international relations

George Mitchell’s career in public service has been one of the most distinguished in recent times. After 15 years in the Senate, Mitchell’s work as a negotiator in Northern Ireland and the Middle East earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

According to former NPR correspondent and foreign policy expert Sarah Chayes, some governments now resemble glorified criminal gangs, using power to pad their own pockets. She illustrates how government corruption is undermining society in her new book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.

Naveen Vaidya, a math professor at UMKC, woke up in the middle of the night from a phone call from one of his relatives in the U.S. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake had hit his home country of Nepal, where his mother and sisters live.

"That's really one of the biggest moments in my life," said Vaidya. "I tried to call Nepal continuously for two or three days but it was really hard to get in touch with them."

He made occasional contact online but phone and internet have been unreliable. On Monday morning he was finally able to see his family's faces via Skype. 

courtesy of the artist

For the past 35 years, artist and YJ’s Snackbar owner David Ford has been traveling to Guatemala.

His interests in the area have ranged from local foods and recipes to indigenous festivals and politics. But recently, his focus has narrowed — he’s become totally obsessed with broken doll heads, called muñecas, used in bustling marketplaces to advertise hair-braiding and hair-wrapping services to white tourists.

“It’s an advertising thing,” Ford explains.

President Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba has drawn mixed reactions for Republicans in congress, but Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran sees a big opportunity for farmers.

Cuba imports a lot of wheat, but none of comes from the United States. Food’s not part of the trade embargo, but U.S. payment restrictions make Cuban exports impractical.

That’s costly to farmers. A Texas A&M study figures that free trade and travel with Cuba would boost the U.S. economy by more than a billion dollars, and create thousands of jobs.

Gender equality is a major issue in many parts of the world, and the United Nations is working to promote it.

In the second part of Wednesday's Up to Date, we’ll talk with Kristin Hetle, UN Women's director of strategic partnerships, who has taken experiences from her home country of Norway to help lead a push for international gender equality.


Cayetano / Flickr - CC

Most cities and towns have a sister city--another place across the globe that they’ve established a relationship with. The concept of Sister Cities, or twin towns originated after World War II to create cultural and commercial ties between communities internationally. Kansas City has 13 sister cities. Morelia, Mexico just recently renewed its agreement with KC, making it Kansas City’s third Mexican sister. Other international sisters include Seville, Spain, Kurashiki, Japan, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and more.

The global economy isn’t just about trading with China, India and European countries-- Africa is making an impact as well.