Monday, September 30, 2013

DPS Issuing Election IDs (San Marcos)


2. Category of issue: Election Identification

3. Level: Local (San Marcos)/ State

4. This article is talking about the issuing of election identification certificates (EIC) for the up and coming elections. These are necessary for people that do not have another form of identification that is acceptable for a casting ballot.

5. How does this affect individuals/families?
 People that do not have another form of identification acceptable for the election will now be able to vote. Those people have a chance to give there vote and have a voice in the community.

6. My Views:
Under the law set in 2011, all citizens must have some form of identification to vote. This creates an issue for those people that, for whatever reason, do not have the correct form of ID. I think that by giving everyone the opportunity to get an ID will be a positive thing. This will allow everyone to have a voice. Not everyone in our community has the necessary forms or identification to vote and I think it is important that everyone that wants to, gets the option to vote. By law, we as citizens have the right to vote for who we want in to lead us and I think it is only fair that everyone has an equal opportunity. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Exxon to offer benefits to same-sex couples in US

Week 4, Article 3

2.     Category: Marriage rights
3.     Level: National
4.     This new benefit concerns same sex spouses.
5.     The article explains how Exxon now has healthcare benefits for same sex spouses. They changed their policy after The Labor Department said the old policy goes against the American law.
6.     Exxon is the last of oil companies to change their policy so same sex spouses can receive benefits that other marriages get. They may have only made the change because of the Labor Department and because they were receiving a series of complaints but at least the change was made. The article stated that they were really “dragging their feet” when it came to changing the policy. Regardless of the reason of why it took them so long, I’m glad they finally made benefits available for all married couples. Having companies update their policy to include benefits for people of same sex marriages shows that we are all moving forward to accept and appreciate everyone.  

Advocates File Lawsuit to Block Abortion Restrictions

Week 4, Article 2

2.     Category: Health/medical
3.     Level: State
4.     This concerns women across the state that wants or need abortions.
5.     These new regulations on abortion will make it more difficult for women to have the procedure and the abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit to block the restrictions.
6.     I think the restrictions are meant to ultimately get rid of abortion all together, which the article mentions. The new law claims to want to make the hospitals safer but there were hardly any infractions that were serious enough to be fined. There are hospitals in Lubbock, Fort Worth, Waco, and other cities that will be cut off because of the new law. There are only six facilities that meet the requirements in the whole state and it will make women have to travel further and spend more money to have the procedure. I don’t think closing down facilities will reduce the number or stop women from getting abortions. They will just travel further or even worse, try to terminate pregnancies themselves. I think it’ll create more problems if the restrictions aren’t blocked. 

U.N. Security Council unanimously passes Syria chemical weapons resolution

Week #4
Article #3
1.     Category of problem: Politics
2.     Level of problem: Worldwide
3.     This article concerns: Syria giving up their chemical weapons
4.     Importance/effect on families/individuals: This article concerns everyone across the globe since chemical weapons can be used anywhere against individuals. The U.N. passed a resolution for Syria to surrender their weapons, therefore if Syria does not comply with the resolution there will be consequences affecting not only people in Syria but also people in countries nearby and people in the United States.

My input:  In this article, it is stated that the U.N. has confirmed the following resolution for Syria, Syria “shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons,” or transfer them to others. After this resolution was passed, weapon inspectors are entering Syria next week to dismantle and audit Syria’s stockpile. In my opinion this resolution that was passed is better than Obama’s previous plan to declare war to Syria. This resolution will not affect many individuals as a war would and it will benefit many people in Syria. Even though penalties have not been discussed yet, the U.N.’s resolution is the first step to a good outcome after this horrific event.

Lawsuit filed to block Texas abortion law

Week #4
Article #2
1.     Category of problem: Politics/Health
2.     Level of problem: State
3.     This article concerns: Blocking the new abortion laws in Texas
4.     Importance/effect on families/individuals: This article concerns women in the state of Texas because the new laws are very strict and many clinics have been shutdown by the government, therefore women have very limited options when facing a situation involving abortion.

My input: In this article, a suit against the new abortion laws in the state of Texas is discussed. The Whole Woman’s Health clinic along with other health clinics are trying to intervene with the new law that Doctors of several clinics around the state have to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital and abide to new regulations with abortion induced drugs. These clinics are filing a lawsuit because these new regulations will affect many women throughout the state, especially women from lower income families or rural areas because it will be harder to find a legal established clinic that will be able to help them. In my opinion, the new law has some ideas to it that are good, but instead of closing down all these clinics, the government should perhaps fund these clinics and have them in better conditions for women that live in any area of the state.

Texas: Highest Uninsured Rate in the Nation


2. Category of issue: Uninsured Rates

3. Level: National

4. This article shares about the issue of Texas having the highest uninsured rate. It has reached to highest in the nation.

5. How does this affect individuals/families?
- Uninsured families in Texas are suffering because of this. They will not be able to see doctors or get medication that may need to keep in a healthy state.

6. My Views:
- The fact that Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation is a huge problem. But even more disappointing is the fact that we have the highest number of children not covered by health insurance. Just as John Davidson was saying in the article, I think that our nation has focused far too much on the word insurance rather than the actual problem at hand, health. Just having insurance does not automatically mean they have good health care. People need to know what the benefits of having health insurance are. It has become clear to me that some families might think it is not realistic to spend their money on health insurance. And that they could use their money for other things. But in reality it would be smart of them to have insurance because in case that they need medical attention, they would not have to worry about the extra expenses that come along with illness. In the long run it would be helpful to those families. I think that it would be a good idea for the state to consider some type of help for underprivileged families. Even if this is not under the Affordable care act, they need to find a way to make it more affordable for low-income families to have health insurance of some kind.
1.  Individuals will Define Obamacare's Fate 
Kliff, Sarah.(2013, September 25). Individuals will define Obamacare's Fate. Washington Post. 

2. Category of Problem: Health/medical 

3. Level of problem: National Level 

4. The article concerns: Health care reform is for definite becoming the law of the land. Now many Americans are worried as to what health insurance they will qualify for and if they can still keep their own. Hospitals are worried the government will demand more kind of care to provide for the new patients being able to afford health care now. The issue raises concern, will there be enough doctors to help many more patients coming into the hospitals? Will those on an insurance policy already have to pay more or even keep the same doctor. Bottom line is now those who enroll into the markeplace will be the ones to truly determine if in fact the new health care reform is adequate enough to provide an affordable and reliable insurance.

5. How does it affect individuals? 
 It affects those who are both not insured and uninsured, because there are still questioning as to what will happen to both sides. It has many Americans worried that they will not have proper health care or dislike the new markeplace choices of policy. Individuals who sign up  leaves them in skeptic as to if they made a good choice to change their policy. Overall the new health reform will change many individuals view point within the next months to see if it is a works or fails.

6. What are your views on the issue?
Overall I am very confused with the health care reform only because there has not been much news or campaigns to actually see what will take place. The only reason I know of the marketplace was because I did hours of research through the website to see what the new law entailed. Even then I do not know if the website was 100% accurate. I know October 1st will start so much confusion with employers about what will take place. I actually received a letter today from my job about the marketplace and information about which insurance was suitable. Though for mine there was not much information about in detail of the marketplace, but it did mention the link was a website to get more information. Overall, I am ready to see how the Affordable Care Act will do, I hope definitely hoping for the best! 

Toxic green slime in U.S. waters

1. Darryl Fears. (26 Sept 2013) Report: Polluted farm runoff linked to toxic green algae slime in U.S. waters. The Washington Post.
2. Category: Environment
3. Level: National
4. About: Manure and pesticide runoff produces toxic algae that is ruining marine life and has killed one human and 20 pets.
5. Who this concerns: Everyone should be concerned. Once the algae gets into the ocean it can potentially go anywhere. The people in direct contact with the Mississippi River should be the most concerned since its contaminated the water supply and now the people are forced to pay to have their water plant cleaned. New York, Iowa, Oregon, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and California are states reporting the most pollution.

6. My thoughts:  This isn’t breaking news. We have known for a long time that the pesticides we spray all over our crops run off the plants, into the soil, the rivers, and eventually the ocean.  They kill marine life and create these “dead zones” and surprisingly we still allow it. We have a look the other way policy when it comes to pesticides. The Big Ag lobbyists have the control and the freaks are the people that actually care enough to buy organic produce. One boy was killed by cyanobacteria so it’s not that big of a deal yet. We can still blame the bacteria and not the source of the bacteria which is the pesticide runoff. Without pesticides, we wouldn’t have this problem. What we are still unaware of is the long term effect of what pesticides do when consumed by humans. Lots of illnesses are on the rise like autism and depression. People are worse off now than they were before we started mono-culturing and mass producing only a few crops. That’s not the way nature intended it to be. If nature doesn’t like the way something is being done, she will find a way to destroy the problem and in this case, people are the problem. The other day one of my professors said this, “The earth’s fine, it’s the people that are screwed.”

TCEQ Approves Permit for Big North Texas Reservoir

Week 4, Article 1

 2. Category: Environment
3.    Level: State
4.     This concerns people who live in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. The article talks about a proposition to build a reservoir because water supply is becoming a concern.
5.     This policy has a hefty price tag to build this reservoir, about $300-$500 million dollars. The water rates would be higher in order to pay for it and it’s something that residents don’t want to have to pay for but water supply is low and is expected to be even more of a trouble in several years.
6.     My first thought with this is if water conservation is even being practiced. Then I read the article and it stated that the North Texas region hasn’t been a great example of water conservation. I feel like water schedules might help, and the article also mentioned that a rebate program for water-efficient appliances should be enforced and that seems like a good idea to me. It’s inevitable that the water supply will be more of a concern but dropping $300-$500 million dollars is a lot and people don’t want to pay higher water rates. And again, having low water supply will be inevitable in the future so it might as well be built if it’s going to be needed later. With the area expected to grow something proactive needs to be done.

Senators push bill to end phone record collection

2. Category of Issue: Personal Privacy

3. Level: National

4. Senators are pushing to end the phone record collection by enacting a bill.

5. I do not think that people like the idea of the government going through their emails, messages and listening to their phone calls. This invades their privacy and makes them feel like they are always being watched. Having Senators enact on trying to end the bill is a good thing for individuals because they may feel as though the government is listening to their concerns on trying to secure their privacy.

6. I understand that having the NSA going through messages is just a way for them to monitor terrorism, but I do not like the fact that it invades people’s privacy. I don’t think that anything I say should matter to the government, because they are "personal" phone calls. Just because the government does a random sample of Verizon customers does not mean that the in fact "terrorist" they are trying to find isn't a Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T or some other phone provider customer. I think that Senators trying to end the collection is in fact a good idea because it affects personal privacy and will make people feel like maybe their privacy is being restored. 

The end of poverty, soon

1. category of issue: poverty

2. level of issue: national

3. this article concerns: This article concerns everyone in my opinion. Optimists believe that our generation is the generation that could officially end extreme poverty by the year 2030.

4. how does this effect individuals/families?: Individuals are becoming more aware of the poverty level in our nation and are beginning to make a change that will potentially help lower the poverty rate. Since more American's are becoming aware and trying to make those changes necessary to decrease those numbers, it effects our nation as a whole and unites our country to end one of the most concerning issues we have ever faced.

5. my views:
I believe that this issue is something that more American's needed to be aware of. I have always been biased to this issue because I have always believed and been taught that if you wanted something bad enough you needed to work for it. But after reading articles related to this topic, like this one, and learning about poverty in this class, I have learned that it is more of a vicious cycle and is extremely hard to come out of whether we work for it or not. I believe that if American's want to make a positive change to this issue it is going to take an entire nation working together to make that change. We all need to help out one another in any way we can. A lot of this issue stems from health and education. Countries like Africa have seen a decline in mortality rates in children from 177 per 1,000 to 98 per 1,000. While this number is significantly lower it is still too high, according to this article and I agree.  I believe these numbers are a reflection of people being more aware of what is going on in the world and trying to help the situation. The real test will be if these type of numbers can decline all over the world and in our nation in particular until poverty is completely gone. Health and education need to be a main priority in my opinion to  really make an effect on poverty. It starts with health and reflects in the education these people receive.

Unlikely Debate on Gay Rights in California Town


2. Category of Issue: Gay Rights

3. Level: Local

4. This article concerns families and individuals in the Poterville community who fight for and against gay rights and in turn represent the nation in the issues rising over gay rights. 

5. How does this affect individuals/families?
      - This article affects families and individuals in many ways. Those who are fighting for gay rights are taken back at the fact that one of their city council members was fired for trying to sign a proclamation in favor of gay rights. The community of Poterville seemed seriously disturbed that she would think this would be okay. This can affect this community by now overlooking serious issues due to the fact that they are focusing so hard on something that should not be an issue.

6. My views
      - I think this article is absolutely ridiculous for several different reasons. One of them being that gay rights is even an issue. I hate that just because one of the city council members of this small California town wanted to sign a proclamation that stated that June would be the month for gay pride she got out voted and taken over by another mayor. This is crazy to me. I understand that everyone has their beliefs and their own religions and I 100% respect that, but the fact that some of those people don't respect these "gay people's" choices is hypocritical in themselves. Whether someone believes in homosexuality or not we are all people and everyone should respect everyone. Which brings me to my next point.  Hamilton, who replaced Gurrola as Mayor even stated himself that he opposed this proclamation because he thought "the gay proclamation is about everybody being gay when in reality everyone is much more than that." To me this is basically him saying I don't agree with the proclamation without him really saying I don't agree with the proclamation. Another question for this statement then is why do we have black history month? Or celebrate any specific month for a certain reason then? Are we defined by our race, our sexuality, or ethnicity, our social cultures, or a mixture of them all as Hamilton contradictory claims himself? If, as Hamilton says, we don't define each other as ones sexual preferences and we are so much more than that then why is this issue such an issue throughout not only Porterville, but our entire nation. Another issue with this article is the line between state and church. In this city council meeting they used to discuss these issues, it turned more into then preaching than them discussing. These things, among a couple others made me stop throughout the article and re-read I was in such disbelief at some of the things being said. It makes me sad that even to this day in time people can be so judgmental on others and cause such dramatic issues when we have so many other things to be worrying about at the local, state, or federal level. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The End of Poverty, Soon

Week #4 Article #1


2. Category of Issue: Poverty

3. Level of Issue: National

4. This article concerns: More and more people are dreaming of a world free of poverty. The committee of the World Bank set the goal of ending extreme poverty by the year 2030. They believe that ours is the generation that could be able to end extreme poverty. Every 10 years the countries below the poverty line has been declining sharply.

5. How does this affect families/ individuals?: This affects everyone rich or poor in some sort of way. It affects the rich and middle class in the way that just knowing that our country can be free of poverty gives a sense of relief. It can affect the poor even more, knowing that they have the ability to get out of poverty will help them and their families have a better and healthier lifestyle without having the daily struggles.

6. My views: I think that this is awesome that our generation can have the ability to help end extreme poverty. This affects Africa a lot because they are struggling more than us in poverty and health. The mortality rate of the children under 5 is decreasing but not as much as we hope it would. We just need to figure out a way to ensure that there is progress on the health and poverty such as having clean water and sewerage. The growth rate has picked up which is a major reason why poverty is declining, which is good, because without economic growth there cannot be gains in things like health which plays an important role in poverty. I feel really strongly about this topic because one day I hope to say that I was in the generation that eliminated extreme poverty. I think that this will excite others who are currently in poverty or know people who are because it gives them the hope that one day they wont have to go day to day having to search for food or live on the streets anymore. I think that its going to take a lot more work that just hoping to get rid of poverty, but I think in the end it can be done. If we do succeed at ending extreme poverty this will help with mortality rates and also health overall will be a lot better. It saddens me that there are people out there that can't even afford to eat a meal, especially all the hungry kids in Africa in which some don't even have families. Hopefully as we move on into the future there will be less and less families and individuals struggling with extreme poverty and have a chance to be healthier and not starve anymore.

U.S. to Contact Borrowers With New Options for Repaying Student Loans

Week 4 Article #2 

1. Lewin, Tamar. U.S to Contact Borrowers With New Options for Repaying Student Loans
(2013, September 24). New York Times 

2. Category of Issue: Education

3. Level of Issue: National 

4. This article concerns: 
There is an increase in the number of student loan borrowers who are going into default on their payments. Starting next month, the Department of Education will contact borrowers who are struggling to repay their federal loans to make sure they know all the options available to them.

5. How does this affect families/individuals?
This affects many student loan borrowers because there are a lot of people who could benefit from income-based repayment programs but haven’t signed up, and it is necessary for them to do so before they default on their student loan payments. 

6. What are your views?

There are many student loan borrowers who are sitting with a lot of debt after graduation, that they owe back to the government. As of right now student debt is at $1.1 trillion and there is an effort from the Obama administration to make college affordable for students. There are new programs now being created for low-income student loan borrowers to enroll into such as the Pay as You Earn program for recent grads and a simplified enrollment process such as putting it online and to allow applicants to import information from their tax return. Once you are enrolled into a program, low income borrowers with a lot of debt will pay a percentage of their income every month and after a certain time such as 20 years in the program, 25 years in the older plans and 10 years to those working in public service jobs and the remaining of the debt will be forgiven by the government.
College tuition is very expensive to pay for and after graduation students are piled up with student debt that they have to pay back, so by allowing them to enroll into programs like these will make it a little bit more easier to pay back their loan without defaulting on it. The Department of Education need to make a better effort into contacting those borrowers who will most likely benefit from such programs and they need to explain debt relief plans based on the borrower’s income. I wish that the Department would allow all borrowers to enroll into these programs rather than just the low-income borrowers, but the good thing is that at least they are starting somewhere to offer assistance!

For Low-Income Students Considering College, a Nudge to Aim High

Week 4 Article #1

1. (Leohardt,David). For Low-Income Students Considering College, a Nudge to Aim High
   (2013, September 25) New York Times 

2. Category of Problem: Education

3. Level of Problem: National

4. This article concerns: 
 The group that administers the SAT has begun a nationwide outreach program to try to persuade more low-income high school seniors who scored high on standardized tests to apply to select colleges.

5. Why is this article important?
This article is important because many low income families whose children attend high school and have SAT scores in the top 15 percent of test takers will receive pacakages of information sent by the College Board to inform students about appyling to the top colleges and will include application fee waivers to six colleges of their choice. 
The program is a wonderful program to help low income students with high test scores to apply to college, but many of those students do not apply or don't even attend so this will be a good way to communicate to students about applying and attending college after graduating high school.

6. What are your views?

 I feel that what the College Board is planning on doing is a wonderful and great idea to help low income students get the help they need when it comes to applying to top colleges. Many students that come from a poor financial background don't think they are able to make it into college because they feel money is what's holding them back. But by receiving a package from the College Board that offers free waivers on application fees to and each packet will contain information about admissions, financial aid and graduation rates and advice about applying to college is something necessary for many low income students to better understand the process of applying to college and what else is expected to come there way. I believe this is a fantastic way to encourage them to apply to college quite honesty. The cost of application fees is any where from $45-$65 that can it add up when you are applying to more than one school. I also like the idea that the College Board is planning on creating a program to help low income minority students to take AP classes while in high school to help them prep for classes that they will take in college.  Usually for low-income minorities AP exams cost anywhere from $10 to having it absolutely free for them to take. It is nice to see that there are some programs out there that are willing to help minorities get a good education and that they want to see them succeed in college!