April 23, 2009

Weekly Summary: Week Eleven

Here is a letter from the Editor.

Death Penalty and Somalian Pirates

A twist on a classic pirate tale.

Experts Debate Death with Dignity Law
Oregon's suicidal law is discussed.

Don't Despair
For those who were distressed over last weeks article, here is something hopeful.

New Haven Firefighter gets Hosed
Racial inequality goes both ways, as this firefighter learned.

Principle, not politics, should guide President Collins

An ASUN Senator may be presenting a politically charged, but good, resolution.

Weekly Puzzler

Thanks for reading!

Weekly Puzzler

This weeks Puzzle presented by:
Nathan Davis
UNL Mechanical Engineering Major

A Puzzling Matter

1 Map detail
6 School org.
9 Make lace
12 _____ Witherspoon of “Just Like Heaven”
13 Rowing implement
14 Physicians' group (abbr.)
15 Declaration
17 Salesperson, briefly
18 Minute particle
19 Ridiculous
21 Scheduled
24 Mails
25 Narrowed
27 Tyke
28 Nile viper
29 Baby's seat
31 _____ and downs
34 Cry of surprise
37 Childhood disease
40 Of the sun
42 Make
43 Dwelling
44 So-so
45 MGM lion
46 Temporary
51 Snaky shape
52 Sombrero, e.g.
53 Roof edges
54 Give _____ break! (2 wds.)
55 Gorilla, e.g.
56 Snooze


1 Tax org.
2 Fish trap
3 Dead _____ Scrolls
4 Tycoon's property
5 Wobble
6 Limerick, e.g.
7 Summer shade
8 Picasso, e.g.
9 Big, hairy spider
10 Revise
11 Cassettes
16 Cindy Crawford, e.g.
20 New (prefix)
21 RR terminal
22 _____ Vegas
23 Horse breed
26 Water barrier
30 Praline nut
32 Teacher's favorite
33 Wind direction (abbr.)
35 Possessed
36 Vocalist _____ Franklin
38 Gets up
39 Continuing story
40 Massachusetts city
41 Fat
44 Destiny
47 Eminem's milieu
48 Eden lady
49 Born as
50 Chef's unit (abbr.)

Last weeks puzzle solutions are:

Death Penalty and Somalian Pirates

Chester Davis
UNL Mechanical Engineering Major

In a dramatic and unprecedented move Barack H. Obama wreaked terror on the families of several underage black youth by ordering these presumed innocent teenagers shot to death. Several Somalian youth were engaging in a 5 day spring break excursion aboard a small fishing on the high seas with former cab driver Richard Phillips when angry, probably conservative military men shot them to death from the safety a nearby multi-million dollar warship.

While the military complex has suggested that one of the black youth was pointing a presumably loaded AK-47 rifle at Mr. Phillips, it is more likely that Mr. Phillips was providing the underprivileged youth helpful firearms safety training. Perhaps when the Military complex releases the full, unedited video footage we may be able to make this judgment.

While it might seem as though these actions contradict the well known Obama statements that "Harsh methods undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer.", the actions are completely consistent with his ideas on small weapons proliferation. "It is absolutely critical that the United States join as a full partner in dealing with this issue,” said Obama with regards to reducing the transfer and sale of firearms to oppressed minorities in Mexico.

Vice-Admiral Gortney seems to agree with most normal people who think unprecedented violence toward black youth does little to ensure the safety of Americans "This could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it.''

While Obama continues to infringe on the intelligence gathering properties of placing a caterpillar in the holding cell of a non-uniformed armed enemy combatant captured in a war zone, he should consider his own legal obligations as Commander and chief. The U.S. War Crimes statute, which applies to offenses “whether inside or outside the United States”, forbids war crimes. The statute notes that the Geneva Conventions specifically forbid torture as a war crime, defining torture as “The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering … for the purpose of punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind.”

It is likely that shooting several youth enjoying a holiday at sea in the head or shoulders, maiming and than killing them, certainly qualifies under this statute. Mr Obama should reconsider his actions against these young black seaman and his attitude toward other oppressed minorities.

Experts Debate Death With Dignity Law

Stephen Harris, a Journalism Major at Multnomah University, interviewed key people discussing the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, a law which took effect in 1998 and allows terminally ill patients the option of suicide. The following interview is published with permission.

Experts Debate Death With Dignity Law
Stephen Harris
Journalism Major at Multnomah University

More than 400 people have ended their lives through the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which took effect in 1998.
Eli Stutsman, board member of the National Death with Dignity Center and one of the law’s principle drafters, said he thinks that the law provides a vital option for terminally ill patients.
However, Dr. Ken Stevens, vice president of Physicians for Compassionate Care, said he thinks the law wreaks havoc on the medical profession. The Voice spoke to each man.

The Voice: How does this procedure coincide with the Hippocratic Oath?

Stutsman: Physicians debate this. First of all, not all physicians take the same oath. If you think [the Death with Dignity Act] is doing harm, you probably don’t support it, and you probably should opt out.
But many physicians would disagree. If a patient is dying, if a patient is facing a difficult death under the narrow circumstances of the Oregon law, you’re not doing harm by helping that patient hasten the death. And some physicians would say [that] to do otherwise is to abandon them in their real time of need.

Stevens: It’s opposite. It turns medicine upside down. It’s medical killing. When a doctor writes a prescription, a prescription is a written order directing the patient. You’re basically ordering a patient to die.

The Voice: Does this procedure’s legality justify it ethically?

Stutsman: One doesn’t mean the other. It’s appropriate to consider both together. When you deal with law, medicine [and] ethics, you are dealing with the intersection of very important issues and areas that we have been balancing, not only in this country but other countries, for centuries.

Stevens: There was a time in this country when slavery was legal. What is interesting is that the move to legalize assisted suicide has not come from medicine. It’s coming from attorneys. Usually medical advances come from science, and here we have politics that’s affecting what doctors do.

The Voice: What is the difference in public opinion about the procedure when describing it as aid in dying as opposed to assisted suicide?

Stutsman: Assisted suicide is still a crime in Oregon. Even if a physician’s engaged in it, he or she can be prosecuted. What we did is we created a narrow exception.
It’s important to use words that are meaningful and understand the baggage they bring.
And if you appreciate the criminal history and the tragic history associated with assisted suicides and separate that from the context of the terminally ill, you might very well use different words for a different purpose. And you might very well get a more favorable response when you use accurate language.
But if you want to load the question up so that it reflects criminality, so that it reflects all the emotional, tragic suicides you can think of, you’ll drive the support rate down. But I don’t think you’re proving any larger point.

Stevens: Language is used as a weapon in this war. Assisted suicide proponent organizations use euphemisms. A euphemism clouds the issue. If I say I want to die with dignity, what does that mean?
They usurp that phrase so that death with dignity means that it’s death with an overdose. Or they say that it’s aid in dying. That it’s a hastening [of] death. In fact, the word euthanasia is a euphemism, but it has developed a bad connotation so they don’t like to use it. So now we need euphemisms for euphemisms.

The Voice: On a societal level, does this procedure cause us to value our infirm and elderly more or less?

Stutsman: It does not diminish the dignity or inherent worth of an individual to talk about when and how we die. We know today that we’ve modernized curriculums, that we’ve brought more resources and care into end-of-life decision making than we ever had before. It’s been described not only as a silver lining, but the little engine that could.
This debate over hastened death elevates the discussion and has improved end-of-life healthcare in Oregon and elsewhere.

Stevens: Less. Much less. The proponents [of assisted suicide] say that they want to be in control–that there are some things that are worse than death. What things are worse than death? Being in a wheel chair.
When those with physical disabilities hear this, what do they say?
“You’re describing me. So you’re saying that my condition is worse than death?” Those with disabilities have probably been the strongest opponents of the legalization of assisted suicide because they realize the danger that they are in.

Don't Despair

William Collen
Omaha Area Writer

Confronted with all the horrible things happening these days, not only in our own country but also abroad, what is the Christian supposed to do? Is it really worthwhile working against an oppressive government, the eroding family, the economic debacle, and so many other problems (a nice list of which were published in the last issue of Student Newspaper)? What should we do? Throw in the towel? Make some last, futile, doomed effort? Be a hermit somewhere? What?

The answer to all of those possibilities is a resounding NO! As Christians, we can be assured of Christ's victory over all his enemies, and the triumph of his church. “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). These words were spoken by the God who cannot lie.

But that doesn't mean that the gates of Hades won't try to prevail. God's enemies will do all they can to defeat and destroy Christ's people, whether that be through direct persecution, as is happening in most Muslim countries, or indirectly through totalitarian governments and a corrosive culture. But what does the Bible say about these attempts of man to shake his fist at God?

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed. He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then he shall speak to them in his wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure” (Psalm 2:1,2,4,5).

All of man's antagonism towards God is vain. God, being ruler over all the earth, is in complete control of all that happens down here, and His purpose is to advance the glory of Christ his son through the church. And it doesn't matter how great the opposition against God is. God's power is limitless, and X is always less than infinity.

So what should we do? “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:10,11). These words are applicable not only to rulers but to all of humanity. Christian: dedicate your life to the service of God, and believe his promises of assured victory. Don't be afraid of the machinations of this world. Your work is not in vain!

Letter from the Editor

[The paper publication had a shortened version of this letter, the full length is presented here online]

Greetings to the astute reader:

As many of you are aware, a few weeks ago the State of Missouri put out a watch list, warning the police of potential terrorists in the form of people who own guns, who view the Constitution as a legal document, who go to church on Sunday, and who are basically your good old country boy Christians.
Noticeably absent from the list was any mention of Islamic terrorists, Greenpeace terrorists, or any of the other groups who actually commit acts of terrorism on a regular basis.

Now, upping the scale, last week the Homeland of Security released a report also warning law enforcement of right wing extremists, again describing your typical country Christian. Gun owner? You might be a terrorist. Church goer? You might be a terrorist. Think abortion is wrong? You might be a terrorist.
When I think about it, it could be be the new “Might be a redneck” comedy punch-line of the year. I can imagine Jeff Foxworthy adding it to his list: “If you have a gun by your couch, you might be a terrorist.” Except the Homeland Security is serious.

Consider this: You, a traditional gun owning church going American, decide to go to the airport with a “God bless America” shirt on. Airport security, under influence of the Homeland Security, profiles you as a potential terrorist and pulls you out of line. Congratulations, now you get to spend a few hours in a cold cell. Probably get searched. Miss your flight. And the worst part? The airport won't refund your ticket, since Homeland Security says you may have presented a threat, probably because you think God might be willing to send a few blessings our way.

Isn't it great to know the Homeland Security office is helping track such dangerous criminals? You know, like the Islamic terrorists who apparently blow themselves up at bus stations. Oh. Wait.

The question is: Can we do anything about it? William Collen, an Omaha writer, points out that we must not despair when governments press down on us. Right now you have a great opportunity to begin speaking out for your rights: The Constitutional right to bear arms and the right to free assembly. You can tell the government you don't appreciate getting put on the same level as someone who blows themselves up at a bus station.

It's pretty easy, really. The hardest part is probably the few minutes online looking for your governor's e-mail or office address. Just take a few minutes, once a week, to write another letter communicating to the people in office. You could even put it on your schedule. Like, right now.

Thanks for reading, thanks for caring.

-----Tobias Davis
Editor and Manager for the Student Newspaper
UNL Mechanical Engineering Major

New Haven Firefighters Get Hosed

Benjamin Kantack
UNL Political Science and Spanish Major

Students approaching finals week can surely sympathize with the story of Connecticut firefighter Frank Ricci.

Six years ago, according to the New York Times, Ricci had a once-in-a-decade chance to pass a promotional exam and earn the coveted rank of lieutenant. He made flashcards, participated in a study group, took practice tests, and even paid more than $1000 for someone to record his textbooks onto audio tapes.

Ricci’s hard work finally paid off…or so he thought. He finished sixth out of 77, and with fifteen vacancies available for promotions, he figured he had finally made the grade – and the rank of lieutenant. Unfortunately for Ricci, the top fifteen scorers on the test consisted of fourteen whites and one Hispanic – no blacks. In response to the dearth of African Americans in the top fifteen, the city of New Haven decided not to offer any promotions, according to the New Haven Independent.

“It’s something that shakes what you believe in. Because you believe if you work hard, you’re rewarded for that, and that’s not necessarily the case,”” said Matthew Marcarelli, whose grade of 93% made him the top scorer on the exam. “Every day I go to work I’ve got to pin this lieutenant’s badge on me, it reminds me I got screwed out of a captain’s badge because of the color of my skin. That gets to you,” he told ABC News on April 10.

Despite the fact that New Haven paid $100,000 of the taxpayers’ money to a testing company to create a test that would not disadvantage any particular group, the city concluded that, since none of the black participants scored within the top fifteen, the test must have been racially biased.

“To have the city throw [the test] out because you’re white or because you’re not African American is insulting,” said Ricci.

Fast forward to the present day, where Ricci and nineteen other local firefighters, calling themselves the “New Haven 20,” have brought their racial discrimination lawsuit all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The case Ricci v. DeStephano is scheduled for argument on April 22, with a decision anticipated by the end of June.

This will be the first time in decades that the Supreme Court has examined the use of race as a factor in hiring or other job-related practices, and the first chance for the Roberts Court to verbalize its position on racial issues in regards to civil servants. The verdict could greatly alter the role of race in the American workplace.

The AP article reduced the dispute to a single, broad question: “Do minorities and women still need legal protection from discrimination, or do the monumental civil rights laws that created a more equal nation now cause more harm than good?”

Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, the fifteen most qualified firefighters for promotion in New Haven, Connecticut, could all be non-blacks? The Supreme Court will be asking itself this question for the next few months – and their decision will undoubtedly have an impact on race relations in America.

One thing is certain: “The fire isn’t going to discriminate against a person whether he’s black, white, or Hispanic” said firefighter Ben Vargas. “It’s going to treat that person the same way.”

Perhaps one day the New Haven Fire Department will learn from the fires it fights and judge its employees, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “[not] by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Principle, not politics should guide President Collins

Andrew Lacy
UNL Broadcasting Major

In coming months, the Board of Regents is expected to take up the issue of whether to expand embryonic stem cell research at UNL. This debate carries major ramifications ethically and medically.

Stem cells are cells that can be found in all living organisms. They are undifferentiated, that is, they are not blood cells, muscle cells, or any other types of cells. They carry the ability to reproduce numerous times while remaining undifferentiated. When placed under certain conditions, these cells can differentiate themselves and potentially be used to replace damaged cells to cure a wide range of illnesses.

Stem cells have been wildly successful so far, but not the stem cells you’re thinking of. You see, while the most commonly discussed stem cells are those found in embryos, they can also be found in any adult human. It is the adult stem cells that have proven to carry great potential without any ethical concerns.

So far, adult stem cells have shown great promise in treating, among other illnesses, brain cancer, skin cancer, various types of leukemia, breast cancer, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord damage, sickle cell anemia, and liver cirrhosis. Embryonic stem cells have produced nothing.

When the issue goes before the Board of Regents, ASUN President Megan Collins will represent UNL students in the debate. Unfortunately, President Collins seems to be favoring political expediency over science and principle.
Collins herself has expressed an intention to oppose expansion of embryonic research, and we applaud her for that position. However, she has discouraged ASUN from voting on a resolution that would express the same opinion. Collins is apparently concerned that the Senate would vote down such a resolution, forcing her to go against her own senate.

The resolution is likely to be put forward despite Collins’s objections, and we hope President Collins will do the right thing by supporting the resolution. There’s no doubt she would be in the unenviable position of going against her own senate, but standing on principle is seldom easy and much more important than being popular. We only hope President Collins has the courage to do the right thing.