This summer, my internship allowed me to work with families that have a Child In Need of Assistance case or a delinquency case. I learned a lot this summer, but the generally negative attitude toward foster care really irritated me. People use foster care as a scapegoat for the traumatic times their families goes through.

On Aug. 12 of this year, New York District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled on the case Floyd v. City of New York; the issue was a policy known as “stop and frisk,” a New York Police Department’s policy that made it acceptable to stop and frisk a person if they felt there was “reasonable suspicion.”

The Texas Tribune did an article on July 27 about a new self-esteem building course for women that have been charged with prostitution. The program is called “We've Been There, Done That." It encourages women to speak out about their experiences.

Whether it is at a community college, a state university or an Ivy League school, students rack up a lot of debt. The average student debt is $24,301. 40 percent of those who have student loans are under 30 years of age, 42 percent are between 30 and 50, and 17 percent are over 50 years of age.

I watched a TED lecture several months ago called “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” by Amy Cuddy. This particular lecture is about how body language can change the way you think about yourself.

On June 17, the Supreme Court made a decision on the court case Salinas v. Texas. It addressed problems that arose when Genoveo Salinas turned himself in at a police station to answer questions. Because it was understood that he was there voluntarily, Salinas was not read his Miranda rights.

I had the opportunity to watch parts of the murder trial Smith vs. The State of Iowa this past week. On the first day, I sat in on the jury selection. Although I was mainly watching the potential jurors, at the front of the courtroom sat the defendant. He sat still for the first four or five hours, then he turned around and I could see his face.

Based on Pew Research data, 46 percent of fathers say at least one of their children was born out of wedlock, 31 percent of fathers say all their children were born out of wedlock, and 17 percent of men with biological children have fathered them with more than one woman. As of October 2012, 40.7 percent of births were considered illegitimate or out of wedlock. In comparison, in 1960 out of wedlock births equaled only 11 percent of all total births in the United States.

The first time I related coffee and talking was when I was in preschool. Since I was four, I clearly didn’t make the realization myself. But my family was good friends with the pre-school teacher, Judith, and she coined the phrase “coffee talk.” At the time, I just thought that’s what everyone did. People sat down, drank some coffee and talked about their day. It was that simple at the time. But there is so much more that goes on while those people are talking.

Freedom, violence and safety are concepts that we hold to great importance in our society. Two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his new gun safety bill and while the gun safety bills are being discussed on the news and in Congress, let’s remind ourselves of both sides of the argument.

I was recently thinking about my third grade experience. In my class of 28, back in 2000, we were assigned a pen pal from Kansas City, MO. The next year, one of the more popular books for elementary girls was a book called, "Snail Mail No More" by Paula Danziger. I remember because I borrowed a copy from my friend and dropped it in a puddle and ruined her book. This book is basically about the transition from the literal writing of letters, snail mail, to emailing your friends instead.

There is much controversy about gift giving at this time of the year. Whether it’s over a holiday or simply a non-holiday end-of-the-year gift, there are many ways people have tried to make this easy and have quite honestly confused the tradition for many people.

A smile can say a lot. It is recognized as an indicator of enjoyment but it can also be deceiving. People will smile when they are trying to hide something, when they are in an awkward situation or when they are truly happy.

Choosing a political party ought to be like choosing a major. You should try it out a little before you commit. You shouldn’t always do what your parents tell you to do politically, and you have to be true to what you believe while still considering the facts. For many Iowans, when you officially pick a political party, you register to vote for the first time — and often this occurs when you obtain your driver’s license. You can do this at 17 1/2 years old.

I’ve been registering people to vote this autumn. The responses I have gotten from the student body vary. Whether I’m volunteering for a specific candidate or for a non-partisan group, there is one response that continues to irk me.

As everyone toyed with the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” as they were going through childhood and through college as well, I knew I could rule out two occupations, doctor and teacher. I just don’t have the stomach for anything medical. And teaching seemed like an exhausting pain. However, without either profession our society would crumble to exist.

Some people have “thick skin” in the metaphoric sense of the phrase. This would mean that these people do not let small insults or rude comments bother them. They just keep on doing whatever they were doing in the first place. Where do we find such people in our society, and how do they acquire such numbness?

As I sat on an old flowered bed sheet that my family had laid down on the grass while we listened to a local country cover band for the Fourth of July, I was engrossed by the connection between patriotism, summertime and country music. What is it about the summer’s heat that brings out a sense of patriotism? What is it about country music that amplifies the feeling of summer? How does that patriotic feeling inspire a country song in a summer setting?

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