Category Archives: Politics

Testing Times: UK Nationals ‘Queuing Up to Take Arcane Spanish #Exam’!

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Folded Umbrella? #HKU President in Shock Resignation!

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La La Land: Trump’s ‘Anti-Terror’ Executive Order ‘Risks Global Order Meltdown’!

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This is What Democracy Looks Like: Reality TV Show Host Takes Charge of World’s Largest Economy!

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Happy Christmas, War Is Over: #SyriaCeasefire ‘Could End Years Of Dystopian Chaos’!

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The #linguamarina Question: Should International Students Fear Trump’s Presidency?

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We at Mediolana take a special interest in the intersection between technology and education, and for a long time we have been mystified at the sheer paucity of compelling highered commentators who utilise social media skilfully. However, this chasm is beginning to be filled, and the excellent linguamarina brand – headed up by a Russia-born, Germany-educated and America-resident entrepreneur named, appropriately, Marina Mogliko – is rapidly becoming one of our favourites. In particular, linguamarina’s YouTube videos are an excellent source of information and discussion points from a unique-but-relatable perspective.

In a recent video (PROTESTS IN THE USA, WHAT TO EXPECT FROM TRUMP, IMMIGRATION, 11th November 2016), Marina asks a question which – given both the USA’s status as the world’s largest higher education system and the place that the greatest number of international students call home – should be given far higher prominence than it has enjoyed to date: will Donald Trump make good on his more extreme campaign promises of mass deportations and blanket entry bans – pledges which could theoretically derail or obviate thousands of university careers?

The simple answer is that no one really knows for sure – especially given that the Trump presidency is not scheduled to begin until 20th January 2017 – but its likelihood depends on which one of three broad scenarios materialises:

  1. Business As Usual. If – as Marina strongly suggests – Trump’s campaign rhetoric against Mexicans and Muslims was in fact just clever if ethically dubious marketing, then so long as he can deliver badly-needed prosperity to his core and frankly desperate constituents, repressive laws are unlikely to be enacted and international students can rest assured that the United States of America remains a viable HE destination.
  2. Business As Unusual. While both other branches of the US government have Republican Party majorities, the GOP is still smarting from a brutal civil war in which virtually every party luminary all but disowned Trump. Accordingly, these rivals may seek to block his centrepiece legislation on infrastructure – which would possibly negatively impact his popularity, and increase the probability of Trump resorting to the xenophobia which helped define his election win.
  3. Business As Madness. In the case of some seriously brown gloop hitting the fan – mass shootings, terrorist ‘events’ or a banking crisis – Trump may feel pressure to be seen to be ‘protecting the interests of ordinary Americans’, and all bets could then be off. The problem with using overtly negative tropes so successfully is that they then have the potential to take on a life of their own – and, as usual, innocent people will end up getting caught in the crossfire.

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Cartoon Character-in-Chief: Three Ways Donald Trump Has Changed Global Politics Forever

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As the seemingly interminable race to the White House enters its final hours, there appears little doubt that this has been amongst the most surreal elections anywhere in living memory: substantive policy discussions have taken a backseat to sexual intrigue, political corruption and atavistic impulses as a no-holds-barred race to the bottom has gripped much of the world’s media.

But stepping back from the soap opera – and notwithstanding the final result – the 2016 United States presidential election will have profound implications far beyond America’s borders, and not merely because of that country’s economic footprint or military ubiquity: the maverick candidacy of Donald J. Trump has probably altered our planet’s political scene forever. After some contemplation, we at Mediolana think that we’ve identified the three most salient ways he has accomplished this:

  1. Emotiveness. Trump has ramped up the levels of raw emotion within political discourse. In response to a single ‘event’ – the tragic shootings at a community centre in San Bernadino, California – he proposed shutting off the United States, at least temporarily, from 30% of the world’s non-US resident population. Trump has threatened to make real the spectre of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. And he has made a serious play for the sentiments of certain religious communities – notably Catholics – on deeply divisive issues such as abortion. The fact that these positions are not necessarily consistent or even plausible matters not – he has tapped into the general population’s visceral need to feel something.
  2. Street Cred. The fact that Trump – a multibillionaire celebrity who was born into substantial amounts of money – is hardly a classical anti-establishment figure has not been lost on numerous commentators. What is truly remarkable is that despite this, ‘the Donald’ has successfully portrayed himself as an outsider, and with no little skill: he has underscored his status as a stranger in Washington circles, contrasting this with his rival’s near-total embedding in the political matrix. In an era where the perceived distance between the ‘elites’ and the ‘masses’ is significant, this represents a PR coup.
  3. Media Leverage. Donald Trump may not be the first, but he is certainly the most notable figure to transition from being a TV star (who happens to have a property empire) to being a major political figure. He has realised that – to use the phrase of former SAS CEO Jan Carlzon – all business is showbusiness; that many people are now essentially products of the entertainment industry, principally as audience members; and that giving these people – some of whom are genuinely disenfranchised and really have been let down by a corrupt and dysfunctional system – hope of revenge against the machine can put him within striking distance of unparalleled publicity. Trump’s blueprint could go on to spawn a generation of (quasi-)authoritarian populists across the globe.

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