Friday, October 31, 2014

Obama Ramping Up on Women's Rights

Obama went to Rhode Island to deliver a speech regarding the inequality women face in their working lives. He tried to make the speech personal by citing the experiences his mother and grandmother faced while he was growing up. He also said since he was a father of 2 daughters that “this is personal." Then he transitioned into promoting his healthcare from the topic that single women who are working hard need good health care. He claimed that the bill will stay even though the republicans are trying to strike down the bill. In addition to all of the promoting he spoke alongside the democrat’s choice for running in Rhode Island for governor Gina Raimondo.

Do you think encouraging Women’s rights is a ploy to get the candidate selected?
Does it make the democratic party look more favorable?

Was Obama’s plug subtle?    

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


According to this article by the Las Vegas Review Journal, World Series cities spend just as much money accommodating the World Series as it makes. So, especially for losing cities, that's both a baseball loss and a financial loss.

The Giants emerge victorious in the 2014 World Series! To add an insight to the influence of this win, here is an article discussing the economic impact of this win. According to the article, "During two World Series games in October 2012, baseball fans added at least $17.3 million to the local economy," as estimates by the San Francisco Travel Association. Between merchandise, tickets, increases public transportation usage, and other heightened activity due to the world series, I can imagine the huge influx of money into the economy of teams' home cities. What I wonder is how much money do cities lose, especially losing cities?

In what other way do cities benefit or lose when sending a team to the World Series?
How do you think this win is going to affect SF's economy this year?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Price of Greek Life

This NY Times article takes an in-depth look at the cost of sorority membership, even past the initial chapter and pledge fees. Personally, I've never really considered myself a "sorority" type, and don't plan to rush sororities in college. However, since college is (probably) looming in the nearby future, I thought this might be an interesting subject to touch on.

According to the article, sorority members are fined for various membership "obligations," like "non-resident house and parlor fees, " dues, and required sorority merchandise (pin and "letter jersey"). Adding on the pressures of chapter social events and the stigma (and sometimes financial cost) of not attending these events, greek life seems to take its toll both time-wise, energy-wise, and money-wise. From what I can gather, the average sorority sister can spend a couple thousand dollars per year just on additional fees. This article from the Daily Pennsylvanian gives good charts and images breaking down this cost. Honestly, this "attend-or-pay" kind of obligation freaks me out a little, almost as if sorority members are being forced into this image of socially active, charitable, happy members of society. I guess most members want to participate in these activities anyway, but I would feel restricted if I was required to attend and fined for being late or not showing up. Maybe I'm being too cynical because I tend to reject anything that I feel impedes on my freedom of choice in any way... but then again, maybe not?

For 18-24 year old students (introduced to the greek scene as "'starry-eyed' freshmen"), especially those who are financially needy, this sorority system seems a little discriminatory. Plus, from the language of the NY Times article, it seems like many student put this financial burden on their parents. However, the benefits of joining sororities should also be accounted for as part of this "cost." "Big" sisters spend a good chunk of money on "little" sisters, and having an almost automatic community and support system at a big university sounds pretty appealing to young students. From what I've heard from friends and family, greek life can be a pretty great way of transitioning into college, and many life-long friends come out of living with your "sisters" for years and years.

Do you think joining a sorority is worth it, considering the costs and benefits?
Should fees for not attending events be allowed?
Some chapter have instituted caps on the money allowed to be spent on "little" sisters... what are your thoughts?

New Programs for Underprivileged Students In The Works

Statistics were showing that more and more underprivileged students having been falling through the cracks of the educational system, and now some states have decided to take action. Some states are making programs for kids in high school during their junior year to get help for taking the SAT. This new effort is being led by Bloomberg Philanthropies who want to change the statistic that 1 in 3 top performing kids from underprivileged backgrounds attends college to 1 in 2 top- performing kids from underprivileged attend college within 5 years. To do this they are going to employ more college counselors and part time employ college students from similar backgrounds to help with application and to serve as an example. In addition they are also going to receive 4 application waivers for college. They are going to try and help them receive as much financial aid and guide them in a direction in where they will not be drowned in debt for college. Yet the efforts they are making right now will only reach about 5% of all students from the bottom half.

Do you think this is the correct approach to assist kids?
Will there be more competition between students?
Would bringing affirmative action be a better choice?
Should they start at a younger age and grade?
*additional information:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dallas Airport Fight Caught On Video As Crowd Takes Down Angry, Ranting Homophobe

(Language Warning)

                  Last week at the Dallas International Airport, a video was captured of a ranting man taken down by a crowd, after he physically and verbally assaulted a man he believed to be gay. The man shouted many expletives at the victim before he kicked him and punched him in the head. A few members of crowd took this chance to intervene, and brought the man to the ground. Airport police proceeded to put him in cuffs and take him away. When being cuffed, he attempted to explain himself, "Let me tell you the reason why I did it: Because this is America, that's why". 

                   While any form of assault is obviously not acceptable, I feel that the fact that members of the crowd intervened in the fight was very promising, especially in a state like Texas that has been known to have pretty anti-same sex marriage sentiments and anti gay rights sentiments in general. This shows the progression of gay rights, as 20, maybe even 10 years ago, the chances of bystanders intervening in a fight like this was way less likely. This also shows, that even though a state may oppose same sex marriage on a statewide level, there maybe a lot of supporters of same sex marriage on the inside.

Questions: Since it is clear that there maybe more supporters of gay rights in Texas than expected, will Texas be one of the next states to recognize same sex marriage?

The article mentions that there was no official police report provided. How likely is it that this assault was charged as a hate crime?


Government recognizes same sex marriages in six new states


                    On Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would be recognizing same sex marriage in six new states. Couples in Alaska, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming now qualify for the social security and social insurance. This comes just a week after same sex married couples in seven other states received federal recognition. That makes the current number of states with federal recognition of same sex marriage 32. To put the rapid increase of federal recognition into perspective, around two weeks ago, the number of states that had federal recognition was just 19.

                     Experts believe that it is likely that this rapid increase will come to a stand-still. The remaining states that have not received federal recognition have defended their bans. However, some of the states that have recently received recognition were states that also defended bans. This recent trend of recognition is very promising and I think there is a bright future for same sex marriage, even in states that are currently defending their bans. 

                      While these recognitions are obviously a step in the right direction, I believe there is still a bigger problem. While gay marriage is recognized on the state level, I believe a problem still lies in the local level, where gays are still discriminated against in their everyday lives. Just two days ago, the daughter of the mayor of Houston had trouble receiving her driving license because she listed that she had two mothers on her application.

Questions: Will current trends of federal recognition continue and oppose the predictions of experts? Or will the increase reach a stand-still?

What could be some possible ways to convince states that are defending their bans?

Despite impressive carbon emission legislation, the law isn't as effective as previously thought

Article, By Evan Halper, Ralph Vartabedian, LA Times

Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico, from original article at LA Times by Evan Halper, Ralph Vartabedian.

The new carbon emissions law requires the state of California to cut carbon dioxide emissions back to 1990's levels by the year 2020. Carbon dioxide, the gas scientists have labeled as the reason for global warming, is released during the burning of fossil fuels. To meet the new requirements many California Energy Companies have sold their stakes in energy companies hundreds of miles out of the state such as the Four corners Plant in New Mexico. (Although California sold it's stake, the power now goes to an Arizona costumer instead)

However, even though California is relinquishing control of its share of the factories power, that doesn't mean that the plants can't now sell that power to other states. After all, California has no power over the interstate commerce of other states. So technically, just because California isn't buying the power, it doesn't mean the coal isn't being burned for the purposes of other western states which leads to no reduction of emissions.

For years California has been relying on cheap coal generated power in other states such as Nevada and Utah for one third of it's total power and now many utility companies are severing connections right and left in attempts to meet the mandate. Environmentalists argue Californians should be doing more to make sure energy companies not only stop buying the electricity from the plants, but also cut down on the pollutants coming from the plants themselves.

Governor Jerry Brown argues that by making such a bold move California utilities could upset the fragile interstate trade system as we know it.

Although the success of the law can be truly only be tracked on paper do you think that it will eventually have a positive impact on carbon dioxide emissions?

California has stricter carbon dioxide emission legislation than many western states, why do you think this is?

California is the most populous state in the nation, if we are cutting back on energy imports, how do you think that affects the energy market as a whole?

Washington state high school shooting, when will the violence end?

Last Friday, a school shooting occurred at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in which an alleged armed student, shot 5 of his "friends"and himself. Ultimately killing one of the students and also killing himself. The gunman, Jaylen Fryberg, the Homecoming Prince and a freshman on the football team was described by his fellow peers as popular and as having a lot of friends.

The 5 students he shot had serious head injuries, and were either in serious or critical condition. One of the victims Gia Soriano, seems to be in very poor condition. According to more than 100 eye witnesses, the shooting occurred near the cafeteria and as soon as the first shot was fired many of the students began pushing through the doors in a desperate attempt to escape the assailant. Those who he shot were confrimed as friends of Fryberg.

According to friends of Fryberg, he had been bullied in his science class for being "Native" (reference to Frybergs race), and one of Fryberg's class mates had said on the Thursday before the shooting, that Fryberg "seemed mad, had his head down the whole time, [and] didn't really talk". In fact, in the months leading up to the shooting Fryberg had posted dark, ominous messages on his Twitter account foreshadowing the incident.

Police confirmed that the ".40 caliber handgun" had been legally acquired and refused to give further information. The way in which Fryberg obtained the handgun and concealed the weapon is still up for speculation.

For America, gun control has been a hotly debated subject over the past couple years and has gained a spot on the Democratic party's agenda. Even though the weapon was legally acquired I would say that it obviously wasn't well looked after and that this situation could have been avoided Fryberg's parents had kept better track of the weapon and their son's well-being. However, the real question is: How many more school shootings is it going to take for people to relinquish their right to bear arms?

Do you think that this will just be looked at as another school shooting or could this be a catalyst for gun reform?

Why do you think that the Republican platform is adverse to reforming gun laws and amending the constitution to accommodate for said gun laws? Is it the right to protect one's property, or is it something deeper?

Friday, October 24, 2014

New quarantine rules considered for aid workers returning to U.S. from Ebola-stricken region

                 Hours after a health care worker in New York tested positive for Ebola, the federal government has finally considered a mandatory quarantine for health care workers returning from West Africa. These new quarantine rules are in response to the diagnosis of Craig Spencer, a health care worker who returned from Guinea on Tuesday. Even though he felt some symptoms, he still took a 3 mile jog and even rode 3 different subway lines, and was only taken to the hospital on Thursday. Spencer is currently in isolation at Bellevue Hospital. Anyone returning from West Africa would be subject to screening at John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International airports, and public health officials at the airports would decided whether the person would need to be quarantined or not. 

                This is not the first time someone returning from West Africa was simply sent home. Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola, was sent home from a hospital with only antibiotics. He even had contact with dozens of elementary school children before he was finally diagnosed. Another two nurses in Texas were diagnosed with Ebola, but both were recently declared Ebola free. Craig Spencer's diagnosis was only the fourth in the United States and the first outside of Texas

Questions: Would simply closing our borders be a viable way to fight Ebola? What about closing our borders to only African countries?

The article states that health care workers would decide who would be quarantined. Is it reasonable to quarantine everybody returning from West Africa?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Survivor Benefits Denied to Widow because Same-Sex Marriages Aren't Recognized in Texas, Federal Suit to Follow

NY Times Article, by Erick Eckholm, 10/22/14

Kathleen A. Murphy (62) and her spouse were married in Massachusetts, however, she became a widow when her wife passed away in 2012 from cancer. Last year, Ms. Murphy applied for the typical benefits any married couple receives after the death of a spouse, but because it was a same-sex marriage, Ms. Murphy was denied the rights to these benefits by the state of Texas.

The state of Texas argues that because Texas doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, even those from other states, they have the right to refuse Ms. Murphy's the money because the state of Texas doesn't have them listed as a married couple. The SSA states that it is bound to providing insurance to couples based on the residence at the time of death not based on where the marriage actually took place (Massachusetts). Ms. Murphy has made an appeal to the Supreme Court who will review her case. In their defense, the SSA has made a statement that they are bound by law to "follow state law in Social Security cases".

After doing some research on the Social Security Administration's website, I found that Ms. Murphy was eligible for a $225 dollar lump-sum for her wife's death, and because she was over 60 but under full retirement age she was eligible to receive 71-99% of "the workers basic benefit amount" (Social Security Administration Handbook).  Also, check out the original article (link at the top), for an accurate graphic of nationwide recognition of same-sex marriages.

Joining Ms. Murphy in the lawsuit as a plaintiff is the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. The committee came out with a statement defending Ms. Murphy, saying that the laws in the state of Texas give the idea that "valid [same-sex] marriages are unworthy of federal recognition and equal treatment".


Do you think Texas is being unfair in it's decision to deny benefits, or do you think the law is justified?

Do you think Ms. Murphy will win her case or will the law be ruled constitutional? Why?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shots Fired inside Canadian Parliament Building

Armed RCMP officers head towards the Langevin Block on Parliament Hill

          Just hours after Canada raised its terror threat level responding to another attack on a Canadian soldier, two soldiers on guard at a war memorial in Ottawa came under fire from a man carrying a rifle. One of the soldiers, Cpl Nathan Cirilo died of his injuries. The shooter then continued into the Parliament building, where he engaged in a shootout with police during which he was shot dead. The city was placed on lock down immediately after the shooting. While it is not confirmed, it is likely that these attacks are related to Canada's decision to join a U.S. led coalition against ISIS.

           Prime Minister Steven Harper said the attacks would only strengthen the Canadian resolve and their fight against terrorism. He was quoted saying that there was "[The terrorists] will have no safe haven". In a telephone call, Barack Obama reaffirmed the alliance between the two nations and condemned the attacks.

Questions: ISIS has threatened multiple attacks on North America and other nations who are in the US led coalition. Is this the first of many attacks on North America? How can the U.S. and other allies help prevent attacks similar to this one?

Latinos angry with the lack of immigration reform may sit out during midterm elections, hurting Democrats.

Latinos upset with the lack of immigration reform passed and created during Obama's second term threaten to avoid the polls this midterm election in November, because they feel that no matter who is elected, the politicians will ultimately ignore the Latino demographic's interests. In the article by Mark A. Barabak from the LA Times(ARTICLE HERE), he cites that Obama failed to do the overhaul he promised back in 2012 to push immigration reform even "acting without congress if necessary".

By losing the vote of Latinos, a very Democratic leaning group, the Democratic party will have a harder time holding onto the Senate, limiting losses in the House, and winning gubernatorial seats in various states. Latinos are upset because they feel Obama has broken promises made to their community. (But that's not unlike many other politicians who promise reform! Amirite?) There seems to be a tinge of irony to the Latino sentiment however; I would argue that by deciding to not vote in midterm elections, the likelihood of having immigration reform passed anytime soon is meek because the Latino vote is vital to the success of many Democratic candidates running for congress. Obama responded to criticism by saying that Latino activists and lawmakers must 'talk to [their] constituents and communities and [they] got to get [Latinos] to go out and vote'.

Food for thought:

In your opinion, what else on the Democratic agenda takes precedence over immigration reform?

Do you think this may cause some Latino voters to defect to a Republican candidate who is able to garner their attention?

Do you think Latino voters are being irrational by not voting in the midterm elections or are their grievances a rational reason to abstain?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

American Jeffrey Fowle Released From North Korea and Flies Home on US Jet

PHOTO: Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press

       Just weeks after rumors of a possible coup in North Korea following Kim Jong Un's mysterious disappearance from the public eye, the country abruptly released one of three Americans currently held in North Korea. Jeffrey Fowle, shown above, was awaiting trial on charges of proselytizing (attempting to convert someone from one belief to another) after he left a Bible in a nightclub in Chongjin. A Defense Department airplane landed in Pyongyang's International Airport to carry Fowle out of the country. While the release of Fowle was welcomed by the State Department, it also urged North Korea to release the two other Americans currently being held: Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller. Kenneth Bae is a former Korean-American missionary who was detained after suspicions that he was fueling anti government activity. Miller was convicted of espionage. The North Korean supreme court ruled that he entered North Korea in an attempt to experience prison life and get an inside look at North Korea's human rights violations, and sentenced Miller to 6 years of hard labor. 

PHOTO: A United States Air Force passenger jet, right, is parked in Pyongyang, North Korea

             Since the U.S. does not currently have any sort of diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden was largely responsible for negotiating Fowle's release. 

Questions: What are some possible reason for the release of Fowle? Is North Korea possibly trying to improve relations with the U.S. after Kim Jong Un's apparent health issues?

Does this release signal a possible change in North Korea's foreign policy, or will they continue their annual antics and threaten more nuclear launches?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Costumes Are Sexualizing Our Youngest Trick-Or-Treaters
halloween costumes
(Courtesy of Raina Delisle, Huffington Post, Halloween Costumes Are Sexualizing Our Youngest Trick or Treaters, October 18th,
As Halloween season heats up and children and all over the country begin picking what they would like to dress up as for this spooky holiday, Raina Delisle a writer at the Huffington Post, wrote an article about why she is fed up with the way Halloween costumes seem to objectify even the youngest age group of trick-or-treaters.
According to Delisle, when she went to pick out a firefighter costume with her 4 year old daughter she was appalled with the female costume because it over sexualized preschoolers. The boys' costume constituted a traditional bright red jacket, complete with a plastic hat and fake axe, while the female costume was a short, black, shimmery, most likely flammable, dress and a lacey, miniature hat (pictures of both costumes are included above). Delisle is upset with the image this conveys to young women and stated that: ''while boys have costumes that look like the real thing, girls are expected to dress up in spoof ensembles, thus suggesting that they can't, or shouldn't do the real job'' (Huff Post, Raina Delisle). Personally, I believe this isn't an over exaggeration or just another part of the "feminist agenda", but that these costumes do hurt the self-esteem and confidence of young girls. I think young girls shouldn't be mocked for aspiring to professional and serious careers such as nursing and police work just because those careers have been over sexualized by the media.
When was the last time you saw a firewoman rescuing a burn victim in a sequined skirt? Never. So why do we allow this image to pervade the minds of our youth?
Do you think that the upset over these costumes is rational? Or is it all just an over reaction to something very harmless?
What do you think of these particular costumes?

Any personal experiences which helps support or refute the idea that Halloween costumes influences self-confidence?

Riot Breaks Out at New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival

Many people in the Bay Area are familiar with the annual Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival which took place this past weekend. Typically, the only complaint associated with this annual festival relates to the horrible traffic on Hwy 92 and, if that doesn't phase you, the sea of humanity that greets you at the festival itself. Compared to the Keene Pumpkin Festival in New Hampshire this past weekend, I'd say Half Moon Bay doesn't look so bad after all this time of year. The Keane Festival ended with tear gas, street fires, and at least 49 arrests in a quiet town of around 23,000. The annual pumpkin festival is one of the biggest events all year for the town of Keane, drawing as many as 70,000 people. If anything, these riots have certainly given the Keene Police Department something to do and potentially the first real reason to play with their new toy, yes one of these...

which they applied for and received in late 2012 citing "terrorist attacks" on their annual pumpkin festival as the reason that they needed to spend $285,933 on this armored monstrosity. This armored beast, which was ironically made fun of a few months ago on HBOs Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (7:20) for being extremely excessive, proved useful, but still extremely unnecessary. Now rather than focus on the events at the pumpkin festival itself, which amount to little more than excessively intoxicated college students running wild in the streets, I think the real issue at hand here is militarization of the police. Should small towns in New Hampshire be allowed to spend upwards of $285,000 on a military grade SWAT vehicle when, outside of this weekend's events, they have about as much use for them as the Town of Hillsborough (which fittingly has a SWAT vehicle of its own)?

Has police militarization gone too far?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

US Drops Supplies to Help Kurdish Fighters in Syria

The U.S. military has delivered weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies to Kurds in the Kobani area of Northern Syria in an attempt to help fend off the Islamic State's attempt to take the city. This came after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, ""it would be very, very wrong to expect [the Turkish government] to openly say 'yes' to our NATO ally America giving this kind of support. To expect something like this from us is impossible." Additionally, Turkey has begun to stop activists from EU countries to bring supplies, including food and medicine, into the area. But despite this apparent lack of support, Turkey has hosted more than 1 million refugees from the area, including about 400,000 from Kobani. The town of Kobani has been seen as a strategic point in this conflict and could serve as either a major victory for the Islamic State or a huge setback should the US led anti-Islamic State coalition push them back.

What is your opinion on US involvement in this conflict?
Should the US continue to supply the Kurds or give support through other means?
Should Turkey provide more support?

X-37B Lands, Pentagon Currently Quiet

(BBC (2))

After two years in orbit on its 3rd voyage the Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle landed back in California on the 17th of October, 2014. This vehicle, "resembling a miniature space shuttle"(1) is the possession of the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office and, according to officials from the previously stated organization, was being used to preform '''risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies'''(1), however the craft's purpose remains a article of speculation. It has been theorized in the past that the craft's real mission was to shadow China's national space station, the Tiangong, as its flight path was closely correlated to that of the Tiangong(2). The craft's mission has come into question for primarily over its designated orbit ,which is lower than that of most satellites and circles "with an inclination of 42.79 degrees with respect to the equator"(2), compared to the usual military craft "orbit that circles the poles"(2)

Do you feel it is really necessary to question this craft's purpose? If so, what may the military's purpose be for initiating such a project, and why would they feel the necessity to return the craft to Earth if it really was being used for an undisclosed purpose?

The best college admissions essay ever!

A classic of the genre from Paul Rudnick of the New Yorker.

Remember that any comments made in the thread will be read by your admissions officers. A clever, ironically-detached, self-aware, or humble and understanding response might help you. All other comments could become the biggest regret of your young life.

Hong Kong protests: Leader says 'external forces' involved

In a recent TV interview, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the recent protests in his country were "not entirely a domestic movement, as external forces are involved". Mr. Leung did not give any further details such as names of countries he suspects are playing a role in the movement. These statements are in agreement with those last week made by the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper which ran an article accusing the US of being involved in the protests. The leaders of the protest have denied these claims and many analysts believe that Mr. Leung's comments were more of a warning to foreign government action rather than a response. While the number of protesters has decreased in recent days, this movement is still very much ongoing.

With the United States poor track record of involvement in foreign conflict in recent years, I am doubtful that the US, or any other western power, would want to get involved in this conflict especially because it could risk damaging an economic relationship with China. Though the implications of foreign involvement would be huge, it is most likely that Mr. Leung's comments were simply to try to warn foreign powers or disrupt protester moral and call into question this "grassroots" movement.

What do you think the likelihood of foreign involvement is in these protests? In the future?
How much longer will these protests continue?
Will the Chinese Government or the protesters be the first to concede?

Brittany Maynard's Courageous Choice to Die

Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January (barley a year after she married her husband), finding out that she had about six months to live.  She was told that she would have a very long and painful six months.  So instead of sitting in agony waiting for death, she has decided to take her life in her own hands and commit to a physician assisted suicide.  She has moved to Oregon where PAS is legal and has prepared her last day on earth.  She has decided to pass soon after her husbands birthday, has picked the music, room, and the people she wants to spend it with.  The heartbreaking decision is being taken about as well as it can be from her loved ones.  Although it destroys them that Brittany will be gone soon, they say that she is making the best decision for her.  Living life to the fullest and then ending it when she's ready is better than waiting until the cancer squeezes the life out of her.  Being diagnosed at the young age of 29 makes this story even more tragic, but the promise her mother made her sheds a little bit of light.  Her mother has promised to go to Machu Picchu, a place that she is terrified to go, as long as Brittany meets her there in spirit.  Having the physician assisted suicide has brought peace among the family because they know that she will not suffer before she dies.  Brittany says, "Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain."

Physician assisted suicide is only legal in five US states.  Oregon being one of them had 71 PASs last year, almost all of the people being over the age of 70.  To prevent people from abusing PAS, patients must show pain, legitimate depression, and be approved by a physician in order to apply.  Some say that life is too precious to just be thrown away and that PAS is unethical.  I believe that PAS is most ethical option.  We euthanize our pets to "take them out of their misery" so why don't we get the same out?  Life is important but so is liberty.  People have the right to make their own decisions and say when enough is enough.

What do you think of PAS?
Is Brittany Maynard making the right decision?
Is it fair to her family?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Columbus Day or Indig

While on college tours on Monday, I was reveling in the fact that there was no school when I came across these neon signs protesting the celebration of the man who had given us a day off.  Columbus was known for sailing the ocean blue and discovering America, but given the fact that he killed Indians and took their land has people weary about celebrating him.  Starting this year, Seattle and Minneapolis are no longer celebrating Columbus Day, but are instead celebrating Indigenous People's Day.  Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant says, "Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice ... allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day,".  Berkeley, California celebrated Indigenous People's day in 1992 before it was cool.  Although some people are offended by celebrating Columbus day, others are offended by the thought of not celebrating the holiday.  Italian-Americans are angered that their heritage is not being appreciated.  Lisa Marchese, a lawyer affiliated with the Order Sons of Italy in America says, "By this resolution, you say to all Italian-Americans that the city of Seattle no longer deems your heritage or your community worthy of recognition."  It seems that no matter what happens, it is impossible for everyone to be happy.

I believe that Indigenous People's day should be celebrated.  They have suffered more social injustice than imaginable and they deserve a day of reverence.  According to the United Nations General Assembly, International Day of the World's Indigenous People Day has been on August 9th since 1994.  So let's acknowledge that day and really recognize indigenous people.  That being said, I believe that we should still celebrate Columbus Day as well.  Although Columbus did not have great regard for the Indian people and he was the cause of so much pain, suffering and death among the Native Americans, he also was the cause for so much hope and growth.  Without Columbus, America would not be here today and billions of dreams would not have been made.  Columbus might not have "discovered" the land, but he did discover America.  We owe all of this to him, so why not celebrate him and the indigenous people.

Do you think we should celebrate one or the other?

Supreme Court Clears Way for Texas to Enforce Voter ID Law


This Saturday, the supreme court ruled that it would permit Texas to enforce its new voter ID law that could prevent up to 5% of the states registered voters from casting a ballot. The court's 6-3 ruling, which failed to rule on the constitutionality of the law, allows Texas to begin enforcing this controversial law as early as the upcoming November elections. This all became possible a year ago after Chief Justice John Roberts nullified the part of the famous Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had prevented Southern states with a history of racial discrimination from changing their voting rules in a way that would make it harder for blacks or Latinos to cast a ballot, citing it as an "affront to states' equal sovereignty." Judge Nelva Ramos, in an October 9 ruling in a Texas Court, stated that , "While this is not an absolute barrier to voting, it could and likely will stand in way of tens of thousands of fully qualified voters."

It will be interesting to see if this ruling will pave the way for other states to enforce Voter ID laws like those in Texas, which many consider to be a violation of the 24th Amendment which abolished poll taxes. In the mean time, the Supreme Court has taken its stance and shown that it will do little to protect the right to vote in the courts.

-Are voter ID laws a violation of the 24th Amendment?
-Do you agree with the Court's decision in the Texas Voter ID law case?
-Should the Supreme Court do more to protect the right to vote?

Texas Hospital: "We are deeply sorry"

Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, has recently released statements about the miss handling of the Ebola situation.  When Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who had taken care of his infected daughter flew to Dallas for treatment, he collapsed and was taken to the hospital.   Two caregivers on the team that treated Duncan, have since been infected by the virus.  One of the nurses traveled on a plane to Cleveland while unknowingly contagious, so many of the other passengers have been isolated and are on observation for Ebola symptoms.  Schools surrounding the area have also shut down as a precaution since many of the students were on the flight to Cleveland with the nurse.  Varga has apologized for the chaos and disorganization, “unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team we made mistakes.” He added: “We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry.”  Some nurses say that the symptoms were not diagnosed correctly because they were not given correct training or prep for controlling the situation.  The patient was exposed to other patients for a period of time until he was moved to an isolated space, the nurses were not wearing any shoe, leg or neck covers, and they were only wearing single gloves.  The nurses received optional  or no training at all.   Many nurses have said that Ebola has not been treated seriously enough from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  A local bridal shop that the nurse went to a couple days before she was hospitalized asked for instruction from the center, but got a seemingly unconcerned answer.  They were told to continue buisness as usual only to be called back a couple hours later with a suggestion to check the staff's temperature twice a day for twenty one days.  The bridal shop owner says that she believes they are not taking a serious threat seriously.  

I believe that although Ebola is only transmittable through bodily fluids, it should be taken seriously and with extra caution.  Hospitals should be providing mandatory training for their staff, nurses should not be allowed to travel on planes right now, and anyone who may have contracted the virus or has been with anyone who has should undergo observation for symptoms.  This virus has a 70% death rate and needs to be treated as a serious threat.  Obama has cancelled multiple trips to oversee the Ebola response.  He continually warns other nations to prepare and protect themselves from the spread of this terrible virus.  

How do you think Texas is handling Ebola?
Do the schools need to be shut down?
Should we just lock ourselves in our homes at this point?