Getting Inside Labour

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What really happened at the general elections, this year?

Labour’s recent defeat in the general elections has to be one of the most shocking episodes in British political history. This party is regarded to be centre-left politically and is founded on social democratic and democratic socialist ideals, stemming from a trade union (labour) movement that began in Europe, during the industrial revolution. Keir Hardie, the first Labour Member of Parliament, was one of those important local figures, who is today considered to be one of the founding fathers of the party.

The party has spurned out many great Prime Ministers, from Ramsay MacDonald to Clement Attlee, but can we really see the party stand high beneath these greats’ shadows, despite what by now should be a regular understanding – political highs and lows. The biggest challenge facing the party isn’t divisive behaviours or difficult political strategies, it is how to make sure it can break apart the Conservative government.

The party sometimes feels disenfranchised from the working-class, from centre-left voters and this must change for them to win back their political standing. Whenever there is an improvement in the previously-sluggish economy, the welcome change is attributed to the Conservatives, instead of sharing it as a cross-party effort, in the least. This isn’t entirely because the financial collapse was all about banks and important global finance organizations, and Labour’s inability to do something about the recession.

Labour did a great deal to suggest that it could stand to gain plenty from the former general elections fiasco in 2010, that saw the Liberal Democrats joining hands with the Conservative Party, in power. A lot of Liberal Democrat voters saw this as a treacherous move because they felt that if a coalition was to be formed, then it should be with the party that they have most in common with: the Labour Party.

Many voters who had suggested they would vote for the Labour Party in the elections, in the end, surprisingly refrained from participating in the elections. There is still some confusion over what the voters who shifted towards the Labour Party, in the end, achieved for the values they identified with, within the party. But what we do know is that earlier on voters had defected to the Tory Party because the Conservative Party embodied a sense of responsibility towards the economy recovering, because they believed that the bankers are not at-large really contributing to the recession.

Finally, in Scotland there is a great deal of sentiment about unity of the Kingdom. Plenty of voters have been defecting here and there since the positive end to the referendum but it has left so many voters reluctant to be considered Scottish Labour supporters, instead of SNP voters. I personally like the idea of Scottish voters approving off the SNP more than the Labour Party in government because they are after all the single biggest party here but I do not quite understand where their dissatisfaction levels with the whole democratic equation in the Kingdom is coming from because political disagreements are after all a part of the whole picture of Westminster.

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What Type Of Suitcase-Packer Are You?

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When you prepare to go on a holiday, how much thought do you put into your luggage?

I am an Over-Packer

A packer who does not know how to sort their items in a
luggage is a confused packer. Their minds are filled with questions over what
to pack and what to not. But it need not be this way because travelling to
Valencia in Spain should be looked as a fun experience, and packing for it
needs to double up as something of that sort too.

An over-packer however is
always busy pondering over the latest questions about a trip: where to go for
fancy-dress parties? Should I pack a raincoat and an umbrella? What if I have a
lot of social events to attend and not enough outfit changes for me through
them? Over-packers like to think that they have thought of it all when it came
to packing “the essentials”, aside from maybe how to close that luggage now
before taking it with them to the airport.

I only have LV Carry-Ons

A carry-on packer can also be termed as a light packer. They
like to plan ahead and organize all of their items. As minimalist travelers,
they can be practical and versatile with their clothing choices. They are
effortless in the concept of mix-and-match with all of their essentials. They
dislike having to lug around a lot of Louis Vuitton cases and check them into
the baggage compartment and then maybe even think of all of the extra fees they
have to now pay for not having thought through packing before arriving at the airport.

Smart Packers

Most travellers worry about packing – it is almost a
universal worry. When you are a smart packer, as a traveler you will have all
of the hacks to packing. You will know how to fold your socks into your shoes
to save space, you will Sellotape your shampoo and conditioner bottles, just so
they are not everywhere inside your luggage, and all over your beloved Dartmouth
green jumper, when you have finally arrived at your favourite hotel at the
Trafalgar, and you will have your jewellery items untangled and strung through
straws – ready to wear to the first tourist spot you want to visit.

The Last-minute Packer

Life with a last-minute packer must be the most hectic idea
imaginable – they always avoid packing for a holiday. They have no organized lists
or list of items to go through so when it is time to pack they are running all
over the house trying to finish the task and also avoid missing their flight.
Just like a tornado, the packer is busy throwing anything he can think off into
his suitcase at the last minute – depending on how much practice he has got he
can have everything done right or he might just remember on the plane that he
has forgotten to bring polos or any ties.

Singapore’s 50th Birthday

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Singapore is celebrating independence from the British Empire, this month.

Singapore is turning 50 years this month – a birthday that also marks independence from the British Empire. It’s a tiny state that is an island, and was thrown out of an union with Malaysia in 1965 for which there was no survival technique that seemed in sight for Singapore. But today it is one of the most affluent nations in the world, praised for it’s environmentally-clean government, love for being ordered, and efficient. Taxes are low in the country, it has good public services, and is globally ranked, all the time, highly, over ease-of-business.

Singapore was once upon a time very poor – it had no water, no hinterland and a population of Chinese, Indian and Malays, who never got along. It faced competition from the bigger-in-size Indonesia, and the relatively more populated with similar people, Malaysia, who could overrun it, without a moment’s notice. The founding father of Singapore, Lee, once called the tiny state an absurd thing, but I grossly disagree because lands don’t come built, they have to be build and that is a mighty lot of hard work.

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Many leaders in Singapore, have this insecurity about how it’s national finances don’t have enough transparency – they prefer to use the word mysterious, even though it sounds a whole lot like there is something wrong there with the mysteriousness, that there is a requirement that all men serve in the armed forces for two years (I doubt holidays count much but it sill gives many insecurities!), and the government’s sordid support for manufacturing, and it’s ability to control how speech flows in the country, without making it look like a Communist state, at all.

Not that there is nothing wrong with being a Communist state because we do not have an unspoken Cold War with China or something, like China and Japan, officially does, but it is a matter of pride for us that we can ensure so much control politically in a state, that is democratic, not socialist. Singapore is more secure today than it has ever been, unknown to the leaders of the land today. Relationships with Malaysia are blossoming, as are ASEAN trade ties and territorial integrity is not under attack at all.

There is no opposition here, but the government survives just fine in policymaking without it, earning accolades along the way. Many consider Lee to also be responsible for all of this success in policymaking because for him Singapore operates a clean, slick and pragmatic rule. The People’s Action Party is the only party to have never been out of power in the industrialized world, but some critics suggest that people here will need more options and more rigorous, clear and new checking because even though it has been running so great all this time, it cannot sustain itself in the long run. I don’t know what to say to those absurd insinuations but this: the way forward is to craft good policies, that know how to address an evolving and positively growing Singapore, absolutely nothing else.

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The Argument For Darwinism

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Evolution, generally speaking is a very broad term in science, and it is a concept most scientists believe in. The number of scientific believers in creationism is very low and I am not one of them because I am a firm believer in religious texts prescribed to us by the Church of England. But evolution, as Charles Darwin sees it is very different from evolution in general because his theory revolves around natural selection and not really only about genetic descent throughout the ages from an ancestor that was similar to us.

In this retrospect, evolution doesn’t sound so much different from creationism because religious texts believe that after God created Adam and Eve, and the serpent tricked it so that they got banished from Heaven and fell to Earth (the serpent, meanwhile, grew deadly), the whole human race soon began to grow. But the similarities end there – at the thought of the origins because evolution prescribes to the idea that human beings evolved from our nearest mammal: extinct humanoids.

Darwinism believes that new species only came about through repeated sets of change in biological structures as life on Earth progressed through the ages. If you wanted to get into the whole argument over which is more profound: religious texts that date centuries or scientific theories, don’t even go there – you are fighting a losing battle.

It’s because both arguments are starkly opposite from each other and neither can just be crossed out to help simplify your thoughts. You have to understand how theology is related to evolution, because as Richard Dawkins has stated in his book The Selfish Gene (1976): genes mutate and grow, not one particular organism.

I do identify with this thought pattern, because it satisfies both ends of the spectrum of this debate: natural selection can help explain many fundamental theories if you can connect it to the age old learnings religious texts have taught generations. It has taught us that the universe came into existence on a particular date, that humans are products of creationism but then as science grew and with it brought new questions to the front, somewhere along the line, history and science became two opposing sides.

This is, however inaccurate I strongly believe, because they are in fact two sides of the same coin: Darwinism predicts that human beings evolved from humanoids that can be presumed to be genetically close to us. Nevermind, that unlike dinosaurs who no longer exist but their shrunken evolved form still does as flying birds, apes still walk the Earth, alongside humans (their cousins, from extinct humanoids), it also raises some probing questions over this less-well-liked-by-the-public theory: are you arguing for genetic change, that sometimes remains stationary and sometimes doesn’t or are you talking about the relation biological diversity has with each other?

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Noodles in India: The Maggi Scare

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Consumer concerns in India are already being addressed over the noodles brand, but can a scare really scare people off Maggi?

Nestlé is a prime food maker in the world and their presence in the Indian market for basic snacks, such as noodles, helps the country to expand it’s horizons in the easy meals department. However, recently a scare there over the controversy that their products contain high levels of lead, which can pose as a serious and dangerous health risk, means that more than just consumption confidence has been damaged.

Following the allegations, the noodles went through numerous further tests and it was revealed that the snack was in fact safe to eat. This food test was carried out on over 1000 packs of Maggi’s 2-Minute Noodles, by internal examiners, but another separate test was also conducted independently, which received positive results, as well.

Maggi noodles became an after-school meal for numerous school children across India, during the ‘80s. Enjoyed by mostly the middle-class, somewhere around a fifth of the revenue of

Nestlé

India is accrued from the sell of noodles. Although, this fact has been cast in doubt over the recent controversies as shelves of the noodles have been cleared to quench food fears, there is no denying the importance of the food product in India.

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Colleges, in and around, India carry stalls stocked with Maggi noodles, and even roadside vendors, shops in rural areas, can be seen peddling around with this ubiquitous snack. This decline in consumer trust comes at a time when there has been a global shift towards preference over healthier and fresh food choices.

This trend is a stark contrast to the growing culture of relying on fast food that had sprung up in India in the ’80s. Maggi’s noodles could be cooked in just two-minutes and many in the population there found that idea both fascinating and simplistic. Maggi actually has it’s roots in

Nestlé, since 1947, when India became independent from the British Raj.

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At the time, Maggi was a separate entity but it was bought in by

Nestlé

at home first, before proceeding to set up a local branch of the company in Punjab in 1961.

Nestlé

played an important role in growing the milk economy of the state of Punjab, in co-operation with politicians, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, who was a firm believer in the policy choice.

Maggi was grown across India, with this policy in mind and for the first few years it dominated the instant noodles market before Nissin’s Top Ramen noodles hit the shelves in the ’90s, at which point the company began to lose out it’s revenues to it’s formidable rival. But no matter how you look at it, the Maggi noodles brand from Nestlé seems set on retaining it’s crown as “the favourite noodles of India”, irrespective of controversies – that is a welcoming thought, to think about for one of the most trusted food brands in India.

Teenagers of Today

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Teenagers are this breed of people who like to make their meals, cram as much sleep as possible inbetween long hours of schooling and hate washing the dishes.

Teenagers in England have long been, since the days of Oscar Wilde, considered to be much the same like teenagers in America. It is human nature to bond with people who are similar to you: rural countryfolks from the South are more like country people from Yorkshire Dales, and people growing up in metropolitans, like NYC find that they have more in common with Londoners. Even though the same language ties separate communities together, there is still a lot of difference in behaviour from one teenage society to the next.

In England, most teenagers these days spend the largest portions of their day in a schooling atmosphere. Some take up jobs to earn pocket money, a really small enough allowance bordering on 10 quids. These jobs, ranging from a newspaper boy to a shop shelves stacker, provide teenagers with an alternative lifestyle, that is different from the rigidness of schools. Sometimes that can be a good way to balance out a young person’s needs for both fun and money to spend, casually.

Young children now are far more privileged than they used to be in past decades. Earlier on, for example, if you held music as a passion, then you had to go to the records store to purchase your favourite music. That is the only way most of them could also afford to listen to music – by sampling the records in the place. Nowadays, all you need to do is press a button on a technologically-advanced fancy platform, and you can find yourself comfortably sitting on your couch, with a pack of crisps and sampling separate genres of music.

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A lot of the time back then was also spent socializing, even though it was more difficult to be mobile whilst you do so, unlike now. Teenagers love to haunt ice-cream sundae shoppes over the weekend and getting to one, close to your neighbourhood is simple and fast, leaving kids to blissfully invest more time in managing other issues: such as which record to purchase after having spent thirty minutes, listening to samples?

There was less mixing of sexes back then too, unlike for teenagers of today, who not only go to those schools, they also find it difficult to live in a teenage world, where they do not have a single member of the opposite sex as a friend. All these drawbacks are commonplace themes of a society in progress but it is worth noting that modern society comes with it’s own set of immaculate troubles.

Women were more well-groomed in the ‘40s in comparison to today’s youths preference of excessively casual fashion, and they were also more conservative than many of today. Sunday meals with family was a priority or an important event of the week, because it meant good food, it meant a good time, it meant good conversations about cultural topics. Now, all of this has been substituted with a meal, with your boyfriend or a hair salon appointment.

Those frivolous attitudes were always present, like thinking about money for dates, talking about dates with a female pal, obsessing over a boy they really like – if there has been one improvement in social attitudes towards teenage romances it would simply have to be that women are now more free to act as they wish with a man in public, than previously. Earlier on, any remote signs of public display of affection, would be booed out and no one likes to have that kind of a humiliation, least of all infront a man they are desperately trying to win over.

Teenage life is not what it used to be but that is a good change. This change has made it possible for youngsters to enjoy their life at a faster pace than the generations of the past. It has enabled so many to experience different cultures, sometimes just a neighbourhood away. Teenagers can now enjoy food from around the world, only a grocery chain further than the last in the locality. They can wear fashion from all decades, they can enjoy an experience of washing because of modern appliances, by reading a book until it is done, and they can, in short, have a much more comfortable and delightful life, than ever thought of before for teenagers.

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Rethinking The Greek Life

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For many students across the United States, the Greek life is the central point of getting a college education. It is similar in nature to our relationship with cheap and friendly night outs, pub-crawls, pub visits, filled with booze and random making-outs that you will probably not remember the morning after. As unwise as that idea is, soaking in that torpid culture seems like such a waste of your college fund.

When I wanted to go to university, options in America were not really one of my priorities because I wanted to get my first degree at home, I did not want to go to another country for it. Because I had setout to become an academic, early enough, I knew that in my life there would never be just the one degree, and the one big graduation, and that would be it. I needed to do a handful of degrees to even get anywhere in my life, and I was pleased with it. In America, the college system is amazing though, my particular favourite is Yale University, known to be really rubbish for the Greek life but amazing for the academics and the New Haven scenery.

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But coming from a British culture, I do not understand the obsession over alcohol and groups/societies. We can drink the moment we turn 18, unlike Americans who first taste a bottle of beer, when they are 21. You would think the higher threshold of maturity would be enough to motivate you to not make such a bid deal out of a pub atmosphere but they are nothing like that, they always want to soak in a pool of wine, make-out with hot girls and wake up the next day with a hangover and think if they actually did kiss that girl last night, after the quarterback game, or was that just his roommate’s dog that licked his face, as he lay there on the foot of the bed.

A fraternity or a sorority (groups/societies, for us) is a reflection of who they are as people. For example, I am someone who loves to volunteer, someone who likes to make my local community a better place, whilst there are others who might enjoy a game of soccer (football) a-tad-too-much. It helps you belong better at college (uni) so another reason for joining a particular fraternity, is to try to make new friends.

The best colleges in America for the Greek life, are Dartmouth College and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and don’t worry there is never any pressure to drink up! A lot of different kind of students are involved in fraternities and sororities, so even if there is pressure to be involved more, or be outcasted, you can do a lot more than just party. The pubs here are not high-strung, there is a good diversity to the crowd, and a lot of the environment involves academics. But should we really obsess so much over a mug of beer and making-out, now that you can finally do so much of both, drunk?

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Cherry Picking The Next Labour Leader

It is that time of the year again. As the Tories rant on for 5 4.8 more years in Westminster, over how much David Cameron wants Great Britain to stay in the EU, surrounded by a package of moderate reform proposals, we are also in deep waters about the position of Labour leaders. But first things first, how much trouble is the government in?

Not much, as authoritative sources consent to making the EU exit clause, on the back of which David Cameron, and his party, came to power, to be a risky venture, pictorially. That it is. Cameron has said that he wants the country to remain in the EU and his first priority is, without powdering it too much, the foreign policy and defence services.

This has obviously been tailored, his intentions, as a means to win support from EU leaders, because he seeks greater balance of demands coming his way, on the EU equilibrium. So, where does this bring the ideal leadership contestant into the picture? The point is that it’s hard to determine who to vote for, when not one of the candidates seem to be one you would like to vote for.

I seem to be stuck in that 18percent of Labour supporters, who do not like any of the candidates, who have stepped forward for election. That is why, I am going to do just, what I believe is the best assessment of the current “little situation” of a conflict-of-interest: I am going to vote for New Labour.

This is not an eccentric discussion, because recent polls in the Evening Standard, have placed Tony Blair as the most-liked “fictional” Labour candidate, ahead of senior figureheads in the party, such as Clement Attlee and Neil Kinnock. It was surprising to learn that people’s perspectives have so diametrically gone in a direction different to the one that was in existence for Blair, a couple of months back.

But this shows how a crisis can bring out the best and the worst in people: Attlee was a beacon of socialism, of a welfare state. Blair is pro-New Labour, he is for market economics, he is pro-modernisation. So, there is a drastic linear difference in the two perspectives. When you think about the future Prime Minister, you think about what you would like to see.

Would you like to see a person, who believes in “equal opportunity for all” or someone who believes in “equality” ? They are two very different things, and one is entitled to their opinions, but is there a right or a wrong here? The truth is that there isn’t any. Equality means revolutionizing the state, something Attlee believed in, whilst having access to the same opportunity, as the individual next to you means that you get to live a better life than before. Why don’t we wait and watch how it unfolds but meanwhile, after so much heckling to try to keep the United Kingdom inside the EU, one political step at a time, would be great for Westminster.

Saving The Ecosystem: Wildlife Tales

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Wolves

Wolves in Yellowstone are benefiting greatly from living in a pack. They can take a prey down easily, raise families, and defend their horizons, their territory, with ferocity. The wisdom to group living fails when it comes to getting infected with something contagious, but this thought does not stand for wolves.

Made extinct by hunting in the early 1900s, they were brought back to life from the dead in 1995, and have been closely observed as a wildlife species, since then, by the National Park Service.

Some 25 or so wolves have to be tranquilized annually and fitted with radio collars, so that they can be tracked. The studies have showed that the kind of pack matters, alongside the size of it. Larger wolves are more successful at preying than smaller wolves – they can hunt, and protect themselves and act as better leaders, too.

Saving The Ecosystem: Wildlife Tales

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Seashells

Living things are known to be bedazzled by the colours provided to them from pigment molecules – a good reason why in the flesh, seashells look so different in paleontological museums, rather than on canvas, in print, or on film. In the 1970s, a technique helped to change this, as ancient seashells were doused in sodium hypochlorite, and then had them face ultraviolet lights, which reveal colours, patterns.

This was not possible before, but it is now, despite its lack of fame. If things progress faster a lot can change however, as research shows that this technique can increase the lifespan of seashells, when examined with it. In France, specimens from the Jurassic period, revealed that complicated patterns give the sea shells a certain colour, that scientists believe did not arrive some 100mn years later.

The colour comes from leftover, degraded, pigments, so it is not possible for them to exhibit this trait in life – this new discovery will always go towards contributing to the greater debate over ancient gastropods and bivales led to the colours in seashells we see active today.

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