Tag Archives: politics

How many countries?

August 5th, 2016

How many countries

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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10 Facts about the now defunct Trump University

March 5th, 2016

trump

With Donald Trump taking center stage in the upcoming Presidential Elections, stories of his now defunct Trump University have been resurrected and making the rounds in the news. In this week’s blog we offer you a few facts on the Trump University and a pending lawsuit filed by NY State Attorney General’s office.

1. Trump University was founded in 2004 as an online operation. Mr. Trump made an initial investment of about $2 million and based the business in the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan.  The day-to-day operations were managed by the Trump Organization and its affiliates.

2. Trump University was not an actual university but rather consisted of seminars promising lessons in real-estate investing.

3. The sales pitch was for potential students to attend a free 90-minute orientation after which they were encouraged to sign up for a three-day seminar at the cost of $1,495.

 

4. Students who enrolled at the three-day seminar were told they would earn six figure incomes in a year just for working five to seven hours a week. They were also told that Mr. Trump frequently dropped by at the seminars to share success tips, which students say did not happen.

5. Students who finished the three-day seminar were advised to register for the next level, known as the Elite mentorship and apprenticeship programs for additional costs of up to $35,000.

6. As early as 2005, the New York State Department of Education warned Trump University that it was operating an unlicensed educational institution in violation of state law, according to the investigation.

7. New York educational regulators said it was misleading and illegal for the company to call itself a university.In 2010, at the insistence of New York education regulators, Trump changed the name of his school to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

8. In 2014, a New York state judge ruled that the company had operated illegally by not meeting state licensing requirements for education providers.

9. The ruling was part of an ongoing lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which also alleges that the company and its spokesman, Mr. Trump, made false and deceptive claims to students. As many as 7,000 people across the country bought the sales pitch, spending an estimated $40 million on the seminars offered by Trump University.

10. According to Mr. Schneirderman’s office, in 2009, an ad that was published at least 170 times promised students would “learn from Donald Trump’s handpicked instructors, and that participants would have access to Trump’s real estate ‘secrets.’ ” However, an investigation by Mr. Schneiderman’s office found this to be the contrary. Most of the seminars were found to have been run by motivational speakers and not instructors, one of whom was a manager at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Update: On March 2, 2016, a state appeals court gave a green light to a civil fraud claim against the GOP front-runner and his Trump University. In a unanimous ruling, a four-judge panel of the state Appellate Division said the state attorney general’s office is “authorized to bring a cause of action for fraud” — despite Mr. Tump’s claims to the contrary. To be continued…

Sources:

Inside Higher Education: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/03/01/what-does-trump-university-show-about-state-regulation-profit-schools?utm_content=buffer089d4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=IHEbuffer

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/27/us/donald-trump-marco-rubio-trump-university.html?_r=0

CBS This Morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ_IEvczweY

The New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/court-rules-g-trump-university-fraud-lawsuit-proceed-article-1.2548924

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Morels and the Mujahideen

January 29th, 2015

How is the spread of militant, jihadist, Salafist Islamic fundamentalists like the seemingly random outcroppings of mushrooms in a forest? And why on earth would anyone ask that question!

mushrooms

Mujahideen

Visualize the Internet as a literal, humongous net cast over the planet, which conducts information in a constant active, never-ending stream, bringing people and ideas together and creating a fertile ground for innovation and the realization of inspired and life-changing concepts, resulting in new innovative technologies ad infinitum.

Now visualize a mushroom. You probably see a small seemingly insignificant sedentary little cap, minding it’s own business on the forest floor, on a log, or wherever. Actually, it’s anything but that. Mushrooms are the “fruiting” body of fungi, and fungi grow via a vast network of underground branching tube-like structures, called hyphae, which mesh together into a substance that appears similar to a spider web, which is collectively known as mycelium. There seems to be “intelligence” to this mycelium– when only one of these hyphae comes into contact with a food source, the mycelium has the ability to mobilize its energy to actually grow towards and exploit it. This mycelium can actually communicate with the mycelium of another species of mushroom fungus and pass along information, including information about toxic or hazardous substances previously encountered.

Not only that, but this massive network of subterranean mycelium, carry nutrients, which are vital to the propagation of almost every plant ecosystem on the planet. So…now you’re asking, what in the world does all this have to do with the Salafist, fundamental jihadists?

Well, think of the seemingly random explosions of horrific, deadly violence around the globe committed by Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda / Taliban, ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Mujahideen as mushrooms. Beginning to get the picture? And we, the Christian, Jewish, and other “non-believers” are the food source.

It’s not quite that simple, or bleak, but we must begin to examine how we–I’ll say the Western world; have had a good hand in fertilizing this rampant growth.

Fertilizer

There are a number of ways in which we very effectively fertilize this mycellium of terrorists. For centuries now, the Western world has destabilized vast regions of the world, with predominantly Muslim populations, through endless wars, aggravating already existing tribal enmity and then failing to thoughtfully, and responsibly integrate the resulting refugees and immigrants fleeing those conflicts into our societies.

The most recent, horrific terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by offshoots of radicalized, nihilistic, Islamist Jihadist militant groups: The Peshawar school massacre, committed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), the Boko Haram, (translates to,” Western education is forbidden”) massacre in Baka, Nigeria, the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher Market massacres in Paris, Al Qaeda, the ISIL beheadings of foreign journalists and other barbarous acts committed against their own people in Syria and all over the Middle East.

It is a very precarious time and we must be very thoughtful, and consequent before we jump to react to such terrorist acts and risk becoming the terrorists ourselves. Their fundamentalist intolerance cannot be allowed to ignite our own fears, which unchecked, lead to intolerance. We must educate ourselves, and act from a place of big-hearted compassion, otherwise, what good will come from labeling the 1.6 billion Muslims as the “other” and perpetuating a climate of fear and aggression.

Not one entire group of people must be condemned for the fanatic heinous murderers committing crimes in the name of their God. We need to sit back, breath deeply and take a moment of sobriety to rethink our ideas and learn about what Islam is, and not form opinions and foster emotions based on headlines in the media, or psychotic rants by newscasters, spouting an hysterical Western version shout-outs for jihad, (as did Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro last week, and chillingly, she’s a judge.)

This vitriolic rhetoric only serves to fuel the fearful fires of hatred (think meat tenderizer) and a general misconception about Islam itself. The tragic aftermath is to turn an uninformed general worldwide population against “Islam” and make the lives of the most, peace-loving Muslims, exponentially harder and more dangerous.

I would say that education is the key factor. Both a lack of education about Islam in our cultures, and the forfeiting of foresight, by not realizing that in order to clean up the mess we’ve created, our societies have to create viable, equal education for the refugees and immigrants among us. Quality education is integration in our new multi-cultural and ever changing societies.

Firstly a lack of understanding and education about what Islam (the fastest growing religion in the world) is and what it means to be a Muslim might be a good place to start. The explosion of global anti-Muslim hysteria is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we denigrate and cast out hateful rhetoric, the larger we make the target.

All Muslims are not fundamentalist, murdering jihadists. In fact Muslims believe that the imitation of their prophet Muhammad helps one to know and be loved by God: one lives in constant remembrance of God. Sounds beautiful right?

When my husband and I recently spent 14 days in Istanbul on vacation, we did think twice before booking our trip. The ISIS radicals were fully engaged in battle with the Kurdish troops in Kobani, and we checked in with the “situation” in Istanbul in regards to expected, possibly violent, Kurdish protests against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his lack of action to support the Kurdish in Kobani.

We’re not comfortable with his “covert” acceptance and constantly changing stance in regard to the ISIS militants, as well as his listing towards the right, in his thinly veiled desire to reverse the broad legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey, and return Turkey to an Islamic state. But…we decided that is was now or possibly never, and decided to not venture southeast towards the Syrian border.

It was on this trip, that I was led to explore the relationship of Islam to both Christianity and Judaism during a visit to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for approximately 400 years (1465–1856); during this time it was also the center of the Islamic world. In one of the rooms, the Destimal Chamber a number of sacred relics were on display, and boy, was I surprised! Long ques, equal to those waiting to get into the Treasury where the insanely opulent jewels of the sultans were on display, filed by vitrines containing religious pieces sent to the Sultans: Abraham’s Pot, Joseph’s Turban, Moses’ Staff, David’s Sword, scrolls belonging to John, and Muhammad’s footprint. I didn’t understand, why were these things here?

Then we went to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque (the Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent) where they had glass covered informational pages about Islam, a sort of religious breakdown on display in several languages. Admittedly uninformed, I was shocked to read that Muhammad was a direct descendant of Ishmael, the eldest son of prophet Abraham, and that Qur’an has a chapter named after Mary, the mother of Jesus. Huh? Apparently Muslims respect and admire Mary as the ideal of womanhood, (which is good, because she presides over the highest dome in the Hagia Sofia)…but really, what was all this about?

I decided to educate myself and found out that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all trace their spiritual origins to the prophet Abraham, they comprise the Abrahamic religions. They all believe in one God, and that one God blessed Abraham the common Patriarch: His descendents being: Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, who as prophets, brought his revelations to humankind. Islam also recognizes and respects all the prophets––the riddle of the relics was solved!

So what’s up with everyone fighting and killing each other in the name of God, when they all share the same God?

For the answer to that, we have to look back to the second half of the 19th century, when the Salafist movement, (a movement, sect, or a school of thought within Islam,) surfaced as a reaction to the spread of “European ideas,” and which is based on its commitment to exposing the roots of this “modernity” within the Muslim civilization.

The Salafists believe that they represent the epitome of Islamic practice, in its purest form, as they most closely adhere to the original teachings of their prophet Mohammad, as the messenger of God, (analogous to the Christian fundamentalists in their “literal” adherence to the exact letter of the Bible.) According to the Salafists, living one’s life by fulfilling these divine injunctions is the will of God, and the imitation of Muhammad is tantamount, thus there is no room for any diversion from this path. To open the way to any form of Western thinking within Islam is to commit a sin, worthy of death.

After the invasion of Afghanistan there has been a rise in Salafists committed to radical jihad, aided and abetted by the departing Soviet troops defeated in 1989, who left behind a massive amount of weapons and arms and munitions. After the Soviets were so successfully expelled from Afghanistan, several radical Salafists seized upon this defeat of the Soviet “Crusaders,” the non-believers trying to modernize Muslim culture, to support the call to arms in the form a jihad. The fundamentalist mycelium-Mujahideen feasted on the victory, blossoming into a major network throughout the Muslim world. Then Osama Bin-Laden came to power, 9/11 happened, then we added more fertilizer with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…and things began to go nuclear.

The resulting rise in Islamic terrorist activity has fueled an ugly, virulent anti-Muslim hysteria, a backlash of equally, potentially dangerous fundamentalists all over Europe, who are temporarily benefiting from the recent horrific events in Paris last week.

I live in Germany, where every Monday, lunatic fringe right-wing extremists rally together in Dresden under the banner of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West), run by a convicted criminal, who fears that Islam will overrun his picture perfect idea of the “real” Germany. Yuckily, scarily and very, very unbearable ideas for most Germans in the 21st century–considering their history. Thank god the majority of Germans think this is insane as well

In France, the National Front led by Marie Le Pen, whose party recently entered into alliance with the Party for Freedom, (PVV) in the Netherlands led by Geert Wilder, have “cashed–in” winning supporters and converting minds and hearts of the uneducated fearful masses. The same is true for the Progress Party in Norway, whose leader is a woman, Siv Jensen, who is also Norway’s Minister of Finance.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg was quoted in an article in the New York Times in January 2014, “Public discussion of Islam is less about “their beliefs or their color; it’s more about lack of education and need for training,” Ms. Solberg said in an interview. Given Norway’s generous asylum policies and social welfare system, the new government wants to reduce abuse and ensure, she said, that “you always earn more money by working than by not working — it’s a bigger social issue here than immigration.”

Ah yes, now we’re getting somewhere.

Weed Killer

What if the mycellium of terror suddenly formed mushrooms simultaneously, and they all sprouted at once, thrusting out spores into every city with a sizeable immigrant population?

The only possible way to prevent this is not with angry warrior aggression, or by developing technologically superior weapons, thereby fueling the fires, fertilizing the ground, but by improving the quality of education for everyone.

No more tax shelters for the 1%, and offshore corporate accounts, channel those billions into education so that our cities don’t further degrade into rampant Blade Runneresque noir scapes of crime and daily terror. No place in the world will be “safe” for the absurdly wealthy offspring of those 1%, did they ever stop to think of that while hoarding their billions?

Amid the new economic austerity measures imposed by the EU, most European cities are going to have a hard time improving schools in order to create the needed opportunities for disenfranchised, impoverished immigrant populations. All over Europe increasing social and economic marginalization is driving young people towards extremism.

In France, the banlieus, basically ghettos inhabited by immigrant families, have such a high unemployment rate for youths that hopelessness is a matter of daily life and the factor leaving, especially young men, vulnerable, depressed and angry.

Mostly Muslims, these youths already feel shunned, set aside and stuck between worlds. They wind up committing theft and burglary, just to have a little money, or power, maybe to help feed their poor families and wind up being thrown in jail, alongside the extremely radicalized Islamic Imam proselytizers, who lie in wait, to get their hearts and minds, waiting to take control of their destinies to do their twisted version of jihad. These young, mostly men, are easy targets for extremist Islamic groups, who offer them a sense of purpose and belonging. In the U.S we’ve been dealing with this for decades among the immigrant Latino, Chinese and Vietnamese communities as well as the impoverished and marginalized African American communities.

All three young men responsible for the attacks in Paris; Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, grew up in these banlieus.

There are minor “trade schools” in place, but how many un-employed mechanics can a society support?

A recent New York Times article quoted the deputy mayor for education in the Paris suburb of Colombes, Leila Legmara,”… We are not treating the problem at its roots. Of course we need more security and resources to fight terrorism. But we also need to address what it is within our society that is capable of producing monsters.”

Great, finally at least someone is getting down to the roots, and hopefully, we will all learn how to deal with them.

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

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Tinariwen, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer

November 13th, 2014

Tinariwen-Emmaar
Tinariwen’s Emmaar (2014)

Tinariwen, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer sounds like a gruesome scene from the Kel Tamashek uprising of 1963 in northern Mali that saw the death of messianic Tinarwen frontman Ibrahim Ag Alhabib’s parents when he was a small boy. But in fact, it’s actually the group’s playbill for the North America tour for their latest album, Emmaar.

When The Harpoonist (Shawn Hall) and the Axe Murderer (Matt Rogers) walked onstage last weekend at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex to open for Tinariwen, not many people knew who these two guys from Vancouver were. The duo’s name apparently references the blues harp(oon) from a line in country music singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson’s hit, “Me and Bobby McGee”: “I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana.” “Harp” being slang for the harmonica (Shawn Hall); “axe” is a common term for the guitar (Matthew Rogers). These two bust out the sounds of a full live blues and roots band playing their respective instruments while stomping and tapping out beats with both pairs of feet on kick drum, snare, foot tambourine, and shaker. (Check out the video at the end of this post to see them in action.) It’s no wonder why Tinariwen booked this Vancouver duo as the opening set for their entire North American tour.

HAM-160x160
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer

Perhaps it’s that DIY nature with which Saharan ‘desert blues’ band Tinariwen feels some kinship. As the story goes, Tinariwen was founded in 1979 by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib while he, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, and Alhassane Ag Touhami were scraping by in the Algerian refugee camp of Tamanrasset. The following year, they answered Muammar el-Quaddafi’s call to create a Saharan regiment of Tuareg fighters and received infantry training while performing their soulful dirges and finding fans amongst other sympathizers seeking to establish a single independent Tuareg republic. Their anthemic music became “the soundtrack for Tuareg independence and reconciliation,” spread via bootleg cassette tapes by their Kel Tamashek fans who began to call them “Kel Tinariwen,” derived from the word ténéré, which means ‘of the deserts.’

Ibrahim-Ag-Alhabib-300x195
Tinariwen founder, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib

After the Tamanrasset Accords of 1991, Tinariwen left the military to fully devote themselves to music. Ibrahim says, “I had long ago realized that I was a musician and poet, and that these were better weapons with which to achieve what I wanted.” Performing their songs in mostly minor keys with static harmonies, like “Tahalamot,“ guitarist Abdallah layers consistent modal rhythms over a signature bass key, painting a vast ever-changing desert landscape.

Tinariwen’s blues sound is one of ‘assouf,’ expressing a deep loneliness and eternal yearning. Due to the political instability of Mali, they remain nomads, unable to return to their native homeland for risk of incarceration or worse. Now a multi-generational collective of musicians and songwriters, their timeless music sings of exile, struggle, and division, but also of “the beauty of the desert, the sky, the lands, our blues, and the nostalgia of an old time.”

Tinarwen-Joshua-Tree-300x199
Exiled from their native Mali, Tinariwen recorded their latest album, Emaar in Joshua Tree, CA.

Raised on North African protest music, Berber traditions, and raï music, Tinariwen were exposed in the military camps to the Western sounds of Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, and the “guitar-driven anthems of Jimi Hendrix and the American blues.” Also hugely influential was Malian bluesman Ali Farka Touré, who reinterpreted native kora and djéli (griot) music for electric guitar, creating a sound reminiscent of the Mississippi delta blues. Most African slaves brought over to the U.S. were originally from the Sahel region and kept the musical, cultural, and spiritual traditions of their native homelands, which would pave the way for the early twentieth century American blues tradition.

Bassist Eyadou Ag Leche says, “I’m told that a lot of the Africans who went to North America came from West Africa, from our part of the world. So it’s all the same connection. I think that any people who have lived through something that is very hard, feel this [assouf], this pain, this longing. That is what will make [our] music sound similar to each other.”

Tinariwen perform “Islegh Taghram Tifhaman” from their album, Emmaar.

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer perform “Love Me ‘fore Ya Leave Me.”

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

toms

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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Free Education in Germany: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions

October 9th, 2014

Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with German Students
Photo credit: AP/Michael Probst

Germany recently announced tuition free higher education across the country for its citizens and international students attending state/public institutions. This news has stirred many here in the U.S. who resorted to posting comments and rants on various social media platforms mocking Germany for its free higher education policy. Dubious and untrusting of anything that is “free,” many posted forecasts of a dark future for any country embarking on the same path; from the loss of academic freedom, to indoctrination, and higher taxes positioning government in charge of dictating curriculum.

Here is a sampling of the comments I gleaned from various online blogs covering Germany’s news:

“Nothing is free. The taxpayers will foot the bill and pay higher taxes because of it. Once tax dollars start paying for college tuition, then the government can start dictating what is taught, and what can’t be taught. I really hope this works out for Germany, but I’m having serious doubts that it will.”

“Actually in the U.S. professors have tons of choice in what they can teach. Whether you believe it or not now, after “free” college is established indoctrination will be a matter of course.”

“I agree with you. Nothing is free and the government dictating what is taught is not an education, it’s a propaganda machine. In addition, deciding lifestyles for your citizens at 14 years of age…no thank you! I’ll pay for my own education!”

Lest we have forgotten, higher education in the U.S., though not 100% free, until the mid-1970’s was very affordable and accessible. The GI Bill and federal grants helped students with the cost of tuition without being burdened with student loan debts on graduation. However, double-digit inflation, an oil embargo, and a sluggish economy replaced federal grants (main source of funding for students from both poor and middle-class households) with private loans. You can read more on this in a blog I wrote on the High Cost of Higher Education.

Let us dispel myths, paranoia and inaccuracies and instead of mocking tuition free education, learn a few facts on the German higher education system:

• About 1.98 million students are currently studying at German institutions of higher education. Almost half of them (48%) are women.

• A total of 376 higher education institutions offer study programs, including 102 universities, 170 universities of applied sciences and 69 private colleges. In recent years, the number of foreign students has significantly increased.

• The German higher education system has many different types of institutions offering diversity to students to select the best course for their needs. Students interested in education with more emphasis on practical knowledge will pursue studies at a university of applied sciences; those interested in theoretical research, attend a university and so forth.

• In total, there are approximately 9,500 different undergraduate programs and a further 6,800 postgraduate degree programs on offer at higher education institutions throughout Germany.

• Due to the federal system in Germany, responsibility for education, including higher education, lies entirely with the individual federal states. The states are responsible for the basic funding and organization of higher education institutions. Each state has its own laws governing higher education. Therefore, the actual structure and organization of the various systems of higher education may differ from state to state.

• Higher education institutions in Germany have a certain degree of autonomy in matters concerning organization and any academic issues. In the last two decades this autonomy has been increasingly broadened to include issues related to human resources and budget control.

It doesn’t appear that institutions of higher education in Germany have had their autonomy usurped by their government. Or, higher taxes have lessened opportunities for its citizens and international students to pursue higher education. In fact, it is the contrary.

We are misdirected if we believe it is government that will meddle in our institutions of higher education. We need to be more concerned about corporate influences and private funds from the likes of the conservative billionaire industrialists, who pledge to donate large sums to publicly funded universities on the condition that they are given the right to interfere in faculty hiring to influence curriculum and promote programs that are in line with their political and economic agenda.

A heated debate is currently underway in Colorado where high school students are protesting a revision in their Advanced Placement History curriculum proposed by a few conservative members of the School Board. The students are demanding to be taught history that in their words is not “white-washed” while the School Board is digging its heels to have the curriculum revised so that the history taught is from the American perspective. According to a report: “The elective course has been criticized by the Republican National Committee and the Texas State Board of Education, which has told teachers not to teach according to the course’s new framework. Being taught for the first time this year, it gives greater attention to the history of North America and its native people before colonization and their clashes with Europeans, but critics say it downplays the settlers’ success in establishing a new nation.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/02/colorado-school-board-history_n_5924898.html

The past and recent events prove one thing; that we need to be equally concerned at the power and influence private donors and political partisan groups wield on our education system as much as our fear of government meddling and indoctrination.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO, ACEI

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

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20 Interesting Facts about Mongolia

April 17th, 2014

Mongolian_Flag

Mongolia lies in central Asia between Siberia on the north and China on the south. It is a land full of vast emptiness, nearly twice the size of Eastern Europe and with a population of 3,226,516 (2013 est.), it is the least populous country in the world. It is slightly larger than Alaska. The name Mongol comes from a small tribe whose leader, Ghengis Khan, began a conquest in the 13th century that would eventually encompass an enormous empire stretching from Asia to Europe, as far west as the Black Sea and as far south as India and the Himalayas. After his death the empire was divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these broke apart in the 14th century. The Mongols eventually retired to their original steppe homelands and in the late 17th century came under Chinese rule of the Manchu dynasty which divided Mongolia into Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia.

Mongolia won its independence in 1921 with Soviet backing and a communist regime was installed in 1924. The modern country of Mongolia, however, represents only part of the Mongols’ historical homeland; more ethnic Mongolians live in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China than in Mongolia. The State of Mongolia was formerly known as Outer Mongolia. It contains the original homeland of the historic Mongols, whose power reached its zenith during the 13th century under Kublai Khan. Outer Mongolia became a democratic democracy in 1990. Inner Mongolia continued to remain under Chinese control.


Here are some interesting facts about this landlocked country:

1. Chinese history dating back more than 2,000 years records periodic attacks and plunders of its farmlands, villages and town by China by marauding nomadic tribes from the west, which led to its construction of the Great Wall around 200 B.C. to protect itself from incursions. But by the 14th century, the Mongolian kingdom was in serious decline, with invasions from a resurgent China and internal conflict and warfare. The Great Wall is in Inner Mongolia.

Great_Wall

2. Ulaanbaatar (population 949,000) is the capital of Mongolia and its largest city. As a nomadic city, the capital used to move three times a year! The name means “Red Hero.” A 131-foot statue of Genghis Khan sits on the steppe about an hour’s drive from Ulaanbaatar.

Genghis_Khan

3. The official language is Mongolian (90%). Other languages spoken include Turkic and Russian.

4. Based on 2011 estimates, of the total population, 97.4% are literate (96.8% male and 97.9% female). There was a time when education in Mongolia was managed by Buddhist monasteries and only monks had access to it. Today, Mongolia has 178 colleges, universities and teacher training colleges, of which 42 are public. The National University of Mongolia (established in 1942), situated in Ulaanbaatar, was the country’s first modern institution of higher education.

5. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture (MSTEC) is the central administrating body that formulates nationwide education policy and sets the standard for each level of formal education beginning with nursery education through university higher education.

6. Mongolia has a parliamentary system of government. The current president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, attended both the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard University in the U.S.

Tsakhiagiin_Elbegdorj
President Tsakhiaglin Elbegdorj

7. The ethnic makeup of the people is: 94.9% Mongol (predominantly Khalkha), 5% Turkic (of which Kazak is the largest group), and 0.1% other (including Chinese and Russian).

8. Religion: 53% Buddhist Lamaist, 3% Islam, 2.2% Christian, 2.9 % Shamanist, 0.4% other, 38.6% none (2010 est.)

9. Mongolia’s natural resources include: oil, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, wolfram, fluorspar, gold, silver, iron.

10. Mongolia’s agriculture includes: wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops, sheep goats, cattle, camels, and horses.

11. Mongolia stands an average of 5,800 feet above sea level.

Mongolian_Mountains

12. Despite its landlocked status, Mongolia has many salt lakes. Mongolian lakes and rivers contain more than fifty unique fish species.

13. Mongolia has the oldest National Park in the world. Lying just South of Ulaanbaatar the Bogd Khan National Park dates its origin to 1778 — it predates Yellowstone by over 100 years. Established by the Mongolian government in 1778, it was originally chartered by Ming Dynasty officials in the 1500s as an area to be kept off limits to extractive uses, protected for its beauty and sacred nature.

Bogd_Khan_National_Park
Bogd Khan National Park

14. The Gobi Desert, the largest in Asia and the fifth largest in the world, is in Mongolia. The Gobi was once a sea and now filled with marine fossils. Roy Chapman Andrews made the first discovery of dinosaur eggs in the Gobi. His exploits inspired the creation of Indiana Jones. Many dinosaur fossils still lie exposed.

Gobi_Desert

15. Genghis Khan could not read or write, but he commissioned the first Mongolian writing system – the Mongolian script. Since the Soviet period, Mongolians have used the Cyrillic script. In Mongolian, the verb comes last. If you want to know whether a Mongolian loves or hates you, you have to wait till the end of the sentence!


script

16. Mongol Khuumii or throat singing involves producing two simultaneous tones with the human voice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0djHJBAP3U

17. The three most popular sports are horse racing, archery, and Mongolian wrestling.

Mongolian_Wrestling

18. Animals native to Mongolia include:

a) Snow leopards: quarter of the world’s population of snow leopards live in Mongolia.

snow_leopard

b) The two-humped camel: survives temperatures from minus to plus fifty degrees Celsius!

camel

c) The Mongolian Takhi horse is the last wild horse in the world. Mongolians do not name their horses; they refer to them by color.

Takhi_Horse

and,

d) Eagles which are kept as pets by nomads. The Kazakh minority hunt with them.

Mongolian_Eagle

19. Mongolia’s diet is primarily meat and dairy products. The local alcoholic drink is airag, fermented mare’s milk.

20. In the streets of Ulaanbaatar you’ll find a large number of so-called MobiPhones. These are wireless phones operated by phone vendors who charge users 100 tugriks per minutes. The phones are about two times the size of a regular phone but you’ll see them at small kiosks around the city.

Bonus fun fact:
When walking down a street in a Mongolian town or city if you accidentally bump into a person or brush past them, don’t be surprised if the other person reaches for your hand. Go ahead and shake their hand or even just touch it to apologize and express that it was indeed an accident and not intentional. The same gesture applies if your leg accidentally hits someone else’s under the table. Remember to shake hands!

Sources:
http://www.mongolia-travel-guide.com/mongolia-facts.html#ixzz2yz0Oztou
http://www.factmonster.com/country/mongolia.html
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mg.html
http://listverse.com/2013/10/10/10-amazing-facts-about-the-mongols/

ACEI

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
www.acei1.com

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Greece: Teachers’ strike, attacks on public education & privatization

September 26th, 2013

Like most of you, I’ve been watching the events in Greece unfolding from the sidelines. We have all been following the economic breakdown of the country and threats by the EU to rescind Greece’s EU member status. As Greece’s economy continues to spin out of control, giving rise to right wing fascist movements proudly expressing their xenophobia by blaming the country’s economic collapse on immigrants, another target and casualty has been the country’s public education. Political unrest and economic instability in Greece has led the government to impose draconian measures that have severely impacted the country’s public education system. The drastic steps taken by the government has led to ongoing strikes by Greek teachers since September 16th protesting attacks on public education.

Greece

The situation in Greece is dire. Teachers and education staff as well as students in Greece are facing a situation that has dramatically impacted the quality of education in the country.

According to International Education, the following are some of the highlights of the situation:

• There are 16,000 fewer teachers in secondary education, a 20 per cent reduction since June 2013
• Over 100 Vocational Education Schools are closing down http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/news_details/2624
• 2,500 Vocational Education Teachers are being suspended, just one step before dismissal
• In 2009, there was 33 per cent reduction of spending on education which is expected to reach 472 per cent in 2016
• There is a compulsory transfer of 5,000 teachers to primary education and administration posts
• The government has passed a new law on education without a dialogue establishing a harsh, examination-centered system in all forms/grades of upper secondary education forcing students to seek private tuition outside school and leading to school dropouts.

Strong words from ETUCE:

The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) has been observing the developments in Greece and has issued some harsh words to the government. On 19-20 September, 2013, the Director of the EI region, the ETUCE, Martin Rømer, went to Athens to support Greek colleagues. The ETUCE issued a statement on September 18th that the “Greek education system (is) on the brink of collapse”. The ETUCE declared that by 2016, Greece will cut its education spending by 47% and called on the government of Greece to be more inclusive in its dialogue with social partners in the education section and abandon its authoritarian approach by encouraging an open forum for discussion.

There has also been a surge in privatization of vocational education in Greece which is another subject protested by the ETUCE. The absence of free, high qualify public education with equal access is seen by the ETUCE as an obstacle to bettering the lives of the people and promotion of a prosperous society. The government’s sweeping privatization plans is not only affecting the country’s education system but also its public radio and television media. According to a report by EI: “Last June, Greece woke up without public radio or television services. On 11 June, the government announced it was going to shut down the radio and TV services of the state broadcaster ERT, sacking 2,500 employees, and becoming the only member state of the European Union to abolish the public service of broadcasting.” This is similar to waking up one morning here in the U.S. and finding NPR, PRI, and PBS have been shut down.

Interesting to note is that virtually all the top-performing countries on international education measures have strong teacher unions, including Finland, Japan, Canada, and Australia. However, in Greece, the government is working toward dismantling the teachers’ unions threatening teachers and school administrators with imprisonment if they choose to exercise their right to strike. The EI is calling on its members to support and “actively show their solidarity” with the Greek educators. The world is watching.


The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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