Berkeley Political Review Fall 2015

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Berkeley Political Review






The Women Issue


Letter from the Editor


Hello Reader,

The issue of BPR you hold in your hands strives to explore the issues and status of women today. There are some terrific articles – not limited to women – shedding light on issues as diverse as the new wave of abortion restrictions and California’s equal pay bill to cyberwarfare with China. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts on the benefits of greater inclusivity.


In an earlier stage of our development most human groups held to a tribal ethic. Members of the tribe were protected, but people of other tribes could be robbed or killed as one pleased. Gradually the circle of protection expanded, but as recently as 100 years ago in the USA we did not include women. Women were not allowed to shape public discourse through voting, and as such were subject to conditions outside of their control– they had no voice to impact society.


On a societal level this behavior of relegating entire sections of the population – in the case of woman, half the population – to inferior positions, independent of merit has never made sense to me. On a firm level, for example, Alan Greenspan (later a chairman for the Federal Reserve) ran an economic consulting company in the 1960s that primarily hired female economists. He explained to the New York Times: “I always valued men and women equally, and I found that because others did not, good women economists were cheaper than men.” Barring ethical considerations, Greenspan’s behavior conferred a competitive advantage – he was capitalizing on the available talent pool, profitably exploiting an economic niche. To take advantage of the economic profit, other firms should have hired more woman economists and over time due to the nature of a competitive market income inequality between genders should disappear.


Despite progress in recent decades, labor markets worldwide are still divided on gender lines. According to the IMF, female labor force participation rates have consistently remained lower than male participation, women account for most unpaid work, and when women are employed in paid work, they are overrepresented in the informal sector and among the poor and face wage differentials compared to their male colleagues. The challenges of growth, job creation, and inclusion are inextricably intertwined. In aging economies, for example, higher female labor force participation can boost growth by attenuating the impact of the “silver wave” of retirement. In developing economies, more economic opportunity for women can contribute to higher levels of school enrollment for girls creating a cycle of increased productivity and economic growth. My overall point is: there are many problems that we face today. We could benefit from additional perspective, more voices proposing solutions. We must, in other words, work on expanding our circle of ethics to include women more fully. To make an addendum to Robert Browning’s wonderful poem, “A woman’s grasp should exceed her grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” I hope you enjoy this issue of BPR. Sincerely,

Nikhil KotechChief Editor-in-Chief

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR Griffin Potrock EDITORS EMERITUS Matthew Symonds Elena Kempf Niku Jafarnia Hinh Tran Jeremy Pilaar STAFF Writers: Alexander Ye, Ankur Mahesh, Anton Wideroth, Catherine Chang, Cathrine Petersen, Claire Kaufman, Dahlia Peterson, Divyra Vijay, Dosbal Aibyek, Griff Potrock, Haruka Senju, Jay Jug, JJ Kim, Kevin Klyman, Kevin Yao, Khairuldoon Al Makhzoomi, Kush Berry, Lauren Hadley, Lilac Peterson, Maggie Deng, Manas Agarwal, Mariam El Magrissy, Omar Mohamed, Rea Savla, Tianlang Gao, Vishal Narayanswamy, Yilun Cheng, Yixuan Zheng, Yoojin Shin Design and Business: Ananya Sreekanth, Bhaavya Sinha, Chloe Feng, Courtney Brousseau, Dave Bengardi, David Tao, Dishary Hossain, Jeffrey Wirjo, Jessica Son, Kazumi Iwase, Mariam El Magrissy, Nathan Black, Yash Sanghrajka

ASUC sponsored. The content of this publication does not reflect the view of the University of California, Berkeley or the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). Advertisements appearing in the Berkeley Political Review reflect the views of the advertisers only, and are not an expression of the editorial opinion or views of the staff.


Berkeley Political Review Volume XVI, No. 1 / Fall 2015

Catherine Chang


Divya Vijay


Dosbal Aibyek


Lauren Hadley


Cathrine Petersen


Vishal Narayanaswamy


Manas Agrawal


Maggie Deng


Griff Potrock


Rea Savla


Jay Jung


Claire Kaufman


Lilac Peterson


Khairuldeen Al Makhzoomi


Yoojin Shin


Kush Berry


Anton Wideroth


Yixuan Zheng


JJ Kim


Tianlang Gao


CALIFORNIA Underground Construction The construction industry. The Real Price of Labor Humans are becoming one of the world’s most profitable commodities. Sharing Is Not Always Caring The other side of the Sharing Economy. Jean Fuller and the Battle for Political Equality Jean Fuller becomes America’s first female senate leader. UNITED STATES The Crack in Voting Equality How a Los Angeleas cocaine dealer multiplied the voting power of a rural Illinois community. COVER STORY: After Roe The new wave of abortion restrictions. Low Vaccine Rates How our past is catching up to us. The Legacy of American Eugenics How the US can provide redress to its eugenics victims. The Grim Reaper America’s drone program is plagued with issues. WORLD Trapped in Tradition’s Prison Why India Is Not Ready to Criminalize Marital Rape. Breaking the Chains of Brazilian Slavery How Brazilian corporations exploit the poor. Lessons From the School of Trumpian Politics in Venezuela How the Venezuelan-Colombian border conflict has escalated into a major ethnic exodus. The Plight of Indonesian Domestic Workers in Hong Kong How employment laws silence the vulnerable. Iraqi National Reconciliation A Way to Tackle the Islamic State. OPINION The Silent Plea of America’s Working Mothers A Case for Paid Maternity Leave. A Big Deal How the Trans Pacific Partnership will harm ordinary people all over the Pacific Rim. Picket Signs Over Gavels Sweden’s Foreign Minister unstrategically attacks Saudi Arabia’s judicial system. Putting a Price on Life The case for government to regulate costs of healthcare procedures. Isle Have What She’s Having Territorial Tensions Between Japan and South Korea. The Art of Unapologizing Why Japan’s apologetic gestures to “comfort women” are not enough.

Cover design by Haruko Ayabe. Source: Associated Press.



Underground Construction THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY


magine the underground. Dirt and rocks form dark tunnels. All activity is below the surface—subterranean. The underground is hidden, furtive, and secretive. Now imagine underground economic activity. Literally, it may be exchanges that take place below the ground, unseen and undocumented. Specifically in the context of California, it refers to, according to the state’s Board of Equalization, “people who steal, make counterfeit products, engage in human trafficking, and hide what they owe in taxes.” A significant sector of this underground economy is construction work. According to the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on public policy, California’s construction industry is worth $152 billion and employs 865,000 construction workers. A 2014 study done by the organization shows that the number of construction workers entering California’s underground economy has increased, especially over the past couple of decades. Since 1972, the percentage of those in the underground construction industry has increased by 400 percent. In 2011, 104,100 construction workers were unreported by their employers, while 39,800 were misclassified as independent contractors, making up a total of 143,900 construction workers entering the underground economy that year. Today, one out of six construction workers is estimated to have fallen into the underground economy. One cause of current, ongoing increases in the number of construction workers participating in the underground economy certainly lies in the Great Recession. Even before the Great Recession, California’s unemployment rate was above the national rate—in fact, because the state’s population has grown faster than the rate at which the state’s economy generates jobs, California’s rate of unemployment has been higher than the national rate for over 20 years. The Great Recession heightened competition for these jobs as the construction industry experienced the most contraction. The recent housing market slump contributed to great decreases in the construction of new residential housing. Many jobs in the formal construction industry were lost—and onethird still have not been recovered, incentivizing construction workers to enter the underground economy. However, economic causes also have economic consequences. While economic recessions have perpetuated declines in the construction industry, economic dynamics are also impacted by changes in the underground economy. “Under the table” cash transfers from employers to construction workers of the underground economy are often not reported on tax forms. According to the Economic Roundtable study, both the federal and 3 | Berkeley Political Review


state governments have lost hundreds of millions of dollars because of this. These lost tax revenues take away from funding of public services and programs such as unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. This is not all. These activities allow those in the informal economy to “have an illegal, unfair advantage over honest businesses” by offering construction services at lower prices. As a whole, this type of action impacts the entire construction sector and state economy. Social consequences have also arisen. First, as previously mentioned, a bulk of construction workers participating in the underground economy is not reported by their employers. An increase in workers participating in the underground construction industry means more workers are likely to be without proper workers’ insurance and are more vulnerable to compensation violations. Second, in efforts to maintain their livelihoods and to rise out of poverty, construction workers join the ranks of the underground and take jobs they might not be able to find in the legitimate economy. These workers take the work of those above ground, affecting others’ families and lives. Furthermore, these construction workers who engage in activity within the underground realm earn less—they make only 50 to 60 percent of what those in the formal sector do. In contrast to their initial goals, construction workers who enter the informal economy may very well remain in poverty, which may lead to familial stress or interpersonal conflicts. In the past, the construction industry may have been seen as a way to move up the social ladder. Today, for those participating in the underground construction industry, it is not necessarily so. Some work in government is already being done to assist workers participating in the underground economy. Numerous state organizations have continued to protect workers and combat activities of the underground economy. One such organization, the Employment Enforcement Task Force (EETF), works with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to regulate the California’s construction industry. In 2014, the California Governor signed off on legislation to aid victims of the underground economy by “expedit[ing] hearings for injured employees of employers that are illegally operating without workers’ compensation insurance,” and thus allowing expedited access to medical care for workers who would typically not have a safety net. Additionally, the law eases the process of identifying and taking action against employers who are not playing by the rules. The state has also launchededucational campaigns to inform workers about workplace regulations and wage theft. All this greatly applies to the underground construction industry, and these political

actions are helping to reverse current trends by empowering construction workers to defend their own rights. To address the ongoing problems, there have been various proposed solutions to deal with the growing number of construction workers entering the underground economy. Most involve legal relief political action that helps to curb underground economic activity and protect the rights of construction workers. One such solution is increased publicity to shed light on the illegal economic activities in the construction industry such as employers’ neglect in reporting their workers. Another proposed solution is an economic one—raising the wage floor to ensure all workers—especially those involved in the informal economy—are paid a fair wage. This would help to reduce abuses by employers and would, to an extent, mitigate extreme poverty levels among underground construction workers. In conjunction with these is the proposed solution of strengthening labor unions. Power to construction labor unions would encourage more workers to join them. Stronger representation for all construction workers would help ensure that labor standards be respected and enforced, mitigating employers’ potentially adverse actions toward construction workers in the underground industry. Finally, there has been an emphasis on greater education and training overall. Not only were those with higher levels of education relatively protected in the Great Recession, but the service and professional industries that continue to expand call for highly educated workers. Instead of being pushed into unemployment or work in the underground economy, more highly skilled workers would be able to find jobs in other industries. As the economy and society change, the overall issue of the underground construction industry is very complex and multi-faceted. The interplay of varying dynamic factors contributes to the ongoing increases in construction workers joining the underground. Likewise, there is not necessarily a single solution. The current efforts and proposed solutions are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are reinforcements of each other and have the potential to work together to address the economic and social parts of the problem by assisting workers and in turn reducing economic losses—because, indeed, the underground can be dark, secret, and incredibly pernicious. ■


The Real Price of Labor


Source: The Rock River Times.


uman lives are rapidly becoming some of the most valuable commodities on the planet. The human trafficking business is reported to be a $32 billion-per-year industry, involving 161 countries including the United States. While this economy is usually known for sex trafficking, a much larger population of 21 million people are in either state- or privately-imposed forced labor. California, being a border state and having a large immigrant population, is one of the nation’s top four destinations for human trafficking. In California, 43% of all trafficking occurs in the Bay Area and it is at the top of the FBI’s list for child exploitation, along with Los Angeles and San Diego. According to a report by the Little Hoover Commission of California, an estimated 15 percent of the $10 billion worth of state taxes lost each year to the underground economy can be attributed to untaxed illegal activities such as human trafficking. The problem has been addressed through the passage of various bills in recent years, notably AB1147, which repealed a disastrous state- sponsored regulatory body for massage parlor licensing and prohibited local governments from weeding out these parlors that were hubs of human trafficking. The state also passed SB955, which allows the courts to authorize wiretapping for the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, SB1165, which allows California public schools to offer prevention education against sex trafficking, and AB1585, which will allow those convicted of prostitution or solicitation offenses to clear their records if they can prove that they were victims of human trafficking. However, these measures only seem to target sex trafficking. While a report from Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office shows that 56% of cases reported by the nine Anti-Trafficking Task Forces in California fall under sex trafficking, another 23% of cases reported fall under labor trafficking, a number they suspect to be an underestimation due to the under-reporting and under-identification of labor trafficking. U.S. Attorney Wagner states “labor trafficking is often an invisible crime. Our goal is to train government workers, who may be at worksites for other purposes, to

see the signs of forced labor and to report it. While federal and state laws exist to combat forced labor, they have no power if no one reports it.” Many factors contribute to this underestimation, including the fact that immigrant officials may categorize immigrant workers who are trafficked as undocumented workers and deport them. In addition, temporary labor migration or “guest worker” schemes promoted by governments to fill demand for cheap labor often create a legalized system for employers to exploit workers, deny them their rights and increase their vulnerability to trafficking and forced labor, according to the Huffington Post. Victims of labor trafficking often cannot report their abuse, under threat of deportation or imprisonment. “The traffickers tell them that they have connections with the police, or that the police will beat and imprison or deport them,” said Heidi Rummel, a federal prosecutor of trafficking cases in California. Victims may also feel shame about their situation or they may have no money to pursue legal action because they are either paid very little no or wages at all. Few legislative actions have been taken to prevent labor trafficking specifically. California Senate Bill 1193, enacted in September 2012, requires businesses, transit hubs, and other locations that are most likely sites of sex and labor trafficking to post notices publicizing human trafficking resource. Assembly Bill 2212 expands red light abatement to include instances of human trafficking. Forced labor is more prevalent in sectors of the California economy that experience a large demand for cheap labor and have little regulation. This includes the agricultural Central Valley, the textile and clothing manufacturing sweatshops around Los Angeles, and the heavily immigrant-populated San Diego. According to Kay Buck, the CEO and Executive Director of The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), “while labor trafficking in California does not get the attention it warrants as a serious continuum of exploitation targeting vulnerable populations, it is more prevalent than most people realize. Representing 50% of our cases, victims are sold or tricked into modern slavery in restaurants and food trucks, hotels, in construction or agriculture, and domestic servitude. Children and adults are forced to work under the most horrifying circumstances while the traffickers make enormous profits.” Even with the laws in place, human trafficking is on the rise in California. For example, the number of sex trafficking cases in Contra Costa County has more than tripled in the last 2 years. In August, a couple from Danville were arrested for running a high- priced prostitution ring, netting thousands of dollars a week. The Bay Area branch of a nationwide FBI investigation dubbed “Cross Country IX” uncovered six children who were forced into prostitution and 8 suspected pimps. There have already been 478 human trafficking cases reported in 2015. ■ Berkeley Political Review | 4



“Just Uber there. It’s faster and cheaper.” “I just Airbnb-ed the place. It was pretty cheap.”


tatements of this sort are becoming increasingly prevalent in the appdriven world of today. Sectors like that of transportation and housing, as well as lesser expected sectors like that of laundry and sailboats have become internet-based and disruptive. These apps have made it easy for anyone with a smartphone to find transportation; or even temporary housing, culminating in the formation of what market analysts are calling ‘the sharing economy.’ Nowhere is the prevalence of the sharing economy stronger than in San Francisco, the headquarters of many app-based companies. But it is also in San Francisco that these companies are attracting the most opposition. Recently, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, home-sharing services like Airbnb, and other services have come under fire from a broad coalition of San Francisco residents, business/property owners, and lawmakers, which decries that these services are detrimental to the business activity of municipal services and established local businesses. Furthermore, critics of the sharing economy assert that the success of these services is based on, according to The Guardian, “evading regulations and breaking the law.” San Francisco’s policymakers have begun to address the concerns of the city’s residents by introducing measures aimed at curbing the unreported practices of the app-driven services, as global cities like Paris and London have begun to do so. Because services provided by private sharing apps are not required to be reported in revenue filing, the hosts are free to keep whatever revenue they collect from providing their respective services. In response, Proposition F, on San Francisco’s November ballot, was aimed at strengthening pre-existing regulation over private home-rentals in the city by requiring renters to pay standard hotel prices and requiring hosts to submit revenue reports every fiscal quarter, among other measures. With companies like Uber and Airbnb offering competitive prices for the same – and perhaps more convenient, some would argue – services, it has become increasingly difficult in large cities like San Francisco for conventional businesses to compete and maintain revenue. According to the San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis, the city loses over $250,000 – $300,000 in annual rental revenue, even after tourist spending and hotel tax are factored in. Proposition F aimed to end the loss of revenue that established businesses have suffered to app-based services. The issue has brought to question the status and power of Silicon Valley firms. While the sector’s boom has immensely augmented San Francisco’s wealth and prestige, many argue that the scope of prevalence of the firms have left ugly traces on the city and its residents, especially in the form of unprecedented gentrification and Source: ABC7 News

5 | Berkeley Political Review

decreasing affordability. The debate over the limits of the sharing economy has only added to the conflict, with many arguing that app-based companies are abusing San Francisco’s business-friendly climate. For example, another tech titan, Uber is at the center of a labor dispute due to their policy of hiring their drivers only on contractor status, not as full employees, so as to avoid paying into the income tax system if they were to do so otherwise. Uber’s conflict – considering drivers purely as contractors, not as employees – has attracted national attention, and brings to the public eye the issue of workers compensation and treatment. Critics claim that while Uber can minimize costs by not subsidizing its drivers, it simultaneously fails to provide them with job security, thus heightening the risk of turnover and arbitrary wage changes. Can Uber can continue to save costs at the potential risk of subverting labor standards? Politically, the issue has divided airbnb-ad-1024x768policymakers and business leaders, alike. On one end, figures like U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and state senator Mark Leno supported Proposition F, while others like San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and California Lieutenant-Governor Gavin Newsom held opposition to it. The issue also significantly transcends traditional party lines. Surprisingly – and perhaps predictably – opponents of Proposition F found an ally among the Republican electorate and GOP-affiliated groups, including the San Francisco Republican Party and the Log Cabin Republicans. The fact should not come as a surprise because the party’s neoliberal economic policy approaches could offer more protection to the tech corporations’ business interests. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s much-publicized visit to a San Francisco tech startup – and ride in an Uber car – in July signified the GOP’s allegiance to Silicon Valley’s interests. While many tech industry leaders have aligned – and continue to align – with Democrats, the Republican Party’s dedication to the tech companies’ privacy may likely result in increased Republican presence in Silicon Valley. An affirmative vote on Proposition F this November would have signaled the tech industry’s gradual shift in political allegiance. If Republican lawmakers can promise Silicon Valley businesses to limit the potential effects of the proposition, then the industry’s allegiances are subject to political realignment, especially if what is at stake is the industry’s fiscal autonomy. ■



this state for young people like UC graduates, and we know employers can’t focus on job creation if they’re burdened with ever-increasing taxes.” On October 2nd, Governor Brown signed SB110 into law. Authored by Fuller, it is her first piece of legislation as Senate Republican Leader. According to Fuller, SB110 “will provide needed state funding to match the federal dollars secured to modernize schools serving military families throughout California. The federal funds are set aside to repair, upgrade, and replace inadequate public school facilities located near military bases.” The bill passed through both the assembly and senate without any opposition. Fuller has also been a strong voice for female empowerment throughout the state. In February, she authored Senate Concurrent Resolution 9, which promoted California Girls and Women in Sports Week.

“Only 25.8% of California’s legislative branch is comprised of women even though women make up half of California’s population. The gap is even more apparent for minority women”



omen are beginning to prove that California politics are not simply a man’s job. August 27, 2015 marked a historic day for California’s legislative branch as State Senator Jean Fuller became the state’s first female senate leader. A Republican representing the sixteenth district of Bakersfield, Fuller was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2006. She moved on to become a member of the California State Senate in 2010 before being asked to become the Senate Minority Leader this August. Before becoming involved in legislature, Fuller served as an educator and school administrator. Fuller’s new leadership position within the State Senate has additional importance pertaining to the role of women within California’s state government. As of August 27th, three out of the four state legislative leaders are women. Along with Fuller, this also includes Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto). Following her background as an educator and school district superintendent, education remains one of Fuller’s top priorities. In response to questions by the Berkeley Political Review, Fuller asserted that the Senate Republicans “prioritized students’ ability to receive a quality education, and we will continue to target this issue as a critical need… we’re striving to make sure K-12 and institutions of higher education have the resources they need to prepare students to get ahead.” Furthermore, Fuller explained how she plans to help UC graduates, saying, “we fought hard for California families, including stopping tuition increases for UC students. We held the line on tax hikes that would have threatened our state’s economic recovery, and we remain committed to making sure state expenditures are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. We want to see more well-paying jobs created in

Though 75% of California’s legislative leaders are women, the state still has a long way to go before women can reach representative equality. Only 25.8% of California’s legislative branch is comprised of women even though women make up half of California’s population. This gap is even more apparent for minority women. According to a study by the Leadership California Institute released in 2014, only 14% of female officials are Latina, while Asian and African American women are comprised of 3% each. This racial gap is demonstrated by the fact that California’s three women legislative leaders are all white. Additionally, although California is lauded as one of the most progressive states, its percentage of women in the legislative branch is only 1.4% higher than the state average at 24.4%. California’s percentage of women in the legislative branch is far below that of Arizona (35.6%), Colorado (42%), Illinois (31.1%), and Vermont (40.6%). However, all of these statistics are higher than the national average. Women make up only 19.3% of the United States House of Representatives and 20% of the Senate. Fuller has been particularly involved in generating greater female participation in government. She employs a total of ten female staff members in her Capitol and District offices. These ten women have positions such as Caucus Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, press secretary, and legislative aide.Although women have proven to be effective leaders of California, they still have a long path ahead to achieving political equality in the state government. Hopefully, Fuller’s advancement in the California legislative branch will provide a window into the future of greater female participation in California’s leadership by showing how an educator from Bakersfield can rise to one of the highest positions in California government. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 6



“Freeway” Rick Ross, the first distributor of crack cocaine in the US. By: Cathrine Petersen


e never called it crack, that was what the government named it,” says “Freeway” Rick Ross, the man largely credited with the introduction of crack cocaine to the US, “I think that they gave it the name crack to sensationalize the danger of it.” Crack cocaine was the sensation of the 1980’s, just as powder cocaine had been the sensation of the early 1900’s. In both cases, the push for stringent sentencing laws was associated with high African American use of the drug. The racially prejudiced character of cocaine sentencing laws can be traced back as far as 1914, but its ramifications manifest in disproportionate incarceration and voting inequality today. In the early 1900’s, cocaine was widely popular among all groups and social classes in the US; it was an ingredient in Coca-Cola and praised as “cure-all” tonic. As the adverse health effects of cocaine grew clearer, its connotations changed. In 1914, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Negro Cocaine Fiends are a New Southern Menace,” which presented a new threat to the nation, claiming that black men who use cocaine resisted “Bullets fired into vital parts that would drop a sane man in his tracks.” The slew of articles published on this topic “were in part motivated by a desire to persuade Southern members of Congress to support the proposed Harrison Narcotics Act.” In a testimony to Congress in support of this act, Dr. Koch of the Pennsylvania Board of Pharmacy said that “most of the attacks upon White women of the South are the direct result of the ‘cocaine-crazed’ Negro brain.” Passed later in 1914, this racially steeped act made the trade of cocaine illegal except for under medical circumstances. In 1922, the Jones-Miller Act made cocaine possession a federal offense and instituted the 5 year minimum sentence that endured until 2010. 7 | Berkeley Political Review

Cocaine use decreased significantly after its prohibition but reemerged in the 1970’s, presented as the harmless sister of heroin. In 1982, there were an estimated 10.4 million cocaine users in the US, predominantly white Americans, who were willing to pay up to $150 per gram. Amid the rise of cocaine, “Freeway” Rick Ross, the largest African American cocaine distributor in LA, suddenly began to sell a new product, “crack.” Crack cocaine’s popularity stemmed from its inexpensive production and its short but very intense high, which led to a high potential for addictiveness and abuse. Because it was so cheap, it riddled low-income neighborhoods and inner city areas, most of them heavily African American. Fear of crack spread throughout the US. The crack epidemic led to the rise of inner city gangs, characterized by violence and crime. In 1986, 83% of nondrug felony arrests showed signs of cocaine use, far higher than in 1984, before the proliferation of crack. There was also a critical fear of the impact of crack cocaine on young people, who were seen as more prone to addiction. A single article started the rampant fear and media obsession over the so-called “crack baby,” a baby born addicted to cocaine because of the mother’s usage during pregnancy. The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act was a reaction to these fears. It initiated the first legislative distinction between cocaine and crack cocaine despite their pharmacological sameness. It created a 100:1 sentencing ratio that existed until 2010. A person caught with 50 grams of crack cocaine would face the same penalty as a person caught with 5 kilograms of powder cocaine. Two years later, the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act made crack cocaine the only drug with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for a simple possession charge of over 5 grams of crack cocaine. According to Congress, “the correlation between crack cocaine use and the commission of other serious crimes was considered greater than that with other drugs.” This connection is indisputable; the US Sentencing Commission showed that from 2008 to 2009, 29% of cases involving crack cocaine involved a weapon, in contrast to 16% of cocaine powder cases. However, there is an entirely different set of sentences for cocaine-related cases that involve bodily injury or death; therefore this argument does not apply to nonviolent sentences. Drug abuse in itself is a nonviolent and victimless crime, and treating nonviolent crack offenders differently than nonviolent cocaine offenders reveals race and class discrimination. The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act reduced the sentencing ratio to approximately 18:1 and removed the 1988 minimum sentence for simple possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine. However, current laws still enforce a socioeconomic sentencing disparity, which doubly targets racial minorities. An NYU study using data from 2009 to 2012 shows that “Since black individuals in the US are so much more likely to live in poverty, disproportionate numbers have been incarcerated for crack offenses, while more educated and affluent individuals are less likely to be subject to legal consequences for powder cocaine use.” Dr. Palamar, a researcher in the study, summarized that “The sentencing laws appear to unfairly target the poor, with blacks ultimately experiencing high incarceration rates as a result.” Blacks constitute 13% of the US population. However, according to the NAACP, “In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws.” Moreover, blacks are likely to receive a higher sentence than a comparable white drug user. Professor Barbara A. Barnes of the University of California Berkeley said, “The mass incarceration that has grown out of these really strict drug-related sentencing guidelines, has created in essence a new Jim Crow, a new kind of segregation.” She describes mass incarceration as “a huge disenfranchisement of poor black and brown people, where in so many places in the nation, those people are basically taken out of the civil population and can’t participate in the nation in any fashion.”

CALIFORNIA The disproportionate incarceration of black Americans results in a loss count, were actually inmates from another county.” of black political influence. When a person enters the prison system, they In many places, lawmakers are choosing to ignore Census data in their lose their right to vote for the time of their sentence. If they become a redistricting policies in order to retain equal representation. A city council felon, as they would through cocaine or crack cocaine charges, this right district of Jones County, Iowa, houses Iowa’s largest penitentiary, with 1,300 is permanently suspended. For a nonviolent crime, such as crack cocaine inmates. This leaves 58 non-prisoners, who had about 25 times as much possession, the US government erases all political influence a person holds. voting power as residents of other districts. This resulted in a city councilman Combined with the US’s racially unequal sentencing, this removes voting being elected into office in 2008 with a mere two votes, one from his wife power from black Americans, thus rewarding more relative voting power to and the other from his neighbor. However, this disparity was corrected after whites. In Florida, the state with the highest percentage of felons, 10.42% of 2009. As Professor Nathan Persily of Columbia Law School states, “There’s the voting age population cannot vote due to a felony. However, only looking no reason why a community ought to gain representation because of a at the African American population of Florida, this figure becomes 23.32%. large, incarcerated, non-voting population.” States such as New York and Nearly one out of five African Americans in Florida is disenfranchised, caused Maryland have implemented state-wide policies to correct disproportionate in large part by racial prejudices as a result of legislation. Michelle Alexander voting power distribution caused by Census counting practices. Current US cocaine sentencing laws silence black Americans and sums up, “Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways it was once legal to discriminate against African-Americans. those suffering from poverty. There is a history of racial prejudice in cocaine Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination, employment sentencing laws that affects their ability to offer impartial treatment to all discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, exclusion Americans. The systemic transfer of power from black Americans to the white majority is not new to the US. However, just as the US moved past from jury service are suddenly legal.” Further, the US Census does not count prisoners as residents of explicit racial discrimination, it can move past discrimination by means of their homes for legislative districting purposes, instead they are counted the criminal justice system. ■ as residents of their prison cells. Because prisons in most parts of the country are built in predominantly white areas, this tabulation method inflates the legislative power of largely white districts at the expense of our prisoners, primarily black Americans. A 1,243% increase in population with a 0% increase in reputation - sounds statistically impossible, but that is currently the paradigm African Americans face in Lawrence County, Illinois. The Lawrence Correctional Center opened in 2001 and now holds approximately 2,358 inmates, more than 1,400 of which are black. The demographics of eligible voters have not changed, but their voting power has. The 49 non-prisoner residents of the county board district near the prison have almost fifty times as much political influence as the residents in the other districts. The non-prisoner residents in the district near Lawrence County Correctional Center are 97% white. The prison population in this district is majority black, and about 60% of prisoners come from Chicago. Because most arrests and incarcerations occur in inner city areas, prison gerrymandering relocates voting power “from high-poverty, primarily black neighborhoods to white districts across the state.” In 2008, “The Prison Policy Initiative found 21 counties across the country where at least one in five people, 2013 US Prison Population by Race. By: Cathrine Petersen according to the Census Bureau’s Berkeley Political Review | 8


After Roe




nn Richards, the late Democratic governor of Texas, once stated, v. Casey devolved power to states and raised the threshold of proof for what “We’re not going to have the America that we want until we elect constitutes an unduly restrictive law. In effect, the ruling opened the door leaders who are going to tell the truth – not most days, but every for a flurry of state restrictions that, while creating roadblocks for women day.” seeking an abortion, cannot be categorized as imposing an “undue burden”. For Ms. Richards’ daughter, Planned Parenthood President Cecile At around the same time, UC San Diego Professor of Political Science Richards, September 29th was not a good day for truth in American politics. Thad Kousser argues, Republican victories in the 1994 midterm elections In a Congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood’s medical services and and the Newt Gingrich-led “Republican Revolution” began a “devolution fetal tissue donations, Republican lawmakers barraged Cecile Richards with revolution” in American politics, wherein states gained greater policya series of hostile questions in a session that many Democrats argued was making power at the expense of the power of the national government. By intended more for political grandstanding than factual inquiry (it didn’t help limiting the federal government’s prominence and influence, the “devolution that the hearing’s actual title was “Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices revolution” gave state legislatures more power than ever before to craft at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider”). The most memorable moment abortion policy and regulate clinics. of the hearing, however, came when Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah presented a chart comparing Planned Parenthood’s cancer screening and prevention services with its abortion services. Lacking a y-axis and visually contorting its data, Chaffetz’s chart – made by the pro-life group Americans United for Life – contended that Planned Parenthood’s 327,000 abortionrelated services provided in 2013 were somehow numerically greater than their 935,573 cancer screenings in the same year. Following the hearing, the chart was roundly criticized by media outlets as intentionally misleading and rated by Politifact as a “Pants on Fire” claim. Public reaction seemed to paraphrase a classic Mark Twain quote: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” While many may be focused on the national debate over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, when it comes to abortion services, the battle for abortion rights is being fought less on Capitol Pro-choice activists protest outside a pro-life event organized by Focus on the Family in St. Hill and more in clinics across Paul, MN. Source: Wikimedia Commons. the country. In the decades As the legal framework on abortion politics changed, so too did the since Roe v. Wade, access to nature and behavior of pro-life social movements. Since the 1990s, several abortion services in certain pro-life groups have grown increasingly hostile and violent . From the 1996 states has grown increasingly bombing of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park by an anti-abortion radical to restrictive. By passing the 2009 assassination of pro-choice advocate George Tiller, anti-abortion strategic abortion regulations, violence has remained a serious threat to abortion clinics and their patients state legislatures across the since the 1990s. Although violent extremists are a minority of pro-life country have succeeded in activists, tactics employed by mainstream pro-life activists have also grown limiting or closing abortion more hostile. At clinics across the country, pro-life activists verbally accost clinics and the services they and shame patients at abortion clinics. Ilyse Hogue of MSNBC observes that provide. Since the 1970s, “groups of screaming protesters terrorize women outside of clinics” while political battles over access clinic employees are often stalked by political opponents and receive daily Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas. Source: Wikimedia Commons. to abortion have mainly been threats, thus cultivating a climate of fear and hostility around many state waged within states between lawmakers who seek to regulate access to clinics. More recently, the Supreme Court case McCullen v. Coakley upheld abortion services and activists who charge that these regulations infringe activists’ right to protest near abortion clinics. on the Constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade. As abortion politics In isolated political spheres, these two factors – policy devolution have localized to become mainly state issues, pro-life extremism has surged and increased pro-life activism – should not constitute a restrictive trend and become a mainstay in state politics, resulting in an ever-changing and in abortion policy by themselves, yet the growing interaction between state shrinking map of state abortion clinics. As Molly Redden of Mother Jones legislatures and right-wing political movements has dramatically changed recently put it, “The war on women is over- and women lost.” how state abortion policy is written. Since 2010, far-right political movements The reversal of women’s access to abortion services has its origins in like the Tea Party have surged to prominence and social conservatives have the early 1990s, when a combination of Supreme Court rulings and national gained far more influence in the Republican Party than ever before. For the political movements laid the groundwork for states to take more control in GOP, anti-abortion rhetoric and policy is no longer limited to fringe wings setting abortion policy. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, of the party – rather, it has become part of the mainstream party platform. the Supreme Court ruled that while the Constitution guaranteed a right to As a result, state legislatures – the majority of which are Republicanabortion, states may regulate abortion policy so long as regulations do not controlled – have increasingly restricted access to abortion clinics. These impose an “undue burden” for women seeking a termination of pregnancy. strategic laws have taken the form of mandatory waiting periods before While pro-choice activists celebrated the ruling for striking down challenged getting an abortion, mandatory in-person counseling, 20-week abortion elements of Pennsylvania’s state abortion restrictions, Planned Parenthood bans, required parental consent for minors seeking an abortion, requirements 9 | Berkeley Political Review


A pro-life activist protests outside a Planned Parenthood clinic. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

that clinics meet surgical center and hospital admitting privileges criteria, and mandatory ultrasounds for first-trimester abortions. Supporters of laws like the admitting privileges regulation argue such regulations are necessary to protect maternal health and ensure safe and high-quality care, but opponents contend they are unnecessary in the first place. The ultrasound requirement, for example, has been criticized by medical professionals like the American College of Physicians and the Pennsylvania Medical Society as being medically unnecessary. Similarly, the American Medical Association (AMA) and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecolegists (ACOG) have noted that admitting privileges laws have “simply no medical basis” and “are not necessary to the provision of safe abortion care.” Abortion rights activists therein have argued that recent state abortion regulations are clandestine attempts to dissuade abortions and close clinics that cannot adjust to unnecessary requirements. Nonetheless, states with Tea Partyaligned Governors, like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott, have implemented many of these regulations in recent years. The effect of this new wave of restrictions has been devastating for the pro-choice movement. The Guttmacher Institute reports that more state abortion restrictions – nearly 200 in total – have been passed from 2011 to 2013 than in the entire previous decade while the number of states “hostile” to abortion rights – meaning they have four or more abortion restrictions in effect – surged to 37. As a result of tightened restrictions, many clinics have had to limit services or shut down. Bloomberg News notes that across the country, at least 58 abortion clinics – or 1 in 10 – have shut down or limited services since 2011 due to new regulations. In Texas, a 2013 law requiring abortion facilities to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers and mandate clinicians have hospital admitting privileges resulted in the forced closing of half of the state’s 40 clinics. In Virginia, a similar admitting-privileges law resulted in two of the state’s busiest facilities closing in 2013. The effect of a recent Arizona law banning nurse practitioners from providing abortions has resulted in the number of that state’s clinics dropping from 19 to seven. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this new wave of restrictions is found in Mississippi, where an admitting-privileges law has closed all but one clinic in the state. New abortion regulations have also transformed the national map of clinics. Not only must many women now jump through several hoops, such as a waiting period or an ultrasound,

before getting medical treatment, but many are now left without a nearby clinic at all. This imposes serious transaction and transportation costs for patients who, in areas like Tupelo, MS, must travel across state lines to arrive at the nearest abortion provider. In parts of Arizona, notes Cynde Cerf of Planned Parenthood, access to clinics within the state that are outside the areas of Phoenix and Tucson is nonexistent. Against the pro-life movement’s multifaceted strategy of public protest, shaming of clinic patients, violence, and now state lawmaking, pro-choice advocates are losing the battle for women’s reproductive rights as more states seek to pass restrictive regulations. While women’s health activists have opposed these recent restrictive abortion laws, a lack of Supreme Court review on the issue has deferred authority to the Casey precedent and state legislatures. Partisan gerrymandering and redistricting in states like Wisconsin have given a further edge to Republican-controlled legislatures that seek to preserve the statelevel electoral patterns behind this new wave of abortion restrictions, making it difficult for pro-choice activists to reverse this political and legislative tide. Still, hope remains for abortion rights activists seeking to realize Roe v. Wade’s legacy. Despite the unprecedented increase in restrictive abortion laws, pro-choice groups in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and other states have filed state and federal judicial challenges to state regulations that infringe upon access to abortion services. The result, at times, has been the successful overturning of state restrictions on abortion or temporary stays on closing clinics while cases make their way through the appeals process. This strategy of legal challenges has increased the chance that higher courts, or perhaps even the Supreme Court, will review the recent trend in state laws regulating abortion. Furthermore, pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood retain a vibrant grassroots base of support and can still successfully mobilize prochoice activists in moments of crisis. In response to the recent Republicanled effort to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, donations for the pro-choice organization surged and support for Planned Parenthood remained steady. Pro-choice groups won September’s shutdown battle by drawing national attention to the issue of women’s reproductive rights. To reverse the tide of restrictive laws and clinic closings, abortion rights activists must mount similarly effective state-level campaigns across the country. The status quo may seem dim for abortion rights activists, but the ability of Planned Parenthood to weather recent national controversy can keep hope alive for the pro-choice movement. As Ann Richards once put it, “The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right, it’s all we’ll need”. ■

Pro-choice activists protest Virginia’s transvaginal ultrasound bill at the state capitol. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Berkeley Political Review | 10



By: Heyun Jeong


merica is under attack from enemies we’ve known about for quite some time now. In the year 2000, the United States was able to declare that measles had officially been eliminated from the country. Fast-forward 14 years later, the United States is caught up in the throes of one of the largest measles outbreaks in recent history. In 2014, the U.S. experienced 23 measles outbreaks in 27 different states for a total of 668 cases. Moreover, mumps, whooping cough, and chickenpox have all made reappearances in recent years as well. Americans have unparalleled access to arguably the best medical centers and research facilities, yet we are still under attack from diseases most common in developing countries. By implementing policies at the statewide level that seek to educate people about the benefits of vaccines and mandate their usage, the United States can work toward ending the continuous cycle of epidemics. With states such as California, Mississippi, and West Virginia taking strides early to enforce high vaccination rates, other states should follow suit and pursue legislation that prioritizes public safety. In Mississippi this initiative has largely been successful, raising the vaccination coverage rate to 99.7%, the highest rate in the country. The emerging cycle of outbreaks has much to do with two specific groups of people, both seeking non-medical exemptions to avoid vaccinating themselves and their children. Certain religious beliefs and concerns over the safety of vaccines have led to the creation of a growing bloc of parents and celebrities who have taken to boycotting the use of vaccines. 89 percent of parents who avoid vaccinating their children, typically do so by requesting a nonmedical exemption, which has almost certainly left vaccination coverage around the country well below what it should be. Thus, personal belief and religious exemptions have allowed for vaccination rates to dip, especially in states where attaining a personal belief exemption requires “nothing more than checking a box of a health form.” With such a simple route to receiving an exemption, parents 11 | Berkeley Political Review

are not required to acknowledge the benefits that argued by John Locke is based on the principle vaccines can provide, perhaps allowing many of that the people ought to “conditionally transfer the misconceptions surrounding the safety of some of their rights to the government in order vaccines to persist. The CDC reports that vaccines to better ensure the stable, comfortable enjoyment typically produce immunity for a person between of their lives, liberty, and property.” This is 90 percent and 100 percent of the time they are especially relevant because today, it is important administered. This is simply one of many benefits to keep public health in mind as the prerequisite that can be lost for a child who forgoes receiving to policy creation for the sake of protecting lives. vaccines. For those with weakened immune systems Offering philosophical exemptions has or medical issues–cancer patients for example–a become an issue due to the way it has indirectly disease as common as the flu can be fatal. Those contributed to the massive outbreaks in recent who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their years. A report by the University of Oxford children, risk bringing about outbreaks that could recommends a roughly 95 percent vaccination be fatal to an unprotected subset of the population. rate to maintain herd immunity and protect The New York Times reports one such instance: the community from outbreaks, particularly of “Carl Krawitt, whose 7-year-old son, Rhett, is diseases that spread quickly, such as measles. in remission from leukemia and was medically Despite widespread access to such an empirically prohibited from receiving vaccines, argued that effective resource, fourteen states have it was children like his son whose rights were kindergarten vaccination rates that are multiple being violated by those who refuse to vaccinate; percentage points below this threshold, and nearly unvaccinated children could pass along potentially 20 other states are located either slightly above or deadly diseases to Rhett.” Parents such as Carl slightly below that margin. Krawitt echo the sentiments of the Supreme With the medical community unable to assure Court as well as those of parents concerned about certain parts of the population of the safety and the health risks associated with allowing their necessity of vaccines, it seems that a legal approach children to interact with unvaccinated children on may be necessary to raise coverage rates and a daily basis. protect the population. While parents undeniably Acting on this issue requires many steps, have the right to make decisions about their child’s but it starts with lawmakers recognizing the duty well-being, when it comes to vaccines, the impact they have to the public to prioritize the safety of the decision that a parent makes is not simply of the communities they represent. Primarily, it limited to his or her own child. More specifically, requires policymakers to examine what can be if an unvaccinated child falls sick and becomes a done to increase vaccination rates voluntarily health hazard to the his or her peers at school, the through means such as educating the population parents of the other children no longer retain the on the importance of vaccines or clarifying same ability to protect their children. The Supreme misconceptions regarding the drawbacks of Court recognized this dilemma when it decided in vaccines. If voluntary measures do not achieve the 1905 in the ruling of Jacobson v. Massachusetts goal of promoting communal welfare, it may be that “it was the duty of the constituted authorities necessary for lawmakers to weigh the impact of primarily to keep in view the welfare, comfort and stricter vaccination laws, similar to the ones that safety of the many, and not permit the interests exist currently in Mississippi, California, and West of the many to be subordinated to the wishes or Virginia. ■ convenience of the few.” If state lawmakers take the initiative to prohibit non-medical exemptions for the sake of public safety, the United States could reach a universal vaccination coverage rate high enough to permanently eradicate many preventable diseases. In regards to those who refuse to vaccinate their families due to religious beliefs, the court decided in 1944 that “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.” Though civil liberties are of primary importance, the social contract as Source: Mother Jones





ecently the American eugenics movement was brought back into the news by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, who claimed that Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger had created her organization in an effort to control the black population. While this claim is not entirely true, Carson does bring attention to a rarely-discussed American injustice. Throughout the twentieth century, eugenicists promoted selective breeding and forced sterilizations as a way to limit the reproduction of the “feeble-minded,” a catch-all term used to describe any unwanted individuals. This group included the mentally and physically disabled, African Americans, delinquent children, and even women deemed “overly sexual.” Essentially, the American government allowed for legislation that devalued certain individuals as a result of perceived genetic “defectiveness,” in seeming violation of the “equal protections of the law” guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The United States can address this breach of its own core principles by affording reparation to eugenics victims and by ensuring that this portion of history is not forgotten. Once widely supported during the twentieth century, the American eugenics movement has since faded into the dusty recesses of the general public’s minds, though victims remain alive today. The exact number of living victims is unclear, but in total, eugenics programs across 33 states caused permanent injury to over 60,000 Americans. Since sterilization is an enduring trauma, a mere apology is not enough to make amends. As the chief organization championing restitution efforts for eugenics victims, the Christian Law Institute has helped to successfully create monetary compensation programs in North Carolina and Virginia. Mark Bold, CEO and President of the Christian Law Institute, stated, “We can’t undo a sterilization, and so the only avenue for justice is some type of monetary compensation. There’s a debt that’s owed. That debt is ongoing until [the victims] receive some compensation.” Currently, the institute is working to create a compensation program in California. Out of the 33 states that ran eugenics projects, North Carolina and Virginia are the only ones to have initiated restitution efforts, and only seven have issued official apologies. In 2003, California issued an apology that expressed “its profound regret over the state’s past role in the eugenics movement and the injustice done to thousands of California men and women.” Subsequently in 2013, North Carolina was the first to create plans for compensation, setting aside a $10 million fund to pay surviving victims. Virginia followed suit in 2015 with a $400,000 fund to give individuals $25,000 each. While these efforts are more proactive than those of the other 31 states,

Such a practice echoes the eugenics movement and suggests the possibility of past ideas being revisited, especially with rapidly improving genetic and reproductive technologies. Today women are increasingly pressured to perform amniocentesis tests and to pursue abortions when their babies test positive for disabilities. Though this may seem perfectly rational to some, activists warn that the logic behind this thinking—that aborting a disabled child will save a family from suffering— is, again, reminiscent of the past movement. Since the principles behind eugenics has yet to completely leave American society, the United States has various avenues for acknowledging the past eugenics movement. As previously mentioned, few states have ever officially acknowledged their eugenics programs. California’s Senate Resolution No. 20 “urges every citizen of the state to become familiar with the history of the eugenics movement.” However, the American eugenics movement is hardly ever mentioned in history classes, if at all, though the United States was cited as inspiration for the eugenics programs run by the Nazis. Beginning in 2016, Virginian students will be learning about the United States’ own eugenics movement, as recently voted on by the Virginia Department of Education. Other states can also incorporate this portion of history into their curriculums. Another possible endeavor, currently pursued by the Christian Law Institute, is the inclusion of American eugenics in the National Holocaust Museum’s content. These actions may only be symbolic in nature, but by pursuing them, the U.S. would ensure that the injustices done to the victims of American eugenics will not be forgotten through historical amnesia. The forced sterilizations advocated by eugenicists ultimately disregarded the American principle of equality before the law. As such, the remaining 31 states can follow North Carolina and Virginia’s lead in giving monetary reparations to eugenics victims to compensate for the injury caused by the government. Through additions to educational standards, the United States can also promote awareness about this part of its past so that future eugenic malpractices may be prevented. ■

they still have flaws to be improved upon. In particular, North Carolina’s law will only affect victims whose sterilization was authorized by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina. This leaves out many who underwent forced sterilizations that were instead approved by doctors and social workers, which was more common in the state. Though the first payments were sent out last year, there are still many more victims who are not qualified to receive any redress under the current law. The niece of one such victim said, “It’s like, you’ve hurt [my aunt] once before, but then now I feel like you’re turning around and hurting her once again.” Today, advocates are asking lawmakers to change the language of the 2013 bill so that it is inclusive of all eugenics victims. Still, these reparation efforts have not been without opposition. Many argue that in doling out compensation to eugenics victims, other marginalized groups would seek monetary repayment for past atrocities such as slavery and the theft of Native American lands. However, Bold points out that the restitution would go to “those who are still living with what the state took from them,” as opposed to relatives of deceased individuals, and that eugenics victims have “an ongoing injury,” making the debt owed to them ongoing as well. Other opponents have insisted that monetary compensation is an overreach of the government’s jurisdiction. Yet, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. summarizes in the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, the legislators behind the eugenics laws believed that “it is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” Thus, the original eugenics programs were breaches of governmental jurisdiction themselves. To rectify this, advocates like Bold believe that the remaining 31 states should introduce restitution programs to demonstrate a commitment to righting the wrongs of the past. Despite most Americans being unaware of it, the underlying principle of eugenics can be found in the form of forced sterilizations performed on female prisoners in California and encouraged abortions of disabled fetuses. Between 2006 and 2010, at least 148 female inmates of Californian prisons were subjected to sterilizations without required approval from the state. Only last year did Governor Jerry Brown sign a bill prohibiting the use of forced practice of forced sterilizations was spread across most of the United States. sterilizations on female inmates. The By Heyun Jeong.

Berkeley Political Review | 12


The Grim Reaper


A General Atomics MQ-1 Predator Drone. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


n 2000, an unarmed, unmanned CIA surveillance aircraft overflew Tarnak Farm in Afghanistan, taking video of the sprawling agricultural complex and a tall man dressed in a white robe. The figure in the tape, which was leaked in 2004, was believed to be Osama bin Laden. Tarnak Farm was not attacked in part because it would’ve taken hours for a cruise missile to arrive. In the late 1990s, the US military began to rely increasingly on unarmed, unmanned surveillance aircraft, mainly the MQ-1 Predator Drone, to undertake surveillance operations in the Middle East. The Tarnak Farm incident in 2000 helped speed the already-underway weaponization of the Predator drone to launch Hellfire missiles. Newly armed, these drones, particularly the MQ-1 Predator and later the MQ-9 Reaper, quickly became an important weapon of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it has been under the Obama administration that drones have become the weapon of choice in the War on Terror. Since the first CIA drone strike in 2002, drones have enabled operations that would have been difficult with manned aircraft. Their long endurance means that drones can spy on a target for far longer than a manned bomber, which means a greater chance of identifying a target and finding a situation where he or she can be taken out with minimal collateral damage. The lack of a pilot also means that there is no risk to American personnel, and thus that drone strikes are easier to stomach politically. A turf war between the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (each of which operates its own, parallel drone program), coupled with the relative political expediency of using drones, has led the Obama administration to continually expand drone strikes. But the ease of conducting such operations has become one of the technology’s greatest downfalls. The expediency of using a drone to take out a target has helped make the “capture ” part of “capture/kill” missions a rare occurrence. 13 | Berkeley Political Review

This is a problem because captures are critical the counterterrorism operations. CIA Director John Brennan, back when he was Homeland Security advisor, admitted, “whenever it is possible to capture a suspected terrorist, it is the unqualified preference of the administration to take custody of that individual so we can obtain information that is vital to the safety and security of the American people.” The numbers, unfortunately, do not bear out Brennan’s statement: documents leaked to The Intercept reveal that capture missions made up only 25% of missions undertaken in the Horn of Africa – and all captures were by foreign forces. This is a problem, according to Lt. Gen. Flynn, the former chief of intelligence for JSOC, who argues, “You cannot conduct counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, or counter-guerrilla operations without having effective interrogation operations…Without the ability to capture or interrogate, your effectiveness when conducting counterterrorism operations can be cut in half, if not even lower than that, and that’s the challenge that we face.” An internal Pentagon study obtained by The Intercept seems to agree, arguing that capture operations should be expanded. Further, a lack of captures appears to contribute to one of the drone program’s biggest operational challenges – a lack of intelligence. Drone strikes often forced rely on questionable intelligence. One of the most popular tools for tracking would-be terrorists is by tracking phones or using other SIGINT (signals intelligence) methods. According to the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force, a Pentagon organization, the SIGINT capabilities in many drone operations areas are “poor” and “limited” and often comes from foreign partners rather than the US’s own sources. A confidential Intercept source notes that, “There’s countless instances where I’ve come across intelligence that was faulty…It’s stunning the number of instances when selectors [electronically identifying markers such as phone numbers or emails] are misattributed to certain people. And it isn’t until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot

CALIFORNIA target, you wind up realizing it was his mother’s phone the whole time.” Nonetheless, more than half the intelligence used to track targets in Somalia and Yemen came from such sources. The over-reliance on SIGINT could be mitigated by improving human intelligence (HUMINT) sources, who have direct knowledge of events on the ground. But that can only happen if the U.S. is willing to undertake more capture operations. While the administration argues that drone strikes are only used in situations where capture is not feasible, this standard has increasingly come under fire. Jennifer Daskal, of American University and formerly of the DoJ, questions, “What does it mean for capture not to be feasible? How hard do you have to try?” The capture of Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, a Texas-born man accused of being an Al Qaeda operative who was nearly targeted two years earlier in a drone strike, belies the administration’s stance that capture missions are simply not feasible. The fallout from the 2011 strike on American citizen and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki led the administration to hesitate issuing a kill order on another American citizen, but evidently capture was still possible. Further, the 2011 raid on the compound of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan seems to indicate that capture operations are at least in some cases still very much a possibility if the target appears to be worth the extra effort and risk. America was willing to violate Pakistani sovereignty to secretly deploy ground forces when the target was bin Laden, and the gamble paid off. In the case of Mr. Farekh, the administration was willing to delay a kill operation to potentially capture the target later. Taking a calculated risk and engaging in more of such operations would improve the ability of American intelligence to identify and track important targets. However, intelligence gathering is not the only reason to reign in the drone program. Unfortunately, those on the “kill list” are not the only ones killed in drone strikes. According to documents obtained by The Intercept, being placed on the kill list is a fairly involved process that goes all the way up to President Obama himself. But collateral damage is a common occurrence. The military marks anyone killed in a drone strike as “enemy killed in action (EKIA)” even if they were not specifically targeted, unless there is some exonerating evidence. The exact number of deaths is unknown but an average of estimates finds that 522 strikes have led to 3852 deaths, 476 of which were civilians. However, it is unclear how many of these enemy combatants match the Obama administration’s characterization of drone strikes as reserved for mainly high-level targets posing a “continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons.” The Intercept documents paint a particularly grim picture. There were 16 people in Yemen that President Obama authorized JSOC to kill, but the Bureau of Investigative Journalism counted more than 200 deaths. Improving intelligence sources could help eliminate some of these casualties. One recent strike accidentally killed two western hostages. The Guardian notes that the killing of a single target can sometimes involve multiple missed strikes, and that these misses often result in civilian casualties. Requiring a higher level of certainty before initiating a strike would help reduce civilian casualties. Further, in addition to hunting targets on the kill list, the US is known to undertake “signature strikes”, operations which target military-age individuals exhibiting suspicious behavior but whom drone operators have no specific intelligence about. Such strikes appear to be particularly high risk: earlier this year, a captured American aid worker was accidentally killed in a signature strike. The Guardian argues that, “Civilian deaths in signature strikes, accordingly, are not accidental. They are, as [Congressman Adam] Schiff framed it, more like a cost of doing business – only the real cost is shielded from the public.” A reduction in capture missions and poor intelligence have both contributed to civilian deaths from drones. While the Obama administration may be able to make a case for the individuals it Source:

specifically targets, the statistics on civilian casualties, at best, prove that the administration has yet to work out all the kinks. The signature strikes, in which a target is killed simply for suspicious movements, are particularly legally questionable and internationally damaging. Such liberal use of drones risks setting a dangerous precedent as the technology continues to proliferate to other countries. Anything less than an intensive targeting procedure risks giving dictators and autocratic regimes more legitimacy in using such technology indiscriminately or for political advantage. Drone strikes are often more precise than other methods (e.g. cruise missiles), resulting in fewer civilian casualties. But the new technology has also led the US to conduct strikes that it wouldn’t have in the past, making any net reduction in civilian deaths murky at best. Perhaps the greatest criticism of drones that can be leveled from a policy perspective is that the evidence for their effectiveness is equivocal at best. A U.S. Army War College study concludes that, “One reasonably consistent finding… is that drone strikes have little influence, positive or negative, on the amount of insurgent violence that occurs in Afghanistan. A more tentative conclusion…is that drone strikes that result in civilian deaths appear to have little relationship with subsequent insurgent violence. Another conclusion is that drone strikes that kill militants in Pakistan are associated with increases in subsequent insurgent violence in the country.” None of this is to say that drones are not useful. Indeed, drones have enabled operations that would have been difficult to conduct in the past. Their ability to provide persistent surveillance and to stealthily and accurately strike targets has made them one of the most important weapons in the War on Terror. However, while drones will continue to play a role in U.S. military strategy, the Obama administration tighter control and narrower mission parameters are necessary. With the effectiveness of drones as a counterinsurgency tool questionable at best, the administration will be challenged if it claims that the current levels of civilian casualties are a necessary evil. Poor intelligence and frequent civilian casualties argue for a more restricted view of when a drone strike is permissible. A rebalancing toward traditional tactics, with a greater focus on capture, may actually be net beneficial to US intelligence. More capture missions, while riskier, would help reduce the reliance on often-unreliable signals intelligence and hopefully reduce civilian casualties. Broadly, the US still has the opportunity to define the norms which will govern drones, but not for much longer. With at least eight other nations – China, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Britain, Nigeria, France, and South Africa – already in possession of drones, the the administration is running out of time to define standard drone strategy. Failure to do so risks establishing loose rules governing the use of drones. If drones are to fight terror, rather than be a part of it, careful rules will need to be established to make drones a highly regulated and targeted weapon. ■

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protections if the sexual abuse committed was life threatening or grievously harmful. These conditions fail to put women in a position of empowerment and strip women of their freedom of choice and consent. Third, marital rape is never explicitly defined. Correspondents Kanika Sharma and Aashish Gupta from The Hindu assert that “legal clarification will go a long way towards recognising and reducing the problem” of sexual assault within families. Finally, the greatest cause of the failure of the Domestic Violence Act is that 40 percent of Indian women are unaware of the law’s existence and even Millions of Indian women still have no social or legal voice against marital rape.Source: Flickr more do not know of its protections. Consequently, today, the number yoti Singh was brutally gang raped on of women who have been raped by their December 16, 2012. The assault against this husbands in India is 40 times that of the women 23-year-old New Delhi resident suddenly put who have been raped by a stranger. In the National India’s laws against sexual assault under Family Health Survey conducted from 2005-2006, a global spotlight, exposing their serious 10 percent of 124,385 women surveyed from 29 defects. Within the next 56 days, Prime Minister states reported that their husbands had physically Manmohan Singh signed off on a landmark forced them to have sex. However, only 1 percent package addressing sexual violence. For the first of all such cases are reported to authorities. A 27time, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill of 2013, year old, Delhi-based executive became part of established a definition of rape within India’s legal this 1 percent in February 2015. With the support code and declared a strict prison sentence to of lawyers at the Human Rights Law Network, this anyone who committed it. woman stood before the Supreme Court of India Despite its progressive nature, the bill did with a petition to criminalize marital rape. But the not criminalize marital rape or assault of any kind. court quickly dismissed the case, with Justices AR Section 375 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Dave and R Banumathi telling the woman “You Bill of 2013 states that “sexual intercourse or are espousing a personal cause and not a public sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the cause…This is an individual case.” wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not The rigidity of the Indian legislature and rape.” Marital rape is among the leading offenses judiciary’s stance on marital rape stems from to women’s rights worldwide. While gathering cultural expectations of the role of women, definitive statistics about marital rape with a small traditional beliefs about the purpose of sex, margin of error is difficult, a study conducted by and existing laws that fail to acknowledge and the World Health Organization reports that at least criminalize marital rape. 10 percent but as many as 69 percent of women Because most men and women in India still across the world admit to having been physically believe that wives should be subservient to their assaulted by an intimate male partner, yet at least husbands, the concept of “marital rape” itself is 39 countries still do not criminalize spousal rape. inconsistent with the common perception of the While several social rights activists have purpose of sex in marriage. Traditional Hindu protested against this crucial gap in Indian law, ideals of a wife actually state that marriage is a others claim that the protections already provided woman’s ultimate destiny and that she should to victims of domestic sexual assault in the devote herself to sharing mutual support with Domestic Violence Act of 2005 are sufficient. her husband and bringing children into the world. The act gives victims of domestic sexual abuse While sex is not taboo in ancient Hindu scriptures, access to civil remedies such as assistance in Mumbai-based psychologist Deepak Kashyap filing for divorce, medical attention, monetary asserts that “India is not able to differentiate compensation, and custody orders in regards to between sex for purpose and sex for pleasure; the victim’s children. sex should only be for purpose. And you are duty However, the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 bound to give children and you are duty bound to is unsatisfactory for four key reasons. First, it does have sex with your husband.” not punish spouses for their actions. Instead of Even if her husband treats her poorly, the proactively confronting and limiting marital rape, wife carries the duty to preserve the marriage at it simply provides a reactionary opportunity of all costs. Currently, according to a National Family escape. Second, it only offers the aforementioned Health Survey conducted in 2005-6, 65 percent


15 | Berkeley Political Review

of men and 54 percent of women believe that wife beating is justified. Furthermore, according to surveys conducted by World Opinion, only 41 percent of Indians believe equality for women is very important, and just 23 percent think the government should do more for women. Although, attitudes are gradually shifting with urbanization and the youth, Ajay Singh, author of the International Center for Research’s International Men and Gender Equality Survey, states that “It seems that men acknowledge an overall cultural change happening around genderbased violence, but have not yet internalized this change into their personal behaviors.” Given this cultural environment, the current Minister of State for Home Affairs in Government of India, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary wrote to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament that “the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context,” because it has never been considered to the same extent as wrong or unusual. In essence, Chaudhary argued that the culturally defined duty of a wife to preserve the sanctity of marriage has always superseded her protection from marital violence. He added that these cultural and socio-economic factors therefore prevent India from criminalizing marital rape. Criminalizing marital rape would redefine the role of a wife and drastically change the framework of family for many, putting “the entire family system under great stress.” The current provisions in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 do not sufficiently empower women and do not punish male perpetrators of spousal sexual abuse. Making marital rape criminal in India would require major amendments in the two laws mentioned above or a precedent-setting jurisdiction of a Supreme Court case. However, neither of these will happen without a major, people-driven shift. Until expectations of a wife do not expand to allow her to make her own choices, and until India’s idea of the purpose of sex can be freed from its people’s understanding of duty, little change can be expected in criminalizing marital rape, legislatively or culturally. While prospects for this change in the near future seem low, India does show more promise for criminalizing marital rape than China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and the 35 other countries where marital rape is not a criminal offense. In producing the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill of 2013, just 56 days after the Delhi Gang Rape, India demonstrated that it holds the democratic zeal and capacity to respond to crisis in a major way. Perhaps it will take India another national tragedy to seriously reevaluate general attitudes towards spousal rape and reconsider its current marital rape laws. ■


Breaking the Chains of Brazilian Slavery HOW BRAZILIAN CORPORATIONS EXPLOIT THE POOR



n 2010, João Luis do Nascimento was considered a modern day slave. By any standard, the 59-year-old father of eight’s experiences working in a sawmill were atrocious and appalling, but as a slave for four decades, these were normal conditions for him. Years would go by without pay while working brutal hours. He was provided no more than a handful of rice and an egg a day; the lack of food was so acute that there would be days where he could not stand because his legs trembled too much to support his body. While working at the mill, his hands would be cut down to the bone as he often worked more than twenty hours a day with no gloves or helmet. He would bathe and drink with dozens of pigs in a pig pen. After his escape from the mill where he risked his life to run through the jungle and eventually hitchhiked home, Nascimento still has not been paid the mere $1,188 in legal compensation awarded in his case. Sadly, his story is not unique. According to most estimates, around 21 million people around the world are victims of forced labor. These statistics are based on nongovernmental estimations based of the United Nations’ definition of slavery being “debt bondage, serfdom, forced marriage and the delivery of a child for the exploitation of that child.” This broad definition includes multiple types of slavery that take place in the 21st century, often in developing regions of the world. Bonded or forced labor takes place either when workers are tricked into predatory loans that leave them permanently indebted and forced to work to pay off their debt, or when they are forced to labor under threat of violence to themselves or their families. Descentbased slavery often results from older cultural traditions where people born in a family traditionally of a “slave” or lesser class are forced to labor without compensation or are abused. Child and adult trafficking takes place in order to exploit individuals for sex, domestic service, labor and more. Finally, early or forced marriage involves women forced into abusive and exploitive relationships for sex, domestic labor and childbearing. Though there are different variations in modern day slavery, often these various categories are all intertwined in the trafficking business and occur simultaneously. Brazil has about 200,000 people working as modern day slaves and has difficulty tackling the widely prevalent and highly publicized activity. Legally, Brazil often does not meet international standards and laws against modern day slavery, forced labor and human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, Brazil’s laws “do not fully comply with even the international minimum standard for trafficking in persons.” Brazilian law does not consider coercive contracts, which essentially trick and exploit workers into permanent debt bondage or threaten deportation, to be a crime. Even when charges of exploitation, abuse, and slavery are brought to court, corruption in the legal system and loopholes make it difficult for cases to actually make it to trial. The judicial system in Brazil takes around five years for decisions to be rendered and as a result, most judges have the ability to dismiss any case since most cases of human trafficking have to be resolved within a tight window of time. Worsening the problem, legislation drafted in the Brazilian congress would make forced labor and exploitation even easier. According to an insider report by Al-Jazeera, these new laws would allow companies to outsource all activities to third parties. This would allow large corporations to hire such groups to recruit and exploit human beings as slaves while distancing themselves from the practice; potentially “opening the floodgates to more abuse.” Another law being reviewed by the Brazilian congress would narrow the scope of what constitutes slavery in the 2014 constitutional amendment, which states the government can confiscate property if Source: NPR

owners are found using slave labor. Specifically, this change would eliminate “degrading conditions” and “overwork” from the definition of slavery. Beyond limiting the government’s power to punish those who use exploitative labor practices, the limiting of the definition of slavery opens up room for companies to subject their workers to atrocious working and living conditions while acting with impunity. In response to these proposed laws, Sao Paulo state Deputy Carlos Bezerra Jr wrote last year that the intention of the law is to eliminate the legal fight against slavery in Brazil, and that only medieval conditions of exploitation would be classified as slave labor, while those who are responsible for such transgressions would be safe under the law. Though activists are working tirelessly to protest these new laws, the corporate influence on Brazil’s government is unmistakably making their work much harder. Corporate lobbyists, including those from the Vale Mining Corporation, the world’s third largest mining company valued at 38 billion dollars, successfully lobbied Brazil’s Supreme Court to eliminate a public list used to shame corporations that utilize slave labor. Another of the major lobbying groups was the Brazilian Association of Real Estate Developers, which includes the largest mining corporations in Brazil, several of whom are accused of employing slave labor. By petitioning the elimination of these practices, the corporate mining interests removed financial sanctions that would have forced many large banks to withdraw funding. Members of Brazil’s government have also been involved in slavery. Armando Neto, Brazil’s minister for development, industry and foreign trade, was caught in five separate instances of employing slave labor through his family’s labor firm. On a larger scale, UN Special Reporter Gulnara Shahinian reported that she had received confidential information about senior officials who had been directly involved with employing slave labor. Frustrating activists’ efforts to enact change through the legislature is the shifting makeup of Brazil’s congress, which after the congressional elections of late 2014 became increasingly filled with pro-business and pro-landowner legislators who are working to roll back the advances made against labor exploitation. Even with Brazil’s pro-labor forces working as hard as they can, they face tremendous legal, political and economic opposition. Without a strict national agenda to tackle such problems, Brazil cannot fight its large corporations that continue to employ slaves and exploit workers. Ultimately, as stories like that of João Luis do Nascimento continue to attract attention and generate outrage, activists hope that that the tragedy and suffering experienced by thousands in Brazil’s poorest regions will cause international organizations to lend a sympathetic ear and will move enough people to lead a grassroots movement to abolish slavery in Brazil. ■

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Xenophobic ideology is not new to politics. It is, however, relatively new to Venezuela, which has been one of the more welcoming South American countries to immigrants throughout the second half of the 20th century. On August 19, 2015, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced “Operation Liberation of the People” (OLP). Since then, over 1,500 Colombians have been officially deported from Venezuela, more than 18,000 have left voluntarily, and thousands more were packing their belongings as of mid-September — lugging refrigerators, suitcases, and furniture — and fleeing back to their homeland. Maduro has closed border crossings and declared a “state of emergency” along Venezuela’s western border with Colombia, permitting warrantless searches and banning protests in border municipalities. Along with the deployment of the military to deport paperless Colombians, these measures are an attempt to rid Venezuela of the illegal Colombians who he blames for Venezuela’s economic woes. Although Venezuela still refuses to reverse its decision to seal off much of the 1,400-mile (2,200 km) border, Maduro and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos did agree to gradually normalize relations after peace talks on September 21, 2015.

This blanket scapegoating of a national group is eerily reminiscent to major ethnic conflicts that have resulted in mass exile and murder including of Jews in Nazi Germany, or of ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda. It is also strangely familiar to recent American politics — specifically, to comments Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has made about Mexican immigrants: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems…. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” said Trump on July 16, when announcing his presidential candidacy. Despite the fact that Maduro has strongly criticized Donald Trump, decrying the tycoon as a bandit, a thief, and mentally ill, Maduro’s actions are worse than Trump’s words. The comparison was first made by the Venezuelan Program for Education and Action in Human Rights (Provea), who declared Maduro a “Caribbean Donald Trump.” “His policies are xenophobic and they break with Venezuela’s tradition of welcoming immigrants,” Inti Rodriguez, a Provea spokesman. “These deportations also resemble strategies implemented by governments in the 1980’s where police tried to stop crime by massively detaining people in the slums.” Ever since, the comparison has exploded on social media:

Collage of the 2015 Venezuela-Colombia Migrant CrisisSource: Wikimedia Commons

“First you apply the tourniquet to stop the bleeding and then you cure the wound. This will protect our people from the attacks of paramilitaries, smugglers and drug traffickers,” Maduro announced in a televised address to the public. “I’m not offending Colombia, I’m just telling a truth…From Colombia, all of the poverty and misery is coming over with a people who are escaping for economic needs and fleeing war,” he continued. 17 | Berkeley Political Review

Translation: “The only difference between #Trump and #Maduro is the hair color.” Source: Twitter

CALIFORNIA soaring inflation has hurt the government’s popularity. In order to regain public approval, Maduro has scapegoated over five million Colombians living in Venezuela, who make up 15% of the population. The majority of Colombians living in Venezuela immigrated for economic reasons, as Venezuela generally has a lower unemployment rate, a favorable exchange rate, and low cost of state-subsidized goods. Alongside economic reasons, many Colombians flee the guerilla and paramilitary warfare, drug trafficking, and contraband mafia violence. The irony is that Maduro is trying to rid his country of the very people who have tried to escape the same problems he claims to be fighting. Illegal Colombian immigrants are now being forced out of Venezuela with, at most, 72 hour notice. Houses spray-painted with a “D” are designated for demolition, and residents are often evacuated without food, water, their belongings, or their families. Santos denounced the mass deportations as human rights abuses, and has set up camps to receive the incoming refugees. The lure of scapegoating Just as America’s economic woes and social troubles are too often blamed on illegal Mexican immigrants, who mainly immigrate to improve their personal economic livelihood, Venezuela is blaming their skyrocketing inflation, food shortages, and rising unemployment on Colombian immigrants. Both Mexican immigrants in the United States and Colombian immigrants in Venezuela are being forced out in the respective countries, left without their belongings and separated from their families, albeit in very different manners. Similarly, just as anti-Mexican immigration arguments oversimplify the deeper structural and institutional problems in both the U.S. and Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia will both need to come to terms with their unstable economies, rampant crime, drug trafficking, and smuggling. Addressing these problems by targeting an ethnic group, when taken to extreme proportions has been proven again and again to be extremely dangerous. If Nicolas Maduro’s actions are in fact the real-life representation of Donald Trump’s words, perhaps he should take a real lesson from Translation: “The immigrants of ______ (insert country) only bring violence and crime...” the Trumpian school of thought and start buying some concrete, hire a #madurotrump #xenophobe”. Source: Twitter construction team, and get on that wall. With the agreement to normalize relations, it seems like he will not follow this path to extremism. Hopefully, he will instead take a lesson from history, and see that scapegoating is not, has A Historical Perspective Relations have been sub-par between Venezuela and Columbia ever never been, and will never be, the answer. ■ since the early 1800s, when Simon Bolivar’s plan for La Gran Colombia — a united Latin America, which held the two countries as one — fell through. Since then, they have drifted apart ideologically and politically. Tensions have increased in recent years over a number of different issues, including Colombia’s accusation that Venezuela has been harboring members of the communist and terrorist rebel army The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The relationship is characterized by constant diplomatic disagreements, especially over disputed maritime borders in the Gulf of Venezuela. The current crisis started in August after a confrontation between Venezuelan border police and smugglers who buy subsidized staples at dirtcheap prices in Venezuela then resell them in Colombia for huge profits. In response, Maduro closed border crossings on August 19, saying he wanted to stem the flow of smuggled goods from Venezuela. Since then, both countries have recalled their respective ambassadors and have accused unauthorized aircrafts of violating each other’s airspaces. Finally, on September 21, both presidents met in Quito, Ecuador in a summit brokered by Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, and the head of Unasur, a regional body of South American nations. A week later, on September 28, Maduro announced that he will allow the deported Colombians to return to Venezuela to legalize their status. However, it remains to be seen whether this announcement will be reflected in reality. “Stabilizing the Economy” Maduro’s ruthless and seemingly draconian attempt to ‘stabilize the economy’ is arguably an attempt to boost his appeal before the parliamentary elections in December. Although Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party currently enjoys a majority in the National Assembly, the widespread shortages and Berkeley Political Review | 18


The Plight of Indonesian Domestic Workers in Hong Kong HOW EMPLOYMENT LAWS SILENCE THE VULNERABLE



he term “domestic helper” conjures images of a devoted caretaker who enlivens a family’s home. But for Indonesian domestic helpers, who have been coming to Hong Kong since the 1990s to work and send money back to their families, and comprise nearly half of Hong Kong’s 329,325 domestic workers, employment in these dream apartments has become a nightmare. Behind locked doors, extreme abuse can occur, forcing workers to surrender their privacy, health, security, and safety. Furthermore, this is a living nightmare that they cannot escape, since workers cannot leave the house or quit their job without jeopardizing their already precarious financial and legal status.

“She was forced to work 21 hours a day, and was constantly beaten, burned with boiling water, and locked up against her will” Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a 23-year-old Indonesian migrant worker, became the burned and bruised face of this movement when she came forward after months of torture by her employer. She was forced to work 21 hours a day, and was constantly beaten, burned with boiling water, and locked up against her will. Her window for freedom only came because she was no longer physically able to work, and so her employer, herself a mother of two, deserted her at the airport with a return ticket to Indonesia. According to human rights experts, Sulistyaningsih’s is not an isolated case; she is a part of an extensive web of human trafficking and abuse that is often very difficult to detect aside from those rare cases when workers courageously speak up. One of the reasons so few maids report their cases is because they are bound in a legal Catch-22. In Hong Kong, foreign maids who file a pending case alleging abuse from their employer are not allowed to work for at least six to eight months. This makes it more difficult for women to pay the exorbitant fees of the Indonesian recruitment agencies that arranged their employment. Since these domestic worker agencies are the only option for foreign employment, they can afford to exploit their customers by making them pay unreasonable fees and neglecting their allegations of employer abuse. Hong Kong law caps employment agency fees at 52 USD, but according to Amnesty International, 85 percent of Indonesian helpers end up paying fees of about 2,709 USD. These fees include “training and recruitment” fees, which can weigh in at more than half the monthly minimum wage of 517 USD for Hong Kong domestic workers, which many do not even receive. Even if Indonesian maids pay their agency fees in a timely manner, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee the agencies will honor their agreement, because they often manipulate customers’ debt to accuse them of not repaying their loans, thereby obligating maids to pay more over a longer period of time. Agencies also illegally confiscate customers’ documents: according to a survey conducted by the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU), 64 percent of respondents said their employment agency had confiscated documents, such as passports, prior to their departure to Hong Kong. They could only retrieve their documents once the agency claims their customers’ debt has been fully repaid. These maids face the onus not just of illegally inflated financial obligations from their employment agency, but also of inadequate pay from their employers. Amnesty International estimates that in Hong Kong, 40,000 Indonesian women are not receiving the legal minimum salary. Yet, given their precarious legal situation, from May 2010 to 2012, a mere 342 cases of underpayment to domestic helpers were filed in Hong Kong. They are also further restricted by two Hong Kong laws applied specifically to foreign maids: the live-in law and the two-week rule, which can create extreme economic dependence for the maids towards their employers, who manipulate this dependence to put maids in a state of abject misery. 19 | Berkeley Political Review

According to the non-profit Mission for Migrant Workers, a quarter of 3,000 foreign maids surveyed about the live-in law did not feel safe in their sleeping spaces, which are usually kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways. The two-week rule mandates that if foreign domestic helpers lose their jobs, they need to find the same form of employment within two weeks, otherwise they must depart Hong Kong, or else risk deportation or imprisonment. This reinforces the silence around the abusive culture surrounding domestic helpers. These laws restrict maids’ ability to leave their employment situation, which leaves them vulnerable to employer abuse such as starvation. Erwiana Sulistyaningsih weighed approximately 110 lbs when arriving in Hong Kong; eight months later, she weighed half that. Other employers have taken more cruel and unusual punishments: a maid named Kartika Puspitasari was tied to a chair with no food or water and forced to wear adult diapers when her employers took their children on vacation to Thailand. Her employers also beat her with a bicycle chain and scalded her on the face and arms with a hot iron. After she escaped and reported her employers, they received a five-anda-half year prison sentence for being guilty of eight charges, including assault and wounding with intent. A major discrepancy exists between maids’ daily experiences and officially reported maid abuse cases. Hong Kong’s police chief Andy Tsang described maid abuse as “very rare:” an annual average of 30 to 40 reported cases of wounding and serious assault per year. However, the same live-in law survey of more than 3,000 maids states that 58 percent reported verbal abuse, 18 percent reported physical abuse and 6 percent reported sexual abuse. It is particularly ironic that the Hong Kong and Indonesian governments have not done more to eradicate the problem of domestic helper abuse, because both have ratified several international conventions on gender and labor rights, such as the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Although such agreements dictate that participating governments are obligated to suppress and penalize all types of trafficking and forced labor, neither government has taken punitive action against these recruiting and employment firms. Amnesty International believes government inaction occurs because existing domestic laws are specifically designed to weaken domestic helpers’ rights, and therefore run at odds with international conventions. The UN and the Indonesian government have made announcements regarding domestic worker reform, but these have not had a tangible effect. In the past two decades, several UN bodies have called for the review of repeal of the two-week rule and the live-in law in Hong Kong, to little avail. The Indonesian government did take one noticeable step in February this year in response to Erwiana’s case. In requesting that the national congress implement a gradual “overseas maid ban,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated, “The practice of Indonesian women going overseas to work as housemaids must stop immediately. We should have pride and dignity.” However, no time frame was given, and it is not clear whether the declaration was only for the cameras. Amnesty International has called upon the Indonesian government to hold recruitment agencies more accountable to existing legislature by giving customers written contracts and clearly structured receipts for recruiting fees. Agencies should be subjected to unannounced inspections, and those that break the rules should be sanctioned. It has also requested that the Hong Kong government expand the two-week rule to include the four-tosix week time window it takes for domestic helpers to find a new visa once unemployed and to offer them alternative housing options besides the live-in law. Until more stringent regulations are established in both countries, the existing domestic helper population in Hong Kong will continue to suffer. ■



Source: The Atlantic


raqi army officers made two attempts on the life of the country’s prime minister, Haider Al-Abadi, before being thwarted by the US Embassy in Baghdad, according to a high-level Iraqi official. This is the latest symptom of the ongoing radicalization and sectarian violence that has plagued post-2003 Iraq. The roots of ISIS’ rise can be found in the disempowerment of the Sunni tribes at the hands of the Shiite-led government. Despite substantial support from the international community, Iraq continues to struggle under the ISIS menace. Only reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis and Shiites can lead to the purging of ISIS and the prevention of the rise of similar groups in Iraq. The two factions’ radically different political ideologies too often manifest themselves in violent conflict which threatens the stability of the country. These differences stem from the Shiites’ refusal to grant local political authority to the Sunni tribes from the province of Anbar, and the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, let alone representation in national governance. This trend of Sunni political exclusion heightened after Nouri al-Maliki’s election to a second term as prime minister in 2010. Critically, this exclusion has left no choice for the Sunni tribes in Anbar province other than joining ISIS to protect their tribal control. Thus, Iraq’s lack of national cohesion has made it harder for the country to deal with the current crises inflaming the region. Looking forward, the UN Secretary-General special representative to Iraq, Jan Kubis, explained that unity and cooperation between the Sunni tribes, the Shiite-led government and all members of Iraqi society is essential to successfully counter ISIS. Political outlook in Iraq The political instability in Iraq is exacerbated by a lack of consensus among the major political blocs about how the country should be governed – a situation which has its roots in the Erbil Agreement. This agreement, which was discussed in 2010 between Masoud Barzani, president of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan, former Iraqi

prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, the leader of the dominant Islamic Dawa party, and Iyad Allawi, the leader of the Iraqi National Accord party, if implemented, would have reduced the powers of the prime minister. Instead, Maliki consolidated his power over the Kurdish and Sunni political blocks, which have since been unable to win the necessary majorities to contest his power. This consolidation of power over the Kurds and Sunnis reduces Iraq’s ability to develop such policies as a strong national military, which could keep the country stable and prevent another power vacuum. President Fuad Masum appointed a Sunni and a Shiite to head the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior, respectively, following his presidential election in 2014. Haider al-Abadi, after being appointed in 2014 as prime minister, also declared that uniting Iraq would be a political priority, and that he will work to develop a government that represents Iraqis of all ideologies and creeds equally. Abadi’s commitment to resolving Iraq’s sectarian strife — which he will accomplish “even if [he] get[s] assassinated by it,” to use his words — is a welcome change from his predecessor’s schismatic rhetoric. On March 1, Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jubouri said that the doors of reconciliation are open to everyone “except [those] who collaborated with [ISIS].” On March 2, 2015, Iyad Allawi noted that, “a true reconciliation should include all parties except for the ones who have Iraqi blood on their hands.” These statements, aimed at decreasing sectarian tension, and could ally many Sunni tribes with the Shiite government rather than ISIS. Corruption has also proved to be a constant difficulty in Iraq. In an interview with the New York Times, President Masum highlighted the need for both political and religious reforms, admitting that rampant corruption has even crept into the army. However, the appointment of Haider al-Abadi in 2014 promises improvement on this front. As prime minister, he laid out a sevenpoint plan on August 8, requiring a number of senior government positions — previously filled by partisan officials shrouded in allegations of corruption — to be filled with political technocrats with no party affiliations. These proposed reforms followed anti-government protests, which were sparked by unreliable electricity and allegations of corruption at all levels of the country. One day before the reforms were announced, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani – Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric – also urged Abadi to “strike with an iron fist” against corruption, and to make political appointments based on ability, rather than party or sectarian affiliation. Abadi’s reforms also call for a reduction in the cost of officials’ personal bodyguards (which for some officials number over 1000) and a restructuring and budget increase for

Iraq’s national security forces. Iraq’s Parliament unanimously passed the measures in August, taking a major step towards curbing corruption. However, this has by no means solved the larger issue of uniting the country across its tribal divides. Reconciling the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraqi society The country has intensified its attempts at national reconciliation. Notably, Iraq has sent diplomats to countries that have faced similar sectarian problems, with the aim of finding ways to speed the reconciliation process. According to the Irish Times, former national Iraqi government advisor Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, called the mission an “eye-opener.” He noted, however, that just as it took Northern Ireland a considerable amount of time to reconcile their differences with the British, Sunni-Shiite peace in Iraq would be a gradual process. For the sake of national unity, Al-Rubaie said that the government was ready to meet with representatives of all Iraqi insurgencies, excluding only “diehard Saddamists” and Al-Qaeda. Imposing too many preconditions, Al Rubaie said, would hinder the government’s efforts. Iraqi tribes have already proven that they are capable of uniting against a common enemy. In 2007, Sunni tribes in central and western Iraq turned against the Al-Qaeda fighters and cooperated with the Shiite government. This sort of cooperation, that in the past has mended sectarianism and created progress against the prominent terrorist organizations, is now more important than ever in Iraq’s endeavor to destroy ISIS. Similarly, after the fall of Mosul in June 2014, Ayatollah al-Sistani urged the Iraqi people, regardless of religion (Sunni, Shiite, and Christian), to rally against ISIS by joining the Popular Mobilization Force. Thus, the Popular Mobilization Force lost its explicitly Shiite image and was placed under the control of the prime minister. Both these examples demonstrate the possibility of national reconciliation in Iraq. Reconciliation at the national level rests on respect and cooperation between individuals, tribal blocks and the ruling government. In other words, every citizen should have freedom of speech, thought and representation. Reconciliation rests on differing opinions as a part of a national dialogue. Moreover, national reconciliation will require skilled leadership and a loyal citizenry. Democracy, strongly enforced laws, shared cultural symbols and equal distribution of resources, will all aid Iraqi citizens to identify as Iraqi. Critical collaboration across tribal divides, combined with support from both the Iraqi government and international governments and agencies – such as the United States – will allow Iraq to defeat ISIS. And indeed, Iraq has no option other than to defeat ISIS if it wants to maintain its sovereignty and guarantee the humanitarian, political and economic rights of its citizenry. There is, however, much yet to be done. ■

Berkeley Political Review | 20


The Silent Plea of America’s Working Mothers A CASE FOR PAID MATERNITY LEAVE



n the U.S., the fight for women’s rights in the workplace has come a long way. In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, protecting women’s rights to be paid equal wages as men. In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed, banning workplace discrimination based on pregnancy. In 2015, King v. Burwell upheld the right for women to receive contraception from their employers through the Affordable Care Act. Slowly, but surely, America progressed towards greater protection of women’s rights to equal pay, motherhood, and good health. Nonetheless, the majority of working women in the U.S. must sacrifice at least one of these rights if they choose to become mothers. Unlike the rest of the world, the U.S. risks new mothers’ health and financial security by not requiring paid maternity leave. In the U.S., only four states—California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island—offer publicly funded paid maternity leave. For women that don’t live in these four states, the only way to receive any kind of paid maternity leave is to work for a company that offers it as a part of its benefits package. Elite employers like Google, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs offer generous paid leave as a way to attract and retain top female talent; but these are rare exceptions, not the rule. The vast majority of working women in the United States are faced with a binary choice after giving birth: either take unpaid time off and risk financial insecurity or go back to work without taking any time for post-birth recovery.

By: Kazumi Iwase

From a global perspective, this dependence on the private sector to provide paid maternity leave is truly an anomaly. According to the 2014 statistics from the International Labor Organization, the United States and Papua New Guinea are the only two countries in the world that offer no legal protection of paid maternity leave. On the opposite end of the spectrum, all working women in Sweden are entitled to 14 weeks of paid leave, during which they receive a whopping 80 percent of their salary. In the Netherlands, new mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of paid leave, during which they are paid 100 percent of their salary. Thus, with the U.S.’s current policy, or rather the lack thereof, single and lower-income mothers are thrown under the bus. For these women, taking unpaid time off topples their families’ economic stability. Therefore, given no other choice, they prematurely return to work without an adequate postpartum recovery period. RH Reality Check tells some horrifying stories: in order to make ends meet, Elle Kay returned to work with a third-degree tear from her clitoris to her cervix. After taking a mere seven days of recovery 21 | Berkeley Political Review

from a C-section and postpartum preeclampsia, Alana Adams returned to work spending 10 hours a day on her feet as an EMT. Sadly, this is old news. Over the course of many years, numerous researchers and health organizations have found that the lack of paid maternity leave exposes new mothers to postpartum depression, clinical stress, and suboptimal breastfeeding at a higher rate. Additionally, a laundry list of negative health defects plagues lower-income working mothers, who tend to work more physically strenuous jobs. However, major opponents to paid maternity leave look at it not as a medical necessity but as a business cost. Smaller scale companies and businesses argue that they simply cannot afford to pay workers that are not working. Therefore, they argue, mandated paid leave would discourage these employers from hiring and promoting women because of the added cost. In a recent op-ed published by the Huffington Post, a Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina argued that yet another government mandate on small and community businesses would drive the American economy down. Yet in 2011, California’s Center for Economic and Policy Research conducted a study on its state implemented paid maternity leave program and found diametrically different results. The study concludes: “The business community’s concerns prior to passage of the [Paid Family Leave (PFL)] legislation, that it would impose extensive new costs on employers and involve a particularly serious burden for small businesses, were unfounded. After more than five years’ experience with PFL, the vast majority of employers reported that it has had minimal impact on their business operations.” 91 percent of employers—including small businesses—replied that the program had either a positive or no effect on profitability and overall business performance. Instead, small businesses may even qualitatively benefit from providing paid maternity leave. In her recent article, Mary Ellen Slater, the CEO of Reputation Capital, a five-person content marketing agency, stated that providing paid maternity leave required her company to budget, crosstrain, and plan ahead. By doing so, the company emerged with stronger management and higher efficiency. Most importantly, Slater noted that the company’s paid maternity leave policy was much more cost-effective than trying to replace the employee. However, the situation is different for businesses that employ low wage workers. Lower wage jobs tend to require less training and have an inelastic labor supply, a combination that makes the cost of providing paid maternity leave dramatically higher than the cost of simply replacing pregnant employees. Merely encouraging private provision of paid maternity leave will not guarantee it for all working women; rather, many lower-income women will continue to face the difficult choice between prematurely returning to work or risking financial insecurity and unemployment. At the very core, the issue shouldn’t be about costs; it should be about social welfare. With a dearth of federally mandated paid maternity leave, the United States tells women through its policies to choose between their right to work, to have children, and to maintain their health. If the current state continues, access and protection of all three of these basic human rights will remain a luxury for women in the American workforce. Therefore, the most effective provision of paid maternity leave for all working women will require a law that protects their rights to receive it. Workers’ rights are not guaranteed because they increase business profits. They are guaranteed because protection of all workers from exploitation, discrimination, and unsafe working conditions are deemed important and just. The issue of paid maternity leave is a similar test of our values, and it’s time to act on this issue as a collective society. ■


A Big Deal




here is something inherently alarming about a government (rebranded Cerezyme) now costs approximately $200,000. Melissa Landau organizing a “secret” deal, especially one that has the potential to Steinman, a 41 year old mother, reported to Forbes that she was forced to negatively impact the lives of its own citizens. While this might sound purchase the medicine during pregnancy after being diagnosed with Gaucher like an extreme statement, it is surprisingly applicable to the Trans Pacific disease. Her life continues to be defined and tormented by this inconvenience. Partnership, drafted on October 5th, 2015. The TPP is an agreement that In her own words: “The most stressful part of Gaucher has been worrying will standardize trade conditions for a colossal 40% of the world economy. about insurance issues. It’s such an expensive drug that though people pay While it is presented as a revenue booster for all governments involved, the for it you have to worry about things like am I going to exceed my lifetime deal’s clauses are bound to cause devastating inconveniences for average cap? Is all that I’ve worked for in my life been meaningless?” Regulatory citizens. One primary issue is the power that the TPP will award to large impositions on the pharmaceutical industry will cause Steinman’s situation pharmaceutical companies. Based on half-baked economic logic, patent to be far more common. Victims in developing countries with few resources contracts in favor of such companies will make medicines unaffordable for a and no social safety net may not be lucky enough to survive and tell the tale. big chunk of the global population. All in all, it is clear that the TPP has more Evidently, the implications of the TPP may literally make the difference to offer the large corporations that have been involved in its conception than between life or death for individuals struggling with illness. What is equally ordinary citizens. frightening is the manner in which it has been handled with respect to the The partnership’s member states include Australia, Brunei, Japan, and public. This is particularly relevant in the United States. The US government the United States, among other countries on the Pacific Rim. It is a huge has been involved in ongoing negotiations about the TPP for the last five undertaking in which all member nations will make agreements on a range years. Unfortunately, the public has only gotten glimpses at the deal through of policies. These decisions are not solely concerned with the elimination of Wikileaks. Even the United States Congress has had limited knowledge tariffs and other barriers to trade. Much like the European Union, the TPP of the proceedings. The logical question to ask is: who has really been will also define this new market by imposing new regulations–for example, involved? As Senator Ron Wyden put it in 2012, “The majority of Congress those regarding patent laws. This has come to be one of the defining issues is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while of the new agreement. The United States has advocated for pharmaceutical representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, companies to be able to hold patents on their innovations for up to twelve Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being years. While compromise is part of the process (and the twelve-year consulted and made privy to the details of the agreement.” It is undeniably provision likely will not end up being the case for everyone involved), the clear who is setting the agenda here, and it isn’t difficult to see who will get United States’ push for such measures is downright strange. It is nothing exactly what they want out of the partnership. The Obama Administration short of government pandering. Large pharmaceutical companies will hold has done a fantastic job of making every aspect of this deal controversial to monopoly power for years on end. As a result, they will be able to sell drugs the average citizen. President Obama pushed this further by signing a bill at exorbitantly expensive rates without worrying about cheaper generic that allowed him to “fast track” the relevant documents through Congress. versions being released. This is done under the guise of “innovation” – higher That is, Congress will have to vote on the TPP’s conditions without the profits for drug companies should allow for more research and development. ability to make amendments. However, this is dangerous logic for 40% of the world’s economy to base its On a positive note, there is a world of criticism out there on the TPP. policy on. Historically speaking, big pharmaceutical companies are inclined NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders have been skeptical about its to allocate research and development funds to causes that will maximize conditions for years. Protesters and petitioners have also organized rallies, profitability (not public utility). For example, as is stated in this piece from with indignant people chanting harsh truths such as “Fast Track = Death by the Economist, research and development is disproportionately directed Patent.” Nevertheless, this deal looks like a truly sad case in which obscure away from drugs that will have immediate physical impacts and more powers are going to continue acting out of their own self-interest. Presidential towards ambitious medicines that are unlikely to save lives (but will probably candidate Bernie Sanders, though politically divisive as a public figure, had continue to be purchased until a patient’s death). The International Business some words on the partnership that should hit home with everybody: “If Times supports this view. Supporters of the TPP may point to the idea that TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the an average of $2.6 billion dollars is required to get a drug approved and courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of into the market. What supporters fail to realize is how misleading such a keeping the content of the TPP a secret.” Only time will tell us the extent of number can be. They must take into account the irresponsible spending that the harm that the deal will do. For now, we can only look at it as a strange, drug companies have the leeway to engage in. This is simply what can occur elusive chapter in the Obama administration’s history. ■ in a capitalist monopoly, and of course it is in the best interest of such a firm to engage in these practices and extract as great a profit as possible. However, supporting such endeavors should not be the focus of government policy. Furthermore, the losers here are global. While the United States’ stringent patent laws have harmed American citizens in the past, this agreement will take that negative effect across the planet. For instance, citizens of Brunei, a country with no such protectionist policies, will also lose the ability to attain medicine that would otherwise have been far more accessible. The devastating effects of price hikes is a well-documented issue. The World Health Organization says that healthcare is a “fundamental human right,” yet price hikes force those with illnesses to enter and participate in a market transaction in order to survive. An example is Ceredase. Ceredase was released in 1991 as treatment for Gaucher disease, a condition under which lumps of fat can assemble in highly dangerous areas (such as the heart). A new version of Ceredase Source: AFP Berkeley Political Review | 22


Picket Signs Over Gavels



n the beginning of 2015, the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström, described the Saudi Arabian judicial system as “medieval”. Since then, she has been portrayed both as a culturally insensitive Islamophobe and as champion of human rights. The Guardian, for example, called her “magnificently undiplomatic.” But Margot Wallström is neither an Islamophobe nor is she a champion of human rights. She is also not “magnificently undiplomatic”, but rather ignorantly and detrimentally undiplomatic. The affair started as a result of the arrest and conviction of blogger Raif Badawi. The young blogger was arrested in 2012 and finally charged with 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam on his site “Free Saudi Liberals.” Foreign Minister Wallström consequently called the punishment of Raif Badawi “near medieval” in a meeting with a Saudi Arabian diplomat. As a result, Saudi Arabia removed its Ambassador from Stockholm, stopped issuing business visas to Swedish nationals, disinvited the minister from speaking at the Arab League and removed their support for Sweden’s bid to become a rotating member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation also condemned Wallström’s statements as anti-Islamic. Unable to stand behind the tactless minister, Sweden sent a special delegation to Riyadh with apology letters from the Swedish King and Prime Minister including an explanation that the foreign minister did not intend to criticize Islam. As a result, diplomatic relations have fortunately been restored, but Saudi Arabia’s support for Swedish UNSC membership remains withdrawn. There are two main flaws in Margot Wallström’s actions and statements regarding the issue, both of which highlight a wrongful turn in Swedish foreign relations. First is Wallström’s insistence that her statements were not a criticism of Islam and second is her inability to perform foreign policy cost benefit analyzes. In an interview with the Guardian, Wallström made the following statement: “No, I do not regret the medieval remark.” She stands by calling the legal framework of Saudi Arabia, based on Sharia law, “medieval.” In the game of political slander, such blanket statements, especially in relation to religion, are clumsy. Sharia law has widespread support among the 23 | Berkeley Political Review

conservative powers of the Middle East and elsewhere and since flogging is part of this system, her critique cannot be separated from critique of conservative Islam. It holds true that the minister has not criticized the Islamic faith itself, but she has criticized an aspect of its practice--a practice many hold to be fundamental to the faith. In trying to defend her statements Wallström thereby appears ignorant. So why would Wallström, an intelligent person, deny criticizing Islam and the inhumane practices many practitioners, especially among Saudi Arabian elites, support? Since, if she did not, she would be breaking the Western leftist tendency toward absolute cultural relativism. To avoid gaining enemies on the left, Wallström therefore practices a relativist rhetoric concerning culture in regards to human rights. As such, the denial tells the observer about Wallström’s underlying intentions – publicity. Wallström made her statements to promote her feminist foreign policy, in which human rights are the central unit of measurement. As a marketing stunt it has been remarkably effective but foreign policy is not dependent on marketing - it is not activism. Activists need as many supporters for their cause as possible. But in foreign policy, especially in dealing with a conservative Islamist nation, it doesn’t matter how many liberal left-wingers cheer you on – what matters is your ability to put real pressure on the people who can affect real change. Consequently, Wallström’s second major flaw is revealed – her inability to produce a sound cost benefit analysis. Yes, global attention turned towards Saudi Arabia’s horrible human rights record – but everyone already knows Saudi Arabia has a horrible human rights record, and Amnesty International has already spearheaded an international protest campaign. The argument of long-term positive result is thereby overruled. Failing to achieve positive results, it did, however, achieve negative ones. By marginalizing her own nation, Wallström inhibited Sweden from meaningfully championing human rights in the Middle East. If not for her statements, Wallström would have been able to speak at the Arab League and continued a dialogue regarding human rights. Sweden, with the support of the Arab world, would also have a much better chance of becoming a member of the UNSC, thereby having the opportunity to stand strong for human rights in the most powerful body of the United Nations. Foreign Minister Wallström has tried to hold the picket sign while keeping her suit on. She has thereby failed in her appointed responsibility - a responsibility to lead a small but important nation in global affairs. To lead a nation that has the potential to make real change in the areas of feminism and human rights. In choosing to be fallaciously undiplomatic, Margot Wallström has instead made Sweden into a sign-carrying protester, screaming outside negotiation rooms instead of making real change inside them. ■


Putting a Price on Life




he cost of medical treatment in the United States may be more of a headache than the health problem itself. Insurance prices are extremely high, but if one doesn’t buy insurance, s/he can be hit with even higher out-of-pocket expenses in case of a medical emergency. The need for the United States to reform its health care system isn’t really controversial, as the U.S. health care system consistently ranks among the least effective among other developed nations. However, what is controversial is how the health care system should be reformed. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has been met with hesitancy at best and a deluge of calls clamoring for its repeal at worst. Having an insurance marketplace has increased coverage for many lower- and middle-class Americans, but the continuation of extremely high and often unfair health care prices is still an unsolved and unregulated problem. Therefore, government regulation and caps on health care and drug costs would alleviate this problem. It is no surprise that medical costs are expensive. After all, equipment is expensive, only the best and highly developed medical supplies are used, and doctors and nurses are highly trained professional workers who demand high pay. However, what is truly puzzling is why there is such a large variation in surgical costs of the same procedure from hospital to hospital. Sure, some markets are simply pricier (New York City or San Francisco, for example, cities notorious for their high cost of living in general), and some doctors demand more pay due to their experience or the school where they received their degree, but these factors should not affect surgery costs to this extreme degree. For example, in Dallas, Texas, knee replacement surgery ranges from $16,772 to $61,584. The United States, by far, spends more on health care than any other country. In data from 2012, the U.S. spent 17.6% of its GDP on health care. The next closest country, the Netherlands, spent only 12.0% of its GDP. However, these other countries are able to have more effective health care systems while spending less money. France and Japan do this by using a “common fee schedule.” This ensures that all hospitals and doctors get paid similar amounts for similar types of patients they see. In the United States, this large variation of health care procedure prices does not affect insurance companies much; they do not pay the listed costs in full, instead negotiating a reasonable price with individual hospitals. However, those individuals paying out of pocket are often scalped at one hospital when a nearby hospital charges much less for the same procedure. The prevalence of these incidences, where surgical costs can vary more than 300% between neighboring hospitals, is unethical. The government can easily prevent this practice through capping the prices of medical procedures. Some people who oppose regulation of health care costs by the government believe it infringes upon free market capitalism and will cause repercussions in the economy and stock market. However, it is important to note that many pharmaceutical companies have near monopolies on drugs and it is certainly within the government’s duty to regulate that. For example, in August 2015, the price of the drug Daraprim skyrocketed to $750 per tablet from $13.50 (nearly 5500%) after it was acquired by a new company. This was clearly a cash grab, and there are currently no laws to prevent things like this from happening. This is not an isolated incident, as drugs used to treat tuberculosis and uncommon antibiotics often go for hundreds or thousands of dollars even though they take nowhere near as much to manufacture. Pharmaceutical companies know that ordinary citizens, especially those stricken with illness, are vulnerable. Without government intervention, they simply do not have the means or the capacity to battle large companies, especially when their unscrupulous practices are still technically legal. In addition, the fact that surgical costs can vary so much demonstrates that the so-called “free market” is not working, or else prices for a service or good should fluctuate around a certain level. Free market capitalism only works inasmuch as government regulates it. That is why there are laws that prevent monopolies, encourage competition, and bar insider trading. The

one area where there are no specific laws to ensure a fair market is health care. The US spends more money on healthcare than anyone else in the world (and among 34 OCED nations)...

Source: OCED 2012

...yet is ranked dead last among 11 developed nations.


The first step toward increased government regulation of health care is increasing transparency of health care prices. Currently, the public does not know the actual prices of many procedures, which are kept secret by insurance companies and hospitals. Massachusetts, one of the more progressive states in the Union, passed a bill last October making health care prices public to insurance holders. This is a step in the right direction, as this bill made large price variations for the same procedure transparent. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is proposing a plan that includes capping prescription drug costs to $250 per month for people paying out of pocket. Actions like these give hope that medical costs will soon go down to a reasonable level for the average American. Now, it is up to the government to pass laws that actually cap prices for health care procedures. Of course, it would be necessary to update price caps constantly based on market fluctuations, but Japan and France are exemplary models and provide real-life evidence regarding the efficacy of such price regulations. The United States would do well to follow in the footsteps of such countries. In terms of health care, and in the wake of Obama’s controversial and mostly ineffective reforms, this is the only way to ensure the American health care system is no longer the laughingstock of developed nations. ■ Berkeley Political Review | 24





ocated over 200 kilometers from the Korean and Japanese mainland, it consists of two large rocks surrounded by thirty-five smaller rocks (with a total surface area of less than 0.2 square kilometers) and is nearly uninhabitable by every means. Yet it is the centerpiece of one of the biggest obstacles in modernday relations between South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In fact, it is so salient that even its name cannot escape the reach of politics. Calling it Dokdo or Takeshima would immediately seal one’s position in favor of South Korea or Japan, respectively. Some call it the Liancourt Rocks after Le Liancourt, a French whaling ship that nearly crashed into the islands in 1849, but for the two East Asian nations, a commitment to neutrality in a political dispute of such vital importance is seen as disinterest at best, and at worst, a tacit alignment against what both nation-states claim to be “the truth.” Dating back to the Japanese surrender in World War II, today’s dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima has actually become so pronounced that its impacts are being felt in other sectors of Korean-Japanese relations. The two nations do little to pull punches when it comes to an issue of national concern: Korean schoolchildren are taught that “독도는 우리땅”—Dokdo is our land—from an early age and conditioned to believe it without question until grade school history class, where pragmatism and objectivism are secondary when analyzing Korean and Japanese claims to the islands. Japanese endorsement of Takeshima Day provides little doubt that Japan views the issue in a similar fashion. Given the dispute’s current path, any significant progress in its resolution will be near impossible absent new paths that force both South Korea and Japan to challenge their most basic assumptions. Understanding why and how the dispute has become so important is critical for this task.

policy, providing it with additional credibility in the international sphere and leverage over South Korea. At this point in time, an intuitive question tugs at the brain for many: why not just cut the islands in half and use them as the two countries’ maritime boundaries? And for good reason; it seems as though running a pair of scissors through a map of the East Sea/Sea of Japan would resolve much of the tensions between the two nations. Unfortunately, there are multiple issues that make it impossible. First, the islands are reported to house a considerable deposit of natural gas as well as an incredible quantity of fish. Both resources would be a substantial boon for either nation, given their dependency on imported gas and desire for a lucrative seafood industry. In order to fully take advantage of the resources, Dokdo/Takeshima must fall completely under the Exclusive Economic Zone of either South Korea or Japan, which is impossible in a world where the two nations decided to split the rocks in half. Second—and more importantly—brazen nationalism in both nations makes any compromise tantamount to political suicide for the politicians that are in power there. The toxicity of Dokdo/Takeshima represents the tip of an iceberg poisoned by a century of animosity, from the takeover of the Korean Peninsula by Imperial Japan to Japan’s devastating loss in World War II. For South Korea and Japan, allowing each other even an inch is a significant blow to national security and sovereignty; backing out is weakness. This locks Seoul and Tokyo into a vicious cycle where both countries must constantly reiterate their own claims while countering that of the other. Given that South Korea’s de facto control over the rocks will likely stay permanent and Japan’s international credibility rises with every inevitable South Korean refusal to take the issue to court, it is in neither country’s interests to resolve the dispute and both parties have an incentive to maintain the quagmire that is the status quo.

Rocks, Papers, Scissors The rocks are nearly—but not totally—uninhabitable because they do host permanent residents. Kim Seong-Do and Kim Shin-Yeol, two Koreans married to each other, comprise the totality of Dokdo/Takeshima’s population. Having lived there for decades, they are more or less South Korean heroes, insignias of national pride that crosses the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan (Mr. Kim has previously claimed that if the Japanese attempt to take the rocks by force, he would immediately ask his wife for a rifle). The islets also host a watchtower and living facilities for the South Korean coast guard. Japan, on the other hand, has neither permanent residents nor a temporary living quarters, making Dokdo/Takeshima indefinitely South Korean territory de facto (by effect), but not de jure (by law), which is where the heart of the dispute lies. The long and complex history of the land claims made by the two nations betrays the simplicity of the most feasible solution: put it on paper. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the judicial apparatus of the United Nations and serves to settle legal disputes. Assuming both countries agree to the protocol, the ICJ would weigh each country’s claims and historical evidence that supplement them and determine the islets’ owner once and for all. Japan has offered South Korea three times to take the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute to court; however, South Korea has rejected every single one of Japan’s offers on the grounds that there is no dispute to be had, and that the rocks are unequivocally Korean territory. This puts South Korea in an awkward position of adamantly declaring sovereignty claims but balking in the face of international law. Some speculate that this is precisely what Japan wants; given the near-perfect irony in which Japan refuses to settle through the ICJ its other territorial dispute (with China over the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands), it is questionable whether Japan truly supports the ICJ as a fair method of conflict resolution. At the same time, Japan’s offer to South Korea portrays it as a champion of international law and pragmatic foreign

A Path Forward? The overarching reason that Dokdo/Takeshima has been and will remain unsolved is the overwhelming focus on its politics. It is easy to educate oneself on the dispute, poring through countless maps dating back to centuries, even a millennium ago. It is equally easy to parse through the legal language of past treaties and land claims by both countries. Most of all, it is easier still to formulate an opinion in favor of one side or the other. However, that opinion–no matter how well-researched and objectively defended–will inevitably be written off as one engineered by anti-Korean or anti-Japanese bias and rejected on face as little more than a nationalist attack on the integrity of South Korea or Japan. The Dokdo/Takeshima dispute represents a unique issue in which any opinion on the matter is stripped of its individuality and grafted onto a broader agenda. And because nationalism has a structural bias towards intransigence, the ruling political parties in Seoul and Tokyo, the only ones with the capacity to make a difference, have incentives to remain steadfast on the issue in order to garner public support. However, while the two countries share conservative political viewpoints, they also maintain two of the most liberal economies in Asia. Shifting the focus of approach from politics to economics has proved effective in the past, as proven by Venezuela’s extensive oil trade with the U.S. despite the blatantly oppositional rhetoric that the two states exchange on a regular basis. The relationship between Korea and Japan evidently shares little similarity with that of the U.S. and Venezuela; at the same time, a focus on mutual economic gains over artefactual spats may be the active ingredient in an antidote for the noxious fumes circling the small rocks in the sea. At the very least, it will provide political freedom to provide personal opinions without a nationalist politics to rob those opinions from the individual. ■

25 | Berkeley Political Review


The Art of Unapologizing




olitical apologies are flawed, especially from the perspective of comfort women. About 20,000 women and girls were taken against their will to “comfort stations” throughout East Asia to provide sexual service to Japanese troops before and during WWII. The sacrifice of these “comfort women” were not formally recognized until fifty years after the war: the Kono Statement, adopted by the Japanese government in 1993, finally provided an eloquent political apology. Nevertheless, the gestures of Japanese government thereafter were disappointingly insincere. Rightwing politicians in Japan have further undermined the sacrifice of comfort women by casting skepticism over the use of force in their abduction. Today less than a hundred comfort women survivors remain alive. South Korea and China, home to the majority of comfort women, are exerting political pressures for an updated, sincere apology from Japan. It is up to the Japanese government to make the correct decision and grant one. Japan’s previous apologies were insincere and therefore unacceptable. The Kono Statement in 1993 delivered Japan’s first apology to comfort women predominantly from the Korean Peninsula. Although promising monetary compensations, the Japanese government avoided official reparations by setting up the Asian Women’s Fund, which takes in charity funds from private contributions and then allocates them to victims in South Korea. Many South Korean survivors have rejected this offer for insincerity, not to mention that their Chinese counterparts received neither acknowledgement nor reparation from the Japanese government at all. On literary grounds, the Kono Statement was insufficient because it expressed that “in many cases” — not in all cases — these comfort women were recruited against their will; it also lacked a narrow definition of the types of forces used in recruiting. Attempts from right-wing politicians to whitewash Japanese history during imperial aggression worsened Japan’s global image. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga have expressed disbelief in the role of Japanese army in coercing comfort women into sexual slavery. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Abe, went as far as calling for a new statement to “restore the honor of those in the past who were inappropriately demeaned and to protect the pride of the Japanese living in the present and future.” These attempts demonstrate the current Japanese government’s preference for nationalistic appeal over historical accuracy. The U.S. Congress, in response, passed House Resolution 121, which demanded a formal, direct apology from Japan and that it should refute any denial over the subject. The resolution spurred even more unapologetic statements from within Japan. The group “Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact,” suspiciously sounding like wartime Japanese propaganda, targets the “dearth of objective logical reasoning” behind the resolution. Instead, they pointed to “historical facts” of commonplace licensed prostitution, higher wage of sexual workers, and Japanese efforts to protect private citizens. At a first glance, that Japanese military was not involved in abducting women for sexual purposes seems to be supported by evidence. But it takes little effort to realize the misleading methodologies and message behind their research. This is the very group that asserts the complete fabrication of Nanjing massacre and Japanese aggression during WWII (they claim Japan was simply responding to threats from the U.S.). Their statements, nationalistic at its very best, can be dismissed as deceitful comments from an extreme rightleaning group within Japan. While the scenario above is not widespread, it demonstrated opposition from domestic Japan to update an apology for comfort women. Prime Minister Abe’s WWII speech this year was expected to make a difference. After all, this is the seventieth year anniversary marking the end of the war, this is an era about women’s rights, and this is possibly the last chance for surviving comfort women to witness an apology. But Abe offered none.

Besides repeating previous standpoints, Abe added only the following about women in war: “We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.” China’s staterun news agency Xinhua criticized the speech as “attempting to please his rightwing base on the one hand and avoid further damage in Japan’s ties with its neighbors on the other.” As it turned out, Abe’s speech was simply a showcase of rhetoric twists and careful diction, providing nothing but vague promises and ideological confrontation to reality. But time is running out. The UN human rights panel urged Japan last year to reinvestigate and issue an apology before it was too late. Eight comfort women survivors have died this year and the rest are in their final years. The horrific story of comfort women is so much intertwined with Japan’s imperial past that only a formal recognition of the historical status of comfort women, acknowledging the lingering resentment, could demonstrate Japan’s willingness to reflect on its history. Abe has got a point when he said Japan could not let its children and grandchildren, “who have nothing to do with that war,” be predestined to apologize. But the current Japanese government is not one of these categories. The real issue today is simply the Japanese government’s attitude. To its neighboring states, Japan is notoriously famous for unapologetic gestures when it comes to World War II, in comparison to Germany’s commitment to reflect and educate its citizens about the country’s unforgettable past. Japan will be more respectable when it is brave enough to scrutinize its history and, regardless of operational costs and unfolding wounds, learns from it the important lessons for progress. The current Japanese leaders have not done so. An immediate, formal apology to comfort women is just the step to start. ■

The Japanese government has been negligent over the issue of comfort women By: Dishary Hossain

Berkeley Political Review | 26

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