The Independent

Amendment 49, Unclear and Poorly Defined

October 31, 2012


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By Alice Medenwald – Contributing Alumni Writer On November 6, voters of the State of Illinois will be asked to vote on HJRCA49 (House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 49) an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. Few voters know anything about this amendment, though the state has sent...

A Fight To Take Back The Night

October 31, 2012


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By Emily Haddad – Editor-in-Chief NEIU’s annually-occuring ‘Take Back The Night’ event was hosted by the Feminist Collective on October 23. The event attracted so many participants that it was moved from SU 214 to the Golden Eagles Room. This year’s Take Back The Night had four guest...

The Wii U: Nintendo’s next console

October 17, 2012


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By Luis Badillo – Staff Writer A new video game console generation is about to begin. The Wii U, the successor to the Wii, is coming out in time for the holiday season. With the new console comes a new set of features to set it apart from its current competition, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. The main distinction will be the Wii U's "Game Pad", a duel joystick controller with 4 face buttons and a 6.2 inch touch screen in the center. The Gamepad will have motion sensing capabilities, and will be programmable to function with most TV set top boxes as a television remote. The system is also compatible with any Wii's MotionPlus controllers. The Gamepad's touch screen is a first for the company. Nintendo President, Saturo Iwata, has gone on record that the company will encourage "asymmetrical gameplay" design with the Game Pad. "Wii U makes asymmetric gameplay possible, which means the role of a player using the Wii U Game Pad is different from the other players using the conventional Wii Remote controllers" said Iwata in an annual report. Nintendo has demonstrated this philosophy with Nintendo Land, a game that will be released on the same day as the Wii U. Nintendo Land is a collection of Nintendo franchise themed minigames that are designed around the touch screen. One such minigame, Mario Chase, demonstrated how a player with the Wii U gamepad could navigate a large maze with an overhead view, while four other players viewing the TV screen can use Wii remotes to chase the first player around. Another mini game, Metroid Blast, had two players equipped with laser guns attempting to shoot down a spaceship controlled by the person with the Wii U gamepad. Nintendo has also loaded several new online features to attract gamers this holiday season. Miiverse is a social network built right into the console. It allows Wii U owners to share thoughts on games, help other players stuck on the same game you're playing, or just share status updates. The Miiverse will also be accessible through web browsers, as well as mobile devices. Nintendo TVii is another new service provided by Nintendo that will work in conjunction with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, and TiVo. Wii U aggregates content from all of the services and makes them available right from your console. Wii U games will also be available through the Nintendo eShop, a service which will allow users to purchase and download digital versions of Wii U titles. These services are free and are available on the launch date. There will be two models will available for purchase. The basic model will come with a console, Game Pad, basic connection cables, and 8 gigabytes of internal storage. The "deluxe" comes with all the contents of the basic package, along with 32 gigabytes of internal storage, a Game Pad cradle, a copy of Nintendo Land, and enrollment in premium service on Nintendo Direct, which will reward users with redeemable points based on purchases. The basic and deluxe packs will be $299 and $349 respectively. There will be 23 games available on launch day, including New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, Nintendo Land, Assassin’s Creed 3, ZombiU, SiNG Party, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The Wii U will be available on Nov. 18, 2012....

The JET Programme

October 17, 2012


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By Michael Seidman – Contributing Writer The Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme has distinguished itself among a gamut of “teach English abroad” programs as one of the largest and most widely recognized of its kind since 1987. With more than 4,000 participants representing 40 countries, the program’s stated objective is to promote what its organizers call “grassroots internationalization,” or in layman’s terms, to foster greater understanding and exchange between program participants and the humble citizens of Japan. Each year, hundreds of eager college graduates—having survived a long application process—are flown to Tokyo by the Japanese government. After a brief orientation, the students are whisked off to schools and offices throughout the country where they will work for one to five years as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), Coordinators of International Relations (CIRs) or Sports Education Advisors (SEAs). JET remains a highly competitive and popular choice among the ever-increasing number of college graduates looking to spend a year abroad. With the American economy still sputtering, a year working overseas appeals to many as a convenient alternative to gain professional experience while raking in a steady income. The program requires a Bachelor’s Degree in any subject and the native English-speaking ability most of us acquire by the age of 4. Of arguably equal value to the yen earned on JET is the time and mental space afforded to participants. Many credit their time on JET with helping them hone in on professional interests. And while some JETs do inherit excessive class schedules or work responsibilities, a vast majority report having enough on-the-job free time to pursue independent interests while in Japan such as applying to graduate school or working on a novel. The enticing pay and employment benefits are not to be overlooked either. As public employees of the Japanese government, JETs are compensated generously, with a starting salary of 3.36 million yen (about $42,800) during their first year, with pay increases available to those who renew. JETs also receive private insurance coverage, which supplements Japan’s national system and jointly covers close to 100% of medical expenses. JETs can rely on an extensive safety net of peer advisors, counselors and a national support system to handle the inevitable culture shock and other surprises that arise with living in a foreign culture. Most of all, the JET Programme offers a truly immersive Japanese experience compared with private alternatives. Participants are assigned to all areas of the country, from rural rice paddies to major metropolitan hubs and JET alums emerge from the program with a lifelong connection and deep cultural understanding of Japan. JET strongly emphasizes community involvement and meaningful cultural exchange, which the Japanese government hopes participants will take back and share in their home countries. But JET is not without its shortcomings, and many of the very factors which set it apart from the private world also create pitfalls. As a government-run initiative, systematic bureaucracy and inflexibility characterize many aspects of JET administration. Most important information trickles down slowly from the central government, through the slew of offices and administrators. The Japanese take their bureaucracy seriously. Attempts to elude precedent or due process are met with almost universal resistance, regardless of intentions. It is not uncommon for JETs to be forbidden from driving to and from work, simply on the basis of precedent or perceived liability. One of the largest stressors to many first-time teachers in the ALT position is scarcity of training. Most ALTs receive little more than a workshop or two during various orientations, and perhaps a few sample lesson plans before confronting a genuine classroom of 40 students who speak little more than the ubiquitous “I’m fine thank-you, and you?” To make matters worse, concrete feedback from coworkers can be nearly impossible due to the indirect nature of Japanese culture. Becoming a competent JET is a long process of trial and error lasting months or years. JET applicants should also bear in mind the serious chance they will not receive placement in any of their requested areas as far more JETs are needed in small towns or villages than in well-known areas like Tokyo or Kyoto so many successful JETs end up with assignments in unexpected parts of Japan. The JET Programme presents an unparalleled opportunity to those looking for a unique, challenging and rewarding experience abroad. JET attracts participants from all walks of life who share a desire to dive headfirst into the unknown with a deep breath and big, naïve smile. As the popular Japanese expression goes, ichi go, ichi e – “one life, one chance!” Michael Seidman was a JET participant in Fukuoka Prefecture from 2008-2012. He worked as an Assistant Language Teacher at a public high school for 2 years, and for a subsequent 2 years as a Prefectural Advisor, serving as a peer counselor and advising the local government on the administration of the JET Programme. You may contact him with questions about the JET Programme at [email protected] Applications for the 2012-13 JET Programme are currently open and will be accepted through late November. For more information visit the official JET Programme website <http://www.jetprogramme.org> or the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago <http://www.chicago.us.emb-japan.go.jp/JIC/jet.html>....

Sexting

October 17, 2012


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By Joseph Daddario – Staff Writer "Sexting" is again linked to risky sex among teens, Reuters.com article says that “"What they're doing in their offline lives is what they're doing in their online lives.” “One out of every seven Los Angeles high schoolers with a cell phone has sent a sexually-explicit text message or photo, according to results of a 2011 survey that also found "sexters" more likely to engage in risky sex behaviors.” Sexting is back in the spotlight with a new study that shows 2.5% of students with a cell phone have sent sexually explicit texts or photos. These students are also seven times more likely to engage in risky sex behaviors. The article focuses on the dangers of sexting; having the photos appear online but fails to explain what the risky behaviors are and the repercussions. This raises questions about just what researchers consider “risky” behavior and if the general population actually considers these same behaviors risky. The study was based on 1,560 students, an outrageously small sample of the 16.4 million students in the United States. The Rueters article also states that a majority of the respondents were Latino, when in fact the majority of the students were white (73%) and the Latino respondents were only 10%. The fact that the study was conducted on only 1,560 students and then applied to the general student population is ludicrous. It’s impossible to base such a broad hypothesis of sexting leading to sexually risky behavior based on such a small sample. It’s like surveying 100 people and then saying the entire state of Idaho feels the same way. Another study released by Harvard’s Berkman Center for International Studies found that sexting and online sexual activity was not dangerous. This year-long study was done by a large group of experts who finally concluded that “The risks minors face online are in most cases not significantly different from those they face offline, and as they get older, minors themselves contribute to some of the problems.” This isn’t the only study that turns the tables on sexting though. Eric Rice, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work in Los Angeles, explains that "The same teens who are engaging in digital sex risk taking through sexting are also the same teens that are engaging in sex risk with their bodies in terms of being sexually active and not using condoms." Basically, the young people that engaged in sexual or social troubles online are the ones that are already at risk in the real world, and one does not necessarily lead to the other. The first study seems like a scare tactic designed to frighten students into not having sex, easing the burden of off the hard questions about taking care of the real life issues. This is just making kids worry and fear sex, hindering the sex dialogue. While I think sending a nude picture is one of the stupidest things to do, it’s nigh impossible to stop or regulate. Educating students about the risks of sexting, such as pictures being put on the internet where they will never go away, or embarrassing pictures being shown to people that the sender doesn’t want to see or legal repercussions for sending pictures of underage kids, to name a few, is the best method to hinder the sexting movement....

Service Day Improves Children’s Quality of Learning

October 17, 2012


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By Dayani Pieri - Staff Writer Service Day was initiated by the Student Leadership Development (SLD) office of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) to increase civic engagement among students, faculty and community members. This year’s event was coordinated by Barb Cosentino, the Associate Director of SLD. This year, “we teamed up with alumni affairs,” stated Veronica Rodriguez, Interim Director of SLD, who recruited volunteers for the event. The purpose was to involve both students and alumni in serving their community. According to Rodriguez, this was the second year that the event was held on a Saturday. SLD plans to have more service days in the near future, including one in January on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The morning of September 28, a group of 34 NEIU students and staff gathered at the Alumni Center for coffee and breakfast around 8:30 a.m. The group included members from Alumni Association, Green Cycle Group, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Sigma Gamma Rho, Gamma Phi Omega, Theta Chi Omega, Iota Phi Theta and others. After a group picture and briefing, the volunteers were divided into two groups and sent out to two Chicago Public Schools: Volta Elementary and Stewart School. At Volta, 18 volunteers painted the outside of the preschool building including windows, trims, doors, and ramps. They were joined by several 8th grade students who assisted in accomplishing the task of beautifying the exterior of the learning environment. The connection with Stewart School was made by Hellen Antonopoulos, the Clinical Manager for School Based Services at SGA (Scholarship & Guidance Association) Youth and Family Services. Antonopoulos has worked previously with Rodriguez and NEIU volunteers to help SGA Partner Schools in Chicago’s South Shore Community during their spring break. Last year’s Service Day volunteers helped Clinton Elementary School “clear a garden and plant spring bulbs.” NEIU’s “commitment to service learning and social justice” which tally with the agency’s commitment to “improving the quality of life of students and families,” and the proximity to its partner schools initiated the decision to invite NEIU yet again to serve its community. The volunteers assisted in the preparation of the reopening of a library at Stewart School which had not been functioning for the past 3 years. These events, according to Antonopoulos, help schools “connect with the community members and resources that help improve the quality of learning and living.” The newly hired Librarian of Stewart School, Susan Stone, is an experienced English, speech, and drama teacher, as well as a director and a professional storyteller. According to Stone, the longer school day enabled the funding for her employment. She taught the 16 NEIU helpers to bar-code, and weed books in order to prepare the library and make it attractive to the students. The 17 boxes of weeded books will be sold to Stewart students at a rate of 25 cents per book or 5 books per $1. The volunteers also cleaned shelves and organized books. Stone had much work ahead of her to get the library up and running. After a delicious pizza lunch, some decided to spend more time to assist Ms. Stone in further preparing the library. “We could not have been half as efficient,” says Stone as she thanked the volunteers “from the bottom of my (her) heart and from Stewart School.” Rodriguez, Antonopoulos and Stone were pleased and exclaimed that the day was a great success. The volunteers enjoyed contributing together for the betterment of these children’s lives and learning. Due to the success of this event, the Alumni Association has decided to create ongoing service activities to engage students and alum in their community. Antonopoulos and her organization looks forward to working “more closely and more often with the university” to improve the learning and the lives of children in NEIU’s neighboring community....

Rumble 2012: If Debates Were Actually Informative

October 17, 2012


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By Matthew Greenberg – Sports Editor When Al Gore invented the internet, he forgot to account for server overloads during live-streamed events. As online viewers began to download the live-stream feed of “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium,” a debate between Jon Stewart, anchor of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, they were suddenly dismayed to find the overwhelming number of downloads taking place all at once had caused the servers to crash, leaving paying audiences without the feed for over an hour. Although the live-stream aspect endured a hiccup in its presentation, the debate was one for the ages. Anyone who was frustrated by the distinct lack of information presented during the presidential debate certainly got their money’s worth with “The Rumble.” Stewart and O’Reilly viciously, although still respectfully, debated such topics as Medicare, government entitlements and the Middle East. Both pundits made great (and some not-so-great) points on the various discussion points, with O’Reilly accenting his arguments with flashcards that read things like, “Bush Is Gone” or “Drones Yes, Waterboarding No,” while Stewart used a mechanical lift behind his podium to compensate for the nine-inch difference between his hobbit-like 5’7” self and the yeti-sized 6’4” O’Reilly. One topic that was debated most fervently was government entitlements. O’Reilly based the majority of his arguments on not wanting to pay taxes for women to have birth control included in their healthcare, driving the point home with a flashcard reading, “Buy Your Own,” as well as his view that President Obama has made it too easy for people to get disability benefits and food stamps. Stewart rebutted that O’Reilly’s own father collected disability when he left his job. O’Reilly tried to explain that it was collected from the private sector and not the government, but he had no substantial response to Stewart’s question concerning what people should do if they don’t happen to work for the private sector. Stewart drove the dagger into O’Reilly’s argument when he said, “Why is it that if you take advantage of a corporate tax break you're a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something so you don't go hungry, you're a moocher?” The night was filled with thought provoking statements and informative discussion, as well as a heaping helping of zingers by both pundits, including one by O’Reilly to moderator E.D. Hill when he asked, “Are you still here?” It is fair to note that Hill maintained about as much control over the two cable network heavyweights as Jim Lehrer had in the presidential debate — zero. After an hour of debate from behind their podiums, the pundits came and sat center stage for half an hour to answer pre-selected questions from the audience at home and in the auditorium. By the end of the evening, the influx of worthwhile information left viewers fatigued in an absolutely satiated way that they had never known was possible from any sort of political debate. Both sides made substantial arguments, Jon Stewart’s leftist logic outplayed Bill O’Reilly’s right-wing “Bull----,” as Stewart so eloquently put it. Half of the net profits from the debate were designated for a series of charities chosen by Stewart and O’Reilly, including the Wounded Warrior Project, the Fisher House Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the USO. “The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” is now available on demand and for download at therumble2012.com. It’s worth every penny....

NEIU’s Annual Research Symposium

October 17, 2012


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By Christos Liardakis – Opinions Editor Michelle Kuehlhorn – Staff Writer             Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) hosted its fourth annual science symposium on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. The symposium was brought together by the Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE) which featured student research done in the areas of biology, chemistry, earth science and physics. Each person presented a research topic from SCSE summer program of 2012. When presentations on the podium concluded, students presented posters to display their research. Podium presentations included research on the effects circadian rhythms have on preying mantises on registering light stimuli, presented by Edgar Mantes, Will Bogue and Andrew Urdialles. Kevin D. Gallaher also presented about research involving the characterization of a unique red-light photoreceptor found in a bacteria, Stigmatella Aurantica. Mairead O’Connor-Maleny presented her research on differentially linked sialic acids in H5N1 influenza and shared her thoughts about the importance of her research as she explains “Studying H5N1 influenza allows us to determine if there will be another pandemic like the swine flu back in 2009. Studying bird flu also allows us to see how bird flu can jump the species barrier from birds to humans.” The first presentation was the “Relationship between Soil Properties and Erosion in a Stream Affected by Urban Runoff” by Danielle Whitfield. Her research was on storm runoff and parking lot drainage systems, which can have a strong erosive effect on the soil when the water is discharged into a small drainage channel. Soil properties may have an effect on storm runoff erosion patterns and could potentially affect stream restoration efforts. This study investigated soil erosion in a channel in a public forest preserve, starting at a culvert that opens from a parking lot drainage system. After graduating from NEIU, Whitfield is looking to become a middle school teacher with an interest in science. “The First Analysis of the Electro-retinogram in the Praying Mantis (Insecta: Mantodea)” by Barabara Popkiewciz was the second presentation given. She researched various aspects of praying mantis behavior, extensive portions of which were focused on the unique object recognition abilities. They have undertaken a detailed analysis of the electroretinogram (ERG) in three species of mantis: Popa spurca, Tenodera a. sinensis, Sphodromantis lineola. Their data revealed the complex functional interactions between the cellular components in the mantis optic lobe and the general principles by which the insect’s visual systems operate. After graduating from NEIU, Barbara is going to medical school to be a neurologist and her interest in neurology link to the SCSE. The third presentation was the “Can a Machine Learn to Distinguish Pollen Types, specifically Picea, Mariana and Picea. Glauca?” By Anthony A. Barkan. His research examined a machine that will learn about the pollen grain analysis and further machine learning projects using the methods devised during this research. If a computer can be trained to differentiate similar pollen types such as the spruce pollen P. mariana and P. glauca, then research involving machines learning to identify a new pollen samples will be validated. This research will gain significance worldwide as research on global climate change with biodiversity, oil and gas, and medical studies recognize the importance of pollen recognition. After graduating from NEIU, Anthony wants to become a Paleo-ecologist. He wants to attend California Berkeley. Anthony was not initially interested in pollen, but became interested in it after his summer research 2012 at SCSE. His main interests are pertaining to sediments and paleontological studies to find pollen that affected this area during the time of the dinosaur and over the last millions of years....

Legacy Project Honors GLBT Community

October 17, 2012


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By Joe Daddario – Staff Writer Emily Haddad – Editor-In-Chief Photo by Joseph Daddario Legacy Project creator Victor Salvo. Photo by Joseph Daddario The area of Boystown along Halsted Street in Chicago now plays host to a brand new outdoor museum entitled the ‘Legacy Walk,’ honoring the GLBT community. Utilizing the iconic rainbow pylons located between Addison and Belmont Ave, this five-block walking tour spotlights some of the most notable deceased leaders and pioneers of recent history, who were members of the GLBT community. The Legacy Project was conceived in 1987 after the initial display of the now-famous Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt highlighted the fears of dying prematurely from AIDS and being forgotten after death in the GLBT community. The mastermind behind the Legacy Project, Victor Salvo, said it was the culmination of a decade-long scholarly project meant to educate people and commemorate the roles the GLBT community has played in history. “We were worried AIDS would kill off the GLBT community before history recorded our existence. Who would remember those who came before them if we didn’t know ourselves?” The 1998 installation of the rainbow pylons celebrating the GLBT community in the Boystown area acted as a catalyst for the Legacy Project, providing an ideal place for commemorative plaques to be erected, and the general climate of acceptance in Chicago provided an affable political audience to hear the proposal. Salvo said Chicago was “the biggest small town in the world.” He described Chicago as a unique mix of working-class ethics and a multinational mindset that has fostered a populace that values history, the individual, and the cultural differences found on every corner. Philanthropic organizations such as the Jane Adams Hull House flourished in Chicago, offering resources, education and safe haven. Today, Chicago has openly gay individuals in all levels of city management and is one of the only cities in the world to openly celebrate their GLBT community. 18 plaques are now attached to the rainbow pylons on Halsted.  The plaques recognize the following people: Jane Adams, Alvin Ailey, Reinaldo Arenas, James Baldwin, Dr. Margaret Chung, Barbara Gittings, Keith Haring, Barbara Jordan, Christine Jorgensen, Frida Kahlo, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Leonard Matlovich, Harvey Milk, Dr. Antonia Pantoja, Bayard Rustin, Alan Turing, the ‘Two Spirit’ GLBT people of the U.S. and Canada, and Oscar Wilde. Salvo spoke at the unveiling ceremony Thursday afternoon. He stressed the importance of the project and how it gave the younger GLBT generation role models to look up to. Salvo went on to say that the project gave the younger generation “a belief that we always have and will matter,” something the older GLBT generation did not have. Other speakers included Ralph Kennedy, the board chairperson of the Legacy Project, Alderman Tom Tunney and a representative for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel....

errant particles

October 17, 2012


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By George Borawski – Visual Media Editor Photos by George Borawski Joan Truckenbrod's "errant particles" gracefully dances the line between a singular serenity and a frenetic perplexing daze. Located just outside of the Recital Hall, her exhibit combines a quasi avant-garde minimalism with rolling footage of cityscapes, cats and what seems like a boat’s-eye view of a gently undulating lake. A soundtrack adds to the effect, enhancing the atmosphere of an already peaceful and contemplative scene. She does all this in a seemingly unpretentious way that is absorbing and surprisingly pleasurable. Titles of pieces include "Still Life with Cats" "Ephemeral Visions" and "Foreclosure." The exhibition reads much more like a series of vivid memories than individual pieces of art. While Truckenbrod’s display appears unorthodox and the work rightfully pushes its viewers out of their comfort zone by projecting images on unconventional surfaces, any aversion to the strangeness of this exhibit should be immediately overlooked. Most work of this style can be overcome by considering it as a whole experience rather than piecemeal parts....

Common Sense Up In Smoke

October 17, 2012


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By Chris Tormos – Staff Writer For medical practitioners and hobby enthusiasts of marijuana alike, Colorado’s proposed Amendment 64, legalizing and outlining the regulation of marijuana, holds great potential for removing the drug from its current legal grey area. Colorado’s Amendment 64 is one of three proposals - Colorado, Washington and Oregon - for full-legalization in 2012. However, statistics suggests that Colorado has the most potential for an optimal outcome. According to the Denver Post, “Amendment 64 has the support of 51% of likely voters surveyed and 40% opposed” with the remaining 9% unsure. Colorado’s current marijuana policy is considered for medical usage only. Patients who have recommendations from doctors can purchase marijuana legally at dispensaries. There are some stipulations; it is intended for usage in the privacy of one’s home. Open and public displays of usage with possession under two oz. are a maximum fine of $100. The laws that currently stand are easy enough to abide by, so why is there a need for law reform? The answer may lay in a different kind of green that isn’t smoke-able. The economic hardships of the state are pushing legislators to consider more unusual funding alternatives. Colorado is currently facing a budget deficit of 400-500 million dollars, and an annual general revenue fund growth of only 57.8 million. Early speculative figures suggest an estimated 60 million dollars in revenue from the combined regulatory taxes and savings on processing and prosecutions of drug crimes. Passing Amendment 64 would also eliminate the need for “patients” to have to go through doctors, leaving their names in paperwork and databases in order to procure the pungent herb. Certainly some people who use medical marijuana find its effects medicinal and rely upon it for relief. However, most “patients” of medical marijuana fake a simple ailment to get a doctor’s recommendation so they can enjoy getting stoned in the privacy of their own home. This may come as a shock but like the allegory of the cave, allow your eyes to adjust to the blinding embrace of enlightenment. Moderation is the key to living a successful life and enjoying all the indulgences it has to offer. This may seem simple enough but if it were, the war against stupidity would not still be waged in the trenches. Whether it is weed, coffee, cheeseburgers, alcohol, candy bars, television, gambling, video games, or social networking, you simply have to observe moderation. The watermark of the stupid is one who acts on impulse without foresight, oblivious to the surroundings or consequences and feeds only the most basic of drives, the pleasure center, “this feels good and so I want it now.” In order to evolve one must observe moderation as well as the fine art of appropriate timing. There are times in life that it is certainly appropriate to smoke a joint or imbibe drink. And in this we discover the modern riddle of the sphinx, where only the intelligent may pass. “Is this an appropriate time for (insert vice here) and am I using said vice in moderation?” Stand at the gates and ponder as long as it takes, but do so knowing it is an easy answer to an enjoyable life and self-control. The very basics of that phrase needs to be a characteristic all should strive for, control of the self. If one masters the concepts of control, timing and moderation, then they too can realize the very best part of this riddle. One will never have to give up any of the things that make life that much more enjoyable because they never abused them....

Chinese Products Endangering Us, Our Pets

October 17, 2012


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By Yesenia Taveras – Staff Writer                   Commercial pet foods, or in this case pet treats, bearing the label ‘Made in China’ are in the news once again for containing harmful ingredients. Since 2007, there have been warnings from the FDA of tainted pet foods that can harm and even kill pets. Certain foods can even transmit harmful substances or bacteria to owners during the feeding process. This latest round of tainted pet products is primarily chicken jerky treats. The entire compromised list of pet treats includes: chicken jerky (treats, tenders, and strips), sweet potato jerky, and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes or yams. Some of the brands behind the allegedly dangerous pet treats are Waggin’ Train, Canyon Creek Ranch and Milo’s Kitchen, according to the FDA. All of these are manufactured in China even though they are owned by the American Companies Nestle Purina and Del Monte respectively. From the initial investigation through the present, there have been more than 2,000 reported illnesses confirmed by the FDA as primarily from the above three brands, related to the consumption of the jerky treats. For the past 18 months, there have been 360 dog deaths and one lone cat death in relation to the jerky treats. These are not isolated incidents and illnesses have been reported in all 50 states as well as in six Canadian providences. The earliest issues of a similar nature go back to 2007. At this time, it was pet foods instead of treats that were killing pets and making them sick. After an extensive investigation by the FDA it was found that wheat gluten and rice proteins being used in the pet food were tainted with melamine, a toxic chemical compound which is typically used as a fire retardant additive as well as being a by-product from pesticides. Why add something like this to pet food in the first place? It is speculated that the goal was to make the pet food appear to have more protein content than it actually did. Melamine is high in nitrogen. Since nitrogen is a major component of protein, one of the more common ways to test for protein levels in the grain industry is by testing the level of nitrogen. If wheat gluten has melamine added, it will appear to have higher protein content and appear to be more nutritious than it actually is. This previous case culminated in charges being filed against several businesses in China and a business in the US, as well as massive recalls. According to the FDA’s website, the FDA is in charge of regulating pet foods. However, it is stated on their website that, “There is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. Many ingredients such as meat, poultry and grains are considered safe and do not require pre-market approval.” The sudden increase in the number of pet deaths and illnesses raises questions about whether the FDA should be doing more to protect household pets, and what the agency can do when faced with the production and importation of pet foods from overseas. The simple answer is product demand. An estimated 86 million pounds of pet food came from China in 2011 alone. Even after the previous scandal, companies are still buying meat that may not be safe. The FDA is currently involved in a wide-range investigation with the help of toxicologists to discover the point of contamination. But it has proven an uphill battle. As a US government agency, the FDA has little jurisdiction overseas and was recently denied the ability to acquire any samples when investigators tried to visit several plants in China. How can you keep your pet safe? Watch for symptoms or erratic behavior that may point to illness. The main symptoms to watch out for are vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes with blood and/or mucus, pancreatitis or gastrointestinal bleeding, frequent urination, increased urine, severe thirst and kidney failure. Opt for treats that state ‘Made in America’. Pet stores like Pet Supplies Plus have conveniently set up a location on their website to search for American made products. Pet Supplies Plus also has an entire section of treats that are only American made and they offer a huge variety of treats at comparable prices. Please note that many pet stores are still carrying the other brands, as they have not been recalled. Avoid buying any jerky treats or pet food items that are made in China. Do not purchase any of the above-mentioned types of treats or brands until the FDA, upon the conclusion of their investigation, declares them safe....

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