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PoliticsHey Reddit, I'm Omar Subeh - The uptalking 18-year-old from Artesia, CA who spoke out against my city council. AMA!

Feb 17th 2018 by LunarGopher • 12 Questions • 4042 Points

OK GUYS, MY HOUR IS UP. THANKS SO MUCH FOR PARTICIPATING AND FOR YOU INTEREST IN THIS TOPIC--HOPE IT DIDN'T FREAK YOU OUT TOO MUCH. (THOUGH I DO WANT IT TO FREAK YOU OUT A LITTLE.) My name is Robert Draper and I’m a journalist and author. My most recent piece for National Geographic is called “They Are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet”. It's about how the demand for security is increasing, monitoring technology is proliferating, and as a result, we’re all under surveillance. While that part definitely sounds alarming, I also explore the ways surveillance is helping. Spacecraft technicians are better able to calculate the Earth’s landmass, we can monitor hurricanes, and rangers can better protect wildlife from poachers.

Read the story here and AMA: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/02/surveillance-watching-you/

Proof: https://i.redd.it/99njchz4rtf01.jpg https://twitter.com/NatGeo/status/963442928516464641

Q:

Have you ever tried to get support from your local politicians?

A:

Do you already know what questions we are going to ask?


Q:

Actually I did have one local politician reach out to me. He was happy to see me getting involved in the process, and told me he enjoyed the video. I'm not sure how that person's colleagues feel about the issue, but I will be sure to try and reach out to them.

A:

Nope, only as they come up!


Q:

can you elaborate on the callout of you AP gov teacher? Just kinda confused by it and context would help

A:

Who is more guilty of surveillance, the public or private sector?


Q:

My former AP Gov teacher is a current member of the city council. He left the room as soon as I began to walk up to the podium, and returned in the middle of my speech. I thought that him walking out of the room when he is supposed to listening to members of the community was pretty disrespectful. Although, after having him as a teacher for a year I was definitely not surprised. He was far more eager and willing to tell the class about his recent Facebook arguments, and give his daily bashing of Trump, than actually teach the class. I don't think it's a problem that a US Government teacher gives an opinion on US politics, but its not even like he tied his stories into the curriculum. His stories were the curriculum. I was not planning on calling him out like that, but in the heat of the moment I let my emotions get the better of me.

A:

"Guilty" being a loaded term, it's evident that private-use surveillance (ranging from CCTV's to drones to satellites) has now far out-stripped public sector usage. And therein lies the danger, since it's hard to know what company at any given time is monitoring to you, and to what extent, and why, and where (and for how long) the data is going. At least there are FOIA means by which to determine government surveillance.


Q:

That's a fair question and I do not have any sources to back that claim up. I can tell you that it matched my experience in three states: one west coast, one east coast, and one near the geographic center.

A:

Thanks for the response.


Q:

I know I can't speak for the entire US, but in my opinion politics were pretty unavoidable in the 2016 election. I know most of teachers will generally not bring up politics, but I think this previous election made it difficult to do so. One specific example I can think of would be the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. She is someone who has direct influence over these people's career, so it would make sense for them to have an opinion on her.

A:

Private sector by far, and/though the extent is far more difficult to quantify, as are the retention patterns...and of course therein lies the danger with commercial usage.


Q:

A bit off point, but do you think his objections to DeVos were specifically because of him being a part of the teacher's union? I've been led to understand she's quite anti-union, so I can see how someone who relies on an arguably dated system for their livelihood would balk at her appointment. That said, his reaction wouldn't excuse his lack of professionalism. You can't accept the paycheck and the power, but leave the responsibility and accountability at the door.

On a personal note, I actually switched classes when I was in high school because of a teacher that was known to let his personal (and heavily religious) views get in the way of teaching government. That, and I had several AP teachers that applied for country wide, universal teaching licenses to specifically get them out of being forced into the unions, so I'd have to imagine they'd be more favorable to a change of pace...although maybe not necessarily DeVos.

In short: Do you think your teacher's actions were born more out of union influence than they were of personal political views and/or his being involved with the city council?

A:

I know a lot of people who write this issue off saying "I don't have anything to hide" - what is your response to that reaction?


Q:

I am fairly certain that this teacher's opposition to DeVos was primarily fueled by his disdain for Trump. I would assume most teachers don't like her because she has no background in Education.

A:

I get that privacy sometimes seems like a triviality--or even a preoccupation of the affluent--in the greater interest of information-sharing. But at a certain point, we all need alone time, of our choosing. And the psycho-social implications of what happens to a community when it operates under the assumption that it's always being watched, for reasons not readily identifiable...well, it's chilling, right?


Q:

You are a legend for this. Applause.

A:

Is it just just the important people? Or is it normal everyday people too?


A:

Depends on how you define "important," right? I was in a CCTV control center in the London borough of Islington and the monitors there were watching 2 guys on motorcycles who were "important" only b/c they were deemed suspicious, though throughout our surveillance of them they were only guilty of popping wheelies.


Q:

It’s so hard to speak publicly even when all your comments aren’t being analysed forensically by the court of reddit afterwards. I think this is a completely reasonable explanation. Good on you for getting out there and trying to give some legitimate challenge to people in public office.

A:

What do you think the next surveillance frontier is, both in the USA and outside of it? Is the US going to go the CCTV route like the UK? DNA collection on birth? Iris scanning for credit card transactions?


Q:

Thanks for the support, it means a lot!

A:

Well, in many ways CCTV's are the most antiquated manifestation of Big Brother...EXCEPT when the images are stored &/or linked with facial recognition technology that is then linked to our social media accounts and thereby used for marketing (or other) purposes. That's what smart cameras represent now: not just a single static image, but the ability to develop a dynamic, penetrating profile of the person being watched.


Q:

Can you give an example of "bashing Trump"? Because very often on reddit what people call "bashing Trump" turns out to be just calling him out on one of his thousands of lies. Calling politicians out on their lies seems perfectly suitable for a government class. Facebook arguments does sound stupid though.

A:

Obviously removing your online profile helps discourage data collection, but what about in every day life? Is there anyway to thwart the surveillance infrastructure, or are effective methods for us to fight back?


Q:

To be honest, his "lectures" were always so similar and they all seem like a blur to me so I don't have any specific examples. What I can tell you is that he did have legitimate criticisms about Trump and his policies at times, but other times he just resorted to Ad Hominems and the like. This did not happen my year, but I know that at some point in this school year he just put on an episode of Stephen Colbert for his class instead of teaching the curriculum.

Those Facebook arguments were always just ways for him to try and stroke his ego. Or in his own words "educating people on Facebook."

A:

It's an exhausting cat & mouse game in which the surveiller is inevitably one step ahead of the surveilled. Yes, you can guard your privacy by avoiding the internet, avoiding public spaces, avoiding anyone with a smartphone. It's tough, in other words.


Q:

A lot of people are framing your comments as “calling out corruption” but in my opinion, it just looks like typical red tape/poor planning/bad elected officials.

Do you believe there’s actually corruption going on?

A:

What inspired you to research and explore surveillance specifically?


Q:

When I originally went up to speak, I was trying to show ineptitude of this city council in regards to their history with project development. While I was researching this project, some things appeared to be shady, such as the developer's half-finished website, and donations made that were not the development fee. I don't have enough evidence to claim any sort of corruption, but I think some of the circumstances surrounding this project are shady.

A:

Guilt, to be honest--by which I mean, guilt that I now live in a house with CCTV's posted all around it, and readily give up personal info to online companies like Uber, and offer up personal details on social media accounts, without asking myself how steep & slippery the civil liberties slope is that I've slid down. Other than during the Edward Snowden revelations, we've been remarkably supine when it comes to asking ourselves what has become of our zone of privacy. This story was my attempt to restart the dialogue.


Q:

He was the former mayor while teaching. He would leave the room at all times, be on his phone, and use his position to preach his own political views. He would threaten students to fail them for a number of reasons, including failing them if they failed the ap exam, even if they had a passing grade. Students got tired of his shit and collectively signed a petition asking for him to be removed. The students brought it to the assistant principal, who promptly threw the petition on the trash. Nothing happened to him or the petition since him and the a.p were close friends.

A:

Is there compensation for the questionably clandestine efforts to pilfer our private details?


Q:

It is also difficult to do anything about him because he has tenure. He can basically continue to do as he pleases without consequence.

A:

Yes, in theory you can sue a private or public interest for invading your privacy, if you can demonstrate both a reckless or malicious intent and actual damage. That's a very high bar, however.


Q:

Reduce his pay to $1. But so long as the administration likes him, you're correct -- he's got a nice cushion.

A:

Are we being monitored through the front cameras of our handhelds? And is there any channel through which the surveillance data has reached the dark web (and is for sale)?


Q:

I'm sure that would work as an incentive to get him to improve his teaching haha. However, the district has fixed payment for the teachers which can be seen in this chart here - http://www.abcusd.k12.ca.us/files/_aOL6J_/b7e0e13cbd39756f3745a49013852ec4/Certificated_Salary_Schedule_2016-17.pdf

A:

As of yet, no: no one is looking at you through the front camera of your handhelds. Not even law enforcement or the NSA has that kind of capability. But it's a possibility about which to be vigilant. And no, bulk data isn't for sale through a particular channel--though some data as compiled by any number of retention groups is sold for commercial purposes.


Q:

That better be halaal bro. You should know better. Good shit fighting corruption though btw.

A:

Does covering your camera really protect your privacy from the FBI? Can't they still get tons of meta data from your companies like Verizon or Facebook?


Q:

I was baptized and raised Catholic, but am no longer religious so I think I'm good on the halal part haha.

A:

Yes, they can! But it requires a warrant. And no, covering your camera does nothing but make you look paranoid.


Q:

Ha! My mom is Catholic and my dad is Muslim. I dabbled in both religions but I'm also 'no longer religious'

A:

Should we be anxious? This stuff scares the shit of me. It’s one thing being controlled by our government but watched? Nope.


Q:

Wow! Small world haha. I went to Catechism to get my first communion but that was when stopped going to church. I never participated or learned anything about Islam, but its interesting to see that others have a similar background to me.

A:

Yes you should be anxious! More on this soon.


Q:

You were great, you totally slayed them. Has there been any progress in terms of an investigation into them or similar?

A:

Thanks I appreciate it! So far there has been no investigation but citizens are petitioning to hold a referendum on the project.


Q:

Did you ever try to reach out to the developers and ask them what's up? I'm using EB-5 money right now for a development and can tell you, it's very difficult to get that type of financing lined up for a development and even harder with the current political climate.

It seems like they were most likely tied up with USCIS background checks (which can take years during the last administration) and couldn't start Phase 1 (only a guess) but were trying to get Phase 2 started knowing it might take years again to get that phase in order.

A:

I had figured that the city council would be a better choice to ask, but in hindsight you make a valid point. I'll try to get in contact with the developer and see what is causing the hold up. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it!

Also just to clarify, Artesia Live I and Artesia Live II are not phases of the same project, but separate projects entirely.


Q:

Was the "I'm not millennial" thing sarcasm? Because 18 year olds are millennials.

A:

I thought term Millennial was meant for those who had come of age at the turn of the millennium. I had always assumed I was Generation Z, who are those who grew up with the Internet and technology. I feel like I can relate more with Generation Z characteristics that Millennials'