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Democracy and Human Rights in the United States Current issues important to me.

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Presentation on theme: "Democracy and Human Rights in the United States Current issues important to me."— Presentation transcript:

1 Democracy and Human Rights in the United States Current issues important to me

2 Terry Arthur Academic and Career Advisor Department of Computer Science College of Engineering Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA

3 Dr. James (Sean) D. Arthur • Retired professor of Computer Science at VT • Fulbright Fellowship • The Fulbright Program offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States. • We have three adult children

4 Virginia Tech Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University • • 30,000 students • Engineering, architecture, business • Land grant university established in 1872 • 65 undergraduate majors • 150 master’s and doctoral degree programs

5 Define “human rights” A few sources include: • UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) • US Declaration of Independence, adopted July 4, 1776, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” • US Bill of Rights – First 10 amendments to the Constitution, ratified 1791 • Constitution of Croatia

6 US Bill of Rights • Freedom of speech, press, assembly • Right to bear arms • Protection from quartering of troops • Unreasonable search and seizure • Due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain • Criminal trial by jury, rights of the accused, speedy and public trial, right to counsel • Civil trial by jury • Prohibition of excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment • Protection of rights not specifically enumerated by in the Constitution • Powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the people

7 We have safeguards for our rights in the US • Constitution • Bill of Rights • LOTS of elections, free speech, etc. • Freedoms galore • So what is the problem??

8 Democracy is never easy Especially challenging in a country with a diverse population: religion, race, nationality We do not agree on what is a “Human Right.” What one person sees as a “right,” another considers a “privilege.” We are still struggling!

9 What RIGHTS are we still working on? (OR are these PRIVILEGES?) • Health care • Immigration • Gun control • Same sex marriage • Controlled substances: marijuana and legal drinking age • Capital punishment • Economy/jobs

10 Health care • In 2009, 17.3% of US economy was health care ($2.5 trillion), with 16.3% uninsured. • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), March 23, 2010 – health care reform to reform private health insurance, extend health care to 30 million. • NOT popular. Some say it is too expensive, others say it is not extensive enough. • Individual states claim it is in violation of State Sovereignty and that “individual mandate” not within the scope of Congressional taxing powers.

11 Immigration • All aliens over the age of 14 and who stay in the US more than 30 days must register with the Federal government • 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the US – Needed for the work force – Many have been in US for years and are contributing – Are they entitled to health care, education, etc? – April of 2010 Arizona law allowed local law enforcement to require that persons show documents – Blocked by a federal judge due to racial profiling, civil rights violation, and constitutionality

12 Gun Control • According to Wikipedia, “There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, [5] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths.” [5] • April 16, 2007 – Massacre at VT

13 Same sex marriage • 1996 Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. US government defines marriage as between a man and a woman • 2004 Massachusetts first state to allow same sex marriage. • Currently 6 states allow same sex marriage • 9 states recognize civil unions

14 Capital punishment • 34 states and the federal government allows the death penalty • What is “cruel and unusual?” • 58 countries allow, 96 have banned capital punishment

15 Controlled substances • “Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually.” • Currently, marijuana for medicinal use only in 16 states • Attorney General Eric Holder said raiding for marijuana will be a low priority • Drinking age is 21. But with our soldiers going to war at age 18, many want this reconsidered.

16 Economy/jobs • Financial crash of now called the “Great Recession” • Over 10% unemployment, record mortgage foreclosures, failed banks, stock market plunge • Occupy Wall Street – September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park in NYC Wall Street district. 99% protesting the social/economic inequality, greed, corruption of US corporations (esp financial corporations)

17 Questions for you • What Human Rights issues do you see unresolved in Croatia? • What rights are there in the US that you do not have in Croatia? • What rights are there in Croatia that we do not have in the US?

18 Rights and Responsibilities • With “rights” comes “responsibilities” • Discussion should be: Democracy and Human Rights AND Responsibilities

19 FINAL SLIDE! Your responsibilities • Do your personal best You are in the top 1 – 5% in the world! • Do no harm • Serve - do something for someone or something that cannot pay you back So that when you leave this world, it will be a better place because you were here.


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