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Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
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Spoof Candidate, Jerry Mandering

"Ok…we’ll admit it. Jerry Mandering isn’t a real political candidate.  We created this video to highlight the absurdity of the process behind having elected officials draw their own lines to their advantage – a manipulative practice known as 'gerrymandering.' Public officials like Del. Jerry Mandering wish you wouldn’t worry about the fact that he can pick and choose his own voters, but you can let your legislators know that you support a non-partisan effort for fairer, more competitive elections."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This spoof video was highlighted in a Washington Post article, and like most parodies, it wouldn't be funny if there weren't so much truth in it. 

 

Tags: political, gerrymandering, mapping, unit 4 political.

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Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, February 4, 10:07 AM

Unit 4---Love IT!!!

Ethan Conner's curator insight, Today, 9:34 AM

This video along with the following written paragraph highlights the unfairness and injustice of gerrymandering. This video raises the awareness of how unfair and illegal this is for map makers. Following in the paragraph below, it further explains how unfair this is. This is what the video and article are about

Logan scully's curator insight, Today, 9:36 AM

I believe gerrymandering is unfair and just plain out dumb. Even though this commercial/ video is quite comical and not serious, it defines a serious problem in society. The practice of gerrymandering is something that some candidates don't want you to know about because they can choose who they want to vote for them. -L.S.

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Ten Ways on How Not To Think About the Iran/Saudi Conflict

Ten Ways on How Not To Think About the Iran/Saudi Conflict | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Sometimes when a conflict involves Muslims, Islam may not be the best category for understanding it. Omid Safi with a reflection on the current crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and why framing it as religion is not the most helpful framework."

 

In the last few days, virtually every news outlet has featured a series of stories on the rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The conflict by now is well-known: Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, including Shi‘i cleric Nimr al-Nimr. While both Iran and Saudi Arabia are among the worst global executioners of dissidents, the sheer size of these executions was rare even by their gruesome standards. Iran retaliated through bombastic rhetoric, stating, “God’s hand of retaliation will grip the neck of Saudi politicians.” The two countries have broken off diplomatic relations, a tension that has rippled across the region. 

 

TagsSaudi Arabia, political, conflict, Iran, Middle East.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a good reminder that the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not just a Persian/Arab, Sunni/Shiite issue.  This isn't just some resurgence of an ancient battle but there are many modern geopolitical issues including oil and regional rivalries.

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Corine Ramos's curator insight, January 22, 12:05 PM

This is a good reminder that the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not just a Persian/Arab, Sunni/Shiite issue.  This isn't just some resurgence of an ancient battle but there are many modern geopolitical issues including oil and regional rivalries.

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Xinjiang Seethes Under Chinese Crackdown

Xinjiang Seethes Under Chinese Crackdown | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"The Chinese government has introduced unprecedented measures aimed at shaping the behavior and beliefs of China’s 10 million Uighurs." http://wp.me/p2Ij6x-60y

Seth Dixon's insight:

This NY Times article is a good update on the situation of Xianjiang.  I wish this was available when I wrote this article (with links for more teaching resources) for the National Geographic Education Blog on the always simmering tensions in the China's westernmost province.  

 

TagsCentral Asia, culturepoliticalconflictgovernance,ChinaEast AsiareligionIslamlandscape.

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Saudi Arabia forms 34-nation Islamic alliance to fight terrorists

Saudi Arabia forms 34-nation Islamic alliance to fight terrorists | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries with embattled militaries such as Libya and Yemen.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is too new for me to speculate as to the effectiveness or support that this new alliance will have.  What are the national, regional, and global motives of each of these 34 states?  I think we will all keep an eye on this moving forward  (Articles from CS Monitor, CNN and Al Jazeera).  Not everyone is convinced that this is anything more than public relations.

 

Tags:  political, terrorismIslam, geopolitics.

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Treathyl Fox's curator insight, December 25, 2015 10:45 AM

Does Allah know we (non-Muslims) needs peacemaking friends in the Muslim world?  Just thinkin'.

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How Many People Have Been Shot in Your Neighborhood This Year? This Map Will Tell You.

How Many People Have Been Shot in Your Neighborhood This Year? This Map Will Tell You. | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Thanks to a nonprofit, nonpartisan project known as the Gun Violence Archive, data on gun homicides and nonfatal shootings is now available well before the federal government releases its statistics. Those data include location information that makes it possible to plot those shootings on a map showing how many have taken place in your vicinity."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Perspectives of gun rights and public safety are highly divided.  Part of those divisions are ideological, but there are also big differences between urban and rural America.  This map of the NRA's "report card" on the legislators of Congress shows some pretty powerful spatial patterns.  This interactive map of people how have been shot this year shows a decidedly differnt pattern that the first.  See also this infographic of mass shooting in the United States.

 

Questions to Ponder: How do most people feel about the second amendment where you live?  What about your local geography might influence those opinions? 

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Chinese forces 'used flamethrowers' in Xinjiang operation

Chinese forces 'used flamethrowers' in Xinjiang operation | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"A Chinese military newspaper gives graphic details of a raid in Xinjiang province against suspected militants." http://wp.me/p2Ij6x-60y 

Seth Dixon's insight:

This BBC article gives an update on China's crackdown on Uighur nationalism under the guise of cracking down of 'foreign terrorists.'  Earlier this year I wrote this article for the National Geographic Education Blog on this topic, the always simmering tensions in the China's westernmost province of Xinjiang.  


TagsCentral Asia, political, conflictgovernance, China, East Asia.

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Matthew Richmond's curator insight, December 2, 2015 12:11 PM

As a student who someday wants to teach social studies at the high school level, this article brought to light one of the hardest concepts to teach. There are always two sides to every story. While the victors get to write history, the victims are often silenced over time. One man's violent rebellion is another man's treasonous operations. Honestly, the Chinese have done an excellent job of keeping this out of the western media. The only real struggle we ever hear about in China that of Tibet and Taiwan.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 12:37 PM

This is really disturbing to know that China is attacking their ethnic minority who is just protesting for what they believing in. To make things worst, the Chinese government controls the media and they basically can say whatever they want. For example, referring to these ethnic minority as foreign terrorist. That changes the perspective on how people view and perceive the situation happening in Xinjiang.

Anneliese Sjogren's curator insight, December 10, 2015 9:49 PM

This is really interesting to me, because before we learned about this in class I didn't know anything about these ethnic minorities. I think that it is sad how they are not accepted for their differences, and have to assimilate to the rest of the country's culture while they lose their own.

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Putin: Turkey's downing of jet a 'stab in the back'

Putin: Turkey's downing of jet a 'stab in the back' | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Russian warplane crashes in Latakia province in Syria and two pilots seen ejecting from the aircraft.
Seth Dixon's insight:

A border is not a line in the sand but a vertical plane, defining airspace as well as underground assets. The protection of borders and airspace is something that sovereign states take very seriously and can lead to some tense situations.  


Tags: borders, political, conflict, geopolitics.

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Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 4:48 PM

it is truly insane that turkey would shoot down a Russian jet engaging anyone in Syria, especially when the Turks are shooting at the Kurds, who are fighting the people that the Turks claim to hate. this is especially troubling, as Turkey is a part of NATO and may drag the rest of the NATO nations into any war they start.

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ISIS: A New Threat

ISIS: A New Threat | Geography Education | Scoop.it

In this lesson, students will:

  • Explore the role of ISIS in the Middle East
  • Interpret political cartoons on the U.S. response to ISIS
  • Identify the techniques used by cartoonists to express political opinion
  • Monitor the news media coverage of ISIS over time
Seth Dixon's insight:

The Choices Program produces some great materials and this is from their Teaching with the News series.  The newest in the series is a resource guide for the terrorist attacks in Paris.  


Tags:  political, terrorism, conflict, geopolitics, ISIS, Choices.

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Paris Bloodshed May Be the Latest of Many ISIS Attacks Around the World

Paris Bloodshed May Be the Latest of Many ISIS Attacks Around the World | Geography Education | Scoop.it
At least a dozen countries have had attacks since the Islamic State, or ISIS, began to pursue a global strategy in the summer of 2014.
Seth Dixon's insight:


Tags:  political, terrorism, conflict, geopolitics, ISIS.

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Chelsea Martines's curator insight, November 21, 2015 3:41 PM
The Paris attacks from ISIS are now being discovered as linked to other attacks that ISIS has planned out. They have up until now according to the article, done 'lone wolf' attacks and now are changing to bigger and city kind of attacks across the globe. They are taking over much of the Middle East and Africa, in hopes to make that area chaotic enough to start more global conflict and another world war, accoring to the article. There have been studies and research in tracking ISIS and they have found that attacks in many other cities in the world have been inspired by ISIS as well.
Matthew Richmond's curator insight, December 2, 2015 12:23 PM

These maps were very helpful in understanding the spread and threat of ISIS. It also helps the understanding of just what a wide range of places they have attacked is. They are capable of striking much of the world in the name of fundamentalism. However, the video of Muslim's chanting is one of those things that can kind of turn down the fear, especially of admitting refugees, that has gripped much of the world. We are as safe as we can be, but idea's are bulletproof and there's no end in sight to the elimination of Islamic Fundamentalism.

Lindley Amarantos's curator insight, December 4, 2015 10:55 AM

Read this article and fill out your Socratic seminar question sheet for the inner/outer circle on Tues, Dec 8

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Catalonia independence: Parliament votes to start secession from Spain

Catalonia independence: Parliament votes to start secession from Spain | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Spanish region of Catalonia adopts a resolution supporting independence from Spain, but Spain's PM says his government will challenge it.


Tags: Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomyEurope, culture.

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Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 11:45 AM

I've never heard of this country until recently when I came across a video on youtube about it. In my opinion, Catalonia has the right to secede from Spain because there are many ethnic group wanting their own dependence around the world and it doesn't feel like it's a part of another country. However, it all comes down to politics and Spain wants as much territory as it can get. Plus Catalonia is doing pretty for itself and the Spanish definitely want a part of that.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 1:25 PM

the Catalonia independence movement is just a small part of a large number of regions which were once autonomous and wish to be again. with so many of these areas in Europe the independence movements are finding hard to get support from other nations.

Raymond Dolloff's curator insight, December 15, 2015 1:29 AM

Challenging succession is a difficult task. First of all, there has to be a vote by the people and there has to be a strong driving force to get a positive outcome on the vote. The Prime Minister of Spain claims he will try to block it by filing a suit with the Constitutional Court. Succession of a country faces many hurdles especially if it does not have a strong vote to succeed and the opposition vote is strong.

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Russia and the Curse of Geography

Russia and the Curse of Geography | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Want to understand why Putin does what he does? Look at a map.


As things stand, Putin, like Russian leaders before him, likely feels he has no choice but to at least try to control the flatlands to Russia’s west. So it is with landscapes around the world—their physical features imprison political leaders, constraining their choices and room for maneuver. These rules of geography are especially clear in Russia, where power is hard to defend, and where for centuries leaders have compensated by pushing outward.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Calling this environmental determinism might be a stretch but so is some of the vocabulary (I take it with a grain of salt because the analysis is sound).  This article though certainly puts Russia's physical geography at the forefront of the geopolitical analysis of Russia's move's in both Syria and Ukraine.  Their strategic interests become much more comprehensible in light of their geographic challenges


Tags: UkraineRussia, geopoliticspolitical.

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Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 20, 2015 1:13 PM

When land geography and political agendas clash. This article helps us understand the motives behind Putin's attempts to expand and claim land. Access to water ways and natural mountain buffers to war are natural important geographical resources behind political actions.

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, November 25, 2015 9:41 AM

The majority of politicians around the world, from what I've seen through debates and rallies are fabricated speeches by politicians for the outcome of gaining more votes. I personally don't trust any politician. When it comes to power, politicians will do what ever it takes to use their power and make it stronger. Of course each politician wants their community and their country to be successful and grand. In this post it looks like Putin wants to control lands in Russia's west because he see's potential and possibilities for his country.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 7:11 PM

This reminds me of the reason Russia fought Afganistan because it wanted to expand its borders especially if Russia could get control of the Wakhan corridor

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Why Americans should care about the Canadian election

Why Americans should care about the Canadian election | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The close race comes after a decade of leadership by Stephen Harper, whose relationship with Barack Obama has suffered. But a victory for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals on Monday could help the US and Canada forge renewed ties
Seth Dixon's insight:

Last night the Liberals in Canada had a resounding victory...this will profoundly impact Canadian politics but also will change some of the frostiness in U.S.-Canadian relations.  Trudeau was stated that Canada will return to its old role in the world by reversing many of the conservative stances of the Harper government instituted over these last 10 years. 

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Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, November 9, 2015 3:12 PM

As Americans, we often forget about how major a player Canada is in all of our economic sectors. But, despite the ignorance of most American citizens on Canadian politics, the results of the coming election in Canada will have a major impact on the lives of every US citizen in the next few years (at least until the next US presidential election).

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This Is My Land

How do the Palestinian and Israeli (Arab and Jewish) education systems teach the history of their nations? The film follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers over one academic year. Observing their exchanges and confrontations with students, debates with the ministries curriculum and its restrictions, the viewers obtain an intimate glimpse into the profound and long lasting effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict transmits onto the next generation.


Tags: Israel, Palestine, conflict, borders, territoriality, political, Middle East.

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Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 22, 2015 8:01 AM

The teaching of history is often very political. You can not separate history from politics. The majority of history class end up focusing on some form of political history. History is all about interpretation. There is no one exact way to interpret an event. This opens up the discipline to being used to foster certain political ideals. Every leader of a nation will try to justify his or hers actions by finding an historical precedent. The history taught in Israeli schools, is going to be pro Israeli. The same is true for the Palestinians. Each side is looking to justify their current polices by telling an historical narrative from their own point of view. Each successive generation will learn the history the government wants them to know.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 1:47 PM

It's very interesting to see what the Palestinian perceive as peace/freedom as and what the Israelis vice versa. The education systems in both nation influence their beliefs on this idea of freedom. The Israelis see freedom as not having the constant fear of being harmed by their neighboring country. On the other hand, the Palestinian see freedom as claiming back their land and driving the Jews away from it. It is truly sad to know that there is a very little chance that peace will exist in this region.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 6:41 PM

this is an interesting example of how the teachings of a certain group can influence the perception of the world around you, especially when you are young.

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Timeline of the Breakup of Yugoslavia

Map animation depicting the break up of Yugoslavia through the series of political upheavals and conflicts that occurred from the early 1990's onwards. Different areas of control are colour coded.

 

Tags: devolutionhistorical, political, states, borders, political, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia.

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Countries Rush for Upper Hand in Antarctica

Countries Rush for Upper Hand in Antarctica | Geography Education | Scoop.it
For decades to come, Antarctica is supposed to be protected as a scientific preserve. But an array of countries are eager to assert greater influence.

 

TagsAntarcticaclimate changepoliticalresources, sovereignty.

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Where ISIS Gained and Lost Territory This Year

Where ISIS Gained and Lost Territory This Year | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Islamic State has lost 14 percent of the territory it held in January, according to a new analysis.

 

Tags:  political, terrorism, conflict.

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Saudi women allowed to vote for first time

Saudi women allowed to vote for first time | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"On Saturday 12 December people in Saudi Arabia go to the polls. This is a rare event in itself, but on this occasion women in the country will be voting and standing for office for the first time in history. Voting for the municipal elections take place across Saudi Arabia, but we managed to speak to the first women to register to vote in the capital Riyadh."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Tomorrow, Saudi women will have their first opportunity to vote.  Voting power in this kingdom is limited but time will tell if this was merely a symbolic gesture of appeasement or the beginning of greater social changes. 

 

TagsSaudi Arabia, genderMiddle East.

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Chelsea Martines's curator insight, December 13, 2015 10:58 PM
Saudi Arabia has mad a change in their society. They are now giving women's rights and giving them sufferage. This is a rare event, according to the journalist, as Saudi Arabian women do no normally get rights such as these. The journalist was able to interview and talk to a women who was able to register to vote. They got many insights from her about his it feels to now be able to participate in choosing their country's leaders
John Peterson's comment, December 19, 2015 1:38 PM
Very interesting story.
Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, January 4, 4:35 AM

Saudi women allowed to vote for first time

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Power Distribution: Unitary, Confederation, and Federal

an easy, graphical way to learn the three forms of government power distribution.
Seth Dixon's insight:

In the unit on the political organization of space, one of the items listed to understand is the various forms of governance, including unitary, federal, and confederate forms of government.


Questions to Ponder: What are the advantages and disadvantages of each system?  How do this impact the human geography and how does the human geography help to shape these governance systems?  What real world examples can you think of for these categories? 


Tags: APHG, political, governance, unit 4 political, video

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The Myth of the Caliphate

The Myth of the Caliphate | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Myth Article #1: Western pundits and nostalgic Muslim thinkers alike have built up a narrative of the caliphate as an enduring institution, central to Islam and Islamic thought between the seventh and twentieth centuries. In fact, the caliphate is a political or religious idea whose relevance has waxed and waned according to circumstances.


Myth Article #2: ISIS may use terrorism as a tactic, but it is not a terrorist organization. Rather, it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army. So the counterterrorism strategies that were useful against al Qaeda won’t work in the fight against ISIS.


Myth Video #1: This video points to the reasons that recruits are attracted to extremism (not just poverty and ignorance).


Tags: politicalgovernance, religion, Islam, historical, terrorism, geopolitics, ISIS.

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Luis Cesar Nunes's curator insight, November 26, 2015 5:12 AM

Myth

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, November 30, 2015 2:32 PM

The idea of the Caliphate seems to be more of what all the groups which called themselves Caliphates seem to be pursuing. It seems to me that the fact of the matter is less important than the idea, as what happened one hundred years ago is far less important than what is believed to have happened. That ISIS is a state can be argued, but the fact that they are fighting a conventional war is indisputable. Yes, the tactics we use must be shifted, but this means that support from aircraft or by indirect means are even more viable than they were during the Second Gulf War.

 

 

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More Mexicans leave than enter USA in historic shift

More Mexicans leave than enter USA in historic shift | Geography Education | Scoop.it
After four decades of mass migration to the U.S., more Mexicans are now returning home.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Mexican migration to and from the United States is a contentious topic where political ideology can be louder than the actual statistics.  Since 2009, more Mexicans have been leaving the United States than entering it, and now news outlets are noticing since the PEW Research Center finalized a study on the topic.  Demographic and economic shifts in both countries have led to this reversal.      


Tags: Mexico, migration, borders, political.   

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Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 9:44 PM

With less jobs now in the u.s. and the economic growth in Mexico this is a good reason for Mexicans to head back home. What people do not realize at least I did not is the fact that there is a lot of entrepreneurship on the streets of Mexico. Since 2000 the changes that have occurred in Mexico is economy, education, politics and lower birth rates. 

Matthew Richmond's curator insight, December 2, 2015 12:17 PM

The first thing I thought while I was reading this was "I wonder if Donald Trump, and his flock of moron followers have seen these statistics?" I mean, never let the truth get in the way of a good hate speech right?! But as I continued reading I couldn't help but worry about the effect this could have on the American economy. The truth is that illegal's do the work we aren't willing to do. Do you know any American kids who want to work in the fields of Alabama picking watermelon's for $5 an hour? Hell, do you know any American kids who want to work, period? Do I actually think a watermelon is worth $13?

John Puchein's curator insight, December 4, 2015 6:51 AM

Due to a Mexican economy rebounding and a slow down in the American economy making it harder to find jobs, we are seeing a change in Mexican immigration patterns. While this has been suspected for years, Pew research finalized a study. 

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Why Somaliland is not a recognized state

Why Somaliland is not a recognized state | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"SOMALILAND, a slim slice of Somali-inhabited territory on the southern shore of the Gulf of Aden, ticks almost all the boxes of statehood. It has its own currency, a reasonably effective bureaucracy and a trained army and police force. But it has yet to receive official recognition from a single foreign government in the years since it declared independence in 1991. To the outside world, it is an autonomous region of Somalia, subject to the Somali Federal Government (SFG) in Mogadishu. Why is it not a state?  Throughout the post-independence era, geopolitics in Africa has tended to respect 'colonial borders', i.e. the borders laid down by European colonial powers in the 19th century. Across the continent, there have been only two significant alterations to the colonial map since the 1960s: the division of Eritrea from Ethiopia, in 1993; and South Sudan from Sudan, in 2011."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Somaliland is a 'pocket of stability in a chaotic region.' The global community fears that granting recognition to a Somaliland might led to further devolution, even if the unrecognized government is functioning.  This is an excellent article from the Economist that demonstrates some of the key requirements to be a state, political and regional geography.  For another example of political geography of aspiring states, here is an article about the limited prospects of a future Kurdish state.      

 

Tags: devolutionpolitical, states, sovereignty, autonomy, unit 4 political, Somalia, Africa.

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Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 19, 2015 1:35 PM

unit 4

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, November 19, 2015 1:35 PM

unit 4

Raymond Dolloff's curator insight, December 14, 2015 11:55 PM

Like many new developing countries, it is hard to overcome the hardships to prove that you deserve to be recognized as a new nation. Being recognized as a true nation means that there is political and economic stability within a country. The area where Somaliland is located is very unstable. Its parent nation, Somalia is very unstable. For example, in Somalia, there are pirates who hijack mariners and take them and the vessel hostage. Stability within a country is a major aspect for the international community to look at to recognize new countries.

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Paris attacks mark a shift in ISIS-Al Qaeda relations

Paris attacks mark a shift in ISIS-Al Qaeda relations | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"The attacks suggest that ISIS is being forced into 'mainstream' terrorism long before it had planned to and a terrible meeting of the minds between Al Qaeda and ISIS."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is more 'instant analysis' than a sustained inquiry into the attacks, so take the conclusions with a grain of salt.  However, the idea that the strategic aims of ISIS (a.k.a.-IS, ISIL) and Al-Qaeda are starting to align is worth investing.  


Tags:  political, terrorism, conflict, geopolitics.

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IRENE's curator insight, November 15, 2015 8:09 AM

Los ataques que sufrió París ya han sido reivindicados por el ISIS.

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Empire, Republic, Democracy: A History of Turkey

"The curriculum 'Empire, Republic, Democracy: A History of Turkey' traces the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the birth of the Turkish Republic, and contemporary issues in Turkey. Learn more at www.choices.edu/turkey "

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video is a great introduction to the Choices Program's new unit on Turkey...a country that is truly a bridge between the Middle East and Europe, without being fully in either.   This unique global position makes Turkey a very important country to understand both culturally and politically.


Tags: politicalculture, Turkeyhistorical.

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Matthew Richmond's curator insight, November 23, 2015 2:24 PM

Turkey has always been a country that I find interesting. So many amazing architectural structures and landscapes. I have two friends from high school who work there in the peace corps. I asked them what it's like and they couldn't really describe it. They said it isn't really Arabic but it certainly isn't western either. This was a good introductory video on the area.

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China's Maritime Claims

ONE reason China’s spectacular rise sometimes alarms its neighbours is that it is not a status quo power. From its inland, western borders to its eastern and southern seaboard, it claims territory it does not control.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Many of the geopolitical conflicts in the East Pacific have their roots in the territorial disputes over islands that at first glance seem as if they wouldn't be worth the trouble; how did this become a tense situation?  Since the UNCLOS agreement gives countries 200 nautical miles off their coasts to be an Exclusive Economic Zone, that greatly enhanced the strategic value of controlling these islands and the shipping lanes.  The United States, to counter Chinese claims, has used the Navy to go near some of the claimed (and reclaimed) islands recently.  This interactive map briefly highlights some of the details behind the conflicts with links for further readings. 


Questions to Ponder: Why do countries care so much about some minor islands?  Why would other countries not want to accept China's territorial assertions?


Tags: borders, political, conflict, China, East Asia.

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Chris Costa's curator insight, November 25, 2015 3:06 PM

Chinese expansion into the South Sea has been a longtime coming, and China's actions in the region are both a reflection of its growing strength and a huge diplomatic headache for the US and every other nation in the region. China's construction of artificial islands allows it to claim autonomy over a larger body of water, challenging the maritime power of every other nation in South East Asia, many of whom have economies reliant on the waters China now claims as its own, some 500 miles away from the Chinese mainland. With the emergence of the Chinese economy as a global power, its ambitious leaders have made plans to transform China from a regional military force to a new superpower- one that the established order, the US included, is entirely unsure of. Which of these nations can truly challenge China's decision to make these waters it's personal pond? It would be economic and political suicide, as China is an enormous global trading power, and has the potential to crush any of these nations in a military engagement. Could Japan? Perhaps, but the Chinese have already pressed ahead with their plans, regardless of Japanese political pressure. Involvement of the US is perhaps the last thing anyone wants- particularly both the US and China- but it is perhaps the only way China will heed pressure from abroad and cease  Chinese expansion in the region. The US and China must be allies, for the sake of global prosperity, but actions like these cannot be tolerated, by either party.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 7:51 PM

One reason to care about minor islands is the 200 nautical miles off the coast for the EEZ. This would give china more water territory for drilling of oil which I believe is there in those waters. Flexing more muscle for their navy to grow. Strategically the Chinese could take over these small islands and build air strips for future which would give them a chance to reach places they wouldn't be able to before and this would be good supply transactions during war, fueling, maneuver of man power. The other small countries also would lose their independence and would have to fall under china's rule. With the building of the man made islands and the Chinese navy protecting their people while they continue to build these islands and daring anyone to try and stop them is a sign that china is trying to dominate and expand with muscle. It is their time they have the economic, and military power to do so. Of course they don't want to deal with the u.s. and their allies militarily but it doesn't benefit the u.s. either. I don't believe u.s. wants to get involved in a battle with china and their allies.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 8:17 PM

Claiming territory it does not control, causes a lot of controversy with other country. The main problem here now is China is having a dispute with Japan about some islands. There could possibly be oil or natural resources.Japan says that the land was always theirs. China clearly likes to just put itself out there and make claims or place oil rigs wherever. This could be a big problem for them because if someone gets too offended by their actions there could end up being a war or some sort of conflict. Especially since they like to use military forces such as navy and air guarding "territory." 

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Syria's war: Who is fighting and why

Watch how the Syrian civil war became the mess it is today.
Seth Dixon's insight:

A few weeks back I posted a shorter (90 seconds) BBC video on the Syrian war.  This Vox video adds more detail and includes a very helpful timeline to show how more internal and external forces became involved in the fighting.  This is an incredibly complicated geopolitical situation because of all the regional and international players involved.  


TagsSyria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics.

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Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 4, 2015 5:10 PM

I read articles about the Syrian war and watched this film and I got to tell you it sure is confusing. The picture on one of the websites that really disturbed me is the father holding his lifeless  8 or 9 year old daughter in his arms. I have a 9 year old daughter and it was her birthday on that day I saw the picture. Sometimes it is better emotionally to be ignorant about what is going on in the world.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, December 7, 2015 1:37 PM

Syrian civil war has escalated into a proxy wars between many nations that all have different goals in mind. It all started from the Arab Spring and is still on-going because there are many sides taking place and none of them wants to back down. Mainly due to the emerge of the Islamic State that cause a shift in the war of fighting a terrorism organization to fighting the different factions within Syria. 

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, December 16, 2015 5:19 PM

An interesting and well written breakdown of the Syrian war and its local, regional and global factors that have caused the escalation to this point. It should however be pointed out that some of the information within the video is actually wrong. The United Nations did a investigation and report regarding the use of chemical weapons and found ti was the rebels not Assad who had used them. Furthermore it leaves out some reports from the initial protests in Syria that some of them were armed with weapons and fired on police (suggesting that instead of one side it was mutual escalation). Plus much of the fighting in Syria is also sectarian with Shiites backing Assad and the Sunnis backing Assad's opposition (prior global intervention). If these pieces of information were corrected in addition to talking about the Kurdish predicament a bit more along with the origins of ISIS the video would be perfect. So in a way I suppose the video kind of left out important local geographic details that influenced the regional and global ones.