Australian Drivers License

One thing I will never take for granted again is the fact that I am 16 and am able to drive a car. In Australia, the legal age to drive is 18 but most people don’t actually get their license until they are 19 or 20. The process to receive a license is long and complicated. The Australian government created this new process based on a statistic released around 10 years ago stating that most car accidents involve young, teen drivers. Through a three-step process, after about 2 years, teens will be lucky to have a full license by the age of 18.

The process begins at age 16 after you have taken a program similar to Drivers-Ed. Once you have finished the program, you may apply to receive your “L’s.” This means you are allowed to drive a vehicle with your parents present and in the passenger seat. This license is only valid for two years and the driver must log at least 160 hours to be able to move on to the next step. While a driver is in their L stage, they must place a yellow sign on the back of their car with an “L” so other drivers know there is a learner driving the vehicle.

Once the driver has logged 160 hours for at least a year, (most people say this is near impossible and very few manage to complete 160 hours in a year) they are then allowed to move on to their “P’s.” P stands for Provisional License. Most people receive their provisional license around the age of 18. This license means that the drivers are allowed to drive in a car by themselves but they must always be driving at least the equivalent of 10 miles per hour below the actual speed limit. Drivers who are driving under a provisional license must put a red “P” sign on the back of their car so other drivers and police know they still do not have a full license. If a driver is pulled over and they do not have their “P” or “L” sign on the back of their car their consequence is either a large fine or they have to restart the whole process, it depends on the driving law violated.

Once the driver has finished all of the steps on the “P” levels, they must go to the equivalent of the DPS and take a test. Apparently the test is fairly easy and few people fail, but if the test is failed, the driver must return to their “P” levels for a few months depending on the mark they made on their final exam. I am not sure what the statistics are comparing the death rates of teen drivers from the United States to Australia but I feel the Australian license process is too harsh and it should be easier to get a drivers license.

 

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Example of an “L” license.

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Example of a “P” license.

Selecting Judges

States have developed a variety of methods for selecting judges. For example, Texas’ judges are elected – from the local Justice of the Peace all the way to Justices of the Texas Supreme Court. And in Virginia, on the other hand, judges are appointed by the state legislature – and then must be reappointed from time-to-time. What method of selecting judges best guarantees that judges will serve effectively in all of the ways envisioned by the Founders: Should judges be appointed (for life) or elected?

Now that you have read Federalist #78, be sure to explain Hamilton’s point-of-view on lifetime appointments as well as your own.

The Evolving Nature and Style of Representation

Rep. Albert Gore, Jr. of Tennessee was the first to speak when the U.S. House of Representatives first began live, televised debate on the House Floor in 1979. “It is a solution for the lack of confidence in government,” Congressman Gore said, alluding to the public’s post-Watergate demand for a more transparent government. “The marriage of this medium and of our open debate has the potential, Mr. Speaker, to revitalize representative democracy.”

2013-10-27-socialmediaiconsToday, we are in the midst of another media revolution: text, email, websites, wikis, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, Quora, RSS Feeds, Instagram, Vine… today, the Internet is social, interactive, and collaborative. Nonetheless, it’s possible that Representative Gore’s comment from 1979 has implications for us today – as we consider ways that social media shape legislators’ evolving relationships with their constituents. With today’s assignment in mind, please share your opinion on the question below:

What impact should social media have on the way legislators represent their constituents as trustees and delegates today?

Changing the Rules

At the age of eighteen, American citizens have the right to vote, sign contracts, purchase tobacco products, get married, and join the military. All of these rights seem like they would require a lot of responsibility from a citizen, right? Then why, I wonder, do you have to be twenty-one years old to purchase alcoholic beverages? Is it to help prevent reckless drunk driving or are eighteen year olds only mature to die for their country rather than drink a glass of wine? If I were a soldier at the age of eighteen, I would hope that I was mature enough to drink an alcoholic beverage. I would already be trusted with a -gun- so what’s the harm in trusting me with a bottle of beer? I certainly don’t see the danger if I’m a responsible adult.

The drinking age originates from the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 which says that any state that has a drinking age lower than twenty-one will have a percentage of federal highway funding withheld. States decide the drinking age but all have agreed on the age of twenty-one due act in 1984 that was originally passed as one of many ideas to prevent drunk driving accidents. The plan had good motive but it failed to succeed its expectations, proven by a statistic in 1992 that showed drunk driving fatalities to be decreasing at a remarkably low rate. So if the original goal was never fulfilled, why do we still continue to make what we legally define as an adult wait three extra years to drink?

 

The map above displays the drinking ages around the world. It seems prominent to note how few countries have a legal drinking age of twenty-one and how many have a drinking of eighteen. There’s also a remarkable amount  of countries that have no drinking age at all. Studies show that during the 1980s, when the drinking age was first implemented, America had a lower decrease in drunk driving accidents than in European countries with a legal drinking age of eighteen. Perhaps it’s just coincidence but the statistics for other countries show lower drinking ages to be working just fine for the rest of the world. There’s a study that shows when teenagers are able to drink in a safe and controlled environment, they often grow up to be responsible drinkers. This is most likely because they get the chance to learn early what alcohol is like rather than when they turn 21 and buy their first case of beers. In the past decade alone, the highest percentage of fatal accidents while drunk driving occurred in the twenty-one to twenty-four age group where many are first starting to drink. Doesn’t it seem like a better idea to allow people to drink earlier and learn before they drink a lot when they’re finally legal and make a huge mistake?

http://drinkingage.procon.org

http://www2.potsdam.edu/alcohol/LegalDrinkingAge.html#.UycxJvldWMM

http://www.chooseresponsibility.org/legal_age_21/

http://www.creativeclass.com/_v3/creative_class/_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/the-boozers-map.png

What’s Wrong with NSA Wiretaps?

                While the idea of NSA wiretaps seems unsettling to any American, when the pros outweighs the cons it is definitely worth it. Even though most Americans don’t feel coImagemfortable with the idea of the government watching over every call they make and text message they send, why that is a problem is the real question. Most Americans should not have to hide anything, and if so what exactly are they worried about the government finding? They don’t read every individual text message or listen to all the phone calls that happen. They only track people who they have reason to be suspicious of, who need to be tracked. They don’t want to spend their time listening to people’s conversations about their everyday life; they track the real criminals. Listening in on these wiretaps have stopped a total of fifty-four attacks. While this number may seem small, the amount of lives being saved in total is more than worth it.   

                  The people who claim that it’s a violation of freedom and privacy are right, but if the American government does not do everything in their power to be able to save lives and stop harm coming to our country, we will lose freedom completely. Why should people care if their texts are being monitored? Unless they have something to hide, these wiretaps will do them no danger. The government officials do not care about a man having an affair, or just normal everyday conversations. They choose people who use words that stick out to them, such as “terrorism” and “bombs” and “threats”. Even if it does go against the Fourth Amendment, the wiretaps are only being sued for safety, and the only people affected are those who are planning to commit the crimes and those whose lives are saved. The government can only listen to a phone call for a certain amount of time anyways (How Wiretapping works). Why not let the government listen to our phone calls? If we have nothing to hide we shouldn’t worry about what they could hear.

                 If ten people were saved at each of the fifty-four terrorist attacks that were stopped by wiretapping, that would be a total of five hundred and forty people. The attacks could have even been bigger. If every attack harmed around one hundred people, that’s over five thousand people that the government is able to save. If they had heard the threats about 9/11, that would be over three thousand people who could still be with their families and loved ones today. If someone was told that they would die unless the government was able to wiretap the public’s phones, they would Imageno doubt say that wiretapping should be legal when it’s their own life being taken. Some people do not understand how many lives could have been taken away with all of these terrorist attempts until it’s something that affects them. Someone’s personal feeling of privacy should not be put before saving lives. If the United States just sat by while people around the world were being killed, we wouldn’t still be a country of freedom. It seems more unjust not to try to save lives than to keep with the Fourth Amendment.

If people don’t like the way they American government runs, then they can leave.

http://www.propublica.org/article/claim-on-attacks-thwarted-by-nsa-spreads-despite-lack-of-evidence

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2006/03/nsa-eavesdropping-and-fourth-amendment.php

http://people.howstuffworks.com/wiretapping1.htm

#NoKidsPolicy: The Law Keeping Paparazzi from Celeb-Babies

A person’s childhood is comparable to a snowflake in that no two are alike. Everyone is born into a unique living condition. Some are born into wealthy families, some are born into poverty, and some are born into a situation in which thousands of people care bout you before you’ve been given the chance to do anything notable. This unique living situation belongs to the children of our beloved celebrities. Recently there has been a bit of an uproar amongst celebrity mothers for the protection of their “celebabies.”

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A demand for action against the paparazzi was issued and the higher-ups obliged with the Senate Bill No. 606.This bill protects children, age 16 and younger, from being harassed due to the employment of their parents or legal guardian. In other words, this law put in place legal consequences for the stalking and documenting of celebrity offspring.

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Although it is very difficult to argue against this bill, it is certainly not impossible. In fact, it has sparked a considerable amount of controversy in that the penalty for a first time offender could be to serve up to a year in jail or pay a fine of $10,000 and with additional offenses the fine jumps up to $30,000 and may even be paired with a year’s sentence. Parents even reserve the right to seek several forms of extensive civil penalties against the paparazzo in order to receive financial compensation for the violation. These consequences seem a little steep for just fulfilling a consumer demand to see cute pictures of their role models’ children. Especially considering that these people are technically just journalists and are protected by the same speech rights as provided in the First Amendment as common folk and Hollywood starlets alike.

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Lou Virelli, a constitutional law professor at Stetson University in central Florida, explains that the law targets “any person who intentionally harasses the child or ward of any other person because of that person’s employment… harassment means knowing and willful conduct directed at a specific child that seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the child and that serves no legitimate purpose – and that includes recording an image or voice.”

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 Mr Virelli’s definition of harassment is fascinating in itself, bringing to the table a newly necessary discussion of how to distinguish journalism from distressing conduct; papparazi or the middlemen of a celebrity-ravenous culture?

 

“There will be an endless supply of hungry and ambitious photographers (or even people with cellphones) stepping up to fill the void. Who is really responsible for the harassment of the famous and the children of the famous? We are. Everyone who picks up a tabloid paper while waiting to check out at the drug store.” Gordon Coonfield, a communication professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia.

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This, however, does not justify the inconsiderate actions of the paparazzi towards these children, and in no way does it take away from the positivity of the Senate Bill No. 606.Image It is obviously a positive restriction to implement into this people-praising society we live in. The fact that a child can become so profitable to a man with a camera, provided that its parents are highly regarded in modern media, is slightly disturbing and, above all, it isunfair to the child.

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Although many children are born into unfortunate environments, it does not mean we should cease doing everything in our power improve the severity of their situations. Being preyed on and exploited at such an early age would be traumatizing to anyone.Halle Berry compares dropping her child off at school to venturing through a “battlefield.”  Whether the blame is placed on the paparazzi, or the incompetency of the parents, the children are still innocent and the subsequent confusion stemming from these harassment cases is undeniably damaging to the psyche of such vulnerable beings. Thus, it is indisputable that the exploitation and harassment of celebabies becoming a legal issue was the right move. Good call, America. 

 

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-justjared-people-magazine-no-kids-policy-kristen-bell-20140225,0,6034718.story#ixzz2v3hm0aBD

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-justjared-people-magazine-no-kids-policy-kristen-bell-20140225,0,6034718.story#axzz2v3h53rTz

http://verdict.justia.com/2013/10/22/flaws-californias-new-law-regarding-paparazzis-harassment-celebrities-children

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/25/us-usa-california-paparazzi-idUSBRE98O04A20130925

http://verdict.justia.com/2013/10/22/flaws-californias-new-law-regarding-paparazzis-harassment-celebrities-children

 

Homes for Animals in Our Communities

Dog in Shelter

Animal shelters and humane societies are essential in communities for the many benefits that they provide. They are known for providing new homes for animals that come from the streets, or have been abandoned by previous owners. These animals are priced at an affordable rate, as opposedto dogs that come from pet stores or breeders. Animal shelters promote the safety of animals and the responsible ownership of pets. They also offer a solution to puppy and kitten mills. Most animal shelters also offer low cost treatment for pets who become ill and whose owners cannot afford to take them to a private practicing veterinarian.

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I am an active volunteer with the Humane Society of North Texas, and experience the service of animal shelters firsthand. Each animal gets their own kennel, food and water, and they are walked and socialized daily. The staff works very hard to encourage adoptions, and frequently drive the dogs to adoption days at different locations. It is extremely rewarding, but in no way is it ideal. The best possible scenario would be all cats and dogs had homes, and there were no strays wandering about in the community. Because that ideal is not achievable in the foreseeable future, animal shelters are great solutions.

After researching, I was shocked to find that some cities do not have a humane society of their own or anywhere to take or adopt animals without homes. I discovered that some local governments have not funded the creation of a local pound or humane society. This poses a problem because the alternative to government funding is individual funding. Starting up an animal shelter with private funds is incredibly difficult and expensive, which is the exact reason why in many cities the local government provides funds for the shelters. They do this for the betterment of public health and safety. This seemed to me like it would be an obvious standard public service that all local governments provide, but sadly it isn’t. This not only does a disservice to the animals themselves, but it does a disservice to the community.

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In our government class, we learned about the pathways of political action as ameans to get your voice heard. The members of these communities who want shelters added to their cities could effectively raise awareness for their cause by using the lobbying pathway. This pathway involves attempting to influence the activities, actions, and institutions of government by supplying information, persuasion, or political pressure. By drawing the attention of key government officials in their area, they could work together to make a change and achieve a satisfying end result.

SOURCES:
http://www.humanesociety.org/
http://saawinternational.org
http://animalsheltering.org/marketplace/