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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

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The Pit; Syria’s Freefall

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While perusing the news yesterday I came across this article in The New York Times, touching on a concern I’ve had in recent months: how has the conflict in Syria lasted as long as it has? The reasons vary from the religious zeal of extremist ideology to the steadfast pursuit of power by the Syrian government lead by Bashar Al-Assad. In high school I recall learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust, and in my own case the plight of my Native American ancestors(though the information was substantially minimal I don’t mind noting.) When we were educated about these falls of man the underlying theme seemed to be that as a people we had a responsibility to never again let such travesty befall our fellow being. Yet here we stand idly by as a nation burns, children are left homeless, dead, or diseased in a conflict that’s no longer able to find a unifying cause outside of the lawlessness that plagues the land. As explained by Anne Bernard:

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. Syrians have issued a sustained, collective cry for help from what is now probably history’s most-documented manmade disaster. They capture appalling suffering on video and beam the images out to the world: skeletal infants, body parts pulled from the rubble of homes, faces stretched by despair, over and over. Despite that, to the bitterness of Syrians, the world’s diplomatic attention is drifting. Even as Syria’s epic suffering is remaking the human geography of the Middle East and beyond, initiatives to ease the crisis have sputtered and failed to offer effective help. Already tenuous hopes for an internationally brokered peace settlement have further faded as Russian-American relations worsen.” -Anne Bernard, The New York Times

While the world watches Crimea, and the newfound Russo-US relations that are bound to follow, what will come of the chemical weapons disposal deal brokered by Russia and the US? What will come of Putins support for the totalitarian Syrian Government, let alone the United States’ for a rebel movement now principally inhabited by Jihadists? Whatever your poison, raise a glass in the hopes Russia and America can once again settle things amicably without having to dredge up cold war diplomacy. Evolution only moves forward right? -Shivite12

(Title link leads to Anne Bernard’s stunning piece on the Syrian crisis)

Shameful Performances

Shameful Performances

Yesterday, Crimean citizens voted in a landslide 95% majority, to secede from Ukraine and align itself with its previous ruling power, Russia. This particular piece of democratic action has been at the center of the global stage since protests climaxed in Ukraine in January. Since then events have continued to escalate, almost setting off a bloody conflict between Russia and Ukraine amidst a myriad of provocations. The Ukrainian government, however, was wildly put off by the secession, and like the United States, Japan, and other western powers refuses to recognize the democratic(that some would argue corrupt) process that took place in this southern coastal region. I find myself haunted by many questions in the aftermath of the vote, with two in particular unable to leave me be. The first is for Vladamir Putin of Moscow’s leadership, I ask: With all the protests outside the Kremlin, and the economic sanctions placed on you by the U.S. and the E.U., was it all worth it? I speculate you miscalculated and now sit with an entire caribou kicking and screaming on your plate rather than the delicious flank you were awaiting. Eat up. And a question for the desk of POTUS, Barack Obama, Is military dominance in the world worth running to the rescue of every European country that experiences strife? And on top of that is it worth our international reputation to turn all red in the face with Russia when our international rhetoric is already filled with lies and double standards(I.e. Russia violates Ukrainian sovereignty, which we proceed condemn, yet we violated Iraq’s among others)? Hypocrisy rarely benefits the international community. -Shivite12

A look at economic consequence

When examining the Syrian conflict we often become enamored by the bullets flying and the mess of politics that surround it. I was particularly drawn to this video due to its portrayal of a lesser known victim: those burdened with the economic fallout. Jordanians find themselves trapped in a paralyzing economy clogged by a massive influx of Syrian refugees, pouring into Jordan to escape a likely demise. The conflict in Syria shows little to no signs of losing momentum, a foreboding sign of only greater casualties and human rights violations to come. Let us once again hope for an end to this strife before 2015. -Shivite12

You can donate to SaveTheChildren here: http://www.savethechildren.org

Second a Day; Save the Children UK

Heartbreaking video by Save the Children UK. Touching on a previous point it is easy in the west to distance ourselves from conflicts abroad, yet as is portrayed in this video even places like the UK can fall to the plight of man. Take a second to watch and consider the consequences when events like this are continually escalated with no intervention by the international community in states such as Syria. If the destruction won’t end now, then when? -Shivite12
SaveThe ChildrenUK: twitter.com/savechildrenuk
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/

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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