Tales of Little Miss Type A

Pearls, Politics & Perception


Perceptions of Politics

A Discussion: Limitations of Social Media’s Influence

I’m going to be honest, not many things surprise me anymore. Not the drivers on the road who choose to tailgate me, or any entitled customers. So why was I so surprised to learn the majority of the U.S. knows little to nothing about domestic policy?

I guess I just expected more from a nation that prides itself on having one of the best education systems in the world.

In March 2013, after the United States announced the number of Syrian refugees from the Syrian civil war had reached the 1 million mark, a Pew Research survey found only about 50% of U.S. citizens could identify Syria on a map. Yet, the same survey stated more than 60% of the population (in age ranges from 18-50+) could identity the Twitter logo.

Here are my questions:
What is the use of communicating information the public has absolutely no background on, or inclination regarding circumstance? Who’s job is it to provide this information? Journalists? Schools (what level of education)? Individuals?
How can this information be communicated on a mulit-dimensional platform such as Twitter, while maintaining, in essence, at least a bilateral argument?

Recognizing not everyone is well-versed in political rhetoric, I must therefore ask what is the minimal amount of this rhetoric all people should know? We live in a “democracy” right, but who should decide this?

I don’t have all the answers and I know not one person does. So, let’s make this an ongoing discussion. So please comment below, or repost this with a response & let’s create some dialogue!


Obama’s Approval Rating Skyrockets

By Veronica U.-K.

Within the past week, Obama’s approval ratings have skyrocketed…possibly faster than America’s call for Clinton’s impeachment.

Following months of stagnant approval ratings, a new CNN/ORC poll finds that for the first time in over two years, 50% of Americans approve of his actions, mainly from his handling of issues of race, gender, and the economy.

Two Supreme Court cases seem to be at the heart of it all, as upholding the government subsidies at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, and the legalization of same-sex couples’ right to marry have boosted the president’s legacy,

Of course, the president took several opportunities to acknowledge racial tensions. Amid protest, riots, the deaths of several African-American men at the hands of police officers, and the racially motivated shooting in Charleston in mid-June. The poll finds 55% approve, while 42% disapprove. Numbers are up from 50% who approved in the May survey.

Obama’s approval rating for handling the economy has also climbed, making it the first time approval for Obama’s handling of the economy has topped 50% in CNN/ORC polling, in nearly six years. With a jump from 46% (May) to 52% (new poll).

Oh and Let’s not forget his performance of “Amazing Grace,” which ended this monumental week of progress.

However, sustaining these numbers, according to the poll, will require the president to overcome the notion that race relations have only become worse, under his time in office.

Overall, 74% of Americans say racial discrimination against African-Americans in the U.S. is a very or somewhat serious problem. this number is up from 57% saying so five years ago. Even scarier, Among African-Americans, 80% now describe this as a very serious issue, up from 42% five years ago. Forty-five percent of African-Americans say they face discrimination in public or at their jobs once a month, if not more.

Obama’s numbers reflect the nation’s sharp divides along racial lines. Although 91% of African-Americans say they approve of Obama’s handling of the presidency, only 39% of whites do; its quite an unfriendly 52-point gap. Obama’s approval rating among whites hasn’t been above 50% since 2009, while his approval rating among African-Americans has rarely dipped below 80%.

For Americans, being faced with racism is a topic they would be willing to challenge. Approximately, 6 out of ten people would be likely to challenge a close friend and 45% would be willing to challenge a stranger.
Meanwhile, only 42% of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of gun policy and 53% disapprove. Quite an improvement for the president since the spring of 2014, when just only 33% approved.Yet, it is slightly worse than the 46% who approved about a month after the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Of course, Liberals and Democrats are less apt to say they approve of the way the President is handling gun control than they are on issues regarding  the economy or race relations. But their reviews are improving, as they rise 16 points among Democrats and 13 points among liberals.

Still, only 4 out of 10 Americans believe stricter laws could reduce the number of gun related deaths in the U.S.

Just 35% of Americans think the government and society itself can take effective action to prevent shootings like the one in Charleston from happening again. 64% say such shootings will happen regardless of the government’s decisions, which is a bit more pessimistic than in December 2012. Following the shootings in Newtown, 46% believed government action could truly help prevent future incidents. On this issue, at least, the new poll finds racial unity, with more than 6 out of 10 whites and blacks alike saying action won’t help.

A Flag is Not Simply a Flag

By Veronica Ung-Kono

Bible study–a time for prayer and reflection. No one expected a tragedy so great on June 17th, when shooter, Dylann Roof, walked into the bible study group of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and killed nine people, including the Church’s pastor and Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

The following Monday, local leaders announced they would hold a rally at 11 a.m. the next day, right before the General Assembly would go into session to ask lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag in front of the State Capitol.

“The time has come for the General Assembly to do what it ought to have done a long time ago, which is to remove this symbol of division and even of terrorism to some,” said Rev. Nelson B. Rivers told CNN at a press conference. He said the flag symbolizes the worst of South Carolina’s history and belongs in a place where it can be viewed as history.

Removing it would be an honor to those who lost their lives, he said.

Agreeing with Rivers, South Carolina state Rep. Doug Brannon, a Republican, remarked, “I’ve been in the House five years. I should have filed that bill five years ago. But the time is now, I can’t let my friend the senator’s death go without fundamental change in South Carolina,” Brannon told CBS News, regarding the death of Democratic state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

However, many in South Carolina have voiced their opinions to keep the flag, calling it a “symbol of their heritage.”

As the debate to remove the flag continues, many of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination now find themselves in an uncomfortable position, as they attempt to prevent the alienation of certain Southern conservatives, while remaining loyal to the African-American voters they pledged to make more of an effort to court. Many have expressed their grief for the tragedy, but say the decision lies within the border lines of the state. Meanwhile South Carolinians await a decision.

One thing is for sure, the “Stainless Banner” has left a large stain on the state of South Carolina.

How Economics are Empowering Women

Photo: UN Women/ Stephanie Raison

By Veronica U.-K.

In an area mostly noted for its highest mountain, Tanzanian women are giving Mt. Kilimanjaro some competition in fame, as women rise in economic influence in the northern Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania.

According to UN Women, more than 1,000 Tanzanian women have started businesses, joined savings and loans groups, and sought legal advice to claim their rights, through the UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality.

The goal of the Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Consultancy Organization (KWIECO) is to increase vulnerable women’s incomes, access to legal support, and an overall awareness of their rights. Establishing peer support groups, increasing the availability of information, and skill-building these women are able to gain the confidence and capacity to challenge previous violations of their rights, in order to generate a sustainable income.

Living in a strict patriarchal society, women of Kilimanjaro are often not allowed to own or inherit land. Often this lack of knowledge will leave a woman destitute, should her husband die. So, increasing awareness of the violations of their rights has been crucial in supplementing encouragement, states KWIECO’s executive Director, Elizabeth Minde, “If women come out of their shell, then you had better help them. We have to work long hours and overtime now to meet the demand.”

Even meeting once a week to discuss their problems is difficult. Approximately, transportation by motorbike—the only transportation available—costs USD 2.50, which is a significant cost, in a region where 79% of women earn less than USD 1.0 per day. During meetings, women discuss their problems, receive training and contribute USD 0.50 to the savings scheme for loans.

Legal officer Anna Gabriel is hopeful of the project’s future. Having trained 516 women on issues including human rights, gender equality, and marriage laws, 50 women are expected to be helped by pursuing cases through the courts. Such cases are mainly related to inheritance rights, domestic violence, and unpaid child support. “Having access to money made the women come forward. Some of the women knew about their rights but a barrier to accessing their rights is economic independence,” said Ms. Gabriel.

Project coordinators believe the most noticeable impact of the program is the increase in confidence of the women, as they unite in solidarity. Interviewed by UN Women, famer nad widow, Rose Davis believes, “From associating with fellow women in the group you feel less lonely,” she says, adding that her world changed “through the exchange of ideas … and also from the interaction with other women … and the loan that I accessed. Although it is not all that I need, there has been an improvement.”

Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo acknowledged the importance of women’s economic mobilization on 2 June 2015, at the Facebook supported Boost Your Business workshop for women Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) owners in Cape Town, stating, “the global GDP could rise up to $1.5 trillion, if women entrepreneurs participate equally.”

Let’s Hear It For Ireland

Having only known the connotations of Irish people being loud, Catholic, red haired individuals who always know where the best bar is, I’ll admit I was surprised to hear that Ireland was surprised when I open up my Twitter a few days ago to see the hashtag #IrelandVoteYes trending.

In a recent article by Hanna Ingber of The New York Times Brighid and Padraic Whyte discuss the issue of same-sex marriage and how Padraic came out to his parents thirteen years ago. Making a short video in March that went viral, the couple has been depicted, as the unheard but always present, robust support for same-sex marriage in the Catholic country.

I’ll admit, this came as a surprise, but something I am definitely supporting. Much of the news has lately been on U.S. states legalizing same-sex marriage, but never federal-scale change, like this. Being that the U.S. has pretty much been the most well-known leader in social reform, I expected that to be the U.S.’s next step. Oops. Didn’t see this one coming.

Ireland will (hopefully) be the first country to legalize same sex-marriage by a national vote, rather than through legislation or the courts.

Twenty other countries have already legalized same-sex marriage including: the Netherlands (2000), Canada (2005), Spain (2005) , Denmark (2012), Norway (2009)  Sweden( 2009), and France (2013). Not to mention Finland, which will go into effect in 2017.

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Ethiopian Blogger Atnaf Berahane: Young, Courageous, and in Jail


Ya Media

Last April, nine bloggers and journalists were arrested in Ethiopia. Several of these men and women had worked with Zone9, a collective blog that covered social and political issues in Ethiopia and promoted human rights and government accountability. And four of them were Global Voices authors. In July, they were charged under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. They have been behind bars ever since, their trial postponed time and again.

Last week, we featured our debut post from a series – “They Have Names” – that hopes to highlight the individual bloggers who are currently in jail. We wish to humanize them, to tell their particular and peculiar stories. This week, Ghanaian author, Kofi Yeboah, writes about the youngest of the Zone9ers, Atnaf Berahane.

Atnaf Berahane, 26 years old, is the youngest of the Zone9 bloggers. He was arrested in Ethiopia on April 25 and 26, 2014 alongside Abel Wabela, Befeqadu Hailu, Mahlet…

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The BBC is in for a Real Fight

A majority Conservative government was the nightmare of Europe’s largest public broadcaster…and it has finally happened.

This reality is sure to be the fight of the century, as Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron had not even finished announcing his new Cabinet, when the British press declared the two would be at war.

According to the British media, the appointment of John Whittingdale, a Conservative stalwart and former advisor of Margaret Thatcher, as the minister overseeing broadcasting policy, was the “opening barrage in what will be a brutal fight.”

Despite, the somewhat comically overrated fight, The BBC will have to tread carefully. Emerging from a Tory government, lasting five years, may change the entire look of the public broadcaster.

Though the corporation is editorially independent of the British state, relying on 3.7 billion euros of its annual 5 billion euros budget will make negotiations to say the least, difficult. Oh and let’s not forget this is the same party that has accused journalists of left-wing bias and promised voters no increase in their contributions to BBC.

After Whittingdale’s appointment was announced, the front page of The Daily Telegraph  thundered, “Tories go to war on the BBC.” Meanwhile, the Times proclaimed, “Cameron’s shot across the bows to the BBC.”

The BBC’s programming consists of nine TV channels, 16 radio stations and on the most heavily trafficked news websites. As promised by the company, it is expected that the quality of programs will suffer, as around one billion euros have already been slashed from their budget, by the previous government. Still, the broadcasting company attempts to retain its universal, compulsory license fee, which it argues is best mechanism for funding its services.

However, unlike his predecessors as Culture Secretary, Whittingdale is allegedly knowledgeable of the issues affecting the broadcasting company. Claire Enders, founder of Ender’s Analysis recently told Politico, “It is by far the best appointment that the government could have made.”

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, The BBC’s director-general told the staff of the debate that is sure to take center-stage and proposed the debate be met with confidence. According to Politico, he concluded saying, “The BBC is a treasured national asset, but it of course cannot be immune to change.”

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