Malala Yousafzai

By Aarushi Gupta
Staff Writer

Malala Yousafzai is a household name; her efforts to further equality and education internationally have impressed figures from President Obama to Ban Ki-moon to Jon Stewart. Her story is an iconic one; a native of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, she grew up attending the girls school her father established. Once the Taliban presence in the area escalated, Yousafzai volunteered to run a blog for BBC about “living under the Taliban’s threats to deny her an education” under the penname Gul Makai. Eventually she was found out and threatened by the Taliban. She and her family thought nothing would come of the threat until that fateful day October 9, 2012, when, as she and her classmates were headed to school, a Taliban gunman boarded the truck and asked “Which one of you is Malala?” The rest is history; since her recovery in 2013, she has received endless praise for her efforts to bring quality education to girls in Pakistan, which has thrown related issues in the area into the spotlight. When she received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi for her endeavors to make schooling more accessible for boys and girls alike, no one was surprised; she’s won every other award in the book, from the Children’s Nobel to the Pakistani Peace award. She’d even already been nominated for the Nobel in 2012. However, as the years have passed and Yousafzai’s voice has ebbed from our consciousness, it is important to recall the causes for which she was willing to give her life: education and equality. As Yousafzai has grown, so has her mission: realizing the influence of drone strikes and regional terrorism on a quality learning environment for students, Yousafzai has expanded her voice to not only advocate for the education of her peers, but also for the safety of her countrymen. While she has represented the ongoing efforts to further equal education opportunities for children, her attempts to better the political situation for her country have been silenced by the Western media.

After she recovered in a Birmingham hospital following her attack, Yousafzai immediately used her international fame to bring her cause to a global platform. She met with the Obamas a year after her attack so the administration could “thank her for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of [sic] girls education in Pakistan,” according to a public statement released by the White House. But the statement mentioned nothing of Yousafzai asking the President to stop the drone strikes in her home country; in her statement released by the Associated Press, Yousafzai says, “Innocent victims are killed in [drone attacks], and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education, it will make a big impact.” However, as these views are not in line with the United States’ interests, they were conveniently excluded from the President’s statement.

That year brought a great deal of fame to Malala Yousafzai; she was second on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” list, she penned her memoir, “I am Malala”, and she spoke to the UN General Assembly on her birthday – Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the UN, declared that day as “Malala Day”. She transformed from the girl who survived a Taliban attack on her life to a young woman who has so much more to say, but it seems that the West continues to take advantage of her, now casting Yousafzai as an envoy for south Asian peace. It seems that when awarding the prize, the focus of the Nobel committee was to emphasize that “a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistan [can] join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.” Indeed, India and Pakistan have been engaged in warfare since their separation (and independence) in 1947. However, the border fighting will not stop because two advocates for children’s rights from their respective countries were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, contrary to the committee’s wishes. We have distorted Yousafzai’s message and twisted it to reiterate western sentiments; she has been lauded and praised by global leaders, but they seem to remain unfazed and nonplussed by her actual point.

Perhaps this is why there has been considerable backlash towards Yousafzai and her dreams in her homeland, Pakistan. Many Pakistanis are proud of Yousafzai, but others accuse her of being “a western stooge, a CIA spy and even a prostitute.” While some of these insults stem from of an internalized misogyny, others are a cause of concern. As Yousafzai’s message was distorted by the west, it seems that she was as well; “although Pakistanis supported her cause, it had been “hijacked” by the “western saviour complex.” Pakistani journalist Assed Baig asserted, “Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native,” he wrote, referring to the U.S. drone program that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis.” The truth of her convictions is real, but if her own fellow citizens do not see the validity of her claims, then all hope for the young activist is lost.

As the youngest recipient of a Nobel Prize however, Yousafzai still has plenty of time to make a lasting impact on the world. Yousafzai is unique in her youth and her sex as well as her drive to instigate change through the aspiration of becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan. Her idols, M.K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., both preferred to influence society and politics from the fringes. She wants to follow in the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister of Pakistan, and one of the most celebrated leaders in the region. In aiming to become part of the political framework and aiming to change it from the inside, Malala Yousafzai shows her commitment to making the world a better place.

Image by United Nations Photo


Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

By Kirstie Yu
Staff Writer

Imagine going for your morning jog when suddenly, a small robot carrying a yellow box whizzes by your head. You watch as the aircraft zips by a tree and makes a beeline towards your neighbors’ house. The machine gently drops a package on your neighbors’ driveway and quickly flies off into the distance. The reality of delivery drones in our residential areas may come as early as next year, barring the time it takes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create rules and regulations for this new fleet of commercial drones first proposed by Amazon. Soon after announcing its partnership with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for free Sunday delivery, Amazon unveiled a drone-based service called Amazon Prime Air on December 1, 2013. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained in an interview with “60 Minutes” that the ‘octocopters’ will be able to deliver customers’ packages to their driveway within 30 minutes of the order being placed, and within a range of ten miles. Although residential drone delivery could afford many conveniences to consumers, there may be far more costs to this system than benefits.

Amazon’s proposed new service is tailored for the consumer in that it provides an immediate, same-day delivery service that, importantly, changes the way we receive our mail. It could drive the company’s market competition, UPS and FedEx primarily, into developing their own delivery drones. At the very least, traditional delivery companies will need to find a way to keep up with increasingly consumer-minded online retailers. We as consumers will gain all the benefits from this competition as companies look to make the consumers’ lives more convenient. However, while UPS has begun researching drones as well, FedEx CEO Fred Smith firmly believes that though the drones can be used for local deliveries, USPS, UPS, and FedEx will still perform the majority of deliveries.

Along these lines, one major issue for residential drone delivery is that it instigates unfair competition with the already struggling traditional mail services of the USPS, UPS, and FedEx. The potential exists for these unmanned aircraft to completely replace the need for traditional truck-driving mail carriers. The USPS has been losing money annually due to increased use of the Internet for communication needs and bill payments, so replacing physical mail carriers would likely cause even more people in this field to lose their jobs. Likewise, if these commercial delivery drones are allowed, other companies will want to implement drones for their products too, such as the DomiCopter for Domino’s Pizza or the TacoCopter concept. Ideas like these would put the people who traditionally deliver pizzas by car out of work as well. Nevertheless, using commercial drones would greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from carrier trucks, resulting in less overall pollution.

Furthermore, it will be up to the FAA to sort out what regulations are needed to monitor the system, which may take up to four or five years. The FAA currently has a ban on using drones for commercial purposes, and it is still unclear how Amazon Prime Air would fit into the picture. The FAA may be interested in developing an air traffic system for drones similar to the existing system for airplanes, and the FAA would eventually need to find a way to regulate any commercial drone system once it is implemented. The FAA has already taken initial steps on these issues and will start to conduct research on civilian protection for commercial unmanned aircraft systems at six test sites starting this year.

There are also legal hurdles that need to be considered before a residential drone delivery system can be executed. Problems may arise when the courts are needed to solve legal disputes about drones, which could range from privacy to copyright to tort issues. This would undoubtedly require Congress to address the issue by creating drone laws, which would then need to be decided upon in the courts in terms of having lawyers argue about drone law and establishing legal precedents in local, state and federal courts. The messy implications commercial drones could have in the legal field are troubling indeed.

Americans already seem not to favor the idea of Amazon Prime Air despite the increased convenience of deliveries in under an hour. This may stem from the existing negative view Americans hold toward drones. Amazon has been very careful to only use the words ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ or UAV to address the delivery aircraft, because of the negative connotations the word ‘drone’ brings. Because Americans are already uneasy with the overseas deployment of autonomous, ‘killing’ combat drones overseas due to human rights issues, they can only become more perturbed with the impact commercial drones could have on their daily lives, especially in regards to the privacy and safety.

In terms of privacy, with the country already on edge after Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency is spying on our phone conversations, if these delivery drones are allowed to fly through the air in our residential areas, would there be any way to make sure that only delivery drones are allowed to fly around? Although it may be a bit of a stretch, anyone could potentially build a drone that looks similar to an Amazon drone and have it fly through the air. If the drone has a camera installed on it and is used to spy on people, this would be a major invasion of privacy. If the FAA does not come up with strict enough regulations, a drone disguised as an Amazon delivery drone could secretly spy on random civilians. Furthermore, if Amazon delivery drones themselves require cameras in order to be remotely controlled and ensure safety, the camera footage could itself be an invasion of privacy, especially since Amazon will mainly be delivering packages in residential areas.

Additionally, a myriad of safety concerns arise in regards to how exactly the drones will be able to fly through a residential area without hitting any trees, bikers or pedestrians. People change the landscaping of their houses every once in a while, and unless Amazon installs cameras on all of its drones, it may be impossible for the drone to detect new changes in the environment that were not there a week ago. Moreover, if a drone does crash, break down or malfunction, would Amazon send out a human driver to recover that drone and complete the delivery? This would surely cause Amazon to incur more costs than planned by having to pay for the drivers as well as deal with any bad publicity. Amazon would need to be held accountable for any accidents that happen, and there would need to be a system for determining who is going to pay for any harm caused by the drones. When even a staged fake drone crash at UC San Diego caused alarm last year, Americans will definitely be expecting the assurance of strong civilian safety protections from Amazon before the company can win the approval of the general public for these delivery drones.

There is still a long way to go before delivery drones can be implemented because there are simply too many downsides to this system that must be addressed. The only information we have so far about Amazon Prime Air comes from Amazon’s website and CEO Jeff Bezos’ interview, and there is no way to know exactly what precautions the company is or is not taking in the development of this new system. Only time will tell whether the world is ready for drones to take over our skies.

Image by Philippe Vanhaesendonck