7 facts about living conditions in australia
In 2015, Australia was ranked as the second-best country in the world in terms of quality of life. This report was based on a number of living condition factors, including financial indicators, like average income, and health standards, education and life expectancy. The following 7 facts about living conditions in Australia further illustrate what life is like in the Land Down Under. Many of these facts are based upon data retrieved from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), comprised of 36 member countries and founded to stimulate world trade.

7 Facts About Living Conditions in Australia

  1. Children Are an Impoverished Group: As of 2018, 13.2 percent of Australians (around three million people) were living below the poverty line, 730,000 of which are children under the age of 15. According to the Poverty in Australia 2018 report, a large reason for the overwhelming number of impoverished children is the high poverty rate among single-parent families relying on a single income. In terms of money, living below the poverty line in Australia translates to earning $433 per week for a single adult, or $909 per week for a married couple with two children. Most individuals experiencing poverty in Australia rely on Government allowance payments, like Youth Allowance and Newstart.
  2. Sanitation is Good: The percentage of homes in Australia that have access to an indoor flushing toilet is more than 95.6 percent, which is the OECD average. Additionally, more than 90% of Australians report satisfaction with their water quality. Access to running water and the high quality of water makes Australia above average in relation to the other 36 OECD member countries.
  3. A Wage Gap Exists: The gap in income between the rich and poor in Australia is quite large; the wealthiest 20 percent of Australians earn almost six times as much as the poorest 20 percent of Australians. This income inequality has been steadily rising since the mid-1990’s. One attempt to remedy income inequality in Australia is a progressive system of income tax, meaning that as an individual’s income increases, they will pay a higher amount of their income in tax. Additionally, social welfare payments account for around 35 percent of the Australian government’s budget. In 2017-2018, this translated to a $164 billion budget for social security and welfare.
  4. Australians Are Staying Employed: Seventy-three percent of Australians aged 15 to 64 have paid jobs, while the percentage of Australians who have been unemployed for one year or longer is 1.3 percent. The percentage of employed Australians is higher than the OECD average. Though the Australian job market thrives, Australians have a below-average ranking in work-life balance.
  5. Strong Education: The average Australian citizen will receive 21 years of education between the ages of 5 and 39, which is the highest amount of education in the OECD. Roughly 64 percent of children in Australia attend public schools, while 34 percent attend private or Catholic schools. Additionally, not only is the education system strong for Australian citizens, but international education offered to foreign students is Australia’s third largest export, valued at $19.9 billion.
  6. Rising Crime Rates: Over the past 2 decades, the number of reported crimes has risen dramatically; for example, from 1977-1978, the number of reported break-ins was 880 per thousand. From 1997-1998, this number rose to 2,125 per thousand. In the same period, assaults have risen from 90 to 689 per thousand of population and robberies have risen from 23 to 113 per thousand. While many of these 7 facts about living conditions in Australia indicate increasing quality of life for citizens, rising crime rates affect feelings of security, which has a negative effect on standards of living in Australia.
  7. Improving Health Standards: Health standards in Australia have risen substantially since 1947. From 1947 to 1989, the life expectancy of women increased by 10.9 years, while the life expectancy of men has risen by 9.8 years. Since 1990, life expectancy has risen even more, increasing by another 1.4 years for women and 2 years for men.

With one of the strongest performing economies in the world, Australians experience thriving, stable financial conditions. The education system is well organized and accessible, and health standards have increased and driven the life expectancies of Australians up over the last 70 years.

Yet, despite the tremendous growth and development in Australia, there are areas in standards of living that demand improvement. Perhaps most importantly, income inequality in Australia is alarmingly high, and poverty rates of citizens, and especially children, plagues the strength of Australian society. These 7 facts about living conditions in Australia indicate a thriving and desirable country with a need for concentrated focus on income inequality to eradicate staggering poverty in the lower class.

– Orly Golub
Photo: Flickr

Solution to South Africa's Street Violence
Apartheid in South Africa ended in 1994 with their first democratic election; however, racial inequality still persists especially in terms of safety today. With this dramatic transition of government, there has also been a shift in police and military forces.

Under this transition, the government disbanded the South African Defense force as a direct result of paramilitary activity in the 1990s. This shift left white-ex officers without a job, as the new government hired all new black officers.

South Africa’s Private Security Forces Keep Communities Safe

With the government anxious to speed up the transition, the new police forces were not adequately trained and violent crime rose. The public lost trust in the judicial system as numerous counts of police brutality in cities such as Durbin and Rustenburg rarely resulted in any legal action. In fact, approximately only 1 out of 100 cases of police brutality filed against officers result in a criminal conviction.

The level of violence peaked last year — official statistics reported 45 murders per day, which is four times the average for African nations, as well as the international average. The most violence occurs within the Western Cape province and between April 2011 and March 2012, Victims of Crime Survey reported:

  • 15, 609 murders
  • 64,514 sexual offenses
  • 101,203 aggravated robberies
  • 57 percent of the people surveyed reported that they feared burglary/robbery the most

These various aspects of transition within the region contributed to South Africa’s street violence levels and, consequently, its need for a solution.

What is the Government Doing?

South Africa’s Ministry of Community Safety and the Western Cape government acknowledges that there are major drug problems, weekly shootings/killings, and increasing gang activity. However, the government argues that the police and military bodies are significantly understaffed and undertrained to be able to combat these growing security concerns.

Private security companies have stepped in to help fill this void. There are approximately 400,000 private security guards and 9,000 private security firms. The private security industry has become larger than the police and military combined.

The most significant reason for concern is that there is such a high percentage of violent and contact crime, of which only one-third is actually reported to the South African Police Unit (SAPS). Rising crime statistics and the lack of action by the South African government has also fueled the growth of the private security sector.

Violence and Poverty in South Africa

In South Africa, poverty and violence seem to be proportionate. Around 80 percent of all crime in South Africa occurs in poor, underdeveloped communities. Essentially, crime has been commodified. Safety as a luxury means that safety only benefits those who have the wealth the purchase it.

For the majority of South Africans, that simply is not feasible, as one-third of the population is unemployed and impoverished, Therefore, most South Africans are unable to pay for security services.

Private Security Industry

Companies like SecuPro, ProteaCoin, and CSS Tactical have employed “Last Boyscout” strategies, which means that security is a primary concern for everyone in the communities in which they operate, regardless of whether or not citizens in the communities are financially able to pay for their security services. Private security firms advocate a more proactive strategy: to deter crime before it happens rather than catching crime during or after it has occurred.

The use of tactical vehicles and strategic placement of trained security officers equipped with semi-automatic weapons are a method used in high-risk neighborhoods to deter criminal activity. Private security guards are armed response guards who work directly within the communities, report to local police and are responsible for far more than simple security system installations. More often than not, it is private security guards who are the first respondents on the scene.

Different Kinds of Officers

South African private security officers have similar powers to police in terms of stop and search, and the power to stop and report suspicious activity. When there is an absence of police or private security guards, citizens have stepped in to keep their communities safe as well.

Neighborhood watch groups are also prominent, as citizens have become fed up with their government’s inaction. Many people who cannot afford security services have become dependent on private security and neighborhood watch groups alike.

ProteaCoin hires ex-police and military officers and employs approximately 17,000 people. The private security industry is a multimillion industry, dealing in both residential and commercial security. ProteaCoin deals in small-scale crime, protecting local business.

South Africa’s petroleum and mining industries are also extremely lucrative and constantly subjected to burglary/robbery. The role of private security companies does differ distinctly from police, providing aid and support for the police.

Critics of Private Security

In the absence of police presence, private security companies are often the only forces on the streets. This begs the question, what happens when private security companies take matters into their own hands?

Critics argue primarily that the private security industry threatens national security. In their eyes, a dangerous situation arises when the private security industry outstrips both the police and army and is outside the reach of governmental regulation.

This puts the public at the public at the mercy of security companies and security guards, who could potentially be unprofessional because they do not need to meet government regulatory standards. The lack of professionalism can also be a deterrent for business investment, which is already declining year-by-year due to operating in high-risk regions.

Solution to South Africa’s Street Violence

In order to keep private security companies accountable in the neighborhoods in which they operate, a possible solution could be to have the private security firms owned by South African citizens.

There have also been new proposals by the South African state government to regulate the growing private security industry. However, unless the South African government is able to address the underlying causes of unemployment, crime, and poverty, violence will continue to persist.

– Kimberly Keysa
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in Venezuela
The people of Venezuela are currently suffering as a result of the economic and political crisis occurring in the nation, which has affected girls’ education in Venezuela severely. Public schools that used to be ranked among the top in South America are now rarely opened for class. The annual dropout rate has doubled and more than one-quarter of teenagers are not enrolled in school. Additionally, according to Foundation Bengoa, a quarter of Venezuelan children missed class in the 2017-2018 school year because of hunger.

The many protests and high crime rate put students at risk and disrupt the school day often. According to Business Insider, more than one-quarter of teenagers are not even enrolled in school due to fear and lack of resources. According to Tupac Amaru Rivas, the head of El Sistema school in Caracas, parents often prefer to keep their children at home and teachers often cannot attend school so the school is forced to cancel class.

How the Venezuelan Government is Reacting

Although there is proof of a decline in the quality of education, the government refuses to acknowledge this by insisting that 75 percent of the national budget goes to the social sector. President Maduro released a statement saying, “Amid the economic war, the fall of oil prices, international harassment and financial persecution, not a single school has closed.” Venezuela currently ranks last globally in the Rule of Law Index. The lack of transparency and press coverage means that some official information is inaccurate or unavailable.

Ever since former President Hugo Chavez came into power, delivering a high-quality education to the youth was a priority in Venezuela. However, due to the recent economic and political crisis, girls’ education in Venezuela and education, in general, has taken a hit.

Issues Affecting Girls’ Education in Venezuela

School in Venezuela is often canceled because of the lack of basic utilities and food. The Caracas Public High School has even had to close down for weeks at a time.  A group of parents has said that Venezuelan children have missed an average of 40 percent of class time because of canceled classes.

The schools have also been affected by crime and instability in the country. Teachers are among those who have been shot, murdered or are missing. Additionally, teachers even exchange a passing grade for food. It is also common for teachers not to show up to class because they are waiting in food lines for their families.

Issues Within the Venezuelan School System

Even when school is open, what is being taught in schools is often flawed. The Associated Press has reported that some schools even leave textbooks delivered by the government unopened because teachers see them as “too full of pro-socialist propaganda to use.” This not only affects girls’ education in Venezuela but also education in the nation as a whole.

Education itself it suffering enough and the gender gap continues to increase in the midst of the economic crisis. In 2017, Venezuela scored 0.71 on the Gender Gap Index compared to 0.69 for the three previous years, meaning that women are approximately 29 percent less likely than men to have equal opportunities.

Although this is concerning, Venezuela is known to have very little discrimination in educational and social institutions. Rates of school enrollment and years of education in Venezuela are about the same for girls and boys.

The issue of the educational decline in Venezuela needs to be addressed before it is too late. A spokeswomen from the Movement of Organized Parents in Venezuela told the Associated Press, “This country has abandoned its children. By the time we see the full consequences, there will be no way to put it right.” Education, specifically girls’ education in Venezuela, will continue to suffer until these issues are dealt with.

– Luz Solano-Flórez
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Guadeloupe

Poverty in Guadeloupe has been severe for over a decade. Multiple factors contribute to the French territory’s 12.5 percent poverty rate, including natural disasters, a poor job market and a high crime rate.


Guadeloupe is in an island region located in the Caribbean, which means that it is located in an area that is plagued by natural disasters. The region was hit by Hurricane Dean in 2007, which destroyed an estimated 80 percent of the banana crop. This was devastating to the country, as bananas are one of Guadeloupe’s three top exports, in addition to sugar and rum.

According to the U.S. Geological Study, Guadeloupe was also struck by a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in 2014. Along with earthquakes and hurricanes, Guadeloupe regularly faces clouds of ash from Montserrat’s volcano. These clouds can block the sun, damaging the production of all of their crops, which greatly affects their economy.

Since Guadeloupe is prone to such natural disasters, efforts have been made to help these affected areas more effectively and efficiently. One of the first steps, taken in 2003, was to establish a flood forecasting support service, as flooding can be caused by hurricanes and earthquakes, two of the most prevalent natural disasters. Guadeloupe also has Regional Health Agencies that have divided themselves between the three territories, including the two new communities in Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, to help provide health care to those who face injury in disasters.

Poor Job Market

One of the biggest aspects of a strong economy is a stable job market. Unfortunately, as of 2010, roughly 23.5 percent of the population in Guadeloupe was unemployed. With nearly one in four people jobless, unemployment is one of the major causes of poverty in Guadeloupe.

Even those who have jobs continue to face problems. In 2009, nearly 50 unions gathered together under the Collective against Extreme Exploitation to protest for weeks for higher living wages, adding €200 $250 to base salaries. These protests caused widespread issues, as supermarkets and government offices closed and a food shortage spread across the nation. The Collective’s demands were finally met on March 4, 2009 and $216 million of aid was sent from France.


Guadeloupe is also facing a high rate of violent crime. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, in 2009 the homicide rate in Guadeloupe was 7.9 percent per 100,000 people, which is higher than the United States’, at 5.01 percent the same year. Crime has continued to rise since then, and in September 2016 France sent 70 police officers to help stop the crime that was devastating Guadeloupe. France hopes to protect its citizens, and to help restore Guadeloupe’s status as a tourist attraction where tourists can feel safe.

With all these causes culminating to create poverty in Guadeloupe, it may seem like there is little hope. However, Guadeloupe has been on a resurgence and its efforts to rebuild are taking effect. For example, before Hurricane Irma hit in the beginning of September 2017, France had already mobilized military and health care personnel so that they were stationed in Guadeloupe to provide help after the storm. This effort made a lasting impact on Guadeloupe and its people, sparing many lives. With continued support from France, the people of Guadeloupe will be able to move out of poverty and thrive as a nation.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Google

Child Poverty in New Zealand

According to UNICEF, one in five children in New Zealand live in income poverty. About 8 percent of these children face severe hardships. Disturbingly, these figures on child poverty in New Zealand have hardly changed in the past decade.

Poverty in New Zealand should by no means be confused with poverty in a developing or underdeveloped country. When we talk about child poverty in New Zealand, it is in comparison to developed nations, particularly the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) nations. While a lack of economic and financial stimuli are the primary reasons for poverty in a developing country, these are in a state of equilibrium for a developed nation like New Zealand. Any efforts to address poverty are met by social, cultural and economic forces pushing people into poverty. Poverty in New Zealand is mostly entrenched in provincial parts of the country, where it coincides with high rates of drug dependency, poor health outcomes, high crimes and multi-generational cycles of disadvantage. Incremental changes at the margins would not significantly impact levels of poverty; a “circuit breaker” approach is needed.

Having said that, within New Zealand’s context, poverty exists despite historically high employment rates and excellent tax breaks and benefits. The forces driving poverty in New Zealand are not as simple as unemployment or inadequate state benefits.

Child poverty in particular imposes a considerable burden on a nation’s economy, and if left unresolved for a long time can severely damage its long-term prosperity. New Zealand currently spends upwards of $6 billion per year on remedial interventions. Failure to alleviate child poverty now will undermine the country’s achievements in areas like reduction in child abuse, total educational attainment and improvement in skill levels while hurting its longstanding economic advantage.

In 2016, when UNICEF’s Innocenti Report was published, it provided an assessment of child well-being, neonatal mortality, suicide, mental health, drunkenness and teen pregnancy across the OECD countries and the European Union. New Zealand was ranked 34 out of the 41 countries assessed and was in the bottom quarter for many of the measures used. In addition, New Zealand also has the highest rate of adolescent suicide of any country in the report, about two and a half times the average of 6.1. This humbling report on child poverty in New Zealand opened up a country-wide debate, with Kiwis demanding solutions from the government.

In 2012, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner submitted its report detailing 78 recommendations, each addressing some form of child poverty. Most recently, in order to contribute to the national conversation on poverty reduction, TacklingPovertyNZ conducted a series of workshops and came up with a list of seven suggestions to tackle poverty. These suggestions include simplifying and standardizing the benefit system, giving more benefits to regions of high need, revisiting the role of the state as the employer of last resort, investing in “hard” regional infrastructure,
investing significantly in mental health, targeting behavioral drivers of poverty and introducing asset-based assistance for high risk children.

While these suggestions seem credible and executable, it is often the case that credible policy options are always scrutinized under the political microscope of feasibility, lack of profile or degree of freedom from the status quo. Most policies that are known to work and are shown to be politically feasible have either been implemented or are under consideration. However, it is only by looking at policies that lie outside the range of political feasibility that we stand a realistic chance of identifying new ideas that might actually make a significant difference.

Jagriti Misra

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Jamaica Poverty rate
Jamaica has struggled with poverty, unemployment and crime for the past half century, but the nation has recently seen ambitious government economic policies bear fruit. Discussed below are the leading facts about poverty in Jamaica and their implications.

8 Facts about Poverty in Jamaica

  1. Jamaica is not in extreme poverty and is regarded as a middle income country. For comparison, Jamaica has about 1/20th the GDP per capita of the United States, but a four-times-higher GDP per capita than the nearby country Haiti.
  2. Since the 1970s and 80s, Jamaica has experienced serious problems with poverty and unemployment. Through the 90s, unemployment remained around 15 percent, with poverty above 25 percent. The unemployment rate is currently 14 percent and poverty is 16 percent.
  3. A serious hindrance to Jamaica’s development has been slow rates of economic growth. In the past 30 years, Jamaica has had an average annual GDP growth rate of less than one percent. The slow growth rate is a major cause of persistent poverty in Jamaica.
  4. Relationships between Jamaican officials and crime groups cause widespread corruption, which results in many of Jamaica’s problems. The corruption not only hurts law abiding Jamaican citizens, but makes foreign investors far more hesitant to get involved in Jamaican industry.
  5. Public education in Jamaica is not entirely free. There is a registration fee and other school expenses that are not covered by the government. As a result, many of the nation’s most poor children are not able to attend school.
  6. Jamaica jumped 27 places in the 2015 Doing Business ranking, as the Jamaican government has improved its credit rating and decreased the national debt. It is hoped that the improved ranking will increase investment and alleviate poverty in Jamaica.
  7. The World Bank has a positive outlook for Jamaica’s economy, with forecasts of the country’s GDP growth rate climbing to over two percent in 2017.
  8. The Jamaican Government is currently working with the UNDP and the European Union to alleviate poverty on both a macro and micro level. Poverty alleviation and achievement of Millennium Development Goals remains a top priority for the Jamaican government.

Despite Jamaica’s history of poverty and some ongoing problems, economic forecasts for the country remain optimistic. It is possible that Jamaica will experience an economic resurgence and alleviate problems of unemployment and poverty in coming years.

John English

Photo: Pixabay

Murder rates are much higher in large cities compared to in smaller towns. In general, violent crimes are more prevalent in heavily populated areas, in particular, impoverished urban communities.

In densely populated areas, crime rates can be influenced by the increase in peer contact. Individuals have more contact with one another, which allows for the potential for more crimes to be committed overall. An urban setting also entails more bars, convenience stores and other vulnerable businesses meaning there is an abundance of potential targets.

Statistically speaking, gender affects the number and types of crimes committed. On average, males commit more street crime than females due to the socialization to be aggressive and assertive. In addition, younger individuals commit at a disproportionate amount of street crime, in part because of peer influence as well as their lack of desire to conform.

The most targeted and vulnerable of the population is the poorest of the poor: the homeless. The abuse, death and crimes against this population is often undocumented.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of violent crimes committed against the homeless. “Bum fights” are a new phenomenon where people videotape their attacks against the homeless for entertainment. The more recent and violent attacks have gotten the attention of the United States Justice Department, which acknowledges not only that this a growing and serious national issues but is also a hate crime. However, the homeless are not considered to be a federally protected class.

Crimes committed against the homeless are brutal and violent and include but are not limited to drowning, burning, shooting and stabbing.

Factors that make the homeless more vulnerable includes a criminal’s lack of discrimination against their victim; in essence there is not a targeted victim. Given a lack of trust in the police on the part of the homeless, many of these crimes go unreported. Homeless individuals become easy targets. Environmental factors also impact a homeless individual’s vulnerability. No walls, locks or keys and a transient lifestyle increase the likelihood that a homeless person will be targeted and become a victim.

​Crimes that target the poor and homeless are a problem in the United States. Support for legislative change and policy updates that allow the homeless to be considered a protected class is the first step to help this population.

– Erika Wright

Sources: LardBucket, Common Dreams, Desert News
Photo: Flickr

Buenos Aires, Argentina is a difficult place to be poor.

The government announced earlier in 2014 that poverty levels at the national level continue to decline. Between 2011 and 2012, the nation’s poverty levels dropped from 5.7 percent to 4.3 percent. However, the impoverished of Buenos Aires continue to experience hardships.

Despite a slight reduction in poverty in the first decade of the century, Buenos Aires’ residents considered to be either poor or extremely poor continue to heavily populate the city.

Rising food prices in recent years have contributed to the problem. Crime is also a common problem in and around Buenos Aires. According to a 2011 report, crime is considered to be “one of the biggest burdens facing residents.” Robberies, especially muggings at bus stops, as well as street violence and other shootings are not unordinary in part due to a lack of police presence in areas of the city and the metropolitan region’s poorer areas.

Not helping the level of poverty in Buenos Aires is the city’s inadequate housing. Much of the city’s substandard housing was built with second-hand materials. Some of the buildings were never even finished.

While the city’s water and sanitation levels are adequate, Buenos Aires’ general infrastructure is subpar. The metropolitan areas lack the necessary architectural support to withstand hazards and extreme weather events.

In addition to such shortcomings, notable discrepancies exist among the city’s wealthy and poor. Even though certain areas of Buenos Aires remain inadequate, the more wealthy parts of the city possess newer, stable infrastructure.

Like other regions in South America, Buenos Aires features an abundance of low-income housing on unstable land. This includes land with contamination, low-lying and flood-prone areas and land on or near landfills.

One of the government’s most notable criticisms is its indecision in implementing a national poverty line. Even though many developed and some developing nations maintain such a threshold, Argentina does not.

In recent years, the Argentinean government stated that six pesos, or roughly $1.30, are enough for a citizen to sustain an entire day’s worth of food. The statement drew outrage both domestically and internationally. Given the expenses of living in a city, the average Buenos Aires resident would face financial hardships subsisting on such an amount.

Recently, children inhabiting one of Buenos Aires’ most dangerous slums have utilized cricket and the competitive spirit of sport as a means to separate themselves from a life of poverty. The Caacupe cricket team has seen some of its players enter training sessions at private schools and even play internationally.

“You can really use it in life as well,” fourteen-year-old Alexis Gaona said in an Associated Press article from March. “From here you have a reference for the rest of your life.”

It is a silver lining in a city where being poor poses many challenges.

– Ethan Safran 

Sources: Buenos Aires Herald, Yahoo News, International Institute for Environment and Development, Worldbulletin
Photo: Flickr

Passinho, a small step dance, is gaining incredible momentum in Brazil, specifically coming out of the outlying peripheries (slums) of Rio de Janeiro. The dance caught fire when it gained media attention through YouTube and news spotlights highlighting the Passinho dance craze. Passinho has been around for more than eight years, but it just recently entered mainstream and can be seen on many ads and television commercials. The dance has grown so big that a number of major competitions are held throughout Brazil hosting hundreds of youths passionate about Passinho. The dance is a mixture of break-dancing, funk, pop, and traditional dances like the samba, pagode, and frevo. Many young people perform Passinho barefoot.

Rio de Janeiro is home to approximately 11.7 million people. The city is largely made up of poor shanty settlements. Rio de Janeiro faced a rapid push in urbanization, resulting in a major influx in migration, which ultimately led to a shortage in housing. The housing shortage has forced people to construct their own homes out of scrap materials, which are temporary places of living commonly known as favelas. The housing conditions in the favelas are extremely poor, with families often sharing only one tap, and forced to live without proper sewage maintenance.

The shanty settlements of Rio de Janeiro have been home to large amounts of violence, crime, and drug use. Before Passinho became widely popular, youths would engage in drug trafficking and violence to get them through the day. Now that Passinho has taken center stage in Rio, youths have a healthy and fun alternative to the crime that once ruled the poor areas of Rio de Janeiro. Instead of getting involved in drug trafficking, youths are getting involved in the Passinho dance scene, which is broadcasted through YouTube and Facebook for fans all over the world to see.

The extensive popularity of Passinho is inspiring young people all over the world. It is showing the world that there are fun alternatives to crime that young people actually want to engage in, despite their poor living conditions. Passinho goes beyond the dance floor, bringing positive light into the lives of young people living in the favelas of Brazil.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Internet Geography, NPR, Black Women of Brazil
Photo: UOL Entertainment



View the biggest slums in the world.



In April 2009, Captain Richard Phillips was kidnapped from his cargo boat by Somali pirates who demanded $2 million for his release. The pirates held Captain Phillips for five days in a small lifeboat, before Navy SEALs stepped in to save the captain, killing three pirates in the process. Tom Hanks immortalized the hardship of the event in a movie entitled Captain Phillips, released October 11.

The film’s director, Paul Greengrass, attempted to depict the pirate captain, Muse, as a dynamic character and to show the viewers the reasons for his actions. Greengrass expands Muse as a character by including the events that lead him to kidnap Captain Phillips in the first place. Not surprisingly, they involve real threats to both Muse and his family. The kidnapping could also lead to something Muse’s poverty-stricken family desperately needed: money.

For about 15 years, Somalia has lacked a stable government. The country has been fighting a civil war, and their resources continue to dwindle. The Somalian economy depends heavily on agriculture and livestock, both ways of living which require significant amounts of land. But without a stable government to provide trusted contracts of land ownership, making an honest living in Somalia is difficult. Furthermore, crops are sensitive to changes in weather and livestock to unchecked disease. Due to these and other factors, at least 43 percent of the Somalian population lives below the poverty line.

The kidnapping of Captain Phillips shows that poverty can push people to crime in order to support themselves and their family. While not all criminals are influenced by poverty, if the U.S. works hard to help those countries most in need then the incidences of crime threatening national security will decrease. As Captain Phillips shows, the U.S. can help increase its national security by investing in international poverty alleviating programs.

– Alessandra Wike

Sources: Foreign Policy, Hollywood Reporter, New York Times