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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Chatter: March 26

Goole avoids assisted tyranny

With the recent developments of Google’s challenge against censorship by the Chinese government, it was about time someone stood up for human rights. Google’s decision to uncensor its search engine in China was a bold, ethical move.

According to The New York Times, in addition to its refusal to censor information in China, Google told a congressional panel that the United States should draft trade agreements that force China to pledge to keep Web sites uncensored. The reason for that was the fact that the Chinese government’s Internet filtering hinders international trade.

In addition to any government-backed efforts to level the economic playing field, we support other corporations: namely Microsoft and Yahoo, following in Google’s footsteps. After all, any company that bans information according to a communist directive is simply an accomplice to tyranny. Even with Google’s decision, the company stands to lose only 1 or 2 percent of its revenue. Soon after Google’s move to cease censorship, Bill Gates told ABC News, “”You’ve got to decide: Do you want to obey the laws of the countries you are in, or not? If not, you may not end up doing business there.”” The sad truth is that some corporations are still in it for the money, regardless of certain basic rights. Microsoft’s Bing search engine is still operating in China.

With minimal revenue losses and a lot on the line in terms of human rights, more companies should follow Google’s example. China restricts search engines from allowing results that they deem touchy. The subjects of the massacre on Tiananmen Square by the Chinese army and the occupation of Tibet are only a few political issues that must also be allowed on search engines. But unless other companies join Google, the effort will be only half-hearted.

Other services have also been banned in China, as they were seen as threatening to the government. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are only a few of the utilities — or time-wasters, at points — that have been blocked, but with this effort by Google, the Chinese government might come to terms with its dependence on globalized technologies.

This move by Google may prove to make more of an impact outside of China. It is uncertain to say how many Chinese residents will read this or anything related to this matter, but international companies need to pay the most attention. Instead of their already minimal market shares in China or any other authoritarian nation, Microsoft and other corporations should consider turning down the opportunity of being an accomplice to tyranny and join Google for the benefit of human rights.

The Rutgers Daily Targum Editorial Board, March 24

Change worthy of inspection

After a year of debate and discussion on healthcare reform, the House finally passed the Senate version of the controversial reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in a narrow vote of 220 – 211 late Sunday night.

In the immediate short term, many students will not see the effects of the measure, and, in fact, most of the bill’s major changes, which will likely pass the Senate during the Reconciliation process, don’t take effect until 2014 or later.

Healthcare reform has been a long time in coming, and both sides of the aisle certainly acknowledge the need for changes to the one-sixth of federal expenditure that is tied up in healthcare. But many people oppose the way the final push was handled — and rightfully so.

The Reconciliation process was developed as a method to avoid filibusters on contentious budget bills. Its first uses outside that realm were quite literally envisioned as loopholes. This wasn’t the way to pass the sort of landmark change healthcare represents.

If this is the greatest public sector modification since Social Security, as many Democrats have asserted, it certainly shouldn’t be accomplished with a sort of parliamentary trick. Democrats who claim that the Republicans are the historic users of Reconciliation — 17 out of 23 prior usages — are not out of line, but using it themselves is certainly more Hammurabi and less senatorial.

The larger issue, though, is what it all means for students. Once again, despite all the uproar, most probably won’t experience massive changes. However, one that might benefit students graduating soon — especially those facing unemployment — is the change which will allow parents to keep their children on their plans until age 26.

But, for the most part, the new changes will benefit the financially struggling, those who have been previously denied for preexisting conditions and people in high-risk categories.

The bill would also substantially alter the penalties for businesses which do not provide coverage and expand coverage opportunities — through provider exchanges — to Americans without coverage.

There are merits to the legislation, and there are certainly areas which will require “”change.”” But students — and the populous in general — must take the time to understand the impact and identify what it will bring to students, even if it’s in 2014.

The North Carolina State University Technician Editorial Board, March 22

Decriminal-izzle

No one will be surprised to hear that a group of Brown students supports reduced penalties for marijuana possession. And with Snoop Dogg scheduled to perform on campus in just a few weeks, some might question our timing in writing this piece. However, we in fact have another pertinent reason. A Rhode Island State Senate commission voted last week to endorse the decriminalization of an ounce or less of marijuana. After reviewing the arguments for and against, we support the commission’s conclusion.

The commission was founded to study marijuana policy last July in the wake of the marijuana decriminalization referendum that passed in neighboring Massachusetts in 2008. The panel included state legislators, law enforcement officers, economists, a doctor, a nurse and an attorney.

Its work became even more urgent in February, when North Carolina State Rep. John Edwards, D-Portsmouth and Tiverton, introduced a decriminalization bill in the General Assembly. The bill would end jail sentences for individuals caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana, and reduce the maximum fine from $500 to $150. Since 2007, 399 Rhode Islanders convicted of first-offense possession have seen prison time — on average, three and a half months.

There are two major reasons for decriminalization. First, it’s fiscally responsible. The commission estimated between $232,000 and $2 million per year in savings just on prison costs. Some members — including a lecturer in economics at Harvard — projected total annual savings of over $10 million. Given these numbers, decriminalization is a small but worthwhile step towards closing the state’s budget gap, which is expected to reach $427 million in 2011.

Critics also claim that marijuana is a gateway drug and that decriminalization sends a message to youth that marijuana use is acceptable. The gateway drug theory mistakes correlation for causation — just because many heavy drug users first started with marijuana does not imply that their early experimentation is the driving force behind later involvement with other drugs. Hard drug use may more directly reflect the age at which an individual is first exposed to drugs, as well as the individual’s propensity to use any drugs at all.

More importantly, the commission recommended that decriminalization legislzation apply only to those above the age of 18. An age minimum sensibly ensures that society’s message to kids about marijuana isn’t different from the message it sends about alcohol and tobacco. And decriminalizing possession would not change anything for those found driving while under the influence.

The Brown Daily Herald Editorial Board, March 24

 

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