What you missed over winter break

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Representative Davis voices opposition to Obama’s gun control action

By MaryCate Most
Assistant news editor

Following President Barack Obama’s emotional address about new gun control measures, Illinois 13th district representative Rodney Davis reiterated his opposition to gun control.

“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and will continue to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” Davis said in a statement. “Time and time again this president has shown a blatant disregard for our nation’s Constitution and unfortunately these latest actions are no different.”

A tearful Obama said in a public address that he is taking executive action to enforce stricter gun control. The president said in his speech that he feels the right to carry a gun has limited Americans’ unalienable rights.

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    “Our right to peaceful assembly -– that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown. First-graders. And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun,” he said.

    Davis disagreed with the president in his statement, saying that there were other ways to address the issue of gun violence in the U.S.

    “We have a mental health crisis in this country that cannot be ignored and I hope the president will join Congress in trying to reform the system and address these issues legally and through our legislative process,” Davis said in his statement.

    Although the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, this executive action will put a new check on gun sales.

    U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has created new guidelines that will narrow the “gun show loophole.” In short, private gun sales are unregulated by the government. There are currently no background checks required when privately selling guns, which means that gun show sales or internet sales are unregulated.

    The new ATF guidelines intend to limit these private sales by redefining what it means to be “in the business” of firearms and requiring all sellers, on the Internet or at a gun show, to obtain a license to sell their guns.

    In a statement, Chris Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, expressed distrust in the president’s actions.

    “The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama Administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment,” Cox said. “The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under our Constitution.”

    The NRA and congress members have opposed gun control throughout the Obama administration, leading Obama to use an executive action to change the gun control system. The president said that mass shootings such as the massacre in Newtown, Conn. at the Sandy Hook Elementary school and daily shootings in Chicago, need to be prevented immediately.

    “Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad,” Obama said. “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.”

    University alumnus elected Georgian Prime Minister

    By Christin Watkins
    Staff writer

    University alumnus Giorgi Kvirikashvili was elected Georgian Prime Minister in December.

    Kvirikashvili received his Master’s degree in Finance from the University. Morgan Lynge, professor emeritus of Finance who taught Kvirikashvili in his time at the University, was “amazed” to hear of his former student’s new position. Kvirikashvili and Lynge have stayed in touch in the 17 years since Kvirikashvili’s graduation.

    “He is a very smart guy. He also is a person who is very interested in his country and doing well for his country,” he said.

    Lynge believes Kvirikashvili’s personality and intelligence played a large part in his election to such an esteemed position.

    “He is a very smart and inventive and energetic guy. It’s not surprising that a guy like that would rise to become the top of his party and become Prime Minister,” he said.

    In his past positions as Foreign Minister and Economy Minister, Kvirikashvili encouraged initiatives to forward Euro-Atlantic and European integration and showcased Georgia as a location for foreign investment.

    As Prime Minister, Kvirikashvili hopes to “establish Georgia’s image as a European country that serves as a vital link between Europe and Asia,” he said, according to a press release from Georgia’s department of public relations.

    University researchers among “world’s most influential”

    By Daniel Corry
    Staff writer

    Some of the world’s most influential researchers in their respective fields work right here at the University of Illinois. Seven University researchers were named to the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list for 2015.

    The Thomson Reuters website describes their qualifiers as “some of the world’s most influential scientific minds. About three thousand researchers earned this distinction by writing the greatest number of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers.”

    The list ranks the top 1 percent of scientific minds most cited for their field and date the paper was published.

    The University winners for this year include: civil and environmental engineering professor Tami Bond, crop sciences and plant biology professor Stephen P. Long, chemistry professor Yi Lu, electrical and computer engineering researcher Richard Masel, chemistry professor Catherine Murphy, plant biology professor Donald Ort and materials science and engineering professor John Rogers.

    University Director appointed to a National Panhellenic Committee

    By Lilly Mashayek
    Staff writer

    Andrew Hohn, the associate director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at the University, was appointed to the Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Committee of the National Panhellenic Conference, or NPC, in December. Hohn is one of seven members on the committee serving two-year terms. He will work as a brand ambassador for NPC while providing insight and perspective on current campus trends.

    The committee’s first meeting was held in early December, during the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors’ annual meeting.

    According to a press release, Dani Weatherford, executive director of NPC, said the new members named to the committee will help to continue a “tradition that allows us to have even more targeted conversations with the FSAs on campuses around the country and gives us insight and perspectives that are vital to meeting NPC’s missions of advancing the sorority experience.”

    Wilson adds search firm to Illini AD search

    By Peter Bailey-Wells
    Sports editor

    Interim Illinois Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced that the University had selected an executive search firm to assist her previously chosen search committee with hiring a new athletic director.

    The search firm in question is Korn Ferry, the world’s largest executive search firm, which has aided at administrative and head coaching selections at schools like Michigan, Virginia and Oregon.

    “My hope all along was to identify a firm that had the experience and network to add value to our efforts,” Wilson said in a press release.

    Paul Kowalczyk has served as the University’s interim athletic director since the Nov. 9 firing and buyout of Mike Thomas.

    The search committee is chaired by professor Matt Wheeler and was expected to recommend a candidate at the Jan. 21 Board of Trustees meeting. However, in an interview with The Daily Illini’s editorial board, Wilson said she no longer expects a candidate to be announced Thursday.

    Local organizations call for Champaign police officer’s termination

    By Ali Braboy
    Staff writer

    Local organizations called for the termination of Champaign Police Officer Matt Rush following investigations over excessive use of force.

    Brian Dolinar, member of the Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, said some local organizations are working together to have Rush terminated. Along with the Citizens for Peace and Justice, Dolinar said other groups are calling for the termination of Rush, such as the Champaign County NAACP and North End Men’s Breakfast Club, among others.

    An email from Dolinar stated that Rush “is an immediate threat to the community.” There will be a march from the station to the Champaign City Council meeting following the press conference. At a press conference regarding Rush, city council members were asked to approve a $225,000 settlement for a lawsuit filed by Benjamin Mann against the City of Champaign, naming Rush in the suit. In the suit, Mann stated that a Champaign police officer used excessive force when he was being arrested on March 16, 2014.

    Dolinar said the Citizens for Peace and Justice has followed Rush’s actions for many years and said the group believes everyone in Champaign County should be concerned about Rush.

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