Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hero in Arizona Desert Deported

Yesterday, a nine-year-old boy was found in the middle of an Arizona desert accompanied by a man who apparently had just illegally entered the US. The boy and his mother (their names remain unreleased) had just suffered from a car crash Thursday night in which the mother had not survived. The boy’s father had just died two months ago. The boy left the car disoriented but unhurt and was later found by the man whose name is Jesus Manuel Cordova.

Cordova tried to pull the mother out of the car and when he was unable to, he comforted the boy while they waited for help. He also stayed with the boy throughout the night, building a bonfire and lending him his jacket to help with the cold. They were found by hunters, who called the authorities the next day. Cordova was then arrested by Border Patrol agents and returned to Mexico.

I think it was very generous of Cordova to stay with the boy, who had probably experienced some form of trauma brought about by the accident (and perhaps his father’s death just two months ago). It took a lot for him to help the young boy after coming such a long way from Mexico that I think that he shouldn’t have been deported. Shouldn’t he have deserved a chance to get what he came all that way for especially because he helped a traumatized boy?

Helping Afghanistan

The Farm Euro Insurance is now preparing for the Christmas season packing boxes full of jackets, sweatshirts and socks. These boxes are intended to be shipped off to Afghanistan to be donated to children in need.

Apparently the agency is doing this out of inspiration from one of their agents now in Afghanistan, Captain Brian Pinson. Pinson has kept in touch with the agents back home and he told them that all he wanted for Christmas was for donations to be sent to the children of Afghanistan. He reports to them that there is nothing there and that the kids are not prepared for the winter to come.

I am glad to see the people of our country doing something that is almost completely, objectively moral. I am proud to be of a nation that can help others in need.

Friday, November 23, 2007

President Bush Pardons a 21 Week-Old

(This was meant to be my post for yesterday, so forgive me for posting something Thanksgiving-related today)

Out of the 265 million turkeys raised just this year, two were spared from ending up on a dinner table thanks to the annual presidential turkey pardon started by President Harry Truman exactly 60 years ago.

Last Tuesday, President Bush pardoned 21 week-old May as this year's National Thanksgiving Turkey and Flower as May's alternate. May and Flower were raised in Dubois, IN under the direction of Ted Seger, chairman of the National Turkey Federation. After the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, May will be flown first class to Orlando to be grand marshal of Disneyworld's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Knowing that one turkey gets first class treatment, doesn't make me feel too bad for the millions of other turkeys that end up getting killed. As admirable as the tradition of saving one (or two!) turkey's life is, I hope you all had a delicious one yesterday!

Less Troops, More Time

The Democratic Party's proposal on Iraq might be successful at bringing troops home without any success at really ending the war. This proposal would require that troops be sent home within 30 days, as President Bush is already working on as he attempts to reverse this year's troop build-up. The proposal also sets a goal of ending combat by December 15, 2008, making troops left behind focus only on three goals: counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. assets, including diplomats.

There are currently 164,000 troops in Iraq and this proposal is estimated to leave as little as a few thousand to at least 70,000 troops in Iraq. However, Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, Deputy chief of staff for operations in Iraq, states that it would be difficult to accomplish any of the three goals the military has set up without significant US military presence in Iraq.

This proposal angered anti-war groups who feel that such a proposal would only maintain the a long-term US presence in Iraq. Republicans in the Senate also oppose this because they believe it would create an "artificial timetable" on the progress already made in Iraq.

While I feel that this proposal might lessen US military presence in Iraq, I think that a withdrawal of troops should affect all of them rather than just a group of them, whatever size that group may be in number. Since this proposal only serves to withdraw some troops with the possibility of extending the amount of time that the others will remain there, then this proposal is not very helpful for all. Even though this may help decrease the number of military deaths in Iraq, I feel it's quite unfair for some troops to get to return home while others are kept away from their families.

How's Dinner?

Before getting into my post this evening, I would like to congratulate the Aragon Chamber Choir for an excellent performance at the Oakland, California Jack London Square Tree Lighting Ceremony. The choir performed three pieces: Words, Ubi Caritas, and Russian Dance. Al though the group did not place for the competition, it was a great effort and I am proud to have been a part of it.

Now to the good stuff....

With the second term running out for President George W. Bush, he has veered away from big-picture decisions to smaller, more focused actions that he calls "kitchen table issuess". An example of these "kitchen table issues" is the following, Bush recently took a trip to Chesapeake Bay, Maryland to help preserve two species of game fish (ny times). Bush's administrators claim that he is taking these steps in order to "keep his hand in the game", knowing that his administration is known for mainly anti-terrorist actions.

Many people are upset with Bush for many decisions he has made like the war and the huge expenses spent on border control. These actions are obviously ENORMOUS, I wonder if the electorate wants to see Bush make more gigantic moves that will get us out of these dilemmas in stead of little ones that only affect one city.

I ask the readers to answer me this:

What do you make of this kitchen table? How's Dinner?

Do you approve of what Bush is doing with his remaining time?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Reasons To Be Thankful

The holidays can be a rough time for many people. To some, the span from November to January is a time when people around them get all excited for something that that person doesn't celebrate. Sometimes, the season is a time to remember things lost. As paradoxical it may sound, often times these months do depress people. Whether or not you are one of those people, here is a list of reasons that you should be thankful today.

1. A more primitive species similar to man, the Neanderthal, had a brain that was actually bigger than that of a human being, be thankful that (though we only use ten percent of our brain) we have advanced as far as we have with minds smaller than that of such a similar species (thank you Benji for your correction) .
2. The arm bones connected to the shoulder bone...depending on age, the human body has 206 to 350 bones in it. That means that if you lost part of your finger in a tragic ice skating accident like me, you have about 205 (thank you Benji for the correction) other bones to be thankful for.
3. One in every three people in the world live on the equivalent of two American dollars each day. That's less than the cost of a gallon of gas.(Koffi Anan, UN Secretary General) (thank you Benji for your correction)
4. School can sometimes be a bug but be thankful when you sign your name on your next syllabus because only one third of the world can sign their name. (this is a literacy fact, it doesn't reflect the paralyzed or people without hands)(UNESCO)
5. It most likely has taken you one minute or so to read thus far in the blog. In that time alone, you probably took 20 to 24 breaths and omitted almost 1 full gram of CO2. CO2 is toxic to the human body, be thankful that in that time you inhaled Oxygen instead of the CO2 someone else exhaled because enough can kill you. (According to
6. Aquafina or Fiji? Tough decision? Be thankful that you have the liberty to make that decision because 1.4 million people die each year due to a lack of access to clean drinking water. (UNICEF)
7. Are you scared of when your week comes up to post your blogs? Sure, this assignment is kind of inconvenient, be thankful that you live in a society that can assign a project like this because only one of every one hundred has their own computer. Just think some of us have two or three, I myself can dig through closets and find at least three computers that work but aren't even in use.

Depressing? Some of these facts may be but I wanted to remind those in the struggle of life that there is always something to be thankful for. Sometimes the best way to find the HUGEST ways to be thankful is when you look for the smallest things.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends and have yourself a happy holiday season.

The US and its foreign policy

This Tuesday there will be a conference regarding peace in the Middle East in Annapolis, MD. Dozens of Arab governments and international groups have been invited by the Bush administration yet the two main parties involved, the Palestinian government and the Israeli government, have not yet agreed on a draft agenda from which they will begin their negotiations.

A few reasons behind this is that either party cannot seem to agree on how the draft is to be worded. The Palestinians prefer that the draft be called a “document” while the Israelis prefer it be called a “statement.” The Israelis also wanted call Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people while the Palestinians wanted to call it a homeland for the Palestinian people.

I find that these disagreements are rather petty yet it is quite understandable why the Palestinians and Israelis just cannot agree. What I don’t understand is why is the US choosing to involve itself in such matters? I know that others may argue that US involvement in foreign affairs is necessary for the economy but is it necessary for the US to mediate between a dispute as petty as how a draft should be worded?

The US already has so many other problems to deal with and so I personally don’t think that it’s necessary to be so involved in other countries’ matters. Maybe the US sort of has an obligation to help other countries because it is the world’s leading economic superpower but I just don’t think that it needs to involve itself in problems like this when the UN can take care of it. If the US is going to be the mediator for so many disputes between different countries, then why was the UN established in the first place?

Poor Poor Kids

Hey, I nearly forgot to post tonight with all of this turkey excitement. Good thing I didn't, because I've got a weird one for you guys tonight.

We've all heard about the mass toy recall over the last few months. Most of these recalls are due to the plastic that the toys are made out of being laced with lead (If you haven't heard of this, you can check out a list of some of the toys that were recalled here). This massive toy recall has been a huge inconvenience to many consumers of Mattel products and other companies of similar nature. Further than that, one demographic is finding this more devastating than the parents who have to return little Billy's Batman figurine, and that's charity groups.

Charity groups like the Salvation Army take in box loads of donations daily. At the end of the donation time, staff members sort through clothes, dishes, appliances and crates upon crates of toys. Around Christmas time, this is usually a nice little trend for the groups but now with so many toys being recalled, sorting has become exponentially more tedious.

Because most of the donations given to the Salvation Army are second hand products, most do not come in their original packaging. For that reason, staff members can't just simply see the name of the model and check recall lists, they have to find serial numbers and other forms of i.d's on each toy and call the manufacturer to check. This has become quite the hassle to many of the charities and in response, some have chosen to not accept toy donations anymore.

The reason I felt that this semi-trivial story was worthy of telling you guys is this. These charities are some of the only ways some less fortunate children can get Christmas gifts this year. Many of these stores take toys off of their stock shelves and give them out for free to struggling tots during the holidays. Now that Goodwills and Salvation Armies aren't allowing toys in their stores, there are going to be a lot of disappointed little guys this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Entertainment Before Sympathy

From 1936 to 1939, a deadly war feuded in Spain between fascist dictator Francisco Franco and a group of rebel guerrilla republicans. This, the Spanish Civil war, is still a tragedy that the Spanish people struggle with. Being that the war ended only 68 years ago, most of the children of war victims are still alive. Only recently have actions been made to sympathize with those families. For example, a Historical Memory Law has just been passed this month to recognize the disputed deaths of Franco's opposition. Franco still has surviving followers who hail him on the day of his death yearly and rejoice in his victory of the war. As you can see, this, as I said, is still very alive and has not been rendered to a mere memory yet.

Despite the controversy and pain surrounding this historical event, a new video game depicting this time period is being released. Shadows of War: the Spanish Civil War is being released on the thirty-second year anniversary of Francisco Franco's death. It is a game where players can choose to either play on the Spanish Military's or the Rebel's side. Game play includes covert missions, airborne attacks, hand to hand combat and all that comes with a revolution.

Families of war victims and many other people are highly offended by the release of this game. The people feel (based on the nature of other video games) that killing characters will be a routine part of game play and thus will become trivial and meaningless. The game is fairly historically accurate (besides options changed for more challenging play), so it mentions real names of people who were involved and depicts some of them in animated form. Seeing how the war is only just recently being worked through, it is easy to see the lack of appropriateness in the release of this game.

I think that the game should not be released. It is sacrificing the sensitivity of families who lost loved ones for the sake of entertainment. Al though creators of the game claim that it teaches people about the event, really its all for fun. The game will have players enjoying shooting people and dropping bombs from an airplane on people who's kids are still in mourning. How would we feel if a video game came out about recent terrorist attacks or of this war came out? Would the fact that it came out in 2069 (68 years later) change the fact that players could either chose to be the side that blows up houses in Iraq, or the side that crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center based on play preferance? What has pop culture come to these days where people can be so insensitive to each other just to please ourselves?

life in the death penalty?

According to about a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For every inmate put to death, about 3 to 18 murders are prevented. According to some of these studies, this effect can be most seen in Texas and other states where inmates are executed more frequently than in other states. These studies were performed by economists in the last decade and reveal that murder rates decrease as the number of executions increase.

While I am not completely surprised by what is found in the studies, I feel that this definitely complicates the ethical debate surrounding the death penalty. I have always opposed the death penalty, yet with more money going to overcrowded prisons than to schools and with this new statistic, I find that I might be quite confused about the stance I should take regarding this issue. Is it truly worth it to spare one life at the risk of 3 to 18 others?

Monday, November 19, 2007

When is it going to end?

Earlier today, the FBI released a report that revealed an eight percent increase in hate crimes as a result of prejudice against race, religion, ethnicity or physical or mental disability as of 2006. In 2005, there were 7,163 reported criminal incidents and that increased to 7,722 last year. Only 12,600 of the 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in this report and more than half of the incidents that occurred in Jena, Louisiana in late 2006 were not included.

However, this incomplete report did not stop civil rights protestors from demonstrating at the Justice Department in Washington. Also, in September, about 20,000 protesters marched through Jena and just on November 3rd, hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Charleston,WV to urge others to add to hate crime charges against six white people who beated, tortured and sexually assaulted a 20 year old black woman.

Although the number of hate crimes has increased, the percentage of those caused by racial prejudice has decreased to 51.8 percent in 2006 from 54.7 percent in 2005. In the 2006 report,18.9 percent of hate crimes is blamed on religious bias, 15.5 percent on sexual orientation, and 12.7 percent on ethnic or national origin.

While I feel that we are all lucky to be living in a time and place where there is so much tolerance, this also makes me realize that not everyone across the country is as fortunate as we are. When are people ever going to stop? And why is it so difficult for them to accept people whom they feel are different from them?

They Just Keep Quitting

In the last year alone, many advisers have resigned from the Bush administration. We saw Rumsfeld call the quits last year and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales bid farewell just two months ago and the list goes on. Well, now our boy Dubya has another friend to miss as Fran Townsend (one of Bush's leading terrorist action advisers) packs her bags.

Fran Townsend had served Bush since early 2003. She played a huge role in the decision making of the Homeland Security Council and all in all was a key figure in our nation's considered caution toward terrorism. The president announced her resignation earlier this morning, but as it stands now, no one seems to know why she quit.

Because of her position, she spent most of her time defending Bush's decisions and helping to clarify his words to make him look better in the public eye. Taking this under consideration, we wonder why did she quit? Perhaps she was just doing her job and didn't really support Bush's reactions to acts of terrorism. Maybe she just got tired of being on the losing side. One can easily say that Bush has lost a significant amount of support lately. This decrease in popularity could have got to her head.

I know that asking this question is going to set this blog on fire with tons of answers, but I will ask it anyway for the sake of hearing you readers' likely enraged views.