Don’t Know?

News You Need…

Will the issue of race change with an Obama presidency?

According to USA Today, Barack Obama always made it clear throughout his campaign that although he “will send a wonderful message to young people of color and to immigrants around the country”, he does not want race to be an issue in his bid to Presidency.

55 million people voted for Obama to become the first African American president of the United States.  This has revealed the way in which America is continuously renewing itself.  Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General said:-

“His (Obama’s) election demonstrates America’s extraordinary capacity to renew itself and adapt to a changing world.”

Attitudes and stereotypes

Even so has this changed the stereotypes that exist in American society or are they as strife as ever?  Rapper Chuck D has publicly spoken of this situation saying “You guys have got a black president so it’s cool.  It’s straight.”

The fact that Obama has been elected President could in fact hide the issues that so many African Americans face each day.

During this time of economic uncertainty, everyone is suffering.  Unfortunately for African Americans and Hispanics, they have been hit worst.

Similarly to the Great Depression of 1929, when African Americans were the first to suffer, a repeat is currently taking place. 

Earnings

Their median income has declined by an average of 1.2 percent per year from 2000 to 2006, after rising an average of 1.5 percent per year in the 1900’s.  Although in the 1990’s, the number of African Americans covered by health insurance increased, it has since 2000 decreased by 0.3 percent. 

Healthcare

While the weekly earnings of whites have increased over the last eight years, the usual median weekly earnings for African Americans has stagnated.  The gap of earnings between whites and African Americans is gradually widening each year.

Obama has clearly got his work cut out in attempting to improve the social and economic state of the poor.

Success state by state

Interestingly, the press has not concentrated much on the states that did not vote for Obama this week.  Some in fact had a substantial difference in the vote for McCain and for Obama.

In Texas, 56percent voted McCain with 44percent for Obama and in Arkansas 59percent McCain and 39percent.  Although Obama was successful overall, some of the southern states are currently feeling rather hostile towards him.

Other states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania who were expected to vote Republican, in fact voted for Obama which reveals this thirst for changethat the people feel.  Many progressive states put their trust in Obama and are looking forward to the day he will be sworn into presidency.

Yes, the United States have voted in an African American and this will be remembered as a historic day in American history.  It will be interesting to see whether this will do much to change attitudes and stereotypes that they have had to deal with for the last century in the United States.

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=821

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Did race play a part in the Presidential Election?

A historic victory was seen this week, when Barack Obama was elected to be the first African-American president of the United States.

“Change, Yes We Can”

Defeating Republican candidate John McCain, he promised from his first speech as Democratic candidate that he could bring ‘Change’ to America.

With voters turning out in huge numbers, this was an election compared to the other greats such as Kennedy’s in the 1960’s and Clinton’s in 1992.  It seems that race might not have played such a part in the electoral process as previously believed.

Obama was successful in winning in the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  These were in fact the two that the Democrats feared would overturn the election altogether, with it usually always voting Republican.

Although the majority voted for Obama, some states certainly varied in their choice of candidate.  Pennsylvania saw a large gap between those voting for Obama and those voting for McCain as did South Carolina, but the latter favouring the Republican.

Segregation and Presidency

The announcment that Obama would become the 44th President of the United States was an emotional one for millions worldwide.  Martin Luther King Jr’s sister watched the victory at Ebenzer Baptist Church as did a tearful Jesse Jackson in Grant Park, Illinois.

These are just some of the people who were witness to segregation and the civil rights movement, who would never have believed that they would live to see a black president in their country.

One voter spoke of the emotion she felt when voting for Obama”I could barely see through my tears as we walked out to the room crowded with differrently shaped faces and bodies…I feel like we live in a democracy again, breathless with hope.” 

This weeks outcome is evidence that race did not play a major part in the process of voting.  It may have for a small minority of people but these have been outshone by those who wanted change and were willing to put their trust in Obama.

For many it has been an emotional week not only for the African-American’s but for millions of people worldwide.  The time has come when they can leave the past behind them and move on to a new era in American history.

By Ffion Rees

For more information https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=848

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bradley effect background

With only days to go until the U.S. Presidential Election, many have been asking the question as to whether the Bradley effect will play a part in who will eventually become president.

Obama has insisted that it does not cause concern for him and that the American people want nothing more than hope that someone will change the policies that the current administration under George Bush has introduced.

This issue of social desirability bias is one that many scholars are adamant could actually cause for McCain to win the election, with many voters unwilling to admit that they will not vote for an African-American president.

History of the Bradley effect

There is no doubt that many have been affected by this including Tom Bradley, in which the theory is named after.  Others include Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson, a man who has backed Obama and also been very critical of throughout the campaign.

Tom Bradley

According to the Washington Post,The man who owes his name to the theory was once mayor of Los Angeles, California and in 1982 had decided to run for the position as democratic candidate to become governor against Republican George Deukmejian, who was white.

Days prior to the election, polls revealed that Bradley was in the lead and would most likely win the campaign.  Some even announced that he had won prior to the election as he was in such a lead. This was not the case.

When election day came, he lost.  Charles Henry, an African American studies professor proposed that race would have been the main factor in this election and the reason for Bradley losing.

Since then, many have argued that this idea that some are afraid of admitting that they are voting for a white person in fear of being accused of racism, could in fact be very true.

Jesse Jackson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is very familiar with the effect that this theory can have upon an African American hoping to be in power.

When he ran for Democratic presidential primary in 1988, the polls, similar to this year’s with Obama, suggested that he had a fair chance of winning.  In the end, he did not recieve near enough votes and many were quick to question whether the theory could have contributed to the voting.

Obama and the Bradley effect

It will be interesting to see whether in 2008, the Bradley effect is still existent.  The polls are in favour of Obama and with the popularity that he has very quickly gained, he has a very fair chance of winning. 

A gallup poll in 1958 revealed that 58 percent of Americans would not vote for an African-American. By 2007, only 5percent felt this way. 

Many are hoping that history will not repeat itself with the polls wrongly suggesting who is lined up for winning the 2008 U.S. Election.

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=783

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will the Bradley effect lose it for Obama?

Some analysts have warned that the ‘Bradley effect’ could possibly take place in this years U.S. Presidential Election.

Bradley effect in this day and age

What triggered this suggestion was the results of New Hampshirewhere, according to the polls, Obama was meant to win.  When the results came in, he lost by three points to his democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Some right-wing Republicans have been clear in their opinion of Obama and that his policies in no way coincide with their beliefs. 

The Internet has been a successful source for uploading videos showing peoples’ opinions on the two candidates and there have been plenty of them interviewing ‘rednecks’ who are afraid of Obama and his policies.

Others have been less vocal and has sparked the question as to whether the Bradley effect has been playing it’s part.

The Bradley effect is a theory that suggests that some voters tell pollsters that they have not decided who they will vote for or that they will be voting for the black candidate but on election day, they vote for the white person.

Evidence from the past

This name derives from Tom Bradley who was a black man running for governor in California in 1982.  He lost even though the polls suggested that he was ahead.

There has been a fear that Obama might suffer the same fate as many believe that some people will not be ready for such a change.  Even though his slogans have been ‘Change’ and ‘Yes We Can’, he is certainly aware that there is a huge challenge ahead of him.

There has been over the last decades what is known as a social desirability bias in which white voters are afraid of admitting who they are voting for in case they are accused of being racist.

Some have criticized the Bradley effect, agreeing that this might have been true immediately after integration of blacks and whites but not so in the last two decades.

Charles Henry, an African American studies professor at the University of California has spoken publicly that he believes Obama will need “a double-digit lead in polls to feel confident about victory on election day.”

Not a believer

Obama himself has spoken in interviews about the Bradley effect and whether he believes that it is a matter for him to be prepared for.  He strongly argues that this will not be an issue for him in winning the election when interviewed by Katie Couric.

“The reason I’m sitting here two days before election as the democratic candidate is because the American people ultimately care about whether or not you can do the job.”

Obama’s view on this matter is refreshing as his views are on any other topic.  Unfortunately with history as evidence that the Bradley effect can play a part in an electoral process, let’s hope that things really have changed.

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=800

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , | 3 Comments

Politics of Zimbabwe Background

Politics in Zimbabwe has for the last decade been a topic of vast discussion and the cause of violence and deaths. 

According to the United States Institution of Peace, torture and politically motivated violence are rampant.”  The perpetrators are Mugabe’s political party, police officials and members of pro-Mugabe groups.

Framework

The structure of the Zimbabwe government is semi-presidential.  The President exists as head of state and the Prime Minister is employed as head of the government.

Robert Mugabe’s political party is the ZANU-PF, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front.  The opposition party is that of the current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Robert Mugabe

Mugabe has served as head of the Zimbabwe government since 1980 and it the current President.  The 2008 election resulted in his Presidency and Morgan Tsvangirai becoming Prime Minister. 

The G8 has continuously questioned Mugabe’s right to be President, as he has been accused of corruption and of ordering the killings of thousands of people.

In July 2008, the G8 released a statement saying that they “do not accept the legitimacy of a government that does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people”. 

The then South African President Thabo Mbeki warned the G8 that UN Sanctions on Zimbabwe could lead to a civil war.  Both the people of Zimbabwe and world leaders are aware of Mugabe’s power and that he is not afraid to use it.

He is also remembered for his campaign to remove white farmers from their land.  3,000 whites were told to leave, many being threatened by his soldiers.  He famously said in 2002:-

“We, the principled people of Zimbabwe, we, the true owners of this land, shall not budge, the land is ours.”

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai is the founder of the MDC.  It was founded in 1999 by those who did not agree with the 2000 constitutional referendum and in particular, trade unions.  Many believe he offers new hope for the people of Zimbabwe who have been ruled by a corrupt government for too long.

Food shortage

A food shortage crisis in not new to ZImbabweans.  It was estimated in 2003 that 3.8m of it’s people were in need of food aid.  Five years on and the same story goes.

Mugabe has always used ‘draught’ and ‘economic crisis’ as the reasons for this ongoing issue.  The United Nations blame the mismanagement of the economy and the governments land redistribution policy. 

We have become almost immune in this country to the images of empty shelves and people queing outside banks to withdraw cash in Zimbabwe.  It is not only a food shortage that the people are having to deal with but also a lack of fuel.  Some have no choice and spend hours each day walking, others queue in the streets waiting for a lift to and from work.

Zimbabwe’s political situation is in turmoil at the moment as it has been for the whole of this decade.  There are serious concerns for the millions of people who are living in areas with major food and fuel shortage as there have been for years now.

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=282

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does the future hold for Zimbabwe?

A recent headline in a South African newspaper was “The Broker, the Braker and the Broke.”  It described Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa as the Broker, President Robert Mugabe as the Breaker and the ordinary people of Zimbabwe living in poverty, as the Broke. 

 

Political instability is not new to Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe having served as head of government for over two decades.  According to the BBC’s Panoroma, he has been responsible throughout his time in power for the mass murders of thousands of civilians.   

Mugabe ‘the racist’

He has publicly condemned homosexuality on a number of occasions and has been criticized by many as being a racist against whites.  Archbishop of York John Sentamu once described Mugabe as being “the worst kind of racist dictator.”

This is mild in comparison to his treatment of those opposing his government.  He is renowned for ordering the beatings and killings of those who have spoken publicly or protested against him. 

Amnesty International reported this year that during the election campaigns, his soldiers had forced the opposition to “chew their posters and swallow them.”

It seems now that the suffering does not end here for Zimbabwe.  The election of 2008 led to Mugabe remaining as President and Morgan Tsvangarai attaining the position of Prime Minister with the then-President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki being the broker in it all.

A new crisis

Sky News’ Emma Hurd revealed this week that there is substantial evidence to reveal a humanitarian crisis taking place in Zimbabwe at this moment in time.  Images in the news of empty supermarket shelves and families queing outside banks to withdraw cash is not new. 

What this most recent piece of information reveals to us is that the scale of this starvation is much larger than was previously believed.  Secretly filming inside a hospital ward, Emma Hurd interviewed a number of families in the province of Manicaland who had brought their babies who were dying of severe malnutrition. 

One police officer spoke to Sky News revealing that he, along with other police officers, had been ordered by the government to intimidate hospital staff members so that the number of dying children would be concealed. 

The world is too aware of the power that Robert Mugabe holds in his country and that he is by no means afraid of using it to his advantage.  It will be interesting to see whether the new government with the influence of Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change will have as much impact as they previously hoped.

This latest evidence might only be the beginning of a series of harassments that Mugabe will use against doctors, nurses and aid workers who are beginning to see the real impact that this dishonest government has had upon the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=336

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Election Background

The Presidential Election of 2008 is scheduled for November the 4th, where by the new President and Vice-President will be elected.  The Democrats candidate running for President is Barack Obama, the junior Senator of Illinois and for the Republicans John McCain, the senior Senator of Arizona.  For vice-President are Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. 

History
George Washington was the first President of the United States between 1789 to 1797.  He is remembered for his leadership during the American War of Independence in which he led his army to victory against the United Kingdom. 

An interesting fact is that he remains the only President who recieved 100% of the electorol votes.  This was due to the Electoral College who elected him unamimously.  His vice-President was John Adams.

Article Two of the United States Constitution outlines the process of electing a person to become President.  It also confirms that’

‘The Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected.’

2008 Presidential Election

The Democratic candidate for the 2008 election is Governor Barack Hussein Obama.  He has been junior Senator of Illinois and he has already helped create legislation in the 110th Congress, for climate change, nuclear terrorism and electoral fraud.  

Obama on the Issues        

Gun Control – Although he is in agreement that the Constitution provides each individual with the right to bear arms, he feels that governments have the right to constrain this if needs be.  He wants to introduce common sense legislation to resolve the issue of hand guns ending up on the streets. 

The Death Penalty–  Obama has on numerous occasions argued that capital punishment is unsuccesful in deteering crime.  He believes that it should only be practised in situations such that are so heinous and beyond the pale, such as the murder of children.

Immigration – He believes that there is need for tighter security on the borders but feels strongly that the deportation of people is a ridiculous idea.  He wants to consult with local communities and improve the surveillance and patrolling on the borders.

John McCain is the Republican Party’s nominee for the 2008 election.  He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and nearly lost his life during the Vietnam War.  He has been avidly supported by the Evangelicals for McCain group and the American Conservative Union.

McCain on the Issues

Gun Control – McCain strongly believes that it is a fundamental right for every American citizen to bear arms. He argues that the blame should not be put on gun manufactures but on the criminals as gun control does not deturr crime.

The Death Penalty – He supports capital punishment for federal crimes and has said he would introduce laws that would expand the death penalty for other crimes. 

Immigration – McCain wants to deport 2million illegal immigrants who have committed crimes but wants to do everything he can to support immigrants to learn English.

If Barack Obama were to win the election, it would without doubt be remebered as one of the most important times in American history.  An African-American has ever been President of the United States.

The Inaguaration Day is set for January 20th, 2009 in which the President and vice-President will be sworn in and will take office.

Here are some of Obama’s opinions on the issues

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=72

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barack And The Evangelical Vote

With the U.S. presidential election less than a month away, there are a number of key groups who both candidates need support from to secure their vote.

Statistics reveal that Barack Obama is favoured by women, Hispanics and under 30’s.  In the Los Angeles Times, Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said “Women are voting for Obama because they dislike Bush, they dislike McCain, they dislike the war, and they’re upset about the economy”

His main challenge will be to ensure that young Americans make the effort to place their votes.  Having invested $33m on advertising, he is well aware of the challenge ahead of him.

Both candidates are concentrating on the key states where they can focus their efforts, those being Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Loyal followers

John McCain’s most loyal supporters are the right wing evangelical communities, with numbers increasing since Sarah Palin was nominated.  Even though she lacks the extensive experience Joe Biden has to offer, her strong pro-life stance allows her to escape criticism from the evangelical voters.

It is believed that the adult evangelical population is as high as 47% of the total adult population.  John McCain is in the lead of Obama by around 71% in the evangelical vote.  The Evangelicals for McCain campaign has been active throughout the election process, with it’s website attracting millions of viewers each day.

He also holds a strong pro-life stance and has publicly spoken out against the Roe v Wade decision of 1973, which will secure him the evangelical support.  He also holds strong views on Christianity and recently said:-

“Virtues, like telling the truth, are exemplified in the Ten Commandments.  They could be and should be taught in every school in America.”

Playing the Christian card

Since President Jimmy Carter was elected, evangelicals have been pivotal players in the U.S. elections.  They were recognised for their part in the 2004 presidential vote, in which they made the crucial difference.

Both McCain and Palin are well aware of this strong community who are supporting them and make every effort to endorse their strong Christian beliefs.

New tactics

Hate campaigns particularly from Palins’ team have attacked Obama for his apparent involvement with terrorism.  She claimed that he was once friends with an ex-member of the Weather Underground group who had opposed the Vietnam War in the 60’s.

The gun-loving pro-death penalty ‘hockey mom’ of five is well aware of what needs to be said to scare the right-wing Americans.  An accusation that Obama could be associated with terrorists has been enough to cause a stir within the voting polls, with many people buying into this.

The truth is that the evangelical vote is crucial to the final result of the U.S. elections and it would be naïve to say that the same thing could not happen to Obama as it did John Kerry.  They will no doubt play a major part in the final decision of who will become the President of the United States this November.

By Ffion Rees

For more information see https://dontknow09.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=227

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Ffion-Politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment