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J'ai regardé le premier épisode de la série The Newsroom, actuellement diffusée sur HBO, et - sans avoir réellement accroché aux personnages ou à l'histoire - j'ai tout de même bien apprécié ce petit moment :

La vidéo est constamment retirée de YouTube et ne peut être intégrée sur des sites tiers donc en voici une version kinétique :

[Jenny]
Hi, my name is Jenny, I’m a sophomore and this for all three of you. Can you say in one sentence or less – what – (laughing in background) you know what I mean: “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”

[Emily Kathleen A. Mortimer - As Sharon]
Diversity and opportunity.

[Debate Moderator]
Louis?

[Louis]
Ah freedom and freedom, so let’s keep it that way.

[Debate Moderator]
Will?

[Jeffrey Warren "Jeff" Daniels As Will]
The New York Jets.

[audience laughs]

[Debate Moderator]
No, I’m gonna hold you to an answer on that. What makes America the greatest country in the world?

[Jeff Daniels]
Well, Louis and Sharon said it. Diversity and opportunity and freedom and freedom.

(audience member holds notebook)
IT’S NOT. BUT IT CAN BE.

[Debate Moderator]
I’m not letting you go back to the airport without answering the question.

[Will]
Well, our Constitution is a masterpiece. James Madison was a genius. The Declaration of Independence is for me the single greatest piece of American writing.

[Will]
You don’t look satisfied.

[Debate Moderator]
One’s a set of laws and the other is a declaration of war. I want a human moment from you.

IT’S NOT

[Debate Moderator]
What about the people? Why is it?

[Will]
It’s NOT the greatest country in the world, Professor. That’s my answer.

[Debate Moderator]
You’re saying?

[Will]
Yes.

[Debate Moderator]
Let’s talk about...

[Will (Speaking to Sharon]
Fine. Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money. It costs votes. It costs airtime. And column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart then how come they lose so goddamn always?

[Sharon]
Hey!

[Will (to Lewis]
And with a straight face, you’re gonna sit there and tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia. BELGIUM has freedom. (laughs) Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like, a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.

[Debate Moderator]
All right...

[Will]
And you, Sorority Girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy. Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science. Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality. Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.

Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Yosemite?

(Audience surprised.)

[Will]
Sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were. And we never beat our chest.

We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy.

[pause]

We reached for the stars. Acted like men.

We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it—it didn’t make us feel inferior.

We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t, oh, we didn’t scare so easy. Ha. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men. Men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

[pause]

Enough?

Petite précision pour la sorority girl : America is not a country, the USA is.

Cet été, j'ai investi pour devenir mobilo indépendant. Tout d'abord, j'ai acheté un vélo électrique. Moins besoin de la voiture pour aller au boulot. Moins d'essence, moins de risques et moins d'assurance. Et puis le sport en plus. Et oui, le sport car le vélo est assisté, c'est pas une mobylette : 45 km d'autonomie, 25,5km de vitesse constante. On arrive sec au boulot. On respire. On se détend !

Qui dit vélo dit légèreté. Exit le MacBook et bienvenue à l'iPad. Avantages, inconvénients : tout a été dit. Seule l'utilisation que l'on en fait compte. Et moi je la trouve appropriée à mon usage. J'ai mis tous mes cours dedans. J'écris cet article avec. Je joue au Uno et aux 1000 bornes avec ma famille. Je lis mes partitions en jouant avec mon groupe. Internet mobile devient enfin agréable à consulter. Bien sûr, il y a des défauts mais qui n'en a pas ?

Donc, pour la rentrée 2011, je serai mobilo indépendant. Peut-être....!

Introduction

After France's defeat in Canada, Britain remained the only power left in Eastern North America. The colonies were now free to spread over the vast continent and increase their wealth. Therefore, for the British Government, it was natural that the colonists, whose prosperity was increasing, should contribute to British economy. The financial measures affecting trade and the arbitrary taxes decided in London soon became intolerable to the colonists. They have now the opportunity and the financial means of standing on their own feet and managing their own affairs.

Instead of being treated as equal partners, the American colonists were considered by the Prime Minister as second-rate citizens or children :

"This is the mother country. They are the children, they must obey and we prescribe". (William Pitt)

More than a rebellion against patriarchal authority, the War of Independence, was in fact the first modern political revolution. It started with the universal democratic slogan: "no taxation without representation". By rising against Britain the colonists exploded the myth of English liberty while using at the same time the principles that the people of England themselves had established one century before in the Glorious Revolution.

I. Origins of the Revolution

Several circumstances had put a strain on Anglo-American relations in the 18th century.

  • First, Britain merchants manipulated the House of Commons into voting a series of protective acts that were detrimental to colonial economy.
  • Further restrictions were imposed through arbitrary taxation decided in London.
  • Another dissatisfaction came from the costs of British European's war to which they were forced
    to contribute.
  • 1763: the Royal Proclamation prohibited any British settlement west of the Appalachians, which created a major land problem in the colonies and restricted economic expansion.

So economic and patriotic motivations were closely linked in creating a feeling of rebellion.

II. The insurrection in New England

In May 1765, the Virginia Colonial Assembly voted a series of resolutions to tax the colonists. The latter started to organize themselves into activist groups such as the "Sons of Liberty" led by Samuel Adam. Britain answered by a demonstration of strength and sent mercenary troops to various American cities. Several resistance groups denounced that measure as a hostile invasion.

In March 1770, the Boston"s Sons of Liberty attacked the British local garrison. British soldiers opened fire upon the crowd. This tragic incident, known as the Boston Massacre, is one of the triggers of the War of Independence against Britain.

In 1772, a new tax was imposed was imposed on tea: the Tea Act was interpreted as another demonstration of authority from the part of Britain. A group of Bostonians wearing Indian costumes went on board a tea clipper in Boston harbor and managed to throw several thousand pounds of tea into the sea: the "Boston Tea Party" was followed by severe punishment. A continental congress of the colonies answered by prohibiting British imports and militias were formed to resist British troops. The Loyalists, i.e. the colonists who wanted to remain British were very often badly treated by the Patriots: they were caught, whipped, tarred and feathered to expose their shame.

The first real battle took place in June 1775, outside Boston at Bunker Hill. There, the American volunteers managed to resist and to succeed over British troops for the first time.

III. The Spirit of 1776

In January 1776, the Englishman Thomas Paine published a pamphlet against Britain: it launched the spirit of 1776. His book, Common Sense questions the necessity for America to remain within the British colonial empire:

"Does America be America of shop-keepers and farmers benefit by remaining under British rule ? The plain answer of common sense is no."

The book immediately sold over 120,000 copies.

In May, the American Congress adopted a resolution inviting the colonists to establish independent State Governments. In June, the delegates for Virginia submitted to Congress a resolution for independence. Therefore, the Founding Fathers appointed a committee to elaborate a Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft in his highly rhetorical style. A revised version was finally approved by Congress on July 4th 1776, by the delegates of all the 13 colonies, except 2 New York representatives who abstained.

IV.The Meaning of the Declaration of Independence

The American Declaration of Independence represents a revolutionary vision both of mankind and its institutions. In its preamble, it insists on the vital necessity of separation and independence, seen as part of the natural evolutionary process inherent to human nature:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to separate...

It also clearly states the principle of "equality" and the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as natural human rights. Yet, Jefferson"s intention of putting slavery out of law as contrary to human rights was not carried into the final version because of the opposition from the Southern states.

The text of the Declaration of Independence consists of a list of criticisms against the British state, represented by the King. The form of this document is the same as the British Bill of Rights of 1689. Moreover, both texts protest against autocracy, religious and political tyranny and unfair representation. The conclusion finally declares the united colonies as "free and independent states".

Conclusion

Thanks to the Declaration of Independence, a decisive step was taken towards the future, as one of the Founding Fathers, John Adams, stated it: "the river is passed, the bridge is cut away". But the conflict with Britain lasted for 7 more years before General G. Washington"s victory, thanks to French help, brought about Britain"s final acceptance of the colonies independence at the Treaty of Paris on September 3rd 1783. The 13 states were formerly acknowledged as one nation, whose territory extended from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River. A federal constitution was made public in 1787: it established a model of interstate relationships according to the principle of divided sovereignty. It also set up a republican system in which no branch of the government could exercise any despotic authority over the others. Yet, the major contradiction remained in the nation of the rights of man in the late 18th century: the first modern democracy had 20% of slaves in its population.

Sommaire de la série From the Reformation to the birth of the American nation (1534-1776)

  1. The Reformation in the British Isles
  2. English Expansionism
  3. The Glorious Revolution of 1688
  4. The American colonies : Religion and Politics
  5. Birth of a Nation

Introduction

On May 1st 1997, a general election took place in the UK. It was won by the Labour Party after 18 years of Conservative Government (1979-1997).The political programme of the Labour party included a vast number of constitutional reforms and manifestos:

  • devolution (power to the regions) to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and English regions (wide range).
  • reform of the House of Lords.
  • incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.

The Labour Government was for devolution because there were demands for more autonomy (yet not the same demands):

  • Scotland: Parliament (law making body)
  • Wales: Assembly
  • Northern Ireland: Assembly and power-sharing executive between Catholics and Protestants.

The Scotland Act

September 11th 1997: referendum in Scotland on devolution. Majority of "Yes" votes. The Scottish Bill was introduced and validated. It became the Scotland Act in 1998, which defines the Scottish Parliament, its rules... The next stage was the 1st Scottish General Election. Donald Dewar, who had been Secrtary of State for Scotland in Tony Blair's Government became the First Minister of Scotland. Labour did not have a majority and made an alliance with the Liberal-Democrats (coalition executive).

Between mid-May and the end of June, the Scottish Parliament met on a regular basis but it was officially opened by the Queen on July 1st 1999.

Opinion polls about the Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament has achievedSept. 2000Feb. 2001
 
A lot11%25%
A littleless than 56%56%
Nothing at all29%14%

This study was conducted in Scotland only. The positive views more than doubled. The Scottish Parliament cannot change things overnight, some decisions might take some time.

The Scottish Parliament

Achieved things in certain areas:

  • the abolition of poindings and warrant sales.

This old law obsolete concerned people who had too many debts and could not pay the loans back. The company to whom money was owed could easily seize the property of those people. The British Parliament had to repeal it but had not any time to discuss: the Scottish Parliament repealed it.

  • tuition fees.

Were introduced by Tony Blair. Before, students received grants from the State when the number of students was low. As it increased, it became a problem. Thatcher suppressed grants and adopted loans. Those loans were for 3 years: it meant lots of money to pay back and some students stopped their studies (masters) because they could not afford it.

Tuition fees were £1,000 per student to enter University. It was a very unpopular measure, especially in Scotland. Only the Labour party was defending it. At the election of 1999, the Labour party won but did not get the majority. They formed a coalition with the Lib-Dem and the latter asked for the abolition of tuition fees. That is why tuition fees do not exist in Scotland for Scottish students. They exist in Britain and Wales for everyone. Scottish students do not pay £1000 each year but they have to pay back £2,000 (for the four-year degree course in Scotland) when they start earning £10,000 a year. It is a lump sum and you pay for the next generation (idea of solidarity).

The slippery slope to independence

One possible scenario for the independence of Scotland :

  • the SNP should win a majority of seats in Scottish Parliament,
  • organize a referendum,
  • if there is a majority of "Yes" votes, go to the British Parliament,
  • pass a bill for Scotland's independence.

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