African rice breeders have nominated six new, stress-tolerant varieties of rice to help farmers spur production.
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:
The use of technology to create new species of rice that are more adapted to the climate of the region to increase gains is amazing. The need of the peoples in this area is extreme and to know that food can be engineered to thrive and increase yields for these people is a comforting thought.
Problems in this area will only increase if the powers that be do not take the innocence of the civilian population into account. When trying to put down a terrorist insurgence it is imperative that a government tries to safe guard the population. If not it will only drive these people into the arms of the insurgents.
This infographic was very interesting. By using color coding it highlights the areas of influence the colonel powers still maintain over their old possessions. This map is helpful in understanding how this affects the politics of theses regions today.
The problems of Congo are exacerbated by the mischief of Rwanda. When you think about a country that is blessed with such abundant natural resource you would think that economically they would be doing well. However, the turbulence of politics in this region has caused the opposite to occur. The country is constantly destabilized by the conflicts in its neighboring counties and constant rebellions and conflict have wreaked and destabilized this country. The blessings of abundant natural resources has, instead become a curse.
I find it interesting to see where certain languages become dominant for business use. This infographic is very interesting and useful in determining different trends in both the spread of language and the historical factors that spread these languages in this region.
Dust in the air in North Africa and West Asia absorbs sunlight west of India, warming the air and strengthening the winds carrying moisture eastward, raining down in India about a week later. The results of this new study explain one way that dust can affect the climate, filling in previously unknown details about Earth's system.
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:
This article is interesting as it shows how the deserts of North and West Africa affect the weather in India. The dust in the air contributes to the monsoons which can cause them to be more severe.
This article makes the connection between lower fresh water availability and war. The argument that as water becomes scares, farmers leave their fields and head to the cities. The cities are ill-equipped to handle the inflow of people and the greater demand on its water resources creating unrest and discontent. This is an interesting way of looking at the conflicts in the area.
This article makes underscores the use of water resources in the area. The need to make the deserts bloom is putting a strain on the ground water resources in this region. Because of the climate, this water is not a renewable resource and will eventually dry up. What type of chaos will that cause in 50 years when the estimated time of the resource runs its course?
In early November 2012, three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of the Golan Heights. The move by Syria is the first violation of the zone in 40 years and concerns countries of the region. Since then some of the Syrian rebels have also been reported operating in Golan Heights.
This article stresses the importance of geography when discussing political situation with neighboring countries. The fact that the heights are such a strategic advantage to whoever owns them explains why they are so contested. As long as these two countries are not friendly nations this disagreement over the strategic point will continue.
This article and picture points out just how hard it is to “solve” the problems in Israel. The constant overlapping of buildings on holy sites complicates the issues more than anything political ever could. Belief is one of the biggest driving forces for conflict in the world and this illustration reminds us of that.
World War One centenary celebrations are important in the UK, but in Germany people rarely visit WW1 cemeteries. Why?
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:
This article is interesting as it does show how culturally two different countries react to WWI. The fact that Germany doesn’t think much of the anniversary makes senses as the author notes WWI was overshadowed by WWII in Germany more than any other country. The events that occurred during 1914-1918, had an unprecedented impact on world history by leading to WWII which then overshadows it. It is interesting to see world history as viewed from a perspective other than American.
This article shows that no matter how small the world is becoming nationalism is still present and will cause issues between different factions and supporters of different national identities. The issue over what flag will be flown in a country can spark outrage and anger not by people against the flag but the people for it as they feel it should be flown all the time as opposed to a limited amount of days in the year.
This area seems to want it both ways. To be independent from Spain, but also dependent economically on Spain. This region should sort out its priorities and decided if independents is worth it and if so then they should not be asking Spain for help. It’s like a twenty-something person that moves out of their parents’ house and then comes back again and again with their hand out. Catalonia seems to be facing this same issue.
This video and article highlight the steps a new country takes when it is carved out of an old one. The problems and tribulations the new country faces and how it responds to the rest of the international community will decide if it will be a long lasting country or just a blip on the road of the original countries history.
Slums and squatter settlements are a problem that a lot of the developing world has to deal with. The unsafe and unsanitary buildings cause headaches and problems for the leaders of the cities they surround. This story is hopeful in that the city did manage to bring a water line out to get clean water to the people living in this area. Perhaps this will lead to a better quality of life of the inhabitants of this particular slum. Also the project of mapping such areas can be a useful tool for city planners to better regulate these areas and help the people that live there.,
"Forget Somalia, the world's new epicenter of piracy is on the other side of Africa."
Some experts believe that the uptick in the number and geographical reach of pirate attacks is due in part precisely to the 2009 government amnesty for the Nigerian militants in the Niger Delta who had justified their attacks on oil infrastructure and their widespread theft of crude oil as a political protest. "With the political pretense lost, there is no longer any need for oil thieves to limit themselves to targets in the Delta," a United Nations study said.
This article points to the little known problem of piracy off the western coast of Africa. When one thinks of African piracy, one thinks of the Somali pirates it is important to know that piracy is not just limited to eastern Africa.
I was taken aback this past Sunday (September 29) by Robin Wright’s colorful map of a politically re-divided Middle East in the New York Times, which illustrated her article “Imagining a Remapped Middle East.” The map, entitled “How 5 Could Become 14,” shows a hypothetical future division of Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia into 14 potential new countries …
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:
This article is critiquing an article by Robin Wright where she imagined the middle east in the future. She has speculated on how the region might look if the trends of war and dislocation continue. That some areas could go through a balkanization and trigger the need for new international borders.
Weather is an amazing force in the world. The fact that a rouge weather system could move in and blanket the area in snow is amazing. Some of the pictures are stunning in their oddness and it is a reminder that Mother Nature can be fickle.
A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.
"[This] data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws."
Water is a big issue in an arid area. The fact that we can measure the amount of groundwater present in an area with a satellite is amazing to me. The issue of water rights and control in this region will someday over take that of oil rights and use in my opinion. Once people get used to free flowing water to use on demand it will cause problems politically when these sources of ground water inevitably dry up.
The use of water is an increasing problem in the arid regions of the world. The use of more sophisticated irrigation systems allow for more planting which requires more water. Coupled with increasing towns and cities needing fresh water for the inhabitants this decrease in fresh water will only continue to trend.
Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani takes to the TEDxSummit stage in Doha, Qatar to take on serious issues in the Middle East -- like how many kisses to give when saying “Hi,” and what not to say on an American airplane.
This video makes a good point about where we arbitrarily draw lines on a map. He uses different groupings to show how silly this can be. His point is that Eastern Europe no longer really exists and we should no longer use the term. He then suggests a few different terms to use to group countries in Europe. My favorite was the grouping called Scared of Russia.
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