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Editors' Note We often think of space as the final frontier, and it's true that—possibly more than anything else—the cosmos remains a mystery to almost everyone, even the scientific community. More than 85 percent of the universe is believed to be composed of dark matter, a substance whose very existence is hypothetical. Recently, astronomers pieced together the very first image of a black hole, offering some of the strongest empirical evidence to date for Einstein's theory of general relativity. But while the incomprehensibility of outer space seems daunting, it's important to remember that space isn't just about the extraordinary and intangible: The concept of space is also present in the way we envision our cities, allocate housing, build highways—even the policies we construct around immigration. In this issue, we take a look at some of the political questions surrounding both outer space and the space we occupy on earth. Ian Layzer calls attention to the problem of space debris, which threatens to make space exploration practically impossible, and emphasizes the need for a multilateral cleanup




discusses the

importance of writing new international legislation to regulate space militarization as India, Pakistan, and China develop their potential to wage war with satellites and rockets. Peter Lees explores the threat SpaceX poses to national space agencies, arguing that the US must bolster NASA as a vehicle of American soft power instead of relying on American tech giants. Finally, Noah Cowan examines





the legacy of an opportunistic land developer, and highlights modern Angelenos' fight for affordable housing and urban public transportation. As we move forward into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an age of self-driving cars and AIdesigned factories, we must also make sure that we prioritize the problems of space in all its definitions. As college students, we hold unique privileges, as well as the responsibility to use our education to advocate and legislate for positive change. In this issue, we hope to shed light on the meanings of space and its significance in political discussions.

— Ashley & Olivia

illustrator Bella Carlos '21


What’s going on at


Data Board Data Board produces interactive, data-driven stories. We are currently working to explore the relationship between religion and gender inequality; as well as the relationship between Medicaid prescriptions and opioid use. We have also started collaborating on infographics to accompany Content articles, starting with a visualization that explores gender and class disparities in workaholism.

BPRadio Follow BPRadio on SoundCloud and subscribe on iTunes. Hosts Aidan Calvelli ’19 and Noah Cowan ’19 give us some “Food for Thought” in our third episode of the season. Featuring interviews from anthropologist Sarah Besky and policy analyst Allen Hance, this episode offers a nuanced examination of how American federal food policy and ethical consumerism influence the food that ends up on our plates. In upcoming episodes, BPRadio will be exploring student activism, academic freedom, gender inequality in the workforce, and university emergency medical services. We are also featuring a conversation with Paul Krugman in collaboration with Interviews Board.

Media Board BPR Media is the online visual counterpart to the print magazine. We will be publishing videos that examine several hot-button topics: the stigma surrounding menstrual products and how a few Brown students are fighting to change this status quo; the influence donors have on the physical environment of Brown’s campus; and the impact of Rhode Island’s inadequate allotment of subsidized housing to residents experiencing homelessness.

Content: World Section Content: US Section In “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” Eleni Papapanou argues that the international community is failing to take responsibility in dealing with migrant deaths. She calls for the establishment of specific protocols around migrant deaths, including coordination identification tactics, in order to honor the deceased with the dignity and respect they deserve.

In “A Tale of Two Utopian Visions,” Natalie Fredman discusses the Kurdish People’s Protection Army (YPG), which hopes to replace ISIL’s patriarchal state with a “feminist anarchist ‘stateless democracy.’” She explains that while most domestic actors, especially young women, have embraced the radical new regime’s ideas, others see YPG’s changes as too extreme. Moving forward, shifting international presence in the region may also complicate matters, as YPG has “relied on the tactical and financial support of the United States” for many years.

Content: Culture Section Content Board BPR’s Content Board consists of over 50 staff writers and publishes approximately 150 articles per semester exclusively online. We wanted to celebrate the incredible work on our website by highlighting a few exceptional pieces. If you are interested in reading more, please visit

China’s Social Credit System (SCS)—which “judges citizens’ behavior and creditworthiness” on factors like purchase histories and one’s friends and family— shocked the Western world when it was introduced in 2014. What this narrative misses, according to Christina Ge, is that the SCS has historical precedent in the Cultural Revolution. In “The Historical Roots of the Social Credit System,” Christina Ge argues that the SCS’s chipping away at Chinese social fabric is merely a continuation of Mao’s legacy.

MASTHEAD Executive Board

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United States

EDITORS IN CHIEF Ashley Chen Olivia Nash

( continued )

( continued )

Christopher Lewis Catherine McClenahan Malini Naidu Eliza Namnoum Julia Pew Michael Power Achutha Srinivasan Jason Tang Gabriela Tenorio Huayu Wang Amelia Wyckoff Rachel Yan Megan Zhang

Brionne Frazier Rachel Fuller Indigo Funk Ricardo Gomez Lydia Gulick Jonathan Huang Sara Jacobsen Cynthia Lu Alex Reice Jackson Segal Andrew Steinberg Lucia Winton


Editorial SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR Mary Dong MANAGING EDITORS Emma Blake Uwa Ede-Osifo Peter Lees ASSOCIATE EDITORS Johanna Bandler Aidan Calvelli Noah Cowan Zander Blitzer Hyun Choi Noah Cowan Blaise Rebman Brendan Sweeney Jason Togut Marianna Scott Maia Vasaturo-Kolodner Leticia Wood

Copy Edit CO-CHIEF COPY EDITORS Namsai Sethpornpong Brendan Sweeney COPY EDITORS Caleigh Aviv Alicia Bracco Samuel Calagione Karina Chavarria Patrick Gilfillan Joseph Hinton Celeste Kelley

Interviews INTERVIEWS DIRECTOR Charlie Saperstein ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR Jack Doughty INTERVIEWS ASSOCIATES Sai Allu Jordan Allums Grace Banfield Breanna Cadena Tiffany Chen Peter Deegan Olivia George Alex Leake Glenn Yu


World SECTION MANAGERS Dhruv Gaur Sean Joyce Chris Kobel Zoë Mermelstein STAFF WRITERS Karina Bao Josh Baum Isabelle Belleza Anchita Dasgupta Natalie Fredman Quinton Huang Leonardo Moraveg Basit Muhammadi Loughlin Neuert Ye Chan Song Jack Otero Cameron Tripp Lucien Turczan-Lipets Alexandra Wells

Culture SECTION MANAGERS Katherine Dario Hugh Klein Maddy Noh Erika Undeland STAFF WRITERS Regina Caggiano Elana Confino-Pinzon Christina Ge Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo Kavya Nayak Mira Ortegon Ava Rosenbaum Jamie Smith Tolulope Sogade Daniel Steinfeld Alex Vaughn Williams Dorothy Margit Windham Shady Yassin

United States SECTION MANAGERS AJ Braverman Nicholas Lindseth Brendan Pierce Cartie Werthman ASSOCIATE SECTION MANAGERS Ellie Papapanou Emily Skahill STAFF WRITERS Luke Angelillo Morgan Awner Matthew Bailey Roxanne Barnes Zander Blitzer Molly Cook Rocket Drew

Data DATA DIRECTOR Julia Gilman ASSOCIATE DATA DIRECTOR Zachary Horvitz DATA EDITOR Angie Kim CHIEF PLATFORM ARCHITECT Benjamin Gershuny DATA ASSOCIATES Prakrit Baruah Erika Bussmann Sophia Chen Sarah Conlisk Ari Goldbloom-Helzner John Graves Catherine Habgood Peter Kelly Bilal Memon Huayu Ouyang Kyle Qian Emilia Ruzicka Aansh Shah Andrew Wei

Marketing, Operations & Business ( continued ) MOB ASSOCIATES (cont) Auden Elliott Julia Hondros Stephanie Kendler Ethan Kuhl Karolyn Lee William Pate Calista Shang

Media MEDIA DIRECTORS Luke Landis Selene Luna CONTENT CREATORS Clara Devine-Golub Nicholas Fuchs Antonia Huth Jenna Israel Elliott Lehrer Olivia Rosenbloom Maya Smith Yashi Wang

Podcast EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Emily Skahill PODCAST ASSOCIATES Isabelle Belleza Aidan Calvelli Kia Cating Noah Cowan Katherine Dario Bella Hoang Jack Kates Tobi Lepecki Rachel Lim Moses Lurbur Ali Martinez Henry Peebles-Capin Isabel Tejera

Creative CREATIVE DIRECTORS Jeff Katz Katie Kwak ART DIRECTOR Sabrina Futch DESIGN DIRECTOR Gabrielle Widjaja DESIGNERS Jaewon Kim Madeline Ko Minji Koo Libby Marrs Cathy Park CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS Maddie Brewer, Reiley Johnson Jeff Katz, Xuan Liu Taylor Pannell, Cathy Park Daimei Wu, Claire Wyman Molly Young, Franco Zacharzewski Shyaoman Zhang COVER ARTIST Bella Carlos

Marketing, Operations & Business MOB DIRECTORS Dorian Arber Kornowski Anne Cheng MOB ASSOCIATES Auden Elliott Julia Hondros Stephanie Kendler

Web WEB DIRECTOR Raymond Cao DEVELOPERS Yusuf Karim Sam Wilkins Stanley Yip

BROWN POLITICAL REVIEW SPRING 2019 ISSUE 2 3 Editors' Note 4 What's Going On in BPR


5 Masthead


TANGO TANGLE On Tango, Blackness, and Argentina


NORMAN GARRICK Interview by Jack Doughty


MENG'S PLIGHT China's slowing economy and a new dimension in Sino-Western relations


POUTINE NATIONALISM BACK IN QUÉBEC The xenophobic roots of Québécois ethnic nationalism


JOSEPH PUCCI Interview by Alex Leake


illustrator Daimei Wu '20

RETHINKING PATERNITY LEAVE How Norway's "father quota" is pushing gender norms


CRASH COURSE It's time to clean up our space debris


Interview by Grace Banfield





The implications of non-Black students attending historically black universities

Securing NASA's status as a diplomatic tool for the US 32




STOPPING STAR WARS The need for regulation of international space militarization



SEARCHING FOR A SOUL The struggle over the urbanization of Los Angeles

LET THEM (H-1)B Reforming the visa system for America's international students


JONATHAN ZIMMERMAN Interview by Jordan Allums

JUMP ON IT Diving into the benefits of e-bikes and scooters

Interview by Olivia George



GODFREY REGGIO Interview by Glenn Yu


BACK TO BRAC Making military base closures work

illustrator Claire Wyman '19


Tango Tangle On Tango, Blackness, and Argentina

by Uwa Ede-Osifo '22 a prospective International Relations concentrator and a Managing Editor at BPR


illustrator Franco Zacharzewski '19


“In Argentina, Blacks do not exist. That is a Brazilian problem,” remarked Carlos Menem, the former president of Argentina. His problematic statement exemplifies the country’s tense relationship with race. Contrary to Menem’s statement, however, Afro-Argentines are inextricably linked to the country’s society through Argentina’s most popular national symbol: tango. Though the popularity of tango transcends national boundaries, its true influences remain tucked into a crevice of Argentina’s history. Unbeknownst to many who assume that tango is a product of the whiter aspects of Argentinian culture, the dance’s roots have distinctive Black origins. Indeed, Argentina’s history reveals a complex ideological and literal erasure of the Afro-Argentine presence. Tango can be used as a vehicle to critique the decentralization of racial narratives in Argentina and the country’s attempts to adapt the Black aesthetic in order to demonstrate its modernization to the rest of the world.


Over the past few centuries, there has been a steep decline in the number of people who identify as Afro-Argentine. In the 1810, 1822, and 1838 censuses, over 25 percent of the population identified as Black. However, in 1887, this number dropped to 1.8 percent. The census has not asked about race since, but a 2006 survey showed that only five percent of Argentines believe they have at least one Black ancestor. So where did these Afro-Argentines go? The answer lies in immigration patterns, historical perjury, and racial miscegenation. First, at the end of the 19th century, Argentina had one of the highest rates of European immigration, which drastically reduced the percentage of the population with African origins. Furthermore, census data is misleading: Many census recorders viewed Black communities as “undesirable” and avoided these

areas when collecting data. Some Black communities also avoided census takers to escape draft selection. Moreover, even those surveyed are misrepresented. The census has only sporadically included “Afro-Argentine” as an option, and it does not consider how Argentina’s government has stretched the boundaries of whiteness. “White” in Argentina includes those who would be referred to as mulattos or mestizos in other countries, even for individuals who may identify as Afro-Argentine. Ultimately, Argentina viewed white hegemony as the key to a brighter future in the hierarchy of the world. José Ingenieros, a Latin American sociologist, went so far as to argue that the Europeanization of Argentina should be embraced because “by an inevitable law of sociology, the more highly evolved social organisms overcome the less evolved.” To the government, Afro-Argentines were not a part of this more modern future.

Exploring the history of tango lends great insight into the cultural erasure of the Black community. The most direct ancestor of tango is candombe, a public dance performed by the African societies of Buenos Aires. Candombe was an expression of solidarity—an effort to connect enslaved people taken from a variety of distinct African nations. The etymology of the word “tango,” as it is now known, is ambiguous, but Latin American historians generally agree that it signified the dancing done to drums. Thus, Argentines began to refer to tango as “black dancing” since drums were a popular instrument of candombe. However, as the number of Afro-Argentines declined, fewer Black Argentines performed the dance. Its tradition was extended instead through blackface, and candombe became a “mocking musical impression of blackness.” White performers danced what was once candombe in attempts to appropriate and redefine blackness, thus



undermining the unity seen within the communities of enslaved Africans. In this respect, blackface performances played on tropes of Black people’s cultural traditions as being “backward” and comical, thereby associating Afro-Argentines with vice and barbarism. At the start of the 20th century, the dance was still clandestine, limited to slums and brothels. Many Argentine men of the urban lower class attended these underground performances, eventually teaching their family members and spouses what they had learned. Soon, however, white, non-blackface performers entered into the genre, fusing candombe moves with the closed-couple choreography of the international ballroom scene. In turn, the dance evolved into its modern form—tango—and the middle class began to adopt it more publicly. Around 1910, tango became all the rage in Paris when white dancers toured internationally. This convinced “the polite society” of Argentina to finally appreciate the dance. Paris’ ability to radically transform negative perceptions of tango speaks to the larger socio-political dynamics between Latin America and Europe. Parisians were arbitrators of taste and gave tango the racial validation it needed to ascend from the masses to high society. As a former colony of Spain, Argentina sought to prove itself globally and immediately capitalized on this opportunity to market tango as a staple of its white pop culture, leaving the Afro-Argentines who gave rise to this dance in the shadows. Argentina and other countries did not borrow tango. Rather, the dance was stolen and reconstructed. The rise of tango alludes to a broader question: Why is Black culture often so attractive to white people? Well, tango’s appropriation yielded clear monetary benefits. The commodified Blackness of tango was profitable for Argentina, as it granted the country global recognition in the


“The census has only sporadically included 'Afro-Argentine' as an option, and it does not consider how Argentina’s government has stretched the boundaries of whiteness” entertainment industry. On a more profound level, tango allowed white Argentinians to defy the limits of their whiteness. Following the stereotyping of enslaved Africans as hypersexual and primitive, the “hipdriven undulations” of candombe were seen as bold displays of sexuality that starkly diverged from the more conservative dances of the elite society. Tango was appropriated to satiate the curiosity and demands of a modernizing, consumption-focused world. To dance tango was to experience, even if only briefly, the forbidden and exotic “other.” However, the nationalization of Blackness vis-á-vis tango did not change the fact that Black people remained at the periphery of the white Argentinian consciousness— they were still politically repressed and socially marginalized. Ultimately, tango is now more than just a dance. It is a sustained, constructed imagination of progress and civilization that has been reproduced and normalized within Argentinian life. Tango’s abrasive, sharp, and sexy nature hints at not only the unapologetic erasure of Afro-Argentines but also at the dependence of Argentine popular culture on its Black community.


Interview with

Norman Garrick Norman Garrick is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Connecticut. His research is focused on sustainable transportation and urban planning. Dr. Garrick was also a visiting professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and a former board member of the Congress of New Urbanism. Additionally, he writes content on urban planning and pedestrian facility design for The Atlantic's City Lab.

What constitutes a city’s urban fabric? Is this a universal set of characteristics, or is it unique to each city? What is the condition of Providence’s urban fabric? It begins with the streets, the buildings. Cities were formerly built in an urbanistic way! They were streetcar accessible. People were working and living in cities. The street network facilitated people’s lifestyles in the city. My colleagues and I completed a simulation reconstruction of historic Bridgeport, and you wouldn’t recognize its character today. It has lost its urban fabric and is almost bankrupt as a result. Providence hasn’t seen this same destruction. Providence seems to invest development resources in cultural and arts attractions, walkability, and general livability exclusively in its Downcity. Can Providence introduce elements of a service economy to counter the gentrifying aspects of downtown development? These can and should exist side-by-side. New England cities focus on crafting attractions to draw people in from the surrounding suburbs. They are not focusing on the residents that want to live and work there. Cities need to better evaluate their competing priorities to preserve their urban fabric and character.

the question of where we want to place our priorities. Do we want our transportation systems to be competitive? Providence really does have so many advantages. With an intact urban fabric and seamless connections to Boston, there are nothing but possibilities to create a city that is car-free. If transportation continues to be perceived as being “for poor people,” it will continue to operate the way it does now. Political actors, when they make the connection between economics and urbanism, can achieve remarkable development feats. What has lead to such attitudes towards transportation in the United States? Just consider car culture. Here, cars are associated with freedom. Public transportation is not considered to allow for free movement. We need social and political capital to change. Cambridge, Massachusetts, has done it, not even because of its affluence. It harnessed its strategic position, and its populations have questioned their assumptions about car transportation. All highways stop at the boundary of Cambridge. What obstacles do wealth inequality pose to the growth and development of a city?

Wealth has to do with how we describe place. In Connecticut and much of New England, the word “city” is used to describe where poor people live. We I am wondering if Rhode Island’s population is need to change our language; we need to reframe detrimental to its urban development potential. our discourse when we discuss cities. I do think that I’ve read that the RIPTA has a severe ridership Providence is possibly among the most vibrant New dilemma, and thus does not expand service. England communities and has tremendous potential Should Providence’s smaller population stand to overcome many challenges. in the way of embracing projects to improve connectivity? Providence is a city of nearly 200,000 people. In my opinion, there is no sparsity problem. You’re getting at

interviewer Jack Doughty '22 illustrator Jeff Katz '21



Meng’s Plight China's slowing economy and a new dimension in Sino-Western relations by Christina Ge '20 a Philosophy concentrator and a Culture Staff Writer at BPR illustrator Daimei Wu '20

In December 2018, Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport while en route to Mexico. Meng, who is accused of deceiving American banks into doing business with Iranian companies and violating American sanctions, faces extradition charges to the US. Canada’s arrest of Meng has infuriated Chinese officials, who have retaliated by detaining several Canadians and sentencing a Canadian drug smuggler to death. After posting seven and a half million dollars in bail, Meng is currently under house arrest in her luxurious Vancouver home. Given the various stakeholders in her case—China, the US, and Canada—Meng’s case is quite divisive. The split sentiments from her case reveal deep uncertainty about China’s economic future, both at home and abroad, and offer a unique view of China’s delicate trade relationships with the Western world. Amidst the disputed tensions among the three countries, Meng’s arrest has created a rift in Chinese-Canadian


relations in Vancouver, a city known for its significant Chinese population and foreign-owned mansions. Despite being on 24-hour surveillance, Meng has had relatively free access to travel and currently lives in her six-bedroom house worth $6 million CAD ($4.5 million USD), while her other mansion, worth $16 million CAD ($12 million USD) stands empty in the wealthy neighborhood of Shaughnessy. Though some Chinese immigrants view Meng as a source of national pride and a victim of US bullying, other residents are less sympathetic, as they resent the foreign ownership of luxurious mansions. Scholars such as Andy Yan, a professor at Simon Fraser University, have observed that Meng's arrest is tapping into the resentment people feel towards Vancouver’s wealth inequality: “[Vancouverites have] this idea that foreigners are buying freedom here and turning Vancouver into a hedge city where you park your money but you don’t stay.” Indeed, Karen Weichel, Meng’s




neighbor in Dunbar, gestured to Meng’s luxury home and remarked, “If you have to be in prison, this doesn’t seem like a bad one to be in.”

billions into the “Made in China 2025” plan, which strives to propel China to lead in global industries such as robotics, electric cars, and computer chips.

However, among some Chinese immigrants, Meng’s situation serves as a painful reminder of Canada’s racist past, particularly of the historic institutional oppression of Chinese people. Between 1885 and 1923, the Canadian government imposed a “head tax” on Chinese immigrants. In 1923, Chinese immigration was banned altogether with rare exceptions, a ban that lasted more than two decades. As Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the University of British Columbia noted, the targeting of Meng “has become a powerful symbol of Chinese people once again being subjugated.”

In recent years, China’s advances in technology have appeared to threaten the US, as evidenced by President Trump’s strong, adversarial stance and his imposition of billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods. In particular, the Trump administration has made extensive efforts to curtail Huawei’s presence in the US and its allies, citing intelligence concerns. As China currently pushes its domestic products into the global market, the US is cracking down and limiting China’s attempts to increase its global presence. In some ways, Meng’s case seems to be an unfortunate casualty of the trade and technology war as China continues to be understood as an adversary of the US.

“Amidst the disputed tensions among the three countries, Meng’s In China, the public is also outraged by the arrest of Meng. The Chinese arrest has created government’s state-run tabloid The Global Times suggested Meng’s arrest a rift in Chinesehas explicit financial agendas: “Some Canadian Western countries are resorting to political means to resist Huawei’s relations in attempts to enter into their markets.” Certainly, President Trump’s claim that Vancouver—a he would intervene in Meng’s case if city known for such an action could secure a trade deal with Beijing demonstrates such its significant ulterior motives, as well as a willingness to politicize a legal matter over Chinese popuwhich he has no jurisdiction. Global lation and Times also wrote that “arresting Meng Wanzhou is bringing terrorism to state foreign-owned and business competition,” further mansions.” stoking nationalistic resentment. These complex emotions convey important implications for the dynamic Chinese economy and the uncertainty of its future. Huawei is the largest telecom-equipment manufacturer in the world, and it recently surpassed Apple as the second largest manufacturer of smartphones after Samsung. An increasingly powerful economic player, Huawei announced in July 2018 that it would increase its annual expenditure on research and development to as much as $20 billion, aiming to become the only company to produce much-anticipated 5G network elements at “scale and cost.” Racing against other countries in “the fourth industrial revolution,” China is investing


Meanwhile, President Xi has continued to emphasize self-sufficiency in China’s tech sector. Though it originally joined the global economy by assuming the role of the world’s “shop floor,” China is no longer satisfied with its role as the cheap-labor supplier for foreign industries. While manufacturing generates wealth, it is unsustainable as a method of continuously employing China’s large labor force due to the threat of automation. As such, manufacturing no longer promises the high rates of economic growth that China has experienced in past decades.

Since assuming office in 2013, President Xi has tightened his grip on the economy. The share of new bank loans for state-owned firms has risen from 30 percent in 2013 to 70 percent now, the private sector and its output have stagnated, and capital flows have become tightly regulated. Despite these efforts, Xi’s “Made in China 2025” plan to dominate high-tech industries has yet to produce results. This could be due to the fact that Xi made predictions based on China’s historically impressive growth trajectory rather than the present situation. Since 1980, the economy has grown at a 10 percent rate, compounded annually, and some 800 million people have lifted themselves out of poverty.


“Though it originally joined the global economy by assuming the role of the world’s ‘shop floor,’ China is no longer satisfied with its role as the cheap-labor supplier for foreign industries. While manufacturing generates wealth, it is unsustainable as a method of continuously employing China’s large labor force due to the threat of automation.”

Under Xi’s rule, the state has injected artificial liquidity into the economy every time it stagnates in an attempt to continue this trend. In January 2019, Chinese banks loaned $477 billion, setting a historical record. However, since resources and capital are being squandered by inefficient projects, growth has recently slowed, debt has surged, and interest payments have amounted to nearly three-quarters of new loans. In fact, beneath the romanticized self-sufficiency rhetoric of the “Made in China 2025” campaign, China’s economic model poses serious concerns. Many countries in Europe and Asia agree that China’s statedriven capitalism hinders its reputation in global markets as it “funnels cheap capital towards state firms, bullies private companies, and breaches the rights of foreign ones.” China’s heavy state-directed investment has yielded few returns this quarter, indicating that growth may fall to six percent, the lowest in nearly three decades. Until Xi relinquishes his grip on the state economy, China will not be able to encourage true efficiency or fair competition.

Although attitudes toward Huawei remain ambivalent, one thing is certain: The Chinese economic model must be scrutinized. Amidst trade war politics, Meng’s arrest is symbolic of the global pushback against one of China’s most influential corporations. Huawei’s burgeoning international presence marks a distinct move away from China’s original equipment manufacturing role in global markets. For Huawei, the quest to international acceptance will encounter strong US pushback, and for China’s economy, the road ahead will certainly be bumpy.

More importantly, Xi’s model proves unsustainable in building a future with the West. As trade tensions rise, China can no longer rely on the rest of the world for economic growth, nor can it rely on expanding a few domestic firms such as Huawei, which has encountered great backlash in Western markets. Although some have conceived the trade war to be a mere clash between two strong personalities, China’s current path is leading it toward long-term economic instability. By curtailing state control, President Xi could make China more attractive and trustworthy to foreign nations and permanently invigorate the economy rather than temporarily spur it through state-injected booms.



Poutine Nationalism Back in Québec Highways and immigration are the new faces of Québécois national identity by Lucien Turczan-Lipets '21 a Comparative Literature concentrator and a World Staff Writer at BPR illustrator Shyaoman Zhang '21

The Canadian province of Québec is rife with spatial divisions, which primarily stem from cultural rifts between the Anglophone, Francophone, and immigrant populations that reside in the multicultural province. Bridging these divides is the illusion of Québec’s progressive identity as the crossroads of France and Canada. After winning a majority in the October 2018 provincial elections, a new right-wing party, the Coalition for Québec’s Future (CAQ in French), has unhinged the myth of a progressive tradition. The CAQ’s platform takes a new stance on Québec nationalism that departs from the attitudes of many historic separatists, who saw Québec as independent from Canada. Instead, the CAQ is focused on fortifying the internal conception of how the space of Québec itself is filled and how Québec is defined. Although Québec’s historic left-wing nationalism has shifted to the right and lost its militancy, it still maintains a xenophobic undercurrent that’s merely hidden behind the facade of social democracy. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Québec was divided between separatists and remainers, and though the separatists have faded into the Great White North, Québécois ethnic nationalism has persisted. During the 1980s, politicians seized the opportunity to develop an immigration-friendly approach


to sovereignty. Gérard Godin, the immigration minister during that era, viewed immigration as an opportunity for an independent Québec to thrive. After the close 1995 referendum for independence, the premier of Godin’s left-wing party, Jacques Parizeau, claimed that the loss was due to “money and ethnic [read: non-white Québécois] votes.” Parizeau’s remark was effectively a sneer at Montréal’s Jewish citizens and immigrants who voted overwhelmingly to stay in Canada. This sentiment epitomized the anxiety of the far left-wing party to preserve ethnic hegemony in Québec. But in 2018, for the first time since 1966, the Québec government has shifted right while maintaining its core nationalist tendencies. Two policies of the CAQ platform stood out for voters: new regulations on immigration and an expansion of the suburban and rural highway networks in the province. The link between these policies seems to be that immigrants mostly live in cities while white Francophone voters mostly dwell in the spaces outside of urban Montréal. If the CAQ expands infrastructure for its voter base, it could solidify the space the voters inhabit both physically and politically. The proposed highways would better connect Montréal’s suburbs. While the proposal has good intentions


“If the CAQ expands infrastructure for its voter base, it could solidify the space the voters inhabit both physically and politically.” of easing traffic congestion on the outskirts of the city, the $7.5 billion project ignores many infrastructure issues of the subway system at the city’s core. The sprawling, mostly white Francophone suburbs of Montréal stand in direct contrast to the municipality of Montréal, where 87 percent of the province’s 50,000 immigrants choose to live each year. By invigorating the expansion of highways, the CAQ is drawing on the very tenets of Québécois nationalism: the spatial manifestation of an ethnically French presence on North American land. The CAQ is reasserting ethnic nationalism not only by increasing the connectivity of the spaces in which Québécois nationalism manifests most strongly, but also by restricting who has the legal right to enter Québec in the first place. For François Legault, the new premier of Québec, the goal of reducing immigration by 20 percent is directly linked to an ideological plan for Québécois identity. After meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in January, Legault stated, “When we look at the immigration situation in Québec, the problem I see… is that there are too many who are not qualified and too many who do not speak French.” He later added in a comment to the Montréal newspaper Le Devoir, “We’d take more French people and Europeans as well.” It is reasonable to assume that

French-speaking immigrants would integrate more easily into Québec. However, Legault’s latter comments are problematic as they blatantly appeal to ethnic Europeans, who he envisions could integrate into the region more efficiently than the more diverse populations from the broader Francophone world. The CAQ’s vigorous advocacy for highways and against immigration reveals the continued assertion of white, French dominance on the land and demographics of Québec. Over the decades, the manifestation of this attitude has transformed from a debate of Québec versus Canada to a debate of Québécois versus non-Francophone and non-European residents. But no matter where the ruling party lies on the political spectrum, Québec’s leaders seem to be guided by the same racist and xenophobic underpinnings that have existed for decades. In a modern Canada that prides itself on welcoming immigrants and refugees with open arms, Québec is lagging behind and desperately needs to catch up.



Interview with

Joseph Pucci Joseph Pucci is a Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Brown. His classes deal with topics such as medieval Latin, late antiquity, literary selfhood, and the Western tradition. He has authored or edited seven books, including The Classics Renewed: Reception and Innovation in the Latin Poetry of Late Antiquity and The Full-Knowing Reader: Allusion and the Power of the Reader in the Western Literary Tradition.

interviewer Alex Leake '22 illustrator Jeff Katz '21

How did you decide you wanted to give ancient topics—such as late antiquity and Latin—a renewed place in modern times? I don’t know that I’ve created a space for them. I didn’t start with that in mind. The simple answer is I was always interested in medieval history. There’s no way to make sense of it without knowing antiquity. Is it the poet’s or reader’s responsibility to create a space for the reader within a piece of poetry? It’s both. Any of the authors that I study are consciously engaging with and alluding to earlier authors. Still, that doesn’t mean that all readers will be equal to the task of receiving that material—recognizing it, understanding it. It’s an interplay. To what extent should we allow these ancient Greek and Roman traditions to fill our imaginations? There is no limit. I am thinking of the novelist Madeline Miller—a Brown alum. Her novels are based on ancient materials and figures. Antiquity fills her whole mind. She transforms this filling into a novelistic form and writes these beautiful novels. It’s whatever the mind wants it to be or not to be. It is our choice. How do we balance incorporating knowledge and lessons from the past, present, and future within ourselves—particularly when they compete for space in our minds? We privilege our contemporaneity. It is more difficult to think about older things because we have to put more energy into contextualizing them to make sense


of them. I believe in people pursuing what they are passionate about and then letting the chips fall where they may. Now I want to move on and talk about your work on presidents and historical figures. Why do some figures, such as Washington and Jefferson, seem to take up more space in our histories and imaginations as time goes on? As we look into people of the past, they become more remote and more mythologized. You see them more in silhouette than detail. It is a function of any current moment. The older figure is the more remote and somehow more attractive. Is it possible to make some of these historical figures too large or does history properly allocate space to them? It depends. We certainly can make too much of them or too little. It’s history’s and the historian’s job to create the right kind of space. Washington shouldn’t seem like this huge Washington Monument figure, but rather a more accessible human figure. Much of your study is spent with a focus on the past. This is important, but is it possible to spend too much time looking back? If you want to spend time there, you should. We all have our obsessions and our excesses. I think that anyone can be obsessive and not live a life and just be caught in the past. On the other hand, I think it’s important for all of us to spend some time in the past.


Rethinking Paternity Leave How Norway’s “father quota” is pushing gender norms by Emily Rust '22 a prospective History and East-Asian Studies concentrator infographic Cathy Park '20

disclaimer: Because this article considers gender differences in the traditionally heterosexual nuclear family, it contains more heteronormative and binary language than I would usually accept. Regarding the “father quota,” the legislation uses phrases like father, co-mother, or co-parent to identify the person who is not giving birth to the child. If parents have a child through their own pregnancy, the paid leave conditions are the same regardless of the parents’ genders. If this is not the case, the conditions differ slightly depending on whether the parents had the child through adoption or surrogacy. Additionally, single parents have the right to use the entire leave period, all quotas removed. In Norway, it is routine to see men pushing strollers down the street on any given weekday. However, just 25 years ago, a father taking time off from work to care for his newborn would have raised eyebrows. Now, politician Audun Lysbakken explains, “not taking paternity leave would be controversial.” Indeed, paternity leave has become a norm in the country, largely due to efforts by lawmakers to equalize childcare. Norway first initiated a leave quota in 1993, setting aside four weeks of paid, non-transferable parental leave for fathers. If a father did not take four weeks off, the family would lose this paid leave entirely, thus incentivizing men to spend more time with their children. While the number of weeks allocated to this father quota has fluctuated since its inception, it was most recently updated in July 2018. The total duration of paid leave for a family has remained at a constant 46 weeks over the past decade, but the 2018 change raised the amount of leave time that each parent must take to receive monetary benefits from 10

weeks to 15. This revision limited a family’s ability to allocate its own time as it sees fit, sparking a vigorous debate. Though there are substantial arguments on both sides of this discussion, the increased father quota will make it easier for men to spend formative time with their newborn children while simultaneously allowing women to return to the workplace sooner after childbirth. This change will instigate positive progress in Norwegian society, altering norms that designate mothers as caregivers and fathers as breadwinners. Critics of the 2018 amendment have made biological arguments against a lengthened paternity leave. Some experts believe that a mother’s absence can negatively impact a child in the early stages of development. The leader of the Norwegian Midwife’s Association warned against limiting the amount of leave a woman can take after birth, emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding on children’s longterm development. However, there is no consensus on the relationship



between a child’s health and the father quota, and some experts reject the Norwegian Midwife’s Association’s claim. The Norwegian Directorate of Health, for example, recommends that mothers breastfeed babies for six months, at which time parents should begin introducing solid food to children’s diets. If a woman takes both her full quota and the shared period off, she can spend seven paid months with her baby, which satisfies this recommendation.

Trends in Norway's Parental Leave Policy

Perhaps more important than critics’ biological concerns are questions of autonomy. Opponents have argued that today’s 15-week quota is an unnecessary infringement on the right to choose how to organize one’s family. More than 29,000 people have signed a petition titled “Allow Families to Take Back the Right of Parental Leave Distribution.” Additionally, the Progress Party’s youth wing leader argued that no family is the same and that parents should be given the freedom to decide how to divide up the allotted weeks according to their needs. Indeed, one parent’s profession might more easily lend itself to missed time. For example, suppose the father of one family is a teacher and the mother is a writer. The father’s absence will impact others more substantially and would be considered a greater interruption; thus, this family might wish to allocate all the leave time to the mother. However, under the quota, this freedom is limited.

“Norway’s updated quota system poses an interesting contradiction: It both restricts and promotes freedom, reducing flexibility in allocating leave time while simultaneously allowing both men and women to free themselves from stereotyped gender expectations.”


Although families are more restricted in how they allocate time under the quota, they have gained the ability to circumvent gender norms. Notably, employers cannot challenge a man’s decision to take an increased period of leave after the birth of his child. This normalizes paternity leave, giving men greater leeway to prioritize their families, ultimately shifting the traditional gendering of family roles. Moreover, fathers have welcomed this change: According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV), the majority of fathers support a 15-week father quota. This demonstrates that, contrary to conventional gender norms, Norwegian fathers want to play a more active role at home following the birth of their children. Without the quota, this pattern of sharing parental leave would likely not occur. Based on statistics from NAV, few fathers are willing to take more time off than the quota requires, despite support for increased quota periods. This underscores the necessity and ability of this law to equalize care by giving fathers the flexibility and validation to be more active in their children’s development.


“Contrary to conventional gender norms, Norwegian fathers want to play a more active role at home following the birth of their children.”

The quota also grants mothers greater freedom to return to work earlier with the reassurance that their babies are safe in the hands of their partners. Lars Jacob Hiim from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise explains that longer maternity leave periods stall women’s careers. In the US, maternity leave is one of the main underlying causes of the wage gap. Longer paternity leave leads to greater female participation in the workplace, sharing the burden of interruption in each parent’s work. Since both parents, regardless of gender, are expected to take leave, employers are less likely to consider a woman’s childbearing plans or capacity when hiring new employees, thus reducing the potential for gender-based discrimination. In addition to gender roles being dismantled in the workplace, the father quota corresponds with a greater level of equality within families. Studies have shown that households in which fathers take leave yield more balanced distributions of housework between partners long after the birth of a child. More notable, however, was a 2013 study highlighting generational impacts of

the increased quota. Researchers found a more even distribution of chores between male and female siblings born after the establishment of the father quota than between siblings born before its ratification. Norway’s updated quota system poses an interesting contradiction: It both restricts and promotes freedom, reducing flexibility in allocating leave time while simultaneously allowing both men and women to free themselves from stereotyped gender expectations. Men are able to take the leave they desire and not be confined by the traditional breadwinner role that had previously hindered their ability to spend meaningful time with their newborns. Additionally, the evolving gender norms remove the pressure for women to choose between child-rearing and a career. Ultimately, despite this quota, families can still decide how to allocate much of their leave time. The cultural shift that the quota increase incentivizes will give rise to long-term benefits that make space for fathers to be fathers and allow mothers to be more than mothers.


Special Feature

Crash Course 24

Interview: Alan Eustace 27

Big Rocket, Soft Power 28

Interview: Stephen Kinzer 32

Stopping Star Wars 33

Interview: Jonathan Zimmerman 35

Searching for a Soul 36


CRASH COURSE It's time to clean up our space debris by Ian Layzer '22 a prospective Applied Math-Computer Science concentrator illustrator Claire Wyman '19

On February 10, 2009, the deactivated Russian satellite Kosmos-2251 and the American commercial satellite Iridium 33 smashed into each other at a speed of almost 12 kilometers per second, each shattering into thousands of pieces that continue to hurtle around Earth to this day. This collision remains one of the most drastic incidents of space debris creation in history. The term “space debris” refers to the tens of thousands of defunct satellites, spent rocket stages, and other fragments of manmade objects that litter Earth’s exosphere. NASA tracks over 500,000 pieces of debris the size of a marble or larger, 20,000 of which are larger than a softball. While catastrophic collisions like the 2009 event are rare, debris does not just disappear—it can stay in orbit for centuries. It does not take a large-scale collision to damage an operational spacecraft, either: Debris as small as paint flecks can cause serious damage when flying at over 10 kilometers per second. For this reason, space debris of any size poses a significant threat to all space operations and is a top priority for every space agency in the world.



Many spacefaring nations have taken steps to reduce the production of space debris. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that all spacecraft must either deorbit upon deactivation or enter a “graveyard” orbit, one of such high altitude that the spacecraft poses a negligible threat. Other countries have implemented similar regulations. However, preventing the production of more space debris is not enough. Even if no new debris is created, physicists argue that collisions between existing debris will exponentially increase the amount of debris in orbit and consequently, the frequency of collisions. This may lead to a runaway chain reaction dubbed the Kessler Syndrome, in which space orbit is so polluted that even activities like satellite operation, let alone space travel, become nearly impossible. For this reason, countries that launch spacecraft must begin to clean up existing debris in addition to limiting the production of future debris. But despite its relevance to every spacefaring country, the issue of space debris is not adequately addressed by international law. Perhaps the most important international agreement pertaining to space research and exploration is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which was originally intended to preserve space as a neutral sphere during the Cold War. While debris is not explicitly mentioned in the treaty, the agreement declares that states are responsible for their activities in space and for the effects of these activities on other states. Since debris negatively affects all spacefaring states, any country that produces space debris should be required to assist in the cleanup.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to discern the origin of a piece of debris, which is an important factor when determining a state’s accountability, obligation, and right to remove debris from orbit. Under Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty, “a State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body.” While this dictate appears reasonable—countries should retain the rights to their technology, even when that technology is in orbit— it has the unintended side effect of making debris removal more difficult, since only the country of origin of a specific piece of debris can legally dispose of it. Moreover, most countries would hesitate to relinquish their property rights to other governments for the purpose of debris cleanup; Many pieces of debris are highly sophisticated works of engineering and thus, have industrial and military value. Unilateral cleanup efforts may be met with suspicion for other reasons. For instance, China is developing high-powered lasers to destroy debris, but the Pentagon has warned that these lasers could also be used to destroy key American interests. This suspicion is rooted in an increasingly prevalent view of space as a military frontier, a trend exemplified by President Trump’s recent announcement of the creation of a “Space Force” whose mission will be to “strengthen America’s ability to compete, deter, and win in an increasingly contested domain.” Thinking of space as a battlefield will only make debris cleanup more difficult in the coming decades. The militarization of space not only exacerbates the problems posed by existing debris, but also threatens to produce even more space debris. In 2007, China carried out a successful antisatellite missile test on one of its own deactivated satellites, creating a cloud of thousands of debris



“The militarization of space not only exacerbates the problems posed by existing debris, but also threatens to produce even more space debris.” fragments that are currently still in orbit. This missile test remains the single largest debris creation event to date. Just this year, India carried out a similar anti-satellite weapons test, seeking to assert its military defense capabilities. If space becomes the battleground for a second Cold War with China or Russia, tests like the 2007 event and other shows of force will become more common. The debris they produce will make space travel and satellite operation more dangerous for all parties, “combatant” or not, increasing the risk of runaway collision effects. Rather than treat the disposal of space debris as a point of contention, we must view it as an opportunity to secure future space activity and to foster conciliation between countries. It is evident that unilateral attempts to solve this problem are not viable. If we accept that we must clean up our mess in outer space, we must also accept that the solution must be cooperative and multinational. An international program similar to the International Space Station (ISS) should be implemented with the express purpose of cleaning up space debris; however, unlike the ISS, this program must include previously excluded countries such as China. Such a program would involve an international agreement that would promote transparency and technology sharing between all spacefaring countries, and joint missions would provide nations with the standing to clean up each other’s debris. We are at the cusp of a new era in space activity. As space exploration continues to progress and international divisions become more fraught, it will be more important than ever to protect Earth’s orbit from debris pollution. To confront these threats, we must abandon the paranoid and nationalistic mindsets of the twentieth century and treat space as a global endeavor. What better way to begin global conciliation than by working together to address an issue that affects the entire world? Space debris is a great threat, but also a great opportunity to promote global cooperation.



Interview with

Alan Eustace Alan Eustace is a trained computer scientist who has served as the Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google. In 2014, he made the highest-altitude free-fall jump from the stratosphere wearing only a space suit. He is now working on issues related to renewable energy, health care, and transportation.

interviewer Grace Banfield '19 illustrator Jeff Katz '21

When you approach a problem that feels unsolvable, what is your process? The first step is research. Just reading a lot about what has been done and understanding the issues that arose in previous attempts. It's a lot of going to the library and talking to people. The second piece is developing an insight that will give you an edge. The last is to follow that insight. You find the experts in the field and get feedback about whether your idea has merit or not and if it does you build a team around it. Nothing can be done by a single person anymore. What was the insight that inspired your free fall? Everybody prior to me had used some form of capsule to get into the stratosphere. I just fundamentally thought capsules were a bad idea. That came out of [my] research. The very first jump Joe Kettinger did, he had issues exiting the capsule. Because the seat pack he was wearing had a different expansion coefficient than the seat, as he got higher in the stratosphere, he got trapped. In trying to exit, he triggered a timer that prematurely released his parachute. The parachute wrapped around his neck and he lost consciousness as a result. He was saved, luckily, by an emergency parachute that was automatically activated. It just begged the question, if you have a space suit on that is supposed to protect you from the environment, what is the purpose of a capsule? So I asked, what would happen if I got rid of the capsule? Could I build a scuba diving like system for the transfer and make the process fast, cheaper, and safer?

As technology pushes the boundaries of what is possible, and space becomes more accessible, what implications do you think this has for life on Earth? When I was growing up, all space exploration was done by NASA, but now there is a commercial space industry. Inside NASA, a very small team, less than a dozen people, developed a brilliant strategy to incentivize a commercial space effort. They took on a few companies and allowed them to build plants and helped them develop their projects. If the companies could make the milestones, NASA funded their efforts, essentially jumpstarting the entire industry. Now there are dozens of companies building launch vehicles that can get things into space. The potential is limitless—this is the golden age of broad based science communication and business. Do you foresee any unintended consequences of technology? The positives outweigh the negatives because of the scientific potential. The thing about space is that it blurs distinctions among countries. At Google, because we were collecting imagery of the entire world, we were able to track deforestation and pinpoint exactly where trees were falling. In terms of global warming, we were able to measure the temperature of every single glacier on Earth. None of this would have been possible without the innovations in space exploration because hundreds of governments would never been able to agree to send people on the ground to collect this data. Space holds the promise that it is not about countries, that it is about capabilities.



Big Rocket, Soft Power Securing NASA's status as a diplomatic tool for the US

by Peter Lees '21 a Public Policy concentrator and a Managing Editor at BPR illustrator Molly Young '20

In March 2019, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft completed a test mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that included a successful launch, docking, re-entry, splashdown, and recovery. Though no one was aboard the test flight, the mission was a triumph for the American company and a potential death knell for the Russian national space agency, Roscosmos. Roscosmos tweeted a backhanded congratulations to SpaceX, praising their achievement while emphasizing that “flight safety must be immaculate.” Whether intentional or not, the comment’s tone is suggestive of the threat that SpaceX poses to the Russian space agency. Currently, NASA partners with Roscosmos to taxi the American crew to and from the ISS. If the Crew Dragon shuttle succeeds as a more affordable means of shuttling crew, Roscosmos stands to lose some $400 million per year in payments from NASA. Meanwhile, the Russian government is cutting spending on space exploration. The combined fiscal strain on Roscosmos threatens to permanently cripple the agency.


It makes sense for Americans to celebrate the success of an American company, especially over a rival like Russia. Even so, we should carefully consider the implications of a private company, albeit on a public contract, effectively threatening to end Roscosmos, a prestigious and longstanding public space program. America should not assume that its own programs will remain safe from a fate like that of Roscosmos simply because SpaceX happens to be on NASA’s contract today. NASA does not own the Crew Dragon— SpaceX does—and if the company fulfills its goal of independent space research and exploration, it could easily become a competitive threat to NASA, as it currently is to Roscosmos. To preempt the obsolescence of NASA, the US should stop contracting private companies for its major space exploration endeavors. Instead, it should invest in making NASA self-sufficient and technologically superior to private agencies and foreign state programs. Public-private contracts have become necessary as NASA sends astronauts and supplies to the ISS.




This is in part because Congress has gradually decreased funding for NASA, which currently accounts for 0.4 percent of the federal budget, forcing the agency to abandon its space shuttle program. This is also why NASA contracted the cheaper services of the Soyuz space shuttle from Roscosmos to begin with. SpaceX, in turn, won its contract by offering to build the Dragon shuttle for $2.9 billion, undercutting Boeing’s projected costs of around $4 billion. Roscosmos, facing cuts of around $2 billion from the Russian government, could not compete with the two private companies. One might argue that if NASA can only succeed through publicprivate contracting, then the agency’s role in space research and exploration deserves to be overtaken by companies like SpaceX. For free-market enthusiasts, the saga provides an appealing narrative of private enterprise outperforming big government, and it appears that space research

can only move forward by making room for private aerospace firms. NASA and its projects, however, should be judged not only by their price tag but also by their ability to promote American soft power. The latter justifies increasing investment in the public agency. Soft power, or the capacity of a country to influence international affairs through some combination of its perceived cultural, civic, and technological achievements, is a key diplomatic tool. All Americans have a vested interest in increasing American soft power, particularly as more authoritarian powers seek to expand their geopolitical influence. However, American hegemony is quickly eroding under President Trump. Polling from Gallup shows global approval of US leadership has declined from a net favorability of 20 percentage points in 2016 down to negative 13 points in 2017. According to a collaborative study between the London-based

“America should not assume that its own programs will remain safe from a fate like that of Roscosmos simply because SpaceX happens to be on NASA’s contract today. NASA does not own the Crew Dragon— SpaceX does—and if the company fulfills its goal of independent space research and exploration, it could easily become a competitive threat to NASA, as it currently is to Roscosmos.” 30

communications firm Portland and the University of Southern California, the US has fallen from first to fourth place in global soft power rankings since 2016. These numbers indicate that the US is in dire need of a public-relations boost. When people lose faith in American leadership, the US's capacity to lead non-coercively is greatly diminished. America needs to retain the moral, scientific, and political leverage that comes with international respect, and we should look immediately to NASA as a means of doing so. One might wonder whether boosting American private companies is also a valid source of soft power. After all, American companies are symbols of a uniquely American ideology of free-market capitalism, and their success demonstrates the triumph of American economic policy. This argument fails to consider that a threat to American legitimacy today is its democratically elected president and the anti-science, anti-Enlightenment values he promotes. A democratically sanctioned scientific effort could ameliorate this dent in the American image, and only a public and democratically accountable agency like NASA can provide this buffer. Moreover, America’s global standing is more uncertain than ever, but by permanently increasing NASA’s funding, the US can help preserve its future geopolitical influence. There is precedent for using NASA as a political tool. During the Cold War, much of the early investment in the agency was driven by the pressures of the space race with the Soviet Union: The Apollo missions and other US efforts were motivated by a fear that Soviet achievements such as the Sput-


nik would confer technological and political legitimacy to Soviet communism while the US lagged behind. By investing heavily in NASA and the Apollo missions, the US became the first country to land astronauts on the moon, a feat still considered one of the most inspiring technological achievements in human history. Even though the Cold War has ended, the symbolism of space exploration remains potent. Seventy-two percent of Americans believe that it is “essential” that the US maintains its status as a world leader in space exploration. To guarantee that the US reaps the soft power benefits of space excellence, NASA must become a funding priority. If private companies continue to receive public contracts and NASA funding continues to stagnate, the agency will be forced to rely more on private products and services to accomplish even the most basic of missions. America should cast a wary eye on Roscosmos’ bleak future as the downfall of the Russian space corporation, as it could signal a major threat both to NASA and to America’s role as the leader of the free world. To ensure that American innovation continues to be recognized, the US must stand behind public agencies such as NASA—and invest in the future of American geopolitical influence.



Interview with

Stephen Kinzer Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has worked in over 50 countries, with extended postings in Nicaragua, Germany, and Turkey. Among a host of other positions, he served as the chief of the New York Times bureau in Istanbul from 1996-2000. He is the author of nine books, and continues to contribute to a variety of publications including the Boston Globe. Kinzer is currently a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Your articles and books have led the Washington Post to cite you as “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling.” As a foreign affairs correspondent, how would you characterize the nature and importance of this role as a storyteller? Writing for a newspaper is an exercise in addressing a very large and diverse group. As such, my view is that you have an obligation to educate, but must do so without talking down to your readers. My approach to journalism has always been to try to provide enough context so that readers can understand the origins of news events. My big complaint about news is that it is too focused on what is happening today. The more intense the news cycle has become, the more demanding the viewership and readership has become in insisting to know everything right up to the minute. We are so focused on the question, “What happened today?” that we fail to focus on two other questions which are more important: “What happened yesterday?” and “What will happen tomorrow?” The Special Feature of this BPR issue is “Space.” I would be interested to hear your opinion on the space that social media platforms are providing for news coverage. To what extent do you think that the emphasis on immediacy and digestibility in online reporting is exacerbating this failure to contextualize new stories? I do think the internet opens up space for people who want to take other approaches to reporting, but there is no doubt that the long-form, reflective type of journalism is battling to survive against this onrushing wave of what happened in the past ten seconds. The pressure for up to the second sound bites is intense.


I think it is the job of journalists to try to present startling or unexpected, or even unpleasant, interpretations of news and to explain where news comes from. When I write, I am constantly trying to open up a new space in the minds of my readers so that they are thinking about other things and new perspectives. What was it like to transition from journalism to academia? I have often been asked why my perspective on American interventionism is different from many other International Relations scholars. I think one answer might be the way in which I learned about the world and about America’s place within it. Most of the people in the mainstream of foreign policy in this country shaped their views in Washington—in the think-tanks, in the congressional staff, or in international relations schools that are tied to America’s approach to the world. I learned about the world by living in countries that were the victims of American foreign policy, so I saw the United States from a different perspective. My training is not from being a scholar, but rather from being out in the world and working as a journalist. This gives me a different perspective on the US and its behavior. My fascination with history also had a great impact on my reporting—I have tried to work it into all the journalism I have ever done because I believe that the past explains the future.

interviewer Olivia George '22 illustrator Jeff Katz '21


Stopping Star Wars The need for regulation of international space militarization by Roxanne Barnes '21 a Public Policy concentrator and a US Staff Writer at BPR infographic Cathy Park '20

In August 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an earth-shattering announcement for space politics: By 2022, India plans to become the fourth country to independently achieve human spaceflight. Just a few months later, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made a similar declaration, pledging to send Pakistani astronauts into space that same year. Although this space race is symptomatic of Indian-Pakistani relations, it is also indicative of the broader trend of space militarization. India’s ability to mount such an independent mission testifies to its incredible advances in space-based military technology, including enhanced targeting, navigation, reconnaissance systems, and the ability to sabotage enemy satellites. The same is true for Pakistan, although Pakistan’s mission will heavily depend on assistance from China. As nations begin to treat space as a competitive front, the US should grow increasingly concerned with the lack of international regulations governing space militarization. To prevent continuous militarization, the US must push to draft a new

international treaty and an overhaul of the existing UN Conference on Disarmament. The need for a new treaty is especially pressing given that the most recent international agreement on the subject—the Outer Space Treaty—was signed in 1967 in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1. As the world’s first satellite, Sputnik raised concerns about nuclear weapons in space. To address this, a UN legal subcommittee drafted a set of broad rules on international behavior in space that the US, India, and China ratified. But just two tenets pertain directly to militarization: “States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit” and “States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects.” Though this is a good start, the wording of these two tenets is vague and leaves a lot of dangerous room for interpretation. When it comes to protecting space, and in turn, ensuring the safety of Earth, the UN must set the bar higher. For instance, the current treaty does not explicitly describe what constitutes “mass destruction.” But countries today have access to a much greater vari-

ety of deadly weapons than they did in 1967, and as technology advances, their arsenals will only grow. Thus, any new treaty on weapons in space must include a concrete definition of the term “weapons.” Absent this, efforts to regulate weapons in space will prove fruitless. This was the logic behind the US’s rejection of a treaty proposed by China and Russia in 2008. This agreement, called the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space Treaty, outlined specific arms but did not account for technological advancement in weapons that would have quickly rendered the treaty outdated. As a result, the US criticized the bill as a “diplomatic ploy by two nations to gain a military advantage.” For a space treaty to remain current in the midst of technological advancement, it must define weapons by their ability to damage rather than by their specific technology. Only such a definition offers a sufficiently strong legal basis to regulate. For this reason, the second tenet of the 1967 treaty holds states accountable for any damage they cause, emphasizing results rather than intent. For example, if a state builds a carrier vessel for weapons transport that accidentally causes damage on Earth, the state is held responsible for the damage. Regulation of space militarization must also protect innocent vehicles passing through contested areas. At present, space is not territorial:



“India and Pakistan’s recent space race is just a peek into what may become a full-blown militarization of space.” The Outer Space Treaty mandates that space be “common heritage of all mankind,” which negates the possibility of state claims on extraterrestrial objects. However, should countries ever make territorial claims in space, space experts suggest regulation should be modeled on laws regulating international waters: Hostile vessels would be barred from entry, while innocent ships would be guaranteed safe passage. As private companies such as SpaceX begin to explore the idea of sending civilians to space, the need for such legislation is more pressing than ever. Another challenge to developing effective space regulation is the fact that no treaty, no matter how well-formed, can succeed unless all four major space powers—the US, China, Russia, and now India— stand behind the agreement. But


progress on space treaties has long been impeded by US reluctance to have substantive conversations about the subject. Furthermore, tensions between China and India make it difficult for them to make the compromises needed to create a coherent set of regulations. In particular, many nations are concerned about China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to better integrate China into the economies of foreign countries by financing infrastructure projects like the construction of ports, airports, and satellites. Though China claims its satellites are only for civilian use, civilian satellite technology can also be used for military purposes. In response, President Trump has set up roadblocks to China’s BRI, pushing countries to distance themselves from Chinese 5G networks. Though this sends a strong message, the US can do better. If India and the US offered to collaborate with China on the BRI—a presently stalled project that has proved incredibly costly— the US may be able to win China’s support on a new space disarmament treaty. Some may argue that allowing countries to develop anti-space

militarization technology on their own is easier than ratifying a whole new treaty. Several countries are doing this: In recent years, China has developed and tested several anti-satellite ground-based missiles (ASATs) that allow them to destroy enemy satellites. Yet, despite being dubbed as “anti-militarization,” ASATs are destructive forces that contribute to the threat of violence in space. As more countries move to develop their own ASATs, the need for a space treaty becomes more urgent. India and Pakistan’s recent space race is just a peek into what may become a full-blown militarization of space. To prevent this, the UN must recognize that current regulation on space militarization is insufficient and lead a global discourse on space technology. An ideal treaty drafted by an empowered UN Security Council should reclassify weapons based on their damage, not their function, and regulate space ownership based on the international waters model. This treaty would go a long way toward preventing a kind of warfare that Earth has yet to experience, and for which the decades-old 1967 treaty is wholly inadequate.


Interview with

Jonathan Zimmerman Jonathan Zimmerman is a Professor of the History of Education at University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. He holds a B.A. in urban studies from Columbia University as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University. He is an expert in sex and alcohol education, campus politics, and history and religion curricula. Among his numerous publications, he co-authored the book The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools, a discussion of how and why students should learn to engage in productive debate over important issues. Earlier this year, he wrote an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “College Campuses Should Not Be Safe Spaces,” in which he contends that safe spaces are a detriment to college campuses because they suppress diverse perspectives on critical topics.

What is your stance on safe spaces and the role that they play on college campuses?

How would you respond to the argument that too much free speech could lead to hate speech?

I want everybody to feel like they can speak what’s on their mind. To me that’s at the heart of the academic ideal. But I have serious doubt whether the doctrine of safe spaces does that. I think in the way it has operated on campus, it has inhibited dialogue rather than promoted it. Whatever you think is what you think. I do not want to work at an institution where you are discouraged from saying it. You, your colleagues, your fellow students, and me as a faculty member are going to be diminished by your self-censorship. My job as an educator is to elicit as many different perspectives as possible so people can come to reasoned conclusions.

Hate speech is protected under the Constitution. One of the most upsetting things to me is how many people believe otherwise. There have been over five Supreme Court decisions that confirm that. Could too much free speech lead to hate speech? Of course it could. Most speech offends somebody. That’s what it means to live in America. We live in a country where people are allowed to say awful things. That’s one of the founding principles of this society. I think the answer to bad speech is always more speech. If you don’t like what somebody is saying, the best way to counter it is by saying something else, not trying to shout them down. Say your truth. That can serve the antiracist cause better than any form of censorship can.

The Silent Sam Memorial at UNC Chapel Hill is a symbol of white supremacy. You supported its placement in a campus history center rather than its complete removal from campus. Why do you think it is important that the history of symbols like Silent Sam should be preserved? I think the whole controversy over Silent Sam illustrates the real problem. People had wanted Silent Sam to come down. They weren’t objecting to the physical violence that the demonstrations sparked. What they were saying was that the statue itself was violent, and therefore had to be removed. I absolutely confirm and endorse the idea that this statue embodies white supremacy, but how is the cause of antiracism served by taking the symbols down? This will represent ultimately a setback because it will remove from our dialogue an important historical symbol to remind us about the very real origins and costs of white supremacy.

Could you elaborate on the difference between action and words that you bring up in the article? One of the most troubling trends on campus is the tendency to view speech as violence. Words are not action. Words can sometimes provoke action, but if speech is inherently violent then what you’re doing is you’re actually paving the way for people to engage in violence. If we teach our young people that speech can be violent, then it seems to me they’re within their rights to respond with physical violence. You can’t have a civic democracy on those principles.

interviewer Jordan Allums '21 illustrator Jeff Katz '21



Searching for a Soul The struggle over the urbanization of Los Angeles by Noah Cowan '19 a Chemical Physics concentrator and an Associate Editor at BPR illustrator Maddie Brewer '19

“People have a right to shelter, but the current use of space in Los Angeles makes the fulfillment of that right impossible.”


William Faulkner once cheekily referred to Los Angeles as “the plastic asshole of the world,” and nearly every Urbanist and Numtot would agree. The city feels more like six suburbs in search of a city than a bustling metropolis—and that’s by design. LA’s atypical cityscape sprang from the mind of a self-interested land developer who created a mecca for the suburban dream: the sprawling acres of single-family homes and twenty-lane freeways of LA today. But recently, Urbanists have been fighting back. With a shifting mindset and a few powerful city measures, the soul of LA is changing, giving hope to those left behind by the suburban ideal. Henry Huntington designed LA around his own transit system. After he was forced out of his uncle’s Southern Pacific Railroad—a monopoly famous for being the first corporation deemed a “person” by the Supreme Court—Huntington bought some plots of land on the periphery of a new town named Los Angeles. He then developed

and connected these disparate subdivisions with his new light rail company, Pacific Electric, and its trademark “Red Cars.” That is, he bought especially cheap land on the outskirts of town, then charged people to go between these subdivisions using his rail company. The light rail connecting these proto-suburbs spurred the decentralized development unique to LA. But when the growth of the city started to outpace the expansion of the Red Cars, LA had a choice to make: elevate the subway system and center it around a major new terminal or expand the road system to facilitate travel between established towns on the outskirts. When the city council voted for the latter— against the highly desired streetcar system—their decision reflected the desires of real estate developers, who preferred small homes on small lots, rather than the will of the people. Consequently, Los Angeles’ development was groomed by a few individual builders with their sights set on a suburban ideal.


Past Angelenos had reaffirmed the suburban dream with measures like Proposition 13 in 1978 and Proposition U in 1986, which together heavily restricted density and kept property taxes low. But their fantasy carried a heavy cost: Today, LA is still growing but does not have enough space for its current inhabitants. There are over 100,000 homeless individuals in LA, and of the residents who have managed to find a home, a third spend over half their income on housing. People have a right to shelter, but the current use of space in Los Angeles makes the fulfillment of that right impossible.

ing that has been the norm since the era of Red Cars. But as that measure was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin, today’s Angelenos emphatically rejected that suburbanized picture of LA. Instead, they chose to self-impose a tax explicitly earmarked to fund services to help the city’s chronically homeless (Measure H) and divert funding to building new affordable housing (Measure HHH). These Measures can help make LA feel like a home to those who are today merely living in it, and signify the beginning of a process that needs to become a full-scale overhaul of LA’s soul.

Luckily, the future imagined by past generations is not the one sought by the present. LA wants better, more affordable housing. Nevertheless, those same suburban dreamers sought to stop current residents in their tracks with Measure S. This 2017 measure would have imposed a two-year moratorium on development projects that need city approval, effectively maintaining the low-density, supply-capped hous-

But simply diverting funding to build more affordable housing cannot fix all of LA’s woes. Because of its heavy reliance on cars, Los Angeles has some of the most stringent parking requirements in the nation. These requirements, along with some other odd quirks in the building code, massively increase the amount of space required for apartment buildings and make it difficult for developers to build enough

units for all city inhabitants. Measures H and HHH may have surely helped shift the mindset of the city, but they will offer very little longterm relief until the city builds a full public transportation system to connect the many suburbs as they once were. For the thousands in Los Angeles who do not know where they will sleep each night, the city surely feels like “the loneliest and most brutal of American cities,” as Jack Kerouac describes it in his book On the Road. But today’s Angelenos know that the fight over the shape of their city is happening right now. It is no time for half-measures. The American dream has long been a stand-in for the suburban dream—a lawn for every house and a car for every garage. But that dream, taken at face value, is unsustainable and unrealistic. Angelenos have made it clear that they want a dream that works for everyone—it is now up to the government to listen.



Not So Black and White The implications of non-Black students attending historically black universities by Kaela Hines '22 a prospective English and Modern Culture and Media concentrator


illustrator Xuan Liu '20


“What makes an HBCU an HBCU is the history, is the culture, is most of the professors being Black and all of the professors being driven by the intent of educating and uplifting Black people,” remarks Nailah Barnes. Barnes is the first-year class president of Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta. In recent years, the make-up and culture of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) has shifted as more white students have enrolled at these schools. This shift raises a number of questions: What happens when there are fewer Black students

“Now, nationwide, one in four HBCU students is not Black. As of 2016, Bluefield State College and West Virginia State University are over 90 percent nonAfrican American, with a majority of the student population identifying as white.”

and more white students in these spaces? How does a teacher balance educating the white student about Black culture and history, while focusing on the empowerment of the Black student? Which minority in an HBCU is more vulnerable, the Black student or the small number of white students? The fact is, HBCUs look different than they did a couple of decades ago. Since the beginning of President Trump’s presidency, there has been an increase in the number of both white and Black youth enrolling in HBCUs. This phenomenon, dubbed the "Trump bump,” has been sparked by the ever-growing threat of gun violence, police brutality, mass incarceration, and hate crimes towards marginalized people during and after Trump’s presidential election. In a world that feels more unstable and polarized, college-aged students are drawn to spaces like HBCUs or women’s colleges where social activism is a central aspect of the college experience. Specifically, HBCUs remain safe havens for Black youth who want to connect with similar students and mobilize as activists against issues threatening the safety and progress of their communities.




Now, nationwide, one in four HBCU students is not Black. As of 2016, Bluefield State College and West Virginia State University are over 90 percent non-African American, with a majority of the student population identifying as white. The extreme transformation of schools such as Bluefield State complicates the original objectives of HBCUs as places of safety and opportunity for to Black students. Originally, HBCUs were the only higher education institutions to admit freed Blacks after the Civil War. Many private HBCUs, such as Howard University, were funded by white, Northern religious groups in an effort to train the newly emancipated for entry into the workforce. On the other hand, in the South, HBCUs were created to maintain segregation in the education system. Regardless, these institutions flourished into centers of Black success and pride, attracting 80 percent of all Black college students in the 1960s. HBCUs are known for producing generations of Black leaders—Martin Luther King (Morehouse College), Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State University), and Toni Morrison (Howard University)—yet now they educate only 10 percent of Black college-aged students.

“Attending an HBCU does not and cannot summarize the entire Black experience, nor can it excuse a white person from further educating themselves on Black culture and acknowledging their role in perpetuating discrimination.” 40

One major reason for this decline is the dwindling financial support for HBCUs, sometimes coupled with high-profile scandals. Last year, social media erupted with the story of Tyrone Hankerson Jr., a law student and student employee at Howard University who allegedly scammed the school out of almost half a million dollars. Bewilderment turned into rage as Howard students cultivated HU Resist, a group that rallied for pressing financial issues such as guaranteed housing and fewer tuition surges. This year, Bennett College, a historically Black women’s college in North Carolina, attracted media attention when it sought to raise millions of dollars to reclaim its accreditation. Two years prior, Bennett College was put on probation due to its financial woes, and the accreditation process further halted federal funding to the school. Unfortunately, these issues are becoming more common, resulting in more than a dozen HBCU closures since 1930. Tight funding may be one reason for this demographic shift in HBCUs. Small endowments and decreased federal funding further contribute to lower enrollment from Black students who often depend on large financial aid packages. Instead, HBCUs have tried to stay afloat and support low-income students by enrolling a larger number of high-income students who can pay the full tuition, many of whom are not Black. Unlike PWIs (predominantly white institutions) that often receive large donations from benefactors, HBCUs were founded with smaller endowments and may lose federal funding if they have unstable financial situations. Though there are clear financial incentives for HBCUs to enroll more white students, there’s an ongoing debate as to what has attracted non-Black students to apply to these institutions. Many white HBCU students have cited these schools’ inspiring histories and welcoming environments as pulling factors. Tiago Rachelson, a white student


at Morehouse College, credited his choice to a guidance counselor who described his time at Morehouse as a “transformative experience.” Students often attribute their positive HBCU experiences to these schools’ efforts to educate them about Black culture and reduce biases. It is important to recognize, however, that attending an HBCU does not and cannot summarize the entire Black experience, nor can it excuse a white person from further educating themselves on Black culture and acknowledging their role in perpetuating discrimination. Although it is important to educate white people on Black culture, some scholars question whether an HBCU is the appropriate space to do so. Stephen Crockett Jr. of The Washington Post offered an intriguing probe into the presence of white students in HBCUs: “Is attending an HBCU for white students the equivalent of spending a summer in Ghana?” He further adds, “Let’s face it; the white student who would even consider attending an HBCU is not the student who is need of a strong dose of Black cultural awareness because they already have it.” Crockett underlines a kind of white spectatorship and voyeurism that can be damaging to Black students. While white students may not intend to do damage, intentions do not outweigh impact. A white student at a historically all-Black college—created because there were few other institutions that would educate Black people—can be a peculiar presence. For Black students, the presence of white students in HBCUs can feel like an infringement on a space created specifically for Black people in a white-dominated world. It could become a parasitic relationship: White students benefit from the cheaper and holistically enriching education, while Black students feel unvalued and displaced.

plifies how knowledge manifests. There is an immense difference between learning about the cruelties of slavery from textbooks and hearing a Black student’s narrative about their encounters with the justice system or microaggressions. White people can often understand racism at a distance, but allowing them to attend HBCUs gives them a chance to develop meaningful personal relationships with Black students; these bonds highlight disparities and realities that many white students would not have otherwise been aware of. If a white student encourages and maintains the original goals of HBCUs in order to inspire and shape a successful Black generation, HBCUs should allow them to attend.

“Which minority in an HBCU is more vulnerable: the Black student or the small number of white students?”

The recent influx of white students at HBCUs poses questions that do not yet have clear answers. Is it up to Black students in HBCUs to further reallocate safe spaces in a space that was made to be safe? Since identity is intersectional, should students depend on smaller, specific safe spaces within HBCUs for Black women, queer Black students, or low-income Black students? And how can the curriculum at HBCUs be inclusive of all aspects of Black life and identity? Perhaps the increased enrollment of students impacted by the social climate can push HBCUs to extend care and acceptance to all of the oppressed identities of the African diaspora. While HBCUs will continue to attract students of all backgrounds and will become more racially diverse due to financial needs and social changes, one thing is clear: HBCUs should continue to center around the Black experience and cater their curriculum, culture, and rhetoric toward the empowerment of Black people.

Yet, Crockett’s comment that a white student willing to go to an HBCU is more aware of racism sim-



Jump On It by Owen Colby '20 a Computer Science, Economics, and Public Policy concentrator and the Chief Operating Officer of BPR illustrator Taylor Pannell '19

“As scooters and bikes are far more space-efficient than cars, shifting commuters to these options could dramatically decrease congestion.”


Diving into the benefits of e-bikes and scooters In many American cities, residents are waking up to find that rentable dockless scooters and bikes have filled their city’s streets. The providers of shared electric scooters and bikes, companies like Bird, Lime, and Uber’s Jump, aim to provide consumers with transportation alternatives to cars and motorcycles. These companies have created a new transportation industry called the micro-mobility industry, which refers to their platform’s comparatively small size. They each operate using a similar business model: After paying a base fee of around $1, consumers are charged per minute for their usage. Micro-mobility companies offer a transportation option that is both cheaper and more energy-efficient than cars. Moreover, in a time when our cities are clogged by traffic, scooters and bikes offer the potential to ease congestion on roads. However, due to concerns about the industry’s growth, user safety, and a lack of existing infrastructure, America’s cities have largely imposed burdensome regulations preventing the widespread adoption of dockless

scooters and bikes. Cities should welcome these new forms of transport as ways of reducing street congestion and pollution. Los Angeles is one city that has taken extreme action to limit the spread of these companies. Beverly Hills, for example, outlawed dockless electric scooters, and West Hollywood has banned the parking of scooters within city limits. Beverly Hills officials described a “concern for public safety and a lack of any advanced planning and outreach by the motorized scooter companies” as the primary reasons to impose new regulations. It is true that micro-mobility companies did not notify residents or government officials before introducing shareable scooters or bikes to Los Angeles neighborhoods. But concerns for safety are overblown because scooters are no more dangerous than the cars they share the streets with. Cars pose a massive public health risk to both drivers and the public at large: Cars kill 40,000 each year in America alone, including 6,000


pedestrians. Only three e-scooter deaths have been reported and one of these deaths was caused by a collision with a car whose driver was on heroin. One study actually highlighted the potential for electric scooters to decrease transportation injuries: “With 34 percent of Portland scooter riders stating they replaced car trips with e-scooter trips, an increase in e-scooter use has the potential to contribute to a reduction in serious injuries and fatalities.” While cities are rightfully concerned by a lack of planning, this does not justify burdensome regulations which inhibit cities from reaping the benefits of shared scooters and bikes. Los Angeles should instead shift its focus to maximizing the micro-mobility industry’s capacity to decrease congestion. The city’s traffic has been ranked the worst in the world for six consecutive years, and alternative transportation offers part of the solution. As scooters and bikes are far more space-efficient than cars, shifting commuters to these options could dramatically decrease congestion. For those with longer commutes, micro-mobility platforms further public transportation’s ability to decrease congestion by increasing the reach of the city’s train and bus system. Electric bikes and scooters offer a “last mile” service to make the walk to a train station or bus stop possible or simply more convenient, which takes more people off the roads and furthers the city’s goal of decreasing congestion. New York has banned electric scooters and bikes from as early as 2004, and this overly punitive policy has been driven in part by a lack of infrastructure for micro-mobility options. Dockless bike and scooter companies are barred from operating in the city’s most populated areas. The motivation

“By shifting car riders to electric scooters and bikes, the city could greatly reduce the deleterious effects of pollution on the environment and public health.” for this ban is simple: “There’s no place for scooters, physically.” Scooters are too fast for the sidewalk, too slow for traffic, and dedicated bike lanes are sparse throughout most of New York City. The problem is not micro-mobility companies; it is the infrastructure. New York City “is designed for cars and only cars... almost every foot of curbside space [is dedicated] to longterm parking.” The city should allocate parking space for dockless scooters and bikes to facilitate their growth. Additionally, parking space ought to be converted to bike lanes so scooters and bikes can travel safely throughout the city.

Rather than restricting their adoption, cities should regulate these companies with a pro-growth mindset to maximize the benefits of shared bikes and scooters. By working with micro-mobility companies instead of against them, cities will be able to chart a course to achieve their environmental, public health, and traffic goals.

New York City, in accepting the status quo where cars dominate the streets, has undermined the ability of electric scooters and bikes to decrease pollution. Motor vehicles are the single largest contributor to ground level smog, the dire public health effects of which include permanent lung damage and increased asthma rates. Although the city has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, officials have done nothing to curb the city’s reliance on cars. By shifting car riders to electric scooters and bikes, the city could greatly reduce the deleterious effects of pollution on the environment and public health. But it continues to treat cars as sacrosanct, failing to benefit from the services of micro-mobility companies. Shared micro-mobility companies offer an innovative, space-efficient, and environmentally sustainable transportation alternative to cars.



Let Them (H-1)B Reforming the visa system for America's international students by Hyun Choi a Computer Science and Public Policy concentrator and an Associate Editor at BPR infographic Cathy Park

Thirteen percent of students admitted to Brown’s Class of 2023 are international, together representing 80 countries. These students are not alone; there are over a million international students studying in the United States today. But after graduation, many of these students must return home to an uncertain future. American institutions are spending valuable resources to educate foreign students before the system forces them to return home and compete against US citizens. This process is the product of an outdated immigration system that no longer meets the demands of the modern-day economy. Going forward, we must overhaul the student visa, work visa, and employment-based green card systems to make it easier for young foreigners to both study in the US and eventually work here after completing their degrees. This would create a more equitable immigration system that serves the interests of both foreign students and the US economy. The US government must first make it easier for students to obtain visas. While 360,000 new student visas were issued in 2018, a hefty 195,000 applications were rejected. There are many factors that go into visa refusal, including an applicant’s criminal record or financial status, but the most common reason for rejection is failure to demonstrate nonimmigrant intent. In fact, this requirement was the cause for 75


percent of all nonimmigrant visa rejections in 2018. This is thanks to the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, which requires the US government to presume that all visa applicants intend to permanently immigrate to the US. Applicants for student visas, a type of “nonimmigrant visa,” must prove that they have strong ties to their home country and intend to depart the US after finishing their studies. Why do we require proof of nonimmigrant intent in the first place?

The US should want highly educated students to stay. There is an easy solution: Make the student visa a “dual intent” visa. Dual intent visa holders are presumed to have immigrant intent; thus, under this scheme, students will not have to prove that they will leave the US after graduation. Some may fear that student visas would be misused, allowing immigrants to use schools as a front for coming to the US for employment. But this concern can be addressed by increasing oversight on universities that seek to sponsor


student visas. Many visas are already dual intent visas, such as the H-1B work visa and the E investor visa. These visas are dual intent because we recognize that these workers and investors bring economic benefits to the country. Students do too, and we should not discourage some of the world’s brightest minds from joining our ranks as citizens. Another step toward fixing our immigration system is expanding the H-1B visa program and giving the visa to everyone who qualifies

for it in a given year. The H-1B visa is intended for temporary employment in “specialty occupations” that require specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. Only 85,000 such visas may be issued every year to employees of for-profit companies, but close to 200,000 people have applied for the H-1B visa each year for the past four years. Due to this imbalance, the government randomly selects applicants who will proceed to the next step of the process through a lottery. Many

“American institutions are spending valuable resources educating foreign students before the system forces them to return home and compete against US citizens.” 45


applicants are rejected before an officer even looks at their application. These severe limits on the H-1B program likely stem from a concern that native wages and job opportunities will be depressed by foreign workers. This concern, however, is far from settled fact; many studies dispute the idea, including a 2015 study in the Journal of Labor Economics, which showed that an increase in foreign STEM workers is actually associated with “significant wage gains for college-educated natives” and a “smaller but still significant” gain for non-college-educated natives. There have been cases of H-1B visa abuse, but these abuses could be curtailed by strengthening the H1-B application's labor certification process. Furthermore, the H-1B certification process should adopt the standard currently used by the employment-based green card process, in which employers must prove that there is no American worker in the area that can do the same job at a comparable wage. With this process in place, foreign workers could not be misconstrued as taking Americans’ jobs because no natural born citizen has the skills necessary to be hired. Instead of subjecting applicants to an arbitrary lottery process, we should give the visa to everyone who can pass this stringent process. Employees for non-profit research organizations, universities, and the government are already exempt from this lottery, and America only stands to gain by having its newly educated college grads enter its workforce in private sector fields that need them. After obtaining an H-1B visa, many will go on to seek employment-based permanent residence (a green card), which is the final broken process we must overhaul. It is important to make the distinction between H-1B work visas and green cards. The H-1B visa lasts only six years before it is no longer renewable, and it is tied to a single employer. However, once a green card is issued, it lasts forever; it can lead to US citizenship after five


“America only stands to gain by having its newly educated college grads enter its workforce in private sector fields that need them.” years, and the worker may change jobs at any time. The green card process is inherently unfair because while the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act abolished restrictions on Asian and African immigration, it also instituted a uniform national quota—currently 25,620—on the number of people who can receive green cards from any given country in one year. This blanket quota has resulted in an immense backlog from populous countries such as China and India. People born in India who filed their applications in April 2009 are just having them processed in April 2019 because the timeline of the process is extremely unpredictable. This practice arbitrarily discriminates against those born in populous nations and should thus be abolished. Critics may argue that allowing more international students to stay in the US indefinitely would cause a “brain drain” effect from developing countries, in which highly-educated individuals with the potential to improve their home countries emigrate. This is true to some extent. However, a 2008 study by the Carnegie Endowment has shown that emigration of highly-skilled people can “stimulate trade, capital flows, and technology transfers” while “stimulating further education at home.” Furthermore, these workers remit money back to their families, injecting capital into a developing economy. We must respect the freedom of movement of foreign students who wish to stay in the United States, especially when this freedom brings myriad benefits to their homelands. Overall, the US has nothing to lose and everything to gain from

loosening its unreasonable grip on student visas, work visas, and green cards. Immigration law is ridiculously complex, but reforming the system to allow highly educated international students to stay in our country is something that will benefit these college grads, the American economy, and the world at large.


Interview with

Godfrey Reggio Godfrey Reggio is a contemporary documentary filmmaker who has pioneered a distinct film style interlaying visual images with soaring scores. Born in New Orleans in 1940, Reggio spent 14 years as a monk of the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic pontifical order. In subsequent years, he has used the medium of film to explore the destructive consequences of our technological environment.

Your films have no dialogue and are silent except for their respective scores. Why? My films are autodidactic experiences as opposed to most films which are based in literature, the spoken word. The popular form of cinema has a story, a plot— but in my films, the person sitting next to you could have a vastly different experience because we’re not telling you what to think. The meaning is in the form. What you get from the film is what you get from the film. It’s kind of like if you were with your sweetheart and you saw a sunset and you asked her, “What is the meaning of the sunset?” A ridiculous question, but can the sunset be meaningful? Indeed. That’s the meaning we’re trying to provide when we make these films. They can’t be categorized. People call them experimental, which I think is ridiculous because they’re experiential. Each person brings their own experience to the event.

You titled your first three films after the Hopi words “Koyaanisqatsi” (life out of balance), “Powaqqatsi” (parasitic way of life), and “Naqoyqatsi” (life as war). What do you think of the state of the world today in the context of the Hopi vision of a meaningful reality? I’m not a Hopi, but I felt that their words described the world we live in more accurately than any words I could find. To this day, I don’t feel our language describes our world. We live in a world where the moment of the truth is the moment of false. What is the condition of the world? It’s unspeakable. We’re like frogs in water—the water might be cool when the frog gets in, but by the time it’s boiling, it’s all over and he still doesn’t know it. We don’t perceive the world we live in. We are technology because it is the air we breathe. But we’re speeding up. We no longer know who we are. Technology is in the driver’s seat and we’re strapped in for the ride. In that sense, I think Facebook, Microsoft, Apple et al. are more dangerous than al-Qaeda.

How do you function without the Internet? I was a monk for many years. When I was 14, I left this world for the Middle Ages. It tattooed me for life. I eventually left the Christian Brotherhood, but it had a big impact. It taught me how to focus. It taught me that if one wants to do something, one has to forget about oneself and pursue the higher eye within them. Our shibboleth was “be in the world, but not of it.” I make do. I’m glad I have the luxury of living in my closet garage here with an 18 foot ceiling. I get to live in my imagination.

Many students feel that the university acts as a pipeline to a great deal of institutional, unfulfilling work in investment banks, industry, and government. What advice do you have for us? I’ve given a few commencement addresses, and I think what I’ve tried to tell the graduates is don’t let your diploma be your death certificate. And what I mean by that is that there’s more to life than earning money. Money is important. We all need it, of course, but if it becomes the raison d’être of living then creativity goes out the door. Money can be like a fever. The more you have the more you want.

Did you ever try to become “part of the system?” I didn’t. I can’t tell you why, but I think it’s my mother’s fault. I was an outcast from the beginning. I had to repeat kindergarten twice because I used to waste time and annoy others. I hated school. It was like being in a prison. Fortunately, I had a very imaginative childhood with my friends. We lived in tree houses and only went home to sleep and eat. Then leaving home at 14 and joining the Brothers, where it’s about giving rather than receiving, that set me on my path. I became a deliberate outsider. I live, may I say, very poorly. I feel very bad for my wife, but she seems to be okay with it.

Do you use the Internet? No. I’m an addictive kind of person. I’d never come out of it.

interviewer Glenn Yu '19 illustrator Jeff Katz '21



Back to BRAC Making military base closures work by Zander Blitzer '22 a prospective History and Political Science concentrator and a US Staff Writer and Associate Editor at BPR illustrator Reiley Johnson '19

As Deputy Secretary of Defense during Ronald Reagan’s first term, Frank Carlucci oversaw the largest build-up of American military forces in the country’s history. From 1981 to 1985, total military expenditures topped $1.4 trillion. Then, just three years later, Carlucci chartered the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. Its goal? To drastically ease military operating costs by closing unnecessary domestic bases. Since Carlucci chartered the commission, Congress has authorized five rounds of BRAC recommendations. The first four occurred at regular intervals and led to the closure of more than 350 bases, with annual recurring savings of about $7 billion. But the BRAC commission has not convened since 2005, though it advised that the next round should have taken place in 2015, with subsequent rounds occurring every eight years after that. Instead, in 2012, the House Armed Services Committee rejected a Pentagon proposal to close more bases. Just a few years later, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 explicitly prohibited future BRAC rounds. These acts reflect Congress’s fear that closing bases is bad politics:


“A reinstated BRAC commission that sets aside funding to compensate and rebuild affected areas would save taxpayer dollars, revitalize local communities, and bring the benefits of base closures to both local and national governments.” Representatives often believe that voting to close bases will cost them reelection. But this fear misses the point. If the economic hardship of a base closure can be mitigated by targeted compensation, such a closure can, in fact, be a major victory for constituents. A reinstated BRAC commission that sets aside funding to compensate and rebuild affected areas would save taxpayer dollars, revitalize local communities, and bring the benefits of base closures to both local and national governments.

As it is, Congressional sidelining of BRAC has real consequences for the American taxpayer. As of 2014, Congress spent more money maintaining excess military infrastructure—about $6 billion—than countries such as Sweden or Belgium spent on their entire defense budget. American military bases have around 22 percent excess infrastructural capacity, meaning that there is plenty of room to consolidate spending without undermining the military’s goals. A new round of BRAC could recom-


mend action that would save the US billions of dollars. In fact, in 2017, the Department of Defense (DOD) specifically requested that another round be authorized in 2021, projecting savings of at least $2 billion per year.

“Other BRAC critics argue that bases should be maintained in order to minimize disruption to local ecosystems. But base closures often provide positive opportunities for community development.”

A common concern is that BRAC closures may affect military readiness—but the commission’s recommendations are made to minimize military impact. The DOD reported that “when past closures involved bases which had ‘difficult

to reconstitute’ assets, in almost all cases these assets were retained by the Service for continued use.” Furthermore, if BRAC recommends the closure of a base that later becomes necessary, the military can simply re-open the base. Such a move still saves federal dollars: Research has shown that it is more cost-effective to shutter and then reconstitute a base than it is to maintain excess infrastructure. Other BRAC critics argue that bases should be maintained in order



“Often thought of as a distant, unresponsive commission, BRAC can take great strides to become cost efficient at the federal level and economically transformative at the local level by adopting a new focus on affected communities.” to minimize disruption to local ecosystems. But base closures often provide positive opportunities for community development. Many Air Force Bases and Air Stations that have been closed through BRAC now serve as civilian airports. Others have become prime land for universities. Bases can also be repurposed as housing, shops, and restaurants that boost economic activity. Former base locations can even be transformed into public parks or green spaces. These examples challenge the narrative that closing bases necessarily hurts surrounding communities.

Maine Senator Olympia Snowe faced a similar situation that same year. Fighting three base closures in her state, Snowe worked tirelessly to highlight the importance of the bases. Like Thune, Snowe’s efforts proved successful: Two out of the three bases remained opened. A new round of BRAC must change this political calculus. That way, BRAC’s legitimate goals— saving taxpayer dollars and reducing excess infrastructure— can be debated openly.

Sadly, legislators rarely focus on the upsides to base closures. Instead, the conversation around bases often focuses more on politics than public benefit. The BRAC commission has become a political puzzle, with Congresspeople protecting their bases as if it were necessary to win reelection. In some cases, legislators have even leveraged votes on bills or confirmations to block base closures. For example, South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force Base was slated to be closed during the BRAC round of 2005.

A recent attempt at BRAC reform arrived in 2017 with the introduction of the McCain-Reed Amendment, which called for a new, more modest round of BRAC. The bill proposed imposing a $5 billion cap on the recommendations and increasing Congressional oversight. Though the amendment is right to bring back BRAC, Congress does not deserve greater oversight of its already politicized recommendations commission: The independence of BRAC is its best insulation from political motivations. Instead, BRAC should develop a formula to compensate localities following the closure of a base.

In protest, South Dakota Senator John Thune stated that he would vote against George W. Bush’s nominee for Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. Thune prevailed: Later that year, the commission voted 8 to 1 to remove Ellsworth from the closure list.

According to the DOD, BRAC closures have saved more than $12 billion annually. If the Department allocated even a quarter of these savings to ease the cost burden on localities as they transition land from military to civilian use, there would be less pressure


on politicians to oppose base closures in their district. Whether the other three-quarters of those savings go to other forms of military spending or just back to the taxpayers, the key point is that BRAC must ensure local communities are justly compensated. To do so, the DOD would have to devise a formula that calculates the job and revenue loss from each base closure to determine how much funding its locality should receive each year. Once funding is allocated to former bases, the use of funds should be at the discretion of state and municipal authorities. From there, local leaders would decide how to best distribute resources, taking into account community interests and needs. Town halls should be held to incorporate local perspectives. Leaders should also be encouraged to hire regional companies for construction whenever possible. Although this locally-oriented BRAC will not magically save taxpayer dollars, it will go a long way toward improving the debate on base closures and promoting community redevelopment. Often thought of as a distant, unresponsive commission, BRAC can take great strides to become cost efficient at the federal level and economically transformative at the local level by adopting a new focus on affected communities.



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Profile for Brown Political Review

BPR Spring 2019 Issue 2  

BPR Spring 2019 Issue 2  


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