Monday, August 31, 2009

Lead Poisoning Stokes Tensions in Chinese Town

Over the summer, one article that interested me was "Lead Poisoning Stokes Tensions in Chinese Town." I read the article on yahoo news and learned that the author focused a lot on how the event occurred and what small environmental issues led to such a big tragedy, killing many families. Then I compared this same article to The New York Times. This article focused more on the injuries and hardships people faced. It gave a clear picture of how the people of China must have gone through, knowing that so many other natural disasters have occurred also. By looking at both perspectives, I feel like yahoo news gave me more of an overview, while The New York Times gave me a very vivid image of the event, and how the entire community reacted.

Military ouster of Honduras leader condemned

 During the summer, the President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya was forced out of office by the Honduran Army. As a replacment, congressmen Roberto Micheletti as placed into office. With a very strong history with both Honduras and Central America, I knew that this news would be big for the US. Zelaya felt as if he was cheated out of office and this wasn't fair action. He said "I want to return to my country," Zelaya said. "I am president of Honduras." The army stormed into his home in Honduras in the middle of the night and forced him to flee to nearby Costa Rica.

After reading this article, I immediately knew how both the US and the author of the article felt about Zelaya being removed from office. Also, the article conveys that the US is going to do anything to bring Zelaya back to his rightful place in office as President by saying they were "deeply concerned" and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "Zelaya's arrest should be condemned." The US has pledged to do everything in their power to return Zelaya to office and many other Central American countries have done the same. The author makes sure that the reader knows that what was done in Costa Rica was wrong. 
One thing that the author did not do a good job on and as a reader I am very confused about is the motive for the army. The author does not say anything about why Zelaya was removed. I would of liked more information about if Zelaya had done something to deserve this rather then the article just talking about how wrong the soldiers were to do this. It should be interesting to see how both the US re-acts and what Micheletti will do to try and keep his chaotic country under control.

Classroom Shortage in the Philippines

For the schools in the Philippines, over 100 kids crowd into high school classrooms. How could someone learn well if they have 105 kids surrounding them and only 1 teacher to teach them. Although the Philippines attempted to create more school, a project that started 3 years ago, they  are thousands of classrooms short. The government only spends 2% of their money on education, something that author finds unacceptable. Jesli Lapus who controls education in the Fillipino government has an ambitious project to rebuild 2,000 schools and repair about 1,000. Due to the lack of financial support, teachers have even begun to use their own money to improve their classrooms schools. The author paints us a picture of how underprivileged the students in the Philippines are. It is an emotional and persuasive article about how something needs to be done to improve these children's educations. The author adds nothing about the reason for why the schools are so dilapidated. I think he omited this so that we feel like the government has no reason for treated the children so poorly and so that we feel angry at them. If he mentioned for example that they were having a financial crises and this was the reason why schools are getting so over crowded, we could sympathise slightly with the government for why they are doing this. The government hopefully has some reason for why they are spending so much money on other things such as recovering from a natural disaster or helping companies to become not so debt ridden.

Cheney Wrong on Interrogations

Former President Cheney recently released CIA documents on the effectiveness of their interrogation methods. Cheney claims that because of these interrogation techniques, we have not been directly attacked in the last 8 years. In these documents there are reports of the capture and interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian al Quaeda logistician, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al Quaeda's Operational Commander. The CIA interrogated Zubaydah and was able to locate the mastermind of 9/11, Mohammed. Mohammed was then brought in for further investigation. The extent to their methods led to the prisoners being stripped naked, deprived of sleep, subjected to loud noises and temperature changes. He was then also water boarded 83 times. All that the CIA discovered was that there was an incompetent terrorist living in the US who's plans of wreaking havoc were beyond sub par. The threat of terrorism was not found and much time and resources were wasted. The CIA went too far with their interrogations and did not achieve anything relevant.

I find that stories like these prove that the government becomes vindictive and power hungry at the first sign of threat. If we cannot stop these inhuman acts, then we cannot call ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave. There is nothing free about water boarding a potential lead 83 times, and nothing involving bravery will ever be found in Cheney's interrogation techniques.

Iraqis take the lead, with U.S trailing Closely

The U.S troops are supposed to be leaving Iraq, however no change appears to have happened. Technically, the Iraqis are in charge, but this doesn't appear to be reality. The author seems to have included that the U.S. has been parenting the Iraqis for the past few years. When the Iraqis water was diminished, the Americans replenished it. The consensus among the Iraqis is split. Some believe that they are ready for the Americans to leave, while others are not quite ready for the U.S. to leave. The Iraqi army has grown significantly, while the number of terrorists have been reduced greatly. However, the Iraqis don't have the machinery, and weaponry that we do. "We don't have good weapons, good vehicles or a good life," said Iraqi second lieutenant Adil Komall. The author doesn't go into much detail about what the Iraqi army officials think of the Americans, however he hints that we aren't very much appreciated by the higher ranks. There have been cases of American soldiers undermining the authority of higher ranking Iraqis, which seems to have escaped this article. The article covers this up by explaining that the Iraqis feel safer when accompanied by the Americans. There is some question as to how soon the Americans will leave Iraq. This will only we answered with time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clinton's Outburst in Congo Raises Concerns About Her Diplomatic Skills

A couple weeks ago, Senator Hillary Clinton visited Africa in order to strengthen U.S. diplomacy and to fight against the rape epidemic in many impoverished nations. During one of her speeches in Congo, a university student asked for her husband's opinion on a specific international issue. Ms. Clinton responded,

"Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am. So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I'm not going to be channeling my husband."

Conservative news station, Fox News attacks Clinton’s diplomatic capabilities, questioning the extent to which her emotions may cloud her future judgments.

While Clinton's response was unnecessarily harsh, her current emotional state is at least understandable. Clinton's presence in the White House has been drastically overshadowed by both her husband and President Obama. For example, when two American journalists were held captive in North Korea for almost six months, the White House chose to send Bill Clinton instead of his wife to ask for an official pardon from Kim Jong-Il.

We often ask to see the 'real' side of politicians, but when their emotions finally come to light we immediately criticize them for being inappropriate, or unprofessional. It is completely reasonable for Ms. Clinton to seem frustrated when asked a question about her husband, who seems to be slowly inching his way into his wife's political position as she remains somewhat sidelined. In fact, it perplexes me as to why the former president's opinion should matter in the slightest when weighed against that of the Secretary of State, someone who has a legitimate amount of power and diplomatic influence throughout the world.

Despite the aforementioned criticisms of their article, Fox News raises some difficult questions regarding Clinton's ability to lead. If she is so easily provoked, what kind of diplomat will she be? As the article puts it,

“One gets a little concerned when an issue of more consequence comes along and she might indulge in a personal perspective as opposed to something that's good for the country as a whole.”

Clinton’s poor self control and reliance on emotion when making key decisions will drastically shape the future of humanity. For this reason it becomes critical that we continue to ask these kinds of questions in order to ensure the safety and advancement of our global community.

Hurricane Jimena takes aim at Baja California

In the breaking news today on CNN I found out that Hurricane Jimena has been quickly heading to Baja California.  Speeds are up to one hundred and forty miles per hour!  This could be extremely threatening to the people in that area.  If the high speeds continue to pick up, which they are suppose to, the people in Southern California will need to be aware of the dangerous hurricane. The people who track hurricanes for a living say that it is extremely rare to see this many hurricanes in August so they are keeping a close eye on them.  

I believe that it is excellent to post this updates on the daily for people to read about and be aware, if we did not have the useful hurricane tracker we would be in a lot of trouble and the United States would not be in the state it is today, it would be in terrible condition.  I feel as if Hurricane Katrina for example has made people way more conscientious about their safety during a hurricane.  Since Katrina did so much damage the trackers are trying to prevent as much as they can and to keep people as safe as they can.  Since Katrina, it has been more clear when to be aware of a hurricane and you can tell they are trying to prevent danger to people which is excellent. 

Mexico's new drug use law worries US police

Recently, Mexico has legalized the use of small amounts of personal recreational drugs. I read two articles about these new laws, but the second one I read seemed to be much longer and much more biased and opinionated. Why and how does the author do this? Unlike the first article, this second article has an interview with a homeless addict in order to use our basic human sympathies and emotions to make us believe the author's point. There are a few facts included in the article, enough to help the reader understand what the laws do, but other than that, the majority of the article has complaints by different people about why these laws are worrisome. I think the author chooses to omit a lot about why the laws were passed and what they intend to do, as well as a few basic aspects of the law that were in the other article. In the middle, there is another sob story about how the same addict lost his brother to drugs and how they were "finishing him off". Next, the author tries to hit home by discussing how legalization will lead to drug-fueled vacations and spring breaks, which could lead to many deaths and other tragedies for citizens of other countries other than Mexico, such as our own friends and family. Finally, the author adds a counter argument just to show that he knows the argument for the other side, but only briefly in about one sentence. It seems that the author's main way to convince us of the point is to basically let us forget there is another side to the argument as well. If the author gave us the other side, could we have made a more educated decision?

One of the parts of the article that interested me the most was the part in which the addict is being interviewed. The man, Ivan, talks about how drugs have ruined his life and killed his brother. The author is using our emotions to get us to agree that these laws are dangerous and negative. By telling us about how his life has been ruined, we can't help but feel sympathetic and side with the argument being presented to us. A counter argument could possibly be that while drugs have ruined Ivan's life, legalizing the drugs will make it easier for Ivan to stay out of jail and focus on treatment instead. Why does the author omit this if she want us to make an informed decision?

Africa goes bananas

As I was looking through BBC News, I found this interesting, but sad article about a banana disease that is happening in Angola through to Uganda. Including those two, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and parts of Tanzania are also being affected by this crucial disease. Unlike it here in the United States, bananas are considered a "staple food" for the Africans. That means that it is a type of food that they eat everyday and almost in all 3 of their meals. In addition, the disease that is making these bananas completely unedible is called bunchy top and bacterial wit. Bunchy top and bacterial wit are both spread by insects. They bite into the bananas and then the bunchy top kicks in. It stunts the growth of the plant and the bacterial wit kills the plant and makes it unedible. Due to these major diseases within their "staple crop", there is going to be huge problems arising in the middle and western Africa.

I believe these diseases are going to turn into bigger catastrophes. Africa is having a lot of problems lately due to their low health aid. I've heard over 5 countries now that are being affected with epidemics. As I read an article about Kenya over the summer, it talked about how AIDS is affecting even more now. There is no reason why we can't help Africa. I feel as if we aren't taking the time to look outside our own country and help the needed. They are in serious help right now and wealthy countries like the United States and China have got to step in and help them. This disease may even come worldwide and then it would be affecting each and every one of us.

North Korea to Life Border Curbs

BBC News reported on what seems to be a peaceful movement in North and South Korea. North Korea will ease up on its border restrictions, which have severely affected workers and cargo traveling to a factory in North Korea. Also, North Korea has offered to resume a family reunion plan that was put on hold when tensions between the north and South rose about a year ago. In addition, North Korea has agreed to restart tourist visits from the South. The last peaceful motion that North Korea has agreed to is to restore an official communication channel between the two countries.
The author of this article makes a point of how politicians from the United States seem to see a definite decline in the tensions between North and South Korea. Also, according to Bill Richardson, a US politician, North Koreans have conveyed the message that they are ready to talk to the United States, after recently releasing to journalists that were being held prisoner in North Korea.
Although the author of this article seems to have high hopes for the future, he/she offers no insight as to what relations with North Korea will turn into in the near future. He/she simply seems to think that things will get better somehow. The author obviously believes very strongly that everything will clear up nicely because he/she does not mention any possible failures or setbacks in this peaceful movement. Will things really be peaceful for much longer or will North Korea stick with its old ways?

Wikipedia: No longer the Wild West?


Wikipedia, an extremely well known and popularly used website amongst an abundance of high school students, is cleaning up its act. The search engine has had the ability to form a love/hate relationship with its audience, resulting in some raving about its beneficial information and in others disapproving of its occasional faux material. In order to concur with thumbs up all around, the website has decided to add more structure to the process of publically omitting ones data. In the past, it was categorized as more of a free for all, allowing information to be posted without much supervision or guaranteed of legitimacy. However they are in the midst of making extreme progress, and as John Abell, New York bureau chief for stated, "They've made a leap here; I think it's a good leap, a necessary leap, a righteous leap. In the history of Wikipedia, this will probably be seen as a pivotal adjustment." 
The author portrayed the subject of the article, while including the controversy it caused as well. While presenting the issue arisen from the start, the article immediately escalated into the arguments being throw left and right. Yes, "the popular encyclopedia has drawn criticism for inaccuracies," however the openness and almost rule-free website has been rolling independently since creation. The assigned editors of various entries will indeed guarantee more validity, while at the same time shifting gears completely. Personally, I feel as though it would be beneficial to me along with multiple others for Wikipedia to be a trustworthy resource during research etc., and am hopeful that this change will improve the outlook for the site. 
Further investigation questions: 
1) When will this system take action?
2) Will the user ratings of Wiki improve or decline when the restrictions are activated?
3) Will the rules being placed on the site cause Menlo to allow it to become usable during research projects? 

DNA testing in china can reveal children's traits from an early age

The article i found is about DNA testing. In China at the Chongqing Children's Palace a new program has been developed. For $880, parents can send their children (ages 3-12)to a camp where scientists can determine their natural talents. A swab of saliva is taken from the mouth collecting 10,000 cells allowing experts to isolate 11 different genes revealing information about I.Q., focus, athletic ability, memory, and more. I decided to look for another source on this topic because i wasn't sure of its credibility. i found this . It verifies the CNN article. The scientific american article talks about how the camp will observe how the kids play as well, to help conclude the child's natural talents. Although scientific american doesn't have any interviews like CNN does. The CNN article talks about how competition in the world today is all about who has the most talent, so the main goal of the testing is to give the Chinese children the advantage of a scientific plan from an early age. Neither article addressed that since in China, parents can only have one baby. Because of this, DNA testing will lead chinese parents to push their children even more than they already do, allowing them almost no freedom to choose their career. Also, it could lead to more adoptions. Chinese parents could decide that instead of having their own kid, they want to adopt a kid with dominate traits that foreshadow success, or traits that sound appealing. This could open a new business: the adoption of children with desired traits. But that is a bit of a stretch. So although DNA testing to determine a child's traits is a huge technological advancement, it could lead to more harm than good. People base their decision of what career to pick on more than just what their genes say they are good at; they choose to do what that like, or what is best for their family. A person's environment also greatly determines the career they choose. A person could be born with the genes of a great baseball player, but he may live in the middle east where baseball virtually doesn't exist. So the person will choose a different career, one that makes them happy. So parents shouldn't pick the career for their kids based on DNA. They should allow their kids to choose their career naturally. The scientific american article even claims that in the next year parents will be able to choose which physical traits they want their baby to have, and scientists can determine which embryos to implant into the womb giving the baby those traits. This concept of a "designer baby" sounds a little bit like eugenics. The ability to better humanity by ruling out bad genetic traits. Neither article talked about this. So overall, although many people are excited about being able to determine a child's career from as early as age 3, the idea is a very controversial one. I personally think that it is a cool idea, but with the wrong intentions. It may lead to more harm than good, but CNN and scientific american think otherwise.

Emily Chang: CNN. DNA Testing In China Can Reveal Children's Traits From An Early Age. August 5 (accessed august 9, 2009)

Will Japan re-elect its hereditary politicians?

This article that I found on BBC, was about the problem of how most of the Japanese Politicians that are being elected are in some way related to a former politician. BBC does a good job of explaining the whole problem, but they dont offer a possible solution. They seem to discourage Japanese voters from voting for a non related politician such as Katsuhito Yokokume by expressing the idea that Katsuhito Yokume winning the election would be like an ant killing an elephant. On the other hand the New York Times suggest that Yokokume has a,"Fighting Chance," in the elections. The New York Times seems to give voters hope that if they vote for Yokokume, he will win because of his growing popularity now. To a lot of people it is a good thing if someone new, that is non-related to a former politician, is elected, but is it? Both the related and non-related candidates are expressing good ideas for the near future, so why should the election be based on if you are related to a former politician or not, instead of how the ideas offered will affect your life?

Another Day in Somalia, Fresh Fighting and Unlikely Victims

Since this article is talking about Somali gunmen attacking these Muslim priests, obviously the author does not favor the Somalis. The first few paragraphs of the article give the most concrete and important information. As you move down the article, the author goes on to explain relevant information on the town and general area. The author includes enough background information on the attackers and gives the reader a sense of what this region on the world is actually like. However, the author is unable to explain why the Muslims were attacked. This leaves readers to wonder whether the Somali gunmen's attack was random, or provoked. Was it the gunmen causing the trouble, or the Muslim priests?

Chinese Toxic Lead Plant Poisons Town's Children

Over the summer I found an interesting article about China in CNN. Chinese toxic lead plant poisons town's children, it was about how hundreds of children were found to have lead poisoning. Children symptoms ranged from attention deficits to even death. Because of this, the plant was ordered to shut down and families were to be moved. I decided to compare and contrast this to another article. I found another article in Fox News Lead poisoning sickens 600 kids in China. It had the same story, hundreds of children with lead poisoning. However unlike the CNN article it did not have the parents voices. They talked about the amount of children and some of the causes of the lead poisoning. While the Fox News talked about the factory itself and pollution, they didn't talk about the children's illness in depth and their parents anger. One tried showing the world about the errors of the plants. While the other voiced the distress of the people. This shows how one story can take different paths to be heard.

Al-Qaeda claims Saudi prince bomb

I really don't know if this is at all like what we are supposed to do but this my attempt.
I think it is very good that stories like this make headlines in world news. It is a good reminder to everyone that we are still at war. Little updates like this every once and awhile are great ways to keep everyone in the loop about what is going on over in the Middle East.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Moon Rock and the significance of the Moon Landing

There was a news article on BBC World News today called "Fake Dutch 'moon rock' Revealed".  The article is about a moon rock that was a gift from the Apollo 11 astronauts to then-Prime Minister Willem Drees of the Netherlands.  They had verified it over the phone with NASA, but now it turns out that it's just a lump of petrified wood.  The article mentioned that it was given on a "goodwill tour" in 1969, and that the US gave moon rocks to over 100 countries in the 70s.

I could have gone in many different directions with this article.  Part of me wanted to look into all the different US moon missions.  Or maybe investigate the Rijksmuseum where it's currently housed.  Or maybe more about the procedure for verifying a moon rock over the phone.  But in the end I was drawn to this "goodwill tour".  Somehow seeing the astronauts' names on the plaque made me wonder about their role as goodwill ambassadors of the United States.  So after some searching, I found this: The Journey After “One Giant Leap for Mankind”, which is on the official US State Department Blog.  It appears that the astronauts were sent on a goodwill tour to 24 countries over 45 days in the second half of 1969.  The blog claims that "The Commander in Chief authorized the Boeing presidential aircraft for their use", which might mean they rode on what was Air Force One at the time.  (Of course, that is somewhat less exciting than being on Apollo 11, but still quite impressive).

What I found interesting, too, was the list of countries that they visited, the countries with whom we were to "share information gained from the flight with other nations and to share plans for future space exploration."  Given that it was the height of the Cold War, and the Space Race was seen as yet another competition between USA and USSR, I'm not surprised to see the decided lack of Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and North Korea.  Seeing as the US was also embroiled in the Vietnam War, I'm not sure if I expected a visit to Vietnam or not.  A visit there to show off American accomplishments to the American troops there would make sense.  After all, they also visited West Berlin, much like shoving a rock in the Soviets' face.  On the other hand, Vietnam might be a touchy subject.  It turns out that they didn't visit Vietnam, but instead stopped at Thailand.

Also interesting is the list of countries that I didn't expect them to visit -- Zaire, Yugoslavia, Iran, Bangladesh.  The surprise I felt reminded me of the ever-changing flow of history and the changing relationships between nations.  For example, this was before the Iranian Revolution, so Iran was a major ally in the Middle East.  Bangladesh, on the other hand, was technically still part of Pakistan, so that probably made an interesting political statement at the time.  This investigation has opened more topics for me to investigate further!