Archive for February, 2013

“I’m Running!”

Posted: February 24, 2013 in News, Politics

Hilary Clinton has had speculation circling around her for quite some time now. Will she run for president in 2016 or not? All predictions say she will but she has not given a straight answer in any of her interviews or conversations with the media. There is a lot of support for her to run, but, if she chose to, she would meet a lot of tough questions to answer for. The biggest of all of the questions would be her involvement in the Benghazi incident. She has shown an ability to get people behind her and respond to the tough questions, but it would be an uphill climb.

Adding to both the humor and the speculation of her situation, a reporter recently asked her whether she would be in the presidential race for 2016. Specifically, the reporter asked, “Do you have time for a few quick questions about 2016?” Her response … “Not now, I’m running!” A little double entendre to poke fun a the reporter’s question and the constant questions she receives from every angle.

Whether she will actually run or not will remain to be seen (though she probably will), but it is good to see her as more personable than she may have been portrayed in the past.

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While football was originally how the world got to know him, Tim Tebow has made a bigger name for himself in the past year through his speaking arrangements at churches across the country. He has been regarded for his strength of faith, but many have also attached a target to his back and complained about his engagement with religion and its overflow into his media coverage. Tebow appears to be an honest Christian and the media is more of a side effect of his presence in the spotlight.

I believe that he takes a lot of flack for no real reason. I do not have to agree with his line of faith to respect him for his devotion to it. Now he has found himself in a situation where his speaking engagements have people questioning his faith yet again. He has gone to a number of churches that have identities for spouting out disapproval for and anger toward groups different from them. In particular, some of these churches have expressed very vocal opposition toward the LGBT community, Mormonism and the Muslim faith. When some of these concerns arose for a scheduled church appearance for April, the NFL was getting worried and Tebow had to make a tough decision. Although his speeches have focused on the qualities of being a good Christian, it was too much to continue keeping it on his schedule.

I applaud Tebow for making a good choice with how he wants to represent himself, but I think there may have also been some pressure from a couple outside sources that pushed him out of the engagement. As I said, I believe that he is honestly focused on good faith elements, but it has not stopped him from speaking at churches that have some hateful reputations. Whether he ever gets another chance to make an impact in the NFL will remain to be seen, but he has a chance to become quite the motivation speaker and just needs to take more of an effort to take better care of his reputation before he loses the innocence he has maintained up to this point.

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UMD Rocks the Flash Mob

Posted: February 19, 2013 in Basketball, College

There were two really big stories to come out of the University of Maryland on Saturday night: the Terps winning against top-ranked Duke and the student section’s coordinated dancing during two timeouts.

On the side of basketball, Maryland entered the game with a decent overall record but lacking quality wins (except for one of NC State back in January). The team has seemed like it has been on the verge of bursting into the competitive scene for weeks but has failed to win some of the highly needed games. Duke, on the other hand, was sitting with only 2 losses and has had a handful of quality wins outside of the conference (and losses to only ACC top-ranked Miami and NC State). The Blue Devils were ranked #2 in the AP and #1 with the RPI. To Maryland, it does not matter what the record is or what has been accomplished between the two teams. The Terps come to play when Duke enters Comcast, and this was going to be the last game between these 2 teams at Comcast prior to Maryland’s move to the Big Ten.

Alex Len was the focal point of the offense throughout the game, dominating the inside and allowing the Terps to box out/out-rebound the Blue Devils. Seth Allen was the second leading scorer but had to overcome 8 turnovers as he struggled to maintain the point. Dez Wells played balanced overall but was not a dominate force on offense and fouled out before the end of the game. On the other side, Seth Curry racked up the high score of the night of 25 points and the other guards also scored in double figures (Cook – 18, Sulaimon – 16). The surprise for the Terps was how well Len was able to keep Duke’s inside game uneasy, with Mason Plumlee failing to break 4 points. The Terps held on after a pair of free throws and a missed final shot at the buzz by Duke, but the Terps dominated the game with 60% shooting, double the rebounding (38-17) and getting to the line much more than the Blue Devils (25-34/15-21).

Now there was the flash mob. The students arrived in the arena over 3 hours prior to the game to grab their premium seats and learn the dance steps and songs to be used throughout the game. While this is something that normally teams like Duke do, Maryland decided to go big for this final game at Comcast with Duke in the ACC. During an extended timeout in the 1st half, the music started to play and the Turgeonites began to dance. All of a sudden, the rest of the student section burst out of their seats to the music and danced around like they were professionals. The fun returned in the 2nd half with the Harlem Shake. ESPN’s Around the Horn did an off-air bit while they watched the video posted by the school. It was quite a sight to see.

Author and inspiration for the book The Favored Daughter, Fawzia Koofi continues to rise in the spotlight of the Muslim world. It is extremely rare for a woman to gain such notoriety and high political status, but it was not so easy for her to get their as the title of her book would recommend. When she was born and her parents realized that she was a girl, they neglected her, believing that there was no real future for a young girl in the Muslim world. Eventually, that changed and her mother showered her with love and support. Still, she has had to battle through an ultra-conservative world and has had her life threatened on multiple occasions to reach her current position as a woman’s rights advocate and a member of the Parliament. She is now running for president for the 2014 Afghan election.

Check out her recent appearance on the Daily Show here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-13-2013/fawzia-koofi?xrs=share_copy

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After taking a break from the world of politics, I feel compelled to return to the fray of the insane and misguided. While few in Washington are putting forth solutions that make sense for everything ranging from hurricane relief to fixing the economy, the worst of the debates seem to be the ones focused on the right to bear arms. Gun owners and enthusiasts versus safety and security fanatics.

On a personal note, I fall more on the safety and security side of the debate, but there are extremes in every conflict, even when the rational solutions are relatively clear. After the shootings over the past year, the debate has emerged to the forefront of national discussion. This has not been without its radicals though. While most of the public and politicians have vocalized an interest in having a rational discussion over the issues and even revisiting policies that were originally created to make the gun trade safer, the loudest voices are the ones that have been derailing opportunities for real growth and positive change.

Let me start with the most absurd on the pro-gun side…

As absurd as it is for there to be a national holiday for gun appreciation, it was actually more absurd that it was associated with MLK Day when he stood for equal rights in a peaceful society. Larry Ward of FOX News was on-air when he proclaimed that slavery may not have been a chapter in America’s history had black people been allowed gun ownership during the early years of the colonies. Take a moment to let that sink in…Ships delivered men in chains to the colonies and slavery could have been avoided by allowing those trapped in bondage the opportunity to own guns? I think the face of the country would look drastically different had the colonists given their captives the means to fight back. This argument implies an outcome that is all circumstantial, hypothetical and completely outrageous.

Just as absurd was the recent argument that Jews would have been able to fight off Hitler had they been equipped with assault weapons during the Holocaust. Similar to Ward, it has been argued that Jews suffering from oppression would have had better luck than France and Russia fending off the Nazis. While it of course would have been a better situation for the Jews to have been able to better defend themselves and there is no telling how successful they could have been fighting off the Nazis, this is not Inglorious Basterds and we are speaking in hypotheticals again. This is not a worthwhile argument.

It has also been mentioned that Americans need to defend themselves from a government that wants to steal away all of their rights and run the economy into the toilet. While Obama may not be the savior of the US, he is also not the person trying to derail progress in the way the conservative movement has suggested. His policies have been met with massive opposition in the Congress to a point of gridlock. The House Republicans have threatened sequestration, stating their strong inability to agree on the direction laid out by the opposing party. There are fundamental differences in the party platforms but not to an extent that has been painted in a desire to weaken or destroy the country’s current degree of stability. There is no government-issued attack on its people coming and no need for some sort of revolution. So what is the real threat?

Guns themselves are not the problem. People are and have always been. The reality is that the guns are dangerous tools that can be used to protect and to destroy lives. In the hands of individuals with mental instability or ill-intent, tragedy is almost a given. Where is disagree with the gun lobbyists is that everyone owning a gun makes me feel less secure than less people owning weapons. If everyone was carrying around a concealed weapon, I would be more cautious of the possibility that anyone could snap and feel compelled to use their tool of pain to end a life without hesitation. While I know that people would not be killing each other left and right, the idea of guns flowing freely out there does not make me feel safer.

Assault weapons are definitely a bigger issue than handguns, in that one is meant for use in war zones and the other is low capacity. The idea that assault weapons are collectables or can be purchased with ammo for regular citizens to own seems awfully scary. In the recent tragedies at Sandy Hook, Aurora, California and Arizona, assault weapons were accessible to the assailants and multiple lives were lost in each incident. It may be an extremely small percentage of people who fall into this scary category, but one individual can make a huge impact if given access to the right tools. Restricting access to assault weapons seems like a no-brainer. Some people can handle a handgun or a shotgun, much less a semi or fully automatic rifle.

I hope that the combination of the recent tragedies and public nature of this issue at the moment bring about some real revision of the government’s stance on gun control. There are hundreds of policies out there at both a federal and state level that are being blocked by dummy legislation or ultra conservative views that ignore the evolving nature of society from the original colony’s development of the Bill of Rights. Let’s take the time to reflect on what we’ve blocked or misused and find ways to be more mindful of creating a safe and supportive community.