TIME Economy

More U.S. Children Live In Poverty Now Than During the Recession

US-CALIFORNIA-POVERTY-HOMELESS
MARK RALSTON--AFP/Getty Images Three year old Saria Amaya (L) waits with her mother after receiving shoes and school supplies during a charity event to help more than 4,000 underprivileged children at the Fred Jordan Mission in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles on October 2, 2014.

African-American, American Indian and Latino children are particularly hard hit

In mid-September 2010, almost exactly two years to the date since the monumental collapse of Lehman Brothers, the New York Times published a bleak statistic: the ongoing Great Recession had driven the U.S. poverty rates to their highest in a decade and a half.

Five years of fitful economic recovery have not yet bettered this situation. According to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than one in five American children, about 22%, were living in poverty in 2013. Data for 2014 are not yet available, but the report anticipates that the child poverty rate remains at an “unacceptably high [level].”

The figure for 2008 was 18%.

General terms are insufficient when explaining the economy’s post-recession rebound. There are a number of conflicting statistics — the fall in unemployment versus the rise in poverty, for instance — but even efforts to compare and assess these inconsistencies do not successfully capture the nuances at hand, most of which are dictated by demographic cleavages built on racial lines.

Noting only a “few exceptions,” the report states that “on nearly all of the measures that [it] track[s], African-American, American Indian and Latino children continued to experience negative outcomes at rates that were higher than the national average. Overall unemployment rates have fallen, but the unemployment rate for African-Americans is currently 11 percent — 2.4 percentage points higher than where it was prior to the economic crisis. Nearly 40 percent of African-American children live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of white children.

“The fact that it’s happening is disturbing on lots of levels,” Laura Speer, the Casey Foundation’s associate director for policy reform, told USA Today. “Those kids often don’t have access to the things they need to thrive.”

The Casey Foundation is a philanthropic group that seeks to enable underprivileged children to overcome hardships in pursuit of a brighter future. The foundation is based in Baltimore, a city where systematic inequities contributed in part to a series of protests and demonstrations this past spring.

Read next: Why America is Falling Behind the Rest of the World

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TIME Veterans

Mitsubishi Apologizes for Using U.S. Prisoners as Slaves During World War II

It is the first private Japanese firm to make amends for wartime abuses

Executives of the Japanese firm Mitsubishi Materials issued a formal apology on Sunday to the American soldiers who were forced to work in the company’s mines while prisoners during World War II.

“Working conditions were extremely harsh and the POWs were subjected to severe hardship,” senior executive Hikaru Kimura said, speaking at a ceremony at Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance. “As the company that succeeded Mitsubishi Mining, we cannot help feeling a deep sense of ethical responsibility for this past tragedy.”

James Murphy, a 94-year-old veteran who stands among the few prisoners of war still living, openly expressed his appreciation after meeting with company representatives.

“For 70 years since the war ended, the prisoners of war who worked for these Japanese companies have asked for something very simple, they asked for an apology,” he said.

Murphy was one of the nearly 900 American soldiers imprisoned during the war at camps linked to Mitsubishi’s copper mines. The conditions, he told the Associated Press, were “slavery in every way.”

Mitsubishi’s apology comes three and a half weeks shy of the seventieth anniversary of Japan’s surrender, which confirmed the Allies’ victory in the war. In the years since, the Japanese government has mostly been diligent about making amends for its actions during and prior to the conflict, though this is the first time a private firm involved in the war effort has made a public apology. Nevertheless, residual tensions continue to sometimes strain Japan’s contemporary diplomatic efforts. A recent editorial by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a state-controlled press operation, looked to the iciness of Sino-Japanese relations and opined that “tensions can only be diffused when Japan, with honesty and sincerity, recognizes its ignominious past and, together with its Asian neighbors, promotes regional peace and development.”

TIME Iran

Does This Application Form Mean That McDonald’s Is Going to Open in Iran?

A screenshot of a page on the McDonald's website taken on July 17, 2015 shows a franchise application form for Iran

Nothing's official yet, but fast-food history could repeat itself

Despite the misgivings of a Republican majority and the Israel lobby’s tendentious muscle, Congress will probably pass the Iran nuclear deal. The agreement is a litany of compromises, the most dramatic of which being the decision to lift the U.S. sanctions that have left the Iranian economy to wither. In a matter of years — possibly even months — the country could be in for a massive influx of foreign investment.

If history is a reliable metric, then maybe we should expect to see the Golden Arches rise above Tehran sometime in the near-ish future. The Quarter Pounder is, after all, the American olive branch: in 1990, as the Western war against communism waned, McDonald’s opened its first franchises in Russia and then China, eager to spread the good news of deep-fried capitalism with the second world. Both countries had essentially closed themselves off to the various indulgences of the West, and so when thousands of Russians lined up around Moscow’s Pushkin Square on the restaurant’s opening day, they did so not for french fries and Big Macs but for “a piece of America,” as John Stanton, a professor of food marketing, told the BBC. There was a market for Western decadence, and McDonald’s filled the demand.

Same goes with Iran, where The Simpsons was deemed a national threat and bootleg DVDs sell like hotcakes. When authorities announced the deal earlier this week, Iranian Twitter blew up with enthusiasm about the West setting up shop in the country.

“Goodbye, falafel; hello, McDonald’s,” one young woman tweeted in Farsi.

The official word is that the restaurant chain has no concrete plans to open any restaurants in the country. This makes sense, of course, given that the timeline for lifting the sanctions is contingent upon Iran’s cooperation with the nuclear agreement at large. Nevertheless, the company’s website has an application available for those interested in setting up a franchise when the time comes.

In the meantime, those in Tehran will have to settle for Mash Donald’s, a cheap facsimile that happily gives the middle finger to the notion of copyright law. But even when the real thing arrives, the fake may not go anywhere. Consider Obama Fried Chicken, China’s ersatz and horribly racist KFC knockoff that managed to turn a profit, even though the authentic Kentucky Fried is the country’s largest restaurant chain.

TIME China

China Has Cremated the Body of the Prominent Tibetan Monk Who Died in Prison

India Tenzin Delek Reax
Ashwini Bhatia—AP Exiled Tibetans carry placards as they participate in a candlelit vigil to remember Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, on July 13, 2015

Chinese authorities continued to decline to offer a cause of death

Four days after Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in prison, Chinese authorities cremated the celebrated Tibetan monk’s body, ignoring both the pleas of his family and formal requests from foreign delegations to return his remains to Tibet.

According to Channel NewsAsia Singapore, the monk’s sister, who witnessed the cremation, reported that his “mouth and fingernails were black” and that Chinese authorities continued to decline to offer a cause of death.

Tenzin Delek died on Sunday under unclear circumstances after 12 and a half years interned in China, where he had been controversially convicted of violent crimes against the central government. Beyond Beijing’s official reports, no law-enforcement apparatus has provided evidence that the monk was involved in hostile politics.

After his death over the weekend, outraged supporters — including actor Richard Gere — decried China and demanded that officials return the body to Tibet. Both the U.S. Department of State and the U.K. Foreign Office issued statements expressing condolences, tersely referring to China’s prior refusal to cooperate with release negotiations.

TIME Race

A New Satirical Ad Goes Viral With a Controversial Jab at White Privilege

It was released by "Look Different," an MTV campaign that seeks to undermine prejudice

“Are you tired of systemic prejudice?” a new television commercial asks. The ad offers a solution: White Squad, a “professional white-advantage service.” If you’re, say, a black American, or an American of Arabic descent, and need to hail a cab, or appear in front of a judge, or get through airport security without a lengthy pat-down by a suspicious TSA agent, the company will send a preppy, peppy white representative to stand in as your proxy. After all, white people enjoy a systemic benefit of the doubt that allows them to pass through life relatively hassle-free. It’s called white privilege, and White Squad is here to help even the playing field.

The commercial is a work of satire, as you may have suspected.

A year ago, MTV launched “Look Different,” an online and on-air campaign to expose, elucidate and eradicate the insidious prejudices that can escape the glow of the radar when there are more glaring examples of bigotry at hand. The campaign loaded the faux advertisement to YouTube on Wednesday evening. The con goes deep — there’s an accompanying website, which is meticulously well-done — but click around a bit and you’ll find yourself at a portal page to the Look Different site, which offers a series of essays, data sets, and interactive features to explain the realities compelling the satire.

The video’s thesis echoes the point Louis C.K. was trying to make in that one tongue-in-cheek bit from “Chewed Up,” the 2008 standup special that propelled him to stardom. “I’m not saying white people are better,” he panned. “I’m saying being white is clearly better. Who could even argue with that?” In short, the argument goes, acknowledging the inequities of white privilege is not the same as endorsing them; on the contrary, frankly discussing these imbalances is the first step in diffusing them.

The problem with good satire is that the line between it and reality is often precariously thin. After the video went up on Wednesday night, a number of online commentators grimly noted that their first instinct was that White Squad was a real firm. Many who saw it as a joke took issue with its apparent glibness and levity — “It kind of came off as though it was making fun of the issue,” one person wrote, “as opposed to actually putting it in a way that says this needs to stop.”

 

TIME ESPYs

Caitlyn Jenner at the ESPY Awards: ‘It’s About What Happens From Here’

It was her first major public appearance since coming out as transgender earlier this year

In her first major public appearance since coming out as transgender earlier this year, Caitlyn Jenner stood before a standing ovation at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday night to receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

“I’ve never felt more pressure than I have in the last few months. As you just saw, I dealt with my situation in private—and that turned this journey into an incredible education,” she said. “This transition has been harder on me than anything I could ever imagine, and that’s the case for so many like me.”

The Arthur Ashe Award goes to individuals whose bravery “transcends sports,” a distinction previously bestowed upon Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and Nelson Mandela. Abby Wambach, the American Olympic soccer player, introduced the presentation, which began with a video documenting a four-decade career marked by public triumph and private struggle.

It has been a long and winding road for Jenner, whom the American public knew for decades as Bruce, the Olympic superstar who won gold and broke world records at the 1976 games in Montreal. Amid the geopolitical insecurities of the Cold War, America found in its athletes — primarily its male athletes — a bulwark to the national psyche, and Jenner, as Buzz Bissinger wrote in Vanity Fair‘s July cover story, was “a symbol of masculinity as interwoven into American culture as the Marlboro Man.” It was exactly two hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and Jenner, Bissinger wrote, “was America.” Jenner made it onto the Wheaties box, that distinctly American totem of athletic triumph. Jenner married a beauty queen, and had two kids with her — adding to the two Jenner had with first wife Chrystie Crownover; Jenner would have two more with Kris Kardashian.

And Jenner had a secret. The secret was that Bruce Jenner wasn’t Bruce Jenner, or at least not the Bruce Jenner known to the adoring masses. Bruce Jenner was a woman, a truth disclosed only to a trusted few until Jenner’s now-seminal 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer three months ago. To those who’d watched Jenner astound the world in Montreal, the athlete was still the Olympic hero; to that generation’s children, Jenner was still Bruce, the quirky paternal figure on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

“I’ve been thinking about this day forever,” she said in April to Sawyer and the 20 million people watching at home. “And what I should do with my life, how do I tell my story, how I tell people what I’ve been through. And that day is today. I need the tissues. It’s gonna be kinda tough, but today is the day. Be honest with myself.”

Onstage Wednesday night, she thanked her “buddy” Diane Sawyer, and also her children and her mother, her voice breaking with emotion.

“I always wanted my children to be so proud of their dad — for what he’d accomplished in his life.” “You guys have given me so much support, and I’m so, so grateful to have all of you in my life.”

A month after the 20/20 special, ESPN announced that it would give Jenner the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY Awards over the summer. The decision was controversial. A number of obstinate sports fans took to social media to say that Jenner wasn’t brave, or at least not brave enough to earn sports’ highest accolade for bravery, and that it should have gone to, say, a soldier who’d lost his legs in Iraq.

In the midst of the outcry, though, Jenner stood strong — a resolve she carried to the stage on Wednesday night. She used the speech as a rallying cry for the fair treatment of transgender youth.

“If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is I can take it,” she said. “But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with the truth of who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”

“For the people out there wondering what this is all about — whether it’s about courage or controversy or publicity — it’s about what happens from here,” she continued. “It’s not about just one person… it’s not just about me, it’s about all of us, accepting one another. We’re all different. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing.”

TIME Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Is Proposing to Return a Select Number of Farms to White Landowners

Dup Muller, 59, a commercial farmer in Headlands,
AARON UFUMELI—AFP/Getty Images In this file photo from 2002, Dup Muller, 59, a commercial farmer in Headlands, 110 kilometers, (70 miles) East of Harare, stands in the burned out ruins of his farm house, which was attacked by war veterans enforcing a government order for whites to leave their farms.

The decision comes 15 years after the state encouraged violent seizures of white-owned properties

A decade and a half after the Zimbabwean government seized large swaths of land from white farmers in the country, President Robert Mugabe has tentatively declared that he will return certain properties to their original owners.

Under the suggested policy, the leaders of the country’s 10 provinces will draft a list of farms in their respective districts that they deem to be “of strategic economic importance,” the Zimbabwe Mail reports. The government will also establish a European Union–backed commission to evaluate the landgrab practices commenced in 2000, which were frequently violent.

The property-seizure policy, which sent the country into economic crisis and left a number of civilian landowners dead, was both an exercise in kleptocracy and an attempt to wrest the country from its fraught colonial legacy. Many of the 4,000 white-owned farms taken by Mugabe’s government had been operated by the same families for decades — families that had come to the British colony of Rhodesia to make their fortunes in a system built on racial hierarchy.

At present, only 300 white farmers remain on their original properties; meanwhile, a number of the farms seized in the past 15 years have ceased operations, requiring Zimbabwe — the erstwhile “Breadbasket of Africa” — to import food to stave off a hunger crisis.

In spite of his government’s failure to sustain agricultural success on the reclaimed lands, Mugabe obstinately continues to defend his original decision.

“Don’t be too kind to white farmers,” Mugabe said at a recent meeting of the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front, the country’s ruling nationalist party, the Mail reports. “They can own industries and companies or stay in apartments in our towns, but they cannot own land. They must leave the land to blacks.”

TIME health

Hardly Any Women Regret Having an Abortion, a New Study Finds

The conclusion comes after a three-year research period involving nearly 670 women of all social backgrounds

Ninety-five percent of women who have had abortions do not regret the decision to terminate their pregnancies, according to a study published last week in the multidisciplinary academic journal PLOS ONE.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine, and from the university’s division of biostatistics.

Its conclusions come after a three-year research period in which nearly 670 women were regularly surveyed on the subject of their abortions. The sample group was diverse with regard to standard social metrics (race, education, and employment) and on the matter of what the study calls pregnancy and abortion circumstances. Financial considerations were given as the reasons for an abortion by 40 percent of women; 36 percent had decided it was “not the right time;” 26 percent of women found the decision very or somewhat easy; 53 percent found it very or somewhat difficult.

The authors of the study concluded that the “overwhelming majority” of the women participating in the study felt that abortion had been the right decision “both in the short-term and over three years.”

These results offer a statistical retort to the claim that women who have abortions suffer emotionally as a result, as anti-abortion campaigners claim. Previous studies cited in support of this claim, researchers said, “suffer from shortcomings, leaving the question of women’s post-abortion emotions unresolved.”

The new study is careful to avoid generalities. It discerns between having lingering emotions after an abortion and regretting the abortion altogether — two distinct responses that pro-lifers tend to conflate — and concludes that post-abortion emotional reactions are normal, but almost inevitably taper over time, and that ultimately, very few women altogether regret terminating their pregnancies.

“Certainly, experiencing feelings of guilt or regret in the short-term after an abortion is not a mental health problem; in fact, such emotions are a normal part of making a life decision that many women in this study found to be difficult,” the study reads. “Our results of declining emotional intensity… [find] steady or improving levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, stress, social support, stress, substance use, and symptoms of depression and anxiety over time post-abortion.”

TIME China

China Arrested More Than 100 Human-Rights Lawyers and Activists Over the Weekend

State media framed the move as a crackdown on a "major criminal gang"

Chinese law-enforcement officials detained more than a hundred lawyers and political activists over the weekend in what appears to be a state crackdown on amplifying public dissent in the country.

State media outlets have framed the mass arrests as an effort to “smash a major criminal gang” that had supposedly manipulated a Beijing law firm to “draw attention to sensitive cases, seriously disturbing social order,” the South China Morning Post reported on Monday morning local time.

One of the first lawyers arrested was Wang Yu, a prominent Beijing civil rights attorney. She went missing early Thursday morning after she returned home from dropping her family at the airport to find her electricity and wi-fi shut off.

“Everyone knows that they have detained Wang Yu because she is an outstanding example of … a human-rights lawyer in China,” attorney Chen Jianggang told Radio Free Asia.

Wang is an attorney at Beijing Fengrui law firm, which appears to be the focal target of the police. Also among the detained is Fengrui lawyer Zhou Shifeng, former counsel to the journalist Zhang Miao, who was imprisoned for nearly nine months after covering Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement for Die Zeit.

The Post reports that as of Monday morning, police had released 82 of the 106 detainees, though several attorneys were rearrested.

TIME China

Chinese Markets Continue to Recover, but Uncertainty Remains

China Stock Market
Pan Yulong—Xinhua Press/Corbis An investor walks at a securities firm in Shenyang, northeast China, on July 10, 2015.

Analysts are in disagreement about both the causes and implications of the surge

After nearly spending nearly a month in an unprecedented tumble, China’s stock markets enjoyed a second consecutive day on the rebound on Friday, at least temporarily assuaging fears of an impending economic crisis.

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 4.54 percent to sit at 3,877.8 points, its highest value in a week. By midday, sixty companies had resumed trading their shares in the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets, though 1,340 — 48% of the markets at large — remain voluntarily suspended.

“#ChinaStocks declines over? Joy time in the air,” China Xinhua News, state-owned media outlet, tweeted as the markets closed, accompanied by a photo of hot air balloons against a blue sky.

Still, the jury is out on what the end-of-week surge indicates — if it indicates anything at all. Those analysts who suggest the panic could be over are keen to cite Beijing’s interventions in the markets as the catalyst for the recovery; others are more reticent.

“Short and powerful rallies during bear markets are normal,” Tom Elliott, an international investment analyst at the financial consultancy deVere Group, told TIME on Thursday. “It was possibly triggered by government-encouraged buying by state-controlled companies, but in the absence of dramatic and substantial intervention by the authorities I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

State intervention, Elliott noted, may have in fact contributed to the market’s plummet over the past few weeks. The panic came only after three months of rampant growth, spurred by an epidemic of margin spending — essentially spending on a loan — that came to a screeching halt in June, when state regulators suddenly tightened policies on margin financing in June. Those Chinese investors who found themselves in dire straits had little choice but to sell their shares as a means of staying solvent.

In the weeks since, Beijing has desperately attempted to curb the sell-off it triggered, enacting a litany of interventionist measures ranging from cutting interest rates to banning major shareholders from disposing of their stocks.

“The Beijing authorities are determined to demonstrate that they can control this slide in prices,” Elliott said. “Chinese and global policymakers are only too aware how a market collapse could damage Chinese banks and household savings.”

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