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Paris Climate Deal

Yesterday, Saturday, September 12, 2015, many hope will mark the beginning of a great change in the world and leave a mark in histo...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Conformity Among States and Nations

Pictured second from the left, Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, welcomes Syrian refugees and hands out winter coats.

Over the past months, many questions have been raised about Syrian refugees entering other counties after many reports have found that terrorists have entered their target countries disguised as refugees. Such questions and fear that has been raised with them has led to even tighter restrictions on who can enter the US as a "refugee". For example, in addition to U.N. background checks; U.S. background checks; multiple interviews; and a special vetting process for Syrian refugees, congress recently passed a bill that requires every single refugee to enter the U.S. to have the signatures of the Secretary of Homeland Security, FBI Director, and National Intelligence Director. Not only has congress made it nearly impossible for anybody fleeing their home country to find asylum in the U.S., but state governors have also made their beliefs quite public. Many of the state governors have made the promise that they will not allow any refugee into their state, a power they do not have. Donald Trump has also tagged along in this trend stating that he will ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., if he is to be president.

Amid all of these shocking comments and new regulation, our neighbors to the North have something else to say. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refuses to conform to what many other politicians say, "Is the only way to be safe". This past Friday, Trudeau welcomed a plane load of Syrian Refugees into Canada, saying, "You're safe at home now,"while many Americans are running to their local gun stores, Canada is giving these people a home. Trudeau further says, "Tonight they step off this plane as refugees, but they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada," according to the New York Times.

As we have seen also seen this weekend, conformity can do great things, it can bring broken nations together, it can also lead to the first, all nations included, U.N. climate resolution. Yet, at the same time, nonconformity can show the true light of the good-hearted.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lynwood Police Shooting

This morning, at around 11:00 A.M. Pacific time, Lynwood Police shot a supposedly armed black man, outside of a gas station. Protesters already have begun marching and demanding a third party investigation of the incident, as well as a review by the Department of Justice. Nowadays, people are very quick to protest or really make any sort of noise to try and taint the image of the police. Now, the people's anger in not unfounded, police brutality and bias has been proven over and over again, however they now seem to be quick to make judgement. 

The police claimed that the man was armed and was being reckless with his gun in public, even discharging it earlier in the day. For the first time in a while, for a police shooting that has made national news, the police are able back up their claims with video and eyewitness'. A phone call to the police earlier that day said that this same man was firing his weapon reckless in public, and when the police arrived on the scene he was waving it around with many bystanders near him. Yet, many people still came out today waving their signs and screaming through a megaphone, protesting the incident. Seemingly without even looking at the footage, or the provided evidence. While I can understand anger over recent police shootings, I think you should probably look at the evidence before making your claim.

The L.A. Times provide two different video sources of the incident in their article, here.

Paris Climate Deal

Image result for paris climate deal

Yesterday, Saturday, September 12, 2015, many hope will mark the beginning of a great change in the world and leave a mark in history books. As we all should know, yesterday was when over 190 countries, in fact all 196 (although the US State Department only recognises 194) countries agreed to the landmark UN climate deal. In short, the climate deal raises money for developing countries to have access to clean energy; gradually wanes developed countries to more clean energy; and limits the global temperature rise 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels by the year 2020. While deal was surprisingly ambitious in its goals, many still raise concerns.

One of the largest concerns with the deal, just like any other UN resolution, is how are we and other countries going to ensure that everyone else complies.  All of the news and in many interviews officials give a simple answer with little meaning, that the deal is "Legally binding". While this may be true, who is going to oversee a that countries are complying? And more importantly, who is going to enforce the new standards if they don't? No country can sue another country and I don't believe anyone is willing to go to war over this, so there really isn't any way of making sure anybody follows through on their word.

Here is a link to  The Guardian's report of the deal.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Deaths by Malnourishment, or Lack thereof

This Thanksgiving weekend, an estimated 46 million turkeys were consumed by Americans on thursday alone, adding up to about 340 million pounds of turkey being ingested (according to the University of Illinois. With this in mind, I figured I would talk about world heath issues, specifically relating food. Now, when most people (or at least myself) think of global deaths because issues relating to food, they tend to imagine malnourishment and starvation in third world countries. However, a semi-recent study on the issue may reverse this popular belief.

According to the Global Burden of Disease published in The Lancet, overeating and obesity now pose a more significant threat to all populus worldwide, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, then malnourishment and starvation. The study self proclaimed as "the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of a wide array of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors" is critically acclaimed by large health activists, including the WHO. While the numbers of those who have died due to malnourishment are not disputed, the number of deaths that can be directly linked to overeating are; with upper estimates placing the deaths from overeating to malnourishment at 3:1.

Now, for me, personally, these statistics were astonishing. To further fuel this astonishment, the Global Burden of Disease (in the same study, but a different article) also points out while life expectancy steadily increases, so does the the amount of time people spend either sick or injured. 

The GBD also does us the service of visualizing most all health problems affecting the the world, where you can adjust the variables and see the information first hand, the links are here and here.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Effectiveness of Capital Punishment

Every now and again, we hear on the news of another case brought to some superior court on whether or not capital punishment is allowable in a particular circumstance. The courts seem to be very divided and often previous decisions that declared the death penalty, either constitutional or not, are overturned. Since the constitutionality of capital punishment seems to be unknown, a good place to start would be to see how effective it is.

Looking into a few different studies, what was uncovered is astonishing. “88% of the nation’s leading criminologists do not believe the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime,” says a study by professors Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock at the University of Colorado. The study further finds that, “Nearly 78% of those surveyed [criminologists] said that having the death penalty in a state does not lower the murder rate.” While the statistics are shocking, it doesn't really come as surprise if you think about it; how often do you think that criminals are worried they may be killed for their actions? Probably not all that often.

What you choose to make with this information is yours. I believe that just because a punishment isn't an effective deterrent shouldn't mean that it should not be used. However, I do feel that it is important to realize and understand this information before sentencing someone to death.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Morality of Assisted Suicide

Today, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed Senate Bill 128 or the "End of Life Option Act" which allows certain terminally ill patients to have a doctor prescribe them a lethal dose of medication. Currently, capital punishment is being debated as whether or not it is moral, and this is for prisoners who have committed capital acts; yet, some states are passing bills to allow people to end their own lives with the aid of others. So, how can our country be so divided? The part that is in favor of capital punishment generally seems to be against these assisted suicide bills and vise-versa.

Both sides of this argument that claim that they are morally sound. One claims that assisted suicide is justifiable because they make their own decision to end their lives, and that this is not necessarily the case with punishment. The opposition to assisted suicide makes the point that not all diagnostics are correct and could be wrong, other opposition claims that doctors should not have the power to end a patients life as is directly violates the Hippocratic Oath, specifically the clause which states (specifically the clause which states "First do no harm") which almost all doctors must take. But the pro-assisted suicide do bring up a good point, is not not less moral to let a person suffer until their death then to allow a quick, painless one?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jon Stewart's Legacy

In early 2001, Jon Stewart took over as host for Comedy Central's The Daily Show, from Craig Kilborn. At the time the show was not particularly popular, nor did anyone expect it to be, yet Jon was able to make the show one of the most popular late night programs. He was the highest paid late night comedian, before he decided to leave the show. In fact, he is classified as the highest payed news anchor, reportedly making $30 million annually, higher than other news anchor giants such as Matt Lauer, Bill O'Reilly, and Anderson Cooper.

While Stewart was making a comfortable living, he decided to leave the show so that he could spend more time with his family. However, Jon Stewart has been quite the influential character in the world of politics, bringing up stories others would not, and looking deeper into those that left shallow. Jon Stewart's ability and power to undermine politicians, specifically republicans, has left some joking that it is not Obama or other Congressmen that they are most forward to leaving office soon, but Jon Stewart. So, will Trevor Noah, the new Daily Show, host be able to fill such big shoes?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Francis in Cuba

For many decades now, the US and many other countries have separated themselves, by choice, from Cuba. This political distance was caused for a variety of reasons, from an ideological war, to promoting domestic sugar sales, to human rights issues, and many more. While some of these issues have faded away, many still pose as a deterrent between Cuba and the rest of the world mixing.

The US recently reopened official communication with Cuba, seeing that the reasons for intentionally keeping Cuba in the dark are no longer of the best interests. With this decision, of course, there are mixed feelings.

Yesterday, Pope Francis arrived in Cuba to give an outdoor mass today to whomever showed up, including the president, Raul Castro. So, is the Pope suggesting that reopening ties with Cuba is the right thing to do? From an initial glance, the answered seemed to be a certain yes. Many other were also hoping that Francis would talk about political freedom, as well as addressing other current issues. Yet, the Pope was careful not to take any sides in any of his talks today, he carefully danced around the issues everyone wanted to hear him talk about. So while Pope Francis' actions suggest that he wants to help improve Cuba and reconnect them with the world, his words are if he never even visited.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Joe: Consequentialist or Categorical Imperativist

Joe, in Louise Erdrich's novel The Round House, must make many decisions, but none nearly important as the choice to shoot Linden Lark, his mother's attacker. But, as Joe himself did not 'finish off' Linden, so we are left to wonder why Joe didn't do it himself. From a strategic and legal point of view, it makes more sense for Joe to do the entire deed, as to not involve Cappy. Now, we are left with only one option as to why Joe could not pull the trigger, he is morally opposed for some reason. For most instances, moral justification for an action or lack thereof can be split into two main groups: Consequentialism and Categorical Imperativism. Now, we are left to further wonder, which of these does Joe fall under in the circumstance of murder.

The Judicial and Law Enforcement systems have failed joe. Letting his mother's attacker roam free only seems to make Joe more and more frustrated and desperate for justice. Even before Joe shoots Linden, he has to convince himself what he is doing is just, "Murder, for justice maybe. Murder just the same," (280). Either way, wrong or right, Joe cannot bring himself to kill; armed with all the evidence and justification needed, he still can't do it. Joe is a Categorical Imperativist. No matter how much convincing he does or proof he gathers, he still finds murder immorally wrong; no matter what good it might bring about.

So, if Joe finds murder immorally wrong, as proof from his actions, is there an instance in which he he thinks it's okay? Because he certainly feels it is the correct response, just not the moral one. Does Joe feel that even after he knows Linden is guilty that a fair procedure is needed to justify morality? Or maybe, does Joe think that even rapists and murders still have some fundamental right?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Migrant vs Refugee

More and more presidential hopefuls continue to place their bids, in an already overcrowded field, one Donald Trump has managed to make the deciding issue that of Immigration Reform. Both candidates and voters seemed to be divided on the subject. However, the U.S. isn't the only one that is having to deal with a large number of immigrants coming in from southern borders. Currently Europe has been having a somewhat similar discussion to what the U.S. is having: how to adequately respond and deal with immigrants. The only difference it seems is that in Europe, the numbers are swelling and don't seem to be going away anytime soon.

According to UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, "It is estimated that over 1 million Syrian refugees were being hosted in Turkey as of August 2014... In Turkey alone, over 81,000 people from Iraq had arrived by the end of August 2014, as well as some 10,000 asylum-seekers from other countries."   While no one is questioning the severity and magnitude of the crisis, news organizations and media reporters seem to be unsure what to call these people. For many months now, these news organizations have been wavering back and forth between the terms "migrant" and "refugee", so which is correct? Are they both exceptable? From a glance, both seem to be interchangeable, they both basically mean some populous or even a single person is moving from point a to point be, right? Wrong. Each term carries its own, and nearly opposite, qualifier. An migrant has the ability to plan ahead, prepare themselves, and can move about freely. A refugee, is forced to leave their country.

Option vs forced. That is the difference between migrant and refugee. While I, personally, do not care much for the politically correct use of semantics, I do feel it is important to recognize that these people fleeing crises and in accordance, use the term refugee. To not show an understanding that these people do not have a choice is disrespectful, by using the correct term, people can more adequately covey the true message.