Global politics and foreign affairs from around the globe
Curated by Seth Dixon
"Pacific walrus that can't find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska. An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Point Lay is an Inupiat Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage."
|Suggested by Amanda Morgan|
An excruciating mosquito-borne illness that arrived less than a year ago in the Americas is raging across the region, leaping from the Caribbean to the Central and South American mainland, and infecting more than 1 million people. Some cases already have emerged in the United States.
The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. That same American baby is about twice as likely to die in her first year as a Spanish or Korean one.
Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia. Or in Belarus. Or in Cuba, for that matter.
The U.S. rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births masks considerable state-level variation. If Alabama were a country, its rate of 8.7 infant deaths per 1,000 would place it slightly behind Lebanon in the world rankings. Mississippi, with its 9.6 deaths, would be somewhere between Botswana and Bahrain.
"I often ask students and audiences a quirky question: "What is the capital of Latin America?" Of course, it is a region of a couple dozen sovereign countries and the colonies of several empires, so there is no real capital. But if there were, I assert, it would be MIA: Miami International Airport. Specifically, the American Airlines hub at MIA is the nexus of most of the hemisphere, as illustrated in this 2002 route map."
"In a paper published Thursday in Science, demographers from several universities and the United Nations Population Division conclude that instead of leveling off in the second half of the 21st century, as the UN predicted less than a decade ago, the world's population will continue to grow beyond 2100."
These articles from the Guardian and National Geographic were first I'd heard of the new population projections for the future. For many years it was assumed that the global population would level out at around 9 billion, but these new projections indicate that it is much more likely that the total global population will be much higher than that.
The Kiwi premier wants to hold a referendum next year on whether to remake New Zealand's national flag.
The New Zealand Prime Minster, John Key, thinks that the country deserves a new flag and will vote on it next year. The New Zealand flag depicts the Southern Cross star constellation (in red stars) as well as Britain's Union Jack in the upper left corner. Those promoting change feel that the symbolism is too similar to the Australian flag (with white stars above) and does not reflect New Zealand's independence from Britain. During Scotland's bid for independence, the status of the UK's fabled Union Jack was in doubt, and many in New Zealand began to question the wisdom of tying their national symbols to other countries that might change in the future.
"the real capital of air pollution in the U.S. is a farming city that sits to the northwest of L.A.: Bakersfield.
Bakersfield is in the San Joaquin Valley, a major agricultural area that stretches through much of California. The San Joaquin Valley contains some of the richest, most productive agricultural land in the country. But its geography — the valley is surrounded on all sides by mountains — creates a bowl that traps air pollution. Levels of soot and ozone — which in warm weather, which the valley has much of the year, can create smog — are some of the highest in the country. And while air in much of the U.S. has improved, in Bakersfield and other towns in the southern San Joaquin Valley, the air quality is as bad as ever — if not worse."
Detailed results from the the 32 local government areas in the Scottish independence referendum.
The quick spatial analysis of the Scottish Independence vote:
The Global Well-Being Index gauges people's perceptions of their well-being by looking at financial status and other factors.
Panama may be the happiest country in the world, racking up the highest score in the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index for 2013.
In contrast, conflict-afflicted countries such as Syria and Afghanistan showed the lowest scores in this survey of 135 countries. The United States came in at number 14 in the poll.
The Global Well-Being Index aims to gauge people's perceptions of their well-being, by looking at financial status as well as four other factors that contribute to well-being: social well-being, which means having supportive relationships and love in life; community well-being, which is about liking one's place of residence; having purpose and goals; and physical health.
"Will Scotland follow the same fate as any of the other young nations in the world? Perhaps, but probably not. A glance down the list of the nine newest sovereign states below reveals that each situation is unique: It's hard to fully equate Scotland's situation with that of Slovakia, let alone with East Timor.
Even so, a glance back at history does show that the world's borders are changing more than we might appreciate: And the changes can sometimes take some time to settle."
The recent histories of new countries getting started is important to reflect on as the world might get a new addition to this list.
"What would happen to Trident on the Clyde, what kind of Army would an independent Scotland have and how much would it cost?
These are just some of the questions being asked as part of the referendum debate on defence."
This simple animation shows how the Scottish independence question is much more complicated because of the UK's involvement with the EU and Scotland's presumed future with that supranational organization.
Abd al-Wahhab argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessi...
This is a very interesting article that links the issues that ISIS pose with Saudi Arabia's current ambivalence about whether to back ISIS are repudiate them. Much of Saudi Arabia is split on the topic.
The Nordic countries are paradigms of equality, good education, female empowerment, and progressiveness. We know this because we are told. And told and told and told. To take one example, the latest Global Gender Gap rankings from the World Economic Forum were topped by Iceland (for the fifth year...
This is an interesting op-ed, highlighting that the Nordic rankings are achieved in ways that are unthinkable in the United States political paradigm.
JOHANNESBURG — When Canadian tourist Shauna Magill posted on Facebook that she’d arrived safely in Uganda, a friend warned her to beware of “a thing called Ebola please.”
It shouldn't be too surprising that misconceptions about African geography has led to travelers are increasingly canceling trips to Africa, regardless of where on the continent it may be. Here are some accurate maps and data to help inform our decisions.
I'm NOT agreeing this with the premise of this article, but I put it forward as a some reading material to help students form their own opinions on current events and geopolitical matters; part of shaping your own opinion is finding out where you agree and disagree with any given author.
"Russia has hit back in an online spat with Canada over its operations in Ukraine.Canada’s NATO delegation initially sent a sarcastic barb on Twitter, patronisingly pointing out where the Russia-Ukraine border was. It was in response to Vladimir Putin’s claims that Russian soldiers had crossed into Ukraine territory by accident."
I must admit that I'm enjoying these passive-aggressive forays into cyber-diplomacy.
Drag your cursor (on a computer) or swipe your finger (on a phone or tablet) across each photo below. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina photo will dissolve into a picture from the identical vantage point nine years later. CANAL STREET...
This is a well-curated gallery of before and after images.
|Suggested by Rakesh Nair|
The risk of an eruption at Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano has increased, with signs of "ongoing magma movement", Iceland's meteorological office says.
Given that Iceland is right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and active spot of sea-floor spreading, volcanic activity is always a threat. This is one reason why the beauty of this island has been described as a combination of fire and ice.
Young Americans are showing far less fervent support for Israel than older generations.
Many older Americans can still recall the Six-Day War in 1967 or the Yom Kippur War in 1973, during which Israel’s very existence seemed to be threatened by its Arab neighbors.
By contrast, “young Americans have grown up with Israel as an incredible superpower in the region, and with occupation and intifada,” said Ira Stup of J Street, the liberal-leaning pro-Israel lobby group. “Young Americans often have a vision of Israel vis-a-vis Palestine that is more in line with what is going on now.”
There is no mistaking the depth of the generational split.
Late last month, Gallup asked Americans whether Israel’s recent actions against Hamas were justified or unjustified. Those who were 65 or older backed Israel by a wide margin: 55 percent to 31 percent. But those aged between 18 and 29, said by more than a two-to-one margin — 51 percent to 25 percent — that Israel’s actions were unjustified.