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Papua New Guinea Is Rich in Resources but Poor in Health - The New York Times

Papua New Guinea Is Rich in Resources but Poor in Health - The New York Times | Jolly Good Geography |
The Pacific nation hoped that hosting the APEC summit meeting would elevate its international profile, but a national health crisis threatens to overshadow it.
David Stiger's insight:
Like several African nations, Papua New Guinea has abundance of natural resources but is still impoverished and underdeveloped. Corruption and a lack of development has led to a widespread deterioration of health. The health care system has mostly collapsed as polio is back, HIV is on the rise, malaria has shot up, and basic medical supplies and drugs are in short supply. Australia used to provide the bulk of PNG's health care services. The ex-colonizer, however, was removed from the process when the PNG's national government awarded an important drug supplier contract to a shady, less reputable dealer based in PNG. Australia, displeased with this decision, pulled out. The move indicates designs of corruption. One expert noted that while most African nations skim off the top, corrupt officials in PNG take more and the people suffer. Corruption, though, can happen in any country.  Something else is at play in PNG. 

There is a trend that the PNG shares with other poor nations - the recovery from decades of oppressive colonialism and racism. It is one thing to develop a vibrant democracy and industrialize and then become corrupt. PNG never had a real chance to develop in such a way. Its institutions were weak and broken from the start. Corruption occurs more easily when a system is already fragile and damaged by a history of debilitating and traumatizing colonialism. While Papua New Guinea needs to take responsibility for its corruption, ex-colonial countries should help and not back down when they disapprove of something. Commitment means sticking through even when mistakes are made. 

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The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing

The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing | Jolly Good Geography |
Most of the 1,000 or so Marshall Islands, spread out over 29 narrow coral atolls in the South Pacific, are less than six feet above sea level — and few are more than a mile wide. For the Marshallese, the destructive power of the rising seas is already an inescapable part of daily life. Changing global trade winds have raised sea levels in the South Pacific about a foot over the past 30 years, faster than elsewhere. Scientists are studying whether those changing trade winds have anything to do with climate change.
David Stiger's insight:
Catastrophic property destruction from sea level rising is (at this point in time) inevitable. A number of Islands that serve as homes for hundreds of thousands of people will be devastated and most likely destroyed. These spots will become uninhabitable and dangerous. The Marshall Islands is just one area that will suffer this fate. Trying to save the islands is a moot point. What is now needed is a discussion about ethics and fiscal responsibility. Industrialized and developed nations led the way in destroying parts of the planet and should be held accountable. To become wealthy, these affluent nations collectively sacrificed the world's fragile environment. With this understanding, people of the Marshall Islands should be given a new home and compensation for their losses. Fortunately, the United States has a deal with the Marshall Islands to allow people to immigrate to the U.S. While this is a good start, these people will require job training, education, homes, transportation, and funds to rebuild their lives. Instead of spending massive amounts of tax dollars on military and defense budgets, Congress needs to reassess its values and priorities. By committing to ethical and noble leadership, the U.S. will have more international prestige and leverage to build defense coalitions and negotiate through diplomatic means. An immense single-nation military-industrial complex will be less relevant. By reducing military spending, this country can address problems like the sinking Marshall Islands and our nation's energy needs. How would it look if the U.S. became a true champion of justice and a despotic nation like China attacked the U.S.? The world would be outraged. The U.N. would condemn the aggressor. Alliances could step forward, allowing America to step back as the world police officer which no one ever asked us to be.  
Mark Hathaway's curator insight, December 12, 2015 6:21 AM

Climate change is a controversial issue in the United States. The debate over climate change in our current political environment is stuck in a denial or belief stage.  It is foolish to deny that our climate is changing. The overwhelming majority of scientists have provided the world with data, that proves that man is altering the climate. Those who deny climate change, probably do not really believe that it is not occurring.  They are denying climate change, because they do not favor altering our economic system in an attempt to stop the phenomenon. To really effect climate change, major changes are going to have to be made in the way we consume our energy. Our current political environment cannot and will not implement these changes. As with most problems, nothing will be accomplished until a large swath of Florida is underwater.

brielle blais's curator insight, April 26, 2018 11:45 AM
This post shows how climate change is currently impacting small island nations such as the Marshall Islands. Pacific Sea waters are rising and driving families out of their homes. It is changing the entire physical geography of the land. It is also changing the political climate between different nations as the battle over climate control continues and countries react in different ways to ideas and suggestions, or even laws stating nations like the United States would have to pay money to help those other countries being flooded. 
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, December 9, 2018 11:03 PM
Islands are already at a disadvantage of losing land for a few reasons. First the fact that the older the island gets the more corroding that takes place under the sea. Another reason is they are in the middle of no where so relocation is not easy, costly and not many countries these days are willing to take people in. The Marshall islands like I am sure many other islands are facing in recent years is global warming causing sea levels to rise. So know they have another reason to worry about losing lands. The global warming that takes place on earth never effects the contributors, it almost always effects the little guys who cannot doing anything to fight back. They just get to watch there homes be destroyed because of big time nations. More attention needs to be brought to the subject of global warming and everything and one who is negatively effected by it. What if we were in there shoes, we surely would change our ways then.
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A Remote Paradise Island Is Now a Plastic Junkyard

A Remote Paradise Island Is Now a Plastic Junkyard | Jolly Good Geography |
Henderson Island is isolated and uninhabited—but its beaches are still covered in garbage.  


Henderson Island (article or podcast) is about the most remote place you can visit without leaving the planet. It sits squarely in the middle of the South Pacific, 3,500 miles from New Zealand in one direction and another 3,500 miles from South America in the other.  Henderson should be pristine. It is uninhabited. Tourists don’t go there. There’s no one around to drop any litter. The whole place was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1988. The nearest settlement is 71 miles away, and has just 40 people on it. And yet, seafaring plastic has turned it into yet another of humanity’s scrapheaps.


Tags: pollution, Oceania, water, environment, sustainability, consumption.

David Stiger's insight:
Although a remote place like Henderson Island is uninhabited, the amount of trash that blankets its shores should still be alarming to humans. It is highly visual evidence of the damage that human waste is having on the earth as a whole. If this much trash if landing on the shores of an island, which is surely degrading the environmental quality and ecosystem, then how much trash lies underneath the waves of our blue planet? This means that coral reefs, the source of fish, and ocean water that transforms into water vapor forming clouds is all contaminated. If something ends up in the oceans, it will eventually end up in our food chain. The marred beaches of Henderson Island illustrate what is happening to nature's cycles. 

While human behavior is the driving force, we can also discern that another main culprit is a global culture of plastic. Humans use way too much plastic and its constant disposal is creating a toxic environment in which people live. It is not enough to say this is a tragic situation and forget about it. It is also not enough to examine one's own life and decide to reduce their personal plastic consumption. No, this is a systemic problem that runs deep in our modern societies. This requires mass political action. The photos and morbid stories serve as devices to inform people and have them feel something. It is up to people to demand policies and laws from both governments and corporations to change our ways. As the article stated, a cleanup of the island (and other islands) will be futile. The only thing to do is to mitigate the worst effects by cutting the problem at its source - the production of plastic. And, it has to be done on a global scale. 

Shifting away from plastic to a more environmentally friendly material will be difficult but not impossible. In this case, if there is a will there is a way. 
M Sullivan's curator insight, November 29, 2017 11:23 PM
Useful for the IDU topic of plastic single use water bottles.
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, April 26, 2018 1:49 PM
If I had looked at this picture without the context, I would think it was somewhere where people had stayed for a while and then left the place trashed with their own garbage.  In reality,  this is an island that is 3500 miles away from the nearest major settlement and doesn’t have any human inhabitants.  This really exemplifies that even though plastic waste may not be in one’s backyard, it never truly goes away.  Plastic is a material that cannot be broken down, so when it is dumped it just moves around until it hits land.  The article pointed out that plastic is incredibly difficult to clean up, particularly on places like Henderson Island.  When it floats in the ocean for a long time, it becomes brittle and breaks into very small fragments.  Those small fragments then mix with the sand and get buried, making it impossible to get rid of.  Another fact about this island that was shocking is that 3,750 pieces of litter wash up everyday, which is 100,000 times than other islands.  Henderson Island is not suitable for humans to live on, as there is no freshwater, frequent storms, and incredibly sharp terrain.  It is interesting that an island that keeps humans away can’t defend itself against plastic.  The reach of humans extends far beyond what they imagine and even uninhabitable land is infested with human waste.  No matter how remote a place is, it will still be effected by people.
Corey Rogers's curator insight, December 15, 2018 8:36 PM
It is sickening to see how a uninhabited island can still be ruined by human products. People need to realize that they are hurting more and more islands and need to open their eyes. With people so far away we can still effect ecosystems terribly. 
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Why are the MINT countries special?

Why are the MINT countries special? | Jolly Good Geography |

"In 2001 the world began talking about the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - as potential powerhouses of the world economy. The term was coined by economist Jim O'Neill, who has now identified the 'MINT' countries - Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey - as emerging economic giants. Here he explains why."

Tags: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, economic, development.

David Stiger's insight:
The West should note that other parts of the world are catching up in terms of economic development. The focus on these non-Western countries is shifting away from the classic BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). The MINT countries - Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey - are on the rise. Two interesting geographic aspects give these countries an advantage. First is that they have young populations who are entering the workforce. Unlike the Western nations and China, the young people outnumber the older people who are contributing to the economy less and less. The second advantage is their relative geographic location. Mexico is situated between the United States and Latin America. Both offer access to an abundance of trade opportunities. Indonesia also has superior access to trade by being located in the middle of the South East Asia along with an important link to China. By being near the middle of Africa, and with access to the western coastline, Nigeria is also in an excellent position for trade. This will be a future benefit until Africa's internal wars settle and stable trade relations can ensue. 

The major struggles that the MINT countries share are twofold: The first is corruption. Fortunately, corruption is a human problem with a human solution and can be remedied. Secondly is a lack of infrastructure. If the corruption issues can be cleaned up, more resources can be diverted to reform and big projects that develop a country's transportation systems, communication, networks, and energy grids. These three factors will enable trade and provide immediate economic relief in the form of local jobs. With more capital available and higher incomes, education can become a priority like it is within many Western societies. Higher education increases job opportunities and innovation furthering even more economic growth. 

Western nations need not fret in the face of rising competition. The plus side is that with more globalized economies becoming interconnected, the greater cooperation can develop to solve environmental problems while negating the desire to go to war.  

Maria la del Varrio's curator insight, December 13, 2014 2:45 PM

The next generation will come with more country's developments and those could be the MINT countries which are, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, their economy are increasing and are far more bigger than what it was in the 2003. That would be awesome to see all those countries with a developed economy. That will improve the lives of millions and specially Mexicans! Can't wait to see how it will turn out.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, February 5, 2015 2:05 PM

Mexico, along with the other countries in the MINT category, are developing countries that could one day become economic powerhouses.  Mexico, as noted in the article, is in a strong position to become an economic powerhouse, due to the fact that it is in between the United States and the developing countries to its south.  Mexico does face a battle however, as the country has been dominated by corruption for decades, yet the new president, who is young and energetic, is attempting to reform the system and put an end to the wide spread problem.  If Mexico can become a major economic powerhouse, it along with Canada and the United States, could from a strong North American Trio, originally envisioned when the NAFTA was signed into law, back in the 1990s. 

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, March 1, 2015 10:00 PM

The MINT countries aren't that surprising.  After China purchased some of the US debt, it really opened my eyes to who the new powerhouse is.  Mexico could certainly be another powerful country if they could get their act together.  It will be interesting to see the shifts taking place in the next 20 years.  

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What Lingers After Decades of Reporting on the Cambodian Genocide - The New York Times

What Lingers After Decades of Reporting on the Cambodian Genocide - The New York Times | Jolly Good Geography |
I had seen trauma before, but never an entire traumatized nation. All the adults I met were survivors or former killers.
David Stiger's insight:
Living in a place where a genocide recently occurred must take its psychological toll. The entire country of Cambodia underwent such a horrific genocidal period when the Khmer Rouge executed, starved, and tortured some 1.7 million Cambodians in the mid 1970's. The New York Times reporter covering the two decade long trial of Khmer Rouge leaders committing crimes against humanity, noted that the country was still traumatized. He found that the vast majority of adults were grappling with the fact that they were mass murders, the victims of murder, or both. Being such a poor country, many Cambodians cannot simply pack up and leave their beleaguered homeland. Rather they must remain in that space, passing by locations such as the Tuol Seng prison where countless people were tortured and killed. Citizens must walk by the killing fields now marked with mounds of skulls. Confined to the land with few options to move, these people must just push through and let live. 

The culture of Cambodia has changed because of the genocide's aftermath. There are now museums where families can go to learn and mourn their past. Amputees who lost limbs to landmines are now beggars in the streets who serve as constant reminders of the human pain and suffering that transpired. The long-awaited verdict of a decades long trial makes the news and offers topics for painful discussions. 

Since the people cannot leave their land, it will not be until the older generation passes away that Cambodia will finally heal. For now, the old wounds will always be open.
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'It's Our Right': Christian Congregation In Indonesia Fights To Worship In Its Church

'It's Our Right': Christian Congregation In Indonesia Fights To Worship In Its Church | Jolly Good Geography |
A Christian congregation outside Jakarta built a new church legally, but Muslims in the area object to it. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled to allow worship at the church, but it remains sealed.


Vocal Muslim citizens opposed construction of the church and pressured the local government to cancel the permits. The local government acquiesced to the demands. But the church group went to court, and won. On an appeal, they won again. Finally, the case went all the way to Indonesia's Supreme Court — where the church group won a third time, in 2010. But to this day, the congregation can't worship there.

Indonesia, with its mix of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian citizens, has long had a reputation as a country that embraces religious diversity. Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch, sees things differently.


Tags: Indonesia, culture, religion.

David Stiger's insight:
The rule of law fails when the rulings of courts, especially the highest courts of the land, are blatantly ignored. So is the case for Indonesia's Christian communities. Tragically, a Muslim majority has attacked, protested, and hindered their fellow Christian citizens causing the shutdown of nearly 1,000 churches. Even though Indonesia is home to the world's largest Muslim population, their numbers do not grant them the power to trample over the rights of the minority. Indonesia's constitution specifically grants freedom of religion, but the constitution is only valuable if the rule of law is enforced and adhered to through human actions. Instead of honoring their constitutional values, a pervasive attitude of intolerance has manifested itself within Indonesia's Muslim majority. This intolerance is becoming extreme and hindering the rights of fellow citizens. What is most disturbing, however, is the lack of government action. Why aren't the authorities investigating and taking action? For this reason, it is important that a body like the United Nations exist so that the General Assembly can openly discuss Indonesia's religious repression, examine the evidence, and consider possible solutions. 
Corey Rogers's curator insight, December 15, 2018 7:38 PM
In a Muslim populated country you get a backlash from those people because they do not support the building of a Christian Church. Since they do not have as much freedom for speech as they do in the US, the building is always being rejected or halted which sucks. The Christians just want a peaceful place to worship. 
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Rohingya flee refugee camps in Bangladesh, as Myanmar prepares for first returnees

Rohingya flee refugee camps in Bangladesh, as Myanmar prepares for first returnees | Jolly Good Geography |
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh/YANGON: Dozens of Rohingya Muslim families on a list of refugees set to be repatriated to Myanmar later this week hav
David Stiger's insight:
The nation of Myanmar has failed miserably at protecting its own people. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, has fled ethnic cleansing. Staying in Bangladesh as refugees, it is the responsibility of the Bangladesh government to provide security and basic needs like food and water. The fact that Myanmar has decided to repatriate a number of Rohningya refugees seems oddly premature. The U.N., along with powers in the region like Bangladesh and India, should execute a thorough investigation of Myanmar before considering returning any refugees. If guilty of either perpetrating crimes against humanity, or of neglecting its people in the face of genocidal intent, Myanmar should also take responsibility for their actions. With transparency, Myanmar should make appropriate reparations to the refugees and craft a solution to ensure Rohingya security. If that is not possible, Myanmar needs to assist Bangladesh with financial resources to resettle its unwanted population in Bangladesh or possibly even Pakistan. 
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Can India become a superpower?

David Stiger's insight:
This video did an excellent job of explaining the nature and essence of India in three ways for me. First, it outlined how India is truly a subcontinent. The oceans to the south and the long mountain ranges to the north isolate India from the rest of Asia. Add the fact that it is on a separate continental plate and it seems obvious that India is a mini continent that was pushed into Asia. The second area is India's political and cultural makeup. India is far from monolithic or homogeneous. I did not realize there were so many ethnic groups and factions that divided the region into constantly warring kingdoms. This factionalism paved the way for two foreign powers to divide and conquer the entire region - the Islamic empires and the British Empire. Even though India achieved independence, this old history carries on today as India a collection of states loosely held together by a republican national government. The factionalism is still highly present preventing coherent cooperation and reform. Thirdly, I did not realize the extent of the rivalry between India and China. This animosity has reached the point where China refuses to grant autonomy to its buffer regions for fear that India might ally with Tibet and pose a threat. On the other end of this is China's good relationship with Pakistan and the issue of Kashmir. India does not want Pakistan to dominate and control Kashmir because this would give China a strategic opening to India's doorstep. 

Despite India's size, it looks like it has too many internal problems to ever become a superpower. 
Paul Farias's curator insight, April 9, 2015 11:29 AM

If you were to ask me before watching this video, i would say absolutely. They have the capability because they are full of intelligent people, they also have enough people to do it. Something is just holding them back from moving forward...

Chris Costa's curator insight, November 15, 2015 3:15 PM

I really enjoyed this video; it's packed with a lot of information, but all of it is relevant to its main discussion of India as a potential superpower. In class, we discussed the importance of the Mississippi River Valley and the Great Lakes Basin played in the development of the US economy and the rise of the US as a global superpower, and this does not differ very much from the intricate river systems that litter the Indian subcontinent. The Ganges River Valley has historically been home to millions of people, facilitating agricultural development as well as trade. The lack of natural boundaries within the nation has allowed for the diffusion of the thousands of different cultures, customs, religions, and languages that find their home within India, although this has lead to division amongst its people. Internal disputes have paved the way for foreign leaders to seize control of the subcontinent, as evidenced by the Mughal Empire, and the eventual control of India by the British. Independence has lead to huge political and economic developments, as well as forming a distinct national identity that has, so far, risen above the petty sectionalist and race-related squabbles of yesteryear, but sectional rivalries continue to be had between the various Indian states. All the tools needed to become a superpower are at India's disposal; all it must do is seize the opportunity.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 11:48 AM

anyone who doesn't think that India can become a superpower is insane. they already are one. they have nukes. they have a billion people. they have massive industry, and they have a history of conflict with their neighbors.

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The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers

The Real Threat to Hinduism: The Slow Death of India's Rivers | Jolly Good Geography |

Hinduism shares an intricate, intimate relationship with the climate, geography, and biodiversity of South Asia; its festivals, deities, mythology, scriptures, calendar, rituals, and even superstitions are rooted in nature. There is a strong bond between Hinduism and South Asia’s forests, wildlife, rivers, seasons, mountains, soils, climate, and richly varied geography, which is manifest in the traditional layout of a typical Hindu household’s annual schedule. Hinduism’s existence is tied to all of these natural entities, and more prominently, to South Asia’s rivers.


Hinduism as a religion celebrates nature’s bounty, and what could be more representative of nature’s bounty than a river valley? South Asian rivers have sustained and nourished Hindu civilizations for centuries. They are responsible for our prosperous agriculture, timely monsoons, diverse aquatic ecosystems, riverine trade and commerce, and cultural richness.  Heavily dammed, drying in patches, infested by sand mafia and land grabbers, poisoned by untreated sewage and industrial waste, and hit by climate change — our rivers, the cradle of Hinduism, are in a sorry state.


If there is ever a threat to Hinduism, this is it. Destroy South Asia’s rivers and with it, Hinduism’s history and mythology will be destroyed. Rituals will turn into mockery, festivals, a farce, and Hinduism itself, a glaring example of man’s hypocritical relationship with nature. The fact that we worship our rivers as mothers and then choke them to death with all sorts of filth is already eminent.

David Stiger's insight:
Sometimes both sides can be wrong in an argument, as illustrated in this article. The secular left in India has mistaken their conservative Hindu counterparts as a people stuck in tradition, unable to address the environmental calamities facing modern society. The more right-leaning Hindus believe the secular environmentalism of their countrymen to be antagonistic to the practice of Hinduism - such as the environmental restrictions on firecrackers. Hindus celebrating Diwali feel that fireworks are a central part of the festivities and do not want environmentalists restricting them. The author notes that both sides have missed the point. Hinduism is closely tied to nature and expresses notions of environmental stewardship as a holy endeavor. Liberal Indians do not need to see Hinduism as opposed to environmental sustainability and should stop criticizing Hinduism as a whole. Traditionally religious Hindus should be aware that their own faith would have them be environmentalists - not because of secularism - but because of divine inspirations to coexist with nature. While both sides bicker, failing to understand how Hinduism is pro-nature, the rivers are being ruined by pollution. This pollution will destroy nature, and nature is the foundation and driving force of the Hindu religion. This is because Hinduism was founded around a  river valley civilization - the river and arable land being central to the culture's vitality. 

In some ways, this situation reminds me of Christianity in America. Liberals are very concerned about the environment and climate change in particular. Conservative Christians, buying into a theology of "Dominionism" of Genesis, believe God gave the earth to humans to use however they please. Paired with a suspicion of science, conservative evangelicals have largely shunned environmental sustainability and conservation. A closer reading of the Bible would show that God values nature and wants creation to grow and thrive. Humans should be stewards of the environment - its destined caretakers. Instead, liberals think Christianity preaches stupidity while conservative Christians believe the science behind environmentalism is anti-God, aligned with communism, and probably a hoax to manipulate the faithful. 

Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, April 24, 2018 12:57 PM
(South Asia) With a population of 1.3 billion people, India is bound to have serious problems with pollution. But pollution has a profound impact on a religion closely tied with nature and geographic locations for thousands of years. Rivers that were previously seen as the "nurturers of Hinduism" are now drying up because of climate change or are polluting the area. The destruction of Indian rivers is not given proper public attention and the loss of rivers could lead to the loss of Indian history and the meaning of Hindu culture.
Nicole Canova's curator insight, May 1, 2018 1:21 AM
Religion is shaped by the geography of the region in which it develops.  For example, Hinduism is heavily influenced by the rivers of India, and these rivers are considered holy places sites and places of cleansing and purification.  However, the cleansing power of the rivers is diminished by pollution that makes it unsafe to take part in ritual bathing.  Pollution, climate change, and deforestation are also having an impact on other aspects of Hinduism, which is about celebrating nature in it's entirety, including monsoons, forests, and agriculture.  As nature continues to be negatively impacted by human activity, many aspects of Hinduism will also be negatively impacted.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, December 12, 2018 3:08 PM
The river plays a key role in India. Whether its culture, religion, histor,y in agriculture, in transportation, and in many other aspects. These once bountiful rivers that sustained Indian civilizations are now threatened by pollution, climate change, damns, and other man made reasons. At best if this is problem is not solved it will lead to drastic changes in Indian society, at worse it could lead to the collapse of Indian society, Starting with the end of Hindu rituals. 
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China pledges $60bn to develop Africa

China pledges $60bn to develop Africa | Jolly Good Geography |
China's president announces $60bn (£40bn) of assistance and loans for Africa to help with the development of the continent at a summit in Johannesburg.
David Stiger's insight:
Africa has a great deal of potential as a country. It is loaded with natural resources and its 54 nations containing 1 billion people make for large markets. Both of these things are something China wants as it expands and grows. Africa could also serve as a Chinese base for reaching Latin America. Meanwhile, Africa needs foreign investment to reach its full potential in the coming decades. This is a mutually beneficial partnership. China, a nation with capital to spare, wants to invest aggressively in Africa, perhaps in an effort to block out future foreign investors. In need of funds, Africa does not mind China offering assistance. It will be interesting to see what happens to the global order if China is able to help the countries of Africa develop into economic powerhouses. A Chinese-Africa alliance might be able to challenge and beat a Western coalition. 
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Somalia: The Forgotten Story

Part I: The story of Somalia's decline from stability to chaos and the problems facing its people at home and abroad.

Part II: The ongoing civil war has caused serious damage to Somalia's infrastructure and economy. Thousands of Somalis have either left as economic migrants or fled as refugees. Within Somali, more than a million people are internally displaced.


Tags: devolution, political, states, unit 4 political, migration, refugees, Somalia, Africa.

David Stiger's insight:
Somali's unique geographic position, an intersection of Africa and Asia, designated it as a prime target of European colonialism during the 19th century. By controlling the Horn of Africa, European powers (the Italians, English, and French) could control the flow of spices, natural resources, and trade between Africa and Asia. The colonial order is what initially set up Somalia to fail in the long-run. The European powers carved up the land, giving Somalia culturally and ethnically inaccurate and illogical borders - convenient artificial borders that divided the tribes. When Somalia was finally granted its independence in 1960, Europe left the fledgling nation with problematic borders. After political turmoil in the form of an assassination and a military coup in 1969, the general Siad Barre ruled through dictatorship for 20 years. Desiring to correct historical injustices, Barre invaded Ethiopia in 1977 to reclaim the rightful area of Somalia. Barre's army defeated, the country lost its sense of nationalism leading to a rise in tribal factions and warlords. The country spiraled into civil war and the national government collapsed in 1991. Since then, portions of the country have been stuck in a constant state of civil war and turmoil, while other parts of the country are doing well. What is so tragic is that this all goes back to the poorly drawn borders of European colonialism. 

Neo-colonialism, primarily in the form of third party exploitation, now wreaks havoc on Somalia's economy. European, Indian, and Chinese fishing ships have been illegally fishing in Somalia's waters (another geographic asset) prompting young men to raid and attack the foreign vessels. The original goal of the "pirates" was to scare off and drive away the foreign fishing boats which had taken over the waters. The foreigners merely paid off the young Somalis who boarded their ships. In a country with limited economic opportunity, this inspired young men to raid with the hope of being paid off. The news media made it seem like these "pirates" were simply lazy and went out of their way to raid innocent foreign vessels. There was little blame attributed to the illegal foreign activities. 
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This is where your smartphone battery begins

This is where your smartphone battery begins | Jolly Good Geography |
Workers, including children, labor in harsh and dangerous conditions to meet the world’s soaring demand for cobalt, a mineral essential to powering electric vehicles, laptops, and smartphones, according to an investigation by The Washington Post.
David Stiger's insight:
The Congo, like Venezuela, is another example of a post-colonial country rich in valuable natural resources whose people, ironically, live in abject poverty. The Congo is a victim of its own geographical blessings as the industrialized world's bottomless need for Congo's cobalt, copper, and other minerals has put this former colony of Belgium on the map. The Congo reportedly supplies half of the world's cobalt. With few other options for mineral sources, lithium-ion battery manufacturers turn a blind eye as Congolese "diggers" endure inhumane, dangerous, and unfair conditions to produce cheap cobalt. Companies have not reacted to this injustice because of a desire to maximize their profits. With Western consumers acting as indirect accomplices, China leads the pack of this neo-colonial process of exploiting the Congo for its valuable underground minerals. The Chinese companies offer so little money for the cobalt that workers are forced to put up with hazardous conditions and unbelievably low pay for their labor. 

The problem lacks an easy solution because it is highly complicated by the forces of globalization and geographical factors. Congolese diggers obtain the raw materials, who sell it to Asian middlemen, who then sell it to big Chinese manufacturers. These manufactures produce rechargeable batteries to sell to Western companies like Apple and Samsung. These products are then sold all over the world. The long supply chain makes it difficult for consumers to feel and see how their actions are impacting the lives of other people. The companies who should be held accountable justify their business decisions because there are not sources of cobalt to turn to. If there were other sources, companies like Huayou Cobalt could turn to other sources that treat their workers better, forcing Congolese suppliers to raise their labor standards. 

A short-term remedy, it seems, would be to classify Congolese-based cobalt as a conflict mineral. Western countries should fine and punish companies that are linked to the unjust cobalt trade, forcing these companies to raise their standards. 
James Piccolino's curator insight, March 24, 2018 10:21 AM
As sad as this is, what I think is more sad is that I have to admit when I first saw this headline while scrolling my initial thought was "Oh yeah, I need to buy a new phone battery". I think this says a lot about the differences in culture and priorities of those cultures. We in further developed countries do tend to take things for granted. There are things we get and throw away in a day that some in far off lands spend days to even obtain, with their lives sometimes depending on it.
David G Tibbs's curator insight, March 29, 2018 3:36 PM
We take the luxuries that we have for granite and forget where it comes from, or who pays the physical price for us to have them. One example is electronics and the Congo. The Congo is a country filled with Colbolt which is critical to lithium batteries which powers majority of products that are rechargeable. The price they pay is unsafe mining conditions, indecent wages, and environmental hazards to local communities. 60 percent of the cobalt used today comes from the Congo, and while some companies track it to make sure its "clean" some companies do not check its origins. In 2010 there was a push to add cobalt to a list of resources that come from the Congo to be from a militia free mine. Individual companies have started to be stricter about where they get their Cobalt it's still not mandatory under international law. However with the demand for cobalt is increasing due to more electric power styling for vehicles and other products. In order to meet these demands the cobalt will continue to come from abused people until companies or international law limits and outlines how to deal with the cobalt question.
Douglas Vance's curator insight, April 21, 2018 2:10 PM
Given the absurd amount of minerals present in the country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be basking in immeasurable wealth. However, as shown by this inetractive and enormously in-depth piece by the Washington Post, the country constantly struggles with child labor, water pollution, and widespread dangerous working condition because of the global demand for minerals like cobalt and copper. 
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How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism

How to tell when criticism of Israel is actually anti-Semitism | Jolly Good Geography |
Calling out human rights violations shouldn’t stray into bias against Jews.
David Stiger's insight:
Two things to take away from this well-written article. It is important for critics of the Zionist movement and of Israel (the nation-state) to always bear in mind that the Jewish people are very diverse in both their backgrounds and their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No single entity, specifically the Israeli government or army, speaks on behalf of all Jewish people. The second takeaway is being on the lookout for coded language that guises itself as political rhetoric leveled against Israel the state but, in reality, the subtext is covertly anti-Semitic. In place of verbally attacking "the Jews" some people may state "the Zionists" or reference a global Zionist conspiracy theory. Zionism is a specific movement within Judaism advocating for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the ancestral land of Judea/Israel/Canaan/Palestine (or as the Romans called the region, the Levant). Considering these valid points, it must be said that it is okay to criticize the state of Israel and specific actions it has taken against Palestine. But, when doing so, critics must be careful in their choice of words so as not to accidentally encourage anti-Semitic ideas. It is important to note that some Israeli Jews, and some other Arab Jews, disapprove of Israel's human rights violations but still might support having a homeland of their own. It is also worth noting that a person can be a Zionist without condoning the current government and military forces of Israel. One can be a Zionist and pro-Palestinian. In being critical, it is important to monitor the passions and anger that may arise, and not paint the world in black and white. There is always nuance. And there is enough anti-Semitism in the world without liberals who are pro-Palestinian unintentionally adding any more fan to the flames. 
No comment yet.
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Lessons from New Zealand’s disappointing (and now complete) flag referendum

Lessons from New Zealand’s disappointing (and now complete) flag referendum | Jolly Good Geography |
New Zealanders finally completed voting in their flag referendum, but the results may be disappointing. PRI's vexillology expert looks at what's right — and mostly what's wrong — about this proposal.
David Stiger's insight:
A flag is more than a colorful piece of cloth. It is a symbol and indicator of identity. The fundamental purpose and values of the nation are represented by the national flag. The flag's design is important in this regard. A flag is important enough to be special and distinct. Unfortunately, New Zealand's flag looks awfully a lot like Australia's banner. Many people around the world have confused the two flags together. The similarities are due to the New Zealand and Australia's shared history of British colonialism. Secondly, the current flag's shrunken Union Jack symbol denotes British authority when New Zealand is an independent sovereign nation. Lastly, the flag is very British causing it to exclude the native people and other ethnic groups in New Zealand. New Zealand's flag is a controversial remnant of European colonialism - something that does not align with the values of an independent nation with its own unique sense of identity. 

Despite New Zealand's need for a new flag design, the process was botched up and the new flag designs did not pass muster. This was probably due in part to the lack of design experts and flag experts, who are known as vexillologists. While the submission process was quite open and inclusive, the panel managing the show did not have the know-how. As the designer writing this piece mentions, the flag submissions had too many designs and looked busy. Flags need to be clear because they are visual messages. Japan, China, Chile, Germany, and Nigeria all have excellent simple designs. New Zealand's alternative flag design probably lost because it looked ugly and unclear. How can an ugly flag represent a beautiful nation? 

There was another flaw in the selection process as well. The first draft of ideas became the final submissions. This seems improper as collective idea making and sharing takes a lot of time and discernment. 

New Zealand, in an effort to break away from its colonial legacy, needs to come up with a new flag. This potential banner needs to be striking, simple in design yet complex in meaning. It needs to be something that today's New Zealand can be proud of. Calling it quits is no way to get there. 
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, April 26, 2018 2:07 PM
It’s very rare to have a country change their flag today, especially in a peaceful manner.  It seems pretty difficult to pinpoint what you want the symbol of a country to be and have it fit on a rectangle.  I think the craziest part of this whole process that New Zealand went through, is that they spent millions of dollars, held multiple elections, and designed a bunch of new flags only to have the majority of people vote to keep their old flag.  As a person who doesn’t think about flags too often, there is a lot more to analyze on flags than just how nice they look.  Flags are a symbol of nationality that is unique only to one country.  It represents all the people living in a country and is supposed to capture the essence of an entire nation.  I don’t know too much about New Zealand, but their current flag only conveys their British heritage.  They had the chance to incorporate aspects of the fern, kiwis, and even select the colors they felt best represented their country.  However, they decided to keep the flag they already had.  I can’t tell if this is because the new flag designs were unsatisfactory or if people are resistant to such a dramatic change.  Personally, I see an American flag everyday, so I can imagine how strange it would be to have something new take place a symbol one has always known.  Luckily, Scotland did not vote to leave the U.K. so New Zealand avoided being forced to change their flag.  But this serves as an example of how much meaning is actually behind a flag.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, December 14, 2018 5:37 PM
Flags are usually important to the people of a nation. They are symbols of national pride and are not usually taken lightly. When New Zealand's Government wanted to change the flag to more closely represent them as a country today and not who they gained independence from. One issue though is that while there was a panel to create the replacement flags it included one vexillologist and no professional designers at all.  You need people who understand what will work if you want to change something so drastically. 
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Is Zealandia the eighth continent?

"A group of geologists say they've enough evidence to confirm the existence of a new continent. Writing in the journal of the Geological Society of America, the group named the eighth continent 'Zealandia.' Scientists argue for an 8th continent, Zealandia, in the Geological Society of America."

David Stiger's insight:
With 94% of Zealandia lying under water, most average people around the world will not care if National Geographic prints maps with an eighth continent. As cynical as that may be, geography should not be settled by human emotions and cultural expectations. Geography is a discipline that aims for understanding and precision. If continents are to be decided by continental shelves, rather than human cultural and ethnic patterns, then Eurasia is a continent and so is Zealandia. This latter outlook of focusing on physical geography is far more neutral and scientific. I would argue that is also more 'progressive'. Humans originate from one place (Africa) and are all one species. We have far more similarities than differences. Orienting our worldview to see that cultural geography is not the final arbiter of truth would ultimately bring people together. The logic follows that by acknowledging Zealandia, there is precedent for greater accuracy based on science, allowing geographers to teach about Eurasia. This is significant because it would alter the perception that Asians and Europeans are extremely distinct and separate groups due to a distorted notion that they lived on separate continents. The truth is that both groups existed on the same continent and were often brought into contact with each other throughout history. This idea, however, would further shatter the notion of a "pure, homogeneous Europe." Europe is only a "continent" because white Europeans were the first to possess the right combination of "guns, germs, and steel" to conquer other societies and elevate their own group's cultural status. Despite nature's evidence, Europeans awarded themselves an entire continent. In reality, Europe is a large peninsula of Asia. Just as Zealandia is an eighth continent sleeping underneath the waves. 
Jeremy Hansen's curator insight, April 4, 2017 4:08 PM
Seth Dixon's insight: What makes a continent a continent? There is no set definition of a continent. Some consider cultural groupings and would consider Europe as a separate continent from Asia as a consequence. Geologists consider continental shelves as the defining characteristics of a continent and thus consider Eurasia to be just one continent. We are so accustomed to seeing the coastlines, but if the ocean were drained, we'd see Zealandia and it's ancient confidential shelf--but don't expect all the continental maps in elementary schools to change anytime soon. Questions to Ponder: Does human geography or physical geography determine what you consider a continent? How come?
Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, April 13, 2017 10:59 AM
unit 1
Matt Danielson's curator insight, December 12, 2018 4:45 PM
This is interesting to think about. What decides what separates continents, is it geological barriers, is it culture, is it ethnic origin, or maybe even plate tectonics? Either way you look at it New Zealand makes a great case for why they could become to be considered the eighth continent. I could argue either way, to keep it simple and go by culture and geological commonalities (Oceania Islands) I would prefer it does not form its own continent. These geologist would argue otherwise.
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Dozens Of Countries Take In More Immigrants Per Capita Than The U.S.

Dozens Of Countries Take In More Immigrants Per Capita Than The U.S. | Jolly Good Geography |

"If you think the United States is every immigrant's dream, reconsider. Sure, in absolute numbers, the U.S. is home to the most foreign-born people — 45.7 million in 2013. But relatively, it's upper-mid-pack as an immigrant nation. It ranks 65th worldwide in terms of percentage of population that is foreign-born, according to the U.N. report 'Trends in International Migrant Stock.'  Whether tax havens and worker-hungry Gulf states, refugee sanctuaries or diverse, thriving economies, a host of nations are more immigrant-dense than the famed American melting pot.  Immigrants make up more than a fourth (27.7 percent) of the land Down Under; two other settler nations, New Zealand and Canada, weigh in with 25.1 and 20.7 percent foreign-born, respectively. That's compared to 14.3 percent in the United States." 

Tags: migration, population, USA, Australia, Oceania.

David Stiger's insight:
Facts put major cultural issues into perspective. The facts found in this NPR article indicate that much of the world - and not just the United States - is grappling with immigration issues. Although the U.S. has the largest foreign-born population in raw numbers, it does not make up as large a percentage as the overall population as some other nations. Compared to the U.S.'s immigrant population of 14.3%, Australia's foreign-born subgroup makes up 27.7% while New Zealand's hit 25.1%. That is over one-fourth of the entire population in each country. 

Australia and New Zealand are ideal as they are both relatively safe, stable, progressive, and economically developed nations that have room to grow. 

The issue, especially for Australia, is taking in high numbers of unskilled workers who can be difficult to integrate into the economy. The U.S., mainly from the right, has also complained about this trend. Many migrant workers, however, are filling low-wage, unskilled jobs that non-immigrant workers shun and have no desire for. Considering that immigrants who fill these jobs earn their keep, pay taxes, and stimulate the economy by spending their money outweighs the potential economic burden. The truth of the matter is that natives in Australia and the United States are more fearful of the cultural, social, ethnic, religious, and linguistic changes that often take place when outside groups settle within a new country. This diversity can surely enrich a society. It can also stress out traditionalists, fearful of change, and cause social unrest and animosity. The important thing for Americans to understand is that we are not the only country wrestling with a globalized world in which people transcend boundaries, diversity is on the rise, and change happens. Just look to Oceania. 
Mark Hathaway's curator insight, December 4, 2015 9:35 AM

Immigration has become a dominate issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. For those who believe that the United States is letting in to many immigrants, I refer you to the statistics in this article. Only 14 percent of our population is foreign born. The United States ranks 65th in the world in the percentages of the population that is foreign born. We are far behind the two most prominent Oceanic nations, Australia and New Zealand. Nearly twenty eight percent of Australians are foreign born. Twenty five percent of New Zealanders are also foreign born. Those nations are actually more representative of the melting pot philosophy, than the United States is.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 12:16 PM

the us is not the choice nation of nations. it is not the most sought nation for migrants. that means we must be doing something right or wrong.

Matt Danielson's curator insight, December 12, 2018 4:34 PM
With some countries having as many as 25% of people being foreighn born I wonder how much of this diversity could cause social upheaval. As we learned in class sometimes cultural differences can cause major issues in a country, and often times without a major culture tying every one together the country will inevitably split up or have civil strife similar to what we see in parts of Europe from mass migration.  I wonder what effect migration will have in places like Australia 5-10 years from now. Especially if the cultures these immigrants come from are drastically different then Australian culture. 
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What China Has Been Building in the South China Sea

What China Has Been Building in the South China Sea | Jolly Good Geography |
China has been feverishly piling sand onto reefs in the South China Sea for the past year, creating seven new islets in the region. It is straining geopolitical tensions that were already taut.
David Stiger's insight:
By building man-made territory in the form of islets in the South China Sea, the nation of China has managed to assert a contentious claim of sovereignty. In this same body of water - which was formerly thought to be an open international zone - Malaysia to the South and the Philippines to the north have also staked claims via existing islands. These two East Asian countries expanded and solidified their claim by adding seabed sediment to enlarge the islands. Larger islands means more land and more space for military apparatuses like airstrips and army bases. The United States also has a vested interest in the area of the Spratly Islands because so much trade passes through these waters along with tremendous amounts of fishing and oil extraction. The South China Sea is a highly valuable location to several competing countries. 

Unlike Malaysia and the Philippines, China did not build on top of existing islands but instead has repurposed fragile coral reefs as foundations to pile on dredge sediment creating entirely new islets. It is a bold move to artificially engineer land and then claim the surrounding territorial waters. China believes it possesses a historically rightful claim to the Spratly Islands within the South China Sea and is merely asserting its pre-established sovereignty. 

Like other rapid development moves China has launched, building artificial islands threatens the environment and biological ecosystems. The sediment and building materials, such as metal, being piled up on the coral reefs is destroying the reefs while excess material is spilling out over the ocean's surface  blocking sunlight. This could severely disrupt the food-chain system as the reefs and plankton need sunlight to survive.  In tandem to this harmful shading effect are oil leaks running into the water contaminating the local wildlife. Running the risk of an all-out military conflict in the South China Sea while setting up the destruction of its ecosystem means that China, despite its historical claims, is making a poor decision. If China wants to be a world leader, it needs to set a better example and employ diplomatic means to keep the Spratly Islands open and healthy. 

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 12:01 PM

this strategy makes sense, even if it ignores international laws and angers every other nation on earth. china needs resources, and the south china sea has resources.

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, December 17, 2015 4:02 PM

The fact that China is doing this in the first place is a profound geopolitical statement. They are in effect disregarding international law and acting as though they own the region. This also fly's in the face of countries in the Area such as Vietnam and the Philippines who have territorial water claims in that area of the region itself has been a matter of dispute for decades. This is partially due to the fact there is key oil and gas resources and china intends to use the islands they have made to claim and seize those deposits. trade also goes through the area making it possible for China to shut down regional trade if it gains these waters. This is a clear power display and shows China wants to supersede the U.S. not work with it. Hopefully the issue is resolved peacefully given that it has been causing heightened tensions with the Chinese Navy patrolling the area. The international community should have acted earlier to stop this because now it will be far more difficult and makes nations like the U.S. look weaker. Not to mention the vast environmental consequences for destroying reefs filled with unique wildlife thus disrupting the ecosystem.

Gouraud's curator insight, January 6, 2016 3:16 PM

En une année pour construire un port et un terrain d’atterrissage à partir d'un atoll submergé....


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The Rohingya in Myanmar: How Years of Strife Grew Into a Crisis

The Rohingya in Myanmar: How Years of Strife Grew Into a Crisis | Jolly Good Geography |
Life has long been fraught for a Muslim minority in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, but the recent “ethnic cleansing” has sent Rohingya fleeing en masse.
David Stiger's insight:
It is often hard to imagine how a government sponsors or directly commits acts of genocide against its own people. When studying the geographic factors and history of a place, outsiders can begin to fathom how divisions and difference can turn into hate-fueled violence. But, genocides do not just spontaneously happen. There is a buildup overtime. The only way a genocide can occur is if some form of dehumanization takes place against a group of people. In the case of the Rohingya - an ethnic minority population in Myanmar - the government fails to recognize them as citizens. Denying rights and citizenship to people means they are not equal with others and that is a form of dehumanization. While the Rohingya are mostly Muslim in a Buddhist majority country, the divisions go much deeper. Myanmar's government believes that the Rohingya are refugees from Bangladesh who fled under British rule during the 1800s, negating any legitimate claim to the land they are living on. The Rohingya dispute this arguing their ancestors migrated to the land of Rohang (now called the Rakhine State of Myanmar) during the 1400s. Regardless of whose narrative is accurate, the Rohingya,  like the Gypsies in Europe, have been excluded and viewed as outsiders. By not being integrated into mainstream society, there has been a lack of social and economic advancement for the Rohingya leading to widespread poverty which creates a vicious cycle. The discriminatory and repressive practices against the Rohingya has led to violent backlash by some Rohingya against Buddhists. This in turn led to military crackdowns, destruction, and forced migration by Myanmar's government. The situation escalated when a Rohingya insurgency rose up and attacked military targets. This most recent episode is what has led to the current acts of genocide. Myanmar's government has justified its actions by espousing a war on terrorist groups. International watchdogs have observed the military operations are also targeting innocent Rohingya civilians, morphing into ethnic-cleansing. 

Powerful nations like the U.S. and the E.U. should sanction Myanmar until they own up to what they've done. After Myanmar is held accountable, the government should offer full rights and citizenship in exchange for the disbandment of the Rohingya insurgency. From there, health care services and educational programs need to be administered to help the Rohingya integrate into society. 
M Sullivan's curator insight, September 19, 2017 9:00 PM
Shocking reality of life for people in Myanmar to follow on from reading the novel 'Bamboo People' by Mitali Perkins.
Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, September 29, 2017 3:07 AM

Global challenges - Population - including Migration - refugees

Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, December 14, 2018 5:00 PM
An ethnic cleansing is occurring today in Myanmar. The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the Rakhine state have been forcibly removed for their homes by soldiers and extremists.  Their homes are homes, villages and land destroyed. Many are leaving Myanmar all together and running to the border of Bangladesh for safety.  The President of Myanmar, Nobel Peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has stayed mostly quiet regarding the attacks, while the UN has also condemned the actions of the army.  A story to continue watching as it develops. 
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Singapore passport becomes 'most powerful' in the world

Singapore passport becomes 'most powerful' in the world | Jolly Good Geography |

Historically, the top ten most powerful passports in the world were mostly European, with Germany having the lead for the past two years. Since early 2017, Singapore has tied for number one position with Germany. For the first time ever an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world. It is a testament of Singapore's inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy."


Tag: Singapore, SouthEastAsia, political, development.

David Stiger's insight:
This articles highlights the logistics and technical minutia of globalization in real life. When people think about people traveling, it is easy to forget that there are barriers such as visas. Depending on the prestige and status of a country, a passport can allow a traveler to enter a foreign land visa free or at least hassle free. As the world becomes more interdependent and borders lose their strict nationalistic rigidity, this ability to traverse freely and more easily is important. One might not think that the small nation of Singapore now has the most capable passport out of 195 countries worldwide. Once tied with Germany to access 158 countries visa-free, Singapore pulled ahead when Paraguay reduced its visa restrictions for Singapore. This serves as another sign that Asia and the "global south" is truly catching up to the Western world. As these other nations catch up to the West's development, even surpassing the West's premier status, people's attitudes will eventually change towards these Asian, African, and Latin American nations. The positive associations will attract more business and more travel giving rise to new opportunities and stronger globalized connections. In the end, Singapore's win over Germany in international travel is a victory for globalization. Now whether one thinks globalization is good or bad is another matter entirely. 
Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, May 2, 2018 11:54 PM
(Southeast Asia) I never thought about passports having different restrictions for different countries, let alone that it could be a measure of a country's power and greatness. Formerly tied with Germany, Singapore managed to scrape off another visa requirement from Paraguay, bringing Singapore's visa-free score to 159. The city-state, a major global commerce center, has become the first Asian nation to have the most useful passport. Visa-free requirements reflect a country's ability to negotiate foreign relations. While the country is poor in land size and resources, Singapore excels in their economy and statecraft.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, December 14, 2018 4:37 PM
The Singaporean passport is the most powerful passport in the world, which is a great tagline but what does it mean? Well, passports are created for you to travel between borders and usually to create to another country you need to obtain a visa, but if you have a passport from Singapore you now have the most visa-less passport in the world. Allowing you to travel more freely and will allow many people better opportunities. 
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, December 17, 2018 11:26 AM
Singapore has become the holder of the most powerful passport in the world. This means that people from this country has free access to the most countries around the world. America thought they had the most powerful visa in the world however that's the farthest from the truth. Since Donald Trump has become president America's visa has gone down even more while Singapore has been quietly climbing the totem pole.
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Edible Cutlery

"India is one of the world's largest consumers of disposable plastic cutlery, which has the makings of a huge health and environmental crisis written all over it."

David Stiger's insight:
After seeing this my first thought was "absolutely brilliant." With over a billion people living in India, something simple like disposable cutlery is no longer a small, trivial matter - it is a major environmental and public health concern. Disposable plastic on such a large scale is not sustainable. Necessity must be the mother of invention as this Indian engineer find a practical and innovative alternative to help solve an issue in his country. But, this does not have to start and end with India. This eco-friendly solution could be applied to restaurants all over the world. I love that the cutlery is both edible and healthy and also biodegradable. Humanity needs more of this. It would be interesting to see a future in which a raised level of environmental conscientiousness led to people either carrying their own personal resuable cutlery with them or, if they forgot to bring their utensils, used edible/biodegradable ones. What is is so promising is that the interviewee stated that he could find a way to make the edible utensils as cheap as the plastic ones and that they have a shelf life of three years. Climate change is not just a regional problem in India but a globalized problem. When one region of the world discovers a solution, it should be shared and promoted on a global scale.  
Rebecca Geevarghese's curator insight, May 8, 2016 6:27 AM
How innovative!! Will definitely being showing this to my Geography students. 
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, April 5, 2018 2:05 PM
This video was really fascinating and brings up very good points about being environmentally friendly.  The creator of this edible cutlery noticed that there was a problem in India with the use of plastic cutlery.  He points out that it has been littering the area because of the high volume of usage of the product in India.  The problem with plastic cutlery is that it doesn't decompose, so people throw them out and they just sit there forever.  So the inventor of the edible cutlery came up with an ingenious solution to the plastic problem, he created a product that was incredibly ecological.  The cutlery is made of crops that are readily available and grown right in India.  This cuts down on waste transporting the materials to make the cutlery.  He also decided to use millet as the main material in the product because it takes significantly less water to grow than other crops he considered using.  The cutlery is completely biodegradable and 100% edible, so it has little impact on the environment once it is disposed of.  Another unique aspect of the cutlery is that it comes in a variety of flavors so it actually adds to the culinary experience.  Not only did the inventor come up with a great solution to pollution in India, but he has also helped spur the local economy by providing jobs to 9 lower class women.  This shows that even though pollution seems like a huge problem that effects the whole planet, the solution is not always as complicated as it seems.
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Diwali: Festival of Lights

Diwali: Festival of Lights | Jolly Good Geography |
In India, one of the most significant festivals is Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. It's a five-day celebration that includes good food, fireworks, colored sand, and special candles and lamps.
David Stiger's insight:
Learning about the cultural practices of other societies and civilizations has a way of humanizing unknown people. Of course Westerners can intellectually understand the people in South Asia are human beings, but seeing the images and features of Diwali - especially the parallels with Christianity - makes India seem less foreign and more relatable. Indians celebrating Diwali can also probably relate to the mixed feelings of a shamelessly commercialized holiday. The commercialization in America is borderline manipulative as it pressures people to worry about gifts, money, and shopping.  Christmas shopping in the Western world suffocates the holy nature of the birth of Christ - making the whole season overly materialistic, stressful, and self-indulgent. It distorts the human ego creating its own form of darkness. India's festival of lights may be encountering a similar form of dark commercialization where values such as family and goodwill are set aside for spending and material desires. Hopefully, for both Christmas and Diwali, light can be restored by studying and reflecting on our materialist ways and reverting back to the old ways. 
Alex Vielman's curator insight, December 15, 2015 12:40 AM

In India, one of the most significant festivals in the region is in Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights. The festival symbolizes the forces of lights over the force of darkness. In other words, it symbolizes the good of the country over the evil. This is a festival around the Christmas time which allows families and friends to join together in order to represent the good. The day is followed by rituals, going to the temple, food, etc. and of course the lights. It is truly fascinating how thousands of people reunite in order to make this festival happen over and over each year. It is a day for sure that describes peace against the problems occurring in the country and it is a ray of hope for others. Some critics, are concerned about the thousands of fireworks that are lit up because they say it causes too much pollution but it is  day to rejoice and forget the bad to others.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:35 PM

this is a great example of cultural diffusion. you can see events like this all over the U.S including here in providence with the waterfires, very cool.

Olivia Campanella's curator insight, December 14, 2018 8:57 PM
This National Geographic video is a beautiful introduction to the cultural practices of the people of India and of Diwali. Diwali is a fall festival symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. It is a 5 day celebration that includes food, fireworks colored vibrant clothing and sands, and special candles and lamps.
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Pakistan's traditional third gender isn't happy with the trans movement

Pakistan's traditional third gender isn't happy with the trans movement | Jolly Good Geography |
For centuries, South Asia has had its own Khawaja Sira or third gender culture. Now, some third gender people in Pakistan say the modern transgender identity is threatening their ancient culture.
David Stiger's insight:
From an outsider's perspective, cultures are often hard to pin down. This became clear again when trying to comprehend Pakistan's third gender community. Not to be confused with the more modern transgender community, the third gender - or Khawaja Sira - is manifested in the traditional roots of Islam. It seems like a religiously accepted mode of existing to transcend gender. Because Khawaja Sira falls under the precepts of Islam, it is therefore tolerated but not necessarily embraced. What is interesting is that because there are rules and traditional codes outlining how a Muslim can be Khawaja Sira, there a good deal of hostility towards the modern Western notion of transgender - referring more to a person who "transitions" from the gender of their birth to a gender they more strongly identify with. One would think that Pakistan's third gender community would be more open and understanding of the West's transgender movement. This is not the case. When a Westerner is traveling in Pakistan and notices a third gender option, the person should not assume Pakistan is a bastion for liberal-minded progressives. Instead, Pakistan is just being Pakistan. 
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, December 14, 2018 1:55 PM
A topic to discuss. People who don't agree with the beliefs or rights of people in the LGBTQ community will talk about how this is a new issue. That it is the new generation that is creating these ideas.  But multiple genders and sexualities have been around for hundreds of years in many different ways. There are Native American tribes whose people had "two-spirits". Those people fulfilled the third gender ceremonial roles for their communities. In this story, they discuss Khawaja siras are "God's chosen people", the third gender people who can bless or curse anyone. But "God's chosen people" are also greatly discriminated against in society. You see the contradictions that society puts on people who don't conform to what is supposedly right.
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Aerial Photos Show how Apartheid Still Shapes South African Cities

Aerial Photos Show how Apartheid Still Shapes South African Cities | Jolly Good Geography |
An American used drones to capture the color lines still stark in South African cities.
David Stiger's insight:
Just because a formal social construct - an idea in the human mind - changes, does not mean that change, or desire to alter course, is reflected in the real world. While the idea of apartheid in South Africa came to an end, the real world in the form of urban geography has yet to catch up. The urban planning under apartheid still carries the legacy of color codes and demarcated boundaries between "races" in order to cement socioeconomic inequity. This situation in South Africa is similar to the United States after the Civil Rights movement ended the era of Jim Crow. Even though laws were passed, the geography remained largely untouched. Black neighborhoods remained socially and economically segregated - the only difference being that the law did not mandate this. The law never stipulated geographic changes or economic prescriptions like wealth redistribution. It turns out that human geography and philosophical principles can be at odds with each other, as demonstrated by the aerial photographs of South African cities. 
Mr Mac's curator insight, June 7, 2017 4:50 PM
Unit 4, 6, and 7 - Segregation, Development, and African cities. 
Richard Aitchison's curator insight, March 9, 2018 10:13 AM
"I agree with you, I think that the images are chilling. And they communicate so well what is otherwise a very complicated and nuanced issue to discuss—separation, segregation, history, disenfranchisement. But the images cut right to the heart of the matter, which is that these separations are not right" This is a quote in the article from the man that took the pictures (Johnny Miller). These photos show us the lines of segregation that continues even in a post Apartheid South Africa. These are amazing images and really quite unbelievable. We think of different segregation here in America, but what these photos show are unlike anything that I have personally seen.  As stated in the article the author hopes to create conversations about these separations. We see planned spatial separations that we created by city planners and we must used these as lessons going forward and as jumping off points to discuss. These shocking images can help inform us as a society that we must improve our social issues and if we don't we will continue to see issues like this grow both here in South Africa and around the world. One can see while tensions would be so high as a clear divide in living standards can rightfully cause anger. Eventually this anger leads to hate and this hate leads to an up rise in the people. 
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, March 31, 2018 4:23 PM
South Africa is one of the few countries that has a similar history in regards to racial segregation as America.  What makes their case unique is that the African population was there first and the English came in and created a system in which they were superior.  Although they have been officially desegregated for almost 20 years, these photos show that there are still underlying issues that exist.  These photos reveal that on one side of a particular area, the homes look like a typical suburban area where right across from that there are areas that resemble slums.  The areas that are more developed and wealthy have a majority white population and the poorer, less developed areas have large black populations.  The affects of segregation are long lasting and not solved overnight.  Just because government policies say that discrimination on a racial basis is illegal, doesn’t mean that society will neatly reorganize itself.  I think that the craziest part of this for me was that even the landscaping is vastly different despite the closeness of the two areas.  The wealthier part has lush green and the poorer parts have dirt and sand.  This an example of physical geography providing evidence for a societal separation.
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Changing How We Think About Africa

Do you speak African? Well, neither do the 1 billion people on the continent.Africa is home to 54 different nations, more than 2,000 languages and four of the world's 10 fastest growing economies, but is often painted with a sweeping stroke of doom and gloom. In this week's Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan exposes popular misconceptions about the African continent.
David Stiger's insight:
This video mentions that the Western world's negative, doom and gloom perception of Africa are "lazy" and this is important. Westerners may have become so accustomed to the colonial and post-colonial problems in Africa, that there is an outside attitude of "what good could possibly come from Africa - they are doomed and deserve our pity and charity." In reality, as this video points out, Africa is not just one single entity and its different players are on the rise. It is a continent of 54 separate countries containing 1 billion people who speak from a range of 2,000 languages. The video mentions that nearly one third of Africa is part of the middle class. With that said, in our geographic mental maps, it is time to start looking at Africa like the 'Tiger Countries of Asia', like South Korea, who blossomed into economic powerhouses. This is a fair comparison as Africa now has the ten fastest growing economies in the world, outpacing the West. With this line of thinking, Africa is a continent full of opportunity containing a lot of promising potential if given the chance. Interestingly, if white-Americans and white-Europeans improved their attitudes about the 54 countries of Africa (and saw them as capable societies) this would humanize non-white people in general and probably reduce racist, bigoted attitudes. 
ThePlanetaryArchives/BlackHorseMedia - San Francisco's curator insight, March 11, 2016 6:23 PM

This short video is full of with examples and statistics that show that many of the 'doom and gloom' perspectives and ways of thinking about Africa are outdated (at best).  Here are some good facts to update how we talk about Africa. 


Tags: Africa, perspective.

Denise Klaves Stewardson's curator insight, March 21, 2016 3:07 PM

This short video is full of with examples and statistics that show that many of the 'doom and gloom' perspectives and ways of thinking about Africa are outdated (at best).  Here are some good facts to update how we talk about Africa. 


Tags: Africa, perspective.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, March 24, 2018 5:12 PM
This video combats many misunderstandings about Africa, the biggest one being that many people view Africa as one nation instead of 54 unique nations. It also talks about how some African countries are on the rise and that women have a large role in many governments in Africa. The video aims to take away the stigma of war and poverty that goes along with Africa. 
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How did Zimbabwe get so poor?

President Mugabe's economic mismanagement of Zimbabwe has brought the country poverty and malnutrition. After 36 years in charge, he's looking to extend his rule by 5 more years.
David Stiger's insight:
Setting the record for world history's worst case of hyperinflation should send a signal to any sane person that a change of course is drastically needed. But, it seems Zimbabwe's chief dictator (parading as a "president"), Robert Mugabe, made one-too-many errors leading to the collapse of his country's economy. The unemployment rate hit 95% in 2008. One could argue this disaster started with British racism and exploitation. To deal with the complex legacy of European colonialism, Mugabe confiscated all the commercial farmland from white owners and redistributed the business to friends, loyalists, and family who did not have any expertise in running agricultural businesses. To make a few short-term gains, the valuable lands were sold off and neglected. Consequently, the agricultural sector crumpled severely reducing the flow of revenue and trade. To combat this, Mugabe decided to cheat and print more money - causing a process of vicious hyperinflation. The excessive regulations and taxes also make it difficult for new businesses in Zimbabwe to get off the ground. 

In relation to geography, it is interesting to analyze how the aftermath of British colonialism and good natural resources are present in the world's poorest country. Mugabe's decision to push out white farmers was clearly a big man method of dealing with the shame, grief, and anger of colonial exploitation, theft, and degradation. This aggressive backfired as even though the land is quite arable, it requires special knowledge, management, and dedication on part of the land's stewards to reap success. This seems to be a trend in some African countries. They are endowed with good natural resources to build a strong economy. The problems created by colonialism, however, and the lack of human capital in these African nations have led to cases of severe mismanagement and struggle. 
Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, March 31, 2018 4:58 PM
This video investigates how the country of Zimbabwe managed to become impoverished. Under the reign of Robert Mugabe, the country’s agricultural sector was destroyed. In doing so, he caused the money run out, so he printed more which caused worst hyperinflation ever. This video shows how the countries that are run poorly can affect its inhabitants.
Douglas Vance's curator insight, April 21, 2018 10:02 AM
Robert Mugabe's blatant and stunning incompetence and corruption destroyed the value of the Zimbabwean dollar and the resulting hyperinflation decimated the national economy. This is one of the premier examples of how a total lack of competent and powerful institutions can undermine a once promising economy and devolve a nation into one of the poorest on earth. 
Matt Danielson's curator insight, December 11, 2018 2:30 PM
ItIt is horrible that after Zimbabwe gained it independence from a apartheid like government that oppressed some of its people, its leaders including Mugabe turned around and continued to oppress certain people. They kicked out all the white farmers (a majority of farms at the time in Zimbabwe were owned by whites)  and replaced them with government friends. This obviously leads to famine with not many crops being grown. The market was decimated because Zimbabwe went from being a bread basket of African agriculture to a malnutrition state begging for economic aide to prevent mass starvation. History may repeat itself today where South Africa is attempting to make the same mistake.