German Chancellor Merkel–German Multiculturalism a Complete Failure

In a speech to the youth wing of her party last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed multiculturalism in Germany a “complete failure.” Merkel’s remarks have caused some consternation both within Germany and abroad. Detractors have used the speech to highlight what they claim is an increasingly strident anti-immigrant (and particularly anti-Muslim) tone in the words and deeds of the right and centre-right in Germany. The clip below–from Al Jazeera’s English-language news program–places Merkel’s comments within the context of the contemporary debate in Europe on issues related to the assimilation/integration of Muslim immigrants. (Note the clip on the recent “burqa controversy” in France.

There is, I believe, a more charitable reading of Chancellor Merkel’s comments. The public debate in Germany on immigration, multiculturalism and the place of immigrants in German society has-for peculiarly German reasons–lagged the reality for a long while. It was not until the election of Gerhard Schroeder’s SDP/Green coalition in 1998 that the German citizenship law was changed to make it consistent with the social reality.

Can the UN Keep the Peace?

Today in IS 302 we viewed the video “Can the UN Keep the Peace”, which looked at the challenges that face the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Like the pairing of the perfect wine with the right meal, this video was (at least in my opinion) a perfect complement to today’s readings.

How Big is Africa?

In the second half of the Comparative World Government course we’ll be analysing issues and concepts that will allow us to learn more about the many countries located on the diverse continent of Africa. In addition to being very diverse, Africa is a very large continent. Many of us have little idea about just how big the continent is. Here’s a revealing graphic by Kai Krause, that will hopefully cure us of a little bit of our immapancy–insufficient geographical knowledge. Click on the link above to view a larger picture, with more information.

What does the HDI measure?

This post is prompted by an e-mail from one of the students in my Comparative World Government class. Here’s the e-mail message:

I’m just studying and going through my notes, and had a quick question. In topic 4 when you were talking about GDPs and the Gini Index you said that there actually was a correlation between countries with a high GDP and a low Gini index, but isn’t GDP used in calculating the gini index? So wouldn’t it kind of skew the data, forcing the gini index to be more likely to follow the same pattern as the GDP?

Just curious

Here is my response:

Thanks for the question. I’m almost certain that I didn’t say that, since there’s generally no correlation between the Gini Index and the GDP. Some rich countries have relatively high equality (Sweden, for example) and some have high inequality (USA). Conversely, some poor countries have high levels of equality (India), while some poor countries have very high levels of inequality (Central African Republic).

What I most likely said was that there was a very high correlation between a country’s GDP and is score on the Human Development Index (HDI). Just a bit of research…turns up this interesting bit of analysis by Justin Wolfers at the NY Times Freakonomics blog, showing a correlation of 0.95 between a country’s HDI rank and GDP rank (2006). That’s an exceptionally high correlation, suggesting that the HDI isn’t measuring much more than the country’s level of GDP.

Wolfers created a graph using the 2006 data for GDP rank and HDI rank, while I provide for your viewing pleasure below.

Accessing online journal articles from off-campus

Hello Students:

Some of you have e-mailed inquiring about how to access the subscription-only online journals from off-campus. With the roll-out of the library’s new “fast search” feature, it’s now as easy as 1-2-3…4-5!

Here’s what you do:

1) Go to the library’s website and check that the “Fast Search” has been selected in the search area (it should be the default).

2) Type the name of the article you’re seeking in the appropriate place (see pic below) and click “Search.”

3) A new browser window will open. If you see the name of the article, click the appropriate link (inside the orange rectangle in the picture below):

Continue reading

Tips for Students on Writing Good Papers

Henry Farrell, who teaches political science at George Washington University, has posted an essay with tips for students writing political science papers. There are some important insights, such as “cut to the chase”, “organize, organize, organize”, and “avoid data dumps.” In my opinion, his most important tip (and this would also apply to examinations) is “read the requirements for the assignment.” If you’re unsure about the requirements, or there is something you don’t understand, seek clarification from your professor/instructor. The whole essay can be found here:


The face of Statelessness–Canadian Style

Last week I asked if all the world’s residents have citizenship. We discovered that the answer is `no’ and that there are approximately 15 million  stateless persons worldwide.  On the way to work this morning, I was listening to the CBC program The Current, which reported on the peculiar story of a young girl living in Belgium, whose father is a Canadian citizen, but who is currently not a citizen of any country. She does not fulfill the requirements of Belgian citizenship (which does not have universal jus soli citizenship rules), and as of last year falls through a loophole in Canadian citizenship law as of changes in the law that were enacted last year.

From the program:

Citizens of Nowhere – Ian Goldring

Chloe Goldring is 15 months old. She lives in Brussels, Belgium. And she has no citizenship. She is officially stateless. She has ended up in this situation because of a change made to the Canadian Citizenship Act in April of 2009.

Since then Canadians who were born abroad, in this case her father, are no longer able to pass on Canadian citizenship to their children, unless those children are born in Canada. The change was brought in to target parents born outside Canada who come here, obtain citizenship, and then return to their country of origin and pass along Canadian citizenship to children who may never have any intention of coming to Canada.

You may remember this became an issue in the summer of 2006 when there was a public outcry over Canada’s move to rescue Lebanese Canadians during the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon that summer. Well that is the change that Chloe Goldring has been swept up in.

Chloe’s father Ian Goldring is a Canadian who lives in Brussels.