Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Detroit: The Mogadishu of the Great Lakes

This last week was a turbulent time in a lot of far flung areas of the globe (like every week). The government was toppled in Kyrgyzstan, with Russia seemingly up to some Cold War era manipulation. Dozens of protesters in Bangkok were killed, as Thailand's fissure between the urban and rural population expanded into violence. In Sudan, thousands fled south across the border into Uganda, fearing election time violence.

The world is a dangerous place. Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq, civil wars continue to rage across Africa and political unrest burns in many Asian countries. In cities throughout the world, dodging bullets and bomb blasts is a part of daily life.

Last week CNN released a list of what they consider to be the world's most dangerous cities. Strife-torn urban areas like Kinshasa, Baghdad, Karachi, and Beirut are on the list to no one's surprise. The never ending Mexican drug war propelled border city, Juarez on to the list, while Cape Town's reputation as one of the world's murder capitals places it high on CNN's list.

The big surprise of the CNN's list is the inclusion of Detroit and New Orleans on the list. Now don't get me wrong, crime is definitely rampant in both cities, as New Orleans continues to recover from Katrina and Detroit from the collapse of the automotive industry, but it's tough to compare these two cities with places like Kinshasa and Baghdad, where civil wars rage through the streets.

It's a strange call by CNN to include these two American cities on the list, while leaving places like Mogadishu, Freetown, and even Rio de Janiero, where gang-related violence engulfs sections of the city. CNN makes the claim that they compiled their list using data from numerous respectable sources, but at face value it looks like the news network was looking for a controversial hook to draw in readers and viewers. If they didn't include American cities, there's always the potential for readers to pass over they story, with the "it's happening somewhere else" attitude. They definitely succeeded, as Detroit and New Orleans' inclusion has stirred up some controversy.

Here's a link to CNN's report: The world's most dangerous cities?

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