Saturday, May 7, 2011


Sadly for me (maybe not so much for you), this is your last required current event posting of the year. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your current events from week to week and will truly miss hearing your perspectives. I hope that you have a learned a little bit about the world, yourself and your classmates along the way...I know that I have. Thanks for the insight, C&E. For your last posting, the topic is your choice. Finish strong! :)



    Of the 80 members who were a part of the mission to capture Osama bin Laden, many people are turning their focus on the only non-human member: a dog of an unknown breed that aided in the dangerous process. Such highly trained dogs like this one of intense speculation are becoming increasingly popular as commanders and trained officials realize their potent ability to sniff out people, bombs, and booby traps.Dogs can be trained to run twice as fast as humans, and in parts of the world where pointed missions like this most recent one are carried out, dogs have an intimidation factor due to the native people's unfamiliarity with them. In addition, the ferocity of a dog attack frequently is the primary incapacitating blow for military and Special Operation Force targets. The Navy Seal has taken up responsibility for training these select dogs, from speed training to training under stressing conditions to parachuting out of a helicopter without a human partner. It is no wonder that people are suddenly interested in these four-legged creatures so depended upon in the most dangerous and crucial of missions.

    These dog heroes are especially fascinating to me due to the seemingly queer usage of them in such missions. I think it's wonderful and awe-inspiring that "a man's best friend" now needs to be a man's most trusted individual in a highly critical operation; lives depend on the success and the intuitions of these dogs. It's wise to keep the specifics of these animals from the general public, so that crucial information doesn't leak out, and so there is no public controversy about the training of these dogs that could interfere with national safety missions such as the most recent one involving Bin Laden. The benefit of having a dog on the team greatly increases success of pinpointing a target and decreases mortality rates from unnoticed explosives. In the future, more dogs should definitely be highly trained to make operations much more efficient.

    Jessica Gao
    6th Period

  2. Leila Doerfer
    Period 6

    A new study done in Zambia shows that teaching midwives simple training can not only save newborns' lives but can also be cost-effective. There was a small pilot project done that cost only $20,244 and saved the lives of 97 infants. Midwives from 18 Zambian clinics were taught a basic course in newborn care and were encouraged to share what they had learned with their colleagues. The course covered simple interventions like cleaning and warming a newborn, resuscitation, breast-feeding and diagnosing common illnesses. The researchers compared the survival rates of 20,000 babies born before the training, and 20,000 after the training. The first-week death rate among babies had dropped by almost half. It dropped from 11.5 to 6.8 deaths in every 1,000 live births. Past studies have shown that the most important aspect of training, in terms of saving lives, is to teach the midwives that even a baby that's not breathing at birth can very often be saved by massaging it in order to prompt it to inhale ,or using a simple resuscitator.

    I think this is amazing. That only $208 can save the life of a newborn baby, someone that has their whole life ahead of them. I think it is amazing how even the simplest training can save so many lives. I think this study proves extremely successful and i think it should be used everywhere in the world that has even a slightly high infant mortality rate. If it's possible to save so many lives, why not do everything in our power to do so? Again i think it's really incredible how even the simplest information can save so many innocent lives. :)

    Kendall Simms 6th pd.

    The unpopular passing of Arizona’s new immigration bill has some of its citizens feeling like making a split. Dissatisfaction with the state’s government has lead to some people calling for secession. A petition is circulating that calls for the formation of Baja Arizona as the 51st state. Even if the petition gets enough signatures it will still have to pass local, state, and national legislatures. Suffice to say the odds are against it. However this is more intended to send a message rather than actually create a 51st state. The common belief is that even passing the petition at a local level would show the rest of the nation that not all Arizonians agree with the way things are being done. The Baja supporters feel that Arizona is taking a turn for the worse with its education and healthcare cuts. They also feel that its reputation is being tarnished by issues such as the new immigration bill (SB 1070). Even if Baja Arizona doesn’t happen, people in Arizona will look to build upon their unhappiness with the state government.

    I may not agree with the name choice but I can definitely agree with the reasoning behind the Baja Arizona movement. Realistically there won’t be a 51st state anytime soon, however Arizona needs to seriously examine some of its decisions. From what I’ve seen with the state’s whole situation, it really does seem to be neglecting minority rights in certain areas. For that reason its citizens have every right to protest their government through this petition. How do you get the attention of people who would otherwise ignore you? You clearly display your discontent in a dramatic and attention-getting way. Hopefully this will bring some more national attention to the obviously problematic operation of Arizona legislature.


    Andrew Cohen
    7th period

    The results from a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll came out Monday morning and revealed that most Americans think the economy is in poor shape. Over 80% of Americans surveyed said that the economy was in poor shape while 17% said the economy was in somewhat good shape. Only 1% said that the economy was in very good shape. The top reason cited by the respondents in this poll as to why the economy was in poor shape was the unemployment rate. Thirty-eight percent of respondents chose the unemployment rate. The second most cited reason as to why the economy was not in good condition was the federal budget with 28% of Americans choosing this option. Fifty-five percent of Americans say that former president George W. Bush and Republicans are to blame for the poor economy while only 33% of Americans say Obama and Democrats are to blame for our economic problems.

    This is important because it is always a good idea to see how the public views our economy and not just how politicians and economists view it. It is also important to see what the public views the causes for our economic problems are. After all, changing how the public views the economy is the first step in changing the economy. This was a public opinion poll, which is something we have gone over in class. Personally, I also think that the economy is in poor shape. It is not is horrible shape, but we could definitely be doing things more effectively to help our economy. I would cite the federal budget and national debt as the top reasons as to why the economy is in poor shape. Having to pay interest on our national debt is just money being thrown away that could be spent elsewhere, creating jobs or improving education. However, we must take the bad with the good in the economy, as it is just part of the business cycle.


    On Monday in Memphis, Tennessee, the Mississippi river was nearing levels that the city hasn't seen in more than 70 years. It is expected to be up to 48 feet deep by Tuesday, which, according to the National Weather Service, is 14 feet higher than the flood level. The level is likely to stay that high for a few days before lessening. Currently there is a "parade-like atmosphere" by the riverfront, but officials emphasize the importance of caution. At the moment the biggest concern isn't the Mississippi river itself but tributaries leading into it, which are backing up with water from the Mississippi and spilling over into suburbs and trailer parks. Approximately 3,000 properties in the area are likely to be affected, possibly more. Meanwhile, down river, apprehension continues to grow.

    This is yet another major environmental news story in a slough of stories that have occurred over the past few months. From earthquakes to tornadoes to flooding, people are getting hit hard by natural forces. It's scary to think about how impossible it is to control something as massive as the Mississippi and to imagine the anxiety that goes along with just waiting to see what will happen. Hopefully there will be little damage done and the loss to human life minimal (if not nonexistent) because of precautions taken before any real danger may or may not occur. At the same time, there is something beautiful about such a powerful body of water, which is probably why there are a large number of spectators. Hopefully none of them will get hurt!

  6. Shane Sater

    The Mississippi river has reached its highest flood level in 70 years, and is expected to rise another four inches to 14 feet above flood stage by this morning. Despite much public interest in the river and this occurrence, government officials are warning residents to remain cautious, and in some cases to evacuate. According to them, the main flooding danger is not from the Mississippi itself, but from smaller and less controlled tributaries. Currently, about 3000 people may be impacted by flooding, but that number could double if the river rises a few more feet. So far, about 400 people have evacuated to shelters in the vicinity, and more have probably left their homes. Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers have opened a spillway upriver of New Orleans to relieve flood pressure in Memphis. They now wish to open the Morganza spillway, which could affect thousands of people in Louisiana. Bob Anderson, speaking for the Corps of Engineers, says, “[to open the Morganza spillway in times of flooding was] the way the system was designed.”

    It would be very stressful to have a house or to have friends or family in the path of the flood. I hope, for the sake of the people involved, that the river does not rise higher. However, this occurrence demonstrates the risks of building too close to a river. While dams and levees have, for the most part, tamed the Mississippi river, along it remains a risky place to build houses. It seems that the Army Corps of Engineers is faced with a tough decision regarding the opening of the Morganza spillway. While it may lead to less property damage or loss of life upstream in Memphis, it could result in a comparatively worse outcome downstream in Louisiana. No matter what the Corps of Engineers decides, not everyone will be happy; when a large sum of money, and possibly even lives, lie in the balance, such a decision is very difficult.

  7. Mike Carney
    6th period

    Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known for making many public appearances and bold statements has disappeared. He was not sick or going on a pilgrimage. He is boycotting the authority of the Supreme leader in Iran Ayatollah Khameini. Many decisions made by Ahmadinejad have been overturned by Khameini. This is the first time in the Iranian government that the president has shown an open disliking towards the clergy. Ahmadinejad senses that the Iranian people are tired of the clergy and is trying to distance himself from the clergy. On the other hand, Khameini may be looking to use Ahmadinejad as a scapegoat for Iran's hard economic times, due to high inflation and unemployment.

    I am surprised that in such a historically theocratic government, there would be open dissent against the clergy. If Ahmadinejad asserts his dominance in the government, the Iranian government may become more secular and religion may play a lesser role in the government. If Khameini, the supreme leader and the clergy remain in charge and scapegoats Ahmadinejad, that may win the people over so he and the clergy can maintain their status in the government.


    This article is about the problems many female peace corps volunteers face. 23-years-old Jess Smockeck, a peace corps volunteer arrived in Bangladesh in 2004 hoping to teach English. Six weeks later she left as a rape victim after being attacking in an alley by a knife-wielding gang. When she returned to the United States the reaction she gain from the peace corps was as devastating as the rape. In Washington a counselor implied that the incident was her fault. For years she kept quiet, feeling “ashamed embarrassed and guilty.” On average 22 peace corps women each year report being victims of rape, or attempted rape. In that single year 1000 peace corps volunteers reported sexual assaults, and these numbers are likely to be higher.
    This is the first time I've ever heard about this, the fact that something like this was not brought to the news media discusses me. How can a women being raped be their own fault? Is this counselor implying that rape is never the fault of the one committing it? If something isn't done then eventually the peace corps will dissolve.

  9. Brinklee Bailey

    Last Current Event Evaaaaaa (: !
    This week my current event is about Peace Corp members who have been sexually assaulted while serving their time as members. In 2004 Jess Smochek was brutalized in an alley by a knife wielding gang after being in Bangladesh for only six weeks. When she got back into the United States the officials of Peace Corps told her that she was to blame for the rape, because of this she kept quiet for many years because she felt guilty and ashamed of what happened. She’s now apart of a group of people that have been sexually assaulted while on Peace Corps missions, prompting scrutiny from Congress. They are now exposing the truth of being volunteers in the Peace Corps and the treatment they receive from the United States even when they become crime victims. From 2000 to 2009 almost 22 women in the Peace Corps have been reported as victims of rape or attempted rape. Since sexual crimes go unreported sometimes it is more likely for the crime rates to increase. On Wednesday the House Foreign Affairs Committee will convene a meeting to investigate “serious crimes” committed against Peace Corps volunteers, including murder.
    I think that this is absolutely terrible. People are going out and volunteering their time in other, less fortunate countries to go over and be sexually assaulted and even killed. Then they come home and get no kind of support from the government. Some type of plan needs to put in place in order to protect the Peace Corps volunteers. Many women are often scared to even go and tell someone that they have been sexually assaulted, and I’m sure it’s even harder when you know that no type of justice will be served.

  10. Hannah Blackburn
    Pd. 7

    Quentin D. Atkinson, a professor of biology in New Zealand, has found a way to compare genetic diversity to linguistic diversity. Biologists have observed that as humans migrated from their African origins, populations grew and diversified genetically. However, as humans continued to spread out across the world, small groups broke off from larger populations and became less diverse; the communities farthest from Africa, Hawaii for example, are the least diverse communities. Diversity in linguistics can be measured by the number of phonemes in a language. Phonemes are the pure sounds languages are formed from. The number of phonemes in a language can be used to track the language’s origin, if the phonemes are viewed similarly to genetic markers. Using this method, Dr. Atkinson found patterns suggesting that language originated in Southwest Africa. For example, a “clicking” language in Africa contains 100 phonemes, while English contains 45 and Hawaiian only 13.

    I think what Dr. Atkinson suggests is very reasonable. It makes sense that language would grow and fluctuate with population. Now, cultural patterns have begun to fade and the lines between communities have blurred due to new technology in communication and trade. It is incredible to me that genetic and linguistic traces can still be found beneath the hubbub of this technology age. I like to think that the US is a diverse place where cultural markers have been mixed and blended beyond recognition, but apparently they are still legible. This makes me worry a little that my perspectives are off-kilter, but mostly I am in awe of the power of cross-disciplinary work. I wish schools offered more opportunities for students to combine science and social studies or math and social studies.


    Jackson Wright
    6th period

    With an Iraqi country slowly returning to normality, the government is beginning to move towards western examples. With cigarettes as cheap as $.25 a box, and being sold in every shop, they are widely used in Iraq, even in hospitals and government buildings. The government is pushing very hard to disallow smoking in public areas and push it to the edge of urban areas. The parliaments health committee has dedicated all time and resources to this epidic hat slowly can kill a nation if information isn't broadly accessible on the harmfulness of cigarettes.

    I believe that this is a good chance for Iraq to take after western examples by passing laws to disallow tobacco in certain areas. I hope that the Iraqi parliament can pass this law so that it helps their country jumpstart a revolution. I believe Iraq is headed in the right direction and even small matters like this will make Nhuge difference in the long run.


    Blu, an electronic cigarette production company, is attempting to turn smoking into a social network. The company is producing an electronic cigarette that releases water vapor, which is intended to help smokers bypass the smoking bans in public places. Smokers who purchase Blu's electronic cigarettes will have the opportunity to meet other Blu-users. The cigarette packs are designed to vibrate and flash a blue light when another Blu product is within 50 feet of another product. The company hopes that their creation will allow Blu-users to develop a social network and familiarize themselves with other users. The product has received both positive and negative reactions.

    This article really interested me because I was not expecting to see such a unique produce. In away, the idea of using smoking to develop friendships in the same way people use internet for social networking is kind of crazy. In a way, the idea seems really innovative as it seems try try to accomplish two things at once; however, it also is really unrealistic. Firstly, although the electronic cigarettes may be trying to fix a problem, it is the attraction to nicotine that keeps smokers hooked. Installing water vapor in place of nicotine will not necessarily be effective nor successful. Secondly, the light feature of Blu products may not necessarily appeal to its users. Users may feel embarrassed or irritated, and as a result, may stop using the product. This product may have good intentions; however, its success seems unlikely.

    NIcole Chang
    7th period

  13. Ryan Hegedus
    Kutcher replaces Sheen on 'Two and a Half Men'

    After Charlie Sheen quit the cast of Two and a Half Men, the producers have been looking for a person to fill his void. They ended their search today when Ashton Kutcher accepted the new role. Kutcher said he understands that he cannot replace Sheen and that is not his goal. His goal is to make millions of people laugh. CBS and Warner Bros. sounded excited to have Kutcher aboard saying, “He brings creativity, energy, and personality to everything he touches.” It was said that the 2.5 writers have already constructed a story line that will work Kutcher into the show and get rid of Charlie Sheen. The original attraction to Kutcher was the fact that had been on many previously successful shows such as That’s 70’s show, Punk’d, and most recently in the movie No Strings Attached.
    I believe that Kutcher is smart in that he will not try to completely replace Sheen because of his following. Kutcher should try to take the role on a different path to avoid comparison with Sheen. Some would say Sheen has gone off the deep end and is on a path to destruction, and in my opinion he has, but it’s also really funny. The show should be glad, though; that it wasn’t caught up in Sheen’s downfall and also have to pay the price for Sheen’s mental insanity. As a fan of some of Kutcher’s work, I would have to say I think he will do a good job with his newest role.
    #winning duh