Saturday, November 28, 2009

Antidepressants and Adolescents

In the past few years, there has been a heated debate over the safety and efficiency of antidepressant use in adolescents. But in our society today, researchers are finding that antidepressants are doing more good than harm. Studies are now stating that the bigger risk is not taking antidepressants when the teen is depressed or suicidal (Segal 1-2).

An antidepressant is a psychiatric medication used to alleviate mood disorders, such as depression. Medication commonly used to treat teenage depression are; Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Prozac. These drugs help elievate the uncomfortable, disturbing and even disabling effects of depression. But the biggest benefit a teen can get from taking antidepressants is the prevention of suicide.

Despite the apparent benefits, the controversy still remains. Do antidepressants increase the suicide rate in the teen population? In 2004, the FDA released a report stating that when teens were being treated with antidepressants, the rates of suicidal thoughts and actions increased in some of the teens. The same report stated that a large study found that the rates of suicidal thoughts increased, but none of the participants actually committed suicide (Baune 2). Conversely, in 2005 the Journal of the American medical association released a report looking at suicide rates in antidepressants. They found that between the years 2001 and 2003, more teens were being treated with antidepressants than ever before, yet this did not correlate with the number of suicides. In fact, there was not an increase of suicide rates at all during the years 2001 to 2003 (Baune 1).

Benefits a teen can obtain from taking antidepressants greatly outweigh the setbacks. Antidepressants are a proven treatment for depression, which can also lead to the prevention of suicide. All though this debate is two sided, the risks of leaving depression untreated is greater than uncommon risks that come with taking the antidepressant.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Convienient Truth

Life without oil is improbable. We use many byproducts from petroleum to power our economy and individual based items we use every day; from house hold disinfectants to fuel for our transportation. We are a society based on oil and have been since we first discovered oil in the united states. Today the United States consumes about 24% of the oil produced in a day while the second leading oil consumer, china, is at 9% a day (Oil). Many believe that the consumption of oil is exceeding what the environment can withstand in terms of green house gases and are looking toward government to step in. However the evidence to support this over dramatized matter of Anthropogenic Global Warming is completely bogus.

Recently, the head scientists leading the Anthropogenic Global Warming ideology, has been proven fraud by an unknown internet hacker who released 61 megabytes of confidential files from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (Climategate). Through these released suggest: "Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organized resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more" (Climategate). This scandal that created the manipulation and exaggeration of the climate change of the world is known as Climategate, which is the biggest scandal in the history of the scientific community of our age. Who can be trusted to tell us what is happening, if not the scientists?

Most data supporting the AGW theory has come through Climategate scientists and has been exaggerated or pulled out of thin air based on speculations. One example of a bogus evidence is the tree-ring theory which is said to prove climate change. The tree-ring theory is derived from scientists connected with Climategate which basically says that the rings in trees are in direct correlation with the climate and Carbon Dioxide levels from a study done on THREE trees from Siberia; proven false just recently by studies done on other forestry. Though the scientists knew their evidence was false, they proclaimed that the truthfulness of their evidence directly to the media of the world and through Al gore who proclaim an "immediate freeze" of greenhouse gases (After).

"Supporting" data for the actually climate change has almost been made up. Through the last 20 years the climate change has not constantly risen and has" worried" the Climategate scientists. In one hacked email, it proclaims to have tampered with data to "hid" the decline"(Climategate). The actually email states, "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline"(Climategate).

Life without our precious fossil fuels is improbable and cannot be expected to last forever. However, that does not mean it cannot be used and therefore should be used until it society deems it invaluable. The greenhouse gases that are given off by the burning of fossil fuels has no affect on the environment and does not cause any sort of Global Warming. In reality, what evidence does the government have to pass "Global Warming bills" which are meant to "help" the environment? None, the government is included in Climategate scandal designing bogus bills to "help" the environment when all the tax payer money is sent to other fields completely separate from a green environment strategy.

~DasLamm~

http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/27550383/climategate-probe.htm

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Should Nebraska Raise the Driving Age?

There are many milestones. One milestone that most teenagers look forward to is their sixteenth birthday. Most celebrate this milestone receiving a car and the ability to drive it alone, meaning without a licensed guardian. However, many politicians are trying to make these waiting teens wait even longer, by increasing the minimum age a teenager may obtain a full driver license. On top of having a longer wait to get a full license, politicians are placing restrictions on young drivers.
Although Nevada was one of the last states to place restrictions on young drivers, in 2006, it has the some of the strictest laws to prevent reckless driving by teens. Some of their laws include a 10 p.m. curfew, fifty hours of supervised driving, and for three months the new driver is prohibited to transport any passengers. An eighteen percent drop in teenage collisions has proven the new laws successful and helpful in the effort to prevent teenage reckless driving.
New Jersey, so far, is the only state to raise the minimum driving age. Instead of sixteen, teenagers now must wait one more year until they can begin driving unsupervised. New Jersey has seen a great drop in the number of fatal teen crashes. In a 1992-1996 study between neighboring states New Jersey and Conneticut, Connecticut, with its minimum driving age of sixteen, had twenty fatal crashes for every one hundred thousand drivers. While, New Jersey on had four fatal crashes for every one hundred thousand drivers, with its seventeen minimum driving age. So a new sixteen year-old driver in Connecticut is five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a new seventeen year-old driver in New Jersey. The study also showed that, after a graduated license law was passed, the percent of fatal crashes decreased thirty-three percent in New Jersey.
A factor that congress is taking into consideration is distractions a driver faces. Now, 21 states and the District of Colombia have strict laws forbidding new drivers to use their cell phones to text and talk while driving. A young driver is already distracted with other things, such as the radio or rowdy passengers, they don't need more distractions. While texting and driving a teenager is not focusing on the task at hand, which is to get to point A to point B. Cell phones are already considered a driving distraction to most driver, they are even more distracting to teenagers. The risk of being in a fatal crash is doubled when a young driver has one teenage passenger in the car with them. The risk is increased to five times when a teenage driver has two of more teenage passengers in the car.
Some auto makers are helping with reckless driving. Next year, in 2010, Ford Motor Company will feature a new technology that will help keep reckless driving by teenagers low. A special chip inserted in the key will help parents set a maximum speed limit the teenage driver may travel. The chip can also set a volume limit on the audio system and alert the driver when they aren't wearing their seat belt and pass the speed of forty-five, fifty-five, and sixty-five miles per hour. The new technology will debut in the 2010 model of the Ford Focus. Some scientists have also created a new chip that can be plugged into any car. The chip records mileage, speeds traveled, and any sudden starts or stops. It will also record if the driver unplugs the chip.
I think allowing teens to drive at the age of fourteen is way too young. I think the Nevada driving laws are the best, except for the 10 p.m. curfew. Some of my activities don't even let out at 10. I think if Nebraska was to change the age one could get a driver licenses, seventeen would be better than the age of eighteen. Some kids don't even graduate at eighteen, which would make getting to school difficult if a bus didn't come in close proximity to one's house. I think it is up the parents to decide if their child is ready to drive and teach safe driving. Some of my friends have cameras in their cars which help them drive more responsibly because whatever they do, their parents will see it.
-Cap N Crunch

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Should the US use Peacetime Conscription?

Since the ratification of the US Constitution, the Federal Government has had the power to "provide for the common defense."  This has been clearly stated in the preamble of the US Constitution.  Over the years, the government has proven to have the power to draft in order to keep the military a force to be reckoned with.  What is interesting, however, is that the government has only used this power to draft in times of emergency, such as war.  Why do they only use the draft during times of war?  One policy the government should enact is peacetime conscription.  This is when every male citizen would have to serve two years in the US military, regardless if there is a war or not.  Peacetime conscription should be considered because the military is weakening, it is historically beneficial, and it would provide jobs and an increase in patriotism.  Though this policy may seem irrational on the surface, in reality, it would be very beneficial to national security and the country as a whole.

First of all, historically, peacetime conscription has been used before.  In France, Emperor Napoleon I instituted the policy during his reign in the early 1800s.  Also, Switzerland has used the policy of peacetime conscription for many years.  To this day, when a Swiss male turns twenty, he must go into fifteen weeks of basic training.  The peacetime draft has worked before, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to implement in the US.

The draft would also give the armed forces extra support, support that is badly needed by the US military.  Since the USSR's collapse in 1991, America has been the world's only true superpower.  Unfortunately, that is changing rather quickly.  Currently, China has the world's largest military, with 2.84 million military personnel.  Other potential enemies of the United States have been increasing their military power.  One would think that with so many countries increasing the size of their militaries, the US would also increase their armed forces' size.  In reality, if anything, America's military has been weakening.  For example, according to defense journalist Mark Pizzo, "The Navy was 6,892 people short, the Army was 2,300 short of its 1999 recruiting goal, and the Air Force and Marines have had to give raises and lower standards to keep enough personnel."  Since then, the US military has downsized even more.  The peacetime draft would take some of the stress of recruiting off the backs of the different military branches, and provide them with the numbers needed to execute the tasks needed to maintain world stability.

Peacetime conscription would not just aid the military, but our nation could reap social benefits with this policy also.  This would help provide jobs, because everyone eligible would have a guaranteed job for the two years they serve in the military.  If they enjoyed it, they could make the military a career.  Especially in a time of high unemployment, this option of serving in the military would be beneficial to the US economy.  Also, after World War II, most of the draftees used the GI bill to go back to school and pursue a higher education.  The current GI bill is almost as accessible as the WWII GI bill.  This would mean that draftees leaving the military could use those benefits to go to college and pursue a better education.

I realize that many think the policy of peacetime conscription is unorthodox and unnecessary.  I realize that there is a very good chance that this blog post will get bombarded with negative comments about this idea, and that's okay.  I'm not even completely convinced that this is a great idea.  What I'm trying to do is put some light on an idea that most Americans aren't aware of.  Regardless of what one thinks about this policy, one thing's for sure, it would be very interesting to see how this policy would affect the American culture.
 
Mister T

White House State Dinner

Catholics and Abortion

Monday, November 23, 2009

The United States and Independent Energy

The United States and Independent Energy
Life without cars is impossible. As Americans we commute to work, run errands, and take vacations several times a year. Each time we get in a car, we rely on a source of energy: oil. Our dependence on this fuel source leaves us vulnerable to environmental, economic, and political issues that need to be addressed. To bring about change with alternative fuels and energy independence raises questions and concerns such as: Would there be a significant impact if the United States were to switch from petroleum to clean fuel sources like wind and solar? And what ramifications would there be on the global economy? The problem we as Americans have to solve is obtaining energy sources that are reasonably priced, easily accessed and used in the world we live in.
Each day the United States imports approximately 13 million barrels of oil, which is 60% of the oil we use (Energy Information Adminstration). This oil comes from foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Canada, and Mexico, some of which are unwelcoming to America or actively anti-American. These facts pose a real problem when it comes to our energy security. After all, this does leave part of our economy vulnerable to the foreign nations that supply the United States. The obvious solution to this problem would be to turn to alternative fuels such as ethanol, wind, solar, or hydrogen powered fuel cells (Energy Information Adminstration). These solutions, I believe, are too often overlooked.
Taking a closer look at the renewable sources of energy, many would argue that renewable energy sources is the future for energy independence. In a matter of three minutes, enough sunlight reaches the earth to meet our energy needs for one month (Gibson). The potential in solar energy is largely unrealized and not further developed. If the United States were to coat its highways with solar photon-electron material it could create a power stream to power electric engines in cars, directly reducing the need for oil by exponential proportions (Gibson). Reliance on fossils fuels for automotive power is the central hindrance on our budget. The Obama administration currently supports means for creating and producing clean energy. An example of this are the new solar companies subsidized by the national government in California. The restrictions on becoming totally reliant on alternative fuels lies in the cost of bringing about these changes, just as oil continues to pressure our current budget.
The application of new technologies to make oil consuming items such as cars more efficient would make a pivotal impact on the United States consumption of oil. Improving energy efficiency will not only reduce energy use but the green house gas emissions as well. Technologies involving solar or electric powered engines in cars could potentially drop CO2 emissions 28% below what they were in 2005 according to a study led by McKinsey and Company (Roberts). In addition, saving energy is less expensive than making it. Since transportation takes up 95% of crude oil consumption, making energy efficient cars, trains, and planes is fastest way to cut oil use (Roberts). In the 2007 energy bill, standard mpg for automobiles rose from 25 to 35. This increase will cut our oil imports by 3.6 million barrels a day by the year 2030 (Roberts). If car manufacturers were to switch to plug-in hybrid cars, oil imports would decrease by 9 million barrels a day by the same time (Roberts). That's about a 70% decrease just by changing the technology we use with the same energy source, oil.
It is obvious to see, that without the implications of new technology, the energy crisis will continue to spiral out of control. With such great potential to create clean, efficient energy, the prospects for the future can be exponential if these new technologies are put into action. The United States as a whole would not only be able to radically change this nation, but the entire world by distributing the methods for producing efficient energy.

-Sweats-

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More School?

There are three hundred and sixty five days in a year. From this most students in the United States spend about an average of one hundred and eighty days in school. Recently President Obama proposed that he would like to make summer vacations shorter and the school year longer. He also said he would like to keep schools open later and on the weekend so students can always have a safe place to go (Anita Gutierrez-Folch).
The United States school calendar is based on an agrarian economy, meaning that it is based on the farming calendar. Obama stated that this calendar does not affect us any longer and "We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day". In many countries all around the world, children are spending on average more than 25% additional time in the classroom every day (Libby Quaid). The President feels that American children need to spend more time in school to keep up with the children of the other countries. Another problem reported is that after summer vacation much time is spent reviewing topics students forget over the summer.
The President's proposal over this issue has caused people all over the United States to have mixed reactions. Parents who do not agree with the proposal feel that it would take away from family time at home (Libby Quaid). Longer school days would also cut into the extracurricular activities that are so prevalent in many American children's lives such as sports, music lessons, club activities, and even jobs. People have also said this will just increase the stress on American students, many who are already leading high stress academic and personal lives. Plus having more school would increase the cost with more money needed for teachers, support staff, and building maintenance just to name a few (Anita Gutierrez-Folch).
Americans who do agree with the proposal say that cutting summer vacation will make it so teachers won't have to spend so much time at the beginning of each school year reviewing what students learned the year before because they forgot it (Libby Quaid). Many also feel year round school and/or longer school days will benefit the majority of American families and children who now come from homes where both parents are working and so therefore there is no one at home to support and supervise the children at the end of the school day. Many younger children especially are already staying longer hours in school participating in various after school care programs. Above all, those in favor of the proposal feel that for the youth of America to be able to compete and work successfully in the global market today the USA must change its school system to equal that of other powerhouse nations.
Whether President Obama is able to make any of his proposed changes take place during his years in office remain to be seen. He is not the person to suggest these changes or to start dialog about this topic. As a high student myself I can only hope these changes do not happen before I graduate.



- Icecube


Works Cited
Anita Gutierrez-Folch. "Obama Pushes for More School, Less Vacation." FindingDulcinea | Online Guides | Internet Library | Web Resources. Web. Nov. 2009.
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QUAID, LIBBY. "Kids beware: Obama would cut summer break |." KOMO News. Web. Nov. 2009.
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American Energy Dependence

"Energy is the single most important problem facing humanity today — not just the U.S., but also worldwide."  This quote is from Nobel Laureate, Dr. Richard Smalley.  While energy is a problem worldwide, it is a huge problem for the United States.  The United States of America makes up about five percent of the world's population, yet the country uses around twenty-six percent of the world's oil supply.  Most of the oil is imported from other places.  This causes both economic and security issues for our country.  It would be extremely beneficial, in many ways, for our country to gain more energy independence.

The United States consumes massive amounts of oil daily and yearly.  Seventy percent of all U.S. oil consumption is for transportation.  Sixty-five percent of that is for personal vehicles.  American drivers consume around nine million barrels of oil per day.  Those nine million barrels are almost half of the twenty million barrels the United States uses daily.  America imports nearly ten million barrels of crude oil every day and sixty percent of that comes from OPEC.    

OPEC stands for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.  This organization includes the countries of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, and Gabon.  All countries are foreign and some we have even been, or are currently, at war with.  America spends more than twenty-five billion dollars a year importing from the Persian Golf.  Due to the United States' overwhelming need for foreign oil, there has been growth in the country's economic and political vulnerability. 

            With the amount of money that the United States spends on foreign energy, especially in the Middle East, it is hard not to think that at least some of that money is going towards dictators and groups that dislike our country.  When America deals with these countries, we trade our wealth for their oil.  This gives these angry dictators and groups more money.  If the U.S. stopped trade with these countries, it would cut off a lot of money from eventually making it to possibly terroristic associations.

            The United States has become a customer of OPEC and other oil companies in the Middle East and Africa.  As an extremely large customer, the business would have a hard time trying to stop selling oil to America.  If the United States, however, stopped buying the oil, it

could most likely cripple a business.  The U.S. is a major revenue source of the oil industry and it would be a gigantic loss for the other companies.  Without the money that the countries make from America, they would be reduced to very small importance.

            Because the United States of America is so dependent on foreign nations for energy, it allows those nations to influence our economy.  We buy massive amounts of oil per day, which we hope that money doesn't come back to hurt us in some way.  But also, by depending on OPEC and other countries for energy, the United States allows them to determine how much the oil will cost.   Barack Obama said that we must become independent because, "it puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation, and sets back our ability to compete."  American Presidents, however, have been promising energy independence since Nixon promised to be independent by the end of the 1970s.  Now, still, today, President Obama is coming up with a new plan.

-Hulk Hogan

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Change in Policy

National security is a big issue in the United States especially after the reminder of the September 11 attacks with the trials of alleged terror suspects.  This tragedy awakened a new sense of unity among the American people as well as instilling a new fear of outside threats.  With this fear the national government took steps to further the country's security including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.  Another step taken by the president of the time, George W. Bush, was the creation of a missile defense program based in Europe to protect against missile threats from Iran.  Early September our current president Barack Obama eliminated this program set up under the Bush administration and is currently under fire for this decision.

            President Bush's plan was to create a base in Poland for interceptor missiles and radar stations in the Czech Republic. The basis of President Obama's decision to scrap the program was that Iran did not possess the ability to launch a missile that would endanger the United States or its European allies.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended the decision by stating that the threat of long-range missiles from Iran was not as immediate as previously feared.  Instead of Bush's proposed plan the new policy under the Obama administration would be as follows: "a redesigned system based on mobile land and sea-based interceptors [that] would be cheaper and more effective against the region's greatest missile threat, Iran.  The new system would focus on mobile medium and short-range missiles, rather than longer-range threats." These are the words of Mr. Gates when asked by US News Weekly to describe the new program.

            The new plan has strong opponents in the Republican Party including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former presidential nominee John McCain.  Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said, "This is going to be seen as a capitulation to the Russians, who had no real basis to object to what we were doing.  And at the end of the day you empowered the Russians, you made Iran happy, and you made the people in Eastern Europe wonder who we are as Americans".  Senator McCain made a statement saying "This decision calls into question the security and diplomatic commitments the United States has made to Poland and the Czech Republic, and has the potential to undermine perceived American leadership in Eastern Europe.  Given the serious and growing threats posed by Iran's missile and nuclear programs, now is the time when we should look to strengthen our defenses, and those of our allies".  The United States cannot afford to be seen as a weaker country with the new program in effect, especially by removing the program with the approval of Russia.  Strength in Europe for both the U.S.'s sake and that of our allies is of vital importance to keep potential threats from Iran at bay.  Reputation can be a major factor in the way someone, or in this case a country, is perceived by their opponents. 

            The entire situation and string of events eventually boils down to the truth in the statement regarding our safety from missile attacks from Iran.  In May of 2009 Iran launched a new long-range missile showing the strength of their nuclear program.   The missile was a Sejjil-2 surface-to-surface missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers or nearly 1,250 miles, which is far enough to reach Israel, Eastern Europe, and U.S. bases in the Middle East.  The range is similar to that of their Shabab-3 missile, which is suspected to have been designed for carrying a nuclear warhead.  This missile is the longest-range solid-propellant missile launched by Iran thus far, raising governments officials concern as the to the sophistication of Tehran's missile program.  These types of rockets are of increased concern because they can be fueled in advance,moved and then hidden away.  So with this said how safe are we?

            There is a confirmed danger of attack from Iran with the launch of this missile earlier in the year.  Keeping that in mind, what are President Obama's intentions for changing a program that would protect us, and our allies, from such a threat?  Is he bowing down to political pressure from Russian leadership over their own concerns for their safety? Bush's administration had repeatedly quelled Russia's fears of attack from the U.S. so, as was stated by Senator Graham, this matter really was none of Russia's concern.  So then was the program changed just to save money? No American citizen can really approve of his or her safety being diminished just for a small budget cut.  President Obama and his Defense Secretary Robert Gates have a careful balancing act ahead of them.  Weighing safety with costs, and missile threats with appeasing other countries can be no small task.  Hopefully our president is up to the challenge of making the best decision in all regards to the missile defense program.

 

           
-Pirate For Hire
 

 

Skyrocketing National Debt

Eleven trillion, eight hundred thirty-nine billion, sixty-three million, one hundred fifty-one thousand, five hundred fifty-four dollars. The national debt of the United States reached that mark on September 20, 2009, and just continued climbing higher. Each day, millions more dollars are added to that value, causing it to increase at a rate not seen since WWII ("National Debt Graph").

To put $11.8 trillion into perspective: 11.8 trillion one dollar bills could be used to build the entire Pentagon without rooms, halls, or a central green space 4.2 times. It is also 14 times the amount of physical dollars currently in circulation worldwide ("How Currency Gets into Circulation").

With national debt currently at $11.8 trillion, each of the 300,000 residents of the United States owes about $38,477 of that debt. Interest accrues at a rate of $10,000each second for the debt held.

Why does the United States federal government owe nearly $12 trillion? The heart of the problem is the annual budget deficit caused when Congress spends more money than is returned as tax revenue. Any businessperson knows that constantly spending more than earnings should allow will lead to bankruptcy. For the U.S. government bankruptcy isn't possible; there are some debts too large to default on. Instead, growth will stagnate and financial collapse would ensue. Eventually, the United States would lose its hard-fought position as the world's singular superpower to another country, such as China, the largest holder of U.S. debt.

How can the cycle of debt be broken? Individual states, such as Nebraska require a balanced budget in their constitutions. In fact, there have been several attempts to amend the U.S. Constitution to include a balanced budget provision. Currently 32 states have petitioned for a Congressional Convention to develop an amendment since 1975. If two more states were to petition Congress, a convention would have to be held to discuss the matter.

At certain times a balanced budget would be impractical, such as during time of war. Provisions would be made to account for these exceptions. Eventually, an effort could be made to eliminate all debt held by the federal government. This would lead to a new era of American prosperity as it would allow for tax cuts.

One simple way of dealing with the issue is to phase out Social Security as it stands today. When the system was developed during the Great Depression, it was intended for only a select number of impoverished seniors. Today, millions rely on monthly checks to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Social Security could be reigned in by drastically reducing benefits for all those born after a certain date (to be set for one year following the passage of the law). However, their tax expectation would also be reduced to make up for the difference in benefits. This way, Social Security could once again act as a safety net for America's elderly, not as a wealth redistribution program.

Another valid method at reducing national debt and the tax burden would be to implement a flat tax; one that doesn't unfairly tax America's most successful. Apart from lessening the load, this change would also serve to greatly reduce the inefficiencies of the tax code by simplifying it.

Defense spending reform could also help to reduce the national debt as defense is the largest single budget item. A military that focused on reducing manpower needs and waste could save massive amounts of money. As technology continues to advance, the need for a large standing army will only decrease, allowing for the re-integration of members of the military into the general workforce and economy.

No matter how critical an issue, America has an infamous habit of procrastination. Unless some sort of balance is found within the next few years, a point of no return will be crossed. Once that happens, the United States will no longer be able to retain its position of global power and supreme authority that it has come to enjoy.

The issue of national debt requires conviction to make the difficult decision on the part of those in Washington. Both Congress and the President must work together to prevent the impending economic pitfall before time runs out.

An interesting debt clock: http://www.usdebtclock.org/#

-The Capitalist

Welcome Home

video

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Fate To Cruel

Let us start with a statistic 22% of males are raped during their time behind bars. This is an absolutely disturbing number. Obviously our current system is flawed. Regardless of their crime committed inmates do not deserve to be raped. It is estimated that over 300,000 instances of prison rape happen over the course of a year. While we all only think that its just inmates raping each other, it has actually leaked over to the security and prison staff that are the ones doing the raping in prison. One of five inmates has admitted to be sexually abused during their time in prison. This statistic does not include the millions that never report being raped. We need to take in all the horrifying accounts of grown forced to dress as woman and being forced into acting completely feminine. There is no plausible reason to not allow any legislation regarding prison rape to pass. Rape in prisons is a large cause of the spread of HIV/AIDS. While we did pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act, this is not enough. The only thing that act did was identify whom the rapist where but offered no prevention matters. 196,000 rapes in prison are estimated to happen to men and 123,000 estimated to have happen to men in county jail.(Compared to only an estimated 5,000 women) 40,000 are estimated to have been committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilitates. We need to bring these frightening numbers down. Regardless of an inmates crime they do not deserve this sexual abuse from their peers and the people put in power in order to "protect" them.

Rodney Hulin didn't deserve what happened to him. Rodney was 16 and small for his age when he committed a minor crime, setting a Dumpster on fire in an alley. Charged with arson, he was sentenced to an adult prison, where he was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted.
Officials ignored his written pleas for help. Prison staff brushed off his mother's attempts to protect her child. Unable to endure a life of constant torture, Rodney hanged himself in January 1996 – 75 days after entering prison. We need to work to prevent anything like what happened to poor Rodney. The only way of doing this is to work to reform our prison system. Otherwise we are only subjecting the people currently in our correctional system to the cruel and unusual punishment that our constitution prohibits us from enduring.  

~OVERtheUNDER~

Rep. Terry or Genentech?


Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb. — who joined more than 40 House members in using lobbyist-written speeches during the health care debate — said Monday that he would avoid that practice in the future.

A weekend New York Times article revealed the ghostwritten speeches, which related to specific provisions favored by biotechnology firm Genentech that were included in the health care legislation.

Monday, Terry stood by the substance of the speech but said that he would avoid lifting lobbyists' words in the future.

“I have been a longtime supporter of the biotechnology industry, which is important to Nebraska's future economic growth,” he said in a statement. “I felt the biotechnology provisions in the health care bill that were not being discussed were important to note. In the future, our office will make sure our words are clearly our own and not the result of cutting and pasting someone else's comments.”

Terry received a $1,000 campaign contribution earlier this year from the political action committee of Genentech's parent company, Swiss drug giant Roche. Terry's campaign also received two checks — one for $250 and one for $100 — from Genentech lobbyists working on the provisions in the health care bill, according to Terry's campaign manager Dave Boomer.

The contributions had nothing to do with Terry's use of the statement, Boomer said.

“These are individuals who are supportive of Lee's long-standing views on health care reform and encouraging job creation domestically in the bio industry,” Boomer said.

Terry wasn't the only one using the language Genentech had shopped around the hill. E-mails obtained by the New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats, another for Republicans.

The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress.

Genentech estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists.

Congress members submit statements for publication — to “revise and extend” floor remarks — in the Congressional Record all the time. It is unusual for so many to match word for word. It is even more unusual to find clear evidence that the words originated with lobbyists.

The statements were not intended to change the bill, which was not open for much amendment during the debate, but to show bipartisan support for certain provisions. “This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it,” said a lobbyist close to Genentech.

A lobbyist for Genentech had e-mailed a 427-word statement to Terry's office and suggested he put something similar into the Congressional Record.

“Madame Speaker, I have criticized many of the provisions of this bill and rightfully so,” the first paragraph started. “But in fairness, I do believe the sections relating to the creation of a market for biosimilar products is one area of the bill that strikes the appropriate balance in providing lower cost options to consumers without destroying a healthy and functioning industry in this country.”

Terry submitted those lines and others word-for-word, as if they were his own. Overall, he used about half of the statement sent by the lobbyist.

Nebraska State Sen. Tom White, a Democrat planning to run against Terry next year, was quick to use the ghostwriting revelations in a fundraising pitch.

“As the fate of health care reform hung in the balance, Lee Terry wasn't speaking for Nebraska families or small businesses. He was literally speaking for a special interest puppeteer,” White's fundraising pitch read.

Boomer responded by describing White as “Pelosi's puppet on big government health care.”

White also pointed out that Terry and Boomer both jumped on Terry's opponent in the last election, Democrat Jim Esch, when Esch was caught lifting material from a Brookings Institution report without attribution. Boomer was quoted at the time saying, “It's very disturbing to know that Mr. Esch and his staff cannot write a simple, well-documented article.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Should Papillion La Vista South Have a Condom Distribution Program?

Some students and teachers may be embarrassed or uncomfortable with the topic of sex and condoms, but that doesn't decrease its need to be addressed. Condoms are no doubt a practical way to protect sexually active teens from disease and unplanned pregnancy. Having a distribution program could make it easier for those teenagers to get condoms and possibly increase the use of condoms among teens having sex. However, some believe that the program would only add to the pressures teens are already facing to have sex.
 
There is one thing that advocates and opponents of condom distribution agree on: abstinence is the best way to prevent the spread of diseases and unplanned pregnancy. However, intense debate goes on about how a condom distribution program would affect teenagers. Opponents of the program believe that teens are exposed to pressures from the media which makes them feel like they are expected to have sex. A two-year study by the American Academy of Pediatrics supports this. The study showed that 12- to 14-year-olds who were exposed to sex through music, movies, television, and magazines were twice as likely to become sexually active within two years. Opponents believe that condom distribution contributes to this message that teenagers are expected to have sex.
 
Advocates, however, believe that exposure to a condom distribution program would not increase sexual activity. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2003 the percentage of students having sex in New York versus Nebraska are about equal, around 40-42 percent. New York has a condom distribution program, and Nebraska does not. But New York isn't more sexually active than Nebraska is. New York does, however, have a higher percentage of sexually active teens using condoms; in New York it is 10% higher than in Nebraska. So if anything, a condom distribution program promotes safe sex.
 
The difficult thing about this issue is that both arguments are legitimate. Each teenager will be affected differently. Some teens may think a program like this is a great idea, whereas others may feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. This is why a condom distribution program may be right for some schools but not others. For this reason, I believe the federal government should leave it up to the states. It may even be a decision given to the school boards.
 
Now is this a good idea for Papillion La Vista South? To determine this, I would suggest polling the student body. After all, the students know best how they would be affected by the program. The poll itself would be anonymous and have questions such as: Are you sexually active? Do you feel pressured by the media to have sex? If you are sexually active, do you use contraceptives? Do you think Papillion La Vista South should have a free condom distribution program? Would having a condom distribution program make you feel pressured to have sex?
 
Depending on answers to these questions, we can decide if the program would be a good thing for the school. What we cannot do is ignore the issue of teen pregnancy and disregard a possible solution that could benefit so many students.
 
~The Advocate

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Drug Legalization

There is a cry out for legalizing drugs from both liberals and conservatives. Most are torn between two options: legalizing/decriminalizing drugs, or escalating the war on drugs. There have already been efforts made by President Nixon and President Reagan that led to overcrowded prisons, racial disparity, and an increase of drug related crimes. So the real question is, since we've already tried, if we legalize drugs will it help out any, or will it just turn for the worst?

It's thought that if government legalizes drugs then all violence ties with drugs will disappear. The illegalization, of drugs, creates violence because their markets are driven underground. It leads to violence because buyers and sellers can not resolve disputes in courts, so they deal with arguments violently. Violence is the norm when dealing with drug situations. It was just as common when alcohol was prohibited, but violence ceased when legalized. Is it possible if drugs are legalized, then the violence tied in would end? People will say that drug users generally aren't violent. Most simply want to be left alone to enjoy their high.

"Drugs are not good or bad. Drugs are drugs, which humans have used to help or hurt themselves and others forever. At some point, government cannot afford to be a "super-parent" and instead should treat its citizens like adults who must make their own life choices and live with the consequences." (Hamilton) That statement is true. It is a person's choice to take drugs, but when they start to harm someone else under the influence of drugs, than it becomes a problem. Government believes if they legalize drugs, it will stop violence. It might stop some of the violence between the drug war, but what about the violence that goes on when the person is intoxicated? In the United States there are 20,308 deaths a year caused by people under the influence of drugs. Therefore it's quite simple, drugs cause violence. The people who commit crimes aren't necessarily committing a crime to get illegal drugs, but the drugs caused a violent behavior. Just think if drugs were legalized, more people could be on them, and more people could potentially be hurt.

Some people think that making drugs legal would make government back off of the subject. But really it seems it would make them press harder. If drugs were legalized, government would just have to make a new law for minors, just like they did for tobacco and alcohol. Because if cigarettes and alcohol cannot be sold to minors, there will have to be restrictions put on drugs also. In addition to the new laws, there would be numerous lawsuits. You can recall all the lawsuits that were brought to the tobacco companies, think of all the ones that would affect the new drug companies, if legalized. So it seems if drugs were legalized, government would play a bigger role than before.

Prohibiting drugs has been draining out people's wallets. State and local governments spend roughly $44 billion per year to enforce drug prohibition. The same governments, if legalized, would collect $33 billion per year just from tax revenue on legalized drugs.

I do believe permitting some drugs for medical reasons would be just, because there are drugs that would serve as a more adequate pain killer than others could. Terminally ill patients such as cancer and glaucoma don't always have strong enough pain killers. Since there is evidence of how effective it is, maybe the legalization of those drugs should be considered, but other than that I personally don't support the legalization of drugs.

I don't believe all drugs should be legalized, because as you all know drugs are not the safest. I think legalizing drugs would only stop violence to an extent. It may stop the violence in drug distribution, but I don't think it would stop the violence that goes on when a person is intoxicated. People could regulate that, but to what extent?

Mr. A-Z

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I pledge allegiance?

Every morning students across America dutifully recite the Pledge of Allegiance as a part of their average school day. However, some view this as an infringement of their rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment. They believe that the inclusion of the phrase "under God" diminishes their ability to choose for themselves or their children in religious maters. However, the vast majority of Americans, 91% according to a 2004 Gallup poll, support keeping "under God" in the Pledge. The establishment clause states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," but there is no law forcing people to recite the Pledge and parents could legally intervene and prevent their children from participating in teacher-led recitations. Also, there is technically no reference to any one specific god, effectively encapsulating the beliefs of many Americans and the deities they worship under their respective religions, letting the American people have the free exercise of religion guaranteed to them in the First Amendment.
Another main point facing the opposition is the lack of sufficient legal grounds for the removal of the words "under God" as evidenced when a 2004 case over the constitutionality of this issue was dismissed. Although, the court was acting under pressure from leaders of both parties in Congress as well as the Bush administration, showing the strength of such a large majority in a Representative Democracy. This, combined with the fact that America has always been intertwined with religion- clearly displayed by the statement "in God we trust" on our coins and references to the "Creator" in the Declaration of Independence- will insure that the Pledge of Allegiance remains as it is, including those two controversial words.
-Sgt. Pepper
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41802-2004Jun14.html
http://undergod.procon.org/viewanswers.asp?questionID=001330

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Online 101



Blue Parent Sheets are due to Mrs. Mabie before Thanksgiving Break 11/24/09. If you would like more information, please contact Mr. Keller at rkeller@paplv.esu3.org or 402-829-4600. Thanks

Surge in Afghanistan


Watch CBS News Videos Online

(CBS) Editor's note, 9:57 p.m. EDT: The White House has issued the following response to this story, attributed to White House National Security Advisor James Jones:

"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false. He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources."

To Pull Outof Afghanistan Now Would Be Betrayal

Click Here For the Article from the Telegraph (British)

What's Booming in a Recession? Lobbying in D.C.

Click Here for the World Herald Story from Nov.9

Monday, November 9, 2009

Freewheeling Young Voters Scare Both Parties

Freewheeling Young Voters Scare Both Parties

Sen. John Kerry Vietnam Could Not Have Been Won


We must dispense with a dangerous myth. In an effort to pressure the president to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, armchair commanders have dusted off the old canard that "we could have won in Vietnam if only … " Some revisionists contend we could have won "if only" Congress had not balked at the military's insatiable hunger for more troops and more bombing. Others argue that pacification of the countryside and training of Vietnamese soldiers could have carried the day "if only" we had stuck with these policies longer. Still others argue that we could have won "if only" President Johnson had made a much stronger American commitment when he first decided to send combat troops in 1965.

Let me be clear: more than 58,000 American troops died because they were sent into battle based on false assumptions, flawed goals, and faulty strategies. Yes, we adopted smarter tactics near the end, but by then the die was cast. History has definitively branded Vietnam for the mistake it was—no one should believe that the deaths of nearly 60,000 Americans and at least 1.5 million Vietnamese were somehow not quite enough.

So what should we learn from Vietnam? The lessons aren't simple, particularly when applied to a very different country—with a vastly different history, culture, and geography—in a different era. But some comparisons with Afghanistan are apt.

We are once again fighting an insurgency in a rural country with a weak central government. Americans were outsiders in a complex war among Vietnamese. Our allies were corrupt. Our adversaries were ruthless. Enemy territory was everywhere. Last month I was traveling down a dirt road in Afghanistan's Helmand province in a heavily armored vehicle. Through thick, bullet-proof windows, I could see Afghans staring as we rumbled past. Their numb looks of confusion took me back 40 years to my days as a young Navy officer in Vietnam. Once again, our enemy blends in with the local population and finds sanctuary in a neighboring country. Once again, the danger of being perceived as an occupying force by a war-weary population remains perilous.

With Afghanistan, as with Vietnam, we have a president facing pressure from the military. President Kennedy was strong enough to refuse to be pushed into combat operations. His successor, President Johnson, feared a public dispute with his commanders, so he failed to stand up to them when they insisted that the United States was headed for disaster without an escalation. Combat forces were rushed in with tragic results. More recently, whoever leaked Gen. Stanley McChrystal's assessment that we would fail in Afghanistan without additional forces was trying to pressure President Obama to sign off on a big troop increase before his own deliberations were done. Those inside and outside the military demanding fast action risk subverting the deliberative process and putting us on a road to the mindless escalation that cost tens of thousands of American lives in Vietnam.

But the situation in Afghanistan is also very different from the challenge we faced in Southeast Asia. Vietnam was a mistaken proxy war against worldwide communism: nothing there realistically threatened the United States. The other major powers at the time of the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union and China, had no interest in seeing us escape the quagmire. Yet in September 2001, mass murder was plotted against us from Afghan soil. We all know why we invaded Afghanistan, and so do the Russians, the Chinese, and other world powers. There was no contrived Gulf of Tonkin rationale. It was not a mistake.

Now we must choose a smart way forward so no one asks whether we've made a mistake in staying. The main lesson that Obama must absorb from Vietnam is the necessity to explain our goals in Afghanistan, and to choose clear and realistic strategies to meet them. In this war, the enemy can be defeated by better government and effective economic assistance. Unlike the relatively popular Viet Cong, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are widely despised. If we can provide sufficient security and support to our Afghan allies, there's little reason they can't win the battle for hearts and minds. Moreover, Russia and China have economic and security interests in helping us stabilize the situation. Harnessing those interests can help us.

However we proceed, we need to recognize that this is an Afghan war for the future of Afghanistan. We entered Vietnam thinking of it as a key part of the larger Cold War struggle. But the Vietnamese made clear this was a war about their country—Vietnam—not about America or the Soviet Union. We need to make a decision about Afghanistan strategy based on the reality of the place, not some imagined sense of what we wish it to be.

I pledged to myself long ago to be informed by Vietnam, not imprisoned by it. The easiest way to make a mistake is to tolerate a debate that sells our country short. In the case of Afghanistan, politics has reduced a difficult mission in a complex country to a simple, headline-ready "yes or no" on troop numbers. What we need is a realistic assessment of our strategy, military and civilian combined. One of the architects of the Vietnam War, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, confessed decades later that he knew victory was no longer possible well before the American death toll had reached half its eventual total. He offers a horrific lesson that the time to voice concerns is now.

© 2009

Next Up the Senate

Never Too Young to be Politically Active!

House Bill on Health Reform Passes

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Illegal Immigration is Good for Business

About half of the illegal immigration population are employed in skilled jobs, is this a good thing? Minimum wage or higher costing labor with a usual amount of taxes going back to the government , or very cheap labor creating more money for their employers and no money going back to the government? Easy choice for the employer, equilly simple choice for the taxpaying citizen.
With the economy in the shape that it has been lately, companies have felt it and have been looking for a way to ease the pain and employ cheap labor. Conveniently enough, this has been a time in our countries history where there have been more illegal immigrants than ever. Businesses are realizing that the least likely to covet a significant amount of money from a job would be an employee who would not have to pay any taxes on their paycheck. This cheap labor helps give businesses a decent boost and a bonus due to the fact that they spend less money on their employees and can invest more money in their company.
On the other hand, if businesses are hiring illegal immigrants instead of taxpaying citizens, they could lead to numerous problems. One of which would be, if illegal immigrants have a job, that means that an equally or more qualified taxpaying citizen will not receive the same position. This leads to the problem that illegal immigrants are stealing American jobs. The part never focused on is that these are low wage jobs to begin with, and why would would a more qualified worker settle for less than they are qualified for? So the point being made is that these jobs do not draw in many American citizens in the first place because they are jobs that no American wants. So why not let illegal immigrants do them?
Illegal immigration in the work-force is a bitter sweet issue, it is good for business but it is murder to the economy, but business stimulates the economy, making illegal immigrant workers the most practical kind.

- Mega Lord Master Of The Universe

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Young voters who helped elect Obama stayed home

RICHMOND, Va. – Last year, 23-year-old Rashida Hill watched the presidential debates, visited the college political party meetings and put a Barack Obama bumper sticker on her townhouse door. She voted for Obama because she felt like the election was about "being a part of something."

But on Tuesday, the Virginia Commonwealth University student didn't bother voting in the governor's race because, she said, the candidates didn't give her anything to get excited about.

"The simple fact is, unless you put it in front of somebody, they're really not going to seek it out," Hill said.

Many of the young, first-time voters who propelled Obama to the presidency stayed home this year, a glaring absence that helped Republicans win governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey. More than 3 million voters who cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election — many of them minorities — failed to show up at the polls in either state.

Obama carried Virginia with 52 percent of the vote last year, but only 43 percent of voters surveyed in Associated Press exit polls Tuesday said they had voted for him.

Another group that solidified Obama's victory — independents — turned their backs on Democrats this year.

In Virginia, independents in 2008 helped make Obama the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1964. But on Tuesday, they voted 2-1 in favor of Republican Bob McDonnell, who easily defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds. About one in 10 Virginia voters switched their support from Obama in last year's election to the Republican candidate for governor this year.

In New Jersey, independent voters who narrowly favored Obama last year strongly supported Republican Chris Christie for governor over Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine. Christie won 49 percent to 45 percent.

"A lot of this had to do with the collapse of the economy and future prospects for the nation and the state," said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

Independent voters "are very performance-oriented. They just want to know what have you done for me lately or what have you done to me lately," he said.

Outgoing Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the Democratic losses in Virginia and New Jersey had more to do with local issues than Obama's first-year performance.

Exit polling showed support for Obama remained steady despite the Republican victories.

The president campaigned hard for Corzine, making three visits to the state, including one on the last weekend.

The president's appeal worked for Roger Johnson, a 50-year-old restaurant employee from Cherry Hill, N.J., who said he had qualms with Corzine but voted for him, anyway.

"I went in to help the president. I wasn't going to vote for Corzine," said Johnson, a registered Republican who usually votes for Democrats. "But I did."

About 60 percent of voters in both states said their feelings about Obama were not a factor in their vote in the governor's race, exit polls showed. In Virginia, a quarter of voters said their vote for McDonnell was in direct opposition to Obama. In New Jersey, those who said he was not a factor were evenly divided in their support.

Even some of those who did not support Obama last year said they feel like he's doing the best he can considering the circumstances under which he's serving.

Linda Doland, 60, of Chesterfield, Va., said she thinks Obama is way off the mark on health care and Afghanistan, but "I think he has the best interest of our country at heart."

Still, many just chose to sit this one out.

Mark Dorroh, 58, of Richmond, has not missed an election since he turned 21. He voted for Obama last year, not because he was particularly inspired, but because he said the Harvard graduate "seemed like he would be competent and able."

Neither of the candidates impressed him, so he skipped this election.

"I just wasn't in the mood to vote," he said.

___

Associated Press writers Bob Lewis in Richmond and Geoff Mulvihill in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this story.

 

This article ties into what we are learning because of the polls. When we look at maps about how the U.S. views the president currently and how they did in the presidential election, it proves that the liking for President Obama has gone down for some people. It shows that some people have changed their views on the government now because they don't want more democrats in office. It also shows the loyalty to the party from other people.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

As on        As one stands on the beach and looks out onto the horizon, one would expect to see beautiful blue water stretching on forever. Also one might see some beautiful seabirds flying in the air or other marine animals frolicking in the water. In recent years, it has become more and more likely that one will see Styrofoam blocks and plastic bottles. The animals are also starting to be killed off by this trash. This is because of our increasing use of plastic and the improper disposal of it. Much of this trash has accumulated in what has come to be known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"; it was discovered in the mid-1990s. These islands of trash are 1,000 miles west off the coast of California and east off the coast of Japan. If something is not done about this problem, our whole world will suffer. This is why I believe it is up to the government to continue to pass environmental regulations.

                         In the northern Pacific Ocean, there is a clockwise spiral of water currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Two giant garbage patches have started to form; they are collectively called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. According to some estimates, it is about twice the size of Texas; it is the world's largest landfill. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been largely ignored because of its remote location, but in the mid-1990s, it was brought to the public's attention by sailor and ocean researcher, Charles Moore.

                         Over the years, the plastic refuse in the patch has been broken down into tiny pieces of plastic confetti. When the plastic breaks down, it can release potentially toxic chemicals into the ocean. These chemicals can make it to humans through fish and other seafood that we eat. Recently, two ships from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego and Ocean Voyages Institute embarked on a three-week expedition to study the patch and how else the plastic affects the ecosystem. These ships took samples of the water frequently as they neared the garbage patch and found the tiny plastic in every one. There has already been a study in Japan that noticed a correlation between the amount of toxins from plastics in the body and miscarrying or not being able to get pregnant.

                        Trash causes a whole host of problems in the world's oceans. One of them is it kills wildlife through entanglement. Besides killing wildlife, plastic and other trash can wash up on beaches, damage boat equipment, discourage swimming and harm fisheries. Trash washing up on beaches is a problem all over the world, but especially for the islands near the gyre. The Hawaiian Islands are hit particularly hard. On some beaches, there are walls of trash up to ten feet high.

                The accumulation of trash has been going on for many years and is most likely due to trash being washed down drains or into rivers, in areas like Japan and the coast of California as well as trash being dumped from ocean-going ships. Since almost 80 percent of trash in the ocean is dumped from land, we need to encourage recycling and strongly enforce international treaties forbidding dumping into the ocean. Reducing the use of plastic or using more eco-friendly plastics is also a solution to the problem of garbage patches. Bisphenol A is used to create a plastic called polycarbonate and seven billion pounds are produced every year, even though this plastic is non-recyclable. This needs to be fixed. The creation of storm drains that catch plastic debris is another solution. We must control waste and its disposal on land, because it will be almost impossible to completely clean the ocean of the trash. Simply filtering the water will harm an already weakened ecosystem by removing phytoplankton and other small marine life. It might be possible to collect some of the bigger items, but it isn't possible to clean an area of ocean the size of the continental U.S. and extends about 100 feet below the surface. We must work in the future to fix this gargantuan problem.

            There is, of course, another side to this argument. Some people write this problem off as an urban myth, even with all this evidence staring us in the face. Many people find that since much of the trash is below the surface or too small to see it is not as important as some of our other world problems. This problem will not go away if we continue to ignore it. We must find a solution to the problem of marine trash before it is too late.

            In the Pacific Ocean, there are up to six pounds of marine litter for every pound of plankton. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a very visual representation of the human impact on the marine environment. The public's attention needs to be refocused back to this issue; if this doesn't happen, the consequences may be devastating.

 

typhoid penny

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yarr! Music Pirate.


Beginning with Napster, illegal distribution of music files over the internet has increased substantially. This was made easier when P2P, peer-to-peer, software and torrent sites were created. With all the illegal downloading that was happening, record companies and in-turn musicians, were losing money because of the faltering music sales. These circumstances lead to the formation of the Recording Industry Association of America, which fight for copyright infringement laws. Recent cases have made fans of illegal downloading fearful, because of the large amount of penalty payments. Although it is "stealing" are people doing real harm to the companies, or are the music companies extremely greedy?

            The RIAA describes illegal piracy as "stealing" and "just as wrong as shoplifting".  Not only are people stealing from the musicians, they are taking from the record companies, employees and sound engineers. The RIAA has announced that since the beginning of piracy, the record companies have lost a shared $12.5 billion a year from CD sales. Not only do they lose money from sales they lost $844 million in some form of tax, $2.7 billion in workers' earnings and an estimated 71,000 jobs (RIAA).

Congress first passed the first Copyright Act in 1976. Since then they have added and amended many parts of it, due to growing technology. Because music is copyrighted, the RIAA is allowed to pursue cases against file-sharing sites and persons who are known to have "willfully infringed" music.

 In many cases, the person or company is charged somewhere between $700 and $30,000 and an extreme of $150,000 per "willful infringement." One landmark case for the RIAA was the prosecution of Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University student, who had downloaded and shared only 30 songs. He was charged $22,500 per song and for a total of $650,000 in fines (FindLaw). To any avid music listener, 30 songs is nothing. Many people libraries of illegally downloaded music are in the 1000s.

Although many musicians are against illegal piracy (Metallica!), there has been a recent change in music delivery. Rock legends, Radiohead, released their newest album, In Rainbows, which they produced, over they internet. The user was then able to pay whatever price they felt was appropriate for the album, with many people paying nothing. Radiohead's reasoning behind was that the music they had made was for the fans, and such should pay what they could.

Although the RIAA is attempting to reform music piracy, many of their higher seating members acknowledge the problem as ever-growing.  The president of the RIAA, Cary Sherman, has said that piracy will never be fully eradicated (BBC News). So if the RIAA knows they are fighting a losing battle, why do they continue? This is the reason many people believe it is their own greed that forces them to go on.

 

-Demetricles

 

Sources:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2636235.stm

http://blogs.findlaw.com/technologist/2009/08/the-gavel-falls-in-illegal-music-downloading-trial.html

http://www.riaa.com/faq.php

http://radiohead.com/deadairspace/

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92preface.html

Voter Turnout

Are You A U.S. Citizen?

GOP Rises Again

Monday, November 2, 2009

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana is legal in 13
states, for patients with AIDS, Alzheimer's, Anorexic, Epilepsy, Hepatitis C,
Terminally ill patients, and patients with Turrets syndrome. Marijuana is a gateway drug, and most used
drug in the United States, with over 69 million Americans who have tried it at
least once. Seven hundred thousand users
are arrested a year for obtaining marijuana, and yet we legalize it, and open
it up to the public.


Marijuana enters the blood stream,
and starts taking over the user within a minute or two. This takeover creates a sensation of pleasure
for the user, but has many negative side effects. Marijuana affects driving skills dramatically,
gives the user issues being alert, and negatively affects our ability to
concentrate or do easy tasks.
Coordination and reaction times are slowed. These
affects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana. Users of this drug undergo an immense feeling
of being tired in a matter of hours after use.
Just imagine if people are doing this every day or two and driving to
work, or to school the damage, and loss of lives possible.


Physical dependence is another
major symptom that results in many marijuana smokers of today. THC attaches to certain parts of nerve
cells, and throws off a certain number of "cellular reactions" that create the
high that people get addicted to. If
marijuana isn't that addictive, then why is it the most used drug in the U.S.?
Why do people get withdrawal symptoms when taken away from it?


Under U.S. law since 1970,
marijuana has been a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that the drug, at least in its
smoked form, has no commonly accepted medical use. When speaking about Marijuana being used for
medical purposes, the positive side effects come from the substance THC in the
marijuana, and not the hundreds of harmful chemicals that are in marijuana.


Marijuana when taken changes the
way the brain receives and processes information that is crucial for learning,
memory, and emotions. Learned behaviors are also deteriorated, if used long-term
changes in the brain are similar to those changes in users of major drugs. Marijuana smokers tend to have many of the
same problems as tobacco smokers. The
tar inhaled by marijuana smokers is 3 to 5 times greater than that of tobacco
smokers, and causes lung cancer.


While there are no documented
reports of anyone ever dying from marijuana overdoses, there are thousands
about users dying in marijuana related incidents. Marijuana affects Motor skills, learning
skills, and the user's ability to think straight or stay alert. Marijuana may have some health positives due
to the THC, but yet THC capsules themselves are illegal. If all the positive effects come from the
THC, and yet we are legalizing the worse of two cures then there must be
another reason than health benefits.
Medical marijuana is an excuse for patients to get high, and should be
illegal.
-Highlighters