Tag: BackTalk

Backtalk: Differences of opinion generate debate about coffee

Coffee important source of caffeine

by Kendall Rainer

Java, Joe, Jitter Juice.

Whatever you call it, coffee doesn’t just help you wake up and stay awake. It can have some serious health benefits that will reinforce the position of coffee drinkers and could change the minds of those who have a distaste for the brown bean water.

Coffee helps us stay up late and cram for our midterms. Coffee helps us wake up the following morning after getting little to no sleep. Coffee helps us stay awake during boring jobs or that lecture that just puts you to sleep every day. Coffee is a necessity that we all need in our lives.heart-shape-made-from-coffee-beans-wooden_38705-28

Coffee is the wonderfully amazing brown liquid that has dominated American culture. It is to America as tea is to the United Kingdom.

To some, a cup of joe just tastes good and they enjoy drinking it. To others, it’s an essential part of their morning routine.

Coffee doesn’t only give you energy, it has some serious health benefits as well. According to the American Heart Association, coffee can decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Coffee consumption has also been associated with a lower risk of mortality from heart disease and nervous system disease. It can be a source of antioxidants as well.

Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease in women. However, these benefits only apply to plain black coffee.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners can negate some of the health benefits coffee provides. So going to Starbucks and ordering yourself a Venti Iced latté isn’t going to do much for you, other than give you a boost of energy. Drinks of this caliber contain mostly milk and flavoring, and they do not actually have a significant amount of coffee.

Federal dietary guidelines say that three to five cups of coffee a day can be a part of a healthy diet, which is good news for habitual coffee drinkers. But again, this only refers to plain black coffee.

Coffee is a significant source of caffeine. In one cup, 8 fluid ounces, there are 95 milligrams of caffeine. Compare that to a 20-fluid-ounce bottle of Coca Cola, which has only 57 milligrams of caffeine, and far more sugar.

In comparison to a 16-fluid-ounce can of Monster Energy, coffee has 190 milligrams of caffeine, four calories, one gram of fat and 5 milligrams of sodium. One 16-ounce can of Monster has 160 milligrams of caffeine, 100 calories per serving (which is 200 calories per can) and 260 milligrams of sodium.

A cup of java has more caffeine and significantly less of the other “bad things” that can lead to disease and overall bad health.

Studies have shown that caffeine can sharpen your mind, improve your mood, and increase your performance during exercise. All of these things can help in daily life, whether it be just getting up in the morning and being able to be a productive member of society, or getting your daily gym crawl in.

So wake up, make a steaming hot cup of your favorite rocket fuel, sip and feel relaxed knowing that coffee is helping to prevent some serious illnesses for you down the road.

Coffee unhealthy beverage choice

by Desiree Lopez

There have been many disputes over the years about whether coffee is good for you.

After the many side effects I have witnessed, I’ve come to the conclusion that coffee is an unhealthy beverage choice.

The many negative side effects of coffee include an increase in heart rate, high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, bad oral hygiene, and addiction.

All of these effects should trigger concern, especially since they all hold a negative connotation.

One of the many concerns that strikes most people is the caffeine intake. The abundance of caffeine in coffee is mostly the reason why coffee causes so many negative side effects.

Large doses or frequent small amounts of caffeine in coffee have the possibility of increasing your heartbeat. Of course, every person is different, but a rapid heart rate is still something everybody should be aware of.

            There have been many different reasons why coffee causes high blood pressure. Some believe that caffeine blocks a certain hormone that helps keep your arteries widened, while others believe that adrenaline is released more than usual, which then causes your blood pressure to increase. People who already have high blood pressure have a higher risk of a stroke or heart attack if they consume a great amount of coffee daily.no-coffee (1)

Coffee is mostly used to help people stay awake or have energy throughout their day. However, excessive coffee consumption can also cause anxiety. When people drink coffee, the release of adrenaline is more rapid, which increases one’s energy. To most people, this sounds like a great deal. But little do they know that high doses of coffee can lead to anxiety and even nervousness. Moderate doses can even result in some side effects such as rapid breathing and an increase in stress levels.

Coffee can also cause fatigue. Once the coffee has finally left your system, your body begins to rebound, which means that the opposite of what coffee is supposed to do to you occurs. There have been a few studies done to prove the alertness that coffee causes, but participants more often complained that they felt more tired than usual after the study. This symptom can be easily avoided by drinking smaller doses of caffeine.

Along with all of these other side effects, bad oral hygiene is an underestimated one. Coffee can lead to bad teeth and stinky breath. It can cause bacteria to form in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay. Coffee also can stick to your tongue, which then causes bad breath.

The most concerning effect of coffee is addiction. It’s not as intense as a drug addiction, but it does lead to psychological and physical dependency. Some may call it a habit, while others call it an addiction. After drinking coffee regularly, one may feel like they need it at all times, which leads them to being very dependent on the caffeinated drink. This dependency can later cause the aforementioned side effects.

The caffeine in coffee is mostly the reason why coffee is so unhealthy. The amount of sugar someone puts into their drink is another reason why, but the amount of sugar used in the drink is different for everybody.

To stay away from highly caffeinated coffee, some people prefer to drink decaf. Decaf coffee is an alternative for those who prefer a lower caffeine intake. Although decaf removes more than 90 percent of caffeine, it still leaves behind a small amount of caffeine. Therefore, drinking decaf coffee frequently can still cause side effects.

There are a few beverages that can be used to substitute for coffee, such as chicory coffee, which is a caffeine-free coffee, tea, milk, lemon water, and apple cider vinegar.

As the daughter of someone who has a lot of health concerns, I know first hand how coffee can negatively affect someone’s health. Coffee would increase my father’s blood pressure, and it would do the same to his blood sugar. This caused him to take higher doses of his medication, which then lead to an increase in anxiety and other side effects. My father used to enjoy drinking his daily cups of coffee, but, unfortunately, he had to cut coffee out from his life to improve his health and to avoid any further issues.

Everybody reacts to coffee differently. I advise that people control their coffee intake to stay clear of any complications.

Backtalk: Classic jams, modern tunes clash

Vintage music has more profound, nostalgic lyrics


There has always been a debate between generations about what’s better – new music or the classic oldies.

There are a lot of aspects that spark the debate, but one thing I can say for certain is that music has always entertained, educated, or informed listeners for years.

But during the course of time, music has evolved a lot. Music, along with everything else, changes with society. So the music we hear on the radio today is really a reflection of our cultural evolution, and it shows what our society is actually like.

I would bet anything that people in the 1960’s thought the Beatles were bad and swing was good, or that people in the 1920’s didn’t enjoy Jazz as much as “older” music. Even people during Mozart’s time probably thought that “modern” music would be awful and Bach was more desirable.

This got me thinking about what type of music I preferred (my favorite old-school band, rapper, and singer vs. my favorite new-school band, rapper, and singer, etc…). When it came down to it, it was a hard choice, but I would say that I prefer to listen to old-school music because I feel that it has more meaning behind it and carries more emotion.

When turning on a popular radio station today, there will more than likely only be mainstream music playing. In a way, I can understand how it is likeable. From the good beats and catchy lyrics, it’s the type of music that today’s generation has grown up with.

But one of the biggest reasons many people may like the music that’s heard on the radio is because we are forced to like it. Think about it this way: everyone has listened to a song that seemed ridiculous and didn’t like it at the time. But as it is played more and more on the radio, the song doesn’t seem so bad after awhile.

This is a basic psychology technique. But the issue with this is that people may lose interest faster. With the oldies, I find that they never get boring. When the oldies come on the radio, most people are able to sing along to them, and some may even reminisce about the good times from when the song was so popular.

Researchers have been able to show that old music sells better than newer music. Through numerous experiments, they have been able to prove that listeners are more likely to have positive feelings from a piece of music that they have heard before. Familiar music can also be a trigger for remembering stored memories and can induce good moods.

Another reason why I prefer oldies music is because it was recorded with actual instruments. During the early days of recording, musicians had to know how to play the instruments well before recording. With certain modern music, that’s no longer the case.

Freddie Mercury, the lead vocalist for the rock band Queen, was ahead of his time when he said, “There will be a time when technology becomes so advanced that we’ll rely in them to make music rather than raw talent. Music will lose its soul.”

Many styles of modern music rely heavily on computer programs. By using these programs, artists can choose the sounds they want without having actual instruments at their disposal, or even knowing how to play them.

Older songs relied on melody, so musicians took more time to create their music. Some artists took years to come up with some of their songs, and it is because they composed their music while imagining how they wanted it to sound. These days, musicians are able to create a song in as little as a few hours by using computer systems and other forms of technology.

I will say that not all music today is bad. There are a lot of artists, even some mainstream, that still have the depth and talent in their music as older artists do. It disappoints me, though, when I see more underground artists with more raw talent getting less attention than a more popular artist that constantly uses a synthesizer or has someone else write their songs for them.

During the 20th century, artists had to be amazing to win over their fans. And if they didn’t, they were forgotten. So the music industry was more selective when it came to who they were putting in the spotlight.

But it’s hard to say that about artists today. They are not as unique and only make music that will make them more popular. But there is nothing objective about music quality. We judge music quality by our own personal contexts. We invest in it with the meaning of our own life and present emotional needs.

Modern music is always evolving


I prefer new modern music.

I believe new music is better than old classical music because the music that is created today is learned technique. Therefore, people who created today’s music learned from old music.

These learned skills that have been taught show how music has evolved. Of course, talent is a necessity in this industry. Music is very powerful, and many people rely on music.

People all around the world use music for many different reasons. Music was the power to bring people together. People use music when they workout, study, and for meditation purposes.

Music is a very beneficial tool for teaching as well. Teachers use songs for learning and entertaining. That way children are learning while having fun singing tunes. Expecting mothers play certain music for their baby in the womb to accelerate development.

There are a lot of new music types that help people focus and calm down.Music is a type of medicine for people. The many people who choose to listen to modern music may just prefer modern music because they dislike the characteristics of old classical music.

There are various reasons why people choose modern music over old music. First of all, new music has a different sound. Technology has changed significantly during the past 20 years. Sound production has evolved. Musicians have had to evolve with the time. Artist are creating new sounds and collaborations with different people. Many artists now have freedom to produce the type of music they want people to hear, instead of being forced to produce something their label wants to be produced.

When I listen to musicians talk about how they pour their heart and soul into their music for their fans to hear, that is why I listen to now music. To me, modern music is a way that the artist is able to express a part of themselves to their fans. The fans who support and love modern music appreciate that.

Today’s technology allows musicians to update fans with notifications on social media about music information such as album release dates and performance announcements. This allows modern music information to be shared and more accessible.

Modern music is better to listen to because there are so many amazing emerging new artists in many types of music. There are also a lot more ways to buy music from new artists, such as on iTunes or buying subscriptions for music apps. These opportunities are offered to modern musicians that increase the amount of ways fans can access their music.

I like listening to a lot of different types of modern music. I like listening to new creations that artists come up with and challenging myself to learn the words to new songs. One of my favorite apps for music is Pandora. My top three favorite channels I listen to are Today’s Hits, Today’s Country, and This Year in Country Radio. When I relax or want to calm down, I like to listen to instrumental calming music.

The newest challenge that I am currently overcoming is leaning all the songs on Ariana Grande’s newly-released album titled “Thank You, Next.”

New music can create topics to talk about, because there is always new music dropping and people listening.

BackTalk: Valentine’s Day raises holiday controversy

Valentine’s Day not just all about romance

by Kaitlyn Hyde

Valentine’s Day – people either love it or hate it.

I can’t think of another holiday when people have such mixed and extreme feelings about it. I do, however, find it comical as to how strongly people feel about Valentine’s Day, and usually the people who feel the strongest are those who hate it the most. But also, it’s sad to me that a holiday meant to celebrate love could be so hated.

Let’s take Valentine’s Day for what is, without all the weird, commercialized pressure to get a date. Forget the fact that it’s the one time a year everyone buys overhyped and overpriced chocolates. It’s a day that celebrates love. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

There are a lot of aspects of life that are hard, stressful, and unrewarding. Without some love in our lives, nothing is really worth enduring. You don’t need romantic love or family love in order to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If the only person you love in this world is yourself, then you’re not only set for Valentine’s Day, you’re set for life. That is the hardest type of love to achieve, and that’s worth celebrating.

But like I said, people still love to hate on Valentine’s Day. As much as it’s an easy target for bashing, Valentine’s Day is one of the best holidays.

Yes, that was a difficult sentence to type, only because in the past it has always been a day I enjoyed boycotting. In reality, it’s not as bad as most people make it out to be.

One of the biggest arguments that has come up for celebrating Valentine’s Day is that we should celebrate love every day. While I agree we should celebrate love every day, I think this argument is flawed. Then the same could be said for Christmas, Easter, birthdays or any other holidays you may celebrate.

Whether it’s the celebration of love, the gift giving, or the celebrations of one’s life, this should all be things we celebrate on a daily basis. But we don’t. So, Valentine’s Day really is no different. There’s nothing wrong with taking a day to celebrate love, but it doesn’t take away from celebrating love every other day.

That being said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic. If you’re single, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in Valentine’s Day. It’s always fun to get gifts for friends or even family to celebrate.

No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day, it’s not a mandatory holiday. You can ignore all of it, and life will return to normal on Feb. 15. Your relationship status does not define you, and you can celebrate this day however you want to.

Hopefully, though, you’re with someone you love, no matter who that is. And if you choose not to, that’s fine.  But don’t rain on others’ parades when they do choose to celebrate. Just because you may not like the holiday doesn’t mean others have to feel the same way.


Competition ruins Valentine’s Day

by Reece Turner

Valentine’s Day is a festival of romantic love, involving poetry, cheap chocolates, flowers and empty promises in the form of mass marketed gift cards.

It is hard to find anything that is not superficial when Valentine’s Day comes around. There are better ways to say, “I love you” any day of the year without throwing money at restaurant chains, large jewelry franchises and bogus chocolate companies.

I think that Valentine’s Day is a convenient excuse for large corporations to make money. Hallmark makes a killing selling cards. Jewelry stores see their business boom, and chocolate sellers make bank on the cheapest product they can produce. Restaurants will have “Valentine’s Day Specials” that are generally marked up dishes that you could get cheaper any other day of the year. Valentine’s Day is also just an excuse to mark up retail prices.

Whoever thought the colors pink and red should be plastered together all over every major store, Valentine’s Day advertisement, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates should have their cattle slaughtered. Nobody in his or her right mind wants to see this stuff.

Why be an insatiable consumer when you can create a gift or plan an adventure on the other 364 days of the year? Some people receive Valentine’s Day as an excuse to be romantic for one day out of the year and remind their significant other, “I’m romantic, look what I did for you on Valentine’s Day,” even though, for the rest of the year, they were putting aside their relationship for work or being emotionally unavailable.

People should treat others how they would like to be treated all year. If a person would like a bouquet of flowers here and there, or a box of chocolates that actually tastes good, simple gifts that let your person know that you are thinking about them, then they should get them any other day of the year besides Valentine’s Day. In some relationships, gifts are expected at Valentine’s Day. Well, expectations breed disappointment, in my experience.

I’ve gone out of my way in the past to make amazing gifts that required many hours of work as a Valentine’s Day present for my significant others through the years. Some of the time, the fabricated gifts were shoved aside, with only the store/internet purchased gifts being truly appreciated. This partially explains why they are exes now, but this does not mean I will not keep trying to do something truly special for my person.

I always welcome another reason to be romantic. Valentine’s Day can be one of them. But I also think that people should be more creative than the old tropes we see that are Valentine’s Day dates. Do not falter under the trap that is 21st Century consumerism. Instead of dinner and a movie, how about a hiking trip or nature walk in a place you both have never been before? Don’t buy anything. Instead, go to a special place, write a poem or song, or paint something together.

Our lives should not revolve around competition and materialistic values, but instead community, spirituality, and, especially, love.


Back Talk: Video games considered as sports controversial

Competition, skill in playing video games similar to sports

by Kendall Rainer

When we think about sports, football and soccer come to mind. But most people don’t think about video games.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

There is a huge difference between competitive gaming and casual gaming. Casual gaming is when you sit down and play a game for fun. But competitive gaming is a sport, when you group together with your friends and form a team, with your only goal to beat everyone who stands in your way.

Gaming technically requires physical exertion. When you are playing a video, whether it be a shooter or a strategy game, your whole body is in the game. Your brain is racing, processing information and reacting to every detail and move your opponents make.

Sometimes gamers move along with their character, even if they are playing on a controller or keyboard. But with the invention of consoles such as the Wii, or an accessory like the Connect for the Xbox, you can actually physically move your body and the character on screen moves with you. You are physically exerting yourself in any of these scenarios.

It’s no secret that video games require a certain skill set. In shooter games, such as “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield,” the player has to have great hand-eye coordination to process what your eyes are seeing, as well as to move the analog sticks or buttons and eliminate your opponent before they can eliminate you. Gamers also have to have impeccable reaction time to react and counter-react to your opponents. The player also needs the knowledge and strategy to create a weapon loadout that will out-do your opponents every time, along with the skill and training it takes to be better than the other team.

You can play video games as an individual in one-on-one battles, or you can gather a team of your own to play against another team in the game. Some teams that are created are competitive teams, and can be professional gamers. Yes, there is a professional side to the sport, just like football, soccer, and basketball, among others.bt kendall

The sport also has an official title, which is E-Sport. It contains many different leagues across all gaming platforms and across a multitude of games. The leagues consist of Apex League, “Call of Duty” World League and “Overwatch” League, to name a few.

Just like in professional sports such as football and soccer, these professional gamers get paid. They receive sponsors like NASCAR drivers do. Most of them are also Youtubers, which you can get paid for and also sponsored through. There are also hefty grand prizes in league and world final competitions.

Some might say that gaming is one of the most versatile sports in the world, due to its wide variety of games and platforms you can play on.

Sports require physical effort, unlike video games

by Tina Gonzalez

A sport takes physical activity such as running, jumping, and climbing.

But sitting and moving your thumbs back and forth on a controller is not a sport.

Some may argue that playing video games is a sport. But playing video games for hours is not a sport. One may consider it a competition, but it is barely that.

Just because you can make a competition out of it does not make it a sport. You can turn drinking water into a competition, but that doesn’t make it a sport.

Playing “Call of Duty” or whatever video game it is that you play requires no physical movement. All you are doing is sitting there looking at a screen. Even indoor sports such as soccer, swimming, or gymnastics take serious athletic ability.

I understand that some boys take video-game playing seriously. But it cannot be compared to any type of sport.

I know that there are national competitions for that kind of stuff, but the only thing you have to train is your mentality. That is just a quarter of what an athlete has to train for. Athletes have to worry about their body, mind, and image. The only thing a video-game loser worries about is how fast they can move their thumbs.

Playing video games for hours at a time benefits no one. It doesn’t make a person stronger or healthier. In fact, it probably makes them unhealthy and lazy.

All you need to know for video-game playing is the controller and different buttons. Athletes have to train constantly and strategize every game, race, or meet. Video game players can expect the same thing, just another guy or girl on the other side of the screen pushing a few buttons.

In real sports, there is usually human contact. Video games have no human interaction at all besides someone else’s voice.

Almost everything that is considered a real sport is in the Olympics. No where do I see video-game playing in the Olympics. Even Curling is in the Olympics, and that requires little or no athletic ability.

I know firsthand how playing video games all day could hurt more than help a person. My cousin’s husband would sit in front of his little monitor and play games that didn’t even make sense. He gained weight.  He wasn’t involved in his relationships anymore because he was so focused on a video game that wasn’t going to benefit him in any way.

Playing sports at least helps your health.

Yes, playing video games could be a profession. But what kind of profession is that, just sitting there not doing anything but staring at a screen?sportsballs1.png

Playing video games is more of a hobby than a sport or a profession. It is something you should do during your free time, not something that takes up all your time.

If some people can’t even define cheerleading as a sport, how can anyone justify playing video games as a sport?

Even cheerleading requires lots of physical training. With video games, on the other hand, not so much.

In the definition of “sports”, it says that a sport requires physical exertion. That is why there is an “e” in front of Esports, because it is electronic and nothing physical.

All in all, professional video-game playing is not a sport and shouldn’t even be considered close to anything sports related.

Back Talk: Workplace discrimination sparks debate

Businesses should hire workers who match their preferences

Workplace equality has become a topic of discussion throughout the years, whether it be about equal pay or equal opportunities.

One topic that is not discussed often is job opportunities based on gender.

Many places hire predominantly female workers or male workers, depending on the job. Some businesses base their atmosphere on the services provided. Hooters is known for hiring women to gain the attention and business from men.

This has brought about the argument for equal opportunity in the workplace. Many people believe this is unfair. But i disagree, for many reasons.

In a business perspective, people create their business around hiring people who fit what they have in mind to gain the attention of a certain group of people. This is a very smart technique, considering the amount of money they could make off of these ideas.

Hooters has become a huge market across the country known for their wings and beautiful female waitresses. They train their employees to make everyone feel comfortable, and offer a lighthearted atmosphere. It obviously works, as it has become a popular place. Hooters is doing well from a business perspective with predominantly female employees.

People should be allowed to base their business off hiring a certain gender or a certain type of person. It all depends on how they want the atmosphere for their business.

If you think about it, every job is looking for a certain type of person to hire.

A high-fashion retail store would not hire someone who dresses casual, but that does not mean there is not a job out there looking for someone who does dress casual.

In my future career as a journalist, I would not hire someone who is afraid to speak up or put themselves out there. But that does not mean there is not a job out there for a quiet, reserved person.

As a small female, I would not be hired as security guard or a bouncer. But that does not mean there is not a job out there for me.

There are equal opportunities for people to be hired if you are looking in the right places for a job.

It just takes some thought to understand that not every business is looking for a person like you, which is perfectly OK.

I don’t believe that every person is fit for a specific job. Most of the time, people who do not fit the criteria pin the blame for not getting the job on not having an equal opportunity. Not every business wants to hire a buff male, a busty female, or a trendy hipster. But there are jobs out there looking for just that. There is equal opportunity for everyone if you take a look around.

The world is opening up more and looking for all different kinds of people. And there are more businesses beginning to hire more unique people.

The stigma of not enough equal opportunity should not block a person from finding a job, because there is a job out there for everyone. Some people just don’t fit the idea of what the business has in mind for their workers. Each business should be allowed to have an idea of how they want their workers to look without being accused of unequal opportunities.bt op 1

Companies should hire qualified applicants based on experience

Equal Opportunity has been the basis of American society and Socialist movements since the early 1900s and is still a prevalent issue today.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that employers cannot discriminate against applicants or employees based on race, sex, religion, color, or national origin.

If a male worker applying at a restaurant such as Hooters, who only hires female servers, was turned away based on being male, the company would be in violation of Title VII.

Hooters has been sued for their hiring practices in the past and have settled with the suing party every time. Yet they still maintain their hiring practices. They claim that their business is focused on the entertainment of their male clientele and less on the food. Their rationale on the subject is that their girls are entertainers, audition for their roles and must maintain their appearance. If that is the case, then men should still be allowed to work at Hooters because there are gay men who would like to go to Hooters and have the same experience.

In reality, it would be smart for Hooters to transition to having men as servers to cater to the homosexual crowd. Not only would it bring in more business, they would stop being sued for their hiring practices.

Men who are qualified and have experience with serving should be allowed to work at establishments such as Hooters or Bone Daddy’s. It is unfair to be turned away from a job based on gender. Being turned down by an employer because a person isn’t a male or female is the same as not being hired by a company based on race or religion.

Women who don’t get paid the same amount as a man in the same position are being discriminated against because of their gender. If a woman or a minority were being discriminated against and their pay reduced based on their gender or race, there would be strikes and protests. If a man wasn’t receiving equal pay at a business or even at a restaurant, no one would do anything about it.

Discriminatory hiring practices aren’t only in white collar jobs or the food service industry, it also exists in jobs that require manual labor, such as welding or in the oil fields. Generally, you don’t see women in either of those fields. While there are woman mechanics and oil workers, there is prejudice that women aren’t physically strong enough to perform the tasks as efficiently as a man.


Border wall raises debate concerning benefits, disadvantages

Border wall could add to economic issues

by Adán Rubio

Border wall unnecessary, detrimental to nation

There are many reasons why some people want a wall built on the border between the United States and Mexico, whether it be keeping illegal immigrants out of the country or eliminating the drug smuggling.

But building a border wall will not be a permanent solution to the problems, and the construction will be difficult.

One argument that is always considered regarding the construction of the wall is the cost being high, and the labor being extensive.

Despite President Donald Trump’s promises for Mexico to pay for the wall, the United States will still need to pay for certain parts, such as materials, manual labor, and other expenses. According to multiple sources, such as the New York Times and CBS-TV, a 30-foot-high wall that extends along the border could cost more than $20 million, not including maintenance.

Millions of dollars would be needed to construct just a few miles of the wall, and more effort would be needed to build access points for vehicles traveling across the border.

Even though a wall could replace the old, weak fencing that lines the border, the money and labor needed to complete such an extensive project is astounding, considering the nation already contributes millions of dollars to patrol the borders.

Some might think that building a wall is worth the strenuous labor and the high costs, as it can aid in keeping out illegal immigrants and drugs.

My main argument to that statement is that where there’s a will, there’s way. Regardless of how long, high, or strong the wall is built, the country needs entry points in order to trade and deal with Mexico.

Through these entry points, anything can still be smuggled across the border, whether it be hiding immigrants in vehicles or putting drugs inside containers filled with produce and other traded products.

Businessman struggling with large ExpensesEven though the United States Border Patrol has dealt with these smuggling tactics before, it will take time to adjust to these methods while the wall is being built.

The wall is an extensive project that will take many years until it is fully completed. Currently, there are still immigrants going to remote parts of the border and climbing over the fences using ladders. Despite efforts to increase border protection, not all parts of the border can be secure, and the wall is not going to be built anytime soon.

I can see how a wall along the border can be beneficial for security. If the supposed 30-foot-high wall is ever completed, it would be very difficult for immigrants and illegal substances to get past the border. But at this point, the desire to build a wall is only slowing down the United States and its attempts to maintain a stable society.

Building a wall will consume much of the country’s time, money, and willpower. Focusing energy on a lengthy project is unnecessary, considering the time already being spent to increase national security. There are more efficient ways to prevent illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing the border without building a wall.

Regardless of how one feels about this issue, immigrants will take the opportunity to cross the border far before the wall would ever be completed. The wall could hinder the nation more than it could possibly benefit it.


Nation could be secure, unified with border wall

by Kyle Ewing

First off, I do not want the wall to keep immigrants out. Unless you are a descendent from a Frist Nation tribe, then you are, in fact, an immigrant to the United States.

I personally think immigration is an integral force for change that is vital for our country to grow. With that said, if they build a wall, the wall needs to have open doors to all who want to come to the United States.  Not only would the wall need an open doors policy, if a wall were to be constructed, I believe our immigration policies and practices need to be reworked to be more beneficial to those seeking to come to our country.

So, before you label me a bigot, please let me explain why I believe a border wall would be beneficial to our country.

My main concern that warrants the wall is border security.  The United States and Mexico share a border that is 1,954 miles long. Only about 700 of those miles currently have a man-made barrier, as well as an estimated 130 additional miles that have a natural barrier between our two countries.  The rest of our southern border is wide open for anyone to cross.  Also, if we build a southern wall, there is no reason not to build a northern wall on the 1,538-mile-long border shared with Canada.

Historically, most nations build walls to protect their ideals and populations from dangers from outside its own boundaries.  These dangers range from the drugs that cross our border to the people who seek to destroy the American way of life.  While the latter is obviously an extreme measure, it is a possibility that one must consider.

While many critics argue that barriers lead to division among people, with the right regulations in place, it could lead to a more unified population.  The wall would signify a monumental shift in American politics. With a more substantial stance on border security, it could possibly deter the people who only seek to come to our country to do harm to its people.  A stronger stance would also show the world that America is serious about mending the wounds at home that have been looked over for the past few decades.

If America could focus on itself and try to fix domestic issues, it would be a more alluring place for people looking for a new place to call their own.

I do believe immigration is essential to growing a more prosperous nation. While a wall seems to go against the idea of togetherness, I truly believe it would help alleviate some issues that keep us divided, such as illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, and gang violence.

With our nation’s borders being more secure, it would lead to a safer and more connected American population, a population where everyone is heard, no matter their skin color, their gender, or their personal beliefs.  If there is wall to be built, it must follow our American ideals that make America one of the greatest countries to live in.

I know the first thing that pops in your head when someone supports a border wall is, “That racist bigot! Who does he think he is?”  I understand and respect your views.  I believe that with a safer and more connected population, we can all move away from talks of division, to one of comradery and community.

Back Talk: Net neutrally generates debate

Internet should stay free

by Randi Jines

The Federal Communications Commission has been trying to do away with net neutrality and begin charging people to use the Internet.
Net neutrality is what keeps the Internet free, as in Twitter, Google, Facebook, and anything else you can name.
Every time I opened up an app, there would be a post about net neutrality, whether it be a meme or a number to text to keep net neutrality. So I decided to text the number one day because social media plays a big part in my life, and hopefully my future, as a journalist.
There are many reasons why net neutrality is around and still is.
The Internet plays a big role in society today. Many people have created jobs solely on being a social media influencer, as in Youtubers or Instagram models. People make their living creating content to post to the Internet. This would put many people out of jobs, because the audience would shrink. The only people viewing their content would be the people who could afford to pay to use these apps.
As a journalist hoping to work for Buzzfeed one day, the chance of Buzzfeed even being a successful platform anymore would be diminished. This would put many media companies, creators, models, influencers, celebrities, and others out of business. Not everyone can afford to pay to use the Internet.
As an American, I have the freedom of speech, religion, marriage, and to even own a gun. So having to pay to use the Internet that has been free since it was created seems absurd to me. It is suspicious that the government wants us to pay for the Internet once Donald Trump became president. With all of the buzz about President Trump and the endless memes and scandals, it makes sense that the government would try to find a way to make it difficult for people to hear about any of this. But as Americans, we pride ourselves on freedom. Making us pay for the Internet would be a step in the opposite direction.thumbs up
Also, the Internet plays a big part in education. In college, you have the student portal, which gives you access to all of your information, from your transcript to student activities. Now imagine paying a fee every time you wanted to access this. College is expensive. You are expected to pay for tuition, housing, books, access codes, food, and so much more. Many people can barely afford to pay for this. Adding on the cost to pay to use Google, your student portal, your email, the library database, is overwhelming. As a broke college student, if net neutrality is taken away, I do not think I will be able to continue with college, because it is expensive enough as it is.
The Internet has a bad reputation for many reasons, from cyber bullying to fake news. Many people believe that paying to use the Internet would get rid of these problems, but the Internet sheds light on many positive aspects too. Bullying will happen regardless, whether it is online or not. But the Internet has given people a platform to speak up about bullying and help the victims of bullying. For example, I was scrolling through Twitter the other day and I came across a tweet by a social media influencer encouraging his fans to refrain from self-harm. I read the comments, and many people were inspired and encouraged to stay clean. The Internet has been an outlet for many people and brings light to situations that otherwise wouldn’t be talked about.
Net Neutrality is important in keeping our rights as Americans. No one should have to pay for these things when it has been free since it was created.

Advantages could come from paying for Internet

by Tina Gonzalez

Everyone is going crazy about the idea of net neutrality and having to pay for the Internet.
But in some respects, net neutrality has some beneficial qualities. Of course, for corporations and business, it may not be all in their favor, but that is not why net neutrality should happen.
It is not a surprise that the social world we live in is completely different from even 15 years ago. And it hasn’t really changed for the better. Maybe it is just my old-fashion tendencies, but young adults, teens and even kids are so obsessed with the Internet and social media it has gotten to the point where it’s the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we see at night. I do use social media and the Internet, but not as much as many people use it.
The world has completely taken advantage of the Internet, using it for all the wrong reasons: acknowledging all the wrong people, not using it for educational purposes, and becoming absolutely obsessed with a world that most people hide behind.
If net neutrality happens, the Internet could potentially be faster. Only the people who truly need the Internet will pay for it. So, the people using it for pointless reasons such as to let the world know that he or she is at the movies will cease to be on the Internet.
Companies think they would not make money, but actually they could really benefit. A company could come up with buddle packages and things of that sort. For example, people onnn money airplanes are willing to pay big bucks for access to the Internet. Why? Because it is not directly accessible. We have gotten so use to having the Internet that when people don’t have it right then and there, they will do what is needed to have it. They could maybe take a moment to look up from their phones, computers, and tablets to realize the more important things.
Another thing to think about is that a lot of young children are on social media. Most of the time, the parents aren’t even aware, because it’s the normal thing to have, but it is not doing any good. Kids aren’t going outside. They end up hiding behind screens and avoiding face-to-face interaction, which does not help their social skills. If there was net neutrality, kids wouldn’t pay to have the Internet, so it would keep them off things that they shouldn’t be on.
For students and people who need the Internet, such as doctors or professors, it should be accessible at all times, provided by their employers. However, it has become an overwhelming obsession for most people.
People are upset about the idea of paying for the Internet, only because we have gotten too attached to having it. We have almost taken it for granted. Even though with free Internet news can travel faster, the Internet should be used at the right capacity.

Back Talk: Greeting cause debate during holiday season

Seasonal greetings should include all holiday traditions

by Matt Molinar

The war on Christmas is not real.

When winter arrives, it seems that the anger toward political correctness from Republicans reaches its peak.

Since the time that former president,Gerald Ford was in office, anti-Semites have been alerting the public of the “assault on Christmas.” This was started when Jews began entering the United States. This meant that Jewish students began attending schools filled with Christians.

Because ignorance is a strong thing, these people either did not realize that Jews do not celebrate Christmas or they just did not care, and their ego led to hatred toward Jewish people when motions were passed to exclude mentions of Christmas in schools.

For those who may not have noticed, the United States has become home to an ever-growing diverse group of citizens who may not celebrate Christmas.

Today’s “war on Christmas” focuses on the words “Happy Holidays” being used in department stores instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Using “Merry Christmas” to wish everyone happy times during the holiday season is not inclusive of other cultures.

hauniWhen schools celebrate Christmas specifically, it is not inclusive of pupils from other cultures, which can cause a young student to feel segregated and insecure.  You wouldn’t walk up to a Jewish person and shout “Merry Christmas” knowing well that they celebrate Hanukkah. So we shouldn’t address diverse groups of people as if they all celebrate Christmas.

Many religious people will argue that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” “takes Christ out of Christmas.” But to be quite honest, Christ has nothing to do with Christmas.

People aimlessly follow tradition and customs without really looking into their origins, because they seem to come naturally and it’s what they’ve always known to be true.

The Holy Bible explains in the book of Luke that Christ was born at a time when shepherds were “abiding in the field, watching over their flock by night.” In the book of the Song of Solomon, the scripture states that winter was a season in which shepherds could not stay out in the cold watching over their sheep in the fields at night.

The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms that Christ was born during the fall, and not in the winter.

Another thing people fail to realize is that Jesus was a Jewish person who celebrated Hanukkah.

According to the Associates for Biblical Research, Christ participated in the celebration of Hanukkah around the year AD 29 during the winter. The scripture gives the implication in the Book of John, chapter 20, and verse 22.

So why is there so much fuss about being inclusive? Wouldn’t you want to include the image of Christ in your festivities?

All of this doesn’t make you wrong for celebrating Christmas in remembrance of the birth of Christ. The main reason it is even celebrated on December 25 is because there really is no known exact date of birth. But you must be inclusive.

Celebrate Christmas, but don’t be stubborn about sharing this festive holiday season with those who don’t celebrate Christmas so that we may, indeed, experience happy holidays.

Appreciation of minority cultures not appropriation

by Tyler York

If your birthday is in June, it would be strange for people to acknowledge that cheerful day of  by wishing you a “happy summer.”

It would still be a pleasant interaction, sure. But the response to a specific life event feels like people care about you. It’s almost always a welcome communication between friends, family, and even sometimes people you barely know.

I don’t see why it can’t be the exact same way with Christmas.

When people wish each other a “Merry Christmas,” they’re taking a moment to connect with each other, and to have a positive interaction that brings both parties a brief instance of joy. Most of the time, this comes in the middle of a regular daily routine and provides a little break in the monotony that can make one’s day if positioned properly.

I’ve grown up celebrating Christmas. I have never celebrated Hanukkah in my life. But last year, when I was wished a “Happy Hanukkah” by someone in passing, it nearly made my day. The thought that someone would want to share their personal happiness about their time of cultural celebration absolutely thrilled me. I felt more connected to both my community and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, humanity as a whole.

There seems to be a trend toward oversensitivity in our country, or even an expectation of every social interaction needing to be underscored with a kind of “pre-offendedness.” This way, the moment anything happens that could remotely be perceived as majority-affiliated, all parties should immediately acknowledge it as offensive or exclusionary.

bellsPreemptively being offended at things doesn’t help move anything forward. And more importantly, being offended at hearing the word “Christmas” is not the same thing as being tolerant and respectful of minority cultures. Just because a large number of people celebrate Christmas in the United States, it doesn’t have to mean anything Christmas-adjacent is automatically offensive to everyone in the minority.

Futhermore, the act of giving well wishes of happiness in a time of celebration doesn’t invalidate the individual beliefs or practices of another culture. On the contrary—I think sharing messages of appreciation and social pleasantries does a great deal to unite cultures. In a country with so much diversity of practices and celebrations, and with a media that tends to focus on negative interactions and evidence of a divided nation, the more we can do to share our happiness with each other, the better.

I recognize that it’s a bit different with Christmas, specifically, and it could be argued that there’s a different dynamic of majority power in play. I would probably agree—if people were running around screaming that Christmas is the only thing that is allowed to be celebrated, or if there were violent riots where Christmas supremacists were killing innocent people in the name of the one true Santa. But that isn’t reality.

People just want to tell other people “Merry Christmas.” And that is hardly the end of the world

BackTalk: Cultural appropriation raises questions regarding ethics

Culture misappropriation takes away from original meaning

by Matt Molinar

America loves to appropriate culture.

In order for cultures to be taken seriously, a line has to be drawn that divides cultural appropriation from appreciation.  There is a large gray area between cultural appropriation and misappropriation, which is offensive.

To understand why culture is important, you must know that culture is how a society interprets the world.

America is basically a crock pot filled with a variety of cultures and subcultures as the ingredients. This sets a stage for any culture to be appropriated.

It is quite acceptable to have appreciation for another culture and express appreciation for that culture in outward appearance in good taste.

It is not acceptable for someone from a dominant culture to appropriate pieces of a culture that they have systematically oppressed. It is also not acceptable to sexualize or make fun of an oppressed culture’s outward appearance, especially when there’s money involved.

When people of a dominant culture appropriate a minority culture, they ignore the many historical contexts associated with that culture. Whatever piece of culture somebody of a dominant culture appropriates loses its original meaning.

One great person to reference when you’re talking about cultural appropriation is Katy Perry. One example of her very terrible instances is when she dressed in a Japanese Geisha costume in her American Music Awards performance of “Unconditionally” in 2013.  Her version of a Japanese Geisha was tacky and inaccurate.

She came out on stage wearing a modified kimono and an extremely pale face, mimicking the look of a Geisha. After her performance, the comments calling her offensive began circulating.

Not only did Perry look stupid during this performance, but she offended the culture.

Her performance leaves naïve Americans with an inaccurate representation of a fascinating Asian culture.

Perry’s original intention was nothing negative. She may have been trying to show appreciation for the Geishas, and she has since apologized, but she used a culture for her own benefit.

Taylor Swift also did the same kind of belittling of a culture when she featured a bunch of black girls twerking behind her in her music video for “Shake it Off.”

While you might assume that twerking originated in American strip clubs, you may be very surprised to discover that twerking actually has deep African roots. There are several traditional dances practiced in West African cultures, such as mapouka, that exhibit the same movements as twerking.

Learning this made me realize that appropriating a culture in a negative way will indeed dissolve its original meaning into videos of white girls arching and flexing their backs to a song by Miley Cyrus.

Singer Gwen Stefani has also done appearances with a group of Japanese girls she uses as props. Stefani is so inspired by the Harajuku culture in Tokyo that she decided to hire four Japanese girls to stand behind her in public appearances, dance behind her in music videos, and say absolutely nothing.

If you have seen the music videos where she features these four Japanese girls, you will understand how Stefani has taken Japanese youth culture and turned it into how most Americans view young Japanese women to be: submissive, giggling Asians.

The main reason why cultural misappropriation is harmful is because it exposes the dominant western culture to inaccurate stereotypes. And yes, it is possible to show appreciation for a culture without adding to the attention of an inaccurate stereotype.

You can’t blame somebody for unknowingly misappropriating a culture because it looks cool. But you can educate him or her on why it’s wrong and how they can possibly find a better way to show appreciation for culture.

Appreciation of minority cultures not appropriation

by Riley Golden

There is a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation, and it isn’t always fair to deem something as appropriation.

When I was in middle school, I dressed up as Lil Wayne for Halloween one year. I did what I now know is called “black-face,” which, for good reason, has quite a negative connotation. For as far as this country has come in the treatment of black people, there is still a long way to go. I saw a viral Snapchat post of some white girls who had dark cosmetic facemasks on and they were “acting” like black people. It was extremely offensive and derogatory, but that is because those girls were specifically making fun of black people.

When I dressed up as Lil Wayne, my goal was the exact opposite. I loved Lil Wayne – I still have somewhere around 100 Lil Wayne songs in my music library – and I was, if anything, paying homage to him. He was my favorite artist at the time, and, in truth, all I was trying to do was show that appreciation.

Since showing that photo to people in college, I’ve come under light fire, being told that I would be forgiven for it because I was in middle school. I’m no longer as naïve as I was in middle school, and I realize now that I could have done that entire outfit the same, minus the “black-face” make-up, and my outfit still would’ve delivered Lil Wayne.

But, shouldn’t intent factor into how people receive things like that? I think so. It’s similar to non-black people using the “n word” followed with the “a” sound. Travis Scott, one of today’s biggest names in hip-hop who frequently uses the word in his music, gave an Asian kid permission to say it in the concert. Scott’s reasoning for this was because he’s at the concert, showing appreciation for him and the music he makes.

But, some would point to white people using that word as appropriation, especially because of its origin. Not to dismiss what Europeans did to the African people, and not even to say that the communities aren’t still dealing with the horrors that Europeans brought down on them, but we are not our forefathers.

My best friend is black, Kenyan-American to be exact, and we have a lot of conversations about this topic. I wanted to get myself a dashiki, an African-style shirt, because I like his culture, the shirts look cool, and I want to show my appreciation for it. To him, wearing a dashiki outside of Africa is kind of appropriating the culture. But, if I didn’t know him and still had an appreciation for the culture, I would’ve worn it out of ignorance.

I have the utmost appreciation for the black culture, as well as all other cultures, and often times I want nothing more than to be accepted into it. But sometimes, like with the Lil Wayne costume, or my Migos hat (Migos are a black rap group) my appreciation can be taken as appropriation because of how a large number of white people view black people.

Appropriation is definitely an issue that people deal with on a daily basis. But I think people should stop and think, “is this person really appropriating my culture, or are they showing appreciation for it in a way that they don’t know is offensive?”

BackTalk: NFL players kneeling creates noise

Silent protests from NFL players prove nothing

by TINA GONZALEZ / Editorial Assistant

During the past year or so, football players across America have taken it upon themselves to start a silent protest.

They have the right to disrespect the people who sacrificed their lives so that they have the opportunity to play the game that gives them income, publicity, and a life. By no means it is right for anyone in American to have their rights taken away, no matter the color of their skin.

However, it is in no way moral or logical to protest about the issue of racism and police brutality by deliberately disrespecting the country’s flag and anthem. It is a great country that we are able to live in. Many people years before gave their all to make this country as free as it is. It is sad that our country still has issues with racism, but there are better ways to make your statement than by being discourteous to the flag of the country that gives you the freedom to kneel.

President Donald Trump does not use words wisely and doesn’t say what he means in the right way. But he is right about saying how disgraceful these football players and owners are to ignore a song and flag that gives them freedom. In kneeling, you are also disrespecting the people who fight for our country. People who are fighting for our lives, for our freedom, do not deserve the rudeness and disrespect that the NFL players are giving.

Protest and fight for what you believe in. There is nothing wrong with that. But think of what and who you are blaming. It is not the flag’s fault or the people’s fault for the cruelty that happens in the streets, it is ours. It is the people among you that you should be protesting.

American is a home. It is a family. Just like with any other family and home, there is dysfunction. But the people, not the home itself, cause that. It is OK for high-profile players and celebrities to use their platforms to voice their opinion on current issues. But it is important that they voice their opinion the right way, by holding walks and conferences. High-profile people think more thoroughly about their actions because it has a major effect on their supporters. It is important that they do not disrespect the one thing and the people who make it acceptable for you to have freedom.

The NFL and other supporters of the kneeling protest are referring to a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. kneeling. But the difference between a great iconic man kneeling and selfish football players kneeling is that Martin Luther King Jr. was kneeling for prayer. The NFL players kneeling are disrespecting the flag and everything it stands for.

There is no right way to protest. There are always going to be people who don’t agree with how things are done. Thankfully, the NFL’s protest is peaceful. But the way the NFL is protesting is not the right way to protest for racism and police brutality. All it is doing is dishonoring the one thing and the people who make this the country way it is.

We want a “fair” society, though that may never be accomplished because there is always a group or a person who wants things different. But that is the beauty of this country. We get to express our own opinions.

It is OK to protest whatever your heart desires. But don’t disrespect the one thing that gives you the right to protest.

Kneeling football players have right to stand against injustice

by DOM PUENTE / Staff Writer

NFL players protesting the injustices that are going on in America against people of color by kneeling during the national anthem are causing an outrage throughout the country.

Those claiming these players are disrespecting their flag, national anthem, soldiers, and veterans who lost their lives are oblivious to the actual reasons for their protest. Countless people put up a front for defending what they believe to be is the perfect country, which everyone should be grateful for. But it’s not.

Throughout 2017, masses of enraged Americans of all colors and nationalities have marched down highways and streets, protesting injustices that continuously happen.

Our veterans have laid their lives on the line to allow us to have freedom of speech, to peacefully protest. These players are doing so while thousands of Americans believe this country is regressing.

No action has been taken to help correct the atrocities that have already taken place, or to prevent further injustices from taking place.

These NFL athletes are using their platform to send a message throughout America that this is not the greatest country right now. There is constant police brutality, senseless murders and racism that fill the streets of America, and the hundreds of thousands of Americans speaking about and protesting for changes are constantly being ignored because brainwashed America believes that it only happens in ghettos, or in crime-heavy cities and neighborhoods.

These people also believe that police officers are doing their jobs and keeping the streets safe. However, the streets are filled with protesters of all races who beg to differ when unarmed young adults, teens, and children are being gunned down in neighborhoods because an officer was “technically” in the right to do so. People with the ability and power to fix these situations are pushing these issues to the back burner.

Players kneeling during an anthem and not standing for the flag is because some believe that they are not being heard, and the minorities are being treated unfairly. They believe the country we live in now does not represent what the flag and anthem stand for. People are being ignored, and these players constantly being talked about negatively are speaking for the people who will not be listened to. These players are right for protesting what they believe in.

Former San Francisco 49’rs starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick began this form of peaceful protest and said, “I am not going to stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color…”

I believe the hundreds of thousands of Americans of various races who march and protest throughout various cities in the country feel the same way. Yet their opinions do not matter, or they are automatically being told they’re wrong.

We should not stand for a country that looks the other way when racism prevails and oppression continuous to hinder America. These are the reasons for NFL players taking a knee. It is not to be disrespectful to the fallen soldiers or the men and women fighting for our rights overseas. The players kneel to show they are against a country full of people who have the chance to make things right, yet believe this nation is perfect the way it is, though horrendous acts of racism and prejudice still take place.

The people that argue this form of protest being disrespectful are nonbelievers of the current social issues and only argue that simply kneeling disrespects our soldiers. These people also do not understand the reasons for NFL players protesting and the reason for players utilizing their platform.

No form of protest can make everyone happy. Protest is not meant to make people happy. These players are using their platform to bring social issues to the forefront of conversations, and it is working. Whether it enrages people or gives people a sense of urgency to continue to protest and let their voices be heard, the players are right when you understand the actual reasons and stop being blind.

BackTalk: Confederate symbolism causes debate

Removing ties to Confederacy creates progress

by ADÁN RUBIO//Staff Writer

The removal of Confederate monuments and changing the names of streets and public institutions named after Confederate leaders has created a lot of controversy throughout the year.

Despite what people may think about the stability of the United States, our nation is still growing as a united front and has advanced through many accomplishments and tragedies. Changing or removing Confederate influences throughout society is important to encourage this kind of progress within the United States.

In this society, there are people who strongly believe in certain Confederate ideals or people who want to keep certain pieces of history in tact. But we should not have to maintain certain ideals of the past. The removal of Confederate names and monuments within many communities will allow people to dismiss a part of history that had a standing impact only a few centuries ago. People can gain a sense of progression from keeping the significance of these Confederate values in the past.

One can argue that these Confederate influences are a major part of history that has led to this growing nation today, but historic events that took place a few centuries ago will always be remembered, despite the lack of Confederate impressions. The history of the Confederacy will never be forgotten, but it should not be something that defines the United States to this day.

The removal of these ties to the Confederacy can also have positive effects on different parts of society. Changing the names of schools that were influenced by Confederate leaders will show people, especially young students, that our nation pushes forward and does not dwell on the past centuries. It is not just adults who are considering the name changes for these schools.

In Dallas, Texas, students held a vote to change the name of John B. Hood Middle School to Piedmont Global Academy. The actions undertaken by these students show how the need for growth and change is necessary for new generations to realize that the future is what is important.

With the removal of Confederate monuments and names, people can now begin to honor those who have made a lasting impact throughout the past decade. It is time to honor the new leaders of this century, without being restricted by past idols.

A popular argument that has surfaced throughout the media toward the removal of Confederate symbols is the idea that past impactful leaders, such as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, shared some Confederate ideals and are still being honored through monuments and other glorifications. I will refute that by saying that the Confederacy began in the United States during a time of chaos and separation. Whether some leaders who share certain qualities with the Confederacy are still being honored today has nothing to do with their beliefs but their success in shaping this nation into a place of freedom.

The opportunities that come with replacing Confederate monuments or changing names of certain institutions are endless. People can praise the upcoming leaders of this century and shape a nation that still respects its history while being able to persevere through upcoming major issues.

What ever your perspective is on this issue, the one thing that is certain is that we need to move on from concerns that are insignificant for this era. One way of achieving this is through removing or changing components of society that do not evoke a sense of progressiveness within our nation.


Confederate statues essential to history

by NICOLE LOPEZ//Sports Editor

America has come a long way since the Civil War.

Confederate statues and public schools named after confederate leaders are symbols of learning from the past and not making the same mistakes in the future. But many people don’t seem to understand that logic.

The confederate statues are part of America’s long and interesting history. America has been through a lot and has evolved for the better. Why take down statues and change school names? It’s part of our history! The Civil War, like it or not, is part of our history. The outcome of the war was great. The North abolished slavery. That is something we should be proud of.

I know the South was pro-slavery. But we have these statues and confederate leaders standing on America ground because it’s part of our history. Tearing down these statues and creating protests is not going to change the outcome of what happened. The outcome was something that changed America for the better. Slavery doesn’t exist in the United States like it did in the 1850s, which is something we should all celebrate.

Yes, Robert E. Lee was one of the Confederate leaders. He owned slaves, but so did Abraham Lincoln and he was the President of the United States. Should we tear down Lincoln’s statue as well? He owned slaves, but he actually led the abolition of slavery.

If we take away the Confederate memorials, “because historic figures had slaves,” then why not take down every single statue of a historical figure? We would be erasing American history, history that has made America what it is today.

Memorials to the Civil War honor the men who fought and die for a cause. If we choose to do away with any Confederate memorial, we open the door for every war memorial to be reevaluated according to which group it offends.

The people who are offended brings me to another point. These Confederate statues offend people. That’s the problem with America today. Mostly everyone is easily offended by anything. If you’re offended by these historical statues, then you must have too much time on your hands.

They’re historical statues, statues that represent who we used to be, versus what we stand for now. They remind people every day of how far we’ve come as a nation. The Civil War is taught in history books. The war was a bloodbath, it was messy, and it was ugly. But it was worth it. Slavery was abolished. We should be focusing on the bigger picture.

If we tear down these statues because people are offended, then we should burn history books and be done with history all together. We should ban it being taught in schools and not learn from our mistakes in the past. Isn’t that what history is? Isn’t that why we teach history? We teach history for others to learn from the past. We teach it so that way we don’t make the same mistakes as before.

The Confederate statues shouldn’t be taken down. If you’re offended, then I don’t know what to tell you. They’re not harming anyone. They represent a historic event in America, an event which changed America for the best. That is something worth remembering.

BackTalk: Campus carry sparks disagreement among students

Concealed carry can keep campuses safe

by NICOLE LOPEZ//Sports Editor

Texas has allowed concealed handguns in public for about 20 years. Now, college campuses can be added to the list.

On June 1, 2015, Texas Senate Bill 11 was passed and signed by Governor Greg Abbott. The bill states any individual who has a license to carry, or a concealed handgun license, can carry a firearm on public college campuses.

Last year, this bill went into effect for only universities. On August 1, the bill went into effect for all college campuses.

It’s a smart and safe move from the Texas Legislature. Many individuals would argue that having a gun on campus is not safe, no matter what the situation is. This is something I can’t agree with. Having a weapon to protect yourself, or others, is probably the best thing in this day and age.

Imagine if a faculty member had a weapon during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut on December 14, 2014 . I know it’s not a college campus. But, it’s still a campus. If one faculty member had a weapon, I can guarantee the end result would have been different.

Another example is the Virginia Tech shooting, which happened on a college campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. It’s considered the deadliest shooting by a single gunman. Again, the aftermath would have been completely different if a student, or a faculty member, would have been carrying a weapon.

I know many students are concerned about their safety because the weapon is concealed. But I don’t understand why this is an issue. If anything, if it wasn’t concealed, I think it would cause a greater distraction, and you’ll be more worried about the weapon because it’s seen. You know what they say, “out of sight, out of mind.”

There are also concerns that if a student is carrying a gun, they might use the weapon for the wrong reason. For example, if a professor makes them upset in anyway, many are concerned the student can use their weapon on the professor.

I can see where this can be concerning. But, in order to get a concealed carry license or gun permit of any kind, you have to go through different kinds of tests, including a background check. They check to make sure you’re stable enough to own a gun, and I’m sure they wouldn’t let someone carry one if they get upset about every little thing.

I think having a concealed weapon is beneficial, especially if a shooting were to happen (hopefully it never will). Let’s say there was a shooting on campus, and the campus was open carry, meaning you could see the weapon. The gunman would shoot anyone who has a weapon, because they can see it, and they want to take out those people first. There wouldn’t be much of a point protecting yourself if you’re the first target.

Now, let’s try the same scenario, except the campus is concealed carry. The gunman wouldn’t know who has a weapon. This gives an individual who is carrying the element of surprise, which can stop the shooter and save lives. Saving lives and avoiding a school massacre can be done because of this bill.

I believe the Texas Legislature was thinking long-term when passing this bill. It’s beneficial for students and for faculty members. If a campus shooting were to happen, I believe this bill could save lives. That’s always something we should strive for.

Campus carry puts student on edge

by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor

College campuses are no place for guns.

On Aug.1, Texas Senate Bill 11 went into effect, allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry side arms on community college campuses.

Although there are some benefits to passing the bill, allowing the concealed carry of a firearm on a college campus is just not necessary. There have been numerous high school and college shootings in my lifetime, but never did I think the state would be handing out permits to 21 year olds with a measly eight-hour training course under their belts and saying, “hey, this permit lets you take your gun onto college campuses.”

I understand that is an extreme viewpoint, but there are extreme people out there. That Glock 18 on your hip might help you feel safe, but how is the rest of the class going to feel when the professor is threatening you with failing grades? In most cases, it would be better if campus carry only allowed professors and faculty members to carry weapons. Take it even further and only allow tenured professors, or professors and faculty with military training, to carry a concealed weapon.

The thing is, as a student, professor, or faculty member, you cannot ask someone if they are carrying a concealed weapon, or if they have a permit for one. So if I happen to see someone’s .44 Magnum peaking out from their Carhart coat, how do I know if that’s supposed to make me feel safer or anxious? I certainly can’t ask him. So do I call campus police? Does everyone in this situation call campus police? What if you don’t call campus police because he seems like one of them “good ol’ boys,” then he shoots up your class for failing the midterm? You never know what someone’s intentions are, and if they may or may not have a gun. Since you can’t ask them about it, you are left to speculate.

The most troublesome aspect of the law may not be the fact that people can carry concealed handguns on campus. The fact that I legally cannot ask you if you have a concealed carry permit makes it really hard for me to just ignore or accept the bill and move on with school.

Guns are great for hunting and war zones. But what kind of hunting is going to be done, or war is going to be fought, on a college campus? Passing Texas Senate Bill 11 puts too many students’ lives at risk. It is also unnecessary and illogical.

The person you see carrying a firearm might be the one who stops the shooter attempting mass murder, or he might be the mass-murdering shooter and you just don’t know.

BackTalk: Airstrike in Syria fires up debate

United States bombing pales in comparison to Syrian civil war

by TYLER YORK//Online Editor

The atrocities committed in Syria should come to an end. But random bombings ordered by the United States will only make the situation worse.

Chemical warfare has become an unfortunate staple of war. But its roots run deeper than the last few decades. Its prohibition on the battlefield actually dates back to the 17th century.

The Strasbourg Agreement, signed by France and the Holy Roman Empire, was a treaty to prevent the use of poisoned bullets in battle.

In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles made poison gas illegal in Germany. In 1925, the Geneva Protocol set up a ban on chemicals in warfare, including gases, liquids, devices, and biological agents.

Even as recently as 1993, Syria had participated in the Chemical Weapons Prevention treaty. This agreement created a timeline for the end of use and destruction of chemical stockpiles in 192 states.

In 2013, the United Nations discovered Syria had been producing and stockpiling chemicals for warfare. Syrian president Bashar Assad had allegedly ordered the Syrian military to use Sarin gas on civilian targets.

Most recently, in April 2017, the attack on Khan Shaykhun is the deadliest chemical attack in the Syrian civil war since the attack four years prior.

In 2011, the United States first became involved in the Syrian civil war by providing aid to rebels in the form of food, water, and trucks. This evolved into cash, intelligence, and later, full-on training of Syrian rebels. But this is not uncommon.

The Syrian civil war has become a proxy war. It has created an opportunity for many states and countries to use tactical resources to oppose external enemies. A prime example is Russia, which has been using its own planes and helicopters to attack Assad’s enemies in the war for several years.

In April, President Donald Trump called for 59 missiles to hit a single airbase in Syria as a punishment for the recent chemical weapons attack.

The question of President Trump’s recent bombing order isn’t about whether the United States should intervene in Syria. The problem is the act comes off as uninformed righteousness.

That justification completely ignores the years of violence and terror wielded by a leader on his own people. It is, at once, too strong for an outsider’s butting in, and too weak for a global superpower’s righteous justice.

The United States has already involved itself in the war, with no positive results whatsoever.

Without formal action, running around the outside of a war that doesn’t involve the United States can only ramp up the already dangerous situation. Not to mention the possibility that seeing the United States getting involved in such a flippant way might only encourage other nations to do the same. There is a real danger here of escalating the Syrian civil war to a war of a much larger scale.

President Trump’s erratic bombing order is heavily out of proportion with the brutality of the Syrian civil war. The United States should do something to stand up for the victims in Syria, but not based on immature and misguided whims.

War declaration necessary to prevent further Syrian attacks

by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor

President Donald Trump just ordered an airstrike on the Syrian base that launched the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, and liberals are standing behind him.

Americans are coming together for the first time in support of President Trump’s decision to retaliate against Al Assad’s use of chemical warfare, but it was not enough. If President Trump wants America to be involved, we need to get wholeheartedly involved.

Assad has been assaulting civilian cities since the conflict started in 2012, and he’s showing no signs of stopping. Although President Trump said that we couldn’t let children being attacked with chemicals go unnoticed, they are the same children that he refused to let into this country. He even attempted to leave visa holders in the Middle East to deal with the conflict, instead of coming back to America.

But America retaliating only because of the chemical warfare says that we are OK with everything else he is doing, and I am not.

I am not disregarding the American lives, or other innocent lives that might be lost, if we went to war. But I believe with the few hundred lives that we might lose, we would stop Assad from taking thousands more. And, no one life is worth more than another.

I understand that it is our duty as Americans to protect Americans. But, furthermore, we are all humans, and I believe that it is also our duty to protect humanity and keep an entire culture from being wiped off the map.

America already had the highest military budget of all the world leaders. Then President Trump increased it when he got into office. Russia may be intimidating because they’re known to be tough, but their military doesn’t stack up to ours.

North Korea also continues to demonstrate that they are not a threat to us, because they haven’t been able to successfully launch anything.

But if America wants to go to war, we won’t be alone. Major powers such as France and Germany that were on opposite sides of the first two world wars are on the same side, and they’re all against Assad and terrorism.

It seems, at first glance, like it might be a cut and dry conflict, but it’s not.

In January 2012, protesters were marching in Aleppo when security officers fired the first shot, killing one man. The total death toll of the incident reached eight people. The rebels began to organize and their society collapsed. To muddy things up, Assad began releasing terrorists into the rebel groups to make it harder for other countries to back them.

The insurgents and terrorists broke off from the rebels and formed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Then, secretly, Under President Barak Obama, the United States and the CIA began training the Syrian rebels, and Russia started giving aid to Assad’s forces that were fighting the rebels.

I think it’s time for the United States to declare war on Assad, and the rest of the major world powers will join in against the terror of Russia, North Korea, and Assad.

BackTalk: Controversy develops around proposed wall

Build relationships, not borders

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Opinion Editor

With President Donald Trump wanting to build a wall, it is making the United States look like cowards.

A proposed wall between the United States and Mexico is one of the bigger controversies today. Many in the world say the United States of America is where dreams are made, the home of the brave, the land of the free, where opportunities are made. How will it be possible to make dreams if there is a wall put up around us? It shows we are scared and do not trust people. It will hurt more people than it will help.

Nearly 6,000 aliens have died trying to cross the Mexico-U.S. Border since 2000. Think about how much worse it could be if there is a wall put up to “prevent” them from entering the United States. It would kill hundreds, if not thousands, and possibly even more if the wall is put up. Aliens are entering the United States illegally already. If the entry to the United States was easier, they would not be entering illegally. It is about how hard it is to enter, not how hard you try to keep them out.

God said love your neighbor as you love yourself. We are not following God’s command by keeping everyone out. Just because a few terrorists have harmed the United States, that does not label everyone as a terrorist. People need a chance; everyone needs a chance.

President Trump is hiding behind his words. He is not facing the problem itself. He is just creating an even worse problem by talking about the wall. He is supposed to protect the citizens of the United States, as well as everyone who enters into it. If the wall is a problem just talking about it, think about how big the problem will escalate if there is a wall.

I know many may agree with the wall being built to “protect this country” or “to keep illegal aliens out.” That is not the way I believe it will work. If a wall goes up, it will make the United States a prime target for terrorists, because of the “they think they can keep us out, think again” mentality. It will be a challenge for terrorists, and everyone likes a good challenge. As for keeping the illegal aliens out, that will not keep them out. It might make it harder for them to enter the United States, but it will not prevent it. It will just harm and kill many more humans than the border already has.

We need to think about the future of our children and their children. It will tear families apart, harm them, and possibly even kill parts of their families. Many illegal aliens come this way to protect their families, to get them out of harm’s way, or to obtain a better life for them. It is too hard to legally enter the United States. That is why many are coming illegally. They need a quicker way to make their way into the United States. They do not need to be waiting for months or years to get a better life or protection for their families. They need a sanctuary. They need the United States to help them, not scare them.

We need to come together as a country and speak our minds about this issue. We need to love our neighbors. We need to take a stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. We do not need a wall.

Wall could enforce war against drugs

by DOMINICK PUENTE//Editorial Assistant

While creating a wall to separate the United States and Mexico is thought of as absurd or necessary by different groups of people, I believe creating the wall would help both countries.

Some groups call for a wall to be built in order to decrease the number of illegal aliens coming into the United States. I see the wall benefiting both countries as far as limiting the amount of drugs and money flowing back and forth.

I understand that building the wall is a way to limit illegal crossing into America. However, the war on drugs is taking a back seat in the debate. Yet it affects all parties in negative ways and continues to take lives and hurt people in both countries. Although limiting the amount of people crossing the border illegally is important, it is not the only point that should be discussed within the debate.

While marijuana has become more available in this country, the drug cartels are transporting chemically-engineered drugs such as methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine across the border. While the cartels make hundreds of millions of dollars flooding in these drugs, families and friends have to deal with loved ones overdosing on heroin and being imprisoned for pushing meth and cocaine to make some money for their next hit. Extra measures such as building a wall should be taken without thought to prevent these harmful chemicals from entering the streets.

Building a wall will not solve the overall problem with limiting the amount of drugs being pushed across the border. However, it will cut out a portion of the drugs while also limiting the income cartels receive.

For years, the cartels have been pushing drugs into the United States. As the years have gone by, the government has implemented technology to limit the drug flow. However, while the governments try to adapt to the new methods of drug smuggling, cartels continue to stay a step ahead of both the Mexican and American governments.

Establishing a wall will help in the defense against the war on drugs, along with ensuring the wall has a good amount of width and length to avoid tunneling for drug smugglers. While people side against the wall for personal reasons, drugs will continue to flood the streets and continue to cripple Americans.

If the wall is built, there will be a sure obstacle that cartels will have to consider, along with different variables of smuggling in drugs, such as the technologies and strategies that the United States Border Patrol implements. The more effort that is enforced to regulate and eliminate the drug trade will keep the streets safe, along with crippling the power of the cartels creating a safer lifestyle for the people of Mexico who are affected by the cartels.

With the wall built and drug traffic limited even more, drug abuse and sellers will decrease. The amount of crime and number of deaths will decline as well. While limiting drug flow, crime will become less common, including theft in order to pay for drugs.

Jails and prisons will be at a safer capacity, as the number of people who are faced with drug-related charges will decrease due to the lack of usual drug flow. Keeping the inmate count at a reasonable number will allow jails and prisons to run efficiently and keep the court system focused on more important issues and cases.

Death tolls will go down as well with the decline of overdoses and hallucinations that lead to death. Homicides will also decline with a limited amount of drugs flowing through the streets which influence turf wars within gangs.

Although building a wall will enrage a large number of people, it will help the streets stay clean of harsh drugs and keep cities and neighborhoods safe.

BackTalk: Reasoning behind current drinking age debated

Underage alcohol consumption detrimental to teen development

by TYLER YORK//Online Editor

Lowering the drinking age means blatantly ignoring a potential increase in traffic deaths and a severe decline in public safety.

The idea of reducing the drinking age from 21 to 18 has been hotly debated in this country. But in reality, the choice has already been made. Many intelligent minds have taken evidence into account that 21 years of age is a reasonable limit to set for alcohol consumption. But looking past that, there are several other important points that make a higher drinking age necessary.

Being cautious to lower the drinking age isn’t just a matter of puritanical values or “the man” keeping young adults down. But I can understand how many in their position could see it that way. We all know there are plenty of teens out there who consume alcohol regularly anyway, so what’s the difference, right? But there is a real concern, based on scientific research in countries that chose to reduce the drinking age, that doing so in the United States will result in more traffic deaths involving intoxicated minors.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has shown that around 900 lives are saved every year as a direct result of the current higher drinking age, meaning fewer traffic accidents involving underage drunk drivers. This statistic alone shows clearly that lowering the age limit means not only will there almost certainly be more fatal accidents involving young people, it will be even easier, and, in fact, legal, for them to acquire the substance that will lead to an early death.

A major argument in favor of reducing the drinking age is the idea that the current age limit is unfair, with so many other legal age limits set at the age of 18. Legally, this is the age when someone can be tried in court as an adult. It’s also the legal limit applied to several other activities, such as purchasing tobacco products, gambling, and registering to vote. Men turning 18 are even required by law to sign up for selective service in the military.

So many would ask: why is it fair to make the drinking age arbitrarily different than these other activities?

The truth is there is no magical threshold that, once crossed, a person automatically and officially becomes an adult. Each person matures differently, and our society does its very best to make attempts at setting up emergent adults for success. Young minds still have a lot of growing and developing to do, even up to the early-to-mid-20s. Alcohol, more so than other legal drugs, reacts with your body in a way that can be harmful to that development process. It can significantly impair the judgment centers of a much older adult, not to mention a teenager with parts of a brain that haven’t even completely matured yet.

I understand there are many teens nearing the 18-year-old mark who would likely prefer their rights to include legal booze. But there’s really no harm in waiting. And it’s clear to anyone who cares to look that there’s a great deal of harm in allowing alcohol use earlier than teens are capable of handling it.

Lowering drinking age causes fewer problems

by CHANISE RAY//Staff Writer

If being 18 makes you an adult in the public’s eyes, then that should be the legal drinking age.

As everyone knows, in some states in America, the legal drinking age is 21. However, it was not always this way. The legal drinking age some years ago was 18. It also so was the age required to vote and the age to get drafted into the United States Army.

However, that was a very long time ago. Some countries, such as Spain, Australia, and China, among others, have the legal drinking age of 18. Other countries, such as Italy, Germany, Switzerland, have a drinking age that is even lower, at just 16.

Countries with lower drinking ages allegedly have fewer instances of drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and less binge drinking, which is a big problem in America. Since alcohol is illegal to drink for people under 21, young adults have to obtain alcohol from parties, which usually happen on the weekends. Sometimes, when people get to those parties, they tend to drink a lot because they aren’t used to drinking alcohol. So they don’t know their limits. That can lead to black outs, alcohol poisoning, and even drunk driving. Teenagers always want what they cannot have. If you just let them have it, they won’t want it so much and all the time.

How are 18 year olds allowed to vote, go to war, and even go to college, which is especially stressful for me, but they are not allowed to go to a bar and drink a beer? Not that I am condoning stress drinking, but those are very grown-up things that people my age go through. Some people may say, “you’re only three years away, just wait your turn.” But, people forget how they were when they were this age. This wait seems too long for an 18-19 year old.

I am not old enough to drink. But, yes, I’ve tasted wine a few times, and I am not talking about just in church. Drinking is not essential for me in order to have fun at a party, but being as socially awkward as I am, it does help. Since 18 year olds are not legally allowed to drink, they usually binge drink at parties or other events that they want to have fun at. This is especially harmful to the body, because it could cause alcohol poisoning and long-term liver damage. In other countries, teenagers can get alcohol all the time, so there is no reason for binge drinking. I do think hard liquor is too mature for someone my age. I think the drinks with less alcohol should be legal for teenagers. Most adults don’t drink them anyway, so someone has to.

Overall, the legal drinking age should be lowered for many reasons, but mostly to teach moderation. Once you are able to have something, you stop wanting it all the time. At least that is what happens to me. My nanna always tells me, “I just like to drink whiskey before bed to go to sleep, ” and “I won’t drink any other time.” She’s about 80 something, so I think she’s doing pretty well, and she started drinking at a very young age. Maybe one day America will get with the program and follow in the footsteps of Italy, bringing the drinking age down for good.

BackTalk: Choosing between children, pets sparks debate


Having children more fulfilling than just pets

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Opinion Editor

From your first ultrasound, to their first words, watching your baby grow up to be a young man or woman is a greater blessing than seeing your puppy grow up.

I am all for having pets. I even have a few myself. But the thought of having children when I get older is far better than anything else I could imagine. Children are a blessing sent from God himself.

I have worked with children as long as I can remember, and nothing brings me the same amount of joy as children. Children can bring a sense of pride to your life, and they can bring infinite amounts of love. For a woman, that first touch with your baby is something incredible.

Children are far more incredible than animals. If you have children, yes, one should consider getting a pet, because that bond between a child and their pet could be inseparable. But that bond cannot be made without a child.

I do not have any children, but I do plan to have four later in my life. After I graduate from college and settle down, I can’t wait for the day I become pregnant. The thought of being able to hold a beautiful baby in my arms after hours of labor is something I believe every woman should experience.

You can always hold a puppy or a kitten, but I do not believe it will give the same feeling as holding a child would. A puppy or kitten can’t hold your finger like a child can. It won’t ever be able to say their first words, such as “momma” or “dada.” You cannot teach it to ride a bike or read. You would miss out on incredible opportunities one would have with a child.

With children, you can do so many things. Not only can you do physical things, such as teaching them how to ride a bike, walk, or even play a sport, but you obtain a feeling in you that will never fade. It’s a feeling of love, protection, and the feeling of fear. but in the best way.

No one can really prepare you for the actual act of becoming a father or a mother, like one can prepare for having a dog. You can get everything right and everything you need, yet still be insanely nervous. Because what if your baby doesn’t like you, or you might not know how to hold them? Then the dreaded question, what if I’m not fit to be a parent? That is just something that comes with the territory of being a new parent. But it will come to you, and you will soon realize that there is no greater act than becoming a parent.

Think about holding your baby for the first time, filming their first steps, watching them graduate from pre-k, high school, and college, and one day maybe walking your daughter down the aisle to her future husband. You will not be able to do that if you only have a pet. You might teach the animal a few tricks, and, yes, it will love you. But it will not have the same effect on you as having a child would.

Kids take backseat to top dogs, fat cats

by SERGIO MADRID//Editorial Assistant

Raising a pet is no walk in the park. But it beats changing diapers.

Face it, kids get spoiled. They pout and cry about every little thing. But with a simple treat, dogs will sit, stay, speak, and pretty much do anything your training capabilities can muster.

Children are picky. They don’t like this food. They hate that toy. Sometimes they hate you. OK, maybe they didn’t mean it, but they said it.

You just cooked dinner, but now you’re ordering pizza, all because they threw a fit and put their plate in the trash. A dog would never do that. In fact, a dog will eat your trash, leaving you with one less chore to do.

Let’s not forget about those stinky diapers. And who could resist that harmonic shriek? You almost fell asleep that time.

With a dog, all you have to do is potty train for about a month, or possibly get a doggy door to save yourself time and effort. Who would dare do such a thing? Wouldn’t you rather buy diapers for three to four years? After that, you might as well just resort to buying brown underwear.

Don’t even get me started on feeding those animals. And I’m talking about babies.

Whether you’re making bottles or breast-feeding, it’s a hassle. It’s nowhere near as simple as pouring dog food into a bowl.

You can’t take your baby for a walk like you can a dog. You need to buy a stroller, take a diaper bag with you, and make friends with other moms, because all your single friends are too busy being single and childless. And all the other moms want to do is talk about their kids and how much better they are than yours.

Puppies don’t have to be told when or what to eat. And they aren’t helpless, because they are fine walking on their own. Kids need swimming lessons.

If you’re thinking of bypassing the baby stage and just adopting, you’ve obviously never seen “the Omen.”

Kids are creepy. They have imaginary friends, and talk to themselves. Those aren’t good signs. For all you know, you could be raising the next Charles Manson. Think of how many lives you could be saving by getting a pet instead.

Of course, pets don’t come without faults of their own. They might get into your trash. It needed to be taken out anyway.

They may even dig holes all over your backyard. Man was put on the earth to turn the soil. They’re just helping you out.

Maybe they chew up your shoes, keep you up all night with their barking, or even cough up the occasional hairball.

If you take time to really think about it, those shoes weren’t for you, and your dog knew it. Trust me when I say, that squirrel is up to no good. I’m thinking possible ties with ISIS. And that hairball, come on. First one this hour.

The point is, this behavior is all out of love. Pets are simple, nonmaterialistic animals. Give a pup a little training, a little love, and you’ve got yourself not just a baby, but a best friend.

Cats are even easier, which is why I didn’t even bother bringing them up until now. A ball of yarn, a litter box, and a tray full of kibble is all you need for a cat.

But when it comes to children, you reach a point where you realize how much you love them. And you think it couldn’t possibly get any better. Then it happens. Puberty hits, and they turn into the real monsters. You know the beast I speak of…. Teenagers!

BackTalk: Differences between sexes generates debate

Emotional intuition gives women sizeable advantage

by HANNAH NELSON // Staff Writer

There is a constant battle between the sexes. Boys and girls are always going to be compared to one another.

There are things that boys and girls do very different. However, there are a few things that females are prone to be better at than guys.

One of the first things that girls are known to be better at than guys is asking for help. It is a classic example  that guys will never stop to ask for directions. However, in general, females are better at asking for help when needed. Women are more likely to understand that, in some circumstances, help is necessary. Men tend to see asking for help as admitting that they are inferior to someone else, or that asking for directions makes men ignorant.

This is not the case when it comes to women, typically. Asking for help, for example asking for directions, is not a sign of weakness or ignorance. It is a way to overcome obstacles that are in the way. Asking for help also allows you to get things done the right way. Allowing someone with the knowledge you are seeking to help will keep you from doing something the wrong way or getting the wrong information. Girls see this better than guys, and, therefore, are better at getting help. This could indicate that women gets things done the right way more than men do, since we accept help from others.

Another thing that most women are better at than men is compassion. This could be due to the fact that females have an instinctive motherly nature. We are more susceptible to aspects of emotion. This is why compassion, empathy, and many other types of emotional characteristics come through in women more than men. As part of the motherly insight, women tend to recognize the emotions of others. With these insights, females generally have the initiative to try to help the person who is dealing with a specific feeling. Genetically, women are going to use their motherly instincts to aid their compassion. Males, on the other hand, do not have the genetic incentive.

Lastly, females tend to live longer lives than males. Overall, females have a longer life expectancy than males. This could be caused by a variety of things. Females are living healthier lives than males, having a lower level of stress, or tending to make smarter life decisions with their health. There is a larger population of older females in the world than there are men in the United States. Everybody wants to live a long life, and, statistically, woman have a better chance at it than men do.  This is a very big factor that makes women better than men.

Despite the differences in gender, girls and boys are both equal, and not every person is the same. However, these are just a few examples of things girls typically are better at than guys. Women get things done better, are more compassionate, and live longer lives. These are a few things that make females the better sex.

Men interact, resolve conflict more easily

by DOMINICK PUENTE // Editorial Assistant

The great debate of which gender is better, simpler, and overall less complicated is an ongoing conversation that has been talked about for years.

However, the males are easily the most simplistic gender of the two.

For males, we make things simple not only for the benefit of ourselves, but the benefit of everyone around us.

If asked a question, I do not take 30 minutes debating and then leave the topic for other suggestions. It can be as simple as choosing a place to eat or a place to go.

Every time I ask a female where she would like to go or where to do something, the response is always, “I don’t know,” or “I always choose, you pick,” when in truth, the guy has always chosen what to do.

Guys do not have problems making the decision, but the rules of a gentleman always call for the man to ask for suggestions or preferences. But getting complicated answers, or being answered with another question, gets old and frustrating.

Therefore, males get a point for being better, because being simple and straight to the point usually ends better for both parties.

Females have that assumption that every guy is out to sleep with their best friend, or is always keeping girls around behind the scenes.

My understanding is not all guys are the same. If a male stumbles across a girl who cannot be loyal or is not fully committed, he has a pretty clear idea of who to avoid so as not to encounter the same problem again.

Girls constantly post pictures or rants talking about how they cannot find the right guy who will not do things behind their backs or will treat them right. You would think that the girl would do some self-evaluating to find similarities within the wrong guys she has been in relationships with to avoid a reoccurring problem.

But that is never the case. The posts keep flooding everyone’s feeds, and eventually everyone concludes that she simply has horrible taste in relationships.

No guy ever goes to social media and his friends to say all girls are the same. If that is the case, something is legitimately wrong with the guy. I have never met a male who constantly rants that females are the same and he cannot find anyone who is different. If you get that reply, you are not looking hard enough.

In the male’s favor is the ability to stay calm and not flip a switch and become crazy in an argument or “heated discussion.”

A guy has no problem confronting a female about problems between each other, talking through it and being civil.

I have encountered countless confrontations with a female when I would like to talk about things between the female and I and it ends with her screaming, being dramatic, crying, or all the above, with the occasional 50 questions toward, me because she wants to know why I did this to her, though I have no clue what I did exactly.

Guys are willing to discuss a lot of things to improve a relationship with a female.

But if she engages the male and he has a compelling response to the discussion, he might have ended everything between them.

Females love to make lists of things that are wrong, but will not listen to reason or an explanation about the topic. Again, points for males due to being able to reason, and being able to listen to it.

Males are more friendly and approachable with their own gender as well. A guy can approach another guy and just start talking and being friendly about anything. However, a female usually is not up to just talking to another girl, unless she is bored. Females will not leave their circle of friends unless forced to, or accidentally stumble upon another girl with similar interests.

Along with that, if two males have problems and think fighting is the solution, both males can continue being friends after the confrontation. Giving each other space and time will eventually solve the previous problems, and both males will carry on being friends or at least remain acquaintances.

With females, if a problem arises between two girls, neither of them will talk to the other for the rest of their lives unless it is necessary. Even then, words might be exchanged, or fists will be swinging.

Ruining a relationship between two women will never be resolved after the first argument or fight. Even after the argument or fight, both girls would rather jump off a bridge than try to become friends again or cross each other’s paths.

Females tend to have a short fuse, with the ability to become hostile in a matter of seconds because of the smallest things.

These are just a few reasons why males are a better, simple, and more understanding gender than females.

Citizens deserve fair health care coverage

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Opinion Editor

Donald Trump is going to take away the one thing that is keeping Americans afloat.

If Obamacare is repealed, it will leave millions of families without affordable health care. Obamacare has impacted families, senior citizens, college students, and women.

This health care helps senior citizens pay less for Medicare coverage and for their prescription drugs. It has also helped many Americans to receive free contraceptives, mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol tests. Obamacare has even helped small business employers to make sure they are not slapped with outrageous premiums.

Since before President Trump’s election, he has vowed to repeal Obamacare as quickly as he can. He has kept his promise by signing an executive order to start the process of repealing Obamacare.Instead of rushing into something that might cost Americans their future in healthcare benefits, he needs to stop and realize the impact it can have on the American family.

Repealing Obamacare would likely result in having higher premiums, as well as deductibles for millions of senior citizens and disabled Americans who are enrolled in the program. It will also bring back Medicare’s infamous “donut hole,” which was when there was a temporary limit on what the drug plan would cover for prescription drugs. The gap starts when a limit is reached for a certain amount for covered drugs. Obamacare was said to be able to eliminate that gap completely by 2020. Obamacare was made for the people of America to enable them to feel stable in their health care coverage.

This health law has reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans and improved benefits for people enrolled. Studies by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office have shown that repealing Obamacare would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over 10 years.

Medicare enrollees under Obamacare receive free screenings for breast and colorectal cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Repealing this would make those benefits disappear, leaving Americans without that safety net.

Obamacare has also provided millions of women with health services. Obamacare has ensured that women get equal health care rights to improve women’s health services. To be exact, it has given 47 million women access to definite preventive women’s health services. It gave women the benefits to get free wellness visits and protected them against gender discrimination. Obamacare provided screenings, domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling, and FDA-approved contraceptive methods, among many other services. Taking Obamacare away would not be good for women in America.

Trump has also planned to defund Planned Parenthood, because of the abortion factor. People need to realize that abortions are not what Planned Parenthood is about. It gives millions of low-income men and women something to lean on for reproductive health services, education, and information. Planned Parenthood services include adoption, birth control, men’s sexual health, sexual orientation counseling, women’s health, and many others. Obamacare expanded funding to Planned Parenthood. Eliminating Obamacare could very well leave men and women of all races nowhere to turn to.

Obamacare is not a bad thing, like some make it out to be. It has numerous benefits to the health care act. President Trump needs to take a step back to look at how repealing Obamacare will affect our country and the people who live in it.

BackTalk: Affordable Care Act not practical for Americans

by STACY JOHNSON//Editorial Assistant

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a law contentious enough to cease the operation of the United States government, as we saw in 2013.

Was this an overreaction by headstrong partisan leaders, or an attempt to save the people of our country from an ineffective policy that amounts to little more than extortion by government and leaders of industry?

I believe that basic medical care is a necessity for the success of both individuals and society as a whole.  In a country as prosperous as the United States, it is something that every citizen deserves equal access to, regardless of income level.  This is why I am in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) and replacing it with a system that actually serves to achieve that goal.

Most of us recognize “Obamacare” as a government program intended to provide health insurance to people who would otherwise be financially unable to see a doctor.  Those who qualify for a subsidy can receive health insurance at a discounted rate.  Eligible Americans pay a portion of their monthly premium, and the U.S. government picks up the tab for the remainder.  The mandate incentivizes participation by requiring uninsured individuals to pay a penalty on their federal income taxes.

While the program has successfully decreased the number of uninsured Americans, health insurance does not equal health care—it’s an important distinction to make.  Indigent and self-pay discount programs offered by counties and health care providers most often require patients to be uninsured in order to participate.  The impossibly high deductibles levied by the low-cost bronze plans give the poorest of Americans a choice between becoming insured and losing access to these programs, then going without health care when they are unable to meet their deductible, or remaining uninsured and paying an increasingly hefty fee to the government come tax time.

Speaking of the poorest Americans, in order to be eligible for the subsidy, a person must make more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, regardless of whether he or she is employed.  That’s right—you can be too poor to receive low-income assistance, even if you’re working.  People living below the poverty level receive no assistance, not in spite of their financial situation, but because of it.  Aren’t these the very people the health care law was intended to benefit the most?

Medicaid is there for those who earn too little to qualify for a subsidy, but Texas—the country’s second most populous state—is one of 19 states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs, a provision that was made completely optional under the health care law.  Texas, in particular, has some of the most stringent eligibility requirements in the country.

In order to qualify for Medicaid in Texas, one must not only demonstrate financial need, but must also be pregnant, or be older than 65, have at least one dependent child, or be either disabled or have a household member who is disabled.  The “Medicaid coverage gap,” as it is commonly known, is a real problem for underemployed and unemployed Texans.

Is all health insurance created equally?  Those who can afford to spring for a silver plan with a more reasonable deductible face other issues.  While it’s typical for insurers to negotiate what they pay out to medical providers, plans offered through the subsidized health insurance exchange reimburse significantly less than what a full-price insurance plan would.  As a result, many providers are refusing to accept the subsidized plans entirely.  This limits patient options, overburdens participating medical professionals, and increases wait times to ludicrous and sometimes dangerous levels.  Emergency rooms serve to merely stabilize patients with life-threatening conditions and refer them to the appropriate provider or specialist.

Government-mandated health insurance unnecessarily inflates the cost of medical care for everyone, skirting the natural effects of the free market.  I feel that we can reign in inflated health care costs and provide timely medical attention to those in need by repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a free market system.

Truly affordable and readily available health care is social progress.  But before we can make progress, we need to be willing to admit that our current solution is a part of the problem.