Unrest spreads in Middle East

When learning about major historical events from a textbook in grade school, it is easy to place a name on turbulent time periods in the world’s history – such as the Black Plague or World War II – but at the time those events occurred, it was probably much harder to nail down a name that would describe exactly what was happening. It has been called many things – the White Revolution, the Revolution of the Youth, the Rage Revolution, the Lotus Revolution and the 25 January Revolution – but here in American media, it is most well known as the 18 Day Revolution. The protests in Egypt sent a clear message to the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak. Citizens are not going to take the tyranny any longer. Mubarak has given in to the people’s demands and officially resigned from his position. While he was in power, Egypt’s government was called a “Republic.” His political party was called the National Democratic Party. On the surface, the people of Egypt would appear to be free. However, Mubarak has autocratically controlled the country under Emergency Law since 1981. While his political party was called “democratic,” it was the only party in Egyptian politics allowed in the elections. Stacking all the candidates with their own players ensured their victory. Egypt may have appeared to be a republic, but in reality, there was only one party to choose from. Since Mubarak’s resignation, Egypt’s military is in control of the country, for now. But the people are calling for free elections. Could President George W. Bush’s goal of freeing Iraq and setting up a democracy in the Middle East be rubbing off on the surrounding countries? As planned? One largely hidden piece of the puzzle may do more to influence the future of Egypt than anything else, however – the Muslim Brotherhood. The protests in Egypt were purportedly fueled by instigation from the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an Islamic extremist group that promotes the role of Islam in government systems of the Middle East. If free elections take place, the question is will a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood win and establish a foothold by which the group can take over the country? Candidates from the group were previously barred from elections by Mubarak. So, why should Americans care about the outcome of Egypt, a country halfway across the globe? For starters, the U.S. gives about $2 billion each year to Egypt for economic and military aid. As America pinches its own pennies in the economic recession, the destination of taxpayer money will become more heavily scrutinized. Also, control of Egypt means control of...

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Cursing and the Constitution

Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, Americans are given the right to the freedom of speech. But does this apply to profanity? You know the feeling. You are walking in the mall and see a teenager wearing a black shirt with large white letters on it. The word on the shirt is one that would have earned you a large whooping from your parents for even accidentally uttering when you were a kid. You could argue that this is disturbing your peace, but could you actually win a case in court to change the person’s T-shirt wearing habits? In the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Cohen v. California (1971), just such a disturbing the peace violation was overturned, setting the standard for the constitutionality of cursing. A 19-year-old young man named Paul Robert Cohen was arrested on April 26, 1968, for disturbing the peace in the Los Angeles Courthouse. In protest of the Vietnam War, Cohen wore a jacket bearing a profane slogan about the draft. He purposefully put on the jacket after leaving the court room in an attempt to “stick it to the man.” The California Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, saying that “offensive conduct” meant “behavior which has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence or to in turn disturb the peace.” The U.S. Supreme Court then granted a writ of certiorari to Cohen, which meant the record of the case was given to the Supreme Court for review. By a vote of 5-4, the Court overturned the conviction – Cohen was granted the freedom of profane speech. In the opinion of the Court, Justice John Marshall Harlan II famously stated, “One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.” This is sad but true. Just because you have the freedom to do something doesn’t make it right. Political views and other sorts of disagreements can be argued without making unnecessary statements of vulgarity. Profanity doesn’t make speech any louder; in fact, it turns some people away from the message out of sheer embarrassment. Cursing crosses the line of...

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Australian Open begins tennis year in good form

The first grand slam of the year has come and gone after two weeks filled with spectacular tennis, stunning upsets and silly commentators. For those who didn’t make the adventurous trek overseas to Melbourne for the Australian Open, this also means a return to normal sleeping habits. Because of the difference in time zones, matches played in the afternoon in Melbourne are televised well into the wee hours of the morning here in the U.S. This year’s champion for the Men’s single was Novak Djokovic of Serbia. He won the Australian before in 2008, making this his second grand slam title. Djokovic has long been a player whose hype never caught up to his results – until now. He finally performed under pressure, beating Roger Federer in the semifinals. Though both tennis giants, Federer and Nadal lost, Federer made the semifinals, and Nadal made the quarters. No easy task, especially considering the quality of the players they defeated in their matches. Anyone who’s watched tennis before knows that match commentators have the propensity to say some funny stuff – this year was no different. Veterans like Cliff Drysdale, Dick Enberg and Brad Gilbert were joined by long-time college football commentator Chris Fowler from ESPN, who earned the award for funniest line of the whole  tournament. In the match between Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, who has the nickname Stan the Man, when Wawrinka began to crumble under the force of Federer’s game, Fowler said, “Stan the Man? More like Stan the Tomato Can.”...

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Should taxes fund abortion?
Jan25

Should taxes fund abortion?

As promised, Speaker John Boehner and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have already passed legislation to repeal the entire health care bill. While this measure passed the House with ease, it is unlikely that Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate will even give it a second glance. Repeal will be stopped dead in the Senate. However, in an effort to potentially weaken the health care bill, the Republicans are bringing a controversial issue into the spotlight — abortion. The day after the House passed the measure to repeal, they introduced legislation that would permanently prohibit any taxpayer funding for abortion. The proposed law, named the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, would make permanent the existing abortion restrictions, which must be renewed each year. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus. “Our new bill is designed to permanently end any U.S. government financial support for abortion, whether it be direct funding or by tax credits or any other subsidy,” he said. But wait — there’s more. Smith’s bill isn’t the only new legislation brewing in the House that deals with abortion. Another longtime abortion opponent, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., now heads the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Pitts has proposed a bill called the Protect Life Act, which he says would close loopholes in the current health care reform law that allow government funding of abortion. “They’ve opened the proverbial floodgates for federal money to pour into abortion services, and with it they’ve incentivized an extremely controversial practice,” Pitts said. But does the health care law actually allow for federal funding of abortion? Abortion opponents and abortion-rights groups still cannot agree on the matter. Those who advocate abortion rights say the law places new restrictions on the procedure, requiring women to buy a separate insurance policy if they want abortion coverage provided by their insurance plan. Pro-life groups, however, argue that the health care bill covers abortion under the public option. Should Americans’ tax dollars be used to pay for abortions? Abortion is, in theory, wrong. Just take a look at the case in Philadelphia against Dr. Kermit Gosnell to see why. Gosnell has been charged with eight counts of murder, which include seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, according to prosecutors. In a New York Times article, Ronald Reagan was once quoted as saying, “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born” (Sept. 22, 1980). He was being sarcastic, but he’s right. Unborn babies have no chance to decide for themselves when it comes to...

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New members of Congress should help economy, but will we see results?

The New Year brings with it a make-over for the members of Congress. But will Americans see signs of actual economic recovery in 2011? Have no fear – the congressional cavalry is here. And with them are the right tools to bring the country out of the recession. Led by John Boehner, the new speaker of the House from the 8th District of Ohio, Republicans now hold the majority in the House of Representatives. They have created a more even playing field in the Senate but are still outnumbered 53 to 47. This new House is, as Boehner called it in his speech accepting the gavel, “the people’s House.” Finally, the people have a new hope – that these representatives will actually start listening to those who elected them. The members of the House have vowed to uphold the wishes of their constituents. These include implementing conservative fundamentals at the federal level. The first two main goals of this House are to cut government spending and to repeal the health care bill, which was passed by the last Congress but opposed by many Americans. A vote to repeal health care has already been set for Jan. 12. These conservative principles are the first steps toward creating real recovery from the economic  recession. Shouldn’t there be signs of recovery already, according to the current administration? Weren’t the stimulus and other government spending meant to jumpstart the economy? Much of that money has been wasted. Obviously, no major signs of recovery have occurred since Obama took office. People can only blame Bush for so long, and  the country can’t spend its way out of a recession. The new House aims to eliminate wasteful spending. These representatives know how to really jumpstart the economy – by creating jobs. Jobs cannot be forced into an economy by simply printing more money to pay people to do mundane tasks. Most created by the stimulus bill are temporary at best. Jobs can be made in the economy by creating an atmosphere favorable for employers to add jobs and expand instead of having to cut employees and downsize business so they can afford to pay taxes. By lowering taxes (which never would have occurred to the previous House), jobs will be created and the American economy will be back on the right track. The country is calling for conservative values like these because they will work. The new Congress has the potential to truly create change for the economy. They have already demonstrated efforts to bring the legislative branch of government back to the root of what makes it great – the Constitution. They have sworn...

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