Pete Buttigieg rising in latest polls


Despite being the mayor of a city of under half a million people, Pete Buttigieg continues to be among the hottest names in the presidential race thus far. Among a very crowded field of candidates in the Democratic primaries, the previously unheard of mayor now sits squarely in fourth place only behind Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders among likely caucus goers in Iowa.

Buttigieg’s stances include a firm promise to tackle climate change as well as raise taxes on the top one percent of earners in the country. In a town hall last night hosted by CNN, Buttigieg promised to restore civility to American politics. Vice President Mike Pence said of attacks made against him that he is bringing “attacks on my Christian faith.” Defenders of the mayor says Vice President Pence is simply attacking him because he is openly gay, but Pence has denied this.

Buttigieg would be by far the youngest president in American history should he win. At just 37 years old, he is a long shot to win but at the very least has cemented himself into several firm positions going forward. Many in the Democratic party have suggested him as a potential candidate for governor of Indiana in the future and perhaps the Senate. Indiana was, of course, once considered a swing state, as Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly served as the senior senator from the state until this past election cycle.

Slovenian fans celebrate at Heat game


After Thursday night’s win over the visiting Dallas Mavericks, the Heat are back in the playoffs, sitting just above the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Mavericks jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half and pushed the Heat to the brink in a tense battle that came down to the wire.

The Mavericks got another special performance from their prized rookie, Luka Doncic. Doncic threatened to achieve his seventh triple-double of the season, which would have tied the all time record for rookies in NBA history. Goran Dragic, his Slovenian counterpart, notched a triple double of his own, shredding the Mavs defense particularly in the third quarter.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the game, however, was the amount of Slovenian fans that attended the game. Both Doncic and Dragic were born and raised there, where they have become international sensations. Doncic played professional basketball in Spain for six years before coming to the NBA, and Dragic has been a star in the NBA for nearly 10 years.

During each sequence where either Dragic or Doncic scored, the entire crowd erupted into a frenzy, chanting their names so loudly that the typical chants of “defense” or “let’s go Heat” were completely drowned out. Both Doncic and Dragic returned to the court after the game to see the crowd and shake hands with the fans.

O’Rourke generating national buzz


Beto O’Rourke, the former three-term congressman from Texas, threw his hat in the ring and announced his candidacy for president. He joins a crowded field of over a dozen Democrats looking to unseat the Republican incumbent Donald Trump. O’Rourke recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for Senate in Texas, losing to Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke’s Senate campaign was far from a complete failure, however. Running in a state usually dominated by Republicans, O’Rourke came shockingly close to defeating Cruz in a surprisingly tight race. O’Rourke famously visited all 254 counties across Texas, spending large amounts of time in unpopulated areas between El Paso and San Antonio.

O’Rourke had been serving as the congressman from the El Paso area, and announced his desire to run for the Senate in 2016. All in all, O’Rourke took over 48 percent of the vote, losing to Cruz by less than three hundred thousand votes. O’Rourke ran up the numbers considerably in the biggest urban areas of the country, specifically Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

O’Rourke also did very well along the border towns of Texas, which have been a consistently reliable blue area of the state. O’Rourke won over the support of Republican congressman Will Hurd, who represents a district along the border and won his midterm election by less than a thousand votes. O’Rourke’s fundraising skills have translated to the presidential campaign, so far.

Only twenty-four hours after announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke raised over six million dollars towards his run. While many members of the Democratic base are waiting for Joe Biden to announce his candidacy, O’Rourke has a substantial chance of upsetting the field and becoming the party’s nominee.

Sherrod Brown says he won’t run


One of the Democratic parties’ biggest names in the U.S. Senate announced that he will not be running for president this week, despite overtures from all wings of the party. The senator from Ohio had formed an exploratory committee and had been pondering a run for months, as far back as immediately after the 2018 midterms.

Brown won his reelection bid in what has become a Republican-leaning state in recent years. Brown was the only Democrat to win a statewide election in the state after Donald Trump comfortably carried the state by nearly 10 percentage points in the 2016 election. In the governor’s race in the 2018 midterms, Mike DeWine won by a surprisingly big margin after a contentious few weeks of debates.

Brown won reelection with 53 percent of the vote in 2018, and immediately began considering a presidential run. The Democratic field already got a little bit more crowded last week, after conservative democrat John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, joined the race.

The state of Ohio has experienced a dramatic economic downfall in recent years. Columbus and Cleveland still remain comfortably employed and populated, whereas Cincinnati, Toledo, and Dayton have all declined in recent years. Brown has vowed to attempt to turn this around in the senate.

Cohen hearing erupts in racism debate


Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) found himself in hot water after Michael Cohen’s explosive testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill earlier this week. Cohen is facing a prison sentence after several guilty pleas involving campaign finance violations among other crimes. The former fixer for Donald Trump also gave a seven-hour closed door testimony to the same committee yesterday.

During the televised public portion of the questioning, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan accused Meadows of using an African American woman as a prop while he attempted to discredit Cohen’s testimony. Tempers quickly flared as Meadows repeatedly tried to undercut and interrupt Tlaib’s remarks and asked that they be removed from the record. Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland quickly interjected to subdue the scene, but the controversy had only just begun.

A video of Meadows in 2012 saying “We need to send Obama back to Kenya, or whatever” resurfaced as soon as the hearing ended. Meadows quickly said he “regretted” the statement, however a full public statement has not been released yet. Meadows was frustrated with the Democrats on the committee for inviting Cohen as their main witness despite the fact that he was an admitted liar and is going to prison as a result.

Meadows was also a member of the controversial “birtherism” debate during the Obama administration. President Obama, who was born in Hawaii, was the subject of countless questioning and doubts over whether or not he was indeed born in the United States. Meadows used this controversy as a primary selling point during his various reelection bids over the years.

Brexit deadline fast approaching


Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union are continuing their standoff as the deadline for a deal in Brexit talks is nearly a month away. On March 29, the deadline for both sides to reach a deal regarding the circulation of goods and whether or not people may continue to move freely between countries in the United Kingdom. The prospects of not reaching a deal and installing a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is an extremely dangerous proposition.

The IRA, or Irish Republican Army, infamously was behind hundreds of bombings and murders that was part of decades of sectarian violence in the region. Theresa May, who’s facing severe backlash from parliament and from the British news media, agreed with the European Union on a backstop, which means that instead of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, there will be a hard border between Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. People in the United Kingdom were furious with both Prime Minister May and the rest of parliament for delegating the decision on whether or not to leave the European Union to the voters. In a 52-48 percent vote, the public voted to leave.

Polling however suggests that the public is not fully aware of the various ramifications of leaving the organization, specifically regarding the various deadlines and what they mean. March 29 is when the two sides enter a transition period, in which the United Kingdom and the EU will discuss their future relationship, and then six weeks later, they will separate entirely.

Britain is technically able to reverse course completely and re-enter the EU, although the organization is reluctant to let them back in, so as not to create a precedent and encourage other countries to leave knowing they can return at any time. Many have suggested a second referendum, however the earliest that a full vote can be organized at all is estimated to be 22 weeks, and there are roughly only five weeks left before the deadline.

Sinclair Group influence expands


Sinclair Broadcast Group is becoming one of the most influential organizations in the country. The public broadcast firm has slowly begun to monopolize television markets across the country with the hopes of putting their thumb on the scale and skewing the content in a certain way. The broadcasting firm was founded in 1971, but in recent years has exploded in value and is drastically changing the local news industry.

The company has a total operating revenue value of a whopping $2.73 billion, making it one of the biggest digital media corporations in the world. The organization has slowly bought station after station all across the United States and, after some legal battle with Channel 7 in South Florida, their brand is becoming more and more known.

Recently, Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired Turner Media and its 42 television stations. Sinclair is known for forcing their anchors on television stations to air “must-runs,” which are scripted messages that lean noticeably conservative. Each station that Sinclair owned in 2018 ran a combined 92,000 must-runs, all of which used a familiar phrase.

“Unfortunately some members of the media use their own personal bias to promote their political agenda.” Over 100 stations across the country was forced into running a passage that started with that exact statement in 2018, but after Sinclair failed to purchase Fox’s Channel 7 in Miami, the company is beginning to see slow-downs in acquiring other news stations.

The firm also airs attack ads in commercial breaks, some as long as 20 minutes, detailing various controversies that have existed on the left as far back as the days of the Civil War. Sinclair recently has been rumored to be interested in buying out the gargantuan contract of Sean Hannity, Fox News’s evening news megastar.

Frost Jazz Hour reaches 10th year


The University of Miami Frost School of Music has enjoyed tremendous success since its founding decades ago. Notable artists such as Pat Metheny, Jonathan Kreisburg, Emilia Estefan, and many others were part of the school’s prestigious jazz studies department. The school has developed a consistent partnership with WDNA radio, the local jazz radio outlet in South Florida. The show has recently begun its 10th year on the radio.

Every Thursday at 11 a.m., the radio station produces the Frost Jazz Hour, hosted by Chuck Bergeron, a bass professor at the school and former member of the classic Woody Herman Big Band. For an hour each week, various ensembles, student-led groups, and alumni perform over the radio to a consistent following of listeners. This past Thursday, the Frost Jazz Octet performed to a live audience as well as thousands of listeners over a radio signal radius that stretches from West Palm Beach to Key Largo.

The octet, which features five horn players and a guitar trio, showcased five songs that the group had been arranging and rehearsing all semester long. The group is led by professor Dante Luciani, a trombone professor who conducted the Frost Concert Jazz band for 12 years before recently Grammy-awarded Dean John Daversa began conducting the large ensemble.

Luciani has been one of the most successful musicians in the business for decades now. Jazz trombone legends such as Curtis Fulelr and Frank Rosolino were considerable influences on the remarkably accomplished Luciani, who has performed with jazz giants Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, and countless others. The group includes one of Luciani’s personal trombone students, and others from different instrumental studios throughout the department. 

The Frost Jazz Hour has featured vocal groups, instrumental ensembles, a capella groups, ad faculty concerts. The broadcast has become part of the canon of the jazz scene in greater Miami and indeed throughout larger parts of Florida as a whole. The Frost School of Music can be heard over F.C.C. airwaves every Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon.

Evening news dominated by opinion


News consumption since Donald Trump became president has dramatically changed. The era of basic reporting followed up by limited commentary and consistent cable news debates is over. Now in the age of Trump and social media, the vast majority of news is ruled by a select few at the end of the day in prime time.

Over three million people watch Sean Hannity every day at nine p.m. Eastern time when he broadcasts his show from New York City. The reliably conservative host has dominated news ratings for almost decade, and is rivaled only by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, who’s program airs at the same time each weekday. One evening of watching the notably liberal MSNBC, or the stunningly conservative Fox News, will leaver a viewer feeling almost overwhelmed at the content being shown.

A common evening on Fox News features Tucker Carlson, the former CNN and MSNBC host who was lured away to Rupert Murdoch’s network to be one of the nation’s most prominent conservative mouthpieces. His hour-long show is then immediately followed up with Sean Hannity’s hour-long bonanza. The Long Island native is a former radio host who night after night breaks down conspiracy theories, counter-narratives, and substantially right-leaning content that dates back to the early days of the network.

Hannity is the only member of Fox News who remains there from the network’s inception in the late 1990s. Roger Ailes built a ratings empire in part due to the infamous Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton scandal that was used by the network during the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Laura Ingraham, author of several books slamming liberal elites for gun control measures, closes out the night with a nightcap of sorts. Ingraham herself is not the firebrand personality that Hannity is, but her content still puts a heavy thumb on the scale.

This contrasts sharply with MSNBC. Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow, and Brian Williams headline an evening that does lean to the left, but is far less inflamed than Fox News. Panels are more civilized, where a conversation is more likely to take place. However, the network has lost several stars to Fox News over the years, notably the aforementioned Tucker Carlson and Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs. 

Both networks have become the nation’s leading news sources.