A Slowly Fading Marque?

With Americans having to adjust their budgets now more than ever to modestly harmonize with their incoming cash flow, cutting costs for entertainment expenses is indeed on most everyone’s agenda. Those who enjoy watching movies have had to lay this form of entertainment on the budget chopping block as well, but thanks to mediums such as Netflix and Video On Demand, movies can still be enjoyed for a reasonable price that can easily fit into modest budget. The average cost of going to the cinema is roughly around $25 per person, which includes tickets, snacks, drinks, and other refreshments sold at the concession stands. According to the results of an online survey conducted by “Harris Poll®” in December 2013, 57% of Americans favored watching movies at home as opposed to the 21% of Americans who preferred to go to the cinema. With approximately a little over one-half of American moviegoers faithfully visiting the cinemas, will this amount be enough to keep the cinemas alive within the next few years?

The participants who were surveyed in the aforementioned poll were also asked to give their opinions about the pros and cons of going to the cinema to watch movies verses watching movies using another medium. Being able to experience a movie in 3-D and in digitally mastered sound quality seemed to win the majority of votes on the pros’ list despite the fact that “rude moviegoers” was the number one reason on the cons’ list for why the participants would prefer to watch movies from home. The high cost of refreshments sold at the concession stand was another major turn-off for 62% of those surveyed, and an overwhelming 69% felt theaters take advantage of showing 3-D movies as an excuse to charge outrageously higher prices to view them.

With tablets and smartphones gaining more and more popularity for their video-playing capabilities, a majority of the moviegoers who are constantly on-the-go have converted their medium of viewing pleasure from going to the cinema into indulging in Netflix for downloading movies to their portable device. If the cinemas can come up with an idea that tops this convenience along with figuring out a way to offer lower prices for tickets and refreshments, then the cinema might have a fighting chance to stay alive.

©2014 Learus Ohnine

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The U.S. Government Shutdown: Whose Fault Is It?

Imagine you are kidnapped – you are held hostage against your will by a belligerent abductor who threatens to kill you unless they receive everything they are demanding in exchange for preserving your life. Your fate lies in the hands of the negotiator, who then refuses your abductor’s demands, and in turn, kills you themselves. Prior to your murder, your abductor did proclaim to the negotiator of their intent to kidnap a hostage long time ago, yet the negotiator did nothing about this warning to stop this from literally happening.

Now imagine the entire United States of America being held hostage by a committee comprised of 535 law makers whose congressional position would not have been possible if it were not for them being voted into their appointed seats by the U.S. citizens themselves. Unfortunately, this congressional committee cannot seem to collaborate on pertinent issues that are supposed to be made in the best interest of the country as a whole. Ironically due to this committee’s poor negotiating skills, the fate of the country soon begins to quickly plummet on a downward spiral by the very same people whom the citizens have willingly chosen to represent them.

Both analogies describe what the current U.S. government shutdown is really all about. One side of the congressional table, or the predominately-Republican House of Representatives, wants to have their way by insisting their own budget plan will work out for bailing the United States out of $17 trillion in debt by dismantling President Obama’s health care reform law, while the other side of the congressional table, the predominately-Democratic Senate, will not agree nor negotiate the idea of altering anything pertaining to the Affordable Care Act. Since Congress could not pass a budget by the October 1st deadline, shutting down the government was the only alternative left for them to do until a compromised can be reached by both sides.

In the meantime, as of October 1st, approximately 800,000 federal employees will not be paid, however, 1.4 million active-duty military personnel will get paid but may not receive their paychecks when they anticipate to receive them. Food programs that provide nutritional vouchers to low-income pregnant women and mothers with children up to age 5 will not be funded. All Smithsonian museums, zoos, national parks and monuments (this includes the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the National Mall, and the Statue of Liberty) will be closed. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Senior Service Programs such as “Meals on Wheels” which provides food to thousands of senior citizens may not receive government funding, energy assistance and weatherization programs for the low-income families
to help them stay warm during winter months may cease to be funded, and social security and supplemental income programs may see delays in check disbursements.

The bottom line: who is really at fault for the government shutting down? Every American who voted for a congressional nominee based simply on whether or not they were a Republican or Democrat is to blame. We put those people in office, therefore, we gave them their power – power that is apparently devoid of any genuinely bona fide cofunctioning abilities, especially in a time of crisis. Only we, the voters, can prevent these politically catastrophic conditions from ever happening again by voting based on policy and NOT party.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Innocent Blood From Open Borders

Terrorism– its not like its a hobby or just a fad. It is a force; a life-threatening one that can and should be reckoned with. Whenever a terroristic tragedy strikes on U.S. soil, it’s natural that we will tamper with ideologies of how and why the attacks occurred to eliminate the possibility of all future attacks. With the latest of terroristic attacks, such as with the attack on September 11, 2001 and the Boston Marathon bombings, our analysis of these situations reveals one commonality that leads to only one possible solution: enhancement of our security by means of stricter immigration laws.

Americans were alarmed to discover that Ramzi Yousef and Ahmad Ajaj, the masterminds behind the planning of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, were allowed into the United States using false passports that showed obvious signs of tampering. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a co-conspirator in the bombings and leader of “The Islamic Group” who spoke very adamantly and publicly about his “anti-american” viewpoints, was on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist watch list yet was freely allowed to travel in and out of the United States on an expired visa while conducting terrorist attacks in Egypt.

Nawaf muhammed Salim al-Hazmi, one of the chosen pilots by Osama bin Laden in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, obtained a tourist visa which showed evidence of his association with Al-Quaeda. Because immigration inspectors were not officially trained to be aware of this sort of evidence, he was allowed to enter and exit the United States repeatedly. In 1999, the CIA was informed by Saudi Intelligence of Khalid al-Mihdhar’s (another chosen pilot in the attack) association with Al-Quaeda but was still allowed into the United States in 2000 to attend flight school.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, was allowed to continue to live in the United States in spite of Tamerlan’s application for U.S. citizenship being placed on hold because of speculations of his association with Chechen terrorists. These suspicions were reported by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2011 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, the FSB never responded to requests by the FBI for more supporting evidence of this speculation, therefore the case was closed.

Under the current immigration laws, certain offenses can disqualify an immigrant from obtaining and/or retaining American citizenship. With all the facts being apparent as to how and why the above terrorist were able to bypass these laws, it is obvious the current laws are not working. Unless stricter immigration laws are implemented immediately, we can expect more innocent blood to be shed because the United States will have failed, once again, to protect its citizens.

©2013 Learus Ohnine