CONGRATULATIONS to Howell High School’s We The People Constitutional Law program, who placed first and qualified for Nationals on Friday January 11 in Lansing. The class, consisting of seniors, takes part in the competition annually, but this was the first time Howell’s program received top honors. The We The People course aims to educate high school students in issues relating to the Constitution. It requires much planning, practice, and studying, and the students celebrated their win enthusiastically. Mr. Mark Oglesby, who has taught Howell’s program for 11 years, is now planning to take the class to Nationals April 26-29 in Washington, D.C.
I don’t know about you, but the Internet is something that I would like to stick around.
But SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, has serious potential to negatively change the internet as we know it. The bill puts power in the hands of the entertainment industry to censor sites that allegedly “engage in, enable or facilitate” copyright infringement – it wants to more vigorously protect copyright around the web.
The proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.
Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly intruding website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 such infringements within six months.
Basically, the bill is supposed to get rid of money traveling to foreign countries where hackers and software “pirates” sit in their basements and steal movies and music from our hard working civilians in Hollywood.
In fewer words, they mean piracy.
SOPA has raised concerns about domestic abuse and internet censorship since its origin. The language is vague enough to encompass sites you use every day, like Twitter and Facebook, making SOPA a serious problem.
A news analysis in the information technology magazine eWeek stated, “The language of SOPA is so broad, the rules so unconnected to the reality of Internet technology and the penalties so disconnected from the alleged crimes that this bill could effectively kill e-commerce or even normal Internet use. The bill also has grave implications for existing U.S., foreign and international laws and is sure to spend decades in court challenges.”
First of all, “pirates,” or the people who share or post the copyrighted files online or even in some definitions the people who download it, aren’t stupid. The bill has gotten enough publicity that social networking sites like Reddit have published lists of numerical IP addresses that would allow users to access the sites, even if Congress went and blocked them. You see, the blockages that would be set in place that are proposed by SOPA would only block URL’s, not numeric IP addresses. In reality, anyone could just go type in the site they wish to access and there it is, like the block never even existed. The bill basically becomes a mere annoyance, an irksome fruit fly. It does not accomplish its purpose.
But what the bill is actually accomplishes is the stifling Internet users’ First Amendment rights. There would be no more uploading covers of songs to Youtube or anything of the sort – that could send you to court or to a prison cell if the copyright holders of the song you covered didn’t like it. Simply quoting a book or movie in a blog post could come with a $1,000 pricetag in fines. The Internet has created millions of jobs, trillions in GDP growth, and expanded economic opportunities for millions of Americans, and now Congress wants to largely restrict it? Ridiculous.
The good news is that there is a giant force of opposition against the bill. Since it was proposed in late October, more than 6,000 sites have signed up to fight it and more than 1,000,000 emails have been sent to Congress protesting the bill. Reddit has released that they will black out their site for 12 hours on January 18 in protest. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said that his firm may also conduct a protest blackout, though it remains unclear whether the site will join Reddit.
But still, the House is trying to push the bill through.
The fight against the bill needs your help more than ever – the Human Rights Campaign and the Demand Progress Organization both have lists of things you can do to help protest the bill. Simply tweeting or posting a status on Facebook about the bill can raise awareness about what it is trying to do. Both of their websites also have easy, simple generators that will write and send an email to our representatives in the House, notifying them that we do not agree with the bill.
The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on SOPA on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee is scheduled to continue debate when Congress returns from its winter recess. Hopefully the progression of SOPA through the House will end quickly.
Most students find it very hard to imagine that teachers have lives outside of school. It can be very rare to see a teacher out and about in normal life, but with Mr. Mark Oglesby being involved in many outside activities and putting a lot of extra time into them, seeing him in normal life does not seem so strange.
Currently Mr. Oglesby coaches boys’ and girls’ tennis, teaches We the People (among other social studies classes), and advises the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Putting in a lot of time at school and at home, Mr. Oglesby feels it is very important to pay equal attention to all the commitments he takes on and to improve the programs he is involved in, noting that he has been spending more time improving his AP U.S. Government and Politics class lately.
Being involved in sports and other extracurricular activities is a way for Mr. Oglesby to better his teaching and he seems to be very dedicated to that goal as he has coached tennis for 17 years; advised the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for three; and started teaching We the People back in 1995 in Washington.
“Teaching is my priority but it is important to build relationships with students,” Mr. Oglesby said.
Not only does Mr. Oglesby coach tennis but he also used to coach baseball, which he coached for 11 years, and volleyball. His dedication to doing anything to help his students and himself grow seems endless. In fact, Mr. Oglesby started the We the People class in Washington.
“I got a flyer [asking for teachers to teach We the People] in the mail, “ said Mr. Oglesby.
From there, Mr. Oglesby’s fondness of the class has grown as he finds it more engaging for the students than textbooks because it forces them to think and collaborate.
From a student’s perspective, We the People student, senior Andrew Meagher, notices Mr. Oglesby’s commitment every day. “He covers everything in depth, knows answers, and will go home and do research on a question if he is intrigued by it,” Meagher said.
Former AP U.S. Government and Politics student and current We the People student, senior Meagan Roche likes Mr. Oglesby as a teacher because he is one of the only teachers who thoroughly promotes learning. “He facilitates thought and is super excited about the material,” Roche said.
As for family, Mr. Oglesby tries to find the right balance of time. “I try to balance my faith, my family, and school commitments. We go on trips, play games, read with my youngest daughter, etc. to spend time together,” he shared.
Mr. Oglesby also notes how understanding his family is about all the time he puts into his school commitments, especially during We the People preparation time, and he just tries to spend as much time with them as he can, when he can.
It also helps that Mr. Oglesby’s wife, Karen Oglesby, helps run sports and activities with him. “We have a deal, the first sport is my choice; if there is a second sport we decide equally; and if there is a third sport season, it is entirely her decision (if she says no, I don’t coach). It has worked well so far,” Mr. Oglesby said.
Since high school, Mr. Oglesby has wanted to be a teacher. “I love what I do, working with kids makes me better,” Mr. Oglesby said.
It is that love that enables Mr. Oglesby to do all the work outside of school that he does. Every day, he takes work home in hopes to better his students and “produce critically thinking students.”
He seems to be doing a great job because when asked what Mr. Oglesby has taught them that they will always remember, both Meagher and Roche quickly responded with, “thinking critically of the government.”
On November 28, 2010, Wikileaks, a nonprofit organization that operates internationally, began publishing thousands of secret U.S diplomatic documents. These sensitive publications were made available to the public, allowing millions of people to read about these intimate government operations. Wikileaks was forced to shut down when Swiss authorities closed the sites main bank account; however, it still operates under hundreds of different mirror sites (a copy of a website and/or its contents).
In 2006, when the website first launched, it had built up a collection of over one million documents. In 2010 the site once again became very active, publishing about 700,000 new leaks. Among them was a classified video of an airstrike on Baghdad from July 2007, showing two men being fired at because the pilots thought they were carrying weapons, which turned out to be cameras.
In July of 2010, Wikileaks released about 92,000 documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, some of which mentioned instances of friendly fire and civilian casualties. Four hundred thousand documents were published in October of 2010 regarding the Iraq war. Whether they intended to or not, these documents have embarrassed and enraged many governments around the world.
The websites director is said to be Julian Assange. Assange is an Australian writer, software developer and internet activist. He has personally published materials about waste dumping in Africa, Guantanamo Bay procedures and classified documents about the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On December 7, 2010, Assange was arrested in London, England on alleged sexual offense charges. Assange denied these accusations, but was held in jail for ten days. He was released on a $312,000 bail on December 16. On release, Assange stated, “I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter.”
Wikileaks is not presently active, but the organization plans on publishing more classified documents in the future.