Spotlight Thursday: July 8 - July 14
by Kathleen Wang
This week’s Spotlight Thursday will feature the aftermath of Brexit, a shocking new finding about consumerism in the United States, the Dallas officer shootings, and the 19th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, youngest Nobel laureate. Read on to find out more!
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: (7/13/2016) Post Brexit, Prime Minister David Cameron resigns, and UK to assume second female prime minister
On June 23rd, 2016, the UK made international headlines when the country-wide referendum tipped in favor of a Brexit – a British exit from the European Union. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative who greatly opposed a potential Brexit, announced that he will be resigning, bringing his six year premiership to an abrupt end. To replace him as the 76th British Prime Minister is Theresa May, who will take office as the second female Prime Minister in British history, second to fellow Conservative Margaret Thatcher.
May’s appointment as the next Prime Minister comes as a victory for feminists around the world, and I believe that by putting a female in Britain’s most powerful position, the UK is receiving a gift that keeps on giving. As The Guardian (linked above) notes, May will appoint a string of female colleagues in key cabinet positions, including some of the most senior positions. By doing so, May is balancing out the gender ratio in the UK Parliament, an act that many predict will improve policy making, as well as gender equality.
HEALTH AND SCIENCE: (7/13/2016) New research suggests half of all US food produce is thrown away
The Guardian reported that, in a new research study, approximately 60m tons of food is thrown out every year in America by retailers and consumers alike, due to, as the article explains, Americans’ “cult of perfection,” or the demand for cosmetically perfect but often times unrealistic fruits and vegetables. However, that number is a just a downstream measure. According to interviews with farmers, packers and wholesalers, “scarred” vegetables are often left to rot in a field or warehouse because of minor blemishes that doesn’t necessarily affect quality or freshness. With this information in mind, food experts predict more than half of all produce in the US is unnecessarily thrown out and discarded.
We live in a world of paradoxes, and not the kind you see in brain twisting workbooks. These paradoxes are too subtle to realize, but too harmful to ignore. The fact that, in a world where food is so limited and our environment is growing too weak to sustain a rapidly growing population, people are still striving for even “perfect” food and discarding those with even the smallest blemishes is a paradox in itself. But it’s one that’s so subtle that most Americans miss it. After all, who would think twice about throwing a blemished piece of fruit into the trash can? And this is why I believe the most effective way to start to reduce this wastefulness, or any problem, is through raising awareness; we need to first admit we have a problem before anything else.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: (July 8th, 2016) Four Dallas police officers and one Dallas Transit officer were shot and killed last Thursday evening during protests against police shootings.
The shooting came during protests against police shootings that took place in Minnesota and Louisiana earlier last week, and has now become the worst law enforcement attack since 9/11. At the officer’s memorial service on Tuesday, President Obama emphasize the unity of “our one big American family,” and eulogized the five slain officers. But this piece of shocking news is just a glimpse into more terrifying numbers. According to The LA Times, 26 police officers have died in the line of duty so far this year, a substantial jump from the 18 officers who had died by this time in 2015.
Anger at police and other law enforcement officials skyrocketed after a string of news concerning police brutality and police shootings, starting from Michael Brown in August of 2014 to Philando Castile, who was fatally killed by police officers just last week, emerged on front page headlines.. However, the problem goes deeper than just police officers themselves. The centuries old American bias against African Americans exists to this day has not disappeared, and is partially the reason why racial profiling exists today, and why, as one psychology study confirmed, police officers are more likely to shoot an unarmed black man than his/her white counterpart. This problem is centuries deep and comes from a prejudice older than our law system, and cannot possibly be resolved by lodging bullets into police officers, especially innocent ones. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It’s time we revisit that quote again, and try to remember its message.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE: (July 12th 2016) The world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate turned 19
Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate, turned 19 on Tuesday, July 12th. In 2012, the Pakistani native gained international attention after being shot in the head by a Taliban official. However, it wasn’t the shooter’s act of murder that made Malala famous; it was everything after that. The teenager not only survived the shooting, but lived to promote peace around the world, and to ensure girls’ education, by co-founding and running the Malala Fund.
It seems unfortunate that the birthday of the world’s youngest peace and education activist falls during a time that, in the US, is anything but peaceful, but perhaps it can remind all of us of some things we have lost along the way; compassion, peace, and harmony. So, as the birthday girl herself wisely said, “This is what my soul is telling me; be peaceful, and love everyone.” Well said, Malala.
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