// December 21, 2012 by JessMag
On Friday morning, the National Rifle Association held its much-anticipated press conference. CEO Wayne LaPierre said that "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun" and suggested schools hire armed guards. Then he blamed video games (including the gun-free Mortal Kombat), gun bans in schools, the media, a lack of gun crime prosecutions, and music videos for gun violence.
Do you think LaPierre is on the right track, or are we putting a band-aid on a problem that requires preventive medicine?
What did you think of the NRA's speech this morning?
// December 20, 2012 by JessMag
Happy 13th bak'tun! According to the people who believe the Mayan prophecy that most actual Mayan people have said isn't real, the world will end some time in the next day. Some people are marking the occasion by stocking up on canned goods and gold bars, others are throwing parties to celebrate, and a few worried folks are jamming NASA's phone line with questions about it. Which camp do you fall in: doomsday prepper, doomsday partier, or utterly uninterested third party with no special plans tonight?
What are you doing to mark the end of the world?
// December 19, 2012 by JessMag
In a press conference Wednesday morning, President Obama announced that he will be creating a task force to address gun control legislation. The task force will be headed by Vice President Joe Biden, who has written a number of gun control laws in the past that have warranted him an "F" grade from the NRA.
Though gun violence occurs frequently in America - experts estimate that more than 30 Americans are killed every day from gun homicides - the school shooting and subsequent death of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut last week seems to have galvanized politicians to finally take a stand. But it's very possible that a few months will go by, people will feel less passionate about the need for gun control, and the NRA will be able to kill any legislation before it can pass.
Do you think the President's task force will be able to pass any meaningful gun control legislation, or is it political posturing to appease the populace after a national tragedy?
What do you think of Obama's task force to address gun control?click here to continue reading
// December 18, 2012 by JessMag
Since the violent gun deaths of 27 innocent victims on Friday, the NRA has taken down their Facebook page and did not issue any sort of statment about the tragedy until five days later. As Mother Jones points out, this is the organization's MO after a gun violence tragedy: remain silent while the nation mourns, and then try to kill any proposed gun legislation over the course of the following months.
On Tuesday afternoon, the NRA released a brief statement to the media:
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.
Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.
The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.
The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.
Details will be released to the media at the appropriate time.
At this point, no one has any idea what those "meaningful contributions" might be.
What do you think the NRA should do or say in response to this tragedy?click here to continue reading
// December 17, 2012 by JessMag
After a week marred by gun violence across the country, the issue of gun control once again has risen to the public consciousness. But while there have been many calls for general action - including more than 160,000 signatures on a White House petition to act - there hasn't been much in the way of specifics.
If you had the power to enact gun legislation, what would you do?
What gun control laws would you enact if you could?
// December 13, 2012 by JessMag
UPDATE: Since we posted this on Thursday afternoon, there has been another mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Since the topic is still so relevant, we are keeping this as the Big Featured Discussion.
Earlier this week, a shooter used an automatic rifle to open fire on a crowded mall. Over the summer, shooting sprees claimed lives in Colorado, Wisconsin and Minneapolis. But our politicians remain completely silent on the issue: President Obama has not signed a single piece of gun-related legislation since he took office.
What has to happen for the United States to seriously discuss gun control laws?click here to continue reading
// December 12, 2012 by JessMag
This week, the Michigan legislature voted to implement right-to-work laws, effectively busting unions statewide. Thousands of protesters swarmed the state capitol to express their discontent.
People who support right-to-work laws say unions are outdated. Labor proponents point out the many advantages of unions that we all enjoy today: weekends, lunch breaks, sick leave, wrongful termination laws, overtime pay, and the 40-hour work week, among other things. But detractors say unions have accomplished those things, so we don't need unions any more. Are there still things unions need to accomplish? Or are they a labor solution to a nonexistent problem?
What role should unions play in 21st century America?click here to continue reading
// December 11, 2012 by JessMag
On Monday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a Princeton University crowd that, from a legal perspective, comparing homosexuality with murder was OK because both are "moral feelings."
Scalia has a questionable history with LGBT rights. In 1996, he wrote a dissenting opinion in Romer v. Evans that said that he had nothing against homosexuals; however, eight years later, he said of Lawrence v. Texas that "Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home."
It would seem that as he's aged, Scalias' tolerance of the LGBT community has diminished. In less than two decades, he went from public neutrality to publically comparing gay people to murderers.
What do you think about Antonin Scalia's recent remarks about homosexuality?click here to continue reading
// December 10, 2012 by ctv
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke with our own Bill Press on Monday morning to go over last week's latest jobs report, which featured some good news as the unemployment rate ticked down slightly.
Current's David Shuster reported last week that it's too soon to get excited about these jobs numbers, as some of the decrease in unemployment came as a result of more people no longer looking for jobs.
Solis says in the video below that the signs are positive, but stresses "we're not out of the woods yet."
How are you feeling about job growth in the United States? Is consumer confidence growing? Are things better, worse or unchanged as a result of last month's presidential election?click here to continue reading
// December 07, 2012 by JessMag
Last week, Katy Perry accepted her Woman of the Year award from Billboard with a speech that included, "I'm not a feminist, but I believe in the power of women." French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy said "women in my generation don't need to be feminist."
Recent articles in Salon and The Atlantic and an interview with Katie Roiphe on "Joy Behar: Say Anything!" touched on the idea that maybe it's a good thing that young women don't feel the need to identify as feminist. Maybe feminism has come far enough that women don't feel like they need their own movement anymore. As Roiphe said:
“Maybe it’s a sign of how much younger women perceive the opportunities available to them, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe they don’t feel like they need feminism. … It’s a very radical change. And this social revolution of feminism in the ’70s really achieved so many of its goals - not every single one of them, obviously - but I think we should say it’s great that these young women don’t feel like they need to be feminists.”
So what do you think? Have women finally caught up with men? Or are there areas where we still need feminism?
Is feminism still relevant?click here to continue reading
// December 06, 2012 by JessMag
As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, marijuana is legal for recreational use in Washington state. Washington has long been a progressive haven for marijuana users - medical cannabis became legal in 1998, and in 2003, Seattle passed an initiative stating that adult possesion of marijuana was the city's lowest law enforcement priority. An email was sent to Seattle police officers this week that told them to only issue verbal warnings if they catch someone smoking marijuana in public.
Of course, federal law still trumps state law, so if it wanted to, the DEA could send agents to Washington state to shut down the smoky celebrations. Business owners are concerned about employees coming to work under the influence, and marijuana detractors say legalizing it will lead to more car accidents and other problems. Will Washington fall into disarray under the burden of a stoned citizenry, or will residents be able to balance marijuana use and real-life responsibilities?
How do you think the legalization of recreational marijuana will play out in Washington state?click here to continue reading
// December 05, 2012 by JessMag
Since their crushing defeat on Nov. 6, some members of the Republican party seem to have realized that the whole tea party, far-right-wing thing isn't exactly working for them. Party moderates like Meghan McCain have called for a total overhaul of its platform. And it's possible that some people have actually listened.
And last week, Pat Robertson publicly announced that creationism is not based on the Bible, that carbon dating is legit, and that we shouldn't "fight science."
And since Romney's loss, just about everyone in the party has been distancing themselves from him.
So has the GOP finally realized that going hard right isn't working anymore? Or is this just a temporary bout of sanity?
Is the GOP distancing itself from the far-right fringe?click here to continue reading
// December 04, 2012 by JessMag
On Tuesday morning, the New York Post ran a photo on its cover that showed a man just about to be struck by an oncoming subway car. The man had been pushed into the subway tracks by another person waiting on the platform, and was killed moments after the photo was snapped by a freelance photographer.
The New York Post has taken a lot of flak over the photograph. The Huffington Post ran a gallery of tweets that questioned why the photographer didn't do more to help the man. (The photographer says he was trying to get the attention of the subway driver with his flash.) Adweek put together a variety of Twitter reactions that ranged from decrying the use of the photo on the cover as "horrific" to calling it basically par for the course for the notably controversial publication.
So there's a question of whether the New York Post should have run the photo as their cover, but there's a bigger question that needs to be asked: what does it say about the state of journalism and general culture in America that this kind of photograph sells newspapers?
What are the greater implications of the New York Post cover story?
// December 03, 2012 by JessMag
During half time of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" broadcaster, Bob Costas used the airtime as a bully pulpit to address Saturday's violent events involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, and how it should be a wakeup call about the pervasive nature of guns in America. Costas brought up the murder-suicide and pleaded for listeners to be aware of the role America's gun culture played in the tragedy. He quoted a column by Jason Whitlock that criticized the NFL and the public for being tone-deaf about gun violence.
CNN posted the full transcript of Costas' comments:
Well, you know that it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: Something like this really puts it all in perspective.
Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.
You want some actual perspective on this? Well, a bit of it comes from a Kansas City based-writer, Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree but who today said it so well today that we may as well as quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.
‘Our current gun culture,' Whitlock wrote, '... ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenaged boys bloody and dead. ...
'Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.'
In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connections to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
The public reaction was swift and merciless. Athletes, sports journalists and right-wing pundits decried his remarks. Lou Dobbs tweeted that Costas and Whitlock want to rid the country of the Second Amendment, and an article on Breitbart.com claims that Costas was "exploiting" the murder-suicide as a ploy to take away our guns. Piers Morgan tweeted that Costas was "exactly right" in his remarks, and Current's own Ben Mankiewicz tweeted that Costas said more about gun control on Sunday than any presidential candidate did during the entire election.
What did you think of Bob Costas' remarks about gun culture in America?click here to continue reading
// November 30, 2012 by JessMag
On Thursday, the United Nations delegates met to vote on whether or not to grant Palestine statehood. By a final vote of 138 to nine, Palestine was approved to go from an "entity" to a "non-member state." Though those two titles sound like the same thing, there's actually a pretty significant difference. Basically, it puts Palestine on the path to becoming a full recognized member of the UN, and now Palestinians can join UN agencies. Monaco, Austria, Vietnam, Finland, Italy, Japan and a host of other countries were once non-member states with the UN (all went on to be upgraded to full members). The Vatican and the Cook Islands are currently non-member states.
The United States of America was one of the nine countries who voted against Palestinian statehood.
What do you think of the UN's decision to grant Palestine statehood?click here to continue reading
// November 29, 2012 by JessMag
In New York City, hundreds of fast-food employees went on strike Thursday morning to protest low wages and poor treatment. Forty full-time union organizers have been dispatched to New York to help fast food workers create a union.
Justin Westin, the organizing director of New York Communities for Change, explained the epidemic of poverty among fast-food workers to The New York Times:
“The fast-food industry employs tens of thousands of workers in New York and pays them poverty wages,” Mr. Westin said. “A lot of them can’t afford to get by. A lot have to rely on public assistance, and taxpayers are often footing the bill because these companies are not paying a living wage.” The minimum wage in New York State is $7.25 an hour.
But a sociology professor Ruth Milkman pointed out that a big issue for fast-food workers in particular is employee turnover: because of low wages and the lack of benefits, workers move from job to job relatively quickly, and “by the time you get around to organizing folks, they’re not on the job anymore,” Milkman said.
However, several McDonald's employees cited in the article said they've been working at McDonald's for as long as eight years without their pay going beyond around $8 or $9 an hour.
Is it time for food service workers to unionize?
// November 28, 2012 by JessMag
Since the late '90s, auto makers and clean energy fans have hailed the impending rise of the electric car. But in America, electric car sales make up only 0.3 percent of total automobile sales. Some argue that, since we get so much energy from coal, it's not much cleaner than gas -- both are fossil fuels, so ultimately what's the difference between an electric car and a gas-powered on? Others prefer gas/electric hybrids like the Prius, and some are still waiting for a car that runs on solar power or a similar green energy. Should automakers focus on increasing electric car sales, or should they seek other alternatives to traditional gas-fueled vehicles? Will consumers eventually embrace the electric car, or will you be able to fly to work in a spaceship before that happens?
What is the future of the electric car?click here to continue reading
// November 27, 2012 by JessMag
Ever since Susan Rice was announced as the candidate for Secretary of State, Republicans and the right-wing media have been criticizing how she handled Benghazi. This morning, John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham had a closed meeting with Rice, which McCain said only left him "more concerned" about her appointment.
Do you think Republicans will be able to block Susan Rice's appointment? Why or why not?click here to continue reading
// November 26, 2012 by JessMag
Welcome back! Now that the Thanksgiving weekend is over, people are gearing up for another major travel event: the winter holidays. Making the sojourn to your hometown to celebrate with family is a time-honored tradition - it's even got a song.
Unfortunately, all the extra cars on the roadway make driving more dangerous than usual. Just this past weekend, traffic fatalities were reported in Missouri, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. As drivers contend with road congestion, travel stress, and trying to figure out which exit they're looking for, accidents become a lot more likely.
Do you have any tips for safer travel during the holidays? Should the government be held accountable for keeping drivers safe on the road?
What can be done to make holiday travel safer?
// November 21, 2012 by JessMag
Here's a joke we've seen floating around the Internet: "Only in America do we trample each other for deals exactly one day after giving thanks for what we already have."
For years now, retailers have been offering ultra-deals on Black Friday. The name "Black Friday" came about after companies realized the day after Thanksgiving was the biggest shopping day of the year, and that those sales often put their budgets in the black. Now, department stores like Macy's and big box retailers like Wal-Mart are competing to offer the earliest shopping and the lowest prices. Many people have decried the fact that these employers are stealing Thanksgiving from their employees -- but most of them will still be there bright and early to take advantage of the sales.
What do you think of the Black Friday phenonmenon?click here to continue reading