SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Americans like to think of our country as a place where anybody, no matter how poor they're born, can make something of themselves with enough hard work. But as far as rich nations go, the United States scores pretty wretchedly on measures of "economic mobility" -- how likely children are to be wealthier than their parents -- falling below countries such as Denmark, Austrlia, Spain, France, and Norway, among others.
The OECD's latest report on education across the developed world offers us one potential explanation for why. We have glaring lack of "educational mobility." In the U.S., if you're born to parents who didn't make it far through school, chances are you won't either. Per the report:
In Italy, Portugal, Turkey and the United States, young people from families with low levels of education have the least chance of attaining a higher level of education than their parents. In these countries, more than 40% of these young people have not completed upper secondary education, and fewer than 20% have made it to tertiary education.
A diploma predicts potential earnings power. And so it shouldn't be surprising that many of the countries that beat us on economic mobility also beat us on educational mobility. This first chart shows children born to parents who didn't graduate from college. Those to the lower left are more likely to drop out of high school less likely to get a higher degree. Those to the top right are most likely to finish college and exceed their parents' education. Notice the United States in the lower left and Australia, Sweden, Denmark and Canada in the top right.
There is a quirk with the OECD's data that needs to be mentioned: It doesn't count our associate's degree holders as college grads. Since community colleges are a stepping stone for the sons and daughters of so many low-income U.S. families, that means these stats may underestimate how much educational mobility actually exists here. But there are other signs we have a problem.
First, there's this chart, which looks at the impact of socio-economic status on students' reading test scores, and the chances that they'll go to college. In countries sitting on the lower right-hand corner of the graph, including the U.S., low-income students with uneducated parents are pretty much doomed to do poorly in school. They also have only a small shot of ever even taking classes at a university.
Finally, just as the United States has a very low level of upward mobility in its education system, it also has a shockingly high level of downward mobility. As this chart with the U.S. on the far right end shows, nearly as many children end up less educated than their parents (the striped bars) as end up more educated (the gray bar).—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Atlantic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Google released a cloud-based version of their Google Wallet app, which lets you use any credit or debit card by either Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.
Google Wallet itself is still a very exclusive app that is available only on select devices, like the Galaxy Nexus smartphone and Nexus 7 tablet, the Galaxy S III, etc., and only in select countries.
The new Google Wallet cloud-based app is more secure too, because it moves your sensitive personal info from the secured storage area of your phone to a secure Google server with only the wallet ID remaining on the phones’ secure storage to facilitate transactions at the point of sale.
You can also lock and disable your Google Wallet account through your online account page should you lose your phone or have it stolen.
The new Google Wallet app is available for customers in the USA only.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has friends in the region poised “to strike out” in the event of an intervention into Syria, says a commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The warning was particularly sent to “hated” Arab countries.
“None of Syria's friends or the great front of resistance has yet entered the scene, and in the event that this happens, decisive blows will be struck at the enemy, especially the hated Arab rulers,” Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, a spokesman of the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fars news agency.
No country in particular was mentioned. Iran remains a key ally of official Damascus, while leaders of such Gulf countries as Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Qatar openly support Syrian rebels.
The hawkish rhetoric heard from Iran comes on top of the exchange over Syria’s chemical and biological arsenal, which the Arab country pledged Monday not to use against its own population, but only to combat “foreign aggressors.”
This was the first time Syria’s arsenals became an official reality, since the nation is one of just six non-signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1992. Syria’s purported stockpiles of nerve agents, including mustard gas, as well as Scud missiles capable of delivery, are secure according to its Foreign Ministry. Media reports say the weapons are being moved away from sites of severe clashes between pro-regime and opposition forces.
A torrent of warnings flooded Damascus following the statements, as officials from the EU and UN voiced their concerns over the possible use of the chemical arsenal.
On Tuesday, Russia said it hoped Syria would abide by a Geneva protocol ratified by the Arab country in 1968. The document bans the use, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it "presumes that the Syrian authorities will continue to rigorously abide by its assumed international obligations."
US President Barack Obama and the Pentagon immediately warned Damascus against the “tragic mistake” of deploying the weapons as such with Obama impressing on Assad’s regime that “the world is watching.”
At the same time, Israel has been hinting at an intervention to secure the weapons if Assad’s regime collapses. Israel’s Foreign Ministry admits “the entire non-conventional weapons system is under the full control of the [Syrian] regime.” But this knowledge apparently did not dissolve the image of Hezbollah laying its hands on the arsenal.
To complete this exchange, Iran’s Jazayeri also dismissed Tuesday the ability of “enemies” to overthrow the Syrian government. “The country's people and its friends will not allow such a move to take place,” he said.
Still, many recognize the pattern of a psychological war. Paul Lashmar, an investigative journalist and academic at London’s Brunel University, says the accusation may be targeting one goal: to create an image of dangerous Syria, which cannot exercise control over itself.
“Chemical and biological weapons are no good against rebel units that are fighting in a house-to-house combat. These are weapons you use nation against nation in a full scale battle. The fact that Americans and other countries are getting so concerned is to put the emphasis on Syria as a rogue nation. What is going on is to emphasize that this is a country with chemical and biological weapons that appears to be out of control,” Lashmar told RT.
Meanwhile, as the UN estimates the 17-month uprising in Syria has taken over 15,000 lives, the EU tightens an arms embargo on Syria. Now the EU countries are required to search planes and ships if they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect they are carrying arms, dual-use goods or equipment used for “repression” to Syria. Blacklists, already containing 49 organizations and 129 people, were also expanded to 26 people, mostly military officials. Starting Monday they are banned from entering the EU and their assets have been frozen.—www.shafaqna.com/english