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in Spring m i 2011
SPRING 2011 1
CITIZEN SCIENCE EGYPT AND ITS RAMIFICATIONS FOR IRAN A SMALL VICTORY FOR BAHRAIN PAKISTAN’S WAR ON TERROR
CITIZEN SCIENCE A
sense of blissful satisfaction is a key feature of the perfect procrastination tool. The search for the perfect anxiety-ridding, denial-promoting, mood-boosting activity can itself be the method of choice for procrastinating. While the search rarely provides relief from the omnipresent research paper or midterm, it does achieve the task of wasting time on anything but the required task. Many of us choose to procrastinate with a familiar movie, video game or Chinese take-out in an attempt to feel fulfilled while avoiding responsibility. Unfortunately, the pleasant halo dissipates quickly, and the all-too-familiar sense of doom creeps in. For the first time, during the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I was able to stave off the chilling realization that I was entirely unprepared for a deadline that was ominously close. I was cramming for the Biology GRE, and my mom had the brilliant idea to combine my favorite pastime with my daunting chore: she bought me a Biology coloring book. “Color the positively charged amino acids green,” it demanded, and I obliged. Admittedly, it didn’t offer all of the knowledge needed for a graduate level molecular biology entrance exam, but it did leave me feeling blissfully fulfilled and relaxed. We may not all have scientifically-oriented mothers, or even like coloring books, but there are a slew of interactive online activities that offer the forgetful entertainment of TV combined with the satisfaction of being productive that might actually get you in the mood to do work! These online games rely on the critical thinking skills of volunteers (such as procrastinating college students) to solve answers that continue to evade scientists and remain too time-consuming or challenging for computers. For example, FoldIt, a game created by researchers and graduate students at the University of Washington, allows players to determine the most likely structure of proteins by providing various rules and guidelines of protein dynamics in an accessible and engaging way. Players pull and prod snake-like amino acid chains and “wiggle” and “shake” side groups while accruing points to gain new tools and move on to more challenging puzzles. Participants, termed citizen scientists, have helped resolve hundreds of protein structures that would have taken computers
04 06 07 08
TIME FOR TEA
sally fry editor-in-chief erin becker david gilmore saurav sethia
stewart boss, carey hanlin, jordan heide, troy homesley, santo jiang, zak mathews, luda shtessel, brandon wiggins kara williams staff writers sally fry, carey hanlin, cassie mcmillan, sofia morales, tyler tran design staff anne brenneman
caitlin graham, tyler tran
On the cover: “Red” by Anwuli Chukwurah
thousands of hours to decipher. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed, leading to a publication in Nature, where “FoldIt players” are the last authors listed -- a signifier of most important. The creators of FoldIt have recently introduced EteRNA, a game that directs users to create RNA molecules -- the precursors to proteins. Going a step further, researchers at Stanford University will attempt to create some of these player-generated molecules in the lab to study their biological properties. Similarly, Phylo, designed by researchers at McGill University, prompts players to find the best alignment between DNA sequences, which are represented by colorful blocks held together on a string. Finding similarities between gene sequences of different organisms may help researchers answer questions regarding the genes’ functions. If biology isn’t your thing, Galaxy Zoo offers players a terrestrial escape. Users inspect thousands of galaxy images with the objective to categorize them based on various properties, including shape, color, hue and spiral direction. Computers lack the complex visual analysis that comes easily to most people. The Voorwerp, an odd blue blip identified in an image taken by a Dutch observer, would have likely gone unnoticed by a computer. As the website explains, “looking at an image and asking ‘what’s that odd thing?’ remains uniquely human.” If you are worried about the inferior abilities of computers to perform human tasks, Games With a Purpose offers gamers a chance to improve the way computers catalog the numerous stimuli people encounter. With the aid of an online partner, users can play a multitude of games that entail describing various images (similar to Google’s image labeler), songs and videos with the goal of improving a computer’s capability to do this accurately. IBM’s Watson may be the only computer that understands the nuances of human language, but with the help of volunteers, Watson might get some competition soon. The fun, bubbly graphics and a cooperative atmosphere that pervade these websites provide relief from the late-night mundane and unproductive Internet surfing that inevitably ensues at an impending deadline. Perhaps providing insight into the work of others may inspire you to further your own goals. •
BY LUDA SHTESSEL
02 SPRING 2011
SPRING 2011 03
EGYPT and the RAMIFICATIONS for IRAN
BY TROY HOMESLEY
t's the question everyone is asking -- who will be next after Egypt's momentous revolution? Some point to Algeria or Morocco while others point to less likely countries such as Iran and China. Whatever your opinion, it is clear that Iran has become a hotbed for protests, and the story told by Egyptian revolutionaries carries deep meaning for the future of such protests and for America's involvement in these revolutions. In the summer of 2009, Iranian revolutionaries from hundreds of different backgrounds, religions and beliefs took to the streets in the name of liberty. They were not Muslims, they were not extremists, they were not violent, they were not just Sunnis or just Shiites. Instead they were people united under the cause of freedom. These revolutions were quelled by violent retaliations from the "Basij," the paramilitary group commanded by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. However, the impact of the revolutions is still felt today within Iran and around the globe. The Iranian uprisings of 2009 were important because they clarified something for Americans and the world. Because of an organized uprising, it became clear that the Iranian government does not necessarily depict the Iranian people. This representation had ramifications throughout the Middle East. Countries could now be seen through two lenses: the lens of the government that controls those countries and the lens of those who rebel and disagree with those overarching governments. Today, we see a free Egypt, with effects spreading to Bahrain, to Syria, to Algeria, to
Morocco and possibly even to Iran. It is even clearer that the governments of the Middle East do not depict the people they control. Rather, they are extreme, oppressive and powerful. They are also commonly in power because we put them there, as was the case with President Mubarak. There are important lessons that can be learned from this quick and largely non-violent exchange of power and can be applied to almost any nation. The power of non-violence revealed a Middle East much different from that depicted in the media. Egyptians, Muslims and Christians alike gathered to protest human rights abuses and restrictions on liberty. Through all of this, the revolution was largely bloodless. This contradicts Western views of extremist Islamism and violent Muslim attacks, showing that there is much more to the Middle Eastern people than bombs and violence. The Egyptian revolution showed, as did the Iranian uprisings, that the power of Twitter, Facebook and mobile phones is an irreplaceable epicenter of revolution. These new tools have facilitated open discussion, communication and preparation for massive protests and have been able to improve solidarity. Future revolutionaries can put these tools to use, videotaping violence by the government, recording violent language, planning massive rallies and preaching that non-violence through mass communication. These things are allowing new opportunities for revolution in areas like Iran. The revolution in Egypt shows just how powerful non-violent protests can be, but it better represents just how powerful American action
can be in these protests. The American government walked the line between extreme intervention and outright ignorance of the revolution and because of it was able to facilitate a peaceful and quick exchange of power. However, the U.S. government still has some learning to do. In the Iranian uprisings of 2009, the U.S. failed to take a strong and clear stance on their support of these revolutions. This was caused by a combination of factors including the U.S. support for Israel and the false belief that Iranian uprisings were a fundamentalist Islamic grassroots movement. With Egypt, America was in the end willing to speak out as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did on several occasions. Eventually, after Mubarak's fall, even President Obama clarified his support for the power of the people. Ironically, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even hailed Egypt's revolution and the prospect of a "new Middle East." Thus, it is important that American and other world leaders make clear that they support the power of the people and the action of peaceful revolution. However, I also find it important to give people the dignity of their own struggles, as this allows for a growth and understanding of just what freedom means. An Iranian revolution would not only be a momentous step for Iranians, but for Americans as well. Iran is one of the most economically and socially advanced nations in the Middle East, with one of the best education systems to bolster its growth. Iran could become a true light in the Middle East and provide an opportunity for the growth of human rights and liberty in the region.
The signs of a possible revolution in Iran are slowly beginning to show as the success in Egypt emanates outward. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Tehran in the week following the fall of Mubarak. Uploaded YouTube videos reveal protesters burning posters of Ayatollah Khomanei, chanting for freedom and eventually being chased by police clad in riot gear. Unfortunately, in the words of UNC International Politics Professor Mark J.C. Crescenzi, "Governments adapt quickly to revolution." The Iranian government adapted quickly by limiting visas for foreign journalists, blocking accredited journalists in the country from reporting and slowing the Internet to a crawl. The Iranian government is now calling for the capture and execution of previous Presidential candidates Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi. Lawmakers were seen chanting, "Moussavi, Karrubi ... execute them" on the state-run Press TV. The Iranian government has cracked down, but the protests have also come full circle from the 2009 uprisings to Egyptian Revolution and back again to Iran. Many lessons have been learned along the way. Iran is poised, as are many Middle Eastern countries, to wrest power from the tyrants and non-violently place it in the hands of the people. Our role as a country is pivotal in facilitating and also allowing these peaceful revolutions. Also important is our understanding of the non-violence of the Muslim people, the power of the Internet and our influence in what we do or do not choose to do. •
04 SPRING 2011
SPRING 2011 05
A SMALLVICTORY for BAHRAIN
BY CAREY HANLIN
PAKISTAN’S WAR on TERROR
lthough not at the epicenter of the various conflicts in the Middle East, the geopolitical situation that Pakistan is in is starting to converge on the nation. Pakistan was born as an explicitly Muslim state and shares a large border with Afghanistan, as well as with Iran, India and China. Pakistan, as a country which lies at the midpoint between Asia and the Middle East, has always had border issues. Historically, and even to a lesser extent today, Pakistan, China and India have fought over the Kashmir region in the northeastern part of the country, while there is still tension over the Durand Line – the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. So why has Pakistan been drawn into the violence in the Middle East? Instances of violence have increased since the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, which has been further propagated by the fact that the Durand Line border area incorporates the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), including the Pashtun territories, who do not align themselves with either Pakistan or Afghanistan, but as a separate entity.# Both politically and militarily, the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have a lot to do with the tribal allegiances surrounding the Durand Line that have never formally recognized the border. In these regions, the border is extremely porous, which has aided militant groups such as the Taliban in finding places to be safe. A report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), written by Abubakar Siddique and Barnett R. Rubin, highlight that “the long history of each state offering sanctuary to the other’s opponents has built bitterness and mistrust between the two neighbors.” Especially through 2008 and into 2009, Taliban infiltration and fighting began to spill over into the northwestern border with Afghanistan, including the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region (formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province) and other FATAs. The “soft border” has enabled trafficking of drugs (particularly opium from Afghanistan), arms and even people. This is important because it means that Pakistan’s border areas have been and could continue to be used to provide safe havens to militant groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda. So, the problems in neighboring Afghanistan have already begun to spill over into Pakistan and the violence is set to involve yet another Middle Eastern nation and more people in the conflicts, heightening political instability in the country. After 9/11, Pakistan aligned itself with the United States in its “war on terror”, but this created internal problems for Pakistan when they had to send the Pakistani military into the tribal regions of the country to which they were not welcome. Additionally, while health, education and poverty alleviation are government priorities, civil unrest and political tension from Afghanistan are creating an unpredictable security situation which is displacing government resources that could otherwise meet initiatives in these areas. Ideally, the United States would like Pakistan to take a harsher stance on the Taliban and Afghanistan in general, but until Pakistan and Afghanistan are willing to negotiate with one another regarding the Durand Line and the tribal areas, the “soft” border will likely become even more porous. There is no doubt that the war on terror is beginning to take its toll on Pakistan.# As Taliban-backed insurgency has begun to move from the FATA and border area of Afghanistan further into Pakistani country, it seems that Pakistan’s role in the conflict is really only just beginning. •
n Feb. 22, the people of Bahrain celebrated a small yet emotional victory in the midst of the country’s increasingly tumultuous political climate. Using the recent Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions as a launching point, the small Persian kingdom turned its own political tension into an uprising against King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa. King Hamad retaliated by issuing riot police on protesting crowds and imprisoning hundreds of others whom he saw as a threat to his power. After a week of unrest, revolt and murder, the men and women of Bahrain saw their loved ones returned to them. Yet, despite his act of appeasement, King Hamad still refuses to step down. Despite a small population of just over one million people (the state of North Carolina, in contrast, has almost ten million), Bahrain has been a center of unrest and political turmoil for years. When King Hamad rose to power in 1999, he did so with promises of a new constitutional monarchy. But instead, Hamad fortified his own power, effectively diminishing the power of other elected officials and squandering the rights and voice of the nation’s Shiite Muslims. A Sunni Muslim himself, Hamad gave political favor to Bahrain’s Sunni citizens as he let Shiite discrimination grow. Because Bahrain has a predominately Shiite population, the revolution was just waiting for a trigger. Shiites from surrounding villages began protesting in 2009, but it was not until Egypt’s revolution that Bahrain’s citizens decided to fight for change. Earlier this February, violence erupted between protesters and government forces. Among their demands protesters listed the release of political prisoners, the resignation of the current government and the long awaited creation of a constitutional monarchy.
Hamad reacted by filling the streets of Bahrain with riot police. In response, thousands of protesters filled the country’s symbolic center, Pearl Square, in the capital Manama. On Feb. 17, police officers armed with guns, tear gas and concussion grenades stormed the crowd, killing five people and wounding hundreds of others. The protesters were stunned and hurt, but not defeated. The very next day, mourners marched back into Pearl Square. This time military personnel opened fire on the crowd, again driving them away. The government withdrew on Feb. 19 and protesters marched into Pearl Square again, this time with renewed determination. On Feb. 20, demands were made for King Hamad to dissolve his government and fire his uncle, the country’s prime minister. By Feb. 22, more than a hundred thousand protesters filled Pearl Square. The Bahrain Grand Prix had been canceled in light of the country’s political unrest and attention from the rest of the world was mounting steadily. Still, government forces remained absent. Later that same day, the government started releasing imprisoned protesters. But human rights lawyer Mohammed al-Tajir told Arabiclanguage news network Al Jazeera that while many have been liberated, at least six hundred were imprisoned. If that is correct, it would appear that Hamad’s liberation of the protesters was an act of pacification more than one of concession. King Hamad is stubborn and will not dissolve his government without a fight. •
BY KARA WILLIAMS
06 SPRING 2011
SPRING 2011 07
BY SALLY FRY
TIME for TEA
was about 14 when I started drinking coffee. I didn’t drink it because I liked it. I drank it because I thought it was cool to carry around a coffee thermos. Then during my freshman year in high school I started drinking tea because it was cool to have a teatag hanging out of your thermos. Never mind if leaving the tag bag in your thermos all day made your tea bitter and pretty damn gross. Luckily I was smart enough to figure out if I just dislocated the filthy tea bag, I could still display the tag with none the wiser. I was so cool, right? It wasn’t until a college tour trip with Mom junior year that I discovered real tea. Real as in loose leaf, minimally processed, freshly harvested, no-teabag-or-tag tea. We were in San Fran’s Chinatown when we stumbled upon a place called Red Blossom Tea Company, a little boutique wedged between two tacky gift shops. In the time of our short visit, we sat for a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, which involved carefully measuring the tea into a gaiwan, pouring water into the infuser, bruising the tea leaves with a special bruising stick, waiting a bit, carefully pouring the tea into a teapot and then finally pouring the tea into cups. The caveat: each cup holds about four sips-worth of tea. Oh, and sipping includes slurping. Loudly. I LOVED it. My mom loved it, too. We bought several different kinds of teas and an entire traditional tea set on the spot. It even included a special tray that collects any spilled water.
Of course such an elaborate ceremony is considerably impractical in our dayto-day lives. But wait, it’s not just the Chinese. People consume tea in pretty much every corner of the globe. In Iran and Afghanistan, tea is the national beverage. In Egypt, tea is sweetened with mint and sugar. They drink masala chai in India and in Malaysia they drink their tea with condensed milk. Let’s not forget the British and their afternoon tea. Many countries even have separate “high tea” and “low tea” times that include a light meal. What do we have in America? We have a fiveminute coffee break with donuts. Granted, coffee is pretty idiot-proof. All you need is a coffeemaker or coffee press. And some coffee beans. Oh, make sure they’re ground or you’ll need a coffee grinder, too. If you don’t brew your own, make sure you have at least $10 a week to spend on coffee. Idiot-proof? Maybe not. Expensive? Actually, yes. It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m assuming most students aren’t actually in love with coffee because they are experts on the subtle differences between French Roast and Arabica. I’m guessing most of you like coffee because it’s warm, has caffeine and doesn’t taste like Red Bull. I like coffee, but it gives me the shakes. Tea is also warm, caffeinated enough to keep me awake, and doesn’t make me feel like everyone can see my body vibrating. I’m not advocating dropping coffee altogether; I’m just asking that more people, students especially, give tea a chance.
If you’re still not convinced by my financial argument, here’s some rockhard logic for you: It’s about two dollars to buy a small Starbucks coffee out of a dispenser in The Pit Stop, Blue Ram and Bottom of Lenoir. It’s 99 cents (+tax) to buy a large cup of water and a
tea bag. Pro tip: You can even reuse the tea bag for an extra steeping! If you decide to give loose-leaf tea a try, and you should, it admittedly does involve some initial investment. Here are some options:
WHAT YOU NEED
HOT WATER – Even if you want cold tea, the hot water brews the leaves. $ : Heat up some hot water on the stove in a pot. The downside s now you have an extra pot to clean unless you want to use it as your dedicated “hot water pot.” $$ : Buy an electric teakettle. It doesn’t have to be expensive and they sell them at Target. You don’t have to wash it frequently if you’re only using it for water. Plus, they have auto-off features to keep you from burning down your house or apartment. TEA STRAINER – It keeps the leaves out of your cup. $ - $$ : Strainers or tea balls at Harris Teeter or Target for $3-10. You can also buy nicer ones that fit into existing teapots or in large mugs for $10-20 $$$ : Tea pot with built-in/removable strainer online or in specialty tea shop for $30-50. You can get a really great one at 3Cups in Chapel Hill or Tin Roof Teas at Cameron Village in Raleigh. Pro tip: Do not use a coffee press. I tried this once and spent precious time trying to pick the leaves out of the mesh.
TEA – Essential, don’t you think?
$-$$$ : It doesn’t matter where you go. There will be tea available at every price range! Ironically, in our venti-skinny-triple-macchiato with whipped cream coffeedriven society, it’s tea, not coffee, that is considered pretentious or reserved for wintertime when our noses are runny. But tea is simple and doesn’t have to be intimidating. The people you find in teashops are really excited about tea and want to help you cultivate your tastes. They don’t care if you don’t know the difference between black and oolong. Tea is a lot like wine. Sure, you can buy three-buck-Chuck and wholly enjoy it, but for a bit more investment you could experience a little piece of enlightenment.•
For more information on kinds of tea and where to buy tea and supplies, visit www.campusblueprint.com
08 SPRING 2011
This publication was paid for at least in part by SPRINGUNC student fees 2011 09
10 SPRING 2011