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Bring Back $500 or Starve,

There are too many issues in the world. While I can blog, read, or talk about them, I think taking an action makes a stronger impact; whether it impacts an entire population or one person, every life is valuable and dear to my heart.

That being said, I am an advocate for ending human trafficking and personally passionate about women and children. I volunteer for a non-profit organization in Orange County, which works in sync with Saddleback Church’s Justice and Trafficking Initiative. My role is to make contact by profiling the victims of sex trafficking and to help them get out of the life.

One night, my advocacy partner and I were walking in a dark alley in California. We saw a petite blonde girl who was very beautiful. She had a black dress on and looked scared. I approached her from a distance and had the following conversation:

Me: Hey. It is going to be a cold night huh? What’s your name?

Her: Yeah. My name is Belle.* I gotta work right now. I can’t talk.

Me: You like your job?

Her: Well, I have never done it. Tonight is my first night.

Me: How old are you?

Her: 18

“She is not 18,” I thought to myself. She looked like she was 14 or 15.

Her: Look, I really can’t talk. They are following me since it is my first night. I have to do this.

Syria: Global Solutions Urgently Needed

By Christiaan Triebert - Flickr: Azaz, Syria, CC BY 2.0,

Citizens for Global Solutions addresses a diverse set of global needs. Each deserves attention. But two difficult problems signal possibly severe ruptures to international trade, security, and economic well-being. Both are in the Middle East.

One is the possibility that nation-state jockeying for position in the resolution of the Syria crisis will get out of control and lead to broad physical and economic confrontations.

The other is that the combination of despotic, repressive family rule and archaic, backward-looking Wahhabi Islam in Saudi Arabia may lead to continuous civil unrest in Europe and beyond, as well as a severe disruption of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf region with massive economic consequences worldwide.

Solutions to these challenges are hard to find. This post is not intended to spur rash or emotional action among concerned citizens. But awareness and some attempt at constructive orientation are needed. 

This post will deal with the Syrian situation. A follow-up post will address Saudi Arabia.

By recent count, over 230 warplanes from five nations are assigned to Syria. The United States accounts for about 150 of them. Russia has aircraft in the area and has launched cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea. A melange of armed forces backed by various sources divide and devastate Syria.

Why "Daesh" (and Solidarity) Matters

After the November terrorist attacks in Paris, President Francois Hollande referred to the group more commonly known as ISIL or ISIS as "Daesh." The name has been used intermittently by both government officials and media outlets, but to many, this usage was a pointed statement.

Daesh is the Arabic acronym used for ISIS, standing for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.” The Boston Globe reported last year that,

The term 'Daesh' is strategically a better choice because it is still accurate in that it spells out the acronym of the group’s full Arabic name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. Yet, at the same time, 'Daesh' can also be understood as a play on words—and an insult. Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from 'to trample down and crush' to 'a bigot who imposes his view on others.'

Crossing Cultural and Linguistic Boundaries: International Volunteer Day

Peace Corps volunteers work in the Gambia to create sustainable gardens

Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectations of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose.     --UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

December 5 has been selected as the International Volunteer Day by a 1985 UN General Assembly resolution. This year, Volunteer Day comes as government representatives and NGO volunteers are meeting in Paris to develop a new international climate agreement at COP 21.  The NGO representatives are fewer in number than originally planned due to the recent Paris attacks and consequent tightened security. However, those that are present are doubly active as world media attention focuses on the conference and its outcome.

As with all major UN conferences, negotiations among governments have been going on for two years with a good deal of input from NGO representatives. At the Paris stage, there is a preliminary “Final Document and Action Plan” of some 30 pages with a good number of square brackets around words or sentences on which there is no agreement. Negotiations concern making the document shorter so that the main ideas will stand out better and to remove square brackets. If a suitable word is not found, often the whole sentence will be dropped.

ISIS Recruitment: Social Media, Isolation, and Manipulation,_Anbar_Province,_Iraq.jpg

Lately the news has been flooded with horror stories of the ISIS-led attacks occurring around the world. After hearing about these, it’s easy to wonder: how in the world can any sane individual partake in such brutalities?

How is an organization that is so extreme and so violent able to get bright, young people, including an increasing number of Western foreigners, to drop their normal lives and risk it all for a terrible cause? 

To answer these questions, let’s take a look at how ISIS convinces young individuals to join their efforts.

Online Recruitment

The internet is the perfect place for ISIS recruiters to find and target future members. Online, it is easy to remain anonymous and to keep recruitment a secret process. Identities are easily masked, and information is easily transmitted.

ISIS recruiters are motivated to convert others to jihadists not only to propagate the values they believe in, but also to make a significant amount of money. ISIS pays its supporters up to $10,000 for every person they recruit. The price paid depends on who is recruited--if the people are well educated, such as computer specialists or doctors, they are worth more. 

A wide variety of online platforms are used to find potential recruits, including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Then recruiters spend thousands of hours engaging with these individuals, keeping in regular touch and slowly ushering them towards the theological concepts ISIS is built on. 

The UN Voice for Environmental Action

Maurice Strong (Photo: Philip McMaster,

Just on the eve of the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) and the coming discussions on climate change and a sustainable world society, Maurice Strong died (November 29, 2015).

More than any other person in the UN system, Strong had been the driving force to put environmental action on the “world agenda” for both governments and NGOs. For Strong, to protect the earth’s environment, its biodiversity and life support system was a cause for cooperative action to transform society—a cause for which government and business leaders could rise above their disagreements and act together to protect the planet.

Before a topic becomes the focus of the world agenda, there is a good deal of intellectual preparation needed, and it usually begins outside of governments. Kenneth Boulding, a Quaker, economist, and peace researcher started writing what is now called “ecological economics.” Boulding helped develop the concept of “Spaceship Earth,” stressing the need to modify education in light of ecological realities. He wrote,

…the principal task of education in this day is to convey from one generation to the next a rich image of the total earth, that is, the idea of the earth as a total system…What formal education has to do is to produce people who are fit to be inhabitants of the planet.

Fighting Ideas: Military Power vs. Ideology,

We have been sold a story that goes like this: spend more on weapons, get more peace. But a strong government with an overpowering military didn't stop Luke Skywalker from joining the Rebel Alliance and launching an attack against the Death Star. It didn't stop Katniss from defying the Capitol. And it didn't stop Harry Potter and Dumbledore's Army from opposing the corrupt Ministry of Magic. La Résistance is an incredibly common trope.

Deterrence theory suggests that military strategy should entail more than just winning the war: it should deter conflict in the first place. By having a bigger military--a "bigger stick," if you will--you can avoid attacks because your opponent knows the damage they will incur in a fight is likely too big a price to pay. Typically applied to nuclear war, it certainly seems logical when dealing with certain actors--rational governments may avoid war with those who have nuclear bombs. Even in this context though, it is losing favor.

10 Horrifying Facts about Nuclear Weapons

This article was originally published for BogglingFacts. It has been cross-posted with the permission of author Reagan M.

On August 6, 1945, the world changed forever. After an American bomber unleashed the world’s first glimpse of an atomic bomb, countries scrambled to get their hands on the technology to ensure their safety. The power of nuclear weapons is almost unfathomable, and if nuclear war was to ever break out, it would likely spell the end of the world. Luckily, it’s this fact, among others, that has kept war from breaking out thus far. Read on for 10 more horrifying facts about nuclear weapons.

Key Elements of the Paris Climate Agreement: Deepening International Action

This article was originally published for the NRDC. It has been cross-posted with the permission of author Jake Schmidt.

World leaders are meeting in Paris to finalize an international climate change agreement that will require deeper emissions reduction commitments from all countries. If all goes well, all major countries will enshrine their new climate commitments in this agreement. The agreement will contain provisions to hold countries accountable to their commitments and mobilize greater investments to assist developing countries in building low-carbon, climate-resilient economies. And encouragingly, businesses, investors, states, provinces, cities, financial institutions, and others are already pledging actions to help governments implement the agreement and even exceed their commitments.

While the Paris agreement won't "solve" climate change, it can be a critical inflection point. It brings us much closer to a safer climate trajectory and highlights the path forward after Paris.

So what needs to be addressed in the Paris agreement if we are to build stronger international climate action that mobilizes action now and spurs even greater action in the years to come?

These key elements are outlined in the NRDC’s new "issue brief."

New emissions reduction targets for the Post-2020 timeframe by key countries

On this National Day of Giving

This year, GivingTuesday is arriving  just in time.

We're seeing four million refugees fleeing Syria; 38 million people worldwide internally displaced from war, terror, and suppression in 2014 alone; barrel bombs dropped on civilians by their own government; and countless other atrocities.

Now, under great pressure from the spread of terrorism, extreme weather, unrestrained war and huge migration flows across the globe, leaders from around the world are catching up to our vision of a well-governed world.

Citizens for Global Solutions has been invited to join global policy leaders in promoting crucial United Nations reforms, reforms that can prevent the triumph of terrorism, the cataclysm of global warming, or even World War III.

On Tuesday, December 1, Citizens for Global Solutions is participating in GivingTuesday, a day where people all across our nation come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to support the worthy causes in which they believe. 

We invite and encourage you to join the movement and to support Citizens for Global Solutions’ efforts to create a movement for crucial global governance initiatives before the window of opportunity closes.