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.

‘New Normal’ in families

By Jasmine Simmons From June Cleaver to Snookie, there has been an obvious change in family dynamics over the past half century. As society becomes more tolerant to alternative lifestyles and social practices, family life develops new facets as well. In today’s post-modern society, families are breaking June Cleaver’s utopian picture of happiness in the home all over the country. It is an understatement to say that the standards of the average family have changed from the days of Leave It to Beaver to present day. If a family from the 1950s were to gaze into an American household today, they would be shocked to see single parent homes, households with teen mothers and same-sex parents to list a few deviations from the 1950s American household. Divorce, a concept that was basically taboo in the 1950s, has impacted a large majority of households. Teen pregnancy is on the rise in the States. High schools are now making child care centers in school buildings, so teen mothers can continue their education. Six states have legalized same-sex marriages, and activists in other states are fighting for its legalization. Unconventionality is running rampant in families across the United States. While the reasons behind such families may vary, it is still alarming how far contemporary households have veered from the model of the conventional family in earlier generations. Oddities in families are cinematic gold for media outlets like television and movies. The MTV television program Teen Mom showcases the lives of high school teenagers who have become mothers. The New Normal, an ABC sitcom, tells of a single mother who works on becoming a surrogate for a gay couple. Movies like Baby Momma and The Back-up Plan depict single women who desire to have a baby without a partner whatsoever. These television shows and movies acknowledge the changes in family dynamics and profit greatly from them. Standards are being refined as it pertains to the home and the family dynamic. Still, acceptance is not always the best policy. Within this era, where there is a development of different ways of life, a line must be drawn when deciding between what is permissible and impermissible. Things are not as they once were. People are not as they once were, and as a result a new normal has been set for the U.S. and the families that exist within...

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Sketchy sales prove useful

The words black market are associated with shady and illegal practices. One image that comes to mind is the stereotypical man selling watches from his trench coat. The black market has a reputation of being unsafe and unproductive. Many do not realize the scope of the shadow economy. The pharmaceutical sector of the U.S. is valued around $252 billion while the illegal drug trade is around $215 billion. What is more surprising is that the illegal drug trade in the U.S. is worth $89 billion, more than the fast food industry in America. Globally the black market is massive. It has an estimated worth of $10 trillion. The shadow economy encompasses a whole slew of business practices. These ventures range from violent enterprises like drug trafficking and prostitution to unlicensed selling of goods like working as a street vendor. One reason for the sheer size of the shadow economy is because of the large quantity of workers employed under the system, which is 1.8 billion people. The widespread nature of the phenomenon has allowed for a good deal of international trade, which in turn has also contributed to the rapid growth of the underground economy. Much of the business that makes up the shadow economy is in the developing world. Illegitimate businesses in these countries are often able to circumvent their inefficient and often corrupt governments by dodging import regulations and taxes. In essence, they practice an extreme form of free trade. One of the largest suppliers in the international shadow economy is China. Sellers provide many different forms of electronics and machinery under the radar and off the books to African countries like Nigeria. While this is illegal because it violates international trade laws, it has actually benefited workers in countries like Nigeria. Companies in developing countries often do not have the budget to buy legal software and operating systems for their computers and have been known to pirate the software they need. There have always been those who have disregarded the rules and benefited. With the staggering number of those involved in the shadow and its success brings to question how flawed the shadow economy actually is. Prostitution and drug trafficking are illegal and have very negative consequences. Copyright infringement and breaking international trade laws are also illegal, but they can have positive consequences. For those in the developing world where the odds are stacked against them it would seem that participating in the shadow economy is their only option for economic success. The underground economy has had better success at uplifting the economic level of developing countries than all the international aid and work programs. Aid...

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Why I’m voting Democratic

By Ella Rowand I consider myself a moderate Republican. Nevertheless, I am voting for the Democratic candidate. Mitt Romney, like any politician, has his good and bad policies and ideas. However, I feel that as a presidential candidate, he has more of the negative than positive. The biggest reason I am voting Democrat is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare. The controversial legislation, while not perfect, has many benefits for me and my family as well as millions of others around the nation. For example, millions of young adults are covered under their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 or married (myself included). Abortions have dropped 62% since the birth-control mandate went into effect. I could continue on and on about the benefits of this bill. Romney wants to “repeal and replace,” meaning he will distribute waivers to the states while he works on repealing the bill and then leave it up to the states to deal with the issue. Each state would have its own laws and policies regarding health care. The problem with this is that it puts us back at square one. If the states had been taking care of the issue all along, ObamaCare would not be necessary. The Romney campaign says that the ACA will take money from seniors, raise taxes by an exorbitant amount and add to the deficit. However, rather than taking money from seniors on Medicare, Obama is reducing overpayments that have been being made to providers. The bill does raise taxes, but not in the way Romney suggests. And while there is much debate on whether or not ObamaCare adds to the deficit, in the long term, the bill is meant to reduce health care costs across the board. This is not to say Romney does not have any good points. For example, his Social Security reforms are a solid step in the right direction. Closing loopholes in the tax code is a smart and long-needed reform. But saying that lowering taxes and cutting regulation will create jobs just is not true. A lack of regulation is part of what caused the recession. While Obama has been president, he has worked diligently to lower the unemployment rate. Since the peak of unemployment in 2010, the rate has steadily declined under the Obama administration. Romney says he has a great plan to jump-start the economy, but he has yet to state any real specifics about this plan. On his website and during the debate, he touts his “5-Point Plan”: energy independence, emphasis on higher education and job training, trade reform, eliminate the deficit and encourage small business...

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Why I’m voting Republican

I am Republican because I believe in addressing problems and solving them. Conservative principles in which Republicans firmly believe have been at the core of our nation and its governmental history since its founding. As a conservative Republican, I care deeply about the nation’s moral state, having a free market economy, and taking responsibility for our own actions. The killing of the unborn is an atrocity that is depriving America and the world of lives that could be making societal differences. It is wrong to take the life of an innocent human being, regardless of his or her age or stage of development. Merely calling the baby a fetus does not excuse murder. Furthermore, throughout history, Democrats have claimed to stand up for the rights of the underprivileged and those who have no voice. Why are they not protecting the rights of the unborn? Unraveling the fabric of the traditional family, which has been the basic social unit through which American ideals are taught for centuries, by encouraging homosexuals to marry has caused moral, social, and health related problems. Studies suggest that children adopted by homosexual couples develop related psychological problems. Republicans, in large part, believe in proactive problem solving as opposed to thoughtless reactive measures. Creating jobs and using our own natural resources is the solution to economic problems. Giving Americans jobs is what keeps the economy functioning properly. Outsourcing work to foreign countries will not help the plight of U.S. citizens. Many Americans are insulted and appalled at how dependent the United States has become on foreign governments. Borrowing outrageous sums of money from nations, subjecting our great country to the wills of others is a far cry from the liberty and independence the United States was founded on. As Republicans, we believe personal responsibility, governmental accountability and financial planning are what keep the economy healthy. Raising taxes does not work either. Historically, this approach only slows the economy because customers spend less when they have less money. What will rescue our economy is using the resources this nation has been blessed with and hiring Americans to manage and operate the companies that extract, refine and market those resources. Conservatives, throughout history, have upheld the fundamental standards on which America was built: independence, economic freedom, and morals taught by the traditional family unit. I will be voting Republican because it is obvious that America needs a dramatic change in course. We need a competent administration with sound character and integrity. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a statement at the Oct. 11 debate that demonstrated the integrity America needs. “I don’t see how a person can separate...

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American icon going European

The well-known Ford mustang is possibly getting a European style makeover. While still only a concept, it is scheduled to arrive in 2014 at the New York Auto Show as a 2015 model, which is coincidentally the 50th anniversary of the pony car. According to autoguide.com, Ford said that the Mustang will be more modern because of the previous announcements about their One Ford global model policy. This means that the Mustang will be exported to markets outside of the U.S. Ford has been tight-lipped about the new pony, but the rumor mill is flooded with insider reports that it will be smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient and feature less of a retro look than the current car. Foxnews.com said that Ford is so diligent about its overseas expansion that the company will even offer a right-hand-drive version of the two-door coupe in the U.K. Some fans aren’t sure, though, that going global is a good idea for Ford. “It doesn’t seem like it’s an American-made car anymore, and that’s what people want. And that’s what I would think about when I heard ‘Ford Mustang,’” sophomore Christian studies major Ryan Morris said. The European style is very different and unique from the “classic” Mustang, and yet, it is high-class. Ford seems to be marketing to the upper class and not as much to the younger generations. As for the body of the car, junior nursing major Tim Phillips knows about the body of the muscle car. “The new style is interesting. Like so many other car manufacturers, they are trying to be on the brink of innovation and style. And the Mustang being the original pony car, they are not about to be left behind in this race. It is simply put a slim and sleeker body than the current models. They say it may end up a little shorter than current models as well,” he said. No doubt the Mustang has come a long way since 1961 when Lee Iacocca, vice president and manager of the Ford division came up with the idea. In 1964 the first Mustang rolled off the assembly line. The biggest change to the car; a new fastback model was made in 1965. It became the basis for Carroll Shelby’s GT350. The Mustang is, of course, one of Ford’s most classic and well-known vehicles, making it an American classic. Ford seems to be going over the top with this new design, possibly to compare to the new style of cars that are beginning to evolve, like the Fiat. With the new European look to correspond with the rest of the world, it is possible...

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Muslim film plays key role in world riots
Oct02

Muslim film plays key role in world riots

There is an old English proverb; “The mob has many heads but no brains.” In the last two weeks there have been a series of brainless mobs in the Muslim world protesting a blasphemous film. Many of these protests have turned violent and resulted in several deaths The film is called the Innocence of Muslims. Along with being offensive to Muslims for referring to Muhammad as a pervert and many other blasphemous things, the movie is also an affront to anyone who has any respect for the art of cinema. The film appears to have been shot entirely on green screen, ad-libbed and done all in one take. It seems ridiculous for anyone to protest such a frivolous movie. But once you consider the power of an unruly crowd, then you realize how easily rational people can be driven to do irrational things. Most people have been involved in the social phenomena of a crowd. Whether it is in a school cafeteria or a sporting event, the herd mentality is visible in the crowd. Even though groups consist of different individuals often with different motives, they tend to move in the same direction. In order to fit into a crowd or group, people may choose to do things that go against their better judgment. This is fine as long as a crowd is coerced into doing something silly, but when a group is persuaded to do something dangerous, the outcome can be scary. The 2011 riots in the U.K. are a prime example of a crowd turning into a chaotic and violent mob. This tragedy began with an angry protest over a perceived injustice. A crowd in Tottenham gathered around a police department and demanded answers for the shooting of a suspect. The relatively peaceful protest became more unruly. The police were heavily outnumbered and completely unprepared for the crowd. As soon as the crowds realized this, they slipped into unfettered chaos. The looting and general violence that took place was senseless and irrational. It had nothing to do with the protest and only existed because of the irrational behavior that was masked by the herd instinct. The Tottenham riots were leaderless and random. The riots in the Middle East were organized by political leaders. In Egypt, the film was heavily publicized on two Islamic TV stations, and in other countries, Islamic clerics publicly denounced the movie. For the leaders of Pakistan, it is politically profitable to defend the honor of Islam so the government of Pakistan organized a national holiday and a protest. When the protest got out of control, it caused the death of 19 people. Under...

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