Facts about US election

16 Oct

Today we answered some questions about the US election.

  1. What is the Electoral College In U.S. Elections?
  2. What is an inauguration? Mentions some points Obama had in his inauguration speech
  3. What does “democracy is the right to dissent mean?
  4. A swing state, what is it?
  5. What is a caucus and how do they pick a candidate for the president election?
  6. What is government 2.0?
  7. What are the main concerns about the new Health Reform?

The Electoral College in U.S Elections is the institution that officially elects the President and Vice President of the United States every four years. Everyone votes for the party they want and then all the votes are counted, each state supports the party who gets the most votes in that state. The states with the most inhabitants have a greater impact and that’s why it’s important to presidents to win the support of the states with the most people living there.

An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a major public leader’s term of office. The “inaugural address” is a speech given during this ceremony which informs the people of his/her intentions as a leader. In President Obamas speech he talked about that even though freedom is a gift from God, it is important to him to keep his people safe. He also promised to create new jobs and to keep the country growing.

It is about the freedom of speech and how you (in a democracy) have the right to have a different opinion. You don’t have to agree with the majority of the government.

A swing state is a state where no particular candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing the state’s votes. Swing states are targets for a lot of campaigning prior to the elections as winning there states is the best opportunity for a party to gain electoral votes.

A caucus is a meeting of supporters and/or members of a specific political party or movement. They meet to discuss who they want to elect as president candidate for their party.

Government 2.0 is about the use of technology to encourage a more open, transparent and engaging form of government, where the public has a greater role in forming policy and has improved access to government information.

The new health reform in America

To finance this reform there will be a rise in taxes. People are afraid that they will have to pay more to make it possible to provide free health care for all Americans.

If not me, who? If not now, when?

25 Sep

On the 21th of September, Emma Watson held a speech at the United Nations Headquarters about gender equality. HeForShe is a new feminist campaign encouraging men to stand up against gender inequality and to fight for the same rights for men and women. The day after Watson’s speech, over 20 000 men had already taken the HeForShe pledge, most pledges coming from English-speaking countries.

Feminism is a word who is often misunderstood. Emma discusses this in her speech by saying ” the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.
For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

“I want men to take up this mantle,” she said. “So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too — reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.”

Emma also addressed the fact that she was really nervous to set off this UN campaign, but she had told herself “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I found this really inspirational, and that is something you can think about in many situations of your life.

As I write this post, 130 845 men all over the world has taken the pledge. And in Norway only 1094 men has taken the pledge. This is not a lot considering how many men there are in the world. if you want to sign up and take the pledge, follow this link: http://www.heforshe.org/


You can read the whole speech here: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/9/emma-watson-gender-equality-is-your-issue-too

Link to the speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Dg226G2Z8

Magna Carta

18 Sep

Magna Carta, also known as The Charter of Liberties, was sealed by King John, under oath on June 15th 1215. When Magna Carta was written it was the first time a group of the King’s subjects imposed a proposition to limit the King’s power by new laws and protect the peoples’ rights.

The charter is well known for its important role in the long process that led to the rule of the constitutional law in Great Britain today. Many of the same laws and principles found in Magna Carta are still a part of the constitutional law today. For example:

“No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land.” This is probably the most famous clause from Magna Carta and made in the 13th century a huge difference for the normal citizen. It meant for the people they could stand up for their rights without having to fear unfair punishment. Or at least that was the idea of the barons who wrote the charter. To make sure the King would keep his promise the barons had also written a clause saying a committee of 25 barons had to be established to overlook the king’s decisions. King John never really approved of the charter and as soon as the barons had left London he went back on everything he had agreed to. This led to a civil war, known as the first barons’ war. During this war King John received support from the pope who abrogated the charter and called it a

“shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the King by violence and fear.” With the purpose of preventing war Magna Carta was a failure. It was legal for only 3 months , but the death of King John a year later secured the future of Magna Carta as a charter of peoples rights.

The Magna Carta agreement was built upon Thomas Aquinas opinions. He thought that rulers should use their political power to maintain the needs of their people and that the people should have the  opportunity to speak their minds if the ruler was doing otherwise.  Aristoteles and Plato was inspirational sources, and all men should be equals by law. The king also needed the support from the parliament and was no longer able to rule the country on his own and to a change he needed to think about the people as well as himself.

Magna Carta is a important part of history and is the first document that shows the system where the king ruled on his own was about to disappear. It also shows that the people has the power to  overrule the authorities in a society.

Here is a link to a short video explaining the Magna Carta: http://www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/stories-from-parliament—magna-carta/



Tower of London Remembers

4 Sep

In 1914 on the 4th of August Britain entered the first world war. This means that it’s a 100 years ago this year. During the first World War more British soldiers and civilians died than in any other conflict, to this day. During the war the Tower of London played an important part and was a place where a lot of the British soldiers was recruited. The Tower also acted as a military depot throughout the period of the war, storing munitions and weapons. To remember all the fallen, a major installment called “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” are being set up at the Tower of London.

Recruits swearing in to join the Royal Fusiliers at the Tower of London on 29 August 1914, at the start of WW1
This is a picture from a recruiting session at the Tower in 1914.

A ceramic artist called Paul Cummings has created 888 246 ceramic poppies witch will progressively fill the Tower’s famous surroundings during the period between the 5th of August until the 11th of November. A great part of the Tower’s moat is already covered in ceramic flowers. Each of the 888 246 poppies are representing a British military fatality during the war. The first ceramic bloom puppy was placed by one of the Tower of London’s Yeoman Warders, better known as Beefeaters and the artist himself will symbolically be placing the last poppy on 11 November. Paul Cummings has commented on the project and said “I was inspired to create this installation after reading a living will by an unknown soldier who we think may have been from Derby.  I approached the Tower as the ideal setting as its strong military links seemed to resonate.” 

The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry visited the tower and planted their own ceramic poppy.

As you can see the moan at the Tower now looks like a field of flowers. It is possible to buy a puppy for about £25 and dedicate it to someone in your family who died during the war and become a part of the Tower of London Remembers project. A part of the money raised by selling these ceramic flowers will go to 6 different charities in the UK.

“The installation is transient, I found this poignant and reflective of human life, like those who lost their lives during First World War. I wanted to find a fitting way to remember them.” – Paul Cummings


If you want to learn more about The Tower of London Remembers project, check out this link: https://poppies.hrp.org.uk/

Scotland’s referendum

28 Aug

On the 18th of September, everyone over 16 gets the opportunity to vote and have a say in if Scotland is going to become an independent  country. Today we had a Google hangout with Ewan McIntosh from Scotland to get a deeper insight in what the people think about it. We also asked different questions to find out about the different consequences.

We wondered if Scotland was going to keep the pound as currency if they become an independent country, the answer to this was yes. At least for the first couple of years, but who knows what the future holds. They are also most likely going to keep paying their fair share of the UK debt. Scotland has their own parliament and has their own rules and are controlling the society to some extent. But there are still some areas they don’t get to have a say in. An example to this is nuclear weapons and how the UK interferes in different countries and war zones. This is something that will change if Scotland becomes an independent country.

If we take a look at the opinion polls today, it looks like the no side is winning. But the numbers are changing everyday, and this can be really confusing to the voters who still have not made up their mind. But we’ll just have to wait until the 19th of September to find out the answer.

Here is a link to the hangout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNPiBmp14U8

My expectations for this year

27 Aug

This week I returned to school after an wonderful summer holiday. One of the courses I have chosen for this year is Social Studies English. I think this course will help me to improve my written and oral English skills. My plan is also to continue my education in England, and I believe that this course will make me learn more about the politics and the culture in England as well as making sure that i maintain the English language.
I also really hope that we will get the chance to go on an educational trip to another country. I have high hopes for this year and I am really looking forward to learn about politics and different societies.

I am looking forward to another knowledgeable year at Sandvika High School and to make decisions about where I will be going and what I want to do next year.

The Tiger’s wife

11 Dec

The Tiger’s wife is a novel written by Téa Obreht. The author was born in the former Yugoslavia in 1985. She spent her childhood in Egypt and Cyprus before she moved to the United States in 1997.

The story takes place now and half a century ago, in a Balkan country. The book is about a young doctor called Natalia. Natalias grandfather always told her stories when she was younger, and after he dies she turns to these to find answers. Natalia investigates the circumstances of her grandfather’s mysterious death, recounts what she discovered while researching his childhood in a small town, and passes on stories he himself told her about his encounters, with a mysterious “Deathless Man.” Throughout all three narrative lines, the work explores the nature of death, death’s relationship to the struggle to live, and the relationship between truth, secrets and lies.

In a brief prologue, Natalia narrates her earliest memory – of accompanying her grandfather on one of several shared visits to the tiger’s cage at the zoo. During that visit, she witnessed a tiger attacking an attendant, and in narration comments on her belief that her grandfather made sure she watched it.

The Language in the book is quite difficult, but I would recommend this book to readers who is looking for a challenge and wants to improve their English. I liked the book, but sometimes it can be difficult to follow the story.

“Through the tunnel” by Doris Lessing

13 Oct

Through the tunnel is a short story written by a highly acclaimed author named Doris Lessing. The story is about a young boy called Jerry. Jerry spends his summer by the beach with his mother. One day he sees some older boys who swims through an underwater runnel and really wants do do the same. He convinces his mother to by some swimming goggles and begins his training. He takes it to an extreme and holds his breath alot every day. He gets dizzy and bleeds, but he don’t mind, the only thing he cares about is that he will manage to swim through the tunnel.
At the end Jerry swims through the underwater tunnel, but he doesn’t tell his mum or the older boys.

Doris Lessing has a great way of writing and you really get dragged into the story. The sentences are short and it’s not difficult to keep up with the story. You can also notice that the story is planed and not made up as she wrote it.

I enjoyed reading this story. It never got boring  and you tried to figure out why Jerry acted the way he did. I think the theme is growing up, and how we all want to be better versions of ourselves. 

Studying and working in North America

19 Sep

It’s really popular to study abroad and many choose to study in English speaking countries like USA and Canada. These countries, along with the UK, also have the best universities in the world. These countries provide good education and give the students a safe environment. There are many advantages to studying abroad, some of them are:

-  Interesting for future employers

- Personal growth

- Language learning

-Learning to be independent

- Learning another culture

It can make it easier to go through an organization if you want to study in another country, they will help you to get everything ready before you leave. There are many organizations that operate in North America. Some of the most well-known and safest study organizations are:

-          Speak

-          EF

-          AFS

-          AYUSA

-          CIEE

-          Rotary International

-          YFU

-          IBS

America and Canada are in general safe countries and there are no places that you have to avoid. The most popular states when it comes to studying in USA are California, New York and Texas. You should try to find out which state you could see yourself living in.

When it comes to acquiring VISAs, it isn’t a problem. If you have a clean criminal record and fill in all the forms you need, you won’t have any problems getting your VISA.  To get your VISA you’ll probably have to pay a small fee.

It may be smart to at least know some English before you leave. You will probably learn a lot during your stay, but it can be difficult at first if you don’t feel like you master the language.

If you want to work in America, you’ll have to apply for a special permit to work.  If you intend to move there and live/work permanently you will need a green card. You can get this through a family member or an employer. It can be smart to check out this page: http://www.usa.gov/visitors/work.shtml.

Oliver Mtukudzi

5 Sep

We saw an interview with Oliver Mtukudzi in class today. He is a musician from Zimbabwe and is also an ambassador for the UN. In the clip he talked about how he feel his best when he’s on stage. And that even though he has been doing this for about forty years his success still surprises him. He is an international star, but his largest fan base remains in Zimbabwe.

Most of his songs are in his mother language Shona. It is really important to him to keep his identity and never forget his background. In his songs he often addresses politics and economics, but never points a finger at the government or anyone else. He says: That is the beauty of Shone. And with that he means that the language makes it easy to talk around subject without being to direct. Others describe him as a person that everybody loves and respect.

I didn’t have any problems when it came to understanding what he said in the interview. And in my opinion it was easy to understand him. I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised about this clip, but I think it’s really fun to get an insight when it comes to one side of the culture in Zimbabwe. I don’t really know a lot about the country, and the little I know is mostly Mugabe related.

There are many artists who perform in English even though it’s not their mother language. I think they do this to reach out to more people. If you have a song where the lyrics are in English the possibilities for it to become an international hit is a lot bigger.

If you want to see the interview with Oliver Mtukudzi then just follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86jM2OmnpqE


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