By Atreya Misra
Last week two teenagers, Danny Phillips and Eric Davidson in New Jersey, purchased synthetic cocaine from online suppliers on the website the silk road marketplace. What they didn’t know is that they would overdose, get rushed to the hospital, only to find out it was too late. The problem with online drug and weapons transactions has plagued the country, affecting homes, schools, and minors – all under the nose of law enforcement. It’s time to put an end to online illegal purchases and the other detriments of the deep web by affirming a legislation to crack down on the deep web.
First off, let’s examine the potential for this problem. In particular, it’s important to examine what makes up the deep web. Louisiana State University explains that websites like Facebook and Youtube are part of the surface web. But the surface web only makes up for about 4% of the actual Internet. The deep web, including restricted websites impossible to access from web browsers like safari and chrome, makes up over 96% of the total web. Additionally, the University of California Berkeley explains that a quarter of the deep web is made up of black markets, another quarter is made up of secret government applications, a third quarter is comprised of secret organizations, and the last quarter is unknown. So what’s the impact of not knowing about 96% of all data? Well, as Professor Michael Bergman of the University of Michigan articulates, arms trade, drug trade, persons trade, hiring assassins, and child pornography all occur more easily due to the deep web. Plus, major terrorist organizations can operate without notice through the deep web. In New Jersey, Rutgers University finds that over $20 Million in illegal transactions occurred in the state in 2012 due to the existence of the deep web. Clearly, we need to act now to eradicate the endless threats.
The solution isn’t simple, but possible. First, we need to fund law enforcement on both the state and national level. We can do this by providing additional funds to state agencies like the NJ cyber crimes unit and the national cyber crimes task force to help shut down software that allows people to access deep web sites. Business Insider of March 6, 2013 finds that the only way people can access “.onion” sites, the majority of deep web sites, is through software’s that can be downloaded from the surface web. The cyber crimes units can target the shut down of these software’s as well as “.onion” sites. Next, we need to create awareness. Most Americans have never even heard about the deep web before.
Taken together, these actions can foster safer schools, keep families out of harm’s way and prevent some of the most illegal acts. We can’t allow for kids like Danny and Eric to lose their lives in the future due to the deep web.
By Atreya Misra
Ever, since the Cold War, even before that, the United States has supported its policy of containment and enforcing democracies. Or has it? The US continually to support partners like China while its ignoring policies that it’s obligated to acknowledge.
In fact, according to the Congressional Research Service on June 24th, 2011, we, “despite apparently consistent statements in four decades, the U.S. “One China” policy concerning Taiwan remains somewhat ambiguous and subject to different interpretations” (Kan 2). The issue over whether we support Taiwan or not has been highly scrutinized. First, President Obama declares that we our neutral on the issue but then later states that Washington acknowledges China’s position that Taiwan is part of its territory.
However, the fact of the matter is, by supporting China as one country; we are directly stating that we support the partially communist government of China. On the contrary, Washington still states that it is in strong support of its containment policy. So the question remains, if we put down democratic Taiwan and support communist China, are we containing anything? The question still plagues the minds of politicians.
Nonetheless, let’s look at what action the US has taken to support. Of course, during the Cold War, we tried to support our policy as much as possible in Europe, now; we are taking steps to aid countries in a sea of monarchy, communism, and conflict, such as Israel. However, similar to our policy with Taiwan, our main concern has changed since the mid-20th Century. Rather than containing communism, we are more concerned with containing stable trade. In just the last century, we’ve sent billions of dollars in aid to Middle Eastern countries like the UAE (a monarchy). Also, we’ve been supporting countries which only claim to be republics or democracies, but are actually regimes that still contain fascism. We send aid to Venezuela even though its president has been assuming overarching power. Further, we supported Hosni Mubarak even though he has been in office for decades. In addition, we aid corrupted republics which are not working properly like the government of Pakistan. The list goes on and on. Why? To protect our oil.
Although people say we need to protect the Earth. It’s not only the Earth we will be protecting a long with reducing our oil consumption, but also our diplomatic relations. And in recent years, that has become a main concern. The US has ill relations with Iran, just because of oil. It’s time the US shifts to come to its senses, we mustn’t be concerned with oil, but rather with democracy worldwide.
So when it comes down to it, it’s not only Taiwan, our policy has been reflected everywhere for all reasons. Although we are in no Cold War, we have to keep ourselves to the standards that we had during the Cold War. Although it’s not an economic superpower like Germany in today’s case, the collection of corrupt regimes worldwide supersede Germany’s power. And with proper enforcement, we can shift our focus from oil to democracy.
By Atreya Misra
Nearly 600,000 authors represent Elsevier, a publishing company that compiles, reviews, and publishes journals across academia. However, in recent months, over 5,700 authors have joined a boycott against the organization. A statement issued in January from 34 mathematicians charges that Elsevier, along with many other publishing companies, “charge exorbitantly high prices for subscription to individual journals…makes huge profits [through a bundle payment system]…and support measures such as SOPA and PIPA that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.”
Among the protestors include three field medalists – Timothy Gowers, Terence Tao and Wendelin Werner – and the President of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), Ingrid Daubechies. Clearly this is no small matter. Rather, it is part of a broader debate on the role publishing companies play in academia. As the protesters note, these companies rely on a peer review system that is largely voluntary and based on free labor – labor that is highly prized in the research world. Nonetheless, while researchers and authors take on the load of peer review, these companies are the ones raking in larger and larger profits by selling journals only in bundles. Thus, libraries around the world end up paying for journals they in reality never need, since only part of each bundle is what they really desire.
In a sense, then, the publishing houses are the middlemen that academics no longer see as absolutely necessary. Of course, they have a rich history in disseminating research and validating academic work, yet the protest is aimed more at changing commercial practices rather than the entire publishing apparatus.
Timothy Gowers of Cambridge University, the man who started it all on January 21st of this year, posted on a blog post to get the attention of thousands of people worldwide on the fallacies of making revenue from this free labor. Nevertheless, it seems as though this conflict as gone unnoticed. In 2010, Elsevier reported profits hitting over $3.2 billion, a 36% profit. Even so, on a larger level, Congress made a stand after Gowers’ actions. First drafted in 2006, the Federal Research Public Access Act was reintroduced to Congress last month. This act would make information of federal researchers open to the public and forbid prices from being placed on research financed through public funding.
Hence, the issue of journal publishing reform continues. Elsevier, particularly, has been targeted because of the relatively high prices of its journals in relation to their academic reputations. Indeed, we believe that free access to scientific research bolsters innovation, and will only spur greater improvements in how public funding is targeted. Walling off research hinders academic cooperation, a key issue with the constant imposition of politics already stifling the flow of public funds. Steps need to be taken one at a time – already, Elsevier has backed off from its prior support of the Research Works Act, which would prohibit open access mandates on public research. Congress should act to increase the sharing of scientific advances by passing the Federal Research Public Access Act (H.R. 4004), which has already received 27 co-sponsors as of March 28th. Scholarly publication must continue, but not at the expense of public access.
By Atreya Misra
The Kashmir Conflict has plagued the minds of American politicians for years. From our traditional view of aiding Pakistan, to this recent emergence of a need to distance ourselves from them, we find ourselves more and more pressured to make a decision. Pakistan and India’s aggressiveness, arrogance, and attitude have damaged the United States image in the Southern Asia, especially in Pakistan. However, while they continuously benefit from our relationship, we lose influence and spend increasing amounts of money every year. While in the future we must maintain positive ties, at the moment we must take a stand against their infractions of international laws.
The problem today is that ever since India and Pakistan split into two countries from former British India, they have continuously disregarded our requests to make a compromise in the Kashmir region between them in order to make peace. From New Delhi to Islamabad, the Indian and Pakistani governments have continued to believe that they are not in violation of any international laws. The truth however, is that the condominium international law states that two countries cannot claim past the borders of another country as their own land. Also, nearly 100,000 people of all religions since the 1980s have been killed by this conflict. The human rights violation has been detrimental in this area, with thousands of protestors dying every year. We must not allow this to continue as this conflict has been going on for over 60 years now.
The solution is simple. Halting monetary military aid to India and Pakistan until they agree to abide by international laws and create a compromise regarding the Kashmir region to effectively stop massive amounts of violence from occurring. Pakistan has received $20.7 billion worth of U.S. assistance over the past decade, about two-thirds of it is military aid. Even though we will be suspending $800 million dollars of it, this is only a third of the total US military aid to Pakistan every year, meaning that over the next decade, we will be sending massive amounts of aid to Pakistan. The fact of the matter is, the United States sends approximately $2 billion of aid to India and Pakistan every year. This means over time India and Pakistan will realize that they are reliant on the US and they cannot do without the aid. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if India and Pakistan didn’t use our aid as a way to intimidate their neighbors. The fact that we lend our name in the international sphere to protect them is detrimental to our own image abroad. India and Pakistan officials however rely on our assistance in order to continue to have any type of influence in the international community.
Ending military aid is imperative to achieving our goals to ensure peace between India and Pakistan, as well as improving our image in the southern Asia. Pakistan’s people have been claiming the Kashmir region as their own. Also, Brajesh Mishra, India’s former national security adviser, states that, “No matter what government is in place, India is not going to relinquish control of Jammu and Kashmir, that is written in stone and cannot be changed.” The main chunk would be a split state has caused citizens of both nations to threaten to walk out of the peace process if they are not stopped immediately. By correcting these international law violations, peace will come to an area that has been plagued with war, hate, and blood for the past century. Furthermore, this benefit’s the United States directly. By reducing aid to these nations in the short term, we are declaring that there actions will not be condoned. This will be met with large amounts of approval from the international community.
Ending aid is the only way that we are going to see any changes in the Kashmir region. India and Pakistan’s aggressiveness, arrogance, and attitude have for too long lent the international community a reason to stand against the United States. We have to act now for the good of our country and that of the Kashmir people suffering at India and Pakistan’s hands.
By Atreya Misra
Every year, Columbia University invites many heads of states, government officials, and major politicians to the United Nations General Assembly, and every year, these invitations go without controversy. This lack of controversy exempts 2007, when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak on Columbia University’s campus. This one invitation sparked protests not only among the students of Columbia, but of people from all over the city of New York. The events of 2007 foreshadowed what is being observed today with the conflict in Iran as well as the tensions in that region. The United States should take a stance against Iran not through a radical act of war, but rather a method that will keep both United States and Middle Eastern countries safe, however improbable it may be.
Currently, the situation in Iran boils down to two issues, the first being Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. The closure of the strait would pose as significant downside risks not only on the military front, but on the economic front as well. On the military front, the closure would present major threats to all Middle Eastern Nations because of the limited navigation and security that would result from the closure. As for economic issues, the downturn would not be contained in the Middle East but rather it would spread throughout the world. Outside the Middle East, the closure would mean limited oil supply, harming nations such the China, the UK, as well as the US. Within the boundaries of the Middle East, countries, especially the United Arab Emirates, would not be able to trade as the paths that the cargo ships would have to go through would be blocked off. The United States’ job is to stop this, as it will risk the success of industries all over the world relying on oil from the Middle East. The US also has the moral obligation to prevent the closure because it was the first country to take a stance against Iran with sanctions bringing many other countries with it. If the United States does not do this soon, it will jeopardize the security of countries all around the globe, and no country can afford this danger.
Furthermore, the situation also boils down to Iran’s conflict with Israel. The two have been enemies for over sixty years and there are no signs of that changing soon. Just last Saturday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei displayed his opinion on Israel, and in no way was it quaint. The fact that the US is in firm support of Israel couldn’t worsen the situation any worse. Throughout the sixty years of conflict between Iran and Israel, tensions have never been higher. Both Israel and Iran are threatening each other with war constantly, and it seems as though Israel is getting impatient. For the U.S. Senate, holding off on war is the best thing to do and we cannot let Israel go forward. If Iran and Israel were to go into war, we wouldn’t see constraint. Iran would use its recently developed nuclear facilities while Israel would use tactics of total warfare, killing innocent Iranian citizens. Both of these situations must be avoided with any means necessary it would permanently scar Iran’s relations not only with Israel, but the United States as well.
The solution to this problem isn’t simple; it will require a lot of thought as well as tough decisions. Targeted sanctions, diplomacy – it is not necessarily a question of what, but how. The next few months are crucial; nonetheless, the United States must be guided by cautious yet forward-thinking leadership rather than naïve ignorance. It’s time we take active steps to prevent the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, it’s time we prevent an ultimate war from breaking out, and it’s time we take a firm stance against Iran.