ISO: The best state-based political blogs Washington Post (blog) That's how long it's been since we released our most recent list of the best political blogs in each of the 50 states. In that time, blogs have risen and fallen.
What is devolution and how has it changed how Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are governed?
This article with videos, charts and images was designed as a primer for UK voters for the 2010 election to understand who devolution in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were reshaping the political landscape in the United Kingdom. It is general enough that even though it is outdated as a news story, it serves as a concrete example from geography students to understand the processes and reasons for a decentralization of political power.
Sometimes the news can be good news! The historic April 1st election in Burma that saw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy win 43/45 parliamentary seats is being hailed as the first free and fair elections for 50 years!
This is a current perspective on the many changes transforming Myanmar back into Burma. For more by John Boyer, see: http://www.plaidavenger.com/ ;
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday approved the Legislature's plans for new congressional, House and Senate districts, paving the way for the state to begin using the maps in preparation for the November elections.
What is gerrymandering? Why, when and where might it happen? What strikes you as distinct about district 5?
The Choices Program asks Brown University's Political Scientist Melani Cammett to briefly explain the Arab Spring. This is a great primer to teach young students who don't follow international news to understand the beginnings of the Arab Spring. For more videos by the Choices Program in their "Scholars Online" series, see:
Does it matter if I call the sea to the east of the Korean Peninsula the "East Sea" and if you call the body of water the west of Japan the "Sea of Japan?" Absolutely. When dealing with matters of diplomacy, a name reflects how a country is viewed. For many years the Sea of Japan has been the defacto name internationally and South Korean officials have lobbied (quite successfully) to bolster the legitimacy of the name within the media, publishers and cartographers. What other places have multiple names? What are the political overtones to the name distinctions? To watch a 10-minute video on the history of the name, see: http://bit.ly/Lu5puJ
This is an interactive way to teach the importance of the redistricting process. Mapmakers (and geography) are crucial to the process. This game shows students how the process can be manipulated and if you understand local demographics and voting patterns, subtle shifts in the district borders can swing elections. This is a great way to teaching gerrymandering and how political cartography can be.
How can political stability and security be measured? What constitutes effective governance? Foreign Policy, in conjunction with the Fund for Peace, has created a statistical ranking to measure the lack of effective political institutions. For the 4th year running, Somalia has been statistically measured as the most failed state on Earth. Chad and Sudan are respectively ranked as the 2nd and 3rd most failed states.The 12 metrics that are a part of this index are:
"As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was 'the best on the planet.' It wasn't until the famine of the 90s that she began to to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope."
Newsweek Welcome to Botswana Newsweek Indeed, Illinois faces the worst pension shortfall of any state. The cost of pensions and health benefits to retired state employees has doubled over the past decade, to 15 percent of state spending.
In the lush rainforests of Africa's Congo Basin, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people live as hunter gatherers, depending on the forest's natural resources for their survival.
The "Mapping for Rights" program trains people in the Congo to map the land they live on using GPS and other geospatial technologies. This can assist the to produce documents to politically protect their land from encroachment and preserve their access to the forest. Globalization can blur many of the modern/traditional narratives as the world becomes interconnected in complex ways.
As a team works to restore the North Carolina-South Carolina border to the original 1772 lines, some worry about the consequences.
Old maps and borders where often determined by local landmarks like trees, rivers, roads, fences, etc. Trees get uprooted and over time, rivers will wend their way down slightly different paths and the informal old borders get called into question. The border between North and South Carolina, traversing through swampy forested area was imperfect and now that they are trying to rectify it, some South Carolina residents face the prospect of needing to be North Carolina residents...not a small thing when you consider the utilities, government documents, taxes and voting.
This book is a compilation of letters exchanged between two 18-year-old girls who live in Jerusalem: one Israeli and the other Palestinian. Having met through a student exchange program, they openly discuss their frustrations with the political situation of 2002, and over time come to appreciate the others cultural and political viewpoints. This is a great cross-cultural interaction as the girls show their misconceptions of the other group, but through open dialogue come to an appreciation for other perspectives. This would be a good project to have student read the book and synthesize the cultural and political elements within them to reinforce the class content with a real-world example.
Divided islands, like Market in the Baltic Sea, conform to a version of Sayre's law: the smaller the territory, the more confusing the border.
In the latest chapter of the Borderlines series in the New York Times, explores the smallest divided island with characteristic insight, humor and intellectual eclecticism. "Borders allow humankind to separate what nature has united. But an island is a naturally closed entity. Its shoreline is the boundary of the bubble separating it from the rest of the world. And then impose a human-made barrier on an island? What is the meaning of isolation — a word derived, in fact, from the Latin for island — if you have to share it with someone else?"
The new African country, founded in part to escape from the northern government's violence, is showing some hostility of its own.
Independence for ethnic/religious groups, while culturally satisfying, does not necessarily solve all the problems within a region. South Sudan's 1-year anniversary shows that even though they have a short history, it has been marked by ineffective governance and social instability.
Revisiting an Austrian academic's call for smaller borders.
This New York Times article, entitled "Kohr Principles" has excellent material for students to think about the spatial organization of political interactions. Leopold Kohr argued that size matters--and unlike most that argue for the same, he argued that political entities most not be too large. In the map above, Kohr envisioned a Europe without countries large enough to dream of world domination. So, how does a country's size shape its politics? Is there an ideal size for internal unity and external security?
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