On the sparsely populated Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Circle, there is a giant “doomsday” seed vault, which houses samples of the seeds of crops from gene banks around the world. The theory behind this plan was that some huge cataclysm might wipe out some important types of plants and the frozen vault would serve as a last-chance place for humanity to recover some of those seeds.
It was opened back in 2008, and it’s already had its first withdrawal.
The cause was the Syrian Civil War, and in particular the years of fighting over Syria’s former financial and industrial capital of Aleppo. Among the many things that were located in Aleppo was the International Center for Agricultural Research in The Dry Areas (ICARDA), which had been the primary gene bank for a lot of seeds that can grow in dry climates like Syria.
Luckily, the group had deposited copies of the seeds at the doomsday vault, and having had to relocate from the rubble that used to be Aleppo to Lebanon, they’re withdrawing those seeds, to replace all the ones that got destroyed in Aleppo. The plan is to make copies of those seeds and send those back to the vault, in case Northern Lebanon isn’t as safe as it seems right now.
September 23, 2015| News | Rolf Otto Niederstrasser
For decades, Cuba had been ruled out by international organizations, such as the OAS (Organization of American States), the WTO (World Trade Organization), the Commission on Human Rights, among others.
What had been neglected for a long time, was the path of self-determination of Cuba and its people and a promotion of diplomacy instead of hostility. Steps to bring democracy into Cuba have been forced upon with an economic embargo for nearly 5 decades. The trade embargo still exists; named after the originators of the laws Torricelli and Helms-Burton and other laws signed by former President George W. Bush.
This plan tried to bring the collapsing of Cuba and the transition to a democratic system. But in recent years, changes in the political landscape of Cuba and its international involvement in “medical diplomacy” have brought the island state to gain significant influence. President Obama’s move to normalize U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations was not an act of benevolence. Apart from polls stating the support of normalizing relations by Cuban-Americans, the millions of Dollars spent in holding up the failed policies, and the lack of results it brought, the international support for Cuba was a key factor. In fact, improved relations with Cuba will open the path for better cooperation between the U.S. government and the Latin American states.
Kabul – Some days ago, at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center, I met Jamila, the mother of a little girl, Fatima, who comes to the Street Kids School, a program designed to help children working on the streets go to school. Jamila, a young mother of seven, smiles and laughs easily, even though she faces dire circumstances here in Kabul.
Nine years ago, at age 19, she fled escalating conflict in Pul e Khumri, located in the northern province of Baghlan, and moved to Kabul. Jamila had already been married for 12 years.
Her family, desperate for income, had sold her in marriage to an older man when she was seven years old. As a child, she lived in servitude to the family of her future husband, earning a small income for them through sewing and embroidering.
At age 13, She gave birth to her oldest daughter . With her when we met were two of her middle daughters, Fatima and Nozuko. Her oldest daughter is no longer with her, as, at age 12, she was given away, six years ago now, in marriage. Jamila is determined not to give her remaining daughters away in marriage while they are still children.
Hadisa, a bright 18-year-old Afghan girl, ranks as the top student in her 12th grade class. “The question is,” she wondered, “are human beings capable of abolishing war?”
Like Hadisa, I had my doubts about whether human nature could have the capacity to abolish war. For years, I had presumed that war is sometimes necessary to control ‘terrorists’, and based on that presumption, it didn’t make sense to abolish it. Yet my heart went out to Hadisa when I imagined her in a future riddled with intractable violence.
Hadisa tilted her head slightly in deep thought. She listened attentively to different opinions voiced by fellow Afghan Peace Volunteers. She struggles to find answers.
But when Hadisa turns up at the Borderfree Afghan Street Kids School every Friday to teach the child breadwinners, now numbering 100 in morning and afternoon classes, she lays aside her doubts.
I can see her apply her inner compassion which rises way above the war that is still raging in Afghanistan.
Two Fridays ago, I had the pleasure of being on the Ron Paul Liberty Report, along with Dr. Paul and Daniel McAdams, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Executive Director. We chatted about my Antiwar piece “Who Is Listening to Dick Cheney?”, about the lack of consequences for warmongering (or any government outrage, in fact!), and had time to sneak in a brief drug war chat at the end.
In The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam quotes US president Lyndon Baines Johnson on his desired qualities in an assistant: “I want loyalty! I want him to kiss my a– in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses.”
Nearly every “major party” presidential candidate this year and in past election cycles seems to have taken that advice to heart, but in an odd way. They come off less as applicants for the presidency of the United States than for the position of personal aide to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The second Republican presidential primary debate looked a lot like Macy’s window at high noon:
Jeb Bush: “[T]he first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel …”
Carly Fiorina: “On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.”