29 December 2013

What were the most important news topics and who were the most important people in 2013?

BBC year in review
Year review from The Independent

  1. For you, who was the most important person in the news in 2013 and why?
  2. Which 2013 events will continue to hit the headlines in 2014 do you think?
  3. Do you think you take enough interest in world events?

25 December 2013

Christmas message from... Edward Snowden

Whistleblower or traitor?

Hi, and Merry Christmas.
I'm honored to have the chance to speak with you and your family this year. 
Recently, we learned that our governments, working in concert, have created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.
Great Britain's George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of information. The types of collection in the book - microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us - are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.
Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that's a problem, because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
The conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. Together, we can find a better balance. End mass surveillance. And remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.
For everyone out there listening, thank you, and Merry Christmas.

  1. Who is Edward Snowden?
  2. Why do you think our governments want to "watch everything we do"?
  3. Who was George Orwell, and what is "the book" that Snowden refers to about?
  4. Why does privacy matter?
  5. How much do you trust your government?
  6. Should we end mass surveillance?
  7. Is Snowden a hero?

17 December 2013

Madiba... a saint?

Not many leaders in history have inspired such universal admiration as Nelson Mandela. He became a symbol of courage, justice, freedom, forgiveness, harmony and hope. He had many virtues, including resistance, wisdom, empathy, eloquence and grace.

But he was also a politician, albeit a charismatic, high-minded, idealistic one. As such, he had a big ego and a sense of destiny which some considered delusional. He was ambitious, very early on declared himself the future leader of his country. He was calculating, cooperating and compromising with the white supremacists in order to eliminate the apartheid system. He was also a cunning negotiator, refusing conditional release from prison so that he could be seen as a symbol of resistance.

Mandela was pragmatic, compromising his movement’s radical idealism (which included the redistribution of land) for the sake of its primary goal: political equality between races. In the early part of his career, he even supported physical violence in the service of equality: “It is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and non-violence against a government whose reply is only savage attacks” he said. Only later did he fully reject violence to achieve progress.

Many of the character traits that equipped him to achieve great things were similar to those we deplore in less celebrated leaders. Mandela was an ordinary human being and no saint, but his political brain worked in the service of a great ideal, being a force for tremendous good in the world. In an age of cynicism he offered the hope that idealism combined with cool judgement can change the world. As he put it: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination.”

  1. Do you think violence can ever be justified in the struggle for freedom?
  2. Who are the political leaders that inspire you (dead or alive)?
  3. How cynical are you about politics?

16 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Click HERE to view Big Business!

This 1929 film by Laurel & Hardy is in the NFR as it is deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"...

Fighting for progress, Madiba style!

Nelson Mandela Foundation

  1. What does Mandela mean by "change the world"?
  2. What do you think his ideal world would be like?
  3. In what way is education a "weapon" for progress (what are the other means to achieve progress)?
  4. What is the point of compulsory education?
  5. Should compulsory education be applied throughout the world (why)?
  6. How could education for all children throughout the world be achieved?

9 December 2013

The 10th of December every year is Human Rights Day!

Click HERE to visit the UN Human Rights website!
BBC News
Obituary of Mandela from the BBC

To do/questions:
  1. What do you know about Nelson Mandela and what do you think of him (why is he considered a great figure of the defence of human rights do you think)?
  2. Describe and comment the photo of Nelson Mandela (taken before his trial).
  3. What is "apartheid"?
  4. Who has been a unifying influence for South Africa?
  5. What were some of Mandela's ambitions for South Africa?
  6. What was "historic" about the general elections of 1994?
  7. What is the ANC?
  8. Will the ANC win the next general elections do you think?
  9. Which is your favorite Mandela aphorism?
  10. What is "ubuntu"?