What is this?

Hi! My name is Ulrik, and this is my student blog. My posts will be based on tasks and subjects given to the class by my English teacher Ann. I am currently in my third year at Sandvika High School, Norway.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

9/11 attacks

9/11 2001, the worst terror attack ever seen hit American soil. Two Boeing plains hit the twin towers, another hit the Pentagon; one went down on a cornfield, probably headed for the president. I thing everyone has seen those clips; the towers collapsing, people jumping; almost three thousand people were killed that day.

Today we watched "9/11", a documentary never ment to be, made by two french brothers; Jules and Gedeon Naudet. In 2001, they went to New York wanting to make film about being a probationary firefighter, Tony Benetatos. However, one day, out filming the firemen working on a gas leak, they hear a roar- the camera is pointed towards the sound, by reflex.

What was a normal innocent documentary-film job about a young firefighter, had now turned into filming history. The roar was jumbo jet, hitting the first tower. First on the scene, they were able to film inside the lobby of tower one, filming how firefighters started the demanding walk up over sixty floors; most of them would never come out alive. As the documentary is filmed in the lobby, showing how the chiefs are trying to organize the rescue work, you can hear screams, and bump sounds- people jumping.

The documentary is really showing what happened, from the inside. Few bodies are shown on camera, but there is no need for it either. The look on the firefighters eyes, the running when the tower collapses, people walking like ghosts trying to find their loved ones- the dust. The film is horrible, gruesome in it's way, but still so magnificently made.

Below is a clip from the documentary, showing the collapse from the inside.

Edublogs awards

My nominees for the Edublogs awards 

Best librarian blog, for being an awesome school librarian with an  awesome blog: Metaingrid.blogspot.com

Best student blog, for having a really good and informative blog: http://relatedsignals.com/

Best teacher blog, for using it active in class, posting great tasks and really making a difference: http://annmichaelsen.com/

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"If not me, who? If not now, when?"

Late September, Emma Watson held a speech at the UN. She addressed the importance of feminism, and launched a new campaign, called "He For She." The goal of the campaign is to mobilize men and boys, and make them the advocates for equal rights between the sexes. She started the speech by telling how she became a feminist, and said that:  "I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive."

In her speech, she made it clear how feminism is not a fight just for women, but also a fight for men; equal rights will benefit everyone; socially, politically and economical.

Watson's speech was, I think, a punch in the stomach to so many people, both men and women. Because, Watson has right;"feminism" has become an unpopular word. Very few of my friends, even though they say they want equal rights, would call themselves feminists. What Watson did with her speech, was to remind the world that feminism is not about women gaining power over men, it is simply about equal rights, that will benefit everyone. ¨

I have always regarded myself as a feminist, because I find it absurd that men earn more in salary for the same work as women. It's really quite simple. Unfairness is wrong, and the only way to remove this inequality is to fight for it, and never forget how much those before us had to fight, just to to get where we are today.

Emma Watson's campaign is important, because it is about remembering that feminism isn't a bad word, it is a word that should be won back.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Cameron ministry

On the 11th of may 2010 prime minister Gordon Brown and his Labour government resigned, giving the Downing street nr. 10 keys to  the new Conservative PM David Cameron.

With 36 percent of the votes, Cameron did not form his government alone. Being the first since Churchill, he formed a coalition government; he did so with the 23 percent Liberal Democrats.

Foreign policy

The Cameron ministry has, as most conservatives governments, a pro-NATO attitude, and has taken part in all NATO operation during the four years they have been in office. Cameron has stated that they believe in foreign intervention in order to spread "democracy and freedom", and that the terror-threat must be defeated by power.

The conservation wanted to intervene in Syria, but the Liberal Democrats voted against it in parliament, a major defeat for Cameron; one of the problems of a coalition. After the defeat Cameron stated that "I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons ... It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly."

The ministry is against a full EU-membership, but Cameron believes some of the policies (fishing, military) are good for the UK. Overall they have a conservative attitude on foreign policies, with NATO being an exeption.

Economomy and climate

Some of the Cameron administration’s most important economic goals are reduction of employment and wealth tax. The administration views this as something important because they think this will boost English companies’ ability to compete in the international market. The administration does also wish to increase tax on flying for people who uses air transport a lot as well as remove tax for people who don’t use air transport that often, the administration wish to do this to make people fly less and in that way decrease the total amount of CO2 emission in the UK.

A economy policy that the Cameron ministry focuses on is enviroment. Cameron has descibed himself as "passionate about our environment" and believe that it is our "social responsibility to the next generation". Some of the reforms Cameron would like to introduce is a fair fuel stabilizer which will keep the oil prices stable. As the price of oil goes up, the taxes will decrease, and if the price of oil goes down, the taxes will also increase. Another policy is the taxation cut. The ministry promised to reduce tax on alcohol, corporations and small businesses, as well as increasing the inheritance tax exemption.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

6th June 1944; D-Day

This year is a year with many anniversaries; 100 years since the Great War, 25 years since fall of the Berlin wall, and 70 years since the Allied landings in Normandy, D-Day.

The Invasion of Normandy

In June, 1944, Nazi Germany was crumbling. For five years they had fought against nation after nation, laying most of Europe under occupation. Against them stood the Allied forces; mainly the US, UK, Canada, Australia and exiled troops from the occupied nations- such as Free France.

For several months, the Allied commanders had been planning the biggest military operation in history; the invasion and liberation of Europe, beginning with France. Codenamed "Operation Overlord", the invasion was to take place in Normandy; landings on the beaches and from the air. On a single day, 160.000 allied soldiers were to be put ashore, making way for over one million allied soldiers the following days. The goal of the first day? secure the beaches, crossroads and small towns near the coast- creating what is known as a spearhead. Name of the day? Operation Neptune, Delivery-day.

The operation was postponed several times due to bad weather, but soon the date was set; 6th of June. For a year, allied troops had been training in England, and the scale of the whole thing was meant to surprise the german forces.

The germans was of course expecting an invasion, but exactly how big and where was unclear. With hard fighting both on the Italian, African and Eastern front, the amount of german forces placed in the West was modest. The fortifications along the beaches was however heavy, and "Festung Europa" would not be easy to invade.

American soldiers, first wave, landing at Omaha.
Part of "magnificent eleven",
taken by Robert Capa on the beach.
Notice the falling soldiers.
On the night to the 6th of June, the allied forces crossed the channel. The same night, a number of airborne troops was dropped over inland Normandy
to destroy long-range artillery zeroed in on the beaches. In the morning, the german soldiers placed at the beaches codenamed "Utah", "Omaha", "Gold", "Juno" and "Sword" sounded the alarm, and prepared their positions. In the horizon, as a german soldier told in an interview; "there were more ships than we had men".

At 0630, the landings took place, and especially at Omaha the US-troop met severe resistance. With heavy incoming machine-gun fire, sharpshooters and small-artillery, Omaha became a living hell. In few hours, 3000 american soldiers lost their lives before before they managed to secure the beach. On other beaches the fighting was easier, but still with a high casualty rate. Overall there was at least 10.000 allied casualties on the first day; and the goals of the first day was not accomplished before D-Day+3. German casualties on day one lies at ca 4000.

Remembering D-Day

War cemetery for American soldiers in Normandy
This year, being 70 years since the invasion, is an important year for many people; especially those who was there. Many veterans are still alive, and this is probably the last anniversary with so many attendants. A huge ceremony took place on the 6th of june this summer, with state officials from all the nations involved.
French president Hollande speaking to veterans
during the ceremony

Robert Edlin fought on Omaha with the 2nd ranger battalion. This is an extract from his accounts in the book "The voices of D-day":

"...there were bodies from the I I6th floating everywhere. They were facedown in the water with packs still on their backs. They had inflated their life jackets. Fortunately, most of the Rangers did not inflate theirs or they also might have turned over and drowned.

I began to run with my rifle in front of me. I went directly across the beach to try to get to the seaway. In front of me was part of the II6th Infantry, pinned down and lying behind beach obstacles. They hadn't made it to the seaway. I kept screaming at them, 'You have to get up and go! You gotta get up and go!' But they didn't. They were worn out and defeated completely. There wasn't any time to help them.

I continued across the beach. There were mines and obstacles all up and down the beach. The air corps had missed it entirely. There were no shell holes in which to take cover. The mines had not been detonated. Absolutely nothing that had been planned for that part of the beach had worked. I knew that Vierville-sur-Mer was going to be a hellhole, and it was.

When I was about twenty yards from the seaway I was hit by what I assume was a sniper bullet. It shattered and broke my right leg. I thought, well, I've got a Purple Heart. I fell, and as I did, it was like a searing hot poker rammed into my leg. My rifle fell ten feet or so in front of me. I crawled forward to get to it, picked it up, and as I rose on my left leg, another burst of I think machine gun fire tore the muscles out of that leg, knocking me down again..."

The Scottish independence

On the 18th of September, the Scotts have to make a daring choice. The last weeks a ballot has been sent out to every citizen of Scotland over the age of 16- on it there is a straightforward question; "Should Scotland be an independent country?" yes or no. For many people this will be an easy answer. A scotsman we skyped with in class said it like this; "should you vote with your brain, or with your heart?"- his answer was of course the heart.

What does it take?

So, let us start with a scenario where the Scottish people declare independence; how will this be done? Who will be citizens? what about the currency? The army? NATO? EU? The questions are many; it is not easy declaring independence.

To gain independence, they have to have over 50 percent of the votes; at the moment being, they are somewhere between 30 and 40 percent- meaning that there in reality, despite the voting of the heart, is a slim chance of an independent Scotland. However, all the plans are made by the Scottish government, and everything is prepared, just in case of a majority voting yes. 

For a start, the Scottish government is planning on keeping the GBP- hopefully within a british currency-union. If not, things will become interesting. Everyone born in Scotland, or living in Scotland, will be able to become citizens; it is worth mentioning that Scotland only has 5,3 million citizens- they are in need of people. Government calculations suggests a standing army of 15.000 men, with a active reserve force of 5.000 (similar to Norway). When it comes to the possibility of a NATO-membership, the government is divided. The question really lies on nuclear weapons; the UK uses scotland as a base for NATO nuclear-weapons, and according to the british army there is no other place to place them- the Scottish government would like to have them removed (with or without a NATO-alliance). The case is that those for independence is looking towards Norway and the other scandinavian countries. No EU, perhaps NATO, it's own foreign policy and basically just being an independent nation. 

The arguments of the no-side, is that many big corporations etc is threatening to pull out of Scotland, and that it really is a hassle; especially the healthcare and supplies of medicine is a big concern for many people. There are clearly plenty of those wanting independence in their heart, but still to many believing that Scotland is better of as a part of the UK. 

My expectations

So, I'm a bit late on writing this post (my fault), anyways; This year I have Social Studies, and my expectations are great! It's a follow-up course from last years International-English, but with more focus on politics, culture and history. In other words; it's perfect!

I will once again write posts on a weekly basis, covering subjects ranging from Scottish politics to the first world war.  I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The clash of the subcultures

One of the best movies I know of is The Breakfast Club. One of the reasons I like it so much, is not merely because of the acting skills, or the way it is directed, it is because it shows how these characters, all from a different subculture, works together and learns so much from each other; despite their differences.

The movie takes place at a high school, and the main characters are at detention. The teacher, named Mr. Vernon, are looking over them- and the teenagers are doing what they can to "rebel" against him, though some of them are objecting to it at the beginning. The movie is so special, because it shows the huge variety between the students, and tells the story of how they come together. The character development, and the story line is really special!

The characters are:

John Bender

John is the rebel in the detention group, and the only one who clearly stands up against Mr. Vernon. He is a victim of child abuse, and comes from the working class. In the beginning, he is clearly hostile against the others- but his softer sides shows after a while, and he defends Claire when Mr. Vernon is rough against her. John is in many ways the event-creator in the movie, starting many of the memorable sequences. He is at detention for setting of the fire alarm.

Andrew Clark

Andrew is the stereotypical athlete boy, and is at detention for beating up a student. He is, despite this, quite responsible and stands up for whats right; which we learns outwards in the movie. The reason for him being so "tough", is because of pressure coming from his father. His entire life is guided, and he does not make his own decisions; we learn this in a sequence where they are all telling about themselves for each other, as the time goes by. 

Claire Standish

Claire seems to be the classical "perfect" girl. Popular, with many friends, she comes from a wealthy family, and is at detention for going to the mall during class. She is highly affected by her friends, and her parents are spoiling her, but she is aware of it; painfully aware of it that is. She admits that she feel pressured by her friends, and that she therefore won't hang out with any "unpopular" people. She ends up with crushing on Bender, which she hated at the start. 

Allison Reynolds

Allison is the "weirdo" in the group- but she turns out to be an essential part. She is a quite isolated as a person, and stays quiet during the first half of the film, but burst out some randoms "screams" etc. She comes from the classical middle class, but she is not accepted by her parents; she opens up to the others, Andrew in particular, in the latter part of the movie.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is the typical "geek". He is at detention for bringing a flare gun, which he intended to kill himself with- this because he received an F on a test. He is a careful type of character, but is not affraid of speaking. He comes from the upper middle class, and is under huge pressure from his parents to became a academic. He tries to keep the peace within the group, being sort of a diplomat. He is the one who gives the group it's name.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Object Of Power

A comparison between Orwell's 1984 and North Korea

What is the cause that makes humans rule over other humans, their fellow man, in inhumane ways?  Whether it is behind a red flag, hammer and a sickle, or behind the hatred of the swastika- the human race has throughout history struggled towards the perfect society, that with no weaknesses, that will last a thousand years. Every single time we have tried this, we have failed- we look back, and we say “How on earth could they think like that?”

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he wrote a warning. He wrote a warning against the totalitarian and “perfect” oligarchy. The book was published in 1949, one year before Orwell’s death. Just a few months earlier, a new nation took shape. I will write more about this state, because the similarities between this state and Orwell’s 1984 have since 1949 increased dramatically.

In 1984 we meet Winston Smith, and the fictional country “Oceania”. Winston works in the Ministry of truth- where they, of course, works with the complete opposite. In Oceania, English Socialism (or INGOSC as it is called in “new speech”) is the ruling ideology. The Party, ruled by “Big Brother” controls everything, and Winston’s job is to correct the history- an important part of the system.  "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." (Orwell, 1949)-  That, is the slogan of the Party.

When the Party is consistent and keeps “correcting” the history, the population of Oceania are kept at bay. To eliminate people from history, or give someone the credits for something they did not do, is not something Orwell came up with in his book. We are well known with Soviets censorship and their correction of history- Whether it was old photos of former Party-members who for some reason were no longer in the Party, or historical events not suiting the Soviet cause. Of course, some people could look at the photograph and say “that’s not how it was”, but how can they prove it? If someone or something is written out of history, then it is completely removed; every single newspaper obliterated, and lost in oblivion.
The birth of INGSOC in Oceania happened in the same way as the communism in Soviet and North Korea; the need of a revolution, risen from the ashes of war.
Juche (the idea of being self-provided) is the ideal idea in North Korea. In Oceania the “telescreens” yells out propaganda on how the rations are at an all-time high (even though they are decreasing), and how the factories are producing more than ever before. This is not unlike North Korea at all, where the state-radio is giving the same message to the population. The state-radio is of course the only legal station, and the only one which the North-Korean radios are able to receive.
The US, the enemy, is referred to as the source of all evil. If the economy is wavering, or the nation suffers from hunger or epidemics, the US are being held responsible.
The exact same situation is the case in Orwell’s Oceania. Eurasia is the menace to society, and if something is going badly, Eurasia is to blame.
This is a considerable difference from Oceania, where the majority belongs in the proletarian class.
 Another essential difference, of which it is important to notice, is that The Party in North-Korea, unlike The Party in Oceania, never talks about the class system anymore- it is actually uncertain whether or not the people themselves knows which class they belong to, until they are sentenced for it. We do however assume that those living in Pyongyang belong to the core class, and that they are fully aware that there is a whole other reality outside of the city.
In North-Korea, “thought crimes” are real, and the labour camps and “re-education” camps are well known to the outside world. We are aware of six political prison camps, with over two-hundred-thousand inmates, and about ten re-education camps with over one-hundred-thousand-inmates. Although, having one camp called “prisoner camp nr 25, and another called “re-education camp nr 77”, the numbers are probably much higher.
In the eighties and nineties, former guard and now defector Ahn Myohn-Chol[4] worked in Labour Camp nr 22, or Hoeryong concentration camp as it is called[5]. In his testimonies he describes conditions which can only be compared to that of the camps we saw in Europe during the existence of Nazi-Germany. He tells describes how one third of the inmates in the camp (Hoeryong had around fifty thousand inmates in 1990) had severe damages to their bodies such as missing eyes, missing ears, bashed knuckles, and cuts all over their bodies. He tells how the inmates looked like living skeletons, how these “skeletons” were forced to carry out hard labour, and he describes public executions of elders no longer fit for work. The food in the camp consisted of 300g of corn each day- if the prisoners got hold of meat; it came from rats running around in the camp. When inmates died, they were burned in ovens. 
In order to understand the scale of the camp, it has to be mentioned that it is 25 square miles, and has over one-thousand guards armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades. A guard is never punished for killing a prisoner, and surrounding the camp is a huge system of electric fences and minefields.  New reports suggest that this particular camp was closed in 2012, and that every inmate at that time (thirty-thousand) was starved to death. There are two other camps in the same scale still being operational; Yudok and Pukchang. As mentioned earlier, the sources are few. [6][7]
This is shown extremely well in 1984, where everyone simply accepts that sooner or later, they will be caught- and that thought crimes must be punished. One character in the book, Tom Parsons- the co-worker of Winston- becomes tremendously proud when his daughter chose to report him for thought crimes, since he spoke bad words about The Party in his sleep. It is highly likely that similar cases are taking place in North-Korea.
When ending up in a North-Korean camp however, there are probably few who end up loving The Party. But on the other hand; if you do not know of the outside world, maybe not even the world outside of the camp, maybe you end up loving The Party after all?
It has been rebellions in the North-Koreans camps, but the last one ended up with over ten thousand prisoners being mowed down by machineguns.[8]
Anyhow, the similarities between the North-Korean camps and those of Oceania are not few- they are alarmingly many.
In 1984, we are told about “Big Brother”, the leader of The Party; the Party is the leadership, and on the top of the hierarchy is “Big Brother”. Whether or not Big Brother exists is irrelevant, because he is there; on the posters, in the books, in people’s minds. In North-Korea, there is a similar scenario going on: the Korean Labour Party, The party, is led by the father of the revolution Kim Il Sung- despite the fact that he passed away in 1994. He is looked upon as the eternal leader of the nation, and a crime against the nation is a crime against him- denying his very existence is a crime in itself, just like denying the existence of Big Brother is a crime in Oceania. It hangs huge pictures of Kim Il Sung everywhere, and ceremonies celebrating him is on the daily agenda. Members of The Party, if it is North-Korea or Oceania, live in luxury, while the rest of the people suffer. The current head of state in North-Korea, Kim Jong-un lives like a god, and he enjoys it. Whether or not he is a marionette being controlled by others in The Party is unknown, but there is without doubt others in The Party that has a lot of power. Heads of state comes and goes, sometimes through purges, just like those Orwell writes about in 1984. Not even within The Party can you feel safe.
I do not believe it is possible to understand the process which has taken place over the last sixty years. The nationalism that rose after the Second World War, the need for socialism, and the enclosure that took place after the Korean War; it has been the perfect recipe to the perfect oligarchy- perfect to The Party that is.
The reason why I am using the Soviet communism as an example is that if you want to understand North Korea, you have to understand the Soviet Union. Without Soviet lurking in the background, North Korea would probably look quite different today. 

North Korea became an state in 1949, well backed by the Soviet Union. A few years earlier, 1945, the allied forces had seized control over the Japanese-occupied Korea. The northern part fell under Soviet command, and the southern under American. The following years, the north became more and more independent, before they eventually became an independent state. The Soviet forces backed out of the north and the Americans from the south. North Korea, with Kim Il Sung as leader (a character that has several similarities with 1984 and “Big “Brother”), saw their chance to attack South Korea- and the Korean War started. After this war, North Korea has become the most closed country in the world, while South Korea has moved in the complete opposite direction.

The formation of the North Korean state and the outbreak of the war, in many ways looked upon as North Koreas revolution, has secured them an enemy image for eternity. To the North, it is them and the US, communism against capitalism. To  the North-Koreans the war against USA is continuous, and the propaganda keeps telling them about the “final stage” of the war, which soon will reach it heights, and the rearmament has been going on for ever(at least on paper).

During the 1960’s, North Korea adopted the Songun-doctrine[1], a doctrine that ensures the military full priority. Songun became the national-doctrine in 1994, after Kim Il Sungs death. Before the Songun-doctrine, North Korea practised (and still practises) the Juche-doctrine[2], a doctrine that, at least in theory, puts North Korea in the centre, and declares that they, and no one else, is to be responsible for their provisions- which exclude the possibility of import. The Juche-Doctrine also declares (if we interpret a speech by Kim Il Sung) that North Korea are, in the same way Nazi-Germany looked upon them self, Ć¼bermenchen (better humans/over humans). When looking at North Korea today there are several similarities to Nazi-Germany, like the race-ideology, and their view on “Non-North-Koreans”. It is a very complex view which is hard to comprehend, but that can be connected with the Japanese-occupation, and the years of conflict.  

Juche and Songun have many parallels to INGSOC, and form the basis for a comparison between Oceania and North Korea. The whole idea that the military should be prioritized before anything else is something we read a lot about in 1984- The war against Eurasia rages, and they are in extreme need of soldiers and war material. After a while, it turns out that the war against Eurasia is not nearly as comprehensive as the Party claims, much like the war against the US is described by the Party in North Korea.

But this enemy image; why is it necessary? What is the purpose with the intentional creation of Eurasia, or the US, as an enemy? You will see that it creates unity and solidarity within the people, and gather the people in the fight against their enemy. This especially happens in the time of a great crisis, which is something neither Oceania nor North-Korea has been without. The people are being convinced that if they (or when, as they say) defeats this enemy, then everything will be solved. The North-Koreans has this conception that the Songun-system is an absolute necessity- if they do not have Songun, how can they defeat the US? And if they do not defeat the US, how can they ensure their own existence? 

We could ask ourselves if any of these states has any intention of winning a war- and the answer would of course be no. Oceania is using the war as an eternal source for propaganda, and North-Korea is doing the same. The only essential difference is whether or not the North-Korean population knows that there is no real war at the moment, or if only certain parts of the population knows; It is very uncertain how much information that reaches the people, but we can assume that most people are aware that there is no huge armed conflict going on- unlike Oceania, where everyone believe there is war
North-Korea is, similarly to Oceania, divided in classes. While in Ingsoc-Oceania there is the upper class (the inner party), the middle class (the outer party) and the lower class (the proletarians), North-Korea uses the so called “Songbun-system”[3]. Songbun is a system which divides the people into three very similar classes: “The core class”, “the uncertain class” and “the hostile class”. It is uncertain how many that are in each class, but most people belongs to (if we use a speech held by Kim Il Sung in 1958 as a source) the middle class, about 55% that is.

From the very beginning North-Korea has had a severe judicial system, if it can be called that at all. People are, just like in Oceania, sentenced without any obvious reason. In Oceania, the concept of “thought crimes” is central. Negative thoughts about The Party will be revealed, and those thinking them will be punished.
We have very few sources from these camps: there are reports based on satellite imaging, and a handful of statements from eye-witnesses- both from former guards, and former inmates.

But what is the purpose of these camps? What is North-Koreas motivation? There is not much keeping you from being taken to a camp; criticizing The Party, or just being part of the lower class, can be enough. The degree of your sentence varies from crime to crime, but you will most likely end up spending the rest of your life in the camp without a reel sentence anyways. To punish the family of the prosecuted, known as Sippenhaft in German, is common. The intention of this is probably as simple as just oppressing every doubter of the system. If they punish every doubter, then they are ensuring a dehumanisation of the doubters, and a comprehensive brainwash of the remaining; it contributes in the creation of a twisted understanding of reality among the population. 

Oceania’s labour camps are equivalent with those of North-Korea, with one difference that is; In 1984, Oceania has reached a point where they are trying to torture the prisoners until they fall in love with The Party, before being executed (or in some few cases released)- and they are successful.

North-Korea has, just like Oceania, a system which is based upon snitching- that neighbours reports neighbours, and that brothers report sisters. This is something we know from Soviet, Nazi-Germany and Iran- just to mention a few. The secret police is extremely effective in these countries, and the police known as “The thought Police” in Oceania reflect in the North-Korean “Bowibu”- a police we know very little about, except that they are responsible for the practical work with the concentration camps, and the police-system of the country.[9]

So, it is clear that the fate of the inhabitants of both North-Korea and Oceania is being decided by The Party- but what exactly is this “Party”?

You could ask how on earth North-Korea ended up being a state that is at best comparable with a fictional state from a book. What exactly is the agenda of the North-Korean government? Is there, or has there ever been socialism there? And why has the world for over sixty years just watched them develop like this?
It is important to understand that since the end of the Korean War, the world has done everything in its power to pretend like North-Korea is not a real state- and North-Korea has done everything in their power to follow the “Juche” idea, to be independent. North-Korea has found themselves being in a sort of “Germany 1938 mode” since 1953- just completely closed- and they have buried themselves deeper and deeper in the sand.  

The Party exploited the hatred against the US and South-Korea, and they have cultivated it further. In sixty years, they have made sure that few of those who lived in Korea before the war is alive and they have erased the history from the history books. 
They have made sure to do exactly what is being done in George Orwell’s 1984; they have made the population helpless and one-hundred percent dependent of the state. The Party clutches on to an ideology that does not work at all, other than to keep the population hungry, and at bay. Maybe they are doing it by conviction, or maybe they are doing it simply because the system itself has created an evil circle. How do you stop it? If you ask any question, you will be shot- probably because someone else is afraid of being shot.

And no; of course there is not a hint of socialism in North-Korea. Their system is something of its own; call it communism, fascism, Nazism or Ingsoc- it is still wrong. You will just end up putting a name on a system that may have started with an idea of soviet-communism, but that ended up with something completely different. 

The state controls everything. Not for the benefits of the people, but for the benefits of The Party. Correction; The Party controls everything- because The Party is the state.  They follow their own twisted Juche/Songun ideology, an ideology that reflects in Ingsoc; Oceania in the center, self-contained and with focus on military force- North-Korea in the center, self-contained and with focus on military force.

Why these nations have ended up like this, and what goes through the mind of their leaders other than power, can only be guessed. They have most likely become victims of their own system. The current leader of North-Korea is number three in the line, and to him the system probably goes without saying. What can be done? I do not think anyone can answer that question. O’Brian, a character in 1984, says that the proletarians will never rise up, and that they will never bring The Party to its feet.  That is probably more than the words of a man sickened with power; when North-Korea has been able to keep the system running for so long, just like Oceania, then the possibility of a new revolution is simply not there. The states have utterly control over the population, and the main focus is simply to maintain control. O’Brian puts it like this: Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. “ (Orwell, 1949)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juche. (u.d.).
Harden, B. (2012). Flukten Fra Leir 14.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoeryong_concentration_camp. (u.d.).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_enforcement_in_North_Korea. (u.d.).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisons_in_North_Korea. (u.d.).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songbun. (u.d.).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songun. (u.d.).
Orwell, G. (1949). 1984.
Yodok Stories (2008). [Film].

[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songun)
[2] ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juche)
[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songbun)
[4] (Yodok Stories , 2008)
[5] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoeryong_concentration_camp)
[6] (Harden, 2012)
[7] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisons_in_North_Korea)
[8] (Yodok Stories , 2008)
[9] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_enforcement_in_North_Korea)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

These last weeks we have worked with Alaska on a ww2 project, and this is the text my group wrote:

Norway during World War II

The invasion of Poland the 1. of September in 1939  marks the beginning of World War II in Europe, and by 1942 the majority of Western-European soil was under German ruling.

A German ship was sunk by a British submarine outside the southern coast of Norway the 8. of April 1940, and thus the Norwegian government were alarmed, and started evacuation towards North. The invasion on the following day initially came as a surprise, seeing as Norway had declared themselves neutral in the war. The Norwegian military was backed by French and British forces in the North, however they were outnumbered and unprepared for the sudden attack.. An important thing to note is that the southern parts of Norway were not prioritized, because the government and had already fled north, and the import of iron ore from Sweden to Germany went by railway through Northern Norway to the city of Narvik. Within in the first day of the invasion the Germans took control over big parts of Norway, including the capital, and demanded the Norwegian government and king to capitulate. The king did not obey, and it would be another 1-2 months before the Germans had complete control over Norway.

Even though Norway was under German ruling, the patriotism was strong among many Norwegians. Resistance groups were quickly formed, but were not well organized. In the beginning they mainly printed illegal newspapers, but as the groups proceeded to be more organized, they executed several advanced sabotages, such as “the heavy water sabotage”. Milorg was the main resistance movement in Norway during WW2, and was formed in May 1941 in order to gather the various resistance groups. As time progressed, Milorg became more and more organized. The Norwegian government was in exile in London, and Milorg answered to them. Milorg did not obey direct orders from the SOE(Special Operations Executive), the British government’s organization for organizing resistance groups in occupied countries. However, the Norwegian government had some degree of cooperation with the SOE.

In Norway, several smaller groups under command from London, started to arise. Groups like the “Oslo gang” were responsible for several high-risk operations, such as the sinking of Donau, and bombings of German offices in Oslo. The Milorg groups in Norway received weapons and equipment by airdrops, and to this day you can come across old containers in the forest(mostly empty though). The nickname for the Milorg groups near Oslo became “Gutta pĆ„ Skauen”, which translates directly into “the boys in the forest”.  One of Milorg bases located in Ringeriket, had enough weapons to arm three thousand men. By the end of the war, Milorg numbered 50.000 armed soldiers.

Throughout the war, Milorg groups received weapons, trained saboteurs, and executed a number of missions. However, Milorg was not alone fighting the germans in Norway- several independent groups(though cooperative with Milorg) existed as well, such as the communist Osvald-group.
When the german forces capitulated on the 8th of may 1945, Milorg was given the task of disarming the 400.000 german soldiers on Norwegian soil, as well as arresting traitors and free captivities in the german prison camps.

The Norwegian heavy water sabotage
“The Norwegian heavy water sabotage” is by many referred to as the most important and successful sabotage operation during the entire Second World War. To this date, the operation is used as an example all over the world on how to perform a flawless sabotage operation.
During the World War II, the Germans were trying to make nuclear weapons for use in the war, and they were producing Heavy water, which is needed for the production, in occupied Norway. The Norwegian heavy water sabotage was a series of operations undertaken by Norwegian saboteurs in cooperation with the British special command. The goal of the operations was to blow up the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant where the heavy water was produced.
The first parts of the sabotage were called “Operation Grouse” and “Operation Freshman”. “Operation Grouse” started on 19. October 1942, when four Norwegian soldiers parachuted onto the Hardangervidda to do recon and guide the “Operation Freshman”.  “Operation Freshman” consisted of soldiers from the “British royal engineers baton” who brought explosives and were specially trained to destroy facilities in seconds, using explosives. Unfortunately the glider and the airplane that pulled it, crashed about 250 kilometers away from the landing zone. Only a few crew members survived the crash, but they got captured, tortured and executed by the Gestapo.
After the failed “Operation Freshman”, London decided that a new group consisting of Norwegians was to join the Grouse team, and that they together should carry out the sabotage. The new group of men received the codename “Operation Gunnerside”.They parachuted onto Hardangervidda on 16. February 1943, and they meet up with the Grouse team a week later. Before Gunnerside got dropped out, Grouse had to stay on the Hardangervidda 5 months without provisions in the winter.
On 27. February the group started moving towards the Vemork Plant. They decided to cross the gorge instead of crossing the guarded suspension bridge. They walked along the railway tracks leading to the plant, and waited. During the night, they managed to sneak in and plant the explosives. The explosion destroyed the heavy water cells and 500 kilos of heavy water. There were no prisoners, and not a single life was lost during the operation.
Norwegian special forces still “blow up” the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant several times a year as training, walking the same route as the Grouse Company.
Vemork after Grouse and Gunnerside
Short time after the successful operation, the Germans restarted the production at Vemork. The Americans wanted the production to stop permanent, so they decided to bomb the power plant and factories at Rjukan (the city nearby). the 16. november 1943, 700 bombs of 500kg each got dropped over Vemork and Rjukan. Only 18 Bombs hit the targets and 50 Kg of heavy water got destroyed and 22 civilians died during the attack.
After the bombing the germans decided to move the production to germany. The production equipment and the remaining 600 kg of heavy water was put on a ferry to be transported out of Norway. Three Norwegian saboteurs planted explosives on the ferry and blew it up in the middle of the fjord. The ferry sunk with all the equipment on board and 14 civilians and 4 soldiers died.

Now, we have written about Norwegians who fought on the Norwegian side, but we think it’s important to add that there were also Norwegians serving in the German military service during the Second World War.
We estimate that there were about 15000 Norwegians who signed up for German army, and about 6000 of these ended up serving on the front. They had various tasks, but the majority of them fought against the Soviet forces on the east-front. They were part of the SS (Schutzstaffel), a German military group, independent from the regular German military. A lot of these Norwegians claimed that they wanted to help Finlands in their fight against the Soviets. The ones who didn't fight directly in the war were for instance working in the concentration camps. We know there were norwegian soldiers present in both Stalingrad, and Berlin- as well as the Warsaw uprising. The most famous norwegian regiments in the SS was “Regiment Nordland” “Division Wiking”, “Norges SS” “Germanske SS Norge” the SS ski force, as well as the so called police forces. Over 800 Norwegians were killed on the east front.
Norwegian concentration guards were mainly found in the Stutthof and Mauthausen concentration camps. They either served as regular guards or had a main responsibility for the Nordic prisoners. There were also several Norwegians who served in the German Red Cross, mostly as nurses. Most of the Norwegians who served in the German forces during the war were sentenced to 3.5 years of prison, for treason.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Orwell's Oceania and North korea

So, these days we are starting on our in-depth project in English, and I am writing an essay compering the ideology "INGSOC", which is a fictional ideology from George Orwell's book "1984", with the North Korean Communism. Orwell wrote his book at the same time as North Korea came to existence, and the development in North Korea since that time is quite frightening, and has a lot in common with Oceania(the nation in which 1984 is taking place).
I will post the whole essay here when it is finished! If you have not read 1984, I recommend it strongly- since it is one of the most important books of the last century.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The bottled dream

The world is at an water crisis- you may not realize it, but it is true. The shortage of water around the world is starting to become a serious problem, and peoples will to do something about it does not seem to be there. Water is the source of everything on this planet, and everything we make, eat and drink is reliable on water, or is water. But the water disappearing from the major reservoirs is only one part water problem; the contamination of the existing drinking water, the tap water in peoples homes, is causing diseases and a high number of problems, mostly ignored by the government. So not only is the drinking water disappearing, but we are poisoning what we have left.

Because of the poisoned water, people tend to by bottled water- the pure, clean, highly controlled and regulated water you can by on the local supermarket- at least, people think it's cleaner and purer than the tap water. Bottled-water is not only, in many cases, just as contaminated as the tap water, but it is simply unfair to make the worlds population dependent on it.
Water is the one thing we are one hundred percent dependent on, and if we were to say that "ok, so the tap water is contaminated, but lets focus on clean bottled water"- then the only way of getting, what might be cleaner water, is by buying it. So..if you can not afford to buy the bottled water, then you have to drink the tap water.
The problem right now however, is that people think the bottled water is cleaner- which is wrong. A 2010 test showed that 70% of the most popular bottled water-brands contained much more bacteria than the tap water, and sometimes one hundred times more that the permitted limit. The companies tapping the water is using pictures of glaciers, and are naming the brands after famous mountains- making the impression that it's pure- however they are often following other rules than the public tap-water systems, and they are not forced to do the same testing of the water. But there has been done tests, and traces of birth control pills, steroids, painkillers and much more are found in the bottles, as well as the tap-water.

The point is, that being dependent on bottled water is not a solution to anything- it is simply a bad idea. Today we watched a documentary called "the last call of the oasis", and it deals with this exact subject. In the documentary they use Singapore as an example of how to solve the water shortage-crisis. There, they recycle water- and they have been able to get past the so called "yuck" factor. People seem to forget that all water is recycled in nature, so does it really matter if we speed up the process and recycle it our selves? In Singapore they have managed to get acceptance from the consumers, and the sewage is processed into pure drinking water. It is probably as simple as that; get past the "yuck" factor, and start recycling water.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Joy Luck Club- First impressions

The Joy Luck Club is a novel written by Amy Tan, and tells the story of four Chinese immigrants and their four daughters, who forms a club- The Joy Luck Club. In the club they play mahjong for money, and the book is structured much like the game. With four parts, divided into sixteen chapters and sixteen different stories- all related but told from a different point of view.

I have now read the first chapters of the book, and I must say it's really interesting and catchy. I am not really a "reader", I don't read many books a year, and when i do it's mostly biographies etc, but I am looking forward to reading the rest!

Happy new year!