Irish governing party elects first out gay, Indian-descendent PM
- The Fine Gael voted Leo Varadkar its new leader, a gay, half-Indian man set to become the youngest PM in Irish history.
- Varadkhar, 38, was born to an Indian immigrant father and an Irish mother and has become a polarizing conservative firebrand in Irish politics since his first election in 2007.
- The election has been lauded as a monumental moment for the predominantly Catholic country that in 2015 became the first in the world to codify marriage equality into law through referendum.
“Varadkar becomes Irish PM-in-waiting in social, generational shift” (Reuters | June 2017)
“Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland set to install first openly gay Prime Minister” (The Independent | June 2017)
“From Enda (66) to Leo (38): Ireland set to replace oldest EU leader with youngest” (The Irish Times | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
- The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
- The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
- Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
“Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)
“New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)
“Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)
The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education
Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.
“Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)
“The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)
(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)
Failing Students with Disabilities in Texas
An extensive multi-part series by The Houston Chronicle has revealed the devious tactics the Texas Education Agency and school administrators have deployed to reduce the number of students with disabilities their schools serve, masking an alarming decrease in support beneath the glean of “improved pedagogy” and “early intervention.” An arbitrary, unscientific 8.5% benchmark was set across the state for the percentage of students taught in special education classes, which necessitated a dramatic and at times aggressive reduction in the number of students evaluated and identified as in need of special education. From stories of families trapped in bureaucratic labyrinths to data on the disproportionate negative effect on English-language learners, the Chronicle series investigates the broken system responsible for the education of children with disabilities and the political struggle to right the listing ship.
“Denied: How Texas keeps tens of thousands of kids out of special ed” (The Houston Chronicle)
(Image Credit: Marie D. De Jesús/The Houston Chronicle)
The Uncertain Twilight of Singapore’s Pioneer Generation
Singapore’s “Pioneer Generation,” those born early enough to witness the birth of the nation, has begun to advance a so-called “silver tsunami” that has challenged a wealthy Southeast Asian city-state renowned for the relatively high standard of living of its citizens. “Re-employment” policies have pushed seniors to remain in the workforce past retirement age, but their concentration in low-wage work has at times created conflict between health, financial, and labor imperatives. As healthcare costs grow while wages remain low, seniors, less educated relative to younger generations, face difficult options in a society that prides itself on individual responsibility and contributions to the nation’s economic progress. The Guardian examines the plight of Singaporean seniors and the evolving challenges they face upon approaching and surpassing retirement age.
“Singapore’s ‘silver tsunami’: how the city-state depends on its elderly workforce” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images, via The Guardian)
Outrage erupts over proposed bill in Turkey to clear adults married to minors of sexual abuse charges
- The bill, approved after an initial reading and set for a second vote, would allow for the indefinite suspension of sentencing for sex “without force, threat, or any other restriction on consent” if the perpetrator marries the victim.
- Women’s rights, children’s rights, and other advocates were swift to condemn the proposed bill, which they argue effectively condones statutory rape and child marriage.
- Child marriage is illegal in Turkey, but non-civil religious marriages proliferate, particularly in the southeast of the country.
“Turkish ruling party sparks uproar with sexual abuse bill” (Reuters)
“Turkish bill to clear men of child sex assault if they marry their victims” (AFP via The Guardian)
“Turkey: Thousands protest against proposed child sex law” (BBC)
(Image Credit: Sedat Suna/EPA, via The Guardian)
France and U.K. resettle asylum-seekers in preparation for dismantlement of Calais camp
- The government—with the help of more than 10,000 refugee aid agencies—has begun moving an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 asylum-seekers out of the Calais camp (known as the “Jungle”) and into “reception centers” throughout the country.
- The UK has committed to accepting unaccompanied children across the border, although local agencies have expressed concern about a lack of planning to facilitate the transfer process.
- The asylum-seekers are expected to spend an average of two months in the centers under the supervision of social workers before being again relocated while their asylum applications are processed, though some report having languished in limbo for longer.
“Migrants begin new life outside France’s ‘Jungle’ camp” (Reuters)
“Calais migrant camp will be razed soon: French minister” (AFP via The Local)
“Children in Calais Jungle to arrive in UK ‘in days’” (BBC)
(Image Credit: Regis Duvignau/Reuters)