Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage Approval Hits a New High

Today's SF Chronicle newspaper featured a similarly title article on the front page! By bringing the issue to the front page, more exposure is given to a very controversial topic, which could help further the approval rating. While the most current poll shows that only 59 percent of California’s voters approve of same-sex marriage, that figure is up significantly from previous polls.

As you may recall Prop 8 was approved in 2008, making it illegal for gays and lesbians to get married. Thus, since 2008 more than a 10 percent swing in approval of gay marriage has occurred, giving renewed hope to those in favor of same-sex marriage. The biggest shock to me was that the swing came in large part from Catholics, Latinos and older voters. These three voting groups have historically been the strongest opponents to same-sex marriage. Does the increase in approval among these opponents represent a legitimate chance for the same-sex marriage community, or this still too small an increase to bring about actual change?

Putin sure of victory but worried about violence

In the days leading up to Russia's presidential election, presidential candidate Vladimir Putin cautioned that the opposition parties could purposefully provoke violence after he wins the election. While warning members of the All-Russian People's Front, a political group he created, Mr. Putin stated that his political opponents would try to frame him for electoral fraud in order to "ruin his victory"

Mr. Putin is quoted as saying "'(t)hey really want any kind of skirmishes...I've known this method and tactic for 10 years, and how they try to apply it, especially abroad.'" Protest movement leaders are currently talking with Russian authorities to hold a demonstration against Putin a day after the elections. Sergei Udaltstov, head of the opposition group Left Front, said: "'If this is an attempt to compromise us it looks stupid because have not nor could we ever have such plans.'"
Lately, Mr. Putin has even criticized the U.S. for encouraging the protesters in Moscow. Mr. Putin is predicted to win with 63-66 per cent of all the votes.
What do you guys think? If Mr. Putin wins this election, he will have ruled Russia for a whopping 12 years with another 4 as prime minister. However, under Putin's rule so far, Russia's economy grew nine years in a row with GDP increasing by 72%. Poverty also decreased by more than half and the average monthly salary for a Russian rose from $80 to $640. If there are no signs of fraud and Putin really does have the support of 60% of the Russian population, should the opposition movement stop or should they continue to fight for more political freedom and choices in their government.

N. Korea to End Nuclear Tests for Food Aid

North Korea as agreed to temporarily stop “nuclear tests, long-range ballistic missile launches, and other nuclear activities, including enrichment of uranium”. This decision has come two months after the death of leader Kim Jong Il. Clinton commented on the matter and said “"On the occasion of Kim Jong Il's death, I said that it is our hope that the new leadership will choose to guide their nation on to the path to peace by living up to its obligations. Today's announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction". In addition to the stop of these activities, North Korea has agreed to let the United Nations into their plants along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to look and inspect their nuclear plants to monitor their activity.

Why has North Korea decided this? Because in return for stopping this activity in North Korea, the United States is going to help with 240,000 pounds of food. Floods and poor crop production last year has put North Korea in a sticky situation and has sadly caused widespread hunger.

Personally, I think this is a very good idea. For North Korea to take this step is huge for them. I think American helping North Korea with their hunger problem will also help strengthen the bond between the two countries.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pain at the pumps

Who is to blame for the suffering everyone is facing at the gas pumps? Some believe that the recovering economy has caused demand to rise faster than supply causing a spike in prices. However, the link imbedded in the title believes that over-speculation is to blame. The over-speculation comes in large part from the threat of Iran going to war. If this were to happen, a major source of the world's oil will be temporarily unavailable which would inevitably cause a drop in supply and a spike in prices. But is it right to charge the public for something that has not yet happened, or is it justifiable in order to prevent serious damage later? And how far can someone speculate? Another issue is the dropping power of our nation's currency. With all the drama about the Euro it is easy to overlook the power of our own currency. Over the past few years the purchasing power of the dollar has declined in comparison to other currencies and could be a major reason for the spike in gas prices. So what do you think has caused the rise in prices, and is there an end in sight?

Google and the EU clash

Google's new privacy policy has run into trouble with European regulators on account that it breaks European law. Even though it was asked to postpone it's March 1 installment of the policy, Google has not shown any interest in backing down. The new privacy policy makes it easier for Google to take information about one user from one of it's offered services and to take that information to mold other services. A downside to this is that it makes it easier for advertisers to target their messages with greater accuracy.

CNIL, a French data protection agency, warned Google by saying it was, "'deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services.'" It also concluded that the new policy, or approach,"'does not meet the requirements of the European directive on data protection, especially regarding the information provided to data subjects.'" Google believes it's new policy is fine and was confident that it doesn't break any data protection laws.

The warning has put a spotlight on this new and simple policy from Google and raises concerns about whether consumers will know how their personal data in the future will be used. Google responded to these worries by saying that it will still notify consumers on how it will use data. What do you guys think? Should the European regulators drops it's claims seeing how important this policy is to Google's business or should Google fix it?

Stop the Madness!

In Syria, more and more people are sadly dying. According to U.N. estimates, there are more than 7,500 men, woman, and children that had died so far this year. They say that this is on average 100 people a day. On Tuesday, there were 91 people that died including 3 woman and 2 children in Syria.

The LCC estimates that since March, when the government started the crackdown, over 9,000 people have been killed including 500 children, 2,493 civilians, and 1,345 soldiers / police (and the number is growing daily).

When I first read this article I could not believe how huge these numbers where. 9,000 people killed since March is astonishing. Although 9,000 is a number it seems even bigger when you think about how these are actually people. When one person dies the whole family goes through mourning. So just suppose each killing came from one family -- that is 9,000 family mourning. That's a crazy number! I just hope this killing can stop or at least slow down.

It should be noted that these deaths are not from hunger or illness but violent killing. "Lynn Pascoe, the U.N.'s undersecretary general for political affairs, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that Al-Assad's regime has 'subjected residents in several cities to indiscriminant bombardment by tank and rocket fire.'" This seems like a very violent way to kill and I can't believe the United States isn't trying to do more to stop this violent murder.

The USA has always been a super power that has stepping in when people needed help, so why don't we step in now? It seems like the people could really use the help right about now. American has always been against criminals and al-Assad is clearly viewed as a criminal. Even Clinton thinks so! “Clinton, asked at a Senate Appropriations Committee whether al-Assad should be viewed as a war criminal, said, "I think that based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category."

Monday, February 27, 2012

China responds to criticism

The latest UN resolution aimed at dealing with Syria was vetoed by both China and Russia and Hilary Clinton on Friday called the acts "despicable". Government officials in China and media outlets have called the comment "super arrogant" and "unacceptable". The criticism towards the U.S. comes a day after Syria held a direct vote on a new constitution, even as violence was happening throughout the country. China has lately been feeling pressure to do something about the violence that has gripped Syria even though it usually doesn't interfere with other countries' affairs.
The People's Daily, a Communist Party newspaper said that,"(t)he Untied States' motive in parading as a 'protector' of the Arab peoples is not difficult to imagine. The problem is, what moral basis does it have for this patronising and egotistical super-arrogance and self-confidence?" Beijing's stance on the crisis is that Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad should be given a chance to carry out reforms that should end the violence. But many observers believe that if Moscow and Beijing stopped shielding Syria, then the bloodshed would end since there wouldn't be any more vetoes on future UN resolutions.
What are your thoughts on Mrs. Clintons' criticism towards China and do you believe the country deserves it? Or should the U.S. and others respect their wishes not to meddle in other countries affairs seeing how China has pointed out Iraq and it's many problems ever since American intervention.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Santorum Blames Media

Santorum criticizes the media for criticizing him on his comments about Obama. One comment in particular compared the current state of America to Europe's condition in World War II, which the media portrayed as Santorum comparing Obama to Hitler. Santorum, of course, denies any Hitler comparison and states that his comment was merely a World War II metaphor that he's used "100 times."

He also says that stating that Obama was "imposing his values" on Americans was in no way questioning Obama's Christian values. Santorum is against the Obama administration's policy of requiring all institutions that provide health insurance, including Catholic churches and hospitals, to provide birth control and emergency contraception. He argues that the “President has reached a new low in this country’s history of oppressing religious freedom that we have never seen before" and points out that Obama has a very different theology.

How do you feel about Santorum's stance against the Obama administration's birth control/contraceptive policy? Do you think this oppresses religious freedom?

And do you think the media went too far with its Hitler-Obama comparison?

Drones Going Mainstream?

The use of drones has been particularly helpful for the US military in the Middle East and Asia. Now, even "police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird's-eye view that's too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get to" want their own toy drone as well. However, there are still many dilemmas that come along with the practical uses of a drone.

At the forefront of the opposition to giving the private sector access to these highly regulated, meticulously engineered machines is the question of civilian privacy as well as safety. With the drones requiring "routine and unfettered access to domestic airspace, including around airports and cities," these drones could go crashing into other airplanes or helicopters flying around. Furthermore, having access to these drones would give news organizations practically unlimited access to all events they wish to cover.

Personally, I find the thought of drones flying all over the country rather disturbing. There's no way to know who's on the other side controlling the drone or knowing what the drone is equipped with. Maybe it's just a harmless upgraded version of an RC helicopter or the drone could be used by the media to invade someone's privacy. Who knows?

What are your thoughts on these drones? Does mixing the military with domestic policy seem reasonable?

Arizona Governor Endorses Mitt Romney

Citing that she thinks that "he's the man that can carry the day," Arizona Governor Jan Brewer officially endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican primaries. By doing so, Brewer joins the other prominent Republican leaders supporting Romney. According to the Washington Post (, Romney's "pro-business background" drew her support and she will "work as hard as I know how" to help Romney.

However, Brewer's endorsement may help him win the primary, but will likely hurt his presidential run should he become the Republican nominee. Brewer's firm opposition to illegal immigration gains the support of conservatives of alienates the Hispanic vote. As expressed by Obama's campaign staff, this endorsement is "great for Republican primary, damaging to general election. Say goodbye to Hispanic vote."

What are your thoughts in Brewer's endorsement? Will this hurt Romney's chances in the election?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Increasing Gas Prices

Newt Gingrich criticizes Barack Obama's energy plan. With claims that Obama's plan is "a "stunningly dishonest" plan by an "intellectual left winger" who believes in the "fantasy" of small cars and high gas prices," Gingrich unveiled his own plan, in hopes of gaining some momentum in this presidential race.

Gingrich's plan includes "increased domestic oil and gas production, along with coastal drilling; replacing the Environmental Protection Agency; cutting regulations which hamstring energy production; and approving the 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas." With this plan, Gingrich promises "$2.50 a gallon gasoline, and about $16 trillion in royalties in the next generation, enough to completely pay off the national debt ... with no tax increase. And at least 8 million new jobs." How realistic do you think this really is?

Furthermore, in retaliation for the European Union's sanction, Iran is refusing to sell oil to France and Britain. However, both countries don't receive a significant amount of oil from Iran, but the psychological effect is clearly showing; oil prices continue to rise, now reaching $125 a barrel. (

What are your thoughts on the impact and indicators of rising gas prices on the economy? Do you think that gas prices will continue to rise? Thoughts on Gingrich's plan?

Israel could attack Iran

Over past few months there has been big fear over Iran's nuclear facilities in Tehran. This time Israel could be stepping in as  they have verbally threatened Iran saying they will attack Iran's nuclear facilities. With tension rising Iran has spread its nuclear facilities across the country  and has built its nuclear  program further underground so it can be protected from airstrikes making it seem a little sketchy  as they said their "program is strictly for peaceful purposes such as producing energy". But if its a peaceful purpose then why would they be hiding their programs and moving it further underground?
   It has been said that Israel will make some kind of attempt by this summer to stop the nuclear program because if they dont act soon then Israelis bombs wont be able be able to hit the nuclear facilities because they will be too far underground to hit with any airstrikes.
    In the past Israel has shown to use its Air Force on other nuclear programs if they feel its justified. In 1981 Israeli Air force destroyed Iraqi nuclear reactor and in 2007 Israeli Air force also destroyed an unfinished nuclear reactor in Syria.
     Iran warned everyone saying that if there are any attacks on its nuclear programs that they will fight back as they threatened Israel saying it will "pound them with missiles". They also said that they would launch missiles at jewish states and targets in the gulf that could cause global oils prices to rise

      So do you think Israel should take action against Iran or do you think they should let Iran run their Nuclear program? Do you think this is a peaceful purpose?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Big Speech, Tiny Crowd

On Friday, Mitt Romney intended to give a moving speech, speaking about ways to revive the American economy. Sadly, what he gave instead was "an unintended lesson about how poor visuals and errant words can derail a candidate’s message in this modern political news culture."

Romney gave his speech in Ford Field, a football stadium equipped to seat 65,000 seats, to a group of 1200 people. Romney's campaign staff states that they did not even choose the venue; the Detroit Economic Club did. However, this fact mattered little to the media, as they posted pictures portraying the empty stadium before Romney had even uttered a word.

Furthermore, despite the fact that this speech was supposed to be about policy, the media focused largely on the aesthetics of his presentation, leaving only one sentence about his actual policies.

Personally, I think it ties very well with our recent chapter, supporting the fact that the media gives little attention to actual policy and instead focuses on the material that will sell. A headline that could hurt Romney's campaign would catch more eyes than an article about his policies.

What are your thoughts on the media's portrayal? Do you think that this will impact Romney's campaign heavily?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

9 year old boy accidentally shoots classmate

    9 year old boy was accused of shooting his fellow third grade classmate on Wednesday. The story is the 9 year old boy stole a .45- caliber gun from his moms house and put it in his backpack and brought it to his elementary school. Right before classes was about to be let out the gun discharged from inside of his backpack  hitting and injuring his classmate Amina Kocer-Bowman. As of now Amina is in critical condition at  Harborview Medical Center where she has to go threw couple surgery and will likely stay in the hospital for several weeks.
    The 9 year old boy bail was set to $50,000  and if they payed the bail  the boy will be released and will be placed on house arrest and will be forced to live with his uncle.
     "Todd Dowell of the Kitsap County prosecutor's juvenile division said under state law, children between 8 and 12 years old can face charges if a court determines the child has the capacity to understand an act is wrong."
     There has also been other cases like this  as in 2000 a 6 year old was fatally shot by her classmate who also brought  gun from their house and brought it to school but the kid was not charged with anything because he was too young to be held responsible.
    I believe $50,000 bail and house arrest seems like a reasonable punishment in my opinion.

    So how do you guys feel about this? Do you think the punishment is reasonable?

Former Indiana Secretary of State Ousted From Office

Indiana's former Secretary of State Charlie White was charged with six felony convictions and sentenced to one year of home detention. The charges ranged from perjury to theft. With Judge Steven Nation refusing to reduce the felony charges to misdemeanors, White loses his job because Indiana law states that citizens being charged with felonies cannot hold office.

White was ultimately fined $1,000 and must serve 30 hours of community service in addition to his year long home detention. With these felony charges potential sentences of six months to three years in jail, White seems to be getting off rather easy. What are your thoughts on this?

Furthermore, with White's job in question, the issue of replacing him has arisen. Governor Mitch Daniels has appointed Jerry Bonnet, White's chief deputy, as the interim secretary of state and it seems that it will turn into a permanent appointment if White's charges are not reduced. However, the Democrats believe that White never should have taken office and that Vop Osili, the runner-up in the election, should take office.

Do you agree or disagree with Nation's decision not to reduce White's charges? What do you think about White's sentence? What about the process to replace White if the situation calls for it?

Google Goggles

With technology becoming ever more prominent in our lives, Google is working on yet another gadget that could become the next big thing. Google is expected to launch their new Google glasses sometime this year. These glasses "will project information, entertainment and, this being a Google product, advertisements onto the lenses." The glasses will feature many of the same functions as smart phones do, such as a camera, GPS and audio inputs and outputs.

However, what makes the glasses slightly more controversial is its facial recognition feature. Though it will be useful in playing virtual games, it raises the question of privacy issues. Theoretically, the glasses could match a complete stranger up with shared friends and other social networks.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to "to suspend the use of facial recognition software until the government could come up with adequate safeguards and privacy standards to protect citizens." However, this brings Google's new privacy policy into mind. If the government will allow Google to change its privacy policy and allow users to be more susceptible to fraud and identity theft, who's to say that it'll do anything about facial recognition in glasses?

Furthermore, the government will not be able to regulate any of the content seen on the glasses. Mr. William Brinkman says "it’s also going to change real-world advertising, where companies can virtually place ads over other people’s ads." If the government has absolutely no control over what occurs behind the lenses, how will the media be held accountable for any claims it may make?

What are your thoughts on these new Google goggles? How will it affect user privacy? Will the media change?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Supreme Court Doesn't Appreciate Liars

Xavier Alvarez, at a local water district meeting in Pomona, decided to tell his fellow board members that he was an ex-Marine and won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

Well, he lied. In fact, he violated the the Stolen Valor Act, which states that it is illegal to falsely claim to own a U.S. military award and to use it for personal gain. This act reminds me a lot of the court case New York Times v. Sullivan and the ruling about actual malice since people will only by charged of crime if they knowingly claimed to have received such an award and if this action "causes imminent harm to another person or the government."

All the Supreme Court justices, except Justice Sonia Sotomayor, seem to be against Alvarez and want to penalize him for lying despite Alvarez's lawyer's belief that prosecuting a person based on his or her outrageous claims goes against the 1st Amendment and hinders free-speech.

But if Alvarez is convicted, what about the politicians who lie about their accomplishments? Should we be allowed to prosecute them as well or is lying about owning military-related things far worse than what politicians lie about (college degrees, etc)?

What do you think of the Stolen Valor Act? Is it something worth upholding or is it unconstitutional?

US apologizes for Quran burning

   Hundreds of protesters  have been rioting against  the police and security force in Afghanistan  after hearing that there was copies of the Quran burnt at a NATO airbase by US troops.  The protesters have  been  blocking a major highway right in front of  US base and have been throwing stones at  police lines. There has been reports that seven people have died and 32 have been injured during the protesting.  A police spokesman denied all the reports and said that policer officers didn't fire any shots  at protesters   when they went to ask the AFP he explained that "one person was killed and 10 were wounded when shots were fired at anti-US demonstrators ".
   Due to the reports and riots the US defense secretary issued an apology and said that it was inappropriate  for the US soldiers to burn a copy of the Quran and that this action does not represent the views of the US military. 
   I think it was wrong to burn a copy of the Quran because its disrespectful to a religion but i dont think i would have protested against it if it was my religion.

    So how do u guys feel about this?  Do you think that the Afghan citizens have a right to protest?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Charities oppose tax break reduction proposal

Once again, non-profit groups are against Obama's proposal of reducing the tax break for charitable donations. They argue that a decrease from 35% to 28% for tax breaks would greatly lower the amount of donations received by charities and other organizations since there is less of an incentive to donate.

(An example: A person who donates $10,000 will only have a $2,800 deduction on his/her taxes instead of a $3,500 deduction)

Obama, however, states that the charities would "do just fine" with a 7% decrease in tax breaks since this reduction will only affect the taxpayers earning more that $250,000. He says that this 35% tax break is available only to the extremely wealthy. The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University states that this reduction would "boost federal revenue by billions of dollars."

So what do you think is more important? Should donating a considerable amount of money to a charity allow you to have a 35% tax break or should this percentage be lowered?

Also, do you agree with the charities that say that tax breaks are huge incentives for people wanting to donate? Will a reduction in tax breaks cause a dramatic reduction in the amount of donations?

Syrian Troops Attack Homs

   For the past 11 months Syrian troops have been attacking rebels in city of Homs . They been using combination of ground troops and shelling of armor tanks to destroy the opposition but while doing so they have killed many civilians. The Red Cross has been asking for some type of cease-fire agreement so they can aid the civilians that are wounded but it seems like they have not been able to to get the two side to agree to the cease-fire . The United Nations has had a few talks about the matter and they would like to take some action to the fighting  in Syria but China and Russia both vetoed against the UN Resolution plan for Syria. Which has led the Untied Nations to do nothing and has let  Syrians troops to continue to attack the city Homs and attack its civilians.

   How do you feel about this? Do you think the United Nations should take action against the fighting in Syria? Do you think the Red Cross will be able to get a cease fire agreement ?

Oil Prices increase

   Many countries such as the US, France, Great Britain are very concern with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries because they believe that Iran and other middle Eastern countries are creating a nuclear program. Iran denies everything and they said that they are not creating any atomic weapons . They also said that their "program is for a peaceful purpose" but it seems like Iran is done getting picked on by the other countries and are now starting to jack up the prices for oil is as high as $105 for every barrel which  is the highest exchange price since May of 2011. 
   The head of Iran's state oil company Ahmad Qalehbani threatened all the countries it sells oil too to by saying that Iran will stop selling oil to the nations who take action against its nuclear program.

   As oil prices keep increasing each month do you think the US should step in and take action? Do you think Iran has the right to increase its oil prices? Do you think their program is for a peaceful purpose?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Watch out for Rombo!

As February 28th, or the Michigan primary, creeps closer, Rick Santorum is taking a stronger stance to try and beat Romney. After winning Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, Santorum has started to lead in polls and has even started to beat Romney (although by a small margin). And now, Santorum is hoping to beat Romney in Michigan which will hopefully label him as the "conservative alternative." To do this, Santorum is planning on airing many "Rombo" ads to prove to voters that although they may see a lot of ads that tarnish Santorum's reputation, Santorum is still the better choice. Even in the ad, he admits that he does not have as much money compared to Romney. In the "Rombo" video, a Romney doppelganger has a gun that shoots poop (for lack of a more scholarly word). He tries to shoot at Santorum but misses every time. In the end, his gun is jammed and after trying to fix it, the Romney doppelganger accidentally shoots the poop at himself. After learning about ads, do you think this will be effective? Isn't it proven that audiences like contrast ads more than negative ads? On the Today Show's segment of Today's Professionals, a advertising executive came on the air to say that the ad is ingenious as every time a Romney ad comes on, the voters will think of the "Rombo" ad.

So what do you think? Do you like the ad? Do you hate the ad? Is the ad going to backfire on Santorum? Will it benefit Santorum? Is Santorum's lead only temporary? How might Romney feel about this?

Below is the link to the video:

For Punishment of Elder’s Misdeeds, Afghan Girl Pays the Price

We all know a friend or family member who has had a scandalous affair with another person who is not their significant other and has seen the outcome which would usually be a divorce, break-up, etc. Then they would move on with their lives and all would be done and over with. But in ASADABAD, Kunar Province they do something a little different. Baad occurs which is a traditional Afghan form of justice where they take girls as payments for misdeeds committed by their elders.

Although Baad is illegal, it is still present and in the most recent case an 8 year old girl and her cousin were kidnapped and beaten by men carrying AK-47s.

“We did not know what was happening,” said Shakila, now about 10, who spoke softly as she repeated over and over her memory of being dragged from her family home. “They put us in a dark room with stone walls, it was dirty and they kept beating us with sticks and saying ‘your uncle ran away with our wife and dishonored us and we will beat you for retaliation.’ ”

Most of these cases never make it to court because of 2 reasons, "'F
irst, the corrupt administration which openly demands money for every single case, and second, instability." So basically nothing is being done to stop this which is very sad.

So hitchhikers, what do you think should be done to stop this?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heartland Institute: How could you be so heartless?

As most people know, I took APES and am a strong supporter of environmental protection. That is why after reading this article, I was stunned. I do not understand why there are people who think that climate change is just an idea that was made up.

In the New York Times article, it discussed how after seeing some leaked documents, it was found that the Heartland Institute had been planning to "undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools." The Heartland Institute is a company that is dead set against global warming. I find this completely ridiculous as global warming is something that needs to be dealt with and clearly apparent. It is companies like the Heartland Institute that block reform through their lobbying and sketchy funding. According to the New York Times article, Heartland is funded by many drug and oil companies. In one of the documents, it is said to have enclosed a plan to create a curriculum that would protest whether or not humans really are the cause of climate change. I feel that this plan of creating a curriculum to teach something that has been proven false is quite evil (for lack of a better word) as the Heartland Institute seems to be targeting newer generations as they will be the ones that will get this lesson, if they ever get it. These newer generations are really the ones that need to know that the human race's habits are unsustainable. Obviously, I don't think that Heartland will cause any change, but the idea that they thought to do this is quite disturbing.

So what do you think? Am I just overreacting? Is this something that we should just forget about? Is the environment worth it? Thoughts? Feelings?

I find it repulsive that there are groups like the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change who meet every year to just say that Climate Change does not exist.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

“This is the defining issue of our time.”

On Tuesday, President Obama proposed his final budget request. In it, he requested $350 billion in stimulus money. He said that he would use this money to keep lower payroll taxes, help manufacturing at home, employ more teachers and bring jobs back to America from countries like China and India. In his proposal, he also included raising $2 trillion by letting the Bush-era tax breaks to the rich run out for people who earn over $250,000 a year. Although this said plan will raise the deficit and cause it to stay at about $600 billion for about ten years, Obama promises that it will also save $4 billion. He expressed that "this is the defining issue of our time." Many Republicans oppose this plan as they believe that it will get America into more debt. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin expressed that "Instead of an America built to last, this is a plan for an America drowning in debt."

So what do you think? Is this a good plan? Is this Obama's last effort before the elections in November? Will this hurt or help Obama?

First Bachmann, then Huntsman, then Perry... now Gingrich?

On its website on Monday, the National Review, a conservative magazine, expressed its disapproval of Newt Gingrich as they called him a candidate that has "poor judgement and persistent unpopularity." It reminded its readers of the years that Gingrich was leader of the house and said that even his fellow congressmen and congresswomen were right to "bring his tenure to an end." They went further by pointing out his many flaws, including "his impulsiveness [and] his grandiosity."

With this disapproval of Gingrich, however, came an approval for Santorum. As a result of his victories in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota, the National Review graced Rick Santorum with a positive criticism saying that he has potential, but still needs to prove to the Republican Party of his ability to beat or have a chance against Romney. The article on National Review noted how when Gingrich was above in the polls, he said that Santorum should have dropped out. Now since the roles are basically switched, should Gingrich drop out? Do you think Gingrich still has a chance since so many people are going against him? Does Santorum have the ability to be a rival to Mitt Romney?

Linked is the National Review editorial.

Monday, February 13, 2012

People of Paradox... I mean, Contradictions

Chisago County, Minnesota is described as an "average" town with people earning an average of $39,000 a year. Many people in this town are strong supporters of the Tea Party, requesting that federal programs and spending be cut. However, the contradictory thing is that most of the residents in Chisago are dependent on these government programs. The Gulbranson family, a family mentioned in the article, is all for cuts in government spending, but uses federal money to have their kids fed in school for free. On top of that, Mr. Gulbranson's mother has used Medicare funds to pay for her 2 hip surgeries. I am not against people using these funds, but it really irks me to hear these people constantly calling for cuts in spending while simultaneously taking from these pots of money. Yes, some of them have too much pride to take this money, saying "I will fail or succeed on my own merit. I don't want the government, I don't need the government. But we're hurting." But others say just that and continue taking.

What do you think? Should the government cut some funding to see who floats and who sinks? Do these Chisago County critics have any base for their claims? Thoughts? Feelings?

America Deserves Better: Imbler 2012

Good afternoon, America!

A wise man once said, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
Ladies and gentlemen, this man was Albus Dumbledore. He fought his entire life to change the world around him for the better, a goal I intend to achieve. Our incumbent government spouts dreams--ideals without any feasible realization. I will enact real change in America and breathe life back into our economy, our foreign status, and our spirits.

Elect me, and I will help businesses thrive, unencumbered by bureaucracy, and continue to create American jobs. Elect me, and I will lead American schools back into the forefront of the international community. Elect me, and I will strengthen old and forge new partnerships with foreign nations that will keep America safe. Elect me, and I promise you that I will restore America's international status as a beacon of hope, freedom, and prosperity.

Election day is this Wednesday. Help me lead America into a better, brighter future. Vote for responsibility. Vote for prosperity. And most importantly, vote for change. Vote Imbler-La Serna 2012, because America deserves better. America deserves Imbler.

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Disclaimer: This advertisement was approved by Scott Silton, but it is not his endorsement.

It's not about the money, money, money... but it is.

After promising that he would stay until the end, Newt Gingrich has begun running out of money for his campaign. After a defeat by Romney in Nevada and three states to Santorum, Gingrich is now trying to convince many of his supporters that he still has a chance of winning. His new strategy is to focus all of his energy on "Super Tuesday" saying that that is his time to shine. In the mean time, however, people should pay up. This coming week, Gingrich will be trying to fund raise in California. For $500, you can have breakfast with him. For $2500, you can have a sip of champagne and have 1 picture. Even Rick Perry tried to get some of his wealthy supporters to help Gingrich. I don't know about the rest of you, but I find it ridiculous that people would actually pay absorbent amounts of money to eat a piece of dry steak and soggy salad with a candidate. All you really get in the end is a photo-op to prove to your friends that you actually met said candidate.

So I ask you, would you pay $2500 to get a picture with Gingrich? Do you think Gingrich is over if he doesn't get anymore money? Do you think Gingrich is already over? Is Santorum the "conservative choice?"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

An Example to Follow?

A school in Mooresville, North Carolina really switched into the digital age by giving every student a Macbook to learn from. They didn't get to keep the laptops of course, but used them on a day to day basis. This school had an 80% graduation rate in 2008 and with their changes, soared to 91% in 2011. As a result of all these changes, the school no longer needed many things, like computer labs, since virtually every student had a laptop -no pun intended. Although this may seem too good to be true, many teachers were laid off. Something that one of the teachers at the school said that was “[you] have to trust kids more than you’ve ever trusted them, [the] teachers have to be willing to give up control.”

So what do you think? Should more schools switch to this type of learning where students use computer programs and Macbooks to learn? Would it be effective? Is Mooresville just an example that can't be duplicated? Is it financially feasible to do this throughout the US?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Well, that's embarrassing....

While giving a speech for his campaign, Mitt Romney accidentally mixed up Solyndra and the Keystone Pipeline. For those of you who don't remember what Solyndra was, it was the bankrupt Solar company that Obama boasted about as a prime example for green companies in America. The Keystone Pipeline is a pipeline that is supposed to span from Canada to Texas. However, President Obama has currently shut down the project. It would alleviate America's dependence on foreign oil.

Here is the transcript of Romney's mistake:
“My course for America is to become energy secure and to open up that Solyndra – that, that pipeline, excuse me, the Keystone Pipeline,” Romney told about 400 supporters at a stone importing company in northern Atlanta. “Not Solyndra. ... The Keystone pipeline to get energy here in this country.”
So what do you think? Will Romney get a lot of heat for his blunder? Will this cause a bigger shake up given his poor finishes in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado? Should the Keystone Pipeline be a viable source of energy for America? Should we just forget about supporting green companies after Solyndra?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gingrich Looks Ahead to ‘Super Tuesday’

In the wake of his ~50% to ~21% loss to Romney in Nevada, Newt Gingrich has already begun to look ahead to "Super Tuesday." Scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, 2012, this date will see ten states having their primaries or caucuses. Gingrich believes he will do well on this day, and that by the time the Texas primary rolls around on April 3, he will be far ahead in the delegate count. Mr. Santorum discussed similar beliefs, citing Minnesota and Colorado as two states he expects to do well in. Both Santorum and Gingrich adamantly deny that this race is close to over. When Gingrich appeared on Meet the Press this morning, he reiterated this belief, and aggressively attacked Romney, especially for his comment regarding the "poor."

After Romney's recent wins in florida and Nevada, where he won with sizable margins, do you think there is still time and likelihood that Gingrich or Santorum can gain enough momentum become the frontrunner? Or is it to late for either of them to gain enough traction to overcome their losses so far? Even though only a handful of primaries and caucuses have taken place, do you think Romney will hold on to his lead?

College Rankings

Personally, I dont think I have actually looked at a college ranking list. I definitely did not use it to help me choose which colleges to apply to, and I believe they are pointless.

Recently, a senior administrator at Claremont McKenna, a highly regarded liberal arts college, admitted to falsifying college entrance exam scores for years just to boost the rank of their college. Now a days, colleges spend billions of dollars on financial aid for high-scoring students who don't even need it.

I think that it is wrong that colleges are care so much about their "ranking" that they don't give a chance to kids who really deserve it. They are making it more difficult and accepting more academic students, and not as many students who are creative and different. I don't it is fair. There are plenty of students who maybe don't have the best grades that will never get into the college of their dreams because colleges only want smart kids who will boost their ranking.

"It was a college, Baylor University, that paid students it had already accepted to retake the SAT exam in a transparent ploy to boost the average scores it could report. It's colleges that have awarded bonuses to presidents who lift their school a few slots." I think that is absurd

This article is full of absurdities.
How do the Aragon Hitchhikers feel about this?

Obama May Alter the Stance of Federal Appeals Courts

Obama winning his second term as president, could result in allowing him to replace the Republican-appointed majorities with Democratic ones.

It is said that 14 of the 25 judges nominated by Obama had replaced Republican judges.
"Obama has still managed to alter the balance of power on four of the nation's 13 circuit courts of appeals." Is it good for Obama to be altering the power of the nations circuit courts of appeals? I think it is better to have some diversity. What do you think?

The average age of the judges that Obama has been choosing is more than 55 years old. It is said that many presidents look at the appeals court judges as future Supreme court candidates. Do you think its good for Obama to be picking old judges? Or should he be choosing younger ones and giving them a chance to develop a record that presidents can look at? I think that Obama should be choosing younger judges because that could possibly result in more Democratic Supreme Court Justices later on.

Will $4 Million Be Enough Money?

Think of all the money you have. Then think about 30 years from now. That money that you have now will be far less as much in 2042.

The real question in this article is whether $4 million will be enough. It is said that in 2042, "$160,000 would be the equivalent of about $88,000 today." I think that is crazy and a little scary. The only way that the money today will be worth the same as in 2042 would be for the entire economy goes through a sustained deflation, which is almost impossible. Inflation will slowly keep going up and money will slowly become less and less.

This article makes me want to start thinking about my retirement, and I'm only 17! This article makes it clear that to retire comfortably, one needs to "...focus on getting a realistic idea of how much you should be saving and how you should be investing to retire in comfort..."

Remember that Aragon Hitchhikers! We are getting old fast.

Obama's "assault on religious freedom"

Under President Obama's new health care law, many religious hospitals (specifically Catholic hospitals, at which the majority of the employees are actually not Catholic) will now be required to provide free birth control. Conservatives and the Catholic Church have condemned the administration's policy, with New Gingrich, a Catholic convert himself, audaciously labeling it "the most outrageous assault on religious freedom in American history." He argues that no religious institution should be subordinated to a secular government.

I feel that Ginrich is overexaggerating the implications of this new law; the main purpose of Gingrich's invectives seems to be to mobilize religious voters against Obama and appeal to their love of God and country. Such rhetoric further polarizes this nation which must become united, not divided. Yet again, I can see the incongruity of providing free contraception at a religious hospital and why the new policy is perceived as a violation of the "separation of church and state" principle. Nevertheless, I would not go so far as to call it a "tremendous infringement" of religious liberty, as Gingrich did.

Do you think this law is indeed contrary to separation of church and state? Or is it in the states' best interest to have free contraception provided also at these Catholic hospitals?

Here's the article from which I drew for this post.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Big win for Romney in Nevada

Right now I am watching CNN's Nevada coverage, and as somewhat expected, Mitt Romney is the projected winner by a substantial margin. Earlier today he made a campaign stop in Colorado, the next primary, but he is back at Romney headquarters in Nevada to address his supporters. As of now, the results are as follows: Romney 47%, Gingrich 22%, Paul 19%, and Santorum 12%.

According to the entrance polls, Romney won nearly every category. Not only was he favored among moderates and liberals but also among the "very conservative," a constituency for whose loyalty he has struggled. Economic issues seemed to be the most relevant for Nevada citizens, which certainly helped Romney's cause. 45% of Nevada voters said that the ability to defeat Obama was their most important candidate quality, and these adults gravitated towards Romney. He won 91% of the Mormon vote (shocker), but also the largest chunks of the Catholic and Protestant vote.

Rick Santorum did not really bother with Nevada, focusing his attention on getting a headstart in Colorado. He spoke at a dinner tonight, discoursing mainly about liberty, health care, and the qualities of an ideal Republican nominee. Santorum attacked Obama's fancy of entitlement programs and claimed that the president "doesn't believe that America was born great." Santorum is not phased by Romney's win in Nevada, calling the state Romney's "home court." Furthermore, Santorum frequently cites recent polls that show that he, not Romney, would actually have the best chances against Obama.

Newt Gingrich continues to maintain that he will not drop out of the race, at least before Super Tuesday on March 6th, on which day Gingrich expects to win a handful of states.

Although Romney's victory tonight comes as no huge surprise, many commentators believe that his win in this first state in February will set a precedent for the rest of the month, and that that momentum would cut deeply into Gingrich's chances to win big on Super Tuesday. What are your thoughts?

Ross Mirkarimi misses his son

The restraining order that has separated Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from his two-year-old son, Theo, may be amended on Wednesday. This modification would allow the two to reunite for the first time since January 13, when Mirkarimi was arrested on three misdemeanor charges of "domestic violence battery [of his wife], child endangerment, and dissuading a witness," to which Mirkarimi pleaded not guilty.

Eliana Lopez, his wife, has told reporters how much Theo misses his father. The boy has implored Lopez as to when his dad will come home; he runs upstairs to the window every evening, expecting Ross to return; he has spent hours crying and wondering where his father is. Mirkarimi recently bought Theo two news books to read until the restraining order is modified.

Yesterday when I was watching news coverage of the case, I witnessed Mirkarimi choke up when asked about Theo and say, "I miss my son terribly and he misses me...excuse me I have to go." It was probably one of the saddest, most touching quotes I have ever heard. Do you think it is just for this father to be kept away from the son he misses so much, especially when the possibility exists that his domestic violence charges may be false?

GI to be court-martialed for WikiLeaks

Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 24-year old Army intelligence analyst from Oklahoma, is to be court-martialed for allegedly electronically funneling 700,000 secret U.S. documents and combat video to WikiLeaks. These include sensitive battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables. 22 charges have been filed against him, one of which is "aiding the enemy;" if convicted of this, he could spend life in prison.

In chapter 15, we learned about who can or cannot be prosecuted for publicizing classified information. During the Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst similar to Manning, craftily gave the classified and controversial Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post. The result was New York Times Co. v U.S. (1971), a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not prevent publication of the Papers. However, it would have won its case against Ellsberg himself, had there not been a plot twist during the trial that involved previous illegal wiretapping by the prosecution.

Assuming that no such lucky event occurs for Manning, do you think he will be convicted of all his charges? What effect will the claims that he is a hero for exposing war crimes have on his trial?