Fires temper students, faculty
Sep20

Fires temper students, faculty

The glow of the flames lit the horizon like light pollution from a large city. Police barricades blocked off the dangerous area as traffic streamed from the town. Bastrop, Texas was burning. Junior international business major Bethany Greeson’s grandparents live in the Bastrop area, and their home is her home while she is attending UMHB. It was one of the 1,600  homes lost to wildfires in Bastrop and surrounding Austin communities. So far, 41,020 acres have burned  in the Austin area and have taken four lives. Though 95 percent contained, the fire was burning through Sunday night – two weeks after it started. Greeson’s parents Kevin and Holley Greeson are missionaries in Asia, but her grandparents Richard  and Ladelle Atkinson, live relatively close to UMHB. Their Bastrop house held all the memories and sentimental items that stay behind when missionaries go abroad and students leave for school.  “That house has kind of been my home here in the States,” Bethany Greeson said. “All of our personal mementos were in there. I had to write my high school and ask for another diploma and yearbook.” Greeson went to visit and see the destruction shortly after the fire. “They lived in a wood house, and it’s all gone,” she said. “They were away during the evacuation, so they couldn’t get anything or rescue their cats. Luckily, the cats were sitting there when they got  to go home.” Bits of good news seem dwarfed in comparison to the tragedy of the fires. But Greeson holds on to the good things. Not only does she need to deal with the loss, but has to comfort her grandparents and reassure her parents who lost so much from so far away. “My mom lost all of her childhood stuff growing up,” she said. “She told me ‘I’m gonna jump on a plane and come now.’” Greeson referenced the calm she saw in her grandparents to ease her mother’s worry. “My grandmother was pointing out the little blessings through the day,” she said. “Everyone has been positive. I think it has made the community stronger. It was sad, but everyone came together. Everybody was willing to help each other.” Department of Modern Foreign Languages Chair Sue Pardue’s home in Bastrop was also in danger of the fire. She was relieved to learn that her house was spared, but her sister’s home was destroyed. Pardue, like Greeson, spoke first about the good things she has seen since the fire. “In times like this, it is comforting to see how everyone comes together,” she said. About 40 miles northwest of Bastrop, the Austin community of Steiner Ranch also...

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Paul could offer what Perry lacks for moderate voters
Sep20

Paul could offer what Perry lacks for moderate voters

Straw polls, debates and primaries anticipate the GOP’s attempt to reclaim the White House. The wide field of right-wing contenders all vie to take the place president Obama will have held for four years. Texas Gov. Rick Perry leads early in the polls, but he may not be the most interesting candidate from the Lone Star State. Perry could certainly learn something from his statesman. Congressman Ron Paul, admittedly not the most electable of choices, has a unique following that the GOP might need to woo. The self-described Libertarian has support not from hometown churchgoers and old-time conservatives, but from young, educated  and technologically savvy new voters. The group Young Americans for Liberty was formed by students to educate peers on issues Paul supports in 2007. It is active on more than 220 campuses.  These vocal activists  are very much a part of the youth vote. That same youth vote was essential to Obama’s success in 2008. While they don’t particularly gel with the left or right lines, they want a country that supports individual rights and conservative economics. They are bothered by corruption in government, growing debt and the widening social classes. These are the same issues on the minds of Libertarians   — exactly what Paul is. “I believe there are literally millions of more people now concerned about the very things I talked about four years ago,” Paul said at a campaign event in Iowa. “The excessive spending, the entitlement system, the foreign policy, as well as the monetary system.” The GOP may not have found their messiah in Paul, even if some of his followers wouldn’t mind likening him to Christ, but Paul’s fan base should be an eye-opener to the more traditional field. There are many conservative values that moderates and the youth believe in, and if the right focuses on abortion, health care and immigration, these middle-of-the-road voters may go somewhere else.  To create change in Washington, the Republicans need to evolve, and not like the Tea Party already has. The Tea Partiers who rally behind Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin were the ones shouting that an uninsured man deserved to die at the CNN/Tea Party Republican debate Sept. 12. This uber-conservative emotionalism alienates any moderates who may be inclined to vote Republican. Perhaps Paul has the answer. Maybe we should abandon our ideas of foreign expansion and government growing policies like the Patriot Act that have become a mainstay of the Republican party since Sept. 11, 2001. As the U.S. poverty rate hits a 30-year high and even Warren Buffet says that the super rich need to pay more taxes, something must change....

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Cyclone severs hearts, homes
Sep13

Cyclone severs hearts, homes

Professor of business Dr. Larry Woodward listen intently to his nephew, Brad Eichhorn, as he watched the news in his home in Joplin, Mo. The Woodwards live five miles from the strikingly long and wide path the tornado tore through the city. The twister meandered through the main district of town for 15 minutes, bringing destruction and chaos that left homes, businesses and lives in ruins. The Woodwards were safe from the path with Eichorn’s wife and children who were visiting. They waited for news from Eichorn as he hunkers in a closet while the storm tore through his home. “He said the roof was gone and then the backside of the house was gone,” Woodward said. “Then the phone went dead.” Larry’s wife, former UMHB director of marketing and public relations Carol Woodward went to Ozark Christian College – which was hit hard by the storm.  She lives with her husband in Texas during the regular school year, but they enjoy summers in their other home close to family and friends in Joplin. The tornado was classified as an EF5 – meaning it carried winds in excess of 200 miles per hour. It cut through southwest Joplin, gaining strength as it tore through more densely populated areas. Buildings were turned to rubble as the storm seemed to use the wreckage as fuel. Bits of goods or ruins of structure were all that could identify where the Walmart, Academy and even entire neighborhoods once stood. “It was unrecognizable,” Larry Woodward said. “They had to use spray paint to identify where intersections were.” Eichhorn is a local firefighter, and a long night of calls prevented him from coming to his aunt and uncle’s house like the rest of his family did that Sunday. Eichhorn just wanted to sleep, but the storm wouldn’t allow it. “We called Brad and tried to get him to come to our house. When he saw the sky, he decided to leave, but by that time the police where telling everyone to find cover immediately.” Eichhorn found that cover in a closet under the stairs and had to wait and watch as his home was destroyed. As soon as possible, the Woodwards went to try and get to their nephew. “We had to drive about a half mile away and walk through a field to get there because of the debris,” Larry Woodward said. “But we got to him.” Eichhorn was incredibly lucky. He would only need some dental work for damage his teeth received when he was tossed by the storm. Local Joplin KY3 News placed the death toll at 158. Carol’s brother-in-law’s uncle was...

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Passionate Texans push for secession
Apr12

Passionate Texans push for secession

“Critics ignore where the world is right now,” said Daniel Miller, president of the Texas Nationalist Movement. “We have to educate people that the independence of Texas is an inevitability.” These big words come from a small office in Nederland, Texas, where volunteers play the role of activists. With signs hanging from cars and T-shirts declaring independence, common Texans are standing against the federal government. They represent the TNM – a group dedicated to freedom for Texans and their state. They are educated and rational, but this hardly softens the sincerity of their language and their passion. These are not the same freedom hunters who fought to their deaths at the Alamo. They are not the Texans who rejected the Union to become part of the Confederacy in 1861. Most importantly, they are not the secessionists, like Republic of Texas president Richard McLaren, who was convicted of plotting to kidnap a Texas couple and then had a standoff with authorities. The pride and outspoken nature of the group are personified in their president Daniel Miller. Miller and his followers, including 2,600 people who have liked his page on Facebook, are united to educate and connect Texans from across the state who want independence. Robert Newell, a retired painter from Harelton, Texas, is among Miller’s supporters. “Texas has been a Republic once in our history and (has) every right to become an independent Republic once again,” Newell said. “We need to be rid of the Yankees on the west coast and New England to prevent them from dictating to us what we Texans must and must not do.” Miller and his wife own a private radio station which helps not only to put food on the table, but broadcasts his message. Self-employment has given him the time to run his organization for the last 15 years. The Texas Nationalist Movement is the largest and oldest group for Texas independence. In 2002, several smaller groups joined the movement under one banner and one leader – Miller. He contends that the evidence for upcoming Texas independence is overwhelming and not the musing of radicals. “People throw the Civil War in our face. I check my calendar and it says 2011, not 1861,” Miller said. “To say it can’t be done ignores decentralization and delocalization as an international trend. There were 54 countries after WWII, and there are now 192.” A 2009 poll by Research 2000 showed that six in ten Texans say their state would be “better off” as a nation of its own. “There is a significant portion of Texans who already have this in mind; 48 percent of Republicans, 40...

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Human rights violations haunt Tindouf
Apr12

Human rights violations haunt Tindouf

Nestled in the west of the Sahara are refugee camps where people are held and not permitted to leave. Here, a word against the leaders could land someone in prison. These are the conditions in Tindouf, on the borders of Algeria and Morocco and controlled by the independence- seeking Polisario. The society is 80 percent women who participate in government. The country has a high literacy rate and sends pupils overseas to continue education. Yet they endorse slavery, torture people who speak against the government and imprison unwed mothers. When the Center for Religious Liberty held its lecture, “Dangers in the Desert,” students were provided with an in-depth look at a site said to house some of the worst human rights violations occurring today. The session wasn’t a history lesson for eager students, but a call for awareness and tangible help. “Americans can develop the region and help the U.S. government take a position in support of Morocco,” speaker and civil rights attorney Leah Farish said. “Many Texans speak Spanish, so they would have an advantage over the language barrier.” The camps were opened in 1976 when Morocco and Mauritania clashed for control of the western Sahara and its populations. But the Sahwari people who live in the desert resisted both nations. Their front group, the Polisario, has held the land since then, blocking some of the Sahwari from leaving or seeing loved ones in Morocco. The vast desert has become a massive, sandy Berlin Wall. Nancy Huff, former teacher and founder/ president of the nonprofit organization Teach the Children International joined forces with the Polisario to help them fight for independence and assist the poor Sahwari. But she realized that the Polisario were not interested in dialogue with Morocco, the strongest nation in the region. As she learned that the Polisario was teaching children to hate the Moroccan king, she knew it was time to change sides. “That was an a-ha moment for her,” Farish said. The lecture discussed the history of the struggle and the Morocco and U.S. stance that the region should become autonomous with Morocco. Hamdi Cherifi, president of Al Intimae NGO for the development of human rights and coexistence in Laayoune , also spoke of Tindouf. In an interview, he told a story of an ex-polasario Sahwari man who traveled from Morocco to Tindouf to see his family. The man had made comments supporting an autonomous government with Morocco, and his words caused with three months of captivity instead of the embraces of his family.  The man has been prohibited from ever seeing his family. “The international community and (our NGO) need to apply...

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