Monday, January 31, 2011

More US College Students Stressed Out

A new study from UCLA show that more college students are stressed out compared to previous years.  In 1985, nearly two-thirds of incoming college students reported " their emotional health was very good or above average."  This year's studies show that the percentages have dropped and now 52% of freshmen students would consider their emotional health very good or above average.  A lower percentage of female freshmen put themselves in this category as compared to the male freshmen population.  The economic crisis is a factor in this rise in stressed out college students.  53% of students rely on loans to pay for college tuition as well as the other requirements (housing, textbooks, etc).  Another three-fourths have scholarships and grants to help pay for college.  These economic hardships have changed opinions of taxation: in 2002, half the students polled said that the wealthy should be taxed more as compared to this year's two-thirds of students that feel that way.

I don't really find this all that shocking.  Each year, the standards for incoming freshmen are higher and with higher standards come more competition within students.  This competition will drive students to stress more because they have to put in more time and effort to do well in class and pass their courses.  The economic part is also a huge contributing factor because students will have to find ways to pay off loans.  This can be achieved by finding jobs, which will only add to the workload of college students.  What do you guys think?

The Lesser-Known State of the State Address

The state of California faces a $25.4 billion budget deficit in the next couple fiscal years. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a half-and-half budget cut, tax increase plan to solve the problem. Brown has proposed a $12.5 billion cut from "health care, higher education, and other areas if voters will pass an extension on income and sales taxes passed in 2009, ending in 2012. This would allow for $12 billion more in revenue, essentially reducing the deficit to only 3.5% of its original state.

Although the plan seems good in theory, the tax extension would have to be approved. After passing Prop 26, the state needs a two-thirds vote from the people to be able to implement the tax extension. While no one likes taxes, if the tax extension is not passed, Brown warns that cuts would most likely be in education, health, and prisons.

I didn't watch the actual address, not have I been following the issue very closely, but it seems that state Republicans and Democrats aren't too vehemently opposed to the combination of cuts and tax increases, with both parties in relative agreement with the governor's points. The Republican response asked for the governor to cut spending and think of long-term reform.

What do you think California should do? Do you think the voters will pass the tax extension if it gets onto the June ballot?

A Peaceful Army

As most of us know, Egypt has been going through its own civil war. Protesters are storming the streets, calling for the removal of their current president Hosni Mubarak. The president has tried to remove certain unpopular people from his cabinet, but very few were appeased. They demand he be removed from office. The people of Egypt are soon planning mass marches on cities like Cairo and Alexandria. Despite these marches, the government plans to "not use force against the Egyptian people". But what bothers me is that these are thousands and thousands of furious protesters that will be participating on these marches. Seeing the previous violence that ahs already erupted, I personally highly doubt that these marches will remain peaceful. What do you guys think? Do you think these marches will end up peacefully? Or will they break out in violence? Will the government be able to keep up its word? What do you think it will try to do if the protesters do become violent?

Teenager Fined $637 For Using Foul Language

In North Mesquite High School in Dallas, Texas, a teenager was fined $637 for using foul language.

The whole incident started in October, when teacher Michelle Lene heard student Victoria Mullins clearly say, "you trying to start (expletive)" in class. Lene claimed that she was offended by Mullins' words while Mullins said that her words were directed towards “A kid who is really obnoxious, starts stuff with everyone and always gets on my nerves was bothering me.” As a result of all this, Mullins was sent to the principal's office and given detention. The next day, the school resource officer gave her a ticket.

The original fine that Mullins was supposed to receive was $340. However, Mullins didn't show up for her court hearing on November 18 because she claimed that she lacked the money to pay for it. Due to her absence from the hearing, Mullins was fined another $100. The city added $50 when they issued a warrant for her arrest earlier this month, following that with an $147 collection fee, leading to a grand total of $637.

What do you think? Was Victoria Mullins' punishment just?

No Gunman Found at Oakland School

Today, 250 students evacuated from La Escuelita Elementary School in Oakland after the school received a phone call saying that there was a gunman in the school. The man who tipped the school identified himself as a custodian but would not reveal more information about who he was.

The Oakland SWAT team, school district police officers, deputies, and more went to the school to safely evacuate the students from the school and find the gunman. Luckily, there was no gunman in the school; at this point, it has been assumed that the caller purposely played a prank on the school.

I'm glad that everyone is safe, but the person who played the prank on everyone needs to be caught. Because of the prank call, many of the city's resources that could have been used for a real event that lives were put in danger were used and wasted. In addition, that one call caused the parents of students to worry and leave work just to pick up their kids when they wouldn't have to do such a thing if nobody claimed that a gunman entered the school. I find it very inconsiderate of the caller to make such an outrageous claim; people should never joke about something as serious as this.

Toshiba faces $100 million gender bias lawsuit

Elaine Cyphers, a senior human resources manager at Toshiba, is filing a $100 million lawsuit against a U.S. unit of Toshiba for gender bias against women in pay and promotions. According to Cyphers, only 3.4 percent of Toshiba’s managers worldwide are women. She also cites significant wage discrepancies between men and women. She also alleges that the company has tried to force her from her job because of her complaints about discrimination. This is one of many recent lawsuits over gender discrimination in the workplace.

It is undeniable that gender discrimination still exists in the workplace. Women do get paid lower wages and are much less likely than men to be promoted in managerial positions. But in my opinion, lawsuits are not the right way to fix this. Workplace culture does not change readily, and while the discrimination is certainly unjust, I do not believe it is intentional on the part of Toshiba or other companies. There is no quick fix for gender inequality, and I am really quite cynical about the ability of lawsuits to bring about social change.

There’s a long way to go before full equality is achieved. Do you think aggressive moves like this lawsuit help this goal? What must change in society before women can be fully equal?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still Unable to "Dream"

Laura and Miguel are dating, but they can't go away with each other because Miguel is an illegal immigrant. He has to avoid all places that might ask for identification, because he has none. None of the legal sort, anyway.

Like many other illegal immigrants, Miguel was brought to America as a baby. Should he be held accountable for his parents' choices? Since the denial of the Dream Act, students like Miguel still have to be aware of their social interactions because if they are caught, they could be deported back to their home countries. They can't get their license, a decent job, go to clubs, or even travel with their girlfriends to Alaska for the holiday, because what if he's asked for identification? It's always better to be safe than to be sorry.

The Dream Act was going to be a relief for the children who were brought to America, in order that they might be able to reach for a better education or a better position in the economic ladder. It was supposed to allow children to live their own American Dream free of their parents' burdens, but it seems to have come to a halt. Hopefully this issue will be brought up again in Congress and new legislation written to hopefully one day adequately allow the immigrants to assimilate into the culture they grew up in.

Besides not being able to get a job or drive a car, students cannot freely do what others take for granted. Some vow not to marry until they obtain a green card, because their partners' parents are afraid that they are marrying simply for U.S. citizenship. Many are frustrated because the idea of going out on a date is tainted by the lack of money, not because they don't make any but because they can't make any because a job requires the proper identification. Either way, the dream has been stopped, but if President Obama's State of the Union address is any indicator, hopefully we'll be seeing some reform in the next two years.

Banned Watercraft Saves Man's Life

On January 22, surfer Jacob Trette was caught by an unexpected "army" of 30-foot waves that almost ended his life. Trette, an Orange County native, was knocked down by the waves, and every time he reached the surface, another crashing wave would keep him from getting any air. Thankfully, Matt Krizan was by and saw Trette's unconscious body and waves for someone to come rescue them. Russell Ord, who was on the beach, quickly borrowed a WaveRunner (think jet ski) and pulled Krizan to safety. Krizan had to spend two days in an induced coma, but "walked out of Stanford Medical Center on [January 26th]."

This beach in Half Moon Bay is home to a surfing competition where waves have known to reach 80 feet high, but when the competition or a "high alert" isn't going on, personal water crafts (PWCs) are banned from the beach. This has been enacted for environmentalist reasons, protecting the vulnerable wildlife living beneath the water's surface, but this event shows how detrimental the ban can be. While no serious discussion over the overturning of this ban has been begun, the debate that began when the ban was introduced in 2009 has been brought to the surface. When the ban was first introduced, many surfers were strongly opposed to it, but many also understand and approve the ban. PWCs, as shown here, can save lives, but photographers eager to capture stunning pictures can put surfers at risk and PWCs that tow surfers into bigger waves can also hurt both surfers and wildlife.

Do the pros of having PWCs outweigh the cons? Is there a better way to implement a ban on PWCs? How should this be regulated?

*UPDATE: To clarify, Trette has said to have been surfing since the age of four and has surfed other big waves before the one in Half Moon Bay.

Southern Sudan Votes for Independence

In early January of 2011, the Sudanese had their first election since the start of the authoritative dictatorship of self-declared President Omar al-Bashir in 1989.

Most of us might recognize the name of this country because of the brutal civil war, oppression, and the displaced people groups surrounding Sudan as a result of President al-Bashir's alleged (he hasn't been convicted) genocide. Some might say the struggle has been going on since before al-Bashir's coup d'etat, but now the country is getting a chance to finally change that.

The southern Sudanese, led by Salva Kiir, had an astounding 97% turnout. The north had a slightly lower turnout, 60%. Looking at these numbers, anyone from the United States should be impressed at these statistics, but the most important thing to notice here is the percentage of people who voted for secession. In the south, over 99% of voters voted for secession. If that isn't a mandate, I don't know what is. Although the actual vote hasn't been officially made, the south plans to declare independence on July 9. There is a long way to go, and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon mentioned many of the issues that will require much thought and action in the coming months as the south declares itself as an independent nation, but I can't express how happy I am to see the Sudanese gain their independence.

The Sudanese have the support of the U.N. and many other countries around the world, and after all their suffering and pain, I am excited see how southern Sudan will fare in the near future.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nelson Mandela Released from Hospital

South Africa’s former President, Nelson Mandela, age 92, was released from his hospital stay after an acute respiratory infection. Doctors say he is recovering well.

Mandela is beloved in South Africa and around the world as the hero who liberated South Africa from apartheid. Though he is no longer in public service, he is still revered as a living icon through his country. When he was hospitalized, rumors that he was going to die abounded, and the entire world was watching, as evidenced by the prominence of the story in the news.

I believe that the admiration that Mandela receives worldwide is deserved. He may not be perfect, and I don’t agree with all his approaches, but he is an example of a leader with a clear moral vision, who is not turned aside from his goal by the desire for power or from political and physical threats. He dedicated his life to fighting the system of injustice in South Africa, but once apartheid was ended, he did not hesitate to criticize his own party’s policies and abuses of power. In this world when morality is too often put into the service of political power, a truly principled and still effective leader is truly to be admired.

But I have mixed feelings about the attention that the world is giving to Mandela’s health. He is clearly aged and ailing, and long retired from public service. While the love he receives from his people is well deserved, speculation about his death seems out of place. The spokesman for the current President, Jacob Zuma, said that this speculation is “very un-African and very alien to the African culture”. The fact that the people are so anxious about his possible death may be a sign that they are not ready to move on. It should be time for South America to let go of the past and move into the future, and let their beloved hero live out his last days in peace.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

House Representative Kucinich Sues Over Olive Pit

Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich is suing a congressional cafeteria in the District of Columbia Superior Court for $150,000 over an olive pit from a sandwich wrap he ordered nearly two years ago. The case was filed January 3 and is scheduled to go to court April 8. He claims that the sandwich wrap “contained dangerous substances,” and that it caused him “serious and permanent” dental injuries.

I think this is a sad demonstration of the failure of our government and legal system. While the President spoke yesterday about cutting down on wasteful government spending, here we have an example of a member of our government wasting the time and money of our courts on this frivolous and ridiculous lawsuit.

Should this case even be heard in the courts? The purpose of the courts should be to establish fairness and correct injustice for the people of the United States, not for the wealthy and powerful to lay frivolous claims over petty injuries. The fact that the Superior Court is hearing this case indicates to me that there is something wrong with our judicial system, that our politicians have way too much influence over it.

And what of Kucinich? As a congressman, he naturally has a good amount of political clout. That he is abusing his power to further his petty grudges rather than to serve the American power is unacceptable.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Tea Party Response

In addition to the customary Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, there was another highly publicized response: the response from the Tea Party.

Michelle Bachmann, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota, delivered a response to the President's State of the Union address on behalf of the Tea Party, which was televised on CNN. Like President Obama, Bachmann invoked the national spirit and encouraged hope, and like the official Republican response, she pointed to the debt crisis and the failures of the economy. Her tone was more confrontational than that of Paul Ryan, directly attacking the President's policy on many counts with very few concessions.

Bachmann says that she recognizes the legitimacy of Paul Ryan's official Republican response and is not putting her speech forward as a challenge. The Republican Party says the same, that she is simply using the opportunity afforded to all Congress members to respond to the State of the Union address. But the fact remains that the speech was officially endorsed by the Tea Party and is widely being treated as a third party address, and that it was broadcast by a major news network.

What do you think of the speech and its meaning for the politics of the Tea Party? Is the Tea Party now a true third party and a major force in politics? Is this speech going to deepen the Tea Party's divide with the Republican Party? Or is it the sincere response of a conservative congresswoman that has been blown out of proportion?

Obama's State of the Union Address

This Tuesday evening, President Obama talked about several issues that are affecting the US nation. He talked about tax cuts, improving education, and how to stimulate the economy. He also talked about how the deficit can slowly start to decrease throughout the nearby years and also stop the enormous amount of money that is being spent by the government.

A very important statement made by the president this evening was, "We will move forward together or not at all." Personally, I think he is right because if both party, Democrats and Republicans, do not work together, then not much will get resloved and our nation will continue with its current problems.

To achieve the political goals he set, he knows that spending is required in order to improve the technology, research, and education in our state. This is why he wants to cut down spending in other areas where he feels that it's unnecessary to spend such a huge amount of money which is not helping the growth and prosperity of our country.

The president directed the following quote to lawmakers in the audience: "The future is ours to win."

Obama focused a lot of the time on creating new jobs for those who are unemployed at the moment. He also focused on the war in Iraq and he said, "This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq." Hopefully, Obama will oblige by these words and do everything that's necessary to bring our troops home after a war that has lasted almost a decade.

Some of the issues Obama did not address during this evening's State of the Union were gun control, global climate change, and the effort to promote and secure peace in the Middle East. The issues he focused very little time on were national security and the immigration reform, which he promised since his campaign back in the 2008 elections, when he was running for president. Personally, I felt like he should have talked more about the immigration reform and what he intends to do in order to improve the immigration situation in this nation rather than focus almost all of his speech on how to improve and strengthen the economy. I really hope Obama can do something to improve this issue that affects so many families living in this country.

So, let me know what you guys thought about the State of the Union, if you watched it. What did you think about the issues that Obama talked about? Do you think he will really achieve all of these goals along with members from both parties? Do you think members from both parties will cooperate with him on the issues he mentioned tonight? How long do you think it will take to really improve and boost the economy in our nation?

This is my last post and I just want to say that I enjoyed posting for all of you. Thank you to all of you who read my posts and commented on them. I enjoyed reading your comments and responding to some of them. Looking forward to reading posts and commenting on them, provided by those who have not yet blogged!! :)

State of The Union: What the People Wanted to Hear

Yesterday, Yahoo! conducted a poll asking the public what topics they wanted to have addressed in the President's State of the Union. Not surprisingly, education and the current job situation were mentioned the most, followed by national security, energy, and spending. These topics are personal to many of the Americans watching the address, as was the State of the Union address itself. President Obama encouraged the Republicans and Democrats to work together in order the further the nation in every aspect and push it into the future. In his address the President covered all the aforementioned topics, even detailing some the many mentioned above. However, some topics were merely skimmed, and I'm sure that given the time, the President could've covered more.

So, let's talk about it here. The State of the Union is just that: a statement of where the nation is right now and some of the steps the President hopes to take in the future to build on the current standings. Although the President did give a fair amount of attention to job creation, I feel as if the details of this were lacking, compared to the specificity of education (where the President hopes to have a new "Race to the Top" and replace NCLB with more focused legislation). Obama's address was thorough, but I'm sure others might've been hoping for something different.

Did you think President Obama was thorough in addressing of the nation's current issues? Is there something that you would've liked him to speak about? Why do you think that's important?

A United Government (says the POTUS)

I don't know about you, but listening to the Republican Response has just left a slightly sour, although probably more informed, taste in my mouth.

For all of us who watched the State of the Union address, this was the very first time that the Democrats and Republicans sat on both sides of the floor, a symbol of the unity President Obama mentioned numerous times in his address. In fact, that is the very idea he began with when he first spoke to those seated. President Obama mentioned (1) innovation, (2) education, and (3) infrastructure, also including national security, the impending deficit, and of course, health reform. The President mentioned those who strongly opposed the current reform, which of course drew some laughs from the audience, encouraging those who had suggestions to the current legislation to work with the President to create a better law.

Throughout the address, the President always went back to both the Republicans and Democrats, urging them to work together in order to better our nation's spot in the race with other countries while also increasing the quality of the United States as a whole. At the conclusion of his address, the President no doubt followed through with his inspirational stories of encouragement, ending on a very high note of confidence in both the people of the United States and the members of Congress, who he once again asked to work together. No doubt those who tuned in to watch felt an uplifting feeling for the future of our nation, which is what I'm sure was the President's intent.

However, in spite of all the applause and optimism, I'm still not sure of this nation's legislative future. In the Republican Response, Congressional Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan expressed opinions that were very contrary to what the President had just proposed. Yes, we need to cut spending. Yes, we need to give equal opportunity and invest in innovation, but Ryan was quick to point out where the President was wrong. Ryan called the stimulus bill the President's "spending spree" which not only didn't really help the economy but also added tremendously to the deficit. Through the response, the Republican view was very prominent, undercutting the President's just finished speech on unity in the government. Ryan proposed both a limited government and completely repealing the hotly debated health reform, something that makes me rethink the unity Obama spoke about in his address.

However, there is one thing for sure: only the future will tell. What did you think of the address? Do you believe that the government can act as a cohesive body, even though just moments after the President's address, Ryan was already proposing differently?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Suicide Bomber Kills 35 in Moscow

Today, a suicide bomber set off a home made device at one of the busiest airports near Moscow, Russia. The bomb killed 35 people and wounded about 100 people. Although there is not a defenitive identification yet, the president of Russia immediately labeled the attack as terrorist activity and ordered additional security at all transportation facilities.

This event followed a 2004 attack that killed 89 people. The 2004 event was linked to Chechen suicide bombers. Attacks are unfortunately fairly common in Russia because of the many Islamic groups that are fighting to break away from Russia.

Why is this important to us??

This is very important to the United States because Russia is one of our biggest allies in Afaghanistan. Russia is a very important importer of goods, especially in Iraq. Russia is also a very large oil producer and if Russia's instability grows, oil prices may rise significantly which would negatively effect our economy. This is also important to us because of Russia's nuclear power. The United States is an enemy of many Islamic nations and if parts if Islamic power grows in Russia, the US may start worrying about their power. (We really don't want to go to war with Russia)

So what should we do now?

The question is, is the US going to sit by and watch Russia get attacked all the time? Or are we going to help them out with their security problems? Although we are 14 trillion dollars in debt, our debt could get much worse if the problems in Russia grew.

Obama's Midpoint and a New State of the Union

Two years after he came into office, President Obama is preparing for Tuesday's State of the Union in front of Congress. His goals have been expansive and hard to keep up with. One of the goals he has accomplished has to do with the healthcare. He has been able to pass a law which benefits the senior citizens of the nation. Another goal that Obama has accomplished, but not completely has to do with the war in Iraq and the troops in Afghanistan. Since he went into office, troops have come out of Iraq and gone into Afghanistan. The United States had about 138,000 troops in Iraq and 36,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2009, when Obama first took office. Now, the numbers have shifted; there are 47,000 troops in Iraq and 97,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The people of the nation have been having mixed feelings about how Obama has been dealing with the different issues that are at hand. If you ask individuals if they think if Obama has delivered his promise of change, 42% of them will say that it's still too soon to tell. 33% say he has failed to deliver the promise of change he has proposed and 25% say he has kept his promise of change. Another area in which the people of the nation are divided is whether President Obama is attempting to change things at the right pace. 33% think he's moving too fast and almost the same percentages of people think he is moving at the right pace or too slow. These are just two of the topics that people have taken a poll on about Obama and how he has done since he became president of the United States.

Now my question is, what do you think of Obama's work since he became president? Do you think he has kept his promise of change? Is he moving at the right pace, too fast, or too slow, in your opinion? What about the war? Do you think the troops will move out of Iraq and Afghanistan by August of this year just like Obama said it is going to happen? What do you think he will address tomorrow night at the State of the Union? Let me know what you think of Obama and his progress since he took office in 2009.

Jared Loughner Pleas Not Guilty

Loughner, who shot and killed 6 people in Tucson, Arizona, faced arraignment today in Phoenix. Unsure of Loughner's mental capacity, U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns entered a plea of not guilty on Loughner's behalf.

Loughner is charged with attempted murder of Giffords and two of her assistants. He is not being charged with the death of the 6 victims, including Arizona chief federal judge John Roll at this time. However, more charges are likely to follow. The next court hearing is scheduled for March 9th and will most likely be held in Tucson so that the court may be closer to victims and witnesses.

It is very likely that Loughner will plead not guilty for reason of insanity on all charges that he faces. However, prosecutors may enter a plea deal if he agrees to plead guilty. Loughner is likely to escape the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Giffords has recently been moved to a rehabilitation center in Texas. She is currently in the Intensive Care Unit because there is fluid in her brain that the doctors are draining. However, she is doing well so far and recieves occupation, physical and speech therapy daily. It is unknown whether she will be able to talk at this time.

What do you guys think about Loughner pleading guilty to attempted murder?? Do you think that he will "get off easy" because of his mental issues?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

GOP Members Have Mixed Feelings About Budget Cuts in Defense

Members in Congress have difficult decisions to make in the near future. Some Republicans are willing to cut down budget spending in our active war in Iraq, while others say that cutting down defense spending is not a good idea because our men and women who are fighting overseas need protection in order to prevent further danger against our US citizens.

The one good outcome that would result would be the cutting down of the defense as well as canceling weapons. Doing this would result in a great decrease in spending for military defense and it would slowly decrease the US's 1.3 trillion deficit. However, cutting down of the defense could also mean that a lot of people would be out of work since the production of weapons and other defense items would no longer occur.

The defense budget is $700 billion annually. Only a few in Congress have been willing to cut down military defense since US troops are still fighting in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Tea party committees have said that if the government is going to cut down spending, then the military's budget also needs to be included in this decision.

Personally, I think that cutting down defense would be a good decision on behalf of the US government because we have spent way too much money on a war that has been going on for almost ten years now. I feel that instead of spending money, we are actually wasting money on this war because we haven't come to a conclusion yet and an enormous number of troops have died overseas. Instead of spending so much money on this recent war, I feel like we should have spent that capital on other areas of the nation such as improving school programs (instead of cutting them down), hospitals and healthcare, parks, highways, etc. I really hope that the US government makes a good decision regarding the defense spending because our nation should not be spending a large amount of money on a war that does not seem to have an end to it.

What do you guys think about this proposal of defense budget cuts? What do you think the US government will decide regarding this difficult task? Let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2012 Republican Primaries: Giuliani versus Palin?

Former NYC Mayor Giuliani says that he may (once again) run for president in 2012 if Sarah Palin runs. He feels that running against Sarah Palin would make him appear more moderate and he would have a much better chance of winning the election.

Do you think that it is a good idea for Giuliani to run against Sarah Palin? Even if it is an easy win for Giuliani, I am not sure if he is a strong enough candidate to run against Obama (assuming he will run again as he is expected to).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Is Education a Civil Rights Issue?

We all just learned that civil rights are government protected rights of individuals. When we think of civil rights, we usually think about discrimination. However, on Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown called education funding a civil rights issue.

Jerry Brown believes in investing in California's education in order to provide for a better future for generations to come. But is Jerry Brown choosing education over redevelopment?

I guess the real question is, is a quality education a civil right? Is it the government's responsibility to see that every child in every district receives the same quality of education or is it the parent's responsibility because they choose to live in that district? If it is the government's responsibility to ensure that each child receives an equal education, is it then the government's responsibility to ensure that each child that wants to go to college has the opportunity to?

This is an important question for us right now because most of us are working on our FAFSA. Some of us are entirely dependant on the government funding our education. But what if we do not receive a high enough grant and we can't afford to go to the college we want to go to? Is this just a harsh reality that some people are more fortunate than others or is it the governments responsibility to make sure that each and every child that wants to go to college can 100% afford to do so?

I think that Jerry Brown needs to realize that the public school system will never be perfectly equal in every district and that he can not be a miracle worker. However, I do think that it is a good thing that he is interested and involved with the public school system.

'Economy into overdrive' by 2012? Guess Only Time Will Tell

President Obama announced Jeffery Immelt, head of General Electric (GE) to lead a group on jobs and competitiveness. President Obama's goal is for people to find good jobs. The president has been criticized for the lack of work he has done to improve the US economy since entering office two years ago. Some analysts say that his success or failure in Mr. Obama's 2012 re-election depends partly on the job he does to improve the economy and on whether voters see an increase in the employment industry. On Friday, President Obama focused on the need to build the US export economy, mostly because of the US's trade deficit with China. President Obama said on Friday, "We're going to build stuff, and invent stuff." Lastly, regarding the Chinese nation he said, "That's where customers are. It's that simple."

So, what do you guys think about President Obama's idea for an improvement in the economy by 2012? Do you think he will work harder to stimulate the US economy? What do you think will happen regarding the US's export trade with China? Will that improve? What measures do you think he will take in order to improve the economy of this nation?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MTV's New Series "Skins": What Will Happen Next?

I found this to be an interesting blog post made on Yahoo! TV Blog and I thought I would share it with you guys.

The new MTV show "Skins" aired on Monday, January 17 on MTV at 10 P.M. (eastern) and the show is already being looked down upon by both critics and other groups such as the conservative Parents Television Council (PTC). Taco Bell has decided to pull out from future airings of the new series. This show is an adaption of the original BBC series from Britain. Critics and other committees are complaining that the show has shown way too much drug use, sex related scenes and comments, and overall misbehaving teenagers who are being reckless. The show has been rated as TV-MA, meaning that it's meant for the adult viewers, especially because of the time it airs at which is supposed to be a factor that pulls young viewers from watching the show. However, on the night of its premiere, 1.2 million of the 3.3 million viewers who tuned in to watch the pilot were viewers under 18 years of age.

Critics and committees such as PTC have been complaining about other shows and celebrities' actions prior to the premiere of the latest MTV series. They've criticized the racy magazine cover of GQ which featured the young Hollywood stars from the hit show "Glee". Also, they've criticized an episode of the CW's hit show "Gossip Girl" back in 2009 which featured three of the characters in the show engaging in a provocative scene.

Over the weekend I kept on debating whether I would or should watch the premiere of "Skins" and ultimately, I did not. I'm not sure if I will tune in to watch the much-talked about new series, but even if I don't, I know that my actions in life should not be reflected due to a show I watch on TV. Just because I watch a show like this one, it does not mean that I will automatically become the type of person like one of the actors on the show. I watch the show "Gossip Girl" and I've seen pretty racy and provocative scenes throughout the seasons of the show, but I've never been tempted to act nor behave like the characters in the show. I just enjoy watching the show because it allows me to escape from my daily routine for an hour.

What do you guys think about this new series and the reviews by critics and other groups? Have any of you tuned in to watch "Skins"? If so, what did you think of the show? If not, what do you think will happen to the new series? Will it air more episodes or get cancelled? Have you guys watched or are watching shows similar to this one which have been badly criticized? Let me know what you think! :)

What does a trillion dollars look like?

Related to the post immediately below, I strongly encourage you to check this out. It will blow your mind. Look at that and then multiply by another 14 -- ouch!

Please make any comments about the debt under Jessica's post.

IOU: $$14,001,000,000,000.00 Signed, USA

Congratulations America!! We just reached the $14 Trillion mark!! That's right, we are now officially $14,001,000,000,000 dollars in debt.

Our legal debt ceiling is $14,294,000,000,000. This means that we are only $300 billion dollars away from reaching this legal limit.

And what does Treasury Secretary Geithner recommend? That we raise the cap of course!!

Geithner says that reaching our limit would ruin not only our economy, but the economies of various other countries too.

If we do actually reach the limit, what would actually happen? We would all receive IOUs!!

We need to fix our deficit problem before it gets even more out of control. Our deficit has no reason to be so high (or to continuously expand). The question is, how do we do it??

For now, I think we need to raise our limit for a very limited amount of time. Then, we need to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit quickly, even if that means that our economy might hurt for a bit longer.

What do you think?? Do we need to extend the gap before it's too late?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are Facebook Games too Distracting?

We all know that certain person who spends way too much time on Facebook. In photography class, they sit on the computer playing mind numbing games and you wonder how they're ever going to pass that class. At lunch, they're the first ones in the computer lab. Ignoring their friends, they addictively sit in front of the computer. At home, their whole social world is online. We all know that this is unhealthy behavior.

But what about those of us who just play a game every once in awhile? Could that be dangerous at all?

Facebook games distract us way too much from real life.

In Colorado, a 34 year old woman left her 13 month old child unattended in the bath tub while she played a facebook game in the other room. Distracted by the game, she did not think to check on her baby until it was too late. She walked into the bathroom after a few minutes and found her infant lying sideways with his face in the water. He was dead. She now faces up to 48 years in prison.

Some might say that this is a rare, isolated case in which an unfit mother was neglecting her child. However, I think that this is an extreme example of the addiction we have with the internet. Do you think that this woman was just a neglectful mother or was it just an innocent mistake?? Do you think that our societie's addiction with Facebook had anything to do with this??

Will Obama's Health Care Law Be Repealed?

Now that the Republicans have gained seats in the House of Representatives, they want to repeal the health care law that Obama passed a year ago. Officials from the GOP said that in the months that are coming up, congressional groups will offer changes to the legislation which exists right now. In the coming months, Republicans will also try to overturn a lot of the changes Democrats made to the Medicare Advantage, which is a classified substitute to the traditional government-run health care program for senior citizens. In order for members of the GOP to accomplish of all these measures, especially the repeal of the bill, it will require the approval of the Senate as well as the signature of President Obama. Debate has soared between the two parties, since lawmakers in both of the parties observed self-imposed vows, especially since the shooting rampage in Arizona. Some Republicans say the law is affecting businesses negatively when it comes to taxing and that Americans are not happy with the takeover the Democrats have gotten on health care.

In the year 2014, millions of Americans will have to have health insurance, whether it's through an employer, a government program, or their own consumption. Starting this year, insurance marketplaces would open in each of the states, allowing citizens and small businesses to pick from private plans that would meet government standards.

I think repealing this bill is not a good idea because since the health care bill has passed a lot of senior citizens have benefitted from it and seem to be pleased with the bill.
What do you guys think of this idea that the Republicans have? Do you think repealing this bill is a good idea or not? How do you think the repeal of this law would affect the citizens of the country?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gun Control: Does it Really Work?

Does the Tucson tragedy reveal a need for increased gun control?

Before we jump to any conclusions, maybe we should first look at the facts about gun control.

Obviously, the point of gun control laws is to decrease violence in our communities. However, most people do not know that gun control does not necessarily decrease gun violence. There is no solid evidence that shows that gun control laws decrease gun accidents and crimes. Besides, if a criminal does not obey homicide or robbery laws, what incentive would they have to obey gun control laws? Guns are easily attainable on the black market or in other countries and we certainly have more than enough in circulation already. Who's to say the criminals would not have even more incentive to rob someone if they knew that the victim did not have a firearm?

We also have to ask ourselves if it's worth infringing upon our Second Amendment rights to possibly reduce firearm violence. First of all, (according to the article) there are 500,000 gun crimes per year in the United States. Americans own around 250 million guns. This means that no more than .2% of guns are used to commit a crime each year. Do we really want to infringe upon the rights of 98.8 % of responsible gun owners?

Jared Loughner attained a firearm through a licensed dealer. So, instead of gun control laws, we really need to focus on background checks (which are required when purchasing a firearm in most places) and mental illness outreach.

What do you think? Do you believe that gun control laws would help? Do you think that gun control laws would have prevented the Arizona tragedy?

China's President Arrives In the US

China's current president, Hu Jintao has landed on the US for a four day visit to talk about economic issues and trade disputes with President Obama. The two presidents will also be discussing North Korea's nuclear activities. Obama will host a private dinner for Mr. Hu on Tuesday night and his visit will continue with talks on Wednesday in the Oval Office. According to China's foreign ministry, this visit by Mr. Hu is "an important one". Spokesman, Hong Lei says, "We hope the visit will promote positive and co-operative China-US relations, map out new directions for bilateral relations in the new era and raise co-operation to a new level". Mr. Hu has questioned the function of the US dollar as the world's reserve currency; he also critized the US monetary policy, saying that by keeping the interest rates low, then the Federal Reserve is decreasing the value of the dollar and creating inflation in other places. Personally, I think that this is an important visit that China's president is making because it will allow the two nations to discuss a variety of issues that is affecting both states. Hopefully, good outcomes and positive feedback will result from this visit.

What do you guys think about President Hu's visit to the US? Do you expect anything positive to come out of this visit? How important do you think this visit really is?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Steve Jobs Takes Indefinite Leave of Absence

Steve Jobs has taken a second health-related leave of absence as CEO of Apple. Tim Cook, Apple's Chief Operating Officer, will take over the company's day-to-day operations in Jobs' stead, as he did during Jobs' last leave of absence.

Jobs, who is 55 years old, gave no timetable for his return, but noted that Cook would execute the "plans the company has in place for 2011." In the meantime, the market is conflicted as to whether or not Apple can maintain its integrity and share price on the stock market. The last time Jobs took a leave of absence, shares fell 6% and many believe the company's shares will lose value.

Who knows what will become of Apple, and 2011 could likely be a transformative year for the company. What do you think? Will Apple benefit or detriment from Job's indefinite absence? WIll Cook be able to expand on and equal the innovation of Steve Jobs himself?

Former Banker Releases Data to WikiLeaks

A former Swiss banker, Rudolph Elmer, reportedly gave WikiLeaks two CDs that contained "account details on more than 2,000 high-profile politicians, celebrities, crime bosses and multinationals suspected of tax evasion." With the help of financial media outlets and nongovernmental organizations, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to analyze the information and publish the data "in a matter of weeks."

The former banker was fired back in December 2002 after he raised concerns that Swiss bank Julius Baer was helping clients with tax evasion. Found to have violated Swiss banking secrecy, Rudolph Elmer was sentenced to thirty days in jail. He, however, stands by his actions and states, "I do think as a banker I have the right to stand up if something is wrong."

What do you guys think? Does Elmer have the right to release the account information to WikiLeaks? Was what he did a violation of privacy? Or was he right in acting on his conscience?

Maine Gov. Changes MLK Plans; Political Stunt?

On Friday, Maine Governor Paul LePage received criticism for his decision not to attend the state NAACP's annual King Day celebrations. After a reporter questioned his decision, LePage reportedly answered, "Tell them to kiss my butt." Over the weekend, his comment raised heavy criticism from state and national leaders of the NAACP. The group's national president claimed that LePage's comments "inflame racial tension."

Afterwards, the governor changed his holiday plans and attended the Monday breakfast honoring Dr Martin Luther King. His appearance at Monday's breakfast drew mixed reactions. Some, like Rep. Effie McClain, were convinced of his sincerity and urged others to move on from his previous comments. Others, however, remained bitter and insisted that his urgent change of plans resulted from purely political motives.

Personally, I think LePage did attend the event because of political reasons but I don't think he should be blamed for it; he's a politician afterall. His comment was uncalled for but I think the NAACP is overreacting a little. What do you guys think of Governor LePage's appearance?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

McDonald's employee fired for letting football superstar use the bathroom

An assistant manager at McDonald's was fired after allowing Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson to use the bathroom while the restaurant was closed. While working the late-night drive-thru shift at 3 a.m., a female employee encountered a man standing outside the window who asked to come inside to use the restroom. After a little while, she realized it was the popular Minnesota Vikings star and opened the door for him to come inside and use the facilities, against company policy. A week later, she was fired for the “offense.” However, after the local media reported on this case, McDonald's gave her back her job.

True, she violated company policy. However, McDonald’s claims to be all about customer service, right? She let in a famous sports superstar to use the bathroom, and to lose her job over something like this seems silly. Even so, rules are rules, and McDonald’s policy clearly states to not let anyone in after hours. I don’t know whether it was right of her to get fired or not, but the only reason why she got rehired was because of the bad press McDonald’s was receiving from this piece of news. What do you guys think? If this was your company and your employee violated such a law like this, what would you have done?