The real reason behind the FBI's encryption battle with Apple.

The FBI recently pressured Apple into creating a special iPhone security override for them — and Apple very politely told them to screw off.

The TL;DR version is that the FBI is having trouble breaking into the iPhone formerly belonging to Syed Farook, one of the shooters involved in the tragic massacre in San Bernardino, California. Apple agreed to help ... but the FBI took this a step further and obtained a court order for Apple to provide a way to bypass several security features on the phone without erasing its data. Apple claims this would involve creating a new version of iOS (which some have dubbed "FBiOS") with a back door that has serious privacy and security implications.

It's not that Apple can't do what the FBI is asking of them; it's that they shouldn't. The company did cooperate by providing the data that was already in their possession. But they were less comfortable with the potential slippery slope of the FBI's override request and the precedent that kind of government overreach would establish for the future.


Apple CEO Tim Cook told the feds as much.

"You want master access to every Apple device? Nah-uh. Not on my watch, pal." Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Stringer/Getty Images.

Regardless of how you feel about the FBI's request, you have to wonder: Why is this only coming up now?

Actually, it's not.

While the iPhone itself has been around since 2007, this specific issue has to do with the new encryption policies Apple introduced with iOS 8 in 2014. "Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [your personal] data," the company said at the time. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

It's almost like they saw this coming.

And the FBI wasn't happy about it back then, either. As FBI Director James Comey said after Apple's encryption started catching on, "This disconnect has created a significant public safety problem. ... Uploading to the cloud doesn't include all of the stored data on a bad guy's phone, which has the potential to create a black hole for law enforcement."

It's almost like they saw this coming, too. And they've been asking for access ever since.

Photo by Carrrrrlos/Flickr.

Since then, the FBI has tried repeatedly to inch Apple toward their big ask.

This all came to a head in fall of 2015, when the Justice Department asked for Apple's help to crack the iPhone (running iOS 7) of a drug dealer named Jun Feng.

"Apple has repeatedly assisted law enforcement officers in federal criminal cases by extracting data from passcode-locked iPhones pursuant to court orders," the government argued. "Apple has acknowledged that it has the technical capability to do so again in this case."

It's a classic method of manipulation. "Just one more tiny favor, that's all! Just this once!"

This time, it was a drug dealer; but next time, it could just be a kid who illegally downloaded the new Kanye record.

So Apple drew a line in the sand.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

Then the San Bernardino shooting happened.

On one hand, it was the highest death toll since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre three years prior, and an absolute tragedy.

But mass shootings aren't hard to come by in this country, even if there is some debate about what exactly qualifies as a "mass shooting."

There was Dylann Roof, for example, the radical white supremacist who killed nine people at a historic black church in South Carolina. There was Robert Lewis Dear, an anti-abortion radical who killed three people, including a university police officer, and injured nine more at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

Elliot Rodger was spurred on by radical misogyny and killed six people and wounded seven others in Isla Vista, California.

And who can forget Wade Michael Page, another radical white supremacist who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin? Or Jared Loughner, whose radical right-wing anti-government ideology led him to kill six people and injure 11 more, including a Congresswoman, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona?

The difference between these and the San Bernardino shootings? Syed Farook represents a unique opportunity for the FBI that the other shooters didn't.

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

In case you didn't notice the pattern: the majority of mass shooters in the United States are white extremists.

And the people who were allegedly responsible for the San Bernardino massacre? They were Muslims.

So why did the FBI decide that it was finally the right time to ask for that super-special secret master key that they've been after for years?

Because they could.

Because Islamophobia is on the rise, which makes it easier for them to get the unrestricted access they've been after so they can use it in the future whenever they want, regardless of the "who" or the "why."

Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Stringer/Getty Images.

So while Apple should be applauded for standing up to the FBI and defending our right to privacy, there's another deeply concerning issue lurking in the foreground.

As the face of the anti-surveillance movement said himself:

We know the U.S. government already spends a lot of time and resources spying on Muslims, even without an Apple master key. They do the same to "black extremists" and other left-wing "radical" movements such as Occupy as well.

And for the $500 million spent for every victim of terrorism, 90% of those caught up in this snooping are normal people like you and me.

The government's desire to compromise the privacy of its people under the auspices of "safety" is incredibly dangerous.

Let's refuse to perpetuate the racial fears that make this kind of subtle attack on our privacy possible.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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