Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Obama Visits India

President Barack Obama is on a 10 day trip in which he’s visiting four different nations. His goal is to help repair the U.S. economy and expand U.S. exports. Obama said, “The primary purpose is to take a bunch of U.S. companies and open up markets so that we can sell in Asia, in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.” His three day stay in India was the longest in a foreign country as president. He is expecting job growth and economic growth through these overseas trips. India is the United States’ 12th largest trading partner and offers a rapidly growing market for U.S. companies. From 2003-2009, trade between India and the U.S. doubled to $37 billion. As of August 2010, the total trade has been $32 billion. Indian officials are hoping that the administration will also loosen restrictions on high technology goods as well, such that would have military and commercial uses.

In my opinion, President Obama’s overseas trip will have a positive long-term effect on our country. From the looks of it, I think the expansion of U.S. exports will help the economy as well as help bring in more money. Obama had also said that he would announce contracts that would be worth billions of dollars in India. With the fast growing rate of India, our businesses and market will benefit quite a bit by strengthening relationships with India. Also, not only India, but the three other nations he’s visiting in Asia should be able to help repair the U.S. economy as well. I hope that this trip pays off and proves beneficial to the United States and its economy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First Human Injected in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Trial

For the first time a human was injected with human embryonic cells. The FDA approved this clinical trial in January of 2009, but later required further research in order for the study to proceed. Embryonic stem cells are only four to five days old when they have the ability to turn into any cell of the body. However, the cells the patients receive aren’t pure embryonic cells anymore. The cells are programmed to make a new spinal cord by insulating the nerve cells. The goal was to permanently repair the damage from the spinal cord injury, or the paralysis. They want patients who have suffered serious spinal cord injuries to be able to respond to physical therapy. The cells being injected into the patients are products derived from stem cells that were harvested from leftover embryos in fertility clinics. This research has been very controversial since the process destroys the embryo.

I hope that this human embryonic stem cell trial will provide the results scientists hope to see. I think this research has full potential since the stem cells coaxed or developed into all of the cell types found in the human body. The embryonic stem cells are much easier to grow and identify compared to adult stem cells. The stem cell research, if successful, can help to treat a number of medical problems. Spinal cord injuries, birth defects, heart diseases, stroke, type 1 diabetes, etc. all have a chance of being cured by this research. Also, stem cells might be able to play a role in the cure of cancer. I feel that this trial was a good idea and it might have a positive outcome.

Deficit Tops $1 Trillion Again

In 2009, the United States had a historically high deficit of $1.42 trillion since 1945. As of 2010, the United States has a deficit of $1.29 trillion. The fiscal 2010 deficit ended on September 30th and represented 8.9% of the economy. The slight decline this year is partially due to higher tax receipts and less spending. Both the corporate tax revenue and receipts from the Federal Reserve rose due to investments in housing and other areas of the economy. However, high unemployment rates caused individual income and payroll tax receipts to remain low. Government spending fell because of declines in costs of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, mortgage payments, and funds spent on federal deposit insurance. Spending rose approximately 5.5% because of increased cash payments on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. However, most money was spent on unemployment benefits. Financial experts say that the large deficits are not the primary source of the country's biggest financial problems.

As we all already know, our economy is not doing good. We are in slight depression as people continue to lose their jobs and finances are becoming a bigger and bigger problem from people everyday. The government has been trying to spend less but I don't think the people of the United States are benefiting from that. The only help they are receiving is the money being spent on unemployment benefits. Individual income and payroll tax receipts are down. I don't think there is any one or overall solution to help fix our financial problems as a country. We just have to work together to help keep our country up and moving.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

San Francisco Considers New Alcohol Fee

San Francisco city leaders are considering imposing a fee on alcohol. The fee would add about 3 cents to a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 4.5 cents to a 6-ounce glass of wine, 3.5 cents to a standard drink with 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. The city controller’s office predicted that the fee would bring in approximately $16 million a year. The money being collected through this fee would help cover expenses that taxpayers end up paying for emergency room visits that go unpaid, prevention programs, a sobering center, and ambulance rides. However, some people argue that it wouldn’t be the right thing to do during an economic time like this. Alcohol and hospitality industries are also against the fee.
Personally, I believe that this alcohol fee should be levied. There would probably be an extremely slight decrease in alcohol purchases, which would reduce the amount of alcohol consumption. Also, the fee would help cover costs that are related to alcohol and drinking. The money collected through the fee would be a lot of help. John Avalos, a San Francisco Supervisor as well as the chief backer of the proposal, believes that this fee will help “make the city sidewalks safer and provide hope and dignity for people struggling in the streets and alleys”. I think this is a good idea and it just might bring a positive change in the city.

Nine Years After 9/11, Is Al-Qaeda's Threat Overrated?

It has been nine years since the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers, yet al-Qaeda still seems to be a huge threat to the United States. However, is the rate of al-Qaeda’s threat really as high as we think it is? Even all these years later, al-Qaeda and bin Laden are a hot topic for National Security agents.  President Barack Obama said the burning of the Koran would be a recruitment tool for such extremities. He said, “No challenge is more essential to our security than our fight against al-Qaeda.” Also, systematic police work and military strikes have reduced bin Laden’s movement to a handful of followers that are hiding for U.S. drones in Pashtunistan.
In my opinion, yes, al-Qaeda is an overrated threat to our soil. It’s important that National Security stays informed about al-Qaeda and the possible threat he can be to our nation. However, there is a limit to how much importance we give this threat. We have to realize that the attacks took place 9 years ago, and although there still is a threat to us, it’s not such a major issue anymore. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give al-Qaeda any importance, but I feel that we should limit the amount of importance we give him.