Friday, October 19, 2007

Larry Craig and Republican Senators

All of us should remember Larry Craig. Well, if you don’t, here’s a recap: in August, he plead guilty to disorderly conduct in an airport bathroom in Minneapolis. Oh yeah – then he took back his guilty plea and decided he will not resign his Senate seat. Also, the Ethics Committee in the Senate is currently saying that it will look into Craig’s situation.
But, apparently he has been getting the cold shoulder from other Senators. Obviously, no one wants to have anything to do with him or be seen “hanging out with the unpopular kid” for fear that their own reputation will be soiled.
Especially Republicans, who are keeping the most distance from Craig. However, there are also many Republicans who have other scandals. Here are just a few: there was a recent FBI raid on Senator Stevens’ house (Republican from AK), and there is talk that Davit Vitter (Republican from LA) had a call-girl service.
So, if other Senators have just as bad – if not worse – allegations as Craig, why isn’t Craig getting any slack?

Well, I think it’s partly because his case is just so strange: he plead guilty to a weird offense, and then he took it back. It’s just comical, which contributed to its front page news.
But if you look at the whole scheme of things, what are our government officials doing? The Senate is full of crooks and liars. What makes them think they can do anything without feeling the consequences? I, personally, think that before the other Republicans point fingers at Senator Craig, they should think twice and should be given equal treatment to their own unethical acts.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Children's Healthcare Bill

Today, the House failed to override Bush’s veto of a Children’s Healthcare Bill. The Democrats were only 13 votes shy of overriding his veto. The bill would cost $35 billion over five years and expand healthcare coverage to 4 million uninsured children. Some of these children would include those in families that are making over $80,000, which is “too rich” for Bush’s standards.
Even though this bill failed to be passed, Nancy Pelosi promised that a new bill would be ready within two weeks. Lawmakers are already meeting to compromise over a new bill.
Based on public opinion polls, Democrats said that there was tremendous support for the Children’s Healthcare Bill and that Republicans would pay at the polls for not passing this bill and overriding Bush’s veto.
I, personally, don’t see how making $80,000 a year is too rich. I think that the bill should have been passed because giving healthcare to 4 million more kids is a big deal. The cost of this program is barely anything compared to what we’re spending in Iraq. $35 billion wouldn’t sound like so much money and be such a big deal if we actually had the money…thanks to Iraq….

But nonetheless, at least lawmakers are having another go at it. However, will both dominant parties see eye to eye on this and cooperate with each other and get another bill out in two weeks? I think…not.
The main thing is this: that the 4 million children should get healthcare coverage soon, and hopefully both parties will realize this and put their differences aside. I realize, however, that this is extremely optimistic.

Dirty Schools Kill

A new study just found out that MRSA, a drug resistant strain of a disease, kills more people in the USA than AIDS does, infecting over 95,000 a year.
What is most disconcerting is who this disease effects.
Mostly, MRSA has been spreading rapidly through highschools, infecting students. It thrives in dirty condidions, such as dirty bathrooms, etc...
Becuase it has become such a big problem, in school districts where deaths have occured, schools have been closed for a week to be thoroughly cleaned.
Now, lets think about Aragon.
You all know what the school is like. Do you think it needs a good cleaning? How scared are you for your health?
Also, what do you think should be done? I mean, a lot of help is made for AID prevention, but none for MRSA, even though it kills more. Should Aragon clean up, or does there need to be a case of the disease first?

Airport Security

So the TSA does tests or trials at airports throughout the country, with investigators trying to sneak bombs through the detection equitment. I was very surprised to learn that at some of the major airports, such as Los Angeles, 60% of the bombs were not found, and the lowest was at San Fransico, where still 20% were not found.
While the TSA says that having these tests continually improve the system, I was still surprised and bothered to hear that so many weapons and bombs can get sneaked past.
Also, the TSA claims that better technology, such as better x-rays, are the solution to this problem, as well as better trained staff, which is accomplished through these random tests.
What do you think about this? Do you still feel safe flying? And do you feel that simply buying better equitment and having random tests are enough? Or do you have any other ideas which would help with airport security?

Birth Control in a Middle School?

This week in Portland, Maine, school officials voted to make birth control pills available to students at King Middle School. This was brought upon by some pregnancies of some middle school girls. In the past four years, there were 17 reported pregnancies.
In order to use the health center at the school that would supply the pills, a parent must consent to their child to use the center (because middle school-ers are underage), but any treatment in the health center remains confidential because of state law.
Some people were against the health center providing birth control pills for religious reasons. But others are horrified at the thought of birth control pills even being available for 11-13 year olds, and are concerned that this will only encourage the kids to have sex.
However, Richard Veilleux, who is the executive director or the Maine Assembly on School-Based Health Care, says that this health center will help the kids who are already engaging in sexual activity.
Obviously, there are many sides to this argument: being for or against having birth control pills at a middle school health center. Of course, many parents are concerned about the availability of birth control pills at their child's school. However, providing these pills will help those who are already having sex. Also, if this new policy is effective, will it spread throughout middle schools in the US? And, since the federal government is involved in abortion currently, will it become involved in this and make it a legal matter? But the main concern and question of many is this: will providing birth control pills encourage these young, pre-teens to engage in sexual activity, or will it benefit the children more?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


So it turns out that immigration is a big issue to a lot of people. I just looked at some polls conducted, and most Americans want to have less illegal immigrants in the US, but only 3 out of every ten wanted to deport illegal immigrants out.
What got even more interesting was that there was a destint race split between peoples reactions. 19 percent of African Americans want to deport all illegal immigrants out of the US - while nearly double that of whites do. In general, African Americans appeared to be less strict and unwelcoming towards immigrants than whites were.
Do you think this is true where we live? In San Mateo? Are people really becoming less tolerable of immigrants? And is there really a race distinction between who does and doesn't believe what?

for more of the polls and percentages, check out

Colbert for president? He has my vote!

Who would have thought? Stephen Colbert, funny tv host, hinted that he was going to run in the South Carolina primaries for president. What do you think about that?
Also, he is planning on running as a democrat and a republican - letting the voters choose which party he should be in. Cop out?
I just thought this was kinda cool, check out the clip at:
What do you think about Colbert running for president, and what do you think about him registering under both parties, to let "the people" decide for him?

The Dalai Lama is Honored

On October 16, the Dalai Lama received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Despite this great honor, China’s government has protested it, accusing the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for the Himalayan region of China.
Before, the leaders of Germany, Canada, Australia, Austria, and the US have been cautious about meeting with the Dalai Lama and upsetting China. However, currently the leaders have met with him or have said they will. This is partly because of the pressure for their electorates and it’s also politically correct that leaders should meet with a holy, honorable, and respectable man. But China opposes the high honor given to the Dalai Lama because it considers the US using the Dalai Lama as a way to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

There are a couple current events that have been happening in China. Currently, there has been a flare-up of unrest in Tibet. During a weeklong festival, a man climbed up on stage and called for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet, and was later arrested. China originally thought it had unrest under control; however, this was proven obviously incorrect.

I agree with the US awarding the Dalai Lama with the highest Congressional honor. I think it is important to recognize people who do good deeds in the world. It is important to show support for a man who represents freedom, democracy, and independence.

The Sad Truth is revealed: Political Cartoons

While on the internet, I found these hilarious Bush political cartoons. One is entitled “Proof of Bush’s Torture Program”, the other is “Fiscal Irresponsibility”, and the last is called “Children’s Health Veto” (the links to these cartoons are inserted at the bottom of this post because I couldn’t put them into the text). However funny they are, the cartoons reveal a sad truth about the health care in our country, as well as the Iraq war. As you will see in the cartoons, dumping health care money into a hole (the Iraq war) sadly illustrates our country’s top priorities. Obviously, to the current administration, winning a war is more important than expanding health care coverage to millions more children.

The thing I love most about political cartoons is the truth they show through over exaggeration and humor. Hopefully, you will see the truth in these cartoons. What do you think about the message conveyed in these cartoons?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putin Putting Russia and Iran in wierd situation

As you all know, Iran has been stressing the international community, especially America, by its dedication to it nuclear program. However, Putin, the leader of Russia, just had a meeting with Iran, discussing ways to work together with their nuclear programs.
Russia's involvment in Iran firstly hurts the UN's ability to intervene in Iran. With Russia holding a seat on the UN security council, it makes a tough resolution against Iran almost impossible.
Also, Russian's involvement with Iran hurts American's ability to intervene in Iran as well. Having an ally such as Russia really deters military action against Iran.
However, something must be done to help the situation.
There is one solution.
Russia is building Iran's nuclear plants - however, they are very behind schedule. Iran says this is due to the pressue on Russia from the international community to stop, while Russia says Iran has been late paying their $1 billion.
While the pack between Russia and Iran may be weakening, is it a risk we can take to just sit back and hope that the partnership does fall apart? What if it doesn't? What should/can the international community and America do with a powerhouse such as Russia backing Iran? Just how important do you think it is for Iran not to get nuclear weapons?

For some good info about the whole Iran nuclear weapon program and the past resolutions and the impacts of Iran getting a weapon, check out

Busted For Steroids!

Even though this happened a week or so ago, I feel this is an important topic. Marion Jones pleaded guilty to illegally using steroids in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In addition, she has said that she will retire from track and field. In the past decade, Jones has won several championships, gold metals, and other metals at Olympic Games. In 2004, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency began investigating her and her possible steroid use, but Jones kept denying it.
I guess she felt it was about time to face the truth, and do so before she was found guilty and get a long prison sentence. It’s really easy to say sorry once you’re caught and found out. In the past years, she vehemently denied using any steroids, but I guess the truth caught up with her fast pace. When I first heard this story, I felt bad that she had to give her metals back. But then again, she didn’t earn them honestly. She cheated. As someone who looked up to her, I feel cheated. During the 2000 Olympics, I was really proud that an American runner won first prize at the Olympic Games, but now, it’s all a joke.
This relates to currents events now, including the Barry Bones and Landis (the 2006 American Tour d France winner) steroid allegations. From fighting dogs to steroid use, athletes seem to think they can get away with anything, including cheating and illegal activities. I am personally saddened by this deterioration of morals displayed by athletes that so many people look up to in our society because it shows the decreasing integrity in our society today.

The Decreasing Number of Deaths from Cancer

There is a report in the journal Cancer that shows that Americans are getting cancer less often, according to NPR. In the past few years, there has been a dramatic drop in cancer deaths. According to physicians, this is due to early detection, treatment, and earlier testing for cancer. However, not everybody has been acting proactively against cancer or benefiting from treatment and prevention. Because of cost, healthcare, or availability, many people still aren’t getting the help they need to find and treat cancer early. According to Dr. Norton, a physician in the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, for every person getting mammograms or quitting smoking, there are people who do not go to the doctor’s and there are people who start smoking.
Of course, there are other reasons. If people live in poverty stricken areas, there is a high chance that there are fewer opportunities for good health care. Also, for poorer people, it is harder to find money to pay for cancer detection tests.

There are certain tests everybody should be able to get for health reasons. Early detection and treatment saves many lives each year. Perhaps if there were open clinics for routine testing for breast, colon, and prostate cancer, many lives would be saved.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Middle Class Squeeze

This post really pertains to a lot of you guys, so I think it's a good one.
I'm sure that all of you guys have heard your friends or parents complaining that the middle class gets screwed. The poor gets aid, the rich get the tax cuts, which leaves the middle class paying for everything.
However, I was really surprised to find that there are two sides to this story.
On one hand, there is the side that the middle class gets squeezed and pressured. The middle class, in order to stay middle class, is working 20% longer than the middle class of 30 years ago, and the minimum wage has not kept up close with inflation. There are many stories of middle class families not being able to afford to buy houses, which has become the American dream.
Yet that is the second, flip side of the story - the American dream. Both Arthus B. Laffer and Bob McTeer, two famous economics, argue that the middle class is actually better off than it ever has been - it's just that the middle class wants more. 30 years ago, it is true that people worked less, and only 1 parent brought in the income. However, back then, the middle class just wanted a microwave, maybe an airconditioner, and maybe a color tv if they were splurging. Now, the middle class seems to have expectations of many tv's, many vcr's and computers and air conditioners, and going to college is a must.
Instead, the economists believe that the middle class, or you and your parents, have been brainwashed in believing they are worse off because the upper class is gaining expenentially. However, the economists believe that this jealousy doesn't transfer into the middle class being less well off - it just means that the middle class has more to want.
So what do you thing? I mean, is your family feeling the middle class squeeze? Or is it just an illusion? Think about what you have and how much that really is, and then think about what you want, and how little you need it. It's an interesting question - I know many still believe that the middle class still, as always, gets screwed.

Aging Baby Boomers: Social Security is Finally Paying Off

Kathleen Casey-Kirschling is the first baby boomer, born one second after midnight on January 1946. As she turns the age needed to collect social security, so will 80 million others in the near future. But many workers and government officials are wondering if Social Security will be able to support them because of the retirement of the baby boomers and the rising health costs. Also, in just 10 years, “‘we will no longer be collecting enough payroll taxes to pay Social Security benefits’”. What is causing this Social Security money crunch? Well, “when Social Security gets payroll taxes it pays out most of the money in benefits. The rest is supposed to go into a trust fund”. But, the catch is, the government has been spending this money on other programs, causing a deficit of Social Security money. And once money is taken out, it is hard to put back in. That means that Social Security and other federal programs (that are funded partly by the Social Security money) will be financially in trouble. There have been many proposals to save Social Security, but so far, most are unsuccessful.

The bad part about all of this is that when it is our turn to retire, there might not be any money left for us. This is a huge problem because the whole system might crash and burn and then we will be left to fend for ourselves.

(I heard the story from Fox News)

A New Test to Predict Alzheimer’s

At Stanford University, there has been continuous research on a new way to diagnose people with the progressive brain-wasting disease, Alzheimer’s. Just from a simple blood test, doctors are able to tell whether someone is at risk for Alzheimer’s. The test is quite simple. In the beginning of the disease, the brain sends signals to the immune system, and this triggers the immune system to fight off the disease. In the new test, doctors look for these chemical signals. If these chemical signals are found, it means the person is at risk for Alzheimer’s. So far, the test has been 90% accurate in predicting it. But of course, like all other new medical discoveries, there still has to be more testing done.

With each discovery in medicine and science, there are lives that will be changed, but it also triggers many ethical questions. This new blood test brings up several moral questions: would you want to know you’ll have a brain-wasting disease? There are, of course, arguments for each side. Firstly, it would be good to know ahead of time because this will allow for more family planning and earlier treatment for the progression of the disease. But, on the other hand, would you want to know you’ll be turning into a brain-wasting away person?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another side to BlackWater

This article really helps explain the whole controvery over Blackwater. The Blackwater company, led by Prince, is a "mercenary" service - basically a company which employs retired Navy Seals and militray men and women and then rents them for use to countries - currently, American employs over 1000 Blackwater personel in Iraq.
There was recently a congressional hearing about Blackwater, becuase they are said to be trigger-happy, having just killed 17 unarmed Iraqis. The diplomots they protect say that Blackwater's men push anyone who's in their way, run other cars off the road, and shoot carelessly. Also, there are accusations that Prince runs the business off of Christian ideals, and has his own religious crusade army.
However, Prince defended his business, bringing up some really interesting points. It's been American tradition for Americans to train themselves for militray service - for instance, under the a famous statue of Washington, there is an inscription which ways says "He gave military training and discipline to the citizen soldiers who achieved the independence of the United States." Prince feels his company does just that. Also, they have been amazing successful - none of the diplomats they have protected have ever been hurt.
So what to do? Stop using Blackwater to help our reputation and help the Iraq people? As a protected diplomat put it, after he has a conference, they make one step forward, but when driving back and Blackwater's men forces others off the road, they take two steps back. Or do should we keep employing Blackwater? You can't argue they don't do an amazing job - they havn't lost a single person they've been protecting. That is a better percentage than the percent of diplomats who whould survive if the new Iraq soldiers would be protectign them - in fact, it would be much, much higher.

Armenian Genocide

This is actually a pretty interesting one.
First, a litte history lesson.
The Armenian Genocide, also labeled the Armenian Holocaust, was when the Ottomon Turks forcibly deported and killed over 1.5 million Armenians during WW1.
So, now the news.
Nancy Pelosi wants to pass a resolution which would declare this act a Genocide. However, Bush is ademently against it.
The reasons for passing the resolution are pretty straight forward. It was a genocide, without a doubt, and many feel that it must be recognized. It hasn't been recognized before because its never been "the right time" - first the Soviet Union, then the Gulf War, etc... Pelosi feels America must stop procrastinating. Also, the survivors of the genocide are getting old, and she feels as if they deserve this resolution.
However, Bush doesn't want to becuase he claims it will bring instability to the region, and that it will have negative impacts on the War in Iraq - and in both cases he is actually right. Turkey has been in upheavel over this possible resolution, and the Turkish Government says that American-Turkey relationships will be deeply hurt. Now what does that mean? It means uh-oh for the War in Iraq. Being a NATO ally, Turkey has helped immensly with the War in Iraq. 70% of US cargo goes through Turkey, and it's the main re-fueling hub. If this resolution is passed, it is almost certain that Turkey will not allow Americans use of its military bases.
So what to do? What policy do you think America should follow?
Follow our morals and do the "right thing" no matter what? Sticking up for the little guy? Give peace to the victims and their families?
Or should we listen to our other side - we need Turkey - our War effort needs Turkey, and our hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq need Turkey.
It's a tough one. any suggests? If you've got a good one, I'm sure Bush and Pelosi would love to hear it.

Medicare Fraud

While listening to NPR, I heard this news story, and it really caught my attention. There is a wide variety of ways for people to make money illegally: drugs, gambling, and fraud. But, has anybody ever heard about Medicare fraud? Has anybody ever heard of people selling durable medical equipment illegally? Well, yes, it is possible. It probably sounds really lame to sell medical equipment to make tons of money, but it is in fact a huge business, and an even greater problem. Believe it or not, this year there were fraudulent Medicare claims between $300 and $400 million in only two – TWO! – Florida counties. According to an interview on NPR, there are four major reason why former drug dealers turn to selling fraudulent Medicare equipment: “‘There’s more money, there’s much less chance of being caught, and if I do get caught, I’ll be treated like a white-collar criminal, not like a drug dealer,’” and my favorite reason of all: “They’re less likely to be killed in a drive-by shooting.”

Although this sounds so strange, it is true. I feel that the Medicare system is almost inviting to fraud problems. There were several reasons given in the news story. First, that it is a “trusting system” where most claims are paid automatically – an obvious mistake. Second, that “the companies Medicare hires to handle its claims say they are working to improve fraud detection. But their main mission is not to root out fraud; it is to pay claims quickly and smoothly.” I agree with the other people interviewed in this segment: that there should be a reform of the Medicare system and how money is delegated to the system. But of course, with all reforms, it’ll be hard to do. Any suggestions?

I guess, whether you’re a drug dealer, or a wheelchair and cane dealer, there’s always going to be an easy way to get money. But, hopefully in the future, more people will act honestly and with compassion, not greedily.

Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize

Last week, the Nobel committee awarded Al Gore with the Nobel Peace Prize. This has received much publicity because of his popular movie, books, and popularity. He, as well as 2,500 scientists from around the world, who are part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will share the prize.
I think that it is great that Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize because it will definitely bring more attention and importance to the growing climate issues we have been and will be experiencing. Hopefully, this will help to start the increased funding for more alternate energy projects and research.

Ever since Gore won the prize, there has been much speculation about whether or not he will use this new popularity to announce a run for the presidency in 2008. He has said no, but some are still hoping that he will. But, personally, I think he’s more compassionate about the climate change and not politics. He tried politics and the run for the presidency, and lost. However, if he did decide to run, Clinton is so far ahead in the poles that Gore would probably lose, which would lessen his influence.

Overall, I am personally happy that he won the prize because I think he has deserved it. But it's not just a prize for Gore; it is a prize for the issue that he represents. Also, I hope that a lot of good will come from this prize and more action will be taken against global warming, which is a huge topic in the world and in politics right now. But, if he does happen to run for president – however unlikely it may be – we will all know the second it happens.

In the article about this from The Sacramento Bee newspaper, there are still people who think that Gore is exaggerating the truth and should not have received the award – what do you think?