11/12/2014

[WW] Edward VIII and Nazi Germany

Picture courtesy of the Telegraph UK

Edward VIII, King of the United Kingdom for a mere year in 1936, is well-known for his short reign and abdication from the throne due to his remarriage to a divorcee, but also for the reports that claimed Edward VIII was a Nazi sympathizer and potential spy for the Germans. Despite admitting in his memoirs after the war that he was not pro-Nazi, his actions may have said otherwise.

In terms of love life, Edward VIII was considered reckless and a womanizer by those close to him. He was known to have multiple affairs with married women, including American socialite Wallis Simpson, who would later become his wife. This greatly concerned the monarchs as well as the government because it was against the belief that the head of the Church of England remarry divorced people while the former spouse is still alive. With his choice to marry Wallis Simpson after her divorced finalized, Edward VIII gave up his right to the throne. Edward VIII's younger brother, Albert (who ascended the throne as George VI), named Edward VIII as "His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor", which made it so that Edward VIII could not stand for election nor speak in the House of Lords. Wallis Simpson would henceforth be known as the "Duchess of Windsor".


Against the advice of the monarchy and the British government, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited Adolf Hitler in Germany in October of 1937. This is probably when the trouble began.

Events and facts regarding the time of British efforts in WWII will now be displayed in point form to not bore you all to death:

  • The Duke and Duchess of Windsor gave full Nazi salutes during their visit
  • Hitler believed that the Duke's abdication was a loss for Germany as Anglo-German relations would have been otherwise friendly
  • Some suggest that the Duke had plans for Germany to win the war so that a fascist Britain could be established and Edward VIII could become king again (but these stories have not been confirmed)
  • At the beginning of WWII, the German ambassador claimed the Duke had leaked allied war plans to the Nazis
  • During his occupation as major-general in France, the Duke asked and had German forces place guards at his Paris and Riviera homes
  • Hitler had a plan (which did not come into fruition) to kidnap the Duke in order to force the Duke to support German war efforts
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was so concerned with the Duke's wavering allegiance to the Allies, he ordered covert surveillance of the Duke and Duchess when they came to Florida in 1941
  • The Duke and Duchess had to be court marshaled back to British soil after fleeing to Portugal and staying with a contact with both British and German ties
  • Britain, under the leadership of Winston Churchill, sent the Duke and Duchess to the Bahamas (the Duke became the Governor there) where they could do, what the government considered, the least damage to the British war effort
  • There are rumours that the Duchess slept with the German ambassador in 1936 and remained in contact with him, also suggesting that she was leaking secrets to him
  • There are claims that the British Royal Family, with the use of an MI5 agent, successfully retrieved sensitive letters between the Duke and Hitler near the end of WWII
  • In 2002, the Guardian claimed it had seen 227 pages of FBI intelligence reports and interviews ordered by President Roosevelt regarding Edward VIII's controversial ties with Nazi Germany

Despite the allegations and unorthodox actions of royalty, the Duke was praised for his efforts to combat poverty in the Bahamas and was seen as a sort of celebrity figure in Germany and the United States.

What do you think of Edward VIII? Are you glad he was abdicated from the throne? How would the world be if he had remained as king?

10/10/2014

[FF] Fiction Friday

For this week's Friday post, I decided to create a story based on a dream I had had. I don't claim to be a good writer, so this is definitely not going to be Hemingway. Please enjoy~

Photo credit to Shutterstock.com

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Kate stretched her arms over the steering wheel. She’d been staring at the iPad on her lap for over an hour, sitting at the front seat of the family car in her front driveway. Music was blaring from the inside of the house. Kate’s sister-in-law was having a party and although Kate had nothing against her sister-in-law or her friends, she needed to be alone for a while.
A knock at the driver’s seat window made her jump.
“You’re going to suffocate in there!” yelled Kate’s neighbour, Ryan.
Kate rolled down the window to the sympathetic eyes of Ryan, who had his son bouncing on one arm.
“Hey Ryan,” Kate mustered a smile.
Ryan sighed, his gaze full of understanding and concern.
“I know what you’re doing,” he started, “It’s been four months. You can’t just hide in here and avoid everyone.”
That’s right, Kate thought, it’s been four months. My, how time flies.
“I really don’t mean to pry, but you deserve so much better. A man who ca-“
“Thanks, Ryan. I’m really appreciative of your kind words, but I can’t possibly...” Kate let her words trail off without making a point. She was tired of justifying everything.
“Alright, Kate. Just let me know if you need anything, please.”
Once Ryan was out of sight behind the hedges separating their houses, Kate stepped out of the car.

It had been four months since the news broke. It seemed everyone in the neighbourhood knew about Rob’s affair.
Four months already, huh?
No, it’s been way longer than that.

Kate remembered the first time she suspected Rob wasn’t being faithful to her. Somehow she knew, from the way he was more absent than present, buying extravagant gifts like the 3 carat diamond sitting on her ring finger. Maybe it was also the unfamiliar perfume that radiated from him whenever he came from work.
It wasn’t until Kate found condoms in his blazer pocket, did Kate suddenly realize her suspicions had been confirmed.
How could anyone be surprised though, really? Rob was the managing director of a hip IT firm, who had his employees do most of his job, so he spent most of his time networking and drinking with clients. Not only that, Rob came from a wealthy family who was almost celebrity status in this city. Tabloids were frequently paid by competitive firms to try to find the dirtiest secrets to keep themselves on top of the game.

“You pushed me to tell you,” Rob threatened Kate when she mustered the courage to confront him, “I didn’t want you to know, but you pushed me. It was just a passing thing and now you’ve gone and made it a big deal.”
“I want a div-” Kate began.
“A divorce?” Rob chuckled, “You’re not going to ask for a divorce. You don’t even know what you want. You’re just a little shocked because you just found out. Give it time. You don’t want a divorce.”
What is this? Kate was confused. Why is he being like this?

At the time, Kate didn’t understand why Rob refused to divorce her. But she walked out of the room that day with a secret. A secret that would come out half a year later when Rob and his affair were spotted climbing into a taxi, her arms flailing in the air, clearly inebriated. It turns out the “passing thing” was a young Chinese girl whose only goal in life was to become a model, but failed to land herself a career in the field because she was too easily mistaken for Asian girls already in the industry.
Kate thought maybe then the affairs would end. The competition was not going to let this news go and any confidence in the firm would drop. But the affair didn't end and nor did Kate's marriage. One night, Rob pulled Kate into their room and pushed Kate down at the edge of the bed. His strong body soon followed, pinning Kate’s hands down as he spoke.

“You have to understand something, Kate,” he breathed into her ear, “you love me, right Kate?”
Kate didn’t respond. She wasn’t sure what to say.
“You can’t divorce me. I won’t let you,” Rob continued, twirling a strand of Kate’s hair around his finger, “you will stay in this house and we will remain husband and wife until the day we die. It’s for our own good. Your own good. Got it?”
Kate swallowed, understanding full well that his intentions were to protect his public image. He had to become the perfect husband in order for everything to remain stable in his life.
“Got it?!” Rob thundered.
Kate nodded, too terrified all of a sudden to cry or to speak.
Rob took Kate’s face and planted an aggressive kiss on her lips before sauntering out of the room.

A honk of a car-horn jolted Kate back to her senses.
“Get out of the bloody driveway!” shrieked Kate’s mother-in-law, Linda.
Kate teetered a safe distance away as the driver pulled the van into the driveway and Rob’s mother hopped out of the passenger’s seat. Linda had taken the driver and her friends down to the casino and now they were back to the house, probably because she needed to show off the new antique vase she had won at an auction just yesterday.

“Kate,” said Linda, sounding suspiciously testy, “I’m showing my friends around the house so please get us some tea.” She patted her hand a bit too clumsily against Kate’s, her jade bracelet hitting Kate’s bone causing her to wince. Linda ignored this and ushered her friends, who were now filing out of the van, into the house.

The mistress had met Linda, and instead of being reprimanded for ruining her son’s life, Linda embraced the girl into her life and meets her regularly for dim-sum on Sundays.

Kate straightened her shoulders and waltzed in after the guests into the house.
Entering the kitchen, she found her sister-in-law, Tracy, struggling to open a biscuit tin.
“We ran out of snacks!” yelled Tracy, clearly having been in the loud music for too long.
Kate helped open the tin canister.
Tracy sensed something and lifted Kate’s face with a finger.
“It’s my brother again, isn’t it?”
Kate put on a bright smile, “I’m fine, Tracy. I just hope you’re enjoying your party.”
Tracy crossed her arms, “You’re such a strong woman, Kate, if I were you I would have left the man. But you really believe in his dreams and his ambition.” Tracy’s eyes glimmered under the kitchen island lights, making Kate smile. Kate needed the support.

Just then, a crash could be heard in the living room.
“Aie ya, Rob, watch where you’re going, please! I don’t want to have to send Richard to buy me another one!” gasped Linda.
Kate and Tracy rushed to the living room to see Rob staggering in through the patio doors, looking incredibly drunk, suit disheveled, and a bruise below his right eye.

“YOU!” Rob screamed, pointing firmly at Kate, “IN OUR ROOM. NOW.”

10/08/2014

[WW] Should Canada Join the Attack on ISIS?

"Our biggest problem is our allies."
- Joe Biden (US VP)
on the United Arab Emirates & ISIS

So aside from the vice president's swift kick to his own behind (I know it's not about Canada but damn is it funny), the big question looms over whether Canada should join their allies in the south against the terrorist group, ISIS (I know they are also known as ISIL now, but for simplicity sake, I'm going to just say ISIS).

Photo credit to the Epoch Times

On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, the House of Commons voted on a motion to contribute CF-18 fighter jets, support aircraft and personnel to the US-led coalition for up to six months which passed 157 to 134. As of now, the motion for air strikes are isolated to Iraq, but the Prime Minister believes that Canada is leaving open the option of extending combat help to Syria, only with the support of the resident governments.

Here is a crude and brief summary of Canada's divided stance on the motion:

Stephen Harper wants in...
ISIS has already displayed violence threatening the safety of Canadians abroad and in our country, so you can see why Harper would be angry and passionate about this entire thing.

As of the vote, Harper has promised that there will be no ground expenditure of troops, proposing a six-month long air strike along with their allies to "ensure regional and global security and, of course, the safety of Canadians".

Needless to say, there is also pressure for Stephen Harper to follow the US into combat against ISIS to instill confidence in their Southern allies on ongoing and prospective military action.

The Liberals want no part in this...
The Liberals are concerned that the Harper government isn't being open about their plans for Iraq.

Air strikes should not be considered until other resources, such as training and medical support, are exhausted. Canada should be taking a non-combat approach. The Prime Minister owes the people of Canada facts and clarity if there is a decision to send citizens to fight against ISIS.

The Liberals fear that if Canada engages in air strikes, there will be no turning back or limiting their role in combating ISIS.

The NDP also want no part in this...
The NDP also worries about the lack of transparency and lack of answers by the Harper government to questions like how much the attacks will cost, how long the attacks will last, and what the government has planned if there is no result of the attacks after the proposed 6 months.

The NDP fully support increasing humanitarian aid (on the ground) in Iraq but not a combat mission. Thomas Mulcair, leader of the NDP, believes that Canada should use their status as leaders in humanitarian aid to help those affected by ISIS rather than combat ISIS directly.

The NDP wonders why the Canadian government is jumping to air strikes, instead of pursuing diplomatic means to aid Iraq with their political unrest.

The people of Canada have also spoken...
Comments on media also show a divide among Canadians.

There is no doubt that humanitarian aid is accepted by all, but the combat (in the air) is what has the Canadians in disagreement.

A majority of people (Maclean's says 2/3 of Canadians) support the motion because they believe the West has already taken their sweet time in stopping the actions of ISIS. ISIS has already declared war on anyone that is against their beliefs, so we must fight back.

Others claim that Canada is falling into the trap that ISIS has laid for the Western world. People believe that the resistance groups (nope, ISIS isn't the only one out there) in Iraq and Syria are eliciting responses from the West and that Canada's inclusion in the mission against ISIS would only lead violence to home turf. In other words, people fear that terrorist groups will journey away from Iraq and Syria and target Western countries.


And now I give you all, my lovely readers, the floor.
What do you think about Canada's part in the combat mission against ISIS?

9/28/2014

[WW] Children of a Revolution - Hong Kong

This post is too important to wait until Wednesday. It'll be categorized under World Wednesday for reference-sake.

For those who have no clue what I'm referring to, this is a good article to read: Hong Kong Protests: What You Need To Know.
I want to direct everyone to my best friend's post about this event on his blog here.
Also, for those interested in following live the events as they unfold, I recommend this Reddit thread here.

***NOTE: I am not currently in Hong Kong right now, so I'm only getting my information from online media sources. I encourage everyone to follow various news sources to obtain information.

Photo credit to Tyrone Siu/Reuters

For those who don't know what's going on in Hong Kong right now...tensions have been rising between China and Hong Kong (not that it's a new thing, it's been so since 1997). The recent protests stem from the Chinese government's move to introduce political reform to Hong Kong. Previously, I wrote a post about the Civil Referendum regarding voting for the Chief Executive (here) and briefly mentioned the "White Skin Book", which is how the Chinese government aims to interpret and implement legal reform. These events have all led to the pro-democracy protests known today as Occupy Central (by now, we can even say it's Occupy Hong Kong).

Everyone remembers 6/4 or the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Although these events were set in China, Hong Kong looked to this event as a beacon of hope for democracy throughout the nation. The wounds from then are still fresh.

How are the protests happening right now in Hong Kong going to be any different?

As of up to the minute news (as I'm struggling to find words), the Hong Kong police have been throwing tear gas at protestors, adults and children alike, to deter them from crowding various districts of Hong Kong. A friend of mine reported seeing terrified children witnessing violence from the police.

University and high school children have left their homes and their schools to join in this protest. The city is in total chaos. MTR station entrances are barricaded.

Despite all of this, I am receiving reports that Occupy Central protestors remain non-violent. There are no broken store-front windows and no torched cars. The situation right now involves blocked traffic and barricaded areas. Yet, protestors are using umbrellas and masks to protect themselves from the tear gas and brute force used on them by the police. What madness is this?!


Me in front of the High Court before the lawyers' march in June 2014.
When I took part in the lawyers' march against the "White Skin Paper", I knew that this was only a glimpse of what the citizens of Hong Kong had lingering in their mind. I knew that Occupy Central was looming and that the government was fearing violence on the streets due to violent protests that happened over a dispute over land and housing projects, but one could never imagine the magnitude of support and fight that these protestors have.

I am so proud that the people of Hong Kong, especially young students, are taking the time to educate themselves and stand up for what they believe is right. Their courage is admirable and I wish them nothing but the best.

This is not a conflict that will be solved anytime soon, but it is comforting to believe that there are people willing to stand up to the Chinese government and demand their rights to democracy.

To those in Hong Kong as this is happening, please stay safe.
If you are a part of these protests, definitely stay safe. Stay strong. Stay vigilant. I support you.


9/25/2014

[TT] Out of the Ordinary University Courses

Here's an interesting Thought Thursday topic for the week! This suggestion was submitted by a lovely reader. whom I've referenced in Facebook just in case he doesn't want to be named here (hey, I can edit this, so let me know).

This topic stems from an article found on Stylist UK, an online subscription magazine. Link to the article entitled "Ten Unusual University Courses" here. A similar article can be found here on The Telegraph here.


These are apparently actual courses that are offered in Universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. If you have actually heard first hand testimony of anyone in these classes, please feel free to give me a shout.

Here is the list in accordance to the article and my personal thoughts:

1. New Jersey's Rutgers University's "Politicizing Beyonce" course:
Photo credit to TheOrlandoScene.com

This course gives Beyonce fans a way to analyze her videos and lyrics for credit.

I can see this actually being a legitimate course topic based on the media sensationalizing Beyonce or perhaps this could be a motivational course taken to boost student morale?!
My favourite quote that I must add here regarding Beyonce is: "You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce."
Maybe this course will actually teach me how to utilize my time like Beyonce.



2. University of California at Berkeley's "Simpsons and Philosophy" course.

Photo credit to Lardlad.com
This is cited as a rigorous two-unit course, which pairs Simpsons with the philosophies of Nietzsche, Plato and more.

Okay I can understand this one, especially in relation to media and political propaganda, since the Simpsons often touches on cultural events. Another incredible possibility is film/animation and symbolism.





3. Staffordshire University's "David Beckham" course (BA in Sports, Media and Culture).
Photo credit to Creativeboysclub.com

This course focuses on the rise of stardom that is David Beckham. Topics include the hairstyles that he chooses and his marriage with Victoria Beckham.

This course is similar to the Beyonce class, but more understandable since it's setting prospective professional sports players of life in the spotlight. Quite honestly, I'd probably buy the textbook just for the pictures.






4. University of Baltimore's "Zombie Studies" course.


The course description includes activities like writing horror scripts and analyzing existing zombies in media.

This sounds like a very scary course. For a person who can never stomach/watch a horror movie/film/television show, I doubt you'll find me anywhere near the room that this class is being held. I had to condition myself not to find the Left 4 Dead franchise scary!







5. Occidental College's "The Phallus Course".
Photo credit to Onetribewellness.com

Don't shoot me for the picture. I was on campus and didn't feel comfortable typing phallus into Google Image.

Offered by the department of critical theory and social justice, this course discusses "feminist and queer takings-on of the phallus." Topics include "the relation between the phallus and the penis and the relation of the phallus and fetishism."

Okay, so this is a private liberal arts college that sets its own regulations and course content, which is why I'm sure this course can and does exist. I'm actually quite interested in what type of discussions stem from this course


6. George Washington University's "Fat Studies" course.

Photo credit to Myrecipes.com
This course explores "concepts of fatness and obesity through the realm of film, literature, anthropology and history, throwing the cultural baggage of overweight people firmly into the spotlight".

Wow, no, this is not okay. I love how this course comes from a place that aims to educate people not to discriminate against overweight individuals, but how is this even allowed?!

Perhaps this course should re-evaluate its curriculum and re-brand itself to focus on eating disorders or health studies.





7. University of California's "Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular 'Logic'" course.
Photo credit to TheNYPost.com

So from the sounds of the description from the article, this sounds like a frustration venting class.

I personally think that this could be tacked on to a media related course in legal studies. It definitely frustrates me that people do not understand the difference between how the law works and entertainment. I'll never say no to this type of education!




8. University of South California's "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame".

Photo credit to GirlTalkHQ.com
From the sounds of it, this course applies sociological issues and theories to Lady Gaga. Why they would choose Lady Gaga remains to be seen,

Any class that requires us to analyze lyrics and watch music videos is fine by me. My only concern is that it seems quite difficult to analyze the meaning and reasons behind Gaga's actions without first consulting the great artist herself. What qualifications do these professors have for the issues discussed about her to be deemed as true?


9. Durham University's "Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion" course.


Offered as a part of the Bachelor program of Education studies, this course consists of a series of 22 lectures and 11 seminars, in which they look at JK Rowling's novels to reflect on prejudice and citizenship in modern society.

Not as exciting as learning magic. This course seems like a one-series based English class. Rightfully so, however, that this course be taught in the UK.




10. Reed College of Portland and University of California's "Underwater Basket Weaving" course.

Photo credit to ScoutingMagazine.org
A glorified crafting class or a seemingly useful survival skill, this class involves learning how to weave baskets by soaking them in water.

For those who think their element is water, this seems like a fun thing to do. What's funny about this entire thing is that the phrase "underwater basket weaving" is now a way of saying a course is worthless. Maybe it seems a little far-fetched to deem a university credit, but it's definitely not a bad skill to have.




So tell me, would you like to enroll in any of these classes? Why or why not?