Aslinn Scott - University of Colorado Boulder

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius helped kick off the Conference of World Affairs at CU Boulder earlier this week by complaining that America has spread its “bad habits,” such as smoking, to other countries.

“Globalization spread some of our bad habits,” she said. “Tobacco use and over consumption. (Non-communicable diseases) are killing people in every country and every part of the world.”

It was one part of a keynote address at the annual conference that ignored the massive stumbling blocks the attempt to socialize medicine in America has faced under her tenure.

Her talk on Monday offered hardly any praise for Obamacare – save the claim it helps prevent diseases.

“Part of Affordable Care Act is to diagnose the illness before it becomes a problem,” Sebelius said. “It is something that has been underreported and there are real preventions being made for this country.”

Sebelius mostly focused on how America needs help from other countries to battle disease, improve healthcare, evade bio-terrorism, and fight outbreaks.

She launched her talk by citing the swine flu outbreak in 2009, saying the United States could not tackle the crisis “alone.” She called for global partnerships, saying health doesn’t end at “national boundaries.”

“We need to lead from a community of nations and learn from a community of nations,” she said.

Sebelius suggested globalized healthcare means the advancement of medical cures and healthier people, who can then contribute more to the economy.

“Reality one: actions and outbreaks can happen anywhere,” she said. “Reality two, advancements for us is advancements for us all. … Healthier people mean a more prosperous economy.”

Global health, as Secretary Sebelius added, is also a security and wellness concern.

“Dr. Friedman once said, ‘The health and security of U.S. is only as healthy and prosperous as the rest of the world,’” she said. “One million people enter the U.S. alone. Seven million international people traveled through Dulles. And 826 million travel across country.”

“It’s a whole new way to catch a cold. Airplanes also carry countless goods, people, and products into the United States. Eighty percent of fish come out of seas not our own. Fifty percent of fruit come from outside our borders.”

Secretary Sebelius cautioned that the economy only told one part of the story regarding this globalization of health, saying national security is also a factor. For example, terrorists may develop bio-weapons.

The United States should not only be a leader in combating these threats, but should adopt a “willing partner” stance in finding solutions, she said.

“Significant imports and exports go beyond products,” she said. “It’s ideas, healing and knowledge.”

“It’s more than a security agenda, it’s an economic agenda, humanitarian agenda, and diplomatic agenda.”

Sebelius said that, despite the American innovations that have revolutionized human health globally, America lacks in other areas, such as women’s health and family planning mechanisms.

“We trail behind the world, and frankly, it’s inexcusable,” she said. “Healthly mothers mean healthy babies. We are letting down generations.”

College Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: United Nations / Flickr

A proposal to mandate premarital education classes in Colorado has been met with opposition by many young people who say the notion is intrusive and ill conceived.

The California-based Kids Against Divorce has proposed the Colorado Marriage Education Act for the November 2014 ballot, arguing “marriage license laws need to be amended such that a marriage license be treated as any other license and held to a minimal level of required education.”

While the group suggests such a law would reduce the divorce rate and slash the “billions of dollars taxpayers spend annually on divorce,” young people are not warming up to the idea.

In classroom conversations, newspaper columns and casual discussions, Colorado college students – the group that likely would be the most effected by the measure, if approved – have expressed an aversion to the idea of forced premarital counseling or education.

University of Colorado-Boulder sophomore Katie Boyer, 20, said marriage is a personal matter, and that government intervention wouldn’t solve the problem of divorce.

“These are private issues, the government doesn’t need to be involved in,” Boyer said in an interview with The College Fix. “There is something about this that rubs me the wrong way.”

CU Boulder senior Julian Adorney, 23, said the government doesn’t need to provide options for counseling that is already available through other venues, such as churches. He said it would be another government waste of time and money.

“This is going to do nothing except spoil the state’s coffers,” he said.

During an upper-division conflict resoltion class at CU Boulder in late January, about 35 students of different ages and political leanings debated the proposal, and it was clear progressives, liberals, moderates and Republicans all agreed that it should fail.

And writing in the Rocky Mountain Collegian, Colorado State Univerity freshman Sean Kennedy urged his peers not to support the endeavour, opining that “there are things that can be done to curb divorce, but invading the private lives of citizens is not one.”

Meanwhile, the proposal has also generated a nationwide discussion on its merits. Although the organization recently withdrew its petition, its website states it will resubmit the paperwork “soon.”

Kids Against Divorce’s website suggests faith-based organizations, such as churches, temples and other nonprofits, would teach a state-approved curriculum. It’s unclear exactly how the counseling would be funded or what the curriculum would entail.

As originally proposed, the ballot initiative sought to require engaged couples to complete 10 hours of pre-wedding education for their first marriage and additional hours for second and third marriages. The initiative also suggested a tax cut for couples who voluntarily complete additional marriage education each year.

Alyx Reese-Giles, who was married for a third time in November and had previously gone through premarital counseling through her church, told The Denver Post it was a bad idea.

“This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard,” Reese-Giles stated. “The government has no business deciding what education people should or should not get before entering marriage. Marriage is about communication and being ready to commit, and no class is going to teach you that.”

College Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.

HELENA, Mont. – The newly formed College Republicans at Carroll College hosted their first major event with a bang – bringing in the guy many young people consider the coolest Republican lawmaker in the nation to share the stage with a member of the ACLU.

Not for a debate. It was actually a bipartisan panel on internet privacy rights.

That’s right – the rise of Big Brother has not only brought together typically warring factions, but the Big Sky state is also surprisingly leading the charge against the National Security Agency’s intrusive tactics thanks to state Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings, called by some the “face of online privacy rights in the U.S.”

Zolnikov, 26, authored a bill last April to ban cell phone tracking without a search warrant in Montana. It went on to become the first such law like it in the nation, paving the way for other states to follow. Maine followed suit, for example.

Since last spring, Zolnikov has become a national champion for privacy rights, speaking all over the country on this issue. His progressive legislation even came about before Edward Snowden was a household name.

“A government entity may not obtain the location information of an electronic device without a search warrant issued by a duly authorized court,” states the bill, HB 603.

Zolnikov, a young, hip rising star among the Republican ranks who accepts bitcoin political donations alongside cash, was described in a Mashable profile as the lawmaker who “posts his votes on Facebook, has a Russian last name, and a father who was born in Iran. His name is Daniel Zolnikov, and he’s the unlikely politician who sparked a trend that could sweep through the nation.”

That Zolnikov parterned with Niki Zupanic, the Montana Public Policy Director of American Civil Liberties Union, and like-minded Democrats to pass his legislation and make waves in his home state and beyond may just add to his savvy.

The success he achieved was accomplished through bipartisan support, the lawmaker readily acknowledged at the Carroll College panel, held Jan. 21.

“Crossing or ignoring party lines is important on this issue,” Zolnikov said during the panel discussion. “I got to know the other side of the aisle with the legislature.”

Furthermore, Rep. Zolnikov – being from a family descended from Italian and Russian immigrants, believes that history has already given Americans enough warning about the need for privacy from the government, he said. Not only historical examples in Nazi Germany, but also with J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI data collection that essentially controlled people, he said.

“Hoover said once, ‘We want no Gestapo or search police,’ ” Zolnikov noted. “By 1960, the FBI had files on some 432,000 Americans. Hoover used this information to blackmail politicians.”

In Nazi Germany, the government also collected information on their citizens, and Zolnikov compared the collection to what the NSA facility currently has.

“The facility in Stasi Germany had 200 km of files, or 48,000 filing cabinets,” Zolnikov said. “The NSA facility has 42 trillion filing cabinets if they printed all the information.”

Zolnikov said he pursued his landmark legislation beyond constituent concerns because of his desire to live in a country with vibrant free speech and the freedom to act without constraint. He said Americans must pursue more measures to that end.

“People have the right to hide something,” Zolnikov said. “We are self-censoring ourselves and forced to not do anything. We are becoming less free as a result.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union has heartily joined with Rep. Zolnikov and other legislators in the state to prevent self censorship and protect Americans’ privacy rights.

“We appreciate not letting the bias get in and working with Representative Zolnikov,” the ACLU’s Zupanic said during the panel.

Zupanic said there has been strong national support to return privacy to the American people, even from those who originally drafted the Patriot Act.

“The reaction in Congress is strong and bi-partisan,” Zupanic said. “Even Representative Sensenbrenner, one of the original authors of the Patriot Act, was alarmed by the broad interpretation of the Patriot Act.”

College Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at the University of Colorado – Boulder.

IMAGE: Facebook

OPINION: Women Deserve Better Than Liberal Label

“Independent. Active. Adventurous.”

Those are three terms the Denver-based magazine 5280 reported in its December article titled Colorado Women as “quintessential” ways to describe the fairer sex who call this beautiful state home.

As a woman born and raised in Colorado, I agree. They describe Colorado women not only accurately, but intimately.

Colorado and Western women are no pleasant Southern belles, nor do we relate to the provincialism of our Northeastern female counterparts. We’re just made of that Rocky Mountain rugged charm, where ChapStick counts as lipstick. And we make it look good, too.

We wear flat boots and look just as sexy as in any pair of high heels. We can survive blistering cold winters and wilderness. Some may wonder whether we have chill in our veins. We keep ‘em wondering.

We pride ourselves on ingenuity and state with certainty Colorado has led the way the way for women.

The article mentions Eliza Routt, who in 1893 as the wife of the first governor of Colorado – a Republican – was the first woman to register to vote, among a long list of noteworthy philanthropic accomplishments. She also founded an orphanage and helped build a women’s home.

But there was a troubling trend among the more modern females featured in Colorado Women, which included nods to: Congresswoman Diana DeGette; former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder; Roxane White (chief of staff to Gov. Hickenlooper); former Secretary of State Madeline Albright (who spent her teen years in Denver); Katherine Archuleta (the first Latina to lead President Obama’s campaign as a national political director); state Rep. Rhonda Fields; former state Sen. Evie Hudak; and state Sen. Morgan Carroll, president of the Colorado Senate – just to name a few.

What do these women have in common? They’re ALL liberal Democrats.

There wasn’t one explicit Republican woman mentioned save former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who received her bachelor’s and PhD from the University of Denver.

In presenting the history and the women in the article, one label that the magazine implied is that Colorado women, in addition to being “independent, active and adventurous” are also all “liberal.”

That’s where I draw the line.

5280 (a nod to Denver’s elevation of 5,280 feet) in its list of accomplishments among Colorado women praised the anti-gun legislation pushed by Democrat representatives in the state.

However, when did infringing on a woman’s right to self defense become something worth praising?

What’s more, our strong Colorado Republican women weren’t even mentioned for their efforts in bringing up this point. As Western Regional Vice Chair for the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) and Chairwoman of the Colorado Federation of College Republicans, I had a front row seat to see many women leaders in this state fight for their Second Amendment rights this year.

I work with young Colorado women all the time who are conservative, libertarian, Republican – and just plain tired of being pigeonholed, in Colorado or across the nation. But that gets ignored, swept under the rug. Women aren’t supposed to be conservative, you see. And those who are get mocked, a la Sarah Palin. (So much for women treated equally.)

The article mentioned that the main two female representatives who pushed the anti-gun legislation received death and rape threats, demonstrating the difficulty women have serving in public office. I am completely appalled and condemn those who sent such threats to Rep. Rhonda Fields and Sen. Evie Hudak.

Yet, it’s wrong for the magazine to praise these women without telling the whole story, such as when state Sen. Hudak deprecated rape victims who testified against these bills last session.

Hudak was the one who infamously told a rape victim she didn’t need a gun to prevent rape.

Amanda Collins, a Nevada woman who was raped while walking to her car at the University of Nevada-Reno, had testified against the concealed carry ban on Colorado campuses, claiming she could have protected herself against her assailant if she had been carrying. But because of the university’s no weapons policy, Collins was not in possession of her firearm, although she did have a concealed carry permit.

Sen. Hudak’s reply was unbelievable: “I just want to say that actually, statistics are not on your side even if you had had a gun.” Hudak went on to say that according to the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence, “for every one woman who used a handgun to kill someone in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by them.”

Actually, the statistic Hudak presented was falsely quoted.

According to the Violence Policy Center study, which analyzed the 1998 FBI statistics, “for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate acquaintance in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by an intimate acquaintance with a gun.”

What type of woman does this? Simple, one politician, and others of similar ideology, who have an interest in regulating women’s lives and defense choices rather than empowering them.

As a Western woman, and a native Colorado woman, I pride myself on being independent, active, adventurous, and a feminist on the Right.

I may be in a man’s world, but I certainly don’t have to accept that narrative. It’s time that women stood up and demand to lift the liberal brand off by the media rather than continue to be subjected to it. 5280 did a disservice to all of its readers, not the least of which its female ones.

We deserve more than a liberal label.

Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.

Humans are about as special as bacteria, and the species is about to die off, probably in some sort of global Armageddon or end-of-days climate shift of epic proportions.

That according to Dr. Guy McPherson, a University of Arizona professor emeritus, in a recent speech at the University of Colorado Boulder, during which he predicted humans will die off by 2040.

“All species go extinct,” McPherson said. “We’re about as special as bacteria. … In 2040, there will be little to no humans.”

The end of the world is approaching, the globe is headed into “Armageddon,” McPherson told the roughly 80 people in attendance in a talk sponsored by Local Food Shift and the student-fee funded CU Environmental Center, an arm of the campus student government.

McPherson, a leading voice in the countercultural living and environmental doomsday movements, told the crowd he escaped the Ivory Tower of higher education and now homesteads in New Mexico. He encouraged others to do the same in order to make the most of life before The End. GM

McPherson’s Oct. 16 talk largely centered on two concepts: that global climate change is leading to the end of human civilization and life; and that humans need to move away from a materialistic lifestyle and take after a Socrates-like lifestyle.

McPherson asserted that global warming denial will cost humanity the highest price. 

“Warming of the planet will remove habitat,” McPherson said. “Without plankton in the ocean there goes half of the food supply.”

McPherson went on to describe a series of reports in 2012 about climate change, citing one which stated: “Global warming is unavoidable unless there is massive geo-engineering.” 

Humans don’t have much time with the positive feedback loops impacting the planet due to the releasing of methane, he warned. The deadline to extinction is already predicted, he added.

“There are twelve self-reinforcing feedback loops in 2013 and acceleration is fully underway,” McPherson said. “In 2040, there will be little to no humans.”

McPherson added that this global warming problem has been perpetuated by the burning of fossil fuels and drilling for oil, which has released methane into the environment at an increased rate.

“In 1847, George Perkins, a naturalist and an ambassador, predicted that burning fossil fuels will increase (the planet’s temperatures),” McPherson said. “We’ve had that warning for a while. Again, in 1986, a report by the Secretary of the Navy, also made the same prediction. Keep burning fossil fuels and we will be extinct.” 

In the end, with global warming wiping off all plant life and the food sources, humans will perish, he said. Knowing this impending demise is coming, humans have an opportunity to change the focus of their lifestyle, one that involves helping those in need instead of cultivating materials and wealth, he added.

“Looking for someone they can help,” McPherson said, “instead of materialistic goals.”

Dr. McPherson elaborated more on leaving the materialistic world behind by claiming Socrates’ lifestyle was the ideal that humans should strive to attain.

“Pursue what you love,” McPherson said. “Instead of what culture tells you. What do we do in this world? Make money? We don’t ask that question enough. We should be so lucky to live that long. To even ask six questions like Socrates.”

McPherson claimed he is gifted, and he hopes others will spread his message further.

“I have a couple of gifts. Remind others that we are mortal and live accordingly. We need to be reminded of it,” McPherson said. “Culture says we are never going to die. We’ve reached the end of days.”

Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.

IMAGE 1: TruthOut/Flickr, Image 2: Facebook screenshot

CLICK HERE to Like The College Fix on Facebook / TWITTER: @CollegeFix

Today, Hollywood appears to depict tough women who like to shoot guns, will defend themselves in a dark, dangerous forest, and can take a good beating.

But don’t be fooled – Twilight’s Bella, Hunger Games’ Katniss, trained assassin Hanna, Kickass’ Hit Girl and other tough female characters are actually all victims of a patriarchal society that continues to put women in their place, a professor recently asserted.

In effect, women are hunted animals and abuse of girls is eroticized as Hollywood and popular culture trains audiences to enjoy the subjugation of women, perpetuating the male-dominated world, said Vanderbilt University philosophy Professor Kelly Oliver in a recent guest lecture at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Hunting shows. Modeling shows. Hit Hollywood movies. They’re all guilty of it, she said.

“Hunting groups are targeting women, which is why we see Hot Girls and Hunting shows,” Oliver said. “They are the hunters, but also the hunted.”americas-next-top-model-hunting-trophies

Oliver, the W. Alton Jones Chair of Philosophy at Vanderbilt with appointments in African-American and diaspora studies, film studies, and women’s and gender studies, showed an image of how even American’s Next Top Model featured women as animal trophies, claiming this reveals “women are akin to animals” and “women are animals.”

“Princesses are often seen in the accompaniment of animals, as having special bonds with them,” Oliver added during her talk, titled “Hunting Girls: Patriarchal Fantasy or Feminist Resistance?”

She went on to discuss how Hollywood often depicts women as being hunted and not empowered. She cited Hanna, Winter’s Bone, The Hunger Games and Twilight: Breaking Dawn II, noting each of these films featured teenage girls who may be armed and dangerous, but are hunted prey nonetheless.

This is unlike the cutesy Disney princesses, who retain more subjugated feminine qualities, she said. These new girls are wild and are capable of surviving in harsh conditions, exhibiting their resilience and tough attitudes by hunting prowess. But despite their hunting and weaponry skills, these women remain lower to men, Oliver said.

“They stalk the forest, rather than be at the top of hierarchy as equals,” she said.

Plus, their feral, animal-like qualities symbolizes their “sexual prowess,” as well as their “virginity” in these blockbusters, she said.

“They are on the cusp of womanhood, a pubescent warrior,” Professor Oliver said.

This is why these characters still represent patriarchal fantasies of tough Amazonian women rather than feminist resistance to the male norms in society, she said. Even the conclusion of the Hunger Games book series has Katniss fall for a man.

“It’s a dystopia Cinderella, as she is a girl among the ashes,” Oliver points out. “Katniss ends up choosing to marry Peeta, the baker, who is a symbol of rising up from the ashes, rather than the male hunter.”

Another character that exemplifies the need to have a man is Bella Swan, the popular character from The Twilight series. Swan is the perfect combination of animal-woman, the beauty that actually “transforms to beast” yet retains her maternal instincts and “endorses traditional family values,” Oliver said.

“Bella Swan is the closest to an actual animal, with bearing her hands and teeth, and a blood thirsty lust,” Oliver said. “She too marries a prince, has eternal romance, and a fairytale family.”

Oliver argued society is pushing back on these tough women, who wish to stand among men and distinguish themselves. For most of the stories they all end up subjugated in the end, and misfits of the world.

“In Hanna, the producer states that this is the story of The Little Mermaid, the Hans Christian Anderson version,” Oliver said. “Hanna ends up alone, a misfit in the world. She doesn’t get the guy and the guy doesn’t get her. She was exposed to the cruel world, at what cost to herself?”

Oliver also decried how many young female characters end up beaten, battered, and bruised. Audiences are influenced to enjoy these abuses in entertainment, she added.

“With Hit Girl, from the movie Kick Ass, she is beaten by a mob boss and lays sobbing like a little girl on the table,” Oliver said. “We get pleasure for the abuse of girls.”

Other examples beyond Hit Girl, Dr. Oliver pointed out, included The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and the 50 Shades of Gray, where the “abuse of girls is eroticized.”

“We are trained to enjoy them,” she said. “It’s perverse and almost as if the young girls deserved it for stepping out. This contemplates scenes of female victimization and abuse as a part of coming of age.”

The fate of women in Hollywood remains to be seen.

“Right now we are in an in-between space and seen as dangerous,” Professor Oliver concluded. “Will women break free of these pattern sex objects or go their own way?”

Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.

CLICK HERE to Like The College Fix on Facebook / TWITTER: @CollegeFix

IMAGE: Karol/Flickr