Interactive C-SPAN Bus Visits Local Tuscaloosa Schoo

The C-SPAN Bus, touring the nation to educate middle school, high school and college students about the cable network, made a stop in Tuscaloosa, Ala. today, beginning at Central High School and later moving to Trinity United Methodist Church.

C-SPAN Bus Visits Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Jennifer Curran, a marketing representative for C-SPAN (Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network), travels with the bus and speaks

to students across the United States. She also judges their documentary competition for middle school and high school students. This year, the competition theme is “Dear Mr. President,” prompting students to inform President Obama about issues important to them. Winners receive monetary prizes.

Curran was kind enough to set aside time to speak with my reporting writing across media class before Central high school students came aboard the bus. She explained what C-SPAN is, describing it as an unbiased, unpartisan, commercial-less nonprofit cable network that features newsworthy political meetings in a “fly on the wall” manner–meaning there is no reporter interpreting what is discussed during the meeting covered.  Basically, a camera crew goes around the United States filming important government meetings from beginning to end, or, as Curran says, from “gable-to-gable.”

Though the bus appears big, the interior is packed with computers, televisions and cabinets, making the quarters a tight squeeze for a big group like ours. Remarkably, my class as well as a high school class was able to fit inside. Unfortunately, I only had my measly iphone for taking pictures and video, so here are some more clear pictures from News-Sun.

All in all, I think the C-SPAN Bus is a great tool to educate young students about becoming active within their community. Giving those who are often neglected a voice is an experience beneficial to society as a whole, providing the world with multiple perspectives that would otherwise never be heard.


Swinging and Swaying Voters: May the Best Candidate Win

All yesterday, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were blowing up with this quote:

I’m predicting Obama will get an early lead tomorrow until all of the Republicans get off work to vote.

It’s interesting, especially considering both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are at a “dead heat.” I guess the fact that I’m going to school in the ever-so-conservative state of Alabama explains why the quote is everywhere I look.






As of last night, President Obama was in the lead in the swing states, such as Ohio and Nevada. The polls also show his lead over Romney overall. Another determining factor in the 2012 Election are the single women voters. Women outnumber men at the polls, but there is a difference in those who are married and those who are single as to which candidate women vote for. Single women seem to favor President Obama, primarily for the Democratic party’s stance on women’s reproductive rights and health related issues.

One other determining factor that I’m sad to say is race. Right now, I’m watching the Today show and one of the commentators on the election just said, “I would hate for President Obama to wake up tomorrow morning having lost the presidential election because of a lack of black voters at the poll.” Voting for a presidential candidate based on their race instead of their stance on platforms is ethically and morally wrong. I’m offended that any one would make such a statement.

The 2012 Election is sure to be one for the books with all of the money each candidate has spent and the close call on who will win. As the Hunger Games say, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Never too Young

The Bryant Conference Center at The University of Alabama hosted the 13th annual National Outreach Scholarship Conference themed “Partner. Inspire. Change.” Sept. 30-Oct. 3, bringing together universities and communities from all over the country.

The event was a great way to showcase the way local and national communities have come together to better their homes. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one speech, but Dr. George Daniels, my reporting and writing across media professor, was able to attend several speeches.

As an active member of the Tuscaloosa community, Dr. Daniels watched several of his students, both past and present, display their hard work and dedication to changing the community at the NOSC 2012. Knowing that young children are already working to better the place they call home is a comforting thought for the future.

Although I was unable to attend the majority of the festivities, I was able to hear one discussion on “Engaging Youth, Engaging Neighborhoods” given by Notre Dame faculty member Maria McKenna, three Tennessee high school students and Thomas Davis in the Wilson room of the Bryant Conference Center. The discussion was slightly dry, but seeing HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS impacting their hometown’s government was inspirational.

Seeing such young people influencing their community makes me realize that at the old age of 21, I, too, may change the world around me. I don’t need to be a high powered, authority figure to make a difference.

Having the courage, confidence in one’s own ability and volition to see a problem and fix it is the core to improving a community, even the world. THAT is beautiful.

Best of Luck, Alabama: Voters Say Yes to Trust Fund Referendum

Alabamians voted in favor of the Trust Fund Referendum Tuesday evening, which will transfer $437 million from the state’s Trust Fund to its General Fund to cover the expenses of non-education related services, such as Medicaid and prisons.

At 10:20 p.m., the Associated Press reported 65 percent of voters chose yes. What. Were. They. Thinking. 

A temporary fix to a soon to be ongoing–and possibly bigger–problem, the amendment will only aid the state for the next three years, during which $145.8 million of the sum pulled from the Trust Fund will go towards General Fund spending each year. Yes, the thought of Governor Bentley making budget cuts towards the education fund is a terrifying idea, especially when the state of Alabama ranked as the 45th dumbest state from 2006-2007. Yes, the thought of children state wide getting kicked off Medicaid and not receiving the medical attention every child needs is devastating. That doesn’t justify voting in favor of the amendment.

What many are not taking into account are the multiple ways the state could save money and avoid pilfering from the Trust Fund. For one, the state would save an estimated $48 million simply by switching from paper checks to electronic. Another proposal from Governor Bentley’s Commission on Improving State Government found the state could save an additional $82 million by allowing some government employees retire early.

What really irks me the most are the scare tactics those involved with the Keep Alabama Working committee used to frighten those on the border of the subject to vote yes. One threat they stated was the early release of convicts due to insufficient funding for the prisons. That’s not okay.

I guess we’ll see where the state is three years down the road.

Here’s a video by award-winning journalist Quin Hillyer better explaining the Trust Fund Referendum:

You Can’t Fix a Leaking Pipe With Duct Tape: Vote No for the Alabama Trust Fund Referendum

Today is the day Alabama voters decide to vote in favor of or against the Alabama Medicaid Amendment, Amendment One, which would allow the state legislature to transfer $437 million from the state’s Trust Fund to its General Fund.  The transferred sum would go towards beefing up General Fund spending that has continued to decrease since the 2008 recession.

Although the Birmingham News reporter Joey Kennedy presents a well-informed and thoughtful perspective on why voters should choose yes, I’m going to have to disagree with his opinion. Voting yes to allow the Alabama State Legislature to transfer $437 million from the Trust Fund to the General Fund would be like duct taping a leaking pipe—it may hold for now, but eventually the leak is going to start again and maybe worsen until the issue is addressed properly.

This is for you, Governor Bentley

Kennedy argues that by voting no, the government would have to further cut back on the General Fund Budget, which would in turn adversely effect certain agencies that aid the public such as child welfare, Medicaid, and prisons.

State Representative Craig Ford couldn’t have put it any better: “You would not loan one-fifth of your personal savings to someone without first making sure that all other avenues of funding/assistance or money was not available to the borrower before raiding your personal savings.”

Plus, the amendment doesn’t mandate the money “borrowed” from the Trust Fund be returned to the account. The General Fund covers all expenses related to Medicaid, prisons and courts. Money for the General Fund comes from interest payments received from the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund receives its funding from royalties collected from digging for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. So if the amendment is passed, interest payments on the Trust Fund will be lower, which will therefore reduce the amount of money going into the General Fund later. As Scooby-Doo would say, “ruh-roh.”

In my humble opinion, Governor Robert Bentley should re-evaluate all of the options instead of taking the easy way out. Don’t try to duct tape the leaking pipe, Governor Bentley.  Fix the problem with the longer-term in mind.

Caroline Kennedy’s Speech at the Democratic National Convention Addresses Women’s Rights

Caroline Kennedy’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday,Sept. 6 in Charlotte, NC addressed why the re-election of President Obama is important for women and children.

“The president has been a champion for women’s rights. The first bill he signed was to make sure women can fight for equal pay for equal,” Kennedy said. “His commitment to women is about even more than economic rights—it’s about health care, reproductive rights, and our ability to make our own decisions about ourselves, our families, and our future.”


Caroline Kennedy’s approach towards appealing to women was more subtle that Mrs. Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention, but not quite as well spoken or powerful, regardless of the derogatory way Romney attempted to persuade, specifically women, why her husband Mitt Romney is the best presidential candidate, using love as her accoutrement.

Kennedy is notorious for her lack of public speaking skills and, unlike her father, has difficulty getting her point across to her audience in an effective manner.

However, she discussed a key issue women are faced with today: reproductive health concerns, such as birth control and abortion. Unlike Ann Romney, she brought up a controversial topic that not only effects mother’s and the romantics of the female sex, but each and every female and even, arguably, male.

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