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Issue of the year: The events that changed our lives

Illustration by Mike Padilla
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
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Basketball's back at the UA (Did it ever leave?); Dubya's back as well, for a few more years; The Yankees might not be back for a while; And, maybe, Ugg boots should have never arrived in the first place. The Wildcat Opinions staff weighs in on all that, plus the debate over stem cells and a modern-day Holocaust in our final debate of the year.

Dillon Fishman

The terrible trifecta: aiming for the Sports Hall of Shame

What do dirty diapers, grungy jockstraps and smelly socks have in common? Munching on any of them beats having to relive this school year's terrible trifecta for sports.

It began in November. Angered by a cup of soda, NBA forward Ron Artest went ballistic, running into the stands and attacking fans like he'd just graduated with honors from Mike Tyson's Ear-niverous School of Boxing.

The NBA wasn't about to let itself become the puppet that Condi Rice is. Nope, it fought back, whacking Artest in the only place a man of his size can be injured: his wallet.

And little Ronny got a big dose of the smackdown stick - an unprecedented 73-game suspension, amounting to a $4.95 million fine. Ouch.

But the NBA holds no monopoly on morons. With the cancellation of play for the 2004-05 season, the NHL became the first of the four major professional sports leagues to lose an entire regular season because of a labor dispute.

Nice job, guys. That's like winning the golden pooper scooper crown.

Finally, as the entire world knows, the Wildcats blew a 75-60 lead with four minutes remaining in the game to lose to Illinois by one point in overtime.

Rumors that the UA men's basketball team will be pictured beneath the word "choke" in next year's Encyclopedia Britannica have yet to be confirmed.

I just can't choose. The race to become the newest inductee into this year's Sports Hall of Shame is too close to call. You decide.

Dillon Fishman is a third-year law student. He can be reached at

Matt Gray

The fall of the evil empire

After the great war in 2003, the world waited with bated breath to see if liberty and freedom would triumph over tyranny and oppression this year. While Saddam may have been toppled before classes began in the fall, the world's most nefarious dictator remained in power. George Steinbrenner laughed at the world from within his lavish Bronx palace, touting his newest weapon of mass destruction, Alex "I cost more than any missile system in the world" Rodriguez.

You can only imagine the thick cloud of cigar smoke in George's office the night his New York Yankees took a 3-0 series lead over their supposed rival, the Boston Red Sox. No team in baseball history had ever come back from that kind of deficit. The darkest truths of our society were about to be confirmed once again: Money is power, and it doesn't matter if your power is corrupt if you still have more than everyone else.

Yet money, power and history were about to take a back seat to a hope and faith that had been hardened by 86 years under an evil regime. The Red Sox didn't lose another game, beating both the Yankees and the Cardinals four times in a row to shatter the Curse of the Bambino along with the expectations of the world.

While it was a great moment for New England sports fans, the victory also carried a great lesson for all Americans. Between this scraggly group of ballplayers and President George W. "strategery" Bush, we've all learned that being an idiot doesn't mean you can't climb to the pinnacle of success in the United States. This glowing reaffirmation of the American dream made the triumph of the Red Sox the issue of the year.

Matt Gray is a second-year law student. He can be reached at

Damion LeeNatali

Controversial ocular wear

Though the country elected a new president, the Vatican selected a new pope and students were finally granted a student section, Letters to the Editor indicate what issue UA students deemed most pressing this year: big sunglasses and Ugg boots.

Forget abortion, affirmative action, financial aid, Jed Smock or Michael Moore - the mere sight of oversized ocular wear and unwieldy snow boots is the only campus controversy sure to get the students' blood boiling.

Indeed, these fashion trends du jour quickly became the most divisive issue on campus, pitting student against student, sibling against sibling and greeks against non-greeks. It was like the Civil War, only without the muskets (or, for that matter, any discernible trace of relevance).

Fortunately, a calm has finally descended over the campus now that the two sides have agreed to bring peace to our broken land. In their own version of Appomattox, fashionable students were able to keep their treasured sunglasses and boots while the antagonists made sure to reveal the absolute ridiculousness of it all in establishing a few ground rules:

Big sunglasses: Big sunglasses will be deemed acceptable, but only so long as they occupy at least nine-tenths of a girl's available facial space, and only so long as the designer's trademark logos are displayed in the most ostentatious manner possible so as to dispel any doubt that these could possibly be anything other than the most overpriced sunglasses known to man.

Ugg boots: Ugg boots may only be worn in a manner that is as far from their original purpose as possible; they may not be worn in a place or climate that is cold, but must instead be worn in the blistering heat, and even then must be accompanied by miniskirts or enticingly-revealing shorts.

And with that, we are a united campus once more.

Damion LeeNatali is a political science and history sophomore. He can be reached at

Dan Post

George W. Bush wins re-election

No one was really sure who would win last fall's presidential election. Predictions varied across the board as Election Day approached. It had been a roller coaster of a race, and the two major candidates entered voting day neck and neck. Exit polls indicated that John Kerry would win decisively, regaining glory for the Democrats in a rejection of George W. Bush's right-wing extremism. But it was not to be. Bush stunningly took Florida by 5 percent, and when the results for Ohio were reported, many Democrats' worst fears were realized.

It was a time of soul searching for Democrats; a feeling of desperation pervaded in our minds. This wasn't just the issue of the year; it felt like the issue of our lives. The damage that George W. Bush would incur to the dreams of a progressive United States would take a lifetime to overcome. And when Bush declared a mandate, even though he only won the popular vote by 2 percent and won Ohio by less than 200,000 votes, no one knew what he would try.

Now we know. Privatization of Social Security and the validation of his foreign policy doctrine quickly became the chance for Bush to leave a conservative legacy on the country, much the way FDR is viewed to have left a progressive legacy.

So far, there appears to be a reversal of support of George Bush since election time. But Bush and his main man Karl Rove are masterful politicians, able to manipulate language and the media like no one else in U.S. history - as evidenced by his election victory. Only time will tell if Bush can accomplish his broad policy goals, and only then will the true impact of his re-election be measured.

Dan Post is an anthropology and ecology senior. He can be reached at

Rui Wang

Stem cells open a realm of possibilities

Forget the election. The most important development this year has been the amazing advances in stem cell technology. In South Korea, a woman who was paralyzed for 20 years started walking again after scientists repaired her spine using umbilical cord stem cells. The problem of incontinence in women may be cured by transplanting stem cells into the urethra to strengthen it. Most notable was the breakthrough achieved in Germany in November when stem cells were extracted from fat taken out of a girl's buttocks, mixed with bone chips and used to reconstruct part of her skull that had been damaged years before in a fall. The bone chips appeared to signal the stem cells to create more bone, allowing the transplanted portions to grow with the skull. Take that technology, throw in a bit of Beverly Hills elbow grease, mix with an image-conscious society and the possibilities are endless. Need a liposuction and breast enhancement? You can achieve both with one elegant solution. Want a prehensile, grasping tail that'll make you the life of the party or a Worf forehead ridge that'll turn the other Trekkies green with envy? Someday it might be possible, and we'll trace it all back to now.

Rui Wang is a third-year law student. She can be reached at

Keren Raz

Genocide happening again in Sudan

"What is the Holocaust?" A high school student I mentor asked me that question after she came across a Holocaust remembrance essay contest. "It's the period in history during World War II where the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews and 6 million other people." "Oh, OK." "You've never heard of the Holocaust?" "No." "You must have. It's studied in every history class." "Well, I haven't heard it."

The Holocaust has already been forgotten and genocide is happening again in Sudan. More than 200,000 people have been killed. More than 1 million have been displaced. It's the biggest story of the year, and it could easily be forgotten. But thanks to UA students, some attention is being brought to the crisis. Members of the group Concerned Students for Darfur have been on the UA Mall for the past few weeks selling green bracelets with the saying, "Save Darfur. Not on My Watch."

It gets hard to take action on a conflict occurring so far away, and perhaps that's one of the reasons why the U.S. government and the rest of the world does so little. But the more we know and the more we remember the Holocaust's lessons, the easier it might become to figure out what to do. I hope UA students keep on creating awareness about what will become one of the world's worst atrocities. I hope we realize how big of a story the genocide in Sudan is.

Most of all, I hope the world listens to survivors like my grandpa, who says, "They should know for the future not to sit idly by."

Keren Raz is a senior majoring in political science and English. She can be reached at

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