Author

About the Author
Lacey Bruske is a graduate from the George Washington University’s MA program in International Affairs. She hails from Portland, Oregon. Prior to attending GWU, she worked at the Department of Justice as an advocate for women who were victims of sex trafficking crimes and a legal assistant on drug trafficking crimes. She graduated from Utrecht University’s University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, The Netherlands with a B.A. in International Law and Foreign Relations. Her travels have taken her throughout Europe, but she hopes to broaden her scope to South America soon. Her academic interests include organized crime and trafficking of weapons, drugs and people.

Fentanyl

In 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency, often referred to as the opioid crisis. This crisis, which addresses the significantly imbalanced ratio of prescription drugs to the patient population, often overshadows the illicit side of this public emergency. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which straddles the licit and illicit drug trade. Known for its extreme potency, fentanyl’s recent emergence into drug markets is taking the place of popular illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

In today’s episode, we discuss the danger fentanyl poses to users, its supply chain, and its potential impact to the illegal drug trade.

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Catalonia: A Conversation with Andrew Davis

In this episode, we speak with Andrew Davis of the Catalonia America Council about recent discussions and events surrounding the Catalonia’s relations with Spain. Mr. Davis provides background and context for the ongoing discussions regarding Catalonia’s status with Spain and its relationship with the Spanish government in Madrid. He also provides his thoughts on how to address these complicated issues in the months and years ahead.

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The World of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality–commonly referred to as VR–is an emerging technology that will become increasingly more sophisticated and widespread in the 5G era. VR can improve education, revolutionize healthcare, and even bolster security services. At the same time, however, VR is also be used for malignant purposes.

In this episode, we explore the origins of VR, discuss its applications, and detail some of the risks and vulnerabilities associated with this new technology.

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Olympic Terrorism

The Olympic Games have long been a symbol of sportsmanship and national pride. However, they can also be a target of terrorism. In this episode, we explore case studies of how organizations and nations have attempted to commit acts of terrorism in the context of Olympic Games. We will also examine how future Olympic hosts are working to ensure the safety and security of their upcoming Games.

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Featured photo credit: AP

Why Nations Fail

Professor Robinson joins us for a candid discussion about his book, ‘Why Nations Fail’. In it, he makes the case that the key differentiator between countries is “institutions.” Nations thrive when they develop “inclusive” political and economic institutions, and they fail when those institutions become “extractive” and concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of only a few.

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Take a look at some of the book reviews on “Why Nations Fail”:

Uncontacted Peoples

How far do the limits of modern society reach? What is “modern society,” and who belongs to it? What happens when states, organizations, and other members of the “connected world” come into contact with groups that may have little intersection with it? Should these groups be actively protected, thoroughly researched, or simply left alone? Follow along with us as we wrestle with these questions and more during this week’s episode, “Uncontacted Peoples.”

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Bride Trafficking

The term “mail order brides” does not often invoke similar connotations to human trafficking, but bride trafficking is just that. Victims of this trade are forced to marry men they don’t know from foreign countries that are sometimes thousands of miles away from their homes and families. While it is worth noting that this industry isn’t exclusive to women, women and girls make up the majority of most cases.

People are trafficked for marriage, sex, and labor in virtually every country.  In this episode, we focus on bride trafficking in some of the countries where it is most prevalent. Marriage brokers provide men in developed countries with services to find women for marriage, often from developing countries. Sources for these brides often come from the Philippines, Vietnam, or Cambodia. In all of these source countries, marriage brokers are illegal.

China is one major destination of trafficked brides. Due to numerous demographic issues such as China’s one child policy, Chinese men source brides from countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, or even Ukraine. North Korea serves as a unique source for women in bride trafficking, as refugee flows coming out of North Korea provide a supply of exploitable women.

India is another common location for trafficked brides, most sourced internally. Young women or girls in India are often tricked or coerced, sometimes by family members, into marrying men from provinces in India with severe gender imbalances in the local populations. Other times, men from Middle Eastern countries travel to India for “contract” marriages, where men marry young girls for a limited period of time, before divorcing them upon return to their home countries. Contract marriages can also be permanent, where men will bring their Indian brides to their home countries. 

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Water Scarcity

In this episode, we examine the growing issue of water scarcity that has begun to plague cities and regions around the world. From California to Cape Town to Sao Paulo, we assess the causes and effects of water scarcity, and also discuss what to expect in the future.

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Photo Credit: Zaian

Hello, Shadowlands – Organized Crime in Southeast Asia

In this episode, we speak with journalist Patrick Winn about his book, Hello, Shadowlands. Our conversation explores the various organized criminal groups, terrorist organizations, and even vigilante groups operating within Southeast Asian countries. Patrick provides insights into some of the causes of violence and drug trade in the region, describes the struggles of individuals caught up in the “shadowlands” world, and offers his perspective on what to expect in the future.

Afghanistan, Poppy, and Saffron

Afghanistan is the world’s largest supplier of heroin and opium. The Afghan government, United Nations, and other international stakeholders have tried endlessly to prevent Afghan farmers from growing poppy, the plant used to produce heroin, but farmers often find themselves in a situation where they are threatened with violence, or left with little means for income. Read More