Saturday, 31 December 2016

TWENTY SIXTEEN

Source: Wizard Radio
The year 2016 will be remembered as the year of political earthquakes that shook the Establishment, provoked by the anger from those who feel left behind or forgotten. With the cataclysmic events of Trump and Brexit, it is difficult to forecast how 2017 will pan out. It is easy to fear the upcoming year but it is at such difficult times that unity shall prevail. Although 2017 will be an eventful year, we should remain optimistic and hopeful for a better year.

The Migrant Crisis and the Syrian war prompted mass movements and protests across the world. The countless trending hashtags (#RefugeesWelcome), the protests against Syria bombing and the acceptance of young refugees are some of the many positive developments made during the humanitarian crisis. Horrific images from Syria continued to fill my Twitter feed, whilst most of the media decided to ignore this ongoing tragedy. The incidents in Syria have been utterly heartbreaking; the Syrian civil war has continued for over 5 years and it is becoming increasingly apparent how important intervention (not just military invention) is in such conflicts. It is imperative in 2017 that we positively start to challenge our MPs and governments on their stance on Syria and their lack of support for the refugees. Now, we can only hope that the ceasefire in Syria will sustain peace in the region.
Source: Sputnik International
Awakening on the 24th June to discover that Britain voted to leave the EU, the institution which maintained peace in Europe, was devastating. The result was evidence of the rise of nationalism and complete rejection of the Centre in politics. The British people wanted to 'take back control' whilst the media ensued with a vehement attack on immigrants and Muslims. It was difficult to accept that among a few Brexiteers lay an underlying poisonous strand of racism, xenophobia and/or Islamophobia. In the run-up to the referendum we witnessed the bitter divisions created by the Remain and Leave campaign, the blatant lies vocalised by politicians and the infamous line that "We've had enough of experts". The imposition of an unelected PM, Theresa May, who wants to bypass Parliament in the Brexit negotiations (despite the Leavers' plea to uphold parliamentary sovereignty) and ensue with a hard Brexit hardly managed to restore my confidence in this country. Despite this, I have faith that the 48% will not be ignored and that Britain will be able to build closer ties with other countries across the world. With the potential of an early General Election, 2017 could also be the year where we see the end of the Conservative's reign in government. The enthusiasm of young people in the referendum, where 64% voted, will hopefully continue in ensuing elections. It is important that we continue to challenge the Tory party for a Brexit that works for us as we will be living with the consequences of leaving the EU for a much longer time. If you are young and want to have a say on the type of Brexit you want, visit: https://www.weareundivided.co.uk/
Source: iNews
The election of Donald Trump, who will soon become the most powerful man in the world, definitely trumps the Brexit vote (haha get it?) The entire Trump campaign was abominable - the video voicing his abusive thoughts on woman, mocking a disabled individual and the deleterious rhetoric regarding Mexicans and Muslims should have led to the end of his political career. Instead he gained visceral support for his prejudicial statements, revealing the deep-rooted problems within American society. The support from Trump's acolyte, Nigel Farage, has also revealed the evident prejudice among British society as it has hardly damaged Farage's career. The most striking and shocking fact is that Trump and Farage gained support; despite their discriminatory views and privileged background they were somehow able to brainwash millions into believing they will champion for the working class. The 2017 European elections could also follow the nationalist patterns of Brexit and Trump. The success of the fascist, Marine Le Pen, and the far-right in Germany seems to continue the political trend of 2016. Marine Le Pen, who once described the Holocaust as a "detail" in history, has been gaining support in France despite her xenophobic and Islamophobic stance. But, once again, we have to remain hopeful. The sporadic protests across America against the election of Trump prove that there are Americans who will remain undeterred in making the presidency difficult for Trump and the 2 Republican houses. Clinton's ability to win the popular vote further emphasises the fact that most Americans were revolted by Trump. With such strong opposition domestically and internationally, Trump will be held to account and judged upon his actions.
Source: Politico
It is now more important than ever that young people in society begin to voice their demands, in order to uphold the values in society that we want. We want a progressive society, without racism, sexism or religious discrimination and we should demand this from our governments and the media. 2016 revealed the worst of politics and the following year should be a time for unity and healing divisions. It is difficult to remain optimistic but, if we are loud enough, our voices will be heard.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
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Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Conservative party: the party that works for everyone. Am I missing something here?

Theresa May at the Conservative Party Conference. Source: Mirror
The Tory party, notoriously known for protecting the interests of the rich and privileged in society, have somehow managed to re brand themselves as the party for the working family.
The emergence of a new populist right needs to be treated with suspicion and caution.

Theresa May's record as Home Secretary is no secret - she accepted the imposition of austerity in a period where people were already suffering financially. The argument for austerity has now almost completely diminished along with the Conservative Party's 2020 surplass target. The draconian cuts made to several welfare budgets has contributed to the general malaise felt across the country and, most likely, contributed to the revolt against the establishment with the Brexit vote - where May supposedly supported Remain. Such harmful cuts were the biggest made to government spending since WW2. The closures of A&E departments in NHS hospitals, the battle against the potentially dangerous Junior Dr's contracts and the privatisation of various sectors of the NHS were all results of the Cameron government. May, as one of the leading members of his cabinet, sat idle to such policies making her complicit in the NHS' demise. May also witnessed the rise of food banks. It is a shocking reality that thousands of British people are unable to afford the basic necessity of food. Furthermore, the decrease in benefits and the availability of benefits have also affected those who now feel 'left behind' in society. It is evident that the entire Cameron government created policies that would affect the working class and so, May's declaration that the Conservative party will be for the working family seems paradoxical.
Food Banks.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Can we remember the real meaning of the poppy?

Field of poppies.Source: Wallpapers
Remembrance Day is upon us. The time where we can quietly contemplate, remember and acknowledge the people who have lost their lives or have been impacted by war. The poppy has become symbolic of this sacrifice as it was the only sign of nature that emerged on the barren fields where soldiers fought. However, it is becoming apparent that the message of Remembrance Day has become increasingly conflicted with a nationalist rhetoric that is taking away from the meaning of the symbol.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Why is Labour allowing for years of Tory misrule?

Source: telegraph.co.uk

The Conservative Party members were, once, viciously clawing at each other in the days following up to the EU Referendum – their party was visibly split on whether Britain should Leave or Remain. Of Tory MPs, 185 voted to Remain and 138 voted to Leave and among those 138 were 6 Cabinet Ministers (including high-profile names such as Michael Gove) and the former London Mayor, Boris Johnson. On the 23rd June the country voted against the advice of their Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron, leading to his resignation and the collapse of the entire Cameron government. It seemed like nothing could have been more detrimental to the status, popularity and legitimacy of the Tory government, until the imposition of the unelected Prime Minister Theresa May. I thought this would have been Labour’s dream come true (apart from Brexit, of course) to witness the self-destruction of the Party who they have tried to defeat since 2010. But it seems, instead, Labour also decided to self-destruct.
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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

EMPOWERING WOMEN #3: SAMPAT PAL

Sampat Pal's journey is one that is wholly unique and incredibly inspiring. After I finished reading the 'Pink Sari Revolution', written ever so beautifully by Amana Fontanella Khan, Sampat had to appear in my list of Empowering Women.
Sampat is the leader of the Pink Gang, or 'Gulaab Gang' as it is known in India; this is a gang that stands up against brutality towards women and those of a lower caste. The group encapsulates the need for women to unite and support each other and groups such as these are needed now more than ever in India.

Source:asiasociety.org
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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

EMPOWERING WOMEN #2: HAYLEY WILLIAMS

Another woman that has continued to inspire me is Hayley Williams.
A pioneer for women in rock, she is fearless in a very male-dominated genre of music. She screams, headbangs and rocks out on stage and is unapologetic when she does. Her incredible vocals and persistence in the music scene, despite several setbacks, led her to win the first-ever Billboard Trailblazer Award in 2014. As the front-woman and lead singer of Paramore, she has inspired women to be unique and follow their hearts, making her a truly empowering woman.

Source: www.billboard.com
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Thursday, 14 July 2016

EMPOWERING WOMEN: BEYONCE

I am constantly looking toward other women for inspiration and strength, whether it be women I personally know or those in the public eye. With persisting inequalities for women in many aspects of life, it is even more inspiring to see one succeed and break through all that is inhibiting them.
I have decided to create a blogpost series labelled EMPOWERING WOMEN and it is exactly what it reads on the tin - a weekly post on strong females that inspire me and would also (hopefully) inspire you. 

BEYONCE

Source: brownsugarhairandbeauty.wordpress.com
I am sure it is not a surprise to anyone reading that Beyonce is the first woman to feature in this series. During an interview with Beyonce, Oprah quoted Maya Angelou and told her "You make me proud to spell my name W-O-M-A-N" and this encapsulates exactly how I feel about Queen B.
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Friday, 24 June 2016

23rd June: The day I felt ashamed to be British

Source: www.timeshighereducation.com
It feels surreal. Emotions are high. Britain is saturated with uncertainty.
I can truly say today I feel ashamed to be British.
The outcome of the EU referendum has left the world stunned as Britain embarks on the lengthy, unstable road to leaving the EU.
After visiting the Auschwitz concentration camps and witnessing the horrifying consequences of prejudice and discrimination, it is heartbreaking to watch the rejection of an institution that fights for freedom, unity and peace. An institution that is not perfect but is needed in the world, especially at a time where fascism is on the rise and an enormous humanitarian crisis of Migrants fleeing their terror-stricken countries is continuing to worsen. These problems, I feel, will only be exacerbated following the decision to leave the EU.
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Monday, 4 April 2016

Lessons from the Holocaust: Visiting Birkenau

DISCLAIMER: I have written two blog posts previously regarding the experience of visiting a Jewish Cemetery and Auschwitz. Please read these before reading this post. 

After visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp, we drove and arrived at the biggest concentration camp that the Nazi's built - Birkenau.
The vast landscape of this torturous land was incredible. I could see miles of barren land and wooden shacks. I could also see the symbolic train tracks that lead into the camp - the victims had a one-way ticket to death and torture.


The bitterly cold wind rushed towards us and snow began to fall allowing us to imagine the brutality of Birkenau during the winter months. Workers would work, eat and sleep in freezing weather conditions and this led to a large number of deaths. As we walked parallel to the train tracks, we stopped at a train carriage that was used during the Holocaust to transport victims from across Europe - from countries as far away as France and Italy- to their deaths. Victims were forced to pay for full price one-way tickets and were stuffed into trains; they could experience journeys that lasted 9 days, with no place to excrete or sleep. They were truly treated like animals.



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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Lessons from the Holocaust: Visiting Auschwitz


Auschwitz is one of two concentration camps I was able to visit on my trip to Poland.
It allowed me to take a glimpse into what life was like in such torturous conditions. It did not only make the Holocaust feel raw and real, but it also taught me things that I had never known about the Holocaust. 
Once we had parked outside the camp, I was able to see rows of identical, red bricked buildings encompassed within tangled metal fences and barbed wire. There was an intense eeriness once we had entered the camp and a disbelief that I was about to enter a place where people wished they could escape.


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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Lessons from the Holocaust: Visiting a Jewish Cemetery

Through the Holocaust Educational Trust, I had the opportunity to visit Poland and the WW2 Concentration Camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
It was an experience like no other and one that has taught me lessons that I cannot forget.
I have separated my experience into three different blogposts - Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, Auschwitz and Birkenau. I wanted to do this so you can fully experience how I felt and what I learnt during the day without feeling overwhelmed with information. Each part of the trip was extremely important and I want to express this as best as I can.


We arrived in Poland and began our journey to Oswiecim, which was later renamed by the Nazis as Auschwitz. We were travelling to a Jewish cemetery however were not told of the significance of it until we stood among the gravestones.
Now that I have reflected upon my experience, I have recognized this to be an extremely important segment of the entire trip. This cemetery was for Jews who had lived, worked and died within this town, before the Nazis emerged into power. It symbolises the complete destruction of communities during the Nazi rule; by 1939, 58% of the population in Oswiecim was Jewish.
We discovered that during the war, many anti-Semitic individuals completely destroyed this cemetery- they ruthlessly dug up the dead bodies and wrecked most of the gravestones, using the granite for money. Following the war, the remaining gravestones that had survived were placed back in this cemetery as a symbol of the Jewish community that had lived before. Many people, including myself, immediately align the Holocaust with the death of Jews, but the cemetery allowed me to acknowledge that the Holocaust was so much more than the deaths of individuals. The Holocaust was the death and struggle of communities across the world and the impact of this is still evident today. 
As we continued to walk around the cemetery, we noticed a small hut housing a gravestone. This gravestone was for the last ever Jewish person to have lived in Oswiecim; his name was Shimson Kluger and he survived the Holocaust and died in 2000.


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Saturday, 6 February 2016

Meeting a Holocaust Survivor


The Holocaust is an event in history that has always astounded me. But it is an atrocity that I could never truly comprehend. The facts and figures have never really 'said' anything to me because I cannot believe that those statistics are real - How can eleven million people be killed during the Holocaust? That number is incomprehensible.
There are only 10 Holocaust survivors left and I had the honour of meeting one - Ziggy Shipper.
This was through the Holocaust Educational Trust, where I was able to meet a Holocaust Survivor. They organised the Seminar to be held in Canary Wharf in order to ensure every participant has a good knowledge of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. All participants will eventually visit Poland and the Auschwitz Camp.


After some discussion of the Holocaust and the Nazi Regime during World War Two, Ziggy Shipper took to the stage and began to tell his story.
He emitted a warmth that immediately put everyone at ease as he began with a few funny remarks about his early childhood. But his story was one that was truly shocking and emotive; you could feel his pain and anguish through the words he spoke and this experience was completely different to reading a story out of a textbook. He spoke a story that was his. One that he lived and breathed through.

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Drowning In Technology

In a world saturated with computer screens, mobile screens, Tumblr dreams and Instagram themes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to withdraw yourself from technology and live freely - without the need to constantly refresh our Pinterest pages or tweet ourselves out of misery. The tyranny of technology has led us to be distant from the real world and this did not become any more real to me then when I checked my Battery Usage on my iPhone.
On Sunday I became aware of this clever little feature on the piece of technology that has taken over my life, and I was astounded with what I saw. If you go on to your Settings and press on Battery Usage you are able to see your battery usage for the last 24 hours. If you press the small clock icon next to the 'Last 7 Days' tab, you can see how much time you have spent on your phone - On Screen and Background time.
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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Why Should You Be Involved in Politics?

Do you vote?

Voting is a human right. A right that we did not always have.
The story of the Suffragettes and Suffragists is one that truly symbolises the struggle and defiance of women who wholeheartedly believed they had a place in politics. Their relentless fight to allow women the freedom to vote truly showed their persistence, strength and integrity. But why were they indefatigable in their fight for the vote? Why did they risk their lives? 
It is simple.
If you do not vote, politicians and political parties will not represent you!
During the years where females were forbidden from voting, laws that aided to a woman's needs never became legislation as women were not a part of the electorate. In other words,  politicians did not need to gain votes from women and so disregarded the entire female species in political decisions that effected them. If you vote, politicians are more likely to introduce laws that you want as you have the power to predict their future as your local MP or Prime Minister.


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