Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Human Geography: Chapter Eight", "Lines in the Sand", "Who Owns Jerusalem", "Texas is Turning Blue and The Republican Party May be on the Verge of Extinction…", "Benedict Anderson, Man Without a Country", "This computer programmer solved gerrymandering in his spare time"

Conner Lewis
January 21

Article:
"I'm not ready to declare ISIS a real state just yet, but after today, the group has proved it's not to be underestimated." - Slate

     Radical Islamic extremists wanted to have a united Islamic State under Sharia Law, but many states in the Middle East do not conform to much of Sharia Law, so the extremists formed groups such as Al Qaeda and eventually ISIS in order to fulfill their goal, then they took large portions of Iraq and Syria with sovereignty over these regions, despite not being recognized as a true state. 

Map:
Many states in Africa, especially those found in Subsaharan Africa, were not divided along geopolitically sensical or smart lines, but rather were a result of the Berlin Conference which divided Africa along lines that would lead to the most resource extraction and production. This left the states created after decolonization with very little in common between its different peoples, and a one major goal of nearly every African state has been to create a strong national identity through which they can unite their nation as a single unified population.


Readings:

Lines in the Sand - This article describes how the borders of what makes up the current states of the Middle East were drawn back at the end of WWI during the treaty of Versailles as a way of devolving the Ottoman Empire. It discusses how these borders were drawn with very little regard for any real present factors, as well as displaying a concept created by four researchers who believe that their new map would prove a more stable and safe Middle East.

Texas is Turning Blue and The Republican Party May be on the Verge of Extinction… - This article discusses how the state of Texas, a historically staunch defender of conservative ideals and by extension the Republican party, is slowly becoming more and more liberal and Democrat as areas such as Houston, as well as the suburbs around Houston such as Missouri City, along with many other suburbs, are having nearly 100% of their population growth being dominated by Hispanic and Asian populations, who tend to nearly universally vote Democrat. This is a very large issue, as pointed out in the article, as the state of Texas holds 38 electoral votes due to the United States' system of territorial representation, the largest of all the normally Republican states, leading to it being the linchpin along which the entire Republican nomination resides, meaning that if Texas were to turn blue and vote Democrat, it would be nearly impossible for any Republican candidate to win.

Benedict Anderson, Man Without a Country - This article covers the life and death of Benedict Anderson, whose book "Imagined Communities" discusses how nationalism is not just a method to justify conflict, but also a way for a multinational state to maintain itself by uniting its people under a single group and ideal. Spending much of his life in Indonesia, a large multinational state, Benedict Anderson saw front hand how one's nation is not dictated by where one is born, him being an Anglo-Irish descendant born in Britain's overseas colonies in Asia, as well as being able to observe how nationalism can lead to lots of good as different nations join under one identity.

Gerrymandering Solved - This article discusses how software engineer Brian Olson has produced an algorithm which divides states based on census blocks in an effort to get geographic compactness which will also stop the rampant use of gerrymandering by both parties legislators in an effort to control state legislative bodies. It does run into the issue of creating majority-minority districts, as per the Voting Rights Act, that can equally represent minorities in the state's legislature enough to sway the state's decisions.

Extra Credit:
This is an interesting video that discusses how some citizens in the United States don't believe in US sovereignty over them due to laws which the US has made, which means that while they accept that the US laws apply to the land the US controls, they believe that they do not have to follow them. The video covers why they believe this and how this is a problem for the US.

Crossing the Mexican-American Border, Every Day - This article covers the day to day routine of people like Valeria Padilla, a resident of Juarez, Mexico, who have to travel across the Mexican-American border every day in an effort to get to their school, job, or family, and how the Americans are attempting to make it difficult to get in and out. The American government has made crossing its boundaries difficult in an effort to stem the flow of drugs, guns, and undesirables into the states, and the ramifications of this have had a huge impact on those who attempt to travel in between regularly, as by making it more difficult for this travel to occur, it widens the divide between the groups on both sides, as they lose real contact with each other, allowing for stereotypes and hostility to flourish more than it already has in the region.


Who Owns Jerusalem  - This article discusses how the original Palestinian and Israeli borders were divided from the British controlled Palestine in 1947 by the UN, as well as how the Arab nations refused the 55/45 split between the land that would go to Israeli and Arab populations, as well as the terms that Jerusalem be under neither's full sovereignty. This caused a war to break out that would lead to Israel eventually gaining sovereignty over all of Palestine, as well as all of Jerusalem, despite the fact that the international community at large sees it as contested territory.

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