For years now the United States and countries around the world have mostly been watching and waiting, betting that we have time to head off the worst impacts of climate change. But according to a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate-related disruptions we have witnessed so far are just a precursor of devastation on a much larger scale.
Crop failures top the list of concerns described in the report. Storms, droughts, and other climate-related weather events are expected to cause major food shortages and widespread starvation in all parts of the world. As rich, fertile farmland dries up and alternative food sources dwindle, societies will struggle to sustain food supplies. In a New York Times article, Mark Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist who helped write the report, boiled it down to simple economics: "when supply falls below demand, somebody doesn't have enough food."
Members of Congress are responsible for casting votes on issues of national importance, including foreign policy priorities. Many Representatives and Senators have a perfect voting record from our members’ perspective, earning an A on the Global Solutions Congressional Report Card. Yet some in Congress do more than cast a vote; they actively champion policies that prevent war, build peace, cooperate with international norms, and defend human rights. That’s why Global Solutions Action Network rewards extra credit to those in Congress that go beyond the ballot on our core issues.
He was always there at every activist meeting. A quiet, rather quirky, guy who rarely spoke, but was eager to assist with hooking up the projector or making sure the microphones didn't squeal. He cared about using institutions to oversee the path to a peaceful, clean and just world. He believed in good government, and in the end, justice was delivered to him.
Our Milwaukee friend Peter Holzberger was murdered recently and our worlds turned around.
Two young men had found Peter working in his back yard, broke his neck, hog-tied him with bungee cords and carried his body to his basement where they hid him with boxes and clothes. Then they robbed his house, coming back several times over the next week to load up their blue van. They even bought items with his debit card on his computer, which ultimately led in their discovery.
Last week I was fascinated as I watched the court system unfold. Every step tried to guarantee an honest and true quest for fairness and truth. The two who were accused saw that they were getting a fair shake and did not rebel. And in the end, a jury of strangers gave Peter justice and the rest of our community safety (two life sentences). My eyes welled up with gratitude and pride as the anonymous twelve walked out, having done their duty to society.
It was great fun seeing you and the twins on Skype this weekend. Every time I see you I can tell that you are bigger, stronger and smarter than the time before. You might be a little young for a history lesson, but I know you are not too young to appreciate a map, especially a map that looks like a puzzle.
In this letter I want to address the current crisis of Ukraine, Crimea and Russia and explain that I see a better way to solve crises like this one. As is often the case in understanding the problems of the world, it is good to start with a map and a history lesson.
In this map Crimea is the little peninsula hanging below Ukraine and to the left of Russia. It has had a tumultuous history, with many different governments over the past 100 years. Two events in the past are interesting to me. (1) In 1954 the Premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, transferred Crimea from the Soviet Union to Ukraine. From the research I have done, It does not appear that the people of Crimea had any choice in this transfer; (2) In 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, 54% of the Crimean voters supported independence from Russia with a 60% turnout. Although Crimea initially claimed independence, later that year they agreed to be part of Ukraine.
For Global Solutions Action Network members, how Congress deals with international concerns is of critical importance. Where do you want your elected leaders to stand on climate security and energy policy? Nuclear weapons proliferation and funding peacekeeping efforts?
The 2014 Congressional Report Card is where Members of Congress are graded on these and other global issues as votes in the immediate past session.
Creating a report card that covers climate security, treaty ratification and human rights is a long and detailed process but was well worth the effort for how it empowers citizens. After scouring the Library of Congress for roll call votes on issues of global importance and surveying our members on which reflected their concerns most, we narrowed our list to 10 votes for each chamber of Congress on which to grade lawmakers.
So what grade did your Senator and Representative receive this term?
Some members of Congress did outright awfully, while others were shining examples of the international leadership which the U.S. Congress should represent. The pictured charts display how many Senators and Representatives got which letter grades.
The day he died, my organization got a hand-written letter from Pete Seeger, the 94-year-old iconic folksinger who departed last month after decades of inspiring us onward with his peace and justice ballads.
Now with his loss, we realize it is quite a gap to fill. Indeed, one political cartoon showed a hapless banjo player reading his paper’s page: “JOB OPPORTUNITY: New Pete Seeger needed. Must start immediately.”
What were his final messages to us? In an article last week entitled, “I’m Through With Big Things,” Seeger was quoted as saying, "Be wary of great leaders. Hope that there are many, many small leaders.” We know of his work to clean up the Hudson River, as well as his call for all of us to get involved at the local level. If he was disappointed in greater things, it was perhaps no wonder—for decades he suffered severe disappointments on the larger scene—a country which blacklisted him, record companies and television stations that marginalized him, and a youth culture and civil rights movement that passed him over when they became enamored by cooler music and more strident activism.
Ben Ferencz is an inspiration to many members and supporters of GlobalSolutions.org, world federalists and human rights advocates worldwide. For those unfamiliar with Ben, he was the youngest member of the Nuremberg legal team in 1945 which prosecuted the Nazi leadership.
Like many young men and women in the U.S. armed forces today, he had enlisted as a soldier and served in Europe where he witnessed terrible atrocities being carried out as part of the Holocaust. As the Allies realized the scope of the horrors being committed, a war crimes team was set up. With his law studies background, Ben was assigned to this team, visiting the concentration camps afte their liberation, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence of war crimes. Following his discharge from the U.S. Army, he was recruited to join the team at Nuremberg and was assigned as the chief prosecutor for the Einsatzgruppen trial, the ninth of the twelve Nuremberg cases carried out by the Allies.
North Korea’s state control over where people live and work, and the practice of arbitrarily arresting and executing citizens evokes images of the “Hunger Games.”
Sadly, it is without the "Games" aspect -- just state sanctioned death. A brief look of the Human Rights Council (HRC) summary of North Korea depicts citizens subject to revolting, inhumane punishments. There are stark parallels between North Korean society and that of Nazi Germany. (This is not a violation of Godwin's Law; that comparison was made by no less than John Everard, the former UK ambassador to the authoritarian state.) However, the key differences, such as not being outwardly aggressive, make it nearly impossible for the international community to stop North Korea’s crimes against humanity.