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No wonder Americans are skeptical about foreign aid. They think we spend 25 times more than we actually do, they don’t know what it has accomplished, and they are fed a steady diet of reports about waste, fraud and corruption. This puts members of Congress in an awkward position. Most of them know that diplomacy and development help create jobs here at home by opening new markets abroad. They understand that we can’t keep Americans safe without helping other countries to counter terrorism, prevent nuclear proliferation and resolve conflicts peacefully. And they recognize that without U.S. assistance, poor countries will be less able to combat hunger and malnutrition, control the spread of pandemic diseases, and preserve natural resources. The problem is, members haven’t been given much in the way of data and evidence to prove it. Click here to read the rest of the article, originally posted on The Hill. _ Diana Ohlbaum is an independent consultant, co-chair of the Accountability Working Group of theModernizing Foreign Assistance Network and a principal of Turner4D, a strategic communications firm.  She is also a contributor at The Hill, where this article originally appeared. Photo from Pixabay.com.

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I’m a big fan of horror movies. The scarier the better as far as I’m concerned. One of the lessons of just about every horror movie is that you don’t turn your back on Jason/Freddy/Michael Myers just because you’ve knocked him down. He WILL get back up and he WILL come after you again. That’s a lesson the LGBT community needs to learn. The June Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law of the land was the biggest LGBT civil rights victory to date. And it certainly did knock the opponents of LGBT equality down. But they’re already back up. And they’re coming after the LGBT community again. Just this week in Houston, opponents of that city’s non-discrimination ordinance waged a dishonest and hateful repeal campaign focused on accommodations for the transgender community with the message of “no men in women’s restrooms.” The repeal was successful, passing by a nearly two-to-one margin. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, Indiana passed a so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)” that would allow denial of services to LGBT people on religious beliefs. After an enormous backlash, the law was significantly amended. But that hasn’t stopped other states from taking…

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Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis a bigger challenge to European unity than Greece’s financial woes. She reminded her own country that Germans should be proud of a post-war heritage based on the principles of dignity, human rights and the right to political asylum. Spurred on by the increasingly dire human and political costs of inadequate response, European leaders gathered in mid-September to address the refugee crisis. They should look to the environmental conservation movement to find innovative policy ideas. Debt for nature swaps were invented in the 1980s by the World Wildlife Fund. This financial instrument came about in the context of developing country debt — driven by oil shocks — and exacerbated by lender austerity requirements. Countries rich with natural resources had no capacity to protect them. Debt for Nature — a successful financing model for global security Debt for nature swaps were conceived when the human security value of conservation was becoming more apparent. Issues like atmospheric change, climate disruption and the benefits of genetic diversity have consequences for all life on Earth. The concept is simple: debt forgiveness for implementing conservation measures. The initial motivation of the debt for nature swap…

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The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington, DC on the 14th anniversary of the attack.  Photo by Mattia Bütikofer. On 9/11 2001, at the time those hijacked airplanes were smashing into the World Trade Center, I was 8 years old and had just started my 3rd year of primary school; much more interested in toys than politics.  I could never have imagined that exactly 14 years later I would be sitting on a bench at the Pentagon 9.11 Memorial with turner4D Managing Director Sid Balman. I am Swiss, working at business campaigning GmbH and I’m currently visiting our US-partner, turner4D. Americans can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on 9/11.  But also in Switzerland, many can clearly remember the day, even those who were just kids. The Swiss were shocked about the scope of the attack, and like most people around the world supported a strong response. There was support for fighting such terrorism in my circle of acquaintances, but disappointment in the way it has dragged out with mixed results and how it seems to have hardened the United States and much of the world against peaceful engagement. I’m told that the themes of American country music…

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 By Jillian Slutzker of Creative Associates International For 36 hours, nearly 20 peacebuilding experts and technologists huddled around laptops in a rush to hammer out new games, applications and tech tools to counter violent extremism as part of #PeacehackDC.  Hosted by Creative Associates International in partnership with International Alert, #PeacehackDC joined concurrent hackathons in Barcelona, Beirut and London Sept. 25 and 26 in a global effort to develop technology solutions to promote peace and mitigate violent conflict. A similar event occurred in Colombo a week earlier. Together, the hackathons tackled challenges from the global refugee and migrant crisis to countering the influence of extremists groups like ISIS, which garners more than 50,000 pro-ISIS tweets daily. “I think one of the biggest opportunities for technology and countering violent extremism is the fact that technology, mass media and other tools are already widely used by people who are extremists,” says Ayan Kishore, Senior Associate in Technology for Development at Creative. Kishore says that by using existing tools to strategically dispatch peaceful messages, “we can actually take back this media space that is being used more effectively by those who are interested in conflict and not in peace.” TACKLING TOUGH CHALLENGES Prior to…