March 11, 2014

More than 130,000 people are said to have died in Syria’s civil war. United Nations reports of atrocities, Internet images of attacks on civilians, and accounts of suffering refugees rend our hearts. But what is to be done – and by whom?

Over the past few decades, it has become possible to speak of a "global food system"—shorthand for the trade patterns, shaped by multinational companies, that move raw agriculture commodities and processed food across borders. Yet as this fascinating new Oxfam study shows, there are still huge differences in people's experience of food across the globe. Oxfam ranked nations on four criteria: whether food exists in plentiful supply, whether it's broadly affordable, whether it's of good quality, and whether it's causing high rates of obesity and diabetes.

Last week saw five workers shot dead, at least thirty injured and twenty three arrested in a crackdown during a nationwide strike by garment workers, calling for an increase of the minimum wage in Cambodia from $100 to $160 per month. The deadly clashes took place near the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh, home to factories producing clothing for brands such as adidas, Puma and H&M.

Japan and Myanmar on Sunday signed an investment treaty to nurture closer business ties as the once secluded Southeast Asian country opens its fast-growing economy to more foreign commerce. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein signed the deal in summit talks following a gathering of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Tokyo.

While reporting on the phenomenon of T-shirts originating in the U.S. and winding up in Africa, NPR Planet Money recently turned up a Bat Mitzvah T-Shirt in Nairobi and asked for help tracking down the owner. After some Facebook sleuthing - and pinging the wrong Rachel Williams a couple of times - JTA's Adam Soclof finally got in touch with Rachel Aaronson, who led him to Jennifer.

There’s been a lot of talk these days that globalization is dead, even reversing — and for good reason. It seems that many of the factors that had been driving globalization have run out of steam. The growth of trade, which has long outpaced the expansion of the world economy, has slowed in recent years. Negotiations to forge a new global-trade agreement, the Doha Round through the World Trade Organization, have been stalled for years.

Globalization has been changing U.S. foreign policy since the beginning of the American Republic. From our first diplomatic post in Tangier, Morocco founded in 1777, to the more than 285 diplomatic facilities around the world today operated by the U.S. Department of State, the business of diplomacy has evolved over time. While it is obvious that thriving markets and global security go hand in hand, along with America’s central role in both arenas, often our diplomacy and institutions do not reflect this reality.

The forces of globalization have ushered in chaotic change to metro areas around the world. It is becoming more and more difficult for a place to remain isolated from the costs and benefits of this new global order. Cities and their surrounding suburbs have no choice but to manage globalization or be managed by it.