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February 10, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-10

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4A - Thursday, February 10, 2011

1 1The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C4e fJridhigan &Ut
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109





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Unsigned' editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solelythe views of their authors.
M oving (back) 1i0n
Bing's housing intiative can repopulate Detroit
ith its population dropping below 1 million, Detroit is
becoming less and less centralized. To help reverse this
trend and create a cohesive municipality, Detroit Mayor
Dave Bing introduced a plan last week that would encourage police
officers and other city employees to move within city limits. In order
to build better police community relations and to improve the con-
nection between public servants and the city where they work, Bing's
plans should proceed unhindered. If this program proves to be as suc-
cessful as Bing hopes, officials should use the Neighborhood Stabili-
zation Fund to invest in other housing projects that would encourage
more people to migrate to Detroit.


According to Detroit officials, more than
50 percent of Detroit police officers live out-
side the city's limits. Detroit is in possession of
an abundance of foreclosed and repossessed
real estate. The experimental program Bing
is introducing is an effort to simultaneously
address these two facets. In an attempt to bring
police officers back into the city, the proposal
will provide funds to renovate these derelict
homes which will then be sold to police offi-
cers for as little as $1,000. The funds for this
project are a part of the Neighborhood Stabili-
zation Fund from the federal government, and
no part of the program will be funded by tax
dollars, according to a Feb. 7 freep.com article.
While it's important to help families
already living in Detroit, putting money into
dilapidated, rundown homes isn't cost effec-
tive. Bing's plan will help improve the real
estate in the city twofold - it will improve
the houses and housing market through res-
toration and renovation, and it will fill empty
houses that are contributing no money in
property taxes. Filling empty houses with
police officers will decrease crime in Detroit
Until 1999, the state law stated that all city
employees had to be residents of Detroit. But a
law that mandates Detroit residency for public
service will deter people from working for the

city. Rather than reinstating a law similar to
the one that ended in 1999 and risking losing
city employees, Bing's plan will create posi-
tive incentives to get its employees back in the
city. This will help build community relations
between the city's government and the city's
residents, which will provide a more unified
The pilot program is only the first step in
the many necessary for Detroit's recovery.
Even though police officers are going to help
fill vacant houses and maintain a presence
within the city, there is still going to be a sig-
nificant lack of tenancies. In order to help
improve infrastructure and stave off foreclo-
sure, Detroit should consider formulating a
land bank similar to the Genesse County Land
Bank, which would also qualify for funding
from the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund.
A land bank could help intervene on behalf
of families facing economic hardships, and.
underwrite abandoned properties in order to
distribute them to responsible developers and
Detroit needs new innovations and ideas to
reinvigorate the city. There are many avenues
that Bing can take to improve Detroit, and fol-
lowing the success of this program, new infra-
structure and a land bank would be the logical
next step.

My older brother despises
the movie "Grandma's
Boy." He's a 27-year old
video game pro-
ducer in San
Francisco, Calif.
who works for
Electronic Arts.
whenever I tell
anyone about his
job the most com-
mon response is,
"Oh, you mean JEREMY
like in 'Grand- LEVY
ma's Boy'?" For
those of you who
are unfamiliar, "Grandma's Boy" is
the 2006 movie about an adult game
designer who lives in his grandma's
basement with his geeky design
team. The movie is pretty indicative
of what people tend to imagine when
they hear the phrase "video game."
But let's contrast that image with a
different one. This summer, my friend
Daniel developed a Facebook Scrabble
rivalry with my other friend's mother,
Mrs. Hanrahan. The two could play
each other with their iPhones over
the course of several days. This is the
same mother who used to tell us to
eat more fruit and go playoutside. But
now, Daniel could expect trash talk
whenever he walked into the Hanra-
han household.
The video game world is current-
ly going through big changes, and
whether you realize it or not, you've
probably already taken part. Sure,
there is still a large market for games
that attract Dungeons and Dragons
aficionados and fraternity guys, but
the industry is continually looking
to attract a wider audience. We can
see it in the rise of online games like
Bejewelled and Farmville, active
games on the Nintendo Wii and
novelties like Guitar Hero. Accord-
ing to Ph.D. and game designer Jane

McGonigal, 69 percent of all heads
of households play computer games
or video games and 40 percent of all
gamers are women.
Yet, the "Grandma's Boy" image
still persists, and what's more,
games - both those for casual and
intense users - are continually
viewed as a waste of time or a dis-
traction at best. In her new book,
"Reality is Broken," McGonigal
argues that common perceptions of
video games are flat-out wrong, cit-
ing research showing that gaming is
often very beneficial. She goes as far
as to say that games can offer peo-
ple many things that the real world
can't and that gaming's new mass
appeal shows how reality is broken.
Take what you will from someone
who has worked in the industry,
but McGonigal does provide lots of
useful information that challenges
common perceptions about the role.
of video games in society.
As evidenced in the anecdote.
above, games like iPhone Scrabble
are helping to shape relationships
by providing new forums for social
interaction (bear with me here).
As with Facebook, these interac-
tions obviously aren't a substitute
for the face-to-face interactions
people experience with those close
to them. But games likely forge new
relationships that would hardly be
commonplace in any other scenario
- like competition between a col-
lege student and his friend's mother.
As McGonigal puts it, "If you haven't
pwned your Mom, you're clearly
missing out."
Another useful piece of research
shows that people who play games
during work breaks are more
refreshed than those who participate
in activities that are less mentally
strenuous like watching Internet
videos. When faced with a challenge

in a video game, participants can see
the direct outcome of their actions,
which makes games more satisfy-
ing than real work in which one's
individual agency to effect outcomes
is more diffuse. This psychological
benefit has spillover effects - games
make real work more enjoyable. In
fact, McGonigal sites a study from
the University of Hamburg that
found "70 percent of (high-level
executives) regularly play casual
computer games while working."
Video games are
much more than
a societal blight.
In a column at.. the beginning
of the school year, I argued that
socially conservative critiques of
technological change are frequently
reactionary. If you listen to people's
arguments against Facebook or
BBM, they point out things that are
different from the past more often
than things that are clearly negative
for society. I believe video games
serve as the ultimate example of this
But the research is real and robust
- games are much more than a
drain on our societal well-being, and
more people play them than ever
before. While there are drawbacks
to mass game consumption, the ben-
efits are too often overlooked. Games
aren't just for the realm of low-life
grandma's boys, and you could save
yourself some stress if you stopped
thinking about them as such.
-Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremlev@umich.edu.



Aida Ali, Will Butler, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Melanie Kruvelis, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner


Ronald Reagan isn't worthy
ofpraise on his birthday

Franz and Pap
their readers that
African apartheid
1985, after thous
infected and died.

TO THE DAILY: Reagan who arm
I wish sometimes that I could move to the Laden during the
fantasy world that conservatives like Busi- 10-year invasion is
ness School Senior Alexander Franz and LSA I'm sorry, but in
Senior Jonathan Pape inhabit. (The real Rea- dent isn't worthy o
'gan, 2/6/2011). In the conservative utopia, tax his birth. Reagan's
cuts pay for themselves and former President against the poor,s
Ronald Reagan is the next best thing to Jesus. murderers abroad
However, human beings don't inhabit the con- been consistentlyI
servative Never-Neverland. We live in reality.
The Right's obsession with Reagan has cre- Jared Goldberg
ated this mythic figure that never existed. The University alum
information either glossed over or ignored by
Franz and Pape is quite revealing of the con- U o
servative mindset. Reagan was the most over-
rated president in the history of our republic,
to put it kindly, and was a prolific war crimi- suggestionS
nal, to put it more accurately.
The People's Park protests in 1969 at Uni- TO THE DAILY
versity of California, Berkley were not made In reference to
violent, as Pape and Franz imply, by the stu- for disabled stu
dents and other protestors. They were made campus travel diff
violent by Reagan's ordering of California and the follow-up
Highway Patrol officers and the California disabled after sto
National Guard to suppress them in an event share your frustra
known as "Bloody Thursday." Hardly some- individuals, in pa
thing to take pride in. cal challenges, to
His massive tax cuts, which benefitted the clogged crosswalk
wealthy predominantly, exploded the deficit the winter season
and tripled the debt to nearly $3 trillion by the The University
time he left office. Those beloved tax cuts may Disability Concer
have been a boon to the wealthy, but inequality unteer organizati
grew astronomically. Unemployment in 1981 to everyone - is
grew to 10.8 percent. we can improve
Reagan didn't return the United States to campus communi
prominence. He helped the wealthy at the numbers on our
expense of the poor and working classes. and instructions f
While Iran-Contra was a passing footnote for problems: http://v
Franz and Pape, I will call it for what it was: report.html.
an unconstitutional power grab. Congress We also welcos
wouldn't allow Reagan, through the Boland tions that pertain
Amendment, to directly aid the Nicaraguan can be submitted,
Contras, paramilitary groups that engaged We very much car
in massive human rights abuses. So, in order ity for everyone o
to get around that whole pesky separation of and one of the chis
powers thing, he illegally sold weapons to Iran
and used the money to support groups that Anna Ercoli Schn
routinely kidnapped, tortured, executed and Disability IssuesI
raped civilians. Sciences Library

e also neglected to inform
their hero supported South
d. He ignored AIDS until
ands had already become
. Let's not forget that it was
ed and trained Osama Bin
Soviet Union's disastrous
nto Afghanistan.
the real world, such a presi-
of such praise 100years after
legacy will be class warfare
support of racists and mass
and an ideology that has
proven wrong.
is alert to snow
and improvemets
the article on snow travel
dents (Snowstorms make
scult for disabled, 2/4/2011)
letter (The 'U'failed to help
orm, 2/8/2011), we totally
ation with the difficulty for
rticular those with physi-
maneuver over the snow-
ks and street corners during
of Michigan Council for
rns - an all-campus vol-
on with membership open
always alert to ways that
accessibility for our entire
ity. We have listed central
website for emergencies
for lodging complaints and
me non-emergency sugges-
to disability issues. These
online on the same website.
e about creating accessibil-
n campus. It is our priority
ef reasons for our existence.
Librarian, Taubman Health

Let WikiLeaks peak

The first time I heard of WikiLeaks was back in
December 2010 when news broke out that the organiza-
tion leaked United States diplomatic cables to the public.
My first reaction was alarm: What a breach of national
security! Who's behind this? Isn't this espionage? Those
responsible must be punished!
But as I obsessively followed the news on WikiLeaks,
my mind changed.
First, it hasn't broken any laws so it hasn't commit-
ted espionage - many will argue that WikiLeaks is, by
legal definition, a journalistic organization whose rights
to publish state secrets are protected by the rulings from
New York Times v. United States.
Second, they haven't "dumped" 251,287 cables. They
partnered with five media organizations including the
New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, l Pais, and
Der Spiegel, which selected which cables to publish.
Those publications then redacted the cables as necessary
and sent them back for WikiLeaks to publish. Therefore,
only about 3,000 of the 250,000 documents have been
published so far and no grave national security concerns
have been raised.
Third, WikiLeaks revealed serious issues in U.S.
Perhaps those who closely follow international history
and news already knew most of what's detailed in the
cables, but the public - the people who are supposed to
monitor government activity'- weren't aware. Does the
public know that the U.S. State Department ordered its
diplomats to collect credit card numbers, passwords, fin-
gerprints and even DNA from the United Nations leader-
ship? That oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into
key positions in the Nigerian government? That the U.S.
partnered with China to make sure that little gets accom-
plished at Copenhagen? That U.S. tax dollars have been
used to fund child sex slavery in Afghanistan?
The cables also revealed many actions done in the
name of "national security." One example concerns Tuni-
sia. Those paying attention to international news know'
that Tunisia recently had a massive uprising that resulted
in its president of 24 years fleeing the country. The dip-
lomatic cables show that the State Department knew of
the Tunisian president's corrupt acts as early as 2006,
but because of Tunisia's support for the War on Ter-
ror the government did little to address the concerns of

oppressed citizens. This resulted in anti-American sen-
timents among Tunisians, who thought their resistance
would be futile since the U.S. would aid President of the
Tunisian Republic Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to the end.
Similar events occurred in Egypt. Egypt President
Hosni Mubarak has held his post for 30 years and is
widely known for his cruel rule. But because of his sup-
port for the War on Terror, the U.S. viewed that it could
do little to advance real democracy in Egypt. In the end,
this behavior has fostered anti-American sentiments
among Egyptians who see U.S. support for Mubarak. The
billions of dollars in foreign aid spent in buying U.S. cor-
porations' military equipment don't help either.
The pattern is clear: counter-terrorism efforts are rais-
ing anti-American sentiments.
Tom Malinowski, Washington Director for Human
Rights Watch and an expert in U.S. foreign policy,
writes on foreignpolicy.com that WikiLeaks "did more
for Arab democracy than decades of backstage U.S.
diplomacy." He also mentions that cynicism runs ram-
pant in the State Department. His diplomatic friends
often say something along the lines of, "Sure, our dip-
lomatic engagement with country X won't make human
rights better, but neither will sanctions or public criti-
cism or anything else."
This cynicism isn't only unnecessary, but harmful.
The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings against their
oppressive governments show that those people want
real democracy, and any effort to stymie it, no matter
how well intentioned, may ultimately harm U.S. inter-
ests in the long term.
The revelations show that many actions are taken in
the name of the United Stateswithout its citizens' knowl-
edge of exactly what the actions entail. Do we want to let
the world think that we don't support democracy? That
we would support dictators and let millions of people suf-
fer, all in the name of U.S. national security?
Perhaps Benjamin Franklin was right when he said,
"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves nei-
ther." This judgment is up to the people to decide - all
the raw material is available on the Internet. The truth is
the best disinfectant, and I'm only thankful to WikiLeaks
for its commitment to it.
Lucy Han is an LSA senior.




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