Really, Secret Service? Really?

I’ve been following the Secret Service Scandal (known as the SSS for the rest of this post) for a few days now, and I wish I could say I’m shocked by the supposed behavior of the men implicated, but I’m not. 

It seems to me that no matter which way we turn, someone in the government is doing something reprehensible. Whether it’s the Republican party’s “war on women” or, in this case, the Secret Service drinking heavily and bringing prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Colombia, people are continually screwing up. 

I understand that it’s human nature not to be perfect, but we as a nationwide population should be able to hold the people in power positions to a higher standard. They should know not to go out partying and whoring when they need to be scanning an area for potential danger to the PRESIDENT. Go party in your off-time!

Furthermore, shouldn’t Secret Service agents know better than to consort with prostitutes, and no less, prostitutes from another country? It’s highly possible that these women (or in some cases, men) are trained to ferret out valuable and potentially destructive information in moments of…*ahem*…passion. 

I wish the people who we, as a country, have elected into power or those appointed by the elected would figure out that scandals, abuses of power, overspending, whoring, and all sorts of other vices aren’t really good for inspiring trust and the hope of re-election.

Let’s hope that the next generation of politicians and those associated with government can be better role models.

Define “Suffering”

I found myself inwardly cheering at Harriet Johnson’s story about her experience with Peter Singer.

As a best friend of someone “crippled,” I firmly believe that infanticide is one of the cruelest concepts humanity has to offer. Who are we to decide how someone feels about their life? Do you tell an abuse victim that they must feel a certain way because they were abused? What if that victim feels empowered by their triumph over a black time in his or her life?

Greta, my best friend, has Cerebral Palsy. Her right side is essentially useless, she walks with a pronounced limp, and she has a speech impediment. Those purely physical traits have never stopped her in her pursuit for a fulfilling and happy life. She has one of the brightest personalities I’ve ever encountered and has an internal spark to rival most of the “normal” people I’ve met. Greta is also adopted.

Greta’s adoptive parents, Kent and Cathy, would agree with me when I say that a life without Greta is no life at all. They shower love on her, often encroaching on overprotectiveness, but always with the intention of showing how much they adore her. Greta fights back against their desire to keep her sheltered. She goes to school in Indiana, 6 hours away from home. She wants to be in the Medical Technology industry, in order to better the lives of people with disabilities–never to end their lives.

I think that Harriet Johnson made an important point in her story–killing disabled babies because of their perceived “worse quality of life” would deny the world precious fonts of happiness and love. Those who don’t have all the abilities of non-disabled people learn to adapt and appreciate life in a way that others may take for granted. We NEED differentiation in our population–if only the strongest, most agile, smartest, and best survive, we lose a chunk of our population that serves to ground us and remind us of our own human fragility, as well as how important it is to appreciate the life we live.

Afghani Toes

Anna Badkhen’s writing is superb in its detail. Her feature story, “Written on the Body,” enlightened me to the daily struggles and successes of everyday Afghanis surviving in the middle of a war zone.

I was blown away by Badkhen’s ability to capture minute scenes and expand them to illuminate a larger world problem–war in Afghanistan. By using the little girl, Kamrana, she attaches human interest to the story and holds our attention. Her language is riveting and storylike, but it also explains how civilians living in an already impoverished country need the little joys to keep them going through tumultuous times.

I especially liked how Badkhen used figures for UNcertainty, rather than concrete facts. By showing us different and very large numbers, she details how little we, as the world, know about the casualties in Afghanistan. Although 14,000 and 34,000 are both big numbers, the difference in their sums is the freshman and sophomore classes at UW-Madison combined. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of children.

Furthermore, Badkhen’s use of linking to other content made her story more credible. She uses sources that (usually) get the facts correct and pits them against each other to show the discrepancy among experts. Who is really correct in their estimates?

I also enjoyed how she shows the soft and vulnerable underbelly of war–the fear and pitiful hope that people hold on to. Contrarily, she enumerates the precious little joys they find in daily life: camel yogurt, swimming in a river.

Her use of the minutest detail allows the reader to place themselves in her situation, gazing over sun-baked sands and wondering if this glorious day will be ruined by death.

I am highly impressed.

Wait a Minute, North Korea…

CNN recently released an article detailing North Korea’s plan to launch a rocket, supposedly for the purpose of casting a satellite into orbit.

This worries me. It is common knowledge that North Korea is a communist state with a tendency towards isolation. Obviously this makes international relations difficult, but even more so, it makes international communication difficult. When we lack communication, rumors spread and that’s what creates upheaval.

North Korea recently announced a rocket launch from Pyongyang. U.N. delegates from all over the world are calling this measure “provocative,” and rightly so, in my opinion. Given that North Korea’s neighbors are within rocket-launch distance, if the missile were to explode, there would be massive casualties and international cacophony.

Moreover, who’s to say that North Korea is really only launching a satellite? According to the article, the United States and South Korea see this launch as “a cover for a ballistic missile test.”

For the sake of unbiased opinion, one could say that North Korea is only running these supposed tests for the sake of national safety, but why keep it quiet then?

I worry for the sake of the world if they’re planning something destructive. Given that they have one of the largest standing armies in the world, they could cause serious harm to the already precarious balance we have erected.

Let’s hope they don’t do anything drastic.

Wait, she DIED!?

After reading “A Facebook Story” on The Washington Post, I sat in my room and blinked back tears. I rarely get so emotional over the lives of others, but something about this series of posts elicited a fierce reaction. Perhaps it’s how closely I can relate to Shana–since she and I are both Jewish, a lot of the customs mentioned in her posts are the same ones I practice. Friends of mine have met their significant others on Jdate and my dad is a mohel (the man who performs a bris). Reading about a woman whose life could very well mirror my own shook me.

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Thoughts about “Miss Representation”

Tonight I and my roommate, Kelly, went to a viewing of the documentary Miss Representation. The focus of the film was to illuminate how women AREN’T on equal footing in the media, politics, and other social, economic, and interpersonal circles.

Frankly, this film made me sad. Sad for the women who strive so hard to make something of themselves and are shot down by men and other women alike who feel that there is no place of power for a woman in American society. It made me sad for the future of my children–my daughters who may be forced into situations that objectify and belittle them because of their gender, and for my sons who will be considered “gay” or “queer” if they like something as “girly” as a purple marker. As an aspiring woman in mass communication, I feel that it is my duty to make sure I and all the other women in the world are empowered to the point that they can conquer the stereotypes facing them every day. Continue reading

Harrowing Thoughts for a Lost Brother

Tyler Hicks and C.J. Chivers, the photographers accompanying a group of soldiers in Afghanistan, embarked on a journalistic journey to document the soldiers as they traveled through Afghani lands and straight into the arms of an ambush. Narrated by fellow soldiers Pfc. Troy Pacini-Harvey and Specialist Robert Soto, the story became a personal retelling of their battle, as well as a touching remembrance for their lost brother-in-arms, Pfc. Richard A. Dewater. Continue reading