Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weekly Report 7

Noami Shihab Nye is an author well known among other authors both in the United States and in the Middle East. She has written novels, essays, and poems, so many poems that he has filled books with them. In her work, she addressed many topics, one of which is being biracial. She was actually born to an American mother and a Palestinian father, and while she had a rather adventurous life, traveling from place to place, she yearned to stay in one place and have a “boring life.” Her works are good and inspirational for anybody who is biracial, especially those who are Arab Americans, as it helps people to cope and not be confused as to whether or not focus on one culture or language, and not feel alienated in any of the two cultures. She says that it is advantageous to be in the middle as she can learn from both cultures. She does not tell the people to try to identify with both cultures, but says that it can be okay to stand apart and observe the good and the bad of each. She paid a lot of attention to the community both in her town of St. Louis and also abroad, as in her later poems she portrays a negative and frustrated undertone as she speaks of the war and all the hardships of the people over there. On the other hand, some of her newer poems were also more positive in that she tried to encourage people to protect the small business and boycott the large corporations. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Weekly Report 8

Alaa Al Aswany was born in Cairo to a very liberal family in 1957. He ended up being a very known and respected author and journalist in his adulthood. He is very well off considering while he writes, he also occasionally practices dentistry. He was known to protest against the British and more recently protest in Tahir Square against the government that was in place. Even more recently, he went on national television to talk to the man who was at that time the Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik. Aswany
had noticed Shafik evading certain questions and wanted to get real answers. Aswany asked Shafik questions about what happened in Tahir Square, the people who were killed, and those who were permanently blinded - some 1200 people -, to which Shafik got defensive and started yelling. The journalist and the Prime Minister got into what became an internationally recognized heated argument. Soon after, Shafik resigned. This is very good because later Shafik was caught having ties to the previous authoritarian president, so he may have ended up being a dictator and leading Egypt to ruin.

Aswany has written many stories and articles about the revolution and the participators. These works have inspired those participating and inspired more people to join the cause. He does not allow the government to pay him off but instead writes about exactly what is wrong with the government and it's army, which he used to respect but has long since stopped respecting it because of its actions. One of Aswany's comentators said, "He thinks he should be critical of society and should try to change it."

Reference article:

Weekly Report 6

The article (cited below) speaks about what president Obama and US congress have been doing about the war in Syria. Apparently, The CIA has had a great amount of ideas that may have helped stop or weaken the war in Syria (50), however, Obama vetoed them all. Those ideas included both respectable and sly ideas, such as paying someone close to the leader to get rid of him for example. One may think that Obama just doesn't want to get too involved with what is happening in Syria and risk infuriating one of the leaders, especially since he did not retaliate after the attack near Damascus. This, however, would not be good considering the fact that Obama has implied to the rebels that he would help them against Asaad, but if this suspicion is true, then he won't actually be able to help them as much as they need. It means that the rebels could advance and do things they normally would not, such as attacking certain bases or people, thinking that they have the US support when they actually do not. That can cause a great amount of casualties that are unneeded. A man named Douglas Laux was part of the team that came up with the ideas and said that if those plans were implemented, then the rebels would have a much higher chance of toppling the Asaad regime, they might have even done it already. Later on though, after his retirement from the CIA, he said that looking back, the plans may not have stopped the war after all. Personally, I think they they may have helped if anything, you know know until you try it.

Weekly Blog 1

What is happening in Syria is a true tragedy of massive proportions. There is currently a civil war waging between those who support the government (be it for believing in their actions or for fear of what the government could do to them and their families), and the rebels who do not agree with the government. The death count is rising quicker by the day, and the bloodshed does not seem to be anywhere near its end. Even the use of chemical weapons has been documented. So far, the UN has counted more than 250,000 deaths because of the conflict and more than 4.5 million civilians have fled the country to others looking for refuge. Life is especially difficult for those still living within Syrian borders. According to BBC’s data, “about 70% of the population is without access to adequate drinking water, one in three people are unable to meet their basic food needs, and more than 2 million children are out of school, and four out of five people live in poverty. “ This means that not only is the present for the country in ruins, but the future is crumbling down too as more children are malnourished and uneducated. Even the government is not acting how a government should – it is dropping bombs and using military force on the civilians who will not take up arms to defend their cause. One would think, with the government doing this that nobody would ever defend it, but Russia, Iraq, and Iran have all been reportedly aiding the Syrian government forces with money and weapons. Many other countries, however, like the US, France, and the UK have aided the rebels. Those and many others have invited refugees, especially Turkey with 2 million refugees and Lebanon with one.

Reflection 5

The Isreal-Palestine conflict has been going on for decades because of land and power. I find this absolutely ridiculous and that in 2016 people should not be fighting over a little bit of land when so many people are being hurt by the effects. I believe one way the leaders of Isreal and Palestine could resolve this conflict would be to swallow their pride, stop trying to live in the past (as both groups say they have rights to the land for different reasons), and join together to form one country. The leaders that are there now could join up and rule all the land together, stopping the fighting and deaths, while being able to build the country rather than destroy it, build walls, and have the citizens suffer. Personally, I believe the Palestineans should own the land as they were there first, and the Jews went there for refuge, but that is just me, a white man from the U.S. However, I feel that the best way to solve with without having one side lose completely, is to have them merge forces and rule together, effectively creating a new and more diverse country. That way, nobody would have to give up land, but instead, just share it in peace. We are no longer in the 19th century with greedy rulers fighting over land, we should not be doing it. I simply do not see the logic of it and it frustrates me, especially when people are growing up with terrible lives and not even realizing it because that is what they are used to, like poor Ms. Carol's family and friends in Palestine. The only thing people should be arguing about is the trading of goods and services, technology, and that stuff. Not land. If the two countries merged, they would be able to share the land and its resources so that as one country they would make double the profits, and they would be able to focus on the important things like healthcare and technology. Instead, they're spending so much money on things like walls, border bombs

Reflection 4

On this day, a man named Dr. Boukhar came to class. He talked all about terrorism and cleared up many questions and opened our minds to the truth about terrorism and where it comes from. Many people believe that terrorism sprouts from the religion, and that Islam promotes that and that is where they get all of their motivation. However, terrorism from the Middle East has many different causes, including the United States foreign policy. The United States invading the area definitely was a push that people needed to get angry. The terrorists who claim to be doing the damage for the religion are actually extremists, like the KKK or the Westboro Church in the US. They do not represent all Muslims. What is especially interesting is that Dr. Boukhar told us that most, if not all, of the terrorists are not actually true Muslims, nor do they know much about the religion. They shun the religion of their parents, which is the true and peaceful Islam, and shun how society conforms to rules and the government. Dr. Boukhar told us how the terrorists even have books like Islam For Dummies, which shows that they have been so brainwashed by the leaders who are the actual Islam extremists who just use the young people's insecurities to control them. All of the terrorists are just young people being used by the few older leaders who are educated and know what they want - an anarchist society, which would never work in reality.

Reflection 3

The drumming session given in the Forum was very interesting and entertaining. Honestly, I feel like most of the time, if not all of the time, they were just winging it because most of the time the music that one was playing did not match what the other was playing, and also, the guy who was dancing kept looking at the musicians as if he was thinking, "What in the world, how am I supposed to dance to something that does not have rhythm?" However, when they did find rhythm, it was very good and people even started singing. I particular enjoyed the part where the man started rapping about peace and his generation, it was an eye opener about current culture. I also liked to watch the short guy dance. He told us how he and his mother used to dance after she taught him. His form of dancing is very energetic as he jumps and hops about, swinging his arms in wide arcs. It is wonderful because many people, especially here in the US, contain themselves when they dance. This causes them to look very calm and almost boring. This guy's dancing however, was very free and happy, it was obvious that he did not care what people thought of him or how he danced, he just let the music flow through him like a river, he translated those beats into movements which brightened everyone's days. Many people might see that and say things like, I do not have the energy to do that, or, I ache when I move a lot like that. I however know from personal experience that no matter how much pain you are in, if a song comes on that you absolutely love and you let yourself flow with the music, the movements will come natural and the pain will almost go away. My personal experience was when I hurt my legs so badly to the point where every little movement felt like my skin was ripping. However, one day a friend came and put my favorite song. He told me not to dance as I might hurt myself, but I could not control the desire to move and dance, so I got up and danced until that and the next song finished. During those moments it was as if I had been given new life, and new legs. The pain had temporarily subsided because of my joy. From then on, I understood the power of music, dance, and happiness. That is how I felt personally moved by the dancing man at the concert, it reminded me of that day.