International Update: 9.26.18-10.04.18

I hope you get at least a little something out of my thoughts on what’s going on around the world.

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I’m very excited to announce that, for the first time in about two months, I will be free to work on my blog more thoroughly than I have since moving to Chicago. Picking up your life and starting over is tricky business, but I feel like I’m finally getting some kind of footing here.

My takes in this International Update are a bit stodgy in some sections and that’s entirely my own fault. I hope you enjoy the articles I’ve found either way and get at least a little something out of my thoughts on what’s going on around the world.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library or taken by me. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


International Update 2Africa Article

Title: Stigma, poverty leave ‘cursed’ disabled children neglected in Kenya’s orphanages

Source: Reuters

What Happened?

Disabled children throughout Kenya are being left at orphanages because of the country’s stigma toward physical and mental disabilities.

It is estimated that roughly 10 percent of the Kenyan population is disabled but the Kenyan government is reporting that the disabled population is only 3.5 percent.

Disabled people throughout Kenya do not have a full understanding of the social welfare programs the country has in place for them because the country rarely enforces them. Many citizens of the country still believe that people with disabilities are ‘cursed.’

Mothers that try to care for their disabled children receive little to no support and rarely know how to give their children the proper care they deserve.

The national stigmas and governmental apathy towards the issue have led to children being abandoned at ill-equipped orphanages. They are often even less prepared for children with disabilities than the families that left them in the first place. Many times the children put into the orphanages are neglected and abused.

Why Should We Care?

No child– no person for that matter– deserves to be treated like a curse. No one deserves to be looked at like a burden or tossed aside because of a predetermined fate they had no control over.

We all need to take a step back and look at how culturally stigmatized disabilities are around the globe. While the United States and many first world countries still have a lot of work to do on their societal views of both mental and physical disabilities, it’s very clear we are leaps and bounds ahead of countries like Kenya.

Nurture is a vital part of a person’s development. It is so important to see that disabled people, whatever their struggles may be, can thrive when given the right physical and mental resources. These not only include proper medical care and equipment, but also the support of family and friends.

Caring about someone has so much more power than the world ever gives it credit for. Having a person in your corner that cares about you and your well-being can help cultivate hope. It can give a person the strength to believe in their own abilities. Having a cheerleader; a guardian; a family, can truly make all of the difference.

This should be a unalienable right for everyone, but unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s time we start teaching people acceptance, sympathy, and empathy as early as we can so future generations can be more understanding towards people who may look, act, or think differently than we do.

I have hope that the world is headed in the right direction when it comes to de-stigmatizing disabilities. Hopefully the efforts to make our world a more inclusive place will help prevent tragedies like the one currently happening in Kenya.

Bhalla, Nita. “Stigma, poverty leave ‘cursed’ disabled children neglected in Kenya’s orphanages,” Reuters, 28 Sept. 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-children-disability/stigma-poverty-leave-cursed-disabled-children-neglected-in-kenyas-orphanages-idUSKCN1M8256


International Update 1Americas Article

Title: Neighbors Refer Venezuela to Criminal Court in ‘Historic’ Rebuke

Source: New York Times

What Happened?

Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Canada have requested that the International Criminal Court consider prosecuting Venezuelan officials for human rights abuses.

This is the first time in history that any member nations connected to the International Criminal Court have referred another nation to the court.

This is especially shocking due to the cultural blind eye Latin American countries tend to turn when it comes to criticizing their neighboring countries.

Due to the human rights issues currently plaguing Venezuela, the United Nations has reported that 1.6 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015 and as many as an estimated 1.8 million will leave this year (that’s roughly 3.4 million people). Its neighboring countries have had open-door policies for the last three years, but the extensive level of immigration has taken a political toll on all of the countries involved.

The United States’ State Department has not confirmed or denied the US’s support of the efforts to hold Venezuela accountable for abusing human rights.

Why Should We Care?

I know I have all the power when it comes to my blog and that I’m pretty lousy goosey with my travel articles. There’s no method to any of it, really. However, when it comes to my International Updates, I like to stick to a system.

My International Updates are the most formulaic thing I have on this blog, so I don’t like to mess with it. I typically go from Thursday to Thursday without fail, to help narrow down my article searches. I was so compelled by this article that I decided to go from Wednesday to Thursday JUST THIS ONCE (don’t hold me to that, we all know I’m the worst at keeping up any kind of consistency on this blog).

I don’t know how many people are actually keeping up with the status of Venezuela for the last three (or so) year, but you should be. Here are a couple of articles to help you get an idea of what’s going on. One is from the BBC. The other is from Aljazeera. To put things simply, Venezuela is on the brink of being under a dictatorship (if it isn’t already there).

All of this is because of President Nicolas Maduro. Here are just a few things that the six countries in question are accusing the president and his government of:

  • having people arrested with no true case justifying the individual’s arrest (arbitrary detentions)
  • having people killed by the government without giving them any proceedings or legal process (extrajudicial killings)
  • Torture
  • Sexual crimes (the last two do not need explanation)

To be absolutely frank, President Nicolas Maduro is the truest form of a scumbag and deserve whatever comes his way. I’m glad to see neighboring countries of his nation banding together to shine some light on his heinous behavior. The investigations done by the International Criminal Court will not stop the issues in Venezuela, but hopefully they will at least slow down the turmoil being caused by Maduro.

And, not to subtly bring the United States into this hot mess or anything, but maybe our country should have a better answer than, “I plead the fifth” when it comes to blossoming dictatorships.

Londono, Ernesto and Marlise Simons. “Neighbors Refer Venezuela to Criminal Court in ‘Historic’ Rebuke,” The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/world/americas/venezuela-international-criminal-court.html


international-update-3.jpgAsia Article

Title: Kumamoto Municipal Assembly kicks female member out for sucking on cough drop during session

Source: The Japan Times

What Happened?

Yuka Ogata was kicked out of the Kumamoto Municipal Assembly for sucking on a cough drop during her time at the podium. All members outside of Yuka Ogata, herself, voted for her removal.

This is not the first time Yuka Ogata has been removed from a Kumamoto Municipal Assembly. Back in November 2017, Yuka was kicked out for bringing her newborn child to the proceedings.

Assembly members claim her eating of a cough drop during the assembly disrupted the integrity of it, which was more of a problem than the actual consumption of the cough drop during the assembly.

Her removal caused an eight-hour delay in deliberations.

Why Should We Care?

After jumping around and skimming through a few articles I’ve learned a bit more about Yuka Ogata and her baller approach as a legislator. The woman even brought her newborn to a government assembly before it was cool (shout out to New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, for making it cool).

I think last November’s incident struck a nerve with her fellow assembly members moreso than the actual cough drop situation that happened at the end of September. This could easily just be their way of retaliating against Yuka and her contemporary standards.

I think it is fair to say that Yuka Ogata’s assembly members find her approach a bit radical. And when I say radical, I mean being a mother who takes care of her child (and herself), while also being a successful legislator. I guess radical and badass could be interchangeable here.

I also want to note that according to a comment made on this article, there are 47 members in the Kumamoto Assembly; three of whom are women (I couldn’t find anything that confirms or denies this information). Keep in mind, everyone voted for Yuka’s removal.

Now, I don’t know much about Japanese culture, but I do know that tradition and respect plays a very large role in their society. Yuka was eating her cough drop while addressing the assembly which might have raised a few eyebrows and rubbed some people the wrong way. She could have tried to eat the cough drop before going up to the podium, but as she points out, it’s better than coughing.

Yuka’s disruptions definitely go against tradition, which in turn might be seen as disrespectful. However, I think Yuka’s fellow members need to have a certain level of respect for how impressive it is to be a successful working mother. This might be my Western ideologies coming through, but I think they need to cut Yuka some slack. Stop hating on a woman who is making history and let her eat her cough drops in peace.

“Kumamoto Municipal Assembly kicks female member out for sucking on cough drop during session,” The Japan Times, 30 Sept. 2018, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/30/national/kumamoto-municipal-assembly-kicks-female-member-sucking-cough-drop-session/#.W7RYq5NKhQI


international-update-4.jpgEurope Article

Title: Charles Aznavour, the ‘Frank Sinatra of France’, dies aged 94

Source: The Guardian

What Happened?

Charles Aznavour passed away at the age of 94. He was a child actor who turned to music while living in occupied France during World War II.

He performed with greats like Sinatra, Elton John, Celine Dion, Sting, and Liza Minnelli, but it seems as if he might have been the actual “great” out of the bunch. The man sold more than 100 million records in 80 different countries and recorded over 1,400 songs. 1,300 of the songs were written by him.

His biggest hit in English was the song, “She” which originally took off in the UK when it was first released in 1974. It had a resurgence in 1999 when the song was on the Notting Hill soundtrack.

Why Should We Care?

I was drawn to this article because of its title. Anyone that can be put on the same pedestal as Sinatra has my respect right off the bat. But, after finding out Charles Aznavour was the writer of “She,” things shifted for me.

I was 16 the first time I heard “She.” I was obsessed with an Irish singing group called Celtic Thunder and they covered a lot of crooner music. I went to their concert for my 16th birthday, and this was one of the songs they performed. I didn’t know who wrote the song, but I remember being compelled by it all the same.

I’ve always loved older music. Anything from the 1930s to about the 1980s will probably be on my playlist before anything super current. So, once I discovered exactly who this singer was I knew I needed to write about it.

When I first found the article, the news of Charles Aznavour’s death had just been released. The article consisted of about three paragraphs ending with the sentence, “More details to come.” When I came back to it the evening of October 1st, I was amazed by this man’s creative life and wondered why I had never heard his name until now.

Charles Aznavour was the trifecta. He was a writer, a musician, and an actor. He was an advocate, he was avant garde, and he was loved by his fellow French and the world.

I take off my proverbial hat to anyone that can touch the souls of millions with any kind of art. Charles Aznavour did it in more than one way, more than one language, and deserves a moment of silence from all of us. Rest in peace, Mr. Aznavour and thank you for touching the world with your creative ingenuity.

Beaumont-Thomas, Ben and Kim Willsher. “Charles Aznavour, the ‘Frank Sinatra of France’, dies aged 94,” The Guardian, 01 Oct. 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/01/charles-aznavour-french-singer-dies-aged-94?CMP=share_btn_link


International Update 6Oceania Article

Title: Rare Tree Kangaroo in New Guinea Was Just Seen For the First Time in 90 Years

Source: Mental Floss

What Happened?

A Wondiwoi tree kangaroo was spotted in West Papua, New Guinea by amateur botanist, Michael Smith, who managed to snap a picture of the animal.

The tree kangaroo hasn’t been seen in person since 1928, when biologist Ernst Mayr reported seeing the animal.  This means the two sightings were ninety years apart.

Because of poaching and deforestation, scientists fear that the animal will be extinct in the next few years.

Why Should We Care?

In one of my more recent International Updates I went on a rant about how I couldn’t find any happy news about Oceania. I’m glad to say that one of my favorite news outlets, Mental Floss, officially broke my streak of depressing news coming from the cluster of islands known as Oceania. Well, the streak was technically broken by the Smithsonian but I’m giving Mental Floss full credit for notifying me of this adorable scientific discovery.

It’s all thanks to the sighting of a tree kangaroo. Have you ever seen a picture of a tree kangaroo? I can pretty much guarantee that you haven’t. You want to know why? Because the last time anyone has seen one in person was back in 1928. That’s ninety years, people. Scientists literally thought this species had disappeared, but the recent sighting has proven that the animal is still kicking and is as cute as ever.

There’s something clumsy and quirky about this animal that makes you fall in love with it instantly. Don’t believe me? Check out the pictures here. It’s heartbreaking to think the animal might be gone sooner rather than later, but I want to take this moment and appreciate the fact that we have photographic evidence this wacky kangaroo still exists.

Petsko, Emily. “Rare Tree Kangaroo in New Guinea Was Just Seen For the First Time in 90 Years,” Mental Floss, 01 Oct. 2018, http://mentalfloss.com/article/558584/rare-tree-kangaroo-new-guinea-was-just-seen-first-time-90-years

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