Along with direct action and other forms of resistance, a successful movement must also build new institutions based on solidarity, justice and cooperation. From small, worker-owned cooperatives to national advocacy groups, hundreds of thousands of people around the country are working to create democratic and sustainable systems that meet the basic needs of all people. Below are some organizations, tools and other resources to help you get involved creating a new world.

Featured Video:The video to the right is the trailer for the new film, Fixing the Future, highlighting effective, local practices such as community banking, worker cooperatives, local currencies and more.

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Cost Of U.S. Solar Drops 75% In Six Years, Ahead Of Federal Goal

A 250-MW solar project on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians Moapa Indian River Reservation in southern Nevada. It is the first utility-scale solar project on tribal land in the U.S. FIRST SOLAR/DOE

By Staff of E360 DIGEST – The Trump administration has announced that a federal goal to slash the cost of utility-scale solar energy to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020 has been met early. The goal, set by the Obama administration in 2011 and known as the SunShot Initiative, represents a 75 percent reduction in the cost of U.S. solar in just six years. It makes solar energy-cost competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels. The Department of Energy attributed achieving the goal so quickly to the rapidly declining cost of solar hardware, such as photovoltaic panels and mounts. And it said it will next focus its efforts on addressing “solar energy’s critical challenges of grid reliability, resilience, and storage,” according to a press release. The DOE also announced $82 million in new funding for solar research, particularly for research into “concentrating solar” — which uses mirrors to direct sunlight to generate thermal energy — and into improved grid technology. It set a new goal to reduce the cost of solar even further: 3 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2030.

China Plans To Ban Sales Of Fossil Fuel Cars Entirely

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By Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch – China’s big electric vehicle push is about to get even bigger: The country is planning to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles entirely, with regulators working currently on a timetable of when the ban will ultimately take effect, according to Bloomberg. China is the world’s largest auto market, with 28.03 million vehicles sold last year, a boost in demand of 13.7 percent vs. 2015 sales numbers. The nation has already done a lot to incentivize manufacturers to develop and sell new EVs, including allowing foreign automakers to create a third joint venture with local automakers (a standard requirement for doing business in the country for auto OEMs) so long as it’s dedicated to the creation of EVs exclusively. The government has also created a number of incentive programs for OEMs, including subsidies. This will add to its positive efforts to drive more EV sales in China with the ultimate negative condition on the other side – at some point, automakers just won’t be able to do business at all in the country if they’re still selling a mix of fossil fuel and electrified vehicles. This isn’t the first time a governing body has said it would eventually phase out the sale of traditional fuel vehicles: France said it will stop selling fossil fuel cars by 2040 in July, and the UK has committed to the same timeline for sales of those vehicles.

Hawaii Becomes First U.S. State To Go Cashless For Marijuana Sales

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By Aaron Kesel for Activist Post. Hawaiian state officials announced Tuesday that Hawaii will be the first state to require the sale of marijuana to be cashless, paid with a special debit card payment system next month. “Oct. 1 is our target date to try to go cashless as much as we can,” Iris Ikeda the state’s financial institutions commissioner, told reporters at a news conference. While marijuana is legal for medical use in Hawaii, the feds still consider it a Schedule I drug. This status has brought problems for many banks and credit unions, which is the reason why cannabis dispensaries have been cash-only. Instead of cash, customers will have to download and install CanPay, a mobile app that processes payment for medicinal marijuana shops using a Colorado-based credit Union, Safe Harbor Private Banking. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states, including California and Colorado. Now a battle begins with credit card processing companies like Visa and Mastercard who say they won’t allow their cards to be used to buy cannabis or marijuana-related products.

Single Payer Is On The National Agenda—And It’s Thanks To People’s Movements

Put People First! Pennsylvania rallies on November 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Penn. (Photo courtesy of Put People First! Pennsylvania)

By Ben Palmquist for In These Times – As Senator Bernie Sanders introduces a bill for universal, publicly financed healthcare on Wednesday, he has growing political momentum behind him. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are cosponsoring the bill, and even former Senator Max Baucus—who shut down consideration of single payer during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act—is now saying that universal healthcare is “going to happen.” These statements among leading Democratic Senators mark a potentially momentous shifting of the political winds, but most media coverage of the Senators’ statements is misplaced: It ignores the powerful corporate and ideological forces that have long driven both parties’ opposition to universal healthcare. It ignores widespread public frustration with both parties and the tectonic social and economic changes transforming American politics. It ignores how people all over the country are organizing to channel popular anger into people’s movements that are independent of both political parties. And it ignores how these movements are beginning to completely upend the politics of healthcare. Across the United States, communities are organizing for universal healthcare. One of the most innovative and dynamic campaigns is led by Put People First!

What America Would Look Like If It Guaranteed Everyone A Job

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By Dylan Matthews for Vox Magazine – Imagine if a well-paying job, with benefits and a high enough salary to pay for rent, transportation, and food, were a human right. Imagine the US federal government established a policy whereby anyone who didn’t have a job and wanted one could go into a local office for a government agency — call it the Works Progress Administration — and walk out with a regular government position paying a livable wage ($15 an hour, perhaps) and offering health, dental, and vision insurance, and retirement benefits, and child care for their kids. Different people would do different things: teaching or working for after-school programs or providing child care or building roads and mass transit or driving buses and so on. But everyone would be guaranteed a job, including during recessions. Involuntary unemployment would be a thing of the past. No one who works would be in poverty. That’s a truly radical policy idea. But it has deep roots in the Democratic Party’s past, from the New Deal’s emergency employment programs to the Humphrey-Hawkins Act, a 1970s proposal that, as originally written, would have given unemployed Americans the right to sue the government. Today, there are even some actual proposals on the table. In May, the Center for American Progress issued a report calling for a “large-scale, permanent program of public employment and infrastructure investment.” But some labor economists, even left-leaning ones, are skeptical. None of the programs, they argue, have done enough work on the details.

100 Percent Wishful Thinking: The Green-Energy Cornucopia

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By Stan Cox and Paul Cox for Counter Punch – At the People’s Climate March back last spring, all along that vast river of people, the atmosphere was electric. But electricity was also the focus of too many of the signs and banners. Yes, here and there were solid “System Change, Not Climate Change” – themed signs and banners. But the bulk of slogans on display asserted or implied that ending the climate emergency and avoiding climatic catastrophes like those that would occur a few months later—hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the mega-wildfires in the U.S. West—will be a simple matter of getting Donald Trump out of office and converting to 100-percent renewable energy. The sunshiny placards and cheery banners promising an energy cornucopia were inspired by academic studies published in the past few years purporting to show how America and the world could meet 100 percent of future energy demand with solar, wind, and other “green” generation. The biggest attention-getters have been a pair of reports published in 2015 by a team led by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, but there have been many others. A growing body of research has debunked overblown claims of a green-energy bonanza. Nevertheless, Al Gore, Bill McKibben (who recently expressed hope that Harvey’s attack on the petroleum industry in Texas will send a “wakeup call” for a 100-percent renewable energy surge), and other luminaries in the mainstream climate movement have been invigorated by reports like Jacobson’s and have embraced the 100-percent dream.

New Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Isn’t Worth The Risks, Minnesota Officials Say

Construction started this summer in Canada on Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline, meant to carry tar sands crude from Alberta through Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin. Minnesota officials are challenging the project. Credit: Marc Chalifoux/Epic Photography for the Government of Alberta

By Phil Mckenna for Inside Climate News – The Minnesota Department of Commerce recommended this week that a major tar sands oil pipeline should not be expanded and that the old, existing line should be shut down. Its reason: the state’s refineries don’t need additional crude oil, so there’s no point in taking on extra risks. The recommendation is the latest sign of opposition to fossil fuel pipelines at the state level, just as the federal government is strongly supporting them. The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s report, submitted to state regulators who will eventually decide whether or not to approve the pipeline, cites a consulting firm that determined Minnesota’s refineries are already running at peak capacity and that there’s no sign of a long-term increase in local demand for fuel. The analysis concludes that the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project, from Hardisty, in Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin, isn’t worth the risks. “In light of the serious risks and effects on the natural and socioeconomic environments of the existing Line 3 and the limited benefit that the existing Line 3 provides to Minnesota refineries, it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,” the department states. Environmental advocates said that the line might still be approved, despite the report’s conclusions.

Sometimes The Poor Make It Big. Usually They Stay Poor

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By Jill Richardson for Other Words – We all want to live in a country where all it takes is hard work and some talent for anyone to succeed. We tell ourselves that we do. We even see examples of people who “came from nothing” and ended up rich and famous. And it’s true that it sometimes happens. Sometimes a child born into poverty grows up to become the president of the United States, a multi-billionaire, or an Olympic gold medalist. Most of the time, however, they don’t. And it’s not because they’re bad, lazy, stupid, or immoral. Often it’s because of our system itself. Take our school system for a start. By funding schools with property taxes, we guarantee that the children from the richest neighborhoods go to the wealthiest schools. If we lived in neighborhoods that were economically mixed with families of all incomes, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But we don’t. Instead we have areas of very wealthy people whose children attend wonderful schools, and areas of concentrated poverty where children attend failing schools.

DOE Officially Marks SunShot’s $1 Per Watt Goal For Utility-Scale Solar

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By Julia Pyper for GTM – It’s official. The solar industry has met the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative — three years early. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released new research today that shows the average price of utility-scale solar is now under $1 per watt and below 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s higher than the record-breaking project bids we’ve seen in the U.S. and abroad in recent years. But that’s because DOE calculations for levelized cost of energy (LCOE) do not include subsidies — such as the federal Investment Tax Credit — and are based on the average climate in Kansas City, Missouri. (Note: GTM documented the sub-$1 per watt milestone earlier this year, but the department is using its own metrics.) “Our mission is to make solar affordable for all Americans, and so our goals are defined for average U.S. climates. We use Kansas City as that example,” said Becca Jones-Albertus, acting deputy director of the SunShot Initiative. “Hitting a 6 cents per kilowatt-hour target for Kansas is a more significant metric than hitting 6 cents in sunnier parts of the country.” GTM Research reported that U.S. utility-scale fixed-tilt system pricing fell below $1.00 per watt earlier this year using a different methodology.

After Generations Working In Coal, Young West Virginians Are Finding Jobs In Solar

Solar Holler founder Dan Conant, foreground, looks on at the beginning of a solar roof installation in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Credit: Jason Margolis

By Jason Margolis for PRI – Nobody from his graduating class is working in coal, says Swiger. “[They’re] honestly working in fast food, or not working at all.” Not Swiger. He has a job installing rooftop solar panels. He says his family is delighted with it. “They’re excited that I’m actually doing something different,” says Swiger. “A lot of people ain’t doing this in West Virginia, a lot of people are against it actually. A lot of people want to go back to coal. “I ain’t against it, I love solar. It’s way better than coal, I think.” Solar panels can save people money on their electricity bills and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, which fuel climate change. With battery storage, found in some home set-ups, solar can also allow people to continue to power their homes off the grid during power outages. Swiger is working as an apprentice with Solar Holler, which was founded four years ago by 32-year-old Dan Conant. Conant doesn’t see solar energy and coal at odds with each other. “The way I think about it, as a West Virginian, is that West Virginia has always been an energy state, and this is just the next step. It’s the next iteration,” says Conant. West Virginia’s economy has long been reliant on coal. Metallurgical coal, which is found in the state, is used in the steel-making process.

Report: The Road To Zero Wealth

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By Staff of Institute for Policy Studies and Prosperity Now – While households of color are projected to reach majority status by 2043, if the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed, median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053 and median Latino household wealth is projected to hit zero twenty years later. In sharp contrast, median White household wealth would climb to $137,000 by 2053. If current trends continue, by 2020 median Black and Latino households stand to lose nearly 18% and 12% of the wealth they held in 2013, respectively, while median White household wealth increases 3%. At that point–just three years from now–White households are projected to own 85 times more wealth than Black households and 68 times more wealth than Latino households. The declining wealth of households of color is already taking a significant toll on the broader economy. The nation’s overall median wealth decreased nearly 20% from 1983 to 2013 ($78,000 to $64,000—a period when Black and Latino median wealth went down and White wealth slowly went up. Even earning a middle-class income does not guarantee a family middle-class economic security, according to the report.

New Study Shows Organic Farming Traps Carbon In Soil To Combat Climate Change

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By Lela Nargi for Civil Eats – When it comes to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, keeping excess carbon out of the atmosphere is the prime target for improving the health of our planet. One of the best ways to do that is thought to be locking more of that carbon into the soil that grows our food. The scientific community has been actively debating whether organic farming methods can provide a promising solution. A 2010 paper published in the journal Ambio found that research about increased carbon sequestration due to organic farming methods was inconclusive, while a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found increased carbon sequestration in organic farm soils—though a 2013 letter in the PNAS disputed those findings, arguing that there were no carbon sequestration benefits related to organic farming. A new study from Northeastern University and nonprofit research organization The Organic Center(TOC), though, has reached a different conclusion: Soils from organic farms had 26 percent more potential for long-term carbon storage than soils from conventional farms, along with 13 percent more soil organic matter (SOM). For the study, which Civil Eats got early access to review, chemists Elham Ghabbour and Geoffrey Davies began by analyzing soil samples from over 700 conventional farms in 48 states.

Baltimore’s Push To Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis With Community Land Trusts

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters      4.8k     1.0k      Alana Semuels Aug 9, 2015   Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the number of Americans living in slums is rising at an extraordinary pace.  The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million, according to a new analysis of census data by Paul Jargowsky, a public-policy professor at Rutgers University-Camden and a fellow at The Century Foundation. That’s the highest number of Americans living in high-poverty neighborhoods ever recorded.  The development is worrying, especially since the number of people living in high-poverty areas fell 25 percent, to 7.2 million from 9.6 million, between 1990 and 2000. Back then, concentrated poverty was declining in part because the economy was booming. The Earned Income Tax Credit boosted the take-home pay for many poor families. (Studies have shown the EITC also creates a feeling of social inclusion and citizenship among low-income earners.) The unemployment rate fell as low as 3.8 percent, and the first minimum wage increases in a decade made it easier for families to get by. Programs to disassemble housing projects in big cities such as Chicago and Detroit eradicated some of the most concentrated poverty in the country, Jargowsky told me.  As newly middle-class minorities moved to inner suburbs, though, the mostly white residents of those suburbs moved further away, buying up the McMansions that were being built at a rapid pace. This acceleration of white flight was especially problematic in Rust Belt towns that didn’t experience the economic boom of the mid-2000s. They were watching manufacturing and jobs move overseas. Population Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods (in millions) Source: 1990 and 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Cities such as Detroit saw continued white flight as wealthier residents moved to Oakland County and beyond, further and further away from the city’s core. They brought their tax dollars with them, leaving the city with little tax base, a struggling economy, and no resources to spend on services. More From The Next Economy      The Racial Gaps in America's Recovery     $500 Million Is a Small Price to Pay for Women's Health     A Long Road Home  Low-income residents who wanted to follow the wealthy to the suburbs would have had a difficult time. Many wealthy suburbs passed zoning ordinances that prohibited the construction of affordable-housing units or the construction of apartment buildings in general. Some mandated that houses all be detached, or are a minimum size, which essentially makes them too expensive for low-income families.  “It’s no longer legal to say, ‘We don’t want African-Americans to live here,’ but you can say, ‘I’m going to make sure no one who makes less than two times the median income lives here,’” Jargowsky told me.  (Though some affordable-housing developers try to build in the suburbs, many more, especially those in the “poverty-housing industry,” advocate for building more developments in high-poverty areas to stimulate economic growth. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has a goal of investing in distressed neighborhoods, for example, has spent $14.7 billion building affordable housing units since 1980.)  Some of the cities where poverty is the most concentrated are in the Midwest and Northeast, where tens of thousands of people have headed to suburbs, and the region itself is shrinking in population. In Syracuse, New York, for example, 65 percent of the black population lived in high-poverty areas in 2013, up from 43 percent of the black population in 2000, Jargowsky found. In Detroit, 58 percent of the black population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 17 percent in 2000. And in Milwaukee, 43 percent of the Latino population lived in areas of concentrated poverty in 2013, up from 5 percent in 2000.  The number of high-poverty census tracts is also growing in many of these cities. In Detroit, the number of such tracts tripled to 184, from 51 between 2000 and 2013, as concentrated poverty spread to inner suburbs. In Syracuse, the number of high-poverty census tracts grew to 30 from 12.  Federal dollars have sometimes been used in ways that increase the concentration of poverty. Most affordable housing is built with low-income housing tax credits, which are distributed by the states. States assign the tax credits through a process in which they weigh a number of different factors including the location of proposed developments. Many states have favored projects in low-income areas, a practice that was the recent subject of a Supreme Court case known as Inclusive Communities. The Inclusive Communities Project argued, in the case, that the way Texas allocated tax credits was discriminatory, since 93 percent of tax credit units in Dallas are located in census tracts that are more than 50 percent minority, and are predominantly poor. The Supreme Court agreed in June, allowing groups to bring lawsuits about such segregation.  Finally, Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8, are meant to give poor families better options about where they live, but are instead confining the poor to the few neighborhoods where landlords will accept the voucher.  All of these developments have increased the racial concentration of poverty, especially in mid-sized American cities.  “These policies build a durable architecture of segregation that ensures that racial segregation and the concentration of poverty is entrenched for years to come,” Jargowsky writes. Highest Black Concentration of Poverty Sources: 2000 Census, 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 ACS/The Century Foundation  Some recent developments, including the Supreme Court decision and a new HUD rule that requires regions to think more carefully about segregation, are positive signs. But Jargowsky says deeper policy prescriptions are needed to reduce these depressing trends in concentrated poverty. First, he says, federal and state governments must ensure that new suburban developments aren’t built more quickly than the metropolitan region is growing, so that such developments don’t create a population vacuum in cities and inner suburbs. Second, every city and town must ensure that new housing construction reflects the income distribution of the metropolitan area, he said, so that more housing is available to people of all incomes in different parts of town.  “If we are serious about breaking down spatial inequality,” Jargowsky writes, “We have to overcome our political gridlock and chart a new course toward a more geographically inclusive society.”  That’s important for the future of our cities, but also for our nation, Jargowsky said. His research shows that poor children are more likely to live in high-poverty areas than are poor adults—28 percent of poor black children live in high-poverty areas, for example, compared to 24 percent of poor black adults. Overall, 16.5 percent of poor children live in high-poverty areas, compared to 13.8 percent of poor adults.  A child who grows up in a high-poverty area is likely to be poor when he grows up. Research out this year from Harvard shows that children who moved from poor areas to more affluent areas had higher incomes and better educational achievements than those who stayed in poor areas. Without dramatic changes, today’s children who live in high-poverty areas are going to grow up to be poor, too.      Jump to Comments   About the Author      Alana Semuels is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.         Twitter   by Taboola Sponsored Links AROUND THE WEB 8 Signs You May Have AfibWebMD 19 Common Habits That Will Destroy TeethWedMD 8 Bags Every Man Should Own Macy's Top 20 Worst Snacks to Avoid at All CostsWorld Lifestyle Most Popular      The Coddling of the American Mind         Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt      Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.     Continue Reading     When Success Leads to Failure         Jessica Lahey      I’ve known the mother sitting in front of me at this parent-teacher conference for years, and we have been through a lot together. I have taught three of her children, and I like to think we’ve even become friends during our time together. She’s a conscientious mother who obviously loves her children with all of her heart. I’ve always been honest with her about their strengths and weaknesses, and I think she trusts me to tell her the truth. But when she hits me with the concern that’s been bothering her for a while, all I can do is nod, and stall for time.      “Marianna’s grades are fine; I’m not worried about that, but she just doesn’t seem to love learning anymore.”     Continue Reading     A Matter of Black Lives         Jeffrey Goldberg      In late april of 1994, a 9-year-old African American boy from the broken-down Central City neighborhood of New Orleans wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, asking him to bring about an end to the violence that was devastating his city.      “Dear Mr. Clinton,” James Darby began. “I want you to stop the killing in the city. People is dead and I think that somebody might kill me. So would you please stop the people from deading. I’m asking you nicely to stop it. I know you can do it. Do it. I now you could.” He signed the letter, “Your friend, James.”      Ten days later, on May 8, Mother’s Day, Darby was visiting A. L. Davis Park with several members of his family. The park, named after Abraham Lincoln Davis, the first African American to sit on the New Orleans city council, is a compact rectangle of basketball courts and grass patches situated directly across the street from a public-housing complex.     Continue Reading     With Donald Trump's Rise, Fox News Reaps What It Sows         Conor Friedersdorf      Fox News’ coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign has resembled the treatment that the real estate tycoon and reality TV star receives in “the mainstream media.” It is unlike the network’s coverage of unqualified populist favorites from past election cycles, like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. And populists are taking notice.      Last week’s debate is a fine illustration.      Immediately after the candidates left the stage in Cleveland, Ohio, Fox News moderator and anchor Megyn Kelly threw the network’s coverage over to pollster Frank Luntz, who stood in a room with a small group of voters gathered to offer their impressions. “Megyn, we’re about to make some news tonight,” he said as he turned to the panel. His meaning quickly became apparent: Under questioning, most of the assembled voters revealed that they felt unfavorably about Trump’s performance.     Continue Reading     That’s Not Funny!         Caitlin Flanagan      Three comics sat around a café table in the chilly atrium of the Minneapolis Convention Center, talking about how to create the cleanest possible set. “Don’t do what’s in your gut,” Zoltan Kaszas said. “Better safe than sorry,” Chinedu Unaka offered. Feraz Ozel mused about the first time he’d ever done stand-up: three minutes on giving his girlfriend herpes and banging his grandma. That was out.      This was not a case of professionals approaching a technical problem as an intellectual exercise. Money was riding on the answer. They had come to Minneapolis in the middle of a brutal winter for the annual convention of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), to sell themselves and their comedy on the college circuit. Representatives of more than 350 colleges had come as well, to book comics, musicians, sword swallowers, unicyclists, magicians, hypnotists, slam poets, and every kind of boat act, inspirational speaker, and one-trick pony you could imagine for the next academic year.     Continue Reading     Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters         Jeffrey Goldberg      A few days ago, I spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the politics of the Iran deal (you can find the full interview here), and at one point in our conversation I put to Kerry what I thought was—to be honest—something of a gimme question: “Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?”      Kerry responded provocatively—provocatively, that is, if you understand Iranian leaders, and in particular the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the way I understand them: as people theologically committed to the destruction of Israel. Quotes such as this one from Khamenei help lead me to this conclusion: “This barbaric, wolflike, and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” The supreme leader does not specialize in nuance. (Here is a long list of statements made by Iranian leaders concerning their desire to bring about an end to Jewish sovereignty in any part of the ancestral Jewish homeland.)     Continue Reading     Life's Stories         Julie Beck      In Paul Murray's novel Skippy Dies, there’s a point where the main character, Howard, has an existential crisis.“‘It’s just not how I expected my life would be,'" he says.      “‘What did you expect?’” a friend responds.      “Howard ponders this. ‘I suppose—this sounds stupid, but I suppose I thought there’d be more of a narrative arc.’”      But it's not stupid at all. Though perhaps the facts of someone’s life, presented end to end, wouldn't much resemble a narrative to the outside observer, the way people choose to tell the stories of their lives, to others and—crucially—to themselves, almost always does have a narrative arc. In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you're on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are.     Continue Reading     What the Iran-Deal Debate Is Like in Iran         Abbas Milani and Michael McFaul      The nuclear deal with Iran has sparked a vigorous debate not only in the United States, but in Iran as well. The discussion of the agreement among Iranians at times echoes the American discussion, but is also much deeper and wider. Reports in Iranian media, as well as our own correspondence and conversations with dozens of Iranians, both in the country and in exile, reveal a public dialogue that stretches beyond the details of the agreement to include the very future of Iran. And it seems that everyone from the supreme leader to the Iranian American executive in Silicon Valley, from the taxi driver in Isfahan to the dissident from Evin Prison, is engaged. The coalitions for and against the deal tend to correlate closely with those for and against internal political reform and normalized relations with the West.     Continue Reading     Could the Internet Age See Another David Foster Wallace?         Megan Garber      Here is an extremely incomplete list of things I would like to know David Foster Wallace’s thoughts on:      selfie sticks     man buns     farmers’ markets     the Starbucks S’mores Frappuccino®     The League     professional football     college football     trigger warnings     Ferguson     media coverage of Ferguson     Netflix     Breaking Bad     Uber     Mars One     Donald Trump     Facebook     the “personal brand”     Ashley Madison     Instagram     Snapchat     the film The End of the Tour      I would especially love to know his thoughts on that last one, since the movie, being pretty much a filmic love letter to the late author, could well fall into the category of Praise That Made David Foster Wallace Itchy and Squirmy. The conventional wisdom about Wallace—an idea put forth during the nascent days of his fame, and reiterated in a good portion of the approximately 512,246 essays and novels and Tumblr posts that came as that fame crystallized into something closer to canonization—is that Wallace, the person, was extremely ambivalent about Wallace, the persona. He wanted, on the one hand, to join the ranks of DeLillo and Pynchon and Updike (though the latter he famously denigrated as “just a penis with a thesaurus”). But the fame that accompanied literary achievement during the time he was doing all his achieving made him, he insisted, “want to become a recluse.” There’s being celebrated, and then there’s celebrity. Celebrity, in all its tentacular forms, was one of the things Wallace’s work most consistently mocked.     Continue Reading     How White Users Made Heroin a Public-Health Problem         Andrew Cohen      This piece was reported through The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal-justice system.      Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade.  Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal that the number of first-time heroin users doubled from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.      These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across the country to implement bold new policies and practices designed to reduce the harm of heroin use. Although there has been some push to enhance criminal sanctions to combat the surge, much of the institutional reaction to the renewed popularity of the drug has sounded in the realm of medicine, not law.     Continue Reading     The Wanderlust of #Vanlife         Sam Price-Waldman      How an Instagram hashtag inspired a movement     Watch Video     The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today         Chris Heller      A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.     Watch Video     The Creator of The Wire Explains the War on Drugs' Effect on Police         Nadine Ajaka      David Simon on America's failed policies and the decline of law enforcement     Watch Video  Subscribe  Get 10 issues a year and save 65% off the cover price. 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By Kevon Paynter for Yes! Magazine – Men and women huddle inside the St. John’s United Methodist Church in central Baltimore. The air conditioning in the church is inefficient on a day when the outside temperature is over 100 degrees. Cold water bottles get distributed, along with paper towels to wipe off sweat. Many of these people are homeless or formerly homeless. Others are longtime residents struggling to afford their rent, and they are here to advocate for an affordable housing solution that could bring relief as well as fix Baltimore’s blight. They want Mayor Catherine Pugh to dedicate $40 million in the upcoming budget to fund community land trusts. Across the U.S., cities struggle with expanding income inequality and tight housing markets that drive up rent. These factors result in an extreme shortage of affordable housing. For every 100 low-income renters, there are 31 affordable units, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Over the years, solutions have emerged. In Burlington, Vermont, and Boston, for example, community ownership of land through nonprofit community land trusts has had decades of success turning vacant lots into affordable housing.

Venezuela's Maduro Says Will Shun U.S. Dollar In Favor Of Yuan

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a national broadcast at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, February 16, 2014.(Reuters / Miraflores Palace)

By Staff of Reuters – CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday his cash-strapped country would seek to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week, using the weakest of two official foreign exchange regimes and a basket of currencies. Maduro was refering to Venezuela’s “DICOM” official exchange rate in which the dollar buys 3,345 bolivars, according to the central bank. At the strongest official rate, one dollar buys just 10 bolivars, but on the black market the dollar fetches 20,193 bolivars, a spread versus the official rate that economists say has fostered corruption. A thousand dollars of local currency bought when Maduro came to power in 2013 would now be worth $1.20. “Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in an hours-long address to a new legislative superbody, without providing details of the new mechanism. “If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro said. The oil-rich nation is undergoing a major economic and social crisis, with millions suffering food and medicine shortages and what is believed to be the world’s highest inflation.

China Readies Yuan-Priced Crude Oil Benchmark Backed By Gold

A service truck drives past an oil well in North Dakota, November 2014.
REUTERS/ANDREW CULLEN

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oil Price – The world’s top oil importer, China, is preparing to launch a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan and convertible into gold, potentially creating the most important Asian oil benchmark and allowing oil exporters to bypass U.S.-dollar denominated benchmarks by trading in yuan, Nikkei Asian Review reports. The crude oil futures will be the first commodity contract in China open to foreign investment funds, trading houses, and oil firms. The circumvention of U.S. dollar trade could allow oil exporters such as Russia and Iran, for example, to bypass U.S. sanctions by trading in yuan, according to Nikkei Asian Review. To make the yuan-denominated contract more attractive, China plans the yuan to be fully convertible in gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges. Last month, the Shanghai Futures Exchange and its subsidiary Shanghai International Energy Exchange, INE, successfully completed four tests in production environment for the crude oil futures, and the exchange continues with preparatory works for the listing of crude oil futures, aiming for the launch by the end of this year. ? “The rules of the global oil game may begin to change enormously,” Luke Gromen, founder of U.S.-based macroeconomic research company FFTT, told Nikkei Asia Review.