Category Archives: News

Facebook Murderer Found By Police Before He Committed Suicide

by Christie Stelly

Steve Stephens, the perpetrator of a disturbing murder committed in Cleveland, Ohio, killed himself after being pulled over by police last Tuesday afternoon.

On April 16, Stephens shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. The murder can be seen in a graphic video uploaded and shared on Facebook.

In the video, Stephens’ states, “Found me somebody I’m going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude.” Stephens then exited his car and began talking to Godwin before shooting him in the head.

The video, shared by millions of Facebook users, sparked a nationwide manhunt. There were billboards and photographs posted all over the country with a photograph of Stephens.

There is evidence on Stephens’ Facebook that may provide the motivation behind his anger. In a Facebook post, he blamed the murder on a woman, Joy Lane, who is believed to be his ex-girlfriend. His post read: “three years I spent with this b****… I wish we never met.”

In the disturbing video, he asks Godwin to say his ex-girlfriend’s name before pulling the trigger. “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you,” Stephens said in the chilling video.

Two days later, Pennsylvania police received a tip from a fast-food worker at a McDonalds restaurant, who recognized Stephens in the drive-thru lane. Stephens was told that he had to wait for his french fries, a tactic used by the employees to stall Stephens from leaving the parking lot while they called police.

Stephens was impatient and left the scene in a hurry. Soon after, police spotted him in a White Ford Fusion with temporary license plates and eventually cornered him on Buffalo Road. Once police walked over to the vehicle, Stephens shot himself.

“We’re grateful that this has ended,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. “We would prefer that it had not ended this way because there are a lot of questions, I’m sure, that not only the family, but the city in general would have had for Steve.”

The graphic video remained on Facebook for approximately two hours before staff took it down. Facebook has been criticized for not removing the video quick enough.

“We have a lot of work and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like these from happening,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

In a Facebook post by Stephens, he claimed that he has killed 15 people in total. Police have yet to confirm any of the 14 other supposed murders.

According to the Associated Press, Godwin was killed while he was walking on Cleveland Street, collecting aluminum cans, which was something he did often. “Not because he needed the money, it was just something he did,” said Debbie Godwin, the victim’s daughter. “That’s all he was doing. He wasn’t harming anyone.”

Stephens was working at a behavioral health agency as a counselor for teenagers and young adults. According to sources at NBC News, Stephens’ friends described him as a “good guy.”

It is unclear why Stephens murdered an innocent man in cold blood, and the public and Godwin’s family may never get the answers that they want and need. Stephens is the only one that could have given an explanation for his cruel killing and since he is gone, the public will never know.

CCSU Students React to United Airlines Incident

by Sarah Willson

United Airlines is set to testify at an upcoming United States House Transportation Committee hearing after a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight on April 9, in order to make room for crew members.

According to CNN, the 69-year-old passenger, Dr. David Dao, who was forcefully removed from the aircraft, is filing a lawsuit after suffering a concussion, broken nose and the loss of two front teeth, said his attorney.

The airline, which is facing severe backlash from the public, was quick to apologize to Dao, saying they “continue to express [their] sincerest apology to Dr. Dao,” and “cannot stress enough that [they] remain steadfast in [their] commitment to make [the situation] right,” according to an article published by CNN on April 10.

The airline made a claim on April 18 saying no one will be fired after the incident.

Despite the apology, fellow passengers on the flight were still upset by the violent turn of events.

“Had they just tried some diplomacy, none of this would have taken place,” said one man who was on the flight when the incident occurred.

One passenger tweeted at United, saying they had “no words” for the “poor man.”

CCSU students were also outraged after the violent removal.

“I was very shocked to hear how they handled it. After seeing the video, I felt nothing but sympathy for the doctor,” said computer science major Justin Wanciak. “I find it despicable that people could just sit around while that happened to him.”

Moryam Badiru, a junior majoring in social work, agreed.

“I thought it was just horrible”, said Badiru. “He paid for a ticket to go somewhere and he just got dragged off, bleeding on the airline.”

“Nobody’s going to want to fly with them,” said Badiru, referring to United Airlines.

When asked about how the airline could have better handled the situation, Badiru said the problem could have been solved by avoiding overbooked flights.

“If a flight is overbooked, they shouldn’t still be selling tickets and seats,” said Badiru.

At the very least, Badiru believed that the overbooked passengers should be put on the next flight out to their destination.

Although agreeing that overbooking was the issue, Wanciak had a slightly different approach as to how United could have better handled what happened.

“De-escalation training should be essential for officers or security as a first line of protection. If an individual can be coerced to calm down or comply, it resolves the situation before conflict,” said Wanciak. “Sure, they offer money as compensation, but some things are more important than that.”

“Dr. Dao should not have automatically been forced off, and should not have been manhandled to the point where he had been bloodied,” said Wanciak. “Understandably, people are going to be really angry when they are thrown off a plane they paid for, so why not have better contingencies for it?”

More than anything, both students agree that United Airlines is in the wrong.

“It makes no sense,” said Badiru. “Who does that?”

“United Airlines is without a doubt in the wrong with this one,” said Wanciak. “There are so many other techniques that people can employ to try and convince people to give up their seats.”

The date has not been set for the upcoming U.S. House Transportation Committee hearing.

The airline has made no further comments on the incident.

2017-2018 SGA Senators: What Do You Plan To Accomplish Next Year?

by Angela Fortuna

At-Large Senators:

Victor Constanza: “I want to keep my promises in what I said when I was running. First, I want the “Paper-Boy Initiative” to be passed. This will create a personal connection to students when we give out information about events and what is going on with the school. This will require senators to actually go into public and go up to students one-on-one. Second, I would like to reform the liaison program. We have to actually go to club meetings, so the SGA knows what these clubs are about, what they are doing exactly, and help them with whatever they need. Lastly, we need to improve upon community engagement. We have to participate with all clubs to help the students of New Britain, since the town does not have a high graduation rate. We should take it upon ourselves to help.”

Stephen Dew: “My re-election to senate will focus on three focal points. First, we must join with the other schools in the CSCU system to coordinate our efforts to challenge the state legislature and system office when it comes to tuition [and] fees. Second, we must introduce a student alternative to the bookstore, to help lower the cost of textbooks. And third, we must really do more to lower the barriers to club funding, to give every organization and student the best possible chance to succeed and meet their potential.”

Damar Britto: “For those who don’t know, I have a four-point platform, dubbed the STAR Platform. It stands for scholarships, tuition grants (for undocumented students), active senate and finally relationships with organizations. I plan to have these ideas pushed, especially scholarships and tuition grants, by becoming the chair of the Student Life Committee within the SGA, as one of its focuses is scholarships.”

Jailene Nazario: “Next year, I want to keep a strong relationship with students and faculty, so I can focus on open resource textbooks and on the issues that students come to me with.”

Joseph Carangui: “I am delighted to be representing the student body at CCSU once again. I believe I got re-elected because my platform connected with students. Therefore, I intend to make the positive impact that I campaigned for, which is to continue to have this organization host wellness events and increase the amount of money in SGA scholarships that [are] available to all undergraduate students.”

Brianna Rose: “I plan to raise awareness of the barriers CCSU students face while trying to attain an education to better their quality of life. Research shows that most colleges are unequipped to service vulnerable students. This is a deterrent in the college success of students who come from difficult backgrounds such as first-generations, immigrants, foster care or homelessness. As a senator, I will use my power to be an advocate for myself and others like me, whose pathway to college was not simply just a journey, but a fight.”

Flavja Muka: “I am excited to represent the student body as a new voice on the senate. I plan to encourage students to become more involved in the SGA and CCSU community. It is important to have each student feel heard and empowered. Therefore, I plan to have a positive connection with the clubs and organizations on campus. I believe the senate can make a powerful impact on student life, so I will do my best to represent all students.”

Jessica Aguilar: “I’m very thankful to have received the opportunity to represent the student body at CCSU. As an SGA member, I want to create better communication between students and organizations on campus. Also, I’ll strive to have an open mind in students’ concerns and ensure that students’ needs are met on campus.”

Resident Senators:

Amanda Gorman: “I am excited to be serving the students for another year. I plan to assist in changing scholarships to make them more accessible and larger in both quantity and quality.”

John Coleman: “My plan for this coming year is to work with the Academic Affairs Committee to provide a high-quality educational experience to all CCSU students. The one thing that all students have in common is education, so addressing academic issues benefits everyone. In particular, I’d like to address two issues: college affordability and the advising process. I want the senate to be strong advocates and earn the trust of the student body.”

Kelly Hernandez: “One of my main goals is to be a voice to cultural-based clubs as well as other clubs on campus that are often overlooked. As a member of [the] Latin American Student Organization, the Ebony Chorale Ensemble and a host of other clubs, I know what issues seem to hurt clubs across the board and I wish to stop it. Another goal of mine is to help represent student athletes. The student athlete population is another group that is severely underrepresented in student government and I hope to change that.”

Akai Long: “As a senator of the Student Government Association, I plan to create a better connected campus. To create a better connected campus, I have come up with a two-part plan: the first part is to better connect the SGA with state and local governments. As is stands, the SGA has put the minimum amount of effort to advocate on behalf of students. The second part is better connecting the SGA to CCSU students. I plan to go to as many hall councils as I can because as a resident senator, I want to hear as much feedback from residents as I can.”

James Angelopoulos: “My mission is to improve the environment of the university. If we can improve the environment and culture to show off the talented and big members of our campus, I believe we can get more students to come to CCSU and slow down the tuition growth. I also want the hard-working clubs on campus, who make a point of getting involved, to receive more funding to promote a stronger environment on campus.”

Jacquelyn Daniels: “As resident senator, I will encourage more communication between the student body and the SGA, so that every student receives the representation they deserve. I plan to collaborate with clubs and organizations to increase involvement and promote more events. I also hope to extend dining hall hours through a petition, if students continue to express interest in this plan. I will advocate for the SGA to increase scholarship funding, to give more students greater chances and a wider variety of scholarships.”

Thomas Mitchell: I ran for the SGA to do one simple thing: finish what I have started. In order to do such, it is my mission to acquire a golf cart for the student government in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of events on campus. Many initiatives can come from this golf cart, such as the SGA Designated Driver as well as the SGA Meals on Wheels. Aside from that, I want to promote an open source textbook platform as well as advancing the academic technologies within majors to create a generation of future experts coming from CCSU.”

Jared Sales: “While on SGA, I want to make sure that all resident senators are going to their hall councils at least once a month and asking their constituents what they want SGA to do for them. Personally, with senator Akai Long and any other senators who join me in the future, will go to every hall council at least once a month. I will join the Student Life Committee and dedicate myself to working on mental health and other aspects of the committee.”

Commuter Senators:

Dajana Sejdiraj: “I want us, as SGA individuals, to work with different clubs and to create amazing things on campus that can benefit everyone. For example, I would want to work with all the science- and technology-related clubs to create a single solar panel umbrella that students can use to charge their laptops and study outside. I would want to start with just one and see how successful it would become before expanding upon it. I want to work with the LGBTQ [community] and create gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. I want to work with CAN and create fun promo items such as free ponchos for everyone to use on a rainy day when walking to classes.”

Sedina Begic: “A few of the things I plan on doing next year as a senator are to implement Wellness Week in the fall, since one is already in the spring. Also, themed months to increase the wellness of students as well as getting the SGA’s name out there. I would like to invest in a career closet. If it’s approved, we can rent out a small area somewhere in the library or student center and provide business casual attire for students who may need to rent it in cases of job interviews or internships, etc. One final thing I plan on doing is just being more accessible to anyone with questions through text, email and in-person meetings.”

Gabriella Bierwirth: “This upcoming year, I have a lot of goals that I would like to accomplish with the SGA. Besides simply making sure that senators get more involved with clubs and their events, I want to try and host more awareness weeks and activities in which different cultures, religions, ethnicities and clubs can host games and activities to raise awareness of who they are as well as address micro-aggressions. I want to eliminate a lot of the tension seen within the SGA and ensure that we are working together as a group to help as many people as we can. I especially want to increase involvement within the entire campus and build a stronger connection with the rest of New Britain.”

Estefania Maya: “Next year, I want to create stronger relationships with the clubs and students. I hope to support the other committees on senate and the new e-board with their future endeavors and by volunteering my time, planning events and communicating with students. I strongly believe that, in order to better represent the students, we must know what issues they face, whether that be funding or academic struggles. This can only be done if we take time to check up on the clubs and students.”

Kassandra Fruin: “I want to help provide our campus with more accessibility to all students, a better sense of campus community and advocate for affordability. My own challenging life experiences have given me a strong desire to want to give back. I pride myself on advocating for a more inclusive and welcoming campus. Identifying with the LGBTQ community, I understand the fear of safety on campus, in our community and country as a whole. I will fight for a strong stand on social justice issues and fight for a safer campus. The Student Government needs to be proactive in ending the stigmas related to mental health and help aid our students into the right direction when it comes to proper funding. Along with accessibility, the cost of attending CCSU is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. We are experiencing a time that tuition is going up four percent and we need student leaders to advocate for an affordable education. I will provide the guidance and experience as a returning senator the SGA needs to be of larger benefit to students.”

Dante Solano: “By the end of the next semester, I look forward to the implementation of an SGA climate survey.  This survey will give students the opportunity to grade the work of the SGA along with making their voices and concerns heard. I await the opportunity to make sure that we, here in the SGA, fund clubs and organizations in both a fair and responsible fashion. I hope to soon meet with some of our administration to discuss the safety of students during the winter and campus policies for emergency weather situations.”

Christopher Theriault: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Jose Diaz: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Sawera Hussan: “I’m honored to be re-elected as a senator for the SGA to continue representing the student body. My initiatives are to increase club funding, advocate for affordable higher education and provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone at CCSU.”

Sabrina Morin: “I am very pleased to be a re-elected senator here at CCSU.  As a senator next semester, I am hoping to bring better communication to campus, end stigmas and spread mental health awareness as well as resources here on campus.”

Tiffany Aguilera: “I ran for senate this year to hear the voices of students and to make this campus a more inclusive community, especially for those who have disabilities. I have noticed that students, especially those who have disabilities, don’t participate as much in club activities or events that occur on campus. I would like to change that by working closely with Student Disability Services, the Wellness Center and the Women’s Center. Although details aren’t fully worked out yet, I would like [to express] that I plan to dedicate myself to this and to make it my mission for the next academic year.”

Jalal Butt: “I plan to help steer the academic affairs committee in the path it has been directed to over these past two years. This involves the facilitation of CCSU course transitions to open-source resources, expansion of the plan to increase course transparency through online syllabi and an increase in academic mapping reliability.”

Mariano Cardoso: Unreachable for comment at this time.

Natalia Rozio: “I am extremely excited to represent commuter students on campus and be a part of SGA. Next year, I hope to connect SGA with the Transfer Office to make the transferring process for future students smoother and less frustrating. I also plan to make commuters feel more comfortable on campus by introducing commuter-based events throughout the semester.”

Third Annual ALS Walk At CCSU

 

Doug Somers (third in from the left) is presented with the John F. Rice Jr Award inside the Quad

by Corey O’Neill

On Sunday April 23, the third Annual ALS Walk was held at Central Connecticut State University. Co-hosted by Phi Delta Theta CT Alpha Chapter and Student Government Association , the event yet again had another great turnout.

“The turnout was amazing,” said Phi Delta Theta brother Fares Hashem. “I’m proud of everyone for coming out. We worked hard together to make this event successful.”

This year’s award was named the “John J. Rice, JR. Award,” after a CCSU Alumni and New Britain resident who passed away due to ALS in 2014.

Rice’s widow, Diane Dalenta-Rice presented the award to Doug Somers, whose business CT Building and Restoration, gave a $250 donation, the largest of the day.

An opening and closing ceremony for the event took place in the Quad of CCSU. There were many food booths at the ceremony, while the walk participants were able to partake in games and activities.

A $20 minimum donation was asked for to participate in the walk, and those who donated $75 or more were given an ALS Walk t-shirt.

“ALS is such a devastating disease that affects millions of people worldwide,” said Phi Delta Theta brother Gabriel Ramos. “Raising awareness is the least my brothers and I could do in our effort to address this issue.”

Members of the Phi Delta Theta and SGA participate in this year’s ALS Walk

According to Jacob Vincent Goulas, a brother of Phi Delta Theta and SGA Senator, it was very important to the chapter to get an ALS awareness walk to CCSU.

“We as a chapter in the past would go to ALS walks around Connecticut and show support. Then, our chapter noticed that our local community included people who had ALS or had even died from ALS,” said Goulas. “We started the walk over three years ago, and now we carry the torch each year. This walk is growing and has been gaining more attention over the years.”

The first ALS Walk at CCSU took place on April 18, 2015. The walk has been a success each year since. For this year’s walk, Phi Delta Theta set a goal of raising $4,000. This goal was easily reached, with $5,266 being collected in donations.

Phi Delta Theta is already planning on how to make next year’s walk even bigger and better. “We need to spread the word more,” said Ramos. “We get a lot of support from a number of local businesses already, but expanding our reach is the best way to make our walk better.”

ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 15 people on average are diagnosed with ALS every day, and there is still no cure for the disease.

Made famous by legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, he brought attention to the disease in his iconic 1939 “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” retirement speech. Gehrig was a member of Phi Delta Theta. The chapter honors Gehrig by choosing the ALS Association as their national philanthropy.

All proceeds from this year’s ALS Walk, as well as all future walks, will go to the ALS Association. The proceeds will be benefiting those who suffer from this terrible neurological disease.

For more information on how to help in the fight against ALS, please visit the ALS Association’s official website, http://www.alsa.org.

Neil Gorsuch: America’s 113th Supreme Court Justice

by Sophia Contreras

Neil Gorsuch was successfully appointed as the new Supreme Court justice on April 11 by Republicans bypassing Democrat’s filibuster and voting on majority versus the required sixty votes, something they will regret according to Central Connecticut State University political science professor Paul Petterson.

“The Republicans will come to regret the nuclear option in the long term. If the Democrats come into control, they will be more likely to use the same tactics and force someone down the Republicans’ throat, just as they did,” said Petterson.

Gorsuch was sworn in on Monday by Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden. Gorsuch is taking recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia’s place in the Supreme Court.

“No two justices are the same, as a number of presidents have learned; sometimes, when an individual gets on the Supreme Court, they behave differently than people expected. Being on the court can change people, and once a person is there, the person can’t do anything about it,” said Petterson.

Gorsuch is expected to sit on various controversial cases, including cases concerning federal funding and the church, immigration status and criminal cases concerning minors.

“Gorsuch definitely opens the door for conservative majority,” said Petterson.

On the morning of Gorscuh’s appointment ceremony, President Donald Trump expressed his pride in having Gorsuch join the Supreme Court.

“I’ve always heard that the most important thing that a president of the United States does is appoint people, hopefully great people like this appointment, to the United States Supreme Court, and I can say this is a great honor.” said Trump. “The American people have gotten to know, respect and truly admire our newest member of the United States Supreme Court.”

Being Muslim In Connecticut

 

by Humera Gul

Central Connecticut State University held the event, “A Conversation with Connecticut Activists, Being Muslim in CT,” this past Monday, that incorporated four Muslim panelists and a Muslim moderator.

The event started with Ms. Samia Hussein, a CCSU alumni and President of Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, an organization aimed at bridging the gap between Muslims and other faiths and communities.

“25 percent of Muslims in America are African-American Muslims and 60 percent of Muslims in America are born in the United States. There is a campaign rhetoric to show Muslims are mostly from Middle East and they are a threat to the American way,” Hussein said, to the students who filled Memorial Hall.

Student Government senator, President of the South Asian Student Association and active Muslim Student Association member, Sawera Hussan then took to the podium.

“Conversations like these are so vital and it’s important for everyone to stand together against oppression of any marginalized group,” said Hussan.

The moderator, Dr. Saud Anwar, a physician who specializes in lung disease and critical care medicine, serves as a Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine of Manchester Memorial and Rockville General Hospitals.

The panel consisted of Mrs. Mubarakah Ibrahim, Mrs. Lejla Duric, Mrs. Shazia Chaudhry and Dr. Khamis Abu-Hasaballah.

Ibrahim is a health and fitness expert with 20 years of experience in the personal wellness industry.

Duric is a community organizer and the youth coordinator at the Boston American Islamic Cultural Center of Hartford.

Chaudhry is the Director of Community and Family Relations of the Alzheimer’s Resource Center of Connecticut, and Abu-Hesaballah is assistant Vice President for Research IT Services at UConn Health.

“When people talk about Muslim, they think of this angry young Middle Eastern man and is that who we are?” first asked the moderator.

“You just have to look at the group of panelists to see how diverse Muslims are,” said Khamis, who is an Arab American.

“Why don’t Muslims condemn attacks committed by Muslims most often?” then asked the moderator.

“I don’t understand why I have to condemn attacks committed by Muslims. If I don’t publicly condemn the attack, people make me feel like I did the attack. The FBI states that Christian Males are the highest percentage of perpetrators of domestic terrorism. Does every Christian condemn an attack every time?” said Ibrahim.

Duric also stated that she is against anyone that causes harm, whether it be physical or emotional.

“Sarah is a young Muslim girl at CCSU and she was carrying a heavy backpack to school. Her teacher noticed Sarah was carrying a lot of stuff in her backpack. She was carrying her school stuff, dolls, toys and a blanket. The teacher asked Sarah, ‘why are you carrying all these other items with you?’ Sarah said, because I have been told that my family will have to leave and Trump will kick us out. I have all my stuff and I just want to make sure I have my toys when I have to leave,” said Hussein, recalling a story.

 

The War on Drugs Will Never Work; Decriminalization Will

by Kristina Vakhman

In 1971, President Richard Nixon waged a “war on drugs” in an effort to curtail drug use among American youth. Since then, the United States has resorted to prohibition, believing that aggressive drug bans will reduce and prevent drug-related crime, addiction, incarceration, death and disease. Yet, the opposite has occurred.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46.3 percent of inmates are currently imprisoned because of drug offenses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse approximates that more than 50,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2015 alone, and states that diseases such as hepatitis and HIV continue to rage, spreading through unhygienic methods like unsterilized needles.

Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Scott Pelley on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the United States’ war on drugs led to “failed policies and failed practices.” Considering the costly results of these efforts, the federal government should look for an alternative approach in combatting drug use.

That alternative is the decriminalization and legalization of all illicit drugs. This may seem like a disastrous choice. However, in Portugal, it has worked.

In 2001, Portugal’s government decriminalized and legalized all drugs, no matter the classification, in response to a growing heroin problem. Instead of a being criminally charged, those caught with less than a 10-day supply of hard drugs are taken before a special court of legal experts, psychologists and social workers. In the place of incarceration, a small fine or community service, as well as rehabilitation and treatment is provided.

Today, Portugal has one of the lowest drug-usage rates in all of Europe. The British Journal of Criminology found a significant reduction in the imprisonment of alleged drug dealers, from 14,000 in 2000 to 5,000 in 2010, as well as a decrease in the imprisonment of addicts, which fell from 41 percent in 1999 to 21 percent in 2008.

The Washington Post reported that “there are three drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens” in Portugal; as a comparison, 44.6 per million die in the United Kingdom. Drug-related diseases, like HIV, have decreased, “while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialize,” as stated by the Transform Drug Policy Institute.

By focusing on treatment rather than punishment, Portugal has given its citizens the opportunity to rehabilitate and contribute as functioning members of society. Consequently, the demand for drugs falls as the number of users declines.

In the U.S., certain states are moving towards reformation instead of incarceration. The New York Times reported Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to combat the wild opioid epidemic in New York City, where $38 million a year would go to programs including “expanded methadone and buprenorphine treatment for addicts” and “a focus at city hospitals on dealing with addiction and overdoses.”

That is what the U.S. needs. The current system is a complete failure; the concept of the war on drugs is ridiculously ineffective. It’s time to look for an alternative model, and Portugal has proven that its model works.

Hernandez To Seek Appeal

by Brennah Dallaire

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, was acquitted of first degree murder charges on Friday, in the killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. While Hernandez’ attorneys work on a case for appeal of his 2015 conviction, speculation about his future circulate.

Abreu, 29, and Furtado, 28, were gunned down outside of the Boston nightclub, Cure. The shooting was in response to a supposed altercation inside the nightclub after Abreu bumped into Hernandez on the dance floor, spilling his drink.

The prosecutor’s explained that Hernandez and friend Alexander Bradley left the club, followed the victims by car, pulled up next to them at a stop light and opened fire on Abreu, Furtado and three other men. One other man in the vehicle sustained an injury but survived.

After making an immunity deal with the Suffolk District Attorneys Office, Bradley went on to testify that Hernandez had in fact shot and killed the victims. Bradley is serving time in prison in Connecticut for involvement in a Hartford nightclub shooting. Bradley believes Hernandez is involved in a shooting in Miami in 2013, that left Bradley blind in one eye.

However, jurors found that the burden of proof was not met. Hernandez was found not guilty on the first degree murder charge, but was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Judge Jeffrey Locke sentenced him to four to five years in prison on top of his life sentence without parole, at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013.

Surveillance video and texts messaged show Hernandez and two friends pick Lloyd up from his home the night of his murder. Texts messages between Lloyd and his sister showed Lloyd wanted her to know who he was with referring to Hernandez as “nfl.” Other surveillance footage from that night show Hernandez with a gun at his North Attleboro, Massachusetts home. Lloyd was shot and killed in an industrial park a half mile away from Hernandez’ home.

Hernandez’s attorneys felt that they have a strong case for appeal. Hernandez’s defense attorney, Jose Baez told ESPN “I wish he’d called me [for the first trial].”

“I think there are plenty of flaws in that (Lloyd) conviction. If they are exposed properly, he certainly can and should get a new trial,” Baez said.

Not all parties are happy to hear that Hernandez may have a shot at getting out of prison. Although he was found not guilty on the most recent murder charges, the families of the victims found comfort in the verdict knowing that Hernandez would stay in prison.

“At least he’s not walking out the door today,” is what Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley told ESPN family members of the victims said.

The appeals process can take years. Hernandez’s defense team would have to prove that Judge Susan Garsh made mistakes in the Odin Loyd case, that impacted his receipt of a fair trial.

According to Sports Illustrated, those injustices could not adequately explain to the jury the definition of extreme atrocity and cruelty in the first degree murder convictions. The jury came to the conclusion that the murder was not premeditated, but was of a cruel nature warranting first degree murder.

There is a possibility that the court will hear his appeal in the Lloyd murder case. However, Hernandez would still serve four to five years for the unlawful possession of firearms conviction; unless this charge is appealed and vacated as well.

Retired NFL Hall of Fame player Cris Carter, told TMZ Sports that he does not think Hernandez will ever play in the NFL again, even with a successful appeal.

“I doubt he would ever play again in the NFL…if he was in any other industry besides the rap industry he wouldn’t be able to get work,” said Carter.

In 2013, the Patriots released Hernandez less than two hours after his arrest. The team quickly distanced themselves from the investigation and Hernandez who had no previous behavioral or criminal issues.

A prison record doesn’t necessarily mean athletes can’t return to play in professional sports. Michael Vick served 18 months in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to operate a dog fighting ring.

Shortly after, Vick was reinstated to the NFL and began playing with the Philadelphia Eagles, then went on to play for the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring.

 

US and Syria Update

by Sarah Willson

The United States has dropped more bombs and killed more civilians in Iraq and Syria this March than any other month on record, according to an independent monitoring group. 

In Iraq 268 strikes were carried out, while 434 were carried out in Syria within the month of March, killing as many as 3,471 people.

This statistic involves data from the U.S. airstrike on Syria’s Shayrat airbase, launched on April 7, which destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian government’s operational aircraft and killed six people.

Although some may be satisfied with the fact that President Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promise to target ISIS, one Central Connecticut State University student is not so sure this is the best option.

“I’m for and against [the U.S. airstrike],” said Andrea Sanchez, a student majoring in international studies with a concentration in the Middle East. “I don’t agree with over-involvement by the United States because it seems that we always make things worse.”

“From a humanitarian standpoint, I think it’s a good thing not just because it was that the U.S. got involved, but because international intervention needs to happen in Syria because there is a huge humanitarian crisis on its civilians,” said Sanchez. 

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have also been on the rise since the airstrike. In a recent statement, Trump said that U.S. relations with Russia may be at an “all-time low.”

“I think they already kind of did [impact the U.S. and Russia relationship],” said Sanchez about the airstrike. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin called off a meeting last week with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

“I think it’s kind of interesting that he didn’t meet with him,” said  Sanchez. ”I think that already speaks volumes.”

When asked about the Syrian people, Sanchez stated that the only way to bring them peace would be “if there was some international coalition to stop Bashar,” because “he will do anything to stay in power.”

Sanchez also believes that the U.S. should accept Syrian refugees. 

“We’re bombing a country for killing civilians but we don’t want to take the civilians from the country that’s being bombed,” said Sanchez. “It doesn’t make any sense why we would not accept them, especially if we’re bombing their airfield.”

“Taking in civilians would help the cause because it would send a message to the the whole world to join together instead of turning them away,” said Sanchez.

Along with this, the U.S. is also struggling to decide who to take out first— ISIS or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

“I think the most imminent danger is Assad at the moment,” said Sanchez. “It’s not that one is less evil than the other, I think they’re both equally as bad; I just think that Assad has more means to create a more catastrophic effect on its people.”

For the U.S., this problem ultimately leads to the question of whether or not the U.S. should continue to enforce military actions against Syria.

“You’re almost one and done” said Sanchez, regarding the airstrike. “It didn’t really help anything.”

The U.S. has proposed no further military action on Syria, but Press Secretary Sean Spicer says it is not off the table. 

For now, the White House says its priority above all is defeating ISIS, contrasting the UN Ambassador to the U.S. Nikki Haley, who claims there cannot be peace in Syria until Assad is defeated. 

US Drops Most Powerful Non-Nuclear Bomb on ISIS

by Angela Fortuna

In an attempt to send a message, the United States military dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan on April 13.

Afghan officials originally reported 36 deaths near the Pakistani border, but later confirmed at least 94 Islamic State fighters were killed, including four commanders, according to CNN.

The U.S. military estimated that 600 to 800 active ISIS fighters were in the area at the time of the attack, at 7:32 p.m. local time.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, or MOAB, nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” weighed 21,600 pounds and stretched 30 feet long, according to U.S. military officials. The GPS-guided bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft controlled by the Air Force Special Operations Command.

The MOAB is capable of destroying an area equivalent to nine city blocks, according to CNN.

The MOAB proved to be successful in targeting an ISIS cave and tunnel complex, along with military personnel. The bomb destroyed three underground tunnels, weapons and ammunition, without civilian casualties, according to CNN. Intense surveillance had been conducted to prevent any civilian deaths before the dropping of the MOAB.

President Donald Trump described the attack as a “another very, very successful mission.”

This attack has caused many to contemplate the repercussions of the incident for the U.S. Tensions between the U.S. and other countries, particularly North Korea, have grown since the attack.

The North Korean military threatened the U.S. on April 14, stating plans to carry out an attack on a major American military base in South Korea, according to the New York Times.

Shortly after, North Korea launched a missile test that failed within seconds. This outcome means the U.S. has no reason to respond to the incident, according to Vice President Mike Pence. If the missile test in North Korea proved to be successful, there is no way of knowing what kind of damage it could have caused, or if the U.S. would have been directly affected.

Since the missile test in North Korea did not involve nuclear weapons, the U.S. felt no need to take notable action.

The dropping of the MOAB has certainly drawn attention to the rising conflict between the U.S. and ISIS. Potential retaliation by ISIS is currently unpredictable.