Some Terrific Bloggers

As a blogger, I do love to check out what other people are talking about out there. With the election starting today (ah!), it is important to keep in mind how many political issues there are that have been critical to this whole process. Here are my top three recommendations for some great blogs. Check them out!

http://commonsarcasm.wordpress.com/

Common sarcasm is the kind of blog that will make laugh so hard you will pee in your pants but also make you stand back and reread in astonishment,. This blogger present issues in such interesting ways that it leaves you be-founded and surprised that people actually says some of these things. This blog focuses on marriage equality in our nation- a topic that didn’t get much press in the election. Marriage equality is a morally weighted subject and Common Sarcasm is able to present on the most un-bias level possible. And that should be applauded. Plus the SNL video’s posted from time to time make me love this blog even more.

http://2012bcbettercoverage.wordpress.com/

B.C.: Better Coverage covers everything relating to health care in relation to women and after reading it for the past few weeks I have learned so much about our nations health policy. Smartsofawomen doesn’t just talk about women and birth control but extends her posts to Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act thus making it relavant to everyone. This blog is always very straight-forward and lays down the facts, letting you decide on your opinion of the issue. My views on healthcare have definitely been influenced by BC. Maybe yours will too.

http://tyeates.wordpress.com/

Save the Energy is a blog that focuses on energy consumption in our nation. Unlike the other two, this a much less socially centered topic and much more scientific one. I started reading this blog with just about zero knowledge of green energy but after a few weeks that changed. Tyeates presents the information in a cohesive and understandable way- the production of energy has quite a few facets to it and I think all of them have been covered in an understandable nature. Her sources are always accredited sites so I know her information is legitimate. Also, anytime I have had a question about a post, Save the Energy explains it to the fullest but also goes above and beyond by providing additional links for further reading. If you don’t know much about the energy crisis or would just like to read more about it, I suggest looking at this blog .

The Merida Initiative

The most recent form of legislation focusing on our relations with Mexico is the Merida Initiative that passed back in June 10, 2008. Also known as Plan Mexico, this bill focused on assisting Mexico and Central America with anti-drug programs. It specifically detailed four objectives:

1. Disrupt Organized Criminal Groups

2. Strengthen Institutions

3. Build a 21st Century Border

4. Build a Strong and Resilient Communities

These objectives were to carried out by providing equipment and training in counternarcotic and counter trafficking, tightening airport security, boosting operational technology, increasing and improving public law enforcement and security. The budget for these new programs was authorized at $1.11 billion over a 3-year period. But it actually ended up costing about 1.5 billion for just 2008 to 2010.

While the bull has expired, Obama and the State Department continue to aid Mexico in order to combat drug trafficking. Politician realized it is important to continue helping Mexico as a way to secure our nation. Hilary Clinton, our Secretary of State if you didn’t know, was quoted by the U.S. Department of State a few years ago saying

“And the United States remains committed to helping the Mexican Government go after the cartels and organized crime and the corruption they generate…. Our goal is … to provide support and help to enable our Mexican friends and partners to be as successful as they are seeking to be. And we will continue, through the Merida Initiative, to provide significant support.”

There was some success against organized crime for both Mexico and the United States. In Mexico, key drug trafficking organization leaders like Arturo Beltran Leyva and Eduardo Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental (damn that’s a long name) were removed. In addition, the government was able to seizure 92 tons of cocaine, 6,5000 tons of marijuana, 949 kilos of heroin, 30,752 small arms, and 38,926 lard caliber arms. As for the US, drug cartels that had a foot hole here were arrested and dismantled.

The Merida Initiative had some success in fighting the war against drugs. Looking forward, I think we should institute a similar policy with the hopes of further the collective fight with Mexico in reducing the drug trafficking across borders and within each country. What do you think?

President George W. Bush of the US and President Felipe Calderon shake hands

A Little Thing Called Compromise

I have been following the War on Drugs in the US for a few weeks now and I think I have reached the point where I am qualified enough to theorize how to end the opposition on the issues at hand. When it comes to illegal domestic abuse, both Obama and Romney recognize the need to stop it. How they go about that is a little different- Obama is more about military action along the borders while Romney is all about education programs. To be honest, I think a combination of the two should be implemented. Both target different problems and as a whole would touch on more issues collectively than as separates. The difficult topic to come to a conclusion about it legalization of marijuana. And to be honest here, I have no idea how both sides could come to a middle ground. I think it is important to recognize to how this issue has become so contentious. Any time drugs are controlled and monitored in our nation, it brings up personal rights and government. Just look at prohibition and how much a failure it was to make alcohol illegal. Now, I am not saying the best solution here is to make weed legal, I am just saying whatever the decision ends up being there will always be supporters and protestors. But isn’t that life?

Teenagers and Drugs

This week, I decided I am going to continue to focus on domestic use of legal and illegal drugs. For my last post, I detailed the failure of drug prevention programs like D.A.R.E. (don’t know what that is? Go read my post!) and while I could go into more depth about other programs what I really want to focus on is the cold hard facts of teen drug use and why it is so necessary to update your drug education programs.

Since the dawn of time, teenagers have been given this reputation of being wild, and crazy for drugs. And when I say drugs, I mean everything from that sip of beer to that pill of ecstasy. While for some that is true, you have to realize it doesn’t hold for all. Weed and alcohol are the biggest culprits of teen drug abuse. The problem is starting use of the these drugs so early leads to problems later in life. Your Adolescenta book published by Harper Collins says “An estimated 20 million adults in the United States abuse alcohol. More than half of these alcoholics started drinking heavily when they were teenagers.” When is come to marijuana, research shows it has become a gateway drug for heavier substances. The 2010 Monitoring the Future survey conducted by US Department of Health and Human Services, correlated the increase in daily teen marijuana use with the jump in illicit drugs rates in eight graders. The National Institute of Drug Abuse’s director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. said something really interesting about the results of the survey: “not only does marijuana affect learning, judgment, and motor skills, but research tells us that about 1 in 6 people who start using it as adolescents become addicted.” A person who uses weed is more likely to be exposed to other drugs through friends or dealers.

I’ll end with something I stumbled upon while researching. DoSomething- a new national campaign that promotes US teen health and social change- released a list of the top 11 shocking facts about Teens and Drug Use. Here are just a few:

1. Alcohol kills 6.5 more youth than any other illicit drug combined

3. More than 60% of teens said drug were sold, kept, or used at their school.

4. Crystal meth has become the most dangerous drug problem of small town America. Kids between 12 and 14 that live in smaller towns are 104% more likely to use meth than those who live in larger cities

5. Youth who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink alcohol.

7. While rates of illicit drug use are declining, the rate of prescription drug use remains high. 15.4% of HS seniors reported non-medical use of at least one prescription medication within the past year.

10. By the 8th grade, 52% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 41% have smoked cigarettes, and 20% have used marijuana.

Did any of those facts surprise you?

There’s No “Hope” in “Dope” Kids

 

I don’t know about you, but growing up I had a decent amount of exposure to drug education. I remember being a little kid in elementary school and having a police officer come and tell us about all the things we shouldn’t do. Yeah right, like that stopped some people later in life. The program was called D.A.R.E, maybe you have heard of it, but it stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It was founded back in 1983 in Los Angles and educates about three-fourths of out nation’s kids on drugs, gangs, and violence. Sounds like a great program, right? Well, according to an article published by the American Public Health Association, DARE’s short term effects of reducing or preventing drug abuse is minimal. Another medical journal elaborates, claiming that the program had limited effect on psychological variables- aka self-esteem- and no effect on social variables- aka peer pressure. So basically, its intentions don’t match its results.

It is failed programs like D.A.R.E. among others that have contributed to America’s high drug use. Going forward, Romney is all about a plan for domestic education because he feels that is the best way to curb drug rates. I think that is a very reasonable thought, but the way we are informing kids now about drugs just isn’t working. If we are going to stop the high levels of abuse, then our education system needs to be reevaluated. Taking a personal look at your life. Did being told not to do something ever stop you from doing it? It is like placing a kid in a museum and saying “Don’t touch anything!”- let’s get real, it is just not going to happen. So keeping that in mind, I think the next president should try to adopt a policy that reforms drug education programs and limits the amount of drugs getting into this country. That might be the only way to end the war on drugs.

Sometimes Politicians Lie- gasp!

I want to discuss a topic that I haven’t gotten a chance to touch upon yet- the intermingling relation between illegal migration and smuggling drugs. I had a question about the two on a post a week or two ago and I think it is an important aspect relating to the war on drugs. Plus, immigration is an often debated topic in the election.

The hottest spot of illegal migration and drug trafficking is the Mexican border. Now when I say illegal migration, I encompass illegal immigration, human trafficking and human smuggling. Immigration, in my personal sense, is when people sneaking over the border  purposefully thus entering this country without proper documentation. This is very different than human smuggling and human trafficking- both which describe hostile situations of forced movement. Criminal groups- like drug cartels- are main contributors to human smuggling which is a victimization of human rights according to United Nation University article from 2003.  As detailed from the “let’s analyze!” post, the Tijuana Cartel Federation is located on the northwestern tip of Mexico and dominates the southern California border. There are others that overlap with the US border and those federations have a lot of control over those sections of the US. The New York Times actually posted a really cool interactive image if you want to check it out.

The problem with illegal migration and smuggling drug’s is that is difficult to analyze the two. Most of the time political claims get in the way of the truth. Yes, we have statistics on drug use in America and yes, we have data on the percentage of illegal immigrants in our country right now. But relating the two together is pretty difficult and assumptions can lead to racial accusations. For example, take Jan Brewer who is the Governor of Arizona. She made the claim back in 2010, as reported by the Huffington Post

“I believe today, under the circumstances that we’re facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in…There’s strong information to us that they come as illegal people wanting to come to work. Then they are accosted and they become subjects of the drug cartel”

Most critics accused her of exaggerating her information and being racist. More importantly,  Senator Jesus Ramon Valdes of the Mexican northern border affairs commission called Brewer’s comments racist and irresponsible. She had no research backing this claim up which discredits her as a person and a political figure. The Democratic nominee for governor of Arizona, Attorney General Terry Goddard, said Brewer “does not understand the difference between illegal immigration and the organized criminals who are members of the violent drug cartels who pose a very a real danger.” Of course he would slam Brewer for making false accusations because it makes him look better. Taking this into account, think of the statements political figures make and their validity. I know in last night debate between Romney and Obama, both were defending arguments the other had made against them by expelling their factual weight.

Immigration and drug smuggling are interrelated but it is hard to say how much of the two influence each other. Sometimes political statements cloud the truth from the American public.