Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - August 22 Edition

Urban Farming, Innovation, Sustainability

"Amid the bustling streets of Newark sits one of the world’s most innovative vertical farms, pioneered by AeroFarms, Inc.

AeroFarms grows over two million pounds of leafy greens each year, making it the largest indoor vertical farm on the planet. The company aims to revolutionize how we feed the planet by using innovative technologies to grow healthy, nutritious food while using dramatically less energy.

A shuttered steel warehouse on Rome Street seems like an unlikely place to grow kale, red-leaf lettuce, and other greens. Yet AeroFarms is committed to breathing new life into old and unused industrial spaces."

Justice, International Criminal Court, Islamic State

"They make an unusual team. Amal Clooney is an Oxford-educated human-rights lawyer married to a film star. Nadia Murad was born in a poor Iraqi village and once aspired to become a teacher. Clooney is tall, dazzling and so recognisable that people walk up to her in the street and tell her they love her. Murad is small, shy and avoids eye contact. Yet among her people, the Yazidis, Murad is better known and more admired than any other woman on Earth. Murad is a symbol of survival for a minority threatened with extermination. She was once a slave of Islamic State (IS). And, almost alone among former prisoners of IS, she is willing to testify publicly and repeatedly about the terrible things the jihadists did to her. 

Clooney is Murad’s lawyer, and the two women are working to bring the leaders of IS before an international court for inflicting genocide on the Yazidis. The story of their campaign is an extraordinary one: a tale of pious savagery pitted against truth, law and the soft power of celebrity. 

It begins in August 2014, when Murad was a 21-year-old student. That month, IS fighters arrived in her village, Kocho, on the Nineveh plain. They were a terrifying mob, all of them heavily armed and many speaking languages that no one in Kocho understood. 

The jihadists saw Nadia and her neighbours as the worst sort of infidels. The Yazidi faith has no holy book, but draws on a mix of Mesopotamian traditions. Yazidis revere a peacock angel that temporarily fell from God’s grace; many Muslims regard this as devil-worship. 

Estimates of how many Yazidis there are range widely, from 70,000 to 500,000, mostly in Iraq but also in Syria and Germany. IS set out to reduce that number to zero, by forced conversion or Kalashnikov."

Employment, Giving Back

"For the first 24 years of his life, Chris Rickerson's future looked dim. He grew up in poverty, with a drug-addicted mother and drug demons of his own. Facing dire consequences, he turned his life around and, in 2013, started Elite Staffing Solutions, a Wichita, Kansas-based staffing company that lifts up people who are struggling as he once did."

--As told to Sheila Marikar

Democracy, Elections, Voting

"Too many Americans don’t realize that voter suppression works, and that it has a cumulative, destructive effect on our democracy that builds with every election.

Think about the Americans who have been denied the right to vote in recent elections. The Ohioans who, in 2004, took hours off work and waited in line to vote, but had to leave before getting a chance to cast a ballot. The Texas students turned away from voting even though they brought a state-issued university ID as proof of identification. The black churchgoers in North Carolina who used to vote the Sunday before Election Day — until Sunday voting was eliminated in counties across the state. The Wisconsin voter in 2016 who brought three forms of ID to vote but was still turned away from the polls because she didn’t have a driver’s license.

Can anyone blame these voters for thinking the democratic process doesn’t include them?

These real examples happen in state after state, in election after election, and over time they make elected officials less accountable to the people they represent. These experiences increase Americans’ apathy toward the democratic process while decreasing their trust in the results of that process. They harm our credibility in the world by leading other nations to question the legitimacy of our elections.

We have a few ideas about how to fight back."

Travel, Vacation Deals

"America has a vacation problem. Or a not-taking-vacation problem, to be more precise. Last year, U.S. workers left an astounding 662 million vacation days unused, according to a report by Project: Time Off. In response, T+L has launched Operation Vacation, making it our mission to encourage everyone to use their much-needed vacation days to get away and recharge. As incentive, we're offering more than 50 exclusive deals on flights, hotels, cruises, vacation packages, and more to help your budget go a lot further. The time to book your next hard-earned getaway is now."

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