Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, July 25, 2016

Courts and the conflicts of a multi-ethnic state

Geographic isolation prevents some conflict over religious differences in Nigeria, but in areas where the ethnic groups and religious groups interact, conflict is visible. This is one of the least serious, as long as people confine their conflicts to the courts. (Rule of law, don't you know.)

Letter from Africa: Nigeria's war of the religious robes (26 June 2016)
Almost all of Nigeria's many inter-religious crises have erupted in the north of the country, where the majority of the country's Muslims live, along with a sizeable Christian minority.

But, over the past few weeks, a religious conflict of a peculiar nature has sprouted in Osun state, south-west Nigeria, which has a large population of Muslims as well as Christians.

While previous religious conflicts have involved machetes, the battle in Osun is being fought with religious garments…

Back in the beginning of June a judge ruled that female Muslims who attend public schools in the state could wear their hijabs to class.
Nigerian women wearing hijabs
The state's branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (Can) said Christian students would wear garments associated with church activities to schools if the state governor implemented the court ruling.

And they made good on their threat…

Some wore maroon choir robes and others donned ankle-length, white garments…
Nigerian boys in religious garb
Mr Aregbesola [the governor] announced plans to "reclassify" schools in the state…

The reclassification entailed merging some schools. For example, some male students were dispatched to the Baptist Girls' High School… while some Muslim students were asked to join the Baptist High School in another town…

But while schools, such as the Baptist High School, ultimately complied with the directive, they drew the line at allowing Muslim students to turn up for classes wearing the hijab…

Eventually, the Muslim association in the state took the matter to court.

After three long years, Justice Jide Falola ruled at the beginning of June that the use of hijabs by female Muslim students in Osun was their fundamental human right to freedom of religion…



Nigeria's Muslims applaud lifting of hijab ban in Lagos schools
A leading Muslim group in Nigeria has welcomed a court ruling lifting the ban on girls wearing the headscarf in government schools in Lagos state.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MRC) said the Lagos Court of Appeal's ruling was a victory for the rule of law.

The judges said the ban violated the religious rights of Muslim girls, overturning a lower court's ruling…

Nigeria's population is roughly divided between Muslims and Christians, with both groups being staunch believers.

The majority of Muslims live in the north and Christians primarily are in the south - though the southern state of Lagos has a more religious mix.

In June, the High Court in the southern state of Osun also lifted the ban on Muslims girls wearing the headscarf.

It caused religious tension in the state, with some Christian boys insisting on wearing church robes to school…

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Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


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The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Textbook addendum

Here are a couple paragraphs I added to my "Corrections and Updates" page. Your students could add them to their textbooks.

Brexit and May

In the spring of 2016, Prime Minister David Cameron was facing the disintegration of his Parliamentary majority and his government. The demand for Britain's withdrawal from the EU had become irresistible. Even members of the government, when given permission to disagree with the official line, had joined the Brexit (Britain exit) campaign.

Cameron called for a referendum on the issue, assuming that people would not vote to leave the EU. Trade, travel, and occupational opportunities were too great, he assumed.

Boy, was he wrong. Just over half of British voters favored Brexit in the referendum. He resigned.

After a short intra-party campaign, Theresa May was elected leader of the Conservative Party and became the second woman to be Prime Minister of the UK. She had campaigned against Brexit, but promised to carry out the will of the people in ways that didn't hurt the country. During the summer of 2016, she made the rounds of EU prime ministers and presidents (most importantly Germany and France), to discuss how best to end Britain's EU membership while maintaining the trade, travel, and immigration advantages.

Prime Minister May and many observers suggested that no one should expect formal action of the UK's withdrawal from the EU until 2017.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oops!

I'm not sure what this event says about politics or the government in Russia, but there are invisible politics going on. Wait and see…

One Russian Security Agency Raids Another, in Rare Sign of Dysfunction
Russia’s main domestic intelligence service raided the Moscow headquarters of an investigative agency on Tuesday, in a rare sign of dysfunction in the country’s domestic security services…

Agents of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet K.G.B., searched the offices of the Investigative Committee, the powerful branch of the prosecutor’s office that deals with politically hued crimes.

The raid was all the more baffling because the two agencies are generally viewed as operating in lock step…

The F.S.B. searched the offices of the director of the committee’s Moscow operation and arrested a deputy head of the headquarters… and the two top officials in the department of internal affairs…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.


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Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The many faces of crisis in Nigeria

If you're into making lists, Nigeria offers opportunities to make many lists: cleavages, geographic areas, populations, and crises.

Nigeria Finds a National Crisis in Every Direction It Turns
Militants are roaming oil-soaked creeks in the south, blowing up pipelines and decimating the nation’s oil production. Islamist extremists have killed thousands in the north. Deadly land battles are shaking the nation’s center. And a decades-old separatist movement at the heart of a devastating civil war is brewing again.

On their own, any one of these would be a national emergency. But here in Nigeria, they are all happening at the same time, tearing at the country from almost every angle…

Mr. Buhari took office a year ago, promising to stamp out terrorism in the north and to rebuild the nation’s economy…

Beyond low prices for the nation’s oil, the source of more than 70 percent of the government’s revenue, Nigerian officials have been tormented by a new band of militants claiming to be on a quest to free the oil-producing south from oppression. They call themselves the Niger Delta Avengers…

As a result, Nigeria’s oil production in the second quarter this year dropped 25 percent from the same period a year earlier…

“We are not asking for much, but to free the people of the Niger Delta from environmental pollution, slavery and oppression,” the Avengers wrote on their website

On the opposite side of the country, Boko Haram is still raging…

Another longtime battle is flaring in the middle of the country, between farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen looking for grazing pastures. Hundreds have been killed in battles as herdsmen roam into new territory to look for vegetation for their cattle…

And with their demands for economic equality for the south, the Avengers have been trying to stoke the aspirations of separatists elsewhere in the nation…

Now, a Biafran separatist movement is simmering again…

The south has long been a reservoir of anger and resistance, a place where countless billions in oil revenue are extracted for the benefit of distant politicians and companies abroad. Yet drinking water and electricity can be scarce, and the swamps people live around are regularly polluted…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.


Order the book HERE
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Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Monday, July 18, 2016

Tiny baby step forward

The Nigerian government has announced that there has been serious corruption in military procurement. The announcement implies that rumors of military shortages last year were true. Will the government have more to say? Does this have anything to do with rule of law?

Nigeria Says Arms Deals Irregularities Had Serious Consequences
Irregularities in Nigerian military procurement deals as armed forces were fighting Islamist militant group Boko Haram had serious consequences, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Friday.

Military procurement over the last few years is being investigated by the country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

A committee recommended the "further investigation" of 18 serving and retired military personnel, 12 serving and retired public officials and 24 chief executive officers of companies involved in arms deals…

Mohammed said… a total of $685,349,692 was spent on procurement and operations in the period [2011-2015]…


See also: Corruption in Nigeria, not just Boko Haram, is at the root of violence


Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.


Order the book HERE
Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Friday, July 15, 2016

Backgrounder on China and the South China Sea conflict

Unless this conflict escalates, it's not likely to be a major topic for comparative politics, but it's good to get a basic understanding of the issues. Max Fisher, writing in The New York Times does a good job in this article.

The South China Sea: Explaining the Dispute
After an international tribunal in The Hague ruled emphatically against China in a territorial dispute with the Philippines, many Chinese state media outlets responded on Wednesday by publishing a map. It showed the South China Sea, with most of the waters encircled with the “nine-dash line” that has long represented its claims there.

This week’s ruling may have delivered a sweeping victory in court to the Philippines… But it has only escalated the larger dispute, which involves several Asian nations as well as the United States…

What follows is an explanation of why this body of water is considered such a big deal, and why it may be a harbinger of global power politics in the decades ahead.

1. What is the dispute about?

At its most basic level, this a contest between China and several Southeast Asian nations over territorial control in the South China Sea, which includes some of the most strategically important maritime territory on earth…

This is also about whether China will comply with international laws and norms, which Beijing sometimes views as a plot to constrain the country’s rise…

2. What does this week’s ruling mean?

The tribunal ruled almost categorically in favor of the Philippines… It also said China had broken international law by endangering Philippine ships and damaging the marine environment.

Maybe most important, the tribunal largely rejected the nine-dash line that China has used to indicate its South China Sea claims…

But while the ruling is considered binding, there is no enforcement mechanism… Whether China chooses to defy or comply with that pressure, though, could help to shape its place in the international community…

3. What is the ‘nine-dash line’?

This little line has shown up on official Chinese maps since the 1940s (it began with 11 dashes). It demarcates a vast but vague stretch of ocean from China’s southern coast through most of the South China Sea…
For China, the line represents long-lost historical claims that the country, after two centuries of weakness, is finally strong enough to recover. For the other nations, the line is a symbol of what they characterize as a naked power grab by China.

4. Why is the South China Sea so important?

The United States Energy Information Agency estimates there are 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in deposits under the sea… The waters also contain lucrative fisheries… The area’s greatest value is as a trade route…

5. Why does it matter who controls those trade routes?

This gets to a core contradiction in the South China Sea dispute: It is driven by territorial competition, yet all countries involved want open sea routes. Everyone benefits from the free flow of goods between Asia and the rest of the world, and everyone suffers if that is disrupted…

[T]he Chinese… suspect that the global status quo is engineered to serve Western interests first. So it is hardly surprising that China is seeking greater control over waterways it relies on for economic survival…

6. So this is about China’s rise?

China sees itself as a growing power that has a right to further its interests in its own backyard, just as Western powers have done for centuries…

Something Americans often miss is that for China, this is in part defensive. The history of Western imperialism looms large. Chinese leaders often distrust the United States’ intentions, and consider their country to be the far weaker party…

7. Why is the United States so involved in this?

The United States has a treaty obligation to the Philippines… As the world’s largest economy, it also has a real interest in maintaining open sea lanes — and, as the world’s biggest naval power, it often assumes the role of policing them. Plus, as the world’s only superpower, the United States often acts as a balancer in regional disputes.

But this is also, for Washington, about shaping what sort of major power China becomes.

American officials insist that they do not oppose China’s rise. Their concern is whether China will work within what scholars call the liberal order — the postwar system of international laws and institutions — or seek to overturn it…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.


Order the book HERE
Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Back to the future in Iran

Many people long for the days of President Ahmadinejad

Polling gives a dark forecast for Iranian president Hassan Rouhani
President Rouhani
The latest poll from IranPoll, the Canadian outfit linked to Maryland University, is bad news for president Hassan Rouhani. Just under three quarters – 74% - of Iranians surveyed on 17-27 June say there has been no improvement in the economy as a result of last year’s nuclear agreement with world powers. With a presidential election looming next year, probably in June, Rouhani’s lead over possible challenger Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former ‘principle-ist’ (or fundamentalist) president, has narrowed to eight percentage points from 27 points in May 2015.

Economic growth in the Iranian year ending in March was far smaller than expected….

But how widely will any benefits of growth be distributed? Back in March the state’s statistical centre reported poverty and inequality had increased in the previous 12 months.

And poorer Iranians are the target group for Rouhani’s principle-ist opponents. The recent ‘pay cheque scandal’ played into their hands…

Principle-ists have been showing nostalgia not just for the egalitarianism of the 1979 Revolution and the noble sacrifices of the 1980-88 war with Iraq but for the landslide election victory won by Ahmadinejad in 2005 on the slogan of ‘putting the oil money on the sofreh’ (the dining mat used by poorer Iranians)…

The populism of the Iranian principle-ists shows striking similarities with populism elsewhere. It is critical of bankers, often anti-intellectual, and pushes a notion of national control against an international, or even global, elite. Its idea of nation is not just nostalgic but hostile to diversity, and extols the values of supposed ‘simplicity’ against the wicked ways of the big city – praising the morality police acting against ‘bad hijab’ is a topical example…

In the 2005 presidential election, Ahmadinejad not only promised to put oil revenue on the sofreh, he scorned the middle classes and intellectuals…

Whereas his reformist predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, spoke in universities and international bodies of a “dialogue among civilisations”, Ahmadinejad made repeated provincial trips around Iran addressing huge crowds of people who felt neglected by central government. Those feelings of neglect are just as strong today – and president Rouhani has little time to address them.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know 7th edition is ready to help.


Order the book HERE
Amazon's customers gave this book a 4-star rating.








Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.


Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.







The Comparative Government and Politics Review Checklist.



Two pages summarizing the course requirements to help you review and study for the final and for the big exam in May. . It contains a description of comparative methods, a list of commonly used theories, a list of vital concepts, thumbnail descriptions of the AP6, and a description of the AP exam format. $2.00. Order HERE.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.











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