Complete evaluation before exam

Update: a couple of people saved their assignments as drafts on the blog (posts were thus not published); I recovered those too and modified the evaluation accordingly.

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Dear all,

Below you will find the evaluation for class & online activity. I apologize for the delay, this has been a very busy period – to an extent I wasn’t able to anticipate (if I had been, I would have changed the evaluation procedure). Please let me know if you think mistakes have been made.

Some observation regarding the evaluation:

You have to take the exam if you see the word ‘exam’ mentioned in your evaluation or if your grade is below 5. You may take the exam to improve on your grade. In all cases, final grade = average of the grade you got for class activity and the grade you’ll get in the exam. So, for example, if you got a 7 for class activity and a 9 for the exam, your final grade = (7+9)/2 = 8.

This evaluation does not reflect an abstract standard – i.e. the maximum grades do not reflect maximum possible performance; they reflect who did best in our less than perfect context. Even if I tried to be as flexible as I think it is fair in grading, there are large differences between grades. But then there were large differences in the contributions different people made to this class. I think it is only fair to have that reflected – even imperfectly – in the grades.

In reading your posts and listening to your presentations, I did my best to be unbiased and to take your work seriously. Let me emphasize that I am well aware that conditions were not ideal. I am sure that in a more inviting context all of us could have done better. That being said, a few words on how I’ve seen your contribution to this class – I’ll only mention the things that can be improved and some recurrent problems:

1. Presentations:

- reading material poorly understood (barely read in some cases); the difficulty cannot explain that, given that you are enrolled in a graduate program – you’ve all completed BA programs already;

- abundant quoting – many presentations consisted in reading quasi-random fragments from the books;

- unhelpful slides/handouts – these also often consisted of chunks of text taken from the original material;

- no questions asked about the materials presented, no evidence of critical reflection;

- no evidence of consulting other material than the fragment presented itself (sometimes not even that, as per above)

- reading from slides/pages instead of engaging the audience;

- ignoring time limitations.

2. Written assignments:

- negligent editing, no evidence of re-reading the material; abundant spelling and grammar errors; direct rendering of Romanian expressions into English;

- ignoring relevance or pertinence considerations; gratuitous claims;

- style – colloquial expressions, overuse of the first person, hyperbolic expressions, overuse of adjectives;

- sentence management – lengthy and structurally flawed sentences;

- structure and logic – little attention to the narrative and argumentative cohesion of the text; the test reads like an agglutination of unrelated parts;

- overabundant quotation; no quotation marks when in fact fragments are taken from elsewhere;

- critical thinking – little evidence that the topic is carefully considered as an object of reflection.

3. Class participation

- irrelevant questions and remarks; interventions aimed solely at having one’s name written down;

- little evidence of being familiar with the readings, even if the role of discussant was required and the readings were provided in advance;

- virtually no attempt to comment online on what your colleagues have done.

partial evaluation #2 & study questions for the exam

Dear All,

Below an updated version of the evaluation. Please note that this is still a partial evaluation. I still have to go through your posts on this blog, and I have not updated the corresponding section of the evaluation (MPE). The grades/percentages for class participation and presentations are however complete.

The exam for this class will take place on January 22nd, starring at 17:30 (CGE) / 19:00 (MPE) – room to be announced. Here are the study questions, you’ll get two of them in the exam:

The students that already have passing grades (5 and above) do not have to take the exam. They may take the exam in order to improve their grades.

Students who have grades below 5, and students who have had problems with their assignments (‘exam’ mentioned in the evaluation sheet) must take the exam.

For everybody taking the exam, the final grade for this class will be the average of the grade you got for total class activity (participation, presentation, portfolio, rp) and of the exam grade.

 

 

 

Hampau Elena Alina (MCGE) – Reaction Paper- The Age of Stupid

The Age of Stupid is a documentary about the evolution of climate changes on earth until 2005 in a supposition of a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055 asking why are we save ourselves when we had a chance and why are we ignoring the environmental warning signs ?

The film begains with catastrophic climate changes where  Pete Postlethwaite plays the last guy alive in a post-apocalyptic and presents us in short clips from the Global Archive , how the earth come to this result.

In this documentary are presented six stories of different people from four continents who have something in common, Royal Dutch Shell, an oil company. For example the case of Alvin DuVernay a hero of Huriricane Katrina and a paleontologist helping the Shell Company to fiind more oil off the coast of New Orleans.

Story of Jeh Wadia, a indian antrepreneur starting a low cost airline, of LAyefa Mallumi from Shell’s most profitable oil region in Nigeria , who wants to became a doctor but she needs money for studies  and to obtain firstly tried to fish in the oil infested waters, not a good and profitable idea so she choose to join the diesel bussines .

Another case of a french mountain guide, Fernand Pareau: “I think everyone in the future will perhaps blame us for not thinking to protect the environment. We knew how to profit, but not to protect.” , Piers Guy an UK windfarm developer who is trying to convince people to build wind-farms on their land , and the emotional story of Jamila Bayyoud an Iraki refugee who is living in Jordan after the US invasion in 2003 , she has a dream go back home when the war ends .

I think that the most important think is to do something , each of us , as individuals and families to take action to slow down and to prevent global warming through everyday awareness of our energy use, and attention to ways we can conserve electricity and minimize fossil fuel usage,everybody can contribute to this global cause with personal actions.

 

Making energy conservation a part of our daily awareness is essential to the goal of reducing global warming.

Andra Vasile (MCGE) – Reaction paper – Manufacturing Consent – Noam Chomsky and the media – A call to critical thinking

The documentary resulted after more than 500 hours of tape is presenting a comprised format of the rationalism libertarian socialism put forward by the reputed social sciences prodigy Noam Chomsky. Starting from the view of Walter Lippmann in 1921 that stipulates the two ways of obtaining control over the masses by force or by manipulation (creation of necessary illusions), the scholar builds an entire argumentation towards critical thinking and rational evaluation of the information provided by the media.

Starting from the premises that democracy requires free access to information and ideas, Noam Chomsky starts from putting forward several examples of distorted coverage assure by the American Leading Media in order to support his call for the necessary individual involvement and response to he refers as a conglomerate of corporations (elites) that are trying to obtain support for a certain agenda hidden by the public eye, by manipulation.

The linguist identifies how the media is doing this: by setting the general framework in which the public perceives the reality. This process involves several stages: the selection of topics, distribution of concerns, emphasis, framing of issues, filtering of information and bounding of debate. Basically, what the agenda’ setters are doing is to determine select shape, control and restrict in order to “serve the interest of dominant elite groups”.

Another important point highlighted by the political activist is that what keeps the media functioning is not the audience. What comes out of this process of adjusting the format is a picture of the world that satisfies the needs, the interests, the perceptions of the sellers, the buyers and the product.

The purpose of the critical thinkers is to find ways to see and act outside the framework. The process of “creation of necessary illusions” is not made only by setting the public agenda but also for diverting attention towards areas such as sports and entertainment, in order to train the building of irrational support towards certain policies.

In this contest, there is a great level of responsibility for the public that decides to look the other way from different realities, just because they are presented limitedly and inaccurately by the media. Chomsky presents himself as the result of the existence of influential people that are supporting him and improving the world just by being part of the concerned group.

Alternative media can be the answer for those trying to obtain information outside the corporate media.

The conclusion that Chomsky draws is less tragically than one might think: they are always ways to compensate the lack of resources if rational thinking is available. The documentary as its book itself is speaking about the limited durability of a system built on promoting only the value of material things compared with the necessity of being involved and in a kindly manner in a community and the choices that this certain group is making.

While the theory of propaganda and manipulation proposed by Chomsky is well structured and supported by a number of arguments, a question related to the capacity of the broad public to develop rational thinking and criticism. Still the current model of obtaining and transmitting information of any kind has largely changed in the last years, having both positive and negative results. The quick development of internet and social media helps the spread of information and events, giving voice to the silent masses. We can identify several cases in which tools such as Facebook and Twitter were used to advocate a certain cause. We have the example of gathering in one voice the disapproval of European policies such as ACTA or local projects backed-up by the Central Administration like Rosia Montana project. While the voice was given to the public, it is still unclear if this will produce also a change in how the public agenda is set by the government. Another relevant example could be the Twitter Revolution in Moldova Republic from 2009. This event led to the impossibility of choosing a new president by the Parliament and one can arguably think that it created the premises of a regime change after two and a half years of political tensions in Moldova.

The new realities brought by the economic crisis led to the decrease both in the funding and influence for the traditional media. At the same time, besides the development of Facebook, we are seeing a growing influence of a new category of influencers called the bloggers. Sometimes their audience is overturning the one of national newspapers.

In conclusion, the most important thing that I will keep in mind after this documentary is the importance of education and of building an alternative way outside the general framework created by different influence groups.

Raluca Petrescu (MCGE) – Reaction Paper: The Corporation (2003)

Ten years ago, “The Corporation” was a signal to warn people about a widespread phenomenon that influences our lives profoundly. The film directed by Mark Achbar and Jenniffer Abbott stated that corporations are not just an organized form of doing business, but entities that rule our system.

Nowadays, the film seems perfectly present-day. We face the same problems, have the same worries. We even buy our products and services from the same brands.

The movie concentrates upon North American corporations, especially those in the United States, but the justification can be applied to big companies all over the world.

The scenario emphasizes the extraordinary influence of corporations over our lives and how it was possible that they became more and more powerful, without any public control. It explains how they took control of our lives and now dictates what we eat, wear, learn or even vote; how they became more powerful than people or governments.

It is fascinating to see and understand how corporations evolved from a simple legal entity created 150 years ago, to the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The film links the huge power that corporations possess today with the result of an 1886 case in the United States Supreme Court in which a statement led to corporations as “persons” having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment. This was introduced in the Constitution to protect newly freed slaves. Instead, the amendment became the main instruments for corporations to gain force.

This film takes a psychological assessment of this organization model through various case studies. What the analysis illustrates is that the corporation, linked to a type of “personality”, typically acts like a destructive psychopath without conscience. This uncommon “patient” has all the symptoms of a DSM-IV disease: disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect the law.

“The Corporation” don’t even pretend to be an equilibrated movie. It features interviews with prominent corporate critics such as Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, Howard Zinn. Also, the movie reserve argumentation space for the corporation’s representatives, but their plea is to week: we see how enormous differences exists between workers salaries and the prices of the products they are making, and the peoples destinies presented in the film create an icon of the social injustice.

In the end, the problem will still persist and aggravate, because, as Michael Moore resumed, “the great problem is that corporations aren’t like the rest of us. They have no soul to save, and they have no body to incarcerate”.

Dumitru Claudia Daniela (MCGE) Portfolio – Pro-EU demonstration in Kiev (DECEMBER 2013)

While Russia threatens Ukraine by blocking some recent imports and sending thousands of soldiers for military exercises near the borders of the three Baltic states, in Kiev people protest against the creation of a common economic space in the former Soviet Union.  Putin’s dream is to create a space that can compete with European Union.

 Under the pressure from Putin, in November  Ukraine announcedit’s  plans to suspend the conclusion of association with the Europeam Union. Residents of Ukraine did not agree with Putin’s plans and on December 8, took to the streets to protest against the decision of the leaders of Ukraine .

The articles:

1.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/world/europe/ukraine-refuses-to-free-ex-leader-raising-concerns-over-eu-talks.html?_r=0

2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25290959

3.http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2013/12/08/en-ukraine-l-opposition-appelle-a-une-mobilisation-massive_3527504_3214.html

Dumitru Claudia Daniela (MCGE)- Reaction Paper- Waiting for Superman (2010)

   “Waiting for  Superman”   is a documentary about the education in America, or more specific, the public  education. The Government is more interested in paying the teachers and keep/protect their jobs even if they don’t give their interst in helping and teaching the children.

 This documentary focuses on five examples, on five kids that are “fighting” with that education system . Daisy,Francisco, Anthony, Bianca,and Emily are coming from modest families that can not afford to take them to private schools but are giving the best for their children , for their education and for their future. Many of the parents don’t have studies or they had to leave them and get jobs but counscious that the education is the future of their children.

In the American educational system came six  chancellors in ten years and with them many promisses for the learning system but after few months they admited that „there is no task more difficult than reforming schools in Washington” Julius Becton- awarded for bravery in battles.

 The movie presents Michelle Rhee, the  chancellor of theWashington, D.C. public schools from 2007 to 2010, and her agressive style of reform.  She  founded   The New Teacher Project, which in ten years recruited and trained more than 23,000 new teachers to work in urban schools.

She tried to change the mentality of teachers who thought they had the right to the job. She proposed rewarding efficient teachers.

In the end of the movie we can see the „primitive „method of admission of students with special needs (Daisy,Francisco, Anthony, Bianca,and Emily) in charter-schools. The method of admission is some kind of lottery, slips of paper (with the names of kids) are drawn out of a box, or  balls tumble in a revolving cage(with numbers associated with the names of children).

Only two of the five  children are admitted on. In my oppinion this is the most touching moment of the movie- seeing the childre’s faces while waiting for their  “future” to be “won”at that lottery.

Seeing this film meant to me a better understanding of the American people,I had no idea about those statistics regarding the percentage of those who can read and those who know math,I had no idea at all about their vile educational system and about the desperate attempts to straighten it.

 

ADRIAN PETRE (MPE): REACTION PAPER: THE HOUSE I LIVE IN

The House I Live In is a 2012 documentary made by writer-director Eugene Jarecki.

From the beginning the title caught my attention and I read that it wasn’t choose random. This title was inspired by a song written by Lewis Allan but the creator of this documentary choose Paul Robeson version for the final credit of the documentary.

The problem approached in this documentary is about drugs and how political and economic corruption supported the war stretching over forty years against drugs.
From what I’ve seen, this documentary was filmed in over twenty countries and shows the war against drugs from two perspectives:
First: the drama of the one who sells drugs and their families affected by these drugs and the threat of those who use drugs.
Second: how is treat the problem of drug users by the narcotic officer and the judges who condemns thems.
The first president how start a real war againt drugs was Nixon in 1971. From Nixon campaign against drugs, presidents who followed Nixon over the years, just promise to make something. And just promising and do nothing is the most distructive way of thinking which easy led to a world underground of drugs.
I felt that Eugene Jarecki, want to humanize the whole problem and to bring forward the shortcomings of the American system.
I consider that to win this war against drugs, can’t be done without humanization and if we bring together the society and citizens involved in drug problem then we can change the way it is perceived this problem and will reduce the number of people who use drugs. Specifically, you need to be with those who use drugs, to offer moral support during treatment and after treatment support in the society by offering a job or undertaking of certain activities for the company (such as counseling by those who have passed over the issue of drug for those who go through the drugs problem).
In conclusion, Barack Obama is the first president which disrupted the whole chain of promises and actually wants to change something that problem drug. The world need less promises and more action.

CODREANU GEORGIANA (MPE) – REACTION PAPER: HOME

This documentary is an impressive piece of art directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand about the consequesces of our actions that threat the fine balance of the world we live in.

With aerial footages from fifty-four countries and a touching script narrated by famous Glen Close, “Home” is meant to be the voice of our conscience, an incredible evidence of the fact that we can change the world. And depends on us if we change it in better or worst.

The main idea of the documentary is that everything is linked and no organism can be self-sufficient. The statistics the omniscient narrator provide us are overwealming: “13.000 liters are required to produce 1 kg of beef, while 100 liters of water are required for 1 kg of potatoes”, “3 million farmers [...] produce enough grain to fee two billion people”.

All the facts presented in the documentary are highly alarming and even harder to ignore. We live in such a fragile world and we need to becaome responsable consumers. Otherwise, the entire planet will pay the price of our reckless consumption.

Home…such a simple word. When I first saw this title, on a wall banner in the cinema, 4 years ago, I was wondering: why it is called “Home”? It is such a used word, probably one of the daily most mentioned word. Wouldn’t be a better marketing strategy if the director would choose another title with a deeper meaning for our ears? But after I watched it, I changed my mind.

This documentary faced me with the reality that I heard of but I considerated it a clique. Seeing it was like cold shower. Make me realized that we are really responsable for this unprecedent phenomenas that now we cannot control anymore: global warming, polution, species extinction, environmental imbalance and so on.

Even if I didn’t know what to expect, I was connected with the movie since the first words: “Listen to me, please.” First persona narration made me feel I wasn’t a simply outsider anymore. I was in the middle of the problem: “These are traces of our origin”.

Other thing that really catch my attention were the images. In general, people aren’t aware of the astonishing beauty of our planet. Therefore, the producers relied on our ignorance and raise the stake with those extraordinary video footages. It’s impossible to watch such beautiful lanscapes accompanied by Armand Amar music and not to feel nothing. Not to have the impulse to make something to preserve this treasures.

Home visually portray how much the little things we do affect the whole world – “the ecosystem has no borders” is a mantra from the film. What’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains. Home is where the heart is. We don’t want to hurt our heart, don’t we?

BARBU IRINA CATALINA (MPE) PORTFOLIO – IS USA ON THE TRACK OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA?

The legalization of Marijuana has been a topic of great controversy for the past several years, not only in the United States, but also in some of the Western European countries. However, after years of debating the results that the legal consume of marijuana would have not only on the health of the individual, but also on the society and the economy, some of the states in of the USA have reached a point that seems to have no return: after consulting the population, Washington and Colorado have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Although this measure might seem rather useless, since the federal government does not seem willing to adopt a similar law on a national scale, at least in the near future, its social, economic and legal effects cannot be disregarded.

 

The first article tries to present and interpret the social, economical and, as some claim, the cultural aspects that have triggered the people to vote for the legalization, be it in just two states, to describe how the public opinion on the matter has changed since the sixties and, last but not least, to explain how this measure has been received by some of the supporters of the new state laws. The CNBC article, on the other hand, has a less optimistic approach, as it deals with the legal problems that these new laws might create, especially when it comes to the employers in the two states, who seem to be caught between the state and federal law, regarding their internal policies that forbid the use of drugs or alcohol for employees. The third article focuses on the economic effects of the legalization, mainly on the fast-growing market of marijuana (including medical marijuana)  and its prospects of further growing in the future, at a speed that is expected to outpace the expansion of the smartphone market.

 

The articles:

 

1. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/09/us/marijuana-public-opinion/

2. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101246422

3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/04/marijuana-market_n_4209874.html

Andra Vasile (MCGE) – Portfolio – Is genocide a real threat after Mandela’s death?

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Nelson Mandela was for sure one of the outstanding figures of this century. His fight was linked not only to the liberation of blacks, in a segregated South Africa, but also to the development of a new society in the reality of the modern world.

In fact the fight for non-segregation policies became an outstanding symbol for all black liberation movements not only in Africa, but also echoed in other countries throughout the world. While the most common understanding of Mandela’s public policy was linked to the transformation of the country after the Apartheid period, he stood also for other strategic goals in South Africa, some of them being still priorities for the current president of South Africa Jacob Zumba. High unemployment rates, criminality, HIV pandemics and the rise of poverty among the white are just the tip of the eisberg. The death of an undisputed leader is bringing forward the unspoken fear manifested not only by some media channels within the region but also the concerns of the international community. While the entire process of modernization started from outside (the economic pressures imposed in the 1970’s by western powers due to the policies and oppression of civil rights), South Africa is facing now a mirroring hate against other races manifested in the rise of the killings of the local Afrikaner community.

The redistribution of lands led not only to a diminishing of the productivity rates but also to the decrease of taxes reclaimed by the South African government.

South Africa seems to be a difficult country to be in as a white, conclusion helped by the speeding increase of emigration manifested by the under 10% white population, the increase of poverty among the same category of inhabitants and also the alarming criminal rates documented by local statistics.

What are we going to see in South Africa (the best developed economy within the African continent) will certainly be linked to the political development, the economic evolution and the social communication between not only the Black Africans (79,2%) of the population and the white (8,9%), but also with other colored ethnics (8,9%) and Indian and Asians (2,5%).

Fears related to a “genocide against white” were already released, documented and researched, but either this is a phenomenon or rather a consequence of the galloping criminal rates is still a question.

What was already clarified after Mandela’s withdraw from the political life is that only the current administration and its policies alongside with international reaction to the civil unrest will give us the future picture frame of South African development.

Sources:

http://world.time.com/2013/12/05/south-africa-faces-life-after-mandela/

http://www.genocidewatch.org/southafrica.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/world/africa/nelson-mandela_obit.html?_r=0

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22554709

http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2013/09/crime-south-africa    

ANDREEA NISTOR (MCGE) -REACTION PAPER- The Gatekeepers (2012)

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. To the enemy, by the way, I was also a terrorist.”
Yuval Diskin

The last two decades showed us that the phenomenon of globalization goes hand in hand with the phenomenon of terrorism. While some argue that globalization instigated the evolution of terrorism, others think that without terrorism globalization wouldn’t have raised as fast as it did. One thing is for sure, both phenomena are linked as they increased simultaneously, while influencing each other. And the main ingredient that puts these two together is terror. Using terror to unite countries in the fight against the terror makes both parts terrorists and diminishes the impact of that unification. 

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“With terrorists there are no morals [...] In the war against terror, forget about morality.” 
Avraham Shalom

The Gatekeepers is a 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary by the Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh. The movie consists of six interviews with surviving heads of Shin Bet (the Israeli FBI). Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Avraham Shalom, Carmi Gillon, Yaakov Peri and Yuval Diskin were charged with addressing the threat of Palestinian terrorism and with protecting Israel’s leaders. Their interviews allow us to examine the morality of counterterrorism and what happens behind closed doors. The message these men try to deliver through their experiences, is that the way Israel handles this situation (Gaza and West Bank occupation) caused and continues to cause too much damage for both sides and that it is time to change this path before it is too late. But in a world as pragmatic as that of the secret services, it is hard to believe that secrets would be reveled to the public eye without a strategy behind. So is this the real message they try to send? And would their position be the same if they were still in charge of the agency?

“You can’t make peace by military means.”
Avi Dichter

I watched this documentary two or three times and each each time reveled something else, something that I failed to see the first time. First I believed that these men regretted their actions and had a genuine message for the Israeli audience. That you can’t obtain peace by using terror against terror and that the only way to resolve this friction is by talking. But there was something (gestures, inflections in their voices and contradictory comments) that convinced me to watch it one more time. Just to see if I was missing something. 

The second time I could see the sparkle in their eyes when they were talking about their crimes and the harsh words against the politicians as I focused less on their words and more on the nonverbal parts of their speech. The findings annulled the initial perception. These men didn’t regret the fact that their actions caused collateral damage, they regretted that the “outside involvement ” (politicians and media) brought failure to their operations. That instead of “clean, elegant and tidy“(like the 1966 murder of Yahya Ayyash, when they used a a cell phone rigged bomb), they got all the dirt on display. And the best example is Avraham Shalom’s case, who was forced to resign after he was accused in 1968 of ordering the murder of two terrorists following the bus 300 attack. The reporters present at the sight managed to take pictures with the two terrorist while they were still alive, proving that they were murdered in captivity by the Shin Bet’s agents. When asked about this incident, Shalom initially says “I don’t remember”, but later admits that he “didn’t want any more living terrorists in court”. And there is no regret in his voice when he says it. The same goes for the rest of them.

The documentary shows that the six men know more about the occupation of the territories captured in 1967 than any Israeli prime minister, diplomat or professor be it leftist or rightist. They know more than anyone, because they built it and kept it going. These chiefs know exactly what it took and saw what the rest failed to notice. They directed and carried out what people didn’t want to know and think about. When they justify torture in a modest way, they use realistic calculations like the time when one of them says that the use of torture increases the number of prevented attacks from 70% to 90%, or the fact that some collateral victims were not as important as catching 11 terrorists (some of them were only preachers) by dropping a bomb on a building. These men are tough and don’t seem personally or emotionally regretful for their behavior.  

So what is the real message they try to send, since the occupation’s morality issues don’t seem to be the actual subject?! I believe the answer can be found in Moreh’s quote from Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1968- one year after the beginning of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and Diskin’s response to it:

“A state ruling over a hostile population of one million people will necessarily become a Shin Bet state, with all that this implies for education, freedom of speech and thought and democracy. The corruption found in any colonial regime will affix itself to the State of Israel. The administration will have to suppress an uprising on the one hand and acquire Quislings, or Arab traitors, on the other.”

Diskin acceptance of this characterization rejecting only the description of the country as a Shin Bet state, send a clear message that if these portraits of Shin Bet are even half-true, an Israel run by the secret service would be a better country than the one it is. Also taking in account that politics are a big part of this movie (the agents became lefties after retirement) and the fact that the documentary was released days before national elections, the message gets a different meaning. It is not about morality or shame or regrets or even peace, it is all about power and politics. The fact that secret services would rule better the state as they have strategies and not only tactics as politicians do. 

“We have become cruel, to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population, using the excuse of the war on terror.”
Avraham Shalom

All in all, I enjoyed watching this documentary. The film leaves no doubt that this is nothing more than a brutal and violent conflict and that there is no pure intention behind this occupation and the response to it. Morality has nothing to do with war or terrorist and there is no genuine interest in ending this situation. Three things are sure after watching this movie: 1) you can’t obtain peace by using terror, 2) politics and secret services don’t care about morality and 3) life won’t take you back to undo the mistakes you made. Your actions produce consequences, that create new worlds and they are all different. The world where you seek to undo your mistakes is different from the world where the mistakes were made. You are at the crossing and you want to choose, but the reality is that there is nothing to choose and you have to accept the choice you made a long time ago. 

 

ADRIAN PETRE (MPE) – PORTOFOLIO: TECHNOLOGY CHANGE THE WAY WE INTERACT

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Bill Gates

Technology has been and will be an area that will fascinate both scientists and marketing enthusiasts.
In the last 20 years the Amazon Company change the way we read books (Amazon invented Kindle a special device for read books) and now want to change the way the packages are delivered to customers. These days Amazon tested a revolutionary idea: drones that could deliver packages with a weight under 2.3 Kg, for a short distance and short time (30 min maximum). The service has the code name Prime Air and, if it will have the permission from US regulatory, will be available by 2015. Through this project, Amazon is looking to improve its delivery efficiency and to achieve a higher market share.
Another example of innovative thinking comes from Google. Google executives revealed that creating robots who can deliver packages to our doorstep is more realistic that Amazon idea. And with the help of the well-known driveless Google Car, this thing could be something ordinary in the future.
Google raises the stake and want more: smart-glasses. We are 24h a day connected to various devices like computers, smartphones and other digital devices. Google find a solutin that will allow us to surf the net while we do other thing. Essentially, Google Glass is a wearable Android powered computer build into spectacle frames that allow the person to take pictures, check the weather or search data based on voice commands.
All this articles have in common one thing: race for satisfing the customers requirements force the big online stores to come up with crazy ideas that, in time, drive to technology development, save time and reduce distances.
This emerging technologies to win customers and to consolidate reputation is the effect of globalization, which was practically unconscious and involuntary predicted since 1898 by Mark Twain (the inventor of the term “Internet”).
Sources:

http://www.techradar.com/news/video/google-glass-what-you-need-to-know-1078114

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/04/technology/google-puts-money-on-robots-using-the-man-behind-android.html?pagewanted=2&_r=3

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25180906

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/12/04/google-hey-weve-got-robots-too/

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/12/02/amazons-drone-delivery-idea-faces-hurdles/

CODREANU GEORGIANA (MPE) – PORTOFOLIO: IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON SOCIETY

Did you know that there are two and a half billion internet users across the planet? Or that we are spending 18% of our time using social media sites? That’s impressing. More impressing is that social media led to a global change in just a decade.

An article from Yahoo Small Business Advisor gives some interesting statistics about the usage of different social platforms. The huge numbers reflects the enthusiasm of the internauts about online. Also, this makes you wonder: how deep is the impact that these sites have over people? The article enumerate, among others, the fact that these portals are a breeding ground for controversy. It’s enough to post an image and it will be spread not just in your group but also in several parts on the globe. Interacting with people from different cultures it’s easier now because cyberspace it’s a convenient way to start a conversation.

And as the number of users grows, the internet changes accordingly and so does the world. Businesses are moving beyond having just a presentation page on Facebook or a Twitter account and they use social tools to listen to customers, identify new market opportunities or spur innovation. On mashable.com, the Social Business Evangelist at IBM Sandy Carter speaks about how social media is transforming every aspect of business. In her opinion, adopting a social strategy will connected the company with its clients.

Social media succeeded to make a huge shift in our ideologies without realizing, by changing the way we interact. Depending on who you ask, this is a great thing or a great disaster. TheGuardian.com find out an interesting study: Twitter is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol. A group of scientists from Chicago University drove an experiment based on subjects daily desires. It seems that the most irresistible thought they had was related to social media activity. Not eating, not sleeping, not even shopping…

“Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society, they are a challenge to it.” – Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Sources:

1. Impact of social media on society, Yahoo Small Business Advisor

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/impact-social-media-society-233526283.html;

2. How Social Media is Changing Busines, mashable.com

http://mashable.com/2013/11/20/social-changing-business/

3. Twitter is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, study finds, TheGuardian.com

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/feb/03/twitter-resist-cigarettes-alcohol-study

Denisa Bucur (PME): Reaction Paper on “The corporation”

“The corporation”  is a documentary dated in 2003 that tries to explain us the concept of corporation since her beginnings up to it’s present domination.

Directors  Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott managed to show us through this documentary what was and how does it looked like a corporation in the past, and how does it looks like nowadays. Moreover it’s about the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that was first designed as a government institution with the purpose to deal with only specific public functions, to the rise of the nowadays commercial institution .

Even though the documentary concentrates more upon north American corporations we can all learn about the mechanism of a so called “corporation”.

So , what is the definition of a corporation? Well, they were some institutions just like the Church and monarchy with limited legal rights to serve the public but nowadays it’s a “dominant institution with a huge impact on our lives”. What actually caught my attention was the fact that at the end of the civil Supreme Court declared a corporation as being a person with the same human rights for life, liberty and propriety . Since then she is” legally bound to put it’s profit ahead of everything else , even above of the public good “.

The profit motive is the most important for a corporation and it’s the one that creates this mindset of competition. Throughout years this corporations started to point out their weak points:” incapacity to maintain enduring relationships”,” reckless disregards for the safety of others”, “deceitfulness – repeated lying and conning others for profit”, “the incapacity to experience guilt and the failure to conform to social norms”.

But how did we managed to see this behaviors? Because they started to act and impact all countries: in some of them (poor ones and cheap labor ) they make their products and in the rest (rich countries) they sell them and in the end we have to face the fact that they have gone globally and no one can stop them. In this way there are present everywhere and impact us all in different ways.

Another thing that caught my attention was the description of those who leads this corporations. In reality they might be the nicest family guys ever , friendly and “benevolent” but at their jobs they have to be monsters because this is the way that they have to be. “This is the consequence  of modern capitalism” and their main purpose is to make profit.

“Corporation have gone globally and by doing that the governments have lost control upon them,  regardless of corporation that  can or cannot be trusted”. The state nowadays became powerless and started working together with the companies, only because of the impact that they have upon population. From my point of view these alliance can be seen as a good one as long as they work together to solve this global problems.

In the last years many companies subscribed corporated social responsibility “because they want to be identified as responsible”; this can be interpreted  as a reaction to a certain market pressure at this point. Because we know the impact of their actions in our lives and we realize that they harm our environment they found this why in which they can prove us that they also think about this things. I am though afraid that it might be too late for the nature problems.

It is said that people are actually guilty for the power that the corporations has upon them? Why? Because we want a diversity of products from which to choose. We don’t want only one provider just as it was is the past: the state. But we should not forget that we could react to what the government does but not in what the corporations do.

The paradox of this corporations is “that they creates great wealth but causes enormous and often hidden harms”. I want to give here one example: we conscious eat fast foods even though we now about the conditions in which animals are being kept and feed before their meet gets into our sandwiches. in one way we are glad about this fast foods but in other why we are horrified about the truth.

As a conclusion, this documentary presents many problems that implies corporations but not many solutions. And also , this situations presented are present all over the globe, not only in America so I think that we need a new study upon corporations, their impact in our lives and solutions for what can we do  in order to protect our lives in the future.

BARBU IRINA CATALINA (MPE) – REACTION PAPER ON “THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL”

The Root of All Evil is a documentary written and narrated by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Based on the book previously published by the scientist, The God Delusion, the documentary brings to the fore the rather controversial idea that religion, as seen and understood today by the majority of theists, is not only unnecessary, but also a constant source of friction between people with different beliefs, a true Apple of Discord. And while I agree with Dawkins on many of the points he makes in this documentary, including the idea that the modern man has no necessity for religion, for a God – or a constellation of Gods – in order to exist and function properly, I don’t believe that religion is the “root of all evil”, but merely a tool of controlling the more impressionable.

Dawkins beautifully begins his argumentation by referring to the comfort and reassurance people feel when they believe in a God that is accepted by thousands of people, to the fulfilling impression of being part of something that seems good, bigger than themselves and to the idea that even the most absurd theories may seem true when enough people believe in them. And this, in my opinion, is a perfectly viable explanation for the power that religion holds over people, in spite of the scientific evidence regarding our existence on this planet.

Building on this argument, the author goes further and presents another idea that holds people “hostages” to religion: hope; hope in the existence of an afterlife, hope that our lives have a meaning and, most important, hope that miracles do happen. To better illustrate the image of how hope works, Dawkins refers to the procession of pilgrims that come every year in Lourdes, France, where they believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, has shown herself to a young girl. The place is, therefore, considered a magical one, where 66 unexplainable miracles are said to have happened in the past century, and where thousands of people have been spiritually cured. The scientist makes the following point: 66 is an extremely small number, compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who have visited the place, hoping for a miracle. And, statistically speaking, this is indeed, a valid argument against the idea of miracles and even against the existence of an almighty God. However, I do not agree with the idea that bracing truth is, as Dawkins affirms, better than false hope. Although I, myself, don’t hope for miraculous cures for diseases and for a never-ending life that comes after this one, there are people who need to believe that there is more to life than the daily struggle to survive, because this belief, this hope, is the only thing that keeps them alive and they should not be denied this.

Further on, Dawkins moves the discussion to a whole new level: once the means by which religion (and religious institutions) manages to have such a powerful influence of people have been outlined, he attacks one of the main topics of the documentary: how religion becomes a source of evil. But while the existence of religious extremists and religious wars (the examples he brings into discussion) cannot be denied, I believe that it is not necessarily the idea of the existence of God that causes all the mentioned evils, but rather the way it is preached to the people by different religious institutions and leaders. Combine this with the lack of education and with an intolerant, conservative society and the results can be truly catastrophic. But religion itself, the belief  in a greater almighty being, although preaching against scientific evidence, and although (as I have mentioned above) unnecessary in essence, has the ability to give some people the strength to carry on with their daily lives.

I agree with Dawkins’s claim that religious beliefs should not be imposed on young, impressionable children and that they should be presented with all the available evidence and allowed to make their own decisions regarding their beliefs when they are mature enough. I also consider that leading one’s life in perfect accordance with some principles that have been written tens of centuries ago is rather absurd, but we do not have the right to force people to give up their beliefs, even though there is no evidence to support them.

All in all, Dawkins’s rhetoric is extremely convincing and his arguments are based on scientific evidence. However, the frank and sometimes even brutal way in which he presents them has attracted criticism and even the accusations that his documentaries are atheist propaganda, because he is trying to impose his beliefs, be them backed up by evidence, on the rest of the world.

Although rational thinking might seem to some – including myself – a principal to be followed, other have  the right to choose their own principals. And although there are cases when religion, combined with ignorance, intolerance, lack of education and biased preachers can lead to friction, there are worse evils than it and the peaceful, decent believers should not be denied the right to keep their faith, if this is what makes them happy.

COVEANU MADALINA- REACTION PAPER- THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES ( BABY IS COLD OUTSIDE)

  „The power of nightmares- Baby is cold outside” is a documentary about political movements and ideological strategies that are representatives for the American theritory after the Second Wolrd War. I think that an important statement of this movie is to point out how important is for people to be protected by someone, and being a citizen, to be protected by the state. Even if all of us think that politicians are always make promises to people without realy carring about these, in reality political interests depends on people in order to keep them closer to the political strategy and to create an idea of unity and confidence.

The documentary: „The power of nightmares- Baby is cold outside” focuses to radicalist Islamists and their actions of terrorism. Those actions started when America dealed with Islamists in order to change the world and with Sovietic Union, after the Second World War in order to keep security around the world.  One of the main interests of politicians is to save America from decay, after the War and in order to succed that must have an idealistic support. They should give impression of reality but they may not realy believe in those ideas. In the first part of the movie was set the idea that politicians must act like advocates, they must believe in their clients even if they are guilty.

From my point of view, this documentary movie starts presenting Islamist actions and behaviour, Muslim Ideology  and their thoughts, but realy important in history was who had coordinated the entire process of terrorism. For Muslims, freedom and liberation represents a way to corruption and to break the wolrd, their religion doesn’t allow such forms of behaviour. They only believe in themselves statements of creating a good wolrd and they believe that are only one whom have right . They have seen the truth in a diffrent way and they state to belief that the end is noble so, they can kill as many as they wish.

In America was set up a neoconservatist group by Leo Strauss, a group with a fantastic ideology  regarding Sovietic Union and Muslims. They believe that terrorist can not be only groups of people and there is someone who coordinates the entire process. It was demonstrated, in the last part of the movie, after a long period of research, that the real actor of Terror Network was the Sovietic Union, which was considered to be American’s partner in order to change the world after the War.

As I have said before, the real main subject of this documentary, was to prove and to image how terorism appeared in the world and who was the prime actor in these terrorist actions . As neoconservatives tried to discover and to prove, there are not only little groups of people that act like terrorists and there is a big Terror Network that coordinates all movements.

By my side, the title of the movie has a big importance regarding the idea of inside and outside of borders, and moreover inside or outside of America. In the final part of the movie everything was returned to the neoconservatism fantasy, that America must use force in order to change the world because only through force it may abolish terrorist movements. There cames also the last statement: Fantasy and nightmares in order to maintain the power.

AGACHI IOANA ANDRA (CGE) – REACTION PAPER: FOOD,inc

“Food, inc.” is a documentary film directed by Robert Kenner which was released in 2008 and uses reports by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and the Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan.

The main purpose of this documentary is to show us from where comes the food that we buy in the supermarket but also how is affecting the present mode of eating future generations. In his documentary Kenner tries to expose the relationship between the government and various corporations who lead to the undoing of American food industry. The USDA and FDA are normally designed to protect consumers from the bad influences of corporations so: why both the government and his agencies put in first place the profits when what should prevails in the public health?

The documentary throw a short look over all major sectors involved in the America’s food industry: the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef and pork), at the industrial production of grains and vegetables (corn and say beans) and do not forget neither the power of economic law such as food labeling regulations.

“Food, inc ” show us that behind the idyllic images of food packaging in shops, food manufacturing process is more disgusting. The animals are raised is some huge factory, the chicken’s never see the light of the day and that the minced meat is washed with ammonia before reaching the hamburgers. But “Food, inc.”  shows much more, he highlights the imperfections, the ecological implications of this system, other matters such as health in relation with what we eat, so the local economy as well as global in this context and last but not least the labor rights in this area.

It’s time to pay more attention to the quality of the food that we eat and the methods by which these foods are made, both from the point of technical, scientific and ethically way of doing it. Personally I found this documentary terrifying and I can say that once you saw it, you will never approach nutrition in the same way. Not only you’ll give up fast food but also will become much more difficult for me in locating healthy food in the supermarket. When I saw that genetically engineered corn and his extracts are found in almost every product on the shelves of supermarkets, I said to myself that from now on I would think twice before buying something, anything. Because any of these things consumed with frequency lead not only to the excessive weight but also to serious health problems, things that can conduct to deadly issues if it is to take in consideration the case of little Kevin that was killed by E.coli bacteria in only 12 days. The assertion that U.S market is close to a non-monopoly should give us serious thought. The documentary shows clearly that the industry don’t want consumers to know the truth as the industry is in the hands of a few selfish businessmen who just seek and desire profit, profit accumulated without carrying about the public health.

In conclusion I can say that “Food, inc.” is a documentary that has the power to remind us that we can make differences, however. That we can change the way the industry relates to its consumers starting at the supermarket. The power is placed in our own hands from the moment we became attentive to what we put in our basket from the shelves, from the moment we choose what product worth to give money on. Because only then people from America and all over the world (because America can create a precedent), will understand that things have changed, as the industry is no longer the same, as the sales has slumped because people want something else, they are demanding the change! They now want healthy food, a healthy lifestyle, because they found out what’s happening and they want changes to be done. This is the way that Kevin’s law can again be implemented.

AGACHI IOANA ANDRA (CGE) – PORTOFOLIO: THE UKRAINIAN CRISIS

Two Sundays ago thousands of Ukrainians pro-European began to gather in the center of Kiev  for what was to be a large opposition demonstration in order to express their protest against the change of President’s Yanukovych position not to sign the association agreement with the European Union (that had to bring Ukraine long-term benefits), under the influence of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian left themselves pressed by Russia on the basis of current economic issues.

Thing started to get out of control when the demonstration of 300.000 people turned from peaceful to violent, many of them from both camps (cops or protesters) being injured. Experts believe that the situation has got out of control and that the west should intervene to avert a new Orange Revolution as the one in 2004.

For detailed information see the links provided below:

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25176191

CNN: http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/02/ukraine-could-destabilize-if-president-fails-to-compromise-opposition-warns/?iref=allsearch

The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21591179-situation-ukraine-volatile-and-dangerous-west-must-act-not-same-movie

VELEANU ANCA (MCGE) – REACTION PAPER – THE ENEMIES OF REASON

The Enemies of Reason is a documentary in two parts by Richard Dawkins, a famous evolutionary biologist.  As the title clearly suggests, reasons is valued and the factors that undermine it are blamed. Mr. Richard Dawkins prizes science and what is has done for humanity and condemns irrational thinking which he considers to be extremely dangerous not only on an individual level, but also on a larger scale. Personally, as an avid reader of Richard Dawkins’s work and a true supporter of rational thinking and logic, who reads Bertrand Russell as a hobby, I found it a pleasure to watch the whole documentary and I made it a personal challenge to find possible faults or at least limitations to it.

The first part of the documentary is called “Slaves to superstition”. Richard Dawkins talks about how science and rational evidence-based reason helped humans evolve, not only by giving them a better life from a material point of view, but also gave them a longer lifespan that they could use freed of superstition and able to think and evaluate life independently, be creative and innovative. He blames practices like astrology and cold reading that he considers in some cases to be more dogmatic than religion. He argues that from the two ways of looking at life, through rational thinking and logic or through superstitious thinking and dogma, logic is undoubtedly the correct way. He values observation and evidence, reasons and logic. He says that we are confronted today with an “epidemic of irrational superstitious thinking”, an industry which is worth millions. He calls it an epidemic because irrationality is spreading, but also because of what he considered to be extremely harmful effects. He considers that practices like astrology, damage people’s lives on a personal level, but also determine on attack on rationality and science. He argues that the media encourages these delusions offering more pages to this pseudoscience than to real evidence and experiment-based science. The documentary is constructed by using interviews with certain people that practice astrology or that pretend to be psychic.

Between those segments Richard Dawkins expresses his own opinions using facts, results from studies and statistics. For example, in order to state that these issues are indeed important because they are widespread, he argues that 25% of people believe in astrology, adding that that is more than the people that believe in any god. Due to his scientific background he tries to understand and explain not only how these phenomena work, but also how people can come to believe in primitive and dogmatic pseudoscience like astrology or mediums. He argues that it may be in human nature to desperately seek meaning, attribute intention, require and organizing force, and feel the need to be in the center of the universe. He also adds that like animals, humans try to identify patterns that help us survive, just like creating stereotypes that help us process information faster in case of need. This means that we can sometimes miss certain patterns, but we can also identify patterns where there aren’t any. Coupled with traditions that were born at a time when people did not understand natural phenomena. The Barnum Effect can explain how mediums, psychics work. People believe that something applies to them when in fact those statements apply to everybody. And, in the case of cold-reading, almost random statements are given meaning by people that are drawn into wishful thinking.

It is vital to mention yet again that all of Richard Dawkins’s arguments are sustained by data, results of previous studies and experiments which are done with the subjects that are presented in the documentary. Among the arguments that are meant to focus on the threat that pseudoscience poses on people and on rational thinking, he argues how science improved our lives and offers alternatives like astronomy to astrology. He blames the educational system for straying away from sciences and valuing private feelings that have no real value because they do not apply to everybody. He also blames the mass media for supporting spirituality and superstition.

The second part of the documentary called “The Irrational Health Service” supports the same main idea that rational thinking should prevail over irrationality. The case and point for this segment is the healthcare system. He talks about several types of alternative medicine including homeopathic.      Although Science doubled the life expectancy in 50 years though advances like new vaccines, antibiotics, surgery and blood transfusions more people are turning nowadays to alternative medicine. His conclusions are that they misuse science and distort facts. He again blames the mass media for spreading cynicism against the healthcare system and medicine. To prove his case he goes to different practitioners of this type and interviews them while he goes through the procedure. He also presents a case where the news spread wrong information about a vaccine which determined people not to use it for their children, which in turn caused health problems for them, even leading to a child dying.

From my point of view, I agree which his message. I can only support a plea for rational thinking and science that gave us progress and shaped our world. Unfiltered information and unbending dogmatic and traditional thinking cannot help the world reach its full potential. Reason is indeed liberating, it frees us from superstition and it offers progress on all levels. The beauty of it is that is continuously changes, what we think is true is contently put to the test, knowledge is “refreshed”.

Although I fully support his main goal and appreciate his well documented examples and the experiments he personally did during the program, I did find some faults with it though. First of all, although I do see his reason for concern, I do not see why he thinks that the situation is worse than before. The mass media and internet put into contact people that already had a predisposition of following those types of ideas, or had a superstitious-driven cultural background. I was not convinced by him that people are more superstitious nowadays than twenty or forty years ago. I also did not agree with his interpretation of the word “spiritual”. He gives it a definition that identifies it with delusion, superstition and the habit of mystifying the truth. I think that that definition is harsh and clearly limiting. Spiritual may be considered something above the world of material things. So perhaps if you are passionate about concepts like justice or science you can consider yourself spiritual. Regardless if that is the case or not, I think that by blaming spirituality, and using that very term while doing so will alienate many people that would have listened to his message otherwise.

Another thing that I would’ve liked to have been done differently is that more accent should’ve been put on biology, considering Mr. Dawkins’ professional background. The irrational thinking of humans was at one point argued to possibly be a bi-product of evolution, but that idea was not fully discussed. I considered that to be vitally important because if it proves to be so, the whole process is natural and it has to be treated differently. So for example if some people are biologically predetermined to follow patterns of irrational thinking, education, mass media and the internet will not be able to change that much. On the other hand the very fact that these genes still survive may prove that the lack of anxiety driven by living is comforting superstitions, but also sharing the scientific advances that rational people have made, may be the best way to survive.

My only other complaint is about his wish that people would face life as it is, not mystify it, create false intention and gods in order to feel comfort in this complex world. Nowadays all types of genes survive and are passed on through reproduction, not only brave, or mathematics-oriented people survive. One cannot ask for people to act in a certain way. At best we can try to make our educational system promote healthy thinking and the mass media to support that effort, but we cannot hope nor ask people to change those types of what I consider to be predisposed tendencies.

All in all I enjoyed the documentary very much because it applied perfectly to my preexisting belief system and that was comfortingly reconfirmed. I fully support the idea that reason should drive all our actions and the educational system and the mass media do not promote that idea enough. We should face reality with logic and rational thinking, if we are capable of doing so. It might not be as beautiful as mentally constructed poetry but “science if the poetry of reality”.

VELEANU ANCA (MCGE) – CHINA’S POPULATION CONTROL POLICIES

Living on a globalized planet with many types of finite resources, overpopulation and underpopulation issues concerns all of us. The articles that I picked deal with the Chinese policies concerning population control. The One-Child Policy in China was introduced in 1979 for population control and it prevented 400 million births. Never before had the world seen such political and policy-driven social change. In a world with limited resources that fears overpopulation, this seems like a triumph, but is it really so?

In his article “Chinese Eugenics”, Geoffrey Miller, Evolutionary psychologist, argues that Chinese policies were not meant only to control population growth, but coupled with other measures, it determined the Chinese to have “the world’s highest-quality human capital”. Some of the other measures that he talked about are the Chinese propaganda, that urged for “better” children in the 80s, and the Maternal and Infant Health Law by which people with mental or physical diseases that could be inherited could not marry, also mass prenatal ultrasound testing for potential birth defects was implemented. He also talks about Chinese genomic research on human mental and physical traits which should improve IQ and other desirable traits in Chinese future generations. He points out what he considers to be close cooperation between the Chinese parents, educational system, government and mass media which produce better future generations, attitude that Western cultures should treat carefully and learn from.

The article “China Eases One-Child Policy” by Laurie Burkitt, “The Wall Street Journal” talks less kindly about the Chinese government’s policies and the effects of the One Child Policy. The article talks about the extreme policy change that allows couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. It discusses the drastically shrinking working-age population and other sensitive social tensions and economic problems. It also reaches sensitive topics like forced abortions and sterilization.

The last article I chose talks about a different side of the effects that the Chinese policies for population growth control have caused. In her piece, “China’s One-Child Policy Has Had Some Surprising Consequences for Kids”, Alice Robb shows the statistical consequences of generations that were raised without siblings. The “little emperors” are expected statistically to have certain differences that have the potential to shape China socially and economically.

The articles are worth reading in detail because of the different perspectives they offer on the same main topic. Nonetheless the subject in itself is vitally important because its outcome shapes our future.

Chinese Eugenics by Geoffrey Miller

http://edge.org/response-detail/23838

China Eases One-Child Policy by Laurie Burkitt

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303289904579199431427590394

China’s One-Child Policy Has Had Some Surprising Consequences for Kids by Alice Robb

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115614/china-one-child-policy-facts-four-surprising-findings

GHEORGHITA ALINA (MCGE)- PORTOFOLIO: UKRAINE AFTER THE VILNIUS SUMMIT

Ukraine after the Vilnius Summit

  1. http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/03ukraine
  2. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/11/29/ukraine_russia_europe_protests
  3. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/02/ukraine-protests-opposition-president

I chose this topic because it represents a topical issue in the European Union and it is currently discussed in the European and international press. The Vilnius Summit was held on the November 28-29, 2013 and was aimed at the development of  Eastern partnership with six European countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, in order to bring them closer to the European Union. The Summit ended with the signing of Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova, while Ukraine has declined cooperation with the EU.

The first article (“Ukraine caught between EU and Eurasia”- Le Monde Diplomatique) that I refer to consider that the main event after the Summit is represented by the protests. This is similar with the protests that happened nine years ago during The Orange Revolution.  The author states that the protests are organised against President Viktor Yanukovych. Citizens do not agree with his decision to take away  Ukraine from the European Union. The association to the EU is not in agreement with his past actions, including strengthening cooperation with “The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)”, made up of members of the former USSR. Also, the author thinks  that not only Ukraine can lose by declining to sign the agreement, but also the European Union. Ukraine would have represented the most important eastern partner, in terms of population and size. So, the reason stated by the President for refusing to associate (“to secure the country’s economy”) is disguising the fact that Russia was considered a greater partner to Ukraine  than the European Union.

The second article (“The Bear Hug”- Foreign Policy) insists on the personality of Victor Yanukovych, who is  regarded as the culprit for most of the country’s problems. The author believes that the main features of the President, “incompetent and corrupt figure” led him to be on Putin side. The President is considered guilty for not pushing ahead the reforms needed in order to secure much needed IMF funding. Yanukovych also refused to release the potential leading figure of the opposition to presidential elections, Yulia Tymoshenko – which was actually required by the EU. In conclusion, the author thinks the main problem of Ukraine is “the Ukraine`s leadership class”.

The third article (“Ukraine protests”-The Guardian)  is emphasizing the fact  that protesters  who took the streets in Kiev make it clear that the action of the President of the country is against their will. It is also pointed out that the President’s statements and public appearances after the Summit in Vilnius are reduced in number and embarrassing. Yanukovych declared at television that “any bad peace is better than a good war”, which may mean that Russia keeps Ukraine under control. To moderate the situation President of the European Commission Barroso said that he had a telephone conversation with Yanukovych and that “there are chances for the Agreement to be signed yet”.

In conclusion, I believe that the events in Ukraine raise clear issues of legitimacy, as long as the President’s decision is different from the majority of the population and they believe that the leader no longer represents them. Also I consider Ukraine protests similar to those in the winter of 2012  in Bucharest, where the President was considered the culprit for all the country’s problems.

Crina Panturu – Portofolio of articles: “The Spectacle and Sales of Black Friday”

The articles I chose are related to the American concept of Black Friday and how it developed this year in its natal country and Romania. Although Black Friday is a 3 year old concept for Romanians, it immediately reached popularity among its citizens. As already known in the “American culture”, Black Friday succeeds Thanksgiving Day and opens officially the winter shopping season. During this time (Black Friday sales this year lasted a week) many shops sell a lot of products at low prices and expect a lot of buyers also. According to media news and updates for this year, Americans, and recently Romanians experienced different situations. New York Times and Toronto Sun presents “the spectacle and sales of Black Friday” as a profitable business followed by many unpredictable incidents (stabbing, shutting etc). So far Romanians didn’t experience this type of occurrences mainly because buyers focused on online shopping. From the latest news updates, Romanians faced problems such as overcrowded, blocked sites and impossibility to log in, as well as unprofitable prices that caused frustration among both sides of “the spectacle”.

The articles are:

  1. The New York Times, Friday, November 29, 2013 “The Spectacle and Sales of Black Friday” by CHRISTINE HAUSER (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/29/the-spectacle-and-sales-of-black-friday/?ref=blackfriday&_r=0)
  1. Toronto Sun, Friday, November, 29 2013: Black Friday in Toronto by Kevin Connor. (http://www.torontosun.com/2013/11/29/black-friday-in-toronto)
  1. Evenimentul, November, 23, 2013, Black Friday de România, între isterie şi bâlci by Dana Chiru (http://www.ziarulevenimentul.ro/stiri/economie/black-friday-de-romania-intre-isterie-si-balci–119584.html)
  1. Gandul, November, 22, 2013, BLACK FRIDAY 2013 la EMAG, EVOMAG, ALTEX, DOMO, FLANCO, KOYOS, ORANGE. REDUCERI uriaşe UPDATE (http://www.gandul.info/financiar/black-friday-2013-la-emag-evomag-altex-domo-flanco-koyos-orange-reduceri-uriase-update-11662329)

COVEANU MADALINA- MCGE, PORTFOLIO- THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AROUND THE WORLD

During the last years, climate change issue was shared between two main branches. Is it only a business or there is a real interest to save the planet? There appeared different oppinions regarding the relevance of this common issue around the world and it was considered to be more a business than a real desire to improve the environment and to keep resources. “Climate casino”, a book written by William Nordhause, talks about the economic aspect of actions that provide climate change, and talks also about projections of global economic growth. As we can see, „climate change” can be considred to be a game for politicians in order to gain and to keep them sympathizers, without having a purpose in saving and improving environment.

Taking into consideration that this project of climate change is a long term one, there can appear also a negation from the public because they can lose confidence in what authorities said. There are different oppinions regarding the relevance of this matter in different countries, for example America, Australia or Japan, because seems to be a fight for supremacy regarding the higher level of climate change, without really doing something that can be noticed. Those are reasons why this issue of climate change is considered to be more a business than a reality and it was associated to the term: „casino”.

 

 

Articles:

1)  “US business leaders must break silence on climate change”, The Guardian, by Jo Confino, 3th of Decembers, http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/us-business-leaders-climate-change-silence

2) „Another shabby Warsaw Pact” , The economist, Science and technology, Climate negotiation,  November, 30th, 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/international/21590961-not-really-fair-cop-another-shabby-warsaw-pact?zid=313&ah=fe2aac0b11adef572d67aed9273b6e55

3) ‘Climate Casino’: An Overview of Global Warming, New York Times, by Fred Andrews, November, 30th, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/business/climate-casino-an-overview-of-global-warming.html?ref=earth

MURARIU RALUCA (MCGE) – REACTION PAPER – THE AGE OF STUPID

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“The age of stupid” is a documentary that focuses on the evolution of climate changes on earth until 2055, when supposedly, the earth is destroyed.

The film begins by showing images of the earth from 2055, so it can be seen that Sydney is burning, London is flooded, the Alps have no more snow and Las Vegas is swallowed by the desert, all of these being effects of the catastrophic climate changes.

In order to explain these facts and how the climate changed in the manner that everything got destroyed until that year, the documentary starts by putting the main actor Pete Postlethwaite in the center, he being the one that explains with facts and proves how the earth came to this result.

In this film, Pete Postlethwaite plays the role of an archivist entrusted to guard the last remaining materials form the dead earth. He lives in a lighthouse, of some sort, in the middle of the Artic, named The Global Archive. This lighthouse holds the remaining work of arts of the world, two of each species of animals kept in formal and every book, every movie and every scientific report ever made.

The documentary enters in the main idea when the main actor decided to look upon some stories from the archive. All of these stories are actually interviews with real people, none of them being directed or adulterated.

In the film there are six stories of different people, from different parts of the world, all of the stories leading to a single idea, the devastating end that will come in 2055.

“We could have saved ourselves, but we didn’t. It’s amazing. What state of mind where we in to face extinction and simply shrug it off

The first story is of Jeh Wadia, a rich heir, which lives in Mumbai and tries to fulfill his long life dream to build an Indian aircraft company as large as the ones from USA or Europe. He doesn’t take in consideration the large emission of CO2 and the fact that he is building something that will cause the planet harm, but only on the fact that the airline he designs will improve the quality of life for the Indian society.

Another story is of Alvin DuVernay, from New Orleans, a paleontologist working for Shell Company, a company that is extracting oil from all over the world. Paradoxically, he is a person that cares about the environment and he is also known by a hero in New Orleans, managing to save almost 100 people after the hurricane Katrina.

Another case is of Layefa Malemi, a Nigerian 23 old girl, living in poverty in a small village adulterated by Shell oil extractions. She explains the severe damages that occurred in her village and the neighborhood villages from the oil exploitation like polluted water, undrinkable, polluted air and soli, all of these causing diseases and deaths in that area. She says that all the money from the oil goes to the government that doesn’t do anything to help them and that she dreams of becoming a doctor in order to help the people from her village, but she has no money for that so she has to work as a diesel distributer in the black market.

Piers Guy is an environmentalist. He works as wind-farm developer and is trying to convince people to build wind-farms on their land. He is very discouraged when he sees that people don’t care about the benefits of wind turbines, rather they would like for their land to look esthetic, being that a wind-farm is unappealing to the eye.

The story of Fernand Pareau is a live demonstration of the climate change. This 82 year old man is the oldest mountain guide that works in the France Alps. Among his career he witness the alpine glaciers melting by 150 meters and also the pollution caused by the trucks that carry goods on the roads from the bottom of the Alps.

A more touching story is the one of Jamila Bayyoud, an Iraqi refugee living on the streets of Jordan. She with her brothers witnessed the death of their father and the destruction of their home during the US invasion in 2003. Their dream is to go back to Iraqi, but when it will be better and when it will be no more war.

The conclusion main problem in the world that link all of these stories together is the “oil war”. Pollution caused by the extraction of oil, war started because a land that has oil and so on.

The main idea in not the problem of the oil extraction, but the fact that we need so much oil for all our day to day activities. If we could not live without oil maybe we can reduce some other polluting activities, but as it is showed in the film, people are far to commode with the way that they live in order to make a change.

It is showed that if most of the people are living “the good life” they are bound to ignore what is happening around them and this state is relevant mostly for USA and Europe. The main problem is consumerism, and so we are destroying the earth.

“Lots of ideas have tried to take over the world (communism, fascism, religion, scientology, democracy) but there is only one winner (consumerism). 3000 ads bombard us every day telling us that we will be happier, more attractive and with better skin if only we buy their product. To get there they create the incentive of insatiable desire to buy more and more stuff…If all 6.5 million people here on earth consume like the European and the Japanese we would need two more planets worth of resources, if everyone would consume as the Americans, the Australian or the Canadians we would need another four”

The depth in which this documentary is formed can make all of us realize the state in which we are but, if we don’t care for others from other continents, or that we are using and spoiling most of the resources, and all we care is to have it all we will lose the planet, not for us but for our children children.

As seen in this film, all of the used earth resources and the methods we use to get to them are harming the environment in such manner that the clime will change and little by little the earth will be destroyed. In 2009, when the documentary was made, it already started, and now in 2013 is continuing without any change.

I think this documentary is a wakeup call for everyone on this planet and seeing it makes me thinking of making a change, but a single person is not enough, we all need to take in consideration the effects our mass consumerism has over the world.

“I think that everyone from the future will blame us for not thinking to protect the environment. We knew how to profit but not how to protect”

LEONTE ALEXANDRA-CLAUDIA (MCGE) – REACTION PAPER – FOOD INC.

In 2008, co-producers Eric Schlooser, Richard Pearce and Mellissa Robledo released a documentary called Food Inc., directed by Robert Kenner. The movie discusses the illusion of healthy products in the food industry from USA and tries to raise awareness upon the veil that has been triggered between consumers and the way the products are made. The subject can be discussed on a global perspective, just because a lot of these corporations had gone global with their products, such as McDonald’s and KFC.

Even if there are images and massages about farmers on products we consume, these are not handled by them, but by corporations that has no knowledge of what farming is about. These are the only ones that win, because they control the food from seed to the market. Food has become dangerous, animals and workers are being abused and the average consumer is “protected” by all this information.

Eric Schlosser, an investigative journalist, takes us through a journey that shows us how cruel this world became when it comes to the production of food. The movie is divided in segments, each of them covering and issue in the food industry.

The films shows how the McDonald brother’s revolutionary idea of transforming the back kitchen into a factory idea, where staff members are trained to do one thing only. That way they cut down prices both into paying employees and into selling the product itself. McDonald’s is one of the corporations that own the purchases of ground beef industry, the chicken industry and all the other basic products needed by them. By owning everything and turn into mass production, you reduce the costs but you also change some natural structures. That is why encouraging such industry to young people brings nothing good. In USA it is acknowledged that working in such restaurants means you have reached ends meet, but is the international segment of people that is encouraging these multinational corporations to keep up with their work.

If in the 70’s a group of companies controlled just 25% of the industry, nowadays the top four corporations control more than 80% of it.  It has reached the point where people are consuming products from corporations even if they don’t go to restaurants. Raisin of animals such as beef and chicken has meat new standards. Animals are feed growth hormones so they don’t evolve naturally, so most of them die. It is a cruelty to animals and people are not allowed to know these subjects.

American corn industry is a very important one. Farmers are paid to overproduce, because specialists discovered all sorts of ways to utilize corn in the food industry. It is the main product that is being feed to the animals so they grow faster. Both corn and soybeans is the base of all food products. Unlike the corn, the soybean industry is owned by corporations, which has genetically modified them, so they practically own it. Any farmer that dares to raise soybeans is prosecuted by the corporation.

This genetically modified food had given birth to the deathly E.coli bacteria. The movie shows a case of a 2 year old child that has died by eating a hamburger. The case has impressed me a lot because that child had to suffer the greediness of the food industry and it induces the idea that these corporations will walk on death bodies just to reach their goals. What triggered my attention is the mother’s statement, where she said that people trust the government to protect them, but the government fails to protect them on most basic levels. Kevin’s Law was an attempt to shut down facilities that repeatedly fail to pass a health test, but because of the corporations interests that law has been dropped.

Nowadays, it is cheaper to go get a dollar meal. It has reached the point where healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy one. The hardest things to get were salt, fat and sugar, because in the old times you had to purchase different items to get them. Nowadays, they are hidden in our daily diet through fast food products. Farmers that do things traditionally are considered to have unsanitary conditions, but either way their health tests are better than the ones corporations has. One of the movie actors stated at one point that the cheaper the food is, the more it has been substituted. The only problem with organic food (as they are called now) is that they are way more expensive then modified one, that triggering the consumer’s attitude towards more unhealthy products.

Another subject touched by the movie was the problem that USA faces with the immigrants. Most of the people that came into USA to work were Mexican farmers that were taken out of business by the USA corn industry. Those people were left unemployed, so the corporations had made campaigns of mass immigration for people to work, even know it was on low wages and without the right to complain about work conditions. There was also a convenience to deport 50 immigrants a day and so there is no need for mass rates. The ones who get advantages are the corporations, because they acquire cheap work force, with no fears of complains.

In the end, the movie sets the Tabaco industry as a model and states that if people are willing to change their health diets, the food industry can become a better place.

Somehow, the American model is being embarrassed by a lot of investors as the best model there is out there. The idea of mass production and profit is one that drives anyone crazy, no matter of the consequences. I know for a fact that people that consumes genetically modify food feels guilty and would like to consume more healthy stuff, but because of the prices, they eventually quit the idea. Making your own food is time and budget consuming and in the world that we live in, buying already prepped products seems the best way to go. Lying to ourselves is not the wisest thing. As the lady in the film (the one that was eating 1 dollar meal with her husband and two girls) says, people are faced with buying medicine to keep their life and buying food to stay healthy. If there isn’t a mass movement from the people towards healthy products, I believe that this industry will only turn worse.

GEORGESCU ALEXANDRU (MPE) – REACTION PAPER – INSIDE JOB

Charles Ferguson’s “Inside Job” is about the true nature of the financial crisis that occurred during 2008 and the select group behind it. It was a surprise then for many people, how is it possible to happen a fraud at this level with global consequences? It is just a long journey since the 1980s deregulation and in 2008 the bubble just exploded. To be frankly during the time I saw this movie my blood was pumping with anger and the feeling of injustice.

Academicians, government officials, financial leaders they are all part of a corrupt system that melted down after the economic boom, they controlled and architect this whole Ponzi scheme regarding their own interest and not the public interest they were supposed to protect.

Unnecessary risks were taken with catastrophic consequences, mortgage loans were granted by local banks to almost anyone, why? Because they weren’t guaranteed by the local banks, they were effectively sold to a higher institution as bonds and so on until a mutual investment fund in the end of the chain earned it. In the end because of all these bad loans the system imploded.

A bubble is a bubble and it explodes sometimes, they thought that the system is too big to fall and it didn’t (beside Lehman Brothers) but with what cost to the taxpayers? The CEO’s kept their money and denied everything even in court and the population paid the bill! We are all victims of a handful of people with obscure and greedy intentions and the process of failure is accelerated by the globalization era and interconnected market we all live in today now if it happens it’s really fast!

Artificial instruments, complex design of financial instruments by academic personnel with only one goal to be useless to the average people but useful to a particular group of people and to serve their particular interest, this isn’t fair this isn’t ethical but it is mind-boggling!

In conclusion my opinion is that financial market needs regulations, the market must be free but it should have strict rules regarding how the game is played, when we have no rules this happens: too much power to a few corrupt people leads to nothing good as we experienced. In future government agencies like Financial Industry Regulatory Authority should and must have the courage to impose a certain code of ethics and regulations so that we can avoid a future crisis and reconsolidate trust among investors and citizens.

Dinescu Alexa Ioana (MCGE) – Reaction paper- Inside job

Charles Ferguson’s “Inside Job” is strong, fair, and rational. The director tries mightily to untangle the complex architecture of the financial meltdown that has cost millions their jobs, their homes, and their savings. If you consider skipping it because it sounds boring, please think again. My blood is still boiling. Why puts this documentary a lot of despair in people”s minds?? Because it confirms the certainty that there is no one left we can trust. The fact that much of what brought the economy to its knees was legal, not criminal, signals a financial sector run by ethical nihilists who will pursue every legal loophole to enrich themselves and to enslave the others.. Human nature, you say? Then bring back the stringent regulation that gave the industry forty years of reasonable corporate success before Reagan era deregulation. The schoolyard bullies need supervision.But who can start doing such a thing? America’s bubble of private gain and public loss was pierced by the collapse of Lehman Bros. and AIG. Banks merged into “too big to fail” behemoths; safeguards were overturned; regulation of derivatives was banned; This vacuum quickly filled with money laundering, defrauding of customers, cooking the books, and stuffing of the pockets of top officers with money. Larry Summers took 20 million as adviser to a hedge fund. Lehman’s CEO took 485 million, the CEO of the failing AIG 315 million. Fired by Merrill, CEO Stan O’Neal departed with a severance bonus of 161 million. When Mortgages were bundled and sold to the bloated investment banks, lenders no longer cared if they were repaid. Goldman, Lehman, and Merrill were all players. Summers, Bernanke, and Geithner all stood against corrective measures and would play pivotal roles in the Obama administration. Absent limits on the impulsive risk takers, Wall Street plunged into personal pleasure. There was never enough: penthouses on Park, private jets (six for Lehman alone), vacation homes, art collections, drivers, private elevators, drugs, alcohol, strip bars, and prostitution – one private supplier within spitting distance of the stock exchange counted 10,000 men among her customers.. Three ratings agencies made fortunes bestowing unwarranted ratings right up to two days before Lehman failed, later testifying before congress that these were merely “opinions”, not guides for investors. The crowning disgrace is the corruption of the universities. Business school professors consult with companies. Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School, takes $250,000 as a board member of Met Life. Larry Summers, back at Harvard, continues to rake in consulting and lecture fees. The presidents of Harvard and Columbia refused comment. You will appreciate the honesty of Raghuram Rajan who wrote strong warnings and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who spoke with disgust of the debacle. It used to be that respected academics could be counted on to be the conscience of democracy. Now they are reduced to being interchangeable components in the conflict of interest chain that links business/government/university. Maybe the Greeks where indeed right not agreeing with the democratic system back in the days. Credit Charles Ferguson with a superb investigation and give thanks that we still have a free investigative press to wake the sleeping citizenry. But is it really true? Perhaps the most sensational aspect of this film is Ferguson’s contention that the crash corrupted the discipline of economics itself. Distinguished economists from America’s Ivy League universities were drafted in by banks to compose reports syncophantically supporting reckless deregulation. This is the road that made us sleep and made them active. There is a frightening lack of balance between people who offer and the ones who buy what the others offer. Therefore, we have a system that sells useless things and people who got educated in the idea that such things are needed and the same people have been educated to think that they need a system and they need higher authority to take credit for their beliefs. They were massively paid for these consultancies. The banks bought the prestige of the academics, and their universities’ prestige, too. Ferguson speaks to many of these economists, who clearly thought they were going to be interviewed as wry, dispassionate observers. It is really something to see the expression of shock, outrage and fear on their faces as they realise they’re in the dock. One splutters with vexation; another gives vent to a ripe Freudian slip. Asked by Ferguson if he has any regrets about his behaviour, he says: “I have no comments … uh, no regrets.” This is what Ferguson means by “inside job”. There is a revolving door between the banks and the higher reaches of government, and to some extent the groves of academe. Bank CEOs become government officials, creating laws convenient for their once and future employers.

Cârstocea Ana (MCGE) – Portofolio: European muslims fighters in Syria

A lots of european muslims are going to fight in Syria.  While Syria sees in this fact a salvation, the EU and also America is concerned about it.  Muslims from France, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Norway are leaving to join protests and fight in Syria. Syria attracts fighters from North Africa who speak the language and know the culture. Denmark and Belgium, for example, have a high proportion of citizens from North Africa.  Also FBI warns about americans joining islamic fighters in Syria. The american officials are worried that this fact is rising the  chances they could become radicalized by Al Qaeda-linked militant groups and return to the U.S. as battle-hardened security risks. As a political scientist said the number of European fighters in Syria may exceed the total number of Muslim foreign fighters from all Western countries to all conflicts between 1990 and 2010 (that the above-mentioned study estimated to just under a thousand). And we are only 2.5 years into the Syrian war.

 

 For detailed informations see the links provided below:

 

Arab news: http://www.arabnews.com/news/488111

 Israel news: http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Historically-unprecedented-number-of-European-Muslim-fighters-in-Syria-333457

American Renaissance: http://www.amren.com/news/2013/12/fbi-warns-about-americans-joining-islamic-fighters-in-syria/

IVAN ELENA (MCGE)-PORTOFOLIO : An extreme weather phenomenon in northwestern Europe: nightmare hours spent in Xaver’s company

Northwestern Europe is severely affected by the storm Xaver, one of the most dangerous and powerful in recent decades. External sources of news continue to gather data regarding the number of lives lost and property damage caused by this natural phenomenon. The images are downright dramatic and prove the seriousness and magnitude of the situation. Strong wind and high waves disrupted the activity of citizens of the affected countries, so schools were closed, most of the people took care to shelter, but transport remained the most affected. With a wind speed of over 100 km per hour, fallen trees, evacuated homes and loss of human lives, activity in these countries with serious problems seems to be turned upside down. Among the involved countries are mentioned: UK, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Germany, and Norway.

For detailed information see the links provided below:

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25243460

THE NEW YORK TMES: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/awaiting-worst-storm-surge-in-60-years-britain-closes-thames-barrier/?_r=0

THE GUARDIAN: http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/dec/06/storm-xaver-northern-europe-in-pictures

Cristina Andrei (MPE) – Reaction Paper – 5 Broken Cameras

In the mid 20th century a war began between Israeli and Palestinians which formed the core of the wider Israeli-Arab conflict. Since it started, progress has been made in the sense that the Israeli were able to reconcile with Jordan and Egypt, but there has been no conclusion regarding Palestinians. Apparently the majority of each nation prefers a two-state solution but there have been problems coming to a final agreement.

“5 Broken Cameras” is a documentary by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi about this ongoing war and struggle regarding territory. The footage was shot using 6 cameras, out of which 5 were broken, by a farmer who says he films in order to “hold on to his memory”; this is a chronicle of a small Palestinian village’s non-violent resistance to the Israeli army.

The cameras filmed starting with winter 2005 throughout spring 2010. They tell us the story of Bil’in citizens who rely on olive tree plantations in order to survive. Then Israeli bulldozers come to clear land, olive trees included, in order to make room for new settlements. This is when the villagers start organizing weekly non-violent protests with people of all nations joining them.  

An interesting aspect is that, apparently, one of the ways through which Jews can barely legally claim a land is if trailers are camped on that land and concrete outposts are built. This proves, as we see in the movie, to be a double standard because they will make use of this loophole to take possession of land but will not recognize the same legal right to their Palestinian neighbors.

The footage shows the army becoming more and more hostile to the people protesting no matter their nationality, they raid the village at night, arrest people and even children.

At some point Bil’in hires an attorney to try to legally stop the Israeli from taking more of their land. The Israeli court decides the fence should be taken down, but the decision is not enforced. Instead, the barrier spreads to other villages and they too adopt the Bil’in example.

When I watched this documentary it was impossible not to side with the Palestinians who were making reasonable arguments; I was appalled by the injustice they were facing and the brutal way the army responded to their always non-violent protests – they even brought their children to the demonstrations. Tension between protesters and the army grows and people die. Emotions explode and one day they try to take down the fence; many are injured.

Finally some justice seems to be made as the court’s decision begins to be implemented and the barrier is taken down. But instead, a concrete wall is built a bit further; some lands are returned to their owners, but the scars remain both on the land and in the hearts of people.

What is touching is that even the settlers agree that the situation is not fair as some of them join the protests on the villagers’ side. It’s true that the Israeli have, in their turn, suffered great losses, injustice and discrimination during the war; actually, this might be the reason for their behavior now, maybe they were hardened by their experience and so they decided that they will not lose again, no matter means they have to employ. However, the fact remains that the way by which they are occupying the land is unethical and also illegal even by their own laws.

It seems to me that these are two nations who have suffered a lot and both have a lot at stake. Until the wounds heal, I think that the conflict will continue, to the psychical exhaustion of both people, because they will not be able to reach a compromise.

EUGEN MĂNĂRCESCU (MCGE) – REACTION PAPER – KAPITALISM. OUR IMPROVED FORMULA (2010)

“Kapitalism. Rețeta noastră secretă” (also known as “Kapitalism. Our Improved Formula” in the Anglophone world) is a 2010 documentary directed by Alexandru Solomon. What I find really important about this film is that it is able to provide a bitter, yet realistic and powerful description of post-Communist Romania. I think that the structure of the film itself is catchy. Alexandru Solomon uses his creative imagination to present figures of the new wealthy Romanian elites by making use of a set of framing stories combined with animated Lego figures. Moreover, as the narration unfolds, the filmmaker invoked a haunting memory from the past – i.e. the former ruler Nicolae Ceaușescu – to witness post-revolutionary Romania’s transformation from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. To achieve this goal, the original footage of the former dictator is intertwined in a clever manner with scenes from present time Romania. The topic itself (i.e. Romania’s transition towards a market economy) touches a sensitive nerve in almost every Romanian. In order to ease off potential tension and to make the film easily accepted by the public, Alexandru Solomon makes use of irony, sarcasm and, last but not least, a notable sense of humour.

My personal perception is that the entire film revolves around two key concepts: economy and ethics. One after the other, seven (i.e. Dan Voiculescu, Dinu Patriciu, George Pădure, Ioan Niculae, George Copos, Dan Diaconescu and George Becali) of Romania‘s most prominent businessmen are presented and interviewed. Despite a sharp contrast between Romania’s bleak past and its colourful present marked by consumerism, one of the most striking conclusions is that there is a close bond between the old and the new world: in order to thrive, the nouveau-riches still need strong connections, cronyism and corruption, just as they did a few decades ago. I think it is a compelling feeling to hear the apologetic arguments some of them use to explain their obscure ties with the former secret police agency Securitate. Arrogance? Cynism? Probably both. On the other hand, these men are all survivors, they obviously possess a remarkable charisma and shrewdness. I feel that their opportunistic behaviour helped them grab chances early in the 90′s when most Romanians were unprepared for the shift to capitalism and lacked financial savvy.

While this film addresses some really interesting points about planned and market economy, I don’t think it was meant to serve as propaganda for or against capitalism. In my opinion, it was rather aimed at raising some topical questions. In the end, I am asking myself the following question: what happened in the past 20+ years – was it a real change, after all?

MACHITA ANDREEA – CRISTINA (MCGE) – REACTION PAPER, THE AGE OF STUPID

This documentary revolves around consumption, and to be more precise about the oil consumption. There have been 5 cases presented here, from different parts of the world, 4 continents and there’s only one thing that they have in common, Royal Dutch Shell, an oil company.

I hereby present the main idea of this 2009 documentary, which is climate change and how this has been influenced and still is, by man doings.

Such as the buttefly effect, in India, there has been great fuss around the opening of a new airline company. Jobs have been offered with the purpose of getting the Indian people out of poverty. Why do some have so much and others so little? By wanting to give back to the people, they did not think how this would affect the Africans let’s say. In Nigeria there’s a big chunk of oil that all great nations want to drilll for. For instance, to be able to fly from the ground, one or 24 airplanes. But with the fuel consumption, someone has to build oil rigs and drill for oil, then of course, burn the rests and as a consequence, polutting the air and water. This in effect has caused massive damage to the people that live there, as the toxic waste has opened the path for diseases such as asthma or bronchitis. But the government in Nigeria does not care about this as long as they stuck big chuncks of money into their pockets. They have even turned to killings.

Everything is made out of oil, so why not save some for later? There’s no surprise that the war in Iraq began as a battle for oil and millions of lives have been taken and no mercy at that. But the government is oil and as long as we have a lot, we desire for more.

On another note, people have forgotten to appreciate what they have and have started to lose track of the alternative energy resources. This begs the question: why have we stopped using electric cars, wind turbines or solar panels? Because it’s easier to spend more as long as it’s on the table for everyone to have a slice of. But it’s not just one slice, it’s the whole cake. We are destroying the planet, step by step.

Everyone owns a car now, they spread ethanol into thin air, and they enjoy fancy plane rides. Why wouldn’t they? It’s easier to hop on a plane in the morning from point A to be in time for lunch to point B. But is it there? Fuel emissions spread their wings and off they erradicate the planet along with its earthlings.

There have been chances to build wind turbines in the UK, the weather there suits it, but have they agreed to it? Some have and some were built, but not enough as “it would spoil the view”, to put in in their words.

Due to global warming, glaciars are melting bit by bit every day, it’s a manmade mess here, I tell you. It’s a privilege nowadays to sky in the Alps. There was a small part of the documentary shot in France, where the glaciars, as beautiful as they are, I’m afraid that they are melting every day more. It’s unfortunate, as our future generation will not know all four seasons, the passing will be made unknowingly from winter to summer and viceversa. But what we do with full knowing pottential is destroying our planet, instead of protecting it.

It’s a pitty actually that governments are willing to destroy every life form and every straw of grass just to have their pockets full. So people do what they know best to get rid from this life, they take their lives in good faith. It’s oil supremacy over humans. They have grown sick of drinking filty water filled with oil residue.

Hurricanes have also been portrayed here, the pain of seeing your life savings gone in a glimpse of a moment. You try to save as much as you can, but hey, who are we to keep shields upon natural disasters? This is what’s come of us. We’ve destroyed everything: fertile lands, seabeds, animals, vegetation, water, wood and now the nature’s getting even. And for good reason. We’ve had it coming a long time now.

So now, instead of taking action or better said, changing the course of action by protests , we just sit back and wonder what could ve have done. Its’ time to act and to be at one with nature.

Kirsten Hoepker, Erasmus, Reaction paper on “The Inside Job”

The documentary “The Inside Job” from 2010 deals with the origin and effects of the Global economy crisis of 2008. The movie seeks to explain how it came to the crisis but also who they think are the persons responsible. It shows the power of the financial lobby and how the people, who have influence on the economic decisions of the government, are all interconnected. It explains the economic progress in an easy to understand way, even for people like me who do not have a lot of knowledge on that subject.

Before the movie starts to focus on the USA and its financial sector, it shows on the example of Iceland, how other countries were affected by the financial crisis. At the same time it is also an introduction to one of the major themes of the movie- effects a deregulated market can have. Iceland deregulated market caused by the descriptions of the makers and the people they interviewed, to go from a stable economy with low unemployment and good living conditions to a country which is largely in debt and has an unemployment rate of 13%

The first part of the movie gives historic overview of the development of the financial sector in the USA. One point I found every interesting was that a stockbroker was not a very well paid job until the deregulation of the markets started and the salaries started to high rocket. Also the maker of the documentary pinpoint the time in which the deregulation started to the Regan administration, in which the former CEO of one of the major banks was appoint as the economic advisor of the president. The other point that stays in mind is amount of criminal behavior that banks and investment firms show. They have been prosecuted for washing money for a South-American dictator among other things, and always ended up with a fine and nothing else. But what really bugged me was that the Rating-agencies play such an important role in the economy cannot be held responsible for their ratings in any way. They later in the movie state that their ratings are just opinions and it is up to you if you believe them or not, but truth is that they are not handled as opinions.

The second part of the movie talked about the housing market bubble, which burst many see as the starting point of the global economic crisis. In this part I found interesting that in opposite of what many bankers said afterwards, that the crisis was unforeseeable, that there were indeed voices that warned them, as early as 2005, about the possible causes of their business practices could mean. But not only did they not listen to the advice they were given, but also they in the case of Goldman Sachs the documentary makers claim that they actually knew the crisis was coming and while their customers lost their lives savings, the made hundreds of millions of Dollars, but once again the movie documented that they had not really been hold accountable for their actions.

In the Last part of the movie the makers move away from explaining the economic process and talk more about individual persons. The effects the crisis had on the “little people” were that more than 6 million lost their home. The crisis also damaged the American manufacturing base and many jobs were out-sourced to low-income countries like China. Meanwhile the people who were in part responsible for the crisis got to keep all their money or even made more money on the bail-out that was paid by the Tax payers. The movie ends on the note that this people now hold major government positions.

Overall the movie is a very solid base of information, although it becomes very clear that the makers of the documentary support an anti-financial sector position. On the other hand since the information they present is backed up by interviews with influential people in the industry, the message they want to give concerning the crisis seems to be reliable. But the seeming reliability of the information leaves you all the more frustrated with the general lack of consequences for the people, who played poker with other people’s lives and lost.

FLORIN GEORGESCU (MPE): Root of All Evil ?

Clinton Richard Dawkins, born on 26 March 1941, is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author.

The Root of All Evil is a television documentary written and presented by Richard Dawkings.
The documentary is divided into two parts. Part 1 is called the God Delusion and part 2 is called The virus of Faith.

The whole documentary is based on a simple idea : Humanity would be better off without religion or belief in God.

Although, you may consider that he ‘attacks’ religion very roughly, he does have some strong points of view. For example, the first topic regarding religion is about miracles. Do miracles really happen? Professor Richard visits the shrine of Lourdes in southern France where people believe that the water has healing capabilities. He strongly beliefs that they are more likely to catch a disease from the water used by the thousands of people than find a cure. I agree with him. Never was it proven that someone can get cured from a disease only by drinking water. Maybe if they were suffering from dehydration. Some may say that no records of proven miracles exists. And that`s true. People can get better or not. But that doesn`t mean that miracles don`t exists, or that we shouldn’t`t believe in them. Yes, we should`t put all our hope in miracles, but when medicine fails, all that remains is hope. Hope that a miracle can happen. There are cases where the human mind did more then medicine could. Even if a person doesn`t get cured, believing, still helps him to overcome the situation.

I agree that there is a conflict between religion and science. He says, “People like to say that faith and science can live together side by side but I don’t think they can. Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt, questing with logic, evidence and reason to draw conclusions. Faith by stark contrast demands a positive suspension of critical faculties. Science proceeds by setting up hypothesizes, ideas, or models and then attempts to disprove them. Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time”. He does have a
lot of faith in science, maybe to much if you ask me. Although science is logic, it has its flaws.

He treats religion as a virus, that can lead to the destruction of our race. A lot of wars were caused by religion or religious people. Crussades, terrorist attacks and others. And all in the name of religion..or are they? A lot of wars weren`t caused by religion. There are terrorist attacks that aren`t caused by religion. I heard about atheist terrorist attacks. So what was their reason? Maybe they were frustrated, angry or just crazy. I think that evil is a part of the human nature. Religion or not, there will be bad people and there will be good people. I belief that evil people that do evil things will always exists, and many of them use religion only as an excuse.

Is believing really that bad? I think that belief has its benefits. What if there was no Christmas? I know that Jesus wasn`t born in December, but sometime in autumn, and that Christmas was a pagan tradition, but because early Christians wanted to convert pagans, they ‘took it, or so they say. Even so. Christmas is our favorite time of the year. It`s the chance to gather up with the family and have all those worm feelings that we sometimes forget that we have. I think that believing in something lies in human nature. Every civilization had a deity, or several. We choose to believe, we need to believe, because, if not, I believe we will be lost.

Before I saw this documentary , I always thought that religion is behind our morality and without it we would behave like animals. But now i know that morality developed progressively along with evolution, and that it predates religion. Even so, religion helps it by having certain rules, moral rules, that people use.

Richard Dawkins desires a world full of atheists. But what is atheism? Isn`t that a sort of religion? You believe that there is no God. Why? No one proved that there is or isn`t. How can you say that there isn`t one? I know that he gives a very good example with “Bertrand Russesll`s celestial teapot” analogy, but you can`t know for sure that there isn`t a god.

And what about afterlife? No one has been to the afterlife and come back. Well , except for Jesus. So, should we believe in it or not? It has its ups and downs. If we choose to belive in the afterlife, in Heaven, then we can believe in salvation. Even if this life didn`t treated us as good as it treated others, even if we didn`t had the looks, the wealth or the health in this life, we will have it all in the afterlife, and that means eternity. But what if there isn`t an afterlife? What if that`s it.. We just die.. I know it`s sad…real sad if you ask me. But if we know that, at least we can try and make the best out of this life. I believe that even if there is or isn`t an afterlife, I choose to make the best out of this life, and still hope and believe that there is something after. I still choose to believe that things don`t end when we die and I know for sure that science isn`t always right

In conclusion, religion has its drawbacks. It holds science down. It doesn`t let us to think for ourselves, to put questions regarding our life. Even so, I don`t think that religion is the root of all evil. I only think that religion has its bad parts and good parts, we can learn from it, we can choose to believe in it, or just parts of it.

I believe that religion and science can coexist.

“Science and religion are not at odds. Science is simply too young to understand.” (Dan Brown)

IVAN ELENA (MCGE)- REACTION PAPER- THE CENTURY OF THE SELF

My arguments are based on the documentary which is called The Century of the Self , directed by Adam Curtis, a British film producer, in 2002.  This theory is supported by the grandson of the famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, who  put into practice and developed a broad strategy of mass persuasion based on his uncle’s works. Edward Bernays  is the personality around which the entire narrative takes place, he is known as the father of public relations, the man who managed to gain control of people’s minds in terms of consumer behavior.

The film has four parts, namely: Part 1 — Happiness Machines, Part 2 — The Engineering of Consent, Part 3 — There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed and Part 4 — Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering, parts aiming to highlight  the fact that urban development urged the need to understand deeply the human mind in order to manipulate it to buy certain products in favor of the skilled manufacturers.

This documentary examines  the twentieth century capitalism, it is about the individual’s motivation to engage in consumption, looming the idea that human behavior is based on a wide range of emotions produced by ideals, interests or repressed necessities. Every part of this documentary brings up important moments in the history of mass consumerism, about how human behaviors are controlled by different corporations in order to maintain active consumer preferences.

As a consequence of those times, currently, society knows a fierce competition in the product market dominance. This competitive advantage can be explained either by offering customers products that have lower prices compared to what the competition offers, or to justify higher prices by providing consumers a greater number of benefits. It is analyzed and sustained the belief that social aspects of language, influence both the personal and the professional, because emotions are involved in our daily life, they are felt in tone, timbre of voice, facial mimics, gestures.

In my opinion, a good example is the sequence in which the narrator talks about Bernays strategy to convince women start smoking. He induced women the feeling that smoking would put them in a light equal to men and their smoking gestures would highlight their sensuality. Thus, he managed to erase preconceptions which claimed that smoking is a masculine habit and women who would do that would be worthy of contempt. Little by little, Edward Bernays managed to change mentalities in marketing and demonstrated  how important is  communication with the target audience, how great it is to induce a subliminal idea of the need for a particular product. From then until now, things have evolved into a high enough rate and today employees who identify with corporate values ​​will positively influence consumer behavior because their behavior will be one of the topics about which customers will talk among themselves.

Largely, the conclusion after watching this documentary would be that motivation and emotion are based on needs, which is the immediate cause of the substrate activities and human behavior.We know that there are differences between reason and emotion, it is true that they are often ignored because we appeal to conscience and use rationale. Emotion underlies our decisions and desires, so we can say that we have come to control our emotional impulses if you are successful in emergencies, in situations of panic or even mastery of the ego, so I can say that these findings of the “self”improved by Bernays and his followers led to the development of marketing strategies.

Teodora Pătrăuceanu (MPE) – Reaction Paper: The Century of the Self

The main idea of the documentary “The Century of the Self”, the first part – “Happiness machines” is how the people with a certain influence or “the ones in power” master, dominate or lead a crowd by using Freud’s ideas about a mass. Basically, the documentary tries to respond to the question – “how can one control the behavior of crowds” by giving examples of Eduard Bernays’ actions.

I think this movie is essential for the ones who want to understand how consumerism was encouraged and how a person can be influenced by the drive of a mass in order to do something that by himself alone he would not have done. Personally, I consider it a very good documentary for the people who study or have studied public relations, because it offers insights and examples of how this domain started; this is also the reason for which I chose to write about this particular part – “Happiness machines”.

First of all, from my point of view, the aim of the director – Adam Curtis – is to demonstrate that we act like “happiness machines”, because the desire of being happy or satisfied or superior may drive people to act in a different manner than they used to.

I have to mention the fact that Eduard Bernays was “the American nephew of Sigmund Freud”, so he “was the first to take Freud’s ideas about human beings and use them to manipulate the masses”.

The idea that “deep instinct drives people”, specifically “powerful sexual and aggressive forces”, “feelings we repress, because they are too dangerous” – scared the Austrian Empire.

In 1914,  with the war coming, practically Freud’s ideas are confirmed. In the same time, his nephew, Eduard Bernays was a “press agent in America”. In the context of a war, Bernays was hired to promote democracy within Europe and America and made the president  look like an liberator, a promotor of freedom.

Second of all, it is mentioned the birth of public relations as a mask for propaganda. But, I think that we all agree with the fact that public relations try to design images with different interests, while propaganda tries to establish an ideology without any room for disagreement. So, what will Bernays use – propaganda or public relations – in order to draw the public’s attention? Before bringing this into discussion, I would like to clarify the meaning of propaganda from two perspectives. In the first one, the message of propaganda is so constructed that one or more of the following remain secret: communication source, goal or intention, reverse the story (other than those presented perspectives, consequences or intentions), techniques used in the message source, the results of propaganda – if the source goals are reached (Charles U. Larson, 393 – 394). On the other side, “whether the problem is in getting elected or in the problem of interpreting and popularizing new issues, the use of propaganda, carefully adjusted to the mentality of the masses, is an essential adjunct of political life” (Edward L. Bernays, 94).

The introduction to psychoanalysis of Freud helped Bernays to think if he “could make money by manipulating the unconscious”. And it is possible to make people act irrational if you link products with feelings, emotions. And as an example, the father of public relations promoted cigarettes to women as being “lights of freedom”. Personally, I really like what he did, even if it is not orthodox, because he came with the idea of a product which gives you feelings.

The era of consumerism started to grow, as well as the approach of desire “to want more” and how the corporations were reaching the masses to sell products.  Bernays was also the one who introduced product placement in movies and in magazines as endorcement.

In the third way, also an interesting approach, manly to women, is the psychology of how one should dress  in order to express her/his feelings, desire and personality.

Irrationality is leading the masses, more “people must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed”.  And like this “humans became happiness machines” and also the society. But, of course, it had to be a moment of shaking in the economic life of America, because “shares on the New York stock exchange started to fall”.  And in late October, 1929,  “the market collapsed”.

Of course, the political part comes more and more into discussion, because as well as the Nazi, president Roosevelt wanted to transform societies, but in a different way.

The   appearance of surveys brought another way of thinking – people know what they want and they are not driven by irrational forces, so they are able to frankly respond to a series of questions.

To conclude, I think the film gave me a proper understanding of the differences between propaganda and public relations: propaganda campaigns have the tendency to unify opinions, attitudes and behaviors’ audience. Perhaps the most harmful aspect of communication such as propaganda is obstructing and even blocking thinking; propaganda does not address a reason to the receptor, but to his irrational part.

Works cited:

1. Bernays, Edward L., Propaganda, New York, 1928

2. Larson, Charles U., Persuasion. Reception and Responsibility, Wadsworth, 2007

MIHĂILĂ ANTOANELA-FLORINA (MCGE) – PORTFOLIO – YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN EUROPE

The beginning of every government starts with the education of our youth

 Pythagoras.

Unfortunately, youth unemployment in Europe is a topic that affects us directly. It is known that almost half of the world’s youth is either outside the formal economy or is not contributing as productively as they could have.

One of the main reasons that young population fails to find work is that, although companies try to bridge the gab by investing in trainings, that isn’t enough. Maybe trainings can be god idea, but without the help of the governments (by boosting the growth), all the efforts are useless.

Also, worrying statistics, a list of 5 myths (versus the reality) and solutions are discussed in the links provided below.

1st: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/29/eurozone-youth-unemployment-record-high-under-25s

2nd: http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21582006-german-led-plans-tackling-youth-unemployment-europe-are-far-too-timid-guaranteed-fail

3rd: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21576657-around-world-almost-300m-15-24-year-olds-are-not-working-what-has-caused

4th: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-29/five-myths-about-europes-youth-unemployment-crisis

PRODAN ROXANA IULIANA (MCGE) REACTION PAPER: HOME

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Home is a documentary directed by Yann Arthus – Bertrand, released in 2009. It is the first film that was made using only aerial footage.

In this movie is presented the evolution of the planet,  what happened after the intervention of the human being, „homo sapiens” how we are called in the film.

When I watched this film I felt like a child to whom is told a story about the evolution of the Earth, of what happened along the years with the nature, climate disruption, degradation, agriculture, economy, how affected are the poor and that they depend on rich people, health, and more.

Here is presented how the human race destroyed the balance of Earth in past 200.000 years. We are responsable for what happens in present because „we have created phenomena we cannot control” and the link that existed between air, water and forms of life was broken by us. If we want to restore the balance we have to move fast because time passes quickly and the Earth is our own reflection.

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This film is a warning signal that we must involve more in trying to develop countries than spending so much time in military expeditions.

If is something to be changed, first of all we have to make ourself understand that the power is in our hands and what happens on Earth depends on us, „the homo sapiens, a wise man” because „life is a miracle in the universe” and we have to protect it.home19

All in all, HOME made me think at how important is every move made, because somehow it has an impact, is like the butterfly effect, maybe what I am doing here, in Romania,  is affecting someone/ something from another place. home26

Monica Obeada (MGE)- Reaction Paper- Revenge of the electric car

                                                                          Revenge of the electric car

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Provided with a long list of titles, and not knowing anything concrete about the documentaries that were found in the list, the title was the main decisive factor in choosing the documentary. Entitled “Revenge of the Electric Car”, this documentary stirs interest through the subject it will discuss: subject that is clear even from the title: the electric cars, but also by associating the electric cars with the word “revenge”. The title aroused my curiosity, and I wanted to see for myself what the director prepared for us in this documentary.

The documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car” was produced in 2011, by Chris Paine, at it is a sequel of the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”. While the 2006 documentary presents the history of the electric car, its development and its commercialization, concentrating on the General Motors electric car model EV1 who turned up to be a failed model; the 2011 film concentrates on the return of the electric cars, and on the appearance of a new series of electric cars produced by famous car-makers but also by small newcomers.

The film presents various models of electric cars: from the General Motors EV1 and Chevrolet Volt models, to the sport model of Tesla Motors, going to the affordable for everyone model from Nissan, and ending with the Porsche Speedster belonging to Gregg Abbot, an independent electric car convertor. I, for one, I was a little bit disappointed by the fact that General Motors gave up so easily and destroyed the EV1 model, and that the Japanese have managed to think ahead and take the lead; and although they were not the ones who released the first electric car model, they still managed to have the most successful one.

What I liked about this film was that I managed to get inside of some famous companies such as Nissan, General Motors and Tesla, and get to know the people who run these companies: Bob Lutz, the General Motors executive who inspired the Volt, Elon Musk, the head of Tesla Motors, and the head of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn.  I got the see the whole perspective with the help of this documentary; I managed to understand the electric car world from the point of view of the manufactures and car-makers, and I understood that making a car, especially an electric one is not so easy, and that car-makers are working very hard and going through a lot of challenges. Also, I’ve learned that you have to work very hard if you really want something. In the film we see how General Motors went bankrupt and had to let the state invest in it and made it profitable, how Tesla Motors  barely avoid bankruptcy by releasing its own affordable for everyone model, a sedan model, and how Greg Abbott recovers and finds the strength to carry on and at the end we still see him standing even after his workshop burned down and he had no insurance, even after he discovers that the new workshop had mercury contamination. For me, the big lesson was that in life you should take risks, that you have to be patient and that you don’t have to listen to the people who only criticize but do nothing. I was very impressed by the head of Renault/Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, who decided to take risks and to be bold.  

The film was very interesting, even if it proved not to be about the advantages or the disadvantages of the electric cars, nor it was conceived from the point of view of the environmental impact. The documentary presents the electric car market from the economical point of view. And regarding “the revenge”, I believe that the electric cars got their revenge, that they managed to make a comeback and that they proved to be attractive and useful.

CRISTINA DENISA MATEI – PORTFOLIO – “NELSON MANDELA 1998-2013″

You are probably wondering why am I writing about this subject. I am writing it because of the greatness of the man who replaced the racis white-minority regim: he enforced segregations of black and white people of what is called an “apartheid”. This man was Nelson Mandela.

Nobel Peace Laureate, Nelson Mandela died. They found him this morning, 6th of December 2013. Visibly full of emotions, Barack Obama, the president of the United States brought him a tribute to the one called “Madiba”, to the one who now, in history is under “the image of the one who conquered the world by its apartheid movement”.

I am writing about his death because is having a huge impact among the whole world, because of what he represents to this world; and this is perfectly understandable, we don’t even have to wonder. His wisdom, his words, his sayings, his way of living, his everything represents or, at least should represent an example for each one of us.

Obama himself confirmed that “The first thing I’ve ever done as a politic gesture was to participate at an anti-partheid manifestation. A many others from the whole wide world, I can’t imagine my life without his example”, confessed with a truly trembling voice Obama. Queen Elisabeth II declared herself “deeply saddened” after she found out about Mandela’s death.

I am writhing my portfolio about the three articles who’s subject is the man who was the first black president, a leading emancipator of South Africa; before being a president, he spent 27 years in jail. He was, is and always will be one of the world’s most respected statesmen.

According to Zuma, Sunday, 10th of December 2013 will be a national day of prayer and reflection in the name of the beloved Nelson Mandela. One of my favourites Mandala’s quotes is “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains uncchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” If we didn’t take for real any of his way of living, being, saying and so on, we should start doing it now… until it’s not too late.

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/06/world/africa/nelson-mandela-main/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/05/world/africa/nelson-mandela-obit-coverage.html?_r=0

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23043987

Maria Mădălina Popovici(MPE) – Reaction Paper – Food Inc.(2008)

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To begin with, the first time I have seen the movie, it was in one of my optional classes from my 2nd year as a Communication and  Public Relations student – Corporate Social Responsibility class. I was shocked to find out about the hidden problems of the american food system and its regulations. As I also have an interest in health issues, this course only revealed interesting stories. And suddenly, I discovered that the „CSR” campaigns (which, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I previously considered so cool) had nothing to do with CSR. It was dissapointing to know that the most so called CSR campaigns were simply PR campaigns, used only to maintain a good reputation of the companies. Corporate Social Responsibility is about something else, that involves taking action, investing in the protection of the consumer and of the environment, without necessarily making this public and surely not by investing money in bragging about it. I chose this movie for my reaction paper, because it is in itself a PR tool, but not one used for bragging, one used to raise awareness on something  that is worth knowing of and should interest each and everyone of us.

Food Inc.  is a documentary  released in 2008 and  directed by Robert Kenner, an American film producer and screenwriter. The film focuses on the monopole of corporations over America’s  food industry. From my point of view, it’s a must-see because it reveals the ugly truth about the  unhealthy food system and the processes behind it. It follows three basic lines : the production of meat,  the production of grains and the legal and economic power around them.

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10 000, but the image that’s used to sell the food it is still the imagery of agrarian America”, states the author. The movie begins by criticizing the image that food corporations use to sell their products. It’s a paradox that they’re trying to convince the consumer to buy  a “pastoral fantasy” when, in fact, “the reality is not a farm but a factory”, and the tomato is only an idea of a tomato.

Following the food chain backwards in an attempt to remove the veil put by marketing on the origin of products, the film tries to explain, historically, how the change in the food industry took place. The revolutionary idea of a factory system began with fast foods, in 1970, when technology allowed them to make considerable changes in the process of production, which lowered the price of food and made the businesses flourish, thus giving them the power to control the market by more than 80%.

At first, the author focuses on the chicken meat production, and gives the example of Tyson company, one of the biggest players in food industry. They managed to come up with a factory line that ,in a short time, produced “a lot of food, on a small amount of land, at a very affordable price”. They also managed to “silence the farmers because of the debts they have” and the money they have to borrow to keep their businesses working, states Carole Morison, a previous farmer for Tyson. It seems to me that this part is very efficient in illustrating the frustration of the small farmers: “To have no say in your business is degrading, it’s like being a slave to the company”, states the same woman.

Secondly, the film traces further the source of the food and everything led back to corn. America managed to produce a huge amount of corn, as well as a huge amount of uses for it. It’s impressive to find out that 90% of the products we find in the supermarkets have one or more ingredients based on corn or soy beans. An expert in the field gives some examples : high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, di-glycerides, xanthan gum, asorbic acid, margarine and many others. The problem comes up when the same corn is used for feeding the animals( especially the ones that should not have corn included in their diets).

The same expert claims that corn is responsible  for the infestation with bacteria such as E-coli, which takes us to the last part of the film, focused on the issue of food safety and regulation laws. Starting with the shocking story of a child who dies in 12 days because of a hamburger infested with E-coli, the author offers an overview of the legal situation and aims to find explanations for this tragedy. The answers he provides illustrate a dark situation of the present: America lacks sufficient labeling regulations, the companies only care for profit and don’t respect the rights of their consumers or the ones of their workers. Moreover, they constantly promote unhealthy food habits and come up with new technologies only to increase their profits.

The scene with the Mexican family forced to choose between spending money on medication for the father or food for the children truly made me angry. How come that the real food is so expensive? And why are we (because not only the Americans seem to have this problem, Europeans do too) still encouraging big companies to produce so many unhealthy products such as chips or sodas?  Why isn’t there a label on genetically modified food? People deserve to know the truth. A battle for the truth, this is the message used as an ending; like the battle against tobacco, we must „vote to change the system” by choosing which products to buy for our three times-a-day meal.

All in all, Food Inc. does an incredible job deconstructing all the stereotypes about America being the land of choice (due to the broken system, in this situation, it seems that the citizens don’t have a say, or a choice). I consider it a tough truth, but in the same time an exclamation point on the need for change, otherwise the health of America’s citizens will continue to be endangered.  This is why the only drawback I found is that the film fails to offer a solid solution for these problems, but it will succeed in raising enough awareness on the subject. All of us should know the story behind the product and carefully choose what to buy, because our health depends on these choices. I sincerely advise you to watch this movie.

Carmen Adina Dumitrescu (PME) Reaction Paper : The House I Live In by Eugene Jarecki

I chose to talk about The House I Live In, a 2012 documentary by Eugene Jarecki.

The problem discussed in this documentary is, as they call it, “The war on drugs”, in America.

You could ask, why America? It’s not the only country with drug problems and I agree, but the following numbers will make you understand why America.

With only 5% of the world’s population the United States holds 25% of its prisoners. It is stated in the beginning of the film that over 500,000 people are being incarcerated for nonviolent drug crimes.

For a large period of time, more black people were in prison, jail or on probation than they were enslaved in 1850 due to drug problems.

2.7 million children in America have a parent behind bars. So now, ask yourself, how can this not become a huge problem? These children are obviously more likely to be incarcerated than other children.

These are some of the facts discussed in the first part of the film. The interviews are heartbreaking. For example a father in jail finds out that his son is going to join him. His honest response was that he wasn’t surprised.

Well, if you are not surprised, if this is such a visible fact, that your children will choose your path, why not make it a worthy one?

In many cases, they can’t. This is another part of the documentary. It seems that poor people in the US are being “evacuated” if I may say so, being put in certain parts of the city, poor parts of the city, and practically the ghettos are being built to keep them far from people with actual success chances.

I agree with the fact that no one wants felons close to their families, but in a way, this is like putting drugs into their hands. Being poor and not having a second chance doesn’t leave them with many options.

Of course the political campaigns have their big role. Their idea was that the law wasn’t strict enough. So they agreed to have “Mandatory minimum sentences” for every drug related crime, no matter the circumstances.

The big difference exemplified in the film is between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Some judges didn’t agree with punishing someone caught with 5 grams of crack, the same as someone caught with 100 times more powder cocaine.

The only difference between the two is that to crack cocaine you add backing soda, water and heat.

Of course, something else had to catch up with the cocaine, methamphetamine.

Along with these drugs white people began to populate the prisons as much as black people did in the past. So at that point, everyone experienced the harsh sentences.

One of the interviewers had a very good point. He said that the problem could not be solved just by arresting everyone that is found using or dealing, because that is just a leaf in a big tree. As we’ve seen along this documentary, fathers dealing have been incarcerated but that did not stop their sons to do the same.

Obama was the one that succeeded in changing the crack powder cocaine ratio from 100:1 to 18:1.

As a conclusion, it is up to us! Not to them, but us! Because we can sit and watch politicians scream from the top of their lungs how the law should be tougher and how any given situation should be sentenced at the same level of severity and practically sentence ourselves, because what is wrong for them, is wrong for us. OR we can let our voices lead us. And we can try and fight this issue.

Us, the people!   

ANDREEA-CATALINA NEGOITA (MPE)- SUPER SIZE ME- REACTION PAPER

I strongly believe that the movie „Super size me” was made with a certain purpose. It is trying to make the american people become aware of the harmful effects that fast food, especially McDonald’s, have on peoples health. A health man decides to participate at an experiment in order to demonstrate the purpose mentioned below. For 30 days he will only eat McDonald’s food to see the consequences of such a choice. Therefore he will gain 22 kg and his health condition will be hardly affected.

In my opinion, this kind of movie is really welcomed in today  world that makes people become careless, fast in making decisions, without thinking that their daily and simple decisions will have repercussions on their health.

Lately, eating fast food became a trend. McDonald’s restaurants have more and more clients, they invest more and more in commercials, give more and more offers just to increase profit. Although the purpose of the company is a certain  and a visible one, it  is a matter of choice that people have. It is up to every individual to get informed before taking  any decision that can affect him in a way or another. Fast food can be easily seen as a drug; you have it once, you like it, you don’t see any harmful effects on spot, you have it second time and then again, again and again until your subconscious doesn’t realize anymore how harmful this will become.

What is sad is that, although this documentary movie was seen by an important amount of people, few of them are now conscious of the bad effects that McDonald have on their health or are determined to quite fast food.

The impact was not that significant in what concerns me because I was barely eating fast food before but definitely i will never eat it from now on. After all, it’s a matter of choice for every individual on how they want their future to look like. 

ANDREEA-CATALINA NEGOITA (PME)- PORTOFOLIO OF ARTICLES: “INDIA…POORER OR RICHER THAN IN THE PAST?

Taking into account that globalization can be seen as a process that involves the integration of countries all over the world from the economic point of view, India, therefore did not succeed to integrate herself in this process.

The articles I read were relating the level of poverty India has at this moment and the fact that the level of poverty decreased, mentioning that „the number of Indians living in extreme poverty has fallen from 37% to 22% in the past seven years, according to the latest official data from the Planning Commission.[1]

The economist YK Alagh was mentioning the several factors that helped in this process of declining poverty of India; like global growth up to 8,2% annually;  a gain in farm rise from 2% in the past to 3,5 % at the moment and also the increased  number of available jobs.

All articles were emphasizing the disagreement of citizens, economists and policymakers of the latest figures about the level of poverty in India and mentioning the three types of category of people that live in India: those who strive to survive, those who are not in such a bad situation but they hardly resist to expenses hits and those who are not part  of the above mentioned categories but they will never progress without the help of weal projects.

In 2014-2015 the level of poverty from urban will be almost 0 while in the rural will be almost 12%. Another important topic presented in the articles is about the concept and the phenomenon  of liberalization that is seen as negative because it is making the poor people poorer.

To sum up, the articles were all of them showing off the fact that in the latest years India is not as poor as it was in the past, that government tries to solve this issue but they won’t succeed this too fast. The number might decrease but it is because people die not because they get richer. Poor people do not believe in numbers and after all „270m Indians still live in extreme poverty. That is one in five Indians”. [2]

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/01/world/asia/01iht-letter01.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-23429796

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/aug/23/india-poverty-figures-debate

Oana Brebeuta (MPE) – The Enemies of Reason – Reaction Paper

“The Enemies of Reason” is a documentary in two parts presented by biologist Richard Dawkins and aired in 2007 by British television “Channel 4″. The first episode is called “Slaves to Superstition” – Dawkins deconstructs a number of practices, such as astronomy, dowsing or illusionism, and he does this by conducting experiments to prove that there is no real basis to these “irrational superstitions”. In the second episode, “The Irrational Health Service”, Professor Dawkins argues that “New Age Medicine” is not only a harmless belief, but at times it undermines the science-based medicine, which is, according to him, the only medicine there is.

From the moment I started watching the documentary, I knew I would strongly disagree with Prof. Dawkins on some terms. In the beginning of the first episode, he claims that superstition is “seeing pattern where there is none” and it is something that keeps people in a “primitive darkness”. I believe the definition provided sounds like one suitable for a mental illness, rather than a meaning of spirituality. Also, he seems to consider that people drawn to the unseen are just living in ignorance, which is a statement that could be taken as an offense for those who do not share his beliefs.

On the other hand, I must admit that some of the practices he mentions are quite uncanny, such as cult reading or some of the sessions from spiritualist churches that he witnesses. He also shows that the supernatural has turned into a multi-million pound business, and clearly, when there is money to be made out of something, there will be a high number of people who will try to take advantage of it. Indeed, in today’s world, it has become quite a “trend” and there are multiple PR tools used to target audience and bring followers to these alternative practices.

At one point during the first episode, Dawkins states that “spiritual guides outnumber science books, by three to one” and feels there is an inclination in the world today towards less material things, and that even education teaches children to value “private feeling” higher than reason based on physical evidence. I actually agree with this statement, because in an era of technological advancement people are more drawn to nature, to spirituality, to their origins. However, instead of considering this an instance of delusion, I believe it is something that we have to value, since it brings us closer to our ancestors and to who we really are. I believe it is a moral duty of the youth to respect and value folklore, and to believe in it, to some extent.

In the second episode, Richard Dawkins is set out to explore why “some superstitious nonsense is becoming a growing challenge to scientific medicine”. He claims that quantum healing, homeopathy, crystal therapy, ayurveda or acupuncture are all “a bunch of mumbo jumbo” and they were only “dreamed up”, not having any fundamental basis. I would say that the fact that most of the people involved in developing alternative procedures are qualified in “real medicine” proves that alternative medicine does not stand in the way of scientific discovery and is not trying to replace conventional medicine, but is actually used in addition to it, it complements it. I have to quote Dr. Deepak Chopra (head of a successful alternative wellbeing center in California, and also trained physician), when he says that “science has become arrogant”, which is a statement I strongly agree with. As an argument to this, the placebo effect has been scientifically proven, thus the mind has a strong effect on the body, and, therefore the power of the psyche should not be underestimated.

In the end, Dawkins encourages us all be open minded, yet I believe he does quite the opposite to some extent, by disdaining all these practices and beliefs without a scientific basis. To conclude, I must say I do not share Dawkins’ opinion that a “war is being fought against reason”. I have to admit, I am confident that there is more than meets the eye to this world and that not all things have tangible grounds, although I acknowledge the greatness of science and its major role in our historical development. I believe one must seek a balance between reason and spirituality, between body and soul, and that the two should be complementary, especially in today’s world.

ENACHE RUXANDRA CORINA (MPE) – PORTFOLIO – Renewable Energy – The Energy of the FUTURE

In the last decades, there have been debates upon the topic of renewable energy. Slowly, more and more countries have begun to expand its knowledge and expertise in this domain, supporting some percentage of the needs of the country with the aid of the renewable energy.

In the first article, Africa is presented as the most powerful country as regards the growth in renewable energy investment in 2012, setting a high target to attain in the foreseeable future. The plans come together with high hopes, since Africa should have – when completed – the biggest solar installation on Earth. What should be taken into consideration is the fact that this great step as far as Africa as a global power is concerned – should be seen as a solution at a global level, not only a solution for the poor inhabitants of the continent.

In the second article, it can be seen the fact that there is a struggle for providing as much renewable energy as possible, at the lowest price. This means that, globally, the renewable energy is considered as a future crucial energy to sustain the energy needs of the global population.

In the third article, it is sadly depicted the fact that, although there is a great interest in the usage of renewable energy in the future, there are still problems to be solved. There are still a lot of crimes against the humanity, the ecosystem and all the living beings, that are stopping the process of development in this sector.

In conclusion, the future appears to be bright and we are all – as a humanity – on the road to be able to sustain ourselves without harming our planet anymore.

Sources:

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/29/business/bright-sun-bright-future-africa/

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25210963

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/nov/26/burning-food-crops-biofuels-crime-humanity

 

ENACHE RUXANDRA CORINA (MPE) – REACTION PAPER – The Corporation

The Corporation, released in 2013, is a documentary film written by Joel Bakan (law professor at the University of British Columbia) and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott.

The topic revolves around the great corporations from North America, which have had, and still have, global repercussions through their activity. It starts by describing the personality of this type of corporations – callous unconcern for the feelings of others, incapacity to maintain lasting relationships, the pursuit for profit – a personality that perfectly depicts, in psychology, the typology of a psychopath. The harm that these corporations have been producing in every imaginable sector of life (health, food, water, environment etc.) has been known since the beginning of their domination. Still, the goal of making profit has always been the most important concern. Therefore, this documentary illustrates the aspects that have been allegedly disregarded when this struggle for profit began. A wide array of examples is presented, covering several domains, such as: low cost labor exploitation, toxic waste management, chemical product testing on animals, as well as pollution. There are still many things that have not been taken into account, considering that the corporations needed leverage in order to better manipulate people and achieve their profit targets.

Surprisingly enough, the people interviewed for this documentary are peak individuals within these corporations. Throughout the documentary, as strange as it may seem, they are trying to explain the fact that they discard their individuality, but when it comes to identifying with the corporation, they are part of a monster. It is repeatedly stated that in recent times, the individuals that who hold high positions in these corporations have been trying to undo what has been done in the past by raising environmental awareness, improving the health of society, increasing security measures. They hope that by adopting such a behavior they can pave the road to a new type of corporation: the corporation of choice.

As far as I am concerned, I believe that this documentary is one of a kind, that describes exactly what humans who operate within corporations have done to the environment as a whole. Also, I strongly believe that even though I am part of one of these corporations, I am driven by the desire of accomplishing great things that the world could benefit from. I am a passionate believer in the idea that individuals can actually change the way corporations think and behave, but only when their actions are driven by  a strong will to stand out and assume responsibility for their actions. Only then will the world actually start to improve, and begin to move forward, providing a proper environment for the society to bloom.