Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Supreme Court Appears Unmoved by California's Prison Arguments

     After a very heated oral argument on Tuesday a slim majority of the Supreme Court justices sided with advocates who said that the state had not provided humane and adequate care for sick and mentally-ill patients.  However, despite decades of lawsuits and promises from the governor, the justices decleared that the state has still not reduced the "severe crowding" related to the problem.  Yet some members feared, and with good reason, that a mass release would lead to an overall surge in crime.  I live in California and the idea of releasing 40,000 prisoners does not really sit too comfortably in  my mind; furthermore, there are currently 148,000 inmates so the forced releasal of 1/3 of the state's criminals can not bode too well for our society.
     The decision is likely to come in a few months in Schwarzenegger vs. Plata but im curious as to what you guys think of this idea.  Surely the releasal of rapists and murderers onto the streets can not be helpful, yet what might some other options be for California if given a decision by the Supreme Court?

Applications Are Due

Today, November 30th, marks the deadline to file for an unemployment insurance extension. In several states, the unemployed are nearing the end of their federally and state funded unemployment compensation. Initial state compensation lasts for 26 weeks and federal payments resume for up to the next 73 weeks. Federal payments are broken up into 4 levels. Each level lasts 6-20 weeks and 5 months of extended benefits. Each time a compensation payment runs out, the receiver must apply to move to the next level. In most states, those that have run out of state benefits were restricted from federal benefits and were required to file their application by this weekend. Those already receiving federal benefits will not be able to move on to the next level, but will remain in their current one. President Obama has asked Congress to extend the benefits but they seem too caught up debating the multi-billion dollar price tag. Benefit checks will cease to come for about 2 million people in DECEMBER.
Should Congress hurry up and extend the deadline for the millions of unemployed relying on benefits?

Obama and Republicans Hopeful About a Deal on Bush Tax Cuts

    President Obama and Congressional Republicans expressed optimism today about an agreement on the tax cuts due to expire at year's end, greatly raising the possiblility of a much needed compromise that could avert a tax increase for virtually every working American.  The compromise came at the first face-to-face encounter between GOP leaders and the President following the heavy Democratic losses on election day.  Although no formal deal was made, the meeting marked a quick departure from the norm over the past two years, where Obama dealt extensively with Democrats-mainly because Republicans were attempting to block his every move.  The tax cuts would apply to people under all income groups, and although most Democrats are oppoosed to extending tax cuts for household incomes above 250,000$, they have signaled a "willingness to compromise" on this point.  The participants also emerged smiling about a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
      Now I'm just as skeptical as the next person but seeing as this is the first time Republicans have actually considered making serious compromises with the president, im beginging to wonder if this will eventually lead to even greater cooperation.  And even though this lame-duck congress will soon be out, it appears as though one last piece of legislation might be passed before the year is over.  Do you guys think that this spark of optimism may lead to greater coopertaion between Obama and the incoming Congress or is it merely media hype?
 Heres the link to the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpIDNB0eJxg

DADT: Pentagon approves

The "Don't ask, don' tell" policy established by Clinton has once again been pushed closer to being repealed. Obama says it won't affect the military and that they can embrace it. The year long review claimed that 9 out of 10 troops said that their "unit's ability to work with someone they thought was gay or lesbian was very good, good, or neither good nor bad and only 30% of service members oppose its repeal. Thinking hypothetically, its repeal would only have small short lasting effects on the military. One part of the article that particularly caught my eye was when "One Special Forces operative - a part of the military with higher resistance to the change - said, 'We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He's big, he's mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay." That part of the article tops as the cherry of the approval of the repeal of the DADT.

Obama says yes, 70% of the troops and of America says yes, why isn't the Senate saying yes?

1 out of 3 Drugged Driving

Before you can legally drive, you must be taught the road rules, driving safety, etc. One of the rules is that you can not consume alcohol (or anything that impairs your motor skills) and drive. Drugs, of course, fall under this restriction. Some drugs explicitly say that you should not consume a dosage and operate machinery, simply because it may impair motor skills. Surprisingly, a report stated that 1 out of 3 drivers in a fatal car crash had drugs in their system. The drugs that were detected were not specifically illegal or could cause an impairment on motor skills. But 1 out of 3 drivers is an extremely high number. Per se laws make it illegal to drive a vehicle above a certain alcohol level, as measured by a blood or breath test. Considering the 1 out of 3 diagnosed drugged drivers, what kind of law should be established with drugged driving?

A Successful One Man Band or An Overreaching Self-Assumed Mandate?

A recent Economist depiction of President Obama as a one man band

Noticing the general liberal bias of the Aragon community and our blog (and in a possible attempt to obscure my own), I leave you with these parting thoughts in my final post: from healthcare to economic stimulus to nuclear proliferation to the War on Terror, President Obama took on a rather large number of issues upon assuming presidency. Now, he definitely has made significant progress in many of these realms (e.g., revitalizing the American economy, increasing diplomatic efforts, etc.), but many of his initiatives have made no significant headway (e.g., making meaningful advances in Iraq and Afghanistan, quelling tensions on the Korean peninsula, increasing bipartisanship, etc.), and this lack of progress certainly cost the President in the recent midterm elections. As such, how do you assess Obama's initiatives and presidency? Is his delving into an umpteen number of issues warranted? Or is he simply overreaching his mandate?

Do you feel represented by President Obama and his agenda?

Well, in the case that you don't, please consider voicing your opinion below to at least have your voice heard by your student government!

(Shameless advertising never gets old ;])

Monday, November 29, 2010


We're nearing the end of a decade and this week, TIME is commemorating this decade with TIME Frame articles. Some people they thought worth mentioning were "The Men Who Stole the World", the 2000 predecessors of Steve Jobs and his iTunes. In 1999 19 year old Shawn Fanning wrote Napster, the online music sharing service and although Napster is practically dead Fanning revolutionized the entertainment industry. Following him were various hackers and programmers who created other ways to pirate music, movies and more such as Gnutella, Snocap, doubleTwist, Bit Torrent and Limewire.
The government, entertainment industry executives and lawyers may see them as threats who are pirating and bringing down the entertainment industry however, many teenagers probably worship them because we can now save our $0.99 on a bag of Cheetos instead. But the question is, is piracy really a bad thing? Because others call it freedom.
For example Jon Lech Johansen didn't intend to pirate, he just wanted to watch a DVD on his computer. The problem was his 1999 Linux didn't support DVD's therefore he wrote his own program. He was tried twice in court for hacking, but you can't be jailed for decrypting a DVD you paid for. The hackers just write the codes, but what the code does is give power it its users. Are having these powers all that bad?

Tiny Little Benjamin Buttons?

    Scientists in Boston, Massachusetts have made an amazing breakthrough, taking aging mice and turning them young again.  Just like the title character in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", the mice appeared not only to stop aging but grow younger, looking healthier and biologically fit.  Biologists at Harvard Medical School were able to pull off the feat by using "telomeres"-the protective DNA "caps" on the ends of chromosomes.  The caps prevent our chromosomes from "fraying" and the genes inside from unravelling, leaving biologists to speculate what would happen if an enzyme saturated with the telomerase gene would slow the aging process.  Using 6 six month old mice as templates (80 human years), scientists were able to not only slow the aging process, it actually appeared to undo premature aging so that the mice became the "physiological equivalent" of young adults.  The mice's shrunken brains increased and the coat hair was literally restored to a "new sheen"!
    Now this may seem like quite a stretch, but I actually believe that this type of technology could eventually be used on humans in the near future.  Rather than being a type of anabolic steroid, which merely enhances growth rate, this new telomerase gene is biologically meant to SLOW the decaying process.  Is something like this too far-fetched for practical use or will we begin to see many "Curious cases of Benjamin Buttons"?    

The C.I.A.'s Drive to Capturing al Qaeda's Leaders

I was curious about the current situation in the Middle East and I came across an article about how "close" the U.S. has gotten to al Qaeda's second in command: Alyman al-Zawahiri. How close exactly is the C.I.A to this man? They almost ran into him while pursuing another senior al Qaeda leader in Pakistan on February 2003, and in 2004 the U.S. notified Pakistani officials that they suspected Zawahiri to be in a particular mountainous region in South Waziristan. So the Pakistanis bombed that location. What exactly came about with Zawahiri? According to the Associated Press who quoted officials, he suffered only minor injuries in the bombing. In January 2006, U.S. officials once again believed to have known the location of the terrorist leader. "U.S. officials said they thought al-Zawahiri left the meeting before the attack, but officials now believe he probably was never there." Reading that line made me wonder who exactly was not in the right state of mind, the national security producer or the C.I.A. If they suspected him to be at a location, why didn't they make a move or make any effort at all, considering it was "a high-level meeting with top al Qaeda operatives?

The article goes on to talk about how the U.S. almost had bin Laden shortly after 9/11. "CIA officers who were present at the battle in Tora Bora in December 2001 say they heard bin Laden on radio transmissions and called for U.S. ground forces to help get him." BUT, unfortunately, the U.S. commander in the region was not convinced with the intel and claimed that he "didn't have enough resources to send." This was fresh out of 9/11, the spike of the hunt for the people responsible for the attack on the nation. How exactly is it possible to not have enough resources to capture the main man who started it all?

US and South Korea refuse talks with North Korea

I found this very strange when I first read the title of this article. Apparently, The United States, South Korea, and Japan have denied China's request for emergency talks with North Korea. According to the Obama administration, " a return to the table with North Korea...would be rewarding the North for provocative behavior over the past week..." Instead, the Obama administration wants China to signal to North Korea that these aggressive behaviors will not be tolerated. So far, China has not condoned the DPRK for its actions.

Personally I feel like no one know what they're doing. The US, South Korea, and Japan do not want to talk with North Korea, but at the same time do not want to engage in open warfare. They are running out of options. China seems to be the big decider in the issue because it appears to be neutral in this conflict. UNFORTUNATELY, China wants to STAY neutral and is not taking any steps to solve the crisis.

Do you think the US is taking the right steps to solve this crisis, or do you think we should sit down and begin peace talks with North Korea?

High School Hostage Situation in Wisconsin

Although not much is known about the situation at hand, officials in Marinette County in northeastern Wisconsin (about 55 miles east of Green Bay) have just reported that a student is holding an unknown number of people hostage in a classroom in Marinette High School. As of right now, no injuries have been reported and police are at the scene. Nonetheless, the conflict is yet to be resolved and has the potential to turn quite ugly if calculated steps aren't taken soon.

Marinette High School's Logo

Given the lack of information at this point in time, I can't comment much on this event specifically, but this is truly a nerve-wracking development. After events as drastic as the Columbine High School and Virginia Tech massacres, one can't help but dread the transpiration of such events. Much has been done to keep weapons off of school grounds and gun control has been at the center of many national debates (including the premise for the United States v. Lopez debate). Nonetheless, such events continue to take place. Do you think that our government is doing enough to keep our schools safe Columbine-esque or should more be done?

The WikiLeaks Backlash

After Julian Assange's WikiLeaks recent exposé of the inner workings of the United States State Department and hundreds of corresponding embassies, Hillary Clinton, the United States Secretary of State has to head off on a tour of many of the countries that were criticized in the leaked reports. As such, this leak certainly complicates diplomatic matters for the former First Lady. You can see her slamming of the recent leaks in the following video:

The nation's Attorney General, Eric Holder, expressed that action against Assange may be necessary. Do you feel that the WikiLeaks are a viable threat to our national interests and diplomatic relations? Should Assange be be punished for the criminal nature of his actions? Or should he be applauded for his audacity and commitment to revealing the truth?

On a related tangent, the WikiLeaks website was ironically hacked and taken down by an annoyed hacker who goes by the name of The Jester on Sunday evening. A hacker getting hacked, fancy that. More deatails regarding this unexpected occurrence can be found here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beloved Canadian dies at 84

Robots in the military

The military is considering adding more robots to help aid the soldiers on the battlefield. Currently, robots are being used in the military for tasks that may be too dangerous for humans. For example, some may be used for destroying hazardous material, spying on enemy bases from the sky, or defusing bombs. Now companies are working to create machines that may serve as sentries, scouts, or even soldiers! These robots come equipped with machine guns and grenade launcher and are ready to pick a fight. If these robots become employed on the battlefield, the number of casualties would decrease dramatically (for those controlling the robots). These machines have also proven to be mildly cost effective. However, there are some controversies surrounding these robotic commandos. First of all, these machines do not discriminate. The robots will not distinguish the difference between a civilian and a treat. Others believe that, because these machines are cost effective, wars can be started very easily.

What do you think?

Can Facebook and Twitter Predict Elections?

    It's simple, popularity helps in politics, especially when people "like" you.  And according to Facebook, during the November elections the candidate who more people "liked" won in 71% of elections.  For Twitter the candidates with more followers won in 74% of elections.  But in a away this isn't that surprising.  Because elections are based upon the opinions of the American people, a direct correlation can easily be seen because millions of Americans are apart of both Facebook and Twitter, and they are merely transferring what they say on social networking sites to the ballot. Yet the predictions are obviously not 100% accurate as Facebook failed to predict correct results from some "high profile" elections.  For example, Delaware's Christine O' Donnell, a tea party Republican running for Senate, had more Twitter and Facebook fans than her Democratic opponent.  But the star of the " I am not a witch" ad could not seem to win more than a measly 17% of the vote.  
   Now is it possible that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have the power to effectively predict the outcomes of elections?  Or are they simply just inaccurate popularity charts, in which the people completely change their mind when filling out the ballot?  

Data Mining: A New Power Metric

Upon a rather unexpected discovery, CNN's Fareed Zakaria reported that 15% of all global web traffic was redirected through China on April 8th, 2010. Although this may seem like an esoteric concern at first, this breach is analogous to all of the mail of 15% of the world's zip codes going to China, being copied there, and then being redirected to their intended destinations. The chief Chinese telecommunications company has records of 15% of the world's emails, web history, text messages, video calls, etc. from that day. Zakaria further amplified concerns by asserting that the redirected web traffic included American .gov and .mil domains, potentially jeopardizing national security.

Although there is no indication of Chinese maleficence (for all we know, this redirection of private information could have simply been an accident), there is significant reason to be concerned about the general lack of web security around the globe. Personally, I don't believe that China had any premeditated ill-intentions, but we must be wary of future breaches. Much of life today is controlled by computers (including power grids, missiles, water supply, etc.) and no one can afford classified information falling into the wrong hands. In this technological day and age, the fortification of our web activity is as important as the fortification of our borders and stronger steps must be taken to assure the security of our electronic infrastructure.

Is BipartisanSHIP but a relic of a distant past?

The Republicans were generously rewarded for a dysfunctional (or deliberate, take your pick) 111th Congress in the recent midterm elections. Nonetheless, much of recent Republican rhetoric has hinged on the party's unwillingness to compromise with the Democrats in Congress. How do you feel about the prospective 112th Congress? Is it destined for even more gridlock than we already have? Or will we make any strides in resurrecting the bipartisanship that our nation so desperately needs?

Current indications are bleak, but I truly do hope that we don't have more START fiascoes in our near future.

Also, Stewart's brilliant analogies never fail to amaze me. I'm sure that the following video will be well worth your time: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-november-17-2010/-adult-spin-

Let's (Re)Move Palin (from the national spotlight)

In a recent radio interview for a conservative talk show, Palin took a graceless shot at Michelle Obama's recent "Let's Move" campaign, an initiative to make kids active and healthy. Palin, deeply offended by this flagrant disregard for individual rights, attributes Obama's efforts as a result of her "different worldview." Well, this only makes sense as Obama cannot see Russia from her White House backyard, providing her a significantly different view of the world than Palin. In any case, Palin asserted, "Take her anti-obesity thing that she is on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat."

Given that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past three decades, a third of Americans born after 2000 will become diabetic, and children are less active today than ever before in history, do you believe that it is the government's place to be facilitating the development of healthier habits among children? Or are you on board with Palin and her (seemingly irrelevant) calls for individuality?

Frankly, I am very appalled by Palin's ostentatious and shallow attempts to attract media attention and urge her to either mellow down or move down to Brazil and contest an election as a clown.

WikiLeaks is at it again

WikiLeaks is back and about to release even more documents to the public. The US, outraged that more documents are being leaked, released a statement stating that releasing more documents "place at risk the lives of countless individuals." The new documents are "expected to offer a glimpse into the worldwide communications of the State Department and its 297 embassies, consulates and missions" According to the state department, leaking such documents could potentially jeopardize relationships with allying nations.

Truthfully I feel like the United States is just making a mountain out of a mole hill. So far none of the information leaked on the website has proved to be any threat to the nation as a whole. I feel that the US is just sore that their security is not as tight as they want it to be.

Personally I believe that the people have the right to know more about what their government is spending tax payer dollars on, but on the other hand, I feel that government has the right to keep some information away from the public. Sometimes ignorance is a bliss.
How do you guys feel about this whole situation? Should nations stay open and honest about every activity they partake in, or should they be allowed to keep secrets?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Korean Tensions Rise

    Civilians from South Korea's Yeonpyeong island were ordered to take refuge in bomb shelters today, after artillery shots were heard on the North Korean mainland.  The shots rang out early in the morning and later that day the USS George Washington joined South Korean vessels for a few days of drills.  With the presence of an American warship in the Yellow Sea, tensions continue to rise and Kim Jong Il felt it necessary to repeat that any "infringement on the sovereignty of North Korea" would be met with force.

  I think that these over-dramatized events could lead to an all out conflict if left unattended.  Tensions have been escalading between North and South Korea ever since March and for once outside influences could help sway the countries away for an all-out conflict.  I do believe that the United States shouldn't be the world's police but to avoid any further crises outside "influence" should be present.  Do you guys think that U.S presence in the Yellow Sea is overbearing or rather needed for this situation? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Piecing Together Middle Eastern Peace

Well, our Middle Eastern operations are in quite the disarray at the moment. According to a recent study conducted by the Congressional Research Service, "With the July 27, 2010 enactment of the FY2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4899/P.L. 111-201) Congress has approved a total of $1.121 trillion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)." Thus, we have now spent trillions of dollars and thousands of lives and seem to be no farther along than we were ten years ago in our "War on Terror." Every time we seem to make some progress, a new problem appears in the horizon, and with the recent increase in Talibani activity in Afghanistan, we have a significant reason to be worried.

Where will our War on Terror lead? Do you think a permanent fix to this conflict is somewhere in our near future? Is Middle Eastern peace but a figment of naive American imagination? Just how many more lives must be lost to bring about the change that the Western world wants to see?

The Secret Life of Daniel Radcliffe

In what has been quite the interesting turn of events, Daniel Radcliffe (21), has admitted that he is, in fact, The Chosen One and plays the role of Daniel Radcliffe in the Muggle world, asserting "I go from my Harry life, when I am me, and then I walk out of the room, and then I am Dan, the actor. Dan is a fantastic character who I really enjoy - I've really enjoyed playing him. And this kind of split reality which I live on, which we all live on, it was a revelation when I discovered that that's how the world works."

Well, now that Harry is done vanquishing evil with magic, he's using his charm to talk to women and pursue a starting spot on a professional Quidditch team. Sounds like a well-deserved break for our over-worked hero.

But Potter apart, I would like to congratulate Susie Figgis, the initial Harry Potter casting director, for such a spectacular find! Not only did she assemble a magical cast of (soon-to-be extremely wealthy) child stars, but she also found Harry Potter. Now, that's some true talent.

Jest aside, I would like to address an issue of some relevance. Scores of the members of the initial cast of the Harry Potter films were 11 or younger when they began filming. At such a young age, no one can make a decision as large as acting in a major motion picture without parental consent, and I am sure that many of the original cast were encouraged to act in the films by their parents (for fame, fortune, glory, etc.). Surely, the films have benefited many of their stars (the three protagonists, Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint, have made almost $150 million from their short acting careers). However, at the same time, many of the actors have devoted almost half of their lives to the film series, significantly changing their lives and definitely keeping them from pursuing normal courses of development. As such, is it ethical for children to commit to such long commercial contracts or should governments move to enforce limits on them? There have surely been dozens of prominent child stars that have turned to substance abuse and other destructive behaviors as a result of their childhood stardom. Perhaps Lindsay Lohan or Macaulay Culkin (the star of the Home Alone series) ring a bell?

In any case, between late-night ventures to Harry Potter premiers and dressing up for Harry Potter-themed spirit days, I hope that all of you potterheads are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Obama Pardons Turkeys

Yes. This is real. and it is hilarious.

President Obama today "Pardoned" two turkeys from the "Thanksgiving dinner table." They are to live the rest of their lives in a special presidential enclosure in the Mt. Vernon Estate, former home of George Washington. I find it very funny that these two turkeys are living it up in Mt. Vernon getting the royal treatment, all for winning a beauty contest. What do you guys think? Do you find this tradition to be symbolic and heart warming, or do you see it as a presidential publicity stunt? OR, on the more extreme side, do you find it SICK that the birds are being subjected to a beauty contest, all for for survival?

If you want a good laugh (and by good laugh I mean Obama talking to a turkey) check out the video here

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Head Start on Black Friday

This years Black Friday sales are expected to rise 2.3 percent from last year's to 447$ billion, however some are skeptical as to whether this will stimulate some sort of "pick-up" the economy needs.  However this Thanksgiving some 18+ million people went to the stores to shop, a surprisingly high number given the predicted "spending mood".  Personally, I believe Black Friday is pretty much mostly hype about something secretly quite deceiving.  Companies advertise huge sales and great discounts but when one actually goes to buy, the "deals" are actually quite selective, not to mention the enormous crowds of people all hurrying to save on a glitzy Gymboree tie for their spoiled 3 year old.  
      The main and only benefit from Black Friday does come by way of the enlarged profits from the many scores of customers.  One Sport's Authority store in Maryland is expecting to reap in 150,000$  in sales on Friday, some 50,000$ more than the previous year.  The main point being... that although many have expected this year's sales to give the economy a much needed boost, don't get your hopes up.  So what do you guys think about black friday?; And will you be part of the mob going out shopping at 5 a.m? I know i wont, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DeLaying the Legislative Process

Breaking News: Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (the shady guy who shut down the anti-UPS repetitive strain injury bill in one of our in-class videos) was finally charged with money laundering earlier today! After numerous indictments and corresponding controversies, "the Hammer" has finally been convicted for some of the many heinous crimes that he has committed.

Unfortunately, CNN isn't the most neutral news source in the world, but the following video will give you a general idea about the situation at hand (I wonder what Fox has to say about this).

I remember speaking with Mr. Silton on Monday and expressing my disgust at the fact that DeLay had yet to be convicted for his antics while several of his minions (i.e., members of his congressional staff) have been rotting in jail for years. Well, that was quite the timely discussion. On a personal level, I am very pleased that justice has been served and have been a staunch opponent of DeLay for years.

Some of Tom DeLay's most egregious crimes involved his insider deals with the (now incarcerated) lobbyist, Jack Abromoff. In the late 1990s, all was going well for Jack Abramoff. He was a man of big money, big connections, and even bigger aspirations. As a top-flight lobbyist for Preston Gates & Ellis, a firm of wide-scale global prominence, Abramoff was one of the most successful lobbyists and businessmen on Capitol Hill, raking in tens of millions of dollars every year. Seemingly a political genius, Abramoff won significant privileges for his clientele. From helping Tyco, Inc. avoid tax liability to keeping Native American casinos open, Abramoff seemed to be able to do it all. However, what goes up, must come down, and in the early 2000s, Abramoff was booked for bribing public officials (most notably, Tom DeLay and Bob Ney) and defrauding Native American tribes out of tens of millions of dollars. What began as a simple quest for success and power on the parts of Abramoff, DeLay, and Ney ended as a deceptive ploy to undermine the integrity of the American political system and the interests of the American people.

Currently, DeLay has only been charged with money laundering, but I am sure that there are many, many more convictions coming his way. Considering that DeLay was one of the most prominent American politicians in the 1990s, his corruption puts the entire American political system and democratic process under fire.

Is there any way that we can lessen the likelihood of corruption on the Congressional level to stop more DeLays from springing up in the future?

Attack on South Korea

The attack on South Korea was truly devastating and by now, I hope, you are all familiar with it. Hundreds of South Korean citizens were evacuated, 22 buildings were damaged from the attack, 4 men were killed and 15 injured.

After the incident, President Obama attended an emergency session to discuss his options. It was eventually decided that the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of supporting ships would be sent into the region to halt further attacks on either nation.

Now the world is waiting to see what will happen next. Will this turn into a bloodshed or will this tension between rival nations eventually die down? Will
America become involved or will we sit this one out? What do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More sports. Suprised?

It seems that every week when watching SC something new pops about an athlete messing up. Farve, Newton and now Young. ESPN seems obsessed to cover these event and give as much analysis about things that 95% of watchers don't care about it. In last Sunday game Vince Young was pulled out of QB for an injury and proceeded to have a childish breakdown. He threw his pads into the stands and stormed off the field. I don't believe that his actions are justified. He's getting millions to preform on the field and he got INJURED when he was pulled. Why would he get angry that he got pulled because he was injured? Would he rather be benched for playing shitty? Sometimes I don't get how athletes act, they can't have it both way; they can't get payed a crazy amount of money and expect to be stress-free.

Miley Cyrus Celebrates 18th Birthday!

Who seriously cares?

Is Kim Jong [il] [Un]safe?

With political forums witnessing rampant speculation about World War III, a ludicrous number of Facebook status updates involving Kim Jung-Il and expletives, and terms like "UNSC," "Korea," and "Pretty reckless" trending on Twitter, there could be only one explanation: heightened activity on the Korean Peninsula. And heightened activity there is. On Tuesday morning, North Korea fired at least 200 rounds of artillery on a South Korean island in the Yellow Sea, killing two South Korean marines and wounding at least another 15 soldiers. South Korea promptly retaliated with 80 rounds of its own and deployed several fighter jets to counter the fire, resulting in an hour long engagement between the two parties. Well, so much for the Six Party Talks.

Now, this development has potentially game-changing implications for international relations. As one of the most pressurized regions in the world, the Korean Peninsula certainly does not need heightened tensions, nor do any of the involved parties. Although at a first glance, the Koreas may seem rather small and not all that relevant to global affairs, a closer look is definitely due. Marred by strife, tension, and volatility since the Cold War-era Korean War (think early 1950s), the Koreas are a powder-keg waiting to burst with nuclear arms, delusional leaders, and problematic alliances at every turn. For starters, North Korea has the despotic leadership of the Kims (Jong-Il and Jong-Un), tactical nuclear and chemical arms, and fairly close diplomatic ties with China. The leadership of the Kims is a huge mess in and of itself as power is gradually transferring from the ailing Jong-Il to the younger and more unpredictable Jong-Un. What this means for the international community is yet to be seen as all that is known about Jong-Un is that he is a diabetic, drunkard with a very powerful father, but we have more than enough reason to be concerned as Jong-Un certainly does have to prove his worth to a strongly-led totalitarian administration before he is deemed fit to take over (and this proof very well may come in the form of some military muscle-flexing). On the other side of the line of control, South Korea doesn't have despotic leadership or nuclear arms of its own, but it does have fairly close ties with three major nuclear powers (the US included). As such, the battleground is certainly rife for a major international conflict if proper steps aren't taken to subdue the current tensions.

South Korean security ministers are in an emergency meeting as this post is being composed. Hopefully, this will be an isolated incident, allowing the added Korean tensions to dissipate in the coming weeks. If not, two lives have already been lost, billions are at stake. Do you think that this occurrence is a credible threat to the relative peace on the Korean Peninsula or will it simply amount to just another minor skirmish? Should we be worried about escalation?

Are we in store for nuclear war in our near future? (sorry, sensationalism sells)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday spending could rise, despite economic concerns, poll says

I found this very interesting article saying that eventhough the economy is not its best people will still spend the same amount or even more money than they did last year, in fact 57% say they would. Along with spending money 23% say acknowledge that they feel better about there overall financial situation than last years. Does this mean the economy is where is was before the crash?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Leaking Siberian ice raises a tricky climate issue

Global warming has been out of the news recently, but that is not to say that it is not present. In fact it is very much present. Scientisits in Siberia say that all the melting of the polar ice caps are casuing a methane overload to the earth. Global warming is back in center stage on Nov. 29th when governments will meet in Cancun, Mexico to discuss its latest problems. Most scientists are saying that along with Methane, Carbon emissions are also causing global warming, these emissions are present becasue of our increase in simple tasks such as driving cars, producing electricity, and raising cattle. Although it is mostly seen in the polar regions of the earth global warming effects every biome from the rainforest to the desert.
Read Article:

Ireland swallows bitter pill, asks EU for loan

This article is about Ireland had to ask the EU for a massive loan to help get its economy back on track. Ireland had joined Greece as one of the worst economies in Europe. The crash of Irelands economy is surpising becasue only a few years before is was booming, other European countries were jealous. This reminds me of the Great Depression in the early 1930's, there was a period of greatness in the late 1920's in the American Economy but all good things come to and end, as we can see with Ireland and the US in the 1930's. Ireland denied that it needed a bailout but now it is clear they need help with 20.5 billion is deficit. Irelands banks are loosing deposits and stuggling to borrow funds on open markets.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What the Tea Party is About

I was reading this week's Time magazine, and I found an article about South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and about how he and his ideas represent the Tea Party. Based on the content of the article, the Tea Party's first and foremost goal seems to involve bringing down the national deficit by significantly reducing federal spending. For example, Jim DeMint recently successfully pushed for legislation in the Senate that banned earmarks; "DeMint and his allies... say earmarks are the grease that makes the hidden machinery of money politics work, the bribes that get really expensive measures through Congress." Other things on the Tea Party/ hard-core Republican agenda include "slashing taxes and spending, repealing the Obama health care law, turning education policy over the states and gradually dismantling safety-net programs like Social Security and Medicare." In order to further these plans, the Tea Partiers are working to remove the moderate Republicans from office. However, the Tea Party ideologies seem to contain some worrying contradictions. For example, according to the article, "DeMint himself can say that Medicare spending must be restrained and then in the same interview bash health care reform for reducing the program's growth by $500 billion."

In my opinion, the Tea Party's extremist views will not succeed in winning over a majority of the public in the long term. The ideas seem misguided, unlikely to succeed, and contradictory. The quote about DeMint on Medicare shows that the Tea Party is trying to please people on both sides of the issue, without taking a moderate stance. Another contradiction is that they want to cut taxes, but reduce the deficit; how will that work? Also, I don't think that people want so many government programs to be cut. Finally, I don't think that making leadership more extreme by rooting out moderates is the right way to go. Right now, the Tea Party's extremist, vague rhetoric seems to be working, but I don't believe that this extremism is an effective tactic to achieve success in 2012. What do you guys think about the Tea Party and its goals and leaders?

Republicans Blocking Crucial Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev agreed upon The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) back in April. But the treaty seems to be having trouble going through the Senate thanks to a GOP road block.

START primarily calls for a nuclear arms reduction between both countries. The United States as well as Russia will be cut their nuclear stockpiles by about 30%. In addition, the treaty also gives each nation special inspection powers over the other to make sure procedures and agreements are being followed.

START is not some one-sided Democratic bill. It is a necessity to national security, and a step born by a Republican's ideals. Former President Ronald Reagan ushered the saying "Trust, but verify" as the mindset the U.S. must have when dealing with the Russians. It gives the U.S. tremendous power by being allowed to inspect the one of the world's largest nuclear arsenals. More importantly to mankind, it calls for a significant reduction of nuclear weapons.

The Republicans in the Senate surely know this, but they strive to delay the passage of START so as to rob the Obama administration of any credit. If the bill is pushed back to January, it will be harder to pass as the Democrats will be losing six seats. This is partisan politics at work, where one party refuses to let integral legislation pass under the name of the opposing party.

Friday, November 19, 2010

King Kong fails to scare Chilean miners

This article is about the 33 Chilean and their tour throughout the country, especially at universal studios in L.A. This is the first tour that the miners have done together since the accident last month. The artical entails alittle about each minor, and what life was like down 2,300 feet below the surface.

Wrigley Field too short to host football, but will anyway

We all know that college football is a huge fan favorite among sports. This odd story of two college teams, Northwestern Wildcats vs. Illinois Fighting Illini, who were playing on Wrigley felid which it home to baseballs Chicago Cubs. This doesnt sound too strange but the field to short to play on. The teams have to score in the same endzone, and when they get close enough the ref's have to switch the ball around.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Possibly Illiterate Clown Elected to Congress in Brazil

In the Brazil Congressional elections which were in October, a clown by the name of Tiririca (Portuguese for "Grumpy") won one of the Congressional seats. He ran a sensational campaign, with ads on Youtube that said things like "What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don't know. But vote for me and I will find out for you." Brazil's Congress uses a proportional representation system to elect people (as opposed to our winner-take-all or plurality system), and according to the article this makes it somewhat easier for celebrities to get elected to office. But the biggest surprise for me was the fact that there was a legal challenge to Tiririca's candidacy, claiming that he actually "does not meet the literacy requirement for election. However, "electoral authorities indicated he could be removed from office if he failed to show he can read and write after the election." Thus, now that he has been elected, he was tested, but the results have not reached the public yet.

I find it pretty surprising that he won this congressional seat so overwhelmingly. I understand that voters may be disillusioned with the politicians, but I don't think that voting for a possibly illiterate clown is the way to get that point across. This reminds me of how Stephen Colbert was on the ticket in some states in 2008. What do you guys think about this?

House Ethics Violation. Really?

Today the hearing for congressman Charles Rangel began and ended. He is a senior house member representing Harlem- New York and has been serving that area since 1970. He was convicted of 11 counts of ethics violations which included; failing to pay taxes on a home in D.R, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes, and improper use of his office to raise funds for a public policy center named for him. The committee (made up of 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans) session ended in a 9 to 1 vote in favor of a "Censure" punishment. " A censure is typically considered to be the most serious penalty short of expulsion. It generally requires a congressman to stand on the floor of the House while being publicly rebuked." The bigger question is how could this man stay in the house for 40 years without being "caught" of these ethics violations. On Nov. 29 another house member, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, will go and face the ethics committee. How many more unethical people can be in power spots in our government? In a 2008 USA today study, they asked over 1,000 federal workers if they've observed any type of ethics violation; 52% of them said yes at the federal level. This should be an alarming and a surprising fact, we trust these people to run our government efficiently and honorably, yet half of them do shady material. If these violations (ie: Tax Evasion/Avoidence) were applied to a normal Joe, wouldn't he be serving time in prison?

Brutality Sells.

This past weekend, at Arlington Texas, Manny Pacquiao dominated Antonio Margarito in a bloody, brutal but 1 sided fight. Pacquiao beat Margarito in a TKO fashion, with Margarito having 1 eye temporarily blinded due to the swelling and the other nearly closed up. But would you really pay to see it if it didn't have all that gore? Over 41,000 people payed to see 1 man beat the other in "fist fight" and millions more watched it on PPV. But pain and brutality sells. Another case in this is football, the most watched sport in America. Football was used in ww2 as a way to train new recruits. And that's exactly what it is; war without the guns, and death, but with the injuries and excitement. The injuries that are sustained while playing this sport are greater then most other sports and the most vulnerable part of the human body is constantly being hit. Football and Boxing constantly have hits to the head, something that occurs too many times in ones lifetime it will lead to severe consequences. Life expectancy of players that play these sports are much lower then someone who plays a less physical contact sport. (Soccer, Baseball, Basketball). And these players only stay in their sport for short periods of time due to the physical and mental toll. Yet we pay millions of dollars too these players to tear each other up for our "safe" entertainment. Humans have always been intrigued with the pain and suffering of others when themselves aren't in harms way. But is this entertainment really worth the pain these players go threw or do they get paid all that money to injure themselves. The NFL received a huge backlash when they recently increased the fine for helmet to helmet hits because people want to see that brutality. The only way that this will stop if the consumer demands for more regulations in the sports. What do you think, are humans too intrigued with pain and suffering?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poetry in the English Curriculum

The blog contains a lot of rich information and debate over national and international issues. But I thought I'd allow some personal experiences seep into this post and share my thoughts about poetry and its place in English class.

For all of you in AP English right now, this article will be very relevant as we are in the poetry unit. Poetry is a form of literary art where language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in order to convey its intended meaning. The question I pose to all you readers is: should poetry be part of our curriculum?

After a healthy dose of thinking, I concluded poetry should not be as emphasized as much as it is now. It deserves to be taught and explored in the classroom, but certainly not to the degree to which it is now. Anything in a subject's curriculum must contain objectivity. Why? Without objectivity, standards cannot be set and grades cannot be given. Poetry is far too subjective (except for vocabulary terms). Evaluations of our poems or interpretations cannot be fully grounded in objectivity, but we are still graded on them.

Poets write as freely as they please. They can experiment with structure, jumble around with words, or even break the rules of grammar. Poets tend to also cloud their poems' meanings with ambiguity. And from what I've seen from our English classes, vague poems somehow receive the most praise. With such an infinite number of ways to write a poem, how can we as students be expected to analyze any poem and find its meaning in essay form so easily? Just because you understand one poem does not mean you will understand another. Understanding a poem is in itself almost impossible. An understanding of a poem does not exist, because each person can understand a poem differently.

Don't get me wrong, I love poetry. I saw firsthand during poetry slams and our recent poetry cafe how beautiful poetry is. It allows poets to truly express their emotions free from the rules of grammar or formatting. An emotion or idea does not exist in MLA format or in grammatically-correct way, so why should it be expressed in that way? Emotions should be shown and evoked, and poetry is a wonderful way to do so.

I believe poetry is something to be enjoyed. It should be performed so that the audience can experience its meaning and be moved. The beauty of poetry can be introduced and explored in the classroom, of course. English teachers definitely know the wonders of poetry more than anyone. But to be required to analyze it so deeply and academically robs poetry of its beauty and frustrates both teachers and students alike.

Facebook May Endanger Troops

New features on Facebook have prompted the Air Force to warn all troops to be cautious while accessing the social networking site. The Air Force asserts that these new features could allow the enemy to see exactly where U.S. forces are in war zones.

Apparently, military personnel with a smart phone stand the risk of being pinpointed by the enemy. Such phones have a GPS or other means of determining a user's location. Location services do not automatically show a user's location; generally the user must manually enter the application or program for his or her location to show up. Nevertheless, the risk still exists. And with 95,000 troops in Afghanistan and 50,000 in Iraq, the Air Force and other divisions of the U.S. military are not taking any chances and sent warnings to everybody.

Before I dwell into the meat of the story, I first want to address the elephant in the room. Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq can access Facebook? They actually have the data networks in war-torn countries to sustain mobile social networking? Apparently they do.

Even more questions arise from this article: Why are soldiers carrying around Blackberries and iPhones? And most pressingly for me, why is Facebook even offered to military personnel?

We know all too well that Facebook often spawns procrastination and inactivity. Offering such a service to members of the military nears irresponsibility. Soldiers should be kept vigilant and sharp, and kept away from things that distract them from their overall mission. I'm not opposed to giving soldiers free time and entertainment. But to offer them Facebook, which encourages procrastination and now potentially endangers the military, is too much.

Pelosi to be Democratic Minority Leader in House

On Monday, House Democrats overwhelmingly voted in favor of making Nancy Pelosi the House minority leader. This is somewhat unconventional, as usually, after losing an election, leaders step down from office, but that didn't happen in this case. Pelosi served as Speaker of the House since 2006, but of course the Democrats are no longer the majority party in the House as of the 2010 midterm election. The article talks about why the Democrats would want to elect Pelosi, an "unpopular leader who just carried them through one of the worst election drubbings in decades." Although the article mostly has a positive attitude toward Pelosi, that quote surprised me. I didn't think that Pelosi was that much of an unpopular leader; I knew that she had been receiving flak from both sides, from the right because they just don't agree with her ideologically, and from the left for being unsuccessful at pushing the Democratic agenda. However, Pelosi has been an extremely effective Democratic leader; I think that many of the successes of the Obama presidency so far are attributable in large part to her. For example, she worked extremely diligently with House Democrats get the health care bill passed in the House last year. In my opinion, much of the criticism and attacks directed toward Pelosi so far have been unfair and undeserved. What do you guys think about the decision to make Pelosi minority leader? Were the Democrats right to make her leader, or should they have gone with a change, seeing as the election showed that the electorate is clearly unhappy with the current leadership?

College Quidditch!

Yes, you read right: according to the linked article, Quidditch (the famous sport of the wizarding world played on broomsticks, from Harry Potter) is now played in colleges, and the sport has "grown to include more than 400 collegiate teams at schools that include Harvard, Yale, USC and universities from Peru to Perth. More than 300 high schools participate, too." If you want more details about how we Muggles (non-magic people) manage to play Quidditch, you can read the article. I think this is very cool as I have been an ardent fan of Harry Potter since elementary school, and I never thought it would actually be possible for us to play the game, but it's happening, and it is apparently the "hottest sport to hit college campuses in years."

Cam Newton mess

Well for everyone that follows NCAA football, the best player in the league and the person expected to win the Heisman trophy has been in a bit of trouble lately. Cam Newton considered the front runner in winning the trophy has been battling allegations that he decided what school he would go to by how much money they offer him. Recently a former Mississippi state player, Bill Bell, came out saying that Newton's father representative sent him text messages asking for over 180k over a period of 60 days for his son to attend that school. I'm not saying that Newton is guilty but this bad publicity and ongoing investigation could cost him the Heisman even though he clearly is the best player. It is strictly against NCAA rules to take money and gift from agents or schools; if you do you lose NCAA eligibility for the year. We've already seen one mess regarding these rules this year already with Reggie Bush. But why are these rules implemented in the college system? Many student seem to get easily manipulated by agents and they end up accepting gifts without the intent too. So do you believe that the NCAA should remove or weaken the rules regarding receiving gifts during recruitment or do the serve a bigger purpose that I don't know of. Enlighten me.

Fed orders new "stress tests" for banks

This was an interesting article that I found on yahoo, and it came in perfect timing for CP Econ, since we just finished learning about Fed. The nations largest banks like JP Moragn Chase, Bank if America, Wells Fargo etc must go under a stress test up on the by the Fed to see if the banks can handle another recession without crashing. The banks that do not pass the test will have to take steps to raise new capital to build up a cushion. The stress test must be completed by Jan, 7 2011.

Palin running for president?

In a recent interview with NYT's, Sarah Palin stated that she is strongly considering running for president in 2012. She only has a handful of trusted aids and most of them don't have strong political backgrounds to run a nationwide presidential campaign. Palin is on the outskirts of the G.O.P and in recent polls, if she went head to head with Obama at the time of the midterm election (2 weeks ago), she would be the only G.O.P canidate to lose to him. She currently has a 52% unfavorable score while only having a 40% favorable score. And is constantly seen part of the Tea-Party movment which is seen as a highly polarizing movement. Her lack of experience seems to trouble many people, she was mayor for a very small city (Wasilla only has 10k people), she became governor of Alaska and ended up resigning before her first term was over. Since we will be able to vote in the 2012 election, will you vote for Palin if she ran for president? I know that most students have a liberal view on life but if she came up with good ideas and she ran against Obama do you think she would win? Or is it just a waste of time?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh, the Many HORRIBLE Dangers of Our World...

So, apparently, it has been discovered that many reusable grocery bags (such as the one on the right) contain lead, which sounds terrible when thinking back on all the lead poisoning that occured several decades earlier.

However, it seems that the only bad effects that could occur would either be poisoning in the long term as the lead leaks out or paint flaking off the bags, resulting in the releasing of lead. Obviously, there have not been enough studies to confirm this.

It is definitely ironic that a deed with a good intention such as this could end up harming the environment (through lead leakage in landfills and such). But this story also represents how the many citizens in America are overtly concerned with any threats to their well-being. And mistakes happen all the time, so no one should be expecting a world where everything is harm-free.

Technological Upgrade Coming to the Government

You know those beeps and scrambling sounds that suddenly interrupt the radio or TV to announce some kind of emergency, such as a kidnapping or the license plate of a car on the loose? Now, there is an Emergency Broadcast System that works on cell phones by sending out text messages to people in a certain region.

The government, through the communications company Alcatel-Lucent would send out warnings "geographically-targeted", whether it is a "terrorist attack", "natural disaster", a "school or campus emergency", or any other kind of emergency.

While this might be a more efficient way to get out the message, as today is an age of technology in which people are constantly on the go and away from television, I hope that the company would be reliable in sending out only the necessary amount of texting and not use this as an opportunity to exploit the data access. But the Alcatel-Lucent does prove some capability in that it has already tested its system in San Diego and Tampa Bay will all mobile carriers.

Football Field More Important than a Student's Life?

According to an article from Yahoo!News, the 14-year-old boy on the left, Keanu Gallardo of Del Mar High School "suffered a concussion during a football" game, but the school's principal refused to let the ambulance drive to the track to help him. Gallardo has been suffering from headaches and neck pain, and the delay in help could possibly have caused some brain damage. The principal, Liz Seabury contends that she was simply following orders that she was not to let vehicles onto the field; she told the ambulance that "heavy equipment" was not permitted on the track or field, but I think that it was common sense that an injured boy needed immediate help, and emergency vehicles have to be able to help as soon as possible. Gallardo's mother is of course, furious, but she has not yet received an apology from either the school or the district for this terrible decision, and she "wants the principal reprimanded and the district to ensure this doesn't happen again."

Personally, I just don't understand how a principal of a school can make such a decision; how can she put the conditions of a football field above the safety of a student? And the fact that neither the school nor the district have apologized is completely ridiculous. What do you guys think?

G.O.P Preventing progress again?

During this years Lame Duck season Obama hoped to accomplish 1 thing; restoring an arms treaty with Russia, "The treaty, which would force both countries to pare back nuclear arsenals and resume mutual inspections that lapsed last year for the first time since the cold war." Obama has made great progress in foreign relations during his presidency, improving the image of the U.S to foreign countries. The G.O.P originally was going to vote for this treaty, in return for more nuclear weapon funding over the next 10 years. This bill needs a 2/3 majority to be passed, but now the G.O.P (Led by Mr. Kyl) has backed out and made it nearly impossible for this treaty to get passed. Mr. Kyl stated that "he informed the Senate Democratic leader that there was not enough time to resolve all the issues during the lame-duck session that opened this week." This decision by the Republicans has troubled Russian officials as they have "expressed fear that Republican victories in this month’s midterm elections would damage relations. 'We don’t have confidence that the document will secure enough votes,' Konstantin I. Kosachev, chairman of a parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said earlier in the day, according to the Russian news media. 'The problem is not that the document is bad. We are confronting the fact that Republicans refuse to ratify the treaty.'”Once again it seems that the politics that are being played are for preventing the other side from getting a win. Politics being more partisan then ever, do you ever believe that there will be grounds for progress in a bipartisan way ever again? Or will we be subjected to this constant blocking of progress from the minority party?

Can a Bigger Booze Tax Reduce Disease, Crime?

I stumbled on this article and though it was quite interesting. It may not concern us as high school student, but I picked it to share on the blog becuause it reminded me of the prop 19 debate. Similar to prop 19 if marijuana were to be legalized there would be a tax for it, people were arguing whether that would help or hurt our economy. But what about alcohol? Accoding to this article it would have a significant effect on, just 50 cents on a bottle of wine can reduce alcohol related deaths by 35% and fatal car crashes bby 11%. What would this tax on booze do to your economy? Help or Hurt it?

Are the Miami Heat done for?

First of all most of my posts on this blog will be about sports to give something new to the blog.
I've been reading lately that the "Dream Team" in Miami is falling apart because they are relying too much on D Wade and L James and even they have lower numbers then they had last year. "Because there's such a massive gap between the talent level of LeBron/Wade and everyone else, Miami is leaning heavily on two players to do it all. Big minutes, plus big responsibility, equals lots of tread wear." C Bosh has been falling apart with this Miami team..."Chris Bosh has shrunken from a center to a power forward to a small forward in just a matter of weeks, and at this rate, will soon be able to look Muggsy Bogues in the kneecaps." At the beginning of the season many people believed that they would be the team to beat but now they seam like the team people make fun of and look down on. They are currently in 3rd place in their division and have a lower record then the Warriors (Wow!) and they don't have any all-star players. So I guess money can't buy everything as we saw in the California race, maybe Pat Riley should have learned something from Meg Whitman.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Arizona's Prop 203 Rises in the Aftermath of Prop 19

Though it surprisingly has not been given much attention, Arizona has also had a proposition to legalize the use of medical marijuana, but only for those with "chronic, debilitating diseases", including "cancer, HIV/AIDS [and] Hepatitis C". And this propositon actually passed, by a very small margin of 4,341 voters in a ballot total of 1.67 million. There are quite a few restrictions, with a limited number of dispensaries allowed in the state, registration with the Arizona Department of Health Services, and of course a doctor's recommendation.

But some worrisome parts of the proposition include allowing those with the "diseases" to grow the plants on their own, and of course the increased crime around dispensaries.

Of course, just because this proposition passed does not mean that it will necessarily be put into action, as evidenced by the inaction that occured after Arizona voters had passed a similar medical marijuana law in 1996 and 1998.

California court rules illegal immigrants can pay in-state tuition

I thought this article was interesting due to price discrimination esp. for colleges.

School Eradicates "F" from Grading System

At West Potomac School in Washington D.C., many students have received grades of "I" for incomplete rather than "F" grades in the most recent report cards. The philosophy is that students would see this as an opportunity to improve their grades and actually learn the material instead of giving up and taking the "F" grade. Of course, if these "I" grades are not improved at all, they will remain "F's" on transcripts. The teachers at West Potomac would have to be more available, even staying over on the weekends so that students can make up any work then.

A much more contentious part of this policy involves teachers allowing absent students to not make up an assignment or test if they believe the students understand the material, involving much subjectivity. And if someone decides to skip class just because, they will most likely be given another chance, which makes it completely unfair for the other student who turned in the work on time.

This topic has been extremely controversial, with some officials backing one side and others backing the other. For those in favor of having temporarily incomplete grades, they argue that it would give students a chance to actually learn what they're supposed to, and that students learning at a slower pace would finally get a chance to catch up. But the negatives seem to outweigh the pros. Without the presence of "F" grades and with the availability of constant make-ups, students will become unconcerned with deadlines, which is completely different from the working world. Realistically, there is not enough money to have teachers stay for extended hours to fulfill these make-ups, at least for public schools. And, there seems to be no real benefit for students who actually turn in work on time in this policy.

Of course, this policy has been applied to only one school, and every school has different demographics. For example, one teacher had a whole half of her english classes have incomplete grades, while the principal counted over 2000 "F" grades out of the 2,200 students.

Sarah Palin Coins 'Word of the Year'

The New Oxford American Dictionary has just lauded Sarah Palin for coining 2010's word of the year: refudiate. The word first appeared in a tweet posted on the former Alaskan governor's Twitter account. Palin tweeted last summer to call on "peaceful Muslims" to "refudiate" a mosque planned to be built near the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks site. The liberal media, so disgustingly bent on proper word usage, quickly attacked the former Vice Presidential candidate. Palin quickly changed the tweet to say "refute" instead of "refudiate", effectively using another word that did not make sense in the sentence.

While many of you may scoff at Palin's blunders, I find it to be yet another example of her fine character and potential to be a great leader. First of all, the members of the New Oxford American Dictionary defended Palin for her word usage, and whatever they say is obviously scripture. More importantly, it shines light on Palin's creativity and willingness to take bold action. She is not bound by trivial conventions such as grammar, vocabulary, or intelligence. Palin does what her gut tells her to do, and this is how a leader should be.

While Sarah Palin, if elected to be Vice President, may have run this country to the ground, she would undoubtedly have a clever word to describe the hopeless situation we'd be in. And isn't that the most important thing?

If anyone disagrees with my statements, please comment and I will be glad to refudiate.