Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Commentary on "Texans and Voting"

I recently have read a fellow classmates blog titled “Jumping into Texas Government”. Blogger, Whitney wrote the post “Texans and Voting” discussing how many Texans do not vote. With the upcoming election I am sure Whitney will agree this “not voting” needs to change. Whitney discusses in her article about the need for a better knowledge about the government, I agree. I too had only taken one government class in high school and felt confused when people would ask me the most general questions about our government following that class. In her article Whitney says, “ If we continue making cuts to education, especially in Texas where we are already doing horrible statistically when it comes to education, this problem is only going to continually get worse.” Needless to say I agree with Whitney that we need to reach out to the youth so they may be able to gain more knowledge about our government as they become old enough to vote and have a voice.

I was somewhat surprised to read one of Whitney’s solutions for this problem; “We need to get some of the celebrities off the television screen and spend more money advertising something important, such as getting more Texans to vote and letting them know why it is important.” Although this would not be the first thought that comes to mind, I think that those who influence the youth the most need to start being the change we need. Personally, I think the authority in schools as well as parents at home need to help change these statistics in voting. If we want to reach out to the youth about voting we have to make them more knowledgeable as well as more confortable about their political views. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

University Of Texas Sued For Race As A Factor In Admission

On August 5, 2012 The Daily Texan released an article where an applicant for the University of Texas at Austin was denied admission even though she claims she is just as qualified as those of other ethnicities who were admitted. The article titled “Supremecourt case puts spotlight on UT admissions policy” presents the argument of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas when she was denied admission. Although Fisher was not in the top ten percent of her class she still claims that her Caucasian ethnicity hindered her admission.

Michael Williams, a Senior African American student studying sociology and applied learning and development, was in the top ten percent of his high school graduating class. During his first year at UT someone told Williams that he would not be at UT if it were not for the top 10 percent rule implying that because he is African American he would have not been admitted. Williams’ comments, “I would hope I would be admitted even if I was not in top ten percent.” The debate on this issue will be presented in the Supreme Court in October.  

Further into the article Williams’ states, “although race is not the only factor in admissions, it is important . . . this is a case that will affect admissions and a lot of schools of higher education . . . it’s not just going to change UT, it’s going to change a nation. I don’t know if students know that.”

Others interviewed for this article debate whether the University of Texas at Austin uses race as a factor in admissions. Although I do not believe that UT would accept or deny a student solely based on race I believe that it does factor in slightly due to the requirement for diversity among higher education.

In order to have the best chance of admission, regardless of top ten percent rule, students need to focus on building their resume, doing extracurricular activities, and just becoming the best overall student you can be. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Commentary on "Voter ID Laws"

I recently have read a fellow classmates blog titled “Our Fair Texas”. Blogger, Kyle Pina’s post, “Voter ID Law” discusses his viewpoints on why a valid Texas does not need to be required for voting. I had heard back in June 2012 that several Texas voter ID laws were going back to court to end the dispute on whether Texas ID’s should be required when voting. Knowing that Pina does not have a valid Texas ID and does not believe it is a necessity here is my comment about his post:

I believe there are several reasons in which Texas should require ID for voting as well as for various other purposes. In an article posted in early spring 2012 by “National Review Online” author John Fund gives several examples on why Texas needs to impose Voter ID laws. Fund states, “average voters understand that it’s only common sense to require ID because of how easy it is for people to pretend they are someone else” and with that invalid or fake ID those who are posing as others would be committing a felony. 

In CNN’s article, Texas voter ID law goes to court”, author Bill Mears provides commentary on this issue discussing, “Texas is among eight states to require official photo identification in an effort to stop what officials say is voter fraud. Opponents of the laws say they disenfranchise poor, minority and disabled voters.” I understand why Pina would oppose this, especially because he does not have a valid Texas ID but for those who are eligible to vote and encouraged to vote a valid ID is necessary.

Another reason provided by Fund debates, “people know you can’t function in the modern world without showing ID — you can’t cash a check, travel by plane or even train, or rent a video without being asked for one.” Without a Texas ID how would you be identified in case of emergency? How could you prove your own identity? These are all questions I wonder about for those who do not have a valid ID in any state. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Locals sue Austin to make city more accessible to those with disabilities

Recently a local group of people with disabilities has filed a lawsuit against the city of Austin TX claiming that the city is still inaccessible to people with disabilities. This timing could be a coincidence due to the upcoming 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an act that prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities. These locals are claiming that the city of Austin is still majorly not accessible in popular places such as South Congress Ave, Sixth Street, and more.

Author of the article “Groupsues City of Austin, businesses for allegedly discriminating against peoplewith disabilities”, Juan Castillo address the issue, “The lawsuits in Austin are directed at signature facilities that are ingrained in the city's unique culture and that people with disabilities can't fully enjoy . . . and that they seek compliance with the law and aim to build a city culture of inclusiveness for all”.

The effect of this hopefully will result in the states action to make the city of Austin completely accessible to everyone. Local Jennifer McPhail states “we've been patient long enough. I want access to the trail just like anyone else” addressing the difficulty of her being able to access trails leading to local spot Deep Eddy Pool. Like anyone else these locals want to enjoy the great city of Austin. Even though this will cost the city of Austin a lot of funding, these locals will not rest until this issue is resolved.

Joe Berra, an attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, wants to see the city of Austin as an inclusive community whatever it takes. A total of 32 lawsuits have been filed over Texas to ensure that this problem be solved as quickly as possible.

Although the city of Austin does not appear to be “discriminative” against people with disabilities, changes must be made to make this city, as well as others in Texas, completely accessible to anyone and everyone. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Could Texas Become A Blue State Again? Not Likely Soon

Just last Thursday on July 19th, 2012 a commentary to an article was posted on a popular left winged blog “Burka Blog” found in Texas Monthly. The published blog post titled “Politico: In Austin, Obama predicts Texas will be a swingstate” explains Obama’s views as well as author Paul Burka’s thoughts on the upcoming election and their predictions on the possibility of Texas becoming a swing state. It appears that Obama also believes that Texas will become a blue state due to demographics the state of Texas. Agreeing with Obama, Burka does believe that Texas will inevitably become a blue state.

Burka offers statics supporting his argument stating, “The 2010 census foretold the future: Hispanics accounted for 65% of the state’s 25 million new residents over the decade 2000-2010. The Anglo population increased by just 4.2%.” keywords: new residents.

I do agree that Texas could eventually become a blue state in several years but ONLY if this rising number in population continues at this rate. In other words if the Hispanic population continues to grow at the rate that it is now and the Anglo population continually decreases then texas could potentially become a blue state in the long run. As far as the November elections go I don’t think in that time frame Texas could become a swing state unlike what President Obama believes.

Burka continues in his opinion, “Texas Hispanics do not vote in large numbers. Why this is so remains a mystery.” Even though Hispanics generally vote democratically, if they do not vote how then would their vast majority in population be reflected in voting? It simply would not! Therefore, the Republican Party would still have the majority in voting just by these assumptions not by any other factors.

Burka’s intended audience, voters and supporters, genuinely understand that Texas could become a Blue state like it has in the past but not anytime soon. I believe that the November elections will be either a turning point for Texas in voting demographics or will continue to still be a red state unless numbers in population continue to change at the rate that they are presently. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Great Debate: Sentencing Juveniles To Life With Chance of Parole?

Last month the Austin Statesman published the article Juvenile life sentence ruling is wise” an article referring to the possibility of the decision to retract life sentencing without parole to convicted juveniles. The U.S. Supreme Court “ruled that state laws mandating that defendants younger than 18 who are convicted of murder be sentenced to life in prison without parole violated the Constitution's Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.”

In 2009, Texas legislature banned life without parole of juveniles but Texas’ law failed to make prohibition retroactive. “Thus, 27 juveniles who were convicted of capital murder as adults between 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juveniles, and the passage of the new 2009 law are sitting in prison without any chance for parole.”

The first sentence of the article states, “Sentencing children to die in prison is cruel and unusual and therefore unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court obviously agrees when they decided to change this matter.

The writer of this article certainly gives his or her thoughts about this by addressing, “Prison keys should be pocketed for juvenile offenders, not thrown away…juvenile defendants must be allowed hope for redemption — to see hope for a life beyond death in prison.” Knowing that the author is in favor of live sentencing with parole for juveniles what about rare cases that seek a deeper punishment? Do we still think that should exist? What about rare cases when we believe harsher punishment should be granted? I wonder if the author would have taken a side.

For rare cases where sentencing without parole would be necessary I believe it would not be unconstituinal because of the severity of the crime, and it would be better than the death penalty. Many people to this day still debate on this matter as well as matter of whether the death penalty should still exist.

I believe that the author intended this article to be guided toward a general audience providing knowledge about Texas’ juvenile criminals. The author provides cases within the article that have something in common – broken pasts and broken homes. This could possibly be also guided to adults seeing as children are usually a reflection of their parents (not always though). I think this is a very interesting article because the debate for punishment to any age will most likely be changed many more times. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

University Of Texas Students Deals With Yet Another Threat

On Monday July 16th 2012, The Austin Statesman published the Article “UT Warns About Hoax Calls Regarding Students” discussing how students have recently been receiving calls falsely claiming that other students have been injured or kidnapped. Recently at least four students have called seeking money for ransom wired oversees. Just this past weekend two calls were received and the UT Police Department head, Capt. Julie Gillespie, says she has never heard calls like these from any other schools. In the article the UTPD provides steps if anyone should receive this sort of call. The following steps include:

Write down the phone number on the caller ID
Ask the caller to identify the student
Ask to speak to the student

As of right now the FBI has been alerted and will investigate further calls related to this scam. The article certainly is one that could scare numerous students as the University of Texas campus has dealt with several threats, shootings, and killings in and around campus. This article provides important precautionary measures and alerts for the events that have happened. I think it is very import to be alert with all the criminal actions that happen around campus for the safety of the students as well as the people who live or have businesses around campus.