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Famine0221wrp opt(Photo: UNMISS / Flickr)An official with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that climate change and conflict are leading to food insecurity for millions of people living in Africa.

"Undernourishment appears to have risen from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between 2015 and 2016," Bukar Tijani, FAO's assistant director general for Africa, said Monday at a conference in Sudan.

"Over the same period, the number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million in Africa. This is a cause of concern for all of us," he said, noting that the continent's population is expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030.

This rise in undernourishment and food insecurity is linked to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, Tijani later explained to AFP.

Published in Guest Commentary


Forest 0221wrp opt(Photo: bjornsphoto / Flickr)Trump Forest—a global reforestation project aiming to offset President Trump's anti-climate policies—has reached 1 million trees after thousands of pledges from around the world.

Trump Forest was launched just under a year ago after POTUS announced he was pulling the U.S. from the Paris agreement.

"Thanks to you guys, you've pledged more than a million trees all over the world to try and offset that ignorance," Adrien Taylor, one of the three founders of the project, said in a video message announcing the milestone. "In doing so, you've not only offset some of the carbon emissions that have come out of the Trump administration, you've also helped reforest communities, and you've helped create a small silver lining in the very dark cloud of ignorance which is in the White House."

The idea behind the effort is simple. "US President Donald Trump doesn't believe in the science of human-caused climate change. He wants to ignore one of the greatest threats to healthy life on Earth," the project website states.

Published in Guest Commentary


BLM 0216wrp opt(Photo: 5chw4r7z / Flickr)In the past year, we've seen a burst of audacious political assertiveness coming out of Old Dixie, and I'm not talking about those Trumpeteering, tiki-torch-brandishing, tinhorn KKKers the media focuses on. The real story is that a fresh, "Reclaim the South" movement of young African-American populists is emerging, kindling long-suppressed hope in the racially scarred Deep South and offering the possibility of real economic and cultural progress.

Guess who's mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the state's capitol city? Chokwe Antar Lumumba — a black, 34-year-old lawyer who was raised in Jackson in a family and community of longtime Black Power activists. Last June, backed by Our Revolution and Working Families Party, Lumumba was elected with 93 percent (!) of the vote, and he promptly pledged to make Jackson "the most radical city on the planet." By radical, he means aggressively innovative in developing policies and programs focused directly on lifting up Jackson's middle-class and poor residents, rather than adopting the failed trickle-down model of nearly every other city. For example, instead of giving away government subsidies to lure rich corporations, Lumumba is trying to make the city a national showcase of home-grown cooperative enterprises owned by the people themselves.

Published in Guest Commentary


Monopoly 0213wrp opt(Photo: Sean Davis / Flickr)Why does Donald Trump constantly preface his outlandish lies with such phrases as: "To be honest with you," "To tell the truth" and "Believe me"?

Because even he knows that as a lifelong con-man, his voice takes on the tone of a snake-oil salesman when he starts exaggerating and prevaricating, so he reflexively tries to puff up his credibility with an extra dose of bluster: "No really, trust me, I never lie..." In fact, just in the past year, Trump's documented whoppers rank him as the lyingest president in U.S. history. And that included Nixon!

It's not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross, but their enormity. Most damnable of all has been his masquerading as a golden-haired billionaire "populist" who's standing up for America's hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and moneyed elites — a carefully crafted PR pose that has duped many working stiffs into thinking he is their champion.

Published in Guest Commentary


Resist 0213wrp opt(Photo: Joe Flood / Flickr)While hypocrisy runneth over at the White House on numerous fronts, it is particularly glaring when it comes to the issue of immigration. However, thanks to Jennifer Mendelsohn, the woman behind the #resistancegenealogy movement, we know a lot more about the immigrant experiences of the families of some of the administration's – and their media acolytes' -- most strident anti-immigrant voices. And those histories are chock full of the very things the administration has been critical of, including so-called chain migration, the inability to speak English, and the coming to this country to seek work, any kind of work.

In a mid-January Politico piece, titled "How Would Trump's Immigration Crackdown Have Affected His Own Team?", Mendelsohn, a Baltimore, Maryland-based free-lance writer, discussed her work tracking the family histories of anti-immigrant advocates. To put her work in perspective, she cited a comment – that appeared in a 2016 Chicago Sun-Times editorial -- by immigration historian Tyler Anbinder: "From the days of the Puritans to the present, every generation of Americans has believed that the latest wave of immigrants is completely different from—and inferior to—their own immigrant ancestors and could never become true Americans."

Published in Guest Commentary


War 0212wrp opt"War." (Photo: The Naked Ape / Flickr)While elected officials of our increasingly dysfunctional democracy debated "memogate," the world became more dangerous as Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review was officially released on Friday, February 2. Ignoring scientific studies of the past decade and growing global sentiment by the world's non-nuclear states to abolish nuclear weapons, with this announcement the new arms race begins and the Cold War resumes. 

Scientific studies have demonstrated the potential catastrophic global environmental effects following a limited regional nuclear war, using just 100 12-kiloton Hiroshima-size weapons (of the 16,300 in the arsenals of the nine nuclear nations, which is approximately one-half of just one percent) that would potentially kill two billion people.

This new Doctrine proposes the development of two new generations of nuclear weapons including "low-yield nukes," Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) and the long-term development of Submarine Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCM). These "low-yield nukes" are 20 kt—same as the larger Nagasaki size bombs that killed more than 70,000 people. Seemingly ignoring the fact that nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons regardless of size with the same horrific initial devastation and radioactive fallout, these weapons are proposed to demonstrate America's resolve in deterring nuclear attack.

Published in Guest Commentary


BarbFlag 0212wrp opt(Photo: Nick Pezzillo / Flickr)In 2015 it was reported that up to 50 million American adults had negative wealth and thus numbered among the poorest 10% of the world's adults. This was disputed by Vox writer Matthew Yglesias, who said, "..that's absurd. The poorest people in the world are the people with rock-bottom material living standards." 

It's difficult for many Americans to admit the truth about extreme poverty in our country. Our poorest citizens may not be living in a farming village where they eat millet soup and walk a mile for water. But they have to deal withhomelessness, alcoholism, mental health disease, opioid addiction, stress-inducing indebtedness and inequality, and pollution levels that are the highest in the developed world. All of that makes for rock-bottom living standards. 

According to Credit Suisse data over the past three years, anywhere from 4 to 10 percent of the world's poorest decile are Americans. That's 20 to 50 million adults. It's likely that many of them are only temporarily in debt, and that they have a much better chance than a third-world villager to climb out of poverty. But it's just as likely that they'll be replaced by other impoverished Americans, especially with an aging population woefully unprepared for retirement, and with the great majority of new job prospects temporary or contract-based, without security or benefits.

Published in Guest Commentary


Brains 0207wrp opt(Photo: Neil Conway / Flickr)The Super Bowl is the US's biggest TV night of the year, watched by over 100 million viewers every year. This one game earns the NFL about $3 billion, and generates tens of billions for the overall economy. The Super Bowl is the country's iconic sports and cultural extravaganza, and I can no longer bring myself to watch it, or any other football game.

I used to play football in little league, and as a teenager. I loved it; it was my favorite sport and I was pretty good at it. I enjoyed the contact, hitting other boys as hard as I could. As a running back, I especially enjoyed running over other boys to make touchdowns. Every Saturday was filled with the thrill of great expectations, every game was exhilarating, every time they handed me the ball I felt like I owned the world. Even when my team lost I felt like I was still on top of the world.

And then I got injured, and had to give up the game at the ripe old age of 13. I was devastated, almost inconsolable. My dreams were shattered. And it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.

Maybe because I quit after only three years, I still have decent brain function left. Many others are not so fortunate. Football today has become the equivalent of Roman gladiators, the sacrificing of young men for the guilty pleasures and profit of others.

Published in Guest Commentary


Bomber 0207wrp opt(Photo: David Rickard / Flickr)Militarism, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently asserted in 1967, is one of our society's "Triple Evils," along with racism and economic exploitation.

Were King alive today, he would surely decry not just the gargantuan nature of the US military, with our war budget over one-third the global total, but also how it's largely unchallenged by the public. Our tax dollars pay for nuclear and conventional military policies that practically guarantee armed conflict and nuclear weapons proliferation, making Americans and the whole world less safe.

With the coerced, cynical "support the troops" faux patriotism (to really support the troops, end the wars, bring them home, and give them better care) there is a psychological colonization at work as well. Given all this, it's hard to escape the reality that the US war machine more or less runs on autopilot.

Understandably, most Americans and even many progressive activists don't think there is much we can do about it, tacitly admitting there is precious little democracy in our foreign and military policies. Elites make decisions inimical to the interests of the vast majority of us, as the largesse lavished on the Pentagon prevents investments in domestic social and environmental priorities.

Published in Guest Commentary


Scrabble 0205wrp opt(Photo: Kevin Simmons / Flickr)It's incomprehensible to many of us that people could support a president who, in Bernie Sanders' words, "is compulsively dishonest, who is a bully, who actively represents the interests of the billionaire class, who is anti-science, and who is trying to divide us up based on the color of our skin, our nation of origin, our religion, our gender, or our sexual orientation." 

Based on various trusted sources and a dab of cognitive science, it's fair to conclude that there are three main reasons for this unlikely phenomenon. 

1. Trump's Followers Believe They're Better Than Other People

Nationalism, exceptionalism, narcissism, racism. They're all part of the big picture, although it's unfair to simply dismiss Trump people as ignorant racists. Many of them are well-educated and wealthy. But well-to-do individuals tend to feel entitledsuperioruninterested in the people 'beneath' them, and less willing to support the needs of society. Thus many wealthy white Americans are just fine with Trump's disdain for the general population. 

Published in Editorials
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