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.

Holidays apart
Nov24

Holidays apart

By Sarah Sattelberg This Christmas will mark the third Christmas out of four that my husband, Ryan, has been deployed. Some people might think this would make me resent the Army or the war in Iraq, but it makes me proud of what his absence stands for. I do not wish to wallow in the self pity that being without the one you love can bring on. I want to revel in the true meaning of the holidays. Christmas is not only the birth of our Savior but a time to reflect on the beauty of family and friends near or far. Holidays become a habit for most Americans; it is something they do the same time every year. We just go through the motions with little thought. Celebrating the holidays seems like our God-given right. The holidays for me are no longer just something I do out of habit, but something I am inexplicably grateful for. Every Christmas, birthday, or New Year’s that my husband and I spend together feels like a gift from God. The reality of war is he might never make it home to see another Christmas. So I cherish every time he does make it home. Since the war in Iraq began, 4,356 American soldiers have been killed. Sixty-seven soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in October alone. Holidays for the families of fallen soldiers are no longer habits but an obstacle in the grieving process. Every holiday marks the anniversary of the last one they spent with their fallen hero. I will spend Christmas not alone but with friends who are the closest things to family without being genetically linked. Our friendships have been forged on long deployments, and we all now have a bond that can never be broken. We will put on our brave faces and try to make the best out of a crappy situation. We will celebrate but not wholeheartedly because half our hearts are missing. We will not open all of the presents, but keep them wrapped until our husbands and wives return in January at the end of this rotation. Our spouses will celebrate as best they can in a place like Iraq. Their dining facility Christmas dinner will leave something to be desired. They will open the boxes filled with festive Christmas items, baked goods and presents we have sent them. They will read the thank you letters that children and strangers have mailed. They will soldier on and pretend it’s not that big of a deal being deployed on Christmas. I won’t pretend this is easy. Holidays are the most difficult time for families and deployed...

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Living the American dream

By Marisol Escobar Immigration is a highly debated topic. Many U.S. citizens strongly oppose any reform to legalize immigrant status. In a time like this, it’s extremely intimidating to express that you are for immigrant rights without being scorned by others. As the daughter of immigrants, I’m truly grateful for immigrant amnesty. The reform was passed in 1986 when I was just a baby. Thanks to former President Ronald Reagan, my parents were able to become legal residents. I cannot imagine them living with fear and little rights. They now live a life of peace and freedom. My parents are hard working people. They did not even finish middle school, but taught me things far more valuable than what you learn in school. Everything that was given to me was with their love and dedication. They worked from the bottom and moved their way up. They never asked the government for help when they were illegal immigrants. They never went to the doctor or asked for food stamps. Their outlook on life was to do things with honesty. My mother even put her life at risk to live a better life. She was robbed at gun point while trying to make it to the U.S. Their path to the American dream wasn’t easy; they overcame many obstacles. Growing up we would take trips to Mexico. Every Christmas we would travel 18 hours by vehicle. About 10 hours into the trip, we would always pass through the state of San Luis Potosi. One of my most vivid memories as a child was seeing children and women along the side of the road begging for food, money and clothes. We would stop along the road and give them what we could. As my sisters and I got back into the car, my parents would remind us how fortunate we were. My last trip to Mexico was about two years ago, and we passed through the same state. I saw a woman running with a baby in her arms because a car had stopped to give her help. My heart sank. I immediately became overwhelmed with tears in my eyes. I could not imagine living a life of poverty and desperation. Until you have walked in other people’s shoes, it is hard to even begin to imagine what they truly go through. The problem with Mexico is their government. For many years the citizens dealt with a dishonest government. There has been an influx of illegal immigrants in recent years. In order for that to stop, the government needs to fix its system. They should create more jobs and make it a...

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Got socialism?

It was not just a bad dream. It happened. The House version of the health care reform bill passed. Legislators voted 220 to 215 to approve the bill, which is estimated to cost $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years. Does this mean the majority of Americans support a step toward socialism in the form of free and public health care for all? Not necessarily. Public health care has been a goal of the Democratic Party for decades. They have the majority in Congress right now, and so they narrowly passed the bill. The majority of the people in the House support this bill, but that does not mean the majority of Americans do. It did not pass the House easily, by any means. According to The New York Times, Democrats had to sacrifice “major concessions on insurance coverage for abortions” to get the last votes they needed. This was “a wrenching compromise for the numerous abortion-rights advocates in their ranks.” Only one Republican voted in favor of the bill. That means these compromises on abortion coverage were made just to get enough Democrats to vote in favor, and after the dust settled, 39 Democrats still opposed the bill. The bill is not on Obama’s desk waiting to be signed just yet though. Its next stop is the Senate floor. There, it will have to be approved once again by the majority of the members of the Senate. Republicans have vowed to oppose this bill more than ever as it goes on to the Senate.“This government takeover has got a long way to go before it gets to the president’s desk, and I’ll continue to fight it tooth and nail at every turn,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), according to The New York Times. President Obama is pushing for the health care reform bill to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the end of the year. This deadline quickly approaches. The majority of Americans may not support the bill, but if the majority of the Senators they elected do, it will still pass and become a law. Do the legislators represent what their constituents want, or have they been swayed by extensive lobbying to support a special interest? The answer may come before Christmas. If all goes according to President Obama’s time line for the bill, the vote will happen very soon. Americans who do not want to see the country take a giant leap into a socialistic system of government must be ever vigilant. It is happening right...

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The ‘X’ in Xmas stands for Christ
Nov24

The ‘X’ in Xmas stands for Christ

By Artie Phillips Most people have heard the classic tale of the little girl who notices a sign in a department store that proclaims “Happy Xmas!” The little girl turns to her father and asks, “Daddy, did they cross Christ out of Christmas?” The father thinks for a moment and then sadly nods his head and says, “Yes, sweetie, I guess they did,” before leading her on to finish their holiday shopping. It seems pretty common every year around this time to hear people proclaiming abbreviating Christmas as Xmas is blasphemy and an affront to Christ and Christianity. It’s natural to hear preachers declare that “you can’t ‘X’ out Christ.” At first glance, the argument that calling the holiday Xmas is degrading to religion seems reasonable, but is it really? Perhaps a little history lesson is in order to clear any resentment from what should be a festive holiday air. Let’s begin by opening our Bibles, shall we? For most people, the language in which the Bible is written is their native tongue, and that is because the common person cannot read Greek. However, it is the language that the New Testament was written in. Greek was the most standard, universal language of the first century. The name, Christ, as it is written in Greek begins with the letter X. This letter –chi, as it is pronounced in Greek – literally stood for Christ in many early publications written in Greek. This fun little fact throws a small wrench into the current argument: How do you “X” out Christ when that is the first letter of his name? Now it’s time to pull out the big guns. In 1436, Johannes Gutenberg popularized the first printing press with moveable type in Europe. In the early days of printing, all typesetting was done by hand, and the process was tedious and expensive. It became the norm to abbreviate words that were commonly used in documents in order to save time and money. According to Dennis Bratcher, who works for The Voice – a biblical and theological resource and research group – the church itself began to use the symbol X to stand for Christ. As the abbreviation took hold, X came to stand for Christ in all early publications, with Xmas being the accepted way to write Christmas. There is no secret plot to erase Christ from Christmas by replacing him with an X. The only thing the symbol X is for is to save space. It still means Christmas. If the church is still looking for someone to blame for the “blasphemy” of the season, they don’t have to look...

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Internet under attack?

By Luke Donahue Facebook has ceased to exist, Twitter won’t update, and YouTube cannot be located at this time. All of these situations may soon become a reality due to a new bill set forth by Congressman Jay Rockefeller. It is dauntingly similar to what happened earlier this year in the Mideast. In June, Iran held its presidential election in which voters would decide between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and challenger Mir- Hossein Mousavi. After ballots were counted, the government announced that Ahmadinejad had won in a landslide. Riots broke out because voters believed the election had been rigged, which it probably was. Police in Tehran beat and jailed protesters. Upon hearing this, the U.S. took a hard stance in favor of the rebels who were against Ahmadinejad. One of the most liberating media for the demonstrators was the Internet. They used it to expound on their cause and cry out for help. To combat this, Ahmadinejad turned off the Internet. That way, the outside world would have trouble hearing about the uprisings, and the rebels would have trouble communicating with one another. Although the White House has condemned Ahmadinejad’s actions, the Democrats in Congress are currently working on a bill that could emulate them. Last spring, Congressman Rockefeller began conducting a new bill called S.773, or The Cybersecurity Act of 2009. Rockefeller claims the bill will fill “the need for a cybersecurity structure in place to protect our country.” The bill says that the president “may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network ….” So what does this “critical infrastructure” include? Further down, the bill says: “state, local, and nongovernmental information systems and networks in the United States.” That means your personal computer is included. As the bill goes on, it is essentially interpreted as this: The president can turn off the Internet to everyone in the United States. After the presentation of this bill to Congress, outrage began to come from all over the media about it. What is more stunning is the fact that Democrats would support this bill considering their opposition to The Patriot Act during the Bush years. The similarity between this bill and Ahmadinejad’s actions are so close, it’s revolting. Ahmadinejad undoubtedly told his countrymen that the riots were an emergency, and that’s why he had to shut down the Internet. But America uses democratic processes. That could never happen here, right? According to Ahmadinejad, his country uses democratic processes too. The point of S.773 is not that President Obama will try...

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Pilots miss landing plane by 150 miles

Getting on a plane in the near future? You can now add a few things to your list of fears. In addition to worrying about being frisked by airport security, losing your favorite lotion because it’s more than three ounces in weight (and it could be an explosive) and getting queasy when there’s flight turbulence, travelers now have to worry whether not their pilots will be cognitive when the plane has reached its intended destination. Will the plane land where it is supposed to land? Northwest Airline pilot Captain Timothy Cheney and first officer Richard Cole made the news for their flight from San Diego in October. Unfortunately, the news frenzy wasn’t due to the pilots’ heroic efforts as when Chelsey “Sulley” Sullenberger landed US Airways flight 1459 in the Hudson River in January. Nope, not these pilots. Cheney and Cole made the news for missing their intended destination of Minneapolis by more than 150 miles. The pair was accused of falling asleep in the cockpit. (While this is possible, where were the flight attendants? Don’t they check on them and offer soda and peanuts, too?) They quickly denied the accusation, saying they were merely in a heated debate. My question is what were they arguing about for 150 miles? Later, the two said they weren’t asleep, and they weren’t arguing. The pilots say they were on their laptops. If Cheney and Cole were on their computers, what were they doing for so long that they could miss the airport? What kept them from getting messages from the Minneapolis Airport control tower for more than 90 minutes? One pilot was apparently using his personal computer, a violation of company policy. Were they on Facebook? Playing Farmville? Having an all-out Superpoke war? What will keep this from happening again with the other 3,500 national and international flights per day? The New York Times reported that the Federal Aviation Administration revoked the licenses of the two pilots. The FAA said the punishment was for “failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.” If it wasn’t for a flight attendant who contacted them via the plane’s internal phone system, the Northwest 188 carrying 144 passengers might not have landed safely. Next time when boarding the plane and a man in a pilot’s uniform is spotted, “Do you plan on getting on the computer?” might be a good response to the hearty, but overused “Thank you for choosing our...

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