AS THE WORLD TURNS: News Weekly
The lost generation of America's unemployed / From boys to men / Defence cuts put strain on Western alliance / Middle Eastern Christians an endangered species
, October 30, 2010
The lost generation of America's unemployed
The 6.76 million Americans - or 46 per cent of the entire unemployed labour force - counted as long-term unemployed in June were the most since 1948, when the statistic was first recorded.
These are people who, despite dozens of rejections, leave phone messages, send emails, tweak their cover letters, and toy with resume templates in Microsoft Word, all in the search for a job.
Not counted in this figure are so-called "discouraged workers". In August of this year, 1.1 million Americans had simply stopped looking and so officially dropped out of the workforce. They are essentially not considered worth counting when the subject of unemployment comes up. In effect, the real long-term unemployment figure now may be closer to 7.5 million Americans.
Long-term unemployment, research shows, doesn't discriminate: no age, race, ethnicity, or educational level is immune. According to federal data, however, the hardest hit when it comes to long-term unemployment are older workers - middle aged and beyond
As for the causes of long-term unemployment, there's the obvious answer: there simply aren't enough jobs. Before the Great Recession, there were 1.5 workers in the U.S. for every job slot; today, that ratio is 4.8 to one.
Put another way, with normal growth instead of a recession, we'd have 10 million more jobs than we currently do. Closing that gap would require adding 300,000 jobs every month for the next five years. In August 2010, the economy shed 54,000 jobs. You do the maths.
Worse yet, if you imagine five workers queued up for that single position, the longer you're unemployed, the further back you stand. Economists have found that long-term unemployment dims a worker's prospects with each passing day. "This pattern suggests that the very-long-term unemployed will be the last group to benefit from an economic recovery," Michael Reich, an economist at the University of California-Berkeley, told Congress in June.Extract from Andy Kroll, "Unemployed: stranded on the sidelines of a jobs crisis", TomDispatch.com, October 5, 2010.
;From boys to men
It has been almost a decade since Hedi Slimane, then the designer for Dior men's wear, jump-started an aesthetic shift away from stiffly traditional male images that long dominated men's fashion. On catwalks and in advertising campaigns the prevalent male image has long been that of skinny skate-rat, a juvenile with pipe-cleaner proportions.
"Men have always been defined by their jobs - always," said Joe Levy, the editor-in-chief of Maxim
. "Suddenly [with the recession] the notion of having a job or a career is in doubt," Mr. Levy said. "So you fall back on old notions of what it meant to be a man or to look like one."
You lose the T-shirt and the skateboard. You buy an interview suit and a package of Gillette Mach 3 blades. You grow up, in other words.
"It's not just models, it's actors, it's advertising, it's the movies," said Sam Shahid, creative director of Shahid & Company and a force behind Calvin Klein's campaigns.
"It's also, like comfort food, about the economy," he said. "Look back to movies during the Depression, and all you saw was real guys like James Cagney. In tough times, people want a strong man."Extract from Guy Trebay, "From boys to men", New York Times, October 15, 2010.
URL: www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/fashion/17MANLY.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all Defence cuts put strain on Western alliance
Trans-Atlantic security has entered an age of austerity. Burdened by weakened economies, allied governments are cutting their defence budgets, some significantly.
Allies already are finding it more difficult to meet their financial commitments. After a decade of growth in operational demands, NATO's leaders lack the capacity to take on new missions without dropping others, a problem given likely new cyber and missile defence requirements.
Budget cuts have forced some allies to withdraw from multinational programs, including NATO's UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] program and the Joint Strike Fighter. Pressure to withdraw or reduce forces in Afghanistan will increasingly reflect the financial costs of global operations.
All allies are cutting or flat-lining defence spending. Italy reduced its budget by 10 per cent. Germany may reduce the Bundeswehr from 250,000 soldiers to 163,000. The UK defence review could generate budget cuts of up to 15 per cent. Denmark is considering $500 million in savings by 2014 out of an annual budget of just under $4 billion.
Central European allies are contemplating cuts of similar magnitude, and growth of the Pentagon budget will be surpassed by inflation. These trends are likely to be enduring.Extract from Damon Wilson and Ian Brzezinski, "Trans-Atlantic austerity: Can NATO remain relevant amid defense cuts?", Defense News (U.S.), October 18, 2010.
URL: http://defensenews.va.newsmemory.com/eebrowser/frame/check.4700/flash/loadPage.php?token=07nLyNzU29fGt7XA1tHSnZmfhZWUnpKumJJwc5nRxsvcxtPD0sKekdWZlHehkaKRmpuYnIicmpuUppqQcA%253D%253D Middle Eastern Christians an endangered species
While Christian demographics in the Middle East vary from country to country, the overall trend is the same: down. Christians currently account for some 5 per cent of the region's population, compared with some 20 per cent 100 years ago.
In Turkey, for instance, where the Christian minority numbered 20 per cent a century ago, it today is one-hundredth of that, or 0.2 per cent of the total population.
"If this phenomenon continues, Christianity in the Middle East will disappear," Rev. Samir Khalil Samir, a Beirut-based Egyptian Jesuit told Reuters.
In Iraq, though Christians number less than 5 per cent of the total population, they make up 40 per cent of the refugees now living in nearby countries.Extract from Hillel Fendel, "Bishops discuss Middle East threats to Christians", Arutz Sheva [Israel National News], October 18, 2010.