In case, you missed this event, I have left a link to the video: https://youtu.be/f9W6Zrj7fb4
Yesterday I attended the Centenary Celebration of Nelson Mandela which was hosted by South Africa Partners at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston. Max Sisulu, the former Speaker in South Africa's National Assembly spoke at this event with his wife Elinor Sisulu. This event reflected on the legacy of Nelson Mandela and discussed current issues facing South Africa. One important component of this event covered the importance of making sure young people remain engaged in politics. Elinor stressed the importance of making sure young people read and stay engaged in current events. Due to the rise in social media, historians and political leaders must utilize visual methods to generate activism and share political movements to youth. Social media can propel political movements--the creation of short films, documentaries, and videos could easily become a new medium to inform others about social and political issues.
In case, you missed this event, I have left a link to the video: https://youtu.be/f9W6Zrj7fb4
Congress passed the Immigrant Act of 1990, which established the creation of the green card lottery or Diversity Immigrant Visa (DIV). Each year, the United States distributes 50,000 immigrant visas annually and aims to diversify the immigrant population by selecting applicants from countries with low numbers of immigrants in the previous five years. Last year 20 million people applied for the DIV program. The application period for this program starts in October and concludes in November. Here is the link to the online application: https://www.dvlottery.state.gov
To enter the lottery, applicants must have been born in an eligible country. As of 2017 people born in the following countries are not able to apply for DIV: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom and its dependent territories (except Northern Ireland), and Vietnam.
If an applicant is selected for DIV, they must have completed at least a high school education or at least two years of work experience in an occupation which requires at least two other years of training or experience. The DIV program allows immigrants to legally relocate to the United States without a job or family. This program has opened opportunities for countless individuals. Undermining or eliminating this program would have a detrimental impact on recruiting a diverse pool of immigrants to the United States.
Today marks World Press Freedom Day by the United Nations. The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom. Reporters Without Borders published this map detailing which countries have done an excellent job when it comes to media independence, transparency, and self-censorship. According to this study, the United States is ranked #45 and the United Kingdom is ranked #40.
In case you were wondering the top three countries in this study include: Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Here is the link to the full study: https://rsf.org/en/ranking/2018
A really fascinating study published by the Inter-Parliamentary Union sheds light on the proportion of women serving in national parliaments across the world. The data from this study reveals some surprising statistics--Rwanda has the highest proportion of women serving in national government compared to any other country. In case you were wondering, the United States is ranked #102, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan scored higher in this area. In order to promote gender equality in government, many countries have imposed Gender Quotas, which require political parties to set aside a certain number of seats for female representatives. South Africa has successfully become a leader on this issue since over 40% of MP's are female. Other countries that have similar Gender Quotas include: Norway, Sweden, Australia, and Canada.
See link for additional information: http://archive.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm#1
This cool map illustrates where Americans can travel without a visa. As of February 2018, holders of U.S. passports can travel to 176 countries without a visa or visa on arrival. According to the Henley & Partners passport index, the U.S. passport is the 5th most powerful passport when it comes to freedom of movement across the globe. The United States is tied with Canada, Ireland, and Switzerland. In case you were wondering, Japan and Singapore have the most powerful passports. Citizens in those countries are able to visit 180 countries without a visa.
Last February I received my Global Entry card from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection center at JFK Airport in New York City. I highly recommend signing up for Global Entry if you are a U.S. passport holder because it saves you a lot of time whenever you arrive in the United States after an international flight. Here is the link to the Global Entry website.
The South African Department of Home Affairs has announced that they will be implementing a new eVisa program for immigrants and tourists beginning in March 2019. Many countries across the world including Turkey and India operate an eVisa program. The current visa system in South Africa has become riddled with bureaucratic and complex hurdles. In 2009 the British government decided to require that all South African citizens apply for a UK visa before entering the country (even if they were in transit at an airport). The British government made this decision due to corruption within the Department of Home Affairs. In addition, this department has been criticized for its inefficiency, particularly in regard to processing documents. The Democratic Alliance, which is the official opposition party in South Africa supports the rollout of an eVisa program in order to streamline the current visa and immigration process into South Africa.
In January 2017 the South African government retaliated against New Zealand by imposing additional visa restrictions against their citizens. The South African government claims that it's moving toward a reciprocal visa system.
I know it's been a while since I've last contributed -- but here I am again! Over the past few months I have been paying close attention to the issue of South Africa's brain drain. This map published by the Code For South Africa Data Journalism Academy illustrates where South Africans are moving to. The top recipients of skilled South Africans according to this study include the: United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Aside from those countries, it's also important to note that many skilled South Africans are moving to the United States and New Zealand. Although data from this map is from 2015, it sheds light on a critical issue the South African government must face.
Last February Cyril Ramaphosa became South Africa's 5th President. His administration faces many critical challenges such as tackling the nation's high unemployment, handling the high influx of Zimbabwean refugees, violent crime, and reversing the ongoing brain drain. Instead of discussing land reform, the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters must examine what "they" can do to prevent more young and talented South Africans from leaving their country.
A revised version of my book entitled “My Fight for Humanity: Advocating for Justice, Equality, and Human Dignity” is now available on Amazon. I want to send a special thanks to all my readers! I discovered a few typos, and rectified a few other issues. Enjoy reading this new and improved version!
My new book is available for purchase on Amazon.
Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1505895626?redirect=true&ref_=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0
My new book will be available on Amazon August 3, 2015. More information pertaining to my new book will unfold in the coming weeks.
Nearly seven years ago the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a landmark decision paving the way for same-sex marriage. When I was seventeen years old I realized that miracles happen and dreams come true. As I watch the United States Supreme Court issue this profound ruling – I think back to the time Connecticut and Massachusetts started this social movement.
This victory is attributed to progressive activists who transferred the passion from the streets to courtrooms across this country. This day reaffirms why justice will always prevail. I join progressives, liberals, and socialists by applauding this historic ruling.
Although this decision marks a major step towards equality, more work must be done. I look forward to working with progressives to help advance the interests of the LGBT community during this critical time.
My first book entitled “My Fight for Humanity: Advocating for Justice, Equality, and Human Dignity” will be released on August 4, 2015. You can purchase my book on Amazon.com or wherever Kindle Books are sold.
Shortly after the Connecticut Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Gabriel Filer heard an unexpected call to enter politics. At the age of seventeen he successfully fought back attempts to outlaw same-sex marriage in the Connecticut Constitution. A month after surviving the toughest political earthquake he contacts over sixty lawmakers and organizations, and begins advocating for gay rights nationwide.
In 2009 Gabriel teamed with North Carolina State Senator Julia Boseman to help pass the School Violence Prevention Act. This provision protects LGBT students from being bullied in North Carolina public schools. On June 30, 2009 North Carolina became the ninth state to enact a comprehensive anti-bullying law. Two days before Gabriel’s high school graduation he managed to make history by breaking a forty year legislative impasse. The School Violence Prevention Act caused ten states to reexamine the way they address discrimination in public schools.
Just when Gabriel was finally ready to leave politics, he heard another unexpected call to help others. This time he was needed to help pass marriage equality in Washington state. During the 2012 campaign, he meets prominent leaders in Seattle’s gay community and works with friends to help fundraise a grassroots campaign. By the end of 2012 Gabriel has helped secure same-sex marriage victories on both coasts.
Since graduating from college he continues to champion for the rights of gays and lesbians across the world. His dedication to improving public policy is reflected throughout this book. His early accomplishments and determination eventually propel marriage equality to the United States Supreme Court.
Last week New Zealand voters re-elected the ruling National Party by a significant margin. The right-leaning National Party picked up 61 seats which is their best performance in nearly twenty-five years.
This election marks the first time since 1996 that a single political party has claimed an outright majority of seats in Parliament. In the coming weeks, Prime Minister John Key is going to announce the composition of his new cabinet.
The Greens and Labour Party both experienced declines during this election. This is the fourth consecutive federal election in which Labour lost seats in Parliament. Many political experts believe that Labour needs new leadership. David Cunliffe who currently leads the opposition has never had high approval ratings. Labour should replace their current opposition leader with someone who can engage progressives, environmentalists, women, and young voters. In addition, Labour needs to use this election defeat as an opportunity to restructure their leadership in Parliament.
Below is a map which details which precincts were won by Labour (red) and National Party (blue).
The Global Gender Gap Report is an annual study compiled by the World Economic Forum. This report includes 130 countries (which represents over 93% of the world’s population). It uses a series of economic, political, and social criteria to assess a nation’s ability to provide equal opportunities to both men and women. The four areas of focus in this report are economic opportunity, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. According the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report New Zealand ranked sixth.
This blog started as a place to dump my thoughts as I tried to wade through the complexity of this world. It also serves as a platform to put my ideas out into the ethers.