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.

Modern-day pirates

Pirates be not just a thin’ o’ t’ past. They don’t just exist in movies starring Johnny Depp or just make good Halloween costumes. They are still making headlines today. Somalian pirates are making quite the name for themselves so far this year. With more than 660 hostages and some 30 vessels under their control, they are gaining power over one of the world’s most important     shipping channels. Somalia is located at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.  The country has not had a functioning government since 1991 and still continues to struggle with fighting between warlords. International military officials have vowed to fight the pirates who have moved into the waters off the coast of East Africa to try and make it more difficult for the pirates to capture ships and earn multi-million dollar ransoms.  However, the pirates are fighting back. Last month, four Americans were taken hostage and killed by pirates.  The U.S. military said that the deaths mark the first time U.S. citizens have been killed since a wave of pirate attacks began six years ago. How many more innocent lives will be lost before piracy becomes an act of war? It is OK to pretend to talk like a pirate and wear an eye patch, but where will the government draw the line?  Pirates are not just fictional characters. Other recent attacks include a Danish couple, their three children and two crew members who were captured and are currently being held hostage. This is unusual because pirates do not usually target and hijack family yachts. It does not matter if Somalia has a government or not. If there is a Somalian ship filled with pirates floating on open waters, why shouldn’t we sink it? We sank our enemies’ ships and boats in WWI and WWII, why stop now? Innocent lives are being threatened and taken by money-hungry buccaneers, and we are letting them. Granted, the military has been involved, but not to the degree it should be. Abdullahi Mohamed, a pirate who told The Associated Press he has ties to the gang holding the Danish family, said they will be killed if any rescue operation was carried out. If the vessels owners cannot pay the multi-million dollar ransom the pirates demand, they may keep the ship and use it to stalk other vessels until they run out of supplies or break down.  The pirates are upping their ransom to roughly $5 million per hijacked ship. Thankfully yachters are realizing the danger of the pirate-infested waters and taking precautions when having to sail near the...

Read More

Stick to the movies, not politics

What is it with Hollywood criticizing the way this nation is run 24/7? Most actors/actresses have no experience in politics. Many do not have a college education, and few have ever served in the military. Yet they use their celebrity to bash the White House administration thinking, for some reason, they have a better strategy. When George W. Bush was in the White House, he drew criticisms from every celebrity imaginable, ranging from interviews to movies that mocked his every mistake. Matt Damon recently released a movie called Green Zone. This movie is the epitome of anti-war/anti-American as it goes too far in blaming the United States government for the Middle East war while also manipulating the audience into rooting against American troops. The line between good guy and bad guy becomes fuzzy – so much so that audiences are unsure whether to cheer on Sunni Iraqi insurgents as they shoot down a helicopter filled with American soldiers. And it is no secret that Matt Damon is very critical of the government. He was known during the 2008 campaign for bashing both George Bush and Sarah Palin. This week, his new target is current president Barack Obama. What’s interesting is that when Obama was running for president, Damon gave him his full support calling him “brilliant” and a “deep thinker.” However, now, when asked by Piers Morgan of CNN if he was a fan of Obama, Damon simply answered “No.” He then began pointing out the things Obama was doing wrong. Damon isn’t the only celebrity unhappy with Obama. In fact, he joins a long list of them including Barbra Streisand, Jane Lynch (of Glee), Hugh Hefner, Robert Redford and director Spike Lee. And they all seem to be saying the same thing, which is that the president isn’t doing enough. Over the last year, a growing number of Hollywood types have publicly trashed the president’s record on everything from gay rights, to environmental issues, to the war in Iraq.  They are highly critical of his failure to close a military detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Does this sound familiar? Just a couple of years ago, celebrities were saying the same thing about President Bush and his policies. Are they just saying what they think the public wants to hear?   Do they have any facts to back up their accusations? Unfortunately, celebrities are the icons of America. People look up to them and are influenced by what they have to say. When they criticize the government, guess what happens? Our culture listens.  Most people don’t do enough research to form their own opinions and conclusions. Celebrities definitely use their...

Read More

State budget cuts impact both current, future Texas teachers

Graduation is May 7, and many students walking across the stage are receiving a degree in education. It has always seemed like a secure job choice. Children will always need an education; therefore, teachers will always be in demand … right? Unfortunately, wrong. This career option has lost some of its job security. Nearly $5 billion is being cut from the state educational budget. This proposal could necessitate larger class sizes and layoffs of thousands of current educators. Growing classrooms lead to crowded schools. This means districts will be cutting new jobs along with funding for educating students in public schools and on the collegiate level. With all of these cuts occurring, how can a student obtain a quality      education? Standardized testing is the definition of public schools in Texas. Curriculum is based on teaching students from kindergarten to 11th grade to pass these tests in order to move up in school and go to college. Passionate, well-qualified teachers are desperately needed in pubic schools. Put it in perspective. How many students at UMHB have had a football coach for high school math or history? At one a small town west of Fort Worth, Texas, football is everything. In fact, many teachers are football coaches who took over critical learning positions in the educational department. To make a long story short, not all coaches can teach. Where are all the teachers wanting to make a difference in students’ lives? In this type of school environment, they cannot be hired. Why? Because of district budget cuts the government has made. And unfortunately, the football department is more important at this particular school. The local parents care more about their children’s education than football. Not everyone learns at the same rate either. Educators are trained throughout school to get students’ attention and to keep it throughout class time. Also, they have to be patient with those who are slow learners in certain subjects. Too much of this is all too political. Getting down to the nitty gritty, students need good education. Not half met standards just to pass the TAKS testing. Teachers mold children – they always have. Two dear friends are walking across that stage at the Expo Center come May 7. Their perspectives have changed. No longer can they  be selective about the cities they want to live and teach in. They are determined to go where they are needed. Their passion is to make a difference. Not only does this proposal affect graduating students but incoming freshmen as well. financial aid for new students will be eliminated, and so will  some funding for four community colleges outside the...

Read More

Unrest spreads in Middle East

When learning about major historical events from a textbook in grade school, it is easy to place a name on turbulent time periods in the world’s history – such as the Black Plague or World War II – but at the time those events occurred, it was probably much harder to nail down a name that would describe exactly what was happening. It has been called many things – the White Revolution, the Revolution of the Youth, the Rage Revolution, the Lotus Revolution and the 25 January Revolution – but here in American media, it is most well known as the 18 Day Revolution. The protests in Egypt sent a clear message to the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak. Citizens are not going to take the tyranny any longer. Mubarak has given in to the people’s demands and officially resigned from his position. While he was in power, Egypt’s government was called a “Republic.” His political party was called the National Democratic Party. On the surface, the people of Egypt would appear to be free. However, Mubarak has autocratically controlled the country under Emergency Law since 1981. While his political party was called “democratic,” it was the only party in Egyptian politics allowed in the elections. Stacking all the candidates with their own players ensured their victory. Egypt may have appeared to be a republic, but in reality, there was only one party to choose from. Since Mubarak’s resignation, Egypt’s military is in control of the country, for now. But the people are calling for free elections. Could President George W. Bush’s goal of freeing Iraq and setting up a democracy in the Middle East be rubbing off on the surrounding countries? As planned? One largely hidden piece of the puzzle may do more to influence the future of Egypt than anything else, however – the Muslim Brotherhood. The protests in Egypt were purportedly fueled by instigation from the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an Islamic extremist group that promotes the role of Islam in government systems of the Middle East. If free elections take place, the question is will a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood win and establish a foothold by which the group can take over the country? Candidates from the group were previously barred from elections by Mubarak. So, why should Americans care about the outcome of Egypt, a country halfway across the globe? For starters, the U.S. gives about $2 billion each year to Egypt for economic and military aid. As America pinches its own pennies in the economic recession, the destination of taxpayer money will become more heavily scrutinized. Also, control of Egypt means control of...

Read More

Privacy matters with matters of the heart

Being a celebrity means having little, if any, kind of personal life. Depending on which entertainment show, magazine or tabloid is most popular at the moment, one specific piece of information always seems to have viewers and readers everywhere tuned in – divorce. Think about it. Ratings sky rocketed when TLC’s reality TV stars, Jon and Kate Gosselin of Kate Plus 8, finalized their divorce two years ago. Every detail up until the signing date was covered. Supposedly, break-ups qualify as news. No one is safe in the public eye. Depending on if one person is seeking attention or not, divorce can be an extremely personal matter, and major news sources see it as a growth opportunity to rack up more readers and viewers. Take Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston for instance. They said “I do” in Malibu on July 29, 2000. Soon, their marriage was on the rocks. Some sketchy photos were submitted to magazines, and only six years later Angelina Jolie became Pitt’s new wife. Every magazine stand by check-out counters was covered with cheesy headlines like “Brangelina” and “Jen vs. Angie.” Even young celebrities have their breakups displayed for the entire world to see and hear. No wonder so many of them are going through tough times; their whole lives are constantly being watched. Show some sympathy, people. Yes, Taylor Swift has written many bashing songs about her exes, but that’s her way of expressing her hurt — not pictures of her and Jake Gyllenhaal posted all over People and OK! Magazine. It is inevitable. Stars will never be out of the spotlight because of who they are. Paparazzi will continue to snap photos of every little detail in their relationships. Tabloids will always turn those photos into a story to make a dollar, and the most upsetting part of it is some of the public will believe everything they see, hear and read. Where does the line need to be drawn? Granted, these stars have chosen to live very public lifestyles (it comes with the job), but is it really readers’ and viewers’ business to find their miseries “entertaining?” As part of the public eye, it’s heartbreaking to know these people (who are just like us, but have more fame to their name) are experiencing a kind of hurt most of us can’t fathom. Breakups are one thing, but to end a marriage is another. If the temptation to catch up on the latest break ups and make ups is too much, take the time to be in their shoes. As humans, we are all going to mess up and make fools of...

Read More

Morality police put a damper on Valentine’s

For dozens of couples celebrating Valentine’s Day in Malaysia, festivities were quickly halted as the Islamic morality police in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur gathered up and arrested the unmarried pairs. Operation Valentine has happened every year since 2005 when it became illegal to observe the holiday in the country. This ploy is carried out by a group whose purpose is to enforce adherence to Sharia Law. When people mess up and the morality police find out, they arrest them and put them on trial. The V-Day lovers are being tried for close proximity, which is illegal according to the law. If they are found guilty, they could spend the next two years in prison. Having a police force that deals with morality issues seems strange to us as Americans living in a free world where immorality has long been accepted as part of the culture. TV ads, music lyrics and public displays of sexuality in the U.S. look a lot different today than they did 50 years ago. The American public has embraced freedom so much that it has blurred the lines between right and wrong, good and bad. But is it better to have a group focused on enforcing proper behavior or to let people figure it out and run wild until they do? Having morality police officers busting down hotel doors on Valentine’s Day is pretty extreme. They are scaring the public into making wise choices by threatening to arrest them if they slip up. If it’s necessary to have a police force watching the actions of a religious group, how genuine is that religion? Are the people choosing right from wrong because they earnestly desire to please a higher being, or simply because it’s not worth the consequences of a moment of rebellion? On the other hand, according to nationmaster.com, a website hosting stats on worldwide crime, Malaysia has one of the highest percentages of police per capita and one of the lowest percentages of total crime. Maybe they’ve tapped into something. People following good moral consciences are less likely to dabble in crime. By having a police force that cracks down on moral issues, they are preventing crime. Here in the United States, we have no morality police, and the U.S. has one of the highest total crime rates per capita according to nationmaster.com, which listed it in the number six slot of highest crime rates. Maybe the Islamic morality police are overbearing and infringing on people’s freedom to express love, but they might just be doing some good, too. Their religion is taken seriously. People follow all the teachings of Muhammad instead...

Read More
Page 40 of 59« First...102030...3839404142...50...Last »