Sunday, September 30, 2012

Defacing Religion Under the First Amendment

In continuation with our classroom discussion on Friday regarding the First Amendment, I’d like to explore the question of whether or not the Government should limit people making statements, videos, etc. which may offend another religion. Obviously, there is much speculation regarding this issue as recently Mark Basseley Youssef, an Egyptian-born Christian who is now a U.S citizen, was jailed. It is important to understand that he was not jailed for creating an anti-Islam film, which enraged many Muslims in the Middle East, but was arrested for lying about his identity (Haaretz).

Many say that it was a disgrace the way he defaced the Islamic religion and the Prophet Muhammad. Others say, he was just expressing his constitutional rights under the First Amendment.  Regardless, the video resulted in violent protests in the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Libya where Google has recently decided to censor the video on YouTube. One “Pakistani cabinet minister has offered a $100,000 bounty to anyone who kills him [Youssef]”(Haaretz).

What makes no sense to me is the hypocrisy of some of these Muslim protestors. Many of these protestors demand “justice”, wanting Youssef to be killed for insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Some of the same Muslim extremists, who reacted violently to the video, have made anti-Semitic statements and openly oppose Judaism as a whole, and the Jewish state of Israel. I am not making categorizations saying that either all Muslims were offended, and/or all Muslims hate Jews but it is known through the Middle-Eastern tensions that currently exist, that there are several leaders of Islamic nations that openly oppose Israel and have previously made anti-Semitic claims. What justifies reacting violently ESPECIALLY because several of these people make hypocritical statements defacing Judaism and Israel? For further readings regarding the controversial anti-Muslim film click here and here. Please comment your thoughts below.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Power, Pollution, and the Internet

I recently read a New York Times article, which addressed the growing issue with U.S companies and total energy consumption. The booming industry with all-online companies are the ones who are running their companies on thousands of square feet of computers and servers. James Glanz discloses that “Google’s data centers consume nearly 300 million watts and Facebook’s about 60 million watts.” Worldwide the number is even scarier among digital warehouses which produce over 30 billion watts of electricity a year, “roughly the equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants.” Not only are these companies using billions of watts of electricity each year to support their companies, but the amount of this energy that goes to waste is staggering. Empirics from The Times show that data centers around the country can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull of the grid. The article explains this because companies “typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand.”
There is also a environmental cost brought by the wasteful usage of electricity by our nation’s most successful companies and enterprises. These companies break several environmental regulations due to their over-usage of diesel powered generators. Amazon in particular was cited with 24 violations, as resported by Virginia’s Department of Enviornmental Quality. The VDEQ slapped Amazon with a fine of $554,476 for “for installing and repeatedly running diesel generators without obtaining standard environmental permits required to operate in Virginia.”

I find it extremely troubling that these “paperless” and “green” companies who function solely on the Worldwide Web are the ones who are producing serious toxins due to the running of their computer generators. The worst of it, is that there is no solvency. Programs are brought up by companies for lower input of electricity, but they will ALWAYS need excessive amounts of electricity to run this footloose industry. After negotiations Amazon only had to pay $261,638 of the fine (New York Times) a mere parking ticket for this multi-billion consuming conglomerate. I hope these companies too can find a way to drastically reduce their carbon footprint. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on reducing environmental harms and what we can do to help even slightly. You would be surprised on how the slightest contributions can make a big difference. For further references to this article, I urge you to read it here

Cited: New York Times

Sunday, September 16, 2012

'Bin Laden Raid' Simulation

In a recent article in the New York Times, a firearms training facility in New Hope, Minnesota is now offering a simulated experience of the Bin Laden raid of May 2011. The facility, Sealed Minds, recently constructed a 10,000 square foot studio to authenticate the experience that Seal Team 6 had in Bin Laden's compound near Abbottabad, Pakistan (Huffington Post). For a video of the simulation, please watch below.
For a cost of $325 (New York Times), and NO training necessary, Sealed Minds with a former Navy seal member leads you through their artificial compound, to hunt down Osama Bin Laden with paintball guns. Although the mission to kill the ex-leader of Al Qaeda was both heroic, and successful, is it right to allow the public to "participate" in one of the most historic Navy Seal operations? Quite frankly, I believe it is disrespectful to the Navy Seals who risked their lives to take out America's most wanted terrorist. While the "fake-Bin Laden" is merely firing paintball ammunition which could do no more damage than a bruise, the idea of terrorist-hunting should be looked at more rationally. Killing terrorists shouldn't be a hobby or sport for adrenaline seeking individuals, but for trained U.S military operatives. Not only do I think that it is disrespectful to the men and women who fight and die for our country, but also promotes an idea of violent vigilantism that serves no business for civilians. Please feel free to jump in and share your thoughts below, or refer to this New York Times article or here for further readings about the 'Bin Laden Raid' at Sealed Mindset firearms studio.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Don't Renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban!

In the past few months in the news, we have seen several mass shooting tragedies causing much speculation and attention for an increase in gun control. I am currently writing this post from my gate at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina as I just had a debate at Wake Forest University addressing this issue. This summer in Aurora, Colorado, we saw a horrific massacre in a local movie theatre where James Eagan Holmes took the lives of 12 innocent people, wounding 58 others. Many experts are calling for the renewal of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004, allowing criminals to legally purchase assault weapons with two military attachments or some of the specific models. What many experts fail to recognize is that the 1994 law includes several loopholes that gun makers and dealers exploited to continue making and selling assault weapons. As a result, many assault weapons remained available. Some gun companies made inconsequential design changes and gave the gun a new name. The new name got the gun off of the prohibited list, and the minor change arguably put it out of reach of the law's "copies or duplicates" language. Also, all that happens under the ban is the stop of production of assault weapons but pre ban models are still legal to buy and sell, including large capacity magazines which hold over 11 rounds of ammunition. Many experts also argue that crime rates decreased with the ban however, in 2005 (a year after the ban expired) the FBI announced that the number of murders nationwide fell by 4%, the first decline since 1999. This trend was consistent post ban. I strongly believe that there is no reason to ban something if it takes away from people's god given rights (under the second amendment) ESPECIALLY if the ban isn't necessary. It can be clearly seen that these mass murders are a trend that don't stop in a world with the ban, considering that criminals can legally get around the law as well as the fact that murder rates declined post ban. It would be interesting to see if any of my readers have anything to contribute regarding the ban or gun control in general. Any submission of ideas or alternatives are greatly welcomed below. I would love to get a good debate going on my blog. If you have any desire to read further about the ban I urge you to read bits and pieces of this study by Christopher Koper from the National Institue of Justice here.

Citations: weapons/assault-weapons-faq

Monday, September 3, 2012

Paul Ryan's Speech of Lies

Just days after the 2012 Republican National Convention, we have heard a lot of criticism from writers and experts nationwide. We heard from several governors, representatives, and even a Hollywood A-lister talking to an empty chair, and of course a speech from vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. It seems that several of Ryan's misleading statements are under heavy scrutiny, as many of the facts are blatantly false. So what is the deal with politicians lying? As if nobody is going to catch false statements that are televised on nationally with over 30 million people watching. That GM plant that Obama failed to save in fact closed before Obama entered office.  For those who did not catch the speech live, refer to here for the list of fallacies that corrupted the truth of Senator Ryan's speech. Although the speech was very well presented as Lisa Mascaro of the LATimes says, "Ryan's high-octane turn energized the crowd – presenting an image of a youthful and passionate policy wonk who wowed convention-goers with his optimistic "we can do this" approach to fixing the nation's economic problems." Despite Ryan's powerful  presentation, it doesn't excuse the fact that the content was not all legitimate.  I invite any of my blog viewers to hop on and share your thoughts about Ryan's speech, or inaccurate campaigns below. For further readings and satirical covers by John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, refer below. As comedian Stephen Colbert explains Ryan's truth-strethching, "'This is the presidential race; and to win a race, sometimes you need to juice.",0,6660505.story

Stephen Colbert and Daily Show covers Ryan's lies
4:40 Colbert video

Another humorous stab at Ryan's speech