Australia threatens great wonder of the world for coal

Coal, as children we feared to see it on Dec. 25, but little did we know the value of the black, combustible sedimentary rock. In today’s world coal is used as a valuable trade commodity, so much so that is has driven money-hungry companies to go to great lengths to obtain it.

In this case, the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation decided to dive into one of the world’s seven wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, to expand Abbot Point into one of the world’s biggest coal terminals. On Jan. 31, Australia approved a plan to dump large amounts of mud and sediment inside the marine park’s boundaries. The dumping will be on a sand bed.

The operation requires a massive dredging operation to make way for ships entering and exiting the port. To allow the ships to pass through, the operation will dump about 106 million cubic feet of dredged mud will be dumped within the marine park under the plan.

Environmentalists in Australia will not go down quietly.

The Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland are planning a lawsuit to challenge the dumping decision in the Federal Court, but have yet to secure a court date. They are representing the North Queensland Conservation Council and are funded by Getup!, an activist group which has raised $130,000 on the issue.

The group of scientists that have worked with the Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland are concerned with at the potential for sediment to spread and cover the coral reefs causing irreversible damage. According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, fine sediment could travel up to 50 miles.

The Ports Corporation has fired backed and has said they have conducted a thorough, three-dimension modeling over two years to show sediment from the dumping would not damage the coral reef.

The chances of the environmentalist winning this case in the federal court are slim, so only time will tell how this operation will affect the 133,360 square mile ecosystem that holds hold to thousands of species of coral, fish, molluscs, jellyfish, sharks and whales.

But did the Australian government take into account what this might do to their tourist revenue? The pros may not outweigh the cons at this juncture.

Snorkeling in the world’s biggest and beautiful underwater ecosystem might be hindered by the sediment. Finding Nemo was already hard enough and just the fact that this has potential to cause irreversible damage could be a major blow to Australia’s image and revenue, but more importantly to the exotic wildlife that occupies the Great Barrier Reef.

As a society, we are looking into a future where money and tradable goods like oil and coal will dictate whether we take away some of the earth’s most natural beauties.

Is it worth it? Right now to countries and corporations it is.

Sexting a minor is legal in Texas

Every day technology is evolving and every day we have to adjust to the latest gadgets and trends. Texas was forced to adjust to the latest trend of the sexual type of conversation that takes place on cell phones known as sexting.

Last month, junior high school teacher Sean Arlis Williams, 30, was arrested for having a sexual conversation with a 13-year-old student that spanned over six days and included 688 text messages. The conversation included descriptions of sexual preferences, fantasies and dreams about one another. He was arrested on the charge of online solicitation to a minor, but later changed to the fittingly improper relationship between and educator and student.

The case against Williams was eventually dismissed. The court said the First Amendment protected Williams.

The defense used a previous case that was similar to Williams’ case. Is it ok for adults to talk dirty to minors whether it is verbal or over the web or text? Texas says ‘yes,’ but this is a perfect example of a state adjusting to technology in the wrong way.

Texas should take a look in the mirror and ask if they want to be known as the state where sexting between adults and minors is legal. Williams also received a picture from the teenager in which she is wearing a bra with no shirt. Although the 13-year-old reciprocated the 30-year-old teacher’s interest, he should still be accountable for his lewd behavior. Williams still holds his teaching credentials and has already left the district on his own.

This perverse Texas interpretation of the First Amendment allows adults to send, not only sexually explicit texts, but also sexually explicit emails to minors.

Allowing this is tolerating something that can progress into something much worse. Though Williams and his student did physical in actual sexual activities, one could only imagine where their relationship would lead to before she turned 18.

This opens up a whole new defense for teachers who have relationships with their students. It also gives them a way to have a sexual relationship with their students without having any repercussions.

Children are getting cell phones at a very young age. Any teenager will tell you that sexting only leads to one thing. And it is something a teacher should never think about doing with their students.

It is hard to find a silver lining in this sexting law, but one could only hope that the other 49 states look at Texas and see how backwards their adaptation to technology has become. Moving forward, hopefully some sensible law makers in Texas change this and prosecute these sexting teachers for what they really are, pedophiles.

As for now, the only solution to this problem is the parents. Parents should be monitoring who their child is texting, especially in Texas.

Guerrilla tweeting sparks protests around the world

A selfie, a like, a retweet.

These are three things that an avid social media user will do everyday. In countries such as Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand social media is used for things a little more radical.

In 2010 through 2011 the world watched through various social media outlets the Arab Spring. In 2014 we are witnessing different countries fight for their right to elect their own leaders and for political change and if we do not watch then we are missing out on the most important use of social media today.

Former general for the Venezuelan armed forces Angel Vivas has taken full advantage of Twitter to voice his opinion about his country and is inadvertently running a campaign on his Twitter. The 57-year-old has gained the support of many anti-government protestors. Vivas retired from the armed forces seven years ago because he refused orders from then President Hugo Chavez to live by the Cuban-inspired oath: “Fatherland, Socialism or Death.”

Vivas regularly tweets about his dismay with his country, berates the Venezuelan government for being a Cuban satrapy, and supplying Havana with billions of dollars in subsidized oil. The following that Vivas has gained has made President Nicolas ordered for his arrest on national television because Vivas had told his protestors to wire across the streets to stop the pro-government motorcycle gangs. After the order Vivas went to the rooftop of his home with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol. He told his protestors that he would never surrender. Vivas currently now has over 280,000 followers on Twitter. They currently surround his home keeping him safe from the police and the city in which Vivas lives in, Carracas, has now become a rally point in Venezuela for protestors and is where 23-year-old student protestor, Daniel Tinoco, and 25-year-old solider, Acner Lopez, were gunned down in the streets, both within the last two weeks.

In Thailand the world witnessed through the eyes of journalists the two month shutdown in Bangkok due to anti-government protests.

Many of the protestors do not have access to social media or cannot feed the information quickly through mobile phones so many journalists have given the day-to-day rundown of what has been going on in Bangkok.

Protestors have been trying to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra because they believe that she is too influenced by her brother and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted as Prime Minister in 2006 by a military coup.

Social networks are sometimes a distraction. They are tabs that we keep open in case of procrastination. We use them to stalk our exes and get useless information about people we went to high school with, but around the world we are seeing the courageous men and women use social media to expose and show the injustice that is going on in different countries.

If you find your news feed filled with selfies and trolls, take a look at who and what you are following because there are revolutions being filmed through the lenses of some 20-something-year-old’s iPhone.

Senate denies appointed lawyer for position for being a lawyer

In 2012, death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal was commuted to life imprisonment without parole. Many questioned whether Abu-Jamal’s original case in 1981 and sentence were fair. In comes Abu-Jamal’s knight in shining armor, Debo Adegible. Adegible is a lawyer best known for his work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to become the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, until the senate voted against it last month. All republicans and seven democrats voted for to turn away Adegible’s nomination, many of them citing the Abu-Jamal case for not letting him have the position.

This decision has a flawed logic behind it. In 1981 Abu-Jamal was convicted for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. During his life leading up to the 1981 shooting, Abu-Jamal was part of the Black Panthers and was the President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

Given Abu-Jamal’s record of fighting for civil liberties and black nationalism, many believe that he was not given an impartial trial.

The police failed to conduct the routine paraffin test on Abu-Jamal’s hands to determine if he had fired the gun and a critical fragment of the bullet retrieved from the officer’s body was somehow lost and therefore could not be decisively matched to Abu-Jamal’s gun. Still Abu-Jamal was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to prison by Judge Albert Sabo.

Terry Carter, a court stenographer, testified in an affidavit that she heard Sabo say “I’m going to help them fry this nigger,” in another room of his courthouse.

Another flaw, of the many to this case, was that 15 of the 35 police officers who were in charge of gathering evidence for the case were eventually arrested for tampering with evidence. Even through all of that Gov. Tom ridge still signed the death warrant in 1995.

This case was in need of a fair re-trial and Adegible stepped in and got Abu-Jamal, who the New York Times called the world’s best known death row inmate, off of death row.

Abu-Jamal remains guilty for the murder of the police officer and will spend the rest of his life in prison. It’s not like Adegible turned a guilty man innocent and let him roam the streets of Philadelphia again. He simply defended a man who he believed was tried in an unjust way in 1981.

But the senate does not see it this way. Many pointed to his representation of a “Philadelphia cop killer” on why they did not let him in. they might as well have been pointing at his occupation, lawyer, because that is what lawyers do, represent and defend people. Current Chief Justice John Roberts represented a man who was convicted of eight counts of murder and second U.S. President John Adams represented British soldiers who were involved in the Boston massacre.

This sends the wrong message to lawyers who are affiliated or who might be asked to become involved on a difficult and unpopular case. This hypocritical double standard could be seen as a race issue or a government issue, but in the end it is our issue. The senate will continue to turn away Obama-appointed nominees, whether it be in spite of the President or just because of their own stupidity. If Americans want well-qualified people to turn this country around, we must vote for them. Our senate is just as important as the one man who sits in the oval office.