Aug 12, 2014 2:10 pm

Iraqi Yazidis: Hazy population numbers and a history of persecution

The Yazidis fleeing the advance of the Sunni militant group ISIS in Iraq are a religious group of uncertain numbers and a long history of persecution.
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross the Iraqi-Syrian border on August 11, 2014. (Credit: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the groups caught in the path of Sunni militants fighting under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are the Yazidis, members of a minority religious group whose members were among the thousands of civilians who had been trapped in the Sinjar mountains of Iraq without food or water. Last week, President Obama authorized airstrikes on ISIS as well as humanitarian aid to help the refugees.

The Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish religious group whose beliefs include elements similar to Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. They are mainly concentrated in northern Iraq, but some also live in Syria, Turkey and a few other countries. Violence against Yazidis predates the current offensive, although ISIS represents a more systematic threat to the group.

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Topics: Middle East and North Africa, Religious Affiliation, Religious Extremism, Restrictions on Religion, Wars and International Conflicts

Aug 12, 2014 10:07 am

Vast majority of blacks view the criminal justice system as unfair

Over the weekend, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen was shot and killed by a police officer in a St. Louis, Missouri, suburb. Following the shooting, the predominately black city of Ferguson erupted into protests, prompting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a federal investigation into the incident.

Vast majority of blacks view the criminal justice system as unfair The shooting comes only weeks after the New York City Police Department was criticized for subduing a black man who later died in police custody. Both deaths have led to questions of whether discriminatory practices contributed to these incidents.

Blacks are much more likely than whites to say that blacks faced unfair treatment in dealing with police or in the courts, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey. And blacks perceived racial biases to be greater in the criminal justice system than in other institutions.

Seven-in-ten blacks said that blacks in their community were treated less fairly than whites in dealings with the police. In comparison, 37% of whites and 51% of Hispanics held that view. Also, 68% of blacks said that the court system was unfair to blacks, far more than whites (27%) or Hispanics (40%).

While half or more blacks said that blacks were treated less fairly than whites at work (54%) or at school (51%), those are still smaller percentages when compared with perceptions of unfair treatment by police or in the court system.

Additionally, younger black men are more likely to report unjust treatment by the police. Nearly one-quarter of black males ages 18-34 said they had been treated unfairly by the police in the last 30 days, according to a Gallup poll conducted June to July 2013. This represents a similar percentage with those 35-54 (22%), but double the rate cited for those 55 and older (11%).

Topics: African Americans, Criminal Justice, Discrimination and Prejudice

Aug 12, 2014 7:00 am

6 facts about South Korea’s growing Christian population

29% of South Koreans were Christian in 2010

Pope Francis will travel to South Korea this week for Asian Youth Day, making his third international trip as pontiff. He’ll be visiting a country that has experienced considerable religious change in recent decades. Here are six facts about Christianity in South Korea:

1South Korea has no majority religious group. Its population includes a plurality of people with no religious affiliation (46%) and significant shares of Christians (29%) and Buddhists (23%). South Korea’s current president, Park Geun-hye, is an atheist with connections to Buddhism and Catholicism, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Christian share of South Korea's population2In 1900, only 1% of the country’s population was Christian, but largely through the efforts of missionaries and churches, Christianity has grown rapidly in South Korea over the past century. In 2010, roughly three-in-ten South Koreans were Christian, including members of the world’s largest Pentecostal church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, in Seoul.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Buddhists and Buddhism, Christians and Christianity, Religious Affiliation, Religious Leaders

Aug 11, 2014 9:00 am

The growing pay gap between journalism and public relations

After years of grim news for the news industry marked by seemingly endless rounds of staff cutbacks, it’s not unusual for those thinking about a career in journalism or veterans trying to find a new job to look at options in related fields. One field outpacing journalism both in sheer numbers and in salary growth is public relations.

The growing income gap between PR specialists and reporters.The salary gap between public relations specialists and news reporters has widened over the past decade – to almost $20,000 a year, according to 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. At the same time, the public relations field has expanded to a degree that these specialists now outnumber reporters by nearly 5 to 1 (BLS data include part-time and full-time employees, but not self-employed.)

In 2013, according to BLS data, public relations specialists earned a median annual income of $54,940 compared with $35,600 for reporters. In other words, journalists on average earn just 65% of what those in public relations earn. That is a greater income gap than in 2004 when journalists were paid 71 cents of every dollar earned by those in public relations ($43,830 versus $31,320).

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Topics: News Media Sectors, Newspapers, Newsroom Investment and Resources

Aug 11, 2014 7:00 am

5 facts about Honduras and immigration

Honduras Migration
A child walks toward his mother outside the Honduran Center for Returned Migrants in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Photo Credit: Reuters/Jorge Cabrera

The number of unaccompanied minors from Honduras apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border shot up from less than 7,000 in fiscal year 2013 to more than 17,500 through July this year, making Honduras the country of origin for the highest number of those minors.

Here are some facts and figures to help understand the conditions that Hondurans face in their home country and their ties to the U.S., in the years leading up to the surge.

1The wave of all immigrants in the U.S. coming from Honduras — both authorized and unauthorized — is relatively new. Over half of Honduran immigrants currently living in the U.S. arrived in 2000 or later, and about a quarter since 2006, according to a Pew Research analysis of 2012 census data.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Immigration, Immigration Trends, Latin America, Unauthorized Immigration

Aug 8, 2014 11:14 am

U.S. nuns face shrinking numbers and tensions with the Vatican

The number of American nuns is on the declineThe Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which includes representation from more than 80% of American nuns, is set to hold its annual assembly next week in Nashville. The meeting comes as the organization continues to draw scrutiny from the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, and also at a time when there has been a steep decline in the number of nuns.

The Vatican first began taking a hard look at some organizations of U.S. nuns about five years ago, eventually ordering an investigation and a “doctrinal assessment” of the LCWR – and a plan for organizational reform.

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Aug 8, 2014 9:00 am

Chart of the Week: The most liberal and conservative big cities


Big cities in the U.S. tend toward the liberal side of the political spectrum, even when they’re within conservative states (residents of Austin sometimes joke that their city is “an island surrounded by Texas”). But which cities are more liberal — or conservative — than their reputations?

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Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, State and Local Government

Aug 8, 2014 7:00 am

How the Watergate crisis eroded public support for Richard Nixon

President Richard Nixon delivers remarks to the White House staff on his final day in office, Aug. 9, 1974. Credit: White House photo, courtesy Richard Nixon Presidential Library
President Richard Nixon delivers remarks to the White House staff on his final day in office, Aug. 9, 1974. Credit: White House photo, courtesy Richard Nixon Presidential Library

Forty years ago today, Richard Nixon announced his resignation from the nation’s highest office, making that decision in the face of almost certain impeachment by the House and plummeting public support, as a majority of Americans called for his removal from office. But it happened in stages.

Nixon had won reelection in 1972 by a landslide and began his second term with a lofty 68% Gallup Poll approval rating in January 1973. But the Watergate scandal — which started with an effort to bug the Democratic National Committee office at the Watergate Hotel and subsequent efforts to cover it up — quickly took a heavy toll on those ratings, especially when coupled with a ramp-up in public concerns about inflation. By April, a resounding 83% of the American public had heard or read about Watergate, as the president accepted the resignations of his top aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman. And in turn, Nixon’s approval ratings fell to 48%.

How Watergate Changed Public Opinion of Richard Nixon

But that was just the beginning of the toll the scandal would take on the president that year. The televised Watergate hearings that began in May 1973, chaired by Senator Samuel Ervin, commanded a large national audience — 71% told Gallup they watched the hearings live. And as many as 21% reported watching 10 hours or more of the Ervin proceedings. Not too surprisingly, Nixon’s popularity took a severe hit. His ratings fell as low as 31%, in Gallup’s early August survey.  Read More

Topics: Presidential Approval

Aug 7, 2014 7:00 am

Perceptions about women bosses improve, but gap remains

Women may have made measurable progress in the workplace over the last few decades, yet old ways die hard. Women still lag when it comes to holding top managerial positions. And among those with a preference, both men and women say they prefer male bosses and co-workers.

FT_14.07.06_femaleBosses (1)Only 24 women (about 5%) currently are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, according to an analysis by Catalyst, a nonprofit seeking to expand opportunities for women. Yet this is up from 20 female CEOs in 2013, and only one in 1998. Less than 9% of top management positions are filled by women, and the rates have declined in some key sectors in recent years. A similar analysis by Catalyst last year — this one looking at Fortune 1000 companies — found 45 women CEOs, up from 16 a decade prior, but still less than 5% of all top jobs.

Gallup has been tracking gender preferences in the workplace since 1953, when fully two-thirds of American adults (66%) said they would prefer a male boss if they had a choice in a new job. Another 25% volunteered that it made no difference, and only 5% said they would prefer a female boss. As of November 2013, the gap has narrowed but remains. A plurality (41%) say it makes no difference, but the rest prefer a male boss over a female boss by 35%-23%.  Read More

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

Aug 6, 2014 1:43 pm

UGA: The job market tightens, but new journalism grads remain upbeat

Job growth for recent journalism and mass communication grads stalled in 2013 with minority students hit particularly hard by the slowdown, according to a new University of Georgia survey of nearly 1,800 bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients.

In addition to a slight tightening of the job market, the survey shows that salaries and benefits have also stagnated. Yet these sobering economic realities have not resulted in more pessimism among the 2013 grads who report relatively high levels of job satisfaction and voice little regret about their career choices.

In 2013, 65% of bachelor’s degree holders in journalism and mass communication found full-time work six to eight months after graduation, a slight decrease from 65.6% in 2013 and the first decline since 2009, when the recession was at its peak. Additionally, unemployment for the recent graduates rose to 12.2% in 2013, up from 10.7% in 2012. That jobless number, however, is equal to the overall rate for 20-24 year olds.

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Topics: Media Economics, Newsroom Investment and Resources