What you missed in politics this week: Oct. 11
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    Inmates moving out

    What’s the news?

    Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, the Department of Justice plans to release around 6,000 inmates from federal prisons who have been incarcerated for drug crimes over the past thirty years.

    Why are so many inmates being released?

    The Justice Department is planning one of the largest one-time releases of federal prisoners in U.S. history as an effort to reduce incarceration costs and overcrowding as well as to relieve the harsh sentences given to nonviolent drug offenders. The plan also plays into the continuing bipartisan effort to relieve the effects of the last few decades' mass incarceration for drug crimes, which have disproportionately affected minority communities.

    What’s going to happen to the inmates?

    About two-thirds of those who are set free will be sent to correctional facilities and halfway houses before a supervised release. The other third are foreign inmates who were convicted of serious legal offenses and will be quickly deported.

    Why should you care?

    As Weinberg senior Caroline Naughton, chapter leader at Students for Sensible Drug Policy at NU explains, “I definitely think a lot of what’s going on in drug policy is changing legislation and legalization, but we’re not focusing enough on retroactively repairing what has been done." She also thinks the move by the Justice Department will be “really helpful for focusing not only on moving forward, but looking back and serving justice for those who have been affected in the past."

    Time to test out a new Secretary of Education

    What’s the news?

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Oct. 2 that he would be resigning his post later this year.

    Wait, who’s Arne Duncan?

    Arne Duncan was appointed Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama in 2009. Before taking this cabinet position, Duncan served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, just an el ride away from campus.

    What changes did he make?

    One major initiative Duncan implemented in the Obama administration was Race to the Top, a program that led high schools to integrate the Common Core into their curriculum. Race to the Top also placed more accountability on teachers for student test scores, with higher achieving schools receiving more funding. This system has drawn criticism from some groups who claim state exams do not accurately reflect the effectiveness of their education systems.

    So what’s next?

    President Obama announced that John B. King Jr., currently deputy education secretary, is his pick for Duncan’s replacement. Like Duncan, King has experience with major city education systems, thanks to his former post as the commissioner of New York state public schools. But don't worry – we haven’t seen the last of Arne Duncan. Upon resignation, he plans to move back to the Windy City to spend more time with his family.

    Major misfire

    What’s the news?

    A Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan on Oct. 3, killing 10 employees and 12 patients. Also 37 people were reported wounded by the attack. 

    A U.S. airstrike?

    The circumstances surrounding this tragedy are currently under investigation by the Department of Defense, but according to an Oct. 7 statement from the White House, the MSF hospital was, indeed, “mistakenly struck” by U.S. forces.

    What’s the fallout?

    In a phone call with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, President Obama apologized for the “tragic incident”, but that doesn’t seem to be enough.  President of Doctors Without Borders Joanne Liu, who has compared the strike to a “war crime,”  is calling for an International Humanitarian Face-Finding Commission investigation in order to prevent mistakes like this from happening again.

    Okay, but what’s the NU connection?

    Adi Nadimpalli, currently the head of a Doctors Without Borders mission in Nepal, actually spoke at Northwestern in May 2014. During his visit, Nadimpalli highlighted the importance of a developed world view for students interested in pursuing higher education, so potential grad students: take note. 


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