We’ve Got Issues: A Weekly News & Politics Column

Just last week I declared the Republican primaries a big waste of time and money, with Romney safely guaranteed to win the party’s nomination. But Gingrich has given the former businessman a run for his money, having beat him in the South Carolina primary by a large margin. Things could change again in Florida, where Romney is (supposedly) favored to win. But at this point, can anyone safely predict any outcome to this primary season?

Yes, actually. I predict Obama will win the Democratic nomination.  He has already won the New Hampshire primary, after all.

Thumbs up:

Ai Wei Wei
It may be too early to declare Ai Wei Wei a household name.  It is not unlikely, however, that in the near future it will be, due in large part to a new documentary titled Never Sorry. The documentary received a standing ovation when it was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this week and created a lot of buzz. In a China that is effectively controlled by one party, Wei Wei is a clever activist, making political statements in his art that challenge the country’s leadership. Demands for the artist’s release from detention became a cause célèbre last year, when Chinese officials arrested him on suspicions of tax evasion. After being unable to find any evidence of any such transgression, Wei Wei was released. It is uncertain whether the artist’s future lies in a jail cell or not, but in a country of more than a billion people, he is a refreshing example of a citizen making his voice heard.

Tahrir Square (AGAIN)

Millions swarm the square. (Jan. 25, 2012)

As of late, each time I log into Facebook, I am bombarded with news stories, political status updates and a detailed list of stories that my friends have read on The Guardian and Washington Post websites.  This barrage of information can be overwhelming, and I often end up forgetting a lot of what I learn about on my news feed. This week, however, shared photos of Cairo residents coming together at Tahrir Square stuck with me. On January 25, to mark the one year anniversary of the dethroning of former President Mubarak from his nearly 30 year reign, hundreds of thousands of Cairo residents took to the plaza.  It is true that there is still much progress to be made in the country, where, earlier this week, a newly elected parliament met for the first time, but military officials control many aspects of national politics.  Egyptian protesters’ efforts left an indelible mark on the world, without which we may have never witnessed subsequent protests in Spain, Syria, and on Wall Street.

Thumbs down:


The music streamer Spotify is now making news, months after its 2011 launch. According to Fast Companythe service is growing at a faster rate than Netflix.

I will admit, the premise of Spotify has some appeal. The era of downloading entire libraries of music or searching for songs on YouTube has come to a close, now we can access these songs on Spotify. But I remain skeptical. First, some users automatically share what they are listening to with their Facebook friends. Why is this necessary?  Must I know what my friends, acquaintances, or colleagues are listening to at 4 a.m. on a Wednesday, in the privacy of their rooms?  Second, having used the program on one friend’s computer, I can safely say that ads — even occasional ones — can ruin the experience of listening to music.  Just imagine jamming out to your favorite songs, dancing around your room, only to be interrupted by a toothpaste ad.  It ain’t pretty.

Money in Politics:

Republicans have yet to make up their minds over who to nominate, judging from last week’s developments. Surprising pundits and voters, Gingrich clawed his way to the top of the headlines on Saturday, when he won the South Carolina primary.  Now, reports are surfacing that Gingrich benefited in no small part from a friend – billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who provided a pro-Gingrich Super PAC, Winning Our Future, with five million dollars  in funds. What direction the Republican primary may take from here is anyone’s guess.  However, whoever wins will likely have to acknowledge the role of money in their success. Years after the McCain-Feingold Act, big money is back, and in a big way.

Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul I'm a remix culture enthusiast with a passion for the news and hip-hop. Born in 1989, I've visited every state except Hawaii and spent the last four years studying in Canada. Following a stint washing dishes as an illegal worker in a Montreal restaurant, I'm now trying to figure out how to become a YouTube star at my home in Chicago.

View all posts by Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul

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