Friday, 26 May 2017

The Prevalence Of Poverty

We see a lot of beautiful and interesting things on the web lately. Even on the mall, lots of nice stuffs are on sale. Popular celebrities sport all the latest fashion, from clothes, shoes, and accessories to going to all the hottest events and locations. We surf the web and see all these things daily that we temporarily get blinded by what we see mistaking it for real life.

Unfortunately, there is another side in life we seldom see highlighted on the web or by media but is everywhere around us. When we go out of our homes and travel to work or school each day, we see poverty all around us. This reality is especially true in developing or third world countries where people can barely make both ends meet. Even earning enough to buy food for the day is a struggle for many families and the homeless are often ignored.

It is a shocking – but sadly unsurprising – statistic that “one in four households struggles to eat well regularly” (Report, 31 March). Young Women’s Trust research shows that half of the mums under the age of 25 have to skip meals to feed their children, and a quarter have used food banks. This is not just about “eating well”: this is the most basic form of poverty, and it’s having a devastating impact on young families. It is less astonishing when you consider that those under the age of 25 are not entitled to the national living wage and receive lower benefits; from tomorrow, 18- to 21-year-olds will have their housing benefit removed.


Food insecurity remains to be a constant dilemma for these people, something that many of us take for granted each day. Come to think of it, the food industry waste tons and tons of food from restaurant/ fastfood leftovers to foods beyond their expiration dates that are actually still safe to eat but just goes to waste.

Food poverty needs to be understood in its social context in order for long-term solutions to be found. It is this kind of fine-grained ethnography which enables connections to be made between the state and its policies, the market, and the voluntary sector.

While wages have risen very little if at all in most sectors and benefit entitlements have often been cut, some people turn to food banks as a coping mechanism. In the UK today, the main food bank charity, the Trussell Trust, has more than 400 such centres and there are likely to be at least as many independent food banks. They rely on long-life food donated by the public in supermarket and school collections.


Wherever you are in the world, most of these poor families are not educated and have a hard time looking for a better paying job. Many of these people work manual hard labor just to earn a few measly dollars daily. For them, no work means no pay too. Getting sick is not an option because their family will starve. And as if the reality is not bad enough, news about governments cutting back on the funding of several basic government services can even push them farther below the poverty line.

A government shakeup of welfare payments being introduced on Thursday will push a quarter of a million children into poverty while wiping thousands of pounds off payments for bereaved families, according to research.

Analysis for the Guardian reveals that a family whose third child is born before midnight on Wednesday could be up to £50,000 better off over 18 years than one whose child is born on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a terminally ill man has told the Guardian that his wife and children will see tens of thousands of pounds wiped off their bereavement benefits if he survives beyond this week’s welfare deadline.

The man, from Barnet in north London, who spoke under the pseudonym Alan in order to protect his family, hit out at the “callous and brutal” reforms that will limit payments to widowed parents from many years to a maximum of 18 months.

The crunch for families celebrating a new birth or grieving the loss of a parent is a result of changes coming into effect on 6 April. They were announced when George Osborne was chancellor and are being enacted by Theresa May’s government. One of the changes means all households that have a third or subsequent baby will – aside from a limited set of exemptions – no longer be able to claim child tax credits.

Policy in Practice found that more than 600,000 families – championed as the “just about managing” households, which the prime minister vowed to protect on her first day in government – would be hit by the child welfare cuts, while many more could be affected by other cuts.


Poverty is a global concern affecting millions of people from different countries all over the globe. Even if it is not highlighted in the news daily that does not mean it’s not real. Many families struggle with putting food on the table and in providing other basic life necessities.

Unfortunately, many governments today are making drastic budget cuts that will reduce funding for basic government services and subsidies that can potentially affect millions of people. Poverty will likely remain a prevalent issue of our times if the government fails to make lasting solutions for this problem. Empowering the people is the first step to totally eradicating poverty but governments all over the world fail to do this and get caught up in the many myriads of controversies that define politics from then and now.

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

A Generation Of Tech And Social Media Obsessed Youth

We live in a world where a day doesn’t pass by without people checking in on their various social media accounts. Everywhere you look, everyone is holding a phone (usually a smartphone) in their hands and their whole world revolves around it. Some even show off a different online persona than who they really are in real life, leaving everyone confused even themselves.

And as such, has its pros and cons. The dangers of too much tech, Internet use and the obsession with social media may not be obvious at first but they are there – slowly affecting the way you think and see things, even that of your priorities.

Amid an opioid epidemic, the rise of deadly synthetic drugs and the widening legalization of marijuana, a curious bright spot has emerged in the youth drug culture: American teenagers are growing less likely to try or regularly use drugs, including alcohol.

With minor fits and starts, the trend has been building for a decade, with no clear understanding as to why. Some experts theorize that falling cigarette-smoking rates are cutting into a key gateway to drugs, or that antidrug education campaigns, long a largely failed enterprise, have finally taken hold.

But researchers are starting to ponder an intriguing question: Are teenagers using drugs less in part because they are constantly stimulated and entertained by their computers and phones?

The possibility is worth exploring, they say, because use of smartphones and tablets has exploded over the same period that drug use has declined. This correlation does not mean that one phenomenon is causing the other, but scientists say interactive media appears to play to similar impulses as drug experimentation, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence.

Or it might be that gadgets simply absorb a lot of time that could be used for other pursuits, including partying.


While we may think that this newfound obsession with technology isn’t as physically destructive as vices like smoking, drugs, and alcohol, the opposite is actually true. Too much technology and social media in our lives not only exposes us to harmful blue light and messes up with our sleeping patterns, it also has a damaging effect on our psyche.

The troubling practice of self-harm among young people is increasing along with their ever more widespread use of the Internet and social media, according to consultant psychiatrist for children and adolescents Dr Nigel Camilleri.

Speaking with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Dr Camilleri said: “I think self-harm has always been there but it has been more hidden. But nowadays, with social media and the Internet, there has been an increase.”

Figures published by the National Statistics Office this week show that people aged between 16 and 24, the youngest group in the study, use the Internet the most. In fact, over 98 per cent of Maltese youths were found to use the Internet.

“There is always a reason behind self-harm,” Dr Camilleri explained. “Most people do it as a coping strategy. There is a release of endorphins, so it is addictive, but then you feel guilty afterwards.”

There is too much freedom for the youth these days to browse the Internet and be exposed to sites that are not always good for them. Even the more popular ones like Facebook aren’t always free of criticisms.

When asked whether he believes growing up these days exposes young people to an avalanche of perhaps impressionable news stories that leave an impression on them, Dr Fenech observed that it would probably depend on the personality of the individual.

“There are some people who would be predisposed to a certain code of ethics, who would see violence and detest it even more. And then there will be those who have a less ethically-sound background and would thus find it more acceptable,” he said.


Anything in excess is not always good. We have been told about that time and again yet it somehow slips our mind every time and we fall into the trap of obsessing over the next big trend.

Parents should be wary about the interests of their children and exercise some form of parental guidance when necessary. Your child may hate you at first when you censor some things from them on the web but over time they will realize that it is for their own good. That is probably the best recourse to overcome the dangers of too much technology in our modern life when almost everything can be accessed with just a click of a button.

The following post A Generation Of Tech And Social Media Obsessed Youth is available on


Friday, 12 May 2017

Will Trumponomics Make America Great Again?

To Make America Great Again – that is the bold (vague) promise from someone who is generally a newbie in politics. Donald Trump has high hopes that his win will help the country overcome its many economic woes and reclaim its former glory. Now, the nation is not just plagued by threats from terrorists and a recovering economy but that of a declining quality of education and healthcare.

In response, Trump and his troop came up with Trumponomics – the Trump-brand of economics that wishes to impose tax breaks, trade deals reforms, and defense and infrastructure developments. While most of these policies only managed to raise the eyebrows of many, it seems as if they are also far from helping the ordinary Americans for they will soon be deprived of basic services. Even the arts and the culture and the environment are not exempted and will lose funding and support from the federal government.

In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump outlined a three-part economic plan. First, he called for an increase in military spending—his budget would reportedly raise it by about 10 percent, or $54 billion, while cutting similar amounts from agencies including the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. Second, he called on Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Third, he reiterated his support for tax reform, which, if it follows his previous proposals, would cut taxes by almost $10 trillion, with the benefits largely accruing to corporations and the rich.

Together, these three proposals would represent a dramatic shift away from the policies of the Obama administration: from diplomacy to weaponry, from environmental protection to national-border protection, from public-health spending to private health spending, from eight years of favoring redistribution to a period of falling taxes on the rich, and from a term of falling deficits to the re-emergence of large deficits.

On paper, Trump’s economic policy looks like a profound re-imagination of the government’s role in American life. But in political terms, each leg of this three-legged stool is wobbly.


By not getting enough support from the Congress to eventually repeal Obamacare, the Republicans decided to let go of it for now and pursue other more important issues such as tax reform – albeit with a heavy and disappointed heart.

In a stunning defeat for Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday canceled a vote on the GOP bill to replace Obamacare because he did not have enough votes from his own members to pass the legislation.

"We came really close today, but we came up short," Ryan said at a news conference after he pulled the bill from the House floor. "I will not sugarcoat this: This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard."

Ryan and other Republican leaders said they will now move on from health care to tax reform, Southwest border control and other issues, essentially giving up on their No. 1 legislative priority for the foreseeable future.

"Obamacare is the law of the land," Ryan said. "It’s going to remain the law of the land."

The failure to pass the bill is a major blow to both Ryan and President Trump in their efforts to rack up Republican accomplishments now that they control both Congress and the White House. It was the first big legislative test for Republicans since they won back the White House and retained control of the House and Senate in last fall's election.

It also underscored just how divided the Republican Party is, with factions of hardline conservatives and moderates rebelling against their own leadership.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare was a major campaign promise made by Trump and scores of GOP House members and candidates in last year’s election. But they were never able to agree on the best way to achieve their goal.


While many Americans (especially from the poorer and rural sector) believed in Trump’s promise of bringing back the nation’s former glory, many of them are now disappointed that the policies he is pushing for does not or won’t likely work for them at all. Almost all Trump policies have little regards to the overall population and may only benefit those who are wealthy, which is probably why even the Republicans can’t unite and pass the new health care law. So, let’s see what Trump has to say to the nation at large when he faces everyone for his first major address to the nation.

The following post Will Trumponomics Make America Great Again? was originally published on The Pod Blaze Blog


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Religion And Politics Is Never A Good Mix

People will die for their religion – and many will kill for it too. Wars have been fought as people try to prove that their religion is better than the other. And while no one can really tell for sure which religion is “the real thing”, believing in their faith is enough to keep people going and remain hopeful.

The Church and the State always worked separately. While they may voice out opinions about the other, they try their best not to meddle with each other’s affairs. But it seems that very little has changed in this aspect of life. The church is always observant of the actions of the state. And the state does the same. It is not always a nice picture when the two pillars of society clash especially during election season.

Two of the most interesting photo ops of France’s current presidential election campaign took place last month 2,000 miles away in Lebanon — and they were all about religious optics.

In one, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen called off a scheduled meeting with Grand Mufti Abdellatif Deriane just outside his Beirut office when the Muslim cleric’s staff insisted she don a headscarf before going in for the meeting.

With the video cameras rolling, she emphatically refused.

Later that day, with the same media entourage in tow, she smiled and exchanged pleasantries with Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai, leader of Lebanon’s Maronite Christians and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

The National Front leader made her first trip abroad as presidential hopeful to burnish her weak foreign policy credentials, but the images flashed back to France sent a strong domestic message.

Her supporters back home immediately got the memo — “no to Muslims, yes to Christians” — and loved it.

Playing the religion card so openly is unusual in France, where the official separation of church and state is normally taken so seriously that politicians rarely if ever mention in public whether they have a faith or not.

But this two-round election, on April 23 and May 7, is not taking place in normal times.


With the growing tension from terrorist threats, the issue of religion never fails to leave the spotlight considering most terrorists are devout Muslims who will not hesitate to give up their lives because of their religious beliefs.

And that is a major problem in the world today. Terrorist attacks happen in many places today and are no longer confined to war-torn countries where these terrorists often hail from. They attack major cities in progressive countries where many innocent lives are lost. And each year, we witness one attack after the other, but still, authorities can’t make them stop.

There has been a chorus from politicians, community and religious leaders about the need to present a united front in the face of the terrorist atrocity at Westminster. This desire for social cohesion is understandable and it is praiseworthy that there has been no backlash against peaceful Muslims who have no intention to terrorise anybody.

Such valid concerns should not, however, lead us to neglect the profoundly religious nature of the radicalisation which has led to this and other acts of terror all over the world. The Salafi-Wahhabi narrative which underlies extremism and its terrorist consequences is rooted in a selective but devoted reading of the early history and practices of the Islamic world and in a conviction that these provide a detailed agenda for law, governance and social ordering today.


If only we can have room for more love in our hearts and understanding for the next person, hate will be unheard of and everyone can coexist peacefully. You may disagree with one another (it is acceptable) but we should all know the line between what’s acceptable and what’s not.

World leaders should stop politicizing and start doing their job as public servants and religious leaders should start tending to their flocks and humanity will be in good hands. Religion is supposed to save mankind from sins and not provoke them to commit more injustice to the world.

The following blog article Religion And Politics Is Never A Good Mix was first seen on


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