Thursday, November 14, 2013

20% Project Reflection

In Rogate, every year we complete a project known as our Passion Project, or our 20% Project. This year, rather than just do one, we are creating two passion projects for each half of the school year. Now is the halfway mark of our projects, mine being the inhuman treatment of orcas in captivity. This is a very hot topic now in today's news and social media, and I personally feel that it is a major issue to be analyzed and discussed. Currently, I have collected much information and research over the eight days that I have been working on this project. I have studied the opinions of many animal experts and scientists, and have read many articles. I have watched the new film that just recently came out: Blackfish, which is everything and more that my topic is about. More specifically I have gathered much data on the incident at SeaWorld in which an orca trainer was killed by the now- famous Tilikum.

My research and work so far has been going pretty smoothly, other than just a few obstacles. At first, I wasn't able to find many opinions of any experts online and it was difficult getting some fresh thoughts on the topic. However, when I watched Blackfish, there were a few firsthand opinions I was able to get from experts that spoke. It also was difficult deciding where I wanted to go with my project, and what I wanted to do with all of the information I was collecting and learning. It also took some time to decide which topics I really wanted to focus on and emphasize, and which ones were the most important to me. As I got further into my project, I soon sorted all of these thoughts out.

Now that I have all of my information, over the next eight days that we have to work on this project and some time at home too, I am going to work on putting together all of my research into a very interactive presentation. The next steps to finalizing my project will be:
- Come up with some interactive activities to incorporate into my project
- Create questions for the class that will require thought and will give me some opinions on what others think
- Possibly come up with some sort of debate for the class
- Finally, I will stay tuned for any current news that may occur on my topic!

I should be able to finish my project by mid - January if I work hard. If I don't happen to finish it in class, I will finish up anything else at home. I am really looking forward to this project and presenting it, and I am very excited about my topic!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Who Blew the Whistle?

At 11:30 am local time in Washington DC on October 26, 2013, the rally against mass surveillance began. At this time, over thousands of people marched the streets of the National Mall, protesting against the NSA's national surveillance programs. The NSA's Domestic Spying Program was first put into effect by President George W. Bush, weeks after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. There are several aspects of these programs, however the basic idea is that with the help of prime telecommunications carriers such as AT&T, the government has become involved in a massive illegal surveillance of the communication between millions of American citizens daily. This has been in action since 2001, as millions of domestic communication records (calls, emails, texts, etc.) have been intercepted and documented to then be analyzed by the US government. The database will be fully operational by September of 2013, when a massive data center is constructed in Utah, to store all of the records it has been collecting since the past decade. "Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases," Bamford wrote, "will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital 'pocket litter.'"  James Bamford national security author). Numerous Americans would not and will not stand for this.
The Stop Watching Us organization is made up of over 100 public advocacy groups, who started the "rally against mass surveillance". All of these groups came together to protest against the NSA's national surveillance programs, and to demand a complete investigation of these spying activities. About 575,000 signatures were collected on a petition, and sent to Representative Justin Amash. Along with the full investigation of the NSA's programs, the letter asked Congress members to repeal Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The letter also asked for whichever officials were responsible for this "unconstitutional surveillance", to face consequences for their actions.
Video made by the Stop Watching Us organization:
Quote from the petition: “First, we are asking for a congressional investigation so we can shed light on exactly what the National Security Agency is doing. Secondly, we ask for reform of federal surveillance law, specifically Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the state secrets privilege."

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