Economy is Not The Only Issue

By Krysta Wagner

The future looks bright for the Republican party as the state of the economy and the passage of national healthcare have encouraged voters to look for new leadership.

The GOP candidates have seized on these issues in an effort to present themselves as the solution to the problems theUnited States currently faces.  As long as Republican candidates can convince voters that they have a definite plan for the future success of the nation, theUnited Stateswill certainly see a new president in the White House after the 2012 elections.

The state of the economy remains the most important issue to voters, increasing the odds that a Republican will win the 2012 presidential elections.

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment in August of this year was 9.1 percent, with 42.9 percent of that number defined as long-term unemployed (without a job for 27 weeks or more).

Rasmussen Reports indicate that half of likely voters believe that Obama’s policies have hurt the economy, while the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll of Sept. 24 indicated that 42 percent of voters strongly disapprove of Obama’s job performance.

On Sept. 22, Rasmussen released a report showing that 44 percent of likely voters trust Republicans to handle the economy while 39 percent trust Democrats.

Still, Republicans need to do more than promise to restore the economy.  They need to prove to voters that they truly wish to serve the American people.

Government corruption has made Americans distrustful of their representatives and voters remain skeptical that anyone they elect will continue to act in their best interests.  Only consistency in their message and their actions will enable the GOP candidates to earn the trust of Americans and win the White House.

 

Comparing GOP Nominees

By Lindsay Cogdill

The Republican presidential nominees are engaging in a game we all remember from the middle school lunchroom: one-upping.  They’re trying to out-conservative each other.  As soon as one claims their position, another speaks up trying to prove that they are the real conservative that America wants.

As an American, I want to know – what happened to actually caring about the future of our country?  To actually caring about the people who live here?

Rick Perry is currently considered the front-runner of the GOP nominees. He recently signed new anti-choice legislation that would require women seeking abortions in Texas to undergo a vaginal probe sonogram, then listen to a biased anti-choice speech about abortion, and then go home for 24 hours to “think about this decision.”

This law demonstrates Perry’s disregard for the rights of women and people who disagree with his views and his ignorance of science. A 2009 Canadian study found that women almost never change their minds about abortions after viewing sonograms.

The law also implies that women are too stupid to know what abortion really means. Fortunately, a federal judge blocked this legislation on the grounds of free speech violation – but I am sure that the anti-choice agenda would be high on Perry’s to-do list if elected.

Perry has spoken out on Social Security, calling it an unconstitutional “Ponzi scheme.”  He has also been in the news for his stances on immigration (surprisingly moderate), and a decision he made as Texas governor to require that girls receive the HPV vaccine.  Michele Bachmann brought that “issue” up in the debate held in Tampa, bringing attention to conservatives’ stances on sexual health and lobbying.

That brings me to Michele Bachmann, who simply appalls me.  She is becoming quite well-known for her propensity to say things that are completely unfounded or just ridiculous. In the HPV vaccine debate, she said Gardasil causes mental retardation.  When journalists question her faulty information, she employs astonishingly clumsy political sidestepping to avoid answering – seriously, watch the video of David Gregory asking about her stance on gay adoption.

Despite her incompetence, Michele Bachmann is popular among extreme conservatives.  My hope is that she will simultaneously prove her own idiocy and point out flaws in her competitors’ electability before she loses the primary, thus splintering the GOP primary votes and making the moderate Republicans look more attractive in light of Tea Party irrationality.

Mitt Romney is the only Republican contender whose views won’t send me into Canada if he wins the nomination.  He is the most centrist of the Republican nominees, which puts him in a difficult position with Tea Party conservatives, but makes him more attractive to the general public.

Romney has come under fire recently for changing his views on issues such as healthcare and abortion (he used to be politically pro-choice but personally pro-life, but has changed to reflect a more conservative attitude). I believe these changes suggest that Romney is much more pragmatic than the others in actually representing constituents’ views. Unfortunately, in our current political climate this means he is shifting in a more conservative direction.

Sarah Palin seems to be testing the waters of candidacy.  She is rallying with the same vigor of the official candidates, but has not yet announced a formal campaign.  This strategy makes her more attractive to some voters, such as those who organize the groups “Conservatives 4 Palin” and “Organize 4 Palin.”

Of course there are other candidates in the running – Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and others.  But the primary election is likely to be a race mostly between Romney, Perry, maybe Bachmann, and Palin once she makes an official announcement – people who base their viewpoints on what their audiences want to hear rather than what the American people really need.  These are the people Republicans are eagerly watching to decide which one should lead our country out of an economic crisis.

Student Government Reaching Out to Campus Community This Year

By Stacey Axler

This year, the Hood Student Government Association (SGA) is striving to become more accessible to the student body in order to present an open forum for ideas and activities posed in the Hood community.

The revamped mission statement of SGA reads, “We, the Hood College SGA, will listen to and advocate for students in order to bring a positive wave of change toHoodCollege.”

SGA President Doug Raftery is planning to help the SGA executives and the student body as a whole work together to facilitate a “wave” of new ideas that will improve campus life.

“A positive wave of change is doing activities that bring about ideas that past student government associations have not done.  We want to do things outside the box,” said Raftery.

SGA members this year have been actively involved in campus initiatives, such as the recent student concerns about Coblentz dining hall policies.

SGA sponsored a “Hot Topic” meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20 that focused on the changes and alterations to the dining hall regulations.

“[SGA] felt like more people would attend the ‘Hot Topic’ meeting.  Campus faculty is very willing to listen to student concerns,” Raftery said.

The “Hot Topic” meeting focused on the recent petition created to persuade the dining hall to re-instate the use of to-go boxes during dinner hours in the dining hall.

Lindsay Cogdill, the senior who headed the petition, said that her contact with SGA regarding the take-out boxes was helpful and productive.

“I think it’s important for students to know that there are ways to change things if you want, you just need to know who to talk to,” Cogdill said. “If you want to see a change, you should go talk to someone in the administration or SGA and make a case for that change.”

SGA wants to find new and innovative ways to easily inform the student body about events and activities that SGA will sponsor throughout the year.

One such way SGA hopes to enhance communication within the student body better is to install a LED sign in theWhitakerCampusCenter.

This sign will be placed in a prominent spot in Whitaker and will showcase different SGA sponsored events occurring on campus.

“The SGA goal is to unite the campus community.  [SGA] wants to sponsor at least four spirit events per year …to have an exciting day for students,” said Raftery.

To further reach out to the entire student body, this year the SGA offers one open Senate meeting per month at 1 p.m. so that commuter students can attend.

Along with the goal of uniting the campus as a whole, SGA members also want to reach out to students by talking to two people per day about SGA initiatives and to brand SGA through promotional publications.

SGA also is working on legitimizing nine new clubs for students to participate.

“With SGA this year, we want to have fun.  We want the student body to know that [SGA] has their back,” Raftery said.

Andrea Kidder contributed reporting.

Documentary on Afghanistan Culture

By Catherine Collins

A documentary entitled “The Beauty Academy of Kabul,” which tells the stories of women inAfghanistan’s capital after the fall of the Taliban, will be shown on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. in Hodson Auditorium.

According to Dr. Kiran Chadda, director of multicultural affairs and international student programs, part of the reason for showing the film on campus is to complement the themes addressed in this year’s First-Year Reads, in which freshmen read “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” a novel by Khaled Hosseini about two women’s lives in Afghanistan spanning the civil war of the 1970s, the rise of the Taliban, and then its fall in 2001.

Since “The Beauty Academy of Kabul” will be screened exactly one week before a lecture by Hosseini on campus, Chadda hopes that students will take advantage of the opportunity to increase their knowledge aboutAfghanistanby watching the documentary.

“Both the film and the novel address the empowerment of women,” said Chadda.

The documentary is about a group of American and Afghan-American hairdressers that travels toKabulafter the fall of the Taliban to open a beauty school and teach Afghan women, who had been brutally oppressed for decades under sharia law, how to express themselves through physical beauty.

“You can see in the movie that these women are so scared and haven’t even left their homes in so long, and you can see in their expressions how happy they are that they can do something,” Chadda said.

The documentary puts a human face onto the struggle of women inAfghanistan, just as Hosseini’s novel does, and it allows viewers a glimpse into the personal lives of real women discovering self-esteem and empowerment.

The panel discussion following the documentary will consist of Fahima Vorgetts, director of the Afghan’s Women Fund, who has spoken at Hood twice in the past, and Dr. Alicia Lucksted, a research psychologist from the University of Maryland.

The Afghan’s Women Fund is an organization that funds projects inAfghanistan, specifically building schools and supporting literacy projects.

The documentary and panel discussion are being funded by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and International Student Programs, the Dean of Students, the Honors Program, the Office of the Provost, the Career Center and Office of Service Learning, the First-Year Read Program and Student Activities and Orientation.

 

Freshmen Plan for Policies

By Stacey Axler

Freshmen Memorial residents Miguel Caruso and Nick Reinberg count down the days to policies for dollars.

Photo by Elaheh Eghbal

October is right around the corner, and with the fall semester reaching the midterm mark, freshman students have experienced a number of Hood traditions so far – except the competition for The Pink Spoon.

Policies for Dollars, the long-standing Hood competition in which freshman students compete in skits and trivia contests to win a giant pink spoon (and some money) for their residence hall, will take place this year on Oct. 6.

“I’m really excited to participate in Policies for Dollars, because I’m excited to be a part of this Hood tradition,” freshman Baily Chezch said.

With the competition only days away, the five residence halls are preparing for the festivities to try and get a head start. And in a welcomed change to the event, freshman commuter students now have a team of their own to compete against the on-campus dorms.

In past Policies for Dollars competitions, commuter students who wanted to participate were encouraged to join residence hall teams. But this year, commuter students will participate in a separate team, which is managed by sophomores Kevin Parker and Travis Kerr, along with the Commuter Student Council.

“I hope that the commuter team becomes the underdog team that wins Policies, like Shriner won last year,” said Anna Mercedes Barbosa, a member of the Commuter Student Council.

The events featured in Policies for Dollars this year include the outdoor obstacle course, group cheers on the quad, the skit and the Jeopardy-style trivia section, which features questions about Hood policies and traditions.

The freshman representatives of each residence hall have been diligently working with their freshman hall-mates to gather a team for each event.

Ravleen Kreshna, a freshman representative for Coblentz, said, “I think that Coblentz will compete really well in Policies, but it is a lot of work to prepare for, and sometimes I wish we started earlier.”

Many freshman students want their residence hall to win Policies for Dollars and thus receive the award of the Pink Spoon, which is a giant pink spoon made out of wood that has been in the college’s possession for over 20 years.

Already, a healthy competition regarding creativity has developed among the residents of various dorms. For example, the freshmen of Memorial Hall and Coblentz Hall were initially both developing very similar skit ideas, leading Memorial Hall to write a new skit.

“I really want Memorial to bring the Pink Spoon back home,” said Memorial freshman representative T’Mera Mitchell.

Shriner Hall won the Pink Spoon during Policies for Dollars last year, and this year, every residence hall and the commuter team are working hard to beat the competition.

“My hope for Policies for Dollars is that Shriner lives up to the expectations set last year,” said Shriner Hall President Carley Altenburger.

Policies for Dollars, which begins on the quad, will ultimately take place in the Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock, and it is open for all students to attend. Regardless of which team wins, the competition is a longstanding Hood tradition that honors and showcases the new freshman students.

“It’d be really awesome to win, but mostly I’m just excited because [Policies for Dollars] sounds like a great way to hang out with the people you live with,” said freshman Amanda Shaffrey.

The residence halls cheer during Policies for Dollars, 2010.

Photo Courtesy of Erin Ordway

“The Debt” Review

By Jarred Braxton

“I knew we would be made to suffer. I knew we’d have to pay.”

Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren (“The Queen”) stars in Academy Award-nominated director John Madden’s (“Shakespeare in Love”) simple and realistic spy thriller about a trio of retired Mossad officers who have to pay “The Debt.”

The film is a flashback narrative that takes audiences back toBerlinin 1966, as the three young Mossad officers Rachel, played by Jessica Chastain (“The Tree of Life”), David, played by Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) and Stefan, played by MartonCsokas (“Aeon Flux”) are stationed to carry out their objective.

“We take him back alive. We’ll show the world what he did.”

Their mission is to capture Dieter Vogel, played by Jasper Christensen (“Casino Royale”), alias The Surgeon of Birkenau, a Nazi war criminal who conducted unspeakable crimes against Jews in World War II, and successfully bring him back toIsraelto stand trial for the actions he has committed.

“You’re trembling. I think you are the one who is afraid, David. Afraid of the monster? Boo!”

Thirty years later, Rachel, played by Mirren, Stefan, played by Academy Award-nominee Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”), and David, played by Ciaran Hinds (“There Will Be Blood”), are known throughout their country for their successful accomplishment of the mission.

Rachel and Stefan’s daughter has even written a book about her parents’ accomplishments regarding the mission, namely that Rachel killed Vogel while he was trying to escape capture.

Israeland Mossad consider the three national heroes for their actions, but a new development comes to light in the form of a man who claims that he is Dieter Vogel, which causes the tree of retired officers to reflect on a dark and dangerous secret they swore to never tell the world about.

“Only four people really know what happened here tonight! No matter what, the truth stays in this room between us!”

This is not your run-of-the-mill James Bond action spy flick. “The Debt” is a quietly intense thriller that won’t have audiences jumping out of their seats but will leave them thoroughly satisfied.

Madden wanted this film’s impression to be how the relationship between the three operatives affected how they executed the mission and allow the audience to realize the gravity of the consequences that lie in store for Rachel, David and Stefan if their secret were to come out.

He was successful in his initial approach but was very vague in regard to how the three’s relationship with Vogel clouded their judgment and led to the resulted outcome of the mission.

What Madden did well regarding the film was how the three’s time together in their apartment base in Berlin shaped how their lives after the mission was over and how their lives would be affected if the world found out that the man who claimed himself as Vogel was alive after 30 years.

Also, the film does an amazing job at how well the characters were transformed in the film. The youthful Chastain, Csokas, andWorthingtonage into the burdened, scarred and weary Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds, who are 30 years apart from each other.

The acting was quite solid yet subtle in the film. Mirren and Wilkinson were the stars of the show during the modern day act of the story while the younger three (Chastain, Csokas, andWorthington) were solid.

The entire first act of the film allowed enough momentum for Mirren to become the driving force behind the second act.

“The Debt” is a movie where everything was done well. The writing, the pacing, the editing, the acting and the directing were very strong, but the only flaw in the design of the film is that it doesn’t exactly take off with the audience’s attention, rather than keep them fixated and hypnotized by the developing action.

It is a nice movie with a lot of insight behind the minds of covert agents with something to hide and live with. Not exactly the year’s best motion picture, but a good movie for an adult audience to kill time with and enjoy.

Cross country team builds momentum

By Demetrius Young

The men’s cross country team prepared to race the competition.

Hood College Athletics

Over the summer and during the past two weeks of school, Hood cross-country runners have trained vigorously and non-stop in preparation for the first meet of the season.

The new and returning athletes of the Hood cross-country team got to display their skills at the Baltimore Metro Meet on Sep. 2.

Before the competition, first-year runner Will Beighley said, “I’m totally excited, and ready to crush the competition.”

The course for theBaltimoremeet was nearly 3.5 miles long and consisted of hills, drops, and twists.

Cross-country runners Brett Shelly and Stephen McNamara finished in 20 and 21 place, and carried the men’s team to a runner-up spot at the season-opener atMcDanielCollege.

Other skillful runners such as Dan Jacobs Matt Dyjack, Justin Cifuentes, Jordan Acton and Dave Gudeman, have shown much promise and intend to continue to hone their skills to their fullest potential.

Theo Jenkins, George Bucheimer, Demetrius Young, Will Beighley, Nathan Dubell and Steven Powell also competed in the race.

Women runners Alexandra Dystant and Gretchen Whitesell clocked times of 21:54.56 and 22:22.23 in the 5K race, rounding out the women to place fifth within the competition.

Cross Country runners Lauren Roesch, Sophie Grizzle and Caitlin Bean made the Hood top five. Heather Silveira, Jessica Zambreny and Sara Bean also competed at the race.

 Alexandra Dystant said, “I was very excited and pleased with my results, but I still want to improve. Coach Ayer and many others expect the team to grow and merge together as a unit.”

Women’s field hockey team brings blazers to victory

By Maegan Green

The women’s field hockey team has had much sucess so far this season.

Hood College Athletics

The Hood Blazers finished strong with a victory over the Bryn Mawr Owls 5 – 1 in the first game of the 2011 season. 

The nonconference matchup was played inBryn Mawr,Pennsylvaniaon Sep. 2.  This victory marks the first time the Hood field hockey team has won a season-opener since 2005.           

Staci Brennan, who has been coaching field hockey at Hood since 2002 said, “We have been working on a lot of strategy in preseason and had confidence coming into our first game. We’re looking forward to the dedication, passion, and commitment of our players.”

Maria Smith scored Hood’s first goal of the game.  Junior forward Megan Cahill of the Blazers scored two goals.  Ashley Darling and Rachel Gannon each scored one goal. In the latter half of the contest, Manya Steinfeld of Bryn Mawr scored the first and only goal for her team. 

The Blazers are starting the season with an experienced line up.  

“About 85 percent of our roster is returning students,” said Brennan.  “I think that the experience and overall speed of our team are our biggest strengths heading into this season.”

The Blazers outshot the Owls 20-12.  “The players have really been working hard,” said Brennan.  “I am very pleased with their work ethic and I see nothing but success.” 

Hood hosted Goucher in the second game of the season on Sep. 8.  The score was tied at 1-1, when thunder and lightning storms forced the contest to be postponed.  

Junior Mariah Stone plays defense for the field hockey team.

Hood College Athletics

 

Book review: “Little Bee” draws readers into emotional story

“Little Bee” by Chris Cleave is a literary hurricane of emotion that makes me grateful that I was lucky enough to stumble upon this novel. Cleave unleashes words that are so heartfelt that I was able to feel the emotional connection between the characters on one page.

In comparison, Cleave will describe some of the most heinous acts that humans can do to each other. Immigration issues, the horrors of oil wars, and the intimate grief within a family are all unraveled in the pages of “Little Bee.”    

In a dual narration between a Nigerian refugee named Little Bee and Sarah, a mother and magazine editor, “Little Bee” tells the eye-opening story of a teenage girl who fled the Nigerian Delta oil conflict in order to find a new life in the British suburbs. The lives of the women first collide on the worst day of Little Bee’s life and then, two years later, on the worst day in Sarah’s life. With a connection that only two broken souls could have, Little Bee found a home with Sarah and her young son. However, they discovered that obtaining a peaceful life would not be easy while being haunted by the secrets and nightmares of the past.

In my personal experience reading “Little Bee,” I thought that the storyline was so consuming and passionate that I was not able to control my emotions; every new page brought a new tear, smile, or grimace to my face. Chris Cleave was able to pull me into the story and give me the opportunity to become emotionally attached the characters. I cried when Little Bee cried, and I laughed along with Sarah. Being able to connect with the characters is a trait that I look for when I deem a novel truly unforgettable. Believe me, “Little Bee” will change the way you look at your life and look at your choices.

 

Spotify: an iTunes alternative

By Vesper Arnett

If you’re a music fan, take note of this. Spotify is a streaming music service that allows you to listen to almost any artist and album that you want at any time. It’s legal. It’s free. It also can hook up to your Facebook account, but more on that later.

The service originated back in 2008 as a better alternative to illegal music piracy and was initially restricted to seven European countries including theUnited Kingdom. It has finally made its way to theUnited Statesthis summer and is currently in Beta invite-only mode, much like Google Plus.

Spotify’s catalogue of music has a lot for users to choose from. Just by glancing at the ‘Top Lists’ tab page, the user can see the top 100 albums for Spotify’s users. Artists in the catalogue include Adele, SBTKRT, Michael Jackson, Robyn, The Decemberists, Nicki Minaj, Beastie Boys, Pixies, Talking Heads, Queen, Björk… you get the picture, there are a lot.

OK, what’s the catch?

Advertisements. Yes, there are ads, just like Pandora, YouTube and Facebook.  They don’t interrupt your listening experience that much, unless you’re really in the heart of an album and are excited for the next song to start. In that case the ads kind of stink, but this service makes an excellent bridge between Pandora and Last.FM, which recommend similar artists based on what you listen to already, but those services don’t let you listen to albums of your choosing in their entirety. If you hear an artist you like on a recommendation service, then you can easily check out their entire discography with Spotify.

Another downside is that you need to download their application from their site, and it also depends on an Internet connection to stream the music. These are minor downsides, but if your laptop’s battery is running low or if you mainly listen to music at work it could pose a problem.

Pandora has a listening cap on its streaming music service, but I haven’t run into that so far on Spotify. I expect to at some point, though finding out what the cap is will probably take a while.

If you don’t like ads or don’t want to wait for an invite, you can always buy their premium service. The premium service allows its users to stream music from your mobile devices with an app.

With Facebook integration, a user can drag and drop songs and playlists into their friends’ inboxes. Spotify also connects with iTunes to import playlists and share them with friends.

Overall I like the service a lot, and I expect that it will get stiff competition from Apple’s iCloud service this fall.