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The writer behind Writing 101

The writer behind Writing 101

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By JACK KEERS

He sits in a darkened room, fingers hovering over a keyboard while sweat drips down shadowed cheeks, concentration enhanced by gentle Italian techno music. Shell shocked and numb, he realizes his book is finished.

Writing 101 instructor Andrew Foster, 34, has worked part time at Pima Community College for eight years. He said teaching writing helps keep his mind fresh when it comes to his own writing.

“Last week I finished a memoir I’ve been working on for several years,” he said. “Proud but sad my baby’s all grown up and gone.”

Foster has drawn up a dream list of 20 agents and has started the process of querying them. “I need to find an agent that has had memoirs and biographies published before,” he said.

The first chapter of his memoir was recently published in a Baltimore publication, Cobalt Magazine.

“This chapter was rejected at only three or four other magazines before Cobalt took it,” Foster said. “I feel pretty lucky on this one. My usual rate for acceptances is about one in every 100 submissions. If you want to be published, you have to get used to constant rejection.”

One of his first publications was a poem in the Colorado Review in early 2000. He has also been published in a Tucson literary journal, Spork.

Foster submitted a chapter of his memoir to this year’s Tucson Festival of Books writing contest. He was a runner-up for the grand prize and received a chance to participate in a literary workshop.

The workshop included talks led by several well known authors, including author and poet Ray Gonzalez of the University of Minnesota.

Foster enjoys reading both nonfiction and fiction.

He is currently reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a novel by Zora Neale Hurston. Written in the ‘30s, it is a classic in African-American literature.

His favorite authors are William Shakespeare and James Joyce. He has the full collection of Joyce’s books, including “Ulysses,” “Finnegans Wake” and “Dubliners.”

Foster likes to teach by using multiple visuals in his Downtown Campus classroom and takes time to provide detailed explanations.

“He uses his personal time to help us with our assignments,” said Charity Brian, 21. “He makes it easier to understand the concepts of writing. He is a good communicator.”

Brian is in her first semester at PCC and is taking WRT 101 as part of the requirements for her major in law and criminology. She takes three other classes and is exhausted by the end of her day, but she looks forward to her writing class.

“He has opened my eyes to new creative writing techniques and ideas,” she said.

Foster has a family connection with words. His father, Michael Foster, studied languages and traveled to Canada to study Cayuga Indians.

Foster’s father met his mother, a native Canadian, and they married shortly after. Two years later, Foster was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

He was raised in Norwich, Vt., and in Philadelphia. While attending a boarding school in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Foster participated in the school newspaper and in creative writing workshops.

He knew he liked writing in elementary school and decided to become a professional writer during high school.

When not teaching or writing, Foster enjoys a game of chess.

“I’m a total beginner, but it’s fascinating,” he said. “It’s humbling.”

He is also a whiskey aficionado.

“It’s actually a much less expensive hobby than wine tasting,” he said. “A $50 bottle of wine will last you one night but a $50 bottle of single malt scotch can be slowly enjoyed over many months.”

Extending his passion for teaching outside of the traditional classroom, Foster recently taught a WRT 101 class for employees of Tucson Electric Power. TEP not only paid the tuition, but also paid the employees for each hour they spent in the classroom.

“WRT 101 was a required step in their process of becoming journeymen electricians,” Foster said.

What does writing mean to Foster?

“Writing is the secret life of the soul, encoded in this thing we call language, which was the first virtual reality that humans invented,” he said.

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Writing 101 instructor Andrew Foster answers his students’ questions. Foster, who just finished writing a memoir, says teaching writing keeps his mind fresh for his own work. (Aztec Press photos by Shana Rose)

 

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Instructor Andrew Foster explains the daily lesson to his Writing 101 class at Downtown Campus. (Aztec Press photos by Shana Rose)

 

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WAITING TO EXHALE! Some student desks a tight fit

WAITING TO EXHALE! Some student desks a tight fit

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By EMERY NICOLETTI

Returning to school late in life was a monumental move for me. I actually drove to my first class the night before and turned on the lights because I wanted a feel for the room. I planned to pick my desk, then arrive about 30 minutes early the next morning to make sure it was available.

When I was in school 30 years ago, I had a young man’s 29-inch waist. Over the years, my waist size has increased. I was never more reminded of that when I walked into the classroom to discover those wretched, unforgiving desk/chair combinations from middle school. Even back then I found them dysfunctional.

Those kiddie desks are great for classrooms because you can fit a ton of them in the room, and the chairs remain with the desks.

However, this poses a problem for more than just the token fat girl or guy. There are many body types that do not fare well in these metal death grips.

It’s hard to get into some of these desks comfortably. Yes, I know life would be easier if I lost 10 or 50 pounds. I’m working on it, OK?

However there are 18-years-olds who look obviously uncomfortable when they must squeeze into these made-for children-desks. Their breathing is restricted and half of them are hanging off the seat.

Missed opportunities

This is truer for older students like myself who return back to school later. Our bodies generally aren’t as small as they used to be.

You may be aware that enrollment numbers at Pima Community College continue on a downward trend. A tremendous opportunity exists to reverse the trend by marketing the benefits of a community college education to both young and older potential students.

Many students desire to springboard their education from a two-year to a four-year college. But a large demographic exists that wants to learn a new trade or skill, or simply improve their knowledge and expand their horizons.

Older students represent a very marketable group to help fill the empty desks that exist in many of our classrooms. But, they must be able to fit in those desks.

Students asked to comment

Many of the desks throughout all of our campuses are either too small, or made for a right or left-handed student. Some are only accessible on one side, but most have a small kidney shaped desk.

If you’re more than 10 to 20 pounds overweight, take a deep breath and push yourself in. Smile and try to look pretty. You may exhale after class.

I’m sure these desks were state-of-the-art a long, long time ago in a time called the ‘80s in a variety of elementary and middle schools. But by today’s standards and average waist size, they’re a bit out of touch with function.

Recently, PCC’s administration asked students to comment on and pick their favorite desk among a varied selection. There were clear favorites.

Some of the choices didn’t adequately accommodate the basic function of a student — room to sit and put a book or notepad on a flat surface to take notes and study. Others were more fashionable than functional.

Some seemed like over-the-counter, snap-together quality whose longevity and quality could be questionable.

The top two winners were sleek and functional. They were both a table-styled desk rather than a traditional student desk.

The model “F” gave two students space to sit next to each other thus allowing ample space for a laptop, book and notepad. Additionally, you could rest both elbows, lean into it and relax during lectures.

Model “E” allowed the same advantages, but was a table sized for one individual student.

These table/desks are ideal for adult students of any size or frame because there is no restriction between your free-standing table and the disconnected chair.

Why do chairs cost $1,300 each?

Campus Director of Administrative Services Andrew Plucker, who also holds the title, “Support Coordinator, President’s Office,” said the state has granted the Downtown Campus  $129,000 to purchase student desks and chairs.

The following is a paraphrase of my discussion with Plucker:

“How much do the desks cost, so we can figure out how many can be purchased?”

“$1,300,” Plucker responded.

“What?”

“$1,300.”

“Per desk?”

“Yes.”

“You are kidding me, right?”

“No.”

“Why do they cost so much?”

“They are rugged and built to last — they come with a lifetime warranty,” Plucker said. “They need to be really well built in order to outlast the rough treatment they get from the students. In fact, there is a whole warehouse full of broken desks and chairs that are not useable.”

Perhaps Plucker shouldn’t have mentioned that.

“I thought they came with a lifetime warranty.”

“They do,” Plucker responded.

“Then why do we have two warehouses filled with broken desks? Why don’t their lifetime warranties fix them?”

“The manufacturers don’t make the parts anymore and no one wants to deal with it after 10-15 years.”

“Then why are we paying exorbitant fees for a lifetime warranty at the time of the original purchase if no one is redeeming them?” I asked.

“My coffee maker came with a lifetime warranty. When it stopped working after six years, the company claimed they no longer made that particular model but they still exchanged it for the latest one they made in its class,” I added. “Someone needs to toughen up and step up to the plate and insist on getting these desks fixed, or negotiate lower prices and warranties that are honored.”

“The state has a department that does that,” Plucker explained. “They negotiate the best price so administrators don’t have to.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Really? Show me a state employee that’s negotiating the best prices for this campus and I’ll show you a state employee that’s getting taken out to lunch far too much. We’re paying medical equipment fees here, not fair prices for student desks.”

Find a negotiator

The conversation highlights a pressing need for the college to find a good negotiator for furniture and supplies.

Unfortunately, our campus administrators are overworked and underappreciated. They just recently were able to take their own deep breath after an exhausting audit and academic probation period.

Some administrators, like Dean of Students Pat Houston at the Downtown Campus, have been asked to wear two hats during this transitional time.

It’s clear Pima administrators do not have time to negotiate prices when the state has its own department that is supposed to provide that very service for us.

So, who up north is not doing their job? Why are we getting charged these outrageous prices?

It kind of reminds me of the $100 bolts and $500 hammers purchased by the Department of Defense a few years back.

If we have any hope of increasing the enrollment at our college, we need to make sure that there are functional desks.

We also need to make sure there are enough desks to accommodate all students in a way that encourages lifelong learning in comfort and efficiency. Students come in all shapes and sizes.

There needs to be a thoughtful discussion about the type and size of desks required, and then an aggressive negotiation for the best unit price. We cannot afford $120K for barely three classrooms of desks.

How does $300 sound?

I took it upon myself to go online and found $300 desks almost identical to the two student-sized desk that was clearly the winner in our recent student poll. The quote came from the professional division of Office Max.

In minutes, a sales department head returned my call. The company was eager to work with me, and offered a lifetime warranty.

The Internet is an amazing tool for price match or cost comparison.

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HEALTH CARE SIGN-UP Feb. 15 deadline nears

HEALTH CARE SIGN-UP Feb. 15 deadline nears

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By EMERY NICOLETTI

Connor Tate, a 22-year-old dual Pima Community College and University of Arizona student, has “Obamacare” figured out — well, depending on your point of view.

Despite the Feb. 15, enrollment deadline for President Barack Obama’s health care reform legislation, also known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Tate has decided he is not going to sign up.

He believes particular mandates incorporated within the law have caused the cost of insurance to skyrocket for the young. “Why should I get it?” he asks. “The fine for not getting it is only $95.”

He expresses frustration with what he feels are health care procedures that are outrageously overpriced. “Right now I pay out of pocket. If anything catastrophic happens I can always sign up on my parent’s health plan,” Tate said.

Since Tate knows he can no longer be singled-out for pre-existing health conditions, he has calculated his financial options, “For now, I’d rather pay out-of-pocket,” he said.

Danielle Neal, 20, a business major at PCC isn’t too worried about insurance right now. Fortunately, she’s under the umbrella of her parent’s insurance plan until she turns 26. She is certain she will obtain her own insurance independently or through her workplace in the future.

She states she realizes the importance of health coverage and knows she will always have it. “You never know,” she says.

It is difficult to understand that under the current U.S. health care system it is possible to be forced into bankruptcy and to spend your life savings on paying for treatment for a disease or a condition that is simply out of your control.

Director of Provider Outreach in the Department of U.S. Health and Human Services, Matt Heinz, has advice for Pima students.

“Like education, health insurance is an important investment we must make for the future so that we can live long healthy and productive lives without fear of financial ruin from an unexpected injury or illness,” he said.

The subject of health care, primarily the Affordable Care Act, is a complex issue.

Creating a health care system for a country where health care has long been a choice is not only a complicated journey for some of the world’s brightest health care consultants, but it’s also a very upsetting task for those enrolling in the program itself.

With that being said, it will definitely take time to work out the imperfections. And while there may be much criticism along the way, Americans must realize that insurance works best when everybody has it.

In a broader context, the act has led to a robust discussion of the “right vs. privilege” debate in health care.

Should every American be afforded the right to health care and insurance coverage? Or, is it a privilege afforded only to those that have the means to pay for insurance or the treatments?

An argument can be made that much of the overall health of any one individual is determined genetically and out of their control. Other diseases or conditions may be influenced by environmental factors under the control of the individual, for instance, diet, smoking habits or

weight.

Not surprisingly, despite “affordable” being in the title of the act, most of the discussion on the benefits of Obamacare have centered on the increased access to health care. A number of provisions in the Act expressly improve access for millions of Americans.

ACA addresses the access and affordability of health care in numerous ways as previously discussed, but “What does it do for the overall cost of health care?” After all, part of the reason for enacting the ACA was to address the increasing costs of care and to “bend the cost

curve.”

One of the reasons for our increasingly expensive health care is related to the way in which we pay our doctors and hospitals for the services they provide.

Compared to other developed countries we don’t visit the doctor more. It just costs us more.

In Germany for instance, people visit the doctor an average of 9.7 times per year compared to 4.1 per year in the U.S.

Currently, there is little concern in the present system for the quality of care and outcome each of these services provide. However, the ACA seeks to “bend the cost curve” by using pilot programs in Medicare that pay doctors and hospitals for the quality of the care they provide

rather

than the quantity of services.

Health care provider structures, such as accountable care organizations, or ACOs, bring together physicians, hospitals and insurance companies in arrangements that encourage shared accountability for the cost and quality of care.

The rationale for providing no out of pocket costs for many preventive services is also intended to decrease the nation’s overall health care spend. Accessing and using more preventive screenings is intended to nip in the bud many costly diseases and the resulting use of health

care resources.

“Taking preventive measures to insure the proper protection of our bodies is really the way to go,” said Health Net Pharmacy Services Vice-President Scott Wert. “The American Southwest is second in the world for malignant melanoma and many Southern Arizona transplants of

northern European descent do not take preventive measures with sunscreen.”

Remember, preventive measures, certain cancer screening and colonoscopies are also examples of services intended to improve the lives of Americans, and reduce our overall health care costs.

The deadline for this open enrollment period is Feb. 15.

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Fatma Ersouly: She and her husband both want children. They realize medical care during pregnancy is expensive, so they signed up for the Affordable Care Act.

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David Todirita David Todirita: He’s currently on his parent’s health plan. ACA is not a priority, but he recognizes its importance. He says he’s only been to the hospital maybe five times in his life.

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Danielle Neal: She is under her parents’ insurance coverage until she’s 26. She plans on obtaining her own insurance after she no longer qualifies for her parent’s coverage.

 

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Tucson, U.S. need the A-10

Tucson, U.S. need the A-10

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By MICHAEL ANDERSON

We’ve all seen them in the sky: pairs of fighter planes orbiting Tucson’s airspace. They are A-10 Thunderbolts, also known as “Warthogs.”

They will be gone soon if some in the military have their way. The Pentagon is trying to retire the A-10 and replace it with the ultra-modern F-35 Lightning.

Retirement a bad idea

That would be a terrible mistake with potentially dire consequences, not only for us in Southern Arizona but for our ground troops deployed throughout the world.

The 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base contains a large percentage of the country’s A-10 forces, and most of the plane’s pilots train in Tucson.

The A-10 was introduced in 1977 as a ground-attack aircraft to support troops in combat. Its primary weapon is a seven-barreled, 30mm rotary cannon that can fire almost 4,000 rounds per minute. It can also carry a wide array of bombs and missiles.

It has two primary jobs: to kill tanks and to provide air support for troops on the ground.

Providing accurate, close air support requires an aircraft to go low and slow, which makes it vulnerable to attack by enemy anti-aircraft units.

Plane does its job well

To protect it from enemy fire, the A-10’s cockpit and vital control systems are encased in a “titanium bathtub” that can withstand direct hits from 57mm artillery.

The plane also has two engines and many redundant systems to make it hard to shoot down. It is probably the most durable combat aircraft in the world.

The A-10 is also incredibly good at its job.It wreaked unimaginable havoc on Saddam Hussein’s armored units in 1991 during the first Gulf War, and saved countless American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror. The Taliban is terrified of it.

“It’s a game-changer” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John F. Campbell has said. “It’s ugly, it’s loud, but when it comes in and you hear that ‘bvvrr’, it just makes a difference.”

Economic impact on Tucson

Production of the A-10 ceased in 1984, and the fleet is getting old.

This has led many in the Pentagon to advocate for its retirement. Its combat role would be filled by the F-35 Lightning, a multi-purpose aircraft.

Plans were made to cut funding for the A-10s after 2014. However, the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated $338 million in July to fund the program through 2015.

This might only be a temporary reprieve. The A-10 program is still very much in jeopardy of being dismantled.

If the A-10 fleet is retired, the primary function of Davis-Monthan would be eliminated. That would make the base an easy target in the next round of Pentagon base closures.

Davis-Monthan generates about $1.1 billion in economic impact in the Tucson-area, according to a 2013 report issued by the base. It employs about 10,000 people, including almost 3,000 civilians, making it Tucson’s third largest employer.

The loss of the A-10 program would have a severe impact on Tucson’s economy. The loss of Davis-Monthan altogether could be devastating.

F-35 can’t fill same role

That might not be a good enough reason for our military to keep the Warthog around, but its importance to our ground troops should be.

The high-tech F-35 program is hyper-expensive, costing more than $400 billion to date. The eventual cost will be roughly $185 million per plane.

The F-35 has also been plagued by technical problems. An engine fire in June prevented its international debut at the prestigious Farnborough Air Show in July.

Even after all the issues are eventually solved, the notion of the F-35 filling the A-10’s close support role remains laughable.

The A-10 is effective because of its ability to go low and slow enough to tell friend from foe, and to linger over the battlefield for periods of time.

The F-35 can’t go slow enough to identify friendly units, will not be durable enough to withstand anti-aircraft fire and will not have the loitering capability of the Hogs.

History repeats itself

It would be easier to believe the F-35 backers if our military didn’t have a long history of trying to prematurely retire effective weapons and tactics. One prominent example is the .45 caliber pistol.

During the Spanish American War of 1898, the U.S. Army determined that its .38 caliber pistols lacked adequate stopping power to deal with determined opponents. This led to design of the .45 ACP round and the 1911 Colt .45 pistol, versions of which were used until the 1980s.

That weapon was then replaced by a 9mm sidearm. The 9mm round is basically the same as the .38. Almost immediately after invading Iraq in 2003, our troops realized that the 9mm lacked sufficient stopping power and tried to get their hands on .45s.

If only someone had figured that out 100 years before. Oh, that’s right, they did.

The Pentagon has a rich tradition of such mistakes. Retiring the A-10 is one mistake that neither our city nor our armed forces can afford.

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Aztec Press photo illustration by Nick Meyers

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Blame the shooter, not weapon

Blame the shooter, not weapon

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By KATIE STEWART

People have a tendency to blame an inanimate object for tragic killings such as the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings or the 2011 Tucson massacre in by Jared Loughner.

We are taught that guns are dangerous to us and everybody around. Some government officials are fighting to get guns under control.

But we as a society must understand that the person pulling the trigger is the real danger.

Human beings are born with a sinful nature. It doesn’t matter what weapon they use when they harm others.

Knife attacks

Guns aren’t even used in many cases of violence. Instead, weapons like knifes cause the harm.

A 16-year-old went on a knifing rampage April 9 at a high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. He hurt 21 students and a security guard.

“The rampage came after decades in which U.S. schools geared much of their emergency planning toward mass shootings, not stabbings,” KWY-TV said.

The station said the Murrysville school was prepared for attacks with firearms but not weapons like knifes.

Gun enthusiasts

My sisters and I grew up in a house full of guns, with a father who is a gun enthusiast.

Each of us shot our first rifle at age 8 and our first handgun at age 11. Our father taught us to use them recreationally for hunting and target practice only.

With close guidance, we learned to handle firearms properly. Our lessons included how to control weapons, what not to aim at  and what not to do.

We were taught to respect the weapons, but also to fear them because they are dangerous in the wrong hands.

Once we learned how to handle shotguns and semi-automatic handguns, we lost the fear we had when we were introduced to the weapons.

Mental illness

In some cases, the person who commits violent attacks against people is dealing with mental issues. People with a mental illness may act in irrational ways, which can lead to heinous crimes.

Shooters who suffered from mental illness include Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon; John Hinckley Jr., who shot President Ronald Reagan, and Robert John Bardo, who killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer.

Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to foresee an attack on others when mental illness consumes the mind of the gun holder.

Some researchers argue that mentally ill people are not at high risk for violence.

Shannon Frattaroli, Ph.D., says people with mental illness are responsible for only about 4 percent of the violence in society.

In an article, “Guns, Public Health and Mental Illness: An Evidence Based Approach for State Policy,” Frattaroli outlines steps states can take to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at an elevated risk for violence and suicide.

She says her plan also respects the rights of people with mental illness.

Instead of banning guns, we must make sure that people can safely handle weapons. This would keep mentally ill people safe from themselves and help protect everyone else.

Banning guns

Strict gun laws have not prevented high gun violence crime rates in some cities across America. Examples include Chicago and Washington D.C.

James D. Agresti argues on his website “Just Facts: Gun Control” that a ban on handguns increases the murder rate.

“During the years in which the D.C. handgun ban and trigger lock law was in effect, the Washington D.C. murder rate averaged 73 percent higher than it was at the outset of the law,” Agresti writes.

The same thing happened in the Windy City.

“Since the outset of the Chicago handgun ban, the percentage of Chicago murders committed with handguns has averaged about 40 percent higher than it was before the law took effect,” Agresti said.

Constitution

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. We have a right to protect ourselves from criminals who don’t follow the law.

In the end, the most dangerous element in our society is people themselves, not the weapons we make to hunt or protect ourselves.

We as a society must understand that people are unpredictable. Blaming an inanimate object will not prevent violent crimes. Remember that old saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

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(Aztec Press illistration by Larry Gaurano)

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Cannabis shows economic, medicinal promise

Cannabis shows economic, medicinal promise

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By SEBASTIAN BARAJAS

Green is the color of progress, but it’s marijuana not money that is ushering in change.

Marijuana may provide tomorrow’s medicine of choice for those with chronic illness, and the economic change that Arizona needs to turn a new leaf.

America has a sordid past with cannabis.

When the United States was a much younger country, farmers were encouraged to plant hemp for production of cloth and other material. Marijuana was a staple trade plant during the Civil War era and a respected medicine during the Industrial Age.

However, it was mysteriously outlawed in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act.

Today, as Colorado and Washington experiment with legal regulation, cannabis shows promise as both a growing economic venture and as a medicinal treatment.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have emerged in more than 20 states, and physician-journalists like Sanjay Gupta have explored the plant’s medicinal benefits.

Though the legality and effectiveness of medicinal treatment remain under a political microscope, some patients consider marijuana an alternative to prescription drugs.

Highly debated points include health factors and side effects.

Many people opposed to marijuana think long-term effects should be considered before society takes steps to formally regulate cannabis for the masses.

The American Medical Association took an avid stance against medical marijuana in 2013, saying cannabis is a dangerous drug and a public health concern. The AMA opposes legalizing the sale of cannabis.

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, chair-elect of the AMA, believes hard science will prevail over frivolity.
“We can only hope that the public will listen to science – not ‘big marijuana’ interests who stand to gain millions of dollars from increased addiction rates,” Gitlow said in a news article.

In Arizona, medical marijuana has been legal since 2010. Patients can obtain treatment through a doctor’s recommendation and a state fee of $150. Tucson has 10 medical marijuana dispensaries.
Many patients turn to the Downtown Dispensary, where manager Michelle Sweetapple, 29, is proud to be an advocate of legal weed.

“It’s harder to come off of pharmaceuticals, and they have a longer term effect on your body,” Sweetapple said. “The difference is you can’t overdose on marijuana. You would pass out before that could even happen.”

An article posted on an addiction website, projectknow.com, also says no one in the United States has ever overdosed with cannabis alone.

Debate over medical marijuana includes discussion of the long-term effects of prescription medicine. Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s syndrome, an inflammatory bowel disease, I can tell you first-hand that relief and treatment is limited.

Legal treatments include the prescription medication Humira. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Humira can cause respiratory infection. In extreme cases, it may cause sepsis or cancer.

Many states have approved the use of cannabis as an alternative for treating Crohn’s and other serious diseases.

Side effects may include light-headedness, euphoria and a case of the munchies.

Granted, pharmaceutical companies would have stiffer competition if cannabis treatment were legal, but is that reason enough to hold off on legalization?

A 35-year-old Pima Community College game design student who calls himself Aaron doesn’t think so.
Aaron suffers from ailments like neuropathy and venous reflex disease, which affect the function of nerves and lower body blood flow. Aaron has been a certified medical cannabis patient for three years in Arizona.

“I’ve been educated in the use of marijuana medically for a while now and I self-medicated before it was legal,” Aaron said.

“I went to get my first certification in California after I had to have a vein removed,” he said.
“In California, it’s easier to get a card and sometimes it’s frivolous, but the doctor said I had to get one.”

Aaron believes marijuana will be legalized soon because of the shift in perception of cannabis for medical treatments.

Back at Downtown Dispensary, Sweetapple said her patients can range in age from 7 to 90. They seek treatment for numerous conditions.

“Everyone’s here for a different reason,” Sweetapple said. “You have recreational smokers and people who medicate themselves. You have people who have never touched it in their lives who literally just use it for medicinal purposes.”

With a history of bad policy-making and debacles like Senate bills 1070 and 1062, medical marijuana is the only progressive action Arizona has going for it.

Some may argue it’s a seed worth looking after.

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Just how much is a degree worth?

Just how much is a degree worth?

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By KATIE STEWART

Census data analysis shows the growing value of a college education despite rising tuition costs, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

The earnings gap between young college graduates and those with a high school diploma is at its highest level in 50 years, according to the report.

College graduates ages 25 to 32 who work full time earn about $17,500 more per year than employed young adults with a high school diploma, according to the analysis. The pay gap was much smaller in previous generations.

The college graduates are also more likely to be employed full time (89 percent versus 82 percent) and are much less likely to be unemployed (3.8 percent versus 12.2 percent).

A worthwhile investment

College graduates are also more satisfied with their jobs.

“Employed college graduates are more likely than their peers with a high school diploma to say their job is a career or a stepping stone to a career (86 percent vs. 57 percent),” the study found.

“Those with a high school diploma are about three times as likely as college graduates to say their work is ‘just a job to get by’ (42 percent vs. 14 percent).”

C.J. Karamargin, Pima Community College’s vice chancellor for public information, said the study shows that higher education can be valuable.

“A college education is a worthwhile investment – it’s an investment in yourself, it’s an investment in your future, it’s an investment that will pay you significant long-term dividends,” he said.

“Life doesn’t have many sure bets but this sure comes close,” Karamargin added. “You are more likely to get a well-paying and satisfying job if you have a college degree.”

Paving way to career

Recent PCC graduate David Patrusevich said he could not have expanded his career opportunities in biology without a college education.

Patrusevich said his degree paved the way to a career in his chosen field.

Matthew Gautrex, a PCC student and Air Force airman, said it’s essential to have more than a high school education.

“Education is the key, it opens more doors, more choices,” Gautrex said. “Lack thereof leaves you empty handed.”

Best-educated generation

In today’s work force, a bachelor’s degree is almost required for a stable career.

This is a significant increase in the amount of education needed compared to previous generations.

“Today’s millennials are the best-educated generation in history; fully a third (34 percent) have at least a bachelor’s degree,” the Pew study said.

In contrast, only 13 percent of people ages 25-32 in 1965 had a college education, according to the study.

At the same time the share of college graduates has grown and the value of their degree has increased, the study said.

Finding a sustainable career depends both on the education students have and on the field of study.

The Pew study says an engineering or science degree is most beneficial.

“According to the survey, only a quarter of science and engineering majors regretted their decision (24 percent),” Pew Research said.

“This compared with 33 percent of those whose degree is in social science, liberal arts or education.”

The need for more science and engineering majors is also high, which creates more career opportunities.

PCC nursing student Calli Stoeckman said being a science major led to more prospects.

“I believe having a science degree opens more doors,” Stoeckman said. “For example, I’m going into nursing. There are several kinds of nurses and I can specialize.”

Like science majors, engineering students have more opportunities available to them in their work field.

An article by Rebecca VanderMeulen titled “What Can You Do with an Engineering Major?” discussed the opportunities a degree provides.

“They expect a large number of opportunities for aerospace engineers and engineers focused on transportation and health care,” VanderMeulen said. “Environmentalism is sure to drive the demand as well.”

Former Pima student Mike O’Malley said the amount of work students put into their education is as important as how much education they have.

“My education isn’t about just dates and facts, it’s about hard deadlines with real consequences,” O’Malley said. “It’s also about managing my time and being self-motivated, no matter what’s going on.”

Seek ways to reduce costs

Karamargin cited a need to reduce the high cost of education.

“In our brutally competitive 21st century global economy, when the need for a well-educated workforce is greater than it ever has been, we need to figure out a way to confront the economic barriers to higher education,” Karamargin said.

“The best education system in the world is useless if students don’t have access to it.”

Read the full Pew report at: pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college.

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Freedom fights from Kiev to Caracas

Freedom fights from Kiev to Caracas

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By SEBASTIAN BARAJAS

I woke up today feeling aware of the world, and I noticed that it has begun to spin more and more erratically while we stand at the precipice of unease with revolutions and conquest.

Fires light city squares, barricades line the streets as men with guns march steadily towards those who believe in change, citizens in Kiev and Caracas wonder what tomorrow will bring, struggling for a semblance of order and prosperity.

People of Kiev fight for reform and behind the scenes Russia and the U.S. make power plays to coax the Ukraine into their ideologies. This seems eerily reminiscent of a Cold War-like strategy that both employed through out the world to expand territory through foreign governments.

For those who don’t know think back on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Russia’s in Afghanistan, both examples of proxy war.

It seems like a proxy war is on the world’s horizon. Though there is difference in landscape both countries tread today.

Unlike the old Cold War, Russia hasn’t found a strong enough ideology to grasp in order to reach its former red glory. While the arms race happened back then, the Olympics in Sochi has shown the world that the country is still not up to par economically.

Some have said that Putin has a Soviet re-Union in mind and with recent developments one would be hard-pressed to agree.

Given our history with Russia, we are at a certain disadvantage in dealing with the Ukrainian situation. This dilemma mimics that of Germany during the years of its division between east and west. Some of the population is asking the U.S. for aid, while others still maintain their strong Russian ties.

Tension is rising as Viktor Yanukovych was finally toppled, but recently Russia has sent armed troops into the Crimean border to bring order, according to Putin.

“It will be legitimate and correspond to international law because we have a direct request from a legitimate president and it corresponds to our interests in protecting people who are close to us,” Putin said in a press conference.

In a video clip released by CNN, a single unarmed Ukrainian officer approaches Russian forces and was greeted with rifles and an aggressive tone as he neared.

So far Russian forces have invaded 10 military bases and have deployed warships in Crimea.

Mounting troops in that magnitude and asking the Ukrainian army to lay down their weapons, sounds much more like a large-scale offensive than anything else. Yuriy Sergeyev, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N. said that Russia has overrun the country with nearly 16,000 troops and though both countries claim to discourage war, tensions are extremely palpable.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, traveled to Independence Square in Kiev to observe the tragedy that befell it. The western powers threaten Russia with sanctions but they show little signs of backing down and trouble brews closer to home.

In Venezuela, Presidenté Nicolás Maduro sends scores of police to contain student protestors who are fed up with the lack of necessary commodities to live. Maduro has scorned the protestors as coup-mongers, though his opposition Leopoldo Lopez seeks only to make him step down via legal means.

Lopez is a Harvard educated ex-mayor of one of the districts of Caracas.

In a testament to his resolve, Lopez surrendered himself to the Venezuelan government on Feb. 18 on alleged murder charges by the government for those who have died protests.

“We are going through a dark period, where thieves are rewarded by the government. The Venezuelans who want peaceful change in accordance with democracy and the constitution are being imprisoned,” Lopez said during a protest.

The protestors, comprised mostly of college students, say the government is corrupt and does little reduce the gargantuan crime rate, and the economy is crumbling before them with shortages of flour and even staples such as toilet paper.

Venezuelans are silenced as Maduro has diabled the citizens use of social media. People of the country cannot upload photos or video, Maduro explained to CNN that this was due to a “connection problem” that began in northern Venezuela and affected the country.

Revolution, it is indeed a proper word.

The world is spinning and we turn with it, these countries may be in far away lands but they make me think if we will ever rise from our conformity.

Economic crisis, social discord and the proverbial Big Brother not letting us escape his glance. When will we have enough?

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Aztec Press illustration by Rachel White

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Local pizzeria takes a stand

Local pizzeria takes a stand

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By JAY BECKER-NORMAN

Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria, on East Broadway Boulevard at Sawtelle Avenue, showed its opposition to SB 1062 with a sign.

The now-famous poster reads “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Arizona Legislators.”

It mocks SB 1062 by claiming a right to refuse service to Arizona lawmakers, such as bill sponsor Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler.

The sign was created and submitted via Facebook by customer Barbie Donovan. After owner Rocco DiGrazia printed and displayed the sign, it gathered more than 20,000 “likes” on Facebook and received national media exposure.

Though DiGrazia is no longer speaking to press, he told Time magazine that he has regular customers and staff who would have been affected by SB 1062.

“Why discriminate against anybody? I’m just trying to make some food,” he said.

The sign continues to hang on Rocco’s storefront, in the upper corner of the shop’s door.

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Aztec Press photo illustration by
Jayden Becker-Norman

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SB 1062 dead, but legacy lives on

SB 1062 dead, but legacy lives on

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By NICK MEYERS

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 Feb. 25 after much objection to the bill from the public and representatives. The bill would have protected religious business owners from serving any customers who interfered with their “observance” of their religion.

A majority of the public saw this bill as a blatant attempt to legalize infringement on civil rights, particularly those of the LGBT community in Arizona.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, responded to the bill by revealing he is gay during a March 5 news conference. He said the bill prompted his decision and now joins Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, and Rep. Demion Clinco, D-Tucson, as openly gay officials.

In the wake of SB 1062, however, looms another controversial bill introduced in the interests of religious freedoms.

HB 2481, which is sponsored by many of the same representatives who supported HB 2153 (the bill that eventually became SB 1062), aims to defend public officials from performing same-sex marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs.

As with SB 1062, this law would protect individuals from policy that does not yet exist in Arizona state law.

Many representatives who supported SB 1062 said they would not support similar legislation due to the political, social and economic responses to the bill.

SB 1062 bill was introduced and sponsored by Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, and co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, and Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix.

Senators and representatives from both parties openly opposed SB 1062, including some who initially voted for it.

Worsley, along with Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, and Majority Whip Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, who voted for the bill, sent Brewer a letter prior to the veto explaining their mistake.

“We feel it was a solution in search of a problem,” Worsley said in the letter.

The vote was a clear division between parties in the State Senate and opposed by only three Republican representatives in the House: Reps. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson, Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, and Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix.

Worsley also requested a revote, which, with three or more Republican Senators switching their votes, would have killed the bill.

Cathi Harrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative lobbyist organization, wrote the bill. Harrod still believes there is nothing discriminatory about her bill.

“The politics, the outcry against the bill has nothing to do with the actual merits of the bill and the actual language of the bill,” she said in an interview Feb. 25, after the bill was vetoed.

“It is simply a political tactic that has been carrying the day the past few days,” she said.

The Center for Arizona Policy states its goal is to promote “life, marriage and family, and religious liberty,” and is currently lobbying for stricter abortion regulations and expanding scholarship programs.

Yarbrough sponsored a similar legislation in early 2013. The bill, SB 1172, would have allowed individuals to “use potential infringements of religious freedom” as a claim or defense in judicial proceedings. That bill was also vetoed by Brewer.

In an ironic twist, SB 1062 seems to have changed the way representatives view potential legislation. With HB 2148 likely to be voted on within the next week, the public will have a chance to see how representatives’ opinions have changed.

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Guest commentary: Visit to Yarnell memorial

Guest commentary: Visit to Yarnell memorial

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By AMANDA OIEN

A storm rolled into the quiet town of Yarnell, Ariz., on the evening of June 28, 2013. Dark clouds filled the summer sky and lightning struck dry, brush-covered hills.

The lightning ignited a forest fire that burned 8,400 acres.

Of the 350 firefighters assigned to the blaze, 20 were elite Granite Mountain Hotshots trained in tactics to suppress wildfires.

Strong winds shifted unexpectedly on June 30, trapping 19 Hotshots. They did not have time to deploy their last-resort emergency fire shelters and the men were killed in action.

This past December, my family and I traveled to our winter break getaway in Prescott. During our stay, we decided to make the 33-mile drive to Yarnell.

After a beautiful drive through canyons and open farmland populated by horses and cattle, we were greeted with a sign welcoming us to Yarnell.

With a population of just 649, Yarnell exemplifies a close-knit community. When we tried to visit the general store, we found the door locked. A flimsy, slightly crumpled paper taped to the window pane said the owner had gone to lunch.

After much driving to find the town’s makeshift memorial, we found it hidden behind the Ranch House restaurant on Highway 89. On a small hill behind the restaurant, three large photo boards stand on burned ground.

The first two boards share stories and photos for each of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. Mementos left by family, friends and visitors shadow the displays. Especially touching: fire department baseball hats from all over Arizona and the United States.

The last photo board is tucked farther up on a small slope. The hill looks over Highway 89 to the site where the 19 Hotshots breathed their last breath. You can use provided binoculars to see an American flag that marks the area where the 19 Hotshots fell.

The 100 Club of Arizona is an organization that provides financial assistance to families of public safety and firefighters when serious injury, death or life-altering situations occur.

With hard work by staffers and volunteers, the 100 Club raised $2.2 million through donations and fundraisers. The money will be used to meet the needs of those affected by the Yarnell tragedy.

Funeral expenses, memorial services and counseling are just a few items covered by the club with the community’s help.

If you are in northern Arizona, I encourage you to visit Yarnell.

“Yarnell 19” signs can still be seen inside shops and restaurants. Purple ribbons hang from trees and fences.

Seeing the memorials to the 19 Hotshots is an incredibly moving and humbling experience.

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“Yarnell 19″ memorials like the purple T-shirt at the back of this cafe remain on display throughout the town.”
Photo by Amanda Oien

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Amanda Oien is a sophomore at PCC’s East Campus

 
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Tips for dealing with depression

Tips for dealing with depression

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By Katie Stewart

Most college students share stressful experiences such as classes at odd hours, extensive homework and long hours at a job. Some also face mental health issues.

Anyone, including college students, can be affected by mental illness.

You can seem totally fine one minute, then suddenly feel everyday life squeezing the oxygen out of you.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 26.2 percent of U.S. residents ages 18 and older suffer from mental issues such as bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

The constant pressures of school can spawn depression in college students, according to NIMH.

About 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year, according to an American College Health Association–National College Health Assessment.

More than 6 percent of college students consider suicide and about 1 percent attempt suicide, the ACHA-NCHA said.

Family members who don’t have the disease really don’t understand what people are going through. They sometimes think students are just looking for attention, being dramatic or are too high-strung.

Depressed or anxious students who don’t understand themselves can feel out of place and constantly hope the world won’t come crashing down. They never really live life to the fullest.

When an illness is at its worst and pressure is at its peak, irrational thinking can make actions result in bad consequences.

“Many people with anxiety have severe problems with anxious and irrational thinking,” according to literature from the Calm Clinic.

“They know their thoughts are irrational, and yet struggle to convince themselves of the more logical and reasoned response.”

Anyone dealing with mental health issues needs coping methods to make it through the hard times.

Some patients use prescription medication such as Prozac, Zoloft and Xanax.

Those who don’t seek professional help may rely on recreational drugs and alcohol, self-mutilation or even suicide to rid themselves of the constant pain.

Others deal with their illness through natural methods such as meditation and exercise.

Successful coping methods teach people to recognize their early symptoms and find healthy ways to achieve a more peaceful mindset.

Experts suggest that people with mental illness engage in their treatment by knowing what they have and asking the questions they need answered.

Other tips: Find support from loved ones who understand, avoid alcohol and substances that could make the illness worse, and stay rested.

People dealing with stress may push their mind and body to a breaking point.

It is better to ease up on the work and school load. Take a break, take a breath.

Many resist asking for help because they don’t want to be seen as weak. But sometimes, asking for help is the only way to get help.

Finding successful coping methods can help people manage their disease and may change the stigma of mental illness.

If you or anyone you may know is dealing with mental illness or high stress, call or email the National Institute of Health at (301) 443-4536 or email  NIMHpress@mail.nih.gov.

Helpful websites, books and movies about mental illness include:

• National Institutes of Health: nimh.nih.gov

• National Alliance on Mental Illness: nami.org

• “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

• “Prozac Nation” by Elizabeth Wurtzel

• “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)

• “Girl, Interrupted” (1999)

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Aztec Press photo illustration by Larry Gaurano

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V-Day = commercialized guilt

V-Day = commercialized guilt

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By SEBASTIAN BARAJAS

Valentine’s Day produces color-induced vomiting in some people who can’t abide the overabundance of red during February.

It’s like something out of a music video from the early 2000s, where the main character is moving alone through a crowd of people in which everyone else has a significant other.

Much like the Grinch on Christmas, this is how some of us feel during Valentine’s Day — and justifiably so.

People spent $18.6 billion on Valentine’s Day last year, according to CNN. Individually, people spent about $130 on their sweetheart. 

I’m no economist but that seems like a butt-load of money. It comes as no surprise, however, since companies have had decades to hone their craft and guilt us into buying commercialized emotion.

 To illustrate my point, consider the Budweiser commercial featuring a puppy and a horse that aired during the Super Bowl. Yeah, I get it, they’re buds.

But take a closer look. The beer logo doesn’t actually appear until the end, which seems like false advertising. Now I want to buy a puppy or a Clydesdale. Thanks a lot for duping me, Budweiser.

With companies getting so good at selling and commerce reaching into the billions, it’s a bit of a wonder why America’s economy is still in the toilet.

With that in mind, we can see now why Valentine’s Day has such a commercial undertone while cleverly taking the guise of emotion.

I kind of appreciate just how low a company will stoop to make a buck. It’s sad, though, that people think buying a product can really quantify one’s love.

Most advertisements for such products border on the ridiculous but people still flock to purchase them.

After all, nothing says ‘I love you’ like getting your special someone a new personalized iPhone case that features you two sucking face in some hip filter with “I heart you baby boo” inscribed on your forehead. I exaggerate, but not by much.

Valentine’s Day is an overrated commercial experience that really brings out the capitalistic nature of our country.

I advise ignoring V-Day and going out with your special someone the next day. Not only will you avoid the wave of Hallmark insanity but you can more easily score dinner reservations.

The holiday is just another bombardment of commercial, pre-packaged, grass-fed, FDA-approved bullshit. The use of emotional incentive to market products is an aberrantly common practice.

Being the type of person who dislikes extortion, that’s something I personally cannot abide.

I believe there were some British gentlemen in the ‘60s who said something along the lines of “Can’t buy me love” and I stick to it.

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PCC offers help with university transfer strategies

PCC offers help with university transfer strategies

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By BETO HOYOS and SEBASTIAN BARAJAS

Making the transition from a community college to a university can be a confusing and rigorous process.

Pima Community College offers a class specifically designed to ease students into the transition.

STU 210 is a transfer strategies course for students seeking to further their education at a university. Students who elect to take the class gain the benefit of priority registration status at the University of Arizona, though the course is applicable to other schools.

“With the high demand for courses, it is not unusual for some classes at UA to fill within minutes of being open,” instructor Edward Doran said in an email.

In Fall 2012, more than 800 PCC students transferred to UA. Of those, 200 were enrolled in STU 210.

Doran said that means 75 percent of students did not receive the benefits that STU 210 can offer.

“If you transfer on your own, you’re at the back of the line,” he said.

Priority registration status is valid for two semesters after completing the course.

The class also includes UA’s mandatory orientation. Transfer students not enrolled in the class must pay for the orientation.

An informal survey of Pima students currently enrolled in STU 210 generated positive comments.

“I think it’s really helpful, because it’s stressful to do the whole process of transferring to a university,” Zujaila Ornelas said.

Mario Cuevas also called the course helpful, and said he appreciates having help with the transfer process.

“It’s pretty informative, man,” Cuevas said. “It just makes things easier.”

STU 210 courses are offered each semester at five Pima campuses.

The first few sessions focus on the application process and address any questions students have. The remainder of the semester focuses on understanding the challenges of attending a university and preparing for the transition.

Students spend half of their class time at UA, where speakers and representatives discuss everything from campus health to grants.

Some classes schedule tours of the UA campus, while other have students schedule their own tours.

In addition to the transfer strategies course, students have access to a UA admissions advisor housed in the Downtown Campus Counseling Center.

“UA has made a strong commitment in supporting Pima students in the transfer process,” Doran said.“Unfortunately, many of our students are unaware of this support.”

 

FYI

STU 210 – Transfer Strategies

The two-credit course is offered each semester at five PCC campuses.

Spring 2014 enrollment opens Nov. 11.

UA Transfer Admissions

Paul J. Miller

UA Office of Admissions @ Pima Downtown Campus
Email: pauljm@email.arizona.edu
Facebook: facebook.com/TransferUA

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STU 210 students, from left, London Mcdougal, Michael Price and Nick Christensen review transfer strategies with instructor Edward Doran. (Aztec Press photo by Sebastian Barajas)

 

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Secret trade agreement puts liberty at risk

Secret trade agreement puts liberty at risk

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By DAVID J. DEL GRANDE

 

In 2005, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement began negotiating an extremely secretive international free trade policy.

 

Eight years later, its membership, secrecy and controversy has quadrupled. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has trimmed its moniker but extended its constrictive reach.

 

Last year, the United States exported $942 billion worth of manufactured goods to TPP member countries. That accounts for 61 percent of U.S. exports.

 

Twelve nations now participate in the free trade agreement: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

 

The United States officially became a member in early 2009.

 

“Boosting economic growth”

 

The Obama administration joined TPP to “boost U.S. economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality American jobs,” according to documents from the executive office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

 

The documents say that will happen by “increasing exports in a region that includes some of the world’s most robust economies and represents more than 40 percent of global trade.”

 

In theory, TPP can neutralize protectionism, lower trade tariffs and boost a blossoming nation’s economy. Lowering trade tariffs can potentially cut consumer costs on education, prescription medications and legal services.

 

 

Why so much secrecy?

 

But mystery surrounding TPP’s goals and progress has left many opponents leery. Why the secrecy?

 

It is practically impossible to learn the names of TPP’s 600 corporate representatives. The public doesn’t know when TPP members are meeting or what they are writing into law until after the fact.

 

Jim Hightower, contributing writer for truth-out.org, has written that U.S. involvement with TPP increases liability for issues such as food safety, outsourcing and massive restrictions on the Internet.

 

“Consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for something as benign as sending your mom a recipe you got off a paid site,” Hightower said.

 

U.S. food safety regulations regarding pesticides, toxic additives and fecal exposure could be forced into substandard levels to avoid violating “illegal trade barriers” protected under TPP, according to Hightower.

 

Margaret Flowers, co-director of “It’s Our Economy” and an Al-Jazeera English contributor, wrote on June 17 about TPP’s great secrecy and high risks.

 

“The text of the TPP includes 29 chapters, only five of which are about trade,” she wrote. “The White House refuses to make the text available to the public. In fact, the negotiators refuse to publish the text until four years after it is signed into law.”

 

 

Supporters not worried

 

Simon Lester, analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, supports TPP and has faith in the negotiators.

 

“Looking at other trade agreements that have been signed in recent years, most trade observers have a pretty good sense of what will be in the TPP,” Lester wrote in an article for the Huffington Post.

 

A bit of secrecy is necessary to negotiate these agreements,” Lester wrote. “Governments do not want to give away all of their objectives.

 

 

The China connection

 

 

China has recently been considered for participation in TPP, which could easily be perceived as a high-stakes chess game flavored with a hint of economic warfare.

 

Participation means China would enforce stricter labor laws, increasing production costs. If China is excluded, nations protected under TPP would enjoy the advantage of reduced trade tariffs.

 

President Obama cancelled plans to attend TPP negotiations in Bali, due to the U.S. government shutdown. He sent Secretary of State John Kerry in his place.

 

Critics say the president’s absence at TPP meetings shows a lack of U.S. commitment and effectiveness in the international community.

 

TPP opponents wonder if influential lobbyists have indirectly deadlocked a U.S. budget proposal because a corporation involved in TPP negotiations wants the agreement to fail.

 

 

What’s being negotiated?

 

The United States exported more than $1 trillion to the Pacific Rim between 2009 and 2012, so why is a new trade agreement being negotiated with this part of the world?

 

And if fewer than one-quarter of the 29 TPP chapters are written about trade, what is actually in negotiation?

 

The only TPP documentation the public has seen came from an illegal leak, which makes this monumental trade agreement about as transparent as a super-max prison cell.

 

Harmful secrets are kept by regimes and people who don’t deserve the position they hold.

 

The secrecy of TPP goals and negotiations is perjurious. Because our liberties are at stake, we deserve access to the information.

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