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Tuareg people spread across five nations in the central Sahara have long sought independence. But last January rebels in Northen Mali began a movement for succession. (Photo via <a href="http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/homepage/"> magharebia.com</a>)
Tuareg people spread across five nations in the central Sahara have long sought independence. But last January rebels in Northen Mali began a movement for succession. (Photo via magharebia.com)

Until a couple weeks ago, you probably didn’t think much about Mali, the large, former French colony that spans North and West Africa.

I know I didn’t.

But then we started hearing about French troops invading northern Mali, and militants kidnapping foreign workers in Algeria and that this all somehow connected to the fall of Gaddafi in Libya.

So, what’s going on in North Africa, and why does it matter to us way over here in Seattle?

Public transportation in South Waziristan, in the lawless Tribal Areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Photo by Gohar Masud)
Public transportation in South Waziristan, in the lawless Tribal Areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Photo by Gohar Masud)

My friend and I squeeze in the front seat of the pickup.

We’re lucky–others are stuck in the back without seats in the freezing winter, getting tossed in the air when the driver crests the hills.

It was another one of those days when I would travel between my home in Dera Ismail Khan and South Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s lawless Tribal Areas, to sell medical supplies for Abbott Labs, an American healthcare company.

Vitamins, antibiotics, Ensure, Similac, Sensimil, Formance, Isomil; basic products you’d find in any hospital or pharmacy in Seattle were a godsend to families in Waziristan. Nobody seemed to care that they were produced by an American company.

By the time I finished my sales at 4pm it was pretty late to start the six-hour trip back home through the so-called no-man’s-land along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But I had a bad feeling. I just wanted to get out of there, despite the urging of locals who told us it wasn’t wise to travel during the night.

A late night game of street ball in Hong Kong (Photo by Marcus Hansson)
A late night game of street ball in Hong Kong (Photo by Marcus Hansson)

Once people discover that I speak some basic Chinese, the typical conversation I have here in Juijiang goes something like this:

A few standard queries regarding my nationality, occupation, marital status, salary, and maybe my opinions on Chinese food.

And then it happens.

“Which city are you from?”

“I am from Seattle.” I say, bracing myself for the nearly inevitable response.

“Ah, Seattle. The Chaoyinsu” (literally “Exceed Sound Speed” – the Supersonics).

Our hapless Seattleite protagonist now must explain how the Sonics have moved to another city, they are no longer called the Supersonics, and how Seattle sports fans constantly suffer from the trauma of having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

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Vancouver band Bad Fate (Photo by Steve Louie)
Bad Fate (Photo by Steve Louie)

The first few times my Seattle-based band went to Vancouver, Canada to play D.I.Y. gigs, the city felt perfect.

Apparently, our B.C. buds enjoyed non-stop kick-ass shows with cross-genre bills and supportive crowds free of haters and assholes.

That’s all true, but it’s a bit more complicated.

While Vancouver is beautiful, its rents are high, its daily provisions overpriced. When not enabling puritanical liquor policies and corporate nightlife, local government re-writes bylaws to keep underground music out of sight.

The labor board’s latest ad campaign patronizes: “Hipster is not a real job.” An older one lectures: “Chance your music will get you signed: 0.00563%.” Many of those I’ve met live in creaky communal houses.

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(Photo from Flickr by NYC Marines)
(Photo from Flickr by NYC Marines)

Imagine a thirteen year old boy trying to stay awake after walking more than three days in the desert. He’s so desperate for water that he drinks from a puddle where a dead body has fallen. 

Now imagine that seven years later that boy can’t get a legal job, go to college or visit his family, all because he’s an undocumented immigrant. 

That’s the story of Andres Rocete, and hundreds of thousands of children that are brought to the United States in hopes of a better future.

But finally, these youth see a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers them a chance to come out of the shadows to study and work legally in the US.

I talked to three friends who have applied for the program to find out how it’s working for undocumented youth and get tips for other young immigrants thinking of applying:

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Oliver Kotelnikov outside the Pike Place Market bakery that made piroshkies famous in Seattle. (Photo by Yvonne Rogell)
Oliver Kotelnikov outside the Pike Place Market bakery that made piroshkies famous in Seattle. (Photo by Yvonne Rogell)

Cheese.

Did your mouth just water? Yeah, mine too.

If anyone knows what cheese can do to people, it is Oliver Kotelnikov, owner of the Russian bakery Piroshky Piroshky in the Pike Place Market.

Apparently, cheese can make pastries fly off the shelves.

Cheese didn’t start it all, though.

Kotelnikov’s parents did, 20 years ago, on October 24th 1992.

”It was hectic. Everybody had their own idea of what was going to happen. It was immediately busy,” Kotelnikov recalls of the first day the bakery opened. “We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s a good sign when there’s just people.”

Frustrated with the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, Ryan Clark and Tim Andis founded Liberty Bottleworks. The company makes recycled aluminum bottles locally using mostly US machinery, materials and labor. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)
Frustrated with the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, Ryan Clark and Tim Andis founded Liberty Bottleworks. The company makes recycled aluminum bottles locally using mostly US machinery, materials and labor. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)

It was the middle of that dark week before the New Year. Christmas cookies were growing stale in tins on the counter and emails had begun to pile up again.

But the news of a plea for help from a forced labor camp in China cut through my holiday hangover.

The Oregonian reported that a Portland woman had found a note shoved into a Halloween decoration she bought at Kmart. The note, written partially in English, claims to describe conditions in a Chinese government labor camp where the Styrofoam “Totally Ghoul Graveyard Kit” was made.

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An ariel view of the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)
An ariel view of the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)

When I woke up New Years Day, I immediately regretted my plans to spend the day in a museum.

It was one of those uncharacteristically sunny winter days in Seattle. The kind where Seattleites crawl out of hibernation and the population of the city suddenly seems to double.

The sun glittered across Lake Union as I walked across the beautiful park that the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) now calls home. The museum moved from its original location in Montlake and, after a $60 million renovation, it’s more conveniently located and has space for its over 4 million historical artifacts.

But most importantly, with the move MOHAI has taken the opportunity to completely re-imagine the way Seattle’s story is told.

One by One, a local NGO founded by Heidi Breeze-Harris (right) to fight fistula, is one of a dozen small local organizations being honored today. (Photo courtesy SIF)

“There is something unique about Seattle,” says Michele Frix, Program Officer with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF).

“There’s a special quality here: that giving nature and that great interest in global causes.”

Want proof? Look no further than the 250 women and men filling the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom in downtown Seattle this morning.

They are here for SIF’s third annual Women in the World breakfast, honoring the work being done by local organizations for women around the world.

The breakfast has become SIF’s signature event. This year’s speakers include President of Oxfam America Raymond Offenheiser, Zimbabwean activist Glanis Changachirere, and Guatemala’s first female Attorney General, Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, (and the Globalist’s own Sarah Stuteville).

And the highlight is the announcement of seventeen grants worth a combined total of more than $200,000.

Today’s grantee organizations address issues like women’s health, literacy, finance, and leadership training. All are based in Washington; all operate on annual budgets of less than $2 million; and all work in developing countries.

So how do we do it? How does our region continue to lead the way in global aid and development? What’s the secret to these organizations’ success?

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My first attempt at chapli kabobs gets the Instagram treatment. (Photo by Brett Konen)

Until recently I knew next to nothing about Afghanistan, except that we’ve been at war there for more than half my lifetime.

From what I saw in the news I envisioned dry, desolate terrain throughout, with militants popping out from rocky outcroppings just long enough to shoot at a nameless target.

I knew this wasn’t accurate, but I didn’t have an alternate vision to replace it with.

So, with a little time on my hands after graduation, I decided to build one.

I could have tackled Afghan history, or economy. But there’s something much more tangible about food.  Rather than trusting text to be true, we can see, smell, touch, taste the food in front of us. It’s a primary source in the study of a culture we can’t absorb firsthand.

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Madhukar Chebrolum, of Redmond, swings at a pitch with his cricket bat during practice for the NW-iFusionIT team Thursday at Woodinville’s Northshore Sports Complex. (Photo by Colin Diltz/Seattle Times)

Behind a complex of warehouses in Woodinville, in a fluorescent-lit sports complex laid with AstroTurf and strung with netting, there’s a batsman stepping up to the pitch.

I’m at late-night cricket practice for The Moose, the traveling team of The Microsoft Cricket Club. It’s 9:00 on a work night but nobody’s going home anytime soon — they’ve got a national tournament in Florida to prepare for.

“Make sure you’re behind the net,” warns Vishwa Gaddamanugu, the gum-chewing coach. I’m standing alongside the automated pitching machine listening to the rhythm of pop, crack, thump as Gaddamanugu feeds ball after yellow dimpled ball into the machine to meet Vik Kothari’s long paddle-shaped bat.

I’m glad I heeded the warning a few moments later when a ball rings off the metal edge of the cage an inch right of my ear.

It is football season and I’ve made a promise to my Seahawks-loving husband to “really try and get into football” this year.

Joaquin Uy explains how Filipino activists were gunned down at this Seattle street corner in 1981. (Photo by Ansel Herz)

On Saturday, the Filipino activist group AnakBayan Seattle will celebrate its tenth anniversary as the first overseas chapter of the democratic youth organization, which is based in the Philippines.

But the history of Filipinos fighting for dignity and respect in Seattle reaches back further to over a century ago. This history isn’t taught in schools, and there are few, if any, public monuments to its impact.

On a rainy November afternoon, Joaquin Uy, one of the founding members of AnakBayan Seattle, showed how the struggles of Filipino writers, poets, workers, and community organizers are woven into this city’s brick and concrete. The past came alive as Uy guided us on a historical tour from the International District, to a dilapidated downtown street corner, to the steps of King County Courthouse, and finally to a hilltop Queen Anne cemetery after dark. To learn this history, watch this video of the tour below.

Garcia (left) celebrates with fellow UW students Jessica Oscoy and Tania Santiago as Obama’s reelection is announced at a UW watch party. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/The University of Washington Daily)

Yuriana Garcia, 20, is an ambitious, soft-spoken Honors student majoring in Human Centered Design & Engineering at UW. She has a passion for bioengineering, and an impressive record working on research projects in genomics and microbiology.

She’s also an undocumented immigrant.

Until recently, her dreams of a PhD and a career using technological innovation to aid development in third world countries were tempered by the uncertain reality of life as an undocumented student.

President Obama’s re-election was met with jubilation by young undocumented immigrants like Garcia. It meant that his recently established Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was here to stay – for another four years, at least.

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My second cousins John (center) and Nakon (right) show me family pictures with familiar faces during a reunion/introductions of sorts in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Dacia Saenz)

BANGKOK, Thailand– They were complete strangers, but it instantly felt like a family reunion.

One week before I departed for my first international reporting trip, my grandmother Cece and my great aunt Karen casually drop to me on Facebook that, oh by the way, I have relatives in Thailand.

Come again?

Now I’m from a long and proud line of auto factory workers, mechanics and nurses from Flint, Michigan. But other than trips to Canada, I was one of the few people in my family to travel and live outside the U.S. since our ancestors came through Ellis Island. Or at least I thought.

So to learn that I have Thai relatives was not only a major revelation, but one that profoundly altered how I view my family in the world.

But the facts were fuzzy at first. I wasn’t exactly clear how my little branch of the tree spanned to this corner of the world.

So I sent a Facebook message and a few days later I was off to meet these mysterious family characters in the bustling city of Bangkok.

A North Korean army (or is it Chinese?) invades Spokane in the remake of Red Dawn, opening this weekend. (Photo by Sarah Stuteville)

A sunny morning in Spokane — shaggy green lawns, puffy clouds and compact SUVs parked outside of 100-year-old houses.

Then a boom, a rattling snow globe featuring the Space Needle and the blue sky fills with white parachutes.

The North Koreans have just invaded Washington state.

To children of the ’80s this might sound vaguely familiar. In the 1984 Cold War film “Red Dawn,” the Cubans invade a small town in Colorado, forcing a gang of teenagers (Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey) to form an insurgent militia to fight off the commies.

The remake, released this week, follows a similar script. Except it’s a new teenage gang (Avengers’ Chris Hemsworth, Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson, even Tom Cruise’s son Connor Cruise) and a new enemy.

Well, kind of.

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Dayak girls feed a forest friend. (Photo by Branden Eastwood)
Dayak girls feed a forest friend. (Photo by Branden Eastwood)

It is a shock to think of Indonesia as the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

How could a country that boasts one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems be spewing out more carbon and methane than economic powerhouses such as Germany and Japan?

The answer lies in the forest. Or what’s left of it. Indonesia has cleared close to half of its forested land for agricultural development. The country’s peat forests, which sequester immense quantities of carbon are often targeted by developers, resulting in a disproportionate amount of emissions.

The Mumelo siblings, recent immigrants from Kenya, represent what recruiters hope will be a new face of the US military. (Photo by Sarah Stuteville)

Turns out you don’t pack much for boot camp.

When I asked Belindah Mumelo if I could hang out with her while she prepared to head off for basic training this week, I imagined huge duffel bags stuffed with gear.

Instead, she showed me a backpack the size of a school bag, full of white athletic socks.

But gear doesn’t matter. The most important thing Belindah is taking with her when she boards the plane and the series of buses that will deliver her to basic training at Fort Jackson, SC, is her sister Barbrah’s advice: “Don’t eat the candy.”

“Seriously, that first day, in the mess hall, they’ll put out all kinds of cakes and candies and cookies, but it’s a trick,” warns Barbrah in a heavy Kenyan, almost British-sounding accent. “They’ll make you do push-ups if you eat them.”

Three Mumelo siblings have signed up to join the Army this year. Belindah’s twin brother, Benson, is currently in basic training in Missouri.

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Jess Mack, a Seattle native working in Bangkok, was excited to don Americana colors to watch the election returns. (Photo by Sara Stogner)

BANGKOK, Thailand–As the elections unfolded yesterday in the US, a small huddle of Americans glued their eyes to the CNN report, broadcasting the returns in a mostly empty bar here in Bangkok.

The American-owned Roadhouse BBQ was one of only two bars in the city advertising an election watch. Yet in a city packed full of expats, only a dozen trickled in around 10am.

Among them was Jess Mack, a Seattle native working on a campaign with the UN to end violence against women in the region.

“It’s been interesting being here and talking to people from around the world and in Bangkok,” Mack said. “People really care about what’s happening in the US because our foreign policy has an impact on everyone in some way.”

Mack was ecstatic when the news came via her twitter feed that same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana had been approved in Washington State.

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The 9th Congressional District (shown in green) was redrawn this year to be Washington’s first ‘majority-minorty’ district. (Image via Google Maps and Washington State Redistricting Commission)

When Washington’s congressional districts were redrawn last January, the State Redistricting Commission made a bold move:

They split the city of Seattle between two districts in order to create the state’s first ever “majority-minority” district.

The 9th Congressional District was shifted northward, leaving behind the Fort Lewis area and rural Pierce County to take in both South Seattle and a growing population of immigrant and minority voters in South King County.

Now 51 percent of residents in the new 9th district identify as ethnic minorities.

Majority-minority districts are usually created with an eye to boosting the number of minorities in Congress.

But that’s not going to happen this election.

Eight-term incumbent Adam Smith, a Democrat, is facing GOP challenger Jim Postma to be the face of Washington’s most diverse district. Both are white. Both are Christian. Both were born in the US.

The legions of Americans taking their winter workouts inside to the warm sanctuary of yoga classes are part of a global trend taking to the Indian physical-spiritual practice.

A love of yoga took one Ashtanga instructor from Abu Dhabi to Finland, pushed her physical limits and brought her in to a whole new community. But another renowned instructor says the study of yoga has actually separated her from her fellow Indians.

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Härnu founder Jason Gowans at the Seattle Globalist launch party in April. (Photo by Sara Stogner)

We coined the term “hyperglobal” here at the Globalist to describe the combination of “local” and “global” in our content – bridging gaps between communities, from neighborhoods to nations, across the planet.

Now, a fellow Seattlelite has taken the same approach to social networking.

His name is Jason Gowans, and like us, he’s been all over the map. And he’s made a crucial insight during his travels: it’s true that the biggest online social networks like Facebook and Twitter have made the world more inter-connected. But much of that networking centers around reinforcing existing connections – for example your friends, family, and co-workers.

As Gowans explained to me, true global social networking should encourage us to initiate friendships with new people in new places. It should mean that a mom in California can link up with, say, a mom in Kazakhstan and ping her with questions and ideas. Or vice versa.

So Gowans and his team have built and just released Härnu (an amalgam of “here” and “now” in Swedish). One tech writer called it “brilliant” “map-based social networking.” After signing up, you’ll be greeted with a world map marked with lots of pushpins. Each pin is a question that someone has tagged to a particular place.