In The World—January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016 No Comments »
In The World—January 17, 2016

By Melissa Wuske

The Impact of the Self-Employed Workforce

Many people picture massive corporations as the driving force of employment in the United States, but according to a Pew Research study, self-employed people provide a significant share of jobs—10 percent of U.S. workers are self-employed, and they employ an additional 20 percent of the workforce; 1 in 4 self-employed people have hired other workers.

The data used in the Pew study is new—2014 was the first time the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Census Bureau gathered it—so it’s tough to interpret the impact of the data and how it compares to other years. But the Freelancers Union, an organization for the freelancing subset of the self-employed workforce, did a survey that suggests at least one way that this self-employed subset will have influence beyond their own work. Of the 54 million Americans who do freelance work, nearly 90 percent plan to vote in 2016, and 62 percent say they’re likely to vote for someone who supports issues that impact freelancers.

Church Burnings Bring Unity

In the fall of 2015, seven churches were set ablaze in the St. Louis area, with arson suspected in all cases. The damages ranged from quite minimal to almost entirely destroyed. At the time of this printing, a suspect has been arrested, although his motivation remains unclear.

Rev. David Triggs, minister of New Life Missionary Baptist Church, whose church was heavily damaged, sensed a spiritual challenge to the church as a result of these crimes. “God showed me something different when I was standing in front of my building. God told me that he’s trying to get the attention of the church. . . . As the church we have to proceed with caution. This is a sin issue, someone who is spiritually sick.”

Triggs has seen God at work among the broader community of churches as a result of the fires. His congregation held services on the lawn because the building was too damaged. He describes one Sunday as “overwhelming with just emotions. There were several different people who came up to celebrate God with us from several different colors, denominations, ethnic backgrounds. . . . It’s brought our churches together in a way that we’ve never stood before.”

Educational Opportunity for Refugees

Germany is flooded with refugees seeking asylum and a new life. But getting what they need to succeed is a challenge in every part of life. Markus Kressler cofounded Kiron University to help meet the refugees’ educational needs. The online university gathers open-source lectures from other universities. Refugees can take classes for two years while they work toward eligibility for a traditional university. 

“Basically, everyone can already log into these courses,” Kressler said. “What we do is we just take these courses, bundle them into degree programs, and make cooperation with real universities so that they also recognize these courses in order to really get a degree in the end.”

Restaurant Reviews Aim at Food Safety

Yelp is a website where anyone can share their reviews of local businesses. Restaurant reviews posted on Yelp describe the food, service, and atmosphere of an eating establishment. But what’s been missing is what it’s like in the kitchen. Consumers may soon see messages such as, “Following a recent inspection, this facility received a food safety rating that is in the bottom 5 percent locally, and is categorized by inspectors as ‘poor.’” Yelp is running an experiment in San Francisco to see how consumers and restaurants respond to these food safety warnings. “It’s our strong belief that this is something consumers have a right to see,” said Luther Lowe, Yelp’s head of public policy. 

Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (

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