rolade's blog

Are young people disrespectful?

Today, at our local supermarket a youth was disappointed that his restpectfulness didn't yield a positive result. He thought the elderly didn’t sympathise with and understand him; "likewise, the latter expressed irritability that the former dared to ask to jump the queue. Was it intergenerational gap? There are differences between younger and older people due to rapid cultural and technological changes that affect values, behaviours and choice of communication style, food, music, clothes, etc.

Intergenerational gap impacts on personal, social and professional spheres: children – parents/grandparents, employee – employers/bosses, teachers/professors – students, service/good providers – clients/customers, etc. It can cause problems at home, misunderstanding at work, failure at school, etc. This gap is even wider when it involves immigrant and refugee families. For example, stereotypes of coloured-skin youth in a predominantly white neighborhood may lead to insecurity and fear among elderly, particularly when the media and entertainment subjectively condemn these young people for crime and deviance. Similarly, policing strategy that includes identifying young people at risk and their environments can have negative labelling effects. Older generation law enforcement officers may target loud young people – labelled as “nuisance” – hanging out in poor areas populated by immigrants.

Crime within the EU countries

Crime and deviance have been analysed using sociological theories and concepts, such a labelling (societal reaction creates a deviant), social control (easier to commit a crime when there’s no social control or restraint) , anomie (confusion in norms — with changes in the society, rules become less binding), culture conflict (members of one group violate the mores and values of another group) and social class (there are unsatisfied needs due to low educational attainment and income whilst satisfied needs are carelessly displayed).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has disclosed that the rate of homicide (intentional killing of an individual – murder, manslaughter, infanticide and euthanasia) per 100,000 inhabitants was 1.2 in West and Central Europe, 1.5 in Southern Europe, and 7 in East Europe in 2010. Overall, Europe’s rate was 3.5 –which was lower than that of North America (4.7) and Africa (17.4), but slightly higher than that of Asia (3.1).

The latest Eurostat publication has revealed an estimated 29 million crimes recorded by the police within the EU in 2008. The EU prison population rose by 1.2% per year from 1998 to 2008 – about 124 prisoners per 100,000 members of the total population. The Baltic member nations (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland had the highest population of over 200 prisoners/100,000 inhabitants whereas the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), Slovenia and Ireland had less than 75 prisoners/100,000 inhabitants.

Preventing Crime and Deviance

I hope you had a relaxing, festive season and have started the year 2012 with optimism. I spent the whole week between Christmas and New Year ringing friends and relatives in Oceania and Europe. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to speak with my ex-university classmate because her phone was busy all the time. Later, I found out that she was on holiday overseas and disconnected her phone as a burglary-prevention technique.

Crime is a costly societal problem in terms of: administration of the legal and justice system; costs associated to injuries to victims; and negative consequences on offenders (unemployment, psychiatric) and their families (distress and isolation). In Australia, those who cannot afford legal representation receive legal aid. It costs from $20,000 to $100,000 per year to imprison a person in a developed country – taxpayers’ burden! The sufferings of victims and their loved ones don’t have monetary equivalents.

The Debt Crisis and Its Impact on the Festive Season

A country’s debt includes public (also known as government or national), financial (business & investment) and household borrowings from internal (domestic) and/or external (foreign) sources. According to the European Commission’s Eurostat, the government debt/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of 27 EU members was 80% in 2010 (Greece 142.8% at the top and Estonia 6.6% at the bottom of the list); and is forecast at 89% in 2012.

Eurostat 2008 survey found that 1 person in 20 lived in a household with arrears (consumption loans, home/car/appliance repayment and bank overdrafts) which means they spent more than their monthly disposable income. The economic crisis had just started and its impact wasn’t that evident yet during this period, so today it’s more likely to have quadrupled.

In France, 1.3% (900,000) of its population has excessive debt; and 220,000 have filed for bankruptcy. In the UK, 331 people every day become insolvent (J Davies, Creditaction, viewed 7/12/11). Based on census data, USA had a consumer debt of nearly $2.4 trillion, and 1 in every 160 people was bankrupt in 2010.

... more on roladesocietalblog.com

Victims, Perpetrators and the Criminal Justice System

While collecting and analysing data for my website's (roladesocietalblog.com) article, I came across a story of a young man who was murdered because he's a son of a police officer. Seven of the 10 perpetrators were released because the court wasn't sure who really did it. The 3 most violent ones were kept for a while but then 2 of them got away because the other one admitted, who hadn't really received the 'appropriate' punishment. What's "appropriate" considering that a life was lost due to stabbing, punching, etc.? that such violence has caused permanent sorrow to parents, relatives and friends? that it seems the CJS has worked in favour of the criminals than the victim? Please visit http://www.pacte2012.fr/video.html

This video is in French but even if you don't understand it, you'll feel the sadness and disappointment and never see the judges and laws the same as before.

APL: politique injuste et non-équitable?

A cette période de l'année, nombreuses sont les familles, même avec un revenu stable, qui ont du mal à joindre les deux bouts: impôts, frais de scolarité, factures impayées (et Noël approche)...

Les revenus stagnent, le coût de la vie augmente. les familles coupent dans leurs dépenses et tentent de trouver des revenus supplémentaires. Nos étudiants économisent sur la nourriture, les vêtements et le logement, et cherchent l'aide/subvention gouvernementale.

Je ne comprends pas pourquoi, en France, les étudiants dans l'enseignement supérieur peuvent recevoir une aide pour le loyer (incluant des citoyens non-français), alors que les citoyens français qui étudient à l'étranger n'y ont pas droit. Il est injuste que tous les étudiants français dont les parents vivent et paient les impôts en France ne soient pas à égalité.

Inequities in Government assistance to tertiary students

It's this time of the year when many people, even those with stable income, have difficulty making ends meet: taxes, school fees, mortgage and unpaid bills (as well, Christmas is coming). Because of these, in addition to stagnant income and rising cost of living, families try to cut their expenses and find extra revenue. Our students economise on food, clothes and accommodation, and seek Government assistance/subsidy.

Did you know that tertiary students in France (including non-French citizens) from low-income families are eligible for rent assistance; whereas, French citizens who study abroad regardless of their financial situation cannot avail of this needed help? Don't you find it unjust that French students whose parents live and pay taxes in France don't get the same benefit as other citizens? Are all overseas students in France receiving Government/taxpayers' assistance really from poor households? (They are not all meritorious scholars from developing nations).

Connecting politics, economy and individual responsibility

I'm watching the French news right now and it has just been announced that there's going to be a debate between 2 Socialist candidates afterwards. I used to enjoy political debates but tonight I'm going to opt out because I believe there'll be nothing new. Elections are important and I actually wanted to write a blog about it but since most of what I would like to say are already included in my other article (roladesocietalblog.com), I decided to copy it here.

"In my work, I encounter people of many different nationalities. Some of them moved to Luxembourg because they no longer felt a part of their country's economic life, especially with politicians and bankers putting their personal needs at the forefront to the expense of middle and working classes. They couldn't stand the cuttings of government expenditures (especially in health and education that contribute to the country's deteriorating living standards), introduction of more taxes, prolongation of retirement age and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. Whose faults are these? Are the culprits the same as in year 2008? Who and what else are responsible for the shrinking of the middle & working classes and bloating of the underclass?

A lot of wisdom, friendship and kindness out there

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you believe in the power of wisdom, that friendship ceases when sharing ends or the greatest joy comes from helping others.

For quite a while I debated on whether or not to have a website; finally, I did it last weekend. Being a web debutante and not so gifted electronically, my new site is simple and basic. Nevertheless, my friends – who are already battling with their home and professional duties, promptly visited roladesocietalblog.com and offered me words of wisdom to make it a success.

Sachie and Raynald, amid their hectic schedule managing projects and finishing a book, perused my website with diligence and emailed me information on how to protect my folder and improve the homepage.

Friends from Down Under were so generous with their words of congratulations. One of them suggested I should limit the use of gifted because it is a confusing word. A friend, who’s a caring and devoted father and husband, dedicated teacher and talented artist, has posted a page of comment. Another friend, who has successfully made his way in the global finance operating from Singapore, emailed me his pragmatic views on intelligence, career, parenting, sports and happiness. Whereas, a French acquaintance managed to review it during her rare brief breaks from a demanding job and busy husband and 2 active daughters. She writes, “I have just read your website and I find it very interesting (I have read it in English first, then the translation, then both together, pieces to pieces)."

I’m so touched by my friends’ and acquaintances’ generosity - an act that shows we can have a more caring society and ‘global village mentality’ rather than individualism and materialism.

Food For Thought!

For a long time, I debated on the pros and cons of having a website, and this week I succumbed to the temptation and finally finished it last night

roladesocietalblog.com

My brother-in-law in Australia has just asked me if it's a good time to refinance his loan considering that the global economy is really in a bad shape and interest rate is low. My immediate advice was yes because the European Union is bailing out Greece and the Euro Zone will soon climb back, as in the USA. After I had hung up, I wondered "Are very intelligent people more able to deal with the financial crisis?", a question that became the title of my debut article.

Two weeks ago, my 9.5yo son started junior high while many European pupils resumed schools. According to available statistics, about 2% of high school students are intellectually gifted, and I believe the majority of them are starting university this year (e.g. September in France and October in England). Parenting is not a piece of cake, especially when you're combining it with a paid employment or it involves very intelligent children - why? I discuss this issue in my second article.

For a while now, Italian media materials are saturated with money and sex involving its top politician. Recently, the interview with ex-IMF head attracted most TV viewers in France. Every day, we're informed of our decision makers' failure to uphold society's moral values, so my next article will be on government and leadership.

roladesocietalblog.com is my first website and I rely on your comments to improve it.

Thank you.
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M goi.
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Grazie ...

Inspiring Our Young People and Students

Last month, I made a surprise visit to my high school Alma Mater and since my former teachers were so delighted to see me and they were having a Nutrition Week assembly, I was asked to give a speech. One good thing about an unprepared speech is that you speak from the heart of issues that you strongly believe in; and for me, these are hard work, honesty, generosity and simplicity. Coincidentally, two days ago, there was a Writer's Digest weekly writing prompt on being an inspirational keynote speaker in a graduation ceremony. I participated focusing on the same issues and here's my entry:

When I was 16 years old like most of you and wearing that same uniform, my Dad announced I got a scholarship. I had a mixed feeling: happy because I could go to college but sad to leave my family and friends. As a condition of the scholarship, I had to do a degree I hadn’t heard of in a province where I didn’t speak the local dialect. I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you if I refused that scholarship. Having no regular income, my parents asked help from their relatives for our traveling expenses. Dad didn’t have money to stay even just for a night, so he left me with less than a dollar until my stipend arrived a fortnight’s later. I survived through the generosity of other students.

Cream of the crop received medals and netbooks

I was at Sorbonne University yesterday because our son was one of the recipients of the Concours Général presided by France's Minister of Education, Mr. Luc Chatel. I'm not a stranger to awarding ceremonies but this one is really awesome: the prestige and history attached to this public recognition of excellence that goes back in 1747 with a list that includes Louis Pasteur, Victor Hugo and Georges Pompidou; the grandeur of Sorbonne with words of wisdom engraved on the walls and beautiful chandeliers on high ceilings of its amphitheater; the exclusiveness of the occasion allowing only 2 family members, 1 teacher & school principal of each laureate; engraved medals and netbooks as prizes; and cocktail, etc.

E coli Infections

Escherichia (E) Coli Infections.

Every Saturday there’s a fruit and vegetable market a few steps away from our downtown apartment in the north of France. For a fortnight now, I’ve been spending more time inquiring about the origin of tomatoes, bean sprouts & cucumbers than actually buying them. To date, 33 people in Europe have died of E coli infections - the majority of them were Germans. Since we live less than an hour drive from Germany, we don’t take risks – we peel fruits & vegetables and wash hands before eating. Apart from this apparently preventative measure, Governments and the media haven’t disclosed explanatory and reassuring information.

E coli bacterium grows in soil and intestines of mammals, including those of human beings. Most E coli strains are not harmful: in fact, some of them help the body to digest nutrients and food. Some of them, however, cause infections and poisoning, such as those reported in Europe, especially in Germany (what a coincidence - Escherichia Coli is named after its discoverer Theodor Escherich, a German pediatrician and bacteriologist in the late 1880s). The implications of this health crisis are enormous (e.g. 6 Million Euros per week is lost in France due to decline in the consumption of tomatoes and cucumbers – according to Radio 106.8 FM this morning), and so it’s not surprising that Russia and Germany are having a summit today to discuss import ban and related business issues.

According to tonight’s news reports, the source of these infections were sprouted grains, however, it’s not known how they were contaminated with E coli bacteria. There are research studies on E coli that have global importance. For instance, Dr. Cobbold, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Public Health at the School of Veterinary Science (University of Queensland, Australia), and his team are involved in a project that endeavours to develop a vaccine for use in cattle that, hopefully, will reduce their colonisation with Shigatoxigenic E. Coli and diminish the potential for food-borne diseases to spread to humans. This project is still in relatively early stages; however, Dr. Cobbold has kindly shared with us this section of his presentation.

Constant in Societal Evolution

Our society has evolved and many things have changed: tribes have become nation states; our world has developed into a highly technological global village; pure capitalism has gone out of vogue while social entrepreneurship and green market have become buzz words; a more democratic system of government has replaced oligarchy and dictatorship in several countries, etc. There is no doubt that our society is more sophisticated and advanced than ever before.

Innovative developments are evident in business, economics, communications, sports, health services, welfare system, transportation, housing and education. There are hundreds of issues that can be written about on each of these subjects; however, since we’re nearing the end of the school year, I would like to share with you my views on education. Amid progress in pedagogies and policies, the mandatory high school final examinations have remained unchanged in many countries. As in the beginning of the1800s, today’s examinations are used as filters. Good results are required for entrance to tertiary education, access other professional qualifications, obtain a certified training and get a paid job. These examinations are so common and part of our society that their short-, medium- and long-term effects are often neglected in public debate.

Aging: First-Third World Connection

She sends money to her aging father in the Philippines every month especially to compensate for her absence. She’s one of the many immigrants in developed countries who financially contribute to the well-being of elderly parents and relatives.

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