Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Does a sex scandal ruin your career?

For those of you interested in sex scandals, US politics has recently seen quite a few. CNN has handily put together a timeline of them, see here. There is also quite a good discussion afterwards about why Mark Sanford, the latest politician to fall from grace in this way, should not continue to be Governor of South Carolina because of it and what the ramifications for his party might be.

Will the Scots ever be happy?

There was a good overview on Panorama last night by Brian Taylor, the Scottish political correspondent for the BBC, on 10 years of Scottish devolution, which you can find on www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer. In conjunction with this, the BBC also released a new poll which revealed that most Scots people want a referendum on independence next year but that the result is wholly reliant on the question that is asked. See the BBC’s headline here plus their special Scottish devolution website here

Monday, 29 June 2009

Strobe Party

Groups in Year 9 Neptune were asked to develop their own political party and say how they would promote it in an election. Ideas ranged from detailed education policy such as the abolition of homework to the scrapping of nuclear weapons to changing the light colours in street lamps! Methods of promotion also varied widely from speeches to t-shirts to the very popular street parties. A vote was taken at the end of the lesson and this presentation by Sarika, Robyn, Emma P, Nishalini and Nancy was the winner.

Does Obama defer too much to Congress?

An interesting article here from Lexington in the Economist. Very useful for discussing the relationship between the President and Congress and a consciously different strategy for delivering on commitments such as healthcare.

Time Magazine on 1989

Here is an excellent collection of articles from Time Magazine on the events of 1989, including Tiananmen Square, events in Eastern Europe, the Satanic Verses controversy and the creation of the Simpsons.

Shah Abbas

Iran has much been in the news lately, and this article provides an interesting account of a strong leader from its past, Shah Abbas (Seen in the centre of the image above) who came to the throne as a teenager in 1587 and so would have been a conteporary of Queen Elizabeth I. He pulled together a kingdom that had been wracked by civil war, expanding its borders all the way to Baghdad. He was tolerant of other religions but less so of his sons - 1 was murdered and 2 others blinded! He tried hard to make alliances with Europe and employed two Englishmen, the Shirley brothers, to negotiate for him. He was influential enough to even be referred to in The Merchant of Venice. The British Museum has just had an exhibition about him (sadly it has just closed) and more info can be seen here.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Will Obama succeed in reforming immigration?

Not content just to reform healthcare, it appears that Obama is also going to try to reform the immigration system. Attempted by Bush without success, this appears to be another brave effort but it seems to be unclear quite how he is going to achieve it. See his speech here where he includes other politicians who are going to try to reach agreement including John McCain.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

American History blogger

A great-looking blog here which includes a fascinating article from the Washington Post about new tapes released of Richard Nixon in the White House...

The Iraq Inquiry muddle

How not to set up an inquiry! See the details here of the vote last night and what the inquiry might look like...

Jacqui Smith Interview

A clip here of an interview with Jacqui Smith about her time as a minister and a discussion about being a woman in politics, particularly interesting of her experience as the first female home secretary...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Peasants' Revolt

Here is a good article from the Today Programme on the Peasants' Revolt. It tries to make parallels with today's popular anger towards politicians and the events of 1381. However, although the Credit Crunch has caused many problems, it cannot compare to the economic and social devastation of the Black Death. Wat Tyler's mob were eventually defeated and King Richard II survived the crisis, but it took six months to calm the rest of the country.

New legislation on tobacco but has Obama quit smoking?

Obama has just signed The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law which gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to ban certain types of cigarettes and restrict advertising. But has the President himself given up smoking? See here for CNN's view.

Monday, 22 June 2009

How to cook a porpoise

The University of Manchester has put a medieval cookbook on the internet. The "Forme of Cury" was written by Richard II's master chef and includes recipes for porpoise in broth (shown above)and blancmange. More details and video here, and the cookery book itself (along with many other precious manuscripts) can be found here. Please let the blog know if you try any of the recipes.

UPDATE: The "Supersizers" covered Medieval food on BBC2 on Monday. You can catch the episode here.

Henry takes to the water

Henry VIII took to the water at the weekend in a recreation of a river pageant to the 500th anniversary of his accession. More photos and video here.

Also, BBC Four is showing "Henry VIII - Patron or Plunderer?" at the moment. More details and iPlayer Links here.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Breaking News

MP's Expenses

Here's a chance to investigate the expenses documents recently released by Parliament. 134039 pages are available! You will find plenty of black ink where information has been "redacted" but you may just stumble across something interesting that the Telegraph has missed.

Henry VIII Exhibition

This Blog leads you to plenty of interesting features linked to the Henry VIII exhibition at the British Library. These include a chance to analyse Henry's handwriting and to read his prayer book, which includes the notes and doodles written in the margin.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Barack Obama & the gay community

President Obama has signed an executive order giving some marriage benefits to same-sex couples who are federal employees. The gay community, however, are not overly happy about this, find out why... and look at Obama's announcement on CNN here.

Should Margaret Beckett become Speaker?

An interesting article from the Times here about whether she will become Speaker and whether she should as she is not seen as a reformer. Also here is the YouTube link to Margaret Beckett's controversial defence of her expenses on Question Time.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Historical interpretations

An interesting illustration of how interpretations of History can differ. Also an article that is sympathetic to History teachers... and some great comments at the end. See here.

The Calman Report

The publication of the Calman Report yesterday has revealed what the Commission believes is the next step for Scottish devolution. The Commission was set up with support from Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. The SNP, however, did not support it and are waiting for their own investigation... conclusion, independence perhaps?! See here.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Anne Boleyn at Hogwarts?

This post comes from the Anne Boleyn Society's webpage. Apparently the portrait on the right is of Miss B. The society puts itself about as the guardian of her reputation and is not impressed by any suggestions of witchcraft. There are some other interesting things to find here, including a Musical Section. Have a good weekend!

Who's Who in Tudor History

This is a useful site that allows you to keep track of the main figures in Tudor history, showing in particular how their titles and job descriptions changed over time. It comes from www.tudorhistory.org which I have added to the Useful Websites section (It also has a Tudor Blog)


Can Obama do what Clinton was unable to do? That is, reform the healthcare system? Not an easy thing to do, particularly in this economic climate. He does have a Democratic Congress, but then so did Clinton...
See ">here for CNN's introduction, see here for yesterday's Guardian article.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Is Fascism on the March?

Is Fascism on the rise across Europe after the elections results? Leading historians give their verdict here. What do you think?

Thomas Paine

Here is an interesting article on Thomas Paine, who died 200 years ago this week. He was born in Norfolk and moved to America on the advice of Benjamin Franklin. He wrote a pamphlet simply known as "Common Sense" in 1776 which argued for the immediate separation of the American colonies from the "mother country". It was hugely influential and the Declaration of Independence followed soon afterwards. His books "The Rights of Man" and "The Age of Reason" were also very influential, particularly in France. However, he died in obscurity (only 6 people turned up to his funeral) but his reputation has now been restored - he was even quoted in Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

PS: William Cobbett tried to restore Paine's reputation by digging up his body in order to give him a more dignified funeral back in England. Unfortunately his body was lost en route and his final resting place is now unknown.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The European Parliament Elections 2009

A huge amount of comment so have just picked out a few things... There is a fantastic interactive map on Channel 4 of the results here and here a comment by Peter Riddell from the Times how Gordon Brown is going to try to revive his premiership - we shall see!

Polish elections

On 4 June 1989 Solidarity won the first free elections in Poland since the Second World War. It was hugely significant for Eastern Europe, showing that a democratic party could be allowed to triumph against the ruling communist government and influenced many of the events that followed in Hungary, East Germany and elsewhere.
More information here and here.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Revenge of the sisterhood

An interesting article in the Times by Alice Thomson about the treatment of female ministers in the Labour Party which may have partly led to this crisis. See here. Things are moving quite fast now so will we have a new Prime Minister by next week or will Brown manage to claw back from the brink with his reshuffle?

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Here is a thoughtful piece on the significance of D-Day, the 65th Anniversary of which will be marked on Saturday 6 June.

The BBC has an excellent website on D-Day and the events that followed here with maps articles and animations.

Plenty of video footage can be found here.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Gordon Brown's premiership

The Guardian has an editorial today, see here, suggesting the Labour party should 'cut him loose'. Certainly it is not a good time for Labour (see also further Cabinet resignations...)


Today is the 20th Anniversary of the Chinese crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. It is still unclear what exactly happened that night or how many people lost their lives, but it marked the end of the Chinese democracy movement and shocked the world. More information from the BBC, including a timeline, can be found here. There is no reference to the anniversary at the China People's Daily Website.

We will look at other important anniversaries from 1989 in the months to come.

Monday, 1 June 2009

BBC Archive

The BBC has started a new film / radio archive, including a section with material on the USSR during WW2 and one on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Updates and further archives can be seen by clicking on "collections".

The BFI also has an archive, full of film, TV and news clips, including a section on the Suffragettes. Please let us know if you find anything interesting! (You may have to log on from a school computer to see these clips for free)