Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Originally released in 1985 to raise money for Africa, the song written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson was re-released in 2010 in response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti in the same year. The song, which features over 80 current artists, for example Wyclef Jean who is Haitian-American, Justin Bieber and Jennifer Hudson is an example of the USA coming together to help a cause in need. A variety of performers contribute towards the song, old and new, to appeal to a greater audience, such as Toni Braxton, Celine Dion, BeBe Winans and Tony Bennett. It bridges the gap between old and new, with all these artists collaborating and shows their capacity to work together to benefit somewhere else, in this case, Haiti.
The success of the song reflects the generosity of the American people and shows them in a very positive light in that even though America was struggling through a recession at the time, they still gave to people more in need than themselves. The song was first played at the opening ceremoney of the 2010 Winter Olympics, so shows America's desire for it to be heard and for it to raise money to help.
However the song was criticed for the rap included towards the end and the choice of artists - some said there was not enough diversity in the artists themselves, which shows that the main artists involved were mainstream pop singers, not a lot of Latin, country or rock musicians were involved.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The website I have chosen is that of the controversial Harold Camping, the man who famously predicted that the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus would occur on May 21st 2011. Obviously, as I am writing this blog, that did not happen. As with many end of the world predictions, this gained worldwide notoriety, and probably caused a few to quietly worry about their possible demise.
The reason I have chosen this site is not because of its content, but its message. It shows that the influence and power of religion in America shows no sign of slowing down, and that even hard lined, old fashioned Evangelists, southern Baptists and Presbyterians like Harold Camping can not only have their voice heard, but also appear in national and international news. At a time like this, when America seems to, in some respects, be catching up to the more liberal social norms of Europe, it seems fascinating that someone like Harold Camping can be so famous and well known. Obviously, everyone loves the idea that there may be faint chance of the apocalypse every now and then, but that isn’t what is shocking to me. Some people who followed Camping’s radio show and teachings actually took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to pay for billboards around America to advertise the oncoming rapture, and many packed up their things in order to move nearer to Camping in preparation for the end of the world. To a European, and someone who lives in a country where religion isn’t at the forefront of their daily life, this seems quite preposterous. The idea of some radio host predicting the end of the world seems more like a ratings gimmick than a serious warning, but because he had the backing of the bible and his followers, he persisted. I feel that this is a real indication that although America is moving forward in terms of social politics, the church, with its old fashioned but resolute ideals, continues to dominate many people’s lives, and be a consistent influence on their beliefs.
The site is called "We Are America" and it focuses purely on the stories of immigrants who have been either detained and/or deported from the United States over the years and those of the families they have left behind. I think that it is symbolic to me because of how this perspective of immigration and the impact that it has from this angle is rarely thought of. I admit that I myself had not previously considered what it must be like for a legal- be it either male or female citizen to suddenly have their partner taken away from them, not knowing whether or not they may ever see them again.
I think that this is strongly representative of the age in which America now lives, where immigrants were once treasured as a valued member of the community, but are now treated as vermin to be removed. And these are not special cases of deportation, the men and women being displaced from the country may be hard working, tax-paying citizens, whom themselves may have a family but will be denied access to them.
The video featured on the front page is topical because of the situations under which the husband was detained. Having lived in the country since he was eight years old, Mr. Guzman would have been fogiven for calling Americ his home. However as this example shows, even those who have spent their whole lives living in the United States as a good, honest person can suddenly find themselves unwelcome in the only country that they could call home, just because they were not born there.
Monday, May 23, 2011
This defines America for me today. It shows what my dream for the world is, this massive community of people just wanting to help the lives of children, allowing them to grow into what they decide. And I think that America’s part of UNICEF works and achieves the most purely because of their thought process. These people are brought up to believe that they can change the world, become president or become an Olympian so when they decide that UNICEF is the route for their lives, they believe that they can do absolutely everything; demolish world poverty, malnutrition, wars, child slavery, the list is long! But American’s don’t have any doubt in their systems that say it cannot be achieved.
UNICEF-USA work towards 7 main outcomes;
2. Emergency Relief
3. Health & Immunization
7. Water & Sanitation
Working in over 150 countries, they provide a ridiculous amount of help and support to save communities that are just dissolving quicker and quicker into poverty. UNICEF-USA’s main campaign is to reduce the number of child deaths around the world to 0 (at the moment being 22,000 per day). And although every UNICEF around the world has this mission on their mind, “Achieving Zero” is specific for the USA.
This is one of the videos created by UNICEF-USA and it really just shows how optimistic they are and inspirational. Americans are born with the thought that they can change the world and they can do anything they want to in their lives. And they want to pass this on to everyone. And this is why I love America, and why UNICEF defines America for me.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The website I found that depicts America and China's relationship is named 'Brand America':
It essentially advertises how 'Brand America', which is an American corporation invests in Asia, mainly China, to help Asia fulfill its full business potential.
the website talks of 'Brand America' also being able to help other companies that want to invest in America do so because they pride themselves in being able to overcome the fundamental linguistic and cultural gap that there is between the West and the East.
'With its varied languages, cultures and laws, Asia can be a difficult and often times intimidating place for foreigners to do business. However, with GDP growth percentages exceeding twice that of the U.S, significantly lower labor costs and a narrowing technological gap, interest in the Asian markets continues to grow.
BrandAmerica's management team has the experience and personal contacts necessary to successfully expand American brands and companies into the Asian markets.'
Services on how to measure the Asian market, aiding companies' potential desicions regarding when to invest in the Asian market is made avaialble, as well a portfolio of 'Brand America's' success as well as companies that they have helped out.
The website does give the implicit impression however, that America is only interested in Asia strictly for the business and financial benefits that she has to offer. it talks about Asia as simply a financial project and enterprises, ignoring or failing to at least mention the qualitites and attributes that Asia has as a whole continent (and China as a country) besides the business acumen; cultural features are disregarded in this instance.
I found this ironic, and to an extent humerous after Monday's lecture where one of the concerned readings by Gideon Rachman (January/February 2011) commented that much of the USA's expenditure including the war in Afghanistan 'is effectively bein paid for with a Chinese credit card conveying complete, shrouded role reversal to what this websites proposes and publicizes.
'Brand America' seems to personify America as a country that like Francis Fukuyama (October 2008) relates to her as essentially a 'brand'. They advertise themselves positively in order to convey a certain, specific image of themselves and ultimately of the American Dream. This website is just another example of that.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that China's global popularity and how it is seen, is directly as a result of the way in which it treats its people. There have been numerous stories of free speech being taken away from the Chinese people, and the Chinese government's tight grip on media outlets and the Internet. In England and across Europe, it is not uncommon to hear of stories where Chinese people that have protested their lack of personal freedom and have been given jail time or subjected to questioning by Chinese police. Chinese Google has often been criticised for its censorship of things that the Chinese government either disagree on or don't want Chinese people to see, and there was a very loud and public backlash against attempts by officials to censor the Internet in China. Google asserts that the Chinese government hacked in to gmail accounts of some political opponents in order to find out information about them. This blatant act of invading one's privacy seems very old fashioned not only to me, but also to many Americans, whom I imagine wouldn't have expected that from any modern super power.
While America seems concerned with Chinese human rights, the Chinese seem more interested in discussing the American economy and recession, perhaps showing that they really are the ruthless economic power that is so often reported by western media.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The article from the website I chose for this post interested me because of how direct it was.
Declaring that the relationship between the U.S. and China will "Shape the 21st Century" seemed a very controversial statement to make. Reading further, the author specifically talks about a summit held in Washington that focused talks around the two countries, namely the "Third U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue". The event, held on the 9th of May 2011 featured talks by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Chinese State Counselor Dai Bingguo.
Vice President Joe Biden speculated that as the two largest economies in the world, their relationship that focused on cooperation on such topics as climate change, security and trade would help shape the 21st century.
The website states that the talks began in 2009 and were intended to "build a relationship between across the entire spectrum" of the governments concerned.
The website quotes Biden saying “How we cooperate will define in significant part how we deal with the challenges the world faces in the beginning of the 21st century”.
He also recognised that the common issues associated with being the world's biggest energy consumers would make a "great opportunity for common efforts to find clean-energy solutions."
It is also mentioned that the Vice President acknowledged the fact that despite their differences of opinion on matters such as human rights, both sides need to attempt to work together to find where their "mutual interests converge".
The subject of human rights has poignantly been the boundary line preventing the two countries from reaching a much desired closer relationship. As Hilary Clinton this will not be easily achieved: "We know over the long arch of history that societies that work toward respecting human rights are going to be more prosperous, stable and successful."
As to reafirm the fact that both countries may still have uneasy feelings towards one another, the secretary of state insisted that the outcome of partnership would be far more prosperous to both countries in the long run: “Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States. Some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth. We reject both those views. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict,” she continued to state that: “A thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America. But to work together, we need to be able to understand each other’s intentions and interests. And we must demystify long-term plans and aspirations.”.
I felt that this article gave a very definitive and modern look at how the U.S. and China's relationship currently stands. Whilst it is an article, it is very formal and directly informative, the quotes it uses help give a more detailed insight into the talks that have taken place and featured key detail that emphasised on the importance of the address.
Monday, May 16, 2011
For this post regarding the U.S’s relationship with China, I’m going to focus on the Republic of China (Taiwan) rather than the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I am fiercely passionate for Taiwan to become a member in the United Nations, as are the States. The only barrier being China’s power to veto every application and plan that Taiwan has made to become part of the world power group since 1990.
Regarding the United Nations, Taiwan is one of the 3 countries not included. The other two being the Vatican City (yet they do not want to be a part of it) and Kosovo, who recently began independent are working towards being a member. The issue with Taiwan comes from PRC, who do not want to let the island become independent. Many people have concluded reasons as to why China is so adamant to not allow Taiwan into a organization that boasts itself into sorting out the world’s issues which will only move forward if ever country is actually involved. Most of the reasons are to do with power. PRC has this reputation of not necessarily following mainstream ideas, and some of their beliefs are outdated, and so they believe that allowing Taiwan to become independent, they will lose some part of their power to rule. Which of course, is totally incorrect and I actually believe that more countries will respect PRC a lot more than they do right now if they allowed Taiwan to become independent.
The webpage that I’m using and referencing towards is from IBOPE Zogby International. It’s a global public opinion polling and market research firm that offers accurate results for various issues and situations. For the one I’m using, they conducted a poll with American adults and their opinions on what America should do regarding America’s involvement in the Taiwan/UN situation.
Carried out in 2007, the survey found a variety of statistics…
« 61% believed that the US government should support Taiwan’s petition to gain UN membership.
« 55% believed that the UN should offer Taiwan membership.
« 70% believed that the US should not oppose Taiwan’s petition to join the UN
« 52% believed the US should oppose China’s decision to veto every petition made by the island.
« 72% believed that when it comes to the UN membership, all countries should be treated equally and without discrimination.
« 81% believed that the US should respect every country’s right to become a member in the UN.
The American representatives in the UN seem to be echoing what the public would like; support for Taiwan to become an independent state and a member of the United Nations.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The website I have found is his own personal one, and boasts many links, pictures and resources for visitors.
One of the most interesting things about his site this that it boasts a store - something far more fitting on the site of a band or clothing web page. The store enables Osteen's folllowers to donate, to buy his, his wife's and a selection of other's books, music, and even picture frames, seeminlgy encforcing the so-called culture of McChurches. The idea of a McChurch comes from the idea that some mega churches are more interested in meeting consumer demands and entertainment value, something that is rather clear when browsing the approved Christian music section on the site.
Another interesting point of the site is the very modern and easy to navigate pages dealing with everyday issues, and divided in to sections such as Marriage, Relationships and God. The modernity showed on the site perhaps indicates the willingness of the church to cast any notions of a stuffy, old instituion aside, and to also support Christians in the modern age.
Finally, the most incredible point of the site is the sheer size of the church. It is the largest in the US, and its weekly average attendence is 43,500 people, which is a truly insane amount, and a testament (pun intended) to how popular Christianity remains in modern America.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The video shows that even animals bow down to show their respects for the 9/11 attacks, implying that it is only natural to do so, and that even nature was affected by such an occurrence that they did this out of their own accord. it also showed the beer brand's loyalty and patriotism to America. The well-known Statue of Liberty is purposefully placed in the background towards the end of the commercial displaying whom/what the horses are bowing down to. It gives the commercial an almost holy,reverent feel - almost comparing America to 'the promised land', with Christian values ingrained in even the earliest of America's sentiment being emphasized. Here America is good - like a wounded, innocent soldier, (the white snow highlighting the country's supposed purity).
Here again, when remembering the places of the Twin Towers before the incident, the lights are shined in such a way that they are originating from heaven, a higher, awesome origin. America is almost likened to it. Typically quite Hollywood, with choir singers in the background being a backdrop to the ambience the video intends to set of America: a globally revered country.
Whilst searching I found many live videos of the 9/11 occurrence. Whilst there are numerous conspiracy theories in existence, it seems that many of the tributes were tidied up to portray the USA in a certain light: The wounded, cardinal realm that "the whole world stood still" for.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I found it quite difficult to single out a specific video that remembers 9/11 because I was looking for something that not only showed footage of the World Trade Centers, but also on how the disaster was remembered following the aftermath of that day. Approaching this topic, viewing some of the images captured on that day felt very overpowering due to the sheer level of detail included in some of the videos. However, I felt that this one was appropriate because to me it represents a "story" so to speak, of overcoming adversity through togetherness.
To explain this, the beginning of the video starts with images of the World Trade Center intact and overlooking the New York skyline in a very indomitable way to the point where it almost feels eerie, which also establishes a form of innocence. Next we are met by pictures and footage of the buildings after they have been struck by the planes, followed by shots of people expressing their awe and terror at what has unfolded in front of them. The footage that comes afterwards adds a very sobering weight to the video as commentators report that people were "Jumping out of the World Trade Center, they don't know what to do."
The video then shows the buildings collapsing, along with images of people covered in rubble and dust, to the point where they are barely identifiable. In one image we see a man unconcious being carried to safety by ambulance and firefighting crews as well as a regular citizen helping them. I think that this is one of the images that identifies America as a selfless country where everyone pitches in to help each other, and not where the attitude is for people to only look out for themselves. Seeing businessmen in suits, as one man is shown covered in dust, triggers a reminder of just how "normal" that day was before the atrocities occurred, and how much this situation could be related to any other densely populated city in any established country should the target have been chosen elsewhere.
The hoisting of the American flag is, for me the symbol of courage and unyielding resiliance in the face of devastation, it also marks the beginning of the chapter of mourning and recovery in the next stage of the video. Pictures of relatives revealing their sorrow brings home the true cost of this attack. Photos and gravestones give faces and names to those who perished, bringing a whole new level of reality to this movie-like event.
The picture of a parent and child walking hand in hand through a field of American flags is in my opinion one of the most eeire and symbolic images shown in the video, each flag, I think, representing a casualty of 9/11. It could be said that each flag represents a double meaning that each persons soul is "free" from life, and also that they are recognised not as a number but as an individual representing their country.
One of the final images of a man sat staring into the flames of candles in a dimly lit room is hard to describe. It gives a feel of mourning and hope but also shows that despite the number of casulaties were not huge, the affects on those who have survived claim further victims in the hearts of those who survived. I think that the way this video was presented, along with the audio that accompanied it remembers 9/11 as a day that seemed to last far longer than it actually did, and in a sense is still continuing as the reprocussions are still being felt to this day. The video uses symbolic imagery that could easily be translated into any language. (i.e. you don't have to be American to understand just how terrible the disaster was.)
In this respect it remembers the day as one of great sorrow but also of courage and unity. How people's slefless actions may have contributed to save others and how America has become a stronger nation by stabding up and saying"we will overcome".
Monday, May 9, 2011
I have had to split this blog task into two sections, with two different videos. I had written the first section about two weeks ago, but since then, major events have occurred which means I need to change the information. But as we were talking in class about how 9/11 had effected the country, the United States, us as individuals, and the world as one, I believe that what I wrote before Bin Laden had been killed showed a lot of the terror that many people still felt.
So the first video was more surrounding Bin Laden and as a alive character, and the way he commemorates the 9/11 attacks.
The thing that most intrigues me about the 9/11 attacks is the people behind it rather than the act itself. And I generally research Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban a lot in my spare time, so I wanted to pick a video that commemorates the day in a way of defining the members behind the whole thing. When you think of a commemorative video, it’ll be honouring the country and the people who died because of it, but it’s useful to understand what they died for.
I was researching videos with Osama bin Laden, but I never realised how difficult it was. There were so many fake videos and as Bin Laden speaks in Arabic it was hard to tell whether the person who put up the video was telling the truth with the translation. But the one I picked was from Aljazeera, the hugely popular organisation.
What Bin Laden said…
“The events of September 11 are but a reaction to the continuous injustice and oppression being practised against our sons in Palestine and Iraq and in Somalia and Southern Sudan and in other places like Kashmir and Assam. This matter concerns the whole Islamic nation (Ummah). It is incumbent on the people to wake up from their sleep and rush to devise a solution to this disastrous problem that threatens mankind entirely today. As for those who condemned these operations looked at the event in isolation and failed to connect them to past events and did not look at the causes that lead to this result. Their attitude is not in accord with and not based on either a religious, legal nor even a rational perspective. They just saw America and the media criticizing these operations so they stood up with them in criticism. Their example is like the story of the wolf that saw a newborn lamb. So it said to this lamb: “You were the one who dirtied my water last year!” The lamb replied: “It was not me.” “It WAS you,” the wolf insisted. So the lamb told him, “Well, I was born this year!” The wolf said, “So it must have been your mother!” and ate the lamb. And what could the poor mother do when she saw her son being torn into pieces between the teeth of the wolf? But in the passion of motherhood, she butted the wolf. Of course the wolf was not affected at all however it shouted out “look at this terrorist!” so these parrots joined in, repeating what the wolf said and saying “yes, we condemn the ewe’s butt against the wolf”. Where have you been when the wolf ate the son of this sheep? So these blessed and successful strikes are in reaction to what happened in our lands – in Palestine, and in Iraq, and in other places.”
Here, Bin Laden is comparing himself and his fellow Al Qaeda’s as the mother sheep in this story. Their child – Palestine, Iraq and other “Muslim” based countries – was attacked and to them, subsequently killed by America – the wolf. So to them, 9/11 is a passion related reaction to protect and give their countries some sort of honour. But I think the big thing that they are missing is that the people who live in these countries didn’t want 9/11 or any other attacks to happen, and especially as Al Qaeda are doing it for them. These attacks have their names on it without their consent. They’re being dragged through the mud because of it.
This video defines 9/11 as a passionate response rather than an out-of-the-blue terrorist attack.
That is what I had first written for this task. But now Bin Laden is dead. So things are different and as my first video is not really a commemoration of the day, my second video is.
The person who uploaded this video – kavinda008 – lives in New York City, so the whole event is very clear and close to them. The song used is “Waving Flag” which became known as the anthem that the Canadian artists used to help raise funds of the Haiti Earthquake. Kavinda008 has obviously changed the words in the song to fit perfectly with the way they feel about the recent news of Bin Laden’s death.
“When I get older, I will remember when I found out the Bin Laden was pronounced dead…We got him once and for all. America stand tall. Osama’s dead … One shot kill Osama dead. So wave your flags high, wave them in the sky…We reunite as one, red blue and white. Osama’s dead, pop a bottle, victory is in sight. 2011 will be the best year…So have no fear, the vision’s clear. You will say, world leaders cheer. For Bush it took 8 years, for Obama, only 3 and now we got Osama at the bottom of the sea. First stop Afghanistan and then onto Pakistan don’t [mess] with the USA, you can’t hide in the desert sand. God bless America, we always prevail…They woke the sleeping giant…now your life is over. It’s been almost 10 years, since that dreadful day; both twin towers fall leaving us all in dismay. Because of 9/11, may you rest in peace.”
These are some of the lyrics the person had changed to fit with Bin Laden’s death. They mention that the world leaders will cheer, which I pick up on as that all the other nations that have been affected by Al-Qaeda such as the UK, were not as passionate to get Bin Laden as America was and that they may have seen it as their duty to kill him because they’re not afraid. Whereas I believe that many of the smaller countries were and are afraid.
The song also talks about America being the sleeping giant, which was mentioned in the class lecture. But which we discovered was not actually true. They may want to believe that they only retaliate and never begin wars or fights, but it isn’t true. The American public just want to forget anything they started with the world, forget that they may be guilty of forcing their beliefs onto countries that don’t want western modernizations. They can only remember the times when they were hit the hardest, when they’re the victim.
The main issue and disagreement I have with some Americans are that they believe everything is going to just fall into place for them, and everything will go away and the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be done with. But the Taliban have over 50,000 members from all over the world, and Al-Qaeda is still going strong regardless of Bin Laden’s death. They’ve probably planned how to handle the death of Bin Laden before it happened. This is not the end, and for all we know, Bin Laden could of just been the front man, taking the hit of “most hated man in the world” rather than actually being behind the whole ordeal. I’ve read a book all about the Taliban, and it seems that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, is as much of a figure head in the 9/11 attacks as Bin Laden.
But all in all, America seems to be rejoicing in the death of Bin Laden, and rightly so; his group killed 3,000 of their people. And it’s something that you generally don’t get away with. America may have their issues inland but when something as big as a terrorist attack happens on one of the most monumental buildings in New York it won’t be settled until justice is done.