Looks like Texas is taking it to court. State governor Rick Perry and the US Justice Department began what could be a lengthy trial with a unique three-judge court this past Wednesday after the state sued the federal government in order to win approval for new district voting maps. The change would give Texas four additional seats in the House of Representatives, but Texan minorities are arguing that the boundaries created by the new districts discriminate against Latinos and would limit their voting power. Obama’s Justice Department claims to have significant evidence demonstrating that lawmakers in Texas took racial data into consideration when drawing the new district boundaries, and, as a result, Latinos are a distinct minority in all of the new districts.
Why so much federal interference in Texas? Because the state has a history that is marred by voter discrimination and is required under the 1965 Voting Rights Act to get permission from the federal government before making significant changes to anything voting-related. Nevertheless, many Texas officials, including Republican senator Kel Seliger, are calling such accusations hogwash and arguing that there is no sufficient evidence of discrimination. Seliger has chalked it up to the divisive political atmosphere that encourages Democrats to jump at the chance to knock down Republicans who are currently in the majority. As the back and forth continues, a San Antonio court is preparing for the possibility of having to design an entirely separate set of maps for the primaries in case the trial is not resolved by March.
And how are us non-Texans supposed to react to this finger pointing session from which we are physically so far removed? Should we be proud that Obama’s administration is keeping tabs on such discrimination? Or should we question if it’s a play of the race card in a game that was really only about getting Texas more seats in the House of Representatives? In some ways this trial plaguing one Southern state is a crystallization of much of the difficulties we as individuals face all across the country in the current political atmosphere. We can’t afford as Americans (and as humans) to let voting discrimination occur in any form, and it is our imperative as a nation to investigate these possibilities and ensure fair practices. But at the same time, there’s that uncomfortable nagging borne of partisan politics—that unsettling feeling that if our administration is doing the right thing, it’s not necessarily for the right reason. Whatever his motives, Seliger has a point: the blame game is a favorite in American politics, and there’s always a chance that this show of moral righteousness is a tool for the Democrats to keep the Republicans at bay. But while I think we’re right to question whom we can trust and do our best not to cry wolf when it comes to race, there’s a little something worth celebrating here, too. We don’t have to dig too far back in our country’s future to find a time when voting discrimination was simply the norm, and it’s a pretty good feeling to know we have an administration that isn’t letting that negative history repeat itself.
Article Source: http://www.npr.org/2011/11/02/141916779/court-to-decide-if-texas-voting-maps-discriminate
Image Source: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/vote-aqui.jpg
Much talk was generated after the passing of Steve Jobs. Many spoke of Job as a marketing genius and his innumerable contributions to Apple. Countless media outlets outlined his career and praised his accomplishments. His legacy remains evident through the youngster with white headphones that sound like loudspeakers and phones that became educated just to compete with the iPhone.
Given his prestige, it’s no surprise the German Lunor Classic Rund PP, the name of Jobs’ signature glasses, bumped up in sales after his death. In Hong Kong, Power Bloom, the Asian distributor of the glasses, placed them in a display case which read, “Steve Jobs 1955-2011: We have lost an ultimate genius. What he has left us are his overwhelming ideas and his favorite glasses.”
I chose to discuss this in this week’s news brief because it’s clear that Jobs’ passing is being used to a company’s advantage. Power Bloom’s marketing executive Garick Tsui was questioned about this; he responded, “People see these as a tribute to Mr. Jobs.” Good way to cover your ass, Tsui. I would be inclined to believing this wasn’t the work of an opportunist if I hadn’t seen this before.
After the death of Michael Jackson, his music could be heard from every speaker created. Fans were buying track after track, album after album; sales were shooting through the roof. This wasn’t a marketing scheme; Michael Jackson was a phenomenal artist whose musical prowess and dancing finesse created such a demand for his music. However, there were those who began publishing books and films in, what appeared to me, an attempt to dip their hands in the money pot.
Is there a line? When a great and influential figure passes and sales relating to that individual increase, what should be considered the work of an opportunist? But is it morally inacceptable to monopolize on the deceased? I understand that when people lose someone dear to them, they cling to the things that embody the one they have lost. But, really, Steve Jobs’ glasses?
-- Joel Cruz
Image Source: http://photos.appleinsider.com/jobsglasses-111104.jpg
Article Source: http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/11/04/steve_jobss_450_eyeglasses_a_hot_seller_following_death.html
Early Friday morning, six volunteers in the 15 million dollar Mars500 experiment walked out of their “spacecraft,” ending a 520-day long simulation of a journey to Mars. Just outside Moscow, the all-male crew cramped together for 17 months as an attempt to understand the physical and emotional toll of traveling to the fourth planet from the Sun. Upon “landing,” Italian-Colombian participant remarked “On this mission we’ve achieved the longest isolation ever so that humankind can go to a distant but reachable planet.”
An earlier 420-day simulation was cancelled in 2000 after a fistfight broke out amongst participants and one male participant attempted to kiss a female participant against her will. Perhaps this explains the all-male crew for the last simulation.
In these times of regressing public interest and support for space exploration and travel, how can this experiment function for us as citizens of the world, of the global society? Are the 17 months and 15 million dollars worth the trip to Mars? What exactly is the point of going to Mars? Just to say we’ve “done it?” Surely the psychological toll is immense—the participants of the Mars500 trial run will need pretty severe social and physical rehabilitation. After all the money spent and all the loneliness endured, can we look back and say it was worth it? Participant Romain Charles argued “Mars is the next logical step for human expansion.” What is so logical about a 15 million dollar, year-and-a-half long road trip to a desert?
Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/04/us-mars-isolation-odd-idUSTRE7A349220111104
Image source: http://i.space.com/images/i/5986/i02/vote-mars-landings-10-02.jpg?1294163306