Is the Fracking Business Really Worth It?

Operating oil and gas well profiled on sunset sky

Hodalis Gaytan

hodalisgaytan26@gmail.com

Copy edited by: Brett Levenstein and Kevin Qiao

Research edited by: Jared Bernhardt

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

Throughout society and history, we have seen a range of topics and concepts that have been called into question by an assortment of individuals and groups. These individuals and groups debate about specific topics and how their effects are either “wrong” or “right” for society.  For instance, we have seen how the privacy and ethical rights of women are debated for the topic of abortion, the relationship between second amendment rights and gun control, and many other similar debates. To this day, there continues to be a various amount of topics that cause for much deliberation among different groups and parties. But there is one debate in particular that is starting to take rise; the debate of fracking. Both sides of the argument have been debating about the ethical and economic issues that come along the process of hydraulic fracturing.[1] Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a new technology that is used to extract natural gases from the earth with a drilling technique that, “has made it possible to retrieve deposits of methane gas trapped in formations of shale rock thousands of feet below ground, fossil fuels that had heretofore been considered inaccessible.”[2] The whole idea behind the process of fracking is that it provides the world with cheaper oil and fossil fuel. Although this incredible innovation has surprised the world and given us a large amount of job opportunities and cheap oil, it has unleashed a large amount of controversy due to the many issues, such as groundwater contamination, environmental hazards, air pollution, and many more factors. But of lately, I have been asking myself about the economic impact that fracking and all its factors have on today’s society. How exactly does fracking affect our country’s wallet and its users? And as a society, should we be more concerned about the economic issues that fracking has on our pockets? I strongly believe that fracking should not take place because it causes more harm than good. Not only are the large amounts of released toxins affecting the environment but they are also contaminating our drinking water.[3] Water alone is such an important asset for not just us, human beings, but also for other living things. If we continue to contaminate the few things that we need to survive, then how will the world continue on without this element of survival? Also the economically effects of fracking have caused for so much money to be given to “clean-up” projects that take place after the process of fracking. Fracking waste adds weight to transport trucks and causes roads to become damaged and unusable. Because of this, the government must take our money to repair these damaged roads. I strongly believe that the positive outcomes of fracking do not outweigh the negative ones. As a society, we need to realize that the effects of fracking do not only affect our planet but it also can effect with our way of survival.

 

 

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Should online daily fantasy sports be considered illegal?

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By: Brett Levenstein

Copy Edited by: Lizbeth Yorio and Sean Cotnam

Research Edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

One of the most hotly debated laws in recent memory is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006  .[1] This internet gaming bill, signed into law by President George W. Bush, made most online gambling, such as online poker, illegal. An exception was made for online daily fantasy sports because lawmakers concluded that these games require skill rather than luck. This exemption became controversial as many do not believe this allowance should have been permitted.

This debate was sparked by a 2015 scandal involving two of the major online daily fantasy websites, DraftKings and FanDuel. It was revealed to the public in print, broadcast, and electronic media that these two websites employed workers who, “were placing bets using information not generally available to the public”.[2] These employees would take inside knowledge that they collected from working for one of these companies, and use it to place bets on a rival company’s website. Having access to which players were most selected for lineups provided the employees with a huge advantage when wagering on a competitor’s website.

This fraudulent activity lead to outrage across the country regarding whether or not these fantasy sports websites should, in fact, be legal under  .[3] In addition, many others are infuriated that a majority of the money won from fantasy gaming websites is claimed by the top 1% of players.[4] If such large sums are claimed by a minority of players, should these websites be legal?

Why should they be legal?

Fantasy games require skill to be successful. It takes a lot of work to select the perfect lineup. Each player’s strengths and weaknesses must be evaluated to determine if each player should be selected to start— past performances, injuries, team records— among other things that need to be considered. This is why there is such a large gap between who wins and who loses at fantasy games. Those who conduct the most research and take the most factors into account when forming their teams, tend to win the most. While those who only pick fantasy players, based upon their favorite or home team, tend to lose. Therefore, it would make sense that the top percentage of money makers continue to win the most, as these users tend to be the most skilled at selecting players.

But what about the luck involved?

There is a huge part of online daily fantasy games that involves luck. The person who is placing the bet has no control over the outcome. They are completely relying on other people’s performance in sports to win them money. There is also the possibility that someone could select a lineup full of random players and still win. This circumstance would obviously demonstrate a lucky guess rather than skill. These situations all support the idea that online fantasy games are games of chance, and thus should be considered illegal under current gambling law.

The major caveat

There is one major caveat to the entire scenario. Currently, online daily fantasy games run without congressional regulations. The online gaming websites have the ability to police themselves. Self-regulation leads to the possibility of more improper conduct, similar to the scheme that emerged in 2015. Many congressmen, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, have argued that the lack of regulation in this industry is dangerous, and leaves the door open for insider trading and cheating.[5] Congress is considering regulations to make sure that fantasy gaming websites fall under their control to prevent further scandals.

The bottom line:

Online daily fantasy sports are a game of skill, and consequently legal under The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. While there is a component of the games that is random luck of the draw, it takes skill in order to select the best possible lineup in order to consistently win.

 

 

The Damage of the Game

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By: Dominique Croons

Copy Edited By: Lizbeth Yorio, Anna Salomon Pasapera

Research Edited By: Jared Bernhardt

A dangerous game

The nation’s favorite football game has now come with a price.  Along with the victory of scoring a touchdown or winning the Super bowl, there is a tragic end. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, is a disease that is commonly found in former or current football players.  CTE is the result from multiple concussions or blows to the head. According to Protect the Brain.Org, CTE is described as “a progressive degenerative disease which afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports, members of the military, and others.” More than 30 football players have been diagnosed with this disease. Even though new rules and regulations have been put in place for the NFL, these new precautions cannot stop this drastic and life changing disease from occurring overtime.

For the love of the game

Although new information has been researched about CTE and new rules and regulations have been put in place, there is still an opposing side to this: the players.  According to the USA Today article ‘some NFL players still willing to hide concussions’ by Howard Fendrich many of the football players refuse to tell the coach or physical trainer that they have a concussion.  They shake it off and continue to play even though there is a dangerous and fatal outcome.  Maurice Jones-Drew states in the article “Hide it”, when asked if he would play with a concussion or decide to sit out.  He continues his response stating that “You have to be able to put food on the table. No one’s going to sign or want a guy who can’t stay healthy. I know there will be a day when I’m going to have trouble walking. I realize that”.  Like Maurice, many other football players agree that this is what they signed up for and they know the benefits and effects of the game.

The innocent ones

The people that are most affected by this critical and life threatening disease is the innocent ones: the families.   Most of these families are collateral damage when it comes to football players diagnosed with CTE.   Most of these football players are deceased mostly because of suicide.  According to an article in Buffalo News called ‘NFL players, families are coming to grips of the dangers of repeat concussions’ written by Jerry Sullivan, many players are worried about the surrounding people that are being affected by this.  The article states “So deep down, even while laughing off the possibilities, the current players worry.  They worry about their families”.  Most of these football players, some who are first time fathers, are afraid that this game will take so much out of them that they won’t be able to play with their kids after the game or career is over.   Fred Jackson a running back for the New England Patriots state in the article “My wife is the one who really, really worries about it. But it’s the game I love to play, and I’m trying to do everything I can to make sure that isn’t me”.  Although some players take precaution when it comes to concussions, their families still worry deeply about what can possibly happen.

A college student opinion

As Brian Westbrook’s, a former NFL Eagles running back, little cousin, hearing news like this is very effecting.  Of course I heard many times “the love of the game” or “football isn’t what I do, it’s who I am”. I soon realized that football players do know about the information; they just don’t care about it.  Although an unhealthy player is very crucial in any professional sport, the greater outcome of this disease is more serious than a game.  Football players need to be mature and responsible and own up to their concussions so that they can get better not only for themselves but for the people around them.  I also think that there should be more rules and regulations about concussions in the NFL because it has become a serious problem. Players need to understand there is a life after football.

There Are Virtually NO African-American Women in STEM: And Here’s Why

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By: Ariana Bailey

Copy edited by: Amanda Hirsch and Maggie McPherson

Research edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

Working in STEM allows you to figure out ways to enhance the future of technology and medicine. The field is also known to be financially stable with low unemployment rates. STEM is a field that provides the perfect combination of practicality and innovation. Other fields of work usually can only provide one or the other.

That’s why I decided to major in animal biotechnology when I enrolled in college. I knew that this major wasn’t a popular choice. However, when I sat down with my academic advisor and learned that you could count the number of black girls with the same major on one hand, it’s safe to say I was quite surprised. It wasn’t just my major that had an extremely small amount of black female participation, this trend permeated throughout all fields of STEM and at all levels of higher education. The number dwindles even more when looking at the amount of women with higher-level positions in STEM jobs.

The Numbers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a survey conducted in 2014 on American college freshman who were attending 4-year universities and intended to major in science or engineering. Out of all the African American/black females who were surveyed, only 5% were planning on majoring in engineering and only 2% were planning on majoring in math or computer science. These percentages are pretty low in comparison to those of African American men, among which 14.6% were planning on majoring in engineering and 6.8% were planning on majoring in math or computer science.[1] Based off of this sizeable gap, it is clear that African American women are reluctant to pursue STEM at a college level.

The NSF also released data in 2016 showing that black women comprised 10% of all women who earned a bachelor’s in science or engineering[2] and 9% of all women who earned a masters in the same areas.[3] The proportion decreases significantly when looking at all women who have earned doctoral degrees in science or engineering, with black women comprising less than 3% of that population.[4] Black women with STEM doctorates also comprised less than 4% of all women with STEM doctorates in the STEM workforce.[5]

Why So Few?

I am an African-American woman who plans on having a successful career in biotechnology. When I retire and look back at all of my achievements, I want to be able to say that I not only changed the face of science and medicine, but also opened doors for other black women who wanted to do the same. But before I do that, I must understand what factors are causing so few black women to pursue STEM in the first place.

Of course, the first factor that comes to mind when determining how to be successful in STEM is educational attainment. However, in the case of black women in America, educational attainment truly isn’t the problem. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, African-American women are one of the most educated demographics in the United States. Between 2009 and 2010, black women earned 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees and 65 percent of all doctorates awarded to black students.[6] We can see that educational attainment isn’t the reason why black women aren’t moving forward in STEM, many other individual and environmental are at play here. I believe that the classroom and workplace environments are greatly implicated in the deficiency of black women in STEM.

The Culprit

Black woman are definitely tokens in the STEM field and will often be in environments where they are one of a kind, and much like any other environment with a major and minority population, stereotyping and discrimination are bound to occur. Stereotyping isn’t just stressful on a personal level, but can also implicate a person’s ability to establish the networks necessary for doing well in difficult classes or advancing to higher positions at work. Stereotyping can also cause the ideas of black woman to be overlooked in the classroom or workplace. Majority groups tend to over-scrutinize the behavior and performance of a token classmate or employee.[7] Being black and a woman in a white-male-dominated field like STEM can be extremely stressful because you are constantly trying to prove that you are just as knowledgeable and innovative as your co-workers or classmates, even though you are obviously qualified. The combined stress from a discriminatory workplace and a strenuous workload of STEM could cause any person to decide to pursue other endeavors.

It’s up to people like me, the of black women in STEM on campus and on the job, to speak up about tour personal discriminatory experiences, and promote an inclusive space for future black female scientists and engineers.

Stop and Frisk; Stop or Continue?

By: Levan Ungiadze

Copy edited by Dominique Croons and Brett Levenstein

Research Edited by Brett Levenstein

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

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What is Stop and Frisk and why is it important?

During the first presidential debate between Hillary R. Clinton and Donald J. Trump, the New York Billionaire suggested that violence in Chicago is even worse than that of Afghanistan, and called for stop and frisk, which is a policing tactic that has been widely condemned as racial profiling. Stop and frisk gives police the power to detain and search people if there are specific reasons for suspicion. Critics of this practice claim that there is often no specific evidence and that it disproportionately affects minorities.[1] It is extremely important to consider that the U.S. District Court judge ruled this practice unconstitutional. Still, the topic has been brought back up by the presidential candidate Trump, and hence the conversation has once again opened. Even though stop and frisk was ruled to be unconstitutional, should the US still practice it?

Racial profiling and its negative consequences?

In the federal class action lawsuit Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al, “Floyd focuses not only on the lack of any reasonable suspicion to make these stops in violation of the Fourth Amendment, but also on the obvious racial disparities in who is stopped”.[2] (gramma-Dominique) Since 2002, New York residents have been subjected to over 5 million cases of stop and frisk, and “Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports”.[3] Out of these 5 million stops, approximately 85 percent were either Black or Latino, even though these two groups together only make up 52 percent of the city’s population. For many, such obvious racial profiling “constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”.[4] For example, in 2006, New Yorkers were stopped by the police a total of 506, 491 times. Out of these, 90 percent were totally innocent, 53 percent were Black and 29 percent were Latino, while white people only made up 11 percent of the stops.[5]

Such blatant racial profiling can possibly stem distrust of the police force in the Black and Latino communities and will turn a structure that is supposed be a symbol of help and hope into something feared. In case of emergencies, many might not seek for help of the police because of mistrust or some might decide to run from them even when innocent due to the fear of their words not having enough weight.

Violent crime decline and its possible reasons?

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, Ray Kelly claimed that the streets of New York are much safer now and that is true, violent crimes fell 29 percent in New York City from 2001 to 2010, but no research has tied this decline to the stop and frisk regime. In those years “large cities experienced larger violent crime declines without relying on stop and frisk abuses: 59 percent in Los Angeles, 56 percent in New Orleans, 49 percent in Dallas, and 37 percent in Baltimore”.[6] Hence, the stop and frisk practices in New York did not decrease crime rates and the reason for the 29 percent drop needs to be found in other variables such as growth in income, lower unemployment rates and decreased alcohol consumption.

Bottom Line

As someone who has experienced this practice firsthand, I can certainly talk about the negative sides related to stop and frisk. I was once stopped without any real reason while walking back home from a friend’s apartment. Since I had already heard from a couple of my friends just how roughly they were treated, I did not question anything the police told me, and I simply complied. They patted me around, laughed, emptied my backpack onto the ground, and once done searching, did not pick anything up. The whole experience was morally demeaning as I was put in a situation where I was being treated unjustly, but couldn’t do anything about it. I knew how any hint of struggling would be used completely against me. In conclusion, not only is stop and frisk unconstitutional, inefficient, morally wrong and promoting racial profiling, it also leaves the victim with a distrust of the police force and divides communities. Bringing such a hurtful regime back would be a mistake.

What Is the Cause of the Gender Pay Gap?

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By: Amanda Hirsch

Copy Edited by: Kevin Qiao and Maggie McPherson

Research Edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

On average, for every $1.00 a man makes, a woman makes $0.79.[1] This is an issue in the United States that does not go unrecognized. It is constantly brought up in politics, studied by experts, and petitioned by citizens. However, the reason behind it is not understood. It is important for citizens to comprehend where this gap comes from, so we can make changes to narrow it.

Before the 1960’s, job ads in the newspaper would specify whom they wanted for their jobs. They would say explicitly whether they wanted a male or female employee, and the male would almost always be listed for the higher-skill job. These listings would also include different spots within one organization, just offering the man a higher salary than the women for the same positions. On June 10, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, making it illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job strictly because of their sex.[2]

Unfortunately, the problem was not solved in 1963. Over the past decades, the United States has failed to close the gender pay gap between men and women due to the industrialized discrimination against women in the workforce. The perspectives of economists, experts, and the rest of society all vary on how this discrimination translates into distinct causes of the gap.

The Technical Cause

Economists use the human capital theory to explain the gap. This is a calculated system that revolves around the idea that education, training, and work experience can increase productivity. Economists use this idea to rationalize the wage gap by breaking down the change in variables of women’s work and how the variables affect women’s salaries.[3] Many argue against this theory and state that it does not take social norms and individual variables into account because it is based on such a large-scale calculation.

Devaluation

Many women believe their work is simply devalued. Society builds social norms that their work is worth less than men’s, which is translated into the decisions employers make. A shocking two-third of workers in low-wage jobs such as child care and health aides are women.[4] This is not necessarily because these are their dream jobs, but because when more women move into a field, the reputation and wages of that field decline.

Women’s Choice

Many think that the gap is simply caused by women gravitating toward less-respected jobs. Some women do this because they are in denial of the discrimination; however, some simply choose a lower-wage job because they want to. Other women end up choosing these jobs because of the gender socialization they grew up with–that they should be nurturing and caring.[5]

Lack of Accommodations

Unfortunately, many jobs are not flexible when it comes to accommodations regarding part-time hours and maternity leave. The United States is one of the only countries that does not offer paid maternity leave. If women need to go on maternity leave or work part-time to care for their children, jobs often lower their income and/or position. Because of this, women tend to choose lower income jobs that offer intermittent leave.[6]

The Bottom Line

The gender pay gap exists because women’s jobs are devalued. Once women enter job fields, those fields’ pay go down, and the jobs gain weaker reputations. It is very difficult for women to leave these jobs once they are in them. This cycle widens the gap because women are consistently being paid less and losing respect, while men remain in high skilled jobs with growing incomes. Even if women are working in high salary jobs, there is still a lack of leadership positions for them. Despite the job or the position in it, women’s work is devalued and viewed as less skillful than men’s, ultimately widening the gap.

Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton vs ???

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By: Stefon Wytner

Copy edited by: Amanda Hirsch and Jared Bernhardt

Research edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The presidential election can be an exciting time for people who are ready to either vote in the next president or to keep the president from the previous term. Technically speaking, anybody over the age of 35 that was born in the U.S. and has lived in the U.S. for 14 years can run for president. There are also multiple parties who run for president, however, we only seem to talk about the democrats and the republicans.  Third parties have always been that other side of the presidential election that gets ignored.  The two main third parties are the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.  While these are the most well-known minority parties, they are never a real factor in the election.  At this point, will a third party candidate ever become the president?  Clearly not any time soon because there has been little representation of these parties in the past elections and the current election.

Historic Evidence

There is a possibility that a third party candidate will never win the presidential election.  The only parties to win the election that weren’t the democrats, republicans, or the democratic-republicans were the Union Party, the Federalist Party, and the Whig Party per PresidentsUSA.[1]  This may give people hope that a party other than the democrats and republicans could once again win the election. It is not easy to compare the past political parties to the ones now. The Whig and Federalists parties went under decades ago.  The Whig Party, unlike the Federalist Party, still exists today.[2]  They are extremely minor, to the point where they don’t have a presidential candidate in this election.  The Whig Party has not had a candidate in decades.  The Federalist Party and Union party no longer exist since the country is no longer in a civil war.  Not only that, but over the last few elections third party candidates only accumulated less than 5% of the popular votes via The Washington Post.[3]  This leaves over 95% to the two main candidates.  There’s nothing hopeful in those numbers.  What’s the point of even voting third party if their chances of winning are this low?

Current Evidence

Even with all the talk of how bad the two main candidates for the current election are, polls by Real Politics and NBC show that the percentage of votes for third party candidates is only expected to go up to about 10-12% in the upcoming election.[4][5]  Now while that does show improvement that might make some say that minority parties are on the rise, it still leaves a majority of the vote to two candidates who many think aren’t suitable for American presidency.

Despite their lack of attention, third party candidates are always interesting.  This year we have Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party.  These candidates aren’t getting enough exposure to outshine the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton saga.  Eventually we will get back to having respectable candidates for American presidency and third party candidates will be forgotten again.  It hasn’t happened before and it isn’t going to happen now, so why have any hope for the future?