Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cholera in Haiti

A cholera outbreak in Haiti has already taken 337 lives, with a total of 4764 cases detected. As the category three Hurricane Tomas approaches Haiti, the current situation is estimated to continue to go downhill. Currently the U.N. is testing sewage water in Haiti; current water sample tests do not indicate the presence of cholera in most water sources. However, the U.N. mission sent to do the tests still suspect that the outbreak of cholera was caused by the sewage water that came from the latrines at a military base that was tested for cholera. It is believed that the spread of cholera may have originated from kitchen of the base rather than the septic tanks located at the facility.

The people of Haiti first went through an earthquake, and now they are now being hit with cholera (and a possible hurricane). We must do something to prevent a nationwide epidemic from occurring.

Uganda's anti-gay bill

In Uganda, a law that will make homosexuality a crime in the country may be adopted. David Bahati, a member of the Ugandan Parliament claims that the bill will impose punishments ranging from life imprisonment to the death penalty. The bill was believe to have been disposed of last year because of pressure from human rights groups; however, the bill is still alive and on the verge of being passed. A Ugandan newspaper called the Rolling Stone (which is unrelated to the American publication) published a list of the "top 100 homosexuals" in Uganda, causing many of those on the list to face persecution and punishment from their communities. Stosh Mugisha, a woman who appeared on the list, claims that on the day the tabloid was released publicly, a crowd came over to throw rocks at her house. Mugisha and her partner were able to escape their house and avoid being stoned; they are currently in hiding. The editor of Rolling Stone had the intent of targeting Ugandan homosexuals across the nation and having them persecuted by the public. According to a member of the Ugandan Parliament, "God has given us different freedoms, our democracy is giving us different freedoms, but I don't think anyone has the freedom to commit a crime and homosexuality in our country is a crime, it's criminal."

I am extremely outraged and disgusted by what the Ugandan government is trying to do. This is a massive violation of human rights. Who knows what passing this bill could lead to- possibly genocide of part of the population, much like what the Nazis did to homosexuals back then in Germany. Something absolutely NEEDS to be done to stop this law from being passed. The world, already quite screwed up in many ways, will not become a better place if Uganda is allowed to pass such an evil piece of legislation.


Have you ever gone into a store and seen products that support the fight against breast cancer? The soothing pink hues of the colored merchandise that supports this case never fail to catch the eyes of shoppers. Most of the stuff you can buy to support breast cancer awareness helps raise money for breast cancer research and awareness programs; the companies that make products that support cancer awareness donate portions of the profits they make from selling them. However, not all of these pink products are equal.

"Pinkwashing" is the term used to describe the practices of some companies that suck in the concern of consumers in order to boost their profits. While these companies may make and sell products that claim to support the fight against the breast cancer, they may donate very little or perhaps even none of the profit they make from selling these products to further cancer research.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation, which has raised $1.5 billion in donations ever since it began in 1982, selects the companies it partners with very carefully. The company states that they will not partner with any company that does not openly reveal how much money they plan to give to support breast cancer research. Despite the fact that there are many companies that make "pink" products to actually contribute to a good cause, there are also quite a few companies that are only concerned about milking the concern of consumers in order to make a profit.

This is just wrong. The companies that are practicing "Pinkwashing" are taking advantage of consumers who are genuienly concerned about breast cancer. The money that could be going to actually support breast cancer research and awareness programs is instead going into the hands of businesses that use deception to rake in massive profits. There must be something done to stop the companies with no real intent to support the fight against breast cancer from making merchandise that falsely claims to do so.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Haircuts and votes

It is well known fact that a lot of Americans who actually are registered voters don’t go out and vote on election days for various reasons, some which may include being busy on that particular day or being unable to find a polling location. Many efforts have been made to attempt to get more people at the polls this year on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. One man from Washington is attempting to help get out the vote by giving an incentive to those who do so on that day.

A hairstylist and salon owner named Marc Floyd is using a creative method to encourage people to actually go out and cast their ballots on Election Day: he will offer to cut anyone’s hair for half the price he usually charges if that person presents to him an “I Voted” sticker. Floyd claims he got the idea of increasing the number of voters at the polls by giving an incentive to do so when he noticed that many of his patrons were concerned about the country, but too lazy to actually head over to the polls.

Despite the fact that his incentive will definitely get more people voting, Floyd's deal only applies to male voters. Floyd claims that his customers who are women were more enthusiastic than his male patrons about voting, which is his reason for not offering the same incentive to women.

First of all, I admire this man for attempting to get more people to vote on Election Day. Even if it won’t get a massive number of people to actually go out and cast their ballots, it will set an example other businesses could follow to encourage voters to be less apathetic about voting. However, I think it is wrong of him to not offer the same incentive to women. Although it is true that women are more likely to vote than men, the female customers Floyd knows are not representative of the entire female poplation in the United States, and refusing to offer the same deal is very unfair and alienating.

His idea is still pretty interesting though.

What's in your eyes?

Contact lenses are an incredibly helpful invention, helping many people with less than perfect eyesight see in 20/20. However, they have been put to uses other than helping to improve vision. This month, the sale of contact lenses will rise as Halloween approaches. But why?

Back when they were first invented, contact lens were only seen as vision aids. However, nowadays it is possible to get contact lens that are worn solely for cosmetic purposes. During Halloween, many stores across the nation offer over the counter decorative contact lenses that are Halloween themed, which will be eagerly snatched up and worn by consumers who are willing to adorn themselves with lenses that go along with their costume or embrace the holiday spirit.

Despite the awe that can be derived from other people when one puts on these colorful lenses, there are many dangers that are associated with wearing them. Optometrists warn that these contacts may cause potentail inflammation of the eyes, corneal pain, infection and even vision loss. Because decorative lenses are not prescribed and measured for the individual that buys them, they can fit improperly over the eyes, causing them to scratch against the lens of the eyeballs which may lead to serious vision problems.

As a wearer of corrective contact lenses, I know the risks that contact lenses can pose to an individuals eyes if they are not worn properly. Although I think decorative contact lenses are an interesting way of instantly adding visual flair to one’s eyes, the potential vision damage that could happen from wearing improperly fitting lenses or infections one could receive from handling them improperly are reasons to be cautious of them. People who choose to purchase decorative contacts should be educated about the risks associated with them.

What do you guys think about decorative contact lenses? Would you wear them?

Nevada rally clear example of political polarity

On Friday night, Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle and Senator John McCain epitomized the polarity of our current political system. The rally they held in Nevada was filled with witty one liners and presentations given by prominent Republicans, all filled with attacks against the incumbent Democratic-majority government.

If find it slightly depressing that our government, founded on compromise, has turned towards a political atmosphere where, instead of advocating compromise, is filled with absolutes. For example, instead of saying that she would work towards fixing the healthcare system, she made the bold claim that she would work towards the complete repealing of "Obamacare."

Is there really no middle ground?

Even Angle admitted the polar nature of the system, telling voters present that they were participating in an "election of contrasts," in order to galvanize support for herself and her party. Along with Angle, the rally also hosted speeches by others such as actor Jon Voight, who claims that Obama is a "radical socialist," and that he is "more sympathetic with our enemies than our allies." Both of these comments garnered tremendous applause.

I don't know about you, but I feel that for such comments to appear in a political rally only further solidifies the polar nature of the whole system. I find it just repulsing that people who flat-out insult any presidency or find sympathy with enemies to be unacceptable can still gain support among the voters of our day and age.

We are falling into a hole, a hole where, if we do not climb our way out, will land us in a unacceptable position where political action is based not on the good of the nation, but on the party currently in power. I believe that voters must recognize this problem, and distance ourselves from politicians who dare continue to not acknowledge the benefits of the other side of an issue.

Bombs discovered in the UK and UAE

Recently, two parcels that were bound for U.S. destinations were discovered to contain deadly explosive materials. One of the packages was found in the United Kingdom, while the other was discovered in the United Arab Emirates. Addressed to two Jewish Synagogues in Chicago, these bombs could have caused many deaths had they reached their targets (the chemical used in the bombs was PETN, a compound with lethal explosive properties). Fortunately, these bombs never made it off the ground; security officials were able to stop the packages from being FedEx-ed to their destinations. U.S. officials believe that the bombs came from Yemen and were created by al Qaeda.

The discovery of these packages has led to careful scrutinization of parcels in cargo aircraft and delivery trucks across the nation. Currently, a woman who is believed to have played a role in sending the packages has been arrested in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Officials are still unsure about the masterminds behind this plot, but they are quite certain that they are affiliated with al Qaeda, which is based in Yemen. As of this Friday, packages originating from Yemen and the UK are not allowed to be sent outside the two countries.

Although I believe in individuals having the right to privacy when sending mail and parcels, there HAS to be something done to protect people from being potentially killed. Because Yemen is a hotbed of al Qaeda activities, the postal services in Yemen should increase their inspections of suspicious packages to prevent any further deadly items from being sent to their intended destinations.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chanber of Commerce supports Fiorina

The United States Chamber of Commerce has recently taken out a great deal of ads supporting candidate for senator, Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett Packard. To date, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent 4.9 million dollars trying to help Fiorina win, more than the chamber has spent on any other race.

The Chamber of Commerce is mainly donating this money because they feel that California needs a senator who is favorable towards a change in economy, something the chamber has been trying to revamp for quite some time.

While the chamber's enthusiastic support for Fiorina may be perceived by some to be perfectly acceptable, I believe that the chamber's move has intruded upon the sacred rights of citizens to choose their own representatives.

For those of you who do not know, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is NOT an agency of the United States government. Instead, it is a lobbying group with members consisting of businesses from across the United States and around the world.

I find it ridiculous that an entity not wholly related to California should be attempting to sway a political election in California just so that their business plan may be put into motion. Do they really have California's best interests in hand? Is having California's best interests in hand even possible for a group that is only remotely related to California? While the chamber has claimed that they do not spend any foreign money on political activities, I still find it slightly unrealistic given that the Chamber of Commerce has remained antagonistic towards President Obama's demands to grant transparency to their donor list.

I believe that Californian voters will have to be weary in the upcoming elections. We cannot afford to let our votes be, in essence, bought by foreign factors. We need to take a close look at the issues at hand and decide whether or not Carly Fiorina really has the best plan for California over Barbara Boxer. Don't let a group of businesses decide for us.

Please note, this post is not to say that Carly Fiorina is in anyway unfit to be senator. Fiorina has held the same position as previous CEO of HP, Mark Hurd, a respectable and incredibly successful businessman.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Posting personal opinion results in resignation

The vice president of a school district in Arkansas, Clint McCance, recently resigned due to several anti-gay comments he made on Facebook. In the post, McCance articulated that he'd not only disown his sons if they turned out to be gay, but that he felt gays should all commit suicide.

While McCance's comments cannot be condoned, the fact that he was pretty much forced to resign because he posted something with his own personal opinion in it outrages me. This is similar to the recent string of prominent reporter-fires due to their having let the smallest amount of bias slip into their posts and statements.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and while I am not naive enough to believe that First Amendment rights extend to non-public institutions, I believe that people should not be let go from positions that make the unrealistic demand that those holding them must refrain from showing any bias.

In McCance's case, perhaps his anti-gay sentiments are unfounded, but he shouldn't lose his job over this. Until we see some evidence that he was actively discriminating against gay students, we cannot so quickly jump to the conclusion that he is unfit to lead an educational district. McCance simply fell into the same trap that almost every teenager and occasional adult falls into: thinking that Facebook is a private medium for expression.

This whole fiasco can be related to the selection of Supreme Court Justices. We select them with some sort of expectation that they remain completely impartial when deciding incredibly partisan cases, but deep down inside we know that they won't and can't remain completely unbiased.

So, was McCance's resignation under fire deserved, or is this just another case of the public holding individuals up to absurd standards? You decide.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hey, is that my friend's brain?

A 17 year old student from New York named Jesse Shipley was buried two months ago, the victim of a tragic car accident. A funeral was held for him shortly after his death, which was rather uneventful when compared to the surprise that lay in wait for his friends and family. Recently, some of Jesse's classmates who were in a science club at the high school he attended were on a field trip at a local morgue. They probably knew they would be seeing some dead bodies and body parts; however, they did not expect to see their deceased friend there.

To be more precise, they saw part of their deceased friend. The students were shocked when they noticed a jar with a brain in it labeled Jesse Shipley. It turns out that medical examiners decided to save Jesse's brain, testes, and liver for further study as to why he died. Although Jesse's organs were returned to his parents and buried alongside of him, Shipley's parents are now suing the city of Staten Island due to the way their son's autopsy was handled.

I am incredibly shocked by this story. First of all, the parents or next of kin of any deceased person should be notified if medical examiners at a morgue decide to keep any part of that person for further research. It is wrong to not inform the living relatives of the person of any changes that might have been made to the body; an autopsy should be complete and not delayed in a way that might cause emotional distress to those close to the deceased. In Jesse's case, neither of his parents were informed about the removal of several of his organs. According to The College of American Pathologists, medical examiners have to be given consent to perform an autopsy on a dead person. As stated on the consent form, medical examiners are allowed to keep organs for further study; however, it is not mandatory for them to disclose any news of organ removals and retentions to the relatives of the deceased if the examiners choose to do so. Sometimes medical examiners may choose to not ask the family for consent, because someone in the family could be a reason for the death (such as in domestic homicide cases).

Although the medical examiners were doing their job by keeping the brain to further their investigation into Jesse's death, was it alright for them to not tell his parents about their retention of it?

I think it is okay for medical examiners to remove organs from a dead body to further an investigation of the cause of the death of that person, given that they receive consent. I just don't think it is alright for medical examiners to not inform the the relatives of a deceased person of any changes made to the body of that person, whether it is done to further an investigation or to contribute to medical research.

Red and blue equals love too.

As many of you know, last wednesday an enormous amount of Aragon students showed up to school wearing purple. The purple clothes were worn to represent the students support of the anti-gay suicide campaign. Over the last few months, there have been muliple gay suicides due to bullying. From this horrible set of events, people have banded together to join the "It Gets Better" campaign. Celebrities such as Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrcik Harris and Adam Lambert have posted videos on YouTube encouraging LGBT teenagers to stand up to bullies.

Last week, four different news stations came to Aragon to speak with teenagers about this tragedy that is affecting the United States. The week previous there were 3 separate accounts of anti-gay bullying alone. The Bay Area is, for the most part, very accepting of people no matter what their race, religion or sexuality so I find it bothersome that in one of the most accepting areas in the world, there are still rashes of unacceptable behavior. I understand that everyone has their own opinion on homosexuality, but to bully someone over their sexuality is ridiculous.

I personally can't stand it when ignorant people purposefully try to make LGBT teens uncomfortable. What are your views on the matter?

Military plans to prevent crime by searching email

It's happening once again, the government has plans to look into our private lives in order to try and stop possible future crimes from occurring.

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, is looking into providing funding for scientists to create methods to scour billions of emails in order to catch criminals before they can carry out their heinous crimes.

Think about the shootings this previous year, including the terrible Fort Hood shooting where a Army Major took up arms against his own country, killing 13 before being subdued. Think about how it was only after this horrendous event that email correspondence between him and an important Islamic extremist were discovered which could have been used to help 13 people survive.

This time, let's not make the mistake of trying to block this move.

Of course, we are giving up some liberties in order to live safer, but at what point must the safety of our country as a whole come before our individual liberties? During the passage of the patriot act, which carried provisions in the same vein as this proposed email-searching method, the country responded in outrage, claiming that we could still fight terrorism without violating people's rights. But look at where we are now and what has happened since then.

In these shaky times, we need this upped level of control. Let us not be reactionary to catastrophes any longer, let us take a proactive stance and stop them before they even see the glimmer of light.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Obama rallies for unrepresentative Representative.

President Obama has decided to travel to Charlottesville, Virginia in order to rally for Representative Tom Perriello, who ironically, given his title, has done very little actual representing.

For those of you who don't know, Tom Perriello represents the Fifth Congressional District in Virginia, a district that is very conservative in its social politics.

Instead of reflecting the thoughts and wants of the people who voted him in, however, Rep. Perriello decided he wanted to establish "independence," and voted incredibly liberally on a great number of issues. Apparently ignoring the people who just voted for you for the first time is a good idea for your political career.

To count, Perriello has supported Obama's healthcare, stimulus, and energy legislation, and has taken incredible heat for doing it from his supporters, prompting Obama's visit.

Now, I don't know about you, but my view of an elected official is someone who has been voted into office by the people, and therefore must serve and exist for the people. Tom Perriello has done neither. What he has done, however, is cleverly convince to the federal government to get him out of his tight situation back home. Without Obama's help, it isn't likely that Perriello will win the next election, but really, who expects to win after they blatantly opposing their electors.

President Obama should not be helping Perriello. Obama has a responsibility as President of the United States to oversee the fact that the people are being represented fairly in politics, something Perriello is the antithesis of currently. Obama really needs to rethink the rally, something many analysts say is a thank-you note for his blatant opposition towards the electors. Does he really want to support someone who doesn't support the people?

The best torture around.

After a devastating loss to the Angels in 2002, the Giants have finally managed to claw their way back to the World Series! Come Wednesday, they will be facing the Rangers in a gentleman's duel of sweat, balls (as opposed to strikes) and fisticuffs. With the momentum that the Giants have gained throughout the post season, they are coming up smelling like roses for their series against the Texas Rangers.

Everyone gives credit to the Giants for their fantastic pitching line up, but people tend to overlook the Giants' hitting ability. Arguably our biggest hitter, Pablo Sandoval, has huge holes in his swing. Not to mention the fact that it seems as if Uribe and Sandoval are competing on how many times they can swing at the first pitch, regardless of how far out of the strike zone it may be. People have also been praising Cody Ross for his hitting ability, but they seem to forget that in the regular season he dropped firecrackers compared to the bombs he dropped against the Phillies. It's probably due to the fact that Cody Ross' favorite pitch is anything that comes low inside and all of his home runs in the post season were low inside pitches.

The Rangers however, are not to be taken lightly. Their hitting team is intimidating to say the least. If we stack up pitchers like Sanchez who break under pressure, we're looking at a short series and a new post season home run record. Fortunately for the Giants however, the bias of the umpires in previous matches will be eliminated. The League admitted to some biased calls from the umpires in the Giants vs Phillies series as they did not want two west coast teams playing each other due to the loss in TV revenue.

I understand that my post may seem a little negative in spirit, but I love the Giants. They've hosted both of my all-time favorite baseball players, J.T. Snow and Brian Wilson. Brian Wilson due to the fact that he generally reminds me of a cartoon character and J.T. Snow because his record stands for itself.

How do you baseball fans feel about the upcoming series against the Rangers?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Church blasts anatomist for online marketing

Recently, Gunther Von Hagens of Body World exhibition fame attempted to sell his collection of plastinated bodies for a profit online. He has met fierce criticism from a church he does not even associate himself with, namely the German Protestant Church community.

For those of you who don't know, plastination is the scientific process by which the blood and fat in a body is replaced with certain plastics in order to preserve the body so that it can be touched in the future without risk of decay or rot. This amazing process was invented by Gunther Von Hagens himself in around 1979, and he has received multiple patents for this process both in the United States and in Germany.

To get a good look at what plastination looks like, youtube the Body World Exhibition; I won't post it here as it may offend readers.

Back to the main point: I believe that the church is being completely unreasonable in their opposition to Gunther Von Hagens' decision to sell his creations. They claim that "human dignity" remains "sacrosanct," even after death, but could any fate-after-death be better than plastination? Compared to a corpse rotting six feet under the ground, plastinated body parts retain most of their properties and remain in good condition.

Not only that, a regular corpse can only be used in its individual parts for research and other purposes due to the nature of storage freezers. Plastinated body parts opens up a whole new realm for research where full bodies still relatively similar to when they were alive can be studied. To add on to this, Von Hagens requires purchasers to submit written proof that the body parts are being used for research or teaching purposes.

While the Church feels that Von Hagens is promoting a "corpse trade" and that he is, "breaking a taboo," it is important to remember that the benefits that these bodies can bring, and the specific conditions for sale, proves the negative connotations of a "corpse trade" to be incorrect. Sure, maybe selling body parts makes some people uneasy, but is this really a taboo that we can afford to allow to live in our current, modern times? The future lies in developments in science; in order to look towards the future, we need to open up new pathways to study the human body.

There is no real controversy, only a conservative religious group once again trying to stop advancement because it violates the group's own, specific moral standards.

Iran sets restrictions on social sciences.

Iran has imposed restrictions on 12 different social sciences that were deemed to be based on the 'Western' school of thought and were incompatible with Islamic teachings. The restrictions have been set on studies such as law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science, women's studies and human rights. "The content of the current courses in the 12 subjects is not in harmony with religious fundamentals and they are based on Western schools of thought," said senior education official Abolfazl Hassani to state radio.

The restrictions prevent universities from opening new departments in these subjects and will revise over 70 percent of the content in current social science courses. In 2009, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a public announcement stating that the subjects could lead to "religious doubt". Out of the 3.5 million students studying at Iranian universities, 2 million are currently studying a social science, according to government statistics.

This is one of many examples of Iran's fundamentalist Islamic beliefs interfering with human rights. In my opinion, with the hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign to turn Iran into a strictly fundamentalist Islamic nation, there is no room for social tolerance. With cases such as Monired Baradaran (a human rights activist who was imprisoned for 9 years due to her opposition of Iran's faith based regime) I find it apparent that Iran needs separation of mosque and state. A plethora of liberal arts professors are being forced into retirement by the Iranian government under the expectations that any form of protest will be met with jail and torture as it has in the past.

Relating back to our teenage lives, how would you feel if Mr. Silton was replaced with Mr./Mrs. (Blank) who only taught what agreed with his/her religious ideals? Also, students and teachers alike both protested laying off teachers from Aragon High School. What if your peaceful protests led to your imprisonment?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Obama on the Daily Show

So while watching Comedy Central in between my multiple events this weekend, I saw a commercial promoting Obama's appearance on the Daily Show with John Stewart this Wednesday.

To be honest at first I was shocked. It seemed to me that Mr. Obama had better things to do as our President then be on a comedic and "fake" news show.

But after thinking about it more I realized that going on to the Daily Show may not be the worst of moves. I mean really it couldn't be any worse then having Town Hall meetings on MTV or appearing on Mythbusters to promote educational subjects.

In fact the Daily Show and its counter part the Colbert Report are no more "fake" or misleading then any other news show on CNN or Fox News. It also might be smart for Obama to appear on this kind of show to speak to a new set of the population. Anyways, the only risk he is really taking in his appearance is well getting skewered by John Stewart.

What do you all think is this a wise move by the president or is it just another way to increase his celebrity status? We'll see on Wednesday I guess.

SJ Councilman Accused of Stealing... Signs?

Tom Saggau of the police and firefighter unions' "No-on-V campaign" saw councilman Pierluigi Oliverio pulling down a "No-on-V" sign. Measure V is a proposed bill that would "limit police and firefighter pay and pension increases".

Oliverio said it was public property, and thus the poster was hung illegally in accordance with SJ law.

Saggau said it was private property, and thus Oliverio pulling down the sign was illegal. To uphold his values, Saggau confronted Oliverio, at which point Saggau reports Oliverio turned his back and sped away. A short while later, about a half dozen off-duty police officers and firefighters "got up in Oliverio's face", brandishing "No-on-V" signs and shouting things at him.

Ridiculous and unnecessary treatment of a harmless act? I THINK NOT.

Oliverio is an elected official. This is not a debate about how you feel on the issue, or whether or not you support Measure V. This is about Oliverio's irresponsible and reckless actions. He physically tried to BLOCK OFF his opposition's views from reaching the public. That is downright ridiculous. It is corrupt. It is dirty. It is everything that an elected official should NOT do. Not to mention that it is a crime. The guy took the sign from a corner of two streets in a residential neighborhood. So even if it's not technically private property (which I think it is), Oliverio knew full well he was trying to eliminate his opposition.

I call for Oliverio's immediate resignation. Something must be done.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

More money same benefit?

So did you know it is becoming a lot easier to get food stamps in some states? Since 2007 requirements for food stamps have gotten easier to meet in 30 states. This might explain why at this point in time we have a record number of 42 million people relying on them.

Just one example listed in the article, although on the higher end of the spectrum, is Hawaii. Here the limit for earning food stamps is $59,328 a year. Compare this to the pre-Oct. 1 limit of $38,568 and you see quite an increase.

In all the number of people on food stamps has risen dramatically. In May of 2007 only 27 million people were participating in the program. That number has increased by 70% to current levels where 1 in 8 Americans are in the program.

As for the program, it provides families a per person average of $133 dollars per month. This money can be used to buy diet staple foods such as bread, milk, fruits, and vegetables. On the other hand the program has been a big target of Republicans this mid-term season. Republicans are calling it just another federal entitlement program that could be cut back as result of Republican policies to create jobs.

Anyways, what do you think of the food stamp program? I mean personally I believe it is a great program that allows family to spend money on things other than food. I also do not like the Republicans targeting it because it is such a widely used and beneficial program. But maybe it has become to easy for it to be accessed? I don't know what do y'all think of the situation?

NPR too liberal?

Okay so I don't know how many of you are aware of the situation and controversy surrounding NPR right now. But here is a quick summary for those who don't.

Basically, NPR fired one of their long time commentators, Juan Williams, after he appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show and made some controversial statements. The statements that got Mr. Williams in trouble pertained to Muslims. The first was when Bill O'Reilly asked if their was a "Muslim dilemma" in the country and he agreed. But the statement that has got Mr. Williams the most heat is when he in essence said that he gets nervous and fearful if he sees someone on a plane in Muslim clothing.
Personally, I feel that those statements were to say the least not well thought out and probably a little bigoted. On the other hand, Mr. Williams should have the right to express his feelings and opinion on a question without having to fear for his job. Also, the statement and feeling he has, while as I said before a little bigoted, is probably shared by a large percentage of Americans.

As for NPR, I question the rational behind the firing. I mean if it is solely based on these comments that is quite extreme to do because a man has a right to free speech even if his employer may not share his point of view. On the other hand they do have a right to protect their public image and if this is a common occurrence with this reporter then maybe it is warranted.

Anyways what do ya'll think about this? Should he have been fired? Are his comments true or are they just that of a bigot? Lets hear it...

Lawsuit brought against McDonalds for toys

A nutrition group is threatening to sue McDonald's if the fast food chain does not remove its toys from its Happy Meals. The group says that McDonald's is effectively "luring" children to eat unhealthy with these toys, and is using deceptive marketing.

This lawsuit is completely and utterly ridiculous. It is ultimately in the hands of the parents whether their children should be allowed to eat these Happy Meals. Happy Meals are aimed at young children. I don't think a three and a half foot tall boy of the age of 6 would be able to get to McDonald's by himself and buy the meal. No, no, no. The responsibility rests with the parents. If parents are idiotic enough to drive their 6 year old son to McDonald's twice a week because little Bobby is begging for one of those toys, then good riddance.

And actually, McDonald's has taken steps to make its foods more healthy with a variety of menu options for kids. McDonald's has given kids milk with Happy Meals for quite a while. Recently the chain introduced the option of "apple dippers", a move in the healthy direction.

Nevertheless, McDonald's is in no way responsible for the varying (unhealthy) eating habits of children. Simply put, the fast food chain is a business, and a genius one at that. They put those toys out there to attract children. But the children aren't the one deciding whether they can go to McDonald's, are they?

That is all.

Air marshalls flee Brazil when they're charged with assault

Two U.S. Air Marshals arrested the wife of a Brazilian judge. They were then arrested by Brazilian authorities, and had their travel documents confiscated. But ahoy! They had alternate documents, and snuck out of the country the same day, because they thought the charges were trumped up.

So hey. Anyone notice anything fishy happening here? Two United States law enforcement officers evading punishment because they believe they have the right to decide whether the charges being brought against them are valid or not? What the hell gives them the right to decide? Last I checked, whether you're in Brazil or the United States, you can't dodge the police when you're arrested just because you believe the charges are trumped up.

But the air marshals did. And now, we have a sticky situation between the governments of the United States & Brazil on our hands. U.S. officials, however, have sided with the marshals (surprise, eh?) and issued a statement saying that they believe the marshals acted appropriately in leaving Brazil. Right. So evading law enforcement is okay now, right? Last I checked, it was a felony. Wake up.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do You D.A.R.E. turn in your parents?

Recently I heard about this interesting story on the radio I think. Anyways i went home and looked it up to get the whole story It involves this drug prevention program called D.A.R.E. that visits schools around the country to do lessons on drugs in order to prevent kids from using them.
So after visiting a NC elementary school to do a "lesson" on Marijuana, one of the students, a 5th grader to be precise, came back the next day with a baggie of weed. The weed had been stolen from his parents and he had brought it to school in order to turn it in to the school officer.
As a result of this, the parents have been arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia but weren't jailed on the condition that they appear in court. Furthermore, the 5th grader and his sister have been removed from their parents house by social services at the moment and are living with relatives.
For me this story was a little shocking. I mean first of all what could these D.A.R.E. people have said that made this child feel like he had to go home and find his parents stash of weed to turn them in. On the other hand if your the parents how can you if plan to have some marijuana in a house with children allow it to be in a place where your kid could find it and access it. Overall, I'm kind of looking forward to hear the whole story and to see how this plays out with the kids as well. I mean I don't want to see them taken away from their parents but if the weed was just lying out on the coffee table for example I think there maybe some repercussions. Lastly, I was thinking while reading this further if I could or would turn my parents or family in for something like this or similar. Personally, I don't think I could. But what about y'all could you turn them in for something similar? or any crime at all?

Return of the Führer?

Kind of a follow up here to my previous post here. Another result of that poll I mentioned at the end of the last post was that 13% of German citizens would welcome a "Führer" or someone to rule the country with a strong hand. Now while this may not be a huge percent of the population in Germany I still think that it is a shocking statistic.
German citizens aren't the only ones shifting to the far right though the whole of Europe is. It is happening in Austria, Holland, and even the notoriously open and liberal Sweden. Far right parties running on anti-Islamic platforms are gaining significant influence and even power. The main platform for a growing party in Holland is to ban the Qur'an and the practice of Islam as a whole from the Low Countries.
Does anyone else fear that this extremism and Islamophobia will make the jump westward to the US? Is it already here? Or is this just a passing phase as people or turning to whatever the can to feel safer in their lives? For me, I think it might be mostly the last one as the current state of the world just have people scared and looking to new and more extreme governments to make the feel safe. But what do you think?

Obama to appear on "Mythbusters"

It was revealed on Monday that Obama is to appear on the television show "Mythbusters", a show that attempts to "separate fact from fiction" in various topics. The episode is set to air on December 8. The White House has commented on the reasoning for such an appearance, saying that the subjects of science, math, and engineering must be promoted, because low interest in these subjects among students could "hurt the economy."

Hmmmm. That seems like a stretch to me, eh? We're afraid of low interest in math, so Obama is going to appear on Mythbusters? And this appearance is supposed to somehow "help the economy"? Right. While the economy is still crawling and much of the country is in a dire financial situation, the president films some propaganda that will do absolutely nothing to help... anyone?

I think this TV show appearance by Obama is a complete waste of time. We, the American people, elected our president to pursue policy that would better our lives. How does an appearance on this show achieve this?

Obama, in fact, is being completely counterproductive to what really needs to happen if we want to increase interest in these subjects. We need more opportunities for children, we need to lessen poverty, we need to give schools more money. But no. We get a Mythbusters appearance instead?

And not only this Mythbusters appearance. We also got an Obama appearance at an MTV town hall meeting last week. Sounds beneficial, right? No, not really.

Hey, lets lay off 1800 people after reporting higher-than-expected profits!

Well hai guise. Notice anything wrong with this headline?

"Nokia Oyj's new chief Stephen Elop put his imprint on the company on Thursday, cutting 1,800 jobs and delaying a key product after the world's largest handset maker reported stronger-than-expected profits."

This is an outrage. Nokia's shares have risen over 9%, to get to their highest level in more than 20 weeks. Average sale price for phones rose considerably, yet Nokia is cutting 3% of its staff, 1800 people. Nokia cites the layoffs as being a result of "part and component shortages"; yet, they have forecasted a profit margin of 10-12% in the December quarter.

Nokia should be doing something on their end to fix these shortages, and should not have to resort to laying off employees. This is purely a mistake on their end, and honest, hard-working people should not be penalized for the company's inability to operate effectively and efficiently.

These layoffs are unacceptable. Something must be done.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Multi-cultural society has failed. WHAT?

So this might be a little old news but I have only got around to reading the article today. Anyways here is the lowdown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at meeting with younger members for her party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that "Multikulti" the idea that your are living side by side happily has "failed, totally," and that "[Germans] should feel tied to Christian values." But wait thats not the end of it she continues saying, "Those who don't accept them have no place [in Germany]," Personally these statements scare me. But not all of her statements were so radical and in fact some of them I actually agreed with. For example' later she said that the government shouldn't be "subsidizing immigrants" which is a completely rational statement. For me though, I most agreed with her idea that the government has the right to demand certain things from immigrants such as to learning and mastering the language of the land, German, as well as giving up radical practices like forced marriage. In the end though her statements weren't even the scariest part the polls of German citizens were. These polls showed that a third of Germans feel that the country is "over-run by foreigners" and that foreigners should be sent home in hard economic times where jobs run low. Lastly the poll should 60% yes 60% felt that Muslims should have their religious practices significantly curbed. I mean this is really troubling to me. I have always grown up feeling that Europe was one of the most liberal places on the planet. But between the articles I've been reading and reports from family and friends who have recently visited or even live in Europe it sounds to me as if racism and the radical right is growing in the masses. I mean has anyone else heard of this? How do you feel about Chancellor Merkel's comments? Do they or the polls scare you in anyway? Lastly, does anyone think we will see another polarizing political figure rise in Europe ever again to lead them "forward" like in the past?

What has the world come to...

So I just heard a news story out of New Jersey that made me question the nature of our country and people in general. A New Jersey women, Katherine O'conner, while out and about with her boyfriend suffered a major asthma attack but did not have her inhaler on her at the time. Luckily they were quite close to a CVS Pharmacy and he was able to rush into the store to find the pharmacist to buy an inhaler. Coming out to a price of $21.50 the boyfriend hurriedly reached within his pocket to find he had only a $20 bill and because he didn't have the extra change the pharmacist refused to sell him the inhaler. The boyfriend begged and even offered up his wallet, cell phone, and informed the pharmacists he would come back with the money after he had helped his girlfriend still the pharmacist refused. He was prepared to potential watch a women die in front of him for $1.50. Luckily the boyfriend was able to call a personal friend who was a paramedic and had an inhaler and was able to arrive just in time for the women. But really $1.50 this man couldn't have let that go for a young womens life? It is stories like this and the one about the homeless man who bleed to death last year that consistently shock me. How can you watch a person suffer and even die? What could bring you to make such a decision? I mean even if you feared for you job the man offered you his wallet, phone, and to return with the money I should think that would be ample info to protect you in the case you got in trouble for selling a inhaler for $1.50 less. Anyways what do you all think? And how would you have handled this?

Wait... Homer Simpson is Catholic?

So, the Vatican has just recently advocated for "The Simpsons," saying that the Simpson family is devoutly Catholic, and that parents should let their children watch.

This is a supreme example of the church overstepping its bounds. How can the Vatican extend its influence over television shows?

I mean, the fact that Al Jean, the executive producer of the Simpsons has reinforced that the family is clearly NOT Catholic nulls the Vatican's statement in itself. "We've pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic," Jean said. "I really don't think he could go without eating meat on Fridays -- for even an hour."

Furthermore, the Vatican's advocation for the show may have many ill-fated effects on children. Families who are devoutly Catholic may be largely influenced by the church's decision, and may allow their (very) underage children to watch. The show frequently explores topics like marijuana, drugs, sex, guns, homosexuality, and adultery. Which our young children should be exposed to? Yeah... right. Right. I mean... you'd expect these issues to come up in a Sesame Street episode as well. Right? Right? Hell no.

And oh yeah, oh yeah, I know that it's the parents decision in the end to allow their children to view, but hey, the Vatican is advocating for a side when it is clearly out of their bounds. The Vatican has gone too far. Something must be done.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fifteen-year old boy had rifle, parents recieve $500,000. What?

In March of 2008, Jose Luis Buenrostro was killed by 3 gang-unit police officers in East Oakland. He was 15 years old. The three officers say that Buenrostro pulled out a rifle from his pants and pointed it at them, at which point they killed the boy. Just recently, the city of Oakland settled with Buenrostro's family, awarding them $500,000.

Buenrostro's parents contested that the three officers drove up to their son, and shot him without cause. The officers were clearly identified as police, wearing raid body armor.

This is ridiculous. The lawyer for the Buenrostro family has ADMITTED that Buenrostro was indeed carrying a rifle, saying "The police overreacted, and although he may have had possession of a (rifle), he did not point the gun at the officers. Witnesses said he was putting his hands up when he was shot." So the officers just happened to go up to a kid in their car, and shoot the kid? And it just so happened that this kid had a rifle in his pants? Right. The boy clearly took out his weapon, brandished it, and did something threatening with it to make the officers react the way they did.

Now I'm not saying that I don't regret the killing; I wish some other alternative could have been employed, and the boy's life could have been spared. But seriously now. He has a rifle. He's fifteen. The setting is Oakland, the country's 3rd most dangerous city as of 2009. I think police have a little right to be cautious. And when they see a rifle and any hint of any movement with that rifle, I think they have a right to PROTECT THEMSELVES, because that moment could potentially be their last. So is the $500,000 really justified? Hell no. Again, do I wish the boy was still alive? Hell yes, but that won't change the fact that the police likely had no viable alternative than to take action when they saw he HAD A RIFLE.

But hey, just my opinion.

Man sues over mercury content in canned tuna

Just in the past couple days, a man in New York sued "BumbleBee" tuna after medical tests revealed that he had metal poisoning from the mercury content in the cans that holds the tuna. His mercury levels were more than double the normal amount.

The man, Lee Porrazzo, apparently ate about 10 cans of tuna a week for a couple of years. He is suing BumbleBee for negligence, as well as the fact that the cans of tuna were priced at $1, which made it easy for Porrazzo to buy in bulk. Porrazzo has stated that he started eating the tutna because BumbleBee labeled it as "heart healthy."

Now, most websites that are reporting this story are doing so in a quite sarcastic tone, more or less scoffing at the lawsuit. However, I implore you to take another look. People, at the most basic level, deserve the right to do what they want (don't give me that crap about "oh, so do I get to murder people?); In this sense, Porrazzo has all the right in the world to eat what he wants without having to worry about his health. Remember, the company did label the tuna as benefiting the heart. You don't see McDonalds widely advertising the Big Mac as healthy, do you? BumbleBee was misleading, plain and simple. And they should pay.

And yes, yes, I admit, the pricing aspect of the lawsuit is mildly ridiculous; however, BumbleBee must be held accountable for its negligent and misleading labeling of the tuna. Eating this tuna leads to metal poisoning, not healthy hearts. Porrazzo's lawsuit must be successful.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Justin Bieber -- Homophobic Bullying Victim

During a game of laser tag, one kid went out of his way to target Justin repeatedly.
Sources say that Bieber became frustrated when the kid cornered him and wouldn't stop shooting and when Bieber told him, "That's enough". The aggressive kid responded with multiple taunts and repeatedly calling Justin a "f****t". Justin did not hit him, but pushed him away and left. Law enforcement says it was the boy's father, who is a lawyer, who filed the complaint hours later. Claiming that Justin had hit the aggressive kid. The police investigation is ongoing, but sources say police already know the fault does not lie with Bieber.

Personallyy, I'm not a fan of Mr. Bieber. I think his music is kind of overrated. (Please don't kill me Bieber fans!) But no one deserves to be called names and bullied. The aggressive kid must think he's pretty-darn-cool picking on Justin and calling him "the f word", to me that shows complete immaturity. People that are bullies are people who have the lowest self-esteem and attempt to heighten it by putting others' self esteem down. To me, the whole idea of it is utterly pathetic.
What kind of good lawyer or father would defend their son who might-have-been-hit because he was really asking for it? I'm sure there are plenty of law suit cases that are similar to this. Even simply at school, bullies get their butts-kicked and go cry to the principal. Of course, I don't believe in "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" but seriously, if you bully someone and get hit or beaten up, you got what you asked for. Don't go around crying about it. If Justin did hit the kid, I wouldn't blame him. The kid flat-out deserved it.


A Florida produce company is excited to unveil its new product on Saturday at the Produce Industry Trade Show in Orlando.

Yes, a colorful spin on the classic crunchy vegetable, celery.

American customers consume, on average, about 6 pounds of celery for every person.

Red celery will be available at select stores for testing. Starting at the West coast, Northwest and Southwest. How will Americans react to this bright, unique vegetable?

It took nearly 20 years to breed this new type of celery using only natural breeding methods.

Would you eat red celery?

Republican funding surge provides crucial advantage

With a huge amount of outside money coming into the Republican party, Republicans are now in the running for previously safe Democratic House seats. Advocacy groups such as American Crossroads and the American Actions Network are paying over $50 million to back Republican candidates on top of the over $50 million already spent by Republican's House campaign.

The Republican's strategy is to put money into races for every Democratic seat possible so that Democrats will be forced to spend defensively and choose where to cut their losses. Already incumbents such as Representative Steve Driehaus and Kathy Dalhkemper have had financial support withdrawn so funds can be used elsewhere.

Now the GOP is putting money into races in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Tennessee that were once out of reach for Republicans. Republican strategists also hope to take victories in suburbs across the country that were typically Democratic.

Since we have mentioned spending limits in class, is this a situation that requires limits? Is it fair that money has such a huge roll in swaying elections? Is it constitutional to let the wealthy spend their money where they want, or is it unconstitutional that they can have a huge amount of power because of their money?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Palestinians weighing alternatives to peace talks

In the West Bank, Palestinians now look for an alternative to peace talks with Israel as a result of Israel's new plans to build 238 new houses for Jews on land that was previously Palestinian, but has been won by the Israelis through war. Despite this talk, Palestinians will probably not leap into any drastic action before November 2 because Arab leaders have promised the Obama Administration that they would take more time to try and relaunch negotiations.

These negotiations ended when Israel refused to continue a limited curb on the building of settlements in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel. This created a set back for negotiations because Israel refused to back down even though the international community deemed it illegal. Since Palestinians want to make these areas their state, they want to end negotiations to stop what they see as a land grab. Now separations is more difficult than ever with half a million Israelis living in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

As an alternative to more negotiations, Palestinians may go to the UN and the security council to try to make the UN recognize a Palestinian state in their three desired territories. Unfortunately for them, the US would probably veto the move and end that option. Basically, the fate of Palestinians (and Israelis) is in American hands.

Do you think that it is good or bad for Americans to have such a huge amount of responsibility for a conflict that is honestly really none of our business. On on hand, the US could benefit from more friendly foreign relations, but on the other hand, a bad outcome would reflect badly.

Also, in this case, what would you do to solve this ongoing problem that has lasted for years. Is war going to be necessary in the end, or can these two peoples find a way to coexist in peace? If you believe peace is not possible, which side is more justified?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shoplifter's Unusual Punishment.


If you aren't able to watch the video, here's what went down:
A 18-year old tries to shoplift at a Halloween store in Virginia and got caught. The owner decided that instead of giving this guy a record and involving trial and law etc. He decided to punish the theif by making him stand outside the store wearing a Bert (from Seasame Street) costume and holding a sign that says " I got caught shoplifting at Halloween Express". The 18-year old has to stand for 6 hours over a period of 2 days.

-- In my opinion, this kid got really lucky. Not only would he be charged as an adult for his crimes he would have this crime on record for the rest of his life. (Which colleges and potential employers look at) I mean standing outside for 6 hours is nothing compared to a permament record and maybe some jail time. It's ridiculous that he would even attempt to steal from a Halloween store out of all places. .. I mean really. At 18 years old.. you're an adult. And you're stealing Halloween costumes.. I find that really immature. What is your opinion on this interesting punishment? Was the owner of the shop being too nice?

Blind hikers know no limits at Grand Canyon

Before dawn 13 blind and virtually impaired hikers begin a 24.3 mile trek into the Grand Canyon. This is no paved road--even for hikers with full sight one wrong step could lead to a fatal or serious injury. However, these blind hikers are determined to prove to the world that blind people can do anything. Even when one hiker falls and gashes his leg so badly that he has to be flown out be helicopter, not one of the others try to turn back.

The visually impaired hikers do have guides, but the guides aren't there to hold the hikers hands. The guides just wear bells on their packs and warn hikers if they start to come too close to an edge.

Although 12-year-old Dillan Owens begins wheezing from fatigue and the altitude, his father urges him to finish.

Is this hike important to prove a point or is it simply madness? If you were the parent of a visually impaired 12-year-old child, would you encourage him to continue to build character or quit to ensure safety? And if you were blind, would you joint the hike?

Bobblehead meg video

Every thing that this video claims is proven by different news sources.  It seems pretty reliable but I cant seem to find who funded this video.  I'm almost positive that the democrats have something to do with this add, but at the same time the video never explicitly tells you to vote for Brown.  This is a very clever add, but someone will be getting quite a bit of money from this because they are planning on selling the Meg bobble head they used in the video in a auction.