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Flood and Political Conflicts in Northeastern India

By Nicholas Baldo | July 3, 2012 |

Flooding in Northeastern India and its sometimes-fraught political backdrop.

Heightened Unrest in Venezuela’s Zulia State

By Martin W. Lewis | June 30, 2012 |

In recent weeks, Zulia has experienced mounting troubles. Several leaders of the indigenous Yukpa and Wayuu communities were murdered, reportedly by wealthy ranchers infuriated at indigenous peoples moving into their prime grazing lands (Zulia is a major beef and dairy—and oil—producer)

Expected and Unexpected Findings in the New Pew Poll of Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | June 29, 2012 |

A new public opinion survey of Pakistan by the Pew Global Attitudes Project has been gathering media attention. Most reports focus on the intensification of anti-American attitudes revealed by the poll. Evidently, only 12 percent of Pakistanis now view the U.S. favorably. Of the nations assessed by Pew, only the Jordanian have a lower view of the United States. Three-quarters of the people of Pakistan see the U.S. as an enemy state, whereas only 8 percent view it as a partner. Pakistanis also express deep skepticism about American financial assistance, with only 12 percent viewing economic aid as “mostly positive.”

Dam-Building in Ethiopia & Water Worries in Egypt

By Martin W. Lewis | June 28, 2012 |

Representatives from Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan recently met in Khartoum to discuss Ethiopia’s controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, currently under construction on the Blue Nile River. The governments of Sudan and especially Egypt are concerned that the dam will reduce the flow of water into their countries. In response, both states have threatened to suspend their activities in the Nile Basin Initiative, a co-operative framework for sustainably managing the flow of the Nile that currently involves Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the DR Congo. To avoid such a scenario, future meetings are planned

Another Cartoon Controversy Strikes India

By Martin W. Lewis | June 27, 2012 | 4 Comments

Yet another political cartoon controversy has embroiled India in recent weeks. The cartoon in question dates to 1965, when opposition to the planned imposition of the Hindi language across India generated unrest over much of the country and especially the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil activists feared that the imposition of Hindi would reduce non-Hindi speakers to the status of second-class citizens, and thus agitated for the continuing use of English as the country’s unifying, common language

Japan to Encourage Deer Hunting and Venison Eating?

By Martin W. Lewis | June 18, 2012 | 4 Comments

The sika deer (Cervus nippon), once widespread across eastern Asia, has been eliminated from virtually its entire range. The animal is extinct in Korea and barely hangs on in China and far eastern Russia. In Japan, however, the deer population is exploding, resulting in major agricultural and forestry losses.

Utah Seeks to Annex Federal Lands

By Martin W. Lewis | June 17, 2012 | 8 Comments

A recent political maneuver by the state government of Utah is stirring up intense of controversy. “Utah’s Nuttiest Idea of All,” reads a June 2 headline in the Salt Lake Tribune. A more recent opinion piece by geographer Eric C. Ewart in the same newspaper argues that that the move is blatantly unconstitutional and will “derail the largest single part of Utah’s economy: tourism.” Looking into the future, Ewart contends that tomorrow’s youth will be asking their elders, “Grandpa, why did you destroy Utah’s natural landscapes in search of quick profit?”

Gujarat to Ban References to Caste in the Classroom?

By Martin W. Lewis | June 15, 2012 |

The Indian state of Gujarat has recently decided to amend its educational curriculum by removing “all the derogatory or implied references to surnames, castes, religion, profession, region.” The reforms go so far as to prohibit the use of students’ surnames—a caste “give away”—in the classroom.

Gabon to Drop China as Its Mining Partner?

By Martin W. Lewis | June 14, 2012 | One Comment

Unsatisfied with the current arrangement, Gabon is again in the process of renegotiating with its Chinese partner. Rumor has it, however, that it would like to drop China altogether and instead turn the project over to a major international mining firm, most likely the Anglo-Australian leviathan BHP Billiton. Brazil’s Vale and France’s Eramet are also mentioned as possibilities, but it is significant that Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba visited BHP Billiton iron-ore facilities in Australia this April

Food-Cost Protests in Northern Canada

By Martin W. Lewis | June 11, 2012 | 9 Comments

Major protests against the high price of food and economic insecurity more generally were held last weekend in the remote northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, inhabited mostly by Inuit (“Eskimo”) people. Organized on Facebook, the “Feed My Family” campaign has attracted roughly a third of Nunavut’s population. A recent study found that some “three-quarters of Inuit preschoolers live in food-insecure homes, and that “half of youths 11 to 15 years old sometimes go to bed hungry.”

Iceland to Export Electricity to Britain?

By Martin W. Lewis | June 7, 2012 |

Iceland is by far the world richest country in terms of per capita renewable energy. 81 percent of Iceland’s total energy needs are derived from renewable sources, mostly geothermal and hydroelectric, as is 100 percent of its electricity. As a result of its abundant resources, electrical power in Iceland is cheaper than anywhere else in Europe.

Religious and Racial Strife in Western Burma

By Martin W. Lewis | June 6, 2012 |

Although Burma (Myanmar) has seen substantial reform over the past few months, several deeply entrenched conflicts create major obstacles for the country’s transition. According to The Irrawaddy, tensions in the western Arakan region recently exploded into violence when “300 people stopped a bus carrying Muslims from a religious gathering, dragged out the 10 occupants, beat them to death and burned the vehicle in Taunggup…” The attack occurred in retaliation for the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist girl by three Muslim youths.

Debt Issues and Russian Investments in Guyana

By Martin W. Lewis | June 5, 2012 | 4 Comments

Stabroek News recently reported that Russia would write-off $50 million in debt to the government of Guyana. Debt write-offs for the impoverished South American country are nothing new. In 1999 alone, Guyana successfully negotiated $256 million in debt forgiveness.

Rioting Threatens Zanzibar’s Tourist Economy

By Martin W. Lewis | June 2, 2012 | 3 Comments

Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous island in the country of Tanzania, is still reeling from widespread rioting in late May. At that time, members of an Islamist separatist movement allegedly set fire two churches and clashed with the police. The Zanzibar government accuses the leadership of Uamsho, or the Islamic Revival Forum, of ordering its followers into the streets to cause havoc.

Thai Transsexual Wins Election

By Martin W. Lewis | June 1, 2012 | 2 Comments

Yonlada Suanyos, a transsexual woman, recently gained fame by becoming Thailand’s first katoey (or openly transgender person) to be elected to public office. Ms. Suanyos, a PhD candidate who also runs a television station and a jewelry business, will soon become a councilor in Nan province in northern Thailand. She was formerly a member of a transgender music group called Venus Flytrap, performing under the name of Posh Venus.

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