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Archive for the ‘Crossing the pond’ Category

Poking Fun at Power

In by Kit, Crossing the pond, International, Zeitgeist on October 31, 2010 at 18:06

y last post was about an unspoken voice standing up for itself- the ‘Protest the Pope’ march held last month against Pope Benedict’s “state” visit to the UK. I’m overjoyed that I get to comment on a similar event (although more ironic than emotional) again in the aftermath of the ‘Rally to restore sanity and/or fear’ which happened yesterday afternoon in Washington DC.

The rally, organised by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert (and with a lot of help from Comedy Central and some prime time celebs) was a response to a similar but all the more serious rally organised by Fox News anchor Glenn Beck last month called ‘Restoring Honour’. Similar to the Pope protest Colbert and Stewart’s march was a reaction to an often unquestioned unaccountable force, this time it was the force of the mainstream media in America.

The rally was clearly organised to coincide with the US midterm election on Tuesday. However it was timed to raise awareness of media tactics and the fake narratives used to cause fear rather than persuade an electorate. Stewart and Colbert were asking for sanity in the current climate of hysteria driven network news. The satirists accuse Beck and the team at Fox News of fuelling right-wing irrationality and capitalising on the emergence of the tea-party to further their own ideological ends.

Yesterday was definitely a victory for irony and the power of satire to undermine those in power. It’s questionable how much of an impact the rally can have as many attendees were clear converts but like the march against the pope a movement needs a beginning and I’m sure that yesterday was an inspiring event for those lucky enough to be there.

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Inequality and Economics: Peaks and Troughs

In by Sam, Crossing the pond, International on October 9, 2010 at 17:53

n the eve of the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report into discrimination and disadvantage in British society (How Fair is Britain?) it is worth looking back at one of the oft unnoticed effects of inequality in society.

In the US wealth inequality reached its highest peak in 70 years immediately prior to the 2007/2008 economic crash. In 2007 33.8% of the nation’s wealth was in the pockets of the richest 1% while the richest 10% horded a massive 70.5% between them. The bottom 50% of the nation meanwhile (that’s 151 million people) had only 2.5%.

This could all be coincidental of course. Except the last time inequality reached it’s peak in the US was 1928 – maybe coincidentally – the year of the Great Depression.

But why is equality and economics in the US relevant to us? Well with the huge effect the American economy has on the rest of the world it is clearly in everyone’s interest we live in a more equal world. And, after all, it was the USA, Singapore, Portugal AND the UK named this year as the most unequal nations in a book by Danny Dorling.

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U.S Midterms a.k.a Taking One For The Team

In by Sam, Crossing the pond on September 14, 2010 at 21:12

f you believe what you hear (and read) Obama’s Democrats are “cruising for a bruising” in this years midterm elections (to the House and Senate). Tim Kaine, head of the Democratic National Convention, recently described the Democrats as “the underdogs” in the race – this might seem strange as they are incumbents in the executive and both legislative branches of government – and pretty much have free reign.

The reason for the pessimism is more to do with Americans historical dislike of Congress, not Barack Obama. For the past year Obama’s approval ratings have hovered around +50% (having fallen slowly from a post-election 70ish %) Congress’s haven’t even seen positive figures for a long time (it currently sits around 70% disapproval).

The up side for the Democrats is that, like Bill Clinton before him, Obama might lose the House but stay on to win a second term in office.

How? you cry… well it’s really pretty simple. By losing Congress to the GOP not only is Obama free of the stigma of being close to the House but the Republicans become responsible for their own actions. They currently sit in the privileged position of criticizing all that the Democrats do without being accountable for very much at all. If they were to seize power in the Midterms not only may they become saddled with the curse of Congress but responsibility for their actions within it.

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Hockey Mom II: This time it’s presidential

In by Kit, Crossing the pond on September 14, 2010 at 19:08

ts ok, you can come out from behind the sofa…… for now. The moose hunting, former vice presidential candidate from Alaska has barely even set up an exploratory committee (the preamble before a formal presidential bid) and already Sarah Palin’s recent movements are being tracked by the US media like Caribou on the GPS system of Todd Palin’s ski-doo.

However the speculators do have a point, based on Sarah Palin’s recent maneuver’s there is only one conclusion for analysts to make: Palin has eyes for the oval office. Since resigning as governor of Alaska a year ago she has  become a well paid after dinner speaker and has gone on a book tour around the country. This is not an atypical path for former high profile politicians. What has interested onlookers however is her recent engagements at tea party meetings (the new populist right movement in the US), endorsement of tea party sponsored candidates for the 2010 mid-term elections and her fundraising team. The Guardian reported that this team raised almost  $1m in the Spring alone. Although this is small fry compared to the $1billion campaigns that were seen in the 2008 election, such political fundraising could raises questions for someone who is “Out of Politics, period” .

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