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.
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)
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.
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.”
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
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.
By KATIE STEWART
In today’s media, outer beauty has become more important than what a person thinks or feels.
The need for character and morals has been cast aside. Instead, we value role models for being skinny and pretty, or buff and handsome.
This emphasis on physical beauty comes with a price. Children and young adults are feeling the effects.
Being bombarded with ideals of bodily appearance can lead to many psychological problems, including self-loathing and low self-esteem. Striving to a have a “perfect” body can cause depression, eating disorders, self-mutilation and even suicide.
In a 2009 interview, model Kate Moss was asked whether she had a motto. Her reply: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
What does this say to her young audience?
It presents the idea that size 0 is your only option for happiness. It tells a young viewer that being different is not acceptable.
In 2011, actress/singer Demi Lovato revealed her history of being bullied by other children when she was growing up.
“I literally didn’t know why they were being so mean to me,” Lovato said. “When I would ask them why, they would just say, ‘Well, you’re fat.’”
At age 11, Lovato started self-mutilating to deal with the pain of bullying.
“It was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body,” she said.
Even as celebrities share their bullying experiences, the media continues to negatively contribute to ideas about body imagine and outer beauty.
And it doesn’t only happen to girls. Body image also affects the male population.
In an article, “Beauty and the Boy: The Impact of Negative Body Image on Our Boy,” Peggy Drexler cited a study from the journal Pediatrics.
The study found that 40 percent of boys in middle and high school exercise regularly and 90 percent at least occasionally, with the specific goal of bulking up.
Numerous studies have explored how media affects young audiences. Some key findings:
· Forty percent of girls ages 9 and 10 have tried to lose weight, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
· In a study of fifth graders, 10-year-old girls and boys told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears.
· Another study found that 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies at age 13. The percentage grows to 78 percent by the time girls reach 17.
· On television shows watched by teen girls, 56 percent of commercials aimed at female viewers used beauty as a product appeal. By comparison, this is true of just 3 percent of television commercials aimed at men.
· Up to 10 million adolescent girls and women struggle with eating disorders and borderline eating conditions.
· Ninety percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25, according to the Center for Mental Health Services.
· Each year, millions of U.S. residents are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders. More than 90 percent of those afflicted are adolescent and young adult women.
When growing up, we learn and begin to form ideas from the world around us. The media gives us a sense of what is acceptable and what is not.
As long as movies and music concentrate on the biological attractiveness of people rather than their moral character, problems such as bullying, eating disorders and other psychological problems will continue.
Measuring people by how cute they are or how many push-ups they can do only contributes to the negative images and ideas portrayed by the media.
Instead, we should teach young people to place greater respect on inner beauty, intelligence, personality and morals.
We can only hope that sometime in the future, people will be valued and praised because they have something meaningful to contribute.
Recent years have been full of violence, with the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, the Aurora theater shooting, the Newtown massacre, and now the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Boston Marathon, held every year on Patriots’ Day, suffered its soul-crushing tragedy on April 15.
When two explosions erupted near the finish line, instant panic pierced the streets. Runners and bystanders scrambled to make sense of the chaos.
The scene was described as a “combat zone,” with debris scattered alongside severed limbs and pools of blood. The bombings killed three people and injured 260. The injuries ranged from shrapnel wounds to dismemberment.
As the week unfolded and the nation searched for answers, two suspects emerged from the wreckage.
Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, were both ethnic Chechens, immigrants from Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. They were naturalized citizens who had lived in the United States for a decade.
On the surface, both brothers seemed like average Americans. Tamerlan loved to box, married an American woman, and had a daughter with her. Dzhokhar was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Most of know the storyline that followed:
The brothers were quickly identified after the FBI released photos of the suspects. A massive manhunt began, and authorities closed in on the brothers after they fatally ambushed a police officer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The older brother was killed by police during an ensuing firefight, but Dzhokhar escaped.
Dzhokhar surrendered to police the next morning after he was found hiding in a boat. He was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with serious injuries.
Invoking the public safety exception, authorities did not initially read Dzhokhar his Miranda rights. Some U.S. senators urged that he be tried as an enemy combatant.
Dzhokhar was later transferred to a federal medical prison. Though Massachusetts does not have capital punishment, prosecutors could seek the death penalty in federal court.
Due to a throat injury, Dzhokhar was unable to speak but communicated through writing and nodding.
He told authorities that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were his motivation for the bombings.
What are we to do in response to all this violence?
Will we continue meddling in war-torn regions of the world that don’t want to change?
Are we to seek retribution by targeting Middle Easterners? A Palestinian woman was attacked in Boston just before the suspects were identified.
Will we heed calls to tighten immigration by closing our doors to people who conspire against us?
Whether they’re Middle Eastern terrorists, deranged college students or Eastern European immigrants, we can’t seem to figure out who is with us and who is against us.
Shall we be overly cautious and brand all those who practice Islam as terrorists?
Should we label all loners as psychopaths?
Here’s the reality: You can have all the security in the world and still be at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The Boston Marathon conducted bomb sweeps before the race began. All seemed well.
Whether it be a combat zone, grocery store, movie theater, elementary school or marathon, we live in a world where atrocities can occur at any time or place.
So what to do?
We should be vigilant and ever watchful of suspicious behavior, and report it when we see it.
Once violence occurs, all we can control is our response. The fear can either consume us or teach us.
We can take from these atrocities an appreciation for the time we do have. We can act as if every moment is our last — because it just may be.
Be all the more mindful and grateful for what we do have — the moment.
Part 1 of a two-part series
By SIERRA J. RUSSELL
In 1990, the Aztec Press published a special edition dedicated solely to Earth Day activities.
The edition included charts, graphs and surveys to help readers gain a better understanding of threats to the environment.
It also offered suggestions for what could be done on a daily and personal level to help.
Most students interviewed voiced a willingness to be a part of the effort to reduce environmental threats. However, many also expressed feelings of helplessness.
Many said they believed the quality of the environment had deteriorated within the past century and was on a steady decline.
The edition outlined simple changes that can make a deep impact, such as water conservation, reduced fuel consumption and proper disposal of waste.
At the time, recycling bins had recently been put in place on Pima Community College campuses.
The student government worked with PCC’s food service company, the Marriott Corporation, to provide bins for aluminum cans. A pending project focused on recycling scrap paper but hadn’t yet been implemented.
One article explained how to create a backyard compost heap to produce garden fertilizer.
Another listed trees that grow well in the Southwest, including Desert Willow, Mesquite, Blue Palo Verde, Texas Ebony, Eucalyptus, Acacia and the Feather Tree.
Clayton May, a PCC chemistry laboratory technician and a consultant for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species division, told about discovering endangered Tumanoc Globe Berry plants growing near West Campus in 1985.
“The Tumanoc Globe Berry is a tuber,” May explained. “It emerges from the ground approximately two to three weeks before the summer rains.”
He located eight plants, but two of the plants were later lost. One was accidentally demolished during a construction project and the other was carefully unearthed and taken at night.
May said one way to ensure the safety of endangered species was to support legislation that protects large areas of natural habitat.
Michael Flores, a member of the Tohono O’odham nation, was interviewed.
“It is good that people are beginning, although a little too late, to realize the consequences of these acts of cruelty toward Mother Earth,” Flores said.
He noted that many people he spoke with during an Earth Day celebration seemed to be economically motivated. He said that was better than no motivation.
“Spirituality should be the motivator,” Flores said. “We all have it within us; some don’t use it as much as others; some don’t use it at all.”
Many European settlers fled their homeland because of political persecution and lacked a strong bond with the new land, Flores said.
He urged people to establish a way to commune with nature, to strengthen both the environment and humankind’s mental and physical health.
“We all have a responsibility to do something,” Flores said. “Anything anybody can do to protect Mother Earth will help future generations.”
All things are interconnected…
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the people of earth.
Man did not weave the web of life;
he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
he does to himself.
-Chief Seathl (Seattle)
Next issue: Backyard gardening and water conservation.
By COLE POTWARDOWSKI
The need to avert gun violence in schools has risen since the Newtown, Conn., massacre last year, but Arizona lawmakers are stumped trying to find solutions.
On Dec. 26, 2012, shortly after Connecticut’s Sandy Hook shootings, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued his ideas to avert another massacre.
His ideal solution was having an armed police officer in every public Arizona school, as suggested by the National Rifle Association, but budget costs constrained that notion.
“The next best solution is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location,” Horne said.
Horne’s proposal was drafted as House Bill 2656 by Rep. David Stevens, R-Dist. 14. One appointee per public school would have 24 hours of gun handling training under the instruction of Arizona’s police force.
After training, the designee would stow the gun in a lockbox and have sole access.
Horne’s proposal received criticism from educators and parents. Some instructors cited discomfort at having a gun in school while parents shared uncertainty over the proposal.
The proposal suffers from too many “what if?” scenarios. Horne’s intentions to prevent gun violence could inadvertently become a trigger for more.
FIREARMS ON CAMPUS
Arizona Education Association President Andrew Morrill said, “You don’t reduce the violence on Arizona campuses or anywhere by increasing the number of firearms on campus.”
History supports this.
Consider the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students.
Jefferson County deputy sheriff Neil Gardner, armed with a .45 semiautomatic pistol, was patrolling the school’s northwest parking lot when the shooting started.
His presence did not prevent the mass shooting or the shooters from taking their own lives, though he thought he played a small role.
“I think with exchanging fire it did allow some people that were fleeing the scene to get out of the building,” Gardner said in a 1999 Dateline NBC interview.
A 2012 shooting near the Empire State Building offers another perspective. A shootout between two men at the tower’s base led to immediate response from the New York Police Department.
When the NYPD fatally shot the assailant, nine bystanders were injured in the crossfire. The NYPD now faces a lawsuit.
The Empire State Building is not an educational facility, but it is a location where law enforcement officers were readily prepared.
By comparison, Horne’s proposal of having a gun readily prepared in a lockbox implies unthinkable repercussions.
What other Arizona proposals might see the light?
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Dist. 14, suggested increasing school resource officers, tightening state gun laws and improving treatment for the mentally ill.
His versatile approach would cost $160 million and take $58 million out of this year’s state budget, according to news reports.
Campbell’s proposal would also require re-establishing gun laws in a state where Gov. Jan Brewer allowed concealed weapons for individuals 21 and older without a permit.
Brewer faced scrutiny from Mark Kelly, husband of former Tucson congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords.
“We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced,” Kelly said. “After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora we have done nothing.”
Kelly made those comments on Nov. 8, 2012. Now, he can add Sandy Hook to the list as he and Giffords continue their fight to reform gun laws.
If putting guns into school lockboxes or tightening gun legislation yields no results, will understanding the minds of the killers prevent further violence?
Angela Robinson, president of Arizona School Counselors Association, calls counselors the pulse of the school. “Your school counselor knows every student in the school.”
She could be right, but few people had ever heard of Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Jared Lee Loughner, Adam Lanza, James Holmes or Charles Whitman until after they made headlines.
Will placing guns in schools prevent further gun violence?
Russian playwright Anton Chekhov didn’t seem to think so.
“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it,” Chekhov wrote in 1889.
Horne’s proposal sets up Chekhov’s gun. If you’re squeamish, don’t wait around for Act Three.
By ANDREW PAXTON
Many question the legality and morality of the government’s surveillance and targeted assassination programs.
Thousands across the globe have been killed, and countless more have been negatively affected by America’s drone program.
Voices criticizing the program range from Amnesty International and Code Pink to the United Nations and some U.S. senators.
Most questions stem from the release of a so-called “white paper” that details the government’s position on drone strikes, and from the confirmation hearings of John Brennan, the “architect” of the drone program and Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA.
Members of Congress asked Brennan under what conditions the government believes it may kill American citizens without a trial or conviction.
The possibility of “secret courts” being created to hear evidence and determine who can be targeted was also raised. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, argued for a new court, saying the president should not be “prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner.”
Detractors argued that such courts would be unfeasible operationally and constitutionally, diluting the powers of the commander in chief. Some argue that courts have no business deciding matters of military operations or national intelligence.
A TUCSON CONNECTION
Talk of drones and executions may seem far away from Arizona, but a closer look reveals many elements of the debate center around the Desert Southwest.
Raytheon, Tucson’s largest private employer, provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the economy. The company creates weapon technology, including a missile that may someday be used on drones.
During Brennan’s confirmation hearing, protestors with Code Pink interrupted proceedings and held a banner that read, “Raytheon’s drones create enemies.”
Also, with demand for border security being tied to immigration reform, expect increased surveillance along the Mexican-American frontier. This will undoubtedly mean drones buzzing over Nogales, Douglas and perhaps all the way to Tucson.
The Federal Aviation Administration has set a 2015 deadline for guidelines to permit up to 10,000 drones over American skies. Their sound will become as familiar to Americans as it is to people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.
Drones are already being used over American skies. During a recent hostage situation in Alabama, UAVs provided 24-hour coverage. Los Angeles police claimed using drones would have greatly assisted in their recent manhunt for an accused cop-killer.
Homeland Security is exploring the use of drones to track drug smugglers and human traffickers. The agency already owns several, including Hellfire missile-equipped Predators.
CROSSING A LINE
Drones can clearly be used for hunting criminals or fighting fires. But when is the Orwellian line crossed? When does all-seeing Big Brother infringe upon John Q. Public?
As technology grows, advances bring new questions.
Do aircraft armed with giga-pixel cameras capable of viewing an entire city make the population safer, or rob the public of privacy?
A shroud of secrecy surrounds even basic elements.
How can the public debate an issue as important as extrajudicial executions if the details aren’t known? This is not the way America is supposed to work.
The government refused to even acknowledge the existence of its targeted assassination program until last year, and details remain scant.
With their secret out, the Obama administration, which once prided itself on openness and culpability, has said it will not release any more details about the secret assassination program.
Government watchdogs believe the criteria for killing Americans must be publicized.
KILLING U.S. CITIZENS
The targeting of American citizens should not be taken lightly.
Even in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, an accused terrorist mastermind, the facts are not clear. He supposedly directed the failed Christmas Day bombing in Detroit, as well as the Fort Hood shooting and other attacks.
While al-Awlaki was accused of formulating and directing numerous plots against America, he was never charged with any crime, let alone convicted in a court of law. He was executed in Yemen in the fall of 2011, along with his 16-year-old son, also an American.
Why not charge and convict him, in absentia if necessary? That way, the evidence would be heard in court, and a judge could decide his fate. Novel idea, isn’t it? Sounds like the way America used to work.
A recent survey by Farleigh Dickinson University indicates that a majority of Americans do not approve of the use of drones on American citizens. However, most approve of strikes against “terrorists” because they are told it makes them safer.
The CIA drops missiles on people who may or may not be terrorists without ever presenting evidence of their alleged crimes. They ask few questions. When questions are asked, answers are hard to come by, due to the clandestine nature of the strikes.
Opponents believe that targeted assassinations rally extremists, and often turn those who once supported America toward the militants. Many leaders in Pakistan and other countries express doubt regarding their effectiveness.
With Brennan virtually guaranteed confirmation, expect the number of drone strikes to increase, despite mounting criticism and protests. Although he denounced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, he has little problem with executing Americans without trial.
Questions regarding extrajudicial assassinations and 24-hour surveillance need to be answered, before our skies are filled with killer robots constantly watching us.
By MYLO ERICKSON
One of the things in my life that I care very little about is, well … me. I don’t take myself too seriously.
I’m not in denial about my weight or looks. I do own a mirror, which I must replace every time I take a look.
However, during high school and for a few years following, I really hated myself. I found ways to punish myself for being me.
I used box cutters to cut my arms, or even carve words. I jumped off ladders and roofs.
I even participated in a boxing match, despite having no idea how to box. I still have no clue, by the way.
The list could go on, but I’m not saying this to impress anyone. In fact, I look back on those days and can’t believe what an idiot I was.
You’re probably thinking that doing these things was a cry for attention, and you would be 100 percent right. I felt that I needed people’s approval to be happy.
I know now that the more attention you get, the more you want. Or people just find your antics sad and pathetic. Of course, some people enjoy stupidity. That’s why “Twilight” exists.
I’ve also learned that you must be happy with yourself, or at least comfortable, before anyone else will feel at ease around you.
When I finally became content with who I am, my outlook changed and life got better. I met my wife, who happily keeps my balls in a mason jar on her dresser. We haven’t yet sprung for a nice wooden box.
Life isn’t perfect. Problems still arise, but I deal with them as they show up. I don’t stress. Things eventually work out.
This column is a bit different from the others I’ve written. It is also my last, as I am moving on to the University of Arizona.
I have enjoyed the time I’ve spent at the Aztec Press. Working with adviser Cynthia Lancaster was an honor and I will always be grateful for what she taught me and tried to teach me. Let’s face it, I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to learning new tricks.
I am also grateful for my friendships with my fellow journalism students. For some reason, they encouraged me and continue to do so. Thank you.
Now, I know that not many, if any, people will read this. However, I don’t need vindication from someone reading my stuff. That’s not why I do it.
I do it because I like to.
I’ll now hand over my soap box to the next person who wants to rant and rave about what makes them upset, happy or whatever.
Or maybe no one will. Either way, I don’t give a shit.
By MIKI JENNINGS
I’ve spent four semesters on staff at the Aztec Press, working in different capacities: as a reporter, covering our social media posts for a semester and overseeing the Arts and Entertainment section for the last two semesters.
I’ve helped newbie reporters get started and find their footing, and I feel confident about what I do. I was starting to really feel like I had succeeded at carving out a name for myself at this school, or at least the school’s newspaper.
It’s time for me to move on and finally finish up my degree at the University of Arizona. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time in my schedule to be a student at both schools, as much as I would love to juggle UA classes and staying on staff.
Really, I just don’t want to leave. I’m going to miss it a lot. It’s difficult for me to quantify the skills and experience I’ve gained in the two years spent here. I know that I’ll find a place wherever I go, but I’m just not eager to go.
I’ve worked with many talented and motivated aspiring journalists and I’m really sad about leaving our small-but-mighty staff behind. The support and helpful, constructive critiques here are unmatched by any other journalistic ventures.
And no other publication could possibly be as fun, right?
Well, possibly not. But I still have to move on. It’s time to go somewhere new and see what a different publication has to offer: perhaps daily stresses versus weekly ones, new events to cover, maybe even with pay … if I’m lucky.
It’s important to keep an open mind when you’re heading in a strange direction. Otherwise, how else will you glean wisdom from the new situation? That’s even harder to remember when you didn’t want to head in that direction in the first place.
Really, I would stay on staff here forever if it wouldn’t make me look like a creepy college graduate who just couldn’t move on.
But new opportunities aside, I’m really going to miss it.
Jennings, 22, is a journalism major. She plans to hide out in the Aztec Press newsroom during all of her spare time.
By APRIL GEORGE
I don’t like to talk about my illnesses. It makes me feel like I’m whining, despite countless people telling me I should talk about it more.
Unfortunately, my anxiety kicks in and I start wondering if they’re only telling me that to make me feel better. It’s an awful, endless cycle.
I want to walk you through a typical day. We’ll do Monday, because those are the hardest.
My alarm starts going off at 6 a.m. If I’m lucky, I hit snooze a few times and get up at 7. If I’m not lucky, and I’m usually not, I lay in bed after I’ve hit snooze a couple of times, in too much pain to even contemplate getting up.
Then, I start feeling useless because I can’t even get out of bed. That’s when the anxiety hits, screaming at me that I’ll fail my classes and get thrown out of school.
So I drag myself out of bed and into the shower, which takes far more energy than it should. By the time I’m showered and dressed, I’m exhausted. Remember, all of this is before I’ve even left for class.
When my day finally ends at 7 p.m., all I want to do is curl up on the floor and sob. Of course, I’ve got three more days of classes to survive.
It takes a tremendous amount of stamina to get through the day. My pain triggers my depression, which in turn triggers my anxiety, which makes my pain flare up more. It’s a never-ending cycle.
The pain causes memory loss, which my doctor calls “pain fog.” She says it’s normal, but when I start losing time, my anxiety goes into overdrive and my depression spikes. Within minutes, I’m in the fetal position on the floor in tears because I feel so useless.
My anxiety sparks when I’m confronted by my phobias. I’m terrified of needles, which makes medical procedures a nightmare. My poor physical therapist learned that the hard way when I had a panic attack on him.
I’m also deathly afraid of clowns. I had an opportunity this past October to perform at the Slaughterhouse Haunt, which features clowns prominently. I was not warned beforehand that they’d be wandering all over the place. Guess what? Panic attack.
Recently, my anxiety hit an all-time low. I finally got my pain under enough control that I felt comfortable going out to karaoke with a couple of friends.
The University of Arizona versus Arizona State University football game was on TV, and the bar was packed. Normally I can deal with noise, but before long the screaming fans got to me.
I am constantly hearing screaming in my head, which is loud, discordant and awful. When I hear it anywhere else, it hits me hard.
That was all I could hear at the bar. I felt horrible because my friends were so excited to be out, but I had to leave before I had a panic attack.
I will be taking next semester off to get everything under control, and I’m already starting to worry about that decision. Will people understand? Will they think I couldn’t take it and dropped out?
Just imagine what trying to find a job is going to do to me.
My life used to be a lot easier. I feel awful for all the things I took for granted that I can’t do anymore, and wish I could tell my younger self to cherish everything.
Because of my illnesses, I treasure anything and everything I can find the strength to do.
By THOMAS F. JOHNSON
I’ve dealt with Asperger’s syndrome for all my life, unable to find a proper medication until the end of high school.
For years, I struggled with fits. I still have problems interacting with others on a daily basis.
The educational help I received served only to keep me in school, not to deal with my disability-related issues.
Both “life skills” classes I was assigned to in high school eventually devolved into study periods — a testament to the incompetence of TUSD special education.
I woefully wonder if I am ever going to have a relationship or even a one-night stand. It’s hard enough for seemingly normal guys to get dates. My various blathering and rudeness-based infractions are as lady-repellent as Axe Body spray or truck nuts.
Beyond fearing that I’ll fail to achieve my dream job as a writer, I worry that I’ll find any job at all unless I sell my orifices to strangers to buy food.
I’ve never had a paying job, and am afraid my behavioral problems may get me fired from any work I do obtain.
That possibility is hammered into me repeatedly by my stepmother over the basic social and cleanliness-related faux pas I commit at home on a nigh hourly basis.
The fear is even more warranted since I was kicked out of my volunteer position with the Humane Society for requiring “too much supervision.” I’ve come close to alienating another organization, too, which I will not name because I don’t want to create drama.
It winds me like a watch when other people, both in and out of the autism spectrum, say that Asperger’s syndrome is a gift. There is a phrase for empathizing with a tormentor like this. It happens to be known as Stockholm syndrome.
It’s true that I’m more high-functioning than some autistics. Those souls are the only ones free to call me a lucky schmuck.
Science has proven that autistic individuals are just as intelligent as most people, but can’t vocalize their thoughts. They are forced into insane, repetitive behavioral patterns because of their disability.
Are these mental shackles a gift?
This is why I find the concept of neurodiversity laughable. Only people without disabilities formulate hippy-dippy ideas such as keeping the genes that cause children to be born with stunted flipper-limbs in the gene pool to preserve diversity.
All forms of autism sap a person’s self-identity like a tick.
I have no idea about how much of me is truly me and how much is the disorder talking. Feeling that my free will isn’t truly free is the most existentially terrifying aspect of my life.
I try, God knows I try, but I feel a crippling doubt when I fail. Am I really the master of my own fate, or am I a puppet of neurological cross-wiring?
If there ever is a cure developed for Asperger’s, I’d be afraid to take it. I simply don’t know what would remain after the disease is stripped away.
It might take my one notable skill (writing) away, leaving only a pink, quivering lump of worthlessness on the ground, my true self naked to the world.
But, despite all my griping, things have gotten better. My chances of accomplishing my dreams have gone from impossible to merely infinitesimal, and I do try to improve every day.
All I ask is that you try to understand my problem. It’s not something invented by the Internet as a cheap ploy to get sympathy, nor can it be instantly wiped away in an ‘80s-style movie montage.
I don’t need your pity, just your help.