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June 2003

We invite you to speak your mind on these hot topics and global issues plucked from the pages of National Geographic magazine. For more on the subject go to the online feature page, or read the June issue of NGM.

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The caste system has been part of Indian culture for 1,500 years. For the Hindu-born, it means spending a lifetime as a member of a social class ranging from elevated to so low in rank as to be considered subhuman. Although the Indian constitution makes caste discrimination illegal, these "Untouchables" are regularly subjected to indignity and atrocity. They are relegated to the most menial—and undesirable—jobs. Some live downwind of upper caste citizens who believe they must not smell them. For daring to demand their rights or step out of their place, Untouchables have been beaten, doused with acid, and even killed. Despite pressure from activist groups, perpetrators are rarely punished. How can outsiders help Untouchables in their fight against oppression? How can their situation be changed? Enter>>

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Baghdad Before the Bombs

The bombing has stopped. Lives have been lost. Troops have moved in. Statues have been toppled, along with Saddam Hussein's government. The infrastructure is battered. Looters have cleaned out offices, palaces, hospitals, and a world-renowned museum. And Iraqis are protesting with newfound voices. As the international community debates how to rebuild Iraq, where do you see the country going from here? Enter>>

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Peru's Highway of Dreams

Advocates of the Transoceanica Highway see eventual prosperity moving along its paved and winding course: more jobs, greater mobility, reduced shipping costs, timely product transport, and new export opportunities with Asia. But opponents, particularly environmentalists, are concerned that the destruction of natural habitat will be hastened. The proposed eastern route will bisect Peru's state of Madre de Dios, disrupting one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. How can the benefits of a highway through Amazonia be balanced with the costs? Enter>>

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Hip Zips

Nominate your favorite zip or postal code for coverage in the pages of National Geographic. Our magazine series—ZipUSA—takes a periodic peek at special corners of the country by zip code. We like the concept so much that we're going global and extending our stories to include international postal codes as well. So describe a weird, wacky, wonderful locale of your own choosing—it just might make it into the magazine—and read postings from other folks too. Enter>>



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