Kiwanis International Unites Local and Global ActionThink globally, act locally: this sentiment is shared by city planners, activists and businesspeople alike. Worldwide issues can appear so large as to be insurmountable. When a problem’s scale is overwhelming, taking action is a challenge, but small-scale, grassroots actions can make a massive difference over time. The spirit of global thinking and local action is the drive behind Kiwanis International, an international association of clubs that focus on helping children and fighting poverty and disease. The organization’s self-stated mission is to “improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children,” a goal which they pursue through community service projects and fundraising campaigns.

History

In 1914, Allen S. Brown and Joseph C. Prance created The Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers in Detroit, Michigan. This original organization was not focused on community service but on professional networking, a far cry from what it would become. In 1915, the name was changed to Kiwanis, from an Ojibwe expression that the founders translated as “We build,” which is now the organization’s motto. Around the same time, the founders began to pivot toward focusing on community service rather than business. Kiwanis was quick to grow, with chapters soon being formed in Cleveland, Ohio and Hamilton, Ontario. In the 1960s, Kiwanis began to expand outside of North America, and today there are more than 600,000 members in eighty nations and geographic areas.

Youth Activity

Many members of Kiwanis clubs are youth — the overarching Kiwanis organization includes K-Kids for elementary school children, Key Club for high-school students and Circle K International (CKI) for college-aged members, all of which focus on leadership skills and service projects. CKI has an established partnership with UNICEF, raising money for UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project. CKI’s work with WASH focuses on Haiti, and in the past three fiscal years, CKI has raised more than $58,000 for WASH. CKI clubs also do locally-focused projects, like volunteering at food banks to help feed the poor or decorating trash cans in order to discourage littering.

CKI’s work is an excellent demonstration of Kiwanis’ overall strategy: clubs organize their own projects based on local needs, while the larger organization tackles large-scale issues, primarily through fundraising. Kiwanis International recognizes both that individual communities have their own needs and that some problems are global. The organization reports that its clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year.

International Projects

The Kiwanis International website lists winners, runners-up and other submissions for their yearly Signature Project Recognition Program and Contest, which recognizes Kiwanis clubs doing great work around the world. For example, the Kiwanis Club of Bendigo, Australia, has a book box program inspired by low literacy rates in the community. The Kiwanis Club of Taman Sentosa in Malaysia runs the Kiwanis Careheart Centre, which offers vocational training and support services to people with intellectual disabilities.

Other projects are larger in scale, such as Threads Across the Pacific, an initiative financially supported by several Kiwanis clubs from New Zealand. Threads Across the Pacific donates sewing machines and other sewing supplies to women in Vanuatu and trains them in sewing, with the goal of helping them pull themselves out of poverty. Projects like these are still regional and focused on the needs of specific communities, unlike Kiwanis’ organization-wide initiatives, meant to combat large-scale, global issues.

One of the international projects Kiwanis International has worked on concerns maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), MNT has been “among the most common life-threatening consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices,” and in 1988, approximately 787,000 newborns died of neonatal tetanus. In areas with sub-par maternal healthcare, MNT is a serious threat to new mothers and their babies.

In 2010, Kiwanis International partnered with UNICEF in an effort to fight MNT through vaccinations for women and newborns. Kiwanis pledged to raise $110,000,000 for the project, with clubs around the world hosting fundraisers to contribute to the effort. The project involved vaccinations in fifty-nine countries, and as of July 2019, MNT had been eliminated in forty-six of them. In this context, “elimination” is taken to mean that MNT affects fewer than 0.1 percent of births.

Kiwanis International differs from other organizations in its commitment to empower communities to identify local problems and work toward solving them, without losing sight of the bigger picture. After all, who better to identify problems that trouble a community than the people who live in that community? Kiwanis supports grassroots actions by teaching leadership skills and organizational planning to members through online and in-person training. In turn, Kiwanis clubs support the larger initiatives of Kiwanis International to effect change around the world. This approach to nonprofit organizational structure makes has made Kiwanis projects particularly impactful.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Wikipedia

history of the Berlin Blockade
On June 24, 1948, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) cut off land access and power to West Berlin. This act hoped to discredit the U.S. by stranding 2.5 million war-weary people in the American sector without food. American attempts to breach the blockade might have resulted in war, so the Truman Administration circumvented the USSR by airlifting supplies into the city for almost a year. It was a major success. The history of the Berlin Blockade displayed the power of emergency aid and set a precedent for countless American airlift operations.

The Blockade Begins

Following World War II, Germany and Berlin split into Eastern and Western entities. England, France and the U.S. controlled the Western sectors, while the USSR administered the East. Unfortunately, the entire city of Berlin was in East Germany. The Western powers signaled West German autonomy in 1948 by instituting currency reform in their sectors.

The Soviets feared an independent Germany as a threat to its nation’s security. Dr. Armin Grunbacher adds that Soviet leaders wanted to force America to relinquish control of Berlin and discredit them as the Cold War began. The USSR increasingly provoked the West to try and achieve its goals as June 1948 approached. Tensions especially grew during the April Crisis.

A U.S. Army historical report recounts that Soviet provocations led all parties closer to war. On April 5, 1948, a patrolling Soviet jet collided with a British passenger aircraft over Germany and killed everyone on board. The Soviets finally blockaded West Berlin in June 1948, sending American leaders into a panic. Officials questioned if America should risk war with military incursions into Berlin or if there was a better option.

The Airlift

West Berliners desperately required supplies. Residents rationed food, but some still starved. Soviet ration cards enticed 20,000 individuals to go to East Berlin.

President Truman curtailed initial plans by West Germany’s military administrator, General Lucius Clay, to forcefully supply the city with an armed convoy. It was inefficient and could potentially start a major war. Instead, the Truman Administration ordered Clay to gather American transport aircrafts from around the world for an upcoming humanitarian aid operation. General Curtis LeMay ran Operation Vittles and started airlifting 5,000 tons of supplies every day into West Berlin starting on July 1, 1948.

The Airlift’s Success

The U.S. needed to airlift at least 2,000 tons of aid daily to feed everyone. By the end of the airlift, American planes delivered 13,000 tons every day to West Berliners. The breadth of planes utilized and supplies dropped still makes the Berlin Airlift the largest operation of its kind. The success of the aid humiliated the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, and the blockade ended on May 12, 1949.

The U.S. not only saved the lives of millions of people but displayed its immense generosity. Dr. Grunbacher says that the history of the Berlin Blockade showed “the manifested expression of U.S. technical superiority and willingness to defend the ‘Free World.’”

Later Operations

Many airlifts have followed the example of Operation Vittles. A report from the U.S. Air Force accounts for 560 such humanitarian operations between 1947 and 1994. America used emergency assistance to respond to both natural disasters and humanitarian crises in this period.

For example, the 1977 Turkish earthquake killed 3,600 people and left 50,000 homeless. The USAF was quick to respond and airlifted 606 tons of tents, blankets and food to accommodate those affected. The U.S. also participated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide Relief, nicknamed Operation Support Hope. U.S. planes deposited 3,600 tons of supplies at refugee camps in neighboring nations for fleeing Rwandan refugees.

The history of the Berlin Blockade resonated as late as 2014 when the U.S. airlifted food and water to Yazidi Christians trapped on Mt. Sinjar in Iraq. The Islamic State had assaulted surrounding villages in the area and massacred members of the ethnoreligious minority. American intervention bought the Yazidis vital time. More than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of water dropped sustained Yazidis until most escaped the mountain.

The history of the Berlin Blockade displayed the potential for emergency aid to assist millions of people and avoid violent conflict. It also showed that the reputation of the U.S. benefits from humanitarian operations. The precedent set in 1948 spawns new operations every year and it shows no sign of stopping.

– Sean Galli
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

worst earthquakes and the human toll
While the death toll and size of an earthquake can provide logistical data, other factors influence the devastation victims face and the rate they can recover. For communities already struggling, these disasters can be particularly devastating. Ranked below are the 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll of each.

15 Worst Earthquakes

  1. Haiti (2010): At the top of the list of 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll, Haiti suffered an initial 7.0 magnitude quake followed by two aftershocks killing 316,000 people. Due to a lack of adequate reinforcement, buildings across the country crumbled. A loss of power and phone lines interfered with efforts to provide aid. After nine years, Haiti still attempts to repair itself.
  2.  Nepal (2015): After crumbling landmarks and 10-story buildings, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake added landslides and avalanches to its path of destruction. An estimated 9,000 citizens died and 22,000 more suffered injuries. More than 600,000 people lost homes and began facing extreme poverty. However, its government and humanitarian organizations responded quickly. Temporary education centers and shelters helped the displaced, and over the last three years, facilities are recovering.
  3. Sumatra, Indonesia (2004): The 9.1 magnitude disaster in the Indian Ocean produced severe casualties and devastation. The earthquake itself likely killed 1,000 but the tsunami that followed left 227,898 dead or missing. Because of the short time span between the earthquake and tsunami, no one could create separate death tolls. Indonesia had damages of $4.4 million.
  4. Sichuan, China (2008): Whole villages lay flattened after a massive 7.9 quake. Schools and other facilities collapsed, trapping people inside. Estimates determined there were around 90,000 dead, 5,300 of them being children attending class. Buildings injured an estimated 375,000 more citizens and rescue teams attempted to find missing children after the chaos.
  5. Tohoku, Japan (2011): An unfortunate 15,703 deaths occurred after an earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast of Japan. The total economic loss racked up to $309 billion to provide reconstruction and services. A nuclear power plant near Okuma suffered damages to its reactors, causing a radiation leak. Thanks to evacuation efforts, the leak did not harm anyone. Several fires occurred after and the event destroyed docks.
  6. Izmit, Turkey (1999): Lasting less than a minute, an earthquake striking southeast Izmit left 17,000 dead and 500,000 homeless. Thousands of buildings and an oil refinery were among the destruction. There was a large outcry of people persecuting contractors for their poor workmanship and their use of cheap materials. Authorities found very few of them guilty, however. The 7.4 magnitude earthquake caused an estimated $3 to 6.5 billion in damages.
  7. Rudbar, Iran (1990): A 20,000 square mile earthquake devastated homes and farms at midnight. An estimated 50,000 people died and 135,000 injured, some living in simple houses that lacked support. An aftershock the following day caused a dam to burst, adding to financial losses and further loss of farmland. Estimates determined that the reconstruction of the region cost $7.2 billion.
  8. Kashmir, Pakistan (2005): Kashmir, the disputed area between India and Pakistan, suffered a loss of 80,000 people after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. Four million others became homeless. Sections of towns completely slid off sides of cliffs; landslides also created a blockade for relief workers. In addition, the fact that it occurred just before winter worsened the conditions of those seeking shelters.
  9. Mexico City, Mexico (1985): Mexico City fell to chaos when 400 buildings crumbled, and the power and phone systems blacked out. Public transportation also halted, leaving panicked citizens without communication or instructions. An estimated 250,000 people were without shelter, and a final death count totaled 10,000.
  10. Yunnan, China (2014): Around 4.7 in magnitude, this earthquake killed 398 citizens. The earthquake injured an estimated 1,000 people and displaced over 200,000. Several homes and infrastructure susceptible to earthquakes faced damages as well. The Committee for Disaster Reduction had issued its highest-level response to provide aid: emergency responders prioritized search-and-rescue and the organization directly allocated resources for this purpose.
  11. Puebla, Mexico (2017): A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico on the anniversary of its 1985 earthquake. Since the 1985 quake, people underwent earthquake drills which helped limit the damage in the 2017 earthquake although 225 deaths still occurred. Additionally, the earthquake damaged buildings and Mexico had to evacuate its people. Nearby, homes had also crumbled.
  12. Norcia, Italy (2016): After suffering multiple previous quakes in a short timeframe, another 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred between two towns: Norcia and Amatrice. Numerous aftershocks, magnitudes 5.5 through 7 then followed. Because of its unfortunate location between cities and mountain villages, the quake took 247 victims. Rubble from mountains trapped others and blocked roads.
  13. Ecuador (2016): After this earthquake, 100,000 people needed shelter, 6,000 suffered severe injuries and 700 died. The earthquake destroyed schools and homes along with health care facilities. Flooding following the crisis worsened an outbreak of the Zika virus, but World Vision helped lessen its impact. It provided information on mosquito control and provided activities to teach sanitation in order to prevent the spread of Zika.
  14. Balochistan, Pakistan (2013): The largest province in Pakistan, Balochistan felt an immense tremor from an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude. Awaran, one of six districts affected, lost 90 percent of its houses. The death toll stood at 328 with more than 440 wounded. Excessive mud that the earthquake brought in buried food, water and houses.
  15. Chile (2010): In 2010, a severe 8.8 magnitude earthquake damaged 400,000 homes. Copper production, crucial to Chile’s economy, halted until power resumed. Including loss of exports, the damages totaled $30 billion. The government estimated that the earthquake directly affected 2 million people, while another 800 had died.

Sporadic and unrelenting, earthquakes affect both coastal and inland areas. However, all of the 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll experienced in each have a uniting factor in that they received aid. Despite the severity, government programs and humanitarian bodies rushed to the scene, supplying temporary homes and rations to those suddenly without a place to live. Also, even though most major cases take years to restore themselves, organizations and governments often do not stop giving aid.

– Daniel Bertetti
Photo: USAID

Living Conditions in GuadeloupeSoutheast of Puerto Rico and north of Dominica lie the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe. France is a parent of this archipelago, providing systems to manage the islands’ legislation, health and education.

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Guadeloupe

  1. Guadeloupe’s government runs under the French Constitution and executes authority with the French legal system. With France as the head of state, this country has no military of its own, rather it relies on their overseas French parliament to defend their borders. Ironically, the most recent conflict was the riots of 2009 which revealed the French government’s inability to deflate the cost of living on the island.
  2. The construction of new housing and low-cost residence funded by tax plans created the availability of living spaces. This is a good start to addressing the issues of living costs challenged in 2009. However, in 2011, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies of France (INSEE) reported that 19 percent of households in Guadeloupe are still living in poverty.
  3. With an unemployment rate of 26.9 percent, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe decided to improve the job market through its Regional Scheme for Economic Development (SRDE). Their plan is to optimize access to employment through work placement programs. Satisfying Guadeloupe’s population with opportunities for wealth will feed into the country’s economy.
  4. As arable land decreases, so does Guadeloupe’s agriculture. This affects the industry which inputs 6 percent of the region’s GDP and employs 12 percent of its workers. The production can’t feed the population alone. In fact, the country imports 90 percent of its food for consumption.
  5. The urbanization rate is at an alarming 98 percent. This means, by 2030, 1,500 hectares (approximately 3,700 acres) will be needed for the construction of 19,000 units to house 50,000 dwellers. The unbalanced spread of the population creates congested urban centers.
  6. The annual expenditure on health care and medical products per habitant is 1,800 euros (approximately $2,000). Funding comes from partnerships and programs for EU members, so Guadeloupe doesn’t receive aid from international organizations such as the World Bank and U.N. entities. As a security system, laboratories, like Guadeloupe’s Pasteur Institute in Pointe-à-Pitre, report threatening cases of diseases like dengue which had a fatality ratio of 0.06 percent during the 2012-2013 outbreak. Public health authorities watch and respond to potential threats as a means to establish early warning systems.
  7. The country also follows the French education system with primary schooling from age six to 11 followed by a four-year middle school. At 15 years of age, students may take a leaving examination and begin working. Those seeking to attend a university continue into secondary school with an additional three years.
  8. The country’s history brought together a diverse ethnic culture. It is a mixture of European, Indian, African and Caribbean. As such, the people celebrate Carnival. Beyond this traditional music and dance jubilation, the Creole culture is displayed through the celebration of literature. In fact, Guadeloupe hosts the International Congress for Caribbean Writers, showcasing such work.
  9. Though French is the official language, Creole is also taught in schools to keep the country’s heritage alive. History lives in the buildings as well. Colonial sugar, banana and coffee plantations still remain. Their slave houses, also known, in Creole, as “cases,” hold presence and display the country’s roots.
  10. Travelers can visit this island via French, U.S., Canadian, British and Dutch airlines connecting to Pole Caraïbes International Airport or the other small airports on the surrounding islands. A ferry provides passage between Guadeloupe’s associated islands. The bus system services main routes but becomes scarce on Sundays in secondary routes.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Guadeloupe depict more than French colonial power. The archipelago distinguished itself from simply taking on the French way of life. The islands have a culture of their own which is the catalyst in their tourist economy.

Crystal Tabares
Photo: Pixabay

history of the World Bank
The history of the World Bank is one of change. As the world’s leading development finance institution, the World Bank has established a unique global role over its 75-year existence leading to its modern goal of poverty alleviation. Its longevity and evolution have fostered a bevy of admirers and critics, and its efficacy in achieving its goals has been a cause célèbre for members of the international development community.

How the History of the World Bank Began

The World Bank was formed in 1944 during and because of the ruin caused by World War II. Its original purpose was as a source of financing for the reconstruction of Western Europe, as countries such as France, the beneficiary of the bank’s first loan in 1947, were so devastated that no commercial lender would risk their own capital. As Europe gained its footing and could once again access capital markets, the bank shifted to a global focus including Latin America, Asia and Africa.

However, the history of the World Bank is one of not just an expanding geographical focus but of expanding policy focus. The bank’s initial projects in the 1950s-60s focused on infrastructure and reconstruction, but over the decades this mission has evolved.

The World Bank’s Growing Purpose

The creation of the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) in 1960, with a mission to provide concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries, presaged a shift toward supporting the world’s least developed economies. Bank president Robert McNamara’s pivotal 1973 speech in Nairobi was considered a turning point toward what is thought to be the most important of its many modern mandates: poverty eradication. In 2013, current President Jim Yong Kim described the institution’s twin goals as eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting income growth among the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population.

To this end, the World Bank has continued to represent a formidable source of financing. Its 2017 annual report totaled commitments of $61.8 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to partner countries. For perspective, this is 57 percent greater than the 2019 President Budget for the State Department and USAID of $39.3 billion. The annual report also highlights the diversity of its initiatives, with projects ranging from support of Syrian refugees to cash transfers and nutrition services in

.

Pushback Against the World Bank

However, for an institution committed to a goal as noble as poverty eradication, the World Bank has attracted its fair share of critics. This stems from both the consequences of the Bank’s projects and questions surrounding the relevance of its strategy.

High profile projects have come under fire for decades for their unintended environmental consequences, such as the displacement of more than 60,000 Brazilians after the construction of the Bank-financed Sobradinho Dam in the late 1970s. Bank defenders would acknowledge these failures, but also cite the many safeguards implemented over the years to manage such unintended risks.

Other critics question the Bank’s relevance: in a world where private investors willingly commit over $1 trillion a year to emerging markets, is the multilateral really needed as a backstop? In stark contrast to the 1940s, financing is abundant and capital moves freely in many parts of the world. However, defenders might argue that the World Bank continues to fill financing gaps, as certain arms of the institution, such as the IDA, offer grants and concessional loans to low-income areas that cannot attract private investors seeking a profit.

Criticisms are likely to continue, but among multilateral institutions the size and clout of the World Bank in financing poverty alleviation projects are unmatched. Given its shareholders’ recent approval of a capital increase, the Bank’s financial footprint looks set to continue growing in the near future. The history of the World Bank is one of evolution, and supporters of international development hope its positive influence will continue to shape the poverty eradication landscape.

– Mark Fitzpatrick
Photo: Google

deadliest wars
As with most wars, the majority of people killed in the deadliest wars of all time are innocent civilians. Wars have been a part of human history since the dawn of time. The earliest recorded evidence of human warfare suggests that the first conflict took place around 13,000 years ago along the Egypt-Sudan border. It is believed that this conflicted erupted as a resulted of competition over resources — in this case, water. However, there are many reasons a war can develop: poverty, poor governmental leadership, civil unrest, religion, territory disputes, resources and a plethora of other factors are all responsible for most of the wars throughout human history. With that said, here is a look at the deadliest wars in history.

Top 12 Most Deadliest Wars in History

  1. The Second Congo War
    The Second Congo War (1998-2003) was one of the deadliest wars in history and the deadliest in modern African history. This war spanned over a period of 5 years and caused the death of around 5.4 million people. Although the genocides accounted for a large number of casualties, diseases and famine caused by the war were also partially responsible.
  2. Napoleonic Wars
    The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) pitted the French Empire and its allies against a coalition of European powers. The Napoleonic Wars refers to a series of conflicts between the French Empire and the coalitions that fought it: the War of the Third Coalition, the Fourth, the Fifth, the Sixth and the Seventh and final coalition. During this period, it is estimated that around 3.5-6 million people were killed as a direct or indirect result of the war.
  3. The Thirty Years’ War
    As the name implies, the Thirty Years’ War was fought between Catholic and Protestant states in Central Europe from 1618 to 1648. The conflicts eventually drew in the great powers of Europe, resulting in one of the longest, most destructive and deadliest conflicts in European history. It is estimated that the war was responsible for the deaths of 8 million civilians and military personnel alike.
  4. The Chinese Civil War
    The Chinese Civil War started in August of 1927 between the government-backed Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. The massacres and mass atrocities carried out by both parties resulted in more than 8 million casualties by 1950.
  5. The Russian Civil War
    The Russian Civil War claimed the lives of more than 9 million people — 8 million of whom were civilians. The war spanned from 1917-1922 — immediately after the Russian Revolutions of 1917 — and it was fought between opposing political factions, namely the Red Army and the White Army.
  6. The Dungan Revolt
    The Dungan Revolt was a war fought between the Hans (Chinese ethnic group native to East Asia) and the Huis (Chinese Muslims) in 19th-century China during the Qing Dynasty. There were approximately 20 million war-related deaths, mostly caused by famine and migration brought about by the war.
  7. An Lushan Rebellion
    The An Lushan Rebellion was a rebellion against the Tang Dynasty of China between 755 A.D. and 763 A.D. Although it is difficult to accurately report the death toll, census reports taken the years following the war imply that around 36 million people were killed, or about two-thirds of population of the empire.
  8. World War I
    The First World War was fought between the Allies and the Central Powers. The war lasted 4 years — from 1914 to 1918 —but it was responsible for around 18 million deaths. Of the 18 million deaths, about 11 million were military personnel and about 7 million were civilians.
  9. Taiping Rebellion
    Yet another war in China, the Taiping Rebellion was another large-scale rebellion that was fought between 1850 and 1864. The war was fought between the Qing Dynasty and the Christian millenarian movement of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Although there isn’t an exact number, most estimations have the Taiping Rebellion responsible for 20-30 million deaths.
  10. The Qing Dynasty Conquest of the Ming Dynasty
    The transition from the Qing Dynasty to the Ming dynasty was anything but peaceful. The rebellion waged for over 60 years— from 1618 to 1683 — and resulted in the deaths of 25 million people. What started as a relatively small rebellion in northeastern China ultimately resulted in one of the country’s deadliest conflicts as well as one of the deadliest wars in history.
  11. The Second Sino-Japanese War
    The Second Sino-Japanese War was waged between 1937 and 1945 between the Republic of China’s National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is widely believed that the war began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and it later escalated to an all-out war that resulted in 25 million civilian deaths and over 4 million Chinese and Japanese military deaths.
  12. World War II
    World War II was a global war that spanned from 1939 to 1945. The war pitted the Allies and the Axis power in the deadliest war in history, and was responsible for the deaths of over 70 million people. Known for its genocidal campaign against the Jewish people, the war was also responsible for the deaths of more than 50 million civilians.

An End to War

As John F. Kennedy famously said, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” The deadliest wars in history are all a testament to that sentiment — it is a repeating pattern with very costly end results. The last large-scale war, World War II, was responsible for the deaths of nearly 70 million people.

With the ever-advancing technology in the modern world and a booming population, the next war will undoubtedly bring about an unprecedented amount of deaths. Let history be a teacher so that we can avoid committing the same mistakes, and put an end to conflict once and for all.

– Brandon Cerda

Photo: Flickr

Facts about the Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, writes in his book The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace, “the more we care for the welfare of the majority, the more we work for social welfare, the greater will be our own peace and happiness. Just as the citizens of a particular country have certain obligations as well as enjoy certain benefits, our obligation as followers of the Buddha and bodhisattvas is to benefit all sentient beings.” The Dalai Lama is a pivotal figure on the topic of spiritualism, politics and the oppressed people of the world. Learn more facts about the Dalai Lama.

Top 15 facts About the Dalai Lama

  1. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935, and was originally named Lhamo Dhondup. He was one of five children born to a peasant family in Taktser, a village northeast of Tibet.
  2. Gyatso grew up in Tibet’s ancient Potala Palace in Lhasa after being found at age two to be the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1939, he took the throne in Potala, and two years later, at the age of six, he became a monk.
  3. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Dalai Lamas are the reincarnations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate in order to serve people.
  4. Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom. This was put to the test for Tenzin Gyatso, as in 1950, the Dalai Lama was asked to assume full political power as Head of the Tibetan Government while the country was being threatened by China.
  5. One of the more unique facts about the Dalai Lama is that he was forced into exile in 1959 following China’s military occupation of Tibet. His official residence was moved to Dharamsala in northern India. Dharamsala is now the seat of the Tibetan Government.
  6. In 1987, the Dalai Lama presented a five-point peace plan at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington, D.C., as a first step toward resolving the future status of Tibet. This plan called to designate a Tibetan zone of peace, end the massive influx of Chinese into Tibet, restore fundamental human rights, end China’s dumping of nuclear waste in the country and urge negotiation on the relations between Tibetan and Chinese people.
  7. Of the 15 facts about the Dalai Lama, his dedication to preserving the lives of his people is perhaps the most recognized. On Dec. 11, 1989, the Dalai Lama gave his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize due to his ceaseless goodwill and desire for communication with China as opposed to conflict, as well as his humanitarian work.
  8. The institution of the Dalai Lama is relatively young. There have been thirteen previous Dalai Lamas, and the first two were given their titles posthumously. Buddhists believe the first reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion was Gedun Drub, who lived from 1391 to 1474.
  9. Following the death of a Dalai Lama, it has traditionally been the responsibility of the High Lamas and the Tibetan government to find the reincarnation. The search for the 14th Dalai Lama took four years.
  10. The current Dalai Lama is extremely interested in the sciences. He has a particular fondness for ecology and believes that working toward the preservation of the planet embodies the ideals of Buddha.
  11. The fourteenth Dalai Lama is unique in that he is the first Dalai Lama to have visited the U.S. and traveled the western world.
  12. He is also unique in that he has suggested the line of reincarnation may cease entirely. In 2015, he made comments to the New York Times to that effect, fearing that the Chinese government will use the issue of succession to split Tibetan Buddhism, with one successor named by the exiles and one by the Chinese government.
  13. China regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist. Chinese police in Tibet urge locals to report suspected supporters of the Dalai Lama and his “evil forces” in Tibet. China has become increasingly worried about how Tibet is portrayed throughout the world and are attempting to dissolve Tibetan culture. Tashi Wangchuk, an activist, could face 15 years in jail for promoting the use of the Tibetan language in schools.
  14. Mercedes-Benz issued an apology to Chinese consumers on Feb. 6, 2018 for an Instagram post showing one of its luxury cars along with a quote from the Dalai Lama. The quote: “Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” Instagram has been blocked in China since 2014.
  15. In 1995, the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama is the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Upon learning this, China put the boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.

These 15 facts about the Dalai Lama showcase the plight of Tibet and the tenacious tenderness of its spiritual leader. Tenzin Gyatso is the only Dalai Lama to have been exiled from his own country. He is no longer allowed to freely visit his own place of birth. Even though the people of Tibet support him and would gladly start an uprising to take back their country, he has urged them not to in order to maintain peace and preserve the lives of his people. He holds true to his teachings of openness and communication, as well as his dedication as a follower of the Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

history of the world bank

The history of the World Bank begins in 1944. Founded as an international financial institution, the World Bank’s official goal is poverty reduction. The World Bank was established to finance projects that strengthen economic sectors for developing countries.

The function of the World Bank is providing low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants pave the way for improved education, healthcare and infrastructure for countries emerging from poverty and conflict.

The Changing History of the World Bank

The World Bank officially began in 1946 when the first loan was given to France under strict limitations. One such requirement had France remove government members associated with Communism. With $250 million loaned to France, the World Bank began its credibility as a lender.

Initially, the World Bank aimed to assist European countries devastated by World War II. However, concerned voices of leaders from around the world helped shift the World Banks’s role as a support system for the world.

The history of the World Bank shows that the focus soon shifted to major infrastructure projects. Loans provided to developing countries went towards resources, training and developmental necessities to ensure financial sustainability.

In the 1970s the World Bank’s priorities shifted once again to focus on the elimination poverty. The World Bank focused on people driven projects regarding agricultural development, education of health and sanitation as well as rural and urban development.

As of December 2017, the World Bank is shifting once again. Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank, announced that the World Bank will no longer invest in oil and gas projects. Instead, it will focus on the One Planet climate summit in Paris. Kim believes environmental policies and energy access will improve countries in terms of sustainability.

The history of the World Bank continues to shift as the needs of the world changes in order to meet the needs of communities.

– Jennifer Serrato

Photo: Flickr

Less than 100 years ago, millions of innocent Greeks were killed or deported in what is known as the Greek Genocide. In the Asia Minor region of Turkey, the Ottoman Empire felt it was being threatened by the indigenous Greek people. As a result, the Empire enacted a systematic genocide to rid the nation-state of the Greek contaminants. During the nine-year genocidal period, the Turks and the Ottoman government set out to exterminate the Christian Greek population that resided in the Ottoman Empire. These are ten facts about the Greek Genocide that set the pace for the future of the Ottoman Empire.

  1. The Balkan War, from 1912 to 1913, was the true initial marker for the Christian Greeks’ bleak future. Between these two years, four territories in the Balkans (Serbia, Bugaria, Montenegro and Greece) were successfully freed from Ottoman rule. After the war, the Ottoman Empire feared it would lose more power. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), an ultranationalist group of Young Turks, ultimately took over the Ottoman Empire with the goal of completing total Turkification throughout the Empire, or a full cultural shift to Turkic culture.
  2. The indigenous Greek people were seen as a threat to the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I. The Ottoman Empire feared that the Christian Greek population would attempt to aid the Empire’s enemies during the war, causing its defeat. Additionally, the Empire believed the Christian Greeks were tainting the population and would ruin the integrity of the current Muslim-majority nation-state. Therefore, the Empire opted for a solution to this problem: genocide.
  3. The Ottoman Empire began to target the indigenous Greek population in order to accomplish its goal of full Turkification. The Greek Genocide took place from 1914 to 1923, beginning a year after the Balkan War and aligning with the events of World War I.
  4. Ottoman Greek men of ages 21 to 45 were sent to concentration camps to work for the Turks. Working around the clock with little to no food, hundreds perished in the camps.
  5. Greek children were kidnapped and forced to conform to Turkish society. Villages were pillaged and burned to the ground.
  6. Deportations were issued in the Dardanelles and Gallipolli regions of Asia Minor. The Greek inhabitants of the western coastline of Asia Minor were sent to Muslim villages, where they had to either convert to Islam or be killed. The rest of the Christian Greek population was sent to the interior lands, where they would be exposed to harsh winter weather, starvation and illness.
  7. Approximately 3.5 million Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians died during this nine-year period.
  8. The Ottoman Empire was among the four Central Powers to lose in World War I. After the loss, leaders of the CUP Party were sentenced to death for their role in the organized Greek genocide.
  9. In 1922, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and became the New Republic of Turkey. A year later, the Greek Genocide ended.
  10. There are three remembrance days for the Greek Genocide: April 6 for the Eastern Thrace region, May 19 for the Pontus region and September 14 for Asia Minor.

Nine long years and 3.5 million lost souls later, the Ottoman Empire had officially ended its bloody crusade. Though its efforts to continue the massacres were passed on to the next leadership, the Empire was unable to strongly execute its plans. Many poor decisions led to the collapse of the five-century Ottoman rule, and while the Empire will not be remembered fondly, the lives of those lost in the Greek Genocide will be.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Facts About the Ustase GenocideMost people know little about or have never heard of the Ustase – a Croatian, racist, Nazi-like movement formed in 1929 that ruled Croatia during World War II. Modeled after the Italian fascists, the Ustase sought to separate Croatia from Yugoslavia in order to attain Croatian independence and create a “pure” Croatian state, using genocide to rid the country of “impure” people. This dark period for Croatia resulted in the Ustase genocide.

Top 10 facts about the Ustase Genocide:

  1. The targets of the Ustase genocide were mainly Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. These groups were also the main targets of the German Nazi genocide (the Holocaust).
  2. Initially, the Ustase’s enacted race laws against the groups they saw as non-Croatian and who they felt threatened Croatian identity, much like how the Nazi’s established race rules against those who weren’t considered pure Germans.
  3. Additionally, like the German Nazi’s, the Ustase also established concentration camps to carry out their ethnic cleansing. The largest was Jasenovac where the Ustase murdered around 70,000 to 100,000 people.
  4. The Jewish population of Croatia was practically eliminated – almost all of the 40,000 Jews that resided in Croatia were murdered.
  5. It is estimated that about 30,000 Croatian Gypsies were murdered as well. The most number of deaths comes from the Serbs killed by the Ustase; it is estimated (on the low end) that 300,000 to 400,000 Serbs were murdered in the Ustase genocide. Some reports estimate that around 750,000 Serbians perished.
  6. The leader of the Ustase movement, Ante Pavelic, fled to South America after the end of World War II in 1945. He eventually moved to Spain and died in 1959 at the age of 70 and was never prosecuted for his crimes.
  7. The racism in Croatia did not end after the end of World War II, it continued into the later twentieth century with Serbs still being persecuted and even murdered as late as 1991.
  8. Even the United States was complicit in the continued racism in Croatia. The Assistant US Secretary of State who served as the American Ambassador to Germany during the beginning of the Yugoslav War, Richard Holbrooke, represented the US view that “The Serbs started this war.”
  9. Unlike the German concentration camps, which most often used gas chambers to murder the innocent people they targeted, the Ustase genocide was carried out through much more brutal means. Croatian Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies were cruelly beheaded, drowned and murdered in other barbaric and torturous ways.
  10. Even the German Nazis noticed the brutality of the Ustase. A Gestapo report to Heinrich Himmler from 1942 stated, “The Ustaše committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against males of conscript age but especially against helpless old people, women and children.”

The shocking cruelty of the Ustase genocide has gone forgotten but should be remembered as an example of the senseless tragedy that occurs from allowing nationalism and racism to fester rather than rooting it out immediately.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr