With smoke dominating the sky, lifeless bodies scattered about, and terrified people fleeing a massive heap of rumble, America will never forget one of the most destructive attacks on our country. The Oklahoma City bombing of a fully occupied federal building took the lives of 168 Americans, making it the deadliest case of domestic terrorism. This was indicative of the ever-growing power of the militia movement – groups of militants set out to end what they saw as an unjust government. After several years of growth in the 1990s, the militias began losing power and for the past decade they have nearly disappeared. However, they are returning and with greater strength than ever.
The days of simply traveling to another country are gone. With ever-growing surveillance, suspicion of wrongdoing is no longer a requirement for invasive searching. When traveling to other countries, including Canada, be prepared to have your laptop searched. This is now common practice for border security officials. Pending litigation, the government’s ability to search your files may be suspended. However, the legality procedure has prevailed for several years and is showing signs of increasing domination.
The startling pictures of naked prisoners piled on top of one another at Abu Ghraib prison was a frequently seen image on the news. After investigation, seven soldiers and two officers were convicted on charges of cruel and abusive interrogation techniques. While pictures provide visible evidence of these allegations, it remains unclear as to who, if anyone, ordered this type of unlawful behavior. However, the recent release of memos ordering harsh interrogation techniques by former President Bush shed light onto the reality of the situation.
The sweet taste of chocolate is something we probably all enjoy once in awhile, but chocolate is the cause of cruel and abusive treatment to one of the world’s most vulnerable populations. While child labor has been around since the dawn of civilization, the use of young labor is becoming an increasing problem in countries that harvest cocoa. Considering that chocolate is one of our most satisfying pleasures, cocoa is in high demand – and cheap labor is vital for maintaining low production costs for struggling farmers.
As most of us are aware, much of US security and intelligence data comes from satellites orbiting the earth. With growing suspicion of countries possessing nuclear weaponry, celestial technology has seen major innovation in recent years. On Tuesday, President Obama approved a bill calling for the purchase of multimillion-dollar commercial imagery technology, including several satellites with unprecedented abilities. Most of the advancements in satellite spying have been delayed since 2005 and the Obama administration is now working to reinvigorate the program and bring intelligence to a new level.
I’m sure that everyone has some mention of environmental rights in recent years. With growing concern for environmental protection, many have begun to adapt their lifestyles to limit damage to the earth. From hybrid vehicles to wind power, there is an ever-increasing focus on protecting the environment and limiting the pollution emitted by humankind. Our own Cornell University Sustainability Coordinator is in the process of developing initiatives to make the campus environmentally friendly.
At some point, we have all found pleasure in the crude humor of comedies or sitcoms, but the FCC has decided that we should have this privilege limited. While profanity has become an integrated part of everyday life, most agree that there are situations where this form of freedom of speech is inappropriate. However, limiting the ability of broadcasters to air profanity on television enters into dangerous territory, which is likely to bring protest from those who value the American tradition of free speech.
With an ever-growing rate of immigrants entering the United States, detention centers are quickly filling up. Last year, more than 300,000 people were held for administrative purposes, rather than for punitive or criminal reasons. Under international law, all detainees are eligible for healthcare and must receive necessary medical care to ensure an individual’s life is not at risk. While required, the majority of detainees receive little if any medical care. In considering that some have died because of this maltreatment, the neglect may have an underlying motive to discourage immigration.
While most take for granted obtaining a high school education without cost, some are deprived of this opportunity. In Mississippi, children attending alternative schools face abusive treatment and fail to receive an adequate education regardless of the fact that they are among the country’s most vulnerable population. Most of the children attending alternative schools have special needs and are African Americans, neither of which are justifiable reasons for mistreatment or discriminatory action.
Each day millions of people experience some form of discrimination solely because of their skin color. Last week, the U.S. took direct action against racism by announcing its decision to become part of the Durban Review. While negotiations are still underway, the U.S. will likely assist with reducing racism in countries all over the world. This is a major step toward eliminating racial discrimination, but will simply showing support be enough to stop such a wide-spread practice of many cultures?