Heißen: What’s Your Name?

Kontakte: A Communicative Approach

Page 20, Übung 2:

1. Maria: Hallo, wie heißt du?

    Fred: Ich heiße Fred. Und du?

    Maria: Ich heiße Maria.

2. Frau Stober: Guten Tag, wie heißen Sie bitte?

    Frau Angell: Ich heiße Angell, Caralee Angell.

3. Josef: Hallo, ich heiße Josef und wie hießt ihr?

    Henry: Ich heiße Henry und sie heißt Sarah.


Let’s Start at the Very Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start

I’m going back to the beginning of my 1st year German text. It’s amazing how confused I was then and how much I’ve learned. However, I have many gaps in my German language skills thus far. So I’ve decided to go back to the beginning. My goal is to do as many exercises from Kontakte: A Communicative Approach as possible during Winter break.

(To avoid stomping on any copyright laws, I’ll make a few changes to the exercises as I complete them.)


Writing 122: Essay 1

Predictable Response to U.S. Drone Attacks


Since the early 2000’s, the United States and its allies have carried out unmanned drone missile strikes in foreign, sovereign nations against which the United States has not issued a formal declaration of war. The countries targeted by American drone missiles include Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A recently released report by human rights researchers at Yale and Stanford universities suggests that the number of enemies created by the drone strikes grossly outnumbers the suspected and confirmed enemies killed by the drones. This report, in addition to other sources, claims that only a small percentage of those killed by drone strikes are suspected militants, and that only a fraction of suspected militants are actually a threat to the United States.


The term “suspected militant” is used to describe the targets of unmanned drone attacks. This term has no official definition. If one were to wonder how to become a suspected militant, there is no publicized criteria available for one to consult. Two definitions of “suspected militant” proposed by one author are “all military-age males in a strike zone” and “a person not charged with any crime, not afforded even the most perfunctory due process protections, but summarily executed upon order of the president anyway.” (Wolverton). One might be convinced that these definitions are more accurate than not, when considering the case of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Abdulrahman was 16 years old, and an American citizen. He was born in Denver, Colorado. Without his mother’s permission, the young man left his home and traveled to Yemen in search of his father. A couple weeks later while eating supper with his cousins, an American drone dropped a missile on Abdulrahman, his 17 year old cousin, and six other people.


It is reasonable to assume that family members of someone injured or killed by a drone attack would feel anger, even hatred, toward the person or government that ordered the attack. These feelings are intensified when the dead or injured person is presumed innocent of causing harm or intending to cause harm to the entity who ordered the drone strike. When American drones are responsible for deaths in far-away parts of the world, striking back alone is virtually impossible. Whether one is seeking justice or revenge, the only solution that many in that situation see is to join a group whose stated goal is to cause harm to the United States. American drone strikes are likely one of Al Qaeda’s strongest recruiting tools. There is no need for Al Qaeda or the Taliban to seek out new members. Angry family members of the victims of drone strikes are seeking them out, hoping to avenge the deaths of their loved ones.


Americans are generally unaware of the consequences of these government-sanctioned killings. The average American is also unlikely to believe reports of civilian deaths, and is likely to think those numbers are exaggerated. It is inconceivable to many Americans that their own government may actually be causing the problem that it claims to fight. Mainstream media reports civilian deaths with disclaimers. It is common to hear a newscaster saying “Al Jazeera reports 68 civilian deaths, including 35 children and 2 infants. These numbers are disputed by reliable sources on the ground, so the exact number of civilian deaths, if any, is unknown” or something similar. Schoolchildren in America are taught that Al Qaeda hates American and Americans because we are a free country and they want the entire world to be ruled by their religious laws. Media reports quoting foreign leaders praising the United States for fighting Al Qaeda, Taliban, and other anti-government groups in their countries gives credence to the belief that the United States is conducting drone strikes with the permission and at the request of the target country’s government. Any country that is a victim of drone attacks that condemns the United States is portrayed as a quasi-enemy of the United States.


If the United States were to attack suspected militants in the UK using drones, it is doubtful that the UK and other allies would congratulate the United States on a job well done. There are some in the UK who are beginning to question the legality and ethics of allowing UK pilots to control drones owned by the UK from the United States, with American military or CIA personnel determining the targets. A new parliamentary group headed by Tom Watson and Zac Goldsmith will also seek to answer the question of whether drone attacks are actually causing extremism, and thus causing the birth of a threat where none previously existed.


To me, it is laughable that the United States government can deny that drone attacks are causing people to take up arms against American troops, government officials, and civilians in retaliation. Any attacks on the United States by a foreign country are immediately followed with vows of retaliation by the sitting President and encouraged by Congress and the public at large. The government is correct when they tell the American people that there are violent groups in the middle east who wish to harm us. If these groups did not have these intentions before, they certainly do now.








I would like to point out that I did not edit this paper prior to submitting it because I procrastinated. It ended up being 30 seconds late, for which my professor graciously did not penalize me!

German: Rotkappchen

This was my final project for the end of German 1st year. It was fun to create, given that I had to find a concoction of clips to match my version of “Little Red Riding Hood” in German.

Writing 122: Essay

The Death of Freedom of the Press

 In 1807, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” If Jefferson’s perceptions were correct, it is reasonable to wonder how accurately events are reported in the news now and in modern history. Jefferson also wrote that one could at least glean some facts from the news. In the 1800’s, newspapers were primarily owned by individuals and small businesses. If one picked up a newspaper from Philadelphia and another from New York, there would be distinct differences in how each newspaper reported a single event. This is no longer the case. Now, a handful of corporations own all of the media: newspapers, television stations, radio stations, and all major internet news websites.

 When the media is controlled by a small number of individuals or corporations, one cannot possibly expect truth to prevail. Whatever is written or aired is not challenged. Independent journalists who manage to publish findings of fact that differ from those extolled by conventional media are labeled liars, crackpots, and even criminals. Large corporations often have symbiotic relationships with governments. This is true in the United States, and as such, the government has a certain amount of control over the media. This is contrary to the idea of a free press.

 A popular example of complicity between American mainstream media and the American government is the press coverage of Operation Just Cause. This was the official title of the military operation that, in December 1989, ousted Panama’s president, Manuel Noriega. The official position of the United States government was that Noriega was a criminal, a drug lord who facilitated the import of illegal drugs to the United States from South America. Noriega was also accused of ousting a democratically elected president, being a murdering tyrant of his own people, allowing or ordering his soldiers to kill American servicemen stationed at the Canal, and declaring war on the U.S. The military action involved ground troops and aerial bombs dropped on Panamanian towns. Noriega surrendered, and was taken as a prisoner of war. He was transported to Florida, where he was tried and convicted of several crimes resulting in a 17 year prison sentence.

 Immediately following the Panama invasion, reporters were in Panama conducting interviews. Mainstream media reporters were accompanied by American soldiers, riding in American military vehicles. Poll results indicated Panamanians were highly satisfied with the American military invasion and the ouster of their president. Independent reporters, however, painted a different picture. Independent news sources reported heavy civilian casualties and much anger and hostility toward the American government. These reports were rarely seen by the general American public, and those reports that did manage to garner attention were criticized or mocked by the mainstream media. It should hardly be surprising that the polls showed such support from the average Panamanian. Imagine a Panamanian standing outside, surveying the damage caused by American bombs. If the area wasn’t hit, perhaps he is worrying about family and friends who reside where the bombs caused devastation. A convoy of American military vehicles pulls up, and a clean-cut young man hops out of a tank. He begins asking questions, wondering if the man supports the American military’s action. Looking up at the soldier manning the machine gun turrets, what else is the Panamanian going to say, other than, “Yes, I love Americans”!

 Media coverage by most American news sources continued to paint that same picture of the Panama invasion in 2011. By this time, conflicting news reports were readily available and fact-checking a fairly simple task. In fact, foreign news sources such as Russia Today give readers a very different picture of the events. While American news outlets even today claim that Noriega was an evil dictator and the invasion saved the people of Panama from a horrendous fate under his continued rule, Russia Today reports a more nefarious objective. Maintaining control of the Panama Canal, it reported, was the main goal of Operation Just Cause. Another theory was raised by John Perkins in his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. This theory centers on the reputation of the president who ordered the invasion of Panama, George W. Bush. Perkins’ belief is that President Bush wanted to show his power and strength to constituents who saw him as a spineless wimp.

 Freedom of the press is an American ideal. People, in general, believe the media reports they see on television, read in newspapers, or read on the internet are products of a free press. If one were to actually delve into the news a bit, the lack of a free press is readily apparent. The Rendon Group is an organization employed by the United States military to “advise and shape Pentagon communications strategy, do analysis of media coverage, and run propaganda programs”. This group is known for searching out independent reporters in Afghanistan whose news reports reflect negatively on the United States. One can only guess what happens when this group of “fixers” manages to catch up with a rogue reporter.

 Journalists are jailed and imprisoned all over the world, and American journalists are not exempt. In a country whose Bill of Rights includes both freedom of speech and freedom of the press, one should expect outrage when these freedoms are abridged. Unfortunately, the American public easily accepts reassurances from the mainstream media that these jailed journalists are terrorists, crazy, or not really journalists at all. Americans find the notion that their country would imprison journalists for reporting factual news inconceivable. It is this lack of doubt, this unfailing nationalism, that prohibits an actual free press.

 When major media outlets collude to present the same facts and vilify foreign news sources like Russia Today and Al Jazeera that report conflicting facts, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of the press. When “perception managers” like the Rendon Group are employed by the government of a free nation, freedom of the press is officially dead. Thomas Jefferson’s words are truer now than when he wrote them. “He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.”



 Jefferson, Thomas. Letter to John Norvell. 14 June 1807. Amendment I (Speech and Press): Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. <http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_speechs29.html&gt;.


Perkins, John. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004. Print.


“The Panama Deception.” The Panama Deception. Russia Today, 21 Dec. 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://rt.com/usa/news/usa-panama-invasion-media-anniversary/&gt;.


“Don’€™t Call It A Comeback! Noriega Returns To Panama.” Breaking News for Black America RSS. NewsOne Staff, 24 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://newsone.com/1661735/dont-call-it-a-comeback-noriega-returns-to-panama/&gt;.


Hanly, Ken. “Rendon Marketing Group Provides Pentagon Advice for a Price.” Op-Ed: Rendon Marketing Group Provides Pentagon Advice for a Price. Digitaljournal.com, 20 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/337325&gt;.


Scahill, Jeremy. “Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen? | The Nation.” Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen? | The Nation. TheNation.com, 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.thenation.com/article/166757/why-president-obama-keeping-journalist-prison-yemen&gt;.



Deutsch: Prepositions Video Project

This is my first video for German class. The focus was on using prepositions in dative and accusative forms.
Grade my homework! Was finden Sie meine Hausaufgaben?

“It is not that…

“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
― Albert Einstein