Author: Editorial

November 5, 2013 Editorial

Check out the synopsis for movies coming out in November including: Dallas Buyers Club, Ender’s Game, Last Vegas, Big Sur, Diana, 12 Years a Slave, Free Birds, Man of Tai Chi, About Time, Thor: The Dark World, The Starving Games, The Book Thief, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Best Man Holiday, Charlie Countryman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Delivery Man, Nebraska, Black Nativity, Frozen, Homefront, Philomena, Oldboy, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

June 11, 2013 Editorial

You open up the mail and receive a letter that says “Congratulations! Your outstanding grades and/or achievements have opened up the opportunity to be a part of our awesome honor society.” So you run to the computer and say, “Sign me up!”

However as soon as you get to the join organization page you stop when you realize that it costs around $80-$120 to join, depending on the organization. Joining one organization isn’t too bad, but when you end up receiving offers from four to five different organizations it would be simply silly to accept every single one. So before you decide which society to join you must think to yourself if you actually want to be a part of a society as more than just a resume filler.

Take a look at the organization’s national or regional page and first determine what they can offer you. If you hope to go to grad school, look for an organization that gives you connections and scholarships to graduate schools. If you want to get money for school, see which ones offer the best scholarships that you are actually eligible for. If you want to give back to your community, see which ones are big on volunteering, host summits, and have opportunities for travel around the world. A lot of societies also offer discounts from companies like Geico and Dell. If you like discounts then see if any of the organizations offer them for companies you like to buy from.

The next step would be to look at your University’s chapters. See if they have a chapter homepage, a Facebook page, a collegiatelink page. Are they active? Do they host local events, consistent meetings, etc.? There is nothing worse than attempting to join a national organization and finding out that your chapter doesn’t do diddly-squat.

If possible, try to go visit informational booths during events like Kickoff to get a sense of what the chapter does. Also try to go to the organization’s meetings or events and meet the leaders and members. See what they have to offer you and let them know what you can offer them.

Figure out your time commitments. If an organization requires an induction process or mandatory volunteer work, make sure that you can actually find the time to complete them. What’s the point of joining an organization just to be stuck in limbo between non-member and full-fledged member?

Decide if you are able to be a part of more than one organization. This goes kind of with the figuring out your time commitments aspect of it. There is nothing wrong with being an active member of multiple organizations, but don’t be a part of so many that you are unable to contribute to them all.

Finally, figure out which one(s) will be the most fun. A society is meant to be a place for people to come together, make friends, do great things, reward accomplishments, and give back to others. If you don’t enjoy what you are a part of, then why be a part of it at all?

May 29, 2013 Editorial

Despite the gloom and overall lack of greenness, summer has arrived. While most students will go away to visit family or find some other adventure to occupy their summer vacations, some will continue to come to campus several days of the week to work a student job and earn some extra money.

May 29, 2013 Editorial

There is not a lack of interest in Alaska’s oil supply. So the old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” is not applicable to how legislators should be doing business with oil companies.

A better adage for the situation is, “If you sit and do nothing, they will still come — because it’s oil.”

But that’s not what happened in March when the Alaska Legislators voted to pass Senate Bill 21, which gave away multibillion-dollar tax cuts for oil companies with no guarantee on a return investment.

How much are these cuts costing Alaskans? Nearly $6 billion by 2020.

These cuts were made as an alleged “investment” in the state’s future. However, there has been no guarantee from lawmakers or oil companies that there actually will be any rewards for Alaskans to reap. There is no assurance that oil companies will use those savings to responsibly produce oil faster. Therefore, there is no certainty that jobs will be created on a long-term basis because of the cuts. There’s not even a guarantee that ensures the oil companies will use the saved money in Alaska.

The only guarantee granted in the passing of Senate Bill 21 is that it would pass.

The intricate conflicts of interests that ensured the passage of this bill run deep.

It seems like everyone had something to gain from padding the pockets of big oil businesses — from Governor Sean Parnell, a former ConocoPhillips lobbyist, to legislators employed by ConocoPhillips outside of the session, who endorsed and voted for the bill.

Because saving oil companies billions of dollars in taxes is a sure way to ensure job security and campaign funding.

The Vote Yes petition initiative aims to stop the tax cuts.

If enough signatures are gathered on the petition in each house district, it goes on the ballot in 2014 so Alaskans can have a say about how their state oil is used.

So take advantage of the moment and make your voice heard.

 

 

 

May 1, 2013 Editorial

Sometimes it is hard to look into the future optimistically. There is always going to be something along the path has not gone the way you had planned. There is always going to be some hope that burns inside you but slowly fades away as you realize that it may not be as attainable as hoped.

May 1, 2013 Editorial

Everyone already knows how important it is to take a five-minute break while studying and working.

These mini-breaks increase productivity and brain power. But what about a semester long break? Or a year-long hiatus? Even the thought of taking a break from college strikes fear in the heart of people.

Everyone has heard that waiting to go to college or taking a break from college will reduce one’s chances of completing a degree in higher education. But there’s no recent research to suggest that.

While a 2010 report from Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the non-college attendees have an immediate 33.4 percent unemployment rate, there are no long-term statistics about how many of these people later attend universities and earn a degree in higher education. So to say that at one point in a young person’s life they’ll be unemployed is a feeble argument against taking a break from school, especially when unemployment rates for graduates is the highest it’s been in generations and is generally accompanied with a mountain of debt.

Online search results turned up plenty of good reasons people have taken a break from college. These instances include money troubles, being unsure about one’s major, taking time to volunteer or intern fulltime in a career field and being in the midst of a distracting personal crisis. That’s not to say that there aren’t real risks to taking a break from college. But when it comes to a graduate possibly earning a degree in something they have no interest in or having to drop classes mid-semester, taking a break from college actually sounds like a good choice.

It certainly beats the alternatives of a lifetime of unfulfilling jobs and endless payments to loan collectors. And don’t worry about feeling out of the education loop. Remember, everyone has their own timeline for their life and nobody’s is exactly the same.

April 24, 2012 Editorial

UAA may be making a small, but resounding, mistake. On April 6, the decision came to cut the UAA Housing Recreation & Activities program from the university. The reason, according to Business Services Director Bob McDonnell, centered on budgetary concerns that there wasn’t enough revenue to keep the rec program afloat. There wasn’t enough revenue…

April 17, 2012 Editorial

It seemed like a scene out of a movie: a pretty young woman working late, alone and probably without a care in the world — until out of nowhere a man takes her by gunpoint to an unknown location, probably never to be seen again.

April 10, 2012 Editorial

The racist shot the drug dealer.

If mass media is to be taken at its word, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin assume different roles each day in the revolving door of a story being broadcast on every news outlet available for the past month.

March 27, 2012 Editorial

The editorial this week discusses One Anchorage’s Proposition 5, equal rights for gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, which will take place on the April 3 municipal ballot, and why the general population should vote in favor of it.

January 24, 2012 Editorial

It’s been nearly a month since Anchorage police began searching bars for people who were a bit too drunk, aka the “drunk plus.” Through Alaska statue 04.16.040 Access of Drunken Persons to Licensed Premises, police enter bars in plainclothes and identify those they believe are intoxicated, eventually charging them with drunkenness on a licensed premise.

December 6, 2011 Editorial

In recent weeks, we’ve been going down the line of states to see which will dare to call their amply decorated and brightly lit spruce trees Christmas trees or holiday trees. In Rhode Island, it’s a holiday tree, though calling it so cause much grief for Gov. Chafee.

December 1, 2011 Editorial

The Penn State investigation has led most to question not only how someone could commit such acts, but also how other people could fail to stop them from happening.  If asked, most Americans would say they would’ve intervened if they had seen what assistant coach Mike McQueary says he saw happening in a shower between an older man and a ten year old boy who were both naked.

Yes, we’d all like to believe we’d do the right thing if confronted with such an awful situation.  And maybe we would.  But this circumstance and other incidents of the news where bystanders watch bad things happen without intervening puts that certainty out of focus.

Perhaps you’ve heard the advice to yell “fire” when you need help. Though experts disagree on the need for that method, it’s based on research that is generally well accepted: the bystander effect.

Those who have studied the bystander effect say statistics show that the more bystanders are present at an incident, the less likely any one of them is to intervene.  The reasons behind those numbers, apparently, are two fold.  One reason is that each bystander expects someone else will take care of intervening, leaving them to feel less responsible.  Another reason for this effect states that when others don’t immediately react, the bystanders take it as a cue that it is not necessary to react or that it is not appropriate to intervene.

There are other reasons people don’t intervene when it would seem appropriate.  For example, these days many people ask themselves, “How will this affect me?” before intervening.  This is at least partially due to reports of those with good intentions getting sued by victims and their families for wrongful death or for injuring a victim further.

Others say that after decades of violent imagery and crude behavior and language in games, movies and television, we are desensitized when we see something that might require us to intervene.

These are just some of the reasons that point to, but do not justify, why someone could see what Mike McQueary says he saw without stopping it right then and there, let alone without calling the police.

But these reasons are all explained by a moral ambiguity that our society has fallen into.  When confronted with a challenging moral situation like needing to intervene on someone else’s behalf due to a crime or some other emergency, people do not have a strong conviction of what they would absolutely, no questions asked, do in that moral situation.  People look to others to intervene.  Or they look to laws to take care of the situation.  Worse yet, they don’t even recognize the issue as something that requires intervening or they wonder how it will affect them before they consider taking action.

Being aware of these issues that stand in the way of doing the right thing and really thinking on specific examples of incidents in which we might react and intervene on someone else’s behalf will prepare us in the event we are ever called to do so.

 

 

November 1, 2011 Editorial

These days mankind seems to lose sight of the future and only think of ways to make a quick buck. Instead of that limited approach, we should be focusing on the longevity of our planet and how we’re going to keep our grandchildren fed.

October 25, 2011 Editorial

After last week’s news of Libyan Dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi’s death, people struggled to find meaning in Colonel’s demise.  Besides the question of what comes next, there are really two observations that come forward for Americans.  The first is that President Obama has gained serious bona fides in the world of foreign policy during his three years in office.  The second observation made by analysts, is that it might be more dangerous to be an American ally in the Middle East than an enemy of our nation.

Obama campaigned on closing Guantanamo Bay, and even announced his order for it to be closed just two months into his presidency.  Smacks could be heard around the country as Republicans responded with facepalms.  Republicans also labeled Obama’s series of speeches around the world early in his term the “apology tour.”  Though he never actually apologized, some things he said could be construed that way, including a comment he made during a speech in France.

“There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive,” Obama said before announcing that America is changing.

But Republicans should lay off.  The truth of the matter is that Obama has continued much of President George W. Bush’s foreign policies, as well as keeping several of his staff on board.  Guantanamo Bay remains open.  Afghanistan is just now recovering from a surge modeled after the one Bush oversaw in Iraq.  Osama Bin Laden is dead.  And now Qaddafi is dead.  And it seems like every month we have a report of some terror plot our law enforcement stopped dead in its tracks.

That list of accomplishments is not too shabby considering what Republicans were predicting on behalf of Obama’s foreign policy.

True, there have been mistakes and Republicans have bones to pick with the president (see the complete troop withdrawal in Iraq set to be complete by the end of the year).  Yet with his accomplishments, it seems unlikely Republicans will be able to make a case convincing to the American people.  Obama has taken foreign policy off of the 2012 table.

Or has he?

Qaddafi’s death also pushes to the forefront the idea that it might be more dangerous to be an ally of America than an enemy for countries in the Middle East.  Qaddafi was an awful dictator, but he was somewhat obedient to the U.S., as shown in his deliverance of all nuclear weapons by 2006 (after he saw what happened to Iraq).  Yet when rebels in Libya tried to overthrow his government, the U.S. (via NATO) stepped in to assist with a sophisticated air campaign.

Many analysts said the government and law enforcement response to Syrian protests were more brutal than what we saw in Libya, with over 3,000 dead as of this month.  Those dead include unarmed women and children.  But we’ve not stepped in there to aid protestors.

And in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to make efforts to build his nuclear weapons program.  According to our state department, he is also engaged in assassination efforts in our own country.  He’s called for a world without America and Israel.  Truly, the list of Ahmadinejad’s evil practices is lengthy.  When Iranians courageously protested the results of a rigged Presidential election proclaiming Ahmadinejad as the winner, many were arrested and killed in response.

Yet no action has come as a result from our country.  Not during the protests, as we did in Libya.  Not after the assassination attempts in our own country.  But watch out, we have threatened tougher sanctions, again.

What is the difference between Libya and Syria versus Iran?  Perhaps the more appropriate observation might be that it’s more dangerous to be an enemy (Iraq) or ally (Libya) with oil in the Middle East than anything else.

As Libya files its citizens through to see the corpse of their former dictator, America should also take some time to reflect on what Qaddafi’s death means to us.

October 19, 2011 Editorial

The Federal Government’s recently failed bet on the future success of solar panel start-up Solyndra wasted roughly half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

An important impact of the Solyndra failure is that it has given added weight to critics of any government attempt to steer the private sector toward fewer emissions and more green technology.

The effect of this boondoggle is further amplified by the continual decline in Americans’ interest (and even belief) in the changing climate. Even Barack Obama, who promised to make the United States a “leader” in the fight against global warming, failed to mention the issue in his most recent State of the Union address.

Looking at the 2012 presidential hopefuls, and the relatively cool weather felt across much of the country last year that eased worry for many of a warming globe, it seems that advocates of an American green economy should be bracing for an even colder winter ahead.

But this apathetic trend is a tragedy. In the last few years, scientific consensus about the causes and likely effects of climate change, already strong, has increased. Traditionally uncooperative nations, like China and India, have taken steps to address their own emissions with a cap and trade plan and coal tax respectively.

Still, green energy and climate mitigation plans will never gain much momentum in the United States if the government continues to mess up with the ones that we do have. And contrary to what many conservatives would have us believe, failure is not how it has to be.

The crucial distinction that leaders who are interested in more green programs should be making is between plans that offer direct investments for companies, and those that offer them incentives.

More than just rhetorically, politicians should avoid ‘picking winners’ in the private sector, no matter how noble the intention; like Michael and baseball, it’s just not their sport. This mistake however, isn’t just reserved for socialist Democrats. George Bush’s ethanol subsidies led to overinvestment in a sector that wasn’t naturally the best choice, and an ultimate bust that hurt everyone involved– even those that wanted more clean sources of fuel.

Government is good for reflecting and acting on societies’ normative views of what should be, but it isn’t a good business partner.

Incentives for companies and individuals however, for such broad goals as ‘fewer carbon emissions’ and ‘renewable sources of energy,’ combine the best of the public and private sectors. Incentive based policies allow the market to do what it does best; harness individual creativity and pick winners- in more efficient pursuit of worthwhile goals.

Cap-and-trade plans and investments in research, rather than production, are two examples of policies that can work. The result of using incentives, rather than investments, will not only be fewer wasted dollars and greater progress towards reduced emissions, but also more public willingness to pursue such plans in the first place.

As scientists become more certain of the threats posed by global warming, why it is that politicians continue to think they are able to pick winners remains a mystery.

 

October 5, 2011 Editorial

Last fall, when school administrators proposed raising tuition costs by 22 percent, there was one thing that stopped them:  student protests. After students staged protests and went to meetings to plead their case, tuition hikes were dropped back down to five percent.

Free speech and the freedom to protest is one of the most fundamental parts of the college experience.  Two recent incidents in California colleges highlight the need for free speech.

Diversity Bake Sale

Members of the College Republicans (CRs) at UC Berkeley wanted to protest a Senate bill that is about to come across California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk regarding affirmative action.  The bill would overturn a ballot initiative passed by voters in 1996 that “outlawed” allowing public universities to consider race, gender and ethnicity in admissions decisions.

But it’s the way the CRs decided to protest that caused controversy. Last Tuesday they hosted a “diversity bake sale” that sold baked goods with prices set according to race. White students paid $2, Asians paid $1.50, Latinos paid $1, African Americans paid 75 cents, Native Americans paid 25 cents and all women were offered a discount of 25 cents.

When the sale was announced on Facebook a week prior, the backlash started.  Students, administrators, student government members, members of the local community, politicians, media members and, of course, Facebookers denounced the group and their initiative. They called for the CRs to lose funding, naming them racists and threatening physical violence.  Thankfully, on the day of the actual bake sale, the CRs were able to host their bake sale while hundreds of people came to counter-protest, and no violence ensued.

Which is kind of the point, isn’t it?

The fact that the event sparked such strong feelings on both sides is exactly the point of free speech and protesting.  While the CRs had good intentions, the way they carried out the measure was certainly controversial. Nonetheless, it was taken out of context, probably because of how fired up racial tensions are these days, three years after electing Barack Obama.

But that’s okay, because the college campus should be the scene of young minds debating on topics of little to major importance, and we should fight to protect this right. So many unpopular ideas have started off across college campuses throughout history, only to later become the norm (see anti-Vietnam sentiment).  That testing ground is sacred.

That testing ground is also funny, especially since we as college students tend to not take ourselves as seriously as our senior compadres.  Although some people chose to take the matter to extremes, the CR president Shawn Lewis said the entire event was supposed to be satirical.  And it was, as one Facebooker pointed out.

“The educational value of this exercise will be lost when Pocahontas walks away with a truckload of free cupcakes,” wrote Mike Creamer.

Yet there are times when free speech on a college campus turns to something that no one is laughing at.

Irvine 11

One of those times happened in February of 2010 at UC Irvine.  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren had been invited to speak on the campus. Members of the Muslim Student Union planned to disrupt the speech, saying in emails that they “will not allow a platform for him to spread lies on our campus.”

Members from the group were successful, 11 of them as a matter of fact, now dubbed the ‘Irvine 11.”  These members interrupted the speech at alternating intervals, yelling out phrases like “war criminal” and “apartheid.”  Ten of the students were convicted of two misdemeanors, conspiring to disrupt a meeting and disrupting a meeting, and were given community service and probation as a sentence.

The event highlights the difference between free speech and protesting with that of being rude while infringing on others’ rights. The students who wanted their voices to be heard had, and still have, every right to stand outside of the meeting and make their feelings known. They also have every right to sit quietly in the meeting to listen.  But they do not, as the court found, have a right to infringe on the other students’ rights to hear what the Ambassador came to say.

That said, was it necessary to charge them criminally?  Could the protestors not have been escorted out, as they were, but not charged criminally?  Apparently not in Orange County. Some question if the convictions came along with some sort of anti-Muslim sentiment since similar protests, without convictions, have occurred in the golden state. Whether or not that is true is unknown, but what is known is that the convictions have served to put a damper on activism as students question whether their actions might land them in court.

Although a criminal conviction took punishment overboard, the event does serve on purpose. Perhaps it will also serve as a reminder on how to be civil when exercising your constitutional right to free speech, so that we can all continue to enjoy it for years to come.

 

September 28, 2011 Editorial

Although the United States is one of Israel’s largest allies, it seems many American’s have an extremely vague idea of what took place Sept. 23. However, this event was a life changing experience for Israeli-American Mati BeKoach and Palestinian-American Dana Balboul.

September 21, 2011 Editorial

Jennifer Aniston’s character on Friends, Rachel, once lamented after receiving her very first paycheck, “Who’s FICA?  Why’s he getting all of my money?”  Rachel was echoing a question many of us have asked when we see our paycheck go down by at least five percent because of “FICA.”

FICA, or Federal Insurance Contributions Act, is what takes money out of your paycheck and puts it in “the bank” for Social Security and Medicare.

For the last several years, FICA are in the heat of a political debate that is set to be one of the defining issues of the 2012 campaign season.  Political pundits argue that presidential candidates, including the incumbent President Barack Obama, will be vying for that all important “mature” vote while they debate this issue.

But it shouldn’t just be those “mature” folks that pay attention to the debate.  College age voters should be paying close attention.  That money comes out of our paychecks too.

Social Security, of course, is the system that allows you to collect a retirement check at 67 that will keep you earning a little less than half of what you were earning before you decided to go waste away in Margaritaville.  And Medicare will help you get medical care after you get far too sunburnt on the beach.

Most politicians, including Obama, admit that the system needs to be reformed.  The status quo simply is not going to do.  And why is that?  Well, for one, there have been several years that the Social Security program did not take in as much money as it needed to pay out.  And that is only going keep happening with increasing regularity.

Social Security has a trust fund that earns interest that can backfill in these types of situations.  The problem with that “failsafe” however, is that Congress routinely takes money out of that fund.  In fact, President Bill Clinton borrowed money from that fund to “balance the budget,” as did President George W. Bush, who cut taxes at the same time.

The bottom line is that there is some inherent risk in the Social Security program, and politicians are going to be bringing it up more and more.  While it is a program that has “worked” for years, that doesn’t mean it’s a great program.

In fact, why shouldn’t younger members be allowed to opt out of the program?  That may seem radical, but after you pay taxes, why should the government tell you what to do with your money?  If that extra $100 a month could help you make rent or buy you food for the month, isn’t it you who should decide if you save it for retirement or if you eat?  Furthermore, if you want to invest that money in something other than this system, why shouldn’t you be able to?

There is one basic argument against those questions: we’re not responsible enough to save our own money; we need the government to do it for us.  And let’s be honest, there is a lot of truth to that statement.  A lot .  But it also creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.  People have a way of living up to the expectations given them.  If the government keeps expecting and providing for young people to be irresponsible, then they will be.

Another rebuttal to the responsibility argument is that there is no freedom in a mandatory program.  If, as a young adult, I want to save my money differently (or not save it at all), that should be my choice to make.  If you want to put your money elsewhere (say, pay student loans off first, then start saving for retirement), shouldn’t you be able to do that?

Finally, most retirees do not live off of Social Security alone.  In fact, it usually accounts for 50 percent or less of their income.  So it’s not a failsafe.  Some people might wish to put all of their retirement money into a different type of investment instead of splitting it.

The bottom line is that young people should be paying attention to this Social Security debate that will without a doubt be a large part of both parties’ bid for the White House in 2012.  Especially since it is our money that is paying the Social Security bill as we speak.

September 13, 2011 Editorial

It’s the fall of 2011, and we are approaching three years since the worst of the economic collapse.

Thanks to bailouts, our banks have been stabilized and are profitable; our major car manufacturers have survived another day; and we’ve avoided (for now) a major depression.

What hasn’t been fixed, and who still remains in crisis, are jobs and America’s workforce. Unemployment figures, those who are out of work and are actively seeking a job, are at 9.1 percent.

Thanks in part to our plentiful natural resources but also our insatiable appetite for bold capital projects and infrastructure development; Alaska has withstood the worst of the fallout.

Take for instance the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

Though it succeeds because of a resource that not everyone else has, it exists because of an approach that others should. The Pipeline was a bold infrastructure project that forced the creators to come up with new methods and technologies to make the seemingly impossible pipe dream happen.

Now a generation later, not only is the Pipeline paying its own dividends, but as it was constructed, it put thousands of Alaskans to work.

If we want to see a decrease in unemployment nationally and have a country that is efficient to do business in the future, our answer may lie in the lessons of the Last Frontier.

Now more than ever when our current infrastructure is crumbling and outdated, and our people need work, we need to make bold investments in our national infrastructure. Repairing and improving roads, bridges, mass transportation, and grid systems may jumpstart the country what the Pipeline provided for our state.

There’s more to learn from the Alaska spirit than just than the teachings of the oil industry. Bernie Karl, the owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, is a perfect example.

Karl combined bold business decisions with a blue-collar mentality in retool how his resort was powered. The resort owner, being on a hot springs, wanted to run Chena off of geothermal power, but conventional wisdom in the field said that his water wasn’t hot enough, and that it would be impossible.

Thinking like an Alaskan, Karl decided that if water wouldn’t work, he’d just use refrigerator coolant instead. Though he had to build it himself, Karl’s experiment is now a wild success. His ice castle, hot springs resort, and power plant aren’t the end of his ambitions; Karl is now experimenting with other sources of alternative energy, and helping the economy as he does.

The bottom line is that this nation’s economy would benefit from more Americans being inspired to build assets, not just trade them. Job creators can be anyone with an idea and drive to act, so lets make like the North and get to work.

September 7, 2011 Editorial

What did we learn the first week back to school? We learned that driving around UAA is downright infuriating and can turn even the gentlest of souls into drivers out of Mario Kart. It has become common for drivers to use speed bursts and a cutthroat mentality to get to a parking spot first or get to class first.

We might as well equip all students who buy parking permits here at UAA a standard trio of red shells and green shells to play offense and defense when they deem it necessary. It’s the least they can give us for the amount of money we put in the schools pocket when purchasing a permit.

Speaking of those permits, what’s the point of them if a student can’t find a parking spot anyways? Also, how many got the memo about needing a parking permit the first week of school by finding the ticket on their windshield during the first week? For those who didn’t know, parking permits were usually not absolutely required until the second week of school.

The equation for parking chaos was in full effect this past week.

Start with a higher number of students back on campus who are driving (some of whom are still confused as to where their classes are), add in the fact that UAA never has seemed to have the parking space required for the amount of commuters that pour in each day, now a dash of construction (a section of about 50 parking spaces taken up over by Rasmusson Hall and the Wells Fargo Sports Complex), and finally a pinch of mounting frustrations and desperation from students who are not going to get their classes on time and look to take more risks in getting the coveted spot, which may or may not be on the other side of campus now.

The parking lots are not the only places of building tensions. The roads in and around UAA have become more and more crippled due to the volume of traffic and pedestrian use.

This past week, a bicyclist was hit while crossing UAA Drive. While the accident may have not been due to reckless driving, it is still an accident that unfortunately may have been coming for some time. Good news was that the bicyclist suffered only minor injuries but this kind of thing can become more common due to all those who are even slightly distracted when moving about campus.

So how do we fix all of this around UAA and begin to stop the bleeding of this daily problem? It is a problem that both sides contribute to and that both sides will need to be willing to adjust to in order to settle the tensions and risks of driving around campus.

To the drivers: try and get here earlier to give yourself ample time. Think about parking on one side of campus and getting on foot. Slow it down in the parking lots and surrounding streets around campus. If you’re late your late but don’t risk yours and your cars safety as well as your fellow students and their rides around campus.

If you insist on being vultures in the main parking lots, try and relax and know that others are going through the same problem of watching others get parking spaces while you yell explicative in your car and continue to circle.

Lastly, put away the cell phones. Honestly, was your math class that exciting or dull that you have to share it with the world by a call, text message, Facebook post while driving between classes? Really? Just put it down and focus on the road and save that for later if you insist.

To the university: construction waiting until the school year to commence is pretty rough whether it was foreseen or a sudden development. Make every effort to avoid taking spots away to those who pay considerable money to park here for the school year.

To solve pedestrian safety, lets see some crosswalk lights and/or crosswalk policemen. Instead of having one or two students hold up traffic by crossing, have it go in 30 second spells where drivers get to go through and let a crowd of pedestrians build up. Then, give the pedestrians their 15-30 seconds to get across while traffic waits. There will no longer be any question as to has the right away and will let the traffic flow better.

Perhaps some of these ideas will see the parking lots and streets at UAA become a little less hectic. As much as we may think, Mario Kart is best played on the TV screen and not in real life.

August 23, 2011 Editorial

How many people reading this have ever had an illegal drink before they were 21 years old?

How many have seen themselves or a friend get caught drinking while under age and thought it was an absolutely ridiculous thing to be busted for?

The simple fact is that 18 year olds receive the right to vote, get married, and go into the military three whole years before they can have a beer legally. We’re talking about handing out life-altering responsibilities but leaving one major one out.

America is at the top of a list when it comes to the having highest drinking age enforced in the world. Only Indonesia, Palau, and Mongolia match the US in allowing young adults to consume alcohol only when they reach 21 years of age.

We can’t kid ourselves; alcohol is a big responsibility no matter at what age it is granted. To not allow an adult the right to drink until 21 is not only insulting, it is proving to be more harmful than ever intended.

When Congress originally passed this legislation in the mid-1980’s, it was done with the best of intentions to lower alcohol-related accidents and fatalities in vehicles. The group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), was the driving force behind the issue getting into the national spotlight.

It’s been over 20 years since US Congress passed the law to raise the minimum legal drinking age, and the debate that has ensued has never seemed to lose its steam.

Though statistics have shown a small decline in alcohol-related accidents in the country, it has given way to a problem everyone knows about but doesn’t really question.

Underage drinking has become more and more noticeable but is often glanced over and even accepted. Though local law officers enforce this infraction, kids still continue to drink. They go underground and find ways to avoid getting caught.

There is never a shortage of people, older siblings, or even parents/guardians who will supply the booze for their underage kids. Kids looking to drink will find a way to get their hands on some alcohol and then will move into the shadows, so to speak.

It is in these shadows that binge drinking has become the problem that needs addressed. Most of us know how it goes: you gather up your friends, find a buyer, gather up a meeting spot to discuss the prospective place or places to drink, and then hit it hard when you get there.

These binge drinking sessions often lead to tragic instances of alcohol poisoning and poor decision making that wouldn’t occur if young adults were in bars, surrounded by an older and more responsible crowd instead of in the woods out by Eklutna.

Kids have all different sorts of reasons to go out and drink. Some do it to be cool, others do it because it’s something to do, others do it to fit in. However, most of them are in over their heads from the start and it’s simply because they haven’t been educated about alcohol use. More and more kids are facing down Minor in Consumption (MIC) charges and it has become one of these most common juvenile offenses kids pick up before the age of 21.

So how do we fix the problem? Simple, educate the kids and give them the responsibility of drinking at an earlier age. If they’re truly considered adults at the age of 18, then why not let them consume alcohol.

What argument is there really?

Are 18-year-old kids more likely to drive drunk than when they’re 21? More and more people are seeing the stupidity of driving drunk and that the law is coming down harder than ever on those who choose to drive drunk.

What about the maturity level differences? Yes, an 18-year-old kid is not as mature as a 21-year-old. However, is the difference that big? Research has suggested a very subtle change in brain and body maturity but this is where the education comes in. Teach the kids about it, they’ll listen, and most of them will be thankful to be treated as an adult and given the choice and responsibility that comes with their actions.

Also, why is it we can buy cigarettes, a far more harmful product for our bodies and those around us, at 19 years old? 21 is an arbitrarily picked line, and holding adults in limbo for 3 years before they are allowed to consume encourages the worst patterns of drinking behavior.

August 9, 2011 Editorial

We were warned two months ago that the greatest threat to our national security was our national debt by Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Today, Mullen is scrambling to find nearly one trillion dollars in cuts for the defense budget.

July 26, 2011 Editorial

No doubt by now most people are aware that UAA is about to get a new $109 million sports arena that will house their rising athletic programs. It is long overdue and will accompany the outdated Wells Fargo Sports Complex as a beacon for the prospering Seawolf Athletic Department.

What some people don’t know is that the plans for this new state-of –the-art arena have no plans for installation of a hockey rink.

To some, this is a bit alarming, due to the fact that other than Seawolf gymnastics (which will gain a new practice facility in the arena), hockey is the only Division I program we have.

How is it that one of the largest sources of revenue for the whole UAA athletic department is getting left out in the cold on this one?

It also begs another question: is the hockey program no longer the crown jewel of the department?

Bear in mind, the hockey team doesn’t get the audience it should receive. They have quite a bit going for them that often gets overlooked.

They still play in the top conference in all of college hockey and are unquestionably a program on the rise in the past few years. Their trip to the WCHA Final Five this year won’t be their last for sometime. The caliber of players recruited to adorn the green and gold continues to grow, and the grassroots movement is transitioning into high numbers in the wins column.

Students, and the community as a whole, needs to show that this is truly a hockey town, and get on the bandwagon. Shame on us for constantly not making the effort to attend these games, that even offer free admission for students.

For a program to truly thrive, it needs the support of its community and university. Whether they agree or not, the university has dropped the ball on this one and is selling the hockey program short with the exclusion of a new pond for the hockey team to play on.

The new 6,000-seat arena also may show that the school is putting their main focus on the basketball programs as the face of the athletic department.

There can be no argument that the hoopsters at this school have enjoyed quite a bit of success in the recent past. They are constantly contending for titles on both the men and women’s sides, and are rightfully going to be rewarded when the doors open to their new home in a few years. They will also get to play the Great Alaska Shootout at their new digs instead of the Sullivan Arena.

However, one only has to ask around and they will hear about the glory days that the Seawolf hockey team enjoyed back in the 90’s. The Sully was rocking and UAA hockey was the toughest ticket to come by.

The chance is here again to help take that next step to restoring the hockey team to the upper echelon. Let’s rethink these plans and get them a place to play within the new Seawolf Arena.

July 12, 2011 Editorial

If you’re looking for a presidential campaign laden with social issues and tough talk on terrorism talk, look again. The 2012 election will be based on the economy, if we’re lucky.

In recent years, presidential campaigns have focused on a variety of issues, regardless of the President’s actual power over them while in office.

For instance, President George W. Bush campaigned against gay marriage and was able to get his base out to vote in 2004 because of it. In 2006, the Marriage Protection Amendment he backed failed to pass in Congress, showing his lack of power on the issue.

Similarly, every campaign is scrutinized for its position on abortion. Yet despite the hours that are spent on each issue by commentators, reporters and voters dissecting candidates’ statements on these issues, neither is at the mercy of executive action.

It is curious that even one of the most liberal presidents in history, President Obama, has failed to take a firm stance on the issue of gay marriage and has been inactive on the issue of abortion. The reason is simple. There is nothing to be gained by a president or presidential candidate by choosing a side on this issue. While it may not be the morally steadfast approach, it is certainly politically smart to stay on the sidelines.

But do we really think that politicians on either side are primarily driven by heart, morals and personal values anyway? Not likely.

Plus with states deciding on an individual basis, why alienate members on either side of the issue?

Especially when there are more important things to talk about.

One of those things might seem to be the war on terrorism. Yet, even that is not a great issue for the challenger in the upcoming campaign. For President Obama it will certainly be something to talk about. His handling of Afghanistan may be his most shining presidential moment, even as more and more Americans approve of the withdrawal. And it is because of that general approval, along with decent ratings on the handling of Iraq that Obama’s challenger need not wade into that pool.

But Obama needn’t get too cocky as both sides can’t wait to attack his decision on Libya.

What does a presidential campaigner have to gain from on the issue? Not much. Americans know what they think about these social issues.

What is to gain, and what most Americans care about right now, is the economy. So, if Obama and his opponent are smart, and we’re lucky, that’s what we’ll be hearing from them in the next year and a half.

We need a plan. We need a plan to get out of this erroneously labeled “recovering” economy. And the competition of ideas is what America is about. Solid ideas to help America that are not weighed down by social rhetoric. When we get the chance to decide whether the democrats or republicans can produce a candidate with ideas that are worth a damn, maybe we’ll get a recovering economy as the end result.

June 28, 2011 Editorial

CIRI and Chugach Electric finalized a deal last week to begin construction of the Railbelt’s first commercial wind farm on Fire Island, off the coast of Anchorage.  This project comes at a time when a sustainable and diversified energy portfolio is urgently needed for Southcentral utilities.

Environmentally, Alaska is ground zero for climate change. We are warming faster, and have more to lose, than any other state in the union. If we want our calls for action to be listened to nationally, we should be walking the talk on reducing carbon emissions.

But even for residents who scoff at such environmental concerns, the economic opportunities should be more than ample warrant for action. Southcentral relies upon Cook Inlet’s natural gas, which has a rapidly approaching expiration-date. Joe Griffith, GM of the Matanuska Electric Association and former CEO of Chugach Electric, warned last year that “the only guaranteed power source [for Southcentral] after 2014 was hydro.”

Even though recently announced leases for oil may yield some extra gas in Cook Inlet, its declining production and globally rising prices mean that the consistent price of renewable energy make it smart risk-management, and an increasingly cost-competitive choice.

Over the last several years, the environmental and economic sides of the case for alternative energy have been made so strongly and repeatedly that there are few public figures that haven’t given at least lip service to the idea.

Still, for people in this state that have influence over such things (which includes most everyone from Chugach members on up), they must choose between taking a passive and an aggressive approach to new energy projects.

Though the current progress on the Fire Island project would not have happened without presence of the latter among the Chugach board, CIRI and many other groups; the former has been on display frequently as well.

Aside from ML&P’s recent low-ball bid to purchase Fire Island wind, the project has faced engineering challenges such as potential air-traffic interference, that have had many prematurely willing to admit defeat.

Perhaps this is merely a sad drop in spirit since the days of building the impossible Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It could also be that the popularity of ‘green technology’ among young environmentalists and liberal politicians has some conservative types instinctively suspicious.

But as more renewable projects move from concept to reality, electrical workers and engineers are replacing activists as the face of green technology. Southcentral has many more possible projects to decide upon as well in the near-term, from a Mt. Spurr geothermal plant to the other thirds of Fire Island. Hopefully, aggressive pursuit of renewable energy will replace the passive approach as the face of our utilities as well.

June 14, 2011 Editorial

More nonsense out of Juneau this week. This time however, it had nothing to do with the Senate and House engaging in who-can-hold-their-breath-longer games. No, this time the shocking and disappointing behavior came straight from the governor’s office.

As governor, Sean Parnell has made some bold moves this term, for better or worse. Most recently, his office announced that the long-awaited release of former Governor Sarah Palin’s emails would only be made available via one hard copy in Juneau, beginning last Friday.

In 2008, numerous news organizations requested access to then Governor and also Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s emails that were sent and received as governor. The request was made under the Freedom of Information Act, which is what allows citizens and journalists to be the government watchdogs they are supposed to be. Public access to government records is an important part of democracy, and one that government officials should take seriously.

Incidents like the Pentagon Papers and even the recent Wikileaks should remind government officials that public perception of a secretive government will end in the public getting the information, one way or another. The more open a government is with the public, the less likely it is that the public (and rogue public officials) will feel the need to secure alternate, sometimes illegal, access to information. And though Palin’s emails are not likely to reveal life-changing information, the fact is that they are, by law, open to the public.

So, when a group of news organizations including the Anchorage Daily News, The Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and The Washington Post among others, made the request in 2008, they probably did not foresee the repeated delays they would encounter. The excuses for delay were varied, including the expense and the time it would take, as well as failed legal arguments.

The bottom line, as was eventually decided, was that the law says that the governor’s emails are open records, with few exceptions. And those exceptions have been accounted for, as over 2,400 emails are being held back because they are exempt and many of the emails released have been redacted with the infamous black lines.

Not only has the government taken over two years to honor the legal request delivering the emails, they’ve giftwrapped the begrudgingly given final product in bullshit. Apparently, email, which stands for electronic mail, cannot be handled electronically. And for those who couldn’t make it to Juneau, a simple copying fee of $725.97 plus shipping could land you the emails in all of their glorious 250 pounds. To make matters worse, MSNBC is reporting they’ve left out all attachments that were in the emails.

The problem with this type of release is that it’s not really making the information accessible, especially considering the information was taken from electronic form and put into an expensive and wasteful paper form.

Juneau Senator Dennis Egan fought successfully to have paper copies mailed to Anchorage and Fairbanks for review, though this is still not a great option. MSNBC, Mother Jones and ProPublica plan to scan all the emails and make them available on their websites in PDF form. A job the governor’s office should have done.

By making them available the way the Parnell administration did, they clearly showed their favor toward Palin and disdain for the public’s right to information.

The saddest part about this process is that the emails will likely lead to less scandal than the handling of the release of the emails. Consider our knowledge of Palin’s term. We’ve been embarrassed by her abuse of power, arrogance and pettiness. And based on her most recent Paul Revere comments, she’ll continue to drop golden eggs for late-night comedians into the foreseeable future. But that is already true without these emails. Couple that with redactions and thousands of pages and what are we likely to learn?

At worst, more of the same. All this troublesome government behavior for that?

 

May 31, 2011 Editorial

The MTS Gallery is closing its doors after five years of operation. The gallery was the stomping ground of many local artists. A spot where creative minds could mingle, contemplate both art and current issues, as well as entertain. In other words, it was a community fixture, and it is now being demolished.

Located in one of Anchorage’s oldest neighborhoods, the Mountain View gallery’s closing party aptly titled “The Artists Have Left the Building,” showcased that the artistic space was capable of bringing people together. MTS Gallery was not unsuccessful.