Archives for the Month of April 2009 on Through the Magnifying Glass

CNN a bit bias at the Chicago Tea Party

UMass Amherst Student Government messing with press censorship

This is news from FIRE - Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on the actions of the UMass Amherst Student Government regarding the stealing and censorship of a conversative student newspaper.

If these actions are true, the student government at UMass Amherst ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Apparently, it all started with the latest edition of The Minuteman, a conservative student newspaper. The edition criticized the Student Bridges organization, which is recognized and funded by the Student Government Association via the mandatory student activity fee, on their budget and their funding practices.

The Student Bridges claims to be a college prep pathway and tutoring program for low-income and minority children. It has been in operation since 2006, but commands a large budget amounting to $172,000. The Minuteman did an analysis of financial expenditure logs obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and found questionable items and alleges that Student Bridges is not providing satisfactory evidence to justify their large budget. It also questioned the leadership of the organization Director, Vanessa Snow.

As a sign of Student Bridges hiding something, the Student Bridges spokesman and SGA Senator Ben Thompson would not discuss the article unless there was "private legal counsel" present.

Obviously, the latest edition would be controversial. As you can see at the video below, you can see Vanessa Snow snatching the stack of Minuteman papers from the student's hands.

As if the theft was not enough, the UMass Amherst Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution demanding that The Silent Majority, the student organization that publishes The Minuteman, publicly apologize to Vanessa Snow for its criticism of her, or else face loss of recognition by the SGA, which would shut down both the organization and the paper.

But what happened next shows that the reputation of this SGA is tainted and their trust questionable.

Student senator Derek Khanna tried to place a resolution on the SGA agenda that would have rescinded the SGA's unconstitutional decree of press censorship. SGA Senate Speaker Shaun Robinson not only refused to hear Khanna's resolution but reportedly threw it on the floor, soon calling the police to eject Khanna from the SGA meeting after Khanna insisted that he be heard. This occurred despite the fact that many Senators wanted to debate the resolution.

Read his account of what happened

Take a look at his proposed resolution

It is clear that there are potential conflicts of interest in the SGA and Student Bridges. The Director, Vanessa Snow, is also a member of the SGA. Did she vote on the passed resolution? Was it proper? What is the relationship between the current leadership of SGA and the Student Bridges group?

These things must be publicly released to the UMass Amherst student body. They must know if the actions of the SGA represent the interests of the UMass student body, and whether Student Bridges has improper influence on the SGA leadership.

Britain's Got Talent - Susan Boyle surprise!

Just like Paul Potts during the first season of Britain's Got Talent, Susan Boyle may be the surprise of this year's competition.

Link

UNC Protest Disrupts Tancredo Speech on Illegal Immigration

I wonder if a student can reasonably argue that favoring laws against illegal immigration is equal to racism. If we are protesting against jobs being sent overseas then why are we not protesting against jobs being taken by persons who are not legal in this country?

A UNC student club, Youth for Western Civilization, brought in former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo to speak on opposing in-state tuition benefits to unauthorized immigrants.

It was a bit disconcerting to note the purpose of the club was to be against mass immigration, multiculturalism, and affirmative action. I believe that being diverse and open to various cultures and ethnic groups helps a person's well-being. But still, the topic of the speech deserves debate.

Now let us look at the UNC tuition figures (2006-07). If you are a state resident, full-time tuition is $3,455. If you are out-of-state, you have to pay $18,103.

Would it be possible for North Carolina taxpayers to be upset if illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the in-state tuition rate? It's likely.

I would be upset by that. You could relate that with a non-student being able to buy those expensive office software at an academic discount, or an out-of-town resident buying a resident parking pass. It's called cheating the system.

Anyway, Tom Tancredo could not finish his speech. First, you had two women who stretched a 12-foot banner across the front of the classroom that read, "No dialogue with hate." Both were escorted out of the crowded classroom. Of course you also had 30 protestors yelling in the hallway right outside of it. Then a group of protestors who gathered outside of Bingham Hall were yelling. One protestor pounded on a window of the classroom until the glass shattered, prompting Tancredo to end his speech and leave the room with campus police.

About 200 protesters reconvened outside the building. “We shut him down; no racists in our town,” they shouted. “Yes, racists, we will fight, we know where you sleep at night!”

Chancellor Holden Thorp

“We're very sorry that former Congressman Tancredo wasn't able to speak. We pride ourselves on being a place where all points of view can be expressed and heard, so I'm disappointed that didn't happen tonight. I think our Public Safety officers appropriately handled a difficult situation.”

Lizette Lopez, Junior, Vice-President of Carolina Hispanic Association

“We are the children of immigrants, and this concerns us. So we would at least like to hear what he has to say if you want to hear what we have to say.”

"We were more interested in an intellectual conversation instead of a shouting match,” she said. “Ironically, the people that are trying to get our voices heard silenced us.”

UNC graduate student, Tyler Oakley, who organized the protest:

“He was not able to practice his hate speech. You have to respect the right of people to assemble and collectively speak.”

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In the academic environment, we are supposed to debate and argue opposing viewpoints. Again, we have seen how one side of a controversial issue decides that any one in opposition are cowards, crazy, racist, or stupid.

What if a speaker was brought onto campus advocating that taxpayer funds should go to help illegal immigrants? Would there be an uproar over that? Would we see the same people protesting? Or not? A double-standard? What if a speaker believing that the 12 million illegals that are in this country should be given a fast-track to US citizenship? Would that cause a protest?

For those individuals displaying their immaturity in oppressing viewpoints that do not agree with them, they should be ashamed. They are, in fact, "intellectually bankrupt." They refuse to listen to any reasonable arguments and their response would be to shout down and stop them by any means necessary. That's their only way. A pity.

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ABC News - WTVD-TV Local Station

NBC17

WRAL.com

Americans for Legal Immigration

Bank of America boosting credit card rates

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Bank of America is increasing its credit card rates on 4 million of its customers who carry a balance beginning in June.

A BofA spokesperson stated that fewer than 10 percent of its customers who are "underpriced relative to market conditions" will see these changes.

The customers chosen for this rate hike are ones who both carry a balance and have low APRs—averaging 8.5 percent currently. Their rates will now rise into the low-to-mid teens.

That is a FALSE STATEMENT!

I am currently at 14.99% and I received a notice from BofA that my APR's (purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers) are going up to 28.49% after my May statement!!!

Of course, they also decided to knock off a couple hundred dollars off my credit line without telling me last week. It seems that their plan was to reduce my credit line bit by bit as I pay it off. The downside is not informing me in advance, I have to find out through my online account.

So I will be calling them to opt-out from this rate increase. Then pay off the total balance, and just leave it at zero. Who knows by then if BofA goes and reduce my credit line to just a few hundred just to screw me over.

Thank you Bank of Shame!

ConsumerReports.org

NYC - Tax Capital of the World

Wall Street Journal - Link

I love the part about how democratic leaders are saying that the plan is of a "shared sacrifice." Then why are the public employee unions getting a 3% pay increase??? New York State is getting $10 billion in federal stimulus, but Albany plans to increase spending by 9% and they tell us that raising taxes are the only way to close the budget deficit.

Is there a problem here that the public does not know? It has always been true that the New York legislature is the worst state government. Its elected officials cannot change anything. The backroom leaders are the ones who draw the plan and get the rest of the legislature to rubber-stamp it.

No wonder folks are leaving New York for better opportunities elsewhere. According to Census data, 1.97 million New Yorkers have left. Any reason why???

Mayor Bloomberg proposes to increase the NYC sales tax to 8.75 per cent from 8.375. It is 7 percent in New Jersey except for special Enterprise zones where it is 3.5 percent.

I wonder if they going to start having fashion police man the tunnels and bridges entering NY from NJ to grab New Yorkers trying to save money.

I do feel sorry for folks living in Chicago, Cook County. Their sales tax rate is 10.25 percent, the highest in the country.

Woman Vilified for selling pedigreed pup to Bidens

For anyone wishing to seek their "15 minutes of fame" with the Obamas and Bidens, think twice before doing so. It appears that anyone wishing to get some publicity with the President and Vice-President is risking the wrath and scorn of the opposite side. If you advocated national security, you get ridculed by the peace activists. If you are pro-choice, you get criticized by the lifers.

So in this case, if you sold a pedigreed pup to Biden's family, you are likely to incur the wrath of animal advocates, activists, and those that prefer shelter versus pedigreed.

Linda Brown sold a pedigreed pup to Biden in December. When the story got out, she faced backlash from pet lovers who thought the Bidens should have opted for a shelter over a breeder to find their new puppy.

The crazies at PETA also took the opportunity to suggest that people who buy from breeders believe that the killing of shelter animals is warranted. It even went ahead and did a "Buy One, Get One Killed" pet commercial in Delaware.

Her dog kennel got inspected repeatedly by dog wardens. She even got death threats from animal activists.

What's the deal here? How do we know Linda Brown wants shelter animals to be killed? Why should we criticized people who want to buy a pedigreed? I could suggest that PETA is in favor of throwing all pedigreed animals into the grinder.

The public should not be gullible by this. They have every right to purchase something they want. Sure, they may consider looking at a shelter animal, but they want to buy a pedigreed, that's their choice.

News Link

Campaign For Liberty Staffer Detained by TSA

From Campaign for Liberty

April 6, 2009

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Campaign for Liberty’s very own Steve Bierfeldt has become an unexpected Internet sensation -- and the latest target of over-reaching federal government agents.

You see, Steve was detained by Airport Police and TSA officials shortly after the Campaign for Liberty regional conference in St. Louis.

The officials rudely berated and harassed Steve for 30 minutes in a secluded room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Fortunately, Steve was able to record nearly all of the interrogation with his cell phone.

Steve’s alleged “crime”? Carrying $4,700 in checks and cash from Campaign for Liberty, along with various other materials from our conference.

The local and Federal agents harassed Steve. They were belligerent, cursing and using insulting language. They threatened to turn Steve over to the DEA and the FBI, all the while refusing to inform him of his legal rights or explain how cash and checks threatened airplane or airport security.

Throughout the interrogation, Steve remained polite but resolute and declined to answer the invasive questions without an adequate explanation from these federal and local agents as to why they needed to be answered. Without telling Steve what law he was accused of breaking, they continued their harassment.

Although they grew increasingly frustrated that he remained committed to exercising his rights, intervention from another officer eventually led the police to reluctantly release Steve.

Last Wednesday, Steve appeared on Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch to discuss the flagrant violation of his rights and to promote the importance of each of us defending our civil liberties.

Now, Steve’s appearance on Freedom Watch – which features several minutes of the audio tape – has gone viral.

Steve’s ordeal is a reminder to all patriots that liberty is constantly under fire, and we must remain vigilant and prepared to stand up for our rights.

In Liberty,

John Tate
President, Campaign for Liberty

Washington Times - TSA detains official from Ron Paul group

Kansas City Star - A little more cooperation could allow better focus on real threats to security and people’s rights

LewRockwell.com Blog - TSA Goons Hassle Ron Paul Supporter

Latest National Debt - passing $11.1 trillion

As of 03/31/2009

Debt Held by the Public
$6,833,543,454,712.90

Intragovernmental Holdings
$4,293,398,031,000.47

Total Public Debt Outstanding
$11,126,941,485,713.37

The Top 10 Obama Gaffes

Brought to you by the folks at Time Magazine

Link

1) His bowling score - "The Special Olympics"
2) Giving PM Gordon Brown DVD's (of course the region was 1 as opposed to 2 in Europe)
3) Nancy Reagan's seances
4) Spread the wealth - Joe the Plumber
5) My Muslim faith
6) The presidential-looking seal
7) They get bitter
8) Borrowing words
9) Likeable
10) The 1984 Spoof Ad

Hugging Banned

Local news at Milford, CT reported this weekend that parents at the East Shore Middle School received a letter from Principal Catherine Williams, which said that any touching at all on school grounds — including “hugging” and “horseplay” — could result in “parent conferences, detention, suspension and/or a request for expulsion from school.”

Students have said that they have even been prohibited from “high fiving” classmates in the halls.

NYT Link

See CNN Video

Yankees' Inaugural Season - Let in the photographers!

yankees.bmpIn just a few more weeks, I will venture into the new Yankee Stadium for Opening Day. In my previous visits, I have always brought my trusty Canon Digital camera to take photos of being in the stadium, fans being ejected, and other crazy incidents. It was especially memorable when I brought my camera for the last home game in the old stadium.

Of course, if you take a look at the Camera Policy at the new Yankee Stadium, it stated the following (link):

Cameras and video equipment
Single-frame flash photography is permitted. Tripods, extended length zoom lenses, other professional camera equipment, movie cameras and any other video or audio recording equipment are not permitted in Yankee Stadium. Guests are not permitted to transmit or aid in transmitting any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information about any games.

It is updated from the previous policy at the old stadium:

CAMERAS & VIDEO EQUIPMENT
Single-frame flash photography is allowed. All forms of video and motion-picture cameras are strictly prohibited. Guests are also forbidden to use lighting or camera support pods at the Stadium. Please note: Fans are not permitted to reproduce or rebroadcast any film of Yankees games for commercial purposes without the prior written permission of the Yankees and Major League Baseball.

But regardless, during the first pitch on Opening Game, you will definitely see thousands of camera flashes and it will be the same for this year's inaugural season, prolly lots more. Almost every electronic device is a camera. You can even record with your Blackberry device.

I really don't think the camera policy was strictly enforced. I am sure fans want to take photos in their favorite stadium. I even saw some fans bring their professional camera to get better shots. Of course, we wouldn't be reprinting these photos for commerical use or even the videos. How can you get a good video going anyway? The fan would be stuck filming from one specific view during the whole game.

Well, I do hope the security staff won't be anal for Opening Day this year. It is going to be historic! So please don't ruin it for us.