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.

U.N. sets unlikely goals

World hunger has decreased … sort of. For the first time in 15 years, the number of people facing hunger is 925 million, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. After the number swelled to 1.023 billion due to the global food and economic crisis, the drop is an important step in the right direction, or least a step of recovery, but it is not nearly enough for 2010. In 2000, the United Nations developed an ambitious program. They called it the Millennium Development Goals. As the calendars rolled into 2000, the U.N. wanted a goal for the future – something to aspire to. They decided to start the 21st century by attacking what may be the most significant world issues. The goals assert that developed nations have the resources and the responsibility necessary to finally provide for the most basic needs of the world’s poorest people. The goals to be met by 2015 are to cut poverty in half, increase education for children, end hunger and defeat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The U.N. gathered again on Sept. 20, and the goals must be a major focus of the General Assembly. 2010 is a road mark in the 15-year plan, and the goals are not being met. Not even close. The goals said poverty in developing countries would be slashed to 10 percent. Even with the drop this year, poverty sits at 16 percent. This is far from the goal, and most of the positive results are in a small sample of countries. In Africa, malnutrition and hunger are as daunting as ever. Disease is still rampant, and few HIV prevention movements have had significant results. To keep these goals from becoming just more U.N. rhetoric without action, nations will have to focus intently on aiding the continent. Life in the western world has changed dramatically since 2000, while poverty in developing nations has nearly stagnated. Even luxuries have changed. At the turn of the millennium, cell phones were uncommon, and now even middle school students spend hours texting friends. The iPod became another necessity, as the digital music market soared. TVs got bigger, sharper, flatter and of higher definition. Movies even added a whole new dimension, driving up ticket prices at the same time. Yet the number of people in Africa who die of starvation has hardly diminished. The buzz word “change” has been thrown around in politics. But where is the change in Africa? Young people are rallying behind organizations that aim to get clean drinking water or food for the African people, so why aren’t governments investing like their public? The U.N. has the...

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Raising a white flag
Sep28

Raising a white flag

Editorial by Staff In a display of submission, the newspaper in Juarez, Mexico, raised a white flag to drug cartels last week. The staff of El Diario de Juarez ran a front-page editorial Sept. 19 pleading with drug cartels to stop violence against their journalists. On the day the editorial was published, the image of the Mexican flag, which normally appears in the paper’s nameplate, was depicted dripping with blood. The newspaper’s letter came in response to the shooting of one of their own. Luis Carlos Santiago, a photographer for El Diario, was killed in a parked car outside of a shopping mall in Juarez. He was out to lunch with an intern who was also injured. The editorial ran in the paper on the same day as the photographer’s burial. After Santiago’s death, the Mexican newspaper has decided to cut its drug coverage, concluding the situation has become too dangerous for journalists. “We do not want more deaths,” the newspaper’s letter to the cartels said. “We do not want more injuries or even more intimidation. It is impossible to exercise our role in these conditions. Tell us, then, what do you expect of us as a medium?” El Diario is the most popular paper in Juarez, and it has made a reputation for aggressively covering drug violence in the past. Investigative reporting in Mexico is very dangerous, but, up until now, Juarez has had the best coverage of any border city. Many other cities simply don’t cover crime news anymore. In Juarez, the journalists have challenged and stood up to the cartels. But with the photographer’s death, the newspaper staff appears to have reached its breaking point. It’s a real tragedy to see the last defender of free speech in the area forced to surrender to the drug lords. In the letter to the cartels, the newspaper said, “You are, at present, the de facto authorities in this city because the legal institutions have not been able to keep our colleagues from dying.” The editorial goes on to say, “This is not a surrender. Nor does it mean that we’ve given up the work we have been developing. Instead it is a respite to those who have imposed the force of its law in this city, provided they respect the lives of those who are dedicated to the craft of reporting.” El Diario’s editor, Pedro Torres, reiterated that the editorial does not indicate the paper’s submission to cartels. “We’re not surrendering to the people who belong to these groups. We’re asking for a truce because we don’t want them to kill any more of our companeros,” he said....

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Campus parking battle

When your clothes get dusty walking to class and construction workers greet you around every corner, you know big changes are happening on campus. Over the summer, the university worked hard to put up new buildings. Remodeling is still in full swing with new sidewalks still underway, but the one thing that has most students hot under the collar is parking. Granted, there is always some fuss over this situation every year. Finding a parking spot seems to be even more difficult this fall, and it’s no wonder with a record number of 598 freshmen on campus. Facebook seems to be taking the brunt of students’ frustrations with status updates like “Day 2 of the UMHB student parking battle. Bring it on freshmen, bring it on,” “Seriously, freshmen, walk to class and save the parking for off-campus students!” and “Wow UMHB you’re about 20 million student parking places short!” According to the campus police department, the university has 3,495 parking spaces, 2,914 of which are located on the main campus and assigned to student parking. The number of student vehicles registered on campus is 2,473. Yes, the numbers don’t really seem to add up. Students’ reactions to the situations may seem a little dramatic, but the statements do hold some truth. The need for expansion is a direct result of the university’s growth. With more students comes a demand for new parking lots. This is not to say that the university is not making an effort. After all, more than 250 spaces were added over the summer in the lots by McLane Hall and Garner Hall. Director of Campus Police Gary Sargent suggests that if you live on campus, you should walk to class or use one of the Cru bikes. He has a good point. Part of our tuition goes to those bikes, so save some gas and use them if you live on campus. This means you, freshmen. It seems that no matter what changes are made, students are always going to find something to nitpick about. Parking issues will be here tomorrow and still probably years down the road. The fight will continue, so get up early and fight over that spot, because it might be the only one you find all...

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Stop, think morals first

Eighty-seven days. That’s how long crude oil gushed endlessly into the Gulf of Mexico before BP (British Petroleum) finally managed to cap the hole caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20. After six failed efforts to stop the escape of oil, BP managed to fashion a cap to stop the leak. Eleven lives were lost in the initial explosion, and more than 205.8 million gallons of oil flooded into the Gulf, according to reports by the Flow Rate Technical Group. No one wants to discuss the Gulf oil spill anymore. For two months the nation watched in horror as oil flooded the ocean, disrupting or destroying entire ecosystems. It was painful to watch, and now that the leak is finally plugged no one wants to remember the weeks of suffering. But there is a larger, glaring issue that many people have avoided discussing or only mentioned in passing. It’s because everyone is to blame for this issue, not just BP. The problem, at its core, is technology itself, and how ethics and morals play into science. When BP first began deep-sea drilling, they were required to have contingency plans in case any problems arose. Problems such as oil rigs exploding, or oil gushing out into the ocean. If it takes 87 days to cap a leak, contingency plans have obviously failed. So why is technology allowed to progress at a break-neck pace without ethical checks and balances in place to save people from their own half-formed ideas and shoddy work ethics? Because people are so concerned with the “next big thing” and having the newest device or a gadget more powerful than their friend. If people can make it faster, they will. Stronger? Of course. Bigger? You betcha. But safer? That little word never crosses anyone’s mind until at least 100 people get hurt. BP drilled a hole into the earth’s crust deep in the middle of the ocean knowing their failsafe plans were unlikely at best to work. That’s not even the worst of the technological advances people are making without thought for the consequences. Everyone remembers Dolly, right? The first mammal successfully cloned by humans? Dolly was a sheep that lived for six years and birthed six lambs before being put down because she had lung cancer. It has never been truer to say that someone has played at being God than at the moment of Dolly’s creation. Dolly was a triumph of modern science. Humanity had actually created life outside of biological reproduction. It is amazing. But is it ethical? Scientists are now actively attempting to clone human beings. Where...

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Taking freedom for granted

I have it easy. The biggest challenges I face each day are making it to class on time, trying not to get in a car wreck on my way to work and matching my socks. I take freedom for granted. The men and women who served in our armed forces made it possible to have such simple worries and concerns. They fought to defend my freedom on the front lines of the battlefield. For more than two centuries, beginning with the American Revolution, men and women bled and died to obtain and preserve the liberties taken for granted today. The concerns these American soldiers have faced throughout history are very different from mine. Would they have enough rations for the next day? Would they freeze to death in the night? Would they have the strength to hold off pressing forces? Would they lose a limb today from a precariously placed car bomb? Would they be alive tomorrow? Because I did not see the bloodshed and hardship of war with my own eyes, I have been charmed into thinking freedom is an automatic part of life. Sadly, this is not the truth. In fact, in China today, citizens do not possess the freedom of speech. The Internet in China is closely monitored by the government. Message boards and social networking websites are censored to prevent any anti-government sentiment. Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, was sentenced to a 10-year imprisonment in 2005 for releasing a document belonging to the Chinese Communist Party overseas to a Chinese democracy website. Yahoo! China handed over the journalist’s personal details to the government. Li Zhi, Jiang Lijun and Wang Xiaoning all tried to promote democratic reform in China under the government’s radar. But all three are currently imprisoned in China after the government Intercepted messages they sent on the Internet. People in other countries, such as the citizens of China, wish they had the freedom I take for granted. Freedom was not a gift. It is not free. It was fought for and won by our founders. If Americans spent one day as citizens of a country that lacks the freedoms we enjoy, they would have a better appreciation for the liberties we forget about everyday. It’s easy to forget what a precious commodity freedom is, when one isn’t on the front lines as a soldier. Many American men and women fought and died in my place. I owe the freedom to live a peaceful life, obtain a job and build a home with my family to the heroism of the individuals in the armed forces. They have a hard job, so I can have...

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Mosque near ground zero a no go
Aug24

Mosque near ground zero a no go

New York natives are scheduled to receive a new building near where the Twin Towers once stood, a building the majority does not want, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf proposed to build the Cordoba House, a 15-story Islamic community center two blocks away from the site of one of the greatest tragedies in our nation’s history. A poll of New Yorkers showed that 52 percent are opposed to the Muslim center being built in that location, while only 31 percent are in favor of it. The Cordoba House project would contain a performing-arts center, gym, swimming pool and a mosque. The fact that there is a mosque is almost in small print. The term “cultural” or “community” center only misleads the non-Muslim world. Let’s be clear. It’s a mosque. According to Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, as quoted on Newsweek’s website, “The time for a center like this has come because Islam is an American religion. We need to take the 9/11 tragedy and turn it into something very positive.” The proposed building is having just the opposite effect on the minds of New Yorkers, though. It is adding fuel to the fires of anti-Islamic sentiment. Many who argue for the creation of an Islamic center near ground zero cite the First Amendment as their trump card, but the constitutional right to freedom of religion is not in question here. No one said Muslims cannot worship. In fact, there are more than 100 other mosques in New York City. The First Amendment means that Americans have the right to worship however they choose. It does not mean they can build a place of worship wherever they choose. In fact, there is a church whose congregation has been trying to rebuild their place of worship for the past eight years. It was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks when one of the towers fell on top of it. According to Fox News, negotiations to rebuild the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which once stood near the Twin Towers, were stalled last year and will not be revived, according to government officials. While the Greek Orthodox Church will not be built near ground zero, the mosque’s progress is moving forward, despite public opposition. Muslims have a plethora of other mosques in New York City where they can worship in fellowship. Ground zero is a very sensitive area for Americans, and Imam Rauf needs to respect this and build his “cultural center”...

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