Posted: January 3, 2012 Filed under: Africa, Arab Spring, Asia, Current Events, Egypt, Europe, globalization, Human Rights, international development, Middle East, National Security, Pittsburgh, Resources, Technology, Travel, Twitter
Happy New Year, everyone! 2012 is off to a snowy start here in Pittsburgh, and this seems like a perfect time to review what has happened over the past 360-some odd days.
As always, the global stage was full of tumult and change: 2011 saw the deaths of influential world figures (Warren Christopher, Muammar Gaddafi, Vaclav Havel, Steve Jobs, Kim Jong-Il, and Osama bin Laden, for example); uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa; the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq; devastating natural disasters (earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, typhoon in the Philippines, floods in south-east Asia, and famine in the Horn of Africa); and economic crisis in Europe.
We’ve scoured the web to find some of the best of the “2011 in Review” resources, and compiled them below. Are there any we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.
2011 Year in Review (Reuters): Photos and descriptions of the most important news stories of the year, including a dramatic 60-second multimedia video presentation of the key stories, and some of the top images from 2011.
Best Articles of 2011 (Foreign Policy Magazine): Although not necessarily highlighting the most important news stories of the year, here are the most-read articles from foreignpolicy.com in 2011.
Best International Relations Books of 2011 (Foreign Affairs): In every issue of Foreign Affairs, scholars review recent academic and nonfiction books. At the end of 2011, the reviewers were asked to select the best ones. Here you will find the best books in a number of categories, including: Western Europe; the Middle East; the Western Hemisphere; Eastern Europe; Economic, Social, and Environmental Subjects; Asia; Africa; the United States; Military, Scientific, and Technological Subjects; and Political and Legal Subjects.
Personal Favorites from 2011 (A Realist in an Ideological Age): Stephen M. Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and writes a blog, A Realist in an Ideological Age, for Foreign Policy. In this post, he shares his favorite blog posts from the past year, all of which are worth a read.
Shots Seen ‘Round the World (Foreign Policy Magazine): Fifty of the best/most important photographs from 2011, as selected by Foreign Policy.
Top 5 Foreign Policy Books in 2011 (Foreign Policy Association): The FPA asked its staff, editors, writers and bloggers to select the best books about foreign policy. Here is what they came up with.
Top 5 International Documentaries of 2011 (Foreign Policy Association): The FPA asked its staff, editors, writers and bloggers to select the best international documentaries on issues related to U.S. foreign policy. Here is what they came up with.
Twitter’s 2011 Year in Review (Twitter): It is no secret that social media is playing an increasing role in current events. Here is a look at some of the key stories, hot topics, and important moments of 2011 — as seen on Twitter.
Your Top 10 Stories of 2011 (The Guardian): Links to the top ten news stories of the year, as selected by readers.
The Year in Foreign Policy (Foreign Policy Association): The FPA looks at several key foreign policy events that promise to shape the coming year, including the 2012 election.
Year in Review (Foreign Policy Blogs Network): The FPA’s blog network has a number of great, topic-specific “Year in Review” posts, all of which can be found here. Read about 2011 in Russia or Israel, or the year in Global Food Security or War Crimes (to name just a few).
Posted: August 1, 2011 Filed under: Facebook, Technology
Social networking has become a central part of many people’s daily lives. However, not only has it evolved into an essential tool for our personal social lives, but it has also begun to change the world on a much larger scale. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have made headlines for their roles in generating and coordinating social movements, political protests and even revolutions—most recently in the Arab Spring uprisings.
Of the various social networks that exist, the king of the jungle is most certainly Facebook. According to Facebook’s official statistics, it has a more than 750 million active users. That means that if Facebook were a country, it would surpass the United States as the third most populous country in the world, behind only India and China.
Of those 750 million, about 70% (525 million) live outside of the U.S. What’s more, Facebook is quickly becoming the dominant social networking site in many of the world’s countries. This map shows (in blue) the countries in which Facebook is the most popular social network:
Of course, Facebook’s world domination is still far from complete, and there are some notable places – including Brazil, Russia and China– where other networks remain more popular. However, if you follow the above link, you can see similar maps going back two years to June 2009, and watch how Facebook’s reach and preponderance has expanded.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 28, 2011 Filed under: Resources, Technology, Travel
If you’re a fan of our blog (and let’s be honest — who isn’t?), then you might enjoy some of our friends’ blogs, as well!
A new feature that you’ll notice on the right-hand side of your screen is our Blogroll, where we’ll share links to interesting blogs that we recommend.
Right now, we’re highlighting three very special blogs:
- John in Argentina: John is an area high school student who was awarded one of our 18 Global Travel Scholarships to travel abroad this summer. He’ll be spending four weeks in Argentina, beginning with an orientation in Buenos Aires, followed by a homestay with an Argentinian family. Then he will embark on an ecological adventure through Argentina by foot, boat, and horse. He’ll be blogging about his experiences, so that we can all share in his adventure with him.
- Grace in Thailand: Grace is another of our Global Travel Scholars, and she’s headed to Thailand! Her five-week program will begin with a week-long orientation in the northern city of Chiang Mai. From there, she will travel to a small rural village for a homestay and community service project. Her adventure comes to an end with a few days in historic Sukothai and the country’s capital, Bangkok. During her trip, Grace will also have the opportunity to explore northern Thailand by foot, raft, and elephant on a rugged trek through remote hill-tribe villages. Follow along as Grace explores Thailand!
- Pete’s Study Tour to Europe Blog: Pete is one of 11 educators who were selected to participate in ourSummer Study Tour to Europe. He’ll be visiting Brussels and Vienna with the group, attending meetings and talking with experts at the European Commission, European Council, NATO, the UN, and many other institutions.
- Service Learning in Costa Rica: The students at City Charter High School took a service-learning trip to Costa Rica. See what these Pittsburgh students are up to in Costa Rica!
If you have a blog that you think might be of interest to our readers, leave us a comment and let us know!
Posted: December 9, 2010 Filed under: Current Events, Technology
Don’t let the name fool you, WikiLeaks is not associated with everyone’s favorite online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. But both websites do embody a similar ideal: access to information. The difference is that WikiLeaks wants to give access to classified information. Without condemning or condoning WikiLeaks and the actions of its Editor in Chief, Julian Assange, let’s review what the site is, what it is doing, and some of the major ramifications that may ensue.
WikiLeaks was launched in 2006 as a website for leaking confidential information, with a mission to make governments more open. In its early days, WikiLeaks focused on corruption in African governments, most notably in Kenya. The site even won some media awards from Amnesty International and The Economist. Now, however, WikiLeaks has turned its attention to the U.S. government and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly everyone cares about government secrecy/privacy (depending on your view) when it is their own government coming under fire.
The latest leak, in November, was that of over a quarter million U.S. State Department email communications (frequently referred to as cables). These cables, courtesy of U.S. official Bradley Manning, range from completely uninteresting to diplomatically damaging to possible war time espionage. Whether or not the leak is actually harmful to U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan remains to be seen. Read this article
for a more in depth analysis of the situation and more detail on the contents of the cables.
Should we toss Assange in jail and throw away the key? Accept WikiLeaks as a new facet of governing bodies? What are the sides here? To be sure, leaking documents that are classified, is against the law. If Assange were a U.S. citizen there might be a case for treason. However, he is Australian. But is it really espionage? Maybe. This article
by the Economist explains the need for government secrecy in diplomatic matters and the difficulty posed in prosecuting a web-based organization like WikiLeaks, because the internet transcends borders.
Amid calls for Assange’s head on a platter, others are running wild with praise for WikiLeaks. Arianna Huffington writes here
about how this could be the tipping point for political backlash against the war in Afghanistan, which she says cannot be won. In light of anticipated upcoming leaks about some mega banking corporations, this blog article
likes the idea that sources like WikiLeaks might keep giant corporations on the up ‘n up if their inner-workings could be exposed at any time. Still others, simply think that governments should be more open, and that WikiLeaks is a much needed venue for government accountability. This article
is somewhat on the extreme side but makes the case for transparency in governance. I am a big fan of transparency and accountability in government, and yes, information is power, but do I deserve to know classified information about tactical troop movements in Afghanistan? No, I don’t. WikiLeaks is a slippery slope my friends.
Regardless of the right or wrong of WikiLeaks, the issue represents an historical moment in the evolution of governance. The technology that created WikiLeaks is there and is evolving as you read this. This article
discusses how, even if WikiLeaks was shut down, another could easily take its place. We are living in the information age. If people want the information, and have a just little bit of web-savvy and a thumb drive, they can get it. Well, as long as people like Bradley Manning are willing to share it, that is. But consider this; the U.S. government has thousands of employees with security clearances, and gives out hundreds more each year. Why would the U.S. government make it so easy to exchange classified information? In the wake of 9/11, calls abounded for cooperation and better sharing of intelligence across organizations. So now they have done that . . . and now this. There are two sides to everything, and those sides are very rarely black and white. Certainly though, as long as the technology exists to leak information it will force governments to be more discriminating about the information that is or is not labeled top-secret. Who knows? Maybe the threat of a WikiLeaks expose will steer governments towards more honest diplomacy at home and abroad. Honesty? In politics? We live in interesting times. Interesting times indeed.
World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern
Posted: September 14, 2010 Filed under: Technology
War isn’t just fought on a battlefield anymore. The newest soldiers are just as likely to be sitting next to you in a café typing up that report for the boss, or watching their kids at a soccer game while checking their smartphones. Their choice of weapon? A computer. With computers, your ATM account can be frozen, satellite communications can be stopped, and missiles can be launched with a simple keystroke. Phone communications can be shut down and identities can be stolen. One person could effectively cripple a country in a matter of minutes and never be caught. On a large scale, these actions could constitute cyberwar, which occurs when a country (or individuals acting in their own interests) seeks to increase its power by controlling, and sometimes, obfuscating information. A country’s banking system could be shut down, only to be reopened if that nation released terrorists. A radar screen can show that the sky is clear, while in actuality, enemy aircraft are preparing to launch missiles pointed at large metropolises.
The world runs on computer systems. Because of scenarios like the ones described above, governments are increasingly facing new dilemmas: how to stop an attack, how to catch perpetrators, and how to work with other nations that may otherwise be adversaries, just to ensure that each country’s information transactions are secure. With these new warfare methods come new questions surrounding civil liberties. Who controls cyberspace, and who is responsible for policing crimes committed against a nation, or multiple nations? What’s the difference between a hacker causing mischief, and the intent to start a war? If you don’t install a firewall on your computer, are you liable if someone hacks into your computer to cause irreparable damage to another nation?
Panelists will include Ms. Kim Zetter, Contributor, Wired Magazine; Mr. Ron Plesco, President and CEO, National Cyber-Forensics Training Alliance; and Mr. Jaanus Kirikmäe, Consul General, Estonia. Panelists will share their perspectives on key cyber security and civil liberties issues. The panel discussion and webcast will run from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM. Afterwards, the students will break into small groups to tackle a foreign policy scenario.
Posted: June 3, 2010 Filed under: Technology
Hello, loyal followers of the World Affairs Education Outreach Blog! We just wanted to give you an update as to the types of things to expect from this blog as we move forward.
This summer, we’ll be hosting a number of guest bloggers (including interns, students, and teachers — many of whom are traveling abroad). Keep an eye out to see what types of things they’re learning in their travels. We’ll also continue to provide information and resources on current events, upcoming programs, and international opportunities.
If there’s a topic you’d like to see featured here, send an email to Christina (christina (at) worldaffairspittsburgh (dot) org), or leave a comment on one of the blog posts. We’d love to hear from you!
Posted: September 17, 2009 Filed under: Resources, Technology
In association with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, a tenth grade Pine Richland High School student, Catherine
McAnney, has created a blog for students to voice their opinions about what is happening in society today. The blog can be found at www.the-student-perspective.blogspot.com
. This blog is intended to provoke discussion and comment by students to encourage the next generation to understand the global issues that affect the world we live in. If you have any questions or ideas, please contact Catherine
either through the blog or by email cmac0809aol.com
Students — please share your thoughts on pressing global issues! Teachers, please encourage your students to participate!
Posted: June 10, 2009 Filed under: Academic WorldQuest, GAIN, Student Ambassador Program, Technology, Videos, Wiki
The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has been working to expand our educational outreach through technology. We are pleased to announce updates to our Wiki site, which is part of our Global Affairs Interactive Network (GAIN). On http://wikiwac.wikispaces.com, you can find many resources:
- Videos from GAIN sessions, special seminars where students engage in round-table discussions with guest speakers. Discussions available for viewing include Jerry Fowler speaking on the crisis in Darfur, Ambassador Marc Grossman discussing diplomacy, and Ambassador Vasil Sikharulidze commenting on the conflict between Russia and Gerogia.
- Information about our Student Ambassador Program, an annual program geared toward middle school students that focuses on better understanding a region of the world. The focus for 2009 was “Asia,” and five different student projects are available on the site.
- Revamped study information for the 2010 Academic WorldQuest competition. In addition to information on how to register and the rules of the game, new practice questions will be provided weekly.
We hope that teachers and students will take the opportunity to use this as an additional forum to discuss world affairs and post resources. Please check out the site and let us know what you think!
Posted: May 29, 2009 Filed under: Technology
Welcome to the new Education Outreach Blog from the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh
. We are very excited to host a forum for collaboration between students, teachers, and community members with an interest in international affairs and education!
This blog will include:
- International Affairs Resources for use at home and in the classroom
- Information on current events and global issues
- First-hand accounts and opinions from student and teacher participants in Council programs
- Details on upcoming Council programs
We encourage everyone to post your thoughts, suggestions, and resources. If you have feedback, questions, or something you would like to contribute to our blog, please contact Christina at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh (email@example.com). We look forward to your participation!