Links to Start Your Week 5/20/14


Women in Thailand are striving to revive an ancient order of female monks.



Switzerland will be voting soon on whether to establish the world’s highest minimum wage: 22 francs per hour, the equivalent of $24.65 US.

A Chilean student activist burned student debt papers worth $500 million. It is one of the latest developments in a resurgence of the student protests that began in Chile in 2011 demanding free education.



Negotiations are proceeding towards a final nuclear agreement with Iran. And the possibility of lifting sanctions is gaining some traction in Congress, which means that a real deal might actually be possible.

The U.N. has held the first inter-governmental panel debate on fully autonomous weapons. Just Security gives a good overview of the discussion. Some supporters of autonomous weapons have argued that they would be less likely to commit war crimes than ordinary soldiers, an argument that The Duck of Minerva takes down pretty handily, I think.



India’s elections were a big win for the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party. Its next prime minister, Narendra Modi, is celebrated by some because of the economic growth of the state where he has served as governor, Gujarat. However, he has also been described as fascist. Under his leadership, Gujarat was the site of massive riots that killed hundreds of people, mostly Muslims. Modi has said that his main regret about the riots was his handling on the media in their aftermath.

Pakistan is struggling to cope with a measles outbreak. Insecurity makes vaccination campaigns difficult, and many Pakistanis face corruption when they go to hospitals. They are expected to pay bribes for a bed or for prescribed medicines. 53 percent of the children in Pakistan are not vaccinated against any disease.

China brought an oil rig into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands. Both China and Vietnam claim that the islands and nearby oil reserves are in their exclusive economic zones. China’s latest action has prompted a spate of ant-Chinese protests in Vietnam.



The African continent is emerging as a new front for the U.S. military as the war in Afghanistan continues to wind down. Currently, many operations there are humanitarian in focus, but most are also concentrated in oil-rich countries. A report from the Army War College has tried to argue that the U.S. is not interested in the region’s oil reserves, even as it also argued that the American oil companies are “the best corporate citizens that African leaders and their publics could hope for.” You know those oil companies, always putting the public first.


Middle East

Water and electricity shortages continue to impact the Gaza Strip, while the population is expected to keep growing. A big part of the problem is the fact that most of the power and water in the occupied Palestinian territories comes from Israel, which is not exactly making the Palestinians a priority.


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