America burning

The brutal killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis has led to days of unrest and riots. While most demonstrations are peaceful, some are also out of control and resulting in looting and violent behavior. What is going on in America? What is president Trump doing to deal with the situation? Read up or watch recent news stories to get an update. Look at the following article for a discussion on how this would have been portrayed in the news had it happened somewhere else:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/29/how-western-media-would-cover-minneapolis-if-it-happened-another-country/?fbclid=IwAR010KdADTd_il3yvzPcoDxJKpWKbLdOP5i0PjaLMnTh5WuWCZcWfurZIVc

Langston Hughes was a Black American poet who lived from 1901 to 1967. Read his poem “Let America be America again” from 1936 (in the midst of the Great Depression) and discuss its relevance today.

https://poets.org/poem/let-america-be-america-again

George Floyd 'riots,' 'violence,' 'looting': Words matter, experts say
https://eu.lancastereaglegazette.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/31/george-floyd-riots-violence-looting-words-matter-experts-say/5290908002/

In the news

Bernie Sanders has withdrawn his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, and the Corona virus continues to spread…How did the United States — the richest country in the world — become the worldwide epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with one person dying of COVID-19 every 47 seconds? And how likely is it that Trump will be reelected in November? What implications does it have that Bernie Sanders is out of the presidential race? Can Biden beat Trump? And are female leaders more able to deal with the Corona crisis than their male counterparts?

Study the articles below and be ready to discuss these questions:) And then there’s Obama… maybe the most important supporter Joe Biden has…listen to this:)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2020/04/13/what-do-countries-with-the-best-coronavirus-reponses-have-in-common-women-leaders/?fbclid=IwAR2I7j4yDm7omdvlysnkOhqvOwiJmOOEIsHf7bVEdtABzAfZ2Yy3wjPWCX4#1a077c803dec

And look to New Zealand and PM Jacinda Ardern: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/15/world/jacinda-ardern-pay-cut-coronavirus-intl/index.html

After our group talks today, discuss (in the comment field below) what message Obama is trying to get across here, and how he does it. Point to language features and/or literary devices he uses and explain how they reinforce his message.

In the news week 14 – how the Corona virus affects the ones already worst off…

Here are three articles to read and discuss this week:

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/30/india/india-coronavirus-social-distancing-intl-hnk/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51949125

https://time.com/5800930/how-coronavirus-will-hurt-the-poor/

The first one is from India, the second from South Africa and the third from the USA. After skimming through them, what do they seem to have in common? What do you think the implications of what is happening now will be for the poorest communities in these countries and others?

In the news – Corona

Read/watch these two articles/videos about the strain on the health care system in the UK and the USA due to corona.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/22/uk/boris-johnson-mothers-day-coronavirus-gbr-intl/index.html

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/16/21173766/coronavirus-covid-19-us-cases-health-care-system

How well do you think the two countries are prepared for what is to come in terms of their health care system? Write your comments below:)

In the news – read and discuss

On the topic of homelessless: In A-magasinet this Saturday (28.2.20) there was an article on people living in hotels in the USA because they cannot afford their own place to live… sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, only at first glance… The Norwegian photographer Monica Strømdahl has made a photo documentation of this, see picture below.

Ett av flere bilder i serien «Flophouse America», om de som velger å bo på billige amerikanske hotell på ubestemt tid. Dette bildet er nå utstilt på kunstsenteret Hennie Onstad og publisert i 2019-boken fra Norwegian Journal of Photography. Foto: Monica Strømdahl
Ett av flere bilder i serien «Flophouse America», om de som velger å bo på billige amerikanske hotell på ubestemt tid. Dette bildet er nå utstilt på kunstsenteret Hennie Onstad og publisert i 2019-boken fra Norwegian Journal of Photography. Foto: Monica Strømdahl

https://journalisten.no/dokumentarfoto-foto-henie-onstad/i-2005-sa-monica-stromdahl-etter-et-billig-sted-a-bo-det-startet-et-14-ar-langt-fotoprosjekt/374102

On any given night last year, 568 000 people in the USA were homeless, up 3 % from the year before, after a period of steady decline. About 37% of the homeless live on the streets. in cars, in tents or vacated buidings. The rest got shelter in temporary housing like for example cheap motels and emergency centers (A-Magasinet/Anette Aasheim: De som sjelden sjekker ut, 28.2.20)

  • What do you think are the biggest challenges of being homeless?

From the UK: you have probably heard of the artist Banksy, who uses street art to get his message across? Now there’s another oppositional voice critisizing the British establishment; Stormzy. Check out the article below:

Stormzy at the Mercury prize ceremony – of which he was a judge – London, 19 September 2019.
Stormzy makes cover of Time magazine as ‘next generation leader’ 
The rapper features alongside Greta Thunberg on the magazine’s annual list of young trailblazers
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/10/stormzy-makes-cover-of-time-magazine-as-next-generation-leader-great-thunberg-annual-list
  • Had you heard of this artist & activist before? What are his songs about? He calls himself a “political analyst” – why?
  • One of the issues he addresses is the rise in knife crimes in the UK. In 2018 alone, 76 people were killed in knife crimes in Lodon. You can read more about that in the post from May 14, 2019 below.
  • Another issue is Grenfell Tower – What happened here in 2017?

Another person you need to have heard about is Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez. She is a Democratic Congresswoman from New York, elected to the House of Representatives in 2018. Her story is told in the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House (2019): https://knockdownthehouse.com/

Bilderesultater for alexandria ocasio cortez full speech religious freedom
  • Read this article and discuss the speech she gave on religious freedom and its implications.

Knife Crime in the UK

As Brexit tends to overshadow every other issue in the UK, there are other challenges the Brits face, too. One of them is knife crime, which unfortunately takes place on a daily basis.

This week we will work with the competence aim “current affairs in an English-speaking country”. Read this BBC news article and sum up what you learn about the reasons for the increased knife crime. Then read CNN’s article about the same topic. What reasons does this article give for the increased knife crime? In pairs, share your findings.

Watch this documentary about knife crime. Take notes as you watch and try to find answers to these questions:

-why does knife crime happen?

-who are the victims?

-what are the consequences of knife crime?

and

-what can be done to prevent it?

Then read this anonymous letter written by a policeman in London. Identify the reasons he gives for the increased knife crime.

Finally, read British actor Lennie James’ open letter to the knife carriers, which was first published in the Guardian on June 8, 2008.

What literary and/or linguistic features does James use to enhance the message of his letter?

This is your last assignment before the written exam, and you should write a blog post where you sum up your findings about knife crime in the UK. Deadline: Friday, May 24 at 12:00.

In the news

An important part of this course is to stay updated on the news and know at least some of the things that are going on in English-speaking countries. President Trump hits the headlines every day and all the time, in addition to Brexit in the UK, but there are other things happening too. It may be hard to know where to start looking for the news. However, CNN’s shortcut of morning headlines could be a starting point, as well as the Week’s 10 things you need to know today.

Vote of no confidence

The Brexit drama has produced another episode and makes sure that newspapers all over the world have something to write about!

Yesterday, PM of the UK Theresa May experienced another setback as the agreement she has negotiated with EU leaders on leaving the European Union was voted down by the House of Commons, or parliament. More than a third of conservative MPs rejected the plan. This was a major defeat for May. It remains unclear whether the UK will be able to come up with an agreement on leaving the EU by March 29 or not. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, has tabled a vote of no confidence which means that May (worst case scenario) might have to step down as prime minister. This, however, is very little likely as the Conservatives hold the majority in the House along with DUP. On Wednesday there was a debate in Parliament and after that, a vote. May’s government survived the vote and she says she will continue to work towards a Brexit agreement. To learn more about this, I recommend the BBC.

Discuss: What is a vote of no confidence, what will happen next with Brexit and what is May’s greatest challenge?