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.

UN meddles at polls

After much controversy in Texas over voter identification laws and accusations of voter suppression, Texas officials learned that a group made of members from other nations from the Organization for Security and Cooperation would be coming to monitor American polling stations. The announcement angered Attorney General Greg Abbot. He sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining his concerns. Abbot was adamant that Texas law be upheld. “If the OSCE wishes to visit Texas during election season, we welcome the opportunity to educate its representatives about the state’s electoral process. But OSCE is not above the law, and its representatives must at all times comply with Texas law …,” Abbot wrote. According to his letter, what sparked Abbot’s concern was a request in a communication to Clinton from the United Nations that the organization not to be “restrained in their activities.” Many Americans saw the activity as an attempt to make sure Texas and other states were abiding by voter laws. Abbot also wrote, “In addition to my desire to defend and enforce Texas election laws, I am also concerned that an unnecessary political agenda may have infected OSCE’s election monitoring activities.” He was bold enough to infer some politicians were conspiring against Texas. Abbot did not object to the visitors’ presence in the state as long as they were there to learn. “While Texas may welcome visitors from any nation or international organization who wish to learn more about the steps the state has taken to protect the integrity of state elections…,” Abbot said. He explicitly stated that they must abide by Texas law. Many Americans were outraged that representatives from foreign countries who may have witnessed few, if any, peaceful elections in their lifetime would be helping to watch for voter fraud. It is one thing for people to observe so they can help create a better system in their own nation, but to give them the responsibility that comes with the word “monitor” is simply wrong. In an interview with Fox News, Abbot said Texas law mandates that unauthorized persons who come within 100 feet of a polling station would be subject to arrest. He made clear that the state’s aim was to uphold its laws’ and it would prosecute lawbreakers. According to Fox News, Nuri Elabbar came to the United States with poll watchers from more than 60 countries. “It’s very difficult to transfer this system as it is to any other country. This system is built according to trust and this trust needs a lot of procedures and a lot of education for other countries to adopt it,” Elabbar told Fox. Ironically,...

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Faith in party misled voters

Presidential elections generally end with only half of the country satisfied. The discord comes from the elected officials rarely get more than 53 percent of the popular vote. After an election, social media are lit up with all kinds of opinions. Just after the presidential election was called last week, my Facebook page was overloaded with many statuses bemoaning the reelection of Barack Obama, and others predicting the end of America and the birth of our new socialist state. Several of my friends alluded that voting for Obama was unethical. One even went so far as to say that the Americans who voted for Obama had forsaken God. That person is wrong. They perpetuated a misplaced belief that only Republicans can uphold Christian values. In the 1980s, a movement known as the moral majority gained substantial popularity in the U.S. It was led by Rev. Jerry Falwell, who endorsed Ronald Reagan in his first campaign. The moral majority was made up of conservative Christians. Though the organization has all but disbanded, the trend of conservative Christians exclusively supporting Republican candidates continues. Virtually all of Congress is religious, and 86 percent identify as Christian. There is vocal movement from religious leaders that Christians should support Republicans mainly due to their perceived pro-life stance. However, most Republican politicians have little to show for it. Christianity has been yoked with politics since it was made the state religion of the Roman Empire. Church leaders used religion as a tool during the Middle Ages to sustain political power. With the intention of directing America toward God, Christians now participate in the political process. They have the best intentions, but they are sometime used by politicians. The moral majority was right to recognize the brokenness of America, but they placed their hope in the false idols of political candidates when they should have looked to God for change. The life of Jesus is the antithesis of what is expected of politicians. Jesus called his followers to be meek and to be servant leaders. Look to our politicians, and you will not find these attributes. Politics is the only realm where words speak louder than actions, and this is the fault of voters. Never elect politicians based on what they say. Instead, choose them for what they do. Do not let anyone fool you into believing that there is one political candidate who is the Christian choice. All congressmen are up for reelection in two years. If you want to vote in a Christian fashion, then measure men by their action, not which party they are a part of. Above all else, do not place...

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Disney purchase gives ‘New Hope’

Princesses, evil rulers thwarting plans and princes sweeping in to save the day. Sounds like a normal Disney movie, but in a few years, a new story will be coming to screen again and this time with light sabers and Jedi. On Oct. 30, The Walt Disney Company bought LucasFilm, Ltd., for $4.5 billion. The company not only bought the Star Wars franchise, it received the entire portfolio from LucasFilms, including Indiana Jones. So does pairing feel forced or will it become a Disney magic in the making? Disney officials said they had been talking to George Lucas, founder of LucasFilms and director of the Star Wars films, about the purchase for a year now. Disney is planning to release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015 with more films expected to continue the saga. The company said it will release a new Star Wars film every one to three years. Lucas will serve as a creative consultant for the next film, but plans to retire eventually. “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucas said, in a statement. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.” The first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, was released in 1977 and starred Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Since then Lucas has given the world five more iconic films with the last one being Revenge of the Sith, which was released in 2005. So what is this new era of the iconic saga going to look like? Will Disney rewrite the ending so that it has a happily-ever-after ending? Hundreds of books have been written that begin right from where the last movie finishes, but Disney said that the upcoming movie be an all-new story with no connection to the previous films. With new technology for special effects, new episodes of the saga could improve the quality of the movies. The first three films are more technologically savvy and the last three aren’t. So the films will go from high in special effects, to low and then back to high? Most fans wonder if it is a good idea to touch the film, while others are thrilled and some are undecided. Enthusiasts are asking if original actors will be used from the last film, Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher said in an interview that they knew about the new movie and if asked, they would consider playing their characters. Playing their original roles as the stars of the movie may...

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America spreading aid thin

With wars, crises and upheaval all over the world, America is being asked to aid many hurting nations. Ultimately, the U.S. cannot meet the demands of every person who cries out for aid—there are simply too many of them. We too have our own battles to fight, our own children and our own lives. However, as a Christian nation, we must remember to follow the guidelines set for us in the Bible. Philippians 2:4 says: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others,” (KJV). If we as a nation are to succeed, we must work to ease the burden of hurting nations. Counter to popular notion and human tendencies, lending a hand to others not only helps them, but it helps us. If we follow God in our daily affairs, including our foreign policies, then our nation will be better for it. Take, for example, the crisis in Libya. After their leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s 42-year reign of terror ended, their nation has still been feeling the repercussions of the unrest. Civil war has led to the deaths of thousands and has caused about a million to flee the country. President Barack Obama reacted by sending aid to Libya in the form of airstrikes and military endeavors against the forces of Gaddafi. According to the New York Times, Obama thought we had a responsibility to intervene in the conflict. He said. “I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” Had America not intervened, the mass murdering of innocent civilians would have continued. We showed that we have the capability to provide aid without putting our nose into everything. In 2011, a massive earthquake caused a tsunami, which killed thousands of people and ruined resources of Japan. Many countries combined forces to send help to the island so that work could be done in the most productive manner. Had the United States tried to fulfill the burdens alone, there would be problems within our own borders as well. As a nation, we must remember that we, too, need help. Though we won’t be able to take care of every nation, it is vital to help those we...

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Media: Catering to public or conveying trustworthy facts?
Oct30

Media: Catering to public or conveying trustworthy facts?

In 1972 two Washington Post journalists followed a story about a burglary which led them down a path of corruption and lies. The ensuing scandal involved the president and caused his eventual resignation. The Watergate scandal and the investigative work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is an example of the power of the media and its role of protecting society and democratic processes. The freedom of the press has been an essential part of American society since the Revolution. Because the role of the media is providing the public with reliable information, their most valuable asset is credibility. Journalists are expected to adhere to a strict set of ethics. Plagiarism and using false sources are often career-ending offences. In spite of this, the media have been losing much of their trustworthiness over the last decade. According to a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media. This is the highest level of mistrust ever recorded in America and is a sobering fact in an election year. The study showed that distrust was highest among Independents and Republicans. The suspicion is certainly deserved. Many Americans consider the media to be strongly biased or sometimes even false. The main reason to distrust the media is that they have more incentive to minister what the public wants to hear than the actual truth. The news media are businesses that essentially give away information. Newspapers are relatively cheap, and most of the large dailies publish online. Much of their revenue comes from advertising. To hook lucrative advertisements, media outlets need high ratings and subscribers. There is normally a direct correlation between revenue from advertisements and the size of the audience. Instead of providing the truth, the media will provide the public with what they want because it pays. If people care more about the lives of celebrities than they do about local politics or domestic and foreign crises, then news media will provide it. What is frightening is how the media have taken the public’s obsession with celebrities and used it in the way they paint politicians. Likability and charisma have always been important for politicians. The news media generally report superficial things about politicians rather than trying to analyze policy and procedure. In spite of the fact that our culture promotes instant gratification, the truth is actually difficult to find. With the sheer amount of information that is out there, the public is overloaded with data. Most of the news on television consists of sound bites that are taken out of context and slanted to promote media bias. Generally, finding the actual truth...

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Pinterest to blame for unorginality
Oct30

Pinterest to blame for unorginality

“That’s really cute! Did you get it off Pinterest?” For much of the population at the school, this question would be quite a compliment. Others might take offense at the suggestion their latest project was someone else’s idea. People automatically assume that anything crafty or creative is unoriginal, which brings up a good point. In today’s wannabe-artsy generation, is copying a project from Pinterest truly a form of creativity? From a cutesy-crafty point of view, Pinterest is the perfect outlet for collecting ideas and creating a virtual dream world. Users can upload or “pin” images and organize them into personalized categories called boards. A few of the top subjects include recipes, workout tips, crafts, dream weddings and fashion. Launched in March 2010, the social scrapbook reached more than 11 million users before its second anniversary. The thought behind collecting ideas on virtual bulletin boards filled a void in the world of social media. More meaningful than liking a page on Facebook, pinning offers users the chance to paint a personalized picture of who they are based on individual interests, taste and style. According to the mission statement, Pinterest was created with the purpose of helping people relate over common pursuits. Its goal, as stated on the website, is to connect users around the world through shared interests, taste, humor and style. But the amount of originality on the website is greatly lacking. Many of the pins become trapped in an endless cycle, copied time and time again to boards across the globe and thus stifling the individuality of being creative. The number of repeated pins can be annoying. Even worse, users commonly admit to spending hours at a time on Pinterest and even becoming addicted to pinning. They spend more time sitting in front of their computer screens pinning recipes and crafts than they do actually cooking and creating. One quote wryly repinned by users serves to poke fun at the website: “Thank you, Pinterest, for helping me feel creative even though I’ve really just been sitting at my computer for three hours.” On the other hand, some members make an effort to take their ideas and put them to good use. They have Pinterest parties with friends, and they cook, paint or make scarves from old T-shirts. Cynics might see these parties through the lens of friends gathering in one place to make unoriginal, often useless crafts. In many cases Pinterest inspires a sort of cookie-cutter creativity, resulting in exact copies or projects slightly tweaked for a more personalized fit. Sadly, attempting to copy the cute DIY projects is often accompanied by a sense of dissatisfaction. Trying too...

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