A Shift in the Discussion Regarding the Payment of Student Athletes

(Source) A major issue that has been debated is whether student athletes should be allowed to profit off the use of their names, images, and likenesses. There are several reasons given in support for both sides. Some rationales supporting the payment of student athletes include college athletes expenditure of time towards their sport—an average of 43.3 hours per week, college athletes struggle to make ends meet, paying students would only make the sport more competitive, the money earned from athletics is not automatically reinvested in education and research, the college sports apparel market capitalizes specifically on these players, payment would help athletes leave school with a degree and little debt, and the NCAA is an $11 billion industry which should be able to afford paying people on all levels, including the players..   Common arguments against the payment of student athletes encompass a lack of college athletic programs to  afford to pay athletes, elite college athletes receive athletic scholarships which serves as a form of compensation, there is no fair way to pay college athletes, students are not professionals, paying student athletes will cause cuts elsewhere, and paying college athletes will ruin college sports.   One of the major arguments [read more]

Supporting the Arts is TAXing: The Difficulty of Establishing Effective Arts Funding Schemes in Creative Cities

(Source) In the United States, the arts and culture industries are massive economic engines. In fact, the arts contribute $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy annually, which is more than both the agricultural and transportation industries. Furthermore, the arts drive job growth and promote cultural tourism in cities across the U.S. This data suggests that, across the nation, the arts contribute value to our communities and “play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.” Because the arts are so vital to some state economies, it is important to consider the policies and procedures regarding the funding of this sector. Funding for the arts is a complicated matter due to the breadth of subjects, organizations, and fundraising schemes that fall under the umbrella of the “arts.” From the complex Broadway musical industry with many moving parts to an individual artisan jewelry-making business to nonprofit arts education programs, organizations and artists may face very different operating problems and therefore require different funding schemes. As one commentator noted in an article for Americans for the Arts, “Local Arts Agencies are like snowflakes; no two are exactly alike. Each [read more]

Marketing Meat Alternatives: Does Nomenclature Matter?

(Source) In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved the Impossible Burger, one of the first plant-based meat alternatives of its kind. The Impossible Burger gained nation wide attention for its eerie resemblance to real meat – specifically it’s blood-like color and taste. While the Impossible Burger initially faced some backlash, it opened the door for meat alternatives to become a new normal. After the Impossible Burger’s sales proved successful, a rival brand, Beyond Meat, launched nationwide sales of their plant-based products in June of 2019. Beyond Meat offered plant-based ground beef, burger patties, and sausage. Soon thereafter fast-food chains joined the trend. In August of 2019 Burger King released The Impossible Whopper; in September of 2019 McDonald’s launched their own version of a meatless burger; and in October of 2019 Dunkin Donuts created a Beyond Sausage Sandwich. Within the last year, plant-based meat alternatives have become a mainstream, household product. Sales of these products amounted to $1.5 billion last year, a twenty-two percent increase from the year before. Growing concern about the environmental impact of meat production is largely responsible for the growth in popularity of meat alternative products within the last year. Researchers have stressed the [read more]

Ignoring Policy, History, and Humanity: ICE Continues to Deport Veterans

(Source) In November 2019, a group of non-citizen veterans of the United States Military (military) celebrated Veterans Day in Mexico. Many of these individuals enlisted in the military after President George W. Bush signed an executive order fast-tracking citizenship for individuals willing to serve. However, they never officially became citizens and continue to remain vulnerable to deportation. Now, they remain in exile within the Deported Veterans Support House—a safe haven for non-citizen veterans who have been deported. It is common for non-citizens to join the military with the expectation of receiving naturalization. In fact, since the Revolutionary War, legal permanent residents are eligible to enlist, with roughly 35,000 non-citizens serving active duty. Since October 2001, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized 129,587 members of the military. If an individual meets all of the requirements of either section 328 (One Year of Military Service During Peacetime) or section 329 (Military Service During Hostilities) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), they are eligible for naturalization. By naturalizing through military service, individuals experience shorter residency requirements, no state-of-residence requirement, and waived application fees. Usually, if a non-citizen service member has received an honorable discharge, they are eligible for citizenship. [read more]

Do Not Access – Is Law Enforcement Access to Commercial DNA Databases a Substantial Privacy Concern?

(Source) The use of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) as an investigative tool for law enforcement has become, “if not exactly routine, very much normalized.” The normalization is in large part due to law enforcement’s use of FGG to identify and arrest the Golden State Killer. The April 2018 arrest gained national recognition, and subsequently, so did the police’s use of FGG as an investigative tool to narrow in on suspects. Forensic genetic genealogy has immense potential to serve as an investigative tool for law enforcement. The technique helps investigators “reduce the size of the haystack” by identifying the suspect’s family—making it that much more probable to find the needle. In the case of the Golden State Killer, law enforcement used GEDmatch, a public website that produces possible familial matches based on users’ genetic profiles. The site allows users to upload genetic profiles from third parties (such as 23andme and Ancestry.com), which is how law enforcement uploaded a DNA profile of the suspect from the Golden State Killer case. GEDmatch produced a partial match to the DNA profile, uploaded under a fake name, which led law enforcement to a distant relative. By narrowing down the possible suspect pool to one family [read more]

Stepping Up: The First Step Act and Criminal Justice Reform

(Source)   America incarcerates people at a higher rate than any country in the world. The highly politicized War on Drugs led to a spike in incarceration, particularly in lower-income and minority communities. Although the prison population in the United States has declined since 2016, incarceration and recidivism rates remain high. According to a study by the United States Sentencing Commission, more than half of a group of 25,000 recently released individuals were rearrested for new crimes or violations of supervision conditions. Although recidivism rates vary depending on factors such as sentence length and an individual’s previous exposure the criminal justice system, the overall rate of recidivism looks bleak. In 2018, Congress enacted the First Step Act to target high mandatory minimum sentences and recidivism rates in the federal carceral system.   A First Step Forward The First Step Act reforms mandatory minimum sentencing laws, introduces earned time credit and improves good time credit systems, and remedies compassionate release programs in federal prisons. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws restrict judicial discretion in sentencing and force judges to impose certain penalties for certain crimes, typically focusing on drug-related offenses. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 is the major source of mandatory minimum [read more]

Climate Crisis: Removing Authority from U.S. Military Commanders Over Sexual Assault Cases May Remedy the Prevalence and Underreporting of Sexual Assault

(Source)   The latest Department of Defense (DoD) Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military reports an increase in instances of sexual assault in the U.S. military (military). While rates of sexual assault increase, rates of conviction and punishment remain unchanged. The current military justice system allows for the accused’s unit supervisor (hereinafter “Commander”) to play a significant role in how sexual assault cases are resolved. While Pentagon officials promise to take more aggressive action in addressing sexual assault, it is often questioned whether the military is “equipped to police and reform itself.” According to a study commissioned by the DoD, an estimated 20,500 service members “experienced some kind of contact or penetrative sexual assault in 2018.” This is a 38% increase since the 2016 survey. The same study found that while rates of sexual assault against men remained steady, rates of sexual assault against women increased by almost 50%. With less than one-third of military survivors reporting sexual assault, and 6,053 reports of sexual assault in the 2018 fiscal year, there appears to be a greater institutional problem within the military justice system. Military sexual assault reports are processed either through the restricted or unrestricted reporting systems. Restricted [read more]

Jumping on the Ban-wagon: As Vaping Associated Illnesses Rise, Governments and Corporations Take Action

(Source)   As of September 17, 2019, there have been 7 reported deaths and 530 cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarettes and vaping. Doctors across the country are struggling to determine the true cause of this illness with a high incidence among vape product users. Doctors are unable to even prescribe a uniform diagnosis to the condition, with some using the term “vaping-associated lung injury,” or “VALI.” Many believe these vaping-related illnesses are due to additives—namely Vitamin E acetate—found in some THC vaping products. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detected Vitamin E acetate in many of the samples tested during  , but it has not been present in all. While the CDC cannot conclusively determine that Vitamin E acetate is the cause of these mysterious illnesses, they recommend avoiding inhaling the oil. In response to this mysterious vaping illness, governments and private corporations alike are striving to heavily regulate e-cigarettes and vaping products. On September 11, 2019, the Trump administration announced it would seek to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes at the federal level. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently outlining a plan to remove all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine [read more]

The Life Cycle of a Note

Have you ever wondered how notes are selected for publication or what Cornell’s journals do with the large number of notes written by associates each year? Mystyc Metrik explains the life cycle of a note. [read more]
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