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.

Electromagnetic Pulse Attack: hit from above
Apr02

Electromagnetic Pulse Attack: hit from above

THE BELLS — It’s a military situation that sends shivers down the spine of any commander. A nuclear blast high up the atmosphere creates an electromagnetic pulse that renders electronic equipment obsolete. The playing field is now evened. But picture this same attack on a civilian population: transit systems become stagnant, communication methods become silenced, food and water infrastructures run dry. Chaos ensues. An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP attack seems more science fiction than anything, but it’s not. Newt Gingrich, who was active in pursuing EMP legislation, in an interview with Politico magazine said, “This creates such a collapse of our fundamental productive capacity that you could literally see a civilization crash and tear itself apart fighting … internally.” An EMP attack on America may not happen soon, but it seems to be nearing. And if our nation’s enemies don’t get us, a solar storm just might. John Holdren, the Obama administration’s leading science and technology adviser, told the New York Times in 2011 that a large EMP event “could be big on the order of $2 trillion during the first year in the United States alone, with a recovery period of four to 10 years.” The cost to strengthen our system, according to the EMP Commission: $2 billion. It’s better to pay now than later. Congress doesn’t seem to think so. They have failed to pass the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, or SHIELD Act. The clock continues to tick. Russia and China have experimented with EMP weapons, and nations like Iran and North Korea hope to do the same. Many believe that the solution to the problem lies in the hands of those like the Missile Defense Agency. If an enemy nation were to send a warhead to detonate above the United States, a ground-based interceptor would be prepared to smash it before it got in range. Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman, told The New York Times, “It doesn’t matter if the target is Chicago or 100 miles over Nebraska. For the interceptor, it’s the same thing.” He went on to call the potential damage from the EMP attack as “pretty theoretical.” While that system is capable to defend our nation against warheads and other weapons, what are we to do about solar storms? The only long-lasting solution is to follow the advice of the EMP Commission. As they’ve said before, our nation’s backbone lies in our transformers, and we must harden what they can take. This isn’t a wait-and-see situation. It’s time to strengthen America from the inside...

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Packing a suitcase full of procrastination
Feb25

Packing a suitcase full of procrastination

THE BELLS — Many students can relate to the stress of moving into campus housing at the start of each semester. Loads of unnecessary items make their way to school after the break. It’s easy to drive a car full of junk from home to college, but what happens when college is in London? Attempting to fit four months’ worth of clothes into a carry-on and a single checked bag under 50 pounds runs neck-and-neck with surviving finals. It’s dreaded by all, stressful for many and requires plenty of cramming. But we all survive. Right? “Barely…” cry the souls of thousands of mentally drained students. Yet that visual wasn’t enough to scare me into worry. “I can do this,” I said, lugging an awkward rolling suitcase while wearing two coats, two scarves, a backpack, a neck pillow and a camera case, and, oh yes, stomping around in snow boots in the 50 degree Texas winter. I told everybody I just wanted to “be prepared” for when we landed in London, but let’s be honest. This ensemble consisted of my belongings that wouldn’t fit into my already overstuffed suitcase. This trip was the beginning of many firsts—my first international flight, my first full semester far from home and my first time off to college with only two suitcases. Packing for London would be my first feat. I think back, and the only things I had successfully completed the week prior to the trip were the first three stages of procrastination: false security, laziness and excuses. Three days before I left town, I made an effort. I went through my entire wardrobe and took out my favorite clothes, those I could not bear to part with. Six hours later, I was packed—almost. I had two overflowing suitcases full of my favorites, and I hadn’t gathered everything I needed. I was exhausted and annoyed, so I decided to put packing on hold. Two days slipped away so quickly, and I knew I was only prolonging the inevitable. Stage four of procrastination crept up until that evening—denial. “I still have plenty of time,” I convinced myself.  Night fell, thus beginning stage five—crisis. I stayed up rearranging clothes and rethinking my packing abilities. Nothing could begin to explain how I justified each item in my suitcase. A woman really begins to learn her priorities in a situation like this—shoes obviously. At this point I was ready to burn down my closet and start over in London, but some late hour between then and sunrise, I did it. I had two zipped suitcases nearly bursting at the seams and my multi layered outfit and other...

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Ukraine drenched in violence
Feb25

Ukraine drenched in violence

Last week, after months of civil unrest, rioting protestors shook the foundations in Ukraine’s capital city Kiev. The violence was even too much for the police and President Viktor F. Yanukovych to handle as they suddenly disappeared Saturday. In addition to the political tensions, Christian groups have endured persecution. Instead of responding violently to the chaos, some Ukrainian churches are distributing scripture and holding prayer events on Independence Square where the bulk of the resistance is being displayed. The Baptist Press reported that for the past three months of upheaval, ministries have been engaging in tent-based outreaches where prayer and hot tea are offered on the front lines. The cause of the uprising is simple. The leadership wanted to align the country with the Russians, and the younger population was angry with the administration’s rejection of the pending European Union association agreement. Mezhgorye Sergey Belaus, a major in Ukraine’s State Protection Service reportedly gave control of the president’s opulent home, tennis court and zoo to the head of a band of anti-government militants. This is a concerning turn of events. Does this symbolize a transfer of power to a radical fringe group that violently opposes government? This may lead to competing governmental entities. Andrew Higgins, a reporter for The New York Times wrote in an article, “The east-west divide has bedeviled Ukraine since it first emerged as an independent state after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. In each election since, voters have split along a line running roughly through the middle of the country.” Deepening the division, the parliament voted to take power away from Yanukovych. Even though he’s technically been ousted, he considers the parliament’s decision a coup and plans to continue in his duties. His arch rival, a leader of the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from prison soon after. That uprising included a series of violent protests and political decisions in the early 2000s. Tymoshenko, the prime minister at the time, was a key leader in the rebellion.  She was incarcerated for what some alleged were abuses of power. With the president ousted and a former corrupt prime minister on the loose, Ukraine is in a state of chaos for the unforeseeable future. The Christians feel the regime’s policies have been hostile to their religious activities, but what’s going to replace Yanukovych’s administration? The point was to convince the government to join the more democratically governed EU and to abandon the country’s Soviet, communistic past. How will this happen without a respected central government? Will the EU even want to bring this kind of conflict into the organization? Only time will tell. More...

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Trans-Pacific Partnership hidden from the public
Feb25

Trans-Pacific Partnership hidden from the public

The attacks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade agreement between the United States and 11 other countries. It is one of the largest free trade agreements the U.S. has ever been involved in. Pundits describe it as NAFTA on steroids. Unlike NAFTA, the majority of the American public is unaware of its existence or any of the concessions in the agreement. There has been some media coverage of the negotiations but it is incredibly limited because the negotiations have been done in secret. The website for the U.S. Trade Representative had a few press releases and fact sheets with scant information, but the working draft of the TPP remains classified to the public. Segments of the document have been censored from Congress. The most comprehensive source of information about the TPP has been from Wikileaks. Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Elizabeth Warren have both openly criticized the lack of transparency. Warren even voted against the nomination of Michael Froman as the U.S. trade representative ambassador. She said, “I am voting against Mr. Froman’s nomination later today because I believe we need a new direction from the Trade Representative–A direction that prioritizes transparency and public debate.” This document is a free trade agreement, and its transparency should not jeopardize national security. There is no justifiable reason for Congress and the American public to be kept out of the loop. In addition to being classified, the TPP has been fast-tracked, which means that Congress can only vote to approve or disapprove the bill. Representatives cannot amend any of the bill or even attempt a filibuster. The absolute duplicity of the executive branch of government is astonishing. They are attempting to fast-track a bill about free trade that they claim will open up borders while keeping the American public and Congress in the dark. Instead of elected officials exercising their constitutional rights, the USTR and advisory committees, consisting of representatives from different corporations, are determining the future of American foreign trade. Political commentator and activist Noam Chomsky described the TPP as an executive agreement jointly with multinational corporations. Information from the leaked chapters of the TPP shows that several provisions will be made to enhance the power of multinational corporations. One provision being discussed is extending medical patents beyond 20 years. Another provision is to increase restrictions on the fair use of intellectual property. There is no way the American public or even Congress would accept the TPP if they knew all of the included terms. This is why the agreement has been censored. Chomsky said, “This is being rammed down the throats of the populations of the world by...

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From ‘Most Wanted’ to peaceful manifesto

Dead: nearly 3,000 Americans. The attacks on 9/11 stole more than a handful of father-daughter dances, more than a few family outings, more than several grandmothers being able to embrace their first grandchildren. And now the wretch responsible has published a 36-page document inviting you and me to “happiness.” I don’t think so. In America, actions speak louder than words. His name is Khalid Shaik Mohammed (aka KSM). Here are his words: “Do not believe those who claim mujahedeen fight infidels to turn them to Islam or that we are fighting you because you practice democracy, freedom, or claim that you uphold human rights. Islam prohibits us to force our religion on any human being …” Yet, his actions prove differently. He is the accused mastermind behind 9/11 and several other terrrorist plots. He came to the attention of the FBI and CIA in 1995 because of his invvolvement in a failed plot to blow up as many as a dozen U.S. commercial airliners over the Pacific. Perhaps KSM’s seclusion led him to spiritual renewal–leading him to renounce violence. Fat chance. He doesn’t seem too secluded at all, and that’s the real problem. He was given a laptop that allowed him to write his manifesto in his defense. It was originally intended for each member of the military court overseeing his case at Guantanamo Naval Base. Now a military judge’s ruling has deemed these documents unclassified, rendering them available to anyone.  The Huffington Post became a platform, along with Great Britain’s Channel 4 News, for the first installment of KSM’s three-part manifesto. He is now afforded another weapon: propaganda. Some believe secret messages are hidden within the manifestos for the consumption of KSM’s radical colleagues. Others say that allowing him to publish these documents is a necessary step forward after years of torture to prisoners, mainly by waterboarding. But when did America become so soft? Certainly, torture is not the answer, but neither is allowing a mass murderer to spit on the graves of the ones he killed with the words of a poorly written manifesto. The second part of KSM’s manifesto will tell why the World Trade Center attacks happened, and in part three he will explain what he believes about the war on terror. Well, as my mother always told me, “The proof is in the pudding.” All I can hear are the cries of the American families who lost their loved...

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Unions win championships?

The Northwestern University football team had a successful 2013-2014 season. But its biggest impact of the year has arisen in the offseason. They just recently filed a petition with the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Yes, you heard it correct. A group of educated football players from Northwestern have teamed up in hopes they could receive benefits that they feel are being held back from them by the NCAA. If the players are allowed to unionize, we might see the NCAA as we know it completely change across the board. In years past, college athletes have been given the bare minimum of protection. According to an article on State.com written by John Culhane, Northwestern’s quarterback Kain Colter is leading the charge with a few specific changes that he believes are imperative. “No one represents us in negotiations. The only way things are going to change is if players have a union,” Colter said. He also dove into the specifics of his mission by stating that unionizing would force the “dictatorship” of the NCAA to provide medical help after players’ careers have ended and safer practice conditions so that athletes aren’t leaving school with life-altering injuries. This is a valid point, but these players aren’t being forced to play. So if they believe it is too dangerous, maybe it would be in their best interest to just not participate.  Simple enough. When this report came out, the majority of analysts and even the NCAA saw it as the Wildcat players begging to get paid for playing. This is a scary thought because paying college athletes would change the whole dynamic of what defines college athletics. NCAA officials responded after they heard the news coming out of the Northwestern campus. “This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes’ into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education,” the      NCAA said. They pushed home that student-athletes’ participation in college sports is voluntary. “We stand for all student-athletes, not just those the unions want to professionalize.” “Many student-athletes are provided scholarships and many other benefits for their participation. There is no employment relationship between the NCAA, its affiliated institutions or student-athletes,”  the NCAA’s chief legal officer said. This is the major problem the Northwestern players will face when trying to make their case. They have voluntarily participated in an extracurricular activity at the university. Even the fact that the school does profit from the games, apparel and other things doesn’t make players employees of that specific university or even the NCAA. It is a stretch for the case to pass and allow the players to be recognized as employees. But it...

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