The Global Citizen
I distinctly remember feeling relief when I first heard about President Obama's decision to arm Syrian rebels - finally there will be a stop to all this bloodshed. Research has led me to think otherwise, however, and I am now skeptical of the President's decision.
David Rohde of Reuters calls Obama's decision to arm the rebels the "best of several bad choices in Syria." He supports his claim by explaining, "Arming one side in a conflict can help produce a diplomatic settlement." In fact, a study on civil war found that conflicts are shorter when there is military intervention on the rebel side.
In some parts of Latin America, the press has little say in the type of content they’re allowed to publish. Recent developments indicate that the climate is growing even more restrictive.
Venezuela is one Latin American country where the government has consistently retained a firm hold over the media. Until last month, Globovisión was the only Venezuelan T.V. network openly critical of the government. In May 2013, the network was sold to a group of private investors who plan to make the network’s content more politically neutral. T.V. networks aren’t the only media outlets in Venezuela that have been neutralized. Newspapers are also under fire. Shortly after Globovisión was sold, Últimas Noticias, one of the most widely read publications, was sold as well. Some fear that Venezuelans will soon have no access to unfiltered information.
If protests happen in Turkey and they rarely appear on the US nightly news, did they even happen? Yes, but they will certainly be less noisy on the international stage.
The protests began on May 28th as a demonstration against a proposal to destroy Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a touristy shopping mall. The city's meager 1.5 percent of green space (compare that to New York City's 17 percent) was being threatened and a small group of environmentalists headed the call.
The protests quickly grew throughout the week after police attempted to disband the peaceful protesters with tear gas and water cannons. Soon after, demonstrations popped up in Turkey's largest cities including Ankara, the country's capital. On June 3rd, Turkish unions called for strikes on the 4th and 5th and on June 7th, a coalition of Turkish-Americans took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times supporting the protesters.
The selection of Pope Francis I as the leader of the world's approximately 1.2 billion Catholics in March marked a major turning point in the trajectory of the Church. Already, he's become a lightning-rod of change, from stating that wasting food is like stealing from the poor, to announcing that atheists can get into Heaven (although this was taken back by a Vatican spokesperson), to calling war "the suicide of humanity." In stark contrast to the mitered-and-Prada-shod Benedict, Pope Francis stands as a humble pontiff who chooses to avoid flowery, high-minded rhetoric in favor of "the language of the people." This makes him the perfect religious figure to tackle climate change.
My fellow Research Associates and I were talking this morning about what we've learned so far about climate change. As our knowledge is increasing, so is our fear. Part of our job here at Globalsolutions.org is to remain up to date on current events. This is great in terms of making me a well-informed citizen, but also disheartening because it takes away the bliss of ignorance. I have always known that climate change is happening, and that we have to act now to help repair and hopefully reverse its damaging effects. However, reading the news every day drives this point home with frequency.
In a recent report, the International Energy Agency calculated that making clean energy investments sooner would be cheaper than leaving them until after 2020. To meet climate targets before 2020 would require about $1.5 trillion, but to achieve the same results after 2020 would take $5 trillion. So, a delay in making the transition to lower carbon energy systems is not only risky, but costly.
Twelve. That's the number of times ABC, CBS, and NBC combined mentioned climate change in 2012. Does that surprise you? Shock you? Scare you? It should.
Though climate change is a global problem, it seems that the American public's interest in the issue has cooled. According to a Pew Research Center report, as of January 2013, only 28% of Americans believe that dealing with global warming should be a public policy priority. While a respectable 52% say that protecting the environment ought to be a priority, the fact that these two response numbers are so divergent shows that the link between environmentalism and climate change has yet to be firmly established. To a large degree, the media's silence on climate change is to blame for this disinterest.
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act. This "milestone" legislation was designed to eliminate the gender-based wage gap in the United States workforce, yet today the average woman is still making only 77 cents to every dollar made by the average man. Yesterday's holiday presents an opportunity to cite a few facts about gender equality in the U.S. and around the world.
The Global Gender Gap Report for 2012 ranks the U.S. as 22nd in the world for gender equality. Although 22nd doesn't sound that bad, a closer look at the statistics shows that this ranking is certainly not satisfactory. Consider, for example, the fact that Iceland-the country ranked first-is more than two times further ahead of the U.S. in terms of gender equality than the U.S. is ahead of China. In other words, Iceland has a gender equality index that is 17% greater than that of the U.S., whereas the U.S. has an index only 7% greater than that of China.
On June 10, 1963, then-President John F. Kennedy gave the commencement speech at American University. What could have been merely an exciting day in the graduates' lives became one of the most important turning points in the Cold War era.
In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy chose this day to reveal his new approach to the Soviet Union and the United States' nuclear program. He declared that the United States would not continue testing nuclear weapons and would seek to form an agreement with other nations to ban nuclear tests in the atmosphere. This led to the passage of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), and later and more importantly, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968. A good way to honor JFK would be to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the updated version, which would ban all types of nuclear testing, including those left out in 1963.
In addition to setting in motion these critical agreements, JFK's speech also accomplished a second important feat: it changed the course of U.S.-Soviet relations for the better. The President boldly and eloquently made an appeal to the humanity of the Soviets. He acknowledged the differences between us, but also drew important comparisons:
The Secretary-General of the United Nations’ panel of experts recently released a report detailing goals for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This 27-person panel made recommendations for development beyond 2015, building upon and amending the Millennium Developmental Goals of 2000.
As before, the overarching objective is to eradicate extreme poverty from the earth by 2030. The overall tone of the report is positive, with the panel stating they have a “great optimism that a transformation to end poverty through sustainable development is possible within our generation.” To help achieve this, the panel illustrates five fundamental or transformative shifts, summarized below:
1) Leave No One Behind:The panel emphasizes that we cannot simply focus on reducing extreme poverty, but instead must focus on ending it. No person should be denied universal human rights or basic economic opportunities.
Two workers’ rights scandals have recently affected the international community.
On April 24th, Rana Plaza, a building home to several garment factories, collapsed in Bangladesh. More than 1,100 people died in the horrific accident. This week, less than two months after the tragedy in Bangladesh, a fire sparked by an ammonia gas leak in a Chinese poultry plant killed 119 workers.
These accidents could have been prevented.
Just days before the collapse of Rana Plaza, managers disregarded cracks in the building’s walls and reassured workers that the building’s infrastructure was secure. The Chinese poultry factory was touted by local government officials as “one of the top 100 agricultural processing companies” and was praised for “its advanced management concept and business model.” Clearly, these officials ignored or overlooked crucial warning signs that contributed to the gas leak.
What can be done to prevent disasters like these from happening in the future?
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