Inflammation and stories on events

Louder Together: A Festival for ChangeEvery year, the Global Citizen Festival blends advocacy and entertainment in New York City and Mumbai. In order for one to get tickets to the festival, they must “earn their tickets after taking a series of actions to effect change around the world,” which is tracked through an app. Once a person has earned enough points through actions that benefit world issues, they are then entered into a drawing to win tickets to the festival. The festival partners with organizations like UNICEF, Rainforest Alliance, World Food Programme and many more.

This year, Comlpex Networks and Global Citizen released a documentary called Louder Together: A Global Citizen Documentary; New York to Mumbai, which features footage from the festival’s locations in New York and Mumbai from 2016. The film focuses on the mission of the festival as well as interviews with performers. Hugh Jackman is the narrator (and also an executive producer) for the documentary, which features artists like Coldplay and Rihanna.

Louder Together delves into how Global Citizen was able to take its festival from Central Park all the way to Mumbai, a city on the other side of the globe. People from India can be seen in the trailer discussing how this event can help change the minds of young people, which in turn changes the country.

The CEO of Global Citizen, Hugh Evans, poignantly remarked that the festival “transformed their cities into arenas of advocacy in the fight to end extreme poverty.” This festival brought people from all walks of life and from all over the world to become louder together about issues that affect them. Global Citizen has only existed for six years, but it continues to grow, as evidenced by its expansion into new countries, cultures and medias.

Louder Together is being streamed for free on Go90, a streaming service. The documentary is a great way for people to learn about the causes that Global Citizen advocates for, as well as how the arts can be used to both entertain and educate people. Louder Together is a shining example of the way citizens and celebrities can come together to help change the world.

Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr

Young Innovators Help Leaders at Global Innovations Summit
To innovate is to, “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products,” according to Young innovators are bringing a whole new dose of innovation to the world.

When it comes to alleviating poverty, there is no shortage in the need for innovation. Various governments, institutions and organizations are constantly searching for new methods to reduce the global issues that both cause and perpetuate poverty.

On Nov. 9-10, UNICEF and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland met for their Global Innovations Summit. Leaders, CEOs and young innovators met to discuss ideas to get products to those who most need them.

During the two-day event, people discussed what the future looks like and ways to expand success. Overall, the goals of the summit were to:

  • Raise awareness of the potential impact innovation can have on improving children’s lives and realizing their rights
  • Create new partnerships to advance and scale up innovative solutions for children
  • Activate support from partners to help amplify proven, high-impact innovations for children worldwide
  • Develop new localized innovations that will help lift children out of poverty

One of the unique parts of this summit was the inclusion of young innovators. Included as key speakers, children and youth were able to present what they have come up with to better their own circumstances in poverty.

Vandy, a twenty-year-old from Sierra Leone, gained inspiration to get involved with innovation because of outside influence.

At the summit he said, “I got inspired to get involved in innovation by my mentor David Sengeh, a PHD student at MIT. In terms of addressing the electricity challenge in my community I got inspired by a young Kenyan who built a windmill device that completely solved the challenge of no electricity in his village.”

Through the stories and ideas of the young innovators, leaders gained a better insight into what the future generations need to be successful.

These youth are working to change their own situation, showing the power of letting them aid in finding solutions.

Another of the young innovators, Altin from Kosava, provided advice to other young people considering getting involved.

“I don’t want to sound like a philosopher…giving up is easy, it’s easy to have a normal life and just do what everybody else is doing, but fighting for what we believe in is what keeps us alive as individuals. We might start alone, but sooner or later a good cause will always bring good people together.”

Katherine Martin

Sources: Dictionary, Digital Trends, Voice of Youth
Photo: Flickr

Hugh Evans, CEO and co-founder of the Global Poverty Project, received the Humanitarian Award at the 12th annual Billboard Touring Awards on November 19 for his efforts to end extreme poverty.

The award show was established in 2004 and is  sponsored by Billboard Magazine to honor the top entertainment artists and professionals, as well as recognize box office and entertainment achievements.

The Billboard Touring Awards honor the industry’s top achievers in categories including Top Festival, Top Arena, Top Manager and Top Comedy Tour.

Founded in 2008, the Global Poverty Project aims to connect everyone around the world using social media to express the need to end extreme poverty.

By joining the conversation, the Global Poverty Project believes it can grab the attention of government, businesses and NGO’s to restructure the systems and policies that are trapping people into poverty worldwide.

The Global Poverty Project began hosting the Global Citizens Festival in 2012 with the slogan, “We Are Not A Generation Of Bystanders.”

The annual festival in New York City brings both musicians and activists together and urges world leaders to make more contributions toward ending extreme poverty. Since launching the festival, the event has helped secure $1.3 billion commitments to help end extreme poverty.

“In an industry filled with people who are dedicated to helping others through the power of music, Hugh Evans stands out for his ability to rally both artists and executives around the common cause of ending global poverty,” said Ray Waddell, executive director of Content & Programming for Touring & Live Entertainment at Billboard.

This past year, a crowd of 60,000 people filled Central Park with live performances from Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Pearl Jam. High-profile leaders and activists including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Hugh Jackman, Bill Gates and members of the UN General Assembly were also in attendance.

Through combined efforts, the European Commission closed the festival by pledging $530 million dollars to aid the Syrian refugee crisis.

As the Global Poverty Project continues to gain activists, Evans shows the world that extreme poverty can end by 2030. “No movement is about an individual,” said Evans of his organization’s mission. “It’s about an amazing group of people coming together from different backgrounds.”

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Billboard, Global Citizens
Photo: Flickr

H&M is known for providing fashionable and affordable styles for men, women and children. However, the Swedish clothing store chain also does its part to promote sustainability across the world. That’s right – H&M knows how to make fashion sustainable.

A proud partner of the Global Poverty Project, H&M is dedicated to supporting the mission to end extreme global poverty and building sustainable lives for people around the world.

By default, H&M is also in a partnership with Global Citizen, the online platform for the Global Poverty Project that provides crucial information about ongoing problems in the world and actions global citizens can take to eliminate them.

Most recently, H&M and Global Citizen have launched an exclusive t-shirt line to promote the Global Citizen Festival this fall. Musicians Coldplay and Ed Sheeran also contributed to the designs to show their support for the fight against global poverty. Coldplay and Sheeran will also perform at the Global Citizen Festival on September 26th.

Each shirt has a design unique to the musician and is made entirely of sustainable materials. At $9.95, the shirts are on sale at all H&M locations in the U.S. and 25 percent of the proceeds go to Global Citizen.

Furthermore, H&M encourages customers to donate gently used clothing to be recycled. Donation stations are located in every H&M store nationwide until Sept. 17, in a box that advertises the Festival.

Tickets for the Festival are free of monetary charge. Instead, guests must earn their tickets by taking actions against poverty. For every customer that purchases a t-shirt or donates clothing, H&M will provide them with the opportunity to earn free tickets.

Sheeran expressed his excitement to work alongside H&M and Global Citizen to create a shirt that fights back against poverty, uniting people to take meaningful action. T-shirts and fashion are no longer all about style; fashion is now also about taking sustainable steps towards a positive future.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: PR News Wire, Global Citizen 1, Global Citizen 2
Photo: Google Images

aspen ideas festival
ASPEN, Colorado – Celebrating its tenth anniversary this summer, the week-long Aspen Ideas Festival brought together some of the most influential leaders from around the world to speak and present to audiences. The thought-provoking festival is organized by the Aspen Institute, an educational policy studies organization that aims to foster leadership based on lasting values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for tackling critical issues.

Held in Aspen, Colorado, the annual ideas exchange hosted seminars, panels and discussions from an array of presenters composed of innovators, politicians, artists, writers, diplomats, scientists, entrepreneurs and more. Notable figures at this year’s festival included Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Tony Blair and David Petraeus, all four of who participated in the Afternoon of Conversation, an event that constitutes the halfway mark of the festival and features high-profile leaders who discuss solutions to today’s most critical issues.

This year’s theme was imagining 2024, and thinkers from all over the U.S. and abroad gathered to surmise what innovations the next decade might bring. Topics of debate and discussion encompassed future megacities, urban America in 2024, the shifting world of work in a networked economy, the fate of our forests, national security in 2024, fracking, the revolutions of the Middle East, the economics of happiness and a new cold war with Russia.

Showcasing the wide variety of topics covered, Harvard University President Drew Faust talked about the development of higher education in a digital environment while The Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet debated the ethics of genetically modifying embryos. At other discussions, College Board President David Coleman questioned the SAT and college preparation testing methods and former U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell pondered with audiences on how to counter the foreign cyber attack threat on U.S. corporations.

Years ago, the Aspen Institute envisaged a gathering of leaders from myriad backgrounds and specializations to discuss the issues of the day and come up with innovative solutions, citing the potential and power that comes from a forum where leaders, innovators and citizens alike debate and discuss global and societal issues. This vision culminated in the first Aspen Ideas Festival in 2005, which featured such prominent speakers as Jane Goodall and Toni Morrison, whose ranks have been joined by key figures like Bill Gates and Sandra Day O’Conner since that first festival.

The 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival took place from June 24 to July 3. The festival’s events were streamed live throughout the festival on The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and the festival website, the last of which also archives videos and audio from past AIF events.

— Annie Jung

Sources: Aspen Ideas Festival, The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute
Photo: TIME Magazine

The World Cup truly defines the idea of international competition. With the current 2014 World Cup only two weeks in, the viewership of clips, games, advertisements and the like are higher than any other international competition. According to, people have watched over 1.2 billion minutes of World Cup-affiliated advertisements, which is four times more views than the 2014 Super Bowl ads received.

FIFA research supports this, demonstrating numbers from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Over 3.2 billion people tuned in for at least one minute of the games, compared to 900 million that tuned into the Olympics Opening Ceremony, which is the most highly watched portion of the event.

3.2 billion people represents a large demographic of the world, many of whom represent developing countries. The World Cup represents the level of accessibility isolated countries have to opportunities even to just watch a game. There is a level of danger to watching games in some countries such as the 48 people who died in Kenya at a viewing party, but the dedication to their countries trumps their socio-economic status.

Few events draw the attention of billions, however the World Cup bonds nations. The U.S. typically has a low viewership rate of Major League Soccer in comparison to the NBA, NFL and NHL views.

The Miami Herald reported that 15.9 million Americans tuned into ESPN and Univision to watch the U.S. versus Ghana game, which is the second highest recorded viewership for a World Cup match in the U.S. It pales only to the U.S. versus England match of 2010 which held 17.1 million viewers. Trumping this, are the 18.2 million people who tuned in to watch the U.S. and Portugal battle it out, according to CNN Money.

The possible reason for this is the higher number of countries filming and reporting on the event, with 48 countries present and 34 ultra-high definition cameras watching from all angles. The more access countries have to the games, the more people who will flock to small businesses who play the games for those without home access.

Many of the countries competing represent developing countries, such as Colombia, Uruguay, Nigeria, Ghana and many others. These countries typically have low participation and success in other international competitions such as the Olympics, so they find their nationalism and support in the World Cup due to the accessibility and commonality of soccer.

The number of people tuning to watch their home countries fight for international competitive prestige shows that even in times of turmoil and struggle, nations can be united through watching a small, fuzzy screen of their teams playing everyone’s favorite sport.

— Elena Lopez

Sources: CNN, Latin Post, Miami Herald, Reuters
Photo: Zap 2 It

North Korea, a state that has a notorious reputation for its secretive, alarming and militaristic demeanor, is at it again. After momentarily stepping down after having alarmed the international community with threats of nuclear testing in February 2013, the regime has once again avowed its intent to initiate an onslaught of nuclear testing despite ongoing suspicion that the state is erecting a nuclear arsenal.

According to a local North Korean newspaper, the state is simply taking protective measures against potential threats to its independence waged by the U.S. and neighboring South Korea. North Korea‘s decision to revitalize its nuclear testing programs is another method in which the state has demonstrated its military competence in order to establish itself as a global militaristic threat and power.

This wager comes fresh off of the United Nations‘ sanctions against North Korea for launching a set of short-range missiles in March, eerily chosen to occur on the fourth anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean ship. According to the Security Council, the regime’s decision to launch the short-range missiles violated significant UN agreements. According to the South Korean defense ministry’s spokesperson, Kim Min-seok, “This missile is capable of hitting not only most of Japan but also Russia and China.” Therefore, the missiles also pose a grave threat towards the well-being of residents in neighboring states — a threat that has not been taken lightly.

Despite North Korea’s recalcitrance, South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, issued a message to the state warning that the sheer economic cost of maintaining an effective nuclear testing program may in fact endanger the longevity of the state. While the economic cost of nuclear-building is in itself an obstacle for North Korea, Yun also avows that South Korea and its alliances in the Security Council will further aggravate the regime’s ability to conduct nuclear testing. For instance, Yun affirmed that “South Korea, together with its partners in the Security Council, will make the cost of having these nuclear weapons very very high, very very heavy, so that could backfire to the regime — the survival of the regime.”

Furthermore, the foreign minister threatened that if North Korea continues to defy present and future sanctions, the regime would have to face substantial retribution from the UN. Therefore, not only will the regime’s nuclear testing program come as a direct economic threat to its government and people, it is also fraught with the potential to break the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — an international agreement that strives to maintain nuclear peace. It is especially alarming that North Korea has already withdrawn from this crucial peace-keeping treaty, indicating its resistance to upholding its once-alleged commitment to the diplomatic use of nuclear technology.

However, Yun’s intentions are not only aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear testing wagers, but also to facilitate the reunification of Korea,  a process which the foreign minister recognizes as arduous and delicate. The notion here is that the reunification of North and South Korea will help stabilize Asia and engender a long unseen sense of trust among the Asian nations. It is presumed that global peace is unattainable without first having attained global trust.

Furthermore, the foreign minister elaborates: “The geopolitical plate of the region is going through what I would call tectonic shifts. We are witnessing a rising China, a resurgent Japan, an assertive Russia and an anachronistic North Korea which is simultaneously pursuing nuclear weapons and economic development.” Therefore, in order for any cohesion to be established among these changing nations, the development of trust is imperative.

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: ABC News, BBC, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr

On April 18, 2014, an avalanche on Mount Everest tumbled down upon the nearby Everest Base Camp—at the altitude of 1,900 feet above sea level—killing 16 Nepalese guides. The victims of the deadliest accident on Mt. Everest ever recorded were mainly Sherpa mountain guides.

After Tenzing Norgay helped Sir Edmund Hillary reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, this ethnic group came to be associated—at least in mainstream Western imagination—with expeditionary mountaineering. In fact, more than half a decade after Norgay, many Sherpas still make their living from this perilous occupation. As part of their tasks, Sherpa guides often embark on 20-25 round trips carrying climbing kit and supplies to base camps closer to the summit. This physically demanding and dangerous activity exposes those working in this tourism sector to great risks.

Historically, people living along the Himalayan ranges used to make their living carrying goods between Nepal and Tibet and exchanging them for wheat and sugar. Although Sherpa guides recognize that they are working in an immensely dangerous job, they also admit that work in other sectors are difficult to come by. Despite that not a year goes by without at least one death; in a country where the average annual income is $700 USD, an opportunity to make up to $5,000 USD in three months is indeed hard to turn down. Furthermore, an expedition to the summit may cost up to $90,000 USD for those wishing to undertake it.

Thus, despite the inevitable dangers that multiple journeys up Mount Everest entail, many find it an indeclinable chance to quickly earn a living. The Sherpas, once among Nepal’s poorest communities, have been benefiting from visitors to the world’s highest peak. Tourism has allowed this once isolated ethnic community to form their own middle-class. Nevertheless, as trail preparers as well as porters, Sherpa guides face much higher risks than their co-expeditionary clients. Being the first on every journey to scout the trail and having to break the ice and deep snow, to lay ropes and to carry heavy equipment, in case of an accident, the guides are much more likely to bare the brunt of it. Other potential risks include altitude sickness, the lack of oxygen, hypothermia and avalanches.

Tourism—now Nepal’s largest industry as well as a major source of foreign revenue—decidedly has been beneficial for Nepal and the Sherpa community in certain aspects. Many Sherpa families now own trekking companies and only work in well-paid high-altitude expeditions. As for Nepal itself, although tourism attracts more than 700,000 foreign tourists annually—most of whom visit the Himalayan nation for trekking—the country has been dramatically transformed from the remote Himalayan kingdom that Sir Hillary encountered to a republic bustling with tourists on the crossroad of two global economic giants.

As for the Sherpa community, following the tragedy that struck their community, many are demanding better compensation as well as higher insurance payments for the lives lost in the avalanche. The Nepalese government has so far offered only $400 USD to the families of the guides perished in the incident. Nevertheless, is the money earned from trekking worth the risks that frequent trips up the world’s highest mountain pose? Although Mt. Everest’s tourism industry brings much prosperity to the Sherpa community and to Nepal as a whole, the guides have to put their own lives and the livelihood of their families at what would, in “more regular circumstances,” be considered unacceptable risks. $5,000 USD during the climbing season—approximately three months in duration with multiple journeys involving a wide range of dangers and annual fatalities—would certainly not be considered a sufficient remuneration in high-income countries. What then makes the lives of the Sherpa guides less valuable? The exchange rates and the cost of living?

– Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: BBC News, South China Morning Post, Global News, Newser, The Guardian

It is still unclear what exactly happened on Friday, April 11,  in the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita, 125 miles north of Damascus. A number of reports and video clips reveal that the rural village fell victim to a poisonous gas attack which injured a number of people.

This chemical attack occurs in the midst of an ongoing international effort to rid Syria of all of its chemical weapons.

It is yet unknown who attacked the village or how many citizens were injured but a number of reports have come out making claims.

The Syrian National Coalition said that the poisonous gas attack injured dozens of people but did not identify the gas used. They also urged the UN to conduct a “quick investigation into the developments related to the use of poisonous gas against civilians in Syria.”

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights claims that the attack occurred during air raids and reported many people suffering from suffocation and breathing problems.

A Syrian television network blamed the attack on members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front rebel group, saying that chlorine gas was used to kill two citizens and injure more than one hundred.

All of these reports remain unsubstantiated but a number of online videos have also appeared, documenting the aftermath of the attack. One video posted by rebel activists show pale-faced men, women and children gasping for air at a field hospital in Kfar Zeita. Another video showed a hospital room in Kfar Zeita that was packed with women and children crying, some of them wearing oxygen masks.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power notes, “We are trying to run this down. So far it’s unsubstantiated, but we’ve shown, I think, in the past that we will do everything in our power to establish what has happened and then consider possible steps in response.”

The gas attack comes at a time when the international community is attempting to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria once and for all. All chemical weapons are supposed to be removed by June 30th, however the Syrian government continues to miss key deadlines.

– Mollie O’Brien

Sources: The Guardian
Photo: Reuters

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan ordered access to Twitter to be cut off for citizens in the early hours of Friday, March 21st. The shutdown came just a few hours after Erdogan publically threatened to cut off access to the social media platform, calling it a ‘scourge’ and claiming it is being used against him by his political enemies.

Erdogan is currently embroiled in a political scandal which was furthered when an audio clip was anonymously released via Twitter. The tweet contained a link that implicated widespread corruption in Erdogan’s administration. Users that attempted to access Twitter were redirected to a webpage with a statement from the telecommunications regulator in Turkey that cited several court orders for the reason the site was blocked. The court orders from the government asking Twitter to remove the tweets with the incriminating audio clips have gone unanswered by the company.

Twitter, a website widely used by celebrities, also found another use during the Arab Spring. Activists and protestors utilized the social media platform to spread up- to- the- minute information to the world. Twitter provided people who may not have had a voice through official channels or media with a way to tell their story about what was happening in their country. Twitter was used in Turkey last year to spread the word about protests against the government which ended in Erdogan requesting that Twitter establish an office in the country so the company can respond more quickly to the government’s requests. That request also went unanswered.

Twitter is only the one of the social media platforms that the Turkish government has bumped heads with. Facebook, Google and YouTube have all been criticized by Erdogan for their content that is unflattering to him. He has also threatened to extend the ban to these companies and others unless they comply with requests from the Turkish government. With Prime Minister Erdogan threatening to shut down access to these companies ‘no matter what the international community thinks’ it sets up a potentially troubling situation blocking the access for the citizens of Turkey during a time of political unrest.

This situation will continue to evolve in the coming weeks. Whether or not other social media websites will go down or if Twitter will come back online in Turkey remains to be seen. Erdogan seems eager to show power in the face of the international community saying, “The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.”

– Colleen Eckvahl

Sources: NPR, Haaretz
Photo: Amnesty