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May 10 2011

Schools or Dropout Programs?

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Youth in the United States are become dumber and dumber. American children are struggling to keep up with the rest of the world in math, science, and reading.  One scholar says, “American 15-year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math in a study of students in 34 nations and nonnational regions”.  This fact alone raises the question why are we giving our youth the summer off from school. As other countries begin to surpass American children in education many are worried about the future.

“As it stands, only eight of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries that took part in the study in 2009 have a lower high school graduation rate than we do. It’s so bad in some schools, educators have a nickname for them: dropout factories.”

The current condition of American schools could have severe economic impact in the future.  If in the next 20 years Americans boost their math and science scores by 25 points the US will receive 41 trillion dollars over their lifetime.  Though the United States is a very rich country we cannot afford to leave all of this money behind.  That brings the question that if the US was to have school in the summer will the advantage outweigh the disadvantage?  If you have heard somewhere that China will surpass the US economy by 2016 and are surprised you should be considering that Shanghai is currently number 1 in education.

The United States needs to address this problem in some way in the near future.  The US has one of the shortest school years at 180 days.  South Korea has 220 days school year and is number 2 in reading and science.  Finland has a 190 day year and is 1st in math and science.  Looking at these two programs America has something two aspire to.  If the US does not step up their education program we will be surpassed in the near future and leave our seat as a world power.

May 10 2011

Japans Energy Crisis leaves future in question.

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In recent months since the devastating earthquake Japan has been struggling to make up for their lost nuclear reactors.  Japan had an ambitious goal of having over 78 reactors by 2030 at the latest.  If Japan were able to complete all of these reactors nuclear energy would be supplying 50% of the countries energy.  Clearly these plans have been halted due to the recent earthquakes and Japan needs to find a clear solution to make up for this loss.

Some feel that this loss gives the country the opportunity to become a world leader in clean energy sources.  Japan has the chance to increase their dependence on geothermal, wind, and solar energy.  Masayoshi Son, president and founder of Softbank and Japans riches man said he would give 12 million dollars to research foundations to explore these opportunities.  He said continued reliance on nuclear energy would, “be a sin against out children, grandchildren, and future generations” Though many are for the development of nuclear energy some feel that is will be way to expensive in the tight economic times.  Clean energy would cost up to 30.5 Yen per kilowatt as opposed to fossil fuels, which are closer to 9 Yen.

Japans dependence on nuclear power comes from its energy insecurity it has been experiencing for years.  They produce little to no fossil fuels, which leads them to pursue other energy sources to compensate.  Japan is extra sensitive to disruptions in the Middle East because of their dependence on consistent oil prices.  In the wake of such an awful disaster Japan needs to get back on its feet and excel in clean energy use.  They have the opportunity to innovate and change the clear energy industry if they have the support of the citizens.  Last year Japan was the leading installer of solar panels in front of Germany and Spain.  If Japan continues along this path they will be able to be confident on their reliance on clean energy.

May 03 2011

Will Osama’s Death Haunt Pakistan

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The discovery of Osama bin Laden has been the largest breakthrough in the War on Terror.  The fact that Osama was living in Pakistan when he was discovered is very significant.  Pakistan has been known for the harboring of terrorists who have been connected to the Al-Qaeda.  This raises a decent amount of suspicion from the United States government being that Pakistan has openly admitted that they are not harboring Osama bin Laden.  Not only did they confidently deny Osama’s whereabouts they said he was probably in Afghanistan in the mountains.  Osama was found roughly 35 miles outside Islamabad in a town called Abottabad.  He was living in a large million-dollar compound that was in a desirable neighborhood in Pakistan.  The compound was heavily fortified and contained several gates with barbed wire as well as restricted access.  The compound was large and awkward for the neighborhood, yet the Pakistani government will not take responsibility for its placement.  The US is suspicious that the government was covering up for Osama and allowing him to stay in Pakistan. A British publication says,

“Extremely pointed questions are now certain to be asked about whether the ISI or its various branches and minions, knew of the existence of the highly unusual, heavily fortified, expensively built compound in Abbottabad, 35 miles north of Islamabad – and of its high-value, low-profile tenant. If they did, why did they not investigate? If they did not, was it because they didn’t want to know?”

The US and Pakistan have not been on great terms in the recent years.  A senior Pakistani intelligence offer told MSNBC that they were participating in the ongoing operation before the attack but had no knowledge of the actual attack.  If Pakistan was indeed harboring Osama then they cannot be trusted with such important information.  Overall, after such an important discovery it is not clear if the United States can trust Pakistan at this point.

May 02 2011

The US Can See Clearly Now Osama is Gone

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The death of Osama Bin Laden is one of the most significant events regarding the War on Terror, and gives America new found vigor in this War.  A secret operation carried out by US Special Forces and CIA was executed last night which lead to the capture of Osama Bin Laden.  President Obama was briefed in August of 2010 on the potential whereabouts of the convicted terrorist.  Since this time the United States has been keeping a close eye on Osama and decided to move in when the time was right.  Last night, May, 1, 2011, marked a monumental day when the US team moved in to a fire fight and came out with Osama’s body.  Long before 9/11 Bin Laden has been known as an enemy of the United States.  He has been involved in the bombing of African Embassies as well as many other plots and attacks on US soil.  The death of Osama brings about peace and solstice that many Americans have been seeking for a while. Obama has been quoted saying, “Justice has been done”.

Not only does the death of Osama bin Laden bring about a sense of peace for many Americans, it also puts the war on terror to rest for the time being.  The United States has focused much of its foreign policy efforts on “Islamofacism” which has distracted the country from many larger goals.  Peter Rhinehard says,

“Bin Laden was a monster and a distraction. It is good that he is dead, partly because the bereaved deserve justice, but also because his shadow kept us from seeing clearly the larger challenges we face. The war on terror is over; Al Qaeda lost. Now for the really hard stuff; let’s hope we haven’t deferred it too long.”

This death could lead to the economic upswing that the United States really needs right now.  The conflicts and issues in the Middle East have prevented the US from addressing problems that are taking place on our own soil.  In effect, the death of the most wanted man in the world is a great victory for both the US and the western world.  Go America

Mar 07 2011

Will Uprising in Middle East Fuel al-Qaeda?

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Recently the world has had its eyes on the uprising in the Middle East.  With the overthrow of governments such as Mubarak’s regime in Egypt, Ali’s regime in Tunisia, and with Gaddafi on the way out in Libya there will be space to set up more stable forms of government chosen by the people.  Unfortunately this brings about a key time in the terrorist organization al-Qaeda’s history.  With the main goal of al-Qaeda being to destroy the main tyrannies of the Middle East the recent events gives them an opportunity to take control.

Revolts in the Middle East only bring the al-Qaeda closer to their goal of taking over the Middle East.  Islamic groups such as al-Qaeda have stable infrastructure and strict level of hierarchy.  As new forms of government move into these regions there will likely be more freedom of expression and religion.  This will have a major effect in the social media world.  This newfound freedom will allow al-Qaeda to put out more propaganda leading them closer to their main goal.

Other factors that will contribute to the upcoming surge of al-Qaeda’s dominance in the Middle East is the release of many prisoners.  The majority of these prisoners are not convicted of theft or murder but are put in prison by Islamic groups to protect the secrecy and inner circles of the regime.  With thousands of veteran Al-Qaeda members being released this will only fuel the power of the regime.  Most of these prisoners will never forgive the US and other western powers for funding the prisons in order to keep dangerous mujahidin off the streets.

The power being gained by these organizations must be stopped immediately to ensure international safety.  The best way of doing this is by going to the source of the funding.  Most of al-Qaeda’s money is coming from oil-rich Sunni sheiks and the money needs to be cut off at the source.   The Middle Eastern countries have a chance to stabilize and become an active contributor to the global good if they can defeat the war against the Islamic organizations.

Feb 21 2011

Uprising in the Middle East

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Today the Middle East has been facing serious upheaval and protests in result of bad governing regimes. Countries all over the map are turning to protest and violence in order to over throw their governments. As countries have seen the success in the overthrow of President Mubarak in Egypt they have been bracing themselves for revolts of their own.

Currently Iran is facing this issue with the resurgence of the Green Party. The green party not only cares for the environment but also the mass production of nuclear weapons on soil. The Iranian government is calling for citizens to overthrow the green party in violent protest. In the mind of the ruling party this will thwart the overthrow of President Ahmandinejad. The Iranian government has been hostile toward the ringleaders of the opposing party. In the month of January 89 people were killed in Iran. This is the highest rate currently in the world and shows that Iran is attempting to combat the overthrow with violence.

Libya is also currently going through problems with their government. On Thursday February 17th was a national Day of Anger against the government in which protestors chanted and burned rubble in the streets. The revolt against Colonel Muammar is the latest revolt in the Middle East and was caused by the detainment of a lawyer who represented those who were affected in previous out lashes by the government. Obama has spoken on the topic and he encourages counter party activists to revolt against their current party if they do not listen to the needs of the people. He believes that freedom of speech should be upheld for a government to prosper.

Protests like this need to happen in order for a government to be run correctly. The citizens need to be happy to prevent violent revolts. Egypt has now achieved this state of happiness as they are escaping the rubble of the previous regime. Many feel as though they have awoke from a 30 year sleep and have bright hopes for the future of the country. This is encouraging news as the Middle East has the opportunity to escape the corrupt political regimes and get things under control. This can only happen if the regimes accept input from the citizens instead of blindly moving toward their own goal.