Category Archives: Politics

A Lesson from Water: Polarization to Radicalization

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Water is ubiquitous and everywhere we look, even in the least expected places. In the desert or on Mars, we still find water.

Water is polarized. Its polarity stems from the fact that a water molecule carries both a partially positive and partially negative charge. Positivity and negativity, like yin and yang, result in its polarized nature. Its properties allows water to “shake hands” with the essential building blocks of life, like our genetic materials (DNA/RNA), proteins, and fats (lipids), thus sustaining life on earth. At important moments, it also willingly sacrifices itself for our metabolism.

However, at other times water molecules can become excited (charged), brandishing its long arms to grab one more negative charge, which turns itself into a radical. The water-derived radicals damage all building blocks of life, and are thus destructive to all life forms, producing effects ranging from the fishtail wrinkles to liver cirrhosis to cancer.

The radicalized transformation of the polarized water molecule exemplifies the violence in our society.

Polarization is the representation of two sides on the premise of a whole. Canada is a polarized country. We get rid of the Conservatives to elect the Liberals; we discuss the pros and cons of the legalization of marijuana and assisted suicide openly. On the passing of our former mayor, Rob Ford, we put aside of his distasteful past, and remember what he did well for the city of Toronto and her people. A polarized society is a sustainable society that balances the weights from both sides.

Radicalization differs from polarization by its gluttony. A person becomes a terrorist by gaining a bomb; a rancher become an armed militia when he put his own ends above the federal law; a presidential candidate arises from a narcissist offering to build a wall. Our body deals with free radicals in a two-pronged approach: on one hand, it eliminates them; on the other hand, if the cells became overwhelmed by radicals, the cells commit suicide. Either way, our body tries to get rid of the radicals and minimize the damage.

In regards to national and international security, we are trying to do the same to the violent terrorists; however, we are strained both ways. Currently, we are at a crossroad: on one side, we try to eliminate terrorism; on the other side, we try to prevent the heartless and amoral attacks. We cannot stop, because if we did, we would then lose both battles. Our inactivity shows our weakness and reluctance to collaborate, and that only means encouragement to the terrorists.

To root out the radicals, one needs to understand the root cause. Jealousy of our wealth, envy our democracy, or hate of the fact that we are happy and free are often touted as the reasons for terrorists attacks. However, such thinking only represents our ignorance of the past and arrogance to learn.

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Terrorists are created by no one but us, the West. Let’s use Taliban as an example. When the British realized that they could no longer sustain the Indian subcontinent, they drew lines on the map to separate the subcontinent based on religion: one country for the Muslims and one for the Hindus. For Muslims, there was the East and for West Pakistan, and later the East of Pakistan became Bangladesh. India was left for the Hindus. Since the separation, Pakistan and India have been fuming and fighting. The smaller state of Pakistan had no space to fall back on once India attacked, so they decided to butter up their backyard neighbours- Afghanistan. In the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, India supported Russia and thus Pakistan decided to work with US. Eventually, the Soviets pulled out from Afghanistan and Pakistan took over Afghanistan. This was the key moment in which Pakistan started to train local militias against their neighbour, groups which later became Taliban. A similar pattern is observed in almost all tumultuous places: Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, and Somalia. In every case, the West decided to destabilize a region for its own gains and created a void that could only be filled by something worse: radical terrorists.

When can we learn to keep our hands in our own pockets? I understand the urge to tell people how to be good, but this does not solve any problems. We need to let trapped people to find their own ways out. We should only assist from the outside. Our foreign policy is like a stud walking into a case of domestic violence. We beat up the husband and leave. Surely, he won’t torture his wife in for a while, but the violence will resume. It’s only when the wife wants to change that such violence can be quenched.

UTSU Spring Elections 2016

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As the semester comes to an end and elections season has been intense in all of the faculties and colleges, the election that affects all students at UTSG and UTM has now begun: the UTSU Spring Elections. For the next few days, students can exercise their right to vote for a UTSU that they feel will make a difference for them and cater to the needs that they want. As the Architecture, Landscape, and Design Director running on the slate HelloUofT, I wanted to talk a bit about my experience and why I think that it is extremely important to vote in these elections.

As a first year, I did not involve myself in and around campus simply because I did not think that I had neither the personality nor the courage to speak up about the lack of representation and involvement of my faculty. It was only after my friends invited me to join their group that I took the steps to put myself out there. Working with the slate has definitely been a lot different than just listening to them talk to me at a public place on campus. I have seen the raw, intense emotions of individuals who truly want to make UofT a place where the students feel included and engaged. I have seen a group comprised of seven executives and over fifteen directors instantaneously care for each other as soon as we all met. The experiences from our leaders inspires us to push harder and fight for the things we believe in, and I can honestly say that if these group of people can care immensely for people they’ve only just met, I am confident that they can put this love and strive into a UTSU that will not only listen to their students, but give back and give more reasons as to why UofT is such a fantastic school.

I encourage everyone to vote these next few days. Online voting is open until 6:30pm on the 24th at www.utsu.simplyvoting.com .

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Exercise your right to vote and get ready to say hello to a UofT that says hello back!

From Me to You: Be Skeptical of News Outlet Credibility

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Back in high school, our English classes gave particular attention to credibility: how to be a credible writer and how to find credible sources. I never really thought much of it. It’s a lesson, it’s homework, it’s an assignment. Once done, it’s over. I probably won’t look back on it again. But here I am, with the sudden ringing of my high school teacher’s voice telling me to be skeptical of what I hear, see, and read.

Friday night was when word on Paris being attacked was plastered all over news outlets and social media. I immediately felt sorrow for Paris, and even shared a couple of grieving photos and statuses myself. The next morning, Facebook installed that new “Paris Profile Picture” update. I didn’t do it. Not because I had anything against Paris, but because I forgot about the other countries in the world experiencing the same hardships that were in many ways worse than Paris. A couple days later, there were some posts on my newsfeed about #PrayForTheWorld. It included Japan and their earthquake, Beirut and their suicide bombings. But what about Syria? What about Palestine?

I’m not one to delve myself into politics and world issues, but the pressing matter is the credibility of our journalists and news outlets. We’re clearly missing half the story, maybe even three quarters of it. What about the rest of the world? And even if they do report on it, chances are, what they say is skewered. I’ve seen the comments and even the petitions going on in an attempt to stop Syrian refugees from coming to Canada. Why haven’t they reported a positive light on Syrian Refugees? Does the world truly believe Syria is full of terrorists? What about Palestine? What about Palestine?

Many people (I’ll narrow it down to North Americans for the time being) are unaware of the real situation in Palestine. That has to do with our search engines, with Google. When I tried to Google what was going on in Palestine, I got a whole load of propaganda videos. It took me awhile to actually find the real stuff, with big help to my very educated peers of course. But the entire Google fiasco made me think to myself, why is the truth hidden in a bed of lies? Google isn’t as free as we think it is (we actually had a discussion about this in ENG287). It’s an American company you should be skeptical of. Extremely skeptical of, if I may reiterate. Unless you try really hard, you won’t be able to find the credible sources you’re looking for. Below is a video Banksy filmed on the situation in Palestine:

It’s crazy if you think about it. Banksy’s creation and video of Dismaland was covered by a variety of news outlets and social medias, so why hasn’t this video received the views it should be?

When I was riding on the subway this morning, I felt a surge of fear. I wondered, “what if this subway blows up? what if this subway gets hijacked? I’m underground. I can’t send any text messages. No one will know what happened to me.” And it was at that precise moment that I realized, I was succumbing to the war on terror. I let the news instill a fear in me that I was going to die by the hands of a terrorist. How could I let the news do this to me?

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post now. All I can do is ask you to be skeptical for the right reasons. Read the news, but be skeptical. We only see, hear and read what they want us to see, hear and read. Use the intelligence and knowledge you were given to make the right conclusions. Don’t let others make a conclusion for you. Don’t be a follower of social trends.

Federal Election Sustainability Primer – Oct. 14

After 11 weeks of promises and accusations, where exactly to the federal parties stand on important issues like climate change, clean energy and the environment?

Join Jim Harris, former leader of the Green Party of Canada and the Hart House Debate Team on Oct. 14 at the Revival Bar for an insightful look at these important issues, including whether or not Canada should support a national carbon tax policy. Continue reading Federal Election Sustainability Primer – Oct. 14

Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Policy Recommendations to Repair Relations between Aboriginals and Canadian Government

Below is a summary of key policy recommendations made recently by the truth and Reconciliation Commission:

  • HEALTH: An acknowledgement that the current state of aboriginal health is a direct result of previous government policies and the implementation of health-care rights for aboriginal people.
  • EDUCATION: The creation and funding for new aboriginal education legislation, which protects languages and cultures and closes the education gap for aboriginal people.
  • JUSTICE: A commitment to eliminate the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in custody and in trouble with the law, along with the collection and publication of data on criminal victimization of aboriginal people.
  • PUBLIC INQUIRY: The creation of a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
  • MONITORING: The creation of a national council for reconciliation, which would monitor and report on reconciliation progress, as well as the introduction of an annual State of Aboriginal Peoples report delivered by the prime minister.
  • LANGUAGE: The government is asked to implement an Aboriginal Languages Act and appoint a language commissioner in order to preserve and promote it.
  • FUNDING: The report calls for $10 million over seven years from the federal government for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
  • COMMEMORATION: The creation of a statutory holiday to honour survivors, their families and communities – and to ensure “public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
  • MEMORIALS: The report asks for funding for memorials, community events and museums, including a museum reconciliation commemoration program, to be launched in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

With files from the CBC.

Your Need-To-Know for Students Voting in the Upcoming Election

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U of T students, did you know that you can vote on campus in the upcoming federal election regardless of your home address? No need to travel home to vote!

(First off, check if you are registered to vote. If not, find more information on registering here.)

As the Elections Canada website states,

  • Advanced polling offices will be open Monday, October 5 to Thursday, October 8.
  • Anyone can use these offices, even if they are temporarily away from their riding (for example, an eligible voter who has moved to a new city to attend university or a student from a different campus).
  • Voting will be by special ballot. Votes will count in the riding where the voter’s home address is located.

At the St. George Campus, here are your poll locations:

University of Toronto Graduate Student Union
Gym and Records Room
16 Bancroft Avenue
Toronto, ON  M5S 1C1
10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
University of Toronto University—Rosedale Returning Office
316 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON  M5S 1W5
10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.

To vote, you must provide identification showing your home address. Find the full list of accepted documentation here.

As for students living on residence:

  • You can prove your identity with your student ID card.
  • You can prove your address with any document issued by your school that shows your home address.
  • Ask the residence administrator for a Letter of Confirmation of Residence that says you live there. You can use it to prove your address.
  • Happy voting!