You could best describe the current mood at the Department of Darts and Laurels as ambivalent. Summer classes have finally come to an end, and we're stuck somewhere in between nostalgia and euphoria.
While we're certainly looking forward to enjoying the remainder of the summer free from the tedium of textbooks and course work, there's just something magically melancholy about the conclusion of summer. Who are we kidding? Screw the summer. We're ready for some football! There's a little more than three weeks until the start of another year of Gator football dominance. And while we're sure that, like us, you can hardly contain your anticipation, we hope we can tide you over with the end-of-the-summer (semester) edition of …
Darts & Laurels
First up, we send a we-see-through-the-façade-of-your-Olympic-pomp-and-circumstance DART the Chinese government for its decision to revoke the visas of two politically active former U.S. Olympians. Gold-medalist speed skater Joey Cheek and Bronze-medalist synchronized swimmer Kendra Zanotto have been denied entrance to the brutal communist dictatorship and close U.S. trading partner for undisclosed reasons. Both former Olympians are active members of an advocacy group called Team Darfur, an international organization comprised of Olympic athletes who work to raise awareness about and pressure the world community to help stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Team Darfur has been vocally critical of China for its support of the Sudanese government.
China's refusal to allow these American heroes to attend (in a non-competitive function) this year's Summer Olympic Games in Beijing is purely political and unacceptable. China simply doesn't want any attention brought to its abysmal human rights record.
Next up, we take aim at our bumbling, fumbling, flip-flopping pair of presidential candidates. We send a we-"hope"-you-"change"-your-mind-about-offshore-oil-drilling-(again) DART to Sen. Barack Obama, who came out this week in support of a "compromise" energy measure that includes allowing offshore drilling 50 miles off the Florida coast. Obama's defended his position, noting that the so-called compromise would include taxes on oil companies and billions of dollars for investment in renewable energy. That's great. But we still don't get how endangering Florida's environmental and economic vitality is a good idea.
Next, we send a we-know-Republicans-are-the-party-of-exclusion-but-this-is-too-much DART to Sen. John McCain for allowing his security team to throw Stephen Price, a reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat, out of a rally in Panama City last week. Price was asked by security whether he was a national reporter traveling with the McCain campaign. When he responded that he was a local reporter, he was told to leave the event even though other local reporters were permitted to stay. The only difference between Price and the others? He happens to be black. The McCain camp initially blamed the Secret Service but have since issued an apology. This sort of behavior coming from the campaign of a man who voted against the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is disconcerting, to say the least.
Now we offer a now-that's-what-we-call-aggressive-diplomacy LAUREL to UF President Bernie Machen for his willingness to engage in a meeting of the minds with Iranian universities next fall, depending on the political conditions in the "Axis of Evil" member state. The trip's purpose will be to further scientific and research interests between U.S. and Iranian universities. The trip won't be a taxpayer-funded junket, as Machen will be paying his own way. We're glad to see B. Mac actively pursuing this academic exchange. Who knows? Maybe we'll find out we're not so different from the Iranians after all.
Lastly, we offer a you-may-not-always-keep-your-promises-but-at-least-you're-trying-to-keep-us-safe LAUREL to the Student Senate, which approved funding for a program called Gator Ride, which will provide UF students with a safe way home after a night on the town. The service will dispatch drivers to pick up Gator revelers at any location in Gainesville and return them to their residence. We thank our senators for pushing this prescient and prudent program.