Alternative Facts

Alternative facts have first been used by Donald Trumps close aide Kellyanne Conway, who was addressing Donald Trump’s controversial declaration that his presidential inaugural ceremony was attended by the largest audience in history not just in America but throughout presidential inaugurations around the world.

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A notion which was not true as pictures taken of the inauguration showed there weren’t as many people as president Trump claimed to have attended.

 

Conway continued to defend the administration’s position by claiming they presented an “alternative facts” different to the information conveyed by the media (al Jazeera, 2017)

A few weeks later Conway was again at the Centre of a new controversy. The president has signed an executive order banning the citizens from seven Muslim-majority states from entering the United States.

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In an attempt to justify the ban Conway has pointed to two Iraqi men who were behind “the Bowling Green massacre” which she insisted was not covered by the media. The event she implied to of course never happened and the trump administration was mocked for their alternative truths

The concept was also recently used by the Philippines government in the United Nations, after reports that the Philippino security forces have killed thousands of people without trial at the orders of president Duterte who ordered the police and army to end the drug use in the Philippines. The Philippino representative claimed that reports of extrajudicial; killings were based on “alternative facts” and that the media fabricated those stories with no evidence. (CNN, 2017)

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On the other hand the concept (not the name) of alternative facts predates Trump and Duterte, back to the days of the Nazi regime Hitler used the media to propagate his lies and propaganda to the German people, and fast forward in the twenty-first century, the American and British governments misinformed the public on Iraq’s non-existent links with al-Qaida and nuclear weapons. As the Chilcot report concluded that “there was no imminent threat” from Saddam Hussein and the intelligence was not justified. (BBC, 2016)

President Trump has had uneasy relations with the American media as they often questioned his motives and promises. However the president knows that much of the American public already believe the media to be biased and works only for the interest of few individuals and corporations

therefore by portraying himself as the one who is giving alternative, different perspective to that of the “corrupted” media, helps him find someone to blame for the mistakes he continuously makes.

 

Bibliography

 

Al Jazeera (2017) Trump aide mocked for fake ‘Bowling Green massacre’

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/trump-aide-mocked-bowling-green-massacre-lie-170203150255194.html

BBC (2016) Chilcot report: Tony Blair’s Iraq War case not justified

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36712735

CNN (2017) Philippines to UN: Reports of extrajudicial killings based on ‘alternative facts’

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/09/asia/philippines-war-on-drugs-alternative-facts/

Cuba’s Soft Power

Cuba is a Caribbean island which has been under American commercial, economic and financial embargo since 1958.

The American sanctions have made life difficult for average Cubans, although the embargo was aimed at isolating Cuba’s government from the rest of the world which was hoped would lead to the collapse of the Castro regime.

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However, Cuba’s communist government made many friends throughout Latin America and is respected by much of the world for its role in international humanitarian aid, particularly in the medical area

Cuba has recently been acting as a mediator to end some of Latin America’s longest wars such as the Columbian conflict between the FARC and the Colombian government which has lasted for decades and caused the deaths of thousands of people.

At the end of 2016, the Columbian government and the Farc rebels have signed a peace deal, Cuba has taken an important role to end the conflict and has offered scholarship opportunities for over a thousand Columbians to study in Cuba’s world leading medical institution “Cuba has offered Colombia 1,000 medical school scholarships to support a peace accord in which the South American country’s largest rebel army will relinquish its weapons, officials announced on Thursday” (Associated Press, 2017)

Cuban-Doctors

For decades Cuba has sent its doctors to corners of the world, to who treat people for free, there are more than “51,000 Cuban doctors around the world” the bulk of them are in developing nations who are in dire need of medical aid as they do not have enough doctors to take care of the health needs of their population. (The Huffington Post)

On the other hand some argue that Cuba’s aim is not about humanitarianism but a way to get hard cash since the island nation faces a shortage of cash as a result of the American embargo “The goal is to earn hard currency and advance other financial goals of the regime while gaining influence, prestige, legitimacy, and sympathy abroad” (World Affairs Journal, 2013)

Former president of the United States Barrack Obama has taken steps to restore relations between the two nations before he left power, this was welcomed by much of the international community.

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In conclusion whether Cuba exports its doctors to get political leverage and financial gains or not, the Cuban doctors have had profound positive impact on many patients throughout the developing nations, people who would not have been able to get operations such as eye surgeries for the partially blinded, that have successfully restored the vision of many patients throughout Africa and Asia. This free generosity by the Cuban government has undoubtedly made the US embargo on Cuba very unpopular with other states.

 

Bibliography

 

Associated Press (2017) Cuba offers Colombia 1,000 medical school scholarships
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/cuba-offers-colombia-1000-medical-school-scholarships/2017/03/16/4bdc91b0-0a84-11e7-bd19-fd3afa0f7e2a_story.html?utm_term=.4c5d9a17b786

The Huffington Post    Cuba’s Soft Power: Exporting Doctors Rather Than Revolution
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/cubas-soft-power-exportin_b_355373.html

World Affairs Journal (2013) Cuba’s Health-Care Diplomacy: The Business of Humanitarianism

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/cuba%E2%80%99s-health-care-diplomacy-business-humanitarianism

President Trumps effective media communication strategy

Post 9/11 mainstream media has been filled with fear mongering about “the other”. Part of this was not the fault of the news channels as we have seen the setbacks and challenges that have come with globalisation and the increase of terrorist activities throughout the world.

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However it is undeniable fact that the corporate media’s such as Fox News have targeted immigrants and minorities (often misleading the public and exaggerating issues such as terrorism) and focusing specifically on the Muslim faith and Muslim extremist groups while at the same time giving less or no platform to the figures in that community who represent the vast majority of Muslims that abhor terrorism and extremism that are done in the name of their faith.

After indulging years of misinformation regarding Muslims and immigrants in general, much of the American electorates have gone further to the right and in the right moment, candidate Trump seized the opportunity to portray himself as the voice of the alt-right, giving hope to the steelworker whose job will in reality never return and the disillusioned voter who is tired of old politics.

GG-terror_v5(Greenwald, 2015, The Intercept)

In reality, positive messages or messages that are based on the notion that, we should do good don’t get as much attention as messages of fear and division, after all, fear sells. Therefore the millions of Americans who have been taught to be scared of the “other” for decades have finally found a candidate who says publically what they had in mind.

“The truth is that in politics as in everyday life, the message that we should do good is often less powerful a motivator of human action and behavior than the message that we should avoid harm” (Campbell-Rodriques, 2017, The New Times)

Evaluating Trumps win through the old ways such as scheduling and polling is just lazy and wrong. Trump won because he had a better communication strategy than the rest of the GOP candidates and Hillary, especially his use of social medias such as twitter has helped him immensely, by tweeting things that normal politicians simply would not, has made him seem like an ordinary person who speaks out their thoughts rather than a politician who filter their statements.

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when it comes to social media all candidates were involved but what put Donald trump above others was his unconventional techniques, he was able to get far more responses from social; media users as shown by the above research done by The Pew Research Centre in 2016.

According to a 2016 survey by GALLUP showed that American public’s trust of the media has dropped to an all-time low

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Furthermore, the public’s trust of mainstream media has substantially diminished in recent years with “nearly 42 percent” of the public not bothering to watch political ads (something the Clinton campaign spent heavily on) therefore Trumps often outrageous and continued statements made much of the public to pay more attention to his twitter account directly. (Khan, 2016, the Hill)

Donald Trump exploited his already established brand identity and celebrity name to “attract attention”, something the Clinton campaign did not have. The Clinton name is a powerful brand but not as appealing, many people disliked political decisions Hillary and President Clinton have made over their long political careers, while trump, on the other hand, was associated with entertainment. (Rivero, 2016, the Washington Post)

Although on the surface the mainstream media and trump do not have good relationship, Trump is a rating Phenom for the media because he is so unpredictable that he can for a minute talk sensible and the next refuse to shake hands with the German chancellor, and this unpredictability, gives the media ratings boost as ordinary Americans are suddenly interested in what the president is up to. (Sillito, 2016, BBC)

Throughout the campaign trump spent less than half of the $200 million Clinton spent on TV ads, instead the trump campaign spent much of their time and money on social media mainly on Facebook which has generated them over $250 million in online fundraising. According to Brad Parscale digital director for the trump campaign, Facebook and twitter were the main reason they won the election, that “twitter for Mr. Trump and Facebook for fundraising” (Lapowsky, 2016, WIRED)

Furthermore, Trump still got over $2 billion worth of free TV as television networks broadcasted his campaign speeches thoroughly.

To conclude Trump’s unconventional ways of communication has clearly resonated with his supporters won him the presidency and has changed conventional communication methods between American politicians and the public forever.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Campbell-Rodriques, Natalie (2017) Strategic Communication: lessons from President Trump – The New Times Rwanda

http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2017-02-22/208248/

Greenwald, Glenn (2015) The Greatest Obstacle to Anti-Muslim fearmongering and Bigotry: Reality – The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2015/06/24/greatest-obstacle-anti-muslim-fear-mongering-bigotry-reality/

Khan, Laeeq (2016) Trump won thanks to social media – The Hill

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/technology/306175-trump-won-thanks-to-social-media

Lapowsky, Issie. (2016) Here’s How Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency – WIRED

https://www.wired.com/2016/11/facebook-won-trump-election-not-just-fake-news/

Pew Research Centre (2016)

http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/18/candidates-differ-in-their-use-of-social-media-to-connect-with-the-public/pj_2016-07-18_election-2016_2-02/

Rivero, Cristina. (2016) How marketing helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/trump-campaign-marketing/

Sillito, David. (2016) Donald Trump: How the media created the president – BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-37952249

Swift, Art (2016) Americas’ trust in Mass Media Sinks to new Low – GALLUP

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ira-kalb/five-reasons-trumps-commu_b_10188374.html

The Role of Social Media in the Arab spring

The Arab Spring was a protest movement that swept through much of the Middle East and North Africa, this movement was largely spearheaded by the youths of these countries, who were protesting in order to overthrow the dictatorships they lived under and to find freedom, prosperity, and democracy.

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Social movements have existed for a long time and people used different forms of dissent to show their disaffection with their governments and continue to be the “levers of social change” (Manuel Castells, 2015, P218).

However in the 21st century new technologies such as social media have made a huge impact in the way people communicate and organise dissent, in the context of the Arab spring these social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have made it easier for activists to communicate with each other and to share the situation on the ground with the rest of the world. “It was these platforms on which virtual groups formed prior to taking to the streets” (Dover, Goodman, Hillebrand, 2013, P300) the authorities had worked very hard to shut down protestors but the activists were able to change locations of protests quickly using social media which made it harder for the police to crackdown on their activities.

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In the past,  Governments had the means to quell down uprisings with ease by shutting down the opposition media and cracking down on dissent using force to stop protest movements before they spread to the rest of the country but with social media authorities grew wary as they struggled to shut it down “the months during which the Arab spring took place had the most national blackouts, network shutdowns, and tool blockages to date” (Philip N Howard, 2013, P69) these steps were not successful enough to stop the protests and activists still found ways to continually stay connected and reach the wider public which eventually led to the overthrow of many regimes.

On the other hand, many believe that social media did not have as much impact as was perceived during the Arab spring and that humans have always dissented and new technological tools did not make much difference. “People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented” (Malcolm Gladwell, 2011) The fact that social media is a new technology and many people around the world don’t have access to it shows that it may not have had as much impact as was assumed.

This argument is supported by research that was carried out by many organisations such as the Pew Research Centre which has in 2011 published a comprehensive survey on attitudes of the Egyptians after the revolution and the impact social media had on them. The research showed that 65% of Egyptians did not use the internet or email.

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In conclusion, social media has revolutionised the way we consume news and communicate with one another, therefore it’s clear that it had some impact on the Arab spring and continues to do so, however, it’s premature to definitively say that it had the biggest impact on the Arab spring.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Manuel Castells (2015) Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Polity Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Robert Dover, Michael S. Goodman, Claudia Hillebrand (2013) Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies. Routledge, London, United Kingdom

Philip N Howard (2013) Democracy’s Fourth Wave?: Digital Media and the Arab Spring, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Malcolm Gladwell (2011) DOES EGYPT NEED TWITTER?. The New Yorker, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/does-egypt-need-twitter

Pew Research Center (2011) Chapter 1. Views of Political Change, http://www.pewglobal.org/2011/04/25/chapter-1-views-of-political-change/

A Brief Summary of the Syrian Conflict

Syria has been ruled by the Assad family since 1971, it was one of the many Arab countries that were affected by the Arab spring, with popular protests in 2011 against the 48-year-old emergency law that gave the Assad family powers to rule the country with no regard for Political Freedoms, Human Rights and Social Justices.

The emergency law wasn’t the only thing the Syrians were fed up with, they had experienced decades of corruption with a small elite ruling the rest of the country with impunity.

The peaceful protests soon turned violent as the regime responded by sending the military to silence the protesters. 6 years in, according to UN envoy to Syria, over 400,000 people have died so far in the conflict.

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Syria has become a failed state a home for terrorist organizations and a conflict that absorbed opposing regional and international powers each with sets of goals.

We have seen the tides turn back and forth. Just over a year ago it seemed that the Syrian dictatorship was on the back foot as western supported and armed rebels were inside Damascus.

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However in its darkest hour the Syrian government got help from its allies such as the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah, Iranian government that gave Syria billions of dollars and sent its revolutionary guards to help the overstretched Syrian army, but the biggest help came from Russia as it looks to flex its muscles and show the world that it’s still a vital military power.

President Putin sent Special Forces, fighter jets and military hardware to Syria using Russia’s base in Tartus.

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The Russian jets have changed the game completely and gave the Syrian regime the upper hand as rebels continue to lose ground. Furthermore the biggest development in the Syrian conflict is coming out of Syria’s former economic powerhouse, the city of Aleppo, a city that has been divided by the country’s bitter civil war, western part controlled by the Syrian regime and its allies, and eastern part controlled by the rebels.

As the governments advance continues across the country, the Syrian army has begun what it calls a final push to take over what’s left of Aleppo, urging the rebels to drop their arms and leave the city.

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Many analysts and diplomats agree that it’s just a matter of time before the rebels are pushed out of the city. If the regime is able to take over Aleppo that will surely be the biggest victory for Bashar al-Assad since the beginning of the civil war.

Ultimately it’s the Syrian people who have taken the brunt of the conflict and continue to suffer in besieged areas inside the country and in refugee camps around the globe with no hope insight.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aljazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/08/quarter-million-people-dead-syria-war-150807093941704.html

Aljazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/turkey-strikes-al-bab-area-push-isil-raqqa-161114073915686.html

Aljazeera, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/11/east-aleppo-161115070403498.html

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