Saturday, February 25, 2017

Three Ongoing Trends That Are Changing Our Societies

There are many on-going changes we are currently witnessing in our societies, and three of them are the way technology and globalization are affecting the way we live, work and communicate.

1. Globalizing Industry

In the distant past, Europe, Japan and North America and to a lesser extent the old Soviet Union, were symbols of an industrial age, which produced and exported to a mainly agricultural World outside their borders. This brought great wealth and prosperity to the people who produced these goods.

Move on three decades later, the industrial leaders of our World have changed, with most industrialized products made in China, or outside the borders of these former industrial giants.

The wealth, and the jobs created have largely moved on too, although it's the companies that make the profits, whilst the people who produce the products we consume, that earn considerably less than their counterparts did in the former industrial powers.

This great change, has led to a new world, were the former farmers in the developing World are now urbanized industrial workers, and the landscape of these countries now producing the goods are changing forever.

2. The Mobile Phone Revolution

At the start of the new century, few people could perhaps envisage, that the mobile phones we use would become common place across our globe, and people would own one, even in the most remote and poorest parts of the world.

This revolutionary change in the way we communicate, has also affected the way we work and the perceptions we have of our World. This change has also created millions of job opportunities around the world in phone shops, kiosks and in the telecommunications industry.

In many ways, people still use these phones to simply chat to someone, whether its through a simple call or a message on a social networking site, but the offshoot of this activity, has seen a growth of businesses catering for the growing mobile phone community, and an awareness that we interact differently to the past.  Refill Prepaid Cell Phones

3. The Rise of the Robot

When the news that a factory in China had laid off tens of thousands of production line workers, replacing them with robots, many people were surprised, yet, this trend can be seen in many parts of our World.

Advances in technology just as during the industrial revolution in the 19th century, has meant that we can create factories, which produce goods with ever decreasing teams of staff to keep them running.

We have developed the technology to produce driverless cars, robotic production lines and drones that can deliver goods to our homes. It is almost inevitable that these technologies should at some point become more common, and create a new need to find alternative ways to employ people affected by this change.

We are probably witnessing some of the greatest changes seen since the industrial revolution to how we live, work and communicate with each other. The big questions are, how we ourselves adjust to these changes, and what the effect could be for the generations who follow us.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Culture of Pakistan and America

The word "culture" holds different meanings for people who come from different cultures. Generally, culture refers to the traditions, values, lifestyles, customs and the heritage of an individual. Culture basically enlightens us about a person's way of life. Mostly people follow the culture of their ancestors as it is difficult to grow up with certain norms and values and then decide that you do not want to be a part of that culture anymore. Culture plays a vital role in a personality of an individual as during the primary socialization process, an individual grows up in the cultural environment provided by their family and people tend to internalize things quickly when they're young. For example, children watch cartoons and grasp whatever they can from those cartoon characters since young people are eager to learn and curious to know about their surroundings.

However, not everyone likes to stick to their cultural values given their situation. For instance, an individual might come from a harsh culture that does not take into account the aspect of respect. These types of norms in a culture might be the cause as to why people drift apart from their cultures. The idea that many people get derived away from their parent cultures is not offbeat. In this essay, we will discuss two cultures; the American culture and the Pakistani culture (Shamama-tus-Sabah and Gilani). Both cultures seem to be poles apart. Pakistani culture is often referred to as the eastern culture while American culture is known as western culture in many parts of the world.

In Pakistani culture, families traditionally tend to stay together. The family structure that is most common in Pakistan is the extended family structure as most of the households comprise of two or more than two generations. This means that grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts live under the same roof typically. There are many reasons as to why extended family structure is widespread among Pakistani culture. Many families tend to stay together due to financial issues. As there is a lack of employment opportunities for the working class families in Pakistan, there is usually one person who earns and supports the family. There tends to be a tremendous amount of pressure on that one earning individual as there are a lot of people dependent on his earnings. Therefore, kin in Pakistani culture are strongly integrated and stay close for most of the time.

Typically, fathers hold the stronger position in the family as they are the earning individuals who run the family. Thus, they are more likely to take important decisions or all decisions of the family, for that matter. Also, since Pakistan is known for its patriarchal culture, it is not bizarre that male members usually hold a dominant status in the family. In the modern world, education has notched up a step and people are encouraging education for women in Pakistan. In the past, females were mostly discouraged to be educated as the patriarchal society believed that if women were given education rights, they would knock down the patriarchy and break all the traditional norms and values (Fazal). However, women are still bound to their country and not many of them are allowed to go abroad or away from their families for higher education. There are some exceptional, liberal families that do not put limitations on their children and let them do what they are passionate about.

Another stereotype of the Pakistani culture is that any profession other than becoming a doctor or an engineer is frowned upon. Artists, musicians, actors, poets, authors and other such professions are not encourages at all, even by their families. If an individual tells their family that they want to become an artist, for instance, their family's response would most probably be, "you are a disgrace to the family". Pakistani culture is not as liberal as the American culture but it has come a long way from its traditional form and has a long way to go until every individual feels liberated and has a sense of their free will.

Pakistan is an Islamic state thus; religion plays a significant role in Pakistani culture. Religious occasions such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, the 9th and 10th of Muharram are announced as public holidays in Pakistan. Other public holidays include the Independence Day, the defense day, the birthday of the founder of Pakistan (Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah) and many more. Eid ul Fitr is one of the most celebrated holidays in Pakistan as it is the celebration of Ramadan coming to an end. Eid is a joyous holiday as the whole country celebrates it exuberantly and with so much enthusiasm. People go an extra mile to help the poor and hand out as much Zakat as they can in the way of Allah. Eid and Ramadan are truly two occasions that bring the whole country together.

Families in the American culture tend to be mostly apart. Even if a family lives under the same roof, they do not share a bond that holds a family together. The high rate of divorce and second marriages is a proof that families in the American culture tend to breakdown or fall apart due to many reasons. One reason why families do not stick together in the American culture is because children are given freedom at a very young age (Spindler and Spindler). For example, children above 13 have the right to call the child services if they feel like their family is being oppressive. Teenagers usually do not have a clue about what is right and what is wrong for them. However, they still tend to claim that they know it all. This confines their parents therefore, parents do not get to hold onto their young ones for long. On the other hand, if not the children, one of the parents leaves the other due to an affair, psychological problems etc. Single parent families usually end up leaving the parent alone in a foster home or on their own.

Extended families are not conventional in the American culture as grandparents usually retire to foster homes and families pay them a visit on holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween are holidays that are celebrated with zeal and zest in American culture. Halloween is a public holiday where people dress up in costumes, go out and mingle with their loved ones. Trick or treat is one of the things that children are most enthusiastic about since it is a tradition to knock on doors around the neighborhood and ask for as much candy as you like. Holidays like these brings the families together. Many different religions are followed by people who live in America (Brauer). For example, Muslims, Jews and Christians and many other people from different religious backgrounds live in the same country and follow their religious values freely. As a lot of people from different religious backgrounds live in America, they are free to do whatever they want to.

Public display of affection is something that is not at all tolerated in Pakistani culture due to the religious background. However, in American culture, physical contact between two people, whether they are in a martial relationship or not, is not frowned upon. Parents of some young people might not encourage it but it is not entirely bizarre. Compared to the Pakistani culture, the youth is given more liberty in the American culture. Teenagers are given multiple opportunities to explore themselves and reach their maximum potential no matter what steps they might have to take in order to get there. Parents are more supportive of their children in the American culture and provide them with all the care they might need.

Bullying is one of the main issues in the American culture. A lot of students at schools believe that they can get their way through bullying other students. Targets of bullying are usually fat, dark or students from another race. Bullying has been a major reason behind students changing schools, developing mental illnesses such as depression, complexes, anxiety etc. Racism is also witnessed in the American culture and is not unfamiliar at all. The worst part about living in the USA has to be the stereotypes set up against the minorities by bullies. However, the best part about living in the USA is that there is always an opportunity to stop the bullying and racism and step out of whatever bothers you or stops you from moving forward as it is a free country, full of new doors that lead to greater things.

It is clear as crystal that the Pakistani and American culture differ in so many ways. While families in the Pakistani culture are closely knit, families in the American culture draw apart as they grow older. However, Pakistani culture is not as liberal the American culture. Pakistani culture places boundaries on the youth to a certain extent while the American culture provides its youth with as much opportunity it can to go beyond their limits and achieve what no one else could. However, both cultures have their distinct attributes; both the cultures provide the people living there with a sense of belonging and an identity.

Works Cited
Brauer, Jerald C. "Regionalism and Religion in America." Church History (1985): 366-378.
Fazal, Tanveer. "Religion and Language in the Formation of Nationhood in Pakistan and Bangladesh." Sociological Bulletin (1999): 175-199.
Shamama-tus-Sabah, Syeda and Nighat. Gilani. "Household Chaos and its Association with Maternal Education, Family System, and Children's Academic Achievement in Pakistani Culture." Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research (2010): 19-30.
Spindler, George D. and Louise Spindler. "Anthropologists View American Culture." Annual Review of Anthropology (1983): 49-78.

By Bilal Zafar

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Imperialistic State

Webster defines imperialism as a policy of extending a country's power and influence through diplomacy or military force. It can be arguably said that by the turn of the 20th century the United Sates began to stretch it's rule of democracy to the far corners of the globe. In truth the election of William McKinley edged the United States closer to that lofty pinnacle of dominance, regime change and nation building that we are seeing today. The global reach of our policies and military actions from the past 116 years has gained the United States the recognition as the most prolific imperialistic nation since Great Britain was during the late 17th and 18th century.

Since the beginning of the 20h century the United States has only continued playing into the hands of the power elite. It has been this power elite who have and are the movers and shakers that have steered the United States into too many needless wars costing trillions of dollars and millions of lives while at the same time recklessly endangered the economic stability of this once great nation. In too many instances policy decisions for the last hundred years whether military or not only continued filling the coffers of those who wield the real power. It was Major General Butler that quoted "I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of the racket all the time. Now I am sure of it." Today, our military continues to be just a tool used by government, and the power elite. We may think that our elected officials do the bidding of their constituents but in truth they are only figure heads in an never ending ploy to beguile the public into thinking that their concerns really matter.

We have to go back to 1898 when President McKinley following the sinking of the USS Maine declared War against Spain. This war even though it lasted only a few months was the start of Americas imperialistic agenda that continues today. The sinking of the USS Maine was not sabotage nor an act of war perpetrated by Spain but was an accident brought about by the extremely hot weather which accelerated the temperature of the ships boiler to the point that the munitions stock piled right next to it set off the explosion that sank the ship. A convenient cover up to capitalize on what was really an accident. But the hysteria that followed by the mass publication of the Hearst's newspapers convinced the public that the United States was justified in going to war with Spain. This was just the first instance in along line of ploys to induce public sentiment to act without knowing the real truths behind what is really a hidden agenda. Who knows what the United states would be like today if we had elected William Bryant instead of McKinley or in 1944 if the people's choice for Vice President Henry Wallace was the nominee instead of the Democratic establishment's choice candidate Truman. But, in the end the power elite behind the scenes managed to secure the United States place as the imperialistic nation we have today.

As this years Presidential election opened up it took one lone Senator from Vermont to awaken the public to the ills that have plagued this nation for years. Ills that were really brought on by and for the entrenched power elite. What Senator Sanders started turned into a national phenomenon. In doing so the public became aware of the many inconsistencies between what our governmental policies should have been doing and what they are actually doing. The public has been seduced by a controlled government and are just now beginning to realize what has been going on right under their nose. In embarking on a Presidential campaign Senator Sanders almost single handily united the public to rise up and be counted as a collective entity to use their influence through the power of Democracy and usher in a nonviolent revolution to bring about the needed changes that will bring back the power to the people. But, what actually happened sounds all to familiar to what happened to Henry Wallace in 1944. The establishment in the democratic party who are controlled by the power elite conveniently engineered the positioning of Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

What has happened though in this definitive moment in politics is where the rule of law was never enforced, forever compromised and in many cases corrupted to the point that drowned out the voices of the public. Too many times when the public became aware of what was happening the outcome only further entrenched a political system that has been all along corrupted. The United States today is faced with the real possibility of a historic revolution where the social breakdown along with the collapse of the rule of law will send this nation down into the abyss. The last time a revolution of the scale of what could actually happen was during the Bolshevik Revolution. But, in this case the greed of some has overwhelmed our whole society. We have already begun to see that our government whose love affair with our fiat paper money, a regime drunk on money printing, that by the way never ended up elevating the incomes any one of the struggling 99% of the population has transformed this nation into a shadow of it's former self.

It is in motion now and many are becoming alert. But, millions of people are still embarrassingly naive about the most obvious breakdown of the United States. Our way of life that our grandfathers knew has already begun to perish. What comes next? Just imagine currency controls, a coming value-added tax, constant debasing of the currency, martial law, food riots and tanks in the streets, holding camps for "terrorists," rationing of paper money at the banks, food rationing, no Medicare for seniors, and no Social Security except as means tested and no elective surgery. Already the banks have been putting restrictions on the amount of currency one is able to withdraw. As a worse case scenario develops hyperinflation or depression evolves and millions become destitute, being stripped of their financial security and political illusions, they may begin to think of retribution. All along the public has been led like sheep to the slaughter. Led by arrogant politicians and bureaucrats who have morphed America into chaos and poverty.

Today, by some estimates there are as many as 300,000,000 private firearms in the U.S. and no telling how much ammunition. No matter what attempted firearm controls the government tries to evoke it will make no significant difference. It is plain too late. We can see where this will lead to, armed rebellion against a tyrannical rule that has perpetuated the imperialistic state and forever extinguished the American Dream for millions of Americans. Riots and revolutions are not new to America. Once sufficient anxiety surfaces any small incidental occurrence can trigger hostilities.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is approaching social breakdown and revolution. The trouble is that failed leadership in the U.S. is no different from many failed regimes throughout history. From Caesar and Nero to Hitler and Mussolini they were sure that their tenure would last. United States leaders today also believe that they are appointed for life no matter what they do or how much they steal. The corrupt political system has perpetuated the corruption in government all the while the power elite continue their reign over all.

Make no mistake the United States since the beginning of the 20th century has become the world's most ruthless imperialistic nation undermining the stabilities of nations all for the purpose to garnish more power, wealth and control for the corporate state of America. The public has long since fallen right into the hands of a corrupt government that has no desire to implement change that would diminish the authority and the wealth of the oligarchy established government. Soon the groundswell of revolt will come crashing down on a system that is self destructing. Remember the French Revolution?.

We also have to remember that our power elite ushered in sanctions against Russia and in doing so undermined the delicate relationship that really is essential for both countries. The United States in it's zeal of conquest blatantly continues to inflict policies that have only crippled our effectiveness in brokering new alliances, forge treaties that would actually benefit the population of the United States. For the past 116 years it has been the profiteering of our industrial and military complex that has driven the United States domestic and foreign policies. In doing so we have continued to force our will on other nations all over the world. When Russia who has their own priorities the United States has only continued to further antagonize that country setting the stage for more hostilities. It has been all along the imperialistic state of the United States that is responsible for most of the worlds hot beds of instability. Yet, we continue to impose and even force our imperialism on others. Not only are we faced with the very high probability of an open revolt here in the United States but a far more horrendous and devastating confrontation on a global scale. This is all a result of the Imperialistic state of the United States.

By Dr. Tim G Williams

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Bewildering Facebook Experience

One's contact group on Facebook begins with a modest circle of family and friends but after several years it grows into a vast and diverse group of people with many of whom one has very little in common. In the writer's case, although English continues to dominate, the polyglot community posts also in Arabic, Vietnamese, Tagalog and smatterings of African languages. And while the initial group discussed familiar issues and expressed views with which one was generally in sympathy, the larger eclectic group that evolves over time promotes strange and sometimes offensive opinions, often expressed in imperfect or unsavoury language. One wonders how a group that is designated as friends can mutate into such a sprawling and largely alien community.

The Bewildering Facebook Experience
One's core Facebook community always had a few special interests in addition to family matters. These included books and farming, motorcycles, model making and current affairs in Ghana. To this were soon added houses in Spain, Germany and later France, with a strong pro-European Union bias. As the circle of contacts grew, a major input began to appear from pro-Democratic Party organisations in the USA with highly partisan posts rapidly increasing in number as the presidential election approached.

How US politics came into the ambit of a group of British citizens is hard to explain but the furore over Britain's referendum on EU membership could not be avoided. While the family core is strongly European, its Facebook experience is dominated by three extreme right-wing organisations who are pro-Brexit and vehemently opposed to Muslim immigration. One group is struggling to revive a crusading military order dissolved in 1312, after accusations of abuses and neglect, and another expresses pride in reporting every scrap of news that portrays Moslems in a bad light. One wonders if one is seeing a sort of pseudo-Christian revival.

Equally strange, but far less sinister, is a lady posting garish childish daubs, claiming artistic merit, while less controversial are pictures posted by a gentleman with passions for old classic cars and young glamourous women. The posts in Vietnamese are mostly sponsored commercials, while those in Tagalog seem biased in support of the new president and his extrajudicial slaughter of drug traders and abusers. Ghanaians have recently been commenting on their own presidential election, now peacefully concluded, with all posts in English but with a few interjections in Twi.

If the Facebook experience is strange and unexpected it does have a message to impart. The great human family is now connected more directly than ever before and there are only a few links between those we know, and those who they know, and so on to the ends of the Earth. It also brings a warning about the dangers of the spread of extreme religious and political views, at the same time as providing a forum in which these might, perhaps, eventually be reconciled.

John Powell is the author of several books, the latest being: Saint George, Rusty Knight, and Monster Tamer is a series of nine self-contained historical short stories which introduces George, a hapless knight who has an unusual skill for monster taming, and which, with wit and delightful aplomb takes the young reader on an adventurous journey though some significant moments in history.

Historical Novel Society, February 2016.

http://www.amazon.com/Saint-George-Rusty-Knight-Monster/dp/1910508195/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Saint-George-Rusty-Knight-Monster/dp/1910508195/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1EEZ4CA5ZNVKJ0ZZNGTN

Monday, February 13, 2017

Water Crisis in Malaysia

I was sitting on the bench with my family close to the poolside toting a water bottle in hand. Glancing at the men and women and children going down the basin tubes from the slimy conveyor to the shallow depth at the Sagar restaurant situated in the midst of the Sunway Lagoon in Malaysia. Holding the water bottle for not too long, but keeping it over the table with a resolution that I now felt I was to follow-up on.

I was watching it rather than just seeing a demonic hand robbed just as the slender bottles, and before I could look any deeper the demon and the infernal fire feared by those who fear fire or death of any kind given to them only by "demons" and I bowed my eyes like any other outsider who I could pick from the streets and ask him to lay down his purse to my locker by telling him to do so without making him know how I did that.

I spoke no further because it showed a lot more than the empty bottle that never revealed the real cost of itself concealing a truth in the name of deceiving someone at least to the ones who weren't from the same state or country or anywhere near and never had anything to do with the place.

Where there was ample water to be drowned into there were empty glasses that still had Malaysian Ringgit to drink, put them brass over the Istana Negara gardens and what lays inside and say no more we are here to fill the King's gunny backs and these tourists are idiotic wanders. Let a man be sent to see, hear or learn anything or possibly everything before he moves out or be ready to be fooled at the place time and the person he chooses for because we have no control and I think someone sitting at the top may also have no control over that. If we can get their dry throats craving for water and remove all the water dispensers large hail to you gentlemen, we will build a palatial Kingdom out of their thirstiness.

I had doubt about the future of Malaysia as I had first heard it from a tour guide "they love their king more than the God" but if the king if the plunderer what can become of the nation is something I to doubt for as the future of Malaysia remains unknown to the people.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Republicans Plan to End Medicare Immediately

As soon as Donald Trump is sworn into office, the first thing Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is going to do is sponsor a bill to end Medicare. He calls it "privatizing" Medicare and "modernizing" Medicare. What that means is that he'll end the Medicare program and give it to private health insurance companies. If you're over 65, remember how you were just trying to endure, to make it to 65 so you could finally breathe a sigh of relief when you got Medicare? If you're under 65, you've probably been hanging in there and looking forward to the huge relief of not being at the mercy of health insurance companies with their huge deductibles and co-pays.

Health Insurance Companies are Not There to Provide Health Care

Medicare and the Veteran's Administration health care system are the only health insurance systems in the country whose mission is to make sure people get access to health care. That's all they do. The main mission of private insurance companies, on the other hand, is simply to make money for their CEO's, top executives and share holders. Their goals are to provide the least amount of health care for people at the least cost to themselves. That's why, before ObamaCare, we had "pre-existing conditions," where, if you had the slightest health issue, insurance companies could refuse to take you on. They also decreed that, if they had paid out a certain maximum amount for your healthcare, you'd be cut off for the rest of your life.

Medicare has never done any of that. We've had it from the time we reach 65 until we die. We would always have health care paid for. That's all going to end if the Republicans have their way. Your Republican Senators and Congress people will say that our country can't afford Medicare and that this will make sure people have affordable health care on into the future.

Republicans Say We Can't Afford Medicare

They're going to say that our country can't afford to take care of its elderly anymore; it's too expensive; it's an "out-dated" system. (This is not true; Democrats have a plan to expand Medicare.) Republicans' plan is to give each person a voucher for a certain amount of money that they can use toward private health insurance. That amount will cover only part of the cost of an inferior health insurance plan. That amount also will not keep going up as health insurance premiums go up, so you'll be paying for more and more of the premiums yourself, instead of having Medicare. You'll also be paying huge deductibles and you'll be paying co-payments. Under Medicare as we've known it, monthly premiums are low, the deductible is tiny and there are no co-payments for the best plan, which is Plan F.

If you're 65 or older, you might think you can breathe a sigh of relief, because the Republicans will say they'll keep you on Medicare--it's only the younger people who won't get it. But that's not true, because they'll stop funding Medicare so that over time it will run out of money and when we're at our most fragile, in our older years, we'll be thrown to the "mercies" of the for-profit health insurance business who, remember, has the main goal of making money for its CEO's, executives and shareholders and providing the least amount of services for the most amount of money.

The suffering that will be caused by dismantling the Medicare program and giving it to private insurance companies is close to unimaginable. Tens of millions of seniors and the elderly will be left without health care. Many will lose their homes and be left destitute trying to pay for health insurance and health care.

What You Can Do

What can we do? If you're living in a state with Republican Senators and Congress people-especially in Paul Ryan's state-write, call, go to your state capitols and demand that Medicare be left alone. For a directory to find your Representative's phone number, see http://www.house.gov/representatives/. For a directory to find your Senators, see http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's phone number is 202-225-3031. Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell's phone number is 202-224-2541. You can also email them by googling their names and sending an email through their websites.

It's important to do this right away, before Donald Trump is sworn in as President, before Paul Ryan has a chance to sponsor the bill.

Also keep in mind, getting rid of Social Security is next.

Zoe Zimmermann is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Boulder, CO. She would like to help create a more humane and caring country where everyone feels they belong.

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