Interview to an European in NY

B. C. is an European young photographer who lives nowadays in New York. She has a great and varied heritage: Her parents are both Cuban, who met when they studied in Russia, and there she was born. So was born in Russia, then moved to Portugal when she was 6, and later, when she was 19, she moved again to Spain to study a degree on Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Then she traveled to Estonia as part of the Erasmus Exchange Program. She travelled then to California, where she finished her studies. She lived in Miami for a while, and finally she moved to NY, where she has been living for one year, four years in the States. Now she works at a company of entertaining news.

She has travelled a lot, and she has met a lot of different cultures, which I found really interesting to interview. During our interview, B.C. explained how did it feel to live in the States, and in New York. As she said, places like California and New York are the most representative places because of their different cultures and nationalities. There you get to know people from all over the world, unlike in the center of the USA, where there are only Americans. In New York, the people is very open-minded. In Europe,  she felt a bit alien because there aren’t a lot of people who has moved as much as she did, but in New York there is a lot of people who has lived in a lot of different places, which makes her feel very normal.

I was interested too in the perspective of an European, who has spent quite a lot of year living in the USA, about the political campaign there. From her point of view, it feels a bit crazy, all this Trump stuff. The first thing that surprises her is that she doesn’t really know any Trump supporters, there in New York. “I think people who has access to a minimum  education, that have access to university, know that Trump is not a good candidate for the US presidency. Even though he has a lot of people supporting him. That surprised me because half the country seem to like Trump.” Also, it seems that there is some people who would vote for Trump just because they don’t like Hillary. “The thing is, I think, that a lot of people hate Trump, but there’s a lot of people who hate Hillary too, and that scares me, because I know people who like Bernie Sanders, and that tell me that if he doesn’t win for the democrats, they will vote for Trump, because they’d rather vote for Trump, since they don’t like Hillary.

She also told me a bit about the current situation of the campaign and the ideas and measures Trump is proposing if he achieves to become the next president of the USA. “Well, I think next week is important for the campaign, because California is voting, and there is quite a lot of people in California, so it’s kind of decisive, it can make Hillary win for the democrats or, well, I think if Trump wins, I’ll come back to Europe” She speaks then about how racist are Trump’s measures. “The measures Trump want to implement are very very racist, like the thing about the Muslims, that he wants to control them and stuff, I don’t know, it’s like every week he has something horrible to say. It is quite incredible, because I think at first everyone thought Trump’s candidature was kind of a joke, and that would last for, like, two or three months… Now you can see in the polls Trump’s results very close to Hillary’s and, I don’t know, it worries me a lot because there exists the possibility of Trump actually becoming president.”

Finally, B. told me about her view of the European people and their point of view of the political campaign of the USA. She said that there is a lot of people in Europe that can’t see yet how worrying this issue is, since it isn’t their country and they feel too far away, but the United States of America are a powerful country, whose president is very important too, and what happens there is definitely affecting the whole world.

By Alejandro Conesa Martínez

An Interview with Irina Feldman

My name is Pablo Llamas Aparicio and I am a first-year student of Translation at the UEM. On June 9, 2016, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Irina Feldman, who teaches Spanish language and Latin American literature at Middlebury College, in Vermont, United States. I thought it could be interesting to know the opinion of someone who lives in a state that usually remains unnoticed for Europeans in comparison to some of the states where we get the idea that everything seems to happen. On top of that, being born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Feldman’s own intercultural experience only added spice to this amazing interview.

First, it seemed a good idea to me that Ms. Feldman introduced herself to my readers. She told me that she had moved to the U.S. when she was fifteen years old, short after the U.S.S.R. had dissolved, because her mother –a single mother- was not sure of whether it would be possible for them to live safely in Russia during the transition. After a period of time during which she was not precisely infatuated with the States, Ms. Feldman took her high education in Georgetown, Washington D.C. and graduated in Hispanic literature. After living a couple of years in South America, she got a job in Middlebury College. She explained me that her research focuses on left-winged movements in South America, as well as the authors of those movements, especially in the Andean area (Bolivia, Peru…).

My next question to her was about the origin of her interest on Hispanic literature, given that she was born in Russia and works in the United States. She confessed me that one major factor was the fact that she did not really like the English language when she moved to the U.S. or the country itself, for that matter. She also told me that she had had wonderful Spanish teachers when she was in high school and later at college. She had had really positive experiences with teachers and professors from Spain, so she started studying Peninsularists, that is studies on the Iberian Peninsula, and she was highly interested on Medieval Spain. However, once she got in contact with studies on Latin America, she finally made up her mind and started focusing her studies on Latin America.

Wanting to know more details about what made her like the Hispanic literature so much, I asked her whether Hispanic literature had traditionally had a big impact on the Russian culture, as well as the American. To that question, she answered that actually, it had a great impact on the Soviet culture, when she was young. In that time, the classics from the Golden Age of the Spanish literature, like Cervantes or Lope de Vega, were indeed very famous in Russia. She told me that her first contact with the Spanish literature came when she was young and lived in Russia. She would read all these classics that are so important for the history of Spanish culture and literature. She also told me about a Russian-made movie of El Quijote, saying that it was “a very impressive movie.” As for Latin American literature, she answered that both in Russia and the U.S. it was famous for “the Boom” of authors like Gabriel García Márquez or Mario Vargas Llosa. However, she expressed her disappointment on the newer generations of students in the U.S. due to their little knowledge on Hispanic literature, even in the case of her own students at the very beginning of their degrees.

Next, I thought it was time we spoke about current affairs. Laughing, Ms. Feldman said that she could already guess what I was going to ask her (and she happened to be right). First, given that only two days before, Hillary Clinton had become the first woman to be an official candidate to the U.S. presidential elections, I asked Ms. Feldman why she thought Clinton received so much supporting from the U.S. citizens. She explained that Vermont is a state that traditionally votes as much to the left as it can. So then, she asks, why does Hillary Clinton receive so much supporting? In her opinion, Hillary’s popularity has been supported by her relation with former president Bill Clinton. She thinks that Hillary’s stand on immigration is not progressive, but she receives so much supporting because people think of Hillary as a professional who knows what she is doing. However, according to Ms. Feldman, Hillary’s presidency would not mean the revolutionary change that a lot of people seem to ask for.

When asked about Donald Trump, she answered that it was completely the other way round: people think of Trump as an anti-establishment candidate. From what she told me, a lot of people seem to believe that because Trump is so rich, he will not accept bribes. People, Ms. Feldman says, are sick of the system, they think that the government does not represent the people, they think that the state is corrupted by the big money, and want someone who can change the game. She, however, thinks that these people are wrong. She can’t see the logic behind the bribes argument, and sees Trump as the main example of the decay of the political system in the U.S.

The path made by Phillip Kennedy in the migratory issues.

Phillip Kennedy is a professional with experience in the field of migration issues between Mexico and the United States. He has become an example of bounty and solidarity over time for all the people who can presume to know him.

Since he was a child he had known he wanted to spend his life helping people, making this world a better place to be. So, when he finished High School in 2005, he decided to study Peace and Conflicts Studies at Guilford College, in North Carolina.

As he says, university brought him an over view about the world and the amount of conflicts waiting to be solved at any time in any region of the world. It was an encouragement to give his bit in order to improve the situation of disadvantaged, he says. For him ‘University brings you the knowledge you need to focus your interests, but the experience you get while you are working can’t be achieved just by reading or hearing about it’.

On his third year of University he came to Spain to spend a year abroad studying in Madrid at Universidad Europea. He considers travelling as an essential part of learning, especially when it comes to international studies as Peace and Conflict or International Relations. ‘You have to live it on your own to be able to understand people who is in a foreign country asking you to help them’.

He made some volunteering during his studies and after finishing university. He believes that voluntary workings benefits your life and others in many ways.’ It brings you experience on the field you wanted but also it is a very gratifying effort, because you are fighting for an important cause and sometimes you are able to see face to face the result of that in others’ lives.’

He considers important the one he was working in on the border with Mexico. The organization was called Frontera de Cristo and the Migrant Resource Center, a joint project of Frontera de Cristo and the Sagrada Familia church. He started there making voluntary works and he finally became coordinator of the Migrant Resource Center.

It was a partnership of many different people and organizations working together towards the common goal of helping migrants. ‘Migrants sometimes need some basic humanitarian helps, especially those who have been recently deported, the Resource Center helps them with basic medical attention, food, and sometimes even with clothes.’ It also provides them information when they need it, for example the different options they have to return to their place of origin. Another important part of the Center’s work is abuse documentation, which they use to better understand the situation migrants face, and in some cases, help victims of crimes pursue legal options.

‘Problems about migrations are much bigger than we think they are’ He said. While he was working at the Migrant Resource Center he didn’t have much work face to face with the migrants, his functions were more related with the administrative and coordinating issues. Though, he was able to see the numbers of people passing through the borders from Mexico to united states, the conditions they had lived, studies about the reasons why the moved, the rates of discrimination suffered by the migrants, deportations, and some particular complains. Numbers were high, but he said the situation was getting better step by step.

Frontera de Cristo was allied to religion. He liked that it promoted solidary values and non-lucrative help. But he didn’t like the fact that the organization sometimes didn’t accept atheist volunteers or promoters of other values. ‘Tolerance and respect are incompatible with discrimination in any of its forms, including discriminative attitudes related to religious beliefs’ he said.

I couldn’t help asking him what he thought about the discriminative policies that Donald Trump wanted to establish if he became president. He laughed. ‘It would be really disappointing if he actually became president. But there is nothing to fear, what he wants to do is just illegal, he cannot oust out of the country millions of people and build up a wall to keep them out, it’s just another insane idea of this brainless character’- ‘If that ever happened the organizations I have worked with would have a lot of work to do, and to change that’ He added.

Nowadays he is working for the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), in Washington. It is an independent organization funded 20 years ago, to provide migrants (most of them from Latin America) in the area of DC with the competences and financial helps to have their dwelling and develop their lives in their new country. Here Phil has a more direct contact with migrants, as he said ‘Some of them have a lot of suffering from unfair and discriminative treatments, and it is hard to see that, but they are so thankful when you help them that it makes our work really grateful’. Their helps are very variated, but all of them are focused on guaranteeing a dignity future for migrants. Transforming ideas into reality, guiding youth realize their potential, overcoming a language barrier, asserting their rights to preserve their affordable housing and more.  Comparing with his previous work, LEDC is related to a smaller field of action, but results are more immediate and direct contact is enriching. ‘In terms of numbers, we have $44M of public investment in DC government funds allocated to affordable housing projects facilitated by LEDC,  more than 3000 families were assisted with affordable housing preservation services, and we also made 40 new homeowners and 48 new businesses sparked’

He openly encouraged students of international areas to fight for their beliefs and do as much as they can to make the world a better place to live for everyone. As he said ‘If you want to achieve the change, the moment to do it is now’.

Ana Delia Porta and Phillip Kennedy during the interview.

By Ana Delia Porta Moreno.

LGBT Discrimination in North Carolina

Chris Sgro

Chris Sgro leads a group carrying petitions calling for the repeal of HB2 to governor Pat McCrory’s office in Raleigh, North Carolina. Image obtained from The Guardian.

The new North Carolinian law, also known as HB2, the Charlotte Bathroom Bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, was passed in March by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. It is a response to Charlotte’s extension of its anti-discrimination decree, which would have permitted transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify and not only the one on their birth certification. It would have also given anti-discrimination protections to LGBT citizens.

According to the U.S. Justice Department officials, the law HB2 violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX. Therefore, this entity repudiated on May 4, 2016 the North Carolina’s House Bill 2 after the Governor, Pat McCrory, stated on a video that the use of female and male-specific bathrooms will be maintained and a creation of “special” restroom will be possible.

The Justice Department had given until Monday May 9, to the Governor  in order that he declares the non implementation of HB2. However, if the Governor decides to maintain the Bill, the State faces losing the federal education funding , which represents $861 million received by state public schools this year and which is, last year, $1.4 billion for the University of North Carolina system itself according to News Observer.

The Justice Department indicated that the Bill violates the Civil Rights Act, such as Title IX which prohibits the sexual discrimination in education area, and the Title VII which forbids employment discrimination.

McCrory, in an interview with business leaders, declared that the Bill’s restrictions would affect the whole country: “This is no longer just a N.C. issue. This impacts every state, every university and almost every employee in the United States of America [given that] they will have to comply with new definitions of requirements by the federal government regarding restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities in both the private and public sector.”

The Democrat Chris Sgro, who is the executive director of Equality NC, declared that “HB2 is deeply discriminatory, violates federal civil rights law, and needs to be repealed as soon as possible”.

Then, Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign which is the largest gay rights group in the country, commended the Justice Department “for enforcing the rule of law and protecting the rights of North Carolinians.” while the Charlotte’s Mayor denied to comment.

In order to give them more support, the Justice Department published a  fact sheet in 2015, stating that a “civilian transgender woman working for the Army at this time, had been discriminated because banned from using the common women’s restroom and forced to use a single bathroom” and therefore, the final judgment was the violation of civils rights by denying transgender employees access to a bathroom based on gender identity.

Finally, because HB2 is against the most important civil document, the one that famous and powerful personalities have fought for its creation and some gave their lives, the one of which the whole society is based on, the Civil Rights Act, we can conclude that this law should be removed.

One question whose answer should be interesting to know is how this issue became such a big deal. Do people in the U.S. believe it is really important to make sure that transgender people go to this restroom or that restroom? Should they?

It is our opinion that citizens in the U.S. have more important issues to attend to. In a country full of debates on guns, the health care system or primary elections, debating about transgender people and restrooms does not seem to be the best usage of time and energy for the citizens.

In fact, most people are not as worried as the media tend to say. Brad Paisley, an American country music star, even sang a song on Tuesday 24th at the Jimmy Kimmel Show, making fun of how the transgender issue seems to have gone too far. This is clear at the end of said song: “Why is this such a big deal? Hike up your dress, and take a stand. And sit by your man.”

In conclusion, we think that HB2 is a ridiculous measurement against a non-existing problem which can lead to a really serious issue. This Bill violates the rights of citizens, and it is our belief that these rights should be respected unanimously without second-thought, and that time and energy should be spent in debating on more realistic threats.

Anti-Trump speech, the lethal weapons of Elizabeth Warren.

By: Delia Porta, Sofía Pachón, Maribel Zapatero and Jessica Navarra.

The accusations’ war has been started between the progressive senator Elizabeth Warren and the republican candidate Donald Trump.

Elizabeth Warren on the left. Donald Trump on the righ. By Sophia Tesfaye for Salon.

Recently, the Anti-Trump critics have been more accentuated. The arguments against the republican candidate, expanded by Elizabeth Warren, at the annual gala for the liberal non-profit Centre for Popular Democracy are an example of that. In the speech the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts remarked the need of the democrats to show the true identity of Donald Trump and why he can’t be a good president for USA.

Responses about the speech has been very variated and contrary. Twitter is having an intense action on this debate. On the republican side it has been interpreted as a poke, and even Donald Trump himself has publish some tweets against Warren, accusing her to be a liar and not native American. He also referred to her as the senator with less action ever in United Stated, “Only talk!” he said.

The accusations made by Donald Trump are only criticizing Elizabeth Warren for superficial irrelevant reasons as if she is native or not, but he can’t say anything about what she says against him, because what Trump does is always criticize the others with no-sense accusations. We needed someone to stop him.

The less sensibility of Trump is unacceptable and it means he won’t do any effort for the weaker people. He wants to get America great again with the only power of the high class, as the senator’s affirmation remarks, “Donald Trump cares about exactly one thing—Donald Trump”.

US is a big power on a global level, and it is supposed to be an example for the other countries in the international scene. Trump is now concentrated on the total elimination of problems with brutal manners, he is not thinking about the humans beside the problem, that situation should never become an example to follow for the rest of countries all over the world.

From our point of view, it was completely necessary to expose the real situation with Trump in order to aware the American people in favour of him about who they are voting and which would be the consequences if he became president. A selfish unconscious person can never be the president of a country. And Elizabeth Warren was the ideal person to show it.

First of all, Donald Trump has been strongly rude against women with hard comments and attacks to the feminine gender. A strong representative woman as the progressive senator of Massachusetts, who is a respected figure in both sides of the democracy in United States, is the perfect person to make him know that women have a strong action in the American society and shatter all his racist, sexist, and homophobic ideas. As Bernie Sanders said, ‘Elizabeth Warren, I think, has been a real champion in standing up for working families, taking on Wall Street’ on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

 

Moreover, she is incredibly good at making herself be understood by the others. As the Bloomberg page says, it is accepted by many analysts that she has an important talent for distilling political messages. She is very clear and coherent, and make things easy to understand for everybody. And in addition, she says what she thinks, but her thoughts are focus on making her country a better place for everyone, not just for herself.

She is popular because of her good deeds and her fight against social injustice and inequality, and not for rude comments on television. BBC exposed as proof of her popularity, the 40 million dollars she collected from the small donations of the people who heard one of her public messages in favour of the equitable distribution of money in United States.

Elizabeth Warren is a representative figure of social justice and human rights. Those are the values we want for the American society. And exactly the values that Donald Trump tears apart every time he talks about immigrants, women, homosexuals or anyone different than him.

Guns still not allowed on Georgia universities

Nathan Deal

Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal. Image obtained from slate.com

On Tuesday, May 3, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a bill which would have allowed concealed handguns on university campuses for anyone 21 years old and over with a weapons license. More specifically, guns would have been allowed anywhere on campus, except for inside dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses and at athletic events. Said bill had been already approved by the Republican Party, with a majority of 113 votes in the Georgia House and 37 in the Senate.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment has generated lots of debates on whether it protects a right of individuals to keep and bear arms or a right that only militia organizations can exercise. This has led 9 states to allow guns in all their universities, 23 states to leave the decision to allow or ban weapons up to the individual colleges, and 19 states (still including Georgia) to ban weapons on campuses. In the case of Deal, his main reasons for not allowing guns in Georgia colleges are that “From the early days of our nation and state, colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed.” and “To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification. I do not find that such justification exists.”

Some groups which support gun ownership, like the National Rifle Association or Georgiacarry.org have expressed their disappointment on Deal’s decision, stating that the approval of the bill would have improved safety in campuses, and that it would have served as a deterrent for gun violence, with the mantra that “the only thing that stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.” Georgiacarry.org have been trying to increase the liberties of those who have a gun license for almost ten years. For instance, in 2008, they tried to expand the places where guns could be carried, including restaurants that serve alcohol, public transit and parks.

As for Georgia’s university community, Lindsey Donovan, leader of the Georgia cahpter of the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action, stated that she was grateful Deal “listened to Georgia students, faculty and parents.” This can be seen on statistics: the vast majority of  Georgia college presidents and faculty (over 90% each) declare to oppose concealed weapons on campus. However, this majority is less overwhelming among the students, with 79% opposing guns. Moreover, nine in ten police chiefs believe that the most effective way to deal with guns in campus is “to prevent the use of guns at all.”

The debate on whether guns should or should not be allowed seems far from taking to an end, though, as Deal is to be Governor for other two years. Despite of this fact, however, Gerogia House Speaker David Ralston does not hold back to state that “This fight will go on. The exact form it takes, it’s early to say right now.”

Hillary Clinton – The next US President?

With the upcoming election campaigns in the US taking shape, we argue that Hillary Clinton will make headlines and break boundaries become the first female president of the USA after she announced she will be running for office on April 12th.

Hillary Clinton is a globally dominating figure who actively is promoting gender equality (if not inadvertently) in the USA. Potentially as the first female president Mrs Clinton has the opportunity to bridge the gaps in wage equality and supports that we are all human, therefore Human Rights are for all, we are people as equals.

Clinton represents a strong figure that is defying a patriarchal society and demonstrating that it is possible for females to enter politics and take charge. “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights” – Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s willingness to participate in social media was demonstrated on April 12th. Mrs Clinton used twitter as a platform to announce her running for the US presidency, showing commitment to modern changes and appealing to a wide range of audiences, including connecting with the youth population. Clinton had reached over 95,000 re-tweets by 7am and stated “I’m running for president, everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion”

Clinton has had global support in response to her tweet including the ex President of France Nicolas Sarkozy who tweeted “…I know how strong your passion is for the United States”. Further support came from Madeline Albright the first female secretary of state who tweeted “@hillaryclinton is smart, caring and determined…”

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There are many individuals who believe that Mrs Clinton is in fact not a suitable role model; as she has been criticised for her previous support of President Bush during the Iraq war but nowadays she has made a positive change of mind about this; showing that she accepts her mistakes and listens to the public opinion that was against this idea.

Hillary Clinton also changed her point of view regarding the international environment when referring to the embargo of Cuba. She refused to accept a trade between Cuba and the USA but she recently supported President Obama in his relations with Cuba; Demonstrating that she is an open-minded woman.

Who knows if Hilary Clinton is the right candidate to lead the Democrats in the 2016 Presidential Elections, but what it is clear is that has enough credentials to say that she is fully prepared to occupy such an influential position, much more than Obama was in 2008. Hillary stood by her husband’s side during his time in office and as 2008 was Obama’s first campaign he was not accustomed to it, Hillary is already more aware of the procedures of campaigning and successful campaigning at that. The United States experienced a huge change when Obama became the first black president, and in our opinion, it is the right moment to take another step in the history of United States and embrace the first female in the White House.