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Russia bans adoptions
Jan29

Russia bans adoptions

Many American families aren’t sure what the future holds for them after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law last month banning the adoption of Russian children by                                       American families. Putin put the law into effect after he claimed U.S. authorities routinely let Americans suspected of violence go unpunished. This was a reference to Dima Yakolev who was adopted by Americans. He died in 2008 after his father left him in a car for hours in blistering heat. Yakolev’s father was not found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Backers of the new bill said that American adoptive parents have been abusive, citing 19 deaths of adopted Russian children since the 1990s. In 2012, an American woman sparked outrage after she sent her adopted son back to Russia on a one-way flight. The woman said that the boy, then 7, had violent episodes that made her family fear for their safety. Out of the 60,000 Russian children who have been adopted by American families in the past two decades, 59,981 of them are still alive. Russian leaders don’t seem to realize that all of the 19 deaths were, most likely, accidental. For example, China did not ban adoptions after Christian songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter was accidentally killed. But it’s not just the Americans who are frustrated by the turn of events; the Russians are upset as well. On Sunday, Jan. 13, thousands marched through Moscow to protest Putin’s ban on adoption. The march was led by many who also want to put an end to Putin’s 13-year reign. One poster read “Parliament deputies to orphanages, Putin to an old people’s home.” Maybe now, Russian leaders will consider lifting the ban since it’s not only the Americans who are upset. A Putin spokesperson tried to ease some of the anger by announcing that most of the adoptions currently under way could proceed. This will allow the children who have already met their adoptive families to leave the country without any difficulties. But what about the other thousands of children who are without loving families to care for them? UNICEF estimates about 740,000 children in Russia are without parental custody, and only 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt. While leaders are encouraging more Russians to adopt, that is very unlikely to happen. When a Russian orphan reaches the age of 15 or 16, UNICEF estimates that one in three live on the streets, one in five is a criminal, and one in ten commits suicide. Many families as well as adoption advocates are hoping and praying that the ban will be lifted so children can become members of a...

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Coin to “cancel” debt

It’s been said that drastic times call for drastic measures. As legislators on Capitol Hill deliberate about the state of the U.S. economy and what should be done about it, some on the left, seemingly unconcerned about the government’s spending problems, simply want to blast a gaping hole in the debt ceiling that is repeatedly pushed higher. If the Republicans want to be total killjoys and stop reckless spending, the obvious solution is to mint a $1 trillion coin. That’s right—one platinum coin worth $1 trillion. Think it’s crazy? So did a host of critics in Washington when it was proposed. In fairness, there are always two sides to every coin. Those in favor of the  idea claim it’s completely legal. Those opposed say, although it’s legal, it’s just downright irresponsible and would only be a loud clink in the fiscal bucket. The idea poked its head through a legal loophole that was intended to allow the secretary of treasury to mint collectible coins. What is not found between the lines of the nebulous wording is a limit on the value of the coins. In theory, the super-coin would cancel out $1 trillion of the deficit when placed in the federal treasury. However, others claim inflation would skyrocket as a result of such a hasty act. Interestingly, members of the Obama administration see the financial responsibility exhibited by ending the federal government’s spending problem as an attack on the population. White House Spokesperson Jay Carney, who was criticized for not ruling out the idea, being one of them, said in a statement related to the topic of the coin, “The President and the American people won’t tolerate Congressional Republicans holding the American economy hostage again simply so they can force disastrous cuts to Medicare and other programs the middle class depend on while protecting the wealthy. Congress needs to do its job.” On the flip side, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a political commentary, spoke out in opposition to the coin. He thinks the idea would only worsen the situation. “It would be economically catastrophic, he said.  ”It would result in massive inflation it would devalue everything that everybody already owns and it would be fruitless. If this were not so, then why doesn’t the government give all of us coins and make all of us billionaires?” They say what’s at the top trickles down. Maybe the economic indecision being showcased by Congress has originated in the Oval Office itself. Every president before the current one has routinely approved a yearly budget. Obama is entering his fifth year in office and has not done so once. And Congress wonders why it...

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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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