NEWS AND OPINION:
The planet is nervous these days, according to a massive new survey titled “What Worries the World,” conducted among 21,044 citizens in 26 nations by IPSOS Public Affairs. In a majority of these nations — 19 of them, including the U.S. and its European allies — people say their own country is “on the wrong track.” Only seven of the nations had a positive assessment.
“China, India and Saudi Arabia remain as the top three countries most positive about their nation’s direction of travel. 92 percent in China think their country is going in the right direction, along with 74 percent in India and 72 percent in Saudi Arabia,” the poll analysis said. “At the other end of the spectrum — South Africa is the most anxious. Only 8 percent think their country is going in the right direction, followed by 15 percent in Italy and 16 percent in Brazil.”
Among Americans, 59 percent say the U.S. is on the wrong track, with strikingly similar negative findings from respondents in Australia, Poland, Sweden, Israel, Japan and Germany. Things are even more dire in Spain, where three-quarters say things are out of kilter, along with Mexico (73 percent), Britain (72 percent) and France (71 percent).
The global average? After averaging the wide-ranging spectrum of findings, IPSOS concluded that 59 percent of the world’s population is nervous about the status quo. The pollster also flagged some specifics.
Overall, unemployment tops a list of 17 worrisome factors, cited by 35 percent of the respondents in all 26 nations. Financial or political corruption was in second place, cited by 33 percent, followed by poverty (32 percent), crime and violence (30 percent), health care (23 percent), terrorism (21 percent), education (20 percent), taxes (16 percent), moral decline (15 percent) and immigration control (14 percent) — to round out the top 10.
Worries varied among the nations, however. In China the top concern was environmental threats. In the U.S., Canada and Britain it was health care. In Russia, Brazil, India, Israel and South Africa, corruption was the biggest worry; in Sweden, Argentina, Mexico and Peru, it was violence. Terrorism was most cited by Turkey and Belgium. Seven nations — Australia, France, South Korea, Serbia, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Italy — cited unemployment, while Japan and Germany cited poverty.
No nation cited access to credit, childhood obesity, taxes, inflation, climate change, education or extremism as its No. 1 worry.
DEAL? WHAT DEAL?
“Bad news travels fast. Good news, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to travel at all. Last weekend in Beijing, as part of his 12-day trip to Asia, President Trump announced that the U.S. and China had signed an $83.7 billion memorandum of understanding to create a number of petrochemical projects in West Virginia over the next 20 years. If the agreement holds tight, it is an economic game changer for the state,” writes New York Post columnist Salena Zito.
There has been little media coverage of the achievement — so little, in fact, that many West Virginians hadn’t even heard of it.
“One would have suspected that the prospect of an investment this large — nearly three times the total annual budget for the department of energy — would have been front-page news,” said Paul Sracic, political science professor at Youngstown State University.
“The media has often mocked Trump’s promise of jobs to the heartland as empty campaign rhetoric. How, they asked, will his voters react when they find out he can’t deliver? This deal suggests that Trump hasn’t forgotten what really matters to his base, but few are giving him props for it,” Ms. Zito says, adding, “once again, the media is missing a story that matters to the American people outside the liberal echo chamber.”
THE LATE-NIGHT CROWD
Late-night TV hosts have been mighty bold and mighty negative before, during and after the election of President Trump — to the irritation of his fans. The president has had an effect on the genre — as evidenced in CNN’s “Late Night in the Age of Trump,” a special hosted by senior media correspondent Brian Stelter at 9 p.m. EST on Monday. He will sit down with “comedy’s greatest voices” to parse how late-night comedy has been reshaped by Mr. Trump in an unprecedented way.
Yes, well. For one thing, industry reviews already reveal that Mr. Trump — whether the hosts were talking about him or talking to him — has been very good for late-night ratings.
Mr. Stelter “explores both the hilarious and polarizing moments from the last year, and analyzes the impact President Trump has had on comedy, including the blurred lines between late-night and news,” says CNN.
LIBERTARIANS IN ALABAMA
The Libertarian Party points out that its candidates won 12 races for public office in the Nov. 7 election — evidence of “an upward trend in the number of voters who support the party,” initially generated by Libertarian presidential hopeful Gary Johnson, who won 4.5 million votes in all 50 states.
The party now has an eye on Dec. 12, when a high-profile special election in Alabama determines whether voters will choose embattled Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones. But there’s one more name to add to the roster.
“Enter Libertarian Party candidate Ron Bishop, who is running a solid campaign focused on libertarian principles and positioning himself as the sane choice between an extreme social conservative and a Democrat who is much too progressive for Alabamians to vote for under most circumstances,” the party advises.
“Bishop faces the challenge of running as a write-in candidate because Alabama election law requires a 20 percent share of the statewide vote in order to retain ballot status. This creates an effective Democratic/Republican political duopoly. Bishop hopes to raise enough money to hire a skywriter to sky write ‘Who is Ron Bishop?’ above the Auburn vs. Alabama football game a couple of weeks before the election,” the Libertarians add.
POLL DU JOUR
• 62 percent of Americans say politics is their “least favorite” topic of conversations during holiday gatherings.
• 48 percent say they typically do not talk politics at such events.
• 41 percent say money or finance are among their least favorite topics of holiday talk; 37 percent cited religion.
• 25 percent cited “family gossip,” 14 percent “relationships,” 18 percent work.
• 31 percent say they will intentionally avoid talk of politics during the holidays; 21 percent will talk politics even if others disagree.
Source: A Reuters/IPSOS poll of 1,595 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 8-13.
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