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UnREAL Is Shallow and Materialistic, That’s Why It’s So Powerful

UnREAL Is Shallow and Materialistic, That’s Why It’s So Powerful

UnREAL sets itself up and poises itself as a melodramatic series. We watch characters, strong-women with issues as they go head to head with the misogynistic and ridiculous “reality” of Bachelor-style TV. UnREAL places racism — muslims, blacks, southern belle’s and forces them together. All […]

Hire Me

Hire Me

If you’re looking for a writer that is passionate, hard-working, and creative, then you’ve come to the right place.

Party Lines in the Nova Scotia Election

Party Lines in the Nova Scotia Election

The Nova Scotia election is here, and as McNeil makes election promises, I carefully consider my options. As a political science student, I have been taught about the Canadian government from the ground up. I have also been told time and time again that my vote matters. I will first confess that I am a liberal party member. I confess this not because I am about to sing my praises for McNeil, but the opposite. While I proudly show my liberal membership card, I will not proudly defend Mr. McNeil. As a young Nova Scotian, I know all too well the job prospects, and the decisions youth and young families must make in this province. Sadly, the decision for many is to leave. In the coming Nova Scotia election, I have been thinking carefully.

While Mr. McNeil considers bringing youth to his side, devoting resources to schools, and promising jobs, I have little faith in these programs. I have little faith in a system that does not seem to be changing. I have little faith in a man that pushes unions of nurses and teachers against a wall. Whether one agrees with the demands of the unions is not the point. The point is that Mr. McNeil has shown that in concern to an aging population, and to educating our youth, that his promises only come up during campaigns – and he rules with an iron first.

Like many Liberals, I am now wondering who I should vote for. The NDP may benefit greatly from the failings of Mr. McNeil, whether they will benefit enough to take the election, of course remains to be seen. It is also possible that the conservatives will take the province. This possibility is not because of the greatness of the other two parties, but the shortcomings of Mr. McNeil. In my riding, I believe all three candidates would be an outstanding match for the job. I see little reason to go against the incumbent as he has faithfully served our area for a substantial number of years. I have fond memories of him visiting my school as a child, and would even consider campaigning for him. It is this kind of greatness that I wish I could stand up for without question, but I can’t.

I must weigh my vote carefully because backing the Liberal MLA is not just backing his politics. It is backing a provincial government that I am not necessarily enthralled by. Whether I would support the NDP or Conservative nominees is a question that I am rightfully considering. While I want to vote for “the best man for the job” that can be difficult in a system that ties MLAs with the party that will remain, or become in charge. I do not think we should ignore our districts either. Thus, this has become a great dilemma for me. My choices seem to be to remain complacent, or to tell the Liberal party that while I am loyal, I will not stand for this. I will not stand for a government that has gone against my own values – that people matter, and that education, healthcare, and a good life is something that I wish for all Nova Scotians.

As this election continues, we must ask our candidates not only what they stand for, but how much of the platform they are supporting. We must ask our candidates if they are willing to stand up to their leadership when the ‘going gets tough’, or if a vote for them is merely a vote for the party line. In the modern Canada that I want to support, I hope we can find candidates that are not only willing to be tough on the competition but willing to faithfully stand up for the values that are important both to their constituents and to persons that may have become weary of the party’s position.

I carefully weigh the decision of my vote because I want a province that can stand on its own two feet. I want to ensure that our future is protected and that Nova Scotians of all ages can live in a province that is actively fighting for our development. There will always be questions that are tough to answer and politics, no matter which candidate is in charge, will always have compromises. As I look toward the candidates in this election, both locally and for provincial leader, I want to see what they are willing to change, what they are willing to stand up for at all costs, and what they are not willing to concede to. I hope that they will be uncompromising on their values, but compromising on positions that impede change. Now, more than ever, I am looking for candidates that will put Nova Scotians – all of them, at the top of their agenda. Instead of making me promises you cannot keep – show me. Show me that you are a candidate that respects my values and respects my province. Please remember that this election is more than the candidate that has the best Facebook posts. This election is more than rallies or campaign signs. This election is about our future. In that future, I hope to see a political process that is evolving.

 

“Frozen”

“Frozen”

Her eyes are heavy. Those eyes are blue and icy. As I look into those eyes I could cry. If I could search those eyes I might find the answer to many mysteries in their depth. I do not. I only gaze at the surface. […]

“You’re Everything”

“You’re Everything”

I think he thought I was beautiful then. I hope he did. My hair was a bit longer, and I used to wear it in loose waves. Maybe he never thought I was beautiful. Maybe he only thought I needed him, which I did. “Scarlett, […]

“A Dream Within A Thousand Dreams”

“A Dream Within A Thousand Dreams”

I have never felt ashamed of my anxiety and depression. I have suffered, tread through, and rejoiced in its remissions for the better part of ten years. Since I was 12 years old, I have found ways to overcome and to live with these conditions. You would think all of this pain, and losing my grandfather — amongst dozens of other relatives so early in life, would have prepared my for what I am about to speak of. But, nothing prepares you for moments that rip apart your being, your core.

Two years later… with a month to spare… the lights went out. Slowly, they are flickering back on. At first I could only see shadows and now I can see the room, and the outside of the window. I am no longer devastated, but I am not the same.

My grandmother, a wonderful lady, supported me through much of my life. She was kind, compassionate, funny, and vain at times. Many never knew the last bit, but we still joke about it, my mother and I. She was vain, but not selfish.

The morning she died I was awoken by my mother, scared, frantic. “Grandma’s in an ambulance”. You see — we lived across the highway from the hospital. Right there, across the road from my childhood home, is where my grandmother was being carted off. So, I went. I went, and I called my relatives — we all met. Then, we were told it was much more serious so she would be sent to another hospital 45 minutes away…

We found out the day she died that she had cancer. In her brain. There was no saving her. So, still trapped in that hospital room today, I can explain to you the metal of the sink, of the bedding — the lost look on the doctor’s face. She too, had lost her father mere weeks before to the same grappling illness.

The American Dream

The American Dream

Music means a lot more to people than simply splicing beats with vocals. It’s the sensations that course through our lives, and it’s a gateway to our emotions. Sometimes, without meaning to, I am found deep in reflection and introspection when it comes to music. […]

Before Arguing for Animal Rights, Learn What You’re Talking About

Before Arguing for Animal Rights, Learn What You’re Talking About

Recently the Truro Daily News published a piece that aims to ‘shed light’ on the issues of animal rights. It seems that radical Vegan movements that are most commonly found in larger cities has finally made its way to the more traditional landscape of Nova […]

The New Frontier: The Legality of Data-Sharing, Piracy, and the Threat of Cyber-Warfare

The New Frontier: The Legality of Data-Sharing, Piracy, and the Threat of Cyber-Warfare

The world we now live in is a world of data. Information is now a resource that is widely traded, sold, and according to some, exploited. Mixed views on data-sharing and data-mining have led to a world where the NSA can freely spy and look for information wherever they choose, yet a person can be labeled a thief for sharing a digital copy of a DVD that they purchased. However, the growing number of “good guys” finding information is also coinciding with the ability of foreign nations to spy. Thus, the question is roughly devised around the legitimacy of privacy rights in the face of a potential threat. Such as the case of mass-arrests during war-time, is the invasion of digital privacy merely a reaction to the clear threat of cyber-warfare? If it is concluded that digital privacy is non-existent, then piracy and other data-sharing techniques may fall may merely be a cultural by-product of our new data-age. This is further complicated by the conflict of whistleblowers vs the NSA. On the one hand, data may be free and open – therefore, the NSA “leaks” were merely a product of culture. However, on the other hand, there are reasonable exceptions that nations take in order to protect the interests of their peoples.

In recent times the case of Edward Snowden has become so inshrined in modern debate and discussion that it is practically a folk tale. Snowden released classified documents believing, “his only choice was to expose the NSA activities in order to spark public debate about what the NSA was doing, and to stimulate reforms” (Fidler 2). To some this is an act of heroism, others, treason. What Snowden revealed was much deeper than the revelation that the United States was spying on its own citizens. While this is constitutionally questionable, it is not necessarily within the global sphere to condemn. The greater issue, which unsettled many, was that the NSA had been spying on other nations. Worse than spying on enemies, or nations that may reasonably have suspicion for cyber-warfare, the US was spying on its ‘friends’.

The NSA was closely watching and gathering intelligence on, “foreign countries, including close allies and fellow democracies, and spying on international institutions, such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN)” (Fidler 8). If the NSA is able to so casually spy on other democratic nations, then there is no one to stop the NSA from going a step further, and divulging this information to government officials that may use this as a political advantage. President Obama callously stated that, “he did not know that the NSA tapped Merkel’s mobile phone”, and that “either the NSA was out of control or that spying on Germany’s top leader was not important enough for the president to know” (Fidler 8). Perhaps if the NSA is out of control it would be reasonable to limit their involvement, or their rights, in international affairs.

According to Bob Toxen, “a person, regardless of citizenship, always is entitled to all Constitutional rights and may challenge a violation. The only government defense is that no violation took place” (Toxen 50). This point is made briefly after discussing cases in which judges dismissed allegations against the government for breaching the 4th amendment right of Americans. The judge, unfavorably, ruled that because Snowden’s information was illegally obtained and released, there was no crime. In the age of digital information it seems to be a larger question of whose rights matter most, or at all: the government agencies, or the people the government agencies should protect.

While questioning whether or not the fourth amendment was infringed upon by the NSA, there should be examination upon the judges interpretation of Snowden’s illegal obtainment of documents, and the lack of a case against the NSA because of this. Switching gears to another example of cyber-data and the question of the law, and rights, we are faced with P2P sharing and piracy. On the surface these cases may not seem similar. A young mother was fined $1.9 million (USD) for downloading CDs that amounted to less than $60 in value (Da Rimini 319). Of course, the fine is substantial and disproportionate for the crime. This is not the issue that causes similarity. The defendant’s actions must have been tracked, either by the Internet Service Provider or persons that worked for the company. This, may in-fact have the same breach of the Fourth Amendment that was mentioned above. More importantly though, the case should not have been authorized because the initial gathering of evidence was not in accordance with democratic law. Cases like these draw a clear line when it comes to data rights. What is right and “lawful” seems to have more to do with those that have power, and less to do with the rights of the people.

Privacy, once a heavily regarded right, has been put to the test by the modern data world. Since websites technically “own” all the content placed on them (they own the domain, the database), it is interesting when we see companies that are selling the data of their users. This practice may seem strange for democratic nations such as the US, Canada, Britain, and other developed nations. However, as Sheldon S. Wolin points out in his book Democracy Inc, when discussing the U.S., “unlike the classic totalitarian regimes which lost no opportunity for dramatizing and insisting upon a radical transformation that virtually eradicated all traces of the previous system, inverted totalitarianism has emerged … in seeming unbroken continuity with the nation’s political traditions” (45-46). Essentially, Wolin is commenting on the shifting ability of nations to feel entirely comfortable with, and normalize the act of data sharing. With focus on terrorism or “cyber-warfare” we are seeing a populace that is being conditioned to believe that going against the NSA is “unpatriotic”. Whilst many may point of that there are a great number of persons that oppose these dealings, it is a fact that Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have been tried and convicted for sharing information against their security clearance.

The ownership and legitimacy of data is constantly being challenged in the modern, globalized era. Most recently, Netflix caused a stir by enforcing geoblocking content and VPN (a way to “trick” the server into believing you are viewing from another location). The practice of accessing content that is not legally-owned in your country is one that has been practiced relatively unchallenged by Netflix consumers until new restrictions were put into place. This may be largely due to pressure from media companies, as the, “hack of Sony Pictures led to the release of emails where Sony executives apparently accused Netflix of being too permissive of VPN users sneaking through foreign servers”(Kennedy). Netflix began cracking down on the VPN restrictions, and “many tech experts speculate that the company’s hand was forced by pressure from rights holders to stick to its territorial licensing agreements” (Harris). Geoblocking, alongside piracy, raises concerns over the Internet and the ownership of content. Piracy alongside whistleblowing is currently viewed as an illegal transference of information. While the scale of punishment differs, both accounts are essentially boiled down to sharing media, content, or information that the person was not allowed to share.

While whistleblowing is illegal due to a perceived threat of government officials and entities, “piracy” is illegal because it challenges economic ideals and the Copyright of Media Providers and Content Creators. Though profit is often acknowledged as the major impact of piracy, “discourses around lost sales and reduced profit for film industries are complicated by piracy contexts where there is no mechanism for viewers to make their online purchases” (Beirne 18). Beirne, of Newcastle University goes on to examine the cultural impact and value that piracy has to international and global viewers. It is important to reflect that, “geoblocking practices encourage online film piracy, making piracy a central (sometimes the only) means of enabling wider distribution of important cultural texts to a minority audience for whom it may be difficult or impossible to purchase some films legally” (19). The minorities referenced in the journal are that of Lesbian viewers that do not have access to important stigma- reducing films in their countries. Since the films are so greatly important to their cause, the notion of piracy is skewed. Not only were the viewers unable to purchase the films legally, thus no profit was lost, the viewers and society reasonably benefited from the act.

The UN understands that ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is imperative to the social development of countries. It is recognized that, “[i]n the highly globalized information age, development cannot occur without such social and economic networks” (Weiss 353). Films are not the only pirated material. This can include text books, software, and other products that would significantly improve the quality of life or access of information to those receiving or “pirating” the product. Piracy is not cut and dry, as it “takes different forms, there are a diversity of pirates, they have different levels of impact on the film industry, and there are reasons why a viewership imperative may outweigh a profit motive in some contexts” (Bierne 22).

While the NSA has been under much scrutiny for their part in data obtainment, “Administration has argued that the surveillance activities leaked to the press, in addition to being subject to oversight by all three branches of government, are important to national security and have helped disrupt terror plots” (Cepeda 12). Whether or not this is true is less important than the notion that it is “widely accepted that the public release of at least some of such information poses a significant enough threat to the security of the nation that the public interest is better served by keeping it secret” (Cepeda 61). The information collected by these groups may or may not be important, and may or may not be against what is considered “reasonable”. However, the fact remains that in releasing these documents, Snowden and Manning (and others) could have been putting government institutions at detrimental risk. Since the information once given out was open and free, there was nothing stopping any one, or any peoples, from obtaining the documents. While there may have been just cause for releasing some documents that show US-Foreign relations, or that show specific cases of breach of government, there is little doubt that mass-release of classified documents is not in the best interest of governments, or the peoples it resides over. It is for this reason that you are unable to go into another’s home, take their documents, and publish them. Paradoxically, the NSA seems to be doing just that as they collect this information in the first place.

The NSA, in its defense, is combating a weapon in which, “any computer is a potential cyberweapon and anyone with advanced knowledge of information systems is a potential cybercombatant” (Dipert 385). Furthermore, Dipert mentions that there is reason to suspect cyber-warfare from other nations, such as China. Divert notes, “the Chinese government has hackers – cybersoldiers – organized into battalions and regiments” (385). Since any computer can be a weapon, it is imperative that the NSA and their agents are casting a very wide net. As well, their spying on “friendly” neighbors could be justified by the fact that it is easy to mask where a computer or a user is actually located. This, as we saw with geoblocking, is an issue that is common enough it has made its way to mainstream users. If an average Netflix user can “trick the system” into believing that they are in the US when they are in-fact, in Australia, then it is perfectly reasonable that a skilled and accomplished web hacker could use advanced means of this behaviour.

Since cyberwarfare is so widespread, the NSA and intelligence officials have noted that ,“the breadth of the collection is necessary to ensure all relevant information is available to the government and can be identified through searches in NSA’s database, rather than having more focused collection that might miss relevant information” (Cepeda 13). It follows a pattern of logic that a hard-to-identify crime would need as much information and data as possible. The threat is taken further with the notion that, “weapons or weapons systems can be rendered impossible for a time or even physically sabotaged by faulty messages or intrusions” (Dipert 389). Dipert asserts not only that these systems may be compromised, but they have resulted in failures in the past, and are, effectively, subject to vulnerability. Though the events he mentions were not due to cyber-attacks, they do show that the systems are “fragile”. He notes that the “Patriot anti-aircraft and anti-missile system in 1991 and 2003 and the disastrous shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner by the Aegis Combat System (in 1988) aboard the US cruiser Vincennes that automates fire control of guns and missiles” (Dipert 389).

It is all to easily to quickly brush-aside the NSA’s legitimacy because they have been “spying” on those that they “should not spy on”. However, when it comes to ethics of espionage and spying, morality and ethics may or may not err on the side of intelligence operatives. If the NSA is truly counter-acting cyberwarfare then,“regardless of the nature and scope of threats to national security, moral statecraft demands that leaders devise public policies that involve war only as a last resort and that violence be limited, proportional, and discrimination” (Amstutz 129). Intelligence is unlikely to be intercepted by third-parties unless whistleblowers have become involved. For this matter, the violence is likely to be limited and proportional. On the question of the justification of espionage it is, “only through the use of gathered information by an enemy that a nation’s interest may be harmed” (Dipert 389). Initially, there is pause over whether or not the mass-collection of information is discriminatory. While it is not at the gathering stage, the use of this information is likely to be both limited, and only used in situations that are extreme, and therefore a discriminative last-resort.

The NSA, despite there being reason to doubt their motives, have compelling evidence that makes their operations seem, at the very least, beneficial to the ruling of democratic nations. Since cyber-espionage is a threat, it is crucial that there is a line of defense that aims to protect the interests of the general public, and of course, the nations on a whole. Just as the NSA is collecting data, so are other countries.

However, if we are to be a free and open society, with the exception of whistleblowers and those that do harm, it should be recognized that persons that share data, whether pirating, or merely due to lack of access, are not criminals but merely living in the age and generation that they are now exposed to. The limitation here, like that of the NSA, is the proportionate harm that the event causes. This is why whistleblowing continues to be illegal. It is not the sharing of data that is the problem or the moral issue, it is the possibility of harm that the event has caused. This, paired with the lack of discrimination, draws a clear line between the ethical wrong-doing of whistleblowers and the lack of ethical wrong-doing that comes alongside geo-blocking. Data-sharing, so long as it is used in cases where there is little to no harm, or the proposed benefit outweighs the proposed threat, should be considered legal.

Works Cited

Amstutz, M.R. (2008) International ethics: Concepts, theories, and cases in global politics. 3rd edn. United States: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Beirne, Rebecca. “Piracy, Geoblocking, and Australian Access to Niche Independent Cinema.” Popular Communication. 13.1 (2015): 18-31. Print.

Cepeda, Simon. Nsa Intelligence Collection, Leaks, and the Protection of Classified Information: Background and Issues. , 2014. Internet resource.

Clarke, Richard A, Michael J. Morell, Geoffrey R. Stone, Cass R. Sunstein, and Peter P. Swire. The Nsa Report: Liberty and Security in a Changing World. , 2014. Internet resource.

Da Rimini, Francesca. “The Tangled Hydra: Developments in Transglobal Peer-to-Peer Culture”. Global Networks. 2013. 13, no. 3: 310-329.

Dipert, Randall R. “The Ethics of Cyberwarfare.” Journal of Military Ethics. 9.4 (2010): 384-410. Print.

Fidler, David P. The Snowden Reader. , 2015. Internet resource.
Kaplan, Bonnie. “Selling Health Data.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 24.3

(2015). Print.

Kennedy, David. “Netflix Border Jumping May Be Over; Vpn Block: Reports.” National Post (index-Only). (2015). Print.

Rogers, Russ. Security Assessment: Case Studies for Implementing the Nsa Iam. Rockland, Mass: Syngress, 2004. Internet resource.

Toxen, Bob. “The Nsa and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye.” Association for Computing Machinery. Communications of the Acm. 57.5 (2014): 44. Print.

Vandekerckhove, Wim. Whistleblowing and Organizational Social Responsibility: A Global Assessment. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2006. Internet resource.

Weiss, T.G., Forsythe, D.P., Coate, R.A. and Pease, K.-K. (2013) The United Nations and changing world politics. 7th edn. United States: Westview Press.

Wolin, S.S. (2010) Democracy Incorporated: Managed democracy and the specter of inverted totalitarianism. United States: Princeton University Press.

Should There Be an International Form of Government?

Should There Be an International Form of Government?

The global form of government is anarchic and hectic by its very nature. Procedure and rules have been applied by arbitrary forces. The views of the strongest nations have impacted foreign policies, and remain the largest factor in determining the shaping of global order. Since, […]