Thinking Thursdays: 8/23
6 Items to Think About.
What’s in the news, what’s important, what’s relevant.
a person: Angela Merkel
Germany’s president was named number one out of “The 100 Women Who Run The World” on Forbes list. When it comes to Forbes, you can’t really argue with them; the selection for this list was pretty spot-on, although I kind of had to chuckle at the inclusion of J.Lo (as much as I love her) on a list which includes presidents and major CEOs. Merkel represents a top world power, and a European one at that (when did France ever have a female president, let alone a French queen? And don’t get me started on Queen Elizabeth’s ‘influence’ on Britain). Merkel doesn’t just manage to keep her country afloat; she has other countries quaking in their boots (read: Greece, Italy and all those other broke, penniless Eurozone countries) and wields power over world issues. Getting the US to listen to your side? You go, Merkel!
a place: Russia
Although the former-Cold War enemy is never out of the spotlight, thanks to it’s notorious on-off leader Vladimir Putin, the country has taken on another act of notoreity which the rest of the world will not let go. Punk-rock feminist band Pussy Riot, with their robber-on-acid ski masks and primary-color Bloc outfits, have captured the world’s attention, especially in the wake of the arrest of three of the members (I’m sure their name had nothing to do with interest in the band’s plight). Russians are often arrested for protesting the government, but this just highlighted exactly how much freedom of speech is lacking in the country, not to mention how much Putin appears to be a dictator (for starters, he’s always back in the drivers seat). This, and the fact that the Pussy Rioters’ fate also involves “hard labor in a gulag”–I mean labor camp–indicates that Russia is NOWHERE near Democracy. So please excuse me if I suggest that the country will not be a “true” world power in the years to come.
a thing: Product Labels
South Africa bans “Made in Israel” labels on Palestine products. According to an article on France’s Le monde, leaders of South Africa’s Jewish community were “outragés”par cette mesure “discriminatoire et qui sème la discorde”.’ In other words, they found it racist that South Africa would impose such a ban and insist on marking the products as from “Occupied territory.” Trying to sow discord? Yes. Concerned about the economy? This has every bit to do with politics. And to be quite frank, although it seems petty to be fighting about technicalities, technicality and “wording” is at the heart of the Palestine-Israel conflict, isn’t it? Who does this small strip of land belong to, and what do you call it?
an event: Eid al-fiTr.
Muslims around the world celebrated the end of Ramadan, the period of fasting which marks the time during which the Prophet Mohammad scribed the Qu’ran as was instructed by him, with the festival of Eid al-fiTr. Starting at sundown on August 18th in most of the world, Eid is marked by feasting for three days (you’d want to feast for that long, too, if you hadn’t eaten properly for a month!) Around the world celebrations varied, from the government of New York honoring the occasion and the city’s Muslim population by lighting up the Empire State building with Islamic colors; to Qatar’s lavish fireworks display in Doha; to Palestinians enjoying Eid on the beach in Tel Aviv. Eid, in it’s religious sense (that is, the amount of awareness celebrants have in it’s true meaning) is probably celebrated by more people than Christmas in it’s true, religious sense (that is, not in terms of Santa Claus and presents) and it will be interesting to see how it’s presence grows in the media in the coming years as Islam becomes a more important presence in world affairs (as if it weren’t already).
an idea: Socialism: Is a Welfare State a Good thing?
(Conservative) Americans are always denouncing Obamacare, Obama’s attempt to “socialize” (oh my!) the American people, and give the American people a fighting chance (or at least a chance to prove that countries like France and Sweden aren’t the only ones with a rocking welfare state). Sadly, even if Obamacare makes it through the slog, we have a LONG way to go in terms of being a proper welfare state, mainly because the programs already in place are selective. Unlike countries like France and Sweden, where the entire population, even if they’re rolling in the millions, has the same access to the same welfare programs, America’s social system works on the presumption that if you don’t have a job or money to your name, you get help. Never mind the fact that many of these people are simply lazy, which is why they don’t have a job, or are addicted to drugs/alcohol and proceed to spend the money they receive on those drugs and alcohol that make them so unable to hold down a job/normal life. And please don’t get me started on programs like the Educational Opportunity Program. Getting rewarded for doing poorly in school? Perhaps France and Sweden’s socialist models are just and reasonable, but America’s is NOT.
a word/quote: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Republican senate candidate Todd Aiken from Missouri shared his personal opinion on how pregnancy cannot rise “from legitimate rape” and, predictably, received shock and outrage from people across the country. No thinking, no pondering, no musing, absolutely not one more second has to be wasted on this ludicrously, (unfortunately) legitimate quote from a legitimately brain-dead representative. And people (legitimately) want him to represent them in Congress? Even if I was a staunch Tea Partyer and virulently anti-abortion, I would still hide in shame that a member of my party could make such a remark.