Newsroom Roundup

This month of September we had our fantastic bloggers spill the tea—good and bad. What’s going on in our country?! JMU community? The world!!

First, let’s start with our September 7th Newsroom:

International Election News: Mail-in Voting and International Election Observers

An intelligence bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security warns that Russia is attempting to sow doubt about the integrity of the 2020 elections by amplifying false claims related to mail-in voting resulting in widespread fraud, assertions that have been repeatedly pushed by President Donald Trump, according to documents obtained by CNN. President Trump has used the bully pulpit to undermine public confidence in the election, alleging — with no evidence — that 2020 is going to be the most “inaccurate and fraudulent election in history. In his interview with CNN Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr doubled down on a conspiracy theory that foreign countries will print large numbers of counterfeit absentee ballots and send them to voters. However, when asked if he had any evidence or research to support this theory he claimed to be basing it off of “logic” However, despite America’s history of exporting this practice around the world, many jurisdictions within the United States itself have shied away from international observers to fully monitor their own elections. International observers can offer a more impartial, nonpartisan review that can both verify the legitimacy of American elections by international standards and recommend steps that the country can take to improve its electoral system.

National Election News: Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick and More on Mail-in Voting

On August 11th, Joe Biden announced that Kamala Harris (the US senator from California who originally ran for the democratic nominee) would be his running mate in the 2020 election. She was the San Francisco District Attorney where she oversaw more than 1900 marijuana-related convictions, though she now believes it should be decriminalized She was then the Attorney General where she opposed a bill that would have required the attorney general’s office to investigate police shootings or issue statewide standards for police body cameras. She then became a US Senator which was a change of pace, and was considered one the most liberal of all senators and she introduced 131 bills to congress including the Disaster Victims Passport and ID Relief Act, Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, MORE Act- Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, and the Census Equality Act- get a precise count of LGBTQ+ Population. During the primaries she became a Democratic Presidential Candidate, but she quit early because she didn’t see a road to the presidency. And more recently she became the Vice President Nominee.

Mail-in Ballots are becoming the new norm for 2020 because of the pandemic and social distancing measures and whatnot President Trump has claimed without evidence that mail in ballots may purposely be manipulated to be sent to Democratic areas and not Republican areas. Trump has also claimed baselessly that mail in voting will lead to voter fraud, and yet the self-proclaimed president of law and order who is truly, sincerely concerned about ballot integrity and reducing the risk of voter fraud, has an innovative new approach to making sure the election is fair and square: illegally encouraging his supporters to illegally vote twice– once through the mail, and once in person.

Local Election News: Voting in COVID-19 and Virginia

If you are displaced during the semester due to COVID or some other reason: Check your voter registration. Vote early in-person at your local registrar. If you will not be at the address where you are registered on November 3, 2020 then you can request an absentee ballot before the deadline (10/23 in Virginia) from the local registrar where you are registered and return your ballot by mail. If it is before the registration deadline (10/13), update your voter registration to reflect your change in living address and vote in person or by mail at that address. Check & update your voter registration, request to vote by mail or register to vote in Virginia at https: www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/. You will need your address, VA Driver’s License number or State ID number and social security number. If you live on campus & you’re registered in Harrisonburg you can vote at campus precinct (Convocation Center).

On September 14th, these stories were in the headlines…

National: Trump admits to concealing the true threat of coronavirus

He admits in Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage” that he downplayed the seriousness of the virus even though he knew it was extremely deadly. Quotes: “I wanted to play it down… i still like playing it down”

“The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault- China let the damn thing out.”

International: Disney’s Remake of Mulan Sparks Anger in China

Disney’s remake of Mulan missed the mark in China, where currently citizens are protesting police brutality and the communist government. The lead actress came out and backed the Chinese Government, saying ““I support the Hong Kong police, you all can attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” Fans around the world are also upset with Disney’s choice of location, which was Xinjiang. Xinjiang has been a place of mass repression and prosecution of the muslim faith, and Disney’s decision to film there and not take a stance against this fact or the protests against communsim speaks volumes on their values as a company.

Local: #DoBetterYoungLife

This Christian organization is facing backlash on JMU’s campus and beyond for exemplifying heteronormative practices and discriminating against group members who identify within the LGBTQ community. Testimonies from JMU YL members include stories of being told and encouraged to repress any homosexual feeligns/behaviors, having leadership positions withheld due to sexual orientation, accused of being a legal liabilty, etc. Directors of JMU YL refuse to make a formal statement. 

National: Body Positivity on Tik Tok

Brooklyne Webb goes viral for reacting to hate comments against her body with fun, positive videos of her dancing and embracing her own body. Creators like this are sparking an entire movement. Social media has typically ostracized those who don’t fit the typical beauty standard- not anymore! Out with the old and in with the new!

September 21st, our bloggers hit us with some more news!

International: Topless feminist protest in museum Paris, France (09/12) 

A woman named Jeanne was prevented from entering a famous museum in Paris, Musée d’Orsay, due to what she was wearing. She alleged that four staff members prevented her from entering the premises until she changed clothes or covered her cleavage. She did comply to be able to enjoy the museum, but later took to Twitter with a photo of her outfit along with an open letter to the establishment. It was only after going viral on social media, did the museum respond on Twitter with the following: “We deeply regret this and offer our apologies to the concerned person, who we are contacting.” Other respondents on Twitter feel that this response was inappropriate and failed to take responsibility. This controversy lead global feminist group, FEMEN, to stage a topless protest in the statue gallery at Musée d’Orsay with quotes written on their bodies such as, “Obscenity in in your eyes,” and “This is not obscene.” Paraphrasing quotes from Jeanne, she wonders if these employees knew the extent to which they had sexualized her and if it was a decent decision to deny her access to knowledge and culture based on her appearance. 

National: Netflix show Cuties sparks controversy by oversexualizing young girls

This French film has gained controversy in the US when Netflix aired it this month. This movie follows eleven year old Amy as she struggles to find balance between her conservative Muslim values and new Parisian culture. Amy becomes part of a dance group with some girls in her grade at school where they show off to each other new dance moves they have learned from watching American music videos. This film gained controversy in the US due to the provocative dance moves and clothing these young girls wear. The film maker has said she drew from her previous experiences and was trying to bring to light the oversexualization of young girls in our culture instead of promoting it. 

 National: Trump administration attempting to Ban TikTok & WeChat apps in US

TikTok, founded in 2016, has quickly become one of the most used social networking apps in the United States, despite its origins in Beijing, China. The platform focuses around sharing short videos about music, culture, politics, and almost every other topic you can imagine. TikTok facilities important social discussions and information for the younger generations. WeChat is an app that is essential to people in the world’s most populous nation, China. Residents of China are unable to use Facebook, Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, and many other popular apps in the US. WeChat functions are a multipurpose tool for social networking, messaging, and processing payments. With the restrictions soon to be imposed, WeChat will become unusable in the US. The Trump administration is targeting these two apps because they were created in China and he believes that they pose a threat to national security by allowing the Chinese government access to American information. 

Local: JMU’s plan to return to on campus classes October 5th

JMU has planned to open October 5th and has set slightly stricter rules to try and reduce covid cases. Discussion around the risks of doing this and if it is with the students’ best interest in mind. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away September 18, 2020. 

Her granddaughter reported some of RBG’s last words,”My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Finally, we finished up the month with these stories:

National: Trump moves forward with Supreme Court nomination

Trump moved forward with his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as RBG’s “replacement”—if such a thing could even exist. If appointed, the Supreme Court would have a 6-3 conservative majority. According to NPR, “The Senate Republicans’ campaign arm began selling T-shirts with ‘Notorious A.C.B.’ emblazoned on them.”

Global: Women and COVID-19 in China

In China, according to BBC News, “A highly anticipated drama about Covid-19 has come under fierce criticism for downplaying the role of women during China’s epidemic fight.” Many of the female characters were cast in roles beneath their male castmates. Meanwhile, in real life in Wuhan, “Roughly two-thirds of the people who were front-line medical workers in the city were women.” What does this say about how women are portrayed in the media both in China and even in the United States?

Local: Protest for Breonna Taylor at JMU

On September 24th, JMU students held a protest in front of Wilson Hall at 4pm to express their outrage and solidarity over the verdict for Breonna Taylor’s murderers. Only one officer, Brett Hankison, was charged for anything—and it was for the bullets that entered the homes of her neighbors. The bullets that did not harm her.

Happy October! Stay spoopy.

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