Posts Tagged ‘california’

Gangnam Style, Global Citizenship, and the (Secretary) General

Friday, January 18th, 2013

As Stanford students, we have been charged – by the Stanfords themselves in the Founding Grant – with the responsibility of “promot[ing] the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”  The words that Leland and Jane wrote down over 120 years ago in honor of their late son still ring true today, for fuzzies and techies alike.  Whether you are applying for a visa to study abroad or someday praying for favorable trade relations so that you can expose your product to a new market, international relations matter.  So if you’re curious about IR or just wondering why there were police dogs outside of Dink yesterday, read on.

Today, the UN has 193 member nations.

Crash Course: Meet the U.N.

Founded in 1945, the United Nations was born out of the need to address global hostility post-World War II and the League of Nations’ failed attempt at creating an international body that could effectively address international issues.  Despite starting afresh, the formation of an international regulating body still did not sit well with some countries, and after the Soviet Union turned about-face on first Secretary General Trygve Lie due to the UN’s role in the Korean War, the UN was almost doomed to the same fate as the League of Nations.

Like a boss.

Fortunately, Lie’s fellow-Scandinavian successor, Dag Hammarskjöld, strove to prevent the UN from disappearing altogether.  However, the UN has had its share of drama, from the Soviet Union’s desire to create a troika to replace the Secretary General to the Annan family’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

Despite the issues that have arisen, the United Nations remains the predominant world body persistently working to maintain peace between nations and provide aid to those who are hungry, oppressed, illiterate, and ill, deploying approximately 120,000 peacekeepers from over 110 countries and feeding over 90 million people a day.  In the words of current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “we [- the UN -] deliver more humanitarian aid than anyone.”

BMOC: Ban himself

The man with a plan

This Thursday afternoon, Ban Ki-moon came to address the Stanford community and discuss the role of the UN in our rapidly transitioning world.  Expressing his excitement at being able to speak on campus, Ki-moon joked that “Stanford has subtly made its mark on the world…… and that is just your football team.”  But beyond voicing his appreciation for California and joking that after a trip to America as a teen, he “was the 1950s equivalent of PSY” because he was so popular when he got home, Ban Ki-moon emphasized a need for American citizens to help address the profound global change that our world is facing today.  To make his point clear, Ki-moon elucidated three primary ways to navigate our changing world – his points are as follows.

1) Sustainable Development

First, Ki-moon urged individuals to be more conscious of their consumption of Earth’s resources, as “there can be no plan B… because there is no planet B.”  Asserting that “we cannot drill or mine our way to prosperity,” Ki-moon explained his goal for 2030: that everyone in the world will have electricity, solving a current dearth of energy for 1.4 million individuals.  His environmental stance reflects current initiatives at Stanford that you can get involved in, from the Stanford Solar Car project to the Green Living Council.  As Ki-moon said himself, “I know you understand – after all, Stanford’s mascot is a tree.”

2) “Dignity and Democracy”

Focusing on civil unrest in Syria and Mali, the Secretary General illuminated the main concerns for addressing international conflict, including funds, access, and political divisions.  He wants to provide certainty to young people who have uncertain futures, and uphold the human rights of those who can’t defend themselves.

3) Women and Young People

Similarly, Ki-moon argued that women and young people are the “most under-utilized resource” in today’s world.  He called for “more women in the Cabinet, more women in the Parliament, and more women in the boardrooms,” and is proud that South Korea has its first female president(-elect).  Because “half the world is under 25 years of age,” Ki-moon has appointed a special envoy on youth, who will hopefully be a proponent for children and young adults around the world.

“We Are the World”

In sum, Ban Ki-moon discussed a variety of pressing issues that he and his peers in the UN need our help to address.  It is in this vein that Ki-moon wrapped up his talk; rather than talking about how the youth are the future, he argues that it is time to recognize that young people “have already taken their leadership role today.”

So, Stanford students, let’s take Ki-moon’s advice.  Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to recognize the importance of international cooperation and impartiality.  It is time to be global citizens.

California at Risk for a Super Storm

Monday, January 17th, 2011

like this but bigger

Several dozen meteorological experts warn that California could be at risk for a massive storm this winter.
This hypothetical “superstorm” could:

  • Last for 40 days
  • Dump 10 feet of rain
  • Flood up to a quarter of the state
  • Cause anywhere from $300-$400 billion in damages.

Happy Winter Quarter!

Non-Partisan Voter Information for California Elections

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Elections are only two days away, which means that campus is as apathetic as ever. Why should you vote? Well, there’s that whole civic duty thing. Then there’s the fact that these elections are important because they could affect the whole balance of national and state politics. Then there’s the fact that, somewhere in the United States, this crazy person, or this crazy person, or this crazy person, this crazy person, or even this crazy person could, or even very well might, be elected. And then there’s because P. Diddy tells you to.

This is a gratuitous picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

California elections are particularly interesting because of the propositions system, which allows for voters to pass laws with a simple majority. Just as in elections past, this upcoming ballot features a wide range of interesting propositions. In the spirit of making sure voters are informed, Stanford in Government (SIG) has published a non-partisan voter guide to help California voters navigate the murky and horribly-worded propositions when they prepare to vote. Here is the information on some of the most important propositions:

Proposition 19
Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
Summary: Would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Local governments would have authority to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Would prohibit people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Current prohibitions against driving while impaired would be maintained.

Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 19 will save the state money currently spent in enforcing the failed laws against marijuana growth and use. They say that Proposition 19 will effectively end the violent drug market created by marijuana prohibition. Proponents argue that marijuana arrests have cost the state millions of dollars in police, prosecution, and prison costs. They argue that taxing the sale of marijuana could bring in large sums to help the state during current budget deficits.
Con: Opponents say that Proposition 19 is a flawed measure that loosens penalties for driving or working under the influence of marijuana. They believe that legalized marijuana will have public costs larger than any amount of revenue brought in by the drug. Many opponents believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug and will lead users to more dangerous drugs like heroin or cocaine.
Also see here for a debate on Prop. 19.

Proposition 20
Congressional district lines to be re-drawn by a committee
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Eugenia Maluf: I Know What you Did this Summer

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

You don’t get to dress up in semi-authentic CaliforniaMex historical costumes for your summer internship, but Eugenia Maluf does. (That’s right. Be jealous.) She also teaches children about the history and ecology of the Presidio in San Francisco.

Eugenia Maluf '11 (center) and her co-workers dress up for a program

1. Who are you?

Who am I? I’m Eugenia motherfuckin’ Maluf, that’s who. Don’t ever forget it. I’m also a rising senior studying History and Spanish.

2. What are you doing this summer?

I am working for the National Park Service in San Francisco. I work with Group Programs and Community Outreach in the Presidio.

3. So what do you actually do?

I do many things. Three or four times a week, I lead or assist in education programs for youth groups who visit the Presidio and Crissy Field. So far, I’ve done programs about the Buffalo Soldiers, native plants of the Presidio, bugs, and the Spanish colonial period of San Francisco. I’ve also compiled lesson plans for many of the educational programs as well as improve learning materials for these programs. Sometimes, I even dress up in nineteenth century Mexican clothing and try to convince eight year olds that I am over 200 years old (they do not believe me).

4. Other than work, what are you doing?

I live in the Presidio, so I spend a lot of time getting bitchin’ views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean. I also go to a lot of concerts, eat expensive sandwiches, judge people in the Mission, and do other things that some people would label, “pretentious” or “bougie.”

5. Cream cheese or Dinosaurs?

Dinosaurs. All day. Everyday.

California Politics: There’s Something About Primary (Season)

Monday, May 31st, 2010

I already explained that the governor’s race in California was ridiculous. Twice, in fact. Yet the state, which is in the middle of an unfathomably bad budget crisis (bad enough that advocacy groups are having to sue the state…twice, in fact), never fails to entertain. A few more tidbits of politics that could only come from the Golden State as the primaries inch closer (June 8th):

Blogger-cum-candidate Mickey Kaus challenged Democratic Senate incumbent Barbara Boxer to a debate as he tries to challenger her in the primary. And she didn’t show up, so he debated the closest thing he could find: a cardboard box. No word yet as to who won, though analysts thought her positions were rough around the edges.

Mickey Kaus debates Barbara Box, err...

Heterosexual-cum-homosexual Roy Ashburn–whose flip flop was chronicled earlier on TUSB–has now decided that, now that he’s acknowledged that he’s gay, gay people should, you know, have the same rights. Funny how that works.

And we cannot forget the Republican gubernatorial primary between Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman. In case you haven’t been following, here’s a quick recap of the last few weeks: Whitman threatened to pull a Nixon on Poizner and release incriminating tapes of him saying liberal things. Poizner attacked Whitman for using the Internet as it is supposed to be used: for porn. Whitman received the Dick endorsement. Poizner cut the lead to single digits. They both swung way right on immigration in the 37% Hispanic state. Poizner gave a town hall meeting for middle schoolers. And with only a week left before the primary, both are spending oodles of money to try and win the election.

If there’s one thing we can pick up from their campaigns, it’s that either way, you’re going to get a Republican candidate that’s secretly a liberal and wants to raise taxes. Hey, maybe 2010 won’t be so bad for Democrats…

California: Home of Even More Strange Politicians

Sunday, April 4th, 2010
This is Jerry Brown's official portrait as Governor.

This is Jerry Brown's official portrait as Governor of California in the late 70s.

A few days ago, I wrote about California’s increasingly-wacky set of prospective politicians and their recent newsworthy shenanigans. But there’s more: running alongside Meg “Campaign-literature-is-real-literature” Whitman in the race for California governor are Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown, both of whom warrant more than just a passing mention.

Just two days after Whitman’s newsworthy stunt, Republican Poizner (who also happens to be a Stanford Business alum) faced heavy criticism at a book signing for his new book, “Mount Pleasant: My Journey from Creating a Billion-Dollar Company to Teaching at a Struggling Public High School,” which details his year as a teacher at a public school in San Jose. Students and teachers are upset at some of Poizner’s descriptions of the school and its students, particularly the following passage:

From an intellectual standpoint, I absolutely knew not to expect Silicon Valley-caliber ambition and smarts from East San Jose school kids.

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