Amy Brown

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Amy is a Hillman Intern and the Digital Media Assistant Managing Editor at the Prindle Institute for Ethics. She is a senior Honor Scholar and Political Science major with a Russian studies minor at DePauw University. She has spent time abroad in the Czech Republic and worked in Washington, D.C., and hopes to return to D.C. after graduation.

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"French Flags" by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

On Sunday, French citizens went to the polls and advanced Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to the next stage of their presidential election process, eschewing the traditional, mainstream parties that have long dominated French politics. For the first time in French history since the establishment of the Fifth Republic, neither a candidate from an established center left party nor the primary center right party advanced to the final round of the election. It is only the third time a candidate not representing one of those parties has made it to the second round.

The French public’s rejection of the historical mainstream parties is part of a larger global trend of rejecting so-called political insiders and electing far-right candidates, seen in the U.S.’s election of President Donald Trump in 2016 and the Polish election of the Law and Justice Party in 2015. Some reporters called this French election a referendum on Europe, as the European community reels from the blow of the Brexit vote in 2016.

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"N415UA United Airlines 1994 Airbus A320-232 - cn 475" by Tomás Del Coro is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

A video of a man being dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight appeared on social media last weekend, sparking outrage across the country and even the world. In the video, a man is shown being forcibly removed from the aircraft after being randomly selected to give up his seat for United Airlines crew members. Although United has since changed their policies, the fact that the incident happened at all raises concerns about airline procedures. In an industry that serves thousands of people per day, the context of the incident remains important to understand.

"Mercator 1569" is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

Schools in Boston recently decided to make the switch from the Mercator projection of world maps to the Gall-Peters projection, becoming the first American school system to do so. While seemingly uninteresting, making the switch from the Mercator projection is a step toward inclusivity and one that other schools should consider making.

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"Donald J. Trump at Marriott Marquis NYC September 7th 2016" is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

At 3:35am on March 4, President Donald Trump tweeted an accusation that former President Barack Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower prior to the election. Trump compared it to Watergate and called Obama “sick.” A spokesperson for Obama quickly and strongly denied the allegations, stating that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.” FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to immediately reject the president’s allegations on the grounds that it falsely implies that the FBI broke the law.

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"Grand Ballroom" by sergio_leenan is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 (via Flickr)

President Donald Trump has spent three of the past four weekends in Florida at his Mar-a-Lago resort, conducting political business from interviewing cabinet nominees, hosting the Japanese prime minister, and formulating a response to a North Korean missile test at the club instead of in Washington. On Saturday morning, the president went so far as to dub the establishment “the Southern White House” in a tweet. While the Trump family’s extensive travel has already sparked concerns, Trump’s decision to hold numerous political meetings outside the actual White House is raising serious concerns about access and security.

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"People's Climate March" by Alejandro Alvarez is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

After the January 21 Women’s Marches that clocked in at between 3 and 4 million participants worldwide, other rallies and marches to protest the new Trump administration have been planned in their wake. Amongst these emerging marches is the March for Science, in which scientists will march on Washington and in 11 other cities to advocate for public funding for evidence based research. While the march has gained approval from politicians, scientific organizations, and prominent scientists alike, some wonder whether or not scientists should be marching in the first place.

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"Women's March" by Voice of America is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

One piece of local advice to any newcomer to the D.C. metro area is this: avoid the metro like the plague during the Fourth of July, the Cherry Blossom Festival, or any major tourist-attracting event – especially an inauguration – unless you really, really want to be there. Getting in might not be an issue, but getting out can be next to impossible, unless you have the fortune to live within walking distance. I remember the time when I was fourteen that my parents decided to take me and my seven-year-old brother into the District for the Cherry Blossom Festival, only for us to be stranded and forced to walk two or more hours from the National Mall over the bridge into Virginia, in the hopes that the metro station in Rosslyn would be less crowded than those near the festival itself.

"Putin/Trump make Russia great again" by Charles Stone via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

President-elect Donald Trump’s comments on Russian President Vladimir Putin have been a hot topic of discussion for months now. Trump has praised the Russian president’s leadership skills, noting that a renewed US-Russian cooperative relationship would be beneficial to both countries and to the world, specifically when it came to fighting ISIS. A Russian hack on the Democratic National Committee that resulted in thousands of leaked internal e-mails may have also influenced the election in Trump’s favor, leading to questions about the Putin-Trump relationship and concerns over election ballot hacking. Now that Trump stands to assume the presidency in a little less than two months, many Americans wonder what our future relationship with Russia will be. In order to understand what may come in the future, it is important to understand the beginnings of the Russian Federation – and how the United States may have had something to do with Russia turning from the West in the early 1990s.

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"Vote" by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Voter turnout in America is infamous for being extraordinarily low. Consistently, between 50% to 60% of eligible voters actually turn out to vote in presidential election year; the number is even lower during midterm elections, when the election is perceived as lower stakes. The 2014 midterm elections saw a dismal turnout of 36%. In 2016, voter turnout was at a 20-year low, with 55% of the age-eligible population voting in the presidential election. This means that a very small percentage of the country actually votes for the winning presidential candidate, and/or the members of both Congressional chambers, and that nearly half the country does not participate in the selection process. Some countries have taken what appears to be a drastic approach to resolving this problem: compulsory voting.

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"Opened Oral Birth Control" by Bryancalabro is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Changes in mood, pain, depression, increased or decreased libido, and weight gain are all common side effects for women who choose hormonal birth control. Recently, news broke that a study of hormonal injections as birth control for men was stopped earlier than planned after men experienced various adverse side effects – all of which women have been experiencing for decades when using hormonal birth control. Due to these effects, the study was terminated earlier than planned.