The wrong way to save Afghans: America must make it easier for refugees to come here

(Source) This article originally appeared in the New York Daily News. When U.S. troops left Afghanistan, many Afghans who had supported the United States’ work there became Taliban targets due to their association with the United States. While in theory, Afghans at risk can apply for humanitarian parole to come to the United States, in reality, this option falls grossly short of humane. Humanitarian parole allows non-U.S. citizens to remain in the United States for a two-year parole period. Applicants must meet certain qualifications to be eligible, such as urgent humanitarian need. While other immigration options technically exist for Afghans, like the Special Immigrant Visa and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, those application processes can take years. That delay renders those options nonviable for Afghans whose lives are in danger.  Humanitarian parole is theoretically the quickest way for Afghans to gain admission into the United States, making it the most appealing option for many Afghans hoping to escape the Taliban. But the application process is nearly impossible for someone in hiding. Applicants must complete several confusing immigration forms and compile many supporting evidentiary documents. The forms are in English legal jargon, which is obviously a problem for many Afghans who [read more]

Expanding the Courts to Reduce Case Backlogs

(Source) Case backlogs significantly impact the judicial system. By delaying the proceedings, case backlogs increase the cost of litigation. When a case is backlogged, parties—especially those that cannot afford to wait or pay for protracted litigation—are incentivized to accept less than optimal settlements. Backlogs also force criminal defendants, who cannot afford bail, to spend a greater amount of time in jail before a determination of their guilt can occur. Moreover, backlogs can stymie justice by delaying trials until after witnesses or even parties have passed away. Courts across the United States have experienced backlogs for quite some time. Between 2000 and 2014, thousands of civil cases were backlogged in U.S. District Courts each year, and this trend has only continued into the 2020s. For example, as of 2020, the number of backlogged cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey sat at a staggering 39,000, up over 230% since 2016. In the administrative law courts of the Department of Health and Human Services, hundreds of thousands of Medicare appeals were backlogged during the 2010s. Similarly, the nation’s immigration court has faced severe backlogs for more than a decade. Concerningly, the immigration court’s backlog has grown at [read more]

Drug Testing for Marijuana: An Arbitrary & Capricious Practice?

(Source) Although congressional efforts to decriminalize marijuana remain ongoing, we have seen the legalization of marijuana in several states both for medicinal use and for recreational use. In as early as 2012 following election day, Colorado became the first state to legalize the use and sale of marijuana. Since then, it isn’t uncommon to see “marijuana tourism,” a term used to describe consumers traveling to use marijuana in those progressive states and territories that legalized its recreational use. Despite the trend of states legalizing marijuana, employers still screen employees and prescreen potential employees for marijuana usage. Is such testing justified or is the practice arbitrary or even adverse to society?  Drug tests are optional tests for employers who use them to identify whether employees or prospective employees are using illicit drugs such as methamphetamines, THC which includes marijuana, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, and others as requested. These tests may also be in the form of (1) random tests; (2) periodic testing; (3) post-accident testing; (4) reasonable suspicion testing; (5) follow-up testing; or (6) pre-employment testing.  The purpose of these tests is to reduce workplace hazards and improve safety as well as productivity, which can be compromised with the use of drugs. [read more]

Retail Investors, Social Media, and the Future of Moderation

(Source) What happened? Earlier this year, retail investors took advantage of an opportunity to invest in stocks they collectively believed would increase in price. Using Reddit, retail investors came together on a subreddit, aptly named WallStreetBets, to parse through publicly available information and act “collectively” on certain stocks. These stocks included GameStop, AMC Entertainment, and BlackBerry Limited. This rally was led by Keith Gill, known as Roaring Kitty on YouTube or DFV on Reddit. Prior to the ~2000% surge in GameStop’s stock price in January 2021, Gill had been posting his findings and predictions on YouTube and on Reddit. Although his predictions were initially met with criticism from other retail investors on Reddit, Gill held firm in his belief that GameStop was undervalued, especially as new game consoles were released, which would increase sales and bolster GameStop’s value. Gill’s predictions soon received validation as individuals like Michael Burry (founder of Scion Capital, the hedge fund that successfully took a position against the housing market in 2008) and Ryan Cohen (cofounder of Chewy) also noted that they had taken large stakes in GameStop.  Gill, along with a small group of likeminded investors, pointed to two factors that influenced their decision to [read more]

Optimizing Sports Gambling: A Case for Deregulating the Sports Gambling Industry

(Source) Sports gambling has existed in North America since 1665 when the first horse-racing track was opened. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, gambling became more prevalent as card rooms began to operate and many started gambling on boxing matches and baseball games. However, a series of scandals, such as the 1919 Black Sox baseball scandal and the point-shaving scandal at the City College of New York, and the rise of organized crime’s domination of the gambling market led sports leagues and federal legislators to attempt to prohibit sports gambling.  In 1920, Major League Baseball appointed its first commissioner, Judge Landis, in an attempt to restore the integrity of the game, and he banned from major league baseball for life the eight professional baseball players involved in the Black Sox baseball scandal. The federal government, on the other hand, passed the Federal Wire Act, which made it illegal to place bets or share information about them via wires across state lines. The federal government’s involvement with the sports gambling market culminated with the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (“PASPA”). PASPA banned states from sponsoring or authorizing any betting or gambling on competitive [read more]

Why Tuition Is Skyrocketing: An Inconvenient Truth

(Source) The costs of college tuition have perennially risen nationwide at rates higher than inflation, saddling millions of millennials and Generation Z’ers with exorbitant debts ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Vignettes about Generation X’ers paying student loans for decades are not uncommon and will likely continue for the younger generations. As if to mask the reality of the national student loan crisis, colleges and universities have downplayed the burdens they impose on students by pointing to lavish increases in financial aid. Yet seldom has such largess extended to all or even most students, at least not to the extent of paying for most of their education. America’s student-loan crisis demands analysis about the sources of burgeoning tuition costs and demands corresponding solutions. Universities often claim that tuition hikes are necessary to cover rising administrative, academic, and operational costs. The inconvenient truth behind redressing the student loan crisis, then, lies in chipping away at the bureaucratic leviathan that universities have created and reducing the number of nonacademic services universities provide students.  For instance, Harvard boasts 22,273 students and over 18,000 total employees but only a comparatively meager 2,259 professors and instructors. Thus, whereas the Ivy League school [read more]

360 Music Contracts, COVID-19, and the Future of the Music Industry

(Source) Since the turn of the century, music accessibility has quickly become greater than ever before, though listening formats have changed in popularity. As cassette tape sales waned in the 1990s, CDs became the most profitable format in the US. This trend continued through the late 2000s when CD use declined. Since 1999, falling music sales have been a consistent reality, due in no small part to newfound free, albeit illicit, access to music, offered by file sharing websites like Napster and the ever-reviving, peer-to-peer torrent site The Pirate Bay which at their peaks had sixty million and fifty million users, respectively, as well as Limewire. Piracy then blunted the growth of the music industry and not until recently did the industry’s financial outlook begin to improve. In 2016, streaming revenues represented 51% of the music retail industry’s revenue, overtaking CD, vinyl, and download sales combined. Streaming subscriptions that year drove an over 11% increase in total recorded music revenue to $7.7 billion, the largest such increase since 1998, though that sum is still only half of previous industry highs in 1999. The advent of streaming and its embrace by American music consumers shows no signs of stopping, with a [read more]

Making Mandatory: Vaccines in the Workplace

(Source) According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, after hitting a peak in early January 2021 of over 300,000 new American coronavirus infections in a single day, the number of new cases began falling precipitously over the ensuing months, with the seven-day moving average dropping to 56,000 by late March. Not coincidentally, COVID vaccination efforts in the same time frame have been ramping up—as of February 1, 2021, 32.2 million vaccines were administered in the U.S., with President Biden aiming to vaccinate 1.5 million more Americans each day. With over 200 million doses in under two months, the Biden administration’s original goal has been far exceeded, as 43% of Americans have already received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine as of the date of this writing. A consequence of the vaccination objective progressing at such an expeditious rate is that the overnight metamorphosis from in-person to remote work will likely begin to revert quickly as a number of large corporations, including Amazon, Apple, and Goldman Sachs, are expecting their workers to make a return to the office by midsummer.   While Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has envisioned that half of the 48,000 employees at his company could be moving to [read more]

So, What Actually Is the Rule of Law?

(Source) Over the past year, public discourse increasingly cited the value of the rule of law. In response to the January 6 insurrection, then-President Trump claimed that “Making America Great Again has always been about defending the rule of law.” About a month later, President Biden remarked that one of “America’s most cherished democratic values. . . [is] respecting the rule of law.” What do public figures mean when they refer to the rule of law? Do they invoke the phrase in the same way they purport to know what “the American people” want, or does the idea connote much more than some amorphous optimism in our way of government. Modern legal philosophers such as Joseph Raz and F. A. Hayek have provided normative characterizations of what it means for the rule of law to govern a legal system. Raz, in particular, emphasizes that a society governed by the rule of law “must be capable of guiding the behavior of its subjects,” and identifies certain principles that derive from the rule of law, such as an independent judiciary and accessibility of courts. However, the concept boasts a history stretching back to Greek philosophers, and the ways in which the rule [read more]

It’s 2021; Let’s Talk About Breastfeeding

(Source) It’s no secret that women’s participation in the labor force increased dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century. In the past five years, women have held more than half of all management occupations and earn more than half of all bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Perhaps most notably, a record number of women now serve in the 117th Congress—still only about a quarter of all members, but a record nonetheless. So, with women holding fast at about 47% of the labor force in 2020[1] and occupying more positions of power than ever before, why do some women still struggle to breastfeed successfully, especially while working? Let’s start with a quick primer on breastfeeding to get everyone up to speed. Breastfeeding promotes positive outcomes in children and mothers. Breastfed babies are better protected from diarrhea, pneumonia, and certain      infections, less likely to develop asthma, at a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (“SIDS”), and less likely to become obese. Mothers who breastfeed also have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers and experience more rapid weight loss after birth. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”) both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for [read more]
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