Monday, October 31, 2011

I don't get the Occupy world protests.

I don't. Really. Does everyone really think that protesting like this will get the economy to turn around?

So Occupy Wall Street has protesters marching Wall Street, which have since launched similar Occupy protests all around the globe (except in countries where protests are illegal). Originally, the protest was about citizens in outrage of "the man" and the 1% (of the general population) rich corporate giants who were squandering tax dollars from them. It also attracted a bunch of minority and extremist groups which briefly turned Occupy into an antiestablishmentarianistic protest. Although, now the Occupy protest is now mainly about its original purpose, and have One Demand... well, a list of One Demands.

While the protest itself is organized, the purpose is not. I don't see the effectiveness of these protests. Usually effective protests include some sort of boycott or some sort of aggression against, in this case, the banks. Instead, protesters are being just as effective as being outdoor campers. It is as if they think that just their presence against corporations, whose goal is to make money even if it meant ruining the economy and other peoples' lives, will somehow have a change of heart and then... do what?

There is one thing Occupy has shown, and that is all over the world people are angry. Yes, they are angry, but what do they expect to come out of their anger? Every protester clearly hates the current financial system, but they have different opinions on what should be done or what should be changed.

Even if Occupy "wins" protesting against corporations, what are they going to do? Magically throw their money at everyone? An instant change in economical and political structure to a utopia? These protests can last forever, but unless they specify what they really want changed these protests are in a stalemate of pointlessness caused by themselves.

The "establishment" can't figure out what will make Occupy to go away either. Since Occupy is at the moment feeling like a "raising awareness" campaign, there is no ultimatum for either side to follow through, there is no quick ending to the Occupy protests. I don't see how Occupy, with this level of organization and widespread influence that has somehow formed in the early stages, is going to fade out anytime soon. Maybe everyone will get bored after a few months, or the economy somehow picks itself up, like a miracle. And miracles don't make themselves.

The way I see it, the US economy is heading towards a steep cliff where it will collapse, if people keep thinking we can sustain this current level of consumerism anytime longer. The occupy protests will keep going aimlessly until someone wants someone dead.

What do you think the outcome of the Occupy saga will be?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

World Population Reaches 7 Billion

On Monday, when most of us will be going out to stranger's houses asking for free candy, our global population will reach a milestone of 7 billion, according to the United Nations Population Division who set October 31, 2011 as the date.

But is this really to be celebrated?

Demographers agree that humanity's growth is on a steep curve upwards, and could reach to 9.3 billion by 2050. Overpopulation is a looming issue to our sustainability on Earth, but seems to be ignored. Those that do talk about it know that overpopulation will deplete natural resources, and is even one of the main causes of global warming. Of course, the logical conclusion is to stem our population growth. This does not mean endorsing genocide, but perhaps promoting sodomy and abortion (ignoring any pro-life "arguments") is a good idea (advertising abortion as eco-friendly?). China's One Child Policy first comes to mind when discussing stemming population growth. Chinese demographers claimed that the policy has delayed the 7th billion milestone by 5 years.

Should we worry about it? No, not really. We will just notice and move on, like many other political issues, until it comes back to haunt us when our food supplies come short (which, honestly, is a very long time from now).

Of course, the real question is, when should we start worrying about overpopulation?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Deep Investigation of Green Energy Loans is Being Called For

Last week ABC news brought to light problems with the Green Energy Loans program the Obama administration set up 2 years ago. It seems that the loans meant to creat green jobs for americans by giving money to companies to create electric sports cars. That sounds great but it seems one of the companies, namely Fisker, has in these past 2 years only designed and built one model of car, the karma seen at right, in Finland. Understandably many people are angered by this recent development and now Republicans in congress have started calling for a large scale probe of the loans which are already being looked over due to one a loan recipient, Solyndra, declared bankruptcy.
The spokesperson for Fisker has said that none of the loan money is being used in Finland but seeing as they have just begun making preparations to do anything at all in the US, nobody has seen any concept for what the car will look like, it is doubtful they set aside 500 million dollars for 2 years, and the companies first car has yet to even go on sale Fiskers assurances aren't doing much calm people down.

I'm quite glad they will be investigating these loans further, but the big question is what should be done if they do find misuse of funds? Some companies to receive these loans are using the loan they received to purchase only american goods and services but as that is far costlier then outsourcing they are considered noncompetitive and are having trouble making enough profits to pay back the loans. And what should be done with Fisker now that they are preparing to begin production in the US? Is it right to take back the loans and what determines if they should be taken back?

Comprehensive look at the legislative process

I don't know where I originally found this, but it is a great study graphic about Congress for students of American Government, although with far more details about the little steps through Congress and the language of parliamentary procedure than is necessary in an introductory course.

The legend at the bottom highlights the best aspects of this visual --see "extra information" "chance for failure" and "lobbying opportunity." There are a lot of input points, and a lot of veto points. Those characteristics have positive and negative impacts on both Congress's ability to write quality legislation and its ability to fulfill its representative function in our republic.

The color coding and width of this graphic make it unwieldy for me to use in class, but it is worth a download and a closer look.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

San Francisco warns Occupiers

Yesterday the San Francisco Department of Public deemed the Wall st. occupiers a health hazard siting “Evidence of excrement, urine and vomit were observed throughout the park. Fecal material was observed on stairs and grass. A container of human waste was observed along the Embarcadero side of the park.” The city has said that if they do not stop this behavior immediately arrests will be made.
Protesters are objecting to the way the city is portraying them saying that the city is exasperating and that most of the sanitation problems come from the homeless people of the city who where there way before the occupiers got there. Since San Francisco is not the only city to complain about sanitation in the camps it is hard to tell which side is right.
With this, a statement by the SFPD promising arrests, and the Oakland police raids on occupy Wall st. camps it looks like the Bay area is becoming an unwelcoming place for the protesters.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

US Troops To Be Pulled Out of Iraq

This Friday, President Obama announced that US will be pulled out Iraq by the end of the year. This would bring an end to an eight year war that cost the lives of 4,400 Americans and thousands of more civilians. Plans have been made to remove troops from Iraq since 2008, when former President George Bush's visit to Baghdad was disrupted by a shoe flung at his face. Clearly there was no hope in seeing our troops pulled out at that point. Most officials were expecting that between 5,000 to 3,000 troops would remain to ensure order and control in Iraq and are skeptical of Obama's plan to pull out. The main reason for this is because the Iraqi government will no longer grant immunity of persecution by law to US soldiers. Besides this, Obama plans to begin "a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
The timing could not be better for Obama. With elections coming up soon, his presidency has brought an end to Osama Bin Laden, Moammar el- Qadafi, and now the end of the war in Iraq; which will all help to gain him support from Republicans who question his firmness in foreign affairs. His promise to end the war was one of the biggest reasons he had support from Americans and is one of the few promises he has been able to keep with a cabinet that is against him and a troubled economy.
Of course, there are still several who are against Obama's plan. They believe that it is too soon to begin removing troops and that it could compromise all the efforts and sacrifices of US troops. Republican presidential candiate, Mitt Romney, also questions Obama's reasons for pulling out, wondering whether he was drawn by "naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government". I think it could be a little of both. Obviously, Obama has been campaigning and working to bring an end to the war, but I think that the pressure of reelection has helped to boost him to push his policy just a little harder. What do you think is driving Obama to end this war? Should the US be pulling out right now, or is it still to soon?

Qadafi Killed

After 40 years of dictatorship in Libya, Quadafi was killed by his resistance fighters in his hometown of Surt. Many were skeptical of the reports including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but those doubts have been destroyed and his death has been confirmed. Officials state that Qadafi died of severe wounds after he was capture while trying to escape a NATO led assault on Surt. Videos have sprung up around the world showing Qadafi being dragged by fighters after he was captured and of resistance fighters celebrating around his dead body. With Qadafi finally eliminated from power, Libya’s new government will now be able to begin rebuilding the country and bring an end the violence and corruption. After years of totalitarianism, nine months of intense battle across the country, and the death of thousands, Libya has good reason to celebrate.

Resistance fighters have been battling against Qadafi’s reign since February of 2011. Qadafi forces seemed to have the upper hand, but after American and European began air strikes on March 19, the resistance began taking control. Qadafi has been wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity since June 27. Along with being responsible for the torture and prosecution of thousands of Libyans, Qadafi was also known for several other violent acts of terrorism around the globe including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 that killed 270.

Now that Qadafi had been eliminated, what role should the US play in Libya’s rebuilding? Or should the US simply withdraw now since the main conflict is over?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hillary Clinton Offers Aid to Libya's New Leaders

This Tuesday, Hillary Clinton traveled through Tripoli, Libya to ensure the new government that the US would continue to support them as they struggle to take control of the country. Clinton has been helping Libyans rebuild their economy with financial aid, bringing supplies for those wounded in the war, and helping to round up missing antiaircraft missiles that still remain. She is the highest ranking official to visit the country since Moammar Khadafy was kicked out of office in August. Her aid has allowed new government leaders to focus their efforts on destroying the remaining Khadafy troops so they can finally take full control of Libya. But despite her efforts, she still fears the troubles that could arise from the few resistance groups that still remain. "We are still at the point where liberation has not yet been claimed because of ongoing conflict," she told reporters. In Sirte, one of the few remaining strongholds for Khadafy forces left, were able to defeat anti-Khadafy militia and keep control of the city. Even Tripoli is still almost divided down the middle and some civilians even refuse to put down their weapons and return to normal life. Clinton promised that the US would continue to send NATO war planes to protect the country, but even with that she fears the conflicts that could arise as Khadafy is at large. Without him behind bars, he is still able to organize his followers and gain supports, hindering the efforts of the new government. Clinton announced that she does not care if Khadafy is "captured or killed" as long as his fear and power over the people of Libya stops. Are their any others ways the US could support the new government of Libya, or is the US government already to involved in this issue?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Drug Cartels Targeting Texas Children to Use in Business

Texas police have been reporting arrests of children as young as 11 years old being recruited by cartels to help them smuggle drugs around the country. They call them "the expendables" and have them do minor tasks for them, such as moving cars and checking for police surveillance. Just this month, police arrested a 12 year old with 800 pounds of marijuana in a stolen car. Over 25 children have been arrested for doing similar jobs, such as being look outs or transporting drugs, and the cartels have been spreading to more and more cities. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, says that they have evidence that at least six drug gangs have organizations in Texas recruiting children. These gangs are trying to create a "sanitary zone" on the north side of the Rio Grande by forcing land owners to let them run operations on their land.
Children are easy targets for the cartels because they are less suspicious and easier to manipulate with less money. Texas officials have joined the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program called "Operation Detour" which works to inform children and parents of the danger these drug cartels pose. They go to schools and community centers where they can meet directly with students, parents, and other members of the community. Do you think this is enough to keep children in Texas safe? Should the government be more involved in this issue?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy New York Supporters Continue To FIght

Since September 17, the members of the Occupy Wall Street protest have been camping out in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. Their purpose? To bring an end to the "greed and corruption of the 1%" said one protestor. That 1% holds 99% of the wealth, or so they claim, and the protestors are determined to bring an end to this unbalance of wealth. While the numbers may be exaggerate, American's are still unhappy with the wealth distribution in the country and the movement has been gaining support rapidly from all backgrounds. "Signs have been held in opposition to President Obama yards away from signs in support of him" quotes the New York Times. Despite the variety of opinions and backgrounds supporters come from, they all agree that something must be done to end the corruption in Wall Street and the rest of the nation. While democrats have showed their support of the rallies, they also fear that it may push followers to the extremes, just as the Tea Party did with republicans. Protest have now spread to Los Angeles, San Francisco, even to Asia and Europe and are becoming harder to keep under control as time goes on and the movement continues to gain support. Just in New York over 700 protestors have been arrested and innocent people have been attacked just to try to keep protestors under control. Followers of the movement are now kept behind orange mesh and have the watchful eyes of the police constantly on them. However, protestors have shown no signs of backing down anytime soon. What should be done to bring an end to these protests? And can it be done quickly enough to stop these protests before they become riots?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Congressional Floor is a Battlefield

The politicians are at it again.

Since Obama's Jobs bill failed to get the votes it needed in the Senate to go to the floor on Tuesday, the democrats are utilizing their backup plan - break the bill up into smaller legislations and pass it along. Given that many of the singular components mirror legislations Republicans have historically voted in favor of, the Democrats are essentially pressuring the Republicans to either pass the smaller pieces of the Jobs Act or clearly explain themselves to their districts why they didn't support them. It's just really messy and everybody's pointing fingers.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) accused President Obama of "running around the country campaigning on a bill that he knows won't pass".

President Obama himself called out the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for impeding efforts to get the Jobs Act to the floor for a vote. "I'd like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain exactly in this job bill what he does not believe in", the president said.

Gary Jacobson, a poly-sci professor at UCSD, pointed out that the Republicans really "have no incentive to decrease unemployment before the next election", which is the reason so many of them voted against the Jobs Act. Honestly, I think this theory holds a lot of truth. If the unemployment rate remained high, just think of all the chances the GOP will get to criticize the Democrats, especially President Obama, in the upcoming primaries and election.

Honestly, I just think this overinflated partisanship is really affecting the pace at which work is actually being done and changes are actually being made by our government.

Oil Oligopoly

Kinder Morgan Inc. is buying El Paso Corp. for $21.2 billion. This is going to "create the largest natural-gas pipeline network in the U.S."

Now, it seems obvious that the oil industry is an oligopoly, but is that good for the U.S.? Kinder Morgan with all of its new pipeline could claim that it is difficult to get to a certain region and raise the costs an exorbitant amount. Kinder Morgan "will have 80,000 miles of pipeline and an enterprise value of $94 billion" (note: the picture is the current Kinder Morgan pipeline map) and it will become the fourth largest energy company in U.S> (Market Watch). Although, the deal isn't supposed to close until the second quarter so that leaves some time for speculation.

At least in Pennsylvania, competition in the natural gas market doesn't exist (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) (it also seems that in general, there are hypothesis and legislature for the promotion of competition in the natural gas industry). This deals more with gas to one's home rather than oil for cars, but the idea seems similar. In addition, claims that the demand will keep on rising in the future alongside demand for other forms of energy. This increased demand, with low competition makes me a little worried. Will prices be raised to the point where gas is a luxury? Or will that happen and the market will give up on gas altogether?

In the past week, Kinder Morgan's stock price has gone up .15% (it looks way more impressive in graph form) (Daily Finance). In contrast, El Paso's stock has gone up 2.30% over the past week (Daily Finance). Maybe people are buying because they know that Kinder Morgan is going to pay $26.87 per share versus the current $19.59 per share. I think this is interesting because despite all of the interest in alternative energy, most people still expect natural gas to be a prominent energy source, at least for the time being.

What do you think should be done concerning the potential for immense power in gas companies? Should anything be done?

WH Solar Panel Delays

A little over a year ago, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and the Council of Environmental Quality announced that they were going to install solar panels and solar water heaters on the roof of the White House in hopes fellow Americans will follow the president's lead and install solar panels on their own homes. Secretary Chu stated that this installation is a "demonstration project showing that American solar technologies are available, reliable and ready for installation in homes throughout the country". However, a year later, the project is still in its preliminary stages.

Obviously, this seemingly lengthy and complicated process is not boosting Americans' willingness to take on solar technologies.

Meanwhile, at a public high school in San Mateo, California, we got our own solar panels installed within a matter of months. Let's all take a moment here and recognize that we're essentially more efficient than top council of the United States. Good job Aragon.

Free or Protectionism? - A Follow Up

The Senate just passed a bill (65 to 35) that "would allow any 'fundamentally misaligned' currency to be labelled a subsidy to countervailing duties." Which essentially means that an undervalued currency could be labeled as an illegal subsidy. Anyone else confused?

The article chalks it up to jealously and resentment against China because it has a growing economy and we're losing all of our jobs to outsourcing which seems petty for this great nation (if I'm to believe the propaganda). Obviously this is against the World Trade Organization's policy and if the bill did ever end up becoming a law, China could bring the U.S. to court.

Bloomberg makes it a little clearer in that this bill is essentially a tariff against China. However, wouldn't a tariff also hurt the working class as it causes a rise in the price of goods? In addition, if a company can prove that it is being harmed, the review would take approximately a year. Am I the only one that thinks that is a waste of time and money?

So, I think that Obama should not sign the bill, but as the Senate and maybe the House are showing, there is growing support for anti-China sentiments. Xiahua says that it might end up leading to a trade war. That sounds like it will just hurt the people this is trying to help. Could this hurt Obama's campaign? I'm not really sure, but what do you think? One thing that seems fairly certain would be that this would definitely hurt the U.S.'s reputation and make many enemies.

There are many questions still reeling around and it is not even certain that the House will pass the bill although many of then to be leaning towards passing the bill. This protectionist attitude seems fairly new, but the Senate has been trying to pass similar bills since 2003. Puts a new spin on "the land of the free."

Bonds Unite Us in Trust: So Long as We Let Them

This quote is from an article that emphasizes the impacts of current bankruptcy filings may decrease consumer and investor confidence, and acknowledging all sorts of factors that helped or not helped the failing businesses cope.

"In fact, predicting a bankruptcy wave at all is a tricky task, experts say. It could depend on several unknowns: how much money banks and other institutions are willing to lend troubled companies, whether the economy lands in a double-dip recession and what happens in the European debt crisis.
The sovereign debt crisis in Europe could be the most important X factor. Even the experts who say that a bankruptcy crisis is not coming because current low interest rates make it easy for companies to get cash to finance their way out of trouble, say that the euro zone's problems could trigger defaults here. "It is possible that one or two sovereign debt defaults would increase the pressure we'd feel in the US credit market. Then we might see an environment like we had in 2008," said Peter Fitzsimmons, president for North America for turnaround advisory firm AlixPartners LLP.
Chapter 11 filings are picking up, bankruptcy data show. Ten companies with at least $100 million in assets filed for bankruptcy in September, the most since 17 filed in April, which was the busiest month since 2009, according to"

Another point the article makes is that lenders have shown uncertainty towards lending to troubled companies, and such discernment has been one of the factors towards the increasing numerous bankruptcy filings. It is quite a plausible reason to be sure, but there are rarely such absolutes when it comes to causes to events.

However, another article that does not undermine our situation of numerous bankruptcy filings at all but does seem to present a viable option for investors that may be available in Great Britain, to gain a larger yield than the banks in America. This quote sums it up:

"Foreign banks are tapping investor demand by selling top-rated bonds with yields over benchmarks that are as much as eight times wider than those on US deals. The amount of outstanding bonds packaging US assets such as credit-card bills, auto leases and student loans fell 9 per cent to $1.85 trillion in the first nine months of this year, according to the Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association, or Sifma."

Although, this relatively new development does not change the fact that most of the European countries do have a problem with the euro system that may have recurring effects on the U.S. sooner or later, as in agreement with another point that the first article I have cited makes. In related news, this other article by that describes the U.S. 's frustration (as well as the Anglo-Saxon states and India) over possibly inadequate implementations of Europe's Grand Plan that seems, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, that

'They clearly have more work to do on strategy and details, ... In financial crises, it is more risky to act gradually and incrementally than to act with bold force.'

His proposal to "use the ECB as a guarantor of eurozone sovereign bonds was dismissed out of hand" according to diplomats. If I did not know much about this article's author, I would say that this article's evidence was subtly or borderline biased in favor of American nationalistic opinion and could allow for some more insight on the reasons the other foreign countries and dignitaries reacted the way they have done in terms of interests they have on hand.

Geithner, Great Britain's banks, and those discerning investors letting troubled businesses go all seem to have a common idea in mind: bonds are only credible if we let them be so. So there. I'd welcome anything that proves me wrong so long as it is the truth of the matter, as close as it gets without getting caught up in absolutes.

NASA Partners with Virgin Galactic

Ever since NASA's space shuttles were decommissioned we haven't had a way to get into space. There is the option of tagging a ride with the Russian space program and also buying flights on private companies. Well, it looks like NASA is doing the latter. On Thursday Virgin Galactic announced a contract with NASA to shuttle equipment and people up into space. The flight will launch out of New Mexico from Spaceport America with upwards of 1,300 pounds of science equipment.
For those of you that don't know, Virgin Galactic is a commercial space charter. It hopes to launch its first flight into space within a year. Anyone who has $200,000 to spend frivolously can buy a ticket into space and orbit Earth.
I think it was smart of NASA to partner up with Virgin. It's a good way to get around their predicament. Hopefully we can build some new shuttles soon so that this doesn't go on forever though.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Could the 99% Movement Backfire?

Being a part of the 99% the Occupy Wall Street (and other parts of the world) protestors are protesting for, I have say that I agree with them. The majority of people need equality politically, economically, and socially. I feel that these protestors are bringing a lot of attention to the injustices facing the people of the world and I hope that governments see this and take action. However, I do have fears with the protests occurring. A few of the things going on in the protest could be manipulated to the conservatives advantage. For one thing, some protestors are calling for the abolition of the capitalism. This could be turned around and used to frame protestors (and by extension liberals) as socialists. This could cause some people to back away from supporting any legislation that arises from these protest. Also, I came across a disturbing video (below). One of the protestors in Occupy L.A. had extremely anti-Semitic beliefs. Like the call for the end of capitalism that some protestors were urging, this could be used in a negative way.
All in all, I hope that something good can come from the protests around the world. Hopefully enough people with good ideas drown out the few with not so good ones.

Tomorrow is Dedicated to Steve Jobs

This article by KTLA news features the background of Jobs and announces that Governor Jerry Brown has declared the 16th of October "Steve Jobs Day".

In his declaration, he claimed that "Jobs embodied the California dream". One can interpret this with skepticism like thinking this is another public-pleasing promotion especially since he limited his word choice to just "California" so perhaps a little political advertisement. A practically cynical statement, but that is what politics may succumb people to do. One can also interpret this with a grateful approach that this man is honored so much to have a day named after him by a Governor of California. Perhaps a solemn majority of people think this way, and that is an equally valid response as any.

Here, the many VIPs, including celebrities, CEOs, and world leaders react to the death of Jobs, under another article by KTLA news.

From what I know of the man of the day myself, I have based on this video of his Stanford 2005 Commencement speech in the apparently hot, sunny outdoors. My English teacher pointed this out to us in class for his plausible points that probably allude to our unit of existentialism. I admit, it was compelling and vivid but I was at very varying degrees of interest to how his morals are so generalized upon society and how many of his ideals actually apply to society or have become trends. Of course, all opinions are open here over a deceased person or otherwise living, polite dissenters should say why the dissent is made.

Worldwide Rally for Change

Today, tens of thousands all over the globe joined in the Occupy protests, rallying against corruption, poverty, corporate domination, government inaction, among numerous other issues.

While most protests were quite peaceful, the one in Rome got violent. An anarchist group self-dubbed as the "Black Bloc", donning ski masks, were particularly violent. They torched nearby cars, threw objects at people, shattered windows, and clashed with the police. A total of seventy people were injured (40 of whom are policemen). Of these cases, two men lost their hands due to car explosions. United for Global Change, the main organization behind these protests, said that 951 countries in 82 different countries took part in demonstrations, impelled by the recent OWS protests.

I really hope the worldwide cry for change will motivate governments or corporations to do something about the ever-growing social and economic inequalities, corporate greed, corruption in government, and other similar issues. It's really time for some changes to be made around here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bright Future for Solar Panels?

We've all heard about the Solyndra fiasco, but solar panels seem to be the next big thing in renewable resources. We even spent a whole hour hearing about the wonderful new solar panels at Aragon.

Despite the obviously clean energy behind them, solar panels are still fairly cumbersome to use and install. They require lots of space, access to sunlight for a good period of time and expensive metals such as gallium arsenide. As a private source of energy for a large company with its own buildings, solar panels seem to be the way to go, but with the large space requirement, could they really be efficiently used as a main power source for a city?

Here's another website claiming that the cost of solar panels will decrease, but until they do, the demand curve dictates that only a few people will have access to them.

One last thought, people are excited because solar panels have a 14% efficiency. Is that really all that great? According to the World Coal Organization, the average efficiency is twice that amount where the most efficient plants are a little over three times as efficient. With our growing population, is it really necessary to use solar power for public use versus coal or some other renewable resource?

Pointing Fingers Will Just Poke Eyes, an Eye for an Eye Will Make the World Go Blind

This is an interesting insight into the "real" culprits of the current economic supposed downturn: so-called by the author of this post as "accounting parasites".

The author is notably a progressive-liberal and probably in other associations as well to keep in mind how he has simplified the political opinion for how the economy turned out not in the public's favor, and also simplified the general focus of American corporate accountants. I may not be in a position to say this, as he was a former executive founder of Cisco, but the evidence of hindsight on the part of Dell's people was probably not entirely on their liability of being accountants. Such underlying factors of their decision to let their supplier manufacture more of their own product could be the heirarchy of the management, or the dissenters were out-numbered or other debilitating reasons.

I acknowledge the possibility that his intentions to simplify political debate about the implied economic decline and to simplify the objective of many American corporate accountants may be to shorten such points because the dissenters of such opinions may not be significant enough to make a difference. However, in reality out of theory those accountants who are exceptions to his opinions do in fact make so much difference that his rationale of replacing those inhumane accountants be replaced with humanitarian ones may in fact be hard to pinpoint the actual "parasite" or "parasites".

This is the article source explaining his views and his reasonable equivalent of financial world peace:

Although, it is quite true that the ambition of profitability may overtake certain risks to the public, their workers or themselves in order to acquire short-term profit, this may not be valid for all businesses, but for the most part may be unavoidable. I can see where he is going with all the prideful adjustments companies have made in the name of profit, but accountants have been at this probably for ages and the downfall and inflation and debt can not be pinned down as all their faults. Can it? Probably not, but if so, we might as well point at fingers at the world for being sick, thus doing us all no good until the corrupt ones can be replaced by the responsible people who suddenly show up (whoever those are) and prove the ones pointing fingers right.

Let Women Die... I mean Protect Life!

On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed HB 358, or the "Protect Life Act (also known as the "Let Woman Die" bill), with a vote of 251-170. The bill, which will now move to the Senate, allows hospitals that receive federal funding to turn away women seeking an abortion, even if it would save their lives. The bill also doesn't allow federal funding to go to health care plans that cover abortions. This could cause insurance companies to stop covering abortions in order to receive that money, meaning women would have to pay for the procedure out of their own pocket.

Republicans are the main supporters of the bill, saying that it will save the federal government money, and thus the taxpayers. However Democrat counter saying that current laws already "bar any taxpayer money from underwriting abortion procedures." Democrats argue that the law takes rights away from women and Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) says that Republicans are "absolutely misogynists" for even submitting the bill.

Perhaps my favorite comment is by the North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx (R). Foxx says that the those that are pro-choice are the true misogynists because "fifty percent of the unborn babies being aborted are females." I agree that 50% of babies being aborted are female, after all there is a 50% chance of a child being born female! However I don't agree with the misogynist point. How is misogynistic for women to have the right to chose what happen in their bodies? Also, what happens if the child is male? Is it no longer misogynistic to Foxx?

I absolutely don't agree with the bill. Women are responsible for their bodies and the federal government cannot restrict that. Hopefully the Senate won't pass this bill, and if they do, hopefully Obama will veto it.

Breakthrough in Stem Cell Research

Last week, a group of researchers at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory developed a method to derive embryonic stem (ES) cells from adult cells. They have created the first ever personalized human ES cell.

Historically, embryonic stems cells are made by injecting the nucleus of a person's adult cell into an enucleated and unfertalized human egg (oocyte). This method, which is essentially cloning, was not very efficient because each patient would require up to a few hundred oocytes for just a small amount successfully extracted ES cells. The most recent advancement was in 2007 when a method was developed that could essentially avoid using oocytes. By injecting special protein factors into an adult cells, these adult cells would eventually revert it back to its embryonic state - at which point ES cells can be extracted (these are called induced pluripotent stem - aka iPS - cells).

This newly discovered method involves keeping the original oocyte nucleus while also injecting another adult nucleus. These oocytes with the two nuclei are much more successful in growth and development; in fact, most have grown into their blastocyst stage (when ES cells are harvested). This new discovery is only relevant for research and not for therapeutic purposes for they have an abnormal number of genomes for proper development.

Personally I think it's a great achievement. When I was interning at a stem cell institute this past summer, I learned cloning and extracting ES cells. It's quite a profound and exciting process. I wish more research would be allowed so this field can really thrive. However, because of the issues concerning illegal sales of oocytes and other ethical dilemmas, the controversies has really stumped growth in certain areas of regenerative medicine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Republicans Running For President In Good Faith

If a president categorizes himself in a certain affiliation of faith, that is all well and good as long as it does not come in bias with policymaking that has dangerous backlashing consequences.
Seeing oneself as ordained by God is quite another matter, it feels reminiscent of "divine right"; however, democracy has become the happy limit of that absolute power. At least some of the more self-righteous presidents never came to including "divine right" in his agenda in order to have the public bow down or anything similar. I do hope that the "message" the candidates have believed was from God to run for president was just an allusion to it in expressing a metaphor for wanting "peace on earth" during their presidency. A vain hope? Probably, yet I want things to get better like everyone else who cares about the presidency. If there is no hope, well this post sums it up:
It would be a more rational thought to gently put their religious affiliation in the presidential statistics into the election and not bring it out to the media to allow them to push for such religious fervor into voters' decisions. But then again, this is hardly original but unnecessary in the ideal world of voting in general. Is there not to be a separation of religion and state?
I acknowledge I may have not been the first one to ask this question nor will be the last, but the country will more or less not let any dividing comments between candidates concerning religion slide. In that case, I think it is important to recognize that a substantial amount of voters are frustrated with the way the candidates are handling themselves and do not attempt to make any excuses for any sign of any candidate wholeheartily blaming or basing their campaign upon someone else, even if it is God.
I also acknowledge that not all voters are completely swayed by religious hype that the media has exaggerated or emphasized. For such situations, I think the best route would be exhibited in this particular post by a writer from The Corner
Although, it may not be just be the media and probably the candidates' own campaigns are behind such claims of God's choice on their run for the presidency. It is even stated here that in an interview with the candidate Rick Perry's wife, Anita Perry, she says "So much of [the Perry campaign's defensiveness] is, I think they look at him, because of his faith", but of course this would clash with the other Republican candidates who think they are called to the presidency running because of God, as addressed and taken out of the context of this post by the Washington Post:

Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Upon reading this post, I immediately thought of the Pot Republic video. In the video, the sheriff of Mendocino county received a letter from the federal government that told him that he needed to halt his program for legal marijuana growers. This was definitely not a coincidence with next year's election coming up. Currently U.S. Attorneys are cracking down on medical marijuana advertisement in newspapers, radio commercials and other forms of medias in California. This seems to be very suspicious. It seems to me that the federal government is trying to show that the Obama administration is not going to tolerate the medical marijuana business only a year before the 2012 election. Personally, I think that they are trying to gain support for Obama's reelection. They never really enforced the law when Obama first came into office, so by enforcing it now they can look like they really care.
What was really interesting is that the federal government doesn't regulate advertisement of pharmaceutical drugs so strictly. Medical marijuana is a "pharmaceutical drug" since it is used to treat glaucoma and other diseases. Though medical marijuana is legal in California, it is illegal under the Federal government. This brings up the idea of federal supremacy. The federal government's laws will always trump those of the states. I guess we will have to see until after the election if the crackdown continues or lets up.

Skepticism Arises Regarding Alleged Iran Plot

There are quite a few issues brought up today that causes skepticism about the Iran conspiracy plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US and bombings.

Ambassador Adel Jubeir
First, there is no clear, reasonable rationale. Iran is a country on their way to the brink. Countless economic sanctions and other isolation measures have been pushing Iran to the sidelines of the international arena. It's unlikely that they are going to risk further damage on their economy and international status by planning a sloppy assassination plot against Adel Jubeir on US soil, angering both the US and Saudi Arabia - obviously two very influential countries.

Second, there is no precedent and this plot is very inconsistent with known previous Iranian procedures. Iran has never been linked to an assassination plot or attack against anyone on US soil. Sure they have been accused of attack plots, but they have never been publicly found guilty of any sort of conspiracy on US soil (most likely because they are probably always extra covert and the people will undoubtedly go through tremendous lengths to cover up their tracks). With that said, I think it's very unlikely that they hired an average Iranian-American and administered only one proxy (the Mexican drug cartel) - a non-Muslim one at that - for such an amateurishly-schemed plot.

Attorney General Holder
Third, Saudi is not Iran's number one enemy. Iran has many more intense conflicts with its neighboring Afghanistan, Iraq and also Bahrain. There isn't a real incentive here. It's true that Iran has ongoing tension with Saudi Arabia. However, an assassination of a Saudi official will only nudge other countries to support Saudi and condemn Iran. I doubt they would really make a decision as stupid as this.

Fourth, the alleged plot is inconstant and has too many loose ends. Nobody is certain on the allegations. Even Attorney General Eric Holder commented that the US government cannot yet firmly accuse the Iranian government of any knowledge on this alleged plot due to a lack of evidence. [Source] Moreover, others have commented that this situation seems like a decoy and distraction away from AG Holder's role and involvement in the notorious "Operation Fast and Furious".

Why would Iran risk so much in a plot that has a slim chance of success? Smells fishy...

The bottom line: is this a real threat or, according to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, just a distraction our government threw our way?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Droning on about Drones

Earlier this week, a main force in the al Qaida movement, Anwar al-Awlaki was killed as the result of a drone (here and here). The drone was obviously effective and useful so what's the big deal?

First of all, Awlaki was an American citizen. That in itself is a big deal and for the U.S. to kill a citizen without due process is shocking. However, this has been defended by using a quote from Lincoln: "the U.S. could 'treat its own citizens as enemies when they take up arms in rebellion.'"

For a couple of years now, drone warfare has been a topic of debate. Mainly, the legality of it. Should the U.S. continue to use drones even though the UNHRC has said that it needs to stop? The Obama administration continues to support drone warfare despite this. After all, drone warfare is considerably cheaper than sending in humans, and we have less causalities on our part.

I personally am against drone warfare as a little mistake in a calculation can lead the drone off target and kill innocent people. And, drones give the U.S. a considerable advantage and so if our enemy at the time decides to use it wouldn't it lead to another arms race and we'd experience MAD all over again? The main thing that concerns me is the large advantage that we have as a result. Wouldn't this advantage simply turn the U.S. into a killing machine because we can fairly accurately kill anyone we want at any time we want?

Some further reading here and here. Video below.

Free Trade

The new free-trade agreements passed by Congress on Oct. 13 are with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. This supposedly going to generate $13 billion from exports (Yay for money!).

However, as I believe most people have seen the movie "Roger and Me," free trade definitely comes with some losses. So do you think the potential risks worthy these gains? The Democrats seem to think that Congress should not open up the free trade while Republicans are obviously on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Here's an informative, albeit long, video that explains trade quite well, but for specific information on free trade skip to the 5 minute mark. I recommend that you watch the whole thing as it is a fairly extensive topic but the video is easy to understand (also helped by the accents of the narrator and the scholars).

One little tidbit that I found particularly interesting was from Los Angeles Times, that "Though Americans generally indicate they support trade, many blame free-trade agreements for the continued decline of U.S. manufacturing and halting progress on environmental and human rights goals, polls show." I don't know about you, but it seems very American-esque to want all the benefits and none of the side-effects. Sure there will be structural unemployment from outsourcing, but think about all of the positive benefits as well. What do you think? Should we continue with free trade agreements?

"Inside the Fed Fight Over Bond Buys"

The article contained a summary of the minutes from the Sept. 20-21 meeting of the policymaking Federal Open Market committee, in which some federal officials often expressed dissent in some of the proposals made for the future.
In light of the substantial plan the committee made to "shift the Fed's $2.65 trillion portfolio of securities toward longer-term securities and more mortgage debt than previously planned", I mostly agree with the fact that it could help in the long-term due to a possible decrease in interest rates. The supporters of the plan probably have the debtors' interest in mind since they might think the debtors would be more open to spending if they know that they are given more time for the bonds to reach maturity and the banks may have more breathing room to lend money. The problem is the plan keeps most of the money out of circulation and reducing the value of the dollar may cause higher inflation, as the article addresses. This may be a bigger risk than the benefit of lowering the export expense rate because the real GDP does not account for that difference. If people keep on relying on the real GDP as the final absolute value that weighs the economy's statistics, then the benefit of lowering the export expense may not be a factor in increasing spending or investing. Of course, the pros and cons are up for debate, though the only real say we have in making their decisions is what they anticipate the public's general strategies are in response to each policy due to the public's past actions.
These are the actual minutes of the FOMC's meeting in September, released this past Wednesday:
As the minutes showed, the summary states that dissent of putting the plan into action was not necessarily by opponents but rather differentiated by different reasons that amounted to the idea that the plan should be a back-up but for these different situations: "in the event that further policy action to support a stronger economic recovery was warranted" and "if a Japan-style deflation - marked by falling consumer prices and economic stagnation - threatened to take hold".
Well, supposedly vague and insecure statements are expected though many people may not think so and send such minutes possibly under the impression of being neutral yet these cautions are important for considering serious short-term repercussions.

Tired of Being Humane?

Florida state Representative Brad Drake (R) is "tired of being humane." Drake is upset that the execution of Manuel Valle in August took so long. Valle, 61, was sentenced to death 33 years ago for gunning down a police officer. Drake wants the justice system to be more efficient in executions of death row inmates. To do this, Drake has filed a bill in the House of Representatives to allow executions by the electric chair or firing squad in Florida. HB 325 would remove lethal injection as an option for an execution.

Drake's opinion is that electrocution or firing squads would speed up the process of execution so that inmates wouldn't have to wait 33 years like Valle. He has said that he's "sick and tired of this sensitivity movement for criminals," and "In the words of Humphrey Bogart, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.' I am so tired of being humane to inhumane people." Many states see that death by electrocution and firing squads are inhumane and thus don't utilize it. Some states like Colorado only allow lethal injection as a method of execution. Currently, California uses lethal injection, but allows lethal gas if the inmate requests.

Drake forgets that death row inmates are still human. Though they may have committed unspeakable and atrocious crimes, they still have some rights. According to the eighth amendment, the government cannot use cruel and unusual punishment on criminal. To me, electrocution and firing squad are both cruel and unusual. In the past people have not died from the first round of electrocution, and firing squads have missed and not killed their targets. Inmates are then left to suffer until the final blow is delivered. I hope that HB 325 never makes it out of committee, because this shouldn't even be considered for a law at all.

Iran Plot - A "Dangerous Escalation"

The US's accusation that Iran is allegedly planning to assassinate Saudi's ambassador to the US in Washington DC is starting to unfold.

Last night, it was announced that the US has unearthed a plot by Iranians to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, Adel Al-Jubeir. Two men who are allegedly connected to the case (one of whom is a member of the Quds force, an Iranian special foreign actions unit) were charged in a federal court in New York for conspiring both the assassination and bombing of Israli and Saudi embassies. One of the men, Arbabsiar (left), is an Iranian-American living in Texas. He had traveled to Mexico recently, where he hired a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate Al-Jubeir at the ambassador's favorite DC restaurant. The US has also placed sanctions on five more men who are thought to be overseeing the conduction of the alleged plot.

Top officials condemned Iran and threatens to increase efforts in further isolating the nation (with more trade sanctions and what not). WH press secretary Jay Carney said last night that the US will work bilaterally with other nations and the UN to further our preexisting policy of isolating Iran.

In response to the US sanctions and accusations, the Iran ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, said in a letter to the UN SG Ban Ki Moon that the Iran "seeks a world free from terrorism and considers the current US warmongerings and propaganda machine against Iran as a threat not just against itself but to the peace and stability in the Persian Gulf region".

While it's important to ensure the safety the diplomats who are essentially the face and embodiment of the relationship between two nations, we have to consider whether or not we can actually deal with this situation. If we do anything beyond placing more economic sanctions, will we be able to handle it? Do we really want to bite off more than we can chew? Our involvement in the Middle East is already extremely complicated and intense; do we want to augment that?

Further info:
[x] Opinion column on CNN with more Iran-American relations background information
[x] US Attorney General Eric Holder's statement
[x] Details about the assassination & bombing plot

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street shifts from protest to policy phase"

The protest is beginning to take on significant momentum and the article addresses the "actual" concerns pushing it forward.

The article covers the general history of "grass-roots organizations" progress in general and "the establishment" "casually dismiss[es] [protestors] as hippies or rabble". Who is to say that has not been true? Although, I agree that "the establishment" gives off signs when it is scared by posing the protestors under derogatory names. It deliberately expresses an idea that people are either separated by or united under self-interest, and inequality, which is reasonable enough. This doesn't mean that this is the only idea out there that causes these protests, but it is an effervescent one.

In the article, it is stated that "the protesters are considerably more focused than their critics acknowledge" because of the evidence shown that the banks have returned to patterns that people are convinced were at the heart of the crash of 2008. That may be so due to the actual organizations and labor unions that led their members to join the protest in order to gather extra incentives for the public to become involved with policymaking. If these numbers of inequality between the top 1% of society and everyone else are wrong or exaggerated up, the protestors may be inspired for the wrong reasons. However, there is a long list of things to put into policy and therefore, to be protestable about so the protest could still live and be beneficial in another broader way.

Speaking of organizations for change in general, an honorable mention would be the Tea Party, which has distinguished itself from the Occupy Wall Street protest http://,0,4839479.story.

In the article addressing the shifts to policy from protest, the author really just acknowledges the strategic movements that the Occupy Wall Street protest that give it the potential to become a movement. The only significance that I see from this statement is that the protest has become nationally spread. A possible cause of such understandable, insecure frustrations with the economy being included as an underlying factor in the protest may probably be the policy shifts coming from policymakers. As well as the ideals of the movement itself, I can see it is legitimately relevant as far as the publicity of the protestors show the nation what the protest really wants to support. Of course, the organizational aspect will somehow have a creative output to what the supposedly up and coming movement will focus on in the policy they will suggest to government. I agree that the "maybe"s of the future of the protest are too subtle at this stage, but I also admit that the transition will be quite interesting since the ideals are appealing and impacting nationwide to densely populated places where people could afford to protest.

The Republican Debate Over the Economy (with a Romney focus)

This debate took place today at Dartmouth College and it ended up focusing on the economy.

Mitt Romney defended his health care plan in MA (although, true to his party, he opted for bailouts to Wall Street), but mainly, it was all about his image. One thing that I find hilarious is that instead of "repeatedly tangl[ing]" with Perry, he simply ignored him. Does anyone else have flashbacks to the third grade? However, he made a good choice by questioning Bachmann as we all know how important the facts are to her. This will make him look good in the long run if he is compared to her.

However, he is going back on his experience as governor and is not going to close tax loop holes as he didn't want to compromise defense spending. I personally am shocked. I mean, what American doesn't want to see everyone given a fair chance? Should we allow people to get ahead by exploiting loop holes?

Honestly, despite all of the criticism, I think that Romney is currently he best choice for the Republican candidate. Not only could he hold a candle to Obama, he is probably going to be fairly moderate if he gets into office. I feel that right now, he is simply trying to seem very Republican to get the party nomination, but once he gets past that I think it'll be a hard decision between Obama and Romney. I don't think that Perry will make it because as he said, '“Mitt’s had six years to be working on a plan. I’ve been in this about eight weeks.”' (By the way, Romney's plan supposedly has 59 points and at least 49 pages.) Thoughts?

Here's a video of Romney responding to a question from Newt Gringrich. He (Romney) seems very patriotic and to be catering to the middle class (whatever that is).

Jobs Act Failed in the Senate

According to the article, consideration for the Jobs Bill was blocked as it simply did not have ten additional votes. Now with the Democrats left to scramble and pick up pieces here and there, what will happen next.

Honestly, I was shocked by the reaction. Most everyone though that at least the Bill would be considered and at least part of it would be passed under the title of the Jobs Act. (Here's another source: I honestly did not think that the entire thing would get passed due to its hefty price tag of $447 billion dollars.

What do you think should happen next? And how should the Democrats save face?

"Jerry Brown Lets Police Rummage Suspects' Moblie Phones Without a Warrant"

Recently Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before searching cell phones of those arrested. The state Assembly passed the bill, but Brown defended himself saying "the courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections." The bill was originally proposed after the California Supreme Court case People v. Diaz, in which Gregory Diaz was arrested for drug possession and his phone was searched just 90 minutes after his arrest. The courts upheld this allowing it to be okay.
Brown's decision brings up the constitutionality, specifically about the fourth amendment, of these searches. I do not agree with Brown's decision. Cell phones are property like houses and should need a search warrant to be searched. I also do not understand Brown's defense. Yes, courts, not him, are better suited to resolve the issues on specific cases, but now that warrants aren't needed by law enforcement, how will courts be involved? Though I disagree with Brown, I do understand some of his points of view. If a person has already been arrested, it is because of probable cause, so it should be allowed to search their belongings on them at the time of the arrest. This could include their cell phone. What do you think? Is this or isn't this an infringement on the fourth amendment?

China Currency Bill Passes in Senate

The US Senate passed a bipartisan bill today (63-35) targeting China's alleged manipulation of its currency. This bill is aimed to impose tariffs on imports from countries whose currency is found to be "fundamentally misaligned" (in other words, undervalued). In detail, this bill will also disallow the purchase of goods or services by the federal government from these countries, and prevent the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (the US trade promotion agency) from investing in that nation.

Not all politicians are on the same page.

Speaker of the House John Boehner commented that the bill seems "dangerous" and will probably not pass in the Republican-controlled House. President Obama, on the other hand, is rather ambiguous and has yet to take a firm stance on either side. However, he warned last week that he does not want to pass a bill that is inconsistent with international trade rules and will likely be rejected by the WTO.

China's Vice Foreign Trade Minister, Cui Tiankai, has warned that if this proposed measure is made into law, "the result would be a trade war... [and] it would be detrimental to the development of economic ties and might have an adverse impact on bilateral relations".

Personally, I found quite a few problems with this bill.

First, I think this bill is far too risky. If dramatic trade tensions arises with our second largest trading partner (Canada is first), it would shatter and set back our already fragile recovery from the last dip.

Second, how are we to determine which countries have undervalued currencies? If we come up with some unbalanced model that mainly targets China, China will obviously take offense and aggressively retaliate with their own measures (similar to the previously mentioned issue). Keep in mind that China holds around $900 billion in US treasury securities and that the US owes China a hundred billion dollars in trade debt.

Lastly, will this help out average American citizens? Sure, the passage of this bill will dramatically decrease the US trade deficit to China. But at the same time, tariffs will jack up the price of the infamously low-priced "Made-in-China" products. The average American will be the ones to, once again, take on the burden.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Who is Hermain Cain?

Lately, Herman Cain has become one of the front runners in the Republican candidacy race, taking first place in the Florida straw poll and among the top candidates in other popularity polls, but who is Cain and what does he represent as a person and a possible leader of our country? Well, honestly speaking, he is a complete quack. He has close to no experience in political matters or does he seem to know much about the government that he is trying to get elected as the head of. I quote from his website, "Government spending IS taxation." Actually Mr. Cain, taxation is government's form of income, which in the long run turns into spending, but not the other way around. His whole economic plan is based on giving benefits to the wealthy and not much else. He constantly goes around promoting his "9-9-9 plan," (the name of his economic plan, short for 9% business flat tax rate, 9% individual flat tax rate, and 9% national sales tax) but offers very little else.

So how did Cain get this far? Well honestly, your guess is as good as mine. I suppose that Cain's touching background could have something to do with it or maybe he is just sideshow for the other candidates, but if that's the case, then, stated by Matthew Yglesias, "if we need a sideshow to the Perry-Romney race, can’t we just go back to Michele Bachmann?"

California's Dream Act

Governor Jerry Brown Saturday signed the California Dream Act in law. This law will allow undocumented students to apply for publicly funded finanical aid for college. It will come into place in 2013, allowing them to recieve Cal Grants and other aid. It would most likely be around 2500 students who apply for it around 1% of the amount of money of the Cal Grant (about 14.5 million dollars of the 145 million dollars). There was a simular proposal in Congress last year that failed to pass. The California Dream Act will go along with a law passed in July that allowed undocumented students to apply for finanical aid from private funds. California was one of the first states to allow undocumented students to go to state schools with resident tuiton with certain circumstances.

Is this constitutional? If the United States Congress did not pass the Dream Act on a national level, Is it possible for a state to pass a simular law? Education is a duty of the state so the state should be able to decide who gets aid from the state for their university. If they are allowed to enter the schools as residents, then they should be able to get aid like other residents.

Speak No Evil

Last Wednesday, Sarah Palin officially dropped out of the Republican candidacy race, which is a tad bit confusing, since she wasn't officially in the race to begin with, even though she kind of was. Palin had not officially declared her candidacy, which eliminated her from any debates and straw polls, but did not stop her from essentially stalking and stealing publicity from the other candidates. In most of the previous straw polls and other major Republican events, Palin happened to coincidentally be in the same area at the same time, but now that she has dropped out, she claims to, instead of stealing the spot light, want to use “all the tools at [her] disposal to get the right people in [to the White House] who have a servant’s heart.”

It is very curious to see Palin take the back seat for once and decide to support others, rather than being the center of attention, and I am not sure how this situation will work out for the other candidates. Palin does have her followers that will jump on the bandwagon of the chosen one, but there's also her notoriety that might scare potential voters away. Will whoever Palin thinks has a "servant's heart" benefit from her backing? Or will her name chained to the chosen candidate's ultimately sink him or her in the end?

New Unemployement Stats

On Friday, the United States' Bureau of Labor Statistics released the newest stats on Unemployement which remained constant at 9.3% despite the addition of 103000 jobs. The number of people unemployed is around 14 million people. One reason for the gains in jobsis a strike with telecommuncion that went on during August. The job gains were in professional and business services, health care and construction. Teenagers have the highest percent unemployed at 24.6%. The percent of adult men and women are pretty close at 8.1% and 8.8% respectively. The GDP may be growing but companies have yet to start to hiring with a fear about the economy still lingering. With Europe's economic problems in Greece and many other failing countries, America is scared that it will affect our economy and cause a second recession to strike. Unemployment is also a lagging indicator that tends to not go down until the recession is completely over. America needs something to get more jobs as these stats show. But What?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Tense Relationship

The United States and China have had a tense relationship for years. The Senate recently passed a bill that would penalize countries that manipulate currencies. The Yuan has been manipulated for years by the Chinese Government. It would make the United States levy taxes and other penalties aganist China. The Government is now focusing on China because lawmakers are worried about the United States' economy and the role in the elections. This is a major issue for manufactoring states that would be helped by the stopping of the manipulaction of the Yuan because they could sell more products. I think that it is not fair to the United States that China's munipulation of the yuan affects United States manufactoring and our imports. The yuan should not be manipulated.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Romney: Too Moderate for the Republicans?

Mitt Romney is a frontrunner in the Republican primary but some critics find him to moderate for the party. As the Governor of Massachuetts, Romney had to be moderate in order to be elected because it is a fairly liberal state. With the Republican Party on the right with other frontrunners hard core right winger Rick Perry and big business person Herman Cain, Romney's past is a downfall. While Governor of Massachuetts, Romney supported a health care bill that passed during his term and abortion. Now, he believes that the United States Health Care Bill is socialist and should be overturned and also is pro-life. Another issue which he is considered too moderate is his view on the environment. As Governor, he hired one of the most prominent environmental activist as an advisor and helped him draft climate change legislations and regulations for coal burning plants. Perry says that Massachuetts was the first state to have a cap-and-trade act. Romney now as a canidadate wants to amend the Clean Air Act to not include carbon dioxide from regulatory purview and use United States energy reserves for more development. Also, Romney says that he does not believe in human caused climate change but during his governorship he did.

Romney has gained some support after Chris Christie announced that he would not run for the Republican nomination. Many of Christie's donors are now giving to

Info: Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Tax on the Wealthy

Today, Senator Harry Reid announced a revised version of the Jobs Bill that is contrast to what the Republicans, who do not want any tax rate increase at all, desire and get some of the Democrats, who opposse the Jobs Bill proposed by Obama. The biggest aspect of the revision is the 5% surtax for those who make more than a million a year. This surtax is expected to get the $445 billion dollars needed for the Jobs Bill in 10 years.

It is highly unlikely that this bill will pass the Congress. Reid conceded to make the surtax be 5.6% and take into effect in 2013, instead of 2012.

This bill is likely to be filibuster. Something needs to be done. The jobs are needed. The tax would help with this. The tax will only effect 330000 households in the United States which really is not that many people considering that the United States has over 300 million people here. It is only affects those who make a million dollars a year which is a large salary.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What do New Trade Agreements Mean?

The United States sent new trade agreements to South Korea, Columbia, and Panama. This may be one time that the Democrats and Republicans may agree. The Republicans led by Boehner said that passing the agreements "a top priority for the House". The Democrats are willing to pass the agreements because it will be a much needed victory for Obama.

The largest union in the United States, AFL-CIO, disagrees with the three labor agreements and is holding a protest at the Capitol in Washington DC on Tuesday. Some of the Democrats are aganist this bill but that will not hold up the trade argeements.

These argeements will help both the US carmakers and agricultural exports, but damage the textiles, electronics, and computer makers. They want the trade agreements to be signed on October 13 in connection with the visit of the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.

The New IPhone

Today, the IPhone 4S was announced to much excitment and anticipation. This is the first new phone from Apple in a year and a half. The IPhone has dominated the phone market since 2007. Every phone provider is vying for the access to the phone. They are even willing to sell the phone at a loss. Sprint will sell the new version of the phone at a major loss to them, but if they did not do that they would continue to lose customers. The main reason why Sprint loses customers is because of the IPhone. This is the first time that all three major cell companies, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, have the IPhone which means that they all have the opportunity to compete, leading to more competition. This is good for consumers and for Apple, but will be bad for the profits of the cell phone providers. The IPhone is part of an monopolistic competition which has been very good for the profits of Apple. Although, the Google Android platform is rapidly gaining speed against the IPhone. The IPhone still sets the standard for the Phone industry with their new innovation and different styles.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Protest againist Wall Street

For the past three weeks, a group called Occupy Wall Street has been protesting in New York City. They are protesting againist corruption and greed that has plauged Wall Street and is what many believe caused the recession. The group has said that they represent 99% of the population of the United States againist the richest 1% of the population. To add onto what Lexi said about the protest, the protesters marched in Saturday, October 1, halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge before the police arrested 700 people. The protesters are accusing the police of allowing the protester to enter the bridge before trapping them and arresting them. As of this morning, there are simular protests starting in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. Will this lead to the kind of change that was seen during the Arab Spring or is it just a bunch of people craving the media attention? I think that it is a bit of both. They desire legitimate changes, like stopping corruption on Wall Street. I think there should be better way to get this desire accomplished but with the government not functioning effectively because of the partionship, there really is no other choice.

Obama's Jobs Act, Is It Worth It

"The American tax payer will have to pay 200,000$ per job." Where will the money come from? Is this a long term solution? What will the jobs be doing? For instance, the US Postal Service I think is over staffed. With less mail they should be retasked to do other jobs that help the economy instead of just sitting in the post office with those frowns on their faces. Also Timothy Geitner answers the question "is it worth it" with "consider the alternative". As I said earlier, the government needs to stop passing and attempting to pass broken bills that seem to be the best of a bunch of bad bills. Also, the video in the link :
goes over how our state outsourced anyways, even after Obama said everything possible
should be "made in America". They should start with that all government parts have
to use only American parts unless shown that they need to outsource.