Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came into existence to examine the atrocious human rights abuses that occurred during the times of Apartheid in South Africa. The TRC was split into three distinct committees; one for the examination of human rights violations, another for reparations and rehabilitation, and the final, and possibly most controversial one; amnesty. [1]

Any and all people were subject to the investigation of the TRC, including citizens, police and most importantly, members of the ruling class at the time, the African National Congress.

The TRC focused on the years between 1960 and 1994; where apartheid was legal. Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, who later won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, was the Chairperson of the TRC. Tutu is a South African social rights advocate and a staunch opponent of apartheid policies in the 80’s. [2]

It is important to note that during the TRC’s investigation, members of the National Intelligence Agency destroyed large quantities of reports whilst defying government orders to cease and desist. [3] The TRC asserts that although the destruction of material complicated their investigative efforts, it did not hamper the clear evidence of apartheid and its inherent human rights violations.

An in-depth look into what types of human rights abuses occurred in South Africa can be found on the full TRC report at: http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/trc_0.pdf [4]

Now the most controversial part of this commission was the committee that handled amnesty. The amnesty program only provided immunity for those who conducted a violation of humans rights, those violations had to have occurred between 1960 and 1994, it had to originate from a political perspective, had to admit fault (even in the case of self-defense) and had to provide full disclosure (all relevant information.)

In order for it to be considered political, the individual asking for amnesty must be a member of one of the political parties at the time, and the committee also had to determine whether or not it was committed on behalf of the political party. The act had to be ‘proportional’ to its political objective.

If these criterion were met then the individual asking for amnesty would be granted a pardon. Any legal proceedings pertaining to that individual would be terminated, and they would be released if they were previously incarcerated. Furthermore, any criminal record would be erased and any criminal or civic liability would be removed. But, any civil judgements that had already been granted would not be reversed (money would not have to be given back.) [3]

Given that apartheid was and still is a sensitive topic, it is clear why some individuals would find amnesty for those perpetrators as an atrocious act of injustice.

Over 7,000 people applied for amnesty and 849 individuals were granted immunity. Although the report recommended prosecution for those not granted immunity, no such act was performed after the publication of the report.

A Truth Commission would truly be necessary in every country. It is in my opinion, too late to set up a Truth Commission after atrocities and mass murders have occurred. It is safe to say that there are human rights violations all over the world, whether it be in a Third World country or a developed western nation.

The Truth Commission is simply a committee that holds powerful people and organizations accountable for their actions. No one group was larger than the TRC in South Africa, and a committee like the TRC should be implemented in every country so that it’s people are protected.

It is too often and evident that our country and regions are run by people who do not have our best interests at heart. And when such things are exposed, those individuals or corporations should be held accountable. It is not acceptable for rules to apply to some people and not others. The world is not a game where rules are altered for those in a ‘higher’ place. Everyone should be held to the same standard; if rules are broken, and basic human rights are violated, they should ALL be punished equally.

[1] http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/truth-and-reconciliation-commission-trc

[2] http://www.usip.org/publications/truth-commission-south-africa

[3] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/south_african_truth_commission

[4] http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/trc_0.pdf

Iran to drop the use of US dollar

On a January 29 television interview, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor, Valiollah Seif, announced that in the coming fiscal year, March 21st, Iran would no longer use the US dollar in its official financial and foreign exchange reports. [1]

In a report by the Financial Tribune (the first Iranian-English economic daily), Seif, who is also the head of the Money and Credit council, declared that Iran would convert to a currency that is more suitable for their trade deals.

Iran conducts the majority of its trades with China, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates. [2] The CBI hinted that Iran would either use the Euro, or a ‘basket of currencies in all official financial and foreign exchange reports.’

The move to switch to another currency has been in the works since 2016, but some speculate that Trump’s ban on seven Muslim-majority countries for at least 90 days (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) sped up this process. [3]

In response to Trump’s ban, Iran has announced that it will stop issuing Visas to US citizens. [4]

In a hidden retaliation, Congress passed a bill that authorized the US Armed Forces to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. [5] Thereby, justifying the use of force and invasion into Iran so long as Congress assumes Iran is stockpiling nuclear weapons. This is an eerily similar statement to when George W. Bush invaded Iraq looking for ‘weapons of mass destruction.’

A look back into history will reveal that anytime a country’s leader has attempted to shift away from the US dollar, their countries have been invaded and ransacked. From Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to Saddam Hussein of Iraq, all these countries have been demolished and outright bombed since their stray from the United States’ currency.

Only time will tell if this match-up between Iran and the US will be any different.

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2017/01/30/iran-to-ditch-dollar/#3f88974a676d

[3] http://thefreethoughtproject.com/iran-dollar-trump-war/

[4] http://wearechange.org/iran-drop-us-dollar-response-trumps-travel-ban/

[5] https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-joint-resolution/10

Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

“There are times when they bite their tongues or keep their mouths shut because to reveal it would lose a relationship, or a job, or a career. Then you said, but there comes a time when the level of wrongness or inhumanity is so great that you have to cross over that line.” – Daniel Ellsberg

The first Edward Snowden was Daniel Ellsberg.

Daniel Ellsberg was a former RAND (California Think Tank) and Pentagon employee. After volunteering for the US Marine Corps and then becoming a platoon leader, he finished his graduate studies at Harvard and earned his Ph.D. [1]

Ellsberg’s involvement in the Pentagon and subsequently the Vietnam war was more than just nominal. In 1950, he visited South Vietnam with a group of researchers to look at alternative, non-nuclear assault options. In August of 1964, he began working for the Defense Department as an assistant to John McNaughton. [2]

His expertise in crisis decision-making and of nuclear weapons gave him access to secure, top-secret documents.

One of these classified documents was the Pentagon Papers, formerly known as the History of US decision making in Vietnam. This document spanned over 7000 pages and was contained in 47 volumes. [1]

After reading the Pentagon Papers, he decided to leak it to the American public in order to bring about an end to  US involvement in Vietnam.

Ellsberg realized that American involvement in Saigon was not justified, and that the deaths of thousands of Vietnamese  and Americans were a result of mass murders. He wanted to expose President Nixon’s lies and reveal to the American public that they were endlessly dumping money, resources and lives into an ‘unwinnable war.’ [1]

In a time when Wikileaks was not yet present, and social/digital media still yet to be born, his dissemination of classified information was fraught with difficulty. Ellsberg along with his anti-war friend, Anthony Russo, had to manually photocopy the 7,000 page document.

After leaking the document to the New York Times, he was forced into hiding where he later turned himself in to the FBI on espionage charges.

These charges were later dropped citing ‘a gross misconduct by the government’ [1] after a Supreme Court Judge, William Byrne, revealed that three Cuban-American Bay of Pigs veterans had broken into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office in order to obtain files that would smear his name and denounce his credibility.

His truly genuine patriotic act was rewarded by the subsequent end of US involvement in Vietnam and the resignation of President Nixon.

Most recently, in 2014, Ellsberg has gone on to compliment the work of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. [3]

[1] http://law2.umkc.edu/Faculty/projects/ftrials/ellsberg/ellsbergaccount.html

[2] http://www.pbs.org/pov/mostdangerousman/timeline/

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/daniel-ellsberg-snowden-honored-his-oath-better-than-anyone-in-the-nsa/375031/

[4] http://www.pbs.org/pov/mostdangerousman/the-penagon-papers-and-wikileaks/

Addiction in Canada

Addiction and the war on drugs has long been a problem in countries all over the world, regardless of status: third world, developed, developing, etc. But aside from the fact that the term ‘addiction’ is general and vague, what can we, as society, do to help those who are ‘addicted’ and how do we combat that?

Google defines “addicted” as ‘physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.’ Firstly, anyone can practically be addicted to anything. An avid basketball player can be addicted to playing basketball to the extent where his knees or ankles can be hurting, thus creating an ‘adverse effect.’ An obese man can be addicted to cheeseburgers thus leading to the adverse effect of being morbidly obese. A businesswoman can be addicted to caffeine simply because she relies on 3 cups of black coffee a day to function. So why is it that an addiction to food, sports, television or coffee is okay but another arbitrary substance defined by the government is not?

Let’s disregard the definition of addiction and deal with how we HANDLE addiction. Well, addiction is simply a dependence on something that causes negative effects. So how can we deal with these adverse effects whilst helping the individual wean off that substance?

It’s clear that mass incarceration doesn’t work since drug users (or ‘abusers’) have not shown a significant decline in Canada since Health Canada conducted a study in 2004. [1] Health Canada surveyed Canadians on cannabis, cocaine/crack, heroin, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, and ecstasy in 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. The study illustrates that since the war on drugs, there has not been a significant drop in drug users. In fact, the number of drug users has basically stayed the same!

Furthermore, according to the Government of Canada website, 11 per cent of Canadians reported using 1 out of the 6 elicit drugs (cannabis, cocaine or crack, speed, ecstasy, hallucinogens or heroin) in 2012 within that year. The same study was conducted in 2013 and once again, 11 per cent of Canadians (or 2.9 million Canadians) reported using 1 out of the 6 elicit drugs. [2]

So what does work?

Montreal has begun implementing safe injection sites where drug users can visit the site to use their drugs in a safe manner. In 2016, Montreal has pledged to invest 12 million dollars to fund these open injection sites. [3]

Open injection sites or supervised injection sites are areas where drug addicts can go to ‘shoot up’ in a safe manner. They are guaranteed clean needles and a place free from judgement and prosecution. They are given doses that are safe thus preventing overdoses, and they can be sure that they are truly getting what they ask for (ie. fentanyl instead of heroin [4])

If in the unfortunate event that an overdose does occur, staff and other medical personnel are present in order to prevent deaths.

Moreover, in countries such as Portugal where all drugs have been legalized (ala libertarianism) for at least 14 years and open injection sites are implemented, there has been a SIGNIFICANT decrease in drug users of all drugs. [5] Moreover, the amount of cases involving HIV and AIDS has severely declined due to open injection sites offering clean needles and users not having to share needles.

14 Years After Decriminalizing All Drugs, Here's What Portugal Looks Like

Now I am not condoning the legalization of ALL drugs (although it has shown to be effective in some countries) but I am an advocate of open injection sites. Instead of shunning those who need our help and throwing them into jail cells, we should provide them with the necessary tools to get through their addiction. Quitting anything cold turkey is hard enough (whether it be smoking, drinking, or even eating healthier foods) and it becomes that much more difficult when society chooses to simply abandon you.

[1] http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/drugs-drogues/stat/_2011/summary-sommaire-eng.php

[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/canadian-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/2013-summary.html

[3] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-to-invest-12m-in-safe-injection-sites-1.3783424

[4] http://www.cpha.ca/en/about/digest/40-2/5.aspx

[5] https://mic.com/articles/110344/14-years-after-portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-here-s-what-s-happening#.9iCFWIDHg

Right under our noses

On December 8, 1999, a unanimous decision was reached between 12 jurors (6 black and 6 white) that the United States government was complicit in the assassination of Martin Luther King.

It was the only trial performed on Dr.King’s death and to this day no one and no organizations/corporations have been held accountable for these actions. According to author and journalist, James Douglass: “I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial’s second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, ‘Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson’s trial was the trial of the century. Clinton’s trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who’s here?’ ”

The case was between King’s family and longtime friend and lawyer, William F. Pepper, vs Jowers and other unknown co-conspirators. After a mere ONE hour of deliberation (when some cases require days as opposed to hours to reach a verdict), the jurors of the Memphis, Tennessee court concluded that Dr. King was assassinated by a conspiracy that involved agencies of the US government.

Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

Now this is not a post on conspiracy theories inv0lving the martyrdom of Dr.King. This is  an objective look on the death of Martin Luther King and what conspired after his murder.

It is clear that Dr.King fought for equality and justice and at the time of his death (April 4, 1968) he had already made enemies in high places who didn’t agree with his philosophies and as a result, wanted him gone.

The King family believes the government’s motivation to murder Dr. King was to prevent his imminent camp-in/Occupy at Washington, D.C. until the Vietnam War was ended and those resources directed to end poverty and invest in US hard and soft infrastructure.” [1]

Moreover, it is factual that Dr.King was usually guarded by police and security guards who were not present an hour before his death. [1] It is also factual that Dr.King’s room was moved from a more secure first floor room to a balcony room. [1] And even more importantly, the bullet that killed Dr.King did not match that of the rifle that was shown in court.[1]

Now, all these facts can be argued away by a staunch opposer who can simply say it is a ‘mere coincidence.’ But the fact of the matter is that the King family did NOT sue the suspected killer, rather they filed a lawsuit against Loyd Jowers and other unknown entities.

Jowers was the former owner of a Memphis bar and grill. This bar and grill opened out onto the bushes facing the Lorraine motel where Dr.King was shot. Since then, the shrubs and bushes have been removed to erase the possibility of potentially hiding a sniper. [1]

Furthermore, James Early Ray, the suspected killer of Dr.King was never tried in court. He plead guilty in order to avoid a death penalty but his only act was bringing the rifle to the Memphis bar and grill owned by Jowers. When he later found out that he was the sole suspect charged with the murder of Dr.King, he recanted his guilty plea and asked for a trial, but to no avail. [4]

Jowers and the US government were eventually found guilty of conspiring to kill Dr.King but due to the ‘sovereign immunity’ that the US government obtains it makes it impossible to hold US intelligence agencies accountable in a criminal court. To hold such agencies accountable would require the help of the federal courts who wanted no part in indicting themselves.

Therefore, in the civil court, Jowers as well as the City of Memphis, the State of Tennessee and the United States of America were complicit in the conspiracy to murder Dr.King.

[1] http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/01/martin-luther-king-assassinated-us-govt-king-family-civil-trial-verdict.html

[2] https://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/Unspeakable/MLKconExp.html

[3] http://www.thekingcenter.org/civil-case-king-family-versus-jowers

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2EE64XHcnI

Torn

As a recent graduate with a healthy (or actually, unhealthy) amount of student loans piling up, finding a full-time job, in media, with some semblance of financial security is damn near impossible.

Going to job interview after job interview, I’ve come to realize that it’s either; change who you are to fit the city (and subsequently the world), or stick with your integrity and principles and be broke.

Aside from the fact that no one wants to hire a journalist who cares about objectivity and holding people and corporations accountable; entering a giant, bustling city such as downtown Toronto really changes one’s perspective on life and the outlook on their futures.

As I head downtown to my newest job interview located at no more than a 5 minute walk from Union station, I am inundated with the city, it’s people, the scenery, and the stature that comes with it all. Aesthetic figures are walking everywhere in their business suits or blouses and the architecture along with the skyline is simply outstanding. Combine that with the hustle bustle of the city and it really captures an urban kid’s attention.

I can’t help but want to be a part of this atmosphere; to join this game where everyone has to dress up and rush to work at the same time, and leave for home at the same time. Go to lunch with a bunch of suits and ride in Tesla’s or Mustangs. To climb the ‘corporate ladder’ and be able to one day sit at the ‘big kids” table. To be able to join the suits on the streets and be invited to those exclusive, esoteric meetings/parties. I long for the city but hate it’s philosophy.

It’s like the popular girls in the movie Mean Girls, you absolutely hate what those girls stand for (materialistic, shallow and appearance-oriented) but when they invite you to a party or into their posse, you can’t help but jump at the opportunity.

And that’s exactly how I feel when I go downtown. I hate everything that the city stands for: conformity, materialism, capitalism, and the idea that appearances rule everything. But when I enter into the city for a job interview, I can’t help but wish and hope that the firm wants me just as bad as I want to be a part of them.

It’s a vicious duality between maintaining character and making a living. Should I sacrifice my beliefs and values to enter a firm that will pay me a decent wage? Or should I stick by my philosophies and hope that I encounter a firm or CEO that embraces what I believe in?

All my life I have railed against those who are fake, or lack integrity. But is this what the next stage of life has to offer? The balance between survival and integrity? From Thomas More to fictional characters like Ned Stark, should I die for my cause or conform to live another day?

I am truly torn as to what I have to do, and maybe someone out there is dealing with the same issues that I am. How do YOU deal with this contradictory dilemma? And what are your thoughts on how I should respond? Should I even aspire to be like Thomas More and Ned Stark, martyrs of their beliefs?

 

Critical mass

The definition of critical mass is: ‘the minimum size or amount of something required to start or maintain a venture.’ Basically, that means that critical mass is the minimal amount of material needed to ‘get the ball rolling’ or to get things started.It is the point in which you cross the boundary into something else. For instance, the Nth drop of water that causes the pail to overflow would be the critical mass. Thus, in that scenario, N would be the critical mass.

Another example; the critical mass of the formation of a new planet might be 800 protons. This means that once the ball of gas accumulates 800 protons, then the formation of a brand new planet will begin.Therefore, 800 protons is the critical mass needed to create a new planet.

But what is the critical mass of awareness? Or the critical mass of awakening? How many people need to be ‘informed’ or become ‘enlightened’ until things are done and action is  taken?

This seems to be the premise that Anonymous (prominent hacker group) is taking. Their goal is to reach a critical mass of information where people no longer sit idle at home and actively try to fight for equality and REAL justice. Anonymous’ goal is to spread their message to enough people so that critical mass can be attained.

It is pretty evident that as taxpayers, we do not know everything that we are funding. Time and time again, governments have claimed to own ‘classified information’ which cannot be disclosed to the public, or information ‘sensitive to national security’ that necessarily needs to be kept hidden from the public.

But how is it possible that we pay and fund for everything that ‘they’ are doing but we don’t get to know what it IS that they are doing? Furthermore, history has shown us that our leaders and governors have blatantly lied to the masses in order to achieve their own ends. For instance, the 43rd US president, George W. Bush, claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when in fact they did not. The United States merely invaded Iraq for the purpose of oil and to fulfill the bankers’ wants.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg, what about all of the other things that aren’t deemed ‘classified information’ or instead has been deleted by dirty politicians and their minions? (Ahem* Hillary Clinton…)

The fact is, we know nothing about the government that runs us, and we know even less about who runs the government. So at what point do we, as a population, hit a critical mass of awareness? Being aware that we are held back from certain information, and that there is a specific sect of people who look down upon us and think they can do as they please.

And when this critical mass does occur: what will happen? Will massive protests erupt, or will we continue to stand idly by? Will we gather arms and start a violent revolution or will we simply accept our fate as lesser beings? And does it necessarily dictate that a critical mass has to be violent?

If critical mass includes army veterans and police officers, then most certainly a critical mass of awakening need not be brutal. These individuals will simply stop doing their superiors’ biddings and realize the morality and ethics in their actions.

Is it really worth it to bomb a country and kill innocent people for a pay cheque? Can we truly be paid to turn a blind eye to immoral and unethical acts? Only time will tell, but history never lies.

 

What is Agenda 21?

Kafkaesque: characteristic or reminiscent of the oppressive or nightmarish qualities of Franz Kafka’s fictional world.

The Trial by Franz Kafka is a classic that showcases a man, Joseph K., who is bombarded by legal issues and is summoned to court without any cause or reason. When he appears in court, there is no charge given or reason as to why the warders have summoned him. He is allowed to walk ‘freely’ but he bears the risk of being apprehended at any time. Throughout the book, Joseph battles and struggles with the invisible and oppressive law.

Agenda 21 implemented by the United Nations is precisely what Franz Kafka predicted and feared. The UN’s website defines Agenda 21 as a “comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments and major groups, in every area in which human impacts on the environment.” [1]

Essentially, this plan hopes to control ‘every area’ in which humans are involved with the environment…..that’s every country, every city, every place that technology has touched! This sounds eerily similar to a One World Government and population control…

Although portrayed as an effort to be ‘environmentally friendly’, this plan gives governments the power to take control of all private land and then make all decisions in regards to the acquired land. It centralizes the power, authority  and ownership of the land and it also takes away all property rights of an individual private owner and instead redistributes it in an effort to ‘spread the wealth.’

This action is justified in the eyes of the UN since it is based on the assumption that most land owners are not good stewards of the Earth and do not tend to their land. They are saying that the needs of the plenty outweigh the needs of the few, but they (the decision-makers, the puppeteers, the ‘One-Percenters’) decide what these needs are and who gets the redistributed wealth.

This is a complete contrast to Libertarianism; a branch of political philosophy that states that all individuals should be given the right to make their own decisions. The government or state does not know what is best for you and as such should not be tasked with making decisions for you. [2]

But back to Agenda 21, (and its eerie similarities to George Orwell’s 1984) and how it can potentially affect Canadians. Beyond the fact that Canada is on the list of nations that have attended and agreed to the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (Agenda 21), Canada is also one of the ‘richer’ countries expected to share their wealth with the poorer countries.

At first glance being ‘greener’ and helping bridge income inequality is a great thing, but should we really trust more of our hard earned money and something even more valuable: land, to the government? It’s not as if the governments on that list have never dealt with issues of corruption before… (Brazil [3], Egypt [4], Mexico [5], Germany [6] and Turkey [7] just to name a few.)

But aside from the potential fear of outright theft and money being shipped to offshore accounts (Panama Papers [8]), we are giving the state ultimate authority in  decision-making and what we can or cannot do. The PDF file on Agenda 21 on the United Nations’ website clearly reads, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” What this means is that the implementation of Agenda 21 will have authorities making decisions for us in order to preserve the needs and rights of the future generations. They are going to tell us what we can do with our land, where we go, where we live, and what we drive. Agenda 21 is an attempt to make our decisions for us and to take away our freedoms.

This plan is already underway and most of us have probably never even paid it any mind. More and more condos are being developed because Agenda 21 wants to reorganize cities. It’s plan is to place everyone into ‘high-density’ areas and leave other areas inaccessible to humans. They want people in the city, closer to their workplaces, as opposed to out of the city requiring a 2-shour commute to get to work. Their plan is essentially one of population control: to move people into one concentrated area and leave other parts off-limit.

Previously, cities and communities have been built so that parks, plazas and strip malls are built inside a community. These gathering areas are built in the center of communities so that people come together as a community; as a group. They meet in the middle to debate, communicate and enjoy a sense of companionship. Nowadays, big shopping centres and malls are built outside of communities, forcing residents to leave and abandon this idea of a community.

Agenda 21 is another method for Globalists to achieve a One World Government and to have everyone in line and conforming. It is our duty as citizens to be aware and informed but even more importantly, it is our duty as human beings to help one another and come closer to equality.

[1] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Agenda21.pdf

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGAO100hYcQ

[3] https://theintercept.com/2016/11/25/in-brazil-major-new-corruption-scandals-engulf-the-faction-that-impeached-dilma/

[4] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-food-minister-idUSKCN1101IT

[5] https://www.opencanada.org/features/corruption-mexico-elephant-north-american-table/

[6] https://www.hertie-school.org/blog/corruption-in-germany-what-does-the-volkswagen-story-tell-us/

[7] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/06/turkey-akp-abandons-fighting-corruption.html

[8] https://panamapapers.icij.org/

 

 

No privacy at borders

As privacy evolves into an everlasting issue in this technologically efficient age, it is important for journalists and citizens alike to recognize these issues and to safeguard themselves from these potential threats.

After whistle blower, Edward Snowden, blew the lid off the NSA spying tactics [1], many digital users have become aware of their electronic footprint as well as cyber security. But what precautions can we take when we decide to visit another country and have our bags and luggage filtered through?

Aside from those with diplomatic immunity, there is practically no rights to privacy when we decide to enter into the United States. [2]

According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Privacy Impact Assessment for the Border Searches of Electronic Devices, any citizen or visitor of the United States will be subject to any level of scrutiny even without probable cause. [3]

The PDF file clearly reads, ‘both the exam and search may be conducted without a warrant and without suspicion.’ This means that the execution of a secondary examination (after the preliminary check where they glance at your passport) is completely up to US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers and whatever software or algorithm they may be using at the time (more on this later.) Basically, it is up to CBP officers if they want to search you or not.

The manifesto is so broad that Border Officials can interpret it in such a way that any electronic device can be searched and read. And accompanied with the authorization of a senior official or an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent; it  can also be copied without the knowledge of the owner and seized.

When CBP officers decide to check your electronic device, they can arbitrarily choose what they want to see and they can read and copy whatever they choose. More ‘Big Brother-esque’ is the ability for them to hide what they have copied. According to the same Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document: ‘there is no specific receipt given to the traveler if the contents of the device are detained for further review, but the device is returned to the individual.’

This means that border officials can not only randomly search you but they can also seize and copy your electronic files without you knowing!

A safety net that digital users can enforce is to lock their phones and laptops with a password or pin and to encrypt the contents of the device. But even with these precautions, a persistent CBP officer can still override these safety measure to read your emails.

Now it is intuitive for homeland security that visitors be checked and ensured that they are entering the country for positive measures and not nefarious means. But where does one draw the line? With databases and algorithms that spew out random names, anyone can be seen as a ‘flight risk’ even when they are not. [4] Some of these algorithms simply place you under a flight risk just because you have the same name as a suspected terrorist.

Although it is of utmost importance to ensure the safety of a country and its citizens, it is also important to ensure that our individual rights are maintained and that the State does not expand and broaden its rules to take away these rights.

For more information on cyber security visit https://theintercept.com/2015/11/12/edward-snowden-explains-how-to-reclaim-your-privacy/

[1] https://snowdenarchive.cjfe.org/greenstone/cgi-bin/library.cgi?e=q-00100-00—off-0snowden1–00-2—-0-10-0—0—0direct-10-and%2cand%2cand-TE%2cTT%2cDE%2cSU–4–NSA%2c%2c%2c—–0-1l–00-en-50—50-about-TE%3a%28NSA%29–01-3-1-00-00–4–0–0-0-01-10-0utfZz-8-00&a=p&p=about

[2] https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/apr/09/you-have-no-right-electronic-privacy-when-you-cros/

[3] https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_cbp_laptop.pdf

[4] https://news.vice.com/article/this-six-year-old-canadian-has-been-flagged-a-flight-security-risk-since-he-was-a-baby

‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’

As millennials, we have regularly heard the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and there is certainly truth to that saying. It is not feasible for one person to know absolutely everything, so he or she has to have allies and comrades that can fill in those weaknesses. For example, you may be the greatest theoretical physicist in the world but when your roof collapses, you are still going to need to know a roofer (assuming this physicist is lacking in the ‘construction’ attributes.) And there are certainly situations where word of mouth and reputation trumps something on a piece of paper; e.g. an advertisement or resume.

But this ultimately leads us down a vicious, cyclical rabbit hole; we have people who enter into positions of power not based on merit but based on who they know. And as a result, those successors who have come into power will continue to employ that method in order to keep themselves and their allies in power.

So as a recent graduate who is looking for full-time work, I am bombarded with signs and notions that tell me to compromise my values and beliefs and to conform to society’s standards of myself. If everyone is putting on a mask to appease their bosses, should I conform and do the same? If everyone is shape-shifting (not akin to David Icke’s reptilian overlords) should I do the same for survival?

Ultimately, it is a conflict of morals; should I succumb and become one of the masses or stand up and risk persecution? Should I focus on click-bait to get a job in mainstream media and make a living or stick with objective journalism and risk poverty? Throughout history, there have been very few REAL people. Individuals who have integrity, who don’t stray from their cause  (don’t ‘sellout’) and do their jobs truthfully. Those who would rather die than to compromise their morals and values as a person. Martyrs to their principles if you will.

The list is short but some of these individuals include John F. Kennedy, Tupac, Thomas More, and maybe even Ned Stark if we’re counting fictional characters. A unique group but all bound by one element; integrity. John F. Kennedy performed his duty as a president by notifying the American public of the fraud performed by the Federal Reserve. Tupac elicited his values by utilizing the  medium of rap to awaken and enlighten the masses. Thomas More stood his ground and opposed the King’s separation from the Catholic church. These individuals are REAL because even faced with death, they did not compromise their integrity and philosophies. They were willing to die for their cause and they never ‘sold out.’

So in a capitalist society where money makes the world go ’round; do you conform and play the game or do you stand up to reveal the wrongdoings?