Archive for September, 2012

September 5, 2012

Bill Nye is a science guy who knows what he is talking about

By Krista Brooks

Published Sunday, September 2, 2012 – The Daily 49er

http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/bill-nye-is-a-science-guy-who-knows-what-he-is-talking-about-1.2755638#.UEaTifXueSo

We all remember the show and song, right?

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” would perform experiments and teach science to us kids while we unknowingly learned.

However, Nye is not just a children’s television star from the nineties. He is actually a renowned scientist as well.

Aside from his appearances on television, Nye is a 56-year-old scientist and mechanical engineer. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and an honorary doctorate degree from Willamette University. Nye is not just the corny, bow-tie wearing, television character with a catchy theme song. Nye actually knows what he is talking about.

Recently, Nye posted a YouTube video encouraging teachers and professors to educate evolution as a scientific proof rather than an alternative to creationism. Nye said our taxes should be spent on learning facts that can be supported by science instead of religious theories.

Separation of church and state does not stop at our civil rights and laws. Education should be based on knowledge and fact and not the opinions of teachers or their religious affiliations.

Nye supports his bold statements by explaining that radioactive dating proves that our earth has been around for billions of years, much longer than the Bible teaches.

Besides creationism, Nye has posted other videos about his scientific views, such as advocating clean energy climate change legislation.

The scientist’s words reach a large audience with almost 3.5 million views and counting on his creationism video. The generation Nye entertained as children is now older and could be considered more open-minded.

Of course, unless his opinion infringes on one’s personal beliefs.

Many reacted to the video poorly, accusing Nye of bashing religion and advising him to stick to his own area of expertise. The scientist defended himself, saying the focus was on use of taxpayer money, not outside beliefs.

Recently, an owner of a fast-food chain publicly stated his opinion on “valid marriage.” Well, outside of his expertise, the company was rewarded with an annual appreciation day.

But when a highly-acclaimed scientist expressed his views on his area of expertise, he was criticized for not obeying his boundaries.

Sure, the two-minute video may seem condescending and very biased, but at least Nye explains his point and doesn’t leave questions up in the air.

Nye claims the United States is the most technologically advanced country but says its citizens are too stuck in their beliefs against evolution to make any kind of progress.

The scientist made a video about his views and beliefs based on scientific evidence and fact. His opinion on religion was never mentioned and he carefully stuck to the subject of creationism.

Religious viewers should not persecute Nye for not agreeing with how the world came about but distinguish that his message is true: tax dollars should go to education based on science, not religious beliefs.

September 5, 2012

Our View: Carbon emissions taxes will sink CSU budget

Se below

By Krista Brooks

Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012The Daily 49er

http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/our-view-carbon-emissions-taxes-will-sink-csu-budget-1.2753845#.UEaoufXueSo

Effective Jan. 1, 2013, a cap and trade program will be implemented, affecting the Cal State University and University of California, and forcing the systems to pay the price for high levels of carbon emissions.

These facilities will be charged a fee for emitting greenhouse gases.

Either go green or pay the green. Cap and trade is a solution projected to reduce California’s carbon emissions by a substantial amount.

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, also known as Assembly Bill 32, mandates the state reduce the level of carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

University of California, Los Angeles is projected to pay the most — up to $8.4 million.

The rate of carbon credits is predicted to range from $10 to $40 each.

The resulting fee for both university systems could be as much as $28 million a year.

But this can, and will rise.

The legislation, once in place, will have no limit on how much tax credits would cost at a given time.

The choice to reduce carbon emissions is essentially optional.

Businesses with the money can continue to emit as much greenhouse gases as they want, as long as they buy the appropriate amount of credits. Only when a business can’t afford to will it be forced to change its behavior. Businesses without the extra cash or capability of lowering emissions will have to face the consequences.

We can only hope the fee is too much for big business to ignore. Small businesses have no choice.

As for us students in the CSU and UC systems, we will pay the price. The $28 million in potential fees is just another expense to tack onto our budget and our campuses will be affected regardless of how far our efforts go to lower emissions.

Long Beach has taken several steps to lower our carbon footprint already. Not only is the city becoming more and more bike-friendly, it has taken action in improving public transportation.

Many buses are now hybrids and routes have been extended to accommodate more public transporters.

All plastic bags have been banned from grocery stores in Long Beach and paper bag alternatives cost 10 cents each. This encourages shoppers to use reusable bags instead of disposable bags.

Cal State Long Beach has incorporated water fountains on campus specifically to refill water bottles and canteens, which lowers the amount of plastic bottles.

These improvements were made by the city of Long Beach and CSULB, before the threat of a fee.

The steps taken towards a greener city should be rewarded rather than taxed. With dismal state support, this bill will continue to suck us dry of every last penny.

September 5, 2012

Our View: All-campus shuttle routes are an inconvenience

Walter Pyramid at the Cal State Long Beach cam...

By Krista Brooks

Published September 2, 2012The Daily 49er

http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/our-view-all-campus-shuttle-routes-are-an-inconvenience-1.2755639#.UEY7q_XueSo

Our campus in one of the largest in the Cal State University system. This is not just by student population but by square footage as well.

The walk from the engineering department to the University Library is quite the journey on foot, but students will have to go the extra distance due to a change to our campus shuttle system.

The east campus and west campus shuttle routes no longer run through campus.

Even if you did not utilize these shuttle routes in the past, the pathways to class have already become noticeably congested this year.

With the change of shuttle routes, the five shuttles — two shuttles serving Beachside College and three all-campus trippers — now head in one direction.

The shuttles no longer provide a direct route from Brotman Hall up the hill to the Liberal Arts buildings or the library.

One shuttle was also eliminated to save money.

We understand — budget cuts, right?

This semester, our tuition increased but our student transportation efficiency decreased.

The east and west shuttles provided a quality service for anyone visiting the campus. This included professors, faculty, students and guests.

They were more direct routes that took less time than the all-campus routes, which are heavily congested, and helped get us where we needed to be on time.

Also, by canceling a full shuttle entirely, Cal State Long Beach has doomed many who rely on the shuttles during peak hours. It’s possible that now there won’t be enough shuttles to accommodate the amount of students. There are 1,500 more of us this year.

Those relying on the shuttles must now pray one of them doesn’t break down. Students have told us that some shuttles already have.

Otherwise, wait times to squeeze uncomfortably onto a shuttle will go through the roof.

Can you imagine the mad dash for the shuttle door when that already filled all-campus tripper makes it to your stop?

With the current heat and humidity we have in Long Beach, nothing can be closer to hell than cramming into a lightly air-conditioned box next to the sweaty bodies of fellow students or, even worse, professors.

The exclusive all-campus shuttle service can only lead to an extension of dreaded small talk that will probably consist mostly of “What happened to the convenient east and west shuttles?”

CSULB officials say the new shuttles are safer because the shuttle will always drop off passengers on the right side of the street. People will no longer have to cross the “treacherous” Beach Drive in order to get to where they are going.

It’s “safer” because, like children, we college students should not be crossing streets unless we are holding hands.

One thing CSULB has done right regarding our shuttle system is providing a website for students that shows how long it will be until the next shuttle arrives.

Students can know the exact time their lumbering crammed shuttle will finally get to the stop. This is imperative, because we suspect that when they look at the shuttle just coming around the corner, it will already be full.

September 5, 2012

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day can be celebrated in different ways

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday, August 1, 2012The Daily 49er

http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/chick-fil-a-appreciation-day-can-be-celebrated-in-different-ways-1.2749115#.UEY6q_XueSo

Yesterday was deemed “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” by Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee.

Supporters of this fast-food chain filled the restaurants and bought its famous chicken sandwiches to support Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.

A few weeks ago, Cathy told a reporter and a radio station that he does not support same-sex marriage.

“I believe in God’s definition of marriage,” said Cathy. Chick-fil-A has been a Christian-religion based food company from the beginning. The restaurant is never open on Sundays for church.

Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion just as everyone else.

Freedom of speech is given to all citizens, but is it necessary for him to speak against a targeted group?

Once made public, Cathy and his company received a lot of flack from customers and potential buyers.

Expansion of the chain was cancelled in many cities, as well as blocked from certain cities.

Many anti-gay and other religious groups saw this and attacked the non-supporters of Chick-fil-A.

Groups began to picket the fast-food chain and an uproar from both positions emerged.

The media and support groups have made the ordeal very black and white.

You either support Chick-fil-A and discourage gay rights, or you support gay rights and discourage the chicken.

Huckabee supported Dan Cathy and his position and created a day to join together, August 1.

This day of appreciation could be looked at in many ways. It can be a day to appreciate the food and service provided by the fast-food chain.

The day can also be viewed as a day to boycott the restaurant in support of gay marriage.

Or it could be viewed as a day to buy some chicken to show your support against marriage equality for homosexuals.

The issue of free speech also comes up in this case as well as whether or not Cathy was right in sticking with what he said.

I believe he was, and he has the right to support any view he agrees with, but rallying others together to deny an opportunity rather than supporting a cause is spreading hate. Being a religious company, Cathy should have advertised and preached to “love your neighbor as yourself” or “respect your mother and father” and other Biblical references that supports his religion.

Advertising to promote limiting humans of equal rights was not a smart move for a big-time CEO like himself.

He has since apologized and stated that he will leave political and social matters out of Chick-fil-A.

September 5, 2012

Olympic medalists should not be taxed on winning incentives

English: President George W. Bush poses for a ...

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday August 15, 2012 – The Daily 49er

The summer season is winding down and the U.S. Olympians will now travel back home after two weeks of competition in London.

The Summer Olympics were successful from an American point of view, with their several medals coming back to the States.

These extraordinary athletes can finally rest easy, knowing that their hard work and determination was worth it.

Until they have to pay the piper.

The athletes will be welcomed home by their American fans and family, but at the same time, face a tax on the accolades they acquired.

American medalists from the Olympics will return decorated in gold, silver and bronze, but they will have to pay for their prizes individually.

Each medal will be awarded an honorarium from the U.S. Olympic Committee based on the level of honor.

The amounts are $25,000 for each gold medal, $15,000 for each silver medal and $10,000 for every bronze.

These prizes for medalists are an incentive to strive for the best, and the best that the USA can be, but does taxing the athletes for winning seem fair?

Both presidential candidates have embraced a measure in Congress to diminish this tax, and allow the Olympians to keep their well-earned prize money.

Rep. Aaron Schock and Sen. Marco Rubio created the Olympic Tax Elimination act to exempt the winners from paying the taxes on their winnings.

This would only exempt the prize winnings from taxes, not the athletes’ endorsement earnings or salaries.

According to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, a gold medalist will pay up to $8,986 of the honorarium to the IRS, when the cash value of the gold in the medals is worth much less.

There is only about 1 percent gold in these flashy medals, composed mostly of silver.

Based on the metal weight, the gold medals are worth about $655, the silver medals are worth about $335, and the bronze medals are less than $5 each. After the taxes and prizes, Olympians still benefit from the training and hard work that went into the games.

Many are supported by sponsors to pay their way, as well as endorsements from companies and supporters.

In my opinion, these American Olympians who travel all over the world for four years waiting for their chance to shine, should be taxed less than NBA players and other American athletes.

Heroes in war aren’t taxed for their Purple Hearts and war medals; they are honored and glorified.

Not that Olympians put their lives on the line like war heroes, but they still commit their lives to representing their nation.

Taxes for the lottery and other winnings should be viewed differently under tax provisions.

These Olympic medalists should come home decorated in medals and welcomed with support and love — not a huge tax for their accomplishments.

September 4, 2012

Our View: Military funerals should be free of protests

Westboro

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday August 8, 2012 – The Daily 49er

http://www.daily49er.com/opinion/our-view-military-funerals-should-be-free-of-protests-1.2749352#.UEaTo_XueSo

Family, friends and survivors of military veterans will be granted some peace and quiet from the rambunctious individuals picketing at public funerals, thanks to a new law Congress has passed.

The Westboro Baptist Church’s persistence to protest at military funerals has led to Congress passing a new veteran’s bill, restricting protestors from coming within 300 feet of a military funeral, two hours before and after a service.

President Obama signed “The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012” bill this past week.

Not obeying the rules of this bill can lead to substantial fines, or deserved jail time.

The military funerals cannot be private, because they are set in military cemeteries, or in other words, public property.

Funerals, regardless of military standing or not, should be a sacred ceremony and give families and friends a chance to mourn the loss of a loved one.

Westboro Baptist Church protestors say soldiers are dying because of America’s lenient view on homosexuality. The casualties in the war against terror aren’t from our enemies, they are results of God’s wrath, condemning the county for allowing homosexuals to exist, the church claims.

The First Amendment protects the congregation’s right to hold its own view, but sometimes laws need to be created to protect the most vulnerable, the families and the next of kin, while they grieve.

Even with the backlash the church has received for their actions, members from the Westboro Baptist Church plan to continue picketing as they did before, but within the law. They will be there two hours before and after funeral services and will stand approximately 301 feet away.

Protest can be a force of change, but one needs to ask what the is church gaining from this?

The rallying and protesting will not affect the life of the passed military soldier. The Westboro Baptist Church protests have the ability to garner attention, but only because they occur during a most inappropriate time.

While freedom of speech is a valuable right we hold, it always produces a gray area.

Where does heckling the deceased fall under?

The Westboro Baptist Church takes advantage of free speech in way almost no one appreciates.

Recently, there have been groups taking action against the protestors. The counter-protests have been successful, but haven’t put an end to the group’s persistent rallying cries.

Texas A&M University created a “human wall” with thousands of people in maroon shirts blocking the Westboro Baptist Church’s protestors.

This can be considered a small victory against an evil force that is abusing their right to free speech. We can only hope there will be more victories in the future.

September 4, 2012

Legalizing marijuana in Colorado will not increase drug’s usage

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 –The Daily 49er

 

At an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, a panel of experts predicted that legalizing marijuana in one state of the U.S. will lower the price of the product in all other states, therefore encouraging more people to be attracted to the drug.

Author Jonathon Caulkins, who co-wrote “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know” warned that the effects would be enormous and the price decline could be up to one quarter less of the current price in New York.

Caulkins said this price drop would make marijuana less risky to produce and sell, which would encourage more to smoke marijuana.

Oregon, Colorado and Washington will vote this November on a ballot initiative that would allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older.

Since Colorado has been regulating medical marijuana, the price of the drug has decreased. The percentage of voters in favor of legalizing the drug in this state has not increased accordingly.

Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, supports Amendment 64, which licenses marijuana cultivation facilities to provide marijuana only to licensed retail stores and product manufacturers. It is illegal to transport marijuana out of Colorado right now, and it will remain just as illegal to do so if Amendment 64 is adopted by the voters.
Tvert disagrees with Caulkins’ opinion that legalization in one state will lower the drug cost across the country. Tvert stands behind keeping the prices high to limit the usage.

“Marijuana is currently universally available, and it will remain that way regardless of whether Amendment 64 is adopted,” said Tvert. “The question is whether we would prefer marijuana be strictly controlled and sold by licensed businesses in a tightly regulated market, or whether we want to continue with the current system in which it is strictly uncontrolled and sold by criminal enterprises in the underground market.”

In Caulkin’s prediction of the prices lowering, I don’t believe more and more non-smokers are going to be turned on to the idea. Most reasons for people not participating in the drug are legal, moral, health and productivity issues. Those who are against engaging in the drug most likely won’t be ecstatic to hear that the prices have dropped, considering that he or she probably didn’t know the former prices.

The decision to legalize marijuana in Colorado should not directly affect other states in this business. The price drop may lower the criminal side to marijuana, which would be beneficial to the business.

If the price drop does encourage a significant increase in the number of marijuana users, it would be worth getting rid of the violence and crime associated with the drug.

September 4, 2012

New career test will help young students find what they excel in

By Krista Brooks

Published Wedneday July 11, 2012 –The Daily 49er

Last week, the organization behind the ACT college entrance exam announced the release of a new career test, available in 2014.

This test, like previous career tests, will assess strengths and weaknesses of students in certain subjects and their overall progress.

The precedent in this form of standardized testing begins in kindergarten and continues until the end of high school.

“The test is a next generation assessment system that tracks students’ career interests, academic performance, and progress towards goals,” Jon Erickson, president of the education division, said in a press release. “The goal is to identify and address gaps in skills needed for college and the workforce.”

The test combines standard testing with projects guided by teachers to estimate a digital score.

The project will cost millions of dollars, but will be easy to access and easy to afford for teachers and schools.

Controversy rises on whether or not career options should be questioned so early in a child’s a life.

Should a kindergarten student be troubled with a job title prematurely?

Many find their true passion later in life. Will these test results rush a child’s educational life?

The tests will be implemented in classrooms in 2014, but schools will not be forced to use this new tool.

Within different states and regions, the test can be customized to include state-specific benchmarks and other measures to meet specific needs.

President Erickson predicts that schools will choose to utilize and take advantage of the new testing, but many review articles read otherwise.

A new form of testing could switch up the norm from the standardized “fill-in-the-bubble” at the end of the year during STAR testing, which begins early in grade school as well.

Adding this career and progress test can help track the changes and fluctuation in a student’s grades and capabilities as he or she advances through grade school.

The career test should be ever-changing along with a 5-year-old child’s personality and behavior.

The test results can be a reflection of students’ progress and influence by teachers.

Also, when patterns start to form and a reoccurring result comes from the test, the student can focus more energy on his or her best subject and excel.

However, students and teachers should have confidentiality with these results and utilize them as they please.

The tests should remain as progress checks until the students are older, such as in junior high school. They should not be tunneled to learn the one subject he or she excels in.

The tests would help show where and when students exceed limitation and how certain teachers and grades influenced their personalities and levels of intelligence.

The career tests would be very early in a child’s life, but it would not determine the rest of the student’s life. It would just be a progress report to be utilized however the student wishes.

The test would be beneficial for parents, teachers and even students when he or she grows up and starts preparing to apply for colleges.

September 4, 2012

More states should allow children to carry sunscreen at school

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday, June 27, 2012 – The Daily 49er

In Tacoma, Wash., a mother of two found her daughters badly burnt after school, and requested sunscreen be made available to them during hot sunny days.

Her request was denied.

In 49 of the 50 states in the U.S., it is forbidden for children to apply or carry sunscreen with them to class. California is the only state that allows SPF lotion at school.

Yes, even students in Hawaii have to leave their sun block at home, unless they have a note from their doctor.

Sunscreen is recommended by doctors, teachers and parents to provide much-needed protection from the sun. It’s purchased in the impulse-aisle in grocery store next to gum and lip balm.

Without sunscreen, we are susceptible to harmful rays from the sun, that can lead to very serious skin cancers and more.

The mother blogged about her pale-white children being terribly burnt on a day that began with rain.

In no way could she have anticipated a sunny day.

Dan Voelpel, Tacoma school district spokesman told ABC news, “Since so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause an allergic reaction in some children, we really have to monitor that.”

In this defense, Washington school district’s focus more on the select students with allergies. Meanwhile, skin cancer can affect anyone.

The most critical time to seek protection from the sun is before the age of 18. This is the time when 23 percent of the skin damage is caused to one’s body. Every decade adds another 10 percent of skin damage after age 18.

Sun block is not a prescribed medication. It is purchased over-the-counter.

With the recent scares of melanoma, the most critical form of skin cancer, schools should focus on how to protect children from the sun’s harmful rays.

The law forbidding any students to carry or apply sun block at school in any state is ridiculous. It’s dangerous and I am glad to say we live in the one state that does not follow such poppycock. Living in a place where it reaches temperatures of 115 degrees, it seems unreal to live without it. Wear your sunscreen everybody, protect that skin this summer!

September 4, 2012

Claiming antidepressants as a reason for wrongdoing is not a worthy plea

By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday, June 20, 2012 – The Daily 49er

An ex-cop was charged with two counts of rape, assault and armed kidnapping, to which he blamed his medication for making him “unconscious.”

The former Westminster police detective, Anthony Nicholas Orban, claimed that his Zoloft antidepressant caused him to black out and was not aware of his actions.

Orban’s defense attorney, James Blatt, defended the seven charges further by explaining his client’s prescription change.

Orban had stopped taking the medication for a period of time, and then resumed taking it at full dose, which could have caused his zombie behavior and possibly psychotic break.

Orban’s victim reported he had threatened her with a gun to her mouth after unloading a round of his semi-automatic service pistol before her eyes.

He threatened to kill her if she had cried and to take her to the desert for more.

These are not acts of zombies.

These are acts of a drunk man.

Witnesses admitted to seeing Orban drink that night, and that he was looking to get laid.

His case has some substance to it, because the Zoloft prescription could have influenced lower inhibitions and motor skills—when mixed with large amounts of alcohol.

Most medications and prescriptions have warning labels to not mix with alcohol.

Even if the antidepressant was a factor in this man’s “black out,” the alcohol in his system is clearly the culprit.

The court denied his “Zoloft defense,” and the jury of eight women and four men found Orban guilty of multiple counts—rape, forced oral copulation, sexual penetration with a foreign object, making a criminal threat and a sentence enhancement of using a firearm in commission of a kidnapping.

Orban is a veteran of the Iraq war.

With the recent buzz of the “zombie” that attacked and ate another man’s face, this is another fail to add to the mess.

The man who was reported to be high on bath salts, contaminated LSD or other substances was an animal in his own way.

That man was tazered and shot repeatedly before being killed. Orban was distracted by a call on his cellphone when his victim ran free.

Zombies can’t work cellphones.

This man’s defense to blame an antidepressant was not extreme; commercials and advertisements warn against several severe side-effects, except becoming a zombie and raping young women.

Here are the factors that make this case, as the judge claimed, “baloney.”

A Zoloft warning label warning not to mix with alcohol, the common knowledge of becoming less thoughtful with alcohol consumption and the police background of Orban should grant him an insanity plea.

Orban will face a sanity hearing before sentencing.

Next time, think of something else wild. “Zombie” is getting old, when the apocalypse happens, you’ll know.

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