Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Contemporary America.

For the last blog task, I'm not going to lie, I got a bit confused as to what to write about. Contemporary America is quite a broad subject, and I didn't really have a stepping stone to get myself started. I looked at the Tornado that has wiped out towns in Oklahoma.

I found a news article on the CNN website, which can be found here. This disaster is not uncommon in America, but the sheer intensity of the destruction and the death toll is quite terrible. The amount of severe weather in this area, which is attacking several states is hard to believe. You would think that being in America, there would be at least some sort of protocol that would allow damage like this to be contained. But then again, it is mother nature we are talking about, and there is no way to predict what she will do. The earthquake/tsunami that swept through Japan earlier this year was unprecedented and utterly destructive. Yet in a way the Japanese were prepared for an earthquake, with the national earthquake day they have each year to prepare their citizens for such an attack. Is it too hard to at least prepare the American people in this hurricane belt for such events?

I'm not blaming the United States government for not being ready, seeing as a Hurricane is very different to an Earthquake and you cannot really prepare in the same way. It is quite significant to see that the amount of hurricanes and tornados that are pounding the area, and the fact that no one has seen this many disasters happen all at once, or at least close together. The fact that nowadays in the height of citizen journalism, videos and pictures are broadcast, not only on the news, but also blogs or websites such as YouTube. This in a way is showing the situation for these people, and the height of the destruction.

In a way this shows the contemporary America, it shows the the geography of the country, as vast as it is, that in this area particularly, it is still dangerous to live. But then again, it does show that the community is still very strong, with people not only helping each other out, but groups of citizens working together to clear debris, or to help trapped citizens. Contemporary America is still very much a community, which dates back to the settlement of America, where a community would of survived.

Contemporary America

For this week’s blog I chose a website for an organisation called the Democracy Project; their mission is to support pro-democracy by establishing networks worldwide and also organising on a local level. I chose it because it displays patriotism and supports the main ideologies of America (democracy and freedom) whilst also showing concern for the direction America is heading in; I think that this is many Americans attitude towards contemporary America.

It says ‘America today faces unique threats to her continued internal stability and prosperity because of a failure to defend and pass on a civic spirit based on patriotism, education, obligation, and opportunity’; therefore they feel that America will decline because of its loss of many of the ideas it was originally founded on. It says that the treatment of new immigrants reflects this, especially the lack of good assimilation programs; this means that they don’t get enough opportunities in order to make a good life for themselves in America. This issue is particularly important to contemporary America because of the growing (legal and illegal) immigration rates, especially for Hispanics, and the question of America’s identity. They say, ‘by short changing these groups upon whom the future of our nation rests, we dilute our identity as a people bound not by race or ethnicity but by a common love of liberty. We risk our future as a nation of free men and women who, within a pluralistic society, exercise our individual pursuits within the parameters of a common culture and state’.

The website also describes the negative way people now view contemporary America: ‘In place of the image of America as a beacon of freedom and hope, radical nationalists and Islamists have portrayed America as an imperial power bent on selfish domination of the world’s peoples and resources’. It suggests that this is affecting America’s image abroad and causing self-doubt at home. As well as this, it causes other nations to accept dictatorship rather than choosing democracy. In some ways, this reflects the importance of America’s image and influence worldwide. Indeed, the organisation itself shows the concept of American exceptionalism; it wants to strengthen democracy worldwide. It says, ‘liberty is best attained and preserved when government respects the right of citizens to live under the rule of law, elect their leaders, speak their minds, worship as they please, and own private property, we support efforts to strengthen and establish market-based democracies around the globe’; this shows that they want the world to live under American ideologies.

Relationship between America and China

When searching the internet for this week’s blog I found it hard to find a complete website dedicated to China and America’s relationship. Instead I am going to look at an article which is from January of this year:

The article takes the stance of China not being able to become as powerful as America; it says ‘China isn't remotely powerful, influential, or rich enough to play the leading role of America’ thus it won’t be able to take over as the world’s superpower. It also suggests that, despite China wanting greater power and influence, they aren’t keen on becoming a leader; this is reinforced by the fact that they don’t contribute enough to solving world issues whereas America does. China also has too many big issues to deal with overtaking America in terms of power: ‘China has 700 million very poor people. By 2050, it will have 400 million very old people. It will "get old before it gets rich"... The country is shot through with corruption, bogus accounting practices that make subprime-mortgage bundles look like gold bullion, and a political elite that remains terrified of democracy. A confident government doesn't banish its Nobel Peace Prize winners..China is still governed by a fundamentally evil system’. Therefore, although China is an economic challenger, it ultimately won’t be a serious threat to America any time soon.

While it portrays America as still being the main leader of the world: ‘American leadership is still the global norm’. However it suggests that despite this, it also describes that it doesn’t always act unilaterally therefore it’s not hegemonic. The article also suggests America hasn’t been completely a superpower; it says, ‘during this Pax Americana, a nasty war broke out in Europe, genocide materialized in Africa, and the United States was harassed and wounded by stateless Islamic terrorism. We also fought a war in Iraq that ended in a bloody armistice, requiring constant policing for more than a decade. Now we're in another expensive war. Meanwhile, our trade deficit only gets worse’. However, aside from these issues it says that America isn’t ‘nearly so weak, ignorable, or poor' to warrant its decline. As for China’s rise in power and influence, it implies that it would not have been possible if it weren’t for America: ‘China's rise doesn't reflect some grand failure of American foreign policy but its success. Drawing China into the global economic and political system has been a bipartisan foreign-policy goal for generations’. Overall this article connotes that America is over-reacting to China’s rise and that America isn’t in decline but in roughly the same place as it has always been – America has never been completely superior and without problems.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Contemporary America
For the final blog task of the year I have chosen to look at illegal immigration. I feel that this website represents contemporary America strongly as recently (in the last 20 or so years) as there has been a lot of focus on illegal and legal immigrants and how they are changing society. provides live numbers of illegal immigration in the United States. The website uses the latest government and private sources, analysis and data.
This website only provides counts for illegal immigrants and the numbers seem to go up very quickly. There are many different counts such as the numbers of people and the cost of these illegal immigrants. One section is labeled "Other than Mexican Illegals in Country". This suggests that most of the illegal aliens are of a Hispanic background. In my opinion, it is immigration at the moment that is shaping a new identity for America. There is a count on the amount of illegal children in public schools which has lead to debates such as the national language and whether it should be changed to Spanish.
One section that I found most interesting was "Anchor Babies since 2002". I has to research this further as I had never heard of the term. An "Anchor Baby" is a term for a child born in the United States to immigrant parents. Being born in the United States gives them instantaneous citizenship and then can later facilitate their relatives. There has been many controversies over this matter however despite restrictions in the law, courts have sometimes been reluctant to deport parents of a U.S-born child.
One element that we don't usually think about is the economic factors of all these illegal immigrants especially in the workforce. American employers now can pay illegal immigrants less than minimum wage because as the counter suggests there is always going to be someone else to take their place if complain or get fired. Over the years there has been a lot of Press regarding the standard of living these immigrants and it begs the question as to why these immigrants are getting paid pittance yet they still want to immigrate to America. This counter has shown some hard problems that politicians must solve soon.
I also found it very interesting that at the top of the website it makes a comment that gives the immpression that they are not totally against immigration but as long as it is done legally and it will not affect the country.
" supports legal immigration and respect for all humanity yet higlights the significant impact of illegal immigration."

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The relationship between America and China...
For this weeks blog task I have chosen to look at the following article which discusses the significance of the relationship between China and America.
China is one of the oldest civilizations with the biggest population in the world. The United States is one of the youngest populations with the largest economy. The relationship between these to peoples is significant for the future and the whole world.
My chosen article weighs up the differences and the similarities between the two countries. The article says that the White House needs assistance from China to handle North Korea and other issues. Also the article suggest that America needs China to help fight terrorism.
Diplomatically, the mutual foreign policies is the reason for many misunderstandings and difficulties between the two nations. One reason given as to why they are "friends" is China does not have the culture that America does and therefore it is necessary to deal with political and diplomatic issues. American culture takes the form of hegemonism with a strong religious flavour that is labeled its self-defined freedom democracy and human rights standard. The essence of Chinese culture is family affection and attachment. Any individual behaviour that is damaging to the nation's dignity is not encouraged in Chinese society as they think highly of their reputation.
The article continues to say that the two countries need to handle Sino-US relationship appropriately both sides need to realise the necessity to further understanding and respect for each others cultures, which, is often neglected.

The US and China yah.

This week's blog task was to find a website that is devoted to the relationship between the United States and China. I found a website pretty easily, which contains a whole lot of information about their relationship across the past few decades. The website can be found here.

The website is, which I guess complies articles or information about topics, that you can easily sift through or search for. It contains this article about the relationship between the United States and China, as well as many other articles about the United States' relationship with other countries, for instance at the bottom of the China article, it suggests that I look at other relationships between the United States and the United Kingdom for example. The article is set out in time periods, for instance the Korean War and the Second World War etc.

This article gives an overlook of the relationship of the United States and China, from beginning to the present. It even says "The disintegration of the Soviet Union re-inserted a tension into the relationship as both countries lost a common enemy and the United States became an undisputed global hegemon. Adding to the tension is China's rise as a global economic power and the expansion of its influence to resource rich areas such as Africa, offering an alternative model to the United States, usually termed the Beijing consensus." This paragraph is from the most recent time period, where it does include the fact that the United States has become a global hegemon, and the world has gone into a uni-polarity. It mentions the rise of China's global economy which has the power to overtake the United States. Though it has been argued that China will not become the global hegemon, as it's culture is not easily accessed as well as America's.

At the bottom of the article, as I've stated already, it suggests certain relationships to research, but it also gives links to related articles about China and the United States. Overall this website, was useful but it was very general. Though it does provide extremely good examples, the amount of information to really learn about the relationship it seems, needs to be researched more.

Monday, 16 May 2011

9/11: The day the Death Star fell.

For week 10's blog task of finding a popularly made video to commemorate 9/11, I found a video that commemorate's 9/11 in a different way to most videos. It is humorous, yet does rely on the real world reactions to 9/11 to not only entertain but also to create another way to think about 9/11. This video is a somewhat parody or more of a homage to 9/11, as it is set in a galaxy far far away. Its a video of Stormtroopers discussing the destruction of the Death Star, in the popular film Star Wars. It can be found here.

From the start, it shows three Stormtroopers discussing the incident, saying it was a year tomorrow that the Death Star was destroyed, the video itself was released by Collegehumour on October 15th 2009, so a month after the 8th anniversary of 9/11. One of the troopers says "It was a huge thing I can't believe it took a couple of X-wings to take down." This is an obvious reference to the two planes that were flew into the Twin Towers. It does seem quite unbelievable that two planes did manage to annihilate two of the tallest towers in New York.
It then goes on to ask the question "Where were you when it happened?" Which anyone can answer about 9/11. They all have their own personal stories about where they were when the Twin Towers fell. One trooper describes that he was on his way to the Death Star but was caught in "space traffic". This personal view of the destruction of the Death Star, correlates to some survivors stories, who may have been on their way to the Twin Towers but survived due to being stuck in traffic or just chance.

"You look at that part of the galaxy where the Death Star used to be, and just... nothing, yeah still waiting on that memorial..." This is clearly using real world contexts, of the skyline of New York being drastically changed by the destruction of the Twin Towers, and waiting on the memorial that is going through development hell, and it still looks to be far off from completion. They go on to say that they are thinking about rebuilding a new one, 8 times as big, which is of reference to the Freedom Tower that is in planning to replace the Twin Towers.

The video does go onto to comment about the Jedi's who in this case are the fictional representation (at least in this video of Al-Qaeda). One of the troopers says "The Jedi's hate our way of life." He is the rebuked by a reply which states that because someone believes in the force doesn't mean they are going to blow up a space station, which is an obvious comment on the fear that all muslims are terrorists and are willing to destroy areas of American cities.

Towards the end of the video they comment on not being able to find Luke Skywalker "Some guy in a cave on Tatooine." Which shows the frustration on not being able to find Osama bin Laden in Pakistan or Iraq for the past ten years, and not being able to gain this closure from the attacks on 9/11. Finally they discuss the conspiracy theories stating "I've seen the schematics, there is no way one X-wing could have taken it out." Which caters to the view of the hundreds of conspiracy theories that there is about the destruction of the Twin Towers, and that it was an inside job on some sort to justify the invasion of Iraq.

This video is obviously made to entertain, but it does show in its 2 minutes, the very essence of the everyday views of 9/11. It looks and likens it to something millions of people would understand, and grounds it in a fictional universe, where people will be able to look at it and be able to critically compare it what actually happened 10 years ago. All in all, this video is a light heartened way to commemorate 9/11, and showing that people shouldn't forget about it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

9/11 Tribute- When the World Stopped Turning

This video was put on YouTube in 2007. Like many other tributes to the 9/11 tragedy it is a montage of videos, news footage and pictures put to emotive music. The first thing I noticed about the tribute was the choice of music: a song called ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)’. Indeed even the title of the song suggests American exceptionalism; this event didn’t just affect America but the whole world. The song is quite religious in tone and talks of the power of faith, prayer and love. It reflects the American idea of all coming together in a time of need under God: ‘did you go to church and hold hands with some strangers’. This tone is also shown in images such as two metal grinders that make a cross. As well as this it talks of taking strength in family, community and helping each other; all of these factors are central in America’s ideology. The song itself is typically American country in style, this ties in well with the images of flags and landmarks in the video because it emotes a feeling of patriotism and a sense that America is unified under grief.

The repeated images of the disaster actually happening reflects the fact that America was so shocked that something like this would happen to them; this shows American exceptionalism. In particular, the news footage seems the most shocking because of the sense of disbelief. However, as well as these images there are images of the heroes who were there, people together in panic, people helping each other and people together in mourning; these people are diverse in race, ethnicity and gender therefore again this shows a sense of America being united in this grief. The video ends with an image of soldiers and the text ‘America Stands Strong. Never Forget September 11, 2001’; this is suppose to remind people of the war against terrorism and the reasoning behind it while evoking a feeling of pride and hope.