"The map [above] sorts the countries of the world into three groups based on their relative coup risk for 2013: highest (red), moderate (orange), and lowest (beige)."
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
"The map [above] sorts the countries of the world into three groups based on their relative coup risk for 2013: highest (red), moderate (orange), and lowest (beige)."
While this is not predicting a coup in any of these places, this map is a visualization of data that was used to assess the factors that would make a coup likely (to see an alternate map, here is the Washington Post's review of the same data that mapped the 30 countries most likely to have a coup).
Questions to Ponder: What factors do you think would be important in compilling data of this nature? What makes a country susceptible to this type of governmental overthrow? What creates governmental stability?
The number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict and crossed the borders hasn't ceased to increase.
UNICEF workers have stated: "More than 600,000 have fled the conflict in Syria and registered as refugees. The number of Syrians who have left without registering is unknown but is likely to be hundreds of thousands. We do know, however, that children make up around half the number of refugees and that is certainly no way for any child to live their childhood."
"A basic truth about the cultural geography of the California border [is this]—two very different city-building traditions come crashing into each other at one of the most contentious international boundary lines on the planet. In this collision, in the shocking contrast of landscapes, lies one critical ingredient of the border’s place identity."
As a geographer native to the San Diego region (with family on both sides of the border), I found this article very compelling. Relations across the border are economic, cultural and political in nature, and the merger of those varied interests have led to an uneven history of both cooperation and separation. Herzog analyses three distinct factors that have shape the landscape of the California-Mexico border zone: urbanization, NAFTA, and global interruptions (9/11).
Balancing the interests of stakeholders in the Malian polity will be difficult, however some key steps should be taken.
This is a great article for give to students to provide them with the geo-political context to understand the situation in Mali. It also give a great reminder for observers and the involved parties to not lump all Tuareg civilians in the north with the Islamists groups that are in control. "This failure to consistently distinguish between different groups in the North by multiple stakeholders...portends longer term trouble." For additional reading, see this Geography in the News article on Mali, tailor-made for classroom.
Eighteen months ago, central Mogadishu was like an African Stalingrad.
Somalia's political troubles are not over, but it is no longer the drought-ridden country overrun by Islamist extremist that it was two years ago. For years it held the dubious title of "the world's most failed state." Al Shabbab, the militant group linked to Al Qaeda, left the capital of Mogadishu in 2011 and in 2012 lost their last stronghold. Piracy still exists off the Somali coast, but it has lessened as a semblance of political order is being restored to the Horn of Africa.
|Suggested by C. Kevin Turner|
The riots linked to flag protests in Northern Ireland are causing "significant damage" to the economy, the secretary of state warns.
Flags are tangible symbols of communal identity and political power. If the meaning behind these identities are unresolved, the symbols of these identities in public spaces becomes all the more there is contentious. Currently, the Union Jack is a lightning rod for controversy in Northern Ireland and the riots stemming from this are harming the local economy.
France is ready to stop Islamist militants who control northern Mali, the French president says, following a plea for help by his Malian counterpart.
In April 2012, Islamist rebels seized power in Northern Mali and have declared independence, proclaiming this region The Islamic State of Azawad. Recently they have begun to amass armies on the southern limits of their territory and presumably are seeking to topple all of Mali. The former colonizer, France is being called upon to assist as is the United Nations. This area is part of a region known as the Sahel, the transition from a dry North Africa to tropical Sub-Saharan Africa, from a Muslim/Arab north to a Christian/Animist/Black region of Africa. The human and physical geographic divisions in this region plays a major role in this conflict.
While city lights at night serve as a good proxy for population density, North Korea provides a dark exception.
This image is appears to be a regional inset of the classic Earth at Night composite image however this nighttime remote sensing image was taken from Sept. 2012. The Earth at Night image is typically used in classrooms to discuss what this actually means for human geography (Population density? Development? Consumption? Where? How come?). However, this particular portion of the global image focused on the Korean Peninsula highlights two other specific issues:
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
The National Rifle Association gives members of Congress a grade ranging from A to F.
Since the Newtown CT tragedy, gun control and second amendment rights have been prominent in the minds on many Americans. Your ideological position on what should be done in th future might be in part a product of geography. How do most people feel about the second amendment where you live? What about your local geography might influence those opinions?
As Kurds Fight for Freedom in Syria, Fears Rise in Turkey of Following Suit
Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds have been caught in other people's plans for what the states of the Middle East should look like and are the largest 'stateless nation' in the world. Divided between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, the Kurds have not been able to politically mobilize support for Kurdistan as they have been violently oppressed in these countries. The Kurds in Iraq have been able to gain political autonomy with the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, and the Syrian Kurds are hoping to do the same if and when the Assad regime crumbles at the end of the civil war. This make Turkey concerned that the Kurds in the southeastern part of Turkey will make renewed efforts to push for sovereignty.
UPDATE: This PBS feature explains the historic timeline of the important political events for the Kurds in Iraq.This article from the Economist focuses on the key reason that outside forces won't leave the Kurds alone: oil.
It is Italy's richest province, and has been part of the country for almost 100 years - but some in South Tyrol just do not feel fully Italian.
While the idea of everyone of the same nationality belonging to the same country might be considered an ideal situation, the world's ethnic geography is too jumbled to create perfect nation-states. South Tyrol is a part of Italy that is one of those places with mixed a ethnic, linguistic and political heritage. By different criteria, many of the residents could be considered German, Austrian or Italian or a combination of the them. Since the Euro Zone fiscal crisis, the push for political autonomy in South Tyrol has intensified, in part because this region has avoided the crisis and is economically fairing better than the rest of Italy.
Questions to Ponder: How do political borders reveal and conceal "the truth" about places on either side of the line? What elements are a part of a regions heritage? Can regions have multiple, overlapping heritages? How does devolution impact the whole country?
The BBC's John Simpson reports from Hong Kong, where the former colony's increasing independent-mindedness is worrying Beijing.
When the rule of Hong Kong transferred from the UK to China in 1997, the Chinese government was careful to ease the fears of those in Hong Kong that they would not have their political and economic systems turned upside down. "One country, two systems" was the famous slogan to sum up the policy that some felt would simply delay the inevitable. Today, many of the youth in Hong Kong are demonstrating against what they feel are pressures to do away with their unique status and are bringing back the old colonial flag. This is not asking for a return to British rule, but a symbolic reference to their distinct history from the rest of mainland China. Today only 16.6% of Hong Kong residents identify themselves as Chinese, which is the lowest it's ever been since 1997.
A new interactive tool allows you to decide how many Israeli settlers to annex and what constitutes a viable Palestinian state.
This article from the Atlantic is a great introduction to a mapping tool that puts the user at the virtual negotiation table. Peace talk proposals often center around the amount of land that Palestinians want and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank that the Israelis want as a part of the state of Israel. This interactive, titled Is Peace Possible?, allows the user to propose potential land swaps, see the demographic breakdown of West Bank settlements and videos to introduce users to on 4 major issues: borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.
Washington state has become the first in America to allow the recreational use of cannabis, setting up a potential showdown with the US federal government.
The states that have legalized recreational marijuana use reflect regional differences in cultural and communal values within the United States. This is quite a quandry with fascinating ramifications as popular cultural values clash with political tradition.
Questions to Ponder: What will the Federal government do considering that a state law is contradicting a federal law? Will other states follow? Would a California employee fail a drug test is the drugs were legally consumed in a different state? Will Washington and Colorado receive more weekend tourism?
|Suggested by Don Brown Jr|
"When it comes to making a multimillion-dollar action blockbuster, an important rule to follow is: do not alienate some1.3 billion potential theatergoers."
DB: As the reaction to the YouTube “Innocence of Muslims” trailer has shown, we must be more cautious of what we say and how we depict others as social media and cinema can now easily transcend boarders diversifying the place and space of potential viewers.
Forms of expression or entertainment such as art, music, dance, food and especially cinema can symbolize many of the values, norms, customs or fears that are prevalent within a particular society. However, these cultural expressions also may also carry a political stigma that conveys a message to its audience. China has played a major role in the development of the November release of MGM’s remake of the movie “Red Dawn,” which was a 1984 politically-charged Cold War film about the USSR invading America. The remake of the film incorporated many themes associated with a “declining” America, yet this was not China’s concern. Originally the producers of this film intended to replace the USSR with the PRC which would portray China as the villain and antagonist of the film. Yet (as the Chinese government soon made MGM realize) this is inconsistent with the realities of 21st century geopolitics or the globally economy. The threat of having the film blocked by one of their biggest and most lucrative markets in East Asia pressured MGM to re-edit the film depicting North Korea as the villain before its release this November.
Question: How has globalization changed the film or entertainment industry in general?
Heuristic: if a place has sidewalks, it votes Democratic. Otherwise, it votes Republican.— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) September 3, 2012
Nate Silver became about as big of a celebrity as a statistician can become during the election (being called everything from a prophet to a witch). This little nugget is obviously an overgeneralization, but it appears that is has enough substance to give it some serious consideration. Where does this hold true and where is it false? How come? If it is true, why would this be true?
|Suggested by Nicholas Rose|
New rules announced last week to allow interceptions of ships in the South China Sea are raising concerns in the region, and in Washington, that simmering disputes with Southeast Asian countries over the waters will escalate.
According to this new announcement, Chinese ships would be allowed to search and repel foreign ships if they were engaged in illegal activities (but that is open to interpretation) if the ships were within the 12-nautical-mile zone surrounding islands that China claims. This makes the disputed territorial claims of China all the more at the center of this geopolitical maneuverings. Much of the South China Sea would then be under Chinese control if this announcement becomes the new reality.
Questions to Ponder: Why is China making this announcement? Is China within their rights to make this declaration? Who might oppose this?
The Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining power in several countries since the Arab Spring. The rise of Islamist power in the Middle East is culturally and politically complex. This interactive lets the user click on selected countries to see how groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas are impacting them politically.
Shaped like a giant pistol sitting on its butt end, Wisconsin's new 22nd state Senate District is Exhibit A in the case against partisan redistricting.
The redistricting process is far from neutral; to be fair we should remember that gerrymandering is has happened on all ends of the political spectum. Which map to you think is the best way to divide these districts? What is the fairest way to divide them?
The United Nations General Assembly approved an upgraded U.N. status for the Palestinian Authority, despite U.S. and Israeli opposition.
While this may be primarily symbolic, it is still a highly significant move on the part of the United Nations. 65 years ago, the United Nations called for a two-state system. This map of the vote that I found on Facebook (can't find another source as of yet) is quite intriguing.
Questions to Ponder: Why might a country choose to abstain? Can you think of a specific reason why a particular country abstained? With this new geopolitical fact, how will Israel and Palestine move forward?
Watch this Jewish Voice for Peace 6 minute mini-primer about why Israelis and Palestinians are fighting..
This video from the Jewish Voice for Peace has a more politically motivated angle than most of the resources that I post on this site, but I feel that they do justice to both sides as well as the truth. In a simple way it lays out the roots of many of the problems in the region with historic and geographic perspectives.
|Suggested by KochAPGeography|
A newly issued Chinese passport featuring a map that lays claim to disputed territory with several neighboring countries is only the latest case of cartographic aggression.
"Maps, like statistics, can lie — or at least tell only one side of the story. As often as not, they can belie the level of actual governmental control or the ethnic and social realities on the ground. And competing views over 'who owns what' invariably fuel nationalistic fervor."
I'll let Douglas Keeney's own words and this image speak for themselves: "The geography of human conflict as seen from space at night. The Strait of Hormuz as seen at night from the space station is a beautiful lesson in the geography of conflict. How much we learn by simply tracing the fingers of human populations as seen superimposed over the geography of Earth. Enjoy."
What would a picture look like from a drone's perspective? Where are these places that are being targeted? This Instagram account is incredibly thought-provoking and informative.
|Suggested by Allison Anthony|
Experts warn that China's apparent claims to other territories could have a long-term impact on relations with its neighbours...
Many people assume oftentimes that a map merely reflects reality. In this passport map, China is flexing it's regional muscles, trying to reinforce their territorial claims as legitimate. Not surprisingly, their neighbors with competing claims are angered, calling this map diplomatically "unacceptable." Some look at this map and dismiss it as a glorified watermark. What you think the sub-text to this map is? You can find another article on this topic in the Washington Post.
Millions of American citizens on the island have spoken. Now, Washington must act.
After the Nov. 6th referendum, the question of Puerto Rico's political status vis-a-vis the United States for the future is actually murkier than it was before. The Puerto Rican voters have spoken, but the meanings of the plebiscite results are still being debated.