Systematic Oppression

You’re not wrong for accepting what you’ve been given, but recognize what you take for granted.

“Everyone needs to be aware where everyone started, and not everyone started out equally in this country” – Don Lemon

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/economy/2014/12/14/the-economy-in-black–white-animation.cnnmoney/ 

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City from the view of a New Yorker

AG,

Flying to a Fly Over

 

After years of summers spent abroad, leaving my family behind and simultaneously reuniting with another each time, we’re finally taking our vacation together. As i sit here eagerly typing away and hoping no one is reading over my shoulder, my Utah mormon stereotypes are slowly diminishing. Unless the majority of these people are transferring flights, i’m almost positive this is the most diverse group of people i’ve ever flown with. Of course with all middle American bound flights, the majority of the Delta-airline-census reigns mostly caucasian, despite that statistic there isnt a shortage of culture on this flight. My favorite passenger so far has to be the passionate italian man sitting in the row adjacent to mine. Theres something sweetly entertaining about listening to him switch from his badly broken english to that beautifully frustrated italian dialect when explaining the situation to his wife. Something about seperate seats… I wasn’t really listening.

 

Aside from the diversity, the technology on this “aircraft” is somewhere between the invention of the wheel and dial up. I’m convinced the “touchscreen” monitor is merely a plastic picture pasted over real buttons, cause the force you need to actually get it to work contradicts the purpose of a touchscreen. The food is non-existent, although i never expected much out of a 6 hour flight; im content with my pre-made PB&J and bodega chips. When you’re twenty thousand feet in the air, the need to counting calories flies out the window… literally. God forbid if this is going to be my last meal, on the way down i’ll surely i’m sure the last thing that’ll be on my mind is if the PB&J went to my hips. Can we also discuss Delta’s audacity to charge $6 to watch a movie that came out months ago on this 3” by 5” excuse for a screen. I’d rather sleep and listen to the italians.

The No-Fly List

The “No-Fly List”: Media Misconceptions by Adina Greenidge 

The No-fly list, self-explanatorily named, is a list of people who are presumed to be a terror threat that are indefinitely banned from flying in or out of the U.S, or boarding a commercial plane. This list was created during the Bush administration under a series of security laws to prevent future terrorist attacks against the U.S. This list, banning citizens and non-citizens from flying, is actually only a fraction of those that are on the Terrorist Watch List; which is where the No-fly list stems from. One of the biggest criticisms throughout the media is that the No-Fly list contains a disproportionate ratio of the amount of people on it, to actual legitimate threats. The number of people on the No-Fly list has been so largely highlighted that it in essence created an irrational uproar throughout the media, when in reality it is a significantly smaller list than the actual Terrorist Watch List, and an even smaller portion of the entire American population that is being affected by it.

After the attacks on 9/11, the countries sense of safety was destroyed. The bush administration went to great lengths to assure american citizens that we were going to recover and protect the nation by any means necessary. In other words that meant limiting the freedoms and natural rights of U.S citizens in the name of patriotism, or in this case more appropriately named: The US PATRIOT Act. According to the 107th official Congressional website it stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism…” (271). According to Eyder Peralta, journalist of NPR news, the No-fly list  was a direct result of the US patriot act. According to the US constitution, The fifth amendment states that in order to be charged with an offense you must have a fair and impartial trial (Constitution), in other words you can’t legally be charged with a crime without trial. The people put on the no-fly list were often never notified that they were on this list until they attempted to board a plane and were turned away. This held many people back from their families, from medical treatments, and many other personal events. (Peralta)

Despite the unconstitutional process of the No-Fly list, mainstream media and the general public seem to be more concerned about the rising number of people included on this list every year. According to Fox News journalist Eileen Sullivan, ever since the failed Detroit airliner bombing, the qualifications to be considered a threat were lowered and there was a spike in the list of names being added every day. From 2009 to 2010 the list of names jumped from 10,000 to over 21,000 in under a year (Sullivan). Those numbers have been thrown around all throughout the media world without recognizing that the majority of people on the No-Fly list are not American citizens. CNN jumped on the bandwagon in 2012 when they ran an article about the  expansive list of people being added to the No-Fly list:

The “no fly” list produced by the FBI now has approximately 21,000 names on it, according to the official, who has knowledge of the government’s figures. One year ago about 10,000 individuals were on it…  Analysts can now use single-source information, if it’s considered credible, to recommend someone for one of the government’s terror watch lists, including the no-fly list.”

This seems to imply that 21,000 Americans are being unconstitutionally added to this list without consent, and are profiled as terrorists due to unreliable sources and information. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) ran an article entitled “What to do if you think you’re on the No-Fly list” making it seem as if the threat is closer to home and can affect anyone. This is a largely untrue stereotype about the No-Fly list that has remained salient throughout mainstream media, bringing people to believe their rights are being infringed upon and creating this irrational fear of being included on this list.

According to an FBI spokesman and Huffington Post informant, “There are about 550,000 people on the agency’s larger terrorism watch list, approximately 98 percent of whom are foreign nationals.”  and of that 550,000 only 21,000 are on the no-fly list, and of those 21,000 people less than 2% are American citizens. Mathematically speaking there’s less than 500 Americans on the No-fly list and according to the 2014 census bureau theres 317 million citizens in the United states, meaning the No-Fly list includes only .00000158% of the entire population, a group small enough to fit into a high school gymnasium. This reality has not been publicized through the mainstream media, although they always highlight the false positives of the No-Fly list.

False positives are cases where people are denied boarding because their name matches one on the No-Fly list, even though they are not the same person the FBI intended on adding to the list. This is one of the many flaws of the No-Fly list that has been largely publicized:

“We’ve all heard the horror stories about well-intended watchlists designed to keep terrorists from boarding airplanes: How Senator Ted Kennedy’s name showed up on a watchlist a few years ago; how young children with names similar to those of known terrorists are prevented from boarding; how even federal air marshals have been barred from taking flights they are assigned to protect.” (Armstrong)

David Armstrong, journalist from NBC news, wrote in an article titled “On the No-Fly List? How to Fight False Positives” Which discussed some of the many cases where children and even senators were put on the list by mere coincidence. Although the media tends to disproportionately represent the actual number of people by making it seem like the majority of those put on the No-Fly list are innocent Americans. In reality the screening process for those put on the No-Fly list comes from  an extensive background check and probable cause to believe that you are in contact with or are connected to terrorist groups.

Despite the intentions to serve and protect, the FBI has also been known to use the list to coerce confessions and force muslims to be informants in their favor. According to Amy Goodman host of Democracy Now! The plaintiffs say the government refuses to explain why they were named on the no-fly list. They also believe that their names continue to be listed because they would not agree to become FBI informants and spy on their local communities.” (Goodman). The growing concerns of unconstitutional uses of this list caused countless lawsuits and civil rights issues which then led to a judge finally ruling it’s process unconstitutional in June of 2014. USA today’s Michael Winter reported shortly after the ruling that “A federal judge Tuesday ordered the government to revise its post-Sept. 11 no-fly list, ruling it violates Americans’ constitutional rights to travel freely and to effectively challenge being blacklisted because of alleged links to terrorism.” Which has been a hot topic ever since the countless news stories about FBI misconducts involving the list and the false positive cases used as bait for the already fearful Americans.

Justin Florence from the Yale Law Journal and author of “Making the No-Fly List Fly” took a different approach in looking at the list, one that the media failed to do; propose a constitutional and effective way of using the list in our benefit.

“Since 9/11, the federal government’s use of terrorist watchlists has constrained

the liberty of thousands of American travelers and transportation workers. While watchlists  make sense for security purposes, they have a pair of troubling side effects: Individuals may be listed by mistake, and once on a list it is not easy to get off. This Note argues that all people kept  from working or traveling by government use of terrorist watchlists have a due process right to receive meaningful procedural protections, including notice of their status and a fair hearing. The Note then proposes model procedures that protect both constitutional liberties and national security.” (florence 2148)  

This is an approach that I haven’t come across when analyzing the media, and I agree that the no fly list has the potential to be a very useful asset in regards to national security, a point that needs emphasizing throughout the media since so much of the general public still believes their rights are in danger. The evidence shows that only a miniscule portion of the population is being affected by this list, although anyone familiar with the constitutional foundation of this country should argue that if any citizen is being wrongly convicted, no matter the scale of the situation, somethings wrong with the system. Florence asserts that

“Today’s transportation watchlist system, had it been in place at the time,

might have prevented the 9/11 attacks.9 Watchlists not only provide an

effective layer of security, but are also relatively cheap, efficient, and

  1. (Florence 2152)

Which coincides with my previous statement that its a more economic and practical way of dealing with terrorism. In this case Florence argues that if the No-Fly List didn’t exist, it could potentially create an opportunity for more terrorist plots and actions. Of course many may disagree on the grounds that the No-Fly List should still exist because of its unconstitutional process, nevertheless I agree with Florence in the sense that the list could be useful, it should just be modified.

Soumya Panda of the Pierce Law Review and author of “The Procedural Due Process Requirements for No-Fly Lists” argues in favor of the No-Fly list by stating why one’s fifth amendment rights would have to be given up in the name of safety, she states

“The TSA further argues that publicly disclosing the identity of individuals on the list would also jeopardize passenger safety because terrorists would learn which of their agents have been identified and which of their agents can travel undetected. For these security reasons, The TSA does not publicly disclose the No-Fly and the Selectee lists.”

Ultimately, the goal of the TSA is to protect us while we travel. The first reaction to the procedure of the No-Fly List would make many assume their rights were in danger and that they could be barred from boarding an airplane, and if someone relied mainly on the media this would be their only view about the No-Fly List. They would remain, by and large, ignorant to the reality of the TSA’s efforts. Although I also understand the popular concern; if we are right about our rights being taken away, then the major consequences that follow are giving the government full power to amend and adjust the Bill Of Rights and the Constitution without our consent which can potentially be very problematic.  Although a utilitarian would say that the rights of one can be given up for the safety of all; its a sacrifice the government is willing to make in order to keep the country safe. This may seem to go against our country’s foundation, but it is in fact crucial in terms of todays concern over terrorism and national security. We live in a completely different time than when our country was founded, therefore the laws must be adjusted every few decades to fit our circumstances appropriately. The only way to get the people to understand this is to give them the whole story instead of tailoring the story to make the governments efforts, to keep us safe, look like an effort to strip us of our rights.

In this new world of media, reporting has become a fear factor contest won by getting the most viewers attracted to the wrong issues. Our sympathies are directed towards things that don’t have that large of an impact on us or our community. Similarly Cal Thomas of Tribune Media Services believes

“Among the responsibilities a free press should meet is alerting people to danger. It has done so in matters pertaining to disease and diet, but it failed to warn the public of the growing terrorist threat in the years leading up to 9/11… The commission notes that terrorism was not a central issue in the 2000 presidential campaign, mostly because “the media called little attention to it… When Jordan arrested 16 terrorists, including two American citizens, for planning bombings in that country, the story was buried on page 13 of The New York Times.” (Thomas 1)

The media was created to tell us what to care about and why. Just as Thomas stated, the job of free press is to alert people to danger whether it be from international threats, or ones that are more domestic like civil rights abuses. In many cases i believe the mainstream media mirrors what we find important but simultaneously shapes our morals and values. Laws like the No-Fly list are passed everyday but go by a different name and effect a larger portion of the population. For example public school closures and budget cuts on education, which not only affects our immediate lives but the future of this country.  We now live in a society where the mainstream news is turning into entertainment and doesn’t promote activism or the change we need to see in our country.  The laws need to be changed, but in order to do so we must get out of the 1776 mindset of our founding principles because we’ve evolved and with that evolution our laws must follow suit. The No-Fly list, although necessary, signifies this change. Some laws must be adjusted even if that means limiting the rights of the citizens to keep us safe, although it should not go as far as to strip us of our rights completely. According to Thomas, If we want the public to care about these issues, we must inform them. To get people to accept these new laws and safety measures they must realize they are for the greater good of the country. Although we must also take responsibility for our knowledge and make an effort to inform ourselves by researching issues like these, as not only citizens but as well the future of this country.

Flying to a Fly Over – UTAH

 

After years of summers spent abroad, leaving my family behind and simultaneously reuniting with another each time, we’re finally taking our vacation together. As I sit here eagerly typing away and hoping no one is reading over my shoulder, my Utah-mormon stereotypes are slowly diminishing. Unless the majority of these people are transferring flights, i’m almost positive this is the most diverse group of people i’ve ever flown with. Of course with all middle-American bound flights, the majority of the Delta-airline-passenger-census reigns mostly caucasian, despite that fact that there isnt a shortage of culture on this flight. My favorite passenger so far has to be the italian man sitting in the row adjacent to mine. Theres something sweetly entertaining about listening to him switch from his badly broken english to that beautifully frustrated italian dialect when explaining the spread out seating arrangements to his wife.

Aside from the diversity, the technology on this “aircraft” is somewhere between the invention of the wheel and dial up. I’m convinced the “touchscreen” monitor is merely a plastic picture pasted over real buttons, cause the force you need to actually get it to work contradicts the purpose of a touchscreen. The food is non-existent, although i didn’t expect much out of a 6 hour flight; im content with my pre-made PB&J and bodega chips. When you’re twenty thousand feet in the air, the need to count calories flies out the window… literally. God forbid if this is going to be my last meal, on the way down i’m sure the last thing that’ll be on my mind is if the PB&J went to my hips. Can we also discuss Delta’s audacity to charge $6 to watch a movie that came out months ago on this 3” by 5” excuse for a screen. I’d rather sleep and listen to the italians. The plane is no where near landing, and my patience is wearing thin. 

 

Dirty Wars by jeremy Scahill review

Book response: Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill

Dirty wars was an unarguably extraordinary well-researched novel,
written by well known author and investigative journalist Jeremy
Scahill who started his career in journalism almost completely by
accident. He started his work under Amy Goodman, host of Democracy
Now! An independent news station, and now writes for The Nation
magazine as a war journalist. This particular project began during his
research involving how wars are now being fought over seas. Under the
Ford administration an executive order was executed that clearly
banned the United States from carrying out “Political assassinations”,
then the order was amended to cover more grounds under the Carter
administration and the enforcement of this particular law is what the
investigation of Dirty Wars is focused on. “No person employed by or
acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or
conspire to engage in, assassination” – President Jimmy Carters
executive order.
Dirty Wars highlights that under the Bush administration,
counter-terrorism was at an all time high with full support of the
nation and congress. We used 9/11 to constitute the massacre of an
entire nation [Afghanistan] and are using our imperial war tactics to
justify the killings of innocent civilians in countries where we
haven’t declared war. He told the story of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an
American citizen who condoned the actions of Islamic extremists
against the United States and nicknamed “A new face of terrorism”
following the death of Osama Bin Laden. Anwar was a normal
Islamic-American teenager who loved his country growing up, but after
experiencing the wars and human rights abuses brought about by America
in the middle east, his idea of his home country quickly became
obscured and perverted. Anwar believed “America has turned into a
nation of Evil”. Anwar was the first American citizen to not only be
on the US hit list for counter-terrorism, but to be killed in the name
of justice after Jimmy Carters executive order. They constituted his
assassination by claiming he gave anti-American speeches to terrorists
inspiring them to attack the US. He was processed through the Yemeni
court system, which was known to have prosecuted journalists for
speaking out against their dictatorship; it was clearly not a system
that coincided with the US justice system. Jeremy argued that he
should’ve had the right to an American trial before he was given the
death sentence [by way of a drone strike] since he was an American
citizen. The US ignored his rights and followed through with the
assassination of the Islamic-American preacher.
The counter terrorism war in the middle east, including dozens of
unknown countries around the world, are being implemented by a new
branch of the Government called JSOC which stands for the Joint
Special Operations Command that was founded in 1980. They are involved
in Air strikes, targeted killings, and the United States government
justifies their actions by claiming the world is a battlefield
therefore they can go where ever they please in the name of
counter-terrorism. Locals call members of JSOC “The American Taliban”.
One may argue that as a nation we are entitled to protection and
defense, and this is true, but what are we defending ourselves from?
The amount of women and children casualties far surpasses those of
actual Al-Qaeda members, which makes you wonder what our real purpose
in those countries are. It cant be an accident that the raid in the
Gardez Paktia Province killed two pregnant women and a police
commander trained by the US, when Seal Team 6 could track down kill
the worlds most wanted terrorist without error. Jeremy continually
asked Why JSOC was being allowed to run wild, carrying out more than 5
air strikes within a months time in a country without a declared war
killing over 150 people never suspected of terrorism? Was this a war
of peace and national prosperity or an imperialistic crusade?
The most chilling tale told by Mr. Scahill came two weeks after the
death of Anwar Al-Awlaki. His son Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, 16 years old
on his way home from his grandmother’s house, was killed during an air
strike, which the commander and chief claimed was not intentional. So
now we have two extreme cases of injustice where neither American
citizen was ever charged of being directly involved with terrorist
groups, and one who was killed merely by association. This is the new
way of war; covert organizations that carry out lethal operations
outside of a war zone, and the world have always turned a blind eye
until now.
The sources used in the making of Jeremy Scahill’s novel Dirty Wars
were mainly field gathered information; notes and interviews from
Mr.Scahill’s trips to Sa’na Yemen, Kabul Afghanistan, Gardez, and
Somalia. He quoted the United States Constitution a number of times,
as well as speeches given by government officials and public documents
that can be easily accessed online. A major part of being an
investigative journalist is gathering information from primary
sources, which can mean talking to the subject directly or using their
own words to support your story. With that being said a lot of
Jeremy’s information was gathered first hand from family members of
the victims and politicians / high ranking officials involved in the
war. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in not only our
relationship to the wars being raged in the middle east, but anyone
also interested in investigative journalism.

-Adina Guzman

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (and the NSA Was Watching)

Very relevant.

LibrarianShipwreck

Twas the night before Christmas, and all thro’ the house

The only sound to be heard, was the click of a mouse;

The family used their digital devices with little care,

In hopes that their wants just might be satisfied there;

The children they played on their smart phones in beds,

While visions from their apps danced in their heads,

From personal computers, to tablets, there was no cap,

All were settled in for a technologically wrought nap –

But within every device there arose a silent clatter,

Yet none in the sleepy house knew what was the matter.

But whether on Apple or Windows, with every app flash,

Every detail was logged, bound tightly as if with a sash.

There had been that wise lad – named den after snow,

Who had tried to give warning of what happens below

The surface of the devices – if pulled back…

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