Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Becoming Aware of Your Cervical Health


Friday, December 17, 2010

Yeah, There Are Still Double Standards. So What?

People still have respect for a man when a he cries in politics, but let a female politician shed some tears and hear everyone shout that she’s weak.

It’s a double standard the majority of the time, and in 2010 this way of thinking still holds true. But it’s not worth crying over.

Sarah Palin made the news again, while making an appearance on "Good Morning America," after she complained about the double standard when it comes to politicians crying in public.

The ex-Alaska governor was asked about incoming House Speaker John Boehner's tendency to shed a few crocodile tears during an interview with Robin Roberts of "GMA." “While Palin said she had respect for her fellow Republican's emotional side, she suggested he gets a pass because he's a man.”

Palin continued by saying:

"I don't know if a woman would be given a pass necessarily. That's one of those things where a double standard is applied. I'm sure if I got up there and did a speech, and I started breaking down and cried about how important it is to me that our children and grandchildren are provided great opportunities, I'm sure I would be knocked a little bit for that."

Palin also mentioned that it is ok that there are double standards out there for women because it encourages women in politics to work harder and be tougher. But  it's ironic that she brought up the fact that there was a double standard in the first place.

I just want to know why, if she was ok with this originally and was compelled to be tougher in politics that she would bother complaining to the entire the world. And it is especially irrelevant because Boehner did receive some slack indirectly about his constant weeping.

But it’s not all unfair for women in politics. Female public displays of emotion can go both ways. Hillary Clinton's teary remarks on the presidential campaign trail in early 2008 gained critiques from fellow candidates and commentators, but also were seen as a contributing factor in her primary victory in New Hampshire. Maybe Palin should realize that the world isn't fair, stop complaining and just keep to herself for once.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How Much Should College Tuition Be?

Lately it feels like The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, that was supposed to have invested heavily in education both as a way to provide jobs now and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity, isn’t really working out for California College students.

Recently, all 23 California State University campuses have been burdened with the news of receiving a 15.5 percent jump in tuition (5 percent for the spring 2011 semester and another 10 percent for the fall), after CSU officials approved the increase to compensate for state budget shortfalls.

The increase in tuition will result in the average undergraduate student paying $654 more for an annual cost of $4,884 in 2011-2012. The raise in tuition is said to add an additional $175 million annually to the CSU system.

A third of that revenue is planned to be set aside for financial aid. But when college tuition has already proved itself to be unaffordable for students in the first place, why did the California State University Board of Trustees approve the fee hike for all CSU campuses?

At times, it really seems as though college students are being deterred from graduating our universities. Despite expanded federal aid including tax credits, veterans' benefits, and a record expansion of the Pell Grant program for low-income students, college affordability still appears unattainable.

As tuition has crept higher over the years, federal aid has actually lowered. The maximum Pell Grant covers just 34 percent of the average cost of attending a public four-year college, which has gone down from 45 percent two decades ago causing students to either apply for school loans or shell tuition out of their own pockets.

The only students who seem to be okay with the rate they pay for their tuition are some illegal immigrants.

The Supreme Court of California have recently made the decision to uphold AB 540, also known as the DREAM Act, a state law allowing students who attend high school in California for at least three years and graduate to pay in-state tuition at California public colleges and universities. This includes non-residents and some undocumented immigrants.

There has already been a decline in the number of American students who are refusing to pay out-of-state tuition and instead going to college closer to home. The decrease in students paying out of state tuition has reduced the number of applicants that are admitted and has in return added to the need for the raise in tuition for everyone else. Having illegal immigrants paying in-state-tuition currently only further hurts the UC and CSU budget crisis.

The problem is not that these undocumented immigrants are attending California universities, but it is that they are rewarded by paying in-state-tuition while legal citizens who want to go to school in a different state or country are mandated to pay out-of-state tuition.

I do believe that education should be available to everyone. On average, college degree holders earn more and have a better chance at getting hired for various positions. But I also am aware of the budget crisis that we have for our colleges and universities. And though it may sound cruel, I don’t think it’s fair that tuition for legal U.S. students keeps rising while illegal students get to pay less than other equally hard working students who are coming elsewhere to earn a college education.

Originally posted on So Educated.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Food Safety Bill That Doesn’t Help Everyone

It is no surprise that the concern regarding the safety of our food has risen recently. Over the past few years foods like meat, peanut butter, spinach and eggs have become tainted with food borne illnesses and undergone nation-wide recalls. So when the U.S. Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (SB 510) on November 30, 2010, we all assumed that it was a step in the right direction--right?

The answer is both yes and no.

On the one hand this bill will regulate standards and requirements to limit food safety risks.
Safety guidelines would be put in place and farmers would be encouraged to use environmental conservation practices on their farms in order to reduce the likelihood of contamination with food-borne pathogens.

All of which is according to the Senate committee.

SB 510 would also allow the FDA to mandate that a company recall a food product it suspects is infected.  And when each year approximately 75 million illnesses, including approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths, occur because of tainted food, more regulation in the food industry seems like a great idea.

But what the bill fails to do is fueling opposition with small farms and raw milk producers.

Groups in opposition of this bill complain that the Tester/Hagen Amendment that was recently added to the bill excludes small farmers and farms making less than $500,000 annually.

They argue that the bill will give the FDA too much power and that eventually they will abuse it. The bill threatens to exclude local and organic farms as well due to its one-size-fits all policy.

SB 510 still has to be voted on in the House. But with this many discrepancies regarding certain farmers, I believe that this bill should undergo more revisions to include the groups of people that they have seemed to have left out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day 2010


Every year December 1st is observed as World AIDS Day (the first of which was observed in 1988). World AIDS Day is devoted to raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and chooses to do so by choosing annual themes

This year’s theme, Lights for Rights, is encouraging cities and towns all over the world to leave the lights on and breakdown some of the needless stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS. The World AIDS Day campaign is encouraging people to go out and get involved in promoting awareness.


What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. HIV spreads by way of bodily fluids and it can be contracted by sexual intercourse without using a condom with someone living with HIV, sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment or from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that affects the human immune system which is caused by HIV.

Statistics

According to the CDC, an estimated 56,300 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year. And according to the The World Factbook, 33,000,000 were predicted to be living with HIV/AIDS in the year 2007.

A recent report from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has brought news that fewer people are becoming infected with HIV than 10 years ago, and those who have already acquired the virus are living longer. But every day 7,397 people contract HIV at a rate of 308 people every hour.

In the year 2008, 2.0 million people died from AIDS. And since it was first recognized in 1981, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Prevention

Because HIV can be transmitted by having sex, through someone’s blood, or from a mother to child, the best ways to reduce your risk is abstain from sex and wearing condoms consistently and correctly.

Other ways of preventing transmission is to use shared needles and to take antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy and labor as well as administering the medication to the newborn baby to reduce the chances of the child becoming infected.

Remember for you and your partner to get tested for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases to further stop the spread. It is one of the major ways to reduce the increase in cases of those with HIV.

And though, abstinence greatly reduces your chances of becoming infected with HIV, educating the public about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases can help more people in the long run. Having the information to protect yourself and others from harm is very important.

HIV is preventable when caution is used. ONE, a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization, is already advocating for a world where no child is born with HIV in 2015. Hopefully this and other campaigns can rid the world of new cases of people contracting HIV. And I also pray that one day we will have a cure for those who already have the virus.

Reposted via Surf Bakersfield Mag.

Madonna narrates the video, "I Am Because We Are."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

They Went Too Far

I’m all for safety and securing major public transportation, but there is a line between security and invading every last bit of privacy that you have left.

The TSA has hit the news again with privacy invading images of boarding airplane passengers. This time instead of taking embarrassingly detailed photographs of people and sharing them to the public, some members of the TSA has been caught undressing little kids in the middle of the airport.


Have they crossed the line yet? Because if they didn’t, I really don’t want to see what their definition of crossing the line is. And I hate to say it, but Ron Paul is right on this issue. “Enough is enough” when it comes to the issue that the American people have with the TSA.


I don’t want to be groped, stripped down to my undies and photographed just so I can go home for the holidays. Something should be done about this in Congress. Regulations should be put in place to deter this situation, others like it, from happening again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In The Really New World

I was reading an interesting article the other day about the Catholic Church and its encouragement of Roman Catholic bishops in the United States to go forth and blog, tweet and preach on the “new digital continent” of social media. It really got me thinking the other day about technology and its effect on our lives. Has our world really changed so much in the past few decades that the Church feels the need to start a twitter account?

The truth is that we have. The world has changed culturally more in the last 40 years than it ever has before. Advances in technology before the last 40 years were only steadily groundbreaking. Older generations had the time to adjust to the new and innovative things being tossed at them. But now, in the digital age, the 40 and over crowd is struggling to stay afloat among the clutter.

Take a look back at what we have done in the last 40 years. The computer was born in the 1970’s. Then, the magical data-storing agent was accessed only by Bill Gates and super geniuses of the like. But by the time the 90’s rolled around, the World Wide Web gave birth to an infinite number of possibilities in the realms of communication and connectivity.

Fast forward 20 years to the present and you get whiplash moving from Web pages accessible through a graphical user interface and basic email, to the current use of over 92 million websites and counting online. And in an instant, the Internet condensed our huge world of billions of people and made it flat creating a connection, accessed by our fingertips, across the span of our planet.

Want to know what that guy, you met at that one party ten years ago, is doing right now at this moment? Why not stalk him on Facebook. Do you want to know every thought that Brittney Spears is thinking throughout the day? Why not follow her account on Twitter. Would you like to know how to make quiche at this very second? Just whip out your Smartphone and Google the recipe in your kitchen. Heck, watch someone prepare it step by step right in front of you on YouTube.

We can find the answer to any question that we might (or might not) have thought of by simply typing it in the search bar. The internet is so ingrained in our lives that we would all fall apart if it ever disappeared (or seemed as though it has disappeared). Y2K scare anyone?

The digital age has morphed the world into something so unrecognizable. It’s even apparent when we see people locked up for 20 years, who were recently released from prison after the dot-com boom, so incredibly confused at what the heck happened during the time that they went away.

We've even changed the way in which we react to things. We rather tweet about someone passing out in public than running to that person's aid. We document everything that we do, every second of the day, and display it on the inter-web for the entire world to see. Are we narcissistic, or has technology changed human behavior permanently?

Our livelihoods have been flipped upside down as we accommodate are swiftly evolving technology. Fifty years ago, a college level communications class would have never dreamed of electronically interacting with their fellow students outside of the classroom in a personal, yet public, blog. Technology has, and will always, drastically change the way we live our lives. And maybe a few years from now, I’ll be texting my confession to my priest instead of heading for the confessional. You just never know with this new world in the digital age.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home of the Fast Food Junkies

Americans are obsessed with their fast food. It’s quick, easy and convenient. It’s so much more enticing to just drive through a drive through and grab a cheap meal for you and your whole family instead of sending that extra time after work cooking something at home. And it also just tastes good even though we really over do it on the Big Macs.

Last week was just another testament to our fixation with fast food. The McRib sandwich returned to the McDonalds restaurant, and I heard about it all over the news as much as I heard about the midterm elections. Web searches on the artery clogging sandwich went well over 600% during the week that everyone should have been wondering who was in charge of leading our nation.

Our deadly worship of drive through eateries has even gotten to the point where we had to stop enticing burgers to kids by slipping in a shiny toy. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors lit up headlines and probably angered some kids when they had to approve a prelimary ban on toys in McDonald's Happy Meals. They probably assumed that it’s bad enough that all of the adults are incredibly obsessed over junk food.

According to the Healthy Eating Guide, It’s already estimated that Americans are now spending over $140 billion on fast food each year. And now there are over 25,000 fast food chains in the country, which is an increase of more than 1,000% since the year 1970.

And when two thirds of Americans are now either overweight or obese and one-third of U.S. adults may have diabetes by 2050, our unhealthy over indulgence of juicy burgers and salty fries needs to be knocked down a bit.

Instead of sliding through taco bell for that steaming pile of Nachos Bell Grande everyday at lunch and munching on an order of 20 piece Chicken McNuggets for dinner after work, you should try limiting your fast food intake to once a week.

And when you are stuck with the option of zipping through a drive through, keeping tips in mind like avoiding items that are deep or pan-fried or covered with heavy creams and sauces. Instead, order dishes with more vegetables and choose leaner meats when it’s possible. Remember to never supersize your portions, add salt to your already high in sodium meals, and resist the temptation of overeating by avoiding buffets.

Avoiding fast food whenever possible will benefit you and your family’s health. And we can ultimately reverse the rate of obesity and the diseases associated with it when we do so. The grim projections of the rise in diseases associated with obesity can be proven wrong as well if we learn to consume fast food in moderation. America is the home of the fast food junkies, but we can change when decide to make healthier choices.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Let's Put Education First

A report reveals the state of our education system in California.

One of the many goals Obama has set to achieve while in office was to substantially boost college completion rates by 2020. But after looking at a statewide report on California’s community colleges, it seems as though our students will fall short.

According to the report, “Something’s Got to Give,” large portions of our students at community colleges enter the system unprepared. The report, commissioned by the state community college chancellor’s office, questions the effectiveness of remedial education in the 112 colleges reviewed.

It’s just a scary fact to know as a college student myself that of the 2.9 million people in the California system in 2008-2009, that only about one in 13 transferred to a four-year institution or earned an associate’s degree or vocational certification that year, according to the report.

All of this doesn’t exactly sound too promising for the state of our education system. Obviously there is something going on in the k-12 education system that is not being done to prepare students for colleges and universities.

It’s important that we take all levels of our education system seriously. Holding higher standards for our students once they have already reached the university level isn’t the best way to prepare our next generation for the future. It’s not just their future that is affected by budget cuts and how we instruct our students in the classroom; it also affects both our state’s future and our nation as a whole.

Monday, November 1, 2010

One-Third of U.S. Adults May Have Diabetes by 2050

As it stands, one in 10 Americans has diabetes, but this could double -- or even triple -- by 2050 if current trends continue. 

Here’s something that caught my attention the recently. According to the CDC, one in three adults will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050. And with obesity and the rate of consuming processed and fast foods are on the rise, the number doesn’t seem to surprise me.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of increased thirst and hunger. There are three main types of diabetes that include Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes

The number of new diabetes cases a year has been predicted to increase from 8 per 1,000 in 2008 to 15 per 1,000 in 2050 via the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2050, between one-fifth and one-third of all adults could have diabetes -- with virtually all the increase attributed to type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.

The projections are due to an aging population, an increase in minority groups at higher risk for diabetes, and the fact that diabetes patients are living longer. But obesity is also plays an important role in the increasing rates of type 2 diabetes as it is a major risk for acquiring it.

The typical American lifestyle also takes a partial of the blame for this awful trend. And although Type 1 diabetes can't be prevented, the same healthy lifestyle choices that help treat prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can help prevent them.

Prevention tips: 

Eating healthy foods is a great way to prevent diabetes. Opt for foods low in fat and calories by focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A vegetarian diet is a great way to stay healthy and keep diabetes at bay. Strive for variety to prevent boredom and to obtain all of the required vitamins and nutrients.

Another way to beat the statistics is to participate in physical activity. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day like a brisk daily walk, riding your bike, or swimming laps can help you stay in shape. If you can't fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout the day.

Finally, because research has shown that there is a correlation between obesity and diabetes, losing excess pounds can lower your risk as well. If you're overweight, losing even 5 percent of your body weight can reduce the threat of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.

For those who may have diabetes: 

No matter what type of diabetes you have, make a commitment to managing your diabetes by learning all you can about diabetes. Remember to make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Establish a relationship with a diabetes educator, and ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.

Taking care of your teeth is also a big thing to remember. Diabetes may leave you prone to gum infections, so brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, and if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, schedule dental exams at least twice a year. Consult your dentist right away if your gums bleed or look red or swollen. Diabetes is a serious disease, but following your diabetes treatment plan are worthwhile as careful management of diabetes can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Get The Facts About Breast Cancer

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month makes October the month to think pink. It’s the month dedicated to settling rumors surrounding breast cancer. And while this month is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the www.NBCAM.org Web site is a year-round resource for breast cancer patients, caregivers, survivors, and the general public.

What is Breast Cancer?

According to cancer.org, Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates from a malignant tumor that invades the surrounding breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. The disease usually occurs almost entirely in women, but men can also get it, too.

Do you only get breast cancer if it runs in your family?

Here’s the truth, scientists and researchers still don’t know what really causes breast cancer. And in fact only 5 to 10% of cases are due to defective breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
According to the American Cancer Society, women who have a family history of breast cancer may get it not specific due to gene mutations, but, rather to a combination of shared lifestyle factors and genetic susceptibilities.

How can I find out if I have breast cancer?

If you feel a change in how your breast or nipple feels or looks; like a lump, pain and swelling, or thickening in or near the breast, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for a mammogram. Mammograms have been known to detect breast cancer in its early stages reducing deaths among patients by about 16%. It's actually pretty important that all women have an annual breast exam performed by a health care provider after the age of 18 and pay close attention to their own bodies to spot potential changes as early as possible.

A great way to pay close attention to your breasts is by performing a self examination at home. Just use the tips of your three middle fingers to feel for lumps or thickening of your breasts. You can either cover the breast in a circular motion, moving in an up and down motion or moving outwards from the center in a wedge motion. Do it the same way every time and it will help you to make sure that you've gone over the entire breast area.

How could I reduce my chances of breast cancer? 

Simple ways to reduce your chances include; regular exercise, that lowers our levels of estrogen which is linked to breast cancer and eating healthy. Limiting your alcohol intake, according to the National Cancer Institute, shows that women who have one or two drinks daily increase the risk of the most common kind of breast cancer by 32%—and those who drink more hike their risk by 51%. And while a glass of wine has been known to have other health benefits, experts recommend no more than a glass a day. 
But most of all, don’t stress about breast cancer. If you follow these suggestions, you are doing all that you can to minimize your risk. Use these tips as reminders to take care of your body, but don't get hung up on them. You just being aware of your body will help you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pushed Over The Edge

A young man walks by himself alongside a pathway on a large bridge. He looks over the railing separating him from the ledge that’s outstretched over a frigid river. He can hear the water as it quickly thrashes around below his feet. A cold chill brushes past his exposed face reminding him that a tear had rolled down the side of his cheek. The young man then slowly lifts his leg, one and then the other, over the railing. He stands on the edge of the ridge and pauses for a second as he tries to clear the frustration from his mind. Then he jumps.

This is the story of one gay teen who had suffered enough bullying to push him over the edge.

Recently, several teenagers from California to Rhode Island committed suicide in the past few weeks, including New Jersey college student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge into the Hudson River.

According to a story from ABC News, Tyler was the victim of bullying and the invasion of his privacy after, prosecutors say, his roommate and a friend secretly streamed his sexual encounter with a man on the Web. He was hurt and made fun of like so many other gay and lesbian teens spanning the world are right now. And it’s time that something should be said.

According to SAVE, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24 years old. Adolescents that were rejected by their families for being gay were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, according to a Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. But the sad fact of the matter is that the majority of these suicide attempts could have been prevented.

A heartfelt attempt at tolerance and understanding could have saved Tyler Clementi. His life was shattered the second his private affair went public. He was a human being who suffered from gay bashing with a cyber twist. And it shouldn’t matter if you believe that homosexuality is a sin or not because these are people that we are dealing with. We live alongside the same pathway in the world with these souls. And I just hope we can all understand this fact before we push another person over the edge.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Affects of Proposition 23

Smog settling over Los Angeles skyline.

Bad air quality days, lungs filled with smog and asthma attacks that could land you in the hospital. California has been known to have some really unclean air. And over the past 20 years with the help of global warming regulation laws California has cleaned up a little. Those regulations that were enacted to help reduce emissions in our golden state of pollution, helped cut down on the rain of acid that aided in the corrosion of our cities. But come November, lawmakers and big oil companies are hoping to pass a law that would rid our state of those very same regulations in order to save them money.

If passed, Proposition 23 will suspend a state law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, until California's unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. And knowing that unemployment won’t drop to that amount any time soon (especially not without jobs that could be created form clean energy projects) big oil companies are pouring money into the campaign in support.

Not cool.

Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, was signed in 2006 to reduce greenhouse emissions in California. The bill was designed to indirectly reduce numerous air pollutants by restricting carbon emissions, making California's air all around healthier. But instead of blue skies, we should just thank the oil companies in advance for making our grey tinged air be brown.

So when November rolls around, I hope California takes it in to consideration that there is no connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. In fact, green energy projects have been known to create more jobs. We can revitalize our economy, continue California's progress toward clean energy and save our environment by voting no on Prop 23. Will you?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Seriously, Stop Messing With My Food

I have never recalled waking up in the morning thinking to myself, “wow I could really go for some genetically engineered food right now.” But what if you didn’t know that the breakfast you were craving was genetically modified?


It’s unnatural and disturbing not to know what you’re eating, and according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, a lot of other people agree with me. An overwhelming majority of people would rather know if they are dinning on Frankenfood. But ignoring the public opinion, the FDA is actually thinking of approving GE salmon that grows twice as fast as the conventional fish and not labeling it as GE product.

So far the FDA claims that they have been researching the “Frankenfish” for 10 years now. But many say that Frankenfish could cause allergies in humans and eventually destroy the already endangered wild salmon population.

No one should have to fear what they are eating. But the way this disaster is turning out, Frankenfish could potentially be the tip of the iceberg to a genetically engineered Frankenfarm. Did someone rip a page out of the novel Brave New World? Way to go FDA, tomorrow the country could be chewing remnants from a lab somewhere and we’ll never know it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Third Party


It’s not looking so hot for the GOP right about now. Odds have dropped recently from a 26 percent chance to a 15 percent chance of the House being taking over by Republicans. The main reason for the decline is the outcome of the Republican primary in Delaware where the Tea Party sensation, Christine O’Donnell, defeated Michael N. Castle. 

It seems that the times are changing, and in the past few years a lot of people in politics have wondered about the possibility of a third party. And with the wide expansion of the Tea Party Patriots, that has brought together countless activists and thousands of local groups, maybe that major third party is actually here.

Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen in the Washington Examiner had said that "the Tea Party has become one of the most powerful and extraordinary movements in American political history. It is as popular as both the Democratic and Republican parties. Over half of the electorate now say they favor the Tea Party movement, around 35 percent say they support the movement, 20 to 25 percent self-identify as members of the movement." And so far the Tea Party is not a wing of the GOP but a critique of it.

The party is angry and they want to be noticed. They’ve become a huge movement moved by the people. They’re fed up and they are ready to prove that they can hang in the ring with the major Parties. And maybe we’ll be sure of it in 2012.

Friday, September 10, 2010

United As One Nation


Nine years ago our nation was changed forever. And as the country watched their television screens in utter shock, we stood in fear for our loved ones and when we found out that it all was intentional, we wondered why anyone would commit such an act. But as I sat and watched my world come to a halt for a moment, I never would have thought nine years from then I would still feel as though the county has been ripped apart.

After the attacks on 9-11 our country has come together in the wake of a horrific event, displayed patriotism by mounting flags on car antennas and in yards all over the nation, and for a moment, showed the world what it was like to stand together as the United States. You couldn’t go anywhere after that day without running into a flag flying proudly in the wind. We covered our land from sea-to-sea in the valiant red, innocent white and our perseverant blue. And then one day our attitude changed.

Over the nine years our country has taken down our beautiful flags, we tucked our patriotism away and found ourselves divided. We pointed fingers at our neighbors and replaced the feeling of being united as a country with the feeling of fear.

What happened during the period between our devout patriotism and our current fear? Did we finally let the terrorists win? Why can’t we go back to being united as one nation again before the pointing of fingers and the overwhelming feeling of fear that we hold today? The anniversary of the September 11 attacks should be time for Americans to respect religious freedoms and “rekindle that spirit of unity and common purpose” felt nine years ago like President Barack Obama has said. We are all Americans; ALL of us. And the anniversary is an excellent time to think about that.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

It's unnerving not to know what's going on with your food
behind closed doors.

Imagine your standing in a room with barely any light. The smell of feces fills your nostrils as you inhale a breath of oxygen. You look around and you notice that you are buried in piles of manure stacked up to eight feet tall. Mice scurry all around you and disease runs rampant. These are the conditions inside the hen houses at the two egg farms suspected of causing a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness.

Federal investigators made their horrific discover public of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, two massive egg producers who have recalled nearly 500 million eggs since Aug 13.

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And if the manure wasn’t enough, the investigators also found dead maggots live flies and the Salmonella bacteria in the water used to clean the eggs as well as the food used to feed the hens.

Holes in building or gaps in structures, which allowed rodents pidgins and other wild animals to enter the hen houses lined the surrounding of where the hens were contained. The FDA has said that the agency will begin inspecting 600 egg-production facilities over the next 15 months to make sure they are complying with new federal rules.

But shouldn’t these inspections have already happened? Why haven’t we mandated these inspections in federal law? We do the same in restaurants, but why not do it where our food comes from?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Five Years After The Storm


It’s been 5 years since the flood waters ravished the streets of Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina had destroyed homes, damaged landmarks and left the city in disarray and despair. New Orleans at one point, seemed to have been lost to the storm, but after the waters receded, a ray of hope emerges.

Before the hurricane the schools in New Orleans was deemed unsatisfactory by the locals as. Cash-strapped and under-performing, education sat on the back burner. From 2000 to 2004, enrollment in the schools declined from 77, 610 to 64,920 and an increasing amount of people were dropping out altogether.

In 2005, the state of Louisiana deemed 64 percent of the city’s schools “academically unacceptable. But when Katrina hit at the end of August 2005, the city was wiped clean of its students and teachers as they were forced to evacuate. And in November, the Legislature expressed an emergency session to give the state the authority to take over the school’s districts it considered to be “academically in crisis.”

The “Recovery School District” was then instituted taking 1-7 under-performing Orleans Parish public schools in the city under the states control. Private organizations converted the ailing schools into charter schools and left 16 schools that performed above the state average standard before Katrina.

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Today the schools have greatly improved as the Cowen Institute recently reported that just 42 percent of New Orleans schools are “academically unacceptable.” This is wonderful news seeing as the numbers went down from 64 percent from before Katrina.

Education in the Big Easy dramatically improved despite the horrific disaster. The rebuilding of 85 schools damaged during the hurricane acts as a symbol of faith in the next generation’s future. And it just goes to show that good things can come out of a bad situation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Devastating Lies From the Divisive Conservative Media


Reposted from The Loop 21.com
by Jasmine Lowe

The recent controversy with the building of the mosque near Ground Zero has me concerned with the country’s future relationship with the media. News stories at one point in time were supposed to inform the public of current issues and bring them up-to-date with what was happening in the world. But lately when I turn on my television I completely see one-sided and partially accurate information on overblown political stories.

Take for example the current mosque controversy. Individuals on the overwhelmingly right-wing opinionated Fox News channel, like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, have single-handedly confused the public by tugging at the heart strings of the victims’ families of 9-11. They spin tales telling their listeners that the mosque is some sort of terrorist backed attempt to disgrace those who have died at Ground Zero when its really not.

First of all the project isn’t even a mosque, it’s an Islamic community center. The structure, completely opened to the public, even has a basketball court. Second of all, the “mosque” isn’t even going to be located at Ground Zero. The so called “abomination” will be located at an abandoned and private building several blocks away in a building once used as a Burlington Coat Factory store. But because the extremely opinionated, Glenn Beck, mentioned the words: mosque, 9-11 victims and terrorists, everyone who hears his rant full of lies gets the wrong story and runs with it all the way to their protest site.

These types of stories never help anyone but the popularity of the people who make them up. And in actuality, they just hurt more people than they might think.

An entire organization was destroyed when the ever-present Fox News brought the nation’s attention to a videotape of ACORN workers seemingly dressed as a “pimp and ho” showing people how to avoid paying federal taxes. But instead of doing any research and running with anything that they come in contact with, they failed to realize that the tape was a forgery made by a crazed conservative activist who was later arrested for breaking into Mary Landrieu’s office.

ACORN was eventually vindicated of all wrongdoing, but the damage was already done. Their funding was terminated and 50 years of helping the poor and minorities were diminished all because the conservative media just loves to lead people to believe in completely inaccurate nonsense.

But it didn’t end there. When Shirley Sherrod was branded as a racist by a blogger who posted part of a speech she gave last month at a banquet, she was forced to resign from her position as the director of the United States Department of Agriculture. She was publicly embarrassed and her reputation was damaged because of a story that never even happened.

The Republican Party has continually bashed the Democrats for some how “brainwashing” everyone with their “liberal agenda.” But while the conservative media is destroying careers, obliterating communities, and destroying organizations tended to helping the poor and less fortunate, they are slowly loosing credibility as responsible journalists and are engulfing their audience into the very act that they pin on their more credible counterparts—brainwashing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sick of Tainted Food


It seems like every time I turn around there is another recall on some food item. Do we have to play Russian roulette with our food choices, or shouldn’t there be more concern over the safety of our food.

More than 170.4 million eggs were recalled from stores in as many as 14 states nationwide due to a recent widespread salmonella scare that has impacted the lives of more than half a billion people. The FDA announced on July 9 that it had new safety rules for large-scale egg producers, but the new rules came late in the game as they apparently appeared after the salmonella outbreak began. 

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But what concerns me is that all this could have been prevented in the first place. Jack DeCoster, who leads Wright County Egg, in June, pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of animal cruelty over his company's treatment of its chickens. DeCoster and his company agreed to a $25,000 fine and made a $100,000 payment to reimburse the state for future monitoring of the facility.

Allegations included too many birds in case, injured chickens not being treated, dead animals not being promptly removed from cages and improper euthanization. But then we wonder why every year something new is recalled.



But this isn’t the first time we had a major country-wide food scare. Anything from beef to tomatoes has been put on a list at one point of tainted foods. Experts say that food-borne illnesses cost the country around $152 billion a year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures there are about 76 million illnesses in the U.S. each year, landing about 325,000 people in the hospital. And about 5,000 people probably die from the illnesses in the U.S. each year. If this doesn’t spark anyone’s interest to make a change in food safety and regulations, then I don’t know what will.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

China: World’s Largest Economy In 2027?

China has surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy last quarter. The Communist country led the world out of last year’s global recession with an economy over 90-times larger than when former leader
Deng Xiaoping ditched-line Communist policies in favor of free-market reforms in the year 1978.

China’s GDP was reportedly $1.288 trillion more than Japan’s for the second quarter. Predictably the China will take over the U.S. as the number one spot by 2027 according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.chief economist Jim O’Neill.

China has already overtaken the U.S. last year as the biggest automobile market and Germany as the largest exporter. They are the world’s number one buyer of iron ore and copper and the second biggest importer of crude oil.

And with their larger population and our poor economy, China is on the path to take the U.S.’s position as the world’s largest economy around 2020. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
reported in March that China’s future influence on the global economy will increase. Their enormous expansion will contribute one third of the world’s growth this year. So what is our government going to do
about this?


Saturday, August 14, 2010

With Liberty and Justice for All


The U.S. has dealt with a lot since it faced the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center's towers almost nine years ago. We’ve entered into war and have been changed forever by 9-11. We have come together as a country since that day and somewhere along the line we have also been driven apart.

Many have engaged themselves in prejudice ideas disguised as defenses against “future harm.” We took what happened nine years ago and labeled anyone practicing the religion of Islam as a terrorist disregarding any source of evidence revealing whether they were innocent of any wrongdoing or not. The goal of terrorism is to create fear using violent acts as a means of coercion. And what seems like extra precaution by the American people is actually the very thing that the terrorists tried to provoke.

Recently there has been controversy surrounding the possible building of a Mosque near the Ground Zero site in Manhattan. Many believe that it would be inappropriate for the project to be completed so close to the site where so many died by the act of terrorism. And instead of allowing the Mosque to be built, many Non-Muslim Americans disregard our first Amendment.

President Obama also came under fire when asked to comment on the project while at a White House event celebrating Ramadan with other U.S. officials. Before dinner was served, Obama gave a speech addressing the situation. He referred to the trauma of the Sept. 11 attacks as unimaginable and continued by saying, "So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground." He then added that America's "commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."

The President was careful in understanding the underlying emotions and thoughts stemmed from the project by saying, "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," he said. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about."

And Obama says is true. We are a nation of all types of people from various religions, cultures and creeds. We believe that we have the freedom to believe in, or not believe in any religion or belief. And I believe that the second we take that away from anyone, we begin to lose the very thing that makes America truly free.