Links to Start Your Week 5/4/14

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Asia

Massive landslides have occurred in Afghanistan. One village was struck by a first landslide, which buried many inhabitants. When 600 villagers from a nearby town went to try and dig out their neighbors, a second landslide occurred, burying many of them as well. So far the provincial governor is reported that 2,000 have died.

In the wake of the raid that killed bin Laden (which used a vaccine campaign to collect intel on the Al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts,) actual vaccine providers in Pakistan are increasingly being targeted by militants. Pakistan is one of the few countries that has not eradicated polio, and in fact in the past couple of years, polio cases are once again on the rise, which could lead to the spread of the disease beyond Pakistan’s borders.

 

Africa

Hopefully by now you have heard that over 300 schoolgirls (even more than previously thought) in Nigeria were kidnapped, presumably by the militant Islamist organization Boko Haram. We are now getting reports that many are being forced into marriages with their captors. After initially stating that the military had rescued nearly all of the girls, the government had to admit that they had actually rescued none; the few girls who are free now escaped on their own.

 

Environment

A company is testing bacterial robots in Cincinnati that can purify water and produce energy at the same time. I don’t really understand all of the science here, but since climate change could cause water shortages in the future, ways to recycle our water are going to become increasingly important. Besides that, untreated sewage water can lead to spread of disease. And of course, there is the poetic beauty of generating clean energy from dirty water. This is a super exciting development.

Cities in the global south are developing their own strategies for responding to climate change.

 

Security

The Senate has dropped a requirement for reporting on drone strike casualties from its intelligence authorization bill. Basically, the administration said “We’re thinking about some different ways to maybe be more transparent about drone strikes” and the Senate said “Good enough for us!” Unsurprisingly, I do not think this is good enough.

Also, it is apparently quite easy to get placed on the terrorist watch list. You don’t have to have done anything suspicious, or even have some sort of relation to anyone who has done anything suspicious. You just have to have some sort of connection (what constitutes a “connection” is not completely clear to me) to a country where people are suspected of engaged in terrorism against the U.S.

 

Human Rights

On May 1, when the rest of the world celebrates International Workers’ Day, the U.S. instead celebrates “Loyalty Day.” Loyalty Day got really popular during the Cold War, when we decided not to recognize the rights and accomplishments of workers because…communism. So instead it became yet another opportunity to showcase your love for, and commitment to, the United States. And we still call it that instead of recognizing the rights and accomplishments of workers. Because communism.

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