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.

Egypt needs foreign pressure
Oct18

Egypt needs foreign pressure

The future seemed bright for Egypt as young revolutionaries of different beliefs and ideologies stood together in Tahrir Square last February. They were united as Egyptians against Dictator Hosni Mubarak, and, as a nation, they revolted. But Egypt is already in need of revolution again. Violence and oppression comes from the new rulers just as they did from the Mubarak regime. This time, the rest of the world needs to help.  After the government turned, the military, which refused to harm the protesters during the uprising, took control of the government. Their reign was meant to be brief and transitional. But now, as elections are set to begin, the new parliament may not be in power for as long as two years. Again and again the military grips the power that the people entrusted to them and delays the transfer of power. A group of Coptic Christians protested the government in front of the state-run news organization Oct. 9. Many Muslims stood alongside the Christians in the march. The military arrived to deal with the protesters, and the streets filled with civilians, troops and blood. Two hundered were injured, and the two dozen Copts where killed. Among them was 25-year-old Mina Daniel. He had been a passionate supporter of the recent Arab Spring revolution and a member of the Youth for Justice and Freedom movement. Journalist and activist Moustafa Mohi said that Daniel believed the revolution “was never about Christian or Muslim demands, but about Egyptian demands.” Realizing that he had received a fatal wound, Daniel’s final words were, “If I die, I want my funeral to be in Tahrir Square.” He wanted his death, like his life, to be a symbol of freedom and change. According to The New York Times, the state television implored citizens to head to where security forces and protesters were clashing to “protect the military.” Protester Tamer Mohamed el Mehy spoke to Sarah Carr of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. She transcribed her interview on Twitter. “I didn’t see any protesters attacking the army or police, just heard the usual chants,” she said.  “The credit that the military received from the people in Tahrir Square just ran out yesterday,” said leader of the liberal political group El Ghad and potential candidate for Egyptian president, Ayman Nour, in a press conference on the attacks. Coptic Christians comprise 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people. But that number is dropping as Christians flee Egypt en mass,  according to a report by the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organizations. The study says that nearly 100,000 Copts have left in the past six months. These numbers...

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Fake news cries wolf

The well-known satirical news source The Onion pushed its limits this past week, publishing on its website and Twitter feed stories of children kidnapped by congressmen. The original tweet, posted the morning of Sept. 29, simply said, “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.” Though people who follow The Onion know the stories are published for entertainment purposes, this story idea may have gone too far. Stories of disturbance in U.S. government buildings are usually not taken lightly by officials or the public, especially a day after a threat of attack by terrorists using   model          airplanes. True, The Onion is protected by the First Amendment, but just because a story can legally be published doesn’t mean it’s ethical or amusing to do so. This goes back to the general rule of not shouting fire in a crowded   theater. The Capitol is on guard already against any possible threats, and tweeting a line about an attack there could potentially cause chaos for anyone previously unaware of The Onion’s status as a satirical tease. Possibly the best example of chaos spreading due to a false journalistic broadcast was Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, which was broadcast over the radio just before Halloween night in 1938. The story of aliens invading earth was read like a news broadcast, and though completely fictional, caused some listeners to believe the events were actually happening. Were congressmen holding children hostage? No, but did The Onion have to resort to tweets like, “Obama: ‘I know this Congress well. Trust me, they will kill these kids’” to get the response they desired? It seems some of their followers didn’t think so and didn’t find the story humorous or appropriate. One Twitter follower, Joseph Gonzales, tweeted back  at The Onion saying “There’s nothing about killing kids that’s amusing. This whole series of tweets today is irresponsible.” Journalistic ethics and credibility are always questioned by the public, but especially when cases like this come up. The Onion is a satirical news source, but it looks and operates much like a real news source. Will its less than amusing story have wider implications beyond those mentioned? It will be interesting to see what comes out of this situation. Legally they are protected by the First Amendment. And even though specific individuals were mentioned, such as President Obama and Speaker Boehner, they are public officials and would most likely lose if they chose to sue The Onion. Maybe the story and tweets were a clear example of stories that were intended to be funny and weren’t received as well as the publishers would have anticipated. Or maybe...

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Culture emphasizes fashion

Picture yourself sitting in class wearing your favorite pair of TOMs, dressed in freshly-washed skinny jeans and an awesome new shirt found on sale at Target. Suddenly you look up to see the student who sits next to you walk into class. You are caught off guard and feel a twinge of desire creep up inside your gut when you notice that she is wearing a trendy new blouse. You want one. You need one. Or do you? Everyone has experienced a variation of this scenario. American culture tries to teach that outward appearance is everything. Sure, personality does come into play when getting to know someone, but what a person is wearing inevitably attracts others to them or pushes them away. Society tells this generation they can always use more stylish outfits. Instead of garments being for protection or for basic human needs, they have become about fitting in. This is not to say that dressing nicely is wrong or that people cannot use clothes as a way to express themselves. Rather, this should not become the main focus. There is nothing inappropriate about having plenty of nice clothing in the closet. The dilemma is that through the media and advertising, people are told they need more. The yearning to have the newest trends filling their closets eats at Americans. Eventually we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of never being content with what we have and constantly wanting more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women spend an hour a day shopping, seven hours a week 365 hours a year. This adds up to an average of three years of a woman’s life spent on shopping. Imagine how much money is squandered within this period on things that will be outdated in just a few months. Imagine the other ways women could be investing their time and money. Would the world not be a better place if three years’ worth of time, energy and money went toward an organization that helped others? Outward appearances are not everything. People must choose to be satisfied with what they have. We have to decide not to judge others based on attire and stop using it as a way to define ourselves. Seeking a way to refocus energy and resources toward others not only helps those in need, but it causes people to stop spotlighting themselves. Next time you hear that nagging voice in your head saying, “You need that new dress,” think about whether you actually do before you become just another shocking...

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Corruption grips Indian officials

By Natasha Christian The time of rejoicing has come, and Indians celebrated the long-awaited era of new change thanks to former military member and social rights activist, Anna Hazare, who actively seeks to end government corruption. Hazare voiced his concern about corrupted politicians through a grueling 12-day hunger strike in India’s capital city, New Delhi. He started his fast on Aug. 16, the day after India’s Independence Day and ended it Aug. 27. Though his goal was aimed at the Parliament, it quickly sparked interest all over the nation and ignited a flame in middle class Indians. As a result, mass protests began in a country of over a billion people in support of Hazare’s     mission.  Nearly two months later, Hazare and his team continue their quest to transition from a crime-ridden bureaucracy to an honorable democratic system. As elections are around the corner, Hazare’s team demanded written evidence from political candidates that they will support the Jan Lokpal Bill. The document states that anyone entering the assembly must first be legitimately inspected for any possible fraudulent activities in the past. Major political parties are opposing it because the group itself consists of shady members.   Hazare discontinued his first fast because India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, vowed to activate the bill. However, the leader’s dubious promise is slowly fading. Therefore, Hazare now threatens to reinstate a huger strike once again on a larger scale if the bill is not issued by Parliament’s winter session. David Gangarapu, UMHB graduate student studying information systems, hopes the struggles and government oppositions Hazare is facing are worth it. He said, “I wish this will continue. This should straighten things out for coming generations. I hope this will lead to something permanent.” Indian citizens have had enough of the scandals and crimes that are overtaking their legislature. They refuse to pay bribes any longer to local officials in order to have their voices heard and for jobs to be done. Allegedly some politicians give hush money to keep illegal acts of the past hidden. It is also apparent that the political ruling class is wealthier than accounted for with unrecorded amounts of money in Swiss bank accounts. Transparency International, a global coalition fighting corruption, conducted a corruption perception survey in 2010. India’s parliament ranked 3.3 out of 10. Other low scoring countries include China, Egypt and Mexico. Gangarapu said a government inspection organization is actively in place, but the members themselves are tainted.  “There is the A.C.B. – Anti Corruption Bureau, but they themselves are corrupt.”  He also said the vast majority of Indian government personnel are unethical and explains why some areas have...

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Obama likely to stay
Oct04

Obama likely to stay

President Barack Obama is not prepared to pack his bags and move out of the White House in 2012. Contrary to the viewpoints of many conservative voters who would like to believe the president has no chance of being reelected, just the opposite is true. In fact, according to The Keys to the White House by Allan Lichtman, the president is set to win a second term – if he can avoid a scandal. A couple of key developments in recent news may have created that scandal for this president, however. The first scandal that could stand in the way is the bankruptcy of a solar panel company called Solyndra. The company was flaunted by President Obama in 2010. He called it a “testament to American ingenuity” saying, “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future,” “We are poised to generate countless new jobs — good-paying, middle-class jobs — right here in the United States of America,” Obama said. Solyndra came into the public eye on Sept. 6, however, when the company declared bankruptcy. The jobs went out the window too. With the closing, 1,100 workers were laid off. Since then, the company’s relationship with the Obama administration has been scrutinized. Solyndra investor George Kaiser, who raised more than $50,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, is currently being investigated. Information has also surfaced about a government loan given to Solyndra for $535 million with a lower quarterly interest rate than other projects. The White House has claimed that it had no involvement in the loan application. However, the Associated Press reports the administration restructured the loan in a way that would allow private investors like Kaiser to move ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of default. While White House logs show Kaiser made at least 16 visits to the president’s aides since 2009, the George Kaiser Family Foundation told the New York Times “he did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan.” The second scandal that could prevent Obama’s reelection has been under investigation since whistle-blowers came forward following the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. It has had a lower profile than the Solyndra investigations, but it could still create a problem for the president. Fast and Furious, a government operation that allowed as many as 1,800 guns to be smuggled across the border to Mexican drug cartels, began in 2009. Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been noted as the main agency behind the plan, the Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, FBI and Immigration and...

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Turkey following in footsteps of Iran

Israel is in the position that Dr. Alan Grant found himself in Jurassic Park: surrounded by hungry raptors. Israel is enveloped on all sides by Islamic nations, some of which have attempted to invade the country within the last 50 years. Governments of neighboring nations even call for the annihilation of the Jews. Is it truly that grim for Israel? Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publically calls for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Centuries of prejudice may cause Iranians to passively accept their president’s rhetoric about Israel, but they challenge the authority of their president and leaders. The same can be said of Syria. Israel and Syria cannot tolerate each other, but there is so much unrest in Syria that it poses no threat. Though the nations surrounding Israel are weakened, it does not put the country in the clear. They face a new danger from a former ally. The Turkish government  unexpectedly expelled the Israeli ambassador and officially severed any diplomatic and trade ties with the country. What makes this so surprising is that Turkey and Israel have had a peaceful relationship for the past 60 years. The two countries have frequently been trade partners, even going as far as signing a free-trade agreement. Israel supplied Turkey with the majority of its arms, and Turkey allowed Israeli pilots to fly practice missions in Turkish airspace. After an incident off the coast of Gaza in May 2010, relations between the two countries went cold. Turkish civilian activists attempted to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. Their ship was boarded by Israeli commandos, and nine Turks were killed. The Turkish government demanded an apology, reparations and prosecutions of those involved. Israel refused to meet any of these demands, and it has caused relations between Turkey and Israel to sour Turkey’s political culture  is changing. Once a staunchy secular country which kept a strong separation between mosque and state, Turkey is embracing its Islamic roots. Some would go as far and say they are flirting with the idea of an Islamic theocracy. Since its formation in 1923, Turkey has been a strongly nationalistic country. In spite of the intense pride, Turkey has maintained strong ties with the West. The nationalism is slowly growing into an anti-western sentiment. The fear of some Turks is that Turkey is headed down the same dreadful path that Iran traversed in 1979. As the popularity of the Islamic AK party grows, more and more people jump on a conspiracy-theory bandwagon. How much of this conspiracy theory is actually theory? Consider this: Turkey’s secular government has always been held in check by the military....

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