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April 11, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-04-11

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4 - Friday, April 11, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Lbe1Midiigan &aly
Edited and managed by students at
the University ofMichigan since 1890.
420 Maynard Sc.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

We are not anti-Chinese. Right from the
beginning, we supported the Olympic Games."
-The Dalai Lama, at a news conference in Narita, Japan talking about the Tibetan
government-in-exile's stance on the Games, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.







7 _

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umiCh.edu.
A different exit strategy
Bush passes war to next president; Congress needs to act
L eave itto the nextguy- that's President Bush's newexitstrat-
egy. Echoing the recommendations of Gen. David Petraeus,
the military's top commander in Iraq, Bush announced yes-
terday that he will indefinitely halt troop withdrawals from Iraq in
July. After five years, more than $500 billion spent, more than 4,000
American lives lost and an untold number of Iraqis killed, it's about
time that we realize that the war in Iraq can't continue this on this
course. And if that requires that the Democratic-controlled Con-
gress start backing up its rhetoric with action, then so be it.


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Coming on the heels of a two-day visit to
Capitol Hill by Petraeus and U.S ambassa-
dor to Iraq Ryan Crocker, Bush's announce-
ment yesterday virtually guarantees that
as many as 140,000 U.S. troops will still
be fighting in Iraq when he leaves office in
January. Between now and July, the addi-
tional 30,000 troops who went to Iraq as
part of the flawed "surge" will return home
as promised, but the rest will stay. Whining
about America's impatience, Bush declared
that Petraeus must "have all the time he
needs" to throw together some kind of
peace in Iraq.
Butthis war doesn't deserve our patience.
After five years, what does America have
to show for its efforts? Sure, violence may
be down in Iraq - compared to the anar-
chy that prevailed after the baseless and
botched invasion. And sure, last summer's
"surge" brought uneven security to a few
regions. But then again, its goal wasn't just
to reduce bombings and roving gangs; it
was supposed to open the door for political
stability. That hasn't happened.
There are two things the war in Iraq has
caused, though: an oversized bill and a lot
of dead bodies. There are the potentially
thousands of U.S. troops and the tens or
even hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead.
And already, the war in Iraq has cost more
than $500 billion. But if you factor in hid-

den costs like the future health care and
benefits payments that will be paid to veter-
ans of the war, the actual cost to taxpayers
could climb as high as $2 trillion, according
to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph
Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.
The people who are paying for these costs
are us - America's youth. The debt will be
ours. The soldiers are our friends and fam-
ily. The international mess left behind will
be the duty of our generation's politicians
to clean up.
Bush shouldn't be trusted with free reign
to further all of these things, and Congress
must lend the opposition as it promised it
would in 2006. And at the front of the pack
has to be Michigan's Sen. Carl Levin, whose
position as chairman of the Senate Armed
Services Committee affords him the power
to change the war's course.
There is no silver-bullet solution to end
the war in Iraq. However, it's obvious that
what Bush has been doing for the last five
years hasn't worked. Allowing him to con-
tinue without timetables and with an open
checkbook is irresponsible and counterpro-
If Bush wants to guarantee that troops
will be in Iraq come January 2009, Con-
gress needs to guarantee that Bush's exit
strategy isn't just his own exit from the
Oval Office.

he oth
old. Williams
always d
about learnir
read, but spe
his life as a la
in rural Mis
had never bee:
to afford the ti
the money to
the alphabet
alone words.
article was
pered with p

America's other reality
er day, I read an article and, as an inevitable result, the vast surviving below this threshold, and a
a first-grader named majority of us has come from soci- U.S. Department of Agriculture survey
Williams. He's 70 years ety's middle and upper crust. Most revealed that at some point in 2005,
had of us probably grew up in a bourgeois food was not readily available for more
reamt haven of comfy suburban prosper- than one in 10 households.
sg to ity or trendy urban leisure - but this These are the truths about our
nding isn't how most people live. More than country that most of us, with our col-
borer half of the population is either work- lege degrees and just-in-case-we-need-
souri, ing class or poor. But because of social them parental cushions, will probably
n able stratification, our lives have probably never have to confront. Many of uswill
me or not led us to the other side of America's maintain our economic status, cradle
learn ' tracks frequently enough to teach us to grave. We will never come face to
- let that coupons, used cars and factory face with Americans who survive on a
The ASHLEA jobs are the status quo - not suburbia few dollars a day, can't read a food label
pep- SURLES and suits.We should constantlyremind and have never had a job that doesn't
'hotos ourselves that Salvation Armies are for


of the weathered.
old man sitting in the classroom sur-
rounded by tiny children, making the
same crafts and reading the same pic-
ture books. It also included photos of
him standing in front of the ramshack-
le hut that he called home. I thought
about how much courage it must have
taken him to shallow his pride to reg-
ister for elementary school at that age.
I wondered how many other people out
there are facing the same struggle but
don't - or can't - address it.
I looked it up and was stunned.
According to the National Institute for
Literacy, 13 percent of English-speak-
ing adults were "functionally" illit-
erate in 2003. This means that these
individuals are unable to "comprehend
and use written material." Tobe sure,
we've made great leaps in terms of
teaching our country to read, but we
remain miles off the mark of universal
literacy. There's still a huge percentage
of our country that can't read a news-
paper, let alone a medical statement or
a parking ticket. I had no idea. And I
imagine you probably didn't either.
This is one of the most prestigious
and pricey universities in the nation

more than just theme-party costumes
and porch couches.
Illiteracy is an ever-present scourge
in this country, and high school diplo-
mas aren't things to be taken for grant-
ed either. Presumably, many of us were
funneledhere fromcommunitieswhere
more schooling was the inevitable next
step after high school. But the reality
is that about 15 percent of Americans
over the age of 24 in America hasn't
received a high school diploma. And,
while we're breaking into cold sweats
and gettingthe hives over finding a job
after graduation, the roughly 73 per-
cent of citizens over the age of 24 who
aren't lucky enough to boast a college
degree is managing as best they can.
How's that for perspective?
Not only is education not as ubiqui-
tous in our society as you might have
thought, but, on top of this, a hefty
portion of Americans is scraping by
below the poverty line. The U.S. Cen-
sus Bureau considers a person under 65
years of age living on less than $10,787
a year to be "impoverished." This
amount equals roughly one semester
of in-state tuition for us. Currently,
about 12 percent of the population is

those who aren't
so privileged.
make their bones ache at the end of a
day. But even if we don't see them, we
must know that they're there because
they compose the majority, not us. But
despite this, we the college educated
- the kids from the bubbles of wealth
and well-being - are the ones who are
most likely to hold the Senate seats,
shape policies and be in positions that
will give us the money and means to
affect change. We have an obligation
to, at the very least, know what this
country truly looks like beyond our
fertilized lawns and outside our cars'
power windows.
By all accounts, we lead charmed
lives. But let's do society and ourselves
a favor and never forget that.
Ashlea Surles can be reached
at ajsurles@umich.edu.

Aliens, cults and pranksters


Celebrities can be weird people. There are
always rumors about one celebrity or another
floating around some blog, but for the most
part, I tend not to follow such trivial "news."
However, I was intrigued by a leaked video
of Tom Cruise ranting and raving about the
Church of Scientology. He was babbling
almostincoherently, suggestingacleansweep
of those who oppose Scientology and hinting
that no other religion can help humanity like
Scientology can. Like many, I was confused,
but the video had a much more important
effect: It revealed the dark side of an organi-
zation that relies on controlling information
to survive and thrive.
Scientology's attempts to remove this
video from the Internet led a group called
Anonymous to make a video warning, saying
that Scientology was now at war with them.
The crimes they attributed to Scientology
were severe, severe enough to catch my eye.
What I found surprised me.
Documents from dozens of sources - the
New York Times, Time magazine, indepen-
dent reports and reports from former Sci-
entologists - tell stories of a cult-like group
whose "technology" created by the group's
founder, L. Ron Hubbard, seemed tanta-
mount to brainwashing. Its teachings are
based on the now famous Xenu story, a tale
of an alien nuclear holocaust kept confiden-
tial to all but high-level Scientologists until
it was leaked to the public several decades
ago. Even the German government has clas-
sified the group as a cult on the grounds that
it is more of a pyramid scheme than a true
religion. Apparently, to reach a higher spiri-
tual plane requires that you pay exorbitant
amounts of money, including in excess of
$300,000 to become an "Operating Thetan,"
a high state of being that apparently grants
superpowers and success.
The aftermath of Anonymous's threat was
a mass organization of protests against Sci-
entology in 14 countries and dozens of cities,
even Farmington Hills, Mich. Many protes-
tors wore masks to hide their identities from
the Scientologists, who have been known to
harass those who oppose them. They chose
to protest on Feb. 10, the birthday of Lisa
McPherson, one of Scientology's most nota-
ble victims.
The details of McPherson's death are
gruesome, but the shortened version is that
she died after being locked in a filthy room
for 17 days without proper care or nourish-
ment. Scientology settled out of court with
her family. McPherson's case apparently
isn't the only one. Many others associated
with the group have committed suicide or
died in mysterious accidents, and the strict
resistance to psychiatric help has led some
people with schizophrenia under the par-

entage of Scientology to commit violent acts,
even murder.
To add another insidious quality to Scien-
tology, it apparently committed one of the
largest infiltrations of the U.S. government
in history. "Operation Snow White," as it was
called in documents seized in an FBI raid, was
meant to place as many as 5,000 Scientology
operatives in 136 agencies that were chosen
because they either opposed Scientology or
could be used to further its agenda. The plan
included wiretapping, documentation theft
and full infiltration of organizations - most
notably the Internal Revenue Service - to
further its interests.
Scientology has negatively affected many
of its members and cannot be left unaccount-
able. On April 12, the protesters from Anon-
ymous have promised to target those who
they feel need the most help: the families
that have disconnected members in Scientol-
ogy. Dubbing their newest round of protests
"Operation: Reconnect," they hope to get
alienated Scientologists back in touch with
their families.
I will be the first to admit that Scientol-
ogy is not a massive threat to our livelihood.
However, the group has largely gone unno-
ticed in America, despite being granted tax-
exempt status as a church more than a decade
ago. People should not be upset by the beliefs
of Scientology but aware of the practices of
organizations that abuse their members, as
well as those who stand up against them.
Ben Caleca is an engineering sophomore
and a member of the Daily's editorial board.
~ ~
_- ..._
(.Y" 8.

Leaving your legacy behind,

'm sure most people come to this
university with a few basic goals:
get a degree, get a job, get high, get
laid or whatever it is the kids are into
these days. And
then I bet there are
those of you who
came here hoping
to effect change or
at the very least,
leave a mark here.
I know I did.
I thought I was
going to start one DAVE
million different
student groups a MEKELBURG
la Jason Schwartz-
man in "Rush-
more." I was even close to starting a
(gender inclusive) Gentlemen's Pipe
Smoking Club. I'm OK with not having
done that. Obscure, poorly attended
clubs wouldn't have brought me the
same fulfillment as my eventual choic-
es: a short-lived rugby career and a job
at the Daily.
If you bear with me for another
paragraph, I swear this won't turn
into a sappy, I-love-the-Daily good-bye
party. You have my word.
Thank goodness for the sprained
ankle that kept me off the rugby field
and prodded me into the Daily, where
I spent two years looking at the under-
belly of campus politics, especially the
Michigan Student Assembly. There is
so much institutional memory in these
organizations and so much immobile
tradition that sometimes I felt like I
was watching the faces change while
everything else stayed the same.
In these student groups, leadership
lasts for one year, and almost no one
works during the summer so realisti-
cally it'smore like eight months. Maybe
some hot shot has a two-year stint, but
that's all you get: eight months and a
pat on the back.

Because of this, the battles here
aren't just against a person who's been
in charge too long. A person is tangi-
ble. A revolving door of bodies and an
unwritten history are not. Add those
realities to the fact that we are stu-
dents with a ton of other priorities, and
effecting change is a monumental task.
Luckily, through the muck, I found
the changes I wanted to make. When
I became an associate news editor,
I wanted to do two things: improve
recruitment and retention at the Daily
and improve the Daily's relationships
with campus multicultural groups and
minority groups.
I failed at both. I also succeeded at
both. I guess it depends on how you
look at it. It wasn't until I started talk-
ing to people inside and outside of the
Daily, that I realized what I was up
against. Ideas, opinions and concerns
are passed down from year to year and
from generation to generation. It's the
same reason I look at the Michigan
Action Party and see its predecessors,
Students 4 Michigan and Students
First!. That's why problems in the
Daily's past affect it today: People - as
they probably should, to some extent
- pass them down.
You can't let this fatalism get you
down. As a diehard pessimistic fatalist,
I had to work hard to pretend I could
leave my mark on the University. But
that's the only way you can get any-
thing done. Breaking down a flawed
culture doesn't have the same instant
gratification that high-speed Internet
has taught us to expect.
To be truthful, maybe my legacy of
change will be this column. Maybe you
will read my recommendations and
actually get something done. If that's
true, here's the game plan as far as I
can tell:
First, you need to accept that your
name will die. Whatever you do won't

be attributed to you. This is good.Your
change shouldn't fade away with your
Second, focus on a few things at a
time. A simple mantra is: Be Moham-
mad Dar. The former MSA president
did more than anyone on MSA -maybe
ever - because he went after tangible
goals with thought-out plans.
Third, accept that you need to take
baby steps. A tiny step in the right
direction should be a cause for cel-
ebration. Avoiding a step in the wrong
direction should bea cause for a small-
er celebration.
Last, and most importantly, find
other people. The teensy steps of prog-
ress weren't my own - far from it. Peo-
Change takes a lot
of work and a little
bit of selflessness.
ple younger can keep your idea alive.
Institutionalizing it by writing it down
or formingalastingbody.
When I look at the Daily, it has
improved in the areas I had hoped
- not by leaps and bounds, but it's get-
ting there slowly. That's all I could ever
ask for. Even if my name isn't attached
to these changes, I'm just as happy as
if I were. If you want to change some-
thing - even if you're an egomaniac
like myself - you have to care about
the change more than your legacy.
I didn't leave a mark on this univer-
sity. But maybe,justmaybe, I left alittle
bit of change.
Dave Mekelburg wasa Daily fall/
winter associate news editor in 2007. He
can be reached at dmek@umich.edu.



Emad Ansari, Harun Buljina, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Imran Syed,
Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Kate Truesdell, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.




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