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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Monday Morning Quarterbacking

    The Wildcat comments on the weekend’s news

    So you think you can vote?

    Quick: Name the number of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, each amendment that addresses voting rights and the number of voting members in the House of Representatives. Stumped on any of the questions? You just flunked your citizenship exam – or, at least, you could have, before Citizenship and Immigration Service revised the test questions this year. After seven years and millions of dollars, it’s designed a better exam, boiling down the meaning of American life into 100 short-answer questions. The old test focused on precise figures and exact answers, meaning many students relied (not unlike many college students) on rote memorization. The new test focuses on the fundamental concepts behind the old questions – things like federalism, separation of powers and fundamental rights. It’s good that new citizens will have an introduction to the ideas that define American life – but it would be great if the rest of the U.S. had a grasp on them, too.

    Facebook’s prying eyes

    Shrewd web surfers stay aware of programs “”phoning home”” to remote servers with personal information. A healthy market has sprung up selling anti-spyware programs to prevent personal data from going public. Now, college students’ favorite online application is doing some espionage of its own. Whiz-bang social network Facebook recently rolled out a service called Beacon that posts data collected from outside Web sites to its infamous “”mini-feed.”” Certain Facebook features have been met with criticism over their creepiness in the past, but opposition to the company’s latest advertising experiment is taking on a life of its own. MoveOn, the liberal advocacy group best known for its provocative political ads, is organizing opposition to the new feature, which publishes information about things like movie rentals, online purchases and even time wasted playing games on the Web. As of yesterday, the Facebook group wryly formed to protest the feature had more than 18,000 members. That’s good, because this “”feature”” has the potential to be a personal privacy nightmare for college students everywhere.

    Engineering an end to Darfur

    As the death toll from genocide in Sudan’s western Darfur region continues to rise, Western nations have turned to China – Sudan’s second-largest trade partner – as the key to ending a humanitarian crisis that has already taken 200,000 lives. For months, the West pressured the hesitant Chinese to put diplomatic pressure on Sudan or furnish a peacekeeping force. Finally, the Chinese sent a contingent of 135 engineers, who arrived in Khartoum on Saturday. Already, the Sudanese want them out. Rebel groups – which have been known for raiding Chinese oilfields – accuse the Chinese government of interest in Sudan’s oil reserves before its people. Although rebel militias in Darfur are no humanitarians themselves, they have a point – ending conflict in Darfur will take more than a tiny contingent of Chinese engineers. It requires serious diplomatic pressure from the Chinese government – soon.

    Surveillance in your pocket

    You may not realize it, but you carry a tiny tracking device in your pocket everywhere you go. Sounds like the latest domestic-spying conspiracy theory – but the real explanation is right under your nose (or, at least, next to your ear). Most modern mobile phones contain GPS tracking chips that allow 911 operators to position callers in the event of an emergency. More and more, those chips are being used for other applications – like handy mapping software in the palm of your hand. But the tracking capabilities of cell phones are now routinely used by the federal government – and often, without the help of a worrisome warrant. According to the Washington Post, “”federal prosecutors are applying”” to track suspects “”based on a standard lower than probable cause”” – a troubling sign for the same organizations that can’t seem to keep their prying eyes out of the lives of individual citizens.

    OPINIONS BOARD: Editorials are determined by the Wildcat Opinions Board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler and Connor Mendenhall

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