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

In light of the fact that the 2012 Grammy Awards took place last weekend, I must admit that I’m not quite sure that I understand the point of such ceremonies.  Choosing to watch stars converge near a stage strikes me as similar to deciding to go through the Facebook photos of a party you weren’t invited to: sure, they’re all having a good time, and it’s interesting to look at, but why bother?  Oh, right, I forgot — because they want the attention.

Thumbs Up:

Russian Protesters

Bolotnya Square in Moscow. (Dec. 2011)

Time Magazine’s editors may believe the year of the protester has already passed.  But the power of protest is only beginning to be felt in Russia, where on February 4 an estimated crowd of 35,000 to 120,000 Muscovites braved extremely cold weather to voice their opposition to Prime Minister Putin.  The protest is the latest in a string of demonstrations that began last December, following a federal election in which Russian officials were accused of rigging the country’s parliamentary vote in favor of Putin’s party, United Russia.  Despite the leader’s stronghold on Russian politics, his opponents’ message seems to be resonating, and although he faces an uphill battle, Russian Presidential candidate Mikhail Prokorov has been challenging Putin head on.

The U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals

Gay rights advocates won a major victory last Tuesday, when the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  The law, which prevented members of the same gender from getting married, has been a target of controversy since state voters narrowly voted in favor of implementing it in 2008.  It remains to be seen whether the district court’s decision will be appealed and eventually reach the Supreme Court, as some speculate it will.  But California is only one of several states where the the gay marriage movement has received a recent outburst of support: Illinois State Representatives have introduced legislation that would legalize same-same marriage and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed a law making it legal on Monday.

Thumbs Down:

Russian and Chinese UN Vetoes

Last week, I was stunned and dismayed to read that China and Russia — members of the oligarchic UN Security Council – vetoed a resolution that would urge for the resignation of Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad.  Sure, the US has used its veto option many times before to the dismay of the international community, but that does not make it right when other nations follow suit.  It has been dangerous for press members to visit Syria yet reports have been surfacing that violence in Syria is increasing.  Meanwhile, President Obama has referred to violence in the country “outrageous.”  Gaddafi may be dead, and Egypt and Tunisia in transition, but this should not be taken to mean the Arab Spring has come to a conclusion.  Far from it, Syria has been mired in a snafu since last year, and the country’s protected isolation may only further exacerbate the problem.

Rich vs. Poor Education Gap

At the risk of sounding corny, I would like to remind readers that knowledge is power.  So it is very worrying that last week studies from the Stanford University and the University of Michigan showed the educational achievement gap between wealthier and poorer students is increasing.  Many, such as columnist Fareed Zakaria, argue that social mobility in the US has flatlined.  If economically disadvantaged students receive increasingly insufficient education, not only will they continue to suffer from the effects of poverty as a result of lacking the necessary tools to obtain well paying jobs, but their access to political power — already limited — will dwindle.

Photo by mpeake

What do you think of the news this week? Is there anything you’d like to give and up or down vote to? Tell us in the comments!

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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