Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wikileaks and freedom of press (Post #21)

Last week the non-profit media organization, Wikileaks, published the largest media leak of classified documents in military history. Over 390,000 documents were released to the public outlining many of the events from the Iraq war. Some of the highlights of the information include:
  • Over 60% of deaths in the Iraq war are civilians
  • An average of 31 civilians die each day of the war
  • Use of military contractors added to the chaos in Iraq
  • Neighboring Iran has been sending money into Iraq to support the insurgents
Here is the introduction of the documents from the NY Times.

As media changes so do our politics. Do citizens have a right to these documents? Is it legal for classified documents like this be published? Since these documents show how bad things have been in Iraq will they lower the morale of troops or our citizens? How do these documents make you feel about our two presidents who have implemented policy in Iraq? Will internet sites like wikileaks make traditional media obsolete? Do these documents make a case for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

TV Attack Ads (Post #20)

The American political scene has been littered with attack-style campaigning ever since the earliest days of our Republic. For example, Thomas Jefferson was attacked for allegedly being an atheist in his 1800 presidential run. In modern-day politics the television has saturated us with copious amounts of advertising. Most of the ads are attacks on opponents. Why do you think there is so much emphasis on attack ads? Can someone win by running a "clean" campaign? Why is there so much emphasis on a candidate's image? Is there something about American culture that make us focus an an individual instead of the issues?

Watch the below ads for California Senate and tell me which one appeals to you more and why.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where's Osama? (Post #19)

As the war continues in Afghanistan nearly 10 years after the tragedy of 911 many Americans still ask where is Osama? We know that he and his terrorist organization Al Qaida, planned, trained for, and eventually carried the attacks of 911 with the Taliban government's support in Afghanistan. We had him cornered in the caves of Tora Bora when he escaped never to be seen again with the exception of the rare video or audio statement declaring war on the infidel. Where is he, why can't we find him? What's going on that the most powerful military in the world can't capture the most wanted man ever? Maybe it's just not as simple as it sounds a recent article (check the videos with the article) discusses the difficulty of this mission for the CIA. He could be protected by another government, friend or enemy. What do you think? Is Osama Bin Laden even important to us anymore? Should America make an effort to catch Osama? Is it worth it? Would it help bring peace in the war on terror? Please remember to be respectful to other bloggers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Proposition 21, Tough choices for park funding (Post #18)

Today California's 278 state parks are suffering from underfunding (see here) which has led to problems ranging from collapsing infrastructure to rising crime rates due to lack of rangers. Just last year the governor attempted to close state parks in California in an attempt to make up budget short falls, Californian's would not have it and parks remained open. Backers of Prop. 21 would like to add an extra $18 to every Californian's annual car registration fees. This would raise $500 million annually to support the parks, "the places that make California California." In return for the $18 Californians would have free day use at any state park. Several tax payer organizations oppose this proposition as "ballot box taxation," and are concerned about where the money will really go. How do you feel about this issue are people ready to pay an extra $18 per year? Does everyone use the the state park system? Is this a good way to generate funds? Are the state parks worth having? As always, please be respectful of other's opinions when blogging.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A different case of free speech - Snyder v. Phelps (Post #17)

A Kansas Church and its pastor (Phelps) have made news over the last few years and the case has now moved to the supreme court. The video below first appeared on 20/20 on ABC network. This story is a little old now as a federal appeals court has reversed the decision to award money to Snyder in damages. That court has ruled Snyder must now pay Phelps' legal fees. He has now appealed and we await the decision of the supreme court to determine whether Phelps is legally allowed to continue his church's activities.
Caution the language used may easily be considered offensive.  If you'd rather not take the chance of being offended do not watch and read this link instead with the same story.
As you discuss the case in your comments. Don't focus on the message too much.  Remember the Snyder family's son is not accused of being gay.  All soldier funerals are being targeted by the group.
Keep your comments respectful, don't try to overextend your own 1st amendment rights, remember you are students and the teachers have control over this forum.
Do they have a right of free speech in this case? Does the 1st amendment apply to their actions? If this qualifies as hate speech, does it inspire riots or violence?

Does the 1st amendment it allow them to freely exercise(practice) reglious beliefs in this matter?  Why do you think so?

Do their actions take away the rights of others? In this case, is it an invasion of privacy of the Snyder family?

Are cemeteries public places where protest is allowed?  Should they be?  Whose job would it be to make a law regarding that?

If they both have rights, whose outweigh the others and what should the Supreme Court decide?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are Video Games protected by the 1st Amendment? (Post #16)

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board currently rates video games, and many retailers restrict the sales of games marked "Mature" or "Adults Only," but those restrictions are voluntary. California passed a law in 2005 banning the sale of any game to minors deemed "excessively violent" by the attorney general.  Violent games are defined as those that include "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,"; if the game lacks "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."  This law was struck down by a U.S. District Court and has been appealled to the Supreme Court

The music and movie industries also have voluntary ratings that let consumers know whether their products are suitable for minors.  There is no actual law or punishment on these, however.  Consider the following questions and submit by Wednesday morning at 8:00 AM.

Should a state be allowed to ban minors from "violent" video games?

What differences are there, if any, between a video game and a book or a movie?

Based on the definition above, do video games have "serious artistic value"?

Are you comfortable leaving the decision of what to ban up to the Attorney General?

Will this prevent minors from buying these games?

Under what circumstances, if any, would you say a game should be banned?

What consequences could there be for other forms of "entertainment" if the Supreme Court rules in favor of California?