international advocacy

A Palestinian pianist whose image playing the piano among the ruins of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria captivated the world was awarded the 2016 International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights, Peace, Inclusion and the Fight Against Poverty last week.  Ayham Ahmad [...] became famous when a video of him singing and playing the piano surrounded by the rubble of the city went viral earlier in the year.

For many Muslim women, the decision to don the hijab […] is born of private self-reflection [...] But [Yusof's] choice soon became something else, as well: a lucrative source of attention for herself and her multimillion-dollar online-retail startup, FashionValet […] In Malaysia women are free—even encouraged—to inject glamor and prestige into the hijab, and to make money from it.

The Guardian highlighted UN High Commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres, who recently responded to anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric pushed by Donald Trump and other conservatives, stating that "[t]hose that reject Syrian refugees, and especially if they are Muslim, are the best allies of the propaganda and the recruitment of extremist groups."

Thanks to a group of inventors in South Africa, where as much as 11 percent of the population lives in shacks and fast-moving fires spread easily [...] Over the past three years, the team has developed a modified, networked fire alarm system known as Lumkani. The system is designed to alert neighbors, emergency responders, and entire informal communities to fires faster and more efficiently [...]

Some of Major League Baseball's biggest Cuban-born stars put dozens of boys through batting, pitching and catching drills in a sunny Havana ballpark, part of a 3-day mission meant to warm relations between the U.S. league and this baseball-mad nation. […] Defectors who were once reviled by Cuban officials [...] but who have returned in triumph following last year's historic detente between the Cold War foes.

Say the name Joshua Van Alstine in Saudi Arabia and the likely response is a blank stare. But mention his Web-born persona, Abu Muteb, and chances are good that you will get a knowing nod or a wry smile for the baby-faced American military brat. He slings Saudi­accented Arabic, wears traditional Arabian robes, mixes comedy and commentary, and may be one of the Arab world’s most improbable celebrities.

TRAFFIC is a U.K.-based wildlife trade monitoring network, and it wants to change the culture around rhino horns. As Taylor Hill reported last week, the organization has set up workshops at traditional medicine schools in the Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. TRAFFIC hopes to teach the next generation of traditional medicine practitioners that there are alternative—and more humane—ingredients.

In an ideal world, big foundations might be superfluous. But in the real world they are vital, because they are adept at targeting problems that both the private sector and the government often neglect. The classic mission of nonprofits is investing in what economists call public goods [...] Yet philanthropic investment in global projects continues to increase.