World News The Internet Politics

How meme culture has redefined our understanding of politics

In the age of social media, it’s almost impossible to not see a meme. Viral memes such as ‘Roll Safe’ or the ‘Kombucha Girl’ are always somewhere on the timeline. Due to our regular encounters with memes, it would be undeniable to negate the impact that memes have had on consumers, whether it’s just for laughs or spreading bite sized chunks of information. However, the surge in political memes has brought into question the effectiveness of these memes and the validity of the information spread through these memes.

For instance, take the memes about ‘World War III’, due to the tensions between Iran and the US back at the beginning of the year. I personally wouldn’t be laughing about how wars and one of the most powerful and funded militaries on the Earth would destabilize – nothing new to them, they’ve done this many times – a country who has suffered at the hands of their military. But hey, that’s just me. Cultural awareness is pivotal, especially in an increasingly global village. Though it can be argued that humor is a coping mechanism, I still think it is important to remain culturally aware on how an event on one side of the world can negatively impact others. 

This has been a tough year for politics – from the US Presidential Elections, the Conservative Party’s failings with Brexit, the UK’s abysmal Track and Trace system, #ENDSARS, and quite frankly, everything. Each of these incidents have been turned into memes in one way or another. During the US elections, I know I was not the only one who cried tears of laughter at the memes of Trump losing his job. 

But, what’s interesting is how meme culture has redefined our understanding of politics. It wouldn’t be shocking to say that perhaps due to more young activists, the way some Gen Z understand politics is through memes. Some politicians even attempt to relay this back to them, but they are not always successful. For example, Hilary Clinton’s tweet about student loans conveyed how clearly she was out of touch with the youth and could be deemed as insensitive, when she asked, “How does your student loan make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” It was an extremely poorly worded tweet, knowing that hundreds of thousands of American students are in college debt. 

Despite living in evolving times, sometimes politicians need to understand that not every young person is the same. Whilst memes do have an influence, whether temporary or not, these attempts simply reduces all young people to a category, failing to take into consideration the different ways youth engage with politics. For instance, in the run up to the 2017 General Election in the UK, there were multiple political campaigns from the Labour party on Snapchat. Leaders like Boris Johnson attempted to engage the youth on Snapchat, only to end up as a temporal meme somewhere on the Internet. 

The emergence of memes in political discourse, pioneered by social media, is due to humor. This enables society to consider how humor can be used in political contexts through shared meanings. It would be a lie to say that political memes don’t evoke the necessary discussions about issues such as taxes or healthcare. For example, if someone makes a meme about how incompetent Buhari or Trump is, it could act as an indirect conversation to engage with others on political topics through social media.

Acting as a cultural phenomenon, memes also enable us to recall political incidents and history. For example, there was a meme of ‘Tank Man’, who stood in front of tanks, protesting after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Due to Chinese censorship, the images of the tanks were replaced with rubber ducks. It highlights how we can still remember political events and can even safeguard those who may be censored from sharing certain pieces of information. Whilst they are powerful forms of social data, it’s important to consider what memes mean for public memory. How do we ensure that we remember genuine events rather than edited variations based on memes. Despite this, memes aren’t just used for negative purposes such as targeting politicians (though these are hilarious), but they simplify things and remain accessible for a lot of people.


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Coronavirus The World

Dear EU, I defended you and now you’re letting me down

Since I moved from Spain to the UK in 2016, the Brexit debate has followed me even in my dreams. I have spent years defending the value and importance of the European Union (EU) and arguing that Britain’s decision to leave it was a mistake. I am not so sure anymore.

During these last four years, I have been an adamant defender of the European Union.

As an EU supporter, I was appalled by its late reaction to COVID-19. The EU only closed its borders when most of its members had already done so, and failed to create a coordinated plan to buy medical material and provide economic support. While EU countries fight each other over respirators and loans, my hope on a united international response to the pandemic is slowly crumbling.

I arrived in the UK less than two months after the Brexit referendum in which the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. This decision became the most common topic of conversation throughout my first year of university, especially when people found out about my Spanish nationality. The same happened when I went back home.

During these last four years, I have been an adamant defender of the European Union. I have argued with university classmates over the financial support that this institution provides for its members and the importance of open borders for trade and travel.

I have been disappointed by the slow and inefficient response that the European Union has had to the pandemic.

As a Spanish person, I am thankful for all the support that Europe has given to my country. Spain’s recovery from the 2008 economic crash has been possible thanks to our membership to the EU. Moreover, as someone in the world of academia, I recognize the dependence that universities have on European funding.

I have supported Europe because I believe there’s strength in numbers. However, when times of need have arrived, the EU states have failed to stick together. The EU’s response to COVID-19  has been slow and inefficient.

Despite the threat that this virus presented since December, the EU failed to create a plan to control a possible outbreak. To this day, there is still no common system across Europe for testing, data acquisition, or quarantine guidelines. Each country has had to decide individually what measures to take.

“This initial lack of solidarity with Italy has already made for a pretty big reputation damage,” said Gostynska-Jakubowska

The first decision that the EU made to stop COVID-19 was the closing of  Schengen borders, on March 17th. However, by this time, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain had already established strict border restrictions, and the United States had banned flights to Europe.

Even when Italy asked for Europe’s help, criticizing the European countries’ bans on exportations of personal protective equipment, the UE was slow to reply. 

“This initial lack of solidarity with Italy has already made for pretty big reputation damage,” said Gostyńska-Jakubowska. “Average Italians will probably remember more favorably the fact that the Chinese are now sending them equipment and will hold it against the member states for turning their back on them.”

While EU countries fight each other over respirators and loans, my hope on an international and solidary response to the pandemic is slowly crumbling.

The EU has recently agreed on some economic measures to financially support its members. For example, they have lifted the rule that governments must keep their budget deficits under 3% of their GDP. The European Central Bank has also created a €750 billion emergency plan to buy government debt.

Nonetheless, it is not enough, and governments keep debating. Last week Mauro Ferrari resigned from his post as head of the European Research Council. He told The Times: “I arrived at the ERC a fervent supporter of the EU [but] the COVID-19 crisis completely changed my views.”

On April 7th the European finance ministers had a 14-hour online meeting to discuss further financial aid. It arrived to a dead end.  A second meeting a few days later approved a €500 billion European package of funds to support member states during the pandemic. However, countries still fight each other. Italy and Spain defend the need for “coronabonds” that would raise money against shared European debt. However, nations such as Germany and the Netherlands strongly oppose them.

Despite the knowledge of the possible threat of COVID-19, the EU failed to create a coordinated plan to control a possible outbreak

One diplomatic source told CNN: “After this is over, we can’t all go back to sitting around the table and pretending this didn’t happen.”

I have always defended the European Union. I believe that international institutions keep nationalism at bay and promote a more peaceful world. I do not want the EU to fail, or collapse. However, it needs to do much better if it wants to maintain its pre-pandemic position.

World News Politics The World

Everything you need to know about the upcoming UK general election

The UK’s third general election since 2015 has been called to take place on the 12th of December 2019.

650 Members of Parliament (MPs) will be elected across the UK (533 from England, 59 from Scotland, 40 from Wales and 18 from Northern Ireland). A majority of 326 MPs from the same political party are what is required to win – anything less and it is known as a ‘hung’ parliament, meaning the party with the most seats must form a coalition with another to make up the remaining number of seats.

This was the case in 2017.

This latest general election (the first to be held in December since 1923) is to end the deadlock that has come about from the 2016 EU Referendum (Brexit) vote in which the UK voted (with a slim majority of 51.9%) to leave the European Union.

The current Prime Minister is Boris Johnson of the Conservative party, having taken over the position from Theresa May in July 2019, who had failed to get support on her Brexit deal after three years of negotiating with the EU and the MPs in the House of Commons.

Johnson does not have enough support to pass any new laws so calling for a general election might increase the number of MPs that will support his Brexit plans.

So, who are the players and what are the key policies voters want?

The Players

There are eight parties standing in Scotland, Wales and England and five separate parties standing in Northern Ireland.

The three major parties are:


Boris Johnson, a white man with platinum blonde hair, is haphazardly smiling at the camera
[Image Description: Boris Johnson, a white man with platinum blonde hair, is haphazardly smiling at the camera] via Wikimedia Commons/UK Government
Boris Johnson’s party is contesting 635 seats across England, Wales, and Scotland. Johnson started as a political columnist for the Daily Telegraph and became an MP in 2001. His political experience includes Mayor of London from 2008 – 2015 and has always passionately spoken up about leading his country. Johnson is known to be anti-EU, in recent years, and has raised a few eyebrows and drawn criticism for his racial, misogynistic and Islamophobic comments and alleged misconduct in public office while Mayor of London.


Jeremy Corbyn, a white man with grey hair and a short beard, is smiling at the camera
[Image Description: Jeremy Corbyn, a white man with grey hair and a short beard, is smiling at the camera] via Wikimedia Commons/Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament
Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour party and the Leader of the Opposition. He has held the position since 2015 and is the oldest of the leaders standing. The party is contesting 631 seats across England, Wales, and Scotland. His political career spans 40 years, starting work with trade unions in the 1970s to local councilor to political campaigner and then MP since 1983. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist, anti-war campaigner and peace activist, he chaired the Stop the War Coalition which came about after the September 11 attacks and protested against apartheid in South Africa and the Iraq War. However, since taking over the Labour party, there has been criticism over allegations of anti-Semitism in the party and his lack of action to tackle it.

Liberal Democrats

Jo Swinson, a white woman with dark hair, is smiling at the camera
[Image Description: Jo Swinson, a white woman with dark hair, is smiling at the camera] via Wikimedia Commons/Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament
Jo Swinson is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, a position she took over in July 2019. The party is contesting 611 seats across Wales, Scotland, and England. She is the youngest leader standing. Swinson was one of the youngest MPs when she won her first election in 2005 at the age of 25. She was the Liberal Democrats Scottish spokesperson between 2006 – 2007 and vocally campaigned against the Iraq War and supported measures to tackle climate change. During the 2010-2015 Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, Swinson was appointed as Business Minister where she pushed for paternity leave and flexible working hours. Criticism falls upon her supporting zero-hour working contracts and supporting other austerity measures, including the increase in tuition fees and a reduction in funding to public services.

The other parties standings are;

  • The Green Party – led by Jonathon Bartley and Sian Berry
  • Scottish National Party – led by Nicola Sturgeon (only standing in Scotland)
  • Plaid Cymru – led by Adam Price (only standing in Wales)
  • The Independent Group for Change – led by Anna Soubry
  • The Brexit Party – led by Nigel Farage

In Northern Ireland, the five main parties standing are;

  • Democratic Unionists Party – led by Arlene Foster (currently in coalition with the Conservatives and holding the most seats in the Northern Irish Assembly)
  • Sinn Féin – led by Mary Lou McDonald (as abstentionists, they do not take up seats they win in the House of Commons)
  • Social Democratic & Labour Party – led by Colum Eastwood
  • Ulster Unionist Party – led by Steve Aiken
  • Alliance Party – led by Naomi Long

The Policies

The main policy on the agenda is clearly Brexit. Politicians and the country are divided over what should happen, three years later.

One of the contingencies that have been put forward is a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit. This would cease all treaties of the European Union, meaning trade, laws, citizenship, and freedom of movement will no longer apply. British citizens living in EU countries and EU citizens living in the UK would be considered ‘illegals’ and imports and exports would cease therefore a shortage in supplies such as medicines and inflation in the economy.

Boris Johnson has warned if a deal cannot be agreed upon, he will have no choice but to call a no-deal. Hard-core Conservatives and the Brexit Party support no-deal but Labour is insistent that no-deal must be taken off the table before any deal is agreed upon. The Liberal Democrats are, however, campaigning for another referendum, believing that the British public has changed their tone towards the idea of Brexit.

Tackling climate change and pushing for green policies are being put forward by the three major parties in different ways. Conservatives pledge to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050, Labour intends to create 1 million ‘green jobs’ and the Liberal Democrats intend to implement a frequent flyer tax to reduce the number of carbon emissions related to air travel.

Support for education, child care costs, housing, and public services are also promised by each party with funding for the NHS to reduce the strain also promised and very high on the priorities of voters, particularly those who voted ‘Leave’ in 2016.

Early indications

Early voting prediction polls differ and cannot determine the overall result but so far, the Conservatives seem to be in the lead.

YouGov, the British data analytics firm, put the Conservatives on 42%, 12 points ahead of Labour and the Liberal Democrats on 16%.

The first seat projection models predict the Conservatives will have a majority of 48 and that Labour will lose 30 seats and the Liberal Democrats will lose 6.

Whoever wins and whatever the outcome, hung parliament or majority, it is clear after the general election on the 12th December there will be a long list of things they need to get done, starting with getting Brexit sorted and finally ending a three-year deadlock.

World News Politics The World

This is what we lose when we take the European Union for granted

I stood silently staring down a corridor a kilometer long and buried deep underground.

Yellow incandescent lights buzzed softly, and the walls were damp.  My arm grazed my goosebumped thighs, and the air was dense with an intense, latent fear from 89 years ago. The French built this massive fortification –  the Maginot Line – to protect them from their German neighbors starting in 1929. It did not work, despite building all along their enormous border and only skipping the dense Ardennes forest. The Germans invaded through that forest and took control of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. For decades it has stood as a monument to human fallibility.

Down here, though, I am consumed not with the irony of this place but with the tragedy of living in a Europe that seems to have forgotten what it was like to have this much fear of your fellow man.

I am a bit of an outsider here in Europe.

I am an American whose relatives emigrated long before the World Wars rocked this continent and nearly destroyed it twice. That being said, I feel the weight of Europe’s history all the time. I live in Frankfurt, Germany – a few hours drive from the French border. This city is covered in stumbling stones in front of houses declaring the names of former residents who were deported and murdered in camps. It was all but razed by the British, and so it looks nothing at all like the picturesque streets of Prague or Paris. It can feel like Germany is preoccupied with course-correcting to make up for their slide into Nazism, their genocide and their campaign to obliterate and possess Europe.

That preoccupation gets a fair amount of flack, especially from the right-wing, but it’s always felt comforting to me. Our leaders and most of the people here are on high-alert –  extra sensitive to nationalism, fascism, and dangerous overreach if only because it has been a cultural norm for so long. I’m glad that in 2018 I still feel like the country I live in is acutely aware of what lead to the rise of Nazism and Fascism and what resulted from it.

That does not feel like it is the norm across the EU, though, and that is terrifying.

I am married to a wonderful British man, who came to Germany after five years in Japan for his dream job. Coming here to build a life was his birthright as a citizen of the EU, after years of visa anxiety in Japan, he was back home in Europe. Today, we are making plans to drive our things across France and into England before Brexit so we can be sure that we will have the right to move freely and build a life together in his home country, just as the EU promised us.

It hurts to know his country, the country our children will call home, has so easily forgotten the lesson of the Maginot Line.

In Italy, my friends are losing sleep and breaking down into tears as the most far-right, anti-EU government in memory has taken the reins and has begun to remind them all of their own collective nightmare, Mussolini.

Hungary has descended into far-right nationalism and embraced white supremacy, anti-LGBT policies and open advocacy of an authoritarian government. Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister who has overseen this move won a third term this past April. Poland’s government has been careening towards social and political conservatism. Germany and France have both seen a rise in the political prominence of far-right, racist and anti-EU parties and antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise. These examples are only an abbreviated description of what Europe is facing right now. Across this continent, people have forgotten the fear and forgotten just how much of a political miracle the EU is. Peace and cooperation in Europe were long thought to be an impossibility, but that reality has been within reach.

This imperfect union is a lifeline that many citizens, scholars and politicians thought was an impossibility, but it’s here, and it’s ours.

The European Union is a project in progress, but its value is clear. When governments and factions seek to revisit the horrific crimes of the previous century, there is a body that can prevent that – not with guns and ships – but with trade and influence and diplomacy.

The United States is exiting the world’s stage, no longer considered a leader in democracy and human rights. At this moment, the EU is more critical than ever. The Maginot Line has been relegated to history books. It is tucked away in the French countryside and has no place in public consciousness. Standing inside its chilly corridors, I could feel the Europe that I love letting go of the memory and lessons of the 20th century. 

I had goosebumps – not because I was cold, but because I was very, very scared.

Tech Now + Beyond

European Politicians seek to end ‘backdoors’ into encrypted messages

Although there is an alarming uptick in surveillance powers across the globe, a proposal at the European Parliament is seeking to ban law enforcement, government agencies from going into encrypted messages such as WhatsApp messages.

The Committee of Civil Liberties of Justice and Home Affairs is attempting to ban any “backdoor” activity done on electronic devices such as decryption, monitoring such communication and reverse engineering. This proposal is based on Article 7 from the EU’s Charter Fundamental Rights, which promises the “confidentiality and safety” of EU citizens’ electronic communications needs to be “guaranteed.”

“The providers of electronic communications services shall ensure that there is sufficient protection in place against unauthorised access or alterations to the electronic communications data and that the confidentiality and safety of the transmission are also guaranteed by the nature of the means of transmission used or by state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption of the electronic communications data,” states the proposal.

This can prove problematic since there are literally two sides of this issue. On one hand, this proposal will not sit well with most EU countries, particularly Britain, considering the Investigatory Powers Act along with the Brexit will make this ban all the more unlikely.

On the other hand, groups like the UK privacy charity Privacy International doesn’t think the proposal went far enough. Privacy International’s legal officer Tomaso Falchetta had explained that Privacy hopes to see tech companies pre-place privacy protective settings in the devices, to prevent others from accessing that information.

However, some EU members have argued that these encrypted online devices can be safe havens for terrorists, considering that the governments, and the companies that made them cannot read them.

Regardless, the proposal will soon head to the EU Council, where it will be reviewed by other members of the European Council. The European Union Proposals have to be approved by the MEPS and reviewed by the European Council before the amendment can pass.

Money Now + Beyond

3 significant ways refugees are helping the Italian economy thrive

In 2016, over 176,000, asylum-seekers reached Italy’s shores. More than 76,873 migrants arrived in Italy since January, and more than 12,000 boats of migrants reached Italy over two days a few weeks ago.

In response, Italy is considering closing its harbors to humanitarian refugee rescue ships. But shouldn’t Italy welcome refugees instead?

From an ethical standpoint, the answer is obviously ‘yes’. Yet many worry that how high numbers refugees into the country will negatively affect the economy. On a recent visit to Italy, I asked a friend what his view on refugees was. ‘I am not in favor,’ he says. ‘We already have so much unemployment here: refugees just make things worse.’

Those who wish to welcome refugees often reply that one must welcome refugees for ethical reasons, even if that means threatening the economy.

Both sides of the debate have bought into the idea that refugees aren’t helpful to the economy, and debate the question of whether we should help them anyway. Yet, data show that refugees are not, in fact, a burden on the economy. Economy and ethics are pointing exactly in the same direction here.

1. Refugees are boosting the economy.

Studies by the Leone Montessa Foundation show that immigration is saving Italy’s finances. Refugees and immigrants might be unemployed in the very short term (who doesn’t need a moment to settle?) but they soon become a stimulus to the economy. In 2015, immigrants generated almost as much revenue as FIAT, Italy’s car manufacturing company, providing a net gain to the economy of 4 billion euros.

Studies by Prof. Alexander Betts, director of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, show that the impact of refugees alone on the economy is either equivalent to or greater than the impact of other immigrants because of the high proportion of skilled workers among refugees.

2. Refugees are saving Italy’s welfare state.

Refugees are also saving Italy’s aging population. The country has the lowest birth-rate in the EU, and a high percentage of millennials moving abroad (I am one of them, actually). Asylum-seekers, on average, are young and provide new tax-paying workforce.

Taxpayers, for Italy, are vital. They subsidize pensions and public services. Bluntly put, the fact that Italy’s birth-rate is declining implies that the country needs refugees and immigrants to pay pensions of soon to be retired Italians.

Alas, upon arrival, refugees often get offered only illegal jobs. A Nigerian asylum-seeker friend tells me that when he first arrived in Italy he could only harvest tomatoes illegally: ‘I was paid 3 euros per cassone [a huge cassette, of half a meter cube capacity, nda]. When tomatoes weren’t abundant, it was difficult to fill even 3 cassoni a day.’

The irony is that by giving asylum-seekers legal and properly paid jobs, they would subsidize our pensions and welfare state even more. In 2015, more than 600,000 Italian citizens received their pensions thanks to migrants’ social security contributions. If most working migrants could work legally, these numbers would be even more substantial – probably in a significant way, given Italy’s tax-evasion problem.

3. Refugees can help Italians preserve workers’ rights.

Italy’s working-class won important victories in the 80s; decent minimum wage, holidays and social assistance, among other things. Will a workforce swollen by Italy’s refugee intake erode some of these successes?

Not necessarily, and certainly not because of refugees.

As we have seen, legal work by refugees and immigrants stimulates the economy and support Italy’s welfare state. It follows that under the right conditions, immigrants are a crucial component in sustaining, rather than dismantling, workers’ rights. Any future weakening of workers’ rights would be made despite the presence of refugees in the workforce, not because of it.

Those who plan to lower worker’s wages upon the arrival or refugees are scape-goating and exploiting them for the sake of their own profit. But these profits are at odds with the interests of everyone else: refugees’, other workers’, and the interest of any Italian who benefits from Italy’s welfare state.

But then refugees could become allies, rather than potential dangers, in the fight for the preservation of workers’ rights.

So what can be done to integrate refugees?

Betts emphasizes that when refugees have work opportunities, access to capital, and education, they also have the greatest economic impact. Long-term economic benefits partly rely on successful integration policies.

In Italy, integration currently relies mostly on local measures. Some are impressive.

Trento, my hometown, has the Welcome Project (Progetto Accoglienza). Social workers pair up mentally-ill people with asylum-seekers and give them a home to share. Nicola Pedergnana, who came up with the idea, tells me that ‘the results are just incredible. A refugee does not judge the person she takes care of. She befriends them.’ The project currently has a 90% success rate.  Trento University also has a project to give refugees access to higher education.

In the south, dying Italian towns are also coming back to life thanks to refugees. The town of Riace adopted this repopulation plan first. A third of its current citizens are immigrants, and the town is alive and thriving again. Refugees also stepped up to help rebuild post-earthquake towns like Amatrice (the hometown of pasta all’amatriciana).

For sure, these examples of integration are not enough. But at least they tell us that integration is possible, and making it happen worth it.

Tech Now + Beyond

What the election result means for your money as a millennial

The election ended in a hung parliament, where no party had the 326 seats needed to get an overall majority in the House of Commons. While Theresa May remains prime minister, her snap election backfired and there was a glimmer of hope for the British public.

What changed the political landscape was the high turnout of young people. A report by the National Union of Students revealed 72% of people aged 18-24 voted in the general election, particularly for the Labour party.

It is not surprising the party received the most votes from the demographic. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign focused on young people – a key manifesto pledge being to scrap tuition fees. The ultimate legend in British politics.

Despite not winning the election, the overall result was better than expected. But what does it actually mean for your money as a millennial? Is it possible to achieve life milestones like buying a house within the next five years?

The biggest surprise from the result was the crash and fall of the pound, but not for long. The uncertainty of a hung parliament meant the sterling suffered a hit and dropped by 2% overnight.

The cost of summer breaks abroad could be impacted by the result and the pound drop. Financial website This Is Money reported people are likely to see that their money doesn’t go far this year compared to last.

The risk of being short on spending money even caused an urge of anxiety for those lucky enough to visit the French Riviera. However by the time a hung parliament was confirmed, the pound had risen from €1.14 and $1.28. I guess we can save ourselves the embarrassment of counting our pennies.

The majority of young people aged 18-24 will be affected the most by the rise of tuition fees. The government already planned for fees to rise to £9,250, and this seems unlikely to change.

Tuition fees have been an area under scrutiny since the last general election, but nothing has changed. There has been little support for young people from the government (apart from the man himself, Corbyn) to help them thrive in wider society.

First they decided to remove maintenance grants for the poorer students, now they are trying to bleed us dry. Hundreds of thousands of millennials starting their working lives have an average of £44,000 debt, and maybe a whole lot more if the fee continues to spike.

It is important to remain vigilant about how the result may affect your money. It may seem unlikely to happen anytime soon, but it is possible to achieve life milestones whether you’re planning your first holiday or buying a house.

Millennials have been trashed for having an inability to manage and save money, but we understand how fundamental it is. It is the only way to be able to afford houses and cars in the future.

Things could change from now until the next general election so keep an eye on your money and savings.  You could either find yourself in a stable financial situation or struggling to scrape together a deposit for a one bedroom flat.

USA World News The World

Syria Gas Attack, Bill O’Reilly, and Russia: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines of the week to keep you on top of things.

1. North Carolina wins over Gonzaga in the NCAA

On Monday, North Carolina won the 6th NCAA Championship with a 71-65 win over Gonzaga. The victory literally came down to the very last second, with Justin Jackson delivering the final, winning 3-point play only 1 minute and 40 seconds before the final buzzer.

2. Deadly St. Petersburg, Russia train blast

This week in Moscow, Russia, a bomb was set off in two locations of public transportations. One woman said that she saw someone throw a bag in one of the train cars. 11 people on the train were killed and many still missing. The explosion occurred during the Russian president’s visit to his hometown. As of right  now,  the source of the bomb is  unconfirmed but an investigation is under way.

3. Neil Gorsuch’s nomination heads to the Senate

As Neil Gorsuch’s nomination heads to the Senate, we should know what to expect in terms of his ideologies, as they may very well be affecting daily American life. Gorsuch is known for his extremely hostile feelings towards Planned Parenthood primarily because of the abortion services Planned Parenthood offers (although that is only a small percent of the women’s health services they offer and by no means their primary purpose, meaning that Gorsuch wants to eliminate abortion essentially more than he wants to provide healthcare in general for women).

It is probable that he will work to overturn Roe v. Wade. He has also stated his belief that employers should not be required to provide employees with contraceptive coverage if doing so interferes with their religious beliefs, putting religion above the health-related rights of female employees. In addition to voting in favor of decisions that undermine women’s rights and employee rights, Gorsuch can be expected to fail to prioritize the rights and needs of people with disabilities, as well as civil rights in general.

4. Mudslides in Colombia

Heavy rainstorms in Colombia this week were the unfortunate impetus for powerful mudslides in the southwestern region of the country. Torrential downpours, coupled with floating debris, upheaved neighborhoods, have left over 273 and counting dead. Over 300 people are missing in the city of Mocoa, with local forces working as quickly as they can to launch efforts to find survivors.

5. James Rosenquist passes away

James Rosenquist passed away at 83 this past Friday in New York City. Rosenquist was, and will continue to be, widely renowned for his immense contributions to the early Pop Art movement. Pop Art can be defined as combining or juxtaposing fine art values with mass media and modern popular culture, often to make some kind of social or political commentary.

Rosenquist’s life was a vivid testament to the value of breaking away from the norm and embracing change; his art, although ill-received initially as it strayed away from the traditionalism of the early 60’s, inspired and gave way to today’s greatest Pop Artists: Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Rosenquist was also known for the sheer size, scale and boldness of his pieces, many of which covered billboards that loomed over places like Times Square.

6. Syria chemical gas attack


In Syria, many are dying from the toxins of a chemical bomb. Many innocent lives were taken and some children are now left without their families. There are about 25 survivors being treated of the chemicals. A chemical bomb is not completely the reason, as of this moment, but many claimed they saw a bomb being dropped from a plane causing many to be killed from the chemicals.

7. New developments with Brexit


Today with the European Union, Britain has voted for the United Kingdom to be kicked out of the Union. The campaign began on June 23 of last year and was just confirmed of their victory on the campaign.

8. Egypt’s authoritarian leader is welcomed to the White House


Egypt’s authoritarian was welcomed at the White House by President Trump on the 3rd of April 2017. Trump emphasizes how great of a leader Sisi is, but he has done nothing but show ignorance towards his people, especially the women that reside there. The President also mentioned how he has similar tactics that the Egyptian authoritarian has towards his government.

9. Bill O’Reilly sexual assault allegations put Fox News in trouble again

In a vein similar to that of Fox News CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes stepping down amidst similar claims, The New York Times reported that five women were paid between 2002 and 2016, either by O’Reilly himself or Fox News, a collective $13 million to settle harassment allegations, agreeing not to pursue legal action or publicly discuss the incidents. Two of the women were former producers on Bill O’Reilly’s show, and the other there were former on-air personalities at Fox News and Fox Business Network. 4 of the 5 claims involved sexual harassment claims.

O’Reilly has not addressed the allegations on his show. He has only posted a statement on his website explaining that his fame made him a target for publicity stunts, and that no complaints have ever been filed to Fox News’ Human Resources department thus far, not even anonymously. In addition, 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, stated that O’Reilly”denies the claims, but has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility.

“Resolved” or paid off?

You decide.

Consequently, BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz have all pulled their advertisements from O’Reilly’s show.

10. Michael Flynn seeks immunity in exchange for testifying on Russia

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn served for a short amount of time as national security adviser to Donald Trump, before he was asked to resign due to allegations of ties to Russia, which were at the time confirmed by Trump, although the extent of the ties was not clear. Flynn is now is seeking immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying regarding the president’s ties to Russia, as reported by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Flynn’s attorney has stated only that “discussions have taken place” with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, but that is all the information that is been released to the public for now.

Until next week!

Race The World Inequality

Learning to be a real ally can be more painful than you think

How To Be An Ally’ is a short, animated video about being an ally to women of color. It is a simple clip, made for those close to us. By “us,” I am referring to myself and the fifty other women of color that I interviewed in order to create this video.

Although they now either live in Europe, the UK, or the US, these women have roots in: South Africa, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Bangladesh and the Caribbean.

Broadly speaking, this video targets people who already agree that racism, xenophobia and islamophobia suck. People that might share political articles on Facebook, or type away angry tweets about racist/xenophobic/islamophobic events, but will stay silent when someone says something as racist in public.

People that seem to truly desire change, yet don’t do anything about it. Because apparently – they just don’t know how.

Curious to know what people actually could do to help, I began to ask the women of color around me. The interviews asked about the struggles they face on a day to day basis on account of their racial, ethnic, religious and sexual identities, and who – if anyone supported them in dealing with these. If so, how did they do that? What does their ideal form of ally-ship look like?

As you could imagine, answers were extremely varied. Here are a few that stood out to me:

A French-Moroccan woman recounted being followed around by the police in stores when she tries to go shopping. A Thai woman in the UK spoke of how people often talk down to her as though she were a second-class citizen. An Indian woman in the US said that she had been laughed at (on several occasions, by grown adults) for saying her own name. Several Muslim women shared that they had been verbally abused and sometimes physically attacked in all of these countries for walking down the street in their hijab. A Kenyan woman that she was discriminated in university classrooms just for being black, and the list goes on, and on.

Carrying out these interviews was painful, to say the least. There were certainly times when I could relate to the rude comments and uncomfortable interactions the women spoke about. But it also highlighted my ignorance towards the struggles faced by minority groups that are not my own, myself being the daughter of well-off Iranian immigrants to the West.

It raised my awareness about issues that I would have formerly never considered. I was quite struck by how long I’d gone in my life without even considering for example the particular discrimination that East Asian women are subject to in the communities I navigate, or without thinking about how I’d never been an ally to queer women of color in my vicinity. With people around me constantly telling me to be grateful that things are not so bad, and with my own wishful thinking always operating at full force – these interviews were certainly a hard pill to swallow.

Eventually, I noted with every interview that the answers to the ally-ship questions, were pretty unanimous. The word “listen” was repeated to me, in fifty different voices.

Sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly, sometimes with a tone of urgency and deep frustration.

Other suggestions included the simple act of looking things up and educating oneself instead of making broad assumptions. There was a strong desire for people to speak up when they realize something isn’t right. Accompanied by a push for more tangible actions, such as signing petitions, protesting, fundraising and donating.

Check out the video for more details on what these women asked for, and apologies in advance for the cheesy background music.


Senior News & Society Editor Asma Elgamal launches Policy channel to face the new political era

2016 was a tough year. In looking at the global political landscape, 2016 presented us with events like Brexit and the Trump administration, propelling hate groups into mainstream platforms and frankly terrifying the hell out of some of us.

[bctt tweet=”In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Social activism hit a new high, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – all became tools to resist and to make our voices heard. But even that sometimes, isn’t enough. As horrific as it is, a lot of the awful things that have been happening are completely legal. It’s like Hydra has infiltrated the highest levels and we are playing a very tricky game of dismantling policies while pretending that evil isn’t currently reigning over us.

“In times like these, the most powerful thing we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge,” Elgamal noted.

Like most things governmental, policies are shrouded in technical language, used to make things complex and drawn out. Some policies and legislation are incredibly long and honestly, that kind of information is not appealing to read. Although it’s super important to know what laws govern us, who really has the time to go through all these new documents to ascertain what is going on?

It’s hard to speak out against something that we don’t really understand.

So to help us deal with the aftermath, Asma Elgamal, our Senior News & Society Editor at The Tempest decided to approach things in a different way, launching the Policy channel at The Tempest.

Elgamal said, “The sole purpose of this vertical is to target and help decipher laws and policies so that everyone knows exactly what is going on. The aim of this is so that it is easier to understand which policies affect you and what they set out to do. In turn, preparing us for doing whatever is necessary to combat these policies.” Read more about The Tempest’s Policy vertical here.

Race The World Inequality

Vogue, my rent money will not be going towards your ridiculous safety pin “solidarity” picks

I’ve seen a lot of White Feminist bullshit in my day, being a feminist who is white myself, but…damn. This just takes the cake.

You may have heard about the safety pin trend that’s going on. You’ve probably also heard how it’s at best a half assed attempt at being an ally.

Sorry for fucking you over yet again, people of color! I’ll put something shiny on my shirt so you know I’m one of the nice ones! Good luck existing!

But as if that wasn’t enough, Vogue just published a post titled “10 Ways to Wear Safety Pins Post-Election and Show Your Support”

It’s also a quiet, personal way to support your fellow Americans, especially if you’re tired of cruel Facebook posts or scrolling through upsetting memes on Instagram. You can easily fasten any safety pin to your favorite T-shirt or jacket, but there are also dozens of ready-made, sequin-embellished pieces on the market right now, from punk-ish jewelry to pinned-together dresses. Shop them all in the slideshow above, then put your money where your mouth is and take real action against the forces of hate.

It’s paired with a slideshow of safety pin fashion items, most of which probably cost the bulk of your rent, if not more.

I just…

For the world’s preeminent fashion magazine, Vogue, this was in extremely poor taste.

Before we get to the watered down bullshit excuse of support the whole safety pin thing has become (and we’ll be getting to that) are you REALLY going to use this as an opportunity to advertise overpriced jackets? REALLY?!

I mean, capitalism has always appropriated moral causes, that’s nothing new. Those Dove ads did not cure sexism, clearly. And sure, on the one hand, these are companies looking to make a profit and that’s what they’re doing with campaigns like that. But on the other hand, if the cultural conversation has shifted enough that corporations think being more progressive will get them more customers? That’s pretty good.

But that’s not what you’re doing here, Vogue. You’re not calling attention to an issue. You aren’t illuminating anything. You’re getting on the bandwagon with an easy gimmick.

Sure, there’s that throwaway line about “taking real action,” but are these companies donating the profits from these items to charities that work to help the environment or any of the many people who have reason to fear a Trump administration? Are you donating anything, Vogue? Are you taking any “real action”?

I get that people want to help. They want to show support. Even if they don’t run across a hate crime in progress, they want to communicate their solidarity. Chances are they’re feeling bad because they didn’t take a bolder stance earlier.

But you know what, fellow white people? Sometimes you just have to feel shitty for a while. We don’t deserve an easy out, here. People of color are damn well within their constantly diminishing rights to feel reticent to trust us, and that’s not something that started November 8th. If you see a woman in a headscarf shoot you a nervous look, you remind yourself that we all deserve that, and you sit with that feeling.

That feeling like you’ve done something wrong. You have. We all have.

You don’t earn permanent righteousness after you turn 18. In moments like these, we need to learn a lesson like we’re kids who broke a plate playing ball in the house. Because it’s more than Grandma’s china that’s at stake here, it’s people’s lives.

So no thank you, Vogue, I don’t think I need a single earring that somehow costs over $1,000 to “show my support.” I need to consistently act and work to build equal rights and protect the people who are about to be in even more danger than usual.

USA Gender & Identity Politics The World Policy

You don’t need to be a bigot or nationalist to celebrate 4th of July

The 4th of July brings fireworks, cookouts, and ponderings on whose independence we’re celebrating if you’re like me. Either way, it’s celebrated as America’s birthday of sorts. With that, American flags are seen in every corner and patriotism come into focus.

George Carlin once said, “Pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth.” I tend to agree with him, even as I clutch the trinkets of my homeland closer to my chest during moments of nostalgia.

In itself, pride can be a great thing.

Take the reactive pride of the LGBTQ community for example, who use it as a tool to reaffirm their existence and demand their rights. Even when I hear, “Proud to Be an American,” and cringe as I mentally list the atrocities committed by the United States throughout history, I understand it. Patriotism is a powerful sentiment that fosters brotherhood and a sense of community between people.

When patriotism, however, turns a blind eye to injustice, it becomes ugly. Its product, nationalism, is a very different beast.

The words are often used interchangeably in the media without thought for clarification. Patriotism can be simply defined as a love for one’s country. It’s healthy pride. Like what listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat does to you.

On the other hand, nationalism is the belief that one’s country is superior. Through believing in your country’s superiority, a dichotomy emerges in which every other country is inferior and in direct competition.

That tribal “us” vs “them” mentality is dangerous because it clouds the ability to adequately judge your country’s actions unbiasedly. Facts stop mattering as long as you’re doing or at least trying to be better than everyone else. When you have the hype of being “the greatest country in the world,” this becomes almost second nature.

Another George, of the Orwell variety this time, goes further into this in his “Notes on Nationalism.” He argues that nationalists think “in terms of competitive prestige,” whose thoughts are on “victories, defeats, triumphs, and humiliations.”

Those who’ve heard Donald Drumpf chant the word “winning” in speeches as if he’s Charlie Sheen in 2011 will find this all too familiar.

Nationalism is usually written off as exuberant patriotism, but evidence points otherwise.

It’s been a fast-growing and worrisome political trend in the past decade throughout Europe and the United States. Greece’s Golden Dawn Party came in with the third most votes during their last elections and Austria’s Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer almost won, with 49.7% of the vote. His political platform includes putting “Austria First” by building a fence on the southern border and stopping “the invasion of Muslims.”

(Does this sound familiar?)  

And then there’s Brexit, fueled by the hyper-paranoia of being colonized in turn like they’ve done to others for centuries. The fallout from this decision will affect generations to come, but in the minds of those who chose to Leave, at least their fate is in their hands.

The connection between nationalism and hate cannot be stressed enough. Nationalism is used as a scapegoat when discretely trying to evoke and perpetuate racism, sexism, and other forms of systematic oppression. In the Leave campaign, one of their main promises that galvanized voters was “controlling the borders” and stopping other EU citizens from “taking their jobs.”

In the days after the vote, hate crimes skyrocketed.

One doesn’t have to look so far though. Even in the “melting pot” of the United States, when people shout to “take their country back” and to “Make America Great Again” they mean to do so from the perceived threat that is people of color. The freedom of speech they feel is policed is their inability to discriminate freely without issue.  When white supremacy has always been the norm, equality feels like tyranny.

Coming from a country with limited freedom of speech, I am grateful to live in a place that allows me to voice my opinions without fear. Nevertheless, that will not silence me and allow me to turn a blind eye to my country’s most glaring problems.

If you really wanted to see progress, you wouldn’t be a nationalist.