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Worldwide: An old relation..? or the current..?

As we move along to discuss different topics in History class, there is one that always brings up the topic on spot. China or often called People’s Republic of China is located in East Asia with world’s most populous country having population over 1.35 billion. Relations between China or Sino-American and America has officially started since the Qing dynasty in late 19th century. Their relations rose to a most tight and compact during the World War 2. China was a big supporter and an ally of the United States of America. Even though they had a close relations, the U.S.A did not recognized the China’s newly established government until 1979 when the Republic of China or the Beijing was recognized to a legitimate government system. China with most populous country while U.S.A. has the third largest population, U.S.A. having the most world’s largest economy while the China being the second; it has been always these two countries.

the-china-us-puzzle

America and China has always received attention in world. They showed many similarites such as consisting much of population than others and also with economy wise. However there are some differences who showed a strong point or the weaknesses. When looking at the China of Cultural Revolution in 1960’s and 70’s, the China has showed the stability. They successfully avoide the collateral damage from the crisis of 2008 to 2009. Also the China has saved the rate in excess of 50% which has funded the investment of economic development and increased the foreign exchange with the savings. More importantly, the China showed a successful direct investment with foreign affairs. China productively produced their manufactures and materials or the equipment. As you know, when we go to any local markets, we are likely to see that any stuffs(toys, plates, or furnitures and etc.) are made of China. It has made the China with productive growth of economy.

Made-in-China-label

America and China has built relationship since the Qing dynasty. However, the study finds that China and U.S. is growing mutual distrust between them. Americans view China with less favorable than two years ago and also the China’s attitudes has become soured toward the America which made them apart. “China’s fast-growing economy threatens jobs in a weak American economy” said the director of Pew Global Economic Attitudes in Washington. Also the education of Chineses students going to top American schools grows the worry in America because if the Chinese are estimately covers the top schools, it means that they are growing power. So it is very likely to know that old relation has made some changes because of these minor reasons. Overall, the United States was favored in the world with a median 63% to 50%. With America’s government system and a promise of personal freedom gave trust from people while China is ignoring individual freedoms.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/18/world/asia/in-china-and-us-mutual-distrust-grows-study-finds.html?_r=0

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137245/henry-a-kissinger/the-future-of-us-chinese-relations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-American_relations

Picture Sources:

http://djcadchina.wordpress.com/tag/made-in-china/

http://goblair.blogspot.com/2012/03/us-and-china-relation.html

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Posted by on November 7, 2013 in Default

 

The Importance of Voting in Shaping our Society: Why “Rock the Vote” isn’t Enough

Throughout the beginning of my school year, the issue of voter-turnout kept propping up in my studies—first, by way of my September-October topic for Lincoln Douglas Debate, phrased, “in a just democracy, voting ought to be compulsory,” and later, in our own studies in AP US Government. Much to my embarrassment, I had never been very aware of voter-turnout in the United States, except for the ever-present fact that turnout is alarmingly low and continually declining. Yet, what I didn’t know, and have reflected on in the past few months, is why citizens in the United States have not made it to the polls, and more importantly, how this directly effects the society our generation will inherit.

 

Many would believe that abstention is a direct representation of ones’ apathy or political disinterest. However, while this may reflect the rationale of some Americans’ choices, the vast majority of abstention boils down to two important factors: abstention as a means of protest, and limited access to voting. Although it would appear as if in a democracy, voting would be of great importance and widely available to all citizens of age, polling places are often found in clusters or in certain districts, and often far away from many lower-income neighborhoods. More disturbing is a report by CNN which states that “In the 2008 [United States] presidential election, 80% of adults from families earning at least $100,000 a year voted, while only 52% of adults from families earning $20,000 or less cast a vote, according to data from the Census Bureau. Married homeowners with college degrees are also far more likely to vote than single renters with high school diplomas. Older people are often more politically involved, while younger voters — who tend to skew lower in income — may not feel as tied to a community, and vote less frequently.1” One may ask why those of less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds may not cast a ballot. Some argue that this is out of a lack of quality civic education in school or a sense of inadequacy as a voter, and while these claims are certainly justified by many studies, a more likely reason is simply one of economic necessity. The United States, unlike many other democracies, has yet to implement a “voting holiday,” or national day-off to get to the polls and cast a ballot. While this concept may seem frivolous, the reality is that those most disadvantaged may not have access to transportation in order to easily access a polling place, or may not be able to get off of work in order to vote.
Additionally, as party-politics become increasingly polarized, some Americans may not feel that government officials and policy makers do not reflect their views. Similarly, in early October of 2013, MSNBC3 reported that over half of Americans—51%, consider themselves as moderates. Because of gridlock, or simply, disagreement with both candidates on the ballot, voters may choose to abstain a means of protest.
Screen shot 2013-11-05 at 8.54.28 PM4
Ultimately, raising turnout is much less simple than many campaigns geared at young voters, such as the “Rock the Vote” project, would insinuate. Raising turnout poses to be a formidable challenge, as it not only demands changes in our political system—for example, the establishment of voting holidays, but perhaps also a change in political ideology. When our last presidential election’s results were determined by a turnout of only 58.7%5, our government should be left questioning more than just using ads or campaigns to get voters ‘motivated’, but instead, be reminded of the importance of doing whatever is necessary to ensure the continuation of our nation’s status as a democratic republic. As Professor Iris Young argued in Inclusion and Democracy, complete knowledge is gained not through the meticulous selection of opinions, but rather, from the access to experience, and the maximization of all narratives. Thus, gaining access to all of its citizen’s views is integral to our governments’ overall success, and moreso, to its legitimacy. Personally, I cannot wait until this upcoming August 24th, also known as “the day when I can officially call myself ‘voting age’,” but in order for turnout to be increased and sustained, attention should be shifted from simply encouraging youth as individuals, and rather removing barriers already present in our voting system.

 

Citations:

3 http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/meet-the-moderates

4 http://www.wilsonquarterly.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_vertical_hero-380×570/public/images/gridlock_illusion_2%20(2).jpg?itok=cvPpsPAL

5 http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2012G.html

 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Default

 

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The Iffy-ness Behind Approval Ratings

    Approval ratings show up in almost everything, but mainly in politics. Politically, many people focus on the President’s approval ratings, in this case Obama’s. However, recently with the government shutdown and the worry over the debt ceiling, the attention has shifted onto Congress’ approval rating. 

   Many news sites, such as CNN, Fox, Gallup, Huffington Post, etc. have been reporting on the significant drop in Congress’ approval rating. Many of these sources estimate that the approval rating for Congress is between 5 and 11%. These percentages are extremely low. These low approval rating can be described by the people’s dissatisfaction with the how the government shutdown was handled, the deadlock between the two parties and their unwillingness to compromise, and the looming debt ceiling.

   It’s discouraging to see how little people approve of Congress currently and how little Congress is doing to essentially fix the problems that most people are upset about. Politics is a strange game, and many are aware of the power of public image and reputation in this game. So, why then aren’t any Congressmen changing their plans to win favor with the public and then better their image and ultimately the approval ratings of Congress?

   One of the reasons is because approval ratings aren’t definitely accurate. Most are gathered from a random sample of the population that is statistically designed to try and accurately portray the total population. But bias and poorly sampled samples can cause a lot of error, giving some inaccuracy to these rates. Politicians often use this as an excuse.

   Yet in reality, politicians often don’t want to address the issue because of the fear of losing their reputations. It seems right now though, that if Congress doesn’t address these issues, all Congressmen will begin to tarnish their reputations. They need to take a risk and suggest solutions, no matter how provocative or how much they compromise some key values. Politicians need to step up and do what’s right. Being stubborn in this situation is only going to make matters worse.

   Politicians right now, no matter how many errors there could be in approval ratings, need to look at them as a a warning that they need to change their plans and really step up to find solutions, which often means compromising. 

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Default

 

Education in America: The Ultimate Injustice

Let’s face it I am a nerd. I have wound up here, in a class that I took completely voluntarily using my own time in addition to my classes at school to study Government. I love learning. Everyday I strive to know even a little more than I did the day before. I feel at home at my school and know that I always have a place in the classroom. From history to science I have a true passion for education and feel lucky each and everyday for the opportunities I have been given to pursue my love of learning. School and homework (however tedious) has undoubtedly kept me out of trouble over the years. I have a goal, a focus, and I am constantly resetting my sights on the end game. I don’t even want to think about where I might be in my life had I not been given the opportunity to get a great education by my parents or pushed to achieve at my highest level by my teachers. This bleak outlook is what many children caught in the corruption of the education system in America are faced with each and everyday.

In my own city of Philadelphia the school system is the epitome of corruption. Children each year are tossed into the system and end up falling though the cracks. Last year only 40% of children in the Philadelphia school system were rated proficient in reading while 99.5% of the teachers were rated satisfactory. This is the ultimate conundrum to me. If you are a teacher and your students cannot even read then how is it possible that you are considered satisfactory? Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is now offering the city of Philadelphia a $45 million grant and a reoccurring grant of $120 million if the teachers simply take a salary and benefit cut. I know what you are thinking, these teachers are working hard why are they suffering a benefit cut? Lets review the statistics:

  • Teachers do not pay for healthcare
  • They will retire with a pension that is 80% of their salary after 30 years
  • Each member of the teachers union receives $4,353 per year for dental and vision benefits

Last year the district racked up a $300 million debt. Mr. Corbett’s bailout is a chance for the system to get back on track; however, teachers would be subject to a 5% to 10% salary cut, asked to contribute to their health benefits, and make teachers undergo more vigorous performance evaluations before pay increases. To me this sounds like a compromise. The teachers are still paid and offered the majority of their benefits and all they need to do is to ensure that they are effectively teaching their children. The teachers won’t hear any of this. Instead they will let 40% of children in Philadelphia continue on in their education without being able to read. No wonder the dropout rate is so high. When, as a student, you fall that much behind the level you are supposed to be at, many will question, “what’s the point?” If this continues the district will most likely go bankrupt and up to half of the current generation of Philadelphia kids will be illiterate. The teacher’s union’s inability to be held accountable for their own shortcomings is allowing thousands of Philadelphia kids to continue on in life without the education they so much deserve.

Works Cited:

Anonymous, ed. “Education Failure in Philadelphia.” The Wall Street Journal.
N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/
SB10001424127887323308504579083553510828552>.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Default

 

What do I Believe?

Do you every feel that you are drowned out by your peers? Do you ever think that you sometimes are looked at differently because of your political beliefs?  Does your environment ever contribute to your own beliefs?  Are your beliefs actually your own, or are they a combination of other people’s beliefs?

     As I begin to grow older and have more of an opinion regarding politics I realize that some of my beliefs differ from my friends.  Last Tuesday I was sitting in the Archer School for Girls’ main courtyard with my friends discussing our political differences and at first it seemed that I was the outlier.  I often was the only one that didn’t agree with the majority or did not have parents that voted for Obama.  I always deemed myself as an Independent since my parents taught me that I needed to think for myself instead of just believing what they believed if I didn’t do my own thinking.  However, this was very different from the way many of my friends regarded politics.

     Living in Los Angeles it is fairly common to live in a liberal, Democratic household since statistically that is the majority of the population.  It became something that was expected of everyone and this was similar in my own friend group.  They assumed that everyone wold have the same opinion, but when we started to get in a heated debate it became clear that that wasn’t the case.  The debate, however, taught us about one another’s idea about the government and gave all of us a more educated perspective.  One of the most enlightening things that came out of our conversation was the fact that we all looked around and realized that we were speaking on our own behalf.  We didn’t have our parents or our siblings or our activity coordinators speaking for us, but instead we were on our own developing our individual beliefs.  We realized that some of our conclusions at the end of our discussion changed once we debated and found that the best opportunity to develop your beliefs is to talk with others.

     One should never be afraid to voice out their opinion in order to figure out what they believe or to express a belief that they already had.  Instead we should embrace one another’s differences in order to represent the diverse nation that we are.  I realized from our cultural attitude towards government that we are so “party-dominated” and often are clouded from the issues that truly matter.  We need to look at politics with an open mind because it is constantly evolving.

So if you feel differently about an issue than the rest of your friends, SPEAK UP!  Don’t be afraid to use the voice that you have in order to talk with one another about issues, especially as important as government, in order to educate one another.  It’s important that we all develop our own ideas and reflect to determine whether what you tell people believe is actually the beliefs that you stand by.

Works Cited:

Boy Thinking. Digital Image. The Collaboratoy at Colby Community College. 29 October 2013. http://thecollaboratory.wikidot.com/philosophy-of-thought-and-logic-2011-2012

“Busybee and Rosebud”. Cartoon.  Busybee and Rosebud Blog. 29 October 2013. http://busybeeandrosebud.wordpress.com/author/cherokee925/

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Default

 

No Justice for All: The Dangerous Lack of Standardization in Our Criminal System and the Man Whose Life Is on the Line Because of It

Image

The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishments [shall not] be inflicted” upon those who have been convicted of a crime. Short, simple, and straight to the point. Yet, why do we continue to battle with this issue today?

In 2002, the Atkins v. Virginia federal trial analyzed the question of whether those who are diagnosed as “mentally retarded” can be executed constitutionally. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that sentencing these inmates to death row was “cruel and unusual,” since they don’t have the same mental capacity as other offenders, and therefore should not be prosecuted as harshly. This was one of the cases that our class studied in the past unit, and you could only imagine my surprise when I recently read a headline mentioning a similar situation approaching the Supreme Court.

“High court to look at death row inmate with low IQ,” the title of the article read. “How ironic,” I thought, “since we just covered a similar case. Maybe it’s the anniversary?” I quickly clicked the article and was appalled to read that it was a different case, with many of the same characteristics as Atkins. What perplexed me the most was the fact that a seemingly identical case was being argued before the Supreme Court a little more than a decade after the first. Here’s a little background on the current issue. Freddie Lee Hall, along with Mack Ruffin, was sentenced to death row after being convicted of the murder of 21 year-old, pregnant Karol Hurst in 1978. Because of the gruesome nature of the crime, it only seems natural that the Florida Criminal System would want these felons to be sentenced to death. And that is exactly what they did. Well, originally. Ruffin’s sentence was eventually changed to life in prison. In 1989, Hall’s first sentence was thrown out, and a judge ordered a new hearing. He was, once again, sentenced to death, but also declared mentally disabled. However, since this was before Atkins he was still considered eligible for the death penalty. But, since Atkins was decided 13 years later, you would think the court would reassess his sentence. You would be wrong. Although the ruling restricted individual states’ ability to execute mentally disabled convicts, it ultimately left the determination of what is considered to be “mentally-retarded” as a state decision, and Florida set its state IQ limit at 70. Since Hall’s IQ skirts barely above 70 (it was once declared as 71), he is ineligible for having his sentence changed.

How is it justice that Hall has to face death, when his accomplice was given life in prison? Thankfully, the case will be heard before the Supreme Court in early 2014. Although Atkins answered the important question about the constitutionality of executing mentally disabled inmates, it opened the door for an influx of other questions concerning our treatment of the mentally disabled in our criminal system.  Image

Instead of receiving treatment, larger and larger quantities of the mentally ill are being herded in prisons. If you look below, you see that as the 20th Century progressed, the number of mentally-ill in mental facilities decreased as the number of mentally-ill in prisons increased. For every 100,000 adults in 2001, which is around the time of the Atkins decision, there were fewer than 100 mentally-disabled adults in mental hospitals, while there were 600 incarcerated.

Image

Another aspect of this pressing issue is the absence of federal standardization of what IQ is considered to be “mentally retarded.” Is it fair if a man with a score of 75 is eligible for death row in one state, but ineligible in another? If you answered no, then you will find the current process to be appalling. Currently, there are 9 states with very strict IQ requirements related to the death penalty (Florida, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington), and there is no standardization for state IQ requirements. Even if an inmate scores slightly above the maximum value of one of these nine states, they will be ruled eligible for death penalty, regardless of whether their score makes them ineligible in another state. The fact that Hall was declared mentally disabled by a judge, previous to the Atkins case, has no resonance here.

How is that justice for all?

Sources:

ATKINS v. VIRGINIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 21 October 2013.

“High Court to Look at Death Row Inmate With Low IQ.” Fox News. N.p., 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.

“Mental Healthcare.” Cartoon. PoliticalCartoons.com. Daryl Cagle’s PoliticalCartoon.com Store, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. http://www.politicalcartoons.com/cartoon/9975b463-1f26-4a94-9c2d-a18dd0da3e2e.html.

“Mentally Ill in the Prison Population.” Chart. Beltwayoutsiders.wordpress.com. Beltwayn Outsiders, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. http://beltwayoutsiders.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/mentally-ill-in-the-prison-population.png?w=750.

No Justice, No Peace. Digital image. Vote29.com. Cactus Thorns, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. http://www.vote29.com/newmyblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/NO-JUSTICE-NO-PEACE.jpg.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Default

 

Breaking the Rules of Boarding School, Classrooms, and Blog Posts

I have never been one for following the rules. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some wild graffiti artist, teenage rebel, doing whatever I want (though I am a fan of Banksy). I go to an all girls boarding school in rural southern Virginia and sometimes ‘breaking the rules’ is simply not agreeing to go with the status quo and fighting for a little more. Now, a little background, at our school if you take World History II you are not allowed to take AP European History because they are too similar. And that is exactly how I ended up taking this online government class.  In my junior year I took APUS history and at the end of the year I met with our academic adviser to discuss my senior year class, more specifically, what history class I would be taking. And because I had already taken World History II everyone had been telling me that I would never be able to weasel my way into a spot in AP European History. Well, being me, I was hearing none of it. So, I went into my meeting with our academic dean BOUND and DETERMINED to be placed into a AP European History. I put up a fight until this poor academic dean through her hands up in the air and told me I could do whatever I wanted, but consider looking at something no one at my school had ever done; taking AP Government online. Well that’s just about as far from the norm as I could get so I dropped my case for AP Euro and registered that day for AP Government with Online School for Girls.

The reason I lead with this story is because I think my reasoning for picking this class reflects how unconventional this class is. I had never experienced online classes besides a summer geometry course (and I am here to tell you Geometry online is NOT a good idea) before Online School for Girls, but this course has showed me how online learning can be amazing! I have found that while online courses are by no means a normal classroom setting they allow for a new modern kind of class. I am learning to work with girls across the county; which is the kind of skill my mom always says she wished she had learned young because her work involves people all over the world.  Learning to manage my time was a struggle at first because I did not have a teacher to face every day, but Online School for Girls keeps us in close contact with our teachers and I have learned to reach out when I need to like I would for a regular teacher. This is a skill I know I will carry with me through all my higher education when I am in classes with 300 people and need to be contacting my professor.  There are many other lessons I will learn on the way to the AP test in May, but there is one thing I know I will always be able to take away from this online class; breaking the rules is sometimes the best thing you can do. Whether it is challenging the system at your school or destroying the idea of a “normal” classroom or writing a blog post dedicated to the idea that breaking the rules can be a good thing; the status quo is just WAITING for some powerful, young  women to break it.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Default