Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

11 Things You Might Not Know About Barack Obama

Monday, August 4th, 2014

nn Today is the 53rd birthday of the 44th and the first African American President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. Even though people may know much about President Barack Obama, but there are still many things about this charismatic personality that you might be unaware of. On his birthday, we would like our readers to know a few more interesting things about the most popular world leader.  

 Nickname Is “Barry”: Barack Obama was known by his classmates as “Barry” when he was growing up in Hawaii, but preferred to be called Barack when he reached University.

Obama Is Bi-Racial. Barack Obama is a first bi-racial president of United States of America. He inherited equally from his father and mother. He inherited his skin-tone from his Kenyan Father, Barack Obama Sr. whereas his eyes and facial shape from his mother Ann Dunham, a white woman from Wichita, Kansas. “My father was black as pitch, my mother white as milk” – Barack Obama.

Obama Loves Playing Basketball: President’s favorite sport is basketball and he has a powerful force on the basket ball court. Even because of his famous double pump, left-handed shot at basketball, he was named as ‘O’Bomber’ at high school. Luol Deng was his favorite British professional basket player.

He’s Read Every Single Book In Harry Potter Series:  Barack parting the watersObama has almost read all seven books of the most popular J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Book Series. He read these books to his daughters, Malia and Sasha, who are the fans of the magical series.

His Inspirations: The three men who inspired him the most were Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch- a Pulitzer Prize- winning book about Martin Luther King is one of his favorite books. Besides this, his  other favorite books including  Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Shakespeare’s Tragedies, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lincoln’s Collected Writings and The Bible. These books are also listed on his Facebook page.

He Is Left-Handed: Barack is the sixth post-war President who uses left hand to write. The President recounts that he was often punished with a ruler for writing with his left hand.

640x170He Cannot Stand The Taste Of Ice Cream: According to a survey, ice cream and frozen novelty treats business alone generated more than $11 billion sales in 2012 in US. And every year 15 quarts of ice cream is consumed by average Americans. But the current president of America has a great distaste for all types of ice creams. His disliking for ice creams started during his childhood when he once employed in a famous Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop in Honolulu, Hawaii

Favorite Movie: In an interview, the President of United States revealed “Casablanca” as his favorite movie. He also stated that he is also the biggest fan of 1975 Academy-Award-winning Jack Nicholson hit, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. His other favorite movies are: The Godfather (1972), and The Godfather: Part II (1974).

He Experimented With Drugs As A Teenager: In Obama’s firstbarack book, “Dreams From My Father“, he had confessed that he experimented with marijuana and cocaine as a teenager. He did not try the Heroin as he did not like the supplier. Now he considers it was a fault and says that he is not proud of it.

Obama Is Addicted To Blackberry: The most powerful Man of USA is addicted to Blackberry. He has habit of constantly checking his BlackBerry. He is so addicted that he has been forced to hand it over for security reasons.

Obama Won Two Grammy Awards: US first African American president, Barack achieved not one-but two- Grammy awards for the audio version of his bestselling memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” and his book, “The Audacity Of Hope”.

So these were the list of fascinating facts on Barack Obama. Please share your thoughts and let us know whether you liked the article in the comments below.


  • Chicago Tribune
  • Wikipedia

How the World Changes

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Guest Author: Cathleen Miller

deceptively sweet for webIn my life there’s been a recurring theme: I’m sitting in my study trying to write—between considering bankruptcy, wondering should I get a job, contemplating running off to South America and changing my name to Catalina—when the phone rings. And suddenly everything changes.

That’s what happened the morning the call came offering me the deal to write Desert Flower. And then four years later when the United Nations called me in California and asked if I’d like to write the life story of their top female leader, Nafis Sadik.

Such an innocuous thing, a telephone, that you don’t realize till years later how picking it up can send you in an unexpected direction and change your life. In this particular case, that direction was east, first to Manhattan to interview Nafis and her colleagues at the UN. Dr. Sadik had been named “One of the most powerful women in the world” by the London Times because of her groundbreaking work in women’s rights, so I knew I’d be in the presence of greatness. But I didn’t know I’d spend the next 10 years of my life delving into the source of that greatness.

By the time I finished Nafis’s biography, Champion of Choice, I hadMiller_cvr_final.indd orbited the globe to interview some of the most acclaimed minds of our time, including several female heads of state. What I came home with felt like a PhD in leadership and diplomacy, a deep understanding of how Nafis and her cohorts had changed the world.

The watershed event where this change took place was the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo where Nafis received the signatures from 183 governments agreeing to females’ rights to contraception, education and health care. The nations committed to create access to these opportunities back home in the coming years.

The media usually focuses on the depressing facts of destruction and decline; but thanks to Nafis’s decades of effort here is one startling and earth-changing achievement: when this ob-gyn started with the UN Population Fund in 1971 the average global birthrate was six children per mother. By the time of her retirement 30 years later, that birthrate had been cut in half, and much of it’s due to her paradigm: birth control + education = a reduction in the world’s population.

March is Women’s History Month in the U.S. and the thing I am most proud of in Champion of Choice is that built into the story of how Nafis became “one of the most powerful women in the world” is the information on how she did it, in case others reading her biography also have a secret desire to change the world.

It’s my small contribution to women. After all, my life was changed by access to birth control and education…oh, and the telephone.

About Author:

Cathleen Miller’s latest book, Champion of Choice, the biography of UN leader Nafis Sadik, has been named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Biographies of 2013. Her previous work includes the international bestseller Desert Flower, which was adapted as a feature film. Miller’s travel essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times. 

Building Democracy in Japan: An Insight

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Guest Author: Mary Alice Haddad

What is going on in Japan?  The staid, stagnant nature of postwar Japan politics seems to have been upended.  Contemporary Japanese society and politics have seen dramatic transformations in the last few decades, upsetting many of our understandings and stereotypes about the country. Building Democracy in Japan examines contemporary Japan as part of a continuing story of democratization and change.

Building Democracy in Japan uses the Japanese experience to ask broad questions about democracy and the democratization process: How is democracy made real?  How does an undemocratic country create new institutions and transform its polity such that democratic values and practices become integral parts of its political culture? Through investigating the answer to these questions, the book tells the bottom-up story of Japan’s democratization process.

The fundamental argument of Building Democracy in Japan is that democratization is a long process that involves the mutual adjustment of imported liberal democratic values, institutions, and practices with the political values, institutions, and practices that are present in the country prior to the onset of the democratization process.  Furthermore, it argues that Japan reached a generational “tipping point” in the 1990s when the generations of Japanese who were educated in a democratic Japan reached a majority of the voting population and took over many key leadership positions in government, business, and civil society.  This new generation of democratically educated Japanese had different ideas about the appropriate role of government, citizens, and business in society and began to make profound institutional and cultural changes to Japanese political culture.

The book is organized into sections that focus on the struggles with democratization in the government, civil society, and in individual lives.  The sections about the government examine the ways that government has become more transparent and accountable, even as the reach of its power has expanded.  One of the civil society chapters looks at “traditional” civic organizations that existed prior to the war and have persisted and evolved in the postwar period, changing from undemocratic organizations structured to support a fascist military regime to democratic groups that help citizens get what they need from their government.  The other civil society chapter examines “new” groups that formed after the war, groups that were founded on liberal democratic principals and have found ways to meld those ideals with important tenants of Japan’s traditional political culture.  The chapter examining individual Japanese responses to the democratization process focuses specifically on women, finding that democracy has had a paradoxical effect on women’s power, expanding their power over their individual lives, but reducing their collective power to influence society.

These broad arguments about the long social and political processes that lead to dramatic political, social, and economic changes is told largely through stories of real people on the ground.  The most fun and exciting aspects of the book can be found in the nuanced and often hilarious stories of communities, organizations, and individual Japanese as they struggle with transforming their political culture.

The book contains stories of how a neighborhood association chief stands up to his city government, shifting the power dynamics in his town from one where the city identifies the problem and tells the neighborhood association what to do to one where the neighborhood association identifies the problem and then tells the city government what to do.  It tells the story of how the Association of New Elder Citizens’ finds ways not only to improve the health and welfare of its senior citizen members but also to reach out to children and help them learn to become good democratic citizens that contribute to a more peaceful world.  It recounts the story of a young mother who decides to marry a foreigner and then quit her job rather than face the stress of combining motherhood with career, demonstrating her both her increased individual power to make decisions about her own life but perhaps a reduced collective power to influence politics.

It is through these stories that we can understand how citizens make (and remake) democracy around the globe.  Readers will finish the book with a much richer and more personal understanding of contemporary Japanese political culture. The author hopes that learning more about Japan’s democratization process will also cause readers to reflect on the politics in their own countries and how they may be contributing to democracy at home.

Mary Alice Haddad is an Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. Her scholarship studies comparative politics, with a focus on civil society, and a regional specialization in East Asia. She is the author of Politics and Volunteering in Japan: A Global Perspective (Cambridge, 2007), Building Democracy in Japan (Cambridge,  2012), numerous articles and book chapters, and has delivered more than 25 invited talks and conference presentations. She has received numerous awards and fellowships from organizations such as the Japan Foundation, the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, the East Asian Institute, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Teaching Politics and International Relations

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Guest Author: Dr. Simon Lightfoot

In the UK there is a joke about buses. You wait for ages and the three show up! Having waited ages for books on teaching and learning in Politics and IR to be published, two new volumes are published, both considering to what extent politics and IR are different from other academic subjects and also how to teach the subjects in an engaging way.

One key issue for politics and IR is that the subject matter is constantly changing as a result of events (wars, financial crisis, elections, change of leadership etc). How do we as teachers keep on top of these changes and perhaps more importantly how do we encourage our students? One way (as discussed by Stephen Thornton in the Gormley-Heenan and Lightfoot book and by Kohen in the Glover and Tagliarina book) is via new technologies. Twitter, RSS feeds and social media provide new ways for students to engage with an ever changing world. Our role as teachers is to ensure they use these resources in a critical manner. Other examples in the new book by Glover and Tagliarina show how films, graphic novels and cartoons can be used to engage students in political debates beyond the book. Given these technological developments, it is crucial that our practice in the classroom remains as engaging as possible, so thought needs to be given to how to teach small and large groups of students.

The other key issue in teaching politics and IR is the fact that we are dealing with opinions and values (both our own and the students). How should we as academics approach the issue of “bias”-declare our beliefs and values up front or aim for a pedagogic neutrality? Some beliefs or political positions may not be that straight forward –it might be easy to declare yourself as a democrat or a republican but what about when it comes to the issue of abortion? The use of language also becomes important –the famous adage about “One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter”. The current situation in Gaza (November 18th 2012) is clearly a topic that must be discussed in politics and IR courses but how do you approach the discussion if your class has divided opinions? These issues and more are discussed (along with some possible tips) in the Gormley-Heenan and Lightfoot book, Teaching Politics and International Relations“.

Both books contain helpful tips for colleagues to reflect upon and both complement each other very well in terms of their content.

Dr. Simon Lightfoot is a Senior Lecturer in European Politics and POLIS Director of Student Education, in the University of Leeds. Before he came to Leeds since 2005, Dr. Lightfoot worked at Liverpool John Moores University. He has been a visiting fellow at the National Europe Centre, Australian National University and the Corvinus University of Budapest. He is co-organiser of the UACES Research Network “The Governance of Sustainability: Multiple Dimensions, Multiple Approaches” and the EADI Working Group ‘Development Aid of the Non-DAC Donors’.

He has an interest in learning and teaching issues. In 2009 he won the Political Studies Association’s Bernard Crick Prize for Outstanding Teaching and was awarded a full University Teaching Fellowship.

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