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.

Gossip spreading over news

While a fiscal cliff, super storm Sandy and possible state secession spin dust that threaten a national tornadolike disaster, you’d think these topics would dominate the news. Instead, rumors of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s breakup fill social media feeds like wildfire. Should an actual fire spark the wild, few would recognize it through the dense cloud of smoky gossip. While scanning the tabloids at H-E-B appears innocent, more people seem to know about Lindsey Lohan’s increasingly long list of criminal offenses than the number of signatures on a state’s petition for withdrawal from the country. With monumental changes on the national horizon, the issuance of pop culture as informational proves progressively disturbing. Celebrity gossip has transformed into a need-to-know priority that consumes networking sites. Such is the problem with a minute-by-minute media, where the latest dish on behind-the-scenes Twilight drama supercedes that of the president of the United States. While Jelena does in fact hold a spot in the hearts of many, Hurricane Sandy survivors should take primacy in headlines and posts. But who’s to blame for this fumbling of media superiority? While public figures enjoy the spotlight, their faces appear continuously in magazines. The “Baby” singer and crew would probably prefer fewer paparazzi in their faces and more fresh air. These stars of stage and screen carry no fault, at least in this situation. Another possible cause of the chaos rests in the hands of the press. If the media are to blame, what part deserves the pointing finger? News anchors, journalists, editors and photographers merely perform their jobs to receive a paycheck. Because they generate the questions, evidence and provocative images, can culture pin guilt on them? If not the fame or the press, then who? If not the supply, then the demand. Thank you, fundamental economics. Who requests the whereabouts of the Biebs? The public. Tweens, teens and unashamed adult fangirls buy the papers plastered with their favorite famous faces. Who cares if Justin’s new ink stretches across his forearm? They do. And they are willing to pay a ridiculous sum of money, especially when the prized paper contains a poster of the latest heartthrob. If this country desires a return to strictly informative and breaking-news updates, the public must voice a need for these changes. In turn, suppliers could then redirect their focus, training the stage lights on politicians and natural disasters instead of gossip like Taylor Swift and her often shaky romances. Rather than zooming in the binoculars on the distant lives of the rich and famous, they should take a microscope to the here and now. What matters where you are living?...

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Speeding, tailgating and road rage, oh my!

Crusader Way is a scary place. The recently remodeled road is smooth, wide and perfect for reckless driving. Though the posted speed limit is 30 mph, students tend to drive as fast as they please in order to reach their destinations. Heaven forbid they get stuck behind someone actually going the speed limit! Speeding and tailgating go hand in hand as some of the worst driving habits. Combine the two with a self-focused attitude, and the recipe for disaster is fool proof. Recently on Crusader Way, a friend ran into one of these triple-threat drivers. Though she was going the speed limit, it was not fast enough for the person behind her. The driver tailgated her, flashed his brights, tried to pass her and held down the horn when she didn’t speed up. Thankfully, she turned at the next intersection, and the reckless motorist behind her gunned the engine and sped away. Crusader Way isn’t the only issue; cars race through campus and all over town 24/7. From parking lots to I-35, reckless driving runs rampant among the student population. According to the Annual Report published by Campus Police, the number of traffic accidents reported on campus increased by approximately 49% in 2011. As the university transitions to a walking campus, the risks of driving dangerously increase. The number of pedestrians grows every semester, causing more traffic at campus intersections. Students rush from one class to the next, weaving in front of cars and cutting diagonally between crosswalks. Drivers grow frustrated as the rush of people throw caution to the wind and march across the street without looking both ways. Revving the engine, tapping the horn or inching into the intersection might seem like a good way to show frustration, but these behaviors can lead to road rage and driving mistakes. Turn those pedestrians into cars, and the issue of tailgating arises. Rather than being patient, drivers put lives at risk and get uncomfortably close to the vehicles in front of them. The purpose of tailgating is generally to bully the car ahead into moving aside so a motorist can pass. The risks of tailgating are great, especially when the first car in line slams on its brakes — an instant fender-bender. Tailgating at 30 mph can cause minor damage. Increase the speed of the vehicles, and the stakes rise. According to the 2011 Texas Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics, Bell County had more than one third the number of wrecks involving speeding as Travis County, home of the state capital. The faster a car goes, the longer it takes to stop, the greater the amount of...

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Pastor jailed in Iran

Amid intensifying religious persecution against Christians, Iranian-American pastor Rev. Saeed Abedini’s undeserved confinement in a notoriously violent Tehran prison recently captured the attention of religious rights groups and legal analysts worldwide. According to a report by CBS News, the minister, who was heavily involved with the development of the underground church movement in Iran, is a convert from Islam. He has been a U.S. citizen since 2010 when he married an American. While imprisoned, Abedini leaves behind a worried wife and two young children in Boise, Idaho. Jordan Sekulow, a prominent Christian lawyer and religious rights activist in Washington, D.C., took interest in the case and is working closely with the family. His human rights firm, The American Center for Law and Justice, is representing the family. The controversy began in 2009 when Abedini was making one of his frequent trips oversees to visit family and friends. He was detained for converting from his childhood faith upon his arrival in Iran. Shortly thereafter, he signed an agreement with the government. This contract granted him permission to travel in and out of the country freely with the stipulation that he cease from performing any underground church duties, or so he thought. Until the time of his July 2012 detention, he visited Iran several times. When he was arrested, he was volunteering for a religiously unaffiliated humanitarian orphanage. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, told Fox New’s Sean Hannity that she is concerned for her husband’s safety. According to ACLJ he has been beaten, which is not an uncommon occurrence for a Christian in an Iranian prison. What is most disturbing about the case is that Abedini and his family have yet to receive a clear, official statement of the charges against him. Sekulow, who has previous experience with this type of case, calls for the entire world to assist in bringing justice. He wants to expose the Iranian legal system, which has perpetually overstepped its bounds while discriminating against Americans and others who don’t share Islamic ideas. “This is a very troubling pattern we have seen in Iran, Christian husbands and fathers who are punished for their religious beliefs,” Sekulow told the Christian Post. He is hopeful for a positive outcome. In a press release, Sekulow said, “We know that the Iranian government is sensitive to international pressure.” Ironically, the U.S. government remains silent on the matter. Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, said government officials were “aware of the case,” but further details were withheld citing privacy concerns. It seems only logical that the U.S. would make a more aggressive case with the Iranian government. Traditionally, America is not a country tolerant...

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Being too safe? Don’t be sorry
Jan08

Being too safe? Don’t be sorry

When parents tell you to do things like make sure the windows in your house are locked or to hide valuables under the seat when leaving them in the car, their suggestions often elicit a chuckle or an eye roll. The abundant amount of concern feels unnecessary and even seems to verge on paranoia at times. But after being welcomed back from the holiday break to find my house had been broken into, I realized just how valuable all of that “overprotective” advice really is. The old adage just might be true. You really can’t ever be too careful. While the intruder spent quite a bit of energy forcing his or her way through our back door, leaving its frame ripped from the wall, they left with nothing to show for it, all thanks to my roommate listening to her parents’ advice. In spite of teasing from friends and from me about being overly paranoid, she loaded up our flat screen television the morning before we left for the month-long break after her dad suggested it would be a smart idea to bring it home. We all scoffed at how silly it was. Who would come in and take it? But when I realized someone had been in our house during our absence, my response was how thankful I was that she hadn’t listened to us. I don’t know where our TV would be right now if she had, but I’m pretty certain it wouldn’t be sitting in our living room feeding our appetites for the mindless programming we’ve come to love so much. There’s a level of invincibility when you’re young and in college that causes us to throw caution to the wind because we don’t think certain things will actually happen to us. We go about our days, wrapped up in our classes and social lives with little thought to much else. Most of the time, that works out just fine, but every once in a while, you realize caution isn’t such a drag. Because of caution I’ll be watching Downton Abbey, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and The Bachelor this week from the comfort of my couch. And for that, I am eternally...

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Colorado has ‘Rocky Mountain High’
Dec06

Colorado has ‘Rocky Mountain High’

On election night, Colorado made quite a splash as the number of votes for legalizing marijuana reached a record high. The new law in Colorado allows citizens 21 years of age and older to carry up to one ounce of the substance with them for recreational use. While Amendment 64 may allow the population to explore new heights, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper warned that state law is not higher than federal law. “The voters have spoken, and we have to respect their will,” he said in a statement. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.” Even though the drug was made legal at the state level, Hickenlooper anticipates a long legal road ahead. The argument stems from a dispute older than the Civil War – states’ rights. As reported in the Denver Post, the governor, attempting to weed through the controversy, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a clear federal response on the issue “as soon as possible.” According to the law, Colorado citizens may indulge in marijuana usage; however, if they are traveling on an interstate, which is federally owned property, a federal officer may arrest them. What are the ramifications of such irresponsible legislation? Many in favor of the law argue that it is used for medicinal purposes. So why not keep the law as it was and only allow doctors to prescribe it in a legitimate case? There are plenty of less addictive substances that are not allowed to be sold over the counter in American pharmacies. Still others would say, “People are going to find a way to use illegal substances anyway.” But to that, simple logic says, “If we make it legal, even more people would do it.” Do we really want a society in which American citizens are driving and working under the influence of marijuana? This is utterly absurd. What about children of parents who are proponents of the legislation? What kind of example are they being shown? Who’s to say the parents who had clouded enough judgment to vote for such a law would not let their kids have a puff or two at home? This could lead to a spike in the number of dropout students, making the standard of life in states that adopt this kind of policy diminish greatly. Crime rates could rise dramatically. With customers of age being able to purchase the drug, it could fall into the hands of minors. Something else to consider is...

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Unappreciated sacrifice
Dec06

Unappreciated sacrifice

They’re all around you. At the grocery store, at your church, you can find them anywhere. They can be young or old, a man or a woman, a father or a daughter. Veterans are our heroes and the reason our nation has enjoyed and realized the fullness of independence. As the old saying goes, the cost of freedom isn’t free. Since the time that George Washington and his soldiers sailed the Potomac to fight for our posterity, millions of brave warriors have died. The countless sacrifices made, pile so high that a simple thank you is the least one can offer to a veteran. However, as generations have come and gone, so has the nation’s respect for its heroes. Rather than be grateful, we are greedy; rather than placing our hand over our heart, we focus our attention on political agendas. This shouldn’t be. We should take the time to show appreciation to the men and women who care enough about us to risk their lives. There are several ways we can do that. If you see men or women with veterans attire or head wear on, take the time to approach, ask them about their day, and then thank them for their service. Sometimes nursing homes or independent living centers will host Veterans Day events and invite the public to attend. If you see an advertisement for such an event in your area, you can spend an hour of your day to talk with an older hero. Many of us have veterans in our families. Whether it is a cousin who fought in Iraq or a grandfather who endured the Korean War, chances are you know a soldier. Take the time to write or give them a call. It can be anytime, but with intentions of sending a simple message—”We care about you.” To the average person, such communication may seem trivial, but to the veteran it makes a world of difference. These warriors have been through serious struggles, and, often, scars from battle don’t heal in a lifetime. Contact from a family member provides an extra ounce of strength to endure the emotional and psychological bullets still flying their way. Currently you can send care packages to soldiers fighting the war on terrorism. Websites such as operationgratitude.com and herobox.org provide ways for citizens to send care packages to military men and women. These sites also provide ways for donations to be made to the soldiers’ families. Imagine the joy fathers or mothers must feel while Skyping with their children to see them embracing a new stuffed animal. When thanking our veterans, it’s the little things that count....

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