Friday, March 28, 2014

Voices From The Inside

As we watch current events around the world, Ukraine has been in the breaking news for nearly four months now. As Americans, we have access to Western news agencies and we can even look at Russia Today, but it is hard to find news directly from Ukraine. Of course, all news agencies have a bias and we must not doubt that Ukraine’s bias against Russia is heavy at this time. So take each fact with a grain of salt.

Here are some facts that the Ukrainian news has been telling its citizens:

·      Approximately 38% of Crimea voted in the referendum
This number sharply contrasts Putin’s estimate of approximately 87% voting participation. Of the votes that were cast, around 90-97% of them were in favor of joining Russia. If Putin is correct, it is easy to see that the majority wants to join Russia. However, most of the people who were opposed to Russian assimilation chose not to vote. If 62% of the population didn’t vote, Crimea should be free from Russia’s grip.

·      Russian spies have been sabotaging Ukraine’s military
News agencies like the BBC have composed lists comparing Ukraine’s military to Russia’s. Russia’s military is superior to Ukraine’s, but Ukraine does have a sizable amount of tanks and infantry if needed. Ukrainian news sources claim that Russian spies have long been sabotaging Ukraine’s military by disabling vehicles. Ukraine’s previous leader of intelligence was from Russia. Even Ukraine’s previous Prime Minister had difficulty speaking in Ukrainian. Ukraine left itself completely vulnerable to Russia and now it may not have the choice to fight back even if desired.

·      There are few Russian citizens in Crimea
Many sources have claimed that numerous amounts of Russian citizens crossed over into Crimea near the time of the Russian invasion. The many protests held were held by Russian citizens who weren’t residents of Crimea.

·       Russian special forces have advanced beyond the Crimean border
There have been a few reports of Russian Special Forces being deployed by helicopter in Ukraine’s Kherson province, which is just North-West of Crimea. These forces have been said to have captured unprotected energy facilities and are preparing the way for other Russian troops to soon follow.

·      Crimea’s newly elected leader was a crime boss
Crimea’s recently elected leader is known to have been a major crime boss. His nickname is “The Goblin” and his tactics were brutal. News sources have said that Ukraine’s ruling government was held at gunpoint by Russian troops when they voted him in as their leader. Sources claim that he is being paid by Russia, and so far, is willing to sell his country for that money.

Not all of these claims may be completely accurate, but it is useful to see all perspectives when examining an issue. Be sure to see each side's perspective before deciding on who to agree with.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Look Into The Ukrainian Crisis

Obama and Putin

While rumors spread about a new Cold War, two of the most powerful world leaders are taking on different strategies to secure national interests. While cooperation is being sought (at least partially) by both sides, the major flaws that both leaders have pose serious problems in upholding world order.

Should Obama Be More Forceful?

Obama is portrayed as a stressed politician who would rather give Putin Crimea than argue with him. Obama has been seen as a leader who lacks action on the Ukrainian crisis. The news agencies have shown his lack of strong leadership again and again in the news with headlines like, "Obama calls Putin and makes no progress."

Obama has imposed the strictest sanction on Russia since the Cold War. Like any Western leader, he is trying hard to avoid direct conflict with the powerful nation of Russia. Those who believe Obama to be a leader whose authority lacks action should look to the events of the past few years. The U.S. military have been involved in Libya and even somewhat in Syria. Obama has approved of these operations, but these nations pose themselves as minimal dangers when compared to a war with Russia.

Obama may be seen as the leader who politely asks for Putin to leave Crimea, but he does have the wisdom to see how devastating a war with a nuclear nation would be. He has proved that he will send forces when needed, but the question still stands, “When should we help a nation like Ukraine?”

Putin The Strategist

Putin is shown as a dictator who looks like a war hardened leader who simply wants to conquer. His lack of perfect English makes us see him as less intelligent and one who would rush into battle yelling “Freedom” (or maybe in the case of Crimea), “Freedom will be crushed!”

Putin is not the kind of man to just drink Vodka when he is stressed. When things are tough, he wrestles a bear and then drinks vodka while he rides it. However, he would probably win every game of Risk he plays. From his perfect timing when invading Crimea to perfectly placing his allies in power in Ukraine, he has proven his cunning and daring strategy. He knows his moves so well and it appears that he can predict what the West will do. His daring leadership threatens the rest of Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

The final question is, “Can Obama cautiously deal with a man who conquers land with the mind of a strategist and who has a courage that scares the West?” Do you think Obama is capable of doing this? Comment below!

Friday, March 14, 2014

5 Ways That News Agencies Inaccurately Portray Protests:

1. The news always focuses on the smallest hint of violence.

"If it bleeds, it leads" is still an accurate depiction of what drives news corporations today. When the people of Ukraine started protesting, international news agencies weren't very involved. The protests were purely peaceful and appeared to be more of a concert at times than a protest. The country's pop stars were performing for protestors while EU flags fluttered in the air. It wasn't until the police started using clubs on the demonstrators that major news agencies got involved in Ukraine. 

2. The news doesn't usually show how daily life is affected.

During every protest, but daily life must carry on. During the Arab Spring in Bahrain, some protestors would go shopping at the mall right before heading over to the Pearl Roundabout. Restaurants stay open and sometimes businesses actually profit more from the demonstrations. When the Ukrainian people showed their desire for EU membership, many small shops were selling EU flags and clothing. On rare occasions, daily life is halted altogether. When Ukrainians started protesting against Yanukovych, many people from all over the country went to Kiev and started living in tents. People stopped working at their job for weeks and depended on soup tents for nutrients. 

3. In a large event, sometimes protests are not even heard of. 

The Arab Spring was one of the largest movements in the past decade. With so many protests in numerous countries, the news couldn't always keep up with all of the protests. In Bahrain, there was a mass gathering of several thousand people. It wasn't shown in international news because they were focused on Libya at the time. Of course, Bahrain was later shown in international news once violence began. In other Middle Eastern countries, there were protests that major news agencies didn't even mention and perhaps didn't even know about. 

4. Sometimes the amount of protesting is exaggerated.

When we see a protest happening in one place, remember to think about what's happening in the rest of the country. In Ukraine, the majority of protesting was hosted at the city center of Kiev, Maidan. For many weeks, Ukraine only had demonstrations in a few cities while the rest of the country was quiet. This doesn't mean that the rest of the country didn't care. On the contrary, tens of thousands of people drove to Kiev to join the protesting. Perhaps the entire country cares, but rarely is the entire country awake all night to protest.

5. News agencies ALWAYS have a bias.

This is best seen in RT news. RT is funded by the Russian government so its bias is often easily seen. Several years ago, they reported the the U.S. was on the brink of revolution. The news reporter was in New York City interviewing people who told how the U.S. was about to crumble. The people they interviewed were few and they didn't appear to be the most credible. RT focused on these individuals only because they provided a story that RT was looking for. In regards to Ukraine, RT is one of the few news agencies that supports the actions of Russian aggression. Two of the employees of RT America actually spoke out against RT's stance on Ukraine. All news agencies have a country they call home, and the bias of that nation flows into the news whether for good or bad. 

Use this info to understand how to view the news from the agencies, which have faults. Do you see some of these faults occurring more than others? Comment below!