Category Archives: Optional Readings

Slums and High Rises in India

A couple of weeks ago, the online magazine Slate had an interesting story that’s relevant to our discussion of Q&A. Although India has been well known for having enormous slums full of the desperately poor, they are attempting, at least here and there, to change that image. But whether they’re changing the reality is an open question.

The Mumbai slum redevelopment policy is the brainchild of local starchitect Hafeez Contractor, who is not coincidentally the designer of Imperial Towers. “I used to always say something should be done about the slums. And I always used to say that the best way of [dealing with] slums was that you give them free houses, keep the land, and build on it and make money,” Contractor told me when we met in his office near the Mumbai stock exchange. “When I first told them in 1982 … everybody said I am crazy. Today, they are implementing it.”

The program doesn’t rent the apartments to the residents of these slums, it gives it to them; they own it. However:

But because the policy calls for rehousing the poor without doing anything to raise their incomes, many end up unable to pay for utilities or contribute to the upkeep of the buildings through residents’ association dues.

There’s much to blog about here, if you read the whole thing.

“Triage” Links

Doctor_James_Orbinski_Toronto_2009Dr. James Orbinski’s book is called An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action for the Twenty-First Century.

Here is the website for Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières. It’s pretty fascinating, and includes lots of videos from doctors working in the field.

Here they are on Twitter.

Interestingly, Hurricane Sandy triggered the first-ever DWB/MSF relief effort within the United States.

More Rwanda Links

Here are the links I was talking about in class. Here is Fergal Keane’s BBC report about the Nyarubuye massacre. And here is the story of Gitera Rwamuhuzi, who took part in the attacks. Also, you may recall that in Hotel Rwanda, when Paul is on the phone with the owner of the hotel, he says that the French arm and support the Hutu government. Well, here is a story from 2006 that discusses the subsequent breakdown between France and Rwanda. Oh, and here’s the reference to Plato’s “Leontius,” which Gourevitch made in the excerpt we read.

CNN’s “Freedom Project”

CNN has started a new project they are calling the “Freedom Project,” dedicated to “modern day slavery” around the world. Here’s Tony Maddox, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of CNN International, discussing the problem and his network’s new endeavor:

Obviously there is no precise figure, but the International Labor Organization and respected abolitionists like Kevin Bales and Siddharth Kara put the global number of slaves at between 10-30 million worldwide. At a minimum, 10 million.

[…] CNN will use the full range of our international resources to track and champion this story. We will be in the countries where people are abducted, traded and passed into the hands of the smugglers. We will follow the routes as people are ruthlessly moved to areas where they can generate the highest return on investment. And we will be at the end of the line where men, women and boys and girls are over-worked, raped and abused, and when no longer of value, discarded.

At the very least, it’s an interesting project worthy of some attention in World Humanities. I’ve added it under the sidebar links for “Good Works.” Take a look.

More on Sierra Leone

Two links courtesy of World Humanities students:

CNN spoke to Ishmael Beah this week. Here’s the interview. Thanks to Patrick for this one.

The Gazette profiles Cedar Rapids’ resident Josh Carew. Born in Sierra Leone, he is now returning there… to run for president. Thanks to Zack for bringing this story in.

World News of the Morning

The biggest world news of the morning might be this: Turkey has approved military action across the border into Syria.

At the Daily Beast, Hussein Ibish discusses blasphemy laws in the Middle East. This time, the discussion is sparked by developments in Egypt, where two Coptic Christian children have been arrested for “insulting religion.”

Pres. Obama Addresses U. N. Assembly

This morning, President Obama addressed the United Nations. He began his speech by talking about Ambassador Chris Stevens. The New York Times analysis is here.

Attacks in Libya, cont.

Today on Slate, Abby Ohlheiser explains the religious sect known as Coptic Christians. If you’d never heard that term before this week, you might be interested to read her short piece.

And a map posted at The Atlantic tracks today’s protests around the Middle East.

Attacks in Libya

Here are some links that might guide people toward some further answers to the questions we asked yesterday. Please note that some of these include video; if you’re going to watch them in the lab, please use headphones. Do also remember that not only is the YouTube video in question offensive to many in the Middle East, it is likely offensive to many here in the U.S.

Finally: Remember that this story is still developing, so you should be careful to consider what in these stories is fact, what is speculation, and what is opinion.

Okay, on to the links:

Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made the case that the attack itself was unlikely to be the result of a protest gone out of control, and that it was more likely a planned attack in retaliation for the US killing of al-Qaida’s #2 man (it’s long and complicated). The BBC suggests it might be another group, Ansar al-Sharia.

Dave Weigel of Slate gives some details regarding the still-murky origins of the offending video. Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic has been working on this as well.

Weigel also provides a link to the story we touched on from 2006, when the Danish cartoon controversy broke out.

Finally (for now), Goldberg also had a thoughtful take on blasphemy laws and freedom of speech.

UPDATE, 9/13/12: Again, via Jeffrey Goldberg, the AP is reporting that the initially-reported identity of the filmmaker is almost certainly fake, and that the actual filmmaker may be a Coptic Christian, rather than Israeli.

And the photo above is one from a series of powerful images posted by the Atlantic Wire.