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Letter from the Editors Dear Reader, To quote Michael Moore, “we live in fictitious times.” Times where TV shows on the History channel stoop to the level of mindless garbage. Times where music is reduced to robotic, excessively modified drivel. Times where “news” networks show nothing but angry men, yelling and sweating until we all yell “Okay! We can hear you!” Newsweek and Time have gone downhill. What were once respectable pieces of journalism have been reduced to the quality of gossip magazines. Other magazines, like the Economist and the New Republic, are informed but unreadable, practically bleeding with their own elitism. Forum is a different kind of magazine. While we cover current events (see Nathan W’s piece on gun control), we also cover social issues that are relevant to every single American (like education reform, a topic discussed by Eduardo L on page #). The world is racing at greater and greater speeds, with all of the technological improvements and cultural phenomena that occur in the modern day and the aid of modern media the global perspective is changed every morning with the news. Forum promises to be a media outlet to stimulate the mind and inform its readers in a non partisan way. If the world was to end Forum would inform you of it no matter how many people it would upset. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X So, stick around. We won’t bore you. You can trust us. Go ahead, turn the page. Sincerely, The Forum Staff (Nathan W, Felix B, Alison M, and Eduardo L)

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Table of contents Letter from the editor Author bios

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Opinions Discrimination: 44 years later Robbin’ the hood Your moment of zen Guns: An American addiction

8 10 12 14

Features Making journalism work in texas The right to reason Watching the Watchers Representin’: the job of a texas politician

16 18 20 22

Extras 25 Say What Now? Faerie Rights 26 28 Thought Osama bin laden and michael scott 29 Final Thoughts 31 3


The Forum Staff Eduardo L . Eduardo L. was born in a city in the southern United States that was originally known as Waterloo, in an unknown year on an unknown day and at a time which has yet to be determined. Eduardo L. races down the road of life at 100 miles per hour and is still able to enjoy the scenery. “I just want to be able to get as far as I can down the highway before my car, like everything else, eventually breaks down.” Eduardo said. Constantly questioning and enterprising in a multitude of endeavors, Eduardo hardly ever has an idle moment or even a boring one. Unlike the Dos Equis, he is not sitting at a bar telling stories of his exploits, but is out continuing life with or without an audience. If you were to ask him “what qualities most encapsulate you?” Longoria would be completely unable to respond. Having such a multi faceted personality and world view makes it difficult to nail down a concrete encapsulation of the ideas that make him up. Longoria doesn’t seem to care though. “Don’t try to search for the meaning of life, you will only tire yourself and waste your time. The idea of life having a purpose is completely subjective, so why not just live your life?

He lived for about 14 years and performed feats that are completely irrelevant at this point and then attended the Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin in the year 2010. After several months he sat down in E-zine and realized that he had to make a magazine with a personal bio page. Thinking that it would be easy he simply waited until the last minute and wrote it on Sunday May 1, 2011 while trying to convey as little information as possible. Eduardo L. was very proud to say that he was right about the whole concept of the bio page.

Felix! usually see them as fun. I want to have a party. I like news stories that are funny, but not much else. I am also one of the most powerful wizards in all of the land. I like to make loud noises. A whole lot. I also had to have a bio picture that wasn’t normal for

I am Felix! and I like very many things. I never wear closed toed shoes. I only wears bright clothing as a rule I has set for himself. I always spells my name with an exclamation point. My favorite food is candy, and much of my money goes towards buying it. I want to become the ruler of the world when I grow up. I have a large ego. I am a flaming nonsexual. I enjoys Ideas that are incredibly stupid because I can 4


Natha n W . Whenever people ask me to describe myself, I usually give them one of two replies. The first, which I use for teachers and other respected community members, is me pretending to deliberate before saying, wholeheartedly, “Jewish, Surly, and Liberal.” The other, reserved for patronizing idiots, is a simple four word phrase: “I don’t like you”. Need I say more? As this is a school assignment, I have to. My name is Nathan. I’m 15 years old, Jewish, surly and I may have Touretts Syndrome. My parents are both lawyers, and my family history dictates I will probably follow along that path. My aspiration is to be a respected politician, though I doubt the good people of America will ever elect a person like me. Therefore, a more likely career is as a lobbyist or as a, once again, lawyer. My musical tastes include such diverse groups as the Arcade Fire (I liked them before they won a Grammy), the Clash, Bruce Springsteen, and Vampire Weekend. My favorite movie of all time is a three way tie between Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump (I’m a big Tom Hanks fan), and To Kill A Mockingbird. When it comes to television, The Office is my better half, though 30 Rock is pretty frickin’ awesome, too. My favorite book is Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. I have two dogs, a sister, and two parents. One day, I’ll

go to college, leaving behind Texas, the heat, and Rick Perry, who is possibly my least favorite person in the world. Congratulations. Enjoy the magazine.

A l ison M. Alison M was born in Fulton, Missouri in 1936. The daughter of a Chinese immigrant and a Latvian princess, she rose to a position of power in the Russian mob. After spending five years in a federal prison, she joined the US army disguised as a man, rising to the rank of Major General. After fighting in the Korean War, she settled down in the sleepy village of Sunnydale, founding the first Taco Bell chain west of the Mississippi River. She lived in Sunnydale for many years before accepting an offer to become John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 election, changing her name to Sarah Palin in the process. After losing that election, Alison moved to Austin, Texas, disguised as a comically short high school student. She remains in Austin to this day, taking classes and moonlighting as a jazz trumpeter. Her interests include scrapbooking and Civil War reenactments. She is married to a beluga whale, Ron. 5


(Incite Ad)

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Opinionnions

D I S C R I M I 4 4

Y e a r F e l i x

W

ho has the right to chose who you can legally marry? The government has always thought that it could, since 1662 when Virginia became a English colony. It entered existence with interracial marriage being illegal. Texas has always thought of marriage as inflexible and has stayed with it’s opinion

This proposed a until it was forced to change. This has been embarrassing for future preserving the generations ever since 1967, and it is in Texas’s interest to avoid doing this of marriage again. However, if Texas keeps approaching gay marriage at the same rate, we’ll be in the same position again.

cont

Texas took about 122 years to legalize interracial marriage. By the time it was founded, 7 states had legalized it, but 20 states had not. Only 6 states have Legalized gay marriage currently, and even though we are able to do things much quicker now, it could take another half century before it is legalized on a national scale.

FRE

The worst part of this predicament is we are still at the point where people want to permanently illegalize gay marriage. This is a serious setback in Texas’s progress of escaping it’s uptight reputation. Indiana is a state that currently does not allow gay marriage, but even controlling itself is not enough for it. It is currently attempting to amend the constitution to make sure that it will never become legal anywhere in the country. This proposed amendment is not preserving the “sanctity” of marriage, this is being a control freak.

1622: Virginia becomes an english colony. Interracial marriage is illegal there 8 1 Art by publicdomainphotos.com

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1780: Pennsylvania legalizes interracial marriage, being the first state to do so.

1787: Virginia becomes an english colony. Interracial marriage is illegal there


I N A T I O N : s

L a t e r

B e a t t i e

me ndm e n t i s n o t

Even when people try to oppose same sex marriage, they tend to think of arguments used 44 years ago. The main reason ,this i s b e i n g a against gay marriage is “preserving the sanctity of marriage”, or using slippery slope arguments, such as “first same sex marriage, then polygamy” as the Australian christian lobby has said, comparing it to such events in Canada, a country that is currently thinking about legalizing polygamy. The arguments about “the sanctity of marriage” are largely based on opinions. Sanctity, as defined by the dictionary, means holiness, and what is holy can vary greatly based upon opinions and religion. Moral opinions were also one of the main arguments against interracial marriage.

“sanctity”

trol

EAK

Same sex marriage is not just a fight for being able to marry who you want, it’s a fight for what future generations think of us. While peer pressure doesn’t really make the only argument for redefining marriage, nearly everyone in Texas was ashamed that we were forced to legalize interracial marriage. Although there seems to be no knowledge of this currently, it is possible to convince lawmakers to change their minds. At the rate we are progressing, legalization of same sex marriage is inevitable, however it could still be very long until it actually happens. If nothing is changed, future generations will look down upon us forever.

1959: For the first time, interracial marriage is legal in more states than it is illegal.

1967: Interracial marriage legalized nationally. Texas forced tor legalize it as well.

2004: Massachusetts Legalizes gay marriage, being the first state to do so.

2011: Six states have legalized gay marriage. 44 have not.

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Opinion

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Robbin’ the Robbin’ Hood Story and Photo by: Eduardo L.

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id you know that only $1.50 for every $100 worth of your property taxes is allowed by law to go to the education of your community? That’s right, Texas has historically been very much against taxes, as the state has no income or payroll tax, but now insists on redistributing property tax revenue based off of regional property value from richer to poorer districts. This redistribution is a result of the Robin Hood Act, a state law meant to create equality in all Texan schools. This redistributes property tax revenue from certain municipalities based off of property value so that education can be equally funded through out the state. The city of Austin alone has already had to donate twenty million dollars in 2011 to the Foundation School Program, a branch of the TEA, with 137 million dollars due by the end of the year. Yes, the less financially affluent small towns that these property tax funds are being redistributed to need funding. Yes, this is a good way to make sure that education funding is equal. It is, however leaving out many of the impoverished urban youth, many of whom live in wealthy districts. These cities are the most property rich areas in the state and yet house some of the very poorest people in the state. The cities give away much of their finances to property poor districts leaving those poorest people in the urban areas with little to no funding to improve their position. The Robin Hood Act is leaving out large groups of people who may live in what are considered rich areas but are suffering from lack of funding, and ,as a result, are struggling to properly supply their students. The Robin Hood Act must be amended to provide aid for those poor individuals who live in urban areas. The socioeconomically disadvantaged members of the urban society have far less of a chance of receiving aid from the government because of the fact that they live in property rich districts. “59% of the students in Austin are lower socioeconomic class” Susan Moffat board appointee of the AISD Facilities Master Task Force said.The urban centers of the state of Texas house large amounts of poor people who attend schools in property rich districts. In Austin Texas in spite of its very high property

values there are still schools like LBJ, Reagan and others in Austin Texas that reside in a property rich district yet the vast majority of their students are anything but. According to the U.S. Census Bureau as reported by the Austin American Statesmen, 1 in 5 Austinites now live in poverty. According to city-data.com in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau, the people of Kerens, Texas are under the poverty line for a family of six people. The small Texan town of Kerens my seem poor but they certainly have more money than the 20% of Austinites living below the poverty line. The large cities may have more valuable properties but by no means does this indicate the level of wealth of the vast majority of the cities population. The students in property poor districts may be considered poor by state standards but actually have much greater funding than the urban “wealthy centers of Texas. According to texas.schooltree. org Kerens ISD has a grand total of 703 students total in its district while Austin ISD boasts 78,606 students that it has to teach. In spite of this, funding per student for both districts is approximately the same with Kerens spending at $8,960 and Austin spending at $8,936. A few other small town districts like; Hawkins ISD spending $10,484 per student, Marfa ISD with $11,997 per student and Olton ISD with $10,063 per student. But the students that each district has to teach are extremely different. For instance in Kerens ISD only 2% of students are English language learners while in Austin 26% and in Houston 29% of students are English language learners. How can students ever be expected to excel in academics if they don’t even understand the language that the lesson is being taught in. As a result of shipping educational finances to poorer and rural districts, cities have significantly less money to keep all of their staff employed and on a decent salary because they are having to make cuts on both employment and supplies. This shipment of money to rural districts is exacerbating the financial problems caused by the economic crisis. According to AISD documents on boarddocs.com Austin ISD had to let go of a total of 107 teachers in AISD along with 35 other education workers

in the district to save money. These teaching jobs could have easily been saved by cutting back on the amount of financial aid that is sent to poorer districts in Texas. Each high school in Austin Texas is losing six to eight teachers and has to teach large groups of students with each department undermanned. If Austin was able to keep its money then it would have no problems keeping those 107 teachers employed and able to feed their families. Though the Robin Hood Act was a well-intended bid for equality in the Texas education system, it did not end up creating equality as well as many of its supporters expected. The rural population of Texas is now able to sleep easily at night knowing that their children will have the same opportunity for success as any other students in the state, but at what cost? The urban population centers of Texas have even less funding to support and educate the increasingly large amount of impoverished people living in the ever expanding cities of Texas. The Robin Hood Act was needed to help the rural population of Texas educate themselves, so that the children of farmers and ranchers out on the range could learn to be doctors and lawyers and engineers; but those children living only miles east of the law firms and hospitals and great engineering marvels will only sit and watch others succeed if the Robin Hood Act is not revisited. F

“59% of students in Austin are lower socioeconomic class.” Susan Moffat Board Appointee to AISD Facilities Master Task Force 11


Opinion

Y OUR MO ME N T O F ZEN YOUR ZEN By Alison M. Fifteen years ago, when the show premiered with host Craig Kilborn, The Daily Show was purely a comedic program parodying a news show, and not really focused on politics. The idea of it being a good source of news would’ve been ridiculous. However, with Kilborn’s replacement by Jon Stewart, and soon after, the election and presidency of George W. Bush, the show quickly evolved to become the prominent political comedy it is today. The Daily Show has but ten minutes a day to report, so it shouldn’t be relied on as one’s only source. However, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart reports news of equal, if not higher, quality than traditional news shows and is beginning to become more and more significant in today’s media. 12

Using comedy to present the news catches the attention of its younger audiences. According to The New York Times, Jon Stewart reports the news “in ways that straight news programs cannot: speaking truth to power in blunt, sometimes profane language, while using satire and playful looniness to ensure that their political analysis never becomes solemn or pretentious.” The news of The Daily Show is hardly as “fake” as Jon Stewart claims. It is real news, presented in a different way that really entertains the audience as it informs them. During the madness of the last year, many turned to The Daily


“The one person left who seems capable of calling a train wreck what it really is.”

way that really entertains the audience as it informs them. During the madness of the last year, many turned to The Daily Show to be the voice of reason when the media was going to extremes. “We’re not tuning in to laugh at the silliness,” says Steven James Snyder of Time Magazine. “We’re tuning in to see the one person left who seems capable of calling a train wreck what it really is.” Over the past decade, The Daily Show has become more than the news show parody it once was. It has become something powerful, despite often masquerading as silly and unimportant. Jon Stewart may act like The Daily Show is simply a funny show, but it’s even becoming a robust influence on America’s people. President Barack Obama appeared on the show days before the midterm elections that made his party lose their majority in Congress. When millions of people were disappointed in Obama’s presidency and planned to either

vote Republican or not vote at all, he chose The Daily Show as a show to go on to defend himself to the people who had voted for him in 2008. That alone shows just how compelling this show must be. But the show also, in response to the filibuster on the bill to give health care to 9/11 first responders, devoted an entire episode those first responders who contracted chronic illnesses directly related to their services on September 11. Soon after, the main news networks began to speak up about the injustice. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith called it “disgusting,” “a national disgrace,” and “a shame” that so many voted against this bill. The White House also reacted, and six days after the episode aired, the bill unanimously passed through the Senate. There are people who watch The Daily Show for laughs, because it has remained a very funny show. However, that is no longer its only purpose. The Daily Show is no longer just comedic. It makes a pronounced and unique addition to today’s media, and should not be underestimated. F

President Obama goes on The Daily Show

October 27, 2010

The Daily Show Premieres

July 21, 1996

January 11, 1999

2011

December 16, 2010 9/11 First Responders Episode

Jon Stewart Replaces Craig Kilborn as Host

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Opinion

STATISTICS

45% of American households on a gun

The gun lobby donates over $19 million dollars to the Republican party a year

GUNS: AN AMERICAN ADDICTION

by Nathan W

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613 Americans will be killed in gun accidents this year

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is face is twisted, haunting, almost gleeful. His smile is... grotesquely mesmerizing. His favorite books are the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf. He was thrown out of community college and described as a security threat. Yet, this man, Jared Lee Loughner, is allowed to purchase a weapon that holds 30 bullets.With that kind of ammo, you’re not hunting dear- you’re hunting people. Loughner- a crazed loner who’s violent tendencies were well documented- purchased ammunition at a Wal-Mart the morning of January 8th, 2011. That day, he shot Rep. Gabrille Giffords, wounding her and killing 6 others. While the right to bear arms is protected by the constitution, it is clear that this crisis demands a solution. Until America can overcome its firearms “addiction”, its process of gun control and regulation demands immediate action.

67% of murders are commited with a firearm

our core. We always tend to blame gun violence on other issues: after Columbine we blamed Marilyn Manson, and after Tuscon we blamed the polarization of the political debate.However, those issues would be moot if America bothered to reexamine its lax gun control policies.

pro-gun conservatives. Chris Knox, director of communications for The Firearms Coalition, encourages both sides of the debate to pass legislation banning people with mental illnesses from obtaining weapons. This compromise will prevent future Loughners from ever acting out their violent emotions.

Now, let me be clear: I have absolutely nothing against the ownership of guns and the recreational practices associated with them. Many of my closest friends are avid hunters, and see the ownership of weapons as a way to have fun hunting and defend their home. However, even they agree that some as-

The corpses are piling up over America’s lax gun control laws. While there is a consistent threat from people like Loughner, America’s polarized political debate is provoking violence on both ends of the political spectrum. Steps need to be taken to avoid future Columbines and Virginia Techs. However, nothing will get done without the assistance of the gun lobby. Effort should be made in areas of the issue where both sides can find common ground- in this way, America can forge itself a better, safer future. F

AKT G N I E B Y AD E R L A E R A DY E G A STEPS R T A HAT T E R U S N I ON C EN TO S U T R O BINE M U L O C E LIK AIN G A S N E P P NEVER HA

American culture reveres guns, and we have paid dearly. Our favorite movies? Dirty Harry, The Godfather, The Magnificent Seven. Our favorite video games? Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Our politicians? They demand “second amendment remedies” (this references a quote by Nevada senate candidate Sharon Angel) to problems that can be solved with the first amendment, and abandon what they know is right in order to placate those who would be fine with a lunatic like Loughner purchasing a weapon. 100,000 people are shot in murders or assaults every year in our country. 86 Americans die each day due to gun violence, according to Michael Grunwald and Jay Newton-Small. Tragedies like the one in Tuscon wake us up and shake us to

pects of American gun culture are simply ridiculous. Why is it that two Columbine High School students with reported homicidal tendencies were allowed to buy ammunition at K-Mart? How could a Virginia Tech student with a serious police record be allowed to purchase guns and ammunition? The answer is in our own ignorance: we hate gun laws because we feel threatened, but don’t realize the consequences of our own selfish actions. Steps are already being taken to insure that a tragedy like Columbine or Tuscon never happens again. Already, Representative Peter King (R-NY) has announced that he plans to write legislation making it illegal to carry a firearm within 1000 ft of an federal official. Such an effort would be difficult to pass, given the gun lobby’s significant power. Instead, gun control proponents should search for common ground with

Blood stain one by Vector Junky.com Blood stain two is from Adobe Illustrator

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FEATURES

Land of Contrasts: Making Journalism Work In Texas Texas Tribune editor Mark Miller reflects on more than 20 years of journalistic experience

Story by Nathan W Logo from Texas Tribune website, Texas flag from wikpedia.org

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rint news has seen its ups and downs. News has started wars, like the Spanish-American War. News has removed presidents, like when the Washington Post toppled Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal. News has revealed atrocities,making public the My Lai massacre and the Abu Gharib pictures. News has even hounded celebrities to death . While America’s relationship with its press has always been unpredictable, it is clear now that conventional print journalism is in decline. However, Texas Tribune editor Mark Miller sees a way out of this quagmire: nonprofit online journalism is the way to go.

Print news has seen its ups and downs. News has started wars, like the SpanishAmerican War. News has removed presidents, like when the Washington Post toppled Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal. News has revealed atrocities,making public the My Lai massacre and the Abu Gharib pictures. News has even hounded celebrities to death . While America’s relationship with its press has always been unpredictable, it is clear now that conventional print journalism is in decline. However, Texas Tribune editor Mark Miller sees a way out of this quagmire: nonprofit online journalism is the way to go. The Texas Tribune is a non for profit online news organization. Miller himself is a veteran reporter, having covered such monumental events as the 1992 presidential election and the OJ Simpson trial. He rose to the position of editor at Newsweek magazine, organizing coverage of 9/11 and the Iraq War. He’s seen journalism at its best and at its worst. In its darkest hour, has remained optimistic, unwavering in his faith towards the press. So, what makes the Tribune’s system valid? Miller posits that the organization’s success is due to its publishing of “open source content”. Open source content, Miller says, is “information publicly available but difficult for non-techies to access.” The magazine has published online a database showing the salary of every public official in Texas, and has published information on what Texas hospitals charge Medicaid for various

procedures. While outlets like the Austin American Statesman and the Houston Chronicle deliver “hard hitting” news, they often don’t report on certain issues that, well, don’t interest the majority of readers. It is Mark Miller’s opinion that The Texas Tribune exists for people who are interested in those issues. The Texas Tribune’s readership has surged in recent months, with 3.7 million page views in March. Miller takes this as evidence that “there is a market for [the tribune’s] brand of journalism.” Besides being popular, the Tribune is also resolutely nonpartisan. The Tribune publishes interviews with conservative and liberal politicians on a weekly basis, and focuses specifically on the issues instead of individual political candidates. The Tribune, according to Miller, “reflects a diversity of voices”, allowing the website “to earn the trust of people of a variety of political persuasions.” While this is a valuable quality in journalistic terms, it is also a good financial incentive. According to Miller, “[the tribune has] liberals and conservatives who help support [the Tribune] financially.” This is definitely a valuable trait in a varied political state like Texas. Miller points out that the Tribune only publishes “serious coverage of serious issues”. The Texas Legislature is currently facing a budget shortfall between $15 and $27 billion dollars. Miller personally believes that this shortfall is the largest issue facing the state of Texas. The Tribune has stepped up

its coverage of this issue in recent months, partnering with the New York Times to deliver comprehensive coverage to Texans and the rest of the nation. Another factor in Texas’s development is recent immigration from Spanish-speaking countries. People of Hispanic origin now make up 37.6% of Texas’s population. This demographic switch will certainly effect Texan politics, perhaps tilting the state to the left. Miller calls this issue “enormously important”, and recognizes that the Republican Party’s harsh immigration policies may lead to their downfall. With such a rapid political switch in the future, Miller expects that especially nonpartisan journalism could be in high demand. In the end, Miller declares himself “bullish” towards the state of the Tribune and journalism in general. The Tribune’s own mission statement illustrates how new and creative its non profit system is: it says that the Tribune’s “vision is to serve the journalism community as a source of innovation and to build the next great public media brand in the United States”. Despite the multitude of problems facing journalism and the rest of the nation, Miller believes that the Tribune and magazines like it will stand the test of time. F

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Features

The

right

to

Reason The collective bargaining debate in Madison, Wisconsin

Felix B. very human being is familiar with the words “I don’t want to talk about it”, when a problem is brought to a parent. However, this not expected from the government. In Wisconsin, this is exactly the answer that thousands of people could be getting.

public employees for the broken budget” said Beattie.

On February 11th, 2011 , Robert Beattie, professor at the university of wisconsin, received an email from the governor of Wisconsin informing him of a new law that might go into affect soon. It was going to take away many of the rights that unions currently posses, which effectively plunged the entire region into an “I don’t want to talk about it” mode. Obviously, there were going to be protests.

“I went to a protest the day the bill was going to be voted on. It got slowly more intense and turned into a march on the capitol.” said Beattie “There were five to six thousand people there. There were also farmers on their tractors who were protesting because the law would make it hard for them to get health care. The democrats left that day”

The email blames the $136.7 million budget deficit on “poor budgeting decisions approved and promoted by past elected leaders”

The democrats left so that the republicans would not have a quorum, meaning enough voters to pass a bill. This set the republicans back quite a bit, but the bill was still passed in the end.

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It then goes on to say that those leaders used taxes as “short term solutions without looking toward the future”. After this it states the solutions within the bill. These involve doubling the amount of required health insurance premiums, forcing unions to vote to stay in existence and also to stop them from collecting dues.

To protest the bill the citizens of Wisconsin have been protesting in madison and surrounding the capitol. There are thousands of people there most of the time.

“After that protest there were many more getting increasingly more intense, with up to 50,000 people coming on an average one.” said Beattie. Protesting is not the only thing people have been doing though.

“The email was an utter slap in the face and it indirectly blamed

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Art by Bill Cronon


Thousands of people gather for a protest at the Wisconsin capitol “Something else the people of Wisconsin are trying to do is partici- Beattie, “Why would they take jobs that they wouldn’t be treated well in?” pate in recall efforts for the politicians that have voted for the bill. In all, the citizens of This means they Wisconsin do not want need signatures the bill to stay. If they from %25 of the are willing to vote a people who voted politician out of office in the last election, for one law, it’s obviand then they can ous that law shouldn’t vote the person out stay, and as soon as enough time has passed for recall efforts to of office if they win a vote.” be successful, it’s possible the public will indeed show that it has some ability to reason with the government. If that is not the case, This policy requires the politician to have been in office for a certain amount of time for this to apply to them. This does make the however, then collective bargaining, in all meanings of the word, governor of Wisconsin immune currently, but the citizens are trying will truly be gone from the state. to vote senators out so that if the bill is voted on again it won’t pass. F

“The email was an utter slap in the face, and blamed public employees for the broken budget”

The bill was created to save money, but in reality it could cost the Wisconsin government quite a bit in the future. “A lot of students are considering not taking government jobs because they’re seeing how the government treats it’s workers,” said

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Features

W AT C H I N G

THE

W AT C H E R S :

H O L D I N G T H E G OV E R N M E N T A C C O U N TA B L E B Y A L I S O N M C K AY PICTURE BY JANET WOOD


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t’s ten o’clock at night, and Ginny McKay’s bill is up. The House of Representatives is reviewing a bill on Workers’ Compensation. After a long two hours of debate and discussion, it doesn’t pass, meaning another long night for the assistant director of the Sunset Advisory Commission. The Sunset Commission reviews state agencies. Most agencies are created for twelve years, and at the end of those twelve years, the Sunset Commission reviews how efficiently and effectively they’re working. It also looks into whether the agency is really needed anymore, or if their duties should be combined with another agency. After the review, the Sunset staff writes up a report to show to the Sunset Commission, which then decides which recommendations will go to the Legislature. If the Legislature doesn’t pass a bill to renew that agency, then it will no longer be able to function. “The difference with Sunset is that, as much as people may argue about what change they want to have happen, and probably they would prefer the status quo more than anything, because a bill has to pass, they can’t simply kill the bill, because they generally don’t want the agency just done away with,” says McKay. “It kind of forces everybody to the table to come up with what the best solution is.” In reviewing state agencies, the Sunset staff talks to both the consumers and the industry. Sometimes when an agency is set up to regulate an industry, it ends up simply protecting and benefiting the industry, rather than the consumer. “A lot of government is set up for a lot of the wrong reasons,” McKay says. “They protect certain interests, and people with money get them set up to where they benefit them over anybody else. Well, a lot of what we try to do when we go in and do a review is to level that playing field.” Sunset is also sure to get the hard data before making their recommendations. The agencies can’t always be trusted to accurately say how well they’re doing. The Railroad Commission, for example, which is in charge of the oil and gas industry, claimed it took violations of the law much more seriously than it really did. “They send inspectors out all over the state,” McKay says. “They told us that the inspectors found violations, but we wanted to know how often they penalized those people. They kept telling us that it was a lot, and we kept insisting that they actually show us the numbers and give us statistics. Well, it turned out that it was between one and four percent where they actually took any kind of enforcement action.” Some agencies also didn’t appreciate Sunset coming in to investigate how well they were doing their jobs. The Railroad Commission has been particularly uncooperative. Sunset recommended a name change for the 120-year-old agency, along with doing away with having three elected of-

ficials. The misleading name causes problems for the voters, as they may not know what they’re really voting for. Also, the majority of the people participating in those elections are people in the oil and gas industry. The Railroad Commission now views itself as an advocate for the oil and gas industry. This has become a problem when trying to make changes in the Legislative session. “They were cooperative on the face of it, but essentially they told us that any kind of changes we wanted to make that were going to make them have a stronger regulatory role would simply be killed by the industry during the Legislative process,” McKay says. “They have things set up the way they like it, and they don’t want anything changed.” Another agency that the Sunset Commission has been working with is the Texas Youth Commission. Several years ago, this agency was in need of reform. Juvenile corrections facilities had been out in the middle of nowhere, despite higher crime rates in the bigger cities of Houston and Dallas. No one in the big cities wanted a facility like that near them, and small towns used them for the jobs they created. Taking the juveniles so far away from home to what was astonishingly similar to an adult prison, however, wasn’t doing them any good, and many of them just ended up in more trouble as adults. It was harder to get good counselors to work out in those remote areas. Sunset piloted a project that put more money towards helping kids out and working with their families at the local level before having them committed to the state. It’s been very successful; commitments to juvenile corrections facilities have gone down from 5000 to about 1500. “It’s using money earlier on to intervene with the kid as opposed to waiting and just dealing with it once it’s a crisis,” McKay says. “Like a lot of the debate now on health care is that we can’t afford all of this, and we can’t afford to provide insurance for everybody, but the problem is when people don’t have insurance, they show up in emergency rooms on death’s door with what might have started out to be a fairly minor problem, but because they go for months and months and months and don’t get treatment, and then they show up in an emergency room, well, the county can’t refuse them treatment.” A lot of government is in place to keep things in line, whether it’s the oil and gas industry or Texas’s youth. Sunset’s job is to regulate the regulators. “I’ve looked at enough government over the years that I am pretty skeptical about government being the answer to all the problems,” McKay says. “I don’t think it is at all. But I do think that government has to be held accountable for what it’s supposed to be doing. The more we do that, and hold them accountable, and we go in and we check on what they’re doing and not just leave them, the better they’ll be.”


Representin’! The Job of a Texas Politician.


1

am at the end of Congress Avenue and lights are still streaming out of the windows of the Capitol building. Politicians are walking out on to the capital grounds and are walking towards their cars hoping to make it home to get a few hours sleep before tomorrow’s day of work. Shuffling towards her car State Representative Donna Howard fights to stay awake after her 8am to 1am work day that she just completed.

Art by: Eduardo L.

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Many politicians start their careers in other areas of public service such as the military or legal fields. Before being elected to her current position of State Representative, Howard was a mother, a school board member for Eanes ISD and an active participant in community education issues. But even before the election to the school board she had interests and aspirations of a political nature that motivate and are relfected in her policies today. “When I graduated and began working I got involved in my professional associations and often times those groups that you belong to that represent your profession have political issues that they are concerned about which lead me again to be connected to the political process and advocating for those issues.” The State Representatives are paid 7,200 dollars a year for five months of debating with each other and voting on bills that reach the house floor. “We also have meetings with constituents or meetings with groups that want to come talk to us about issues.” Their constituents have the full and rightful ability to conference with and inquire of their elected officials and do so on a regular basis, Donna Howard is no different and is the representative of our own local. “When you live in the community like I do and that is part of the nature of how this system is supposed to work you are almost always campaigning in the sense that almost everything you do you are around people who are your constituents.” Howard Said So, when you live in the community that you represent, all of your actions are subject to be interpreted in any way as being part of your job. It is a fine line ...that differentiates that which I would consider part of my job and that which I consider part of my private life.” Howard Said Donna Howard first ran for her position of state representative in 2005 but did not win until a special election in 2006. Since then she has concentrated on representing Travis County on the issues of health care and education. “The committee I have been on pretty much since I 24 have been here is higher education which is of high importance to the people of my district.”

“By virtue of my background and working on a school board I have also spent a lot of my time with public education issues and another one has been health because of my background in nursing.” The State of Texas has a long history of vehement support for the Republican Party and the conservative ideas that go along with it. In all but the extreme southern counties and Travis county there is an overwhelming republican majority. The resulting imbalance of partisan power that occurs in this state creates certain challenges for those Democratic politicians who do manage to get elected in the state of Texas. These challenges become increasingly worse as the deficit increases and the Democratic Party be comes increasingly unpopular nationwide. “This last election in November was a very bad election for democrats and many democrats were swept away in what keeps being referred to in tsunami. Maybe that is not a good analogy anymore because of what that also means. The fact is that it was beyond people’s control there were a lot of issues at a national level where people were angry and they voted a lot of folks out of office that happened to be democratic,” Even in good years, without significant partisan strife, it can still be very difficult to get elected to the position of state representative. You may have some volunteers to help with some of the minor work but campaign managers and other harder working staff have to paid well. Adding on to this cost there is the issue paying to get your name heard and in a positive light at that. Even then with all of the political financing and campaigning and effort put into getting someone elected there is still a risk of them never getting to their position. In late 2010 the election for the state representative from District 48 between Donna Howard and Dan Neil ended with an extremely close call for incumbent ,Donna Howard, even though district 48 had traditionally given her so much support.

“Well the way things are set up because we don’t have any kind of public financing of our campaigns. The only way to connect in the world in which we live is to reach a significant number of people is to use print media that is through the mail, to use the television of course and radio, to use the internet. So we have a variety of options but really it requires a certain investment of funds to make those things happen. Television of course is the most expensive.” Amongst the crowd of politicians walking out onto the capitol grounds in the early hours of the morning walks Donna Howard, looking forward to a few hours sleep after spending nearly all her waking hours at meetings and debating with other politicians. Congress avenue is asleep as even the sixth street bars begin closing up for the night and our lawmakers are just now finishing work. F

bills in the House House Voter ID Bill The house is debating whether people need to present Ids at the polling station before they can vote. Sonogram Abortion Bill The House is voting on a bill that will force women who want to get an abortion to have a sonogram 24 hours before the procedure. Texas State Budget HB1 The Billl that will decide the 2011 budget and where cuts will be made in the state budget. Guns on Campus Laws The House is voting on a bill that will allow people with concealed carry permits to carry guns onto college campuses.


SAY

WHAT NOW?

“I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” - Former California Gov. Arnold Scharzengger Picture from susanica.com

‘’When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up.’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.’’ - Glenn Beck

Picture from Flickr

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The

TRUTH About

Felix B.

A

Faeries

as much harm as simply doing the manual version” For a faerie, using magic is a thing of daily life, but the American dream act totally abolishes it.

boy is walking in the city. He seems to be lost, and has wandered into a bad part of town. He is holding a map as he wanders by. He is aproaching an alleyway. There is a blue shimmer in the alleyway. He starts walking faster, and the blue shimmer moves closer. He starts to run. a faerie walks out of the alleyway, and says “Do you need directions?”, but the boy is already crying and running away. Faeries are treated this way every day.

“When I first moved from Faerieland, into the realm of the humans, I arrived in America. I expected the people there to accepting” said Gristlesplat “I’d heard so much about how free it was there. That’s a stark contrast to the snobby people in Faerieland.”

On july 7th 1777, the American Dream act was adopted from england, When a faerie arrives enters the wormhole that leads them to the and faeries were forever denied the right to cast their spells, and miworld of reality, they usually have gration from faerieland was made no concept of the way things work in extremely difficult.. Today, on “For me, not using my this dimension. Because of this, they average, one hundred faeries can come off as beings with strange are imprisoned daily due to this would be like a not personalities. law. England did away with it on septermber ninth 1999. using its legs.” “When I first came here, I arrived in the united states. A flea market in the American faeries have had to south part of north carolina.It was a horrible hicktown. I was looking deal with their potential being limited by this law. “For me, not using my magic would be like a human not using it’s legs.” Said Shimfor a shop where I could find some toadstools for a ritual that could return me to Faerieland, but they literally did not understand what that merdew Gristlesplat, professor of faerieonomy at the university of york. “It would be nearly impossible to survive” world meant” Gristlesplat said.

magic

human

Gristlesplat has been an advocate for faerie rights ever since she came to the world of the humans. “What humans don’t understand” said Gristlespat, “Is that we’re just as reasonable as any human. We’re a little bit different, but we still think in the same way. We’re not evil .” The fae all use spells whether we like it or not, and they can even use spells to make it hard to detect when they use them in the united states. “I use one spell for my hair, one to clean my room, , I use navigation spells if I get lost, I use one so I can talk to my cat because he has the best fashion sense ever, and my favorite spell is the one I use to grade faerieonomy papers” Says Gristlesplat “None of these could do nearly

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It is situations like this that give faeries their aloof and rude reputation. A faerie in this position could be entirely scared away from the world of humans altogether. Even one that could become a highly esteemed professor of faerieonomy. The Arguments against fae rights are completely statistically based. The main arguments against faerie rights take into account some, but not all of the faeries behavior is the same. There is no reason for this argument against fae rights. The denial of rights for a ethnic group is something that america is supposed to have moved past. In times like this, freedom must be the default choice. F


Faeries WHY

ARE A THREAT TO

AMERICA A BY ALISON M.

little girl is sleeping soundly in bed. The bushes rustle outside. The latch unlocks on its own, allowing the window to slowly and silently slide open. A winged figure climbs into the girl’s room and tiptoes to her bedside. A murmured incantation prevents the girl from waking until after the job’s been done. The creature slides a hand under her pillow and claims its prize: a pearly white bicuspid.

has an outstanding resume, went to an Ivy League school, and has years of experience. The other has no experience in the field and no degree, having just recently immigrated from Faerieland, but can flawlessly do what would be hours of work in a couple minutes with a simple incantation. Allowing faerie magic would be catastrophic to the millions of Americans who would suddenly find themselves at a huge disadvantage to the faeries.

That could be your child’s bicuspid. Faeries have been illegally breaking into homes for decades, getting away with it only because they leave the kid some candy or change in return for teeth. The lovely surprise of finding money under your pillow doesn’t make up for the fact that not only is breaking and entering illegal, but also the practice of faerie magic.

Thus, the American Dream Act has been protecting the jobs of the American people since its adoption in 1777. It has also required higher hurtles for faeries looking to be allowed into the country. Fae rights supporters may complain about how unfair it is to the faeries, but we have to be cautious. Faeries have incredible power at their fingertips, and we simply want to ensure that we aren’t allowing dangerous people to cross our borders. Aside from breaking into homes to steal, of all things, teeth, faeries are known to be able to do all kinds of terrible things, from playing with people’s emotions, to transforming people to beasts. They could leave a crime scene without a spec of evidence, or change their appearance to be unrecognizable, making it near impossible for human law enforceme enforcement to catch them. F

There’s a reason magic is

illegal

Prohibiting their magic may seem intolerant and bigoted to fae rights supporters. But imagine two employees, paid the same salary to do the same job, but one has to actually do the work, whereas the other can simply cast a spell and have it magically done without lifting a finger. Imagine an employer considering two applicants for a posi-

27


Thought Plato

By Wikipedia

Democracy...is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike. A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found among a hundred thou-

sand men. The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time. - a tremendous whack.

Winston Churchill

If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and By PBS.org indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another. Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent.

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing more to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

Think About It Never was anything great achieved without danger. Don’t let schooling interfere with your education. Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there A person with a new idea is a crank until the new idea suc- is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. ceeds. Machiavelli I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overIt could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is throw it. no distinctly native criminal class except Congress. Politics have no relation to morals. Laws control the lesser man... Mark Twain Right conduct controls the The wish to acquire more is adgreater one. mittedly a very natural and common thing; and when men suceed By Meandrichard Patriotism is supporting your in this they are always praised rather than country all the time, and your condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet government when it deserves it. want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for mistakes. by By PBS.org All generalizations are false, including this one.

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The Values of Forum: Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -General George S. Patton One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -Plato Men would live exceedingly quiet if these two words, mine and thine, were taken away. -Anaxagoras Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire. -Epictetus Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind. -Thomas Jefferson Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost. -Jean Jacques Rousseau I think; therefore I am. -Rene Descartes Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question. -Niels Bohr In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher. -Dalai Lama A civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence. -Sigmund Freud Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock. -Sigmund Freud Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. - Ronald Reagan The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents. -Salvador Dali

Osama bin Laden and Michael Scott: Reflections On The Passing Of An Age Story by Nathan W feel weird. I don’t know if I should cry, laugh, or post on Facebook. My dad is somber, and my mom fearful at what repercussions this news could have. But I am emotionless. The personality who has defined my last several years of existence has boarded a plane to Colorado, never to return.

I

Michael Scott has left the building. Michael Scott, the main character on the television show “The Office”, has been my favorite part of my favorite show on TV for 7 years now. As I’ve grown, Michael’s character has matured with me. Michael began the show as a bumbling, moronic boss who left his employees with a bad taste in his mouth. Similarly, I was abrasive, snobby, and hard to be around. I didn’t have a lot of friends, besides my TV and my soccer ball. But then things changed. Michael Scott eventually developed into something new: a well meaning but simple-minded boss who wanted the best for his employees. Meanwhile, I

entered middle school determined to be a kinder, less confrontational person. While I’m still kind of a, um, confrontational person, I like to think that I, like Michael, try to combat my angry demons, no matter how futile this pursuit ended up being. But things change. Steve Carell, the actor who plays Scott, has decided to leave the show after 7 seasons of laughs to focus on his family and his movie career. While I understand why Carell made this choice, I can’t help but feel abandoned, alone. Additionally, this event has forced me to consider the status of my generation: a generation, raised on Twitter and autotuned music, that is about to pass into adulthood. Meanwhile, the age of paranoia and fear crumbles into dust. On May 1, 2011, a depressed and drowsy nation learned of the death of Osama bin Laden, our public enemy #1 and our perennial foe. While I do not condone bin Laden’s actions, I have to recognize him as a sort of fixture with members of my

generation. We grew up with him everywhere: on the TV, on the internet, in the back of our heads as we sat in the airport. Whether we liked it or not, Osama bin Laden defined us: we, the generation of fear. So, as bin Laden is buried at sea and Michael Scott flies off to Colorado, the generation of fear, autotune, Twitter, and Facebook must take its place as an agent of history. We are used to being defined by history: it is time for us to go to college, fight in wars, run for office, and commit crimes. While we may have time left at school, it is still obvious that we have to take the initiative. The death of bin Laden and the exit of Michael Scott are two events that sound completely unrelated: maybe they are, but I don’t chose to think that way. To me, both events signify the passing of an age and the emergence of a new generation. While “The Office” will go on, and terrorists continuing to exist, the times are changing. I woke up today feeling funny, feeling different: maybe,

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Forum

Filling up space with pretty pictures

Picture from fotopedia.com

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S T

H G

U O

L A

H T

N I

F

Thank you, reader, for honoring us with your attention. While this magazine was just a minascule project of four 9th graders, we hope that you learned from and enjoyed this magazine. The world out there is a dangerous place, filled with rascals, thieves, liars, and cheaters. You, kind reader, must take what you have learned from this magazine into the great wide world. We here at Forum have one simple request: that you read the poetry displayed for you on the back cover of this magazine. We believe it provides you, the reader, with the perfect way to end your reading. Goodbye, the Forum Group 31


Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. 32


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