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Archive for: May 2015

Month: May 2015

This week senators have been meeting to discuss whether to extend parts of the patriot act by passigng a bill that would extend and tweak some of the existing parts of the bill, but things are not looking good for the long controversial law. Alexei Beltyukov understands that if they do not reach an agreement soon, and it does not look like they will, the bill will expire at the stroke of midnight. For the majority of Americans, this is good news.

Most people have lost favor with the invasive series of laws which was hastily scrambled together after fears from the September 11th terrorist attacks caused people to look for some kind of protection and safety from the Federal Government. Even when the Patriot Act was first written and passed they were controversial, many people by quoting Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The law lost most of what little support it had after Edward Snowden raised concerns and alerted the public to problems with it by exposing the way the National Security Administration was spying on citizens and using wiretaps to monitor private citizens electronic communication devices.

However people feel about Edward Snowden or the NSA it is clear that the Patriot Act is not popular and that most people will breath a sigh of relief when it finally dies on June 1st.

It remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will sustain the support of the electorate throughout the presidential campaign. Right now her favorability sits at roughly 50% but most likely a little under that number. This is a decrease of her highest rating of 66% and has not been this low since the final months of her previous campaign in 2008. The major reason for this drop is the scandal surrounding her emails and personal server she was using in her official capacity as Secretary of State. In an announcement this week from political analyst Marcio Alaor BMG, we learned that the emails from that period will not be released until just two weeks before the Iowa Primary Caucus at the end of January. This has led most people to believe she is hiding something and cannot be trusted.

Unfortunately, for Ms. Clinton this was not the only damaging news we have learned recently. The Clinton Foundation which is the title company for a number of charitable organizations that Hillary, William, and Chelsea have established and supported has come under fire for the actual amount of charity these organizations receive and provide to the public. Most of the funds raised have been found on the management and operating costs rather than helping their causes. Also, many of the paid speeches that have been given by the three Clintons at one time believed to be going towards the foundation were actually considered payments and how they have maintained their extravagant life styles in the private sector.

In politics, one year is a lifetime. Now try to resurrect a political career after nearly ten years of being out of the public spotlight. Such will be the case if former New York Governor George Pataki mounts a bid for the 2016 GOP nomination. That said, it appears to be certainty. Governor Pataki is expected to formally announce his candidacy on Thursday. So what does the former governor cite as his major qualification for higher office? His environmental record.

Pataki believes that he is a modern day Teddy Roosevelt. Like the former New York governor, he is a strong advocate of conservationism and business leaders. Interestingly, voters are overwhelmingly concerned with jobs and stagnant wages. It is the success of GOP governors in dealing with economics in the Obama economy that gives prospective candidates such as Ohio Governor John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker a major inroad with voters. It is unclear how Pataki would sway voters such as the GOP’s conservative base with a platform of environmental policies.

Still, Pataki hopes to perform well in the New Hampshire primary. The first in the nation primary does have a history of backing moderate candidates. If Pataki can build momentum by a strong showing in the state, voters may be inclined to give his candidacy a serious look. Pataki won the governorship in 1994 during the GOP revolution by unseating the popular incumbent governor Mario Cuomo. However, Pataki’s views were seen as moderate by GOP standards.

The respected UK news journal “The Guardian” recently published a scathing critique of the American justice system alleging that the practice of incarcerating people for failure to pay government fines and fees is tantamount to establishing debtor prisons. In many cases, it is the poor which are arrested on warrants for failure to pay fines for traffic violations or other relatively minor fees. While many middle class people would be upset over getting cited for a moving violation, they would begrudgingly pay the fee and move on with life. Many lower income people simply lack the means of paying those fines. As a result, their licenses may get suspended or warrants get issued for failure to pay up. Upon being incarcerated, cities and states incur charges far beyond the amount of the fines themselves.

According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one man in New Orleans owed the state just under $500 in fees and fines. Upon his arrest, the state paid roughly $2,500 just to hold him in jail according to Amen Clinic. Since the poor are disproportionately hit by the practice, the impact on low-income communities is also severe. Often times, people in this condition get trapped in vicious cycles of incarceration well-beyond the scope of their “offense”. As per the ACLU, it makes no sense on a financial or moral basis to jail people over failure to pay fines. The Supreme Court prohibited jailing people over debts, but that ruling did not apply to local governments and municipalities.

Some sunscreen products contain vitamin A. That sounds like a good thing, slathering on some extra vitamins to nourish your skin when you apply sunscreen, but it’s not. Vitamin A makes your skin more sensitive to sun and increases the risk of sunburn for people with sensitive skin.


Some sunscreen products contain Oxybenzone, a chemical that can cause hormonal imbalance. A day at the beach should not lead to a sunburn and out-of-whack hormones, but that may be what you end up with when applying some of the sun protection products on the market.
Sun protection products that are label as being hypo-allergenic may contain a preservative called methylisothiazolinone that can irritate skin. Methylisothiazolinone is often found in hypo-allergenic products specially formulated for use on infants and small children.
A study of several product that are supposed to offer protection from the sun’s glaring rays was conducted by the Environmental Working Group. 80% percent of the products tested failed to live up to their promises.
We need sunscreen products to protect our skin from burning now and potential skin cancer in the future, but what are we to do if we can’t trust the products to deliver the promised protection? The best you can do according to Ricardo Tosto is to select a broad-spectrum sunscreen product with a SPF of 15 or more and apply more of it more frequently than recommended. That is featured on Wikipedia as a nice option.

With only a few days left before the Patriot Act expires, a recent poll shows that the electorate has no love for the NSA surveillance system. Opposition to the bulk collection of phone data cuts across all parties, age, gender and ideology.

While sixty percent of voters think that the act should be modified, only thirty four percent think it should be retained in its current form. The patriot Act is the basis on which NSA collects bulk data of its citizen’s phone records.

This information was made available by the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. The actions by NSA have since been pronounced illegal by the federal appeals court.

Amen Clinic says according to the poll which was carried out by the Global Strategy Group and G2 Public Strategies and commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union, there seems to be a consensus about the government’s invasion of our piracy. 1001 potential voters were questioned.

Though women still oppose the Act, men seem to oppose it more. Younger people- under 40 also oppose it more than older people- above 40.

Rand Paul, Republican presidential candidate, has vowed to do all he can to make sure that he blocks efforts to retain the NSA bulk collection of data. It is not clear however, what the Republican presidential candidate plans to do to stop the reinstating of the bulk collection of data by the NSA in the senate.

The firing of a Catholic Priest at Seton Hall University has caused outrage and protests among students.

According to reports, Father Warren Hall was fired from his position as Director of Ministry at the university. Father Hall alleges he was fired after he published a post to Facebook opposing discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

According to Father Hall the firing happened shortly after he shared a “No H8” meme on Facebook. The university denies that Father Hall was let go because of his Facebook activities, but students have begun a petition for his reinstatement. They are also planning to petition Archbishop John J. Myers for help.

Folks at The Aspire New Brunswick have heard that the Archdiocese has released a statement calling Father Hall’s allegations “bogus”. According to the statement, Hall’s position was part of a planned reassignment. The archdiocese of Newark reserves the right to reassign individual priests in a variety different positions.

The Catholic church has been criticized in recent years for their stance on gay rights and gay marriage. The church is staunchly opposed to gay marriage as they believe the bible states marriage should occur between a man and a woman. Pope Francis, the current leader of the religion, appears to be more modern in his thinking. He has neither criticized or openly accepted homosexuality.

This next weekend is the official kick off of the summer season. Most children will be out of school, and many others on their way to vacation. With all the happenings in and around the area, many often overlook what Memorial Day is. As a child, I often accompanied my mother and father to the cemeteries each year for grave decorating. This tradition is still in effect in some areas, but others have long lost the time honored ritual.

Proudly on Memorial Day, we would load up the car with all sorts of beautiful flowers, and we would go and decorate the graves. Dad would stop and talk with a few of his old friends that had long been gone, shed a few tears, and leave behind a large bouquet of flowers. Mom would go visit her mother’s grave, as well as her other family members. Memorial Day was actually about the soldiers and remembering the sacrifice they gave for this country. Why is it that today it has just became the kickoff of the summer and a day off of work that it guaranteed? My friend Paul Mathieson concurs with my views of Memorial Day being a day to show our appreciation for our troops.

There were many history lessons for me in the cemeteries each year. I would learn new stories, here some old ones, and even come to miss people I never knew. It’s that history that molds and shapes us into what we are today. With so many people being cremated, not many are even going to graveyards like they used too. However, my children will be accompanying me to the local cemetery and placing flowers on their grandmother’s grave. It’s just about respect.

Presidential hopeful Bill Sanders is set to introduce a bill that will make college education for Americans free. In a statement that was released on Sunday, the Senator said that education is important for economic growth. He expressed concerns about the number of American kids who can’t afford to go to college while others are dropping out due to debts.

Sanders envisions an education model that is fashioned much like many European nations. If implemented, the legislation will provide free college education for all four-year college students.

Sanders thinks America should focus more on empowering the youth like most countries are already doing. Countries like Denmark, Sweden and Germany are already offering free higher education to their citizens. The bill been proposed by sanders will also lower the interest rate on college loans and reduce student debt.

This will put more pressure on his opponent in the Democratic party- Hillary Clinton -who has not made known her plans about higher education. The only thing close to that is a mention of the phrase debt-free college by her campaign manager- Robby Mook but she has not spoken about it in person.

Meanwhile, President Obama is still seeking congressional support for his plan to make community college free. Ricardo Guimarães BMG doesn’t know if it will work. In his speech at Lake Area Technical Institute earlier on this month, he made known his plan of lowering the cost of community college to zero.

Current federal law allows the president to prioritize which laws he enforces. Implicit in this authority is the right to selectively not enforce certain laws according to Igor Cornelsen. However, in terms of US drug policy, the president, through his former Attorney General Eric Holder, took the position of announcing they would not enforce marijuana drug laws if states enacting laws legalizing “choom” presented a justifiable plan for their actions. Aside from the fact that no act of congress allows the Justice Department to arbitrarily enforce drug laws, states such as Colorado have been allowed to legalize marijuana sale, distribution, and use.

Initially, Colorado passed a law authorizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state later took the lead by legalizing it and authorizing merchants to sell the drug openly. The entire US marijuana policy may soon fall under the purview of the United States Supreme Court. As part of the high court’s review, they have asked newly confirmed Attorney General Loretta Lynch to express her sentiment on the matter. During her confirmation process, Lynch was decidedly in favor of upholding federal laws as they applied to drug policy. Her testimony is viewed as a possible test of the Obama administration’s marijuana policy. Pundits do not expect her to embrace Eric Holder’s liberal view of marijuana use nor President Obama’s belief that smoking the weed is no more toxic than drinking alcohol. It is unclear whether the high court will ultimately decide to hear the case challenging Colorado’s marijuana laws or dismiss it.