Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Non-UN Member Countries

Of the nearly 200 nations in the world, very few are not members of the United Nations.

Today, Kosovo, Holy See, Taiwan, and Palestine are not members of the UN. All of these countries have contested or limited sovereignty.

Kosovo, despite its claim of independence from Serbia in 2008, has not achieved the full recognition necessary to be a UN member state.

The Holy See, or the Vatican City, home to less than 800 citizens and created in 1929, has not sought membership to the UN. It enjoys "non-member observer" status instead.

Taiwan actually held a seat in the UN and even in the permanent Security Council of the US, the UK, France, the USSR (later Russia), and the representative of China. Until the 1970s, Taiwan represented China within the UN. However, when the United States shifted its recognition of Taiwan (Republic of China) to recognition of China (People's Republic of China), China replaced Taiwan within the UN.

Palestine, on November 29, 2012, was upgraded by a vote of 138-9 to "non-member observer" status, similar to the Holy See today and Switzerland previously (for a half-century prior to 2002).

Though the UN appears to encompass nearly every country, membership has been challenged. For instance, in 1974, a bill was drafted for the expulsion of South Africa as an extension of heavy sanctions placed on the nation during its policy of Apartheid, or unequal segregation of blacks and whites. However, it was never passed.

Yugoslavia ceased to hold a seat in the 1970s when the federation broke into several different countries (which then achieved UN membership). By that vein, the USSR also lost its seat in the UN when it split in the 1990s into several different countries.

Also, Indonesia, under President Sukarno, withdrew from the UN in 1965 following Malaysia's election as a non-permanent member of the UN, due to the two countries' hostilities. However, following Sukarno's overthrow in 1966, Indonesia expressed its desire to once again become a member nation of the UN.

At its conception, the UN had around 50 member states. It has come a long way since 1945.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Coming a bit late this month is our Monthly Micronation Monday! Today, we look at the Nation of Celestial Space, or Celestia. And where does it exist? Why, in the entirety of outer space.

The micronation is considered long defunct after the death of its founder, James Mangan. Due to Mangan's position as founder, his residence in Evergreen Park, Illinois, is considered part of Celestia's territory.

 File:People James Mangan Celestia 01.png

This very old micronation was claimed to be founded on December 20, 1948. It formed its own currency, including coins called the Joule and the Celeston, and it wished to fine other nations for venturing into space, which Celestia claimed to be its territory. Mangan sent letters to various nations claiming to have banned atmospheric nuclear tests, and sent many more angry letters to the United States and the Soviet Union during the Space Race.


Though the US and other nations mainly ignored Celestia, in June 1958, the US unfurled the Celestian flag on national television. The next day, the United Nations flew the Celestian flag alongside the flags of the UN's member nations. 

Flag of Celestia.svg      Seal of Celestia

The stamps, coins, and passports Mangan created throughout the 1950's and 1960's appear to be the only remnant of this micronation. Mangan is survived by his daughter, Princess Ruth of the Nation of Celestial Space, and three grandons, Glen, Dean, and Todd Stump, the Dukes of Selenia, Mars, and the Milky Way respectively.

File:Stamp Celestia 01.png

Sources: Celestial-Space Tumblr, List of, Wikipedia

Friday, June 7, 2013

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President is famous for two main reasons- leading the Union to victory in the Civil War, thereby reunifying the nation, and ending slavery.

By the time Lincoln ascended to the presidency in 1860, the South's intention to secede was clear. But Lincoln, who considered unity the highest priority, attempted to appease the South by promising not to go after slavery in regions where it was allowed. He spoke of the Southerners as brethren and did not adopt the hostile stance that many Northerners did towards the Southern states.

 Portrait of Abraham Lincoln

However, following the South's attack on Fort Sumter, the Civil War began in earnest.

Some lesser known details about Lincoln's presidency during the war include: his suspension of habeas corpus- the right to a fair trial, and his original plan for the slaves- sending them to Haiti and Panama. While he believed in the wrongness of slavery, he did not foresee a country where blacks and whites lived together in harmony. However, in 1863, in the middle of the war, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation had several uses- it gave the weary North, which had been expecting a quick victory, a renewed cause to fight for. It ended slavery, which Lincoln and much of the North loathed. And many former slaves, upon fleeing their masters, ended up taking arms with the Union.

Lincoln is also well-known for his Gettysburg Address, in which he gave a 2 minute speech addressing the Union and giving them a new hope to fight in honor of the men slain at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Lincoln was re-elected in 1864, and the South's defeat was clearly imminent. Lincoln had sympathetic plans for Reconstruction- he planned to allow the re-institution of statehood (and all the rights granted therein) should 10% of the state's population vote for it. Many radical Republicans wished for a harsher and more rigorous administration against the traitorous South.

But ultimately, Lincoln did not live to see through Reconstruction. He died on Good Friday, April 14th, 1865, just days after the end of the war, at Ford's Theater. He was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth while viewing the play Our American Cousin. His Vice President, Southern-sympathizer Andrew Johnson, chosen mainly to appease the South, ascended to the Presidency.

Lincoln today is consistently ranked amongst the top 5 or even top 3 Presidents.

Sources: Wikipedia, White, Miller Center

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

India-Pakistan Split

Map of Jammu and Kashmir
Map of Jammu and Kashmir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
India and Pakistan, separate countries today, were part of the same nation until 1947.

On August 15th, India became free from being a British colony. The British, upon leaving the territory, divided the land based upon religious differences so as to avoid conflict amongst the peoples. The region known as India was primarily Hindu while the region known as Pakistan was primarily Muslim. However, disputes over the boundaries set by the British have caused many wars and conflicts.

A religious divide became almost intrinsic in the subcontinent over the years under British rule. The British separated Hindus and Muslims in the electoral process. Furthermore, some Muslims believed an Islamic society must be communally Islamic, and other Muslims yearned to regain the control of the area they enjoyed before British rule. Hindus as well resented Muslims over their previous rule- they also sought a ban on the slaughtering of cows, a major meat resource for the Muslims, and wished to change the offical script from Persian to Hindi.

In addition, the singing of "Bande Matram" in schools, a historically anti-Muslim song, and the disconnection between the Congress not supporting the British in WWII and the Muslims fully supporting the British in WWII exacerbated the tension and division.

Mohammad Jinnah was instrumental in the split between the two nations. In 1940, he persuaded the members of the Muslim league to adopt the Pakistan Resolution, which would split the territory into one Hindu area and one Muslim one. Though previously discussed, the movement lacked support until Jinnah began speaking on its behalf.

This is not to say that the division into two countries fully eased the tensions between the religious groups. Boundary lines came into dispute very soon after the divide. In 1947, Pakistani troops invaded Kashmir, resulting in a stalemate in 1949. In 1965, Pakistani troops invaded Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in a ceasefire. In 1971, India supported the East Pakistan rebellion movement, causing the Pakistani troops to launch air strikes against India. India succeeded in its liberation of East Pakistan and the eventual creation of Bangladesh. The two countries have also been involved in a nuclear arms race.

Sources: Post Colonial Studies, Global, Wikipedia
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Monday, June 3, 2013

Children's Day in North Korea

You may know that North Korea just celebrated its children's day. You may also know that North Korea is a very private, hermit-like country with controlled output so that much of North Korean life is a mystery outside of propaganda videos and information from the rare tourist.

North Korea, with its population of 24 million, celebrates International Children's Day on June 2nd every year.

In many countries, Children's Day represents a day "commemorating the rights and freedom of young people." But this year, North Korea came under fire for its celebrations.

 North Korea's Children's Day

As background, the United States and South Korea are allies with each other and enemies with North Korea since the Korean War which divided the peninsula in the 1950s. Recently, North Korea has been testing nuclear missiles. The US and the UN have attempted numerous sanctions against the isolated nation for its nuclear activity. Also recently, North Korea declared an end to the armistice that stopped the fighting from the Korean War and made videos meant to threaten Washington D.C., Seoul, and other locations within North Korea's two enemy nations.

With tensions high, North Korea's dislike of the United States also spilled over into Children's Day. The festivities seemed to highly emphasize militarization and enemyhood with the United States. The parade featured fake vehicles designed as tanks with missiles on the side. Kids were dressed in army uniforms. Another event, featuring archery, called upon kids to shoot arrows at a caricature of a US soldier.

 A North Korean girl fires an arrow at a target made to look like a US soldier

The relationship between North Korean children and its government is commonly likened to indoctrination, even outside of Children's Day. Many children are inducted into the "Korean Children's Union" and told to call leader Kim Jong-Un "father."

First steps into tyranny: North Korean children stand in line while officers tie bandanas around their necks at a ceremony to induct them into the Korean Children's Union

Sources: Wikipedia, MSN news, Daily