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.

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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Steps leading to graduation are complex
Feb11

Steps leading to graduation are complex

Seniors often stare at their degree plan for hours and never experience an epiphany about the future. No magic light bulb goes off when a certain number of courses are crossed off the list, and no genie pops out of a magic career lamp with the touch of a college degree. Though it would be wonderful to have three wishes or a free pass to a dream job, the real world provides countless obstacles. Higher education has so many challenges of its own. Jumping through the final few logistic hoops should be the easiest part of growing up, in theory. But like most theories, exceptions exist. Most college seniors have learned responsibility by this point in their lives, but knowing which steps to take before making the leap into adulthood can be complicated. Students deserve some help from the school they invested so much time and money in. It is up to the student to seek help via the online course catalog or a source in the department of their confusion. Navigating the new paperless catalog is an adventure of its own, but finding the right person for each concern poses an even bigger task. On the plus side, hopping between the registrar, bursar and financial aid on a weekly basis provides a nice workout for seniors. Advisers have their place in the system, offering wisdom and logistic direction about which classes and requirements each individual student necessitates. The problem occurs when a student declares a major and minor in opposite fields of study often, often leaving them clueless on one of the two directions. The registrar does, however, offer a four-year plan for every field of study. If freshmen start filling this form out from the beginning, the process can run smoothly. Some juniors receive emails alerting them their accumulated hours have classified them as a senior sooner than they expected. Students need to keep up with their hours, counting them and keeping a tally every semester. Unless surprised seniors already declared  early graduation, their graduation date won’t reflect their hours. Again, it is up to the student to figure this out, manually count the number of credits he or she has completed, and then request an earlier date. One of the last hurdles to jump over lies in the audit process, which happens only one semester before donning a cap and gown. Seniors must know which classes they need to enroll in for their last semester, but they must wait on the official count to be sure everything lines up. This could just be God’s way of teaching patience. Because of the complications surrounding graduation, the “What...

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Marijuana: A smoking gun?
Jan29

Marijuana: A smoking gun?

On election night 2012, Colorado and Washington State legalized the sale and recreational use of marijuana. The rest of the U.S. knew it would be interesting to watch the transition play out, but many did not foresee the problems that would arise as a result when the smoke cleared–or began to rise. When voters chose to make the drug legal, state officials warned that it was still illegal to be in possession of it while on interstate highways or other federally owned property because it still breaks federal rules. Now only weeks after the law officially went into effect, marijuana vendors face a new problem. They can’t deposit the money they make from their sales because banks are forbidden by law to accept cash that’s been involved in the sale of an illegal narcotic, including marijuana. Who determines which law is upheld? Do the banks accept the money because the sales are legal in their states, or do they uphold the nationally accepted law? Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out on the controversy, hinting that changes could be on the way. He said, “They want to be able to use the banking system. And so we will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.” If laws are changed at the federal level to allow marijuana vendors to deposit their money in banks, what does that mean for other states that do not wish to comply with the legalization of marijuana? Will they eventually be forced to make the same decision because the centralized government is making special concession for state governments? The domestic disputes are not the only problems to consider. The drug war still rages along the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego, Calif. to Brownsville, Texas. Colorado, one of the states in question, is only one state removed from the hotbed of narcotic trafficking. There are serious national security concerns as cartels may buy marijuana legally in Colorado or Washington and then smuggle it into surrounding states and across the borders. What would stop U.S. citizens from becoming entrepreneurial and purchasing recreational weed and selling in places where it is still prohibited? Are law enforcement and the legal system prepared to deal with this potential rise in crime? According to the Denver Post, the federal government accused a Mexican Mennonite group of cooperating with the Juarez drug cartel of moving pot to North Carolina and Colorado. Seven members of the Mennonite community were indicted by a federal grand jury in Colorado. Legalizing marijuana seems to be creating more problems than it’s solving. Parts of the U.S. could become the...

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Uncertain futures in Utah

A federal judge ruling, an appeal to the ruling and a “legal limbo” is turning a serious issue into nothing but a big, fat joke. It’s more ridiculous than Chuck and Larry, and no one is laughing about it. The debacle began when the residents of Utah voted to ban gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby decided that this ruling was unconstitutional, and, as a result, gay couples across the state flocked to local courts to receive their marriage licenses. At this point, things became even more absurd. The Utah government appealed the decision, hoping to defend the voice of the majority of its citizens. While the court reviews the appeal, the state has fallen into “legal limbo,” leaving gay couples in Utah in a real life version of the Twilight Zone. These couples don’t know if they’re in a legal union or not. However, they were warned that these marriages could be dissolved if  Utah won the appeal process. Perhaps a serving of patience with a side of self-control would have been a good idea for the couples who rushed to the nearest justice of the peace to enter into a legal marriage. If they had waited until the final decision, they would not find themselves in the current predicament. Unfortunately, this ordeal addresses an issue that is much larger than gay marriage, and this is what Americans should be worried about. Utah’s stance on same-sex marriage should have been set permanently the minute its citizens voted, by democratic process, to ban the union of two people of the same sex. The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” Since the Constitution seems to be mum on the subject of marriage, it would seem that the decision based on the voice of the state’s people would be recognized as legal law. However, Shelby decided that their voted choice was, indeed, unconstitutional. Why should Americans be scared about this ruling? If the people’s votes become irrelevant, our role in the government becomes nonexistent, which would essentially take the democracy out of democratic republic. The voting process has always been one that has distinguished the United States among the nations. Looking across the world to countries in the Middle East and seeing the disastrous, failed attempts at giving people the chance to vote should make all U.S. citizens cherish their right to vote. But what good is voting if judges simply overrule the choice of the people? Although whether or not...

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Christmas controversy leads to winter wordplay

Don we now our fun apparel… wait, what?  Jack Frost may not be nipping noses yet, but the holiday spirit is now in full swing. Besides, the National Football League marketing for Thanksgiving is practically nonexistent, which leaves Christmas the object of every other commercial or magazine ad people lay eyes on during this season. Given the religious nature and origin of every child’s favorite celebration, controversy is always sure to present itself once people start singing carols and drinking hot chocolate. This year is no different, thanks to a Hallmark Christmas tree ornament that is causing many faces to turn candy cane red in outrage. The decoration is a miniature tacky sweater that has altered lyrics to “Deck the Halls” on the front. The words read, “Don we now our fun apparel,” while the original reading is, “Don we now our gay apparel.” This caused a huge social media backlash from both gays and straights. Some of the complaints said that Hallmark was implying that gays dressed differently and that it was wrong to be gay. This is a classic case of “d—– if you do, d—– if you don’t.” To younger generations, the word gay is immediately related to homosexuality, which could lead to confusion as to the intent of the ornament. This misunderstanding would, without a doubt, lead to less business from tradition–friendly families and younger generation heterosexuals. However, when Hallmark felt compelled to diverge from use of the word “gay,” the homosexual community became furious with the greeting card company. After all, there is no crime more distasteful than discrimination. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Hallmark can only expect coal for Christmas after this costly mistake. Add “gay” to the list of controversial words on everyone’s lips during the holiday season. Other tension points that show themselves to the Christian community year after year include Merry X-mas, Happy Holidays, Santa Claus and the origin of the Christmas tree. The holiday is Christmas, nothing else. Santa Claus is not real, and the history of the Christmas tree is unknown. Let’s put everything into a Christian university perspective. Christmas is a holiday intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ sent as a gift from God to save people from their sins. That should be the true nature of Christmas–not controversy, presents, trees or Rudolf. Is Christmas a celebration for Christians only? Obviously, the holiday is observed far beyond the reaches of a certain religion. Christians should not get caught up in angry debates and controversy, but should focus on sharing the gospel during this season. When Dec. 25 finally rolls around, people should...

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