Berkeley redistricting The Berkeley Student District Campaign quest to elect a student to city council
Obamaâ€™s crackdown on whistleblowers
BPR BERKELEY POLITICAL REVIEW
A threat to free speech and government accountability
A threat to Western energy dominance China-Russia energy alliance seems to challenge Western supremacy
SUMMER 2013 VOLUME XI, No. 4
Giving a voice to the voiceless
Niku Jafarnia MANAGING EDITOR
ilencing these government sources is a huge threat to both free speech and investigative journalism.” Mandy Honeychurch describes Obama’s decision to criminalize American soldiers for relaying information in her article “Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers” (page 9). When the soldiers of our country— who are given so much praise and respect— are silenced by our own president, it brings the question to mind: what other voices are we even quicker to silence? It is easy to forget how many people in this country, and across this world, are without a voice, be they American soldiers, or be they U.S. drones’ unfortunate targets whom the U.K. has stripped of their citizenship, as described by Nashilu Mouen-Makoua in her piece “When your country no longer wants you” (page 16). Within the realm of national politics, Nicholas Kitchel, in his article “A loophole in the Affordable Care Act?, discusses the lack of transparency from our government in the Affordable Care Act, leaving those who need the most from our healthcare system in the dark (page 7). Even as students of the number one public university in the world, we are often left without a voice as well. This was seen at the ASUC Senate meeting on divestment two weeks ago wherein some Palestinian students could not speak out with the same freedom as others, lest their names be recorded, thus jeopardizing their ability to travel to Israel/Palestine. Viveka Jagadeesan delves further into the issues that divestment poses in her piece “Much ado about nothing” (page 10). Furthermore, Matt Calvert describes the Berkeley Student District campaign’s to redraw District 7 in order to create a more accurate representation of the district’s student population, subsequently giving a greater voice to UC Berkeley students in “Berkeley redistricting may be purely cosmetic” (page 2). It is easy to forget those without a voice, simply because we do not hear them. But that is why we as journalists, we as students, and we as humans, must seek diverse views to report and analyze, in hopes of bringing a greater voice to the issues that too often dismissed. The summer issue of the Berkeley Political Review, titled Ex-Citizen, points to this concept from a number of angles. By examining the underlying lack of transparency in our society—be it in regards to our schools, the U.S. government, or governments around the world—we attempt to unearth the truth behind the events we see every day in the media. Only through such reflection can we come to understand the reality of our actions and learn how to move forth with our voices in order to be heard. Yours,
Daniel Tuchler DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR
Tanay Kothari CALIFORNIA EDITOR
Elena Kempf DEPUTY CALIFORNIA EDITOR
Shayna Howitt INTERNATIONAL EDITOR
Alex Heyn DEPUTY INTERNATIONAL EDITOR
Ada Lin NATIONAL EDITOR
Kyle Bowen DEPUTY NATIONAL EDITOR
Matt Symonds OPINION EDITOR
Alex Kravitz DEPUTY OPINION EDITOR
Tina Parija ONLINE EDITOR
Wil Mumby DEPUTY ONLINE EDITOR
Anna Bella Korbatov DESIGN EDITOR
Ha Duong DESIGN TEAM
Deepika Dilip Nik Rajpal OUTREACH EDITOR
Justin Lin COPY EDITOR
Mandy Honeychurch ADVISOR
Susan Rasky STAFF
Ankit Aggarwal, Allison Arnold, Efe Atli, Disha Banik, Matthew Calvert, Martina Chun, Zac Commins, Felix Cruz, Sandra Farzam, Stuart Fine, A.J. Francia, Vinayak Ganeshan, Ben Goldblatt, Ryan Hang, Maggie Hardy, Adeeba Hasan, Eoghan Hughes, Viveka Jagadeesan, Nicholas Kitchel, Nikhil Kotecha, Kevin Kraft, Jessie Lau, Woody Little, Lindsey Lohman, Michael Manset, Katie McCray, Nashilu MouenMakoua, Stacey Nguyen, Brendan Pinder, Chinmai Raman, Maria Salamanca, Sebastien Welch, Carrie Yang, Mary Zhou The content of this publication does not reflect the views of the University of California, Berkeley or the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). Advertisements appearing in Berkeley Political Review reflect the views of the advertisers only, and are not an expression of the editorial opinion or views of the staff.
Table of Contents Summer 2013, Volume XI, No. 4
Berkeley redistricting may be purely cosmetic by Matt Calvert The Berkeley Student District Campaign quest to elect a student to city council Los Angeles: Sunny beaches, empty polls by Michael Manset The 2013 LA mayoral race Decreased access and affordability by Maggie Hardy How the sequester affects California public education Rotten politics? by Mary Zhou Organic farming in California Rising technology, rising poverty by Stacy Nguyen Inequality in the Silicon Valley
2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18
A loophole in the Affordable Care Act? by Nicholas Kitchel University healthcare plans still impose lifetime limits Conservative overrepresentation by Maria Salamanca How the misperceptions of legislators undermine American democracy Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers by Mandy Honeychurch A threat to free speech and government accountability Much ado about nothing by Viveka Jagadeesan How the debate about BDS avoids the conflict at hand
(INFOGRAPHIC) Energy across the globe, compiled by Ada Lin and designed by Deepika Dilip A threat to Western energy dominance China-Russia deal seems to challenge Western supremacy Why Africa: The War on “Terror” by Jessie Lau America’s battle for resources through military and political domination Earth reaches for the stars by Eoghan Hughes Who will lead the charge for space supremacy? Scandinavia: Smug king of the north by Alex Heyn Nordic success and the growing European divide
(ON THE COVER) When your country no longer wants you by Nashilu Mouen-Makoua How can a nation orphan its citizens? Reefer gladness by Carrie Yang Is a federally illegal drug the champion of states’ rights? Nonviolent droning by Brendan Pinder Rand Paul’s historic filibuster aims the G.O.P. away from the imperial presidency Cal campaigning by Lindsey Lohman Politics or popularity Nerds of wisdom by Alex Kravitz College is a learning experience outside the classroom (DISCLAIMER) Our cover model, Hargeet Singh, is unaffiliated with the content in Nashilu Mouen-Makoua’s story “When your country no longer wants you.”
More political analysis from Berkeley Political Review available online at
TO THE POINT
UN-AFRAID? North Korean leader Kim Jong-un -- the world’s youngest head of state at just 30 years old -- is giving incredibly mixed signals to the international community with regard to North Korea’s military intentions. He recently met with ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman, who suggested that if President Obama simply called the young Korean dictator for a chat about basketball, they could work out their differences peacefully. As South Korea and Japan prepare for the potential worst-case scenario, is Kim running the show, or running scared from his generals?
GUN CONTROL IN CONGRESS On April 11, the Senate ended a GOP filibuster on a new gun control bill in a 68-31 vote, paving the way for continuing discussion and debate on the bill. With 16 Republicans crossing the aisle to support consideration for the legislation, Democrats succeeded in the first step towards new gun control legislation. However, Democrats were subsequently unable to convince Senators Heitkamp [etc] to side with them on an actual law. The bill “died” with 54 yea votes, the Democrats unwilling to force the minority opposition to filibuster.
EDUCATION AT INFANCY New studies show that talking to your baby more often will increase their ability to talk, understand, and learn; for some unknown reason, poor families talk to their babies less often than wealthier ones, which means poorer children are more likely to fall behind in school.
— A local government official in northern Mali, where a camel was gifted to the French president as thanks for repelling the rebels; the first camel was eaten.
Why do we kick out the more than 40 percent of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them?” — Mark Zuckerberg on his launch of FWD. us, a new immigration reform lobby group
All photos credited to AP and Creative Commons
As soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel.”
Berkeley redistricting may be purely cosmetic The Berkeley Student District Campaign’s quest to elect a student to city council
The Berkeley Student District Campaign seeks to elect a student to City Council
By Matt Calvert, Staff Writer
he lines are about to be drawn in the battle over shaping Berkeley’s future. After passing Measure R last November, the city is set to undergo redistricting this summer. Berkeley’s population has grown by more than 10,000 people since the borders were last redrawn in 1986, and voters set in motion the process to redraw city council lines to reflect those population changes. Redistricting plans were submitted to the City Council, and many include redrawing District 7 to feature a student majority. The ASUC Office of External Affairs submitted one of these redistricting proposals. Current External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi has been integral to the redistricting fight. He hopes that by creating a student district, the city will have to listen more to the needs of students. In a press release put out by the EAVP, Abbasi writes that despite the large number of students in Berkeley, “students’ voices have been silenced by blatant gerrymandering through districts intentionally designed to split up students.” “Giving students a voice” on the city council is key, as a majority-student district will allow for progress on student issues and might spark student involvement with city issues. However, there are other ways to in-
crease visibility of student issues in the city of Berkeley as well. Jesse Arreguin, a city council member who graduated from Berkeley in 2007, won his race for city council in 2008 and has been serving since. Arreguin campaigned for Measure R and “strongly supports the concept of a student majority district.” However, he has qualms about some of the submitted proposals. Most proposals put the majority student district in District 7, currently represented by formal mayoral candidate Kriss Worthington. Worthington will be up for re-election in 2014. Should he choose to run, Worthington may face challenges from students who are newly empowered by the redistricting process. If a student were to run against Worthington, he or she would be jeopardizing one of the strongest and most ardent representative voices for student interests on the council today. Worthington is not popular among other council members. Having championed student interests before, he frequently clashes with conservatives. Arreguin warns that “redistricting is a political process,” no matter where it takes place. The council majority could use redistricting as a partisan agenda to undermine Worthington. They might placate students by giving them a majority district, while placing it in the district of a controversial councilmember. The webpage of the Berkeley Student District Campaign has the goal to “Elect a Cal Student
to City Council.” If that student were to displace Worthington, the change would give students more access to local government while simultaneously taking away the most ardent supporter of that access. If a student-majority district were to be created, the person elected to serve that district would be beholden to students and student interests regardless if a student him- or herself. The creation of a majority student district would be a win for a student population that makes up almost a quarter of the city, but the effect could be purely cosmetic. Councilmembers Worthington and Arreguin stand to lose the most from the redistricting process, as both are up for reelection in 2014 and will face dramatically different districts in terms of size and makeup. The redistricting process is still up in the air, and though all proposals have been submitted, the council will not choose until at least their May 7th hearing. Abbasi refers to that hearing as “one of the most historic hearings for the city of Berkeley,” as it will determine the makeup of the city council for years to come. The creation of a student district will give to students the power to assert their interests at a local level, but if the politics of the redistricting process were to force out either Worthington or Arreguin, students would be losing an advocate, not gaining one. ♦
Los Angeles: Sunny beaches, empty polls The 2013 LA mayoral race
Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News
Forlorn voters at an LA polling station.
By Michael Manset, Staff Writer
n March 5, Los Angeles held an election to determine who would succeed Antonio Villaraigosa as Mayor of the second-largest city in the United States. Out of four major candidates, none secured a majority, so a run-off election between Councilmember Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel will be held in May. However, despite Los Angeles’ prominence and the major issues the city faces, the election received relatively little media attention and voter turnout was an, in the words of unsuccessful mayoral candidate Jan Perry, “abysmal” 21 percent. What caused this civic failure? Four major candidates contested in the March 5 primary. Garcetti, a Jewish Mexican-American, was first elected to the city council in 2001 and served as its president between 2006 and 2012. Greuel also had served on the city council since 2002, before being elected to the City Controller’s office in 2009. Perry, a Jewish and AfricanAmerican councilwoman who has earned a reputation as an independent, also ran. All three are Democrats. Kevin James, a gay conservative talk show host, was the only Republican running. In their campaigns, each candidate had to address pressing issues to face Los Angeles over the next few years. The city currently looks at a projected 216 million dollar budget deficit for the next fiscal year that it is struggling to eliminate after the failure of
a sales tax increase on the ballot on March 5. Pension reform was, and continues to be, another controversial topic in a city with relatively powerful unions. Another major issue has been development; for instance, there has been significant debate over the banning of chain retailers such as Walmart from the historic downtown Chinatown, as well as the possible expansion of the runway at Los Angeles International Airport. Why, despite the presence of major questions like these, did Angelinos fail to go to the polls on Election Day? The candidates might be one reason for the poor turnout in the election. It is not that candidates failed to inspire – each had their own energetic group of supporters – but rather that they were, in many ways, too similar. Garcetti, Greuel, and Perry all are veterans of city government – none could effectively portray themselves as an outsider, though Perry occasionally served as a critic of practices and positions of the council. Additionally, Garcetti, Greuel, and Perry are fairly liberal Democrats, a situation which, while expected in a predominantly liberal city, has necessarily limited the positions being expressed by the major candidates. Kevin James was perhaps the candidate most different from the rest, given his lack of experience in city government and his political affiliation, but he earned only sixteen percent of the vote. There had also been a lack of institutional support for the candidates. Villaraigosa refrained from backing any particular
candidate. Labor also was divided, with different organizations supporting the two front-runners, Greuel and Garcetti. Without backing from the Mayor or widespread labor support, voters lacked the information about the candidates that such endorsements usually signal. The largest driver behind the low turnout, however, was the date of the election: March 5, 2013. Los Angeles not only holds its municipal elections in off-years (years in which there are no presidential or congressional elections), it conducts these elections in March and May. It is well-known that elections held in off-years, especially non-November elections, have an extremely low turnout rate. Perry suggests that “voters are accustomed to voting in November. They [Los Angeles residents] might have had some voter fatigue.” People simply do not engage with the electoral process to the same degree as they would in a presidential or gubernatorial race. In order to achieve higher voting turnout, Perry says, the “city needs to tie municipal elections to [these] higher profile elections.” In order for its elections to maintain a level of legitimacy, Los Angeles must find a way to boost its voter turnout in municipal elections. While the city can do little about candidates having similar backgrounds and failing to earn organizational support, it can change the date of its election to take place either in November of off-years or to coincide with presidential or congressional elections. ♦
Decreased access and affordability How the sequester will affects California’s public education
BPR ie/ ard eH ggi
alifornia public schools may not rely on the federal government for basic funding, but they still won’t be untouched by the upcoming sequester cuts. Federal programs make education more accessible to a broad range of students, from rural students to low-income college students. Cuts to these programs will compromise California’s ability to provide the full benefits of a public education to students from a variety of backgrounds. Some of the most severe sequester cuts will hit federal financial aid programs. Programs that will be impacted include Pell Grants, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program, and the Federal Work-Study Program. The Pell Grants program provides grants to low-income college students, scaled to the financial need of the student. In 2012, the maximum Pell Grant was $5,500. Pell Grants have been described as a foundation of the federal financial aid program, providing financial assistance to 35 percent of UC Berkeley undergraduates in the 2011 to 2012 school year. While the Pell Grants program is exempted from sequester cuts in the 2014 fiscal year, it will begin to lose funding in 2015. Sequester cuts to Pell Grants could impact over one million students in California. The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program (SEOG) provides additional grants of up to $4,000 to students in the greatest need of financial assistance. Roughly 3,800 schools administer SEOG grants to Pell Grant-eligible students with the lowest expected family contributions. A sequester cut of 9.1 percent or about $66 million, would come on the heels of years of funding freezes, reducing the number of grants available. UC students would be hit slightly less hard than average, facing an 8.7 percent cut in funding. This sequester cut would impact more students in California than any other cut: almost 170,000. A third component of the federal financial aid program, the Federal Work-Study program funds part-time employment for students on 3,400 college and university
seven or more programs. Another support network, Federal TRIO Programs, will also lose funding due to the Sequester cuts. TRIO provides “educational outreach and supportive services” to students in seven programs: Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science, Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement, Educational Opportunity Centers, and Veterans Upward Bound. These programs reach first-generation college students from families with incomes below the poverty line. Sequester cuts could cost the program over $75 million, impacting close to 4,000 students in California. Because federal education funding goes to programs like TRIO and Pell Grants, sequester cuts will hit students most in need of a support structure the hardest. Federal funding may not provide the basis for public education in California; however, it does broaden access to public education through counseling and financial assistance. As Congress struggles to find a long-term solution, spending cuts will have additional gravity for the thousands of students who rely on these federal programs to make the most of California’s public education system. ♦
campuses. Federal funding for work-study jobs is matched by funding from educational institutions, so a cut in federal funding comes with a cut in school funding, hitting students twice as hard. Sequestration cuts to Work-Study programs would be quite large; the program’s budget would drop from about $980 million in 2012 to $707 million in 2013, limiting the availability of work-study jobs for over 60,000 students in California. However, the sequester cuts won’t just impact financial aid. Counseling and support services for disadvantaged students will also lose funding next year. One of these programs, the High School Equivalency Program/ College Assistance Migrant Program (HEP/CAMP), serves migrant farmworkers who have not completed high school. The High School Equivalency Program provides instruction and counseling to migrant students as they earn a GED and prepare for higher education or a new workplace. The College Assistance Migrant Program provides stipends, personal and educational counseling, and other services to these students through their first year of college. Sequester cuts to HEP/CAMP would result in layoffs and the elimination of
By Maggie Hardy, Staff Writer
Public education may be state funded, but federal sequester cuts will still impact students in California public schools
Rotten politics? Organic farming in California By Mary Zhou, Staff Writer
tions’ monopoly of money and influence. The incentive for organic food companies’ fight against Prop 37, although initially ambiguous, confirms the potential for dishonesty of large corporations. If Prop 37 had passed, General Mills, for example, would have had to label its Nature Valley products as containing GMO ingredients. The integrity of the organic food corporations may also diminish, due to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s growing list of synthetics these corporations are currently
s of 2013, organic farming is a $30 billion dollar industry in North America. According to the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, California ranks first in the nation with almost 3,000 organic farms and more than 430,000 acres of certified organic farmland. The growth of the organic sector, at cursory glance, heralds a healthier and more appealing approach to the issue of food sustainability. However, the growth of the organic industry also sprouts problems such as corporate monopoly and food contamination. The growing trend of and demand for organic food has led to corporate conglomeration. Multinationals such as General Mills, Heinz, and Kellogg are acquiring smaller organic labels. Julie Guthman, a professor of Conspicuous takeover of corporate organic brands in supermarkets social sciences at UC Santa Cruz and the author of Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox permitted to use. of Organic Farming in California, asserts that Corporate interference in organic farmthe “biggest problem of corporate takeover is ing also leads to food contamination. In Febthat the companies drive prices down in the ruary 2012, 300,000 farmers sued Monsanto’s market, making it very difficult for farmers to transgenic plants (or GMOs, genetically practice more ecologically sustainable meth- modified organisms), charging that they were ods that would reduce one’s revenue.” introducing the unwanted genetic material The failure of Proposition 37, calling for into their fields. The issue of food contaminamandatory labeling of genetically engineered tion is prevalent, especially since Monsanto’s food, attests to one way that expansion of line of crops represents more than 80 percent organic food corporations has inhibited of soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and the progress of organic farming. Big GMO canola seeds grown in the United States. manufacturers like Monsanto and DuPont On March 11, a group of 83 plaintiffs repspent almost $50 million dollars to defeat the resenting more than 300,000 farmers fielded a proposition. However, organic brand compa- lawsuit in reaction to Monsanto’s suggestion nies like Kashi also secretly fought to keep that the farmers purchase their own insurinformation off the food labels, a sign of hy- ance to pay for the contamination damage. pocrisy easily buried underneath the corpora- In January 2013, an oral argument was heard
before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A ruling for Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto is expected this summer. Guthman predicts that a ruling in favor of Monsanto might actually “help the organic sector, since people will be more cautious when they’re buying organic foods, and organics is the only way you know you’re not consuming GMOs. However, one ought to remain skeptical of Monsanto regardless.” However, Guthman argues that some peaceful coexistence does exist between the “big guys” and local farmers, since “farmers are beginning to sell more into the direct market and retail stores, such as CSA or the Farmers’ Market.” Corporate involvement also has potential to provide advantages to the organic sector, such as inNoah Berger/New York Times creased accessibility of organic foods. As large corporations sell more organic food, more acres of land are theoretically protected from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Consumers now have to decide whether they value the means by which they obtain organic products more than the end of having an organic product. At face value, the growth of organic farming signifies an expansion of a strong and sustainable approach to the California food market. But one must also consider the consequences of corporation monopoly. The benefits yielded by corporate involvement easily overshadow the harm that both GMO and organic food companies, have perpetuated. One must ensure that corporate involvement exists to improve access to organic products, not to inhibit it by contaminating it with, and falsely advertising about, genetic material. ♦
Rising technology, rising poverty Economic inequality in the Silicon Valley
San Jose State University, home to minimum wage advocate Marisela Castro
By Stacey Nguyen, Staff Writer
rawn to big names such as Google and Facebook, 20 percent of the wealthiest Americans live in California. While Silicon Valley jobs multiply and stocks soar, the gap between the rich and the poor widens, with 25 percent of Santa Clara County residents living below the poverty line. Despite its luster, income inequality remains one of the Silicon Valley’s biggest problems. Wealth is greatly concentrated in the Silicon Valley. Many of the region’s tech magnates have made it to the Forbes annual list of the world’s wealthiest people. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are worth $23 billion each, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls $13.3 billion his own. Even though they only make up a sliver of the population, the combined incomes of California’s millionaires alone add up to over $100 billion, 11 times the amount needed to pull all Californians out of poverty. Where does their money go? Google has given $11 million to global and environmental projects, and Mark Zuckerberg has donated $100 million to Newark New Jersey public
schools. Though the wealthy do try to combat poverty, their misguided efforts gloss over struggling local communities. As the rich flourish, poverty skyrockets. With homelessness having increased by 20 percent over the past two years, San Jose has grown a 28-acre “tent city,” accommodating a fraction of the city’s homeless. Additionally, food stamp participation has reached a 10-year high. This is especially worrisome as a fourth of the participants hold a college degree. Meanwhile, the average income for Latinos, who make up 25 percent of the Silicon Valley, has dropped to $19,000 after 5 years of constant decrease. Contributing to rising poverty, expensive housing is one of the region’s biggest problems. The average home price is $550,000, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment hovers around $2,000 a month. To live comfortably in the Silicon Valley with sufficient food, childcare, and transportation, a family of four needs at least $90,000 annually. However, of the top 20 occupations in the tech hub, seven paid less than the minimum living wage of $15 dollars an hour. Seeking to address these issues, nonprofits have brainstormed ideas for reducing
the Silicon Valley’s economic inequality. Advocating for fiscal reforms to benefit low and moderate-income earners, the nonpartisan California Budget Project (CBP), dedicates itself to informing policymakers and community leaders about budget-related policy decisions. It has persistently suggested that California address its income gap by raising the minimum wage, making taxes more progressive, securing benefits for low-income families, and strengthening unemployment insurance benefits. Still, even with the help of statewide organizations, the fight against income inequality also depends on local efforts. For example, San Jose State student Marisela Castro formed with a few colleagues an advocacy campaign to raise the minimum wage. In November, her grassroots efforts paid off when 59 percent of voters approved a bill boosting San Jose’s minimum wage from $8 to $10. Although little compared to the gains of the region’s highest earners, this raise will still positively affect tens of thousands of workers. Additional local efforts have been initiated to tackle poverty. Collaborating with the California State Legislature and White House Assembly, the advocacy group Step Up Silicon Valley has pushed for policies that would cut poverty. Advocating anti-payday loans, affordable housing developments, and child savings accounts, Step Up Silicon Valley plans to move 1,000 out of poverty by 2014. UC Berkeley professor of comparative politics Steven Fish emphasizes the importance of local groups taking action to effectively demand their communities’ needs. Community leaders are more familiar with the political landscape of their region than those making policies from afar. An effective policy, then, will require the input from locals and attention from larger organizations. Income inequality is a clear and troubling issue in the tech hub. Organized in a top-down fashion, large nonprofit groups like the CBP have made plausible suggestions to alleviate inequality. However, it may be time to pay more attention to the efforts and suggestions of local community leaders in looking for poverty mitigation measures. ♦
A loophole in the Affordable Care Act? University healthcare plans still impose lifetime limits By Nicholas Kitchel, Staff Writer
cross the country, the Affordable Care Act is already making a substantial impact. It has allowed millions of young Americans to stay on their parents’ health plans, ensured that those with preexisting conditions can still receive care, provided health care to children through new school-based centers, and will soon outlaw lifetime limits on benefits. However, a loophole exists. Certain self-funded insurance plans are exempted from the lifetime limits provision of the Affordable Care Act. This means that some providers, like the University of California, are not required to lift these caps. Currently, the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) has a lifetime limit of $400,000 worth of coverage. Once students surpass the $400,000 limit, they must pay for their healthcare out-of-pocket. The number of students who actually reach this limit is very small. However, for those who do – often cancer patients, or individuals who’ve had serious accidents – the results are incredibly burdensome. Ending lifetime limits would protect these individuals and ensure that they receive insurance, regardless of the severity of their health condition. Many people believed that the Affordable Care Act would prevent healthcare providers from limiting coverage. However, since a number of universities like the UC run their own insurance programs, they are exempt from the lifetime limit ban. Nationwide, there are about 30 schools that fall into this category. Most of these schools are from California and the Ivy League, and cumulatively serve around 300,000 students. These schools are left with an interesting predicament: are they to continue their lifetime limit policies, or voluntarily conform to the Affordable Care Act guidelines? In the case of the University of California, there is an ongoing dialogue. The Student Health Insurance Plan came under scrutiny in late February when UC Berkeley students protested against fee hikes and lifetime caps. Congressional leaders, including House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), responded with an open letter to UC President Mark Yudof, urging the UC
Daniel Green/City on a Hill Press
University of California students protest UC Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) lifetime limits policy on Feb. 13.
to remove coverage caps. On March 22, the UC SHIP Advisory Board voted to lift the coverage caps. However, before reaching a final decision, the advisory board’s recommendation must be heard by the UC SHIP Executive Committee and ultimately the Council of Chancellors. A decision is
In regards to its lifetime limits policy, is the Affordable Care Act strict enough? expected by May 1, 2013. Clearly, this process of reconciling SHIP with Affordable Care Act standards is complicated and time consuming. The fact that it is voluntary is also problematic for those who believe in the reforms introduced by the Affordable Care Act. This raises an important question: In regards to its lifetime limits policy, is the Affordable Care Act strict enough? Healthcare providers like the UC are essentially being permitted to maintain lifetime limits due to a legal technicality
- since SHIP is sold by a university rather than an insurance company, it is not legally defined as an insurance plan. A possible solution to this predicament would be to pass a piece of legislation that amends the Affordable Care Act, specifying that providers like the UC must be defined as insurance providers. While passing federal legislation to amend the Affordable Care Act may be ideal, it is not practical; especially considering the House is now dominated by Republicans who want to repeal the Act entirely. However, this does not mean that university healthcare providers should simply continue imposing these limits. Especially for public schools like the UC, the mission is to serve the students. These universities should act in accordance with the ideals they profess, by proactively conforming their policies to Affordable Care Act guidelines. The University of California already appears to be on this path, but it should not stop there. For the good of their students, and for the sake of protecting those who fall victim to severe illnesses and injuries, all healthcare providers should come forth and lift lifetime limits. ♦
Conservative overrepresentation How the misperceptions of legislators undermine American democracy By Maria Salamanca, Staff Writer
he United States prides itself on its commitment to democratic ideals. When asked about his proposed form of government, Alexander Hamilton responded: “Here, sir, the people govern, here they act by their immediate representatives.” Yet over 200 years later, the government of the Republic the Founding Fathers created is failing to fulfill its main purpose - to represent its people. Today, eight in 10 Americans disapprove of Congress. While members of Congress frequently pay lip service to the demands of “the American people,” they often adopt policy positions that do not accurately reflect the preferences of their constituents. Congressional Republicans in particular have found themselves increasingly beholden to unpopular viewpoints held by a small but vocal minority. The recent debates on gun control perfectly illustrate this trend. In January, President Obama presented his comprehensive gun control proposal. When polled, Americans backed all nine of the key proposals: 91 percent support required background checks; 82 percent support increased funding for mental health programs; 79 percent support an increase in criminal penalties; and over 60 percent support banning assault weapons and the possession of armor-piercing bullets by civilians. Yet the House majority opposed most of the proposals from the minute they were announced. Five Republican Senators have even signed a pledge to filibuster any additional gun restrictions, including: Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and James Inhofe of Oklahoma. While there is certainly some merit to the claim that politicians generally prioritize moneyed interests over the public good, the ideological gulf between members of Congress and the majority of Americans cannot be explained solely in terms of venality. A recent study by David Broockman at the UC Berkeley and Christopher Skovron of the University of Michigan illustrates another important progenitor of this phenomenon. They asked 2,000 state legislative candidates in the 2012 elections to estimate where their constituents stand on a number of social
and economic issues. The results showed a systematic tendency among legislators to overestimate their constituents’ support for conservative policies. Indeed, almost 50 percent of sitting conservative ofﬁceholders appear to believe that they represent a district that is more conservative than the most conservative legislative district in the entire country. Republican legislators appear to overestimate support for conservative policy views among their constituents by over 20 percentage points on average. However, this right-wing bias among elected officials is not an exclusively Republican trend; liberal politicians also believe their constituencies to be more conservative than they actually are. In fact, about 70 percent of liberal ofﬁceholders frequently underestimate support among their constituents for liberal positions on these same issues. The result of this bipartisan phenomenon is a national conversation far to the right of where most Americans would like it to be on a range of issues. Moreover, while proposals that are broadly supported by a majority of Americans often receive inadequate legislative representation, unpopular policies that cater to elite interests are frequently overrepresented in our public discourse. For example, only 40 percent of the wealthy think the minimum wage should be high enough to prevent fulltime workers from being in poverty while 78 percent of the general public holds this view.
And yet, the idea of raising the minimum wage - which is favored by an overwhelming majority of the American electorate - is habitually portrayed by legislators as some radically liberal pipe dream. This state of affairs cannot be properly understood within the facile and binary framework of Republicans versus Democrats. Both parties habitually fail to understand (let alone represent) the interests of their constituents, resulting in legislative bodies whose political orientation is far to the right of the majority of the people whom they represent. Moreover, misperceptions about where constituents stand on certain issues enable politicians to construct a veneer of democratic legitimacy around any political objective they seek to achieve. President Nixon’s “silent majority” is an illustrative example, as was Sarah Palin’s claim that her agenda was supported by large numbers of unspecified “real Americans.” The pervasive tendency of politicians - both Republicans and Democrats - to harbor erroneous beliefs about the political orientation of the American electorate is antithetical to the most basic principles of representative democracy. This pernicious trend cannot be arrested unless citizens insist on holding elected officials accountable for failing to represent their interests. Absent such political pressure, congressional discourse and public opinion will be difficult to reconcile. ♦
Win McNamee/GETTY IMAGES
Republican candidates at the 2011 New Hampshire Primary. This group is some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party.
Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers A threat to free speech and government accountability
American soldier and whistleblower Bradley Manning.
By Mandy Honeychurch, Staff Writer
espite many campaign promises of increased transparency and protections for whistleblowers, the Obama administration has made a habit of imperiously prosecuting individuals who leak classified information in order to expose government malfeasance. The administration has invoked the arcane Espionage Act - a 1917 statute enacted to prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of information pertaining to national defense during wartime - more than all other presidential administrations combined. Before Obama took office, the Espionage Act had been used primarily to prosecute double agents actively undermining American national security, such as CIA operative Aldrich Ames, who was convicted of spying for Russia in 1994. However, during Obama’s tenure the Act has been directed against former government officials who reveal classified information with the intent of exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and other government wrongdoing. People charged under the Espionage Act include Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked classified information which revealed the Johnson Administration’s systematic mendacity regarding the Vietnam war. The act was also used to prosecute John Kiriakou, who was sentenced in January to 30 months in prison for releasing information on the use of water-boarding as an interrogation technique (he remains
the only official to date to be incarcerated over the torture program. Most recently, the act has been used to prosecute Bradley Manning, who leaked a quarter million classified documents to the website Wikileaks. He has been charged with “aiding the enemy” and will stand trial in June for the capital offense. According to the prosecution, because Manning knew the documents he released would be published and members of Al Qaeda could access them, his actions constitute indirect communication with the enemy. However, Manning’s own testimony reveals that a strong sense of civic duty motivated his disclosure: “the more I read, the more I...began to think that the documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.” While Manning’s act certainly constituted a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, aggressively prosecuting him could lead down a slippery slope. If Manning is found guilty, it would establish a chilling precedent enabling the government to invoke the notion of national security in order to suppress information that paints the administration in a negative light. As investigative journalist Jane Mayer points out, “When our sources are prosecuted, the news-gathering process is criminalized.” Journalists would face danger simply by publishing their work, since it could fall into the hands of terrorists and thus constitute “indirect communication” with
the enemy. Their sources would also face majors threats and could be arrested for the information they disclose. Silencing these government sources is a huge threat to both free speech and investigative journalism. Our system of government depends on having a media to inform people and keep those in power in check. Increased use of the Espionage Act in this fashion may intimidate journalists and deter their sources from leaking information that implicates the government in lawbreaking. In recent years, almost every revelation of governmental wrongdoing has come from these sorts of leaks, including: the Bush administration’s use of torture as a method of interrogation, the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the large number of civilian casualties in the Iraq war. If the government is not willing to admit its mistakes, how else can the public learn what its government is really doing? As whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg points out, “such criminal, dangerous and deceptive
“...seemingly criminal activity didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.” behavior by the government can only be changed if Congress and the public are informed of them. And when official secrecy allows the government to cover these facts up, the only way to bring them to the public is to break secrecy regulations.” Of course, some information must remain classified to protect national security interests, and it is difficult to determine exactly how much information should fall into this category. However, it seems quite clear that the Espionage Act has been exploited to punish whistleblowers and stifle dissent. Striking a balance between the competing interests of national security and press freedom will never be easy, but at least one thing is clear: when the only person to serve prison time for participation in a torture program that violated both American and international law is the person who exposed the illegal practice, we’ve got a long way to go. ♦
Much ado about nothing How the debate about BDS avoids the conﬂict at hand By Viveka Jagadeesan, Staff Writer
sraeli journalist Chemi Shalev described the response to a BDS panel at Boston College in the following terms: “They recognize only one truth, their own, and view all the rest as heresy and abomination… It quashes disagreement and abhors true debate. It distances anyone and everyone who does not subscribe to its narrow definitions of what it means to love Israel and to truly support it, warts and all.” His unusually incisive comments could describe much of the talk about Israel and Palestine in the United States today. That they came out of Haaretz, a respected Israeli daily rather than a US paper is only natural, as more criticism of Israeli policy is permitted in Israel than in America. One place where talk of Israel-Palestine is less tepid is college campuses. In recent months, the ASUC and other student governments have been voting on Boycott, Divest, and Sanction bills, which advocate applying economic pressure on the Israeli government and businesses complicit in the occupation of Palestinian land. When UC Berkeley passed a BDS bill in 2010, 12 Nobel Laureates chimed in (five in favor, seven opposed). Ultimately, the bill was vetoed by then-president Will Smelko after lobbying by an Israeli consul general. Interestingly, the bills in question are effectively toothless. UC president Mark Yudof has stated that the UC will divest from companies in business with the Israeli government only when the US declares it to be “committing acts of genocide.” This suggests that the bills’ power is largely symbolic. Universities have historically popularized nascent political causes such as protests of the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa; thus, campus endorsements of BDS could lend mainstream legitimacy to other forms of Palestinian rights advocacy. Despite the controversy the bills create, little discussion of their specific contents occurs. These vary greatly from boycotts of Israeli cultural institutions to divestment from companies such as Caterpillar, which provides bulldozers to demolish homes in the West Bank. Instead, the debate fixates on charges that BDS is anti-Semitic and hurtful to the campus climate. The response by administrators and lawmakers has largely been to suppress the offending speech. In 2010, as a response to the interruption of
Workers waiting at an Israeli checkpoint in Qalqiliya. Analogous checkpoints are simulated on campuses to raise awareness. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech on its campus, UC Irvine suspended its Muslim Students Union and the students involved were legally prosecuted. Last year, the state legislature passed bill HR35, which holds that “boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel” and descriptions of Israel as “guilty of heinous crimes against humanity” create a “hostile anti-Semitic environment.” This isn’t to deny that anti-Semitism motivates some BDS proponents or that
We prefer to categorically reject ideas we ﬁnd objectionable, rather than engage them. anti-Semitic stereotypes are employed in criticizing Israeli policy- they are. But to suggest that we should exclude all of BDS advocacy for this reason is to delegitimize an entire political movement based solely on the objectionable viewpoints expressed by some of its most radical proponents. Moreover, censoring obscene ideas undermines the nature of free speech protections, which are specifically designed to protect unpopular opinions, under the
assumption that we have more to fear from government censorship than from offensive language. The suppression of political speech in an academic context is particularly troubling, as universities are supposed to be institutions uniquely committed to the pursuit of truth, and UC Berkeley in particular is celebrated as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. But our reluctance to discuss BDS “warts and all” reflects a broader trend in our public discourse: we prefer to categorically reject ideas we find objectionable, rather than engage them. The complex question of whether or not to sanction the Israeli government and companies that profit from the occupation of the West Bank warrants further discussion. But the dearth of real engagement, both on and off campus, limits the perceived possibilities regarding Israel and Palestine. A Jewish student active in Students for Justice in Palestine found her experience of receiving hate mail excluded from the Jewish student campus climate report and placed in the Muslim and Arab student report instead. What Judith Butler refers to as “the football lingo” of proIsrael and pro-Palestine limits the terms of debate, rhetorically handicapping us so that we must describe what is pro-our interests to be anti-another’s. This results is the perception of a conflict that by its own rules is irresolvable. ♦
Energy Across the Globe Compiled by Ada Lin and designed by Deepika Dilip
Total Primary Energy Supply
Primary Energy Production & Consumption
nergy products are one of the world’s greatest resources, fueling all human activities. However, it’s not very evenly distributed around the world, making some countries net suppliers of energy and others net consumers. One might think that these valuable resources would promote economic growth and development, but if we examine the actual relationship between suppliers and consumers, a different patten emerges - it is the consumers of this energy that are developing or have already developed. As Kevin Kraft’s article, “A threat to Western energy dominance,” argues, many see this as evidence for active underdevelopment, where some countries’ growth undermines the development of others. ♦
A threat to Western energy dominance The China-Russia energy alliance seems to challenge Western energy supremacy By Kevin Kraft, Staff Writer
y persuading Russia to spurn the West in its choice for an international energy partner, China has emerged as a potential threat to the Western domination of energy policy, positioning itself to help the rest of the world counter the West’s oppressive energy policies, which are masked by the guise of promoting energy security. Energy occupies a unique position in the international system. No country can survive without it as it provides the fuel that runs the world. Successful energy policy, both on a domestic and international level, has proven absolutely crucial to maintaining economic strength. The diverse nature of energy requirements and increasing demands make it practically impossible for a country to satisfy all of its needs by itself, so to do so countries must turn abroad. International energy interdependence and its accompanying susceptibility to political troubles underline the need for extensive international cooperation. In the past, the developed West, desperately in need of energy to fuel their massive industrialized economies, has tapped into the extensive stores of natural resources in the non-Western world. Shortly after realizing the true economic potential of their access to energy resources, Western countries started to meddle in the domestic affairs of their energy suppliers in order to strengthen and further their economic relationship. With the power disparity be-
tween the two camps so large, the Western countries could effectively control politics in their non-Western economic partners with little regard for local interests, which proved crucially detrimental to political stability. Political meddling in the non-Western world proved at least somewhat counterproductive to Western economic interests as the increasing political instability in the rest of the world compromised the energy stability of the West. After this weakness of the international energy system was exposed in the 1973-74 OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil crisis, energy security became a crucial goal of all countries striving for economic stability. The ideal of energy security relies on being able to economically sustain any fluctuation in the international political system. While this economic insulation could come from any number of sources, countries have primarily focused on developing alternative energy sources and international cooperation. Today, even though energy security has been an international policy focus for almost four decades, no single country has truly achieved it, making international energy cooperation a necessity. In the wake of the OAPEC oil crisis, the International Energy Agency (IEA) was founded by Western countries in the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to promote international energy security through international cooperation and sharing of technological developments and alternative energy methods. Overall, the IEA has proved quite effective in promoting efficient international energy policy. For example, the IEA has developed an insurance program that enables its
members to successfully weather another oil or natural gas crisis. While international organizations like the IEA and the OECD provide positive influences on international cooperation in society, they only extend their benefits to their members, which come exclusively from the West. Instead of being a truly “international” organization, the IEA only caters its policies to safeguard the energy interests of the West at the expense of non-Western countries. By systematically excluding non-Western developing countries, the IEA has become a self-serving tool for the West to maintain their energy dominance over the rest of the world, which has proven essential to maintaining their economic strength and stability. Without any comparable energy organization, non-Western countries have struggled tremendously to make long-term gains in securing energy stability. The West has utilized the rhetoric of energy security, a tremendously powerful political force in domestic politics in the West, to cover up the energy disparity between the West and the rest of the world. The current trend of Western energy supremacy over the rest of the world is likely to change with the rise of significant energy powers outside of the West. By swaying Russia away from its Western neighbors, China has officially arrived on the scene as an international energy leader. China, able to tap into the massive natural resource reserves of Central Asia, has the power to drastically alter the international energy dynamic by challenging the West for energy supremacy. With energy allegiances for most non-IEA countries up for grabs, Russia very well could be the first of many to become energy partners with China. If Russia were indeed to serve as the first in a long line of dominos, then the non-Western world could transform into a powerful energy force independent of Western influence and thus threaten Western chances of achieving economic strength and energy security. ♦
Trang Dang, Ramanpreet Dheri, Brittany Ly/The Legend
Why Africa: The War on “Terror” America’s battle for resources through military and political domination By Jessie Lau, Staff Writer
he rhetoric will be wearily recognizable to any cautious observer of U.S foreign policy. In Obama’s 2013 State of the Union, the President spoke of the “evolving” threat” in Africa. He stressed America’s need to “help” countries “provide for their own security” and, “where necessary,” continue to “take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.” Change “terrorists” to “communists” – and the words take on a haunting tone. Like in Vietnam, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and very recently, Libya – the U.S has begun its tentative increase in military presence in yet another politically unstable region: Africa. Beneath this “war on terror” lays the true war: the war for resources. During an AFRICOM Conference in 2008 at Fort McNair, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller – the first commander of AFRICOM (a U.S combatant command in charge of all “defense operations” in Africa) – was reported to have declared that the command’s guiding principle is to protect the “free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market” before quoting China’s increasing influence in the continent as a challenge to U.S interests. Elkanah Odembo, Kenya’s Ambassador to the U.S, also recently stated: “Foreign direct investment in the past ten years has gone from $15 billion to close to $50 billion today…a very small proportion of that comes from the United States.” In contrast, China’s trade with Africa surpassed a staggering $120 billion just last year. Since the U.S is incapable of fighting China on an economic battleground in Africa, the nation must protect its access to the continent’s resources using its one area of unparalleled expertise – the military. Through expanding its military presence in the region, the U.S will be able to influence regime leaders in African
nations and in turn control the movement of resources to their advantage. Of course, one cannot argue that America’s newest war on terror is without some defensive cause. Within the harsh desert terrains of various African countries lie multinational pockets of terrorist groups – many but not all affiliated with Al Qaeda – who slip through the continent’s often insecure borders with relative ease. Their smooth mobility and hundreds of weapons caches enable them to successfully plan and conduct terror operations in resource-rich regions littered with international enterprises. Militant groups can be found in Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, and more. As we have seen in Algeria, sites with international interests are also becoming targets for militant groups seeking revenge for Western intervention – posing a serious threat to U.S
security interests. But with such harrowing reports, it is easy to forget other elements of U.S interest in the region – its economic interests. Africa is believed to hold roughly 90 percent of the world’s chromium and platinum, 40 percent of the world’s gold, and 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves – in addition to diamonds, petroleum, and uranium. Not only do most of these reserves remain virtually untapped, but many also have yet to be uncovered. The U.S has long desired to reduce its reliance on unstable oil sources in the Middle East – Africa offers an appealing solution to its energy needs. As the global demand for hard minerals and other resources continues to prove insatiable, other countries with power-hungry economies are also inevitably being drawn to the region. One of such countries includes China, which currently owns 40 percent of Sudan’s oil production and has loaned over $20 billion to African governments. On the other hand, the US Exim Bank provided only $1.4 billion worth of loans in 2011 for the continent as a whole, and has been slow to develop trade relations. Since 2007, about a dozen U.S air bases have been established in Africa. At present, AFRICOM is also working to establish a second drone base in Niger. Under the guise of fighting terror – the U.S will once again manipulate other countries’ politics through increasing military presence in the region to primarily gain more economic power. This military expansion not only comes at the price of U.S troops and resources, but it also risks further destabilizing African nations. Perhaps the public should reevaluate the costs of military intervention before choosing to accept this well-worn rhetoric at face value and plunging the nation into another war – yet again. ♦ Jessie Lau/BPR
Earth reaches for the stars Who will lead the charge for space supremacy?
Will China become the leader in Space technology?
By Eoghan Hughes, Staff Writer
ince 1969, when Neil Armstrong drove the Stars and Stripes into the crust of the moon, the United States has been acknowledged as the leader in space exploration. However in 2013 as China, Russia and the E.U. continue to pump more resources and manpower into space technology, N.A.S.A, the veteran of space travel, has experienced yet another dip in government funding. In 2012 it counted for only 0.48percent of the U.S. Budget. According to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, that’s about half a penny on the dollar. Some flags the U.S. planted on the moon still stand today, but with the People’s Republic of China poised to lead manned space exploration by 2020, and N.A.S.A.’s prospects ever gloomier, policy analysts are beginning to wonder who will flag the constellations. With the retirement of the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet in 2011 under the Obama Administration, the U.S. is dependent on the Russian R.O.S.C.O.S.M.O.S. space agency for manned space travel to the International Space Station. Russia stands tall now as the
current leader in manned space travel, but with the U.S. space program in flux, another rising superpower has begun to make its presence known. By the end of 2013, China hopes to launch 20 satellites into space. By 2020 it expects to have 200 satellites in orbit, a fifth of the total and a signal that this economic heavyweight aspires to become a leader in space travel. In terms of ability to send someone to space, the P.R.C. is second only to Space-Race veteran Russia. Michael Griffin, former head of N.A.S.A, was recently quoted as saying, “China is on track to become the world’s leading space-faring nation”. Somewhat encouraged by N.A.S.A’s decline, Beijing has made a concentrated effort at improving its position in space, an effort that Griffin predicts will lead to Chinese leadership in space technology by 2020. China’s ascent has caused a dynamic shift in international relations. Firstly, Chinese space ambitions have been flagged as a threat to U.S. interests. U.S. officials claim that China’s space plans are in fact a military endeavor, aimed at securing a position of power against the United States Jonathan
McDowell, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has emphasized the U.S. perception that China “has the technology to be a threat if it wishes to.” This perception is important to the overall bent of international peace, but what is more important is the changing international alliances signified in this new phase of the space race. The European Space Agency, made up of the combined resources of 20 member states, counts Russia as its “first ally” in gaining long term access to space. The only non-European state considered an associate of the ESA is not the US but Canada, suggesting an association of nations reaching towards the stars without the guiding hand of the U.S. Closer ties to China are another element of this new association. Thomas Reiter, an E.S.A. director, was so impressed in 2011 by China’s strides in space technology that he has since instructed some of his staff to learn Mandarin in preparation for future cooperation. It is Reiter’s goal to see a Chinese vessel dock at the I.S.S. within the decade, a plan eagerly backed by the People’s Republic and its allies. The United States’ strained relations with China mean that they will likely veto any proposal to add China to the team of the I.S.S. Some could see this as a case of the U.S. against the rest of the world. While the E.S.A. may insist it has no intention of turning away from its historic partner it may not be their choice in the end. If the United States is willing to blacklist E.U. countries that supply China with sensitive technologies, one can only imagine what will happen when the E.S.A. and China begin to develop new technologies together. The flags placed on the moon in the 1970s are still standing today. The sun’s radioactive rays have long since bleached the stars and stripes pure white. With the U.S. spending less on space exploration by the year, with China, Russia and Europe and even Canada beginning to pool their resources and reach for the stars, it is interesting to think what color flag will be one day be driven into Mars. ♦
Scandinavia: Smug king of the north Nordic success and the growing European divide By Alex Heyn, International Editor
candinavia has come a long way from its rape-and-pillage, Viking-caper days. Without exception, all Nordic countries share a laudable level of social progressiveness and economic success in the midst of the clusterFrakta (Frakta being the name of those iconic blue Ikea shopping bags) that is much of the rest of Euro-crisis-weary Europe. ABBA and Sigur Rös are household names. Everyone and their mother is reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and shopping at H&M. And every time some social issue flares up in the popular media, countries like Iceland are there as shining examples of what the rest of us lesser nations really should be doing. In almost any measurement of a country’s success, whether it be the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Gender Empowerment Measure, or the Human Development Index, you will inevitably find in the top rankings some or all of the same handful of names: Norway, Finland, and the rest. Scandinavia, in short, seems to be having a moment. The closest any European nation comes to Nordic success is Germany, or possibly certain parts of Central Europe like Poland and the Czech Republic. The big names in the Euro crisis, meanwhile, include Portugal, Italy, and Greece. While there are exceptions to the rule, like Ireland, the divide in Europe appears to be shifting from East-West to NorthSouth. From cultural, economic, and political aspects, the pattern seems to hold. The severe North with its high growth rate, push for austerity, and often progressive social norms contrasts sharply with the sprawling and corrupt bureaucracy, high wealth disparity, and high unemployment of the relaxed South. Northerners may be virtual paragons of political perfection, but to borrow an expression from U.S. election history, Southerners seem more like the kind of people you could have a glass of wine with. To their credit, Southern countries are attempting to reform, but the fundamental nature of the changes needed make it something of an uphill battle. The widening economic gap between Europe’s North and South signals a growing need for vigilance in the South and patience in the North.
Can the North and South ﬁnd common ground? Of course, the Land of Ice and Snow is far from perfect. Despite having admirable social programs and democratic practices, aside and supposedly having the most literate and attractive people in the world who altruistically donate the most to African charities, the region is also known for its long, dark winters, high alcoholism rate, and troubling racism issues that are by-products of largelyhomogenous societies. Yet the brisk practicality of the North may prove to be a lesson the rest of the West can learn from. Sweden in particular could be a useful model for other nations’ economic woes. Like the United States, in 1993 Sweden suffered a financial crisis involving a burst housing bubble, failing banks, and record unemployment. Unlike the United States, however, Swedish bank bailouts had stringent caveats that made banks accountable to the government, and the crisis saw conservatives and liberals pulling together. Since the ‘90s, Sweden’s GDP has increased and its labor cost and unemployment rate has dropped dramatically. The Swedish public debt has fallen from 70 percent to three percent and 67 percent to 49 percent in the past decade. Indeed, Sweden in the new millennium is almost unrecognizable from the Sweden of 1993, which was far poorer as a nation than Italy or Spain. How did Sweden manage to pull off this democratic coup de grâce? Despite its chaotic beserker
roots, the country, much like its Nordic brothers, has a grounded tradition in valuing honesty, efficiency, and compromise above all. The social infrastructures in Scandinavian countries that are nearly the stuff of legend are part of a historical legacy of consensus and conformity that is likely aided by a low diversity rate. One only has to look to the Swedish policies that provide two-month paid maternity and parternity-leave and have prompted an impressive international shift in gender relations, or the Finnish education system that drops competition and standardized testing in favor of equality and individualized progress to understand the fascination foreign researchers have with this set of tiny, icy countries. While relatively-small populations and the Nordic tradition of an efficient, well-run public sector may have played a role in the North’s success, positive change in the South is certainly also within reach. While the rest of Europe squabbles, Scandinavia chills out and continues to quietly prosper. Some World Bank economists have even begun referring to successful national development as ‘going to Denmark.’ But with the future of the Eurozone at stake, it may be time for the South to do away with its permissive politics and embrace the practical, bracing winds of the North. ♦
When your country no longer wants you How can a nation orphan its citizens?
By Nashilu Mouen-Makoua, Staff Writer
hat if you were to pack your spouse, your kids and your suitcase for a family holiday, only to find your birth citizenship revoked the minute you board your outbound plane? Luckily for some, if your name does not sound like or rhyme with al-Berjaw, Sakr or Hashi, you will probably never face such a fate. Unfortunately for one father of four, the British government has expatriated him, having suspected the Sudanese (and formerly British) citizen of harboring terrorist ties. The case, known only as “L1,” is not an isolated incident, but actually an exemplar of 21 similar occurrences. Home Secretary Theresa May has expatriated 16 of 21 British citizens since 2010 alone, believing their exile to be “conducive to the public good.” A pattern emerges as to who will never be British enough: Seven out of the 21 concerned individuals have been Pakistaniborn. Of the remaining 14, one is Somaliborn, one Afghan-born, two Sudanese-born and one Egyptian-born. The origins of a further three remain unknown. Most shockingly, five of those rejected by Great Britain were actually born and raised in the U.K., including one man who had lived there since 1953 before having his passport cancelled while on holiday in Pakistan with three of his sons – they too were born in Britain; they too are now stateless. Despite governmental claims that Secretary May is “unlikely to have made [these] decisions without substantial and plausible grounds,” the Cameron administration refuses to provide evidence backing their assertion. Bilal al-Berjaw, Mohamed Sakr and Mahdi Hashi are names that may feel foreign to the English tongue – easily struck off Secretary May’s citizenship list – but they were once as British as John Smith, Charles Dickens, or even David Cameron. As British citizens, they deserve equal treatment under U.K. law, the current climate of Islamophobia notwithstanding. As Cage-
Prisoners executive director Asim Qureshi critiqued, “Just because our parents came from another country, we [are] subjected to an arbitrary process where we are no longer members of this country any more.” Citizenship is now apparently a privilege and no longer a right. The original terms of the “Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002” stated that only dual nationals guilty of “seriously prejudicial” acts against the U.K. could have their citizenship revoked. But following the 7/7 bombings of 2005, the terms were revised to allow use “conducive to the public good.” The law has now become anticipatory, allowing “alleged” suspects to be treated as guilty without hope of being proven innocent (exile takes place during an absence from the U.K., disallowing full appeals).
Citizenship is now apparently a privilege and no longer a right. U.S. drones targeted British-born Mohhamed Sakr soon after his citizenship was revoked while in Somalia, rendering him stateless and defenseless. The same fate befell Bilal al-Berjaw, assassinated in a drone attack 17 months after having his passport and nationality cancelled like bad credit cards. The two incidents have raised suspicions that the U.K. is colluding with the United States, as a report indicates that the deprivation of citizenship made it “easier for the United States to then designate [suspects] as an enemy combatants, to whom the U.K. owes no responsibility whatsoever.” It seems that the U.K., too, is eager to claim an Anwar al-Awlaki-style hit of its own. In a still more sinister case, the C.I.A. detained Londoner Mahdi Hashi on charges of working with Al-Shabaab after he witnessed U.S. torture in a Djibouti prison. Hashi had previously given an interview to The Independent describing MI5’s attempts to recruit him. He disappeared into Somalia in 2012 and was stripped of his citizenship by Secretary May shortly before reappearing in a U.S. high security jail. For Britons of ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly those with Islamic
ties, the question of whether one can ever truly belong has become more pressing than ever. But to believe that the United Kingdom is isolated in its actions is to miss the larger trend that has also seen the United States and Israeli governments attempt to eliminate unwanted elements of their society, without any transparency or accountability. The limits of this discrimination might appear to stop at surnames and skin tones, but rather than reassuring ourselves that “we” will not be targeted, we should be appalled and afraid at the way states have manufactured our consent. ♦
Reefer gladness Is a federally illegal drug the champion of states’ rights?
By Carrie Yang, Staff Writer
arijuana does not feel illegal. Maybe the debate feels abstract because 4/20 is a Berkeley campus holiday, or perhaps because current laws seem as effective as the drinking age. But with all state governments reducing penalties for marijuana possession, the federal government feels more like a looming big brother focused on trampling individual liberties rather than a benevolent protector. As the feds react too slowly to social changes, the question of legalization has changed from one about public health and safety to one about states’ rights and democracy. Those of us too young to remember World War One probably don’t remember a time when smoking was considered a personal vice rather than a national threat. Since Harry Anslinger launched a misguided campaign against marijuana in the 1930s, marijuana has suffered from national mudslinging. In the
last century, Americans were subject to successful propaganda that marijuana was (in the words of Anslinger) “a short-cut to the insane asylum,” and the creator of murderers and sexual lunatics. But marijuana has been proven to be much safer than current legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. It has proved to be non-lethal, and it has certainly proved not to turn people into crazy axe-wielding rapists. The public has finally seen through the smoky specter and found it not so menacing. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, support for this particular public enemy #1 has risen steadily from a record low of 12 percent in 1969 to a record high of 50 percent in 2011. In California, an electorate that just three years ago failed to pass Prop 19 would now vote 54 percent in favor of legalization. A recent Huffington Post poll puts the nationwide number even higher, finding that 59 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalization, with only 26 percent opposed to it. Unlike the War on Drugs — which originated from a national government unilaterally enforcing policies down on the states and then their citizens — the fight for legalization originated from the little people at the bottom and worked its way up to the top. Through campaigns and pressure from below, Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Washington’s Initiative 502 were placed on their respective states’ 2012 ballots, and then voted on not by Congress, but by individual voters. Now, many state-level officials are listening to their constituencies and proposing state marijuana legalization bills. In addition to the two states that just legalized recreational cannabis use, 18 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, 15 states have decriminalized marijuana, and six states are looking at legalizing recreational use. The federal government remains hesitant in the face of such popular contention. Since Colorado and Washington le-
galized weed, the Obama Administration has adopted a wait-and-see attitude instead of nipping untested state policies in the bud (NOTE: All puns are intended). In December 2012, President Obama called for a conversation on reconciling “a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that it’s legal”. But in the past few months, the feds have failed to issue new directives or engage in this national dialogue. Meanwhile, many states have interpreted this silence as a green light to blaze ahead with their own bills, making the pot issue a de facto state debate. However, the federal government still
The status quo is shifting, and the government cannot continue to unilaterally enforce draconian drug policies. has the legal power to mercilessly weed out these state policies. Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug with no officially recognized medical properties, making all statelegalized prescriptions federally illegal. In 2005, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of Congress to criminalize homegrown cannabis even in states with medical marijuana policies. Just last year, the D.E.A. shut down over more than 500 dispensaries in a period of eight months. While Obama recently issued statements about not persecuting individual users, such federal actions have created tensions between the quasi-legal industry and the masquerading-as-benign government. Despite his claims, Obama seems reluctant to open up a national marijuana debate. The status quo is shifting, and the government cannot continue to unilaterally enforce draconian drug policies. The way national leaders have set up the system, cannabis legalization becomes a victory of states and individuals against a centralized government. Over the next few years, marijuana advocates will increasingly push for legalization at the state level, while federal administrators remain unwilling or unable to lead the charge in the blood-shot gaze of a disapproving public eye. ♦
Nonviolent droning Rand Paul’s historic ﬁlibuster aims the G.O.P. away from the imperial presidency
By Brendan Pinder, Staff Writer
fter an eight-year term suffering incessant attacks concerning invasions of privacy, phone-tapping, profiling and arbitrary detainment of American citizens, President Bush left the Oval Office, replaced by a new president -- one who was expected to be different. And yet, after the first four years of the Obama’s presidency, the myriad bemoaned offenses of his predecessor have not only been largely continued, but the list of offenses has been length-
ened — namely, with the assassination of American citizens. This troubling policy so incensed Rand Paul — Republican senator from Kentucky — that he committed to one of the rarest undertakings in Washington: a traditional day-long filibuster. Timing in at 12 hours and 52 minutes, it ranked as the ninth-longest filibuster in recorded history. “I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said in his opening, assuring the Senate that he would not just pay lip service to the concept of the filibuster, but that he intended to run the full oratorical marathon. Throughout the nearly thirteen hours Paul spoke, he raised concerns regarding the president’s authorization of drone strikes on American citizens, most notably, the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in the fall of 2011. Around 7 p.m., Paul proposed a vote on a resolution condemning these drone killings. It was rejected, and
he continued the filibuster for five and a half more hours. Paul’s performance is paying dividends for him within the party. Just last March, Paul tidily secured the number one spot in the CPAC Republican straw poll, surpassing even party favorite, Marco Rubio. For a party desperately hoping to court the youth vote that rejected them in November, Rand Paul seems a promising hope. And keen to see this opportunity to introduce more libertarian values into the rigid Republican Party, the senator has been actively imaging himself as just that type of candidate, quipping: “The G.O.P. of old has grown stale and moss-covered” and “desperately need[s] new leadership”. For now, Paul’s political future remains uncertain. What remains undisputed however, is that we have certainly not heard the last from Senator Rand Paul. ♦
By Lindsey Lohman, Staff Writer
t starts with the profile pictures. Next, it works its way into networking: “So my friend is running for ASUC senator…” Soon Crossroads is a New Hampshire diner during primary season, and aggressive candidates (or their devoted friends) begin to walk you to class from Sproul. Yes, the ASUC elections are upon us, and — from the view of this freshman — it’s a little frightening. Though the ASUC elections at first appear to turn the campus into a mini Washington, D.C., a closer look reveals that they are not actually all that political. Rather, the elections are simply larger versions of those for a high school student government. Political parties, platforms, and professionallooking campaign ads are novelties to fresh-
men, but they mask the fact that naked popularity is just as important for successful ASUC candidates as it was for your high school student government officials. Campus culture emphasizes who is running over why they run and what they stand for. One rarely hears of a candidate’s platform; it’s more a competition of personality than a competition of political ideologies. As some upperclassmen have recalled, ASUC campaigns are focused more on memorability than identifying with students’ political views about the school. Niceness, attractiveness, and mutual friends factor into a candidate’s campaign, not so much what they plan to do once elected. What plans they do share are often overambitious for what the ASUC can actually do, again recalling the pledges of high school student governments. The Greek system, too, shows that the campaigns are more about popularity — getting the support of a frat or a soror-
Politics or popularity
ity can make or break a candidate’s chances of winning a seat. That’s not to say that campaigning at Cal is an easy job — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Getting one’s name into the minds of hundreds of students — and for it to stay there — is far from easy. For those who are able to do so, well done! But let’s not forget that the task at hand is not one of politics, but one of crafting an appealing personality and networking. ♦
Nerds of wisdom College is a learning experience outside the classroom
By Alex Kravitz, Opinion Editor
s graduation approaches, I look back at my four years at Cal and wonder: What did I learn here that I honestly couldn’t learn on my own time? Immediately, my mind jumps to six components: 1. Dorm life; 2. Student theater; 3. Cooperative housing; 4. Berkeley Political Review; 5. Work; and 6. Apartment life. But as I began writing, I realized that many of my friends who had graduated could no doubt share their own experiences to help better understand the role of the university in fostering wisdom beyond the mere content of its courses. UC Berkeley graduates suggested each of the following italicized phrases to me in their own anecdotes, which I related to my life: Advocate for yourself: The overwhelming message I got from graduates was that students -- especially young ones who go straight to college from high school -- need to learn how to look out for themselves. One graduate writes: “A university is an environment designed entirely to support you, the student, in becoming as worthwhile a human being as possible. You don’t realize this, generally, until you leave. Take advantage.” When I was feeling anxious and depressed, a full courseload seemed overwhelming. I spoke with academic counselors, but the best advice came rather unexpectedly from the now-defunct “Acting for Social Change” class. I learned that depression is a valid reason for taking less units and still being considered a full-time student. Moreover, the process of getting the administration to let me take less units for a couple semesters made me more confident about graduating, and really put the daily pressures of school in perspective. I went back to full units the next year. Roommates aren’t always friendly: As a senior in high school, the prospect of becoming good friends with my roommates appealed to me, although I never considered
it a certainty. I’m still friends with my former roommates, but the closeness we felt when living together was often only based on proximity, not emotions. Nonetheless, you learn how to live with people from widely different backgrounds, and their lived experiences can often change your previous conceptions. My roommates definitely changed my perceptions and made me much less elitist, and I’m glad to have had them after reading some of the harrowing tales that graduates told me about their former roommates. Acquire skills, not just style: Multiple graduates told me that skills are much more important than appellatives. Student organizations are great places to learn practical skills, but some people use them as superlatives for résumés and nothing more. These people are “joiners”, collecting extracurriculars like kleptomaniacs in an IKEA. Don’t fear them, and if you are one of them, make sure you’re actually learning skills, because in the “real” world, employers and colleagues will expect you to actually deliver, not just cite positions you used to hold in clubs. When I actually acquire skills -- from sales to tutoring to industrial-grade mopping to Photoshop — I tend to be less “talk” and more “walk.” I once made the mistake of listing my “moderate” skill level in Span-
ish for a job interview. The job required me to know Spanish. I feel that many young people don’t want to sell themselves short, but they overcompensate by selling themselves as replete with skills they don’t actually have. Graduates confirm that nobody in the “real” world cares how well you sell yourself -- they want to see what you can actually do. NOTE: One graduate said that learning the difference between bleach and laundry detergent was an epiphany. Though my mother taught me this lesson long ago, I can’t deny that distinguishing the two is a very practical skill. Appreciate Berkeley: One graduate (who also went to law school here) writes: “The people who make up the Berkeley community are somehow all really chill, down-to-earth, brilliant, but interesting and diverse people.” I’d have to agree. I highly recommend trying out different groups, the co-ops, and especially courses in varied departments. I’ve learned some sociology, public policy (<3 ROBERT REICH), environmental science, theater, disability studies, Mandarin and Arabic. Not sure how all of it will relate to my future, but it’s been a hell of a ride thus far, and I’ve met a smorgasbord of interesting people along the way. ♦
Alex: The Tyrannosaurus rex cast in the V.L.S.B. impressed me during CalSO and still does, making it my favorite spot on campus — I often walk through the building, if it’s on my way. Other graduates named Memorial Glade, Sproul, the East Asian Library, the F.S.M. terrace, and even Dwinelle (because of the memories, not the design) as their favorite spots on campus. What’s yours?
JUST THE FACTS Nose Jobs: United States vs. Iran
Syrian Civil War
Labor Participation Rate Iran has the highest rate of nose jobs in the world. The Rhinology Research Society of Iran conducted a study in co-operation with Johns Hopkins University in the US which showed that the rate of nose jobs per capita in Iran is seven times that in America. As many as 200,000 per year get them.
The U.S. labor participation rate has fallen to its lowest since May 1979, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report. The labor participation rate fell to 63.3 percent in March 2013.
The U.N. now estimates that more than 70,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the number at 120,000.
Talking Babboons Researchers studying the wild gelada baboons of Ethiopia extrapolated that the primatesâ€™ lip-smacking vocalizations are similar to what early human speech must have sounded like.
Attention Undergrads: Need a quiet place to study or host a group meeting? Reserve the new Robert T. Matsui Center Group Study Room!
Features include: • 55” HD TV • Wi-Fi • Whiteboard • Space for 20 people 117 Moses Hall
Reserve our study room
Reserve at politics.berkeley.edu
The Berkeley Political Review's Summer 2013 Issue! Volume XI, Issue No. 4: "Ex-Citizen"