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Sunday, September 30


Every year in the U.S. about 800,000 teenagers become pregnant. The causes have been heavily debated and concentrate around lack of sex education and lack of parental involvement. Other contributing factors include educational failure, limited or no access to birth control, poverty, single parent household, a mother who gave birth as a teenager, sexual portrayal of teenagers in the media and an abusive home.

Although teen births have dropped by almost a third since the beginning of the 1990s, the US still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world. Almost 80% of the fathers of babies born to teen mothers do not marry the mother. Among the girls who get pregnant less than 1/3 graduates from high school.

The social after-effects are serious. Poverty leads to low educational attainment and these two factors increase the likelihood of criminal involvement and imprisonment. According to the book "The Garbage Generation" by Daniel Amneus, children who live in single female-headed households are eight times more likely to go to prison and five times more likely to commit suicide. Thus the total cost of teen pregnancy tops $7 billion annually.

See the comparisons between the US and the Netherlands. Read if you want this article on the pregnancy rates in the Netherlands.
Why do we have such high rates of teen pregnancy?

Saturday, September 22


The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued a report Wednesday, calling for a ban on assault weapons, arguing it will make officers safer by reducing the ``firepower available to criminals.''

The following day in Florida a Miami-Dade police officer was killed and three others wounded at the scene of a traffic stop by an assailant using a highpowered assault rifle. He bought this weapon legally, although with a fake ID

According to the NRA, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals the right to own and carry guns. They believe that once started federal regulations will continue to increase until eventually law-abiding citizens will not be allowed to own guns of any kind, which they believe violates their Constitutional rights. They also believe that if law-abiding citizens have guns, they are safer from criminals, which causes crime rates to drop.

However, organizations such as the Brady Center, argues that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee individuals the right to own and carry guns. They urge for more gun control because they believe the more people have guns, the more deaths and injuries from guns occur.

Does America need more gun control laws?

Sunday, September 16

Tom Coghlan reports on the torture of an Afghan girl sold as bride at the age of 4. Article published in the Independent (Apr 15, 2006)

You may watch this CNN video on a child bride here

The suffering of Gulsoma's first 12 years is not immediately apparent in the little girl with an open face, who is doted on at Kabul's Women's Affairs Ministry. But in repose her features cloud and she clasps her arms around herself, while the overlapping scars on her body offer a crude account of abuse.

Friday, September 7

College Cost reduction Act was passed today

The HCC faculty was notified today that both Houses of Congress passed the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 with bipartisan support (by a vote of 79 to 12 in the Senate and 292 to 97 in the House of Representatives). This legislation is of vital importance to the student body as it will boost college financial aid by nearly $20 billion over the next five years, reduce excessive federal subsidies paid to lenders in the college loan industry, and reduce the federal budget deficit by $750 million.

Furthermore the College Cost Reduction Act will increase the Pell Grant maximum award by $4,800 next year and to $5,400 by 2012, it will cut interest rates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent by 2011, it will provide upfront tuition assistance for graduate and undergraduate students who agree to teach in high-need public schools and it will increase income protections for working students.

It is important that you check to see how your representative and senators voted.

at and respectively.

Sunday, September 2

A.D.'s story

The following story was sent by an HCC student.

As far back as I could remember, I was that little girl that tried to bring home stray animals because even at a young age, I couldn't fathom the thought that they didn't have food or a warm bed to sleep in at night. I knew when I grew up, I just had to work with animals on some level. I also knew that growing up in New York, and with my straight A grades, I wanted to go to a university in Florida. We had vacationed there a few times, and I wanted to get away from the big city and move to paradise.

Throughout High School I had maintained a full time job and went from an honor society student to barely making it out of High School. I was a very angry teenager - My parents had divorced, my mom was disabled, money was tight, and I had also experienced a traumatic event that would forever change my life. Of course, being a teenager, I couldn't understand all of my anger and emotions, and started to rebel. I found unhealthy outlets to release everything I had inside of me and I had single handedly given up all of my dreams. I decided it didn’t matter right now, and I had plenty of time ahead of me. So, my hopes to work with animals were put behind me. Who has the time, money, or energy, and what college would accept me with my grades? I settled on just getting a second cat.

Although divorced, my parents did agree on one thing: the importance of education and the vital role and impact it will or will not have on your life. My mother was not able to finish school because she had fell victim to cancer at a young age, and never returned. She had always felt that her dreams were crushed and just ripped out from under her. My father had tried to live vicariously through me because he too never finished school, and was working for the same company for almost 30 years with no significant change in salary, and without a degree, he felt he couldn’t go anywhere. One thing they didn’t agree on was their school of thought. My father believed that we all do things we do not want to do and who cares if you don’t like your job, as long as your making money - It doesn’t matter if your happy, just as long as your bank account is flourishing. My mom believed that it was more important to be happy than to be able to buy 3 cars at a time. I was in the middle. I wanted to do something I enjoyed and get compensated for it.

Although money was tight, my father had always made sure to set aside a budget to
send me to school. I realized that I was moving into my adult years and I needed to get my act together. I reluctantly agreed to enroll in some college courses, but I never had a clear plan in mind. This would last for years to come. I had also accepted a position for an insurance company as a receptionist. My mind shifted from what will the future hold for me, to how much money can I make now.

My receptionist position had turned into promotion after promotion, and I job hopped a few times every time I gained more experience, because of course, with more experience, comes more money. By the time I was in my mid twenties, I was offered a position with a very reputable company that would literally double my salary within two years. I was in a management position and making more money than most of my friend's parents, and my own. This was my break, and I was convinced that I did not need a college degree. College is for suckers. So, I quit school. Besides, I had lost track of the classes I had withdrew from.

Within the next few years, I was stressed beyond belief, and began to loathe my job. I was in and out of doctor's because the stress started to affect my health. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t my job, it the fact that I hated what I did, and I had to do it for 50-60 hours a week. This isn’t what I WANTED to do with my life, this is what I SETTLED to do with my life because I became prisoner to my paycheck. I was spending most of my waking hours doing something I despised.

While vacationing in Florida with my fiancé, I realized how much I loved the sunshine state, and on our way back home, I just cried because I didn't want to go back to work - I hated my job - I hated the cold - the snow - the commute - my responsibility - I was at my breaking point. I had had enough. I am not only quitting my job - I am leaving New York and moving to Florida, and never working in the insurance industry again. The job has taken such a toll on me - it has pushed me out of the state!

When I arrived in Florida, an insurance position was all I could accept to make a decent salary, because I had no degree and no experience in any other field. After two years, I had what felt like a combination of a nervous breakdown and a mid life crisis, and again, here I am, in the same old job that is robbing my every fiber of my being. By now, only a bottle of wine can de-stress me. Did I mention the commute? It was one to two hours each way for a job that was making me miserable, even affecting my marriage at times, plus I was in and out of the doctors, even a therapist by this time. They all gave me the same prescription: "QUIT YOUR JOB".

But where could I go without a degree and no other experience? All I could do is think that there has got to be something more to my life, and is this how my life is going to end? Am I going to be miserable, stressed, and sick, all just to justify my paycheck? Why didn’t I follow my dreams? Why couldn't have I taken school more seriously? Why can't I have a career that I feel passion for? Am I going to wind up like my father? I can’t let this happen. I am only 31 and I feel like I'm 51! And the light bulb went off. I knew I needed to turn my negative energy into a positive force. After a lot of prayer and support, the answer was to quit my job (and stay away forever) and go back to school.

So here I am, back in college enrolled in the Veterinarian Technology program, living in Florida. I came full circle, doing something that always has meaning to me, with a clear plan in mind, because I had to learn the hard way what the consequences are for not getting a degree. I unnecessarily exhausted years of my life that I can never get back, all because I did not stay on the straight and narrow by staying in school and following my dreams. I can’t help to think all of those years I wasted not being in school, not taking it more seriously. Was the extra money worth it? No way. What did I learn? Money cannot buy happiness and your education should tie into a career that will give your life a sense of purpose. Life is not only short, but it goes by so fast. Life’s choices are like karma, and will either come back to haunt you, or it will pay dividends ten fold, financially and emotionally. That’s why it is so important to stay in school and follow your dreams. I was one of the lucky ones that got a second chance, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.