• Maps of our global village: maps worth thousands of words

    The NGO ONE has assembled eight maps of our global village that will probably change the way you look at our planet (http://gates.ly/1qPuQZE).

    In the above map we see global Internet use.

    In the above photo we see the world at night (created from photos from NASA).  

    The night shot of our global village shows stark contrasts in access to electricity - especially when comparing the continent of Africa with the global north.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     How might access to the Internet shape the opportunities for people?

    2.     How does the lack of electricity effect health care, or economic growth, or education, or simple safety?


  • As the West considers further action toward Russia some Ukrainian women impose their own sanctions - denying Russian soldiers sex in protest

    Many claim that the referendum vote by the people of Crimea to leave Ukraine for Russia is illegitimate.  One group of Ukrainian women are fighting back and urging their countrywomen to "fight the enemy in any way!"

    This group (click here for their Facebook page) of Ukrainian women are campaigning to "deny Russian men sex" and selling provocative t-shirts to draw attention to alleged Russian misdeeds in Crimea with attention-grabbing slogan: "Don't give it to a Russian."

    The protest shirts sell for just $23 with all of the proceeds going to the "needs of Ukrainian army."

    According to a report in Foreign Policy the campaign organizers are saying, "What Russia is doing in Ukraine is terrible, but the world sees their actions primarily through the prism of the pro-Putin propaganda."

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Given Europe's economic dependence on Russia's oil, will sanctions actually come together and how might that circumvent the situation?

    2.     What effect if any might the Ukrainian sex boycott have on Vladimir Putin?



  • MY World: The United Nations global survey for a better world

    Government that includes all voices and is accountable to the people is necessary and critical for ensuring more equitable development and for the effective realization of human rights for all across our global village. The United Nations is in the process of developing and agenda for our future and is seeking your thoughts, priorities and views, so that global leaders can act on the will of the people.

    The UN "MY World" website includes a survey for all citizens that aims to capture a better understanding of need and desires as they begin the process of defining the new development agenda for the world.

    The UN survey asks you to select which six of sixteen possible issues you think would make the most difference in your life (click here for the survey).

    The results of the survey will be provided to the UN Secretary General´s High Level Panel for Post-2015 before their meetings in Monrovia, Bali and New York.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Do the sixteen issues selected by the UN inclusive of all the important priorities - or did they omit an important issue?

    2.     Do the sixteen issues selected by the UN specifically represent the needs and desires of the world's poor and marginalized communities?



  • We are all connected: emotional contagion across global social networks

    Our global village is growing ever closer together.

    In the mid-1990s Thomas Friedman and others pondered the effects our global connections might have on international relations and conflict. Friedman's idea was that "no two countries that both have a McDonald's have ever fought a war against each other." For many scholars the ever-tightening human and economic bonds would make cooperation more and more necessary.

    Above is a map showing global concentrations of McDonalds restaurants in 2012. 

    While Friedman's McDonalds bond is significant, a new study (recently published in Plos One) by scholars at the University of California, Yale, and Facebook highlights an even more important connection across our global village.

    This study found that moods spread virally through social media all across the globe. "What people feel and say in one place may spread to many parts of the globe on the very same day." This finding implies that "emotions themselves ripple through social networks to generate large-scale synchrony that gives rise to clusters of happy and unhappy individuals."

    As a result, we may see greater spikes in linked global emotions that could generate increased volatility in everything from our political systems to financial markets.

    Coviello L, Sohn Y, Kramer ADI, Marlow C, Franceschetti M, et al. (2014) Detecting Emotional Contagion in Massive Social Networks. PLoS ONE 9(3): e90315. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090315

    Discussion starters:

    1.     How might caring and providing better care for those who are suffering in Bangladesh or Mississippi effect others?

    2.     What public policy implications might be drawn from the phenomena of emotional contagion across global social networks?


  • Malaysian Flight MH370 Highlights Global Policing Problem

    What do we know about the crew and passengers of the missing Malaysian Flight MH370? Could they have board the aircraft with a stolen passport? 

    Officials announced late last week they were looking at the background of all the crew and passengers. Reports indicate that at least two passengers on flight MH370 were traveling on stolen passports (click here for more).

    Interpol is an international governmental organization (IGO) that works to enable police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place. Interpol's governing body is called the "General Assembly" and is composed of delegates appointed by each of 190 member states.

    "Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol's databases," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble (click here for more).

    Interpol estimates that in the last year alone passengers were able to board planes more than a billion times without having their passports screened against its databases (click here for more).

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Has the missing Malaysian flight underlined the security problems posed by the global trafficking in fake travel documents?

    2.     What reasons might authorities in Malaysia and elsewhere give for not relying enough on Interpol's database of lost and stolen travel documents?


  • Nationalism: Students suspended and charged with sedition for supporting the Pakistani national cricket team in the Asia Cup match

    India and Pakistan were, of course, once part of the very same state. But in 1947 leaders very violently divided the state - pushing most Muslim people one direction and Hindus the other.  India and Pakistan have been bitter enemies and have fought two wars over Kashmir - a region on land that in part divides the two states.

    Cricket matches between India and Pakistan are international relations events with huge cheering crowds and millions of people watching on television. Passions run deep on both sides.

    Last week the Pakistani national cricket team traveled to India to take on the Indian national team. Students from Kashmir who attended a local university (Swami Vivekanand Subharti University) found out just how deep the feelings of nationalism run as they cheered for the Pakistani cricketers.

    Meerut Police registered a case of sedition against 67 students and University officials suspended the students.  What was their crime? The students were caught shouting and cheering for their favorite cricket players and the Pakistani team.

    Leaders of the university community demanded action against the "anti-national" students. According to the New York Times, Manzoor Ahmed, a vice chancellor of the university said, "You cannot pass judgments against your own national team, their behavior was not conducive to peace on the campus. It creates bad blood with the local boys."

    Nationalism is a mindset that glorifies a particular state and the "nationality" of the group who resides there. Nationalism or patriotism teaches citizens to believe that their state is the best.


    Discussion starters:

    1.     Was it irrational of the Meerut police to book the students for sedition?

    2.     What message might the punishment send to Indian, Pakistani, and Kashmiri youth?


  • Giant Oil MNCs watch closely as US and EU governments debate sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

    Multinational corporations are closely watching global policymakers this week, as the European Union and United States governments debate what actions to take against the Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

    Multinational corporations (MNCs) are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with extraordinary ties, influence, and activities around the world. With billions of dollars invested in the far corners of our village these NGOs wield enormous power in state-to-state relations and in international conflicts.

    MNCs, like ExxonMobil Corporation are increasingly influential because they are enormous agents of growth. In the last decade ExxonMobil has worked hard to develop close ties with the Russians (click here for more). How close? Well, Exxon currently holds the drilling rights for 11.4 million acres of Russian land - an investment of billions. Exxon has plans to begin drilling in 2015.

    Later today (Wednesday 12 March 2014) the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee will review a sanctions bill drafted by senators from both parties.

    Politico reports that the draft-bill would block Russian assets and possibly revoke the visas of some Russian officials. The bill could impose strict sanctions on commercial activities within Russia.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Should American oil MNCs investments be lost because of US sanctions on Russia?

    2.     If you were lobbying the US Senate for Exxon, what would be your argument re your company's work in Russia and the recent invasion of Ukraine's Crimea?



  • US Navy "Prepared to act:" Iran's efforts to smuggle weapons to the Gaza Strip stopped by Israelis

    According to a CNN report, "the U.S. Navy had secret orders this week to be "prepared to act" to stop a cargo ship carrying Iranian arms destined for Gaza."

    U.S. officials began secretly tracking a shipment of weapons as it left Iran by air, landed in Syria, and were then shipped into Iraq and loaded at a port in southern Iraq. U.S. navy ships then tracked the cargo down the Persian Gulf, to the Arabian Sea, and then to the Red Sea until the Israeli navy boarded the vessel.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the captured ship was "stocked with weapons destined for terrorist groups" and that "the entire operation . . . was organized by Iran."

    Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps official news agency denied the Israeli Prime Minister's allegations, calling them "a baseless lie."


    Discussion starters:

    1.     How might this tracking and seizure of weapons bound for Gaza affect U.S. and Iranian relations?

    2.     Does CNN's report about the orders for the US Navy indicate that the United States is continuing to hold Iran "accountable for its destabilizing activities in the region, even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy?"



  • United Nations International Women's Day - 2014: HeForShe

    Equality for women is progress for all.

    Today - March 8 - is International Women's Day.

    It is hard to believe that in 2014 women around the world are still being abused, objectified, and silenced.

    Yet, women are half of the world's potential and every single one has the right to a life free from discrimination.

    On this Women's Day, an organization called HeForShe is working to get men around the world to voice support for women's rights.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     How does the focus on equal rights for girls and women shape the development of a state?

    2.     How might the inclusion of men's voices help with fight for equal human rights for all women? 


  • Human Rights: Scotland seeks to offer Ugandan gay law asylum

    States very often offer citizens of other states political asylum or shelter from dangers within their home state.

    Asylum seekers often feel great danger when threatened by intolerant governments.

    Above: Gays, lesbians and others supporting their cause, wear masks to preserve their anonymity as they stage a protest against Uganda's anti-homosexuality laws, Feb. 10, 2014.

    President Yoweri Museveni recently signed a law forbids homosexuality in Uganda. The law includes life sentences for gay sex and same-sex marriages (click here for more).

    A leading Ugandan news services has published lists of what it called the "country's 200 top homosexuals." These individuals might be seeking to leave Uganda and seek asylum in another country (click here for more).

    According to the Herald Scotland, the Minister For External Affairs, Mr. Humza Yousaf, has written to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague detailing the Scottish Government's desire to offer asylum to "any Ugandan" persecuted by the new anti-gay laws.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Is the new anti-gay law a violation of basic and fundamental human rights in Uganda?

    2.     Should the United States also offer asylum and or withhold foreign aid assistance to Uganda?


  • Why war? Ukraine prepares for war after President Putin's 'declaration of war'

    Ukraine has mobilized for war.

    Russia sent troops into the Crimea.

    President Obama has threatened to isolate Russia economically.

    Germany and other Western officials have warned Moscow that it risks expulsion from the community of democratic nations.

    President Vladimir Putin has declared he has the right to invade his neighbor.

    Above: President Barack Obama discusses Ukraine during a meeting with members of his National Security Staff in the Oval Office, Feb. 28, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

    President Putin's decision to send troops into Crimea "is really a stunning, willful choice by President Putin to invade another country," said Kerry, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation."

    Kerry, denouncing what he called Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an "incredible act of aggression," said the United States was considering economic sanctions to persuade Putin to change course or to punish him if he refuses.

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German foreign minister said, "crisis diplomacy is not a weakness but it will be more important than ever to not fall into the abyss of military escalation."

    Nobel Laureate Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, said: "Respect for the territorial integrity of a sovereign country is essential. Acknowledging this is a precondition for building a peaceful future for all citizens of Ukraine."

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What level of analysis would best help us understand why this act of war has occurred?

    2.     Do you agree with former President Martti Ahtisaari? 


  • UNICEF & You: Can you go without using your phone for 10 minutes so a child can have water?

    Imagine starting your day without any water. Now imagine going all day without water. Water is obviously life. Without it we humans suffer - greatly.

    Millions of children all across our global village go without water every day. According to the United Nations, 768 million people do not have access to safe, clean drinking water, and 2.5 billion people live without proper sanitation.

    UNICEF has teamed up with corporate sponsors - and you to provide people with access to water. Sponsors of its latest project have promised to donate one dollar for each minute you can go without touching your smartphone, which equates to about day's worth of clean water for someone in our village.

    What do you have to do to help? Put down your mobile phone for ten minutes. Can you do it?

    Go to www.uniceftapproject.org and give it a try. How long can you do it? How many others in your state are participating?

    Discussion starters:

    1.     What makes this IGO's fundraising campaign unique?

    2.     Does UNICEF's campaign focus your attention on children's needs?


  • Relative Deprivation: global energy consumption and conflict

    In 1970, Professor Ted Robert Gurr, wrote "Why Men Rebel." In that work, Gurr described the sociological idea of "relative deprivation" to help explain the origins of some domestic and international conflicts.  For a population to experience "relative deprivation" they had to have the perception of an unfair disparity between their situation and that of others.

    Gurr wrote, "Men are quick to aspire beyond their social means and quick to anger when those means prove inadequate, but slow to accept their limitations."

    This map was created by BURN: Energy Journal and includes energy consumption data from the International Energy Agency. The energy data includes electricity, as well as fossil and gathered fuels from 2010 - the last year for which complete numbers are available.

    Of course, it surprises no one in our global village that the large, energy-rich countries of Europe and the United States use the most energy.

    Discussion starters:

    1.     How might the people of those countries that are using the least energy feel about the consumption rate in the energy rich states?

    2.     Might Ted Robert Gurr's application of relative deprivation" apply or not?