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steffanie rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The Thin Line Between Religious Freedom and Playing God

rp_steffanie_rivers2011-hand-chin-med-big-150x150.jpg*After all the Tea Party protests and legislative hearings trying to dismantle President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act, more than 8 million people have signed up for the government sponsored health insurance plan. That’s one million more than was the goal.

And while this plan doesn’t solve everybody’s healthcare woes, thirty percent of those who enrolled are 18 to 34. These young, healthy adults probably plan to use their insurance to pay for preventative maintenance care. But if that includes the use of birth control, some employers say they don’t want to cover that. So they’re appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to be exempt from the Affordable Healthcare Act’s contraception mandate.

Siting religious reasons, some employers want to take away their employees’ option to use the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices (IUD’s), calling them forms of abortion. In reality, these employers are pro-lifers who want to blame their controlling nature on God. If God doesn’t force anybody to serve him, but gives everyone the choice to serve him, who is a business owner to dictate how employees use their health insurance?

These are the same people who are against welfare, against food stamps and against any form of government support to families with dependent children. They should make up their minds: either be against birth control or against government handouts. It makes no sense to be against both. Pay for birth control to prevent the baby or be prepared to pay for the baby. It’s a prime example of the adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Earlier this month Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners in that state to deny service to gays and lesbians siting their religious beliefs against homosexuality. What about your religious beliefs of love and inclusion instead of disdain and separation? What about as a business owner you’re in business to make money – not to judge how others live their lives? If Brewer would have allowed the bill to proceed, the NFL was prepared to move next year’s Super Bowl out of Arizona causing a loss worth millions of dollars. You can’t legislate people’s hearts, but when you start messing with people’s money oftentimes that leads to more objectivity.

Different religious interpretations are sure to create dueling points of view. And sure, everybody’s not going to get along all the time. But if you want to discriminate against a group of people and try to control how they live, just say it’s because you’re discriminating and controlling. Don’t hide behind God, who gives everybody the choice to serve Him.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at teamtcb.tcb@gmail.com for comments, questions and speaking inquiries.

steffanie rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The NCAA Windfall

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*As I sit here watching the NCAA Championship basketball game I can’t help but think past the game itself and to all the money that has been made during this tournament season. From cities such as Dallas that brought in millions of dollars by hosting the Final Four to merchandisers and retail establishments that got a financial windfall just by being in the right place at the right time, these kind of sporting events seem to be a win-win for everyone involved.

Tournament colleges get priceless advertisement and coaches get million dollar salaries with bonus bucks to boot. Last week USA Today listed the compensation for NCAA tournament coaches that ranged from $171,000 to $9 million a year. Some say college players – arguably the most important pieces of the equation – should be satisfied with a winning score and an athletic scholarship that, for most, isn’t enough to pay a full year’s tuition plus room and board.

The NCAA has restrictions against students receiving any compensation in exchange for their college play because, it contends, athletics are secondary to education. It’s funny (peculiar, not ha ha) how the people charged with making this decision are the ones pocketing the money. And what’s even more unbelievable is the NCAA is listed as a non-profit organization. That means it doesn’t pay taxes on the billions of dollars it collects and spends in the name of education before athletics.

So how does a, um hum, non-profit organization with an operating budget twice that of the NBA justify using its funds to build bigger sports facilities, pay million dollar salaries and do everything except share the proceeds with players? Oh yeah, those less-than-full scholarships and the NCAA’s mission to “increase the academic training and careers and success” of student athletes.

But the numbers show the NCAA had fallen short of its mission so poorly that in 2004 it was forced to create a program to gauge the academic progress of student athletes. Universities that fail to graduate at least half its student athletes every year could be fined, the number of scholarships reduced and possible suspension from its division conference. Eight of the teams in the 2014 tournament failed to graduate the fifty percent minimum. Eighty-eight percent of the teams graduated just 60 percent of its student athletes. So, of all the players good enough to make the team, and of all the teams good enough to make the tournament nearly half the student athletes don’t graduate. Statistics show the numbers are getting worse with each passing year. And if that’s not bad enough, less than one percent of college basketball players go on to play in the NBA. Most of them leave without college degrees, without a NBA career and without a clue as to what to do next.

So much for the NCAA’s mission to increase the academic training, careers and success of student athletes. Why don’t they just admit it’s about the money.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For questions, comments and speaking inquiries email her at teamtcb.tcb@gmail.com

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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Consider the Source

rp_steffanie_rivers2011-hand-chin-med-150x150.jpgI don’t have children, but at one point in my life I was a 16 year-old girl. I went to church, made good grades and was involved in extra-curricular activities at school. I had a “good-girl” image, but occasionally I did what most teenagers do, such as lie, skip school and other things my mother to this day has never found out about. Still, I didn’t get away with much, because my single-mother once was a teenager herself.

So when I read about the Texas father who found a boy in his daughter’s room and shot and killed the boy after his daughter denied knowing the boy, I believe the father put too much credence in his daughter’s claims, failed to consider the behavior of a typical teenager and over-reacted causing him to needlessly take a life.

You can’t always believe events take place exactly as they are reported in the news. But according to reports, the younger brother of the 16-year-old girl spotted the 17-year-old boy in his sister’s bedroom around 2:30am and alerted his father. Apparently the father went to investigate with gun in hand and found the teens in bed together. For me, that’s where the account of what happened and sound judgment diverge. Did it occur to the father that his daughter might be lying to save her own skin? Why would the girl be in her own bed with someone she doesn’t know? And if she readily admitted to allowing the boy into her room did the father shoot him anyway out of anger? If I found a boy in my daughter’s bed I probably would be angry, but anytime teenagers are involved you have to consider the source and look at all points of view. Dogs bark, babies cry and teenagers will lie.

A homeowner has the right to protect himself and his family from intruders. So the fact that the boy – for all intents and purposes an uninvited stranger – was found in the home in the middle of the night, the law is on the side of the homeowner. That’s why the father hasn’t been charged and probably won’t be indicted by a grand jury for any crime.

Still we have become a society of people who shoot first and ask questions later. Most people have little to no communication skills. Despite the fact that we have become a more multi-cultural society, ironically we are less tolerant and – it seems – more afraid than ever before. Just because one might be within his rights to use deadly force doesn’t mean he should.

After all is said and done the life of a teenager was taken, and for what? For being impulsive and making an immature decision in the name of fun or in the name of love. We’ve all been there. The difference is we were fortunate enough to live through it.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For questions, comments and speaking inquiries contact her at teamtcb.tcb@gmail.com

Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The Consequences of Their Actions

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Steffanie Rivers

Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking advantage of a weak spot in Ukrain. Three weeks ago Ukraine’s president was kicked out of office over allegations of corruption. Now Putin and his Russian military have taken over key parts of Ukraine and probably will try to take over the whole country unless Ukrain starts defending itself.

Why is Russia punking Ukraine? Some say ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and Putin might have had an undercover plan for a takeover all along, which ultimately led to Yanukoych’s ouster. What does this have to do with the United States? Absolutely nothing. Russia and Ukrain are in an A and B conversation. The U.S. government should see its way out, especially since what U.S. officials have said so far proves them to be hypocrites.

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Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Be My Valentine Forever

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Steffanie Rivers

*After one marriage, one divorce and a failed union I thought was the sure thing I’ve been asking myself what it takes to sustain a loving relationship.

Like most people I’m good at starting them. I’m a good conversationalist, I’m smart, funny and a great cook (if I say so myself – and I do).

I’m educated, employed and easy on the eyes. In the beginning of a relationship these qualities are enough for myself and my intended as we seem to be evenly yoked. And all goes well for the first six months or so. But what starts out full of promise ends up full of questions.

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Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Overcharged and Underpaid

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Steffanie Rivers Since Santa didn’t bring me a new car for Christmas as I had wished and I don’t want to pay for one myself, last weekend I found myself at an auto auction to research the ins and outs of the game. Auto auctions, I’ve been told, are a great way to obtain good vehicles at wholesale prices.

*Since Santa didn’t bring me a new car for Christmas and I don’t want to pay for one myself, last weekend I went to an auto auction to learn how the game works. I’ve been told you can get quality vehicles at wholesale prices.

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