The U.S. Has Treated Poor Countries Like Shitholes for Decades


(Photo: Afghanistan Pashtunistan / Flickr)

The United States has never invaded Norway. It has never bombed Oslo. It has never rounded up Norwegians and thrown them in Guantanamo.

Perhaps some U.S. diplomats have referred to the country as “shithole” — because the food’s rather bland and the nightlife rather staid — but the important thing is that the United States has never treated Norway as a “shithole.”

Between the word and the deed lies a world of difference.

Donald Trump outraged everyone outside his ever-more concentrated base with his recent comment that the United States should stop accepting immigrants from “shithole” countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean and instead bring people in from places like Norway.

Foreign governments from Botswana and Haiti to El Salvador and even Norway denounced the president. Rupert Colville, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called the president “racist.” Even a handful of Republican lawmakers put some distance between themselves and the insulter-in-chief.

But all of this outrage is outrageously beside the point. Trump was only putting into words an underlying principle of U.S. foreign policy. For decades, the United States has treated countries like “shitholes” even if policymakers haven’t called them such, at least not in public.

Trump is a racist and the names he blurts out are offensive, no question about it. But it’s the sticks and stones of U.S. foreign policy that are really going to hurt you. So, why is everyone more upset about Donald Trump’s frank utterances — saying what many of his equally racist Washington colleagues are thinking — than the far more brutal excesses of U.S. foreign policy?

Insult, Then Injury

All armies train their soldiers to dehumanize the enemy. If you think of your enemy as a person, it’s very difficult to shoot him or her between the eyes.

The same holds true for countries. If you think of a country as a civilized place, it’s very difficult to bomb it back to the Stone Age.

The United States, in its more than a century of imperial ambitions, has long been subjecting other countries to the “shithole” treatment. At the outset of empire, the United States branded the Philippines as a place beyond the pale — filled with, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt put it, “savages, barbarians, a wild and ignorant people.” Such rhetorical dehumanization made it easier for U.S. troops to kill 20,000 Filipino fighters and preside over a three-year war that left more than 200,000 Filipino civilians dead.

The northern parts of Korea and Vietnam received similar “shithole” treatment in the Cold War era. The Koreans and Vietnamese suffered from the same dehumanizing epithets as the Filipinos several generations before. Worse were the saturation bombings that they endured. This was the era of destroying the village to save it. If a place is a “shithole” to begin with, this kind of logic makes perfect sense.

For geopolitical reasons, Vietnam is back in the good graces of the United States: After all, it serves as a wedge against China.

North Korea is another matter. It is the “scourge of our planet” ruled over by a “depraved regime,” Trump said at the UN last year. Trump’s epithets aren’t part of a campaign to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the International Criminal Court. Trump cares little about human rights, and after all, he either “has a very good relationship” with Kim, according to The Wall Street Journal, or “he’d have a good relationship (according to Trump). Honestly, who cares about the verb tense? It’s the adjective “good” that counts most: These two guys are cut from the same cloth.

So, forget about human rights. Trump has reduced North Korea to rhetorical rubble as a strategy to prepare the American public for a future military action against the country — an option that Trump continues to cultivate despite the recent inter-Korean warming. Thus does insult precede injury.

But the United States isn’t just in the business of identifying “shitholes.” It’s also in the business of making them.

Sow the Wind, Reap the Shitstorm

After September 11, the United States adopted a more muscular foreign policy that produced one “shithole” country after another.

The Bush administration invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. The Obama administration led from behind in a regime-change effort in Libya. First Obama and then Trump waded into the quagmire of Syria. U.S. Special Forces are involved throughout most of what was once called the Third World (and now, according to Trump, should be renamed the “Shit World”).

In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States played the pivotal role in turning brutally run countries into certifiable “shitholes.” With Libya and Syria, Washington has helped accelerate the virtual collapse of the countries. Forget nation-building and post-conflict reconstruction: The United States over the last couple decades has been much better at breaking things than putting them back together.

Trump didn’t single out Afghanistan as a “shithole” in his recent comments. He didn’t have to. His policy toward the country conveys very clear what his evaluation is.

“The gloves are off,” the Pentagon has rejoiced. Between last August and December, Washington conducted almost as many air strikes in the country as 2015 and 2016 combined. The U.S. military now attacks the Taliban anywhere and everywhere — which helped ensure more civilian deaths last year than at any other point in the 16-year war — and not just in defense of Afghan forces (which was the Obama-era policy).

Which brings us back to Trump and his woeful perspective on immigration. Afghanistan continues to be the world’s second leading source of refugees (just behind Syria). Libya and Iraq have been hemorrhaging their populations. Other sending countries — El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Congo — can point to the United States as a key player in contributing to the violence, economic chaos, and social unrest that have uprooted a substantial portion of the population — whether it’s been U.S. support for murderous dictatorships, misguided U.S. economic programs, or the U.S. market for narcotics.

In other words, so many of the people trying to get into Europe and the United States these days are escaping the conditions that Washington helped to create.

Hey, President Trump, you want to know why those folks, and not Norwegians, are clamoring to get into this country? Ask all those generals that are sitting around your table. However profane they might be in private — just consider the military origin of the acronyms “snafu” and “fubar” — these military professionals would never violate protocol by referring to other countries in a derogatory fashion. This isn’t the 19th century. But they have blood on their hands nonetheless.

Flipping the Script

Trump made his comments about immigration shortly after meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Trump was suitably impressed with the country. No doubt he wished he could run a predominantly white country made wealthy by oil.

Although the United States currently enjoys a booming stock market and low unemployment, Trump knows quite well the economic distress in much of the country. Those are the areas that put him over the top in the Electoral College. Those are the areas he loves to visit as president to remind him of those boisterous campaign rallies where everyone, and not just 30 percent of the audience, loved him. Those are also the areas that are going to continue to suffer as a result of his feed-the-rich economic policies.

Those are the areas that, dare I say it, Trump considers “shitholes.”

I’m not putting words in his mouth. “I want to make the country great again,” he told the press back in May 2015. “This country is a hellhole. We are going down fast.”

As I said, first come the insults, then comes the injury. Trump has, in a sense, invaded the United States and unleashed his special brand of fire and fury on the homeland. Now he’s methodically turning this country into a shithole for 99 percent of its residents. He’s been busy all year destroying the United States in order to “save” it.

Trump was prophetic. We are indeed going down fast. And the Norwegians are not coming to the rescue.

The post The U.S. Has Treated Poor Countries Like Shitholes for Decades appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


A U.S. Soldier Died in Niger. What on Earth Are We Doing There?


Kenny Holston 21/Flickr

In our military-revering culture, it’s a strange thing for a president to start a war of words with the grieving families of slain soldiers.

Strange, yes. But from Donald Trump’s campaign season feud with the parents of Humayun Khan, who died protecting fellow soldiers in Iraq, to his recent feud with the mourning widow of La David Johnson, who died on patrol in Niger, it’s no longer surprising.

At root in the latest spat is a comment Trump made to La David’s widow Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” Myeshia thought that remark was disrespectful — she later said it “made me cry.”

Beyond insensitive, though, there’s a good chance it simply wasn’t true.

Why, after all, should La David have expected to die in a dusty corner of Niger — a Saharan country most Americans (and, one suspects, their president) couldn’t find on a map? And where the U.S. isn’t actually at war?

If you were surprised to learn the U.S. has nearly a thousand troops in Niger, you’re not alone. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Armed Forces Committee, told NBC he “had no idea.” Neither did Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat.

Well, the surprises may keep coming.

The New York Times notes that the U.S. now has “over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.” Count it again: 172 countries, out of 193 UN member states.

Most of us remain at least dimly aware that we still have thousands of troops in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Cold War outposts like Japan, South Korea, and Germany. But what about the 160-plus others? And where are the nearly 38,000 troops whose location the Pentagon lists as “unknown”?

We catch an occasional glimpse of this global footprint when a U.S. service member dies someplace surprising — as Ryan Owens did earlier this year in Yemen, and a Navy SEAL did several months later in Somalia. More rarely we catch darker reminders still, when our wars abroad come home in the form of terrorist attacks. But mostly the American people remain every bit as in the dark as Graham and Schumer.

Americans like to imagine ourselves as citizens of a democracy that rejects the colonial ambitions of Old World powers like France and the UK. And yet we’ve deployed troops to literally most of the planet, and our leading lawmakers — tasked by the Constitution with the exclusive right to declare war — don’t even know about it.

Worse still, Congress appears to be abetting its own irrelevance.

Earlier this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan quietly killed an amendment by Democrat Barbara Lee that would’ve revoked Congress’ post-9/11 Authorization of Military Force, which has been used as a fig leaf of legality for this global war making. And last month the Senate voted 2:1 to reject an amendment from Republican Rand Paul that would’ve done the same.

Odds are, the real victims from our post-9/11 wars live in countries we seldom see or hear about. But as veteran and Army strategist Danny Sjursen writes, “the potential, and all too pervasive, deaths of American service members demand a public hearing” too. Especially when 16-plus years of war doesn’t appear to have made the world any safer.

When our soldiers kill and die in fruitless wars we don’t know about and can’t end, we’re not a democracy anymore — we’re an empire. And perhaps a fading one at that.

The post A U.S. Soldier Died in Niger. What on Earth Are We Doing There? appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


VIDEO: The U.S. War in Afghanistan Is Now 16 Years Old. Trump Has No Plans to End It.

On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The war is now 16 years old — and that’s not even counting the decade of U.S. intervention in the country during the Cold War.

Donald Trump once advocated the “speedy withdrawal” of U.S. troops from that country. As president, however, he’s gone in the opposite direction, demanding the U.S. must now “fight to win.” 

As Phyllis Bennis, director of the IPS New Internationalism project, explains in this short video, Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. He’s not said how many new troops he’ll send or how long they’ll be deployed. Worse still, civilian casualties in multiple U.S. wars have been on the rise since he took office — by 67 percent in just six months.

It’s clear by now that the solution to terrorism won’t come from using military power, Bennis explains. That can only be achieved by diplomacy. “It’s harder, it takes longer, it’s not as sexy, it’s not sexy on CNN, it’s not any of those things,” she concludes. “But it’s the only thing that will work.” 

Video by Victoria Borneman and Peter Certo.


8 Lessons U.S. Progressives Can Learn From the U.K. Labour Party

(Photo: Victoria M Gardner / Shutterstock)

In March, progressive activists in the United Kingdom had reason to feel deeply discouraged. Nine months earlier, a majority had voted for Brexit, setting in motion plans to pull the U.K. out of the European Union. Then Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May decided to call a “snap election” with the goal of consolidating Tory power in Parliament in the face of weak opposition. The Labour Party, led by progressive Jeremy Corbyn, was polling at a miserable 24 percent and facing the possibility of further marginalization.

But on June 8, Corbyn and the Labour Party experienced a stunning reversal of fortune, almost winning the national election called in to vanquish them. And as of mid-July, Labour is 8 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives.

One key force in this change was a grassroots network called Momentum, formed in 2015 to build participation and engagement in the Labour Party. This election, Momentum mobilized 23,000 members and 150 local chapters through on-the-ground campaigning and social media. Think Our Revolution and with a powerful electoral field operation.

“The results were beautiful,” said Deborah Waters, a Momentum co-founder and volunteer. “I heard it described as ‘the bitterest of victories for the Conservatives and the sweetest of defeats for Labour.’ The winners didn’t really win and the losers didn’t really lose.”

How did this reversal happen? And what can those of us deep in this Trump presidency learn from it? What follows are eight lessons from Momentum and Labour’s remarkable campaign.

Read the full article on YES! Magazine.


On Electric Cars, the U.S. Is Stuck in the Slow Lane


(Photo: Noya Fields / Flickr)

The French government recently announced a plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2040. Not to be outdone, the UK government is now rolling out a similar plan of its own.

These plans sound shockingly radical, but in fact many analysts think those transitions will happen anyway.

For instance, the Dutch bank ING recently predicted that all the cars sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. More conservative estimates put it at 2050. Either way, most experts now see this change on the horizon.

Electric vehicles — or EVs — are already more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, and could soon become cheaper too. High-end models already outperform conventional engines for speed and acceleration.

Yet potential buyers will continue to be wary as long as the range of batteries remains small, and the network of charging points — think gas stations for electric cars — remains patchy.

Rapidly developing technologies could help overcome this “range anxiety,” as the distance between charges could rise from around 100 miles to over 400 in the next decade. But it’s public policy, rather than technology, that’s the real driver of the EV revolution.

Take Norway, where EVs already account for more than 40 percent of new cars sold.

There, a publicly funded network of free charging stations is driving the surge. The government also offered a range of other perks and incentives: scrapping sales and registration taxes for EVs, exempting them from parking charges and road tolls, and allowing them to dodge heavy traffic by using bus and taxi lanes.

As sales of EVs come to overtake gas-powered cars, the subsidies are being phased out. Yet the benefits continue: A growing fleet of clean vehicles will massively reduce air and climate pollution, and Norway is now well placed to develop and export technologies in a fast growing new industry.

As other European governments get more serious about supporting EVs, some conventional automakers are already embracing an electric future. The Swedish company Volvo recently announced that all of its new cars will be electric or hybrids from 2019 onwards.

U.S. manufacturers, on the other hand, could scarcely be more different.

Oil companies and automakers have successfully lobbied the Trump administration to consider reversing Obama-era fuel-economy standards, which could have supported a shift to hybrids and EVs, as well as cutting pollution that leads to thousands of premature deaths every year.

No wonder the big three U.S. automakers — Ford, GM, and Chrysler — lag way behind their global competitors in developing new EVs. Even stock markets are questioning the wisdom of that bet, as Tesla’s value starts to rival its Detroit competitors.

Fortunately, states and cities can still lead where the federal government is failing.

California is sticking with its fuel-economy standards — the nation’s toughest — and mandating automakers to sell “zero emission vehicles” alongside conventional cars.

California’s cities are also leading the way with public charging points, but they’re not alone. Cities from Seattle to Atlanta are embracing EVs through incentives ranging from tax incentives to carpool lane access.

Of course, promoting EVs alone won’t solve our air pollution problem, or help the U.S. meet its share of global action on climate change — especially where electricity is still produced from coal and other fossil fuels.

We’ll also need better public transportation and changes in how cities are planned, to bring homes closer to shops and workplaces. But electric vehicles will be an important part of getting air pollution and climate change under control.

Local politicians need to step up where the Trump administration is failing, or we risk getting left in the slow lane.


The U.S. Gives Refuge to Torture Victims from All Over — Except from Guantanamo


(Photo: Garry Knight / Flickr)

June 26th marks the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This day was declared in 1997 and is celebrated every year to honor the struggles of torture survivors.

In the U.S., it’s estimated that there are half-a-million torture survivors who’ve fled other countries in search of a safe haven. While survivors of torture who end up in the U.S. come from all over the globe, there’s a noticeable absence of a particular group of survivors: those tortured by the U.S. itself — and specifically those tortured at Guantanamo Bay.

Since it opened on January 11th, 2002, the prison at Guantanamo Bay has been one of the world’s most notorious. Housed at a U.S. military base on illegally occupied Cuban territory, the prison has held 779 Muslim men behind its bars over the years. For many, the experience has been devastating — not just for those who remain imprisoned, but for those who’ve been freed as well.

The prison currently houses 41 prisoners. Of those who remain, five men have been cleared for release, and 26 haven’t been either charged or cleared. Only seven have been charged in military commissions, and just three others have been convicted. The farcical semblance of justice that the military commissions have been designed to uphold includes a lack of due process rights, admission of hearsay evidence, and surveillance of attorney-client discussions. A fair trial for those detained is pretty much impossible.

However, this isn’t even the worst of Guantanamo, where at least nine men have died in U.S. custody, seven of those by suicide. Adnan Latif, one of the men who died, was a 32-year-old Yemeni citizen who’d spent 11 years behind bars at Guantanamo, even though he was cleared for release three times. Though questions remain about the government’s claim that he committed suicide, Latif suffered from serious mental health conditions. “Anybody who is able to die will be able to achieve happiness for himself,” he wrote in a parting letter to his attorney. “He has no other hope except that.”

But those who are released often fare no better than those still detained.

Take the case of Lutfi Bin Ali, a Tunisian citizen who spent 13 years in Guantanamo only to be released to Kazakhstan. Despite the fact that Bin Ali was subjected to egregious torture at the hands of the U.S. government, he’s expressed an eagerness to return to Guantanamo rather than face the isolation in his host country, where he knows no one. “At least in Guántanamo there were people to talk to,” he told the Guardian last September. “Here I have nobody.”

Bin Ali was told he’d be able to leave Kazakhstan after two years — a period that came up late last year. But similar to those made while he languished in Guantanamo Bay, where he was dubbed a “low risk” in 2004 but not released for another decade, those promises now look flimsy.

Guantanamo has become synonymous with the torture program orchestrated under the Bush administration. Many of the prisoners who ended up in Guantanamo were first subjected to torture in CIA black sites, the details of which can be found in the Senate Select Intelligence’s Committee report on CIA torture. Some of the worst findings include rectal feeding, eye removal, freezing conditions leading to death, and drowning simulations.

Fifteen years later, the security rationale for Guantanamo appears vaguer than ever. What do we win by housing Muslim men in a prison on illegally occupied land, subverting the rule of law to implement outrageous measures of “justice” and condoning and committing torture?

The rule of law in any democracy is built on the premise of accountability — yet, save for a pending civil suit against two psychologists who helped the CIA design its torture program, there’s been none for the torture that prisoners and former prisoners have experienced. Nor has the U.S. agreed to resettle any of those freed from Guantanamo, a move which symbolically cements their guilt despite their release without charge.

The prison’s future remains unclear, though President Trump has stated that no prisoners should be released. He’s even hinted at plans to “load it up with some bad dudes.”

On the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we have a moral and ethical imperative to execute justice — not justice conceived in the height of a national security panic, but justice that is fair, legitimate, and transparent. Nothing short of this will rectify the harm that’s been done to these prisoners — and our democracy.


Trump’s War on the Climate Will Send U.S. Scientists Fleeing Abroad


(Photo: Shutterstock)

On June 1, the Trump administration made the utterly irresponsible decision to exit the Paris climate accord. Predictably, global reactions are almost unanimously negative.

But what’s the scene in Paris itself?

There, Anne Hidalgo—the mayor of the city where the accord was negotiated—has convened an international forum called #Women4Climate, which is working to address the climate crisis. Meanwhile, new French president Emanuel Macron has pledged to double French solar and wind energy capacity by 2022.

Macron has even gone on TV to make a recruiting pitch to US scientists and clean energy technologists to relocate to France, saying “you are welcome here.” This raises the very real and frightening possibility of an exodus of scientific and technical expertise from the US resulting from Trump’s exit from Paris.

Whether US scientists and engineers take up Macron’s offer or not, Trump’s misguided attempt to revive fossil fuels will undermine American innovation and technological advances—even while the rest of the world benefits from a growing clean energy economy. The White House’s open disdain for climate science will embolden other countries to make pitches similar to Macron’s.

Why shouldn’t they?

Read the full article in Quartz.


The World Won’t Wait for the U.S. to Take Climate Action

In pulling out of the Paris Accord, Trump is putting his own interests and the interests of his fellow billionaires first, IPS associate fellow Daphne Wysham told the Real News Network, noting his many investments in oil and gas projects.

“As a result, we are squandering what little trust and reputation and international standing we have with the international community,” she said.

Trump is also working to pull the U.S. out of the Green Climate Fund, which acknowledges that the world’s largest polluters, including the U.S., are responsible for the shifts in the climate. The GCF is designed so that developed countries provide funds to developing countries to help them meet their Climate Accord goals.

“The U.S. is responsible for 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that are causing significant climate changes,” Wysham explained. “For the U.S. to acknowledge that it created a good share of this problem, but to decide to put itself first and turn its back on countries that are currently suffering extreme weather conditions, is morally and ethically bankrupt.”

While Trump’s announcement is a blow to the reputation of the U.S. on climate change,  it does not undo the work U.S. climate activists have been pushing towards, Wysham said.

“The solution has always been at the local level,” Wysham explained. “State and local officials have a lot of power and they’re showing it out here in the Pacific Northwest.”

Portland currently has a target for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, with activists trying to push that even faster, Wysham explained. The city also has an ordinance for no new fossil fuel export infrastructure. She said that elected officials in both the West and East coast are eager to follow Portland’s lead.

Wysham also explained that the global community will continue to push towards a cleaner energy transition, “whether it’s the European Union joining up with China and pushing forward with plans to address the needs of the Green Development Bank for developing countries, or countries around the world that are moving forward with their plans to pursue renewable energy.”

“The global community is going to push forward regardless of what the U.S. does,” Wysham said. “It is no longer an option to sit around and wait for the one country that has over and over again attempted to disrupt meaningful climate action.”

Watch the full interview on the Real News Network.


Who Suffers the Most from the U.S. Drug War? Families


(Photo: Shutterstock)

Angela Pryor, a 41-year-old woman from Ross County, Ohio, is not living the life she thought she would.

She used to stay at home and take care of her kids while her husband, Jesse, went to work as a carpenter. But as Jesse fell into opioid addiction, Angela had to pick up the slack. It became even harder when he ended up in jail for selling drugs. And harder still when Jesse overdosed and passed away in 2015.

Now Angela’s struggling to care for her five children alone. She’s even lost her house, the Atlantic reported recently.

A few hundred miles to the east, in Washington, another familiar scene played out in the pages of the New York Times.

When Charlene Hamilton’s husband, Carl Harris, was jailed for selling drugs, she was left behind to take care of the kids, pay the rent and feed the family. Like Angela, Charlene found herself homeless more than once. She slept in a car for a month while her kids stayed with other relatives. Meanwhile in prison, Carl started using the drugs he once sold.

The similarities in their stories don’t stop there. Both families lived in communities plagued by joblessness. In Ohio, the decline of good-paying manufacturing jobs combined with health problems have led to a drug epidemic, largely among white men, that was responsible for more than 3,000 deaths statewide just last year.

Meanwhile, majority-black communities have been suffering from unemployment for decades. In the District of Columbia the unemployment rate for black residents — now at 13.4 percent — has actually gotten worse since the recession, even while every other racial and ethnic group in the city has seen an improvement.

These are the conditions that can lead a husband and father like Carl Harris or Jesse Pryor to turn to drug use, abuse and trade. It is what’s called economic despair. And it’s happening all over the country.

As extreme inequality gets worse and the middle class disintegrates, many formerly middle-income white Americans are now experiencing the sorts of pain long suffered by poorer communities of color.

All that’s bad enough. But there’s one man who seems determined to make it all worse: Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Reversing an Obama-era guideline, Sessions recently told federal prosecutors to go after low-level drug offenders and to seek the toughest possible penalties against them.

It’s an unmistakable return to widely discredited mandatory minimum sentencing laws that treat drug use and abuse as a crime, rather than a mental or physical health issue. (Interestingly, Sessions shows little interest in prosecuting the white-collar criminals who are the cause of much of the income inequality that can lead to drug use in the first place.)

The effects of a return to harsher drug law enforcement go beyond the loss of our white and black fathers, husbands and friends. These policies will stifle children for generations to come, as new data show.

Sociology professor Kristin Turney “found that children with incarcerated parents were three times more likely to suffer from depression or behavioral problems, and twice as likely to suffer from learning disabilities and anxiety,” The Nation reported.

That same story quotes a former New Orleans city councilman and former teacher who is an ex-offender himself. He said that when he speaks to schoolchildren and asks if any of them have a family member in prison, “just about everybody raises their hand.”

These students are more statistically likely to drop out, too, which of course makes it more difficult to get a job, continuing the cycle of economic despair.

Poor white families who are now suffering can learn a lot from the suffering that poor black families have endured from this system for decades. These communities can come together to fight reactionary drug war policies like Sessions’, which exacerbate everyone’s suffering.

The Essie Justice Group is one such effort that brings together those often forgotten victims — the women and the families left behind — of the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the economic inequality wrapped up in all of it.

Gina Clayton, who founded the group, has this message for those women like Angela and Charlene: “This loss that I’ve experienced is not OK, and we all need to do something about it.”


The U.S. Must Honor the Commitments it Made in the Paris Agreement

“People should be concerned about what the U.S. would be attempting to do at the negotiating table should it stay in the Paris Accords,” IPS fellow and U.S. policy director at Oil Change International Janet Redman told the Real News Network, as the Trump administration weighs how it’s going to treat the Paris agreement.

While it’s the one international space where the U.S. has made commitments to curb global warming, Redman explained, we’re hearing Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggest that he wants the U.S. to stay in that space so that we can renegotiate our position there. “There’s been talk of trying to bring in language to encourage technologies that will give coal a new life,” Redman said.

However, Redman said staying in the agreement offers an opportunity for other countries as well as people inside the U.S to pressure the U.S. government into “honoring our commitments to reduce emissions from the fossil fuel sector. There is conversation about how other countries can incentivize the United States.”

Redman went on to discuss the financial costs of delayed action on climate change, citing a World Bank statistic that for “every one dollar that we decide not to spend on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, we actually spend 7 dollars cleaning up the disaster in extreme weather-related disasters, storms, and other impacts from climate change.”

Redman also spoke about job expansion in the renewable energy sector within the United States.

“Renewable energy is a more job-dense sector than the fossil fuel industry, but it’s also the largest-growing job sector in the United States overall,” Redman said. “If we want to talk about making America great again on the international stage, this is where we are going to see some interesting economic growth.”

“It is not just political. This is where the markets are heading even while we are seeing signals from the administration that are trying to put the brakes on this part of the industry,” Redman concluded.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of these interviews on the Real News Network.