For the Global Thinker

Monday, January 31, 2011

Egyptian Crisis in a Global Context

Whatever happens matters a great deal to Egyptians. But only some of these outcomes are significant to the world. Among radical Islamists, the prospect of a radicalized Egypt represents a new lease on life. For Iran, such an outcome would be less pleasing. Iran is now the emerging center of radical Islamism; it would not welcome competition from Egypt, though it may be content with an Islamist Egypt that acts as an Iranian ally (something that would not be easy to ensure).

For the United States, an Islamist Egypt would be a strategic catastrophe. Egypt is the center of gravity in the Arab world. This would not only change the dynamic of the Arab world, it would reverse U.S. strategy since the end of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Sadat’s decision to reverse his alliance with the Soviets and form an alliance with the United States undermined the Soviet position in the Mediterranean and in the Arab world and strengthened the United States immeasurably. The support of Egyptian intelligence after 9/11 was critical in blocking and undermining al Qaeda. Were Egypt to stop that cooperation or become hostile, the U.S. strategy would be severely undermined.

The great loser would be Israel. Israel’s national security has rested on its treaty with Egypt, signed by Menachem Begin with much criticism by the Israeli right. The demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula not only protected Israel’s southern front, it meant that the survival of Israel was no longer at stake.

Read more: The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report | STRATFOR

Astonishing New Photos of Hidden Tribe in the Amazon

Hidden Tribes of the World
There are around 100 uncontacted tribes in the world, Survival International estimates, of which more than half are in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon.
The Brazilian government believes there are around 40 uncontacted tribes within its borders. Another 15 are thought to live in Peru, with a handful of others in Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia. There are further tribes in western Papua, part of Indonesia and north Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal.
David Hill, a Peruvian expert at Survival International, said the main threats to uncontacted tribes are oil exploration and logging.
However, the Brazilian government has now released NEW photos of an Uncontacted tribe in the Amazon. They show a thriving, healthy community with machetes, baskets full of manioc and papaya from their gardens.

See the amazing photos here...

The tribe, which lives near the Peruvian border, is said to be in grave danger from illegal loggers known to be close to its territory. If contact is made, it is likely to result in deaths and the possible extinction of the group.Indian leaders and forest protection groups today appealed to the Peruvian government which has been reluctant to stop the loggers' invasion of their territory. "We are deeply troubled by....

Read more here:


Sunday, January 23, 2011


A documentary of kids in prison around the world. The Brazil, Georgia, and Mongolia stories are especially tragic...
Hidden away in the very darkest corners of countries that would rather not acknowledge their existence, there is an army of children whose voices are never heard. They can be raped, tortured, beaten and murdered by adults who supposedly represent the law, yet enjoy almost total immunity from it. Children are tortured in police custody. They are held in prisons in inhuman and degrading conditions. They are denied the due process which should guarantee them fair trials. They are held for years without charge. They are forgotten by the world that walks past the bars of their existence. With unprecedented and unique access to juvenile prisons around the world, this film looks at the experience of incarceration for juvenile offenders in countries as diverse as the U.S.A. and India, the UK and Brazil.

Watch full documentary here:


Also here is an interview with
prison expert Robert Perkinson. His research focuses on how the dynamics of race, politics, crime, and for-profit prisons have intersected to create a uniquely harsh system that seeks to punish rather than rehabilitate prisoners.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Lost Boys of Sudan; The Long, Long Road to Fargo


"...the temperature in Fargo had dropped to 15 below, with an unwelcoming wind shearing off another 20 degrees. For the three Sudanese boys about to touch down on North Dakota's snowy plains, cold was still a concept without weight. All they knew of it was what they had felt, grasping a bottle of frozen water an aid worker handed them one day during a ''cultural orientation'' session at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, a place where the temperature hovers around 100 degrees. Cold was little more than a word, the same way ''flight'' had been just a word until the moment their cargo plane lifted out of the red dust on Jan. 29, causing their stomachs to lurch as the earth below them -- the sprawl of huts and the dried riverbeds and over a thousand hungry well-wishers lining the airstrip -- tilted and fell away...

It was now nearly 11 p.m., and the airport stood eerily hushed. The wind was hurtling off the prairie, rattling the broad windows, while tendrils of snow snaked across the tarmac. The usual gaggle of briefcase-toters and college kids filed from the gate and then, a head above the rest, came the three brothers -- Peter, Maduk and Riak -- each one long-limbed and lanky, with flashing eyes and dark African skin and wearing a quiet and unreadable expression..."

Read More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/01/magazine/the-lost-boys-of-sudan-the-long-long-long-road-to-fargo.html?pagewanted=1

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Holstee Manifesto

(Click on image to enlarge)

Mexican Drug War Kills 35,000 people in Four years

I was watching news coverage of the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona and all the coverage it received for just 6 dead people. Meanwhile, in the city I'm in (Chihuahua) six people are killed almost everyday. For instance, yesterday a group of armed men walked into a Denny's restaurant with AK-47's and gunned down two people right in the restaurant. Then, this morning I saw the overturned truck above. This was the result of a car chase through the streets of Chihuahua that turned into a gun battle. Cartel members chased this guy with machine guns and well...they finally got him.

And then last week, a prisoner was taken to hospital for a urology exam and his fellow gang members burst into the hospital grabbed a couple of nurses as hostages and used them as human shields as they exchanged fire with the prison guards. The gun battle then emptied out into the streets where it continued with helicopters and the military...luckily only 3 were killed in that incident. Anyway, that's a breakdown of the latest in Chihuahua...not Juarez, but Chihuahua. Main point...shit is crazy down here, but nobody seems to care.

Anyway, here is an article about the latest number of casualties in Mexico's Drug War. Adios, Mike.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Have Scientists Discovered How to Make Rain in the Desert?

For centuries people living in the Middle East have dreamed of turning the sandy desert into land fit for growing crops with fresh water on tap.
Now that holy grail is a step closer after scientists employed by the ruler of Abu Dhabi claim to have generated a series of downpours.
Fifty rainstorms were created last year in the state's eastern Al Ain region using technology designed to control the weather.
Most of the storms were at the height of the summer in July and August when there is no rain at all. People living in Abu Dhabi were baffled by the rainfall which sometimes turned into hail and included gales and lightening.
The scientists have been working secretly for...

Read more here:


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best of Kultura 2010...more or less

Here's a look back at some of the more interesting posts of Kultura in the last year or so...

Here are the TOP 15 in no particular order:

1. A World Enslaved
"There are now more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history."

2. Manipulating the MTV Generation
"Elvis Presley looked like he was around 20. The Beatles were in their early 30s. The rock musicians of the 1960s and 1970s were a little bit older. They weren't peers of 13- and 14-year-olds. Now, the young tend to be presented always and everywhere with what is, in a way, the most seductive thing there is, and that's a mirror. There's a mirror held up to them all the time. It's the mirror as constructed by advertising and TV, but it's the mirror that tells you that you are all there is to be, or you could be, if you bought what we have to sell."

3. How Robot Drones Revolutionized the Face of Warfare
War most certainly will never be the same. In the future, wars will primarily be fought without soldiers on the battlefield. This absolutely fascinating yet, scary documentary is a window into our future.

4. The Great American Road Trip By Paul Theroux

"What made Barstow's billboards a peculiar blight was the contrast with everything that lay around them—the landscape that was so stark and dramatic as a brooding expanse of withered shrubs and fat cactuses, the stony roads that seemed to lead nowhere, the bleak and beautiful backdrop that seemed as though no one had laid a hand on it, with lively colorations at a distance and up close so dry, like a valley of bones looking as though they could not support life. I had seen deserts in Patagonia and Turkmenistan, northern Kenya and Xinjiang in western China; but I had never seen anything like this. The revelation of the Mojave Desert was (peering past the billboards) not just its illusion of emptiness but its assertive power of exclusion, the low bald hills and far-off mountains looking toasted and forbidding under the darkening sky."

5. Icebergs
Excerpt from "Icebergs" By Alistair Morgan

"While I unpacked the picnic basket Melissa stripped down to her bikini and briefly endured the sharp Atlantic water. For a moment, as she trotted back to her towel, she could have been her mother. She had the same springy rust-colored hair and pale skin; I could clearly see the blue highways of veins that transported her mother’s remaining blood along the contours of her spindly legs. It was only in the eyes that Melissa differed greatly from her mother: her mother’s were a life-giving green, whereas Melissa’s were the color of an overcast sky.
We ate some ham-and-cheese rolls and then settled down on our towels. I had brought the newspaper with me and Melissa had her iPod. She placed the headphones over her ears, removed her bikini top, and lay back to gather what sun she could. I hid behind my newspaper."

6. King Justice

King Justice portraits a moment in the life of a musical director of young musicians that have suffered the consequences of the civil war in Sierra Leone.

7. Photojournalist Christian Als
Stunning photo essays from a truly talented photographer. Essays include: the DR Congo, Haiti Earthquake, India Rising, and Kibera.

8. Three Short Films by Ted Chung
Three short films by contemporary director Ted Chung.

9. 1491: The Americas before Columbus

Before Columbus, Dobyns calculated, the Western Hemisphere held ninety to 112 million people (Ten times earlier estimates). Another way of saying this is that in 1491 more people lived in the Americas than in Europe. Almost all scholars now agree that disease had decimated the Indian population. To give you an example, in 1539 the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto ventured into an area around the present-day Texas-Arkansas border. There lived the Caddoan-speaking population.

The Caddoan population fell from about 200,000 to about 8,500—a drop of nearly 96 percent. In the eighteenth century the tally shrank further, to 1,400. An equivalent loss today in the population of New York City would reduce it to 56,000—not enough to fill Yankee Stadium. "That's one reason whites think of Indians as nomadic hunters," says Russell Thornton, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. "Everything else—all the heavily populated urbanized societies—was wiped out." Lacking immunity, the Indians died by the millions, reducing their numbers to a tenth of their previous population by 1800, in the greatest demographic catastrophe in global history.

10. A Simple Case
A wonderful tale from Nigeria.

11. Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness
This six part series on philosophy is presented by popular British philosopher Alain de Botton, featuring six thinkers who have influenced history, and their ideas about the pursuit of the happy life.

12. Guns, Germs and Steel
Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Jared Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.

Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet? Why didn’t the Chinese, or the Inca, become masters of the globe instead? Why did cities first evolve in the Middle East? Why did farming never emerge in Australia? And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?

13. Mao's Great Leap Forward Killed 45 Million in Four Years

Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history – which has until now remained hidden – has international resonance. "It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.... It was like [the Cambodian communist dictator] Pol Pot's genocide multiplied 20 times over," he said.

14. 6,557 Miles to Nowhere

Death is part of life. Generally, it’s the shortest part of life, usually occurring near the end. However, this is not necessarily true for rock stars; sometimes rock stars don’t start living until they die. I want to understand why that is. I want to find out why the greatest career move any musician can make is to stop breathing. I want to find out why plane crashes and drug overdoses and shotgun suicides turn longhaired guitar players into messianic prophets. I want to walk the blood-soaked streets of rock’n’roll and chat with the survivors as they writhe in the gutter. This is my quest. Now, to do this, I will need a rental car...

15. My Brother's War, From Vienna to Beirut and Tokyo Up/Down

Turn on your favorite lounge music and watch these babies full screen.