Digitized data, harvest season, and clocks: relatable news from the world

Published 4:03 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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Here are a few things going on with our neighbors around the world right now, according to stories from the Associated Press:

Perhaps the biggest news story “across the pond” at the moment is the quick resignation of UK Prime Minister Liz Truss after only seven weeks in office. Rishi Sunak stepped into the role after her, becoming the country’s third prime minister this year. Like the US, the UK is also struggling with inflation woes that Sunak will try to get under control. Only time will tell if he’s capable of succeeding. If he doesn’t get booed out of office like Truss and Boris Johnson before her, Sunak’s term is supposed to last until the end of 2024. Good luck to him, I suppose!

Speaking of not having confidence in the government, Japanese officials are currently trying to get citizens to switch over to their new digital IDs called “My Number” which is an initiative that assigns numbers to people, similar to Social Security that we have here. The new IDs, among other things, will replace the old public health insurance cards, meaning that people who don’t switch are eventually going to have trouble accessing their health insurance.

But many people, particularly those who prefer conducting business in a more old-fashioned low-tech way, are still wary about signing up. Those interviewed for the story cited fraud potential and government data leaks as some of the reasons why they don’t want to make the switch. Also, despite the switch to My Number being a way to digitize more information, the process of actually switching is apparently very time-consuming and full of forms that must be mailed back to the office. I can see why they wouldn’t want to deal with that headache.

Over in Mexico, the country’s Senate recently approved eliminating daylight saving time in a 59-25 vote (though 12 members didn’t vote at all). All that’s left now is the presidential signature and then the law will take effect on Oct. 30. Proponents of the change said that the time change damages people’s health, but opponents argued that now there will be less daylight in the afternoon, cutting out opportunities to exercise for people. So I guess, there’s really no consensus on how daylight saving time affects everyone, right?

There will be a few cities and towns along the US border that are exceptions to the new law, meaning that they can keep switching their clocks like their American neighbors. By the way, our daylight saving time is scheduled for November 6 this year. I know I’ll be enjoying that extra hour of sleep (and then cursing that lost hour next Spring).

Workers in Egypt should expect an increase in the minimum monthly wage, which was announced this week by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly. That monthly minimum is expected to rise from 2,700 Egyptian pounds ($137) to 3,000 pounds ($152). It’s the fourth increase since 2014, and government officials agreed on this raise because, like many others in the world, Egypt is also facing financial and economic troubles that can be traced back to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Inflation is on the rise there as well. The wage increase is expected to ease some burdens on Egyptians right now. I think many of us here at home can understand how that feels too.

Many farmers, both locally and around the world, are busy harvesting their crops this time of year. Zimbabwe in particular is looking to bring in their largest wheat harvest in the country’s history with a total of 380,000 tons expected when its done. Like several other African countries that have relied in the past on imports, Zimbabwe was affected by the war in Ukraine cutting off their access to one of their biggest sources of the crop. That’s when the country’s agriculture department began encouraging an increase in local production, particularly by supporting small farmers, improving water infrastructure, and distributing more fertilizer.

The results have been fantastic so far. There are worries, however, that bush fires and approaching rains will ruin all that hard work before the harvest finishes in December. Climate change has made both those threats increasingly worse each year. Growing up on a farm myself, I know how devastating it is to be at the mercy of the weather. Hopefully, the good conditions hold out long enough for the farmers in Zimbabwe, and for the ones here at home too.

And lastly, for the first time in New Zealand’s history, there are more women in parliament than men after the recent swearing-in of lawmaker Soraya Peke-Mason who replaced a male colleague who resigned to take an ambassador position elsewhere. While women only make up roughly 26 percent of lawmakers around the world, there are a few other countries that have 50 percent or more women representing the people in parliament, including Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and the United Arab Emirates.

This feat for New Zealand isn’t all that surprising considering that they currently have a lady serving as Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern who is the third woman to hold that position in the nation’s history so far. New Zealand was also the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, way back in 1893. Women in the United States had to wait until 1919 before they could cast their ballots.

By the way, the midterm election is fast approaching here in the United States, and we should all take the opportunity to exercise our right to vote for whichever candidates we choose to support.

The world is so vast that it can often feel like there are more than oceans separating us from each other, but honestly, we’re all facing similar struggles and triumphs no matter where we live.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.