Author: Emily Merrell

Haymarket Police Forces Residents to Buy City Decal or Face Fine

Emily Merrell | United States

Effective April 11th, 2019, the town of Haymarket in Virginia issued a new policy. The Haymarket Police Department’s Facebook page posted a video of Haymarket Police Chief Lands. He announces the new policy. All town residents will be required to purchase a decal sticker, which they can get at the town hall, and display it on their cars.

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USDA to Stop Engaging in Kitten Cannibalism

Emily Merrell | United States

On Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that they will end the research program that resulted in the death of thousands of cats in the last few decades.

Since 1982, the Agricultural Research Division of the USDA has been infecting cats with Toxoplasmosis (a disease caused by eating undercooked meat) to study food-borne illnesses.  When the parasites harvested within the cats, they would then put the animal down.

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“Johannes Climacus” and the Need for Existential Doubt

By Emily Merrell | United States

Around 1842, Soren Kierkegaard began writing one of his most complex philosophical works – De Omnibus Dubitandum Ext. or Johannes Climacus. However, he never completed the text, as he Kierkegaard died extremely young, at age 42. The text is a narrative and has become an extremely important discourse of Western Philosophy, which it engages itself with. The narrative shows the idea of that if life is filled with doubt, it will always end with despair. Thus, it is a counter-argument to many modern and ancient philosophical claims about doubt.

What is Doubt?

In Johannes Climacus, doubt is considered to be a zone between actuality and abstraction. When in doubt, one will experience a border between existence and nonexistence. Doubt brings us to many places in our lives and brings us in and out of reality, but with new sets of guidelines.

Kierkegaard mentions that ancient philosophers’ doubt was the product of interest and the psychology of perception and that apathy can eliminate doubt. Apathy, in a sense, disengages us with doubt. Where Cartesian doubt attempts to disengage us with existence, apathy attempts to bring us back to reality.

A Break from Descartes

Johannes Climacus is the case of what would be considered Kierkegaardian doubt. Kierkegaard’s existential version of doubt completely disengages us with Cartesian doubt. Descartes, from whom the name comes from, considers doubt a natural form of reason. As a result, he believes that the mind will thus meditate and awaken.

Climacus’ doubt, however, is an anti-epistemological doubt. Climacus is a lover of freedom of abstraction and pure thought. So, he becomes aware that his doubt is an unnatural system for him. Johannes longs to belong to complete abstraction of thought, as this idea grounds modern philosophy. And, of course, his doubt is his completely non-ideal nature of existence. Climacus wants freedom from doubt, but Descartes believes doubt is our grounds of freedom of thought.  This is the ground difference between Cartesian doubt and Kierkegaardian doubt.

Johannes also questions how doubt is possible. He concludes that doubt is the grounding of thought within existence, and is in complete contrast with other philosophers. Often times, they believe it brings thought into nonexistence. Within Climacus’ state of doubt, he brings himself closer into existence, bringing his thought with him.

Existential Doubt

The difference between existing thought and Climacus’ world of thought has to do with Descartes and the virtue of the existential doubt. Johannes differentiates from this idea of virtue. In his view, his doubt isn’t speculative and disinterested in reality, it is the reality. Whereas the Cartesian doubt ideals that thought elevates from nowhere, existential doubt to Climacus is the building block of pure thought.

These combined ideas bring us to two different points: existential doubt brings us into our existence, and Cartesian doubt moves us into the domain of pure thought. This, hence, is a non-stop cycle. It is impossible for us to eradicate our doubt, as it is the building block of thought.


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Ecuador is Handing Over Julian Assange to the United Kingdom

By Emily Merrell | United States

Ecuador officials are planning on withdrawing asylum from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and handing him over to the British authorities.  

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno went to London on Friday to speak at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit. He has been in a wheelchair since a 1998 robbery attempt, in which he was shot.  The actual purpose of President Moreno’s trip was to meet with the British government to agree on Ecuador withdrawing protection from Julian Assange, who has been under Ecuador asylum since 2012.

Assange first came to the Ecuadorian embassy after a warrant for his arrest following allegations of sexual assault by the Swedish government.  He denied the allegations and the case was closed in 2017. He stayed in the protection of Ecuador asylum out of worries that he would be prosecuted in the United States for publishing classified documents that were leaked by Chelsea Manning.

Assange has not been allowed to access the Internet. Officials stated that he violated an agreement not intervene in state affairs by tweeting support for leaders in Catalonia to secede last year, which angered the Spanish government.  Moreno, who was elected as Ecuadorian president in May, has considered the Wikileaks founder a “stone in the shoe” and an “inherited problem.”

A source in contact with the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the President has confirmed that Moreno is close to finalizing, if not already, an agreement to hand Assange over to the U.K. in the coming weeks.  Such an agreement will depend on the rewards Ecuador will receive by withdrawing asylum from Assange. Former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa informed in an interview that Moreno has made Ecuador a highly “submissive” country toward western governments.

It is likely that the U.K., Spain, and the U.S. will be guaranteed that the U.K. will not extradite the whistleblower to the U.S. The Trump administration has promised to prosecute Assange and eliminate Wikileaks if this occurs.

Assange only has one criminal proceeding for a 2012 arrest warrant for “failure to surrender” which carries a term of three months and a fine. However, his former arrest in the U.K. may count against the pending sentence.

The question is, what will the U.S. Government do?  The Obama Administration was very eager on prosecuting Assange and Wikileaks for publishing thousands of classified documents but came to the conclusion that there would not be a way to do so without also prosecuting the New York Times and other mainstream news outlets.  

However, the Trump administration has vowed to prosecute Assange as it is against the law to publish classified documents.  Mike Pompeo stated that Wikileaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service abetted by state actors like Russia” and claimed, “we have to recognize we can no longer allow Assange and Wikileaks Freedom of Speech against us.”

While nothing is certain yet, the future for Assange and Wikileaks seems very threatening.


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