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It's Not Liberal Arts And Literature Majors Who Are Most Underemployed

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Help wanted signs hang below menus at a restaurant in the Newport section of Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Burning Glass and Strada Institute for the Future of Work (formerly USA Funds, one of the nation’s largest student loan guarantors), recently published The Permanent Detour – Underemployment’s Long-Term Effects on the Careers of College Grads.

The report found that a high percentage of college graduates (43%) were underemployed – initially taking jobs that did not require a college degree – a condition that’s likely to persist.

Although there are some serious methodology errors with those conclusions, The Permanent Detour also segregated college majors by their rates of underemployment. The report found that those who graduated with majors in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) were the least likely to experience underemployment.

“STEM majors are the least likely to face this problem. Only 30% of engineering and computer science majors are underemployed in their first job after graduation…” the report said. STEM fields such as engineering and computer sciences had the lowest rates of initial underemployment – 30% and 29% respectively.

Those findings mirror a national consensus that STEM jobs are in-demand and the best path to good, post-college careers – a narrative echoed by Burning Glass. Generally, there’s no reason to disagree with the premise or the findings that STEM graduates do well at finding appropriate jobs.

And it’s easy to become distracted by the share of underemployed graduates Burning Glass ascribed to each major. That, for example, of the 21 majors reported, “Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services” had an abysmal 65% underemployment rate. Or that “Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies” posted a cringe-worthy 63%.

But what’s more interesting is not the percentages of underemployed graduates in these fields of study. The raw numbers of students impacted tell a different story.

The Permanent Detour report conveniently lists the number of degrees awarded in 2016, along with their reported underemployment rates, in each of the 21 majors it tracks. So, even though the “Parks, Recreation” majors fared quite poorly as a percentage, those academic tracks marooned just 28,474 graduates on the shores of underemployment because only 60,583 of those degrees were awarded in 2016. The total number of underemployed Parks and Rec graduates places it not among the worst majors, but just mediocre, at 11th of 21.

When you do the math on the supposed underemployment number against the number of degrees awarded by major, “Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services” left far more people high and dry on job success. With a 47% underemployment rate according to Burning Glass, and a massive 601,092 degrees passed out in 2016, business and related majors produced a staggering 186,339 people with a degree and no corresponding college-level job.

“Health Professions and Related Programs” majors were second worst, leaving 154,915 with degrees but without good jobs, according to the report. Education and Psychology were third and fourth with 99,597 and 61,647 graduates without good jobs respectively.

The “Health Professions” data is head-scratching since we know that in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted, “Healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to be the two fastest-growing occupational groups, adding a combined 2.3 million jobs, about 1 in 4 new jobs” by 2024.

Nonetheless, if you believe the Burning Glass data, those four majors alone – business, health professionals, education, and psychology – put more than half a million people in the underemployed camp in a single year. And given that the 21 selected majors in the Burning Glass report totaled 904,000 underemployed graduates, just those four majors accounted for more than half (56%) of the underemployed in the study.

It’s also interesting that although it’s a popular target of those who insist that a college education should connect to a good job, majors in “Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities” left a scant 18,824 underemployed grads in 2016. “English Language and Literature/Letters” had just 16,422 underemployed. And the major with the fewest underemployed graduates, according to the report, was “Foreign Languages, Literature, and Linguistics.”

In other words, for every cliché of a barista or bartender with a liberal arts degree, there were ten with a degree in business.

It may be true that if you’re chasing a nice college-level job, studying STEM subjects is among the safest bets. But from a policy perspective, considering the actual and subsidized costs of college, colleges that churn out degrees in business and health professions may be a serious problem – pumping hundreds of thousands of underemployed graduates into the economy every year.

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ONE Championship And The UFC Represent Global Duopoly In Martial Arts

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship is unquestionably the king of mixed martial arts in the western world, but ONE Championship is perhaps even more dominant in the east.

Chatri Sityodtong and Dana WhiteCredit: Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images and ONE Championship

With their meteoric rise to prominence over the past seven years, ONE has seemingly pressed all the right buttons in establishing itself as a viable rival to its Western counterpart. In Asia, ONE is the largest martial arts organization. One of the promotion’s missions has been to unite the continent’s 4 billion people on the shoulders of the many country’s connections to the various disciplines.

“In the same way that Starbucks offers many flavors of coffee and tea, we offer all martial arts,” said ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

“We have earned that reputation over the last couple of years, and so instead of mixed martial arts, as a fight fan and as a martial arts lover, you now get to see all forms of martial arts for the very first time in history. So you will see matches of, you know, Muay Thai versus Tae Kwon Do, or Tae Kwon Do versus Kung Fu, and the list goes on and on.”

According to Sityodtong, who was born in Thailand but is part Thai and Japanese, this makes ONE Championship the world’s largest martial arts organization.

YANGON, MYANMAR – JUNE 30: Aung La N Sang celebrates his historic title win, claiming the ONE Middleweight World Championship during ONE Championship Light Of A Nation at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on June 30, 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar. (Photo by Dux Carvajal/ONE Championship/Getty Images)

While the UFC has taken a more in-your-face approach in its rise to prominence, with president and face of the organization Dana White serving as the perfect microcosm for the American mixed martial arts community, Sityodtong has taken a different route.

“Every region in the world had a sport that represented it,” said Sityodtong. “In Asia, there was nothing. I thought to myself, there had to be a way to highlight each of the martial arts that originated from the variety of Asian cultures, and ONE Championship was it. The term MMA has a negative connotation in Asia, in the sense that it’s all about bloodsport, profanity, people who throw stuff at press conferences. That works in America, but not in Asia.”

Sityodtong has gone on record multiple times, including a direct one-on-one conversation with me, saying that he would not sign Conor McGregor if he were a free agent. Sityodtong feels strongly that McGregor’s persona is a poor fit for the culture and identity he has crafted for ONE.

YANGON, MYANMAR – NOVEMBER 03: Aung La N Sang prepares to face Alain Ngalani in an Open Weight Super Bout during ONE Championship: Hero’s Dream at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on November 03, 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar. (Photo by Dux Carvajal/ONE Championship/Getty Images)

“MMA is kind of an Americanized version of what martial arts is. Real, true, authentic martial arts has to do more with values and how it impacts the human soul. It’s about the way of the warrior, about integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion. It’s about the true values of martial arts which is extremely significant here in Asia.”

The ONE Championship way appears to be a personal preference for Sityodtong, but it is also a calculated approach that originated from paying close attention to what resonates with Asian people. The proof is in the numbers, reach, regional reviews and the immeasurable responses from crowds at their events on hand to cheer on the fighters who have been given the platform to become icons in their countries.

SINGAPORE – MAY 26: Angela Lee celebrates her submission win against Istela Nunes at ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 26, 2017, in Singapore (Photo by Dux Carvajal/ONE Championship/Getty Images)

Angela Lee of Singapore, Aung La N Sang of Myanmar and Eduard Folayang of the Philippines are to their countries what McGregor is to Ireland, and even bigger than Daniel Cormier, TJ Dillashaw and Rose Namajunas in the United States.

“We’re absolutely packing stadiums. We are filling thousand-seater arenas with passionate martial arts fans. We have the support of local governments, most importantly, the support of our fans. We have the most fantastic sponsors and partners on board that believe in what we’re doing, that believe in our vision,” Sityodtong concluded.

ONE Championship has been able to launch and reignite careers by focusing on the personal stories of the fighters. Spotlighting their backgrounds, personal and professional struggles and their overall journey. Recently, ESPN ran a piece on former NBA MVP Derrick Rose’s immense popularity in China.

GUANGZHOU, CHINA – AUGUST 21: (CHINA OUT) Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls point guard, takes a selfie with fans on August 21, 2015, in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

While Rose was born and raised in Chicago and has never competed in Asia professionally, the people of China are drawn to his perseverance and desire to play, despite suffering the multitude of injuries that have slowed what looked to be a Hall-of-Fame career. In the United States, his country of origin, he has largely been reduced to the subject of memes and unfortunate gifs.

It is this contrast in the view of professional athletes that Sityodtong and ONE Championship have honed in on. They worked used these values to rebuild the careers of fighters like Aung La and heavyweight champion Brandon Vera.

With business flourishing, ONE Championship has ramped up its lineup of live events. The promotion is scheduled to produce 24 live shows in 2018 and 36 in 2019. The UFC is scheduled to deliver 47 live events in 2018, but some may argue that less is more when it comes to combat sports events.

The fewer shows, the more each one feels like an event. Though that’s purely a matter of fan or media preference.

ONE may not be emulating its global competition, but it is definitely aware of its presence. By establishing new divisions of its property like the ONE Super Series (kickboxing) and Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, it has produced layers that can compete, or perhaps surpass Glory Kickboxing, Bellator Kickboxing and the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter and Tuesday Night Contender Series.

ONE signed Giorgio Petrosyan and Yodcherry Sityodtong to bolster its kickboxing venture while ONE Warrior is designed to focus on the rising martial arts talent in Asia. It is in its second season and airs on affiliate networks and the ONE Championship official YouTube channel.

Franklin is a former UFC middleweight champion turned ONE Championship ambassador and Vice President who hosts the show along with Jonathan Fong. The duo travels across Asia searching for talent and experiencing local cultures.

The athletes compete in professional bouts with the chance of earning a contract that can exceed $100,000 US currency. It’s like a mixture of traditional reality television, White’s Lookin for a Fight, Tuesday Night Contender, Ultimate Fighter and the American singing competition, The Voice. Franklin does a lot of teaching and coaching of the prospects, which is part of his background. In the role, he’s more than a talent scout. It’s almost partly like a mentorship and it’s a pretty unique presentation overall.

The UFC holds a firm grip on the attention of Western MMA fans, and the organization is prospering, but ONE is holding down its region of the globe equally. Fans can only wonder and/or hope that one day we might actually see a cross-promoted event between the two organization’s top champions.

That’s a fantasy, but fans of both brands can dream.

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Sissi's Crackdown on the Arts in Egypt Captured in One Satirical Pop Song

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“O mister shiny, brown-faced date. Four years have finally passed in disgrace. For too long we’ve been with that dummy face, O mister shiny, brown-faced date, such a dummy, like a broken vase, a loser all the way, desperate gold-digger. They took our land and promised you a grape, they stole our Nile and gave you a tap. And when you dug a canal it was a trap, to steal our money in just a snap. You’re such a hopeless case, O mister shiny, brown-faced date.”

It doesn’t take too much to realize that the song titled “Balaha” (“Date”), written by the popular Egyptian poet Galal el-Behairy, is aiming its barbs at President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. The land taken from the Egyptians are the islands of Sanafir and Tiran, which Egypt returned to Saudi Arabia, and the canal is the waterway parallel to the Suez Canal that Sissi ordered dug and has turned out to be a white elephant that cost a mint to the Egyptian people, who were asked to donate to fund it. “Balaha” is a fictional figure, not quite normal, who appears in an Egyptian film. It is also Sissi’s nickname.

This satirical song was set to music by the singer Ramy Essam, known for his role in the Arab Spring as a revolutionary poet; his song “Get Out,” directed against former President Hosni Mubarak, became the hymn of the Tahrir Square protesters.

The subversive “Balaha” clip has garnered 4 million views on YouTube and Essam had to flee Egypt for fear he would be arrested for insulting the president. Essam is apparently now in Sweden but he moves around the Arab countries and Europe, where he is very popular.

Since the Egyptian police cannot capture Essam, it has incarcerated the man who wrote the words to “Balaha,” after el-Behairy added insult to injury and published another book of poems titled “The Finest Women on Earth.” To understand the gravity of the offense, one needs to know the story of the great Muslim warrior Amr ibn al-As, who told a group of believers in a sermon that he had heard Mohammed say, “If Allah gives Egypt into your hands, take from it many soldiers. These Egyptian soldiers are the finest soldiers on earth.”

This Muslim tradition from the time of the prophet naturally became a common description of the Egyptian army by its commanders. When the poet Behairy distorted the phrase and turned “the finest soldiers on earth” into “the finest women on earth,” he set out on a dangerous collision course with the army and those who value the prophet’s words. “My blood is boiling and don’t dare tell me this is about freedom of expression,” the journalist Ahmed Moussa shouted on the television show “I Guarantee It,” which he hosts on the Sada El Balad network. “Who approved the distribution of this shameful collection?” he asked. Indeed, an embarrassing question, because the collection of poems appeared at a book fair in Cairo. A party was even organized in its honor where the author signed his books. The terrible offense is two-fold: insulting the army and distorting the words of the prophet, which immediately sparked a backlash that led Behairy to military court in late July, where he was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($560).

He was also tried for publishing “Balaha,” charged with harming state security according to the Egyptian anti-terrorism law.

Not only did the song raise the level of censorship in Egypt, which was already tight under Sissi. According to a human rights group, at least 12 artists have been arrested this year, including directors, playwrights and even a belly dancer for what is called “publishing false information” or harming the army and state security.

For example the theater director Ahmed al-Garhy and the playwright Walid Atef were sentenced to a two-month suspended prison sentence for staging a play, “Suleiman Khater,” at the Cairo hunting club. Suleiman Khater was an Egyptian solider who in 1985 killed seven Israelis near the Egyptian-Israeli border. Khater was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor, but a year later he was found hanged in his cell. The authorities said he had killed himself and the public believed he had been executed. In this case as well, the authorities woke up too late, because the play had already been seen in the theater in Alexandria two years earlier, and then at the theater in Cairo before the storm that broke in February.

The theater management quickly dismissed the director and the playwright and closed down the play, claiming that it harmed the good name of the army and had not received authorization from the censor. In that same month, Sissi said that any insult to the armed forces was “high treason” and would be punished by a heavy prison term. The sentence meted out in late July was not particularly heavy, but it made clear to the artistic community in Egypt what the new boundaries of discourse were.

These boundaries were dictated by regulations published by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly last month. They state in part that every cultural or artistic performance, local or international, requires a permit from the Culture Ministry after coordinating with “the relevant authorities” – that is, the intelligence forces. The artistic community can only recall with longing the time of Mubarak, despite the strict censorship laws, when the boundaries of freedom of artistic expression were much broader than those instituted by Sissi since he took control in July 2013.

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Arts on Central

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  1. Arts on Central  nwestiowa.com
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