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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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Members of Congress need brief term limits

Congress is no longer the voice of the American people. It is the voice of lobbyists and special interests. Setting term limits for the amount of time members of Congress can legally serve will hold our legislators accountable to us once again. Since the United States’ founding, no law has ever passed to limit the number of terms a senator or representative can stay in office. Because of this, many politicians turn their elected office into a lifelong job. These career politicians get ingrained in the political machine that is Washington, D.C. For example, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd was first elected in 1958. He still holds the same office today. Some members of the House of Representatives have been in office for more than 50 years as well. These Congress members were initially elected to represent us. Because they spend years in Washington and away from their constituents back home, though, lobbyists become their best friends. Even if a member of Congress turns lobbyists away at first, the benefits, favors and gifts that are constantly waved in their faces become quite appealing. Lobbyists know our senators and representatives very well. They are best buds. After some time in Washington, elected officials do what the lobbyists want and lose focus on what their constituents want. If term limits for members of Congress were in place, the ties between lobbyists and our representatives would be broken. A Congress member would not make a career as a politician and, therefore, would not have a long-term relationship with lobbyists. With term limits, a fresh and inspired citizen would be able to run for office every few years. Because they campaign in their home state, the senators or representatives would be fully aware of what their constituents want and would be in tune with their needs. When incumbents, or those who are already in the office, campaign for their reelection, they do so from Washington. They are also spending most of their time running for reelection instead of working on legislation that the people need. The incumbents beat new candidates more than 80 percent of the time because they receive most of the campaign money from their party. Once these career politicians are in office, they simply say whatever people want to hear to keep their job. Ironically, in order to place term limits on members of Congress, Congress would have to vote and pass a bill that states as much. Can members of Congress really pass a law to “fire” themselves? Most likely, the answer is no. The senators and representatives that are already in office and already connected tightly to lobbyists...

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Obama receives an ‘A’ for effort, nothing more

By Artie Phillips The first sitting president to win the Nobel Peace Prize was Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 for his work in the negotiation resulting in the Treaty of Portsmouth that led to the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. The second sitting president to win the prize was Woodrow Wilson in 1920 for his in founding the League of Nations the year before. On Oct. 9, 2009, President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for absolutely nothing. Actually, that is not an entirely accurate statement. The Nobel Prize committee officially gave Obama the award for his “efforts” and “promises” to advance global harmony, not for any concrete achievements like previous winners. Granted, not all winners of the Nobel Peace Prize have won for something tangible: Martin Luther King Jr. won the prize in 1964 for his leadership in bringing equality to a racial minority in a peaceful manner. But at least when King won the prize, the world could see evidence of his accomplishments. He had clearly affected the world in a positive manner, and he was being duly rewarded for his efforts. Obama, however, has achieved the peace prize with just a few promises and some poignant speeches, not with clear evidence that his words have gotten him anywhere. That’s not to say Obama isn’t working hard. We can’t know at this point if his efforts will amount to anything. If his words and promises had already swayed the hearts and minds of billions, then this would not be an issue. But awarding the president the Nobel Peace Prize when he hasn’t even held the position for a full year yet leads people to believe that the prize committee may have jumped the gun on this one. It would not have hurt anyone to wait year or two to see if Obama can make good on his words. But now, winning the peace prize could be the worst thing the president has going for him. For instance, if he doesn’t manage to further the cause of global harmony, no one in this world will hold high hopes for him to accomplish much of anything else during his term of office. His winning of the Nobel Peace Prize will be viewed as unjustified, and the world will look down on him for it, despite his complete lack of choice in being awarded the prize. Obama’s words got him into the problem he now faces, but it is going to take a lot more than a few persuasive speeches to make good on his promises. Occasionally, words do manage to speak louder than actions, but words without...

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Trick or treating is innocent fun
Oct27

Trick or treating is innocent fun

It is OK for parents to take their children trick-or-treating even when they claim to be Christians. I also think it is fine for adults to enjoy the holiday as well. Halloween has a bad reputation among many Christians because its past is rooted in paganism. According to History.com, the holiday originated from the Celts, 2,000 years ago and celebrated their new year on Nov. 1. On the night Oct. 31, they celebrated Samhain. It was believed that on Samhain the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, the Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins and attempted to tell each others’ fortunes. Today, Halloween is a celebration made for children. It is also a portal for adults to revert back to child-like mentalities with costumes, candy and games. It is alright for a child or adult to enjoy dressing in costume, digging into candy and enjoying wholesome fun with friends and family without the demonic traditions present. It is all based on the individual perception of the holiday. Many churches also have fall festivals for families. Children dress in costumes, play games and receive treats. There’s no difference between that and trick or treating. As long as the costumes are kept non-gory, it is the same thing. Times have changed from the Celts 2,000 years ago. Trick or treating on Halloween is an American tradition. People do not look at a little girl dressed as Tinkerbell or a little boy suited up as Spider Man carrying their tiny pillowcases full of candy and think, where are the animal heads they need for their animal sacrifice? People see innocent children having innocent...

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Stay true to your own convictions

Halloween isn’t a day for Christians to fear. 1 John 4:4 says, “For greater is He who is in me, than he that is in the world.” It’s not wrong for parents and children to participate, but it’s about the motivation and degree of that participation. People should stay true to their own convictions. They should research history of the day and not be naïve – thinking that cults don’t exist anymore. They should know and evaluate the facts against their convictions decide whether their family should participate. When I was in the first grade, my mom made me a purple and white cheerleader costume for Halloween. The white shirt had a big purple ‘K’ across the front. I twirled and jumped in the living room with my pompoms. My terror of a toddler sister wore black sweats with a furry skunk tail stuffed in her diaper bottom. Not exactly the finest pair of outfits to go trick or treating together, but we made it work. Growing up, we toured the neighborhood in our small town, especially Grandma’s road because she had generous candy-giving neighbors. We’d usually end the night at our church’s fall festival before making the rounds of the fair at the church across the street from our house. My favorites were the cake walk and bean bag toss. In the innocence of childhood, where holidays are merely excuses to eat candy, play games and unwrap gifts, I didn’t know Halloween might not be so innocent. My perceptions have changed. Area animal agencies have prohibited the adoption of cats during the fall season in order to protect the felines from cults, or would-be copycats, no pun intended. Many Christian congregations are starting to realizing the significance of the evangelistic opportunities afforded by countless children and families who come knocking on their doors. An article in the Seattle Times reported that evangelical Christians are now embracing the holiday they once avoided by “stamping” it with religious efforts. Some include passing out tracts with the candy and offering to pray with their costumed...

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