opinions » oped

Time to legalize

By Charles Kong | April 12, 2009, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Last month, California legislator Tom Ammiano introduced the nation's first bill that would legalize, regulate and tax the commercial use of marijuana in California. Not only will the revenue generated help California's crumbling economy, the regulation of marijuana may also lead the nation one step closer to ending the war on drugs by eliminating the underground industry.

Throw them out

By Sophia Deng | April 2, 2009, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Pain and stress are etched on students' faces as they lug heavy stacks of books, ranging from English literature to chemistry to art history, around school. It's nearly May, and although April showers will bring May flowers, they also carry something more ominous to high school students around the nation - AP tests.

Social network or social experiment?

By David Tao | March 22, 2009, midnight | In Op/Ed »

On Feb. 4, Facebook, the world's largest social networking site, made a subtle change to its Terms of Service. Previously, Facebook users granted the corporation a license to use content they posted "on or in connection with" the network. The new terms, however, eliminated language stating that the license would automatically expire once a user deleted their account. Anything a user has ever uploaded onto the site could be archived and reused even if a user quits Facebook.

Taxation without representation

By Lauren Kestner | March 18, 2009, midnight | In Op/Ed »

In 1998, Congress appended a series of partisan and seemingly arbitrary "riders," additional provisions that had little connection to the subject matter of a bill, to the Fiscal Year 1999 budget designed by the D.C. Council. Some of the more outlandish restrictions included provisions preventing unmarried couples from adopting children and banning the use of D.C. funds for needle exchange programs. But the most egregious "riders" were those provisions that prohibited the D.C. local government's campaign for more equitable representation in Congress.

The benevolent bag tax

By Charles Kong | March 1, 2009, 11:50 p.m. | In Op/Ed »

Last Tuesday, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells introduced a proposal that, if passed, would charge shoppers five cents for each plastic and paper bag they use from grocery stores, convenience stores and other businesses in D.C. The bill, called the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009, aims to raise money to clean and restore the Anacostia River and dissuade the use of new bags.

Pro/Con: Dropping the GT label

By Sophia Deng, Julia Wynn | Feb. 17, 2009, 10:50 p.m. | In Op/Ed »

In the 1970s, amid parachute pants and anti-war demonstrations, "Gifted and Talented" (GT) labeling had just been introduced to elementary schools in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) as a tentative and undeveloped idea. Three decades later, 40 percent of MCPS second graders are labeled GT and receive accelerated instruction, according to the Washington Post.

A flawed system

By Lauren Kestner | Jan. 11, 2009, midnight | In Op/Ed »

In March of 1985, Kirk Bloodsworth was sentenced to death in Baltimore County for the brutal rape and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton. He was granted a new trial through the Maryland Court of Appeals due to exculpatory evidence withheld by the prosecution, but his sentence was only reduced to two life terms without parole. Eight years later, with the advent of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) DNA testing, Bloodsworth was acquitted and released from prison on June 28, 2003. Bloodsworth's eight-year incarceration and near-execution for a crime that he did not commit exemplifies a flawed capital punishment system in Maryland.

Rising costs, limited access

By Charles Kong | Jan. 5, 2009, midnight | In Op/Ed »

For most upperclassmen, winter break is about scheduling fun around college applications. But even once those acceptance letters start rolling in, the stress of payment is only beginning. In a time when the economy has officially entered into a recession, when state and local budgets are in serious deficit, when jobs are being lost by the thousands, when families are losing their homes to foreclosure and when a federal bailout plan has yet to demonstrate its success, the rising costs for college have never been more overwhelming.

A step towards security

By Deepa Chellappa | Dec. 27, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Last June, a waiter at the Red Robin restaurant in Lakeforest Mall was stabbed to death by an 18-year-old man who, six weeks earlier, had been caught by police with marijuana at an elementary school. The following August, a Silver Spring man died after allegedly being attacked with a metal bat by his roommate. In October, an elderly Bethesda woman was burned alive in her house. And just last month, a 14-year-old Blazer, Tai Lam, was shot and killed on a county bus.

Legal but unethical

By Charles Kong | Dec. 3, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Imagine that a college student is given the chance to gossip about anything he or she wants, uncensored with the guarantee of anonymity. Now imagine that everyone from 500 different colleges is given the same chance, and the result is JuicyCampus.com. Free to use, JuicyCampus is an anonymous online forum that encourages people to gossip about campus-related or other topics of their own choosing. Popular tags this week include "girls," "hot," "sex," "gay" and "frat." Blog entries revolve around topics that are derogatory, profane, obscene and racist. Threads on campus hook-ups, freshman sluts and overweight students are all the rage.

SmartBikes: a smart choice

By Jeremy Gradwohl | Nov. 29, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

In Barcelona, they call it "Bicing." In Paris, it's "Velib." The wave of public bicycle sharing programs that has swept through Europe has finally arrived in the U.S., with a successful system implemented in Washington, D.C. as of August. Now, Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin is proposing a similar pilot program for Montgomery County. The program is vital to the citizens in their efforts to conserve the environment, save money and reduce traffic.

The searching sham

By Lucas Alvarado-Farrar | Nov. 20, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

In a twisted turn of fate, the checkpoint horrors of the airport meet the reality of everyday commuting. It sounds like a bad movie, but it's coming to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area with no chance of going straight to DVD.

Maryland laws are a go

By Charles Kong | Nov. 5, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

In an attempt to improve teenage driving safety once again, the Maryland General Assembly has passed three laws that took effect in October. These laws increase the length of validity of a learner's permit to two years, require every student driver to have a learner's permit when driving on Maryland roads and allow parents or guardians to be notified when their underage driver receives any moving violation.

Slots referendum won't pay out

By David Tao | Oct. 30, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

On Nov. 4, voters nationwide will gather at the polls to elect the next President of the United States. Whomever the voters choose will have a massive economic crisis to settle. Banks and mortgage companies are failing left and right, sending real estate prices tumbling. Revenue generated by property taxes has decreased as well, leaving public schools, which derive their financial support from property taxes, in a fiscal quandary. Maryland as a whole is suffering from this crisis as well, as the State Legislature's fiscal advisers are predicting an over-$1 billion budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year.

Four-day school weeks leave students stuck in traffic

By David Tao | Oct. 6, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

School systems across the country are taking a financial beating this year. Energy costs are skyrocketing. Diminishing property values have significantly reduced the amount of funding available to public schools, which draw most of their funding from property taxes. Amidst this turbulent economic atmosphere, schools are frantically searching for new ways to save money. Instead of laying off staff or cutting back on academic programs, a growing number of schools are considering a four-day school week.

The Promethean curse

By Lucas Alvarado-Farrar | Sept. 28, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Blamed for bringing evils, pains and diseases to mankind; heralded as the bringer of fire; and defamed as a swindler, thief and trickster - the immortal Prometheus lived a life condemned to eternal pain and retribution for his thievery and deception. He was a scammer draped in a hero's cloak much like the boards that bear his name.

Earlier is safer

By Charles Kong | Sept. 28, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Although controversy over the legal drinking age began 80 years ago during the Prohibition movement, the debate has heated up once again. Two weeks ago, presidents from over 100 colleges prepared a proposal calling for lawmakers to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. Maryland universities that signed the statement include Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, College Park, Towson University and the College of Notre Dame.

Abstain from abstinence-only education

By Julia Wynn | Sept. 23, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

When Republican presidential candidate John McCain finalized his pick for vice president, Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) began to endure the usual ruthless media probing associated with being a top executive figure. As a result, the media has nitpicked and scrutinized the pregnancy of her 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol. They've got all the irrelevant details covered - her boy toy, his background, their hobbies, their future plans - except the most relevant piece: her mother's support for abstinence-only education, as publicized during her 2006 campaign for governor. Bristol is living proof that this type of sex education is inadequate.

Time to change colors for Bush's EPA

By Katie Sint | Aug. 2, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

The Bush administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have recently decided to postpone regulating greenhouse gas emissions until January 20, 2009, or more specifically, until the current President leaves the office. Rather than addressing the growing threats posed by global warming, the EPA, under the Bush administration, is instead choosing to seek out months more of public commentary before making changes.

Don't blind the NSA

By Lauren Kestner | July 29, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

President Bush recently signed a bill granting immunity to telecommunication providers that complied with National Security Agency (NSA) edicts to turn over American client records. Approved by the Senate last Wednesday with a decisive 69 - 28 vote, the law will broaden the scope of U.S. counter-terrorist intelligence measures while increasing congressional oversight. The new legislation arose from concerns that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 was ineffective at checking government power, a fear that was confirmed when a 2005 New York Times article revealed the existence of an invasive government-run domestic wiretapping program. Although many liberals have reproached the bill as a heinous violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights, the law will better equip U.S. intelligence agencies to anticipate and eliminate terrorist threats - and does much to ensure that civil liberties are not compromised in the process.

Modified bus policy makes no cents

By Sonalee Rau | July 18, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

For Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students, a new bus policy proposal means it may be time to get out the old walking shoes. Current MCPS bus policy states that high school students who live within two miles of their schools must find alternate transportation, as must middle school students who live within one and a half miles of their schools and elementary school students who live within one mile of their schools.

SAT changes: A wolf in sheep's clothing

By David Tao | July 10, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

The College Board – makers of the SAT Reasoning Test required for entrance by colleges across the nation – announced a policy change in June. Starting with the class of 2010, students can now choose to only show certain test scores to schools, with the ability to hide attempts that resulted in low grades. Colleges now won't know whether a score was earned in one try or six. Before the cheering begins, however, look at the other side of the coin. Although this change is a stress reliever for many, its repercussions, as well as the College Board's motives, are far more sinister.

Credits make all the difference

By Emily Hsiao | June 17, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

One of the 17.5 mandatory course credits required for graduation, the technology education credit, used to be easy to earn, with a choice of 17 different technology education classes at Blair. Thanks to a new Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) technology education program, students are now faced with limited course choices, and classes that currently offer the credit and valuable technological skills are now fated to disinterest and decreased student enrollment.

Duty to the people

By Alisa Lu | June 10, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

Representative Al Wynn's 15-year career in the House of Representatives has been marked by a series of ups and downs. After winning the Democratic primary by a little more than three percentage points over challenger Donna Edwards two years ago, Wynn lost to her by more than 20 percent in this year's Feb. 12 Democratic primary. Instead of gracefully serving out the remainder of his term, Wynn sent shockwaves throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. by announcing in March that he would resign, effective last weekend.

Five-year-old criminals

By Ya Zhou | June 7, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

While students and staff have every right to be protected from sexual harassment, it crosses boundaries when kindergartners who cannot tie their shoelaces have the permanent label of "sexual harasser" on their record. To consider any unwanted advance as sexual harassment will not solve anything. Instead of catching the real culprits and finding the true motivations for student behavior, sexual harassment policies in schools condemn everyone.

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