Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Job opening in Massachusetts

Juliette Zener, who taught at Newton Country Day School for 20 years before taking a position at Belmont Hill, wants to help NCDS find a new faculty member.


24 July 2014

Newton Country Day School, an independent Catholic girls school in Newton, MA, has an immediate opening in its History Dept for an experienced educator who can teach both AP Comparative Government AND AP US Government.

Inquiries and CVs should be directed to Andrea LaZure (assistant to the Headmistress) at alazure@newtoncountryday.org

DO NOT inquire further here or submit information to the blog or to Juliette. We're just passing along the announcement.


Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is AVAILABLE NOW.
Updated and ready to help.










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










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











When, not if

Neal Ascherson, a Scottish journalist writing in The New York Times, says he'll vote for independence, but even if the coming referendum fails, Scotland is on the road to independence.

Scottish Independence Is Inevitable
ONE thing is certain: Whatever the outcome, this referendum campaign is changing Scotland irrevocably. Whether the Scots vote yes or no to independence on Sept. 18, their sense of what is possible for this small nation will have been transformed…

This referendum… dares the Scots to go the last mile: proposing an independent Scottish state within the European Union, sharing a monarch… and possibly a currency, with the rump of the old United Kingdom.

At this moment, a majority for independence looks unlikely…

But it’s the smell, taste and sound of this campaign that should warn us that, this time, a no vote will not be the end of the story. Scotland is changing as we watch…

Flag of Scotland
Where does this come from? In part, from economic confidence. Twenty years ago, postindustrial Scotland was dismissed as an economy shattered beyond repair. Now, even the British government and the “no” campaign admit that Scotland could survive and prosper and be a stable democracy on its own, given wise management of its North Sea oil wealth. The question is no longer “Can we?” It’s “Should we?”

The motives driving “yes” supporters are straightforward. Devolution… needs to be completed. The situation in which a Scottish government’s revenue comes as a block grant from London is irresponsible. The Edinburgh Parliament should be allowed to set and raise its own taxes.

British elections must no longer trample the will of the Scottish people: The Scots are solidly anti-Tory, returning just one Conservative M.P. to Westminster in the last three general elections, yet they are outweighed by southern English voters and regularly have to endure Conservative governments. Scotland should also be allowed to become a full member of the European Union, not a bolt-on to English interests.
Scottish currency

Add social welfare to those motives. In Britain, it’s not only Conservative-led governments but “New Labour” ones as well that now seem committed to Thatcherite economics, to the steady privatization of health, education and welfare. Most Scots hate this…

If Scottish “yes” reasoning is not hard to grasp, neither is Scottish “no” reasoning. Some of it is material: People are not convinced that their living standards would survive independence, and would like firmer promises about pensions and interest rates. Some of it is fear for the economic safety of Scotland, turned loose among the giant predators stalking a globalized world.

Some of it is emotional: a feeling that Scottish and English societies are so closely integrated now that separation (a word the S.N.P. never uses) would be absurd, even anachronistic…

The English media and many politicians explain the independence movement by claiming that the Scots are obsessed by “anti-English racism.” My own experiences tell me the exact opposite. Scots, these days, have almost forgotten about England, so fascinated are they by their own country. (This is sour news for the English, who can bear being hated but not being overlooked.)…

I shall vote yes this September. The campaign has already taught me that if we don’t make it with this third referendum, there will be a fourth. It’s time to rejoin the world on our own terms.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is AVAILABLE NOW.
Updated and ready to help.










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










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











Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Imbalances affect stability

Mara Hvistendahl, a former comparative politics student, wrote a book (Unnatural Selection) about the "missing 100 million females" in Asia. The cause of the gender imbalance in China, India, and other countries is a preference for male children. Hvistendahl speculated about political, economic, and social changes that will come with these imbalances.

Perhaps she should have included Nigeria in her book as well. What affects might this imbalance have on Nigeria's politics, economy, and society?

Bring back the girls
SEX-SELECTIVE abortions are used round the world to discriminate in favour of boys. But not in Africa. Nigeria’s sex ratio at birth is the natural one…

Yet despite all this, a recent study* finds that Nigeria also suffers from sexual bias from birth and that, while this does not skew the sex ratio, it manifests itself in other ways that harm individuals and society as a whole. Son-preference damages maternal health, makes marriage trickier for women, increases polygamy and alters the institution of child-fostering, which is widespread in west Africa.

In Nigeria, as in many other African countries, men have stronger ownership rights over land than women do. This gives everyone an economic need for sons, including women, who face a grim widowhood without one… [W]omen whose first child is a daughter are likely to have more children than those whose first child is a son…

It also changes a woman’s married life. Women with first-born daughters are 1.2 percentage points more likely to end up in a polygamous union. Some husbands, it turns out, take another wife if their first child is a girl (polygamy is legal in northern Nigeria and recognised by customary law elsewhere). Men also seem more willing to abandon or divorce wives who produce a daughter…

Heading a household may sound like a good thing. But in Nigeria, as in most countries, female headship is associated with poverty. In fact, almost everything to do with having a daughter first is bad for women. Being in a polygamous household harms their health and their children’s because of competition for food in the home. Having children in quick succession damages maternal health, since mothers need time to recover after giving birth. The need to produce sons may also help explain Nigeria’s maternal-mortality rate of 550 deaths per 100,000 live births—one of the highest rates in the world, even though Nigeria is now a middle-income country…


* “Son preference, fertility and family structure”. By Annamaria Milazzo. World Bank. Working Paper 6869.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is AVAILABLE NOW.
Updated and ready to help.










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










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











Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 21, 2014

Linguistic cleavages

An illustration of the linguistic diversity of the UK. However, as a tone-deaf Yank, I have trouble distinguishing one from another in many of these short examples.

This performance does give us an idea of the diversity behind the facade of British uniformity. Do any of these accents represent political cleavages?



Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is AVAILABLE NOW.
Updated and ready to help.










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










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











Labels: , ,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Do you know...

who these people are?


 What BRICS is?

Chinese president proposes closer, more solid BRICS partnership
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday proposed a closer and more solid partnership among BRICS countries, as he delivered a speech at the sixth BRICS summit held here.

Besides Xi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Zuma also attended the summit held under the theme of "Inclusive growth: sustainable solutions."…

Xi stressed that BRICS countries, which express themselves concertedly and contribute their share to solving many major international and regional issues, are committed to boosting world economic growth, improving global economic governance and promoting the democratization of international relations.

They have become an important force in international relations and an active constructor of the international system, he said.

According to Xi, BRICS countries should carry forward the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and develop a closer, more comprehensive and more solid partnership.

He urged to unswervingly push forward sustainable economic growth, adhere to inclusive growth, turn quantitive growth into qualitative growth, and coordinate economic development, social development and environmental protection…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE.











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










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











Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The politics of kidnapped girls

It's difficult to know what politics are being played by people in Nigeria over the kidnapping of more than 200 school girls, but denials aside, everyone is being political. And the mention of money being paid to some girls' families should remind us that the potential for payments going in all directions is possible.

Nigeria parents deny playing politics over Chibok girls
Parents of the schoolgirls abducted by militant Islamists in Nigeria have denied playing politics by refusing to meet President Goodluck Jonathan.

Tuesday's meeting failed to take place because proper protocol had not been followed, their spokesman said…

Mr Jonathan was widely criticised for failing to meet distraught parents and not doing enough to rescue the girls.

On Monday, he agreed to meet 12 parents and five girls who escaped shortly after being seized by Boko Haram, following a request by Pakistani rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai.

Chibok community spokesman Dauda Iliya said the proposed meeting had been organised in a hurry, so there was not time to consult with all the parents.

Chibok residents were "very traumatised" and people had lost trust in each other, he said.

If a small number of parents suddenly announced they had met the president, they would have a "hard time" from the others, and there might be a "suspicion that money had changed hands", Mr Iliya said…

Mr Jonathan said "political forces" in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group derailed the meeting…


Chibok Girls' Families Reject Presidential Meeting, Jonathan Blames Opposition
The parents of the kidnapped Chibok students said ‘no’ to a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday… Their rejection of the Tuesday meet-up in Abuja was unexpected, and has struck a blow to the president’s ongoing charm offensive.

The meeting was a staged event organized by Levick, the Washington-based PR firm, and President Goodluck Jonathan was set to formally meet and be photographed with the families of the students abducted by Boko Haram in mid-April. 17 Chibok residents were expected to meet with the president, including five of the students who had managed to escape. However, the Borno State families, in a surprising last minute move, reportedly called it off…

In a statement issued to the national media… the president’s office blamed opposition forces for the cancellation, and put out the following:

“It now appears that our fight to get the girls of Chibok back is not only a fight against a terrorist insurgency, but also against a political opposition.”…


Chibok Girls' Parents Shun Meeting With Jonathan
Malala Yousofazai and Pres Jonathan
A meeting scheduled between President Goodluck Jonathan and parents of abducted girls in Chibok, yesterday, could not hold as the parents shunned the meeting.

The meeting was arranged after education activist and a victim of terrorist attack, Malala Yousofazai, met with President Jonathan on Monday and pleaded with the president to meet with the parents of the abducted girls to encourage them. Jonathan, in a statement delivered by his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, accused the BringBackOurGirls activists of politicising the planned meeting by ferreting the parents out of Abuja before the meeting could hold…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE. (Updated ready to help.)











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










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











Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Political culture of mistrust

How does this kind of mistrust affect legitimacy?

In Mexico, water fight underscores distrust of government
The church bells rang out, a normal occurrence in a community where the sound usually beckoned residents to weddings, funerals or religious services. But the clanging on this morning was different: frenetic, insistent, relentless.

The sound signaled an alarm — and a call to arms.

More than 1,000 armored anti-riot police had begun to move into the outlying Mexico City colonia. Residents, meanwhile, prepared to meet them, armed with rocky projectiles they had created by swinging large hammers into the pavement, sidewalks and planters.

More than 100 people were injured, some seriously, in skirmishes that day in late May in the isolated highland community. Most of the badly hurt were police, beaten by angry residents in fighting caught on television cameras.

Santa Fe neighborhood
The protesters said the government was seeking to steal a rare commodity: fresh volcanic spring water that has fed much of the town since before the Spaniards came. They insist that politicians want to move water to Santa Fe, a nearby wealthy community…

The conflict underscores the chronic distrust many Mexicans have of their government…

Government officials said police were actually sent to safeguard a project that would provide water to thousands of people on the edges of San Bartolo Ameyalco, as well as those who live there. Authorities also say the pipeline would take water from a river and not from the treasured spring…

The violent confrontation has left both sides with black eyes…

Political analyst Jose Antonio Crespo said Mexicans are tired of government inefficiency and an atmosphere of impunity. He said it's a reason that some Mexicans have taken the law into their hands, as in Michoacan, where vigilantes rose up against the Knights Templar drug cartel in the last year.

It may be untrue that the government wants to take water from San Bartolo Ameyalco's natural spring to Santa Fe, Crespo said. But in Mexico, there's history enough to suggest that it could be the case.

"Things like that happen a lot in Mexico," he said. "The rich are the ones who can impose their way."…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition
is AVAILABLE NOW.











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










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











Labels: , ,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Corruption, money laundering, and drinking problems

Another tradition attacked.

Guangxi Officials Told to Stay Sober (on the Job, at Least)
The rules read like something imposed on a fraternity under double-secret probation. But as People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, explained on Friday, they are meant for officials in the southern region of Guangxi. Officials there now face a list of restrictions on consuming alcohol that are meant to prevent them from reaching embarrassing and even dangerous levels of intoxication.

According to the rules, Guangxi officials are barred from drinking on the job; playing drinking games or otherwise forcing people to drink in public places; being heavily drunk at any time; drinking in public while wearing an official uniform; drinking while carrying classified materials; and driving after drinking.

China has a well-established tradition of boozy banquets to mark all manner of business, and local officials often find themselves called upon to drink several times a week…

President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption and extravagance has targeted officials’ culture of drinking. There are some signs that the prohibitions are cutting into alcohol consumption…

Still, drunken officials remain a problem for the Communist Party. Wang Qikang, an executive with a state-owned tourism company, was fired and dismissed from the party this week after a cellphone video that showed him groping a woman on a Shanghai subway…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE.

SAME OLD PRICE; NEW UPDATED CONTENT








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










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











Labels: , ,