Our Government Is Messed Up- And It’s The People’s Fault

These days in America, nobody likes the government. Nothing gets passed, there’s always childish bickering, everything seems rigged, etc. Much of this results from the extreme gridlock we have today between Democrats and Republicans– with few exceptions, neither side basically wants to compromise practically anything.

An article from The Atlantic blamed all this gridlock on the Constitution itself, noting how our system of checks and balances is so strong that one branch of the government can prevent the other from governing. Included is the fact American politicians so strongly believe in this system that it compels them to take strong stances.

Although true, much of the blame should not lie on the Constitution. Its system of check and balances is essential and has proven to work smoothly before. Neither should all of the blame be heaped on the politicians themselves who have refused to compromise.

There is one factor that the article didn’t emphasize. The people. Yes, it’s the people’s fault.

The Civil War. One of the most divisive periods of American history.

What was said is probably counter intuitive to the usual political culture where politicians keep on praising how wonderful the people are and how bad the government is. But the truth is, a divided government reflects a divided people, not the other way around. Think back to before the Civil War. One side wanted slavery; the other didn’t. All those compromises between politicians, such as the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, didn’t work at all. Why? Because no matter how many “across-the-aisle” bills politicians pass, if the people themselves don’t compromise, conflict is inevitable.

The situation today goes along the same lines, where the present political climate has never been this polarized since the Civil War. The Republicans (especially the Tea Party) and Democrats have not budged a bit, even getting the government into shutdowns over issues such as healthcare and more recently, a possible shutdown just over Planned Parenthood. None of these issues are significant enough to warrant such disasters.

Yet why is this so? Because the people themselves are polarized. Why do the Tea Party Republicans keep on getting re-elected despite never compromising? Because the people they represent like that– in fact, those people think they aren’t hard enough on Obama. And to be fair, those politicians are dong their job– representing the people accurately. This isn’t just the GOP but also the Democrats, too.

Bernie Sanders at Liberty Univ. Image from NBC.

Of course, it is inevitable that the people in America have diverse points of views. Yet there are always a few issues, probably even more important than the ones that divide citizens, that both liberals and conservatives can agree on. Both sides are tired with establishment politics. Both sides are tired of money influencing elections. Both sides hopefully want to get rid of institutional racism. And so on. Our political culture now emphasizes on issues that polarize us. That has got to change.

One of the 2016 candidates, Bernie Sanders, realizes this. He, a self-proclaimed socialist, recently went to and spoke at Liberty University, one of the most conservative places in America. And his reason for this was simple– “It is easy to go out to talk to people who agree with you… But it is harder, but not less important, to communicate with those who do not agree with us.” That’s precisely it. Sure, the politicians can claim that they’ve reached out to other politicians from different parties. But what matters more is if one reaches out to the people of the other party and strike a deal with them. To focus on what unites the people, so things that need to get done can be done.

And when the people are united, so will the government. Hopefully, that day comes soon.

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To Asian-American Students: Be Less “Asian”

Asian American stereotypes, like all racial stereotypes, are wrong and harmful. All Asians play piano. All Asians are test machines who can do dirty work but cannot think for themselves. All Asians are good at STEM and want to get into good colleges. Asians suck at sports and are better with books. These labels exist everywhere, from the sports world to yes, the college admissions process. Obviously, all these are wrong.

The sad thing is, we Asian Americans in general are reinforcing those labels.

About a month ago, groups of Asian American advocates filed a lawsuit against Harvard University claiming that despite higher standardized test scores and higher grades, Asian Americans were being unfairly held to a higher standard than that of other races. Lawsuits like these have increased with the implementation of holistic review, a process that ensures the accepted pool’s diversity in interest, socioeconomic background, experience, and lastly, race and ethnicity.

Asian American families specifically bristle at the race and ethnicity factor, accusing colleges of specifically targeting Asian Americans and calling it racial discrimination. However, by fighting holistic review, they are only proving colleges right—they may ace test scores, but when it comes to diversity, Asian Americans are lacking big time.

As evident, Asian Americans are the most competitive group applying to top-notch colleges. But when faced with a large pool of applicants who all have high scores and spectacular academic success, colleges can only make the logical choice of picking those who stand out – those with unique personalities or compelling stories.

Unfortunately, Asian Americans are, in general, quite uniform. When I asked around my Asian friends at school (which is predominantly Asian) about their potential career paths, the answers were always doctor, lawyer, engineer, doctor, lawyer, engineer, and so forth. I found myself to be the lone Asian at my school wanting to be a journalist or writer, and only a few others wanted to be in careers that weren’t STEM or high-paying. I found a surprising majority of Asian Arcadia students who played piano but very few, like me, who do not. Even their backgrounds were quite similar—taking SAT classes, studying for a lot of APs, aiming for good grades, etc. seemed to be what everybody was doing.

Yet, because so many Asians, Arcadian or not, follow this same path, it has become the definition of what it means to be “Asian,” racial stereotypes applied by Asians themselves. Thus, when colleges are looking through their applicant pools, they see all the same things among Asian-Americans. So no, they are not being racist when they reject an Asian despite his or her high qualifications; they are rejecting most Asians because they are unqualified in the diversity aspect—too many are doing the same thing and have the same background and thus are not compelling enough to stand out.

As a result, many admissions counselors have already advocated Asian American students to “be less Asian.” No, they are not asking students to take away their cultural identity, as many critics claim; they are simply asking to break away from those stereotypes. Such actions might entail pursuing something other than the typical STEM jobs or perhaps getting more into sports. None of these actions take away the Asian identity; it only makes them less Asian according to the stereotypes. And along the way, it significantly boosts one’s chances of being admitted.

To do this, however, with the simple goal of getting into college is wrong and dishonest to oneself. One should do it for his or her own good. There is this big shadow in which the Asian American community is shoving all its youth into one direction of pursuing the same fields and achieving the same scores and aiming for the same top colleges. Through this, not only has the stereotypes developed, but it is misleading and forcing many Asian American students to follow this set path that has become the Asian norm. The result is that many are lacking something—to which my personal knowledge and many other witnesses can testify—called passion.

Ultimately, the message is to break that norm. To my Asian-American peers: if you really have a passion for STEM, then by all means pursue it. However, if you are only pursuing it because your parents say so, because it is high paying, or because everybody is doing it, reconsider your choices and allow yourself to explore and break free from those Asian norms. If you do really have a passion for something, do something beyond school and tests that supports that passion. Pursue activities that are unique and different from that of your peers, whether it be football or playing something other than the piano or violin. All these activities will increase one’s chances of admission, but most importantly, it will allow one to become a better and more unique person overall.

Lifetime Appointments for Supreme Court Justices

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has gone through landmark court cases, from protection of the Affordable Care Act to the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

roberts Why we need lifetime terms for Supreme Court justices

Chief Justice John Roberts. Credit: RedState

For conservatives, this has proven to be a step backward, and in an effort to fight the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling, they have argued that, as Justice John Roberts puts it, “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law.” Simply put, each of these judges simply have too much power over too much of a long time; just one vote could swing the entire direction of America. Getting rid of lifetime terms would help put a check on this seemingly infinite amount of power.

Liberals, surprisingly, also have an interest in putting term limits for Supreme Court justices. Many note how a majority of the SCOTUS justices are significantly much older than the general population, and due to this, are out of sync with American citizens. In other words, the rulings and opinions of much older people are being unfairly imposed on the lives of young Americans (who are predominantly liberal), which is simply undemocratic.

Both points are valid, and there has been renewed calls to set term limits on Supreme Court justices. But both points are simply wrong.

 Why we need lifetime terms for Supreme Court justices

The Supreme Court. Credit: Wikipedia

First off, the judicial branch was never meant to be democratic, and for good reason. The Founding Fathers were afraid that the opinions of justices would be too susceptible to popular opinion had there been no lifetime terms. At first glance, nothing sounds wrong– why, isn’t it all the more representative if this were to happen?  What’s the harm?

The problem is popular opinion is not always right. If the majority of a population were racist whites, then surely the Supreme Court would fail its duty to simply follow the popular opinion of its time. Similarly, landmark court cases such as Mapp V. Ohio and Georgia V. Randolphhave protected and advanced the rights of criminals, which would likely have been ignored by a majority of the population, who generally do not support criminals. “The dynamic of our constitutional system is that individuals need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right. The Nation’s courts are open to injured individuals who come to them to vindicate their own direct, personal stake in our basic charter. An individual can invoke a right to constitutional protection when he or she is harmed, even if the broader public disagrees and even if the legislature refuses to act,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In essence, lifetime terms for justices is a check on the majority itself to prevent abuses on the minority. Both the executive and legislative branches, which constantly have to be re-elected or elected, have to follow the majority to stay on the job; only the judicial branch is free of this.

Supreme Court US 2010 Why we need lifetime terms for Supreme Court justices

The current Supreme Court justices. Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Credit: Wikipedia

While many claim that life terms give the Supreme Court too much power, it actually prevents the other two branches from achieving that goal. SCOTUS justices are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate, and as seen in history, they are often chosen according to the president’s tastes. Conservative presidents, like George W. Bush, tended to appoint conservative judges, such as Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, while Barack Obama, a liberal, appointed Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, both who tend to vote pro-Obama on many issues. The fact that the Senate plays a part only factors in its political influence into the court. Furthermore, the retirement of justices can turn political as well, as seen with many urging Justice Ruth Ginsburg to retire now so Obama could appoint another liberal justice to the court, lest it be too late if a Republican becomes president next term.

sotomayor090526 Why we need lifetime terms for Supreme Court justices

Obama’s appointment of Sonia

Sotomayer in 2009. Credit: The Daily Signal

The solution to this, however, is not to set term limits, as some suggest. True, by giving lifetime appointments, a justice does indeed have the chance to retire at the “right” time. But at the same time, the only times politics influences the court would be at the appointment and the retirement– everything else in between the justices are free from politics and free from political retribution (as seen with conservative Justice Roberts voting pro-Obama a surprising number of times). Setting term limits, which would give rise to higher occurrences of appointments and retirements, would only increase the politics played into the court. It could very possibly give rise to a constant race between Democrats and Republicans on who could appoint the most of their type into the Supreme Court.  Lifetime appointments, on the other hand, would significantly decrease this, as the Founding Fathers wanted.

To sum it all up, Alexander Hamilton noted in The Federalist Papers that “nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office.” That includes independence from politics as well as from popular opinion. And in order for justice to be blind, it must stay this way. The Founding Fathers got it right this time around.

The Real Reason Behind Low Voter Turnout

Recently, politicians across America have been yelling out a crisis– the lack of voter turnout, especially among the younger generation. As each year passes, the percentage of citizens who vote seems to be decreasing and decreasing. In March 2015, the voter turnout for Los Angeles’s municipal elections was only a dismal 8.6%. This is especially troubling for a democracy.

Politicians and analysts point out to various sources to blame. Some blame the bickering partisanship of politics that turn people off. Others say that voters don’t feel their votes have an effect. Many simply say the younger generation is simply lazy. All of this may be true, but lack of voter enthusiasm  isn’t the problem. It is simply a result of a bigger crisis our nation should be yelling– we, especially the youth, are not represented.

Just compare Congress to the general population. Women are 50.8% of the population; they make up only around 20% of Congress. Seventeen percent of the population is Latino; only 7% of Congress is Latino. These among many other discrepancies show under-representation, not representation, in the US.

Courtesy to www.newsnshit.com

Left: What Congress Is Today; Right: If Congress accurately reflected the US population. Notice the big discrepancies. Creds to http://www.newsnshit.com.

As a result, why would my friend, an Asian-American teenager, want to take his concerns around an organization of mostly white males? Most wouldn’t. Why would women even want to vote, if all decisions regarding women such as abortion are going to be decided by an 80% male Congress? More relevant, why would teens and adolescents follow politics and vote if a majority of their issues are being voted by predominantly older legislators?

I’d like to point out a startling statistic I just read from the LA Times: funding for schools have been cut so drastically that even for school meals, there isn’t enough funding– only 16 cents for each lunch and 27 cents for each breakfast is spent. Why such measures? Don’t they recognize the importance of good meals? Yes, they do, but since students under college can’t vote, no they don’t. Essentially, most politicians don’t accurately represent for the sake of representing; they only do so to garner the votes. If minors were given the right to vote, watch how much more the government would fund school meals.

jeremy lin 300 The real reason behind low voter turnout

Jeremy Lin. Creds to People Magazine.

So, how does one solve this issue of low voter turnout? The key to increasing enthusiasm can be found in Linsanity. Personally, I never followed the National Basketball Association (NBA) games. To me, they were games relegated to mostly African-American/ white gods such as Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. Basketball never turned my head, until I heard about Linsanity. That a young Asian American from California, just like me, was making headlines in basketball got me watching. It got me and other previously disinterested Asian-Americans (and Asians) all stuck up into the NBA. It was because we Asians saw ourselves up there, embodied by Jeremy Lin. As a result, even though Lin is now not faring well, I still follow NBA games.

This notion holds true with voting. Black voter turnout increased tremendously with the running of Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Similarly, if the government has a more accurate representation across racial, gender, and cultural lines, there will be much more interest in voting and politics. The key, though, is not that this will increase voter turnout. What matters is that it will reflect the democratic republic that our Founding Fathers envisioned– where the government truly represents the people.

Israel’s Disgrace

Instead of blogging something new, I decided to share this Times article by Joe Klein, which perfectly describes my exact feelings on today’s nation of Israel.

A few years ago, I drove from Jerusalem to the West Bank, to the city of Bethlehem, to have dinner with TIME’s Palestinian stringer, the late Jamil Hamad. He was a gentle and sophisticated man, soft-spoken, and levelheaded when it came to politics. After dinner, I drove back to Jerusalem and had to pass through the bleak, forbidding security wall. An Israeli soldier asked for my papers; I gave her my passport. “You’re American!” she said, not very officially. “I love America. Where are you from?” New York, I said. “Wow,” she said, with a big smile. And then she turned serious. “What were you doing in there,” she asked, nodding toward the Palestinian side, “with those animals?”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

And that, of course, is why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “won” the Israeli election. That is how he won the election even though there was a strong economic case against him, and people were tired of his ways, and about 200 former Israeli military and intelligence leaders publicly opposed his dangerously bellicose foreign policy. He won because he ran as a bigot. This is a sad reality: a great many Jews have come to regard Arabs as the rest of the world traditionally regarded Jews. They have had cause. There have been wars, indiscriminate rockets and brutal terrorist attacks. There has been overpowering anti-Jewish bigotry on the Arab side, plus loathsome genocidal statements from the Iranians and others. But there has been a tragic sense of superiority and destiny on the Israeli side as well.

This has been true from the start. Read Ari Shavit’s brilliant conundrum of a book, My Promised Land, and you will get chapter and verse about the massacres perpetrated by Jews in 1948 to secure their homeland. It may be argued that the massacres were necessary, that Israel could not have been created without them, but they were massacres nonetheless. Women and children were murdered. It was the sort of behavior that is only possible when an enemy has been dehumanized. That history haunted Netanyahu’s rhetoric in the days before the election, when he scared Jews into voting for him because, he said, the Arabs were coming to polls in buses, in droves, fueled by foreign money.

It should be noted that those Arabs represent about 20% of the population of Israel. About 160,000 of them are Christian, and some of them are descendants of the first followers of Jesus. Almost all of them speak Hebrew. Every last one is a citizen—and it has been part of Israel’s democratic conceit that they are equal citizens. The public ratification of Netanyahu’s bigotry put the lie to that.

Another conceit has been that the Israeli populace favors a two-state solution. That may still be true, but the surge of voters to the Likud party in the days after Netanyahu denied Palestinian statehood sends the message that a critical mass of Israeli Jews supports the idea of Greater Israel, including Judea and Samaria on the West Bank. This puts Israeli democracy in peril. The alternative to a two-state solution is a one-state solution. That state can only be Jewish, in the long run, if West Bank Arabs are denied the right to vote.

There will be many—in the Muslim world, in Europe—who will say that the results are no surprise, that Israel has become a harsh, bigoted tyrant state. It has certainly acted that way at times, but usually with excellent provocation. It is an appalling irony that the Israeli vote brought joy to American neoconservatives and European anti-Semites alike.

When I was a little boy, my grandmother would sing me to sleep with the Israeli national anthem. It still brings tears to my eyes. My near annual visits to Israel have always been memorable. About a decade ago, I was at a welcoming ceremony for new immigrants—­thousands of them, Russians and Iranians and Ethiopians. And I thought, if Ethiopians and Russians could join that way, why not, eventually, Semites and Semites, Jews and Arabs?

That was the dream—that somehow Jews and Arabs could make it work, could eventually, together, create vibrant societies that would transcend bigotry and exist side by side. The dream was that the unifying force of common humanity and ethnicity would, for once, trump religious exceptionalism. It was always a long shot. It seems impossible now. For the sake of his own future, Benjamin Netanyahu has made dreadful Jewish history: he is the man who made anti-Arab bigotry an overt factor in Israeli political life. This is beyond tragic. It is shameful and embarrassing.

The Obsolete American Currency

The original penny goes back to the birth of a new nation.  In 1793, the new-founded US Mint released the cent, or currently known as the penny.  The American people enjoyed the diverse uses of a penny, given it was worth many times more than what it is today.  It starts as pure copper; nothing else is added to the minting but pure copper.  In 1856, the penny was being leavened by 12% nickle.  In 1943, the penny was actually zinc coated steel, not copper at all.  It went back to 5% zinc in 1944 during World War 2, and remained that way for a solid 4 decades.  Up until now, the penny is only 2.5% actual copper, most of it being the thin outside coating.  The rest is a cheap zinc core.  According to the US Mint, each year America throws away 4 Billion dollars on penny production.  Furthermore, it takes $0.004 to make a penny.  If you do the proportions and rationalizing correctly, it comes out as 4 Billion dollars in exchange for 1 Billion dollars in tiny coins.  The total weight for all those pennies is about 2755 tons.  In the previous year, 6 billion dollars was put into production for pennies.  As a miserly consumer and economist, this is the biggest waste of money history has ever seen, and nobody bats an eye.  I believe, for the benefit of the common citizen, that the production of pennies should be terminated as soon as possible.  Without further notice, I will begin my reasons:

1.   To throw away 6 Billion dollars for pocket change is unnecessary.  Six billion dollars can be used to provide many things including global debt payment, healthcare, community projects, philanthropy, or simply giving back to the people.  If there are 200 million Americans today, we can give 30 dollars to each and every one of them using that money.  There are many things to do with that amount laying around deep in down in the US Treasury.  With tensions in Syria, America could seriously invest in aid to the freedom liberators.

2. There really isn’t confusion, if it’s 91 or 92 cents, then simply round down.  If it’s 93 or 94, round up.  No harm could possibly be done in that.  No inflation, no collapse of American Ideals, nothing scrutinizing or financially degrading.  There is absolutely nothing bad that will happen.  There will be no inflation, normally Americans don’t even want their change.  It ends back in the dilapidated cashier register never to be touched by the hands of man ever again.

3. Let’s talk practically here, nobody really counts out their coins to the perfect cent anymore.  I did you readers the courtesy of asking 20 people at a local gas and convenience store if they pay to the perfect cent.   Only 3 people actually do; the rest don’t, which makes only 15% of the average person.  A bet at 15% is almost guaranteed to lose.  For the people that actually do, you’re wasting your time and the time of others behind you.  Fuck off with your little “try- to-be-mother-teresa” persona and save yourself a little time.  Plus, do you want to carry around single cents at which have no commercial value?  Honestly ask yourself that and see the results.  Be perfectly straight with yourself, just don’t bother pennies.

4. Other countries like Finland and New Zealand don’t use pennies, and they’re doing perfectly fine.  Why not emulate them and stop production for the single cent coin?  It has already happened, why won’t America realize this?  Other countries that use their lowest currency articles have use for it because it probably is a 3rd world country, or maybe you can actually buy things with it.  We are children of a lifestyle obsession, poverty and tiny coins don’t concern us.

I’m practically done here, but there’s plenty of futile rebuttals you inconsiderate jerks will make up.  Humans have a tendency (or rather a fetish) to simply disagree just for the sake of disagreeing out of some completely arbitrary reason.  Most times you’re gonna lose that debate and really feel stupid.  I’ve done you another favor by naming some common misconceptions.

“If pennies have been around from since the birth of the nation, banning it would be degrading to our national image.”

I don’t even know where to begin.  Let’s start by saying that there’s an older coin than the penny called the half-cent.  The half cent was actually able to buy things back then, and had the exact economical value as the US Dollar today.  When America decided to take that away, nothing happened at all.  It actually makes us look much more wealthier than squabbling around in our pocket change.  In addition, no other country cares about our lowest currency.  It’ll just be a small sub-article in the bottom of a foreign newspaper and completely disregarded.  Don’t bother with the whole “Patriot-what-if” bs, it’s not going to happen.

“Yeah but pennies have been around for generations, if you took them away then it’ll upset people.”

As stated before, nobody cares about pennies.  It’s so useless we don’t even realize it.  Why waste 6 billion dollars from federal tax reserves so you can satisfy your cashier register instincts? There are much more important issues at hand, and you ignorant bigots want to worry about tiny metal scraps?

“Taking Lincoln off the coin is unpatriotic.”

The most patriotic group of young men and women in America are known as the US Armed Forces.  They are willing to give up their lives for their country and they don’t even use pennies. Ask any marine or veteran, they didn’t use it.  Also, it’s kinda degrading to find the arguably best American leader on the lowest currency.  If you’re still worried about Lincoln’s image, he’s still on the five dollar bill.  If you’re still worried, well nobody gave a crap when they took JFK off the 50 cent.  The thing is, people just simply don’t care.

“But but but….”

Leave further arguments down below; trust me nothing will go wrong.  I’m not asking people to make pennies strictly illegal, I just want to stop production.  Hell, if possible, why not start a penny collection? Who knows what they’ll be worth 10 years from now?  Feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

The Pope Is Wrong about Capitalism: Free Markets Are Best for the Less Fortunate

This post makes a good case for why capitalism helps the poor, a seemingly contradicting idea… Im now beginning to doubt my belief that socialism is the best for poor people.

International Liberty

Forget the debate over whether Obama is a socialist.

Now we’re discussing whether Jesus is for big government. Or, to be more accurate, the Pope has started a debate about whether free markets are bad, particularly for the poor.

Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute wrote about the underlying theological issues in an article for National Review, but I hope I also contributed to the secular aspect of the debate in this BBC interview.

The first thing I said was the rather obvious point that there’s a lot more to life than accumulating wealth.

My most important point was that capitalism is the only successful model for creating broadly shared prosperity and I used examples from the Pope’s home region of Latin America to show that nations with more economic liberty are far more successful.

But I emphasized that supporters of freedom have a challenge because many…

View original post 263 more words

Putin’s Amazing Opinion Piece

Here is a recent opinion article from Russian President Putin urging the USA to not use military intervention on Syria. I found it pretty convincing (of course he is hypocritical on some parts), and my favorite part is his quote deriding US exceptional-ism. I mean seriously, the US has to stop showing off and be humble. Anyway, here’s the article.

MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptional-ism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Fox News- Seriously?

Before I go on to post about Hyperdimensions Part 2, I thought for today we should have some comedy. Perhaps one very comedic organization is no- not Comedy Central, but Fox News. It’s comedy because of its stupidity. Two videos showing how messed up Fox News is-

I mean seriously? Fox News is like the epitome of stubbornness and dumbness. For instance, in the 1st video, obviously that lady was taking Obama’s quotes out of context. Yet, she still fights and doesn’t admit it. So pig-headed, yet so hilarious.

What’s even more hilarious, however, is when other comedians take use of this hilarious stupidity. Comedians like Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and his substitute John Oliver. Just watch and laugh.

I think that’s enough laughs for today (haha why is Fox so retarded). Obviously, Jon Stewart and John Oliver have made clear how Fox is so conservative and comedic. By the way, you should definitely one day watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Best comedy show ever.

Zimmerman Found Innocent

Reblogged from Yahoo! News:

SANFORD, Fla–George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman whose trial for the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin riveted viewers and sparked a national conversation about race and justice, was found not guilty on all charges Saturday.

Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder in the death of Martin, a 17 year old whom the defendant shot during a scuffle in a nearby gated community on Feb 26, 2012. The six-woman jury also found Zimmerman not guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The jury signaled they had reached a verdict 9:45 pm ET and filed into the courtroom around 10 pm. After the verdict was read, Judge Debra Nelson polled the jurors to make sure each agreed with the decision. She then told Zimmerman he was free to go.

Zimmerman showed little emotion as the verdict was announced.

The decision from the jury had been expected to spark outrage from Martin family supporters who say the teen’s death was ignored by police and prosecutors for weeks because of his race. Martin was black, and Zimmerman is half white and half Hispanic. But more than an hour after court was adjourned, only a handful of demonstrators were outside the courthouse and they were heavily outnumbered by members of the media trying to interview them.

Estefania Galvez, a protester with the national “Justice for Trayvon” group, said protesters will hold a press conference on Sunday at the courthouse to announce a national day of protest on Monday. There were reports of some demonstrations in other cities sparking late Saturday night. Dozens of people marched in San Francisco holding signs in support of Martin, and another spontaneous rally was reported in Washington D.C.

Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read. They later tweeted thanks to their supporters.

“Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control,” Fulton tweeted. “Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!”

Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, tweeted, “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY,” he wrote.

The jurors deliberated 12 hours on Saturday–including a one-hour lunch during which they were allowed to discuss the case–before alerting the court that they would like the attorneys to clarify the charge of manslaughter. The attorneys on both sides told the jury that they could not speak about the charge “in general terms” but would be happy to answer a more specific question.

The jury never sent back a more specific inquiry. They only made one other request during their deliberations–for an itemized list of all the evidence presented during the trial on Friday. They reached their verdict after 16 hours of deliberating over two days. The jurors, whose identities are protected by a court order, declined an opportunity to talk to the media after the verdict.

In a televised three-week trial, jurors heard the defense and prosecution each paint very different pictures of the night in question. Zimmerman was an angry “wannabe cop” who was seething with anger at a rash of break-ins in his neighborhood when he pursued and shot Martin, the state has argued. The defense, meanwhile, maintained Zimmerman was within his rights to follow and question Martin, and that it was the teen who became violent, prompting Zimmerman to shoot as a way to save his own life.

The case ignited a national debate over self-defense laws and race, prompting marches and demonstrations around the country. Local leaders have urged members of the community to remain peaceful no matter what verdict the jury hands down.

The prosecution failed to convince the jury that Zimmerman had “a depraved mind without regard for human life” when he shot Martin, which was required for second-degree murder. A lesser manslaughter conviction could have been handed down if the jury believed Zimmerman had no lawful reason to kill Martin, even if he bore Martin no ill will. The law says if Zimmerman had a “reasonable” belief that his own life was in jeopardy or that he could suffer bodily harm from Martin, he was justified in killing him.

At a press conference following the verdict, prosecutors expressed disappointment with the outcome but urged the community to remain calm.

“We have from the beginning just prayed for the truth to come out and for peace to be the result and that continues to be our prayers,” prosecutor John Guy said.

But prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda insisted the fundamentals of the case should have favored the prosecution. “We respect the jury’s verdict but really this is about a kid being followed by a stranger,” de la Rionda said.

Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney advising the Martin family, echoed that plea. “For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful,” Crump said at a press conference.

Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, told reporters that he believed Zimmerman will now try to return to a normal life. O’Mara said that Zimmerman was used as a “scapegoat” by people who wanted to create a civil rights violation, and was thus overcharged in the crime. “It certainly wouldn’t have happened if he was black,” O’Mara said of his client being charged with murder.

O’Mara also compared the media to “mad scientists” who had turned his client into a “monster” with shoddy reporting.

O’Mara mentioned that he will vigorously defend any forthcoming civil charges against his client, and that he may seek to recoup some of Zimmerman’s defense costs from the state.

Witnesses gave conflicting testimony over who was the aggressor of the fight and both Zimmerman’s family and Martin’s family have claimed it was their relative who could be heard screaming for help in the background of a 911 call during the fight.

Zimmerman wasn’t arrested in the shooting for weeks, after a public outcry. Bill Lee, then the police chief of Sanford, said Zimmerman was justified under Florida’s stand your ground self defense law. Lee lost his job after the incident, and a special prosecutor was appointed to argue the case.