Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Obama on Google

President Obama gave a 50 minute interview on Google+ yesterday, discussing issues with 6 people selected from 13,000 applicants. This included confirmation that the USA is using drones against targets in Pakistan. You can see the whole interview here (YouTube link) and read some of the thousands of comments that follow. PS: You also may find these stories of interest: How Europe became a dirty word in the republican primaries and is there a psyschological reason behind why people vote republican or democrat?

Monday, 30 January 2012

Washington Trip Powerpoint

Here is the powerpoint covering details for this February's trip to Washington. To make it larger, click on the "square" button at the bottom in the middle.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, here is the latest video from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust encouraging you to speak out against discrimination.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

GCSE Guide

We have created a new page showing what will be available for GCSE students for 2012-2014. For more information, click here.

Monday, 23 January 2012


Here's an interesting article examining electoral turnout in the USA. According to the Centre for the Study of the American Electorate, America is ranked 139th in terms of voter participation out of 172 recognised democracies, and turnout in the 2008 election at 63% was considerably lower than it is in much of Europe, for example. Indeed, 2008's turnout was higher than it had been since 1960, with only 51.6% turning out for the 1996 elections. Some believe this is because of America's insistence on continuing with traditions such as the Tuesday date for elections (believed to have been chosen as it was most convenient for the agricultural community) and its refusal to embrace newer technologies to make voting more convenient, although this could be expensive. Jacob Soboroff from the "Why Tuesday?" Campaign responded to criticisms by saying,
"There is a far higher cost to the nation of having perennially low turnout than the monetary cost of having weekend elections." Does he have a point?
PS: More on the Tuesday issue here.

Paxman on China

Happy Chinese New Year!

To mark the Year of the Dragon, here is an excellent piece by Jeremy Paxman (who is visiting China for Newsnight). He observes how many in modern China (particularly in the big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai) are driven by the desire to make money and increase their status, and turn a blind eye to some of the more repressive aspects of the country (for now, at least).

You may also find these articles of interest - about Chinese corner shops, and fake boyfriends.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gingrich wins South Carolina

The Republican primary race is now wide open following Newt Gingrich's shock win in South Carolina on Saturday. The scale of his victory, with 40% of the vote, 12% ahead of Romney, is particularly impressive. This suggests that the campaign will now go on for many months. Gingrich has appealed to Rick Santorum's supporters to join him as a conservative force against Romney but Santorum also has something to be cheerful about following the news that he actually won the Iowa Caucus after all. All eyes now move to Florida, who hold their primary on 31 January.

Why do you think Gingrich has done so well? Is this a "game-changer" or are Romney's prospects sound in the long run? How much is Obama enjoying all this? Please let us know.

PS: Here are some useful resources - a "battleground map" showing some of the key states for the 2012 election, and the CNN "delegate calculator"

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Wikipedia Blackout

Here is an excellent article from the BBC's technology correspondent about Wikpedia's "blackout" yesterday in protest about proposals for new American Anti-Piracy laws, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)and PIPA (Protect IP Act).  Apparently 162 million people experienced the blackout in the last 24 hours (including Nonsuch HP) which has led to some of the politicians who had previously backed the bills becoming rather more reticent. Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch (via twitter) has commented, "Seems blogosphere has succeeded in terrorizing many senators and congressmen who previously committed. Politicians all the same." - make of that what you will!

What's your opinion on the blackout? Was it successful? Please let us know.

Economist on Romney

There are some excellent articles in this week's Economist on Mitt Romney and the situation in the US Primaries this week.
  • Here is the leading article assessing his credentials and whether he can be a credible opponent to Obama in November.
  • Here is a whizzy interactive map showing the latest poll data for each state - Romney leads in most but sometimes not by much!
  • Here is the Economists "Politics in America" blog with the latest thoughts and developments.
If you have any other recommendations from elsewhere on the web, please let us know.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Washington Trip

You may have noticed a countdown timer and weather forecast box have been added to the right hand side - this is looking forward to the Washington Trip taking place in February Half Term. With the primary season in full swing, it will certainly be an exciting time to be out there, if somewhat cold!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Iowa Caucus Tonight!

Happy New Year everyone, and apologies for the lack of posts lately.  The official start of the primary season for the US Presidential race in 2012 could not be ignored, however.  120,000 Iowans will gather tonight to participate in caucuses to elect delegates for the Republican National Convention, which will take part in Florida this August. Their decisions will give some clue as to how the Republican candidates are faring, although it should be born in mind that John McCain, the eventual Republican nominee in 2008, came fourth in this caucus during the last election.  Polls suggest that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will do well, although Ron Paul has particularly strong local appeal and this may not translate well across the rest of the country. It will be more interesting to see how the other "Anyone but Romney" candidates fare, particularly Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. We will find out later tonight! More information from the BBC here and from the official Iowa Caucus website here. If you have any comments or good links, please let us know.