My first impressions of “Carthage”

23 Apr

I am currently reading the book “Carthage” written by Joyce Carol Oates, and so far am I enjoying it. The book is about a girl who has gone missing in a small town called Carthage. Her dad is a former mayor and a well-known lawyer in town, and her whole family has a good reputation.

carthage

I still have not found out what happened to the girl and am really intrigued to know what happened. She was with her sisters ex-fiance before she disappeared, and the police have found blood in his car. But I am not sure if he is the reason for her disappearance. I got a bit confused when the story suddenly changed the angle, and we got to know the sister of the missing girl. The sister is going on about her wedding, and talking to her fiance, but she never seems to get any response. Bur later on it gets a bit clearer as we get to know that he is a war veteran. He has not managed to leave the war in Iraq and is tremendously affected by what he saw.

So far am I really enjoying all the twists and turns in the book. When I start to think that I have the solution to the mystery, Oates manages to get a whole new suspect in. I also like that the book isn’t written from the police or a detective point of view, but the families.

My first impression of the book is good, and I am looking forward to finishing it, and finding out what really happened in Carthage!

The miners’ strike and gay rights in the UK in 1980’s

23 Apr

An industrial action was affecting the British coal industry, was the UK Miner’s Strike of 1884-85.  National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) considered the strike to be unconstitutional; the BBC described as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”. In 1984 over half the country’s 187 000 mineworkers are on strike because the government was going to close 20 uneconomic pits, putting 20,000 miners out of work.

miners

The strike ended on 3 March 1985. As a result of the disagreements, the miners went back to work, and it was a defining moment in British industrial relations and it weakened the British trade union movement. Fun fact: another outcome of the strike was the world’s best musicals, “Billy Elliot”! (No offense Cats, Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages and The Lion King).

Margaret “Maggi” Thatcher was Britain’s Prime Minister, representing the conservative party, from 1979-1990. She has been one of the history’s most controversial leader. She was loved and hated while she leads the country to either heaven or hell. During her time alive, she did several thing to change history, 5 of them are:

  1. She was the first female prime minister, in the UK
  2. She created and popularized “Thatcherism.”
  3. She led Britain in the Falklands War.
  4. She helped end the Cold War
  5. She won the respect of her critics

Gay rights in the UK during the 1980’s

The 1980’s where a year of setbacks for the gay community in the UK. The Thatcher government created Clause 28 of the Local Government Act, making it illegal for local authorities to support anything that could possibly promote homosexual relationships. The fear of HIV and AIDS dominated the society and they did not have a lot of knowledge about how the disease actually spreads. People were scared and when they read about it in the papers the disease and the gay community were often mentioned in the same article. This contributed to a general fear of the gay community and it was not easy to be openly gay during this time period. In1985 a new law made it illegal “to commit an act of gross indecency with another male, in public or private.” People were prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1985 and sentenced to imprisonment.

The writer Oscar Wilde were sentenced to two years in prison. But Wilde’s literary reputation saved him and he became an inspiration to several generations of gay men who were forced to hid their sexuality.

“Pride”

Today we watched the movie “Pride”, about the miner strike in the UK from 1984-95 and the gay and lesbian community during this time. The movie is about a group of gays and lesbians who sees that the minors who are on strike are being treated just like them by the police. They want to help and starts up an organization called lesbian and gay support the minors or LGSM.

It all starts during the pride parade in London in 1984, a small group of people chooses to show their support to the minors during the parade. They are walking with buckets and raise money as they go. A lot of people are against the gay community, but they manage to raise over 200pounds to support the minors families. The group identifies a small village in Wales who wants to accept their help. They went off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on for almost a year, the two LGSM and the minors with their families discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.

pridepride 2

Even though the two groups faces several difficult challenges during their time together, they manage to stay supportive of each other. The LGSM had a hard time in London and in the small town in Wales. At one time someone threw briks and fireworks into the house where they were having a meeting. And the minors got in trouble for excepting the help they were getting from the LGSM.

What amazes me with this movie is that it is inspired by a true story. It is inspiring to see how two completely different groups of society can come together and show solidarity and work together towards a set goal.

Sources:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/06/how-miners-strike-1984-85-changed-britain-ever

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/12/newsid_2540000/2540175.stm

http://archive.museumoflondon.org.uk/RWWC/Themes/1161/

Modern slavery in the US

9 Apr

United States imprisons more black people than the apartheid regime. Despite only counting for a total of 13% of the US population one in three people arrested for possession of drugs are black. Why is that ratio so different? Marlon Peterson, PR-director at The Frontier Society, says that today’s prison is the natural continuation of the Jim-Crow laws which in turn was a continuation of the slavery. The Jim-Crow laws were laws that enforced racial segregation. Today’s modern slavery comes in the form of the life people get after prison, what they are allowed to and what rights they have.

(Caption: Jim-Crow laws – racial segregation)

 

It is really difficult to get a normal life after serving time in jail. The majority of black americans in jail are from lower parts of society and needs help from the State, but are not able to get this after being giving the stamp of a former felon. In jail, you lose your right to vote, and all rights to accept social help. You also get a lot of bills from your time in jail. Without a job or a place to stay, most people have to embrace a new life on the street as homeless. All of this makes it almost impossible to get a normal life after serving time. It’s also really hard to get a job, as you are obligated to inform your employer about your past. This makes it harder to get jobs with good pay, and it’s almost impossible to make a living of your own. Even though you have finished your punishment for what you have done, the society keeps punishing you.

Modern slavery doesn’t come in the same form that slavery did 250 years ago. Today, slavery is something you may experience after ending one’s prison sentence. Many of your rights may be removed and help to get one back on one’s feet is not present.

Sources:

http://www.aftenposten.no/fakta/innsikt/USA-fengsler-flere-av-sine-svarte-borgere-enn-apartheidregimet-i-Sor-Afrika–7968873.html

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/JimCrowInDurhamNC.jpg

Franklin D. Roosevelt

12 Mar

Franklin D. Roosevelt became president of the US in 1933. His presidency was strongly impacted by war and a huge economic crisis. When FDR became president there was a great depression in the US and almost 1/3 of all Americans were unemployed. Right after Roosevelt had entered office, he had a visitor who told him “You will either be our greatest or our worst president”, Roosevelt responded “No, if I fail I’m going to be your last president.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT LIBRARY

13 million people were unemployed and Roosevelt was given the huge task of trying to turn the depression around. FDR had ambitious plans and made a new reformative programme called the new deal. The American society needed dramatical changes and Roosevelt got to work. He got people into work by having them build new roads, train lines and buildings. Younger boys were also send to work camps where they got to work. The president also made new laws regarding the banks and asked employers to keep the wages up and the prices down to get the economy up and going again. New deal is an important part of American history and Roosevelt handled the depression and the crisis perfectly. I’m not sure about if American would have the great economy they have today if it would have been handled any other way. It also made the president were popular, because the people could see and feel how his plan was working on a personal level.

Roosevelt was president until 1945 and is the only American president who has been seated for more than two periods. He was married to Eleanor Roosevelt and was born into a wealthy family. He got polio in 1921 and he struggled with this disease through the rest of his life. As a President, he used tricks to make it look like he was standing to show power, when he was really sitting on a high chair because it was too difficult to stand.

Sources:

https://snl.no/Franklin_D._Roosevelt

http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Roosevelt

The European Parliament

3 Mar

The European parliament is a parliament where all countries who is a part of the European Union are present.  The members of the European Parliament also known as MEPs are chosen by the people in their home country. The European parliament is based in several countries, but some of the key sights are Strasbourg and Brussels.

Some of the most important areas the MEPs work with is that they work and vote on European laws. Within EU legislation they are covering almost all of the EU’s areas of competence. They are also working on the EU budget. All of EU’s expenses are discussed here at some point. They also has a certain control over other EU constituencies and agencies.The MEP’s are the ones who decide how the EU is going to respond to incidents in Europe. The highest number of members a country can have is 96 witch is the number of members Germany has, but how many you get is based on the population of your country. The least amount of representatives a country can have is 6. Only the smallest countries Cyprus, Luxembourg, Estonia and Malta only has 6 members in parliament.  Elections to choose the 751 MEPs take place every five years, and every country are allowed to choose how they are going to vote.

The British right winged party UKIP has twenty-four members of the European Parliament. Witch makes it the largest UK party represented in the parliament. UKIP received the most votes in the 2014 European elections, and it was the first time in over a century that a party other than the conservatives or the labour party won a United Kingdom-wide election.  UKIP is generally against UKs  membership in the EU, and so are many brits.  A reason to why UKIP won the popular vote and has the  largest represented party in the European parliament from the UK could be just because of that particular reason that they are critical and sceptical. They also say that they are giving the UK their voice back in the parliament, as UKIP representatives are not afraid to speak their mind.

Here we have Nigel Farage (UKIP leader) represented in the European Parliament.  

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Independence_Party
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_to_the_European_Parliament
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-and-local-elections-2014-what-will-happen-if-ukip-wins-the-popular-vote-9410357.html

The 3 most important responsibilities in the House of Commons

26 Feb

In the House of Commons we find the members of parliament (MPs). There are 650 members, each representing their own constituencies. The House of Commons has a lot of different tasks and responsibilities and I am going to list the 3 I think is the most important.

Firstly, the House of Commons are often described as the heart of the parliament and democracy. This is where new bills are read out for the first time and worked with. When the  House of Commons have made a refreshed outline of the bill they send it over to the House of Lords who makes corrections as well. When they think the bill looks about right they send it back to the House of Commons. When they get it back, they go over what this bill really means and when they are happy with the bill it gets presented to the Queen who will make the law official. New laws is one of the most important responsibilities the House of Commons have.

The public is also allowed into the chamber to watch the House when they have meetings. They can see their elected MP in action and can control their work. The press is also allowed in and that way they have a certain control of the MPs as well as the government. Sometimes they also have question time where it’s possible to ask the government and the prime minister questions. By having the House of Commons where you have the government on the one side and the opposition on the other it also makes it easier to question and  scrutinize the government.

It is also very important to remember that the members of the House of Commons are working for you. They are members of parliament elected by the people and they are obligated to do what the people living in their constituencies think is right, at least they should if they want to be re-elected. As a member of a constituency you have the right to be in touch with your MP. You could either call, e-mail, write a letter or see him or her in person when they are back at their local office. By being elected by the people they are referred to as the heart of democracy in the UK.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Commons_of_the_United_Kingdom

http://annmichaelsen.com/2015/02/23/the-uk-election-2015-and-the-european-parliament/

Lions for Lambs

12 Feb

Today we watched “Lions for Lambs”, a american drama film from 2007 about the war in Afghanistan. The movie includes two soldiers in Afghanistan, a college professor and one of his students, a journalist and an American senator.

The two soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting Taliban. They are a part of a new military operation set to life by the American senator Irving. The plan behind the new operation is that they are going to work in smaller groups and try to occupy specific areas who will give them benefits in the war. They has their eye on an important mountain who will give them an 360 degree outlook of the wally, and needs to get this under american control before the Taliban gets there. Meanwhile, back in the US senator Irving has made an appointment with an well known journalist. He gives her a whole hour and there is no one to stop her from asking certain questions. The Senator wants to get a proper story out to the people about this new plan to end the war against terror and the Afghan War. The journalist is asking a lot of questions, trying to fully understand the sanity behind it all and drags a couple of conclusions of her-self. Through the film, we also get to know a college professor at an university in California, he has called one of his students in to his office to talk about his future. The student is a young, bright man called Todd. He used to be really enthusiastic in class, but has not showed up to any reason lectures. The professor wants to talk to him because he has seen his potential and wants to get him to realize that he has the ability to make an impact on the world and become someone important.  They are connected to the others in the film because the two soldiers in Afghanistan used to be the professors students before they enlisted in the army.

Moreover, during the conversation between Professor Malley and Todd, the professor is asking Todd to get involved. He can either choose to get an B in his course, and the only condition is that he will not show up to any more of the professors lectures. Or he could get involved, read his assigned papers and use the ability he has to become something great. He tells him that the only person who can make decisions that will impact his life later is himself. And there is not going to be anyone to watch over him, he can of course make decisions today and get the easy way out, but he will most likely spend several years to make up for it later in life. And that will take a lot of hard work.

When a country is involved in a war, it will always impact other aspects in that country even though the war is fought somewhere else in the world. We saw in the movie that both of the students who had later become soldiers, whose names were Arian and Ernest both came from poor areas in the US. The only reason that they had the opportunity to attend college was that they had a baseball scholarship and was playing sports next to studying other subjects. Even though they had not had the best up-bring in the US, they still wanted to fight for their country. The US also uses billions of dollars on war every year, this is money that could had been spent on other parts of society.

Very resent, Obama has asked the Congress about support to put American boots on forging soil in the war against ISIL. ISIL is a big threat against America and a lot of other western countries. The war against terrorism is definitely not over, and what we saw in the movie might happen in real life. It is also interesting to see Obama decide this after declaring that he does not want american soldiers in other countries risking their lives, but is also gives us an insight of how important it is to fight against such horrid actions.

UK politics and the upcoming election

8 Jan

The United Kingdom is an unitary democracy governed country within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, in witch the Monarch is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The legislative power is divided between two chambers of the Parliament, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as in the Scottish parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies.  The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

The UK political system is a multi-party system. This means that there are several parties you can vote for. But since the 1920s, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party has been the two largest political parties. Coalition and minority governments have been an occasional feature of parliamentary politics, the first-past-the-post electoral system used for general elections tends to maintain the dominance of these two parties. But a third party called the Liberal Democrats has in the past century become a working majority in Parliament.
The current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is the first coalition since 1945. This means that the Cameron ministry, who is the current government is composed of members of both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. The government’s Cabinet is made up of sixteen Conservatives and five Liberal Democrats, with eight other Conservatives and one other Liberal Democrat attending cabinet but they are not members of the government.

The general election

The next general election in the UK is set at 7 May 2015. When Parliament is dissolved, every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant and a general election is held. Each constituency in the UK elects one MP (Member of Parliament) ta a seat in the House of Commons. The political party that wins a majority of seats in the House of Commons usually forms the Government. There is a total of 650 constituencies in the UK. They all choose one MP who are going to represent their area at least every five years.The election is held every five years on the first Thursday in May.

It is not long now until they are going to have a new election in the UK. This election will elect the 56th Parliament of the United  Kingdom. Voting takes place in all parliamentary constituencies to elect members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the House of Commons. There are 650 seats, witch means that a party needs 326 seats to have the majority.

David Cameron who represents the Conservative party is the current Prime Minister in the UK. It is expected that either he or Ed Miliband from the Labour party will be the Prime Minister after this election. The two parties have supplied all UK Prime Ministers since the 1930’s.

When Writing about UK politics, there is one controversial party I have to mention. Ukip, UK Independence Party is a right-winged political party in the UK. It was founded in 1993, with the primary objective of securing the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. They get a lot of attention and has actually been growing over the last couple of years. They recently suggested that all UK schools should have the Flag up every day and that there should be spoken fewer languages at schools to increase the feeling of being British. They want UK to be more independent and they think that the nation is spending to much money on other countries.

Sources:
http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections-and-voting/general/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_the_United_Kingdom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameron_ministry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2015

5 reasons for Obama to be satisfied

8 Jan

Barack Obama has been getting more popular among the american population recently, it’s still not great, but better. A new pole done late in 2014 showed that 48% of Americans was satisfied with Obamas work as president. This is the best result he has gotten in quite a while now, and is better than what Bush had at the same time when he was president.

Here are 5 reasons to why President Barack Obama can be satisfied

1. The employment rate is going up
The american economy is enjoying the low oil prices and the number of people who are working in America is going up each month. The unemployment is now at 5,8% witch is a great improvement. Also Mitt Romney, who were Obamas opponent during the last election promised to get it under 6%, which Obama now has accomplished.

2. Gas prices are going down
The gas prices are often an important case to the American voters, and they have been getting away with low prices for a long time now. The American organization AAA are constantly paying attention to the price and right before Christmas there was a record amount of days where the price kept falling. The price for a gallon of regular gas is now $2,20.

3. The relationship to Cuba
America has had a complicated and hostile relationship to Cuba for many years. But they have now been speaking to make the hospitality go away. Obama announced that they are going to make an effort to normalize the relationship between the two countries who has been enemies for 55 years now.  The Americans are happy about this and wants the traveling restrictions to go away, they want a diplomatic relationship and the possibility to trade between them.

4. New emigration laws
Late in November Obama presented a new package of emigration laws. He had made this proposition alone  without the congress. The biggest proposition was that he wants to give 4,2 million illegal immigrants papers so that they don’t have to worry about being send back to their country of origin.

5. Ending unpopular wars, getting involved in “popular” war
Obama has during his time as president withdrawed a lot of soldiers from conflicts in Afghanistan and Irak. The war in Irak had minimal support back home in America and Obama has been getting a lot of support from stepping down the warfare here. Obama has started a campaign against the ISIL and this gets a lot of support as well.

I think that the fact that the employment rate is going up is really important to Obama and the rest of the US. When people are working this impacts several other aspects of the society and is always positive for the whole country. You never want to have a lot of unemployed people as this costed the country money and it is also a negative factor to the economy.

Sources:
http://linkis.com/www.e-pages.dk/aften/3pRk8

Boyhood

5 Jan

During our last class before Christmas, we went to the movies to watch a film called “Boyhood”. It is written and directed by Richard Linklater and the movie stands out from other movies. They have chosen to use the same actor and filmed over 12 years.

The movie is about the life of a young man called Mason, and we get to follow his life from the age of five, until he is 18 and begins a new life at college. There are a lot of challenges on the way, including abusive step fathers, the pressure to do drugs, heartbreak and moving to new places as a teenager.

Furthermore, the movie is really entertaining even though it is pretty long. Linklater manages to keep the viewers attention and it does not feel like you are sitting through a almost three hour long film. I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to others.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyhood_%28film%29
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1065073/

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