Microcredit and the Alternative to “Job Creation”

When money is lent to the right people under the right conditions, it can transform lives and even entire communities.  This principle has been driving a revolution in international development: the microcredit revolution. Normally, the only financing available to impoverished communities comes from loan sharks, who require such exploitative rates that borrowers can never escape … Continue reading

We Don’t Need a War Tax

I’m now going to respond to an op-ed piece in the New York Times, which I suggest you read first. In the article, entitled “A Tax to Pay for War,” R. Russell Rumbaugh – an Army veteran and a former analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate Budget Committee – argues that we … Continue reading

Something We Can All Agree On

China and the United States produce the largest CO2 emissions in the world. But do you know who comes in 3rd? No, it’s not the E.U., Brazil or Australia. It’s not India or the state of Texas. It’s slavery. Earlier this week I heard from Kevin Bales – author and co-founder of Free the Slaves … Continue reading

You Can’t Lend a Hand When Your Arms Are Tied

Tell me this won’t make an amazing movie: Chen Guangcheng, one of the best-known and most politically savvy Chinese dissidents, evaded security forces surrounding his home this week and, aided by an underground network of human rights activists, secretly made his way about 300 miles to Beijing, where he is believed to have found refuge … Continue reading

Going Local to Stop Displacement

Yet another reason to go to the farmers’ market! Around the world, federal governments and corporations have entered a new “global gold rush” – for agricultural land. They buy up property to use in the coming food crisis and cross national borders for the cheapest and most underused plots. But while purchasing these huge chunks … Continue reading

Death and Displacement in America: the EPA Decision

Paw prints from a cat on a LaBelle, PA windowsill. Tests revealed the dust is 100% coal ash. When Yma Smith first started noticing the discoloration on her home, the damage on her roof, and the dust collecting on her shutters, she had no idea it was coal ash. But many of the coal miners … Continue reading

Law or Roof?

Polling lines and roofs, Iraq 2005 – public domain When asked about their greatest needs, internally displaced people (IDP) in Iraq list legal help above shelter, sanitation and education. Why? Why request a lawyer before a roof? In general, access to work, food, and shelter have been the most pressing concerns for Iraqi IDP’s since … Continue reading

Shopping for Slavery

The following list by the US Department of Labor outlines products that are known to be created by forced or indentured child labor, also known as child slavery. Note the repeated presence of certain countries, like Burma. Also note that these products and places do not make up a complete list. As the abolitionist movement … Continue reading

The Sound of Music and the Marginalized

Displaced people have a reputation of being primarily non-Western. It is easy in the United States to see them as foreign and other. Then Katrina happens. New Orleans and other Gulf towns get flushed out by the storm and cities from Houston to Boston start taking in the refugees, offering beds and canned food and … Continue reading

Faith-Based and Slave-Free

Many churches, temples and other faith-based organizations serve coffee, tea and cocoa to their attendants. Increasingly these groups want to see their consumer choices reflect a heart for justice and compassion, so many are turning to Fair Trade and other ethically grown products. Why the switch? Cocoa farms in West Africa grow most of the … Continue reading

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