Category Archives: United States

From the Soil Blossoms Rise

The American Dream has dripped through the cracks. Like liquid neatly filling fissures in the gravel and dissipating, our concept has perished without a sound. It was a concept once defined as having the opportunity to attain vast success and happiness regardless of ones background. The house, the car, the family, the money, what have you. Despite these claims of glory in defining the American Dream, it is a debilitating truth that the dream has devolved into a pursuit of the most basic liberties and securities one could expect to receive in this land. From the government invading privacy, to secure safe retirement, down to simply trying to survive in a pool of income inequality the American has been reduced to a struggle to get by, rather than climb to the top.

Those pursuing the American Dream have refocused from success incomparable to safety and security in a country where perhaps the guarantee is not so profound. The definition of success in pursuit of the American Dream has been less focused on things such as a nice car or a nice house, but instead for financial security. It is nothing short of appalling that a dream once defined as having a home you could be proud of has been torn down by economic turmoil and uncertainty into a hope of simply having a home at all. This modesty suddenly prominent among Americans can be argued to have rooted from the economic inequalities prevalent in our society, for example the big house and shiny car are no longer so commonly being seen as attainable by all, but attainable by all in a particular economic and social caste.

Many Americans abandon the pursuit of  success for a pursuit of security with the former not being such a grand guarantee.  As citizens of this country we must ask ourselves what can be done to avoid a fate of working deep into our old age just to spend our final years as we spent the early ones: just getting by. A call for a refinement of social security and the safety of personal investments must be made in order to challenge a vicious cycle of lost money in a void of mismanaged borrowing and sharing.

The American Dream is no longer and ideal defined by glory as once was ascribed to it in the past. Gone are the days of pursuit of happiness, but instead we usher in new times of managing to beat a system with the intention of infringing on the liberties and refuges once promised by the very same system. No longer a dream of attaining success unparalleled in the face of possible hardship, but a vision of overcoming guaranteed hardship without destroying oneself in the process. As a nation projecting such complacency with its circumstances, we are charged with the blame for not standing up and calling for reform when the problems were not elevated to the dramatic scale they have reached today. Whether we want this to be our new definition of the American Dream is up to our discretion, it is vital as those having to live within the system to decide if the dream need be changed from one of survival to one of triumph. -Shivite12

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A Green Apple Until they Painted me Red

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Yesterday a colleague of mine and I got into a minor spat concerning the blanket surveillance tactics utilized by the National Security Agency. (Previously touched on by UnfoldedOP here) Both parties brought up valid points, yet he had one question that stuck with me, for its one I’ve heard asked often since the exposure of these programs by Edward Snowden: “I’ve got nothing to hide, so why should I be against spying measures that ensure my security?” 
Let’s first tackle that vagueness, what does it mean necessarily that you have nothing to hide? For the purpose of argument we’ll apply the simplest definition: having no plans to break the law or harm the general populace. The error with this mentality is that although we’d like to believe in consistency, people, government, and life as a whole do not tend to take the path of little alteration and least resistance. Most consider themselves law abiding citizens, the definition of which is subject to change each year as laws change. Take, if you will, the Russian American population during the current international struggle we find ourselves. Should the United States want to keep a closer eye on their Russian citizens they need only manipulate the info gathered by the NSA, in this circumstance no longer being used for anti-terrorism, now just the broad term of national security. In the 1940’s Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and at home we responded by accusing the Japanese American population of espionage as we rounded them all up into camps, because whats a safer place for your citizens than locked up where they cant compromise your other citizens, a distinction that should try to be avoided by the American Government if it truly wants to serve all of us equally. These Japanese Americans simply had to be registered with the government as japanese to be included in this stain on our nations history.Mass surveillance becomes a problem once it has left the realm of security reassurance for the public, and entered the realm of “tool of the state.” As reported by Human Rights Watch, concerning a similar situation taking place in Ethiopia, “authorities use access to mobile data and call recordings to harass and arrest people they believe oppose the government,” and granted at this moment in time America may not be spooked enough to look past the mass persecution of people in the interest of “security,” but September 11th, 2001 we were absolutely spooked enough and all it took was one attack. When the Boston Marathon bombings took place Mosques around the country felt an uneasy atmosphere surrounding their sites, with a suspicious population circling about with various accusations for the Muslim community. And what if the next attacker is of Irish descent? Or an extreme baptist? Our information is only safe in that massive meta-database so long as a member of our community, culture, or social circle is involved in activities disapproved by the government. Instead of waiting to get up in arms about the spying until the government has targeted you only puts the problem on the back burner, acting now allows for immediate remedy before a greater burn is felt.  The government of the United States having this mass surveillance capability is detrimental to our progress as a nation, for controlled growth by a ruling class becomes a stronger reality each day the NSA is allowed its blanket surveillance. Here’s to hoping Obama follows through on an end to these programs, and pushes towards a more positive international tomorrow. Cheers. -Shivite12

HRW article concerning Ethiopian Mass Surveillance, a great read: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/25/witness_price-mass-surveillance

Whatever Happened to the Personal Bubble?

 

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All right readers, so what’s the deal with the NSA? In the name of precaution and security of the Nation, the National Security Agency (NSA) has stored millions of Internet and cellphone users’ data, along with monitoring phone calls and various other media activities of those it considers a threat to the safety of the nation. However, in defending their actions the NSA claims that their purpose is justified in the name of detecting foreign and domestic threats. While I concede weapons of mass destruction and terrorism are things I believe we all prefer were kept at bay, it is blasphemous to assert that tabs need be kept on close to a hundred percent of the Internet using population. The NSA’s existence stems from the signing into law of the USA-PATRIOT Act, which declared many invasions of citizens privacy constitutional, ranging from wire taps to invasions of homes and businesses in “sneak and peek” searches. When examining the act it is transparent that “the broad scope and full impact of the act’s provisions did not come to light until after it’s signing,” as stated by Andrew Walter in a review of the homeland security situation. In a haste to protect the borders of our nation from attack in face of a successful one on September 11th, we failed to foresee the results of the sacrifices to privacy that would be made in the name of security in the nation. How do we secure our privacy? At this years South by Southwest(SXSW) Tech festival multiple topics were discussed amongst Ben Wizner and Chris Soghoian of the ACLU, and their guest of honor Edward Snowden. Particularly, the point that mass surveillance can “become too expensive,” and this can be achieved through open ended encryption being provided by websites big and small, and putting security first when designing new apps, computer programs, etc. -Shivite12

Link to ACLU video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIhS9aB-qgU

Concerning torture allegations

Lately the media has been highlighting Guantanamo bay conditions and allegations that the US government is responsible for human rights abuses against the inmates. Most recently the subject of “force feedings,” have been a hot-button topic leaving many in the public questioning their continued support of an overtly violent war prison run and supervised by those who supervise our own nation. At a press conference last year well-regarded human-rights activist Madea Benjamin became a national and international sensation when she was escorted from President Obama’s appearance for heckling of the president concerning these allegations of prisoner torture. While the president can be applauded for his even allowing a dialogue between himself and Benjamin, the public still awaits the infamous “closing of Guantanamo,” as was promised by the Big O himself in his campaign platform early on. For many Americans its beginning to feel that by the time these allegations are unavoidable and need to be addressed  the President will already be out of office, and thus the “passing of the buck,” will have ensued elongating the publics wait and shirking responsibility for the Obama administration. Madea’s interview w/ Evelyn Nieves @ Global Possibilities  can be found at the following link: http://www.globalpossibilities.org/meet-the-woman-who-stood-up-to-obama-and-made-world-news/
-Shivite12

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