The men and women who have every reason to despair, but don’t, may have the most to teach us, not only about how to hold true to our beliefs, but about how such a life can bring about seemingly impossible social change. ” -Paul Rogat Loeb

Social change is a scary force, necessary, but scary. The Arab Spring has caused myriad uprisings, a couple regime changes and countless deaths. Egypt ousted the terrible Mubarek…but is Morsi any better?

An Egyptian court just handed down 529 death penalties in a trial process that had little or no evidence and basically was a over reaction to some police deaths in a riot over a year ago. Al Jazeera claims that the Arab Spring has ended in Egypt. I think so too…Where is the outrage over civilian deaths or the outrage over malfunctioning government?

Yes Egypt is semi-democratic which is a great step for them considering that’s what the people want…but Morsi was the lesser of two evils at the time and people were far more concerned about Muslim Brotherhood affiliation than any sort of platform for change. This death penalty madness seems to bring us right back to the days of Mubarek.

Where is the social change? If you look at it over a annual perspective, there has been great change in Egypt considering it has it’s first democratically elected president in history. But look at it over the past month, Egypt is showing signs of a dictator government once again, which means there’s a big change for “potential radicalization of the Islamists.”

What is the next step to stop the madness? Well my first thought is what does the U.N. think—of course it’s outraged. There is a clear connection, The New York Times said, between the convictions and the political agenda to keep the Muslim Brotherhood suppressed since it was outsted from military power back in July. This is taking civilian warfare to a whole new level: legal mass killing.

Will the U.S. stick our noses in? Is that even a good idea. Will the U.N. step in to preserve the positive aspects of Egypt’s social change by quashing this ridiculous situation? We can only hope…other wise the Arab Spring’s violence will have been in vain for Egypt.

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Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. Albert Einstein

Is reality TV propagating stereotypes? Perhaps marketing them to create a cultural identity of consumerism—whether it be partying or haggling over the price of a 1830s wooden rocking horse? 

 I don’t do reality TV, so I just browsed for articles by “reality TV” to see what kind of international dialogue could be created from the articles—like how my British counterpart would reflect on my culture if she browsed like I did.

 The Post investigated D.C.’s contributions to reality TV—which weren’t much at all—then discusses consumerist culture from Taco Bell giveaways to running shoes.

 …To say in the least I was confused, but one section could open a great dialogue on discussion of gender roles in reality TV, which is internationally relevant: “Perhaps there are some [women] out there who will want their lives examined and mocked on basic cable. We’ll see.”

 The Times discussed a different aspect of consumerist culture: “Reality television’s — and, by extension, America’s — endless quest to find wealth rather than earn it is expanding in several new directions…Could there be a touch of desperation in the air as this already played-out genre tries to keep itself alive?”

 The article talks about the new reality show The Safecrackers” as a ridiculous attempt to reach a niche audience of “master safe crackers” that most likely doesn’t exist.

 The Times basically offers up that the American obsession “Storage Wars” as an acceptable neurosis & that piggybacking off the concept has reached a point where reality TV hypes situations that aren’t really part of common culture.  

 One major publication links reality TV to random social media comments & the other makes fun of it.

 Even though being able to laugh at yourself is supposed to be a good thing I am bit disturbed about how hard my imaginary British counterpart would be laughing right about now.

“Communism in Korea could get off to a better start than practically anywhere else in the world.” – Edwin W. Pauley, Truman’s ambassador investigating reparations, traveling in the Russian zone of Korea in June 1946

My grandfather, Donald Grinstead, was drafted in the Korean War April 20, 1953. Three or four days before his basic training ended the war ended.

 

 Somehow the fellas in charge lost paperwork that recorded a week of his company’s training at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. Instead of the regular 15 weeks of basic, the 2nd Battalion, 61st Infantry had to do 17 weeks.

 

“We were told our orders were cut from Korea,” he said. “Anyone who wanted to go over to help with a clean up deal could step forward. No one did, so no one had to go.”

 

 Gramps was only 19 when he went in. He was an intermediate radio operator, able to tap out 30 or 40 words-a-minute in Morse code.  He and my grandmother, Beverly, got married on August 29th 1953. She was 16.

 

Gramps said he wasn’t thinking at all about war when he was drafted. Both listened to the radio and watched TV about the war, but Grams said it was a major shock—“it came as if someone plowed you in the face.” She had mixed emotions about the whole situation of her husband fighting in a foreign war.

 

 “You sure didn’t want Korea to come to the US, but you didn’t want your loved ones going to Korea,” she said. “It was a time of very mixed emotions.”

 

Subtly and honestly, she revealed a fear she had as a young girl of someone unknown force coming over and changing her way of life.

 

The New York Times article from June 1950 provided a blatant propagandistic statement about Russia’s accountability in the war: “…if North Koreans had Russian support…they could over-run the South with comparative ease. That would bring Communist forces to within 100 miles of the United States flank in Japan and raise grave new problems in connection with the precarious western position in Asia…North Korea’s declaration of war was ‘probably the next step of Soviet Russia to dominate Korea, Japan and probably the whole Far East.'”

 

The Korean Embassy in Washington was implementing fear as it provided reasoning behind the war itself; it was offered as common sense for readers. Whether speculation or manipulation, propaganda is incredibly simple and hides in plain sight.

 

 Propaganda affected my young grandparents and still operates today in the same minuscule manner. Yet it carries a walloping affect when looked at from a historical perspective.

 

 This 1950 article was blaming Russia for using “force of arms” “to intervene in a peaceful situation—yet in 2006 The Washington Post delivers a different truth.

 

 The Washing Post article said “a letter from the U.S. ambassador inform[ed] the State Department that U.S. soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines. That letter—dated the day of the Army’s mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950—is the strongest indication yet hat such a policy existed for all U.S. forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the U.S. government.”

 

Intentions can be skewed by time and place, but as the U.S. held Russia “accountable” for violence, our higher military was involved in plans to enact violence.

 

It is invaluable to have a free press that can publish stories relating such negative news about our country’s actions in the past so that we can look at wars from all angles and learn to uncover the whispering killer that is propaganda. My grandparents may not have been aware of the underlying messages of fear and deception, but they knew in their hearts they didn’t want the violence. 

 

[The NY Times archived article:http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F50D16FD3D5C127A93C7AB178DD85F448585F9%5D

…the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives -Antonio Guterres

I was only in Ouanaminthe for a week, and my heart was broken by the tragic poverty—there are about 280,000 internally displaced persons living in Haitian camps, so says the UNHCR. Go ahead and look up photos of the tent cities in Port au-Prince…the problem seems insurmountable. 

 

Complicating Haiti’s dire situation is the virtual lack of political infrastructure and trade or industry footing…in other words the fledging semi-presidential cannot funnel aid efforts efficiently. The ministry I went to Haiti with was trying to get their clinic trailers declared as aid to skip the skyscraper high taxes for over two years…all the while Haitians are dying of scrapes and diarrhea due to lack of basic health care resources.

 

Syrian refugees come in at over 900,000…it’s almost unimaginable about where these people will be placed let alone how to improve the situation in a lasting way.

 

Voice of America struck a chord of optimism in me. It mentioned the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is an organization not affiliated with any political body and operates on promoting human equality as it works to make media aware of the humanitarian crisis that is the Syrian refugee situation.

 

It is nongovernmental organizations like this that must survive and flourish if there is a chance of bettering the situation of the refugees who are fleeing to areas that are completely ill equipped to give them any sort of leg to stand on. The Syrian refugees outnumber the citizens in Turkey now according to The New York Times. Lack of space and medical resources cripple relief efforts. It is the well-off outsider countries like us who can change things if aid operations aren’t slowed by arbitrary protocols or political agendas.

 

While Haiti’s dire situations have been brought on more by natural disaster and pestilence than civilian uprising and political upheaval like Syria, the concept for any hope of improvement is the same: unbiased, uninhibited aid that does not have to pass through bureaucracy before it reaches the able hands of the organizations that are in ground zero ready to save lives and work for a more stable long run.

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment—Ansel Adams

 Kerry has been cruising on a six-stop Asian road trip, the last stop of which was Indonesia. He’s on a tear against devastating climate change, with curbing carbon emission as his short-term focus. I looked at a few articles, and both covered the basics: the biggest emitters are China, then US, then Indonesia & Indonesia is in deep quite literally as rising sea level, inherent to climate change, threatens to wreck their fishing industry.

 I think this news item is extremely important, but sadly there is little development past “talk” since I first started reading about cap and trade versus taxing of carbon emissions over three years ago.  High-ups talk and attend environmentally focused summits and conferences—or not attend in Obama’s case, who missed the Cancun and Rio summits—but as far as legislation that will actually combat or curb climate change, it is almost impossible to see it at a global level especially after our president has shown disinterest.

 The Voice of America article is a poignant hard news example of how coverage itself can cause discouragement to interested parties since there isn’t much to say. It was an important overview, but blasé nonetheless. Its dryness drew me to a sentence about a joint statement released by Kerry and the Chinese president: “the need for what they call urgent action to fight climate change and to work together to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

This generality, this “action to fight,” is just as uninformative as other claims about climate change measures ruminating in the political world. There is story after story about devastation from hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, but there hasn’t been footing for actual legislation because it involves messing with money—it involves prioritizing and allocation of resources.

 I just don’t believe environment is high on the agenda considering Obama’s inaction and the fact that Republicans are arguing climate change isn’t real. Both VOA and The New York Times said Kerry pointed out that 97 percent of scientists say human activity is changing the climate. We are so past differentiating between fact and fiction! As a nation, how can we hope to shape global measures if our politics are so divided on an empirical issue. 

The VOA article is an example of how mass media frames issues of great importance with the progress they make politically—if you want to actually be educated and encouraged about what is actually going on to curb or prevent climate control you are better off reading monthly magazines that will give you a detailed picture of the active community. (Rolling Stone had an excellent group of stories a couple years ago in an issue that looked at the particular companies and individuals involved as voices for the environment).

 The Times article was provided more of an analysis.  Kerry focusing on Indonesia and saying the U.S. wouldn’t be effective on our own could seem hypocritical considering we just cut clean energy in our recent budget. Yet the article makes some keen points: If developing nations actually develop, an increasing population will have increasing dependence on energy—everyone will be driving cars and accessing elective power. Indonesia’s largest emissions come from deforestation—why not build a decrease in other carbon emission now before “its growing population depends increasingly on cheap electricity from coal-fired power plants.”

Both articles stressed how huge and impactful climate change is, pointing out that Kerry likened it to a weapon of mass destruction. And the Times mentioned that he was gung-ho on pointing out the “economic stake” developing countries had in confronting the issue, which I think is a great approach to take when trying to promote policy. All this is positive.

But what made The Times article more informative for me was the specifics it went into about the initiative Kerry hoped to share with Indonesia: “reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, to promote improved technology for power grids and carbon capture, to collect and manage greenhouse gas data and to make buildings more energy efficient. A senior State Department official said the statement was noteworthy because it had been agreed on by “the two biggest emitters.”

It’s not that I haven’t read these vague, big-picture claims of “efficiency,” but that now they have been made into an event put at some sort of forefront, and we know what to watch for in the newspapers and magazines. Or it could all fall flat like the Syria talks…

Ayn Rand says “Facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears”

            “Mr. O’Reilly, sitting forward in his chair at the White House, pressed Mr. Obama repeatedly. The president, smiling but seemingly trying to keep his patience, pushed back in kind. At times the two men talked right over each other.” New York Times in it’s article covering the topics such as IRS corruption and the health care law created a two-party mindset at the start—this becomes clearer if you look at USA Today’s starting line: “People are getting ready for Sunday’s big matchup…”

 

            Today acknowledges the understood rivalry that is American politics in a lighthearted manner, sort of a “par for the course” attitude. This article doesn’t appear as biased next to the New York Times covering an interview with President Obama on Fox News. If you read the news you know that Fox is not exactly unbiased toward Obama. Just reading the headlines you can see the negativity. Then again Obama uses the word “folks” to describe the Fox News outlet repetitively, and you can sense the agitation.

           

            USA Today takes on the tone of a sideline viewer, watching the action without implying failure on either side or using verbs like “ducked” to describe how Obama answers questions like the NY Times article.

           

            If you read for content and not just writing quality, the USA Today article frames the interview in a way where the reader doesn’t have to watch the interviewer to see how high the tension was and how opposite the ideologies were. USA Today said, ‘You understand that a lot of Americans feel that you’re a big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom?’ O’Reilly told Obama at one point.”

            Obama: ‘I’ve got to give you credit — you’ve got a pretty big viewership … so you’re pretty persuasive.’” The disdain is laced with the comments and not the author’s choice of verbs.

           The NY Times article had an overall tone that implied Obama’s sheepishness and showed O’Reilly as a white knight determined to show corruption. A president is not going to admit that the internal revenue service has corruption—it is part of the job description. Humans should be asking themselves why we feed into the melodrama or the generics. We should be reading more and trying to find different points of view. The president is puppet in the end and all he has is proposals and vetoes. I am not saying I know every name of the nine justices, but I do know that I should read more and want to understand more.

 

            At the same time you have to wonder what the options are for a journalist to expose corruption without relying on a large investigative budget or comments from the opposition. Obama has a natural need in his position as the face of the country to advocate for its agencies, but at the same time, who could you ask that would expose something outside of anonymity if he or she were on the same side as Obama? Not saying he is some evil dictator, but you don’t just bad-mouth the president in the New York Times and not get fired. What I mean is, these interviews with opposite sides need to happen just as much as positive interviews, but Americans read with so much bias that when articles reinforce it, it may be more distracting than informative.

 

            NY Times was just a bit more forward with how it wanted readers to see the interview—it “told” instead of “showed”: “Mr. Obama blamed Fox for spreading what he called incorrect information.” NY Times made the point to say Obama “offered no examples” of how honorable the IRS was, while USA Today positioned the confrontation in a way where a reader could see the fierceness on both sides, saying Obama was “chuckling” as he answered O’Reilly’s question about if it disturbs him that everyone hates him.

 

            NY Times did touch more straightforward on the idea that Obama looks at the media as over critical and that perhaps this is what molds people’s minds—which I think is a very weak way to explain the lack of information dissemination and uptake across the world: “But when we’re in midstream, Bill, we want to make sure that our main focus is how do we make this thing work so that people are able sign up and that’s what we’ve done.”

 

            USA Today, for me, was bit more from the horses’ mouths while NY Times created the image of a squirming president under the eagle eye of an objective journalist.

I can tell that we are gonna be friends

Philip Boit, Kenya’s first athlete in the 1998 Winter Olympics, has been made a celebrity of sorts by BBC—but if you can find the story that mentions him in The Guardian, headline “Olympic Committee aims to bar wild cards,” you can see he is looked at in a very different light. It is BBC that names Boit as the first Kenyan Winter Olympics athlete, The Guardian calls him “the Kenyan skier unfamiliar with snow.”

BBC interviewed Boit for their Sport Witness program that it says provides “inside and personal story of key moments from sporting history.” The first two thirds of the January 23 article has a lighthearted tone as it discusses how Boit became familiar with snow and even laughed at himself when he fell a bunch in training in Norway. He is praised for his vision and perseverance: “Some pundits said Nike was using Boit as a “marketing pawn,” but he quickly excelled at this tough endurance sport.”  He is honored by the article’s eager tone as it discusses Boit’s future participation in the Winter Olympics.

The overall celebration of world cooperation that is the Olympics is reflected in the article. Boit is associated with Norwegian icon Bjorn Daehlie, an excellent cross-country skier, who expresses hope for Boit. Acknowledging the historical aspect of this situation is positive in a time of tension and anxiety over the Russian venue of the Winter Olympics, no?

The Guardian has a harsher tone as it discusses athletes they frame as ones who only contribute to the “renegade fun” of the Olympics—it focuses on the IOC wanting to minimize participation of athletes reflective of the likes Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards who did not excel in the ski jump at the ’98 Winter Olympics or “Eric “the Eel” Moussambani, who swam one of the slowest races in Olympic history at Sydney.”

             The Guardian uses pessimistic phrases like “put an end to” participation in games that bring the world together—the athletes don’t come within seconds of the others so how could they possibly be worth encouraging and celebrating? Interestingly, IOC president said about “the Eel’s” race: “The public loved it, but I didn’t like it.” The article poses that these athletes besmirch the purity of the games as a showcase for pristine athleticism.

Is there not a larger picture to the methodology of the games themselves? It is a series of events revolving from one side of the world to the other can only do more to add cohesiveness to media coverage and broaden public perspectives. If the public is willing to rejoice over diversity, then I say that’s a win.