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December 12, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-12-12

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4A- Monday, December 12, 2011

The Michigan Daily -michigandaily.com

4A MoaD e r 20T haDy mha ilycm i

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 of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
A tough pill to swallow
Plan B should be an option for women of all ages
Last Monday, the United States Department of Health and
Human Services publicly overruled the Food and Drug
Administration for the first time in history. The FDA found
Plan B One-Step to be suitable for women of all ages to purchase over
the counter. Currently a woman must be 17 or older to buy the pill
without a prescription. HHS disagreed with the FDA's ruling and is
refusing to allow women under age 17 to purchase the emergency
contraceptive without a prescription. Though HHS can legally over-
rule the FDA, HHS overstepped its bounds in doing so, and it should
respect the FDA's decision.



Oh man that's What will you be thinking of
anwrong the night before Christmas?
Please let me get
an A on my Calculus ffinal
A non-objective press


Plan B is an oral contraceptive that can be
taken after sex. According to the FDA, the
contraceptive is capable of reducing the risk
of unplanned pregnancy by more than 50
percent. Plan B purchasing procedures have
been debated for years. In 2006, there was a
push to make the contraceptive only avail-
able with a prescription. The Bush adminis-
tration eventually compromised and allowed
18 year olds to purchase the drug over the
counter. The law was eventually amended to
include 17 year olds in 2009.
According to a report by FDA commission-
er Margaret Hamburg, the FDA has "deter-
mined that the product was safe and effective
in adolescent females." If the FDA found that
Plan B is safe for young women, HHS should
support that finding. The FDA's purpose is
to research pharmaceuticals and protect
citizens from drugs it deems unsafe. Because
it's the FDA's job to investigate drugs, HHS
should trust the FDA when it says Plan B is
safe for all women.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over-
turned the FDA's ruling due to the possible
side effects if a young woman were to take
Plan B improperly. However, there are many

other over-the-counter drugs with long lists
of possible side effects that are sold with-
out any debate. Consumers should be aware
of the possible side effects of a drug before
taking it, and the pharmaceutical companies
need to make sure this information is readily
available. But Plan B should not be prevent-
ed from being sold over the counter solely
because of possible side effects, especially
when many other drugs with adverse side
effects are already available for purchase.
The FDA has established a strong societal
trust. Since its formation in 1906, the FDA
has objectively performed countless scientific
studies to determine the safety of medicine.
The HHS should continue its legacy ofsupport-
ing the FDA and not allow any politics regard-
ing contraception to refute scientific data.
While HHS may not support sexual rela-
tionships for 17-year-old women, itcannot ban
them from doing so or ban medicine thathelps
to prevent unexpected pregnancies when con-
traceptives aren'tused or don't work properly.
HHS needs to understand the importance of
accessible contraceptives, and the FDA's rul-
ing should stand so all young women can pur-
chase Plan B without a prescription.

n eulogizing - andI use that
word as loosely as possible -
the death of President Rich-
ard Nixon in
1994, Hunter
S. Thompson
"He was scum.
Let there be no
mistake in the '
history books
about that. Rich- NEILL
ard Nixon was
an evil man - MOISAMMAD
evil in a way
that only those
who believe in the physical reality of
the Devil can understand it ... Some
people will say that words like scum
and rotten are wrong for objective
Journalism - which is true, but they
miss the point.It was the built-in blind
spots ofthe objective rules and dogma
that allowed Nixon to slither into the
White House in the first place ... You
had to get Subjective to see Nixon
clearly, and the shock of recognition
was often painful."
Many of the problems facing
American journalism are structur-
al. The emergence of 24-hour cable
news channels and the explosion in
online publishing have eroded news-
papers' traditional authority over
"hard news." People are consum-
ing more news than ever before but,
because news is more plentiful than
it ever has been in the past, they are
also less willing to pay for it. The
consequence is that there are more
arenas in which to publish journal-
ism than ever before, even while
making money doing so has become
incredibly difficult.
But the most important prob-
lems facing American journalism
are self-inflicted. Consider the
notion of an "objective media." In
most senses of the word, objectiv-
ity refers to a lack of bias, meaning

that journalists ought to report the
"facts of the case" as closely and
as accurately as they can. In most
cases, however, that's simply not a
practical requirement. Mostreport-
ers have to cover such a breadth of
topics that they cannot be expected
to have expertise in each and every
one of them, and they may not be
able to discern what the true "facts
of the case" actually are. With that
in mind, journalists usually rely on
a second, weaker sort of objectiv-
ity: simply reporting every point of
view they can find on every issue.
These are not the same thing. A
few weeks ago, Republican presi-
dential candidate Mitt Romney's
campaign aired a television ad in
New Hampshire that included video
footage of President Barack Obama,
who claimed that, "If we keep talk-
ing about the economy, we're going
to lose." But that ad was a clear, if
particularly audacious, lie-by-omis-
sion. The full, un-edited clip that
the Romney campaign used showed
Obama quoting a campaign advis-
er to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.),
whose grim assessment of McCain's
chances in 2008 had been leaked to
the New York Daily News. Romney's
advisors released a statement to the
press conceding thatthe ad was mis-
leading, but that disclaimer was not
included in the ad itself, and thus,
presumably, most of the ad's New
Hampshire audience would have
taken it as a legitimate criticism of
the administration. 1
With a truly objective press, the
fallout from this flap would have
been straightforward. Romney's
ad, even by the standards of politi-
cal advertisements, was a lie. The
objective press would have called it
a lie, and Romney's campaign would
have suffered whatever backlash
voters thought was appropriate. But
we don't have an objective press. We

have a sort of objective press, which
meant that reporters writing about
this story had to outsource criticism
to other sources. To wit, no report-
ers writing about the Romney ad
said that Romney's campaign had
lied; they wrote that some Democrats
claimed that the Romney campaign
had lied. The distinction is subtle
but powerful and reduces the lie in
Romney's ad to a difference in opin-
ion between political parties rather
than an objective reality.
Problems with
U.S. journalism
are self-inflicted.
The brilliance of Hunter S.
Thompson's political journalism
was that his subjective, intensely
emotional writing frequently got
much closer to important truths
than any of his objective counter-
parts in the traditional media. At the
end of a year that has seen Repub-
lican presidential candidate Newt
Gingrich claim the mantle of social
conservatism among Iowa Republi-
cans (Gingrich's first wife, of three,
was his high school geometryteach-
er; he divorced her while she was in
the hospital fighting uterine cancer)
and Michigan's Democrat Sen. Carl
Levin sponsor a bill that will give
the White House the authority to
put any American citizen it wants
into indefinite military detention
without trial, that's a lesson worth
remembering. Sometimes scum
is scum, as painful as it may be to
admit it.


Aida Ali, Kaan Avdan, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
Aim of artificial intelligence

-Neill Mohammad can be
reached at neilla@umich.edu.

It's time to talk about Palestine

Robots are not taking over any time soon,
enough with that.
The humanoid robot industry, which aims
to build robots that can interact with humans
and use made-for-human tools, is rapidly
growing. It is astonishing and perplexing
that developing humanoid robots can change
how we see ourselves and the world.
Recent developments in artificial intel-
ligence and robotics include robots that can
play table tennis and violin, bring and serve
drinks, run as fast as nine kilometers per
hour and interact with humans by speech.
The way robots are increasingly becoming
human looks promising. So the first ques-
tion is: How human can they get? The goal of
artificial intelligence also brings up various
philosophical and ethical questions.
Initial questions in this field include: What
makes us human? Or, if robots have intelli-
gence rivaling man's sapience, what makes
them less human? If - or when - artificial
intelligence is achieved, will robots be able to
have a conscience? Will they feel? We are sci-
entifically called "homo sapiens" - knowing
man - and there are recent theses that pro-
pose we have become "homo empathicus" -
empathizing man. Our uniqueness is derived
from gaining and advancing knowledge, hav-
ing feelings and being able to empathize with
fellow humans. If science grants robots the
same abilities we have, in what way are the
robots to be discriminated?
For the sake of the argument, consider
that man was created in the image of God.
In the same parallel, scientists build robots
in the image of humans. They want robots
to be bipedal, have human gestures, be able
to integrate into a human environment and,
most importantly, have a mind similar to
While I do not want to offend anyone, this
logic leads to the question: What was God's
initial need to create humans? What's more,
should we become masters and expect robots
to be our perpetual servants? Even though
robots are of our own making, how can we
deny equality to an entity thathas a mind, feel-
ings and a sense of self-determination?

At this point, scientists are working on
humanoid robot technologies for the sake of
science and they are reaching cornerstone
advancements in a quicker fashion than they
should be. The utmost goal is artificial intelli-
gence. However, critical existential questions
are overlooked. What will be the social role
of robots? How will robots be defined in the
social sphere? With task-completing mecha-
nisms and instant Internet usage that would
make them as knowledgeable as one can get,
will robots not question man's superiority?
In addition, homo sapiens will have an iden-
tity crisis since the sacred definition of our
uniqueness would be matched.
Of course, all these questions are based on
ideas that are mere elements of fiction today.
I find questions about how we see our con-
nection and relation to God, how we give our-
selves a role in the world and how we can raise
the bar of being a human very constructive.
It is also important to note that techno-
logical advancements come with setbacks
like spending too much time in front of the
TV or becoming addicted to computer games.
These problems are addressed by the gov-
ernment, but lawmakers came up with solu-
tions to problems after these problems had
already caused serious damage to individuals.
Humanoid robot technology is still in its early
days, and we have the chance to take preemp-
tive measures. However, this should never be
done in a way that would curb or limit scien-
tific curiosity. Rather, the philosophical and
ethical dilemmas that artificial intelligence
brings should be debated more frequently.
Throughout history, science led us to rede-
fine humanity in a better and more compre-
hensive way. The integration of humanoid
robots into social life will surely be a part of
this perpetual redefinition. This is unique in
the way that humans are developing some-
thing that is similar to us and something that
has the potential to challenge the notion of
being a human. Hence, developing robots will
be essential in answering the question of what
it is to be human.
Kaan Avdan is an LSA freshman

Over the pastcouple ofyears,therehas beenincreased
curiosity and speculation about SAFE - Students Allied
for Freedom & Equality - and what it stands for. Simply
put, SAFE is a diverse group of student activists at the
University organized to promote justice, human rights,
liberation and self-determination for the Palestinian
people, as well as other oppressed people. We are com-
mitted to standing with the disenfranchised and are
staunchly against the sugarcoating of oppression. Fur-
thermore, we don't approve of allowing representatives
of a government that is currently using their military to
occupy another nation and imposing an apartheid sys-
tem on people whom it claims as citizens to come speak
on our campus.
When Ishmael Khaldi, a top adviser to Israeli For-
eign Minister Avigdor Lieberman came to campus,
many student activists were offended by the fact that
the University, which prides itself on social justice,
openly provided a platform for Khaldi to speak. Lieber-
man, Khaldi's boss, has blatantly employed his racism
on more than one occasion, and according to the Israeli
newspaper Haaretz, Lieberman said that Palestin-
ian prisoners should be drowned in the Dead Sea, and
he would provide the buses to take them there. In an
interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Lieberman said
Arabs and Jews must be separated in order to achieve
peace in the Middle East. "Israel's 1.25 million Arab
minority was a 'problem' which required 'separation'
from the Jewish state," according to an article in The
Sunday Telegraph. Interestingly enough, Lieberman
believes, in his own words, that minorities are "the
world's biggest problem," despite being a minority him-
self. In his speech on campus, Khaldi spoke about Arabs
in Israel and the greatprivileges they enjoy, yet the peo-
ple who Khaldi claims to represent (Arab Bedouins) are
being expelled from their land. Khaldi seems to travel
as a mouthpiece for Lieberman, and his fallacious and
racist remarks are all reasons why we walked out of his
speaking engagement in protest.
When we used a similar protest method against two
Israeli soldiers who visited campus last year, we were
faced with criticism for not "dialoguing." This call
for dialogue is inappropriate in a situation where the
power disparity between parties is so immense. Dia-
logue can only work when two parties are on the same
playing field and have significant differences between
them. In the case of Israel-Palestine, we have one party,
Israel, that boasts the Middle East's most powerful
military and enjoys a lot of material and diplomatic

support from the world's lone superpower, the United
States. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are state-
less and without basic human rights. They are also vic-
tims of the worst of crimes. They've had their history
and existence denied by those who continuously assert
that Palestine was "a land without a people for a people
without a land." Though Palestinians have received
overwhelming recognition internationally, Israel and
the United States have yet to recognize the Palestinian
struggle, much less push for their right to self-determi-
nation and freedom from a brutal occupation.
Our mission statement emphasizes that we are a
student organization contributing to the campus com-
munity as social justice advocates. Nowhere within
our mission statement will you find that we are anti-
Semitic or anti-Jewish. We, as an organization, don't
endorse or ally ourselves with any political platform,
organization or politician. We don't advocate for a one-
state, two-state or no-state solution. We don't support
the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, Fatah or
any such entity. We simply believe in the self-determi-
nation of the Palestinian people.
In October, 30 SAFE members attended the first
national Students for Justice in Palestine conference
at Columbia University. The conference was endorsed
by many national activists, including Ali Abunimah,
Noam Chomsky and Cornel West. Members from the
more than 140 schools represented voted on points of
Students for Justice in Palestine is a student orga-
nization that works in solidarity with the Palestinian
people and supports their right to self-determination.
It is committed to:
1. Ending Israel's occupation and colonization of all
Arab lands and dismantlingthe Wall.
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-
Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of
Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and prop-
erties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
We believe it's time to bring Palestine to the forefront
of our conversations at the University. Next semester,
we will be launching our PalestiMe campaign - acam-
paign meant to bring Palestine to the forefront of the
campus community by spreading awareness on various
facets of the situation - as it is time for Palestine.

Noor Haydar is an LSA senior
Bayan Founas is an LSA sophomore

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