Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Tattoo's Election 2008 coverage

Here are the stories from The Tattoo's November 3, 2008 issue, devoted to coverage of the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday, Nov. 4:



The Oprah vote (Australia)

Yes We Can (Italy)

Plus see our coverage from earlier in the campaign:

Teens at a Hartford rally for Barack Obama: (left to right) Abigail Oliveras, Devin Smith, Theresa Govert, Amanda Smith, all from East Haddam, Conn.

Photos by The Tattoo

The Oprah vote

By Alex Patrikios

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA – It's been a campaign season of teenage pregnancies, Oprah, a plumber named Joe (who isn’t even a plumber), dancing competitions on Ellen, beige pantsuits, Colin Powell crossing-but-not-really-crossing the floor, a pro-drilling beauty queen, fundamentalist Christian rants and hefty haute couture bills.

Some people like watching cricket or tennis, but to me, American politics is the very best kind of spectator sport.

Numerous fascinating parallels can be drawn between Australia and America, and on behalf of the politically apathetic Antipodes, I must say, the United States sure knows how to mix business with pleasure.

Personal lives, characters and familial relations are all put on the line for a vote, and in a war of words, there’s a preordained quota of sound-bites for any one candidate.

And then came Hurricane Palin. A fake-tanned spitfire with more sap than sass, the gun-toting Alaskan governor initially injected some much-needed “pah-zazz” to Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign.

There was the boost in the popularity polls, with some commentators proclaiming Palin as a major drawing card for straggling Hillary Clinton supporters – as if to suggest that a common wardrobe allows for major policy differences to be completely skirted over, pardon the pun.

The Democrats couldn’t touch her without being labeled sexist, and unable to play hardball, Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden were walking on rhetorical eggshells.

Meanwhile, Palin herself was enjoying the heads-up, as Obama’s supposed lenient stance on terrorism and Russia were defiled by the vice-presidential nominee with fervent ferocity. If only her aim had been as accurate as it was when she downed that Alaskan moose – the remarks proved costly, with more bark than bite from the ‘pitbull.’

Before long, the honeymoon was over, and thanks in part to the deft comedic stylings of Tina Fey, Palin’s true right-wing potential was uncomfortably exposed.

Her attacks on the ‘Washington elite’ media set proved foolish, as her selective televised interviews providing adequate fodder for public relations attacks, and despite allusions to her being assorted livestock with make-up (dogs, pigs, the whole barn…), Palin couldn’t keep up the momentum.

McCain, meanwhile, was lingering in the shadows of his controversial running-mate, and failing to connect. Debates with Obama illustrated his inability to persuasively represent his own policies, as the most recent encounter between the two revealed the Democratic nominee’s most used work as ‘think,’ and his Republican counterpart’s as ‘Obama.’

The essential sentiment of each campaign was effectively epitomized by the verbal trends – Obama’s pro-change slogans are striking a chord, whilst McCain languishes behind unsubstantiated personal critiques.

Blinkered and exceedingly outdone by his finessed rival, McCain’s campaign has also been hampered by the metaphorical elephant in the room – the form of cancer the aging candidate had has a high rate of relapse and short-term recovery period, so in effect, a vote for McCain really could make the first female American president.

And citing Russia as an antagonistic neighbor, it seems Palin might be too much Cold War iron maiden for the moderate majority.

So, all that remains is for Obama to convert Virginia and his popularity polls into electoral votes, and cartoonists of the world will have a new plaything.

Forget relevant policies and sound political insight – I swear the best endorsement a candidate can receive is the Oprah vote.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

Careful with that vote!

By Brice Birdsall

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

Portland, Ore., U.S.A – How do you make the right choice when selecting a presidential candidate to control your life for the next four years?

You could listen to the debates or compare your values, but for me, it is so much more than politics.

It is taking part in history, taking part in what our forefathers created for us, giving us the free will to choose the leaders of this nation.

That, my friends, is the most patriotic thing we can do.

The danger in this is trust. We don't know if what Barack Obama or John McCain is saying will happen.

We often forget the power propaganda can have over our opinions. We must be careful to look in every corner to find any hidden liars before casting a vote.

Even though I am several years away from voting, it still means a lot to me.

So those of you that can vote, you have the power to choose who is in office. Please don't make the wrong decision.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

Jamaican teens support Obama

By Tamari Miller and Jason Lofters

Junior reporters

Youth Journalism International

St. Ann’s Bay, JAMAICA – As the U.S. presidential election comes to a head, there is excitement stirring among many young Jamaicans over the prospect of a victory by Sen. Barack Obama.

In recent interviews, teenagers in the Jamaican parishes of Clarendon, St. Mary and St. Catherine in essence expressed the same views.

Quite a few Jamaican teenagers are buying into Obama’s message of change.

Tomorrow, United States voters will decide who they want to lead them out of their crises and into the prosperity the future holds.

Jamaicans may not have a say in their decision but they surely will be affected by it. Whatever the results though, many teenagers in Jamaicans support Obama.

Anthony Hooper, 16, of Clarendon, emphatically said Obama will win the election on Tuesday.

If Obama wins, “it would prove that the world has finally moved past racial segregation,” said Hooper, an 11th grade student at Cornwall College High School.

Obama’s plans are by far superior to and more practical than those of his rival, Sen. John McCain, said 18-year-old Tiffany Hedge of St. Catherine.

It is a reality that people are mortal,” said Hedge, a post-graduate student at St. Mary High. “Should John McCain take over and loses his life – God forbid – Sarah Palin will have to take over. She was a poor vice-presidential candidate choice from the start as she hasn’t a clue what is going on.”

Asked how they thought the results of the election would affect Jamaica and its economy, the youth all pointed to the current economic crisis and said they see Obama as the only hope for ensuring that Jamaica and other Caribbean territories are spared the effects of the disaster.

Maybe as president he will forgive some of Jamaica’s debt to the US,” said Janeth Diggs-White, 17, of Clarendon, who is a post-graduate student at Glenmuir High School.

Eighteen-year-old Levaughn Simpson of Clarendon, also a post-graduate student attending Glenmuir, takes this view a step further.

If Obama wins, there might be some hope for Jamaica due to the increase in business,” Simpson said, “which could mean an increase in employment for Jamaican-Americans, which would equate to an increase in remittances, maybe foreign visitors and overseas investors even.”

And Kerry-Ann Shadeed, 18, of St. Mary who is a post-graduate student at St. Mary High School, passionately shared Simpson’s view.

According to a recent article in the Jamaica Observer, the teens are in synch with the rest of their country. The newspaper reported that 95 percent of Jamaicans support Obama, a Democratic senator from Chicago.

This story was written by Youth Journalism International students and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

Young voters need a lesson on the candidates

By Sarah Heath

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Spring City, Tennessee, U.S.A. – This is an election that will go down in American history. If U.S. Senator Barack Obama wins, he will become the first African American president, and if Senator John McCain wins, his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will become the first woman vice-president.

It is also an important election because the economy is in trouble and it is crucial that we choose the candidate that will best help our economic situation.

Who are you going to vote for?”

This question has been coming up a lot recently. Though I am a high school senior, I will not be old enough to vote in the coming election, but this has been a hot topic in many conversations with my classmates.

Even though I will not be able to vote, I do have my opinions on this election. Many people seem to take the privilege of voting for granted. I have been disappointed by some of things that I have heard some of my classmates say.

The other day I overheard a student say, “I'm voting for Obama, because McCain looks like a rat.”

I asked him if he seriously thought that was a justifiable reason to vote for the candidate, and he simply said, “Yes.” He didn't know anything about McCain – he just didn't like what he looked like.

He didn't have much more knowledge of Obama's views, and this was the candidate he said would get his vote. The one thing he did know was one of Obama's energy plans, but he even had those facts wrong. He said that under Obama’s plan, everyone would have a hybrid car in 10 years.

In reality, Obama’s plan calls for a million hybrid cars on the road by 2015. This proves that you need to research each candidate, and don't go by just word of mouth.

Another bizarre thing I heard a students say was, “I am voting for McCain, because Obama is the Anti-Christ.”

I am not bashing religious views, but isn't that judgment of a person? There is no reason to make such accusations, and there is even less reason to vote for another candidate just because a rumor like “Obama is the Anti-Christ” is going around.

I have also heard, “I'm going to vote for Obama, because he has charisma.” Charisma is good, but it’s not everything. Voting for someone just because they have charisma makes the presidential elections sound like a silly homecoming election.

Voters should learn as much as they can about each candidate, and vote according to whose views they like the best; if the candidate happens to have charisma, that's just an added bonus.

These are, obviously, not good reasons to vote or not vote for a candidate. Does it really matter what the president looks like? Is charisma more important than the issues that the candidates are for or against?

Young voters need to learn the views and beliefs of the candidates. They do not need to go off of rumors or word of mouth alone.

I believe that more focus should be put on educating young voters on the candidates. Their votes count, and I do not believe that all of them know enough to choose a candidate properly.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

For peace and stability, choose Obama

By Edrees Kakar

Senior reporter

Youth Journalism International

Kabul, AFGHANISTAN – Although I have the solid belief that politics are always unpredictable and politicians often unbelievable, when there are choices on the table, it is still possible to differentiate between candidates and pick the best one.

Since the United States of America is one of the biggest nations in the world, with economic and political dominance all around the globe, people everywhere are watching its upcoming presidential election with interest.

They want to know who the American people will send to the White House for the next four years – Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain.

Considering the ongoing involvement of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s current government, which is mainly aided by America and its allies, I think the presidential election is a serious event which will in some ways determine the future of Afghanistan.

Both candidates have shown their commitment towards supporting Afghanistan, but I think the promises and speeches made by Obama have been more straight and solid for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He supports using diplomacy as the first choice for foreign policy.

Obama also understands that the war in Iraq was ridiculous and focused the U.S. government’s attention more seriously there rather than in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has been more vulnerable than Iraq and needs remarkable attention to tackle the ongoing crisis before it’s too late.

Obama understands that bloodshed and fighting is not the ultimate solution for eradicating terrorism. Instead, diplomacy can be a vital tool for the resolution of the terrorism dilemma.

Also, Obama is giving more importance to the current economic crisis in the U.S. and the world, while McCain’s continues to insist on more involvement in Iraq and possibly with Iran.

I see other good reasons to support Obama that I find lacking in McCain.

Obama has already experienced struggles and poverty in his life and understands how important it is to reduce poverty, not only among America’s poorest families, but hopefully around the world.

He takes the health care issues seriously and wants to bring reforms and developments for better health services to his people.

He is even concerned about global warming, which is a threat to the world’s population.

For me, all the issues he takes seriously and the policies he promises to begin show that he loves humanity and gives more priority to people and the unifying of humanity around the world.

And choosing Obama as the next U.S. president, and the country’s first black president, would assure equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of ethnic differences.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

Politics – Nothing and everything about color?

By Rebecca Baylis

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

Perth, AUSTRALIA – Today, as I was listening to the radio on the way to my morning lecture, I heard of the latest plan to take the life of Barack Obama – in his final week of campaigning for the U.S. presidency.

You may ask why a 19-year-old Australian would care about the forerunner in this American election. Why should I care? Why should I take such an interest in the possible assassination of the presidential hopeful?

Why should I be concerned with who the next person is to claim possession of the White House?

Well, it’s simple, really. The history of the United States of America is the history of us all. Maybe not entirely, but each nation in this world is united – whether in alliance or defiance – to America’s history, actions, and beliefs.

Some people, many people, in fact, believe that the word “America” is synonymous with ruination of equality, democracy, and peace.

I do not believe this. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the global financial crisis, even political corruption are not unequivocally the doing of America.

Each nation plays its part in the global theatre. Sometimes lines are forgotten and roles re-written and re-cast, but no nation is a slave to America’s seemingly lead role.

So let’s stop playing the blame game, shall we?

I may not be a citizen of America – I may never be – but I find that ignorance never constitutes bliss; it only attracts trouble and nuisance.

I would rather be educated in the history and politics of arguably the greatest nation in the world (personally I’d rank Australia way up there, too) than be ignorant of it.

Why would I wish to live in a world which I don’t understand?

That’s why I turned up the volume of my radio this morning.

So an assassination plot, huh?

As I understand the situation, two individuals in Tennessee, white supremacists I believe, had planned not only to kill a man who is making political history, but also had planned to rampage a mostly African-American school and kill as many people as they could find.

Does this boil down to an issue of race?

Of course it does. I would love to have faith that I live in a world that does not have such a significant and unyielding divide between those of differing races. I would like to feel as though the entire world believes in equality in the truest essence of the word.

But as I’ve already said, I’m not that ignorant.

Unfortunately I doubt that the color of one’s skin will ever entirely cease to be cause for division. Black or white, light or dark, Aboriginal or Caucasian – for every person who sees beyond color, sees mankind as equal, there are others who will never see anything but distinct color.

This saddens me.

America’s Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008, will be a defining day in world history regardless of the outcome.

It is true that civilization has taken a magnificent leap in recognizing an African-American’s right to stand and run for the presidency. It will be an even greater leap if Obama is elected, and I hope that he is.

I want the people of this world to look upon a leader as an individual fit to be a leader, no matter his skin color.

When it comes down to the ability to guide a nation through rough times and face some of the world’s most inescapable problems, all that matters is that the suitable individual is in office and doing a respectable job of it.

I hope Barack Obama will be written into the history books as that individual. I have faith in his abilities, his upbringing, and his beliefs.

I hope in time that supremacy of race will fade into the history books just as Shakespeare’s Don John, Lago, and all other villains of great plays.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

Yes we can

By Eugenia Durante

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

Genoa, ITALY – I’ve been asking my friends about the U.S. presidential election for ages, and all this time, they’ve given just one name as an answer: Barack Obama.

The reasons they gave me for standing on the Democratic candidate’s side were many, but I can basically summarize them in one word: change.

People need change. People now truly believe in change.

Obama is not just giving promises – he has been able to ask people to believe.
In the maxim, “Yes we can,” people get really involved. “We” becomes “us.” We can change, if we all want to.

When you see Obama speaking, first of all you see a man. You see a man who is trying to have contact with the people he is talking to, a man who really wants change and needs your help.

As an Italian, I am not directly involved in the American presidential election. I can’t vote for Obama, but I can feel that all around the world we need what he represents: novelty, change and hope.

Young people want a new world, a better world.

We are tired of being represented by people who always give promises and never perform them. We want stability for our future in a world that does not guarantee this at all. 

Someone may say Obama is not the solution.

Maybe not, but he may be the start.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

Voting under the influence

By Katie Grosser

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

GERMANY – Generally, I would say I am interested in politics. As a young American living abroad in Germany, I want our country to be led by people who know what they are doing.

I’d like these people to somehow find a way to end the financial crisis. I’d like them to improve America’s image oversees. I’d like them to finish the job in Afghanistan and Iraq properly. I’d like them to take global warming seriously and finally sign the Kyoto Protocol – and I would love them to be able to handle a crisis as well as Bill Pullman in Independence Day, or Harrison Ford in Air Force One.

So when I received my absentee ballot, I went over everything I know about John McCain and Barack Obama and realized that, truth be told, it was not much.

I can honestly not say which of the two would be better for our country. I cannot say which of the two would be more able to fill that blank space reserved for “President” in my mind – a hazy image filled mostly with ideals and good actors doing good jobs in good movies.

But how to get to know my two newly proclaimed best friends?

My name is Katie, not Joe, and I’m a high school student, not a plumber, so I guess I’ll have to watch TV instead of talking to the candidates personally.

Here in Germany, the only international station we get is CNN International and I do spend a lot of time listening to the pundits’ analysis of the candidates.

I read the papers, German and American. I read Time magazine religiously. And still I get the feeling that the media, no matter how unbiased they claim to be, all are biased in some way and we never really truly get to see the “true” candidates.

We are always influenced. Whether by the media, our parents, our teachers or our friends, we can never really escape it.

I could read their platform online, but I have to admit that I don’t have the time, don’t have the attention span and really don’t believe that they worked that all out themselves. They have advisors to do that for them. I could watch the presidential debates, but I simply just understand too little about politics to know if what they are saying is good or bad beyond what others say about it and the intuitive feeling in my gut.

And, eventually, that is all it really comes down to for me. A feeling.

And so as my black pen hovered between the little oval next to McCain and the little oval next to Obama, I closed my eyes and tried to forget the political aspects, the religious aspects, and the racial aspects.

I tried to see the picture as a whole. I feel strongly about America and its image in the world. I feel strongly about certain issues in this campaign.

But I just don’t feel strongly about either one of the two candidates. There are issues upon which I agree with Obama and issues upon which I agree with McCain. And the truth is, I could live with either one of them living in the White House.

So, finally, I confined myself to, what to me, living abroad in Germany and therefore not as directly influenced by domestic political decisions as most of my fellow Americans, is the most important issue – namely the United State’s international image.

I want America’s reputation to drastically improve in Europe and I want people to speak of America without mentioning all its faults but rather praising its good traits and achievements.

That’s when I opened my eyes and, not free of the influence but at least knowing that I am under the influence, so to speak, cast my vote.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.

U.S. election will be felt as far away as South Africa

By Mariechen Puchert

Junior reporter

Youth Journalism International

East London, Eastern Cape, SOUTH AFRICA – You would think that with our own presidential elections looming, South Africans would be to busy to occupy themselves with the goings-on of the American presidential elections. It turns out you would be wrong.

At present, the South African government holds rallies encouraging youth to register as voters, President Thabo Mbeki has been ousted and became ex-President Mbeki, Mbeki-supporters in the African National Congress rush to form a breakaway party and the media is riddled with stories of corruption and violence preceding our elections.

South African citizens have decided that coverage of presidential debates and polls – thousands of kilometers across the ocean – make for a more relaxing read.

The overriding thought among South Africans is that U.S. Senator Barack Obama is the only way to go. Even at my girls’ only school, the girls were rooting for Obama when he was up against U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton.

Coming to that conclusion is not difficult, but analyzing the reasoning is more complicated.

I should clear up at this point that I would vote for Obama by a process of elimination. That is, I do not approve of the other candidate’s policies nor those of his party, and Obama remains as the lesser evil, albeit a charismatic, laid-back one.

A common phrase going around regarding Obama is that he will “bring change.” Although nobody claiming this could define to me exactly which change or how this would be brought about, we live with the knowledge that despite the changes regarding the global economy, “When America sneezes, the whole world catches cold.”

Whether it be right or wrong, the majority of African nations see the U.S. as a kind of savior.

The disturbances in the Middle East, the dollar’s strength, the price of petrol or gas, the Kyoto protocol and pharmaceutical patents of Antiretroviral medication … America has done great things for the international community, but these are issues which matter to the developing world.

And the developing world seems to believe that Obama is the leader who can tackle them head-on.

A more superficial, yet probable explanation for South Africa’s support of Obama is his race. It is to be remembered that the South African population is more than 90 percent non-white and that the legacy of Apartheid is riddled with leaders who were old, gray, conservative and unmistakably white.

It may be a policy based on unfair racial stereotypes, but colonialism and Apartheid have left the majority of Africans with a deep-rooted fear of white elected leaders.

McCain may have the experience and wisdom of years on his side, but Obama has the younger generations who are tired of being governed by old men who seem out of touch with what ‘the people’ need.

Only time will tell whether this belief is misconstrued, but it is indubitable that the results of these elections will resound even to this very southern point of Africa. And then, alack, we will have to return our attention to our own candidates.

This story was written by a Youth Journalism International student and published by The Tattoo International Teen Newspaper.