2014 Symposium: Do celebrities have a responsibility to be positive role models for young Americans?

Myrtle Beach: It’s no secret that there is a problem in our society with “image.” Most Americans are interested, if not obsessed, with celebrities in general or at least a select few. In our digital age it’s very easy for us to stay up to date on the latest drama with Justin Bieber or see Lindsey Lohan’s latest mug shot. As a society we are obsessed! The problem with this obsession is that not only do adults have access to this, but our children have access as well. Our young, impressionable youth are able to stay up to date on the latest celebrity sex tapes. Ultimately, parents should be responsible. But in this digital age the youth of this country are constantly bombarded with celebrities. Continue reading

2014 Symposium: Should illegal immigrants or any non-citizen be able to receive government financial assistance (i.e. welfare, food stamps, etc.)?

Myrtle Beach: I’ll give this one a RESOUNDING no. I am a 30 year old American female citizen. I work a part time job for 8.00/hour and have no children. Guess what? I “make too much” to receive any sort of assistance. If I had a child that would be another story…but that is an entirely different issue altogether. Now, to be fair I don’t really need it at this very moment in my life; but there was a time when I did, and I was not eligible. Continue reading

2014 Symposium: Are you willing to pay $5 or more per gallon for gas if it helps the environment?

Raleigh: The impact of people’s actions on the environment has been at the center of public debate for a long time. Many researchers, scientists and concerned citizens have pointed out that if people do not change their ways, the future of our planet can indeed be dire. One of the biggest factors which negatively affect our environment is the increased volume of transport on our roads. According to IHS Automotive report from 2014, United States has about 253 million cars and trucks on the road with the average age of a car about 11.4 years. What do all these cars do to our environment? Continue reading

2014 Symposium: What is the future of Iraq? Are we going to allow Iraq to be controlled by ISIL? Will Iraq break into three countries? Will there be a civil war in Iraq?

Asheville: There is already civil war in Iraq. It is disingenuous to call these events “unexpected.” Anyone who studies the history of the Middle East with any seriousness could see that the Baathist Hussein government was the only thing preventing all-out warfare. War between Sunni and Shia was the inevitable result of a decades-long, brutally enforced, cease fire ending abruptly. Continue reading

2014 Symposium: Do we need to re-think our overall foreign policy?

Asheville: The biggest foreign policy change of the last 30 years has been a shift toward drone-based force projection and away from troop deployment. On one hand, this has been a very beneficial step. Drone forces cost much less and put fewer lives at risk. On the other, though, this policy has been an unmitigated disaster. According to the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2,500 civilians have been killed by drone strikes. While some of these deaths could rightly be called “collateral damage,” the worst cases are actions called “signature strikes.” The CIA identifies a target of Middle Eastern decent, male, between the ages of 22-35, walking alone in the mountains of Northern Afghanistan. This fits the profile of a suspected terrorist, so a drone strike is authorized based on the “signature” of the target. Continue reading

2014 Symposium: Should we negotiate with terrorists? If so, how much is too much when bargaining with them?

Raleigh: The rise of terrorist organizations in modern world is undeniable. The U.S. Department of State designates tens of organizations worldwide as terrorist; some of them are well-known to the general public (ISIS, ETA, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.), some of them less so. What should the position of any government, including the U.S., be on the question of whether to negotiate with terrorist organizations? Continue reading