February 19, 2009

Weekly Summary: Week Seven

Santorum speaks about threat of radical Islam
Andrew Lacy

Editorial of a UNL Professor
John Scherbenske

"Science" should not be taken on faith
William Collen

Take this job and shove it
Benjamin Kantack

ASUN resorts to intellectual prostitution
Francis Mader

Letter from the Editor

Tobias Davis

News Clips: February 18

Compiled by Tobias Davis

Thanks for reading!

Corrections: A few people have commented that the article by John Scherbenske may appear to be by a professor -- it is not. John is a former UNL student. Also, for the ASUN article: While the cost of the student fees increase is now available in the FAQ section, the point of the article still stands.

News Clips: February 18

WND.com - In another evidence of reduction of freedom of speech, Oakland California police arrested Reverend Walter Hoye II for quietly picketing at an abortion clinic. Video evidence submitted by Rev. Hoye clearly shows he is quietly standing outside the abortion clinic, holding a sign which read "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help you." Security guards are visibly harassing Rev. Hoye by following him as he walked back and forth, and by covering his sign with prepared blank posters. The abortion clinic director, Jackie Barbic, testified in court that Rev. Hoye had physically intimidated her until she had to defend herself, shouting "Stay away from me! Back down!" Video evidence submitted to court clearly demonstrates that no such thing happened, yet Rev. Hoye was convicted of "unlawful approach."

NYTimes.com - Despite his campaign platform to end and withdraw from the ongoing war, Obama recently approved 17,000 additional troops for Afghanistan. The troops will be spread out over the spring and summer, totaling nearly 50 percent more troops. In a careful misdirected statement, NY Times quotes Obama as saying that "the fact that we are going to responsibly draw down our forces in Iraq allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan.” While Obama ran a specific campaign against the Iraq war, anti-war activists are disappointed that he is not withdrawing from Afghanistan.

LATimes.com - Sacremento homosexuals are working to overturn the recently passed Proposition 8, which clarifies marriages as between a man and woman. Proposition 8 was approved by voters, and passed by a 600,000 vote margin, passing in 42 out of California's 58 counties. While California is barely able to pay it's state workers, and has recently laid off around 20,000 employees, many in California are arguing that there are more important things needing discussion at the moment than a majority passed bill.

HumanEvents.com - In a long article by James Delingpole, a writer for the group Human Events, he articulates the danger of limiting freedom of speech against radical Islamic groups. In the article, Delingpole details the work of Dutch Parliament member Geert Wilder in the short movie Fitna, which parallels horrific terrorist attacks with verses from the Koran. Mr. Wilder's video has been a source of outrage from the Moslem community at large, and has resulted in his recent denial of entry into Britain. In Britain, only a few weeks ago, a nurse was nearly fired for offering to pray for one of her patients.

TimesOnline.com - One of India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist groups has announced a new drink, called "gau jal" or "cow water", made of cow urine. Hindus revere cows, and it is illegal to kill them in most of India. The drink is sponsored by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and may be launched by the end of the year. The RSS group has also used violent means of promoting it's agenda, including killing 67 Christians last year. According to Times Online, the RSS and it's offshoots began promoting cow urine as a cure for cancer back in 2001. India's national Hindu religion is seen as the main cause for it's food shortages, among other internal difficulties.

WND.com - A twelve year old girl, identified only as "Lia", took first place in a speech contest when she argued for the rights of the unborn, even though one judge was offended enough to quit. During the contest preliminaries Lia was "strongly encouraged" to pick a different subject, and was even later threatened with disqualification if she spoke on abortion. "Why do we think that just because a fetus can't talk or do what we do, it isn't a human being yet?" She asks in the video. "Some babies are born after only five months. Is this baby not human?"

AZCentral.com - It seems the anti-drunken-driving devices being installed in cars don't always help much after all. In Suffolk County, New York, police arrested a Marvin Rice after he crashed a rented vehicle while intoxicated. Mr. Rice had a previous DWI and agreed to have the breath testing equipment installed. The fact that a driver will find ways to circumvent the breath tester, by altering the equipment or finding a new vehicle, has been one argument against the devices from the beginning.

USAToday.com - In another brilliant act of bureaucratic, lobbyist guided legislation, a new federal law which aims to protect children from lead in toys has practically killed the entire sales of off-road vehicles built for young riders. Lead is used in many parts of motorcycles and ATVs for strengthening the metal, among other reasons. According to USA Today, Paul Vitrano, general counsel for the Motorcycle Counsel Industry, said the industry "estimates the retail value retail market value for all off-road cycles and ATVs is $14.5 billion a year, including sales, service, parts, accessories and payroll." With the economic recession already hitting noticeably, especially at the coasts, additional bureaucratic legislation like this is likely to cause even greater damage.

WasingtonTimes.com - After Arizona rancher roger Barnett attempted to defend his land from illegal immigrant trespassers in 2004, the falsely named Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) brought a $32 million lawsuit for "civil rights violations and the infliction of emotional distress." Now, a federal jury ruled that Mr. Barnett did not violate the illegal immigrants civil rights, and tossed charges of "false imprisonment, battery and conspiracy." The jury still awarded $78,000 to the illegal immigrants for "actual and punitive damages", whatever that may mean.

Letter from the Editor

Greetings from the Editor!

This past week seemed to be filled with all sorts of crazy news. Most of it seemed to be centered around the passing of the “stimulus” bill, but other important issues were often not discussed.

Things like the significantly large increase of federal land for the Wild Game and Parks.
Things like the lead protection bill, only recently passed, which will practically shut down many thrift stores, and has already crippled the children's ATV sales on the coasts.
Things like Obama sending a very large number (17,000) of troops in to Afghanistan, while continuing to tell everyone he will end the war.

Things like the ASUN spending your student fees to try to convince you to increase your student fees.

What a busy week!

And did anyone notice Facebook's policy change? If you didn't, you are not taking your privacy very seriously, and I would encourage you to read up on what happened. As of Wednesday, Facebook had to revert their policy back to it's original because of the public outcry.

Also, the good ol' European Union seems to be having it's own troubles, if their bailout scheme is any indication: European Banks are apparently needing a $25 Trillion bailout. The main-stream media has been pretty actively trying to cover the significance of it, so you may have to dig through some archives before you can find that recent bit of news.

Anyway, thanks for continuing to read this small-fry paper, and we hope you have a great week!

-----Tobias Davis
Editor and Manager
UNL Mechanical Engineering Major

ASUN resorts to intellectual prostitution

Francis Mader
UNL Business Major

Committee fails to mention nearly‭ ‬20%‭ ‬student fee increase while‭ “‬educating‭” ‬student body
While encouraging students to support better wellness facilities,‭ ‬the ASUN Campus Wellness Ad Hoc Committee has neglected the substantial increase in fees for the proposed new Rec center,‭ ‬health center,‭ ‬and weight room extension.‭ ‬The three part referendum is on the ballot March‭ ‬4th.

‎Currently non-academic student fees rest for a brief moment at‭ ‬$405‭ ‬per student per semester,‭ ‬according to the ASUN website.‭ ‬With an estimated‭ ‬$80‭ ‬increase for these projects,‭ ‬with two of them costing‭ ‬$18‭ ‬million apiece,‭ ‬student fees could be estimated to be over‭ ‬$500‭ ‬per student per semester next year.‭ ‬Accompanying this projected increase is the‭ ‬$12‭ ‬increase for the readership program,‭ ‬the increased printing support for the Daily Nebraskan,‭ ‬and the general‭ ‬$12,000‭ ‬gift to the Dailyer Nebraskan.‭

In the committee’s efforts to educate the students,‭ ‬part of ASUN’s‭ ‬$440,000‭ ‬budget has been put to work producing posters and presentation materials promoting‭ “‬better health‭” ‬and‭ “‬better fitness‭”‬.‭ ‬Nowhere on these printings will you find a price tag,‭ ‬but only smiling people and pretty pictures.‭ ‬Even on the homepage of the website,‭ ‬the‭ ‬$80‭ ‬student/semester fee can only be found at the end of the Powerpoint and in the link to the senate bill.‭ ‬The bias is especially shown with the various booths that have poster-boards boldly proclaiming‭ “‬YES‭” ‬next to the information about new buildings.‭

Not only is there a lack of transparency in the‭ “‬educating‭” ‬part of the increased fees,‭ ‬but there also exists a lack in the personnel of the committee.‭ ‬Besides the president of ASUN in a relationship with the chairman of this Ad Hoc Committee,‭ ‬the principles of the members seem to be loose with proposals with the student’s money.

If there might be an opportunity to support a noble cause such as health,‭ ‬ASUN rushes to investigate.‭ ‬After starting the committee and appointing people,‭ ‬the committee gets busy and proceeds to take a trip to Missouri to look at other Recreational Centers,‭ ‬has firms evaluate the buildings,‭ ‬and organizes their findings after analyzing some relevant statistics.‭ ‬Concerned that they won’t make a big enough difference with a few necessary changes,‭ ‬the committee beefs up their resolution,‭ ‬attaching each project to the other in order to make it big enough to succeed.

However,‭ ‬while getting deep into this process,‭ ‬the members lose sight of the real problems and‭ ‬practical solutions while their imaginary harms continue to grow in their minds.‭ ‬They have become prostitutes of the intellectual kind,‭ ‬working for their own causes believing that they are doing a service to the general welfare.‭ ‬Diversity becomes their rally point,‭ ‬justifying their own impractical ideas for their researched then exaggerated problems.

This is the state of ASUN.‭ ‬A handful of interested students become campaign happy after wielding student fee dollars.‭ ‬There is no pressing need for a new health center.‭ ‬Nor is spending millions of dollars the only solution to our wellness needs.

Take this Job and Shove It

Benjamin Kantack
UNL Political Science and Spanish Major

With cabinet appointees dropping to scandal like sheaves of corn to a harvester, President Obama attempted to name New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg the new Secretary of Commerce. Gregg would have been the third Republican nominated to a cabinet position in the Obama Administration and another symbol of bipartisanship – or at least that the President was not completely ignoring conservatives. But on February 12, according to a Fox.com article, Gregg withdrew his name from consideration for the position, making himself the second man within a month to receive a nod for Commerce Secretary and decline the offer.

What caused Gregg to pull out? As far as scandals go, the senator was clean as ivory snow: the only disgrace even near him is an allegation against one of his former staffers, according to the Associated Press, and Gregg is neither a suspect nor a target in the investigation. Nor did he have anything to fear about getting replaced in the Senate by a Democrat: New Hampshire governor John Lynch had pledged to appoint a Republican for the vacant seat, to encourage Gregg to accept the cabinet post. President Obama suggested in an article by MSNBC that Gregg had declined the position because he was too comfortable with his place in the senate – but the same article declared that Gregg does not plan to run for reelection in 2010; why, then, would he refuse the biggest federal opportunity of his lifetime and allow his political career to fade away in two years?

According to CNN.com, Senator Gregg rejected the proposition on the grounds that he disagreed with the President's policies on the stimulus package and his plans to exert greater control over the 2010 census. And while this may seem like a trivial matter to relinquish a cabinet post over, the census has, as Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times writes, "huge implications social and political."

Conducting the decennial census is one of the Department of Commerce's most important duties: the results allow lawmakers to redraw the boundaries of congressional districts and decide where government spending will be allocated. If the Obama-Pelosi-Reed trifecta could seize control of the Department of Commerce's duties, they could manipulate data and approve or disapprove redistricting plans in order to effectively disenfranchise whole regions of conservative voters and redefine the power structure in Washington.

The Boston Globe reported on February 13 that President Obama had announced his plans to make the census results subject to the White House instead of the Secretary of Commerce after interest groups expressed concern that Gregg had voted against increased census spending during the Clinton administration. Obviously the left disagrees with Gregg's fiscal conservatism, but using it as an excuse to take away his most important responsibility as Commerce Secretary does not seem very respectful – or bipartisan.

[Edit: Missing text]

Judd Gregg didn’t decline the post for reasons of scandal or strategy, or even for his own political convenience. He recognized that he would only be a token conservative in the new cabinet, whose alleged power had been reduced to a mere illusion – and, wisely understanding the ulterior partisan motives of the new "bipartisan" administration, effectively told President Obama to "take this job and shove it."

‎“‏Science‭” ‬Should Not Be Taken on Faith

William Collen
Omaha area writer

In a recent editorial published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‭ (“‬U.S.‭ ‬moves ahead only if science does‭”‬,‭ ‬January‭ ‬25,‭ ‬2009‭) ‬the author,‭ ‬Cynthia Tucker,‭ ‬bemoans American’s supposed‭ “‬contempt for science‭”‬.‭ ‬She cites the supposedly alarming statistic that only‭ ‬40‭ ‬percent of Americans accept Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution,‭ ‬a percentage she claims is‭ “‬just ahead of Turkey‭”‬.‭ ‬She condemns George W.‭ ‬Bush’s‭ “‬narrow-mindedness‭” ‬towards the subject of embryonic stem-cell research,‭ ‬which‭ “‬impeded scientific efforts‭” ‬to cure such diseases as juvenile diabetes.‭ ‬And of course,‭ ‬she lauds President Barack Obama’s intent to‭ “‬restore science to its rightful place‭”‬.‭ ‬She says:‭ “‬Among other changes,‭ ‬Obama is expected to reverse Bush’s stance on expanding stem-cell research.‭ ‬Like so much else about this new beginning,‭ ‬Obama’s embrace of science is a cause for hope.‭”

It seems as though Ms.‭ ‬Tucker considers science as an end in its own right,‭ ‬while deriding faith as‭ “‬antediluvian religious dogma‭”‬,‭ ‬and implying that people of faith are‭ “‬flat-earthers‭” ‬who don’t believe in‭ “‬facts,‭ ‬data,‭ ‬evidence‭”‬.‭ ‬But isn’t even the scientific method based on faith‭? ‬How could any scientific inquiry take place if a rational,‭ ‬logical,‭ ‬orderly universe were not presupposed‭? ‬In fact,‭ ‬since everything anyone believes is filtered through their presuppositions,‭ ‬how can we believe anything without faith in some assumed,‭ ‬implicit standard by which all input is judged‭?

A blind respect for science as an end unto itself is just as damaging as a rejection of the logical,‭ ‬rational approach to understanding that the scientific method represents.‭ ‬Far from being a‭ “‬rejection of reason that rivals the dark ages‭”‬,‭ ‬as Ms.‭ ‬Tucker claims,‭ ‬the current faith-based stand of so many Americans is an acknowledgement of the fact that as finite,‭ ‬fallible creatures,‭ ‬humans cannot know anything without taking some things on faith.‭ ‬Ms.‭ ‬Tucker’s adulation of‭ “‬science‭” ‬is laughable.‭ ‬But the American public’s rejection of embryonic stem-cell research‭ (‬a principled call to a higher standard‭) ‬and opposition of evolutionary theory‭ (‬a demand for readily verifiable proof instead of conjecture and guesswork‭) ‬is not.

Editorial of a UNL Professor

[A few people have commented that the paper version seems to say that John Scherbenske is a professor at UNL, but he is not. We apologise for any confusion. -Ed.]

John Scherbenske
Former UNL Student

Strong universities are predicated on excellence. This writing is prefaced by explaining UNL is a great school, overall. Fall 2007, however, marks a time of ignominy by the hand of Professor Mo Neal, professor of art.

Neal used unacceptable language towards classes and explicit language on one student in particular. She was not reprimanded, based upon UNL data. People anywhere are often disciplined, if not fired, for using explicit language on an employee or employer.

Neal bragged about arguing with the Chair for previous problems caused by her vile language, completing her B.A. at forty-three, her "hippie values", and flunking college in her twenties due to drugs. Information suggests her recent involvement with UNL students and alcohol as problematic. She, in short, offended multiple faiths, and many students' values. She also gave one student, specifically, unfair grades due to her narrow subjectivity. Is this faculty member one who upholds inexorable greatness?

The department explained she lacked clear standards, but refused a grade change. This instructor implied her supposed open mindedness, and yet invalidated anyone who disagreed with her. Her actions show, clearly, that her abilities and conduct were extremely unprofessional and questionable.

Santorum speaks about threat of radical Islam

Andrew Lacy
UNL Broadcasting Major

While many Americans are focused on the economy,‭ ‬former Sen.‭ ‬Rick Santorum,‭ ‬R-Pa.,‭ ‬chose to speak to students about the current wars in the Middle East.

‎“‏The previous administration and the current administration have both dealt with the war incorrectly,‭” ‬Santorum said during his speech Tuesday night.

Santorum was highly critical of both former President Bush and President Obama for failing to properly identify America’s enemies.‭ ‬Santorum said America is not fighting terrorists,‭ ‬but rather a particular group of people with a particular ideology.

‎“‏How can the American public go to the polls and make an informed decision if you don’t know who we’re fighting‭?” ‬Santorum said.

Santorum said elected officials have been very careful not to identify America’s enemies in religious terms because they are afraid of offending Muslims.‭ ‬He told the audience of about‭ ‬60‭ ‬people the nature of the terrorist threat is rooted in fundamental Islamic theology.

Santorum said many Muslims read the Qur’an literally,‭ ‬without putting it into proper historical context as most Christians and Jews do with their scriptures.‭ ‬He went on to briefly inform the audience of some of the differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims after a show of hands revealed only a few audience members knew the difference.

‎“‏We’ve been fighting for seven years and most people don’t know who the enemy is,‭” ‬Santorum said.

He also emphasized the religious nature of the threat from Iran,‭ ‬which he believes is the greatest threat America faces.‭ ‬He explained some of the end times theology of Shia Islam and emphasized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s desire to bring about the apocalypse by using a nuclear weapon..

‎“‏It sounds crazy,‭ ‬but is it any less serious if they believe it‭?” ‬Santorum said.‭ “‬Show me in the history of the world where a group of people dedicated to destroying someone else goes away peacefully.‭”

Santorum’s speech in the auditorium of UNL’s City Campus Union lasted about‭ ‬90‭ ‬minutes and was sponsored by the UNL College Republicans.