Graduates: A generation abandoned

Graduate unemployment is not only creating an economic black hole but a terrible human tragedy

A poll reveals that of this year’s crop of graduates, 27% will be heading home to live with parents. Cue comments on the “boomerang generation”, along with explanations that young people prefer free catering and laundry in the parental home to the challenge of independence.

What’s really surprising is there are not far more. Youth unemployment currently stands at 24%, more than three times the national average of 7.7%. Given the price of accommodation and the insecure, temporary nature of young people’s jobs, it’s more a case of who on earth could actually afford to move out.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jul/19/graduates-generation-abandoned

Southern Cross wakes us up to the business of caring

We can’t leave our elderly to the market’s mercies – yet this government will not commit to averting a funding catastrophe

Southern Cross was owned by a private equity firm using care homes for exactly the kind of property speculation that underlay the banking crisis. So it might be tempting to think its demise is mainly indicative of just how catastrophic that business model turned out to be. But it’s even more a reminder of a subject we often choose to ignore: how we look after our elderly. The collapse of the UK’s largest residential care home provider is a shocking reminder that care of our elderly is in the hands of people who are in the business of care for profits – and that their business is almost as frail as the people they are looking after.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jul/11/southern-cross-business-of-caring

Kate Middleton and Charlene Wittstock: A tale of two princesses

Kate Middleton has impressed the public on her first foreign tour, but in Monaco Princess Charlene’s ‘fairytale’ marriage has got off to a tricky start

Any hopes that “princess mania” might die down have now been dashed by Kate’s first royal trip to Canada. If anything, England’s new princess looks set to attract ever more attention as the tour moves to California. But this week, as images were beamed back of her every outfit and move, a tale of another princess offered an interesting counterpoint. Pictures of Monaco‘s implausibly named Princess Charlene weeping through her wedding were an unsettling reminder that the reality of marrying into the European monarchy can be rather darker and more coercive.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/jul/09/princess-charlene-kate-fairytale-wedding

Royal wedding: My patriotic fever pitch

A royal pundit vacuum in the US means I’m a go-to expert in a country gorging itself on Kate ‘n’ Wills trivia

‘Are y’all ready for the wedding?” Whenever I speak in Philadelphia, where I have been living for the last few months, they ask this same question. Apparently I have a quaint accent. And because of this quaint British accent I am obviously intimate with the royal family and their preparations for the wedding of William and Kate that is obsessing America.

I also happen to have written a book about Princess Diana, and this makes me appealing not only to the general public but the Philly media. No, not appealing; valuable – because there’s a pundit vacuum here. The American media is moving out wholesale, heading for London. CNN is sending at least 125 staffers and NBC more than 500. Top anchors are going from all stations: ABC’s Barbara Walters is already there. Rival companies promote their coverage by the numbers of reporters they will have in situ. Wedding coverage, which started back in January, is reaching fever pitch.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/25/royal-wedding-patriotic-fever-pitch

Can you hurt a chimp’s feelings?

Video footage claiming to show chimps ‘grieving’ has sparked new debate over the ethical treatment of animals – but we should beware of jumping to conclusions

Is it an invasion of privacy to film an animal in its burrow? Or a whale as it exhibits its penis in a courtship display? Or to use a remote camera to film a bear giving birth in its den? According to a film studies lecturer from the University of East Anglia, it could be. If an animal retreats to its burrow, it obviously doesn’t want to be seen, he claims. Unlike the inhabitants of the Big Brother house, these creatures have not given consent. These assertions are a step further along the line from a cautionary ethical approach towards taking care not to disrupt wild behaviour. Instead, Brett Mills appears to be claiming that human emotions can be assumed within animals as well.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/apr/30/chimpanzees-emotions-ethics

‘Grieving’ chimps need rigorous study

Chimpanzee images have been presented as proof they share human emotions. Be wary of such speculative observation.

 

Who could have seen, and not been moved by, the video shown this week of a group of chimpanzees apparently mourning the death of Pansy, an elderly member of their troupe? The chimps gathered around her, moving her bedding gently and apparently checking her breathing. The video accompanying a report in the journal Current Biology was offered to support the idea that chimpanzees share human emotions like grief. Last year an equally striking image had shown a group of chimpanzees watching as the body of one of their group was carried off. The chimps stood silently, their arms around each other’s shoulders, apparently consoling one other.

Full article

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/29/grieving-chimps-need-more-research

 

Britain’s forgotten EU students

The number of Europeans studying at UK universities has soared, yet they have not figured at all in the debate about cuts

Recently, I’ve been teaching journalism at a British university. It’s a popular course already turning students away. But now, with the requirement for universities to trim their sails and cut student numbers coinciding with a hike in applications, it is likely to be turning down an even larger number. This will add to the hordes of disappointed students we have been hearing so much about in the press recently.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/feb/09/university-funding-european-students

Start talking rubbish

We should be asking why we are creating so much waste and how we can reuse it, rather than sweeping it under the carpet

News that the recycling chain has all but collapsed because of failed demand in China has produced the usual wringing of hands and a startling lack of alternative voices.

In terms of straight news reporting – last night’s BBC news for example, and today’s broadsheet coverage – the mountains of rubbish are presented as a “crisis” symptomatic of problems with the global economy. For the Daily Mail, this crisis is symptomatic of something else as well, not just a global crisis but proof that recycling is yet another pointless nanny-state demand on the already overburdened lives of the taxpayer. The paper hasn’t yet run the headline “Waste of time” but it can’t be far off.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/jan/10/recycling-credit-crunch

Have I done enough?

For two years Ros Coward has written a column about caring for her exuberant, but increasingly dependent mother. Here, in a final instalment, she pays a fond tribute to Sybil and explains why her forthright and moving chronicle has to end

It’s Mum’s birthday and I’m not spending it with her. I’m away. In Amsterdam, in fact. This is the first time for many years that I haven’t been with her on her birthday. I ring before leaving to say sorry that I won’t be with her to celebrate her 84th birthday. “Is it my birthday?” she says. “Oh well. I’m not bothered about that stuff. I’m all discombobulated.”

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/oct/18/family-longtermcare

Looking After Mother

We are sitting in an office having our six-monthly visit to the bit of Mum’s care that specifically addresses her dementia. Most of the other branches of the NHS she deals with simply ignore it, even though it’s probably the single most important thing affecting her life. This is a routine appointment, except that this visit is a bit different because it’s her last to our favourite consultant, the Iraqi doctor Mum calls Dr Al Jazeera. He’s retiring and I don’t know about Mum, but I’m certainly upset about it.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/oct/04/family3