The Week That Was – 1 October 2017

Angela Merkel Wins Fourth Term

Chancellor Angela Merkel won her fourth term in Germany’s election last Sunday. Angela Merkel’s party – the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) secured 32.9 percent of the vote.

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel casting her vote in Berlin

The CDU’s closest opposition the Social Democrats (SPD) and their candidate Martin Schulz came in at their worse performance postwar with 20%. But the Berlin establishment did a double take when the Nationalist and Eurosceptic party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), won 13 percent of the vote, making it the country’s third biggest political authority in Germany.

 

The party was founded in 2013 and made waves rapidly in the German Media and its current political landscape. Many branding them as Nazis’ and ‘still having the brown suit in the basement’ skinheads.  Although it was clear that the AfD would gather seats in the coming mouths onto the State election.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front (FN) who was defeated by Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election run-off four months ago, praised the progress of the AfD. Tweeting:

Bravo to our AfD allies for this historic score

Adding that the AfD was a:

New symbol of (the) reawakening of European people

Despite many fringe AfD supporters congregating around the AfD’s headquarters located in Berlin and sang the German national anthem and yelled with delight, erratic protests arouse across major German cities such as Cologne, Munich and Frankfurt. In Berlin, hundreds (roughly 300 – 400) protesters marched upon a nightclub where members of the AfD were celebrating the election results.

 

Anti-AfD Protest
Picture taken of an Anti-AfD rally

 

After the bombshell of the results, Angela Merkel Said:

We will have to win back those who voted for the AfD by solving their problems, by taking on board their concerns.

Many of their concerns occurred due to Angle Merkel’s Government and her policy-making. Many of whom think her policy on Immigration was too lenient. The census round many AfD supporters is that it was just an attempt to swing undecided voters and gain the crucial young vote regardless of the welfare and safety of German citizens.


Angela Merkel Wins Fourth Term

King Salman has lifted the infamous ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and is now allowing the issuing of permits to women – state media announced on Tuesday. This ended the stigma of Saudi Arabia being the only nation in the world to have a prohibition on women driving, Saudi Arabia is now officially the last country to lift the ban.

 

King-Salman
King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

 

This is a major triumph in Suadi Society, many women rights activists calling this a historic moment in Suadi society and a huge step forward for women’s liberty inside a very conservative-Islamist country.

 

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Women protesting before the ban was reversed.

 

Although there was never an official ban on women driving in Saudi-Law, the Government refused to issue women licences. Until now, only men were allowed to drive, and if a woman dared to get behind the wheel she would have been arrested and fined.

The news, as mentioned earlier, was announced on State television. The announcement mentioned the damage the policy has done to the Kingdom’s international relations and the turmoil it has provoked domestically, and the country hopes public relations will significantly improve under this reformation.

The royal decree ordered the formation of a ministerial body to give advice within 30 days and then implement the law by June 2018. Women in Saudi Arabia have to seek permission from a male guardian in order to travel, marry, exit prison, and (in some cases) to work or receive healthcare. Many women in Saudi Arabia hope this is just the beginning and the country can start to liberate women more and more as the years go on and, in the end, allow women to be independent.


Hugh Hefner, the leader of the sexual revolution, dies at 91

Hugh Hefner, the founder of the international adult magazine company Playboy and recognised as the leader of the sexual revolution, died on the September 27th, 2017, at the age of 91.

Hugh-Hefner-in-mansion
Hugh Hefner in his Playboy mansion

Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles, from natural causes.

Hugh Hefner started Playboy in his home kitchen in 1953, the first issue featuring the most glam and most famous women of the 50’s – Marilyn Monroe. Before she hit it big time she, as most inspiring actresses where, in need of money. She posed nude for the photographer Tom Kelly in exchange for $50. The photographs then were bought by a calendar company then 4 years later Hefner bought the pictures from the calendar company for $500

Despite Playboy never having an official deal from Monroe regarding the photographs, Hefner and Monroe developed a friendly relationship during their lives. Monroe said the photos never negatively impacted her career. Later Hefner bought the crypt next to Monroe’s for $75,000 in 1992. He told the LA times in 2009:

Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up

During his life, Hefner saved the iconic Hollywood sign not once but twice. In 1978, Hefner helped organise a fundraiser that led to the restoration of the Hollywood sign. He hosted a gala-event at his notorious Playboy mansion. He personally contributed $27,000 (1/9 of the total recovery costs) by purchasing the letter Y in a ceremonial auction. Three decades later, Aprill 26, 2010, Hefner donated close to a million dollars sought by a conservation group for a land purchase needed to stop the development of the famed vista of the Hollywood Sign.

 

Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood sign may not have been here today if not for Hugh Hefner

Hefner also supported the legalisation of same-sex marriage in America. He said he that a fight for gay marriage was:

A fight for all our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time

The pyjama-wearing hedonist porn mogul may have divided America and the world but his family and friends deserve a time of peace following his death, and I wish them the very best during this rough time for them.

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Dog Food’s “Rich In Taste” Advertising and The Rise of Consumerism

Everywhere the Carnabetian Army marches on, each one a dedicated follower of fashion

Was a line written by The Kinks frontman Ray Davies in their song “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” – which reached top 5 in the charts in 1966. The song satirised the fashion explosion of the 60’s; the infamous Carnaby Street; and, arguably, the origin of consumerism.

Ever since the 60’s more and more people have become fixated on what they look like and what people perceive them. Even a slight peculiar glance from a stranger can become a worm in their minds; forcing them to change every item of clothing, and even remodelling the way they stride down the streets they have become ever so used to.

Carnaby Street London UK
Carnaby Street

You can now walk down a jam-packed shopping plaza and see people wearing walking billboards; fluorescent neon colours that give you a headache and brand-logos that take up more than half of whatever they are wearing.

But clothing isn’t the only thing people buy for the brands.

Clothing brands started the snowball of consumerism now if you can buy it, there is a brand along with it. From products such as paint to paper, bleach to butter and honey to hats there is a board of directors and investors behind it all. They each have the intention to maximise public-awareness and public-consumption in ever-increasing quantities. The constant advertising we see on the internet, the television and, if they’re good at marketing, clothing that is just simply wandering displays plant the product in the back of our minds. Militant-marketing like this has changed the way people buy products for the foreseeable future and created a snobbery when it comes to everything and anything you can buy.

If something is cheap, people look down upon it even if it’s exactly the same – my favourite example of this anthropology is the pineapple. The pineapple was first brought to Europe in 1493 by Christopher Columbus; the pineapple was reserved for royalty and members of the aristocracy as the cost of transport and the rarity of it, in that era, significantly boosted the price. In the 17th century, a single pineapple would cost an equivalent of £5,000 in today’s pounds.

The humble pineapple was so distinguished at the time you can see a solitary golden pineapple top grand and eloquent structures built during that time period. Throughout London, you can see them dotted around in places such as Lambeth Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery and even St Paul’s Cathedral.

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The golden pineapple topping St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Dunmore Pineapple, located in Scotland, was built as a summerhouse for the Fourth Earl of Dunmore in 1761. The structure is known “as the most bizarre building in Scotland” and just further emphasises how cherished and luxurious the pineapple was at the time.

dunmore pineapple landscape 704
The Dunmore Pineapple

The delicacy of the pineapple ended in the 18th century when improvements in steamships brought down the cost of transport and the rise of consumer farms in Hawaii, which mass-produced pineapples, saw the massive decrease in price, today the once prosperous pineapple would only set you back £1.

But the pineapple didn’t change a bit, they still look and taste the same – the only thing that changed is our attitude towards them. It would be a rare sight to see a modern civic building topped with a golden pineapple.

As any good merchant knows sell the sizzle, not the steak; which is effectively was what those who were trading pineapples where doing, they were selling the experience, selling the rarity and selling the status which comes with it. Which brings me to the reason why I wrote this column, dog food advertising.

As I was cleaning away in the kitchen, I saw dog food sitting on the counter-top. For the first time, I noted the packaging, colours typically used for more high-end products such as black, gold and dark purple and a bold, sharp font telling me the processed raw chunks of meat is “Rich in Taste”. I thought this was just plain-absurdity, selling me dog food by marketing the taste.

DS-ORIJEN-dog-Original-whatsnew
ORIJEN Original 6Kg costs £42.99

Yes I know, it’s not for me but just think about it – food I’ll never eat being marketed as such; appealing to the nations dog owners emotions, appealing to the taste that humans will find revolting. (because a dog likes it doesn’t mean its ‘rich in taste’, dogs will eat sick and will only have compliments to give to the chief.) Dog-food companies have cracked the oldest marketing technique there is, selling the sizzle, not the steak.

I researched the prices of dog-food after this, and I saw prices range from £6 to £80 – with various recipes such as rice and lambgourmet fish and potato, and chicken & duck. I care for my dog as much as anyone does but would I spend £69 on shellfish dog-food? No.

Dog-food companies are now capitalising on ‘who loves their dog the most’ and are running with it. Gone are the days when dogfood’s advertising strategy was based on health benefits – now they’re aiming to the people who want to turn their dog vegan. The little brown cubes filled with condensed rice and raw lamb are selling faster than hotcakes. Reaching 1,170 customer reviews on Amazon along with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars just shows how people have progressed from getting paranoid of what strangers think of them, but now care about what their dog thinks of their moral character.

The Week That Was – 24 September 2017

Brexit delayed until 2021

Theresa May has confirmed the UK will seek a two-year transition period after Brexit which will keep us part of the EU until 2021. Putting Brexit on hold for 2 years longer than the original ‘Brexit date’ of 2019.  Mrs May announced her plan at her Florence speech on Friday.

theresa-may-italy
Theresa May making her keynote address in Florence.

The Prime-Minister stated she wanted the UK and the EU to continue access to each other’s markets during the transitional period “on current terms” and under “the existing structure of EU rules and regulations”.

But what will this mean for Britain? It’s clear, Britain will have to accept full free movement of people during this period of time. This sparked interest in those who voted to leave Europe. Many of whom are expressing concerns that Mrs May’s plan will result in Britain staying in the single market and the customs union, resulting in a Swiss-style relationship with the EU.

Mrs May also stressed that the UK will:

Honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership

Meaning that Britain will agree to pay the “Divorce” bill. The bill will cost Britain a total of €20 billion (£18 billion), contributing £9 billion to Brussels over the 2-year transitional period. Many argue this figure is only set to rise as it’s effectively an initial proposal which the EU aches to increase.

Mrs May
Theresa May is confident that Britain will get the best deal possible.

Again, many heartfelt Eurosceptics argue that Britan will never even taste the fruits that leaving the EU will bring for the 5 year period. They say that Theresa May is only trying to prolong her prime-ministerial position for another 4 years; pushing back Brexit to at least March 2021.


Yoda Features in Saudi Ministry of Education Gaffe

Saudi Arabia’s Education Minister, Ahmed Al-Issa, has offered his sincere apologies for the production of a school history textbook featuring the late King Faisal with Star Wars character Yoda.  Jedi master Yoda was superimposed alongside King Faisal during a United Nations Charter in 1945.

Yoda with King Faisal
The artist responsible said he included Yoda as, like King Faisal, he was “wise, strong and calm.

Ahmed Al-Eissa issued a statement saying:

The Ministry of Education regrets the inadvertent error.

He added:

The Ministry has began printing a corrected copy of the decision and withdrawing the previous versions, and has formed a legal committee to determine the source of the error and to take appropriate action.

The image was intended to embellish a section on the King’s rule, but a mishap at the Book’s editor used a version of the photograph in which Yoda’s green bottom was rested next to the King. The image was created by a 26-year-old Saudi artist named Abdullah al-Sheri, who credits his work under the pseudonym Shaweesh.

Textbook
Picture of the image included in the Saudi textbook.

The artwork was created as part of a series, where pop-culture icons and film characters were subtly added to photographs of significant moments in Arab history.

Shaweesh said during interviews that the King was:

Wise and was always strong in his speeches.

Adding

So I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king.

Shaweesh further said, he meant no offence to the King at all, and it was just a part of his art exhibit. However, Shaweesh was critical towards the education ministry saying:

Someone should have checked the image before printing.


The Week That Was – 17 September 2017

Parsons Green Bomb

On the 15th of September, around 8.20 AM, a home-made bomb failed to fully detonate on a stationed Tube train at Parsons Green Station.

This makes it the 5th terrorist attack on British Soil in 2017. Luckily this time no one was killed. 22 passengers were injured after the ball of fire rushed through the crowded carriage at rush hour.

The 'Bucket Bomb' used.
The ‘Bucket Bomb’ used.

Witnesses of the Parsons Green Station attack reported the shock and horror of seeing victims being dragged out of the station covered in blood.

Petter Crowley, a commuter on the Tube train, suffered burns to his head after the ball of fire filled the busy rush-hour carriage.

He told the BBC;

A fireball above my head has come and singed all my hair, I’ve got burn marks on the top of my head and everyone just ran off the train – it was quite scary

Peter Crowley source: @CUPID5TUNT
Peter Crowley source: @CUPID5TUNT

Experts say the home-made bomb appeared to have malfunctioned several stations before it was set to explode. If the bomb successfully detonated, possibly, dozens of lives could have been lost and much more injured.

Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency COBRA committee meeting quickly after the attempted terrorist attack.

The Prime Minister said on Twitter;

My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident.

The Government, after the emergency COBRA meeting, raised the threat level from SEVERE to CRITICAL, meaning a terrorist attack is expected imminently. The Government most likely raised the threat level after the criticism it received from lowering it back to SEVERE so quickly, it was reduced only three days later after the Manchester bombing.

The police detained a potential suspect close to the Port of Dover, the suspect is known to be aged 18.  Kent police arrested the suspect at 7:50 AM under suspicion he was a terrorist. Kent police have described it as a “significant arrest”.

The suspect is due to be relocated to a south London police station tonight.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said;

We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical. 


North Korea’s Second Missile Test

North Korea launched its second ballistic missile across Japan, escalating tensions in Japan even more after committing a second nuclear test just two weeks ago. As well as the first ballistic missile test they flew over Japan only late last month.

NK test
A passer-by in Tokyo watching a TV screen reporting on the missile test.

This missile flew higher and further than the last missile test late last month. It reached an altitude of around 478 miles and travelling 2299 miles before crashing into the sea off Hokkaido, the South Korean Military reports.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan would “never tolerate” such “dangerous, provocative action”.

Shinzo Abe and Theresa May
Shinzo Abe and Theresa May holding hands in her Japanese state visit.

The South Korean Military responded within minutes by firing two counter ballistic missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on the North.

This was after the UN’s Security Council unanimously agreed to restrict oil imports and ban textile exports, in the hopes that it would strain the North of fuel and income for its multiple weapon programs.

The North responded to these round of sanctions saying that the US should be “beaten to death like a rabid dog” and “The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche”; (Juche being the ideology pioneered by Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, it is usually translated to self-reliance.).

North Korea added;

Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.

and

Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilisation of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,

Kim
Kim Jong-un watching the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile on Friday.

Nevertheless, North Korea still hasn’t attacked America physically and has only a been war of words. Although Kim Jong-un is still testing and developing large-scale nuclear and ballistic missiles faster and stronger than ever before. If he continues like this, posses a real threat to not only Japan, South Korea, and America but the whole international community.


Apple’s iPhone X Launch Embarrassment

Iphone X

Apple’s most expensive (£999) and latest iPhone, the iPhone X, has been announced and is set to be released on the 3rd of November.

However, the launch didn’t go exactly as planned following a live demo fail of one of the phones’ main selling points, Face-ID.

A seemingly confident Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering, was keen to demonstrate Apple’s new facial recognition software.

He explained to a room filled with eager press and nervous investors that;

Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up.

But then the £999 phone failed to unlock, a flustered sweetly Federighi then told the audience;

Let’s try that again.

But the technology itself wasn’t the problem, he was prompted with a screen asking him to enter his passcode. A prompt which will pop up on current iPhone’s if it’s been recently turned off or restarted. But sadly budding investors didn’t know this at the time and quickly withdrew their shares in Apple.

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A screengrab of Apple stocks shortly after the mishap.

The new iPhone will also include such features as; an edge-to-edge display; portrait lighting feature; wireless charging and 5.8 inches ‘Super Retina’ display.

The First Blog Post

My name is Craig MacLure and, at the time writing this, I am an S5 student at my local high-school of Uddingston Grammar School. I’m currently studying higher English, Computing Science and Religious Studies and National 5 Maths and Music Technology.

My current interests lie in Libertarian politics; Buddhist philosophy; film and television; music and reading. I read mostly non-fiction books such as ones on Buddhism and politics although I like to read a lot of articles on current affairs, hence why I’m starting this weekly digest. I hope this digest will become a place for people who just want a quick, easy, calm read can go to. And maybe read a few of my opinion pieces which are on a wide variety of topics and the occasional film and television reviews

The main goal for me while doing this is to improve my writing and communication skills. As well as developing my political and social commenting skills. Hopefully, the improvement will be visible from this first blog to the last to heighten my chances of getting into university and use this website as a portfolio of my writings.  Which after weeks of writing, thousands of words, and millions of keypresses later I can reflect upon it and take pride in what I created.