Greece and Europe: Debt Relief and Refugee Struggles — July 13, 2015

Greece and Europe: Debt Relief and Refugee Struggles

If you are at all interested in finance, or for that matter keep up with news at all, you are becoming familiar with the Greek Debt Crisis. This story line is dictated in newly familiar concepts like the Grexit, potential end of the Euro, collapse of the European Union, and European leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The ramifications for the Greek people during these tense times of austerity are immense. Having people worry about being able to get enough currency out of their bank to pay for basic living expenses is a concept that ought not to be familiar in our world. This morning we were greeted with the news of rising agreement in the European Union on debt restructuring for the Greece, pending individual governments authorizations. (Washington Post European Leaders Agree to Greek Rescue Plan) This is news of hope and potential lasting relief to a horrible economic problem.
In Greece and the wider European Union there is another issue that was recently reported on that does not seem to be getting as much publicity. There has been a sustained rise in refugees arriving on Greek land, to the tune of approximately 1,000 people per day with a base of around 77,000 people. (UN News Centre) Furthermore, there are “an estimated total of 436,000 people across the European Union” seeking to enter the EU on a refugee status. (UNHCR 2015 Subregional Operations) These are people that are often forgot because there is no nation that represents refugees on an international stage, just countries that complain about people as an economic issue, not a human with individual rights. 
The European Union has seemed to work out a major conflict in the Greek economic crisis. This solution took time, struggle, and substantial debate. Are we willing to stand for those who do not have an official seat in our legislators? I am not saying that there is a simple solution on how to aid these individuals. We all know that we are each unique, so I doubt a broad policy for all refugees would be the best solution but that does not mean that thought on resettling refugees and internally displaced people is not merited. I have no reason against celebrating steps in the right direction in Greece. However, let us not forget in the celebrations the refugees in Greece and the European Union that are still in utter economic distress.          

Your friend,

James

Sources:
UN News Centre http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51381#.VaPMtUo8KrU
UNHCR 2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile – Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe

http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e48e996.html
Washington Post European Leaders Agree to Greek Rescue Plan https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/greece-agrees-to-a-punishing-ultimatum-from-european-leaders/2015/07/13/4b6c2f2a-28f3-11e5-960f-22c4ba982ed4_story.html

Review of Canada Trip —

Review of Canada Trip

Hi,

Yesterday I arrived home after an interesting month of following the USA Women’s National Team throughout Canada, going to 6 of the 7 games. It has been a month of travel, over 11,000 miles of driving. A month full of tension, with many emotional ups and downs. The downs started immediately because the US team started poorly against Australia; however, the US began to escalate their playing level quickly and easily progressed through the “group of death”. The game against Germany I felt a higher level of tension than when I had to present a business plan in a speech that consisted of half the grade for a class. When Germany missed their penalty kick the tide seemed to turn, with destiny seeming to indicate that the US would win the game and advance to the World Cup Final. The game ended in a convincing 2-0 win over the then number one ranked team in soccer. Finally, the World Cup Final was a novel experience with the goals raining down quickly and a party like atmosphere forming amongst the crowd. The loud cheers after the first USA goal become sheer disbelief that the shadow of the ‘99ers had finally been diminished with a 5-2 win over Japan.

Getting to experience the World Cup was like nothing else I know. I enjoyed seeing all of the cultures interacting in one unified space over a unified cause, watching the beautiful game. Furthermore, it was great to see the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (https://humanrights.ca) in Winnipeg. Finally, interacting with the various cultures, beautiful architecture, and histories of cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa. Canada was a lovely time and I would be happy to share more about the experience if you have any questions.

Your friend,

James

DSCN1083 DSCN1084 DSCN1085 DSCN1086 DSCN1087 DSCN1089 DSCN1090 DSCN1088 DSCN1091 DSCN1092 DSCN1093 DSCN1094 DSCN1095 DSCN1096 DSCN1097 DSCN1121

P.S. Finally, I would like to apologize for my inconsistency in blogging while in Canada. I anticipate writing on the basis I had previously outlined.

P.P.S. I have more photos, if you want some from a particular game I would be happy to email them to you.

UNHCR Book  — July 4, 2015

UNHCR Book 

For this week’s link to another form of media I recommend the book UNHCR: The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection by Alexander Betts, Gil Loescher , and James Milner. You can find this book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/United-Nations-Commissioner-Refugees-UNHCR/dp/041578283X . This book covers the origins, the issues, and the future of refugee work within the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the United Nations subsection that serves refugees and internally displaced people. The book is a great read, though it does have some technical components and often requires referring to the list of abbreviations they provide in the front of the book.

If you read the book, please let me know what you think.

Your friend, 
James 

Week in my Life (Week 4) — June 29, 2015

Week in my Life (Week 4)

Hi,
This has been a week full of travel and adventures. The adventures range from navigating Canadian roads, highways are often one lane going each direction until you are near a major city, to seeing the majestic Niagara Falls.
This week began in Edmonton, seeing Columbia play the United States in a 2-0 victory for the United States. There were nearly as many Columbian fans as American, it was great to hear the chants echo back and forth as each country tried to out cheer their rivals. It was a tense game due to a missed penalty kick by Abby Wambach in the beginning of the second half; however, the USA’s skill shown through in the end. Friday the USA played China to a 1-0 USA victory in Ottawa. There were many Chinese fans and it was an exciting and tense game. It will be great to see the match-up between the number 1 ranked German side and number 2 ranked USA team in Women’s National Soccer on Tuesday night in Montreal.
This afternoon , June 28, we went to Niagara Falls and got to view the majestic natural beauty and power of the immense falls. There are a couple of main sections where the water comes crashing down, each showing their unique dominance of the landscape and their utter vastness. Experiencing this was like nothing I have ever done in my life and I hope you enjoy the glimplses of the Earth’s beauty. 

   
           
Your friend,

James    

Photos from China vs USA — June 28, 2015
USA VS Columbia, Canadian National Parks, and West Edmonton Mall — June 25, 2015
Charlestown, South Carolina —

Charlestown, South Carolina

 We are all familiar with the horrific act of terror recently occurring in Charlestown, South Carolina. First, we must face the sorrow over the loss of life and show astonishment by the forgiveness offered from the people of Charlestown so quickly after the fact. This act is something that ought to cause pause for evaluation on how the USA dialogues and diminishes racism in the future. The reason this act merits evaluation on racial issues is because the perpetrator wants a race war to start and a dialogue about race is a good place to start for the likelihood of a race war to decrease.
 Racism is ingrained in the history and has not yet been overcome within the United States. A large portion of the United States was built not only on the ideals of freedom and liberty, but also on the backs of wrongly whipped, emotionally abused, and personhood denied people. The civil war was fought over a multitude of factors; however, there is not the ability to say that human rights for slaves did not play a large role. Recently, we have been reminded that the roots of racism remain engrained in sections of America. I do not want to comment cause by cause on each police shooting or other act of supposed self-defense because I feel far from certain on my ability to determine accurately if each case was a result of racism. Some acts seem beyond a reasonable doubt others maybe not. However, there is no denying that this was an act of terror with race at the forefront. 
 The current time for dialogue on the problem of racism in America must be taken advantage of so we do not face the tragedy of death to this belief ever again. We are used to a media news cycle where something is nearly constantly talked about on news networks for three to four days then forgotten. For example, a couple weeks ago FIFA corruption was the topic of discussion for everyone and now it is no longer discussed on network news. A topic like racism must not sit on the back-burner until another event where it enters the media because the events almost always revolve around an assault or murder. There must be a forum for sustained dialogue on race throughout America until racism is no more.We ought to have opportunities for people of various ethnicities and religions to dialogue about what life is like for that demographic and how racism surfaces against them. We can all learn a lot from the unique experiences and cultures around us, let us find a sustained way of learning from the beauty and wisdom of each other. Not just hearing about hate crimes the people face. A way to do this would be to have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day not just be a day but a week where each night a different demographic is given the opportunity to share about their unique culture and challenges, either in local schools or town-hall meetings, or simply over the media, either social media or the traditional radio/television.  
 This issue has a substantial amount of overlapping with the Middle East. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Istanbul and meeting people from the Middle East throughout my travels. Muslims have been some of the kindest people I have ever encountered. Middle Easterners have often faced the sorrows of racism and the challenges of religious persecution. Many Muslims face religious persecution after the acts of terror from the Boston Marathon bombing or the acts on September 11. These acts of terror are not supported as righteous acts of religion but as horrific events, according to all but 7% of Muslims interviewed on the acts of 9/11 according to research by Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito (http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2008/03/02/who-speaks-for-islam/) We must remember that racism has many unfortunate faces throughout the Middle East and they all ought to be addressed. 
 Racism is both sad and still existent throughout the America. We must find a way to sustain dialogue on the issue of race in America that lasts, instead of being forgotten in a few more days. The quality of life and life itself is at stake for those who face racist actions. I know I do not have all, or in all honestly any substantial, answer to how to end racism in America. I do know that this issue is not simply solving itself on the current trajectory and that we are each responsible on finding a way to ensure that life is not ended on our watch. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke) 
If you have any thoughts on ways to work against racism or religious persecution I would love to read your comment. Additionally, I would be happy to publish any stories where you personally encountered the horrors of racism or religious persecution. Thank you.
Your friend,

James
              

A Week in My Life (Week 3) — June 22, 2015

A Week in My Life (Week 3)

This week I have had a combination of visiting both modern technological centers and beautiful natural parks. When traveling it is always interesting to see how the people determine the best use of their land. People must evaluate different scenarios; such as if it is better to have an expansive mall that will bring in people to spend their money or preserving the history or nature around them.

I have discovered the value of having space that is maintained and enjoyed. That can be in sustaining historic sights or ensuring that forests and wild lands do not get encroached upon. I enjoyed my time at Elk Island National Park and Prince Albert National Park. I look forward to visiting other beautiful parks as I go throughout my life, to have time to experience nature as the land has always been seen. The ability to relax and interact in nature is a blessing and helps when trying to focus on the important things in life.

Additionally, I enjoyed the fun time of visiting Edmonton’s West Edmonton Mall. An infrastructure with a pirate ship, water park, 2 mini golf courses, 2 roller coasters in their theme park, ice rink, a sea lion show, a miniature replica of a Ugandan village, gun range, and loads of restaurants and shops. It was fun to walk around and see all the variety of international stores and restaurants in the mall. To be able to visit such an amazing place as this should encourage us to use the abilities we have to continue to care for the world around us. This great skill and technology could take the format of shopping centers or as constructing areas to ensure that people are well cared for after natural disasters.

It has been a great week of travel throughout Canada. I am looking forward to watching the USA play Columbia tomorrow in Edmonton. I am planning on posting pictures of my time in the two national parks, the West Edmonton Mall, and the USA round of 16 game tomorrow (if I can make time to go to an internet cafe after the game because the hotel’s internet is iffy).

Running:

I have only gone jogging a couple of times this week, with all the moving around city to city. The weather has been great so I regret not going more often. Hopefully I will be able to find time during the mornings or evenings next week as I head towards Ottawa on Tuesday for the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Your friend,

James

Women’s World Cup Group Game Photos in Winnipeg — June 20, 2015
Ramadan — June 19, 2015

Ramadan

With Ramadan having started yesterday I thought it would be helpful to post this link to a helpful description of the fast. 
Your friend,

James
P.S. This weekend I will try to upload photos from the FIFA Women’s World Cup and post my week in review blog. Have a great day!