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February 06, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-06

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4 - Friday, February 6, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
The 'U' unplugged
Increased security and wireless access equally important
lthough the University has established itself as a leader in
cutting-edge research and technology, there is still one basic
technology it doesn't deliver: complete wireless Internet
capabilities. Knowing this, it is bewildering to learn that University
officials have recently chosen to develop a new security system for
its wireless network without prioritizing basic, campus-wide Inter-
net access. While it is certainly important that the University keep
its online community safe, the University must also accelerate its
efforts to establish a universal wireless network so that all of its stu-
dents and faculty are able to connect at any place on campus.

If this is the change we all can believe in,
America's best days are behind her"
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R - S.C.), commenting on the stimulus package
proposed by President Obama, as reported yesterday by CNN.
f~ A1 ?V
Preventing another Katria

As it stands, the existing wireless network
is outdated and lacking in security. With
the old UM Wireless, users' data was not
necessarily secure unless they were using
a secure application to protect data or were
consciously visiting only secure websites. To
tighten security, Information Technology
Central Services is now providing wireless
coverage with the new MWireless network.
After downloading and installing MWire-
less software, wireless users will be linked
to the University's. safest wireless network.
MWireless uses a new, more sophisticated
encryption system to protect users' data.
And while ITCS is rightly fulfilling a
responsibility to improve Internet security,
it should simultaneously focus on increas-
ing the reach of campus wireless Internet.
Universities nationwide are enabling wire-
less access that span across entire campuses.
The University of Minnesota, University of
California at San Diego and even the much
older Dartmouth University are among the
colleges that have managed to provide full
coverage of their campuses both indoors and
outdoors. Even Ann Arbor's friendly neigh-
bor, Ypsilanti, has started a massive effort to
blanket the region with broadband access.
Yet, here in Ann Arbor, students are still
struggling to get a signal.
Baits Residence Hall residents, who have
no wireless connection, have felt the absence.
Even students living in Central Campus resi-
dence halls like West Quad and East Quad
can't get wireless unless they are in a desig-

nated wireless lounge. It's even more annoy-
ing that getting a strong wireless signal in
buildings that are supposed to have wireless,
like the Dennison Building or the stacks of
the Hatcher Graduate Library, is sometimes
nothing more than a fantasy. In a world
where Internet access is becoming increas-
ingly important in education, it's unaccept-
able that so many students don't have access
unless they're plugged into the wall. And, in
classrooms where wireless access is unreli-
able or nonexistent, students don't even have
that option.
The University argues it hasn't updated
access faster because it costs hundreds of
thousands of dollars to equip even a single
dorm hallway with wireless access. And, to
be fair, wireless access has been added to
many buildings that have undergone renova-
tion. That makes sense, but the University's
other rationalization doesn't. It argues that
the popularity of wireless and 3G phones
- which operateon their own networks -
have caused the demand for wireless access
to decrease. Currently, however, only about
a quarter of University students have such a
device. Besides, Internet access shouldn't be
limited to only economically advantaged stu-
dents who can afford the fanciest gadgets.
Hopefully, one day campus will promise
safe and widespread wireless access. But
for now, the best bet for gaining instant
wireless access in the comfort of an East
Quad dorm room may be to fork over $200
for a BlackBerry.

The storm left thousands dead
and tens of thousands more
homeless. An entire region was
flooded. Massive
damage spanned
hundreds of square
miles. In the storm's
wake, the nation
vowed that this
would never hap-
pen again. Within -
days, a government
initiative marked
the design of the BEN
largest flood control CALECA
project in modern
That sounds
very rational, even responsible, so it's
no wonder this wasn't the U.S. This
nation was the Netherlands. Politi-
cians in our own country need to stop
shuffling their feet and approve proj-
ects that will protect not just people,
but also homes and the economy from
the risks of major storms.
This past Saturday marked the 56th
anniversary of the 1953 North Sea
Flood, which killed thousands across
several European countries including
the Netherlands, Great Britain and
Belgium. These countries responded
efficiently by constructing systems
like the Deltaworks in the Nether-
lands. Floodgates, levees and dams
encircle much of the country's coasts
and harbors, protecting them from
flooding. One navigable channel over
a thousand feet wide can be complete-
ly sealed by a movable barrier that is
among the largest moving structures
ever built. The Deltaworks, which
dwarfs the New Orleans system, can
prevent damages from storms far larg-
er than the 1953 storm.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's
disastrous effects, it is embarrassingly
stupid thatthe federal governmenthas
not invested in a proper flood protec-
tion plan for vulnerable areas of the

Gulf coast. The cost of the Deltaworks
project over the span of fifty years
of construction totaled less than 10
percent of the cost of damages from.
Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.
While the costs to maintain such an
ambitious system are very great for
the Netherlands, much of these costs
go back into the economy in the form
of jobs for engineers, contractors and
technicians whose livelihoods are
based on the Deltaworks.
So what is really being done to pre-
vent a future disaster like Katrina?
The levee system proposed early last
year by the Army Corps of Engineers
is estimated to take over three decades
to build and will cost about $9 billion.
This system would be built to a 100-
year storm standard, which means it
protects Louisiana from storms that
occur only around once in a hundred
years. Compare this to the Delta-
works, which is built at 250 to 1,250-
year storm standards, and you get an
idea of how much more can be done for
the Gulf states.
But this project's price, which is
merely a fraction of the estimated $150
billion in damages to the economy
caused by Hurricane Katrina, is con-
sidered too high for many legislators.
The corps is expected to recommend
an even weaker levee system, similar
to those proposed before Hurricane
Katrina hit, that would only stand
up to a 25-year storm standard. At a
reduced cost compared to the current
proposal, this levee would not even
provide enough protection to guaran-
tee that all Louisiana citizens would
be able to buy federal flood insurance
without raising the elevation of their
homes at great cost. Such a proposal
is stunningly insulting to those whose
property - and families - were dam-
aged or destroyed by the disaster.
While the situation in New Orleans
isn't the same as the Netherlands,
significant resources are required to

protect the city. The civil infrastruc-
ture funds that are part of the most
current iteration of the stimulus bill in
Congress seem like an obvious source
of funds. But, as it turns out, the obvi-
ous just isn't so obvious to legislators.
A relatively paltry sum of $4.5 billion
was allocated to the Army Corps of
Engineers for a number of respon-
sibilities nationwide, of which flood
control is only one.
The U.S. needs to
take a lesson in
flood protection.
Some ,Republicans have proposed
that funds be thrown at the corps for
more extensive projects, but perhaps
legislators should look at who else
is equipped to handle New Orleans'
challenge. Other groups like the Loui-
siana State Office of Coastal Protec-
tion and Restoration claim they can
undercut the corps by a significant
amount.Congressneeds to lookatwho
is best equipped touse federal funds to
save lives and protect cities like New
Orleans from major storms.
While it's been over three years
since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the
Gulf coast, progress toward an accept-
able flood control systemfor the region
is still lagging. The Netherlands'
response to its own natural disaster is
a perfect example of how our nation
should approach this problem. If the
federal government is committed to
protecting the lives of people living
in the Gulf region, it cannot cheap out
and sit on its hands when it comes to
protecting citizens.
- Ben Caleca can be reached
at calecab@umich.edu.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters are edited
for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
A look at the stimulus bill

Getting away with murder

During these difficult economic times across
the country and in Michigan, much attention
has been paid to the economic stimulus pack-
age currently making its way through Con-
gress. The House version of the bill, labeled
H.R. 1, was passed last week and is currently
before the Senate. The package spends in three
distinct ways: government purchases of goods
and services, direct, payments to individuals
(for example, through welfare programs) and
tax relief. The Congressional Budget Office
estimates that the bill in its current form will
increase the federal budget deficit by about
$816 billion over the next ten years. Yet, even
with the high cost, it is essential that the bill
be passed swiftly to create jobs and boost con-
sumer confidence.
The government will use $365.6 billion of the
stimulus funds to rebuild highways and roads,
increase funding for education, perform pub-
lic facilities maintenance and invest in energy.
This form of spending will be the most direct
way to revive the economy because it has the
capacity to create millions of jobs. With unem-
ployment increasing every month, it is crucial
for the federal government to keep as many
people as possible on the payroll. And while
some worry that this type of spending will not
impact the economy as quickly as is needed, it is
the only way to ensure that government money
gets to the desired ends - namely, creating jobs
and investing in the country's future. Addition-
ally, part of this fund will be allocated to the
green energy sector. This will help to reduce
the nation's reliance on foreign oil, environ-
mental pollution associated with crude oil and
possible inflation risks in the future.
The second major portion of the stimulus
money, consisting of about $180 billion, will
seek to offer jobless benefits, Medicaid, supple-
mentalnutritionassistance, socialsecurityben-
efits and other programs that transfer money
directly to qualified citizens. This spending can
undoubtedly help to buffer many of the prob-
lems that people on Main Street face and help

them withstand these difficult times, but this
policy may not be effective. This spending will
not help create any new jobs and is not aimed
at fixing the sources of the country's economic
problems, but this money needs to be infused
into the society in order to temporarily allevi-
ate the crisis.
And lastly, the plan includes $275 billion
in tax relief. Last year, the Bush administra-
tion tried to implement a similar tax cut - the
Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. But its efforts
were unsuccessful in resurrecting the econo-
my. Instead of spending their share, most peo-
ple who received the tax relief ended up saving
a huge portion of this additional income. This
year will be no different. Most Americans will
choose to save in preparation for worse times
to come, and savings will not provide the vital
boost that the economy so sorely needs. And
while this relief unquestionably helps those
who really need it to pay the current month's
bills, but what about next month's? We need a
solution that can solve our problems without
simply delaying them.
In the end, raising consumer confidence is
essential to help the nation pull itself out of
this crisis. When consumer confidence goes up,
so does consumer spending, which accounts
for two-thirds of the country's gross domestic
product. Additionally, when the public con-
sumes more goods, businesses start to stock up
their inventories and increase spending once
more. With greater confidence in the economy,
financial markets begin to unfreeze lending,
which increases liquidity for investments and
business operations.
No bill is perfect, and the stimulus package is
no exception. But even though H.R. 1 is flawed
in a few ways, it is necessary that policymakers
work together and pass this bill quickly to start
the country's economic recovery..
Valerie Bieberich and ChoonBoon
Tan are co-directors of the Roosevelt
Institution Center on Economic Policy.

n New Year's Day in Oakland,
California, an unarmed black
man named Oscar Grant was
shot by a white
police officer. The
bullet went through
his back, rebounded
off the pavement,
pierced his lung and
took his life.
As a black man
who has been
harassed, thrown
up against a wall MATTHEW
and called racial HUNTER
slurs by white cops
in Michigan, I was
frustrated. When
I saw the video on KTVU, a local TV
station in Oakland, I played it over
many times. I thought that if I played
it enough, I would somehow erase it
horrible memory; maybe I couldunder-
stand it better or find a rationale for
the officer's actions. I thought that if I
researched enough maybe I could dis-
cover what crime Grant was suspected
of committing that could warrant such
a response. But as I watched and read
the reports, the social realities of the
event became glaringly clear.
As people were returning from vari-
ous festivities on Oakland's Bay Area
Rapid Transit subway, one bystander
opened his cell phone to record an
escalating conflict. BART police offi-
cers were investigating a report of a
fight nearby. The recording shows
three police officers surrounding men
against a wall. Grant appears, to be
making an innocent plea on his knees.
Other bystanders seem to be silent.
Grant was then forced to lie on his
stomach by the police. One police offi-
cer stands, draws his gun, and shoots
him in the back.
Grant was unarmed, but the offi-
cer contends that he was reaching for
a weapon. Grant did not appear to be
struggling at all, but if he did reach
for a gun, it would have been justifi-

able grounds to use force. The offi-
cer also claims that he meant to use
a taser instead of a gun, but the truth
to this claim is questionable. He has
been charged with first degree murder
and is the first California officer to be
charged with murder in decades.
It's no secret that African-Ameri-
cans' sentiments about cops are often
negative. A 2007 report to the United
Nations titled "Persistent Police Bru-
tality and Abuse of People of Color in
the United States" documented the dis-
proportionate effect of racial profiling
and police brutality toward African-
Americans. A 1999 study by The New
York Times reported that 57 percent of
blacks said they did not feel safer in the
presence of a police officer, while 62
percent of whites said they did. There
is a reason that African-Americans
'get extra-fidgety at the site of a Chevy
Impala or blinking lights. The particu-
lar response of African-Americans to
police is more directly related to a long
history of racism and police brutality..
Anyone around of a television set
during Black History month may at
some point come across the images we
have seen so many times before: police
and their canines belligerently attack-
ing black men, women and children:
This footage largely comes from the
1960s - a time that was plagued with
salient racism and brutality against
blacks. In what is being heralded as the
"post-racial" era, it is easy to surrender
to historical amnesia,toviewracialtol-
erance as on the rise and to pronounce
our black president as the pinnacle of
the black civil rights struggle. But rac-
ism still exists today. And it seems that
racism's relationship with police bru-
tality has been relentless.
In 1991, four policemen used exces-
sive force against Rodney King and the
1992 Los Angeles riots ensued after the
police were acquitted. In 1999, in New
York City, Amadou Diallo was killed
after four policemen shot at him 41
times - all four were acquitted. On the

morning of Sean Bell's wedding day in
2006, the police shot and killed him in
Queens - they went to trial and were
found not guilty. In 2006, in an occa-
sion closer to home, Clifton Lee Jr.
was horrendously beaten by police in
Ypsilanti Township and then died. In
all cases, the victims were unarmed.
Questions of racism that lack obvious
answers persist.

Examining police
brutality in the
"post-racial" era.


This year's remarkable inaugura-
tion sharply contrasted Oscar Grant's
death. The American mass media has
celebrated civil rights progress in the
U.S. on account of Obama's presidency,
yet the Grant incident is comparative-
ly inconspicuous. Is this an accident?
Are we numbed by negative racial
issues to where news media no longer
finds police brutality interesting? Are
we worried that police brutality and
its consistent correlation with racism
will challenge the supposed "post-
racial" era?
Hopefully, this case will contradict
history and the officer will be con-
victed - this time, it's only one cop.
But his conviction does not ensure
proper racial sensitivity training, and
such training is crucial during a time
where racialized issues are considered
less prevalent. After all the progress
thus far, it would be a shame to brush
this one under the carpet just because
Obama is now president. We all want
to finally become part of the "post-
racial era", but ignoring racism's exis-
tence fails to accomplish this goal.
- Matthew Hunter can be
reached at majjam@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Matthew Shutler,
Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder

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