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A blog devoted to on-the-ground reporting around the world.

Why World War I is so often forgotten in America

Analysis: The "Great War" is often overshadowed by World War II and later wars.
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(Courtesy)

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of a Special Report called “The Eleventh Hour: Unlearned lessons of World War I” launching in full this week, nearly a century after the Armistice Day of Nov. 11, 1918 that ended the war.

ST ANDREWS, Scotland – In this town known primarily for golf and Scotland’s first university, there is a war memorial by the ruins of an ancient cathedral overlooking the North Sea.

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Without jobs, young people will continue to turn toward violence

From Bosnia to Nigeria to the Islamic State, unemployed youth are more easily drawn into patterns of conflict.
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Iraqi workers breaks imported alabaster at a factory in the town of Taji, just north of the capital Baghdad, on Feb. 5, 2013. Unemployment is high across Iraq with employees at this factory earning about $15 for working an 11 hour day. Such conditions make it easier for extremist groups such as the Islamic State to attract young people. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE /AFP/Getty Images)

BELFAST – At a gathering of 14 divided cities from Baghdad to Sarajevo to Kaduna, Nigeria, one consistent theme emerged: rising youth unemployment. Each of the delegations agreed that addressing this issue is the most important challenge for any city struggling to shift away from conflict.

It is true in Baghdad, where a disaffected youth – tired of the lack of opportunity or any hope for a productive future – is descending into despair throughout an increasingly divided Iraq. Out of that despair comes a small but steady stream of recruits from the Sunni population who, tired of the tryanny of a Shia-led government, are drawn to the apocalyptic, dark vision of the movement known as the Islamic State (IS).

It is true in Sarajevo and throughout Bosnia, which has the highest youth unemployment rate at 57 percent, according to World Bank data. There, ethnic tensions still smolder from a conflict that ended two decades ago, and an idle and disillusioned youth is left wondering about its future. An older generation who witnessed the horrors of the war fear that those embers could someday re-ignite hostilities if a better alternative is not presented to young people.

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Divided cities learn lessons from one another's struggles

This year’s Forum for Cities in Transition fosters a growing tradition of communication among societies seeking to heal from long term conflict.
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Padraig O'Malley, professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, speaks during the 5th annual Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT). O'Malley started the FCT in 1997 so that societies divided in conflict could come together and learn from one another's mistakes and successes in fostering peace. (Allan Leonard/Courtesy)

BELFAST — This city has risen in the aftermath of the 1998 Good Friday agreement, a treaty that brought an end to 30 years of sectarian violence known as “The Troubles.”

While pockets of despair and challenges still exist in finalizing the formula for a government shared between the country’s Catholics and Protestants, the days of car bombings, violent street protests, sectarian killing and heavily armed soldiers patrolling the streets are over.

Investment is pouring into the economy. Employment is up. A once sprawling British army barracks is being transformed into a residential community. The notorious Crumlin Road Jail, where paramilitaries were once held, is now a museum. You can feel public confidence returning in the downtown area.

In the gloriously restored Edwardian structure of City Hall, the 5th annual Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT) gathers political and civic leaders from 14 divided cities to “promote reconciliation through resilience.”

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Soldiers, doctors fight to keep spirits up amid drawdown in Afghanistan

As the US pulls its troops out of the country, those who remain struggle against exhaustion, boredom and a sense of helpless resignation.
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An aircraft mechanic pushes her toolcart across the tarmac at Bagram Airfield. (Ben Brody/GlobalPost)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The new American headquarters building at Bagram Airfield could be in an office building in middle America, the air inside cooled to a constant 70 degrees. This is the new normal for many of the 9,800 soldiers slated to remain in Afghanistan after the drawdown is complete.

As these rocket-proof office spaces take shape, those who still patrol in the countryside, fly the unfriendly skies and mend the wounded find their combat mission evaporating away, even as the Taliban retake lost ground around them. These last frontline troops are the insulation around the retreat in a lonesome landscape of a war gone by.

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How companies can help fix the youth unemployment crisis

Opinion: We can bridge the "skills gap" by better connecting young workers with employers who have jobs they desperately need to fill.
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(Emily Judem/GlobalPost)

NEW YORK— Global youth unemployment rates have hit near historic highs, with almost 13 percent of the world’s young adults currently unemployed. While being out of work challenges people of any age, it is especially devastating for “millennials,” young people ages 20–24 who would otherwise use their early work experiences to develop the marketable skills and nascent employment histories necessary to compete for future jobs.

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If this generation continues to stumble, the economy will fall

Analysis: Millennials will not be the only ones suffering the consequences if we let youth unemployment rates soar unabated.
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ROME -- Abraham, 25, and unemployed, peers at his cell phone. He is one of millions of millennials around the world who are struggling to find work in a weakened global economy. (Chris Livesay/GlobalPost)

NEW YORK — After a year-long reporting effort by The GroundTruth Project, a clearer picture is emerging of a millennial generation facing an uncertain global economy.

Our team of 21 GroundTruth reporting fellows journeyed to 11 countries to tell the story of their own generation. It’s a complex picture which combines devastating realities for many young people who economists believe will be the first generation to be worse off than their parents.

But it is also a demographic group, typically defined as being born between 1980 and 2004, that holds out great promise for innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit that seems woven into their identity as digital natives. And this generation is actively, some might say desperately, being courted by President Obama as the swing vote in American electoral politics.

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Young and unemployed? You might be part of Generation TBD

Unemployment plays a remarkably large role in the lives of millennials worldwide.
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(Juan Herrero/Natalie Keyssar/Emily Judem/GlobalPost)

ASSIUT, Egypt and LAGOS, Nigeria — It’s been almost four years since Egypt’s uprising seized the world’s attention by ousting former president Hosni Mubarak. It’s been three years since 25-year-old Abdullah graduated college and struggled to find a job.

It’s been two years since he decided to give up on his engineering dream and become a hotel worker.

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Why Turkey won’t support the Kurds against IS

Analysis: Age-old hatreds are playing a central role in the country’s foreign policy today.
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Kurdish man stands close to the Turkish-Syrian border as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, as seen from the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, in the Sanliurfa province, on Oct. 16. Islamic State militants have suffered setbacks and have begun retreating from parts of the beseiged Syrian border town of Kobani, according to a local official. Since mid-September more than 200,000 people from Kobani have fled across the border into Turkey. (ARIS MESSINIS /AFP/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — Traveling through Istanbul on my way back from a reporting trip in the Middle East, I sipped a cup of Turkish coffee in a café and picked up a stack of bustling daily newspapers.

From the headlines in these traditionally nationalistic papers — stories that feature the state of the Turkish economy and a fair bit of fretting over its image in the European Union — you’d hardly know there was a war raging on the country’s doorstep.

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New center to help coordinate global response to youth unemployment crisis

More than 400 million jobs will need to be created in the next decade to keep up with the growing labor force, the International Labor Organization reports.
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Greek unions rally against unemployment in central Athens in July. The last few years have seen youth unemployment rise to crisis levels, with more than 74 million young people without jobs today. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI /AFP/Getty Images)

As youth unemployment spirals into crisis levels worldwide, solutions are increasingly relying on stakeholders from varying sectors to come together, push for reform and innovate on a global scale, according to panelists at a policy forum on the issue, held Oct. 15 in Washington, DC.

“This has risen to the level of what we call a grand challenge that needs to be addressed in a very complex and coordinated fashion,” said Wayne Holden, president and CEO of the research firm RTI International, which hosted the forum.

The forum covered educational reforms that would better prepare millennials for the current job market and the role businesses can play in directing and funding career programs. The four panelists of varying backgrounds talked about innovations that have succeeded in getting young people employed and, above all, the need to forge partnerships that could take those innovations to a nationwide and global scale.

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President Obama: America's millennials not really a 'lost generation'

With the midterm elections next month, the president pitched his plans for a generation disillusioned with his economic leadership.
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US President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting Oct. 9 at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Calif., where he addresses issues affecting millennials today. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is offering a new commitment to American millennials, but with youth unemployment and student debt levels still oppressively high, the country's largest generation has withdrawn some of its once-fervent support for him.

"A lot of you entered into the workforce during the worst financial crisis and then the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Obama told a forum at Cross Campus, a business and innovation center in Santa Monica, Calif. on Thursday. “A lot of cynics have said, ‘Well, that makes many of you part of a lost generation.’ But I don’t buy that, because when I travel around the country, I see the kind of energy and hope and determination that so many of you are displaying here.”

The president praised the efforts of millennials to overcome a recovering economy and assured them of his administration’s support in issues that affect them most — wage equality, unemployment, health care, education and debt.

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