What have I learned about Northern Ireland

I’ve learned that Northern Ireland is a much more conflicted country than I first thought. The problems between The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland that occurred around the 1920s are still quite relevant to the citizen today, despite their 20 years of peace. Before learning about Ireland and its history, I didn’t realise how much tension that lay between the two countries and how vulnerable their peace really is.

Northern Ireland is sort of an extension of England, many would say, and therefore they often follow the steps of England. As the UK will be leaving the EU, so will Northern Ireland. This is where the issues occur. As the Republic of Ireland will stay a part of the EU, a lot of regulations will come up between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These two countries have a lot of immigration between each other, and a lot of economic bonds that not only helps both the countries stay up and running, but also strengthens their already weak peace-agreement. If Brexit takes place, which it most likely will, the two countries are going to face more challenges than they have seen in over 20 years. As Brexit is already going as bad as it is for the UK, it is unclear when the effects of Brexit kicks in, and when Northern Ireland will see these changes drain their country. Just as England, Northern Ireland must create new bonds or new deals with other countries, and will have to undergo a bleeding economy for potentially the next few years.

There are also discussions about the issues being a religious one, as it was in the start. Ireland was split by England by the use of mass immigration of Catholics, whereas Ireland originally consisted of protestants. This then formed a religious disagreements and cultural differences between the two parts of what previously was one united Ireland. Ever since this time, Ireland has been in a weird situation where both parties sort of want Ireland reunited but both parties wants it in different ways.

Very recently, the new IRA or the new Irish republican army took responsibility for a shot and killed journalist in Northern Ireland. The new IRA is a group of a few hundred people from Northern Ireland. This group is not anything like what most people connect the IRA to, from past history. This new IRA are consisted of younger people that wants to supress Brexit protesters, and scare them away from the Irish border. This group has in recent times become known for their extreme methods and their terrorism. A group like this is definitely something that keeps Ireland from overcoming its previous conflicts and keeps the peace treaty hanging on a thin rope.

I do not see a full-on war breaking out between the two nations, this day in age, but I could see trade between them vanishing completely. Brexit is a big part of their current issues and will be crucial for both parts of the beer drinking island known as Ireland and its future.

Loyalty in a disloyal environment

American politics is very different from the rest of the world. Compared to Norway, there are different norms of behaviour, different relations to media, and generally, it is a lot more based on your connections and leverage on other people. It seems like doing favours for each other off-record isn’t uncommon in American politics. After the election of President Donald Trump, questions have been raised around the reliability of the American Political system. Whether the media is too powerful or the perception of a good politician is based on the wrong factors.

From the film, The Ides of March, there is a quote that goes: “there’s only one thing I value in the world. That’s loyalty. Without it, you’re nothing”. I think this statement sets the tone for what type of environment there is in American politics, according to the movie at least. From what I have learned from the movie, you really won’t get far in politics if you’re not cynical. This is something we can see in the movie. When the main character loses his job due to him being too passive and honest, he goes to blackmail his former boss to get his position back. Therefore, this quote becomes as meaningful as it is. If you can in politics find someone loyal to you, and that is to be trusted, tackling issues with the media, working as a team and so on, becomes a breeze. Although loyalty is extremely valuable, it seems like you can only go so long before it breaks. However, if you really want to get to the top, you’re going to encounter a lot of disloyal people. People that if you don’t take advantage of, will take advantage of you. Methods such as black-mailing or straight up lying will therefore not be uncommon.

One of the main factors for this manipulative and dishonest environment in politics, is the press and how the media affects politics. Politicians’ main purpose is to get control of the voters. Traditionally, the voters aren’t too involved in the details of the different political opinions, but more interested in the personal traits of the front figures for the different political parties. The media is like a double-edged sword in politics. If you can keep a good relationship with the press, you will shine through as a respectful character in the papers that goes to the hands of interested Americans. The media also acts as a part of the political system that keeps politicians in check. When you want to know something about your favourite politician, who do you go to? The media. This is where the problem also lies. The media are privately owned businesses, corporate companies, that are also competing with each other to make the most money. To make the most money, you need the most attention, and to get that, you need the most dramatic, negative, unexpected news stories. In modern politics, we can see media has had a huge impact on the results of recent elections. Donald Trump is someone who was recognized as a joke when he announced he was running for president, but he used the power of media attention to ruin his opponents’ reputation. When Trump was up against Hillary Clinton for the presidency he blew cases such as Clintons E-mail scandal way out of proportion, the media capitalized on this, and made hundreds of headlines on this.  Donald Trump also used media to gain himself furthermore publicity and time in the spotlight. The media being both overly powerful, and desperate to make politicians look bad, makes them quite a dangerous component in politics.

The title of the movie; The Ides of March,is also a relevant factor to the message of the movie. You have probably heard the saying: “Beware the Ides of March”. This saying originated from William Shakespeare’s play: Julius Caesar. In this play, Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Ides of March. The Ides is a certain time of each month. Julius Caesar was assassinated by one of his closest men. The assassination was motivated by power and selfish thoughts. In many ways, these are the same motivations modern Americans politicians have to betray each other.

To conclude, the movie has a clever way to dissect the American political system. It uses loyalty as a word to describe a minor issue, that describes a larger issue, in my opinion. The loyalty in this case, is the lack of trust between members of the same team, and lack of discipline to each other. This is in itself, is a problem, but, there is also something larger to consider in this situation. The fact that you have to rely on loyalty to begin with, sets the system up for failure. The system meant to chose those who lead the country should be reliant on winning the people votes by good arguments and politics, not public image. It becomes a competition between the different parts to have the leader with the cleanest sheet, and in the end, for the voters it ends up becoming a choice between bad and worse. This is due to the cynical behaviours the corrupted system sets up for. This is the perception on politics I get from the movie, and how I interpreted it.

Theresa May’s speech

1. Message of the speech

The message of Theresa Mays speech is to tell Britain that they need to be better, stronger and more powerful than the last generation. Theresa May therefore commands that they need to make Britain even greater for the next generation to come. She tries to unite the country by talking up this imaginary thought of “the British dream”. The British dream is never really explained well in the speech, but it comes across as Theresa Mays excuse to make Britain independent due to their superiority over the rest of Europe.

 

  1. Identify literary / linguistic devices and explain how they enhance the message

One of the main literary devices used in this speech is the language and the selection of words. Throughout almost the entire speech, Theresa May relies on upping up Britain to seem like something way more successful than what it is. By using words such as “hard work and discipline” and “inspiring” May makes Britain seem like the country for hard working people. As if Britain stands out from the rest of the world. The portrayal of this Britain is essential to her point. Therefor she also uses another literary device to emphasise this point, repetition. Theresa May uses repetition a whole lot in her speech, so much so that she might even make her speech less interesting, which may be a misuse of this literary device. She mentions “the British dream” about 10 times in the first three stanzas.

In this type of speech, personal pronouns should be used to the fullest extent, as words such as you or I, can really help directing the message of her speech, and making it more powerful. Theresa May uses a few personal pronouns, but in my opinion, not enough. In certain parts of the speech, she uses the word “us”. This word seems like an attempt to identify as one of the British people. In a time of major disagreement in the UK, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to try to unite the country through their positive attributes. Although the thought behind this literary device was good, the execution was not. It should in my opinion have been used more frequently and earlier in the speech.

The “I have a dream” speech

  1. The message of the speech?

The main focus of the speech are the rights of African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr, talks about the rights black people are lacking, and how this hasn’t changed much for the last hundred years. Dr. King uses this speech to convince the American people of the inequality in

their country. Luther talks about his dream, a dream about equality for his children. The speech paints all American children to be alike, and this is a strong point for the message of the speech. Which is equality for all Americans.
2. What do you learn about can Americans’ history, and what are King’s dreams for the future?

When listening to the speech, one is quickly reminded of the suffering African Americans have suffered throughout history, both in the form of slavery up until 1865 as well as the segregation enforced at the time of the speech.

As Dr. King continues into the speech, his message is clear; he wishes for a wide neck. Very cool nation that will not treat any race as second-class citizens.

 

3. Do you think the poem is relevant for African Americans today? Or for people outside the USA?

I believe that Martin Luther King’s speech still represents a lot of central values regarding the currently ongoing battle for racial equality. Not only does it reinforce the idea that every American citizen will, one day, be viewed as equals, but it inspires to hope and change. I think that it is quite important for a movement to be able to associate themselves with strong leaders for them to be successful. Simultaneously I also think that the speech can very much inspire to positive change outside US. borders as I think that love and kinship are universal ideals, appreciated across all societies

 

The 13th amendment

Today we saw a film about the 13th amendment in our English class. The movie is obviously about the 13 amendment, which basically states that the act of slavery is illegal, unless it is directed towards prisoners in the United States. When the amendment was written, in 1865, slavery wasn’t unusual in America, in fact 1/3 of the population the southern America, were black slaves. When all of these slaves were freed, it caused a massive economic crisis in America. The south was not as involved in industrialization as northern parts of America, mainly due to the fact that there was no need for it. Slaves were used to pick cotton, which was then sold to the north, to manufacture clothing and such to then be sold back to the south.

The main problem with the 13th amendment, was that it created an incentive for cops to imprison African-Americans, so that they then could go back to being slaves, it was basically a loophole in the amendment. From watching the documentary, “the 13th amendment” I learned that this grew to become one of Americas biggest problems, which is still ongoing today. America has about 5% of the world’s population, whilst they have about 25% of the worlds prisoners. There are private prisons, as CCA, cooperating with a known company known as ALEC, standing for American Legislation Exchange Council. ALEC is basically a republican’s cookbook on how to make legislations. There have even been instances where republicans have copied and pasted word for word, what ALEC had written for them. The problem with this is that ALEC, bases their opinions on what companies wants to make deals with them. They are partnered with many huge American companies, such as “State farm” and was formerly even partnered with Wal-Mart. ALEC make laws that benefit these companies, to make them more money.

Another big surprise I got from the movie, was the fact that prisoners today, can be forced to work for a company making deals with the owners of these private prisons. CCA had deals with companies such as “Victorias Secrets”, to get cheap workingpower. The film also highlights what lead to this situation, what lead to the massive hate towards African-Americans, and why there are so many of them in prison. Obviously, there are many factors playing a role when talking about the hate against the coloured man, but one of the bigger ones, was media. Social-media spread terms as “super-predator” portraying African-Americans as rapist and murderers. The fact that they moved over from using all coloured people as slaves to just imprisoning them and then making them into slaves instead, made it even worse in the bigger picture. It set a stop to the black families, and the sons of the existing families had to grow up fatherless, which definitely had a negative impact on them.

Overall I think the film was good, there was a lot of information, so it would be almost impossible to touch on every topic in a minor blog-post, but these were the most shocking and impactful for me.

The Trump Shutdown

There is currently an ongoing shutdown in the U.S. where 800 000 federal workers are currently working without getting paid. This shutdown has occurred during negotiation of budget-points of the 2019 spending bill. On August 23. The senate approved a spending bill for Fiscal year 2019 on just about 850 billion dollars.

December the 11th there was a meeting between Trump and Democratic Congressional leaders, in which they discuss the most important spending points for their 2019 budget. Donald Trump demanded that 5 billion dollars would go towards the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. To that the Democrats completely disagreed, saying that it would be an inefficient way to spend money on border protection. The Democrats instead offered to spend 1,3 billion dollars on border control and protection, as this was in their words; a more efficient way of investing in border protection.

December the 20th, Democrats declared a final bill, where no investments was made to Trumps wall. Trump was really not pleased by this and publicly stated that to avoid a shutdown, they would have to put 5,7 billion dollars into his wall. On December 23. Trump and his administration signalled that the bill would be accepted by Trump if 2,5 billion was invested in his wall. The Democrats has steadily denied Trumps offers, stating that there are solutions far more effective for the issue that the wall is solving. Even the conservative heritage foundation has picked the Democrats side on the conflict, saying that investments in technology and border patrol would be far more effective to detect and stop illegal border crossings.

The latest updates on the issue is about Trump declaring a national emergency. This would be seen as a drastic abuse of presidential powers by critics and it would be one of the most outrages decisions made in American politics for many years. If Trump declares a national emergency he could bypass congress and obtain what he wants for his wall via military powers.

 

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First Impressions; Of Mice and Men

My first impressions on the book; “Of Mice and Men”, are rather positive. It has a great atmosphere with good variety between the characters. The book is a short novel, focused on the struggles all around America during the Great Depression, the time of the books publishing. So far, the book has been quite compelling, probably mainly by the great characters. George Milton and Lennie Small are the two main characters in the story. They are very diverse, but still complement each other as a duo, at least for the beginning of the story. Another reason as to why I find the story to be so entertaining is because of the many different routes I can see the story ending up taking. Most likely, it won’t end bad, but I couldn’t tell you, which I really like.

Lennie is the bigger guy of the two, whilst George is the smaller, skinnier one. Even though Lennie is the bigger one, he is far from the chief of the two. Lennie seems rather distracted by something, at all times, and fails to pay any attention to those communicating with him. Lennie seems to lack quite a bit of social skills. Therefore, George, is the bossier person of the two. George, despite being tiny and weak, is way more intellectual than Lennie. George seems like he would have been perfectly fine on his own. In fact, he even mentions that he could be living a luxurious life, if it wasn’t for the fact that he has to take care of Lennie. Well, he doesn’t have to, but he wants to, because the two travellers, do care for each other’s wellbeing.

Of Mice and Men was published in 1937, which gives a lot more to the backstory of the book. In these times in America, the Great Depression hit. During the Great Depression, things weren’t really any great. A few years prior, in 1929, the stock markets had crashed and economically, things went downhill drastically fast from 1930 and onwards. As the book came out in 1937, although two years before people claimed the great depression to be over, it was no unusual theme for authors to write about at that time. John Steinbeck, the author of this book, hit the nail spot on for many Americans. He managed to really highlight the problems in their country, many claimed. As this were times where everyone was struggling to find jobs. The country of dreams and opportunity, turned to the country of nightmares and poverty. At the worst points of the great depression, over 15 million Americans were out of work, and about half of the bank formerly operating in the country, had failed.

 

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Obamacare and the impact it has made

Obamacare was established in 2009, one year after the election of the democratic president, Barack Obama. Obamacare was meant to be an affordable alternative to healthcare. Throughout history, healthcare had been a big discussion between the democratic and republican party. Roosevelt was the first president who even had a slight thought of healthcare in the US. This idea, obviously, it didn’t very well. That was until Obama came to office. The democratic wave was stronger than ever; gay marriage became legal in every American state, America had their first African-American president and for the most part, the people were happy with how their country was being led. Which all led to Obamacare getting passed.

During Obamas time in office, democrats and republicans separated more for each day that went by. Republicans became furious with all of Obama’s actions. Even though Obama was re-elected in 2012, the republicans was growing rapidly. Whenever a president sits 2 periods, the people get tired of not seeing change in certain parts of their society. Those who studied American politics, predicted a very right winged republican for the presidency in 2016. The mid-term elections during Obama’s time in office, was some of the most one-sided mid-terms for generations. It was obvious that healthcare played a big part when it came to the increase of republicans at this time.

Somehow, Obamacare still lives on today. It was attempted a veto during Obamas time in office, where the republicans almost managed to achieve a 2/3 majority in the house, which they needed to get Obamacare retracted. As Obama’s 8-year limit as president was reached, there now only needed to be a 51% majority to take down Obamacare. At this point, Obamacare was assumed to be withdrawn straight away, but, for some reason, many republicans had switched sides on the issue, Obamacare was set to stay for even longer. Some speculate that the election of Donald Trump, might have caused the conflict within the republican party. Or perhaps, the results of Obamacare, and the very slight increase in taxing, swayed some of the republican’s opinions.

Whether or not Obamacare is to stay for 10 years, or 10 weeks, it has grown to be essential for many American citizens, which even Trump should recognize. One of the including factors of Obamacare, is that women should not be charged more than men. Or that children should be able to remain under their parent’s insurance, until they are 26 years old. Obviously, only these two factors are amazing for so many people. It is getting hard to deny that Obamacare has made a great impact on American, and even if it gets withdrawn, it has still enlightened the American people about how the healthcare laws should or could be.

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The Deadliest Fires

On the 8th of November 2018, one of, if not the biggest forest-fire outbreaks in California took place. There has already been about 300 000 people evacuated from the fire. 170 000 of those were all from the L.A. county. There are currently multiple different fires ongoing in California, the biggest 3 are called “Camp fire”, “Woolsey fire” and “Hill fire”. Camp-fire being the biggest one, in fact the biggest one to ever take place in California. All of those evacuated has been sent to shelters or family outside of the firezones.

One can say that wildfires in California are going through a normalization process. Just looking at statistics from fires with a timespan of 20 years, there’s nineteen fires to find only in that specific state. The tablet above shows the seven largest and most comprehensive wildfires ever taken place in California (CA). Looking at where the fires took place, there’s not really one specific part of the state that is more exposed than the others. Why, you might ask. Well, looking at the tablet again, four out of five were human related (man made), whereas two out of seven are still under investigation.

With 300.000 people on the run from the fires and as of Wednesday, 238,500 acres being scorched, shelter and help is now crucial. Many independent corporations have invested a lot of money and volunteering into helping the ones who need it. It’s all from Lyft, a company alike Uber, who arrange busses and cars to get people out of the burning areas as quick as possible and drive them to volunteering Airbnb-landlords who rent their rooms and couches out for free.

At CNN.com there’s a link you can follow to give donations to help, and here there’s raised over one million dollars already. However, donations from private corporations has been the ones that results in most help.

Currently there are investigations going on about what caused the fires. Although no one has been proven guilty, a lot of people are pointing arrows to one particular company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The company have not spoken much publicly about the claims of their involvement of the fire. Their stocks have dropped from about 48,5 USD per stock, to 25,5 USD per stock, which is devastating for the company, guilty or not. The company, as the name hints, is focused on gas and electrics, so it is quite possible that they may have been the reason the fires broke out.

Whether or not this single company is responsible for this horrible event, California, as mentioned has a bad reputation when it comes to both naturally created and man-created fires. There are several factors to consider when looking at the reasons why this keeps happening in the California area. First of all, it is quite a dry atmosphere in California, with bare minimum amounts of rain, which makes it way easier for a fire to occur naturally, and by mistake. The US president, Donald Trump shortly addressed his opinion on the issue on Twitter, where he says: “With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California. Get Smart”. It is clear to say that in Trump’s opinion the forest fires are due to poor forest management, which may very well be true. People are sceptical to California’s soft laws regarding companies, and their involvement with forest fires. May the rules be stricter? or is this an issue that for the time being, just don’t have a good solution.

Written by Henrik and Mathilde

The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady is a movie about the life of the former president of the UK, Margaret Thatcher. It mostly showcases the UK society during the 1970s, and also includes parts of Thatcher’s life, both prior to and after her time in office. We get to know more about how she manged to climb among the ranks of politicians, even though she was the only female in the political scene at that time.

The movie is built up in a way where the main story is just about Margaret Thatcher packing up clothes and stuff from her dead husbands closet, trying to get over him. But that wouldn’t make that great of a story, would it? So, the film includes about 90% flashbacks from the most impactful parts of Thatcher’s life. This is mainly her time in office, but also personal times as a teen, or with her husband.

There’s a lot to take away from the movie, mostly how different the views on female politicians was before Margaret Thatcher was the president and after. From seeing the first few minutes of the movie, it became clear to me that most of the movie was going to be focused on what Thatcher had to go through just to be taken seriously as a politician. She didn’t come from a rich family, nor did she know anyone from the political scene as a young lady. She definitely had the odds stacked against her, which might be the reason why she became such a conservative politician. If she could make it, anyone could, was her mind-set.

There were different elements of the movie, which made it as powerful as it was. Margaret Thatcher was shown as an outsider as a kid. She just simply didn’t have the same interests as the rest of the girls in her class. She had a passion for something way bigger than shoes, boys and clothes. Margaret’s main goal as a teen, was to make it into oxford and make her parents proud. She always had one thought in mind throughout the movie, which was to make a change in the world. The movie had both scenes from when Thatcher was old and when she was young, yet she kept the same attitude, and passion for changing the world.

Most of the movie was based on the years 1975-1990, where Thatcher was the leader of the conservative party. In the start of this period, the UK’s economy had been on a downwards spiral for many years and the people wanted a change. Thatcher’s policies were quite controversial, she caused absolute chaos when she got to the precedency. The way the film portrayed it, it felt like she had to take one step backwards to take two forwards, trying to lead the country in a relatively capitalistic way. As you could imagine, the people of the UK were outrageous when she lowered taxes for the rich and focused on building up a bigger army. She had to build up a solid stepping stone for the British economy. To do so, the country needed to go through even rougher times for a few years, before the economy would turn. This was one of the reasons she got the nickname, “the iron lady” later on, when people realized what her plan was, and that she managed to stand up for her opinions.

One of the highlights of the movie was when Margaret Thatcher decided to fight for the Falkland Islands. For most, these islands seemed lost and unreasonable to fight for. Yet Thatcher believed that it was very important for Britain to show no fear, be strong, and fight for their lands. Quite a risky move, considering how much outrage there would be if they somehow lost the “war” or if they had a major number of casualties. As Thatcher predicted, it went flawless, which created a great wave of nationalism in the country. People become more proud to be British for once. It was also a major key factor in Thatcher gaining respect from the people.

As the movie started to come to an end, we got to see how Margaret Thatcher lost the position as party leader, for the conservative party. We also got to see how she struggled to get over her dead husband. Throughout the entire movie, her relationship with her husband was quite sad, she always chose to prioritize politics, and when she got old, and he died away, she thought of him as if he was just there with her. In the last few minutes, we get to see her husband leave her house, as an imaginable character, she still tries to convince him not to leave, but then he turns around and says; “you’ll be fine on your own, you always have been”. This kind of sums up the life of Margaret Thatcher very well. The person she was supposed to care the most about, felt left out and ignored throughout his life. Thatcher had such a strong passion for politics, that she never managed to look around her, and see what was really going on with those who loved her. This was the type of person she had to be, if she wanted to be the first female president of the UK, especially in this era.

“If you lead a country like Britain, a strong country, a country which has taken a lead in world affairs in good times and in bad, a country that is always reliable, then you have to have a touch of iron about you.”

The quote above, fits really nicely into what the film, “The Iron Lady” is even about. It shows how sensitive and over the top the British people and politicians are. To lead Britain, you had to be able to stand up for the views you believe are right, and not fall for sheer pressure. I believe the statement of this quote is quite true, but not only for Britain. You must have touch of iron about you to lead almost any country. Because in most countries the front figure of your party is actually even more important than what the parties believes in.

When Margaret Thatcher decided to fight for the Falkland Islands, we truly get to see how right this quote is. If Thatcher didn’t do what she herself though was the right thing to do, no change would have been made for the UK. The people would have been even more stuck in the angry and depressed state of mind that they were at, at that time. Thatcher led the country well, and managed to get changes done, that many other leaders would never even think trying to change. She was truly a great leader for Britain, and for women all around the world. Margaret Thatcher will be remembered with big names such as Churchill or other great leaders of Britain throughout history.