FRESH TAKES ON BIG CHALLENGES: OUR BLOGS & ARTICLES

Land Grab Update: Mozambique, Africa Still in the Crosshairs

Originally published by Food Tank on 10/31/2016 On October 12, the government of Mozambique quietly announced that it would close its Agriculture Promotion Centre (CEPAGRI), the agency created in 2006 to promote large-scale foreign investment in the country’s agricultural sector. In a terse statement, government spokesman Mouzinho Saide gave no reason for the closure, saying only that its functions would be subsumed under a different agency in the Ministry of Agriculture. Longtime Mozambique analyst Joseph Hanlon was not so shy, reporting in his October 18 Mozambique News Report that CEPAGRI was finished because those large-scale projects it was supposed to broker: “none of them have succeed

Trickle-Up Democracy: State and Local Ballots Give Voters A Say

Even in a presidential campaign where both candidates are speaking out against the influence of big money in politics, it’s easy to be cynical about the prospects for reform. The failure of Congress to take even baby steps in the right direction is enough to dishearten even the most idealistic among us. But there is hope for our political system coming from the grass roots. Citizens across the country may well turn the 2016 election into a watershed moment for democracy. Using ballot initiatives to skirt dysfunctional national and state legislatures, these reforms would enhance the voices of ordinary Americans and send a loud message to national politicians to stand up with citizens for demo

Why Overturning Citizens United Isn’t Enough

You don't have to think our democracy works perfectly to be appalled at Donald Trump's attack on it. Amidst all the other headline-grabbing pronouncements in Wednesday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton mentioned the importance of overturning Citizens United. While this is encouraging, focusing on Citizens United is not enough; our campaign finance system was broken well before 2010. If Clinton is serious about reducing the role of money in politics, she should appoint Supreme Court justices willing to revisit Buckley v. Valeo, a 1976 decision that said (among other things) third parties could spend unlimited amounts to influence the outcome of an election, and First National Bank of Boston v.

Talking Democracy with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Campaign finance reform advocate predicts victory will come like snow off a roof after a New England spring thaw: "in a big woosh." Editor’s Note: Frances Moore Lappé, founder of the Small Planet Institute and an arrestee during April’s Democracy Spring demonstrations, and Adam Eichen, a fellow at the Institute, are writing a book on the Democracy Movement. As part of their research, they recently interviewed Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat whose father — as he alludes to in the interview — was a career Foreign Service officer who served as the US ambassador to Laos and Thailand. Whitehouse is a sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, which would require sources of “independent” donati

Will the Real Litterbug Please Stand Up?

Originally published by Earth Island Journal on 10/03/2016 On October 13, 1953, executives from beer, soda, chewing gum, cigarette, and candy companies, as well as the packaging and chemical industries, launched a new organization: Keep America Beautiful. As The New York Times would write a year later, the group called itself “a national public service organization for the elimination of litter.” While the public-facing conceit was that the group would launch a “drive against litter,” the organization was really developed to push back against the environmental movement’s increasing pressure on industry to clean up its act. One of Keep America Beautiful’s early PR successes was coining the te

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the Institute of writers, speakers, & activists Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé

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