Jack Thomas, Blog Post #4

Solitary Confinement

 

For 29 years Robert King lived in a 6x9x12 foot box in solitary confinement for a crime that he didn’t do. In the cell there was a steel bed and a sink that doubled as a toilet. Robert King has been free since 2001 but still has geographical orientation problems. He said to CNN, ” I get confused as to where I am, where I should be.” In February 2014 he joined the ‘American Association for the Advancement of Science to inform them about the mental and physical consequences of solitary confinement. The director of legal studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz said , “The widespread consensus among mental health professionals is that solitary confinement, for the overall majority of mentally ill prisoners, places them at severe risk of additional harm.”

After Robert King had been sitting in solitary confinement for about 6 months he began to notice that his eye sight began to worsen significantly. He said that it was because his eyes had became accustomed just to look at objects that were such a short distance away in his small cell. A professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law, Jules Lobel said that this is a very common thing and that there have been many cataract surgeries done at the Pelican Bay Prison in California. Lobel represents more than 1000 inmates at the Pelican Bay Prison in lawsuits for keeping these prisoners in these conditions. This can relate to what we are learning in class right now because to keep these people in these small, cold, windowless, isolated cells with no human contact violates the Constitution and international law because it is “cruel and inhumane.”

 

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/23/health/solitary-confinement-psychology/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

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Josh Lutz 3rd post

This is an article discussing the budget cut that the president was supposed to make.  He had said that he would be making some trims to the budget in certain areas and not in others.  The democrats and republicans and had come to agreement on the proposed cuts.  When the budget was released it turned out Obama did not follow through with what he said.  I think that budget cuts need to be made because of the enormous debt we are in.  It is a tricky situation though where we make these cuts.  Republicans want to make the cuts to the less urgent social services and the democrats want to cut defense spending.  I side with the republicans.  We need a large budget for defense, people do not need all of the aid programs that they have.

Josh Lutz blog post 1 on the video

I agree and disagree with him.  I think that he has some very valid points however he fails to mention the other factors that make a country.  He does mention the people he only mentions the demographics  America is the only country who is always running to help other counties who are in need such as the starving and war torn countries in Africa and the countries like Japan and Haiti who have been hit with natural disasters.  We use our military and our own economic funds to do this.  He doesn’t mention our natural resources and the beauty of our country we border two oceans and have an abundance of resources.  And If America is not the best then why do so many people from other country’s risk their lives and leave their countries to come here?  What makes America the best is the spirit of the American people when we are down all races all political sides come together in the great American spirit, 9/11 is the great example of this. America is still the greatest country in the world.

Jane Braswell, “All Men — and Women– are created equal”

In our class discussion the other day, one topic that I found interesting was that of equality and freedom, and their relationship towards one another. This happens to be the same discussion I hope to continue with this post.

This article was written, by Raw Story writer David Edwards, relaying a live Fox News report on the movement demanding equal pay for women in the workplace. The controversy was debated between female Fox News anchor, Martha MacCallum, colleague Tucker Carlson, and liberal radio host, Alan Colmes. The article begins with a quote by MacCallum, in which she defends her stance that women are in fact begin paid fairly by saying that women are paid, “exactly what they are worth.”

The debate continues with Carlson’s argument that women actually make more than men if you account for time “voluntarily” taken off to raise children.  MacCallum supports this with her opinion that politicians need to stop treating women as victims “who we need to make sure she gets what she deserves.”

Colmes disagrees and states that you can’t say there is not a war on women when “they’re not making as much as men for the same jobs.” He furthers his argument by addressing Calrson’s use of “voluntary” and making the point that sickness, pregnancy leave, and situations in which women are forced out of the workplace when they have to leave are not necessarily “voluntary” circumstances.

MacCallum justifies her side once again by saying that most women don’t want special treatment, referring to them as a “special class” and suggesting that by getting equal pay they’d be given a “special handout,” confirming her earlier statement that women are already being paid, “exactly what they are worth.”

Personally, I don’t see how individuals can believe that we as a nation are staying true to the concept of  “all mean are created equal” and support injustices and inequalities like non-equal pay for women in the workplace.  Unless of course they are naive enough to not have realized that at this point in the development of our society a “Man” is not one of the male physique, but a human, deserving of every opportunity as the rest. Freedom and equality are not necessarily one in the same, but I believe that there is no way one can truly be free without equal rights.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/29/fox-news-host-women-dont-want-equal-pay-they-already-get-exactly-what-theyre-worth/

Morgan McGlothlin Blog Entry #3 – Religious Freedom Used to Chip Away at LGBT Rights

Morgan McGlothlin

(due) Sunday February 16, 2014

Current Area of Study – Declaration of Independence

 

Religious Freedom Used to Chip Away at LGBT Rights

 

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/religious-freedom-chip-away-gay-rights

 

Although there have been LGBT victories across the nation, conservative, anti-lgbt activists are still pushing for laws that will negatively affect the LGBT community, “sponsoring legislation that would allow businesses to discriminate against same sex couples.” These activists are saying that an independent business run by a christian should have the right to not hire someone because they are gay. “They see the issue as one of religious freedom, protecting believers’ right not to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or celebrations, and not to be forced by the state into doing so.”  

“That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence) Every person, in theory, should have the same rights and opportunity to live their life as the other person. But, a question we prompted in class one day, are all men created equally? The push for LGBT rights is not new, but with recent victories across the nation, there is new attention on the subject. Laws permitting the discrimination of LGBT people in the workplace is most definitely a step backwards in the movement. “‘This is a deliberate strategy as gay people are getting greater rights, to take away those rights and be able to discriminate,’ says Eunice Rho of the American Civil Liberties Union [this is where I am doing my senior internship!!]. ‘You can have marriage, but you have no right to the privileges that come with that.’” Although laws pertaining to the legalization of same-sex marriage are being passed, if laws not protecting the discrimination of the LGBT community are also being passed, we are getting nowhere as a movement or as a nation.

 

Angela Langdon Entry #3: Minimum Wage Increase

Anyone who watched President Obama’s State of the Union Address has heard of the various plans he has for his second term. One of those is the plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Obama plans to put this into action by signing an executive order, something that is only supposed to happen when it stems from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself. It appears that the intention of this act would be to reduce the poverty level and increase wages for moderate to low income families. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this could cost roughly 500,000 jobs. However, this estimate is approximate and the actual impact could range from minimal job loss to a loss of one million workers. The White House responded by saying that “CBO’s estimate doesn’t reflect the overall consensus view of economists who say [the increase] would have minimum or no impact on employment.” So, will it work? The problem with this is that it’s impossible to guarantee whether or not employers will agree to pay their employee’s more. Some companies may not even have the budget to increase wages and will therefore have to fire workers. I heard something on the radio that made a lot of sense to me. They said what happens if the landlords of these low-income families decide to raise rent because they know their tenants are now making more money?  The benefits of this wage increase don’t seem to outweigh the risks. Sure, it could give people more money but there’s no guarantee. There’s a huge possibility that the people this is targeted to help will actually lose their jobs and businesses will have a harder time functioning because they can’t afford the proper amount of workers. It also seems like an overstep for the executive branch considering this isn’t exactly what executive orders were intended for.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/18/hill-budget-office-wage-hike-would-lift-pay-but-cost-jobs/

Marissa Ray, Entry #3

 Fracking, A Necessary or Unnecessary Evil?

 

http://theweek.com/article/index/256547/the-huge-downside-to-fracking-that-everyone-is-ignoring

 

Fracking; it’s the more profitable and cleaner way to get natural gas. One would think that the practice would be every government’s dream, they don’t have to be as dependent on other countries for oil. Fracking seems to have super powers, not only has it started the U.S. down a path to energy dependence and flooded parts of the nation with money, but it has also cut out much of the carbon dioxide emissions that bring on climate change. But just like every super, fracking has a chink in its armor. In his article “The huge downside to fracking that everyone is ignoring”, Ryan Cooper explains that while fracking is much more profitable than coal, the risks that it poses to both the environment and people in the area outweigh the benefits is regulations continue at their current level.

 

Incidents like the chemical spill in West Virginia can’t be ignored by the government. The environment there has become deplorable and the citizens in the surrounding area were left without a clean source of water for days. Further, fracking also opens the door wider for corruption. Cooper writes “Texas is awash with oil money, and the drillers have bought up the whole state political system with it”. The corruption that fracking has brought into the Texan government has also harmed the environment in the sense that funds for air monitoring equipment has dropped from $1.2 million to less than $600 thousand. In order to save both the environment and the health of the people that live around area the government must enforce stronger regulations on fracking companies. These regulations would decrease the chance of repeats of the West Virginia chemical spill and would lessen corruption’s influence on the government. Though fracking has negative effects on the environment, it is necessary to increasing the US’s energy independence and benefiting the economy. 

Eddie Campell #3: “Can Anybody Save California?”

The title used for this post is copied from Politico writer David Dayen simply because, well, it just about sums up the water crisis in California. California has been battling a massive and extensive drought for the past three years now. However, this is not to imply that their water supply was under control before then; the Colorado River has been exploited by the United States and Mexico for decades now. Yet as of today, the severity and length of this particular drought rivals California’s historic blight of 1580, perhaps even overtaking it. With this drought, a myriad of issues swell to the surface. As congressman John Garamendi commented, “It’s going to affect everything that goes on in the state.” Everything from residential life and public works to rural farming, fish nurseries, and native species will be not merely threatened but actually hurt (more so than they already have been for decades). This problem spans the entire social spectrum: economically, socially, and politically. Farmers may be forced to leave millions of acres fallow this year, possibly creating a $2 billion dent in California’s food trade. State governor Jerry Brown has pleaded for a state-wide voluntary reduction of 30% in residential water usage. Communities in the Central Valley are at risk of not having drinking water in the next 60-90 days. Politically House Republicans have proposed bills to manage the current damage occurring but problematically are also violating the Endangered Species Act and California’s state constitution. Democrats have been pushing federal funds to be allocated in reserve in the case of an emergency in the state but are met with a familiar brick of gridlock in Congress.

As is patent to anyone who reads the article or simply listens to just a minute of the issues regarding California’s drought, this crisis presents a multifaceted problem. Attacking one obstacle will not make the rest go away; this situation is not just a series of hurdles on a track to hop over one by one. There needs to be an across the board effort to address the drought. However, the most frustrating part of this to me is how the superficiality of politics trumps reality. President Obama recently flew to Sacramento to address a worried crowd about the problem. Republicans and Democrats each have been scrambling to find quick fixes to the short term problems at hand. However, no one at the highest levels of government seem willing to work towards a long term solution. As legislative director for Environment California put it, “Politicians are still looking at the drought as a political issue and not as the environmental and economic nightmare that it could be.” That statement rings true for both sides of the political spectrum. However, that is nothing new. And hey, at least they are doing something. The part that really deflates my hopes is that in talking about the root of the drought problem, one has to acknowledge its familiar foe global warming. And whenever global comes into the picture, House Republicans sit on their haunches and dig in. Because of the party’s adamant nature, addressing the drought as an environmental and economic disaster will never take precedence over the rest of politics in America. Seemingly at every turn, the Earth is treated as a tool that we as a society use to further our self interest rather than its foundational status that it actually is. Literally everything in life has to do with this planet. People are dependent on Earth more than Earth is dependent on people. Eventually, this epiphany will resonate in all Americans as conditions become more dire and more widespread. However, it is disappointing to see that our chosen elite that we have given the responsibility of looking after our nation’s best interests are willfully ignorant and selfish enough to put Earth on hold. Sometimes politics needs to take a seat and let the citizen of Earth in us take the wheel.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/02/can-anybody-save-california-103544.html#.UwOxBoVUP2s

Sarah Dunn, Blog Post #3

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/02/17/good_neighbors

 

Intra-regional trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico brings in more than $1 trillion a year. NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement, is depended on by 14 million jobs in the United States. A study by the Harvard Business School has found that companies producing globally, and especially continentally, are able to expand locally. Much of the trade between the three countries is not largely in finished products, but in parts. The agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the US goes farther than trade. The three work together on security issues given their shared borders, and continue to grow in this area as the countries work together on issues like intelligence sharing and border crossings. As neighbors, everything that happens in one country effects the others and effects trade. 

 

When we imagine the United States’ trade partners, we think of countries like China and Germany. However, the countries who we have the most trade with are our neighbors. Mexico and Canada are countries that do not have the most positive of image in the US. Mexico is seen as dangerous and unstable, and Canada as funny and rather useless. It is surprising that the neighbors we think so little of have been massively beneficial to Americans. Our trade with Mexico is not a reason to not be worried about some of the security concerns within the country, but it is a reason to focus more on our relationship as business partners instead of as angry neighbors. Given the current economic climate and general global tension, the US should continue expanding and cultivating NAFTA and our relationship with our closest neighbors. 

Jack Thomas, Blog post #3

Abundant evidence of crimes against humanity in North Korea

On monday a United Nations reporter reported instances of widespread abuse in North Korea. Head North Korean leaders use murder, torture, and abuse as props to “terrorize the state into submission.” The National Commission of inquiry on Human Rights traced the problem to the peak of the North Korean Government. This group said that it would file a prosecution to the Criminal Court. These people also sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he could be in trouble for violating the rules against humanity.

The big problem is that the government of North Korea rejected this report because they thought of it as Americans trying to undermine its government.”It is nothing more than an instrument of political plot aimed at sabotaging the socialist system by defaming the dignified images of the DPRK and creating an atmosphere of international pressure under the pretext of ‘human rights protection,” said the North Korean government from a prepared speech. This topic can relate to what we are learning in class currently because it pertains to when the government is fit to rule. In this situation the North Korean government is not fit to rule because it has become corrupt. If this were to happen in America the people would be able to overthrow the government. Sadly this is not the case in the socialist North Korean government.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/17/world/asia/north-korea-un-report/index.html?hpt=hp_t1