Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Blog #15 : N.Korea Says U.S. 'Red Line' Is Trigger For War

It is no secret the communist states throughout the history do not hesitate to refuse playing by the rules set by the rest of the world. North Korea, one of the only true ‘rogue states’ in existence, proclaims the “redline” U.S. has proposed will be the trigger to another Korean War (or technically a recurrence of the Korean War that never ended).

In my previous blogs, I have criticized time and again Bush administration’s incoherent foreign policy to disarm other countries from nuclear weapons when they are pushing toward more advanced nuclear weapon developments in the home front. But being a Korean citizen for over two decades and having spent most of my life there, I know a good deal about the North Koreans, which is why I say they are an exception to my notion of fair nuclear game.

These liars can never be trusted or taken seriously, as they continue to prove themselves not worthy with repetitive attempts to terrorize South Koreans, send armed infiltration forces, construct underground tunnels for invasion and instigate military conflicts, all the while denying the accusations for their tyranny. Director of Policy Planning Mitchell Reiss nailed it with his remark: “North Korea cannot expect to be treated as a normal state unless and until it behaves like one.”

It is painfully obvious to anyone they stand no chance whatsoever in an all-out war. Just like in that Chinese submarine case, what they are after is political leverage to extract more money from the free worlds to maintain their military strength, since the embargo placed by U.S. annihilated little what they had that could call an economy. The announcement by the North Koreans is nothing new, with them being the same old pretenders they have always been, and thus does not require any special attention.

Link to the original article : http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=6988307§ion=news

Blog #14 : Florida Kerry supporters meet for group therapy

The reason they urge you to vote is to make it a fair game where everyone gets represented, and follows the outcome after the elections, whatever the outcome maybe. Quite a few loyal Kerry followers are extremely malcontent with the results, some even to the degree requiring professional medical attention. Being unable to comply with the protocol of agreeing to the result of voting is one thing, but I find this phenomenon very amusing more than anything.

To be honest, I was very indifferent about politics and never tried reading any political news before signing up for this class unless it dealt with technological or social issues I was curious about. Sure, I thought there would be people on the opposite extreme, obsessed with keeping up with news and expressing their political disposition. But little I knew about how deeply concerned some of these people were. The American Health Association even had to come up with a new term PEST, which stands for Post Election Selection Trauma.

Many of these fears seem unfounded or overly exaggerated, the reasons being “a country is being run by fascists”, “the president loves big businesses” or “they will have a draft.” Apparently I am not the only one who finds this ridiculous as the AHA is already mocked by some talk show hosts. But what I am more fascinated by the political attitude of the subscribers to these therapies, the legitimacy or need for these activities aside. It was not like they were forced to register, they volunteered to be medically treated. I am simply awestruck at how serious about politics some of these people are.

Link to the original article: http://www.bocanews.com/index.php?src=news&prid=10324&category=Local%20News

Blog #13 : Michael Moore Urges Democrats to Embrace Hollywood

This article found at reuters.com gives us Michael Moore’s response to the claims that say he and the Hollywood are one of the reasons for Democratic loss in the elections. Moore argues, on the contrary, it was he and other people in the movie industry that helped the Democrats from more embarrassing loss. I am yet to see that controversial work called “Fahrenheit 9/11”, which is highly acclaimed and passionately despised at the same time. Yet I have heard enough to know the author, Michael Moore, is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in the politics.

I am not exactly sure what Moore was accused for. He says, “"For the last month, we've had to listen to a lot of conservative pundits talk about how Democrats need to run away from Hollywood.” That makes me guess the Republicans must have said something along the line of politically inclined movies like Moore’s doing more harm than good to the Democrats, be it leaning toward left or right. The article briefly mentions it here: “After Bush's re-election last month, some analysts suggested that Moore and other outspoken celebrities on the left had had become polarizing figures who alienated Middle America as much as they galvanized the Democratic faithful.”

Moore claims people are more likely to be influenced by the big figures in the entertainment industry, no matter what their political affiliation is. As an example, he cites Gov. Arnold and former President Ronald Reagan. While I must admit we all love “Ahnuld”, his remarks are extreme and provoking as what he is known for. Somehow I doubt people would be so indifferent and delusional as to blindly follow whatever a movie star tells you to do. Perhaps this condescending elitist attitude of his is one of the reasons that cost the Democrats a victory?

Link to the original : http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=7010015§ion=news

Blog #12 : Final Ohio Vote Tally Shows Smaller Margin for Bush

It has been some time since the original article of my blog entry #6 was written, and the possibility of recount in Ohio discussed earlier was realized as the Ohio Secretary of State announced a Bush victory. Unfortunately the article does not mention how it was made possible and how exactly they administered the recounting process, failing to answer my questions in the blog #6. In short, the gap was narrowed, but not enough to overturn the result of the previous counting. This is still somewhat interesting, since it proves the skepticism and questions raised about the voting process was not false after all.

I am glad to see this whole recount thing is turning out to be a sound venture headed in a right direction. According to the article, this organization called Democratic National Committee is running some kind of research on the Ohio case. They assure us their task is not to challenge of the outcome, but to improve the polling process through analysis. Their report will touch on agenda like undermanned polling places, inefficient polling process and allegations regarding provisional ballots.

Kerry and his Party should be applauded for not disputing with the results of the recount even when it was a remarkably close race in a dead heat. Magnifying the controversy surrounding the election that ended over a month ago cannot be good for national security and economy, and the Democrats are well aware of that fact, it appears. What I would still like see is the Green Party’s response to the outcome of the recount they were longing for.

Link to the original article : http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=7011495

Blog #11: W.House: Borrowing to Help Fund Social Security Plan

As I was reading various articles on the current problems and future outlook on the U.S. economy for our group blog project, I have noticed much of the problem stems from the fact that the U.S. government is in huge debt.

To my understanding, the Republicans are telling us the social security system as of now is problematic and will result in either lessened benefits or drastic increase in tax. The democrats, as usual, are taking an opposite stance by stating “privatization” will create an additional burden to already precarious debt situation. McCain and his colleagues claim this reform may invoke some initial expenditure up to just $2 trillion, but will prove beneficial in the long run. The author does not forget to remind us how critical the federal budget deficit is by quoting numbers for the 2004 fiscal year.

Personally, I agree a social security reform of some sort is required after all; however, I tend to agree with the democratic disposition of lessening the role of the government in the social security program. It could be just that I am too paranoid from seeing so many federally controlled and funded welfare projects gone wrong. But there is one thing I have noticed consistent in some of the republican policies like my other blog entry on minimum wage: they like to pretend being more broad-minded and forward-thinking by presenting you some idealistic outlook of distant future to make you turn away from facing problems of the present. Taking care of holes in the social security may appear system may appear to be the priority at the moment, but the seemingly less significant problem of national debt could turn into something more catastrophic if they keep introducing ways to aggravate it.

Link to the original article : http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=7007838

Monday, December 06, 2004

Blog #15 - Farwell English 1101. . .

This semester has been quite a journey. Coming into this class, I didn't know that it would involve so much politics. I am certainly glad that I got to engage in class discussions and learn more about myself in a political manner. I really got to see most sides of the political spectrum, and have developed my own standpoints and perspectives. I think it was pretty interesting how the elections were held during the course. That also helped me get more involved into politics and reading news. I enjoyed watching Journeys with George, because it really opened up a new face and a new character of President Bush. It showed the many complications and processes of campaigning and also showed a great deal communications and friendships that are involved in campaigning. Also I have dispised doing blogs, but however I am glad that I did do them. It was a great way to improve reading, catch up on news, and enhance writing skills all in one. It was also a great way to express ideas and read other people's thoughts and whatnot. I think that blogging should be mandatory in english classes. It really helps. As for me, if they do not become mandatory, I believe that this may be the last blog I write due to my laziness and my constant writer's block. Have a great winter break.

Blog #14 - Survey: Net file-sharing doesn't hurt most musicians

A lot of musicians have said that the internet has helped them make more money from their work despite all the free file-trading services online such as kazaa. Recording label companies hired a good amount of lawyers and have sued thousands of individuals who share files through networking. A lot of musician artists were survyed and two thirds of those surveyed said file sharing wasn't a big threat to them and less than one third said file sharing was a major threat. Only about 3 percent said the internet worked against their protection of works. So statistics show that file sharing isn't all that bad. It can't hurt record labels that bad, right? Or am I wrong. I believe that they should allow file sharing because it really doesn't pose a huge threat to anybody. In fact, I believe it to be a better way to publicize music and what not.


Blog #13 - Survey: Gas prices fall nearly 3 cents

On Sunday, a national survey showed gas prices falling again another 3 cents to aveage $1.93 per gallon of self served unleaded. Over the past two weeks thats a 3 cent drop and since October 22, it has dropped a whopping 11 cents. These statistics come from Trilby Lundberg who publishes surveys based on the latest reports on about 7,000 gas stations. Lundberg predicted that the prices of gas would drop more over the weeks. Currently, drives in Tulsa, Oklahoma paid $1.73 per gallon which is the least in the nation, while those in Hawaii paid at most $2.32 per gallon. Well I really hope that the gas prices continue to drop because driving from Marietta to downtown eats up gas. Im sure I use more than a full tank each week, especially because of work. Think about adding up all the gallons you use in just one month. Even three cents can make a difference.


Blog #12: Frist: Abstinence-only programs need review

"Abstinence-only" programs recieved approximately $170 million from Congress and teach children and teens te benefits of abstaining from intercourse until marriage. However, they are not allowed to engage in discussion about any kind of benefits from birth control or the use of condoms in preventing the spread of STDS. Republican Henry Waxman found that in 11 of the 13 most common programs revealed misleading information. He stated that the effectiveness of condoms used to prevent pregnancy and transfer of STDS was underestimated. Dr. Frist was called and asked about this issue due to his medical expertise. After the issues were raised, Dr. Frist did say that the programs be reviewed. "Whether it's abstinence or whether it's a condom or whether it is ... washing hands in terms of the flu, all of these are public health challenges," Frist said. This is very true. Every adolescent and young teen should be well informed with the right information pertaining to sexual intercourse and the reliability of the protections that are out there.


Blot #10 : Paralyzed South Korean Woman Walks Thanks to Adult Stem Cell Research

This relatively new article posted at "Lifenews.com" really shocked me with the rate medical world is advancing nowadays, that is, if the information presented in this article is accurate. In the article, a South Korean woman who was paralyzed for 20 years is able to walk again, thanks to adult stem cell research. The other good news is that this advancement in stem cell research provides further evidence of the success scientists are having with the more ethical form of stem cells, namely non-fetus stem cells. If what this article alleges is true, I believe that this is one of the most influential break-throughs of the past few decades.

Unfortunately, I believe that this new adult stem cell development has raised more questions about the necessity of embryonic stem cell research, which has yielded little in the way of concrete results. Research using adult stem cells also does not involve the ethical problems posed by embryonic stem cell research, which involves the killing of human embryos. While more than one hundred treatments have been developed using adult stem cells, no patients have been cured with embryonic stem cells after more than two decades of research.

Indeed, if this type of stem cell research and practical use proves to be successful, advancements in this field will surely accelerate for the benefit for all. There will not be political, religious, and ethical issues impeding in the advancements of stem cell research. Therefore, stem cell research can be allowed to continue with out any restrictions.

Blot #9 : Guinea Pig Kids

Vulnerable children in some of New York's poorest districts are being forced to take part in HIV drug trials. This article implies that children are being exploited as revealed in the following excerpt :

"HIV positive children, some only a few months old, are enrolled in toxic experiments without the consent of guardians or relatives. In some cases where parents have refused to give children their medication, they have been placed in care. The city's administration of Children's Services (ACS) does not even require a court order to place HIV kids with foster parents or in children's homes, where they can continue to give them experimental drugs."

The lack of controversy surrounding this issue makes me read this article with just a grain of salt, and nothing more. If this is true, and I'm inclined to think it is considering the effort put forth to uncover this, that this should be enough to topple every single drug company involved, the ACS, and the entire New York City government starting at the top.

Moreover, this article seems misleading to me. Considering the fact that many of these children are terminally ill and may never live to the legal age of 18, perhaps this is a way for drug companies and the sick children to mutually benefit. The drug companies are able to use promising and experimental drugs to children for free. Children, who under other circumstances would not have a chance on earth to live without these drugs. In my opinion, these children are being rescued and are being given hope, rather than being tortured and exploited.

Link to the original article : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/this_world/4035345.stm

Blog #8 : Should the IRS hire private tax collectors?

The IRS is considering hiring private tax collectors in order to increase cash inflows. "Should the IRS hire private tax collectors?" by Jeff Schnepper points out that the government is owed some $13 billion from individuals who would pay if asked or nudged. Unfortunately, it cannot collect the money with its current staff. Therefore, it is proposing to hire private collectors to bring in the cash in, offering them a commission of 25% of what is owed a total of $3.25 billion. In comparison, private tax collection for real estate taxes is practiced today by most jurisdictions in the United States, and a number of states hire contractors to collect income taxes.

On the other hand, all this is just in theory because by law, the IRS cannot hire out its tax collections without specific Congressional approval. But the idea of privatization of tax collection, sometimes referred to as "tax farming" is not an original idea. The article points out that it has been done from society dating back to ancient civilization. First, talks of privatizing social security and now this. Frankly, the idea of privatizing tax collection sounds like a good idea. It would help the IRS to focus on more important matters than accounts payable. But on the other hand, this idea is risky in terms of things going wrong. It would be costly and it could lead to an invasion of the privacy of American taxpayers. The concern is that a private collections agency may engage in tactics that a government agency would not.

Link to the original article : http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Taxes/P53027.asp

Blog #7 : China Launches New Class of Nuclear Sub

This article raises concern over a new military development by China. It alleges that China has recently launched the first model of a new class of nuclear submarines deigned to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles. It was rather incomprehensible why the article points out the missile will have the ability to reach targets in the U.S. That seemed to be a very random statement, possibly made to grab the reader’s attention. I believe that the statement may have been over the top, if not flat out accusing China of being a direct threat to the U.S.

Furthermore, China is also modernizing its land-based nuclear missile force. Although considered unlikely in the near term, the most likely avenue for conflict between the United States and China is over Taiwan, which China regards as a rogue province. Taiwan is seeking high-tech weaponry from the United States, including diesel submarines and anti-submarine aircraft. This all seems very reminiscent of the arms race during the days of the cold war between the U.S. and Russia many years ago.
In addition, the United States, France, Russia and the United Kingdom all have submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. I believe that these subs aren't built for actual use, but to influence and deter. At this moment, the US military is unrivaled; however, that may change soon and China would start to flex its muscles in the world political arena. The real goal of these weapons is probably global influence more than anything. Is this nuclear submarine a real threat to the U.S.? Hardly. One would need to put it in the context of a PR maneuver and a deterrent to get the real picture.

McCain criticizes Pentagon on Iraq war

John McCain told "Fox News Sunday" that more troops probably will be required to protect polling places during next month's elections, prosecute the fight against the insurgency and help reconstruct Falluja, the volatile city where U.S. forces have been conducting an operation. The United States is dispatching an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq and extending the stays of more than 10,000 others to bolster security ahead of January's scheduled elections, the Pentagon said last week. The moves will bring the number of U.S. troops in Iraq from nearly 140,000 to an all-time high of about 150,000, the Pentagon said.

Sen. Joe Biden said U.S. forces in Iraq are still paying an awesome price for the initial failures on policy and refusal to change them of this administration, of going in with too little power and too little legitimacy. However, Biden also said that, after his trip to Iraq, he was less concerned about an outbreak of civil war than I am about the outbreak of civil chaos. He told reporters that he feels the pentagon hasn’t quite figured out exactly what they want to do yet, but will probably come up with a final decision for Iraq in the near future.

Frist predicts intelligence compromise this week

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist predicted Sunday that Congress will have an intelligence overhaul bill by midweek, even though the chairmen of the House and Senate armed services committees want changes in its current version. Under the new bill, U.S. intelligence that is under the Pentagon's control would fall under a central director of intelligence. He would direct all of the organizations and then make sure that whoever needs the intelligence gets the right information.

One of the big problems is that some of the Senators and Representatives are concerned with the way some of the things will be run. Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, say they want the bill to guarantee that those on the war front would get timely information, while other supporters of the bill, Republicans and Democrats alike, say such provisions can wait. The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jane Harman of California, said that Hunter is misinformed if he thinks that the new bill will disrupt communications between the battlefield and tactical satellites that help commanders target the enemy.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Blog #15 Parting is such Sweet Sorrow

End of the line, last required entry of the semester! I've decided to write about my adventures in English 1101 and what I have thought of this class. Coming into the class on the first day I remember Dr Tryon saying something about how the class was focused on the election and politics, that very moment I about decided to drop English 1101 this semester and switch to another class or take it later. I have never been into politics and was surely going to fail an English class devoted to it, but something inside me said, I can make it through. So we had more classes and with every class, it seemed to get a little more interesting. Having to read articles and have to care at least somewhat about the election made me get into it. Now I am still not very interested in politics as a whole but I do know what the issues are and I am more informed about the whole politics thing, which is amazing to me. The class setup is pretty good, class discussions could of been a little better, but we are at Tech, so I don't expect student to start outgoing and heated debates. :) Ok so I’m coming up on 250 words so I guess I should wrap this up by saying that the class was cool, I learned a lot about a subject that I didn’t really care for in the begining and I hope I make at least a B!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Blog #14 Ridge steps down as Homeland Security chief

"There will always be more to do, but today, America is significantly stronger and safer than ever before," Tom Ridge said in his resignation letter from being the Homeland Security Chief. He will hold his office until an adequate successor is found, but who will replace Tom Ridge? Who ever it is will have big shoes to fill. Since its conception in 2001 soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the department of homeland security has one main goal, to protect America against any future terrorist attacks. So far the department has done a first-rate job in keeping America safe and alert. With Tom Ridge now taking a step down, hopefully the department can progress forward with better security by receiving more information of possible threats and alerting citizens of possible future dangers. Supervising a staff of over one hundred and eighty thousand people is no small task, as Tom Ridge probably knows from the first hand experience he got when he was secretary of homeland security. Not just anyone can manage such a immense amount of people and make it work efficiently and effectively as Ridge has done. As the Bush administration tries to find a quality replacement for Ridge, hopefully he can keep the department together enough to cope with the new replacement. Whoever they find to do the job has a hefty task o keeping this country safe, and not just any guy off the street can do the job that Tom Ridge did so well.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

New Homeland Security chief faces fight to unify anti-terror efforts

With Tom Ridge stepping down as Director of Homeland Security, the new person coming in has a big set of shoes to fill. Tom Ridge's successor as chief of the Homeland Security Department will have to unify a sprawling bureaucracy, a deadly serious job where failure could put the United States at risk of another terror attack.

Ridge, who announced his resignation Tuesday, acknowledged the frustrations of working out the kinks in the broadest government reorganization in half a century, a job critics say remains largely incomplete. Ridge said he will remain in the job until February 1, unless the Senate confirms his successor earlier.

There are many choices as Ridge's replacement. Among those cited as potential candidates are Bernard Kerik, Joe Allbaugh, Mike Leavitt, and Fran Townsend. All of these men have worked with the government and large emergency situations before. Ridge is the seventh of Bush's 15-member Cabinet to announce they won't be part of the second term. More are expected, and administration officials said Treasury Secretary John Snow or Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson appear to be next.

Bush taps Nebraska governor for Cabinet

As Bush is about ready to enter his second term in office, he has had the opportunity to appoint many new people to his cabinet. Just recently a new secretary of state and a new homeland security chief have been appointed. President Bush on Thursday selected Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, a Republican attorney who grew up on an Iowa dairy farm, as secretary of Agriculture to oversee the nation's farm and food programs.

Johanns, 54, would succeed Ann M. Veneman, who recently announced her resignation despite saying earlier that she wanted to stay. Johanns has spent two terms serving the state of Nebraska as governor. The nomination, which requires Senate confirmation, reflects the administration's desire to focus heavily on farm trade over the next four years.

Bush said that in his second term, he would put a high priority on helping farm families, including keeping taxes low and working to repeal the estate tax. The estate tax, which puts a tax on the amount of land that you own, hurts farmers the most, which count on having lots of land to grow their crops on.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blog #6 : Recount in Ohio A Sure Thing

David Cobb of the Green Party is apparently unsatisfied with the whole counting business that went down in Ohio. I am not all too clear what exactly happened, but the following is what the article suggests : “The Ohio presidential election was marred by numerous press and independent reports of mis-marked and discarded ballots, problems with electronic voting machines and the targeted disenfranchisement of African American voters.”
Evidently, the Green Party has no chance to win the elections no matter how many recounts they manage to pull off, which makes one wonder what their true intent is. On one hand, this could be a genuine attempt to improve and revise the voting system sometimes accused of corruption and unfairness. On the other hand, some suggest this is solely due to the fact the Green Party tends to be on the left-wing; they see the republicans as greater evil of the two and want the democrats to win if they had to choose their poison, in which case this whole recount thing is nothing but asinine. Or it could be that they are just out to prove republicans are more fraudulent.

Another question I have is how this recount thing is going to take place. If memory serves me right, they had something similar in Florida four years ago, and their appeal was turned down by the Supreme Court. How is this case different from then? Let’s suppose they succeed to do the recount. How are they supposed prove anything when everything is done electronically? I just hope this doesn’t turn out to be fruitless waste of the supporters’ money, which is where it seems to be headed.

Link to the original article : http://www.commondreams.org/news2004/1115-06.htm

Shots fired as Powell visits Haiti

Earlier this week, Colin Powell visited the capital of the island republic of Haiti, Port-Au-Prince. The former Secretary of State was there because of the recent violent outbreaks that have been happening there. The gunfire erupted shortly after Powell entered the palace for a meeting with interim President Boniface Alexandre and other Haitian officials. It was unclear whether the shooting was directed at the palace.

Security guards around the palace returned fire and soon several armored vehicles showed up and surrounded the place and patrol the surrounding streets. Hours later, Powell said the solution to violence on the Caribbean nation is the continued rapid buildup of United Nations troops. He believes that the answer is more UN troops in the area to combat the violence, such as the attack earlier that morning. Powell also promised continued aid to Haiti for hurricane recovery and economic development and said he is confident the country can move toward elections next year.

Blog #5 : Bush's nuclear plan bombs

I was just watching the history channel yesterday (the only TV channel I would watch by the way), and they had this documentary on a scrapped STOL aircraft project near the end of the World War II. Not exactly a military buff, but I am a firm believer in the theory that says military researches often lead to a breakthrough in consumer technology unattainable otherwise. In general, every penny spent in a successful R & D is worth more than a million in the future. But this is nuclear weapons we are talking about here, the very same reason why there are War in Iraq and negotiations with North Korea. Anyone with an objective eye would see this as an obvious double standard which makes the allies uneasy and gives justification to enemies for their actions. I am not a subscriber to “Popular Science”, but there has to be a better use of our resources in a more environment friendly project.

Most military analysts will agree that in the contemporary warfare, it is extremely unlikely to see actual nuclear engagement unless things have gone terribly wrong. What it does is that it acts as a powerful deterrent against quantitatively or qualitatively superior foe, resulting in a “power balance”. Nukes of the current generation more than fulfill this role, and the U.S. has no opponent that could give her a run for her money at the moment. Actually, development of relatively weaker tactical baby-nukes could temper this long-established apprehension on nukes and result in more casual and carefree use of nuclear weapons, in the same vein as the concept of “Gateway drugs”.

It is a shame to have the budget cut when the project was about to be finished with just few more month. Even then, I agree with democrats saying : “ the finished weapon would never be used and could hurt U.S. interests in discouraging weapons programs in other nations.” The B-2 Spirit bomber comes to mind – an aircraft costing more than a billion dollars per unit and hardly getting used in actual battle in the fear of losing the top-secret technology that cost the U.S. Air Force so dearly. Kudos for these republicans that stepped up to say no, whatever their true motivation was.

link to the original article : http://www.trivalleyherald.com/Stories/0,1413,86~10669~2552825,00.html#

Blog #4 : A gift of gold

The dollar is dropping like a stone in international currency markets. It has dropped nearly 30 percent since 2001, and is now at a record low. Even without the recent dour pronouncements of Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretary John Snow, the greenback is likely to fall further.

The article points out that the main reason is because Americans are spending more than they make, falling deeper and deeper into debt. Almost all of the increase in public debt over the last four years, some 1 trillion dollars, has been financed by foreigners who lend Americans the money. The article also warns that although a depreciated dollar may be wonderful for American exporters, everything that gets import will be more expensive in return. Namely, oil in particular. This would undoubtedtly affect inflation and interest rates in a way that would eventually lower the standards of living in America.

What I do not agree with Reich is when he states:
“If I were cynical, I'd suspect the White House had an ideological agenda to starve the government so it can't do much of anything in the future except wage war.” I find that statement to be utterly off the wall. The author is attempting to exagerate and force the audience to agree with him using scare tactics to get his point across. On the other hand, the article does bring to light the alarmingness of the ever increasing debt in America, especially the amount of debt capital that is flowing into America.

Link to the original article : http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=8907

Blog #15 Ridge Steps Down as Homeland Security Chief

As Americans have realized since the attacks of September 11, 2001, terrorists are constantly planning on future attacks against the United States. In order to guard against such attacks in the future, the Department of Homeland Security was given the task of creating a national strategy to protect the United States from terrorist acts. President Bush then made Tom Ridge the security advisor for the department. Ridge's job included overseeing the 180,000 people that made up the department. Since Ridge began his tenure, twenty-two agencies were added to the department. As a citizen of the United States, I have regained my confidence that America is safe once again due to the ongoing effort by the Department of Homeland Security to maintain the safety of the United States. President Bush agrees as he stated, "His efforts have resulted in safer skies, increased border and port security, and enhanced measures to safeguard our critical infrastructure and the American public." Bush continued to say,"In the fight against terrorism, he has played a vital role in protecting the American people from a real and ongoing threat." The article noted that Ridge's most known move was creating America's threat-warning system which raises from yellow to orange with the threat of terrorism is high. After doing an excellent job overseeing the department, Ridge's position must be filled by an individual as committed to serving the United States. Fortuneately, Ridge will remain the security chief until February 1st when a trustworthy and dependable replacement is ready.

Blog #14 Bush thanks Canadians for Post-9/11 Help

During the hours of chaos that followed the attacks on September 11, 2001, many American travelers were stranded as the airspace in the United States was shut down. Afraid that planes were in danger of hijacking, President Bush closed all airports in the United States. Thus many planes carrying Americans were forced to land in Canada. The article claims that nearly thirty-three thousand Americans were left in Canada. As a result, Canadians, "came to the aid of men and women and children who were worried and confused and had nowhere to sleep and asked for nothing in return." As the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin would agree, the neighboring United States and Canada must work together in order to achieve practical goals and support each other. The hospitality that Canadians showed Americans in such a time of confusion and worry proved that Canada was a country the United States could depend on in the future. In order to show his appreciation, President Bush traveled to Halifax and spoke to the people on several issues as well as the attacks on September 11th. After thanking the citizens of Canada, Bush explained his decision to invade Iraq as one of someone "who does what he thinks is right and will continue to do what I think is right." It is widely known that Canadians are against the war on Iraq. Bush also discussed America's reason for banning Canadian cattle. Despite Prime Minister Martin's belief that the United States should lift the ban, Americans are concerned after a case of mad cow disease was found in Washington D.C. Overall, President Bush's visit to Canada help mend the ties between the two countries. Ties which had been damaged only a year before.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Blog #3 : General says U.S. military isn't overextended

There are certain things that carry a different level of meaning when uttered by an individual of important rank and position. General John Abizaid urged ‘terrorist states’ not to mess with the best in his interview with “USA Today”, by stating the obvious: U.S. is the king of the hill at the present time. Sure enough, no one would refute what the general said. However, this coming from the commanding general of the U.S. Central Command, may well be taken the wrong way. I can see how other governments or countries could take it as ‘rubbing it in’ with arrogance, or even indirectly threatening them.

Especially, the part where he talks about the nuclear capability does not bode well for the nearly solitary efforts of the U.S. Government in keeping the rest of the world nuke-free. Take the case of Iraq war for instance, Bush & Co. said “the hell with IEAE” and proceeded with the war to invade Iraq first, and then look for traces of alleged WMDs, which resembles the pattern of “plant and bust” strategy employed in War on Drugs. I am not entirely denying the possibility of the WMD threat being real; rather, the point I am trying to make is that no matter what the outcome of the war or WMD search is, even some of the allies see the U.S. as the dogmatic nation that wants to reign over others by monopolizing nukes.

As a patriotic South Korean citizen concerned about the well being of the homeland, I certainly do not appreciate hearing about any nuclear weapons projects those hostile communist may have up their sleeves, much in the same vein as U.S. not allowing the Iraqi nuclear weapons program. But at the same time, I simply cannot come up with a valid argument when confronted with questions like: “Why is U.S. so obsessed in meddling in nuclear programs on other parts of the planet while she boasts the strongest nuclear military presence?” General Abizaid remarks sound like the missing link to the answer : “Because when you have nukes, you are feared. This is what nukes are for. So that’s exactly why we don’t want others to have them”

The bottom line is, a military personnel of such echelon assumes the responsibility behind his speech, even if he is not a diplomat highly trained in rhetoric. War on terrorism may have been seen unavoidable by the administration, which I fully understand. Seemingly careless comments such as the one by General Abizaid, on the other hand, serve no purpose other than stirring up more of already rampant anti-U.S. sentiments. As they always say, some things are better left unsaid.

Blog #13 PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror

With the wish to use information from the media to its advantage, the Bush administration has begun to create false stories in order to view the reactions of its enemies. While this tactic has been used by many armies throughout history, the United States most recently used it on October 14, 2004, when it spread the message that the attack on Fallujah was set to begin. As many people later realized, the attack would not occur for another three weeks. Although many Americans are angered by the incorrect information, it is beneficial to the army to gain an understanding of the enemies preparation for a future attack. Incorrect information is also being given to the people of Iraq through Arabic television channels. Despite the great benefit of misinforming the media, several American officials disagree with the new campaign. A senior defense official stated, "The movement of information has gone from the public affairs world to the psychological operations world. What's at stake is the credibility of people in uniform." Although I understand point of the last comment, I believe that this campaign is worth the risk of losing credibility. In fact, I believe that the statement, "Information is part of the battlefield in a way that it's never been before. We'd be foolish not to try to use it to our advantage," is the most important in determining whether or not to continue the use of incorrect information. Although the media informs Americans of important events around the world, I believe that it should avoid informing individuals of the military's future plans. Such information would allow enemies to gather together and prepare for a battle.

Bush Tries to Mend Fences With Canadian PM

Over the years, an understood uneasiness has formed between Canada and the United States. However, earlier this week, Bush met with the Canadian Prime Minister to discuss and try and mend these problems. Even as thousands of Canadian protesters showed up to protest Bush, he pushed aside the suggestions that his decisions early in his first term had hurt ties with Canada.

One of the most important things on the agenda was the recent ban of Canadian beef by American conumers. The beef ban is a leading irritant in a relationship that has suffered during Bush's presidency, and the issue loomed large in Bush's first official trip to Canada. The ban has been in place since 2003. However, The Bush administration has since opened its border to some Canadian beef, but live cattle remain prohibited. Canadian ranchers are desperate, estimating they have lost more than $2 billion.

Eventually, Bush and the Prime Minister of Canada want to come to some sort of agreement about the beef. Bush wants to be able to allow cows across. Yet a resolution is months off. Bush is facing much opposition back home. The Office of Management and Budget has three months to study a rule that would allow into the United States boxed beef and live cattle younger than 30 months; the deadline for completion of the study is mid-February. Then Congress has two months to scrutinize the proposed rule, a senior administration official said.

Blog #15 Academic Liberals

While browsing the website of the local newspaper of my birthplace ("The Orange County Register"), I found an incredibly interesting question posed as well as some rather striking answers. The question is "Why do liberals end up in academia?" I have noticed in my years of schooling that I have had many great teachers who were very liberal yet for some reason I have never considered why education is so attractive to liberals. Is there an attraction to liberal ideals in the entire academic world or is this simply an event that I have noticed in my extremely isolated educational experience? My humble opinion as to why this is true is that the liberal ideas are built on critical thinking. The modern education focuses on this idea and therefore I believe that a truly critical thinker is more attracted to the well thought out and critical views of liberals. Conservatives on the other hand would not be recognized as the critical thinking group because their platform is much more free form and many times not even supported factually but only by morality. My opinion is of course, as I stated earlier, is formed on only a sampling of people involved in academia but I do believe that if you performed research on the issue you would find that some of the most highly educated individuals in our nation are critical thinking liberals, while many middle class workers are morality driven conservatives.

http://www.ocregister.com/ocr/2004/11/30/sections/commentary/(note that this was not an article but simply an interesting question posed)

Blog #14 Wal-Mart and America

Bruce Bartlett is the author of the editorial entitled "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" and it addresses some rarely discussed issues. Bartlett explains how a show on PBS entitled "Frontline" portrayed Wal-Mart and its power over the American economy. The problem with his editorial is that is seemed that he has too much of an emotional attachment to the situation to portray the facts in a persuasive and effective manner. Bartlett mentioned that he was interviewed for the special and only received "3 seconds" of airtime. In addition to this negative emotional attachment he started the article off by sharing that he did not like "Frontline" at all because of its liberal stance on issues. While the article does possess a fair amount of interesting facts about Wal-Mart influence and ironic control over the economy I found Bartlett's persuasion techniques to be so faulty that I was distracted from the article's topic. There are many rhetorical strategies and persuasion techniques that should be used to create an effective article yet Bartlett seems to ignore all of these rules. Despite the faulty writing, I would like to discuss the issue. Wal-Mart is a daily asset to many Americans. Without Wal-Mart we would all be inconvenienced in very many ways, especially monetarily. I realize that there are problems with the increasing power of Wal-Mart but with every pro there is always a con to accompany it. People are simply forced to consider whether they want to surrender economic control to a company and receive lower prices or if they want everyone to receive equal power and pay higher prices. I know what I prefer. How about you?


Ridge steps down as Homeland Security chief

Tom Ridge, the director of Homeland security, recently announced that he is stepping down from his office. Ridge was the very first Homeland Security cheif. Before that he was governer of Pennsylvania. Ridge resigned Tuesday, but he will remain in the post until February 1 unless a successor is confirmed sooner. A successor has not been confirmed yet.

President Bush hailed Ridge's efforts as the nation's first-ever secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing its 180,000 personnel. Bush said in a statement thatRidge has made the skies safer, increased border and port security, and enhanced measures to safeguard our critical infrastructure and the American public. Ridge accepted the job of homeland security adviser to Bush just days after the September 11 attacks, and stepped into the job of secretary in January 2003 as 22 government agencies were blended into the Department of Homeland Security.

The department was charged with developing and coordinating a national strategy to protect against terrorist threats in the United States. Ridge's biggest claim to fame is the creation of the color coded alert system for the nations terror threat. Ridge has won praise for tackling what was widely regarded as an exceedingly difficult job. But many outside observers say the department is falling short of delivering what it should and could.

Blog #13 Children Searching For The Person to Give Them Candy


Recently there has been some more debate over the issue of same sex marriage in Massachusetts. The court has ruled, once again, that same sex marriage will be legal in Massachusetts. Rona Marech explains all of the problems surrounding the issue extensively in her article entitled “Justices decline battle over gay marriage Opponents lose bid to challenge Massachusetts law.” All of her facts and stats simply cause me to think about the bigger problem that surrounds this issue. The root of the problem with Massachusetts allowing gay marriage is the disunity that is causes in our great nation. The situation that this parallels is one that I am sure everyone has experienced as a young child. If you wanted something like a piece of candy for example, you would go to your dad and ask. If your dad says no then you would go to your mom just to see if she would say yes, and if she did there would almost always be a problem. There is suddenly a question of superiority and absolute truth. Who is right and who is wrong? This is a significant problem that must be fixed. I am not in any way stating that I support a constitutional amendment but I do strongly disagree with the picture that is being portrayed by the disagreement of the different entities of the whole body. This issue is causing Americans to act like young children searching for the person who will give them the answer that they desire. This is simply not acceptable.

Blog #12 Students and their study Habits!

I am responding to an article that I found posted by Dr. Tryon on the main course blog. It concerns college students and their work ethic. Personally I found all the information in the article to be true of many colleges but not of Georgia Tech. While I know that this is rather cliché to say that Georgia Tech is harder to receive pity from students in other schools, I have found through experience that this is true. We all just recently returned from Thanksgiving break. Fortunately I had managed my time well and was not incredibly overwhelmed with work and so I was able to spend some time with friends who attend other colleges. When they were talking about school I really thought that they must be joking! Who really has time to watch television and attend parties every night? I feel truly blessed when I have enough time to sleep. The article's fascinating and believable statistics support what I have thought all along. College has become so much less of what it used to be. Nearly everyone is going to college because it is "what you do" after high school. It is scary to think that someone with a college degree could be someone who was just smart enough to show up on exam days to take a multiple guess test and be saved by the curve. When I am reminded of how many other colleges function, other than Georgia Tech and a select other few, I ponder exactly why I am here. Why have I chosen the harder road? In the future will this suffering really get me somewhere that another student’s enjoyment won't? I surely hope so!


Blog #11 The Loser Republicans

Editorialist David Limbaugh questions the Democratic Attitude towards Republicans in his latest article. Limbaugh states, that he believes Democrats are accusing the Republican Party of being boastful and pushy simply because they would like to be the winners. This observation has been quite similar to my own. In the aftermath of the November election is has been a constant bashing of the Conservative leaders. The bashing seems to be irrelevant, ineffective, and driven by jealously. This is in no way a form of constructive criticism. There is no effectiveness in simply pointing fingers at the opponent. As Limbaugh points out, there is obviously something that the Republican Party is doing correctly if they have won two consecutive elections. The problem lies in the fact that the Democrats have not yet accepted their defeat and are still enraged at the Republicans triumph. What they don't realize is that acting like children on the playground does not reflect well on them and their chances of winning in 2008. My question is, when will this stop? When will the Democrats accept that they lost and for four more years a Republican will be in charge of this country? Once we have chosen a leader it is time to come together and fight for the common good of our nation. There is no victory in name-calling and finger pointing and there is no reason that the Republicans should be acting like losers when they clearly won.


Blog #12 Board Accepts Nuclear Vow by Iranians

The International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution on November 29 allowing Iran's total freeze of a portion of its nuclear program. While thirty-five countries make up the I.A.E.A, it appears as though the United States is the only country displeased with the resolution. This resolution will allow Iran to avoid a meeting with the United Nations Security Council which could have led to censure or sanctions. Jackie Sanders, head of the American delegation, declared that, "Iran's assertion that it wants to produce only nuclear energy, not bombs, is untrue, and that Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons program that poses a growing threat to international peace and security." Although the existence of a nuclear program for Iran worries me, I believe that little if any danger exists as the United States is the only country alarmed. Countries such as Britain, Germany, Russia, and China believe that the recent resolution was correct and that no meeting with the Security Council is necessary. Thus the United States should lessen its worries regarding a nuclear threat from Iran. Interestingly, the resolution does criticize Iran for failing to fully cooperate with the I.A.E.A. However, the resolution allows Iran to continue its right to develop peaceful nuclear energy. Currently, several nations are questioning the operation of nearly twenty centrifuges which can enrich uranium for a bomb. One Iranian official answered stating that the centrifuges had been stopped thus showing that uranium enrichment was frozen. Although I support the decisions of President Bush, I believe this issue has been improved upon with the resolution.