Posts tagged ‘English Language’

01/27/2012

Republican Debate: Florida (1-23-12)

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul said Gingrich would have to change his foreign policy to gain his support. He believes it is not the role of the federal government to be the policeman of the world.

AFGHAN: Romney thinks the War in Afghanistan can be ended, not by talking to the Taliban, but by beating them.

CUBA: Paul opposes a military overthrow of Cuba. We propped up Castro for 40 years, Paul said, by imposing sanctions, which gave him the ability to blame everything on the U.S. He reminded everyone he was drafted in 1962 at the height of the Cold War, but it’s not 1962 anymore and the Cold War is over. We now talk to Russia, China, and Vietnam and have trade with them, so why not Cuba? Romney thinks it is dangerous to open travel with Cuba now, but if Castro died, he would work with a new Cuban leader to move them in an open direction. Gingrich favors aggressively overthrowing the Cuban regime. He accused Obama of being infatuated with the Arab Spring, but ignoring a Cuban Spring. Santorum tried to distinguish Cuba from China, by saying the Cuban island is only 90 miles away. He would continue sanctions against Cuba. He would wait until the Castro brothers died. He believes jihadists and Iranians are excited to establish a platform 90 miles off our coast in Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua.

IRAN: Paul does not think Iran will close the Straits of Hormuz, because they need them open as much as we do. He said it is our blockade that would make Iran close the Straits. A blockade is the act of war, he said, and closing the Straits would be retaliation. Americans certainly do not want a hot war in Iran right now. He asked, what would we do if someone blockaded the Gulf of Mexico? Romney said we need opens seas and if Iran shut down the Straits of Hormuz, it would be an act of war. Gingrich said America has no appetite for war, but we didn’t have one when Pearl Harbor was bombed or the World Trade Center was destroyed either. He accused Obama of cancelling a military exercise with Israel, so as not to be provocative. Santorum said Obama does not see the threat Iran poses, not just to Israel, but the entire world. He argued they held hostages, attacked our ships and embassies, and made improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to harm our troops.

MILITARY: Romney believes we are shrinking our Navy. He again repeated the ridiculous assertion that it is now smaller than at any time since 1917. He wants to increase shipbuilding from 9 ships a year to 15. He wants a carrier in the Gulf. We need to be so strong, he said, so they could never defeat us.

SPACE: Romney thinks space exploration should be a priority for science and military development. Gingrich wants a series of space stations built. He wants to offer prizes for going into orbit.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE: Gingrich was asked: Why is it alright to court votes using Spanish TV ads, but not ok for government to serve people using it? Gingrich said there are 86 languages in Miami-Dade County, and 200 in Chicago. We need a central language to unify the country. Romney said Mass allowed teachers to teach in their native languages, and students ended up not speaking English very well. He pushed English language emersion. People must learn English, he said, to be successful in the U.S. Paul said for national business, we need one language, but states should be allowed to accommodate local needs.

IMMIGRATION: Gingrich favors allowing aliens to earn citizenship through military service. Romney favors self-deportation, which is what he thinks they will do if they do not have proper employment documents. Santorum said people are returning home now, because there are no jobs. He speculates they steal Social Security numbers to get work. Someone who came here illegally, he said, is continually breaking our laws. If you want to come to America, respect our laws, Santorum said.

JOBS: Romney again claimed to help create thousands of jobs at Staples, Bright Horizons, the Sports Authority, and Steel Dynamics. Gingrich was asked why the Bush tax cuts have not created jobs. He speculated things would have been worse.

OLYMPICS: Someone please tell Romney to stop mentioning his work on the Olympics, as if it was some great achievement. Who cares if he was in charge of the Olympics? It’s not important.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Santorum said there is constructive capitalism and destructive capitalism.

FINANCE: Santorum asked Romney and Gingrich why they supported the Wall Street bailout if they believe in capitalism. Why not let destructive capitalism work, he asked? He said financial institutions should have been allowed to go bankrupt. Why prop them up through government? Romney said the derivatives market was not being regulated. Gingrich said Dodd-Frank allowed the biggest banks to get even bigger. He said regulators are walking into banks and telling them not to lend money.

FED: To placate Ron Paul, Gingrich discussed the formation of a commission to bring back the gold standard.

AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES: Gingrich was asked if he would do away with subsidies for the sugar industry, and get rid of import quotas that protect them. He said the industry was real good at protecting themselves. Romney would eliminate subsidies and let the markets work properly.

ENERGY: Santorum was asked if off-shore oil drilling was worth it. He believes it is essential to build the Keystone Pipeline and gain oil from domestic sources. Pipelines are safer than off-shore.

ENVIRONMENT: Paul would continue federal financing to protect the Everglades. Santorum said Romney believed in global warming enough to sign a cap on CO2 emissions in Mass.

HOUSING: Paul said interest rates were kept too low for too long. He said he introduced legislation 10 years before the bubble burst to end the line of credit to Freddie and Fannie. The Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to make even more risky loans. Our policy has been to try to keep home prices up, but they should be allowed to fall. We have to liquidate the debt, Paul said. They should have gone bankrupt, and the bad debt would have been wiped off the books. As long as we keep the debt on the books, we are not going to grow. Gingrich told Republicans in July 2008 to deny Freddie Mac any money, because they needed reform. Romney accused Gingrich of failing to speak out against what Freddie Mac was doing. Santorum was asked about the 40% of homeowners in Florida whose homes are underwater and the 53% whose homes are worth less today than before the crisis. He was asked if it was too easy to own a home. He said the Democrats fought a reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He said we have to let capitalism work and allow banks to realize their losses. He would allow homeowners a tax deduction for their losses. Romney thinks Dodd-Frank makes it harder for banks to renegotiate mortgages and is killing the residential home market.

LOBBYING: Romney said Gingrich was paid 1.6 million by the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac to influence Congress. He received $25,000 per month, or $300,000 a year, for services for Freddie Mac. Gingrich said he was paid for consulting, not lobbying. Romney reminded Gingrich he first said he was paid to be a historian. Gingrich said his share for three offices was $35,000. Romney said Gingrich spent 15 years on K Street influence peddling. Romney reminded viewers 84 ethics charges were filed against Gingrich and 88% of the Republicans in the House voted to reprimand him, causing him to resign in disgrace in 1998.

HEALTH CARE: Gingrich said he always favored a stronger Medicare program and favored Medicare Part D. The government would not pay for insulin, but they would cover kidney dialysis. They would not pay for Lipitor, but would cover open heart surgery. It was a terrible way to run Medicare, he said. Santorum said Romney’s health care plan in Mass was the basis for Obamacare, and Gingrich supported the individual mandate for 20 years. Romney said his health care plan, chosen by the people in Mass, is the one the Constitution allows us to have. He then said he opposes a federal mandate.

BUDGET: Gingrich thinks he balanced four federal budgets in the 1990s. He apparently forgot that they came about because Bill Clinton was President, and a democratically controlled Senate voted, without any Republican support, to make it happen.

TAXES: Romney said he paid a lot of taxes and not a penny more than required. He wants to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for those earning less than $200,000. He wants the highest corporate income tax lowered to 25%.  Gingrich called his 15% flat tax proposal a “Romney Tax.” He wants everyone to pay the level paid by Romney. In an inconsistent way, he said he would lower capital gains taxes to zero. Romney responded saying his tax liability would have been zero in that case. Romney refused to follow his father’s example of releasing 12 years of tax returns.

LIFE SUPPORT/DEATH: Santorum was asked if government should get involved in disputes like the 2005 case between the spouse of Terri Shaivo and her parents over removing feeding tubes. Non-lawyer Santorum admitted he asked a “federal” judge to get involved, when such situations are almost always ruled upon in state courts. Non-lawyer Gingrich also argued in favor of federal court intervention, where it clearly does not belong.  Paul correctly said the decision should be made at the state level.

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06/17/2011

Puerto Rico: Choose Independence

President Obama’s recent visit to Puerto Rico serves as a reminder that a plebiscite will be held there before the end of 2012, on whether the island should: 1) become independent; 2) remain a U.S. Territory; or 3) seek statehood. Independence would affect U.S. aid; statehood would be an unwarranted U.S. expansion; and keeping the current arrangement would perpetuate an outdated neo-colonial system. Although plebiscites in 1967, 1993, and 1998, resulted in leaving things just as they are, this time, Puerto Ricans should vote for independence.

If Puerto Rico requests statehood, the U.S. Congress would have the final say, since the U.S. Constitution provides: “New states may be admitted by the Congress” (Art IV, Sec. 3). The problem is the Congress now has no appetite for new states. 45 were added before the end of the 19th Century, and only three joined in the early 20th Century: Oklahoma (1907), New Mexico (1912) and Arizona (1912). As Arizona became the 48th state, nearly 100 years ago, the continental U.S. was filled in and completed.

Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959 by a Congress of young WWII veterans, who had developed sentimental ties to the Pacific in WWII. The problem with Alaska and Hawaii is their physical disconnection from the contiguous mainland. Since it is 1,500 miles from Alaska to Seattle, Washington, and 2,400 from California to Hawaii, it would have been much better if Alaska had been sold to Canada, and Hawaii was granted independence.

The two wrongs of adding Alaska and Hawaii, do not justify a third mistake of admitting Puerto Rico, located 1,000 miles from Florida. If Puerto Rico is joined, under a theory that distance is no object, then why not add Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands? At some point, we need a physical boundary.

The other issue as to Puerto Rico is their deep-seated historical tie to the Spanish culture. Even though English is taught in schools, anyone who has ever visited San Juan is well aware the island is a Spanish-speaking commonwealth. It was ruled by Spain for 405 years, from 1493, when Columbus arrived, until 1898, when the U.S. seized control, in the Spanish-American War.

The U.S. should have immediately granted independence to the island in 1898, but Republican President McKinley kept it. Things became more complicated in 1917, when citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans, so they could serve in the U.S. Army in WWI.

It is time for the most successful island in the Caribbean to stand up as an independent state and to rid itself once and for all of their status as an American dependency. Upon independence, those born on the island would become Puerto Rican, not U.S. citizens. Those with U.S. Citizenship could keep that status. Puerto Rico and the U.S. must now finally end the colonial era dependency, reject the idea of statehood, and support total independence.

06/16/2011

Microsoft Madness: Unwanted Updates

I get up at around 6:25 a.m. every weekday and start the morning by finishing a daily blog, which I generally finish from the day before. I usually post my new work around 7:30 a.m. Today, as I was just about to complete a story, my laptop was suddenly and viciously attacked by a “Microsoft Update.” My computer shut down, without my consent, to download some unknown features, which were not requested by me.

When my computer finally came back online, all of my work in progress was gone. All of my new work from this morning had been erased. I tried to find it somewhere, anywhere, but it was hopeless. After a while, I had to give up. Not even the Coast Guard could help. My work was simply gone.

But the optimist in me just couldn’t not let go, no, not just yet. They say a body may be dead, but it is not gone, until it is stone cold. So I searched for a phone number. I needed to call someone, anyone, who might be able to help. I needed to talk to a human being. I found a Microsoft number online. After all, the dreadful loss was caused by their unsolicited invasion.

I was first connected with a person whose English was so bad, she was almost impossible to understand. After she repeated one word three times, I asked her to spell it out, until I was finally able decipher that she was trying to say the word “update.” I was very patient. Eventually, she got to a point, where she tried to push me off onto Gateway, the manufacturer of the hardware. I quickly said they didn’t make the software, nor did they invade my computer or destroy my work in progress. So, after more of this and that, she finally referred me to a tech, who spoke English.

I was referred to a woman in New Delhi, India. This one took control of my computer and searched for the lost work. She shut it down in an attempt to “restore” the previous work, but the prior file we found did not contain the draft that had been lost when the invasion of the “Microsoft Update” occurred.

So the story I had worked on was gone. I ended up writing this piece instead. I lost more than a hour from before the invasion, and another hour plus afterward, talking to the two different Microsoft representatives, neither of whom was able to retrieve my work. I spent another hour writing this replacement story.

It’s not the first time I went through this kind of ordeal, and I am sure I am not the only one who ever had this experience. I left the Indian woman with the suggestion that their engineers stop working with other young people, who already know how to operate computers, and instead listen to older people like me, dinosaurs from the Typewriter Age, so they can perhaps design a system with ordinary human beings in mind. Maybe then, there would finally be fewer computer losses, like the one I had today.

04/08/2011

Haiti Needs A Cultural Revolution

As Haiti elected a new leader, Michel Martelly, the issue now is whether he can lead the Caribbean island-nation out of poverty? With nine million people, Haiti has about the same population as a typical U.S. state, but it differs in nearly every other respect.

Haiti is a relatively isolated island-state. Unlike the 50 U.S. states, where commerce flows across borders with ease, Haiti has only one neighbor by land, the Dominican Republic, which is over a mountain range, on the east side of the island. Cuba is by sea to the west, but they are of no help to Haiti. The U.S. is of course to the north, by water, but the U.S. Coast Guard stands in the way.

With natural barriers to trade, Haiti is largely on their own. They grow coffee, bananas, corn, beans and mangoes, but the export market is competitive, and these industries can only hire so many, and pay so much. Haiti has problems developing skilled jobs via the internet, or by any other means, since 47% of the people remain illiterate. Unemployment has at times hit 50%. To make things worse, a major earthquake struck the island in 2010. So, they rely on aid, as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Why is Haiti not more prosperous, like the nearby Puerto Rico, or at least Jamaica, on another island? The answer is they have had different colonial backgrounds, economic alliances and languages.

Haiti was ruled by France for 157 years (1647-1804), which explains why they speak French-Creole. When the black slaves revolted and Haiti became independent (1804), France ignored their economy. Haiti has been on their own for the past 207 years.

Puerto Rico was governed by Spain for 405 years (1493-1898), which is why they speak Spanish. After the Spanish-American War (1898), they became a U.S. territory, raised their literacy rate to 94%, and added English as an official language. Their success is due to their linkage to the U.S. economy for the past 113 years.

Jamaica was a British colony for 307 years (1655-1962). They were a part of the British Empire and enjoyed the benefits of the Commonwealth of Nations. English was taught in their schools and literacy climbed to 88%. Since independence 49 years ago, they have used the English language to develop U.S. tourism.

Haiti needs to change their culture, so it is not so much of an orphan in the Americas. It is the only independent state in this Hemisphere that uses French-Creole as a primary tongue. The principle language in the other 34 sovereign states is English, Spanish or Portuguese. Haiti needs to be able to communicate with ease with the English-speaking U.S.A.

The new Haitian president should conduct a Cultural Revolution to make all of their children primarily fluent in English, and secondarily in Spanish. While Haiti cannot expect the kind of aid the U.S. has given to the Puerto Rican territory, and will probably not gain their standard of living any time soon, if all Haitians would primarily learn and practice English, they could do more business with the U.S., and improve their economy, at least to the level of Jamaica’s. If Haiti would increase their literacy rates and emphasize English, they would do much better with economic development in this English-Spanish speaking Hemisphere.