By: Deegan Mundy
I learned to shoot on my grandfather’s 410 shotgun.
My father would position me in front of a fence lined with Coke cans on our farm in Kentucky. When I look back at this image, it is a comfortable and familiar one. Afternoons spent with my father and my uncle on the farm. Now picture this: women making dinner, caring for children and drinking coffee outfitted with suicide belts and automatic rifles.
It is a very different image, and it is the one being portrayed to groups of Muslim women across the West as a means of recruiting these women to join radical Islamists in Iraq and Syria.
In the past few years, a trend has arisen that is just starting to be noticed. Using social media, online forums and even female recruiters, Islamist terrorist groups are painting this idealistic picture of terrorism to women across the West and convincing them to leave their homes in Austria, Britain, France, among other places, and voyage to the heart of battle.
I bring this up in response to an event that occurred over the weekend of October 18, where three teenage girls from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado took their passports from their homes, along with $2000, and began this very journey to join the Islamic State.
They were intercepted in Frankfurt, Germany by U.S. law enforcement but this occurrence got me thinking about how these young teenage girls, not much younger than the girls on my campus, could be convinced to leave their homes and do something as drastic as they attempted to do. Did they even realize what they were doing? Would they have actually gone through with it?
I guess we won’t find out the answer to either of those questions, but there are some questions that we can attempt to answer. What makes this specific group of people, Muslim women in places like Britain and France, so vulnerable to this sort of propaganda? Could it be the difficult struggle of Muslim alienation in the West? And how is it possible for recruiters to successfully construct these unrealistic images of woman fighting freely for a cause in Iraq or Syria?
I’m not sure, but I do know that having coffee with an automatic rifle casually slung across my shoulder does not sound like a great way to start my Sunday morning.
By: Deegan Mundy
For those of you who don’t know, Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean leader (or you might know him as the North Korean leader that spends his free time posing on horseback in propaganda type documentaries) reappeared this week after playing hide-and-seek for the past six weeks.
We can all wipe the sweat from our brows knowing that tonight; Kim Jong-Un is safe and sound. However, his reasoning for the disappearance, his health and the stability of the North Korean government are all in question. Due to a guarded government that expends most of its power trying to impede the flow of knowledge, the county lacks true journalistic freedom, which leaves the world looking for answers and wondering what is really going on underneath the impenetrable wall that the government has used to conceal its motives.
The facts are:
On Sept. 3 Mr. Kim was recorded as attending a concert. Despite the report, he was not necessarily seen there, and there were many rumors that the report may have been fake and that it was used to dispel rumors that Mr. Kim had lost control in a power struggle.
For nearly 6 weeks, there were absolutely no signs of Mr. Kim. Which is uncommon for a North Korean leader, or any leader. On the week of Oct.13, The Korean Central News Agency reported that Mr. Kim had visited a housing district in Pyongyang. He was spotted with a cane and a limp, indicating that rumors of his ill health may be true.
In addition, Mr. Kim failed to partake in various annual rituals such as visiting his father and grandfather in the mausoleum where they lie in state.
The disappearance of a world leader indicates change that could affect the rest of the world. Whether it is his health or a power struggle, the North Korean totalitarian government is unstable and armed with nuclear weapons, which means that Kim Jong-Un’s game of hide-and-seek could have some serious repercussions.
By: Kalyn Wilson
Have you ever looked at the girl next to you and asked yourself why her and not me? That salty sting of jealousy rested on your heart, whether it was traced with ill-will or not.
Ever battled this feeling with your own, close friend? It’s probably one of the most uncomfortable feelings, struggling to leave your negative feelings out of their positive picture.
I know someone - who may or may not be me - who has stared in the eyes of her best friends on numerous occasions with a torn heart. One part of this girl was warm with happiness for her friends, but the other part was weighed down with confusion, sadness and...jealousy.
One of the most interesting things about life is that we have different journeys, no matter how much we all “relate” to each other. Despite running separate races, we’ve managed to make it easier by running our races with others by our sides as support. The problem arises when the person next to us, who is often a best friend, sometimes “wins” a little sooner or more simply than we do.
The jealousy complex arises here: we’re elated that our friends conquered that feat in her journey, but we wonder why someone we’ve been running alongside happened to make it out before we did. It’s all a product of the the danger of comparison.
I’m not talking about envy, which does still arise in this predicament, just with some other connotations. I’m talking about the suspicion and resentment that comes with seeing another have what you want. And I’m most specifically talking about the guilt that comes when you feel this towards someone you care about.
How do you handle this? It begins with you.
First, look at the situation. Is she succeeding in a class you’re struggling in? Is she getting job offers while you’re fighting for an interview? Is she in a fairytale relationship while you struggle for a date? Pay attention to the underlying message that the issue is suggesting: you may be feeling inadequate or overlooked.
Next, work on reversing those truths and changing your thoughts. Just because it happened for someone doesn’t mean that it can’t happen for you. Like I said before, everyone’s different. There may be lessons you still need to learn, obstacles to overcome or changes that need to be made before your next goal can be reached. Also, instead of letting her success make you feel bad, let it encourage you. Seeing her succeed should serve as testimony, and maybe you can even learn from her how to get these things, too. Remember, it’s not a competition. There’s room for everybody at the top.
Lastly, don’t make it about you. If you were the one with the new job or great boyfriend, you’d want your friends to be happy for you. Even if you have to admit to your friend that it’s making you feel kind of jealous, do that. It’s better than holding it in and potentially taking it out on them in a bad way. Sometimes, we have to be selfless and supportive, which is easier if you change your thinking and remind yourself that your time is coming as well.
This is how last weekend, in the gentleness of the crisp autumn air, I managed to look into my friend’s eyes and said, “I’m so happy for you. You deserve this.” And it warmed my heart because I meant what I said.
After she smiled back at me, I thought to myself I deserve it too, and I’m going to get it one day. That granted me the peace I needed to be happy for my friend and rid myself of any jealousy.
Now, as I continue running by her and all my other friends’ sides, I am reminded not to compare where we are, because when she wins, it doesn’t mean I lost. If anything, her victory is mine, too. It’s about believing in your dreams strongly enough to put your feelings aside and be happy for your friend.
You never know, you could get carried away in relishing over your friend’s happiness when yours comes walking by - something that probably couldn’t happen if you were too busy hanging your head in jealousy.
By: Deegan Mundy
I didn’t realize that I had a big brother until I was 20.
With a cup of medium roast coffee in my hand, I found him in between the pages of the New York Times. It was 2013, and I’m talking about the government. I’m an only child, and have never had a sibling, nor have I ever taken the time to assess my opinions on mass surveillance and national security. Well, that is not until June 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked information from the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) I dove into an article that sent me into a mad quest for understanding just how much my so-called “big brother” knew.
To remind those of you that have forgotten, Snowden leaked information that shed light on the metadata being collected by the N.S.A. Although it was “just metadata,” further research later revealed that a lot of information about a person’s personal affairs can be discovered through the metadata on their phone, which in turn sparked a debate that remains prevalent: Where does the line between national security end and information privacy begin?
I’m drudging up the past because of the latest battle in the war between national security and information privacy, which began on Sept. 19, 2014 with the release of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 plus.
The “new and improved” iPhone not only bends so that its user can rest easy when sitting down with their iPhone in their back pockets, but it also encrypts all emails, photos, and contacts with a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code unique to its user that will inhibit the N.S.A.’s ability (as well as the ability of other law enforcement) to inspect the phone’s metadata.
The kicker is: Apple will not have possession of any of the codes. Therefore, when Apple is court-ordered to turn in one of their new secret, Snowden-coded iPhones, they will instead turn in, somewhat mocking I must imagine, a gibberish list of metadata that will be seemingly unbreakable.
Team information privacy -1, team national security – 0.
The angered F.B.I. and N.S.A. believe that this strategic move by Apple will ignite a domino effect amongst other companies. Of course, this leaves us with yet another question: Who decides what and how much information/data the government can have? Congress or private companies?
I for one am interested to find out. But for now, the battle ensues.
By: Deegan Mundy
Only a few weeks ago, I wrote an article “The End of The World?” discussing (somewhat satirically) the issue of Ebola and what this virus meant for those of us a world away, separated by the Atlantic Ocean from the real world Hollywood thriller happening on a completely different continent.
I rarely want to write too much about the same topic, but in this case I feel that it is necessary. As most already know, on Sept.30, Thomas Duncan of Liberia tested positive for Ebola. However this case is strikingly different because it is happening in Dallas, Texas.
At this point, the narrative changes. While on Sept. 25 I wrote that the issue was a world away, it is now on our soil, on our doorstep, and the problem has become real. No longer is it the backdrop an image in our minds of harsh heat in an African desert, it has become the city streets of our very own Dallas, Texas.
It is still unknown exactly how it all came to pass but what we do know is this:
On Sept. 19, Duncan was checked for symptoms and then boarded a commercial flight from Liberia. He was not yet showing symptoms, which means that passengers on the flight had a “zero percent chance” of contracting Ebola.
On Sept. 20, Duncan arrived in Dallas to meet his family.
On Sept. 24, Duncan began showing symptoms. However it was not until the next day, Sept. 25, that he sought medical care. He was sent home after his travel history information was not properly communicated to medical workers.
It was not until Sept. 28 that Duncan once again sought medical care and was placed in isolation.
And now we wait. Amongst rumors that Duncan lied on a screening test to depart Liberia, and anger towards medical workers in Texas for lack of communication, the only thing that can be done is trace Duncan’s footsteps and contain the contagion, that way we will end up with something a little less Hollywood and a little more subdued.
By: Deegan Mundy
With a few earsplitting thumps, rapid panning of the camera and various sounds that imply mechanical failure, Sandra Bullock is catapulted into the outer limits of space. Her weak screams are heard as she shrinks into the distance. And so begins Gravity, an American thriller that cost $100 million to produce.
On Sept. 24, 2014, India produced it’s own real-life version of Gravity, only it cost about $26 million less.
India became the first nation to ever successfully send a mission into Mars’ orbit on its first try and the first Asian nation to reach Mars at all. Those are a whole lot of firsts for India, who in addition, carried out this feat on an extremely low budget.
Out of 51 missions ever sent to Mars, only 21 have succeeded. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted this fact with pride. “The odds were stacked against us,” Modi said, “but we prevailed.”
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, entered Mars’ orbit on Wednesday, September 24. As said before, this gave India the title of “first” in many categories, but what the country seems most pleased with is the final price tag on their shiny new Mars Orbiter. In fact, they have a right to be. The entire mission cost only $74 million compared to the $100 million it took to produce a Hollywood film and the whopping $671 million it took to send the United States’ MAVEN spacecraft to the Red Planet.
Is it ironic that India’s real mission cost less than Hollywood’s fake one? Maybe, maybe not.
For India, it means well-deserved bragging rights. For Americans, maybe it means that the most expensive way isn’t always the best. However, Gravity did steal seven academy awards including Best Visual Effects and Best Director, so beat that MOM!
By: Kalyn Wilson
“I just don’t like talking about my feelings,” a friend told me as tears slowly started to roll down her face. “I always encourage others to tell me theirs, but I hate to talk about mine.”
Although I know this conversation all too well, I hesitated to embrace her. When she stated that truth - a truth I like to believe is a universal truth for most women and human beings in general - I immediately thought about the week I had just had: one in desperate need of support.
I didn’t need anyone to sit next to me while on a self-proclaimed death bed, but I did hate inching my way to the grocery store and carrying back pounds of groceries up grueling hills in the midday heat, stressing about how I looked and crying on my pillow in the midst of a midnight crisis. And I did most of this all alone. The catch is I didn’t have to.
I asked one of my friends to take me to the store, but I felt like I was bothering her, so I told her never mind. Times during the week when I really wanted a listening ear or another opinion, I just shook it off, stared in my mirror and put on the “my-own-best-friend” hat because I didn’t want to disturb anybody.
I didn’t want to ask for the help and support I needed because I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone else. It’s funny because whenever I’m in a position to help another, I pretty much take it. So why do I feel so guilty about asking for it?
Going back to this familiar conversation, all I could do was tell my friend not to be like me. All I could do was to be the friend to her that I pray my friends are to me: unbothered by and welcoming of her need for support and a listening ear.
My mother told me this great quote the other day: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go with others.” That speaks volumes. If this world was meant to be tackled alone, then things like friendships, relationships and communities would not exist. Often times, the difference between welcoming interdependent situations and unnecessarily tough independent ones is that we are too busy walking around trying to be “strong,” feeling like needing the help from another is taboo.
Maybe it’s harder for women to ask for help because of the fear of appearing weak and vulnerable to a world that sometimes denies our right to be whatever “feminine” is supposed to be (another argument for another day). Maybe it’s because there aren’t enough of us out there who let others know we are here for them. Maybe it’s a weird combination of both.
And I’m not talking about nights when your friend needs a ride to the North Pole, a hot meal and relationship advice. I’m talking moments like when my friend just wanted to be open and sad about her fears of the future, or when someone expresses how tired and stressed they are and you’re the one who convinces them to take it easy, or when you just talk on the phone with no other objective but to laugh. Sometimes, it’s about being there in the smallest way. And sometimes, all it takes is you asking for that small moment for you to get it.
So, let’s be better friends - to ourselves and to our friends. Let’s ask for support when we need it. Let’s give support when it’s needed. Let’s be the beginning of the end of the epidemic of stress and depression because we stepped up as women, for ourselves and for each other.