Detective Sean Suiter: Conspiracy theories and an unsolved death

Shot in the head and killed with his own gun, the murder of Baltimore detective Sean Suiter remains unsolved.

By Elia Franco

Contributor

Following the death of Detective Sean Suiter on November 17, 2017, there has been speculation into his involvement in the case regarding a corruption probe involving the alleged planting of drugs by a group of officers in the Baltimore Police Department. Suiter, at the time of the alleged criminal acts, was only a police officer and a passenger in the car of one of the accused.

According to NBC News, Suiter was set to testify on November 16, 2017 before a federal grand jury, but was fatally shot the day before. Since then, many people have openly expressed their distrust in the Baltimore Police Department, while others have been quick to point out seemingly obvious connections between Suiter’s death and his willingness to testify in the corruption case.

As a means to bring clarity to the conspiracy theories revolving around Detective Suiter’s death, Baltimore Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, wrote to FBI Director Christopher Way to ask for the agency’s support i the investigation of the case. FBI Assistant Director Stephen E. Richardson, replied to Davis’ letter rejecting the “calls to take over investigation”, according to the Baltimore Sun. The agency’s reasons were rooted in the belief that there was no sufficient evidence which directly linked detective Suiter’s death to his upcoming testimony.

The case seems to be riddled with doubts; among the contending theories within the department: suicide has still not been ruled out as a potential cause of death. Meanwhile, others insist that it is a homicide case and continue to actively look for the perpetrator. It seems no clues have pointed to any one suspect.

Detective Sean Suiter left behind his wife, Nicole Suiter, and his five children. If the case is ruled as a suicide, certain benefits given to the families of fallen officers can be reduced or can become entirely unavailable. The ultimate ruling in this case may continue to add to the life-changing events facing the Suiter family; it is of extreme importance that this case continues to be investigated until it is solved.

It is safe to say that all agree that the memory of detective Suiter deserves justice and that his family deserves closure, but neither of these can be achieved without active investigation of the police force, nor with- out the cooperation of our civilians.

Photo Credit

New Social Media Updates You Should Know About

Lawanda Johnson

Digital Content Manager

In this day and age, social media is impressively ever-changing. No one would’ve ever guessed that a website like Facebook would someday offer live video recording services, nor did we ever think that Twitter users would soon be allowed to tweet more than 140 characters.

Furthermore, the fact that we are now able to conveniently access nearly every one of our social media accounts from an app on our smartphones is even more riveting.

Patently, with the advancement of today’s online platforms, digital networking is made easier, quicker, and more enjoyable.

Take a look at some of social media’s latest features to be added.

Instagram

Launched in 2010, Instagram has become the largest photo-sharing mobile-based service to date. It’s an app that generates millions of users, including celebrities, family, and friends, with live and pre-recorded video recording capability, fresh filters, and even direct messaging. The app, originally crafted for Apple customers, has undergone a number of improvements since its initial release. From private messaging (added in 2013) to Instastories (basically Snapchat rolled into Instagram), the provider is certainly in the lead, and the additions only seem to get better and more clever.

Recently, Instagram incorporated the ‘Activity Status’ feature, which allows users to see when the people who they recently direct messaged were last active. It even goes as far as showing the exact minutes.

To view this, all you have to do is go to your direct messages, and you will see the amount of time that is has been since that person last opened the app. It will also show if they are active at that exact moment. But, that is only if they have their status activated.

The feature can be disabled by accessing your Instagram profile settings, scrolling down until you see ‘Activity Status’, and flipping the switch off. However, by doing so, you will not only disable your own status visibility, but the status of others won’t be visible to you either.

Most have deemed the ‘Activity Status’ update as unnecessary, but this shouldn’t come as a shock to users since Instagram is owned by Facebook, and Facebook Messenger offers the same exact feature.

Facebook

Although it began as a member’s only social networking service for college students, Facebook has since grown into so much more. Unquestionably, Mark Zuckerberg brilliantly turned this site into a goldmine, completely beating out MySpace… forever. It has not only become a way to reconnect with old buds from high school—middle school even— but it is a dominant asset in digital marketing, for all types of businesses and brands; a place for virtual love and platonic connections.

As of late, Facebook has been diligently working to refine and prioritize their news section/feed.

According to reports, they will be providing users with the ability to “rank news sources that they see as the most credible and trustworthy.” Reportedly, users will be surveyed, and the feedback will be used to help decipher which outlets are Facebook-friendly or appropriate, solely in efforts to allocate more effective and accurate world news around the social network.

Additionally, Facebook also announced that it is will be increasing the supply of local news this year, which will hold a section specifically for events and stories nearby.

Twitter

Tweets and timelines…we owe it all to Twitter. Over 319 million users later, it has ranked #1 among any other timeline-based social media network. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, becoming one of the ten most-visited websites and often described as the “SMS of the internet.” Without a doubt, Twitter has seen tremendous growth since its debut in 2006.

Like Facebook, it has contributed greatly to online advertising and monetary posts. But that’s not all that Twitter is most notable for. Through Twitter, registered users are able to interact with everyone across the globe, from family and friends to celebrities. If that wasn’t enough to sell users, they’ve made some outstanding upgrades, including live video accessibility (Periscope), direct messages (even from people who aren’t following you), and a 280-character tweet limit.

However, with those changes came a privacy policy change. Last year, the policy eliminated their ‘Do Not Track’ option, which was a privacy preference that allowed you to opt out from being tracked by third-party services on the website. Essentially, when you visit certain sites and connect your account, personal data may be collected.

This new change may seem a little intrusive to users, but it does give you the option to revoke access to some sites/apps in your settings.

Even though these new changes are in effect, users can still have a sense of control with their social media. Just know that every new change not welcomed by the users will have to be manually stopped, customized in the settings, or simply deactivated.

Photo Credit

10 Days and Four Unexpected Discoveries in Israel

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: From Tel Aviv to the West Bank: 10 Days and Four Unexpected Discoveries in Israel

By: Leonard Robinson, III

Contributor

Over winter break, I had the opportunity to join American journalism students, who were interested in international affairs and government, tour Israel to take a glimpse into Middle Eastern affairs and life.

In this article, I explain four of the most unexpected discoveries that I made during my ten days in the Holy Land.

1. Israelis are trilingual and many have been to America

If an Israeli asks where you are from, simply saying “America” probably won’t suffice. Frustrated with my answer, a man in Jerusalem sarcastically stated, “Duh, why else would I be talking to you in English!” Israelis are taught Hebrew and English all the way throughout high school and must be fluent in English to graduate from university. Many speak other languages beside Hebrew and English to include Arabic, French, and Spanish.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many Israelis were not only profi- cient in American geography when I talked of living in Maryland and growing up in Texas and Louisiana, but the amount that actually have traveled here to the States, experiencing the vast cultural differences such as those between the northeast and southern states. Israelis are some of the most well-traveled people in the world, partially due to their mandatory military service, but also to the travel mentality that encourages young people to take a gap year to travel between military service and resuming educational and career opportunities. “Some of the most popular destinations are Europe, Latin America, the United States, Africa, and occasionally Asian countries, such as the Philippines,” explained Assaf Boker, our tour guide who traveled to Latin America and the United States. “You can literally walk on the streets of Israel and ask random people and they’ll tell you where they traveled.”

In addition to this, quite a few Israelis were born in America and immigrated to Israel with their families at a young age. An example of this is two young kids we met at an Argentinian Jewish kibbutz in Syderot who were born in New York. Among the children who followed American basketball, there was an interesting mix of Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards fans.

2. Oh the food! (And yes there was plenty of hummus!)

Like every major city, Israeli food trucks offer delicious falafel, schnitzel (chicken), and rice dishes for less than 25 shekels (7 USD). Interestingly, fast food restaurants like McDonald’s throughout Israel are mostly kosher and often have humorous titles for famous dishes. For example, in Israel, a big Mac is known as a “Big America.”

3. There’s a stray cat on every corner. Literally.

If you love cats, there was an abundance of your furry friends around Israel from the streets of Jerusalem to the Dead Sea to the cobblestone alleyways of Jaffa. Stray cats are such a normal sight for so many Israelis that locals joked that “the only thing in the Middle East that can be domes- ticated is a dog!” I observed quite a few stray dogs but not nearly as many compared to the stray cats!

According to some Israeli scholars and historians, stray cats may be entrenched in Israel’s history. They argue that during the time of Britain’s occupation, Israel had a severe rat problem, leading the British to respond by infiltrating the island with cats. As expected, the cats began producing much quicker than the British expected until when the Brit- ish left in 1948 it was too late! Others argue that a lack of fear or stigma of stray animals as carriers of unknown diseases or coherent legislation on a national legislation as the culprit for

If you’re a foodie, Israel’s freshly produced vegetables, salads, and fruits were blended into nearly every meal, along with freshly caught fish from the Sea of Galilee and warm pita bread. In addition to all of this, some of the best hummus that I’ve ever had in my life was in Israel; now I refuse to eat it anywhere else!

4. Many Israelis are supportive of President Trump’s decision on the American embassy.

In December, President Trump announced his decision to move the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital. Many Israelis celebrated the decision, expressing excitement about the United States’ continued commitment and optimism for other countries to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Many in the international community, including Arab neighbors with Israel, warned President Trump against the decision.

After 10 days, I knew that I would never forget the New Jersey-sized, Mediterranean Sea bordering country and their locals who I taught awful American slang to, danced the night away with, and learned unmeasurable amounts about love, faith, politics, and countless other lessons. I credit them with providing me with such an amazing experience and the ability to share a glimpse with so many others back home.

Leonard Robinson is a first year student at the University of Baltimore where he plans to study Government and Public Policy

Photo courtesy of Leonard Robinson

Women on two wheels

“Fighting on two wheels and two fronts”

 By Laura Melamed

Contributor

What’s the link between women’s history and bicycles?

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” said Susan B. Anthony in 1896, “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

The bicycle became popular in the late 1800s after clunky, early precursors were redesigned.

“It brought about a cosmic shift in women’s private and public lives,” said Sue Macy in her book “Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way,” published by National Geographic in 2011.

“Working women were hidden away,” said Macy, “laboring anonymously in factories and mills during the Industrial Revolution in the United States.” Wealthy women were home, confined to corsets and long skirts.

With the advent of the bicycle, Macy noted, things began to change. Women started spending time outdoors. Women biked on city streets. Women biked on country roads. They were socializing. They were being seen. They were being heard. Women were becoming a presence in public life.

Transportation

“Bicycles promised freedom to women long accustomed to relying on men for transportation,” said Kenna Howat, Program Assistant at the National Women’s History Museum, in her post “Pedaling the Path to Freedom.”

Avid bicycle rider and accomplished photographer Alice Austen rode her bike around Manhattan and Staten Island with almost 50 pounds of camera equipment so she could take pictures.

The first woman to run for president in the U.S. with a full-fledged campaign was Belva Lockwood.

Also a lawyer, Lockwood rode an English tricycle to her job in Washington D.C.

Around the track and around the world

Some women competed in official bicycle races, which were gaining in popularity. Women raced against men. Women raced against women. Races were often 100 miles around and around a track. Some races lasted for days. Macy’s book gives an engaging account of these competitions.

Annie Cohen Kopchovsky rode her bicycle around the world when two wealthy men wagered on whether a woman could really do it. After two quick bicycle lessons, she started in 1894 and completed the journey in 1895. More famously known as Annie Londonderry, she started with no money and earned $5000 along the way.

Age is no limit

53-year-old Frances Willard learned to ride a bike for the first time in the 1890s. It took her 3 months.

As she learned to ride a bike she learned about life, which she discussed in her book “A Wheel within A Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle with Some Reflections By the Way” published in 1895.

Willard named her bicycle “Gladys.”

She felt the bicycle restored a sense of balance in her life and helped her connect to nature.

Willard had previously been a university president where she was instrumental in the fight for women’s rights, including the right to vote. Fighting on two wheels and two fronts

Confronting gender and racial barriers in the late 19th century, Katherine T. Knox was a transportation pioneer, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Born to an African American father and white mother in 1874, Knox was passionate about bicycling and she rode a bicycle designed for men. Knox joined the League of American Wheelmen, a mostly male bicycling organization, in 1893. A year later, the Wheelmen created a “whites only” rule, barring African Americans from joining. Knox challenged the rule head-on, showing up outside the Wheelmen’s annual meeting in 1895, asserting she had the right to attend. Publicity escalated as Newspapers covered her protest. A debate opened up on the ethics of a color ban and in 1899 the ruling was removed.

Wear and tear

The bicycle helped women win the right to wear less restrictive clothing. Weighed down with petticoats and corsets, women’s activity was limited.

When skirts started getting caught in bicycle wheels, bloomers caught on as bicycle wear.

Sort of like harem pants, bloomers were originally invented in the middle of the 19th century, but soon went out of fashion. Women wearing pants was simply too radical.

With the invention of the bicycle, women had more reason to fight for the right to wear practical clothing.

Later, they managed to ditch the corset, too.

Today in Baltimore

Bikemore: Baltimore City’s bicycle advocacy organization, Bikemore, is led by a woman. Liz Cornish is Executive Director and fights for better bike lanes and infrastructure for all road users, taking extra care to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Black Girls Do Bike: Women of color and their supporters who share a passion for cycling encourage women and girls of color to bike.

Handlebar Café is owned by pro-cyclist and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, Marla Streb. A Baltimore native and winner of multiple cycling competitions, Streb also taught a bike-commuter workshop at UB in 2015. She’s been on the cover of “Outside Magazine” and is the author of “Downhill: The Life Story of a Gravity Goddess.”

Diva Rides is a local women’s cycling group for beginners and folks recovering from injuries.

Crank Mavens Monday Night Riders is an informal 10-mile bike ride with varying routes and rest stops.

Women Bike Baltimore is a Facebook forum for discussing women’s issues and cycling.

Liberation and transportation at UB

What do women at UB think about bicycling? Do they feel emancipated by pedaling around?

To find out, I emailed several UB students, alumni, faculty and staff.

“Biking is a huge part of my physical and emotional health,” said Jean Buckler, a senior in UB’s Environmental Sustainability and Human Ecology program. “I get a rush from the adrenaline and endorphins my body produces during and after my commute every day! I much prefer that over driving a car that relies on fossil fuels, and having to pay for parking every day.”

“I ride my bike because I don’t have a car, it’s faster than walking and it tends to be more reliable than mass transit,” said Amber Adams, a senior at UB working on a degree in Information Technology. Adams said she considers bicycling more than a means of emancipation. “I’ve been riding bikes for years, competitively and leisurely.” She rides mainly in warm weather and considers bicycling a way to exercise without too much effort.

“My choice to bike has opened up options for me that I’d not imagined ten years back,” said Simone Christian who graduated from UB in 2010 with an MA in Publications Design. A teacher at UB from 2013 to 2015, Christian rode her bicycle to class. She gave up her car to help protect the environment.

Every summer, Christian bikes through Maryland, DC and Virginia with her husband. They pack light. To reduce her carbon footprint, Christian limits plane trips to once a year.

“This lifestyle upgrade means we enjoy the luxury of travel (and nice hotels each night), the adventure of going off the beaten path, meeting new people who are genuinely doing what they love–opposite of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with frustrated families and bawling babies in New- ark International, awaiting a late connection—Biking is freedom.”

“From the time I could sit up straight my mom strapped me on the back of a bike and rode all over the city” said Britt McMurray, who is working on an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at UB. “I saw the entire city from the back of a bike. Today when I bike I feel like I can go on forever and never stop. I like biking along canals that stretch for hundreds of miles. I like biking over the gnarly roots of trees and muddy patches and doing my utmost not to fall into the river. I like to bike when the sun is hanging low and it’s time to go home, but I don’t. Instead, I linger, and pedal slow and even throughout the city.”

“Wearing sandals and a dress, I commute slowly, rolling down Roland Avenue and old Falls Road,” said Claudia Diamond, Assistant Dean, UB School of Law. “I take the bike path hugging Jones Falls and hiding its wildlife, both person and animal, I sometimes ride with no hands. My bike? Pale blue with a woven wicker basket; handlebars upright. I ride with the wearers of fancy pants and clip-on shoes and those who sprout hipster beards, insisting on no helmets. Speeding past me, the young man on my left says, ‘You go, girl.’ And indeed I do.”

Photo courtesy of Laura Melamed

The Budgeting Blues in UB

By: Ricardo Santiago Rodriguez – Staff Writer

If you have been keeping up with the UB Digest, you know the University of Baltimore is in a pickle. That pickle being our budget is not looking too hot. Too hot in the sense that we are in some serious need of money. Aren’t we all?

On Friday February 2, before an angry crowd, President Kurt Schmoke outlined his plans for the future of the University of Baltimore. By addressing the elephant in the room, he informed everyone that the University is struggling to close a $4 million-dollar budget gap.

The measures to close the deficit are controversial; the most glaring being, simply, cuts. Cuts to pay. Cuts to department spending. Cuts to al- most 400 staff members in separate departments. Cuts that seem small, but could go deeper if given a chance. Other attempts made to close the gap, include mandatory furlough days, travel restrictions, and a hiring freeze. This plan has been drafted over the last year. President Schmoke, while recapping the university’s efforts announced the plan for next year’s budget.

To balance the incoming year’s spending, the budget across the university will be reduced to a shocking 7.4 percent cut spanned over two years. Many staff members are also worried that cutting costs will not deliver the University of Baltimore the financial stability it seeks; that, soon, the university will be cutting important programs.

The SGA (Student Government Association), invited Provost Darlene Brannigan Smith to their February 14th meeting to clarify the administration’s position, noting that President Schmoke’s “Reimagining UB: Strategic Plan 2018-2023,” was presented without the involvement of the SGA, faculty, or students.

Provost Smith admitted that the administration fumbled in the delivery: “The goal at the town hall was to present the analysis, and to present all the options that were on the table, and to have feedback,” she said admitting that “one of the places that I think we failed as leadership is in communications.”

But Smith was clear in that the university is undergoing a critical time: “When you face a 6.4 million-dollar revenue shortfall in a 100 million operating budget, there are no easy answers…but 6.4 million represents potentially 12% of our discretionary budget.”

“When you are in excess of 6%, you are talking about major organizational realignment,” she added.

Student attendees protested the closing of the counseling center, rumoured programs elimination and broad cuts which do not mention downsizing executive administration positions based on current enrollment.

Smith confirmed a six-month contract with INOVA, an external counseling partner where members of the UB community would have access 24-7, 365 days a year to reaching by phone licensed clinical counselors, guarantees appointments within 48 hours and include family members in the plan with no additional fees. “It is a different model,” she said.

Smith confirmed that there are faculty committees examining the success of each of the 45 degree programs, and that based on compiled data, the administrators have sent back recommendations to the faculty who is currently reviewing them. She said that only eight programs were being deeply questioned given that one of the programs had admitted only seven students in the Fall.

“We are not looking at wholesale elimination of our programs,” she stated firmly.

As to eliminating executive leadership positions rather than cutting student programs, Smith confirmed that the university was to hire an independent firm to evaluate the administrative structure of the university, and that soon, the UB leadership would meet with faculty, staff and students to agree to the methodology to be used.

“The President has committed to responding affirmatively to the recommendations that come from this independent contractor,” Smith assured the gathered congress.

“You are the heart and soul of this institution…” said Smith. “We need to strengthen the communication channels significantly, and I’m hop- ing that this Spring we’re going to be able to show significant progress in that way. That’s my pledge, my personal pledge to you and to this group.”

Meanwhile, President Schmoke sent a similar statement as an update to university constituents: “Through greater transparency and shared responsibility, UB will continue to flourish. Our institution is the sum of many parts, and we all have a role to play.” The next in-person University update is Thursday, March 15, 9:00-10:00 am in a location to be announced.

Continue to read the UB Post for upcoming updates on the budget crisis.

Continue reading “The Budgeting Blues in UB”

Starbucks Announces New Paid Sick Leave Benefit

By Naiya Chapman

Contributor

On January 24th, 2018, Starbucks announced that they are investing in a new Partner and Family Sick Time benefit. Since we are amidst an intense flu season, employers that offer paid sick leave are greatly appreciated by their employees. Each year, flu seasons can tend to be serious and even deadly. People are generally advised to stay home from work or school if they have come down with the flu. However, it is interesting that Starbucks is one of the largest fast food chains in the world, and they have just now decided to offer this benefit to their employees, also referred to as “partners” by the company.

If you are seriously sick, you should be able to stay home without worrying about losing part of your paycheck. In the past, employees in need of their paycheck may have showed up to work despite their illness. Whether an employee has the flu or just common cold symptoms, this raises a serious health issue within the workplace, as most employees are working directly with customer’s food and drinks. Making sure that each and every coffee shop is sanitary and clean should be one of the company’s top priorities, but it seems like the health of sick employees was overlooked.

There’s no coincidence that Starbucks announced this benefit after the GOP tax bill was passed back in December 2017. According to the Washington Post, “The world’s larg- est coffee chain is adding perks for its employees in the wake of the U.S. tax cuts, announcing a wage increase and one time bonus in the form of a stock grant, just as dozens of companies have done in recent weeks. Yet it is also expanding paid sick leave and parental leave for many new dads, adding its name to the much smaller but growing list of companies using the recent tax cuts to expand benefits for workers.” This tax cut is allowing Starbucks and other leading fast food companies to gain employees and money without putting out much to offer these new employee benefits. Would Starbucks have introduced these benefits if it weren’t for the new tax bill?

According to Starbucks Newsroom, “A new Partner and Family Sick Time benefit will be available to all eligible U.S. partners, which will allow partners to accrue paid sick time based on hours worked and then use them if they or a family mem- ber needs care. When this benefit goes into effect this year, Sick Time will accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, thus a partner working 23 hours a week can expect to accrue approximately five days of sick time benefit over the course of one year.” The sick time that is accrued by employees can be used if the employee themselves are sick, or if a family member is sick. However, this benefit will only be available to United States employees. Although it has taken longer than it should have for Starbucks to offer this im- portant employee benefit, it is better late than never.