Articles in News Map
A recent article in Health Affairs by David Kindig and Erika Cheng examined trends in male and female mortality rates from 1992–1996 to 2002–2006 in 3,140 US counties. What they found is a worrisome trend of female mortality on the rise in 42.8% of counties. The situation with male mortality rates is much better, increasing in only 3.4% of counties.
While in Western countries the issue of abortion concerns the legality of pregnancy termination (and it is more generally a women’s rights issue), in Eastern Europe the high rates of abortion present a bigger problem. But not all countries in the former Soviet bloc follow the same trends when it comes to birth control practices.
Transportation issues may not be high on international media’s agenda when it comes to Israel, yet traffic jams are a common occurrence, especially in and around Tel Aviv, while the newly constructed Light Rail system in Jerusalem has been plagued by problems, including failed terrorist attacks, allegations of inappropriate fines imposed by overzealous ticket inspectors, and controversy surrounding competition with the bus company. But two innovations now explored in Israel may change all that and lead to improved transportation, reduced energy consumption, and decrease in air pollution.
In recent weeks, Paris City Council intensified its efforts to enforce an old—and long-overlooked—law that forbids short term apartment rentals in the City of Light, as well as in other French cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants. According to this law, residential properties may be let for a minimum of a year; an exception is made for student-tenants who are allowed to rent apartments for nine months. Because of this law, the short term rental market has remained partially clandestine for many years.
The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Its collections comprise nearly three million items, including imperial porcelain, superb Rembrandts, ancient cameos, Madonnas by Da Vinci, marble sculptures by Canova, colorful paintings by Matisse, and a large numismatic collection. Although the exhibits occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, only a small fraction of its outstanding collection can be displayed at any given time. To make these art works available to as wide a public as possible, the Hermitage has opened several branches abroad, the oldest and largest of which is Hermitage Amsterdam.
International efforts to isolate Iran and force it to halt its uranium enrichment program have seriously damaged the country’s economy: entire industries have been paralyzed, food and fuel prices are skyrocketing, and the local currency is collapsing. But by causing a plunge of the rial, the sanctions have had an unintended and, for Iran, very welcome consequence: a jump in tourism.
As GeoCurrents reported in the past, native peoples of the Russian Far North struggle to fit into the modern global village while retaining their ethnic identity and cultural distinctiveness. In recent days, the situation seems to have rapidly changed for the worse, with Moscow threatening to close an indigenous peoples’ NGO and with the director of the Pomor Institute in Archangelsk being accused of treason.
Unlike the hotly contested presidential elections in the U.S., the general elections held in the Netherlands in September 2012, attracted little media attention. The Dutch elections mostly strengthened the status quo, although some important changes in the balance of powers were effected as well. Like the U.S. and Georgian votes, the Dutch elections were in large measure an informal referendum on the economic situation and foreign policy, specifically on the country’s relations to the EU.
Recent elections in Ukraine largely revolve around relations with Russia. While the parliamentary elections were generally characterized by geopolitical stasis, two details are significant: a continuous growth of the ruling Party of the Regions and a troubling expansion of the vote for the ultra-nationalist Svoboda (“Freedom”) Party.
The parliamentary elections conducted in Georgia in October 2012 became “a referendum on the past eight years” (in the words of The Economist) of President Mikheil “Misha” Saakashvili’s rule. His economic and administrative reforms have turned the former Soviet republic into a showcase where petty corruption has all but vanished, the transport system has been transformed, and the economy is growing fast. Yet, a party led by an eccentric billionaire has won the legislative elections in October 2012.
Lost in the extensive coverage of the 2012 U.S. Election is the recurrent and important issue of Puerto Rico’s relationship to the U.S. On Tuesday, the Puerto Rican electorate appeared to endorse statehood in a two-part non-binding referendum.
While several posts in the main portion of GeoCurrents website deal with the results of the recent U.S. elections, a number of forthcoming news posts will cover recent elections elsewhere in the world. In mid-October, the citizens of Lithuania voted in the national legislative elections, as well as in a special advisory referendum on nuclear power. Energy independence—one of the key topics of the U.S. presidential race—is even more hotly debated in Lithuania.
Efforts are being made worldwide to stop the tide of language endangerment and extinction. One group that has recently made efforts to return to its linguistic roots is Christian Arabs of the Middle East. A campaign is now underway to revive the Aramaic language by teaching it at elementary schools, in Jish (Israel) and Beit Jala (PA).
The Indian state of Bihar has long been noted for its poverty, corruption, and lack of social progress, ranking last in most Indian developmental indicators. But Bihar now has one of India’s fastest growing economies, and its levels of corruption have recently plummeted. Less pronounced gains have also been made over much of northern India. As a result, the impoverished BIMARU region (BIhar, MAdhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh) is now considered to be defunct
As previously noted on GeoCurrents, the political entities that comprise the French Republic exhibit a multitude of different administrative designations with varying legal responsibilities. One such possession is French Polynesia, which was officially designated an “overseas country” in 2004, though legally its status is indistinguishable from that of France’s other overseas collectivities.