August 2019




Russian Sociologists Reveal Global Link Between Ageing, Conservative Attitudes and Values

Working Parents: Giving parents a helping hand

This tweet about mass shootings needs to define the term

Highly Educated Young People at Core of Hong Kong Protests

The connection between a person’s age and their values is a subject which has enjoyed widespread debate by sociologists and political scientists alike. By comparing the relationship between these criteria as applied to different nations, Russian researchers think they’ve found new insights into whether the phenomenon can be said to be universal.

Researchers from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy & Public Administration (RANEPA), the Higher School of Economics, and the Institute of Sociology have discovered that although regional factors such as culture can affect the correlative relationship, the overall connection between ageing and conservative attitudes and values appears to be a global one, while the desire to change, shape and transform the world around us fades into the background as we age.

To reach to their conclusions, the sociologists applied the human values outlined in US psychologist Dr Shalom Schwarz’s theory to recent results from the World Values Survey, a global research project exploring people’s values and beliefs. In their research, they studied the relationship between the age and personal values of respondents from countries around the world, including Eastern and Western Europe, the English-speaking world, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, and North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the theory of basic human values developed by Dr Schwarz, the values of ‘conservation’ are associated with things like safety, tradition, and social harmony, while openness to change, on the other hand, is tied to concepts including self-direction and stimulation; caring for others, or ‘self-transcendence’ is tied to ideas of benevolence and universalism (or tolerance), and is also associated with ageing, while self-enhancement (a tendency among youth) is rooted in values of seeking power, achievement and pleasure.

"We have established that throughout the world, the values of different age groups change as they age according to a single pattern," Sergei Shulgin, a senior researcher at RANEPA’s international laboratory of demography and human capital, explained.

"As they age, people become more inclined to share the values of conservatism and concern for others, while values of openness to change and self-affirmation gradually fade into the background. At the same time, although regional specificities do exist, reflecting cultural differences of various macro-regions, they do not change the overall picture," the academic noted.

Global Trends

The researchers found, for example, that in Western Europe, people tend to become less open to change, or to strive toward self-affirmation, as they age, while the values of tradition and caring for others set in. The same seems true in the case of other former colonies populated predominantly by migrants from the British Isles.

In Eastern Europe, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Serbia, the differences between the value systems of the young and old along these indicators tend to be even stronger, with young people actively striving to build a career, have a more flexible outlook on life and, and are more prepared to move to a new place in search of a better life; the elderly, meanwhile, simply want stability. According to the researchers, the latter tendency may be connected to societal processes associated with the end of communism in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s.

Interestingly, however, Sergei Shulgin noted that the marked difference between the values of the young and the old is something which can be traced not only when comparing post-industrial democratic societies and former communist states, but the vast majority of developing countries as well.

"In developing countries, the values of traditionalism are inherent among the elderly and alien to youth to roughly the same extent as they are in the developed West," the researcher explained.

In other words, in countries like Algeria, Iraq, Tunisia and Turkey, the elderly become only slightly more conservative than youth when compared to their counterparts in Western Europe.

In Asia, meanwhile, researchers discovered that the correlation between age and values was significantly lower than in the West, with traditions maintaining their importance throughout life, but also becoming stronger with age.

Finally, according to the study, the low-income countries of Sub-Saharan Africa appeared to be feature weakest link between conservatism and age, with people finding it difficult to embrace change at any age, and basic physical needs and tradition valued more highly than concepts of affirmation of the self.

Global Implications

According to scientists, their research leads them to conclude that as global ageing continues to accelerate, this may result in a slowdown in socio-economic growth and technological development, while being compensated by the growing importance of carrying for others and intolerance to anti-social behaviour.

"With age, we can observe a real growth in the value of carrying for others, with people in economically developed countries tending to trust lawmakers, political parties and the state apparatus more and more," Shulgin noted, saying the same trend can also be seen in relation to Russia.


Date : July 30, 2019

Source : Sputnik News

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Working Parents: Giving parents a helping hand

The new National Childcare Scheme aims to make childcare more accessible and affordable for families. Joyce Fegan looks at the changes set to come into place from October.

This October, the Irish childcare system is set to change, with the launch of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). 

It aims to tackle both the accessibility to and the affordability of childcare in this country for parents with children of all ages.

From October, several things will come into place.

One of the main measures from which parents will benefit is subsidies towards childcare. 

Subsidies will be available for families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla-registered service, including childminders and school age childcare services. 

It is the first-ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in the history of the State.

There are two types of supports available — a universal subsidy and an income-assessed subsidy.

The universal subsidy will be available to all families with children under three years of age. It will also be available to families with children over three years who have not yet qualified for the free preschool programme.

• The universal subsidy provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week. It is not means-tested;

• The income-assessed subsidy will be available to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years. This subsidy is means-tested and will be calculated based on individual circumstances. The subsidy rate will vary depending on level of family income, your child’s age, and their educational stage.

It can be used towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to a maximum of 40 hours per week where parents are working, studying, or training, or in circumstances where a parent is unavailable to care for a child.

Where parents are not working, studying, or training, the subsidy will be paid for up to a maximum of 15 hours per week.

As part of Budget 2019, the income thresholds used for assessing the level of subsidy to which a parent may be entitled were raised. 

The significant increase in the scheme’s maximum net income threshold from €47,000 to €60,000 per annum enables some families with a gross income of €100,000 to qualify for income-related subsidies.

“When operational, the parent will be able to apply for a subsidy online or by post. A parent is required to have a verified MyGovID when making an online application. 

"A verified MyGovID is a single, secure account to unlock Irish Government services online,” said a spokesman from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

These changes will go some way towards assisting families with childcare, as statistics show that the majority of parents of young children are employed.

According to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, where primary caregivers of five-year-olds are at work outside the home, an average of 29 hours are worked per week.

There are also changes to parental leave. From September, there will be an extension to parental leave from 18 to 22. There is no data yet available on the take-up of this scheme.

For new parents, there are also some new benefits coming down the line. 

From November, there will be the introduction of the new parents’ paid leave and benefit scheme to allow both parents to take additional time off during their child’s first year. Initially, this will be available for two weeks per parent but will increase over time.

This is in addition to the benefit paid to working partners who have since September 2016 been able to avail of two weeks’ paid paternity leave, which must commence before their baby reaches six months. 

Paternity benefit is paid at the same rate as maternity benefit, €245 per week.

In 2017, the first full year of the scheme’s being in operation, 26,559 fathers availed of it.

Overall, research here and abroad shows that parents want to spend more time with their young children. 

According to the department, across Europe, both women and men would prefer to work fewer hours per week for most of their lives, particularly during the phase of life when they have children.

In an international context, greater employment flexibility is associated with higher rates of female employment and there is considerable demand for a range of flexible working options among working parents.

Both the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) and Barnardos have been lobbying the Government for changes in the area of childcare.

An NWCI spokeswoman said that several things need to be addressed so the country can have a better childcare system: “As the sector is predominantly staffed by women this has the consequence of perpetuating negative gendered labour patterns. 

"In order to provide a system we can be proud of, the State needs to increase investment incrementally over coming budgets to 1% of GDP and establish a model of funding that ensures proper wages for the workforce and affordable fees for families, particularly those living in poverty such as lone parents.”

Barnardos is calling on the Government to come good on its promises. 

A Barnardos spokeswoman said: “In 2018, the Government published a 10-year strategy for babies, young children, and their families called First Five. 

"To move towards a high-quality and affordable system the Government must deliver on the implementation of First Five.”

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone told the Irish Examiner that she is “committed to improving access to affordable and high-quality early learning and care and school age childcare”.

“I have always made clear that this area was neglected for many decades and it will take several years to rectify, but good progress is being made,” said Ms Zappone.

Funding for early learning and care and school-age childcare has increased by 117% in the last four budgets, going from €260m in 2015 to nearly €574m in Budget 2019.

Midwife hated pregnancy but helps others enjoy theirs

Avril Flynn is a self-employed midwife and host of ‘Motherboard,’ a podcast. She has one child, Felix, aged one, and uses a doula as well as a childminder.

“I wasn’t even sure if I would continue to work or if I’d be a stay-at-home mum,” she says. “I had done a law degree, then moved back home to study midwifery. 

"I had always been on the fence about having kids, but I loved my jobs and I loved kids.

“But then I got pregnant and I really didn’t enjoy pregnancy. My mum is dead 15 years, and it was a really triggering time. 

"This was a much-wanted and planned little person, but I had my own existential crisis, and, as a midwife, I felt like a bit of a fraud.

“I was then asked to present ‘Motherboard’. I started doing it during my pregnancy with Felix. I had loved giving birth, and when he was born I was so delighted. 

"He was healthy, I was breastfeeding, and I got mastitis several times and I was pumping.

“Then, my husband found, two weeks after I had Felix. I needed something that was for me, and with all that going on, I found doing ‘Motherboard’ very cathartic. I was able to be honest about finding it tough.

“It was at this time that I decided to give my own business a really good go. I went on to and the gods divined. 

"I found the most amazing childminder; she’s been with us since Felix was about four to five months old. 

"She looks after Felix several mornings a week, and it has totally enabled me to start my business, do the ‘Motherboard’ podcast, and write articles.

“All my family live in Dundalk and my mum is dead. My husband and I had discussed crèche, but we needed him to be looked after at home. 

"Fiona has enabled us just to have our life. I couldn’t exist without her; we are just so so lucky to have her.

Felix is one now. In the beginning, he had colic and roared for six months; it was an absolute rollercoaster, as he cried up to 16 hours a day.

"My work and being able to get out of the house saved me. Now, he is very happy and smiley. I love the fact that I am back at work, but each to their own. 

"I have nothing but respect for people who stay at home. You need to do what’s right for you; whatever permutation works for you.

“Having a doula from two weeks up until Felix was four months was a great help. They’re amazing and they will come for however many times. 

"I was pumping. I was getting one hour’s sleep every 24 hours, but with a doula I could go to bed for several hours and it saved my sanity. The doula came during the day and at night, too.

“Then, we decided to start my own business and so we needed more permanent care. We were lucky to find Fiona. 

"That’s 20 hours a week, and that allows me to do something in the morning and then me and Felix hang out in the afternoon. When he goes to bed, I work again. 

"I’m still a midwife. I will always be passionate about antenatal education, especially for people who are marginalised, from gay parents to single parents, to people who use a surrogate.

"I provide tailored antenatal care packages and they get that in the home. 

"It works like a class: There is hypnobirthing and being baby-ready. I love it and, more importantly, it fits around my son, who is the priority.

“If I had never had Felix, this wouldn’t have happened. The birth was very empowering and healing. It provided me with so much peace.

“I just think, if I’m going to do something, why not now? What am I waiting for? Be the role model you want to be. 

"I was forced to re-evaluate my working life. I didn’t realise how important working life is to me, but I found the balance by doing it my way.

“It’s so important to me to have other facets to my life. You need to find what’s right for you and your family, and ask for help. 

"The permanent state of guilt we live in has to stop. Everyone has such similar feelings around this. 

"Do what’s right for you.”

The juggle struggle is real for a stay-at-home mother who is also building a business

Kathy Milliken says it’s easy to become the forgotten women when motherhood takes over — we do tend to put everything else before ourselves and then think: ‘How did I get here?’

Kathy Milliken mixes being a stay-at-home mum with growing her business, Bump, Baby and Me.

She is a mother of two to Ayla, 4, and Robyn, 2, and when she is working her childcare consists of full days in a creche several days a week.

“Our childcare is a bit of a mix and we’ve been down most routes. We had an amazing childminder but then with changing circumstances we went down the creche route,” she says.

“I went with the creche after six friends recommended it, I did my own thorough checks, but there was no choice, I have to be OK with handing my child over, I have to continue to work, but sure, the guilt comes in.

“Life can be pretty hectic. I work full days Monday and Wednesday and some evenings, but every evening I’m on my laptop doing admin. Tuesday is our fun day, I try not to do too much work.

“On Thursday I volunteer with Cuidiú — I’m a breastfeeding counsellor. The girls often have to come with me. I am a trained doula as well. 

"I am a birth and postpartum doula and provide antenatal support, but all that has gone on hold as you could be out of the home one to two days for a labour.

“My main work consists of being a stay-at-home mum half the time and growing my business. 

"I teach classes and run empowering parenting workshops where I invite other professionals to host workshops on various topics that will support parents and parents-to-be. 

"We have lactation consultants, child resilience coaches, toddler behaviour specialists, paediatric first-aid courses, women’s health physiotherapy, baby sleep solutions, cyber safety for children and lots more in the pipeline.

“Ayla and Robyn are both in creche part-time, they do a few full days. I am still dropping them off and collecting them. 

"I’m in the house working and I think: ‘Oh I better go get them’. This is with running my business and teaching antenatal and postnatal classes. 

"At the moment, Robyn only has a space until December and we’re back in the question mark area again. I’m crossing my fingers she can keep her place.

“Ayla goes into her second year of ECCE [Early Childhood Care and Education] soon, and I’ll be paying the full-day rate to keep her a couple of hours later. 

"Robyn is in full days on Monday and Wednesday and then from December until September we may have no care until ECCE starts.

I lost both my parents in the last four years, so besides support from other family members we have quite a few childminders and babysitters.

“It’s a juggling game — the juggle struggle. But it’s important not to power struggle with that struggle. We are OK that things won’t always feel balanced. 

"Keeping things balanced is exhausting so we just try our best to go with the flow and know lots of things are just phases.

“Steve, my husband is self-employed too. He owns Performance Therapy Ireland, PTI, and one year ago he co-founded 

"It’s a heated studio where you bike, row, and ski. It’s a huge cardiovascular workout that is high-intensity and has a party/nightclub feel. 

"There are four franchises at the moment in Dublin — Fairview, Balbriggan, Glasnevin, and Kinsealy.

“I know a couple of mums who are full-time at home, it’s very rewarding but pretty intense. I’m not sure if I could do that, I honestly take my hat off to any man or woman who is at home full-time.

“It’s important not to forget ourselves. You can sometimes become the forgotten women when motherhood takes over — we do tend to put everything else before ourselves and then think: ‘how did I get here?’ 

"So carving out time for ourselves is so important.”

An advertisement for working mothers

Kara Heriot works full-time in an ad agency and also runs the monthly support group Mum Talks. She is mother to Thea, 5, and she relies on a childminder.

“I was working in RTÉ when Thea and I had the best experience of childcare, as we had a crèche on-site. I had no stresses. 

"From when I was 12 weeks’ pregnant, her name was down. I was able to drop her at 8.30am and collect her at 5.30pm. 

"I had her there from 11 months until I decided to take a new job.

“I had the challenge of trying to find childcare, as I had to take her out of my old work crèche. I fully believe that if I’m happy, she’ll be happy, and I knew I was not going to get an opportunity like this again. 

"She was three when I changed jobs and then my world opened to what crèches were like. There’s only one crèche in my area, and it has a very long waiting list, so I found this other crèche. 

"I went in with my husband and the kids seemed happy. I used to leave her in and I’d leave crying. 

"I’d started a new job, but there was still something in my gut. I didn’t feel right about it.

“I got close to her teacher. Thea was coming home and things didn’t seem right. Thea came in one evening imitating smoking and we’ve never smoked in our life. 

"I got her teacher to babysit one evening and I started asking questions. She was lovely. She said she would keep an eye on things. 

Two weeks later, I got a call in work. The childcare worker said: ‘I’m in the toilet; get your child out of here now. I am leaving and I am not coming back.’ 

”I got up from my desk, and I told my boss: ‘I have no childcare, but I have to pull my daughter out of the crèche. I don’t know when I’ll be back.’ My boss was amazing.

"After that, I found an amazing Montessori and there was one space. They do their numbers and arts and crafts, and it’s near enough to where we were living. 

"It was the making of Thea, going into school. It was small and intimate, and there was an afterschool there, too.

“I took redundancy when she was five and going into senior infants. I asked myself: ‘OK, am I going to be a stay-at-home mum?’ 

"Being a stay-at-home mum wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind. It wasn’t something that I had ever gone: ‘Oh, I’d love to be a stay-at-home mum.’ 

"But it did allow me to focus on Mum Talks and then pick her up, so I ended up being at home with her in senior infants and first class. 

"I found it lonely during the day, as I didn’t have the office environment and everyone else was working.

“Thea wasn’t finishing school until 3.30pm, so I then decided to go back into advertising and take a new job. 

"It was a new career path in an ad agency; it was fast-paced. Then, I had to look for childcare in this circumstance. 

"I joined every Facebook group in Ireland of au pairs; I wanted a live-out one.

“So I got 15 girls who had been in touch with me. They were students in the morning and I couldn’t give them massive hours. 

"I went to a coffee shop and interviewed 12 girls in a row. Then, I met our new childminder and I got a really good feeling about her; she’s amazing; she’s part of the family. 

"For the summer, I’m coming out cost-neutral between summer camps for the morning and the childminder. We have also split our annual leave.

“I also run Mum Talks with my friend, Lucy Edge. We had both lived in London and there was so much for mums, but there was nothing like that in Ireland at the time, so we said we’d do something. 

"We started monthly meet-ups for mums, where they could bring their baby or go solo. 

"From our monthly talks and listening to our mums, we saw that their was a lack of support for mums returning to work after maternity leave, so we decided to launch ‘Return to work with confidence’ workshops. 

"We host talks in Dublin and Cork. There needs to be tax relief against primary school childcare, some sort of tax relief; they don’t do anything for primary school-aged kids. 

"You’ve to pay for the donation, all the after-school activities and all the books. 

"There should be some sort of financial help for parents and to encourage mums back into the workplace, if that is what they choose to do.”

What works abroad for families?

The connection between happiness and parenthood relates to social supports that countries offer, says Joyce Fegan.

Does parenting reduce your happiness levels?

In 2016, researchers at the University of Texas published a study in the American Journal of Sociology that examined social surveys from 22 European and English-speaking countries.

At first reading, it might look like people without children report higher levels of happiness, however, when examined more closely, the connection between happiness and parenthood relates to social supports.

Parents in the US, Britain, and Australia were found to be less happy than childfree people in those countries, but in places such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Hungary, parents are actually happier than people without children.

The researchers looked at various governments’ policies, specifically “the duration and generosity of paid parenting leave, the number of annual paid sick and vacation days guaranteed by law, the cost of childcare for the average two-year-old as a percent of median wages, and the extent of work schedule flexibility offered to parents of dependent children”.

Researchers found that those policies explain the difference in parental happiness among different countries.

Unhappiness is not caused by having children. It is caused by having children in a country that does not support parents.

Ursula Barry is an associate professor at UCD’s School of Social Policy, Social Work, and Social Justice.

She also represents Ireland on an EU-wide network that look at policies on gender equality. 

Childcare is a key issue when it comes to gender equality.

Ms Barry told the Irish Examiner that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, “has moved things in the right direction”, in terms of childcare in Ireland, but that the sector still has “a lot of issues”.

“In Ireland, we have a relatively high level of child benefit, we have a cash payment but we don’t have State-provided childcare,” said Ms Barry.

What works well is when child-care is provided by the State, as is the case in Britain.

“In the UK it’s provided by local government, we don’t have that public involvement here,” Ms Barry.

“The Irish State didn’t want to be seen to be supporting women going into the workplace as opposed to women being full-time carers in the home. 

"Funding childcare services would support women going into the workplace.”

Aside from seeing State-support of childcare as of benefit to women, some countries look at it from the perspective of what is best for the child.

“In the most of the European countries, especially Scandinavian countries they see childcare supports as being of benefit to children, not to support women going into work,” said the associate professor.

There are proven benefits for the children primarily, when a system is developed with a model that has the child at the centre of it.

This was acknowledged by the State, in its national childcare strategy First Five, published last year. 

It has been shown that in countries where parents provide all of the care work for the first year of a child’s life, the child benefits greatly in terms of cognitive development, social skills, attachment, and resilience later in life.

Data has shown that children born into low-income areas and households, benefit even more from this year of care.

Ms Barry also called for more debate about the quality of care for early childcare.

However, overall, the associate professor said the “care economy” needs to be prioritised in a way that it just is not at present, be that eldercare or childcare and other ongoing care.

The country and State needs to take responsibility for the “care economy”, which has been influenced by traditional thinking, where care was seen as part of the domestic sector.


By : Joyce Fegan

Date : August 20, 2019 

Source : Irish Examiner

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This tweet about mass shootings needs to define the term

A viral tweet comparing mass shootings perpetrated in various countries since the beginning of 2019 continues to be shared across social media since the August 4 shooting in Dayton, Ohio. The original tweet pointed out that the United States experienced 249 mass shootings, while countries like Brazil only suffered one. This is misleading. The definition of a mass shooting for the US data includes gang related violence, which it does not for other countries, experts told AFP.

The comparison is daunting. A tweet claims to show the number of mass shootings between January 1 and August 3, 2019 for 24 countries with the United States far ahead at 249. Mexico, in second place, only experienced three, while 18 nations experienced none.

The visually telling tweet, complete with flag emojis for each nation, was shared 412,000 times on Twitter, and thousands more times as a screenshot on Facebook. 

To be sure, mass shootings are recognized to be a more prevalent issue in the United States than in other countries, which is the broader point the tweet’s author attempts to convey. However, the numbers that the author uses are misleading.

The author of the tweet, a New York City council employee, does not provide any sources for the data, nor did he answer questions about them from AFP Fact Check. In the case of the United States, the source was likely the Gun Violence Archive, a recognized nonprofit that compiles data on mass shootings in the US from news sources. A saved version of the webpage shows that on the morning of August 3, 2019, the number of mass shootings in the United States stood at 248. A shooting in El Paso, Texas later that day brought the number up to 249.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as any event in which four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter, regardless of the motive. The archive is purely quantitative and does not “differentiate victims based upon the circumstances in which they were shot.” This definition means that 129 of the 249 mass shootings reported did not include any deaths, Politifact noted.

The Gun Violence Archive collects data from 6,500 sources daily, according to its website, which makes it a rather unique tool not available in other countries, experts told AFP.

“I would be surprised if those statistics are compiled by other countries in the same way so I highly doubt that there are reasonable comparisons across those countries,” Rosanna Smart, gun policy expert at the RAND Corporation, a research organization that focuses on public policy challenges.

“With respect to Brazil and Mexico, it makes me wonder where that data is coming from,” Jooyoung Lee, associate professor of sociology specializing in mass shootings at the University of Toronto, told AFP. The tweet refers to one mass shooting in Brazil in 2019, and three in Mexico, despite the lack of a known database compiling mass shootings in those countries following the Gun Violence Archive’s methodology.

Between January and July 2019, Mexico’s executive secretary of the public safety national agency reported 12,215 murders involving firearms, although this does not specify the number of casualties per shooting. 

AFP staff in Mexico City pointed out that the term mass shooting is not usually used by authorities or by the press. The AFP fact-checker in Mexico City estimated that cases where four people die or are injured by firearms in Mexico occur at least twice a week. This frequency means that most cases do not make international headlines, but AFP reported on at least nine instances in 2019, including this attack in July, which resulted in 59 dead and 22 injured.

In Brazil, the Violence Monitor collects data on violent deaths, although it does not specify which ones were caused by firearms. AFP staff in Brazil said that shootouts occur daily in the country’s largest city, Rio de Janeiro, most of which are recorded in this database. Although not all of the shootouts result in four or more deaths, AFP’s fact-checkers in South America’s largest country pointed out that a quick internet search reveals at least two cases during the month of August.

If the definition of mass shooting excludes gang, drug and organized crime-related violence, as Stanford University’s Mass Shootings in America database defines it, then the tweet would be correct in reporting one mass shooting in Brazil in 2019. On March 14, two former pupils of Sao Paulo’s Raul Brasil public school shot dead eight people and injured 11.

The tweet misleads by using an inconsistent definition of a mass shooting, particularly by choosing a broader definition for the United States. 

“Without a definition, I do think it can be problematic because I think in general, the population when they hear mass shooting that conjures up an image like the type of public mass shootings like in Dayton or El Paso with a lone gunman indiscriminately shooting into a crowded area,” Smart told AFP.

Without consistent data for each country, a proper comparison on mass shooting numbers including all types of gun violence cannot be established. At the time of publication on August 19, the Gun Violence Archive number of mass shootings for 2019 had risen to 262.



By : AFP Canada, AFP Brazil, AFP México

Date : August 20, 2019

Source : AFP Fact Check

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Highly Educated Young People at Core of Hong Kong Protests

Young, university-educated people are at the center of the unfolding struggle in Hong Kong, where protesters temporarily shut the airport earlier this week in the latest development in a summer of protests set off by widespread opposition to a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

A survey of participants at 12 different protest actions that garnered a total of 6,688 responses found that the majority of protesters are between the ages of 20 and 29 and have completed a higher education. Across the different protests, the proportion of university-educated participants ranged from 68.2 percent to more than 80 percent.

The survey, conducted by a group of academics based at four different Hong Kong universities, found that the two most important motivations of the protesters were "calling for the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill" (it was suspended, but not withdrawn, in June) and "expressing dissatisfaction with the police's handling of the protest."

Striving for democracy for Hong Kong -- a semiautonomous region of China with its own legal system under the "one country, two systems" principle -- emerged as a key motivation for protesters in July.

Most of the protests have been on the streets and -- save for two separate protest actions at the University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University -- campuses have been "rather quiet," said Samson Yuen, an assistant professor of political science at Lingnan and one of the academics who surveyed protest participants.

Yet Yuen said "student unions and societies have been deeply involved."

"Student activism before this protest was actually on the decline, after the 'dissolution' of the Hong Kong Federation of Students in 2016, when students from four universities respectively voted to quit the alliance. The anti-ELAB protests thus also saw a revival in student activism --- but in a more decentralized manner."

The character of student involvement contrasts somewhat with the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, when professors and students were among the most visible leaders of what became known as the Umbrella Movement. This summer's protests have been largely leaderless.

"During the Umbrella Movement in 2014, student organizations -- particularly the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism -- were truly at the forefront," said Denise Y. Ho, an assistant professor of history at Yale University and an expert on modern China. "Since then, student organizations have faced numerous challenges. The Hong Kong Federation of Students has been reduced after a number of universities chose to disaffiliate. Some of the professors and student leaders faced imprisonment, and others have moved on to other pursuits. On individual campuses, some university-level organizations have seen an increasing localist tendency, fracturing campus politics. It's important to understand this wider context when we consider this summer."

She continued: "Certainly, in the present moment students and young people are still at the forefront, but the center of gravity has changed. It is no longer the campus or traditional forms of association, like a student union. Instead, the movement has gone digital in ways that the aftermath of 2014 conditioned. That is, in order to protect participants and be more flexible, protesters are innovating new strategies and tactics. Thus we have something very new: on the one hand, protesters are more atomized and anonymous, but on the other hand, they are more committed and more united than ever before."

"There's been a self-conscious effort to make this less of a leader-focused movement, and one of the reasons for that is that after the Umbrella Movement the police went after the leading spokespeople for the movement," said Jeffrey Wasserstrom, the Chancellor's Professor and a historian at the University of California, Irvine, who studies protests in contemporary China.

Prominent student leaders of the Umbrella Movement, most notably Joshua Wong, served jail time. Two professors who played key organizing roles, Chan Kin-man, a retired associate professor of sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Benny Tai, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, were convicted in April on public nuisance charges related to the 2014 protests and sentenced to 16 months in jail.

Tai was released on bail on Thursday pending his appeal. Close to 500 scholars worldwide have signed an open letter to the University of Hong Kong calling on the university to protect Tai against "politically motivated dismissal or other disciplinary measures."

"As one of Hong Kong's most important centers of free thought and inquiry, HKU has long supported the values civil disobedience seeks to defend and promote," the open letter states. "Any move to dismiss an academic as a result of a conviction arising from peaceful advocacy could cause irreparable harm to the stature of the University as a champion of independent thought."

"There's a fear that I have that the university might reflect in microcosm what Hong Kong as a whole seems to be experiencing in macrocosm," said Terence C. Halliday, an organizer of the open letter and a legal scholar and research professor at the American Bar Foundation who also has affiliations with Australian National University and Northwestern University. "It seems over the last several years there has been a slow, bit-by-bit erosion of some of the fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong's society. Is the Hong Kong administration or indeed Beijing seeking to do with the university what it seems to be doing with Hong Kong as a whole?"

An HKU spokesperson said in a statement that the university "would like to thank all those who have signed the open letter for their concerns and interest in the University of Hong Kong. The University fully recognizes that teachers have good cause protection regarding their appointments, and we have every intention to uphold obligations and duties in such matters. In light of the Court's verdict and sentence in Mr. Benny Tai's case, the University is following up in accordance with the procedures stipulated in the University of Hong Kong Ordinance and Rules and Regulations.

"The University handles staff matters in a stringent and impartial manner in accordance with its due procedures. In view of the confidentiality of personal information involved and the need to ensure the integrity of the process, the University will not make further comments concerning the case."

Meanwhile, the tensions over the future of Hong Kong have spilled onto campuses in Australia and New Zealand, where students supporting the Chinese Communist Party have clashed -- sometimes violently -- with supporters of the Hong Kong protesters. According to The New York Times, about 300 Chinese nationalists interrupted pro-Hong Kong democracy rallies at the University of Queensland, and a video from the incident shows a student from Hong Kong being grabbed by the throat. Another video of a confrontation at the University of Auckland shows three Chinese men shouting down students from Hong Kong at a rally and pushing a young woman to the ground.

"Lennon Walls" containing messages of support for the Hong Kong protesters have been reported vandalized on a number of campuses. It remains to be seen how these tensions over the future of Hong Kong may play out on American campuses -- where Chinese students make up the single largest group of international students -- when the academic year starts.

Wasserstrom, the UC Irvine historian, said a notable feature of this summer's protests has been the organization of rallies for specific occupational and social groups -- protests for lawyers, for example, and for mothers. Still, he said, "the driving force of it is young people, many of them are students, who are particularly passionate about the future of the city they love. They're the people who are going to live longest in the city after 2047 when it's supposed to be fully integrated into the P.R.C.," under the terms of the 1997 handover agreement transferring control of Hong Kong, a former British colony, to the People's Republic of China.

"They have the most stake in this."


By : Elizabeth Redden

Date : August 6, 2019

Source : Inside Higher Ed


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