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Emergency Oil Reserves Fall to Lowest Level Since 1984

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(Reuters)—U.S. crude oil stocks in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell by 1.6 million barrels in the latest week to 390.5 million barrels, the lowest level since March 1984, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday.

U.S. East Coast gasoline stocks fell in the period to 47.1 million barrels, the lowest level since November 2012, while refinery utilization in the region rose to 102.9%, the highest on record.

(Reporting by Laura Sanicola)




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Who Is Viktor Bout, the ‘Merchant of Death’ Arms Dealer Biden Traded to Russia For Brittney Griner?

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President Joe Biden on Thursday traded Viktor Bout, the notorious international arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death,” to Russia for U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested at a Moscow airport earlier this year with cannabis oil in her luggage.

But how exactly did Bout earn his nickname?

A former Soviet military translator, Bout supplied arms for deadly conflicts around the world by using his air cargo companies to smuggle weapons from Eastern Europe to Africa and the Middle East in the 1990s and early 2000s. Bout allegedly delivered surface-to-air missiles to Kenya for an attack on an Israeli airliner in 2002. And four years later, Bout reportedly met with Islamic terrorist organization Hezbollah prior to the Lebanon war. The “Merchant of Death” also had a “considerable commercial presence in Libya” during former leader Muammar Qaddafi’s reign, according to intelligence records found in the country in 2011.

U.S. officials under the Bush administration captured Bout during a 2008 sting operation in Bangkok, where the arms dealer believed he was meeting with Colombian narco-terrorist group FARC to secure the sale of 100 surface-to-air missiles and rocket launchers. Bout was extradited from Thailand to the United States in 2010 on terrorism charges including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, and conspiracy to kill U.S. officials. A U.S. jury sentenced Bout to 25 years in prison in Manhattan in 2011.

While Biden agreed to swap Griner for Bout in a deal announced Thursday morning, the Democrat did not secure the release of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine whom Russia convicted in June 2020 on espionage charges that American officials have called manufactured. Russia did not agree to include Whelan in the deal, according to the New York Times, leaving Biden to agree to a “one-for-one swap.”




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1,100 New York Times Employees Walk Out After Contract Talks Miss Deadline

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By Helen Coster

(Reuters)—More than 1,100 union employees at the New York Times Co began a one-day work stoppage on Thursday, the union said, citing the company’s “failure to bargain in good faith,” after setting a deadline for a contract last week.

The union, part of the NewsGuild of New York, had set a deadline for a contract for midnight Dec. 8.

The 24-hour walkout marked the first time New York Times employees have participated in a work stoppage since the early 1980s and comes amid a growing labor movement across the United States in which employees from companies such as Amazon, Starbucks Corp and Apple Inc have organized in an effort to push back against what they say are unfair labor practices.

“Today we were ready to work for as long as it took to reach a fair deal, but management walked away from the table with five hours to go,” the New York Times union tweeted on Wednesday.

The New York Times issued a statement confirming the strike. “It is disappointing that they are taking such an extreme action when we are not at an impasse,” the company said.

In the media industry, journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, owned by Block Communications Inc, and the McClatchy-owned Fort Worth Star-Telegram are currently on open-ended strikes.

On Nov. 4 over 200 union journalists across 14 Gannett-owned news outlets – including the Desert Sun in California and New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press – participated in a one-day strike.

In August, nearly 300 Thomson Reuters Corp journalists in the United States, also represented by the NewsGuild of New York, staged a 24-hour strike as the union negotiates with the company for a new three-year contract.

The Times Guild represents journalists as well as ad sales workers, comment moderators, news assistants, security guards and staffers at The Times Center, the company’s events venue and virtual production studio.

Tech employees of the Times voted last March to unionize and have been trying separately to negotiate their first contract.

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York, Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles and Akriti Sharma and Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; Editing by Anna Driver, Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)




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Police officers in schools · The Badger Herald

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Madison mayoral candidate Gloria Reyes is proposing bringing police officers back into schools as part of her election bid. After supporting an effort to remove officers from schools during the pandemic, she suggests that this is now a good time to reevaluate the issue. Should police officers serve in schools?

Point: Police officers do not belong in schools

The inception of policing in schools came about in 1948 with the Los Angeles School Police Department, an initiative aimed at patrolling recently integrated schools, according to the ACLU. At that time, the reigning belief was that allowing Black students into previously all-white schools would be accompanied by an increase in violence. 

The blatant criminalization of Black students that prompted school policing decades ago is a sentiment that persists today. Roughly 47% of public schools in the nation have security staff present at least once per week, with a higher concentration of on-campus law enforcement officers in schools with more students of color.

The American education system has already failed its students in a didactic sense with whitewashed U.S. history curricula that fail to wholly address the nation’s deep-rooted racism. This complacency, coupled with law enforcement presence in schools, perpetuates the oppression and harm that come hand-in-hand with policing.

The guise of safety and protection that is offered by police presence in schools is an insidious force that is made more powerful by the unwillingness to confront the vicious realities of our national history. 

Children are socialized to accept pro-police sentiments as inarguable and objective when presented with law-enforcement-headed programming such as “Officer Friendly” and D.A.R.E. These programs herald police officers as trustworthy, positive figures while bypassing the opportunity to educate students about the dangers of police brutality. 

Black students are disproportionately harmed by policing. A 2018 report from the ACLU revealed Black students lost 66 days of school per 100 students due to suspensions compared to just 14 days for white students. The implicit biases in disciplinary measures enacted by school personnel target students of color and contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Police surveillance in schools yields higher volumes of disorderly conduct charges. According to the New York Times, however, these charges often consist of arrests based on trivial offenses such as turning off the lights in the girl’s bathroom or violating the dress codes. These instances do not necessitate the invocation of police power. 

School policing inherently perpetuates racism in its operations by punishing perceived deviance, which cultivates a more dangerous environment for students of color. And support services to address this hostility are limited. According to a study conducted by the ACLU, 14 million students go to schools with police officers but without crucial counseling staff.

If prioritizing the safety of students in public schools is truly the objective at hand, then defunding the police, reallocating funds to mental health services and implementing transformative justice initiatives would be a more effective way to achieve it.

Katie Sullivan ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying health promotion & health equity and communication sciences & disorders.

Counterpoint: The role of police in schools should be reevaluated

It is no surprise that in recent years there has been both hesitation and movements against policing institutions around the country.

In a Gallup poll that was conducted in the weeks following George Floyd’s death, Black respondents’ confidence in the police was at a low of 19%, and 56% among white respondents. In 2021, however, the confidence in the police rose to 27% among Black respondents and remained 56% among white respondents. 

Though confidence levels have risen since 2020, most recent data shows they remain low in 2021. This begs the question of whether police officers in schools would be beneficial. 

The creation of the police in the United States rests on the moral ideology that the police are meant to protect and serve the individual and thus the American people. 

All institutions are susceptible to corruption and policing institutions are no exception. Police departments around the United States may very well have been corrupted by unconscionable or explicit racism. But, just because something has been cracked, doesn’t mean it’s broken. 

Here lies an opportunity to repair the trust that has been broken among large demographics of the American public. With other reforms and bias training, police in schools could reinforce a positive relationships among students. If policing can be adjusted to support the community’s needs, the relationship between police and civilians could fundamentally improve. 

Building healthy, genuine relationships with students outside of a criminal context could transform young people’s understanding of law enforcement. In turn, students could trust policing institutions to protect them from harm, not cause it.  

Additionally, after many treacherous school shootings in the past few years, many have argued to arm teachers in school as an answer. According to the Washington Post, however, researchers have found no evidence that arming teachers, among other security measures, has any effect on school shootings. 

One of the arguments supporting this idea is that even a highly trained teacher with firearms would be unable to respond as quickly or effectively as a member of law enforcement. So if arming teachers is not the answer and law enforcement is much more effective at protecting students, then maybe the answer lies in reconsidering the role of police officers in schools.

If police are allowed to serve in schools, they have the potential to restore the trust they have lost and return to their intended moral role in society. They could rebuild relationships in their communities, giving young people the confidence they need to believe the police can be a positive force in their lives.

Jessica Lewin ([email protected]) is a junior studying journalism and philosophy. 


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