Europe

Millennial Travel Guide: A Day Trip To Northern Ireland

Another weekend in Ireland calls for another day trip!

My roommates and I decided to make the journey to Northern Ireland to see Belfast City, Giant’s Causeway, and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge as a quick getaway from Dublin.

Not leaving the island, but being in a different country was another thing I could check off my bucket list after our excursion to the United Kingdom.

We left Dublin with our Paddywagon tour and headed North!

The luck of the Irish was with us again as we got nearly perfect weather for a day, according to Northern Ireland standards.

Everything’s just better when the weather cooperates.

Our first stop was particularly exciting for me, as a huge Game of Thrones fan.

We got to see THE Dark Hedges on the King’s Road.

This iconic destination was beautiful regardless if you watch the show or not, but definitely a bonus for those of us with an obsession.

Back on the bus we continued on to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

The bridge connects the mainland to Carrick Island.

It was originally built by fishermen so they could cast nets over the wide chasm; however, now it is purely a tourist attraction for the brave.

We watched as people crossed before us and the 100 feet drop didn’t seem to daunting.

The second I stepped on that bridge the 100 feet felt like 1000.

Once I got over initial fear of the height I was able to fully enjoy the views and they were spectacular.

Watering crashing below, cliffs on either side, and only wood and a few ropes under my feet is something I’ve never experienced.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a definite must-see of Northern Ireland.

The main attraction of our tour was Giant’s Causeway.

This place truly blew my mind.

There are over 40,000 basalt columns formed through volcanic burning and cooling.

The formations are reportedly 60 million years old and even have the legend of Finn McCool to try to explain the fanaticism of the site.

We hopped from rock to rock with the ocean in front of us and the mountains behind us.

It was a picturesque scene everywhere we looked.

This seems to be a common theme of my travels.

After two hours of climbing, sitting, and taking in the views we had to say goodbye to Giant’s Causeway.

Honestly still confused how volcanic rock can form into hexagons and be stacked so perfectly together.

We ended the day by getting a little time to explore Belfast City.

Steeped in history, we were overwhelmed by the city’s tumultuous past.

The effects of the Troubles are still seen today with conflict between the Protestants and Catholics of the city.

Regardless of the dangerous past of Belfast, the city center offered us a glimpse into the urban side of Northern Ireland.

It was a great ending to a great day. When you’re on an island as beautiful as I am, there’s no reason not to explore as much as possible.

Read More: Millennial Travel Guide: A Day Trip To Ireland’s Majestic Cliffs Of Moher

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Millennial Travel Guide: A Day Trip To Ireland’s Majestic Cliffs Of Moher

This semester I am fortunate enough to be studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland at University College Dublin.

While very different than my home university back in Massachusetts, Dublin quickly stole my heart and I am loving being across the pond.

There are many perks of studying abroad, but one of the best has to be the opportunity to take travel to places I’ve only seen in pictures.

This past weekend’s day trip- the Cliffs of Moher!

Rising 700 feet above the Atlantic and stretching just under five miles along Ireland’s western coast, the Cliffs of Moher offer some of nature’s more spectacular views.

Getting within a foot of these dropoffs is not for the faint of heart, but my friend and I made the journey west from Dublin to spend the day marvelling at one of the most beautiful places Ireland has to offer.

Finally after a 4-hour bus ride filled with traditional Irish music and Irish fun facts, we made it to the Cliffs along with 300 other people all wanting to see what the hype is about.

One thing to note, I didn’t choose to study abroad in Ireland for the weather.

Usually around 50 degrees with a constant damp breeze, Ireland’s infamous weather is nothing desireable.

However, this past weekend it was all sun.

Throughout our day travelling to and from the Cliffs my friend and I repeatedly said how lucky we were to have such a good day.

Luck of the Irish is obviously a real thing.

This was my second time to the Cliffs since January, but I could go ten more times and still be blown away.

Regardless of how many people are there, the expansiveness makes you feel like you’re there alone.

Sitting in the grass on the side of the cliff (a safe distance because I don’t have a death wish of course), soaking in much needed vitamin D and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is a feeling I’ll never forget.

The town of Kinvara.

The Cliffs of Moher are truly one of the natural wonders of the world and being able to experience such beauty is something I hope everyone can get the chance to experience.

After a classic fish n’ chips lunch is a nearby town, my friend and I hopped back on the bus and made our way back to Dublin.

We stopped in a little town called Kinvara and looked at the iconic Connolly’s Bar.

 

Travelling coast to coast in one day is something I’m not used to being from the United States, but seeing the Emerald Isle in all its sunny glory last weekend was truly a day trip for the books.

To anyone questioning whether or not to study abroad, take the chance and DO IT!

A day trip to the Cliffs of Moher could be in your future, too.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: Clare Connolly

A Response To The Article “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends”

Wait.

Aren’t racism and race hatred the same thing?

Actually, no they aren’t.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, in order for one to be a racist, he or she must possess the belief that “all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

If that is true, then the racists of the world form a rather big tent, consisting of two main camps.

In the first camp, there are those who can be considered racists on the grounds because they take racial stereotypes into account in their thought process, and therefore may subconsciously think one race is inferior than another because its members are unable to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes.

In the second camp, there are those who harbor an actual hatred for other races and seek to undermine and/or destroy them, because they believe that races are inherently designed to function as if they were countries, forming alliances with and against one another.

Although most people don’t stop for a moment and realize these distinctions when thinking about racism, it is important they do.

There are many good people out there who view racism as a cancer that needs to be eradicated.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the commonly accepted strategy to combat racism isn’t working.

A few days ago, I read an article written by my fellow RISE NEWS contributor Courtney Anderson titled “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends.”

The multiple uses of the absolutist word “only” to describe the traits of certain races (“Only one of us can actually experience racism, and it isn’t him;” “The only people with societal power are white people;” “White people are the only people who are not negatively affected by racial stereotypes;” “They are also the only ones who can safely have “dialogue” with racist individuals.”) is a perfect example of how a good-natured person can be racist without realizing it.

While Anderson is (hopefully) not trying to portray white people as an enemy, she is relying on stereotypes to make her point. Let me ask you two questions.

1) Is it possible for white people to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who are unable to experience racism, hold societal power, are not negatively affected by stereotypes, and are safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?

2) Is it possible for other races to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who do not hold any power and are not safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?

The answer to both of these questions is “yes.”

It is possible for white people to experience racism?

Any white person… sorry… any person who read that article technically did, due to the presence of absolutist language that creates stereotypes.

Is it possible for someone other than a white person to hold power?

Let’s ask Barack Obama.

Is it possible for white people people to be negatively affected by stereotypes?

Yes, because stereotypes are relied upon by race haters who seek to construct a narrative regarding the nature of what they consider to be monolithic entities whose members are incapable of dissenting, and therefore cause every single person who is a member of the races perceived to be at war to have weapons aimed at them, whether they know it or not.

And finally, is it possible for minorities to have dialogue with racist individuals without risking harm to themselves?

As previously stated, by writing her article, Anderson has displayed a racist trait, right here on RISE NEWS.

And that’s okay.

Because racism is such a broad topic, and there are different kinds of people who can be classified as racists, whose overall natures range from friendly to malevolent, the best way to attack racism and make it a thing of the past is to start at different levels.

Let’s ask ourselves a question.

Which racists are the most problematic?

The most harmful to our society?

The ones that are calling for open warfare between the races. Groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, the New Black Panthers, etc.

These groups are willing to balkanize this country and cause it to descend into lawlessness in the name of their agendas.

Most people who like to crack jokes about racial stereotypes because they like politically incorrect humor, and most people who refer to racial stereotypes when issuing grievances about the state of our society, don’t want to see that happen.

In that case, those of us who do not abide by stereotypes in our mindsets, need to offer an olive branch to those who do but still want peace, law, and order, and vice versa. And those of us who do abide by stereotypes need to do the same with others who abide by stereotypes of our own race (and perhaps play “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Avenue Q on our phones when talking to them).

This suggestion may sound ridiculously stupid to you, but this approach has been made before. And the last time it was, it saved the country.

Let’s not forget that during the Civil War, when this country was on the edge of descending into oblivion, Abraham Lincoln forged alliances with Congressional Democrats who supported slavery but opposed secession, and even named one, Andrew Johnson, as his Vice President when he ran for re-election in 1864.

Hell, even Lincoln himself had some racist tendencies, having advocated the resettlement of freed slaves back to Africa and saying that his motivation for freeing the slaves was to protect the union and allow African-Americans to enjoy the fruit of their labor as opposed to them being entitled to universal human rights.

But yet, he knew what must be done. He put aside his feelings and acted according to his duties as Commander in Chief and as a citizen of the United States.

Another question that you may be asking now is, “is the state our society as grave as it was 155 years ago, that we must follow this course of action?” I say “no. Not yet.”

Our political climate is changing.

Prominent voices on both sides of the political spectrum are arguing that the current system isn’t working.

We have people like Bernie Sanders saying, “we must be more like the European Left.”

And we have the alt-right saying, “we must be more like the European Right.”

Both the European Right and the European Left are serving as destabilizing forces that are fueling the collapse of a once-promising economic bloc and the rise of ethnic nationalism and separatism. Some view this decay as the prelude to war in the region.

In that case, if our politics begins to resemble Europe’s more and more, shouldn’t we have the same fears as what will happen at home as well as abroad?

I have no doubts that if civil disorder or civil war breaks out, self-proclaimed “racial warriors” will be at the forefront.

If they are indeed planning what I suspect they are planning, they need to be stopped, and they need to be stopped sooner rather than later.

We need all the allies we can get. We need to put politics, religion, gender, age, differences on political correctness, etc aside. No more talking about “privilege,” “wealth,” or “power.” And no more talking about who needs to do it either.

Talk about government, and you will alienate potential conservative allies. Talk only about how we as a community are going to act on the individual level. Act peacefully. Engage in dialogue. Get those whose hearts are immersed in darkness to see the light. Only fight back when attacked.

Our country doesn’t have much time for infighting between those who love peace, freedom, and security.

Those who fought and won the Civil War realized this.

And I pray to my God that we do, too.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Far Right In Germany Is Starting To Rise Again And It Should Worry Us All

Germany and the far right of the political spectrum do not historically mix.

So why is it that a party of the far right (granted, one not nearly as radical or hate-filled as the Nazi Party was) is picking up steam in the largest and most powerful European Union country?

In recent weeks, the Alternative for Germany (AFD) has achieved regional representation in eight German states. There are 16 German states in total.

AFD is a far right populist party in a similar vein as the National Front in France and UKIP in the United Kingdom.

The ragtag party has managed to bite at the heels of the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), and appears to be gaining popularity across the country.

This is largely due to the anti immigration platform of the party in response to Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s policies on resettling refugees, primarily from Syria.

AFD has a unique opportunity for swift gains due to its novel position on the political spectrum.

A pro right wing backlash has been felt across the West, be it the Tea Party or Euroskeptics, but AFD has been making attempts at separating itself from the most extreme elements of German political life.

On the party’s official site, AFD disowns the support of NPD, a far right party infamous for its ties strong association with Nazis in both a fashion sense and in antisemitism.

According to the Q&A section of the party’s website, the AFD breaks with the ranks of other far right parties by being in support of continued German participation in both the EU and NATO, though with caveats to both of these organizations that favor a more independent foreign policy.

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A German man walking with a beer. Photo Credit: Alexander Mueller/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

AFD also voices disapproval of TTIP (a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and Europe), subsidies for energy research, while favoring “re-nationalizing” of the banking sector, and promoting marriage between men and women as “politically desirable”.

All of these positions seem to indicate that AFD is interested in focusing inward, and is not particularly hostile to longstanding German policy.

Despite this resemblance closer to the American Republican Party than particularly sinister right wing parties like PEGIDA, the party has been moved more so to the extreme by the Party’s president Frauke Petry, who has brought anti-immigration rhetoric and closer ties to the Kremlin to the forefront of its public perception.

This will likely only continue due to the departure of the party’s moderating influence, Bernd Lucke, cofounder of AFD, left the party in 2015 when ousted from the party presidency by Petry.

Lucke founded another Euroskeptic party Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA), and complained that  AFD had grown far too xenophobic.

RISE NEWS  is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Martin Fisch/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

I Traveled Around Europe And Took Lots Of Selfies With People Making Out In The Background

When I studied abroad in Prague from February to June 2015, I spent a lot of time exploring parks and green spaces.

I also quickly noticed I was one of the only people walking along without some sort of dog or lover companion.

For people who don’t often make eye contact with strangers, Czech people have off-the-charts PDA.

I thought this was stunning and hilarious so I decided to take advantage of it through a photo series. Most of the photos are from Prague in the daytime, and I expanded as I traveled to other cities across Europe.

When I saw people locking lips on the street, I would snap quick selfies. I challenged myself to make sure the people in the picture didn’t know I was taking it, which was never really much of a challenge at all:

Prague:

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I found these two making out on the sidewalk as I was on my way to meet friends in downtown Prague.

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Objects are closer than they appear.

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Just about all of these were more than quick pecks – I had to have the time to notice the pair kissing, find my phone, position it and snap the picture all while they were still smooching.

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I felt like pictures in bars were kind of cheap shots, but this happened at my table so I made an exception.

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Not my best work. The three of us were the only ones in sight, and I was happy to keep my distance.

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This one was an accomplishment. Partly because I ran four miles before I took this picture, partly because it was my only horizontal find.

Madrid

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In this one, it almost looks like one person sitting on a Madrid park bench. It looked that way in person too

Italy

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These two were feeling the heat on a balmy June afternoon in Italy. Really, what better way to pass the time between train strikes?

Poland

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Krakow, Poland, is surrounded by an outstanding green belt. These two took full advantage of it.

Have a funny or interesting story to tell? Send us an email to editor@risenews.net.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Poland Is Swiftly Drifting Towards Authoritarianism And It Could Put Us All In Danger

Poland’s ruling party, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), has been the source of controversy in Poland and throughout Europe nearly since their arrival to power in October of 2015.

This has been driven by the party’s Euroskeptic agenda, questionable legislation, and generally hostile behavior. As a result, the strategic readiness of the entire Euro-Atlantic area is compromised due to growing fissures between European allies.

The Party’s platform in regards to Poland’s relations with other states emphasizes expansion and modernization of Poland’s military, as well as strong cooperation with the UN, NATO, and in particular the United States.

They are wary of integration with the EU than NATO, but not outright opposed like other European right-wing parties like UKIP in the United Kingdom. It should also be noted that PiS favors further centralization of Poland’s government, which is the source of PiS’s disruptive effect on alliance readiness and cohesion.

The troubles began in December, when PiS moved to replace 15 judges on the Constitutional Court, the primary check against the Parliament.

The troubles began in December, when PiS moved to replace 15 judges on the Constitutional Court, the primary check against the Parliament. This resulted in weeks of protest from concerned Poles.

Shortly after this affront to checks and balances, military police were dispatched to replace officials at a NATO Counterintelligence Center in Krakow.

This change of staff was not relayed to other members of the alliance, including Slovak officials charged with cooperatively coordinating the facility who chastised the move, though no changes were made to the Slovak staff.

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From (L to R) the Polish Flag, EU flag, and the NATO flag. Photo Credit: Pawel Kabanski/Flickr (CC by S.A.2.0)

On Jan. 7 of this year, President Andrzej Duda (who resigned from PiS after being elected last May to serve as an independent) signed into law new supreme powers for the Treasury Minister over appointments and firings from state media, as opposed to the previous system of contests hosted by the National Broadcast Council.

This was followed by further protests against the government, and the first of its kind investigation by the EU of PiS’s undemocratic legislation.  In the most extreme circumstances this can lead to Poland having its voting rights in the EU Parliament suspended.

The Polish government has responded to this inquiry with aggression at the perceived source of this hostility (Germany) with attacks.

This includes drawing allusions to Nazi Germany in both print, depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel in the garb of Adolf Hitler, and a tough letter from Poland’s Justice Minister aimed at the German EU commissioner.

“You demanded that Poland be placed under supervision. Such words, spoken by a German politician, have the worst possible connotations for Poles,” Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said in a letter to the German EU commissioner Gunther Oettinger according to the Financial Times.

This verbal jab is in spite of relations being so warm in 2014 that Germany and Poland agreed to an exchange of commanders of battalions, a German commanding a Polish unit and vice versa, in order to better understand how their allies work.

The military exchange is set to occur in mid 2016. This kind of exchange is critical to belaying atrophy in a highly critical region of NATO’s frontier. If relations deteriorate to the point that this kind of mutually beneficial cooperation is cancelled, it would be a bad signal to Euro-Atlantic security.

These continued worrying actions in affairs, both foreign and domestic, will likely only further isolate Poland from its allies, which in turn damages the readiness of the entire alliance.

While these effects are likely short-term, and may be rectified due to the popular discontent of the Polish people, and pressure from the EU, serious disagreements are a real possibility. Allied states being unwilling to train together would present a much weaker deterrent to any hypothetical Russian adventures in the Baltic Region, due to the much weaker unit cohesion.

With NATO’s 2016 Warsaw Conference coming up, frosty relations may limit the effectiveness of any measures taken at the conference. This would be in stark contrast to the highly productive 2014 Wales Conference, which established the Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce (VJTF), a multinational brigade that can be deployed within 48 hours to respond to a crisis, preceding the full force of the 40,000 man NATO Response Force (NRF).

Thus, it is in the best interest of a party that claims to value Poland’s NATO membership to repair these ties, and perhaps reevaluate how much it values NATO’s deeply entwined sister organization, the EU.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

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Cover Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Angela Merkel Named Time Magazine “Person of the Year”

In a nod to her decision to open her country’s borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees and handling of the terror threat that has recently put Europe on high alert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named Time Magazine’s ” Person of the Year” on Wednesday. Merkel, 61, has led Germany for a decade. Throughout 2015,… Read More

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