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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The American Conservative Youth Union

You may have noticed that I have not posted in awhile. Well, I have been designing and working with Andy Nevis on a new website called the American Conservative Youth Union, or ACYU.

The ACYU is a blog/website with content written entirely by conservative youth age 13-21. It is just getting started, but already we have over ten contributors waiting to post. So please, support your future conservative leaders, and give the ACYU a read.

If you are a conservative youth yourself, we would love to have you! Please click here to learn more about contributing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Doctors Refuse to Assist Execution

From the Times Online:

The execution of a Californian man was postponed at the last minute yesterday after two court-appointed doctors refused to help to administer the lethal injection, a move that reignited America’s death penalty debate.

Michael Morales, who has been on death row since 1983 for the rape and murder of a teenage girl, was scheduled to die at 12.01am. But the execution was suddenly put off after the two anaesthetists withdrew, claiming their involvement would violate their medical oath to preserve life.

The involvement of the doctors, which had been ordered by a judge, was the first such case in the US and stemmed directly from research in The Lancet, the British medical journal, last year. The article, published in April, has shaken up advocates on both sides of the death penalty issue in the US because it suggested that some prisoners executed by lethal injection suffered agonising deaths...

...But rather than stay the execution, the judge gave prison officials two options: bring in the doctors to ensure that Morales was properly anaesthetised, or forgo the paralysing and heart-stopping drugs and kill Morales with a huge dose of barbiturates. The state of California agreed to provide two unidentified anaesthetists.

Just hours before the execution time, everything appeared in order. Despite the fierce opposition to medical participation in executions by the American Society of Anaesthesiologists and the American Medical Association, on the ground that physicians take an oath to preserve life, the two doctors are understood to have volunteered to attend the lethal injection procedure.

Then, shortly before the execution was due to take place, the doctors withdrew. They appear to have become alarmed at the details of the judge’s order, in particular a requirement that they intervene in the event that Morales woke up or appeared to be in pain. “Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical,” they said.

Morales was again due to be executed early today, this time by a fatal overdose of barbiturates. But the delays and confusion increased hopes among death penalty opponents that both public opinion, and that of the courts, was shifting against the death penalty.

Here's more from The Mercury News:

"the state said it could not find a licensed medical professional to give the lethal injection. Previously, prison employees have inserted the intravenous lines, and then the drugs were added by a machine."

Doctors are violating the Hippocratic oath when they assist in executions. As California Medical Association CEO Jack Lewin, M.D says, "Physicians should be treating people’s illnesses, not participating in their execution. Participation in an execution goes against longstanding principles of professional ethics and is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath: First, Do No Harm.” Therefore, I am glad that the medical community has decided to take a stand. I was surprised to find out that the California Medical Association (CMA) is also opposed to physician assisted suicide.

However, the CMA supports abortion, although this too is against the Hippocratic oath. I suppose getting 2 out of 3 right is better than most. But you would think that they would at least remain consistent.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bryant Gumble Speaks Out

In the show "Real Sports", Bryant Gumble ended the program with the following:

"Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t care about them and won’t watch them. In fact, I figure that when Thomas Paine said that “these are the times that try men’s souls,” he must’ve been talking about the start of another Winter Olympics. Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won. And try to blot out all logic when announcers and sportswriters pretend to care about the luge, the skeleton, the biathlon and all those other events they don’t understand and totally ignore for all but three weeks every four years. Face it — these Olympics are little more than a marketing plan to fill space and sell time during the dreary days of February. So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin."
Let's see. So he doesn't care to watch the Winter Olympics because there are mostly white competitors?! He does not believe that these are the world's greatest athlete's, just becuase they are white? This comment would absolutely be viewed as racist if the speaker was white and conservative. If you change it to a comparable paragraph, you get this:
"Finally, tonight, the NBA. Count me among those who don't care about them and won'’t watch them... So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world'’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of whites that makes the winter games look like a NAACP convention. "
Can you imagine anyone saying this? They would be out of a job, plain and simple. This shows that racist remarks are politically correct, but only as long as they come from an African American. However, all remarks such as this are racially divisive, and should not be codoned.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bush's "Outreach"

On Tuesday, February 7th, we recognized the passing of Coretta Scott King. Now, I didn’t get to actually see the funeral, but I saw clips of it on the evening news. The theme seemed to be that Bush is attempting to “reach out to blacks.” The news report was very similar to this Washington Post article.

..."President Bush was where he should have been," said Bruce S. Gordon, the new president of the NAACP. "Coretta Scott King is a very important figure in black American history and American history. I thought it was appropriate for the president to be there to honor her."

Bush all but ignored many black civil rights and political leaders during his first four years in office. Instead, he focused on building inroads to African American leaders through the pastors of black evangelical churches and business leaders who were not identified with the traditional civil rights agenda.

Bush became the first president since Herbert Hoover to serve a full term without addressing the NAACP, which many acknowledge as the nation's leading civil rights organization. At the same time, Bush's relations with the Congressional Black Caucus were frosty, contributing to a growing gulf between the administration and black voters...

...While Bush was greeted respectfully at the funeral, the tension between him and some black leaders also was evident. The Rev. Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, drew a standing ovation when he criticized the war in Iraq, saying, "There were no weapons of mass destruction over there."

"For war, billions more, but no more for the poor," Lowery added as Bush sat behind him on the speaker's platform...

Ok, so let's see if I've got this right. The NAACP is angry because they have not been consulted with. Instead, Bush meets with black pastors and business leaders who are actually reasonable people. Now, these "civil rights leaders" that Bush "ignored" are using Coretta Scott King's own funeral to spread their propaganda. And Bush supposed to listen to these people?

Anyways, another issue (in the news, though not mentioned in the article) was the difference between Clinton and Bush in regards to their "outreach" to blacks. It seemed to be that Clinton had "made the connections" but that Bush was still "struggling". Yet, nowhere did I hear it mentioned that Bush has a more diverse set of top advisers than any president in history, even Clinton. Now why haven't we heard that as much before? The answer is quite simple: Bush doesn't go around doing things such as calling himself the "first black president." (BTW, I just found this little gem.) But, I believe the main difference is not the numbers or statistics, but the attitude. The reason that Bush isn't known for his relations with minorities is because he doesn't chose people based on their race. He chooses them based on how good they are at the job, unlike Clinton.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

California High School Exit Exam

In the past two days, I have been taking the California Exit Exam. On Tuesday, all sophomores (and the juniors and seniors who have not yet passed) took the English portion of the test. It was very, very easy. Most of it was reading a passage and answering questions on it, such as whether the passage is a biography, persuasive essay, or fiction. Earlier today, I took the math portion, which was also very easy. It dealt with fractions, percentages, exponents, and line graphs. Both of these tests were set up so that we took the test in the morning, then had our regular clases afterward.

However, I was wondering how anyone could possibly not pass it and why anyone would be against an exit exam. So I found this opinion article in The Mercury News. The article gives us this student's situation:

Liliana is a senior. She is an English learner. She has a 3.84 GPA and has made the honor roll every year. She passed the math portion of the exit exam on her first try, but she has not been able to pass the English part. Although she has made great strides in her language skills, she will not be given a high school diploma when her class graduates in June. Will California benefit from denying her a diploma, even though she ranks 12th in her class of 413 students?
Now, when I read this, I wonder what in the world the school is teaching (or even if this scenario is factual!). How could it even be possible that someone could be ranked 12th out of their whole class, but not know the difference, in English, between a fictional story and a persuasive essay? Also, how did Liliana fail all 7 opportunities given ? How did Liliana not improve with the "six months of instruction in reading, writing and comprehension in English during the first 24 months of enrollment in the California school system" that she must have completed? The real question here is not whether she will be denied a diploma, but how she managed to have passing grades in the first place.

The article goes on, saying,
"many of the students who are failing the test are being taught by teachers who are not certified to teach the subjects on the exit exam."
Firstly, I have been taught in the past by non-certified teachers. In actuality, the ones that I had are better than other certified teachers, in my opinion. Secondly, this test is so simple that a cashier at Walmart could probably help you.

What many people don't seem to understand is that these tests do actually help students. Simply passing students along is not a help at all. It will cause us to have students who are surprised that they are unprepared for the real world. However, the exit exam identifies those who are ready, and those who are not, as early as their sophomore year. This means that instead of finding out on their first day of work, students have two more years, and seven more tries to get up to par. Thus, if they are not willing to work for their diploma, these students shouldn't get one.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Politically Incorrect Science- "Virtue of Radiation"?

My dad got "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science" for Christmas. I just read it, and I found it very interesting, so I thought I would start a series of posts on it. One particularly interesting section was on radiation, nuclear power, and hormesis. I will attempt to outline the argument.

Our nation's policies concerning radiation are based on linear theories. These state that either low doses of radiation are harmful or have no effect. However, there is another theory known as hormesis. Hormesis is "any stimulatory or beneficial effect, induced by low doses of an agent, that can not be predicted by the extrapolation of detrimental or lethal effects induced by high doses of the same agent. " This basically means that what is harmful in high doses may be beneficial in small doses.

This theory holds true for things such as alcohol, and caffeine, and is also the theory behind weight-building. According to the book, the biggest difference between these theories is that hormesis is experimentally observed, but the lower sections of the linear theories are simply continuations of the line, in which measurements have not been made, or have been ignored.

There have been studies that have shown that low doses of radiation may protect against cancer by activating cells' natural defense mechanisms. One study of tuberculosis patients who had multiple chest x-rays found that they had fewer cases of breast cancer than would have been expected. In 1997, the Washington Post said, "In Japan, site of the world's only nuclear attacks, radiation victims are outliving their peers... As expected, the people closest to ground zero have died in high numbers of cancers that began in a white hot flash of nuclear radiation. But as one moves further from the blast site, the death rate plunges until it actually dips below the baseline." Another study of 700,000 shipyard workers, including 108,00 who had been exposed to radiation when working with nuclear reactors in Navy vessels, found that the irradiated workers "had 24 percent lower death rates and 25 percent lower cancer mortality than the unexposed workers."

As an interesting side-note, Ralph Nader once said that a pound of plutonium could cause eight billion cancers. In response, Bernard L. Cohen, "an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Pittsburgh offered to eat as much plutonium as Nader would eat of caffeine. " However, no major TV networks were interested.

Using this questionable linear theory as the basis of our policies has had large consequences. It has derailed the switch to nuclear power, and has made us dependent on coal to produce energy, which is much more environmentally harmful.