Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt, Who Do We Support? (Post #7)

Egyptians have taken to the streets in protest of a despotic, corrupt, and U.S. supported government. After days of protest and a couple of "flinches" by President Mubarak regarding a new cabinet and the constitution Egyptians continue to protest with a million man march planned for Tuesday. America is in a precarious position here, do we support Mubarak and his repressive regime or do we support a move towards free elections and democracy? Even if it means a rise to power for the Muslim Brotherhood the main opposition to the current government? Is this a repeat performance of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that saw America's good friend the Shah Reza Pahlavi lose power to the Ayatollah Khomeini and fundamentalist Islam? What about America's best ally in the area Israel and how they feel about the possibility of a pro-Palestinian Egypt next door and another Six Day War with the chance of a different outcome? If you were the president how would you handle this difficult foreign policy issue?Would you support Mubarak or a new democratic government and the uncertainty of free elections? Please respect the opinions of other bloggers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union: Jobs and America (Post #6)

As your years of mandatory schooling soon comes to an end, you will all be faced with the task of finding work and surviving in the economy.  Some of you will attend college first, but that will only delay the inevitable.  Your future doesn't just depend on what you do, but it depends on others as we are all interdependent in the economy.  Watch the video of the President's speech (about 4 minutes), listen carefully, and address the questions below. 

Do you agree with his view on American jobs past, present, and future? Are you as optimistic for the country as he is (short term, long term)? Will we continue to lead or be passed up by nations like China?
Are you optimistic for yourself? Has your education prepared you for the world? Will it when you have finished? What will your role in the economy be?
What will it take on the part of citizens (not the government) to improve America's economic future? What can the government to do help?

Post your responses by Friday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Organ Transplants and Scarcity (Post #5)

Around the world, governments and citizens make decisions on how to best use scarce resources.  In the case of organs, science has made great strides with surgeries that allow one person's organ to be put into another body, thereby extending the life of someone who otherwise faces death.  38% of American adults are identified as organ donors on our driver's licenses.  A deceased person's family have the option to choose to donate at the time of death, as well.  People can also voluntarily give up their own organs while they are alive. .For example, we have two kidneys and can survive with one, bone marrow, and blood and plasma can be given.
The problem is that not nearly enough of these organs are available and people in need are placed on lists during which time many die while waiting their turn--having never received their donor organs because of the shortage of organs.  The only incentive is the rewarding feeling of helping someone else and obviously that isn't enough to solve the problem.  A blackmarket exists in some countries where those with enough money can find an organ while those without cannot.
In the nation of Israel, they have a long history of problems getting organs.  "Most Jews are under the mistaken impression that traditional Jewish law requires a body be buried whole at all costs," according to Robby Berman.  So in 2008, a law was passed in Israel to give donor card carriers a legal right to priority treatment if they should require an organ transplant.  Also, families who agree to donate the organs of deceased loved ones may accept money to "memorialize" the deceased.  These decisions to donate must be made by the individual while they are alive in order to qualify.  So, Israel has become the 1st nation in the world to legally do both of these things.

Read either linked article underlined blue above and consider the following questions.
Are you an organ donor or do you plan to be one?
What could be done to help encourage your decision or the decisions of others to become one?
If you needed a kidney or other organ, how far would you go to get one?
What should the United States do to increase the quantity of organs available for transplant?
Consider and explain both the pros(benefits) and cons(costs) of the idea you present.

Please post your comments by Wednesday Jan. 26

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Anchor Babies Aweigh (Post #4)

The 14th Amendment (1868) guarantees citizenship rights to people born in the United States. Here is the relevant part of the 14th amendment:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

This amendment was passed after the Civil War in light of the South's tendency to deprive slaves basic citizenship rights. For over 100 years since the passage of this amendment babies born in the United States have been granted US citizenship.

More recently, however, there are calls from some politicians to change what they call the "anchor baby" loophole. Proponents of this change argue that a large number of illegal immigrants take advantage of the 14th amendment by sneaking over the border, giving birth, and then reaping the benefits of citizenship for their family because the child born here is a US citizen.

Arguments in favor of birthright citizenship.
Arguments in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

Here is your task:
  • Does the original intent to the authors of the 14th amendment matter? Did they really think their amendment would apply to so-called "anchor babies?" Does it?
  • Should the 14th amendment be amended to prevent babies of illegal immigrants from being granted citizenship rights by birth?
  • Should citizenship be based on where you are born or what the citizenship rights of your parents are?
Definition of jus soli.
Definition of jus sanguinis

Please use good judgment in your responses.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Constitution Now and Then (#3)

As its first order of business in the 112th Congress, the new Republican leadership decided to read the US Constitution out loud. The implication of this reading is that the previous Congress (which was controlled by Democrats) had lost touch with the true meaning of the US Constitution.

This issue brings up a wider discussion of the term "original intent." Much debate has taken place over what our Founding fathers intended for the Constitution and whether their original intent is being followed by our current politicians. But did all our Founding Fathers agree on the original intent of the Constitution and if so can we accurately decipher what that intent was over 225 years later? Additionally, is their original intent still relevant to us in 2011?

With that said, what was the original intent of the founding fathers regarding the 2nd amendment and our right to bear arms? Here is what the 2nd amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Does this amendment refer to our personal rights to bear arms or is this a right from a bygone era where states were responsible for raising an army and protecting its people with militias.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court has not made many rulings on the 2nd amendment over the course of our history but most significantly, it did rule in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that individuals have a personal right to bear arms in federal enclaves (Washington D.C.) outside the jurisdiction of a militia. The Court will soon rule on whether individuals have that right in the 50 states.

But what would our Founding Fathers say about the status of guns in society in 2011? Would they hold true to their 18th century beliefs or would they see a need to adjust to the needs of our current society? Do we need to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government in the same way our ancestors did in the 1700s?

Current Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer argues that our Founding Fathers would support gun control.

Original intent: Federalist #29 on the militia.

Here is your task:
  • Can you accurately determine what the original intent of the Founders was on the issue of gun rights? Be sure to cite your information.
  • Do you believe the Founding Fathers would approach the issue of gun rights the same way today? Explain and defend yourself.
As usual stay civil and within the bounds of good taste, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Arizona.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who's to Blame? (Post #2)

On Saturday in Tucson Arizona twenty two year old Jared Loughner committed the heinous crime of mass murder killing six and wounding fourteen including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. This tragic event was immediately blamed on the vicious and vitriolic nature of political discourse in America today. Both sides of our unbiased news media found a way to put the cause of this horrible event on each other. Did the media incite violence in this terrible event? Or, could it actually have been a sad act committed by a disillusioned psychopath unaffected by politics right or left? What do you think? Has political discourse in this country gone too far? Is there any connection to freedom of speech here? Please be respectful of other bloggers opinions. (More here, please follow the links)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What does it all mean? (post #1)

Recently the United States has experienced several fish and bird mass die offs. This has been a much discussed issue in the media. Even Jim Carey joked that the world was ending in reference to what has happened in Arkansas and Louisiana as well as other places around the country and world on Saturday Night Live. Many theories have been offered to explain these animal deaths ranging from secret weapons tests to nature to armageddon. What do you think? Please be respectful of others opinions while blogging