Seeing the World More Clearly
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Japan's Geographic Challenge

Stratfor examines Japan's primary geographic challenge of sustaining its large population with little arable land and few natural resources. For more analysi...

Via Seth Dixon
Emma Lafleur's insight:

Japan's geography has directly affected its foreign policy. Its history has also shows Japan's geopgraphic challenges because Japan doesn't have enough resources to sustain its people and therefore needs to expand, and throughout history they have used force and the military to gain the resources they need while they now use trade. This is a good video that summarizes why Japan has done the things it has done and the challenges they face.

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Kevin Cournoyer's comment, May 1, 2013 12:51 AM
Unlike other larger, more geographically diverse countries, Japan is faced with the problem of a general lack of farmable land and natural resources. The fact that the country is itself an island does not make things any easier for it in an economic sense. The way the country is divided up also makes for a difficult political situation, as mountain ranges create division, and therefore, political disunity.
The proximity of the Korean peninsula and China to Japan is also important to examine. Whenever Japan wishes to acquire natural resources and other economically beneficial materials, Korea is the conduit through which Japan tends to invade the mainland, usually China. Because of this, we can see how Japan’s geographic location may cause strained relationships with its neighbors, both politically and economically. Alienating two of its closest neighbors would clearly be a disastrous move for Japan, but it may be seen as necessary due to its unfortunate geographic location.
Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, November 27, 2013 5:31 PM

It would make sense to me that for a place like Japan to sustain itself successfully, it would have to have some help from other areas with more resources.  Again with the concept- people don't choose to be born, or where they are born... To be born in Japan is as unchosen by that person as it would be in any other country.  I don't think people should have to pay for resources that they do not have available, especially because they are on an island/island chain that simply doesn't have what they need.  I am really repulsed by the bartering system because of absolute indication of beyond excessive surplus and profit and greed and all that garbage that humanity reeks of.  Yeah some people are happy, but we could be completely unburdened of all negativity if we banded together to rid the world of negativity itself.  I know that Japan would be happy to receive everything that they need for no cost, but I also know that many people would be willing to work, and more willing to work, if they didn't have expenses to pay for... it would really be serving their life's purpose as a component of humankind if they worked to help others, rather than to pay their monthly rent.  I don't have a clue how I would go about organizing a movement to transform this idea into a reality, but I'll work on that.  In the mean time, I would advise supranationalism for Japan, and hope that with the alliance of other countries, they can band together and make deals that work for the greater good of their country, population, and the world.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, April 10, 2014 10:58 AM

This short video did a great job in explaining why Japan became expansionist in the decades leading up to WW II.  The mountainous nature of the islands and lack of arable land challenges Japan to provide food for its people.  To understand Japan you must understand her geography, this helps to understand why a country acted the way it did in the past and can be a predictor of future actions. 

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A Life Revealed

A Life Revealed | Seeing the World More Clearly | Scoop.it
Seventeen years after she stared out from the cover of National Geographic, a former Afghan refugee comes face-to-face with the world once more.

 

The original cover is one of the more famous National Geographic photos of all time, and yet the woman in the photograph has not lived a life as though millions of people could recognize her eyes.  This is her story. 


Via Seth Dixon
Emma Lafleur's insight:

Both these two pictures and the article illustrate the life of Afghan refugees. There is only a fifteen year difference between the two pictures, and this woman looks as if she has aged much more than those fifteen years. The picture shows the hardships she has gone through, and the article goes more in depth and describes her day to day life, and knowing her life is important. The life of one ordinary person gives great insight into the culture and society of Afghan refugees, and those all around her. However, even without the article, the picture illustrates so much about life as a refugee that words cannot describe. This shows new insights and perspectives of the world around us.

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, November 3, 2014 1:58 PM

You can see in this woman's face that the years have been hard for her living as refugee. Although this seems like National Geographic giving themselves a pat on the back it is important to remember that this women became a national symbol for refugees and yet her life did not improve and furthermore she had no idea that her picture was so well known.

David Lizotte's curator insight, February 27, 2015 6:36 PM

I never would have imagined the "Afghan girl" being alive. It's amazing how National Geographic was able to catch up and speak with her and photograph her. This demonstrates the pure professionalism and global outreach national geographic has. 

One of the things I am most thankful about is that I do not live in a war torn society. Being separated from my family, forced to flee and become a refugee is a horrid way of life that I know I would struggle to endure. Some Afghanistan people have been doing this for over twenty years. 

One time I was having a discussion with my friend. We talking about America and the westernized part of the world. He and I agreed how lucky we were to be born in America. We were born white males in the United States of America. We could have been born a woman living in Iran or Iraq, or even as a little rural Afghan boy whom would eventually be taken and abused by theTaliban. We kept going on with different scenarios and different countries. 

Want I want for people to realize is how advanced the United States of America is. Yes, we have our problems... but non comparable to other nations. Look at nations such as Afghanistan, Iraq, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. These are first world nations which have war torn regions occupied by terrorists of all sorts. They also have little to no functioning government, although Afghanistan is improving. Even second world nations, although developing at a steady pace are plagued with an exponential amount of violent crimes and corruption. South Africa would be a prime example. 

Its amazing to read about the "Afghan girl"(s) or better yet Sharbat Gula. After all she has gone through she still has hope for her younger children. After enduring such a life of foul experiences she is still able to place all her faith into Allah and hope for the best for her children. It is also neat to see her place such a high level of importance on education. Education is the foundation for all development. 

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 2015 6:58 AM

These two images are rather striking. They depict seventeen years in the life a young female Afghani refuge. They depict seventeen years of hell. The woman in this photograph has lived a hard life. Seventeen years probably feels like fifty years to her. On her face, you see the effects of living a life as a refugee. A life of not having a true home or place that you can count on. A life of living in deplorable refugee camps. It is the shame of the world, that people are forced to live like this. Unfortunately this women's story is an all to common occurrence in Afghanistan. Thousands have suffered similar fates in refugee camps. We must never forget the suffering of these people.

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Botswana's 'Stunning Achievement' Against AIDS

A decade ago, Botswana was facing a national crisis as AIDS appeared on the verge of decimating the country's adult population. Now, the country provides free, life-saving AIDS drugs to almost all of its citizens who need them.

 

This is a great example, and possibly a template on how to tackle the AIDS/HIV crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Botswana was as hard hit as any country, but they fully invested their economic initiatives into tackling this and actively changed cultural attitudes and behaviors that faciliate transmission.  Not all is 'doom and gloom' when looking at poverty and disease-stricken countries.   


Via Seth Dixon
Emma Lafleur's insight:

    AIDS is spreading rapidly in Africa, and sometimes it seems as though no one is really doing anything to help. Botswana shows that there is a way to help and there is a way to lessen the impact that AIDS has on people's lives through government funded treatments.

     Botswana has spent a lot of money on HIV/AIDS research and treatments for their citizens, and the spread of the disease has drastically gone down since they have started their fight against it. They have especially decreased the AIDS tranmission from mother to child, so that the children born in the country have a better chance of surviving, and are not born with a death sentence. Also, people are living longer because less people are getting the disease and the people who do get the disease have access to the treatments that allow them to live longer.

      The access of medicine not only has an impact on the health of the country, it has an impact of each an every part. Since people live longer, there are more people working and building the economy and making the country better, and the society and country are more stable because there aren't so many people dying and so much fear about contracting AIDS.

      Also, other countries can look to Botswana as an example of how they can help their people, and the spread of AIDS can decrease across the continent. However, Botswana is a richer country because it has diamond reserves while other countries are poorer and may not be able to buy the medicines for all of the people. In addition, Botswanna is in the southern part of Africa and it has not been greatly affected by the Arab Spring. The countries that have had recent revolutions also may not be able to help with AIDS because they need to create stability and build governments first. Therefore, Botswana is a great step in the right direction and is a good model for other countries to follow, but there is a long way to go before the AIDS epidemic slows down.

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James Hobson's curator insight, November 3, 2014 8:36 PM

(Africa topic 9)

This video illustrates many of the factor which have contributed to Botswana's success (as well as other nations' failures) against HIV/AIDS. Preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS is not just a "yes or no" decision.

Many people live in areas where treatment is not available. Others live where treatment is available, but it is inconsistent or improper. And yet even some of those to whom proper treatment is available choose not to receive it.

Just as has been associated with cancer, many believe (and some statistics seem to support this, even if only indirectly) one's attitude is a major influence on one's outcome. The same can be said for the outcome of all those in a region as well. In this sense, a little can go a long way.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, November 22, 2014 4:13 PM

Media often depicts Africa and the HIV/AIDS crisis as a hopeless, out of control issue. Despite the media, Botswana has actually almost reversed its AIDS issues with diligent work by the government. Instead of relying on foreign aid, Botswana took matters into its own hands. Knowing that its people's survival was on the line, the government put both money and resources into finding ways to stop the spread and to make the lives of those infected much better. By changing the cultural outlook on the virus, people are starting to seek help and to no longer fear those with the disease. Botswana's new challenge will be to educate its people so they do not underestimate the treatable virus and practice prevention. 

Melissa Marie Falco-Dargitz's curator insight, November 23, 2014 2:04 PM

Working with the government can help improve the lives of people. Availability of drugs across social strata helps. 

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My escape from North Korea

"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."


Via Seth Dixon
Emma Lafleur's insight:

A sad but also inspiring story and an enlightening video. I see a lot of people who assume that the North Korean government and the people are one and the same, and that is not the case. It is important to realise the harsh conditions of people living in North Korea to fully understand what is happening in that part of the world. It is hard for people to leave their country and their home, but as Hyeonseo Lee explains, sometimes there is no choice.

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서병기's curator insight, November 6, 2014 7:00 PM

Because of the tragedies of history, there are still scattered family both in South and North Korea. Please hope for the unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Julia Kang's curator insight, November 6, 2014 8:45 PM

So many North Koreans are suffering from poverty. They do not have any food and we should pay more attention to them. This video was quite interesting!

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 16, 2015 9:37 PM

This TED talk is amazing and gives you a real life insight on what it is like to be a refugee.. This women's story is one of courage an strength. I was thoroughly surprised at how these people were being punished simply for trying to survive.

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The limits of freedom for educated girls in Malala's Pakistan

The limits of freedom for educated girls in Malala's Pakistan | Seeing the World More Clearly | Scoop.it
In a country this battered, fractured, dysfunctional – how much can she really hope to achieve?

 

The issue of female education in Pakistan has exploded after Malala Yousafzai was attacked by the Taliban for publicly advocating for girls to receive more schooling.  This attack has lead several media outlets to take a more serious look at the gendered cultural and economic opportunities (or lack thereof) for girls within Pakistan.  This NPR podcast also speaks of the real options in front of so many girls like Malala and the cultural and political contexts within which they navigate their lives.

 

Tags: gender, South Asia, podcast, culture, Islam, development, unit 3 culture, education.


Via Seth Dixon
Emma Lafleur's insight:

The middle school girls in this article show a lot of hope and confidence for change while their society may change more slowly than they would like. These girls are capable of great things and should be given the opportunities to be great, but they instead live in fear of the Taliban for killing them just because they want an education and have few job opportunities unless they can pay their way. In Pakistan, this is one of the first generation of girls who are being educated. Education is extremely important for them because they can finally fight for their rights and equality.

    English philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that women should have education and equality because society cannot progress without the women. Society cannot expect to progress while they oppress half of their population, women are needed in order to move forward and develop. The girls in the article state the same thing, they know that they can help their country and that they can change their society. They will have to start small, but one day women in Pakistan will have equality. These girls are one step along the road.

    Finally, the Taliban attack on Malala for her education has publicized this whole ordeal, and although this murder of an innocent child is saddening and terrible it has gotten people to finally notice what is going on for girls in Pakistan and people are finally noticing what the Taliban is doing. Hopefully, the government can make the right choices to help these girls grow and learn and be safe in their homes. Women of many cultures, including our own, have had to go through fights like these. Maybe Pakistan will be the next big chapter in the world's history of gender equality.

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Daishon Redden's curator insight, April 22, 2014 10:00 AM

I chose this article because it talks about limit of freedom in LDC's and how girls are not allowed to get an education. This was the main idea of what Half The Sky was. Girls no being given the same rights as boy.

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, April 23, 2014 1:40 PM

Starting this article response off with a quote seems only appropriate. This article follows Malala Yousafzai through her horrific experience being victimized by the Talaiban. She is an inspiring girl with all the set backs she has had to endure and she wants the right for an education for Women in her country and society. She is determined in order to create a better life for herself and her people. “The peasants had a very difficult situation, but they didn’t give up,” Aroosa says in English. “They fought back, and got power. Girls can fight back and can get an education. A girl can bring a big change.”

Kendra King's curator insight, March 28, 2015 8:45 PM

It would make sense for the immediate well-being of the girls for the family to just leave Pakistan. As the article mentioned, the economy is horrible for graduates (especially women) and the country lives in a dangerous military state. Yet, the family (excluding the father) continues to stay in Pakistan. I wonder, since their father is a doctor and can afford private schooling, if they stay because of the wealth advantage. As the author alluded to, girls can be more than teachers if they have the resources like Prime Minster Buhtto did. Still though, with the danger so high and better jobs available I really think there is more to the story. The explanation that makes most sense to me came from Mahrukh’s statement regarding Prime Minster Buhtto when she said, “Everyone has to go from this world, why not be famous? Why not make a name and leave your name on people’s lips.” This quote shows just how dedicated Mahrukh is to her country. It is so high that she is willing to die doing something important (provided it makes her famous).  In some ways, I find that misguided. I think the attention girls like her and Malala can bring to people who are donating to the politically broken school is of immense value. This attention wakes more people up to the issues of Pakistan and the issues of the Taliban to one day put more pressure on the nation. Yet, I know Malala doesn’t want to continue to raise awareness among the Western world her whole life. Her autobiography ends with her dreaming of returning to Pakistan. Like Mahrukh, she will die for her country too (308-311). A part deep down can see though, that for a revolution to happen the girls need to actually stay within the country. For one, the west can only interfere with the politics of another country for so long. Furthermore, I am still a legitimate believe in sovereignty despite the increasing globalization. By this I mean that it is the countries issue and it is through the pressure and convictions of the people against the government and the Taliban that will have the most impact. I hope that by staying these girls will one day have an immense impact on the social culture in Pakistan. 

 

*Yousafzai, Malala, and Christina Lamb. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. First ed. New York: Little, Brown, 2013. 308-311. Print.
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Turbulence on the Mekong River

Turbulence on the Mekong River | Seeing the World More Clearly | Scoop.it
The Mekong River was once a wild and primitive backwater. Today, growing demands for electricity and rapid economic growth are changing the character of what is the world's 12th-longest river.

 

Economic progress for some often entails job loss and environmental degradation for others.  The once isolated and remote Mekong is experiences some impacts of globalization with residents having mixed feelings about the prospects. 


Via Seth Dixon
Emma Lafleur's insight:

It seems to be a theme that across the bored, people are building things that directly and negatively impact the environment and the local people. There are always two sides to the problem. On one hand, the dam can help with the development of Laos because it will bring in money, but it will also destroy the fish population and therefore many fishermen will lose their jobs and people will lose a food source. It is a difficult problem because Laos needs money because there is a lot of poverty in this rural country and the fishermen do not add a whole lot to the economy, but the people need a way to survive and make money for their families as well. It's a problem that I think will be around for generation to come.

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Michelle Carvajal's curator insight, December 11, 2012 9:04 PM

There must be a better way to transport items and in return save the Mekong river from being degredated. Technological innovations are affecting the life in the river as local fishermen are seeing less and less fish traveling in the river. This is impacting them in the sense that they use these fish for their survival as well as for selling. They fear that in building dams and creating advanced roads over the Mekong will change their enviroment altogether and will hinder their livelihood. This is a beautiful river and I personally feel there could be a better way but there is always something sacrficed when the government choses a location to build on. - M. Carvajal

Al Picozzi's curator insight, November 26, 2013 11:35 AM

Seems the price of modernizing will be the local economy that as existed here for centuries.  It is not a small industy either, it is according to the report a billion dollar fishing industry.  However with a growing population and a demand for electricity the river is the perfect source for this power.  This globalization, like all globalization, will help some and will hurt some.  What you have to ask yourself is will it help more than it hurts?  Will it help in the long run, over time?  For everyone involoved in globalization these answeres are never the same everywhere.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 15, 2014 9:21 PM

The Mekong river is a river that many fisherman in Laos depend on for food and income. Plans to build dams that will cause the fish to seek an alternate route to migrate upstream. Critics of the dams say that the dams will cause the fish to abandon the Mekong river and go through their neighboring rivers, leaving the residents without a source of income. Many in favor of the dams say the reverse, that building the dams will boost economy and cause the area to flourish.