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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Somali Separatist Ambitions.

In my daily scour of the internet for international news a story that really caught my eye was the recent elections in the self Governing Somalian province of Somaliland.

Voters all over the province headed to the polls on Saturday to democratically elect their new President. Over 1 million citizens were on the electoral register in the region of more than 3.5 million. The elections were marred by security threats from the Al Qaeda inspired Shebab group which has been responsable for major troubles in the rest of the country over the past few years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Me and Studio Ghibli: Part 2

If  you missed part one of my Me and Studio Ghibli series you can catch up at the link provided. Today, for part two, I move onto two film's that could not be more different in tone. Both were released in 1988 astonishingly as a double feature. They are Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbour Totoro.

1988- Grave of the Fireflies
The first film of Isao Takahata to be released by the studio and most certainly one of his most celebrated. The film is based on a popular semi-autobiography by Akiyuki Nosaka, of the same name. I have already posted on the film. Catch it in my World Cinema link at the end of the post. But for the continuity of the series I shall continue.

Status Update

Hey guys. Just a quick note to say I'll be heading down the country for the next couple of days to catch up with some friends so I'll be away from the site until at least Friday. But as I have become a little more blogger savy I have discovered the miracle of automatic post scheduling so you shall enjoy/endure daily posts in my absence.

Also Id love to hear from any ofyou with any opinions on any of my posts, what you want to hear about or what I'm doing wrong. Leave me a comment and I shall reply to you in the fullness of soonity.  Until I return, stay safe and happy:)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The G20 Guide

In the past few days the G-20 summit has been taking place in Toronto, Canada. It is a meeting of the Finance Ministers and central bank Governors of 19 prominent world Economies plus the EU. Of course many heads of State also attend the Summit which has grown is status significantly in the past few years.They have been held bi-annually. However, 2011 they are scheduled to be convened on an annual basis. The next meeting of the group will take place in South Korea in November. The first meeting of the group took place in 1999. Although some members such as the UK, France and Italy are represented as part of the EU contingent they do also send their own contingents to the meetings.

You got News in my Opinion

There are many things about America that perplex me entirely. One, is how it matters hugely how much of a God fearing man a President is. I can safely declare now that if our own Prime Minister was to proclaim " God bless you and God bless Ireland", he would most certainly be laughed at by all of those listening to his speech.

Second, how the largest economy in the world has only recently passed any form of universal healthcare is completely beyond the imagination of those of us in Ireland and the UK at least. The fact it has constantly faced controversy is even more unimaginable.However, as someone with a mild interest in journalism the state of journalism in America is totally shocking for me.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Me and Studio Ghibli

I figured its been a good few days since my last post unrelated to current affairs so I decided that Id write about something close to my heart, the movies of Studio Ghibli.  This brilliant animation studio was founded in June 1985 by the studio's two current major directors, Hayao Miyazaki and the less celebrated but certainly no lesser genius, Isao Takahata. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I will be running a series of blog posts covering all of the studio's breathtaking catalog of releases over the past twenty five years. I hope that my profiling each of the films gives you an insight into both my own personality and the magic of the worlds greatest animation studio (in my opinion : ) ).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Women in Politics

One of the major current international stories is the resignation of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The resignation seemed to come as a shock to all. Indeed, anyone in a failing European economy is likely to be aware of the mass emigration to the supposed greener pastures of Australia. And while the country has of course not been immune from the recession the economy is unlikely to continue to suffer for as long as its European counterparts.

But the fact remains, after a number of notable U-turns particularly on climate change, Welsh born Julia Gillard has emerged as the Labor Party's new leader after the party voted to oust their Prime Minister of 3 years. It appears to have been a good decision. Gillard is clear favourite in the polls to keep her position at the time of the country's next general election. It would make her one of the few female leaders of Goverment in our world. So I thought for today's post Id take a look at the role of women in politics worldwide and why so few of them rise to the highest echelon in their chosen careers.

Eritrea:Forgotten World

Foreign Policy, a prominent US magazine, has published a list of its 23 most tyrannical dictators in ranked order. The list is an eye opening one, perhaps shining a light on the ignorance of myself in the sheer number of dictators still in power across the world. While I don't much approve of ranking the inherent evilness of people like Kim-Jung Il and Robert Mugabe and the obvious blurring of the definition of dictator in the article, I have to say it has given me some food for thought.

Perhaps like I said it is just my ignorance but this list has made me wonder how and why certain countries gain prominence in the media while others fail to do so. For example, number one on this list is Kim Jong Il undoubtedly a tyrant who has crippled his country's economy and subjected his people to years of famine and his most irrational behavior and threat of developing nuclear arms surely make his behaviour newsworthy, which also accounts for the inclusion of the Iranian leader (his Israeli hatred the icing on the cake in America).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fury in France

I rarely, if ever take more than the slightest of interest in any soccer tournament, including the World Cup. However, I am always keenly interested in the relationship between society at large and sport. How, for example when the major debate of China's controversial choice as host nation of the Olympics and the talk of boycotting the games based on whether or not sports and politics a should be linked. Personally I was all for the boycott. Sure the athletes pour their heart and soul into training but many Tibetans have staked their lives on the pursuit of freedom. I recognise the capacity of sport to heal and unify (North and South Korea marching under one flag in previous Olympic games) but I also recognise how it can be used as a political tool and should therefore not be immune to political ramifications.

Although the topic I am talking about today is a far cry from the gravity of the 2008 situation in Beijing it does show how sport can capture the imagination of an entire nation and even lead to the political involvement of major leaders. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few days you will no doubt have heard about the abuse given by France's Nicholas Anelka to his team's manager during their clash with Mexico on Saturday. For those who have in fact being just that, I will provide a lose translation. Anelka told his manager after being replaced to " Go f*** yourself, you son of a b****." And thus the escalation of the story began.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Irish Politics in Mildly Interesting Shocker!

The first thing I do whenever I meet with my brother is discuss whatever is happening in the world. I had been away for a full week without a hint of news. Where I was staying was internet-less and Tv-less so i was hoping to be caught up with all the goings on in Gaza or if BP had fixed the leak. Imagine my shock and horror then, when it was the name of our very own dear nation that escaped from his lips.

Because let me explain just a little bit about the political system of this small island nation. We of course are a Republic and we use a Proportional representation system which has lead to a coalition being in power every year of my living memory. And it has been the will of the people of this nation in its 90 odd year history to make the centrist Fianna Fail Party the states largest since 1932. The states second largest party is Fine Gael and equally centrist party that has only formed part of 3 Governments since its inception in 1933.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

BP: Crisis in the Gulf

With my break from the site starting tomorrow I thought I should make this entry before delaying it any further. Indeed the BP oil crisis has almost been going on for almost two months now and is threatening the reputation of BP and of course the President himself with many claiming he hasn't been hard enough on the organisation.

BP has stated it will harness all its resources to help solve the crisis and plug the leak and was spending somewhere in the region of $7 million daily on trying to do just that. However, if we take into account that the companies daily profits for the first quarter of this year were in fact $61 million we see that this figure may not be as large as it seems in perspective.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Design and Break in Service

Hey guys! I hope you all enjoy this beautiful new design. If not feel free to drop me a comment on this post.

From tomorrow I'm heading over to Scotland for a week and probably won't be near a computer for the whole trip so unfortunately I won't be able to update the blog. However, if something major does crop up I'll be sure to jump into the hearest internet cafe and get you guys updated.

Until then, enjoy life and take it easy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gay Cinema

So, as today is a Bank Holiday here in Ireland I decided to once again take some time out from the serious and post about something close to my heart. Both of the films I am going to write about are sterling examples of film making. And if you get the chance I strongly suggest you check them out on a lazy day like today.

This 2006 film directed by John Cameron Mitchell could almost be mistaken for a porn film at fist look. However, I believe that is the point. It seems he wanted to show that depictions of hardcore sex can be complimented by a brilliant, well acted and movingly insightful storyline. This film explores many aspects of human sexuality in an unflinching way but more so than that it delves deep into the psyche to show the many ways in which sexuality changes us.

The main characters all have their own struggles to deal with and share a common meeting place, the Shortbus club in New York City. Indeed the film draws on its setting and many native New yorkers will recognize some political satire in the film. The Shortbus club is described as a refuge "for the gifted and challenged" and in this fascinating and intense setting the characters manage to strive to achieve everything they have been hoping for. (Trailer contains spoilers)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

South Africa: Wealth and Woe

When you think of South Africa, what comes to mind? Do you think of fantastic rugby, Nelson Mandela, breathtaking safari's or the apartheid policy? Maybe now you have begun to associate the country with the World Cup, set to begin on Friday.

As with all major international events it always causes the media to take a closer look at the country in question. We all remember the unprecedented coverage of China in the run up to the 2008 Olympics. However, I've yet to anything approaching the same amount of coverage on this interesting African nation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cumbrian Tragedy

One of the more shocking events of recent weeks was the slaughter which began in the Cumbrian town of Whitehaven and extended throughout the countryside.

The gunman, a local 52 year old taxi man killed 12 of his neignbours including his twin brother and the family's solicitor after what is suspected to have been a dispute over the contents of a family will.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Me and Movies

So having given you a little introduction to some of the fantastic movies that may have gone unnoticed to some of you but that have had an extreme and profound effect on me, movies that show a great and unparalleled capacity to investigate the human psyche or dazzle with astonishing beauty, heart or just plain story telling. In this post I'm going to look at a few of those such films which are not in the English language.

Y Tu Mamá También
One of the very first films I've ever seen not in English, it takes place in Mexico. Two friends Julio and Tenoch (played by real life pals Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) embark on a road trip with Luisa (Maribel Verdú) heading to a beach they have fabricated in their minds in order to impress the older woman. the film deals with the sexual journey the group experience together in a beautiful, often funny and unashamed way. When I watched this film I was in my last years of an all boys high school. Watching the two average teenage boys extolling their sexual prowess but also seeing them as immature and flawed showed me how perfectly this film deals with this period in the lives of many young men. Coupled with snapshots of Mexican culture along their travels Y tu Mama Tambien is a fantastic piece of film making that shows us simply that life is a journey and along the way the things we experience make us who we are. (More after the break)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How do you Solve a Problem Like Korea?

I have watched the increasing tensions in Korea with great interest. It combines two of my great interests Asian cultures and dictatorships. IN the South Seoul stands bright as a bustling prosperous modern metropolis of over 10 million, backed by the US and basking in the benefits of the Tiger economy of the last couple years (obviously hurting in the face of the world's economic meltdown).

In stark contrast the Northern Dictatorship under the leadership of Kim Jong-Il (but the eternal presidency of his dead father Kim Il-Sung) has been suffering greatly under its policy of Juche or self reliance developed by the deceased eternal President. The country has the fifth largest army in the world despite a population of 23 million and remains in receipt of large amounts of food aid, mainly from the South and its strongest ally China.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Israel V Palestine Round ?

No conflict is more saddening or has lasted for a longer time than the dreadful tensions between Israel and Palestine.

After the countless atrocities committed over a period spanning over 100 years we find ourselves remaining entrenched in a never ending struggle between two deeply divided groups. The roots of the conflict are complex to say the least and more so than with many of the world's current conflicts it is difficult to point out a clear villain.