FRESH TAKES ON BIG CHALLENGES: OUR BLOGS & ARTICLES

How a Small New England State is Becoming a Trailblazer for Democracy

Originally published on HuffPost on 12/28/2017 . Over the past year, I have interviewed democracy reformers across the country. I have heard many stories of victories that have pushed state democracies forward, most of which were recorded in my book Daring Democracy, coauthored with Frances Moore Lappé. Since handing in the manuscript, though, there have been many more successes and emerging grassroots efforts. This interview is a part of an effort to chronicle these developments in the growing Democracy Movement. Recently, I spoke with John Marion, the executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, who, since 2008, has led the organization. He has successfully spearheaded numerous pieces

California Leads The Way in Transparency

Originally published on Huff Post on 12/22/2018 Trent Lange with California Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León and Clean Money supporters after crucial hearing for California DISCLOSE Act.. Over the past year, I have interviewed democracy reformers across the country. I have heard many stories of victories that have pushed state democracies forward, most of which were recorded in my book Daring Democracy, coauthored with Frances Moore Lappé. Since handing in the manuscript, though, there have been many more successes and emerging grassroots efforts. This interview is part of an effort to chronicle these developments in the growing Democracy Movement. Recently, I spoke with Trent Lange, t

Keep Your Eyes on the Price: WTO Remains Blind to Agricultural Dumping

Originally published by Food Tank on 12/15/2017 Farm leaders from around the world converged in Buenos Aires this week. They traveled to pressure the trade ministers attending the biennial World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference to stop unfair trade practices that are hurting farmers. Once again, they went home empty-handed. Some farmers lobbied delegates inside the heavily fortified Hilton Hotel, where the WTO trade ministers huddled for four days. More took to the streets, where their “Agriculture Out of the WTO!” banners waved in a week of peaceful protests. The talks closed Wednesday evening with a whimper, as Director-General Roberto Azevêdo conceded that little progress h

We Saved Net Neutrality Once. We Can Do It Again

Originally published on Yes! Magazine on 12/12/2017 Photo Credit: Joseph Gruber/Flickr. Democracy lives or dies on the quality of public conversation. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Today it doesn’t take the smarts of a Jefferson to realize that our public conversation, filtered through corporate-controlled, often-fractured media, is faltering. While analyzing how to fix our broken news system, from the promotion of public broadcasting to eliminating fake news, is complex, right now is a critical moment to hold the line. If

WTO Summit to Ignore Price Crisis, Agricultural Dumping

Originally published by Common Dreams on 12/10/2017 Farmers in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India. Farmers in India have struggled to make a living in recent years amid low crop prices. (Photo: Feng Zhong/Flickr/cc) Crops are in across the U.S. farm belt, with record harvests filling farmers’ silos with grain and their hearts with pride. Yet persistent and punishingly low prices for those crops leave them no better off for their efforts. Net farm income this year is about half what it was in 2013. U.S. farmers are not alone. The world is experiencing what Reuters called a “global grain glut,” with many staple food crops filling silos from Brazil to the Ukraine. Crop prices have fallen dramat

India’s Public Stockholding: “Much more than a welfare program”

Originally published by Food Tank on 12/9/2017 This is the second of a two-part article series. Read part one here. India’s National Food Security Act (NFSA) seemed to be an effective way to get a basic food ration to the majority of Indians who struggle to feed their families, at least in the state of Madhya Pradesh. There, Dr. Manohar Agnani, State Commissioner for Food and Civil Supplies, was expanding the reach and scope of the program while wringing fraud and inefficiencies from the system. But what about the payment of subsidized prices to farmers to acquire that food, the part of the NFSA that had run afoul of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules? “The NFSA starts with farmers and pro

WTO and Food Security: Biting the Hand that Feeds the Poor

Originally published by Food Tank on 12/8/2017 This is the first of a two-part article series. Read part two here. Since 2013, controversy has swirled around India’s National Food Security Act (NFSA), the most ambitious food security initiative in the world, with its plans to buy food grains from small-scale farmers to distribute to some 840 million poor Indians, two-thirds of the country’s people. The controversy came at the World Trade Organization (WTO), where the U.S. government accused India of unfairly subsidizing its farmers by paying a support price above market prices. At the WTO biannual ministerial conference in Bali, India stood firm, questioning the subsidy calculation as an art

The Power of Words and the War on Democracy

Originally published on Alternet on 12/8/2017 Photo Credit: John Gomez / Shutterstock.com. Even single words have enormous power to shape our world. So, with our democracy in crisis, it’s critical to rethink terms undermining democracy and to take care in choosing words that further the values and interests of most Americans. Though largely invisible, an anti-democracy movement bankrolled over decades by a handful of extreme-right families has been strikingly effective in choosing their words to rig the rules of our democracy, as documented by journalist Jane Mayer, among others. A key to its success is its simple storyline, spread widely: “Government is our enemy. It takes our money and was

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