Egypt’s Nile River Delta Is Sinking Into the Sea

Found Here:


Why the Sunni-Shia Split?

Why the Sunni-Shia Split?

January 3, 2016 by George G. Coe



Saudi Arabia just executed 47 prisoners, including a renowned Shi’a cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who was a fervent critic of the Saudi royal family. Iran, a Shia country, condemned the execution and Iranians overran the Saudi embassy and set it on fire. According to the Washington Post, “Shiites around the world expressed outrage, potentially complicating a surge of U.S. diplomacy aimed at bringing peace to the region.” This might be a good time to review with students the differences between Sunnis and Shias.


Two branches of Islam developed after the death of the prophet Muhammad.  Shias, who represent the smallest group of Muslims, believe that the successor to the Prophet had to be related to Muhammad. According to this excellent BBC story, “the Shia claimed the right of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and his descendants to lead the Islamic community.”


The Sunnis, the largest group of Muslims, do not agree. As NPR notes in this excellent story about the origins of the split, “Sunnis believed that leadership should fall to the person who was deemed by the elite of the community to be best able to lead the community.” Sunnis represent the vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East and beyond.  According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Iran is the largest Shia country but Iraq and Bahrain also have a Shiite majority.


Highways Destroyed America’s Cities feedly

Highways Destroyed America’s Cities
// The Atlantic

[] No Papers No Fear/Flickr

America loves its freeways. After the 1956 Federal Highway Bill created the pathway for a 41,000 mile interstate highway system, states and cities jockeyed for the funding to build ever-more extensive networks of pavement that could carry Americans quickly between cities. Sometimes, they built these highways right in the middle of cities, displacing communities and razing old buildings and homes.

“This was a program which the twenty-first century will almost certainly judge to have had more influence on the shape and development of American cities, the distribution of population within metropolitan areas and across the nation as a whole, the location of industry and various kinds of employment opportunities,” Daniel Moynihan wrote in 1970 about the federal program that built these thousands of miles of highways.

But highways also created problems, some of which have become much worse in the years since. Urban freeways displaced communities and created air and noise pollution in downtown areas. They made it easier for suburban commuters to “zip to their suburban homes at the end of the work day, encouraging those with means to abandon the urban core,” Ted Shelton and Amanda Gann of the University of Tennessee wrote in a paper about urban freeways. They also encouraged a reliance on cars that has led to the traffic problems and commuting woes that are motivating a return to city cores.

“Where urban highway construction did occur, in urban design terms, it was highly detrimental to the urban fabric; creating physical and psychological rifts that are extremely difficult to bridge and introducing a substantial source of noise and air pollution,” Shelton and Gann wrote. “Cities across the country continue to struggle with this legacy.”

[] The Central Artery in Boston, top photo, was torn down to make the Rose Kennedy Greenway and other parks in Boston, below photo (Michael Dwyer/AP).

As some of the highways reach the end of their useful life, cities and counties are debating the idea of tearing down urban freeways and replacing them with boulevards, streets, and new neighborhoods. Though it might sound like a headache, tearing down freeways in city centers can reduce air pollution and create parks and public spaces that bring cities together, according to Shelton.

“The removal of urban interstates is a growing trend in the U.S.,” Shelton and Gann wrote. This trend, if carried to its logical extreme, can yield sites of intervention that hold the promise of remaking the American city.”

In Birmingham, for example planners want to see sections of I-20/59 replaced (though the state’s Dept of Transportation has different ideas). Many people in Buffalo, NY want to see the city’s Skyway torn down, and the Austin, Texas, city government has supported a resolution to submerge parts of I-35 and reconnect portions of city. Other urban highways potentially on the chopping block: the Aetna Viaduct in Hartford, Connecticut; Route 29 in Trenton, New Jersey; and Nashville’s downtown loop.

Some cities have already completed freeway teardowns. Boston, for instance, got rid of sections of I-93 as part of the Big Dig, putting parts of the freeway underground and creating more than 45 parks and public plazas. Voters rejected a plan to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco in 1986, but then the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the highway, leading to its teardown anyway, a construction project that made the San Francisco waterfront more pedestrian-friendly. Milwaukee demolished the Park East freeway in 1999 and urban development has blossomed in the neighborhoods created by the highway’s removal. Manpower Corporation moved its headquarters to the area, and the average assessed land value there grew 45 percent.

It’s an important lesson for some of the nation’s most economically depressed cities, which are considering urban freeway removal projects as a means of economic development. New Haven, for instance, is in the midst of a project called Downtown Crossing, which has removed parts of Route 34 and is putting up new buildings in an area of town bisected by the freeway. The photos below show models of what the area looks like now, and what it will look like when the project is completed.

[] Downtown Crossing in New Haven, present day and planned. (City Plan Dept/ New Haven)

When the city put in Route 34 in the 1950s, it relocated 881 households and 350 businesses. It’s now hoping to bring businesses and residents back to the area. Already, the city is erecting a 425,000 square foot lab and office building, and Alexion Pharmaceuticals is in the process of building its new headquarters in the middle of this space, which will bring 1,000 jobs to the area.

“The goal of urban vitality and economic viability can be approached by utilizing portions of the right-of-way, from removing a major physical and visual barrier, to create development sites for mixed-use opportunities that will potentially improve the economy, increase tax revenues, and create new jobs,” the city wrote in its application for a federal grant.

Syracuse, New York, which has the highest concentration of black and Hispanic poverty in the country, is also debating a highway teardown. The highway I-81 bisected the city when it was completed in the 1960s, but has reached the end of its useful life, according to state Department of Transportation. The region is considering a number of options. Suburban residents and business owners want to see the elevated portions of the highway expanded or rebuilt. New Urbanists want the highway torn down and a boulevard constructed in a way that could encourage the development of pedestrian-friendly businesses and parks.

And the people that live near the highway? They just want to make sure that even if whatever happens next leads to large-scale changes in the city, they won’t be displaced like those who were their neighbors long ago.





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A Deadly Landslide in Myanmar

A Deadly Landslide in Myanmar
// The Atlantic

[] Hand-pickers walk as they search for jade through rubble dumped by mining companies in Hpakant in 2013. Minzayar Minzayar / Reuters

At least 90 people were killed in a landslide near a jade mine in northern Myanmar in the early hours of Saturday.

The victims were reportedly searching through a pile of waste material in Hpakant, looking for pieces of jade to sell, when it collapsed, burying them, the BBC reported. Nearly 100 remain missing, and volunteers, police, and others searched for more victims in the rubble on Sunday.

The mountain of soil, discarded by a mining company, was about 200 feet tall, according to The Global New Light Of Myanmar, an English-language newspaper in the country. The landslide buried 70 huts, in which miners were sleeping.

Local resident Seng Mai told The Wall Street Journal that he watched as rescue teams dug bodies from the heap and transported them to the town’s morgue.

“Local people are helping to pull the bodies out and also to bring the villagers away from the landslide area,” he said. “There has been a huge number of deaths.”

Hpakant is located in the state of Kachin, which is home to some of the highest-quality jade in the world, according to Global Witness, an advocacy group. The region produced $31 billion worth of jade in 2014—the equivalent of almost half the GDP of Myanmar—“but hardly any of the money is reaching ordinary people or state coffers,” and is managed by the country’s elites and companies, the group said in a report released last month.

The Associated Press’s Esther Htusan describes how the jade mining industry has changed Hpakant in particular:

After Myanmar’s former military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government five years ago, resulting in the lifting of many Western sanctions, the already rapid pace of mining turned frenetic. No scrap of ground, no part of daily life in Hpakant is left untouched by the fleets of giant yellow trucks and backhoes that have sliced apart mountains and denuded once-plush landscape.

In the last year, dozens of small-scale miners have been maimed or lost their lives picking through tailing dumps.

Myanmar’s jade industry is poorly regulated, and in Kachin, often complicated by the government’s decades-old battle against the Kachin Independence Army, a rebel force that seeks independence for the Christian minority in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Interactive Map –


Found here:, an interactive site that lets you explore the peopling of our planet from multiple perspectives – historical, environmental, social and political. It is about the 2,000-year journey of human civilization and the possible paths ahead to the middle of this century.

The genesis of this project was World Population, a simple, yet powerful, video animation of “dots on a map” representing population changes through time. First produced by Population Connection (Zero Population Growth at that time) over 40 years ago, the video became a popular teaching resource. This spawned new editions that have been viewed in classrooms, museums and boardrooms worldwide. The new 2015 version is viewable here in six languages and contains the latest population projections.

But, what if, you could go beyond the video animation to discover more about the trends that have shaped population growth? What if you could zoom into the population map to learn more about the places illuminated by dots? What if you could select different overlays for the map to see the impacts of human lifestyles over time? What if you could then join an online conversation about what you’ve learned? We thought that would be really cool, so we created

6 Great YouTube Channels That Will Make You Smarter

CGP Grey – Complex Things Explained

How to Adult – Everything that school didn’t teach you

National Geographic – Inspiring people to care about the planet!

Youtube EDU – some of the most popular educational videos across YouTube

Thnkr – extraordinary access to the people, stories, and ideas changing the world

Mental Floss – weekly series of trivia-tastic information

2014 Crash Course: The History of a Year

Merely a selection of sources.
Yours to use for writing, teaching, etc.


Top Sources for Review:

  1. What America was tweeting about in 2014, & Echelon Insights

  2. By the Numbers: How the World Changed in 2014, The Atlantic

  3. The 2014 Year in Review,

  4. 10 Most Important Environmental Stories of 2014, Earth Island Journal

  5. Eleven Stunning Graphs from 2014 That You Should See,

  6. 17 Things We Learned About Income Inequality in 2014, The Atlantic

  7. The Best Longreads of 2014, Various Authors

  8. 2014 The Year in Pictures, The New York Times

  9. (Photo Gallery) 2014: The Year in Protest,

  10.  (Charts) The Year in Management Told in 20 Charts, Harvard Business Review

Lists by Publisher:

The Kicker 2014 Year in 10,

The Very Best Mashable Reads of 2014,

Best Books of 2014: Editors’ Picks, Council on Foreign Relations & various sources

14 Must Reads of 2014, Council on Foreign Relations & various sources

The Best of 2014, Foreign Affairs Editors

Most Popular Features and Essays of 2014,

(Comic) 2014 in Review, This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow

Part 1:
Part 2:

10 Must-Read Reddit AMAs of 2014,

Notable Articles:

The Torture Report, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

14 From ’14: Quick Takes on the Midterm Elections, University of Virginia Center for Politics

All We Need is the Will to Change, The Atlantic

The Fortune Global 500 Isn’t All That Global, Harvard Business Review

Investment Management Director Offers Top 10 Lessons Learned in 2014, Above the Law

Megan Smith Thinks Every Child Should Be Able to Code, The Atlantic

Why This War?,

1914: Archduke Francis Ferdinand Fatally Shot in Sarajevo


From The New York Herald, European Edition, June 29, 1914:

Consternation was created throughout the Courts of Europe by the news, flashed across the wires yesterday [June 28] afternoon, that Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, and the Duchess of Hohenberg, his morganatic wife, had been assassinated in the streets of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.

Two separate attempts were made on the life of the Archduke and his wife. A bomb was thrown as they were driving to the town hall, but the Archduke caught the missile and threw it on to the road behind his automobile, where it exploded in front of another auto. With magnificent courage, the Archduke, after ascertaining the result of the explosion, insisted on continuing on his journey to the town hall, where the official reception took place.

The ceremony at the town hall was marked by an extraordinary scene, the Archduke severely reproving the Burgomaster for the bomb-throwing in his town.

The Archduke made a feeble effort to clasp his wife in his arms, and they sank together to the floor of the automobile in a last embrace.
It was on the return from the town hall that the assassination took place. The Imperial automobile was passing through an open space at the corner of the Appel Quay when a student stepped out of the crowd and fired point-blank with an automatic pistol at the Archduke and his consort.

The first shot struck the Archduke in the head. The Duchess rose in the automobile to protect him, and received the assassin’s second shot in the breast and fell forward across her husband’s knees. The Archduke made a feeble effort to clasp his wife in his arms, and they sank together to the floor of the automobile in a last embrace. They died almost simultaneously, without regaining consciousness.

The assassin, a young Servian student, named Prinzip, was arrested.

Full article here: