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First Ever Publication!

Are our Political Parties Hurting America?

Is Revolutionay Fracking Technology the Energy Future?

How Does Facebook Rekindle Old Friendships?


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Dear ISSUE reader, It gives me a great thrill to think that, when you read this page, you are among the first to join the readership of ISSUE magazine. I sincerely hope that you enjoy the read and find the subjects enjoyable. It is the goal of ISSUE, and every one of the staff members, to provide engaging and informative news and event reporting. I hope that you enjoy as much as I do hearing the diverse opinions offered by our writers on topics ranging from education and energy policy to the social effects of Facebook and international relations with Iran. I hope that you find some opinions that you agreed with, and some that you would argue with. One way or another I hope that you become engaged in some of the stories in this magazine. It has been a great pleasure to work with all writers and to hear their opinions. I particularly enjoyed the lively discussion that was generated while Making the Grade was being written. Two of our writers had a significant difference of opinion on the subject of education in America. This was a subject that they saw from a unique perspective, being students, and both felt very passionately, but in opposite directions. This provides a very interesting analysis of the education system, and the debate surrounding it. I found the story Facebook: How Facebook is Rekindling Old Relationships to be an interesting anecdote that runs counter to popular criticism of social media and left me with a feeling that the social media generation receives great benefits from the technology and we aren’t just rotting our brains. Strike First, Strike Hard, focused on potential conflict with Iran, opened my eyes to the opinion of others. I personally believe in the peaceful resolution of problems, but the arguments presented in that story gave me understanding of the opposing view, even if not belief. The story The Election Arena provided me with vital information on how partisan politics works, and helped me to be more cautious when listening to political speech. The report of hydraulic fracturing, The Power Behind Fracking, educated me about a technology that I had not heard of, but has great effects on our daily lives. It also helped me to think critically about energy policy and the potential effects of our need for fuel. I found all of the articles to be informing and interesting, and hope that you will too.

Enjoy,

ISSUE Editors

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Contents The Power behind Hydraulic Fracking 5 The Facts about Fracking 9 The Election Arena 11 Myth or Fact? 16 Get Up and Gizmo 17 Facebook 19 Strike First, Strike Hard 23 Making the Grade: 26 America VS The World 27 The New Average 29

Making the Grade On the news The U.S. needs a change in education standards, but do they need to be raised or lowered? ISSUE writers Dhruv Puri and Audrey Lewis give their contrasting opinions on this prevalent topic.

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The Power behind Hydraulic Fracking

ISSUE writer Daniel Weinberg tackles the issue of Hydraulic Fracking. Hydraulic Fracking could relive the world of its energy problems. But Hydraulic has been accused of crimes, ranging from earthquakes and groundwater polution.

The Election Arena

Political Parties have had a huge impact on the United States of America. ISSUE writer Audrey Lewis interviews Representitive to the Texas State Legislature Donna Howard on her experience involing Party Politics.


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Audrey Lewis: Audrey is a passionate theater and robotics nerd. First impressions reveal her to be talkative, goofy, and ridiculously tall. She’s known for being one of the most pedantic people in the freshmen class, and for being the only student on the faculty page of the yearbook. She is also, at 6’1”, the tallest girl in the school. As an active member of Alley Cat Players drama club and LASA Robotics, Audrey doesn’t have much free time, but when she does, she enjoys swimming and spending more time than she is comfortable admitting playing video games.

Dhruv Puri: Dhruv is a studious young man who is enjoying his time at LASA. He likes the rigorous curriculum and has always wanted a challenge. He is currently a competitive member of LASA quiz bowl, a general knowledge competition. He also participates in Science Olympiad, a national specified science contest. He plays the violin and is an active member of the LASA Camerata Orchestra. When he has free time he enjoys watch thrillers and playing on his computer. He enjoys reading Dystopian and Science Fiction Literature.

Daniel Weinberg: Daniel is a studious young man who has his sights set on a Harvard education. He has a passion for Baseball, and loves to play the Clarinet. He has a knack for math and enjoys abstract scientific content. He is an extraordinary individual to sit down and have a pleasent conversation with.

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The Power Behind

Hydraulic Fracking By

8 ISSUE SPRING 2012

Daniel Weinberg


W

ith the stories of contaminated water, polluted air, and even freak earthquakes, the news media has cast fracking, a technique used to extract natural gas from previously unusable sources, as a plague on America. However there are many parts of the story that the media chooses to ignore. This revolutionary new technology is responsible for a massive expansion in domestic energy and may be powering our economy for many decades to come.

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The issue of fracking has recently exploded into the public perception. Even though fracking in its modern form has been used since the late nineties, a rapid increase in its prevalence has catapulted it into the national spotlight. Many environmental groups have raised concerns about the possibility for adverse environmental effects, but the industry has remained adamant that the technology is safe. The nation will probably have to deal with fracking in some from no matter what. The prevalence of fracking has changed America from an importer to an exporter of natural gas. This technology may well be the future of domestic energy, and is safer that the public may think. There are two major environmental risks associated with fracking, water contamination and air pollution. Air pollution comes mostly from the trace components of the extracted gas that are released into the atmosphere during drilling according to professor Ian Duncan, a program director at the Bureau of Economic Geology at UT Austin

and an expert on environmental geology. “Pretty much all natural gas contains a certain small amount of a compound called benzene, ... and benzene is a carcinogen that can lead to leukemia amongst other things.” He says. And benzene is not the only gas of concern. Dr. Duncan also mentions compounds like toluene, and xylene. All of those compounds have various toxic effects ranging from cancers and birth defects to organ damage in acute doses. These leaks of trace components of natural gas are not the only source of air pollutants either. The process of fracking and then later the compression of natural gas for transport requires large diesel compression engines, and “There are also compounds that are rather nasty that form from the exhaust of diesel compression engines, … one is called formaldehyde,” says Dr Duncan. Formaldehyde is most commonly known for its use in preserving biology specimens, and as Dr. Duncan says, “You don’t want to be preserved.” However alarming this may

sound there is one important fact to keep in mind. The drilling is not taking place in pristine land. There are many emitters of air pollution all around everyone everyday. Dr. Duncan said, “One of the problems with determining what air pollution is coming from natural gas is a large amount of pollution comes from automobile exhaust, [and other urban sources].” In fact urban sources produce so much air pollution that they drown out the signature of gas drilling. Even when detailed air quality studies were conducted, and the blood levels of these chemicals were taken in a large group of individuals it was determined that the only thing that was being measured was whether or not a person smoked, and how long it had been since their last cigarette. “It turns out that you are getting almost and order of magnitude more of this stuff from smoking than you would for anything else,” said Dr. Duncan, who has looked at the results of that and other studies. Air pollution, it seems, is hard to quantify as pollution caused

Annual Barrnet shale natural gas preduction by well type 2000 1500

Horizontal Wells

Vertical Wells

1000 500

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2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

0 1997

Source: US Energy Information Agency

billion cubic feet (Bcf )

The initial rapid expantion of drilling in the Barrnet shale can be seen to come from conventional vertical drilling. However from arround 2004 on horizontal drilling coupled with hydraulic fracking has been responsible for the continued expantion of production, and has in fact displaced conventional drilling due to its greater profitablity.


Thirty percent of the water wells are contaminated ..., probably not from Fracking by drilling, partly because of the immense volume of the atmosphere, but one would expect that with water pollution would be easier to point a finger at polluters. Not so says Dr Duncan. “We have not gotten any evidence from groundwater that definitively shows that shale gas drilling has contaminated it,” He says, all but quoting the words that have been a mantra for the industry through the recent controversy. That is not to say that no pollution has occurred as an indirect consequence of the drilling. During the fracking process large volumes of fracking fluid are stored on site in a pond, and after fracking is done there are large volumes of waste to be disposed of. Several problems arise from this situation. There are some cases where heavy rains flooded storage ponds and burst the retention structures allowing large amounts of fracking fluid to wash into local steams and rivers. There are also cases of clear cut misconduct by contractors hired by gas companies. Dr. Duncan relates one story. “There’re some examples … where contaminated water was taken by a company that turned out to be not very reputable. They got paid a significant amount of money to dispose of it in a waste site, but they just dumped it in the nearest river.” One may wonder about the reported claims of landholders about how they discovered contamination of their water wells

soon after a fracking company began nearby operations. The answer may lie in Pennsylvania’s unique stance on regulation of personal water wells. All other states (except Alaska) have regulation that require a standard of construction of water wells. “In Pennsylvania there is no regulation at all [on water wells], it’s like the wild west out there,” Says Dr. Duncan. This, combined with the natural geology of the area allows for any chemicals naturally in the ground to come up through wells, without fracking being involved at all. “Somewhere between five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty five, thirty percent of the water wells are contaminated with something there, probably not from hydraulic fracturing,” Says Dr Duncan. It is hard to tell though because of a lack of accurate data on the wells before fracking began, but the general level of contamination in wells that were supposedly polluted by fracking matches the levels in the rest of the area. There is one effect that fracking definitively has on the environment, and it is the one that is the most disturbing to most Americans. There is definitive proof that fracking can cause earthquakes. A USGS report published in August 2011 reported, “There is a clear correlation between the time of hydraulic-fracturing and the observed seismicity.” Since then there have been other links made between fracking and earthquakes, and even some laws Cont. Pg. 32

1000 ft

2000 ft

3000 ft

4000 ft

5000 ft

6000 ft

The distance of more than a mile that seperates the fracking opperations from any groundwater and the surface. This helps to decrease the possibility that any groundwater pollution will happen.

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The Facts about Fracking Text and Illustrations by Daniel Weinberg

1

3

Freshwater Aquifer

2

The first step in the process is to build a drilling platform above the gas rich formation 1 , then the drillers drill down to just past the watertable and stop 2 . The drill bit is then removed and a steel casing is lowered and then filled with concrete 3 to prevent and contamination of the water. This process leaves a concrete plug over the end of the well bore that will have to be drilled out before drilling can continue.

2

3

Fa ul t 1

Upwelling

Gas-Bearing Shale

Once the drill is at the correct depth called the “kick-off point” 1 the normal bit is removed and a special bit is inserted. This bit will allow the rig to drill a curve longwise into the shale formation. When the drill has drilled through the fromation the end is sealed and a pipe is inserted called the “Perfgun” 2 . This tube uses explosives to perferate the surrounding rock to allow for the fracking 3 . 12 ISSUE SPRING 2012


Gas-Bearing Shale Fractured Rock

3

1

2

Fracking Fluid

When one section of the well has been perfed the next step is to frack it 1 . High presure fluid is forced down the well and fractures the shale as it exits the holes left by the perfgun. The fluid is mostly sand and water, but also contains chemicals to aid the process. When an area has been fracked it is then sealed 2 to stop the gas from flowing too soon. After the seal is in place the perfing and fracking is repeated on the next segment 3 . 2

3

1

Once all fracking opperations have been completed the seals on each section are drilled out 1 aallowing gas to flow. The drill head is removed, and a permantent wellhead, storage, and compression facilities are installed 2 . Lastly a pipline may be built 3 to connect the well to a larger pipline network.

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The Election Arena By

14 ISSUE SPRING 2012

Audrey Lewis


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A

Corinna Whiteaker-Lewis, a local Independent, votes in the Austin mayoral elections.

s one enters the starspangled office of LASA government teacher Mr. Risinger, looking up will reveal the familiar, smiling face of Mr. Bill from School House Rock. But there’s one topic those informative shorts never addressed, the uncomfortable truth of the US modern governmental system: political parties. This election year, it may be time to reevaluate their contributions to the US political system. Whether one talks to a Democratic representative or a high school civics teacher, there’s one clear advantage of political parties, and that is the simplicity they lend to elections. They make voting easy, because a voter knows if a candidate belongs a particular party, they believe in certain things. “It’s kind of a shortcut to knowing what people stand for,” says Rep. Donna Howard, a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives. “If you have a party that has certain values they adhere to, and a candidate is running with that party, 16 ISSUE SPRING 2012

you can make certain assumptions.” She says there is another benefit greater than this “shortcut”, though. The representative states it’s easier to pass a bill if the whole party supports it, and not just a single representative. “[The party system] allows people to support things as a group, so they can have more of a critical mass in trying to affect change,” she explains. This same unity of beliefs within parties has a dark side, though. Both parties project very strong beliefs about certain subjects, and the moderate views within the party are not always heard. “You can’t have a range of ways to express different values,” Howard says. “The people who are most passionate about party politics are the ones that come to conventions where platforms are voted on. So you have the people who are most extreme about something establishing the litmus test for a party.” One of the biggest contributions to this polarization, she says, is re-

districting. The tedious process of redefining what part of the state each congressmen represents is done every ten years, and does not promote moderation. “Most of our districts are drawn to protect political parties,” Howard says. “There’s very few districts that are truly up for grabs. When you have people elected out of districts that are solidly one party, there’s less of a desire to be bipartisan.” As one of the few congressmen representing a divided district, Howard has spearheaded many bipartisan efforts in her time in the Texas House. Risinger, a civics teacher at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, is a local Republican activist, and he agrees that competition between parties only leads to trouble. “Anything that makes my opponent look bad is good for me, even it contradicts positions that [I took] earlier,” he explains, imitating what he feels is common politician reasoning. “You almost have to come away with the position that all


political parties end up ultimately being hypocrites,” he says. The few views that stay constant in a party end up contributing to another problem with the system:

always true for her party. “The Democrats haven’t done a very good job defining themselves, so the stereotypes are what first comes to mind for a lot of

out of the 52 votes cast, I only one by four.” Howard feels that something that got young people more involved and willing to vote would

Republican and Democratic States based on 2008 election results

stereotypes. Both Howard and Risinger agree that the stereotypes of their parties don’t represent all of their members. “You have the stereotype that everybody’s, you know, white Bible-thumping radicals that are smuggling a machine gun in their back pocket, and that’s pretty out there,” he says. “The Democratic party’s platform is pretty liberal, so if you’re conservative at all you have to vote for the Republican party.” But even if the stereotypes are exaggerated, they are at least getting the party’s message out in the public. Howard says this is not

people,” she explains. Fortunately, not all the stereotypes are bad. “The Democratic party is seen as the party that represents the minorities, that represents the poor and the unions and the human rights issues.” As for how to prevent stereotypes and the other disadvantages of party system, both activists agreed. “Whenever anybody says your vote doesn’t count, I can say ‘nuh-uh! Not true!” explains Rep. Howard. As one of the only representatives with an up-forgrabs district, what she has gained in bipartisanship, she has lost in election risks. “In the last election,

be a good idea. “I wish there was something that got the students engaged on a more regular basis,” she says. Risinger agrees. “I don’t think that most other schools are able to have the depth of discussion that are necessary to truly understand the issues,” he says. The key to understanding political parties is education, he says. “[Don’t] be deceived by powerful convincing people… actually educate yourself.”

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Myth or Fact? By

Audrey Lewis

1. The majority of Republicans consider themselves religous.

1. The majority of Democrats consider themselves nonreligious

2. Most Republicans don’t believe same-sex marriages should be recognized by law

2. Most Democrats support the legalizing of same-sex marriage

3. College graduates are less likely to vote republican. 4. About 9 out of 10 Republicans are white. 5. Over half of the nation’s “1%” identify strongly as Repulican.

3. Most young voters (18-24 years old) identify as Democrats 4. Most Democrats aren’t white. 5. Most Democrats are female. 6. Most Democrats aren’t married. 7. Over a third of Democrats are college-educated.

Can You Tell These People’s Political Parties Just By Looking At Them?

AnswersPg. 33 18 ISSUE SPRING 2012


CROSSWORD

ACROSS

DOWN

1. Wilde’s Academy 5. The Bringer of ___ 6. Florence’s River 11. The Red Pill 12. Piece of Work 13. Cable’s Bane 15. Sweetheart 17. Temujin 18. Sweetheart 20. 98 mph from 5’11’’ 21. Org. For a Big Apple Cop

2. Digging Cards 3. Popular Beverage 4. “All for One and One for All” 7. Enemy of a Medici 8. Where Sad Trash Collectors Gather 9. Elliot’s Masterpiece 10. Satre’s Entrance 14. Hot Bits of Physics 16. Calvin’s Parent’s Main Grocery 19. 2400 Score

Answers Pg. 33 SPRING 2012 ISSUE 19


BY Dhruv

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Puri


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H

ow does an internet website rekindle the bonds between friends that haven’t contacted each other in years? Ask Severin O., a freshman at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, who renewed his relationship with a long lost camper. Or you could ask Jill Fowler, a substitute for Austin Independent School District, who connected with a close friend from art class in high school. For the past 8 years Facebook has been rekindling relationships worldwide with its easy to use interface and wide user population. Severin was on Facebook one day when he friended his old friend Justice, a fellow camper from the nature center. “We were both taking camps over at the nature center, and we bonded through those camps because neither of us knew anybody,” said Severin. “It was about a couple months ago that I got a friend request from him. I accepted it and we just kind of caught up through Facebook.” Severin talked with Justice about whether they were going to see each other again, and if they were going back to the nature center for camp in the following year. “It was really sentimental because I’d kind of forgotten about him,” said Severin. “Even though it was so long ago, I remembered how close we were back then.” Although the relationship wasn’t at its peak, Severin

and Justice kept in touch and had the occasional chat. “It’s like you’re just trying to keep our friendship alive,” Severin said. Facebook’s recreation of their relationship has cause has had a permanent effect on Severin. “It has definitely made me think about how deep friendship goes because you know I hadn’t seen him in years and just reconnecting on Facebook we really just hit it off. We picked up right where we left off. It reminded me how powerful friendship is and how it is hard to lose,” he said. Facebook supplied a easily accessible medium for communication between Severin and Justice. Communication was hard for them because they went to different schools, and lived on opposite sides of Austin. “Facebook has made this connection a lot easier,” said Severin. However there are issues with Facebook, Severin admitted. “I think it has definitely made inter connectivity between people way easier but I also think it has made it a lot less formal then it meeting in any other form,” he said. “I have several hundred friends on Facebook, but I don’t hang out with all of them. I think though Facebook has connected people it just isn’t as powerful as meeting in person.” There are many others like Severin who have

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so artistic. He posts beautiful sunsets on the lake, I mean I just want to get home every day just to see what he has posted.” But the relationship wasn’t the same, to Jill Facebook had not only recreated but engendered something new in the relationship that could only come with time. “It’s like the friendship is at a whole different level that we had never had before because we were too young to even know what was going on,” she said. “What he is thinking, just adds a dimension to a conversation that you don’t get with many people.” T h o u g h Facebook has created a strong bond between Jill and Steve, according to Jill it isn’t always the case. “ S o m e really good friends have disappointed me. I mean I’m sure their lives are busy, but it’s just that I have reached out a couple of times and though we had great friendships when they were face to face it’s like I get a cursory email here and there and happy birthday and stuff like that,” she said. Still, Jill says the pros outweigh the cons in term of Facebook. Jill says “Facebook definitely makes me stop and think more just cuz I’m seeing his perspective and I really do wish he wasn’t all the way in south Texas, just a little closer than 5 hours away. I don’t know what my life would’ve been like without Facebook reconnecting Steve and I.” Photo Taken by Dhruv Puri

connected through Facebook. Jill Fowler, a substitute teacher for Austin Independent School District, reconnected with her old high school friend, Steve Rogers. She met Steve on the high school Facebook page for Alumni. “Well after high school you don’t remember anybody else anymore, and you just concentrate on your life. And then when you get old you start to go ‘oh I wonder what happened to all those people’ and I started to follow the high school webpage. That’s where I got into Facebook and I did a search for people who were visiting the alumni website which is where Steve was and so I sent him the friend request and I was just so happy I could connect back up with him again,” Jill said. Jill and Steve reconnected through Facebook and their new relationship had begun. However there was a bump, Jill had forgotten Steve completely. “Well strangely enough for the first few years of college no really pays attention to high school and for person that had blocked out high school for a long time I had to go look him up in the yearbook as I couldn’t remember which face was Steve from 20-30 years,” said Jill. “So I looked him up and I remembered who he was.” That was the moment when their friendship truly had been rekindled. Conversations about the past were soon to follow. “I started looking at his life. He has been married and divorced and has 2 puppies, and now lives out around the edge of a lake,” she said. “His posts are just


Making the Grade

The U.S. needs a change in education standards, but do they need to be raised or lowered? ISSUE writers Dhruv Puri and Audrey Lewis give their contrasting opinions.

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Education: BY Dhruv

Puri

T

he United States is regarded as the Land Of Opportunity, the world industrial leader, and the Home of the Brave. It is said to shine from sea to shining sea. However, does America have the education standards to retain these titles? According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, recent international test scores show that American students aren’t even ranked among the top 10 countries globally. They are ranked 20th in Science, 17th in Reading, and 30th in Math. These outrageous results show the deficiency of the current standards. This is unacceptable for a country in such a high position in the global economy as the United States. Education standards need be raised. According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, This is a massive wake-up call. Yet the ultimate question still remains, how do we bring change into the current education

system? First of all, America should look at current examples around the globe to look for some ideas for change. China scored 1st in all the tests. This isn’t a surprise considering Chinese students attend school 41 more days in the year, and a majority attend after school classes to better themselves further. According to Whitehouse.gov, Obama’s current plan is to instigate policies that require all students to stay in school until they are a high school graduate. This is not enough if the United States wants to compete in today’s economy. The United States needs to instead create policies that drastically raise the educa26 ISSUE SPRING 2012

Photo Taken by Dhruv Puri

“For me, it’s a massive wake-up call.”

tion standards, without any loopholes. The “No Child Left Behind” Act, proposed by President George W. Bush was one of the biggest education disasters of all time. It required all of the Students in a State to achieve certain educational standards, but those standards were left to be decided by the State. This was a recipe for failure. After an analysis of the aftermath of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, TIME magazine declared that two thirds of the nation’s children attended a school with less than mediocre standards. The conclusion we can draw from this state of affairs is that there shouldn’t be any variants in the education standards across the nation. Though Obama’s “Race to the Top” program, a contest between states and local districts created to spark educational reform and and innovation, has brought tougher competition, higher


America VS The World national education standards, and better teachers, it is not simply acting at a fast enough pace to bring America to the top of the playing field. The road to a better education system should begin, in my opinion, with a standardization of classes. A high school student in Texas and a High school student in Wisconsin both taking World History should be held to the same standards and should be learning from the same curriculum. In addition, I feel that not only students but teachers should be held to a higher standard as well. If we have capable teachers in every school then a higher percentage of students could achieve their potential in a more effective and timely manner. In addition, the mindset where students feel that they are simply “not good” at a subject should be eradicated. This will do nothing but decrease the student’s self confidence and their willingness to work. Instead all teachers should encourage their students to believe that “ if I put my mind to it, I can do anything.”

However there is opposition to my argument. It is that the pressure to do well will not help students triumph in school but instead cause them to fail from this push. I feel that is more of an individual issue. Yes, there might be a couple of students who don’t succeed because of increased pressure, but the majority of children thrive from it. This is because life is a competition in which there will always be the pressure to succeed. The students who don’t realize this early in life and adapt to the pressure will get left behind. Additionally other countries have adopted similar policies putting high pressure on their students, yet there isn’t a talk of the students’ failures, but is of their high scores on international exams. China is the number one country on the international math, reading, and science exam, and they are said to have one of the most rigorous and competitive education systems in the world. If we don’t act now and change our education standards it could become a major problem in the near future for America.

If I put my mind to it, I can do anything.

Photo Taken by Dhruv Puri

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Excellence:

By

ward the very highest and bring up the very lowest, but support kids in the middle as well. A good example of tougher restrictions is the amount of work it takes to receive commendation. The National Merit Scholarship, one of the most well-known grants in its class, continues to become harder to achieve. Below, the standards to become eligible for the National Merit Scholarship in Texas are compared to the average

National Merit Standards for Texas

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2011

2010

2009

2008

2006

2005

2004

2003

Average Test Score

2002

2011

2010

2009

2008

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

National Merit Standards

144 142 140 138 136 134 132 130 128

2000

220 219 218 217 216 215 214 213 212 211

scores on the PSAT, the scholarship’s qualifying test, there. As seen in these graphs, Merit standards are going up, even aas average scores are going down. This means that less students are within reach of these scholarships, and are increasingly discouraged about their abilities. Still, there is only so much one can draw from raw data. So let’s hear some student testimonials. At the Liberal

PSAT Average Test Score for Texas

2001

I

n his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama said we need to promote an education system “that inspires students to excel in math and science.” Many educational institutes have responded to this by putting an increasing amount of pressure on students to succeed. Counter to its original intentions, this added pressure actually keeps kids from achieving. We need to reform the education system to not just re-

Audrey Lewis


The New Average Arts and Science Academy High School in Austin, Texas, there is a fine line between the haves and the have-nots. But this prejudice isn’t based on wealth, race, or gender. It’s based on grades. Every major grade has the possibilty to make or break a student’s social standing, and keeping grades to oneself isn’t really an option. Showing grades to their peers is so stressful that many students modify the HTML on their online grade page to make their grades look higher than they are. Deceit is common in many areas. Cheating is the only way for some students to keep their grades high enough for the approval of their peers. “I suck at Algebra 2” said one student on the condition of anonyminity, “the only way I get A’s is by giving myself higher grades than I deserve when we self-check our homework.” But worse is the opinion of students who can keep straight A’s. A high-scoring student reacted to the above graphs by saying “well that means the test is getting more effective. The scholarship only goes to kids who really deserve it.” What about the well-rounded students, who study less for the test only because they are busy learning the arts or volunteering? Should they

be punished for their multifarious intrests? My opponents would say that the United States needs to put more pressure on its students to keep up with the “East Asian Tigers,” Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. But do we really want our students to be as stressed as the Japenese, where, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Laboour, and Welfare, 189 people died from overwork in 2007? Japanese children go to school six days a week and have barely any time for extracurricular activities. So little time, in fact, that the Japanese government is concerned about the creative and critical thinking abilities of its current graduates. They have begun trying to pass controversial acts to limit the school day and allow children to become more like well-rounded Americans. Who are we to try to modify our education system to be more like Japan’s,

when they are trying to become like us? In our current education system, we do nothing to support the very students that make our creative and vibrant country what it is – the well-rounded middle performers. Instead of trying to push them to preform better and better on tests, we need to support their multifaceted interests, and use positie reinforcement to help them excel. The United States needs to remember that putting kids down doesn’t bring grades up.

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Strike First, Strike Hard A

Why Direct Action Against Iran is the Only Course of Action

nother war in the Middle East looms on the horizon. In the next year, we may be sending our youth off to Iran to fight a bloody new war in the region that has already claimed so many American lives. Over the past decade, the international pressure on Iran has deepened, but has only achieved temporary delays, not crippled Iran’s will to become a nuclear power. The most recent round of sanctions that have come to bear on Iran are the most stringent yet, but they will do little to halt Iran’s progress towards possessing a nuclear bomb, and may in fact work counter to the aims of the nations who have enacted them. These policies can end only in war. The United States will become embroiled in yet another conflict in the middle east, and thousands more young men and women will die. This can be prevented. If concentrated military action is taken now to permanently cripple the ability of Iran to process nuclear fuel, then the regime will have no choice but to abandon their nuclear aspirations. Sanctions have been proven over time to be less effective than expected at their conception. Throughout history there are many examples of nations refusing to yield to international pressure in opposition to an internal affair. In many cases sanctions have eventually had a substantial effect on a nation’s policy, but often only

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after decades of pressure. With Iran there is not that much time. An unnamed American official cited by the New York Times estimated that Iran will have enough high enriched uranium to make a bomb in six months to a year, insufficient time for sanctions to have an effect. During the time it takes for Iran to complete its nuclear program many of the existing contracts will still be in effect. This might produce a scenario similar to that of North Korea. Iran would become a country internationally isolated by sanctions, but where the international community can take no other steps for fear of a nuclear crisis.

By Daniel

Much like the situation in North Korea sanctions that come into effect after the completion of the nuclear program in Iran will not cripple the military. These sanctions will be diverted from the military and nuclear program, the only force keeping the West out, and onto the shoulders of the poor. This is the history of sanctions against autocratic or repressive regimes. The sanctions fall the hardest on the poor as the cost of living rises. The middle class sees a drop in their standard of living, but those in power with large amounts of money and influence face no hardship. This results in making a population that is already

Developing Nuclear Capabilities: Components of a Bomb

1.

3. 4. 5.

Weinberg

2.

1. Casing

The shell is composed of high carbon steel and acts to contain the compoments and to channel the detonation of the high explosives (3).

2. Bridgewire Detonators

These high speed detonators are essential for the simultaious triggering of the high exposives (3) needed to compress the Uranium (5).


oppressed even more destitute, and creates even more hardship for everyone except those who can change the situation. This is already happening in Iran. A recent article in the New York Times detailed the economic situation in the nation. The local currency is losing value, and the poor who only deal in that currency are struggling to buy what they need to survive. Those with access to international currency can put their savings into dollars and avoid the devaluation of the national currency. Also the sanctions will fall the hardest on those who harbor pro-western sentiment and will dampen their opposition to the regime. To those already in the grip of anti-western propaganda, the sanctions will be seen as proof that the West hates Iran. This will make it impossible for the kind of popular uprising that could make such sanctions effective measures against the regime. Sanctions are not going

to stop Iran’s ambitions. They will come into force too late to halt the nuclear program, and will impact only the lower classes. Continued sanctions on a nuclear Iran will also be borne by the poor, and will have little effect on the Iranian national defense. Sanctions in their current form are doomed to fail. When it becomes evident that the sanctions have failed, the only choice left to the West will be to launch a military strike against

is the range of the strike aircraft, and the capability of the payload to damage the heavily fortified nuclear compounds, according to a February 19th article by Elisabeth Bumiller in the New York Times on the feasibility of a strike. While those capabilities may not exist in most nations the U.S. military has both the midair-refueling, and state of the art bunker-busting capabilities to carry out a successful strike. It can be concluded that

Iran. The West cannot allow for nuclear weapons to be held by a state sponsor of terrorism, or by a nation that seeks to destroy one of its neighbors. Such a strike is well within the capabilities of the U.S. forces in the region already. The largest concern for a strike

given preparation, a successful strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is possible. The world will hold off such a strike until it is certain that sanctions have failed, but we can already see that sanctions against Iran will not work. It should seem obvious that the correct time to act is now. Sanctions will have no effect as always, a nuclear Iran looms on wwthe horizon, and when it comes it will spell the end to peace in the Middle East. Nations like Israel and Saudi Arabia, nations that are as much enemies of Iran as the United States is, will not remain silent while Iran achieves nuclear weapons. They cannot afford to act only after the deed is done. They are the primary targets of Iran. They by necessity must act preemptively, yet they do not have the capabilities that the United States has to do the job right. The surgical style attacks that Israel used against Iraq and Syria are not possible with Iran. The only military option is a full

Iran will have enough high enriched uranium to make a bomb in six months to a year

3. High Explosives

4. Slow Explosive

These slower explosives are designed to slow down the force of the high explosives (3) and to compress the Uranium (5) for a longer time.

5. Uranium

A sub-critical mass of enriched Uranium is at the core of the bomb. When the explosives (3,4) detonate the Uranium is compressed to the point where a nuclear chain reaction occurs, generating massive amounts of energy.

Art By Daniel Weinberg

These high explosive shaped charges are designed to send their force inwards and to compress the Uranium (5) to critical density

Cont. Pg. 32 SPRING 2012 ISSUE 31


Overflow Hydraulic Fracking From p. 5 passed requiring greater analysis of nearby faults before fracking can occur. This may sound like a knockout blow for fracking, but it is not. In reality all of the earthquakes that are linked to fracking have been small and of almost no consequence. The majority could only be detected by seismic equipment, and others only by individuals very close to the epicenter. Minor tremors may not be particularly dangerous, but they are still disturbing. However fracking has enough benefits for people to ignore a little shaking. The expansion of natural gas drilling because of fracking has

had significant economic impacts. In areas where the boom has been particularly profound the unemployment is significantly lower, and people from around the country come to these areas to seek work in the industry. Positive impacts expand far beyond the immediate area where fracking happens. The economy as a whole benefits from the massive domestic surge in gas. “If it hadn’t been for shale gas it’s highly likely, almost certain, that gas would have been going up, which would make for more expensive electricity for everything, and would damage the economy,” Says Dr. Duncan.

This boom has changed the domestic energy landscape. In fact many terminals that were built in ports for the import of natural gas are being remodeled for export. It also seems certain that this new surge of production will be around for a while. Although the exact amount of gas contained in domestic reservoirs is still being determined Dr. Duncan is confident that fracking will be “important economically … for the next fifty to a hundred years.” Long enough for several generations to inherit cheap and abundant natural gas.

Strike First, Strike Hard From p. 23

scale war. This will tear the region apart. In this turmoil the US would feel bound to attempt to restore peace, and then we have another nation building exercise on our hands. Judging from the results of the last attempt at that, we are not good at that kind of war. The only option is a strike that doesn’t require rebuilding an entire nation afterwards, and only the United States has the military on a scale that could simply sweep into Iran with such impunity. The conclusion then is that the United States must act, and act

32 ISSUE SPRING 2012

before other states feel the need to. Only the United States can succeed in a surgical strike that would avoid a protracted war and nation building exercise. Sanctions are doomed to fail, and many of the nations with the largest stake in the conflict are coming to that realization. The time is fast approaching when Israel will see that it must act or risk annihilation. Israel cannot succeed in anything other that a full scale war. The US must act decisively before the situation reaches that point. This means almost

immediate preparation. The time has come for the United States to remind that world that it is the undisputed global superpwower. With immediate action countless, lives can be saved, a long struggle averted, and some measure of regional stability reestablished. The crisis with Iran has the potential to spiral out of control, but with decisive action, a major international threat can be averted.


Puzzle Answers Myth or Fact?

From p. 15

All statistics were taken from surveys by Gallup. The politicians pictured are members of the Texas House of Representatives. Republican: 1)T 2)T 3)F 4)T 5)F Democrat: 1)T 2)T 3)F 4) F 5)T 6)F 7)T Pictures (left to right): D R D R

Crossword From p. 16

SPRING 2012 ISSUE 33



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