Category Archives: News

Fake News, Real Consequences

by Sarah Willson

Fake news can fill in the spaces of people’s knowledge with misleading information and is being spread through the modern-day media model of developing a target audience for advertisers to pay to reach, according to Craig Silverman the Media Editor at BuzzFeed.

Fallacies are increasingly being spread as individuals, particularly teenagers from Macedonia, use the modern-day media model for profit, explained Silverman.

They create a fake news site, write articles that satisfy the opinions of individuals, make multiple fake social media accounts and share the article to imitate traffic on the website. These “purely partisan and purely emotionally driven sites” are then able to make money from advertisers without them knowing it is a fake site.

“The headline [of news stories] often grabs people, but it’s often what is misleading people,” said Silverman. “Fake news sometimes fills in the gaps of people’s knowledge,” said the Toronto native to a crowd of about 110 people, Thursday night Feb. 16, at a presentation run by the Central Connecticut State University’s Department of Journalism about the current surge of fake news online.

Silverman explained how certain biased, untruthful and fake news sites are misinforming and confusing many Americans, and being spread through social media and fake news sites. Emotionally driven articles receive more of a reaction and in turn, more traffic, “because it makes an argument they want to push forward,” said Silverman.

The major factors that ultimately drive misinformation and misperceptions into the public eye. These include propaganda, hoaxes, un-credible news websites and fake news.

Fake news can come about within a society, emphasizing the fact that it often arises due to strong emotions and beliefs, according to Silverman, who is also the author of “Regret the Error,” where he reported on the issues and trends regarding the accuracy of the media.

“Rumors emerge in situations of uncertainty, fear or lack information,” said Silverman. “There’s never been a communication platform with that many people in history,” said Silverman, referring to social media, which he believes ultimately makes the public more susceptible to fake news.

Facebook, in particular, was notorious for spreading fake news during the 2016 election. The algorithmic filtering and lack of differentiating on social media account puts avid social media users in a “partisan echo-chamber,” said Silverman. This gives misleading and emotionally driven fake news sites an environment to thrive in.

According to a study done by Silverman, between February and Election Day, the total number of shares, reactions and comments for a piece of content on a Facebook source, soared from three million to 8.7 million.

Silverman believes this is due to a battle for attention; saying that it is fiercer than ever before, as social media has “achieved a scale unheard of in the history of human communication.”

One CCSU student had a lot to say about the epidemic of fake news like Silverman emphasizing how it’s taking a toll on the American people.

“If I want to stay informed about anything that is going on, I should probably come and see someone that’s speaking about it that has actual background in the media,” said freshman Amanda Rotch.

More than anything, Rotch was particularly concerned with President Donald Trump’s take on the media.

“I think it’s his way of dodging facts that he decides aren’t putting him in a good light,” said Rotch, referring to Trump’s comments about the media. “He’s finding a way to warp it so that the people who are reporting the facts about him are the ones that are at fault.”

“I think that he’s a businessman” said Rotch. “They’re very good at mincing their words.”

When asked about how to combat fake news, Rotch said she believed informing the public about it was the best way to stop it.

“Even stuff like having someone come here, who’s in the industry, and give a talk on fake news and his opinion and everything, I think is a way to help inform people and help them feel like they know what’s going on,” said Rotch.

Silverman also gave his opinion on the best way to not only stop fake news, but also how to regain the trust of journalists, who often bear the brunt of dealing with misinformation.

Silverman argued that ground rules need to be established when it comes to regaining the trust of journalists.

“The price for mistakes is greater,” said Silverman, believing that some journalists need to “slow down” in order to make sure they get the facts right before they are presented.

As for combating fake news, Silverman says the best way to do it is by informing others that what they are often seeing, reading and sharing is not always accurate.

“Don’t attack the person who shares the fake news, and don’t be confrontational,” said Silverman. “Listen to what they have to say, have a human conversation.”

Silverman also recommended showing the person trustworthy news sites.

For further information about fake news and how to combat it, Silverman recommended visiting thenewsliteracyproject.org, which informs and educates young people about journalistic integrity and the difference between facts and fiction.

PewDiePie’s ‘Fall’ and Media That Makes Journalists Look Bad

 

Image result for pewdiepie

by Kristina Vakhman

YouTube star Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, found himself in the middle of a “scandal” last week when the Wall Street Journal branded him as anti-Semitic.

The Journal’s report featured a compilation of nine of Kjellberg’s videos where he incorporated either Nazi imagery or anti-Semitic humor.

Since then, other news outlets joined in the biggest YouTuber’s condemnation, linking him to a fascist and accusing him of normalizing the alt-right’s controversial views.

The debacle forced Disney’s subsidiary, Maker Studios, to drop their partnership with Kjellberg. Moreover, YouTube cancelled the second season of his YouTube Red show, “Scare PewDiePie,” as well as removed the PewDiePie channel from their Google Preferred advertising program.

Contrary to headlines, Kjellberg has not “fallen” from his dominant YouTube throne. In fact, his 53 million subscriber count has only grown.

Additionally, fellow YouTubers and his fanbase have been quick to point out that the Journal’s video deliberately takes scenes from Kjellberg’s work out of context. It is also edited to make the material seem far darker than what Kjellberg intended in the initial content.

In one video, since deleted from his channel, Kjellberg poked fun at the absurdity of Fiverr.com, where freelancers do practically anything for five dollars. To see how far the vendors would go, Kjellberg put in ridiculous requests, including asking two men to unfurl a banner reading “Death to all Jews” as they danced and laughed in the middle of a jungle.

While others denied Kjellberg’s ludicrous demands and threatened to report him for violating the site’s guidelines, the two men followed through with what he had requested.

In another video, Kjellberg compared the Nazi Party to the YouTube Heroes program, which gives users abilities that can be easily abused, like mass-flagging videos. Kjellberg is seen watching one of Adolf Hitler’s speeches.

The Journal’s depiction of these scenarios completely cuts out the original context. No other sides of the situation are shown, hence perpetuating the narrative that Kjellberg is anti-Semitic. Knowing the full substance of the complete videos sheds new light and dismantles the Journal’s argument.

Instead of examples of anti-Semitism, these instances were Kjellberg’s attempts at shock humor that — even he admits in his apology video — were of bad taste and poorly executed.

Of course, this does not excuse Kjellberg from making such crude jokes.

Maker Studios was right to sever times with him, considering the welcoming, inclusive image that Disney has spent years developing and maintaining. Losing his place on YouTube’s Google Preferred, which deemed his content “family-friendly,” is also understandable; it’s a shock that his channel was listed there in the first place, judging by his material.

However, the media labeling Kjellberg as a fascist or an anti-Semite, and purposely taking his videos out of context to fit that narrative, is not fair; it’s defamation.

Additionally, it undermines the credibility of the press.

With President Donald Trump claiming that any negative media is “fake news,” a situation where a slanderous piece of work can actually be deemed “fake” solidifies the argument. This is evident by the public’s reaction to the Journal’s attack on Kjellberg; while the Journal has long been considered a reputable news source, this one-sided report has caused many to turn away from them and from those that added fire to their flame.

The journalists who conceived the piece received so much hate that they privatized their Twitter accounts; the compilation related to the article has a massive dislike-to-like ratio.

More importantly, marking Kjellberg as the face of the alt-right movement — which he has unequivocally disavowed in numerous statements — is dangerous. It does exactly what the Journal and others accused him of doing: trivializing genuine racism and hatred.

He is a YouTube personality whose jokes went too far; aiming the dart at his forehead when there is an ample amount of actual neo-Nazis and racists scouring the Internet is a mistake.

Instead of pouncing on “edgy” comedy, the media should be focusing on real menaces.

Trump: ‘We Are Going to Deal with DACA with Heart’

by Kristina Vakhman

In a press conference on Feb. 16, President Donald Trump gave no definitive answer when asked about what he would do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, stating that it is “a very, very difficult subject,” because “you have these incredible kids — in many cases, not in all cases.”

DACA was enacted through an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. Under the program, children who entered the United States illegally before the age of 16 have the chance to stay in the U.S. to gain an education or a job.

Renewable protection from deportation is given to these individuals every two years under the conditions that they have no criminal record and are actively pursuing their studies or employment.

According to Pew Research, “more than 750,000 undocumented immigrants have received work permits and deportation relief” as a result of the program.

Central Connecticut State University is just one of a growing number of institutions moving towards the status of a “sanctuary campus” that could face these repercussions.

A sanctuary campus pertains to colleges and universities that adopt policies to protect undocumented students in a similar manner that “sanctuary cities” protect undocumented immigrants.

In December of 2016, President Mark Ojakian of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) wrote in a statement that he was “working with campus leadership, outside legal counsel and national immigration attorneys to understand all options and gather necessary information to make an informed set of decisions about the best path forward.”

Converting CSCU into “sanctuary campuses” was one of the choices President Ojakian mentioned being up for discussion.

He was not ready to officially designate CSCU with “sanctuary” statuses, saying at the time that it is “necessary to understand the impact of such a designation and whether it is appropriate for our system and all of our 85,000 students.”

CCSU Faculty Senate members also expressed their support, conveying in a December meeting resolution that they side with “all individuals on campus to exercise and enjoy in safety and security all of the rights and privileges appropriate to their status as students, staff, or faculty regardless of their immigration status.”

“We’re going to deal with DACA with heart,” said Trump. “The DACA situation is a very, very — it’s a very difficult thing for me because, you know, I love these kids. I love kids. I have kids and grandkids.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump threatened to revoke DACA.

His position has changed several times on the issue, with his stance in the Thursday press conference being another example of a pivot.

However, he has followed through on his vow to punish “sanctuary cities,” places in the United States that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation, by signing an executive order that upholds extreme immigration enforcement.

Despite court precedent leaving little room to force local governments to change, the Trump administration is calling for nationwide cooperation, promising to strip “sanctuary cities” of federal funding if they disobey the executive order.

Consequently, higher-education establishments that act as “sanctuaries” for undocumented students could be affected.

Currently, Connecticut legislators are working towards passing a bill that would grant undocumented students financial aid. It was struck down two years ago.

War and Peace in Syria

by Humera Gul

The “War and Peace in Syria” seminar at Central Connecticut State University was an informed and educated discussion about the ongoing war in Syria, where students were enlightened about the hidden truths.

The main speaker at the event, Joesph Daher, talked about the issues and continuous clashes in Syria.

Syria has been torn by war for more than five years. In March of 2011, pro-democracy protests erupted across Syria. The protests were meant to bring true democracy to the country.

The protest was said to have started when several Syrian teenagers were arrested for painting revolutionary slogans on walls. After this form of written protest, riot police in Syria opened fire on peaceful demonstrators and ultimately killed several people.

As this continued, people loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fought against the democratic people.

“In Syria, most people are considered conservative in their religious belief, but this does not mean they want to live in a religious state,” said Daher.

Syria’s conflict is divided by three armies: the Syrian Regime, the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Syrian Regime army is a strict Shia group that does not want the people to be democratic. The Syrian Regime wants al-Assad to rule. They are relentless in their murders, and have used many illegal weapons against their own people.

The Free Syrian army is comprised of people that reject the dictatorship and want a free country.

ISIS is a terrorist group that is mostly comprised of Sunni extremists. Members of the group tend to finds shelter in unstable governments.

“I feel that the conflict in Syria has been one of the most tragic failures of democratic progression in recent history, as well as a failure of global cooperation to curb human atrocities,” said Central Connecticut State University student Dante Parleche. “I think that the United States is unsure on how to proceed, which has only worsened the situation in Syria.”

Countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have also dealt with the Arab Spring revolution.

Most Arab countries took part in World War I and lost.

After the end of World War II, France and England were destroyed, and they left the Arab countries to rebuild their homes.

The leaders France and England elected, who were foreign to these countries, were left to take on the responsibilities and problems of each respective country.

These leaders and their heirs are the ones being overthrown today across the Arab peninsula.

The Free Syrian Army forces are creating more division today, acting as a more hierarchical and structured rebel coalition.

The United States has been preventing the provision of certain weapons to Free Syrian Army groups, as they are seen as harmful to the Syrian people rather than helpful.

Hazbeins, people of Hazbollah, blame this conflict as a Sunni revolution, and compare the situation with Iraq’s past revolution.

In Syria, the issue is not social, economical or political. Rather, they have a sectarian issue which is not getting resolved.

“Any occurrence of oppression crosses, at least it should, any sort of cultural difference and I believe that as a human being, these actions should not be permitted,” said Parleche.

Many countries continue to oppose each other today; Iran, Russia and Hazbollah as a resistance and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and some Western countries are for a reinstituted country.

The problems in Syria today continue, along with others across the Middle East.

Russian Spy Ship Spotted Near Groton

by Humera Gul

CCSU Students Hold School Supplies Drive

by Angela Fortuna

The Central Connecticut State University volleyball and football teams are arranging a school supplies drive on Saturday, Feb. 18 to help the Smalley Academy in New Britain.

Smalley Academy is an elementary school located in downtown New Britain, and school supplies are running low this year. This is the first year the teams have arranged a school supplies drive for Smalley.

“We saw a need and decided to put together a school supply drive,” said head volleyball coach Linda Sagnelli.

The teams are looking for supplies such as crayons, glue sticks, pens, colored pencils, loose-leaf paper, binders, folders, notebooks, erasers, dry erasers, scissors and markers, although any school supplies will be graciously accepted. Every donation will help students in need.

Donations will be welcomed during the Saturday doubleheader in the lobby of Kaiser Hall at the women’s basketball game that begins at 1 p.m. and the men’s basketball game that starts at 3:30 p.m.

“I, along with my staff, have been organizing the event,” said Sagnelli. “We are hoping to bring much needed supplies to the young students at Smalley.”

According to the Blue Devils Athletics webpage, “the teams are holding the school supplies drive to help replenish the school supplies at Smalley Academy and make the school year easier for the students and teachers.”

“The Student-Athletes on my team volunteer in the classrooms of the fourth and fifth grade, as do the players on the football team,” said Sagnelli. “Our athletes enjoy assisting the classroom teachers and working with the young students in areas such as math, reading, and writing.”

The drive is being sponsored by California Pizza Kitchen, Costco and Staples.

“Once we collect all of the donations we will organize them and then on Friday, Feb. 24, we are bringing all of them to California Pizza Kitchen at 8:30 a.m.,” said Sagnelli. “Members of the Volleyball and Football teams, as well as the staff of California Pizza Kitchen, will then be packing individual bags, hopefully full of new supplies, to be handed out later that day, at 10:30 a.m.”

The CCSU Volleyball team also set up a GoFundMe page to support Smalley; any donations are appreciated.

“Our relationship with Smalley Academy is our way of trying to have a positive impact on our community,” said Sagnelli.

School of Education and Professional Studies Receives Major Donation

by Angela Fortuna

The School of Education and Professional Studies (SEPS) received a generous donation of $1 million from an anonymous source.

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, students and faculty of Central Connecticut State University were informed of this.

The donation “will establish an endowed scholarship fund for students enrolled in its teacher preparation program,” said CCSU President Zulma Toro.

“The gift will be used to underwrite scholarships for CCSU students preparing to become teachers,” said Dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies Michael Alfano.

The scholarship will be available to students of all grade levels enrolled in the teacher preparation program.

The teacher preparation program at CCSU is very well-known and highly ranked in the state of Connecticut. The program was accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

“Our teacher preparation program has been ranked as the best in the state, so this wonderful gift will enable us to better support students in that program, and as a result, enhance the quality of education in the State of Connecticut for generations to come,” said Dr. Toro.

“SEPS is recognized as a leader in both education and other human service fields, including nursing, counseling, and social work,” as stated on the SEPS webpage.

This generous donation will be beneficial for many years to come by providing financial support to students wanting to pursue their careers in education.

Since the need for teachers continues to grow, it is important to find more students who want to pursue careers in the field of education and professional studies.

Teacher shortages across the United States have grown over the years.

According to a poll performed by The Washington Post in 2013, teacher satisfaction has declined by 23 percent since 2008, going from 62 percent of teachers being very satisfied to only 39 percent, the lowest level in 25 years. 51 percent of teachers reported undergoing great stress many days a week, an increase of 15 percent from 1985.

This lack of teachers instigates a greater need for educational instructors.

“A member of the family who donated the gift had a background in teaching,” said Alfano. “They recognized the importance of the contributions teachers make to our society and wanted to be able to provide those interested in pursuing a career in public education financial assistance in realizing their career goals.”

The $1 million donation will serve as the largest donation to SEPS in CCSU history.

The largest donation given to CCSU was in 2014 by philanthropist and calligrapher Huang Chang-Jen, who passed away in 2012. $6.5 million was given. The money was put into the C.J. Huang fund and was used to build a new student recreation center, attached to Kaiser Hall. $3 million of the donated amount was split evenly between the School of Business, the School of Graduate Studies and the School of Education and Professional Studies.

Anyone who wishes to donate to SEPS or any other school at CCSU can through the school’s individual website.

“On behalf of the University, I want to express our deep gratitude for this magnificent and transformational contribution,” said Dr. Toro.

Breaking the Tie – Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Trump’s Secretary of Education

by Sarah Willson

Betsy DeVos took the oath of office around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, confirming her as the next White House secretary of education.

This occurred after a Senate standoff and a historic tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

The 51-50 vote was established after Democrats debated through the night in hopes of persuading Republican senators to ditch their vote.

Democrats argued that they needed “Just one more!” to eliminate the Republican vote, but ultimately failed to do so.

Mike Pence called his ballot “the easiest vote I’ve ever casted.”

President Donald Trump was upset by the protests, tweeting that “it is a disgrace that my full Cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country. Obstruction by Democrats!”

DeVos has been criticized by the public as being “unfit to serve” after her affirmation hearing that took place on Jan. 17. She argued that one school in Wyoming should consider bearing arms on school premises for protection from grizzly bears.

DeVos has also been denounced by educator unions for her lack of experience with public schooling. Many fear she will take public education funding and use it to build up charter schools across America.

After the vote, DeVos tweeted  “I appreciate the Senate’s diligence and am honored to serve as @usedgov Secretary. Let’s improve options and outcomes for all US students.”

Democrats, including Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, were concerned about Trump’s pick, especially when it came to caring for students with disabilities.

“You put those two things together, lack of compassion for what’s happened to places like Sandy Hook and an inability to just understand the basic law around vulnerable students and it was clear at the end of that hearing that this was someone who shouldn’t be the secretary of education,” said Senator Murphy to CNN earlier on Tuesday.

One Central Connecticut State University student was also concerned with Trump’s pick. Andrea Sanchez, a sophomore majoring in International Studies, questions if DeVos will be a good pick because of her lack of experience regarding public education.

“She has no prior experience in any public administration,” said Sanchez. “She never even went through any public school systems. I don’t see how she’s at all qualified. [DeVos is] someone who has no idea what people go through to get a public education. Not knowing anything about it herself isn’t giving her anything to work with.”

More than anything, Sanchez says she’s most concerned with the future of public schools and worries that all of DeVos’s energy will be poured into helping charter schools, which receive private funding from tax dollars.

While Sanchez agrees that not all charter schools are harmful, she believes that they are not ultimately what’s best for everyone.

Sanchez also addressed the issue of whether firearms should be allowed in schools.

When asked about DeVos’s plan to allow guns at a Wyoming school for use as protection from grizzly bears, Sanchez called it “a little extreme,” believing that carrying a firearm on school premises “poses a certain danger to everyone.”

In the meantime, DeVos currently has no formal plans to promote firearms on school grounds and plans to visit public schools starting Feb. 10.

CSCU Gets Hit With Budget Cuts

by Lorenzo Burgio and Lauren Lustgarten

After realizing that years of cutting costs and services is not a feasible solution to the financial challenges Connecticut has been facing, on Feb. 8, Governor Malloy released his proposed budget for 2018. This budget consists of a 4.4 percent cut to the Connecticut State Colleges and University (CSCU) system. This cut represents a decrease of approximately $25 million to the total allocation.

CSCU President Mark Ojakian released a statement following the announcement of this proposed budget.

“Our state has faced significant fiscal challenges for some time and there was no indication that this year would be different,” said Ojakian. “Over the last year and a half, we have made many tough decisions to live within our means while always putting our students first.  However, responding year after year by cutting costs and services is not a viable solution to the shrinking budgets we know exist in the foreseeable future. We must do our part to develop a long-term plan for our system that is realistic, predictable and sustainable in the future and provides our students the opportunities they need and deserve.”

CCSU professor and chair holder in public policy Don DeFronzo believes this budget is significant, but the outcome remains undetermined at this point.

“Where this all falls out is probably a little premature to determine, but it is a significant cut and there will probably be some negative impacts across the system,” said DeFronzo. “The governor’s budget is balanced with the assumption that there is going to be $700 million in the union concessions from all the various state employees and without that $700 million in concessions, that sets up a potential situation where perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of employees will be laid off and that could have a far more detrimental effect to the university system than any other part of the budget. It’s a real daunting process no matter how you look at it. Certainly that aspect of the $700 million in union concessions, which is planned for but not at all determined yet, is the real ticking time bomb in terms of what might happen.”

CSCU educates 45 percent of Connecticut’s college-age population, while almost 75 percent are employed in the state within nine months of graduation.

“I believe that the 4.4 percent budget cut to the CSCU system is detrimental to not only students who cannot afford a tuition increase, but also to the longevity of our state,” said CCSU Student Government Association Treasuruer Brendan Kruh. “I know that as we raise the cost of attending our public institutions, we will be pricing out a demographic of disadvantaged students.”

“The fact of the matter is, 30 percent of our high school graduates leave the state to attend college elsewhere. As we increase tuition, we can expect that this number will grow larger,” said Kruh. “Students who attend college out of state are more likely to attain employment near where they went to college, than they are to return home. If we continue to increase the cost of tuition out state is in serious jeopardy of losing students whose public education is an investment in our state’s economic future.”

In a statement released on Feb. 8 by Matt Fleury, the chief executive officer of the CSCU system, it was stated that he asked Ojakian to develop a management recommendation for the Board in order to close the proposed deficit in the biennial budget, but “there remains no credible reason to treat these circumstances as temporary.”

The recommendations aim “to streamline the administrative process that frustrates staff and students to re-direct all possible resources to serving and teaching,” wrote Fleury in the statement. “They will be a good start, but not remotely the full solution.” The CSCU system plans to have all recommendations in order by July 1 to move forward with the plan.

“What is needed in 2018 differs greatly from what was needed in 2011 when the system was created. The needs of our students are different, our economy is different and the state resources available to support higher education are different,” wrote Fleury in the statement.

“The Governor’s proposed budges is the beginning of a long conversation realated to the budget,” said CCSU’s chief financial officer Charlene Casamento.

His Majesty, King Trump

by Kristina Vakhman

Glimpses inside of President Donald Trump’s residences in New York and Florida say a lot about his tastes. Baroque furnishings and decor, all adorned with gold ornamentations, showcase a sort of “monarchical” preference. One feels as though they’re peering at the internal construction of an eighteenth century palace. The homes are fit for a king.

Consequently, these rich displays give off an impression of a narcissistic character. However, there is more to the embellishments than simply defining the president’s supposed arrogance. They present the hypothetical scenario of Trump viewing himself as an actual monarch rather than a democratic leader of a constitutional republic.

There is evidence. For one thing, Trump sees no conflict with interlacing his private business affairs with his duties as president. Like a king abdicating his throne to the prince, Trump has relinquished his empire to his sons, yet maintains a voice in its dealings. More royally, he has given his children and family members titles of political advisors; they attend meetings with foreign leaders in whose countries Trump has business ties. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was recently cleared to be his senior political advisor, despite the anti-nepotism statute barring him from this civilian position.

Additionally, Trump’s cabinet appointments have been based more on wealth than experience. Much like the aristocrats whom kings would surround themselves with, Trump’s nominees all have receipts for the exuberant amounts of money they’ve either donated to his foundation or to the Republican party.

For example, his pick for the Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is a businesswoman whose family has contributed approximately $20 million to the right-wing and whose knowledge of public education is null. She and the rest of Trump’s choices represent the top tier of social class.

There is also the issue of Trump’s admiration for authoritarian rulers like Russian president Vladimir Putin. He has gone so far as to openly praise the leader while criticizing the effectiveness of former president Barrack Obama. He has no regard for Russia’s interference with the 2016 election or Putin’s crimes, instead viewing their potential friendship as an “asset.”

There are similarities to monarchs of greater alarm. History has shown authoritarian regimes undermining the integrity of the media and facts. Trump and his spokespeople incessantly attack the “dishonest media,” ignore intelligence reports and scientific evidence supporting the existence of grave issues like global warming and invent “information” that promotes their agenda. The mention of “alternative facts” made by the counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, is one famous example.

Monarchs swept unethical behavior under the rug to purify their divinity; Trump does the same, as shown by his suspicious refusal to release his tax returns. Authoritarians created scapegoats to draw away from their own faults; Trump has targeted immigrants and foreigners as the causes for most, if not all, of the United States’ problems. Kings crushed verbal or physical opposition; Trump has threatened to cut federal funds to a college because of its peaceful-turned-violent protest against his views, a move that, if it was legal, would destroy financial aid for thousands of students.

Trump is also following the steps of monarchs in terms of issuing executive orders. Within two weeks, he has already signed more than Obama did in his first few days in office. Should he continue at a rapid rate, he could reach the ranks of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II who put forth an average of 690 royal decrees a day.

The United States broke away from England to avoid monarchical rule. Trump’s lack of respect for democratic institutions and regulations could lead the country back to living under the reign of a king.