Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Could the strange politics of 2016 bring big change to a small African nation?

Abdoulie Jammeh / youthjournalism.org

Members of a coalition of opposition parties hoping to unseat Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh in the Dec. 1 national election. 

By Lama Jallow
SERREKUNDA, The Gambia - It’s been a year of major political upheaval in the world. Britain voted against the expectations of many to withdraw from the European union, and to everyone's surprise, Americans voted for Republican Donald Trump to become its next president. The possibility looms that Marine Le Pen of the French National Front could soon win the presidential election in France.
Given that none of these were favorites in their respective countries, the upcoming national election in The Gambia is wide open.
The Islamic Republic of The Gambia, formerly The Gambia, is a small country in the world and in particular Africa. While this might make carefully following its elections less important to many people, for Gambians it is the opposite.
Many people here see the upcoming elections as a chance to vote for drastic change but others remain skeptical about who to trust with their votes.
Gambians want someone to lead the country free from conflicts, tribal politics and violence after incumbent Yahya Jammeh, who ruled with an iron fist, clamped down on dissent and free speech. In his two decades of rule, he silenced opponents and jailed journalists. 
Jammeh, who took the reins of power as a young army lieutenant on July 22, 1994 in a bloodless coup d'etat, has intensified his bid for a fifth term after 22 years of heavy handed, autocratic rule.
He came under pressure and tense criticism when he spat bitter remarks at a campaign rally in September against the Mandinkas, the largest ethnic group in The Gambia, describing them as racist and promoting tribalism.
Abdoulie Jammeh / youthjournalism.org

Adama Barrow, presidential candidate for the coalition
of opposition parties in The Gambia.
Little did he know that inciting such violent sentiments could backfire or withdraw the support of the Mandinkas in his bid for re-election.
In a massive outpouring of support and solidarity, the Mandinkas have now put their weight behind Adama Barrow, formerly of the United Democratic Party, the biggest opposition party in the country. 
Barrow is leading a coalition of seven opposition parties as its standard bearer in the December 1 election. The coalition has massive support from mostly Mandinkas  have formed the greater percentage of the opposition for years. 
The jailing of the United Democratic Party leader and some executive members of his party brought about a massive turn against Jammeh.  Support for the newly formed coalition grew by the day, igniting hope among Gambians and the diaspora to unseat him when the country goes to the polls.
United Democratic Party leader, Ousainou Anm Dabo, a veteran politician and attorney, is serving a three-year term for peacefully protesting against electoral reforms in April.  
Two other United Democratic Party heavyweights, Solo Sandeng and Solo Krumah, suddenly died from tortures and inhumane treatment inflicted while in state custody at the notorious National Intelligence Agency.
Political commentators have said Gambia will see its first major presidential elections with three candidates – incumbent Jammeh, coalition candidate Barrow and Mama Kandeh of the newly formed Gambia Democratic Congress.
Abdoulie Jammeh / youthjournalism.org

Mama Kandeh (in the center wearing a white robe) at his nomination as the presidential candidate for the Gambia Democratic Congress.
A former member of parliament for the ruling party Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, Kandeh and his Gambia Democratic Congress are hoping to get the top spot. Kandeh, who pulled out of the coalition at the eleventh hour over issues of transparency, has been drawing huge crowds in the campaign.
But the fast rising and hugely popular Barrow has the backing of thousands of sympathizers yearning for change in the nation’s leadership. He poses a potential threat to Jammeh, who has vowed to rule for a billion years if God wants him to.
What’s become more reassuring is the statement from the electoral commission saying the elections cannot be rigged and warning both candidates to maintain peaceful and violence-free conduct.  
With just hours before Gambians cast their votes, the question that lingers in the minds of the electorates is, who would win? And, will Jammeh concede defeat should he fail to secure victory?
What remains clear to everyone is that the elections will be a tough contest and one that the whole world should be watching.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Ohio State University student shaken after hiding from assailant during campus attack

Noah Adelsberger / youthjournalism.org

Initial emergency messages to students at The Ohio State University warned of an "active shooter," though it turned out to be an attack with a motor vehicle and knife.

By Noah Adelsberger
Junior Reporter
NEWARK, Ohio, U.S.A. – An attack at The Ohio State University Monday morning injured 11 and rattled a campus community just returning from Thanksgiving break.
Computer Science and Engineering student Megan Knox was in class when someone warned the classroom about an emergency alert text they had received about an active shooter. 
Initial reports of an active shooter were incorrect, as the only shots occurred when a campus police officer responding to the situation shot and killed the apparent attacker.
Knox and other students remained in shelter for about an hour and a half, she said.  She and her classmates remained safe, but were still shaken.
“I couldn’t really like believe it,” said Knox afterward. “It was like, that kind of thing like happens, you hear about it, you know, you don’t experience it yourself.”
At a press conference hours later, campus police said Officer Alan Horujko – responding to an apparent assault on a group of students – shot and killed the assailant, later identified as OSU student Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
Horujko’s gunfire caused a campus wide emergency alert to be issued, warning the students to an active shooter and to take cover. Students were told to remain sheltered until the area was secured. 
The attack left 11 people hospitalized, six of them at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, the rest at Riverside Methodist Hospital and Grant Medical Center.  All are expected to recover. 
Officials said there isn’t yet a known motive for the attack, which is under investigation.
After the attack, Knox said she felt safe at the university.
“I feel more safe on campus than off campus most of the time,” she said.
Other officials praised the alert system at Ohio State University, which sent messages to students about the emergency.  Officials also said they were happy that the students didn’t overreact to the situation.
According to police, at 9:52 a.m., Artan drove a car into a group of students walking on a sidewalk.  Horujko responded.
Artan produced a knife and injured several students with it, police said.  At 9:53 a.m. Horujko shot and killed Artan on the scene. 
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was at the press conference, praised emergency personnel, saying they used “amazing coordination.”
“It is remarkable what these first responders did,” said Kasich, adding that their work would be an example for other colleges of what to do in a similar situation.  

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Columbus attack brings terror home for student at The Ohio State University

By Noah Adelsberger
Junior Reporter
NEWARK, Ohio, U.S.A. – Just before noon Monday, I sat outside my physics lab room of Ohio State University’s Newark campus checking Facebook when a new message from my mother appeared.
That’s when my world changed.
I opened up the link she’s sent to a news article about an active shooter situation on the main campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.
My heart skipped a beat as I read that my fellow students had been attacked and were still in danger.
I’ve read about active shooters and other situations like this in other states, different schools, different people.
This time, however, this was less than 40 miles away from me, at my alma mater, my fellow students, my university family.
I have friends at that campus, and was relieved to learn that they are okay.  But not everybody is as lucky as I am.
Many others are concerned for the family members or friends who were wounded or killed in this attack.
This attack spanned less than an hour, but there’s no telling how long into the future its effect will last. 
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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Day stuns, saddens Iowa girl

By Garret Reich
Senior Reporter
GLENWOOD, Iowa, U.S. – Sometimes there are no words to describe the pain, anger, despair, fear, and disappointment that we feel.  This can be when someone dearly loved passes away. It can be losing a war you fought long and hard for.
On Election Day as I, and countless other Americans, watched the television, I was stunned.
Donald Trump has come a long way. He has defied odds that first made his possible Republican nomination and now his presidential win seem impossible. Surprisingly, his lack of political experience was not a drawback to his campaign but a benefit.
He exercised his right to free speech to a point where he insulted a majority of the people of the United States. It started with his speech announcing his campaign when he called Mexicans “rapists.”
In a Tweet he called Ariana Huffington, who was the co-founder of the Huffington Post, is “unattractive, both inside and out.”
And he says our journalists are “lying, disgusting people.”  As a teenage girl interested in practicing her guaranteed First Amendment as an American journalist, I am terrified.  
Tuesday night, my family together watched the results pour in.  I was unable to keep my eyes from my computer screen.  We watched one state after another turn deep red, convinced that the outcome would reflect the polls.
I had confidence that our people would see past controversies and to the heart of our country.  Trump led a campaign of hate, misogyny, and immaturity.  I had faith that love would overcome it.
I am aware that there are thousands of people out there that are in the same state of shock and panic.  Instead of letting fear govern our actions over these next transition months from President Obama to Trump, fighting for what we believe in.
But we, as journalists, also have to continue to write and give America the truth. No matter who the President is.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Smog chokes Lahore, Pakistan

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org
In the past week, smog has been filling the air in Lahore. This was the view from inside an academic building at Forman Christian College.

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org
The air in on the main campus grounds at Forman Christian College in Lahore. 
Amber Shakil / youthjournalismorg
The Institute ofo Business Administration at the University of the Punjab, Lahore.

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org
The view through the smog of an academic block at Foreman Christian College in Lahore. It's not a far distance, but the smog makes it harder to see and stings the eyes.
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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Talking Gender and the Presidency at Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta

Madeleine Deisen / youthjournalism.org

Panelists Howard Franklin III, Dr. Beth Reingold, Sara Guillermo, and Angela Rye at the "Women and Politics" discussion recently at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.

By Madeleine Deisen
ATLANTA, Georgia, U.S.A. – It’s important for women to get involved and run for office, panelists said at a recent discussion on women and politics at the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The discussion last week, called “Women and Politics: Is it Important to Elect a Female President?” touched on the importance of women in public office and at times took aim at Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for U.S. president.
“What does it mean when important decisions are being made and women’s voices, our voices, are not at the table?” asked Deborah Richardson, the executive vice president of the center.
Panelist Beth Reingold, a professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and Political Science at Emory University, said she believes electing a woman president will help chip away the implicit bias against women in leadership positions.
“Compared to their male counterparts, women in public office are consistently more likely to represent women’s perspectives, women’s issues, and women’s concerns,” said Reingold.
While panelists agreed that representation of women in public office is important, women are currently highly underrepresented.
Panelist Sara Guillermo of IGNITE, an organization that works for gender parity in elected office by inspiring young women to run, said it will take 100 years to achieve gender parity in elected office if the current rate of election of women officials continues.
Guillermo expanded the issue of representation to include young women of color and said that it is important they see women of color in elected offices so that they can envision themselves in similar positions.
Moderator Howard Franklin III – the first male president of the Georgia League of Women Voters – called America’s political system the “shining democracy of the world,” but also expressed surprise that a country seen as a model of democracy had yet to elect a female president.
Guillermo, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines as a child, said her family who live in the Philippines could not believe there has not been a female president of the United States.
A major barrier women face when running for elected office, especially for president, is sexism, according to panelists.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, who is her party’s first female nominee for U.S. president, will be the first woman president if she wins the Nov. 8 election.
The presidency, Reingold said, is “a quintessential masculine space” in the eyes of the public.
In the current election, said Reingold, many of the things Trump “says and does point out just how odd it is to see a woman as President or a woman in power.”
Panelist Angela Rye, a CNN political commentator and NPR political analyst, said Trump is “trying to marginalize us, dumb us down, talk about our wrinkles.”
Trump’s comments about Clinton are different than when he called his Republican opponents “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted” when referring to U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Rye said, because his comments about Clinton are “about her age, about her appearance.”
Reingold brought up Trump’s comment about whether his former Republican primary opponent Carly Fiorina had the “face of a President.”
Donald Trump “cannot handle standing shoulder to shoulder as a woman’s equal,” said Rye.
As a woman, Clinton faces double standards in politics, Rye said. She is “supposed to be responsible for her husband,” whereas male candidates are not considered responsible for the actions of their spouses, said Rye.
Compared to Trump, the public view gives Clinton less freedom to change her mind, according to Rye.
“He can change his mind,” said Rye, “but if she changes her mind, she’s a liar.”
Rye also identified other barriers to women in politics, including the need to raise money for a campaign
“The task to raise increased amounts of money is daunting,” said Reingold.
But despite these barriers, there are many ways to help women get elected, panelists said.
One of these ways is to encourage young women to run for office, which is what IGNITE and Guillermo do.
Guillermo said there is a “plaguing self-doubt” among young women and their perceived qualification to run for office, and encouragement could help combat it.
Reingold said one way to encourage young people to run for office is to expose them to “well-meaning, hard-working, well-intentioned people who really do make a difference.”
Franklin said getting elected is not the only way to serve.  There are “plenty of other places and spaces to make a difference,” he said.
Adrienne White, vice president of finance at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, told the audience that to help women get elected, they should, “look for a woman who inspires you to give some of your time, talent, or treasure.”
The best way to increase the representation of women in elected office is for women to run, said White.
“My charge to you all is to run for office,” White said. “Stop waiting for somebody else to do it.” 
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