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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

News of the Week: Homeland Security, Social Media, and Sociology of Health

Nickie Phillips

This is our latest installment of Dr. Demetra M. Pappas' "News of the Week" in which she uses short topics as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course. 

  1. HOMELAND SECURITY/TERRORISM AND DEVIANCE.SOCIALIZATION/THE POLITICS OF RECOVERY: First, what do you think of the fact that everyone who ran the London Marathon had black ribbons, as a show of support for Boston? As a second, different approach, the team can discuss the question of whether the two young men, the Tsarnaev brothers, who did this (apparently, from what we know so far, without tie-in to a terrorist organization or cell) are true terrorists (for example, as having a political goal) or mass murderers aspiring to be terrorists (i.e., deviant, but not terrorists). Reference to readings might be helpful here.  Third, there were reports on television yesterday (though I saw it originally in a “blurb” on the front page of The Wall Street Journal) that in Canada, two non-Canadian men were charged with planning a terror attack to derail a passenger train in Toronto, and who allegedly did receive what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and prosecutors called “guidance” from al Quaeda “related elements in Iran.”
  2. SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY:  This morning, on the NBC Today Show, reported that Associated Press’ Twitter was hacked and had a FALSE tweet  to the effect of “breaking, 2 bombs exploded at the White House, Barack Obama injured.”  The AP has suspended its twitter account, but not before Wall Street took a hit and fall, as well as rumors (on the twittersphere) circulating as to the identity and purpose of the (non-existent) bombing.  As was noted on the program, Twitter is a huge tool, and indeed was largely credited with the Tunisia revolutions, which precipitated the Arab Spring (among other things). So, how to protect oneself, one’s organization, one’s techno-integrity? How is this a “social issue”?  See Kashmir Hill’s article posted on Forbes.com, “AP Hack Highlights Two Crucial Features Twitter Needs,” where in pertinent part, she writes, The hacking suggests two features that Twitter desperately needs: better security through two-factor authentication and an editorial function that allows account holders to post corrections to tweets that contain false information.”
  3. DRUGS?/SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH AND MEDICINE/AGE RELATED MARGINALIZATION:  On NY1 (television show, see also www.ny1.com), there was a report (with an interview by Mayoral-hopeful Christine Quinn) that there is an effort to raise the legal age of smoking (tobacco, not weed) to 21.  While I usually have this discussion with regard to drinking alcohol (and  you can still draw parallels), what do you think about this?

For more information on Dr. Pappas' pedagogical approach, see her article, "Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51.