction of being suspects. People took to Twitter to start hashtags such as, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, which promoted awareness to the insensitive acts of media hegemony that depicted black men to be evil based on the images used on the news. One of the most famous pictured being that of Mike Brown, after he was murdered.

Could these shootings support claims that dominant ideologies overrule what is ethically and morally accepted in our society, in regards to police brutality?

“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” – Barack Obama.

In the middle of all of the controversy, the Black Lives Matter Movement, was structured. The sole purpose was to unify groups and allow people to stand up against police brutality civilly, but things did not always turn out peaceful.

Many people have been arrested for peacefully protesting. Take Ieshia Evans for instance, she silently stood in the streets during a protests and was sent to jail.

Over 900 people were killed by the police in both 2015 and 2016 each. Thus far, around 800 people have died due to shootings by police in 2017.

In the years to come let’s not forget about Kelly Thomas. Let’s not forget Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, and the thousands of men and women who lost their lives. “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Don’t for a second overlook the cases like, Kyam Livingston. Police brutality doesn’t only define the shootings that took place; remember those whose needs were ignored. “I can’t breathe”, 11 times Eric Garner cried out. Remember that these people did not have mercy. Remember that their lives were taken from them.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King.

 

 

Cost of Insulin Skyrocketing: What’s Behind the Hike and How it Affects Americans with Diabetes

 

The same 10 milliliter vial of insulin that cost $21 in 1997 now can come with a price tag of more than $250. These price hikes have resulted in many diabetics across the U.S. struggling to pay for this essential medication.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that diminishes the body’s ability to process sugar. If left untreated, diabetics develop extremely high blood sugar that leads to severe health risks and potentially death. The number of people with diabetes, specifically type 2, in the United States has increased exponentially within the last decade, according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2015 census.

As these numbers increase, so do the numbers of insulin prices across the U.S. market. David Kearney, a staff pharmacist at Vaughn Pharmacy in Powell, Tenn., explains that the way the pharmaceutical industry is set up in the United States makes it possible for price increases like these to occur.

“Our government does not regulate pricing of pharmaceuticals in this country,” said Kearney. “They can pretty much charge any price that is agreed upon between them and the insurance companies.”

The U.S. government allows the pharmaceutical industry to operate within the free market with the aim of keeping prices at a reasonable rate due to competition. The most prominent insulin manufacturers such as Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, however, have been steadily increasing their prices in lockstep over the last several years. Many critics have accused these companies of price-fixing as there seems to be no competition among the top-sellers.

A study conducted by the JAMA Network in 2013 shows how the price of insulin has increased within the last decade or so. It also revealed that the mean out-of-pocket expenditures on insulin treatments for diabetes were far greater than all other non-insulin therapies combined. In fact, the prices for non-insulin treatments had decreased between the years of 2008 and 2013 while the price of insulin increased.

Some companies claim that the reason behind the price increases is mainly the research that goes into the continued advancement of the drug. Many are left wondering if these advances are truly worth the extra cost, and others believe that this claim is simply a strategy used to maintain patent protections and keep prices high.

As newer, more effective, insulins enter the market, doctors prescribe whichever insulin they believe would be most beneficial for their patients . Kearney, however, explains that if cost is a barrier for a diabetic who is prescribed a newer insulin, they should speak with their doctor about other options.

“Older insulins are still a viable option to help treat diabetes, and it’s a lot better than not doing anything at all,” he said. “So it’s really important that they don’t just discontinue use of the medicine.”

Approximately 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes. The below graphic displays the CDC’s assessment of each state’s diabetes rate.

The map below shows the poverty rate of each U.S. state. Interestingly, much of the information in this map seems to be reflected on the one above. One might draw from this that states with higher poverty rates have a higher number of diabetics. With the cost of insulin being so high, this poses an extreme problem for those living in poverty without insurance.

Although the majority of diabetics have health insurance, many suffer from high deductibles and end up paying out-of-pocket for their medication anyway. For those without, the out-of-pocket costs are far too expensive for them to pay. If the number of diabetics in these impoverished parts of the country continues to grow, this problem will worsen and many people will suffer.

For the approximately two million diabetics in America who are uninsured and who cannot use older formulas, many often have to ration their insulin supply or choose between paying for their mortgage and paying for their insulin. Reports say that some turn to crowdfunding on the internet or even the black market to get the medication they need.

As this issue continues to progress, the dialogue surrounding it also continues. Although Kearney does not believe that the prices of insulin will come down any time soon, he believes there are steps the U.S. can take to remedy the situation.

“We need to challenge our country to be more attentive to the patients that can’t afford this and find ways to get them the medicine they need,” Kearney said. The solution for this, however, is anything but simple as blame is tossed back and forth between insulin manufacturers and insurance companies. Ironically, this air of greed that exists within the insulin industry today was non-existent upon its discovery in the early 1900s. Those working to find a cure for this disease were doing so for the greater good of society rather than in their own interests.

Years of dedicated research and development within the industry have led up to the situation that exists today. Although it may seem far off, if this same kind of effort continues, perhaps other solutions for this disease will be discovered and the issue of insulin pricing will eventually become obsolete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

College Sports Revenue

 

Amateurism is quickly becoming the most understated word in collegiate sports. That’s because by now most people know better. Collegiate athletics has the ability to give an institution millions of dollars in revenue, while making their name and brand more popular. For instance did you know, that a school that wins the NCAA men’s basketball tournament receives an average increase in applications by 10% (Glatter, Hayley;2017. The Atlantic, The March Madness Application Bump)? Doing well in athletics, means flourishing in revenue stream…… and schools know it. That is why the pressure is so high to win, and it’s why some college coaches are paid so handsomely well. For example the SEC arguably the toughest football conference, owns 9 of the top 25 highest paid football coaches in the country, the conference only has 14 schools! Nick Saban, who coaches in the SEC for Alabama is the nations highest paid coach at $11 million, while Butch Jones was the nations 20th highest paid coach, Tennessee pays him $4.1 million annually.

The SEC has a zero tolerance for losing, that is why in the 14 team conference 6 of the schools are currently replacing their football coaches. All 6 schools except for one (Mississipi State) fired their head coaches, because of disappointing regular season results. The story that strikes closets to home, is Tennessee’s Butch Jones. Jones was fired after a 51-17 loss to Mizzou which left the Volunteers 4-6 overall and 0-6 in the SEC. Much of the fan base questioned why Jones wasn’t let go after the humiliating loss to Georgia, but rumors swirled it was Jones contract that saved him. Fans speculated the school did not want to buy Jones out of his contract for $9 million. The people that believed these rumors were enraged, after all Tennessee has money to spend, and a lot of it. We know this because Tennessee’s athletic Director, John Currie recently laid out plans to renovate Neyland at all small cost of 300 million. On top of that UT is constantly in the top 10 colleges for athletic revenue! (Strange, Mike; 2017. USA Today, University of Tennessee top 10 nationally in sports budget) so….. they got money.

Because of the monster revenue athletics brings to school, sometimes athletics is treated as business. Players may illegally receive money, to come play for a certain school, salaries for coaches are at an all time high, and of course the possibility for these athletes to go professional. Schools pay top dollar, to make sure they have a state of the art facility, anything for that competitive edge. A review from the Washington Post was conducted in 2014, on how much the athletic departments at 48 schools, from the 5 wealthiest conferences in college sports spend on their facilities. These 48 schools reported spending a combined $772 million on athletic facilities, up 89% from 2004. For an example that hits close to home, the University of Tennessee finished the new Anderson Athletic center in 2013, that is reported to have cost the school $45 million.

 

In some places winning is everything, just look at Miami’s Mark Richt, he was fired at Georgia, after going 10-3! Let me say that again 10-3! Most schools would be throwing millions at Richt to stay there, not Georgia. The worst part, it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. With schools receiving Nike deals, Adidas deals, TV deals, etc. college revenue will only continue to steadily raise, after all it was just last year that UCLA received a $280 million deal from Under Armor to become the school’s apparel sponsorship. The Under Armor deal is reported as the largest deal in college sports history.

 

It’s really quite amazing how much money college athletics generates, when you realize only two sports in the institution actually generate a surplus in money. Basketball and football, baseball I believe has the potential to make a lot of money, but that’s years away. Unfortunately the intitutions other sports, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball do not receive very much attention from fans and boosters alike, and that shows in a lot of ways. The first things you notice about the other sports, is they do not receive nearly the same attention from the media as football and basketball. No tabloids come out about soccer, and gymnastic is never televised. Another thing you noticed is coaches in the other sports are not nearly paid as well. Revenue in college sports…….. it’s a business.

 

 

How many more mass shootings will there be before something is done?

The Las Vegas shooting on October 1st left 58 innocent people dead and 515 more injured. A month later, on November 5th, a man opened fire on a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 during their Sunday service.

These two incidents are the latest in a long string of mass shootings over the last few decades that have once again sparked a debate on gun control in America. Below is a timeline of a few major mass shootings in the United States. The timeline begins with the 1966 University of Texas shooting which is widely considered to be the event that marks the beginning of mass shootings in America.

These are just a handful of the mass shootings in the U.S. The government defines a mass shooting as three or more people being shot and killed by a gunman. By this definition, there have been 146 mass shootings in the United States since August 1st, 1966. Below are a few saddening statistics regarding these mass shootings and gun violence in America.

The mass shootings that media report on are tragic but many more Americans are dying every day from guns that the public isn’t aware of. Gun violence in America is bordering on an epidemic, more than 12,000 Americans were killed in 2015, and current gun laws aren’t helping to slow down the ever-increasing number of victims.

Nearly 60 percent of the guns used in mass shootings since 1966 were obtained legally. Only 16 percent were obtained illegally. Gun laws in America make obtaining guns extremely easy.

A 2007 report by the Small Arms Survey found that civilians in the U.S. owned about 270 million guns. This is enough guns to arm the entire adult population in the United States. Many gun owners own multiple guns, most of which are obtained legally. The Las Vegas gunman was carrying 23 guns at the time of the massacre.

Some opponents to tougher gun laws claim that greater restrictions on guns lead to more gun violence or do little to prevent firearm mortality, but statistics say otherwise.

In the data map below, states were ranked one to five for their level of gun restrictions, with five being the most strict and one being the least strict. The rating is based on restrictions on ownership related to violent/gun-related crimes, dangerous mental illness, open carry, concealed carry, and background checks.

For example, New York ranks at five on the scale for restricting the purchase of firearms by individuals with a dangerous mental illness and a violent criminal background and also prohibiting open carry, allowing wide discretion to deny concealed carry, and enforcing strict background checks. Louisiana, on the other hand, ranks at one for not having any restrictions on the private purchase of firearms.

In this data map, the level of gun restrictions is compared to the number of deaths by firearms per 100,000 people. Many of the states with the least amount of restrictions had some of the highest firearm mortality rates.

Louisiana has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation and was second in the country for firearm mortality according to the CDC. New York, on the other hand, has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and has one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the U.S.

Another argument against stricter gun laws is the idea that armed civilians can fight back against these mass murderers. Looking at the graph below, however, armed civilians only manage to end 3 percent of mass shootings. This is based on a study conducted by the FBI from 2000 to 2013 which analyzed how various mass shootings ended. The study revealed more mass shootings were ended by unarmed civilians than by armed civilians.

So what do federal gun laws currently look like?

The Second Amendment is the biggest piece of gun-related legislation and reads: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Some pro-restriction supporters argue that the Second Amendment was intended for, as it states, a militia and not for private citizens. Regardless of the interpretation, the Supreme Court confirmed the second amendment to be an individual right in 2008 with District of Columbia v. Heller.

Aside from the Second Amendment, the Gun Control Act of 1968 is arguably the second biggest piece of legislation revolving around gun ownership. This was the law that prohibited the sale of firearms by federally licensed retailers to several individuals including those under 18, anyone with a criminal record, the mentally disabled, unlawful aliens, dishonorably discharged military personnel, and others.

1993 saw the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act pass, This mandated background checks for all unlicensed persons purchasing a firearm from federally licensed dealers.

In 1994, an assault weapon ban was passed but Congress let the bill expire in 2004. Because of this, there is currently no federal regulation on semi-automatic assault weapons nor military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns, or large-capacity ammunition magazines.

The United States hasn’t passed a significant piece of legislation restricting guns in over 20 years. It is time for Congress re-evaluates the current gun laws in America.

How many more mass shooting will occur before lawmakers decide doing nothing is no longer the best option? How many more thousands will die a year before Washington considers gun violence a truly deadly issue?

After School Programs in Tennessee

After school programs often provide food in the form of of snacks or dinner, computer time in the tech lab, social time and video game time in the games room that consists of Xbox, bean bags and board games, active play which includes gym and outside, and homework which includes homework help and tutoring These are the main parts that makes the club work smoothly and provides items to make sure a member is successful.

In Tennessee, 17% (170,645) of K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Also, of all Tennessee children not currently enrolled in after school, 31% (263,754) would be likely to participate in an after school program if they were available in their neighborhood.92% of parents in Tennessee are satisfied with the after school program their child attends.18% (179,897) of Tennessee’s K-12 children participate in after school programs, including 21,786 kids in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to after school (tnafterschool.org).

 

 

 

After school and summer learning programs help Tennessee’s students achieve goals. After school programs help students do better in school, develop their work behaviors, and advance. The programs involve students in moving experiences that increase leadership, collaboration, and responsibility. In Tennessee, nearly 180,000 children and teens are enrolled in an after school program. After school and summer learning programs can show kids new academic and professional opportunities, especially in the STEM fields known as science, technology, engineering and math. It is critical to prepare all kids for the future. Between Tennessee parents: 92 percent are pleased with their child’s after school program, 75 percent say it’s significant for their children to have summer activities that help them sustain academic skills and learn new things, 74 percent say after school programs help children increase workforce skills, and 59 percent say their child’s after school program offers STEM learning opportunities (nebula.wsimg.com).

Families across America report that the space between work and school schedules can be up to 25 hours per week. Parental worries about after school care result in missed work time and decreased production that costs U.S. businesses up to $300 billion annually (nebula.wsimg.com). Between Tennessee parents: 78 percent say that after school programs help working parents keep their jobs, 83 percent agree that after school programs help give working parents peace of mind about their children when they are at work, 86 percent backs public funding for after school programs, and 88 percent backs public funding for summer learning programs (nebula.wsimg.com).

Businesses can partner with after school and summer programs to offer mentorships or internships to middle and high school students and invest in STEM activities for after school and summer programs. Also, Volunteers in after school programs share simple STEM-related activities to acquire interest in the careers to encourage after school programming and organize a task force in the community to create youth services where there are gaps to Create a Maker Space where youth and their families can discover and experiment (nebula.wsimg.com).

What’s Next: Dispelling After-College Myths

We are coming up on the end of the semester which means exams for most. But for some seniors it is crunch time and many are in search for a job as they also prepare to walk across the stage and close a chapter in their lives in order to start a new one. While some find it easy to get a job others are uncertain of their field of study and/or abilities within a certain career field. It is not always a walk in the park when it comes to the job market. College classes can only get students so far, there has to be equal efforts in outside activities and work. Many people are constantly sharing their tips and opinions on how to get a job in today’s working world.

The most important thing to remember after students walk across the stage is to take a breath and come down off the highs of college and constantly working. Contrary to popular belief, it is healthy to break away from a schedule for a while to recoup; some graduates are even going the gap year root and taking time to ‘find themselves’. Whether it’s one month or one year, it is okay for students to take a break. That may help with making wise choices for the next few years.

 

To ease the minds of those who are panicking about entering the job market, there are usually jobs offered in every major, whether they are plentiful or few. The key, according to some business websites and affiliates, is to find a specific title that suits the abilities that a student has and then tailor them to what the job is expecting because this job market is better than it has been in the past few years. College students change their major 3-4 times during their years at school. Some students even decide to change their major their senior year which can be stressful. There are a few occupations that only require two years of study and some that require no schooling at all.

Sometimes job searches can take people outside their preferred location. Many college graduates are moving to cities that are not at the top of a tourist attraction list but are bringing in ages 25-34 yearly. Forbes, and other publications, have reported on the top cities for young professionals to look at. It is important to look at markets before beginning any job hunt. Look at housing, transportation and overall living cost. If students are not prepared to enter a new market then they will be less likely to succeed in their future endeavors which is why it is smart to do some research.

For those students who enjoyed their majors and want to continue work in that area, there are jobs that only need a bachelor’s degree to for work eligibility. Do not get discouraged by the amount of jobs one area of study has compared to others, there is something for everyone. Many jobs offer a high starting salary compared to the average pay in that field

It is not enough for graduates to just have a vision or dream about where they want to be when they get their diploma. There is a lot of hard work and determination that goes into deciding on a career. Graduates, with only a few weeks left it is best to explore all options and choose wisely based on yourself.