Monday, 2 April 2012
Sunday, 1 April 2012
The US government said that although it welcomes China’s peaceful rise, with China’s new pre-eminence in the world comes new responsibilities.
Friday, 30 March 2012
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a government-funded global news network based in Russia, and has news outlets all over the world including America, Britain and France. It was set up to provide an unbiased portrait of Russia, and the same can be seen amongst the other countries in which they have news outlets. The clip I found is from 2010 and discusses the military relations between China and America with Professor Michel Chossudovsky, who according to westernstandard.ca is one of Canada’s “nuttiest professors”, so some his comments should be taken in context.
The opening introduction to the segment highlights the relationship between China and America, comparing it to that of a relationship between brothers. The presenter opens with: “Remember that kid brother of yours that you always used to beat up?” This opening shows that America used to be the dominant country, as seen in the Cold War, their advancement of technology and their military might, and that they used to have the power to control countries. The presenter then goes on to say: “Then all of a sudden that kid brother hit a growth spurt and developed a longer reach so daily doses of knuckle sandwiches had to stop”, implying that America’s dominance was threatened because China developed as an NIC, developed their own nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and grew in terms of their technology and military power. The presenter ends with: “And as much as you wanted to cave it in his face, at times, you knew he was still your brother”, this being the epitome of the relationship between China and America today because America is reliant on China for financial support as well as industry (in terms of making toys and gadgets like iPods) and trade.
Chossudovsky claims that there are tensions between China and America that have been around for at least ten years and that China has been threatened since at least 1999 through a geo-political agenda, as opposed to the claim that tensions between China and America have recently started. This shows that neither nation wanted the world to know about their frictions. It could also be argued that America did not want to appear to have lost control of China, as it would have shown that America’s power in the world was declining, especially since the 9/11 attacks seemed to prove this. However, Chossudovsky has been criticized for his “wild-eyed theories”, so his claim that tensions have been there since 1999 could be doubted.
Michel Chossudovsky also claims that China has been threatened by America because of the Iran Sanctions Washington proposed that China did not want to go along with; stating that the regime was based on “double standards, fake data, and the presumption that Iran is a threat to global security”. This shows that the reasons behind the tensions between China and America are because of other countries, not necessarily between each other. Chossudovsky claims that China is threatened if Iran is threatened because they have agreements with each other, as well as China also having agreements with Russia; implying that America could be nervous about China’s relations with other countries and how it might affect it [America] in the future. Somewhat ironically, the Sino-Soviet Pact of the 1950’s did not work out, so it is interesting that China and Russia have relations with each other. In addition, the relationship between Russia and China was described as one of brothers, so again it is also interesting that the presenter at the beginning of the clip described China and America as brothers.
When asked how the Chinese are being threatened, Chossudovsky says that their diplomacy is polite and not an obvious or verbal threatened. Instead, America has set up military bases around the country as well as supporting insurgencies within the Chinese territory. He claims that from a strategic military perspective, China is considered a threat to America, despite officials like Premier Wen Jiabao stating that tensions are easing. This links back to Chossudovsky’s claims that tensions have been around for at least a decade, because it shows that the nations are putting on a positive portrayal of relations, or as Chossudovsky puts it “a gilded surface”, in spite of the supposed covert techniques for America to try and gain power of China. Chossudovsky believes that the fundamental issue is for the Obama administration to take a step back in military strategy in relation to China, in order for tensions between the two nations to properly cool. However, Chossudovsky fails to mention other ways in which tension would still remain, for example in terms of the economy.
The web item I have chosen to analyse in reference to American-Chinese relations is http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Politics-Complicate-China-US-Relations-137269073.html.This article focuses primarily on the political side of the America-Chinese relations, and identifies this area as the main cause of conflict and disagreement between the two rival nations. This is evident as early as the title, which reads 'Politics Complicates China-US Relations'. The article is not completely one dimensional however. Within the area of Politics, the writer explores the complexities of the international relation in question. She talks about how, within the political conflict, areas such as finance and society are also analysed and explored. This is significant as it shows the depth of the issues surrounding the conflict.
One of the main focuses of Stephanie Ho is the issue of the potential change in power which might take place for both countries. She reveals her anxiousness regarding the possible election of Republican candidate Mitt Romney. His words regarding the American-Chinese relations state that “On day one, I will file, or I will, through an executive order, label China as a currency manipulator allowing us to put tariffs on Chinese goods that are coming into our country and killing American jobs in an unfair way”. This shows how, in the eyes of Ho, the situation is at danger of becoming worse as a result of new, Republican leadership. The fact that, earlier in the article, Ho identifies the problems with the way Obama leads in relation to the American relationship with China shows the extent of caution and worry that is being caused.
The words of Mitt Romney which have been used by Ho also link closely to the economy, which is something she identifies as important in this subject when she comments, 'Another area of friction between the two countries involves economic issues, and American political candidates have found that China bashing can win voter support'. This explains that, although economic issues do exist between the two countries, particularly in relation to the manufacturing and selling of new technological products, the political representation of these issues in America is the biggest problem. This shows how, in the eyes of Ho, the primary cause of American-Chinese conflict is the way Politics fabricates and over-emphasises problems that stem socially and economically.
Despite many of the ideas that are being expressed here seem sensible and understandable, we must take into consideration the fact that Stephanie Ho is, herself, Chinese. And although the overall publication is entitled 'Voice of America', it has been written by someone in Beijing. Through this we can't help but think that an element of bias is being exercised, in the same way that if an article with the same name was being written by an American journalist in New York, we would have to question its reliability. In summary, however, it is clear that there is a distinct conflict between China and America; an issue stemming from two nations constantly trying to better each other economically and politically. This is particularly identifiable with America, a nation which thrives on conflict and is determined to be the most powerful nation in the world. Judging from this article, and others of its kind, it is clear that the American-Chinese problem is only going to get worse.
Sunday, 25 March 2012
Saturday, 24 March 2012
Today there are many different digital identities available to Americans; from Twitter, to Facebook, to MySpace, as well as various blogs and forums. As well as being a way for people to show who they are, these forms of digital media also allows for millions of people to communicate and stay in contact with one another, which is a part of the human identity. It is a quick way to transmit and receive information; this is particularly made event by the fact that news outlets have twitter and Facebook accounts so people can “follow” or “friend” them in order to keep up with the latest happening.
Digital identities such as Facebook and Twitter tell us that in the future, identity will be important in America because so many people are a part of it, and when you first set up your accounts you’re asked to provide some detail about yourself. As well as this, after you’ve created your accounts, there are way to add your interests and to follow certain people and activities that you’re interested in. It also shows that identity will become more important because it allows people to belong to a wider community of people and allows people to reach others they would not necessarily have the means of reaching.
However, digital identities also show that the future of identity in America will not necessarily be important because people can manufacture who they want to be, and in some cases it doesn’t particularly matter who you are, just as long as you have an account on a website like Facebook or Twitter.
These digital identities also raise the question as to whether everyone is the same online. On the one hand, people are not the same online as they are in real life. This difference in persona sometimes leads to things such as cyber-bullying whereby people have the courage to say things to others online which they would not say face-to-face. This is similar to an online phrase, trolling, which is when online personas leave often nasty and vicious messages meant to hurt, humiliate and in some cases kill people. Therefore it can be argued that Facebook and Twitter allow people to reinvent themselves online as bullies.
However on the other hand people do use digital identities in order to create new positive identities for themselves. A prominent example of this is YouTube, which allows people to express themselves to a wider audience; in some cases these people become internationally famous. For example Justin Bieber, Tiffany Alvord and other young people. It’s easier to create new identities on outlets such as Twitter, which promotes anonymity, making it more discreet and impersonal, unlike outlets like Facebook where you upload pictures and openly like certain things. An anonymous person tweeted: "Facebook is where you lie to your friends. Twitter it where you're honest with complete strangers", and I think this epitomizes the differences between the various digital identities.
Sunday, 18 March 2012
Thursday, 15 March 2012
The New York Times wrote a series about class in America in 2005, and the article I’ve found is an overview and introduction of what the series was about. The series aimed to show whether class influenced American society, where they think of “itself as a land of unbounded opportunity”. I found that the opening article had a mixed view on this; although The New York Times’ political stance has been debated, and it has been argued as to whether or not they are conservative or liberal. As well as this, the newspapers publishers, the Ochs-Sulzberger family, have owned the newspaper for generations and are said to be heavily involved in the newspaper, so this is also taken into consideration when reading the article.
The article starts by stating that the class lines in America used to be very defined: “The upper crust vacationed in Europe and worshiped an Episcopal God. The middle class drove Ford Fairlanes, settled the San Fernando Valley and enlisted as company men. The working class belonged to the A.F.L.-C.I.O., voted Democratic and did not take cruises to the Caribbean.” This suggests that it is now harder to see the difference of class between peoples in contemporary America because things are somewhat priced cheaper, credit is (or at least at the time the series was written) more readily available to lower income families, meaning it is easier for the class lines to become blurred. It also suggests that to some extent there is no longer a class struggle because most people can afford to live the lifestyles that “their grandparents could not live previously”. However, from the Panorama video we watched in Wednesday’s class, it is clear that this is not the case as many Americans, perhaps more than ever, cannot afford healthcare/ insurance or sufficient housing. This can also be supported by the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest that took place last year.
However the article does agree that class lines are still important in contemporary America, stating: “the proportion of students from upper-income families has grown, not shrunk”. This shows that despite the seemingly shrinking class divides, it is still in fact people of the same class bracket (i.e. the upper middle class and upper classes) that are going to college in America, thus giving them more opportunities to get better, higher paid jobs, allowing them to maintain their class position, whereas the people from the lower classes are not going to college, meaning that they cannot move up the class ladder. However colleges such as Amherst president Andrew Marx have adopted schemes in which to allow people from lower income families to attend college, in an attempt to close the class lines. Even still, this further exemplifies the importance of class because it shows that while the rich and upper classes can easily afford to pay for their education, it is the lower and poorer classes that cannot education, and somewhat implies that they do not work hard enough, especially because of the inherent beliefs of American society which are to work hard in order to achieve success.
The article also mentions other areas of importance for class; for instance in: residence, most affluent Americans live in the suburbs and have “exurban chateaus”, with the article even accusing the affluent of being isolated from the rest of America; family structure, affluent Americans are more likely to get married later and to have children when they are older, compared to less affluent Americans who tend to have children at twenty-two.
In retrospect, although the article appears to claim that class is no longer such an important factor in contemporary America, it seems to go against this. In particular, with regards to education the article does support the idea that class enables children of affluent standing to be educated than children from lower classes. The article also implies that just because it is now harder to tell the classes apart (or who belongs to which class), does not mean that class is no longer an important factor in contemporary American society, in fact class determines (in most cases) what kind of life a person will have; supported by economist Professor Levine at Berkley, California: “while it’s always been important, it’s probably a little more important now”, and this can be seen as true especially since the recession.
This is an example of the blatant nature of economic and social divide in America. Where is it and why?
American inequality in living standards - what does it say about America's dream? Can you find similar examples of "divided America"?
See you Monday,
Sunday, 11 March 2012
In 1874, three young Japanese men met at an American Congregational church in San Francisco. It was the dawn of Christianity among the Japanese people in the United States. The first Japanese church, called The Gospel Society, was organized in 1877 with the enthusiastic assistance of Caucasian-American church members who had led these Japanese to salvation through English study sessions.
Our mission is to plant and nurture thriving communities of faith and love who will share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all in their world, with an abiding call to reach people of Japanese ancestry.What I like about that quote is that even though it is from one ethnicity, the website shows a diverse group of people in the pictures at the top of the page.
Saturday, 10 March 2012
The Brethren Church is a Christian denomination originating from Germany. Its teachings come from the New Testament and follows Jesus’ creed. The Brethren Church work to promote simplicity and an easier way of living. In 1882 the Brethren leader Henry Holsinger organized the Brethren Church in Dayton Ohio, and took control of Ashland College, which is still around today. The Brethren members are mainly in the Midwest in states such as: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, which is not surprising as there was a large German immigrant population in these states.
The Brethren Church is located in Ashland Ohio, where the old leader first set up the church. This shows the continuing of ideas as they have kept the same location for so many centuries. It still appears to promote a simpler way of living, because their website is easily accessible and with a simple design.
All members of staff of the Brethren Church based in Ohio are all married with children and this promotes the idea of the nuclear family life in America, and shows that it is a prominent part of the American identity in terms of faith. It also shows that by leading by example, the staff can be looked up to as representations of what the Brethren Church believes. This links in to one of their five core value beliefs, relational, which is the value of loving god, each other and their neighbours. This in turn goes back to America’s identity of being an example to the rest of the world and a “city on a hill”.
Interestingly, the Brethren advocate working together, something that goes against the individualist nature of the American identity; and in some ways this notion of working together is a sign that the Brethren denomination derives from Europe and is not inherently American. Another interesting note is that the Brethren say they take their teachings from solely the New Testament, stating they have “no creed but the New Testament”, but then they use passages from the Old Testament to support their views on social issues such as homosexuality.
Monday, 5 March 2012
The video that i chose, is from the US news show “Fox News” the story being told is a debate between Mitchell Gold, “founder of Faith in America”, and “one of the most vitriolic voices within the anti-gay religious industry” the subject which is being discussed is the teaching of “cultural and societal achievement and contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals” in schools in the state of California. Without even seeing the video the question of American gay and lesbian identity is shown, in the fact that the topic of merely teaching homosexual history is seen as controversial.
The debate starts with Gold explaining why it is important to teach gay history, he states that it is the “Positive reinforcement they deserve” he says that people “are who they are” and therefore as an American nation they should embrace the differences that people have in sexuality. In introducing gay history he wants to show that sexuality doesn’t matter, and that there are plenty of people in America history that have done great things. Gold speaks of his past in saying he wishes he had something like this in the 60’s, this showing that sexual identity in America has changed and become more embracing of diversity.
Peter Sprigg starts is counter attack by drawing on other people who like Sprigg oppose the teaching of gay history like the Los Angeles times. He continues in saying it is “ridiculous to use history curriculum to boost a student’s self esteem” and that history is not the place for this. He goes on to say that in doing so it will be producing “pro homosexual propaganda” as it will be one sided, and not a “balanced history.”
The interviewer asks “What does it matter?” in relation to the sexuality of someone in history. Gold’s response is that America is “heterosexual supremacy society” this showing that sexual identity such as being gay is in the minority, and in teaching gay history a stronger less prejudice identity towards homosexual people can be created thus reducing bullying and discriminative behavior. Sprigg however says that bullying has nothing to do with history and that this movement is an “attack on religious liberty” as in many religions homosexuality is seen as being wrong. Sprigg concludes in saying we should not single out people, in doing so turning the tables on Gold in which he appears to be the unreasonable one, not being fair to the whole and just focusing on gay and lesbian people.
Overall the sexual identity and the teaching of gay and lesbian history in schools causes a lot of controversy amongst American society, as there are still a lot of anti-gay communities in America.
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Friday, 2 March 2012
The video that I found is a personal vlog (video blog) by Onision and shares his opinion about gay people. Onision is known for his strong opinions which not a lot of people agree with. Him being a young person, it could be argued that some of his views on issues such as homosexuality are mirrored in other young people. As well as this, being born and growing up in a more liberal time to that of our parents or grandparents, and where being gay will not have you lobotomised or imprisoned (in the western world), shows that younger people are more open and welcoming of others who may be different to them. However, the fact that he had to create this vlog in the first place also implies that America is not as liberal a place as it appears and that even in contemporary USA being gay is still a hot topic. Also this video was posted in 2009 after the Miss USA Beauty Pageant, where Miss California, Carrie Prejean, said she was opposed to same-sex marriage, so this video could also be seen as a response to that as well.
The basic message of his video is that being gay is not a choice. The setup of the video is asking a series of questions, at the beginning, which most of the viewers will respond with a certain answer, which then allows for Onision to make his point that being gay is not a choice, but that that’s okay. He compares this to liking ice cream, music and the dislike of burning. Here he is trying to show that you cannot help what you like and what you dislike, however, some choices are not necessarily as instantaneous as he suggests. He uses the example of music; “should I bob my head to this?” but I some cases it takes a while to decide whether or not you like something, and in terms of being gay, this could also mean that it takes a while for people to know for definite if they are attracted to others of the same sex. Although, in most cases, and from some of the other videos that I watched, such as interviews with directors: John Waters and Augusten Burroughs, many people knew they were always gay from a young age.
Onision says that if we can accept liking ice cream then we should just accept gay people for who they are. Against this point, there has been a stigma surrounding gay people, with videos from the 1950’s like the one we watched in Wednesday’s workshop, saying that gay people were ill and had a sickness “of the mind”. Due to this long standing prejudice, it is harder for gay people to become accepted by the majority of heterosexual people who still believe being gay is an illness or is wrong. However, Onision makes the point that we are not all the same, interestingly pointing out that if we were, then we would all be gay. He also makes the point that heterosexual people are not a perfect example of the human race, further exemplifying that there is nothing wrong with gay people. This links to Precious when Miss Rain explains to Precious that it’s the straight people that cause the problems in the world and that it was the straight people that hurt her [Precious]. It also links to the film Milk where during a live debate; Harvey Milk makes the point that gay people are being born to heterosexual people, thus implying that there is something wrong with straight people and not gay people. Onision supports this when he says that people can either become accepting or continue to be “the person that makes this world miserable to wake up to”.
Overall the video’s message to gay people is that they should not be ashamed of being who they are and should be proud of themselves. This message is paramount throughout the video and encourages gay people to not hide because they may not enjoy their lives. However, this video is an example of his strong opinions and to some extent it could be argued that it is the same as anti-gay videos, in terms of his way of speaking and imposing his beliefs on the watcher, although he says he does not do that; showing how being gay in contemporary USA is still a big issue.
Sunday, 26 February 2012
The review which i found from ‘Brothers Judd’ is very critical on Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. The review firstly states “we find out much about Barbara Ehrenreich, fairly little about the difficult lives of people she worked with, and nearly nothing about what she would suggest we do to make their lives easier.” This i believe to be true, as despite a few short stories about Ehrereich’s co-workers we fail to gain any in depth insight into the lives of those actually living this lifestyle. I feel the novel would have been enhanced if she had more of a focus on the life’s of the people living in these conditions, if she had become more involved out of the work environment she could have gained further perspective on low-wage USA.
Brothers Judd criticise Ehrenreich as she enters in to her experiment alone this as the review says “makes her character in the book completely unrealistic and leaves her to spend all her time fixating on herself.” If Ehrenreich was to actually live this life she is forgetting that the majority of people in this situation have others to care for and provide for so her experiment is flawed in this sense.
The review would seem to take a religious slant on events, Ehrereich’s dismissal of religion and the church ‘At one point she actually goes to a revival meeting, but it turns out she's only there to make fun of the service’ there is another occasion when the church is offered as a point of refuge and help, but Ehrenreich never acts on this. The idea of religion being a way out, comments on society in the sense that assistance and help is given to those that choose God and religion. On the other hand it could merely be that it is part of their religious beliefs to help others so it is no surprise that help is given through the church.
Another review like the Brothers Judd criticizes Ehrenreich’s experiment. http://www.pajiba.com/book_reviews/nickel-and-dimed-review.php they look to question who the book is aimed at, the review states “You had to read a book about some rich white lady’s experience to learn that some people end up staying in motel rooms that cost twice as much as an apartment, because they can’t scrape together the money for a deposit?” this questioning peoples lack of knowledge and understanding shows American societies failure to address these issues.
The review does defend Ehrenreich in saying that the “book does not mimic what it is actually like to live in poverty” and Ehrenreich stated this from the beginning. However if this is the case what is the point in the experiment if only for Ehrenreich to know that she can live this way! Despite not forming any strong attachment to the people with whom she worked with, she did however as the review says learn how “various employers screw over their employees”
Overall the novel did perform a critical commentary on American society, and how it has failed to recognise many of the housing issues that people working low wage jobs find. The book however like the reviews say was to largely centred around Barbara Ehrenreich making her the centre when the actual people in this situation could give a better insight.