A bare minimum

Minimum wage increase stirs debate

On Sept. 15, 2011, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced that Oregon’s minimum wage would get a 30-cent bump (from $8.50 to $8.80 an hour) for the year 2012. The increase, which took effect on Jan. 1, makes Oregon’s minimum wage the second highest in the nation. Our neighbor to the north, Washington, is the first at $9.04.

All matters of economics are contentious. No matter how assured one is in his or her outlook on the best way to take advantage of the flow of money, an army of experts and Ph.D.’s stand ready to disagree.

99 percent gone

Occupy Wall Street movement peters out,but the spirit remains

The days of wine and roses may be over for Occupy Wall Street.

2011. Economic crisis; still no end in sight. People got angry, and decided to fight the system in their own blustery way. The Occupy Wall Street movement arose form the shambles of the unemployed and angry to attack the crooked bankers and fat-cat politicians who seemed content to enjoy caviar and fine cigars while the rest of us made due with our 76 percent share of the income.

2011: The year of protest?

Time magazine decision unfocused but correct

In 2008, the bubble bursts, and the world’s mightiest economic giant stumbles. The full extent of the ramifications remains contested, and the recovery continues to slog on at an abysmally slow pace. As the details come to light, and the world bears witness to an infuriating trend—one of greed, disparity and double-dealing—the first of the Occupy movements takes place in Zucotti Park, on Sept. 17, 2011.

The face of a movement

Mask used to represent anarchyan ironic choice

Even if you don’t know his name, you almost certainly know his face.

Somewhere along the line—on the news, on the Internet, at the Occupy Wall Street camp —you’ve seen that broad smirk, stretching mischievously from cheek to rosy cheek. You’ve seen those dark eye slits, squinted contentedly in mute self-satisfaction. You’ve seen that razor-thin mustache. That dark, glistening hair. That towering captain hat.

Veterans Day

The holiday illuminates Vietnam history and opportunities

Perhaps my view is skewed, hailing from central Oregon (with all that implies politically). But I find it pleasantly surprising that Portland State is the only public university in the state that closes its doors on Veterans Day.

Known as Armistice Day until 1954, Nov. 11 originally celebrated the end of World War I, a war whose sheer brutality was overshadowed only by its senselessness. Largely forgotten now, WWI saw massive casualties, new alliances and changes in the ways wars were fought. It ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—Nov. 11. The date expanding into an honoring of all American veterans was passed by the Eisenhower administration in response to a suggestion by a World War II veteran.

Atheism and religion

The question of what makes morality persists

Sitting in the basement of Smith Memorial Student Union a few days ago, I came across an interesting sight. There, huddled around the wall-mounted television, were about 30 or 40 students. They were watching the Republican presidential candidate debate, of all things.

For what reason? To heckle it, obviously. Even as a registered Republican, I’ll agree that there was plenty there to heckle.

Tigers over dragons

India rises as a global power

Probably the biggest misconception in the study of history is the presumption of any sort of constant, though the presumption of universality is a close second. In other words, the misconception that things have always been a certain way and/or will remain so and the misconception that literally anything—an idea, an attribute, an opinion—is the same the world over.

Approval and reality

Why Obama is losing support in Portland

I did not vote for President Barack Obama.

In retrospect, I believe he has done a far better job than McCain would have. I may vote for him in 2012. I am a registered Republican, though I consider myself a social liberal. As a president, I would rate Obama somewhere in the neighborhood of C+ or B- (Bush, I’d give a solid D). I find myself in agreement with roughly 60 percent of his policies. I like his approach of equanimity and reservedness. On the same note, I believe he wavers in his initiative to make decisions. I am fondest of his foreign policy doctrine. I am most disappointed by his priorities on the home front.

College and military ties

Options for veterans in college expanding

There is a unique relationship between the military and higher education in the United States.

Some students may be surprised to learn that Portland State University was originally established to cater toward veterans and military personnel. Portland, like many cities across the U.S., was virtually flooded by American GIs returning from the Pacific Theatre, so much so as to warrant the founding of a secondary education institution with the express purpose of integrating these veterans into the skilled workforce. The school was initially named the Vanport Extension Center.

The case for cautious optimism

Endgame in Afghanistan approaches

A humid summer evening in the swamps of Virginia’s semi-prehistoric wilderness. A platoon of sixty young men—sweaty, sun-burnt, caked with mud and smelling like a herd of gastro-intestinally distressed bison—sits in a semicircle around the one man with brass on his lapels.

Pens scratch on waterproof notebooks as we, the officer candidates of Echo Company, 4th Platoon, the future leaders of the United States Marine Corps, pick the brain of our platoon commander in an unusually casual question-and-answer session. Training is almost over. Our platoon commander, a captain, still speaks to us with a dry mixture of impatience, sarcasm and contempt.

From Cold Spell to Maelstrom

Situation in Syria grows graver

When we last spoke, the Syria situation looked grim.

One thousand three hundred government protesters had already died at the hands of the oppressive Ba’ath Party regime headed by Bashar al-Assad. The opposition movement that demanded his downfall was vulnerable and leaderless. The call for democracy had yet to take hold in any major cities. And Hama, the ideological center of the opposition movement, while still relatively untouched by the Assad Regime, lived under the shadow of Syrian tanks on the horizon.