Listen to Your Elders, petits cons

Following the news from far away can sometimes distort reality. Granted reality can be distorted from any distance; therefore it is our duty to cross-check given facts to hopefully get a better ‘bigger picture’.

When the NYT reported about French youth voting for Le Front National, we must not forget that they actually voted en masse for another candidate (Jean-Luc Mélanchon) who is now out of the game [for actual numbers, look at the second table or see below]. Who will ces jeunes vote for in the second round of the French 2017 presidential election? We will know soon enough.

sociologie_electeurs_2017Prez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, à la Georges Brassens, I have an impartial message to that jeunesse: Listen to your elders who, unlike you, have been there and have done a little of that. Here is an article on past résistants and concentration camps survivors who, unsurprisingly, warned us against the party of ‘hate and exclusion’.

Article PDF version: Anciens_resistants_deportes_alertent_contre_extreme_droite (source: Le Monde, 30.04.2017)

Lecture Series at SRJC

Islamophobia: Islam in the American Imagination (a lecture)

Below are some references to some links, reading and listening materials that May Kosba referenced or used in the Islamophobia lecture.  
Videos: 
1. Yassmin Abdel Maguid: What does my headscarf mean to you? TED Talk (the video we didn’t have time to play during presentation.)
2. Mehdi Hassan: Islam is a peaceful religion – Oxford Union
3. Unity Production Foundations: American Muslims facts versus fiction: https://www.upf.tv/films/american-muslim-facts/ 
4. Jack Shaheen: Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people https://vimeo.com/56687715 

Books:

1. Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk.
2. Esposito, John L. and Ibrahim Kalin, Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century.
3. Cromer, Evelyn Baring, Modern Egypt, by the Earl of Cromer. 
4. GhaneaBassiri, Kambiz.  A History of Islam in America: From the New World to the New World Order.
5. Diouf, Sylviana A. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
6. Mamdani, Mahmood. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: American, The Cold War, And The Roots of Terror.
7. Said, Edward W. Orientalism.
Reports:
1. Rand Corporation: Building Moderate Muslim Networks http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2007/RAND_MG574.pdf
2. Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/religion/reports/2011/08/26/10165/fear-inc/
3. Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/religion/reports/2015/02/11/106394/fear-inc-2-0/
Articles:
1. Hatem Bazian, The Souls of Muslim Folk
2. Pamela Gellar, Litigation Jihad: Muslim Workers Sue Hertz Again, This Time for “Islamofauxbia”
3. Cheryl Benard, Five Pillars of Democracy: How the West Can Promote an Islamic Reformation http://www.rand.org/pubs/periodicals/rand-review/issues/spring2004/pillars.html
 
Organizations: (follow them on FB) 
1. The Bridge Initiative (Georgetown University) –  http://bridge.georgetown.edu/
2. Islamic Networks Group (ING) – https://ing.org/ 
3. Ta’leef Collective (Ustadh Usama Canon) – https://taleefcollective.org/

Le franc CFA, seule monnaie héritée d’un système colonial encore en rigueur dans le monde

Confusions autour d’un « impôt colonial » et du franc CFA

De nombreux articles en ligne relaient l’existence d’un « impôt colonial » exigé par la France sur les réserves financières de 14 pays africains. Décryptage.

LE MONDE | • Mis à jour le | Par Simon Auffret

Une vidéo publiée le 1er novembre 2016, vue plus de 1,5 million de fois sur Facebook et attribuée à la chaîne de télévision Vox Africa rapporte l’existence d’un « impôt colonial » français en Afrique :

« Vous ne le saviez peut-être pas, mais aujourd’hui encore, beaucoup de pays africains continuent de payer un impôt colonial en France, et ce malgré l’indépendance. (…) Quatorze pays africains sont obligés par la France à travers le pacte colonial de mettre 85 % de leur réserve à la Banque centrale de France. A savoir le Bénin, le Burkina Faso, la Guinée-Bissau, la Côte d’Ivoire, le Mali, le Niger, le Sénégal, le Togo, le Cameroun, la République centrafricaine, le Tchad, le Congo-Brazzaville, la Guinée-Equatoriale et le Gabon. »

Les informations sur cet impôt semblent provenir d’un premier article publié en janvier 2014 par le site anglophone Silicon Africa – rédigé par Mawuna Koutonin, par ailleurs auteur d’une tribune dans le journal anglais The Guardian en 2015. Régulièrement repris par de nombreux blogs ou des sites comme Mondialisation.ca (jugé non fiable dans le Décodex) ou Afrikmag, l’article mentionne une « dette coloniale sur les bénéfices de la colonisation française », même si son auteur concède avoir « à trouver plus de détails » sur les modalités du remboursement de cette dette.

Dans le paragraphe suivant cette mention, Mawuna Koutonin aborde la « confiscation automatique des réserves nationales » de ces pays par la France et donne alors des informations identiques à celles reprises deux ans plus tard dans la vidéo attribuée à Vox Africa. « Les pays africains doivent mettre en dépôt leur réserve monétaire nationale à la Banque centrale française », explique le texte.

POURQUOI C’EST FAUX

C’est la confusion entre l’évocation de cette « mise en dépôt » et d’un « impôt colonial » dans le même article qui semble être à l’origine de ces rumeurs.

L’existence d’une telle taxe n’a jamais été avérée : l’imposition d’un Etat par un autre est interdite par le droit international. En revanche, il peut s’agir de sanctions financières, qui peuvent consister en des gels d’avoirs ou en interdiction de mise à disposition de fonds, et non en un impôt. Concernant celles mises en place par la France – le plus souvent en accord avec l’Union européenne ou les Nations unies et sans lien avec la colonisation –, seules la Guinée-Bissau et la République centrafricaine apparaissent dans la liste des pays qui seraient concernés par cet « impôt colonial ».

Cependant, la régulation du franc CFA dans les quatorze pays africains cités – ainsi que du franc comorien dans l’archipel des Comores – occasionne bien la mise en dépôt d’une partie de leurs réserves de changes à la Banque de France.

Ancien « franc des colonies africaines françaises »

La progressive indépendance des colonies françaises en Afrique, entre 1954 et 1962, n’a pas remis en cause le système monétaire en place jusqu’alors : la « zone franc » instituée au début de la seconde guerre mondiale a continué à fonctionner malgré l’autonomie des gouvernements africains. Le franc CFA – d’abord intitulé « franc des colonies africaines françaises » – est depuis régi par quatre règles formalisées dans deux traités signés par ces quatorze pays et la France en 1959 et 1962 :

  • la France garantit la convertibilité illimitée du franc CFA et du franc comorien vers toute monnaie étrangère ;
  • le taux de parité avec la monnaie française – d’abord le franc, puis l’euro – est fixe ;
  • les transferts de capitaux à l’intérieur de la zone monétaire sont libres et gratuits ;
  • en contrepartie de ces trois premiers principes, 50 % des réserves de change des pays de la zone monétaire en franc CFA et 65 % des réserves du franc comorien sont déposés sur un compte d’opération de la Banque de France, à Paris.

L’Etat français ne fait pas usage des fonds déposés à la Banque de France. Ce système permet une forte confiance dans la stabilité de la monnaie africaine – pour les investisseurs, l’appui de l’euro est considéré comme une garantie monétaire. La gratuité des transferts facilite, en théorie, des échanges commerciaux plus nombreux dans les pays de la zone.

Cependant, la parité fixe avec l’euro soumet les Banques centrales du franc CFA à la politique monétaire de la Banque centrale européenne (BCE). L’Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA) et la Communauté économique et monétaire de l’Afrique centrale (Cemac), rassemblant les quatorze pays utilisant le franc CFA, sont contraintes de limiter l’inflation à moins de 2 % pour la UEMOA et 3 % et pour la Cemac, subissant les conséquences d’une monnaie forte, parfois peu adaptée au contexte régional et limitant l’investissement public.

« Cette stabilité monétaire aurait pu permettre de faire des réformes structurelles, expliquait au Monde l’ancien ministre togolais Kako Nubukpo, en septembre 2016. Ce n’est pas ce qui s’est produit. »

Les réserves de franc CFA à la Banque de France sont estimées à près de 10 milliards d’euros – 4,6 milliards pour la Cemac en janvier 2016 et 5,1 milliards pour l’UEMOA en décembre 2015. Pour les détracteurs du franc CFA, l’utilisation de ces réserves pourrait financer une partie du développement des pays africains concernés.

Symboliquement, le fort lien avec la Banque de France et la marge de manœuvre monétaire réduite des pays africains placent le sujet au centre des débats sur les liens à maintenir avec Paris. Le franc CFA est la seule monnaie héritée d’un système colonial encore en vigueur dans le monde – les billets sont d’ailleurs imprimés dans deux usines françaises avant d’être utilisés dans ces pays.

Le débat autour du franc CFA est donc différent d’un « impôt colonial » mis en place par la France dans ses anciennes colonies africaines. A travers l’UEMOA et la Cemac, ces pays sont libres de rompre le lien monétaire avec la France, pour organiser leur propre zone monétaire. « La France garantit la stabilité du franc CFA. Ce n’est pas sa monnaie, elle dépend de la volonté des Africains », déclarait le 30 septembre Michel Sapin, ministre français de l’économie et des finances, devant les ministres des finances de la zone franc.

SOURCE: http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2017/02/22/confusions-autour-d-un-impot-colonial-et-du-franc-cfa_5083833_4355770.html#0wwuHyvg8jfRZ31b.99

Global Competence in Experiential Learning

Article: Preparing Young Americans for a Complex World

Why is it so important to understand the world and the United States’ role in it today?

To begin with, the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. It’s estimated that one-fifth of jobs here are now tied to international trade. Moreover, many of the world’s major challenges — climate change, instability in financial markets, food and water insecurity, infectious diseases, migration, war and terrorism — are complex, interdependent and borderless. And with 40 million foreign-born residents, the United States is itself a global society with deep emotional ties to many nations and cultures. To survive and thrive, Americans have to learn how to manage greater complexity and collaborate across lines of difference.

During the Obama administration, the federal Department of Education recognized this imperative. Since 2012, its strategy has emphasized “global and cultural competency” as a core educational priority. In 2018, the Program for International Student Assessment, an international testing system that sets benchmarks for student performance in which the Department of Education participates, will add global competence as a new domain.

Nevertheless, many American schools have remained poorly prepared to deliver education in “global competence” (defined by American education leaders as “the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.”) The focus on traditional achievement and test scores has narrowed the delivery of instruction at a time when students need to learn to think more broadly. In the wake of “Brexit” and the election of Donald Trump (both far more popular among older voters than among the young) — and amid the global rise of nationalist movements — schools need to help students navigate the forces shaping the world they will inherit.

“What are the values, attitudes, skills and behaviors that must be cultivated if we’re going to live in a peaceful world?” asked Dana Mortenson, one of the -founders of World Savvy, an organization that has worked with thousands of teachers to integrate global competence into their lessons.

What’s needed is not just scoring well on standardized tests. “It’s an openness to new opportunities and ideas,” she added. “It’s a desire to engage. It’s self-awareness about culture and respect for different perspectives. It’s comfort with ambiguity. It’s the skill to investigate the world through questions. Empathy and humility are big pieces of all of it.”

Teaching these higher-level skills and attitudes might seem a tall order for schools that struggle with the basics. But World Savvy has seen impressive results among its partner schools, a majority of them in high-poverty areas. By raising the bar, teachers say, it becomes easier to engage students.

That’s been the experience of Carla Kelly, a special-education teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx who completed a Global Competence Certificate, a 15-month graduate-level program developed by World Savvy, the Asia Society and Teachers College at Columbia University.

“I saw that I needed to teach so that my students could contribute anywhere in the world,” Kelly said.

Kelly teaches a variety of subjects — including science, health, Spanish and life skills — in a school that has students and faculty members from 46 countries. She tries to integrate global competence concepts throughout her teaching.

In a unit on nutrition, for instance, students explore foods from around the world, graphing diets against life spans. “We compared diets high in starchy vegetables with places where they eat dark green or sea vegetables,” she said. The connections the students drew were powerful: They learned that people in China live longer than black people in America. They discovered that wherever the American diet was introduced, life spans declined.

In a unit on death, Kelly added an exploration of 11 funeral rites. Students learned that in Ghana, caskets are woven in the shape of objects beloved by the deceased; in South Korea, a person’s remains may be pressed into jewelry; and in Tibet, the mountaintop “sky burial” in the open allows a dead person’s soul to exit the body and be reincarnated. “I asked them to choose five rituals that would be a good fit with their values and cultures,” Kelly said. “I wanted them to make connections, to see how other cultures see life and death.”

“Every class that I’ve revised to include international representation,” she added. “I found that the students made more connections because they had a cultural anchor. And when I assessed what they retained I got content-specific vocabulary because it stuck, especially where they could see aspects of themselves and of people they knew. And the questions I got were better. I stopped getting ‘what’ questions and started getting ‘why’ questions, and ‘what if’ questions.”

At Mill Valley Middle School in California, two teachers, Rod Septka and Maggie Front, working with more affluent students, have seen this approach evoke a similar response. When the recent drought in California was daily news, they looked at how people in the state were conserving water. Then they examined how people cope with water-related problems in Bangladesh, Israel, Sudan, Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Peru and Syria. The students did extensive research and data gathering. One student was astonished that so many people around the world couldn’t just go into their kitchen and get water from a tap. Then the water crisis in Flint, Mich., became news, and they looked at water access in terms of wealth and race. That led a student who had been previously disengaged in school to discover her activist voice, said Front. And studying water rights brought her to a related concern: women’s rights.

“A lot of this helps the kids to understand what actions they can take toward solving world issues,” said Front. “It’s not the mission to create activism, but that tends to come out of it.”

In a culminating experience, the students, working in twos, carried five-gallon buckets of water for half a mile. They experimented with ways to do it efficiently, while minimizing spillage, and collected data about time, distance and volume to calculate how long it would take them to provide water for their family. “It was a lot harder than they thought,” said Septka. “It gave them a newfound appreciation for people who have to do things differently than we do.”

Each of these teachers described learning alongside the students, making mistakes, and improving their own global competence in the process.

For now, teacher education that is focused on this area remains at a nascent stage, says William Gaudelli, an associate professor at Teachers College at Columbia University who is a founder of the college’s Global Competence Certificate program and the author of a book titled “Global Citizenship Education: Everyday Transcendence.”

“By and large, our curriculum in the United States is a European great civilization approach — Plato to NATO — with some add-ons for cultural diversity,” he said. “But the condition we live in is fundamentally global. There’s literally nothing that’s not connected far beyond our borders. When people 100 years look back on our generation, they’re going to wonder: How did they know so much about what was going on and do so little to educate about it?”

For Mortenson, a core hurdle is moving beyond the “aversion to complexity in our education system.”

“The system was set up that way because the idea was to standardize knowledge,” she said. “That was appropriate when someone was being trained for a job they might hold for 40 or 50 years. But the world has changed in such profound ways that developing an understanding of complexity is paramount. Whatever the policy, the idea that things are simple, or black and white, and we can put a blanket on them and feel that it’s going to have the desired impact — that idea can become very dangerous.”

Author: David Bornstein

Source: NYT, click here

Test: Preparing Young Americans for a Complex World

Preparing Young Americans for a Complex World

Last year, the Council on Foreign Relations and National Geographic commissioned a survey to assess the global literacy of American college students. Over 1,200 people participated; less than 30 percent earned a passing grade. Below are six questions they included, each of which a majority of respondents answered incorrectly. See how you, or your students or children, do. (Answers below.)

1. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?

a) South Africa

b) Armenia

c) India

d) Indonesia

2. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?

a) Russian

b) Mandarin Chinese

c) English

d) Arabic

3. Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States, based on the total dollar value of goods and services?

a) Canada

b) China

c) Mexico

d) Saudi Arabia

4. Approximately what percentage of the United States federal budget is spent on foreign aid?

a) 1 percent

b) 5 percent

c) 12 percent

d) 30 percent

e) 40 percent

5. Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked? (select all that apply)

a) Canada

b) China

c) Japan

d) Mexico

e) North Korea

f) Russia

g) South Korea

h) Turkey

6. True or False: Over the past five years, the number of Mexicans leaving the United States and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the United States.

ANSWERS/REPONSES

*Answers, with percentage of respondents who gave the correct answer.

1. d (29 percent)

2. b (49 percent)

3. a (10 percent)

4. a (12 percent)

5. a (47 percent), c (28 percent), g (34 percent), h (14 percent)

6. True (34 percent)