Anglo Blog Post Three, 2017: March 12-March 22

Korea Carries Out Missile Test

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The Communist dynasty
After performing five nuclear and several missile launched, North Korea was denounced by western countries with demands that it abandon its nuclear program. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on a tour of Asian allies, said US policy to curb North Korean nuclear ambitions has been a failure and a new, more aggressive approach, is called for. If the North Koreans achieve the capacity to hit the US or part of it (Hawaii) with nuclear warheads, the United States would react aggressively, and Tillerson did not rule out armed conflict.

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The Great Leader

North Korea is probably the world’s most closed country, ruled over by the volatile Kim Jong-un, who succeeded his father Kim Jong-il, who in turn succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea. Due to this isolation, little is known about this country except that it has suffered through periodic famines that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the early 2000s and that access to social media is strictly prohibited. This in contrast to its prosperous southern brothers in South Korea, considered one of the world’s economic success stories and recently dubbed one of the Asian tigers, with Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Showing its military might

Kim Jong-un is considered to have a volatile nature and has recently purged and executed many of his political rivals including his uncle and half-brother. He clearly sees the acquisition of nuclear weapons as vital to his regime’s survival. With an equally volatile counterpart in the White House, things are likely to get dangerous before too long.

 
King of Rock and Roll Dies

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Chuck Berry, the king of rock and roll, doing the ‘duck walk’

Perhaps the single most important individual for the development of modern rock’ n’roll, Chuck Berry, died in his home town of St. Louis, Missouri. He was 90. Tributes have been pouring in from contemporary musical giants who bestow on Berry a slew of accolades attesting to his importance. John Lennon once famously said, “if you had to try and give rock’ n’roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.”

Using an electric guitar, still a novice for many, with deftness and ceremony, Berry appealed to a younger generation born just after the war that was growing up in the stifling 1950s with songs that talked about possibilities, getting on the road, defying the rules set out by their parents’ generation. In Britain, young musicians, such as Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, immediately revered Chuck Berry and other black musicians, and were unaware of the racial animus in the US that would make such reverence awkward or impossible.

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Clockwise with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen

Angela and Donald: A Match Not Made in Heaven

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Is this guy crazy? Angela merkel and Donald Trump try to be nice to each other

Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington last week was marred by a petulant performance on the part of US president Donald Trump who among other questionable assertions, said Germany owed millions to the US for its protection under the NATO military alliance. Merkel has been chancellor of Germany for 11 years, and almost all her views on how the world should be run clash with Trump’s America First outlook. She believes wholeheartedly in the European Union project and free trade, whereas Trump cheered Brexit and has shown great hostility to multi-lateral trade agreements, promising to renegotiate deals like NAFTA which he says served to harm US interests.

This week has also pitted Trump against the US’s strongest ally in the world after saying that the GCHQ, the United Kingdom’s spy agency, had bugged his Trump Tower offices without presenting any evidence. The British flatly denied it and still Trump refused to back down from his absurd claims that the Obama administration was spying on him. The US, already seen with great suspicion by a good deal of the world, cannot afford to alienate its two closest allies, Germany and Britain. Someone should tell Trump that.

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Anglo Blog Post 2, March 5 to March 12

Wife of Canadian Prime Minister Critiqued for International Women’s Day Post

Sophie Trudeau came under heavy criticism from certain sectors of the “feminist” establishment after she encouraged women to be thankful for the male “allies” in their lives, who alongside them fight for gender equality and equal rights. Posting a picture holding hands with her husband, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, she used celebration of march 8 International Women’s Day as a forum to urge unity with men sympathetic to the cause of advancing women in society.

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Those critical of the porting, among them a Canadian female MP, said that International Women’s Day was “about women, not men,” She perceived the idea of holding hands as meaning that women needed a helping male hand to make it.

This reaction speaks to a rupture between the certain inward-looking characteristics of identity politics and its interaction with ideas of human universalisms. Populations who have traditionally been marginalized often retreat into the negation of the humanity of those who have been oppressing them, understandable enough, of course. But recoiling from celebrating alliances with those who wish to see a more progressive agenda all around, turns off many who would otherwise be sympathetic to their plight and their struggle to attain equality.
Celebrated Artist Moves On

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On March 9, British artist Howard Hodgkin died in London at the age 84. In his own words as a “representational painter and not one of appearances,” his unique style resulted in winning the prestigious Turner Prize among many other awards over the course of a long career. He was considered a great observer of all kinds of human exchanges and cited Matisse and Degas as strongly influential on his abstract style. He described art as a “slow and painful process.
From Negro Spiritual to Sporting Anthem: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

The languid and passionate slave spiritual, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, has been transformed by fans of England’s rugby team into an anthem through which to inspire their team to victory. This is an unlikely journey; from the brutal conditions on southern plantations which spawned the song, to one being sung by 80,000 fans at the iconic Twickenham Stadium, and has triggered an interesting debate about cultural appropriation.

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Some lament the song’s transformation, finding it disrespectful to the historical suffering at the hands of generations of blacks in chattel to service in the building of the US. On the other hand, most people singing it at rugby games likely have no clue of the song’s origin, though one of several explanations for the song’s transformation is that it was used to encourage the first black player to represent England (1988) when he was playing particularly well.

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Who owns culture? Those who produce it, those who consume it? Cultural products move and adapt and morph into sometimes almost entirely different products. But does culture articulated under duress belong alone to those who produce it. Others who’ve not experienced the same degree of suffering can never truly understand and therefore its appropriation is a violation or a disrespect.

ANGLO BLOG POST ONE: MARCH, 2017

The first forty days of the Trump presidency have been marked by characteristic mean-spiritedness, chaos, mismanagement and general confusion. An executive order banning the entry into the US of travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries was nullified by the courts, and promises to unveil a new plan have yet to occur, is just one of many examples of a general cluelessness with how to govern on the part of the new president and his staff.

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The propensity toward mendacity is quite alarming, his spokespeople and even Trump himself inventing things and that are blatantly incorrect, outright false, or simply didn’t occur, like a terrorist attack in Sweden. This disregard for the truth is swatted away by the administration by claims that the mainstream news media, which had of course been wildly biased against him, just printed lies and fake news. Since there is a deep distrust in the country at this elitist, mainstream media, these kinds of accusations resonate with his supporters. Trump’s barring of correspondents of CNN, the Guardian, BBC, The New York Times and others from the latest White House press briefing demonstrates his willingness to take them on. Perhaps this will be his undoing.

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The world is on egg shells to see what this new administration will bring. At times bellicose, at times more conciliatory but always incoherent, Trump’s foreign policy agenda is basically unknown. On the bright side, this presidency has been a boon for comedians.

Obama for President

A letter from French voters, distraught over their choices for the French election this year, has been sent to former US president Barak Obama asking him to run. This is of course impossible, since Obama is not a French citizen, but reflects the dismal reality that could see French elect a proto-fascist in the face of Marie le Pen, whose National Front party advocates policies deeply hostile to immigrants and nationalist in the aggressive way many had hoped to have been abolished with the defeat of Nazism. The left is in disarray and the center-right candidate considered most able to compete with le Pen, Francois Fillon is embroiled in a scandal in which his wife is alleged to have been paid hundreds of thousands of Euros of public money in a non-existent job.

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Fascists looking civilized

Le Pen, whose father Jean Marie le Pen ran for president in 2002 and lost in a landslide, has tried to put a civilized face on her uncivilized values. She appeals to the same nationalist electorate who feel marginalized by globalization and that immigration is altering (negatively) the character of France. The resurgence of ultra-right parties in Europe is one of the many worrying phenomena that seem to be sweeping the globe at the moment.

Suing the state of mistreatment

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The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who went on a rampage in 2011 killing a total of 76 people, was suing the Norwegian state for human rights abuses while in jail. The Norwegian state ruled against him. Norway is always top or near the top of the world’s most attractive countries to live, but even in this, one of the world’s most enlightened societies, monsters can emerge.

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Goalkeeper Bruno to be released from jail

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Former Flamengo goal keeper Bruno Fernandes, who in 2010 was convicted of killing his former girlfriend, has been released after serving six and a half years in jail. A body was never found, though Bruno now admits his error and said “he paid a steep price.” If Bruno had committed the same murder in many other countries, he would either be in prison for many years, or in the US he could have received the death penalty.