Global issues include all social, environmental, economic, health and security concerns that have far-reaching impact on people and life on earth, are persistent and long-lasting, are trans-national and often interconnected. Yet somehow we are often blind to how all-encompassing this can be. Then it is a good thing that we have dedicated journalists and open-minded editors that allow a variety of stories and perspectives to be published that we ourselves have a hard time realizing the enormity of.
The Guardian published an article today in which they focus on a consequence of climate change that we do not often think about. Read about it here.
Finally we are online blogging again, for the first time this academic year in the subject English 1. You have all created your own blogs, and you have published your first blog entry in which you have said a few words about yourself. Now is the time to write the first subject-related blog post.
Autumn is often election season, and this year is no different. We are one week from the American midterm elections, Denmark and Israel hold general elections today and two days ago Brazil had their second round of presidential elections. Sweden and Italy held elections in September, to mention but a few. Additionally, the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held about two weeks ago, which saw the norm-breaking third term appointment of their president along with appointments and elections of people into various political positions.
On Friday the current president in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, said in an interview: “There is not the slightest doubt. Whoever gets the most votes wins. That is what democracy is all about”. Is it really, and does everyone agree on this?
Could you explain what a democracy is in your blog post, and discuss whether it is important to maintain such a type of government or if it is time to move on to something different. You could compare it to other types of government, or you could use specific examples of countries that are democracies when discussing what constitutes a democracy. Could you also discuss potential dangers to a democracy? Some examples could be decreasing voter turnout, voter suppression, refusal of a politician or political player to go by the rules of democracy, erosion of trust in politics, politicians and media, polarization in society and even indifference. Whichever one (or more) that you choose to include, I would encourage you to find sources to be specific and keep the text up-to-date and informative. Such sources would also help our classroom discussions on this topic as well. Try to avoid revealing your own point of view, although is it really possible to discuss how to govern a country objectively? You are welcome to write this as formally or informally as you want. Good luck!
Durig the last few weeks the war in Ukraine has been all over the news – rightfully so… but what is getting lost when so much focus is on this conflict? Here a couple of items I don’t think we should miss out on:
One of very few women ever to lead a national football organization, Norwegian Lise Klaveness spoke to the FIFA Congress in Quatar last week about human rights violations. She talked about the importance of helping migrant workers in Qatar, do more to protect LGBTQ+ supporters at the World Cup, and more in general to make the global game welcoming to all. According to The Guardian, 6500 migrant workers have died in Quatar since they were awarded the World Cup in 2010. In the past 10 years, Qatar has put in place a massive building program, preparing for the football tournament in 2022. In addition to seven new stadiums, dozens of major projects have been completed or are under way, including a new airport, roads, public transport systems, hotels as well as a new city, which will host the coming World Cup final.
See the full speech below:
Another important news item regarding human rights violations came, not unexpectedly, from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. “Following a U-turn over re-opening girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the UN human rights chief shared her “profound frustration and disappointment” that six months after the Taliban seized power, high school girls have yet to return to the classroom.” Read the UN report here:
“Millions of secondary-school girls around Afghanistan woke up hopeful today that they will be able to go back to school and resume their learning. It did not take long for their hopes to be shattered.” statement by @unicefchief
After having watched the two videos above, write a blog post where you summarize the content briefly. Then explore one of these issues – the most urgent and/or interesting one to you – and explain why you think so.
According to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Just last week, there was another school shooting, when 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and killed four schoolmates and wounded seven others at Oxford High School in Michigan. His parents have now been arrested, charged with involuntary manslaughter because they allegedly let their son have unrestricted access to the gun he’s accused of using.
In the Rittenhouse Case, 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was aquitted on charges of killing two people at a demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year (he was 17 at the time). He claimed he acted in self-defense and the jury supported him in this. His trial is dividing the nation over questions about gun rights, violence at racial justice protests and vigilantism.
Study and discuss these two cases and look at gun laws and gun violence in the USA in your groups.
September 2021 has been a month of many elections around the world, amongst them general elections in Canada, Germany, Iceland, Russia and Norway. Write a blog post to publish on your own blog in which you cover who won in these elections and by how much, as well as comparing voter turn-out. In addition, research whether there has been media coverage on election irregularities in any of these elections.
Consider and discuss your sources in all aspects of this task.
In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 September the International Day of Democracy, providing us with “an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world” and arguing that “democracy is as much a process as a goal” (UN). In many countries we can see a deterioration of conditions for democracies, through various forces both internal and external. This has become more noticeable during the ongoing pandemic, but it started long before, which is also indicated by instituting such a day 14 years ago.
Study some of the maps on the Secretary General’s policy brief from April 2020 – in particular the two on school closures and stringency of government containment measures. Also read the concerns and suggested countermeasures on the UN Democracy Day’s website and prepare for a discussion of what threatens a democracy and how we can strengthen it.
Also read the New York Times Learning Network’s editors Schulten and Engle’s introduction to the late Congressman John Lewis’ essay “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation”. Check out thoughts and responses on the hashtag #DemocracyDay and reflect on Schulten and Engle’s questions posed after Lewis’ essay, as published on the New York Times Learning Network exactly a year ago.
The late civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis argued that “[d]emocracy is not a state. It is an act”. Compare this with UN’s claim that democracy is both a process and a goal. What is democracy to you?
The Taliban is in power again in Afghanistan, 20 years after 9-11 and the following invasion of Afghanistan. The USA have decided to pull out all their remaining troops by August this year, leading to total chaos and heart-breaking scenes at the airport in Kabul, with local Afghans trying to board planes to get out of a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. US President Joe Biden has stated that the withdrawal will be completed and that the main concern for him is getting American troops home safely.
So what is the problem? Should we care about the development in Afghanistan? Is it an international responsibility to “clean up” after the mess we have left and to ensure a democratic development in Afghanistan? Or should we just leave them alone and hope that human rights will be respected and democracy thrive? (not very likely….)
Using the sources below, discuss these questions in your groups. Choose a secretary who writes down the main points of your answers and discussion. Also, discuss the reliability of these sources and how they differ in language and style.
Western Sahara is often called Africa’s last colony and also a forgotten conflict. On March 3, you were so lucky to have a visitor via Zoom – Asria Mohamed. She works for The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, and talked about the Morroccan occupation, life in Algerian refugee camps, and the part of the UN in this conflict.
Write a blog post about what you learned about this conflict and activism to support the Sahrawi people in their struggle for independence. Comment on the lack of media attention for this conflict and find out why the media wrote about in again in November/December 2020.
Asria said in the meeting that she feels she has no choice when it comes to her activism for the Sahrawi people – what do you think she meant by that?
Hope you enjoyed the visit – Asria is an excellent speaker and a brilliant woman.