African summit without actual Africans? Only in Trump’s America


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This much is clear—Donald Trump has a plan to make America as unwelcoming to foreigners as possible. Between his wretched presidency and cabinet full of deplorables, his backward immigration policies and random, useless travel bans, it will be amazing if anyone actually wants to come visit this country in the next four years. 

Every day, evidence of this administration’s ridiculous attempts to keep nearly everyone (who isn’t white) out of the country come to light and yet another stark example was found during last week’s African Global and Economic Development (AGED) Summit. The AGED is a yearly event for African delegations to meet with officials and business leaders in the United States and this year’s event took place in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California. Except one group of attendees was notably absent—all the Africans. That’s right. Not a single invited African delegate attended the summit because every one of

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The ‘Next Einstein’ could come from Africa


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Eight years ago, while accepting the 2008 TED Prize, physicist Neil Turok gave a speech in which he issued a challenge: To bring Africa into the global scientific community. “Our TED dream is that the next Einstein will be African,” he told his audience, to much applause.

It looks like he may be getting his wish.

At a meeting in March in Dakar, Senegal, the Next Einstein Forum introduced its new class of 15 Next Einstein Fellows as well as 54 Next Einstein Ambassadors. These fellows and ambassadors are scientists from African countries with PhDs and other advanced degrees in a wide range of scientific fields. They are working, teaching, and studying in Africa and beyond, and the group hopes that these will be Africa’s new generation of scientific leaders. The NEF Global Gathering, as the meeting was called, had people from 80 countries, including all 54 countries in

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World Congress of Families attendee explains how U.S.-based groups spread homophobia in Africa


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Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-TX) Republican presidential candidate, speaks on behalf of his son at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 22, 2015.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX1E6ZH

Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz

When Pastor Rafael Cruz (father of GOP presidential contender and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz) was quoted last week saying that the “next thing” on the LGBT agenda is “to try to legalize pedophiles,” he was attending a little-known conference called the World Congress of Families, held in Salt Lake City this year. The global gathering of pro-life, virulently anti-gay organizations includes U.S.-based groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council, but it is usually held outside the U.S., often in places where homophobia is alive and well and people are hungry for the message. In fact, since the mid-1990s, WCF has been providing U.S.-based groups that are losing the battle against LGBT rights at home the opportunity to take their fight abroad.
“The World Congress of Families acts as a networking operation,” explains

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‘Beasts of No Nation’ wonders what it takes to turn a child into a killer


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Idris Elba and Abraham Attah in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s ‘Beasts of No Nation’

There are many issues where the collective will of society has, for one reason or another, failed. Whether it be a selfishness that perpetuates poverty, or the need to argue in the face of science and math when it comes to climate change, most of the problems facing the world today aren’t quite as intractable as believed. Usually there are solutions to attempt and choices to be taken, but we don’t because as a culture we decide it would be too damn hard and devolve into a “Fuck ’em, I got mine” mentality. Someone might have to pay more in taxes, or someone might not be able to drive as big of an SUV, or someone might have to pull themselves away from their Facebook page or Twitter app and actually give a damn. And this also

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Cartoon: Tragic numbers


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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With the publication of the incredibly powerful photograph of Aylan Kurdi, the boy who drowned while fleeing the fighting in Syria, let’s hope the world pays attention to that awful war for more than one news cycle. Aylan has become the symbol of the current refugee crisis, the largest mass migration since World War II.

Yes, the image of Aylan Kurdi is iconic, but I hope the world remembers all the un-photographed people who have died before him—and that we are finally able to come together and help stop the war(s) that are creating refugees in the first place. I sure hope a certain poem on a plaque in New York isn’t just a tourist attraction now and nothing more.

Germany has stepped up and is planning to take in 800,000 refugees, I sure hope people in the United States can stop obsessing about ISIS for long enough to

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Cartoon: Great white hunter gets his trophy


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The Great White Hunter Donald Trump has bagged his biggest trophy yet- the Republican Party. He hasn’t exactly captured it though, he wants that head on the wall of his future oval-shaped office, no doubt.

Monkey Cage: The fall of the hegemon in Burkina Faso


This post is by Joshua Tucker from Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More - The Washington Post


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The following is a guest post by political scientist Molly Ariotti of Pennsylvania State University.

******

Mass protests in the West African country of Burkina Faso have recently led to the resignation of the nation’s longtime president, Blaise Compaoré. Blaise, as he is known by the Burkinabè (the citizens of Burkina Faso), had ruled for 27 years since coming to power via a coup in 1987. The day before Compaoré’s resignation, the military had dissolved the National Assembly after the legislature was set on fire by protesters. Within hours of his resignation, the military suspended the constitution and staged what, for all intents and purposes, appears to be a coup.

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Is exorcism Bobby Jindal’s cure for Ebola?


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal doesn’t just want to be president of the United States. In 2012, he claimed he wanted to rid his Republican Party of its demons to purge it of “dumbed-down conservatism” and ensure the GOP was no longer “the stupid party.” But he didn’t mean it. After all, in the intervening two years the same Bobby Jindal who has since charged that President Obama is “anti-science” and “not very smart” has refused to say whether he believes in evolution. And when it comes to the Ebola virus, Governor Jindal didn’t just demand a travel ban rejected by healthcare experts. Last week, his administration issued a letter telling Ebola researchers who had recently traveled to afflicted West African nations not to attend an upcoming conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans.”
But Jindal’s grandstanding on Ebola may not merely be a question of politics, but of faith. Back in 1994, the Hindu-turned-Catholic Jindal performed an exorcism on an Oxford classmate. Perhaps Bobby Jindal believes that “with holy water and blessed crucifixes,” he can once again “provide physical protection from the demons” that afflict a handful of Americans and thousands of people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Then a Rhodes Scholar, Jindal took to the pages of the New Oxford Review to explain how to beat a demon in “Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare.” Initially at a loss as to how to help his despondent, depressed and disturbed friend Susan, Bobby Jindal literally tried a Hail Mary:

Strangely, I found myself repeating the Hail Mary until it became a chant. Being a recent convert to Catholicism, I had yet to accept the Catholic doctrines concerning Mary and considered any form of Marian devotion to be idolatry. Though I had never before prayed a Hail Mary in my life, I suddenly found myself incapable of any other form of prayer. Somehow, Mary’s intercessions allowed me to find peace during that long night; I knew that I had survived the worst and that I would exit with my faith intact. It terrified me to recall how close I came to turning away from Christ out of fear.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

It’s time for the President’s Emergency Program for Ebola Relief


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Goal Thermometer

The President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was arguably President George W. Bush’s single greatest achievement. Thanks to American leadership and over $50 billion in U.S. funding committed since President Bush launched the initiative in 2003, millions of lives have been saved and millions more HIV/AIDS cases prevented in 15 African countries targeted for international action. During his July 2013 trip to Africa, President Obama rightly called PEPFAR one Bush’s “crowning achievements” and used their joint 2013 visit to Tanzania to “thank him on behalf of the American people for showing how American generosity and foresight could end up making a real difference in people’s lives.” As Bill Clinton put it in 2012:

“I have to be grateful, and you should be too, that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR. It saved the lives of millions of people in poor countries.”

That’s why it’s once again time for the United States to step up with a new multi-year, multi-billion dollar commitment, this time against Ebola. With over 4,500 already dead and tens of thousands more at risk in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, it’s not simply (as Bill Clinton is so fond of saying) “the right thing to do. In this case, charity does not begin at home: Americans’ health and safety requires America to go all in—in Africa.
While the U.S. media fuel panic over the one fatality and handful of Ebola cases here, the need for urgent, global mobilization to save West Africa cannot be overstated. As CNN reported on Friday:

Liberia, meanwhile, which is hardest hit by the virus, says it requires 2.4 million boxes of protective gloves — and 85,000 body bags, to be able to fight the virus in the next six months. Currently, it only has 18,000 boxes of gloves and less than 5,000 body bags.
Let that second number sink in.

Eight-five thousand body bags needed.[Emphasis original.]

As Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson put it bluntly in her plea for international action, the Ebola virus “respects no borders.”

“We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves.”

And the United States has only begun to fight.

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Monkey Cage: Debating the benefits of rebel brutality


This post is by Reed M. Wood, Jacob D. Kathman from Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More - The Washington Post


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According to United Nations estimates, the Islamic State, formerly referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has killed thousands of civilians — including children — in recent months. Many more civilians have been wounded and upward of half a million have been displaced by violence. The Islamic State is, of course, not alone in intentionally targeting civilians for violence. Groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, Boko Haram in Nigeria and opposition fighters in South Sudan purposefully kill, maim and abduct thousands of civilians as they pursue their objectives, with disturbing frequency. Why? What motivates armed groups to commit atrocities against civilians?

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Obama emphasizes partnering with Africa at gathering of continent’s leaders


This post is by Katie Zezima from Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More - The Washington Post


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President Obama, administration officials and business executives Tuesday reiterated their call for the United States to move away from a paradigm of aiding Africa and toward one of partnering with the continent’s countries. If the United States does not, officials at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum warned, America will be left behind.

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What if the 200+ kidnapped girls were white?


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Mercer Island High School cheerleaders at the school's Winter Assembly in 2005.

What if they looked like these teenaged cheerleaders?
Instead they look like this.

Photo from Bring Back our Girls facebook page

Bring Back Our Girls

African.
Black.

They aren’t from North America or Europe.

Lots of people have thought this but not said it directly. Some have blogged about it and raised the question:

So is this an issue of race?
What if the girls were white? The nation would not rest with the story of Alabama cheerleader, Natalee Holloway, whose disappearance caused a media sensation for almost half a decade. Child pageant star, JonBenét Ramsey’s abduction and murder was met with extensive media coverage that transformed her into a household name. Out of the 234 Nigerian girls gone missing, how many can you name?

Others have tweeted it, like these from Black Kos Editor Justice Putnam:

Damn!
If just one pretty blonde girl was kidnapped w/ the other 234 black girls taking a physics test, the trad media would be all over it.
@justiceputnam

234 girls kidnapped taking a physics exam & no one is yelling to high heaven?
What? They’re black?

Ok, move along. Nothing to see here.
@justiceputnam

Follow me below the fold for more thoughts on this and what we can do about it.

Cartoon: The Anti-Gay Law in Uganda and the Miracle of Denial


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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Since Uganda’s anti-gay law was signedrecently, it’s been amusing (and maddening) to watch various religious right characters scurry for cover.  When nobody was watching, the holier-than-thou set have been visiting Uganda preaching their extreme anti-gay views.  Now that people are appalled at Uganda’s life-in-prison-for-homosexuals law, the “evangelical” right-wing preachers are laying low or rewriting history.

The craziest and most complicit in the Ugandan outrage is Scott Lively, a generally-ignored preacher who is a mixture of conspiracy theorist and medicine show huckster.  Unfortunately, this sort of message has traction in Uganda and some other parts of the world.  This is the guy who thinks the conspiracy behind the Nazis is all about homosexuals.  Yikes, how did this guy get so far?

There are plenty of other people who seem slightly less-crazy but have been able to push a strong anti-gay message and/or legislation around the world.  It was a depressing lot of research for this week’s cartoon, but don’t worry, I’ll wade through all the muck so you can just watch cartoons.  Enjoy, comment and share!

Global food wars have begun


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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from COP18 CGIAR meeting on Agriculture, December 2012.

African Agriculture

 

Global food wars have begun, not with a shot heard round the world but with the now unsurprising news that multi-national agribusiness companies are investing in poor countries. Sure, it’s under the guise of preventing world hunger but we know better.

This week, President Obama is making his first major visit to Africa since taking office. One topic that’s likely high on his agenda: U.S. investment in African agriculture.

Mother Jones:

The US government appears to already be doing this, as a recent analysis of dumped embassy cables found that the State Department had lobbied governments around the world to adopt policies allowing for the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

“[S]ome may see our work in Africa as philanthropy, but it’s much more than that,” said General Mills CEO Ken Powell at an event hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. “It’s about creating shared value, and for our African partners, it is about unlocking opportunity—business opportunity—through knowledge-sharing.”

China’s largest meat producer, Shuanghui International, has a very strong opening salvo in its desire to influence global meat production with its bid to purchase U.S.-owned Smithfield Foods, the worlds largest producer of pork. Does the U.S. want to be a CAFO for the world?  The decision to approve the sale lies with the U.S. Congress.

As our land and water resources dwindle due to increasing population and consumption, and as climate change takes a big bite out of our  agriculture productivity due to more extreme droughts and floods, the hands controlling the food purse strings will not be nations but the allegiance to profit global conglomerates.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Frances Moore Lappe, in her iconic book Diet For a Small Planet, states that we already produce enough food to feed the world. “We feed almost half the world’s grain to livestock, returning only a fraction in meat … while millions starve.” We use an area the size of Africa for livestock grazing and for cropland to produce livestock feed.  

Pay Attention


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American Christian Evangelicals celebrating advancement of Uganda’s ‘kill the gays’ bill


This post is by Jed Lewison from Daily Kos


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See what genocidal tendencies lurk in the hearts and souls of the American Christian right.

Christian leaders of America are excited about the prospect that Uganda is close to passing its “kill the gays” bill. The infamous bill is on the parliamentary schedule, cleared committee, ready for debate and said to be poised for a vote any day now. [Update: On Nov. 27, the US State Department  disputed earlier reports that the bill has left committee and that the death penalty had been detached. See also update at end of diary.] The speaker of the Ugandan Parliament has described it as “a Christmas gift to the Ugandan people.”

Above, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praises Ugandan president “for leading his nation” calling it a righteous “modern example.”

Perkins is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC and other news outlets to speak to the Christian perspective on issues. Perkins also boasted of having authored passages in the Republican Party platform of concern to LGBT American citizens. Can we look forward to a “Kill the Gays” plank in the 2016 GOP platform?

Meanwhile, Bryan Fischer, leader of the Christian family values organization the American Family Association, has this to say:

Fischer, as usual, has a very poor grasp of actual facts, which is unsurprising as he’s linking to “World Nut Daily.” The bill did not yet pass, which his Tweet might seem to indicate he believes. Regardless, homosexual conduct is now illegal in Uganda and has been for a long time under existing law and it is punishable by prison.

The new bill is only more barbarically punitive, expanding punishment to death and also creating a circle of criminal responsibility around people who know gays and do not report them to the government. Failure to report a suspected homosexual may be punishable by prison. Box Car Turtle looks in depth at what promises to be an Ugandan Inquisition.

More chillingly, Fischer ends with “It can be done.”

Fischer doubtlessly feels emboldened by this to redouble his efforts to bring sodomy laws back to America, maybe this time with the death penalty attached, because the Puritans’ original 16th century ideas were just a little too liberal to be effective.

Fischer and Perkins are key organizers of the Value Voters Conference that is a standard stomping ground for Republican pundits and candidates, having hosted VP candidate Paul Ryan just months ago. Fischer too was a key instigator when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s decided to “un-hire” his campaign’s foreign policy adviser this summer.

Scott Lively

Christian leader Scott Lively, currently being sued in U.S. federal court by Ugandans alleging human rights violations over the role he played in bringing this law to fruition, is also tickled pink there may be a pink gas chamber in Uganda’s near future.

This is a huge blessing for Uganda and for me personally after having  been vilified globally (and falsely) for two years by the leftist  media as the accused mastermind of the death penalty provision.   Please give this story your best push for maximum exposure.   Blessings,   Pastor Scott Lively

A trio of very wealthy, white American men cheering the vicious oppression of impoverished black people a world away.

President Obama has condemned this law specifically in the past, and Secretary of State Clinton has been a big advocate of LGBT global human rights. The U.S. State Department has thus far been silent on this new push to pass the bill with no updated statements or positions.

Update: This just in! Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade is reporting:

State Dept’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met with high-profile leaders in Uganda “over the weekend” and raised concerns about the bill.

No word on what measures the U.S. might take to dissuade the parliament or president from moving forward or in the event the bill is passed, or how they might react.

The Catholic Church, famously opposed to the death penalty and a force in African politics, been said to both support and oppose the bill. It isn’t at all clear what their position is, if they have one.

Rumors have circulated that the death penalty has been detached. There’s no confirmation of this as the Ugandan parliament has refused to make final bill public. Apparently the text of the bill is a really big secret, but the new, improved bill now has 100 percent less genocide—just trust them on that.

It is also well worth noting, Ugandan legislators have lied many times before about supposedly having removed the death penalty and they did not.

Update: From radio talk show host, Michelangelo Signorile:

Oh, those radical, liberal, activist homosexuals! Always forcing their radical views—like not wanting to be murdered—on other people.

Tue Nov 27, 2012 at  8:30 PM PT: US State Dept. embassy sources dispute that the bill has been stricken of the death penalty. They are hopeful talks with the president have successfully impressed upon him the gravity of international opposition to the bill.