Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Food Security: Anti-hunger groups to mobilize on SNAP — Dietary Guidelines discussion kicks off — Where ag falls in NAFTA round 7


Thanks to your fellow member Rudy Arredondo, President National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association (NLFRTA), Website:  for keeping us abreast of ongoing efforts on the U.S. Farm Bill, and food security issues not only in the U.S., but within the Americas.

Thanks Rudy.


The hostility among some 1,200 anti-hunger advocates was palpable on Monday as Brandon Lipps, the USDA's top nutrition official, started discussing the department's "America's Harvest Box" concept.  Boos and mocking laughter erupted.  At least 20 people walked out in protest during the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, report Pro Ag's Catherine Boudreau and Helena Bottemiller Evich.
Those expressions demonstrate how motivated anti-hunger advocates - including food bank officials, community organizers and nutrition policy experts - are to fight back against the Trump administration's attempts to trim the social safety net.
Lipps, who serves as both administrator of USDA's Food and Nutrition Service and as acting deputy undersecretary of food, nutrition and consumer services, calmly welcomed the feedback, however expressed. "Your boos are welcome, but so are your good ideas," Lipps said. "Please talk to us. All new ideas require dialogue."

McGovern stirs up the opposite reaction:
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) was received by loud applause and a standing ovation as he lambasted Republicans for trying to pay for their priorities on the backs of low-income Americans.
He encouraged the audience to oppose the House version of the next farm bill -- which he has yet to see -- if it includes large cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other feeding programs. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway has said he intends to unveil the legislation in the coming weeks.
"We'll be in a position to write a better farm bill after November," McGovern said, suggesting that Democrats may be able to take control of the House after the midterm elections.

Today's action:
Many of the advocates will spend the day on Capitol Hill fighting cutbacks to food stamps and other aid programs.

Welcome to Morning Ag, where your host will head to Mexico City later this week for the seventh round of NAFTA talks.  Anything specific you want to hear about the negotiations? News and tips to share? Send my way: or @sabrod123. Follow the whole team at @Morning_Ag.

We know, we know, you cannot believe it's already time for Dietary Guidelines. The 2015 round was so brutal with the public fights. We can't believe it, either.
But on Monday, USDA formally kicked off the discussion for 2020 (which is already behind schedule) by switching up the process a bit: The agency is outlining the topics ahead of time and opening them up for comment immediately.

What's happening now:
The Dietary Guidelines, updated every five years, set nutrition policy for the federal government, including billions of dollars in nutrition programs.
An outside panel of experts, known as the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, is usually assembled before topics and questions are set, but this time around, the order will be reversed. The administration has named its own topics and questions before seeking nominations for the panel.

Why the change-up:
The shakeup comes after a bitter battle over the last update, which included high-profile battles over sustainability and meat recommendations. After the fallout from the last go-around, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed the process and made recommendations for how to make it more "trustworthy."
Administration officials said they were making the change to improve transparency and engage the public earlier in the process. It remains to be seen how the change-up will be received by public health advocates, especially because it's not clear how selecting the topics ahead of time will ultimately affect the outcome, if at all. More from Helena here.

FOOD SAFETY TALK WILL BE AT END OF ROUND 7: Negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico will leave discussions on the almost-complete chapters until the last days of the seventh round of NAFTA talks, according to an official schedule obtained by POLITICO, yours truly reports. Last month, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said those chapters - food safety, digital trade and telecommunications - were about 90 percent complete. The working group on sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, which governs rules on food safety and animal and plant health, will meet on Sunday, March 4.

Other meetings of interest:
Most of the groups will meet for two days, including those on labor, energy and environment. Agriculture also met for two days, Sunday and Monday.

Unexpected rules of origin change:
Discussions on automotive rules of origin were postponed after the chief U.S. negotiator for that policy area left the round to return to Washington. The U.S. lead was headed back to the U.S. "for consultations" and talks on the subject would be rescheduled, a source told Pro Trade's Megan Cassella.  It's unclear whether the talks on rules of origin will resume in this round or be delayed until later next month, but the policy issue had been expected to be a major topic of discussion during the round.

The wrap up:
The top trade officials - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland - will meet on Monday, March 5. More from your host here.

Today's the big day for corn farmers, oil refineries, and their champions in the Senate. Sens. Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley will meet with President Donald Trump and his top advisers to see if there's some kind of deal to be struck in the Renewable Fuel Standard.

What's on the table:
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue met Monday with Trump to offer a package of changes that would include creating biofuel credits for exported ethanol, a cap on credit prices, a waiver for 15 percent ethanol gasoline blends, and some transparency measures. Few details were forthcoming from that meeting, though Pro Energy hears they made progress toward a deal they hope corn can accept.

Drawing the line:
Toomey is strongly backing administrative action by EPA to tweak the regulations. "I would support legislation that would deal with it, but [administrative action] would be much quicker," Toomey told reporters.

Gang Grain has never been into this idea:
Grassley and ethanol producers rejected the credit cap proposal months ago. As for farmers, a group of six farm groups - National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, American Soybean Association, National Sorghum Producers, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union - joined together in a Monday letter to ask Trump to not weaken the RFS, highlighting it as a crucial support for farm economies.

Carper backs RIN fix:
The top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Tom Carper, told our Pro Energy colleagues that he would support a move to make the RIN market less volatile and more transparent. but said he wasn't sure if it could be done administratively. Fixing the RIN market, Carper said, would "not do harm to the Renewable Fuel Standard" but would "frankly help a number of refineries." Carper's Delaware constituents work for the plants claiming damage from the RFS, including the now-bankrupt Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

- Supreme Court won't hear water transfer rule challenge: The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear challenges to a 2008 EPA rule that allows water managers to transfer supplies between lakes and reservoirs without pollution control permits, even if the transfer moves dirty water into a pristine basin. Western states that heavily rely on such transfers had been watching the rule closely, Pro Energy's Annie Snider reports.

- Brady: Trump knows he must work with Congress on NAFTA: President Donald Trump knows he must pay attention to concerns from Congress to win approval on a revised NAFTA deal, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said Monday. The Trump administration has made a number of proposals that seem to be aimed at attracting Democrats' votes but have little support from Republican lawmakers. He will lead a bipartisan congressional delegation to Mexico City later this week for the NAFTA talks. Pro Trade's Doug Palmer has more.

- California must stop pesticide spraying: California agricultural officials have been ordered by a state judge to stop spraying pesticides on public and private property to control insects that threaten the state's $45-billion agriculture industry, the Los Angeles Times writes. Farmers and property owners will still be allowed to use chemical insecticides.

- American farmers take on more jobs outside the farm: As most U.S. farm households cannot solely rely on farm income, more farmers are taking on side jobs in rural business and manufacturing, The Wall Street Journal reports. With the slump in commodity crop prices over the last five years, 82 percent of U.S. farm household income is expected to come in from off-farm work this year, according to the USDA.

- Food companies weigh price hikes over higher transport costs: Some companies in the food, consumer goods and commodities sectors are considering raising their prices in the wake of rising transportation and delivery costs, Reuters reports. Companies like General Mills and Tyson Foods are weighing price increases, which could soon mean higher costs for consumers on chicken, cereal and snacks.

- Trump criticizes WTO judges: Trump lashed out at the World Trade Organization, complaining inaccurately that the world trade body seldom rules in favor of the United States. Trump, speaking at a White House meeting with 39 U.S. governors, did not mention any specific cases, but U.S. trade officials have long complained about a number of rulings against American anti-dumping regulations. More from Doug here.

- Changes at DowDuPont: DowDuPont's agriculture division will be renamed Corteva Agriscience when it is spun off with DuPont Crop Protection, DuPont Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences to become a standalone agriculture company. The spinoff is expected by June 1, 2019, and headquarters will be in Wilmington, Del. More from Farm Futures here.

- Russian food exports up: Thanks to exports of wheat, frozen fish and sugar, Russian food exports jumped 25 percent last year to $19 billion. Half the world's countries buy wheat from Russia, the world's top wheat exporter, which has been offering harvests at appealing prices, Bloomberg reports.

- From Vegan mayo to Liberia: Hampton Creek (recently renamed Just) is launching a fortified cassava porridge product in Liberia, The Washington Post reports.

- Inhumane farmworker housing: The U.S. Department of Labor found that Future Ag Management, a California farm labor contractor, was housing 22 workers in overcrowded living conditions infested with insects, and with water unsafe for human consumption. Future Ag will pay $168,082 in penalties, The Fresno Bee writes.

- More controversy over Cornell's Wansink: BuzzFeed has a new deep dive alleging shoddy research practices by Brian Wansink, an influential Cornell University researcher on consumer behavior and nutrition. Read the latest here.

To view online:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

21st Century Slavery. Human and Sex trafficking is just slavery.

21st Century Slavery.

Human and Sex trafficking is just slavery.

U.S., and global sanctions not just for Libya BUT ALL nations involved. Those surrounding nations and nations that individuals are migrating from (.Nigeria, etc.)

Take the most extreme methods of addressing the issue.

CDS. CEO BEMA International

Monday, February 26, 2018

Drought. A GLOBAL CONCERN. February 2018. What life looks like at 'Day Zero'

Could you withstand one day, one week, or a month living in the same conditions of water rationing that the community of Cape Town, South Africa are experiencing?

TAKE ACTION NOW!   Take action now for your communities.

CDS.  CEO BEMA International

What life looks like at 'Day Zero'

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam and his family try to use just 25 liters of water per person, to mimic what life could soon be like for Cape Town residents.

February "Ambassador's Luncheon" to hear from His Excellency Selwin Hart, Ambassador of the Barbados to the U.S.

An invitation from Sister Cities International

Join us at our February "Ambassador's Luncheon" to hear from His Excellency Selwin Hart, Ambassador of the Barbados to the U.S.

Dear friends,

Please join Sister Cities International and the City Club of Washington for our Ambassador's Luncheon this Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at the City Club of Washington.

Each month, we host a different Ambassador to speak about their work and the importance of citizen diplomacy while attendees enjoy lunch. This event will be complimentary to members of the City Club and $20 for guests.

  *Click on the image to download a PDF of the flyer
To RSVP, be sure to email Annalise Parks at We hope to see you on Wednesday.


The Sister Cities International Team

Copyright © 2018 Sister Cities International, All rights reserved.
Members and event attendees

Our mailing address is:
Sister Cities International
915 15th Street NW
4th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

FREE COURSE: Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

Developed by the Humanitarian Learning Centre, this Disaster Risk Reduction and Management online course provides an in-depth overview of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) to humanitarian professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of DRRM.

The course explains how we can use Disaster Risk Reduction and Management to understand risk and vulnerability, prevent a hazard from becoming a disaster and mitigate its impact by making communities more resilient.

At the end of the course, you will:
  • Have developed a solid understanding of DRRM key concepts, models, and frameworks.
  • Have understood the importance of adopting a people-centred approach to DRRM.
  • Have the confidence to put into practice the most recent learning and knowledge around DRRM.
The course is free of charge and available on our learning platform Kaya.
Start learning today!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

FREE.....February 28th Event. African American-Turkish Connections Through the Arts.

** Light Appetizer & Drinks
*** Free Admission 


Please join us for an

featuring profiles of

In honor of:

Rayburn HOB, Room 2261
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Reception from 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM


***** TRUE STORY: When Turkish Embassy in DC was hosting African-Americans for social event in 50s : it caused a diplomatic crisis.
U.S Government Officials  warned Turks not to take African-Americans in. The State Dep advised Turks to take African Americans from the back door. Turks refused. 

Then-Turkish Ambassador Munir Ertegun -Father of Ahmet Ertegun- responded that all guests of the Turkey would enter through the front door as equals.Police arrested the Ambassador's son, Ahmet Ertegun, for violating segregation laws. 

Turkish Embassy in DC began to host jazz concerts in 1950s because the National Press Club had refused to host the jazz concerts organized by the ambassador's son Ahmed. 

The reason? The concerts were going to be open for Black Americans. 

“Orgies While People Are Dying”: How Charity Oxfam Allowed Sex Abuse in Ailing Countries Like Haiti

Why does it take so long for these types of incidents to come to light.
Haiti 8-years?
Will Ebola financial mishandling take more then 5 to 8 years to come to light for Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia?  Possible 12-years or more?


Could an unbiased professional entity or organization be utilized to immediatly address issue to evaluate and monitor OXFAM, Save the Children, even the United Nations? YES. IT ALREADY EXISTS.


Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. On Tuesday, Oxfam’s leadership was questioned by British lawmakers, and apologized for its failure to report sexual misconduct to Haitian authorities. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Haiti has threatened to expel Oxfam from the country over the scandal. For more, we speak with Sean O’Neill, chief reporter at The Times newspaper in London, which broke the story of the scandal.

We also speak with Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat and Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Population, Water & Food Security in Major Cities Globally.


The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water - like Cape Town

  • 11 February 2018
Dripping tap

A quarter of the world's major cities face a situation of water stress

Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water.
However, the plight of the drought-hit South African city is just one extreme example of a problem that experts have long been warning about - water scarcity.
Despite covering about 70% of the Earth's surface, water, especially drinking water, is not as plentiful as one might think. Only 3% of it is fresh.
Over one billion people lack access to water and another 2.7 billion find it scarce for at least one month of the year. A 2014 survey of the world's 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of "water stress"
According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.
Presentational grey line

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Presentational grey line
It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the other 11 cities most likely to run out of water.

1. São Paulo

Brazil's financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.
At the height of the crisis, the city of over 21.7 million inhabitants had less than 20 days of water supply and police had to escort water trucks to stop looting.
Sao Paulo droughtImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAt the height of the drought, Sao Paulo's reservoirs became a desolate landscape
It is thought a drought that affected south-eastern Brazil between 2014 and 2017 was to blame, but a UN mission to São Paulo was critical of the state authorities "lack of proper planning and investments".
The water crisis was deemed "finished" in 2016, but in January 2017 the main reserves were 15% below expected for the period - putting the city's future water supply once again in doubt.

2. Bangalore

Local officials in the southern Indian city have been bamboozled by the growth of new property developments following Bangalore's rise as a technological hub and are struggling to manage the city's water and sewage systems.
To make matters worse, the city's antiquated plumbing needs an urgent upheaval; a report by the national government found that the city loses over half of its drinking water to waste.
Like China, India struggles with water pollution and Bangalore is no different: an in-depth inventory of the city's lakes found that 85% had water that could only be used for irrigation and industrial cooling.
Not a single lake had suitable water for drinking or bathing.
Polluted lake in BangaloreImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPollution in Bangalore's lakes is rife

3. Beijing

The World Bank classifies water scarcity as when people in a determined location receive less than 1,000 cubic metres of fresh water per person a year.
In 2014, each of the more than 20 million inhabitants of Beijing had only 145 cubic metres.
China is home to almost 20% of the world's population but has only 7% of the world's fresh water.
A Columbia University study estimates that the country's reserves declined 13% between 2000 and 2009.
And there's also a pollution problem. Official figures from 2015 showed that 40% of Beijing's surface water was polluted to the point of not being useful even for agriculture or industrial use.
The Chinese authorities have tried to address the problem by creating massive water diversion projects. They have also introduced educational programmes, as well as price hikes for heavy business users.

4. Cairo

Once crucial to the establishment of one of the world's greatest civilisations, the River Nile is struggling in modern times.
It is the source of 97% of Egypt's water but also the destination of increasing amounts of untreated agricultural, and residential waste.
Pollution on the NileImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Nile provides 97% of Egypt's water supply
World Health Organization figures show that Egypt ranks high among lower middle-income countries in terms of the number of deaths related to water pollution.
The UN estimates critical shortages in the country by 2025.

5. Jakarta

Like many coastal cities, the Indonesian capital faces the threat of rising sea levels.
But in Jakarta the problem has been made worse by direct human action. Because less than half of the city's 10 million residents have access to piped water, illegal digging of wells is rife. This practice is draining the underground aquifers, almost literally deflating them.
As a consequence, about 40% of Jakarta now lies below sea level, according to World Bank estimates.
To make things worse, aquifers are not being replenished despite heavy rain because the prevalence of concrete and asphalt means that open fields cannot absorb rainfall.
Flooded neighbourhood in JakartaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionIllegal well-drilling is making the Indonesian capital more vulnerable to flooding

6. Moscow

One-quarter of the world's fresh water reserves are in Russia, but the country is plagued by pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the Soviet era.
That is specifically worrying for Moscow, where the water supply is 70% dependent on surface water.
Official regulatory bodies admit that 35% to 60% of total drinking water reserves in Russia do not meet sanitary standards

7. Istanbul

According to official Turkish government figures, the country is technically in a situation of a water stress, since the per capita supply fell below 1,700 cubic metres in 2016.
Local experts have warned that the situation could worsen to water scarcity by 2030.
Dry lakeImage copyrightAFP
Image captionA 10-month long drought dried up this lake near Istanbul
In recent years, heavily populated areas like Istanbul (14 million inhabitants) have begun to experience shortages in the drier months.
The city's reservoir levels declined to less than 30 percent of capacity at the beginning of 2014.

8. Mexico City

Water shortages are nothing new for many of the 21 million inhabitants of the Mexican capital.
One in five get just a few hours from their taps a week and another 20% have running water for just part of the day.
The city imports as much as 40% of its water from distant sources but has no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater. Water losses because of problems in the pipe network are also estimated at 40%.

9. London

Of all the cities in the world, London is not the first that springs to mind when one thinks of water shortages.
The reality is very different. With an average annual rainfall of about 600mm (less than the Paris average and only about half that of New York), London draws 80% of its water from rivers (the Thames and Lea).
Burst pipe in central LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionLondon has a water waste rate of 25%
According to the Greater London Authority, the city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and "serious shortages" by 2040.
It looks likely that hosepipe bans could become more common in the future.

10. Tokyo

The Japanese capital enjoys precipitation levels similar to that of Seattle on the US west coast, which has a reputation for rain. Rainfall, however, is concentrated during just four months of the year.
That water needs to be collected, as a drier-than-expected rainy season could lead to a drought. At least 750 private and public buildings in Tokyo have rainwater collection and utilisation systems.
Home to more than 30 million people, Tokyo has a water system that depends 70% on surface water (rivers, lakes, and melted snow).
Recent investment in the pipeline infrastructure aims also to reduce waste by leakage to only 3% in the near future.

11. Miami

The US state of Florida is among the five US states most hit by rain every year. However, there is a crisis brewing in its most famous city, Miami.
An early 20th Century project to drain nearby swamps had an unforeseen result; water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the Biscayne Aquifer, the city's main source of fresh water.
Miami's sea fontImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionContamination by seawater threatens Miami's water supplies
Although the problem was detected in the 1930s, seawater still leaks in, especially because the American city has experienced faster rates of sea level rise, with water breaching underground defence barriers installed in recent decades.
Neighbouring cities are already struggling. Hallandale Beach, which is just a few miles north of Miami, had to close six of its eight wells due to saltwater intrusion.


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