Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Domestic charity work should be first priority
Apr20

Domestic charity work should be first priority

The United States of America is known for their dabbling in foreign affairs and coming to the aid of countries in need. Almost everyone has seen the commercials filled with heart-wrenching images of starving children in Third World countries, who need water and food to fill their bloated bellies. As viewers, we are compelled to call the 1-800 number and donate to save a life in a country far away paying no mind to the homeless population in the streets of our own country. This begs the question, is it right to help those suffering in other countries when we have people struggling to make ends meet right here at home? In Third World countries the undeveloped infrastructure provides little to no means of basic living essentials to its citizens like food, clean water, adequate housing, and some form of commerce. The United States on the other hand is a super power amongst most countries, having in place a democratic form of government, successful infrastructure, and health care. America has so many avenues for individuals to access the “American Dream” but many people continue to hover near the poverty line. Homelessness is not okay in any area of the world, but it is even more unacceptable in a nation that is perfectly capable of adjusting its system to help those in need. Meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer in our country’s time of financial deficit. Austin has an average of 2,300 people on the street. Of that total 900 are chronically homeless according to the city. Chronic homelessness refers to those on the street for one year or more or over four times per year and 40 to 50 percent face death everyday. People don’t have to turn on the TV to see homelessness because it is right here in our back yards. If aid is given to those in need here in the United States, it threatens the money and status of the elite class. Taxing the higher class could be beneficial to helping get those less fortunate on their feet so that they can work to sustain a livelihood. The American upper class is so consumed with monetary value that aiding those of their own country isn’t as important as keeping their fortunes. Instead, people turn a blind eye to the issues of our homeland. In the question of home versus foreign affairs, no one wins because all of those in need deserve help. But there is no excuse for a great country like America not to exhaust every option to sustain its...

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Ad council’s common sense campaigns a waste of gov. funds
Apr20

Ad council’s common sense campaigns a waste of gov. funds

We’ve all seen the commercials; an anthropomorphic bear telling you to put out campfires, smokers telling the dangers of tobacco. Public service announcements run rampant on television, radio and just about every other form of mass communication. But what we don’t question is whether they’re an appropriate use of government funds. The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that produces public service announcements for a wide range of non-profits, agencies and even the United States government. The organization was founded in 1941 and soon became a major contributor to World War II efforts, encouraging Americans to enlist, buy war bonds, and support the war effort in many other ways. Seventy-five years later, the country is in an era where most people have access to a multitude of information in their pockets. So, is it really necessary to spend government funds pumping out ads that most people think are common sense? Let’s look at the Ad Council’s most notable campaign, Smokey the Bear. The iconic bear is the product of a collaboration between the US Forest Service and the Ad Council. The campaign was created in 1944 to spread awareness about wildfire prevention. Smokey’s warning that “if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave” is good advice, but one would think campers could use their own common sense when it comes to putting out campfires. If someone needs a cartoon bear to tell them that leaving a roaring fire unattended in the woods is a bad idea, then humanity as a whole probably has bigger problems. Another reoccurring PSA subject is tobacco awareness, with frequent ads that show the side-effects of smoking. But in 2016, do people really need to be told that filling their lungs with smoke could have negative health effects? It may be different if campaigns had a noticeable impact, but it’s not clear that they do. According to United Press International, a recent study on hundreds of PSAs worldwide produced mixed results. The study concluded that while anti-smoking campaigns seem to be effective, campaigns warning about the dangers of alcohol fall flat. Ads with additional content – from nutrition to health screenings – were all over the map. So, if it’s not clear whether or not the ads even have the desired impact, then maybe it’s time to consider shutting them down. After all, it’s not the government’s place to make life decisions for everybody. It’s time we used a little common sense to make our own...

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Social media: A breeding ground for bullies
Apr20

Social media: A breeding ground for bullies

With the advent of social media, we can constantly keep up with everyone and everything. While having instant access can be good, it also allows social media users to comment anonymously. This can sometimes lead to cyberbullying. Recently under fire from social media, is 20-year-old R&B singer-songwriter, Kehlani Parrish, who releases her music as Kehlani. Kehlani is from Oakland, California and prior to fame was part of the teen pop band PopLyfe, who finished fourth place in the sixth season of America’s Got Talent. Kehlani came under fire when rumors popped up that she cheated on her boyfriend, professional basketball player Kyrie Irving, with her ex-boyfriend PartyNextDoor, a fellow singer-songwriter. Once news sources leaked the information, social media lit up with negative comments. Commentors shamed Kehlani and called her inappropriate names. Even though this did not become a trending topic on social media, it was still a mass cyberbully attack. According to Dictionary.com, cyberbullying can be defined as the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages, usually anonymously. While those who posted about Kehlani might not have been anonymous, they fit the first half of the definition really well. These users were posting things that they would not say to Kehlani’s face, if they ever met. The cyberbullying got so bad that Kehlani attempted suicide. Her friend, PartyNextDoor, found the singer and called 911. Fortunately, she was found in the right amount of time and survived her attempt. When she awoke from her living nightmare, she posted a picture of her arm with the IV in it to her Instagram account, detailing what happened and how thankful she was to be safe. The picture went viral with the hashtag, #staystrongKehlani, trending on social media sites. One thing most people forget when making not-so-pleasant comments, especially about their private life, is that there is an actual person behind that public persona. Kehlani’s post made people realize that their comments did actually effect someone. Many celebrities reached out to Kehlani, while some added to the cyberbullying noise. Singer Chris Brown took his opinions to Twitter, shaming Kehlani and implying that she posted a picture from the hospital in order to stay in the media. Fortunately, other celebs called Brown out on his actions and his followers began dropping like flies. While the advancement of technology and social media has been great, it has also made people more susceptible to bullying. Cyberbullying is a category of its own, because while it may not be physically painful, it can cause a lot of mental and psychological damage. And because cyberbullies are often anonymous, it can make it impossible for...

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Tension builds with North Korea

The United Nations is supposed to enforce laws in all countries, and it seems to be with the help of America. Being an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, I believe in an entity designated to keep all parties in line. When North Korea tested an H-Bomb and nobody reacted, it exposed a weakness in us. Iraq committed crimes and we went to war, but North Korea tested an H-Bomb expressly forbidden by the United States, Britain, Japan, and China and we sent North Korea a letter. By the principles that America stands for we should go to war with North Korea for simply having weapons of mass destruction. I spent 31 months in Iraq helping my country find weapons of mass destruction that our enemies were keeping hidden. North Korea doesn’t even try to hide their WMDs. They are on TV playing with them. When North Korea tested that H-Bomb, I believe it was a clear message to America. If America does not put North Korea in its place then that will lead to trouble for future American generations. We must stand by the principles and rules that we have enforced in the past, or it may seem as if we are for hire. Obviously North Korea will not stop the constant bullying. When Kim Jong-Un dies, his son will probably be worse. North Korea claims America is a gang of cruel people that harms others. So the dictator feels he is backed by righteousness. This could mean war is imminent. North Korea has the guts to constantly push the limits and break the rules, but we seem to be doing nothing.. We waged war against a nation that did not even have uniforms. But yet we can’t wage war against a country that has imprisoned American students and dropped an H-bomb that they weren’t supposed to have. North Korea clearly has no intent of doing anything America...

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Oscar discrimination arguement is not consistent with historical data

The landscape issue of racial diversity has been one of the longest running issues in the United States. And now we’re seeing that topic being raised in the film industry. But is it really a problem? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have been around since 1927. It is one of the most prestigious organizations in Hollywood, and it is now being defamed for its lack of racial diversity. I really don’t think it’s the lack of diversity in the Academy as it is the lack facts regarding the subject. News and media outlets have made it extremely difficult to filter out statistics and facts from opinion and fluff. For example, in the 1940s, the United States Census Bureau released data showing that 89.8 percent of the U.S. population was White and 9.8 percent was Black or African-American. In 2010, the Black or African-American population accounted for 12.6 percent of the American population. According to a study conducted at the University of Southern California, 14 percent of movies show Black actors at or within two percentage points of the U.S. Census. So there is a correlation between actor roles and general population. More so, out of the 200 nominations for actor roles at the Academy Awards, only one nominee was Black between 1940 and 1949. Between 2000 and 2009, 16 nominees were Black out of the 200 nominations. From 2010 to present day, 7 nominations went to Black or African-American actors. Statistically, the Academy Award nominations have been getting more and more diverse. This year seems to just be an anomaly or an outlier from previous years. I won’t disagree with how Selma got snubbed in last year’s nominations. The film was truly powerful and emotionally moving and was unlike any movie that had come before it, but that doesn’t mean its snubbing was somehow racially influenced. According to several prominent, large-market film critics, had the number of nominations for Best Picture increased from eight to 10, the largely talked-about biopic of the year Straight Outta Compton would have most definitely been number nine on their personal list for this year. But stories like those told in movies like Straight Outta Compton and Selma are distant from the normal narrative film styles, they’ve gained more attention from younger audiences. So, #OscarsSoWhite is a blatant lie. Films are becoming more and more diverse through generations. It’s just taking a bit longer for change to take place. The people in the Academy will always change with newer, younger and more experienced generations. It will just take a bit longer for change to...

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Candidates cause confusion as primaries near

Can a socialist really become president? How about someone born in Canada, or someone with no political experience? Could a candidate staring down the barrel of a federal indictment really win a general election? The first votes of the primary elections will be cast Feb. 1 in Iowa, and voters must choose from some of the most polarizing candidates in recent memory. Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has long been seen as the frontrunner to win the Democratic Party’s nomination, but growing questions about her infamous email server may be enough to derail Clinton’s campaign. In March 2015, it was revealed that as Secretary of state, Clinton used a private server to conduct federal business. Through ongoing investigations, it has also been revealed that Clinton’s server contained highly sensitive and classified material. Now, Clinton may be facing possible indictment because of the issue. But even if she isn’t indicted, the issue could very well be enough to keep her from receiving the Democratic nomination. Democratic voters who turn away from Clinton may not like the alternative either–self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, who is proposing unprecedented tax hikes. Under his plan, those at the top of the economic ladder would be paying as much as 58 percent in taxes. While the Robin Hood theory of taking from the rich and giving to the poor sounds good on paper, in practice, it would likely end in disaster. Large corporations aren’t going to stand for such huge cuts in profit. Instead, they would probably be forced to send even more jobs overseas, which would be a devastating hit to the working class. Even though his tax reform is a cause for concern, Sanders’ character isn’t being called into question like Hillary’s. Sanders is a genuine individual who seems to want what’s best for the country. Voters may disagree with his policies, but it’s evident that Sanders has a clear advantage over Clinton at this point in the race. If the Democratic Party isn’t complicated enough, the Republicans are here to muddy the waters even more. There are still a dozen candidates in the race, but the two frontrunners – Donald Trump and Ted Cruz – are the two most polarizing figures of the group. Throughout the campaign cycle, many thought that Trump’s allure would wear off with voters. It hasn’t. In fact, he seems to be getting stronger as time goes on. Trump doesn’t have the political experience. He isn’t diplomatic and he doesn’t hold back when talking about his opponents. He may not be the logical choice for a Commander-in-Chief, but his loose-cannon style has certainly resonated with voters. But as...

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