Quick explanation of the health care reform

The health care reform has been up for debate for quite some time. Obamacare’s reform is focused to create and increase the quality, accessibility and affordability for American citizens. Most who can afford the insurance must obtain it by 2014. Another important point is that companies are not allowed to “drop” you when you are sick. The law also protects against discrimination of any sort. The government will also subsidize some of the cost that is associated with the health insurance.

One of the main concerns is regarding business owners and employees. Over 160 million Americans got health care from their employers before Obamacare. They may now face higher premiums and fewer providers.
Another problem is students – they often cannot afford more than food and clothing, and why should they budget for things they really cannot afford?

9/11 a day we will never forget

The 9/11 attacks were a series of four aircraft hijacks, which ended with all four planes going down. The New York Twin Towers were hit by two of them, AA Flight 11 crashed in the Northern tower while UA Flight 175 were crashed in the Southern tower. The third flight, AA Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon, which lead to a partial destruction of the western part of the headquarters. UA Flight 93, the fourth plane, was targeted towards Washington DC, but the passengers managed to take some control of the plane – despite of this, the plane unfortunately crashed into a field near Diamond T. Mine in Stonycreek Township.

The result of these hijacks were that 2 996 people lost their lives and the crashes caused approximately $10 billion in property and infrastructure damages.

 

In our class last Thursday we saw the movie 9/11, which is a documentary about the Twin Tower attacks. The documentary was originally planned to be a documentary about a man joining a fire squad and going from “being a boy, to becoming a man”. The two French filmmakers wanted to create this to documentary to show their kids what being a firefighter really means. Their days at the fire hall seemed to be like any other normal fire hall. That changed on 11th of September 2001. They were caught in the middle of the attacks in NYC.

 

9/11 took their documentary on a whole different path; they managed to film what I consider to be the worst terrorist attack to this date. Not only did they film during the attacks, they also filmed the aftermath.

 

As I reflect over the movie, I have come to the conclusion that 9/11 is a day we will never forget. Our lives changed dramatically that day, and it will never be the same. This is not an incident that only affected the States; this is an incident that affected the whole world!

Midterm election update – Iowa and Bruce Braley

This post is an update on the midterm election and Bruce Braley.

Update:

The democrats failed to keep their seat in the House, Bruce Braley lost to Joni Ernst, she will replace Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Ms. Ernst got 52,2% of the votes whereas Mr. Braley managed to get 43,7%.

Many believe that Mr. Braley lost a lot of votes when he publicly appeared to disrespect Iowa’s farming traditions. Ernst on the other hand had TV ads running where she showed off her love for farms and farming.

The democrats have been arguing throughout the campaign that Ernst is too extreme, politically that is. One thing is sure; we’ll find out sooner rather than later!

 

The close race in Iowa

The midterm election of the presidential period 2012-2016 is being held on November 4th this year! Which is shortly after this post goes live!

Today, I want to write about the midterm election in Iowa and the democrat Bruce Braley. Although it does not look too good for Mr. Braley Iowa is a swing state, which means it can go either way. Joni Ernst, the Republican who is going against Mr. Braley in Iowa has, according to NY Times, today a 64% chance of winning the election and become the next senator
representing Iowa. If she wins, she will be the first woman from the state of Iowa to be elected into Congress. Mr. Braley on the other hand will take the place of retiring democrat Tom Harkin.

The NY Times writes that Iowa may be the determining factor when thinking about who gets the control over the senate. The fact that Obama is unpopular in the state at the moment does not boil well for Bruce Bailey. Still, it’s still too early to tell who is going to win.
Below is the chart that shows the close race between Ms. Ernst and Mr. Braley. It’s clear that we won’t find out who gets Iowa before the 4th of November.


Anyhow, let’s take a look at Bruce Braley and his position in some of the major questions in American politics.
When asked about the climate change he said: “We have ignored this problem for far too long.” It’s clear that he thinks that the global warming we currently experience is real and man-made, and in 2009 he voted on passing the trading emissions bill.
His stand on economy and the minimum wage question is easy – he supports raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. After Obama held a speech at the President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address where he’s quoted on saying that he’s glad that Obama “strongly emphasized strengthening the middle-class”.
Braley is pro-choice in the adoption question. He’s also a supporter of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, also known as Obamacare.

Take a look at the video below for both some funny stories regarding “Bruce Brailey” and some seriousness about the midterm election. Most humor though.

Follow Bruce Braley on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BruceBraley

And as always, thanks for reading!

US – Election Questions

  1. What is the Electoral College In U.S. Elections?
    The Electoral College is the organ that officially elects the new President and Vice President every 4 years.
  2. What is an inauguration? Mentions some points Obama had in his inauguration speech
    An inauguration is where a leader is formally “celebrated” to mark the beginning of the persons leadership in the respected company/community/party etc.
    Obama had several points in his inauguration speech including:
    – Climate change
    – Gay rights and anti-discrimination
    – Gun control
    – Equal rights for women and men
  3. What does “democracy is the right to dissent” mean?
    This means that one is allowed to think, believe and publicly express their own views and opinions despite what the majority/leaders thinks.
  4. A swing state, what is it?
    A swing state is a state where all the parties and candidates have approximately the same amount of votes. These states are often looked at as the most important states during the elections. This is due to the fact that non-swing states are looked at as safe states by the candidates and/or parties. Less effort is put into these states in terms of marketing themselves.
  5. What is a caucus and how do they pick a candidate for the president election?
    A caucused is a meeting of members and supporters for a specific political party and/or movement.
    In order to decide on a candidate for the PE the party holds several caucus’ where they discuss the possible candidates and in the end decides which candidate they will nominate for election.
  6. What is government 2.0?
    Government 2.0 is about making the government more open, transparent and engaging. In 2.0 the public also plays a bigger role in “forming policy” and “improved access to government information”
  7. What are the main concerns about the new Health Reform?
    One of the main concerns is regarding business owners and employees. Over 160 million Americans got health care from their employers before Obamacare. They may now face higher premiums and fewer providers.
    Another problem is students – they often cannot afford more than food and clothing, and why should they budget for things they really cannot afford?
  8. Check this link.

Recount – One way to settle the presidential election!

In this lesson we saw the movie Recount featuring Kevin Spacy and John Hurt. The movie released in May 2008 features the 2000 Gore Vs. Bush election and the partial voting recount that happened in some counties of Florida.

I learned several new things while watching the movie, here are some of the highlights:

  • The historical event of the 2000 Presidential election and the drama surrounding the state of Florida.
  • I learned more about the political system as well as how the different parties work together in their respectable teams.
  • Last but not least I learned about how voting is settled if there’s an error.

What I found most interesting is how old-fashioned the voting system were. In the state of Florida they punch cards in order to vote. That is a method they could’ve used in the early 19-hundreds.

Another interesting topic is how the counting machines counted differently on each count, this was due to the old equipment used.

When doing the manual recount they had a set time-frame in which they had to complete the counting. This I can fully understand, but the problem is the people in charge of setting the deadline. They were obviously biased, which I tink one sho1_123125_123054_2093644_2105523_040824_fla_chad.jpg.CROP.original-originaluldn’t tolerate in an important election like the presidential election in the US of A!

 

Now, I’m going to look at the learning aspect of watching a movie like Recount.

Personally I think it’s a great way to learn, watching movies is an awesome way to get things under your skin.

I’m not expressing it like this just because it’s “cool to watch movies during school hours”, no I think movies like Recount gives a person a great understanding on how the voting system is in the States.

When the director manages to combine a great story with learning they’ve done something really great.

I think it’s a great idea for a teacher to go through a subject and creating the foundation and then later watch a movie about it – since many people manages to learn things better when they get sound, images and story in one package.

This is my opinion though, I’m sure other people have their own opinions.

If not me, who? You?

HeForShe is a worldwide feminist campaign founded by Harry Potter star, Emma Watson along with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The campaign was launched on the 20th of September 2014 during a special event at the UN Headquarters in New York. The campaign focuses on women inequalities and they are encouraging men to speak out against it.

HeForShe is described as a: “solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity”.

The subject that Ms. Watson has brought up is an important one. Equality is something that many people wish would be the norm, but unfortunately it is not. Ms. Watson decided, at 18, that she was a feminist. For many that word is a negative loaded language, however it is important to understand that the word describes a person who fights for equal rights for men and women.

How can you show your support? You can sign up for the #HeForShe movement on the heforshe.org website. At the time of writing over 130 000 people have already done so!

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Many celebrities have already publicly showed their support, check out some of the tweets for some of them:

 

 

 

If you haven’t already seen the speech, you should check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE

 

 

Coalition Government

Today’s article is an article about how coalition governments work and how the current situation looks like in the UK.

First of all, what is a coalition government? Normally in politics you have one party in power, but sometimes during the election when no two parties manages to get the majority of votes a coalition government is formed. This is when two (or more) parties of different policies and political ideologies come together to form a coalition, collaboration between the parties.

In many countries coalition governments is the norm, like in Belgium where there can be up to six parties in one coalition, yes – at the same time! In Denmark all governments since 1982 have been coalitions. In the UK however, it’s rather rare to have coalition governments. The current one is, but that’s the first coalition government since the Churchill war ministry (1940 – 1945).

Coalition governments are quite common in countries in which a parliament is elected through the election system called proportionally representative (where each vote has approximately the same strength as everyone else’s vote), and where there are more than two political parties.

Today’s UK government is a coalition between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, and it’s called the Cameron ministry. The Blair ministry was dissolved on the 12th of April 2010, only a few weeks before the general election on the 6th of May. A hung parliament was the outcome of the election, no party having the majority of members in the House of Commons.

Fun fact: the Cameron ministry is the 90th cabinet of the UK.

On the 11th of May, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats came to an agreement and formed a coalition government. The House of Commons has 650 seats, where the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have 359 (303 and 56 accordingly). The biggest opposition party is the Labor Party, which has 257 seats in the House of Commons. The rest of the seats goes to smaller parties like the Scottish National Party which has a mere 6 seats, not anything close to real power.

Will the UK have a coalition government after the next election? I’m sure we’ll find out sooner rather than later, the next election is scheduled to take place on the 7th of May 2015.

Tower of London Remembers

In this article I’m going to write about the Tower of London Remembers. The Tower of London Remembers is a movement that focuses on remembering the First World War, since 2014 is the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the war.

The WW1 was triggered by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife, him being the Austrian archduke. Mr. Ferdinand and his wife was shot Gavrilo Princip a Bosnian revolutionary on June 28th 1914. This event was the trigger and not the underlying cause of the WW1.

There are a few underlying causes of the WW1, the most important were maybe the alliances that had emerged over the past 40/50 years.

“By 1914, (…) alliances resulted in the six major powers of Europe coalescing into two broad groups: Britain, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente, while Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy comprised the Triple Alliance.”

Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/first-world-war/59782/how-did-the-first-world-war-start#ixzz3CKxlBUq0

Three other causes that came up during my digging were the following:
Nationalism – The loyalty to ones country.
Imperialism – Countries were arguing over territories and colonies.
Militarism – Britain had the most powerful navy at the time, and Germany was trying to expand theirs. By doing this they made and established strong navies in preparation of a war.

It’s important to remember that the assassination was only the trigger and the World War 1 would most likely have broken out at a later date despite of the assassination.

Germany formally surrendered on November 11th, 1918 – although the war officially ended 7 months later when the parties involved signed the Treaty of Versailles. It was signed on June 28th, 1919.

The Tower of London Remembers is a movement created in order to remember and honor the victims and soldiers and everyone involved of the WW1, especially people from the UK.

First of all you should listen to children from Grey Coat Hospital School expressing why we should remember the First World War.

 

Then, what’s the Tower of London Remembers exactly? As mentioned it’s a “movement created in order to remember and honor the victims and soldiers and everyone involved of the WW1″, what’s special is what one is doing in order to remember. What people are doing is buying what they call “poppies” which is small red ceramic flowers and laying them in front of the Tower of London.

The Tower had a unique role during the First World War. It was used as both a mobilization and recruitment site for troops. Tower of London was also used as an execution place for spies.

It’s important to remember the First World War, it was the first global war and over 40% of the people on earth lived in countries directly involved in the war. Basically every living creature on earth was affected by the war in one-way or another.
It’s now 100 years since the WW1 started and most people doesn’t think about it too much, I would argue they shouldn’t – it is however important to think about it once in a while and remember the victims and reflect over our world as a whole.

I think what they’re doing at the Tower of London is a great way to remember everyone involved in the First World War. Take a look at some of the pictures below:

Tower_of_London_viewed_from_the_River_Thames

The Tower of London on a regular day.
(Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Tower_of_London_viewed_from_the_River_Thames.jpg (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)) 

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People helping setting up the ceramic flowers.
(Source: http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/04/11/97/4119729_1bb0169b.jpg (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)) 

4119368_23da7b66

How it looks today, how great looking isn’t that?
(Source: http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/04/11/93/4119368_23da7b66.jpg (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)) 

Here’s what some people are saying on Twitter:

 

 

You can join the discussion about this both in the comments and on Twitter with the hashtag #towerpoppies.

 

Other Sources:

https://poppies.hrp.org.uk/faq (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/first-world-war/59782/how-did-the-first-world-war-start (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17KkyZwwDPA (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/VisitUs/Topthingstoseeanddo/Poppies/Whyremember (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/firstworldwar (Last retrieved: Wednesday, September 3, 2014)

Scotland’s referendum

Scotland is currently a part of the United Kingdom, but that may change soon as Scotland is preparing for a referendum in which they will perform a referendum on whether or not Scotland should become an independent country. The United Kingdom came to be in 1707 after Scotland and England entered a voluntary union wanted by both parties. Now, after more than 300 years in this alliance we may face a reality where Scotland is no longer a part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish National Party is the party, which fights for Scotland’s independence. Their slogan is “Together we can make Scotland better.” – the question they’re debating in Scotland is “are they really making Scotland better?” Two key issues

  • Oil
    • The North Sea is full of oil, and that a lot of that oil is on Scottish ground. It’s been estimated that more than £1 trillion worth of oil is left on Scottish ground in the North Sea.
      There’s no wonder that there’re people who wants Scotland to be an independent country due to the financial gain keeping the oil within Scottish borders.
  • The Sterling Pound
    • The Scottish government wants to keep the Pound as a legal tender in Scotland. The three main parties in the UK doesn’t think it’s a good idea, despite the fact that the Scottish government means it is in the best interest for both countries.

If the Pound continues to be a viable mode of payment in Scotland after the possible independence that would mean that Scotland probably will have less control over the economy than they have today – in my eyes; that is not in the best interest for Scotland.   The real question is: “does the Scottish people want independence?”. The answer is currently no. The majority of people are currently leaning towards the continuation of the alliance with England.

Screenshot 2014-08-21 15.20.34

Screenshot: http://whatscotlandthinks.org/topics/referendum-voting-intention   We will find out for sure on September 18th of this year. What are your thoughts on the independence-question? Leave your answers in the comment section below.   Sources:

http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/10-facts-about-scotlands-oil-and-independence/ (Last retrieved: Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26550736 (Last retrieved: Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

http://www.snp.org (Last retrieved: Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-importance-of-scotland-to-the-uk-david-camerons-speech (Last retrieved: Wednesday, August 20, 2014)

Update:

Today, Thursday, August 28, 2014, we had a Google Hangout with Ewan McIntosh. We asked him a few questions, and he raised some as well.
One important question was regarding how the Scottish felt about the independence question, which was interesting because he said that many of the people in Scotland who are on the “no” side are there because of uncertainty. They’re not sure what will happen if Scotland becomes independent, which is why they want things to be as they are.

Another point Ewan made is regarding the current foreign policies and how they will change if Scotland becomes independent. Today these questions are managed by the United Kingdom, where Scotland is represented, however they don’t have full control as the control is shared between the countries in the UK.
Digging more into foreign affairs another question that arrises is whether or not Scotland has to apply for membership in the European Union. Since the UK is a part of the union one would think that they still will be a part of the union if they become independent. Legal advice for the UK Government doesn’t think it’s that easy and they think that Scotland has to apply for a membership, contrary to what the legal advice for Scotland has said.

Thanks to Ewan McIntosh for taking the time to talk to us!

You can see the Hangout here:

Added source for the update: http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/foreign-affairs.12345