Saturday, January 31, 2009

WH3.1.5 Stalin's USSR

Topic: Rise of Authoritarian Regimes - Stalin's USSR
Enquiry-question: Was the rise of Stalin inevitable?

Review: Were attempts to establish peace after WWI succeed?
1. the League of Nations:
  • successes: conflict resolution, Locarno Pact, socio-economic improvements
  • failures: invasion of the Ruhr, Italy in Abyssinia, Japan in Manchuria, Germany in the Rhineland
2. the role of the US:
  • disarmament initiatives: Washington, Kellogg-Briand Pact
  • economic loans: Dawes and Young Plans
Understanding Goals: When did authoritarianism emerge in Russia?
1. Russia before WWI:
  • socio-economic conditions: poverty and revolt - is there a link?
  • the rule of the Tsar: monarchy and misrule - who is to blame?
  • Russo-Japanese War (1905) & Bloody Sunday (1910) - why no revolution?
2. Russia during WWI:
  • Feb Revolution: Liberals under the Provisional Government - what went wrong?
  • October Revolution: Lenin and the Bolsheviks - why did they succeed?
  • Treaty of Brest-Litvosk: what were the gains and losses?
3. Russia after WWI:
  • Russian Civil War: Red vs. Whites - who were involved and what was the significance?
  • War Communism: the beginning of authoritarianism?
  • New Economic Policy: reversal of communism?
Performances: Is it easy to start a revolution? Draw a mindmap to show the relationship between chapters 2 and 3.

Stalin voted third-best Russian

Portrait of Joseph Stalin at Communist Party celebration of his birthday - 21/12/2008
Stalin continues to be popular with many Russians

Former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was beaten by medieval prince Alexander Nevsky in a poll held by a TV station to find the greatest Russian.

Stalin came third, despite being responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviets in labour camps and purges.

Alexander Nevsky fought off European invaders in the 13th century to preserve a united Russia.

In second place was reformist Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin, who was assassinated in 1911.

More than 50 million people voted by phone, the internet or via text messages in the poll held by Rossiya, one of Russia's biggest television stations.

The voting took place over six months as 500 original candidates were whittled down to a final 12.

Rehabilitation campaign

Stalin - an ethnic Georgian - was riding high for many months and was in the number one slot at one point until the show's producer appealed to viewers to vote for someone else, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow.

Stalin sent millions of people to their deaths in the work camps of the Gulag. Millions more perished in political purges or during the forced collectivisation of farms during his rule from the 1920s to his death in 1953.

Many in Russia do still revere Stalin for his role during World War II when the Soviet Union defeated the forces of Nazi Germany.

But now there is a much broader campaign to rehabilitate Stalin and it seems to be coming from the highest levels of government, says our correspondent.

"We now have to think very seriously, why the nation chooses to put [Joseph] Stalin in third place," said actor and film director Nikita Mikhalkov, one of the contest's judges, after the results were released.

Nevsky fought off Swedish and Germanic invasions to preserve medieval Russia. He also pursued a conciliatory policy with the powerful Mongol rulers to protect Russia's eastern flank.

He was canonised as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 16th century.

Stolypin is remembered for his attempts to modernise agriculture and stifle leftist revolutionaries as prime minister under Tsar Nicholas II. - BBC News 28 Dec 2008

Thirst for perks in DNA?

NEW YORK - WHY do CEOs need extravagant perks even when they are firing staff and pleading for taxpayer bailouts? It may just be in their makeup, experts say.

It takes arrogance and narcissism to become leader of a Fortune 500 company. Those same traits, however, have become their undoing during the deepest recession in decades.

US President Barack Obama has noticed, telling reporters on Thursday he was outraged by a New York State report that US$18.4 billion in Wall Street bonuses were paid in 2008 as taxpayers rescued the crumbling financial system.

'That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful,' Mr Obama said.

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is investigating Wall Street bonuses, welcomed Mr Obama's comments.

'While Wall Street melted down, top executives believed that, unlike the rest of the country, they still deserved huge bonuses,' Mr Cuomo said.

For Bob Monks, a former executive who has written nine books on corporate governance, the reason is that the rich and powerful simply love their toys.

'It's a boy thing. Sort of, 'Mine's bigger than yours.' It's really childish,' said Mr Monks, a shareholder rights activist and the subject of a book called 'A Traitor to His Class.'

Mr Monks related a story about flying on someone's corporate jet. The host was devastated when, upon landing, he saw that while he planned for a limo to be waiting at the airport another captain of industry had a helicopter take him to town.

'I thought my guy was going to die. ... It's entirely about people's self-image.'

Longtime advocates of shareholder rights were handed a gift in November when Detroit auto executives flew to Washington on corporate jets to ask for billions of dollars in taxpayer money, sparking a public outrage.

More recently, it became known that former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain spent US$1.2 million (S$1.8 million) remodelling his office last year, including US$1,405 for a trash can. Merrill Lynch is owned by Bank of America, which consumed US$45 billion of taxpayer money through bailouts.

Then on Tuesday, Citigroup cancelled plans to buy a US$50 million executive jet after a White House rebuke.

'People don't become head of Merrill Lynch without having a certain sense of self-importance. Once they arrive at that position, they have all kinds of toadies tell them what geniuses they are, then of course they begin to feel their lifelong feelings of self-importance have been confirmed,' said Charles Goodstein, a psychoanalyst and professor at New York University School of Medicine.

Defenders of executive perks say generous compensation is needed to retain talent.

Sometimes it's jets but can also include home security systems, country club memberships, sports tickets and financial advice. The value of these benefits is considered income, so CEOs also sometimes get another perk: company help in paying their taxes.

'I was CEO of a bank once and it's not rocket science. You need the same skill set as somebody running a hardware store in a medium-sized town,' Mr Monks said.

Steve Thel, a former lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission and now a professor at Fordham Law School, blames compliant board members who often come from the same privileged world and can get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for attending a few meetings each year.

'It's endemic to the system. The last administration didn't think there was any structural flaw. Now across the political spectrum people feel that Wall Street executive compensation is out of control,' Prof Thel said.

He predicted Congress would pass legislation granting minority shareholders more say on pay and possibly introduce higher taxes on some parts of executive compensation.

'A year ago it was absolutely unthinkable that this would be heard in Congress,' Prof Thel said. -- REUTERS

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SS4.1.4 Singapore's Diplomacy

Topic: Managing Peace and Security - Diplomacy & Deterrence
Essential Question: How does diplomacy and deterrence help us ensure our national security?

1. Why is diplomacy important for a country like Singapore?
2. How does Singapore conduct its diplomacy?
3. How does diplomacy help Singapore safeguard its national security?


Are you a diplomat? Try this quiz to find out.

1. How far has international involvement in the UN Law of the Sea Conference enabled Singapore to optimise her limitations as a small country? Explain your answer. [12]
4F: SEQ to be done in class; 4D: SEQ to be submitted on 30 Jan 09.

WH3.1.4 Rise of Authoritarian Regimes

Topic: Rise of Authoritarian Regimes
Essential Question: Was the rise of authoritarian regimes inevitable?

1. Was the League of Nation a failure?
-What was the League of Nation set up for?
  • to solve bilateral conflicts
  • to improve socio-economic conditions
  • to promote international disarmament
It was not a failure in the 1920s but it was a failure after 1929. Can you explain why?

Understanding goals:
1. When did authoritarian regimes rise?
  • Bolsheviks (1917);Stalin (1924)
  • Nazis (1929); Hitler (1933)
  • Showa period (1926); Tanaka Giichi (1927)
2. Was the impact of Paris Peace settlements more responsible for the rise of authoritarian regimes or the League of Nations?
3. Was the rise of authoritarian regimes inevitable?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do you still think nothing about using plastic utensils?

Irreversible for 1,000 yrs

WASHINGTON - CLIMATE change is 'largely irreversible' for the next 1,000 years even if carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be abruptly halted, according to a new study led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The study's authors said there was 'no going back' after the report showed that changes in surface temperature, rainfall and sea level are 'largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after CO2 emissions are completely stopped.'

NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon said the study, published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, showed that current human choices on carbon dioxide emissions are set to 'irreversibly change the planet.'

Researchers examined the consequences of CO2 building up beyond present-day concentrations of 385 parts per million, and then completely stopping emissions after the peak. Before the industrial age CO2 in Earth's atmosphere amounted to only 280 parts per million.

The study found that CO2 levels are irreversibly impacting climate change, which will contribute to global sea level rise and rainfall changes in certain regions.

The authors emphasized that increases in CO2 that occur from 2000 to 2100 are set to 'lock in' a sea level rise over the next 1,000 years.

Rising sea levels would cause 'irreversible commitments to future changes in the geography of the Earth, since many coastal and island features would ultimately become submerged,' the study said.

Decreases in rainfall that last for centuries can be expected to have a range of impacts, said the authors. Regional impacts include - but are not limited to - decreased human water supplies, increased fire frequency, ecosystem change and expanded deserts. -- AFP

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Leftist or Rightist?

In the course of this 20th century world history, you will hear and meet historical personalities who are referred to as left-wing or right-wing and those who are authoritarian or libertarians such as these:
You can see my political compass here. Where do you stand? Click on the image above to take a test to find out! After you have completed the test,
  • Click on "Printable Graph",
  • copy the url of your political compass
  • paste under COMMENTS for this post (pls include your name). Ang pows to be won!

Unfortunately, you can't watch this film...

which makes good use of the troubled episodes of German history to explore difficult questions of choice, duty, morals and responsibility.

But you can catch this trailer; it's approved for general audience.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

WH3.1.3 League of Nations

Topic: Establishing Peace
Enquiry-question: Were the hopes of the world in preventing another world war fulfilled in the 1920s?

Review: Was harsh peace settlement imposed on Germany in 1919 necessary?

Understanding Goals:
1. How did the Big 3 try to establish peace after 1919?
  • Punish Germany: Conduct of conference + terms of Treaty of Versailles
  • Prevent another war: LON + Disarmament
2. Why was the League of Nations set up?
  • Build collective security
  • Promote disarmament
  • Improve socio-economic conditions
  • What kinds of SEQ can be asked of points 1. and 2. above?
  • How many types of SEQs are there?
  • Review SEQ assignment "Was harsh peace settlement imposed on Germany in 1919 necessary?"

SS4.1.3 Singapore's Diplomacy

Topic: Managing Peace and Security - Diplomacy & Deterrence
Essential Question: How does diplomacy and deterrence help us manage our national security?

1. Complete notes for this chapter by 20 Jan (next Tue)

1. Review of SEQ: How far was the ideological difference between North and South Korea the cause of the Korean War? Explain your answer. [12] [Recall Lesson]
2. SBQ on China-Japan History Textbook conflict (45mins to be completed in class)

Understanding goals:
How does Singapore manage international relations?
  • Bilateral diplomacy: FTAs, Humanitarian aid & cultural exchange
  • Regional diplomacy: ASEAN, APEC, AFTA, ARF
  • International diplomacy: UNCLOS, SC & GA, UNPK

How would you represent Singapore's diplomacy with a Venn diagram?


Monday, January 12, 2009

What you don't know about Gaza

By Rashid Khalidi

NEARLY everything you have been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip.

  • The Gazans: Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 360 sq km of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

  • The occupation: The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza's air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

  • The blockade: Israel's blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.

    The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment - with the tacit support of the US - of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

  • The ceasefire: Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of fewer than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The ceasefire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; Six Hamas operatives were reported killed.

  • War crimes: The targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious.

    But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have occurred had

    Israel fulfilled the terms of the June ceasefire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    This war on the people of Gaza is not really about rockets. Nor is it about 'restoring Israel's deterrence', as the Israeli press might have one believe. Far more revealing are the words of Mr Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defence Forces chief of staff, in 2002: 'The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.'

    The writer is a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University.


  • Sunday, January 11, 2009

    SS4.1.2 Causes of International Conflicts

    Topic: Managing Peace and Security - Diplomacy & Deterrence

    Essential Question: How does diplomacy and deterrence help us manage our national security?

    1. Complete notes for this chapter by 13 Jan (next Tue)

    Understanding goals:
    1. Why do conflicts occur among countries?
    2. What other examples can you think of?
    3. What is conflict?
    • territories: India-China
    • resources: Iceland-Britain
    • ideology: North & South Korea
    • history?

    4. Identify current examples of international conflicts. What are the causes?

    Assessment: SEQ
    a) To what extent were ideological differences between North and South Korean the cause of the Korean War? [12] (GCEO2004)

    'Decisive blow' on Tigers

    The ministry had already announced that the rebels were facing near 'extinction' after security forces captured their main political headquarters of Kilinochchi last week. -- PHOTO: AFP

    COLOMBO - SRI Lankan security forces were ready to deal a 'decisive blow' to the remaining Tamil Tiger positions following the capture of the highly strategic Elephant Pass, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

    After four days of fierce fighting, government forces on Friday established full control over Elephant Pass, also known as EPS, which links the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the mainland.

    'The fall of EPS has deprived the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the most crucial strategic ground, at the 'Jaffna gateway', following an eight year occupation,' the ministry said.

    'Troops are now poised at launching a decisive blow at the remaining LTTE strong points at Mulliyan, Chempiyanpattu, Chundikulam and Kaddaikadu.'

    The ministry had already announced that the rebels were facing near 'extinction' after security forces captured their main political headquarters of Kilinochchi last week following an offensive begun in March 2007.

    'The end-game of LTTE's protracted separatist cause is reaching its final stages, as the advancing security forces overran the most fortified LTTE northern garrison at EPS,' the ministry said.

    The Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting since 1972 for a separate homeland, had held the pass since April 2000, and its loss is another huge blow to the separatists after the fall of Kilinochchi last week.

    'Our forces have recorded another historic victory today,' President Mahinda Rajapakse said in a televised address to the nation on Friday.

    'That is the complete dislodging of the Tigers from Elephant Pass and the security forces establishing their authority there,' he said.

    The military now controls a 142-kilometre stretch of the important A-9 highway and can supply troops and nearly half a million civilians in Jaffna by road, the president said.

    There was no comment from the LTTE.

    Government forces were also moving towards the remaining jungle hideouts of the Tigers in the northeastern district of Mullaittivu amid rebel resistance, the army said.

    The rebels are now almost totally confined to the jungle district of Mullaittivu in the northeast, where some 300,000 civilians are also living. -- AFP

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    WH3.1.2 Paris Peace Conference & Treaty of Versailles

    Topic: Establishing Peace
    Enquiry-question: Were the hopes of the world in preventing another world war fulfilled in the 1920s?

    • Review:
      • Did WWI change the world?
      • What were the political, economic and social outcome-consequence-impact?
    • Understanding Goals:
      • What was the significance of the Paris Peace Conference?
        • Who was there? Who wasn't?
        • What were their agenda?
        • What were the outcomes?
      • What impact did the Treaty of Versailles have on Germany?
        • participants: Big 3 vs. Germany
        • problem: surrender vs. ceasefire
        • its intents & terms
        • German reactions
    • Performances:
      • What were the aims of the Big 3?
      • How were their aims evident in the terms of the Treaty of Versailles
      • What were the impact on Germany
      • Formulate a question to capture these impacts
    • Assignment:
      • SEQ: Was the tough peace settlement imposed on Germany in 1919 necessary? [12]
    What were the evidence of a harsh peace settlement?
    1. Manner in which the Paris Peace Conference was conducted:
    • diktat - Germany was excluded
    • revanche - French wanted revenge
    • armistice - Germany did not surrender
    2. Terms of the Treaty of Versailles:
    • territorial - infringement of self-determination
    • reparation - unreasonable amount
    • military - invasion of Ruhr
    • Guilt Clause - blank cheque blame
    Was it necessary?
    • What were the aims the Paris Peace Conference?
    • Were they fulfilled through the harsh peace settlement?

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    SS4.1.1 Diplomacy

    Topic: Managing Peace and Security - Diplomacy & Deterrence
    Essential Question: How does diplomacy and deterrence help us manage our national security?

    1. Complete notes for this chapter by 13 Jan (next Tue)

    Understanding goals:
    1. Why do conflicts occur among countries?
    • territories
    • resources
    • ideology
    • history?
    2. How does Singapore manage international relations?
    • Bilateral diplomacy: FTAs, Humanitarian aid & cultural exchange
    • Regional diplomacy: ASEAN, APEC, AFTA, ARF
    • International diplomacy: UNCLOS, SC & GA, UNPK
    • What are the diplomatic organisations that Singapore is involved in?
    • Which are the countries which has no diplmatic relations with Singapore?
    • When was the most recent diplomatic row involving Singapore?
    • How does diplomacy help Singapore prevent conflicts?
    • How does diplomacy help Singapore manage her national security?

    Saturday, January 03, 2009

    WH3.1.1 Impact of WWI

    Topic: War World I and its Impact
    Enquiry Question: Did WWI change the world?
    • Preview: Where is Europe?
    1. Europe before 1914
    2. Europe after 1918
    • Understanding goals: What caused World War I?
    1. Nationalism
    2. Colonial and trade rivalry
    3. Militarism
    4. System of alliances
    • Performances: Predict the impact of World War I on Europe:
    1. Nationalism and creation of nation-states
    2. Self-determination
    3. Social and economic instability

    World War I
    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    SS4.1.1 Social Studies Review 2008

    Agenda for 6 Jan 08 (Tue)
    • Revision of Social Studies SEQ and Social Studies SBQ
    • Diagnosis: Review of content & skills
    • Completed SEQs from SA2 2008. (prepare to stay back late late if this is not completed properly)
    • 2008 Social Studies SA2 Question Paper (if you have misplaced it, which you should not, download from Files)

    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    Welcome back!

    Dear students,

    Welcome to a new academic year. In order for the year to proceed fruitfully, it is best to start it well. Every subsequent preparation will determine how the year will turn out for you. For a start, here are some items you should have in class for next week:
    1. Your notebook (with completed notes of Sec 3 SS and HE chapters)
    2. Your completed SEQs from Sec 3 SA2 (2 SEQs you did not attempt for SS and HE)
    3. Your Social Studies textbook (check Schedule for topic)
    4. Your Sec 3 SA2 marks and your 2009 targets (some peoples' marks are on loan remember?)
    5. Sign-up for Google group before the promotion period ends (you will need the files!)
    See you next week! Best!