Links to Start Your Week 6/15/14

Sorry for the hiatus. My girlfriend and I are spending the summer in Alaska, and the past two weeks have been completely consumed by travel and training for my summer job working as a counselor at a summer day camp here. I was living at a residential camp for the past week and a half and had no Internet access, so I am just now catching up on a lot of news, and of course getting it together for your consumption. Hopefully I’ll get back on a normal schedule with blog posts now that my days are more structured as well.

 

Africa

Malawi has elected a new president, Peter Mutharika. He has previously served as the country’s education minister and foreign minister, during his brother’s presidency, and his performance was apparently lackluster, but one of the other frontrunners, incumbent (and favorite of Western governments) Joyce Banda was known mostly for her corruption in Malawi.

A new terrorism law in Ethiopia allows suspects to be held for up to four months without charges or the possibility of bail while authorities investigate. Currently, those being held under the new law include journalists and bloggers critical of the Ethiopian government.

 

Middle East

A debate on whether Israel can be both Jewish and democratic also highlighted the parallels between settler colonialism in the United States and Israel.

American embassy staff in Iraq are being evacuated as militants advance towards Baghdad.

 

Asia

The U.S. traded 5 Taliban prisoners for an American soldier being held in Afghanistan named Bowe Bergdahl. Prisoner swaps in counterinsurgency type campaigns like the war in Afghanistan have been pretty unusual in U.S. history, and this trade in particular has been really controversial. There is the issue of whether the release of these Taliban leaders increases threats to U.S soldiers, and now also some debate over whether Bergdahl may have deserted his unit prior to his capture. Another interesting question has also come up about how this impacts the status of other prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. They have been classified as “enemy combatants,” not prisoners of war, which has been used as legal justification for denying them certain rights traditionally accorded to POWs. However, this trade carries with it the implication that those Taliban detainees were POWs who could legally be traded for an American POW. What does that mean for the detainees still in Guantanamo?

Pakistan’s Punjab state is using smart phones to fight the spread of dengue fever. More specifically, the state is requiring its mosquito mitigation workers, who complete tasks like dumping standing water out of old tires lying around or spreading mosquito-killing pastes on clay pots are actually completely those tasks by having them submit geo-tagged photos of the process. The photos are pinned to a map of Lahore to help track public health efforts across the city. The state is in the process of expanding the project to track efforts in fighting crime and even providing aid to agricultural projects.

Civilians are fleeing Pakistan’s North Waziristan state ahead of a new offensive against the Pakistani Taliban.

Water shortages, drought, and government mismanagement lead to rising tensions in Sri Lanka.

Iran continues to comply with its obligations under an international agreement on their nuclear program. Since the agreement, Iran has not produced uranium enriched more than 5 percent, and has decreased their stock of 20 percent increased uranium by 80 percent. So in other words, international inspectors agree that Iran is acting in good faith under this temporary nuclear agreement and continuing negotiations seems like a good idea.
National Security

The Lawfare blog has an interesting piece about countering violent radicalization in the U.S. through community outreach. Specifically, they say that although the administration has called that kind of counter-radicalization a priority, it has yet to put its money where its mouth is and actually fund those kinds of projects. Which means that they haven’t been happening. This is especially relevant as we have the first report of an American suicide bomber in Syria.

Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan have established a relatively peaceful autonomous state, but are now engaged in a legal conflict with Exxon Mobil over oil exploration in the region.

This is a solid opinion piece on how citizens become complicit in their own surveillance.

 

Public Health

Every two minutes a woman dies in childbirth. The most important things we can do to drive that number down are ensure that girls are permitted to go to school and not made into child brides, since it is much more dangerous to give birth in adolescence; provide comprehensive sex education; and make it possible for women around the world to access healthcare and family planning resources, including birth control and abortion. This link goes to a website I recently discovered for an organization called the Population Institute, which states as one of their goals that “every child is a wanted child,” which I think it a really excellent way of summing up the importance of allowing women to control their own reproductive health.

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