The Syrian crisis is the most devastating humanitarian
crisis our global village is currently facing.
Reports from the United Nations
indicate that both sides are using civilians as a tactic of war. Horrible human rights violations continue,
including massacres, and sexual and gender-based violence against children. The
United Nations is specifically seeking to reach out to help civilians caught in
The refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria
desperately need humanitarian assistance. UN distributions to the refugees in
Yarmouk came to a standstill for over two weeks.
The above photo shows residents of the Yarmouk Palestine
refugee camp in Syria, as they await a UN food distribution.
On 22 February 2014, the United Nations Security Council
unanimously adopted Resolution 2139 on Syria demanding, "that all parties,
in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered
humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing
partners, including across conflict lines and across borders."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the resolution but
added that it "should not have been necessary" as humanitarian
assistance is not something to be negotiated but allowed by virtue of
How far should the UN go to bring relief and the
badly needed assistance to the Yarmouk refugee camp residents?
What actions should governments around the world
be taking to stop the civilian suffering?
Just over two months ago, in December 2013, Egyptian state
security officers arrested three Al Jazeera journalists.
Their crime? The reporters were filing news reports for
their employer from a hotel suite they used as a makeshift studio.
According to the New York Times, about 60 journalists have
been detained since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi last July
(click here for more).
According to the New York Times, the arrest of the Al
Jazeera journalists reflects an intense state-to-state conflict between the
Egyptian government and the State of Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera. Egyptian
officials have accused Qatar of harboring Islamist leaders, including wanted
men, and complain that the Qatar channel provides a platform for Egypt's
enemies (click here for more).
Today, all across social media, Al Jazeera is calling for a
global day of action to show solidarity for the journalists imprisoned Egypt.
To show your support, join for their campaign (click here http://alj.am/FreeAJStaff).
Will worldwide attention and focus help free the
Al Jazeera staff?
How might the Egyptian or State of Qatar
officials work to resolve this problem?
Yesterday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, signed a bill
into law that imposes harsh sentences (up to life imprisonment in some cases) for
homosexual acts in his country.
"This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about
the cause of human rights," Secretary of State John Kerry said, "Ultimately,
the only answer is repeal of this law."
Above: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.
Kerry went on to say, "For the four years since the bill was
introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights
obligations that Uganda's Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are
enshrined in Uganda's Constitution. Today's signing threatens a dangerous slide backward in
Uganda's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious
threat to the LGBT community in Uganda."
In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Monroe saying, "People
have a right to be free, and we a right to aid them, as a strong man has a
right to assist a weak one assailed by a robber or murderer."
In December of 2012, Pastor David Dykes of Tyler, Texas
Green Acres Baptist Church was in Uganda on a mission trip, when a local
reporter asked him about the U.S. threat to pull foreign aid if the
anti-gay law was enacted.
Dykes said, "I think it's not right for our government
to put pressure on any government about their moral decisions."
Above: Rev. David Dykes.
Yesterday, President Museveni agreed with Reverend Dykes
saying, "we never seek to impose our view on others; if only they could let us
Should foreign policy include pressure to
conform to accepted human rights law?
Should the United States withdraw aid
allocations from the Ugandan state until they repeal the anti-gay laws?
This coming week is "Peace Corps Week." This week we will
celebrate President Kennedy's establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1,
At the University of Michigan in 1960, Senator John F.
Kennedy asked the students, "How many of you, who are going to be doctors,
are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of
you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling
around the world?"
The students responded to the President's challenge with a
petition signed by 1,000 students willing to serve abroad.
President Kennedy created "a peace corps of talented men and
women" who would dedicate themselves to serving others abroad and making peace in developing
countries around the world.
Peace Corps Volunteers work for progress and peace all
across our global village.
Has the Peace Corps met President Kennedy's
dream of being a significant part of America's history and positive image
Does the recent growth of NGOs change the need
for US Peace Corps volunteers?
Joaquin "Shorty" ("El Chapo") Guzman Loera, Mexico's
most infamous drug lord, was captured yesterday in Mazatlán, Mexico, 13 years
after "escaping" from a high-security Mexican jail (click here for more).
The high-profile capture of Guzmán,
the leader of Mexico's ruthless Sinaloa drug cartel, is being closely monitored by US officials.
Because criminals very routinely fail to recognize state
borders states are not always able to enforce their own laws without the help
of other states. Governments must rely on an international process of reciprocal
cooperation known as extradition, by which one state request a wanted person
from another state. Officials in the United States are seeking the extradition
of Mr. Guzman from Mexican authorities.
Above: Guzman is escorted by soldiers at an airstrip in
Mexico City February 22, 2014 (photo credit Reuters /Henry Romero).
When, or even if, Mr. Guzmán is extradited to the United
States he will face multiple charges by U.S. authorities.
"This is the most significant arrest of a drug trafficker in
decades," Mike Vigil, the former head of international operations for the DEA,
told TIME (click here for more).
What roles might the United States be playing in
Mexico's drug war?
What factors might lead to Mexico being willing
or unwilling to extradite Mr. Guzman to the United State?
According to the World Bank, international migrants sent
$529 billion back to their home countries in 2012.
Immigrants in the United States sent the most - sending nearly
a quarter (23.3%) of the total $529 billion back to their home countries. India
received the most of any state, with immigrants sending home about $69 billion
While $4.5 billion were sent to United States from other
countries in 2012 another $123.3 billion were sent from United States to other
countries in the same year.
What does cash flow around our global village
say about globalization?
What might cash flow linkages say about conflict
between states with high or low remittances?
Today, February 20, 2014 is World Day of Social Justice.
Do you have it marked on your calendar?
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 20 February
as World Day of Social Justice in 2007.
Social justice is the idea and guiding principle for
peaceful and prosperous coexistence among the people of our global village.
According to the United Nations, the principles of social
justice promote gender equality, the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants,
and seeks to remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race,
ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.
Dr. Paul Farmer said, "Our goal is nothing less than
the refashioning of our world into one in which no one starves, drinks impure
water, lives in fear of the powerful and violent, or dies ill or
1. Will you act to promote social justice on this World Day of Social Justice?
2. Is Dr. Farmer's goal of working toward a truly just world
- one mother, one child, one patient, one caregiver at a time - a worthy and or
appropriate goal for our village?
Our global village faces two oddly juxtaposed problems:
obesity and hunger. In his song "Funny
The Way It Is" Dave Matthews sings, "Funny the way it is, if you think about
it, somebody is going hungry and someone else is eating out. Funny the way it
is, not right or wrong."
Is it wrong?
According to the United Nation's World Food Program, one in
four of the world's children are stunted from malnutrition.
On the other hand, according to the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), about 56 percent of adults on
earth are getting far too much to eat and are overweight or obese.
The United States and Mexico sit at the very top of the
obesity list with right at 70% of the population overweight.
According to the (OECD), the United States and Mexico are
now the most obese in the developed world.
What factors push some parts of our global village to be
obese while others starve? According to
the World Food Program, 1) poverty, 2) lack of investment in agricultural
infrastructure, 3) climate change and weather patterns, 4) war and displacement,
and 5) wasted food are all factors leading to 842 million people in the world
not having enough to eat.
Of these five factors leading to hunger which
one(s) are directly linked to the behaviors of people in the developed world?
Which of these factors are we or should or could
we develop policies to address?
Mr. Andy Gotts is a celebrity photographer from London, England.
Mr. Gotts has photographed a number of stars in support to Vivienne Westwood's
fight to Save the Arctic, part of her Climate Revolution campaign.
Photograph by Andy Gotts.
In support of the "climate revolution," Gotts created these
black and white portraits of Hollywood actors including Jerry Hall, George
Clooney and Chris Martin wearing slogan T-shirts designed by Vivienne Westwood
(click here for more).
Given the evidence is so strong against those
who deny climate change why do their misinformed beliefs garner such passionate
and vocal support?
Do celebrity campaigns like this one of
photographer Andy Gott's help move us toward policy change and action on
With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening today, the
Russian police arrested four gay rights activists protesting in
St. Petersburg and Google launched its own protest with a new doodle. Google
is doing its part to stand for all athletes, gay, straight, or otherwise.
The Google doodle pulls a quote from the Olympic Charter, "The
practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility
of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic
spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship,
solidarity and fair play."
There are seven fundamental principles of Olympism in the
1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining
in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with
culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy
of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and
respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of
the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful
society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised,
universal and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the
IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of
Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing
together of the world's athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic
Games. Its symbol is five interlaced rings.
4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual
must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any
kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a
spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
5. Recognising that sport occurs within the framework of
society, sports organisations within the Olympic Movement shall have the rights
and obligations of autonomy, which include freely establishing and controlling
the rules of sport, determining the structure and governance of their
organisations, enjoying the right of elections free from any outside influence
and the responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance be
6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a
person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is
incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
7. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance
with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.
Is the practice of sport is a human right?
How should the rest of the world community react
to Russian anti-gay laws?
Imagine that you are a currency trader - specialized in
trading the Mexican peso - for a large bank. You sit staring at your three monitors
on at your workstation in Singapore or Houston or London.
You work in the foreign exchange market called "forex," which
is our global village's decentralized market for the trading sovereign state
currencies. Millions of dollars can be made or lost in a matter of minutes. You
need information. You need good information fast - as you will be trading hundreds
of millions of dollars today. Your job is to make money for your bank trading for the
Currency trading is in part about spotting trends and
guessing what will happen to the value of this or that currency. So you are
wondering about the value of the Peso and seeking information. Perhaps you
think, "Hey, I should create a closed Facebook group or maybe a chat room that will
allow my trading buddies from different banks all over the world to share
information about trades in ways that benefit our trades."
The borderless world of finance and the ability to share
information has created a regulatory concern for states. Regulators in New York
this week launched an investigation into the possible use of chat rooms to manipulate
currency markets (click here for more).
A state's sovereignty over only its currency means that the
trading of these currencies has very little regulator oversight. According to
Al Jazeera, this week, financial regulator authorities in the United States,
Britain, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore have opened investigations into
alleged manipulation of foreign exchange markets (click here for more).
Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Goldman Sachs and a number
of other large banks that the Department of Financial Services regulates are being
investigated for manipulating foreign exchange rates.
Perhaps the big banks will act responsibly
within these trillion dollar currency trade markers and do not need regulatory
Is this yet another transnational issue that
erases state borders and calls for global governance?
The Iranian leadership maintains that its nuclear development
program is for peaceful purposes - not weapons.
Last November, the Iranians reached out to Britain, China,
France, Russia, the United States, and Germany in an attempt to conclude a
nuclear deal that would at once ease sanctions and satisfy the global security needs
of these states.
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama warned Congress
not to send him another set of sanctions for Iran. While he has stated that the
road to a deal with Iran will be difficult he intends to give diplomacy a
chance to create a real and comprehensive solution. President Obama said, "The sanctions that we put in place helped make this
opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions
bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of
our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran's
leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for
more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does
not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran's leaders do seize the chance, then
Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we
will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without
the risks of war."
In a letter last week to Senator Carl Levin, former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed saying, "I have no doubt that this is
the time to give our diplomacy the space to work."
Senator Levin said Clinton's "letter is another strong
signal to Congress that we should not take any legislative action at this time
that would damage international unity or play into the hands of hardliners in
Iran who oppose negotiations."
Is the United States foreign policy stronger or
weaker with a unified voice on Iran?
Should the US trust diplomacy and will there be
time to put into place additional sanctions in the future if diplomacy should
fail to produce a nuclear free Iran?
The Elders have a mission of working toward a "world where
people live in peace, conscious of their common humanity and their shared
responsibilities" (click here for more).
These world leaders have several thoughtful and constructive
approaches to reaching this noble goal. As outlined in their 2014-2017
Strategic Plan they have adopted three goals with supporting strategies that
will form a framework for the organization's activities through to 2017.
The Elders have outlined these "World Challenges."
"We live in a world in which:
Growing inequality is holding back development,
as well as leading to civil unrest and conflict.
A prolonged global financial crisis is shifting
attention from international to domestic issues, fomenting nationalism and
Skepticism and disillusionment with political
leadership is widespread.
Failure of governance at all levels is leaving
fertile ground for transnational crime, such as human trafficking, trading in
drugs and illicit arms.
Human rights, gender equality and human
development are threatened by rising religious fundamentalism.
Chronic long-term conflicts remain frozen and
Our inability to tackle climate change threatens
to halt or even reverse progress towards poverty eradication.
With many plans of action outlined to address these
challenges I want to bring your attention to one in specific. In order to make
steps toward the first goal of a justice and inclusive global community the
Elders, will use their influence to promote social and economic benefits of
Further they intended to "amplify the voices of and support
ethical leaders, particularly among the young, all over the world."
Why focus specifically on supporting ethical
leadership among the young?
What impact might the focus on ethical and
inclusive leadership have on the challenges the Elders have outlined?