Facts About the Rest of the World

Facts About the Rest of the World

Penguin Putnam Inc has published M.L. Rossi’s excellent book "What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World" which is gives an overview of world facts and is filled with information I wasn’t aware about. It is a very helpful resource book on world affairs everyone would benefit from reading. Here are few examples of information I thought of interest.

I was aware of the Rwandan massacre and had seen the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, but I didn’t fully grasp the fact that 800,000 people were brutally killed primarily because three men who owned Rwandan radio stations inspired the genocide. Commoners didn’t have televisions and newspapers could only be purchased at the capital, but most people had small transistor radios they listened to. The country is made up of historic rivals. The Tutsis controlled the Hutus for centuries even though 84% were Hutu and only 15% Tutsi. In 1959, the situation was reversed with independence. After a while, the radio stations began to continuously broadcast false propaganda against the Tutsis which became increasing more threatening until they started broacasting the claim that a revolt was being planned with a Tutsi takeover. The stations urged the Hutus to kill the Tutsis to stop the supposed revolt and the massacre started. The world watched and did nothing. Finally, a Tutsi armed force from Uganda was able to stop the killing, but revenge killing then took place until a troubled peace was obtained.

World_globe Did you recall that the United States government, once supported and funded the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia as well as its Maoist leader Pol Pot? The genocide they inflicted caused the death of an estimated 2 million people, but we backed them (1975 – 1979) because they were fighting with the Vietnamese.

The book reports more then $700 billion is spent in arms trading annually and the U.S. is by far the number one arms dealer in the world. Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Cheney, until 2001 was the director of Lockheed Martin, the number one U.S. manufacturer of arms. Does the phrase "military-industrial complex" come to mind?

I’ve read about HIV in Africa, but I didn’t know that some 28 million people there have the disease resulting in millions of AIDS orphans.

Did you know the Rock of Gibraltar, which is only 12 miles from Africa has been a British territory since 1713 or that the Dead Sea is 400 meters (1300 feet) below sea level. It is 8 times saltier then typical saltwater and no marine life can live in it.

Mr. Rossi says the Middle East is called that, even though it’s neither in the middle or the East, because Europeans drew the maps. He says, they regarded the Near East as Turkey, the Persian Golf as the Middle East and anything beyond that, the Far East.

I was surprised to learn that frankincense, one of the gifts the Bible reports was given to the Christ child, was once worth more then gold.

I read information about an area that involves my personal family history. My father was from Italy and my mother’s family are from the Island of Splitska, when it was part of Austria Hungary. Venice had held the area and Austria-Hungary obtained control in 1797. After the fall of Austria-Hungary in 1918, it became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. From 1932 Yugoslavia, "Land of the Southern Slavs," extended from Slovenia in the North, through Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia to Macedonia in the South. Marshall Tito became dictator in 1929 and the area became a Communist dictatorship. That explains why my mother’s parents displayed a picture of the King and Queen of Austria-Hungary in their home parlor. My grandmother always objected to being called Croatian rather then Austria-Hungarian.

I thought I knew my American history, but I didn’t realize that as a result of the Mexican-American war, the United States appropriated more then just Texas and California. In addition, it took Nevada, Utah and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Latin America’s troubles can in part be explained by the fact that 10% of the people, mostly white, control 40% of the land, wealth and power according to the book. The social caste system the Europeans introduced still exists.

For more information and a clearer view of world affairs, I recommend you read this book.

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