Monday, April 30, 2012

Where in the World is Chen Guangcheng?

Just recently in China, a blind self-taught lawyer and activist, Chen, escaped after being placed under house arrest for more than eighteen months. How did he do it? Although his first attempt to escape did not come to fruition (Chen allegedly tried to dig a tunnel), he was able to scale the wall surrounding his house after pretending to be ill for days at a time. From there, Chen was allegedly driven by a friend to the U.S embassy where he is now being protected.

Chen's wife and daughter remain under  house arrest while Chinese authorities continue to detain or search for other family members that might have information. Obama and other high ranking White House officials have not commented on the alleged whereabouts of Chen.

Potential G.O.P presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, argued for decisive action, asking the Obama administration to "take every measure" ( Romney also stated that the "country must play a strong role in urging reform in China and supporting those fighting for the freedoms we enjoy." Many human rights groups including ChinaAid and Human Rights Watch take the same stance as Romney, suggesting that the U.S remove Chen and his family for "medical reasons".

Fellow Aragon Hitchhiker... where do you stand on this issue? Should the United States choose to play a role in the activist's future or should he be handed over to Chinese authorities (assuming he is currently in U.S custody). Also, does the United States have the right to sequester Chen away from the Chinese government on the basis of different social ideology and policy? Don't forget to consider the current state of U.S-China relations in your responses! :D

Investing in Facebook? A Word of Caution


There’s been an awful lot of speculation lately that with the Social Networking giant Facebook going public the company will create a lot of millionaires and in the case of the company’s early investors and management, billionaires.  However speculation isn’t always a good thing, a few industry analyst have been offering words of caution.  Allan Sloan of Fortune magazine points out that because the company is looking to raise $5 billion and the valuation is in the neighborhood of $100 billion there will be an extreme demand for the stock and a very limited supply therefore jacking up the price beyond it’s true value.

Sloan says “there are all sorts of rationalizations for having such a small public offering relative to a company’s size, the real reason, as any Street insider will tell you, is to create an initial shortage of stock so that the share price runs up when public trading starts.” 

Eric Savitz of Forbes magazine offers a similar word of caution, “Assuming Facebook comes public at a $100 billion market cap, the stock will debut at 27 time last year’s revenues and 100 times trailing profits.  By either measure, an ethereal valuation.”  The consensus seems to be that the price will see a massive inflation and perhaps the bubble will burst and bring investors back down to reality.  With the IPO looming around the first weeks of May, those wishing to invest and those already invested will be getting pretty anxious.

 After reading a few articles on this for myself I’m feeling rather Bearish and will be very skeptical of massive price hikes and what have you.  I think other companies like Apple (AAPL) or Microsoft (MSFT) might present some interesting opportunities, while Facebook takes the spotlight these could be the real deal.

Minnesota's Governor Attempt at Health Care Reform Creates Controversy

Minnesota's governor, Mark Dayton, is attempting to expand Minnesota's health care coverage in a way similar to President Obama's presented ideas. Governor Dayton is trying to make a marketplace like setting where people can "shop" for insurance. He has sought help from various sources, some of them being from consumer groups, labor unions, doctors and hospitals, and employers. However, Gov. Dayton skipped over asking the Republicans. This comes as no surprise since most Republicans don't agree with Obama's health care reform ideas, and Dayton is getting his ideas from Obama's plans.

Dayton isn't opposed to having Republicans help with his expansion of health care coverage. Dayton stated that, "For reasons of ideology and politics, they want to bash our effort to establish an exchange, rather than join it." While Gov. Dayton isn't the only governor trying to change their states health care coverage, none of the previous states have gotten anywhere because the Republican's control both houses.

Although the health care issue has been in the news for awhile, maybe there is a reason that it won't go away. People want to try to make American's health care better. So my question for you guys is, do you think that the Republicans should continue to disagree with the current proposition on health care or try to compromise? 

For more information: m

Monday, April 23, 2012

New espionage unit

The Pentagon has begun planning to increase spying done on high-priority targets under an approved reorganization approved last week by the Defense Secretary, Leon. E. Panetta. The new "Defense Clandestine Service" would work closely with the CIA to expand espionage operations. The plan was developed in response to a study conducted last year that concluded "military’s espionage efforts needed to be more focused on major targets outside war zones."

The realignment will affect hundreds of military operatives who work on spying assignments abroad. Many people are questioning the reasons why this organization has been created and what events have caused the Pentagon to create this unit.

So what do you guys think about this? Do you think maybe the Pentagon decided to create this organization in response to something? Or do you think that maybe the Pentagon just thought this branch of our government was lacking efficiency?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arizona immigration law examined once more

The Supreme Court will soon conclude its ruling over one of the most significant and controversial terms in decades taken on by Arizona's illegal immigration laws. The court's final ruling will be revealed on Wednesday to answer another fundamental question about the powers of the federal government.

The court considers political redistricting battles being fought across the nation and will decide whether federal regulators still hold the authority to police the nation's airwaves. Obama's administration has refuted Arizona's SB 1070, which "directs law enforcement to play a much more active role in identifying illegal immigrants and makes it a crime for them to seek work."

The government is asking the court to recognize that the Constitution gives federal government more power over national problems (i.e. immigration, foreign trade, etc.). "'As the framers understood, it is the national government that has the ultimate responsibility to regulate the treatment of aliens while on American soil, because it is the nation as a whole — not any single state — that must respond to the international consequences of such treatment,'Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the court in the government’s brief."

Many people believe Obama's administration is lacking secure border control. On the other hand, Romney is believed to have to harsh of a stance on immigration that it has caused him to score on the low range of Latino voters. 

President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Tom Saenz, has claimed that Arizona v. United States "relate to the structure of government, it is still very much a civil rights case."

The decision will have an effect beyond just Arizona. Several state have followed suit and attempted to strengthen their immigration laws similar to Arizona's. Arizona's governor, Gov. Jan Brewer claimed that " it is for the constitutional principle that every state has a duty and obligation to protect its people, especially when the federal government has failed in upholding its core responsibilities."

So, what do you all think about the court case and about the issues being presented here. I know for the A.P. Government class we're doing civil rights cases. Do you believe this would classify as a civil right's case as stated by Saenz? Or, do you believe that this case is only around to appease the public's demands? 

Iran claims they are bulding a copy of a U.S. drone

Today, Iran claimed that it had began copying and reverse-engineered an American spy drone that they had captured last year. A general of the Tehran military, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, revealed information about the aircraft's operational data in order to prove that experts have taken data captured from the drone.The drone contained surveillance information of northwest Pakistan in which Osama Bin Laden was living and where he was killed.

The U.S. have acknowledged losing the drone. They also say that the drone will be hard to exploit because drones have limited intelligence values.

Furthermore, Hajizadeh has claimed that the Tehran has deciphered many codes and characters and has revealed information regarding the drone to the public.

There are concerns by the U.S. that Iran could possible reverse-engineer the drone's radar-deflecting paint of one of the optical functions which would allowed the U.S. to identify terror suspects from 10,000 feet in the air. There are also concerns that the information from the drone's database could be hacked (As the Irans have claimed). However, most of the data is encrypted.

So, what do you all think about this? Should we be overly concerned that Iran could possibly access classified information and/or could possibly sell the information they gathered to other countries? What are your thoughts on how the U.S. will respond to these claims?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Facebook Friends

Millions of people around the world are members of Facebook. Students, teachers, and parents alike have all signed up for this free online social website. However, across the country, the question has arisen if teachers and students should ever be friends on Facebook? Many school districts are beginning to weigh the pros and cons of allowing this social networking site to be allowed on the school's campus.

Currently, at least 40 school districts nation wide have approved social media policies. Schools in New York, Florida, and Missouri have strict policies that disallow teachers to "friend" students on Facebook. Many of these legislatures have merit for being presented. For example, in two New York cases, " one teacher friended several female students and wrote comments including 'this is sexy' under their photos, investigators said. A substitute teacher sent a message to a student saying that her boyfriend did not 'deserve a beautiful girl like you.'" These examples obviously illustrate the misconduct that students and teachers are experiencing.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, social networks can be very beneficial as an educational resource. Older ways of communication such as emails and meeting to work on projects are becoming less common and harder to do. Letters as well seem nearly non-existent among the youth of our day. Teachers themselves do not want to be put in the situation where something inappropriate COULD occur. A lot of teachers currently use Facebook as a way to inform their students of any last minute announcements or any opportunities that have a short time limit.

So, what do you all think? Do you think we should restrict the use of Facebook in school, or do you believe that it is ultimately beneficial to our educational system? Also, do you believe that it is inappropriate for students to "friend" teachers? Let me know your opinions.

Apple wants trial after E-book price-fixing

Recently, it has been discovered that Apple apple may have been involved with some electronic book price-fixing. Two publishers claimed that Apple and five other publishers were working together to end Amazon's low-cost electronic book sales.

In response to these claims, the U.S. anti-trust division of the Department of Justice has decided to investigate these claims and test their merits. This action has caused Apple to opt for trial in order to defend against the U.S. government's allegations towards the enterprise giant.

The hearing is scheduled for June 22.

The price fixing took place in early 2010 when the iPad was being introduced. Soon after, E-book prices went up approximately 3$ in a three day period.

Two publishers involved in the price-fixing agreed to pay $51 million in each state as restitution to customers who have bought e-books.

So, what do you guys think of this scandal? Do you think that it will drastically effect the Apple corporation or do you think this will barely dent the surface of their enterprise? Also, what is your personal opinion on this act committed by Apple? Do you believe these allegations are true?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Closer race than we think?

Originally, it was believed that "In Gallup’s first tracking poll of the general election, Romney took 47 percent to Obama’s 45 percent nationally."

However, yesterday another poll was released which showed that Obama had a nine point edge over Romney in the election. (
Also, another poll was released by the Washington Post which showed that Romney had a low favorability vote.

With the polls constantly switching from favoring Obama to favoring Romney, it appears this presidential election will be a very close race.

My question to you all is that do you think these polls truly will predict the outcome of this election? or, do you believe that polls only play a small part in the election and may just be fluctuating to keep things interesting?

Prostitution Scandal in the Military?

Investigators have discovered that approximately 20 military personnel have possibly been involved in a hotel scandal in Cartagena, Colombia last week. The scandal interrupted President
Obama's visit in the region and caused many people questioning the Defense Department.

Many have been considering this one of the most serious scandals of our senior defense officers seen in years. The incident has triggered people to question the integrity of Obama's secret service as well as the Defense Department in whole.

"People in Cartagena familiar with the matter said that some of the Secret Service agents paid $60 apiece to owners of the Pleyclub, a strip club in an industrial section of Cartagena, to bring at least two of the women back to the Hotel Caribe, where Obama’s advance team was staying.

The following morning, one of the women demanded an additional payment of $170, setting off a dispute with an agent that drew the attention of the hotel, the Cartagena sources said."

As a result of this event, yesterday the Secret Service announced that they were revoking all of the security clearance of each officers involved in this incident.

So, my question to all of you is that do you think this is an appropriate punishment or do you believe that this is an over-exaggeration by our government?

Monday, April 9, 2012

North Korea to Test Long Range Rocket

North Korea has recently unveiled its newest endeavor – a new, long range rocket, capable of putting a satellite in space.  In a show of pride, and perhaps arrogance, North Korea’s leader, “Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un” has opened his nation’s borders further than ever before, and has permitted U.S. Journalists to come view the rocket themselves.

This news obviously has come to worry many nations, the U.S. included.  With North Korea now in possession of long range rockets, the threat of an intercontinental nuclear strike has been realized.  North Korea however, continues to claim the rocket is merely for scientific purposes, and nothing more.

The greatest concern right now however, is should the rocket experience a massive failure, where it would land.  Should the rocket fail above China, falling debris into heavily populated urban centers would lead to massive causalities.

What are your thoughts concerning North Korea’s new missile? Are the claims of innocence to be trusted, or should the U.N. draw tighter sanctions on North Korea?  Furthermore, should the U.S. becoming involved?

Google Launches Project Glass

Google, the tech industry super-giant, unveiled its newest creation, dubbed “Project Glass” – augmented reality glasses that will allow the individual to do away with other portable devices.  These glasses will take the place of all of your other devices – cell phone, iPod – and bring the information straight before your eyes.  The official video revealed such features as Google Maps, a Facebook App, and speech-to-text recognition.  Watch here:
It has also been leaked that the glasses will go for anywhere between $250 and $600. 
What do you guys think of Google’s newest project? Are these glasses going to be practical, or just an expensive futuristic Bluetooth? Will fashion trump function, and these glasses get kicked to the curb?

Women Are Not an Interest Group

On Friday, Obama addressed the Women’s Economic Forum, speaking on current gender discrimination within America, as well as the upcoming election.  The president noted “The conversation has been oversimplified….Women are not some monolithic bloc…an interest group.” With the continued controversy surrounding abortion rights, and the newest issues concerning contraceptives under health care reform acts, the Democratic Party has been pushing hard to frame the GOP on such issues, noting how the party is one that would deny women these rights.  In fact, recent Gallup polls show the president leading Romney, the GOP likely nominee, by as much as 18 percentage points.  Republican consultant, Matt Mackowiak, commented "You can't lose women by 18 points.  You are going to get slaughtered." 
This speech and others like it sparked retaliation from Romney and the GOP, arguing that the left has forged a narrative and spun the nation into believing that the right is launching a “war on women”, in light of their stances surrounding contraceptives.  Conservatives everywhere criticism Obama for requiring religious institutions to provide contraceptive coverage in health care plans, which would violate certain religious doctrines.  Ultimately though, GOP stances on such hot issues are clearly having a disastrous effect, with women everywhere changing their votes, if not their party allegiances entirely.
How do you think Romney plans to combat this widening gender gap?  Are his arguments against the Democratic Party valid, or merely the words of a wounded pride, being so far behind in polling?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Promoting Start-Up Investments

Obama, in a continued attempt to revive the job market, signed a bill Thursday that rolls back restrictions on how new start-up companies may raise initial capital.  The bill, part of Obama’s larger Jobs bill, allows for individuals to make small investments in entrepreneurs via the internet.  Obama endorsed the bipartisan bill, citing how “new businesses generate almost every new job in the United States”.

Critics of the bill claim that the law will “open the door to investor fraud”; in response, Obama insisted that the SEC would provide overriding regulation of such web sites, and that information availability in our current day makes fraudulent schemes unlikely.
The bill has more serious political implications however.  With the formal signing set to coincide with the monthly employment report from the Labor department, which has become “an important political barometer”, Obama hopes to make the most of a positive upward trend in the job market.  If the numbers return strong, Obama will only strengthen his reelection chances.

What do you think? Is this a sound political move for Obama and his reelection campaign, or is it simply too little too late, with the rest of Obama’s Jobs bill still floundering in Congress?