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Alcohol-reduction plan contradictory at best

At this point, most people would agree that whining about the 21-only controversy is like beating a dead horse. Ironically though, the release of the University of Iowa's Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan brings up yet another debatable topic: Does the 21-ordinance help lower students' binge-drinking rates? The short answer is no.

The three-year plan's main goal is lowering students' binge drinking rate 15 percentage points, from 70 to 55 percent. Keeping 21-only is not going to provide any help in reducing binge drinking, though. As the Dec. 6 Daily Iowan article"IC sees earlier drinking, bars close" outlines, underage students have started going to bars during such times as Friday After Class, because they can be in a bar until 10 p.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of current drinkers who binge drink is highest in the 18- to 20-year-old group (51 percent). These are the students who are not allowed into bars, where they could be monitored by employees and police officers. Instead these students are confined to dorm rooms and house parties with no supervision whatsoever, increasing the chance of them binge drinking.

The funding source for the coordinator of the Alcohol Reduction Program position has not yet been decided, but since it's unlikely UI faculty will take pay cuts to fund this position, the funding will likely come out of taxpayers' or students' pockets. It would be absurd to demand money from students to try to alleviate a problem many UI faculty made worse by supporting the 21-ordinance.

Collin Coy
UI senior

Protest protracted foreign wars

Just before Thanksgiving, we found out that our nine-year war in Afghanistan will be at least a 13-year war — that it "might" end by the end of 2014. President Obama announced this in his speech to NATO in Lisbon, Portugal, with added caveats from unnamed officials that 2014 was an aspirational date.

At this time last year, as he announced a 30,000 increase in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, Obama indicated that an intense review of our policy in Afghanistan would take place in December 2010.

That review promises to be short and meaningless, because the decision to prolong the war for "four more years" (remember that chant?) has already been made.

Look forward to the call up of another 3,000 Iowa National Guard in 2011, to be deployed in 2012. Accept spending $10 billion per month on our war in/on Afghanistan for the next four-plus years. Or, say something loud, now. Veterans For Peace will take the lead in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Ed Flaherty
Iowa City resident

Wanted: actual news

To put it quite bluntly, I have never been an avid reader of newspapers. A quick visit to my MSN homepage has been more than enough for a busy college student juggling class, work, and a social life. But in the last few months, I have been reading local and national headlines more regularly thanks to the supernova of my "civil duties" and election season. Upon doing so, I have come to find that a great deal of the stories covered are not at all newsworthy. In fact, I'd rather attempt to read a Facebook status in Braille than half of the local front-pagers.

Newspapers, as well as other forms of news media, were created in order to serve the public by informing us of crucial and important news. Yet in today's society, the news we are fed has turned into an utter joke with an empty punch line. A sorority wreath has been stolen. Lindsay Lohan has been arrested, yet again, this week. Kate Gosselin finally realizes she's a mother. At what point did the "news" turn from worldly affairs, poverty, and environmental issues into stories we can't help but mock?

I understand that it can be difficult and costly to continuously produce enticing "hard" news stories. But it can be no more costly than the countless bottles of aspirin I have found myself purchasing as a result of these stories. To put it bluntly, the continuous flow of this useless information will only maintain the trend of the dumbing down of the general public.

Jackie Osby
UI student

The effects of immortalizing athletes

After yet another prominent Hawkeye arrest, it seems that there is a shift in culture among young athletes today. From Tiger's extramarital practice to Big Ben's bar mischief to athletes receiving illegal benefits, it seems as though athletes do not think the same rules apply to them as everyone else.

Society can be blamed for this, because we put these men in an immortal category. Young kids today look up to these athletes more than their parents, and in turn, some of these athletes seem to abuse the power and status that is given to them. It is a shame to see what would have been an iconic Hawkeye legacy tainted in this way. Of course people make mistakes, but these young men are role models and are put under the microscope. This problem with athletes is becoming an epidemic as their popularity and pay increase.

With great status comes great expectations and, like the Hawkeyes this season, DJK could not live up to them.

Matt Kolln
UI freshman

Middle class is no bargaining chip

Over the past few weeks, the middle class has been held hostage by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and his Republican colleagues in the Senate. Why? To stand with millionaires and billionaires.

While thousands of Iowans braced for not only an immediate loss of unemployment benefits but a tax increase in the new year, Republicans used them to get what they wanted. For those Iowans still out of work, unemployment benefits are essential to their well-being. Whether it's putting food on their table, buying boots and mittens for their kids, or putting gas in their tanks, they have a partner in the government as they look for another job. Republicans chose to exploit this partnership and turn a struggling middle class into a bargaining chip as they continue to stand up for wealthy Americans and against hard-working families.

If Republicans were allowed to continue their abuse of Senate rules, our economic recovery would have been put at risk as well. Aside from the wide agreement that unemployment benefits are one of the most effective ways to spur economic growth, Republicans were leading the nation into a situation which would cripple our economic recovery by shedding more than 1 million jobs and leaving the unemployed on their own.

It's clear which party is standing up for the middle class.

While the details of the compromise bill are being sculpted and debated over the coming days, we cannot lose this context. We all know compromise is part of governing, but holding a majority of Americans hostage to force a deal that benefits the few is not. Democrats, Republicans, and independents across Iowa must remember that Republicans, including Grassley, used the middle class to get their way and force a compromise.

Such cravenly political tactics show a disregard for the hard working Iowans whose jobs, livelihoods, and well-being were at stake. Voters will not forget that.

Sue Dvorsky
chairwoman, Iowa Democratic Party

Taxi problems in IC

The distance between campus and Mayflower is an obvious concern for most residents, including myself. Whether it is getting to class on time or arriving punctually to a planned appointment, the commute between downtown and Mayflower requires careful planning. What is of most concern to Mayflower residences, however, is the safe arrival to one's dorm room after a night out on the weekends. With the Cambus ending its routes at 1 a.m., many of us rely on our feet to trek through cold winds, rain, sleet, and snow to ensure we have a bed to sleep in. Others, such as myself, depend on the Iowa City taxi services. But recently, they have proved to be anything but reliable.

On a recent Friday night, a couple of my friends and I watched a movie at an apartment on Linn Street. We lost track of time and when the movie ended, we noticed it was already 2 a.m. — an hour past the Cambus service time. Rather than walking the two miles in snowy, 20-degree weather, we decided to call a cab. Following many busy signals, I was connected to a service that guaranteed a pick up on Linn Street and a drop off at Mayflower. An hour passed, but the cab hadn't arrived. I then called the company, but failed to get an answer. My friend and I were forced to spend the night at the apartment.

Luckily for us, we had a place to stay. What worries me, however, is the notion that my friend and I could have been somewhere that disallowed overnight guests. Such a situation could have undoubtedly led to other problems. The fact that I did not receive a call from the company saying that they would be late or would not be coming at all is simply wrong and unprofessional. When so many people depend on the Iowa City taxi services it is vital that these companies properly execute their jobs, as it is their profession to offer transportation to those in need.

Brian Saling
University of Iowa freshman

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