AUB Cats

IMAG0814IMAG0815A daily scene: AUB Cats having breakfast :’)

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Deception At Its Best – Part II

In 2003, the sudden assault of the United States of America on Iraq and its invasion left the world perplexed. As time passed by, errors committed by the U.S.’s troops and leadership began to multiply and political scandals surfaced. President George W. Bush clearly stated that the mission was to ‘disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction’ (Bush, 2003). Eventually no WMD were found, but the U.S. did manage to disarm Iraq of two things: its petroleum and its stability. After a short historical background and without morally judging and politically analyzing this war, let us focus on what concerns us the most: media coverage of the events that occurred. Newspapers and T.V. shows backed the government during practically the whole invasion and occupation by depicting the military intervention as a chance for Iraq to get rid of its violent and tyrant regime and prosper in a peaceful and democratic environment (La Londe, 2005, p.34-36). While reports were showing previous massacres and bloodshed that had occurred under the regime of Saddam Hussein to justify the war, none were focusing on the countless number of civilian casualties actually caused by it.

The previous passage explained how media was disregarding events and taking sides. In this one, things get even worse. The powers vested in media allow it to twist and hide facts; the attempt on the audience’s freedom and rights in that case is striking and shameful. During one of the numerous air strikes on the rebel Iraqi city of Falluja, several locals were killed; most of them were innocent civilians. It seems that that particular attack was massive and acute and the scene on the ground wasn’t pretty. The shocking part of the story is that in the aftermath of the air strike, American officials made no formal statement and adopted a concealment attitude. In the New York Times – one of the U.S.’s leading newspaper – figured the following: ‘Earlier in the afternoon, 10 separate plumes of smoke rose from southern Falluja, as if etched against the desert sky, and probably exclaiming catastrophe for the insurgents (Filkins & Worth, 2004, parag.2). At the same time, BBC and Reuters reporters firmly asserted that lifeless bodies lay on the streets (La Londe, 2005, p.34-36).

There is much more to the previous statements than a simple contradiction. We’re not approximating the number of participants in a marathon for errors and imprecisions to be tolerated. The poetic and literary description of the air strike by the NY Times is fraudulent and dangerous. Had I been a loyal reader of only this particular newspaper, the event would have had a minor – if any – importance for me. Simplifying facts and exploiting the audience’s ignorance or lack of acquaintance is an intellectual crime by itself. The government might or might not have influenced or exerted pressure on the writers of the NY Times article, but one thing is clear: the information has been twisted and the audience has been misled.

Kris Abi Nassif a.k.a. Abi Nassevil

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Deception At Its Best – Part I

Okay I know it’s been a long time since I last posted here, but AUB work is taking more time than i thought.

This is the first part of my English class midterm paper; I think it’s quite interesting so I felt like sharing it.

The following abstract introduces the paper. Enjoy !

Abstract

Nobody can deny or neglect neither the ever-growing power of media nor its broad influence on modern societies. It inevitably affects the way people perceive and react to everyday issues and events. What this essay attempts to do is highlight the way media deceives and manipulates its audience when dealing with certain sensitive topics, notably wars and politics, by providing and analyzing real-life examples and situations. How to fight back and face that deception constitutes another issue the essay deals with.

Deception At Its Best

          It’s safe to claim that it has been several decades since the world started to witness a titanic, boundless invasion. Although no territories were occupied, no physical injuries were inflicted and no weapons were employed, losses turned out to be severe; what the invader managed to accomplish brilliantly is the infiltration into and the detriment of our most paramount asset: our ability to observe, think, analyze, judge and react. The fierce conqueror has neither a typical identity nor a specific nationality and many express their shock and dismay once they figure out that it is none other than the media, in its traditional and contemporary forms. Indeed, the global community has talked extensively about the positive impact that media has had on us but has failed to accurately highlight its ‘dark side’: v by exposing facts and analyzing events the way it wants especially those happening in zones of turmoil and political instability. The coverage of the American war on Iraq, turns of events in Lebanon, the Syrian crisis and many more are flagrant examples and proof that the media isn’t that angelic after all.

 media-spoonfeeding

     ‘Media can infiltrate and affect our thoughts and perceptions’

           Let us base what comes next on one of the main characteristics of media: it operates under the principle of ‘one to many’, its outputs being available to a large number of recipients (Thompson, 1995). This conspicuous fact gives the media its dangerous aspect since news that circulates in it is easily transmitted to audiences around the globe regardless of the accuracy or transparency of the broadcasted message. Therefore, situations ranging from unintentional mistakes to the deliberate propagation of lies and false analysis could have a devastating effect especially when they collide with the audience’s beliefs and expectations or even worse, when they create, shape or alter them. The latter scenario interests us the most.

          So far we have been blaming the media for being irresponsible and potentially a partner in the process of manipulating viewers’ or listeners’ ways of thinking and reacting. However, keeping in mind that media is human-made is essential; it is not media as an entity that manipulates, but those behind it. The essence of the issue lies here: somebody is using mass communication in its different forms to impose points of views, brainwash the audience, emphasize certain statements and events, twist facts, or simply hide them. We don’t see that in a National Geographic documentary about whales or in a History Channel program about the Mayan civilization, but we extensively do notice this strategy – that is unfortunately efficient – in crucial political topics mainly related to public and foreign policy, public administration, elections and warfare.

Kris Abi Nassif a.k.a. Abi Nassevil

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[I do not own the picture]

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And He Made His Piano Cry

He was alone.

Nothing, no one but himself and the fading moonlight that has always been for him his nocturnal inspiration.

However that night, the light was cruel ..

Everything was cruel ..

It was like he had reached the bottom of despair.

His mind was paralysed, completely ruined.

His body was suffering, his heart was cracking.

He did not find thoughts to share, he did not find words to speak.

But even if he did, he was too busy preventing himself from depression to think of sharing a thought or saying a word.

And once deceived by his body and his state of mind, he realized everything left in him was his soul.

It had never disappointed nor hurt him before.

So slowly, carefully, he forced himself to move ..

To reach the unique place where he could listen to what his soul wanted to tell him.

And yes, he sat in front of his piano ..

For all these years, he had shared memories with this thing..

This living thing.

Moments of joy or sorrow, of anger or extreme hollow.

The link between them started to form.

And with one, careful, precise movment; with one magical touch; he launched his soul’s screaming melody.

It raped the silence of the night.

Terrified, he found out it was dying too.

Certainly, he was still breathing, his heart was still beating, but deep inside, he was dying ..

He carried on ..

God his melody was beautiful !

Sometimes great sorrow fives birth to great beauty ..

He closed his eyes, he touched his keys again and again ..

His soul came whispering again and again ..

Here, in the middle of the night, with a strange glimmer coming in from the window, we could have touched his soul.

Perhaps that was the only thing that could have calmed his body ..

Perhaps that was the only act that could have appeased his spirit ..

But I know one thing ..

I know that he did not want to cry that night ..

He did not have to cry, nor need to cry that night ..

For that night, he made his piano cry .. That was enough. 

[I do not own the picture]

Kris Abi Nassif a.k.a Abinassevil

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Jeunesse Libanaise ou Paralysie Partielle – Partie 1

This time it’s in French, just for a change. Enjoy.

Nous baignons tous dans un fleuve dont les eaux changent en permanence.
Héraclite.

 

Cette pensée datant de plus de deux millénaires pourrait sans doute résumer la réalité des choses et rester toujours valable, quels que soient les scenarios envisageables. Elle fait appel au flair politique et à la capacité de réflexion de tout un chacun puisqu’en réalité le défi serait d’être perpétuellement alerte, sachant que tout changement qui passe inaperçu pourrait entrainer quelconque le long de ce fleuve tel un courant invisible et l’expulser, tout comme un torrent, dans les eaux sombres de l’ignorance, de l’indifférence et de la manipulation.

Lorsqu’on se tourne donc vers la société Libanaise, c’est l’état de la jeunesse, qualifié de quasi lamentable pour sa plupart qui nous saute aux yeux. Les prises de conscience personnelles qui, idéalement, devraient s’établir ne le font malheureusement pas.

En effet, tombée entre les empoignades flagrantes et quelques fois ridicules opposant les partis politiques d’une part, et les illusions créées afin de convaincre l’opinion publique que l’on progresse d’une autre, la jeunesse se trouve partiellement paralysée. Dans un pays où ils ne sont pas formés  à posséder un esprit critique sain vis-à-vis de ce qui se passe autour d’eux ou pire encore, sont malformés et mal orientés, les jeunes, chargés d’effectuer les réformes ou au moins de les initier,  se trouvent souvent oubliés  et incapables d’accomplir leur tâche. L’absence d’une législation précisant clairement le mécanisme et les méthodes par lesquelles devraient agir les partis politiques rend la situation plus périlleuse encore puisque ces organisations ont besoin après tout de « sang nouveau » pour assurer leur continuité et veulent aveuglement grandir en nombre. C’est donc ici que se rencontrent les promesses illusionnaires et l’inexpérience de la jeunesse pour créer cet atmosphère de manipulation et d’abus des capacités des jeunes. Ces derniers seraient tombés victimes de la situation politique libanaise alors qu’ils devraient constituer la ‘conscience morale’ de tout parti politique et non ses lignes de confrontation directe.

Les jeunes protestent, pour des causes qu’ils ignorent souvent.

L’histoire nous montre clairement que la jeunesse libanaise et son intégration et participation active dans les mouvements populaires ont été cruciales dans le développement et la survie de tout un peuple, de tout un pays. L’indépendance arrachée de 1943 et les révoltes continues de 1990 jusqu’à 2005 en sont une preuve flamboyante. Ce n’est qu’une jeunesse innovatrice, éveillée et indépendante de tout leader et de toute idéologie non flexible qui pourrait faire vibrer le cœur même de la société. On aimerait bien se débarrasser du vieux « si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait » et atteindre un certain stade où l’on pourrait se retourner et fièrement noter que la jeunesse libanaise sait et peut. Les opinions de cette dernière seront donc à considérer, ses actes à observer, son engagement  à  imiter et mieux encore, sa révolte sur elle-même et sur la  situation politique actuelle à prévoir…

Sit-in du 31 Octobre 2002 contre la presence Syrienne sur le territoire Libanais.

[I do not own the pictures]

Kris Abi Nassif a.k.a. Abinassevil

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Diversification of Commodity Based Economies

This was part of a project I worked really hard on ; it’s about Ukraine even though its content could apply pretty much everywhere .. If you’re into economics, this post will surely interest you. Enjoy !

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It’s obvious that every single country, whether rich or poor, developed or developing, categorically needs to work up and improve its commodity based economies in order to boost its overall trade, and eventually its entire economy. Therefore, diversifying those types of economies is a crucial step in the process of development. Ukraine has already experienced the danger of absence of diversification several times those last few years, mainly when the prices of steel – top export – varied unexpectedly worldwide (decline in industrial output and 14.1 % reduction of GDP especially between 2008 and early 2010). Consequently, the variation in prices of commodities might easily and suddenly engender an economical recession. In order to face this kind of potential economical disequilibrium, diversifying commodity based economies is an important step for countries to take, while being aware, however, of the challenges this diversification brings about. [International requirements – Tariffs – Subsidies – Fiscal policies …]

Ukraine understands that its rich and abundant resources, its strong industrial base, and its well-educated and well-trained labor, if combined with an appropriate economical policy, could turn the country into an effective powerhouse. This is why, since 1991, the Ukrainian governments have been making a series of reforms and legislations to improve commodity based economies by fighting corruption, helping small and medium commodity-producing enterprises, investing in new and undeveloped types of commodity productions, eliminating most tax and custom privileges and setting future economical plans. Moreover, the government is counting on the participation of the private sector in the development of those types of economies. The UMEX [Ukrainian Mercantile Commodity Future Exchange], for instance, aims to facilitate the trade and exchange of commodities.

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Being convinced that the international community and the regional entourage play a major role, Ukraine has joined the World Trade Organization in 2008, participated in the Geneva Round and co-founded the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank. Ukraine has also ratified several trade agreements based on commodities with more than 140 countries and is working on constantly improving its foreign trade ties.

“Multilateralism should prevail over bilateral and plurilateral format” – Valeriy Piatnytskiy, Deputy Minister of Economy during the seventh WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva. Ukraine believes indeed that the widest cooperation possible between countries is the ultimate way to diversify commodity based economies and develop the global economy. By “keeping up the pace of the Doha dialogue”, “energetically seeking ways to narrow down the remaining gaps in negotiations” as well as by distributing the GDP across ALL sectors and lowering the economic concentration, nations will find their economy ameliorated and more diverse, thus more stable and prosperous … Isn’t that the main goal after all ?

[I do not own the pictures]

Kris Abi Nassif a.k.a. Abinassevil

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Using Your Instincts

Hello folks, this is my first post on this blog and I felt the need to share one of the most important lessons learned from my 17 year-old life.

Well, consider yourself standing 11 meters away from a line. That line is not just a simple line. That line is a mega-multi-million dollar line. That line will give you the status of hero if you succeed or zero if you don’t. How to succeed ? Just kick the ball past the poor goalie helplessly defending his 7.32 meters in width and 2.44 meters in height target. Surely you’ll score ! What are the chances you’ll miss the target ? what are the chances the goalie will guess the right way ? if he somehow does, what are the chances he’ll know if you’re shooting high or low ? if he also somehow does,  what are the chances the ball won’t slip through his hands and just hit the net ? For a spectator lying on his comfortable sofa in a bedroom cooled by cutting-edge air-conditioning technology watching you through a TV thousands of miles away it would be a piece of cake. And yet for you my friend, there’s nothing comfortable in every fan’s roar in the stadium, 6 billion people waiting impatiently for your next move and the sweat streaming down your face. But you’ve been waiting your whole life for this moment, failure is not an option, you shall use superhuman thinking capacity to determine the part of the ball you are going to hit, the side of the goal you are going to aim, the move the goalkeeper will make, every single detail there is.

And as you step up to shoot, you lose your footing, the ball flies over, you rue the missed opportunity and you  realize that you missed an important part of the equation.

How to take into account every single part of this equation ? The answer is simply… There is no equation. I assure you that having arrived at this stage you must be no pushover, you must be an experienced professional and I would put 1000$ on you scoring 10 penalties in a row on the training field. And now you must wonder what’s the difference between the training field and the fully packed stadium. The difference lies in you. The process of scoring a penalty is well-integrated in your well-trained body and mind. All you had to do is BELIEVE in your instincts(not your thinking ability), step up and place the ball where it is supposed to be.

This is a recurrent experience in everybody’s life, should it be during college entrance exam, minutes before appearing on the stage or whatever the event may be even with sometimes months of training. So whenever you experience this feeling of pressure and self-doubt just close your eyes, take a breather and as renowned author Brian Koslow once said

“Be willing to trust your instincts, especially if you cannot find answers elsewhere.”

Some of you know this example is reminiscent of the famous John Terry penalty miss in the Champions League final. This is a video of the miss:John Terry champions league penalty miss

A.Mrad

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